Friday, September 24, 2010

Left hand right hand...

I must admit that I'm usually rather observant. I like to see and register things and then wonder why they are as they are. I'm also pretty evenly ambidextrous and that gives me another view to some things. There are millions of details in the world that are carefully thought of, we just don't notice them very often. But that's exactly what makes it curious. This is what I was thinking about today.

Things for right-handed people

All of the things in this pic were made for right-handed people! As left-handed, you can use them with almost perfect ease, but you won't get the full user experience as it was meant by the person who designed them. A pen? Yes, I write with my left hand and I sometimes change the pen to my right hand just to see the text on the side of the pen right side up for once. The scissors are tricky and I'm happy that I'm right-handed in this skill! Left-handed scissors are not always easy to find, because the blades need to be mirrored so that people using their left hand while cutting can actually see what they are cutting. Those scissors look ok to be used for both hands, but that's not the case. The spatula is also for right-handed if you want to use it right side out. Otherwise the edge is pointing away from the pan. Books, magazines, cd and dvd covers... Whoever invented the idea of opening things from right to left might not have thought about it, but he was definitely right-handed. If I browse through magazines I need to start from the back and flip the pages from back to start because I use my left hand for this. And admit it, when you are reading a book, it's easier to turn the pages with your right hand. (This of course raises the question about e.g. Asian way with the books.)

And then comes the idea of clockwise vs. counterclockwise. I would say that for left-handed it's easier to turn things counterclockwise when right-handed people find it more natural in clockwise direction. (This must have to do with how far can you turn your hand in which direction and with what strenght.) That's why e.g. pencil sharpeners work only with clockwise turn as well as pointers in clocks (and pretty much all knobs in the world anyway). Lids and screws are originally designed so that for right-handed people they are easier to close than to open - that's their priority funcion anyway, to keep things tight and from escaping. (And since I tend to use my left hand in this I really find it easier to open things than to close them ranging from certain wine bottles to jam and stuff. But not to screws, screwdriver I use with my right hand!)

All of this I find extremely interesting! And it's everywhere. Today, I noticed a particular oddity in our kitchen. But after a bit of thinking it wasn't that odd anymore, only another proof how well things are designed - for right-handed people.

More things for right-handed people
Why are there two knobs where the numbers are running clockwise and two where they are running counterclockwise?

Great design. First, the stove plate that is used the most is located right and front on the stove top. It's knob is right-hand side in the panel. That stove is always small, mostly for boiling things in water. You need to get it hot fast, so the highest temperature you reach easily by turning the knob once clockwise with your right hand. The same applies to the other small stove plate. The bigger ones are rarely used to boil water. They are more likely for stewing in lower temperatures. So no need for extreme heat but more variety for lower levels. You reach these again easily by turning the knob clockwise with your right hand...

These things are great to spot and lots of fun to think through. I never get bored of thinking how the world works and why things are like they are. Breaking one's own habits is often quite a lot of fun. Yes, I can write with my right hand, too. :)

The Big Picture

When I was around 12, I read pretty much everything about astronomy I could find. Since then, I've been buying books I find interesting, mostly factual books and not that much fiction. (I have the idea that fiction you can borrow from library, but fact books you rarely read straight through, but want to return to them in later date.) Today I suddenly noticed that I haven't read those books for ages, sometimes I even forget they exist in my bookself. That's a pity, since after several moves from one flat to another I've kept only the ones that mean the most to me and the ones I think I want to read in some (near) future.

These books are not supposed to be read from cover to cover, at least I don't do that very often. But I love the feeling of knowledge in them and the idea that I can read only a small bit about some certain thing that interests me today. Every book carries a feeling of some certain part of science or history or both. I love that personal feeling in every book I have.

Some of my astronomy books
A small collection of my books

Here are some of the books I find most intriguing. Maps of Time - an Introduction to Big History is exactly what it states. It charts the history from the Big Bang to the present. While browsing it, I always end up thinking of those billions of years when it didn't seem to happen much in the Universe - but lots of things happened anyway. Star Names - Their Lore and Meaning is kind of a dictionary to all of the star names known. Even if it's rather old (the original text dates from 1899!), I find it fascinating that we still use partly the same names and see the same shapes in the sky as the people from more than 2000 years back in time. There is certain romance involved in that.

Rare Earth is a puzzling read. It's describing what features a habitable planet should accommodate from its position in a galaxy and a stellar system to what kind of elements and compositions it should have. After reading the book one really sees how fragile we are. And after that, The Life and Death of Planet Earth will further point out how small we are in the midst of the great powers of Cosmos. This feeling I love. (As well as reading those Feynmans and seeing how easy it is, after all, to enjoy life in general.)

Looking at my bookshelf, somehow it feels unlikely for me that the e-book will ever replace the old-fashioned user interface. But things might look different in 10 years time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Paper doll episodes

After finishing the Alexx Wesselsky Paper Doll last May, I didn't think of doing another one right after. Still, Alexx is not the only person in Eisbrecher and you can't really even consider the band without Noel Pix, the mastermind behind the compositions, producing, lead guitar and several other importances. Actually I like his way of not making a show of himself but staying in the background. That's why I thought I should give him the respect he earns - in my own peculiar way.

To design a paper doll is not an easy thing to do. When starting, I have to decide the stance the person is standing in. It has to be natural for the person, so I have to know how they move in the stage and what their characters are like. The stance also depends on what things the doll is suppose to hold in its hands and how thick the clothes will be (i.e. how far the edges reach from the body so that they won't block hands, etc.) I drew the first sketches already during the summer and transferred them to Illustrator for better manipulation.

I drew people from Star Wars in my early teens and already then I realised that copying someone straight from a pic is relatively simple, because the model is 2D. But if you want to draw someone into a pose you don't have direct picture of it becomes more difficult. I had to browse the Net looking for pics that had somewhat similar pose for both paper dolls and then form a 3D image in my head about how do these people actually look like. I had huge difficulties with Noel's face, since there are far less pics of him than of Alexx and he seems to look slightly different in each and every one. His face is also filled with very small lines that create his character - if you leave even one of them out or draw an extra one you miss his persona. I did as well as I could...

After the body was finished it didn't take long to draw the clothes, since they don't need to be so exact by looks. The guitars were a challenge, since I don't know anything about musical instruments or their brands. I couldn't google them so I ended up drawing them straight from the pics. Unfortunately, they were often incomplete, so I had to trace the parts from several different images. But I managed after all and finished this thing, too. :)

Here's a pic of both of the paper dolls on my wall.

Noel Pix and Alexx Wesselsky Paper Dolls

And here's the link to the pdf-file for your own Noel paper doll. (Alexx was already here. Both files are about 3.6MB.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Projects, projects

I seem to be having a bit too many projects going on at the mo. I feel like doing a lot, but never get into it, because I can't decide what to do... I should be doing that Star Party project for next spring, because there is LOADS of things to do, but I always end up doing something else. Mostly related to Eisbrecher. I really don't know why, but that fanart thing has grown on me. It's amusing but slightly frightening to think what do people actually think about me, constantly putting some really wacko ideas into public display.

I started to wonder why do I get so many hits in this blog nowadays until I noticed that someone had found my Eisbrecher Stage and linked it to his blog. Pretty cool, I think it was just a load of fun, but checking some other stuff there makes me think that that guy seems to have some level with quality... So I feel like being flabbergasted and in good company. :)

After some rough battles and unstitching I finally managed to finish the handicraft I've been doing lately. It was actually made from the thread that was leftover when I finished those Rammstein pillows earlier this year. Now I feel really naked not having any handicraft on the way. But the planning takes some time and that's another project I don't fancy doing right now. Well, we'll see when the inspiration hits me again. But I really should get more into that Star Party thing...

Here's the finished handicraft.

Eisbrecher embroidery

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Those minor differences...

The first week of my second year in TAMK Media started last Monday. This first week wasn't terribly overloading, we only had a couple of hours English on Monday, User Experience Design on Tuesday and Project Management on Wednesday. That was is. This first period is working with the same schedule until October, so I need to find some other projects to keep me busy. I have some, surely, so no worries!

We have quite lot of exchange students this year, and I started to wonder about the differences in the school systems around the world. I know something about German schools, since my pen pal is freshly graduated teacher. Finland enjoys a very high status and reputation in having one of the best school systems in the world. At least in our school it's partly because the teachers and students share a very close relationship. I have most of my teachers as my Facebook friends, in the school parties I might join them for a beer, and I've even attended a dinner party once with several international guest teachers from all around Europe. There's nothing wrong with that, even if most students (read: everybody else but me) are not interested.

And we have pretty much free hands to do whatever we want, as long as we understand what's the idea. Last Wed, in Project Management, we talked about what challenges one faces when undergoing a project. We formed groups and made a small presentation about the subject. I, for one, hate typical PowerPoint presentations, because I can never remember what was discussed. According to Presentation Zen there shouldn't be more than 6 words in each slide. (Otherwise it's hard to grasp.) But you can do it otherway, too. Our group ended up taking another approach. And even if the exchange students in our group were a bit dubious at first, it turned out pretty good. Yes, we really gave out this presentation. And apparently it worked, since the teacher quoted our lines later during the lesson. :)

How to Screw up the Project (.pdf)