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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…

The UX of Interviews (From both sides)

For the last couple of months, I have been talking with different companies about my next position. It’s a fascinating experience for me because I have been on the other side of the table for the last dozen years. Specifically, I am fascinated by how different people approach talking with candidates. This following is a hodgepodge of different anecdotes and topics, but hopefully you find it useful. The Grilling I was at an onsite interview and one of the people who worked there was grilling me with pointed questions. I asked him, “What is the fear you have about the…

Google Slides as a Design Tool

As I’ve written before, I believe Storyboards are the best way to communicate early designs, while Prototypes are better suited to later stage usability tests. A graphic spec is a different thing. This week I was using Google Slides to see if I could replicate my technique from Microsoft PowerPoint. I am sad to say that it failed to achieve the goal. However, it’s not a hopeless case. Here are the missing ingredients. Missing Animation Google Slides has some very basic animation. You can take an object and make it have entrance and exit effects. It’s a pretty limited list,…

London Trip 2018

My youngest son and I just returned from visiting London for a week. Here are a few thoughts and highlights: Money Apparently, everyone in London takes credit card. We didn’t find one thing that required cash. Next time, I won’t bother with Pounds and instead just use Mastercard on my Google Pay phone. One interesting thing is that they don’t take your credit card to a central POS system. They all bring the system as a handheld device to the table. I liked the system as it doesn’t let my card leave the table. Also, a note on the money…

Looking Forward

For the last half-year I was working with a stealth startup. Unfortunately, it did not work out as hoped. It’s an interesting space, but team dynamics is always a crucial factor. In this case, the ingredients in the crock-pot did not yield a pleasing taste. (Too much salt!) So, I find myself looking forward and thinking about what is next.  Maybe some unknown is good for the creative soul. I remember the Sabbatical I took in the summer of 2015. It really was the best summer I have ever had. If you ever have an opportunity, I strongly recommend it.…

My First Blue Apron Meal

We are trying Blue Apron. It’s a service that sends you fresh ingredients and the instructions on how to cook it. We are trying the once a week plan. The first problem was that Blue Apron sent us too many boxes at first and then sent one late. The scheduling screwed up our plans, but we tried to make it work. We chose the Garlic Caper Chicken as our first meal. The picture looked good. Cooking was relatively easy with the instructions. However, I noticed that the packaging all felt a bit wasteful. Everything was individually wrapped in little plastic…

We Are All Capuchin Monkeys

Short 1 min video showing how fairness is baked deep into our psyche. Notice the monkey getting the grape. He seems happy. It doesn’t seem unfair to THAT monkey. It’s the monkey who gets the cracker that gets pissed off. I have privilege coming out of my ears. I am white, tall, male, and American. No one scrutinizes me when I walk around in a store. Police don’t pull me over for no reason. I don’t have to worry about being sexually harassed or getting paid less because of my gender. I have the grape. All day grapes for me.…

Idea for Black Mirror Story

Its 4am. I woke up from a dream. It was an idea for a story. Here is it. Title: Auto Opening scene, close up of an eyeball with the reflection of a screen in the iris. Zooming out, you see people seated watching TV with blank looks on their faces. Next is a kid, watching a screen, hands folded on his lap, watching a video game being played on a screen. He is not playing, just watching, same blank stare. Next is a close up of a paint brush, painting thick oil onto a canvas. Zooming out you see a…

Talent Marketing

I was just talking with a friend who is in marketing. They are trying to hire someone and we were brainstorming different marketing techniques to land the candidate. We noticed a pattern. Recruiting is exactly like Marketing. The parallels between them is striking and it made me wonder why we recruit people the way we do. (HR departments make a website, schedule interviews and that’s it) Imagine a different way of thinking about recruiting. Imagine a team inside the marketing department which had the following responsibilities: Demand Generation This is a universally accepted tactic for generating sales leads. You have…

Deleted Post

Sometimes I wrote a whole post and then delete it. This is one of those. It was about gratuitous violence in mainstream movies and TV shows like Altered Carbon and the hypocrisy of Hollywood liberals who star in movies which glorify torture, mutilation and murder and then say mass shootings are caused by loose gun control laws. It was mostly a rant. It wasn’t even well written. Anyway, have a good day.

Product Specification Phases

TL;DR Product specification has a point of diminishing returns. Like most things in life, a nice chart makes it easier to understand. Time flows from left to right. The green line is how complete a specification is and the red line is how hard it is to make the green line move. Important: This chart assumes that product management has provided details of the problem space and requirements. How much of the specification they provide is variable and won’t be discussed in this post. Also the way PMs and Designers split up the work will also be omitted from this…

Basic Civility

Kindness. Empathy. Civility. I feel like the world is moving in the wrong direction on this. Maybe it’s the anonymity of the internet where you can say vile things to people on Twitter and feel no consequences. Even in a car, we yell at people, screaming that they are bad drivers when we would never do that in person. At work, I see an the volume of negativity increasing and the volume of camaraderie and collaboration decreasing. To be clear, I have an extremely limited view of the world. Of the 7.6 billion people worldwide, I interact regularly with a…

Hello PowerPoint, My Old Friend

Figma had been doing a decent job of letting me specify the product I am working on. However, there were some pretty serious gaps. Performance was a constant problem. First time load: 20 seconds. Freezing the screen, about 20 times a day. Community is ridiculously slow to load/use Strange behavior pretty frequently Also, a more important problem came up. As my prototype approached 80 screens, it started getting harder and harder to add/change things. What should have taken me minutes was taking me closer to an hour. Maintenance was getting harder and harder. Also, I noticed that presenting the prototype…

Nothing we can do

I passed a guy on the sidewalk talking to his friend. He said, “I know it sucks…but there is nothing we can do.” I have not idea what he was talking about, but those words haunted me from that moment until now. At first I was sad, thinking that life is truly hard. What can someone do if they are born with down syndrome or into poverty or an abusive family? What can you do if your coworker is an asshole but they are “indispensable”? It’s often tempting to say that there is nothing that can be done. Then something…

LinkedIn Connection Algorithm

Do I personally know you? Accept. Did we meet within the last 7 days? Accept, I guess. Was it longer than 7 days? Dude, come on. Fine. Jesus. Accept. Are you famous? I make that impressed frowny “not-bad” face. Acceptaroonie. Are you a product designer? I click the mouse like I am giving you a secret high five. Accept-five! Are you a relative? Ugh, serious eye roll. Fine whatever. Begrudging accept. Are you a recruiter? You just want to connect to abuse my connections. Nice try! Ignore. Are you a BDR/SDR? No, no, no, no.  I should publicly shame this person.…

Cutting the Cord – Conspiracy Theory

After going through the long process of cutting the cord, I realized the term is wrong. Here is my general logic. It’s kind of a long proof, so bear with me. Most television and video is produced to make money. The money only comes in two varieties: Subscription and Advertising. Network (Antenna) TV is all about advertising. Cable TV introduced the subscription model and they rolled up a bunch of small networks into tiers. Comedy Central = Standard, HBO = Premium. The individual content channels still make their living off advertising. Tivo invented the DVR and the allowed customers to…

All Politics is Local

A phrase closely linked to Tip O’Neill, which has been on my mind lately. Specifically, I was thinking about how companies make decisions. When you gather a diverse set of people in a room to make a decision, people usually try to lobby for the decision that is best for their locality. Let’s imagine the decision was about what to put in the next release of a product. The sales people would optimize for features that help sales. Support wants features that help support. Engineers want to pay down technical debt. UX wants to work on the interaction design. Each constituency…

Cutting the Cord Part 4

Ok, cutting the cord isn’t going to work for me. So let’s recap: Had DirecTV with Comcast Internet Switched to no DirecTV and just Android TV streaming (Netflix, Amazon Prime) Added Amazon FireTV Added Hulu at various levels (including the new beta) Added YouTubeTV Switched from Comcast to Wave Added Tivo Bolt with Wave cable (normal channels + HBO) Getting rid of Hulu and YouTubeTV and Amazon FireTV Numbers 7 and 8 are new. Funny enough, we had Tivo almost 20 years ago. The sound file they use for the error indicator is exactly the same.  The interface has changed,…