Grad Student Workflow, Part 2

As I mentioned in Part 1 last week, I will be going over my various methods for managing my workflow. Today, I will be discussing general task management.

Task Management

First, I will start discussing my workflow with the tricky topic of task management. I’m starting here because my task management system is fairly easy in comparison to some of my other workflow mechanisms.

My tasks can be broken down into Work and Personal. I will discuss my Work tasks here even though I generally use the same exact system for Personal tasks as well (because it’s all about keeping myself sane). Work tasks are then broken down into their various categories: general, PhD milestones, reading, writing, research (which is broken down by project). You can see these listed as “Projects” in Todoist below.

Work tasks broken down into their subcategories.
Work tasks broken down into their subcategories in Todoist.

For task management I use Todoist. I have tried several different to do list apps over the last few years and Todoist works the best given my needs. It meshes well with my other tools, is robust, and very flexible. It also has the added benefit of being somewhat reinforcing with its fun “karma points.”

Todoist is great because it lets you write out your task such as “write 1500 words every weekday” and it will figure out when the next time you need to complete the task is. You can read about other cool ways to use Todoist here and here.

Tasks for me, once divided into their subcategories, fit into a few different molds: one-off tasks, repeating tasks, and floating tasks.

First are the one-off tasks. These are things I only have to do once and then they are done. These are easy to just go to Todoist and say “write final paper for Inf 232 March 14.”

Second are the repeating tasks. These include my daily reading and writing (self-imposed) requirements, among other things. For example, “1500 words very weekday.” This would also include my meetings and classes. For example, “lab meeting every Monday until June 9” or “send weekly update every Monday noon.” And yes, I include everything as a to do item on my list – tasks, drafts, things I have read, meetings, and so on.

These first two task types (the one-off and the repeating) then appear on my daily or 7 day task list. I can see them coming or I see them as past due if I missed something. I use this extensively in my daily routine. This is how everything gets done and I stay on track. I even include tasks such as “update blog every Thursday” and “clean out email inbox every Friday” just to keep up with the things I normally put off as unimportant (and, therefore, never get done).

Third are the tasks that do not strictly have a due date. These floating tasks are more likely to be things such as my reading list or writing ideas. My reading list is just a list of things I plan on reading (soon). I add to it as new articles come across my Google filters or my advisor suggests an article. Writing ideas are just brief thoughts about things I might want to write about at some point. They are good for the days I have writers block and I can’t think of what to write. I include all kinds of things in this list including blog ideas, thoughts about my research, potential future articles to flesh out for a conference or journal, even things that might evolve later into new research or my dissertation. I also keep a floating task list of things I need to discuss with my advisor. That way, I can just pull up my “Meeting with my Advisor” list and check things off as I go over them with her.

I keep my 7 day task list at hand on my phone, so I can check things off on the go:

Task list on hand on my phone for tasks with upcoming due dates.
Task list on hand on my phone for tasks with upcoming due dates.

That sums up my basic task management. Next week, in Part 3, I will discuss how I manage my readings and citations.

Making “Safe” in a Minecraft Server for Kids with Autism

We discuss how parents are creating a “safe” space in a Minecraft virtual world for children with autism by continually reexamining the boundaries of what is considered safe and unsafe.

Ringland, K.E., Wolf, C.T., Dombrowski, L., and Hayes, G.R. “Making ‘Safe’: Community-Centered Practices in a Virtual World Dedicated to Children with Autism”. Proceedings of the 2015 ACM International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work, ACM (2015). [Acceptance Rate: 28.3%].

CHI 2016 Video Preview of Minecraft Paper

Ringland, K.E., Wolf, C.T., Faucett, H., Dombrowski, L., and Hayes, G.R. “’Will I always not be social?’: Re-Conceptualizing Sociality in the Context of a Minecraft Community for Autism”. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM (2016). To Appear. [Acceptance Rate: 23.4%]

Video: Development of EAPSI Project App Part 1

I’ve been making steady headway into my project development. This last week, I overcame some large hurdles which should mean smoother sailing this week. My favorite part? How iOS has speech synthesizing built right in.

Also- I realize the Japanese isn’t perfect! I promise, I’ll have a native speaker (or two) review my app before I show it off properly. 🙂

Keep on Dancing

[This is cross-posted on our Dance Craft website]

I made the trek across campus today to meet with Professor Andrew Palermo in UC Irvine’s Dance Department. I briefly pitched him our idea and explained what we could do with the Kinect. We talked about the dance classes he teaches at the local autism center. His classes consist of one part neurotypical dance class, one part partner dancing tailored to kids with autism, and one part dance routine. The dance routine is a composition of steps created by each person in the class. After our discussion, I am more excited than ever to move forward with our Dance Craft application for Kinect.

For our prototype that we will be demonstrating for the Autism AppJam, we will be creating an application that will encourage creative movement in the player/user. We will be focusing on something that can be used at home, outside of the dance class, to bring the creative motion out of the classroom and into the daily lives of the children. The great thing about this software is that set up and use will be fairly inexpensive for the typical. All that is needed is a computer to run the program, a Kinect, and a monitor/television.

I will leave you with a video of the inspiration behind Professor Palermo’s dance classes- a choreography called beyond.words:

Clothing Tags for Individuals with Visual Impairments

Kate at UMBC SURF Poster Session
August 8, 2012. UMBC SURF Poster Session

Self expression through clothing is inherently visual and is not readily accessible to those with visual impairments. Presently, the best method for conveying information is with high-tech devices that identify fabric colors, but don’t give information about pattern, graphics, washing instructions, or style. Designing clothing tags for the visually impaired user requires that the tags be discreet, comfortable, easy to locate, and that it be reasonably simple to retrieve information from them. With this study we contribute a collection of tagging systems that can be used in future research for the development and testing of fully functional tagging systems that will empower visually impaired users when making clothing decisions.

Ringland, Kathryn. “Accessible Clothing Tags: Designing for Individuals with Visual Impairments”.CHI 2013. Paris, France. May 2013.*

Williams, M., Ringland, K., Hurst, A. “Designing an Accessible Clothing Tag System for People with Visual Impairments”. ASSETS 2013. Bellevue, WA. October 2013.*

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Many children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, have sensory processing disorders (SPD), which can lead to inappropriate behaviors and impairments. One therapeutic approach to the kinds of SPD frequently observed in children with neurodevelopmental disorders involves the use of a variety of tools including objects with various textures and tactile sensations, mirrors, and Multisensory Environments (MSE) saturated with visual and audible stimuli and specialized equipment for sensory stimulation. However, children with SPD each have a unique prescription for the amount of stimulation they require for the therapy to be effective. MSE must be physically altered before each child receives therapy.

Traditional Multisensory Environments uses mirrors, lights, and objects with different tactile feedback.
Colored rubber balls of different sizes.
Various sizes and colors of balls used in SensoryPaint.

SensoryPaint is an interactive surface with the capability of superimposing the user’s reflection on a projected surface and “painting” this surface with balls of different textures and colors, which was designed to augment traditional therapies. This software uses a Kinect to detect the movements of the user and the balls. The user’s image is reflected on the screen, as well as their shadow superimposed on their reflection. SensoryPaint is a software originally developed at CICESE in Ensenada, Mexico.

Mode with painting and splashes.
Coloring Book Mode with the user using two different colors to fill in the strawberry shape.

Initial studies of the SensoryPaint system are focused on uncovering the potential of this technology to support sensory integration, including stimulus sensitivity, body awareness, motor functioning, and attention and engagement.

Ringland, K.E., Zalapa, R., Neal, M., Escobedo, L., Tentori, M., and Hayes, G.R. “SensoryPaint: A Multimodal Sensory Intervention for Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders”. Proceedings of the 2014 ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing, ACM (2014).

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Daily Log: CHI2013 Day 4

So, I’ve finally found time to write my last day of CHI entries. I was sad to see CHI be over, but on the other hand, four days of solid conference is a lot of conference.

I first attended Vint Cerf‘s talk in the morning (he was one of the inventors of the internet). I thought the whole talk was interesting. He discussed how everything is now going on the internet and it’s important that standards be created so everything can talk to each and talk to the aliens when they come to visit from outer space.  The best part of his talk, however, was when he ended the first part of his talk and launched into the necessities of accessibility. Now this just happens to be my area of interest. And apparently, not enough people are interested, unfortunately.

Vint Cerf talks about Computer Conversations
Vint Cerf talks about Computer Conversations
Star Trek and Ubiquitous Computing, Talking to a Mouse
Star Trek and Ubiquitous Computing, Talking to a Mouse
Vint Cerf at the Podium
Vint Cerf at the Podium
Slide on Accessibility
Slide on Accessibility

I then went the session on Autism. I enjoyed listening to all the papers presented. The first (Why Do They Still Use Paper? Understanding Data Collection and Use in Autism Education by Marcu et al.) covered why teachers and caretakers in schools were still using paper to keep track of all the student records. Basically it comes down to: there is no really good software solution yet for schools. The second paper (TOBY: Early Intervention in Autism through Technology by Venkatesh et al.) was about the Toby Play Pad, which is an app that is meant as an early intervention tool when parents find out their child is autistic. It targets four developmental areas: sensory, imitation, language (receptive and expressive), and social (eye gaze, joint attention). The third paper (Evaluation of Tablet Apps to Encourage Social Interaction in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Hourcade et al.) was on a method to evaluate tablet apps for encouraging social interaction. The fourth paper (Investigating the Use of Circles in Social Networks to Support Independence of Individuals with Autism by Hong et al.) was about social media and using social networks to support youth with autism. This helps shift the burden off over-reliance on the primary caregiver and spreads it around to other people in the youth’s social circles.

In the afternoon, I also attended a panel with Vint Cerf discussing accessibility and what’s currently being done. It’s nice to know some big names in computing are concerned about this and maybe it will get more attention this way.

Finally, here is a slide show of the rest of Paris, in case I don’t get around to a post about that part of my trip:

Daily Log: CHI2013 Day 2

Today was day 2 of CHI for me. It was a long, but wonderful day. I started by attending the CHI Women’s Breakfast. The food was very good and we got some very cool swag from Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. I met a table full of very interesting people including Bonnie John and Arnie Lund. While I was not very happy with the logistics of the breakfast (the organizers tried to direct our conversation, which ended up just making the conversation more stilted and less about what I would have liked to talk about). We still ended up running over into the first morning session.

During the first break I was supposed to talk to people about my poster. Unfortunately, my poster did not get put up after the judging session. I am sad to know I will probably not get it back because a lot of hard work was put into that poster and I was hoping to hold onto it.

My favorite paper for the morning was Analyzing User-Generated YouTube Videos to Understand Touchscreen Use by People with Motor Impairments by Lisa Anthony et al. This was another study that looked at a specific set of videos found by searching on YouTube. I learned about how valuable user generated content on the internet can be as a source of information about a group of people.

Then I went to lunch with my UMBC family. It is really nice to be able to spend time with some people here that are friendly, familiar faces. CHI is so large that it can be quite overwhelming at times. After lunch, I spent some time with Amy and Lisa. They both gave me a lot of really excellent advice about my upcoming transition to grad school. It was nice to get some insight into my journey ahead and also to know that there are safe people I can turn to for advice if I need it. It’s these connections to a support network that will ultimately be the most important thing I foster as a grad student, I think.

In the afternoon session, I especially liked the paper entitled Technology Preferences and Routines for Sharing Health Information during the Treatment of Chronic Illness by Carolyn Pang et al. This was a study of how families with an individual with chronic illness uses different technologies to connect with each other for comfort. This was probably one of my top favorite papers thus far, it’s up there with the Motherhood paper from yesterday.

I then spent about five minutes at the hospitality reception at the convention center. It was way too crowded with not enough to drink, eat, and do. I met up with a bunch of people later to attend the joint UW, U of Michigan, and Georgia Tech party. I met a couple of people that I was happy to meet. Otherwise it was another loud, crowded place with not enough to drink and eat.

I’m happy for all the connections I am making here at the conferences. I feel like I can start this summer of research at UCI strong now. But first! Two more days of CHI!!