Sunday, October 28, 2012

Interaction Design Methods Midterm Portfolio

I'm currently taking a class on Interaction Design Methods (IAT333) and we just finished our midterm portfolio at

We're currently researching a prenatal yoga group as our interaction research participants.
We have launched cultural probes, and through analysis of these probes, created personas and foundation sheets. Exploring these personas, our team developed informances and journey frameworks to try and understand possible problems that exist in our participant's lives.

Our current problem definition is about reducing back pain and improving mobility for these pregnant (and also post-partum!) soon-to-be mothers.

Our team had some fun especially with convincing one of our team to pretend to be pregnant and act out a scenario :D

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Haema is a project designed to create critical reflection. It plays on people's sense of safety and security with the sight of blood. This is a speculative design meant to create a conflict in understanding. For the person wearing the shirt, they are concerned about the welfare of someone in their family while bystanders are concerned about the health of the person appearing to be bleeding.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The xx - Coexist

The xx's (iTunes) new album Coexist comes out September 11th, 2012. I love their music. They are classified as alternative, but I think it's a little more like ambient alternative with their very chill, soothing melodies.
Definitely check out their eponymous debut album, The xx, as well if you like what you hear.

If you have a chance take a listen and take a look at their data visualization that tracks how their music is shared. The visualization is pretty cool at seeing how the hmm... not the social network, but rather the human network of people sharing between distant places.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thinking about thinking

I just recently finished reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. I'm probably shifting away from cognitive psychology books for the next little while as this has been a very comprehensive read on the history and very thorough breakdown of the current state of cognitive psych and behavioural economics.

This is a dense read in terms of the amount of content but is a good book for those wanting an in-depth tour of the landscape of thinking, decision making, rationality, memory and the far reaching consequences it has in daily life, economics, politics, and the understanding (or at least the observation of how) people make their decisions.

Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in the field of psychology and economics and of the previous books I've talked about before. There is a tendency for these books to eventually cover the same concepts and cases, but this is a very thorough guide for those who are not as familiarly versed with the pitfalls of human decision making. Even if you are well read in this field, it's always good to read about the subject from one of the foremost experts in the field. Daniel Kahneman is one of the world's leading psychologists, a Nobel prize winner in economics for his work on prospect theory (which is definitely covered in the book!), and considered as the father of behavioural economics.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

minimalMarvel - Avengers

I'm enjoying the recent discoveries of illustrations, posters and wallpapers of minimalistic superhero + typography posters, the Avengers recreated as medieval knights and adorable illustrations, half-faced portraits, splatter paintings, art deco posters.

I'm a big Marvel fan and with limited illustration skills I relied more heavily on typography principles.
This is an exploration in type, and more specifically colour, as each character in the Marvel (or hero) universe has a very particular colour scheme. Since I'm just having fun, I'm mostly trying out different art styles which is really fun trying to learn and change really rapidly between each work.

This set is specifically the Avengers as I just finished watching the movie (which I thought was amazing!) as well as the first season of the animated 2010 series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

I'm looking forward to doing more of these. =D

minimalMarvel - Avengers

(I know there's still a lot of Avengers to go, and that I haven't done Hulk and Black Panther for part of the original Avengers, but I need a break for now and I just want to show what I've finished).

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Typographical Kind of Day

PBS Off Book
I am really starting to fall in love with PBS' Off Book (@PBSoffbook) series and the different topics they cover. Here are a few of the more interesting ones that are typography-related.

Books on Typography

This list of 10 Essential Books on Typography by Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings (which is one of my favourite sites for learning and overall good stuff) is a good list for typography fans and enthusiasts. One of the recommendations listed is Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton. I have to admit it's one of my beloved typography books especially because it was the required textbook for my first graphic design course. I highly recommend it as the first book for those just starting to learn typography or graphic design! =D

Superhero Typographic Classifications
[image from Behance]

Matthew Olin showed his project, Superhero Typographic Classifications, at his MFA Thesis Exhibition in Dec 2011 with a series of typographic posters and correlating classifications of typefaces with specific superheroes relating characteristics between both to let people connect the qualities and drawing the similarities within the paired relations.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Introversion Follow-up: Myths

I just saw a tweet about this article: 10 Myths About Introverts. It's highly relevant to my previous post and it references a book that I want to check out called The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Laney, Psy. D.

The title of the book makes the allusion to my point in the previous post of how societal norms is an extroverted world. I'm glad I looked this book up on Amazon though as one of the comments has given potential future avenues of research into discovering different types of introverts.

Monday, July 02, 2012


Take a look at this TED video of Susan Cain on Quiet, which I recommend watching first, and then read the book afterwards if you're still interested on this topic of introversion.

If you're still interested, this leadership talk at Google dives into her research a little bit more.

by Susan Cain []

I love this book. Cain has enlightened me on how people have internalized the values of extroversion and society-driven expectations that everyone should have an outgoing personality. Society has given rise to the outspoken individual usually becoming the ones rising to roles of leadership regardless if they are the ones who have the best ideas or qualifications. For me, this drives at the underlying concept beneath the social norms that drives me to be more talkative even when I don't feel comfortable doing so, and wonder why it's driving me to do so after the fact.

Introversion and extroversion is commonly stereotyped as the only two polar personality types, but Quiet delves into the deeper discussion of exploring the personality attribute as a spectrum. It's given me a better understanding of myself and where I fall in the spectrum and allowed a flash of insight into why I feel like I fluctuate between the two opposites (and rather how it's moving in between different points in the spectrum). Identifying who we are as individuals on this spectrum is critical to comprehending ourselves in forming our identity, and after doing so, allows for strategy in putting ourselves in the optimal environment with the appropriate amount of stimulation. (The idea of stimulation is explained in the book of how introverts/extroverts require different amounts of stimulation).

I have learned some considerations that I will apply into my future relationships in dealing with people as this has allowed me to open my mind in understanding how people function. What I will take most is to apply this knowledge when dealing with group dynamics and making sure to listen even more carefully to those who are quiet and making sure that the volume of those who like to talk isn't forcing me to only listen to them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Room Cleaning

I'm cleaning out my room and I found some notes from previous classes lying around. One particular set of notes from my VISA110 class in March of 06 had some interesting historical figures I'm looking into especially regarding perspective and visual theory.
(Alsom a web resource on the basics on the forms of perspective)

Edward Muybridge
Photographer who pioneered work on filming animal locomotion and who developed the projector technology of a Zoopraxiscope. This is THE precursor, and also the retro version of an animated GIF.

This reminds me of the zoetrope, more specifically a 3D zoetrope (where it spins and it looks like it's animating) and one of the most awesome ones that I had the luck of being able to see at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim last month.

Filippo Brunelleschi
Architect and engineer in the Italian Renaissance. Discovered and demonstrated one-point perspective, and the concept of linear perspective. He also designed the dome for the Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral or Basilica di Santa Maria del Flore).

One of the first great painters of the Italian Renaissance and created the first one-point perspective painting (I think), the Holy Trinity in 1427.

Cibachrome / ilfochrome
Photographic process that reproduces large transparencies (film transparencies) on photographic paper

Monday, June 18, 2012

To do what you love

Motivational words from Michael Bierut, Graphic Designer. Partner at Pentagram.

On top of getting a great insight into the design process at a really high level of someone established in the industry. His words gave me motivation to continue my search to find what I love.

"If you do what you love and you find other people who do what they love, you'll be successful, you'll do great work, chances are you'll actually make money miraculously enough. If you combine that with a bit of egotism and a taste for the spotlight you could also become famous. But definitely I promise you'll be happy"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Psychological Books

I'm always interested in understanding perception and how people come to their decisions, rational or not. Having knowledge of how human psychology operates gives me a better perspective on addressing these needs. Also, it's just cool to understand how people tick. =D

I have recently read some books on the subject that have really helped me gain better insight into understanding the processes that our brain progresses through in making a decision, as well as how to create subtle cues in order to influence a person in making a choice.

Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness
by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

This book and website ( is focused on behavioural economics. This topic is somewhat controversial when it is applied in practice, a recent example of this is the recent ban of soda drinks of over 16 ounces in New York City. This is related to the portion sizes that consumers are given. People behave in very odd ways when given options regarding food. The book has a chapter on mindless choosing that deals with the topic and specifically on a case where the size of the container of the food influences the behaviour of how much people will believe they should eat/drink, regardless of how hungry the person actually is. This is correlated to the option at any fast food outlet where having the option of having a larger sized meal is a small cost, and most people will tend to choose it just because the perceived value is too much of a deal to pass up.

I could go on regarding all the topics in this book, but I think you should read this book for yourself first.

A dive into the decision-making process and a dip into neuroscience to discern the processes and the differences between our emotional brain and our rational brain. I am really interested in Lehrer's theory of how the mind evolves from rationality when learning something and then when enough hours have been put in to become an "expert", then the mind changes gears and shifting that learned behaviour into instinct and modifies that learning it into the emotional brain so that the thought process takes shortcuts into feelings to provide a faster option for the brain.
There is also explanation into the perils of when our brain doesn't operate properly and is fooled into making poor decisions which is also highlighted in the book below by David McRaney.

This is a good book that goes through the popular economic studies but also goes into the neuroscience of explaining how the different parts of the brain behaves and how it processes information leading the person in ultimately making their decision. It gives a general overview of the sections of the brain that are the key parts in decision making without making it overly scientific.

by David McRaney

This book is a great crash course in understanding the pitfalls of human logic. The other books I'm writing about cite the same studies but this is a more succinct guide on understanding the tricks that fool the brain. 

Fast, and easy read and I recommend reading this book first to get familiar with a lot of the economic studies that most economics books reference.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stephen Colbert on Service

I'm on a commencement speech marathon right now and I stumbled on this one by one of my favourite comedians, Stephen Colbert.

"You will truly serve only what you love. Because service is love made visible. If you love friends you will serve your friends. If you love community you will serve your community. If you love money you will serve your money. And if you love only yourself you will serve only yourself. And you will have only yourself. So no winning. Instead, try to love others and serve others and hopefully find those who will love and serve you in return."

Very humble words to remember the important things of what we should truly focus on in our lives.


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Conan O'Brien's thoughts on failure

I recently watched a video of Conan O'Brien delivering a commencement speech at Dartmouth back in June 2011. He shared some inspirational ideas and of course coupled with his personal comedy, but his perspective of having suffered a very public failure gives him a very concrete basis of his authority on being able to honestly talk about the subject and how to overcome it.

I am thankful for him for sharing his inspirational words and hope to apply his knowledge to my own shortcomings and take his advice and try to re-invent myself through those disappointments to improve myself and figure out who I truly am.

"It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It's not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention."

"No specific job or career goal defines me, and it should not define you. In 2000, I told graduates not to be afraid to fail, and I still believe that. But today I tell you whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality"

"Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring 2012 Final Projects

I'm very happy with my final projects this term. It is a relief to not have any more deadlines, but I'm also a little perplexed now not having any deadlines to keep me running to school every day. =P

Here are a few of my final project highlights:

Fiori (IAT 337 - Representation and Fabrication)
A fan that mimics the behaviour of a Christmas Tree Worm that retracts when it senses a nearby organism. The Fiori project website contains process and progress documentation and the final project video. Our prototype required complicated mechanical concepts that none of us were familiar with and required some deep thinking and a few suggestions from the professor. We were happy we were able to finish our prototype and get it fully working with the desired behaviour.

Parts were 3d printed, modelled in SolidWorks with the motion powered by one DC motor, and one servo motor, controlled through an Arduino microcontroller and a breadboard. The behaviour is triggered from a Sharp IR Sensor. The rotational motion is also aided with a bearing holding the rotational shaft. The housing is laser-cut acrylic and bended. Blades are cut from plastic with clothing fasteners and thumbtacks held in place, with the retraction being applied from pulling monofilament wire attached at the end of the blades/petals.

Props to the rest of Team Fiori (Jessica Fan, Joyce Lu, Joyce Wong)
Poster - Project Description

Poster - Multi Configurations

RED (IAT 344 - Moving Images)
Final video project narrative inspired by the micronarrative Painted Devils by Fred Chappell from Microfiction. There is a hidden subtext in this video, but it's not obvious unless you are looking for it. The last scene after the credits will give a clue. =)

Props to the rest of For Great Honor Studios (Calvin Dai, Mark Inouye, Trevor Komori)

Cohesify (IAT 334 - Interface Design)
The Cohesify interface project has been focused in this stage on a small vertical slice from the previous
iteration. Specifically, this step was about developing an implemented prototype, the choice of the specific functionality we wanted to demonstrate is the concurrent digital board interaction between the teacher and participating students.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


This has been an intense week of deadlines and the one causing the most hours of sleep deficiency for me this week was to get a submission ready for the D&AD Student Awards.

Cohesify is a digital design proposal for a future concept of a multi-screen interface in an educational environment.

Credits to the members of my team:
Team Magiq:
Jessica Fan, Jeffrey Qua, Rowan Weismiller, Ariana DeRyss Wiesblott

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mid-term update

I think I should have listened to my friend who recommended 3 courses per term. I thought I was burned out before, but every week forwards seems like I am finding a new level of burntness. haha.

IAT 337 - Representation and Fabrication
Poster for multiple configuration/product family model
I love my Bodum teapot. I love how the glass looks in my renders
Assignment 2 - Representation of a product family/multiple configurations

IAT 380 - Sound Design
Sound Design for Mass Effect 2 Trailer Clip

A re-design of the sound/audio using sound libraries for effects. The source footage is from EA/Bioware's trailer for Mass Effect 2.

IAT 344 - Moving Images
Lazarus - A video cinépoem.

This was a really odd project. I'm not entirely happy with the result, but I figured it's worth showing projects that aren't successful either.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Burn bright. Burn hot.

As I write this, I'm coughing, sick, worn down, and recovering from sleep deprivation from the last week of school deadlines. Yet, I'm quite happy with the situation as I've been able to deliver work I'm proud to put my name on. The trade-off between being satisfied with quality and work and my health isn't really a good argument I'm going to justify (because I don't really believe in it, but I do it anyway).

I've never pushed myself this much before but I'm glad I do. It also helps me understand how people who deliver amazing work achieve it. You push yourself to your limit, and then you push yourself some more. It's akin to pain. You push yourself to your pain tolerance threshold, and then you stop. You try again and realize it hurts a lot less and your threshold goes up. I realize this works the same way for success, you push yourself to do the best work possible, until you can't do it anymore, but you keep pushing how far you can go, and you realize you get stronger after every barrier. It all depends on your willingness to break through.

The only difference between success and pain, is the satisfaction of being able to have accomplished something that you have set out to do. The struggle is always worth the glory, well if it wasn't, there would be no glory. The easy things in life have no meaning. So burn bright, and burn hot. Always.

I feel like I've accomplished good work, but any feedback or critique is always appreciated. =)

IAT 337-Representation and Fabrication
Solidworks model of a kitchen object.
The assignment is on-going. About 50% done the second stage of this
Solidworks model of a Bodum Assam Teapot
(Number of actual holes reduced to deal with computer limitations)

IAT334-Interface Design

A revised email interface for a potential branded e-mail client.
Props to my partner Julia for making the Fidomail logo!

Mobile phone app prototype about post wisdom tooth surgery dental care.
This is about 75% done to make a running application. Super props to my partner Xiaojie for all the amazing graphics and sketches!

IAT 344-Moving Images (Film and Video course)
Life's Passion - a movie about a certain skater's drive and passion for the sport and his journey in crossing to a different culture. Majority of the credits have to go to my partner Trevor Komori.
(Just hoping to have the next 2 projects for this course turn out just as well.)

Life's Passion

IAT 380-Sound Design
Inhospitable. Sound design
This was a "musique concréte" piece that will need a pair of actual monitoring headphones to be able to produce some of the sounds. Mixed in ProTools, generated sounds from Logic Pro, and recorded samples using a Zoom H4N Recorder.

  Inhospitable (WAV)

Outside of my school work, I also finally updated the Metronomic widget application. It hasn't been working since the latest OS X update and so I was receiving some emails to fix it. I've given the UI a little bit of a rework.

Metronomic v1.0
Metronomic - Metronome dashboard widget
I'm also starting to plan out the changes for the next version already with requests of adding some type of light visualization, and some other features that allow for more customizability and personalization.

I'm going to go get some sleep now. Or at least try. :o

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Curiousity is life

The school term has just started and I've been reflecting on my drive to learn and keep studying. This video is a perfect explanation about how I feel, it's about the question and the journey as opposed to the destination and arriving at an answer.

One of my professors gave some sage advice during lecture. "You will forget 70 percent of what you learn one year after you are learning how to learn". I agree, that being a lifelong student, it takes me less time to learn new things and that it's about being adaptive as being a sponge as technology changes at a rapid pace and knowing about something old is not as critical as being able to learn something new.

The new school term has me learning new software again, SolidWorks for fabrication modelling, and ProTools for audio design. It's been 15 years since I started playing around with computers/programming and got on the Internet and I have been thinking about all the software and languages that I've played around with and it's a long list (from my own opinion anyway).

[Note: I first started programming when I made my first website using AOLPress to make a Megaman fan website on AOL in 1996. Yes, back when the common file format for images were still BMPs and loading a page took 10 minutes and hoped that no one would call and interrupt my modem.]

I have tried to keep the list in somewhat chronological order that I learned them in.

My giant list of software that I have used in some shape or form
Web Development: AOLPress, Macromedia/Adobe Dreamweaver, Macromedia/Adobe Flash, gcc
Graphics: MS Paint, Paint Shop Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign
Film: Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro
Audio: Goldwave, Finale, Audacity
Programming: Microsoft Visual Studio, Eclipse, MatLab
Languages: HTML, HyperCard, Pascal, JavaScript, ActionScript, CSS, C++, Scheme, Java, Perl, SQL, OpenGL, PHP
2D/3D: 3DS Max, Autodesk AutoCAD, Maya, XSI, VectorWorks, Cinema 4D

Obviously, I'm NOT an expert at all of these programs as there's no real way for me to keep up with all of them, but I still remember and understand the concepts that I've learned from trying them out. (The list probably isn't complete either because I'm sure I've forgotten some).

I should probably add Objective-C and Ruby on Rails to the Languages, but I never got a decent understanding (or a working prototype of those projects) of them.

Interpersonal Skills
I (think I) have grown a lot. I used to be someone who would never speak. (My sister has stories of her friends being amazed when I actually said hello and they jump in surprise going "Oh! He talks, he talks!")
My philosophy has always been to speak with purpose. By speaking less, when I do speak, it adds weight to the words I use (yes, I choose my words carefully so that I try to sound like I know what I'm doing).
By being quiet, I shut myself off from people, so I have to find the balance of talking too much and too little. However, I do feel much more comfortable now being social with people compared to before. Little steps.

Moving forward
I don't really believe in resolutions, new year's or otherwise. This was just a reminder for myself to think of what I have learned, of how I've learned, and how to keep continuing to learn and being happy not knowing where it may lead me. =) Cheers to curiousity and growing!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Reflections on 2011

2011 feels like it was a good year.

I was able to create some good projects and post up a revised portfolio.
I got to travel - Europe (Amsterdam, Prague, cities across Germany down the Rhine, Berlin), Canada cross-country road trip, Disneyland/Legoland + California road trip.
There were some ups and there were definitely downs, especially with choice of how to spend my time. But as with anything, I have learned something with every mistake.

There have been new avenues of possibilities that I have finally started to take upon. Taking more time to donate on creative and inspirational endeavours - volunteering and attending various conferences and events (Meshwest, TEDxVancouver, Creative Mornings, Vancouver Startup Weekend, Vancouver Free Portrait).

Prioritizing my time to focus on subjects that interest me is always an ongoing process. I was lucky enough to run into someone at a design event and that lead to joining a meetup group of foodies. I am still working on being more pro-active taking photographs and learning how to be a better photographer. I've stepped up my game towards posting more photos on my Flickr as well as getting a pro account. Also taking photography lessons, and also signed up for another one this year.

Ending the year with a small kitchen mishap was not good in any shape or form. Hopefully the part of my thumb that I sliced off will grow back soon. =/ However, the end of the year does not end on a sour note.
I'm happy that my sister was able to come visit and celebrate Christmas and New Year's (it would have been a lot more quiet holiday season if she wasn't here). Old friends who are abroad were visiting and were nice to see again. Good friends and family for a week long food fest over the holidays has been a burden on my health but has been great for my spirits and awesome times to be had.

I have met a lot of new and interesting people and made some new friends. Here's hoping for a great 2012!