Saturday, July 28, 2007

Canada is fantastic

My family and I have just returned from a vacation in western Canada. We flew to Vancouver, rented an RV (motorhome) and drove to Calgary, then flew back to Philly.

I can say without hesitation that this was one of our best vacations ever. Canada is simply spectacular. The people are wonderfully friendly and welcoming. There is so much to do and so much to see there. It really is a terrific vacation destination.

Our rough itinerary is below. If you'd like some insider tips on any of these places then please leave me a comment.

Philadelphia to Vancouver, day trip to Victoria, Vancouver, Harrison Hot Springs, Manning Park, Oliver (Okanagan Valley), Fintry (Okanagan Lake), McLure, Wells Grey Park, Jaspar, Lake Louise, Banff, Bow Valley Park, Cochrane,Calgary.

We stayed at the following campsites:

Bigfoot (Harrison Hot Springs), Mule Deer (Manning Park), KOA Oliver (Okanagen Valley), Fintry Park (Okanagan Lake), Clearwater Lake Wells Grey), Whistlers (Jaspar), Lake Louise RV, Bow Valley Campground, Bow Rivers Edge (Cochrane)

Photo's here

Friday, July 20, 2007

More on airport usability

I am sitting on the floor opposite Gate A4 at Philadelphia Airport waiting for our flight to Amsterdam. It took me a while to find a power outlet that wasn't being used by someone else.

From where I sit I can see at least 10 people plugged into various power outlets. Some have laptops, others DVD players; some are charging their mobile 'phones. Some of us are sitting on the floor, the lucky ones have cables stretched to a seat.

Before I plugged in I took a walk up the terminal. It's the same story around all the gates.

It would seem to me that there is a great opportunity her for the Philadelphia Airport Authority to provide chairs with built-in power outlets. Wouldn't that be an improvement for customers?

Since this same scene is to be found at airports all over the country, perhaps the greatest opportunity is for airport furniture designers to build useful chairs for airports.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Last post from Blog|Philadelphia

Heather's final post:

Blog|Philadelphia, the unconference, is over. I had a very interesting experience over the last two days. I'm glad I went. I'm also thankful for the wireless access so I would multitask.

Though there was mention of vlogs <outbind://11/> , or video blogs, I was wondering why there was not more discussion of other forms of social media. Also, what about outside the world of Philadelphia?! I have a friend in Belgium writing his Ph.D. around interactive TV <> . The BBC <> is doing a lot with this viewer experience. And what about new technologies? Yes, there's the glorious iPhone, but what did the unconference SME's know about other technologies on the horizon? Gee golly, what about the Microsoft Surface <> ? That's definitely the coolest thing I've seen since ... hum, maybe one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

It's great that an interested, local community came together. I learned there is a very active [professional] blogging community in Philadelphia. And my Twitter <> friends expanded from my new connections. I've learned not to be intimidated by blogging and perhaps to even check out group blogging in the future. Sounds like it could be fun.

As a first time blogger, I did get interviewed for Ziddio <> netTv for my first time blog experience. That was neat. Thanks to you Jonathan. Who know's how long I would have waited for my this first blog opportunity otherwise!

Heather Williams::Elsevier UCD Philadelphia

Friday, July 13, 2007

Day 2 of Blog|Philadelphia, an Unconference

Heather's 3rd contribution:

Where the heck is everyone?

Yesterday ended on a low note – very subdued. I suspected that the previous evening's entertainments was wearing heavy among the key personalities driving this event. Though everyone perked up for the happy hour at the end of the day, hosted by the Radisson (since this is there the unconference is held), I did not continue on with the planned after party. If I had, perhaps I would understand why no one is here yet *Doh*

So I took this time to wiki the term, "unconference". I confess, I've never been to one. In fact, I had not heard of these before now. Turns out it's a "conference" where content is driven &/or created by the participants, on a day-by-day basis (thx wiki <> ). This could explain why the moderators seemed so unprepared yesterday … maybe the attendees were unprepared!?

Day 2 promises to be good though. There's a bit on Mobile Social Networking, which I think has yet to even boom. New devices like the iPhone will keep other mobile creators coming out with new and better technologies and driving the next evolution of user experiences.

In the late morning I may check out some open-source marketing (what's that anyway?) and then hop into the '2.0 world without a textbook'. Then looks like I may wrap up with 'Group blogging' … I think that sounds like fun!

Heather Williams :: Elsevier UCD Philadelphia

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More from BlogPhilly Unconference

The second installment from guest blogger Heather:

We've passed the lunchtime milestone. It was a lovely buffet of Philly cheese steaks (with cheesewiz – what was up with that?), onion rings and cheesecake. Yum. And during friendly lunchtime banter I learn there's a neat collection of people here that probably would not come together under normal circumstances.

But now it's time for the afternoon sessions and it's very …. unstructured, maybe that's part of an unconference (it is a free conference).

I'm sitting in a session on Social Life <> . I am curious to learn more because a work colleague asked me asked me recently, "Why aren't we doing more with our products in second life?" WHAT?! This question made me a little uneasy and I wondered if I should question the credibility of a colleague I respected. I had previously checked out Second Life before and thought it was mainly for gaming and living in an alternate virtual persona. But I seem to be a little misguided.

Don Bain <> is talking about how socially engaged communities are creating environments in Second Life for a wide variety of things.

Medical educators can set up a learning environment for medical residents wanting to specialize in surgery – in the safe virtual environment they can practice their procedures on a virtual avatar before on a real patient.

If this is all true, I wonder what other opportunities there are there? Can I do user understanding in Second Life? Usability testing?...

BTW, the youngest person here is in 4th grade!

Heather Williams
Elsevier UCD Philadelphia

Guest Blog from BlogPhilly unconference

This is a contribution from my friend and colleague Heather Williams:

Today is Blog|Philadelphia's unconference on social media, held in Philadelphia. Its my first unconference. And this is my first 'blog' … if I can call it that.

I got off to a great start by missing the first hour b/c I was on a conference call chatting with colleagues about the glories & benefits of UCD integration with Agile development cycles. Now, 4 hours later, I'm getting into the unconference groove after a somewhat bumpy start.

I've hopped between the three morning sessions. I thought I was really going to get into the "work-private live balancing" session and I accidentally ended up in the "creating and leveraging digital video session" (which seemed more like a sales pitch for a v-blogging site), but now I'm listening in on the marketing of blogs for business … lots of underlying "understanding your users needs". Know who your readership is and you'll know more about what they want to read and how to get the message to them. Who knew!?

Stay turned, more surely to come…

Heather Williams :: Elsevier UCD Philadelphia