Fedora Design Team Planet

“You can ask me whatever you damn well please but I have never in my life had a student question my…

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on February 15, 2019 07:49 PM

“You can ask me whatever you damn well please but I have never in my life had a student question my knowledge!”

That’s a sad state of affairs.

Even if one were to pretend briefly that your former professor wasn’t trying to silence and derail someone who has every reason to know more about this topic than her, no one — and I do mean no one — knows everything.

Never questioned by a student? That means no one is actually _thinking_ in your classes.

Fedora logo redesign update

Posted by Máirín Duffy on February 06, 2019 05:43 PM
<figure class="wp-block-image">Fedora Design Team Logo</figure>

As we’ve talked about here in a couple of posts now, the Fedora design team has been working on a refresh of the Fedora logo. I wanted to give an update on the progress of the project.

We have received a lot of feedback on the design from blog comments, comments on the ticket, and through social media and chat. The direction of the design has been determined by that feedback, while also keeping in mind our goal of making this project a refresh / update and not a complete redesign.

Where we left off

Here are the candidates we left off with in the last blog post on this project:

Candidate #1

Candidate #2

How we’ve iterated

Here’s what we’ve worked on since presenting those two logo candidates, in detail.

Candidate #2 Dropped

Based on feedback, one of the first things we decided to do was to drop candidate #2 out of the running and focus on candidate #1. The reason for this is that there are other logos that are really similar to it, and it would be difficult to change the design to provide enough space between the designs.

It also seemed as if, according to the feedback, candidate #1 is closer to the current logo anyway. Again, a major goal was to to iterate what we had – keeping closer to our current logo seemed in keeping with that.

Redesign of ‘a’

One of our redesign goals was to minimize confusion between the letter ‘a’ in the logotype and the letter ‘o.’ While the initial candidate #1 proposal included an extra mark to make the ‘a’ more clearly not an ‘o’, there was still some feedback that at small sizes it could still look ‘o’ like. The new proposed typeface for the logotype, Comfortaa, does not include an alternate ‘a’ design, so I created a new “double deckah” version of the ‘a’. Initial feedback on this ‘a’ design has been very positive.

Redesign of ‘f’

We received feedback that the stock ‘f’ included in Comfortaa is too narrow compared to other letters in the logotype, and other feedback wondering if the top curve of the ‘f’ could better mirror the top curve of the ‘f’ in the logo mark. We did a number of experiments along these lines, even pursuing a suggested idea to create ligatures for the f:

The ligatures were a bit much, and didn’t give the right feel. Plus we really wanted to maintain the current model of having a separable logomark and logotype. Experimenting like this is good brain food though, so it wasn’t wasted effort.

Anyhow, we tried a few different ways of widening the f, also playing around with the cross mark on the character. Here’s some things we tried:

  • The upper left ‘f’ is the original from the proposal – it is essentially the stock ‘f’ that the Comfortaa typeface offers.
  • The upper right ‘f’ is an exact copy of the top curve of the ‘f’ in the Fedora mark. This causes a weird interference with the logomark itself when adjacent – they look close but not quite the same (even though they are exactly the same). There’s a bit of an optical illusion effect that they seem to trigger. While this could be pursued further and adjusted to account for the illusion, honestly, I think having a distinction between the mark and the type isn’t a bad thing, so we tried other approaches.
  • The lower left ‘f’ has some of the character of the loop from the mark, including the short cross mark, but it is a little more open and more wider. This was not a preferred option based on feedback – why I’m not sure. It’s a bit overbearing maybe, and doesn’t quite fit with the other letters (e.g., the r’s top loop, which is more understanded.)
  • The lower right ‘f’ is the direction I believe the ‘f’ in this redesign should go, and initial feedback on this version has been positive. It is wider than the stock ‘f’ in Comfortaa, but avoids too much curviness in the top that is uncharacteristic of the font – for example, look at how the top curve compares to the top curve of the ‘r’ – a much better match. The length of the cross is pulled even a bit wider than the original from the typeface, to help give the width we were looking for so the letters feel a bit more as if they have a consistent width.

Redesign of ‘e’

This change didn’t come about as a result of feedback, but because of a technical issue – trying to kern different versions of the ‘f’ a bit more tightly with the rest of the logo as we played with giving it more width. Spinning the ‘e’ – at an angle that mimics the diagonal and angle of the infinity logo itself – provides a bit more horizontal negative space to work with within the logo type such that the different experiments with the ‘f’ didn’t require isolating the ‘f’ from the rest of the letters in the logotype (you can see the width created via the vertical rule in the diagram below.)

Once I tried spinning it, I really rather liked the look because of its correspondence with the infinity logo diagonal. Nate Willis suggested opening it, and playing with the width of the tail at the bottom – a step shown on the bottom here. I think this helps the ‘e’ and as a result the entire logotype relate more clearly to the logomark, as the break in the e’s cross mimics the break in the mark where the bottom loop comes up to the f’s cross.

(As in all of these diagrams, the first on the top is the original logotype from the initial candidate #1 proposal.)

Putting the logotype changes together

We’ve looked at each tweak of the logotype in isolation. Here is how it looks all together – starting from the original logotype from the initial candidate #1 proposal to where we’ve arrived today:

Iterating the mark

There has been a lot of work on the mark, although it may not seem like it based on the visuals! There were a few issues with the mark, some that came up in the feedback:

  • Some felt the infinity was more important than the ‘f’, some felt the ‘f’ was more important than the infinity. Depending on which way an individual respondent felt, they suggested dropping one or the other in response to trying to avoid other technical issues that were brought up.
  • There was feedback that perhaps the gaps in the mark weren’t wide enough to read well.
  • For a nice, clean mark, we wanted to eliminate the number of cuts to avoid it looking like a stencil.
  • There was some confusion about the mark looking like – depending on the version – a ‘cf’ or a ‘df.’
  • There was some feedback that the ‘f’ didn’t look like an ‘f’, but it looked like a ‘p’.
  • There was mixed feedback over whether or not the loops should be even sizes or slightly skewed for balance.

Here’s just a few snapshots of some of the variants we tried for the mark to try to play with addressing some of this feedback:

  • #1 is from the original candidate #1 proposal.
  • From #1, you can see – in part to address the concern of the ‘f’ looking like a ‘p’, as well as removing a stencil-like ‘cut’ – the upper right half of the loop is open as it would be in a normal ‘f’ character.
  • #2 has a much thinner version of the inner mark. #1 is really the thickest; subsequent iterations #3-#4-#5 emulate the thickness of the logotype characters to achieve some balance / relationship between the mark and type.
  • #3 has a straight cut in the cross loop. There are some positives to this – this can have a nice shaded effect in some treatments, giving a bit of depth / dimension to the loop to distinguish it from the main ‘f’ mark. However, especially with the curved cut ‘e’, it doesn’t relate as closely to the type.
  • #4 has a rounded cut in the loop, and also has shifted the bottom loop and cross point to make the two ‘halves’ of the mark more even based on feedback requesting what that would look like. The rounded loop relates very closely to the new ‘e’ in the logotype.
  • #5 is very similar to #4, with the difference in size between the loops preserved for some balance.

I am actually not sure which version of the mark to move forward with, but I suspect it will be from the #3-#4-#5 set.

Where we are now

So here’s a new set of candidates to consider, based on all of that work outlined above. All constructive, respectful feedback is encouraged and we are very much grateful for it. Let us know your thoughts in the blog comments below. And if you’d like to do a little bit of mix and matching to see how another combination would work, I’m happy to oblige as time allows (as you probably saw in the comments on the last blog post as well as on social media.)

Some feedback tips from the last post that still apply:

The most useful feedback is stated as a problem, not a solution. E.g., if you suggest changing an element, to understand your perspective it’s helpful to know why you seek to change that element. Also note that while “I don’t like X” or “I like Y” is a perfectly valid reaction, it’s not particularly helpful unless you can dig in a little deeper and share with us why you feel that way, what specific technical details of the logo (shape, contrast, color, clarity, connotation, meaning, similarity to something else, etc.) you think triggered the feeling.

Please also note this is not a vote. We would love your feedback in order to iterate and push the designs forward. If this was a vote or poll, we’d set one up using the proper software. We want feedback on why you like, don’t like, or otherwise react to what you see here. We are not going to tally “votes” here and make a decision based on that. Here is an example of a very productive and helpful set of feedback that resulted in a healthy back and forth with a new direction for the designs. Providing feedback on specific components of the logo is great brain food for making it better!

Update: I have disabled comments. I’ve just about reached my limit of incoming thoughtlessness and cruelty. If you have productive and respectful feedback to share, I am very interested in hearing it still. I don’t think I’m too hard to get in touch with, so please do!

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Fedora 30 – Supplemental Wallpaper

Posted by Sirko Kemter on February 05, 2019 11:47 AM

The submission phase for the Fedora 30 Supplemental Wallpapers ended a few days ago, now the voting is open and is until 25th. You have 16 choices you can make and are allowed to vote when you have CLA + 1 membership. This time we have not to many choices, just a bit above 50.  Here are my 3 favorites:

 

The voting process happens inside Nuancier so you can go now and vote, dont forget to claim the badge, its not given by hand.

Which new Fedora logo design do you prefer?

Posted by Máirín Duffy on January 09, 2019 08:39 PM
<figure class="wp-block-image">Fedora Design Team Logo</figure>

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Fedora design team has been working on a refresh of the Fedora logo. This work started in a Fedora design ticket at the request of the Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller, and has been discussed openly in the ticket, on the council list, on the design-team list, and within the Fedora Council including at their recent hackfest.
In this post, I’d like to do the following:

  • First, outline the history of our logo and how it got to where it is today. It’s important to understand the full context of the logo when analyzing it and considering change.
  • I’d then like to talk about some of the challenges we’ve faced with the current iteration of our logo for the past few years, with some concrete examples. I want you to know there are solid and clear reasons why we need to iterate our logo – this isn’t something we’re doing for change’s sake.
  • Finally, I’d like to present two proposals the Fedora Design Team has created for the next iteration of our logo – we would very much like to hear your feedback and understand what direction you’d prefer us to go in.

Wait, you’re doing what?

Yes, changing the logo is a big deal. While the overarching goal here is evolving the logo we already have with some light touches rather creating something new, it’s a change regardless. The logo is central to our identity as a project and community, and even iterations on the 13-year old current version of our logo are really visible.
This is a wide-reaching change, and will affect most if not all parts of the Fedora community. If we’re going to do something like this, it’s not something to be done lightly. This isn’t the first (or second) time we’ve changed our logo, though!The final proposal of the Fedora logo from Nov 2005; lighter blue is darker, f's crossbar is much shorter

A history of Fedora’s logo, 2003 to 2019

I have been around the Fedora project since 2004, and for most of that time I’ve been the primary caretaker of the Fedora logo. I’m the author and maintainer of the current Fedora Logo Usage Guidelines document and created and maintain the Fedora Logo History page, and I have maintained the Fedora logo email request queue and lead the Fedora Design Team for most of the past 15 years. I’ve witnessed and took part in most of the decisions that have been made about our logo over the years. The information we’re going to go through for the most part should therefore be regarded as accurate, and where I thought it would be helpful I’ve linked to primary source documents below.
Here is the very first Fedora project logo used in Fedora Core 1 through Fedora Core 4, for at least two years (I believe a simple wordmark using an italic and extra bold / black version of a Myriad typeface):
Original Fedora logo, in a bold italic Myriad font
A couple of years later came the initial public proposal for a complete redesign from Matt Muñoz (at time time from CapStrat) in November 2005:

Original Fedora logo. Ends of the F's were much longer and curled, and the lighter blue color was brighter.

With some feedback back and forth, this was the final result:

The final proposal of the Fedora logo from Nov 2005; lighter blue is darker, f's crossbar is much shorter
You can see that:

  • The lighter Fedora blue used in the infinity symbol was darkened and made less cyan
  • The color of the ‘fedora’ text was originally in the dark blue and was swapped for the lighter blue in our current version (this actually results in poorer contrast.)
  • Both blues in the final version were shifted more towards purple from a cyan tint.
  • The shape of the ‘f’ in the infinity mark was changed too – the ends of the f were blunted and the crossbar of the f was made longer.
  • Proportionally, the Fedora infinity logomark was made smaller in proportion to the Fedora wordmark.

Note too, this was 2005, and we only had a handful of high-quality free and open source fonts available to us. This logo is designed with a proprietary font called Bryant (the v. 2 2005 version) designed by Eric Olson.  That is one of the reasons we decided to redesign the original sublogo design created for the Fedora logo, which looked like this:

These sublogos relied on the designer having access to Bryant, which would necessarily restrict how and who on a community design team (which was just forming at the time) could create new sublogos for the project. They also rely on having a wide palette of colors distinguishable yet harmonious with the brand, without an understanding how many sublogos there might actually be, so scaleability was an issue. (I would guess we have hundreds. We have sublogos for different teams, different geographical groups, lots and lots o’ apps…)
This is what the Fedora Design Team ended up creating as a replacement for this design, which uses the free & open source font Comfortaa by Johan Aakerlund (who kindly licensed it under an open source license at our request):
Fedora sublogo design - uses the FLOSS font Comfortaa alongside Fedora logo elements.
Note that even the current sublogo design shown above was not the only one we’ve used – we originally had a sublogo design that used the free & open source font MgOpen Modata created by Magenta, and that was in use for around four years (example design that used it.) We fully / officially transitioned over to Comfortaa (first suggested by design team member Luya Tshimbalanga) back around 2010. MgOpen Modata did not have support for even basic acute marks which was problematic for our global community, because on the design team, we felt the shape of the letters better coordinated with the shapes of the Bryant lettering in the logo. (We had considered multiple other FLOSS fonts as you can see in our initial requirements document for the change.)

This has to be said: A soapbox

I just want to say that the fact the design-team and marketing mailing lists among others have been on mailman for so many years, and because we have Hyperkitty deployed in Fedora, researching all of the specific facts, dates, and circumstances around the history of the logo was quick, easy, and painless and resulted in my being able to link you up to primary source documents (and jog my own memory) above with little effort. I was able to search 15 years of history across all of our mailing lists with one quick query and find what I was looking for right away. I continue to be acutely and deeply concerned about the recent Balkanization of our communications within the Fedora project, but am grateful that Hyperkitty ensured, in this case, that important parts of our history have not been lost to time.

I hope this history of the Fedora logo demonstrates that our logo and brand over time have not been static, nor is the logo we use today the first logo the project ever had. Understandably, the notion of changing our logo can feel overwhelming, but it is not something new to us as a project.

The challenges

The Fedora logo today probably seems benign and unproblematic to most folks, but for those of us who work with it frequently (such as members of the Fedora Design Team), it has some rough edges we deal with frequently. I would classify those issues as technical / design issues. Let’s walk through them.

Technical Issues

It doesn’t work at all in a single color

The Fedora logomark necessarily requires two colors to render:

  • a color for the bubble background
  • a color for the ‘f’
  • a color for the infinity

This makes a single-color version of the logo impossible. (Note single color means one color, not shades of grey.) This has caused us a number of issues over the year, from printing swag with the full logo on it when the vendors only allow single color on particular items (in these cases, we use only the ‘fedora’ wordmark and have to drop the infinity bubblemark, or pay much more money for multiple color prints) to causing issues with our ability to be iconified in libraries of Linux and open source project logos.
This recently caused an issue when an attempted one-colorization of our logo (the infinity symbol was dropped, against our guidelines) was submitted to font-awesome without our permission; because the distribution of that icon library is so wide and I didn’t want the broken logo proliferating, I had to work over my Christmas holiday to come up with a one-color version of the logo as a stopgap because that library doesn’t have a way of removing a logo once submitted.

The solution above is problematic. I say this having created it. It’s a hack – it’s using diagonal hash marks to simulate a second color, which doesn’t scale well and can cause blurriness, glitching, and artifacts on screen display, and also particularly at small sizes won’t work for printing on swag items (the hatch lines are too fine for screen printing processes to reproduce reliably across vendors.) It’s truly a stopgap and not a long-term solution.

It doesn’t work well on a dark background, particularly blue ones

You’ve probably seen it – it’s unavoidable. I call it the logo glow. If you want to put the Fedora logo on a dark background – particularly a dark blue background! – to get enough contrast to have it stand out from the background, you have to add a white keyline or a white ‘glow’ to the back of the logo to create enough contrast that it doesn’t melt into the background.
This is against the logo usage guidelines, by the way. It adds an additional, non-standardized element to the logo and it changes the look and character of the logo.
If you do a simple search for “fedora wallpaper” on an image search engine, these are the sorts of results you’ll turn up, exemplifying the logo flow – I promise I didn’t search for “fedora glow”:

Part of the reason the logo has bad contrast with dark backgrounds is because the infinity bubble is necessarily a dark color. This is related to the fact the logo cannot be displayed in one color. If our logo had a symbol that could be one-color, then display on a dark background is a fairly trivial prospect – you can invert the color of the logo to a light color, like white, and the problem is solved. Since the design of our logo mark requires at least two separate colors in a very specific configuration (you can’t swap the background bubble for a light color and make the infinity color dark), we have this challenge.
I have also seen third parties invert the logo to try to deal with this issue – this is against the guidelines and looks terrible, but perhaps you’ve seen it in the wild, too. On duckduckgo.org image search, this was in the first few hits for “fedora logo” today (note it also uses the wrong, original proposal ‘f’ shape from November 2005):

Typically on the design team we’ve dealt with this using gradients in a clever way, whether inside the dark blue bubble of the logo itself, in the background, or a combination of the two. Here is an example – you can see how we positioned the logo relative to the lighter part of the gradient to ensure enough contrast:

While this solution is workable and we’ve used it many times, it still results in artwork (sometimes even official artwork) ending up with the glow. The problem comes up over and over and constrains the type of artwork we can do. Also note the gradient solution will not work for printed objects, making it difficult to print a good-looking Fedora logo on a dark-colored t-shirt or any blue-colored item. The gradient solution is also far less reliable in web-based treaments of the logo across platforms, where we cannot guarantee where exactly within a gradient the logomark may fall across screen sizes.

It’s hard to center the mark visually in designs


The ‘bubble’ at the back of the Fedora logomark is meant to be a stylized speech bubble, symbolizing the ‘voice of the community.’ Unfortunately, it’s also a lopsided shape that is deceptively difficult to center. Visualize it as a square – three of its four edges are rounded, so if you center it programatically using HTML/CSS or a creative tool like Inkscape, visually it just won’t be centered. You don’t have to take my word for it; here’s a demonstration:


The two rounded edges on the right in comparison to the straight edge on the left makes the programmatically centered version appear shifted slightly to the left; typically this requires manually nudging the logomark to the right a few pixels when trying to center it against anything. The reason this happens is because the programmatic center is calculated based on the exact distance between the rightmost point of the image and the leftmost point. The rounded right side of the image has only one point in the horizontal center of the shape that sticks out the most, where as the straighter left side has many more points at the left extreme used in this calculation.
This is an annoying problem to keep on top of.

The ‘superscript’ logo bubble position makes the entire logo hard to position

One of the things that is unique about our current logo design that also causes confusion is the placement of the bubble relative to the “fedora” text.
The final proposal of the Fedora logo from Nov 2005; lighter blue is darker, f's crossbar is much shorter
It’s almost like a superscript on the text itself. While the logotype (text alone) has a typical basic rectangular shape, the bubble throws it off, pushing both the upper extreme and the right extreme of the shape out and creating some oddly-shaped negative space:

It’s almost like the shape of a hooved animal, like a cow, with the logomark as the head. The imbalanced negative space gives the logo a bit of a fragility in appearance, as if it could be tipped over into that lower right negative space. It also makes the logo extremely difficult to center both vertically and horizontally. Similarly to how we compensate for this as shown in the demo above for the logomark, we have to manually tweak the position of the full logo by eye to center it relative to other items both vertically and horizontally.
This impacts the creation of any Fedora-affiliated logo, sublogo, or partnership involving multiple logos (such as a list of sponsor logos on a t-shirt or on a conference program.)
It means our logo cannot be properly centered in a programmatic way. While those of us on the Fedora Design Team and other teams within Fedora are aware of the issue and compensate for it naturally, those less familiar with our logo, like other projects we may be partnering with or vendors, or even any algorithmic working of our logo (in an app or on a website) is not going to be aware of it. Our logo is going to look sloppy in these scenarios where automatic centering is employed, and for those who catch the issue, it’s going to demand more time and care that should not be necessary to work with the logo.
The position of the logomark is also so atypical that it’s been assumed to be a mistake, and some third parties have tried modifying it to a more traditional position and proportion to the logotype to ‘fix’ it. Here is an example of this I found in the wild (again, from close to the top of hits received from a duckduckgo.com image search for ‘fedora logo’):

The ‘a’ in ‘fedora’ can look like an ‘o’

The final proposal of the Fedora logo from Nov 2005; lighter blue is darker, f's crossbar is much shorter

Bryant is a stylized font, and the ‘a’ in Fedora has on occasion been confused for an ‘o.’ It’s not a major call-the-fire-department type of issue, just one of those long simmering annoyances that adds to everything else.

Technical Issues Summary

Ok, so… that was a lot of problems to walk through. These aren’t all obvious on the surface, but if you work with the logo regularly as many Fedora Design team members do, these are familiar issues that probably have you nodding your head. The more ‘special treatment’ our logo requires to look good, the more hacks and crutches we need to create to help it look good, means the less chance it’ll be treated correctly by those who need to use it who have less experience with it. No single one of these issues is insurmountable, but together they do all add up.
On top of that, there are two more challenges we deal with around our current logo. Let’s talk about them.

Other Challenges

War of the f’s

The Fedora project was started in 2003 and the current version of our logo was developed in 2005. Facebook existed in 2005 (it was launched in 2004) in a limited capacity: it was nowhere near as ubiquitous and pervasive as it is today, and was restricted to only .edu accounts at select universities, starting with Ivy League colleges (accounts didn’t open up to the general public until 2006.)

I do not know when Facebook started using its white lowercase f on a blue square icon/logo, but based on Fedora ambassador reports, I am guessing it became pervasive around 2009/2010 when smartphone and tablet usage ramped up and the blue square f was likely used as its first smartphone/tablet icon.
Here’s a couple of long, early email threads where Fedora community members encountered confusion around the Fedora logo and the Facebook logo:

“A word about F…acebook” started by Sascha Thomas Spreitzer

Wednesday 5 May 2010, 17 comments 14 participants

  • “Yeah, I’ve had the same remark from lots of people when they see the Fedora logo on my tshirts.”
  • ” the blue sticker on the back of my suv has caused people to assume facebook too.”
  • “I’ve stopped wearing my Fedora baseball cap I bought from brandfuel stores because of a similar situation. I had 5 people within a time frame of only a couple hours ask me why I had a Facebook hat on. Sad times.”
  • “I used to carry a backpack with a Fedora sticker on it. Ended up pasting that sticker on my desktop after constant “Oh sweet, where’d you get that Facebook sticker” questions, so I know how you feel.”
“Feedback from Distrowatch” started by Rahul Sundaram

Tuesday 8 May 2012, 14 comments 14 participants

  • “What I found a bit amusing was that almost a third of the participants thought Fedora was some sort of Facebook plugin or application instead of a full operating system, due to the project’s logo.”
  • “Greetings Fedorans, this whole logo thing has been going on for a while. I use it to my advantage and as part of my Linux advocacy. I have a Fedora sticker in front of *acebook*.”

The confusion between the two logos has been a long-running annoyance. My own young daughters called the Fedora logo “Mama ‘f'” because of my Fedora stickers – but if they see Facebook open on a computer or phone, they do point at the logo and say, “Mama f” as if it’s the same thing!
While addressing the confusion between the two marks would likely not be a reasonable justification to change the logo, creating more differentiation between the two would be a helpful tweak that could be worked into a redesign.

Closed source font

For a very long time, I’ve personally been irked by the fact that a logo that in part represents software freedom, a logo that represents a community so dedicated to software freedom, is comprised of a wordmark with a closed, proprietary font. We have wanted to swap it out for a FLOSS font for a long time, and I’ve tried and failed to make that change happen in the past.
In historical context, it makes sense for a logo created in 2005 – even one for a FLOSS project – to make use of a closed font. In 2019, however, it makes less sense. There are large libraries of free and open source fonts out there now, including fontlibrary.org and google fonts, so the excuse of there not being enough high-quality, openly-licensed fonts available just no longer stands.
A logo is a symbol, and a logo using an open source font would better represent who we are and what we do symbolically.

Where we are now

“All right,” you must be thinking. “That’s a hell of a lot of problems. How can we possibly fix them?”
About three months ago, I had a conversation with our project leader Matthew Miller about these issues. He is familiar with all of them and thought maybe we should see if the Fedora Council and if our community would be open to a change. He kicked things off with a thread on the fedora-council list:
“Considering a logo refresh” started by Matthew Miller on 4 October 2018
From there, we agreed that since the initial reception to the idea wasn’t awful, he opened up a formal design team ticket and myself and the rest of the design team started working on some ideas. As we just wanted to address the issues identified and not make a big change for changes sake, I started off by trying the very lightest touches I could think of:

With these touches, you can see direct correlations with the issues we’ve walked through:

  1. The current logo
  2. Normalize mark placement – this relates to “The ‘superscript’ logo bubble position makes the entire logo hard to position” above
  3. Brighten colors – this helps differentiate from Facebook’s blue
  4. Open source font & Balance Bubble – the font change relates to “Closed source font” above, and balancing the bubble relates to “It’s hard to center the mark visually in designs” above
  5. Match bubble ‘f’ to logotype – another attempt to differentiate from the shape of the “f” in Facebook’s mark
  6. Attempt to make single color – failed, but tried to address “It doesn’t work at all in a single color” above
  7. Drop bubble – relates to both single color and imbalance of the bubble mark
  8. Drop infinity – another attempt to make one-color
  9. Another attempt at one-color compatible mark

We started working on infinity and f only designs to try to get away from using the bubble so we could have a one-color friendly logo. In order to give a bit more balance to this type of infinity-only mark, we tried things like changing the relative sizes of the curves of the infinity:

We tried playing with perspective:

And we tried all different types of creating a “Fedora-like” f:

These were all explorations in trying to tweak the logo we already had to minimize change.
We also had a series of work done on trying to come up with an new, alternative f mark that was less problematic but still looked ‘Fedora-ish’:

I invite you to go through Design Ticket #620 which is where all of this work happened, and you can see how this work unfolded in detail, with the back and forth between designers and community members and active brainstorming. This process took place pretty much entirely within the pagure ticket, so everything is there.

The Proposals

we need your help!
Eventually, as all great design brainstorming processes go, you have to pick a direction, refine it, and make a final decision. We need your help in picking a direction. Here are two logo candidates representing two different directions we could go in for a Fedora logo redesign:

  • Do you have a preference?
  • How do you feel about these?
  • What would you change?
  • Do you think each solves the issues we outlined?
  • Is one a better solution than the other?

The most useful feedback is stated as a problem, not a solution. E.g., if you suggest changing an element, to understand your perspective it’s helpful to know why you seek to change that element. Also note that while “I don’t like X” or “I like Y” is a perfectly valid reaction, it’s not particularly helpful unless you can dig in a little deeper and share with us why you feel that way, what specific technical details of the logo (shape, contrast, color, clarity, connotation, meaning, similarity to something else, etc.) you think triggered the feeling.

Please also note this is not a vote. We would love your feedback in order to iterate and push the designs forward. If this was a vote or poll, we’d set one up using the proper software. We want feedback on why you like, don’t like, or otherwise react to what you see here. We are not going to tally “votes” here and make a decision based on that. Here is an example of a very productive and helpful set of feedback that resulted in a healthy back and forth with a new direction for the designs. Providing feedback on specific components of the logo is great brain food for making it better!

Candidate #1

This design has a flaw in that it still includes a bubble mark, which comes with all of the alignment headaches we’ve talked about. However, its position relative to the logotype is changed to a more typical layout (mark on the left, a bit larger than it is now) and this design allows for the mark to be used without the bubble (“mark sans bubble”) in certain applications. Both variants of the mark are one-color capable.
The font is a modified version of Comfortaa that is hand-kerned and has a modified ‘a’ to lessen consfusion with ‘o’.
As the main goal here was really a light touch to address the issues we have, you can see that items like the Fedora remix logo and sublogos are only lightly affected: the ‘remix’ logo text is changed to Comfortaa, and the ‘fedora’ logotext in all sublogos is updated.
You can see in the sample web treatment, you can make some neat designs by clipping this mark on top of a photo, as is done under “Headline Example” with the latest Fedora wallpaper graphic.
This candidate I believe represents the least amount of change that addresses most of the issues we identified.

Candidate #2

As with candidate #1, the font is a modified version of Comfortaa that is hand-kerned and has a modified ‘a’ to lessen consfusion with ‘o’.
The mark has changed the ratio of sizes between the two loops of the infinity, and has completely dropped the bubble in the main version of the logo. However, as an alternative possibility, we could offer in the logo guidelines the ability to apply this mark on top of different shapes.
As with candidate #1, the main goal here was really a light touch to address the issues we have, you can see that items like the Fedora remix logo and sublogos are only lightly affected: the ‘remix’ logo text is changed to Comfortaa, and the ‘fedora’ logotext in all sublogos is updated.
This logo candidate is more of a departure from our current logo than candidate #1. However, it is a bit closer in design to the various icons we have for the Fedora editions (server, atomic, workstation) as it’s a mark that does not rely on contrast with another shape, it’s free form and stands on its own without a background.

We would love to hear your constructive and respectful feedback on these design options, either here in the blog comment or on the design team ticket. Thanks for reading this far!

Running ROCm on AMD Raven Ridge Mobile

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on December 29, 2018 08:15 PM
The HP Envy x360 Convertible powered with Ryzen 2500U turned out an impressive laptop for Fedora 29 despite some issues like lack of accelerometer driver for Linux kernel and some ACPI related problems seemly affecting majority of HP laptops.

AMD recently released ROCm 2.0 enabling the support of Raven Ridge Mobile for the first time. The installation has to be clean (remove beignet and pocl)  and requires additional dependency not found on Fedora repository, pth located on COPR. Once completed and rebooted, rocminfo should runs as follow:

/opt/rocm/bin/rocminfo 
=====================    
HSA System Attributes    
=====================    
Runtime Version:         1.1
System Timestamp Freq.:  1000.000000MHz
Sig. Max Wait Duration:  18446744073709551615 (number of timestamp)
Machine Model:           LARGE                              
System Endianness:       LITTLE                             

==========               
HSA Agents               
==========               
*******                  
Agent 1                  
*******                  
  Name:                    AMD Ryzen 5 2500U with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx
  Vendor Name:             CPU                                
  Feature:                 None specified                     
  Profile:                 FULL_PROFILE                       
  Float Round Mode:        NEAR                               
  Max Queue Number:        0                                  
  Queue Min Size:          0                                  
  Queue Max Size:          0                                  
  Queue Type:              MULTI                              
  Node:                    0                                  
  Device Type:             CPU                                
  Cache Info:              
    L1:                      32KB                               
  Chip ID:                 5597                               
  Cacheline Size:          64                                 
  Max Clock Frequency (MHz):2000                               
  BDFID:                   768                                
  Compute Unit:            8                                  
  Features:                None
  Pool Info:               
    Pool 1                   
      Segment:                 GLOBAL; FLAGS: KERNARG, FINE GRAINED
      Size:                    16776832KB                         
      Allocatable:             TRUE                               
      Alloc Granule:           4KB                                
      Alloc Alignment:         4KB                                
      Acessible by all:        TRUE                               
  ISA Info:                
    N/A                      
*******                  
Agent 2                  
*******                  
  Name:                    gfx902                             
  Vendor Name:             AMD                                
  Feature:                 KERNEL_DISPATCH                    
  Profile:                 FULL_PROFILE                       
  Float Round Mode:        NEAR                               
  Max Queue Number:        128                                
  Queue Min Size:          4096                               
  Queue Max Size:          131072                             
  Queue Type:              MULTI                              
  Node:                    0                                  
  Device Type:             GPU                                
  Cache Info:              
    L1:                      16KB                               
  Chip ID:                 5597                               
  Cacheline Size:          64                                 
  Max Clock Frequency (MHz):1100                               
  BDFID:                   768                                
  Compute Unit:            11                                 
  Features:                KERNEL_DISPATCH 
  Fast F16 Operation:      FALSE                              
  Wavefront Size:          64                                 
  Workgroup Max Size:      1024                               
  Workgroup Max Size Per Dimension:
    Dim[0]:                  67109888                           
    Dim[1]:                  50332672                           
    Dim[2]:                  0                                  
  Grid Max Size:           4294967295                         
  Waves Per CU:            160                                
  Max Work-item Per CU:    10240                              
  Grid Max Size per Dimension:
    Dim[0]:                  4294967295                         
    Dim[1]:                  4294967295                         
    Dim[2]:                  4294967295                         
  Max number Of fbarriers Per Workgroup:32                                 
  Pool Info:               
    Pool 1                   
      Segment:                 GROUP                              
      Size:                    64KB                               
      Allocatable:             FALSE                              
      Alloc Granule:           0KB                                
      Alloc Alignment:         0KB                                
      Acessible by all:        FALSE                              
  ISA Info:                
    ISA 1                    
      Name:                    amdgcn-amd-amdhsa--gfx902+xnack    
      Machine Models:          HSA_MACHINE_MODEL_LARGE            
      Profiles:                HSA_PROFILE_BASE                   
      Default Rounding Mode:   NEAR                               
      Default Rounding Mode:   NEAR                               
      Fast f16:                TRUE                               
      Workgroup Max Dimension: 
        Dim[0]:                  67109888                           
        Dim[1]:                  1024                               
        Dim[2]:                  16777217                           
      Workgroup Max Size:      1024                               
      Grid Max Dimension:      
        x                        4294967295                         
        y                        4294967295                         
        z                        4294967295                         
      Grid Max Size:           4294967295                         
      FBarrier Max Size:       32                                 
*** Done ***

Interesting attention is the number of compute units for Vega8 (gfx902): 11 instead of 8 suggesting that Vega8 is nothing more than a cut-down Vega11.

ROCm OpenCL is also installed as seen below

/opt/rocm/opencl/bin/x86_64/clinfo 
Number of platforms:                 1
  Platform Profile:                 FULL_PROFILE
  Platform Version:                 OpenCL 2.1 AMD-APP (2783.0)
  Platform Name:                 AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing
  Platform Vendor:                 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
  Platform Extensions:                 cl_khr_icd cl_amd_event_callback cl_amd_offline_devices 


  Platform Name:                 AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing
Number of devices:                 1
  Device Type:                     CL_DEVICE_TYPE_GPU
  Vendor ID:                     1002h
  Board name:                     AMD Ryzen 5 2500U with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx
  Device Topology:                 PCI[ B#3, D#0, F#0 ]
  Max compute units:                 11
  Max work items dimensions:             3
    Max work items[0]:                 1024
    Max work items[1]:                 1024
    Max work items[2]:                 1024
  Max work group size:                 256
  Preferred vector width char:             4
  Preferred vector width short:             2
  Preferred vector width int:             1
  Preferred vector width long:             1
  Preferred vector width float:             1
  Preferred vector width double:         1
  Native vector width char:             4
  Native vector width short:             2
  Native vector width int:             1
  Native vector width long:             1
  Native vector width float:             1
  Native vector width double:             1
  Max clock frequency:                 1100Mhz
  Address bits:                     64
  Max memory allocation:             6256727654
  Image support:                 Yes
  Max number of images read arguments:         128
  Max number of images write arguments:         8
  Max image 2D width:                 16384
  Max image 2D height:                 16384
  Max image 3D width:                 2048
  Max image 3D height:                 2048
  Max image 3D depth:                 2048
  Max samplers within kernel:             5597
  Max size of kernel argument:             1024
  Alignment (bits) of base address:         1024
  Minimum alignment (bytes) for any datatype:     128
  Single precision floating point capability
    Denorms:                     Yes
    Quiet NaNs:                     Yes
    Round to nearest even:             Yes
    Round to zero:                 Yes
    Round to +ve and infinity:             Yes
    IEEE754-2008 fused multiply-add:         Yes
  Cache type:                     Read/Write
  Cache line size:                 64
  Cache size:                     16384
  Global memory size:                 7360856064
  Constant buffer size:                 6256727654
  Max number of constant args:             8
  Local memory type:                 Scratchpad
  Local memory size:                 65536
  Max pipe arguments:                 16
  Max pipe active reservations:             16
  Max pipe packet size:                 1961760358
  Max global variable size:             6256727654
  Max global variable preferred total size:     7360856064
  Max read/write image args:             64
  Max on device events:                 1024
  Queue on device max size:             8388608
  Max on device queues:                 1
  Queue on device preferred size:         262144
  SVM capabilities:                 
    Coarse grain buffer:             Yes
    Fine grain buffer:                 Yes
    Fine grain system:                 Yes
    Atomics:                     No
  Preferred platform atomic alignment:         0
  Preferred global atomic alignment:         0
  Preferred local atomic alignment:         0
  Kernel Preferred work group size multiple:     64
  Error correction support:             0
  Unified memory for Host and Device:         1
  Profiling timer resolution:             1
  Device endianess:                 Little
  Available:                     Yes
  Compiler available:                 Yes
  Execution capabilities:                 
    Execute OpenCL kernels:             Yes
    Execute native function:             No
  Queue on Host properties:                 
    Out-of-Order:                 No
    Profiling :                     Yes
  Queue on Device properties:                 
    Out-of-Order:                 Yes
    Profiling :                     Yes
  Platform ID:                     0x7f3b9d3b9ed0
  Name:                         gfx902-xnack
  Vendor:                     Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
  Device OpenCL C version:             OpenCL C 2.0 
  Driver version:                 2783.0 (HSA1.1,LC)
  Profile:                     FULL_PROFILE
  Version:                     OpenCL 1.2 
  Extensions:                     cl_khr_fp64 cl_khr_global_int32_base_atomics cl_khr_global_int32_extended_atomics cl_khr_local_int32_base_atomics cl_khr_local_int32_extended_atomics cl_khr_int64_base_atomics cl_khr_int64_extended_atomics cl_khr_3d_image_writes cl_khr_byte_addressable_store cl_khr_fp16 cl_khr_gl_sharing cl_amd_device_attribute_query cl_amd_media_ops cl_amd_media_ops2 cl_khr_subgroups cl_khr_depth_images cl_amd_copy_buffer_p2p cl_amd_assembly_program 

Notice again the number of compute units.

In term of applications, Blender will detect and use ROCm OpenCL. Unfortunately, the use of GPU Compute is very slow for rendering. Darktable, Gimp and Libre Office are able to use it as well.


Improving HP Envy x360 convertible on Linux: the missing accelerometer driver

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on December 19, 2018 06:37 AM
If you own an HP laptop equipped with AMD processor, you may find out the auto-rotation will not work as intended. It turned out that sensor is missing a driver not currently available on Linux kernel using the lspci -nn command from the terminal

03:00.7 Non-VGA unclassified device [0000]: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] Device [1022:15e4]
 
 
That driver in question is AMD Sensor Fusion HUB. Unfortunately, researching it turned out harder even on AMD own website. Bug is already filed without answer yet from one of AMD representative.

How Fedora’s Wallpaper Are Made

Posted by Sirko Kemter on December 07, 2018 05:47 AM

I am now member of the Design Team more then 10 years and had my hands in, in many off the fedora wallpaper. Over the years the Design Team developed a way to be creative and come up with a unique design for each release. This way was build around the release names, yes it became harder, how funnier the release names became. For Fedora 20 aka Heisenbug, there was no idea how this name could be represented. So this wallpaper was build with the number of the release 20 and his latin representation XX. Then the council disabled the code names, what put the Design Team into a little crisis, we tried to work furthermore with the numbers but except for Fedora 24 (which represents 24 hours of a day) not work. So a solution was needed.
Since Fedora 25 I running a small voting among the Design Team, giving a few names of inventors/discoverer. This is not the same as code names, as we use it only as an creative starting point. Nevertheless there are always people outside the team taking the vote (and they vote mostly just because they find the name cool and have no eye what can be done with)

 

Archimedes

Archimedes, Al-Battani and Armstrong been the choices for this version, and Archimedes won very clear. And so the wallpaper bases on a design of an archimedian spiral, maybe you can see it now.

 

Alexander Graham Bell

For Fedora 26 Charles Babagge, George Beauchamp and Alexander Graham Bell as inventor of the telephone been the choices and Bell won the voting. But how do you come from telephone to a line of trees? Take a closer look, the line of trees is nothing else as a waveform of a spoken word, here Fedora. Isnt that genius?

 

Jaques Cousteau

Jaques Cousteau came out as the favorite for Fedora 27, the other choices been Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot and Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomey. And so the beautiful jellyfish design was created.

 

Emily C. Duncan

For Fedora 28, Mo requested the change one of the person shall be a woman (thats a bit problematic as there are lesser woman inventors outside. Since then we have 4 options to choose from. Giovanni de Dondi, Arvid Gerhard Damm, Georges Darrieus and Emily C. Duncan. Emily C. Duncan did win, the concept of the artwork bases of “information travelling down/up wires”.

 

Gertrude B. Elion

As I was not available for wrangling the Fedora 29 inspiration, Mo suggusted relative late to go with Gertrude B. Elion and so the wallpaper was made on a concept of hexagons representing cells.

 

Augustin-Jean Fresnel

For the upcoming Fedora version 30, we held the voting and there been Federico Faggin, Rosalind Franklin, Sandford Fleming and Augustin-Jean Fresnel the options. The team decided to go with Fresnel, so you can be curious with what we come up.

Some closing words, as I said before there are always people who read the mail on the list and vote, even they are not member of the team. That would be fine, but there is one thing, they always vote because they find the invention cool or the name but this doesnt help the Design Team. This is a two-sided thing I have spoken about this a while ago with Mo, the people have interest to “contribute” into such a voting but as said, its not helpful in this way for the team itself. I have an idea how to solve this problem, maybe there is room to hack the needed thing together during next GSoC.

Fedora Design Team Meeting, 4 Nollaig 2018

Posted by Máirín Duffy on December 04, 2018 08:37 PM

Fedora Design Team Logo

Today we had a Fedora Design Team meeting. Here’s what went down (meetbot link).

Freenode<>Matrix.org Issues

Tango Internet Group Chat, CC0 from openclipart.ogr

About half of the team members who participated today used matrix.org (e.g. the riot.im client). Unfortunately, we noticed an issue with bridging between these two networks today – both sides could see IRC comments, but matrix.org comments weren’t getting sent to IRC. ctmartin recognized the issue from another Fedora channel and figured out that if we added +v to the channel members using matrix, that would fix the issue. I am not sure if this is All Fixed Now or is going to be an ongoing Thing. But that is why our meeting started late today.

If anybody has ideas on how to resolve this in a permanent way, I would very much appreciate your advice!

Fedora 30 Artwork

CC BY-SA 3.0, wikimedia commons "A Fresnel lens exhibited in the Musée national de la Marine"

For 5 Fedora releases now, the design team has been using a famous scientist / mathematician / technologist as the inspiration for the release artwork. We do this based on an alphabetical system; Fedora 30 is slated to be a person whose names begins with an “F.” Gnokii manages this process, and already set up and tallied the results for the design team-specific vote on which we chose from the following:

  • Federico Faggin (microprocessor)
  • Rosalin Franklin (DNA helix)
  • Sandford Fleming (Universal Standard Time)
  • Augustin-Jean Fresnel (fresnel lens)

As gnokii announced on our team mailing list, the inspiration for the Fedora 30 artwork will be Augustin-Jean Fresnel. He also gathered the following set of inspirational images, which all revolve around the design of the Fresnel lens, which we talked about in the meeting would be a good central focus / concept for the artwork, whether it’s a depiction of a lens itself or some form of study of the diffraction pattern (and “thin-film” rainbow effect”) that inspired its invention:

The action item we got out of this discussion is that we need to meet separately, a remote hackfest if you will, to work on the F30 artwork (as we typically do each release.) This will take place in #fedora-design on IRC (or Fedora Design on matrix.org.) If you are interested in participating, here is the whenisgood.net to organize a time for this event:

http://whenisgood.net/79qzs5s

Exploring a Fedora logo refresh

For the past few weeks we have been working with mattdm on exploring what a refresh of the Fedora logo might look like. This work has been ongoing in design ticket #620. There’s a few issues such a thing would aim to address – if you’ve ever worked with the current Fedora logo yourself, these should be pretty familiar (copy-pasta-ed from the ticket):

  • It doesn’t work well at small sizes
  • It doesn’t work at all in a single color
  • It’s hard to work with on a dark background
  • The “voice” bubble means it’s hard to center visually in designs
  • The Fedora wordmark is based on a non-open-source font
  • The “a” in the wordmark is easily mistaken for an o
  • The horizontal wordmark + logo with the “floated” trailing logo is challenging to work with
  • It gets confused with the Facebook logo

The general approach here is a light touch, and not an overhaul. Below are some of the leading concepts / experiments thus far:

The next step here that we discussed is for each concept, to create something like “style tiles” for each so we can better understand how each would play in context – how would it look like with our fonts, color palette, and what design elements would go with it. That process may surface some issues in the design of each which we’ll need to address.

After that, we’ll open up to broad community input – maybe a formal survey and/or maybe some mini IRC or video chat focus group sessions and see how folks feel about it, gather feedback, see which concept the broader community prefers and see if there are tweaks / adjustments we can make to iterate it based on the feedback we receive.

This is something we’ll continue to work on for the next few months. If you have feedback on the assets so far, please feel free to leave it in the comments here, but be nice please 🙂 and note this is still early stages.

Are you new to Fedora Design? Would you like to join?

This little ticket popped up in our triage during the meeting today, and is a good one for you to grab. It has a LibreOffice template you can use, or simply draw from for inspiration. Note the base font should be Overpass (free font, downloadable at overpassfont.org):

If that’s not your speed, we have a couple of other newbie tickets in our queue, check them out and feel free to grab one that piques your interest!

Fedora Podcast Website Design

terezahl, the Fedora Design team intern, has been working on a website design for the Fedora Podcast that x3mboy has created. She showed us a snapshot of her work-in-progress, and we gave her some feedback. Overall, it looks great, and we’re excited to see where it goes 🙂

That’s it folks!

If you are interested in participating in the Fedora 30 Artwork IRC Hackfest, please vote for a timeslot here, ASAP 🙂

http://whenisgood.net/79qzs5s

Enable stylus settings on HP Envy x360 Convertible

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 26, 2018 06:14 AM
Thanks to the tips from Peter Hutterer, the author of libinput and libwacom, enabling the configuration of the stylus for the HP Envy x360 Convertible is very simple. Create a table file i.e. elan-264c.tablet in this example using this template and look at the dmesg output like:

[    3.014612] input: ELAN0732:00 04F3:264C Pen as /devices/platform/AMDI0010:00/i2c-0/i2c-ELAN0732:00/0018:04F3:264C.0001/input/input15


 Now the name is found as an ELAN device, include the following information

# ELAN touchscreen/pen sensor present in the HP Envy x360 Convertible 15-cp0XXX 

[Device] 
Name=ELAN 264C 
DeviceMatch=i2c:04f3:264c 
Class=ISDV4 
Width=14 
Height=8 
IntegratedIn=Display;System 

[Features] 
Stylus=true 
Touch=true 
Buttons=0

Copy the new created file to /usr/share/libwacom/ path. Gnome Shell will automatically detect the new tablet file and display the new information. Below is the result:

Stylus configuration

Tablet information with calibration and display adjustement


Testing the stylus input


I pulled the new file to upstream who immediately accepted it. For user owning an HP touchscreen devices, expect your distribution to provide the updated linuxwacom package.

Since owning that 2-in-1 laptop, with the help of upstream, we have resolved the touchscreen issue and now the configuration of the stylus. Next challenge will be the Windows Hello like authentication currently available in the COPR repository for testing and contacting both upstream and GNOME team.

Touchscreen and stylus now working on HP Envy x360

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 25, 2018 07:27 AM
The Fedora version on kernel 4.19.3 includes a patch allowing both stylus and touchscreen to properly run on AMD processor based HP touchscreen thanks to the combined effort from Hans, Lukas and Marc for finding the root cause and testing the fix.

A few scary moment on HP Envy x360 15-cp0xxx Ryzen 2500U was a conflicting IRQ handling due to possibly booting on Windows 10 used to get all feature parity to Linx counterpart i.e. Fedora 29 in this case. Fortunately, power off somewhat did the trick. Since then, both stylus and touchscreen run without a hitch.

A minor issue was the Gnome Settings does not display information of both devices due to the missing data from Elan driver thus meaning no configuration possible like assigning buttons and no possible way to test touchscreen. Additionally, Gnome Shell assumed the battery still at 1% capacity and the bug is filed for that reason.

Detected Stylus displayed with incorrect battery status

Nevertheless, the stylus with some configurating runs smooth on applications like Gimp and Inkscape. For the touchscreen, Firefox for Linux lack proper onscreen keyboard. That will be continued...

Detailing the installation of AMD OpenCL rpm for Fedora

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 20, 2018 05:16 AM
Revisiting the previous blog and freshly reinstalling Fedora Design Suite due to a busted boot, I look at the official guideline from AMD Driver for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 and write a way to improve the process of installing on Fedora 29 in this example.



Extracting the tarball contains the following:
  • amdgpu-install
  • amdgpu-pro-install symlink to amdgpu
  • doc folder
  • repodata folder
  • RPMS folder containing rpm package

Executing the command ./amdgpu-install -opencl=pal --headless sadly failed on Fedora on that line:

./amdgpu-install -y --opencl=pal --headless
Last metadata expiration check: 0:30:51 ago on Mon 19 Nov 2018 07:13:43 PM PST.
No match for argument: amdgpu


Upon closer look, the script failed to created a temporary repository on /var/opt/amdgpu-pro-local probably explaining why amdgpu metapackage name failed to display. Someone should investigate and provide a fix. At least, we find out Fedora support is available but unofficial.

Due to its design, Gnome Software only allows one click package per installation, not by selection, so terminal remains the logical option.

Learning the new version on AMD Radeon 18.40 driver no longer needs dkms for installing OpenCL, the process is much easier without requiring kernel-devel package. The following dependencies are now:
  • amdgpu-core (core metapackage)
  • amdgpu-pro-core (metapackage of amdgpu-pro)
  • clinfo-amdgpu-pro
  • libopencl-amdgpu-pro
  • opencl-amdgpu-pro-icd
Installing amdgpu-core alone causes dnf to complain about support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 due the script extracted from rpmrebuild -p -e command:

if [ $(rpm --eval 0%%{?rhel}) != "07" ] ; then
        >&2 echo "ERROR: This package can only be installed on EL7."
        exit 1
fi


Selecting all above dependencies overrides it and completes the installation despite a failure of a scriptlet from amdgpu-core.  OpenCL now available will be automatically detected by applications like Blender, Darktable,LibreOffice and Gimp.

We learned it is possible to install AMD version of OpenCL on Fedora. We also learn it is possible to retrace the spec file using rpmrebuild -e -p command. Additionally, we also find out  the open source amdpgu and the pro version can coexist.

 All test done on HP Envy x360 Ryzen 2500U with integrated Vega8 using Vega56 driver for CentOS 7.5 from the official AMD website.


Using AMD RX Vega driver OpenCL on Fedora 29

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 14, 2018 05:18 AM

The Raven Ridge APU is very capable processor to handle OpenCL inside some applications like Blender, Darktable and Gimp. Unfortunately, the current implementation from Mesa, clover, stuck to 1.3, is not supported. AMD released their driver 18.40 with OpenCL2.0+ targeting only Red Hat Enterprise Linux/Cent OS 6.10 and 7.5 in addition of Ubuntu LTS. The good new is the former rpm format can be used on Fedora.

The graphical part of Raven Ridge is Vega 8, basically a cut-down of Vega56 or Vega64 meaning choosing either driver for RX Vega.
The instruction is provided for extracting the rpm files but here is
 some requirements for OpenCL:
  • kernel-devel (provided by Fedora repository)
  • amdgpu-dkms
  • dkms
  • libopencl-amdgpu-pro
  • opencl-amdgpu-pro-icd
Once done, applications needing OpenCL will automatically detect the driver located on /opt/amdgpu/lib64. Blender will list as unknown AMD GPU and Darktable will enable it.

OpenCL from official AMD driver enabled on Darktable

Raven Ridge Vega8 listed as unknown AMD GPU detected

There is a ROCm version but it currently does not support the graphical side of Raven Ridge at this time. It will be great that someone will finally write a srpm for Fedora.

HP Envy x360 Convertible Ryzen 2500u update

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 09, 2018 02:39 AM
Nearly one month later, HP Envy x360 Convertible 15  powered by Ryzen 2500U is running smoother on kernel 4.19.0 with someissues:
  • The LED for the mute button failed to work suggesting a possible ACPI issue.
  • An unfortunate oversight from HP for not including a led for Num Lock button. 
  • The touchscreen function failed due to ACPI bug related to a mis-configuration of tables. Sadly, it affects all HP Envy touchscreen series equipped with AMD processors. Workaround made by an Arch user exists and no upstream Linux maintainers has picked up yet for clean up and improvment. The side effect would be an unfortunate false impression HP touchscreen with AMD processors is horrible.
  • The gyroscope needed to automatically rotate the screen depending of the position is broken possibly due to ACPI bug.

On the positive side, I was impressed by the modular adaptability  of HP Envy x360 upgrade wise thanks to the excellent HP documentation. The board can be replaced with the powerful version of Ryzen 7 APU. Adding memory turned out very easy once the procedure is fully followed.  Currently the upgrade has 16 GB RAM and a SSD 1TB storage drastically improving the overall performance. Granted the hardware is not mean for heavy 3D gaming but is powerful enough for visual editing and some 3D rendering.

The hardware overall is very capable 2-in-1 Linux machine once issues are ironed out hopefully as soon as possible. The users as community provided a suggestion, the ball is on the upstream maintainers/vendors themselves improving the solution so testers can verify.

Well, if nothing else, I’m having some trouble figuring out where to start.

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 06, 2018 06:37 PM

Well, if nothing else, I’m having some trouble figuring out where to start.

I was originally hoping to use whatever the current styles and design patterns were to start the process, but it seems like they aren’t actually consistent or easy to find enough for this to be useful.

I’m also working on meeting with people who are likely to have the strongest opinions so that we can develop a brand style and business goals, as these seem like they would inform the design system.

Thanks!

In general, I recommend a few things:

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 02, 2018 07:01 PM

In general, I recommend a few things:

See if there are any open source places that are looking for UX help. I’m currently volunteering with GitLab, for example. There are also things like Code For Boston — where are you located? Code for Boston, at least, is very much a thing you want to be able to attend weekly meetings for.

If you are willing to do both research and design of the non-visual sort (eg making mockups and prototypes), you may be able to find a friend who needs your help on a crazy idea they have.

Finally, check if you have any local UX groups — they may have useful ideas that are relevant to wherever you are. If you don’t, maybe try contacting your local governmental businesses and things like libraries about helping with their site.

Intro to UX design for the ChRIS Project – Part 1

Posted by Máirín Duffy on November 02, 2018 05:45 PM

(This blog post is part of a series; view the full series page here.)

What is ChRIS?

Something I’ve been working on for a while now at Red Hat is a project we’re collaborating on with Boston Children’s Hospital, the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC), and Boston University. It’s called the ChRIS Research Integration Service or just “ChRIS”.
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Rudolph Pienaar (Boston Children’s), Ata Turk (MOC), and Dan McPherson (Red Hat) gave a pretty detailed talk about ChRIS at the Red Hat Summit this past summer. A video of the full presentation is available, and it’s a great overview of why ChRIS is an important project, what it does, and how it works. To summarize the plot: ChRIS is an open source project that provides a cloud-based computing platform for the processing and sharing of medical imaging within and across hospitals and other sites.

There’s a number of problems ChRIS seeks to solve that I’m pretty passionate about:

  • Using technology in new ways for good.Where would we all be if we could divert just a little bit of the resources we in the tech community collectively put towards analyzing the habits of humans and delivering advertising content to them? ChRIS applies cloud computing, container, and big data analysis towards good – helping researchers better understand medical conditions!
  • Making open source and free software technology usable and accessible to a larger population of users.A goal of ChRIS is to make accessible new tools that can be used in image processing but require a high level of technical expertise to even get up and running. ChRIS has a plugin system is container-based, providing a standardized way of running a diverse array of image processing applications. Creating a ChRIS plugin involves containerizing these tools and making them available via the ChRIS platform. (Resources on how to create a ChRIS plugin are available here.)We are working on a “ChRIS Store” web application to allow plugin developers to share their ready-to-go ChRIS plugins with ChRIS users so they can find and use these tools easily.
  • Giving users control of their data.One of the driving reasons for ChRIS’ creation was to allow for hospitals to own and control their own data without needing to give it up to the industry. How do you apply the latest cloud-based rapid data processing technology without giving your data to one of the big cloud companies? ChRIS has been built to interface with cloud providers such as the Massachusetts Open Cloud that have consortium-based data governance that allow for users to control their own data.

I want to emphasize the cloud-based computing piece here because it’s important – ChRIS allows you run image processing tools at scale in the cloud, so elaborate image processing that typically days, weeks, or months to complete could be completed in minutes. For a patient, this could enable a huge positive shift in their care  – rather than have to wait for days to get back results of an imaging procedure (like an MRI), they could be consulted by their doctor and make decisions about their care that day. The ChRIS project is working with developers who build image processing tools and helps them modify them and package them so they be parallelized to run across multiple computing nodes in order to gain those incredible speed increases. ChRIS as deployed today makes use of the Massachusetts Open Cloud for its compute resources; it’s a great resource, at a scale that many image processing developers previously never had access to.

ChRIS UX

A diagram showing a data source at left with images in it. The images move right into a ChRIS block, from where they are passed further right into compute environments on the right. Within the compute environment block at the right, there are individual compute nodes, each taking an input image passed from ChRIS, pushing it through a plugin from the ChRIS store, and creating an output. The outputs are pushed back to ChRIS. On top of ChRIS are several sibling blocks - the ChRIS UI (red), the Radiology Viewer (yellow), and a '...' block (blue) to represent other front ends that could run on top.

I have some – but little experience – with OpenShift as a user, and no experience with OpenStack or in image processing development. UX design, though – that I can do. I approached Dan McPherson to see if there was any way I could help with the ChRIS project on the UX front, and as it turned out, yes!

In fact, there are a lot of interesting UX problems around ChRIS, some I am sure analogous to other platforms / systems, but some are maybe a bit more unique! Let’s break down the human interface components of ChRIS, represented by the red, yellow, and blue components on the top of the following diagram:

The diagram above is a bit of a remix of the diagram Rudolph walks through at this point in the presentation; basically what I have added here are the UI / front end components on the top. Must-see, though, is the demo Rudolph gave that showed both of these user interfaces (radiology viewer and the ChRIS UI) in action:

<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" data-mce-fragment="1" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/p1Y9wlPSgt4?rel=0&amp;start=1954" width="560"></iframe>

During the demo you’ll see some back and forth between two different UIs. We’ll start by talking about the radiology viewer.

Radiology Viewer (and, what do we mean by images?)

Today, let’s talk about the radiology viewer (I’ll call it “Rav”) first. It’s the yellow component in the diagram above. Rav is a front end that can be run on top of ChRIS that allows you to explore medical images, in particular MRIs. You can check out a live version of the viewer that does not include the library component here: http://fnndsc.childrens.harvard.edu/rev/viewer/library-anon/

Through walking through the UX considerations of this kind of tool, we’ll also talk about some properties of the type of images ChRIS is meant to work with. This will help, I hope, to demonstrate the broader problem space of providing a user experience around medical imaging data.

Rav might be used by a researcher to explore MRI images. There’s a two main tasks they’ll do using this interface: locating the images they want to work with, then viewing and manipulating those images.

User tasks: Locate images to work with

A PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) server is what a lot of medical institutions use to store medical imaging data. It’s basically the ‘data source’ in the diagram at the top of this post. End users may need to go retrieve images they’d like to work with in rav from a PACS server – this involves using some metadata about the image(s), such as record number, date, etc. to find the image then adding them to a selection of images to work with. The PACS server itself needs to be configured as well (but hopefully that’ll be set up for users by an admin.)

A thing to note about a PACS server is you can assume it has a substantial number of images on it, so this image-finding / filtering-by-metadata first step is important so users don’t have to sift through a mountain of irrelevant data. The other thing to note – PACS is a type of storage, which based on implementation may suffer from some of the UX issues inherent in storage.

Below is a rough mockup showing how this interface might look. Note the interface has been split into two main tabs in this mockup – “Library” and “Explore.” The “Library” tab here is devoted to the location of images for building a selection to work with.

User Task: View and configure selected images

Once you have a set of images to work with, you need to actually examine them. To work with them, though, you have to understand what you’re looking at. First of all, one thing that can be hard to remember when looking at 2D representations of images like MRIs – these images of the same object along 3 different axes. From one scan, there may be hundreds of individual images that together represent a single object. It’s a bit more complex than your typical 3D view where you can represent an object from say a top, side, and front shot – you’ve got images that actually move inside the object, so there’s kind of a 4th dimension going on.

With that in mind, there’s a few types of image sets to be aware of:

Reference vs. Patient
  • Normative / Atlas – These are not images for the patient(s) at hand. These are images that serve as a reference for what the part of the body under study is expected to look like.
  • Patient – These are images that are being examined. They may need to be compared to the normative / atlas images to see if there are differences.
Registered vs. Unregistered
  • Unregistered images are standalone – they are basically the images positioned / aligned as they came from the imaging device.
  • Registered images have been manipulated to align with another image or images via a common coordinate system – scaled, rotated, re-positioned, etc. to line up with each other so they may be compared. A common operation would be to align a patient scan with a reference scan to be able to identify different structures in the patient scan as they were mapped out in the reference.
Processed vs. Unprocessed
  • You may have a set of images that are of the same exact patient, but some versions of them are the output of an image processing tool.
  • For example, the output may have been run through a tractography tool and look something like this.
  • Another example, the output may have been segmented using a tool (e.g., using image processing techniques to add metadata to the images to – for example – denote which areas are bone and which are tissue) and look something like this.
  • Yet another example – the output could be a mesh of a brain in 3D space. (More on meshes.)
  • The type of output the viewer is working with can dictate what needs to be shown in the UI to be able to understand the data.
Other Properties
  • You may have multiple images sets of the same patient taken at different times. Maybe you are tracking whether or not an area is healing or if a structure is growing over time.
  • You may have reference images or patient images taken at particular ages – structures in the body change over time based on age, so when choosing a reference / studying a set of images you need some awareness of the age of the references to be sure they are relevant to the patient / study at hand.
  • Each image has three main anatomical planes along which it may be viewed in 2D – sagittal (side-side), coronal / frontal (front-back), and transverse / axial (top-bottom).

Once a user understands these properties of the image sets sufficiently, they arrange them in a grid-based layout on what I’ll call the viewing table in the center. Once you have an image ‘on the table,’ you can use a mouse scroll wheel or the play button to view the image planes along the axis the images were taken. This sounds more complex than it is – imagine a deck of playing cards. If you’re looking at a set of images of a head from a sagittal view, the top card in the deck might show the person’s right ear, the 2nd card might show their right eye in cross-section, the 3rd card might show their nose in cross-section, the 4th card might show their left eye in cross-section, the 5th card might show their left ear… so on and so forth. Rinse and repeat for front-to-back, and top-to-bottom.

You can link two images together (for example, a patient image that is registered to a normative image) so that as you step along the axis the images were taken in a given image set, the linked image (perhaps a reference image) also steps along, so you can go slice-by-slice through two or more images at the same time and compare at that level.

Below is a mockup I made with some suggestions to the pre-existing UI last fall with some of these ideas in mind (some, I learned about in the back and forth and discussion afterwards. 🙂 )

A little more information about Rav’s development

Rav as a codebase right now isn’t in active development. It was written using a framework called Polymer, but due to various technical considerations, the team decided the road ahead will involve rewriting the viewer application in React.

An important component used in the viewer that continues to be developed is called amijs. This is the specific component that allows viewing of the image files in the Rav interface.

In terms of UX design, a future version of Rav will likely be implemented using the UX designs we worked on for Rav as it is today. There is a UX issues queue for Rav in the general ChRIS design repo. Rav-specific issues are tagged. You can look through those issues to see some interesting discussions around the UX for this tool

What’s next?

I’m hoping to become a regular blogger again. 🙂 I am planning to do another blog post in this series, and it will focus on the main UI of ChRIS itself (the red block in the diagram at the top of this post.) Specifically, I’ll go through some ideas I have for the concept model of the ChRIS UI, which is honestly not complete.

After that, I plan to do another post in the series about the ChRIS store UI, which my colleague Joe Caiani is working on now with design created by my UX intern this past summer Shania Ambros.

Questions, ideas, and feedback most welcome in the comments section!

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The project in question was not, no.

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 02, 2018 02:02 PM

The project in question was not, no. We ended up deciding that what he needed was more a visual designer than a researcher/interaction designer.

Do you have thoughts on design system creation for startups in the B2B space?

Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 01, 2018 04:50 PM

Do you have thoughts on design system creation for startups in the B2B space?

Fedora 29 Design Suite Lab available

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on November 01, 2018 12:39 AM
Fedora 29 Design Suite is available for downloading with latest stable release  applications including Gimp 2.10.6 among the features.
On the bad news side, Blender 2.79b on Fedora 29 has broken user interface due to compatibility issue related to python 3.7. Workaround will be installing from the flathub directory.

Next release will be interesting considering the structural change for the incoming Fedora 30 with the advent of flatpak packages.

Running HP Envy x360 Ryzen 2500U with SSD

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on October 23, 2018 04:29 AM
Replacing the 1TB 7200rpm HDD with a well reviewed  Samsung 860 EVO 1TB HDD turned out a drastic improvement in term of speed caught me by surprise.

Noticeable effect was the nearly five seconds boot straight to the login screen and the response time of opening and closing applications. Envy x360 Ryzen 5 feels snappy now.

On a side note, Windows 10 has a nice app called Windows Hello to authenticate with face similar to facial recognition founds on Android device. A similar open source application called howdy is available but not packaged for Fedora yet. 

Retiring ASUS X550ZE and greeting HP Envy x360 Ryzen 5

Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on October 19, 2018 06:02 AM
My ASUS X550ZE reached its end of life due to hardware power issue after getting a lot of abuse. From that experience, I have learned a lot about dual Radeon graphic processors working in the open source world and I followed AMD graphic development since then.

Enter HP Envy x360 Convertible 15-cp0xxx Ryzen 5 marking the return to tablet PC. I originally intended to buy the Ryzen 7 version for more performance but the specification is very similar with only a sightly more powerful graphic processor as the difference on Ryzen 5. The model uses a 1 TB hard disk drive with 8 GB DDR4 RAM and I plan to upgrade to a 1TB solid state drive (Samsung Evo version looks suitable).

Installation

 Installing Fedora 29 Beta Design Suite was very smooth after shrinking the partition of Windows 10 and keeping Secure Boot enabled by default.

Post installation 

Some revealing issues:
  • Touchscreen and stylus mode is broken due to acpi bug preventing proper detection.
  • AMD Raven, the name of the APU, works fine but occasionally glitched on log out and reboot. At this time of writing, mesa version is 18.2.2.
  • Battery usage is adequate but has yet to take advantage on improvements currently for Intel based hardware. Running powertop sightly increased the time of battery usage.
The remaining details is on https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/User:Luya/Laptops/HP_Envy_x360


    1000 downloads of Scribus unstable in COPR Fedora 28

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on August 25, 2018 07:12 AM

    What a surprise to see 1000 download of Fedora 28 repository for Scribus Unstable! Thanks a million.

    Science Glyphs

    Posted by Sirko Kemter on June 15, 2018 01:06 PM

    Its a while ago since the last update here. What not means I dont do anything. Some months ago Martin Owens aka doctormo (from the Inkscape team) came to me and asked me if I could help to rework and extend a project he started, called science icons.https://gitlab.com/doctormo/glyphicons-science

    I started working on it a while ago. First I added the missing glyphs for microscope, atom, robot, telescope, satrun, radioactive and replaced the rocket one. Now I added also antenna (radio astronomy), galaxy, orbit, asteroid and observatory.

    On the end a font set with glyph icons for science shall be developed from it, a font set like fontawesome which you can use in apps around science projects. I think there is a lot in it.

    Lets see what I can do next. Next to the drawing and tiring node cleaning (what has to be done for glyphs) there is also a bit of organizational work behind.

    Bíonn gach tosach lag*

    Posted by Máirín Duffy on May 02, 2018 12:55 PM

    Tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge; tá uaim scríobh postálacha blag as Gaeilge, ach níl mé oilte ar labhairt nó scríbh as Gaeilge go fóill. Tiocfaidh sé le tuilleadh cleachtaidh.**

    Catching up

    I have definitely fallen off the blog wagon; as you may or may not know the past year has been quite difficult for me personally, far beyond being an American living in Biff Tannen’s timeline these days. Blogging definitely was pushed to the bottom of the formidable stack I must balance but in hindsight I think the practice of writing is beneficial matter what it’s about so I will carve regular time out to do it.

    Tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge

    This post title and opening is in Irish; I am learning Irish and trying to immerse myself as much as one can outside of a Gaeltacht. There’s quite a few reasons for this:

    • The most acute trigger is that I have been doing some genealogy and encountered family records written in Irish. I couldn’t recall enough of the class I’d taken while in college and got pulled in wanting to brush up.
    • Language learning is really fun, and Irish is of course part of my heritage and I would love to be able to teach my kids some since it’s theirs, too.
    • One of the main reasons I took Japanese in college for 2 years is because I wanted to better understand how kanji worked and how to write them. With Irish, I want to understand how to pronounce words, because from a native English speaker point of view they sound very different than they look!
    • Right now appears to be an exciting moment for the language; it has shed some of the issues that I think plagued it during ‘The Troubles’ and you can actually study and speak it now without making some kind of unintentional political statement. There’s far more demand for Gaelscoils (schools where the medium for education in all subjects is Irish) than can be met. In the past year, the Pop Up Gaeltacht movement has started and really caught on, a movement run in an open source fashion I might add!
    • I am interested in how the brain recovers from trauma and I’ve a little theory that language acquisition could be used as a model for brain recovery and perhaps suggest more effective therapies for that. Being knee deep in language learning, at the least, is an interesting perspective in this context.
    • I also think – as a medium that permeates everything you do, languages are similar to user interfaces – you don’t really pay attention to a language when you speak it if you’re fluent, it’s just the medium. Where you pay attention to the language rather than the content is where you have a problem speaking it or understanding it. (Yes, the medium is the message except when it isn’t. 🙂 )Similarly, user interfaces aren’t something you should pay attention to – you should pay attention to the content, or your work, rather than focus on the intricacies of how the interface works. I think drawing connections between these two things is at least interesting, if not informative. (Can you tell I like mashing different subjects together to see what comes out?)

    Anyway, I could go on and on, but yes, $REASONS. I’m trying to learn a little bit every day rather than less frequent intensive courses. For example, I’m trying to ‘immerse’ as I can by using my computers and phone in the Irish language, keep long streaks in the Duolingo course, listen to RnaG and watch TG4 and some video courses, and some light conversation with other Irish learners and speakers.
    Maybe I’ll talk more about the approach I’m taking in detail in another post. In general, I think a good approach to language learning is a policy I try to subscribe to in all areas of life – just f*ing do it (speak it, write it, etc. Do instead of talking about doing. Few things infuriate me more although I’m as guilty as anyone. 🙂 ) There you go for now, though.

    What else is going on?

    I have been working on some things that will be unveiled at the Red Hat Summit and don’t want to be a spoiler. I am planning to talk a bit more about that kind of work here. One involves a coloring book :), and another involves a project Red Hat is working on with Boston University and Boston Children’s Hospital.
    Just this week, I received my laptop upgrade 🙂 It is the Thinkpad Yoga X1 3rd Gen and I am loving it so far. I have pre-release Fedora 28 on it and am very happy with the out-of-the-box experience. I’m planning to post a review about running Fedora 28 on it soon!

    Slán go fóill!

    (Bye for now!)
    * Every beginning is weak.
    ** I’m learning Irish; I want to write blog posts in Irish, but I don’t speak or write Irish well enough yet. It’ll come with practice. (Warning: This is likely Gaeilge bhriste / broken Irish)

    Scribus 1.5.4 available in COPR repository

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on May 02, 2018 04:14 AM
    For users finding Scribus 1.4.7 lacking in features notably the complex text layout for Asian languages, Scribus 1.5.4 is available via COPR repository from Fedora 26 (soon reaching end of life) to Rawhide.  
    Additionally, a snapshot for the future 1.6.0 (currently 1.5.5) is also available for improving the experience to upstream.

    Fedora Infra Hackfest 2018

    Posted by Ryan Lerch on April 19, 2018 02:58 AM

    Earlier this month, I attended the 2018 edition of the Fedora Infra Hackfest. The hackfest was a meetup of members of the Fedora Infrastructure team, including also the developers that work on Fedora apps such as pagure and bodhi.

    Location

    The hackfest was held in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA. As always, getting to these things for me is quite an adventure from down under, but the travel went smoothly. This was in part due to the organisational skills of Paul Frields, who organized the hackfest. The venue itself  — the University of Mary Washington — provided a great place to work on Fedora infrastructure.

    What we worked on

    Over the course of the week, many different elements of the Fedora infra were touched. A few of the big ticket infra items that were worked on were beginning to set up AWX for Fedora Infra, hacking on Infra’s Openshift instance, and rawhide gating in Bodhi. Most of these were items that i was not much help on, so I focused on some of the smaller items where I could help.

    Package Maintainer Docs

    On the first day, we all worked on the Package Maintainer documentation. These docs are currently all in the Fedora wiki, and provide information for new and current package maintainers on creating and updating Fedora packages. We went through the large list of docs in the wiki, and identified the ones that contained useful content. These were then converted to asciidoc, and moved into a newly created wiki. Using these as a base, we massaged these into a new set of documents, and started writing. Additionally, i did a quick pelican setup rendering asciidoc so we could easily view the rendered documents as we were writing. All the output from the Package Maintainer docs work is available in this repo.

    Bodhi Rawhide Gating

    As part of the bodhi rawhide gating work, Randy and I sat down to look at the Create Update form in Bodhi. This form is currently a bit strange, as it asks for a Package Name, but only uses that for finding builds, but the way the form is laid out, it appears to be a critical part of the form. We fleshed out a basic idea for how updates will appear in Bodhi when going through to rawhide, and added some extra discussion on how to tweak this form to make it easier to understand.

    Noggin

    We also brainstormed a name for the new front-end for CAIAPI — we came up with noggin. CAIAPI and Noggin will together be a new replacement for the current Fedora Account System. Patrick and I worked together to create a basic list of requirements, and an idea on how to implement the front end. I also spent some time creating the beginnings of Noggin — creating a basic application with theming support, and implementing a handful of the views (that are currently not hooked up to anything yet). Results from the hacking that i did on Noggin are already in the newly created Noggin repo.

    Vulkan now fully functional on ASUS X550ZE

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on April 15, 2018 07:18 PM
    South Island (Hainan) and Sea Island (Kaveri) functional with RADV


    Running Fedora 28 Design Suite post beta shows a nice surprise: Vulkan with RADV is fully functional on both South Island (Hainan) and Sea Island (Kaveri) cards on ASUS X550ZE laptop. amdgpu driver is needed to enable the feat in combination of boot parameter (cik.amdgpu_support=1 cik.radeon_support=0 si.amdgpu_support=1 si.radeon_support=0)

    Vulkan smoketest running on RADV
    Some minor issues need be to addressed like occasional glitches. Otherwise the performance is stable enough for dail use.

    A follow up on Fedora 28's background art

    Posted by Máirín Duffy on March 12, 2018 12:04 PM

    A quick post – I have a 4k higher-quality render of one of Fedora 28 background candidates mentioned in a recent post about the Fedora 28 background design process. Click on the image below to grab it if you would like to try / test it and hopefully give some feedback on it:
    3D render of the Fedora logo in blue fiber optic light strands against a black background. Image is angled with some blur and bokeh effects. the angling of this version is such that it comes from below and looks up.
    One of the suggestions I’ve received from your feedback is to try to vary the height between the ‘f’ and the infinity symbol so they stand out. I’m hoping to find some time this week to figure out how exactly to do that (I’m a Blender newbie 😳), but if you want to try your hand, the Blender source file is available.

    Marcela: I am not certain that teaching a large class would do what I’m wanting to do.

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on March 07, 2018 04:18 PM

    Marcela: I am not certain that teaching a large class would do what I’m wanting to do. The people I most want to help get into UX are also the people least likely to be able to afford to take UX courses.

    Fedora 28's Desktop Background Design

    Posted by Máirín Duffy on March 06, 2018 06:46 PM

    Fedora 28 (F28) is slated to release in May 2018. On the Fedora Design Team, we’ve been thinking about the default background wallpaper for F28 since November. Let’s walk through the Fedora 28 background process thus far as a sort of pre-mortem; we’d love your feedback on where we’ve ended up.

    November: Inspiration

    As of the past 3 releases, we choose a sequential letter of the alphabet and come up with a list of scientists / mathematicians / technologists to serve as an inspiration for the desktop background’s visual concept:
    F25's wallpaper - an almost floral blue gradiated blade design, F26 a black tree line reflected in water against a wintry white landscape (the trees + reflection resemble a sound wave), F27 a blue and purple gradiated underwater scene with several jellyfish - long tendrils drifting and twisting - floating up the right side of the image
    Backgrounds from Fedora 25, 26, and 27. 25’s inspiration was Archimedes, and the visual concept was an organic Archimedes’ screw. F26’s inspiration was Alexander Graham Bell, and the visual concept was a sound wave of a voice saying “Fedora.” F27’s inspiration was underwater researcher Jacques Cousteau, and the inspiration was transparency in the form of jellyfish.
    Gnokii kicked off the process in November by starting the list of D scientists for F28 and holding a vote on the team: we chose Emily Duncan, an early technologist who invented several types of banking calculators.

    December: First concepts

    We had a meeting in IRC (which I seem to have forgotten to run meetbot on 🙁 ) where we brainstormed different ways to riff off of Emily Duncan’s work as an inspiration. One of the early things we looked at were some of the illustrations from one of Duncan’s patents:
    Diagram etchings from 1903 Duncan calculator patent. Center is a cylindrical object covered in a grid with numbers and various mechanical bits
    Gnokii started drafting some conceptual mockups, starting with a rough visualization of an Enigma machine and moving to visuals of electric wires and gears:
    3D perspective alpha cryptography keys scrolling vertically in 3D space
    wires with bright sparks traveling along them atop a gear texture, black background
    wires with bright sparks traveling along them atop a gear texture, blue background
    During a regular triage meeting, the team met in IRC and we discussed the mockups and had some critique and suggestions which we shared in the ticket.

    February: Solidifying Concept

    After the holidays, we got back to it with the beta freeze deadline in mind. Note, we don’t have alpha releases in Fedora anymore, which means we need to have more polish in our initial wallpaper than we had traditionally in order to get useful feedback for the final wallpaper. This started with a regular triage meeting where the F28 wallpaper ticket came up. We brainstormed a lot of ideas and went through a lot of different and of-the-moment visual styles. Maria shared a link to a Behance article on 2018 design trends and it seemed 3D styles in a lot of different ways are the trend of the moment. Some works that particularly inspired us:

    Rose Pilkington’s Soft Bodies for Electric Objects

    Gently-textured pastel hues of bright cyan, orange, yellow, and pink in a softly gradiated set of flat but almost 3D like rounded abstract shapes

    Ari Weinkle’s Wormholes

    Almost psychedelic, cavelike, wavy environment made with cascading 3D ridges, orange and purple hued palette

    Ari Weinkle’s Paint waves

    Vibrant, rainbow hued, gracefully curving and spiraling super thick sculpted 3D paint with a ridged texture
    Both myself and terezahl, taking these inspirations as directions, started on another round of mockups.
    Terezahl created mockups, one which appears to be inspired by Pilkington’s work, based of the concept of 28’s being a triangular number:
    On top, a black to greenish blue shaded abstract composition with a floating triangle floating in front of a background with an inverse gradient. On bottom, rounded abstract shapes in purple, blue, and cyan jewel tones.
    I was inspired by Weinkle’s paint waves, but couldn’t figure out a technique to approximate it in Blender. Conceptually, I wanted to take gnokii’s wires with data ‘lights’ travelling down the wires, and have those lights travel down the ridges in an abstract swirled wave. I figured probably it would take some work with Blender’s particular system, since the mass of a character’s hair is typically created that way. I had never used Blender’s particle system before, so I took a tutorial that seemed the closest to the effect I wanted – a Blender Guru tutorial by Andrew Price:
    <iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XPFJGkB4v9U" width="560"></iframe>
    As per the feedback I received from gnokii – the end result was too close to the output you’d expect from such a tutorial. I wasn’t able to achieve a more solid mass than the fiber optic strands, although they visually represented the ‘data light’ concept fork I was going for:
    Sparkling blue-hued fiber optic threads against a black background, their ends glowing light blue, with some blurring and bokeh effects - 3D rendered
    Time was short, so we ended up deciding to ship this mockup – as close to the tutorial as it was – in the F28 beta to see what kind of feedback we got on the look. Thankfully Luya was able to package it up for us with some time to spare! So far, the preliminary feedback we’ve gotten from folks on social media and/or who’ve seen it via Luya’s package for beta has been positive.

    March: Finalization

    Since the time-consuming work of building the platform in Blender from the tutorial is done, I’ve started playing around with the idea to see what kind of visuals we could get. The obvious, of course, is to work the Fedora logo into it. Fedora 26’s wallpaper had a sound wave depicting the vocalization of the word “Fedora” – I was trying to think of how to have the fiber optic ‘data’ show the same. Perhaps this is too literal. Anyhow, here are the two crowd favorites thus far:

    #3

    3D render of the Fedora logo in blue fiber optic light strands against a black background. Image is angled with some blur and bokeh effects

    #9

    3D render of the Fedora logo in blue fiber optic light strands against a black background. Image is angled with some blur and bokeh effects. the angling of this version is such that it comes from below and looks up.
    we need your help!
    Anyway, this is where you come in. Take a look at these. With the system built in Blender, we have a lot of things we can tweak easily – the angles, the lens / bokeh / focus, the shape / path of the strands (like how the latest renderings follow the Fedora f/infinity), the shape / type of object the strands are made of (right now long / narrow cylinders.) These kinds of tweaks are quick. Any ideas you have on a path forward here, or just simple feedback, would be much appreciated. 🙂

    If I didn’t have to earn money…

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on February 13, 2018 06:40 PM

    I was recently asked what I would do if I didn’t have to earn money.

    That was an interesting question, especially given that it’s difficult to say what that actually means. For example: If I don’t have to earn money, does that mean I’m able to do things that are more expensive than everyday things? Can I travel?

    I decided to interpret it as if I had enough to be comfortable. For me, that includes at least some travel.

    Season Matters

    The first thing that came to mind with this was the significant difference in my mental state in winter and summer. I’m functional in winter (seasonal depression and insomnia are treated, but not completely countered). I’m good in summer — even with the insomnia, since it’s better with enough light.

    So, ideally, I’d be doing something that feeds my soul (so to speak) in winter, and feeds my curiosity and enthusiasm and need for people in summer.

    Winter

    <figure><figcaption>Part of the eco tour at Mount Dora in Florida — so much sun!</figcaption></figure>

    Having just returned from a week in Florida to visit my parents, I think that I would want to spend at least some of the winter somewhere with sun. I’m so much more… awake. Aware. Happy. Human. It’ll fade, since it still is February in Boston, but it’s such a strong reminder. I think Florida winter light may be better (stronger? More direct?) than Boston summer light.

    So maybe in winter , I’d go somewhere bright for a few weeks to a month. And, overlapping or not, something involving animals. Whether it be spending time with lonely shelter animals, or helping out at a zoo or sanctuary, I find that doing something involving animals helps feed me in ways that help counteract the lack of light.

    <figure><figcaption>“I require surface area! It’s warmer than it’s been and I need warms!” — a turtle, also on the eco tour</figcaption></figure>

    Summer

    In summer, with better sunlight, I think I’d want to do two main things: Spend time outside in the sun, and teach UX to folks who cannot afford to pay for schooling.

    At the moment, I’d need to spend more time learning and practicing UX research and interaction design, and maybe more visual design. I’d want to have years of practice, and maybe do some teaching on the side. Once I feel a bit less like I’m too new to teach (which isn’t actually true; I just would want to know more to feel comfortable), I’d want to pass that knowledge on to those who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to get into UX. I’m already offering info to anyone who I know needs it, even though I am fairly new to UX. The fact that I tend to dive headfirst into anything I’m interested in means that — while I know there are gaps — I’ve learned a lot in the past two years of learning and practicing.

    I think I’d want to focus on Women and Racial/Ethnic Minorities in tech (especially black folks and latin@s), as they may well be interested in and skilled at the UX field, but may not have any way to pay for learning. Similarly, I’d bet a fair number of people who would be excellent UX practitioners have no idea that such a thing exists.

    Tech needs diversity, badly. Even if I ignore the fact that not having access to tech jobs means that there’s huge swaths of folks who aren’t making as much money as they could or need, diversity in a company means that there will be more people with different backgrounds looking at problems and the proposed solutions. There are far too many stupid mistakes and problems relating to thoughtlessness that would have a much better chance of being spotted if entire teams weren’t made of white, cis, men. It’s not their fault that they don’t spot problems, but different life experiences have a huge effect on how one thinks and the types of solutions one might suggest and implement. Refusing to admit that this is true is both short-sighted and self-centered.

    So, I’d want to teach. And since I find UX so fascinating, and that’s my focus and likely to stay that way, that’s what I’d want to teach.

    Always

    I need people. I need my family, my friends, and to interact with people I don’t already know in low-pressure environments.

    So I’d want to build in time to spend with my family and friends, and find ways to meet new people and learn who they are and what they think and what they want. Sure, that last part sounds a bit like User Research, but it’s more than that. People are fascinating. And if it’s low pressure to us both — which user research is not — I get the chance to get to know more people without anyone feeling pushed into it. Some parties are good for this, if there are quieter spaces so that conversation is possible.

    I need touch. Both with people I’m comfortable with and with animals who rely on me and who do not. That would need to be part of an ideal life, as well.

    I need to move. Walking is great, but often harder in winter due to weather and to seasonal depression making inertia stronger. Kayaking is shockingly fun, although my inflatable kayak is not heavy enough — I always feel like I’m going to fall out. Swimming is good, if I don’t have to deal with chlorine. I’m sure there are other things that easily and comfortable fill my need to move, but those are the first that come to mind.

    What would you do?

    If you didn’t have to earn money, what would you want to do?

    Update on Supplemental Wallpaper for Fedora 28

    Posted by Sirko Kemter on February 11, 2018 08:46 AM

    I used the weekend to moderate the supplemental wallpapers for Fedora 28. I did already check from time to time the sumissions and rejected the ones who break the guidelines, and started checking the legality of the ones with given references of the license.
    So far we have 124 submissions, but I rejected a lot (so far 18) this time for wrong aspect ration, some never will get that we dont accept submissions with the Fedora logo on it and unclear licenses, this time I rejected all who was not licensed with the same license as on Flickr or any other given reference. Before I always informed the submitter about this inconsistency, but there is to many of them now and it is very time consuming (some really think its just hitting a button inside Nuancier, I can assure you its not). 61 badges are so far awarded
    There might come some more submission as there is some time until 13th left. But dont think I can moderate you last minute submission, Pingou already added now finally the feature that we can have deadline for submission and the begin of the voting phase on different dates.

    some of my personal favorites so far:

    The contest is a time and resourcen devouring thing for me, I spend an average of 160-200 hours working time with it. I have to mention this also now, I have to live with just a mobile connection and this costs me serious traffic. I had to add volume on Sunday just to finishing it and that after spending already on saturday a lot of traffic for it. Ok mobile traffic is in Cambodia (for western view) very cheap, to add 500MB costs me just 0.30$ but there is a downside, if you topup here the money is only valid for usage during next 7 days, so using 30 cents from a dollar means, 70 cents stay and normally I just have 1$ a week costs for my subscription, so this money will be not used and on the end I paid 1$ for the add, except I use it for adding more. Currently a dollar, is a lot for me I also get a good meal for it but unfortunately a coffee (at least not a good one)

    Application process — redesign

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on December 17, 2017 02:09 AM

    I recently applied for a job somewhere, and found the initial application process confusing and dismaying.

    The reason, I think, is that it was not clear a) if the entire process actually happened, and b) what all I was actually submitting. So, I decided to take a bit of time and add some redesign to make things a little less confusing. I’ve also blurred out the company name for politeness’ sake.

    What did it look like at first?

    When you look at a job description, you get something like this (with a bright orange ‘apply now’ button that is not visible in this screenshot). This seems fine.

    <figure></figure>

    After you click Apply Now, you get an odd sort of thing about your personal data collection. I’m guessing this is because it’s a security company, but it reads all sorts of weird. Whatever, that’s not a huge deal.

    <figure></figure>

    Next, you get your first page of the application. I like that they remind you what you’re applying for!

    <figure></figure>

    If you upload your resume, your name and email are auto-filled. That’s cool, thanks! When you select ‘Next’, you get this:

    <figure></figure>

    Wait. What? We just jumped to questions about my nationality and my affirmative action status? What about my work experience? My education? A cover letter? Did the resume upload skip the need for work and education info? Maybe, let’s keep going.

    You might notice (I didn’t at the time) that this button says ‘Submit’, not ‘Next’. I didn’t grab a screenshot (and didn’t want to apply twice), but that’s the end of the application process. It thanks you, and it sends you email confirming your application.

    What? I don’t even know for sure what it sent! I don’t know how well it parsed my resume. I have no clue at this point what just happened.

    What would I fix?

    Ok, so that was all sorts of confusing. Enough so that last night as I was falling asleep, I was distracted by wondering what would help. I considered a progress indicator, as that would at least make the extreme brevity of the application not a surprise. I also wondered if they’d labeled the final button ‘Submit’, which they actually had. (but perhaps ‘Submit Application’ would have been a clearer signal!) Finally, right before I fell asleep, I realized that what I most missed was a summary of what I was about to submit.

    So, my version of the first page, with a progress bar added (using their font as detected by What Font and the same color as the next button for the progress indication):

    <figure><figcaption>Look! It’s the first step of three!</figcaption></figure>

    My version of the second page (which was the last in the previous version) also has a progress bar, and changed the button to say ‘Next’. Not sure why I couldn’t make the carets a little more visible when they are between things. And perhaps I need some sort of ‘completed’ indicator for the first step, like a checkmark.

    <figure><figcaption>Still a weird jump, but at least I had a chance to expect it.</figcaption></figure>

    Finally, I made the very barest of bones summary page (the progress bar, what one was applying for, and a brief statement about the summary page). I didn’t make the whole page, which means that I didn’t get to include a “Submit Application” button instead of just ‘Submit” or suggest ways to make it easy for people to change things they don’t agree with. The latter seems important, especially if it really is automatically interpreting the resume; perhaps offer inline editing?

    <figure><figcaption>Not entirely sure how to end progress bars of this type, but you get the point.</figcaption></figure>

    Summary

    I’m struggling with the visual design part of things, but at least I feel a little better about the weird application process, having “fixed” it (at least in theory).

    I’m not sure what happens if you don’t submit a resume in that first page (or if you use linkedin or something instead). It seems like it might be a kindness for them to tell you what submitting your resume (or associating with social media) did for you, so that it’s less confusing when it never asks about jobs or education.

    Also, Gravit Designer is a pretty nice tool for this purpose!

    Digital Ethics: Whose responsibility is it? (3/3)

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on December 05, 2017 04:58 PM

    UX folks may be in the best position to identify ethical issues in their companies. Should it be their responsibility?

    This is the final piece of the story I’ve been telling. It started with an explanation of some of the problems currently present in the implementation of UX practices. I then described various ethical problems in technology companies today.

    I will now explain how UX folks are uniquely situated to notice ethical concerns. I will also explain how, despite their unique perspective, I do not think that UX folks should be the gatekeepers of ethics. Much like UX itself, ethical considerations are too likely to be ignored without buy-in from the top levels of a company.

    Ethics and UX

    Ethics and user experience are tied together for a few reasons:

    • Folks who are working on the user experience of a piece of software will often have a good view on the ethics of it — if they stop to consider it.
    • UX folks are trained to see the impact of a product on people’s lives. We are a bridge between software and humans, and ethical concerns are also in that space.
    • Like UX, ethics needs buy-in throughout the company. It can otherwise be difficult or impossible to enforce, as ethical considerations can be at odds with short-term company priorities like shareholder profits or introducing convenient (but potentially problematic) features.

    Given that UX folks are in a great position to see ethical problems as they come up, it may be tempting to suggest that we should be the ones in charge of ethics. Unfortunately, as I described in an earlier section, many UX folks are already struggling to get buy-in for their UX work. Without buy-in at the top level, we are unlikely to have the power to do anything about it, and may risk our jobs and livelihoods.

    This is made worse by the fact that there are a lot of new UX folks in the Boston area. If they are on the younger side of things, they may not realize that they are being asked to do the impossible, or that they can push back. New UXers may also have taken out student loans, whether as an undergraduate student or to enable a career change into UX, thereby effectively becoming indentured servants who can’t even use bankruptcy to escape them.

    Even new and career-changer UX folks who have not taken out loans can feel like they can’t afford to annoy the company they’re working for. Given how few entry-level jobs there are — at least in the Boston area — it’s a huge risk for someone new to UX to be taking.

    The risk of pointing out ethical problems is even worse when you are talking about an ethnic minority or others who are in an especially vulnerable position, and who may also be more likely to notice potential problem-areas.

    Individual UX folks should not be the sole custodians of ethics nor of the commitment to a better user experience. Without buy-in at high levels of the company, neither of these are likely to work out well for anyone.

    Who should be in charge of software ethics?

    Who, then, should be the custodians of keeping software from causing harm?

    The UXPA Professional Organization

    The UXPA organization has a code of conduct, which is excellent. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have much to do with the ethical concerns that have come up lately. At best, we have the lines “UX practitioners shall never knowingly use material that is illegal, immoral, or which may hurt or damage a person or group of people.” and “UX practitioners shall advise clients and employers when a proposed project is not in the client’s best interest and provide a rationale for this advice.” However, these are relevant to the problem at hand only if a UX practitioner can tell that something might cause harm, or if a client’s best interest matches up with the public’s best interest.

    The code of conduct in question may not be specific enough, either: the main purpose of such a code of conduct is to offer practitioners a place to refer to when something goes against it. It is not clear that this code offers that opportunity, nor is it really a UX professional’s job to watch for ethics concerns. We may be best positioned, and we may be able to learn what to look for, but ethical concerns are only a part of the many tasks a UX professional may have.

    Companies Themselves

    A better question might be: how do we encourage companies adopt and stick to an ethics plan around digital products? Once something like that is in place, it becomes a _lot_ easier for your employees to take that into account. Knowing what to pay attention to, what areas to explore, and taking the time to do so would be a huge improvement.

    Maybe instead of asking UX folks to be the custodians of ethics (also here), we can encourage companies to pay attention to this problem. UX folks could certainly work with and guide their companies when those companies are looking to be more ethically conscious.

    I’m not at all certain what might get companies to pay attention to ethics, except possibly for things like the current investigation into the effects of Russian interference in our politics. When it’s no longer possible to hide the evil that one’s thoughtlessness — or one’s focus on money over morals — has caused, maybe that will finally get companies to implement and enforce clear, ethical guidelines.

    What do you think?

    What are your thoughts on how — or even if — ethics should be brought to the table around high tech?

    Thank you to Alex Feinman and Emily Lawrence for their feedback on this entry!

    Digital Ethics: Whose responsibility is it? (2/3)

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on December 01, 2017 02:31 PM

    UX folks may be in the best position to identify ethical issues in their companies. Should it be their responsibility?

    In the previous section, I described the state of UX practice at technology companies, and the need for high-level buy-in for successful UX integration.

    There is a concerning — and increasingly evident — lack of ethical consideration in the processes of most software companies. In this section, I will describe some of the ways in which this has recently become more apparent.

    Digital Ethics

    The software in our lives are not generally designed with our health and well-being in mind. This fact is becoming clear as Facebook, Google, and Twitter are in the spotlight relating to Russia’s interference with our elections and increasing political divides. Twitter has also typically been unwilling to do much about threats or hate speech.

    There is too much focus on engagement and creating addiction in users, and not enough on how things might go bad and appropriate ways to handle that.

    Internet of Things (IoT)

    There’s a proliferation of products in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, many of which are completely insecure and thus easily turned into a botnet, have the private information on them exploited, or hacked to be used as an information gathering device.

    Effects on Kids

    Some IoT devices are specifically targeted at kids, but few or no companies have put any effort into identifying how they will affect the development of the children who use them. Concerned researchers at the MIT Media Lab have begun to study the effects of intelligent devices and toys on kids, but this won’t stop the continued development of these devices.

    Similarly, it’s unclear how the use of devices that were originally aimed at adults — such as Alexa — will affect the kids in those houses. On one hand, it doesn’t involve screen time, which is no longer completely contraindicated for kids under two but is still wise to limit. On the other hand, we have no idea how those devices will answer questions they were not programmed to handle. Additionally, these devices do not encourage kids to use good manners — one of the important lubricants for the fabric of society. It’s hard enough to teach kids manners without having that teaching undermined by an intelligent device!

    Finally, consider how machine learning can result in some truly horrific scenarios (content warning: the linked essay describes disturbing things and links to disturbing graphic and video content).

    Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatize, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.
    James Bridle · Writer and Artist

    Willful ignorance: Twitter and Equifax

    Similarly, we’ve seen the results of a focus on metrics and money over security and sanity. Twitter not only knew that there were spam and fake accounts from Russia and the Ukraine in 2015, but refused to remove them because

    “They were more concerned with growth numbers than fake and compromised accounts,” Miley told Bloomberg.”

    Equifax stores highly sensitive information about people in the US, and left security vulnerabilities open for months after being told about them. As a result, they had multiple security breaches, basically screwing over anyone whose data was stolen.

    <figure><figcaption>Yeah, no. You knew you had vulnerabilities!</figcaption></figure>

    Thoughtlessness: Google, Facebook, and Big Data

    Even without willful ignorance, thoughtlessness alone can easily be enough to put individuals, communities, and societies at risk.

    Considering the breadth of data that many companies are collecting on those who use their products, there is a worrying lack of thought given to the invasiveness of this practice and to how to safeguard the data in question. These companies often make poor choices in what information to keep, how to secure and anonymize the information, and who has access to that information.

    Some might say that having conversational devices like Alexa and Google Home are worth the privacy risks inherent in an always-on listening device. Others might suggest that it’s already too late, given that Siri and Google Now have been listening to us and our friends through our phones for a long time now.

    However, regardless of one’s thoughts on the timing of the concerns, the fact remains that tech giants have access to an amazing amount of information about us. This information is collected through our phones, through our searches and purchasing patterns, and sometimes through devices like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home Mini.

    Some companies are better than others, such as Apple’s refusal to break their encryption for the FBI, but it can be quite difficult to identify which and where companies are making the best choices for their customers privacy, safety, and sanity.

    Machine Learning

    Take machine learning (also known as AI), and the fact that companies are more interested in selling ads than considering the effects their software has on their customers:

    It’s not that the people who run, you know, Facebook or Google are maliciously and deliberately trying to make the country or the world more polarized and encourage extremism. […] But it’s not the intent or the statements people in technology make that matter, it’s the structures and business models they’re building. […] Either Facebook is a giant con of half a trillion dollars and ads don’t work on the site, it doesn’t work as a persuasion architecture, or its power of influence is of great concern. It’s either one or the other. It’s similar for Google, too.
    Zeynep Tufekci · Techno-sociologist

    One of the major problems with machine learning is that we have _no idea_ precisely what associations any particular algorithm has learned. The programmers of those algorithms just say whether the output those algorithms provide is good enough, and often ‘good enough’ doesn’t take into account the effects on individuals, communities, and society.

    I hope you begin to understand why ethics is a big concern among the UX folks I follow and converse with. At the moment, the ethics of digital products is a big free-for-all. Maybe there was a time when ethics wasn’t as relevant, and code really was just code. Now is not that time.

    In part 3, I’ll discuss the positioning of UX people to more easily notice these issues, and the challenges involved in raising concerns about ethics and ethical responsibility.

    Thanks to Alex Feinman, Máirín Duffy, and Emily Lawrence for their feedback on this thread!

    Digital Ethics: Whose responsibility is it? (1/3)

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 29, 2017 06:38 PM

    User Experience (UX) folks may be in the best position to identify ethical issues in their companies. Should it be their responsibility?

    This will be a multi-part story.

    In this first part, I’m going explain some of the problems inherent in the implementation of UX practices at technology companies today, to provide the background necessary to make my point.

    You can also skip ahead to part two, in which I talk about ethics in the tech industry today.

    First: Why do Businesses want UX?

    <figure><figcaption>Poor user experience = burning your money</figcaption></figure>

    Businesses are starting to realize that they need to incorporate UX to retain and increase their customer base. Discussions with Boston-area user experience folks suggests that companies have figured out that they need to have incorporated UX years ago, and that they’re behind.

    Many of those businesses are so new to UX that they don’t understand what it means. Part of the reason for this is that ‘UX’ is an umbrella term, typically including:

    • user research
    • information architecture (or IA)
    • interaction design (or IxD)
    • content specialists
    • visual design

    In addition, some UX teams include front-end developers, as it can otherwise be difficult to be certain that the developers implementing the interface have a basic understanding of user experience.

    <figure><figcaption>User Experience is complicated!</figcaption></figure>

    When looking for UX employees, some businesses end up throwing the kitchen sink into their job descriptions, or look for the extremely rare UX unicorn — someone skilled at all parts of UX as well as development. This unfortunately makes it approximately impossible that they will get what they need, or possibly that they will get any decent candidates at all.

    <figure><figcaption>Often, people expect the UX unicorn to be able to do all aspects of UX and write code. This version is more reasonable: to understand how coding works, even if you don’t do it.</figcaption></figure>

    Other employers prioritize visual or graphic design skills over the skills necessary to understand users, because they have gotten the impression that ‘making it pretty’ will keep their customers from leaving. Often the problem is at a much deeper level: the product in question was never designed with the user’s needs in mind.

    Successful UX needs high-level buy-in

    Unfortunately, UX professionals brought into a company without buy-in at the top level of the company nearly guarantees that the UX person will fail. In addition to their regular UX work, they will also be stuck with the job of trying to sell UX to the rest of the company. Without support from higher-ups in the company, it is nearly impossible for a single person to make the amount of change necessary.

    Surveying local people, I learned that being the only UX person in a small company or startup is probably doable, if the company understands the value you bring. There are fewer people to convince, and usually fewer products to deal with.

    However, being the only UX person in a big company will likely be an exercise in frustration and burnout. On top of the fact that you’re trying to do too many different things on your own , you’ve also got to try to keep the bigger picture in mind.

    Some important long-term questions include:

    • “What are the right strategic directions to go in?”
    • “Are the things that you are creating potentially going to cause or enable harm?”

    The second question brings us to the question of “who in high tech is thinking about the ethics of their creations?”. Unfortunately, too often, the answer is ‘no one’, which I will discuss in Part 2.

    Thank you to Alex Feinman and Máirín Duffy for their feedback on this article!

    Thinking With Type: Fonts

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 28, 2017 02:12 PM

    I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the fonts section of the “Thinking With Type” book.

    I started by hunting for family trees for common font families. Failing to find those — likely because there’s an astonishing number of fonts out there — I started doodling around trying to get something on paper for myself.

    Without further ado, here’s my best approximation of the information in the section I’ve read, with some space available for further exploration. Mostly, I think I’m baffled by how one selects a font or font family, in part due to the sheer number of fonts out there, and in part because some require money. I’ll start out playing with with google fonts, because those seem to be specific for the web, and free. Open Sans seems to be a decent default, and Patternfly uses it.

    Font Categories

    “Thinking With Type” starts out by explaining the history behind fonts, and structures things by that history.

    Humanist (or Roman) fonts include what were originally the gothic and italic typefaces — these came from hand-written, script and body-based styles. These relied upon calligraphy and the movements of the hand.

    Enlightenment fonts were based on engraving techniques and lead type, and allowed for more flexibility in what was possible. This included both Transitional and Modern typefaces, which began the process of separating and modifying pieces of a letterform. Transitional started with Baskerville’s sharper serifs and more vertical axes. Modern went to an extreme with this, with Bodoni and Didot’s thin, straight serifs, vertical axes, and sharp contrast between thick and thin lines.

    Abstract fonts went even further in the direction of exaggerating the pieces of a letterform, in part because of the additional options available with industrialization and wood-cut type.

    Reform and Revolution were a reaction to the abstract period, in which font makers returned to their more humanist roots.

    Computer-optimized fonts were created to handle the low resolution available with CRT screens and low resolution printers.

    With the advent of purely digital fonts, creators of fonts started playing with imperfect type. Others created font workhorses using flexible palettes.

    <figure><figcaption>This is probably better named Font History!</figcaption></figure>

    Humanist Fonts

    Humanist fonts were based on handwriting samples.

    Gothic fonts were based on German writing, such as that of Gutenberg:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.myfonts.com/fonts/alterlittera/gutenberg-a/</figcaption></figure>

    Whereas the Italic fonts were based on Italian cursive writing:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italic_type</figcaption></figure>

    These were combined by Nicolas Jenson in 1465 into the first Roman typeface, from which many typefaces sprung:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Jenson</figcaption></figure><figure><figcaption>I don’t have much about the ones after Jenson.</figcaption></figure>

    Enlightenment Fonts

    With the Enlightenment period came experimentation.

    From the committee-designed romain du roi typeface, which was entirely created on a grid:

    <figure><figcaption>http://ilovetypography.com/2008/01/17/type-terms-transitional-type/</figcaption></figure>

    To the high contrast between the thick and thin elements from Baskerville, no longer strongly attached to calligraphy (the point at which you enter the Transitional period for fonts):

    <figure><figcaption>http://ilovetypography.com/2008/01/17/type-terms-transitional-type/</figcaption></figure><figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baskerville</figcaption></figure>

    The Modern fonts from Bodoni and Didot further increased the contrast between thick and thin elements beyond Baskerville’s font.

    <figure></figure><figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodoni and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didot_(typeface)</figcaption></figure><figure></figure>

    Abstraction Fonts

    In the abstraction period, the so-called Egyptian or Fat Face (now known as slab serifs) fonts came about. These were the first attempts at making type serve another function than long lines of book text, that of advertizing — otherwise known as display fontfaces.

    These took the extremes of the Enlightenment period and went to extremes with them, making fonts whose thin lines were barely there, and whose thick lines were enormous.

    <figure><figcaption>Egyptian, or Slab Serif, from http://ilovetypography.com/2008/06/20/a-brief-history-of-type-part-5/</figcaption></figure><figure><figcaption>Fat Face, from http://ilovetypography.com/2008/06/20/a-brief-history-of-type-part-5/</figcaption></figure>

    Reform and Revolution Fonts

    Font makers in the reform period reacted to the excesses of the abstraction period by returning to their historic roots.

    Johnston (1906) used more traditional letterform styles of the Humanist period, although without serifs:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnston_(typeface)</figcaption></figure>

    The Revolution period, on the other hand, continued experimenting with what type could do.

    The De Stijl movement in particular explored the idea of the alphabet (and other forms or art) as entirely comprised of perpendicular elements:

    <figure><figcaption>Doesburg (1717), https://zaidadi.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/de-stijl-in-general/</figcaption></figure><figure><figcaption>Forgive the bright pink aspect of this. It’s my lighting!</figcaption></figure>

    Computer-Optimized Fonts

    The low resolution of early monitors and printers meant that fonts needed to be composed entirely of straight lines to display well.

    Wim Crouwel created the New Alphabet (1967) font type for CRT monitors:

    <figure><figcaption>http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-24196.html</figcaption></figure>

    Zuzana Licko and Rudy VanderLans created the type foundry Emigre, which includes Licko’s Lo-Res (1985) font:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.myfonts.com/person/Zuzana_Licko/</figcaption></figure>

    Matthew Carter created the first web fonts in 1996 for Microsoft, Verdana (sans serif) and Georgia (serif):

    <figure></figure><figure><figcaption>From Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verdana and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_(typeface)</figcaption></figure>

    Imperfect Type

    With the freedom from the physicality of the medium (such as lead type or wood type) that came with computers, some font designers began experimenting with imperfect types.

    Deck made Template Gothic (1990), which looks like it had been stencilled:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template_Gothic</figcaption></figure>

    Makela made the Dead History (1990) font using vector manipulation of the existing fonts Centennial and VAG Rounded:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.emigre.com/Fonts/Dead-History</figcaption></figure>

    And Rossum and Blokland made Beowulf (1990) by changing the programming of PostScript fonts to randomize the locations of points in letters:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.fontfont.com/fonts/beowolf</figcaption></figure><figure></figure>

    Workhorse Fonts

    Also during the 1990s, some folks were working on fonts that were uncomplicated and functional. Licko’s Eaves pair, with their small X-heights, are good for use in larger sizes:

    <figure></figure><figure><figcaption>https://www.emigre.com/Fonts/Mrs-Eaves (1990) and https://www.emigre.com/Fonts/Mr-Eaves-Sans-and-Modern (2009)</figcaption></figure>

    Smeijer’s Quadraat (1992) started as a small serif font, with various weights and alternatives (sans and sans condensed) added to the family over time:

    <figure><figcaption>https://www.fontfont.com/fonts/quadraat</figcaption></figure>

    Majoor’s Scala (1990) is another simple, yet complete, typeface family:

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FF_Scala</figcaption></figure>

    Finally, at the turn of the century, Frere-Jones created the Gotham (2000) typeface. Among other places, it featured prominently in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign.

    <figure><figcaption>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotham_(typeface)</figcaption></figure>

    Terminology

    In an effort to better remember various suggestions and terms used throughout the Font portion of Thinking With Fonts, I created a terminology sheet.

    <figure></figure>

    I’m most likely to forget that there’s multiple different items which can be understood to be quotes, and how to use them. Additionally, that larger X-heights are easier to read at small sizes.

    Common Fonts?

    I started making a list of common fonts, but quickly realized that this was a complex and difficult task. I’m including what I made for completeness, but it seems like a superfamily (like Open Sans) will be fine for most of my work.

    <figure></figure>

    What’s next for me in Typography and Visual Design?

    The book discusses Text next, after an exercise in creating modular letterforms on a grid. I’m looking forward to it, but I do need a break from it for now.

    I’ve started trying to mimic existing visual designs (from the collectui.com website), as many folks have suggested it’d be the best way to get a feel for what works and how to do it. I’ll likely talk more about that here, once I’m further along in that process.

    <iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fupscri.be%2Ff51076%3Fas_embed%3Dtrue&amp;dntp=1&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fupscri.be%2Ff51076%2F&amp;image=https%3A%2F%2Fucarecdn.com%2Fa012775d-9666-4b2e-8ea6-c128f754667b%2F&amp;key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&amp;type=text%2Fhtml&amp;schema=upscri" width="800">https://medium.com/media/b85dfbb5286d8a25cf2e754b9462cf45/href</iframe>

    Thinking With Type: Fonts was originally published in Prototypr on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

    Visual Design: how does one learn it?

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 22, 2017 12:44 AM

    A lot of companies out there seem to want UX visual design skills more than they want UX research skills. I’ve often felt like I’m missing something important and useful by not having a strong grounding in visual design, and have been searching far and wide for some ideas of how to learn it.

    One of the more interesting suggestions I have had relates to typography: many websites have typography and grid principles incorporated into them, so that is a good place to start. I’ve also had a number of suggestions to just make things, with pointers to where to get ideas of what to make. Below are the suggestions that make the most sense to me.

    Typography to start?

    A helpful fellow volunteer (Tezzica at Behance and other places — trained in graphic design with a UX aspect at MassArt) at the UX Fair offered me a number of useful ideas, including the strong recommendation that I read the book called “Thinking With Type”, by Ellen Lupton. This books is, if nothing else, a very entertaining introduction to the various types and type families. There is the history of various fonts and types, descriptions of the pieces of a piece of type, and examples both good and bad (she calls the latter “type crimes” and explains why they are type crimes). I’m only 1/3 of the way through it, so I’m sure there’s a lot more to it.

    Tezzica also suggested that I take the SkillShare course by the same author, Typography that Works. Given that I currently have free access, I am in fact doing that. Some of what we’ve covered, I knew from previous courses (grids, mostly), and some recapped a bit of what I’ve read in the book thus far. Reminders and different types of media are really useful.

    I’m unexpectedly bemused by the current section, in which we are to start designing a business card. While I found the ‘business card’ size in Inkscape, I’m not completely sure that I’m managing to understand how to make the text do what I want it to do. I suspect that a lot of visual/graphic design is in figuring out how to make the tools do what you want, and then developing a better feel for ‘good’ vs ‘bad’ with practice! (I’m currently playing with Gravit Designer, which is a great deal easier to use while still being vector graphics.)

    I’ve also had a chat with one of the folks I interviewed about getting a job in Boston, Sam, who had gotten a job between me talking to him and interviewing him. He also strongly suggested typography, and seems to have already worked through a lot of the problems I’m struggling with: not a lot of understanding of how visual design works, but a strong pull toward figuring it out.

    Another thing that Tezzica mentioned was assignments she’d had in school where basically they had to play around with type. In one, the challenge was to make a bunch of graphics which were basically combining letters of two different typefaces into a single thing, or a ‘combined letterform’.

    What do graphic design students do?

    Tezzica suggested that it would be useful to peruse Behance for students of RISD and MassArt and see where the samples look similar, and potentially identify the assignments from classes at those schools. I have thus far not been successful in this particular endeavor.

    Another possible way to find assignments is to peruse tumblr or pintrest and see if any old assignments or class schedules are still there. Also thus far unsuccessful!

    Both Tezzica and Sam suggested doing daily challenges (on Behance, since the accounts there don’t require someone else to invite you) using ideas from dailyui.co or dribble. Tezzica also suggested taking a look at common challenge solutions and seeing if there’s an interesting and different way to do it. Tezzica also pointed out the sharpen.design website and its randomized design prompts.

    Sam suggested taking a website that I like the look of, and trying to replicate it in my favorite graphic design tool (this will probably end up being Inkscape, even though it’s not as user-friendly as I’d like), and pointed out that it could go onto my portfolio with an explanation of what I was thinking while I did it.

    Coursework

    Tezzica suggested a Hand Lettering course by Timothy Goodman and a Just Make Stuff course by him and Jessica Walsh (this one being largely about ‘making something already’). She also suggested Nicholas Felton’s Data Visualization courses (introduction to data visualization, and designing with processing). Both are on Skillshare.

    Sam suggested I watch everything I can from John McWade on Lynda.com, and a graphic design foundations: typography course also on lynda.com.

    Other training methods

    Finally, Sam recommended taking screenshots and making notes of what I notice about sites that are interesting or effective and why.

    This reminds me a bit of my periodic intent to notice what design patterns and informational architecture categorization methods websites use.

    Mostly, I need to train my eye and my hand, both of which require practice. Focused practice, and I think between Sam and Tezzica, I have a good sense of where to go with it. At the moment, I’m focusing on the Thinking With Type book and course, as otherwise I’ll overwhelm myself.

    I’m a researcher and interaction designer who’s been teaching myself UX for nearly two years.

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on November 09, 2017 11:28 PM

    I’m a researcher and interaction designer who’s been teaching myself UX for nearly two years. I’ve recently started trying to learn IA, and have been looking for jobs in the Boston area for most of that time. I’m not really sure what I’m looking for from a mentor, other than perhaps sympathy for the amount of difficult finding a job has been and maybe connections? (https://suzannehillman.com — for the curious)

    What have I been doing lately?

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on October 25, 2017 07:56 PM

    I’ve been up to a lot of different things, focused mostly on increasing my chances of getting a job.

    Organizing my links

    I have a lot of UX-related links. They aren’t even all in the same place, as some are in bookmarks, some are in OneTab, and some are in email.

    To handle this problem, and to offer others the chance to benefit from them, I’ve been sorting them into Enboard pages:

    If anyone has any thoughts on how to better organize these, I’m all ears. Especially the UX Beginners one, as it’s becoming unwieldy.

    After I finish sorting the ones I have, I hope to ask some folks about their preferred terms for things and organization preferences (as per Information Architecture, aka IA) and improve the organization that way.

    Online Courses

    Skill Share

    I’ve been taking an IA course on skillshare (https://www.skillshare.com/classes/UX-Series-Designing-Web-Navigation/503660567/) which has been decent. Unfortunately, it appears that the course instructor isn’t paying attention to it anymore, so it’s not possible to get answers to questions or ask for broken things to be fixed. Even so, though, it has been useful guidance and practice.

    Skill share is free for a two month trial period, and if you get your friends to sign up, you get an additional free month per friend once they pay for their first month.

    O’reilly Safari

    I used the two week free trial of O’Reilly’s Safari to get a quick introduction to Sketch (https://www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/working-with-the/9781491998748/). This was amazing, as it didn’t require me to do visual design as past of learning Sketch, and the instructor is excellent at making sure to explain things, including the need to be organized and prepared before jumping into Sketch.

    I also used it for Success Skills for Introverts (https://www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/success-skills-for/9781491930700/) which was useful for concepts like:

    <figure><figcaption>Filling this out ahead of time makes it a lot easier to engage in quick, useful conversations. It also means that you have good back and forth, and are much more likely to make connections.</figcaption></figure>
    • Meeting preparation. Some of the things that hadn’t already occurred to me or I have trouble remembering included: asking if there is an agenda (to help keep things on track) and offering to make one if there is not, figure out something to say within the first 5 minutes of the meeting — aka the First Five Minute Rule (so you don’t get stuck in a position of never saying anything or being heard from), practice the heck out of your presentation (and make sure you say it aloud, whether to yourself or to a friend), and making sure you know why you’re there and what you can contribute. (https://www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/success-skills-for/9781491930700/video217196.html)

    Joe Natoli’s Portfolio Course at Give Good UX

    Finally, I’m about halfway through an excellent, concrete and straightforward course which should help improve the user experience of my (and your!) portfolio (https://wispfox.wixsite.com/hillmanconsulting/portfolio — the one I’m working on, not yet official). It costs a bit under $90, which is not bad at all. https://learn.givegoodux.com/courses/enrolled/217467 — I’m at the point of starting to make changes based on this course and on feedback from someone I had a chat with from http://designmentors.org/.

    Unfortunately, I’m unable to make the live chat for the course, as I’ll be at AthenaHealth’s hackathon in Watertown (http://athenahackathon.com/).

    I’m planning to write up a Medium post about portfolios after I finish this course. Maybe it’ll help others more than most such articles seem to?

    What about Visual Design? And Quantitative Research?

    I’m also trying to figure out the best way for me to learn Visual/Graphic Design. I’m currently hunting through SkillShare’s offerings, to start something after I finish my current courses. I have some idea of the basic stuff from the Coursera course I took on Design Principles (https://www.coursera.org/learn/design-principles/home/week/2), but I’d like to have stronger skills for contexts like my portfolio and to be able to say that I have experience with basic visual design when job hunting. Many jobs in the Boston area want visual design skills and already have folks who do research.

    Similarly, I’d like to better understand how to incorporate my existing quantitative research skills from graduate school into my UX practice. At the moment, I’m perusing a PDF of “Measuring the User Experience” by Tom Tullis. Lots of people suggested it! I have also obtained “Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research” by Jeff Sauro and James R. Lewis as I suspect that it’ll be useful for someone with a statistical background like myself.

    Projects

    Recycle Bot

    The Recycle Bot toy project I’m mentoring Radhika Sundararaman on is proceeding slowly. Our free Axure licenses expired before we did usability testing, so we translated it to InVision using screenshots from the Axure shares we’d published (you cannot access your Axure files when your license expires).

    We’ve since done a pilot test (with each other) and will be making some changes to our scripts and tasks. Due to the expiry of Axure, we won’t be making any of the obvious changes that came up during the pilot test.

    If I find time, I may see about adjusting some of what’s in InVision to be less inconsistent with itself. We hadn’t originally figured out how to make it possible for us both to work on the project in InVision at the same time, so I’d been talking Radhika through some of the problems and confusions she ran into (sadly without the option to see her screen and what she was trying to do). We since managed to share her prototype with me, but it’s a lot of work to change the screenshots after the fact.

    We’ll be looking for a few people to do usability sessions with soon, and in cases where they are people we know well, will see about having the other person work with them to avoid some bias.

    Newbies First Jobs in Greater Boston

    I’ve presented to the board, but they are currently focusing on the UX Fair that’s coming up early next month.

    Folks who weren’t at the meeting I presented at offered feedback on the summary I sent to the president of the board. This was a bit awkward for a couple of reasons:

    • I hadn’t realized that I was writing something to be shown to people who weren’t there, so it was much less well fleshed out than I would have liked.
    • I cannot reply to the list, so any replies I give go to the people I’m replying to, not everyone.
    • When I asked the president to forward one of my replies, I wasn’t cc’d. So I have no idea what, if anyone, was said in reply.

    That said, much of what they offered was useful. Some seemed to be assuming that I was focusing only on what I personally could do to get a job, when I’m hoping to help others as well. My current plan is to figure out how to follow-up on those points after the UX Fair.

    I’ve also emailed with the XX-UX folks in San Francisco, as they have a mentoring program going. I’m aiming to get an idea of what they are doing, have done, and what has been working for them. They did suggest that I needed two other folks to work with on the mentoring idea (or creating an XX-UX branch in Boston), which has been difficult. I’ve had people say they want to help out with this project, but they end up being too busy for one reason or another. Alas!

    PatternFly

    The user dropdown research I was doing with Patternfly has turned into research on UI specifications for standard menu design patterns (https://github.com/patternfly/patternfly-design/issues/464). I should be able to use some of the information I gathered on the user dropdown, and the results of this ought to be related to that work.

    Simmetri

    I’ve been chatting with a couple of guys who are working on a tool called Simmetri (http://simmetri.com/) to help non-developers create VR worlds. We met at MIT’s Reality, Virtually hackathon (http://www.realityvirtuallyhack.com/), which was otherwise not a good experience for me for reasons not MIT’s fault.

    I am _so happy_ this tool exists, and spent a couple of hours downtown a week or so ago offering them feedback on the things that tripped me up, and offered suggestions for areas where different organization was needed. The UI was initially based on Photoshop, which isn’t really an interface I’ve ever liked.

    I don’t know what the best practices are around designing a design tool, especially a 3-D design tool or one that is meant to connect with VR devices! I also would want to identify their competitors to figure out what their unique contribution in this space might be (and see what others have done for their interface).

    They are currently looking for funding (in the art/creative space) from friends and family, and indicated an interest in bringing me on if they get it. I typically would avoid a startup, but I _like_ these two guys a lot, and they seem like they’d be reasonable about the fact that I don’t know all pieces of the UX umbrella.

    Information Architecture on a friend’s game’s site

    I’ve not yet started this, in part due to the sheer number of other things I’m working on, and in part because I’d like to finish the IA course I’m taking. However, a friend has suggested that his site isn’t well organized and would like my help. I definitely like the idea of getting real IA experience, so that sounds good to me.

    This friend has already found a couple of people in his gaming group (using his system) who would be happy to talk to me. Very nice!

    Querki

    I’ve not forgotten this project! I have been a bit stumped about how to approach it after I finish up with some of the things I’m working on. I have an ok understanding of what it’s about and for, but no strong sense of the users and their needs (which may mean that I need to watch some of the users who are not the developer use it?), nor the best areas to tackle first.

    I think part of the problem is that it is a pretty nebulous concept (“support and encourage collaboration about and sharing of information within communities.”), which makes it more difficult to approach.

    I shall keep it in the back of my head, but for the meantime it’s on a back burner.

    Job Hunting

    Red Hat

    Looks like Red Hat is only looking for mid-level interaction designers, as they’ve got lots of junior and senior level people. At least based on the most recent opening I saw, this appears to mean at least 5 years of experience.

    I’ll keep my eye on their jobs, but it’s looking unlikely that I’ll be working in UX at Red Hat any time soon.

    Vitamin T

    I’m happy with Vitamin T as a recruiting agency. They talk to me when I indicate interest in a position they send me, quite quickly.

    No idea if it’ll go anywhere, but they’re passing my info along about a contract position in Waltham.

    The Creative Group

    I’m pretty happy with The Creative Group, too. They also want to talk to me when they have things that relate, and the person I most recently talked to specifically suggested that I get in touch if I see something I want to apply to. They may have contacts that I do not, and all.

    Other

    Job hunting is frustrating. I’ll have the two years most junior positions seem to want as of February. Maybe that’ll help.

    And I do need to finish updating my portfolio based on the course and the feedback I got from the designmentor.org guy.

    Networking

    I’ve been going to a decent number of UXPA and Boston Chi events, although not all of either of them. Getting home from Boston proper isn’t easy to do, since commuter busses have stopped by then.

    It’s really odd to have the major project I’m working on be the one about finding a first UX job. People ask me what I’m working on, and I find it a little awkward to talk about given that I am myself looking.

    I’ve given my card and suggested resources to lots of other newbies, though. I have a lot of info after almost two years of this! Too bad I’m not getting paid to help my fellow newbies. ;)

    I’ve also been using the #ux tag more on Twitter after attending the UX Careers Handbook presentation by Cory Lebson. Among many other things, he pointed out that it was a very useful way to be seen as involved with UX. I shall get that book at some point, because it does a good job of helping one keep track of the things involved in the job hunting process.

    I’m doing a lot of things!

    I sometimes forget. No wonder I feel overwhelmed at times.

    I think my focus needs to be threefold: Finish the IA course. Fix my portfolio and make it be the new official one. Finish up the project with Radhika.

    The portfolio part is definitely the most daunting piece. I’ve been working on that for so long! I guess it means I have a good grasp of what I’ve worked on?

    “The Designership”

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on October 12, 2017 12:06 AM

    “The Designership

    Will check that out!

    I’ve also been fond of UX Mastery, and the Junior UX Community slack.

    I’m in the middle of a career change, and turned 40 a week ago.

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on October 11, 2017 11:55 PM

    I’m in the middle of a career change, and turned 40 a week ago. I’ve been working on UX projects in my own time, and trying to get paid work in UX has been quite difficult. I think part of the problem is that there are a huge number of new UXers in the area I’m in, which makes it harder to stick out as worth someone’s time.

    Finding a mentor is _hard_!

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on October 11, 2017 11:50 PM

    Finding a mentor is _hard_!

    Then again, I’m not entirely clear on what a mentor is supposed to offer a mentee. I’m currently working on a simple project with someone currently in school for technical communications, which feels like mentoring even though I’ve not yet managed to get a paid UX position yet (I’m a career changer).

    Just a strange position to be in!

    Running Sapphire Radeon RX 560 on Fedora 27 beta (follow up)

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on October 09, 2017 05:45 AM
    Following the previous blog and some investigation, it turned out the kernel package from Mystro256 COPR repository based on agd5f kernel branch (one of AMD developers) resolves the blank screen issue. That could trigger a problem for users having a new AMD graphic hardware so perhaps a warning should be written on the release. Perhaps having one of contributors be part of kernel team bringing these improvement until those patches arrive to the mainline kernel for a better user experience.

    Past the issue, the desktop experience with Radeon RX 560 was tremendously improved compared to the retired GTX 460 v2. Gnome on Wayland on Fedora runs smooth showing how far the open source amdgpu driver went through compared to previous years. That was also the opportunity to run a vulkan based smoke test demo on RADV, which is a counterpart of glxgears.

    Overall the card is excellent once missing software are installed.

    Running Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 560 4GB on Fedora 27 Beta

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on October 08, 2017 07:08 PM
    I bought a Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 560 4GB to replace the broken Nvidia GTX 460 v2 after a long years of service. It is then my first ever dedicated AMD based video-card for a desktop.

    The boot sequence on Fedora 27 hit a problem: a plain blank screen suggesting the card is not yet supported. Looking at Phoronix website revealed one of possible requirement missed: LLVM 5.0 which is currently not available to Fedora repository save a failed built. I filed a bug report to address the issue. Hopefully that will land on time for the official release of Fedora 27.

    Considering AMD desktop card

    Posted by Luya Tshimbalanga on October 03, 2017 08:53 PM
    My Nvidia GTX 460 v2 card just died after six years of service after attempting to restore it. It was the last known Nvidia card that could work out of box with open source driver.
    I have used Nvidia for a long time but the behaviours from the company prompt me to no longer consider that option. Currently the GPU market is very expensive to afford a good AMD card.
    Additionally, the nine years old motherboard needs a replacement as the venerable AMD Phenom II 940X shows its age. The onboard Geforce 8300 is troublesome to run.

    For now, I use a laptop until I can afford a powerful custom built desktop this time will full AMD hardware.

    Inkscape Workshop for the Young Eco Ambassadors

    Posted by Sirko Kemter on September 28, 2017 04:37 PM

     

    After a long time it is time for another Inkscape Workshop here in Phnom Penh. This time the audience are young “ecopreneurs”. The environmental situation in Cambodia isnt the best, especially the situation with the trash. It is really a problem, if you drive trough the city, you seeing that Khmer always have a coffee or sugar can juice on their motobike hanging, that is a ot of plastic which ends up directly on the street. The effect of that is it flowing around when the rain comes, the channels are full of them it stinks and it always ends in the chain if you drive with the bicycle during the rain. So not nice!
    This young people, want to change that. They do events educating people, what they can do better and founding businesses with an higher ecological impact and sometimes they just going on the street and collect the trash by them self. So a good thing to do.
    This workshop shall help them to reach more people. We will do it for two days, the first day will be an introduction to Inkscape, with an practical part where we draw an trash bin. The second day will an introduction to poster design, where we work out the principles for it and design with Inkscape a few posters.

    Merken

    Enabling New Contributors

    Posted by Máirín Duffy on September 27, 2017 08:57 PM

    I had a random idea today and wanted to share it in case anybody has thought about this too, or tried something like it, or could add on to the idea.

    How We Onboard Today

    I onboard, mentor, and think a lot about enabling new contributors to open source software. Traditionally in Fedora, we’ve called out a ‘join’ process for people to join Fedora. If you visit join.fedoraproject.org, you’ll get redirected to a wiki page that gives broad categories of skill sets and suggests Fedora teams you might want to look at to see if you could join them.
    I started thinking about this because I’m giving a keynote about open source and UX at Ohio Linux Fest this weekend. One of the sections of the talk basically reviews where / how to find UX designers to help open source projects. Some of the things I mention that have proven effective are internships (Outreachy, formal Red Hat intern program, etc.), training, and design bounties / job boards. Posting UX assistance on say join.fedoraproject.org? Didn’t come up. I can’t tell you if I’ve actually onboarded folks from that workflow – certainly possible. My best success ratio in onboarding contributors in terms of them feeling productive and sticking around the community for a while, though, is with the methods I listed above – not a general call for folks of a certain discipline to come to the design team.
    In fact, one of the ways we onboard people to the design team is to assign them a specific task, with the thought that they can learn how our team / processes / tools work by doing, and have a task to focus on for getting help from another member of the team / mentor.

    Successful Onboarding Methods are Task-Oriented

    Thinking about this, these successful recruitment methods of new contributors all focus on tasks, not skills:

    • Internships – internships have a set time period focused on the completion of a particular project, scoped for that duration and complexity, that has been documented for the intern. This is such that digging through archives of proposed Outreachy and GSoC projects unearths (if it were still current) a great set of directions that any new contributor could use to get started.
    • Training – in my experience, when training folks without UX experience in UX, they had a specific task they were working on already, knew they needed the skill to complete it, and sought out help with the skill. A task was the driver to seek out the skill.
    • Job board postings – (e.g., like opensourcedesign.net/jobs) – they are focused on a specific task / thing to do.
    • Bounties – super task-focused!

    If onboarding new contributors works well when those new contributors are put to work right away on a specific, assigned task with a well-defined scope, why do we attempt to recruit by categories of skills with loose pointers to teams (that get out of date), instead of tasks? You might have someone fired up to do *something*, but they’re redirected to a wiki page, to a mailing list, to wait a few days for something to respond and tell them “hi, welcome!” without actually helping them figure out what it is they could do.

    An Idea For join.fedoraproject.org

    If you’re with me here, up to this point… here’s the idea. I haven’t done it yet. I want to hear your feedback on it first.
    I thought about redoing join.fedoraproject.org as a bounty board, really a job posting board, but let’s call it a bounty board. Bounties are very well defined tasks. I did a talk on how to create an effective bounty a while back, here’s the high-level crash-course:

    1. Set the Stage. Give the narrative around the task / project. What is the broader story around what the software / website / project / etc. does? Who does it help? How does it make the world a better place? Most importantly, what’s the problem to be solved that the bounty taker will work on, and how does it fit into that broader narrative?
    2. State the Mission. Make a clear statement at what exactly the bounty is – state what the successful completion of the bounty would look like / work.
    3. Provide a Specification with Clear Examples. Give all the details needed – the specification – for the completion of the work. Is there a specific process with steps they should follow? Provide those steps. A specific language,or a specific length, or a certain number of items? Make this all clear.
    4. Provide Resources and Tools. What are the resources that would be the most useful in completing this bounty? Where is the IRC channel for the project? The mailing list? Are there any design asset / source files they will need? How about style guidelines / specifications to follow? Will they need to create any accounts to submit their work? Where? Are there any tutorials / videos / documentation / blog posts that explains the technology of interest that they could refer to in order to familiarize themselves with the domain they’ll be working in? Link out to all this stuff.
    5. Outline the Benefits. Clearly and explicitly state what’s in it for them to take on this bounty. Job sites do (or at least, they try) this too. You’ll become a Fedora contributor! You’ll get a Fedora account and membership in the team, which will get you an email forward! When I did bounties, I sent handwritten thank you notes with some swag through the mail. You’ll gain skills in X, Y, or Z. You’ll make life better for our users. Some of this is obvious, but it helps to state it explicitly!
    6. Ground Rules and Contact Info. How does someone claim the bounty? Do they need to get an account and assign it to themselves? What happens if they don’t do anything and time has passed, can it be opened up to others interested? (We had a 48-hour rule before we passed on to the next person when we did this on the Design Team.) Who is the contact person / mentor for the assignment? How can they contact that person?
    7. Show Off the Work! – After a bounty is completed, show off the work! Make a post, on a blog or mailing list or wherever, to tell the story of how the person who took the bounty completed it and give a demo or show off their work. (This is a big part of the benefits too 🙂 ) This not only gives the new contributor a boost, it’s encouraging to other potential new contributors as they can see that new contributors are valued and can achieve cool things, and it’s also helpful in that it shows folks who haven’t set up bounties that maybe they should because it works!

    I was thinking about setting this up as a pagure repo, and using the issues section for the actual bounty posting. The notion of status that applies to bugs / issues also applies to bounties, as well as assigning, etc. So maybe it would work well. Issues don’t explicitly manage the queue of bounty takers (should the 1st claimer fall through) but that could be managed through the comments. Any one from any Fedora team could post a bounty in this system. The git repo part of the pagure repo could be used for hosting some general bounty assets / resources – maybe a guide on how to write a good bounty with templates and cool graphics to include, maybe some basic instructions that would be useful for all bounty takers like how to create a new FAS account.

    What about easy fix?

    We do have a great resource, fedoraproject.org/easyfix, that is similar to this idea in that it uses issues/tickets in a manner geared towards new contributors. It provides a list of bugs that have been denoted as easy to fix by project owners all in one place.
    The difference here though, is that these are raw bugs. They don’t have all the components of a bounty as explained above, and looking through some of the active and open ones, you could not get started right away without flagging down the right person and getting an explanation of how to proceed or going back and forth on the ticket. I think one of the things that makes bounties compelling is that you can read them and get started right away.
    Bounties *do* take a long time to formulate and document. It is a very similar process to proposing a project for an internship program like Outreachy or Google Summer of Code. I bet, though, I could go around different teams in Fedora and find projects that would fit this scope quite well and start building out a list. Maybe as teams have direct success with a program like this, they’d continue to use it and it’d become self-sustaining. I don’t know, though. Clearly, I stopped doing the design team bounties after 4 or 5 because of the amount of work involved. 🙂 But maybe if it was a regular thing, we did one every month or something… not sure.

    What do you think?

    Does this idea make sense? Did I miss something (or totally miss the point)? Do you have a great idea to make it better? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

    Further on the UX hiring process

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on September 22, 2017 09:55 PM

    Hi again!

    The previous post on this topic offered an overall summary of what I’ve been learning in my conversations with folks. Now I’d like to go into a little more detail on some of the topics.

    So what should I learn?

    Identifying the best areas to focus is probably one of the hardest tasks, especially for those folks who are not able to afford to get a degree or do a bootcamp like General Assembly. The guidance offered through official programs is not to be underestimated!

    What do you already know?

    You almost certainly have experience in _something_ that falls into UX design. Whether it’s researching how to do something, drawing things in your spare time, talking to someone new, explaining a skill or idea to someone else, or trying to use a new piece of software: these are all applicable to UX in some way or another.

    The way I like to think about UX research and interactive design breaks down like this (see my quick and dirty handout from a recent talk I did):

    <figure></figure>

    Everything informs everything else, from the information you gather at the beginning, to the analysis with other folks, to the early sketchy design possibilities you create, through to iterating on your design based on feedback you get from stakeholders and users.

    When these designs need to be produced in higher and higher fidelity as your team gets closer to something that works well for the stakeholders, there will likely be continued iterations based on what’s actually feasible and plausible. (I am not as experienced in the visual design aspect of the UX process, so I cannot offer as much structure around that part.)

    What do you like to do, what do you need to learn?

    Figure out what you know how to do or could easily learn. With that information, you can focus on what you know how to do and how to integrate it into a project, and then on improving any areas you specifically want to learn.

    I personally need more practice in visual design and data visualization: I’m not especially familiar with visual design or otherwise making things visually approachable, and these both seem useful to at least have a basis in.

    I’m working on identifying the best ways for me to improve these skills, and found that working on badges with Fedora folks helped a bit. Among other things, it meant that I had the opportunity to ask what people did when they did specific things that I might otherwise not have encountered (such as specific keystrokes in design programs).

    For other folks, it might be wise to learn the basics of HTML and CSS. Even if you do not wish to write the code for your designs, it is immensely helpful to understand how programming works.

    Depending on one’s level of familiarity with these, something like https://www.codecademy.com/ might be your best bet. These are free courses that let you see what you are doing as you go along. You might also appreciate https://codepen.io, which will update with your changes as you go along, and which supports HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

    If you’re not familiar with how to phrase things, maybe you want to work on writing content for your designs. Maybe pretend that you are talking to someone who has never run into the thing you are talking about, or to someone who is too busy to give you more than a 30 seconds to a minute to read whatever you have to say. Figure out the most concise, but clear, way to say whatever you need to say. Even if you don’t want to write the content for your designs, it’s really important to be able to express yourself simply and clearly. Words are important, along with visuals and structure.

    If you are looking to get into research, it would behoove you to learn some about quantitative research, not just qualitative. One of the major points that folks looking for quantitative researchers want is the ability to tell if the company is measuring success effectively.

    Possible places to get cheap but decent classes include Lynda and Coursera. I’ve done some Coursera courses, specifically “Human-Centered Design: An Introduction”, ”Design Principles: An Introduction”, and “Information Design”.

    Whatever it is that you need to learn more about, there is probably a way to do it online (remember to check Youtube!). However, it is often the things one needs the most help in that are the hardest to figure out how to learn on one’s own. Knowing the terminology is important for any successful google search!

    (Note: I suspect that offering classes in basic aspects of each piece of the UX process would be a good value for the UXPA boston group, given the content of the previous paragraph. Not everyone learns from videos/written instruction very well)

    Do a project. Any project

    In my experience, the best way to learn is to find a specific design project — really any design project is fine to start out — and start working on it. If you have friends who write programs, see if they want your help. If you have friends with lots and lots of ideas, ask them to let you help design one of them. If neither of these are the case, consider an area in which you wish that something existed, or in which you wish a piece of software were easier to use. At this point, it matters less if your project goes live — although that’s always preferred if possible — and more that you are working on something.

    Take lots of screenshots and notes and keep track of what you’ve tried, what worked, and what didn’t work. These will be useful when it comes time to create your portfolio!

    Remember: the point of your first project is to learn, rather than to succeed, and most people learn the best from failure. Failing at something isn’t actually bad. Indeed, it’s almost expected, since you’re new at it. Figuring out where things went wrong is the important part.

    That said, it can be difficult to know what to do at any stage of a project, especially if you’ve never tackled one before. This is where having someone you can check in with is invaluable. Not only is UX design not really a solitary activity, but having someone to help nudge you on the right path when you get stuck is fantastic.

    If you have a mentor, that’s great. If not, see if you can find other folks who are also job hunting to work with. Chances are good that you are each better at different pieces of the project, and this will provide you both with additional experience.

    For a possible mentors, join http://designmentors.org/ (credit to David Simpson for this!) and get in touch with someone who looks useful for your needs.

    If you’re still struggling to figure out a design idea, this page might be helpful.

    If you’re not sure how to approach a project, this site talks about the whiteboard design challenge that sometimes happens in interviews, and is a decent overview of what a design project could involve.

    (Note: Offering folks ways to get in touch with others who are looking for their design projects to work on might be a useful feature. Similarly, ways to find mentors.)

    Which tools?

    In general, you will need to use a tool of some sort for your design project. Paper prototypes are amazing, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, they are difficult to test out remotely, and rely on excellent drawing skills and handwriting to be easily used for prototypes.

    There are a large number of options for tools in the UX design space.

    Mockups/Prototyping

    Some are focused on being easy to use to make low and medium-fidelity mockups and prototypes (Balsamiq was my first tool, for example. Axure is easy to start out, but a bit complicated to learn to turn into a prototype). Some are specifically meant to help folks turn their designs into prototypes (like Invision, which is free and supports uploading existing designs) and often support collaboration quite easily. Others are more on the visual design side of things, although sometimes still include fairly easy ways to make mockups and prototypes (Sketch is extremely popular, but mac-only).

    Adobe’s creative cloud service includes a lot of commonly used graphic design tools, whether photoshop (for which Gimp is a decent free and open source substitute, if poorly named), illustrator (vector graphics; try Inkscape for a free and open source substitute), indesign (as far as I can tell it’s about design for publishing online and off? Not sure of the best free equivalent) or the recently added experience design (XD beta, again not sure of an equivalent, although I think it may be meant to compete with Sketch).

    The ones I’ve listed above are the most frequently mentioned in job applications, especially Sketch and Adobe creative cloud. Axure and Invision are also quite common. There are a _lot_ of other newer (and often free/beta) options, although I’ve not done much exploring of those.

    (note: classes/mentors for basic introductions to the most common design tools might be useful, especially for those who are not already familiar with Adobe Creative Cloud. Not everyone learns from videos/written instruction well)

    Other tools and techniques

    You may also want to investigate tools for mind mapping (I like MindMeister, free for a small number of maps), which can be useful to keep track of relevant ideas and concepts. Or for remote affinity mapping (I like Realtimeboard, free for a small number of boards) and other sticky-note/whiteboard-based activities.

    There are a lot of other techniques that could be good to learn, including task flows and journey maps.

    Many companies want folks with experience in the agile framework, so learning what that is and the various ways that design folk have figured out how to integrate into it would be useful.

    If you are not already familiar with style guides and pattern libraries, getting a basic understanding of those would be useful.

    Ok, I’ve done my first design. Now what?

    First, congratulations! That’s often the hardest part.

    Review your work

    Take a look at what you did with an eye toward improving. What do you want to learn more about? What do you need help with? Where do you feel you excelled?

    Read

    Take a look at various blogs in UX, as now that you’ve done your first project, you will likely start finding that those start making more sense to you. I found that reading various blogs and watching videos was overwhelming before I’d done a project, because I had no idea what was relevant.

    Twitter has a lot of fantastic UX folks, although who you want to follow may be partly location-based. I like Jared Spool, Joe Natoli, Luke Wroblewski, Mule Design Studio, Dana Chisnell, Sarah Mei, and What Users Do.

    http://52weeksofux.com/ is an excellent overview site that I really need to revisit myself, now that I’ve got some experience in UX.

    I’m also fond of UX Mastery, and the Nielsen Norman Group.

    There’s also a lot of good books out there!

    (note: a curated list of useful links and books would be really helpful!)

    Portfolio

    Your best bet would be to summarize what you did, whether as part of your portfolio or as preparation for your portfolio. Keep your eye out for things you would have done differently next time, as well as things you think worked out well. You want to describe your process, and at the same time tell a story about what you did and why. Remember to be clear on what you did and what your teammates did: as I’ve mentioned above, UX is typically a team process.

    If you want to write the HTML and CSS yourself, that’s fine. However, beware of the problem of running down rat holes to make things look perfect, and never actually creating a portfolio that you can share. That’s a major reason I’m moving away from a static website to Wix.com — it’s so much easier to do good design if I’m not also trying to write the code.

    Tell a story?

    I’ve had lots and lots of people say to tell a story, so I’ll share something about that. I had no idea what that actually _meant_ until I had a chance to a) dig deeper into what specifically folks were thinking about and b) see examples of this. One of my major problems is that writing a portfolio for a UX researcher is _hard_. You tend to have fewer pretty things to show folks than the typical graphic design portfolio might, and you may or may not have the design skills to make your portfolio pretty.

    To the best of my understanding, your story needs to include as much guidance for your reader as possible. Like everything else, use your nacient UX skills on your portfolio: guide your reader through it.

    Guide your reader

    Use Gestalt principles to help your reader know where to go next, and I recommend an overview (this links to my in-progress update for my website) of your major goals and results to act as guideposts.

    From this page: Include as much as possible of the STAR method in your portfolio to communicate what the situation is (goal of the project), what tasks and actions you accomplished (your UX toolkit of wireframing, usability testing, sitemaps…) and what the end results were (analytics, final designs, customer testimonials).

    Note that I’m still struggling with the best way to explain the end results in some of my projects, because they either were one shot things (through hackathons) or are on pause while underlying things are completed.

    I’ve got a portfolio, now what?

    Get someone to look at it! Just as in everything else, you want someone else to take a look because there will be something you’ve missed, or ways in which you are not as clear as you’d like.

    If that’s not an option, take a week or two, and then take another look at it. You’ll probably find typos and brainos (places where what you wrote doesn’t actually make sense), even though you are the one who originally wrote it.

    (note: I expect that offering folks portfolio feedback would be really helpful! I’ve personally gotten in touch with someone from designmentors.org and have a review pending)

    Do more design work!

    Find more projects to work on. Now that you have your first one under your belt, this will go more smoothly, and you likely will find it easier to identify areas to work on.

    If you happen to be able to find an internship in UX (say, Outreachy), take it! Guidance is amazing.

    Start looking for jobs

    This will help you get an idea of what the market looks like right now. It may help you decide what tools or skills to learn, or identify things you specifically _don’t_ want to do. And hey, you might find a job that looks good!

    Network!

    Honestly, I should have already said this, but this is easier when you have a little experience. At least in my case, having some basic knowledge makes it easier to talk to folks about UX.

    Better yet is if you have a specific goal in talking to folks. For example, since I’ve been collecting data about the hiring process in Boston, I’ve had no trouble contacting folks about interviewing them. You may be able to take the tactic of asking folks about what they do in UX, potentially allowing for the opportunity to learn more about UX at their company.

    Business (MBA) folk do something called an informational interview. In some cases, this appears to mean talking to folks about UX at their company. In others, it might involve the possibility of going to someone’s company and actually seeing how it works. As far as I can tell, your best bet is to see if you know anyone working at a company that includes UX folks and see if you can get any of them to introduce you. You can also message people on LinkedIn without a connection, but that may not work as well.

    Present on your project

    If you have the opportunity to present on a project you’ve done, take it. Presenting skills are very important in UX, and practice does help. Talking in front of a group of people can be scary, especially if you’re also trying to get them to hire you. Practice in a safer space, first, if you can.

    Be visible online

    If you don’t already exist online, you really should. Start a blog (I’m quite fond of Medium) about your UX experiences/learning/thoughts. Be active on twitter. Be visible in your UXness.

    What next?

    I’ll be chatting with more folks over the coming weeks, and will be speaking to the UXPA Boston board the first week of October. Watch this space!

    Website and portfolio design

    Posted by Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy) on September 16, 2017 06:30 PM

    I’ve been slowly moving my website from the official pelican-based version to an in-progress Wix-based version. I learned interesting things around current web development while using the Pelican version, but I found it difficult to implement the kinds of design choices I wanted to make. I also found it quite difficult to get a responsive design that _stayed_ responsive when I made changes to the CSS file.

    Wix is very nice for many design decisions, in large part because one can take a particular design element and put it wherever you want on the page. There is no futzing with the HTML or CSS, and no need to learn Python or Javascript.

    Given that I want my page to be welcoming and easy to follow, easily choosing specific design elements is vital.

    Tell a story!

    One of the most important aspects of a UX portfolio is demonstrating one’s UX skills. This means walking folks through your process and making it easy to follow and understand.

    One of my major challenges was (and is!) deciding how to structure my portfolio to offer the greatest ease of use without losing too many of the specific details. Upon the recommendation of one of the many recruiters I’ve spoken with, I’ve been adding an overview page to each piece of my projects:

    <figure><figcaption>In this version, I offer an overview and links to more details of some of the pieces.</figcaption></figure>

    If you compare this to the currently official version of my page, it’s a clear and huge difference in usability:

    <figure><figcaption>This doesn’t show the overall goal, what my role was, or offer much guidance. It’s also not physically structured for easy reading.</figcaption></figure>

    How to tell my story?

    One of my major struggles is with offering too much information. Too many details, and too little structure.

    I want people to know what I did! Unfortunately, if there’s not enough structure, they won’t read any of it. If there’s too much information, they won’ read any of it. So my major task is to take what I have and create overviews; not just for the main page of a project, but for sub pages.

    This is unfortunately not quick or easy! As a result, I’m working on bringing the overviews back to my pelican site as I make them, with the eventual goal of fully transitioning. Sadly, I have been unable to convince my pelican site to let me stack things horizontally. My impression is that this is one of the major improvements to my Wix site, so even though I’ll bring some of the ideas back to Pelican, they are simply not as well-designed there.

    I’ll be asking for feedback before I move over completely, of course. In the meantime, it’s pretty clear to me that my Wix site is just _better_. I’ll also be grabbing what I have at the Pelican site before ditching it, as I will worry that I’d lose information otherwise.

    Other changes?

    I’m also ditching the references to Cambio Buddies. It was a valuable and useful project, but I had very little guidance for what I was doing. I made a lot of mistakes, used techniques poorly, and am generally not happy with that project. Maybe it’s a mistake to remove my first project, but I just don’t like it.

    Some folks have suggested incorporating the ‘current’ and ‘complete’ design projects into a single area. I’m reluctant to do this, since the current projects are still in process: I don’t want to be presenting them as if they were finished when they are not.

    Similarly, folks have suggested getting rid of the design artifacts page. I’m not completely clear on why: they are in the Projects area, and it seems helpful to let folks get to a specific artifact quickly if they so desire.

    One of my early bits of feedback for the Pelican portfolio was a lack of process. I’m still not entirely clear on what was meant by that, although I suspect that the lack of overview may have been part of it.