Posts tagged “distraction”

Kelly’s War Story: Pictures are language independent

Here’s Kelly Braun, Senior Director, User Insights and Analytics at with a story about shooting fieldwork video and inadvertently getting the money shot.

At eBay we did a lot of field visits. We were always over-prepared with checklists, allergy meds, extra batteries, and everything else we could think of for the unexpected.

For this particular study we were interviewing people who had bought large equipment on eBay. This visit was to a store that had purchased a giant Xerox machine that had been used by big corporations. This video store specialized in Chinese language videos.

I perused the movies as we got set up. Some were American movies that I recognized by the pictures even though the titles were in Chinese. Others were films made specifically for the Chinese-speaking audience.

We interviewed the owner and he told us about the amazing deal he got on the machine and when we asked if we could see it he said “Sure, it’s in the back.” No problem, we had extension cords for the video camera.

I took the camera off the tripod and followed the store owner and my co-researcher into the tiny back office. I couldn’t really get a good shot of the Xerox machine from the door so I went inside and around the machine to get a better angle. At this point the owner says “Oh, I forgot. This is where the porn videos are…but don’t worry – they are all in Chinese”.

I look up and the side of the room I was now facing with my video camera rolling was filled with porn – all with Chinese titles, but let’s just say it really didn’t matter that the titles were in Chinese because…well, a picture is worth a thousand words regardless of the language!

My co-researcher just soldiered on asking questions and all I could think of was “Wow am I supposed to film this guy with all the frolicking nakedness on the video covers behind him?”

Lesson learned: Make sure you know how to override the auto-focus on your camera!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • LeechBlock – empower your browser to keep you from distractions – LeechBlock is a simple productivity tool: an extension for the Firefox web browser designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day. (You know: the ones that rhyme with 'Blue Cube', 'Pie Face', 'Space Hook', 'Hash Pot', 'Sticky Media', and the like.) All you need to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them. You can specify up to six sets of sites to block, with different times and days for each set. You can block sites within fixed time periods (e.g., between 9am and 5pm), after a time limit (e.g., 10 minutes in every hour), or with a combination of time periods and time limit (e.g., 10 minutes in every hour between 9am and 5pm). With the 'lockdown' feature, you can block sites immediately for a specified duration. LeechBlock also keeps track of the total amount of time you have spent browsing the sites in each block set.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Putting together your own free-from-cable living room viewing experience: not ready for prime time – I understand this kind of living room experience isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot less work to just click a button up or down on a standard remote control. And it can be difficult to explain how to use this unfamiliar toolbox of buttons, programs and devices.

    Over Thanksgiving a friend graciously house-sat at our apartment. It took my wife more than an hour to write a detailed description explaining how to use our new TV setup. After explaining how to use the mouse and keyboard, we had to describe how to switch among applications.

  • Even avid readers find it hard to read nowadays – "I used to read books all the time. If I was awake, I’d be reading or at the very least carrying a book around. But now? The last book I read was John Galsworthy’s “Forsyte Saga,” which I finished more than a month ago, and then only after many weeks of halfhearted fits and starts, a situation that was pretty alarming, given that Mr. Galsworthy’s story was full of the sorts of characters who come to life and accompany you in your mind, sitting in the passenger seat, as real as anybody, while you drive around town doing errands.

    I still read, of course. I read all sorts of things: Web sites and blog posts and e-mail messages and Tweets and even, occasionally, a newspaper or magazine article…

    Deep reading — the kind that you engage in when you get lost in the syntax and imagery and the long, convoluted sentences of a really meaty book — is a special sort of exercise that creates a new part of the brain that did not exist at birth."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Words Move Me – Sony adds social networking around reading (but doesn’t seem you can *buy*) – "Words move me" was created by Sony to celebrate the words that move us and to share our reading experiences with others. Connecting with readers around literary moments enables us to express our individuality, share our own stories, and find commonalities with others.
    (Thanks @gpetroff)
  • Sony’s Daily Reader – Kindle Competition: Touchscreen Plus AT&T, for $399 – Includes software to link with local libraries and check out a library-based electronic book. Also has portrait reading mode (showing two pages), touchscreen, and broadband wireless access to add books without a PC.
  • IKEA as destination retail, in Beijing – Although the store is designed similarly to Western IKEAs, the meaning and usage has changed. In Beijing, It's a place to rest and eat, more theme park than shopping emporium.
  • The lost art of reading: David Ulin on the challenge of focus in an era of distraction – Who do we want to be, she asks, and how do we go about that process of becoming in a world of endless options, distractions, possibilities? These are elementary questions, and for me, they cycle back to reading, to the focus it requires. When I was a kid, maybe 12 or 13, my grandmother used to get mad at me for attending family functions with a book. Back then, if I'd had the language for it, I might have argued that the world within the pages was more compelling than the world without; I was reading both to escape and to be engaged. All these years later, I find myself in a not-dissimilar position, in which reading has become an act of meditation, with all of meditation's attendant difficulty and grace. I sit down. I try to make a place for silence. It's harder than it used to be, but still, I read. (via Putting People First)

Has Usability Become a Cult?

Today is World Usability Day and one newly generated ritual is Take a Red Balloon For a Walk!

A worldwide initiative that EVERYONE can participate in to celebrate World Usability Day 2006!

Walk around your community, office or home and take photos of products, road signs, or anything that represents something USABLE or NOT USABLE. Of course, you can include yourself and your balloon in the photos!

I’m reminded of Red Nose Day which when I initially encountered it was a movement to help people lighten up and have a nicer day. (Now it’s tied to fund raising and charity).

I’m sure someone could make a case that this raises awareness in a light-hearted way but it strikes as ridiculous. What’s next, red balloon lapel pins, red rubber bracelets, red balloon-shaped magnets for the back of your car? Move over Lance Armstrong, overseas troops, and breast cancer, the Red freakin’ balloon is here!


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