June, 2007

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Experience Expression Tour Part II: FAQ and Answers

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    In my last post, I gave an overview of the tour. In this post Paul and I will list the frequently asked questions during the tour and provide our answers.

    Experience Expression on other blogs:

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Experience Expression Tour Part I: Overview

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    WooHoo! David, Rini, Paul and I just finished our first Expression tour, Experience Expression,  in Canada. We went through 3 cities (Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver) in 3 days. Since this is a awareness tour, many of the designers and bloggers haven't seen Expression before. It was exciting to show how the different tools in the Expression family working together and the variety of rich user experience can be created using the tools. Thanks for all the people coming out to our event. We gathered great feedback and insights from the tour to prepare for the much larger scaled Expression tour in the coming year.

    In this post, I'll provide an overview of the tour, and in the part II of the post, Paul and I will list some common questions that were asked during the tour and provide our answers.

    Event Setting

    The event location in each city has their own style. The Richmond in Toronto has bright industrial design, Ex-Centris in Montreal is very hip and funky, and Canvas Lounge in Vancouver has a very artistically modern style. You can check out more photos here.

    Speakers (continue reading...)

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Silverlight Tutorials

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    There's a great new website out now that provides you with "snack-sized" tutorials on how to build rich web experiences and applications using Silverlight and Blend.  The website is called http://www.nibblestutorials.net/ and it's the brainchild of Celso Gomes, one of our top design engineers in Redmond (Microsoft's headquarters).

    New tutorials will be posted on a frequent basis, so make sure you check back there often.  The intent is that the tutorials be short in length so you don't have to invest a large chunk of time out of your day to go through them.  There's also a blog at http://blog.nibblestutorials.net/ for the site that is RSS-capable, which means you can keep track of new stuff put onto the site as it happens!

    Enjoy!

    -Paul

  • Canadian UX Blog

    EnergizeIT 2007 - Wow.

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      (Photo Courtesy of Rodney Buike)

    Well, EnergizeIT 2007 is done, and it was an amazing conference.  As Qixing mentioned earlier, it was a great experience for us.  It was great to meet a number of you as well (for example, Anthony, Tom and Abhijit) and I loved the feedback you provided on the spot. 

    We'd love to hear from you all on your experience at the conference.  What did you like?  How can we make it an even better experience for you in the future?  What Designer Track topics would you like to see next year?

    Just as a reminder, the main portal for the conference is www.EnergizeIT.ca.  All of the presentations that you saw can be downloaded there.  In addition, we will be posting the sessions online in streaming video over the next couple of weeks in case you missed a session you wanted to see or you weren't able to attend.  I have also been asked if the code for my demos can be made available - I will be posting that material at the EnergizeIT portal so you can download the code at some point over the next few weeks (I'll make a post for it when it's ready).

    Again, it was an amazing experience for me.  I was truly impressed with the enthusiasm and turnout for this conference.  It's great to see so many people as passionate about technology and how we can use it to make our lives better!

    By the way, one of the funniest videos I have seen in a long time was a summary of EnergizeIT 2007 by Bryce Johnson and the Chicken (both from the famed Chicken Test).  This stuff is pure genius.
    (Photo courtesy of Mark Relph)

     

    -Paul

  • Canadian UX Blog

    EnergizeIT07 - Designer Track

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    It was my first EnergizeIT experience yesterday. What a fun day it was! I like how the event unite all sorts of people who have passion in IT under one roof in one day. It does't matter if you are a IT professional, developer, designer, or a student, it's a big community event where you can have fun by learning and sharing.

    Keynote   David Crow and Mark Relph

    Paul and I had a great time presenting at the Designer Track in the afternoon. Thanks so much for all the people coming to our track. Here are some resource links that you may find useful:

    • EnergizeIT Content SharePoint site: you can download presentation decks from Designer Track here. At the same place, you can provide session feedback as well. This year is the first year we include Designer Track at EnergizeIT, so we would really like to hear your feedback on the sessions and the ways we can make them better.
    • At the track, there are some resource cards(e.g. Silverlight, WPF examples, and useful links) lying on the table. You can download a digital copy of the cards here.

     Thanks, Qixing

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Introducing MatchIT.ca

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    Matchit_Logo_237x70.jpg

    A great Canadian initiative - MatchIT is an online environment where charities and not-for-profit organizations can connect with Developers, IT Pro’s, Designers, Students or other technical individuals willing to volunteer their time and expertise to bring technology solutions to these organizations.  The goal is to enable them to be more effective with their limited resources and focus their efforts on having a positive impact in society.

    In the 2 weeks since it has been launched, over 600 professionals have signed up and almost 60 charity organizations have posted requirements! I've taken a look at the "opportunities" list, many requests are for web and interactive design. This is where we can help as designers. I'm volunteering, are you? 

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Web 2.0 Innovation Briefings - Slides and Webcast

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    A while back, I posted the slides from the Web 2.0 Innovation Briefing we presented in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.  You can find the slides here.

    Also, I presented a shorter, webcasted version of the Briefing last week.  The recording of this briefing can be found here.  The webcast is available in streaming video and as a downloadable WMV file, in case you want to view it offline.

    Enjoy!

    -Paul

    [ADDED BY PAUL LABERGE ON JUNE 20, 2007 (1:52PM ET)]:  For those of you using Office 2003, Office XP and Office 2000, you may get an error when you try to open the file.  This is because the file is in PowerPoint 2007 format which uses the OpenXML format (ECMA Standard).  You can still view Office 2007 files in the previous Office Suite versions I mentioned by downloading the Office 2007 Plug-in, which you can download here:  http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=941B3470-3AE9-4AEE-8F43-C6BB74CD1466&displaylang=en.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design of Future Things

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    That's right - it's me and Don Norman in the picture! I can't describe how excited I was to have a picture taken with the man who influenced the field of HCI so much. He changed the way we think about the design of everyday things. I remember after reading the example of poorly designed doors that trap people, I can't go through a door now without thinking about how usable are the doors I'm going through. Is it clear that I should push or pull?

    Today, at UofT, he talked about The Design of Future Things, which is based on his third book that's coming out this fall. The key point he made in the talk is that "intelligent" devices aren't intelligent, the intelligence is in the head of designers not in devices. Many modern automobiles are designed to be intelligent and try to take control from users such as the "keeping in lane" feature. These intelligent devices can operate in simple situations, but often fail or even cause serious damages when the situation gets complex or unexpected. Don points out what we need are things that make us smart. For example, a good recommender system that helps us to make great choices on buying new things. Design of future things should leverage natural signals, to let users interact with machines in an unobtrusive and natural way. Overall, the talk was a great food for thought session.

    Our own Bill Buxton from Microsoft Research was also in the audience. David and I got a picture with him as well. Bill will be giving a talk on "Sketching and Experience Design" at TorCHI meeting next Monday.

     

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Join and meet us at EnergizeIT!

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    For those of you who haven't seen Qixing's previous post on EnergizeIT, I'd like to let you know of this annual event that Microsoft Canada puts on every year in June.  EnergizeIT is about you as a professional in the world of technology.  This year, we have expanded the focus of this event to include content for Designers and developers with a leaning towards design as well. 

    The event is this Saturday (June 16, 2007) at the Metro Toronto Convention Center and it's a free event for you.  You can register here (space is filling up, so sign up soon!)

    Both Qixing and I will be presenting in the Designer breakout; we hope you can make it!  If you can, please feel free to come up and introduce yourself to us - we would be very happy to meet you and we're looking forward to presenting some exciting content for you!

    So, what exactly are we presenting?  Well below is a synopsis of our breakout sessions for Designers:

    Session #1: Thoughts from a designer within – introducing Microsoft-based UX platform and Expression Studio (Qixing Zheng)
    This presentation will provide a perspective Microsoft-based UX platform from a designer’s point of view.  We will show how the platform enhances user experience in Office, Windows Vista, Silverlight, and ASP. NET AJAX.  In this digital age where technologies are constantly changing, what new opportunities will open up for designers to create simple, elegant, and engaging UX? How can we create designs more efficiently and better work with developers?

    Session #2: Bringing Designers and Developers Together to Build Rich Interactive Applications (Paul Laberge)
    This session will expand on the concept of workflow between Designers and Developers and will show some of the new technologies that Microsoft has released helps this workflow.  Also discussed is how you can leverage new technologies such as Silverlight, Expression Studio and Visual Studio to create compelling, richly interactive user experiences, regardless of the platform you are targeting.

    -Paul

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Using Silverlight in Vista Sidebar Gadgets

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    Some of you may have started playing around with Vista Sidebar Gadgets in order to create a unique experience for your users in a fresh, new way.  If you have, you probably realize how easy it is to create a compelling Gadget for the desktop.  One of the things that people are starting to do with Gadgets is integrate Silverlight into their Gadget offering.  Silverlight is a great way to really build a compelling user experience with Gadgets as it allows great flexibility in how to design your UI.  With the limited space a typical Gadget has on the desktop, Silverlight enables you to create a visual experience outside of your typical HTML controls that most Gadgets currently use.

    Gavin Gear has a great tutorial on how to create a Silverlight-enabled gadget here.

    Enjoy!

    -Paul

  • Canadian UX Blog

    My First Three Months as a UXA

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    Today is my three-month anniversary of working as a User Experience Advisor(UXA) at Microsoft Canada. How time flies! Thinking back three months ago today: I got lost two times when trying to orient myself in the building; I was very impressed and confused at the same time by how many acronyms people were able to put into a sentence; and I was amazed at the number of emails I received before I was even able to log into my account. :-) Since then many people have asked me what's it like to work at Microsoft as a recent graduate? What does a UXA really do? So I thought I'd share with you some of my experiences as a newbie at Microsoft and in the industry of User Experience.

    UXA at Microsoft

    User Experience Advisor is a new role at Microsoft Canada, so I was hired as the first UXA. There are 17 of us around the world act as UX ambassadors for Microsoft. We are actively evangelizing the importance of UX both internally in the company and externally, sharing our UX practices with the UX community, and introducing the upcoming new technologies that are aimed to help designers with their work. At the same time, we are in the field talking to UX professionals and gathering their feedback about the new technologies and more importantly how Microsoft can better support the design community. One interesting effect I'm still getting use to is that people look at me as Microsoft rather than as an individual working at Microsoft.

    My typical week consists of a variety of different things such as visiting a design team in a company, attending/presenting at UX community events (i.e. Interaction Camp Toronto), blogging about UX news, meeting influencers in the UX filed, and trying out new technologies.

    The Mobile Working Life

    The whole community team I work with are mobile. Three of my teammates are not even based in Toronto. Thus, building an efficient virtual working environment is very important. Before joining Microsoft, face-to-face meetings and emails were sufficient to collaborate with people. Now I'm using audio conferencing and Live Meeting in addition to face-to-face meeting for synchronous collaboration, and email, IM, and Groove for asynchronous collaboration. It has changed the way I work and communicate.

    Into the Camp World

    I didn't hear much about the unconferenced style of events back in Vancouver. I was very skeptical about the idea of camp since it's not organized, especially as the presentation schedule is not determined ahead of time.  However, Toronto has such a strong camp culture that it opens my eyes. The recent DemoCamp, BarCamp, and InteractionCamp were all very successful. They are great for interacting with your peers, sparking ideas, encouraging spontaneous participation.

    Take on New Challenges

    During the past three months, I've taken many new challenges and pushed my own boundaries such as presenting Microsoft's new products and platform to a mixed background audience and building relationship with design agencies to help them improve the UX of their products. Each challenge has been a great learning experience and at the same time pulled me out of my comfortable zone, which has helped it grown larger.

    A Global Company

    There are always going to be new challenges, which is the really exciting part of the job. However, help is around. I was impressed by how virtually connected the company is considering its size. In additional to local resources, just last week, I had a technical meeting with a product manager in Redmond for two hours. People are connected with emails and IM around the world. The chances are someone will be able to answer your questions. The trick is to find the right person quickly, which is something I will have to learn to improve through practice. I cherish the opportunity of sharing my ideas with colleagues around the globe.

    That's it for now! I'll share more of my experience as I go along. Thanks for reading!

    Qixing

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Free Training on Expression Blend and Expression Design on Lynda.com

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    Expression Studio is a very valuable asset in the toolkits of designers and developers for building Rich Interactive Applications.  Along with the richness and flexibility they provide in creating compelling visual solutions, they are, like all tools of this calibre, complex by nature.

    To alleviate some of the learning curve issues you may be facing in familiarizing yourself with Expression Blend and Expression Design, Lynda.com has provided some free video training on these tools.  Below are the links to follow for the training:

    Expression Blend

    Please note that Silverlight is not covered in these Blend courses because Silverlight support will be in a future version of the product (Blend 2 May Preview, which you can download and try here).

     

    Expression Design

    In addition to the Lynda.com training, there is 4 hours of free training from Total Training are also available at www.microsoft.com/expression covering each of the four Expression tools (Expression Web, Blend, Design and Media). 

     

    Here is a complete list of WPF, Silverlight, and Expression resources.

     Happy Learning!

    -Paul

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Silverlight: Nominated for the CNET Webware 100 Awards

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    Despite the fact Silverlight was just launched officially over the past few months and what Silverlight was previously branded as WPF/e has been around for only a short while, CNET has nominated the technology for its Webware 100 Awards in the Publishing category.  This is pretty big news for such a new technology!

    You can vote for Silverlight in the Publishing category here.  Voting is now open and will be open until June 11th.  The winners will be announced on June 18th.

    Light up the web - Go Silverlight!

    -Paul

  • Canadian UX Blog

    MIX08 - Get ready because it's coming next year!

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    Well, it's official.  With MIX07 being wildly successful, it has been announced that MIX will be returning in 2008.  And yes, it's going to be at The Venetian in Vegas again.  Mark your calendars - you won't want to miss it!

    http://www.visitmix.com/Blogs/News/mark-your-calendar-and-save-the-date-for-mix08/

    Paul

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Microsoft Surface - Blending Virtual and Physical Worlds

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    When I was doing my masters degree at UBC CS, I had the chance to expose to many innovative ways that human can interact with computers. One of the fascinating area is supporting collaborative work on table top display. There are two very cool aspects of user experience for table top displays:first is the social aspect where multiple users can interact with the display at the same time; second is the blending virtual and physical aspect. When virtual and physical objects meet, a whole new world of possibilities open.

    Now we are able to see these types of research in commercial use with Microsoft Surface. With Surface, users can actually grab data with their hands, and move information between objects with natural gestures and touch. For example, putting a camera on Surface, all its photos will layout on the surface and ready to be shared. Simply put a cellphone on the same surface and select the photos you like to transfer to the cellphone. This makes photo sharing fun and extremely intuitive. You need to see it in action to experience it.

       

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