Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Design Challenges by the Design Council have social impact

Really pleased to see this new video by the Design Council on the impact Design Challenges have on fostering innovative solutions to big social problems.

And I'm really happy we were one of the winners of the "Living Well with Dementia" challenge, which allowed us to build Grouple.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Use two Dropbox accounts at the same time on OSX

I've always found it a pain that Dropbox doesn't support syncing to multiple accounts at the same time, e.g. to my work account as well as to my personal one.

Of course, I could share the contents of one with the other, but I only have a free Dropbox account for my personal files, and I like to keep work and personal content separate.

After some Googling, I came across this blog post by Daniel Mann that shows you how you can sync multiple Dropbox accounts to your Mac:


The gist of it is that you simply run two separate Dropbox instances at the same time using the Automator to run a shell script:
HOME=$HOME/Dropbox-personal /Applications/Dropbox.app/Contents/MacOS/Dropbox &
You even can setup your Mac to automatically run the Automator .app in your System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items.

Check out Mr Mann's blog for step-by-step details on how you can set up multiple Dropboxes on your Mac.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The abundance of slowness

My friend, who took a year off to explore caves around the world and who just started a new company, sent me this article about slowing down:


It really resonated with me.

It reminded me of my own lessons learned from the start-up that I built and exited.

Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness. – Tim Kreider, NYTimes.com

Friday, October 25, 2013

Todo.txt workflow for Alfred

Using Alfred on OSX over the past few months has been such a revelation. When I design for software, I usually tend to work either with my Wacom pen and tablet in hand when I'm sketching / drawing, or with both hands on the keyboard when I'm coding.

When I'm doing the latter, I really appreciate Alfred's keyboard-based everything so that I can keep both hands on the keyboard and just get on with things.

For those who haven't tried it, Alfred is kind of like a combination of the Search Box in the Windows Start Menu and AutoHotKey - the automation tool for Windows.

Recently, I found an automation Workflow in Alfred that allows you to access Todo.txt from within Alfred. It's available on GitHub here:

The workflow does require that you have Todo.txt, which is a really awesome todo list app that uses a simple text file to keep track of your todos:

And you'll also need Alfred with the paid-for PowerPack:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Open source Super Mario Bros in HTML5

This HTML5/JavaScript remake of Super Mario Bros takes me back to my childhood, when often times I would go over to a friend's house to watch these magical pixels being pushed onto the television screen from their Nintendo Entertainment System.

Back then, I was allowed only to watch but not play in MarioLand. Today, not only can I indulge in some Princess Peach-saving action in a box-standard browser, I also can take it apart and delve into its open-source underbelly to see what makes Bower tick.

How far we've come in democratising pixels and bits. Looking forward to the next decade when we open up design and healthcare.


And here is the source code on GitHub:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New MIT Media Lab fund for student entrepreneurs

I love that my alma mater, the MIT Media Lab, is supporting student entrepreneurs with a new investment fund that also gives back to the Institute.

Called the E14 fund, it gives successful Media Lab master's and PhD student applicants a six month runway to form teams, build products and launch companies.

Winners are given a stipend, guidance from business mentors, connection to venture capitalists and access to entrepreneurship resources from MIT.

20% of any returns beyond the initial investment is donated back to MIT as a gift.

What better way to learn about entrepreneurship than to get into the thick of it and just do it! Wish this had been around when I was back in Cambridge.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

3D diffs of STL files on Github

Wow, I was wondering when someone would do this. Count on GitHub to keep on innovating!

This is great for the Makers out there who are experimenting with personal and local manufacturing!

Now, if only they would do this for industry standard STEP files also?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Scrivener + Scapple: indispensable design tools

Scrivener: a virtual binder and writing tool.

Scapple: a free-form brainstorming tool.

Since switching to OSX, I'd been in search of an organisational tool to replace OneNote, my once go-to application for keeping all my design materials together.

After using the combination of Scrivener and Scapple for the last few months, I'm happy to report that this duo of applications not only are a worthy replacement for OneNote, but they also manage to exceed it in many ways.

I'll probably write a more in-depth review at some point, but suffice it to say that I'm quite pleased with what I can do with Scrivener and Scapple.

From keeping research materials, design sketches, wireframes and mockups together, to binding recordings of user research interviews to transcriptions, Scrivener is a versatile tool to keep organised.

And Scapple is awesome for getting ideas out of my head and onto the screen. I can move words and images around and make arbitrary links, unlike more restrictive mind-mapping apps I've used in the past.

Check them out - you won't be sorry you did.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Product design is about empathy

When I tell people I work in human-centred product design, people often look at me in puzzlement or think that I work in graphic design.

That's why I love what the Kelley brothers (of IDEO fame) tell us in their new book about product design. We all can cultivate our innate (but often under-utilised) human ability to empathise with others to shape our time, passion, technology, creativity in order to design better solutions for human problems.