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Tag: Random

Turn your Data into a Story

The essence of data visualizations is to tell a story. There are some great charts like Napoleon’s march to Moscow and Florence Nightingale’s chart on the causes of deaths in the Crimean War. Recently, my oldest son pointed out the following chart to me. Both are an image of Washington DC. The first shows the number of families living below the poverty line by Ward. In other words, the dark red areas are poor. The second shows the average number of Emergency Room visits for children 0-17 years old. Do you see what I see?  Where there is poverty, there…

Capturing Imagination

I love that phrase, “It captured my imagination”. It makes me think of my imagination as a wild animal. I’m hunting it, stalking in the shadows, staying downwind. I am trying not to scare it away. My imagination is quick and nimble, like an antelope or an ibex. (Hudsucker Proxy!) I must be stealthy to capture it. Capturing YOUR imagination is even harder. At least I know where my imagination lives. Your imagination might be anywhere. How am I going to capture it? I have to inspire you and create an image in your head. Imaginations live in the world…

Thoughts on Creativity (2018)

There are lots of threads/books/posts/podcasts on the topic of Creativity. Here is a sampling of my thoughts on the subject. Creativity is combining two unrelated items to form a new thing. I imagine our brains as a home office. We have our desk where we work on things. We have file cabinets with old memories, ideas, and experiences. We have tools like calculators, pencils and erasers. Also, there is a small garden gnome in the office named Creativity. (If your home office is missing a gnome, you should fix that.) When we are working on something, the garden gnome sometimes…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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.…

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.

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…

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.…

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,…

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…

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.…

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…