April 28

Next on my list, Apple … UNDO! UNDO!

The night after I wrote up the post about looping us nerdy geeks into customizing our Apple TV software and doing all kinds of beta testing for your UX team, I fell asleep to a movie. Not too unusual; my days have been long as we get more sun and a great movie can help me wind down after a particularly productive day.

The next time I opened Apple TV ….

It wanted to show me my movie again. Which can be cool. I’m the kinda nerdling that can watch the same movie a couple times in a row. But getting out of the movie screen was …

Annoying!

Many many clicks, many many things. I could enumerate the steps but it’d require me falling asleep to Interstellar tonight. And remembering to amend this post in the morning. No thanks.

How about this?

  1. Click to wake up the Apple TV.
  2. Long-click the menu (reverse last order) button to pop all the way out back to the home screen.

Or double-click. Or triple click! Or whatever else I customize and record.

Just like last time, it would make this user happy. And it would make the process designer in me ecstatic. All those Apple TVs out there, and one in what, fifty super user geeks like me making their own design decisions? I can imagine getting my hands on that kind of data as a UX person: How the super user geek uses the Apple TV to improve the design for all users.

Come on, Apple. Give us some code! Beta nerds, beta testers, rah, rah, rah!

 

*I know that a lot of the architecture is very response based — so a lot of my ideas may not even be implementable. I’d have to crack open an SDK (if there is one) to even see if there’s an appropriate call and response or way to queue up commands so they aren’t “lost” as the Apple TV box takes its time loading up the right screen via the internet ….

Category: Apple, Free Beta Testers, User eXperience | Comments Off on Next on my list, Apple … UNDO! UNDO!
April 25

The JawboneUP doesn’t wake me any more

I bought the original JawboneUP. And held onto it while they retooled it, and made it last until the second generation of sturdier stuff became available (trading back my old one).

Then came UP24. Neat! Bluetooth! Kind of annoying at times, but otherwise neat. Until it died.

I wasn’t going to buy another one; I went back to the second UP, waiting for UP2 and UP3.

I bought the UP3 and returned it immediately when I heard it wasn’t quite all baked. Not that I needed to know my heart rate, but still … why not wait until it was better?

And last month, I bought an UP2. I gave it a week, but ultimately returned it.

I do like that each generation is more sensitive to my sleep patterns (and I like to track my numbers and see if things I do improve it). But the UP2 doesn’t work for my heavy sleeping.

It’s too easy to turn off and fall right back asleep. What am I going to do when all the “old” UP hardware is too far gone and I don’t have the lovely “shake awake” feature that wakes me and not my bed partners anymore?

Category: hardware, User eXperience | Comments Off on The JawboneUP doesn’t wake me any more
April 22

Waze should have laughed at me.

The privacy-aware side of me was a bit freaked out the first time my phone decided to let me know that if I left for work right now I’d probably be on time.

Information my phone gives me
“Shouldn’t you be heading out soon?”

It knew, though it didn’t know why, that I tended to do a weird morning routine. Loop through the school parking lot at 7:10, drive to the grocery store at 7:15 and park, do a loop-de-loop around the school parking lot again at 8:10, before finally heading into work by 9:00. Fuh-reak-y.

But carrying around a cell phone is a walking, talking, data-collecting elephant to begin with. What’s a little more data? That useful part of it makes the data and usability nerd in me happy.

Hyper-Realtime Traffic Info

I got to thinking about the head to head race I had this Easter Sunday. I was thinking about it as I was running errands at lunch, my usual use of that hour. Did I have time, I asked Waze, to skedaddle west eight miles and south ten miles to pick up paperwork from a medical office?

Waze assured me in it’s non-judgemental way that I’d be held up by rail crossing closures and heavy lunch time traffic. And, oh yeah, a huge festival (one of what, 50 this year?) that had a major arterial road blocked off for at least half a mile. I might make it ….

What it didn’t tell me, but I remembered in time, is that the office closes every day for lunch. I put that errand off for another day.

But what if Waze was hooked into NAP data, too?

I gave Waze the address of the place I wanted to go by sending it information I dug by hand from my contacts list. But what if I were able to send that info automatically? And put hours into my contact information for someone? Say, that the office opens at 9am and closes from 12:30 to 1:45 for lunch? We could Waze could read that, too, and then laugh at me tell me I was attempting a fool’s errand.

Or even better; if Waze was hooked into Google’s NAP data, with open and shut times? I wonder if it even supports “siesta” times? It’d be darn helpful if it did.

Category: Apple, Data Architecture, Google, User eXperience | Comments Off on Waze should have laughed at me.
April 19

Organic Bouquet, why can’t I quit you?

This email was sent by: Organic Bouquet
555 Winderley Place Suite 129 Maitland, FL, 32751, USA

You were sent this message because you previously expressed interest in Organic Bouquet or Organic Style. If you no longer wish to receive our e-mail advertisements, simply unsubscribe.

Please do not reply to this e-mail as we are not able to respond to messages sent to this address. For further questions, please email customerservice@organicbouquet.com.

I’ve got about 300 emails not yet deleted, dating back to 2011. Every few months I click “unsubscribe” and it tells me I’ve unsubscribed and how sorry they are to see me go.

And then a few days later, I get another email ….

I’ve called. I’ve emailed. I’ve clicked to unsubscribe.

Organic Bouquet, why can’t I quit you?

Image of a long list of emails from Organic Bouquet.
National Smoke & Mirrors day, you say?
April 15

What’s in a name? A Bluetooth by any other name would be so much sweeter.

I like having lots of Bluetooth devices. When I bought my Prius ten years ago, I figured I’d never need Bluetooth phone connection, so I didn’t upgrade to that package. Big mistake. Now Bluetooth rules my life and my devices.

Image of iPhone Bluetooth options screen.
Even my backups have backups.

As you can see by the screenshot, I have BlueDotSound speakers. They’re pretty neat; they allow me to be LazyMom and wake the kids remotely. Click to connect to BDS, start streaming roosters and cool music to wake them up. Stream fog horns and The Itsy Bitsy Spider when they are moving too slow.

The P311s are pretty nice, too. Cute headphones (though I’ve worn the fake leather off of the ears). But I can’t tell which pair is the green and which pair is the black. Clicking to pick one on this screen is a crapshoot. Often times I’ll just delete them both, and go through pairing just to pick the “right” one.

I only have one BDS “discovered” at the moment. One is upstairs in the hall, and one is in one kid’s room. Keeping it “undiscovered” is a handy way to pick the right one every time at dark o’clock.

I’d rather, Apple, ahem, be able to name them.  But heck. My phone has a camera! What if you let me take pictures of the speakers, or something? Then I have a little teeny image to know which device to pick! If you don’t want to go that hog-wild, at least give us some image options that we can click to change …

Image of iPhone Bluetooth options screen with added icons.
Now I can tell the twins apart.
Category: Apple, Data Architecture, Free Beta Testers | Comments Off on What’s in a name? A Bluetooth by any other name would be so much sweeter.
April 12

20-20-24 hours a day … I wanna be in beta …

I suppose the UX folks finally were allowed to fix the “I own every episode” problem on the new Apple TV. Scrolling through eight or nine seasons of a show to find the newest episode was driving me insane.

I’d scratched together a post about it, then they went and dadgum fixed it. Yay, Apple!

But there are a few other things they can fix.

For example, take advantage of the touch technology on the remote and in the software:

  • Long clicks. It’s part of the newer iPhones, and the Apple TV remote.
  • Customizable actions.
  • Recordable actions.

Put them all together and you can fix something that annoys me … play movies without six zillion clicks.

  1. Click to select movies. Fine.
  2. Drag to move over to Purchased movies. Fine.
  3. Click to get to the point to look at the movies you own. FINE.
  4. Drag and click to select a movie to watch. Fine.
  5. Get shown the  splash screen of the movie. Play is highlighted.
  6. Click Play.
  7. THE MOVIE DOESN’T PLAY. You usually get taken to an ‘extras” interactive screen where you can click Play, or start thumbing through extras.
  8. Click Play.
  9. Half the time we are asked if we want to pick up the movie where we left off instead of actually playing the movie. Another Click.

Things are no longer fine.

How about this?

  1. Click to select movies.
  2. Drag to get over to Purchased movies.
  3. Click to get to the point you look at movies you own.
  4. Drag and long-click to select the move you want to watch and start playing it from the beginning.

Four steps instead of seven to nine. If I want to watch extras, I could double-click to get to the “extras” interactive screen. Or to play the movie where we left off. Or whatever else I customize and record. Or triple click to switch back to the Apple TV homescreen.

It would make this user happy. And it would make the process designer in me ecstatic. All those Apple TVs out there, and one in what, fifty super user geeks like me making their own design decisions? I can imagine getting my hands on that kind of data: How the super user geek uses the Apple TV to improve the design for all users.

Come on, Apple. Give us some code!

Category: Apple, Data Architecture, Free Beta Testers, User eXperience | Comments Off on 20-20-24 hours a day … I wanna be in beta …
April 10

We can be a bit … competitive around here

I’m a little bit of a usability and data architecture nerd. I hate it when an interface doesn’t work well, or there’s information stuck some place that can’t get some place else. When it all comes together, it’s a joy.

But that interest is secondary to my ingrained competitive spirit.

Anything you can do, I can do better …

Picture a quiet Easter Sunday afternoon. I’m in the car with a friend and we’ve got our near-matching iPhones at the ready. The goal? Find out what stores are open that carry the perfect water shoes for knee-deep island landings. The real goal? Beat the other guy at finding out what stores are open.

One of us used an Apple app, the other a Google app. Both of us got the same basic information … Name of the store, distance, time to drive, address, website, phone number, hours …

But the Google app’r had superior NAP data. This is something Google very very recently expanded, and is very very useful. While the Apple app’r was still making phone calls, the Google app’r was ready to go, armed with some pretty awesome local and holiday-specific info.

I’m glad this is something businesses can use, and big national businesses are using well (or poorly) …

It saved the Google app’r a lot of dialing to businesses that were not open, driving to businesses that were not open, and aggravation. We went straight to the store we wanted — and yes, dear reader, we did find the perfect water shoes.

Note: All images are simulated because we were too busy squaring off forgot to take screenshots right then.

image of map and data shots from navigation apps
When two apps want to share data very very much …
Category: Apple, Data Architecture, Google, User eXperience | Comments Off on We can be a bit … competitive around here
April 7

Infinite Customization is Infinite

One problem I’ve run into over the years is the fact that are six thousand ways to do things. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it sucks. Lately it’s been LinkedIn driving me crazy. So many ways to like and unlike things.

Which is fine, if you aren’t trying to do drive-by social media engagement. Click to “like” something you shouldn’t and you may need to scramble to figure out how to fix it.

Today I found another one. There’s a lot of suggestions out there to never ever use the “generic” LinkedIn message to make a connection, but I blew it.

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

And what did I do? I accidentally sent two colleagues the generic LinkedIn request … because I used LinkedIn’s app instead of their website.

If I had one teeny little request for the LinkedIn UX team, it would be to add in the ability to change that generic message on the app … or at least stop the request from going out until you can get to a real browser.

Category: User eXperience | Comments Off on Infinite Customization is Infinite
February 11

I’ve got too much going on in my browser window.

Right now, I’ve got fourteen tabs open. In this Chrome window. I’ve got two others open because I’m trying to teach myself to plan project using Trello, and copying things from one board to the other.

My cell phone is worse. When I last “closed out my browser” I got myself from ninety open tabs down to ten. I’m back up to about thirty.

I know I’m not the only one; friends with similar thinking styles do the same thing. The earth-shattering moans you hear from time to time are us inadvertently not clicking “restore” after a Chrome crash. (Not sure if other browsers have similar functionality.)

There are “apps” to presumably take care of saving things to read later and presenting them to me. I’ve yet to find one that works for all the sites I browse, or is easy enough to use on the phone or computer (preferably both). So I end up emailing myself my tabs. Crude. Slow.

Then I thought … why not a bulk emailer? A simple click. “Email me all my open tabs at designated email address.” A plug in for Chrome (or built in to the phone browser). Click, done. Like a daily brain summary.

Another reason I should learn to code, I guess. EdgeCase Industries, ladies and gentlemen! Curated apps for everyone!

Category: User eXperience | Comments Off on I’ve got too much going on in my browser window.
February 9

I’ve written 3-4 books a year for most of my adult life. Now what?

It’s funny. I got into technical writing before I even knew what it was because I seemed to have some, as I mentioned in countless interviews, ability to “speak” both “geek” and “user”. I could sit down with some software, throw a few questions at developers, then drop straight in to testing everything to figure out how else it worked and how our users would use it.

All that allowed me to get to know the software or process deeply enough to turn out a kick ass user guide, a comprehensive help system, or an admin or developer’s guide. Then the market went kablooie and I got my first corporate layoff notice.

I flitted around with contract work, then took a job doing computer and sales support, and finally the market picked back up for tech writers again. Annnnnd then I got laid off again.

So, I guess I’m not a tech writer any more. Now I’m on the other side, working as a product manager, connecting with users and management and product creators to make the magic happen. It should be a hell of a ride.

Category: site stuff | Comments Off on I’ve written 3-4 books a year for most of my adult life. Now what?