Sunday, 29 March 2015


In my mission to learn more about User Experience (UX) I've been attending lots of events in London.  After each one I'd find myself with a head full of ideas and some scribbled notes that I couldn't read the next day.  Something needed to change.
Then I came across Mike Rohde's book The Sketchnote Handbook.  Wow!  This book is all about how to take notes more effectively.  The main idea here is rather than writing an essay of exactly what was said, you should try to capture the main ideas using little drawings and arrows and key words.  Its not about drawing a perfect thing, but just getting that idea down.  'Ideas not art' as he puts it.
So at the last UXPA event which I attended I had a go.  I don't think I did too badly.  I've got all the main points down and I could read it all back days later!  Of course a bit of practice won't hurt, but I think I'm on to something here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

March Writers Group

A smaller meeting today and a great variety of writing from poems to flash fiction and even a scene from a film script.  And can you believe it I actually had something to share this time.  Only a tiny piece of flash fiction, but still some writing.  Maybe now I've finished writing user guides at work, I'll have more appetite for writing fiction again.

This months homework:
In memory of Terry Pratchett who died last week, try giving life to an inanimate object.  If you get stuck use his Luggage as inspiration.

(The Luggage is a large chest made of sapient pear wood.  It can produce hundreds of little legs from its underside and can move very fast.  Its function is as both a luggage carrier and body guard for its owner.  Its mouth, the feature often remarked upon by those about to be consumed, contains “lots of big square teeth, white as sycamore and a pulsating tongue, red as mahogany.”  It does not appear to be constrained by its external dimensions – having just devoured someone, the next time it opens the owner will find his underwear, neatly pressed and smelling faintly of lavender.)

Friday, 13 March 2015

Improving my drawing skills

Just like with the creativity thing, it really annoys me when people tell me they can't draw.  Everyone can draw!  After all its just making marks on paper with a pencil or pen.  What they really mean is they can't draw very well, or that what they draw doesn't match the image in their head.

So I would agree that I do have a bit of an advantage in that I've been drawing for as long as I can remember.  I did go to art college and I have done life drawing classes.  All these things have helped me to become a better drawer, but most of the time the thing I draw still doesn't quite match whats in my head either!

Anyway drawing is something that you can do better with a bit of practice, so I've been doing a bit more to try and improve.  Reading Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton and team, I came across the following exercise.
You start off by drawing, from your imagination, a person.  My attempt is below.  I can do this, but find it quite hard if I don't have something/one specific in my head at the start.

Next I copied a drawing of a person from the book.  The idea is not to draw a person, but to copy a collection of lines which just happen to make a person.  I find this much easier.  Copying lines is easy.

Some people find this quite hard as they can still see the person in the picture, so the next exercise asks you to turn the image upside down and try again.  As its harder to see the person in the image you are more likely to just focus on the lines.
Personally I think the first attempt looks better, but then I've been trained to look at lines, which helps.  Its an interesting exercise and reminded me of some of the key things I learnt years ago.
Have a go and see what you come up with but remember to be nice to yourself.  This stuff takes practice.

The original image - Sean's Afternoon by Lindsay MacDonald.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


I don't know about you, but if you are anything like me you will have boxes of things that you can't throw out 'cos they might be useful for a project one day.  Of course I then forget what I've got and end up not using any of it (or buying more - don't tell 'im outdoors).
So imagine my delight in receiving this as a present recently.  This box must have been designed by someone who has this exact same problem.  With a nice big area underneath for bigger stuff and then lots of small compartments on top and at the sides for the little stuff it really is a work of art in itself.  The fact you can pick it up like a suitcase and everything is still nice and secure just adds to the list of positives.
I spent a lovely afternoon rediscovering my crafting stash and now its all tidy and just waiting for my next project.  Brilliant.

In case you want one its call a Kaboodle Plus.