Monday, July 26, 2010

More OUCH than YUCK, but still, YUUUCK!

Rubber bands.

Yes, these small but terrible things are a pain to society, literally. Who hasn’t gotten hurt by a rubber band? I think the very first use of a rubber band that actually comes to mind is not that it can tie things together… it’s how you can make a gun with it using your fingers and shoot people.

Sure, rubber bands are handy and helpful, but that just helps mask that fact that they can hurt. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated rubber bands. Of course it wasn’t always like that. Sure I did make those stars other kids would make with rubber bands but then something happened... >>>I forgot how to make stars so I made a letter "K" instead... see it?

...You see, I was traumatized by a sharp hit to the cheek when I was a little girl. That was it for me. Whenever someone would hold one up and stretch it (even if it wasn’t pointed towards me) my hands would shoot up automatically in defense position and I would then attempt to cover all the parts of my skin that was exposed (so my hands were always moving). I still do that now, but please don’t try me. My brother though has his fun (rarely, or else there’d be a fight) and stretches them in front of me, my hands automatically raised and I prepare for the pain.

(I'm not sure this video will work cos it failed on me the first few times I tried to play it... I don't know what the problem is... I wouldn't be that sad if it didn't though haha... this is a video demonstration of "my hands in defense position trying to cover all the parts of my skin that was exposed" ... it's a little embarrassing but what the hell... just giving a visual demo here... enjoy!(?) haha)

video

Rubber bands aren’t the strongest material in the world. They break easily and when they do, they snap and you’d be unlucky if you were in its path. I don’t like that they snap unexpectedly sometimes because they’re too flimsy. I don’t know, to me they feel unsafe in a way (haha). I prefer using strings to tie things together or those “pull-and-snap” wires you buy at Handyman. There are so many alternatives for rubber bands, which is why I don’t keep any rubber bands with me. I had to get these in the pictures from a salon. Also, as mentioned earlier, I don’t like how they can be used as weapons. Kiddy weapons sure, but they still hurt, whether you use your finger gun or just stretch them and shoot. I can’t and won’t use them to tie my hair; a rubber band pulls strands of my hair because of its texture/the material itself. This happens both in the process of tying the hair and when I try to pull it out of a ponytail. You can’t really use them as accessories either, and they aren’t the prettiest things in the world. Lastly, they stink. Sure this is a teeny-weeny reason, but if you’ve ever tried opening a new box of rubber bands, you’ll get the picture. Of course this has to do with the material itself again. Overall, although the rubber band is useful and can help with quick fix-its, but I still avoid using them because of that negative image they hold in my mind since I was a kid.

Let’s Tie It Together!

The OUCH! Factor – That is definitely a category that some characteristics of a rubber band would fall under. Firstly, because of its elasticity and you can say “snapping factor,” the rubber band can cause a sharp pain to your skin when snapped at you. Also, the material itself also actually causes the snap to hurt more. The fact that they can be used as weapons definitely falls under this category. In addition, the material itself is an OUCH! Factor because of what I mentioned it can do to the hair. And we all know from my first Design Observation how sensitive I can get with my hair (hahaha). The next category is sort of, for me, a sub-category of the OUCH! Factor. I call it the Trauma Factor. Under this category would fall the simple yet very real fact that I was “traumatized by a rubber band” as a kid (that sharp hit to the cheek… I forgot who did it though). I think that a lot of people could relate to this “Trauma Factor” when thinking about why they don’t like a product. I think another category would be, again from Design Observation 1, the “WIL” Factor. This is the “would it last?” factor. As mentioned earlier, these rubber bands are flimsy things. They can be used to tie things but they can snap unexpectedly in the process. They aren’t as reliable as their alternatives. They are too flimsy. I think the last category I would group these factors in would be the “I Sense a Small” Category. This category describes what the product can do with the “senses” – whether it appeals to your eyes, your nose, that sort of thing. In this group would fall all the small things I don’t like about rubber bands. The fact that they can’t be used as accessories (because honestly, they would look cheap and ugly on you… wouldn’t you agree?), the fact that well, they aren’t the most attractive looking things, and lastly again, the little, little fact that they stink – these are the factors that would fall under my Small Category.

There we have it, all the big and small reasons why I think rubber bands are YUCK-y. The categories are design features in themselves. And, the ones I made, I think, would help other people decipher their feeling about any other product as well. Let’s see, nobody likes pain (OUCH! Factor) and nobody would like a product if they were traumatized by it (Trauma Factor – which can be a category on its own, depending on the person’s experience), nobody likes things that can’t hold or would give up unexpectedly (WIL Factor), and lastly, people have so many small reasons they don’t like about a product and this usually has something to do with the senses, which is why my I Sense a Small Category exists (well, it depends on the product of course whether it really does have a small or big impact on your senses which would then alter your judgment accordingly – you can maybe change it to I Sense a Big Category). The last category would allow you to judge a product based on its look, its smell, how its sounds, etc. I think this group would be very helpful in pointing out what you don’t like about a product, whether it’s a big thing or a small thing. As I mentioned earlier, these categories are design features in themselves (like my WOW observation), so go ahead, it’s your turn to test them on your own product.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wrapping My Mind Around Mind Mapping

First there was this...


...and then finally, this:




In Parts:




Monday, July 12, 2010

Let Me WOW You.

The product I chose to “WOW” you with is… my hairbrush. My hairbrush beat a lot of other interesting things that I was reflecting on to choose for this design observation. It beat my pair of quirky shoes that I just can’t stop wearing and my really loud, portable speaker that I got on an airplane coming from Ukraine. Why? Because my hairbrush really is a unique thing, and although I have a lot of other hairbrushes with different shapes and textures, this hairbrush never gets replaced or forgotten. This sounds very dramatic so I really do hope nobody in classs ever seen a hairbrush like this (haha).

Since as long as I can remember, I’ve had trouble with people “dealing with” my hair. I really don’t know why but I get really sensitive when my hair gets pulled. When I was a kid, just a little tug in the wrong areas would make me cry. I would even hesitate to let my mom ponytail my hair or dry it after I take a shower. Back then, she’d have to talk to the stylists in the salon to be extra careful with my hair because if they treated it “normally,” there’s a big chance I’d cry. It’s funny because thinking about it now, I feel like I was such a brat and just plain maarte. But, it was true though, I really had a problem dealing with the pain of my hair being pulled; It “extra hurt” for me. Thus, it was because of this problem that I started my search for the perfect hairbrush, not comb, hairbrush. Combs were just plain hard. I needed a hairbrush with bristles that were not too hard, not too sharp, etc. I had very high standards… Thankfully I found it! It was such a long time ago. I forgot how old I was, but I still remember how I found it. I was walking along the aisles of the grocery section of Duty Free (here in Manila) and I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. But, as I was about to leave for the checkout counter to join my parents, I spotted something very interesting on the lowest part of the grocery rack. It was a bunch of big hairbrushes. Sadly, I don’t remember the brand and it doesn’t have an imprint of the hairbrush itself. Anyway, I bent to pick one up and it was “love at first touch.” The texture of the bristles was perfect. I chose the “newest-looking” one and ran to the checkout counter.

There are so many reasons why I like this hairbrush. The obvious reason is because of its bristles. The bristles are very thin and flexible. They have little circles on their tips, so even if the bristles are thin, they’re not sharp. It doesn’t hurt my scalp, even if I “brush hard.” Also, since the bristles are flexible, when I have tangles in my hair, they bend to untangle the knots carefully.

I really do feel the difference when I brush my hair with a normal, hard plastic brush and when I use my own flexible-bristle brush. You could now see why I loved it so much as a kid. It was gentle to my head. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even feel my tangles anymore. My brush would untangle them very “subtly.” Another benefit it gave me (one that I didn’t discover as a kid) is that I could stick it in my hair and leave it there. Okay this sounds strange so let me clarify. My brush also acts like a giant hair curler. Because I don’t want my hair to fly away, I use the brush to roll it inwards and just leave it there as my hair sort of “adapts” the form of the big round brush. This is better explained using pictures :

The bristles are long enough and set close enough to each other to stick to my head and hair without dropping off (it does after a while though because of my moving around). After I take the brush out easily, my hair is fixed and I don’t have to dry it with a hair dryer. There are times though that the brush would get tangled up in my hair because I’d take it out the wrong way, but these times are very rare and it doesn’t take me long to ease it out.

My brush looks big because of its long bristles, but I still think it’s portable. Since the bristles bend easily, I can stuff it in my bag and the bristles would bend to fit. It’s not the prettiest brush because some of the bristles stick out unevenly, but I like that “imperfection” because it looks interesting. It’s an all-black brush and an all-plastic one. I like how the color doesn’t fade or chip off. It’s just really an all black brush and it stays that way. It could pass for a brand new brush but I think the bristles would give it away. One more feature to mention is that at the end of the plastic handle, there’s a hole. I don’t really use this feature because I don’t hang it anywhere; I just leave it on my desk. But, when I’m typing articles like this, or when I’m surfing the net, I stick my pinky in that little hole and see how many rounds I can do by swinging the brush around with my pinky. I’m not lying, I really do this when I pause and take my hands off the keypad or mouse.

My brush has been with me for as long as I can remember. I can’t replace it because I know I’d never get a brush like this again. There is no way of knowing its brand because there is nothing on the plastic that would even give me a clue. It’s not in the grocery section of Duty Free anymore and I haven’t seen anything like it here and abroad. I can’t throw it away, and I don’t need to. Although I mentioned that some of the bristles kind of stick out in different directions, it doesn’t affect the function of the brush. This favorite brush of mine still works perfectly, and to think I’ve dropped it millions of times from different heights. It stays the same. And, I guess since it’s been with me for so long, it already has sentimental value. It’s been my favorite brush ever since, and I really do think it will stay that way.

Now it’s time to sort all these reasons and characteristics into their groups. I’m going to call this each group a “factor.” I think one important group that I can gather some characteristics of my hairbrush into is the “why do I need it?” group. Let’s call this the WyDINI (pronounced like “Houdini” except with a “y”) Factor. Sometimes we need to ask questions like these to remind ourselves of the value of our things, or even the things we plan on buying maybe. Under the WyDINI Factor we have the flexible bristles and their ability to solve my problem of being too sensitive about detangling. Basically what goes under this factor is the “softness” of the bristles and the benefits they give me by making brushing and fixing my hair a less painful process. The next group would be the “what else can it do for me?” group. This is yet another question, similar to the first that we need to ask ourselves when thinking about products and why we need/use it. Let’s call this the WECID (weh-kid) Factor. Under this go the other functions of my hair brush, apart from its main one which was mentioned earlier. The function that I would put under WECID is the giant-hair-curler-function. Because of this function, aside from brushing my hair gently, my brush can also fix it without me having to use the hair dryer and damaging my hair. Now that is wicked (hehehe). The next group would be the “would it last?” group. This is called the WIL Factor. This factor would be referring to the sturdiness and/or durability of my brush and how it would look like in the long run, and if indeed it can last long. Under the WIL Factor would be the fact that the plastic doesn’t break even if I’ve dropped it millions of times from different heights. Also under this factor will be the fact that the color doesn’t fade or chip. Because of these characteristics under the WIL Factor, my brush will never look old and ugly. The last group is the one with my favorite label. It’s the “wait! There’s more!”group. Let’s call this the WAIT Factor. I think the name is very appropriate because after listing all the important functions/characteristics of the brush, you would think, “Is that it?” And the reply would precisely be, no, WAIT! There’s more. Under this factor would be the less important features of the brush, but still features none-the-less. The “portability” of the brush, the hole of the brush that you can use to hang it, and the tiny fact that it would be less painful to get it out of your hair (if and only if it gets stuck of course) because of the flexible bristles – these are the things that would fall under the WAIT Factor.

Given my “W” Factors, WyDINI, WECID, WIL, and WAIT, I could say in summation that I like a product because of the need/s that it fulfills, the multi-function factor of it, its ability to last long enough (with me) or its durability, and because of other little things I can do with it. The “W” factors makes it easier for me, and I believe will make it easier for other people to determine whether or not they like the product, need the product, or simply gauge how they feel about the product.

Let's Try It!

Let's try testing these Factors on something else to see if they work:

There we have it! I think my Factors worked. What about yours?

The End. :)

Reflection Entry 3: Love your brain!

I would say that this reading was both informative and in a way, inspirational. The brain really is an amazing thing.

When I first watched the video of Jill Bolte Taylor on TED.com in college, my friends and I thought that the discussion was astounding. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyinghorsepix/3562409166/) We also joked that Jill Bolte Taylor looked like a witch doctor with her eyes closed, arms raised and moving about as she described her experience. But on the other hand, why wouldn’t she be closing her eyes and doing all this hand/arm actions? The brain (and her experience with it) is such a complex thing to describe. The functions of the brain are just too intricate, too profound, that when an intellectual like Dr. Taylor (who knows the brain) would describe it, words wouldn’t seem to be enough. She makes the brain seem like such a beautiful thing that we should take care of and really appreciate the wonders it can do, that WE can do. The reading on Cognitive Fitness teaches us how to do just that. It teaches us how to take care of our brains, and not take it for granted.

I think what is essential in keeping your brain fit is thinking productively. In class we differentiated Productive Thinking from Reproductive Thinking. Both ways of thinking will get your brain moving, that’s for sure. But the reading says that we need to challenge ourselves more, and this is what Productive Thinking will do. It gives us the challenge of finding alternative and new approaches as opposed to reproducing (answers) from experiences in the past. When we try to search for something new, we’re venturing into the unknown – we are made to look for and learn something different. This is stretching our abilities more and making are thoughts less rigid. This indeed is giving our brains more of a challenge. This very much related to our lessons on creativity. As mentioned in class (college version), “creative thinking is productive thinking” and that “when confronted with a problem, creative thinkers ask themselves how many different ways they can look at the problem, how they can rethink it, and how many different ways they can solve it.” That’s a lot of thinking/brain exercising.

(http://courseweb.hopkins.k12.mn.us/file.php/372/creative-thinking.jpg)

Sir Ken Robinson said that “human intelligence is richer and more dynamic than we have been led to believe by formal academic education.” Indeed, “formal academic education” is not enough to fully develop our brains or at least exercise it enough to disprove the belief that our brain inevitably deteriorates as we grow older. We can’t just rely on subjects taught in school to keep us informed enough that our brains will stay active. Productive thinking addresses that “rich and dynamic intelligence” of ours and how it needs more than just learning what is taught to you. A lot of times, you have to learn on your own. Indeed, it may seem that the right side of the brain is more helpful because of creative and/or divergent thinking. But, a part of the reading explains that “although it’s important to stimulate creative, divergent thinking, you’ll derive just as much benefit, and perhaps more, from stimulating the analytical neural networks that are often viewed as left-hemispheric.” This cleared the air up a little for me and it reminded me to not take any side of my brain for granted. Both sides of the brain need proper exercise and although they “cater” to different skills, they both are equal. Both sides of my brain need me to exercise them so I can develop my full potential.

I have to my brain ("brain" by ~billybongbingbong on deviantart.com)

As I mentioned earlier, this reading was inspiring. It got me thinking about how cognitively fit I really am and how I should get even more fit. The reading provided a “Personal Program” to exercise our brains, and I’m happy that I already am doing most of the tips printed on there. I haven’t tried learning a new language or instrument recently for example but now I’m inspired to. More importantly, this reading inspires me to inspire others. I’m blessed to be able to spend a lot of time with all my grandparents. We even make jokes about them becoming senile and how it would benefit my mom and I (she started the joke) because then we’d be able to trick them into giving us money.

(This is my grandma, pretending to be senile. She's wearing glasses with the tag in her eye and acting like "her future self." I extremely doubt though that this is "her future self.")

My mom’s parents are very fun to be around. They love making jokes and acting like kids. My dad’s parents on the other hand are not as happy-go-lucky, but they’re also fun to be around. They make jokes as well and you can see the inner child in both of them, but they’re a bit stricter. My lolo (I call my maternal grandparents “grandma and grandpa” and my paternal grandparents “lolo and lola”) is the only one working, all my other grandparents have retired. My lolo says that if he stops working (he’s and engineer), he’ll get sick. I believe him, and I love that he’s very strong at his age (late 70s). I know that all of them are cognitively fit even if they’re all (apart from my lolo) retired, because they keep themselves occupied. They don’t just “wait” to grow older and older. They all busy themselves with a lot of things such as crafts, gardening, baking, and a lot more, but I want to remind them about doing more than can benefit the condition of their brains. I think it would be really nice to share this reading with them and make them even more fit. This reading inspired me and now I’m happy that I could inspire them.