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Author: Ruth Ellison

UX Australia 2012 reflections

Ruth Ellison & Kim Chatterjee - UX Australia 2012, Day 1
Kim and I presenting our 21.5 ways of adjusting attitudes to accessibility (photo credit: Sarah Isaacson)

This past week, I had the pleasure of attending UX Australia 2012 as a presenter and attendee. Every year I attend, I say how brilliantly awesome it was…and this year was no exception. Great speakers (I had great trouble deciding which talk to attend at many instances), fantastic attendees (everyone was so friendly and interesting) and a great overall experience. What made this year particularly interesting for me was that I learned how reliant I am on my voice to interact with people and how important verbal communication is in building relationships (for me anyhow).

This year, I lost my voice.

The landing of Mars Curiosity

Curiosity: Robot Geologist and Chemist in One
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Yesterday, hubby and I were fortunate to have the opportunity to watch the landing of the Mars Curiosity rover on Mars at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex (CDSCC) at Tidbinbilla, with hundreds of fellow space geeks. It was a nail-biting landing sequence – I was nervous as anything as we watched/heard the landing sequence, but oh boy did I feel proud and happy when we heard the good news (there was also a few happy tears around the room, or was that Mars dust?).

Guerrilla dining

South Indian banquet - guerrilla dining style!

Earlier today, I get a text message from a friend asking if hubby and I were free at 1pm for a special lunch thing. I’m always keen to catch up with friends, but the “special lunch thing” really piqued my interest. Shortly after, I get an email. It tells me where to go at 1pm, what’s on the menu (a yummy sounding South Indian vegetarian banquet) and, because  this meal involves traditional dining with banana leaves, how to eat the meal with hands. At this point, my ever-increasing vegetable anxiety was tempered by this oh-so-curious email.

1pm sharp, hubby and I pull up outside a lovely house in a local suburb. My friend Clare happens to pull up at the same time. We cautiously approach the front door, unsure what to expect. We’re greeted by the friendly host, Shreeya. Shortly after, more fellow diners starts showing up. We sit in the  living room, warmed by the gorgeous Canberra afternoon sun streaming through the large windows. We make introductions. It’s Canberra. We’re all related in some way. I find out that some my fellow diners have just been to the snow, some have attended one of our past TEDxCanberra events, one knows a lot about Bonsai but we all have love of good food in common and we’re all pretty excited about the meal to come.

This is my first introduction to the concept of Guerrilla Dining, also known as Underground Dining. If you’re like me and have never come across the term before, it’s like a paid dinner party. It’s popular in Latin America and there are lots of similar underground dining scenes around the world.

GovHack 2012

Climate Vis Jewellery - Marble Bar, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne and Darwin

What happens when you let loose 140 hackers on Government open datasets over a 48 hour period? Totally awesome mashups and visualisations at GovHack, that’s what! On 1st to 3rd of June 2012, my hubby and I took part in GovHack 2012. GovHack is one of a series of events happening as part of Inspire Innovation (part of Innovation Week). I was involved as a mentor but, despite feeling the challenge of being a designer in a room full of great developers, decided to get involved as a husband and wife team called CrankyBot (based on my laser cutting design line). I was a bit intimidated by the amount of great hacking that was happening (you could feel the room buzzing with energy) but we had a couple of questions that we wanted to solve.