September 24, 2013

Small Talk: Thoughts On The Simple Question - What Do You Do?

As I get older, I find it much harder to answer the simple question when strangers ask me, "What do you do?"

It used to be a thoughtless automatic response like "I'm a student", or, "I'm a designer", then I proceed to ask them the same. Small talk ensues.

Nowadays I struggle to give a simple answer - I don't feel right doing so. In a casual situation when you're just getting acquainted with someone new, the answer to this question automatically puts you in a bucket - a bucket that's usually exclusive, based on some preconceived notions, and hard to get out of. Let's say I respond with "web designer", then the other person may automatically assume things like "Oh, html and css? Cool!" So now I'm the html/css girl who probably works for some ad agency. Categorized incorrectly. Nothing more.

I feel inadequate by answering, "Um, stuff? Web stuff? And other things? Music stuff?" It's vague, not on purpose, but it's the best response I have without boring the person with too much detail.

I think people subconsciously feel the need to bucketize things. It soothes a part of our brains when things are less "unknown". I'm not saying there's anything wrong with asking. I'm guilty of it too. After all, you do want to learn about the people you meet. I just remind myself not to judge someone so quickly based on their response, cuz people are so much more than a few labels.

April 18, 2013

Derek Ryan & Melissa Lin ft. Charmy - Gravity (Lyrics)

Another release. This one's out on Noys Music May 15, 2013.

From the bottom of my heart... here we go:

You were the center of our world
Then darkness creeps in and I'm sinking silently
But you surround me with your hope
While all I want is to find strength to let you go

Bound by the forces from our past
Confused and senses warped, I slowly lose control
Yearning for weightless flight again
I seek a future far beyond these heavy clouds

How long will our orbits bind us?
How long till you set me free?
I long to let go of my fears
Take flight, escape gravity 

These are the awesome people I worked with:

April 17, 2013

Usability - Always Test and Test Again

You never know how something is going to be used until you test it with real users.

Here's an example. I bought a house not too long ago and my husband and I were wondering what furniture would best make use of the space at the entryway. We had a few options:

1. A longer entryway bench so multiple guests can sit down at once to put their shoes on.

2. A little table top with one chair for people to put their shoes on.

3. Just put a rack there for shoe storage and no seating area.

We went for a two-seater entryway bench (pictured above), thinking it's great because we always have people come over and two people can sit on it at once. It's been a few months and I observed people's behavior, and no one, not even family members like to sit next to each other while they take off their shoes. It's always one standing, one sitting. Or, one sitting and putting a bag on the empty seat. Not a use I anticipated but it totally makes sense.

So, morale of the story is: always user test your products. Test your websites. Test your apps. People use things in ways you don't expect them to.


Here's why I don't trust "experts". They think that they know everything there is to know, so they become close-minded and apathetic towards anything new and potentially better. They stick to what they already know and learned and disregard anything else because it's too much work to learn something new and exciting. People are lazy and don't want to put effort into the unknown, and this is especially true for people who think they know it all already. "Experts" get offended when their existing view is challenged. To all the open-minded peeps out there living in a close-minded world, much respect to you.

January 21, 2013

Basic Quinoa Salad Recipe

I've been slapping together quinoa salads for guests with whatever ingredients I have at hand, and people have been asking me for my recipe. It's really simple and easy to throw together. Since I already typed this out to a friend, I might as well post it here.

Bring 1 cup uncooked quinoa and 2 cups chicken stock to boil, reduce to simmer 15 minutes.

In the meantime, chop up 3 stalks of celery, 1 bell pepper, handful of baby carrots, handful of black olives, and 2 handfuls of mixed greens. Add a can of drained sweet corn.

After quinoa is done cooking, chill quinoa in the freezer for 10 minutes (you don't want to add piping hot quinoa into the mix), then add to the rest of the ingredients.

Sprinkle as much feta cheese as you want (I used probably a quarter cup). Add sesame and lemon ginger sesame dressing, and a little bit of sea salt to taste. Mix well. (The dressing is from Costco, I got this one:

Makes 5 generous servings. Serve warm or chilled. Costco is your friend.

Other variations I've done: Bleu cheese instead of feta, add chicken breast or tofu or ground turkey, use balsamic vinaigrette instead. Add pesto instead of sesame… total flexibility.

Ready in 30 minutes.