Dow Jones Industrial Average (Log2)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gone up quite a bit in the last 100+ years. It looks like a hockey stick of growth with some sharp crevices.

DJIA_historical_graph.svg

However, if you use a logarithmic scale it looks alot straighter. (logarithmic means that the Y axis isn’t linear but exponential. Notice the numbers on the left of both graphs.)

DJIA_historical_graph_to_jul11_(log).svg

 

Exponential growth is very good. It doesn’t always last forever, but this one has lasted over a hundred years. If you look closely, you may notice a few things.

  1. There are periods of steep growth (1940-1960) and periods of flat (1960-1980).
  2. It seems every 20 years the pattern repeats. (1980-2000 growth) and (2000-present flat)

Maybe the DJIA will be flat for another 5 years with a 20 year period of growth? It’s not a ridiculous interpretation of the chart.

Do you see a pattern or is it random?

The UX of Donald Trump

I try incredibly hard to avoid saying someone is an asshole without further explanation. The reason is that the adjective lacks any specifics. It doesn’t help you understand WHY. When Donald Trump speaks, I constantly want to scream at the screen, “Shut up! You are such a dick!” This is when I catch myself and say, “But Glen” (speaking to myself, yes, I do that) “What specifically do you disagree with? Why is he a jerk?”

The problem is that Donald Trump moves from topic to topic with lightning speed. He is like a comedian who is roasting someone, going from joke to joke, ridicule to ridicule so quickly that you have no time to examine the veracity of any single statement. With comedians it’s OK because you are only trying to get a laugh. With Trump, he is trying to be the chief executive of the United States of America. Truth matters, at least a little.

Years ago, Howard Dean was the “over the top, wild/exuberant” candidate for the democrats. Dean got alot of attention before imploding. Eventually, John Kerry was nominated. (The safe candidate) I think the same will happen in the GOP. Jeb Bush seems the most obvious candidate. However, if the GOP actually does nominate Trump, I think most middle of the road Americans will not be fans.

There will be two problems. The first is that bombastic personalities typically get old. It would be impossible for him to maintain this level of attitude for 428 more days without becoming tired. The American attention span for that sort of thing doesn’t last that many months. The second problem is that he says so many things, eventually some of them will be labeled as “lies”. You know what, forget the second problem. The press, nor the american people (statistically) care about that. So it’s just the one problem.

Trump is a meme. A popular one. But like all memes, he will run his course and we will move on to the next meme.

Our collective consciousness has become extremely meme friendly. It’s impossible to be ignorant of the memes affecting us. The UX lesson here is about memes. Stay on your toes, keep changing the dynamic and don’t assume that today’s meme will last very long.

But seriously, he is an asshole.

The UX of Office Energy

The Human Resources department (in most cases) is not the Office Energy department. Typically, no one is in charge of this crucial aspect of a company. When someone is visiting your office for an interview, they are noticing things such as:

  • Office layout
  • Types of computers/screens on the desks
  • Ceilings/Lighting
  • Energy/Collaboration
  • People Density
  • Chairs

If you looked around my desk right now, the energy would be pretty low. Not too many people, older Dell monitors, drop ceiling with fluorescent lighting and a mostly empty floor. This is not the impression you want to give prospective employees.

It’s like when you pass a bar or restaurant and look inside. You want to see happy people in engaged, energized conversations with good lighting. You want to give the impression of youth, energy and positive karma.

Yet, who is responsible for making sure that this is all true? In many companies the people who buy the carpeting and lights and the same people who call the landlord when the elevator is making a weird noise. These people have good hearts and intentions, but they are not empowered to spend more money to get fancy brick walls. In these cases, the CEO is the one who has to set the budget and priorities. For instance, why are there so few offices with artwork on the walls?

However, the people and energy aren’t the CEOs responsibility. It’s up to the local managers to make sure people are energized and active. I know it is a nice perk to work from home, but an empty office doesn’t inspire people. Do people show up at 10 or 11 and leave at 5pm? We don’t want to “clock in”, but high energy offices have people working longer hours.

There is a balance involved here. Money matters. Work-Life balance matters. However, I think people WANT to go to work when the energy is high. They need a strong, clear vision that they are excited about. They need co-workers who are professional and committed to the mission. Healthy company energy is a crucial factor in a business.

What should the title be for the person who is responsible for this? DO people with that title do this now? Is your office high energy? Does it matter?

Back to School/Work

Well, my sabbatical is over and it’s time to get back to work. My kids are in the same boat, getting ready for a new school year. It has been a great summer. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Hawaii Trip
  • Lots of Tennis (2-4 times a week)
  • Wrote about 20% of the UX book
  • Lots of swimming at Rinconanda pool
  • Rafting on the Russian river
  • Discovered new music (Twenty One Pilots)
  • Started progress on new front door
  • Started progress on painting house

It felt good except for the last week. Once I realized that work was right around the corner, I started getting depressed. It felt exactly like the end of summer break when I was in school.

Once I sat back down at my desk, I did a cleaning up and tidying of the wires. I sent a few emails and realized that I was actually supposed to come back tomorrow.  I don’t know why I had it in my head that I was supposed to come back on the 26th. Oh well. Better to dive back in. I feel energized and ready to tackle major problems. No time to be slow and ease in.

LudicrousSpeed

I hope this “school year” is going to be good for us all.

 

 

Spaces in Passwords

I was helping someone set up a password on Intuit.com. When they asked for a password, they presented this visual clue.

password

Notice where it says NO SPACES. That is just lazy programming. Spaces are a completely valid character for a password. There was no designer or product manager who said, “No, don’t let them put in spaces! That’s a requirement!” It came from an engineer who didn’t know how to program well. It’s poor UX-engineering, plain and simple.

I keep waiting for the alternative to passwords becoming mainstream. Biometrics like fingerprints or face recognition still fails to become popular. The only place it seems to be taking off is on mobile devices. We have a long way to go. In the meantime, maybe a password manager is something to explore.

Shopping for a School

It’s such an interesting expression. I heard it on a podcast of This American Life. It means to look around different neighborhoods, so that when you buy a house it sends your kids to the best local (public) school possible.

The problem is that the phrase implies a very specific economic reality. When I “shop for a car”, I know that I can spend more money and get a better car. The question is: Should you be able to buy a better “public” education?

This isn’t shopping for a private school. This is shopping for a public school. The link is undeniable: better schools are in more expensive neighborhoods. If you can afford a bigger/nicer house, generally the school is bigger and nicer too.

Go to a rich neighborhood and look at the public elementary school. Now go to a very poor neighborhood and do the same. They look very different. Hint: The rich one is nicer.

Shouldn’t public schools be equal? Shouldn’t they all have the same benefits and downfalls? After all, in Brown vs. Board of Education, we established as a nation that segregated schools are unconstitutional. Yet, we still have segregated schools and they are certainly not equal.

In California, individual schools often have “fund raisers” for the budget. The richest neighborhoods raise more money for their schools than the entire budget coming from the state. This is how they afford better facilities, which draws better teachers. We, as a society, have chosen (implicitly) to have unequal public education.

There is so much that saddens me about public education. It seems the road in front of us is clear if we do not make any changes. We will continue to lose out to other nations like India, Japan and China that take education more seriously. We will continue to disenfranchise poor (often minority) children.

The answer is obvious, yet difficult. We need to be less selfish. We need to elect officials that are more progressive. It’s hard to see how people will be less selfish. Our culture glorifies selfishness and ignorance. Maybe they would have a better point of view if only they had grown up with a better education? (Irony)

 

Epic Rap Battles of History Live

Last night, I took the 2.5 hour drive to Sacramento for my kids to see Epic Rap Battles of History live. You may not be familiar with ERB, but they are great. They are #17 on the top Youtube channels with almost 2 billion views. The format is funny and smart and edgy.

I’ve been to quite a few concerts, but most of them were 25 years ago. Last night was in a small club named Harlow’s. I was shocked at how small the club was. I figured that ERB could sell out a bigger venue. The good news was that the smallness of the club allowed the kids and I to get up close and personal. Matthew and Ethan were in the front row.

The show was actually one of the best I have ever experienced. It reminded me a little of Beastie Boys when I saw them in 1994 at Lollapolooza. They had an energy that was infectious and the crowd was over-the-top crazy. About half the songs were the two main performers and the other half, they brought fans on stage to sing parts. Some of the fans were really good. (Some missed a few lines, but that is expected when you don’t have stage experience.)

Matthew was singing along the whole time and rocking out. One of the singers EpicLloyd took a picture with Matthew and told him, “Dude! I saw you rockin in the front row! Every time I needed energy, I looked at you and got UGH!!” (Slight paraphrasing there, but it was a compliment and Matthew was super happy.)

Matthew and Lloyd

The only downside was the volume. It was so loud, I still have ringing in my ears. I had two pair of Etymotic ear plugs for the boys, but none for me. I strongly recommend them for any loud concert experience. The Etymotic brand is the best. They don’t drown out the music, they just protect your hearing.

One question I was left with was why they didn’t play in the Bay Area? I would be shocked if they didn’t have a large audience in San Francisco. Anyway, it was a great night and an killer show! We took some video that you can check out, but be warned the sound is pretty harsh.