May 1

I heard there was a a secret code

To get your movie types to load
But Netflix says don’t play with it, my user
Just binge this baking competish,
Three episodes, a fourth, a fifth
Just let us tell you what to watch, dear user

Don’t use cheat codes, don’t use cheat codes
Don’t use cheat codes, don’t use che-eeaaat codes

So, apparently Netflix didn’t bother to lock users out of developer tools to find items by their category codes. Nice. Here’s a video and a link for more. I love it when users can get around the algos. https://fb.watch/rOwyytPfTj/

But it must not be that secret if Netflix is blogging about it … (top hit for me) https://duckduckgo.com/?q=secret+netflix+codes+2024&ia=web

Category: algo, Free Beta Testers, Netflix | Comments Off on I heard there was a a secret code
April 23

Netflix thinks I’ll love stuff white people love

I don’t actually rate things on Netflix much, so it’s building an algo of “things they have, that I watch, that I don’t already own on another platform”. I’m holey on purpose.

Today’s suggestion (and the first I’ve seen like this):

Not getting the white people hands … they think I’m white, and/or white people like this movie? Maybe I should start streaming a lot of Bollywood and see if they bothered to consider other profiles than default white tech bro.

Category: fix it already, Free Beta Testers, Netflix, User eXperience | Comments Off on Netflix thinks I’ll love stuff white people love
April 22

Eventually, the algo is going to figure out I don’t like Mark Ruffalo – but it’s still too dumb

If I have to pick my least favorite Avenger actor, it’d be him, though the other contenders in his role are hard to live up to (I was a Bill/Lou fan). But generally, if you want me to watch a movie, don’t put Ruffalo on the cover card.

I spend a lot of time thinking about algos and machine intelligence modeling (the pretty little thief machines that current “AI” represents) and thinking through how companies use them. It really puzzled me when Netflix nuked the five star Likert scale for a simple “thumbs up / thumbs down” system. Where would they get useful, measurable data? Maybe five stars were too noisy data wise. Maybe they preferred another way of figuring out what we wanted to watch.

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Category: Data Architecture, Free Beta Testers, Netflix | Comments Off on Eventually, the algo is going to figure out I don’t like Mark Ruffalo – but it’s still too dumb
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?
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
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
October 23

Confessions of a Convention Junkie

When I met my spouse a few years ago, we had a grand first date, geeking out about things we liked in common, planning our first nerdcation together soon after. Our destination: a technical conference (SIGGRAPH). Neither of us actually worked in the industry, but liked it enough to want to spend time learning more about all the cool math that went into making movies.

I sat in on a talk from WETA (the hoopy froods behind the Lord Of The Rings movies), bought a Mars rover shirt at the SGI booth, went to a Digital Domain party, and generally had a nerdy good time with the folks in charge of the green pixels.

I still go to conventions for fun and learning. 🙂 It’s as expensive as a semester of college (sometimes), but shorter and more fun – and it’s easier to sort out who is interested in what you’re interested in.

This month, I got a double whammy, working one convention, then dropping in on another for helping out with the first. The topic, to my surprise, was in my specialty cloud — Information Development and Process Analysis, and touched a bit on my recent work as a Product Developer. I’m sure the guy running the day would have been surprised I call it ID/PA/PD, but it’s neat to see how my skills transfer to the marketing industry.

Pro tip: Take a multi-port charger with you and you’ll make a ton of new friends … also a few safety pins, some extra socks, and plenty of business cards. I dusted off my freelance cards from 8 years ago and used them to make new friends… I designed them with plenty of room to write on so new friends would remember why we need to talk later.

Looking forward to nerding out as I strike out on my own, finding more conventions to talk about making things work for people better with fellow info geeks. 🙂

Category: Free Beta Testers, future | Comments Off on Confessions of a Convention Junkie