Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Day 13

Some days a late start (1:00) is nice, I managed to finish up the Visual Story climax essay before class, and we had a Visual Story group meeting too.  Productivity at its finest, or something.

Improv was all about users today.  We got to talk about a fictitious product, while Patrick corrected and pointed out the ways we could improve.  I need to start thinking faster on my feet when making things up... on the other hand when do I make things up in the real world?!!?

We then took a look at our technology storyboards and came up with what we had in common (in groups of 4).  Then we made a fictitious product to solve a users problem. 

Somewhere in there we also drew pictures for about a dozen words that Patrick said to us, and listened to music to find patterns.

I guess this week is users or patterns.

Weekend 3

This weekend was quiet.  We worked on the projects course on Friday, finished up most of it.  I had a long talk with Larry about this, that, and the other thing.  I also did some talking on the Visual Story movie thing, we are now really trying to do the iteration thing - iterate the whole movie.

On Saturday I did nothing to do with school.  Yay me!

On Sunday I did the journal drawing for improv, I made the list up earlier in the week but finally got around to drawing it.  I managed to get to one of Matthew hockey games too, they lost 5-1, but it is all about the fun.  I finished up with watching some Magnificent Seven and working on the Visual Story essay about the Casino Royale climax and how it is different then other Bond movies before it.

The Saturday off was a great recharge!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 12

Early day, always an early day... 5am and I have a sore leg so I am not going on the ice for practice.

Get into school a bit early, Kim is in so I ask her a question on the RFP (still a secret, stop asking me!).  Her answer clarifies the scope somewhat, I know know what elements nned to go into a solution.  This part is out of order for the day... but... wind up at Larry's office and ask him the second part of the question to Kim and verify that we are in the discover stage, basically we have no met the client yet.  Ok that helps with the scope for Tuesday at dalies.

Meet with 2 other members of the Visual Story project, another one cannot make it, and the other one isn't available.  We look at what we need to do to finish the story, or at least get it to the point of a finished script.  We are having some trouble getting together at the same time which is causing us to spin our wheels somewhat.  By the end of the day we actually seem to have that issue solved.  We do wind up talking with the one who was unavailable and there are some issues with the direction we are going and our admitted lack of organization.  It doesn't help that we have had 1 out of 4 meetings with all members present.

Arron and I head off to talk to George to make sure that what we are doing is ok.  It is.  Yay!

Have a quick, and a bit volatile talk with the unavailable member.  I feel bad, we are all frustrated and I am under a time pressure for the phone call because I have to go interview another person for Projects.  We end the conversation tersely, not liking that.  I need to work on that.

Do the interview, a bit rushed because at 12:00 we have a guest speaker, Matt Toner, very interesting.  He actually talks about disruptive technologies using his recent political campaign as an example.  Shows that what we are learing is applied to way more than just digital media.  Cool.

(I find myself saying "cool" a lot now... thanks Kim)

I need to ask Richard for an index card for my book report (the totally optional, why am I doing this, I have no time, book report).  I rudely copy my notes out onto the card while Matt is speaking... sigh.  Note to self don't forget to get an index car when you get the next book (what are you doing getting another book!!!)

Richards class is fun.  We cover the telegraph.  This is actually really amazing!  Do yourself a favour and research it, packet switching, scanners, stored data, all before 1900... I am amazed and sort of saddened that we still use all those basics still today.  On one hand they are so simple they work, on the other hand we should have something better.  I just realized that we could do TCP/IP over telegraph... it can be done with carrier pigeon so why not?

We have birthday cake for the 3, no 4 birthdays in Sept.  We also had cake yesterday.  I am going to get fat.

This eats into Richards class time which makes us go over, but I don't think we mind.

At the start of class we also went over our blog posts to try and unify them.  So I worked with a group that all did the digital divide.  Nice to see others perspectives.

At the end of the day I get another book (why! - oh yeah I like reading...) and the 5 of us in our Visual Story course get together.  We hash out some things, and come up with a plan.  I am now in the mode I hate... let things fall apart and then take charge.  I need to do that earlier... I hate it but I am not terrible at it.  I may as well get better at it.

Arron sends me a message later saying he didn't appreciate something I said.  I quickly explain (I have to eat dinner... it is 8:00) and talk to Judy about it.  I was wrong apparently and now I know why I was wrong... well at least I learned something.  I apologize to Arron and we talk some more about what is "wrong" with us and what we need to work on to fix it.  Apparently I am getting better at not interrupting... yay me.  We come up with some ideas and a plan to remind each other if we start to make the mistakes.  Having Arron is good, someone else might not tell me when I screw up :-) 

Yay all my blogs entries are done for now.  Let's try not to fall behind again, ok?

Day 11

Visual story up next.  This class is so far out of my experience that it is fun.  I have not got a clue what I am doing :-)  I understand it, but I am in total learning mode.

We start the day with a game from Kim: Every Day The Same Dream.  Do we have agency?  Yes we do!

We go over endings and beginnings.  We watch part of a Bond film for the ending.  We watch part of Apocalypse Now for a beginning.  We watch the start of Assassins Creed (I forget which specific one) as well as some other games and movies.

Lunch.  Interview someone for projects (not telling you who!).

Now we do 3 line stories - beginning, middle, end.  We pick 2 lines... "A man takes hallucinogens" and "man meets bigfoot" and then have to give a synopsis for a story for sci fi, romantic comedy, spy, and a few other genres.  As we do each one we get better.  Iteration from Imrov and Projects from this week.  Synchronized... I love it.  We keep practising things in different contexts.  Finally we come up with our best story.  End scene (day).

Well not quite.  Maria, Deb, Vincy and I all take skytrain home together this time (another reason I got behind on blogging!).  We decide to practice the 60 second random talking from Monday.  Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.  I die twice, we all do.  I think someone made it over 60 seconds and Maria made it to 57!  Me, still at 15 seconds before my mind draws a total blank.  Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.

Get home and do homework.  Go to bed early... have to get up at 5am for hockey practice.

Day 10

Projects had a quick daily on our trips to the stores.  So now we have our persona as a team and the persona of a company.  Cool.  Well both teams no longer exist so what is up next?  A new project of course.

The basic idea is that we are turning the projects course into a project.  How meta I know.  Before we dive into that though Larry showed us an example of iterations gone through to make a commercial.  Pretty neat, starting with, you hopefully guessed it, discovering who the client is.  Iterations, wait that was from yesterday in Improv.  Liking how things tie together.  We are taken from sketches, through different iterations of the commercial, and up to the final version.  Of course it comes complete with the basics of what would happen in dailies.

We move on to RFPs and RFP responses.  And we are given our RFP - how to get the process of the MDM out to people in an interactive way.  There is more to it than that but good enough for now.  We can pick our teams.  5 people per team, has to have a programmer, has to have a visual person, has to have an archiver (I think those where the 3 things...) can't be all women, can't be all ESL, probably cannot be all the people who teach too.  Edward asks if I want to work with him, sure never worked with Edward before.  Deb either, so we ask her.  Then Carlos, who I have worked with but I am not that adamant about not working with the same people twice, and Carlos is cool :-)  Then Vincy and Heiwei want to steal me... eventually we all team up to be a group of 6.  That is until Vincy turns traitor by the lure of chocolate to another team :-(.

Now we have our team... time for lunch.

Now we ate... time to work.

Having finally learned we put together the team charter at the start.  Good plan!  Edward wants to try managing, cool.  Deb will help mentor him in that, also cool.  We do a SWOT for us and the MDM.  We figure out who interacts with the MDM.  We ask questions of Larry and Kim.  We come up with a set of 10 questions and about 7 people to interview.  We will be discovering what the MDM is all about, which is good as we are in the discovery phase.  We also figure out who we will interview (each of us do about 3 interviews in pairs).  Who did I interview?  Not going to tell... did I mention it is a competitive process?  Se are basically going to do a 39 person project.  The team that is selected to have their solution implemented will manage the project.  Hmmmm... winning is fun, but that is pressure... oh wait we are here for pressure... bring it on! :-)

Arron and I head out to BCIT... long day.

Day 9

Sign.  Busy week, and no time to do the blog.  Mostly I blame Vincy.  Why?  Why not!

From recollection, we did a fun exercise where we had to talk for 60 seconds on a random topic without saying "um", taking to long of a pause, or being overly repetitive.  Arron kindly gave me kleptomania.  To be fair I gave him medieval architecture.  I paused for too long and someone shouted out "die!" which ended my time on stage and earned them a chocolate from Patrick.  I managed to earn a chocolate as well from killing someone... so not all was lost!  None of us made 60 seconds, a few were close.

We also did some time limited Facebook poetry, thoughts, and describe what a product could be useful for, all based on pictures of a blimp or two dancers.  My little poem: "Good Year. Great Year. Drink Some Beer. Don't Grind Your Gears. Shed no Tears. Swallow your Fears." at least it rhymes I guess :-)

We then went to the hanger and build a tower out of some sort of large plastic construction toy.  We did well the first time (10 minutes) but our 5 minutes to make it taller made it predictably shorter.

Then we did 3 iterations of making a story about overcoming a challenge with cutouts of comic books.  Each time our stories got clearer.  

Lesson of the day: Iterate.  Iterate.  Iterate.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DMED 500 Assignment #2 (Yes, seriously, this is an assignment!)

For the Foundations course we have an assignment of writing a blog entry. I picked the topic of the "digital divide".  I have made use of materials from Mark Warschauer, a professor and associate dean, at the School of Education, at the University of California, Irvine. The primary source for this blog entry was his writing entitled "Whiter the Digital Divide?"... and away we go!

From a historical context I do not view the digital divide as anything new, as a matter of fact it predates the concept of digital by a few millennia. I could start with the probability that early man had some groups develop communication faster than others, and those groups probably survived more easily than the other groups. I could skip ahead to the educated priests in ancient Egypt who held the power, in part because they could read, or the middle ages where the same is essentially true of the Catholic church. The printing press was a great equalizer, but even that took a few hundred years for us to be able to have a fairly level playing field in the developed world.

The digital divide is yet another difference between groups of people. Now, people do not have the Church or some other entity explicitly keeping them from crossing the divide. Our world has gotten a lot smaller with the advent of boats, telegraphs, trains, telephones, airplanes, and the internet. Just like the printing press brought information to the masses the digital world will, eventually come to the masses as well. Given the rate of adoption of cell phones in areas that do not have traditional land lines, it seems almost to be a grantee that the digital divide will be bridged much sooner than divide crossed by the printing press.

There are really two digital divides, one between nations of different status, such as Canada compared to a 3rd world country, and another between groups in an individual nation. At one point there was a single internet connection for Afghanistan this put the digital world squarely in the control of the government, just as it was in ancient Egypt or the middle ages. In the United States about 28% percent of the population is without internet access in the home.

Education and commerce are becoming more and more reliant on the digital world. Those without access to the internet will have a harder time keeping up with those that do have access. However if we compare the time it took to for books to be in the hands of the masses, and the time it has take for the internet to be adopted the adoption rate is staggering.

A sample of the number of internet users found in Wither the Digital Divide shows that in 2006 Africa had about 2.6% of the population had internet access, that number in 2012 is now at about 7%.  For Asia the 2006 rate was about 10%, in 2012 about 45%.  As time goes by the presumption is that, just like books, the internet will become more widely available to the citizens of the world.

The other side of the coin, is, of course, how much of the population in a given country or region is has internet access. Essentially those that have easier access to the tools used to access knowledge or generate income will have an easier time in a society that values those aspects. As Warschauer points out,  "Those who have the greatest access to and mastery of [information and communication technology] have increased their socioeconomic position."

While the governments in the United States have taken steps to reduce the physical digital divide by providing computers to schools, the use of those computers in the class room as effective teaching tools is still divided along socioeconomic lines.  It is easier to get ahead when you are being pushed from behind. To take it to the extreme, what value is there in learning to read if you are struggling to gather food to survive? Having access to books in that case is of little value.

In the end, yes, there is a digital divide. The digital divide, like other similar divides in the past, will close. Given the pace of technology adoption the digital divide should narrow quickly, however simply having access to the internet is not enough. People need access to materials and the knowledge to make use of the material.  This is the true digital divide, and in time I think that one will also be overcome but that will probably take more time.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekend 2

We had an Alumni supported Hackathon starting Friday 10:00am and ending Saturday 5:00pm, followed by presentations.

I worked with Dylan (writer), Alex (writer who wants to do game design), Ginger (artist) and Emmy (artist) to make a story based game.  We quickly decided we wanted to do a game, and tossed a number of ideas around.  In the end it is a scrolling game (side-to-side, but we want you to go down) where global warming has caused the oceans to rise and a girl is given a sub and sent to find a new place to live.  She finds her way to Atlantis and dies (or not, as George says the audience owns the story).

I decided to use ImpactJS, a really good (from what I can tell) JavaScript game engine.  I did that because I don't know JavaScript and I've never made a game, so it seemed like a good idea :-)  It took a while to get my head around graphics etc... and some back and forth on file formats, but we had a plan and 8 iterations on the board (like install the software, figure out graphics, get a thing to move, make a maze).

Artists were arting, writers were writing, designers were designing, and programmers were figuring out how the heck to program :-)  By the end of the night, after Dylan's homemade waffles topped with homemade fruit compote from Alex, we had a simple game running.  The alumni were helpful with ideas, focus, and hammering us on scope.

I went home on the train and grabbed some sleep and came back to a bunch of tasks in the morning.  We got fade in/out working, an animated opening, an animated closing, sound, music, moving jellyfish.

We finished with 9 minutes to spare.  The story didn't really get told in the game, sadly, but elements are there.  Another day would have been perfect... but if I had that it would have needed another day... etc.  In the end we had 31 hours to make the game.  Everyone did a great job, some really neat ideas.  Hopefully everyone is comfortable with getting things done under pressure now :-)

Here is a link to the game, Into the Sea.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day 8

A very long day today: up at 5am for hockey.  Drove Matthew to school with his bass guitar, which he will now leave at school because it is huge and heavy :-)  Then off to school.  I swear I fell asleep 4 times before I made it to school... not a good sign :-(

Once I am at school I want to re-read the chapter before class, which is in 3 hours, so not too hard to do.  Start off in the common area and find that it is too loud.  Rats.  Then I remember we have project rooms :-)  And project room #2 is empty :-)  I have a quiet place to read.

I forgot to bring tea :-(  Must pack that when I get home!  I catch George just after he meets with a project group and talk to him about Breaking Bad.  I wanted to know if they would have planned out the whole series at once or if it just goes where it goes.  It just goes where it goes apparently, with some level of planning for the season and perhaps a bit into the next, along with the character changes.  Now I am more impressed with Breaking Bad - it has a very coherent story.

Deb arrives and I scrounge a tea bag from her :-)  She asks me to watch her book (the one for the Foundations class) while she is in a meeting.  She kindly leaves it out in case someone wants to read the paper version instead of the electronic version.

Time for lunch.  We have a presentation from a game developer, Jesse Joudrey of Jespionage. Good talk, good insights. I am either glad I didn't hear his talk now or there is no way Judy would have started a company :-)

After lunch we start the class.  We all do our book reports and, if we want, get new books.  A few of us take new books, no marks, but it is a good thing to do, and a good way to spend some time not on school work.  The "winner" at the end, the one who reads/reports on the most in consecutive weeks, wins a book.  I like books... so do other people.  I wonder what happens if there is a tie?

This class has the most traditional style of a course.  It is a good counterpoint to the rest of the program... without it I might start a slow descent into madness... ... ...

After that 4/5 of us head downtown to check out Futureshop and the Apple Store for the project course.  It seems that Radio Shack, or the Source by Circuit City, or whatever they are now called, isn't where it was.  We have also all been to Best Buy recently, so enough to do our research.

And now heading home... I need to eat something!

Edit: Oh yeah, the Deb and her book.  Of course when the talk started I forgot about the book and it vanished :-(... but we found it, it had been turned in to the front desk :-)  I grabbed it for Deb, but then she disappeared (some sort of plot?  Her and the book not getting along?).  The were reunited before I went home!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 7

Today was visual story day., specifically we looked at Blade Runner.  We watched the first act with George stopping the movie frequently and talking about different things.  Story is cool.  Interconnected story is cooler.  I had no idea so much went into the visuals of the story, just little things in the background.  I also had no idea that story making was so messy and seemingly random.

Note to self: tie that in with Richards report on the book I am reading... which is due tomorrow.  Note to self: get writing the report - only one index card in length thankfully.  That book broke my brain, I want to finish it out of interest now.

After lunch we sat in a large circle while Gwen, who apparently is the only person there that has neat hand writing (yay Gwen!) got to write on index cards (do I see a theme?  Nah probably just random... hmmm note to self: get some index cards) a story that we, guided a lot by George, came up with a story.  The backdrop was the London Olympics, specifically Canada winning bronze.  We decided i was not a romantic comedy (where the world pushes two people together) but a comedic romance (where the world keeps two people apart) (see I learned something :-).  The neat thing was writing each bit on the cards, and then seeing the ways that the cards have different elements tracked on them (the element of messy data that ties in with the book).

My group for Projects is happier with meeting tomorrow at 6:30 for the Futureshop/Metrotown trip.  That is great since now I can be on the train (which I am now) and going to do the stuff with my family (work/life balance achievement).  Tonight is a lot of writing - Richards index card and get Patricks stuff out of the way (a letter, draw my ideal house, and write about my walking in video (which I forgot to grab off the only accessible from school computer network share... d'oh!).

Note to self; don't forget things.

We also have bee brainstorming on the movies... including getting a potential person to be our Sirified voice :-)  Yay Sarah!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Day 6

Got in early today to practice the presentation one last time.  Noticeably the presentation is not in dropbox... seems that it was on the computer but never got pushed up.  I get a copy, we put it in the dropbox, and get ready.

First up rules of play for the session, don't talk, safe environment, etc... We are told by Larry that we have to frame our presentation.  We are up first to present... with this money wrench in our plans.  We manage to choose Vincy to do this, she does, but clearly not well enough as it is pointed out that we didn't do it... lesson learned - clarity of presentation.

Once we are done come the critiques. Try to remember as much of the feedback as possible... lesson learned - bring a pad and pen to dailies.

All the other teams go.  We had the shortest presentation (maybe 5 minutes with the figuring out who started our speaking, thanks Vincy!) and simplest deliverable.  Of course we, like pretty much every other team, missed the mark... a few more lessons learned - verify your understanding of the project is the biggest.

Break for lunch.

After lunch there is a presentation by Luke Jurevicius who created The Adventures of Figaro Pho.  Very interesting, I really like story I am finding. Oddly enough at lunch I talked to Judy and she has a plan for story with the company... weird or what?!

Come back and do a reflection on our branding so far, KFC: Keep, Fix, Change, based on the feedback we got in the morning.  I think almost everyone felt like failures, I had to remind my group that we only fail if we don't learn from it.  Next up, the next iteration of our project: 20 minutes to take a box of random crafty things and make a new prototype of our branding.  We spend the next 10 minutes coming up with ideas, and 10 minutes crafting it. We decide that knowledge was the most important part, and come up with a walnut crafted out of playdough.  There is a tree too.  Perhaps I am not visual enough but I was happy with just the green (yes green) nut.  Joey did an amazing job to make the wall nut look realistic.  Amazing.

We "get" to go first again and everyone in my group tries to get me to present.  Why always me?!  Maria does it instead.  Lesson learned - but succinct in your presentation.  Best quote of the day was something like (yeah not an actual quote) "After you have sold it, shut up."

Every team gets a turn taking something abstract and making it real.  Another good thing heard from Patrick (at some point earlier in the day) was to "create impactful moments".

Finally we get assigned new teams.  Bye bye old teams.  I am now on a team with another group of people I have never worked with before.  Cool. The task?  For us it is to go to Futureshop, both the store and the website, and get to know them. We have 20 minutes to come up with our impression on what their messaging is. Should also go to competitors and check them out. My group decides to hit Futureshop tomorrow and then head out to Metrotown to check out some competitor stores. Then I remember I have a family and we have a school BBQ to go to... grrr (at myself). Well I can give Metrotown a miss, I know the other stores. Hopefully I will have time to do both.

Off to BCIT for LEGO!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Day 5

Clown class time, yay.  As much as it saps my energy it is worth it... a new perspective on life.  At the end of the day it is a blur though, so I will probably forget a lot of what we actually do - I think it is just supposed to become a part of me though.

I start off the day by moving to a different table than Arron.  I managed to guess correctly that our tables will be the group for the next task, and I want to branch out to other people.  If I am supposed to be out of my comfort zone then having a familiar face around doesn't seem like the way to do it.

Rip the first journal entry out of your journal.  Eek! Put it, along with the 3 other people at your table, n the whiteboard (don't put the other people on the whiteboard, that would be silly, each of us put our freshly torn out journal entry on the board). Write the thing that is most important to you in a collaboration on the board. You have 10 minutes. Well 10 minutes seems like a lot of time, so we read each others, ask questions.  5 minutes left... ok time to pick something and write it: "Have Fun" appears on the board. More instructions: if someone walked to the board and read it would they know how to interact with you? Probably not, expand on my idea with a few more words. Everyone done? (we are) Do people want 2 more minutes? (not really).  Ok two more minutes. (help out each other with fleshing our ideas a bit more). Travel around the room and read each others. We all come to the conculsion that we would not know how to interact with each other. For example what if your rule is "treat others like you wish to be treated"... what if you like to treat yourself horribly?

New instructions: Be specific abut how your idea of a perfect collaboration. I write a lot, not much of which actually has to do about having fun.  I write so much I get to go last as we go around the room... even my very specific version has holes in it. Communication is hard :-)  We also learn a lesson in following directions. My group followed directions (yay us!).

Next we take a break and I talk to Haig, another student. We get back to class and we are in a big circle. We pass a clap (not "the" clap, much laughter) around the circle.One person claps and then the next etc... all the way around the circle.Now to it faster. Now faster. Do the same thing with one of those big balls you exercise with. Find new ways to pass if faster. Next up we can pass it to anyone, not just the person beside us. We do the same with claps too.

Last, but not least. a very important thing for clowns (apparently) entering a room. I get to go first... at least I will have it done with :-)  Enter the room and make eye contact with everyone. I do it, and then get told how I could do it better. We all do it and we sort of fit into three categories: those that are mechanical, those that are superficial, and those that are somewhat natural but overdo it. We will do this more in the course, we also get our own video so we can see it. I never knew there was so much going on when you enter a room. The idea of presence again.

 After that have a meeting with the project group to approve of the presentation slides, we have comments, and class, and other meetings. Maria cleans it up along with the help of Damon and Joey. I run off to the visual story meeting. Brad is now in our group (had some strange Facebook issue where he could friend me but I could not friend him). We come up with a story plan, just need the story idea specifics. We are going to humanize an iPad.

Last, but not least, meet with my favourite advisor, Kim. We talk about what I want out of the program, any concerns etc... and they we compare stories of the stupid things we managed to do as teenagers that caused us to get hurt. She wins, I only broke my tailbone, and I did that at 41.

And finally, I am getting good at this - done writing this on the train :-)  Publishing NOW.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weekend 1

Friday was busy, with non MDM stuff.  But everything I did so far in the MDM was done for TerraTap, so it is like I get double the practice! Hopefully that means less failure in any one place.

Did some reading, fell asleep... oops.

On Saturday got to stay home for the most part.  Did more reading, did my journal for the clown (waves as Patrick).  Man i hate drawing elbows, feet, and fingers!

On Sunday went in to meet with the projects team. That was very productive - we are finding our feet. I give 50/50 odds of us being broken into new teams on Tuesday. We are very low rez now. We were going to do videos, those turned into us talking. We were thinking about an animated logo, that is now slightly less than stop motion animation, complete with shots of hands holding things. We were looking at doing an infographic, that is now a simple power point presentation.

We all have our parts, and we managed to do two prototypes of the presentation to see what would work and what would not. We threw away the idea of shooting videos before we brought out the camera and tripod. Iteration, prototyping and scope - check, check, and check.

Other teams are doing Unity based hand draw vector graphics based website. That is not a scope I would like to be involved in!  If we throw all that we did away on Tuesday I think my team is fine with it. We learned how to work as a team, and get something done quickly to what we think is the right resolution. I guess you will know on Tuesday afternoon if we succeeded, or how badly we have failed.

Now heading home, after missing Matthews first balancing game in hockey :-(, to do more reading. The improv reading is incredibly dense, but we now have a couple of questions to answer... perhaps that will give me something to retain while reading. I need to read more of the book for Richard and get that index card written... keeping my head above water so far :-)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Day 4

Long day. Hockey practice at 6:00am, so up at 5:00. I didn't go on the ice (there were more than enough coaches) so got to watch the practice instead. Was up later then I should have been last night, I was working on a little prototype...

As an aside, why do people bring bikes on skytrain in rush hour?  I thought that wasn't allowed...?

So a prototype for the Visual Design course.  Making a movie in 4 parts etc... talked to Judy about an idea I had with an way of telling an interleaving story and she came up with the idea of just making a movie randomly on the fly. That seems to fit with Visual Story where the viewer fills in the gaps and makes up their own story, 3 hours later I have something that splits things up and puts them into a semi-logical sequence.  Cool. Off to bed at least it was before midnight. I probably should have explicitly worked on the Branding assignment, but I have some ideas.  Also set up dropbox for Arron to try (he is also on leave from CST at BCIT to do the MDM) as we are in the same Visual Story group (which I was trying to avoid, want to try things with new people, not ones I already know). Asked him to read what I wrote for story ideas.

So get to the MDM at just after 9:00, damn iPhone and Fido.  They hid the personal hotspot setting and I thought my upgrade to iOS7 GM was borked... several tries later I had to head to the train.  Maria (another student on the same Branding assignment) is running late, so since both of my teams are meeting at the same time I join the Visual Story one.  We talk briefly about our ideas, Arron quickly says no to mine before I have actually explained it. Not a good start... but whatever. They talk about the mechanics about shooting, etc... coming uop with a plan while I hop over to the Branding room. 

The Branding meeting is very productive, we are getting better, well we did realize we had no agenda until part way through. We got a lot done, we are not doing software for those with learning disabilities but instead are doing it for those that have trouble. Not as specific as I'd like, but you have to compromise. Get a tagline and values. Decide on a new team name too - Totem Box. We finally instituted a round robin system where each person gets a chance to speak before we vote. That worked out pretty well. I left to join the Visual Story group while the others work on Logo designs. We did manage to scale it back to presenting a Log,o our tagline, and our values. Remember we are the product, and it is supposed to be low-rez. I talked to 3 other teams, they are all doing web pages. At least we will be different...

At lunch Arron and I have it out a bit.  Hopefully no bad feelings on his side. We both have strong personalities... he was upset that I was interrupting, I didn't realize I was... I thought a pause meant I got a chance to talk... finally we institute hand signals to help me figure out when he is done.  I do better at not interrupting, not perfect, but better. At least he didn't use his suggestion of kicking me in the groin :-)  He hates the idea of the random story generator, seems that he thinks I am making everything a programming problem. I pointed out that Judy came up with it, and the only way I can see to do it is to program. He likes the idea, but seems a lot of issues in implementing it. I can agree with some, but not others. But I want to investigate it, and it is my time, so investigate I shall. I can find out pretty quick if it has a chance of working. I also wander over to talk to George, the instructor, to see if he things the idea can work at all. He thinks it is worth a try, but save it for the next project which is interactive. I can do that.

1:00 pm rolls around and class starts. Richard and Jon introduce the course and we get our readings, 39 books.  Wait... what?  Ok one book each to read and write a short, index card sized (literally an index card) critique of it.  Then Jon talks law. I like this. It also seems that we will do a cohort wide business plan.

Finally we have a speaker, Carl Rosendah, the founder of Pacific Data Images, the company that made the movie Antz and Shrek before being bought by Dreamworks. Lots of questions, lots of answers. We apparently will get a number of industry speakers, which is a good thing.  Perspective is everything.

The good news is that I wrote all but the last paragraph on the train :-)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 3

Visual Story time! Watch a short movie, Zea, from 1981 which is an art film.  Ok... what have I gotten myself into?

Learn about narrative, plot, and story.  Zea doesn't have that... well it does depending on what definition you use.  Seriously, what have I gotten myself into?!

Watch another film, La Jetée, which is done with still pictures and a voice over.  WTF have I gotten myself into??!!one!

Ok calm down and just go with it.  Why not, perhaps this is what the improv course is for :-)

Next we get our project, the essence of which is create at least 4 films based off of stills that are connected someway, such as theme, colour, character, etc... the trick is that the films will be watched in any order.

Self organize your teams, and probably a good idea to have a writer, a photographer, an effects person, a sound person in each group.  Oh and there needs to be some interactive way to show the films... well I guess that would be me so at least I have something I can do beyond "act" :-)

Now comes chaos, we get a group of 5 people with the skills we need, sort of, we don't have a "real" writer, but that might be ok since we are going for a non-linear story anyways, if you don't have to break out of your way of doing things it might be easier?  Well I'll go with that anyways :-?  But the chaos is that we now have two projects going on at once, and nobody is coordinated, some meet about the stuff from yesterday, some from today, we are 39 people in about 12 different teams now, the constraints on time show up pretty fraking fast. We are also trying to communicate over Facebook which is not ideal.  Time to plan.

Speaking of planning I have to get on with my journal for impov, come up with story ideas for tomorrow (not that I can meet that group tomorrow, because I am meeting with the other group tomorrow), and think about branding.  We did manage to focus on branding a bit - we decided that we would make a company that develops interactive software to help people with learning disabilities.  Now that we have a focus we need to think about why we are doing that, how we would do it, and what it is we do.


Day 2

2nd day and already behind somehow (posting this the day after it took place... but I did start teaching my LEGO robotics class that night, so I guess I didn't have time to post this).

The Projects course was Tuesday.  After a brief introduction to the course we were broken up into 5 groups (I think it was 5) at random.  We then had to give a low resolution plan for getting Larry, the instructor, a cup of coffee.  We had 5 minutes to do it in.  I think all the teams spent a lot of time figuring out what the requirements were, and not enough time on the how we would carry out the plan.

Larry then refined it for us, the simplest plan to get him a cup of black coffee.  We drew a 3 cell comic: get the money, get the coffee at 7/11, give the coffee. I guess if I drank coffee I would have noticed the coffee machine outside of the classroom :-/  The neat one that came out of that was the "find out if the client really needs what they want". Does Larry need coffee or caffeine?  Will a coke do instead?  Things you don't think of under pressure sometimes :-)

Next up SWOT.  Write down our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Share them with the class.  So 39 people did that... took a while.  Learned more about each other though, and hopefully about ourselves too.  Self reflection seems to be a big part of the program, which makes sense, how else do you know if you are growing and where to improve?

After lunch we got our first assignment, to be shown in "dailies" next Tuesday morning.  In our group of 7 people from the morning, come up with a low-resolution (read: you won't mine throwing it away when you find out it is wrong next week) digital artifact.  That was basically the extent of the assignment, make up your own scope I guess.

First up in our group OARRs (Objectives, Agenda, Roles, and Responsibilities). Next a group SWOT. Next up what role best describes each one of us?  Programmer, Web Programmer, 2d artist, 3d technical artist, UX/UI designer, writer, and photographer.  Next up write down the thing each of us values most.  Beauty, teamwork, sharing knowledge (we had others, this is what we pruned it down to).  Next up spin wheels for a bit, but come up with a few things. Get a bit off the rails talking about a bee for a logo. Somehow come up with Push Button Studios as a potential name.  Next up Larry gives us another tool to use, tried it but it didn't help, spin wheels for a while longer.  Settle on throwing out anything to do with bees and instead go with Push Button Studios.  Come up with a tagline none of us really likes, and a 2 line story to introduce us.  We also settle on making an interactive web page for our digital artifact.

Once I got home (after teaching the LEGO robotics) I talked to Judy about this and it pretty much comes out that the problem that we have is that we, the team, are the product, and that is what we are trying to brand... but it is really really really hard to come up with an identity when you don't have a product.  We don't have a product, so we are going to have to pretend to have one.  Judy also points me at a TED talk that helps and I find a presentation on branding too.  What does a programmer know about branding?!  Not much, that's what! Tomorrow try to get this figured out I guess.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Day 1

It is day 1 of my captivity... :-)

Interdisciplinary Improv.  Snazzy title, snazzy course. This is the one that rewards us for risk taking, well I am sure they all do, but this one is set up for us to take obvious risks.

Today we did crowd surfing, nobody dropped anyone, we all trust each other :-)  We then walked into walls. Well some of us did. Well, actually, those that would have walked into walls were mercifully prevented from actually obtaining their goal at the last second. Got to know your boundaries.

After all that (all?  well there was a 25 minute introduction into the course - which just shows agendas are hard to follow as it was an hour instead), we went back and each drew and explained our own version of success.  Mine was a broadening of my horizons. There are so many different backgrounds, most that I have not been exposed to (artists, writers, sound engineers) that I am bound to learn something just by being present (another thing we talked about :-).

Tomorrow we start Projects I, which will make use of the improv course too.  Love the cross pollination between the courses. 

Week 0

Ok, I didn't manage to post at all in the first week... but that was just the start of the MDM program, learning names, learning what we have gotten ourselves into, learning the A-Z (literally) of the campus rules, getting our laptops, having a BBQ with the previous cohort, and some of us watching our first assigned movie: Blade Runner.

The first day had about 40 of us + some faculty learning each others names.  We went to "the Hanger", got into a large circle and Patrick started us off with his name, and a gesture. We repeated the name, and the gesture. Then Philip did is name and gesture, we did Philips name and gesture, and then Patricks name and gesture.  By the time we were done all ~45 people I knew most peoples name by sight.  If we didn't know it by sight, then the person would make their gesture and we would remember.  It worked well!

We did a few more exercises then some of us went down to get our student IDs and transit passes from the SFU Harbor Centre campus.  Sort of a pain, but we did find that the Granville station is slightly faster but the Waterfront Station would keep us dry if it were raining.

On day 2 we had an introduction to the program and the courses and how they all fit together.  One thing mentioned was that we do 15 credits this term, and a typical Graduate student would do 6 to 9 credits in a term.  I hope my CST diploma back in 1990-92 prepares me for this!  Somehow this is probably karma for what my students have to do in Java...

For day 3 we broke into groups of 6 people:
- one to two women
- different age ranges
- different first langauges

We are a very diverse group.... which is neat.  What we did in the groups was to take the 6 major topics covered in the previous day and mind map them out.  We had to each present, we will be doing a lot of presentations in this program.  My group nominated me because I was the oldest in our group (I am not that old!), I think they were nervous of speaking in front of 40 people. A problem that people will soon overcome I suspect :-)

I took the train back home with another student.  We talked about the 6-9 credit thing and the fact that those of us with experience cannot coast (I had no intention of coasting!) and decided that branching out to a new area would be a very good idea, and that we hopefully can work smarter not harder.  Let's hope.

Day 4 was easy, a BBQ put on by the C7 cohort, the students that have just finished their coursework and are now on their internships.  Attempts to scare us were for naught :-)  I think we are all a little shell shocked.

Before the BBQ I met up with one of my fellow students, an artist, and tried to go over something insanely dense: binary numbers, logic gates, logic circuits, how the CPU executes instructions, and what a simple C-like program would do with all of that to execute.  Hopefully an artist can help me make all of that more understandable since it is the core of everything interesting that goes on in a computer.  Thinking about all that together really made me appreciate how stupid a computer really is.  It reminds me of the (partial) Steve Jobs quote "Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you".

On Sunday about 20 of us got together and watched Blade Runner to prep for the Visual Story course.  Then off home to mentally prepare for the Interdisciplinary Improv course on Monday.  That one is going to be a challenge for me... you get rewarded for taking risks, and probably for failing while taking them.