Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Originally uploaded by Steven+Alison Hoober.
Yesterday I took a quick trip out to Kansas with some colleagues from our Mobile Devices business to speak at the Design for Mobile conference. As many of you know, the conference was in Lawrence, Kansas. Which is a bit of an odd location for a conference like this, but only an hour flight from Chicago so that worked out nicely.

I have to give credit to the organizers for getting a great lineup of speakers to come out to Kansas. Mike Lundy from Sprint gave a nice case study of how they made their now super-popular Instinct phone. Unfortunately for device manufacturers, they pretty much just took the hardware from Samsung and designed all of their own applications on it. It will definitely be interesting in the next few years to see how the carrier/manufacturer experience wars play out.

Moreten Hjerde from Vodafone gave a nice talk about metaphors in UI design and on the importance of spatial interfaces. He had a lot of great ways to describe the thinking that has made phone design how it is today...the silo-ed applications that keep data in separate databases, unlinked, unexplorable, unconnected. Also just how so many phone interfaces take the easy way out instead of really mapping themselves to how real people think about their data.

One other talk of note was Francis Djabri of Nokia who talked about Mobile Services. As most of you know, Nokia is strongly moving towards services in their business and made a major reorganization earlier this year in that direction. Francis laid out the case brilliantly for services and for worth-centered design. Mobile applications really do need to be services that are in constant beta and easily updatable. The web world has a lot to teach the mobile industry and new mobile apps/services really do need to be down in that 9mo time to market and not up in the 24 month range they are in today.

So what did I do at the conference? I was on a panel with Rafiq Ahmed, JoEllen Kames, and Lauren Schwendimann from our mobile devices business talking about "Collaborating Across the Corporate Divide." We used our work together on two projects as case studies for successful collaboration across multiple disciplines and organizations to move ideas from initial concepts through design, prototyping, and commercialization. Unfortunately we couldn't talk about the specifics as our work hasn't quite hit the market yet. But it still made for a great talk on how research, design, prototyping, product engineering, and business teams can all work together in small teams to get new applications and services created "quickly" and with high quality.

While there, I was also invited to join a panel on " Envisioning the Mobile Future." That was fun and we had a nice discussion on the personal aspects of mobile devices, constant ambient awareness of others status/photos/etc., the (un)importance of video communication, and the impact of mobile services. It was a fun way to end the conference part of the day.

After drinks in a bank-turned-restaurant (with restrooms in the vault!), we had dinner at a nice little Thai place called Zen Zero. They had a great yellow curry with tofu and potatoes that really hit the spot after a busy day.

Since there's a lot of mobile stuff in this post, I must state as always: "The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent Motorola's positions, strategies, or opinions."


Sunday, September 21, 2008

5k on the runway

I think I should keep running 5k races. Everytime I've done one this year, I've shaved about 45 seconds off of my time on the previous one!

Today was the Athens Sister City 5k on the Runway at O'Hare. Yes, like the airport. O'Hare just finished a giant new runway so that they can have 3 simultaneous takeoffs/landings going on at the same time instead of 2. It's set to open soon and mayor Daley is having this all day celebration there today, beginning with the run.

I arrived about an hour early and all was amazingly well set up. Free parking in lot G, clearly marked packet pickup and t-shirt tables, D-tags (disposable RFID timing chips) taped to the bibs, no line at gear check. These are the same people who put on the horror that was the Bastille Day 5k, so I was expecting the worst :) No one had an idea what the course would be, since they told us that for security reasons they couldn't tell us and to just follow the course officials. It started about 15 minutes late due to other unnamed "security issues" but other than that, it was all pretty fantastic.

As I feel a cold coming on, I wasn't expecting to go very fast. I planned for just a nice little fun run along the runway. But I ended up lining up a bit towards the front of the pack and decided to just go for it, and if I felt tired, I could just slow down. It was about 3/4 of a mile out to the end of the runway and as I turned the corner, the clock showed I was going a bit faster than planned. I hit mile 1 at about 8:10. The race continued as an out-and-back on the runway and as I turned to come back I was still feeling great. I ran past the aid station and hit mile 2 at about 16:25, still on a great pace. Coming off the runway there was a bit of a downhill to get back to the parking lot and I stepped it up a little, figuring why not? As I made it to the 3 mile mark, they announced that it was coming up on 25 minutes. It was a good thing he repeated it twice because I was sure he had to be wrong. Putting it in high gear, I crossed the finish line to end at 25:30 clock time (25:18 chip time - 8:08 pace!).

Water, gatorade, and bananas were to be had after the race and gear check had no line. All in all, a very wonderful race and fun to have another PR as the race running season comes to a close. Of course for me, the personal running season is just getting going as it's 16 weeks to the Disney Marathon!


Saturday, September 20, 2008


As many of you know, I'm heading off to Lawrence, KS this week for the Design For Mobile conference. I'm in a panel with some coworkers on "Collaborating across the corporate divide" where we talk about how we work together across research, design, prototyping, engineering, business, carrier, etc, etc roles. Of course we can't actually talk about the project we worked on since it's not out yet, so we have to focus just on the process. Which should be odd, but good!

Anyway, tonight I was telling my dad about this and he became confused. Design? But you write software? So I had to explain, but I design too. And he was like, yeah, design the software, right? And I said, no, like design how the device works and what it does and how people interact with it. At which point his response was a confused, so you write software, design, interview people, write papers, write patents, teach at MIT, and talk at conferences? Yep, was my reply :)

I love my job!!


Redmoon Theater

Redmoon Theater
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
I had a wonderful time last night seeing Dr. Egg and the Man WIth No Ear at the Redmoon Theater with Sara. For those not familiar with the theater, their motto is "engineering wonder" and it's spray painted on the side of their warehouse/build center/performance space on the near northwest side of Chicago. They also like puppetry.

The show was visually amazing with video projected on a screen in front of the actors, super-intricate puppet scenes, and scenes that utilized the screen, actors, and puppetry in unison. I'm definitely hooked on Redmoon and their productions. Actually, I became hooked without even seeing a show after their creative director spoke at Pecha Kucha a few months back on dreaming big and being ok with failing big. Oh, and when the show is over, you can go up close and look at all of the amazing props/puppets/etc that they built for the show.

After the show, we enjoyed some amazing views of the city while trying some wine at the Tasting Room on Randolph. Also highly recommended!

It was so nice to have an evening out...I've been so stressed with lots going on at work lately and last night was totally what I needed to kick me out of that funk and calm me down a bit.


Monday, September 15, 2008

rove on mccain

When Karl Rove says you've gone too far, you've really gone too far!!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

not running...

I was signed up to run the Banco Popular Chicago 1/2 Marathon today and was definitely all excited about it. However, when waking up at 4:30am to get ready, and the TV weather both said that there should be 22MPH winds and heavy rains by around 9am in the city. That convinced me that a two hour trip to the south side was not worth it and I decided to go back to bed.

In retrospect, I wish I would have just gone through with it and made it down there. The race started to not-so-bad weather, although a few dark yellow/orange blobs did quickly pass through the route. It would have been a wet race, but still fun I think.

The next race I'm signed up for is the Disney Marathon. I might try to find another half or something else in the mean time. Maybe the Tower of Terror 13k if a work trip to FL happens to align with that.

EDIT: for those not living in the area, my town got 10" of water in the last 2 days.


Monday, September 08, 2008

cool things I've seen lately...

Not a whole lot of time for a full post tonight, but thought I'd pass along a few good links I've seen lately...

1. The BBC has a nice article on global footprint issues and meat consumption. While the article mainly focuses on greenhouse gas emissions, there's a lot to be said about just land footprint use as well. Maybe I won't have to keep explaining myself to people if this gets enough press this time :)

2. Tag cloud of the various convention speeches. I find it interesting that Obama didn't say "change" nearly as much as he's being criticized for.

3. HP is now selling laptops in laptop bags. Awesome! It's a nice bag too!

And finally, it's hard to believe that it's the start of the school year again, but today tutoring started back up at 826! It was a fun afternoon with so many kids showing up and lots of fun had by all! I'm so happy to be back for my 3rd year now. And love the veggie bite across the street for after-tutoring dinner!


Thursday, September 04, 2008

gates and seinfeld?

I was working out at the gym today (raining outside) and saw this commercial and was very confused.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Nike Plus Human Race Chicago

Last night I ran the Nike Plus Human Race in Chicago. It's a worldwide event that was going for setting a record on the number of runners in a one-day event. They had about 500,000 which is pretty amazing, 15,000 of which were in Chicago.

I took the train/el down there and got to the stadium about an hour before the race. Gatorade and Ice Mountain were sponsors, so there was plenty of water to hydrate with which is good since it was still about 87 degrees outside. Gear Check was inside soldier field and super-organized. Nike really knows how to put on a race!

The start corrals were a bit packed while we were all waiting for the race to start. There were a lot of last minute sign ups and they didn't quite realize how many people would be there. After Wayne Messmer sang the anthem, and the US top finisher in the olympic marathon wished us good luck, we were off!

The course followed LSD down to Oakwood (about 40th st) st and then came back on the lake front path. I went out a bit fast, but really wanted to try to set a PR on the race - which I knew would be hard after my awesome napa-sonoma 10k time. I hit the first few miles at 8:30 pace which I knew I couldn't sustain, but also knew that I only needed a 9:00 pace overall to hit my goal. Around the halfway point I was just so hot and not feeling extremely well but kept going on. My last few miles were around a 9:30 pace, so all averaged out well in the end. As I turned the final corner, I knew I could make it and set a new PR with a time of 56:08, 9 seconds better than my old PR.

After the race there was the usual gatorade, water, etc. but following that was a Fall Out Boy concert in Soldier Field. They put plastic mats on the grass and all 15,000 of us made our way onto the field for a great concert! So much fun!