UX in PDX

After receiving a tip to check Calagator (calendar + aggregator) for tech-related events in the Portland area, I decided to attend the October meeting of CHIFOO (pronounced “ky – FOO”), the Computer-Human Interaction Forum of Oregon.

First on the agenda was the “CHIFOOd” meet-up at a pub[1] for some food, drinks, and discussion, which proved to be a good introduction for a newcomer like myself. The speaker for the night’s event (who I arbitrarily sat down next to before realizing who he was) proved to be as approachable and talkative as anyone else there. And perhaps fitting for a meeting of people who explore the human side of computer interaction, it was there that I first heard that Steve Jobs had died that day.

After polishing off some sliders and pints[2], it was time to amble over a few blocks to the main event. Thomas Tullis presented a program titled, “Why It’s Time to Move Beyond the Usability Lab,” which discussed a number of engaging examples of how and why to explore options beyond the traditional methods. In addition to keeping the floor open for quick questions during his presentation, several times during the program all in attendance were able to participate in live polls via text messaging. (I did acquiesce and buy a cheap-o burner mobile phone before embarking on our cross-country drive. I had the phone on me that night and abstained from voting in the first poll, but eventually gave in for the second and subsequent polls. Damn you, snakes!)

All in all, a very interesting program and a group whose meetings I’m sure I’ll be attending more of in the future.

  1. In spite of (because of?) Calagator’s technology focus, “beer” is one of the most prominent entries in the site’s cloud tag.
  2. This pub in particular offers the choice of US or Imperial pints. I was tempted to ask for metric, but ultimately restrained myself.
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