Category Archives: What Am I Doing?

Monthly review of what I’ve been doing for my career.

What Am I Doing? (December 2010)

(Almost) Living My Best Life

This entry is eight days late, but that is okay, because I am crazy busy trying to live a life that I want to live.

Apartment

I moved to San Francisco a month ago, and I just might be the slowest mover-inner ever. I have yet to get all the furniture that I’d like to have, and I have yet to fully move all my stuff from my old place to this place.

But with every new addition to the apartment, it looks more like a home. For example, I just got my first four-legged chairs this weekend, and it totally made my dining table look like a dining table. It’s funny how things just go together.

I don’t want to spend too much time on the detail because I want to return to living my best life, but one issue I’m having in order to “fully move in” is color choices. I want to create spaces in my apartment where everything looks like they belong, and color plays a big role. I’m still having trouble deciding which color scheme to go with, which is why I’m having a tough time. But I think in the next few weeks I will have a better idea.

Australia

I don’t want to say when, but I will be visiting Australia for the first time soon. I will be in Sydney and Melbourne, and this is very exciting. I have some ideas of what I’m going to expect, but I’d rather be pleasantly surprised.

Work

Work is work. I’m trying to adjust to a new routine, since I moved to the city and there are certain schedules and methods that I needed to alter. There’s a new life/work balance that I have to achieve now that I live in the city.

Happy Holidays!

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What Am I Doing? (November 2010)

Promoting the Tech Beat-Up

White Collar Brawler, the show created by my former freelance client Kai Hasson and Nate Houghteling of Portal A Interactive, is hosting an event called Tech Beat-Up in the Sunset in San Francisco on Thursday, November 11.

Tech Beat-Up is an inflatable glove boxing tournament of representatives from tech companies in the SF Bay Area, all for charity.

I was very lucky to be able to recruit two awesome representatives from Zynga to compete. I even took the poster that my friend Lawrence Guzman designed and Zyngified it (see above).

The event is at the Rockit Room on 406 Clement St., on November 11 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10 now and available at Eventbrite, but they will be $15 at the door.

As if there aren’t enough links for this event, here are some more:

Shopping

Another thing I’ve been doing a lot lately is shopping, mainly for my first collection of home furniture. This is all happening quite fast, so it’s a tiny bit disappointing to have to make decisions so quickly. I might elaborate in another post, but basically, the criteria that have been constantly going through my head on every single item that I will/have purchased are: 1) eco-friendly, 2) style, 3) function, 4) price, 5) space, 6) delivery, and 7) ease of move-out.

So think of doing that for one item, then multiply by everything you own in your home, and divide by the number of days in which you have to think about this, you will get a head full of numbers and lists. GTD is helping me, but I wish there’s a handy app for that, especially one that syncs with my brain.

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What Am I Doing? (October 2010)

White Collar Brawler

What have I been doing? Not too much on the creative front. Just work, and trying to do my part to promote the new web series that my former freelance client Kai and Nate from Portal A Interactive are doing.

It’s called White Collar Brawler, which is about them training to become boxers. At the end of the series (in December), they’ll have to box each other.

Check it out, and Facebook Like it and follow them on Twitter and share episodes to your friends as much as you can!

Lawrence Guzman designed the website.

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What Am I Doing? (September 2010)

Baseball Game

I went to my first live baseball game a few weeks ago. It was an SF Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks game at the AT&T Park in San Francisco.

This is probably the case for all baseball stadiums, but I was amazed by how huge, yet at the same time how compact the stadium was. Since it was my first time, my friends walked around the stadium with me to check it out before taking our seats. It didn’t take too long to make a complete circle, yet when I looked out into the field, it just felt like the world was physically there, watching the game.

Even though the Giants lost horribly that night, it was still a fun experience for me, mainly because I didn’t know what to expect.

San Diego

For Labor Day Weekend, a few of my friends went on a road trip from San Francisco down to San Diego. No one from the trip had been to San Diego, which was partly why we went. Our plan for the weekend was to escape from our lives in the Bay Area and not have any real plans.

San Diego was quite a clean town. Downtown was pretty quiet too, probably because it was the weekend. The Gaslamp Quarter was definitely worth a stroll at night. It had its charm and setup, although I think the novelty can wear off pretty quickly.

While the trip ruined my fantasy to discovered that San Diego is not always sunny, we still had a decent amount of sun at the gorgeous Pacific Beach, which totally gave off that SoCal vibe that I very much needed to experience. Maybe this is typical and all beaches are like this, but I’ve certainly been deprived of that, having lived in the cool, foggy Bay Area for many years.

Having just took surfing lessons a month ago, I was inspired by this beach to prepare for revisits next summer, potentially many, many times.

The Experiences

These two experiences weren’t really about design or creativity, but I suppose the connection could be that in whatever we produce as designers and creators, we shouldn’t just aim for an end result, but also somehow strive for those unexpected inspiring moments that could trigger new ideas and new opportunities in yourself and your audience. It’s moments like these that linger in the mind and get them wanting more.

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What Am I Doing? (August 2010)

It’s more or less the second half of summer, and I can say that I’ve done a couple things that I’ve wanted to do.

Surfing

One thing I could check off the list of things I want to do in my life is learning surfing. I’m certainly not done learning, but at least I’ve started.

Amplified by the fact that I haven’t exercised in a long time, learning surfing is almost nearly a painful experience. My body ached and cramped, and I was sore for the next few days. But I loved it. I just needed to start swimming again to build some strength before going back out there.

Working

I don’t know what else to say other than that I’ve been doing a lot of working. I sort of realized this when I took occasional, unplanned breaks and noticed what I’m not doing. I also notice that creativity and new ideas rarely come from doing the same thing day in and day out.

At the same time, too much entropy gets me nervous. It’s a never-ending goal in finding the balance for me.

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What Am I Doing? (July 2010)

Time for Evaluation

This past month, I’ve been doing more thinking about my current state of life and career. There have been a couple changes to both, and I’m trying to step back from all the activity and determine the best steps.

Basically, I am pretty much ready to move to the next stage of my life and career, the stage where I can start to make things happen and live the type of life that I want. Like I said, there’s still a lot of activity and not everything is final yet, so I’ll trickle in details here and there as sidenotes, hopefully in the next few months.

At Zynga

I’ve worked at Zynga as a contractor for more than nine months, and I’ve only realized just recently, when I take a look back, how much I’ve learned, about the industry, the game design, and the day-to-day production process.

Looking back, the company and I have grown a lot in our own ways, and it’s just going to continue for a while. I’m just glad I can come along for the ride, because there’s so much more to learn.

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What Am I Doing? (Jun 2010)

Talent

I would say that talent is a pretty desirable, if not the most desirable, attribute that one should have in their career. Along with talent comes power. How you use your power determines what kind of person you are.

Teamwork

I would say that teamwork is a pretty desirable, if not the most desirable, attribute that one should have in their work. With teamwork, you need good communication. How you communicate to your team determines how good a leader you are.

iPad

It’s been a month since I got the iPad. A lot of you have asked yourselves the question, “What would I use the iPad for anyway?” and after a month, I sort of feel the same way. Nontheless, I still like my iPad and how it makes me feel when I use it, and I see a lot of potential for it as we all figure out what its best for.

For me, right now, I use it a lot to watch videos (mainly podcasts) and read books in bed. It’s much better than placing a hot laptop on my lap in bed, and I wouldn’t even THINK of watching videos on my iPhone for longer than five minutes.

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What Am I Doing? (May 2010)

WordPress on iPad

Apple Crazy

In the past month, I purchased three Apple products: the finally updated MacBook Pro, the Magic Mouse for my MacBook Pro, and this iPad 3G.

My friend teased me and said that I’m totally a Mac person now and that I’ve converted, but that’s not true. I’m still more comfortable with Windows, but I’m out trying different things. There are some things I like about Windows, and there are some things I like about Macs. And there are still things that annoy me about each of the three new Apple products that I got (ex. Typing on this iPad is still subpar, and made for people with not even an edge of a fingernail.)

ivanPad

My iPad arrived on Tuesday, and it’s been making me lose focus at work since I don’t bring it to work. I haven’t really done too much stuff on it, but I just like how much fun it is to do tasks with the touch and movements of my fingers.

I downloaded a bunch of new apps, of course. And even though you can run iPhone apps on it, the experience is just not the same. That’s why I get upset when there isn’t an compatible version for the iPad. But it’ll only be a matter of time…

Programming

I’ve been trying to find time to go back and do some coding again, particularly on the iPhone and iPad. It’s practically a brand new language for me, and it’s going to be interesting and challenging on the way.

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What Am I Doing? (April 2010)

Work

Obviously late to update, mainly because I’ve been very busy at work.

We’re working hard on PetVille and try to think of ways to make it better. Can’t specify, but I’m excited.

Purchases

As you can tell from my previous post, I bought the new MacBook Pro on Tuesday, and it will arrive next week. I’m very excited but also a little intimidated by having to set up everything on the new computer, and really learn the inner workings of a Mac OS. I’ve worked on Macs before, but I’ve never owned one, so I’ve never really looked deep and figure everything out.

My next purchase will be the iPad 3G. That’s going to be even more intimidating as I know I will get sucked into playing with it for hours at a time and not have time to do anything else, OR, I get so busy at work that I don’t have time to play with it.

Pretty soon after that, I’ll be buying a couple books, related to the iPad. You probably have an idea what kind of books those are, and hopefully something good and useful will come out of it in about three months.

Goals

This isn’t design or creativity related, but it could be. A few weeks ago, I had the sudden desire to learn surfing. So I think I’m going to learn to surf this summer, just because. It should be an interesting change in my life if I happen to take it on.

I might also get Scuba certified this summer, for a trip later this year.

And, if the opportunity is there, I might learn to snowboard or ski next winter. That should be interesting as well.

I think all these new desires and goals arose from working so much lately. Sometimes, when you don’t get pushed to one extreme in life, you don’t see the other side. In the end, I’m glad I get to see this.

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What Am I Doing? (March 2010)

Debbie Millman

For a few hours last week, I managed to return to the land of graphic design and AIGA when I attended a lecture by Debbie Millman at Adobe SF about Why We Buy and Why We Brand. It was a nice step-back look at the greater design world outside of Zynga and see where I stand in the grand scheme of things.

iPad

The new gadget just became available for pre-order two days ago, and I believe I will be getting one. I just haven’t decided which one to get, but I have decided that I will decide after it comes out and hear what other people are saying.

Dreams and Work

I don’t know if this happens at later stages in one’s career, but I find myself re-evaluating my career path more or less on a regular basis as I weed out elements of a career that I don’t enjoy and include those that I do.

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What Am I Doing? (February 2010)

PetVille

Still working on PetVille. We have so many milestones and exciting things happening in the past few weeks as well as in the coming weeks. It’s definitely not a boring job (not that I suggested it in the first place).

iPad

I’ve ridiculed its limitations, and others have ridiculed it as well. But I still want to get it, for two reasons. 1) I think this is a good family sharing device. I can picture my parents looking at photos and watching videos on it. 2) I want to learn to develop stuff for it; so it’ll be my testing device. But I have to get a full-on Mac first though so I can use Xcode. I would like to get back into coding.

I don’t think my family nor I will use it for it’s “primary intention” which is reading books. Though, I wonder if they do more than just text, so that my baby nephew can use it as an interactive children’s book as well.

That’s all for this month.

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What Am I Doing? (November 2009)

In Macau

I am currently in Macau, on “vacation.” I’m visiting family as I usually do once every three to four years. Every time I come back, something always changes.

This time, the city has modernized a bit more, and there are many more Vegas-styled casinos. I have yet to visit them, but I will make sure that I do before I leave.

Worksick

The first day I got to Hong Kong and Macau (I flew to Hong Kong and traveled to Macau by sea), I was so ready to either 1) go home in the Bay Area, or 2) go “home” in Macau. The second choice was closer and was the original planned, so it was an inevitable winner.

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What Am I Doing? (October 2009)

UI/UX Design at Zynga

Since I last updated, I have begun working on a project at Zynga as a freelance UI/UX designer. Originally, I was asked to work on only one aspect of the project, but I have since been asked to work on a second part. I am becoming more familiar with the project and am curious to how it’ll turn out in the end.

I’m not going to lie; I’ve enjoyed the work very much. I have mentioned last time that I haven’t done anything exactly like this before, so it is exciting, fascinating, and eye opening, and I’m learning a lot. I myself have started thinking of ways to further enhance the experience in future releases, if I am given the opportunity to continue.

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What Am I Doing? (September 2009)

Contract/Freelance

Near the end of August, one of my good designer friends from college contacted me about a contract job in the Visual/Signage Team at her workplace at a Pottery Barn corporate office. Not only was it great to see her again, but it was also refreshing to be in a working environment that is different from the one that I have been in.

Without getting too much into the details, I’ll just say that the job is to put together a seasonal guide book for internal use, and it allows the opportunity for me to be asked back and work for future seasons. They also had a bunch of little tasks that need an extra hand with, so I helped the team out with those, too.

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What Am I Doing? (August 2009)

ivanPhone

I mentioned this many times in passing in previous posts, but I got an iPhone in mid-July and have been playing with it ever since. Before I even thought about getting an iPhone, I thought that people with their iPhones are just rubbing it in my face and it’s sort of obnoxious to talk about it so much. I still feel that way a little bit now, so I make an attempt to not mention it unless it’s necessary and appropriate. So if you don’t want to hear it, you can skip to the next heading. If you choose to continue reading, I’m going to try to talk about this from a product/branding design perspective as much as I can.

One of my first acts as an iPhone owner was to get a screen film and case for the phone. I had been researching different films and cases online before I even ordered the phone, and I couldn’t believe how many review videos there are of different models in the market. I settled on the Power Support Anti-Glare Film primarily for its matte quality and therefore smoother finger sliding, and the Agent 18 Slim Eco-Shield mainly for its semi-eco-friendly material and simple design.

I’m not going to do a full review on these products, but I just want to say that these are fine products and technically, I am satisfied with them. But one thing I noticed as I “installed” them onto the iPhone is how much of the sexy is stripped from the phone when I, ironically, put on its clothes. I miss the chrome around the edges of the phone, and the matte film actually distorts the pixels ever so slightly. (I also turn the brightness down to preserve battery power, so the screen not looking as radiant as before is partly my preference.)

Soon after I got the phone and set up the basic phone settings, I went on an app binge and have since maintained a decent nine-page home screen, though I’m beginning to realize how I don’t use about three-quarters of the apps on a regular basis, if ever.

At first, I was on a game app craze that I never realize existed. I was getting worried for a while that getting an iPhone might have been a bad idea because I had ended up using the iPhone more for games than for productive work. But I think it was only a novelty feeling where I was just easily amused with the simple powers of the iPhone. Since then, that novelty has worn off for the most part. I’ve deleted many apps, and have continued to do so in order to make my home screen lean and useful.

Now, about four weeks in, I’ve moved on to more of the productive side of the apps. Last week, I tried out many apps that allowed me to not only control the mouse and keyboard on my family’s computers with my phone, but also get remote desktop, boot up, and shut down capabilities with the computers.

I’ve also looked into apps that let users transfer files from iPhone to iPhone and iPhone to computer wirelessly, since I don’t think the Bluetooth in the phones can do that.

These apps, I realize, are powerful, but they might a bit too powerful, as they allow so much access to other people’s computers and lives. Just be careful, I suppose.

Site

I mentioned in the last monthly review that I was going to “mobilize” my website and make it mobile-device-friendly and also look good on the small screen. Well, I haven’t gotten to that, yet. I have, however, continued to work on the undeveloped parts of my website in between doing my freelance work. I’m talking mainly about the About section, but I’m also starting to move back toward the home page, where a redesign to incorporate the rest of the site is in the works. I’m very excited about the content that I will be releasing, hopefully in the near future.

Programming

While working on the site, I’ve gotten to dig deeper into power of jQuery. In the past few days, I started exploring the jQuery UI, which seems twice as powerful as jQuery basic functions. So far, I’ve only done the drag and drop functions, but I’m already pretty impressed with the simple intuitive functions that the jQuery UI has built in.

Last night, I played with the jQuery ajax function for a personal project. My goodness, that was simple to use; way more simple than the traditional JavaScript setup. I guess it also helps to know the traditional JS setup to use the jQuery ajax with ease.

“Wide Calendar”

I know the Experiments section has been lacking regular posts lately, but I have a mini-project for the website home page that will involve many little scripting experiments, and I’m going to try to show post those in the Experiments section. I’m building a special calendar that I had been thinking about for years, and now I finally have a chance and a place to build it in. Let’s see how it turns out.

Letterpress

Of course, as I have talked about in a recent post, I took a Letterpress class and had a great time making my own prints with my own design. As I had said in the post, I really recommend design students (and professional designers) who haven’t touched a letterpress to learn to use one to get a better understanding of the history and the practice and the principles of graphic design. Do it for the good of the industry.

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What Am I Doing? (July 2009)

Processing

After catching up with one of my friends from the Design Program a few weeks ago, I found out he is currently teaching a summer session course in Processing, a relatively new visual programming language. I remember reading blogs about it a year or so ago, and while I thought it seems like a cool thing to learn, especially for designers, I just didn’t have the time to take on a new language. Well, now I have more time with this type of stuff, especially after having set up a system to play with it using the Programming Experiments section.

One thing I notice pretty early on is how it’s similar to ActionScript and JavaScript in terms of syntax. But the syntax is also similar to C++ in some ways (which I’ll explain later). The process is pretty simple and relatively easy to use and learn.

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What Am I Doing? (June 2009)

Site and Experiments Section

If you couldn’t tell from my posts for the past month, I’ve been crazy working on my website, especially the Experiments section. I’m just about finished with that section before I move on to the remaining areas of this site.

Programming Experiments screenshot

My latest addition is the Programming Experiments section. This is really important for me as I want to share and document my mini-coding experiments as I work on this site and future sites. These experiments won’t have the tutorial type of posts, but they will show as much of the related code that I use as possible. It’s not perfect right now, but it can be.

I have to admit, it takes a lot of work and time to build this “complete” website that I had dreamed of for many years, a site that is supposed to be representative of the public side of my life, including my career as well as my passions. Even though it’s taking longer than I expected, I have enjoyed the journey. I wake up every day excited and wondering if I would be coding and designing that day. I even considered making a shirt that just says something like, “I would code all day if I could.” Programming for me evokes so many ideas and possibilities, it’s mind-blowing!

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What Am I Doing? (Apr 2009)

There’s little to update for this month. It’s what you may say a transition period of things that have happened and of things to come. I’m trying to wrap up the final behind-the-scenes stuff with Portal A before I move into a different stage of this freelance life. But this transition period will be no different from any other time of my life; I will be busy busy busy trying to get through the thousands of next-actions from my 100+ projects list.

Just another plug for my client: if you need some video work done, check them out. They’re also looking for an intern for the summer. No coffee runs; real chance to do actual work.

Quote I Go By Lately

“Don’t Live in a Design Bubble.” —Me, to myself.

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