Hospital UX

It was discovered about six weeks ago that I needed a minor operation. I’d be gloriously under general anesthesia during the procedure — the initial test that found the abnormality had been extraordinarily painful, so it was a welcome relief that I’d be asleep for the actual surgery. The only other surgery I’ve had was for removal of my wisdom teeth.

Previous Surgery
They put me in a chair, put a gas mask on me, and asked me to count backward from ten. I believe I made it to six. Later, I woke up for a second when I was placed in a wheelchair. I had no bodily control, so I collapsed forward. I passed out again as they caught me. Then I woke up two hours later in the car. Blood had filled my stomach. My dad had to practically carry me up our steps — three hours after we left the surgery. I spent the rest of the day groggy and nauseous.

Clothing
This time, I was whisked into a pre-op room. The nurse and every person I interacted with repeatedly asked me what procedure I was having. They had me verify my info multiple times. Then I was left with a purple gown, a stripped robe, socks, a heated blanket, two bags for my belongings, and a bright green eyeglasses case. It took some work to get dressed by myself, but I managed to do it. I felt a bit like a Japanese warlord with the big robe loosely wrapped around me! I realized that my gown had a weird outlet in it. This was so that a hot air hose could be connected to it to blow warm air directly against my skin if needed.

IV
When the nurse came back, she inserted the IV while I looked steadfastly in the opposite direction. My spouse was then brought in. The IV was just water and electrolytes, but as I sat there, pressure began to build up in my head and then ran past my ears to my cheeks. I couldn’t hear and my head began to bob. I thought I was going to vomit. The nurse scrambled to recline my chair, offered me a wet towel, and helped loosen the robe and gown so I wouldn’t overheat. After a few minutes, the pressure went away. I looked up to find my spouse pushed back in a corner watching me wide-eyed and a little pale himself. The nurse remarked that the color had come back into my lips. I still felt a little funny, but I could hold my head up again.

Waiting
After that, I was too nervous to really talk. I handed the nurse my notarized living will to add to my digital records. Then while we sat and waited, I played Pokemon Go and Fire Emblem Heroes on my phone. The anesthesiologist then came in. She told me that I’d be intubated too, so I needed to sign off on that. Fortunately, I had done some last minute blog readings the night before, so I had read what to expect. I put my phone away then and just stared at my spouse in terror.

Time to Go
Two nurses came to walk me to surgery. I took a pit stop and awkwardly hung my IV on a wall hook. A nurse had to take back over holding the IV bag while we finished the walk to surgery. Once there, the doctor and a nurse worked together to remove the striped gown. I tried to hold the purple gown shut while stepping up onto the stool to get onto the bed. They had me put my arms out on these small sliding tables on either side. My head was secured in a…pillow-cup thing. It was comfy. A blood pressure cuff was put on my left arm. At my feet, it felt like more blood pressure cuffs were added to my ankles. The doctor, while holding my hand, told me that it was a like a foot massage. A blanket was put over me. Then a nurse opened up a binder and began to read aloud what I was there for. I looked down towards my feet again.

Groggy

Afterwards
I woke from a heavy dream which disappeared as soon as I opened my eyes. My head lulled on my left shoulder. Across the hallway, a clock read 9:12 a.m. Now that I think about it, did they put my glasses back on me? I’m near-sighted so I can’t see that far on my own. A nurse was sitting next to me. After a few minutes, she noticed I was moving my head around. She asked me some questions about my well-being. My throat was sore and dry, so this was a little difficult. They then called my spouse by his cellphone. When he arrived, he took the nurse’s seat. She then went and brought me a delicious buttered English muffin and water. I was starving, so I gulped it down.

They wouldn’t release me till my blood pressure came back up. It was low. She adjusted my IV, made me drink some more water, and wait a bit longer. Slowly it came back up. She then took my IV out. When she left, my spouse carefully helped me change back into my clothes. I wasn’t in much pain. A lady then pushed me down in a wheelchair while my spouse got the car.

Overall
What stands out to me is that everyone was so nice and considerate. My prior experience as illustrated at the beginning was that the orthodontist’s office didn’t even care that I hadn’t woken up. I’m going to attribute how sick I got last time to potentially having had too big of a dose of anesthesia and swallowing a belly full of blood. Today I’m feeling a little disorientated if I walk around too much. Sitting up and writing this has been a little hard as my head keeps wanting to lean sideways. But now I have this written up for you!

New Zealand: The Stars are So Bright

Milford Sound -- 360. Click through to experience it.

Milford Sound — 360. Click through to experience it.

The above 360 degree sphere isn’t perfect. I’m guessing somewhere between Samsung and Google Photos, they didn’t line up the images correctly. You’ll get a taste of what it was like to be there. Just watch out for the sun — it is so bright. And the wind will occasionally blow so hard that you stumble a little in staying fully upright. The dreaded sandflies that everyone talks about? Mysteriously, they were almost non-existent. I got bit on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere instead of this legendary biting grounds. The tour guide sounded baffled as to why they and the endangered kea birds were missing. A drought was going on as the winter snow has been slight.

The foothills reminded me of Iceland.

The foothills reminded me of Iceland.

I posted some of my favorite daily shots over on my private Instagram account, so I’ll try to avoid posting them again here. In the above photo, you’ll note that the caption mentions Iceland. If you check out the image from that post, you’ll hopefully see the resemblance as well.

What can I say about New Zealand? My colleagues cheerfully asked me about my trip when I returned last week. It’s hard to say. Yes, it was beautiful. The biomes are so drastically different. One hour you’re driving through a temperate rainforest, then it shifts to glaciers, then you’re driving along an impossibly blue-green Tasman Sea, and before you get to that night’s lodgings, you are back in scrub and pasture land. It’s all so different. But I liked Iceland better.

Click through to see the photosphere. Mountains and ocean at once!

Click through to see the photosphere. Mountains and ocean at once!

My favorite parts? Kaikoura is a couple hours north of Christchurch. I don’t know who tossed it onto our list of destinations, but I’m thankful they did. It was possibly my absolute favorite place. The photosphere above shows you how wonderful this place is. On a clear day, you can see the North Island. Out beyond that ocean is Antarctica.

We parked the car mere feet above the water line. When you stood in front of our car and walked two steps, you could then hop straight down into the ocean. It was choppy and I was disappointed that it never sprayed the car. There was lots of great information about the Maori who built defenses on those terraced hills. Seals were resting on the rocks below. We kept trying to see a whale, but none showed up. We then spent the night in an authentic yurt on a farm. It was awesome.

Oh! There was also a big classic car show going on, the Kaikoura Hop, so the streets were packed with awesome cars. Every sidewalk, hotel, and house on the main strip was lined with people watching the cars go by. On our way up, we couldn’t decide if Kiwi were just obsessed with old cars or not. It was thanks to this event going on that we got forced to stay in the more expensive yurt.

Cool tunnel-cave.

Cool tunnel-cave.

Near the Franz Josef glacier, we tramped through a rainforest to get to a cool tunnel-cave. It was so hot walking up there. My NZ uniform consisted of a tank top, a t-shirt, a hoodie, a thin snowboarding coat, pants, and a ridiculous red hat which I bought for Pokemon Go-ing. I left the coat behind and traded it for a big poncho which I had purchased from Ikea. Across my back, under the poncho, was a camouflage tripod tube. Inside it I had shoved my bottle of water and red hat when it was time to go into the tunnel-cave.

The walk through the cave was boss. My new (and expensive) waterproof boots did a fantastic job. Well, until I was trying to be cute and avoid stepping in the three inches of water by going up onto stones. My ankle twisted too far to the left and water hit my sock as my foot slid. Otherwise, my socks were dry. My spouse on the other hand had the exact opposite experience. At the end of the walk, I gave him my thick hiking socks and wore just my liners back.

What can I say about going through the cave-tunnel? It was damp. My spouse had brought only one flashlight and carried it up front. My best friend walked behind and I brought up the rear. I was trying to document the trip on my phone, but I needed the light more. I aimed it at my best friend’s feet so I could follow where she stepped. My other hand kept touching the wall for balance. Since I don’t care to touch odd things, this was a little distressing. But when we got to the middle and could no longer see either end of the 300m tunnel, we turned out all the lights. Then we saw the glow worms.

They’re hard to see. They’re a beautiful light blue color and as a light, they’re not really distinct. You can’t trace the edges of them. If you look too hard, they go very fuzzy just like attempts to look at meteors straight on. Later that night, we came back to the same rainforest trail to see the glow worms that lived under the leaves. The sky was so bright with stars and the Milky Way, that my best friend commented that she thought she was seeing the stars still when she looked at the forest. Interestingly, the glow worms were only on the right side of the path, not the left (aside from a sole straggler).

The stars were so bright that I could read my spouse’s hoodie. Our faces were hard to view, but we could see the chalkiness of them. So picture this: a bright, starry sky with a wave of the galaxy running through, a forest black, a rocky path under your feet which you can almost see well-enough to walk on without a flashlight, and blue twinkling lights under the leaves. This was the best night.

There’s more to write about this trip like how we saw a whole palette of water colors as we circled the South Island. This post will be your teaser for now.

Weird fruit sculpture outside a farm/store.

Weird fruit sculpture outside a farm/store.

What is this?

Introducing the Publicity Manager

Hello.

Hello.

I’ve hung up my hat as the library’s User Experience Librarian. I am now the Publicity Manager. This is not the end of UX at my library nor the death of the UX librarian. Instead, my focus has changed. Broaden. Instead of looking at the miniscule so much, I will be in charge of overseeing how publicity moves through the Library itself. Since this change just took effect on Friday, August 19th, there will still be some echoes of my UX librarian self in the weeks ahead. That and I’m going to New Zealand for half of September. It’ll take me a bit to get up to speed.

Since this is something new, I’ll try to blog about my work more as I learn through this new journey. My first big project was started months ago and will premiere on September 7th: the Staff Art Show. On Wednesday, I’ll attend a Facebook Analytics workshop. What awaits me on this new arc of my career?

Photo in the Newspaper

Photo by Amy Laughlin

Photo by Amy Laughlin

Not my best work ever made in the hectic weeks ahead of the website launch, but the photo plus the photo manip is my handiwork. :-)

Other potential backgrounds was various racetracks, the Sochi Olympics, and other temples. The image I used is by Sam Valadi under CC BY 2.0 with the main change being mirroring it and using just the top portion.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

New Library Website: Staff Photos Finished

I wrote earlier about learning how to set up lighting for our staff photos. After about 30 hours of work in taking the photos, sending them to staff to select their best shot, retake some photos, process the photos, and finally upload them to our staging server. Here is the fruit of that work. You’ll be able to see it in full size very soon.

The stated objectives of this project was to take photos which share a common background to look more uniform on the site. I decided that people should be more or less in the same pose.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

Lessons Learned
I set up the photo studio alone, so the lighting is best for my own skin tone. This didn’t always work so well on others. Some photos turned out orange. I’d drag the main light back and forth to try and lessen the effect. After I attached the laptop to the camera so my colleague could see the photos as they actually are, I was able to straighten this out a bit. However, I still had to do some color balancing to fix orange casts on some photos.

At my current age, I’m still wrinkle-free so the lighting fell smoothly across my cheek. For some colleagues, the lighting spilled across their face to highlight their smile lines in an unflattering fashion. Perhaps I shouldn’t confess to this mistake of mine, but it was a serious issue that had to be lessened in Photoshop afterwards. I have a strong belief in treating others’ photos the same way I’d want my own to be handled: if it’s unflattering, don’t post it.

The same pose does not work for all people. I had people lined up so their toes pointed in one direction, rotate their heads to another, and then move their eyes to the camera. This pose did not always show people to their full advantage. I won’t correct this now, but there are a few people whose photos I’ll retake post-launch in order to do better by them.

I was hoping for a tool that would make it easy to batch resize and crop the final photos for the web. No such thing exists it seems. So I took several crops of my boss’ photo and sent it to him to choose the one he liked best. Then I set up guidelines in Photoshop (top of head, chin, left edge of face) from that. When I pasted in a new person’s photo, I’d freehand resize it till it fit those dimensions. This worked in most cases, but the tilt of some people’s heads or their fluffier hair may have thrown this off-kilt. In those instances, I tried my best to accommodate and make the photo work for them.

Finally, I could not tell the final results of the photos until I saw them all together today. Then I reopened some files and made final adjustments: contrast, vibrance, color correction, curves, and levels in order to create a pleasing equilibrium across the photos. Some people’s photos look wonderful on their own, but when paired with others, they needed a little more oomph in some way.

Portrait Lighting AKA What Color is My Hair?

For the new website, my boss has assigned me to take everyone’s headshot. Sure, I’ve taken people’s photos before for various little things in the Library. The photos are okay for being taken in the Digital Media Lab with “good enough” lighting. However, my boss said that people will be welcome to take these new photos and use them for professional headshots. Uh oh. What am I doing.

I took some photos yesterday in our videographer’s studio using a “hey, this looks okay to my naked eye” approach with a colleague’s help. The digital camera lets you preview the photos, but not zoom in so we couldn’t tell what we were doing. Today I opened those photos and saw the problem right away: overexposed. I sat in my chair, having a slight panic attack. Photographing some resistant people is bad enough, but trying to figure out how to fix the lighting by yourself when you have zero experience in complex light setups is another thing entirely.

After I managed to stop panicking at my desk, I grabbed my phone and the SD card. I wished fervently for someone to help me in my endeavour as the model. Even went upstairs to the Children’s Library and made some lame duck excuse after chickening out of asking. Then I decided that the only way forward was to do this entirely on my own. First task was to figure out how to set the camera to take delayed shots. Four hours and 185 minuscule changes later, I found the best lighting setup.

Things I tested:

  • Body pose
  • Head pose
  • Lighting on hair
  • Shoulder angle
  • Glare removal on glasses
  • Portrait mode (softer)
  • No flash (automatic settings — winner)
  • High stool
  • Low stool (winner)
  • Backlighting
  • Fill lighting

My spouse has seen the full set of photos. He said that the first shots look like I’m “so done” with this project. The final ones show a smile as I zero in on the lighting. In reality, I wanted a neutral expression so I wouldn’t focus on my face in particular when reviewing the photos later. The final photos include half-hearted smiles as I wanted to check the shadows that would result from that change.

Overall, I’m thrilled with the final results. My elation is tempered by “does photographing the setup and marking the floor with tape mean I’ll be able to reproduce this setup in the future?” I found a giant sheet of paper and wrote a note pleading with people to not touch the space. Then I clipped it to a chair. I couldn’t remove the glare without messing up the key light, so I’ll have people take two shots of themselves with and without glasses to Photoshop the non-glared eyes into the frames. It’s a compromise.

Darien Library Does Frozen

The fantastic ladies of the Children’s Library dressed up as Frozen characters for the December 30th Sing Along. They dressed up, took the photos, and sent me the link. I then selected these 5 photos out of 456 shots and created these images from them. Elsa took the longest to create. I believe the total time was probably around 5 hours.

These photos are the property of Darien Library. Frozen belongs to Disney.

Tech Fair: A Success!

My idea to host a Tech Fair went off this past Saturday without a hitch! John manned the 3D printers (very popular with kids), Sally the Google Glass (everyone loved them), and I took care of technology support/education, the Digital Media Lab, and the Small Office Home Office (SoHo) Business Center equipment. I think we got around 200 or so interactions. The most popular items on my table was the drone and the turntable.

Where did the Tech Fair idea come from? Well, I saw photos from the Gala where my colleague Alex showed off the 3D printers to attendees. I wanted to do the same thing, but make it more inclusive and not just for people who could afford to purchase gala tickets.

Sally proposed that we do the Tech Fair again in the Spring, so we’ll be back in April!

Halloween Photos

Our Children’s Library staff dressed up so nice for Halloween that I had to take their photos (in the Digital Media Lab). While doing some minor processing, I was inspired to add backgrounds. Here are the results + a couple other staff members.

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

My favorite bit is how the Library’s Twitter photostream looked for a bit.

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library