Facebook Home for an evening

Facebook Home

From the Facebook Home landing page, you can see my phone - the large one, in the back! (Source: https://www.facebook.com/home#home)

I was approached on Friday to download, install, use, and test Facebook Home as “the first to have it at AREA203 Digital” (see the original tweet). So, I did. I installed it.

Caveat: Honestly, I have Facebook but don’t interact with it as though it’s the latest and greatest platform out there. I just typically do my thing with whatever platform is suitable in the moment. I miss a lot of the experience upgrades that Facebook intends users to swoon over. But, I’m okay being out of that loop, honestly.

While I appreciate making twitter news by being the first to have a newly released, hot-off-the-press app, at the agency I work at, I really was not all that thrilled with the experience of Facebook Home. I didn’t realize it would quite literally take over my screen, the experience I’ve come to know and love as my personal Android device interface.

I lasted the evening through, but on my way home from my evening out, I uninstalled it.

Top reasons to uninstall Facebook Home:

  1. I like my Android interface better.
  2. I don’t like activating my screen to find a stranger’s facebook post and picture in full screen on my phablet.
  3. I like having control over my device, and Facebook Home took that away from me.
  4. Facebook Home caters to those who covet Facebook; it’s not nearly as important to me.
  5. I agree with Stephen Wan, who I’ve never met or known till I ran across his thoughts on Facebook Home.

I’m sure there are people who have reasons to want to use Facebook Home. But, I’m willing to be they are distracted easily by shiny objects and a screen full of strangers and status that they didn’t realize they cared so much about till now, as they are forced to see them while using their phone.

I appreciate the try, Facebook. I’m sure there will be some adopters. But, overall, I’m happy to fall off that bandwagon and get a toe smashed by the wagon wheel. I’ll live 🙂


The curse of a design mind

While it is true that I’ve hung my graphic designer gloves in the trophy case, my mind never stopped designing. I see design as a verb. In my mind, it is the continual realization of need and the process of addressing need through form and function. When something has been “designed”, ideally it means a beautiful and considerate balance between form and function has been achieved.

Since “designer” is not in any job title I have anymore, why should I care about design? Well, for me, it’s more of a curse. Curse is probably a bit too strong of a word actually, but I use it here to indicate that it is never ending in my mind. At times, design consumes me, which can conflict with more realistic priorities that need to be met.

An example of this is when I buy a perfectly good house that is in move-in condition and needs nothing done, my mind still finds things I want to improve. If I had an unlimited budget, I could accomplish so much in designing my atmosphere at home. I’m sure everyone could say that.

In some ways, this curse is in an indication to me that I was born to discover needs as they relate to form and function – I was born to design. Most of this takes place mentally and never becomes synthesized into reality. Most of it is visual, but the thought that goes into it is just as beautiful.

Kitchen cabinets are a good example. I’m a user of a kitchen. I enjoy cooking. How could the kitchen cabinets cause mental entropy in something I enjoy? Perhaps a default layout that wasn’t built around my specific needs. Or, better yet, the lack of adequate or considerate storage options which results in a messy arrangement of dishes, mixing bowls, plastic containers, etc..

The conflict emerges when I can’t afford a kitchen makeover and the realization that my current kitchen will do. To a design mind, “it will do” typically isn’t ideal or, in some cases, acceptable. I have a conscience that keeps me in check with reality. Otherwise, I’d go mad!

I’m not sure what consumes the minds of most people, nor would I probably want to know. But, I can tell you that mine is constantly striving for improvement, maybe even perfection, in things that surround me. I enjoy it for the most part. Looking at this as an arrival of understanding my actual purpose in life, this post is really a celebration that I made it as a designer. I don’t need the job title to prove that. I just need the opportunity to apply my empathetic nature in the discovery of needs and creating the solutions.




Idea: Harness the power of Google docs for personal finance

In my attempt to be uber responsible, fiscally, I get really involved in making spreadsheets and budget calendars in order to plan things to a T. So, while in my current wave of good stewardship, I started a new Excel spreadsheet, laying out my paydays with plans to pay everything as soon as I get paid and keeping up with my checkbook register in Excel. I’ve learned that if we get rid of all of our money on bills, we have no money to waste. Not always fun, but a good rule if you’re trying to avoid going negative in the ole bank account. The ability to calculate, undo, and format in Excel make it a much more efficient transaction register, versus a pencil and a paper with limited lines.

So, on to Google:
You can upload a spreadsheet from your computer to Google docs. Why is this important? Well, it makes that spreadsheet available anywhere you can safely log into your Google / Gmail account. And, if you have a significant other that you share finances with, it can be a great help to minimize duplicate efforts.

While working with my new spreadsheet in Google docs today, I found a feature called “forms”. I found this interesting, especially with my appreciation of databases and the ability to enter and store data via an interface, or “form”. So, I checked it out. This is what I found.

I created a simple three field form containing “Date”, “Description”, and “Amt”. This was very simple and self-explanitory. After saving the form, I emailed it to myself and filled it out and hit “submit”. Where did my data go? Well, turns out, if you create a Google docs “form”, Google docs creates a spreadsheet to hold your submitted data. Nice!

An added touch:
Now, since the URL to my simple little form was very long with the default Google docs created URL, I created a redirect within my own hosting account in order to shorten the URL. You may have this feature enabled in your hosting account; I have cpanel, so it was easy to find and set up. Otherwise, just bookmark your private form.

Between my husband and I, we have tested it on our Blackberry Storm phones, bookmarking it in the mobile browser for frequent use. Works like a charm. Now, as we spend money, we can post our checkbook transactions to our private spreadsheet from our mobile phones with no duplicate check book registers in our pocket. At the end of the day, I just pull up the spreadsheet and do my thing.

I accomplished making my checkbook digital, mobile, and easy to manipulate in financial efforts. I’m happy 🙂

How to give a geeky girl hot flashes

How to give a geeky girl hot flashes…
Current mood: productive
Category: Web, HTML, Tech
Many people probably can’t align with the tech stuff I’m into. But that’s okay. They aren’t above or below what I like, just bored with it. They don’t dare give so much attention to how people use things. But, for a geeky girl, it hits the spot, so to speak.

Interaction design = what I think I was invented for. If I had a million bucks, I would probably buy all the books that I could stand to read on interaction design. To me, it’s what I do naturally anyways, less the buzz words and details of theory and processes of getting the job of interaction design done.

To so many people, if they even give a thought to my existence at all, they probably think I’m a simple girl who has kids and likes the internet. What no other person can see are gears turning in my head, and inventions or modifications to flows that I never seem to document as I should.

My biggest hobby, or addiction, centers around the interaction design inside a home. Mostly the kitchen. I have figured out why I’m so indecisive when it comes to interior design. Because my heart is always reaching toward a satisfactory design that encourages efficient interaction and correlation between objects and workstations. I have so many possibilites that come to mind for one 10 x 20 space that it drives me crazy. Not to mention a $0 budget to make any of it happen. But still, I have a constant drive that makes me reach for smart interaction.

I hope in the nearest years ahead, I will have opportunities to explore interaction design using various methods. Flash is a top priority, but ActionScript, which really goes hand in hand with Flash, is up there too.

I can probably safely say that most companies aren’t aware of interaction design though. So, obviously, the majority of companies aren’t going to invest a salary into the idea. That’s a downfall. So, for me, with tendencies toward interaction design as it is, I have to kinda sneak it in as I work. Really just keeping it in mind as I design or setup this site or that.

There are some cool books that I want to eventually buy on the topic. Alan Cooper is a name that is big in the industry of interaction/user design. He’s written some books that sound absolutely on the money with stuff I want to learn.

One of the books he’s written:

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
..has a quoted review that is interesting:

“Frightening but true. Personal computers have engendered another New Age codependency. They shame us, they frustrate us and yet we keep spending money on them. Alan Cooper’s book explains why it shouldn’t be so and what we can do about it. A humbling and enjoyable read.”
—Jean-Louis Gassée, Founder, Be, Inc. and Apple Computer France


Is it getting hot in here? [exuse me while I wipe the beads from my technological hot flash away…] [rina grins a pleasing smirk] “That was good stuff”. (lol)

That’s so funny, like computers are taking over the world. But I’ve bought devices that I thought would be the end all solution to productivity and the like, and now, my kids use them as toys. Sony made PDA devices called the Clie. Awesome little do-dad. Loved it. But they changed so rapidly that a year later my $300 device was on it’s way out the door to obsolete-land.

It’s not that Sony made a bad product and made a good one the next year. I just think they should spend more time on devices with the intention of making a high quality product that lasts a long time. If money is the concern, make it with upgrades and expansions. It just seems like if a product had a good following, obviously it would mean lots of money. The problem for the company is that it’s a long term return. They don’t seem to like that. They have so much money that they risk short term products that satisfy the stuffits-diseased consumers who have the money to waste over and over. Build it and they will buy it. Because they will buy it. Ah…enter in genius marketing. Let’s market that this device is the best of all time, but don’t tell them we’re already working on the next big thing that will send the current device packing.

I’m not longer one of those consumers. I would rather have a product that was well thought out (using a process like interaction design of course). Something that was made with me in mind, not “hey, we’re going to make a bunch of money”. Purposeful products that serve to make my life better, or at least the experience of using that product a better one.

I won’t lie. Budget is one of my biggest methods of restraint for buying new devices and software. Everything has to be monetarily justified now, and serve a true purpose either for bringing in more income or benefitial to the family. That’s honestly one of the best things to happen to how I spend money. I think smarter with money in general.

Well, that’s enough of my Saturday being spent on a blog post. Besides, my coffee’s getting cold!