Get rid of the Buttons

Drabble Comic

“Just make a button…” It’s one of the most noob requests that makes my hair stand on end. Why? Who needs it? Can we get the same effect in some more subtle way? Did you do any research? (likely no). “But it’s easy, and a call to action!” Yes… but does it do what the user expects? If not, then it’s worse than not having the button.

I had to make this argument to myself the other day, and after realizing I can ax 3 of the 5 buttons on my prototype, I just felt this sigh of relief. So. Much. Better.

This assignment is for my bootcamp in UX design at Bloc.io. Even before this bootcamp, I was thinking of making an app, just for fun. I was thinking of making it artistic, a movement of all the transit happening in the city like watercolor swirling around, but using the backbone of real-time data. It just happens that the assignment was to research and create the first couple screens of a transportation app.

The ah-ha moment I had from above came after I had put these 5 buttons at the bottom of my app:

Then I thought to myself: this is a transportation app. Is there any reason why a user would want to disable seeing the bus lines or active buses on the map? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ … and I could find no reason. Then I asked a couple bus users and they blinked, and said, well.. probably not. So I wiped two of the buttons off, moved the download button to a less important location… et voilà:

Why give the option of toggle if you don’t need to? Anyways, if there seems to be a legitimate reason to wipe the screen clean, I can always add them back. But for now, let’s just have a zen moment of less buttons 😎

Thanksgiving in Tigard

A little late posting, but better late than never. Was just having too much fun since Thanksgiving apparently and had no time to post.


This year, I decided to forgo the “usual” Thanksgiving dinner with the usual suspects in Portland (family/family friends and their kids, now mostly “adults” in their 20s… time flies!). Also, I can’t really eat the typical thanksgiving foods anyways, due to my body’s hostile response to certain organic molecules.

The decision took its course based on the challenge from a close friend’s parents: why don’t you make us a dinner that you can eat in its entirety and that is delicious and we can’t tell it’s xyz-free. To be specific: no egg, no dairy, and no gluten. Challenge accepted…

Not to be a complete spoiler, but I even surprised myself in how good everything turned out, of course not without help of my minions…C,D, and G. (names not published for anonymity)

The first step was to brainstorm dishes. I wanted to include seasonal vegetables, like mushroom and pumpkin/squash. Apparently they have good vitamins and minerals we need with the cold-sunless season coming up, among other reasons. Here’s the final list:

Drink:
Mulled Wine

Appetizer:
Curried pumpkin Soup
Mixed Pumpkin Seed and Currant Salad

Main Course:
Mashed potato-carrot
Vegetable Medley
Turkey with Cranberry-orange sauce

Dessert:
Mini Cheesecakes
Chocolate Mousse

The day before Thanksgiving, I had to figure out what order all these things should be made in. It was almost like a programming problem. Here are all the things to consider:

  1. Time to make dish
  2. How much time after making it would it have to either
    1. Sit before it was good (for something like cheesecake to solidify)
    2. Be eaten before it would cool down and be no longer good to eat unless reheated
  3. What kitchenware was needed, or appliances that were shared, so the dishes couldn’t be worked on simultaneously.
    1. In some cases at all (where it was on the stove and there’s no more space, or there was only one large enough pan, etc.)
    2. other cases only for part of the preparation (i.e. need of food processor for one of the steps of dish).
  4. Who was making the dish (even I can’t be making 4 dishes at once, at least it would be difficult…)

Considering all the above, here is how the list played out, with some overlaps with multiple people helping out.

  1. Turkey
  2. Mini Cheesecakes
  3. Cranberry – Orange Sauce
  4. Soup / Salad
  5. Mashed potato – carrot
  6. Mulled Wine
  7. Vegetable Medley
  8. Chocolate Mousse
  9. Mulled Wine

(Yes I’m an engineer for those of you wondering…and yes, I was very serious about this. All or Nothing. Just to make it more difficult, I biked from Portland to Tigard, carrying part of the food I was going to use. Not crazy at all. Nope. The glass bottle of maple syrup survived my fall on the icy road, not to worry. )

Here are all the pictures from the process:

Cheesecake Crust made of ground dates and hazelnuts in muffin tin
Cheesecake Crust made of ground dates and hazelnuts

Cheesecake no-cheese filling made from cashews, coconut milk, agave, and lemon juice
Cheesecake no-cheese filling made from cashews, coconut milk, agave, and lemon juice

Mini cheesecakes filled with cashew filling and spiced with a variety of flavors: strawberry, banana-rum, raspberries, and moreMini cheesecakes filled with cashew filling and spiced with a variety of flavors: strawberry, banana-rum, raspberries, and more

Homemade vodka tonic with some festive cranberry mixer to improve the mood while toiling in the kitchen
Homemade vodka tonic with some homemade cranberry mixer to improve the mood while toiling in the kitchen

Caramelizing onions as first step to sautéed veggie dish
Caramelizing onions as first step to sautéed veggie dish

Chopping Green beans for the veggie sautéChopping green beans for the veggie sauté

Finishing touches on the green bean-mushroom-onion sauté, simmering on lowFinishing touches on the green bean-mushroom-onion-asparagus sauté, simmering on low flame

Mashed potatoes and carrots with coconut oil and spices. A south french twist to regular mashed potatoes Mashed potatoes and carrots with coconut oil and spices. A south french twist to regular mashed potatoes

Leafy green salad with tomatoes and pumpkin seeds
Leafy green salad with tomatoes and pumpkin seeds and walnuts

Mixing mashed pumpkin and curry-coconut soupMixing mashed pumpkin and curry-coconut soup

Soup ready to eat, garnished with roasted pumpkin seedsSoup ready to eat, garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds

Boiling Cranberries for an unsweetened sauce experienceBoiling cranberries for an unsweetened sauce experience

Food processing boiled cranberries with a fresh orange including the peel. Adds a bitter taste to the soft sour cranberries
Food processing boiled cranberries with a fresh orange including the peel. Adds a bitter taste to the soft sour cranberries

This turkey was incubating in the oven at around 170F since the day before. We had to increase the temp towards the end to kill any remaining bacteriaThis turkey was incubating in the oven at around 170F since the day before. We had to increase the temp towards the end to make the outside perfectly crisp

Finely Chopped bakers chocolate from Trader Joe's to be melted for second dessertFinely chopped bakers chocolate from Trader Joe’s to be melted for second dessert

Accidental art with chocolate. It is ready to be mixed with tofu and coconut milk for the vegan mousseAccidental art with chocolate. It is ready to be mixed with tofu and coconut milk for the vegan mousse

Mousse almost ready: just need to press go!
Mousse almost ready: just need to press go!

Chocolate Mousse garnished and ready to be devoured. There's a separate stomach for dessert, right?Chocolate mousse garnished and ready to be devoured. There’s a separate stomach for dessert, right?

All ready to eat, five hours later. yumm :)All ready to eat, five hours later. yumm 🙂

The table is set, freshly cut linen courtesy of C. All about presentationThe table is set, freshly cut linen courtesy of C. All about presentation.

Mt. St. Helens – the Edible version

This was a journey requiring 1 hour of shopping, 6 hours of mixing and baking, and 1.5-2 hours of decorating. The idea came out of a weekend getaway in the enchantments. On the drive home, a two hour discussion then turned into reality: a cake in the shape of the famous Mt. St. Helens. It even included spirit lake, the logs, and certain contours around the area. Besides that, all the ingredients except for the tan-sand colored frosting was home-made. The base material was made of a sponge cake, the same as what the Hungarian Dobos Torte is made of. Here is the time-lapse in pictures:

First rough cake-looking part. This will be the main mountain.

Image of one of the thin layers. Kind of falling apart but it will be used!

The frosting I made – It is a mixture of coconut oil and semi-sweet chocolate chunks from trader joes

Spirit lake being created…

Cutting out contours for the glaciers

Bird’s eye view of the contoured mountain. Looks like a mess without frosting and cover up.

Closer image of contours

Frosting starting to be applied

Almost finished, only the vegetation missing now.

Finished! (not the best quality…) this is when we presented it to the birthday boy. Maybe next time I’ll put an explosive in the crater or some dry ice or something.

The birthday boy was really happy for the cake. real man hug 😉