On the Robart’s bizarre T-card policy

UofT’s Robarts has a T-card policy that I totally don’t understand. And I’m not just saying this as a non-UofT student; I’m saying this is actually a hassle even for UofT students.

So you need a T-card to enter the stacks: In other words, if you are a student who’s studying at a different university, and you found out that you need to take a quick look at a book that Robarts has to write your paper (because your own university’s library happens to not have that book), you can’t just go to the stacks to look at it and then put it back. However, you can request an interlibrary loan.

So instead of keeping the book at Robarts, which guarantees the book to be available to UofT students, the T-card policy forces students at other universities to take the book out of UofT for an indeterminate amount of time (obviously not going to return it early since it’s so much hassle to take it out), virtually guaranteeing that book to become unavailable to UofT students for a needless amount of time. How is that benefitting UofT students?

If someone at Robarts could give a coherent explanation of the T-card policy’s logic I think UofT students will be eternally grateful.

By invitation only conferences?

So despite all the discussion of opening this up, it is still “by RSVP only”? How exclusive (and therefore ironic)! I know this has been mentioned before but, I mean, when I (or rather “if I manage to”) graduate I won’t be able to ask people to come to see my project presentation? How depressing!

And what has just been objected to is not even some new idea. Why hasn’t this been shot down weeks ago when we first brought it up?

And the scoping… our project has never been correctly scoped…

Third site visit

A very short third site visit was made yesterday in the afternoon, because it was sunny. The lighting condition in the open space on the 5th floor was not perceptibly different. The sun was shining away from the building, so further checks will need to be performed in the morning when sunlight is expected to shine into the building.

Second site visit

The very short second site visit took place between 14:32 and 14:35 today. It’s also cloudy today.

Being an artificially lit place, there was no discernable difference in lighting conditions in the second-floor corridor. There were classes going on in the two rooms, and a quick peek showed that the rooms are in fact quite well lit.

On the 5th floor, the thing turned out to be an outward-facing spotlight, not an inward-facing camera. The open space looked fine in the afternoon, but we might have to wait until some sort of prototype is made to know if there really is going to be problems with the ambient lighting.

There were also classes in the two rooms in that open space on the 5th floor. A quick peek showed that they are pretty well lit too.

First site visit

Walking through the space looking for the rooms

This first walkthrough was conducted between 16:40 and 17:02. It was cloudy outside.

In front of the main entrance are the express elevators. Signage need to be put there to make sure people know they only go to the 5th floor. There should also be signs to tell people to either take the stairs or go to the back for the regular elevators which can take them to the 2nd floor.

On the 2nd floor, after several false starts, I found room 284: It was the room where I went to that strange presentation where everyone seemed to be a professor. Room 287 was at the end of the corridor. The corridor was not particularly well lit, but it was lit, by fluorescent lighting. Both 284 and 287 looked like board rooms, and they are both labelled “Conference Centre”s. As far as I remember 284 was not particularly well lit. From the entrance of the corridor no room signs were visible, though people would not get lost because the corridor is only one-way.

Room 280, the balcony level of the auditorium is on the right, on the opposite side of room 284. If I exited from the auditorium, I would be able to see room 284 if told that’s room 284, and I might see room 287 if told to look through the window in the door to my right.

There was a washroom right beside room 287, but it was locked.

On the 5th floor, if I exited the express elevators, went through the corridors, then straight through the large open space, and continued into the corridor of the “Teknion Environmental Design Centre,” room 556 would be on my left (after passing room 558), within a space that was adequately lit by fluorescent lighting. Walking through the meandering corridor I could see no room signs, but at the dead end was a squarish open space, with an imposing-looking security camera staring right at you, and on my left was room 556. Continuing straight a bit more into the space, room 550 was to my right. The open space, and thus the signage for 556 and 550, were very well lit by natural lighting.

Both Room 556 and 554 were labelled “Teknion Environmental Design Centre / Studio.” Room 550 was labelled “Industrial Design Centre / Studio.”

This corridor was perceived to be one-way, though there was actually a staircase down near room 554. People can’t really get lost, though they would probably still feel a bit frustrated due to the lack of signage telling them where the rooms are.

Initial observations

  • Room numbers are (just as I remembered it) not in a logical sequential order—starting from the elevator, we eventually reach a point where room numbers go backwards from 556 to 554 then 550
  • Room signs are not really visible until you find the room
  • Directions are not obvious
  • People might run into locked washrooms

Stuff to work on, “known unknowns”

  • Participant flow
    • Is there a possibility that a participant would go from the 2nd floor to the 5th floor, or vice versa? In other words, will any two break-out sessions run one after the other, without a “going back to the auditorium” in between?
    • Is lunch catered? If so where is it held?
  • Ambient lighting conditions
    • How does sunlight fall into the open space on the 5th floor? Would that affect signage legibility?
  • Maps on the web site
    • “System map”—OCAD (100 McCaul: do we need 49 at this scale?) + hotel + Massey College (+ TTC stations + main streets)
    • 100 McCaul + 49 McCaul
    • Schematic of how to move through the 1st, 2nd, and 5th floors
    • Navigating the 2nd and 5th floors, with reference to washroom locations
    • “Verbal map” versions of the above for people who can’t read graphical maps
    • Link to the official campus map PDF’s for the main building and, if necessary, 49 McCaul.
  • How much budget do we have?
  • Should we have a list of sessions posted on signage?

I just assigned myself to a whole bunch of EGD tasks

The meeting that I did not need to attend ended just a little over half an hour ago, and during the meeting I assigned myself to a whole bunch of wayfinding related tasks.

It’s true. Vera might have thought that Dina assigned me, but I assigned myself as soon as she said if people are not taking up tasks Dina should assign them. And I really feared that Dina would assign those EGD tasks to someone else.

The thing is, wayfinding can be a huge task in the conference, simply because our school’s wayfinding is so bad, which is really ironic because our school really should have the best wayfinding around town, but we don’t.

But the real question is: Do I actually have the time to do all this?

Adium installed

Who would have thought I would have to install Adium? Apparently the fact that Pidgin is its foundation is not so well known. (Ok, I had a slip of the tongue and called it by its old name, but still…)

I am supposed to install MAMP, and I wondered what it was so I went and found out that it just installs Apache, MySQL, PHP, eAccelerator, and PHPMyAdmin. I don’t use PHPMyAdmin. I don’t know what eAccelerator is so I have to figure that out, but I suspect it’s something I don’t absolutely need. So I just need to install MySQL.

So that’s probably what I’ll do. I don’t want some random installer to touch my Apache and PHP.

Too bad I can’t run pidgin on a Mac. I still don’t understand why Apple has made it so difficult to run normal X11-based Unix apps.

eAccelerator does what APC does but faster, but apparently is an orphaned project, so XCache might be a saner choice if speed is an issue. MySQL is here.

First try at an exhibition proposal

Last week I tried to write up an exhibition proposal literally just half a day before the deadline. And this morning I got the curators’ decision: “Unfortunately we are unable to…”

I picked up my proposal in the afternoon and asked one of the curators if the concept was strong, and she said yes. It’s just that there were too many proposals and mine didn’t fit with any other. (And she’d have liked better and more visuals.)

Anyway, I hadn’t originally even dreamt of submitting a proposal. I knew it was a long shot. I tried anyway. It didn’t work out. I don’t think I’ll have another chance at trying again with this gallery, though; but I can try somewhere else when somewhere else puts out a call, I guess.

“Try things even if you don’t feel confident.”

That’s what I myself wrote after dropping off my proposal last week, on a list of advice for new students posted on some bulletin board on the second floor of the main building…

Webfonts and SEO, revisited

Went to see Extensis’ presentation on web fonts, and the two-year-old SEO argument was being regurgitated. As I mentioned two years ago in another blog post, if people had done images correctly (i.e., if they actually followed W3C’s HTML and accessibility recommendations), if would have been a miracle if web fonts had any so-called “SEO benefits.”

But anyway, Thomas Phinney from Extensis confirmed my suspicions: There’s currently no way to do CJK web fonts. Web fonts, as it stands, remain just a “gesture” in the larger context.

And yes, I totally agree that the death of “web safe fonts” is Microsoft’s fault.

Unexpectedly amazing presentations at @OCADUPress’s Function 4

We talk about people with synesthesia and people with vision loss in class, but none of us has them, and it felt like no one knew anyone who has synesthesia.

So imagine my surprise when I went to Function 4 (when I still have stuff to work on) and found out that the second presenter, Greg McRoberts, has synesthesia, and he talked about how some shapes sound, how some sounds are associated with shapes, and, after the presentations, how unnatural some of these custom written ditties on electronic devices feel to him.

His blindness in one eye also inspired him to come up with the idea of inventing a “seeing aid” device that does “augmented vision”.

Greg McRoberts with his seeing aid device

Greg McRoberts’ seeing aid device

When I saw the device before the presentations I thought it looked like an Arduino, and, indeed, it is an Arduino.

The third presenter, Ibrahim Abusitta, talked about his work that explores an Eastern cultural identity within Western society.

I ran into one of my profs right before I headed to the Student Gallery, and he was wondering what the talks would be about. I told him I didn’t know, and I didn’t. But I think everyone in my program should go to these Function series talks.

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