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This week’s new adventure was inspired indirectly by a friend’s hardship. My new roommate recently broke up with their not-anymore-significant other recently, which in turn was the reason they moved in with me and my boyfriend.
Instead of another night of watching movies and cooking dinner, they wanted to go out and drink. Even being in my early twenties I have not been able to really go out in the past few months: I know, I know, a couple months of no night out is almost like depriving a twenty something now days. It’s sad.
But, anyways, we went out and tried a familiar place first: the Flying Saucer in Addison. I’ve been to this bar before and have never really been impressed by it’s atmosphere nor audience. But this blog is about new places to go in Dallas, so let me get to the better part of this story.
While my roomie and I were enjoying the not so exciting atmosphere of the Flying Saucer, I texted an ex-co-worker to see what they were up to that night. I received a text back, “The Londoner!” and then another shortly after, “COME!”
So we kicked it into high gear, finished the rest of our drinks and left for what would become a nice surprise.
We were greeted at the door by a friendly bouncer (uncommon I think!) He didn’t even double check my paper ID, which I just got because I lost my actual ID…
Anyways, when we got in there, a waitress quickly served us our drinks and we were having fun all three of us gals. A real fun time out on the town. The Londoner was a pretty nice environment. It hosted a unique theme of London everywhere around inside and outside the bar and plenty of happy faces. It seemed like a bar of regulars. We had many people introduce themselves as though, and all were extremely nice. The best part about the night, which may sound a little obscure, but none of us were really hit on in an inappropriate way. Of course nicely dressed gals will have a few guys approach them with some kind of pick up line, but it really seemed like they just wanted to chat. I felt oddly comfortable at this Londoner place and would recommend it to any gal looking for a girl’s night out.

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This week included yet another venture to a restaurant. My boyfriend and I received a rather late Christmas gift from his Dad, a Cheddar’s gift card. I had never been to a Cheddar’s, nor have I heard of it (being from a small, rural midwestern town). Let me say one thing. Tasty!

My first impression of the overdone typeface of the neon red sign was that it would be a grease filled cheeseburger experience that would turn me to the pepto afterwards. My time there was quite the opposite. The prices were reasonable and the proportions are great. I knew it as soon as we entered the lobby: I saw one happy customer after another pass me with take home boxes.

I ordered the Key West chicken and shrimp which came with two sides… the options! The intense flavor of the chicken and shrimp with teriyaki sauce was such a great combination! Pineapples accented the top of the chicken, laying on a bed of yellow rice. The green beans that my other half ordered as well tasted bland because of the punch of flavor the meat contained. However, I was told they had such good flavor.

The boyfriend ordered a half rack of ribs. They had a surprising smokey taste that filled your mouth: like they were smoked for days. It took me back to the days we would visit a small barbeque joint in my hometown in Kentucky. So full of soul. I know it’s sad to talk about food like this: but it’s a proven entity in our lives that gives us pure happiness and joy, so why not live it up?!

I’m on a roll with this restaurant happenings and tastings. This week may bring another tasty experience my way.

This week I decided to try out a new restaurant in town and also see the Las Colinas horses.

The restaurant of choice is called Fuzzy’s and it was fantastic! The inside is rather hometown-esque, with wooden booths and chrome chairs. Funky fish decor hung on the walls and a chalk board like menu was placed above the cashier. The excitement flows throughout the little restaurant, making a great group environment setting. It was a great ending to a unsatisfying trip to see the mustangs of Las Colinas.

It was getting dark as we drove to see the bronze horse statues. We even did our homework before leaving the house. Wikipedia said this group of mustangs were the largest bronze horse statues in the world. I don’t know if the night light made it hard to see these “humongous” statues, but when I hear the largest in the world, I’m thinking larger than life at least. These horses, although presented in a pretty building’s courtyard, were not the awe-inspiring site I came to see. It was a let-down.

I had brought my camera; excited to take pictures of this Texas gem. Instead, we kept driving past and felt our stomachs start to rumble. Fuzzy’s was there to save the day.

I definitely recommend Fuzzy’s. They serve mainly tacos made with the freshest ingredients. The queso is definitely worth trying as well!

Even with the roads coated with ice and snow, I still managed to venture out around town to find something new. This week brought me through a time warp.

My Aunt that lives in Frisco is an avid antique shopper. I have never been with her on her excursions, but thought it would be a fun trip together for her birthday celebration- a week late celebration, but it’s better late than never!

We went to larger than average store in Mesquite, The Antique Gallery. The front of the store is just being finished with two nice sized hand painted signs on either side. Just the feel of the store before you walk in makes you remember those good ol’ days. Memories flashed before my eyes of days I would look through my Grandmother’s valuables she stowed away in her chester drawers. So many items carrying stories of the past.

Looking around, that memory was multiplied. My aunt, being the expert she is, would tell me ever so often about a very unique and valuable item. Like the tin coke-a-cola carrier. “An RC one is even more rare,” she explained as we checked out the $68 price tag. I was in awe of how many things you can learn from walking around the 36,000 square foot shop (more like a mall!).

The workers are knowledgeable about each vender and their items. A young red-headed man came up to us while we inspected a set of cherry wood chairs. “Oh, that vender is from Pennsylvania and rarely comes down here, but to drop off more items to sell,” he explained. I wanted to buy the set of chairs, but it came with a dining table and a bed suite that I was not interested in investing in. Sadly, I did not purchase the chairs.

There were tons of things in the store that I wished to purchase, but only left with two necklaces totaling a wopping 4 dollars.

Their prices are lower than the usual antique shop in the city, so it makes for a better find, when you do find your perfect item to accent your living room, dining room, or wherever!

That concludes this weeks “find” in D-town. Although I had to go a little further out of the city, it was a new experience of great treasures and future adventures.

“Apple vs. Microsoft-A Website Usability Study” by Dmitry Fadeyev made an extreme impact on me by showing how important consistency throughout a website is for the user’s experience. I must confess that I have never been to the Microsoft website, nor had I needed to do so. I see that I haven’t been missing much. However, I am thankful to have this knowledge on what to avoid when designing a site. Microsoft’s consistency is the biggest factor inhabiting their users’ experiences.

This information will aid me in creating a more focused design for the website/prototype. It will give the user a consistant visual that will tell them they are on the same website. The screenshots of different Microsoft pages shown in the essay were unreal. As a designer, I would be confused navigating throughout the site.

An analysis of the Amazon Shopping Experience by Louis Lazaris pointed out somethings that I have never noticed about Amazon. I am an Amazon user and have been now for over two years, which is saying a lot for me. I don’t buy anything online except through Amazon. For some reason, it has earned my trust, and honestly I have never been disappointed with a purchase, actually I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by either the timeliness that I receive my purchase, or if a product that I purchase exceeds my expectations.

The points that Lazaris made that stuck out to me were the online customization. Everyone searches differently. We all have an organizational way of doing our own things, and we have different things we want to look for. With this type of obstacle, Amazon has created a navigational dreamland (in my mind that is!) Where they have two main ways of searching: search bar and the nicely named/organized links on the navbar at the top of each page. This combines the two main ways people search for things. It’s genius! Also, the ability for customizable pages that Amazon provides: the ability to change what is “recommended” for a user, is a very good point/attribute Lazaris pointed out. It makes the site seem VERY convenient and thoughtful…probably why I trust the site! The customer reviews, which I certainly noticed before have helped me out in buying products before, and seeing that you can customize how you see those is a great item to have as well. The “Look Inside” option for books on Amazon was a new thing to me. I haven’t bought a lot of books through them, so therefore would not have needed to use this item, but now I know it’s there, I see how useful it can be, to any Ecommerce site.

This information will greatly guide me in making a user friendly commerce site, if I shall end up doing that for the jewelry design prototype. I am leaning towards a more portfolio setting. Nonetheless, I will still keep in mind the very important aspect of customization. It allows a user to feel comfortable in a setting they have never been. And if the user is planning on spending a pretty penny for these products, they will first have to feel comfortable with the inanimate net.

The first blog entry we looked at, Making Use of User Research reiterated the notion of usability testing versus ethnographic research. By far, the most important point this article makes is to examine carefully what you want to test; user interface, design, or navigation to name a few. Also, another point this article/blog makes is to use that information usefully. See what the need is for a consumer and fulfill it. However, the author Gretchen Anderson, did slyly say to not show all your cards. When she describes how to conduct ethnographic research, she touches on how seeing what a user does in their own environment can help evolve your product in its future versions. I think this is a great point, that keeps reminding me of the Adobe Suite. It seems like the Adobe Suite always has those little upgrades that you’ve got to have! But, in the whole grand scheme of things, those upgrades are quite minor and would not aid me that much more than the previous version.

I will take this information and put it to use in my own testing of my prototype. I will in the near future (once my prototype is to a usable state, see how a user would navigate through it. I will keep an eye out for those that would be my target for a jewelry design website, and watch them oh so very slyly in their own settings: the closest I’ll ever get to be a stalker. ha!

Nonetheless, the information that Anderson provides is very important to how well a product thrives in this very competitive market: where one jewelry designer looks like another. It will allow my prototype/idea to have an edge on the others in the market.

My second week of this venture took me to several different places. For one, my neighboring Tom Thumb now serves alcohol. It surprised me when my boyfriend and I moved to our new place that there wasn’t anywhere to get alcoholic drinks. Not that it is an important part of my everyday or week thought, but it became annoying when we wanted to have a night with some spirits… having to drive out of our way, making our guests wait on us, and so on. Now, all we have to do is walk a couple blocks!

It is crazy how my opinion of Tom Thumb changed after they started selling beer and wine. Now, we make excuses to shop there; not even to get alcoholic beverages… just groceries: BECAUSE THEY HAVE CREATED CONVENIENCE.

As a student of advertising, this is something that we talk about. Brand image. However, it was not up to the company of Tom Thumb to sell or not sell: rather the city. But, it made Tom Thumb in my mind seem inconvenient.

We have also noticed an increase in traffic. I assume others are picking up on this.

Another new thing: hosting guests. We have finally gotten our town-home to our satisfaction (or enough satisfaction to invite people over). We are still missing some dining room chairs, but the patio chairs are good substitutes for playing cards or Wa-Hoo on the dining room table.

We have hosted both of our friends, and have gotten a lot of feed back. It’s exciting decorating your OWN place. When it’s your choice whether to put a picture/painting there or here. It’s frustrating, but in the end, we have pulled together both of our tastes in home decorating together into a cohesive, welcoming household.

I am still saving for a cow-hyde rug. And we plan to build a living room chair. I shopped for upholstery and found a wonderful green floral quilt fabric that would be lovely to your behind on!

We’ll see when the chair project goes down, but for now, I’ve had a great experience getting to know D-town this week. Cannot wait to see what next week has in store!