Where am I from?

Ancestry.com has this chart to show me where I am from. (I sent in a sample of my spit)

The little orange dots are matches for other people with connections in my DNA. As you can see, I am Eastern European. My ancestors lived right in the middle Empire central. The Holy Roman Empire, The Ottoman Empire, The Austro-Hungarian Empire, The Russian Empire and the Third Reich in Germany all controlled this area for some period. My people probably gave up deciding what to call their country.  Today it would be modern Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus. My children are the first generation in my family to have a mixed heritage. They have Irish and German ancestry on their mother’s side.

It seems that cross-breeding is a slow process. Even if you move thousands of miles from your home, you are still likely to marry someone of the same heritage as you. We should mix it up more. Sameness is boring.

I come from a place that changed over and over and over again. I guess that is why I love change so much.

Marketing Podcast 2017

I was interviewed on a podcast by marketers last week. Kristen Malkovich and Grant Grigorian did a great job making me feel comfortable and asking good questions. They need to buy some better audio equipment but otherwise, it went off without a hitch. I talked about the following topics:

  • being the first employee at Marketo
  • Marketo is a programming language
  • the future of automation and orchestration of “plays”
  • B2B design

Take a listen and see what you think. I hate the way I sound. To my ear, it sounds like my brother, not me.

Side note: I haven’t been blogging lately because I have been up to my eyeballs in deliverables at Engagio. We have new people starting each week and they all need stuff. I have help arriving mid-April (thank god) on the PM front. So much to do, so little time. Exciting times.

My Dream Prototyping Tool 2017

Here are the requirements for my dream prototyping tool:

There are some that are mature and cross-platform like Axure, Justinmind, Balsamiq, MockPlus, Figma and Microsoft PowerPoint. However, the two that are not are Adobe Experience Design (XD) and Sketch. I clearly need it to work both in Mac and Windows.

Has symbols (reusable components)
This is crucial. Tools like Adobe XD and MockPlus have this, but PowerPoint and others do not. (Come on Microsoft, listen to me!) It’s essential to speed up design time to have these sorts of embeddable elements.

Links / clickable prototypes
Adobe XD and MockPlus have this decently, with the exception of symbols not having reusable links. Invision does it, but it’s a separate tool from the designing. Figma is missing this key capability. It’s a must-have.

Usable in real-time by multiple users
Figma is kind of awesome on this front. They are the only ones with this feature. If you work with a team of designers, this is killer. You can have a central master prototype and work on different sections at the same time. It all publishes the prototype to the cloud. I love this capability. It’s closer to the way engineers with their code repository like Git.

Easy to use
Axure and Justinmind, sorry; you guys are terribly complicated to use. I don’t need all the bells and whistles of Javascript. Just keep it simple. But not too simple like Balsamiq. Keep it in the middle. Goldilocks!

Modal layers
Simply, I use menus and modals.  I want them to popup when I click something. Modals are in every single desktop software design. Allow for it. Ideally, allow me to even have transitions on this layer so I can have a part of the screen slide into place.

Scrollable areas
MockPlus does this well. They define scrollable areas so the prototype can have long content.

Nice interactivity with comments
Invision does this well. You can comment on the designs and give feedback. Having comments tagged to versions would be helpful.

Bring it all together
So start with Adobe Experience Design for usability, but cross-platform, with real-time collaboration like Figma and symbol management like MockPlus, plus interaction on the web with comments like Invision.

That’s all I want. I’m willing to spend approximately $500 per year per person on this software if it did everything above.

All I want is everything. Is that too much to ask?

Not how I wanted to lose weight

Around the holidays (3+ months ago), I got a stomach ache. It didn’t go away for a week. Since then, my appetite has diminished by about 50%. I noticed the issue quickly and bought a new scale that syncs to my phone. (It was on sale at the time) I strongly suggest getting a scale like this for anyone who wants to lose weight. I find the feedback loop incredibly useful and your doctor will appreciate the more detailed history. Then I went to a doctor.

My first doctor said, “Hmm, this could be appendicitis or some other serious problem. Let’s do a CT Scan and a bunch of blood tests.” I got the results and they were all negative. The doctor didn’t know what to do and suggested going to a specialist.

The specialist was from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The school did not fill me with confidence. He said, “Hmm, let’s do an endoscopy and colonoscopy”. For those of you who don’t know, this is when they jam a GoPro down your throat and up your rear to take pictures of your innards. The prep for it is to drink a special fluid that cleans out your entire digestive track. (Completely! Yuck!)

The results came in. I had a small hiatal hernia and a tiny amount of Barrett’s Esophagus, plus a small polyp that was non-cancerous. The hiatal hernia was causing Acid Reflux and GERD (i.e. chronic hearthburn). He suggested taking proton-pump inhibitor pills like Nexium. I am not a huge fan of taking medicine for the rest of my life, plus googling proton pump inhibitors yielded very mixed results. Some articles said it made the problem potentially worse! So I got a new specialist at Stanford Medicine to try and understand better what to do.

First, let me just tell you: if you can, get treated at Stanford. They have valet parking, gorgeous offices, and the best doctors. It makes you feel like you are being pampered by the best physicians on earth. Some of this may be placebo, but the whole place just made me feel confidence. (Last year, they did successful wrist surgery on my torn ligament)

Ok, back to the saga. Doctor #3 said that my main symptom was weight loss, not pain. He then went o20-minutenute lecture about how Americans are too fat. He said, “Whoever said 3 square meals a day must have worked in the food industry. We need 1 meal a day. Maybe 2 small (half-sized) meals if you want.” He said when you go to a restaurant, they typically give you double the food you actually need. He also said diabetes is rampant. It was quite a passionate lecture. He looked at my weight chart on my phone.

He said, “Well this isn’t how you want to lose weight, but it’s still a good thing. If you aren’t in alot of pain, let’s just keep an eye on it. In the meantime, keep exercising (tennis 2x per week) and don’t overeat.” He then suggested Maalox or Mylanta if I felt heart burn. (Liquid antacids)

To be clear, I haven’t changed the kinds of foods I eat. I generally don’t eat McDonalds or drink soda. This weight loss is all due to 50% less food. I may get hungry again, but I hope I can stick to 50% portion sizes.

The doctor is right, we all eat too much food. This might not work for everyone, but for me, just changing portion size has had a dramatic effect.

By the way, he said my hiatal hernia was too small to justify open chest surgery and the Barrett’s esophagus was too small to warrant treatment at this time. He said my GERD was also mild and liquid antacids were good enough for now. I took some more blood tests, but nothing surprising so far.

Usually, I blog about user experience, technology, and design. However, this is what’s on my mind right now, so there it is.


Adobe Experience Design (XD) – Almost

My design tools:

  1. Pencil (#2 Soft HB Dixon Ticonderoga) and paper
  2. Microsoft PowerPoint on Windows 10

However, over the years, I have tried numerous alternatives. So far, none have been better in terms of quick iterations, high (enough) fidelity, portability, and ease of communication. I have tried numerous prototyping tools, graphics editors of all shapes and online services. No joy.

Recently, Adobe has been working on a product called Adobe Experience Designer (XD). They first released it on the MacOS, which means I couldn’t really use it. Then they released an Alpha for Windows. They called it a beta, but let’s be real, it’s not useable at all. The key missing feature is symbols and layers. Symbols is the one killer feature for me. I am happy with PowerPoint EXCEPT for its lack of symbols.

What’s a Symbol?
Good question. A symbol is a reusable object that you edit in one place and use it in many other spots. For example: In my UI, I have a navigation bar. If I make a bunch of pages, the navigation bar needs to be replicated. If it’s a symbol then I can change the nav in one place and it updates everywhere. This is the biggest pain in PowerPoint.

So the big problem for me trying Adobe XD is that it doesn’t have symbols in Windows yet. I just have to be patient and wait. I’ll review it in more detail once that happens.

Is it here yet?