Yelpers, legality and business

A few weeks ago, I went to the Front Porch—one of those hip restaurants near my apartment. Dark, pretentious music and a porch-like restaurant. The food wasn’t spectacular, but I am not sure if it’s because I just wasn’t in the mood for fried chicken. Or was the stress of the day getting to me? Or just because I was on the onset of a cold that I wasn’t feeling so fabulous?

Despite my recent foray in the Yelp world, I still can’t justify reviewing anything without giving something a thorough inspection. Sure, I can review the experiences where I am very pleasantly surprised. Or I can review the places that I had a horrible experience and would not return. But I believe any negative behavior is often a cause of coincidence and chance. And I would include that possibility. Nothing can be that black and white, right?

But to what point, can we hold a restaurant (for instance) accountable for poor service? What if there were two servers sick that day? What if their source of raw foods had issues in delivery? I know often we can say that it’s their responsibility because as customers we should expect the best. Yet I have always wondered what’s the difference from a restaurant from everything else? Can I hold friends accountable for unwanted negative behavior? Or do I need to go through a process of understanding? Or how about that person sitting next to me on the train? What if they never learned the appropriate social mores? Can I hold them responsible?

Earlier this year, I met a yelper who would review everything the moment after or during an experience. He even had a smart phone to help him. When is it going to far? Yelpers When are yelpers going overboard?

Oh, reflectors and roads, oh my!

As we driving from Jack’s house (oh and what a wonderful dinner it was), I spotted an interesting type of reflector on the road.

The other side of the road—traffic going the opposite direction—had reflectors that looked red. The reflectors on our side of the road was the standard glowy white. I looked back on the red reflectors as we passed them and to my surprise, they were not red. They were white again. It was puzzling me and Chris said that it was because of the taillights on cars.

But no it wasn’t. Only one side of the reflector was red—the one facing opposing traffic. The rest of the reflector was all glowy white. Possibly to provide an affordance to help crazy drivers from driving on the wrong side of the road (I hope the designers had validated that drivers would really take notice of red reflectors and figure out they’re driving the wrong way).

So last month, on my way to find free pancakes from IHOP, I drove on the wrong side of the road for about a block. It was because I didn’t know there was a divider separating the road and it looked like a double lane road. I made a left and wondered why a car honked at me. Fortunately, no traffic was heading toward me. So by the time I realized (when I got to the intersection), I swung into the nearest driveway to correct my direction. However, would the reflectors have helped me? Better yet, what should have happened was that a “ONE WAY” sign could have been bigger, reflective and thus prominent.

Are you one of the six?

I recently just started a new job where I got a nice title of user experience designer. Before, I was very hesitant at any titles that were interaction designers or usability analysts. It was too focused. And the worst—information architect—which implied a sad lonely life in front of a computer screen.

I came across the six species of information architect. Oddly enough, I am…one of those six. Perhaps more leaning toward the new kind of user experience. I do deal with a great amount of information. One of my major job responsibilities is simply to lay out the information in a clear and coherent way—often the main usability challenge.

I am a nouveau IA (fresh skin graduate types). But I am not a fresh undergraduate. And somewhat a combination of Usability IA. I come from a generation freshly schooled through user experience (and from those older IAs, as if UX can really be taught!) Yeah that’s right with my masters in human computer interaction, I can do anything!

Or at least, I like reading and thinking. Doing? That comes after I read and think. And attend that one conference. And the one after that…

Design Cheap

For the last few months ever I moved into my swanky apartment in San Francisco, I have been thinking about how I could make this place look good without breaking the bank. Of course, my creativity doesn’t extend beyond the computer and I was at a loss, leaving the living room and bathroom pretty much in a minimalist state (as Chris describes it).

But I discovered Ikea Hacker, a blog devoted to making those oh-so-cheap materials into design reality. I can’t say too much on transforming pillowcases into clothing (um, I wouldn’t). But I was impressed by some of the hacks—namely bookshelves in the style of charlotte perriands and an upside down man lamp. I mean, I don’t want people to come into my apartment and say “HEY THAT’S FROM IKEA!”

New People Meeting

I always do like meeting new people. To me, it’s a path of the unknown. Perhaps I am somewhat addicted to the blank slate—the fact that whatever I did in the past doesn’t matter.

I am trying to keep my connections with people I knew 5 years ago…intact. If ever possible. But it’s years like these that you find the people you like being around and then the differences make it difficult to spend time with those you used to spend hours and hours with.

Today while in the Marina, I ran into two people I knew from high school. Actually not quite “ran into”. I had seen them before at the Irish bar in Walnut Creek last summer. I saw one at Chow in San Francisco and later walking in Trader Joe’s in Lafayette. This time though, I saw them at Crunch Fitness on Chestnut while I was contemplating my fitness demise. I never talked to either of them during high school, but now that I had social skills, do I say something? Do I acknowledge their presence? Before I did anything, one of them waved to me, probably because of my intense staring while contemplating my moves. I waved back and stepped forward. They were both teachers—one teaching first grade and the other teaching high school. I was surprised that one remembered my sister. And as we figured out our current statuses and locations, we became silent again tending to the reasons why we were at Crunch in the middle of a Saturday.

As I was leaving, I said that perhaps I’ll run into them. A polite gesture toward a moment of recognition. Maybe I will though. What have I got to lose?

In other news, I met Suki today! Having spicy Korean food in Parkside. The list of people I know online but have not met in person is dwindling. The only person I haven’t met is Viv—oddly enough, the online friend I have known the longest since 1997 right on the tip of my onlineness.

Are you senior enough?

At what point, would you give up a seat for the elderly? At what point can you tell whether they’re old enough to have the seat you were sitting in?

Sure there are people with gray hair and slightly wrinkled skin. However, would it be an insult to say to the standing person in question, “Would you like my seat?”

Especially if it’s someone who obviously has gone through procedures of health and fitness. Or plastic surgery. All in the effort to look young. You look 50, but I know you’re 65+, have my seat.

Shaky movies not for me

Today, I went to see “The World, Complicated”—the shorts program part of the San Francisco Asian American Festival.

Every short was amazing. In particular, the ones with Cantonese—only because I partially understood it and the words said make it oh so more funnier. Particularly, I liked The Last Chip and Windowbreaker.

But Going Home was probably the most heartbreaking. It was also the most nauseating. That is, the shaky camera movement. Like how I felt sick after watching The Blair Witch Project, I basically stumbled out of the theater. This time, I rode a bus back to the Mission…feeling the waves of motion sickness.

They should have warnings in addition to the MPAA ratings. Warning: Severe motion sickness possible.

Do I know you from somewhere?

I have an uncanny knack for recognizing someone I met. Usually I would remember where I met them, but nothing more than that. And yet today, I went to my friend’s BBQ in Berkeley (mostly grad students) where I ran into someone I recognized. Across the lawn, I noticed him, not sure where I knew him from.

As I was talking to two other friends, I asked if they knew anybody else from CMU. They pointed to a pair in the corner—one of which was the guy I recognized with sandy brown hair. I said stupidly aloud, “Yeah…I don’t know who he is, he looks like someone from TV. That’s probably why.”

“Oh then, we’re going there now,” said my friend who promptly dragged me over.

She gestured to the guy in the sunglasses—a guy with black hair and said that I recognized him. In my embarrassment, I explained that it was the other guy and that I didn’t know how. And somehow that prompted nearly a 2 hour banter between the 2 of them. And by the end of the 2 hours, we discovered that we had another mutual friend in common. I had stared at him at this mutual friend’s birthday but we never interacted.

Maybe this means that I should stop staring.