Monday, April 30, 2007

CHI 2007: Day 1

My first time at CHI has proven to be pretty interesting. I ran into a bunch of people I wasn't expecting to: Karen, Boaz, and Prof. Hollan from UCSD cogsci, Kevin from Stanford, Kerry from Google.

I went to a bunch of paper talks which were more interesting than I expected them to be. The Q&A sessions after each presentation are good. People ask good questions and it is thought-provoking. I am reminded of how in school everyone seems to hate the kid/s that raise their hand all the time and ask questions or make comments. Is it the same thing but somehow more enjoyable?

The author of the textbook for our Cognitive Engineering course (COGS 102C), Karen Holtzblatt taught a few courses. Kelly and I went to one each. It was interesting to hear her convey the same ideas in a more adamant and no-bull way. Also, she gave great examples of each main concept that made everything easy to understand. Sometimes when I read the hypothetical or procedural text, it can be ambiguous.

A few course points, paper presentations, and posters were especially intriguing but I'm too tired to write them in this post. Tomorrow, I've got an all-day course and I'm starting to wonder if that is an unrealistic plan. I guess we'll see!

Random observation: Lots of people from UK are at CHI.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hi-res widescreen is a pleasure

Before I plow through my homework for tonight, I re-realized how much a pleasure working on my 1680 x 1050 pixel monitor is. I can easily work with an open PDF that has the homework problems on it and an open document to write in. There are times when I feel reading on the screen just doesn't cut it but that's a story for another day.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Entrepreneur Stories Are the Best

I find it particularly enjoyable to read entrepreneur and startup stories. Of course, mainly stories with good outcomes get circulated but I enjoy a quality about them that is reminiscent of any classic hero story formula. The great thing is that you as a reader might have real-world connection to aspects of the story either through similar experiences or because you know their product or industry.

For example, I think a big part of what would make reading the Google story interesting is the fact that it's something you use and know about and you could become aware of how it came to be. Then again, I'm an absolute documentary nut and I don't read much fiction.

I stumbled across this book while browsing the web, Founders At Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days. The quotes are pretty interesting and I enjoy that the page numbers are cited, giving a sense of how the book might be paced and the range of variety.

I think I'll pick up a copy at some point and I hope that it will differ from other startup story books by presenting an interesting cross-section of startup lore as opposed to one profile that is drawn out for longer than necessary.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Get more results with fewer keywords

eBay has this interesting suggestion tool for when a search on their site yields zero items. Not only does it suggest alternative search strings with fewer keywords, it also shows how many items are found for which combinations of fewer keywords. Listing the number of items found for each possible query string provides decent information scent and seems to be the coolest part about this tool. Of course, I have to decide which keywords are the important ones but this saves a lot of my time and guesswork effort.

Pretty nifty!

Here's a direct link to the search string I used: "2001 monster 750 frame" in case you wanted to see if there are still no items and play with the alternate keyword combinations.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Loved Ones = Costs to Cut?

I recently bought some tickets at and after I completed my transaction, there was a link that said something like "Want to get $40 back? Find out how!" On that page, there was this picture of what looks like a father and son at a hockey game.

Hopefully it is supposed to say to me something like "Your son can go for free."