Skip to content

commadot.com Posts

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,…

Design Influences

Every major product I have designed has had specific influences. Some examples: Marketo In 2007, when I was thinking about the Marketo UI I rewatched Minority Report (2002). The UI where Tom Cruise waved his arms in the air was the inspiration for how Smart Lists would drag items from the right to the left. Additionally, IBM Rational Rose, had this filtering system that I liberally paid homage to in the way filters worked. Engagio I was introduced to a tool called Lever, which is a recruiting tool. It inspired me to think deeper about Chrome extensions and how they…

Cutting the Cord Part 3

My journey has taken a negative turn. My youngest son wanted to watch Adam Ruins Everything, which is a fun show on the TruTV network. The problem is that TruTV is not on Hulu or YouTubeTV. Sidenote: Google Branding is Broken For your understanding: YouTube is everyone’s videos uploaded YouTube Red just removes the ads from YouTube YouTubeTV is a Hulu/Sling/Cable competitor and is unrelated to YouTube Android TV is a competitor for Amazon FireTV/Stick or Apple TV and is unrelated to your Android phone Google has a branding problem on their hands. They have too many products that have…

2018 Wishes and Predictions

Politics Easy prediction: Trump will tweet stupid shit all year. The Russia investigation will lead to more drama and possibly impeachment along with sketchy pardons. My main prediction is that Democrats will gain one of the houses of congress. This will yield gridlock until 2020 (a good thing) when Joe Biden is elected president. Wish: I wish there were fewer stories in the news. I can’t take it. It’s just too much. Also, I wish that the liberals on the Supreme Court stay alive. Hang in there for 2 more years people. Sports I don’t care about the NFL anymore,…

Cutting the Cord Part 2

I did not realize it, but I actually have a choice on internet access. I just assumed that Comcast had a monopoly on my house. I have been waiting patiently for fiber, but it has not been available. Luckily, Grant commented about Wave Communications who provides internet access for a very reasonable price. Here is my current monthly breakdown: Item Monthly Notes Wave Internet $90 I splurged for gigabit speeds Netflix $14 Amazon Video $10 Hulu $12 No Commercials HBO for Hulu $15 YouTube TV $35 Comes with Tennis Channel and Warriors Games Internet Total $90 Content Total $72 The main difference…

Cutting the Cord Part 1

Warning: This has been an insane journey, so I might be ranting a bit. Once DirecTV changed their interface, I decided to suspend the service and see if I could live in the streaming only world. It’s been an insane journey which will likely be impossible to journal. I’ll do my best and at some point I am just going to list pieces of the puzzle. Sony TV My pride and joy. It’s a super large 4k flat panel that sits over our fireplace. The main purpose of this device is to show pixels in the right colors and play…

New DirecTV UI Fail/Learn

As a designer, I always look at the design of things, especially user interfaces. Recently DirecTV updated their user interface in dramatic fashion. It’s very different than before. I could call it an epic fail, except that I hate that term. It’s an Epic LEARN. There is a forum thread on AT&T (who now owns DirecTV) about the “upgrade”. Here are some before and after pictures and analysis. OLD RECENT NEW Readability Ok, the first thing, what do you notice? It should be the contrast ratio. The blue UI is bright and easy to read. The font size is large and…

UX Tool: SubForm

These two guys apparently set up a kickstarter to build a new design tool, named SubForm. I just watched a few videos. It’s not available for download yet, but rather than go “stealth” the two founders decided to build tool in broad daylight. I have alot of respect for that. It jives with my personal value of transparency. Of course, it means your competition can see your work, but I have always found that the benefits of being open outweigh the benefits of being secretive. The videos are interesting. The SubForm folks have really taken responsive CSS strongly into the design…

Concurrent / Collaborative Editing

Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system. In other words, the more people using something, the more valuable that thing is. My first few computers in the 1980s were islands, completely isolated from the rest of the world. It wasn’t until Prodigy and CompuServe that I realized there were other people in the world like me. My first modem was a 1200 baud. I think my dad paid $400 for it. Later, I was one of the first 1000 members of America Online which…

Decision Models

In 2005, I worked for a year at Intuit and they claimed to be Customer-Driven. This came from a specific story. Originally the company produced Quicken, a personal finance tool. When they watched their customers, they realized that many of them were using it for business purposes. They realized this market and produced QuickBooks, which turned into the category king of small business accounting software. The customer DROVE them to build the software. They took their cues from the customer. They weren’t data driven or creativity driven or any other kind of driven. At early Apple, one might say it…

Interview Questions for a First Marketer

I have a bunch of questions for Product Designers that I have evolved over time. However, I don’t think I have ever done the same exercise for Marketing. The context is the “first marketer” in a company. At Marketo, this was Kelly Abner. He did an awesome job and helped the product development by being his usual brutally honest self. So I’ve been thinking about questions I could ask. Not all of these will end up in the interview, but here are some: Topic 1: Traffic Cop “Are you aware of the Marketo Traffic Cop? Do you like it?” If…

The Care Pie

We all care about lots of decisions. However, it’s not healthy to argue about every single decision. In fact, it’s not healthy to argue about 90% of the decisions that are made. I talk to people about the Decision-Care Pie. This is a pie-chart that has two parts. The first part is the 10%. These are the decisions that you truly should argue about. You should be passionate and defend your position. I sometimes call this “Using your chips”. The other part is 90%. These are the decisions that you should NOT argue about. You should let other people decide.…

Design Tools 2018 Prediction

I think the market for product designers stink. We have no real loyalty and minimal budget. I would never join a startup that targets me as a customer. However, there are plenty of players out there. Here is my prediction for 2018 in the space: Adobe The category king in many ways. Photoshop and Illustrator still dominate worldwide design. However, Silicon Valley and the early adopters have begun the revolt. Adobe has to re-earn loyalty from scratch the way Microsoft has lost Silicon Valley and early adopters as well for the OS. For product design, Adobe has XD. I tried…

Product Responsibilities Framework v0.2

Product Responsibilities Framework v0.1 Frameworks for how to organize your product team are sometimes difficult to follow and figure out who does what. Product managers are often given too many job responsibilities and end up being spread too thin. Lately, I have been thinking about this and wanted to redo my v0.1 framework and add in a few items like Adoption Marketing and Market Demand Research. Plus, I reorganized the structure to make more sense to me. Take a look. I believe in open-sourcing this sort of thinking. I don’t have a book, I don’t have a speaking tour. We…

History is not kind to Bill Clinton

Im a progressive. When I look back at Bill Clinton’s presidency, all I see is bad policy and embarrassment. He was not a liberal and no friend to progressives. Here is a run down of his “accomplishments”: Defense of Marriage Act: Clearly on the wrong side of history. He legislated against gay marriage instead of standing up for their rights. Within 15 years, this law is overturned. Repealed the Glass-Steagall Act: This one action sowed the seeds for the 2007 financial collapse. It is one of the worst decisions in presidential history and still stands as the law of the land…

Google Interprets Material in Many Ways

Material Design isn’t one single thing, even at Google. I spent about 5 minutes taking some screenshots of different Google properties and their interpretation of Google Material Design. None of these are “pre-material”. Quick looks: The new Google Calendar is much better than the original mess. However, they are stretching material in new ways. Notice the blue SAVE button on the top right. Also, the fields have background colors and icons on the left. Google Inbox (to me) is a nice improvement over GMail. Notice the blue SEND button on the bottom left. Form elements are transparent with gray lines.…

My Dog has Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis happens when the pancreas becomes inflamed. That’s an organ near the stomach that helps digest food and control blood sugar. (Source) Leroy was not eating and passing blood all over the floor. It’s freaking me out. The treatment is not really a treatment. You give him fluids and hope it goes away. Modern medicine is amazing and can do crazy things, but doctors will also admit that they really don’t understand 99% about how our bodies really work. One colleague was talking about anesthesia that his child had received. The doctor said they know that certain drugs will knock you out for some…

Axure RP Revisited 2017

Just for kicks, I downloaded Axure RP. I have been using Figma and thought, “I wonder how long it would take me to make this in Axure. 10 min later, I was giving it a try. Meta Point Whenever you are curious about something, just do it. Don’t wish for it, don’t hem and haw. Just follow Shia LeBeouf’s advice. It’s amazing to me how many people think curious thoughts and then refuse to act upon them. OK, </soapBox> Axure Review Bottom line: Axure is by far the most flexible prototyping tool short of actually programming the UI. It is…

Top Gun Revisited

I haven’t watched Top Gun in decades, but I just watched it again. Its such a classic. However, I have a major complaint. Goose dies and they send him back up with a new partner. The partner yells at him and he loses his temper. Viper says, “Its only been a few days.” WHAT?? They sent him back up literally a few days later? He doesn’t get to mourn the loss of his best friend?? What kind of sick shit is this? Goose’s wife says “He loved flying with you but he would have flown anyway.” Then Charlie (the girl)…

Social Anxiety

According to the Social Anxiety Institute: Social anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance. I am absolutely familiar with this feeling. Although I can be charming, outgoing, and gregarious in group situations, I constantly have this feeling of being negatively judged. Although it surprises some people, I am an introvert. Spending time with people makes me uncomfortable and tired. To recharge my batteries, I need to be alone. I can “bend” my introversion when I need to be on stage…

Startup People

What makes someone a really good employee for a startup? I was at a company culture outing a few years ago (small startup) and some people said they wanted to work there because they wanted to be part of a rocket ship. They thought the previous experience of the leadership team was such that the company would obviously be part of a huge new success story. This really freaked me out at the time. Every startup is exactly like a rocket ship, except that there is no place to sit, no engine, no wings, no navigation and no idea how…

Removing Backgrounds from Photos

I have been an ongoing customer of Photoshop for the life of the product with steady upgrades every year. However, today, I canceled my Photoshop subscription. My main reason is that I just don’t use the program frequently enough. I basically use it to crop images or eliminate the background on photos. It’s not like I am an avid photo manipulator or a creative services production artist. I Googled Photoshop replacement and found two options that look fine to me. Paint.net and GIMP. I am trying the development version of GIMP right now. It’s taking a long time to boot…

A proposal for improving artboards in design tools

In Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD and others there is this concept called an artboard. It’s basically putting all of your different screens on one mega screen and you organize it as you see fit. You zoom in and out to go to where you want to go. Unfortunately, although its the new cool thing, I find the usability to be terrible. Here is a picture of my current project. On the left hand side you have your different artboards (or Frames in Figma) and a tree of all the different content. I have an alternative proposal for all of these…

Design Tool Sadness (2017)

I want the best of all my tools. Here is my perfect mashup: Powerpoint Table Editing Text formatting Ease of use Storyboarding Figma Symbols Constraints Concurrent editing Cool-factor Adobe XD Performance/speed Large community Stable financial resources Yesterday, I was trying to wire up the prototype of the system I am working on and Adobe XD was sucking so bad that I literally screamed. Their symbols are garbage. Who the fuck thought that changing a symbol on one artboard should change it everywhere?  You can’t see the changes you are making and don’t realize you fucked up your whole system! I…

Designing your prototype structure

It’s rare that you get to build a system from scratch. The early decisions you make will stick around for a long time. Last week, I built a new design system for my new job. For this project, I chose Adobe XD over Figma. When Figma releases new performance enhancements, I might change my mind, but its Adobe for now.  I refactored it a few times and have been thinking about the structure. DISCLAIMER: I don’t think I have all the answers. I am doing this on my own and no one has shown me best practices. I am learning…