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?
April 11

“Fixing” my Nook library “problem” with hardware

Ooops! We have some kind of error!

I decided to buy the kids a few more books this month. But after going to the trouble of “archiving” all of the books that aren’t kid-friendly to put the kid-friendly ones on the Nook Simple Touch, I found another solution.


I simply nuked the Nook, removing it from my account. Then I hooked it back up, yanked the wireless service just after it re-registered, and left a library full of not-downloaded books on there.

Next, I navigated to my Nook library online, and started downloading what kid books I could to a memory card.

Last, I dropped the card into the Nook. Now the kids (when you sort by the Recent criteria) see the kid books put there for reading. They can see the titles of “my” books, but read what’s theirs. And it’s next to nothing to pop the card out, drop a book they want on to it, and pop it back in the device.

A bit of a kludge, but it works.

Now all I need to do is figure out why so many books have a “download” button when they can’t actually download via the browser, and why some have a link and others a button …

Meantime, any guesses what the error at the start of this entry is?

Category: Nook, User eXperience | Comments Off on “Fixing” my Nook library “problem” with hardware
April 6

I wonder why he fell for the loaded LinkedIn spoof email?

I’m sure I’ve clicked my fair share of LinkedIn links, but I don’t think I’ve done so recently.

In order to trick Bill into connecting to my exploit, I sent him an email with an embedded link. Cobalt Strike has a tool to copy an existing email (headers and all), which makes this basically turn-key. All you need to do is modify the links.  So what email does everyone always click?  What would work even against an infosec guy?  Linkedin invites.


The ‘real life connection’ for reset has been problematic for years. Of course, putting something like “cookie” as every answer doesn’t do much, either.

What city were you born in? Cookie.

What is your maternal grandmother’s maiden name? Cookie.

What was your high school mascot? Cookie.

Haven’t figured out a solution yet, but I have at least deployed a password manager that’s making lovely 1CL9DUenEgslS2AOJZ#mkW3PoGyQ7iYTXjH  passwords for me.

Category: phishin | Comments Off on I wonder why he fell for the loaded LinkedIn spoof email?
March 13

One reason I am so seldom online is I keep getting edged off

Pick a service, any service. Email. Social networking. Blogging. Chatting. Pictures. shopping.

I can not stay logged in.

Sure, I’m careful with cookies. I use blocking extensions. I am trapped in the iOS garden.

But I can’t stay logged in.

Am I tripping through a bunch of fake servers?

Category: Uncategorized | Comments Off on One reason I am so seldom online is I keep getting edged off