Manual typewriter with succulents planted in it.
Manual typewriter with succulents planted in it.
Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the spring of 1998 — my senior year in high school. I had stayed a few minutes late after my first period class, Advanced Placement English, to ask my English teacher a question about an assignment. As I was gathering my stuff and getting ready to hurry to my second period class, my teacher casually told me, “You know you’re a good writer, right?”

My English teacher was notoriously difficult. And the class was ridiculously demanding. It was the sort of class where we’d read two books at the same time (and write about both) — one we’d discuss for a few weeks in class and one we’d read on our own and discuss together for only one class (and we were expected to turn in our writing assignment for that book before that class discussion). I couldn’t tell you what class I had for second period or the structure of the rest of my senior year classes. But the stresses and demands of AP English are forever burned into my brain. …


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Khallo Adel in Kuwait in 1980 or 1981 (screenshoted from one of his many family videos).

August 2nd marked the 30th anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The invasion uprooted my family’s life and changed the trajectory of my future. Like the nearly 400,000 Palestinians who lived in Kuwait at the time, we had a really good life in Kuwait. It was a life that was built around a large community of friends and family.

And the foundation of that community was my uncle Adel Samara. Khallo Adel passed away yesterday and with him a big part of that life left the world.

Khallo was an extraordinary man. He was so much more than an uncle to me — he was like a second father. The distance of diaspora meant that I didn’t have an adult relationship with him but so much of my childhood included spending time with him and his family. …


Woman sitting at a coffee shop with a notebook open and a pen in her hand.
Woman sitting at a coffee shop with a notebook open and a pen in her hand.
Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

I spend a lot of my time at work writing research plans for my research projects and providing feedback on other researchers’ plans. I can’t stress enough the importance of a well-scoped and documented research plan. It’s the foundation of your work as a UXR (I’ll spare you the house metaphor). A good research plan sets you up for executing a successful research project. Without a good plan, you’re unlikely to produce good research. Engineers use the expression “garbage in, garbage out” and the same is true with research. …


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Finding closure with a long-lost childhood classic

I recently wrote about my Sakhr, an MSX based video game console designed for the Middle Eastern market that my parents bought me when I was about 8 or 9. I also wrote that my favorite MSX game was Penguin Adventure but I sadly no longer had the original cartridge.

For years I longed to play Penguin Adventure on my Sakhr. Every now and then I’d look on eBay for it but wasn’t able to find it. I figured it was too old and too niche of a game for me to ever find a replacement cartridge.

After I wrote my story last week, it felt like something was missing. I was really itching to play Penguin Adventure. What’s the point of getting my Sakhr to work if I can’t actually play my favorite game? …


Just don’t.

A shop window that reads, “Wake up. Kick ass. Be kind. Repeat.”
A shop window that reads, “Wake up. Kick ass. Be kind. Repeat.”
Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash

When you’re first starting out in your career, it seems like people just love to give you lots and lots of advice. I believe this advice comes from a good place — these people have made mistakes in their careers and they don’t want you making those same mistakes.

But there’s one piece of advice that I wish people would stop repeating: “fake it till you make it.”

There’s nothing wrong with believing in yourself, having a positive mindset, and setting goals. But “fake it till you make it” encourages you to pretend like you know what you’re doing or worse yet not know what you don’t know. …


A 1980s video game console that resembles a giant keyboard with a video game cartridge inserted into it.
A 1980s video game console that resembles a giant keyboard with a video game cartridge inserted into it.
My Sakhr video game console. Photo by author.

I have a clear memory of that summer evening in late 1980s Kuwait when I accompanied my dad as we shopped for a “computer” for me. We were in an electronics store (probably in Salmiya) that very much resembled a RadioShack. While my dad was super smart, he never got into tech and it seemed to always overwhelm him. I remember him listening intently to the sales rep as he showed him all the different models on sale. The rep was doing that thing that adults often do when kids are around — talk about them like they’re not there. …

About

Noor Ali-Hasan

I’m a UX research lead at Google, where I help teams design and build desirable and easy to use products. Outside of work, I love art, Peloton, and Lego.

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