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Caffeine 2018

My first job out of college was as an assistant to some guys at Columbia TriStar Television Distribution. I worked for David Ozer and Jeff Wolf. (Shout out!- I can’t remember their bosses name.) I learned to sign their names and I taped their receipts to pieces of paper for expenses. My computer was an IBM with a Pentium 75 mhtz chip. My previous chip was a 486, so the Pentium was a major step up. One of the perks of working there was a fully stocked refrigerator filled with soft drinks. Another perk was the in-building gym. When I…

Your Phone is a Slot Machine

Slot machines make billions of dollars a year around the globe. They make more money than all of the other games in a casino combined. It’s a simple psychological device. Step 1: You play Step 2: You either win or almost win (a.k.a. You lose) Step 3: Dopamine is released in your brain Hint: Step 3 is the key to the whole thing. Now consider your phone. Step 1: You look at your phone Step 2: You either have a notification or you don’t Step 3: If yes, Dopamine is released in your brain When you look at your phone, you…

Things I would like (2018)

A short wish list. You should do this at least once a year. A Better Battery I think battery technology is what has driven the mobile revolution. Imagine an iPhone running on double-A batteries. The better battery would be Longer lasting Faster charging Safer (won’t blow up) Smaller I think this alone would enable a whole bunch of things I want to see including A better smart watch A better electric car Less dependence on foreign oil A better laptop/tablet Artificial Trees These things are 1000x as effective as a normal tree at converting CO2 into Oxygen. I would love…

Eat Club Review

What is Eat Club? For those of you who don’t know, Eat Club is a service where they gather lunch dishes from many local restaurants and package it up for delivery. The model is interesting since they don’t just pick it up and deliver. The Good They have a menu system with nice photographs.  One thing I appreciate is that they take “real” pictures of the food , not just food porn. For example: The food always arrives exactly at noon and you get an email notification. It doesn’t look awesome, but the realistic pictures are close. The Bad One…

Laws for Presidents

I’d love to see laws passed by congress that would apply to ALL presidents, on both sides of the aisle. The executive branch has grown in power for the last 50 years and needs some hedge trimming. Here is a list: Candidates for President must release their tax records to avoid hidden conflict of interest issues. Preemptive nuclear strikes MUST first be preceded by a congressional declaration of war. All nuclear strikes must be signed off by at least 3 cabinet members. Presidents are not allowed to endorse any candidate or engage in any election activity during their tenure. Presidents…

Choosing a Mobile Font

Right now, Im designing a mobile app and choosing a font. (So many fonts to choose from!) Some rough requirements gathered from various stakeholders: Not too stylized/fancy Easy to read at small fonts Round o  – I like circular o’s and p’s and b’s and d’s etc. Enough styles (italics, bold, light, semi-bold) Numbers should not drop/descend too much I looked at many and made a medium-short list: Lato Ubuntu Work Sans Montserrat Nubile Valera Round Raleway Nobile Open Sans I narrowed it down some more with subjective reasoning. For example I knocked out Lato because everyone uses Lato. Also,…

Bad Sidebars and Platform App UX

This is my sidebar in JIRA. 19 items! That’s objectively too many. I wondered what would happen if my screen wasn’t as tall. How does it adapt? I shortened my screen height and then refreshed the browser. Do you see it?  The scroll bar in the middle of the sidebar? This is how I feel right now: How is that the intended UX?  I don’t know what the default sidebar includes, but there should be no possible way to make my sidebar have a scrollbar. If I expand the sidebar to the right, I get this: Although this is better…

Well Designed Stuff (2018)

Just a random list of stuff I think is COOL. Figma I am designing all of my work on it. It’s not perfect at all, but there are a few things that are just sweet. For example, I love the co-authoring capabilities. I wish all software worked this way. It makes me feel more connected to my co-workers. Hopefully, Figma will be able to fend off Adobe XD and Invision Studio. I have my doubts, but for right now, Figma is my jam. AG-Grid This is JavaScript library explicitly to help you make robust grid/table systems. They just have a…

UX Mission: Complex Column Sorting Icons

Mission: To communicate to the user that a table has a complex sort. Data Example: Sort order: This data is sorted first by State, then by City, then by Age. So what icons can I put in the headers to help communicate the sort? Google images shows alot of different icons for sort. The simplest looks like this: It’s simple, it declares the primary sort is that column and it goes … down?  What does down mean?  Is it high number to low number? Is it alphabetical or reverse alphabetical? Is it earliest date versus latest date? Also, what would…

My Presentation Process

I used to speak more often to groups. Its quite enjoyable for me and I hardly ever say “no” to invitations. Here is my process to prepare and give a presentation. It’s the same process I suggest to people just getting started. Step 0: Define the Parameters This is usually given to you. Who is the audience? How many people? How long to speak? Are there other speakers? Will there be a Q&A? Where is it? When is it? Someone else should give you this information. Step 1: Decide the Topic This is harder than you think. It has to…

Alot, A Lot and other Phrasing Faux Pas

I don’t know when or where I started, but I type “alot” instead of “a lot”. I squish it into one word. Yes, I am fully aware that I am using the phrase incorrectly. It’s my vice. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, but I type “alot” as one word. I’m sorry. However, there are other phrasing faux pas that bother me to no end. It’s unfair, I know. Here is a short list: Let’s FLUSH out this idea NO! It’s FLESH out the idea. You FLUSH out a piece of dirt from your eye. For all INTENSIVE purposes…

Warnings about Using Cookies – Lawyers Suck

Ok, so now there is a law somewhere in Europe that says that websites must disclose the use of cookies. I have one question: Who seriously thought ANYONE would care or read those warnings? Have we learned nothing from Apple’s Terms and Conditions? People do not understand. They do not care. This is just nonsense. We aren’t protecting people, we are protecting lawyers. That’s what this is about. It’s a money grab from lawyers to advise clients on how to comply with meaningless laws the same lawyers created. It’s a scam! A family member is currently going through a divorce.…

2018 – My Year of Mostly Rejection

It’s been a strange year for my household. My eldest son got rejected from all but one university he applied to. My middle son got rejected from several musical groups that he was more than qualified for. He also failed his drivers license test 3 times in a row. My youngest got in a fight with his entire middle school, which was one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever heard of. And finally, my search for my next adventure was met with one disappointment after another until finally I found a good home at Sitetracker. I’m not even going to…

Cognitive Dissonance 2018

My team can do no wrong. My foe can do no right. I find it hard to watch basketball with hard core fans. There are 4 scenarios that play out every time: Our team: Commits a foul and gets called on it Fan: Awww, that’s bullshit! He didn’t do anything! Their team: Commits a foul and gets away with it. (No Call) Fan: WTF! Did you see that‽ This is bullshit! Our team: Commits a foul and gets away with it. (No Call) Fan: Total silence. (If pointed out they will say it wasn’t a foul.) Their team: Commits a foul…

Joining SiteTracker and Designing using Salesforce Lightning

I joined a new company called SiteTracker this month as their newly minted Head of UX. Just to be clear, I am the only designer, so “Head” is a little high falutin. I will post eventually about my interview process and lessons learned. SiteTracker is a Series A startup growing quickly in Palo Alto, CA and Montclair, NJ. The product is basically project management software, maybe even leaning towards an ERP system. It’s not for any kind of project that YOU do. It’s for big enterprises with high volume, highly templatized projects. Imagine a project to upgrade the cell towers…

Robocalling Apocalypse

I am not sure what has happened in the last few weeks, but robocalls have skyrocketed for me. It used to be just 1-2 calls per month. Now it’s 3+ per day. What happened‽ Side note: After listening to 99% Invisible, I’ve decided to start using the interobang symbol instead of ?! next to each other. Something clearly changed. I have answered several of them only to hear dead silence on the other end of the line. I suppose, they are just checking to see if I am alive. Some of them have recordings that start speaking WAY too quickly…

Google Assistant with a Foreign Accent

I’d like my Google assistant (and Alexa) to speak American English with a foreign accent. Specifically, I’d cycle through different dialects such as Jamaican, Australian, British, Irish, and maybe even Spanish. Again, I don’t want them to speak a foreign language, just speak my language in their accent. It just sounds nicer to me. It’s fun to hear it. It’s harmless right? Plus, Google already has this technology. Of course, they don’t have an “accent” option. However, if you change the input language of your device, the assistant then takes on a local accent. So therefore, English (UK) as your…

Chat and SMS Tools

Let’s start with my list of requirements for the perfect chat tool: Mobile, Browser, and App form factors Easy images (especially memes) Video conferencing on demand Group chat SMS Integration End-to-end encryption Broad distribution (Everyone has it) Ultimately, I want a one-stop shop. Alas, I cannot find exactly what I want. Some of the candidates: Google Hangouts Messages Allo Textra Mighty Text Telegram Slack Telegram actually has a really nice interface. However, the problem is that not enough people have telegram. We started using it as a family (and like it) but good luck using it with anyone else.  It’s…

The Way it Is and The Way it Could Be

I just heard on a podcast that unhappiness is when the way you want the world to be is not the way it is and that you should accept your world to gain happiness. At first, I thought, “What a pleasant thought…” and then my brain started working. (It was early in the morning) Progress and great things are made exactly by people who do NOT accept the way it is. As a designer, you should never accept the way it is. You should always be dreaming of how it could be, should be, aught to be, and will be.…

Home Ownership is still the American Dream

This chart is pretty chilling. It basically shows that middle class income has remained stagnant while housing prices have gone way up. Except for the housing crisis 10 years ago, the trend is clear. If you bought a house 50 years ago, it cost you a little more than 2X your annual income. Today, it’s 3x to almost 6x your annual income. In the Bay Area its even worse. Houses are 10X salaries! This is typical for the Bay Area. Houses are going up at alarming rates, but salaries are not. How can a person in their twenties or thirties…

Washington DC for an 18 year old

Calling people with experience in Washington DC! My eldest son, Ethan, is entering his first year of college at American University. He is new to Washington DC, new to college, new to life outside the nest. Although his major will be political science, he is interested in a little bit of everything. If you are in the DC area and are willing to let him treat you to lunch and pick your brain, please let me know. If you can introduce to him to anyone in politics, that is a bonus. Also, if you know of good social groups for…

Designing with the Salesforce Lightning System

I’ve started designing a product in the Salesforce Lightning System. There is nothing extraordinary about it. It’s a perfectly reasonable design language, similar to Google Material in many ways. Of course, there are a few things I wish they could improve. How could I use a tool or system and NOT have requests? Have you just met me?? 1. Salesforce Sans is Unhelpful Why do people feel like they need to invent a custom font? There are plenty of free fonts out there. The big problem is that tools like Figma support Google Fonts. I can make a prototype in…

Giving Adobe XD a 2nd Chance

Everyone deserves a second chance, don’t they? I’ve been using Figma for a while and have generally been happy with it. However, I also love to try new software. Adobe XD is a design tool that I discarded due to being unable to make the components I needed. I have been watching their “what’s new” page and feel like they just added some features that are worth taking a second look. The most important, I believe, is the fixed elements and overlays. Check out this video. Smart stuff. One other factor was their pricing is more inline with Figma where…

Helping My Kids with Math

I was not a particularly good student. In fact, that is probably being generous. However, my kids don’t have a better student as a parent, so I have to do the best that I can. Today, I sat and helped my kid with geometry and basic algebra. The Good I am pretty good with graphs and very simple geometry. I think visually and therefore can help him understand the concepts behind the math. I used PowerPoint to draw templates that he could use in doing the work. It started off slowly and we figured out what math happens in scaling,…

Trump is acclimating us to pardons

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. – The US Constitution – Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1 Wow, could the framers of the…

Our Maps are Upside-down

I am going to assume you believe the world is spherical. No point otherwise. Ok, imagine the sun in the middle and the Earth is spinning around it. I ask you this question, “Is the Earth going around the sun in a clockwise or counter-clockwise rotation? I think any normal person would say that the correct rotation is clockwise. We have precedent of clocks after all. This is how sundials work. So if you imagine we are going around the sun clockwise, it would look like this: Now, I would further espouse that if you were looking at the earth…

First Try: LimeScooter

In case you haven’t heard, Electric Scooters are the new “disrupting” thing in cities, especially San Francisco. Today, I had a lunch with a recruiter in the city and CalTrain was running very late. The walk would have been 25 minutes and I only had 20 to get there. Previously, I had used Lyft to get from point A to point B, but there was an electric scooter right in front of me, begging for my attention. As a dedicated beta user, I quickly opened up my Google Play Store and installed Lime. (There are others like Byrd and Spin,…

Bad UI Example: Moving the Cheese

I have a 2018 Kia Sportage. Nice car overall; not too expensive, drives well, cool moon roof. However, the radio does something that is a UI no-no. I’ll explain. First, this is the offending UI here. It is on the left side of the steering wheel and controls the radio station. The left rocker (technical term for that kind of up/down control) is for the volume and the right rocker is the station. The screen for the car middle dashboard looks like this: However, I can change the UI to be focused on the radio. In that case you get…

Google Inbox vs New GMail (2018)

I’ve been a Google Inbox user for a few years now. GMail felt absurdly outdated and unpleasant, so I switched. Recently, Google splashed a new can of UX and features onto GMail. I would say without doubt it is an improvement, but there are still some flaws compared to Inbox. I wish they would take the best of both worlds. Here is a breakdown. Functionality GMail is hands down more functional than Inbox. It’s really not even that close. Inbox hasn’t improved since they launched it, whereas GMail continues to accrue features. The big news in the latest update include:…

UX Review: Calendar Schedulers

In talking with lots of folks, I have been using Calendly.com to help coordinate schedules. The back and forth of scheduling is a real pain and these systems make it much better. I tried three today. For language sake it can get confusing, here is a legend: Host = Person who has the subscription and whose calendar is being interrogated Visitor = Person who is scheduling time Calendly This was the one I have been using for a while. It is solid, but the UX was always a little clunky and disappointing. The UI was poor on the host side…