DFA Prototyping Workshop 2013 Summer Session

Ideation Space
Ideation Space

I led another prototyping workshop for this Summer’s Design for America teams. As usual, the teams were full of energy and great ideas. This session’s teams were taking on the following issues:

  • Improving literacy among younger children
  • Helping people with dementia stay engaged and attentive
  • Helping young homeless people keep from losing important personal items like their ID, Social Security cards, etc.

I was there to help the teams move from brainstorming to expressing their ideas in more tangible forms. I wanted them to come away from the afternoon with an understanding that “prototyping” is more than just making things, but a whole new way of communicating.

Each team had very different visions amongst their members as to how they could address their constituency’s problems. By the end of the afternoon all the teams had something visceral they can now take to people and validate.

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Recouping lost hours


I think I may have found a way to get 2-3 weeks of my life back since I started using Yeoman to set up projects. Of all the things it does, probably the most useful is auto refresh the web browser. All the other stuff is just icing on the cake.

Some time back, I built my own bash script that built out a decent project layout and fired off some useful templates. It gets to be a royal pain to maintain. While it’s good practice to think ahead like that, I think it’s better to use stand on the shoulders of those who’ve been there before you.

If you’re not already, start using project builders like Yeoman. There’s something nice about digging right into code and design without losing all your gumption in the metawork of getting set up.


Future home of SRAM and Google Chicago

1K Fulton is the new name for an old building in the meat packing district of Chicago. Well, they still do plenty of meat packing in the area, but over the last few years, the area has become a hot spot for other businesses. Until recently the building was a massive cold storage building, but now it’s going to be home to Google’s local offices and the headquarters for SRAM the bicycle parts company.

Before, During, and After

Google will definitely be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, but the cooler tenant is SRAM. I can’t confirm where now, but I read they are going to have a velodrome in their office. That will be really cool.

They didn’t tear down the original building. Instead they dismantled it. In the process they uncovered some really cool ice formations. For more than 90 years the building was used as a cold storage building and the build up of ice formed stalagmites and stalactites.

20 Year Reunion of the Newton Team

Earlier this month I attended the 20th Anniversary for the Newton – Apple’s most notorious product. It was pretty cool to see so many people after such a long time. For the first time in a long time, I was the youngest guy at a tech gathering.

Even though the Newton was a commercial flop, the project itself was pretty amazing. It was my first job out of college, and I had no idea what I was getting into. I wasn’t really up on Silicon Valley, or Apple history for that matter. But here I was, a week out of school and surrounded by some of the brightest people around. Folks may joke about the Newton, but back when I started in 1992, it was the hottest thing going on in Silicon Valley.

I had a long chat with John Sculley and his wife. I asked what he was thinking about the upcoming “Jobs” movie. He was actually pretty cool about it, even joked that he’s looking forward to be cast as the villain.

There were a couple guys there with actual functioning Newtons. They were gratuitously beaming information back and forth. I have a three generations of devices myself, none of which still work.

Even though the group was pretty small when I started, maybe 50-60 people, I was surprised how many people still remembered me. To them I was the kid who pestered them to do usability studies and submit handwriting samples.

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