May, 2009

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Opportunity Rings – WIT Event


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    Continuing connecting with women in  IT, we have a joint event next month with IAMCP's Women in Leadership and Technology and CATA Women in Technology groups. We intend this to be a fun evening of networking, empowerment and finding the courage to follow your own dreams.

    Opportunity Rings: A NovelThe evening will include a light snack and will feature a book reading from Sheryl Steinberg, journalist and author of  the novel "Opportunity Rings", a light-hearted look at finding our strengths through our adversities.

    This is Sheryl's first book and came to life in spite of many people discouraging her from continuing with the project.  We are pleased to be part of promoting a Canadian author with her debut novel.

    In small break-out sessions, we will each have a chance to explore our own personal goals and to discuss and share with others what (if anything) is holding us back from living our personal dream.  You will walk away with at least one idea of how to make your own dream a reality.

    Come and join us!

    When:   Tuesday, June 16th

    Time:     5:30pm to 8:00 pm

    Where:  Microsoft Corporation, 1950 Meadowvale Blvd., Mississauga, ON L5N 8L9 (driving directions)

    Register here.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    TechDays 2009 Community Team


    As we are planning for TechDays 2009, my colleague Rodney Buike organized a community team, whose mission is to find the best content for TechDays’09. Let’s hear from him…

    Well you might have heard that TechDays is going to roll across Canada in the Fall of 2009 and while we have 6 of the 7 cities locked we are now starting to focus on content.  And there is a lot of content with 5 tracks each with 8 sessions for a total of 40 sessions over the two days.  So where does it all come from and how do we decide what to add to the agenda?

    Well a huge help in the decision making process about what to add to the agenda comes from you, via feedback forms at TechDays, emails to the team, comments and suggestions at user group meetings etc…  All that feedback counts and a prime example of that is a lot of people asked “Where is the SharePoint?” at TechDays 2008 so we’ve added that to our agenda for TechDays 2009. 

    With the tracks locked, the more difficult part is filling those tracks with useful and relevant content.  There is a lot of great content from MMS (Microsoft Management Summit), TechEd, TechReady (our internal training conference) that we leverage but sorting through it all is a challenge and this year we got some help from the community.  We selected five (5) people from across Canada, assigned them as community lead to each of the TechDays tracks and sent them to TechEd to hunt for the best content.  They’ll also go over content from other events such as MMS and recommend content that should be included in each of the tracks.

    Brad Bird is an IT Professional of 12 years experience. Currently working as an independent consultant associated with Infront Consulting. Brad has more than 8 years under his belt specifically in Windows Networking Administration. Among his specialties are: Windows security, forensics, intrusion prevention and detection, Active Directory implementation, System Center Operations Manager and Data Protection Manager implementation and consulting.

    Brad will be looking for content related to security and management of Windows environments including System Center, ForeFront and Windows Server 2008 and R2 including Hyper-V.


    Bill Brockbank works for Navantis Inc. a Canadian MS Gold Partner, as a Solution Architect with a background in business process management in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and Workflow technologies, Windows Workflow Foundation and Caparis Workflow. Bill is also a co-founded for the Toronto SharePoint Camp and an active member in the local SharePoint user community.

    Bill will be on the hunt for the best SharePoint, Exchange and Office Communications Server content as well as anything on the Business Productivity Online Suite, SQL 2008 and anything else that helps you implement, manage and customize a collaborative work environment in your organization.


    Daniel Nerenberg is an MCT,MCSE,MCITP, and an independent consultant based in Montreal. Daniel has written and consulted on the topics of Windows Deployment, Application virtualization, and Windows infrastructure. Daniel Also writes regular updates for "The Lazy Admin" Tech guidance website at  Daniel is also a member of the Springboard Technical Experts Panel.

    Daniel has been tasked with finding the best content around deploying and managing Windows operating systems as well as solving application compatibility issues with ACT 5.5, XP Mode, MED-V as well as, securing the desktop.


    Francois Tanguay

    François Tanguay is an agile coach and co-founder of nVentive, a new concept where software development teams leverage coaching and guidance packages to build better software. He presently helps large scale institutions achieve their desired results through VSTS, agile processes and software frameworks. For over 10 years, his modeling skills and inventive ideas have guaranteed interesting discussions.

    With Francois expertise in the development field he was best suited to coming back with the best development related content and has a fairly wide scope of sessions to look at.  From VB6 to .NET migration all the way to Application Lifecycle Management and Visual Studio Team Suite there is a lot of great content that Francois will be bringing back from TechEd.

    Miguel Carrasco

    Miguel Carrasco is Vice President of Technology at Anvil Digital, a software development and marketing company in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  With over 10 years experience in the IT industry, Miguel has been involved in over 100 real world projects ranging from software development, team leadership and organization, creative user experience design, and infrastructure projects.  Miguel has always enjoyed design and the user experience angle of software development. 

    Miguels mission is to locate the best content with regards to developing applications on the Microsoft platform.  Another rather wide ranging scope with content from developing on Windows 7 to Windows Mobile to the web as well as cloud computing with Microsoft Azure.

    Over the next few weeks and months leading up to TechDays Vancouver in September you’ll see blog posts from the community team as to their experiences at TechEd and TechEd Online, why they recommended certain sessions over others and how they helped ensure that TechDays 2009 has the content that ICT professionals in Canada want!

  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Microsoft Designer: Surya Vanka


    There are about 750 UX designers and researchers working at Microsoft. People in the UX community are often very surprised to hear about it. I think part of it is we haven't given our designers enough opportunities to talk about what they do and what's it like to work as designers at Microsoft. During my spare time when visiting Redmond, I try to talk to as many designers as possible from different product teams and share with you their stories.

    In this episode, I had the chance to chat with Surya Vanka, who’s the Principle Manager of User Experience at Microsoft. Surya leads the team that promotes UX Design excellence and supports designers’ career growth in the comapny. Therefore, it was very interesting to hear his perspective on Microsoft’s design culture and career opportunities for designers.

    image In our 15 minutes conversation below, I asked Surya the following questions:

    • What is your role and main responsibilities?
    • You are a seasoned UX professional at Microsoft, how was the UX culture changed during the time you've been at MS?
    • What are the different things we do to help designers grow at Microsoft?
    • What are the career models for UX designers and Researchers at Microsoft?
    • What are some exciting opportunities for designers at Microsoft?
    • What makes a successful UX designer working at Microsoft?

    Surya’s Bio

    Surya is Principal Manager of User Experience at Microsoft Corporation, and oversees best practices and engineering standards to create high-quality user experiences for Microsoft’s customers. He has worked a designer and manager on several products during his ten years at Microsoft. His mission is to put the users rather than technology at the center of the development process for all of Microsoft's products. Surya was professor of design at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was a Fellow at the prestigious Center for Advanced Study. He is the author of two books on design, has lectured on design in over 20 countries, and is widely published. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Design Council UK global design study, Form, ID Magazine, WIRED, Interactions, BBC Radio, National Public Radio, and Channel 15 Television. Surya is a frequent speaker worldwide; his recent speaking engagements include keynote presentation at -- Dutch Design Week (Eindhoven), Barcelona Design Week (Barcelona), Digital Days Conference (Paris), Spletomanija (Ljubljana), Danish Design Center (Copenhagen), Thought Leadership in Management Conference (Mumbai),  Design: The Linking Force (Paris), Creative IT Conference (Twente), Expressions (Moscow), International Design Research Conference (Hong Kong), International Schools of Business Conference (Orlando) and Expressions Design Tour (Oslo). He regularly teaches design, user research and innovation courses in Asia, Europe, North and America.

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Student of the Month - Salpy Elizabeth Kelian


    There are a lot of creative students in Canada who are doing innovative work to improve people's life through interactive, visual, informational, and other aspects of User Experience Design. I invited them to introduce who they are and share their work with you. To nominate a Design Student of the Month, email us. The Design Student of the Month for May 2009 is Salpy Elizabeth Kelian! Congratulations!! Let's hear from Salpy.


    Who’s Salpy?

    Hi, I’m Salpy and I live in Toronto. For the past eight months I have attended Sheridan College’s Interactive Multimedia Program (IMM). I decided to go back to school for IMM after working as an instructional designer as I wanted to learn a lot more about programming for interactive multimedia. Though I had taken computer science as an elective during my undergraduate degree, I found IMM a lot more hands on and applicable to online material. Interestingly, this isn’t my first career. I’ve also worked as a researcher, and am a certified secondary school science teacher.

    What cool stuff is Salpy doing?

    The largest project I worked on during this school year was my second term client project. It was a group project in which I was the project manager. Our challenge was to create a Microsoft Surface mock up in Flash for Royal Caribbean International (RCI). It was up to us to research RCI in order to create an application for Microsoft Surface that would attract cruisers to choose RCI over its competition.

    We decided on creating a Virtual Concierge that featured many of the key attributes of Microsoft Surface such as object recognition, multi-user and direct interaction. As it was a Flash mockup, we couldn’t quite emulate the multi-touch aspect. In order to compensate, we still had the scaling and rotational features of each window in place to emulate the feel of a Surface application. For user testing, we had members of the class along with the client try out the application as the work progressed. It was extremely helpful having class members try the application as they had no idea as to what the application was for. Having them use it intuitively and be able to figure out the purpose behind it quickly let us know that our application met its goal of intuitive user interface.

    For an overview of the project please see To see the Flash mockup in action

    What are Salpy’s plans after graduation?

    My goal is to learn a lot more about creating functionality that provides users with a great interactive multimedia experience. As the newest member of Jam3Media (, I’ll definitely be meeting my goal of working on highly interactive, multimedia rich sites that feature an excellent user experience.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Microsoft Designer: Aaron Woo from Windows Mobile Team


    There are about 750 UX designers and researchers working at Microsoft. People in the UX community are often very surprised to hear about it. I think part of it is we haven't given our designers enough opportunities to talk about what they do and what's it like to work as designers at Microsoft. During my spare time when visiting Redmond, I try to talk to as many designers as possible from different product teams and share with you their stories.

    image In this episode, I chatted with Aaron Woo, who is a UX Designer at the Windows Mobile Design Team. In our 15 minutes conversation below, we talked about the following topics:

    • What’s your role and responsibilities?
    • Why did you decide to join Microsoft as a UX Designer?
    • What are some design challenges for designing mobile interfaces?
    • What’s it like to work at Microsoft as a designer?
    • What’s the collaboration like within the design team?
    • What contributes to a great designer?

    Aaron’s Bio:

    Aaron Woo is an Interaction Designer on the Windows Mobile design team working on the next version of Windows Mobile. Before coming to Microsoft he graduated from the University of Washington with a BFA in visual communication design. He is currently entering his second year working full-time at Microsoft.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Try out Win7 RC Today!


    Window 7 Release Candidate is available for public download today!

    Throughout our EnergizeIT tour last month, many of you came to the events and shared your thoughts on the user experience, performance, application capability and security of Windows 7 Beta.  This feedback was extremely valuable because it provided a long-term evaluation of the product in real world environment, which we can’t easily test in lab settings. It’s your collective wisdom that results better design solutions.  Check out the Engineering Window7 blog to learn more things we’ve changed since Win7 Beta and try out Windows 7 RC today!

    Below are some pictures from the last Install Fest we ran in Edmonton last week. Check out how people are enjoying their Win7 experience.

    Painting is more fun with fingers in Windows 7 touch. Painting is more fun with fingers in Windows 7 touch by you.                                    Getting ready to install Windows 7 together. DSCN0486 by you.











    John is entertaining the crowd by asking who has the oldest PC.John Bristowe kicked off Intall Fest at Edmonton. The crowd is ready to go. by you.               A clean install of Win7 on Mac (not with Parallels)A clean install of Windows 7 on Mac (not with Parelell) by you.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    UX Design and Research Training at Microsoft



    UX community within Microsoft is growing rapidly. Both UX designers and researchers play important roles in product development just as our mission states: “We seek to create products that people will love.” So, what’s the training available for new UX hires that can help them become effective UX professionals working in high-speed product teams along with Program Managers and Software Engineers?

    This week, I had the opportunity to attend a 3-day training course in our headquarter, Redmond, to find out more. This course offers quarterly.  Check out the course description below. From the description, you can see the course focus heavily on career skills: communication, collaboration, and career management skills from perspective of a UX hire. In addition, this is a cross-company training, so participants get to network with peers from other product teams. During the training, I also had the chance to interview two designers about their experience working at Microsoft. I’ll post the podcasts once they are finished. Stay tuned!

    User Experience Design and Research Course

    This course provides a solid foundation for individuals new to user experience (UX) design and research roles at Microsoft. Following the product life cycle, students learn about:

    • Key user experience deliverables
    • How to work on teams effectively (including establishing your role, communicating effectively, and achieving and measuring impact)
    • Career management basics
    • How to participate in and learn from the cross-company UX community

    Students also have the opportunity to interact with guest speakers from the UX community and other disciplines.

    Our class photo:

    Engineering Excellence for User Experience Designers and Researchers - 2009-05 01

  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Microsoft Designer: Allison Gallant from XDR


    Allison1smallSQ (2) There are about 750 UX designers and researchers working at Microsoft. People in the UX community are often very surprised to hear about it. I think part of it is we haven't given our designers enough opportunities to talk about what they do and what's it like to work as designers at Microsoft. During my training last week at Redmond, I sat down to chat with Allison Gallant, who is a fresh new designer at Windows Experience Design and Research (XDR) Team.

    In our 10 minutes conversation below, I ask her the following questions:

    • What’s your role and responsibilities?
    • Why did you decide to join Microsoft?
    • What’s your experience as a new designer at Microsoft, especially fresh out of school?
    • What’s it like to work in a large design team such as the Windows Design team?
    • What’s your advice for news grads who are looking for UX design jobs?

    Allison’s Bio:

    Allison is a User Experience Designer in the Windows and Windows Live User Experience Design and Research Team (XDR). Fresh out of school, she has only been working at Microsoft for the past 3 months. Prior to this, she studied at Carnegie Mellon University with an undergraduate degree in Communication Design and Psychology and a Master's degree of Human-Computer Interaction. Although she is quite new to practicing in this field, she is very excited about all the opportunities to improve HCI that working at Microsoft affords her.

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