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Tag: Technology

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Adobe Experience Design (XD) – Almost

My design tools: Pencil (#2 Soft HB Dixon Ticonderoga) and paper 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…

Product Idea for an App: Told You So

I always had this dream of an app called “Told You So“. Here are the requirements: You sign in with Google or Facebook. It asks you to make a prediction. You sign it with your finger. It has a button for “I disagree” and someone else can sign that. It stores the predictions and signatures in the cloud. Later, when the event happens, you bring the prediction back up and show it to your friend/family member and say, “Told you so.” BAM button plays the “You’re the best around from Karate Kid.” Resolve button gives you the option of who…

Eero Wifi Review (Day 2)

My house is shaped funny. This results WiFi dead spots. This weekend, we moved a bunch of furniture around to give two of my kids their own room, rather than sharing. Doing something like that always involves alot of work you didn’t expect and plenty of dust in the air which made my left eye blood red. After moving the office downstairs, I realized that our dead spot problem was now blocking computers from the internet completely. I had to find a solution for 3 floors, 2 TVs and about 10 other roaming devices. Previously, I had tried WiFi extenders, but…

Verizon didn’t exactly buy Yahoo

In the news today it says “Verizon Announces $4.8 Billion Deal for Yahoo’s Internet Business” and “Verizon Buys Yahoo for $4.83B”. This confused me at first because Yahoo has over 40 billion in assets. Then I read the article and realized that Verizon bought the operating business but NOT the capital and assets. Here is the relevant part: “After the sale is completed early next year, Yahoo will become a holding company for its two stakes in China’s e-commerce leader, Alibaba Group, and Yahoo Japan. Those investments” … “are worth more than $40 billion before taxes.” “Yahoo also still has a patent…

The Uncanny Valley

The Uncanny Valley used in reference to the phenomenon whereby a computer-generated figure or humanoid robot bearing a near-identical resemblance to a human being arouses a sense of unease or revulsion in the person viewing it. In other words, the uncanny valley is when something looks close to the real thing but our brain freaks out and keeps saying, “Something is wrong.” If you have ever been to a Wax Museum, you get that feeling alot. I have been a fan of this new technology called a Bond letter. It’s kind of awesome. It is a machine that writes in…

Pokemon Go is already over

The speed of memes has been rising exponentially since the industrial revolution. When I was a child and a new idea or fad became popular it would take 1-2 years for the idea to spread and take a few more years for it to become officially dead. Just look at mullets from the 80’s! Last week Pokemon Go hit the world like a ton of bricks. There was literally hundreds of people roaming the streets staring at their phones while walking. Today, I visibly can see a drastic diminishment of the zombie numbers on the sidewalks. My oldest kid said he…

Analytics Design vs. Interaction Design

Interaction Design is easy for me. I can see the big picture and architect the system with all of the right patterns. When it comes to Analytics Design, I find my inner muse drags its feet. I am not talking about designing a BI tool like Tableau or Good Data. These have some interesting interactions. I am talking about the Analytics section of a workflow application. In my mind, there are two types of people. Dashboard people and analytical people. Dashboard People This is the majority of people. They don’t want to slice and dice and explore. They want to…

Social Network Connection Categories

I have Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections and Google contacts. If you put most of them in front of me, I would have no idea who they are. Why am I connected to all these people? I actually know about 5% of my social connections. How does that help me or anyone else? Think of the taxonomy of people in your network. There is, of course, a million variations such as “Used to be friends, but we have fallen apart” or “I worked closely with them 6 years ago.” However, that doesn’t lend itself to a coherent network. I have…

Silicon Valley Product Marketing

I am not officially trained in anything in particular. I’ve learned from practice for the past 22 years. Over the years, I have headed UX, Product Management, Training, Documentation and Product Marketing. Each area has a different set of mental models and techniques to do a good job. I have seen people who were masters of each area, but on average I find the quality level to be lacking. Maybe I have my bar set too high. For product marketing in particular, there are a few areas that I think should be done much better than what I see. For the…

The Future of Email

I have been emailing for around 25 years. It was the original killer app of the internet. Quick communication with immediate delivery. It has had a tremendous run, but I am starting to see signs of its demise. Here is a brief timeline of my email experience: Compuserve – You emailed people based on their ID. Like 23524556@compuserve.com. It was inhuman and lame. However, it was still better than sending snail mail. AOL – My cousin and I shared an account which was one of the first 1000 subscribers with the handle freeness@aol.com. It was a stupid name, but it…

Browser Extensions: The New Platform

There have been many business software platforms over the last 20 years. Usually, these things go in waves of popularity. Some examples that were very popular: Novell Windows 3.1/95 Netscape Flash (short lived) IE6 iPhone/iPad Android Facebook Salesforce I see a new platform gaining in popularity: Browser Extensions. I have been compiling more and more. They are coming out from many software vendors. The reality is that people still use their laptops. iPads and smart phones are great for gaming and light work, but they just aren’t popular as the primary business device. Go into any business office and you…

Google Inbox/Calendar vs Outlook

I have not had an easy time adjusting to Google Apps. GMail is ugly, Inbox is pretty but severely limited and Google Calendar is deeply frustrating. More and more, I have been missing the power and elegance of Microsoft Outlook. I decided to try and use Outlook on top of Google Apps. At first, I tried to configure the settings manually. This failed spectacularly. Interestingly, I got this passive aggressive email from Google. Notice the language: Someone just tried to sign in to your Google Account from an app that doesn’t meet modern security standards. We strongly recommend that you…