07:02 pm, cleardaisies
1 note
Redesigning Waiting In Line

Intro to HCI, January 9, 2014

The following documents steps of the design process as explored in my Intro to HCI class. For this assignment, students were tasked with the challenge of redesigning the experience of waiting in line, and illustrated their results through the process of: observation, brainstorming, synthesizing, prototyping, and testing.

  1. BrainstormingList of 20 Redesigns for Improving the Experience of Waiting in Line
    1. Airport Security Line (Avoid long lines): Use electronic keycards/tags to keep track and quickly clear items through security checks at the airport
    2. Airport Baggage Line (Relief): GPS Tracking for luggage that allows users to stay aware of where their baggage is
    3. Restaurant seating line (Entertainment): Buzzer with a game installed on it (Tetris for kids, and poker for adults) that freezes when the buzzer is outside of a certain range & when the buzzer is beeped.
    4. ER waiting line (Relief): GPS Tracking for the doctor to let the patients know where the doctor is and his activities
    5. ER waiting line (Relief): Screen that announces the estimated wait time 
    6. DMV line (Productivity): Machine that performs the simple services a user needs to decrease the wait time.
    7. DMV line (Entertainment): Mobile game that gives people in line a chance to “cut to the front”. 
    8. DMV line (Entertainment): Animal cam that people pay money to watch, like a parking meter
    9. DMV line (Entertainment/Charity): Have interactive applications behind chairs that will profit government/non-profit charities 
    10. Café/Coffee Shop line (Entertainment/Charity): Have charity/unique/research/local art display on tablet in checkpoints in the line
    11. Café/Coffee Shop line (Entertainment): Photo station inline (with green screen to change wallpapers), pictures posted on wall and updates frequently
    12. Café/Coffee Shop line (Productivity): Have yelp application available in line to compare items in menu and ratings online in real time
    13. Café/Coffee Shop line (Productivity/Social): App where stamps will be rewarded if the user interacts with another user using the same application that promotes the shop as well as entertains the user.
    14. Café/Coffee Shop line (Entertainment/Social): Allow users to write notes that will be hung on the wall/display in the shop (much like a Christmas tree ornament) 
    15. Café/Coffee Shop line (Entertainment): Chalkboard walls so users can draw (there will be a base image that will be frequently changed so that each user can add on to the theme as they wish)
    16. Café/Coffee Shop line (Entertainment): Picture cutouts of the store icons/trendy characters for users to take pictures in
    17. Café/Coffee Shop line (Entertainment): Treasure hunt on the walls of line, find hidden objects (like waldo all over the wall)
    18. ATM line (Productivity): Add-on to the current mobile banking that allows users to send their needed service to the app, and immediately initiates with a swipe of their ATM card
    19. ATM line (Relief): Add tent or covering that provides shelter during bad weather (for outside ATMs only)
    20. Parking lot line (Avoid long lines/Productivity): Users given X amount of time to choose available parking spot through touchscreen otherwise spot will be randomly chosen
    21. Café/Coffee Shop line (Productivity/Entertainment): Users play a game to win coupons/discounts for their purchases
    22. Cafe/Coffee Shop line (Entertainment): A live camera feed allows users to decorate their own images in different styles and accessories
  2. Prototyping
    Idea 1: A mobile bubble shooter game app that allows users to win discount coupons for their purchases
    How: By drawing out the design of the app on app-sized sheets of paper
    Why: I chose this prototype because I believe that this mobile game app both entertains the user (taking away their boredom in waiting) and allows them to turn this experience into something rewarding and productive (winning a discount for whatever they’re in line to purchase).

    Idea 2: A camera app that allows users to customize their look with various different accessories and styles
    How: Drawn rough sketch of customized looks and what the general screen would like on paper
    Why: I chose this prototype because I think this kind of customization app allows the user to stay entertained (by making funny looks and playing with the different accessories) for a short period of time, ensuring that they can move forward with the line easily.
  3. Testing - Observation and recording of users trying the prototype
    Idea 1 User Testing: @ Tapioca Express (a local tea place) with 2 users

  4. User Insights
    Idea 1 Insights:
    1. People commented that the idea was cute and clever, especially if this mobile game was used in conjunction with Tapioca Express, because the bubbles in the game reflects the theme of the store.
    2. Users liked that there was a coupon rewarded after the game was finished because it gives them incentive to play.
    3. A few users reported that they preferred another game to play instead of the bubble shooter game (Candy Crush), saying it could be more challenging (I chose the bubble shooter game because I thought it was suitable for children and adults).
    4. One user noted that the home screen of the app is confusing because it doesn’t state that it’s a game, only that something is about to begin, which I agreed is a layout and wording issue.
    5. Most users were confused on the ad bar on the bottom, and when told about the ads, didn’t want ads in the game. This could be something to remove or incorporate into the app design in a more natural way, such as putting the store logo in the bubbles.
    6. I noticed that the app is time-intensive during a line: users would not finish the game and already reach the cash register. A possible solution could be to give the game a time limit?
    7. Another user mentioned if the ads were promoting sale items in the store. It could be an add-on feature to allow users to see items from the menu in the game, etc.
    8. Another issue of the game is the number of times the game can be played. I think it could be limited to once a day, and the coupon/discount could change daily or weekly.
    9. Also noticed that some users were unsure of how the game/coupon app worked. A tutorial could be helpful in guiding users on how the system works. 

06:40 pm, cleardaisies
HCI User Studies – Need-finding & Skyping

Intro to HCI, January 16, 2014

This user study was created as an activity for my Intro to HCI class at UC San Diego, Winter 2014. Students were asked to pick an activity and observe different types of users from all ends of the spectrum, and document all the different aspects of that specific user’s experience. 

The activity that I chose for this “need-finding” assignment was the act of Skyping, with a focus on examining how my studio theme (the consequences of ubiquity) is reflected in the action.

I thought Skyping was a particularly interesting activity to examine in relation to the consequences of ubiquity, because while users glean information from this act of videochatting, the Skype program is part of a larger network of information being fed to the user (users use Skype on a computer and receive information from other programs on the computer).


User 1: Judy – the user who rarely Skypes

Judy uses her computer everyday because she needs to use multiple programs on it between her computer science classes and home. She infrequently checks email, Facebook, and class assignments for homework for different classes. Judy notes that she does not Skype very often because she finds the camera shows a limited amount of space for her to show the other person things. Another major turn-off for her is the lag of video-chatting due to Internet, which slows down and interrupts her conversations during Skype. She very rarely uses it only because the other person has requested her to do so, and only for a relatively short while (~around 1 hr at most).

When Judy does use Skype, she also does other activities before and during the Skype call. While waiting for a Skype call to connect with a friend, she washes oranges, preparing to eat them during the call. Once the call connects, she eats the oranges and waters her cactus while speaking to her friend over Skype. Judy also frequently moves around outside of the camera’s view, doing other tasks around the kitchen, such as putting away dishes and checking her phone for texts and emails occasionally. Thus, Judy uses the Skype time that she has with her friend doing multiple things that she needs to do.

I also asked Judy about other experiences with Skype that she remembers particularly. She notes that one time, she had an interview over Skype that required her to hold a conversation with the interviewer, look over her technical question, and think over her solution to the problem.  Because Judy had to access so many different programs, she found it difficult to be able to focus on her main task at hand: to communicate and accurately answer what the interviewer was asking her.

Both of these moments in observation and interview illustrate for me the theme of “consequences of ubiquity”. Information from the technology around Judy is being fed to her constantly through her laptop and her phone. Under context, this becomes a problem for Judy when she is trying to focus specifically on Skype.


User 2: Frank – the user who Skypes intermittently

Frank uses his computer heavily because he also needs it both in his computer science classes and at home, and takes his computer with him everyday as he commutes. He frequently checks his notifications on email, Facebook, texts, and other forms of social media.

Frank mentioned to me that he does use Skype every now and then, but not frequently. When he does use Skype, however, it is usually for around 1-2 hours. Frank does not prepare anything for Skype as he waits for his call to connect with his friend. He does check all his social media messages and answers them as the call connects. Once the call connects, Frank begins to interact with the other user by talking to them and joking around with funny faces and attempting to do push ups. As the conversation continues, however, Frank continues to check and reply to his other social media messages. Thus, Frank attempts to juggle multiple forms of interaction and social media as he continues to Skype.

I also asked Frank about to talk about a time that he Skyped that particularly sticks out in his mind. His answer was that once he Skyped for 3 hours, and as a result, fell asleep for about half of the chat. The Skype chat was with several friends at the same time, and as Frank was Skyping from his bed at the time, he found himself slowly growing more tired and less motivated to keep up with all the ongoing conversations.

What we can glean from observing and interviewing Frank is that his focus, even during Skype, is to be able to keep up with social media and friends. Skype is but one form of that social media, and context matters very much to how much he wants to keep up with the social media.


User 3: Lily – the user who Skypes frequently

Lily also uses her computer frequently throughout the day, as she is a graphic design student. She uses it heavily for her school projects, as well as to keep up with social media (though this is more primarily on her iPhone).

As for Skype, Lily uses it frequently to keep in contact and catch up with classmates and friends. She also uses it for interviews with employers and clients, which occurs frequently through Skype for her. On average, she notes that she Skypes anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. She notes that she enjoys Skyping because it allows her to be able to see the expression of the person she’s talking to.

As Lily starts a Skype call, she prepares for it by putting on her headphones and letting her studiomates know that she will be Skyping. Once the Skype call connects, she focuses on speaking to the person she’s Skyping, as well as scrolling through the internet to research various things she needs for her school projects and things she’s interested in. She also checks Facebook and email. Because the place that she is Skyping from is her desk in her class studio, Lily sits at her desk and is limited in the range of area that she can move.

I also asked Lily to talk about a time she Skyped that stuck out in her mind, and she talked about a time when she had an interview on Skype in her studio. It was her first time interviewing on Skype and she had to juggle answering the interviewer’s questions and presenting her work to the interviewer on Skype. She also found it doubly stressful because her studiomates were present in the studio as she interviewed and heard all of her answers. Thus, the context of the Skype call mattered for Lily’s interview, as she felt a pressure to juggle all of the information that she had to present and receive in the interview. It also raises the issue of privacy for Skype chats, as the location of where the chat is being held has an influence over both users in the Skype call.

06:24 pm, cleardaisies
Books at the Movies: A Review of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

The Quarterly Quill, September 21, 2013


The following article blurb was written for The Quarterly Quill, UC San Diego’s first literature magazine. The article covers expectations and comparisons of the film version versus the novel version.

There’s something at once familiar and yet new about James Thurber’s short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We’ve seen variations of the everyman’s story over the years (Fight Club and (500) Days of Summer immediately come to mind), and this latest film adaptation of Thurber’s tale doesn’t seem any different. Featuring the titular character Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) as the protagonist, this story is about the various adventures Mitty experiences in his fantasy world with alternating flashes of his real life. From the plot alone, I already get a sense that we’re treading into very familiar territory: there’s the average Joe who seeks escape from his reality by finding satisfaction in fantasy. At the same time, the fantasy world in the story provides an excellent backdrop that the film can play with, and I think that there’s a lot of potential to be had with this aspect. The way Mitty’s adventures can be translated hold a lot of potential for an exciting transition to the silver screen. Through the use of visually stimulating CGI and animation, the movie already seems to be moving in a Paprika-esque direction with lots of changing backgrounds and roles for our protagonist (from riding a skateboard on a highway to mountain climbing in the Alps). Overall, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty doesn’t seem to stray too far from known film stereotypes and plot material, but I think there’s a lot of promise as long as the film acknowledges these film tropes and plays with them in new ways. When all’s said and done, clichés can be enjoyable when they’re done well, and the story of Walter Mitty seems to be a worthy addition to this trend of twisting the everyman’s story .

03:28 pm, cleardaisies

Patterns and textures of downtown LA.

Shots featured: Disney concert hall shadows, mosaic patterns at the Disney concert hall roof garden, and shadows seen through the glass panels of the Disney concert hall.

10:35 pm, cleardaisies

Little Tokyo is hands down one of my favorite, and most familiar areas in downtown. I’ve been going there consistently every year since I was in high school, but I probably still don’t know its every nook and cranny. It’s definitely designed as tourist attraction though - I’m not sure if some of the buildings in the area actually have history attached to it or are just built to look “historical”, but the vibe in the neighborhood is very relaxed, and distinctly “Japanese” (if this is the main part near the Japanese American museum). And it’s great that there’s a moca extension and the arts district located in the area too - it makes for a great mix of art and culture.

10:55 pm, cleardaisies

This MOCA extensions holds a special place in my heart since it was one of the first art galleries I ever attended. I’ve probably passed by it many, many times since that first visit now, and the wonder of seeing it for the first time isn’t quite there anymore. But viewing this site through the eye of a tourist, of a photographer - I suddenly capture that feeling of amazement again. Yes, it becomes something of a spectacle, but that’s what is meant for the audience to see. It’s meant for urban walkers to see and experience, and it becomes part of the Little Tokyo experience. It becomes a memory, my memory.

12:42 am, cleardaisies
picture HD
Today was a day to explore parts of Los Angeles that are world famous, places that I’ve always known were there, but always remained a stranger to. One of these places was the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The building is a combination of glass and metal that leaves my minimalist-loving heart happy.

Today was a day to explore parts of Los Angeles that are world famous, places that I’ve always known were there, but always remained a stranger to. One of these places was the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The building is a combination of glass and metal that leaves my minimalist-loving heart happy.

09:03 pm, cleardaisies
1 note
picture HD
I don’t exactly live in the city of Los Angeles, but I consider myself a resident anyway since I’ve lived a majority of my life nearby. In many ways, the part of downtown LA sandwiched between Little Tokyo and Chinatown is the only real image I have of the city. What lies beyond this slice of LA, I must admit, remains a murky and not altogether distinct image. Maybe this all implies that I’m not truly a LA native, but this is truly one of the places in downtown that almost feels like home.

I don’t exactly live in the city of Los Angeles, but I consider myself a resident anyway since I’ve lived a majority of my life nearby. In many ways, the part of downtown LA sandwiched between Little Tokyo and Chinatown is the only real image I have of the city. What lies beyond this slice of LA, I must admit, remains a murky and not altogether distinct image. Maybe this all implies that I’m not truly a LA native, but this is truly one of the places in downtown that almost feels like home.

12:00 am, cleardaisies
Interpreting World-War Japan: From a Restricted Reality to Fantasy Film Elements

University of California, San Diego, June 13, 2014


This is an excerpt of a paper that I wrote for my senior capstone project in the International Studies department at UC San Diego. For a full version of this paper, please see here

Post-World War II was a particularly tumultuous period for Japan as the country struggled to redefine itself in multiple aspects under American occupation. There was a major disconnect between how the Japanese people viewed the emperor (and by extension, the government) before and during the war, and how they became disillusioned by that relationship postwar after Japan’s defeat by Allied powers. In addition to this loss of faith in Japan’s power, there were also numerous restrictions placed upon the country during this period as overseen by the United States in their occupation of the nation: these restrictions included, but were not limited to, the dissolution of the Japanese military, the emergence of a movement to democratize the Japanese government, and the censorship of press and media, especially in regards to Japan’s World War II history. These changes effectively marked the transition between World War II Japan and post-war Japan, and particularly during the post-war era (in the context of this paper, I define as the decade after the war), we see an influx of prominent Japanese writers and directors create the texts and media that we have come to associate Japan with in popular culture. For instance, Honda Ishiro’s well-loved Godzilla was released in 1954, only seven years after Japan surrenders in the war. This interest in Japan’s World-War II history and its postwar years continues to be seen even in the modern era (which I define as the last thirty years up to the present, starting from the 1980s) as new Japanese popular cultural texts and media continue to spring up and reinterpret new perceptions of the war that impact not only the current generation of modern Japanese, but also the global community on a larger platform. How and why then did the Japanese use popular culture to make sense of this divide between the two periods in the immediate post-war years and in more recent years, given the regulations imposed upon them? How do interpretations from different eras compare with one another? We do not necessarily have to read these two events as a linear process of cause and effect (we cannot say for certain that the rift between the people and the emperor or the regulations of post-war Japan caused more writers and directors to produce the cultural works that they did), but instead, we can explore the way these films and literature illustrate Japanese attempts to interpret and respond to the events of the war and its aftereffects. In answer to the question posed, I read the emergence of so much prominent literature and films as a nation-wide desire by the Japanese to reinterpret the facts and events of World War II beyond what limited information they had to access from the government. These representations have varied from generation to generation as different voices approached the subject of World War II in popular culture and reimagined it for contemporary contexts by crossing different genres and techniques, such as the role of science fiction in “Godzilla” to place the film in a situation reminiscent of World War II, or the use of supernatural elements and animation in Isao Takahata’s “Grave of the Fireflies” to evoke emotion and fantasy even in a slice-of-life genre. 

05:49 pm, cleardaisies
Informal Practice and Reclaiming the City: Speech That Does Not Require Words

University of California, San Diego, June 10, 2014


The following is an excerpt of a paper I wrote for a senior capstone project in the Communications department at UC San Diego. For a full version of this text, please refer here.

            At the beginning of this seminar, students were asked what we thought politics meant, and most responded with the following terms: rules, laws, people. The answers given reflected main concepts that are closely tied to the idea of politics: historically speaking, people have engaged with politics through communities of people interacting with one another (particularly with speech) to establish the kinds of rights that citizens should have. The term politics is thus defined as citizenship that continues to be contested through people’s engagement with one another in speech (Rubio). We see an example of this in classical Greece, where the right to politics was centered on the communication in a select group of white, land-owning males (Rubio). The emphasis on talk and communication is seen again in another age of political thought: Thomas Hobbes notes in his work Leviathan that political communities are formed through social contracts that people agree to. In both of these examples, we see ways that speech proves to be essential to the process of politics: words become the vehicle through which rights are negotiated whether in the context of creating laws or forming governments. Scholar Hanna Arendt further contributes to this discussion by noting that, “most political action […] is indeed transacted in words” (25). This then raises a few questions: does politics always occur through speech and communication of words? If not, then in what other ways can politics manifest? Through the exploration of the various methods of informal practices (Latino neighborhoods) and reclaiming of cities (High Line Park) and their related concepts, we can thus illustrate the way politics can be engaged with through physical activities; these practices redefine how people engage with politics and highlight the way politics can be expressed in speech that does not require words.