Thursday, December 14, 2006

Back in Phoenix... ...but only until Monday. It's been a great two-month project (other than a few personality glitches I can't go into). the client team was a perfect team: professional yet fun, demanding yet fair. That's the best way to be.
As for our team, well, it has been an honor and joy to work with them. If I say more, I'll probably begin to tear up. So, for now, I'll just say, "You guys rock!"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Winter Riding Even though it's the 10th of December, I was able to ride my Breva 1100 for several hours. At one point, my onboard thermometer read 62 degrees! How neat is that? At least, as far as motorcycling is concerned. Not sure how good it is for the health of the planet. Still, since I've been in Phoenix for two months, I'm glad to be able to get some riding in.
And speaking of riding, it was great to see a decent turnout at Poe's.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Casino Royale  A very well-done Bond. It's closer to the original plot line of a book since "Diamonds," if not "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." So, if you're a Bond fan, check it out.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Have They No Shame Redux  Rush & Michael J. Fox. 'Nuff said. Anyone who defends Limbaugh is a fellow traveller in vile, base and just mean bullying. Shame on them!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Deck Gun on the Constitution

Deck Gun on the Constitution
Originally uploaded by mojohand.
I had to get to Boston early for training next week. Fortunately, the hotel is almost next door to the berth for the USS Constitution, aka Old Ironsides.
Ever since I was a kid, I'd read about this great ship and its adventures from the days of the undeclared war with France in 1793 through the Barbary Coast wars and into its amazing victories int he War of 1812. Walking on those hallowed decks was a great thrill. it also took me back to my youth, when I read books about American history avidly.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Aimee Mann Live

Aimee Mann Live
Originally uploaded by mojohand.
What a show! I hope some of you had a chance to go, or have seen her, or will see her. First time for me to see her, but she was fantastic!
Not bad for an ex-Richmonder!
Girl in Blog  Last night we had the great fortune to meet mystery author Sujata Massey. She read from her latest book, Girl in a Box, about industrial espionage and Japanese department stores...featuring her great character, Rei Shimura.
Sujata was engaging, delightful, open, and helpful. Accompanied by Annapolis mystery author , Sujata joined Marcia in reading and chatting about writing and answering questions and signing books. All in a great evening...and K. and I both won door prizes!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Truth Be Told  I've been traveling by air more this year than I have since I returned from Germany in December, 2001. Most of my flying is with JetBlue, a great experience. But flight attendants and pilots still persist in blatthering the typical inanities that all airlines do.
Wouldn't it be great if they just told the truth?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Arrgh, Matey!  I don't know how I almost missed Talk Like a Pirate Day, but here it is.

My pirate name is:

Black Tom Roberts

Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. Two things complete your pirate persona: style and swagger. Maybe a little too much swagger sometimes -- but who really cares? Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

What's your pirate name?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

They Get It Over At COMCEN  The Colbert is brilliant...and these guys let you get in the act. Waaay too funny!
New User Experience Designs  The results are in: Winners of a Leopard preview are in. Nicely done. I especially like the fact that the winner won on the basis of his user experience-concentrated design, not on any visual gymnastics.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Have They No Shame?  Keith Olbermann serves it up best, and in this case, he hits one out of the park. Mr. Rumsfeld, dissent is critical to democracy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jim Webb

Jim Webb
Originally uploaded by mojohand.
The candidate and, it is hoped, the next junior senator from Virginia, speaking.

The crowd at the HQ Opening

Originally uploaded by mojohand.
Quite a lot of folks attended the opening of the Jim Webb headquarters in Richmond. Bob Annandale and I ran into Ivan Appelrouth, Henry Morse, Errol Soman, and Rob Murphy. it was definitely an overflow crowd, much bigger than had been anticipated.
And I still got a hot dog, cookies, and a soda.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fallout from Macaca   The best I've seen so far is from Wow. I chould have been so lucky. Still, it is the best in writing--three words that say it all.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Another Month Goes By  It seems I can't post on a regular basis. It's not that I don't think things. Sometimes it's just that I don't feel like blogging them.
On the other hand, I've been pretty busy—traveling to Boston/Cambridge and Milwaukee and Chattanooga/Lookout Mountain. Fun stuff, but also some work stuff. More later...
Certainly I've been amazed at the minimal fallout to the Allen campaign for his horribly jingoistic remarks. Then again, why should I be surprised? Allen is certainly an embarrassment to this commonwealth, indeed in comparison to its fine Senator Warner.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Avoiding a 2.0 DotBomb Crash  Heiko is always good for a quick link to new things in the Web 2.0 world. Here's some good advice.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

720 Megapixel Picture!  Sydney Harbor by night. Man! What a cool shot!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Working with Me Rules Although I didn't write these rules, I certainly think they apply to me. Thanks to Donna for expressing what I feel about myself....

* I may spend a long time seeming to do very little. Don't panic - I'm thinking. Exactly what you pay me to do.

* I spend a lot of time with earphones in. That means I'm trying to think and concentrate amongst the chatter of an office, not that I'm anti-social.

* If you give me a gantt chart all arranged in linear order, I'll nod and get to the end on time and budget, but not by the path you set.

* I spend a long time gathering information and thinking, and little time producing towards the end. Once I have nailed an idea, all else is straightforward and fast. So if you think I'm going to miss a deadline because I haven't produced much, stop worrying.

* Outputs need inputs - I have experience, but I can't design a good system out of nothing. I need to base it on something. Don't stick me in a corner and not let me research and talk to people.

* Teams are good - I have lots of experience at what I do. But so do you and the team. Let's work together to create something great. Don't make me work by myself and expect me to produce miracles.

* I'll occasionally rant and get passionate. That means I care.

* Give me challenging work, give me time to work through it and we'll get there. Don't expect me to to hard work in the same time I do easy work. That's just dumb.

* If there isn't enough work, I'd genuinely prefer to be at home. I'm not hanging around to chase dollars.

* I hate banging my head against a political brick wall. I'd prefer to be anywhere else - that's just a waste of time.

Good Customer Service Means Dealing With People

On a Jetblue flight last month out of Boston, we had megadelays. Yet the captain (Captain Dave!) kept us well-informed: he told us about the brake light that was coming on, he told us throughout the process what they were doing about it, and he apologized sincerely for the delay. Ultimately, we had to deplane and board another plane...but throughout the process, we knew what was going on, what to expect, and what the resolution was.
Too bad most companies as well as technological devices & software don't have the same ethics and behavior.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

New Bike!

It's Mine!
Originally uploaded by mojohand.
Went to Western NY and picked up my new Moto Guzzi Breva 1100. Scheweet!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Been Busy  Listening to "The Ipcress File"'s main theme...what a great movie, and what a great John Barry score. Anyway, haven't been blogging much atall. Geez...and so much going on: Haditha and militarized borders and defence of marriage (is divorce now going to be illegal? Hardly...ask Newt about that) and the beginning of hurricane season (go to and click on the image listed as "Spencer's Newest Music"...Get his song "The Long Black Line" for free) and Idol worship and...well, it's just been all out there.
Maybe after I pick up my new Guzzi I'll get back to blogging.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Grand Funk Railroad  ...especially Closer to Home, reminds me of 1971-1972 in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. I remember when my brother Ray brought the album home, its stark black-and-white tower of the heads of Mark Farner, Don brewer, Mel Schacher offset by blood-red "GRAND FUNK" across the left side of the cover. We used to listen to "Mean Mistreater" over and over, and we of course glommed onto "I'm Your Captain"'s nine minutes and fourty-seven seconds of paintive story.

Now, in the CD, I can hear not only the whole 1970 album, but an alternate mix of "Mean Mistreater" along with three live tracks. The true beginnings of heavy metal in the late '60s/early '70s....

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Black Cash  Go see 'em!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Great Roads in the C-ville Area  I've been in Charlottesville this week, fighting the GWOT. With great weather and the advent of daylight savings time, I've been able to take a motorcycle ride after work...over roads that are some of the best in the state. From 29's bypass I took 610 northwest to 810 east over to 664 southeast. Yesterday I went up 29 to take a side road that connects with 230 west to Stanardsville, then 810 all the way back almost to Crozet...and back to C-ville.
Those who live here are blessed with the ability to ride motorcycles on great roads. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

IA Summit 2006  The summit is a lot of fun this year, both personally and professionally. Actually, it's probably more fun professionally—I'm not feeling 100%, so I'm laying low. For example, tonight was the Adaptive Path free drink night...and I bagged off it. Instead, I ate sushi by myself and came back to the room to crash. Fell asleep watching Lawrence of Arabia, one of my favorite movies.

But Vancouver is a neat city. Liking it a lot.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

When is a Blog Not a Blog  I just stumbled onto Clooneygate.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Halliburton Redux  Sheesh. Things like this come out, yet almost none of the MSM cover it...much less the screed-head propaganda arms of the right wing (AKA Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, and so on): Seems that the administration-imposed no-bid company failed to purify water for troops in the field:
Halliburton Co. failed to protect the water supply it is paid to purify for U.S. soldiers throughout Iraq, in one instance missing contamination that could have caused “mass sickness or death,” an internal company report concluded.

Read more.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Deep Down in Florida  Every time I think about Florida, I think about that Muddy Waters song.
Anyway, I'm recovering from the vacation. It really was a fun time, though. We had a great two-day drive to get to St. Petersburg, where the folks are renting a condo.
We took in a Braves-Pirates game in Bradenton, which was great. We also spent some time in Ybor City, but really during the day; we didn't participate in its infamous night life. We also went to Sun City, to visit my father's cousin by marriage, Eve. What a hoot! "Preserve our lifestyle; slow-moving vehicles" is the community's mantra. How cute, really. Then we went to a restaurant by a marina, and afterwards visited a manatee-viewing site at a power plant.
As a side trip, I went to New Smyrna Beach—all the way across the state—to visit Bill Blue. Yup, the ol' denizen of Hard Times and my one-time boss lives there now. He surfs almost daily in season, and he has a recording studio.
He makes guitars, and he still performs. Looking good, too. In fact, he took me out on the beach at NSB. For me it was cool driving on the hard-packed, flat beach. I could see Daytona in the hazy distance north.

Anyway, I'm still working on uploading pictures.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

On Vaca...  No entries lately, because we've been on vacation. Right now I'm blogging from a motel in Dilon, SC, on the way home.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Blog Timeline  Heiko links to the New York Magazine's timeline of blogging. Nice to see my old acquaintance Peter Merholz gets his props.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Facing Time  Fast Company has a great quotation about time management. Basically, if work requires us to respond to emails on Sunday, we need to be able to set our time limits to go to the movies on Monday afternoon. That is, if companies require us to be available on weekends and evening, then they should also not look askance if we go to the movies in the afternoon or sleep late.
This morning at klatsch at Wired on Robinson, this topic came up. In too many jobs, it doesn't matter if you work until 10 p.m. or on the weekends—if you come in later than those who surf desks, the perception is that you're a slacker. Unfortunately, corporate management often disparages those who come in late...despite other efforts they make.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

PUT-ing Development on the Right Track  I've just written an article for the James River Chapter of STC. It's for their newsletter The Watershed. Here's my central point: Why do we always have time and budget to do things over (“We’ll fix it in the next version”), but we never have time to do things right?
From the article:
I spent two years in Germany, working for an international full-service Internet consultancy. Sometimes we had to check a feature of an application or Web site we were developing. Rather than stop development for a months-long series of usability tests involving video taping, one-way mirrors, and agency-recruited subjects, we relied on the Putzfrau approach. Because Putzfrau means “ cleaning woman,” the idea is to test with someone nearby who’s not part of your specific development project.
We would get someone from another team or department and ask them to perform specific tasks, either on a digital or paper prototype. These quick results helped center the development on user-oriented approaches, rather than technologically oriented ones.
Steve Krug has a wonderful chapter on usability testing in his critically important book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. While he takes the informality of usability testing to its extreme, he does highlight how cost-effective informal testing can be.
Rather than spending $10,000 to $50,000 on a series of usability tests, you can perform tests for a few hundred dollars. This approach eliminates the typical response to suggestions of usability testing, “We don’t have the budget for testing.”
We’ve all heard that before. I maintain, Why do we always have time and budget to do things over (“We’ll fix it in the next version”), but we never have time to do things right?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Missing Another Summit  Sadly, I'll be missing the Information Architecture Summit in Vancouver in March. It's too bad, too, because it's my favorite conference & training event. I always learn so much, I always get inspired—even when, like last year, I felt like one of the uncool kids. After a few emails & stuff, I'm feeling much better about that ;)
Still, the IA Summit is an important event in the user experience (UX) world. But try telling that to Central Virginia business leaders. Bottom line: this state don't git it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hard At Work

Hard At Work  The Good Humor Band at Poe's on Sunday was, as I said earlier, just simply amazing! Fun, funny, and brilliant. Go to the band's site for their story. You won't be sorry!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Another Example of Poor Usability  The Virginians who want to roll back the estate tax have an example of extremely poor usability. A link purports to take you to a map contrasting states with

So here's the question: what does blue mean, and what does white mean? Without a legend, this map loses meaning.
Sheesh. Yet another example of the dearth of UX in Virginia.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The WayBack Machine in Full Function  The Good Humor Band landed this weekend for its annual wacky music fest. Too bad for those who missed it, and too bad for me to have missed every one since the early 80s. Still, I finally got to see the bad boys of comedy (and musical excellence) for the first time since I went off to the Army way back when.
What a show—or should I say "shows." Saturday night at The Canal Club was fabulous. Great sound, nice stage, and cold beers. With Terry Garland ripping through a flawless set of blues, the evening was set. Even Joe McGlohon's daughter's band did a quick set of 80s covers to warm things up.
But the night belonged to the Humoroids. From "A Cowboy's Work is Always Done" to "Harlem Nocturne," the excellent musicianship combined with, well, good humor, made for a wonderful night.
Sunday afternoon at Poe's Pub also proved to be a never-forgetter. Guests such as Robbin Thompson (who can forget the band's intro to him?), Chuck Wrenn, and drummer David Eggleston's teenage son (is he even yet a teen?)(whose version of "Iko Iko" showcased his second-line skills, while Led Zeppelin's "Rock & Roll" was just short of fabulous) helped create a true party atmosphere.
All in all, I felt taken back to 1979 at the Pass...what a gas!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Meme-Tagged  Thanks to Joe, I've been tagged. So, why not? It's all fun...

Four Jobs I've Had
1. fry cook (shortorder cook)
2. radio DJ
3. blues band road manager
4. soldier

Four Movies I Can Watch Over And Over
1. Casablanca
2. Sullivan's Travels
3. The Quiet Man
4. Almost Famous (the extended version)

Four Places I've Almost Lived, And Still Plan To
1. Brussels
2. Austin
3. San Francisco
4. Amsterdam

Four TV Shows I Love
1. Curb Your Enthusiasm
2. Combat!
3. The Daily Show
4. Arrested Development

Places I've Vacationed
1. the Canary Islands
2. Nag's Head
3. Trento
4. Le Canal du Midi

Four of My Favorite Dishes
1. Carolina Barbecue
2. Red beans & rice
3. Sushi
4. Soft Chicken Tacos

Four Sites I Visit Daily
1. Wildguzzi's forum - sometimes fun, especially when you can't ride
2. - my news site, my TV channels, & my movie times
3. - actually, the Web mail part for internal users
4. Army Knowledge Online...

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
1. Working on a billable project
2. Riding my Moto Guzzi Breva 750
3. Sipping a mojito on the beach
4. Hamburg

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging
1. Heiko (who's probably been tagged way too many times, but still...)
2. Brutally Honest (hey, I'm an equal-opportunity blogger)
3. Girlwonder (Molly probably has no time, but still...)
4. (I'm workin' on it)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Murder in the Ville  So another person is murdered in Richmond. Not necessarily a big deal, in that we constantly appear in the top 10 murder cities of the U.S. Yet this one was a block from my house. So when it comes into your neighborhood, yeah, it's a big deal.
It's Still About Usability  So Heiko blogs about usability. That's nice, 'cause he does get it. But what's not so nice is that products still aren't designed from a user's perspective. I've been trying to get this message across, yet except for New York, Chicago, and the Bay area, most places don't seem to get it. Instead, they hire business analysts instead of user-experience analysts...with the result that the products' designs reflect the desires of the business, not the needs of the users.
Same old story, same old song and dance.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Nice Day for a Ride  It was a nice ride. I met Bob at 9:00 a.m. at Ashland Coffee & Tea, then left around 9:45 (after coffee & cigarettes—Bob had a smoke, that is). Then we took 54 to Hanover CH to 614 east to 30 to 360 east to 14 east to 17 south to Yorktown. Lunch at the pub. Then down the Colonial Parkway & up Route 5. Got to the Dairy Queen at 295 & Rte. 5 around 4 p.m. Not a bad ride. I was pushing it a leetle—about 5-8 mph above posted limits, except on the parkway (I stay pretty much at the 45 mph limit, maybe pushing it to 48).

Ah, yes...January in Virginia. How sweet it is!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Obfuscatio  So I ran across this sentence on a list I subscribe to:
In general, feminist theorists seek renewed social status
for non-analytical ways of knowing which, it is has been
argued, most eurowestern projects of modernity reject.

Is it just me, or is this a Macbethian sentence (full of sound and fury, signifying nothing)? At least it is, to my thinking, a further example of what's wrong with academ.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

2 Charged as Monsters  So two guys have been arrested in connection with the destruction of two families: the Harveys & the Tucker/Baskervilles. Seven people brutally murdered in seven days...and the details seem to be out of a movie like Seven. Let us hope for justice--but not for mercy.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Annus horribilis already   Horrible way to begin the year. And he was an acquaintance/friend from the 80s. So mind-numbingly sad.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Ein gute Rutsch!   A Happy New Year to all—may it be full of peace and happiness.