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A whole new experience!!

Good things @ the Product semantics & Rapid prototypic...combined with semiotic engineering of user interfaces

As I may have told you; I am signed up at the Savonia Design Academy here in Kuopio to get more knowledge into my young mind. The main pre-organised course for me is Service Design and that is going well so far. Then I was offered the opportunity to choose ANY extra course I would like to take and guess what I chose!!

  • Usability and semantics of user interface design (this is where the semiotic engineering of user interfaces comes from)..this I combined with

  • Product semantics and rapid prototyping in user-oriented design methods

These 2 go hand-in-hand like a married couple (well, some married couples! hehehe..). The usability and semantics of user interface design is more theoretical and covers the stuff you need to know and reckon when starting a project for a user. The co-creations, the ways of gathering data in a user-oriented way, the goods of prototyping and so on. As you may have already noted, the language is Finnish for all undergrad classes but the lecturers are kind enough to google some material for me and put on my flash. I also take the powerpoint slides and translate them online later. This is a very interesting course from someone with a purely information technology mindset. it has shown me just how much a user's experience, even their emotions, are important to consider when designing a product for them. And it doesnt matter what product it is you are designing, it can be anything from this;
25325-real..ching-1.jpg or this flower-arts2.jpg, this tea-bags-a..421x350.jpg or even something as complicated as this concept; transparentscreens.jpg

The point is that a user has to be involved in all that you are trying to design for them, that way you get their points of view and end up coming with a better product and everybody is happy :). Here is a video on one of the gurus of design thinking; Tim Brown;

Now the second part of this course is more practical. Today was my 1st class and we were in a computer lab. The language of delivery is Soumi of coz, but the software we used is in English (by the way, even Microsoft Windows used here is in Soumi! No English! but some of us wanna-be nerds know where to go and change the lingo!!)so I get to know which buttons to follow. Difficult, but doable. We used an open-source software called Kerkythea ( http://www.kerkythea.net). I am still new on the software but I aim to Ace it by the end of 2010 and even start using it in real-life projects. The brilliance of open-source software is that a free-sharing community always develops around it, people even upload their latest 3D inventions on the software site itself! Here is a few snapshots of what Kerkythea can do:
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This is a good start for me in Finland, and I can feel very much that I will take something valuable back with me. My hope is that these courses will earn me a place in a user-driven design-oriented Information Technology department somewhere where I can add some input to what I have learnt. I aim to pursue the disciplines of user-oriented design methods further and enhance my IT background.

Till next time! Kiitos (Thanks!)....

Posted by Kratos 01:41 Archived in Finland Tagged educational Comments (0)

7 hours of strain...

The weekend Service Design that made me chew ma nails in frustration...

overcast

Yesterday I had an early Saturday service design class to attend. Its main focus was on user-oriented design methods and was lectured by Atti (if I am "saying" it right). I am a late Saturday morning person, even if it means waking up early and just lying there. I used to be able to get outa my bed early and then wander around the house like a mindless zombie, looking for something to do. Not anymore, with Monty in my life...Saturdays mornings are worth more.

Well, back to topic! I seem to stray off topic if I think of Monty while I am writing...its called missing someone (",). But since I am here I got up and was on the bike (by the way; I bought a bike from Bennett [Prof] the other day! Life got easier!) paddling my sleep away. Got there in time, I wouldnt say the same for Sipho though...topic for another day, or never...she would like me discussing that here! The class started ok with us having a little assignment to make a powerpoint presentation of pictures classified into;

  • Esine (Product),

  • Tilanne ( Situation; this can be movement, someone doing something e.tc),

  • Tunnelma (Moods, emotions) and

  • Something "Kuva" mielenkiintoinen ( Eye catching or breath taking)

So you have to agree with me that collecting pictures on these categories cant be nerve-racking right? Thanks! Moving on, then it was lecture time.......*sigh*...the main teaching language is Soumi (we outsiders simply call it Finnish) so most of the time I had to get a translated version of everything after it was explained. That cant be that difficult hey? Well here is the catch; the lecturer struggles to speak English! YEP!! Welcome to my life! hehehehehe... So yea, imagine sitting there for 7 hours of your life and the lecturer takes about 3-5 minutes to explain a powerpoint slide in Soumi, then breaks it down to you in English just under a minute or so!! And Atti is a good guy, he wasn't trying to be prejudice or anything. English is a major challenge for him but he sure knows what he is talking about on the user-oriented design methods, I was the one making his life difficult!

So yea, we would sit there for a few hours, take a break and then we back to it. I would keep getting scrape broken-English notes from him about what is going on. At some points the right English words would refuse to come out at all and he will gesticulate and I will fill in the blanks for him. Hard, hard and frustrating but he tried and I wrote quite some notes (well, it was 7 hours long! duuh!) . I remember towards the end he decided to give us a small assignment and by then I was GATVOL(South African expression for being fed-up) and wanted to go home. He gave out the initial assignment, with mine extra because he showed me the online English version of the book he uses to teach so I have to go read it so I know what he was talking about for 7hours (his words, not mine!)!

Then the whole class spent about half-an-hour discussing something with him in Soumi and I was just there isolated. I even walked out at some point but I guess I was invisible at that point! lol! So when I was packing to go home at around 15:15Hrs, he says "Oh! by the way, the assignment changed! Thats what we were discussing!"... I almost went green like Hulk! Anyways, Atti is a humble man who is knowledgeable in his field but language will make us distant. I would like to keep in touch with him even after I left Finland though.

The evening was mellow, i did my laundry and lazed about. Then close to midnight I opened my thesis chapter 3 and got to work.

Posted by Kratos 09:36 Archived in Finland Comments (0)

A glimpse of Joensuu

20 °C

Today Prof (Bennett Alexander) and Tuija were to present their Doctoral studies at the school of computing in Joensuu so yesterday Mikko asked if we want to just tag along an atleast catch a glimpse of the place-HELL YEAH! hehehe.

We took off at about 08:15 and drove there. Joensuu is about 188 kilometers from Kuopio. Same old beautiful landscapes all the way there. I wanted to catch some sleep but i was sitting on the sunny side and it disturbed my chi, ended up listening to some David Gray all the way there. Prof was the 1st.....wait! Did I tell you that the Joensuu school of computing is so well structured and beautiful? its a nice place...or is this the tourist in me talking?! aahh...i dont know!

Back to the main point; Prof was the 1st to present and even I, the person he always tells me about his research, my jaw was on the floor!! His research is amazing! and the work he has done on it! WOW! ...WOW! I am a bit scared of PhD now, yet excited because I know he can be available to guide me towards such high-quality research initiatives. He is an inspiration.....

Tuija then brought in a very sensitive and controversial aspect of information systems research to the table; the socio-technical aspect! That is something we nerds do forget-> PEOPLE!!! Her research is going to be the 1st of many, she is addressing issues that can change the way information systems are developed...

The trip was short, we briefly met with Tersia and Myrium before having to leave immediately after lunch. They are very pleasant persons to be around so it was kinda boring for us to leave before chatting much. There is always a next time.....

On the way back we shared & compared African and Finnish upbringings, cultures, childhood games and the likes. It was interesting to know that I played the same games as someone Prof's age!! We even got to a point of discussing all the negative impacts of all these social media in our lives...and stuff like that; you know academics!

I am sleepy now, tired eyes...lemme stop writing before i go "ZZZzzzzzzz...." on the blog...

Posted by Kratos 11:29 Archived in Finland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The Savonia Design Academy

I will be taking some courses from them..

sunny 22 °C

Yesterday Sipho and I met Tuija from the Health Information Systems (HIS) department, she works with Prof Korpela. She had agreed to take us to the Savonia Design Academy of Kuopio so that we meet the coordinators there. Tuija is a very interesting person, so full of life even in her driving! Keeps you awake!LOL! I hope she never sees this entry! She first took us the offices of our University of Eastern Finland course coordinators before we headed for Savonia.

I liked Tuija's idea. Since we have walked into town before, she suggested that we drive to a place in town that we are already familiar with, then she'll find parking and from there we walk. This was a good suggestion since Sipho and I will spend most time on foot. We walked to Savonia and she showed us this place and that. Its always fun to be a tourist I see; even if you passed a place alone before, a local wil always tell you a story about it that will make you want to take a picture or stand there a little! Tuija walked fast and was focused so there was not much time for fun times with the camera while in her presence!!Well, I managed to get one or two outa her either way! you know me!
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One thing that most people dont know;Finland is damn expensive! So expensive that even people from the neighboring Germany and Turkey get shocked with the pricing here (true!!)! I mean, you would assume that Nokia here is cheap since it comes from Finland right? WRONG! Buy your nice Nokia there in your blessed country, this one is for the rich! Its understandable in a way; Finland education is regarded as the best in the world. It is by law that ALL citizens must go to school till they are atleast 16 years old! So its no suprise that Finland has 100% literacy!
Anyway, for us foreign students living on a tight budget, its always a pleasure to come across a second-hand shop. They sell good stuff, the second hand things look more new than some "new' stuff sold in our countries..shops like this one (can be expensive, but much more affordable):

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Anyway! lemme cut to the chase! The Kuopio Design Academy (Savonia) doesnt look like much from outside. Walk in and you wont need to ask what kind of school it is! Its written "DESIGN" all over! *not literally! LOL!* everything in there is design-oriented. From stairways, lounge, lounge sofas, wall displays, cafeteria, reception,lecture rooms....you name it! It is an amazing academy, you walk in and already want to sign up, thats something our universities in Africa should try doing! I asked how much it costs them to make the place such a beau, and the Saara (one of the coordinators) told me "Nothing really! We ask students from the different design streams to do their final degree project and try them here!If good, they get their good marks and the place looks nice & the student can always take pride when walking by!" .....hmmmm...food for thought!!
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After taking initial pics and meeting the coordinators as well as the director, Tuija left and we were in Saara's hands. She took us to her office and showed us what they offer. The default course is Service Design, taught by Satu. Satu once visited my South African university department and held a very interesting service design workshop with a few of us. Then we were told that we can choose more if our time will allow, Sipho took photography and I scratched my bald head a little-> I wanted the design-oriented enterprenur module but the times a difficult. I really want to be a good enterprenur after my Masters. Saara gave me the option to go sit at home and think them thru, then email her to check..good with me!! she then took us for a tour. Our classes start this Friday, they will be Fridays and Saturday mornings. From then we made Library & student cards, took more pictures and left happy!

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After this it was a long walk home, happy we were though. We got hungry half-way to Prisma (a local BIG shop thats affordable) but dragged ourselves there. Sipho got heavy flu and looks sad all the time, I hope she gets well coz she is not enjoying Finland anymore.oh! by the way, I took some beautiful landscape pictures as well.

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Needless to say, we bought some groceries and by the time I got home I was dead tired!!....keep watching this blog...& thanks for reading (",)

Posted by Kratos 10:30 Archived in Finland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

The Lappeenranta experience

ECSE summer school...Service Design

26 °C

On Monday the 9th August Prof Korpela came to pick us up and took us to the Kuopio station. There we met another Mikko (younger) who was also going to attend the summer school, but on a different course( Robotic visions).
The journey to Lappeenranta was long but pleasant, I played my krump in the MP4 player and that kept me busy 100_0387.jpg. 100_0389.jpg100_0398.jpg

We got delayed at Kuovela but no biggie. We waited there for like an hour or over. We were a little sleepy from trying to do last-minute reading on the course materials!

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And in Lappenranta I got my 1st big suprise; a Mercedes Benz cab?! jeez...I almost thought it was a joke! lol...well, see for yourself below! . Anyway,, we arrived late to the classes and had to sit in front (yack!). Afterwards we went to see the Karelia Park that was arranged for our accommodation. Jeez.THAT place aint awesome, nope! There was not even a single spoon in a room, they gave out coffee packets but no kettle! I mean..really now!Look at the room I shared with Bennett (Prof);. Later on it was a hunt for food, hunger calls! We walked a long distance into the city center to get some, it was tiring and our campus was clueless but hey! worth it in the end!

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The Service Design course was presented by Dr Tuure Tuunanen. He is a funny man, been around the globe and sure knows what he is talking about. He made sure that you take part and kept us all awake. He touched on several topics. started with the theories of business modelling, looked at things like service touch points, service blueprinting to mention a few. For more on the Service Design course I attended, check out; http://www2.it.lut.fi/ecse/course2.html The students were also cool, we were a mellow blend. Here are some of the snap shots;

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Too bad Sipho and I missed out on the sauna experience..next time (",)

Wednesday we joined the clans for the ferry cruise on lake Saimaa (its the 4th largest lake in Europe). Prof couldnt come with us coz he wasnt feeling well, sad coz he missed out. It was all fun tho, we even got to FINALLY make friends. We made friends with Myriam, Tersia, Leah and many more to mention a few. For Sipho and I, it felt good to finally meet some people. I mean, all were did with our spare time for the previous 2 days was look for the best yet affordable pizza available in shops, exchange movies and hole ourselves in each's room to eat away at the hours till morning. Made me a lil grumpy I must say, especially without my Kuopio streaming internet!

Lake Saimaa is a beau! It is so big and as I may have already mentioned; the trees! LOL! Myriam and Tersia are bored of the trees by now! They are still a "WOW!!" to us. The camera shutters clicked and clicked. The only boring thing about the 2 hour trip was that not even snacks were offered! I mean, not even a packet of crisps atleast?! Our organizers need to get their ducks in a row. All in all, the day was great. Leah even ended up inviting us to her place the for the following day so that we can have a good time (",)

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Took too many pics, if I try insert them all here the whole blog will look like Picassa home page! The rest will be on my laptop; I charge per photo view!Hey! I'm broke! Finland is expensive so bear with me here and take off the frown please! hehehe.... The ferry trip revived my spirits well. I was worried about Bennett though, his kidney stones were beginning to give him a problem and he looked very uncomfortable. That night it was fun; Prof and I had a long chat about many-a-different topics. From religion, politics, our up-bringings to Finland. It was a privilege for me (",). He is a very humble man, even when in Cape Town. Most of us always just greet him and all but I share a room with him and had long hearty chats with him! God works in mysterious ways...

The following day we got a new lecturer; Prof Matti Rossi for Action Design Research. He is knowledgeable but VERY different from Tuure! Most of us struggled to stay awake in his class and I felt sorry for him because people were just busy on their laptops. He struggles with his English delivery and is more calm than the chatty Tuure. He gave us group assignments (applying action research to our service design blueprints) to present after lunch. Here are some snapshots:

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Later on that day we chilled at Leah's place and had fun. Now this was fun! I met other African students studying in Finland. Some have been here for long. The ladies ran around preparing a well-appreciated meal and even made some cake! In the meantime; Nana chaired all discussions while sipping on his Koff beer! It was fun. Again, Prof could come through because his back was hurting. These kidney stones now worrying me coz he looks really uncomfy but tries to hide it- I like Prof (",). Anyway, at some point Sipho and I asked Nana to drop us off, he refused to drop us off just like that and told us that a friend of his has a chill session and recommended that we go there! Myrium, Sipho and I got restless but he promised to drop us off at Karlia Park afterwards, Tersia was sick so she went to sleep. It was funny when I tip toed into the room to drop off my laptop and Prof woke up! LOL! I felt like a son caught by his dad! He wished me well off to go and have fun. SNAP SHOTS;
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The following day we received our certificates and all! I got my Service Design credits!!whoop whoop! Cant wait to show it to Monty and Moms! My 2 most favorite women (",).. The closing ceremony was short and sweet. The other guys were remaining behind for another week of mobile gaming course. From then it was exchanging email addresses and Facebook contacts, then lots of photos. It was really a cool bunch.

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From then it was en-route to Kuopio. Boring trip because Lappeenranta was just getting nice! *sigh*..but we all gotta do what we gotta do ay? I was tired during the trip but chose not to nap like the others => My insomnia was going to punish me later if I did so. Prof wasnt feeling well; his kidney stones were making his day miserable. He even limped a lil and sadned me. I offered to carry some of his bags. Myrium suggested that he tries cranberry juice, we bought it when we got to Kuopio.

Its been an interesting 1st week...and all the way back to Kuopio I was thinking of my woman...my Monty. She is in South Africa and being here without her is really challenging. But in God's grace, I will endure all.

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See you soon Lappeenranta...

Posted by Kratos 02:36 Archived in Finland Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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