Archived entries for San Francisco

RIA’s, Accessible DHTML, Prime Rib and London

Phew, it’s been a hectic but great week. I’m off to London in a few minutes to participate in the Yahoo! Europe Web Development Conference (where I’ll be presenting and co-presenting four sessions), but I wanted to report on some of the things from this past week while they’re still fresh.

On Monday I gave a presentation to our User Experience and Design group. I work in the Presentation Platform Engineering group, and part of my job is to help bridge between Design and Engineering. (Before joining the Platform Engineering team, I worked on the Platform Design team, so I can speak both languages to some extent.)

With so much changing in interface development this year, it’s important to coordinate the creation of a new vocabulary for rich internet interfaces. I’ll write more on this in the coming weeks, but you can check out Bill Scott’s blog post for his take on my talk, where he focuses on Storyboarding Interesting Moments, a part of what I talked about.

Though all the words didn’t flow as well as they do sometimes for me, the presentation was well received and generated some excellent discussion. Larry Tesler, our SVP of UED, was one of several that had some kind words for me afterward. I would be remiss if I didn’t pass most of the credit to Eric Miraglia, a colleague and great mind who’s been instrumental in developing our vision. (More on that from Eric, here.)

On Monday night, I joined Victor Tsaran (our Accessibility Product Manager) at a casual dinner of about a dozen Bay Area accessibility folks from Adobe, Macromedia, Apple, IBM and Sun. Over Italian in San Mateo, it was a great chance to meet others addressing the needs of accessibility community. This theme continued for the rest of the week.

On Wednesday, I went to the Mozilla Foundation, for a co-presentation between IBM’s Accessibility Architect Aaron Leventhal and Yahoo!’s Victor Tsaran. They discussed the IBM/Mozilla Accessible DHTML project, first supported in the new Firefox 1.5. It’s great stuff, and will be critical as the web moves to richer interfaces.

On Friday, Aaron presented a technical overview of the capabilities to a team of our engineers, answering questions and giving guidance to engineers investigating the “Accessible DHTML” approach.

Friday night I had dinner in Pac Heights at the beautiful home of a friend of a friend, a promenient SF lawyer. The prime rib was perfectly cooked, and we laughed quite a bit. The five-course meal and case of wine took the wind from my sails so I didn’t get around to packing at all last night. As soon as I finish typing this post I need to quickly pack — clothes are almost out of the dryer, and I need to leave for the airport in about 66 minutes.

Phew…

Can’t wait to be laying on the white sands of Culebra in two weeks, away from web and world. (We went last year too, and couldn’t resist going again. I don’t have a Ph.D., but it’s still suits me fine.)

BrainJams Unconference this Saturday (2005.12.03)

If you’re in the Bay Area this weekend (December 3rd, 2005), join us at BrainJams.

BrainJams Events are open spaces where the participants decide on the content of the event within a basic framework that includes one on one knowledge networking in the morning and open discussions on how to best use emerging technologies in the afternoon.

The format for the two morning sessions borrows from Speed Dating and Knowledge Cafes: Talk one on one with somebody in your group for 5 minutes. Rotate to a new person every 5 minutes. Repeat until you’ve spoken with each person in your group. Same thing in the second hour, but with a new group of people and ideas. Before lunch you’ll have shared passions and projects with more than 20 people.

After lunch is a quick Teen Panel moderated by Noah Kagan. We’ll hear how social services, blogs and communities are being used by this demographic.

The rest of the afternoon is for three tracks of quick, user-led sessions. Not demos, but real people sharing knowledge about which tools they use, and how.

It is a chance for new comers and everyday people to learn from the “powerusers” and other real people just like them. It is a chance for people to suggest new ideas for making the tools more useful. It is a chance for us to begin gathering stories of how people actually use the tools many of us are building. … Each session will have a Jam Leader and a Podcaster/Vlogger who will help facilitate the conversation and keep it on track.

It’s looking like a very interesting day full of passionate people. Come join us.

Thanks to Chris Heuer for organizing this, what a guy.

Carpool Conversations Vol. 2

In the second installment of Carpool Conversations, we talked about the dynamics of communication and collaboration. This image is a visualization of our thoughts.

Thinking collaboratively speeds the development of an idea. Talking about a problem helps us understand the problem. Conversation and collaboration are important to the process.

Another thought we had, that’s not represented in the chart, is that “silence is a powerful tool”. It seems that speaking less sometimes gets better results, and that moments of silence are important. For one, it’s important to listen and it’s important to think, both of which are markedly more difficult to do while you’re talking. Secondly, repeating a point has the generally-unintended consequence of reducing the potency of the idea. If you keep talking after you’ve made your point, you have a tendency to stray from the initial message, thereby watering it down. At the same time, your listener doesn’t have a chance to absorb the idea. Know your message, deliver it as clearly, accurately and succinctly as possible, then allow it to stand on it’s own and flourish.

We didn’t get to talk too much today (no pun intended), because for some reason the traffic was sparse and we make good time north.

Stay tuned for Carpool Conversations Vol. 3.

Carpool Conversations – Trip #1

Background Information

This is the first dispatch from Carpool Conversations. I live in San Francisco, but work in Sunnyvale about 43 miles south, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The long drive sucks, but the great thing about it is that it’s an protected time to think, to reflect, to brainstorm, and to explore. There are no distractions in the car; no Internet connection and nobody popping into my cube.

I often carpool with my friend Jon Koshi, and we have great conversations about the web, design, interface, the future, and the present. We both tend to bring complimentary sides of the same topics to the conversation. We both like to think big, and, if I do say so myself, we’re more aware than average of current events, practices, trends, and developments. Jon is a Designer by practice and I’m a technologist by practice, so we’ve got both sides covered in that regard too. (We talk politics and currents and news and life too, but this series will largely focus on technology and human beings.)

Koshi and I both believe in words and word smithing. We believe that examining and designing frameworks for ideas to operate within creates stronger ideas while helping to vet the root concepts. We like to discuss nuance and subtle distinctions, and in the process gain a deeper understanding.

I’m writing this from the road right now. I’d like to resist editing too much, and instead share the thoughts as they appear in the carpool. Hopefully this will be on interest to some of my good readers.

And with that, I can’t resist saying, “start your engines!”.

Casual Gaming

At last week’s Mobile Monday, which I attended, Anita Wilhelm (aka MobileGirl) presented a mobile-based game her startup is working on:

Caterpillar Mobile’s current product is a cameraphone game called Zooke. Zooke allows its members to create challenges for all members or only members of an immediate social circle. You might be on a mission to find the best George Bush bumper sticker in Berkeley and have other game players rate your findings. It is a community-driven reality play experience that makes everyone’s day a little more exciting with minimal effort.

I liked the idea of casual gaming, the idea that you can have an experience in short segments while you’re going about your normal routine. I’m also interested that this represents a shift from highly time-intensive games. Well, she follows up that with a new post last week discussing Casual Gaming and thinking about an article of the same title by Tom Hume.

He captures the essence of an important shift from hard core gaming experiences to engaging play experiences perfectly! Allowing players to engage lightly in the experience throughout their daily lives is essential to creating something compelling and addictive to be used on a mobile device. Allowing players light weight games or frameworks that they can think about while on the move, but not have to interact with continually in the virtual world is essential. Giving them tools which allow them to explore and play at their will fits the affordances of the mobile device.

I remember the days of having hours and hours to play video games, but to be honest, it’s a pretty distant memory. It’s cool to see people working to bring games and playing back into the lives of otherwise distracted and busy peeps like me. It’s also fun to watch a new medium like Mobile develop.

Cooking Thai


cooking-thai-04
Originally uploaded by natekoechley.

On Thursday night, Aimee invited a bunch of her friends over for dinner. The dinner was multi-purpose: celebrating her that-day completion of the last application to grad school; a housewarming party for her friends who hadn’t seen our home; and a going away party, as she’s leaving Monday night for about a month in South East Asia.

13 photos in Flickr set




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