December 19

PokémonGO Buddy Gameplay Upgrade: Broken Buddies?

I got into tech writing (and righting) because I wanted to understand and improve technology more. But my approach to efficient (lazy path, minimal clicks) gameplay made me think the old buddy stats were broken or gone due to this week’s PokémonGO client update.

I’d walked nearly 20km to evolve a Feebas last week, but the update insisted he had 0km on his counter … or maybe 3.1km.

After a ridiculous amount chasing through menus, I found the right count. But did it really need to be gone? Maybe so. Because the cost to ‘right’ it might be too high.

How I think the feature replacement went down

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Category: Data Architecture, Free Beta Testers, games, Niantic, PokemonGO, User eXperience | Comments Off on PokémonGO Buddy Gameplay Upgrade: Broken Buddies?
December 3

Don’t Format Me, Bro: Turning off Slack’s WYSIWYG

My best guess is that @slackHQ got a lot of flack for their good idea: adding WYSIWYG.

But one thing that makes a good idea a great idea is making sure that your broad user base really wants it, or can easily turn it off.

Earlier today they finally rolled out what would have made it great at release … a way to disable this feature that some hard-core keyboardists abhor.

@Netflix … are you listening?

:hamborger:

If you want to copy+paste the instructions to share, here it is in Markdown: (you may need to add your own :hamborger: to your workspace)

 By the way, if the auto format function on Slack is slowing 
you down by breaking your typing stride, close and reopen
(or force refresh) the Slack client, then:

Click the oddly placed :hamborger: (:hamburger:) overflow menu,
then pick *File* > *Preferences…* > *Advanced* > *Format 
messages with markup*

@LorenaB 
Category: Data Architecture, DO NOT STARTLE USER, User eXperience | Comments Off on Don’t Format Me, Bro: Turning off Slack’s WYSIWYG
November 23

It’s just a click to the left, then a swipe to the right

Put your thoughts on the disk, then post next night … But it’s the future posts … that really drive me insane … let’s fix the WordPress again!

If anything takes longer than 90 seconds, automate it. While that’s an exaggeration for the rest of the world, I try to adhere to it as best I can. It comes from years of writing technical documentation and automating as much as possible. I want to focus on content, not fiddling with fonts or meddling with layouts.

I want to do this with WordPress, too. Automate the crap out of things, including future links. But I can’t. Despite its size, it’s not really built for people who know what they’re doing … but my research shows no one else knows how to future link, either. And maybe it’s another job for EdgeCase Industries. But … maybe not.

The future may be written, but it doesn’t exist.

Let’s talk about what I mean by “future link”. I write in fits and spurts. Thanks to scheduling, I can write lots of posts in a night and have three weeks worth of posts done and posting without me. Except when it comes to linking my posts together.

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Category: Data Architecture, site stuff, User eXperience, Wordpress | Comments Off on It’s just a click to the left, then a swipe to the right
September 12

You already changed the password? Sumptuously!

The return rate on these kinds of emails must be pretty splendoriffic given the language used. I used to wonder how much more they’d earn if they’d hire themselves a good copywriter … but I’m also glad they don’t.

So you hacked the googles, huh?

But in a world of AI content creation and great deep fakes … some bright hacker might simply need to take a couple of online classes to up their game ….

Category: Google, phishin, security | Comments Off on You already changed the password? Sumptuously!
September 9

Is Smart Wake worth $120 a year to me?

So Fitbit is rolling out both a premium service and Smart Wake this fall; a recent hardware review confirmed that it is finally coming back:

I genuinely would’ve loved to try Fitbit’s upcoming Smart Wake alarm, which will purportedly wake you when you’re in a lighter phase of sleep so you feel more refreshed. However, that’s not rolling out until later this fall.

https://gizmodo.com/the-fitbit-versa-2-is-a-solid-update-that-just-makes-me-1836705570

But I’ve been stuck with a dumb alarm for a few years now. If it’s “free”, I’ll take it … but I’m not sure it’s worth $120 a year. Thanks, Fitbit … sort of …

Note: I currently hold Fitbit stock.
Category: future, hardware | Comments Off on Is Smart Wake worth $120 a year to me?
June 28

How many clicks does it take to get to the reset of a GE lightbulb?

The world may never know.

It’s been making the rounds, the handy GE “UPDATED: How to: Reset C by GE Light Bulbs (864,376 views 6/28/19 7:37pm ET)” video. I heard about it in one of my tech writer Slack channels, and just had to see it for myself.

The spectacle of specificity that guides users down the Happy Path of resetting the bulb is something, indeed, to behold.

Once I saw the problem, and GE’s solution, my brain immediately traveled back in time to the early 1990s and a gadget that was as important to my life then as my smart phone is to me now. An omni-gadget that with a few adjustments could solve this bulb’s and other smart device reset issues … just like my little gadget saved my bacon back in the days of plaid flannel and military surplus boots.

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April 17

Printers May Go Offline At Random

In honor of World Haiku Day ….

Third level is where we solve all of the rest of your problems. First level asks if you turned it off and turned it back on again, Second level helps you reinstall … but Third level gets deep in the code where sometimes things have just gone funky.

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September 12

You’re reading my mind, Apple …

So we’re a mixed household. Some Apple, some Windows, and a few Androids tucked away here and there.

Our digital data is similarly patched together: Some Amazon items, Google Play titles, and a lot of Apple TV content.

A recent announcement out of Cupertino really has me wondering if Apple is reading my mind.

When we see an interesting movie, we’re faced with a dilemma: rent it or buy it? Sometimes the prices are close enough that it’s a tough choice. Will we want to watch over and over again? Will we regret buying it? Will we pay almost double to rent it and then buy it?

Take, for example, the movie Beatriz at Dinner. Currently, it’s $5.99 to rent, and $9.99 to buy.

We could rent it, love it, then buy it for a total of $15.98.

We could buy it, love it, and spend $9.99.

We could buy it, hate it, and have “rented it” for $9.99 instead of $5.99.

Yeah, I know, #firstworldproblems .

But here’s where they’re starting to read my mind. I’ve always wanted Apple to let you treat the rental price as a “try it before you buy it” option. Continue reading

Category: Apple, Data Architecture, future, hardware | Comments Off on You’re reading my mind, Apple …
August 14

You do the hokey pokey and you find a work around

My teenagers are going to be driving soon, so I’ll need to equip the car with my parents’ “driving school” hack: an aluminum can with a few pebbles inside. We don’t remember exactly who thought it up, but we all remember using it well.

Deployment was simple,  “rulings” not subject to appeal. Just throw it in the back seat or pickup bed. If it rattles when you maneuver, you were going too fast. Simple. Objective. Argument-proof.

At home with our own brood these days, we employ similar absurd measures to prevent unwanted actions.

  • iPad too feeble to entertain OS updates? Put a passcode on it. Then you can never accidentally deploy an update.
  • Keep pocket launching an otherwise mostly useless garage door app and popping the door open? Bury the app under three layers of folders.

Defeating the Pocket Launches

Sure, I could, you know, LOCK my phone, but then life would be boring. How else would I scare the crap out of myself investigating middle-of-the-night noises if I didn’t pocket launch Audible at full sound? THIS IS AUDIBLE! (It was only the wind, skritching a tree branch on a window screen.)

But the mostly useless garage door app recently became more Lorena-and-pockets-and-toddlers-proof. You can now require a Touch ID fingerprint to open the garage door. Yay!

Of course, there many many other things they can change about the app to make me happy (I’ve been ruminating about it a while), but I’m delighted they’ve added this feature. Stay tuned for the pull apart on garage door apps.

Touch ID prompt

Category: DO NOT STARTLE USER, Free Beta Testers, security, User eXperience | Comments Off on You do the hokey pokey and you find a work around
August 2

I cut the cable, and I may be cutting Netflix free

netflix is cancelled screen

Back in the day, when Netflix had their blue logo and distribution houses only in California, we gave it a try. Too long a turnaround and many broken discs later, we took a break.

The new and improved red-logoed Netflix had a significant impact on our decision to “cut the cord” … as a result we’ve been cable and/or satellite free for well over a decade. We’ll stay at a hotel with cable once in a while, and use the time to remind ourselves why we have stayed severed from real-time television. Noise, commercials, lack of selection and control. Our cord-cutting apps do just fine.

Enter Autoplay Previews …

But a few days ago, the Netflix app on our Apple TV (current generation) started behaving just as badly as cable/satellite TV. It started autoplaying previews. Very annoying. Very loud. So we scrolled through the app options, scrolled through the online options, but found no way to turn it off. Continue reading

Category: DO NOT STARTLE USER, fix it already, Free Beta Testers, Netflix, User eXperience | Comments Off on I cut the cable, and I may be cutting Netflix free