Project Elsa: Make magical snowflakes in Leap Motion + Unity3D.

When I named each folder with emoticons. Minimal UI was fun, but it didn’t help my visual app search too much. 

When I named each folder with emoticons. Minimal UI was fun, but it didn’t help my visual app search too much. 

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
Andy Warhol

Goodbye, Pastor Chen

When my mom told me about Pastor Chen’s passing over the phone, I expressed my sadness but carried on with my work day. Surrounded by fellow twenty-somethings in bustling SoMa, San Francisco, I was at the place where people are machines that churn out mobile apps and wearable hacks. It is not the place to stop, let alone to mourn someone so far away. 

That was last week. Today, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, I happen to fly home and had the opportunity to attend Pastor Chen’s memorial service, mainly because I felt a small obligation to say goodbye.


Pastor Chen was the main pastor of the small Chinese Christian church where I spent my middle and high school years. I have always known of the pastor as a friendly old man with eyes that always smiled, who sometimes wrapped up sermons with the same bible verse, recited in Mandarin. He was one of those figures who was always around, and always happy to see how I was doing. 

Regret

That’s why it was strange to walk into church today and see him lying in front, his face ashen from death, eyes shut and no longer smiling. My head told me he went to heaven to join his wife. The transient happiness from that thought was immediately drowned by a huge wave of regret as the reality of mortality sank in. Despite my limited interactions with him in the past, I realized that the possibility of any future conversations with him just decreased to null. My heart ached because, as head of my home church, his wisdom could have guided me so much. Today, of all days, was when I thought of the perfect questions that I could ask him. Did you have doubts about your faith? What kept your eyes on God all these years? What would you say is the meaning of life? 

Admiration

The service went on as church and family members went up one by one to share their stories of Pastor Chen. Each story widened my perspective of him beyond my personal interactions. I realized the depth of his dedication to the Lord and to his church, and how his humility and grace impacted every member who attended. As I have ingrained myself in tech, where switching jobs every two years is the norm, I could not fathom how anyone can spend a lifetime pouring out love into the same community. Someone on stage shared that recently our church gave Paster Chen a huge group photo of everyone, taken just for him. He loved the photo so much that he placed it at the center of his desk and gazed at each face almost on a daily basis. This church was his family and his sheep, and I admired the depth of love he reserved for every individual. 

Gratitude

People lined up during the last portion of the memorial service to walk by his body and say goodbye. I shuffled up behind others, smelled the surrounding flower wreaths, and wondered what I was suppose to say to his family that lined up beside the coffin to shake hands with each person who walked by. Best wishes? He was a good man? Hope you are feeling okay? 

Turns out I could not even speak one word. 

As I shuffled rather quickly past the pastor’s body, I first shook hands with his oldest son, whom I had only heard about but had never seen nor met. I met his gaze with a sad smile, and to my surprise, he told me, “He asked about you all the time, you know.” 

I burst into tears. Me, just one member at this church of hundreds. Me, who was two generations away from Pastor Chen and had barely anything in common with him. Me, who have been away from school and only visited during holidays. I was suddenly reminded that my mom regularly told me the same thing over the phone, that Pastor Chen asked her how I was doing and when I was coming home. At that moment, I felt the weight of love and was grateful for it. 

I sobbed through the entire line of Pastor Chen’s family members. I don’t know how many I hugged or shook hands with. All I knew was that what his son said to me opened a floodgate of memories. The memory of Pastor Chen pulling an awkward teenage me out of the baptism water, supporting my first few steps as a Christian. The memory of Paster Chen facing the congregation, eyes closed and hand raised, praying for us to continue receiving God’s blessings throughout the week. The memory of Pastor Chen beaming through his frail frame during each of my infrequent visits in recent years, saying “Nancy, you are back!” and grasping my hands with surprising strength. The memory of my mom sharing her story of miracle when my grandpa, an adamant agnostic for decades, suddenly prayed the Lord’s prayer with Paster Chen by his side. 

For every beautiful memory that Paster Chen left behind with me, I am grateful. 


Today was the first time I gazed into the face of someone who passed away. I was reminded that life is so much deeper than how much information my brain could retain, which had been my pursuit and the pursuit of many other career-driven peers.  

Life is also about the heart and how many memories it can hold — memories of people we are blessed to have been in contact with, each of whom changed our lives for the better. The hard part is that, oftentimes, these memories lay dormant during our day-to-day striving and only burst forth when we become painfully aware of the eternal absence of those who wove together these memories into the fabric of our lives. 

It took the entire emotional roller coaster ride during the memorial service today for me to truly appreciate what Pastor Chen meant to me. I eventually reached the same conclusion as the beginning of the service, that he is now smiling down from heaven, next to his beloved wife. The next time I step foot in church, Pastor Chen will not be there to greet me, but memories of him always will. This gives me the strength to finally say — goodbye for now, Pastor Chen. 

Bay Bridge At Night

image

Bay Bridge At Night
The fresh paint of twilight and salt-kissed breeze
Fail to slow down my stuffed suitcase of thoughts
Even hurried locals, their footsteps freeze
As I race on, untying mental knots.
-
To fleeting eyes, you’ve a single purpose
A bridge that connects two ends of the bay
Countless silent cars across your surface
No one sees your coat of metallic gray. 
-
But your other side emerges at night
Each cable a string of shimmering stars
Mirrored by waves that glisten with delight
Forever etched to memories and hearts. 
-
We solve problems to turn our lives serene
But beauty’s built when Man and God convene. 
Connecting my various loves

Connecting my various loves

The Secrets of the UX Team of One

Leah Buley

BayCHI @ Xerox Parc

The Secrets

  1. Truly listen
  2. Make things together
  3. Recognize good enough
  4. Invite people in

The Real Secrets

  1. Charismatic people are better UX. Go outside, be a person of substance. 
  2. Some jobs are too much for a team of one. 
  3. ROI of UX? (Maybe quant of likelihood to recommend to friend?)

facet

Reflection: 30-Days of Design Tweets

June just ended. In that month, my friend Nishita and I committed to tweeting something design-related every day. Our goal: share our knowledge with the virtual world!

Every day, we would tweet our message and @ tag each other for accountability’s sake. Our tweets varied from design tools resources to inspirational quotes, to links to professional designers and other various other tidbits that we considered important. 

But tweeting was hard! You would think that applying 140-characters to the broad field of design would be a piece of cake, but no. In order to produce valuable tweets for both my designer and non-designer friends, I thought a lot about the content and how to frame it with my voice. Because of this, I often only had time to tweet past midnight, after much deliberate thinking. 

Lessons learned:

  • Planning ahead makes things easier. I had a spreadsheet where different design topics were mapped to particular days of the week. This gave me specific categories to brainstorm topics for ahead of time, so that I did not need to scramble to find topics on a daily basis. 
  • Accountability is awesome for sticking to a goals. By tweeting at each other, Nishita and I were able to stick to our daily schedule much better. When I skipped a day, I felt guilty and obligated to explain my excuse to her. Reading her tweets also kept me motivated. 
  • Sharing is so much fun! After each tweet, I found myself addicted to refreshing Twitter on my iPhone, looking for updates directed at me. When a friend responded to one of my posts, it was as if the world applauded for my tweet! Those were the moments that validated my desire to help people.

My next step is to do another 30-day design-related challenge. It’s such a good way to keep working on something in small bits at a time! 

Links:

Here’s something I’m really proud of - the logo that I designed for my capstone project team.

It took us a week to decide on the team name glasswing - a butterfly with transparent wings that matched our moodboard of healthcare-related images (our clients are in the medical industry). We had reservations about the fragility that the word implied because we wanted to brand ourselves as trustworthy HCI professionals.

I iterated on sheets of hand sketches and received feedback from many people before choosing the geometric glass shards version of the logo. I then traced the sketch in Illustrator and played around with stroke widths, colors, opacity levels, etc. before realizing that it looks the most glass-like when the strokes were white. 

The resulting logo is elegant and strong. My team is very happy with it, which is great because we will be working together for the next 8 months. 

The first logo that I designed back in high school.

The first logo that I designed back in high school.

Future Facebook Posts

http://www.facebook.com/supernancychen

Made this last night in Photoshop to continue my Facebook timeline into the future. I learned that Facebook mainly uses the “Lucida Grande” font, that borders are typically 1px transparent gray lines, and that the cover photo should be 851x315 to prevent Facebook from automatically resizing it. Thoughts?

Copying Pinterest’s UI

I hear it’s good practice to copy other people’s UI. Here we go!

I have finished remaking everything in the top nav (except for the logo). Very fun! 

Quick Post About My Skills

My Skills

  • Design:
  • Grids
  • Typography
  • Storyboarding

Research

  • contextual design
  • Contextual inquiry
  • Models
  • Affinity diagram
  • Visioning
  • Competitive analysis

Icons

My friend from Australia is making a dedication Android application (released here!) and asked me to help him design 5 icons. Here are some pictures of my process.

Something doesn’t look right with the envelope icons. I might need to iterate on them…