10 Questions with Jeremy Johnson.

The guy behind jeremyjohnsononline and the famous pixelimpact! He’s really into the whole information architecture and usability stuff.

[1] Paul: Care to give our readers a short introduction about yourself?
Jeremy Johnson: Sure, I’ve been in the Design business for around 7 years - working on a range of different projects from video editing to user experience. I’m currently working for geniant here in Dallas, TX as a Information Architect, but I also play a User Experience and Interaction Designer role.

[2] Paul: You have quite a number of websites, care to give us a brief intro to each of them?
Jeremy Johnson: Since the web is also a hobby of mine, I spend some (most?) of my free time blogging and designing just for fun. I’m currently running:

www.pixelimpact.com - where I blog about creative photography on the web (part of the 9rules network)
www.jeremyjohnsononline.com - my professional blog where I write about user experience and design
www.metrolifestyle.com - my photoblog - I also have a passion for photography (part of the 9rules network)
www.23hd.com - my personal blog where i’ll go off-topic on whatever is on my mind
www.digitalbauhaus.com - my visual portfolio (somewhat updated.)

[3] Paul: First… from your jeremyjohnsononline.com blog, we see you are really into User Experience and Information Architecture, does it really matter? Do you think User Experience can sometimes be more important than the actual application itself?
Jeremy Johnson: User Experience is the whole solution and encompasses IA, Design, etc… When you focus on User Experience you are making sure the full process is usable and useful as well as engaging. In the past we’ve seen a disconnect between the different areas that make up User Experience, as an example a site may of been designed well visually, but had poor interactions. We want to make sure the full experience is enjoyable.

[4] Paul: We really like your previous article on Web UI. It gives us a sneak preview of what we can expect from web application and websites to come. Do you think there’s a UI template which work best for web application? Why yes? Why not?
Jeremy Johnson: I don’t really see a template, but there are best practices - like the Yahoo UI library for example. Web applications will become more like desktop applications as browsers and other technologies progress, but there is still room for innovation in interaction design, which I believe will be a good topic for the next few years.

[5] Paul: pixelimpact; is another blog we love, but too bad it’s not posted too often. Hhttp://beta.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifow did you manage to get to know of all these photos?
Jeremy Johnson: You just called me out! :-) I know I’ve been slow to update pixelimpact, but running four blogs, working full time, and having a two year old around the house is time consuming. I’m trying to speed up posting, but it also has to do with what’s going on online. I have a huge amount of feeds I read, and I also keep up on photographic trends and news - this is where I come across most of the posts for pixelimpact.

[6] Paul: You have quite a lot of photos on the Italian CarFest in Grapevine;, TX, a lot of fast cars too. So what’s your ride? Lamborghni?
Jeremy Johnson: I wish! No I drive a very economical car, I have a long commute to work (need to save on gas these days). I love taking photos of cars, especially the details the designers put into them. The curves, door handles, air intakes, etc. The smaller the detail the better.

[7] Paul: Any exciting new projects we can expect from you in the coming weeks?
Jeremy Johnson: At geniant I work on a range of projects, most of them I can’t talk about per NDA’s or they are internal systems. One new thing everyone should be seeing in the next couple of weeks is a re-branded geniant. We’ve been working on a new identity and should be revealing it shortly. Personally I have a couple of new ideas in the works. If I can expand my blog network to six blogs in the next year I’ll be happy.

[8] Paul: Tell us 3 things we never know about you.
Jeremy Johnson: One… I currently live in Dallas, TX - but I’m originally from Indiana. Two… I’m a huge fan of video games and can’t wait for the Wii. Three… I’m a die hard mac user, but you already probably already knew that ;-)

[9] Paul: Anything you want to announce or shout to our readers.
Jeremy Johnson: I’d like to send a shout out to my co-worker and fellow Designer Jared (you need to interview him next, he’s a much better writer then me!)

[10] Paul: Any favorite websites you recommend us visit.
Jeremy Johnson: The “interenets” are huge! But how about a plug for my co-workers here at geniant:


10 Questions with Martin Ralya.

Treasure Tables who is ran by Martin Ralya brings together a community of intelligent, passionate GMs who are interested in reading about and discussing a wide range of game mastering topics.

[1] Paul: Care to give our readers a short introduction about yourself and what you do?
Martin Ralya: I’m a general manager for a national parking company, and I do freelance writing in my spare time. I was born in France, grew up in NYC, went to college in Michigan and now live in Utah with my fiance, Alysia, and our Beagle, Charlie. Alysia and I are getting married in less than two weeks.

[2] Paul: What 5 words best describe you? Why these 5 words?
Martin Ralya: Man, I’m terrible with this kind of question. Can I slide by with A, And, The, This and But? Seriously, though, I’ll go with: Laid-back, Friendly, Smart, Stubborn and Tall. All of them are things you’d notice about me within a few minutes - except for Stubborn, which might come as a surprise later on down the road.

[3] Paul: You do quite abit of freelance writing… How did you get starting in the whole writing thingy? Is it a full time job?
Martin Ralya: No, very definitely part-time. I’m more of a hobbylancer — my goal is to pay for my annual trip to GenCon by freelancing, not to make a living. By comparison to other areas - like journalism, or writing articles for magazines - the pay rates in the RPG industry are so low that I can’t imagine trying to make a living at it. I got started back in 2004, when I reviewed a small press RPG product and was asked to help write the next book in that line. From there, I answered open calls from different companies, gaining experience whilegetting a chance to work on a range of products. There are more efficient ways to build up a list of published RPG credits, but I’ve had fun with this approach.

[4] Paul: Did you learn writing from someone or school?
Martin Ralya: I grew up without a TV, so I’ve always been an avid reader. That plus a knack for writing got me started, and three great English teachers — plus several excellent teachers in other writing-oriented classes, mainly in college — got me to where I am today. I’ve never taken any formal classes in writing.

[5] Paul: Any advices or lessons you want to share with us about writing?
Martin Ralya: Reading a lot will improve your writing — any author, any genre, as long as it’s not crap. The crap can be pretty instructive, too, but the older I get the less time I have to waste on it. ;)

I learn something from nearly every freelance project that I take on, which is part of what I enjoy about writing — there’s always room to improve. Recently, I’ve read a few very good books about writing, and learned quite a bit from them as well. They were: Bird by Bird, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop, On Writing and Robert’s Rules of Writing.

As far as freelance writing for RPGs goes, the single most important thing you can do is meet your deadlines. Do that, and you’ll be bucking an unfortunate trend that (understandably!) drives editors frothing mad. Self-editing is also a good idea — not just spellchecking, but reading the whole thing several times and cleaning it up before sending it in. The less work your editor has to do, the better — and the more likely they are to get in touch with you again.

[6] Paul: Any exciting new projects or writing we can expect from you in the coming weeks?
Martin Ralya: I wrote 11,000 words of The Mother of All Treasure Tables, which comes out this month. I wrote my chunk as a freelancer for Tabletop Adventures, one of my favorite RPG companies to work with, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in print. I’ve got a couple of other very small projects in the pipeline, none of which have been announced yet. I'm also involved in a new endeavor that’s quite different from anything I’ve done in the past, but unfortunately that’s all I can say about it at the moment. Ooooh, mysterious.

[7] Paul: We are not going ask too much about TT or GM, that’s probably covered your previous interview. Has your favourite game changed since the last interview?
Martin Ralya: Nope, D&D and Call of Cthulhu are still my favorites. They’ve been my favorites for years, and while I like to play different RPGs, I don’t expect them to change anytime soon.

[8] Paul: Any games you would like to recommend our readers? Game we must play this lifetime.
Martin Ralya: I have a raging nerd-crush on Burning Empires, which came out a few weeks ago at GenCon. I just finished reading it, and it’s awesome - a fight-for-your-planet sci-fi RPG that’s all about character drama, high-pressure situations and tough choices. It’s written by Luke Crane, who created the Burning Wheel RPG, and based on the Iron Empires comic books by Chris Moeller. The setting is mix of original material and shades of Dune, Stargate SG-1, Battlestar Galactica (the new one) and Warhammer 40,000. It’s a brilliant book - well-written, gorgeous, satisfying and I haven't actually played it yet, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t rock on toast. It’s number one with a bullet on my list of games to play, and probably will be until I can talk my group into it.

[9] Paul: 3d6 is another blog of yours? What’s it about? Another websites you got but we dun know?
Martin Ralya: Yep, 3d6.org is one of my sites. It used to be my only site, and back then it was mainly a gaming site. Once I started Treasure Tables, I revamped 3d6.org to be all about my photos, although there’s a bit of gaming material on there as well. It’s strictly a personal site now, and there’s not much on it that I think would interest anyone outside of my family and friends. I also have one other small site, Utah BSG, which is dedicated to building the Battlestar Galactica CCG community in Utah. So far, it hasn’t been very successful.

[10] Paul: Finally, anything last words you want to announce or shout to our readers?
Martin Ralya: Thanks for having me here, Paul - I had fun with this interview!

10 Questions with Lim Zhi Xin.

Have you heard of Odds&Ends? Well, Odds&Ends is one of the runners-up in the 2005 Photobloggies Award in 4 distinct categories: Best South East Asian / Indian Photoblog, Best Writing of a Photoblog, Best Kept Secret Photoblog and Best Photoblog Design.

[1] Paul: Care to give our readers a short introduction about yourself and what you do?
Lim Zhi Xin: I am Zhixin Lim; student and photographer by day and your friendly neighbourhood Sleepyman by night.

[2] Paul: What 5 words best describe you?
Lim Zhi Xin: Smart, charming, funny, witty and delusional.

[3] Paul: You are in right doing your Actuarial Science studies in City University? Er… what’s Actuarial Science really?
Lim Zhi Xin: The official blurb for Actuarial Science is that it makes financial sense of the future. An actuary evaluate the probability that an event would occur and devise ways to minimise the ensuing undesireable financial impact. Some actuaries are so good, they’re almost clairvoyant.

[4] Paul: In your photoblog you stated that you are looking for freelance or part time a job as event photographer. What’s your rate like? They always say if you dun tell me how much it’s going to cost me, we might not never buy it from you.
Lim Zhi Xin: My first gig was for a 2-day holiday camp for a group of kindergarten kids (here’s one of the shots from the event). As it was done on my aunt’s request, I was paid pretty much next to nothing. I’ve wised up; I’m open to any offer as long as it’s in the region of 500 to 1000 pounds. Nah, just kidding. The rate would have to depend on the amount of work involved and the availability of free food and booze.

[5] Paul: How did you get started in the whole Photography stuff? Any advice for upcoming photographers out there who wish to to learn the trade of photography?
Lim Zhi Xin: I kind of knew instintively since young that I would take an interest in photography later on in life. It probably has something to do with the fact that my dad used to be an avid photographer and having seen his collection of photos (I have vivid memory of seeing his experimental long exposure shots), I thought it would be a cool thing to do. I started with a “prosumer”-level camera with shutter and aperture priority and have since moved on to a dSLR. If you’re a photography enthusiast, you’ve got to have a dSLR in your arsenal; it doesn’t translate to better photos (subjectively) but on the technical level, your Canon IXUS just can’t beat the high-end optics and the lack of shutter lag of a dSLR. If you’re just starting out, here’s a great site on the basics of digital photography.

[6] Paul: You are quite a gal person with Cammie and Nikki around you all the time. Meet anyone new recently?
Lim Zhi Xin: A gal person? I wish! Am still waiting to meet Alexis Bledel.

[7] Paul: Has Odds&Ends won more any awards recently? What’s your plan for the future? Full time photography maybe?
Lim Zhi Xin: Nope, but I would like to think I’m awarded everytime someone responds to my posts. In the immediate future, I hope I could get the all-important summer internship in the insurance industry. In the long term, my passion is in movies and film-making and I see photography as a stepping stone to that end.

[8] Paul: Any exciting new projects we can expect from you?
Lim Zhi Xin: Not at the moment as I forsee a busy term ahead. Plus, I’m experiencing my longest creative dry spell to date.

[9] Paul: We really like some of your pictures, how can we get our hands on them? Do you sell them? How?
Lim Zhi Xin: I hope to get a photobook out one of these days. I was supposed to work on it during the summer but it didn’t quite work out. It might turn out to be a blessing as at the moment, I don’t have enough shots fit for a book.

[10] Paul: Finally give us some websites you really really like.
Lim Zhi Xin: I love my daily dose of imagery and my Rocketboom fixes and most of the sites on my links page.