Our new Rancilio Silva coffee machine
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My new friend I wake up to every morning

Everyone, meet our new Rancilio Silva coffee machine, my wife’s birthday present to me – well, really, for both of us. And anyone else who happens by our place and wants a coffee.

We had a Sunbeam machine for years, but it finally packed it in. It actually broke down about a year ago, took AGES to get fixed with a local appliance fixing place (definitely not recommending them), then lasted only a few months more.

After doing it tough with a little stove-top coffee pot for a while, Libby chose my birthday as the opportunity to kit ourselves out again. What marvelous taste she has.

And this thing is a little pocket rocket: it warms up in no time, the steam pressure is incredible, and the best thing I’ve found so far is that we can run shots and steam milk without having to worry about what order to do them in. The Sunbeam one got really cranky if you tried to do any more shots after using the steam wand.

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OZ IA 2009 – Day 2

After Day 1 of Oz IA, I thought I’d put up a few extra thoughts about Day 2. It was cut short for me due to other responsibilities, but all up it was a hugely humbling, rewarding, energising and inspiring experience.

The coffee, gourmet juices and tweets continued to flow freely, and the sessions got even more animated and engaging:

  • Gary Barber took us into the courtroom with a scathing critique of tag clouds and who is to blame for their faults (hint: it could be the IAs). I was talking to him afterwards, and it’s not so much all tag clouds that are wrong, but their implementation as-is, rather than being critically assessed by IAs and reinterpreted for each individual use. Great stuff.
  • Matt Moore‘s Playing games with culture was the one workshop-oriented session, where everyone had a ‘serious’ play with the Organisational Culture & Knowledge Management Methods Cards from Straits Knowledge. A fun way of revealing the sorts of team-culture lessons that may otherwise be lost if only resorting to dry presentation and workshop formats.
  • Melissa Cooper from the ABC showed us how ruthless you have to be in designing search experiences for mobile interfaces. I can only aspire!
  • Matt Fisher took us way out of our cushy little high-bandwidth graphics-rich always-on bubble and showed us the sort of ingenuity you need for designing systems for Defence, where water and dust wreck laptops and there’s no constant connection. What humbled me was the sorts of challenges that diggers are surrounded with when trying to carry out the same sorts of communication- and tech-related tasks we take for granted, and their contribution to refining such systems that can go on to be used for remote communities in developing countries. Very very worthwhile. Sort of puts my dinky little interfaces into perspective.

Oh, and one more thing I encountered: there’s this huge connection between being an IA and loving good food! You know who you are, and more power to you.

Can’t wait for next year!

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Oz IA 2009 – Day 1

I’m finally home after day 1 of Oz IA 2009, and absolutely knackered. What. A. Day. The presentation content was as diverse and interesting as the program suggested, but for me the greatest highlight was the meeting of minds of so many IAs.

First up was Matt Hodgson’s The Evolution of the Agile IA. Matt took us through a rollicking ride with where IA has come from, where it’s at now with the emergence of agile methodology, and where it’s going. One of the things I took from his messages about IA and agile was that in some ways we as IAs are already practicing some degree of agile without even knowing it; taking the big step into agile and leaving waterfall behind shouldn’t be too much of a pain.

I was up second, presenting on Guiding the way to living greener: how psychology helped IA for a new government website. I got some great feedback after it, including some requests for more information about how the ‘concierge’ model manifests itself in the various user interfaces used in the livinggreener.gov.au website. It was always going to be tricky to include the principles aspects of the presentation along with the applied aspects. I erred on the side of principles, given that the focus was on how motivational psychology can contribute to IA design. Maybe next time I would focus more on the UI aspects!

Cast herewith for your perusal (or go to my prezo at Slideshare):

Matt Balara was doing some awesome sketches of his thoughts coming out of each talk on the day, and here’s a pic of the page he sketched for my talk. It’s interesting that the key points that arose for him were:

  • Designing for people where they were at
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • ‘The Concierge’ interaction model – answer question and offer even more
  • Personas are partners

Other highlights of the day:

  • Non-stop supply of fantastic real barista-served coffee – Single Origin, no less. I think I had 5? Stopped counting… Oz IA, you have spoiled me for any and all conferences in future.
  • Non-stop supply of fruit juice cocktails. Wanting to hold on to my masculinity, I didn’t indulge in this aspect of the conference much. But dayam, muddled mint and watermelon tastes good.
  • Stamford Interactive’s war stories of the pleasures and pains of being involved in a massive government intranet redesign project. Girls, I felt your pain.
  • Suze Ingram’s lightning-paced but highly entertaining review of prototyping tools. Expression Blend and Axure came up pretty well. I won a demo access pass to one of the online prototyping tools… no idea which one, now! But full points to Ian Stalvies, who won a fresh spanking new copy of Axure, for getting the trivia question right about the capital of Brazil (or somewhere like that).
  • Last and definitely not least: I have never seen so much twittering in all my freaking life! It was quite weird to see so many laptops open with people having one eye on the speaker and one eye on tweetdeck. Extra extra weird to see my own tweets retweeted on other people’s screens.

More fun in store tomorrow…