Seriously, the real way to make the program more well-known is to mingle with the rest of @OCAD and not hide in our own little corner

I’m now halfway through listening to all the job talks by our GPD (i.e., department chair) candidates, and one thing that struck me when this morning’s candidate gave hers an hour ago was her comment that allowing other OCAD students to take INCD courses could be a way to make the program more well-known.

Seriously? Would anyone want to take our courses?

And she said we can’t change our courses and course descriptions. Seriously? If they don’t fix our courses but allow other students to take them, our program will be well-known for bad courses in no time.

My take (which hasn’t changed since four years ago): The way to make this happen is to actually interact with the rest of OCAD. Join student clubs. Go to openings. Answer calls. Not hiding in our little corner in that dreaded building now known as RHA.

New era at OCADU re-announced: New students will no longer be able to join Facebook’s “OCAD” network.

Just got this in my student email:

This is a message to all students: The following service will be decommissioned on APRIL 30, 2015 at 9:00 AM: REDIRECT SERVICE FOR THE STUDENT.OCAD.CA DOMAIN. When student email was migrated to Gmail in 2012, the email domain was changed from @student.ocad.ca to @student.ocadu.ca.  To facilitate the transition and avoid service interruption, a server was set up to redirect all email from the old domain to the new domain.  That service is now scheduled to be decommissioned. What does this mean for you? If you have subscribed to any services (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) using your email address with the old domain (student.ocad.ca), you will need to update your email address for each of those services.  A communication was sent out in 2012 to alert students, so it is very likely that those affected would have updated their various accounts at that time. If in doubt, check which email address you used to subscribe to various online services and ensure that your student email address is the current @student.ocadu.ca. Contact the IT Help Desk at ithelp@ocadu.ca or x277 for more information.

This isn’t new; according to them the last time this was considered was two years ago. I mentioned on Facebook that this would mean new students would not be able to join the “OCAD” network. They pulled the decommission. Two years later they are announcing the decommission again.

So what changed? Maybe they forgot. Or they thought joining a Facebook network isn’t something they should care about. Or maybe something else. I don’t know.

Sure, Facebook networks do hardly a thing any more; but it’s still a show of affiliation. April 30, 2015 will still be a milestone in OCAD’s history: Officially denying new students the possibility of showing their sense of belonging to the school by joining a network on Facebook.

Earth Hour is evil

So I’m here at Robarts, trying to do my volunteer assignment. When what I should really be doing is busily prepping for Grad Ex. Which I cannot do because OCAD’s campus is closed for Earth “Hour,” and it’s not going to reopen until tomorrow noon. This is a serious problem. Since I still have not received any official instructions for GradEx for my program, I still don’t know if what I’m trying to prep is even worthwhile (even though if it is I will need to make a fabrication deadline in three days, and if I had not started prepping three weeks ago I would have no chance prepping anything), but since we’re supposed to be in extended hours and OCAD is supposed to be 24 hours this semester, we have lost anywhere from 5 to a whopping 19 hours depending on what your schedule is like and what kind of facilities you need. For thesis students doing fabrication (fabrication studios are not on a 24-hour schedule) this represents a major loss of usable shop hours. I’m not doing my thesis this year, and I know people doing thesis who don’t mind being forced to work on their papers, but OCAD still should show some consideration towards students doing their thesis who require fabrication facilities (read: grad students). Studios are preparing for end-of-semester shutdown, and students don’t have a lot of time left. To shut down the school for 19 hours for Earth Hour is—could I be blunt here?—just irresponsible. Yes, shutting down for Earth Hour is a gesture to show we’re for sustainability, but can it just be a gesture, please? We don’t have to shut down all our systems, and surely U of T is not shutting down for Earth Hour—at least not at 6pm, let alone 5pm. There’s no reason OCAD should shut down at 5pm and have its thesis students go through this frustration.

OCADU deploys new identification system for its buildings — but it’s STILL a weird system

I just read an announcement on Facebook that OCAD has just started deploying a new system for identifying buildings on campus. Gone is the old, weird building-numbers-encoded-into-room-numbers system; replacing it is a system based on short alphabetic building codes, just like you would expect to see on any other Canadian university campus. What makes this new system bizarre, however, is that instead of basing the codes off the buildings’ names, it’s basing the codes off the names of the streets the buildings are on. So instead of *MSC (a hypothetical code for “Main building and Sharp Centre”) you get MCA (for “buildng 1 on McCaul”), or instead of *RSP (hypothetically a perfectly good code for the “Rosalie Sharp Pavilion”) you get the impossible-to-remember MCD (for “building 4 on McCaul”). Instead of less than ten building numbers to memorize, we now have to memorize 13 random-looking three-letter codes. This is just one problem. For the Annex building we also get two separate codes, SPA (“building 1 on St. Patrick”) for the first floor and MCC (“building 3 on McCaul”) for the upper floors. Technically the Learning Zone isn’t in the Annex building, but experientially it is. This is the same experiential situation as the Main Building vs the Sharp Centre, where both buildings get only one code because experientially they are one; so by analogy SPA and MCC should also be merged into a single code — and of course that code should be abbreviated from the name “Annex Building” and should not be “building 1 on so-and-so” or “building 3 on so-and-so.” The new system is still a much-needed change: It is still vastly superior to the old system, where even students get confused. (Just last September I was in what was until last week building 7 and a new student missed her floor because she thought her floor was the 7th floor — despite the fact that an explanation of the room numbers was posted right beside the elevator.) The new system is, however, still a weird, counter-intuitive system that requires students to memorize random-looking codes. Not a good design. And why do this kind of work mid-February, around midterms, instead of doing it at the end of the semester, after finals? No one said it but I bet it has to do with getting ready early for Grad Ex. In other words this is probably marketing work. But if we’re still getting a weird system people are still going to feel we don’t know how to design wayfinding systems. The feeling wouldn’t be as strong as before, but it would still be there. Not good marketing. Which really begs the question: Who designed this bizarre system? Don’t tell me again that such an important system hasn’t been designed by a designer.

OCAD building numbers

Campus map taken at the entrance to the Annex Building on October 22, 2012; the date on the map unfortunately not legible but it clearly reads August and seems to read 2012 (although the map would clearly be already outdated in August 2012) As I’ve mentioned on my Wikipedia profile, building numbers on the OCAD campus are almost always buried inside a system of 4-digit room numbers that is both bizarre and confusing (not only to visitors but also, at least sometimes, to students). So normally, unless you use your brain to do some inference (which is easy, but which Wikipedia for some reason abhors), you almost never see any “proof” that this system of building numbers actually exists. However, sometimes the building numbers do surface on maps, such as on this map that I photographed during my second semester for reference for our installation project. As you can see, all numbered buildings on this map are actually identified by their own numbers, except for the Main Building, which is identified as buildings “A” (first to fourth floors) and “B” (fifth and sixth floors) instead of as building “0”. Aside from this version of the campus map, I believe I have only seen standalone building numbers on a map in the 2012 student handbook. I believe I’ve also seen the system mentioned in passing in a style guide, but yes, that’s about it as far as I know.

The case of 51 McCaul's signage

I have been somewhat critical of OCAD’s new signage system. I admit I don’t really like the new aesthetics, but there really is something more; for example there is this: Photo of the “OCAD University” sign at 51 McCaul as seen from across the street As can be clearly seen from the photo, from across the street the sign reads only “University”; the first part of the sign, “OCAD,” is missing. However, if we are walking towards the building on the same side of the street, we find that the sign, as designed, should not have any part cut off: Photo of the “OCAD University” sign at 51 McCaul as seen from the sidewalk on the same side of the street as the building What’s happening is that the vertical overhang is blocking the line of sight to the upper part of the sign when viewed from across the street, and—no matter whether this is intentional or not—it makes people think that the designer had not taken the vertical overhang into account. I find this really ironic: when I was in first year we did a bunch of EGD things which were just temporary signage, and the irony is that even I—a student with no EGD training—took the effort to try to make sure that any sign we made would not have visibility issues (given the restrictions imposed by our materials and fabrication method, of course). Yet this sign has two obvious visibiity issues:
  1. From a vantage point that would have been identified during traffic analysis, the sign is cut off;
  2. From the same vantage point, the sign might be too small (i.e., illegible) for some people, a problem that would have been identified during prototype testing.
Let me just say I’m really disappointed. If OCAD is spending so much on branding and marketing, surely it should make sure its EGD artefacts are well designed. It does not help in the school’s marketing if someone walked into our campus and saw illegible signs, could not find a campus map, or could find no usable wayfinding system.

one year too late

So yesterday I was at 205 because I was to be at an SU meeting and then stayed in the building afterwards because I was trying to see if I could get other things done there or was needed there. Yes, a most atypical day since I usually don’t stay in that building. But since one of the things was to see if a prof happened to be there (and because I don’t want to stay on the 2nd floor and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay on the 5th floor), I went to the 7th floor, and was surprised when someone called my name. Danica had told me she’s working for AV now; still, I was surprised to find her working on this side of AV. Actually, I never associated the 7th floor with AV, even I knew (in an intellectual sort of way) the AV desk is there. Why? Now that I think of it, people in my program (including profs) never borrow stuff from the 7th floor; we all automatically borrow from the 2nd floor, as if the 7th floor AV desk didn’t exist. No wonder I never knew there’s a common room on the 7th floor until I found my thesis advisor. No wonder we feel so disconnected. (I mean more disconnected than the typical grad student.) I wonder: If someone I know had been working on the 7th floor AV desk way back when I was in first year, would anything have changed?

A time bomb, accidentally discovered?

(I’ll adjust the vocabulary so that it’s understandable by most OCAD students. But nothing essential is changed. In fact by adjusting the vocabulary it becomes clear why I say the situation is ridiculous.) So what essentially happened in the past couple of days was that I have been banned from a studio. The tech specifically requested that I be banned only from his studio, but what happened was that I seem to have been banned from the entire building, including the elevator. Now this is a serious problem, because there can only be so many reasons how this could even have happened:
  1. The person who made the change intentionally made the wrong changes (malice);
  2. The person who made the change on the computer made a mistake and did not check their work so they never noticed there was a mistake (carelessness);
  3. The person who made the change on the computer did everything correctly but the computer did something else and then lied to the person saying it did what was asked (logic error + bad UI);
  4. The computer is incapable of making the requested change and does not provide any feedback as to what it has actually done (software deficiencies + bad UI);
  5. The computer does random unexpected things from time to time, possibly when people try to make certain changes (random errors).
Any of these reasons are serious, and with the SU office having moved to 205 Richmond they have become more serious than ever. Just imagine, if a student has been unfairly banned from a studio and needs the help of the Student Advocate, they might not actually be able to get to the SU office to get help. Or students could be banned from the SU food bank. Worse, the entire SU staff could be shut out from their own office for no reason. (Even the second possibility is serious. I have basically been banned for carelessness. But if the person who banned me is as careless as I was they should be banned too =P) I think this needs to be looked into as soon as possible, before the Fall semester kicks in and make this problem one that potentially affects >4000 OCAD students.

205 Richmond

You know, I have never felt a connection to 205 Richmond, even though that’s supposed to be my building. But how could anyone blame me? If all a student could do is to go into the building to borrow the wifi and the bathroom (and it’s just the wifi and not even a power outlet), it would be a miracle the student felt any connection. So what does it mean to have the privilege of borrowing the bathroom revoked too? Can anyone say “Not much, I suppose”? Anyway, since this ridiculous thing has actually happened I’ll have to say it’s a good thing that the Student Union moved into this building and literally took over half of the fifth floor. Honestly I used to think it was a bad idea that they moved here since it’s so far away (for most students and ironically that also includes me, since my home base is not 7220 but 253). But I think the move has accomplished something very important, namely to—what’s the right word? “detoxify”? “cleanse”?—anyway, to make the environment feel less intrinsically hostile. I really hope the SU will do well here. In a sense, I really hated this building. And yes the SU moving there really sort of caused it harder to hate it as a whole.
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