Happy too soon…

ATutor’s email links are still un-RESTful. The bug has not been fixed.

Since I am sure it worked a few days ago, I’d say the bug has become even more serious than before: It now occurs randomly

Sigh. How long does it really take for the ATutor devs to fix these serious usability bugs?

Apparently, ATutor’s RESTfulness bug has been fixed

Clicking on forum post links in email no longer sends us back to a course home page. So it looks like this serious bug has finally been fixed.

Still no idea why the bug existed in the first place, but this is some good news.

A real course this term

This semester we have a real course again. It can even be anything really. But I missed the course add deadline, so what I have is just what I would have had if there were still no electives in our program.

Anyway, it’s an ATutor course too, complete with forum discussions which we have not had for two straight semesters. It’s embarrassing but having seen so many complaints on Canvas, ATutor — with all its numerous and serious failings — doesn’t really look so bad any more.

It’s embarrassing but I feel at home doing these ATutor discussions. I can even fantasize about being able to just do this ATutor stuff and pass program requirements. But of course I know this isn’t real. Unlike another “real university” here which shall remain unnamed, we don’t have course-based programs here; we are an art school, we have higher standards =P

Autopilot on, destination trainwreck

So the eagerly anticipated meeting happened. And during the meeting I became as confused as two months ago. And after the meeting I felt depressed.

Maybe depressed isn’t the right word, since I didn’t think of literally dying or killing myself. But I had stuff to finish and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. I just headed to the studio to calm down.

One hour into wedging I realized what I had gotten really was just a crit. It just meant there’s something wrong with my concept and I just needed to work on it. But that was the best I was able to put out after literally half a year of confusion. I strongly doubted I could put out anything better, especially if it’s going to likely involve another drastic shift in direction.

There were no pins. The bat shifted.

The coils didn’t work. The bat shifted.

The bat kept shifting and I couldn’t fix it. After what felt like eternity I just took out the bat, wrapped it in two layers of plastic, and put it aside. I’m going to get some screws from home and see if any will fit the holes.

I need to remember starting the day trying to throw anything complicated is a really bad idea.

Obviously, by the time I left it was almost 12. No more time left to think. Or write, for that matter.

On the train back home I checked my texts. “When is the first class?”


Today is December 14 and it is now 5pm, so basically I have to leave now. I have so far accomplished absolutely nothing today.

When it was 3pm I was thinking about whether to go down to school or to stay. The decision felt logical: Go down and lose an hour, and it takes an hour and 45 minutes to get back, so I would have only 60 minutes to do work. Or stay home and have 3 hours to try to do some work. Staying home felt logical.

But it was my conversation with Brandon a few weeks ago that was more logical: After class he asked if I would be going home, and I told him I wanted to stay behind and go to the studio to try to do some work. I told him if I went home there would be a 0% chance I would do any work, and if I stayed in the studio I might have a 50% work of getting some work done. Stay behind, he reasoned, 0% chance vs 50% chance, 50% chance was clearly better.

Too bad I have fallen prey to my illogical reasoning today. I should have gone down and have that 50% chance of getting an hour’s worth of work done; I should have known if I stayed home there was 0% chance of getting anything done…


(Mug shot of 2013 11 06 A)

Yesterday was sort of an important day for me, since I got some of the affirmation that I so badly needed, while at the same time saw the importance of sticking to your gut feelings. And no, the one does not exclude the other.

The fact that I had only one piece of work left at the end of the day despite not feeling confident about what I had put out spoke volumes. The fact that there were people who chose my work despite having a huge selection of other works I felt were clearly better spoke volumes. And yes, it does take this for what some have been saying to even ring true.

(Of course, Robin later said she wouldn’t allow any bad work to be put out. So the result should not have been surprising at all, but I never knew until later.)

But I also keep worrying about that one piece that originally failed vetting, later put out for re-vetting by mistake, and eventually passed second vetting. That’s why you never put out work that you think is probably not ok, even if others say it’s ok.

The challenge, I guess, is to balance the two.

The question of how to glaze spoons

(Four bought porcelain spoons, two having obvious trivet marks on the bottom, and two obviously without any trivet or wire marks anywhere on the bottom.)

I have been wondering how I should glaze a spoon, and my first thought was to fire it on a wire. But today I took out the ceramic spoons I have at home to see how they might have been fired and I saw something unexpected.

Two of the spoons obviously have something resembling trivet marks on the bottom. (Whatever were used, however, were clearly not trivets since they clearly had more than three pins.) However, the other two spoons do not have any obvious trivet or wire marks at all; the bottom surfaces are in fact completely smooth. So my reaction right away was: How did they do it?

Both of the two spoons without trivet marks have a hole, so my hypothesis would be that these spoons have been fired by hanging them on a wire through the hole, and that’d be my guess of why there are no marks. So we’ll be looking at some sort of armature supporting a wire of some sort that can sustain kiln temperatures, and they would have to make sure the spoons won’t deform in the kiln.

It will probably take some testing to see if this hypothesis can be correct.

Thoughts on RGD’s webinar on accessible design

So I told Lester that I’ll wait until today’s webinar is over and then I’ll decide. I showed up a few minutes late, but stayed through the end. It was a pretty rushed session, so I’m not sure if I had my questions answered (and honestly I don’t even know what my questions are, or I’d have zeroed in my thesis topic on one of those questions), but I guess in terms of inspiration there probably was something there.

But getting the couple of questions that I managed to ask asked was like playing a game of Telephone. The questions were sort of rephrased, and you can’t fix things if you realize what you had put into words was not really what you intended to say. I’ll email, I think.

In any case, a few things stuck out really bad:

  • The presenter mentioned two dyslexic typefaces that I had never heard of (Read Regular and Fabula), both of which are available only on request, with the web site of one of the two apparently having been taken over by a plastic surgeon and so must be no longer available. The two I know about were not mentioned even though they are available in more normal ways. I find this extremely curious.
  • Not unexpectedly, “plain language” and a “conversational style” were recommended. However, Louise Ravelli has long pointed out that conversational styles are not simple and in fact as complex as non-conversational styles, only in different ways.
  • The ADOD was suggested as a reference for creating accessible documents. While I don’t think there is anything better, I’m not sure if a failure to mention what it cannot do (which is not unimportant) says anything.
  • AChecker was mentioned. But as our AChecker assignment from last Fall shows, AChecker is hardly useful for anything but trivial sites. I am extremely concerned this has not been pointed out, or the fact that AChecker made it to the list of recommended tools despite its serious shortcomings.

In fact the presenter seems to really like the work that the IDRC has produced. Which is of course great from an ego standpoint, but very disturbing from a graphic design practitioner’s standpoint. If the presenter used these tools and failed to recognize there are huge problems, something must be deeply wrong (which suggests there are thesis topics buried in here, but I don’t know how to find them…).

On a side note, the presenter used “roman” as the opposite of “italic.” This is rare gold; I need to ask him if he’s got some sort of printed reference somewhere so that I can to stash it in Wikipedia references.

Studio back to normal

I went to the studio late today, and when I got there it was already 7, which of course meant there was little chance I would be able to work on my thesis, because I had to trim, and because it was supposed to be a plate and I am still figuring out plates, trimming would take a lot of time.

Which was exactly what happened: By the time I had trimmed the “plate” to something that looked like a deep dish, it was already 9:30 so I didn’t even have time to glaze my bisques, let alone work on my thesis.

But in any case, I was happy to find that all the big noisy machines were gone, and the studio is quiet again. There’s some chance of progress again.

Except that it’s probably already too late. I’m screwed.

Practice Based Research in the Arts

Last week when I was catching up my deluge of emails I finally opened the email titled “Fall 2013 Courses from Stanford Online”. Flicking through the seemingly unending list of science and math courses an oddball suddenly caught my attention: “Practice Based Research in the Arts”. I clicked on the link and was surprised to find the course offered through NovoEd, a company I had never heard of.

In any case, this is a course that would have been immensely helpful last year when I was scratching my head what to do for our studio class. But then the same questions linger on and continue to plague my thesis.

Judging from how much I participated (or rather did not participate) in free online courses in the past year — even courses that actually had to do with what I’m studying — I doubt I will meaningfully participate in this course. A little too late for me, I guess.

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