Posts tagged “weather”

Raffaella’s War Story: A hot day in a bank

Raffaella Roviglioni is a UX designer at usertest/lab. In this story she experiences, like the title says, a hot day in a bank!

I like planning for fieldwork as much as carrying out those plans. But if there’s one lesson I learned from my experience it’s that no matter how well you think about any detail in advance, there’s always room for problems.

During a current project with a nationwide bank the client agreed to conduct a round of interviews with employees from four different offices located between Rome and Milan.

The day of the interviews in Milan I got an early train. I was aware of the long day in front of me: four interviews in two different offices with the lunch break to be spent moving from one office to the other.

I was fully equipped with laptop, backup recording device, spare batteries, charging chords, pens, paper, water and even some food for an emergency. I thought I covered every possible glitch or obstacle given the context. After all, I was going to a bank: can you think of a more predictable, comfortable and reliable location? I couldn’t.

It was an unusually warm day of June. The temperature was above 38°C (100°F) and after the first two interviews my coworkers and I were heading to the second location, on the look-out for a quick lunch on the go. We walked from the underground to the bank for a few blocks and when we arrived everyone was pretty flushed. All I could think about was the relief of a air-conditioned office where I could start breathing again and conduct the last two interviews.

The came the surprise of the day: the air conditioning was out of order! Meanwhile, the two employees were waiting to be interviewed so we simply sat down and started with the first one.

I had memorized the guide in order to concentrate better on the interviewee without having to look at it, but during the first fifteen minutes I had serious problems concentrating. The heat was unbearable, humidity was close to 90% and my coworkers were panting all the time. I had to exercise some yoga breathing to calm down and try to detach myself from the uncomfortable situation and be able to focus on my task. I managed to get through the interview pretty well, then we moved to the second employee’s office.

He started telling us a lot of interesting information that didn’t come out in the previous interviews but at that point we were completely burnt out. It was really hard to follow up with him. Every question that came out of my mouth seemed nothing like clever to me. Luckily for us, the employee was pretty enthusiastic about the topic and basically conducted the conversation himself, giving us a number of significant insights despite our minimal interaction.

Usually the toughest field work has to do with reluctant participants or with poor planning. In this case, it was certainly not so, but still it was very hard for me to get to the end of the day. I guess those last insights were literally hard-earned!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from wstarosta] Status displays: I’ve got you labelled [The Economist] – [Evolutionary biology helps to explain why luxury branded objects, even counterfeit ones, are so appealing.] DESIGNERS of fancy apparel would like their customers to believe that wearing their creations lends an air of wealth, sophistication and high status. And it does—but not, perhaps, for the reason those designers might like to believe, namely their inherent creative genius. A new piece of research confirms what many, not least in the marketing departments of fashion houses, will long have suspected: that it is not the design itself that counts, but the label.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Future of Books. [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency] – [As usual, McSweeney's does razor-sharp mockery, but you could read this as straight-ahead prediction and it would sadly almost pass for believable] 2050: Analog Reading Will Be Digitally Simulated. As people spend more and more of time immersed in massively multi-player role-playing games, they will begin to crave some downtime. Virtual simulation worlds will start to include hideaway "libraries" you can lock yourself into. There you'll be able to climb into a virtual bath and lovingly turn the pages of a pixilated representation of one of those dog-eared tomes—reliant on old-school linear narrative— that by this time will have been made illegal in the real world. Perfectly reproduced will be the sensation of turning the pages, the crack of the spine, and even the occasional paper cut.
  • [from steve_portigal] When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? [Smithsonian Magazine] – [Fascinating cultural history] The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before WW I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out. In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart showing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. stores. In Boston, Filene’s told parents to dress boys in pink. Today’s color dictate wasn’t established until the 1940s, as a result of Americans’ preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers. “It could have gone the other way,” Paoletti says..Nowadays people just have to know the sex of a baby or young child at first glance, says Jo B. Paoletti, a historian & author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America. Thus we see a pink headband encircling the bald head of an infant girl. [Via @boingboing]
  • [from steve_portigal] In Sweden’s frigid north, auto testing is hot [SFGate] – [Obvious car companies do a ton of lab and simulation testing, but they are also big advocates of real world testing] Arjeplog, a region in northern Sweden is is important to car makers eager to optimize their vehicles for driving in extreme weather, This winter, temperatures have hovered around -4 F, making ice on the lakes consistently thick enough for driving. About 180 engineers convened at the test center at one point this season to work on making cars more fuel-efficient in cold weather and to optimize their anti-spin function. While Arjeplog is the world's largest winter testing area, rival locations include Ivalo, Finland; West Yellowstone, Mont.; Carson City, Nev.; and Millbrook, England. Francisco Carvalho, an analyst at IHS Automotive, says such tracks provide automakers with "the ultimate test for the little things they can't detect or predict in a lab." Almost 9,000 car industry officials visit Arjeplog each winter, with about 2,800 engineers working on any given day.

Happy Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a North American holiday where the time until spring is determined by whether or not a specific groundhog sees his shadow.

Like horror hosts and chocolate bars, if you grew up with a local groundhog, you probably assumed that everyone had the same one. But Wikipedia (link above) dashes that illusion by listing a number of region-specific forecasting rodents:

Punxsutawney Phil of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Wiarton Willie of Wiarton, Ontario
Staten Island Chuck of New York City, New York
General Beauregard Lee, PhD of Atlanta, Georgia
Malverne Mel and Malverne Melissa of Malverne, New York
Brandon Bob of Brandon, Manitoba
Balzac Billy of Balzac, Alberta
Shubenacadie Sam of Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia
Gary the Groundhog of Kleinburg, Ontario
Spanish Joe of Spanish, Ontario
Sir Walter Wally of Raleigh, North Carolina
Pardon Me Pete of Tampa, Florida
Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Octoraro Orphie of Quarryville, Pennsylvania
Buckeye Chuck of Marion, Ohio
Dunkirk Dave of Dunkirk, New York
French Creek Freddie of Upshur County,West Virginia
Holtsville Hal of Long Island, New York

(previously)

Snowy indicators

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Hydrants, Holland, MI

In communities where they get deep snow, fire hydrants are tagged with these red alerting devices so that snowplows don’t hit ’em and fire trucks can find ’em.

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Snowstick, Holland, MI

These sticks are used to delineate paved areas (plowable) from non-paved (non-plowable).

Interesting examples of follow-on design, where there’s a deficiency in the original design, or at least a failure to accomodate local conditions.

Yahoo! Weather Weirdness

Yahoo has a strange bug or design flaw in their logic for adding to your My Yahoo page. It’s been like this forever and I’m amazed that they haven’t bothered to fix it.

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From the My Yahoo page, the weather module lets you see your current selected cities, and also search for others. Here I’m searching for Holland, MI (where we’ll be spending the third week in December).

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Here’s the results for Holland. And in the top right is a button to add this city to my My Yahoo weather.

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But clicking that doesn’t add Holland. It takes me to a page where I can remove existing cities, or begin a completely new process to add any city I want.

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So here I have to type in Holland, again (!), and ask for search results.

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Here’s the result. Once again I have the option to add it to my My Yahoo weather.

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Only this time it actually works.

speaking gig: UXWeek 2006

I’ll be leading a session at adaptive path’s user experience week in Washington, D.C., August 14 – 17, 2006.

I’ve never been to D.C. before. The feedback I’ve got so far is mostly around the lunacy of going to D.C. in August. I don’t do well in California in August, so I guess I’m in for a humid treat with this trip.

I’m pretty stoked about the opportunity to see D.C. and to be on a slate with some pretty amazing people. Cool gig!

Snowfall stops – Central Park

I was in New York earlier this week. On Friday morning I looked out the window and saw this
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I am pretty sure it’s been several years since I had seen snow. After a while it stopped. There was quite an interesting view looking north at Central Park.
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It worked out fine for me; despite some anxiety about just doing basic stuff like getting around when weather was happening, it stopped for good once I left the hotel, and turned into a sunny day. Some annoyance with slush, but it worked out. I was amused at myself having grown up with this stuff but being so completely unsure (or to some extent, unprepared) in dealing with it.

Groundhog Day

This story lists a few groundhogs-of-note that I was not previously acquainted with…Shubenacadie Sam, Wiarton Willie (him I knew about), and Balzac Billy. Other pages mention Brandon Bob, and Staten Island Chuck and Gary the Groundhog. The man with two watches never knows what time it is?

Seriously it’s turning into one of those painted-cow-things that every city has to do now. Yuck.

Series

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