Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dan Ariely -Predictably Irrational


I have been wanting to write a book review on Dan Ariely’s excellent book Predictably Irrational for a while now. Instead I will just say that is is a fantastic book that is absolutely worth reading for anyone and especially any designer and link to a few Ted Links.

A blog post on Ted by Dan Ariely about behavioral economics:

And two talks that cover some of the fundamentals of the book: and

All I can really say is that this book has given me a language to talk about and data to back up my long held skeptics about rationality.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Got 10-40 Servers? Want Free Software?

Sign up for a 1:1 interview with the System Center Essentials team and receive your choice of a Microsoft product from the available list.


IT administrators/engineers/managers in mid market
companies with 10-40 servers.


Participate in a 90 minute 1:1 interview with the System
Center essentials team.


E-mail or sign up at the Microsoft System Center booth in the orange area in the MT area. Or catch us at Twitter @MS_ITPro_UX

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Find us at Teched

Are you an IT Pro and at TechEd 2009 in LA? Then sign up for our Server & System Center User Interface study

Here is how to find us. We are in the orange section of the Technical Learning Center. The Technical Learning Center is where all the Microsoft booths are next to the expo.

We are here:


Go the left when you come in towards the orange section


And find Christian. I will most likely wear a white Microsoft t-shirt.


The back of the T-shirt says “@MS_ITPro_UX” which is the twitter name we are posting under.


I am always happy to talk, especially about your experience with our Server and System Center products, so if you see me, come chat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Are you an IT Pro and at TechEd 2009 in LA?

Help make Windows Server and System Center products better. Participate in this study at TechEd, help us, and get a little gift of appreciation.

Where & When
TechEd in LA May 11-15th

Location Update: please see Find us at Teched

How long will it take
This will take about an hour. Since we are scheduling this add-hoc, we have many open spots and at the time of day that suits you. Contact us (see below) and let’s set something up.

In order to make the best possible products for managing IT infrastructure it is crucial that we understand how you work in real life, what the real scenarios are, and where you want to go with your systems and processes. This particular activity is about impacting the future versions of Windows Server and System Center. It is about getting the common 'stuff' right and we need your help.

Who are we
We are User Researchers and User Experience Designers from Microsoft who work on Windows Server and on System Center products. We are currently working on WS2008 R2, SCE, SCCM, Service Manager and other similar products.

How to sign up
Most communication of this will happen via twitter @MS_ITPro_UX. You can sign up with either of the following tweets:

@MS_ITPro_UX TechEd study. Interested, contact me at TechED

@MS_ITPro_UX TechEd study. Interested, contact me at TechED. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday

The latter means those are the days you are most likely to be available. You can also give us a time you would like.

You can also contact us on email: chagelsr AT Microsoft DOT com. Please put “TechED Study” in the subject and give us the same information as above. Should we just contact you while at TechEd or is there a specific timeslot you are interested in. We will of course not send your email to anyone else.

You can also just come by the Windows Management Technologies Booth and we will make sure to post where we will be and you can sign up there.

And as a small thank you…
As a thank you for your time we will offer you a piece of Microsoft software. You will be able to select it from a list of pre-selected software. The only caveat is that in order to get the software you have to be a US citizen or have US Social Security Number. This is for Tax purposes. You are very welcome to sign up for this study without getting the gratuity.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

People who influenced how I think about design

There are a great many people whom have influenced how I think about design but there are two people whom I think have influenced me more than anyone when it comes to what design is rather than how to think about specific problems.

Victor Papanek

Victor Papanek, introduced to me by John Paulin in a class on accessible software, has given me the notion that as designers we have a moral imperative to make the world better.


One story about Papanek that forever changed my thinking is about car bumpers.

In the 1950’ies a lot of people died in traffic accidents due to poorly constructed cars. Someone would drive into a tree and the bumper would just fold and the people in the car would die. Congress held a hearing with the car manufacturers asking them to improve their cars to bring down the death toll. Congress got answers along the lines of “no, can’t do that”, “it is impossible to build a bumper that will withstand more than 15mph for a price that won’t make cars too expensive” and similar explanations playing on congress’ fear of curbing this booming industry. As the congress and industry people were leaving the building, walking down the stairs, a car came driving up on the pavement and slammed front first into the side of the building. Out got the driver, Victor Papanek, unhurt. Congress men stormed over to see this perculiar sight and learned that Papanek had built a bumper of 2 layers of 10 cent cans that could withstand a crash, as it just did, of 25 mph. The congress men turned around, went back into session and were a lot less lenient on the car company representatives.

I haven’t been able to actually verify the story, but nonetheless, it taught me that as designers we should never accept commonly held beliefs and it is our role to show the world what is really possible. We change the world by making and showing.

Donald Schön

For my thesis my professor, Peter Carstensen, suggested I read Donald Schön’s book The Reflective Practitioner. This was a mind opening book that shaped how I have come to think about design as an activity. We learn by having what Schön calls a ‘dialog with the material’ a phrase I have adopted and used many times to describe the design process.

picture: donald schon

In design we do not just iterate. We step into the problem and work in the problem, then we step out to gain perspective, challenge the problem and our assumptions and then step into the problem again with a fresh perspective and work in a changed direction. This is also why the practice of design crit is so fundamental to design. It is a help from peers to pull you out of the inner workings of a design to gain a new perspective, new insight about the problem before you dive back into the glory guts of the details.