4B Completed

Studies

Taken quite some time ago – certainly not during this semester. Playing with the camera instead of studying.

Yes, exams wrapped up several days ago, but it didn’t feel quite right that I write my traditional concluding message on the semester until finding out the last final’s mark. As it turns out, my fears of failure were quite unfounded, and I passed the course with flying colors.

The last semester went by in a flash. A few defining moments offset its otherwise monotonous passing: signing the Microsoft offer, IRS/IRC, fourth year design project symposium, end of classes, and my last examination on April 23. It’s somewhat interesting to note that perhaps the most important event, the signing of a full time offer, happened first in the semester. Needless to say, with my immediate future mapped out, the main goal was to simply graduate. It did help somewhat that I was able to choose a couple of interesting courses.

Since my H-1B visa petition precludes me from entering the United States, which I had planned to visit during the summer, I’ll likely spend some time traveling through Canada, a vast land that I really haven’t seen much of. With my future pegged south of the border, I’m going to take the opportunity to enjoy this great country.

As for this phase of my life? It’s time to close the book.

UWaterloo – Mission (Almost) Complete

In an ironic turn of events, the last semester of my undergraduate degree has been, well, a non-event. The courses I selected turned out to be rather easy (or perhaps I chose my strengths) and even this final exam period has been very anti-climactic. Over a three week timeline, I have only three exams. I wrote my first one this past Saturday, and my final two aren’t for nearly two weeks. It almost feels like it’s all over already. I’ve taken the last two days off, before restarting a slow-paced study for the last two. I can’t believe five rough and tumble years ends like this. Then again, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. There I go counting my chickens before they hatch.

I’ve always felt that this blog is more for my own perusal than anything else. I can look back on my life as I was finishing high school, and although I haven’t much important to say, I feel it’s necessary for me to put down the thoughts whirling in my head during this transitional period.

Hockey – my team of choice over the past few years has been the Vancouver Canucks, so it’s no surprise that I watched with glee on Saturday as Henrik Sedin put up 4 points to take over the points lead. The game was one of the most fun games I’ve ever watched. The guys out there looked like they were having fun too. Congrats on the Art Ross, Hank! The Canucks will play the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. I’m pumped. The Montreal Canadiens, a team that I’ve liked all the way back when Patrick Roy was their poster boy, scraped into the playoffs as well – I watched that Montreal-Toronto game with great anxiety. Boy did they really barely get by with the single point…

Travels – I’ve been planning a post-graduation vacation with classmates. Initially, I wanted to go to Europe, but the budget nor opinion could be agreed upon by all (some wanted to backpack, while others wanted more opulent accommodations). We finally settled on two Hawaii islands, or so I thought. As part of my employment at Microsoft, I obviously needed a work visa for the United States. I knew a TN would be applied for, but I was notified, last minute, that they would be petitioning for an H-1B as well. Apparently, during the application process, visiting the United States is a crapshoot. The lawyers strongly suggested I avoid traveling to the States during the application. Out the window Hawaii went.

I still want to cap off my university career with my new friends, so we’re going to plan a road trip within Canada. I’m likely not going to be spending much time in Canada, starting this summer, and there’s so much of this vast country that I’ve not yet seen. This will be a good opportunity to experience this wonderful nation just a little bit more. Of course, one of my primary objectives is to do lots of photography; I’ve gotten several of my friends interested as well, so we’ll be a bunch of DSLR-sporting tourists. It’s always fun to have a few shooting buddies.

Cars – I’ve decided to live on the East Side in the Puget Sound area when I move there this summer. I simply prefer a suburban lifestyle. I blame (?) my time on Prince Edward Island. I’ve developed a preference for a slower pace. Consequently, I’m looking to get a vehicle for commuting to and from work. Trained as an engineer, I’ve been running numbers, reviews, features, and aesthetics on a variety of vehicles, and I think I’ve narrowed it down, somewhat.

Volkswagen (Passat) CC – This was the first car I identified for my list. I’ve developed a think for German cars, ever since my parents picked up a BMW 5-er a bit more than a year ago. The CC looks incredibly slick, combines decent mileage with decent power, and is moderately priced. The drive was alright, but I’m probably expecting too much after having driven the BMW 5 for the past year.

Volkswagen Passat CC
The Volkswagen CC – delicious

Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T (Wolfsburg) – Since it seems like Volkswagen USA no longer sells the standard 2.0T Jetta without going for the Wolfsburg special edition model, this is the only choice for a 2.0T Jetta. Compared to the CC, it’s cheaper, has the same engine, is smaller (perhaps a good thing, since it’s just me, no family…) and still has a nice interior. I’m not a huge fan of the external design (too much bubbly), but the 2011 model looks more like an Audi A4-esque exterior. I like.

Hyundai Sonata – I’d be remiss not to include the 2011 Sonata on the list. It’s gotten tremendous reviews, but the test drive that I did made me feel a bit ‘eh’ to its driving feel. Of course, it’s a family sedan, but it’s quite cheap and looks alright. There’s a good number of tech gadget inside, which, of course, appeals to me.

Mazda3 – Surprisingly, this car looks fantastic in the flesh, despite some concerns about the perma-grin of the front grille. It apparently drives very nicely, has a decent interior and is cheap as chips. Not a bad combination.

Audi A3 – This is an outside shot, mainly because of the badge. I don’t want to show up at work, as a new-hire, cruising in an Audi. Just doesn’t send the right message in my opinion. Price-wise, it’s pretty near identical to the VW CC, so that’s not a major concern, just the badge. Still, a nice car with a nice interior. I’m quite partial to the hatch designs, despite the fact that most Americans are not. Shame really.

The Nissan Altima and Acura TSX are just barely on the outside looking in. The TSX is surprisingly affordable (a combination of a reasonable price and high residuals for the lease), but reviews have widely panned the redesign in 2009. Given the similar price to the CC overall, I’ll likely agree.

That’s about all for now. Lots of rambling, but there’s what’s in my head. See, nothing about school at all, in the midst of final exam season. 🙂

An Emphasis on Typography

Just yesterday, I wrote about some redesign efforts that are underway. One huge catching point has been my struggles with typography and fonts for the new design. I never put much thought into web typography in the past, but after perusing some great designs around the internet, I’ve come to realize its importance, especially in a text-heavy design, such as a blog. Web compatibility was a big reason for staying within the safe confines of the common fonts in the past, and I didn’t want to venture into Flash-based text renders to expand the font-palette.

So, when I read about cufón and subsequently typeface.js not three days ago, I realized the means for inserting some new fonts into the design was possible.

Then imagine my surprise when I sat down in my User Interface Design class today and found out the topics for the lecture would be typography, fonts, and design salience. The first few lectures of that course have been a bit dry. They focused more on the analytical (scientific) side of UI design. They drove the design processes and methodologies used for gathering information on the system, with which design decisions can be made. Now with that largely out of the way, we’ve moved onto the emotional design (artistic) portion of the course. This is what I signed up for.

As with any practical topic, attempting to teach design in a classroom can be difficult (similarly, we had a debate on the merits of teaching entrepreneurship in my entrepreneurship class), but I firmly believe that there are academic concepts which can be used in very practical situations. For example, our discussion today on the effect of color on design element salience enabled me to make a better decision (in my opinion) in the upcoming redesign. That’s academia in practice.

Listless

Alright, a quick post before I head off to bed.

There’s been some serious neglect around here. I honestly haven’t had much to write about these past days. University has started back up, but I’ve felt completely listless this semester. Part of it has to do with the fact that it is my final undergraduate semester (boy, it feels weird, not necessarily good to say that), and part of it is that my schedule isn’t conducive to a whole lot of caring. Classes start no earlier than 11:30am each morning and I have Thursdays off. I should be careful not to let go too much. Reading the fourth year design project documentation is so very boring. The lack of enthusiasm and interest has translated to this blog for the past couple weeks. I can’t remember the last time I felt this way.

Fortunately, I felt a burst of inspiration mid-day Saturday, but not in the form of writing. Instead, I spent a chunk of time mocking up a redesign for random process, working late into the night. I’ve come up with something I’m happy with. Now comes the tough part of translating my static Photoshop mock into a real, working website. Here are a couple teasers.

Photography has clearly been a huge part of my life over the past two years. I think it’s about time the website reflects this. I’m going to put more emphasis on showcasing some photos.

I purchased a Zune HD while I was working in the States, and have come to absolutely love the design of the UI. You can expect to see many of its design elements incorporated in the final product, such as purposely truncated text.

Furthermore, web technologies and ‘fads’ have progressed at a rapid pace since my most recent design (about a year ago). I mentioned back then that I wanted to incorporate a bunch of dynamic features and a more static portfolio homepage, that would make the site a bit slicker to navigate. Unfortunately, only the blog portion of the site got redesigned and there’s still no AJAX-y goodness. As much as I’d like otherwise, it’s unlikely I’m going to have much of a portfolio to showcase, and I haven’t come up with a good way to manage the content there, short of a lot of manual editing. And let’s be honest, I’m almost sure to let the content get stale. Yuck. But, I’ve identified some cool effects that I want in the next iteration of random process. Yum.

Okay, I’ll leave it at that. Night.