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April 30, 2010

fitness: social dancing

time: 03:00, feeling: ok; effort: 1/5

Didn't actually dance all that much. Feeling a bit rough and wondering if I had a cold rather than allergies last week.

"fitness: social dancing" was posted by dogpossum on April 30, 2010 8:02 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

April 29, 2010

fitness: Einto10k wk4, run 3

km tracked: 5.94, time: 00:45, pace: 07:34, calories: 407, feeling: good, effort: 4/5

Einto 10k wk4, run3. Same route as the last run, same time, etc.
Shitty allergies last night left me feeling a bit tired in the morning. But running was good as it clears out my sinuses (yes, I know). But feeling snotty and a bit tired afterwards.

"fitness: Einto10k wk4, run 3" was posted by dogpossum on April 29, 2010 8:00 PM in the category E210k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

kindergardeners rock spaghetti architecture

Kindy builds good skills.

This film is interesting for the discussion of iterative design processes. This is something we talk about in class - the importance of building prototypes over and over and over again during the design process. This has also been the hardest part of learning to design things, for me. In the beginning of the semester I tended to spend half, if not three quarters of the allocated design time in class talking and thinking and writing about my design. And then I'd try making or doing the design and realise that, actually, it's more useful to talk less and to play more.

I think that a PhD does this to you: it trains you to think about doing things, rather than to actually do them. Which of course is the inverse of learning to dance. You'll never dance fast or well or interestingly if you just stand there thinking about it. I think that learning jazz routines on the social dance floor, in 'real time'* has been the single most important part of my education, ever. Of all time.

It's taught me to work with other people. It's taught me to observe - to watch and listen. It's taught me that to make shit, you have to do shit: you can guarantee that you will NEVER learn a routine if you just stand there and look at it. But if you try, you automatically improve your abilities a zillion percent. And even if you don't get the routine (which most of us won't), you will learn how your body works. And understanding how your body works is absolutely the most important part of dancing. Or building things.

Learning jazz routines on the social dance floor also teaches you that counting out steps is ridiculous. It's a silly enforcing of a rigid organising system on something which is far more exciting and slippery. Jazz - in 'real time' (ahahhahaha) is bound by phrases and bars and so on, but it is also slippery and busts out of those boundaries with improvisation all the time. If you only learn routines by numbers, you will never learn how to bust out of boundaries and improvise. And improvising is everything that dancing is. Without it, you might as well be... writing pages of the dictionary out by hand. It's far better to learn a jazz routine by listening to the music and understanding musical structure (and hence choreography and dance structures) by moving your body and using the music as the organising principle.

Off the dance floor, improvisation and iterative design processes teach you the limits of your materials (how strong is a piece of spaghetti), the importance of collaborative design and learning (and you can't learn to work with people in theory - you can only learn by doing) and the sheer joy of working within a time frame and feeling the adrenaline surging.

I know I'm an adrenaline junky. But I just think life is so much more fun when you give yourself a little jolt of the organically manufactured good stuff.

*I pause here to laugh a lot about the ridiculousness of this idea: dance is always in real time, or else it just doesn't exist!

"kindergardeners rock spaghetti architecture" was posted by dogpossum on April 29, 2010 1:37 PM in the category academia and fitness and learning and lindy hop and other dances and music and research | Comments (0)

fitness: Einto10k wk4, run 3

distance: 5.94 km, time: 00:45, pace: 07:34, calories: 407, feeling: good, effort: 4/5

Same route as the last run, same time, etc.
Shitty allergies last night left me feeling a bit tired in the morning. But running was good as it clears out my sinuses (yes, I know). But feeling snotty and a bit tired afterwards.


"fitness: Einto10k wk4, run 3" was posted by dogpossum on April 29, 2010 11:56 AM in the category E210k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

April 27, 2010

fitness: yoga

time: 01:00, feeling: good, effort: 4/5

Great! Yoga is really helping my post-running aches.
Serious groin stretches in this class were a little intense, though.

"fitness: yoga" was posted by dogpossum on April 27, 2010 7:58 PM in the category fitness and yoga | Comments (0)

ASRC food bank - usable design

The Asylum Seekers' Resource Centre's Food Bank has some amazing design action happening. My favourite is the clock:


"ASRC food bank - usable design" was posted by dogpossum on April 27, 2010 5:03 PM in the category design and learning | Comments (0)

fitness: yoga

time: 1hr, effort: 4/5 feeling: great

Great! Yoga is really helping my post-running aches.
Serious groin stretches in this class were a little intense, though.

"fitness: yoga" was posted by dogpossum on April 27, 2010 1:58 PM in the category fitness and yoga | Comments (0)

April 26, 2010

fitness: Einto10k, wk4, run2

distance: 6km, time: 00:45, pace: 07:34, calories: calories, feeling: great, effort: 4/5

run2 of wk4 of the Ease into 10k: 4x8min + 3x1min walk + 10 warm up/down.
It wasn't difficult at all, though I was getting some muscle tightness in my hip.

"fitness: Einto10k, wk4, run2" was posted by dogpossum on April 26, 2010 2:01 PM in the category E210k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

April 24, 2010


A few Sydney dancers have recently been running some late night speakeasy events after churchpit on Fridays, and they've been very successful. The venue is small and has pleasing acoustics - the square 'end' of a long, L-shaped room contains the sound (especially when the speaker is positioned on the long wall, playing into the short leg of the L) and leaves the rest of the room at the right noise level for talking and drinking. The long, narrow L shape leaves people squashed pretty close together, and this makes the room feel crowded (because it is) and fun. The drinks are well priced and good - beers, wines, etc for drinkers, top quality soft drinks (san pelegrino, those organic softies, etc) for non-drinkers. I don't know if there're coffees, but there could be. Last night there were cakes as well.
Last night I had a chance to DJ the gig and it was super fun. The organisers are really good to work with - friendly, easy going, relaxed, lots of useful feedback on the music, etc etc. It was like DJing a late night at an exchange, except better because the crowd were relaxed and friendly (rather than hyped and kind of cliquey/show-offy), the organisers were mellow and professional and the sound system was nice.
The music is usually blues or 'slow lindy', with the organisers themselves favouring a soul/funk aesthetic. Because the emphasis is on socialising rather than hardcore dancing, and because the gig follows the churchpit lindy night, there's less pressure to play 'proper' music, and more interest in 'good' music. So it's a fun gig.

This is what I played (title, artist, album, bpm, year, time):

Come Together Ike And Tina Turner Absolutely The Best 80 1998 3:40
Hound Dog Big Mama Thornton Very Best Of 76 2:52
Leave Your Hat On Etta James The Best Of Etta James 85 1973 3:19
Chain Of Fools Aretha Franklin Greatest Hits - Disc 1 116 2:48
I Got What It Takes Koko Taylor I Got What It Takes 72 1975 3:43
3 O'clock In The Morning Blues Ike and Tina Turner Putumayo Presents: Mississippi Blues 64 1969 2:40
My Man's An Undertaker Catherine Russell Cat 106 2006 2:48
My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More Alberta Hunter (acc by Doc Cheatham, Vic Dickenson, Fran Wess, Norris Turney, Billy Butler, Gerald Cook, Aaron Bell, Jackie Williams) Amtrak Blues 76 1978 3:49
Sugar Blues Preservation Hall The Hurricane Sessions 61 2007 5:02
Shave 'em Dry Asylum Street Spankers Nasty Novelties 131 1997 4:21
Louisiana Two Step Clifton Chenier Louisiana Blues & Zydeco [Bonus Track] 197 1965 3:49
Built for Comfort Taj Mahal In Progress & In Motion (1965-1998) 98 1998 4:46
It Takes Two to Tango Lester Young and Oscar Peterson Lester Young With the Oscar Peterson Trio 104 6:09
My Sweet Hunk O'Trash Billie Holiday with Sy Oliver and his Orchestra and Louis Armstrong The Complete Original American Decca Recordings (disc 2) 95 1949 3:20

The Clifton Chenier track was really my just taking advantage of an open minded crowd, and didn't work. But it did make people jiggly in their seats, which is good. I <3 zydeco atm, though I know nothing about it.
I tried to play upenergy, fun party music. The first Koko Taylor song is where I got a bit chilled. This wasn't really a crowd interested in slow, sexy dancing. They were more interested in slower, funkier dancing, and that was fine with me. The first block were more what I think of as 'Chicago' blues, though that's not really a very accurate description. From there I got a bit more old school in style, though I played 'new' songs for the most part - no scratchies. I was aiming for dirty, fun lyrics, lots of energy, beerdancing party music. 'Sugar Blues', which is rocking it with blues dancers at exchanges at the moment was a bit too 'serious' for this crowd.
Though Chenier cleared the floor, it was full again by the middle of the next song. I was moving towards a more lindy style for the next DJ, Gunther, who's more comfortable with lindy than blues. Those last couple of songs went down nicely, and they're a couple of my favourites. 'Two to Tango' is one of those long-term favourites, and I really like the Billie/Louis duet 'Sweet hunk of trash'. Holiday's masterful delayed approach to timing is really understood by Armstrong, who hangs back there with her. That feeling of squeezing the very last second out of each beat makes the song feel just a little bit saucier, but also lets the singers make some clever jokes. Comedy is made by timing, and swinging jazz rhythms make for perfect delivery: that long pause that lets the audience begin to figure out the punch line, and then pop! the line.

It was a fun gig, and I really enjoyed doing it. I like going to that event as a punter, as well, even though the late nights are challenging at the end of a busy week.

"Speakeasy" was posted by dogpossum on April 24, 2010 2:00 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

April 23, 2010

fitness: yoga

time: 1.10, effort: 4/5, feeling: bloody excellent.

omg. I have _missed_ yoga. All those lovely endorphines, all that stretching and strengthening, but without the harsh impact, aching joints and aggressive motorists.
I am BACK on the yoga wagon.


"fitness: yoga" was posted by dogpossum on April 23, 2010 3:20 PM in the category fitness and yoga | Comments (0)

fitness: social dancing

time: 01:30, feeling: great, effort: 4/5

Not a lot of dancing because I was DJing. But I danced with enthusiasm.


Edit: Today, the 24th, I feel really stiff and sore, but in a good way. Yoga + dancing + some cycling = yowzers. I might actually be an adrenaline junky. I did say I'd unload my foot, and I have. Yoga did stretch it a bit, and that might be a problem - we'll see.

"fitness: social dancing" was posted by dogpossum on April 23, 2010 1:54 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

April 22, 2010

fitness: cycling for fun

distance: 18.47 km, time: 00:55, pace: 20.1km/h, 624 calories, feeling: good, effort: 3/5

I needed to do some sort of aerobic exercise, but my sore foot couldn't take a run. So I did a quick ride down to the water and back. I tried to ride quickly so my heart rate stayed up, but it's hard to ride fast along that route as there are so many walkers. But it was really good to get out.
Sore foot was a little sore at first, my achey knee is a little warm, but there was none of the bad pain in my right shin and foot that I have while running. And when I got home I was a lot less tighter in the hammies than I am after running.

sunny, windy, cycling

"fitness: cycling for fun" was posted by dogpossum on April 22, 2010 5:21 PM in the category bikes and fitness | Comments (0)

usability evaluation: hooman

Design Item 7: hoomans.

This item will be evaluated for usability using heuristics inspired by (but not elucidated in) lecture discussions of Chignell and Valdez. As I have already discussed, these heuristics are developed by my use of van Welie et al.

As per previous usability evaluations, I take myself as the user group evaluating the item. As Nielsen and Molich argue, usability evaluation can only be truly effective with the use of a series of evaluators with different needs and interests. This particular evaluation, then, is limited as a tool for assessing the usability of this item for a broad pool of users. It is, however, very helpful in assessing the usability of the hooman for one particular user and provides a beginning point for ongoing discussion and evaluation of a series of usability heuristics.

The hooman comes in two key types - male and female - yet there are variations and combinations of these types. For this project I will assess the hooman of the conventionally 'female' physical sex, as that is the type I have most experience with and use most often. I will specify further, and evaluate the urban-dwelling, middle class, 35-year old, Anglo-celtic, female hooman. Sexual preference and education are key factors, and though they may be investigated in further research, the scope of this project is such that these cannot be explored here. From this point I will refer to the item as 'hooman', rather than 'female hooman', though this is not to suggest that all hoomans are interchangeable: each particular item has its own individual features and usability issues.

The hooman body is a particularly useful item. Even with some minor damage, this item is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. The hooman can be used for a range of domestic and professional tasks, and I have not yet found the limit of its usefulness. It is particularly useful for physical activities, ranging from intensive physical exercise to creative work, but also lends itself to quiet, sustained projects which do not require any physical movement at all.

The hooman is an effective tool for both complex, long-term projects, and short, simple tasks. The small digits on the upper limbs are both flexible and highly sensitive and can serve as useful extensions of the high-powered internal operating system. Though the item is currently less effective for long-distance, high-powered locomotion, skilled users with the ability to refine and develop the item for this particular use would no doubt have more success than I.

The hooman is a particularly learnable item. Learning to use the hooman is both satisfying and expedient, though more complex tasks require more sustained learning periods. Though there is no help function or documentation accompanying this particular hooman, the aesthetically pleasing appearance of the item teamed with the enjoyable operating environment encourage experiential learning and skill development through use.

As I have noted already, likability is highly subjective, and in part determined by the context within which an item is used. Despite this point, the hooman could have very broad appeal for a range of users. Its high learnability, combined with its aesthetically pleasing appearance (which is likable in large part for its adaptability and mutability) and extensive usefulness make it a flexible, poweful tool for most users.

Chignell, M. & Valdez, J. 1992, 'Methods for Assessing the Usage and Usability of Documentation', Third Conference on Quality in Documentation, at the Centre for Professional Writing, Waterloo, Ontario Canada, pp. 5-27.

Nielsen, J & Molich, R, 1990, 'Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces', in CHI '90 Proceedings, Seattle, WA, pp. 249-256.

van Welie, M., van der Veer, G.C. & Eliëns, A. 1999, 'Breaking down Usability', INTERACT '99, Edinburgh, Scotland, 30th August - 3rd September 1999,

"usability evaluation: hooman" was posted by dogpossum on April 22, 2010 1:00 PM in the category design and learning | Comments (0)

fitness: time to unload

ld.pngWell, I recovered from the sore knee, but I'm still getting nasty pain in my right shin and in my right foot in the old injury. The shin feels like shin splints, which I had trouble with when I was into charleston hardcore. At this point, I need to rest and unload, and then start again. I'm thinking I might stay off running for a while, as it's the impact which hurts. Instead, I'll try to do some proper, regular walking so I can stay a bit fit, at least. I'm tempted to cycle in the mornings, but the roads are crazy busy when I usually run (about 7.30) and cycling in peak hour traffic is not fun. There are the bike paths along the canal and water front, though, so I should think about that. At this point, though, I'm very disappointed, but I'm also quite worried about my old foot injury. Recovering from that took a very long time. But I know that I have to be patient and just let it heal.
At any rate, this week I ran on Monday, and I won't run again for a while. I am DJing on Friday, so there's the possibility of dancing, but I'll try _not_ to dance. Yeah, right. And I'd like to do a long walk on the weekend, which might be a bit much. We'll see.
I do love running, though, and I think that the high impact + speed of running requires good core strength and stability, and that's the one thing I really like. It's super useful for dancing, and makes dancing so much more fun. I was also beginning to see the benefits of running on my latissimus dorsi, which is one of those muscles partner dancers obsess about, because it's very useful for helping you connect your arm to your hips/centre. I like figuring out how these things work when your body is in motion. I like the way movement forces you to multitask: not fall over and figure out how your body works.
The challenge for me is always to stay relaxed in the muscles that aren't working (alert but not alarmed), while also being able to activate and use the busy muscles just enough to do the job. I am continually fighting to release tension in my upper body (especially my right shoulder - a side effect of bung foot and a lifetime of hardcore writing). The best way of doing this (usually) is to stabilise my core. If hips are stable, then my upper body doesn't need to overcompensate to stop me falling over. Running has helped me isolate these two parts (which are of course actually far more complicated interconnected groups of muscles and bones and so on) and begin to get stronger in the core. I have less curve in my lower back, which is partly because my pelvis is less tilty, which is because various muscles and things in the front of my torso are more active, 'pulling' it into place. This in turn frees up muscles (like my lower back) and lets them relax.
The nicest effect has been having the chance to loosen up my shoulders, which then lets me feel how my lats are working. It's very nice and very interesting. My one concern is that stopping running will stall my progress. But the good thing about having a body, is that you have it for your whole life, so you never need stop learning about these things. And learning how to use them.

Once again, I'm surprised by how much of my life involves fitness and exercise. We have no car, so walking to the train and bus is important, and I do all my errands by bike. We like going on bike rides with our friends, we like walks, and we like dancing. We're also up for anything fun that involves exercise - games, frisbee, etc - fun stuff that gets your heart rate up. I guess that once you get a minimum level of fitness, your body becomes the perfect medium for fun. :D

(photo is from the wikipedia page linked above)

"fitness: time to unload" was posted by dogpossum on April 22, 2010 10:53 AM in the category bikes and fitness and lindy hop and other dances and running | Comments (0)

April 19, 2010

E210k: wk4, run1

distance: 6.16 km, time: 00:45, pace: 07:18, calories: 584, effort: 4/5, feeling: ok

I've decided to stop pushing my bad foot with the Bridge to 10k program as it was leaving me really really sore. So I started at week 4 of the Ease into 10k, which is essentially starting 2 weeks before the B210k begins. So I did 4 x 8 min runs + 3x1min rests and 10 min warm up and down. This is heaps gentler than the 3 x 15min blocks I was doing.
I'm still very tight in the calves (a side effect of bad foot) and had to use my 1min intervals to streeeeeetch. New shoes are wonderful but a little snug across the toes, so I also had to stop to adjust them during the 1min intervals.
But, overall, it was a nice run. And I made better time over this distance than I have done during the C25k. I think. :D

humid, sunny

Edit: My knees hurt a _lot_, so I think I'm going to have to take a serious break from running for a while to get over the impact of the longer B210k runs. I wish I'd followed my initial instinct and gone with the easier runs at first. Oh well. But the pain is quite debilitating - I've got very sore knees, and I've had trouble with pains in my shins (like shin splints, but actually almost certainly related to my bung foot) and begun to get some ache in my sore foot.
So it's time to ease off. This is quite demoralising. I'm addicted to running, mostly for the way it improves me mood, and makes it easier to manage stress and anxiety. I am going to need to find some sort of exercise substitute so I can keep my fitness and mood up. Cycling, unfortunately, is terrible for my sore knees. Dancing isn't much good either.

"E210k: wk4, run1" was posted by dogpossum on April 19, 2010 9:55 PM in the category B210k and E210k and bikes and c25k and fitness and running | Comments (2)

fitness: social dancing

time: 02:30, feeling: good, effort: 4/5

Fast tempos, lots of solo and lindy hop, lots of sweating and super fun. I LOVE having better fitness and control from running.
But it left me quite sore the next day - the B210K runs are really taking their toll on my joints. I think I'll ease it off next week.


"fitness: social dancing" was posted by dogpossum on April 19, 2010 9:54 PM in the category B210k and c25k and fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

April 16, 2010



Nadia Gric's photos from the Harlem dance fest in ... Lithuania? ... are AMAZING. I found them via faceplant, but you can see them on picasaweb. Do make sure you look through the stuff from other days of the festival. No one gives fabulous venues like those European countries.

I also really really really like this pic.

"amazing" was posted by dogpossum on April 16, 2010 6:57 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

April 15, 2010

B210k: wk2, run2

distance: 7.86 km, time: 00:57, pace: 07:15, calories: 740, effort: 5/5

Slow runner is sloooooow.


"B210k: wk2, run2" was posted by dogpossum on April 15, 2010 9:52 PM in the category B210k and c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

kids and kultcha

I'm trying to keep track of interesting links.

First, ProgDinns have another great post up. This one's about kids and food and kids as critics.

This post led me to the Mammalian diving reflex site. That's where I read about the kids reviewing stuff at the festival, giving adults hair cuts and going to restaurants. I also read the stuff about the experts on aging.

Then I read the article about the kids doing the reviews and it was great.

Then I read the eat the street mowbray heights blog and then I read the eat the street toronto blog.

And finally I read the Childrens' Choice Awards blog.

All of these things are just great.

"kids and kultcha" was posted by dogpossum on April 15, 2010 4:32 PM in the category clicky and fewd and gastropod | Comments (1)

gingerbread noms

This is a recipe I've used lots of times. I've tried the 2 Fat Ladies one, but this one is better. It's from Vogue Entertaining Aug/Sep 1996. It's from a special they did on 'country cakes', and every cake I've made from that collection has been really really good. I'm not very good at cakes, but this one is heavy and solid and is difficult to ruin.

250g butter
1 cup sugar (I use a soft brown sugar)
1 cup treacle
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tsp bicarb soda
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger (I replace this with fresh grated fresh ginger. In fact, I think the fresh ginger is the most important part. I use the youngest ginger I can find, and grate a heap of it - 2.5 big tablespoons. The amount you use should depend on the ginger's freshness and age and your own taste. I like the cake really gingery, but not everyone does. Also, you might like to be careful about how finely you grate it. I like chunks of ginger, but it's not for everyone)

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg (as per usual, grate it freshly yourself and the difference will be amazing)
I also add 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp ground mace, but these are quite aromatic and not really to everyone's taste

Butter and flour the sides of a 23cm square cake tin and line the base with baking powder (this is a big cake, so I use my larger loaf tin). Preheat the oven to 180*C

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar and treacle and set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs and milk together in a bowl and add the bicarb of soda, which has been dissolved in a little warm water.

Pour the egg mixture into the cooled treacle mixture. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg (and other spices - but perhaps don't sift the grated ginger, just add it) together in a large bowl.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture.

Mix well with a wooden spoon (I usually use the electric mixer here as I always find it hard to get the lumps out otherwise. But beating can make the cake a bit too light and fluffy, and while it settles a bit as it gets older, the fluffiness doesn't really suit the cake).

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, let stand for 1 to 2 minutes and turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.

The recipe says to serve it with whipped cream. But I like it spread with butter. It gets better if you leave it in a sealed container (or tied plastic bag) as the outside softens and gets stickier.

"gingerbread noms" was posted by dogpossum on April 15, 2010 2:17 PM in the category domesticity and fewd and gastropod | Comments (0)

April 14, 2010

visualising information

We've only spent a tiny bit of time on this in class, but I'm interested in visualising information. Being a word person, I've always tended to represent information in words. But working on the MLX websites and programs I've also had to figure out ways of representing information in other ways. Dancers during an exchange aren't interested in lots of words (and are often too tired to figure them out), and, frankly, who wants to read a whole bunch of long, boring sentences when there's exciting action things to be done?
There are a range of accessibility issues at play here as well, and reading problems are quite common in dancers.

So here're a few sites I've found that tackle this issue of 'visualising information'

This one is taken from Lapham's Quarterly, which is a really nice online magazine/journal dealing with history, literature, art - all that high brow action. But the tone is cheery and a little wiggedy, and they tweet some really cool stuff.


This American Infographic features "infographical companions to the celebrated radio show". In other words, it is a series of images created in response to episodes of the This American Life radio show.

There is, of course Edwarde Tufte, king of visualising information. Tufte had a walk-on part in my last essay. With a line, I think.

Newsflow visualises news stories in real time, as they are published. This one is FULLY SICK.

Infosthetics is a blog capturing links to really interesting 'info visualisation' items.

textarc 'visualises' the words of books or text. This is magic.

We Feel Fine, visualising 'I feel' or 'feeling' text from blogs.

Visual Complexity is... well, lots of visual information stuff.

Edit: Something critiquing the 'vizualisation cargo cult'.

Someone else getting cranky about dodgy info visualisation.

A tool for doing your own fancy visualisations.

Another Edit: Visual information and The Times through history.

"visualising information" was posted by dogpossum on April 14, 2010 11:51 AM in the category design and learning and research | Comments (0)

April 12, 2010

B210K: wk2, run1

distance: 7.28 km, time: 00:57, pace: 07:50, calories: 740, effort: 5/5

Tired, now. It was a long run and I was puffing like crazy at the end.
Some arsehole in a 4wd yelled out his window at me for about a minute because I ran past him on a zebra crossing. This is the first time this has happened to me running rather than cycling.
I didn't yell back, mostly because I was 2mins from home and puffed, but I kept thinking 'wish he'd check his speedo for me - I bet I'm pwning this'.
Why do these sorts of arseholes think the worst insult they can yell at a woman is 'fat cow'? Particularly when they're _stitting_ in a car?
Motorists are fuckwits. I, however, am a running ninja. 7km _and_ I pwned the patriarchy. All in one run.

"B210K: wk2, run1" was posted by dogpossum on April 12, 2010 9:51 PM in the category B210k and c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

April 11, 2010

fitness: site-seeing cycling

distance: 18 km, calories: 508, feeling: good, effort: 3/5

Easy, slow riding as we were site-seeing around the wetlands.
My knees have been sore with the running (and dancing), so hard peddling hurt, but otherwise the low impact exercise was GREAT.

"fitness: site-seeing cycling" was posted by dogpossum on April 11, 2010 9:49 PM in the category bikes and fitness | Comments (0)

tasty world

tasty world

"tasty world" was posted by dogpossum on April 11, 2010 9:44 PM in the category curating and collecting and design and learning | Comments (0)

April 9, 2010

8track: strings and clapping for running

Image from shorpy, though I almost went with this.

I actually listen to the songs in the following order. That way they start mellow and get crazier, so I can wake up gently, then get my arse kicked a bit when I start to lag later on.

Thulandivile (Keep Quiet I've Heard You) Elite Swingers Natural Jazz 131 2:39
Dinah Preservation Hall Preservation Hall Hot 4 With Duke Dejan 154 2004 5:01
Eh la bas Preservation Hall Jazz Band Shake That Thing 191 2004 3:52
Baby (Darlin') Baby Midnight Serenaders Sweet Nothin's 243 2009 3:16
A Mug Of Ale Joe Venuti's Blue Four All Star Jazz Quartets (disc 3) 220 1927 3:07
Coffee's Cold/Tater Patch Uncle Earl Going to the Western Slope 254 2004 3:08
Double Check Stomp The Pasadena Roof Orchestra Rhythm Is Our Business! 228 1996 3:59
The Love Me Or Die C.W. Stoneking Jungle Blues 153 2008 3:55
El Pito (I'll Never Go Back To Georgia) Joe Cuba Crooklyn: Vol. I 157 1966 5:33
If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight Linnzi Zaorski and Delta Royale (Charlie Fardella, Robert Snow, Matt Rhody, Seva Venet, Chaz Leary) Hotsy-Totsy 129 2004 2:36
The Clapping Song Shirley Ellis Because Of Winn-Dixie (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) 168 2005 3:11
Drinker Born Uncle Earl Waterloo, Tennessee 2007 3:22
Stay A Little Longer Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys The Tiffany Transcriptions (vol 2) 232 3:07
Some of These Days Midnight Serenaders Sweet Nothin's 255 2009 3:29
El Panadero Cheba Massolo Coyazz 202 2008 2:32

"8track: strings and clapping for running" was posted by dogpossum on April 9, 2010 8:05 PM in the category 8 tracks and music and running | Comments (0)

April 6, 2010

B210k: week1, run2

distance: 6.39 km, time: 00:53, pace: 08:18, calories: 688, effort: 5/5

Man, it kicked it my arse. But it was good and I didn't stop running in the running bits. Running later in the day to avoid the rain meant running in the heat and humidity and I SWEATED so much.
Some aches in my bad foot - makes me think I should revisit the podiatrist to have my orthotics checked (it's been a year).
My shins were a bit achey before I started. I don't do any warm up stretches, but lots of warm down stretches. I think I need to do proper warm ups, beyond the 5minutes walk.


"B210k: week1, run2" was posted by dogpossum on April 6, 2010 9:45 PM in the category B210k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

reading and thinking about design in cultural context

I tend to tweet my thoughts as I do my reading for these classes. This ends up cluttering up my twitter feed with random comments. I don't have time to write full blog entries while I'm reading (and I shouldn't). As I read and tweet, I'm also taking notes and making comments on readings in a word processing document.

About every five minutes:

I will try to note some of my comments here as I go, instead of cluttering up my twitter feed and annoying people.

I haven't been to the library once this semester. But I've done all the readings and written three assignments. Uni has changed in 17 years.

Challenging the pseudoscience of these design articles is getting tiresome.
I tired of your bullshit, design theory.

your fully justified article is blowing up my eyeballs, design article. Also, your content is desperate flummery.

Gotta remind myself: guiding motivation behind most design isn't equity or social justice but financial gain. This is important difference.


Oh man, my brains are blowing up. This article is just so... it's like they're trying to reinvent the wheel. It drives me crazy.

I give up.

I'll probably return to this article later, once I've been to the lecture. I'll definitely return to it if I need it for an assignment. This way I have an idea of what it's about, and can come back later. There's no discussion of readings in the tutorial or lecture, so I don't need to be 'on'. I'm also finding that the readings have no reference to the material covered in lectures.

I've just come across an article about the India Report. This caught my eye because the report was written by the Eames - mega famous American designers - who went to India to have a look at Indian design. I'm not sure if they were invited specifically, but I do think it was a response to the Indian government asking for suggestions about improving design and industry in India. The Eames' report was sponsored by the Ford Foundation.
The Eames recommended a National Institute of Design be established, and it was. This is just fascinating stuff. I'd be really interested to see how the report (and institute) accommodate:
- regional differences in design
- cultural differences in design within the massive and culturally and ethnically diverse Indian continent
- gender/class/etc in (then) existing design practices, particularly as they relate to rural communities and gendered design and manufacturing processes.

I'd also be be fascinated to see how and if and even whether the Institute and Report worked in a context of cultural imperialism and India-as-British-Colony. I'd be curious about value systems and evaluation of design in this context, as this is something we do in my design subject - we 'evaluate' designs. I'm immediately wary of the term 'evaluate' - to engage with an item and to assess it according to a set of design values. I smell cultural specificity, but then, the part of me that's learning about design pragmatics, understands that you do actually have to assess designs. This is especially important if you're working to create accessible designs, or designs which improve accessibility, particularly for less powerful or marginalised groups and individuals.

I keep stumbling over the relationship between postmodernism and.... that other thing. I think of it in terms of feminism - women are all very different, with different needs and interests, but we also share common needs and interests, and so can work as groups. I always think of these groupings as contextually and temporally dependent, and also as mobile (agile?), changing all the time.
So usability design should:
- recognise the limitations of one designer designing for a group from whom he or she differs. In other words, remember who you are, how your ideas about the world are specific to you and your experiences, and design self-reflexively
- develop useful design personas for developing objects.

I'm not entirely sure about this point as design personas are just new to me. Basically, you develop an imaginary user with very convincing attributes - age, class, etc. The best personas are the product of extensive empirical research and a designer's long experience. I suspect, though, that it might simply be more useful to work with the intended users directly with a sort of design-centred action research approach. This is complicated, though, by the fact that designers are actually working for clients (retailers, government bodies, etc) who are requesting a design to serve a particular user or customer. So you have to accommodate not only the users' needs and interests, but also those of the client who's paying you. Economic factors shape commercial (and government) work, policy issues shape government work, individual notions of the product from your liason affect the design..... and so on.

I've just been reading about scientific approaches to design. Or using principles of scientific research (cognitive psychology in particular) in the design process. While I'm interested in one way, I'm also very sceptical in another. Though it seems like a nice approach to user centredness and usability, I think that the power and ideas remain with the designer and client, and so the process still doesn't actually produce user-centred designs. We are still filtering ideas through the brain of a designer.

This is, of course, quite practical in one sense. A designer understands how manufacturing processes work. They understand how design processes - actually getting things done work. But they do not - despite their best imagining and empirical research - actually know what it is to balance a child on one hip while you use a washing machine. Not once, but hundreds and hundreds of times. And then, of course, we have to talk about gender and class and the luxuries (and perceptions of) time and so on.

I think of this sometimes in terms of colour blindness or perceptions of colour. We each 'know' what blue is. And while we can use various tools to 'show' us how other people perceive blue, physically, we cannot ever ignore or leave behind our 'knowledge' of blue from our own, everyday lived experience. So the way we use blue, though it might in some sense respond to those alternative uses or perceptions of 'blue', will, ultimately, be shaped and informed and structured by our understanding of blue and blueness.

....I'm wondering if design-by-colaboration is useful here? Or how to go about involving users in the design process? Or whether design needs to get out of offices and out into other people's everyday spaces?

As I read and write about this stuff, I keep thinking about how we do audience research in media and cultural studies. How the notion of positivism - that we can somehow objectively 'collect' data - is anathema to solid audience studies research. Design research, though, seems absolutely founded on this notion of 'collecting' data. When I am absolutely sure that data isn't found but made.

Well, we'll see how we go. I'm a bit sorry I only have two semesters of learn during this course. I'd like to learn a whole lot more. But there's nothing to stop me getting my independent learn on later, after I'm finished. I'm also very interested in seeing how my experiences working in a job shape the way I think about this stuff. And the new ideas I'll come up with. It's all very exciting.

"reading and thinking about design in cultural context" was posted by dogpossum on April 6, 2010 11:41 AM in the category design and learning and research | Comments (0)

April 5, 2010

B210k: wk1, run1

distance: 6.35 km, time: 00:53, pace: 08:20, calories: 688, effort: 5/5

Good! Something strange happened to the ipod app partway through so I think I ended up running further than I planned. I didn't hear the halfway tone, and when I checked I was over the halfway point. Then the ipod reset itself. Bah.
But I just ran and ran and it wasn't hard. Though allergies made breathing difficult.
Running an hour later in the day was crap, though - the sun was hotter and made it less pleasant, even in the cooler morning.

cloudy, sunny

"B210k: wk1, run1" was posted by dogpossum on April 5, 2010 9:43 PM in the category B210k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

Executive Council of NSW, 1856 / photographed by Freeman Brothers

Executive Council of NSW, 1856 / photographed by Freeman Brothers

Originally uploaded by State Library of New South Wales collection

Early parliamentarians. Nice tablecloth, chaps.

"Executive Council of NSW, 1856 / photographed by Freeman Brothers" was posted by dogpossum on April 5, 2010 8:11 PM in the category | Comments (0)

online collection

My interest (for obvious reasons) is caught by online or digital collections curated by... well, by all sorts of people. I'm especially interested by public institutions like libraries, national galleries, etc using online galleries as a way of reaching the wider public. I'm also interested in the opposite - collections which work better in the face to face (I'm thinking of the national archives and their collections in remote indigenous communities...fuck, regional centres. God forbid they actually get action out to _really_ remote communities. Who aren't white.).

This is another one I've just found:, which is the national gallery's prints and printmaking... collection? I guess you'd call it that.

"online collection" was posted by dogpossum on April 5, 2010 8:04 PM in the category academia and clicky and curating and collecting | Comments (0)

April 2, 2010

fitness: social dancing

duration: 03:00

Dancing = fun

"fitness: social dancing" was posted by dogpossum on April 2, 2010 9:49 PM in the category fitness and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

B210k: wk1, run3

distance: 6.53 km, time: 00:53 08:06, calories: 688, effort: 5/5

The running is still hard, but not as hard as Wednesday. Had seriously tight calves/hamms though, so I had to spend my first two 1min walking intervals stretching. Dunno if I'll be able to hack the jump to week 2's longer intervals. We'll see.
The stupid B210k app is SCREWED and restarted my third run again. So I ended up running further than planned (by about 5minutes) in that section again.

"B210k: wk1, run3" was posted by dogpossum on April 2, 2010 9:47 PM in the category B210k and c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

c25k: wk9, run3

distance: 4.51 km, time: 00:40, pace: 08:52, calories: 519, effort: 4/5

The streets were really empty and it was strange running without an audience.
I feel really good, and I even managed to pick up my speed a bit in the last few minutes to get back to my starting place. Now I need to work on getting my time down - I do just under 1k walking to cool up and down, so I really need to get my running speed up to get to 5k in 30minutes.


"c25k: wk9, run3" was posted by dogpossum on April 2, 2010 9:42 PM in the category c25k and fitness and running | Comments (0)

wolfpack hustle street race in LA


from here

"wolfpack hustle street race in LA" was posted by dogpossum on April 2, 2010 11:43 AM in the category bikes | Comments (0)

April 1, 2010

palatable female super hero design

Dean Trippe

Project Rooftop (redesigning superheroes)

Annie Wu

"palatable female super hero design" was posted by dogpossum on April 1, 2010 10:59 AM in the category clicky | Comments (0)