Udacity: The Design of Everyday Things

Photo: Juicyrai
Happy New Year 2014! It's been a long time since my last post. However, in this coming 2014, one of my resolution is to resume blogging and post at least 1 post per month here until the end of the year. I'd like to start with what I had been learning lately.

About 3 weeks ago, I was surprised to received an email from Udacity stating that Introduction to the Design of Everyday Things course is now available. Now, I always appreciate smart, clever and well thought-out designs. Moreover, Don Norman, who is going to teach this course, is well-praised by the community of Hacker News. So I quickly sign-up and in this blog post, I am going to share my experience for lesson 1 so far.

Here is the summary from its main page:
"Everyone designs. Design occurs anytime you deliberately change an environment to make things better. When you decide what seat to take in an auditorium you’re designing your experience. When you rearrange the furniture in a room or draft an email, you’re designing.
This course provides a summary of key concepts from the first two chapters of Design of Everyday Things (Revised and Expanded Edition, November 2013) by Don Norman. It’s intended to be enjoyable and informative for anyone curious about design: everyday people, technical people, designers, and non-designers alike."


If You Never Try, You Will Never Know...

Never underestimate what you can accomplish.

That is the message that had inspired me just a few days ago.

It was a youtube video that had gone viral over my facebook feed. I am sure that most of you have probably watched this video, but in case you haven't, this was more than what Dan Millman went through in his life as portrayed in the Peaceful Warrior movie.

It was about a 47 year old disabled veteran who overcame his mountain. It showed how he had lost hope and regained it again. Ultimately, it tells the story of how persistence without exception (Decision for Success #7) can overcome anything in life when practised.

Read on as I guide you through the story (youtube video embedded).


Reducing Electricity Bill With New Lighting Technology—LED

Led light. Safe to touch.
It is actually safe to touch the light bulb.
LED has been around for several decades now. In fact, the concept was first discovered in 1907 by H. J. Round. About five decades later, the first practical visible red LED was developed. Now, there are some more interesting historical facts about LED like the first LED flashlight was actually conceptualised in 1984,  but I don't want to risk putting you, my readers, to sleep with history lessons at this point. For those interested, you can read all about it over at wikipedia.

LED, however, have yet to become a mainstream household lighting solution. You cannot even buy them from the local supermarkets here in Australia, at the time of writing. Correct me if I am wrong. Even if you can, they will be very expensive.

So a few weeks ago, I ordered 2 LED light bulbs from ebay to test if it can replace my current compact fluorescent lamp (CFL). Not that the CFL has died on me, but I am curious to see if I am able to reduce my carbon footprint. And to my surprise, the results are not what I had expected...


Side Project: Building Something Useful with the MSP430

At the middle of the week, two parcels arrived at my door. It was the MSP430 and the add-on (booster) pack that I ordered last Thursday (5 April 2012). That was fast. Thanks to Texas Instrument (TI) and FedEx. In the following week, I am going to explore all the features and functionalities of the MSP430 microcontroller and build something useful with it, such as (not limited to):
  • Mp3 player
  • Temperature sensor
  • Home automation
Or imagine if it can build something like this:

I am going to show you what is it and why did I choose the MSP430 instead of Arduino. Is it a viable alternative?


What Can Over 200 Successful Historical Figures Teach Us About Success?

Last December, I came across this question after reading an amazing book and researching its background info.
Is life just a lottery ticket, or are there choices one can make to direct his future?
What do you think?

For some people, it may seem like a lottery ticket where they received a windfall from winning a lottery ticket. Then their life changed and they think that they would live happily ever after. But, statistics showed that 3 out of 4 lottery ticket winners had gone bankrupt. I won't argue that in this post nor will I go into detail explaining how they lose all their good fortune. I'll leave that one for another post.

However, the question remains.

Is life just a lottery ticket, or are there choices one can make to direct his future?

That is the question asked by Andy Andrews more than 20 years ago and today, where do you think he is now?