Skip to content

commadot.com Posts

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 Repealed the Glass-Steagall Act: This one action sowed the seeds for the 2007 financial collapse.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…

Great Team or Great Players

I often hear people say they want to work at a company because they are led by a great team. What they usually mean is that the team is comprised of people who were successful before, or at least they were at successful companies. The same goes for venture capital investments. They often will invest in a great leadership team, but what they really mean is that the pedigrees of the leadership has been associated with previous success. In contrast, a true “great team” is a group of people who work well together. They are aligned in spirit with diverse…

Figma or XD (again)

I’m all set up at my new desk. I have a riches of monitor space. They are attached to arms so I can lift it up and show the work to someone standing next to me. My new laptop is the Dell XPS 13-9350. No USB port! Crazy, but its working well so far. I’ve been working in Figma designing my new product, and I just got an email from Adobe announcing their 2018 line including the new Adobe XD. I am still so torn on which tool to commit to. On the one hand, Figma has concurrency, constraints and a…

Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite

For a business, I think Office 365 is a better choice than GSuite. Office 365 G Suite Rich Desktop Apps Nope Online Web Apps Same Separate identify Confused with my personal gmail Microsoft Teams (for Chat) Need to buy Slack Skype for Video Need Slack or other SharePoint (Wiki) Need to buy Confluence Works on Mobile Same Calendar is great Calendar sucks $13/user/month $10-$25/user/month 1TB Storage Same First, I can’t stand the Google business calendar. I really hate it. I miss meetings all the time because it has to rely on the browser to notify me. With a desktop app,…

More (Unfortunate) Thoughts on Self-Driving Cars

I think the first big markets to pick up self-driving cars will be Long Haul Trucks and Taxi-Cabs. Long Haul Trucks It makes sense to transform shipping into a robotic effort. It’s cheaper and safer. However, I see one flaw. People are assholes. – Glen There was this robotic hitchhiker experiment where the little guy would travel around the united states. 2 weeks in, he was found decapitated in the woods. People are assholes. Not all people. Some people are assholes. If there were self-driving 18-wheel trucks, some people would want to derail them or even hijack them. In fact, it…

LinkedIn Loose Connections

Linked does not care if you know the people you are connected with.  Look at this screen they just put in front of me. Add 381 connections!!  I don’t know those people! LinkedIn is saying to me, “Hey, why don’t you send out 381 emails to people you don’t know asking to connect?” I guarantee that other people click this button all the time. LinkedIn is making a mockery of what a connection is. It’s not someone you know. It’s meaningless. I don’t even understand the point anymore. If everyone is connected to everyone, then NO CONNECTIONS MATTER! LinkedIn needs…

Moving on from Engagio & MarTech

After 9 years of Marketo and 2 years of Engagio, I am moving on to a non-martech product. Engagio has a great future ahead of it and as a shareholder, I fully expect them to go public and be worth billions of dollars. I think I have built a good product foundation at Engagio that hopefully will serve them well for years to come. I have made great friends there that hopefully will stay in touch with me. As for Marketing, I have appreciated all of you and how wonderful it is to design products for you. There are so many…

New iPad OS – Worse

My iPad asked me to update the OS. Unfortunately, it changed a whole mess of stuff that made the usage worse. Everything seems more complicated. Some first day thoughts: I don’t want a more complicated dock at the bottom – I don’t want frequently used apps I don’t want to split screen I never ever want the video to play in a tiny window at the bottom. Never. I don’t want to 5-finger twist whatever gesture. I don’t want to pay money for iCloud so I can have apps that aren’t actually on my iPad. I DO want to adjust…

Counter-Intuitive Thinking

The thing about counter-intuitive thinking is that its often the correct logical thinking and almost everyone believes the opposite. Logic and common intuition are not friends. For example, you can often ONLY get things done with the opposite person you expect. Some examples: Only a Jew can make fun of the Holocaust Just ask Mel Brooks. It’s OK to make fun because it’s our hardship to bear, but others can’t make fun of it. That’s anti-semitic. (I was raised Jewish btw and make fun of almost everything) Only a Black person can use the N-word We watch the show Insecure…

LinkedIn’s Windows 10 App

I use Windows 10. But Glen, you are a designer, why don’t you use Macs?!? – Everyone Here are my answers since everyone brings it up: I’ve been using Microsoft operating systems since 1986. I’ve beta tested every OS they have ever released including Windows ME (Yuck!) Most of the world (and about 35% of my users ) have Windows. All of the engineers here use Macs, so SOMEONE should be looking at the product the way that our customers do. I see no benefit to switching. The Mac doesn’t have better software for me, isn’t faster for me, doesn’t…

I miss Skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism is the design concept of making items represented resemble their real-world counterparts. (Examples) Im in Windows → Chrome → WordPress and almost all of the shadows, gradients and rounded corners have been eliminated. I miss buttons that had heft and affordance that screamed Click Me. The Nielsen-Norman group recent published a study that found significant reduction in task completion because of flat design. I know design fashion is a real thing that makes a difference, but I think flat design has had its time and now we need to bring back rounded corners, shadows and gradients. Bring back affordance! Affordance is when an…

Teaching Excel in High School

My kids are in middle and high school. They are learning math at different levels. The thing that annoys me is how little they use Excel to do their work. Why do we teach kids how to calculate by hand? Think of the alternative: Start teaching excel early like kindergarden Accelerate through simple subjects like addition and subtraction Start to give harder problems to solve that require multiple cells with advanced math like geometry Make tests where you need to solve problems in Excel and “show your work” by breaking the problem down into discrete cells Super advanced levels –…

The End of Trust

I listened to a Radiolab podcast recently about some new technologies. One is called Adobe Voco. Voco allows you to easily manipulate audio of another person. You can even make someone say something they never said before. The other technology lets you create a video of someone saying something they have never said before. Sort of like video puppetry. (See example) Without going into the details, this kind of technology can be used to create fake audio or video. Remember that “Grab em by the pussy” audio of Donald Trump? If that happened today, I bet he would claim that it’s…

A funny thing happened on the way to the domain server

Marketo forgot to pay their domain bill to Network Solutions. Thus their entire service went down today. Keep in mind, this is a billion dollar company which is part of a 10+ billion dollar private equity firm. There are over 1,200 people who work there. How could this happen? Well, the reality is that it’s quite easy. Here is the formula: Lose alot of employees including managers over a short period of time It’s a simple formula, I know. However, this is how things go awry. When architects leave the engineering team, the architecture falls apart. When designers leave the…

Grinding

There are particular kinds of games where you have to spend alot of time doing simple things to get your level up. An example is killing a million squirrels in the forest so you can buy the sword to go after a dragon in a cave. This technique is called grinding. Some games specialize in this kind of play. The psychology is pretty interesting. It clearly hits a part of my brain that is difficult to shut off. I feel like I can’t stop grinding. Madden NFL Mobile has a serious grinding mentality. I find myself needing to do it…

An ABM Adventure

I am Head of Product for Engagio, a SaaS application with lots of features and users who use them. (Is there any other type of SaaS application?) Warning: This blog post throws data around the web with total abandon and gets confusing. You have been warned. My Mission: To activate and spur usage in the system. First Step: Usage Tracking If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. (Thanks, Avinash for that lesson over 10 years ago.) We use Pendo for application usage tracking and other stuff. We spent a few weeks tagging every feature in the app and rolling up…

Why I eat food

I can think of five reasons I eat food. Hunger Boredom It tastes good Food is in front of me Other people are eating in front of me Hunger I almost never eat food because I’m hungry. When I was 17 I was hungry all the time. I could eat ALL DAY. However, this has waned for me in recent decades. I don’t think I have been truly hungry all year. I know there are plenty of people in the world who are hungry. I am just not one of them. Let’s call this 0%. Boredom I’d say I eat…

Sphere of Influence, Control, Concern

An interesting way to frame an employee is by spheres, specifically three of them: Sphere of Control is the stuff you can decide on your own. This is people you manage and project you do the work personally. Sphere of Influence is stuff that you can guide through collaboration or subtle techniques. Your friendly co-worker is part of your sphere of influence. Sphere of Concern is stuff you care about but you have no way to influence it. This might be happenings in other departments in which you don’t have strong connections. Let’s take a look at some different circle…

The Sweet Spot

There are many manifestations of the sweet spot.  Some examples: Product Strategy In this image, the sweet spot is avoiding competition while also focusing on what you do best. If you focus on the customer needs and ignore your own capabilities then you run the risk of failure to execute. If you only focus on what you can achieve, you might not find a market. If you drift too close to the competitors it creates other problems. Sports This image of a gold club shows how hitting the wrong part of the club yields a bad shot. There really isn’t…

Managing Up, Down and Across

Career Phase 1 – Be Manageable When you get your first job you need to work on being manageable. This means taking direction, taking feedback, working hard, being responsible for your work, taking pride in what you do. In the dawn of your career, this skill will make you valuable in an organization. No one likes a young worker who can’t take direction or isn’t responsible for their effort. There is no magic trick to this. You have to be open, honest and work hard. Career Phase 2 – Manage Across Managing across is about getting along with peers. It’s unlikely…