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Posts in category 'UXnet'

14 January 2010

From people to prototypes and products: ethnographic liquidity and the Intel Global Aging Experience study

Global Aging Experience
The latest Intel Technology Journal (Volume 13, Issue 30 reports the research and development activities of the Intel Digital Health Group and its colleagues.

One article, entitled “From people to prototypes and products: ethnographic liquidity and the Intel Global Aging Experience study“, documents how a large-scale, multi-site, ethnographic research project into aging populations, the Global Aging Experience Study, led to the development of concepts, product prototypes, and products for the independent living market.

Successfully leveraging the output of ethnographic research within large organizations and product groups is often fraught with challenges. Ethnographic research produced within an industry context can be difficult for an organization to thoroughly capitalize on. However, careful research design and sound knowledge transfer activities can produce highly successful outcomes that can be thoroughly absorbed into an organization, and the data can lend itself to re-analysis. Our research was conducted by the Product Research and Innovation Team in the Intel Digital Health Group, and the work was done in Europe and East Asia, eight countries in all. Using a mixed methodology, our research examined health and healthcare systems in order to chart the macro landscape of care provision and delivery. However, the core of our study was ethnographic research with older people, and their formal (clinical) and informal (family and friends) caregivers in their own homes and communities. Data from this study were organized and analyzed to produce a variety of tools that provide insight into the market for consumption by teams within the Digital Health Group. As the results of the research
were driven into the Digital Health Group and other groups within Intel, it became clear that the Global Aging Experience Study possessed what we term ethnographic liquidity, meaning that the data, tools, and insights developed in the study have layers of utility, a long shelf life, and lend themselves to repeated and consistent use within and beyond the Digital Health Group.

Download article
Download research brochure

12 January 2010

The New York Times on gestural interfaces

Gestural interfaces
The New York Times reports on “natural” gestural interfaces in an article entitled “Giving Electronic Commands With Body Language”:

“In the coming months, the likes of Microsoft, Hitachi and major PC makers will begin selling devices that will allow people to flip channels on the TV or move documents on a computer monitor with simple hand gestures. The technology, one of the most significant changes to human-device interfaces since the mouse appeared next to computers in the early 1980s, was being shown in private sessions during the immense Consumer Electronics Show here last week. Past attempts at similar technology have proved clunky and disappointing. In contrast, the latest crop of gesture-powered devices arrives with a refreshing surprise: they actually work.”

Read full story

11 January 2010

Yahoo studies social science

Social science at Yahoo
Yahoo Labs is beefing up its ranks of social scientists, adding highly credentialed cognitive psychologists, economists and ethnographers from top universities around the world, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“In the last year, Yahoo Labs has bolstered its ranks of social scientists, adding highly credentialed cognitive psychologists, economists and ethnographers from top universities around the world. At approximately 25 people, it’s still the smallest group within the research division, but one of the fastest growing.

The recruitment effort reflects a growing realization at Yahoo, the second most popular U.S. online site and search engine, that computer science alone can’t answer all the questions of the modern Web business. As the novelty of the Internet gives way, Yahoo and other 21st century media businesses are discovering they must understand what motivates humans to click and stick on certain features, ads and applications – and dismiss others out of hand.”

Interestingly, the core value of Yahoo is shifting to the user experience:

“The most prominent example is the company’s search engine. It was originally Yahoo’s raison d’etre, but the company is now in the process of replacing its core search technology with Microsoft Corp.’s Bing tool. As part of the deal, it is moving about 400 search engineers over to the Redmond, Wash., software company.

Yahoo has emphasized it is now competing in search through the front-end user experience, positioning results based on what people are most commonly seeking.”

Read full story

11 January 2010

The bridge between cultures and design

Between cultures and design
Microsoft’s Joe Fletcher contributed an intriguing article on software UX in India and China on the ever more interesting Johnny Holland site:

“Over roughly the last 10 years, China and India have given way to a huge rise in technology outsourcing. Jobs are outsourced from companies like Microsoft, Google, T-Mobile, Honeywell, and many others. In Microsoft I’ve worked with teams in both India and China developing software for a variety of uses. Having our headquarters in the US, I usually work with small satellite teams in these countries. I couldn’t help but wonder why these countries who had become huge in the area of software technology, struggled so much in the area of user experience and UI innovation. [...]

Given the issues and connections I was seeing, I decided to go straight to the source and start to ask the offices I had worked with, as well as other designers I found through my various networks about these issues. These are just the initial thoughts I’ve started to gather. I plan to interview many more people with what I’ve deemed my curiosity research project, but thought it would be interesting to share a few of the insights I’ve gathered thus far to give a view to others who work with these countries. Given the format of Johnny Holland, I’ve kept these short, but often there are great (and sometimes very amusing) stories behind each point.”

Read full story

10 January 2010

Design for sustainable behaviour (part 2)

CHI 2009
A range of other researchers have also published papers on the topic of design for sustainable behaviour. Twenty papers were presented at the CHI 2009 Workshop, “Defining the Role of HCI in the Challenges of Sustainability,” organised by Elaine M. Huang of Motorola Research. Here is a selection:

Prepare for descent: interaction design in our new future
Jeffrey Wong
Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
Currently, sustainable interaction design seems primarily focused on behavior change, in the hope of averting irreversible destruction of the environmental systems that make our civilization possible. Underlying this idea is the assumption that the right technology can change behaviors of society-at-large quickly enough to avert irreversible damage. While trying seems more appropriate than doing nothing, current work in Sustainable Interaction Design (SID) is often lacks the scope necessary to foster immediate and deep change needed to avert crises. This paper argues that SID researchers should approach the problem at higher levels to have the massive effects that are necessary. SID should also consider the the design context to be a world radically altered by environmental damage; solutions that fit into today’s lifestyles risk irrelevance. SID researchers can target viable futures by designing for very different social, economic, and humanitarian circumstances than the contexts we currently take for granted. SID allow the projected economic declines to free society from a consumption culture. Research priorities may then shift from prevention and awareness to supporting social, economic, and spiritual structures of society that human happiness possible.

Motivating sustainable energy consumption in the home
Helen Ai He and Saul Greenberg
Dept. of Computer Science, University of Calgary
Technologies are just now being developed that encourage sustainable energy usage in the home. One approach is to give home residents feedback of their energy consumption, typically presented using a computer visualization. The expectation is that this feedback will motivate home residents to change their energy behaviors in positive ways. Yet little attention has been paid to what exactly motivates such behavioral change. This paper provides a brief overview of theories in psychology and social psychology on what does, and does not motivate sustainable energy action in the home.

Visible sustainability: Carbon Label 2.0
Daniela Busse and Wenbo Wang
SAP Labs, LLC
The investment in sustainability research at SAP has been increasing constantly. Of all sustainability parameters, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions produced in the manufacturing, transporting, use, and disposing of a product (aka a product’s carbon footprint), might be the most representative. Next to its more formal efforts on its product lines supporting businesses with their sustainability needs, SAP also held an internal design challenge earlier in 2008 encouraging employees to design a “carbon label” that would communicate this carbon footprint to the consumers of products that were manufactured or sold by SAP’s customers. In response, we conducted some exploratory field research in the form of user interviews, iterated on a design proposal for this carbon label (including a concept investigation), and presented a solution to effectively communicate a product’s carbon to the panel of judges. The final call is still out on this competition, but we posit that the work we did as part of this project shows how a sound user centered design process is critical in making consumer facing sustainability solutions. Given that SAP is one of the major software makers concerned with sustainability solutions for its customers, we hope to firmly situate user centered design practices in the design of upcoming products in SAP’s “green suite” of products. We would like to introduce our work to this CHI workshop on defining the role of HCI for sustainability, invite feedback, and hope to contribute to the broader discussion on this topic.

A sustainable identity: creativity of everyday design
Ron Wakkary
School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Simon Fraser University
In this paper we explore sustainability in interaction design by reframing concepts of user identity and use. Building on our work on everyday design, we discuss design-in-use: the creative and sustainable ways people appropriate and adapt designed artifacts. We claim that reframing the user as a creative everyday designer promotes a sustainable user identity in HCI and interaction design.

Sensing opportunities for personalized feedback technology to reduce consumption
Jon Froehlich, Kate Everitt, James Fogarty, Shwetak Patel, James Landay
DUB Institute, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington
Most people are unaware of how their daily activities affect the environment. Previous studies have shown that feedback technology is one of the most effective strategies in reducing electricity usage in the home. In this position paper, we expand the notion of feedback systems to a broad range of human behaviors that have an impact on the environment. In particular, we enumerate five areas of consumption: electricity, water, personal transportation, product purchases, and garbage disposal. For each, we outline their effect on the environment and review and propose methods for automatically sensing them to enable new types of feedback systems.

Broadening human horizons through green IT
Bill Tomlinson
University of California, Irvine
Environmental concerns such as global climatic disruption occur over long time periods, large distances, and vast scales of complexity. Unassisted, humans are not well equipped to deal with problems on such broad scales. Throughout history, technological innovations have enabled human cultures to engage with broader suites of problems than we would otherwise be able to address. In particular, information technology (IT) involves tools and techniques for dealing with vast bodies of information across wide ranges of time, space, and complexity, and is thus well suited for addressing environmental concerns. While IT carries with it a number of significant environmental challenges (e.g., power consumption, ewaste), the opportunities for improving the sustainability of human civilizations that are enabled by IT are significantly greater than these drawbacks. This paper presents the idea of “extended human-centered computing” – that computing should focus on humans not only to satisfy their immediate needs and desires, but also to extend their horizons with regard to environmental sustainability and other broad scale concerns.

10 January 2010

The false question of attention economics

/message
A few posts have emerged recently that recapitulate the well-worn arguments of attention scarcity and information overload in the real-time social web, so Stowe Boyd wrote a “short and sweet counter argument from a cognitive science/anthropology angle”.

“The framing of the argument includes the unspoken premise that once upon a time in some hypothetical past attention wasn’t scarce, we didn’t suffer from too much information, and we had all the time in the world to reason about the world, our place in it, and therefore to make wise and grounded decisions.

But my reading of human history suggests the opposite. In the pre-industrial world, business people and governments still suffered from incomplete information, and the pace of life always seemed faster than what had gone on in earlier times. [...]

There is no golden past that we have fallen from, and it is unlikely that we are going to hit finite human limits that will stop us from a larger and deeper understanding of the world in the decades ahead, because we are constantly extending culture to help reformulate how we perceive the world and our place in it.”

Read full story

8 January 2010

Irish initiative to help SME’s meet unmet market needs

InterTradeIreland
A new pilot programme from InterTradeIreland is aimed at assisting small and medium-sized firms, initially in the civil security sector, to innovate and meet identified but as yet unmet market needs, using ethnographic research and user-centred design approaches. The Irish Times reports.

“The Innovation Connections Programme takes a strong innovative approach in itself and reverses conventional processes. Instead of helping companies to develop existing products or services or develop new ones that it believes there may be a market for, it begins with identifying what the unmet market needs might be and establishes if there is value in companies seeking to meet them. [...]

But there is a lot more to establishing what unmet market needs might be than standard market research. “Understanding user needs is not the same as conducting market research,” says Sadhbh McCarthy [of the Centre for Irish and European Security (CIES) which is collaborating on the project]. “While traditional market research involving focus groups and questionnaires and so on is useful, to test product or service concepts with potential customers, user-centred research is better for determining what needs are not being met with current solutions, identifying what real needs customers and consumers will have in the future and identifying their expectations of solutions to meet those needs.”

[Sean] McNulty [of Innovator, the consultancy operating the programme on behalf of InterTradeIreland]. describes this as ethnographic research. “What we do is find out what the problems are with current solutions,” he says.

“Market research tells us what market need is but it also tells your competitors the same thing. Ethnographic research tells us what the market needs are that are not being met or are unknown at the moment. In many cases the end user isn’t able to tell you what they need because they don’t know it but this form of research is able to identify it.”

If the pilot is successful, the programme will be rolled out progressively to other sectors throughout Ireland.

Read full story

8 January 2010

Experientia article on emerging markets research in Interfaces Magazine

Interfaces
The latest issue of Interfaces Magazine, a quarterly magazine published by Interaction, the specialist HCI group of the British Computer Society (BCS), contains a lengthy article on an emerging market research project Experientia conducted for Vodafone Global. Many, many thanks to Anxo Cereijo-Roibas of Vodafone, and Erin O’Loughlin and Laura Polazzi of Experientia.

Engaging developing markets
Anxo Cereijo-Roibás, Mark Vanderbeeken, Neil Clavin & Jan-Christoph Zoels
Developing markets are one of the fastest growing areas of mobile phone use in the world. Pictures abound online of the intrigu- ing juxtaposition between traditional social practices and latest communications tech- nology – a hennaed Indian hand holding a mobile phone, an Egyptian man engaged in a lively cellular conversation standing near his camel. But in reality, these iconic scenes that say so much about the ubiquity of useful technology provide little information about the people behind the handset – who are they? What does having a phone mean for them? How does it change their daily life and how could we make it even more useful for them?

Make sure to also check these articles:

Ten things you might want to know before building for mobile
Ken Banks & Joel Selanikio
Progress in the social mobile field will come only when we think more about best design practices rather than obsessing over details on the ground. Social mobile tools are those built specifically for use by organisations working for positive social and environmental change, often in the developing world. Over years of creating some of the most widely used mobile appli- cations in the public space, we’ve made a lot of mistakes, and we’ve learned a lot. We think that successful mobile projects – those aimed at developing countries in particular – have a better chance of suc- ceeding if these [ten] points are considered from the outset.

Access all areas – Do we really mean it?
Andy Dearden
Last month I changed my electricity and gas supplier.Working through a web-based sign up form, automated credit refer- ence checking, electronic billing via email, direct-debit banking, and the fact that the gas & electricity will continue to arrive through the same ‘pipes’, I suspect that
I was the only human being involved in actually executing the necessary changes. This reduction in the amount of labour involved, and the availability of the on-line comparison sites that enable what econo- mists might regard as (an approximation of) a ‘perfect market’, mean that I pay less for my household energy than I would oth- erwise. Indeed, I pay less for my household energy than my father and most of the people in his generation.

Download magazine

7 January 2010

How the mobile Internet could change everything

Mobile in Iran
The ubiquity of mobile phones and the growth of the internet will converge in the next decade. Luke Allnutt of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty thinks this is good news for the developing world.

“While the defining technological shifts of the 2000s were the ubiquity of mobile phones and the growth of the Internet, in the next decade these two trends will converge: the rise and rise of the mobile Internet. It is a shift that will present great opportunities for prosperity and democratization, but also grave possibilities for tyrants and extremists.”

Read full story

7 January 2010

Design for relevance

Harald Lamberts
Harald Lamberts, Head of User Experience for Internet Services & Handsets at the Vodafone Group, wrote a thoughtful viewpoint article on DMI on the issue of relevance in design, in an era of technology overkill.

“With new social-networking communities popping up continuously, 100,000 apps in the iPhone Appstore, 500+ contacts in multiple places, two to three email accounts per user, Internet feeds from multiple sources, and different end-user credentials to remember for each service, can people still manage their digital lives? If on top of this, a text message notifies you of a new voicemail and an email notifies you of a new status update, something is wrong and the burden to manage it all is on the end-user.

There have been several efforts to bring the consumer’s content, contacts or information conveniently in one single place. Think instant messaging aggregators such as Adium or Nimbuzz, or a social-networking feed aggregator such as Tweetdeck. However, aggregators tend to only provide simultaneous access to multiple competing services, they usually don’t hide the service boundaries or add value by integrating with other content types or services.

The core of these problems is not accessibility or usability but relevance.”

Read full story

6 January 2010

‘When I was growing up': ethnographic research on ageing in Ireland published

ERU booklet
The Trill Centre is a project by Intel, Ireland’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA), and academic partners including Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the National University of Ireland Galway, focused on technology research for independent living (TRIL).

In essence, the centre coordinates research projects addressing the physical, cognitive and social consequences of ageing, all informed by ethnographic research and supported by a shared pool of knowledge and engineering resources. It aims to discover and deliver technology solutions which support independent ageing, ideally in a home environment, based on the assumption that this will improve the quality of life of older citizens while reducing the burden on carers and on the healthcare system.

As part of the initiative, an ethnographic research unit (ERU) was established within the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at the National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway. Since its inception the ERU has conducted ethnographic research with individuals across Ireland – from inner city Dublin to remote areas of Counties Roscommon, Cork and Kilkenny. This research has been used to support clinically oriented work, to shape the direction of research projects and to learn how new technology was used in the homes of older people.

Looking back after nearly three years of multi-disciplinary work, the ERU felt that it would be worthwhile to bring together in one accessible volume a sample of their interactions and perspectives. The objective is to showcase some of their achievements and highlight the collaborative nature of their endeavours.

Download booklet

4 January 2010

Latest issue of Interactions Magazine now available

interactions
The January-February edition of Interactions Magazine — exploring the evolving nature of experiences, people and technology — is online and some articles are available without subscription.

interactions: information, physicality, co-ownership, and culture
Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko
From tangible computing, to societal problem solving, to the trials and tribulations of user reserach – this issue explores the evolving nature of experiences, people and technology.

Tangible interaction = form + computing
Mark Baskinger, Mark Gross
The ability to merge physical and digital interactions has long been the goal of designers; the ubiquity of technology is now making that goal a reality. This piece from Mark Baskinger and Mark Gross explores that melding of physical and digital.

Why marketing research makes us cringe
Dan Formosa
What separates design research from marketing research is a core but elusive principle: There is a phenomenal distinction between evaluating a product before it is finalized, the focus of design research, and evaluating consumer response after a product is finalized.

Why designers sometimes make me cringe
Klaus Kaasgaard
Why is it that user experience design-often hailed on the covers of major contemporary business magazines as the creative savior of everything from product innovation to business operations-seems to prefer to paint a picture of itself as a misunderstood, misapplied, and unrecognized profession; a victim of ruthless market forces and incompetent business managers?

The transmedia design challenge: technology that is pleasurable and satisfying
Don Norman
I agreed to give a keynote address at the 21st Century Transmedia Innovation Symposium. Traditional dictionaries do not include the word “transmedia,” but Wikipedia does. Its definition introduced me to many other words that neither I nor my dictionaries had ever before heard (for example, “narratological“). Strange jargon aside, I do believe there is an important idea here, which I explore in this column.

The art of editing: the new old skills for a curated life
Liz Danzico
This age is not about writers learning new tools, nor is it about readers sift through content; it’s about editors experimenting and making meaning of stories for themselves and for their new audiences-whether those are small or large.

interactions cafe: on designers as catalytic agents
Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko

25 December 2009

Designing for social innovation: an interview with Ezio Manzini

Ezio Manzini
User experience strategist Steve Baty interviewed Ezio Manzini, Professor of Design at the Politecnico di Milano and one of the keynote speakers at Interaction 10, about designing for social innovation and his work with the DESIS network.

“Social innovation is a process of change where new ideas emerge from a variety of actors directly involved in the problem to be solved: final users, grass roots technicians and entrepreneurs, local institutions and civil society organizations. The main way in which it differs from traditional “garage” innovation is that here the “inventors” are groups of people (the “creative communities”) and the results are forms of organization (the “collaborative services”).

Looking attentively to the complexity of the contemporary society shows many cases of these worldwide (for more, see the Sustainable Everyday project). While the stories are diverse, they have one clear (and expected) common denominator: they resulted from the initiatives of people who collaboratively invented new ways of living and producing and who have been able to enhance them, solving specific problems and, at the same time, making concrete steps towards sustainability happen.”

Read interview

25 December 2009

The Journal of Information Architecture

Relationship
The Journal of Information Architecture, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal, is now at its second issue — and all the content can be downloaded:

Issue 1 (Spring 2009)

  • Editorial: Shall We Dance? – by Dorte Madsen
  • Connecting the Dots of User Experience – by Gianluca Brugnoli
  • Towards an Architectural Document Analysis – by Helena Francke
  • The Machineries of Context – by Andrew Hinton
  • On Uncertainty in Information Architecture – by James Kalbach

Issue 2 (Fall 2009)

  • Editorial: Open 24/7 – by Byström, Pharo & Resmini
  • Card Sorting, Category Validity, and Contextual Navigation – by Stefano Bussolon
  • From Prediction to Emergence – by Brigitte Kaltenbacher
  • Mediation as Message – by David Walczyk & Cedomir Kovacev
25 December 2009

When professionals get culture shock

Culture shock
Nokia user researcher Jan Chipchase reflects on the issue of culture shock, a condition that can even affect professionals whose livelihood depends on being able to travel the globe and decode the nuances of what they experience.

“I’ve seen first hand and have on occasion experienced the symptoms of culture shock include: increased irritability; becoming hypercritical of locals and local practices; withdrawal – in particularly spending long time resting or in bed; physiological reactions; and excessive eating, drinking or drug use.”

Read full story

25 December 2009

The fable of the user-centred designer

Fable
David Travis has written a fable that “follows a young man’s journey as he discovers the three secrets of user-centred design”.

“Many years ago, I read a book by Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson called The One Minute Manager. The book is an allegory about good versus bad management. It describes the journey of a young man who wants to learn how to become an effective manager.

Sitting at home one day, I found myself musing on what Blanchard & Johnson would have to say about user-centred design. Like management, user-centred design is ostensibly simple, yet when it comes to great user experiences many people do it incorrectly. And as with management, there are some simple but powerful rules.

This fable is the result of my thinking. I’ve retained the narrative structure of The One Minute Manager and if you know the book there are some other similarities you’ll discover. But above all, it’s a simple description of the secrets of user-centred design. I hope you en- joy it, apply it and pass it on.”

Download the booklet

19 December 2009

Slaves of the feed

Bottleneck
Thomas Petersen, co-founder and partner of Danish digital creative agency Hello, reflects on the experience and design implications of the exponential growth of information.

“Constantly checking our feeds for new information, we seem to be hoping to discover something of interest, something that we can share with our networks, something that we can use, something that we can talk about, something that we can act on, something we didn’t know we didn’t know.

It almost seems like an obsession and many critics of digital technology would argue that by consuming information this way we are running the danger of destroying social interaction between humans. One might even say that we have become slaves of the feed.

Read full story

17 December 2009

Mag+, a concept video on the future of digital magazines

Mag+
Bonnier R&D, the research unit of Bonnier, the publisher of Popular Science, invited the designers from BERG London on a corporate collaborative research project into the experience of reading magazines on handheld digital devices.

“The concept aims to capture the essence of magazine reading, which people have been enjoying for decades: an engaging and unique reading experience in which high-quality writing and stunning imagery build up immersive stories.

The concept uses the power of digital media to create a rich and meaningful experience, while maintaining the relaxed and curated features of printed magazines. It has been designed for a world in which interactivity, abundant information and unlimited options could be perceived as intrusive and overwhelming.”

Watch video prototype

15 December 2009

As we consume Apples and BlackBerrys, natural world beats a sensory retreat

Blackberry meeting
Technology has drawn us into our interconnected webs, in the office, on the street, on the park bench, to the point that we exist virtually everywhere except in the physical world, argues Adrian Higgins in the Washington Post, who writes about us being “digital zombies” and “symbionts” [i.e. an organism living in a symbiotic relationship, here evidently with an electronic world].

“Walk the streets of downtown Washington and you will see many people, a majority perhaps, plugged in to a two-dimensional world. Peer into the vehicles, and tally a scary number of drivers on hand-held cellphones, even texting. This may be illegal in the District, but the temptation is too great. We have become digital zombies.

Actually, we have become symbionts, says Katherine Hayles, author of “How We Became Posthuman.” Just as a lichen is the marriage of a fungus and an algae, we now live in full partnership with digital technology, which we rely on for the infrastructure of our lives.”

Read full story

12 December 2009

iPhone users are delusional, consultants say

iPhone
Strand Consult suggests that iPhone users are suffering from a form of Stockholm Syndrome–the condition in which the kidnapped begin to show loyalty to their kidnappers.

“Apple has launched a beautiful phone with a fantastic user interface that has had a number of technological shortcomings that many iPhone users have accepted and defended, despite those shortcomings resulting in limitations in iPhone users’ daily lives.”

“When we examine the iPhone users’ arguments defending the iPhone, it reminds us of the famous Stockholm Syndrome–a term invented by psychologists after a hostage drama in Stockholm. Here, hostages reacted to the psychological pressure they were experiencing by defending the people that had held them hostage for six days.”

Read full story