It’s not hard

Here, the client isn’t interested in the actual difficulties of the task. She wants to know when she can have it and how much it’s going to cost — with just enough information on our proposed approach, so she can be confident that it will be delivered. 

Labelling food on a plate

This post serves my need to share that I downed eight types of oysters one night 😛 but also to comment that the experience was enhanced by having a visual record of its name and where it came from.

It must also help the wait staff be confident in their explanations and make it easier for people to re-order their favorites.

Smart, right?

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

Explore Tomomi Sasaki’s photos on Flickr. Tomomi Sasaki has uploaded 6006 photos to Flickr.

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

Explore Tomomi Sasaki’s photos on Flickr. Tomomi Sasaki has uploaded 6006 photos to Flickr.

 

 

The optimized experience of eating at Ichiran Ramen

Ichiran is a chain of restaurants serving tonkotsu ramen, known for their delicious spicy soup but mostly for their unique ordering system and interior design, meant to maximize your focus on the sole act of eating and enjoying the ramen.

You can order, pay, eat, and order more the ramen without talking with anyone. See the separators and blinds? It’s your own little ramen world.

From their official website
From their official website

I used to live near the Ueno Station branch and it was the only ramen shop that I went to regularly (in my pre-CrossFit days 😉 ). It seems to have grown in popularity in the past year or two, and I was surprised to see this line in the early afternoon one Saturday.

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

Explore Tomomi Sasaki’s photos on Flickr. Tomomi Sasaki has uploaded 6006 photos to Flickr.

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

Explore Tomomi Sasaki’s photos on Flickr. Tomomi Sasaki has uploaded 6006 photos to Flickr.

So the stall design is pretty famous but in I want to share a few more details.

While waiting in line, you fill in your preferences for spiciness of soup, hardness of the noodles, amount of garlic, etc. This used to be in Japanese but they’ve added English and Chinese versions.

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

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You buy tickets inside, with the vending machine. Suica and Pasmo accepted, of course.

There’s only one type of ramen — customized with the menu above — but you can add extra toppings. If I feel like splurging, I’d get a hard-boiled egg, which is cooked just so, to draw out the taste of the soup. Yes, it’s possible.

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

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After sitting down, the waiter takes your order slip and closes the blind. You never see their face but you have a few seconds to peek inside.

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

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After the blinds close, there’s nothing to do but read their origin story.

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

Explore Tomomi Sasaki’s photos on Flickr. Tomomi Sasaki has uploaded 6006 photos to Flickr.

To order more noodles or other toppings, you use this order slip printed on the chopstick bag. There’s a pen and bell at each unit, too. The two-phased approach lets you fine-tune what to add to your ramen as you eat, which is cool, but what’s more interesting is their pitch that this takes away the social stigma of being seen ordering more noodles (or beer, I guess) for ladies.

Honestly, the soup is so fatty that I’ve never felt the need to add more noodles however it’s true that if I wanted more, I would not feel comfortable flagging down the staff in a normal ramen shop. #facepalm

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

Explore Tomomi Sasaki’s photos on Flickr. Tomomi Sasaki has uploaded 6006 photos to Flickr.

And last but not least, my favorite design detail — the tissue boxes within reaching distance from each stool. Eating hot things make your nose run, dontcha know.

Also, note that there are coat hook and hangars behind each stool.

Untitled | Tomomi Sasaki | Flickr

Explore Tomomi Sasaki’s photos on Flickr. Tomomi Sasaki has uploaded 6006 photos to Flickr.

At the end of the day, I go for the soup, but also to enjoy the opinionated design of the experience.

Staying out of the Keynote rut

It’s really easy to prolong the preparation of a talk by noodling around in Keynote. You feel like you’re making progress… but it’s a dangerous illusion.

What works for me is to use stickies (surprise!). Each stickie represents an idea, which then gets split into slides as the idea is developed into talking points. Dump ideas, shuffle them around, run through the flow, repeat.

And stay out of Keynote until the flow is rock solid!

Starting a Keynote file with only a vague sense of what you’re going to talk about is diving head-first into a frustrating rabbit hole, where panic mounts as the date gets closer.

Photos are a behind-the-scenes look at preparing for our talk at RTL: 

Talking about chat bots at Ride the Lightning vol. 24

So, this is where the stickies ended up. There’s a loose color system to indicate section breaks, and assignments on who would take which parts. It’s pretty unimpressive, I know, but this moment comes with the confidence to give a talk without looking for words.

After this, we dove into slide production mode for a few hours and gave the talk. No dress rehearsal.

It was the first time I’d done it with a co-speaker but I found it worked especially well in this case because we were equally familiar and comfortable with the general flow. It allowed for smooth transitions, a few adlibs, and we were able to give a 30min talk that felt natural and conversational. 

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