Archive for May, 2008

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graduation.

May 29, 2008

After four years of classes, a weekend of rushing, and a full day of driving, college has finally come to an end. Having watched the boyfriend go through the motions last year, I confess I was not extremely enthusiastic about the weekend. Classes, finals, and true Cornell experiences had wrapped up a week earlier and graduation seemed like a big to-do for nothing. But in the end, even though the procession to commencement felt like a “last”, walking into Schoelkopf Stadium was overwhelmingly exciting. The sheer number of people, smiles, and cameras made it impossible to be disappointed or indifferent. It was at that moment I felt that graduating was a big deal, that finishing Cornell was a huge achievement, that in four years everyone had come so far.

Then there were the true goodbyes, complete with hugs, best wishes, and promises to stay in touch. And because everyone left at different times and there were no tears, there was no final bang. The finality of college came at the moment in the stadium, when it was too exciting to be sad. Even now, the new beginnings are more exciting than the leavings were sad.

But check out the graduation muxtape: klaygenie.muxtape.com

***UPDATE: muxtape link no longer works as muxtape has changed what it does.***

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rss.

May 22, 2008

I finally decided to try using rss feeds. For one reason or another, I always liked typing in URLs/using bookmarks and actually visiting a website. But I’ve got to keep up with the times, so this is what I think so far.

The Positives:
+ I don’t have to memorize all the urls, especially for sites that don’t update on a regular schedule
+ Given the above, I can manage many more sites and much more information
+ I’m just using Thunderbird as my rss feed reader, so I can check them when I check email. Also makes it very easy to forward interesting articles.

The Negatives:
– Information overload: too many feeds, too little time. I can literally keep myself busy all day, which is kind of awful. I need to come up with a better routine to actually get through all the content I want.
– Boring presentation; I miss seeing the design of the websites.
– Some feeds just don’t give me what I’m expecting: comics that don’t show the actual picture, digg’s feed that shows me the digg page summary, etc.
– Hard to scan (maybe this is a problem with Thunderbird) but definitely harder for me to scan through a bunch of headlines

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Re: Definitions

May 18, 2008

This is the post that got me thinking, and the following are my thoughts on the subject.

For some reason or another, I have never been interested in figuring out who I truly am. Because of great self-confidence, or perhaps just a very large ego, I’ve always thought “This is me; I don’t need an adjective”. And yet, because I just can’t stay away from any form of social networking, I fill out profiles and bios all the time. So, while I am not concerned with self-definition, I am somewhat obsessed with self-presentation. What’s the difference? It’s not for me; it’s for you.

Therefore, the idea that identity may be a “fabrication of the people around [you]”, is exactly how I’ve always thought of it. But is that surprising? Think about it. I’d love to think about myself a certain way. But which matters more, whether I define myself that way, or whether other people do? If I think I’m being polite and everyone else thinks I’m a bitch, they’re going to treat me as such. When it comes down to it, does what I think really matter?

Once a group and the roles are established, it’s very hard to change because you’re not just changing your self-definition; you’re changing the whole group’s thought. Moreover, having a role places some sort of value on your personality and you want to protect that. Therefore, if you enter another group, you will most likely take on a role that does not exist because everyone wants to avoid competition over their niche. Self-presentation then needs to attempt to place you in your most preferred role from the start, and slowly adjust until you find a solid position (and hopefully it’s one you like).

So does this mean we don’t really know our friends, that we only know one small piece of them? Yes and no. If you only see that friend with the same group, then yes, you probably only know them on a somewhat superficial level. But most of the time, friends do things as smaller groups, and the roles adjust to make up for the people who are not there. More facets of a person’s personality emerge and you know more about him. That’s the difference between good friends and acquaintances. And even among friends, judgement will always be biased by the roles taken on in specific situations. I know several people who I think are great because they’ve always been great around me, but who I’ve heard awful stories about them from others. And I probably have stories that I don’t want to share with all my friends for the sake of reputation too. So I’m willing to see only what people present to me, whether it’s their whole self or a part. Honestly, if they don’t want to share, do I really want to know? Like they say, ignorance is bliss…until it interferes, and then I want to know.

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alfresco.

May 16, 2008

It was finally nice enough to eat alfresco tonight, like my house has been planning to do ever since we discovered there’s a park two blocks from the house. To make things even better, it was the perfect summer meal: salad with chicken, bread & brie, lemonade, oatmeal cookies, and this wonderful orange couscous with blueberries. The couscous dish was cool, sweet, and delicious. So I thought I would share the recipe (which comes from my housemate, Emily).

Orange Couscous with Blueberries

2 cups raw couscous

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups orange juice

1 tsp orange zest

1 can mandarin oranges

1 pint fresh blueberries

Combine couscous, salt, & 2 cups boiling water. Stir; let stand 2 minutes; add OJ 1 cup at a time stirring. Allow couscous to absorb liquid for 10 minutes. Taste; add juice or salt if necessary. Add zest, oranges, & stir. Add blueberries; stir. Serve at room temp.

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paranoia.

May 13, 2008

Anyone who knows me knows privacy is a big concern of mine. I’m not a fanatic yet. I refuse to disconnect myself from the digital world – partly because it’s really difficult, partly because I really like the Internet. And obviously, from this blog, I’m even taking the time to make a digital record about myself. But I still try to log out of my Google Account before I begin searching; I still use a fake name if I’m signing up for something trivial; I still fill in as few fields as possible when filling in any forms; I sill share my grocery store card with friends.

It’s not so much the data collection itself bothers me. I understand that without any information about customers it’s awful hard for businesses to try to make things more relevant to every user. I’m annoyed that I don’t know about it until I learn about it in class, that most people don’t even have a clue, that even if they do, they don’t understand the consequences. I at least want to know what’s being collected(!) and the ability to cancel old accounts and be reassured the information isn’t still hidden somewhere.

Not that I have anything to hide, but I’ve spent a good chunk of my life online and the future generations are basically going to be living and breathing there. If one person/company could get all the information out there about me in one place, they would probably know me better than I do! In general, companies and governments have been pretty good about not doing controversial things with collected data (a few exceptions aside, I’m sure). History makes privacy fanatics seem paranoid; there’s really nothing to truly worry over. But Nigel Shadbolt points it out nicely:

‘”If you keep within the law, and the government keeps within the law, and its employees keep within the law, and the computer holding the database doesn’t screw up, and the system is carefully designed according to well-understood software engineering principles and maintained properly, and the government doesn’t scrimp on the outlay and all the data are entered carefully and the police are adequately trained to use the system and the system isn’t hacked into, and your identity isn’t stolen, and the local hardware functions, well, you have nothing to fear.”

With that many ‘ifs’, nothing starts to seem a lot more like something.

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carte blanche.

May 8, 2008

Thought this comic frame was fitting given my annoyance at BOOM’s lack of guidelines (from freelance freedom).

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boom.

May 7, 2008

Every year Cornell holds a student research conference to show their efforts in digital technology. It’s calledBOOM 2007 Logo BOOM, short for Bits On Our Minds. And every year, they hold a design contest to pick the logo and any student can enter. The final logo is picked by a committee and used on posters, name tags, etc. Sounds fun, right?

Only problem is the whole process to determine the winner is extremely black-box. There’s no information about the committee. There’s no indication why the final design is the winner. There’s nothing about what the committee might look for except that it should “promote scientific exploration & excitement” and the name of the conference. In short, the contest is an attempt to get as many possible designs because they refuse to have a narrBOOM 2007 Logoower theme than “scientific exploration & excitement”. But everyone has some bias in deciding what designs they like (this is why some people love postmodern art and some hate it). So to figure it out, let’s take a look at some past designs.

From the last two years, it looks like the committee likes horizontal rectangles to emphasize the title. This may be because they like complicated backgrounds and fancy effects. They don’t seem to think meticulous alignment is important. And overall, they seem to be look for a poster/picture rather than the traditional logo/icon.

And then they go and pick this year’s winner (pdf, it’s the only picture I can find so far). Simple, clean, more a real company logo. How was anyone suppose to predict that switch? What made the committee choose a design with no background, no fanciness? I have pretty positive feelings toward it. Except that one empty circle; what’s the significance? And it’s a tad hard to look at that many dots for too long. But otherwise, this is definitely an improvement.

On a slightly unrelated note, never give a website address for your portfolio when the site has nothing on it.