Archive for the 'My plans' Category

Observations and photos from trip to Bellevue

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

Shortly after my plane took off from Long Beach Airport, I saw an empty parking lot that perfectly demonstrated the Zollner illusion.

Photos from the trip

On the flight back, I noticed that lakes and rivers looked colorful through my polarizing sunglasses. I don't have an explanation.

Update on applications

Friday, February 27th, 2004

Graduate schools

I applied to Ph.D. programs in computer science to study computational complexity. In order of US News ranking:

U Washington          : REJECTED
Princeton             : REJECTED
UC Los Angeles        : ACCEPTED
UC San Diego          : ACCEPTED
UC Irvine             : In Progress
Boston U              : In Progress
U Oregon              : ACCEPTED
Rejections: 2/7
Admissions: 3/7
(Format stolen from Kim.)

Full-time jobs

Expedia/testing       : March interview
IBM                   : In progress

Summer jobs

Google/HCI internship : In Progress

3-hour UI review of Expedia

Saturday, January 31st, 2004

I signed up to interview with Expedia on Monday. I figured I should look at their site for a few minutes before interviewing with them, but I ended up playing with their basic search feature for over an hour.

Should I spend my 30-minute interview pointing out how their site sucks* or trying to get a job?

The form on the front page

  • "Search for flight" (for submitting the form) looks like a link, not a button. IE users are used to losing form data randomly when they click on links, so they'll spend a lot of time looking for something that looks like a button before clicking the link.
  • The return date textbox is prefilled with "mm/dd/yy". Prefilling textboxes like that is usually frowned upon, in part because it makes people like me skip the textbox. But I think I understand why Expedia prefills it.
  • If the return date textbox is prefilled, it should clear itself onmousedown!
  • Why make it look like I have to enter a year? I'm very unlikely to book a flight more than a year in advance. And I'm still typing the year as "03" out of habit, even though it's been 2004 for a month.
  • The single-digit date for February in the "Depart" textbox makes it look less like a date.
  • Why can't I get a flight and a car without a hotel? I can get every other combination of flight, car, and hotel.
  • I think the form should use 3 checkboxes (flight, car, hotel) rather than 7 radio buttons (each nonempty subset of {flight, car, hotel}). Using checkboxes would make the UI simpler but would require more clicking.
  • "Morning, Noon, Evening, Anytime": What times does Expedia consider "morning"? More importantly, what times are "noon"?
  • "Morning, Noon, Evening, Anytime": Where's the "middle of the night" option?
  • The DHTML calendar does not work in Firebird.
  • In the DHTML calendar, double-clicking the right button only goes forward one month. This is a bug in IE, but Expedia should work around it because it affects almost everyone who books a flight two or more months in advance.
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