Websites which caught my interest this morning.

Quite often I am convinced that Internet, along with inherent madness and information age anxieties, is also a medium to experience and communicate newer thoughts and imaginations. This morning I spotted three interesting reads over the internet. The first one shows Impressive Driftwood Horse Sculptures by James Doran-Webb. Doran is a british-born artist who makes driftwood life size horse sculptors. One should definitely watch these horses coming live with oceans waves. The second one is a compilation of photographs taken by a russian women. She captures moments of engagement of her kids with animals on her farm. The pics are simply amazing and I really loved the one where one of her kid leans against the shoulders of a mastiff dog. The third one is a little specific to me as a designer. It belong to Wired News Archives. It is a commentary on the film her‘ suggesting how interestingly the movies is not about technology but about people. 

 

New Year 2014

I don’t know but it all sounds interestingly incoherent.. I am asking people around about their new year plans. They say n-different things to me. Someone wants to move to town to meet friends and spend the rest of the evening partying while there are few who want to stay disciplined by making sure that they maintain their routine even today and tomorrow as it comes. And a distinct others want to check their TV sets and internet buzz and then decide how should they be reacting. Whatever goes but asking people is fun 🙂 

Happy New Year 2014 🙂

IVR System Design and Hosting

Almost a month back I was anxiously looking for IVR hosting solutions and apparently ended up writing a SOS call on this blog. This is a follow up of that call with some information which I could receive. I also want to express my gratitude to someone who saw my call and replied me with his valuable suggestions. However as I set to do so in this post, I would bring back some of the references for a quick refresh. I am currently developing IVR prototypes for a usability testing. This required me to follow up a number of steps, right from finding an application domain to finding an information lag, to creating a script and recording the same. However one of the most crucial of these steps is to finally make everything work. I was suffering so much there.

Anyways, that’s where I had to call for help. Thanks Nalin, co-founder Mayavi Telecommunications, for sending out suggestions regarding the IVR hosting solutions. You introduced me to some of the best ones in this domain like Kookoo, Knowlarity and FreeSwitch, apart from Exotel which I’m finally using. A part of the suggestion was to keep an eye on IVRS world, a blog by Uttam Pegu. Uttam writes extensively about IVR system design and more recently about cloud telephony. It is an interesting blog which attends to a number of questions in the context of Indian Telephony scenario. Other things which I discovered includes an interesting Visual IVR design framework called CallKick. It is launched recently by Mayavi Telecommunications and comes bundled with a ready-to-install android app.
All these mentions form an interesting Pandora box which I wasn’t aware of earlier 🙂

May be you already know this!

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Yeah.. may be you guys are already aware of this but here is an interesting way to discover new things every single day. I have subscribed to Commarts Dot Com daily news letter. Everyday one can get interesting feeds to posts, blogs, graphic work, interaction work and much more. For instance today I came across a visual search engine called Niice. To every single keyword you enter you get a bunch of visuals. I would strongly recommend subscribing to Commarts for your daily dosage of design.

Few of the UI assignments companies ask Designers to attempt

As I ponder on UI design, I am reminded of some of the assignments which I have encountered while appearing for a UX design position with one company or the other. I think these are interesting to list and to share with the audience of this blog. Here are some of those;

1. Design an application interface which could let people plan their circular journeys. The interface should deliver a seamless user experience which will allow users to plan their circular journeys, seek availability through a specific mode of travel (bus, railways or airways) and book reservations. The users should feel in control of the process and close to requisite information as they plan their itinerary.

2. (Re)Design the interface of a social networking game hosted on FB. Start by re-evaluating the existing interface and move close to identifying usability failures. Note down the breaks in information architecture and task flows. Present a complete picture of few of the redesigned task flows and illustrate the user experience.

3. Design the user experience for an online application that lets user browse for a specific medical specialist in an area. Lay emphasis on the geo-tagged medical facilities and their possible discovery by a user who is new to the town.

4. (Re)Design the IRCTC* web interface. Suggest improvements and focus on moments of frustrations and delights that a user goes through while using the interface.

5. Design an interface and list user experience for a universal remote to be used in home settings. Consider the product design of the remote as well. Imagine that the remote has to be used to control an interactive television, a personal computer and a set of multimedia devices.

This isn’t such an exhaustive list of assignments but it seems that these are the latest obsessions of UI design industry in India. I am documenting these for two specific reasons. First to gauge the entire gamut of assignments companies ask their candidates to attempt. Secondly I hope that with this explicit understanding of assignments it might be possible to stretch the imagination of UI design scenarios. May be readers will suggest more!

On Schooling

For days and days it has been occurring to me to reflect back on my school days and on the education I had. The curriculum included natural sciences and languages along with slighter glimpses of other subjects, resigned to be termed as extracurricular. One can look at the curriculum and can be best assured to say that everything ought to be known is well there. But I guess the larger question is how to approach this knowledge. As I have come to believing that approach to know changes or alters the knowledge itself. My teachers were competitive and interesting, and they perhaps had tried telling us what all they knew. However I feel that few factors were always acting in opposition to the entire process of knowledge acquisition.

First, it seems that the entire process of acquiring knowledge  is somewhere inflicted with a flawed notion of timing. The fact that there is a course to be finished by a particular deadline doesn’t allow much room both for students as well as teachers. Teacher wants to finish the course on time and then moves on to setting a paper for students to attempt. How rubbish! Can’t the process of knowledge acquisition be more fluid and continuous. Can’t be free from parametric identifiers of percentage and rankings?  Having time bound milestones often results in an environment which is competitive for no reasons. To make things worse, it’s not just the timing rather the valorization of being on time that kills individuals at the end. There is so much of shame associated with not being on time that it doesn’t even allow many to say NO.

Second, it seems that the teachers themselves work under a huge pressure of abiding to a particular syllabus. Any aberration from a prescribed syllabus is hugely suppressed and demotivated. The position a teacher holds, not only in the society but even with in the education system itself, doesn’t give him much power to defer to the popular notion of syllabus and prescription. There is so much of onus bestowed on people who set the syllabus rather than on those who teach the syllabus. I have seen and met few people who work as advisory members to curriculum committees and not all the time are they correct. But any communication which suggests so is seen as a wild act, often intolerable.

I am raising these questions as I still sense same forces at work. What do you guys say?