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Sunday, February 20, 2005
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Sorry to be so quiet lately, but school (and paying for school) really has my full attention right now.
I’m only taking two classes this semester but I seem to have very little free time compared to last semester when I also took two classes. I have “Intro to Drawing” to thank — it’s a studio class and I’m starting to remember how much of my first stint in college was spent in studio classes instead of, say, sleeping.
Studio classes are huge time sinks for a number of reasons: in-class hours are usually twice that of a lecture class (six hours a week instead of three), attendence is mandantory (miss two classes and you fail), and there’s a homework assignment every week (between three and six hours of work). That’s 9-12 hours a week for a single class before the 2-3 hours a week I spend getting to/from class and finding parking. Oh, and I suck at drawing, so I actually have to focus during class and do a rough draft of the homework assignment before doing it for real. My other class is a once-a-week Japanese class. It’s not for a grade, but I do want to learn to speak, read, and write Japanese, so I have to put in a few minutes every day on this just to keep up.
As if all this isn’t enough, I’m also putting together a portfolio for my application to the Industrial Design school of a Big Name Private University with a reputation for turning out multidisciplinary designers. They get hundreds of applicants every year but only admit ~35 students. Because I already have a degree, they’re allowing me to apply as a transfer student and possibly skip some classes, but I have to present a portfolio to show what I can do. I managed to get a brief interview with the head of the program a few months ago who encouraged me to apply, so I figure I have at least have a slim chance of getting in.
Paying for school is an entirely different issue. I can work at my current job and go part-time at the local public school and get a degree at night, but most private schools I’ve looked at frown upon part-time students. I didn’t do well in the boom, so I don’t have the cash lying about to take a few years off work and go to school full-time while paying $30K or so a year for tuition. (A full four years will cost as much as a nice house in most parts of the country. There’s something to make your head hurt.) Working and going to school, it’ll take me four to six years to get the degree, longer than I’d like, but better than not getting it at all. If I get into the private university I’m applying to, I guess it’s time to look at $120K in student loans and sponging off my wife for a few years.
For now it’s back to the portfolio preparation, the drawing exercises, and the not sleeping as much as I’d like. Until I get a chance to catch up on all sorts of things (like the experience of buying a Harley, fountain pen fetishism, dorking around with pencils, being way too concerned about my new leather jacket, trying to get proper luggage on my bike, and a bunch of other things I want to write up), you might find some of these interesting:
Worldchanging, http://www.worldchanging.com, an excellent site collecting information and thoughts about the future and how we can survive long enough to enjoy the future.
IDFuel, http://www.idfuel.com, lots of good words on industrial design that get my mind working.
Extraordinary Ordinary Guy in Japan, http://xogij.blogs.com/xogij, a Japanese guy’s thoughts on life in Japan with lots of great photography.
Core77, http://www.core77.com, probably the best all-around industrial design website and news source.
Sunday, February 6, 2005
I had an “a-ha!” moment related to product design this week:
For the past few years we’ve been using an All-Clad brand teakettle we received as a gift. The first one started leaking at the base of the spout after a year or so and All-Clad replaced it. (The leak was caused by a poor quality weld, in my opinion) . Now after a year or so, the replacement has started leaking at the very same place. We’ve never been terribly fond of it: the polished stainless shows every bit of dirt or grime splashed on it while cooking something else on the stove, it’s easy to burn yourself on the handle or lid or while removing the stopper, the handle’s awkward, and so on. But it was a gift, it was certainly better than the $6 department store special I had before, and if you hold the kettle with a rag while you remove the spout, you probably won’t burn yourself…
But now that it’s started dripping boiling water while you’re pouring water for tea, the grumbling about “Yeah, but all the other teakettles suck, this one sucks less” started up again along with “what are we going to do for the three weeks we’re without a teakettle?”
Why is it amazing? Well, when you pick it up and tilt it to pour out the hot water, the handle acts as a lever to open the spout. When you set it back down, the spout closes. It’s not only a great idea, it’s a great idea that works. On top of that, the handle is well insulated, it’s available in a wide range of colors, and it’s about half the price of an All-Clad brand teakettle.
I am reminded of two imporant observations:
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
— Albert Einstein
— Amy Wong
Sunday, February 6, 2005
This is pretty brilliant — instead of keeping your FRS/GMRS radio in the drawer most of the time, keep it in your car and use it like a CB.
There’s also a forum that’s just been set up to discuss this sort of thing at http://www.urbancb.com/.
Thursday, February 3, 2005
Hey KOMPRESSOR fans, Andres K. is having a remix contest. Never heard of him? Check out some of his songs..
Top prize is the original KOMPRESSOR mask.
The rules for the contest.