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Summer To Do List: Get it All Done by Fall…

I don’t know about you all but I have a lot going on this summer. So much so, that I started what I call my Summer Happy Fun Time To Do List™ to just get it all out of my head and down on (digital) paper. After this, I’m going to plot all this out on a real live calendar so I can get a spatial feel for the season. There’s nothing like using a real calendar to see you have 4 deadlines or events all one day. Also, because I’m concurrently in school for my MFA while running a business, it kind of feels like I’m “on summer vacation” when that’s entirely not true. At all. Doing this will help me balance out a design practice mixed with an academic practice. On to the show, here’s what is swimming around my head for the summer…

Ongoing Throughout Summer:

– land 4 new projects
– make something every day
– finish Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton
– finish 2 other interaction design books
– conquer Drupal
– upload all my photos to Flickr from last 3 years
– do user research for thesis
– purge 20% more of my books & papers, aka de-clutter
MFA Design & Technology summer thesis assignment


– enjoy my vacation to Brussels, Belgium (with a day trip to Paris and a couple of days in Malmo, Sweden!)
– web site launch
– thesis user research
– read Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky (CEO & Founder of Behance.com)


– finish Brooklyn Urban Homesteaders Unite project & user test (click for a click through demo)
– start practicing yoga
– start the Design Procedures class at School of Visual Arts Continuing Ed
Creative Freelancer Conference in Denver, 6/4 – 6/7 (I’m hosting a breakfast round table!)
#TechMunch NYC Food bloggers workshop, 6/10
– quarterly taxes, 6/15
Design for Drupal in Boston, 6/19 – 6/20


– finish applying for grants and scholarships for thesis year
– design an iPhone/iPad app (interface only)
– learn how to swim at the Y
– launch Brooklyn Urban Homesteaders Unite


BlogHer ’10 Conference in NYC – 8/6 – 8/7
– Fall promo project for papercut
– streamline all my blogs
– Final launch of web site
– squeeze out one last weekend away before school starts again
– drink to my awesomeness and not be disappointed if I don’t finish all of it.

So, dear readers, what’s on your Summer Happy Fun Time To Do List™? Do you need help with any of it? If so, feel free to ping me and let’s figure out how we can work together.

What On Earth Am I Worrying About?

I have a lot of fear. Paralyzing fear. Fear of finishing. Fear of starting. Fear of fucking up. Because of this, I tend to live by extreme ultimata and push boundaries of what is acceptable. That can produce tension between clients or school and I. Or even me, myself and I.

So what’s worrying me right now?

I’m currently working on a final project for this semester of grad school at Parsons MFA Design + Technology where I’m having to learn a completely new kind of technology to accomplish my larger goal. I’m designing and developing a site for the closely knit Brooklyn urban homesteader community to use as a a central repository for all of its home-based events. Those events could be Kate Payne’s Stich n’ Mend Party where people finally learn basic sewing skills to a composting or a bike repair workshop. Right now, one would have to be on Twitter, Facebook or blogs 15 hour a day just to keep up with all the good things happening. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time for that mess. The site would allow people to post their own events or ones they know about so it’s all in one place to check and that’s it.

It’s a medium – large project that I’m building out in phases. A key issue here is that I’m using the Drupal CMS platform for the first time in my life ever in order to do this. Even though I deal in web and tech, I at times suffer from low self-esteem and fear of it. You see, in high school, I sucked at math even though I loved it. To this day, it still amazes me that I made it all the way up to Pre-Calculus in high school. This is where one has to be thankful for nurturing and supporting teachers who push you to do your best.

My Drupal teachers/mentors right now are two amazing and wonderful women designers/developers named Jen Simmons and Dani Nordin. Dani introduced me to the concept of Drupal and reasons to use it over WordPress in some cases. Jen actually convinced me of the platform’s merits and pushed me off the gangplank into a sea of Drupal, but with a life preserver tied about my waist. Both Wonder Women™ have answered all my questions with a patience and respect for a new fearful user. Jen especially has been instrumental by holding my hand simply because she also lives in Brooklyn like me and we can ping each other in person more easily.

I owe so much to their patience and instruction that it’s Hallmark commercial-inducing. But we would rather just drink to it instead. That’s how we ladies roll. A huge thank you to you both and drinks on me next time.

So, what’s all this blathering about?

Anyway, I’m moving ahead in a the project and during a Drupal tutorial sprint yesterday, it hit me that it’s not so hard to learn. I’m working off Lullabot’s tutorials and I highly recommend them to anyone who’s ready to take on Drupal. They were on mega sale a few months ago and I picked up several packages all together for about $380. Money well spent x infinity.

I’m not sure where I should be in the project status due to paralyzing fear but I’m nowhere nearly as bad off as initially thought yesterday. So far I’ve done some sets of paper wireframes as pictured below and I’ve built the core Drupal site and it’s running off my laptop.

But, because of Drupal’s site/page building methodology, it’s actually better to lay elements out in Drupal backend first to see what’s possible before really designing an interface (thanks for the heads up on that one, Jen). Oh, and can I just say that there’s a Drupal module for just about everything? Except for the one thing I need which is integration with Eventbrite. Meh. For now, I’m using Eventbrite’s Ticket Widget as a workaround. Next step (for today) is designing the branding system with colors, fonts and doing a couple of home page design mockups. This should be a fulfilling day. Afterward, I’ll work on integrating the GMap module to embed Google Maps for each event and to attach to a Google Map to each user. APIs, here I come!

A year ago, I would have run away screaming from APIs, CMSes, PHP and anything that obnoxious geeky boys would normally do. I still worry about and fear this stuff but it’s getting better little by little (poco a poco as my mum used to say). Another fear of mine is a fear of heights. Every time I’m in a high place or a rooftop, I deliberately look over the side to test myself and dampen the fear a little bit each time. It’s working so far.

So, what’s worry or paralyzing you lately? Please share in the comments below. I’m sure others can relate and would like to hear your story. Thanks for listening to mine.