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

Continue reading
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’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 …
June 1

Designing your mobile game to flail: A look at the UX in PokémonGO

Years and years ago, there was a really great Super Bowl ad for a job site called monster.com. The premise was kids dreaming aloud of grown up jobs, but speaking of their dreams in ridiculous terms. The one that resonated most with me at the time was a dead serious tween: “I want to file all day.” Nobody wants to file all day.

And this goes for gamers, too. The equivalent of filing in video games is organizing and maintaining your inventory. Chasing through ridiculous amounts of menus just sucks the enjoyment right out of the game. No gamer is thinking to themselves: “I want to click through menus all day.”

But that is exactly what you do in PokémonGO. Click through unnecessary menus all darn day. It hurts gameplay, and I bet it’s even suppressing recurring player counts.

I’ve been playing PokémonGO on and off since it’s public release. There have been some changes to the “capture” side of the gameplay that are fantastic. Improvements to the “battle” side of the gameplay experience are still lacking, however.

Capture Gameplay Improvements:

  • Sliding Capture Menus
  • Appraisal function on the secondary character screen
  • Buddy System  

Continue reading

January 31

I’ve been losing FitBits since 1.0

I lost one in September 2010, one in November 2010, and a few more since then. The original “clip” design failed for me … it kept popping off my ample waistline, and didn’t do well clipped to my shirt or bra, either. The hardware’s inability to handle multiple wake ups overnight didn’t do me any good, either.

Fitbits were originally priced around $99, and have mostly gone up in price. And complexity (still no Smart Alarm). And when you add on a new, more comfortable band … the cost goes up even more.

Another one, an Alta this time, has wandered off. We have an idea of where it might be, but it depends on the honesty of everyone else there. More likely it’s on eBay or Craigslist.

My suggestion is this: how about a “lock out” button? You can report your cell phone stolen to your carrier, why not the same for a fitness band? Heck, it’d be a revenue stream to subscribe to a return service; you try to sync a “stolen” subscribed band and you get a reward for returning it. At the very least, a “lock out” of a stolen item will reduce the resale value of stolen goods ….

user-edited Fitbit App screen.
Click the lock to lock it out from synching to a new user profile. Brick it till you get it back.

Category: Data Architecture, fix it already, Free Beta Testers | Comments Off on I’ve been losing FitBits since 1.0
November 30

Fixing the Functionality Tree: Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO is one of a new generation of mobile games, tied to the real word using GPS and user-mapped locations for gameplay. Users walk around to find fixed play points, such as Pokestops and Gyms, as well as to find wild Pokemon at random spawn points. Each of these actions are tied to action trees for capturing game resources or reagents as needed.

There are several interlayered game play actions required to play the game, but my main annoyance is this: I can view the Pokemon I’ve “captured” in the game, but I can’t heal or repair them within that screen. I have to chase all the way back out to the main view screen, switch to the Items menu, and then guess how to heal or revive a Pokemon.

If I want to “upgrade” or “evolve”, I have to drop back to the main view screen, select the Pokemon to work with, and then upgrade or evolve the Pokemon.

While I understand that the reagents used in these game play actions are gathered in different ways (repair items are picked up at Pokestops, candy and stardust from capturing wild Pokemon), it doesn’t make sense to me that they have to be accessed in different game play action trees.

Accessing healing and revival through the Items menu allows players to wholesale heal and revive their Pokemon. Tap a Pokemon, heal them up. But players who want to min max their resources are stuck. They can’t see how many hit points a damaged Pokemon has – should they use two twenty point potions, or one fifty point potion?

Allowing a player to access potions from the Pokemon primary character screen would make it easier to manage resources. See a Pokemon’s hit points, select a healing potion, and apply with ease. You don’t have to take away the ability to mass-heal groups of Pokemon for players who choose to play that way; just allow for more precise gameplay for us min-maxers.

More detailed gameplay is under the cut, if you want to know more about how the game works.

Continue reading

Category: Data Architecture, Free Beta Testers, games, Niantic, User eXperience | Comments Off on Fixing the Functionality Tree: Pokemon GO
September 23

Break Fast. Learn Things.

Maybe it’s my love of logic puzzles, the fun of breaking things, the fun of learning things, or all three that keep me interested in technology. Whether it’s answering all security questions with the answer “zerbert” (What is your father’s middle name? ZERBERT What is the name of your first childhood pet? ZERBERT) or seeing how my “unusual” name breaks a naming schema, I’ve found that trying to break things is a great way to test and learn things.

A smidge of mischeviousness also has me adding false data into “the system” when it doesn’t matter. I’ve got a dozen birthdays, a zillion ways to spell my name, and ad networks are always trying to sell me diapers, lizard food, and reverse mortgages (lately).

My brother recently shared the news that his neighborhood was serving as a testing ground for self-driving cars. First thought that sprang to mind? Cosplaying as stop signs. Didn’t hurt that I had one handy …

But given the recent needed changes to Tesla’s auto-pilot (ought-to-pilot?) … mayyyyyyyyybe this is one realm where I shouldn’t plant false data? Or maybe it’s even more important to teach these toddlers what fools us mortals be.

image of a woman pretending to be a stopsign
When you trick or treat in a neighborhood populated with self-driving cars …

Category: Data Architecture, Free Beta Testers, User eXperience | Comments Off on Break Fast. Learn Things.
May 5

Information Developer or Content Developer?

 

Paul Noth's Duck Gods vs Rabbit Gods war
“Okay folks, it’s purple vs green again ….”

Once upon a time, I was a technical writer. My friends were technical writers. My bosses were (usually) technical writers, or, had been, once upon a time.

I was pretty busy honing my trade, so I didn’t give much thought to what we wrote versus, say, what the Education folks wrote. Or the Marketing department put together. Those sell sheets came from somewhere, sure. We’d check for technical accuracy and contribute as SMEs for certification classes and exams, but other than that, our paths rarely crossed.

My boss at the time was quite adamant that Education and Technical Writing should be distinctly separate. I was new, I was learning the industry, and I took her word for it and filed the information away for later. I get it, now, but I didn’t then.

Later on, my colleagues at Citrix started calling us Tech Writers something else — Information Developers. There were many things going on then, so I didn’t give it much notice. After all, our employee records still said Technical Writer. I’ve recently noticed Citrix finally officially fixed that, and they’re all Information Developers now (yay!).

But over a decade on from those first discussions of the term Information Developer, I’m seeing movement towards calling Technical Writers by a new name … Content Developers.

The big BUT is … content isn’t always information and information isn’t always content. And this further on into my career, with exposure to much more than Read Mes and technical dictionaries, I can really see that.

I wonder if my colleagues heading down the Content Developer path aren’t headed in the wrong direction? Focusing less on the information aspect of writing?

From working with them, I know they aren’t actually working less with information. Many of them still wrangle direct, specific, technical information that users and administrators and software developers need. They aren’t focusing any less than Information Developers on architecting information properly, or organizing it in a way that makes sense for users. And we’re all doubling down on “touch once” and content management systems, and producing presentation-independent documentation.

But in branding with “Content Developer” rather than “Information Developer”, I think they’re treading on a fuzzier path. Maybe it’s my perception alone that “information” is something you use, and “content” is closer to entertainment and lighter on information. A more casual way of communicating.

And, from my recent reading, the term Content Developer is being used more and more heavily in marketing by copywriters to expand their explanations of what they do in an expanding environment of available work. So I’m not saying the term Content Developer is a bad thing, just that someone else got there first.

Maybe I’m just worried that Content Developer vs Information Developer devalues what Technical Writers do. Especially with the whole Epic lawsuit going on.

Maybe it’s just ducks vs rabbits … and there shouldn’t even be a ‘war’.

Category: Data Architecture, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Information Developer or Content Developer?