Lifehacks, Media

Revise: Live from Barcamp – How to bluff your way through an interview on Information Architecture

This post was originally written on 28 Feb 2009 at the wordpress hosted singularity industries.

By: Coleman Yee, Room 3, 02:00PM

Why does anyone need an information architect?

Ans: The basic goal is to make a website user friendly. Make information easy to find.

Going further, it’s easier to build small houses than large complexes with plenty of rooms, wiring, pipes, etc… It’s the same with information architecture. How do you design a system that stores and retrieves information that saves you time and money?

2:15 Coleman just shared www.amazon.com as a good example. Do we go to Amazon to get something we have in mind, or do we go in there knowing already what we want? Amazon knows this.

2:17 The information architect can present information that’s drawn from previous databases, studying trends, and present that relevant information to a relevant customer. It automates the “recommendation” function you might find from a store helper, much like www.stumbleupon.com and www.last.fm although these examples are more closer to the semantic web.

2:20 Coleman asks, How would you go about redesigning your website?
- There’s context. What is the goal of the website? Usually the goal of the company. Look into the company’s stakeholder interviews to find out what a company’s key messages and positions are with regards to their stakeholders.

- Beyond strategic direction comes content. Current content on a current website is probably not enough. You need to conduct a content audit / inventory

- Next comes the users. Who are the people using the website? You can conduct Surveys, Focus groups, Interviews and Observations. (I wished he could expand more about this, but he’s moved on to another example now.)

2:26 Coleman cites an example of ship captains who use the Internet via satallite and need information that is not data packet heavy. IA helps tackle such requirements.

2:27 Design. – Hierachal? The information architect has to come up with a reorganisation of the content database that increases productivity and user experience.

Wireframes – No design element. Shows text layout, functionality.. it kinda looks like a black and white skeleton of how your website would look without skin.

2:32 So, like a real life architect, the information architect comes up with the blueprint, and a contractor helps build the site, designers can help skin it.

2:34 Coleman has a sense of satisfaction when people tell him when a site is user friendly. Awwwww… Group HUG! (courtesy of iantimothy)

That’s it! From the people next to me. “That’s the most educational talk i’ve heard at Barcamp.” “IA is awesome!”

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Lifehacks

Lifehacks: DIY Pedalboard

This session of How Things Work features John Maeda‘s first two laws of simplicity:

Law Number One: The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction

Law Number Two: Organisation makes a system of many appear fewer

I’ve been playing bass for quite awhile, and over the years I’ve been getting into stompboxes. They’re little boxes of electronic magic that can transform your bass’s tone into something else, or totally destroy it. Anyway, I amassed quite a collection, and housed everything into one of these:

Nuclear Launch Sequence

That was in 2008, when I was at the height of my stompbox collection. However, as time passed, I realised that I didn’t need such a complicated setup, and when you have less equipment, less things can go wrong too. That’s when I started to strip my rig down to its bare essentials. In the end, I found myself constantly playing with only three stompboxes, and still, I was carrying a large flightcase that had only three stompboxes.

It was because of this observation that I seriously considered making my own pedalboard, in an effort to simplify what I needed to bring for rehearsals and gigs, and to concentrate on playing bass itself.

Cost of project: Less than $20
Materials bought from: Art Friend, Bras Basah Complex, 132 Bain Street
Materials: A block of wood, Velcro, A pair of scissors

DIY Pedalboard

Step 1: Lay out your stompboxes, so you can decide how to place your velcro.

DIY Pedalboard

Step 2: Stick the velcro (furry side) to the piece of wood like so.

DIY Pedalboard

Step 3: Stick the other side of the velcro to your stompboxes. It helps to remove the stoppers from the stompboxes if there are any.

DIY Pedalboard

Step 4: Stick your stompboxes to your board.

DIY Pedalboard

Step 5: This is additional, but you might want to stick something on the underside of your board to prop it up.

DIY Pedalboard

That’s it!

The beautiful thing about this board, is that it fits perfectly into my 13″ Manhattan Portage Messenger Bag, and I can probably fit my macbook in there as well.

DIY Pedalboard

The next thing I have to do is probably decorate it. Any freelance illustrators / painters want to give me a hand? I can’t pay much, but maybe we could work something out? I also might have screwed myself because maybe I should have primed the wood first.

If you would like to feature artwork on my board that will be seen when I play live shows, please email me at litford[at]gmail[dot]com

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Lifehacks

Lifehacks: Renewing Your Road Tax

renewroadtax

This is a new feature that I’m adding to the blog, mainly because I’m rather absent minded, and I thought this would serve me as much as it would serve you. Especially since I’m commenting half the time that no one teaches you how to be an adult.

It was my first time renewing my road tax in Singapore, and I was rather wary since I’ve had many a bad experience with bureaucracy, but this was a rather pleasant experience.

For the purposes of this post, I drive an Off-Peak Car

Short Story:
1. Get Auto Insurance valid for period of road tax
2. Obtain necessary inspection papers
3. Pay for your road tax

Things you need prepared
1. Road Tax Renewal Notice

2. Certificate Of Insurance
- Cost about $1,800 (20% No Claim Bonus)
- I use OAC Insurance via Great Eastern. My planner, Vincent, was also of great help with this
- Obtained from Insurance Company upon payment of one year Auto Insurance

3. Number Plate Seals Inspection Certificate
- Only for Off-Peak Cars
- Costs about $10.70 (As of January 2010)

4. Vehicle Inspection Certificate
- For cars older than 5 years

Things you need to do
1. Get Valid Auto Insurance to cover the period stated on your Road Tax Renewal Notice

2. License Plate Inspection
- Cost $10.70
- Only Off-Peak Cars need this step
- I went to STA Inspection Pte Ltd (Sin Ming), 302 Sin Ming Road

3. Vehicle Inspection
- If your car is more than 5 years old
- STA Inspection Pte Ltd (Sin Ming), 302 Sin Mind Road

4. Produce Valid Documents and pay for Road Tax
- Off Peak Car + Radio License costs $77.00 (As of January 2010)
- STA Inspection Pte Ltd (Sin Ming), 302 Sin Mind Road

Note: The back of your Road Tax Renewal Notice will have a list of Authorised Insurance Companies, Payment Centres and Inspection Centres. Choose the ones that best suit your needs. I chose going to STA Inspection Pte Ltd (Sin Ming) because it allowed me to do inspections and pay for my road tax all at once and accepted NETS. Plus I needed to go to the LTA for another matter.

It is also possible to pay for your Road Tax at any AXS machine or online through the ONE Motoring Portal. (For Singapore Citizens + Permanent Residents, you will need a valid SingPass account. For Foreigners, you will need to register for an account at ONE Motoring.)

Where To Go
302SinMingRoad
STA Inspection Pte Ltd (Sin Ming), 302 Sin Ming Road

For further directions, be sure to visit Gothere.SG

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