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Refresh Philly: June Wrap-up

Refresh Philly: June

The big problem with this months Refresh Philly was that I couldn’t be in 3 places at once.  That’s because rather then the usual meet on 45 for great views and two presenters, Refresh met in CIM City and broke up in to three groups.

The main act was Jonny Goldstein, a giant white board and a bunch of folks interested in learning visual note taking and how to better get their ideas out of their heads and onto paper (via drawing).  I didn’t catch much of this one though it was high on my list, from what I did see, one of the things to keep in mind is to keep it simple…as in simple shapes (squares, circles, etc.).  Don’t get caught up in drawing the right shape for say a cat, go simple and move on.  Add the polish later (FYI, that was me paraphrasing right there).  Every time I saw the group they looked either fully engaged in what Jonny was saying or they were busy drawing.

On one side of CIM City was K-Fitz and others that wanted to work together to create an application using data from  Kevin broke down the details of the contest and connected designers with developers so they could break into smaller groups and work out a plan.  Near the end I saw them regather to talk as one big group again. Wish I could tell you more but I was on the other side.

On the other side of CIM City was Livia talking about “Design Games.”  The name may be confusing but basically they are fun and effective methods used to help problem solving (often used in the design process).  I’m sure you may have heard of a few of these included free listing, reversal, role playing, and divide the dollar.  Livia provided a great pamphlet explaining each of the different techniques, you can visit for similar details on each of the games.  She then led the group in trying some of them out.  We picked the game to try and some of their pros and cons became clear as we used them.  After each round Livia pointed out some of the real world nuances to be aware of ensuring better results.  I look forward to having an opportunity to put some of these to use while they’re still fresh.

Refresh Philly
Jonny Goldstein
Kevin Fitzpatrick
Livia Labate

Code Personal

The Rapid Concepting/Development Experiment

Monday was the start of Lab Week for the developers at CIM.  The idea being that the developers could get a chance to work on stuff that wasn’t part of their everyday routine.  Similar to the 20% time that Google has made famous, but in this case the time is collected and used as a team over the course of a week (Lab Week).

Overall I think the concept behind Lab Week is great, we just need to smooth out the implementation.  Based on how things ran I learned that for Rapid Iterative Design (method modified from Todd Warfel‘s talk at Refresh Philly) to work there needs to be a moderator.  Ideally the moderator would be an unbiased non-participating person, and not the HiPPO in the room (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion – alla Google’s talk to CIM from a week earlier).  This moderation seems to be needed to keep the pace of the itteration process as well as keep people in the present and focused on the current goals.

Two other things that I feel would aid the overall goal of Lab Week are the removal of other external workload stresses and bottom up decision making.  Actually, I think these last two are essential components, without them it’s hard for members to focus on the lab project or feel the level of project ownership that motivates and inspires.

My comments above meant to guide us for the ideal Lab Week.  For our first run there was much to be proud about.  On Monday there was nothing, on Friday we had all the parts for our proof of concept.  A few more hours this week to bring everything together and we’re done…for now.  Even with some hours being done this week the time it it took us to go from nothing to complete will be shorter.  The integration between the teams will only help future projects run smoother.  And who knows maybe the concept we had has some legs and takes off.

Apps Entertainment

Retro Geek for a New Year

Video Terminal Sample

It’s New Year’s Day 2009, and people are busy making and breaking their resolutions for a better future. Others are already saying 2008 is passé. Well to counter all this futurism I instead offer you this look back to a time when computers lacked all the visual power of today. Back when screens were all black and green. When images were either all blocky or made up of keyboard characters. For some this is a past that you’ve never had a chance to enjoy…

…well now you can with Video Terminal, a little app created by Arpit and myself that lets you watch video in three old school styles: Mosaic, ASCII and ASCII in color. Directions and additional info available at CIM Labs.

Note: you may need to install Adobe AIR to run the video terminal app.

CIM Labs
Video Terminal
Arpit’s Blog