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My usability blog

Just a reminder:

I have a blog about usability and design called The Mythical User. If you work in software development at all, or if you just enjoy computers and interfaces, you should read it. Because I said so.

Roxor

Today, I rode my bike to work.


It is only 2 miles, but it was awesome.

Montreal, day 3

Let me just say, that I seem to function very well on 3 hours of sleep a night, but it makes mornings... HELL. Inertia is a b@#$!

Friday morning, Jo had to be to a panel before I did, so he went off in search of food before I even left the room. This left me to wander about a foreign city all my myself, for the first time ever.
I was delighted.

Underneath our hotel is a subterranean shopping mall. I ordered a bagel and coffee from one of the coffee shops in its food court, and behind me in line was the most distinctive human being I've ever seen. Imagine Lurch, from the addams family, and his facial features. Now, make him only 6 feet tall, and make his head twice the size it should be. Give him a very prounounced, angled jawline which makes his face very long, and shorten his legs. Hand him a cane, and you have this man.
I wanted to stare at him, and take in all of his features. He was beautiful, in a way that I can't really do justice to on my 5th day of 3 or fewer hours of sleep. He was unique, almost inhuman.
He and I chatted a bit, exchanging some pleasantries and laughs. Like everyone else here, he was very kind and warm. I walked away wanting very much to take a photo of him, but not willing to make him feel uncomfortable.

I had heard that you could get to the convention center from our hotel via underground tunnels, so I set out in search of them. The shopping mall had great signage, like everything else here, and I soon found myself in a network of exquisite tunnels. Unlike american tunnels, which are arrow-straight, usually have plain white tiled walls, stark ceilings and sometimes a mildly interesting floor, these tunnels were gentle S-curves. The walls were brick and stone in exquisite patterns, and the ceiling and floor were works of art too.
At the end of the tunnel, I found an escalator, but no signs to tell me what was at the top. As seems to be my wont while travelling, I hopped on and eagerly waited for what I'd see next.
And I loved it.
I stepped off into an outdoor street, indoors. High above me there was a glass roof, and the street around me looked like it had been plucked from the early 1800s, france, and transplanted into some futuristic museum. I literally expected to see flying cars outside the glass above me. The architecture was gorgeous - both the modern and the antique.
This city knows how to blend the old and the new harmoniously.

I took a photograph of a monument which is a slice of the berlin wall, like a cake someone has lifted onto the plate of this continent.

Panels were, again, amazing. Eoin Colfer failed to show for his signing, disappointing several children who waited in line, and my daughter, for whom I was FIRST in line. No cancellation, just disappearing Colfer. *frown* I hope he's uninjured, and if he's uninjured, I hope he's ashamed of himself.
Neil Gaiman was charming, kind and delightful. He paid special attention to the children who came to see him, and I thought that was fantastic. He drew me a tombstone.
Larry Niven was very kind, but he gave me a really long look I couldn't interpret.
George R. R. Martin might possibly be the warmest, gentlest person on the planet, from what I can tell. His eyes sparkle and he's got a very calming presence. I got to chat with him a bit at the Brit Party, and he invited us to his party tonight. He took the time to say goodbye to me before he left and very earnestly ask if we were going to join him. In my opinion, he's the star of the show so far. :D

I met a venerable old gentleman named Dave Kyle, while waiting for Colfer. Mr. Kyle is 90 years old, but doesn't look above his early seventies. He has been in the science fiction community since day one, and has met all of the greats. He talked to me for a little over an hour, telling me stories of his life and of Asimov, past world cons, etc. Mr. Kyle was kind enough to tell me I'm a good listener, but to be honest with you I could have sat and listened to him for days on end. I was instantly charmed by him.

I have learned that Montreal has a thriving social dance community. Every day, I've been invited out to one of the social dance spots. It seems to be primarily swing, of all sorts - and I'm hoping I'll get a chance to go at least once.

In the middle of the day, I was walking back to our hotel above ground. A gentleman stopped me and said something to me in French, to which I responded (in french) that I don't speak french and I was very sorry. He flagged down a passer-by to translate for me, and she said "He is telling you to have a wonderful day and keep that smile because it's beautiful." I stammered out a quick "merci, senor" and then collapsed into a giggle fest. Luckily, he spoke spanish and was highly amused as well.

There are more stories, but if I tell them all, I'll never make it to the awesome panel I want to make it to in 50 minutes. So I'm off to dress and head out for another day of Quebecois adventures.

Montreal, day 2

Today, the only part of Montreal I saw was the three blocks between the hotel and the convention center.

I did make an observation - here, every single business has both trash and recycle cans. In the middle of the mall, there are trash and recycle cans. It's fantastic, just a whole culture that has completely embraced a subtle sort of environmentalism.
Sure, they consume as much as we do, but the only places you really ever see recycle and trash bins separate is San Francisco. Here, it's everywhere.

Also, this city is structured for bicycling. Bicycle lanes are separated from the street with a little concrete median. There are hitching posts for bicycles all along all the sidewalks, and there are big pads of rental bikes - you pay $5 and you can rent the bike all day. Then you just slip it back into the nearest pad when you're done. It's like netflix with wheels.

The convention center is beautiful. It's large, and airy, and full of modern art. The light play is fantastic. I hope to get some photos of it tomorrow.

Today there were several writing panels, including a brainstorming panel which inspired several new plots in me. I've met people from all over the world, all charming and friendly. Tomorrow, the schedule becomes hell. There are at least four good writing panels in EVERY time slot. Why can't they repeat panels so I can see everything I want to see?

During opening ceremonies, I found myself thinking "There's a whole WEEK left! I get to do writerly stuff for an entire freakin' week! This is only DAY ONE!"
And there was glee. Because this is the amazing, folks. There are so many creative, clever people here.

Tomorrow, there are a few signings to attend, many writing panels, and much schmoozing to do.

Montreal, day 1

Although I'm groggy from lack of sleep, and worn out from the past few days, I have been able to observe some interesting things on my first day in Montreal.

Our plane was delayed more than two hours. I only got 1.5 hours of sleep last night, so I was a ZOMBIE in the airport. I ended up curling up on the floor and laying there with my eyes closed, listening to everyone talking around me.

When we finally got in, it was already night here. I got to deposit my bags in the hotel room, and then I was whisked away on a brit fan pub crawl. That was an adventure.

I have observed:

  • Montreal is an interesting mix - turn of the century french architecture dominated by shining, gleaming skyscrapers. It's all just sort of jumbled together, at least in the area where our hotel is.
  • The primary language here is french. I had trois ans of french in high school but I can barely scrape together a sil vous plait. They do seem to appreciate when I try, though.
  • In one of the pubs, I had to go to the restroom. There were two doors: F and H. No diagrams. I kind of stood there for a bit, mostly sure that it was Femmes and Hommes, but REALLY not wanting to be wrong. Then I closed my eyes and opened the F door. Nobody hollered, so I was home safe.
  • unlike Mazatlan, Montreal seems to be a very international city. There's food from every corner of the globe, all over the place. I'm not finding any trouble with vegetarian options - even the pubs have veggie burgers. You'd think they were a big city or somethin'.
  • Brits can hold their liquor.


I'm wiped. I'm going to sleep, so I can MAYBE string two coherent words together tomorrow and pay attention to panels.

Be good to each other.

Jo Loves Me

I have incontrovertible proof that Jo loves me.

Jo lives in a bad neighborhood. Really bad, as in people getting shot in the street bad. Multiple incidences bad.

Around one am Friday night, Jo put clothes on and walked down to the only open liquor store so that he could buy me chocolate because I was having a craving. He walked past drug dealers who were talking about "only got one pound, gotta get some more". There were FOUR cops in the liquor store, just watching people.

Jo put his life in peril to get me chocolate in the middle of the night. He ran the gauntlet for me.

He loves me! He really loves me!

Kayla hilarity

In this age of internet, Kayla can easily find things online, but she's never actually used a phone book. We had her look up a store in the yellow pages, for the experience. Turns out the Yellow Pages are highly unintuitive. However, we finally found the store she wanted.

Me: That's the one, call that number.
Kayla: (drawing finger across the dotted lines) No, it's telling me to go to another page. 574 through 4,876
Me: What? That's a huge section. Let me see.
Jo: No, that's a phone number. 574-4876

I laughed so hard I nearly cried.

Public Service Announcement

I have a google calendar.
It is the one and only repository of my social schedule.

If you are not on it, then you and I do not have plans. Even if we discussed those plans every hour, on the hour, for the last six years. If you are not on my Google Calendar, I might make plans for that timeslot because I am distracted and overwhelmed.

So be NICE to me if I screw up and schedule something on a time when we had verbally agreed to get together. I'm nucking futs.

Moving Day

... in which I solicit the help of my friends to load my junk into a truck, unload my junk into the new house, and then eat pizza and drink (insert alcoholic or tasty beverage here).

Please?

Help me move?

Sunday, 7 June starting as early as possible. We're moving bunches of boxes beforehand, but I have a LOT of stuff, so I can't promise it'll be quick. It will, however, be fun.
I'll provide donuts for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and tasty beverages throughout the day.

Yes, I know it's Valhalla. I realize most of my friends will be there. But if you're not, and you're of sound body, please help me move my junk!

Comment if you're available. Tip your waitress, try the tofu.

Surreal Experiences and South of Hell Heat

Friday night, I had one of the most eerie and surreal experiences of my life.
In which two children are abandoned at Ancient WaysCollapse )
The rest of the weekend was hotter than hell
In which I sweat buckets before 8amCollapse )
And moving is a daunting, big ol' task.

that is all, carry on.