Why it takes as long as it takes

Today at work I had one of those lengthy, impassioned discussions with the senior leadership of my company – the sort of discussion that makes me love working at a startup. We talked about our wishes for the product and our worries about where it is now, and we ended up with a list of urgent stuff that I suggested would take about ten months to accomplish. “Really?” asked the CEO. “I thought some of […] Read More

On Interviews and Evangelizing User Experience

I received a rejection email the other day from a man who had interviewed me for a job. I haven’t been rejected many times in my interview history, and I don’t think I’ve ever received a rejection email. So I find myself reflecting on it. I’m not sure if any further action on my part is expected, required, appropriate. Do I thank him for considering me? It was a strange interview. A phone call. I […] Read More

The Internet Bubble

Don’t misunderstand. I believe in the Internet. It’s deeply embedded in my life. It makes so many things so much easier than they used to be. It’s the source of my paychecks. But the Internet is a bubble. Still. Most of the people I deal with on a daily basis would laugh at that thought, but hear me out. The Internet is a bubble in three ways: 1. A lot of people don’t use the […] Read More

Rdio, Spotify and the Paradox of Choice

Spotify has arrived in the US! Twitter was all abuzz when the announcement came, and lots of my friends jumped on board as soon as they could scrounge up invites. I was excited to sign up too, but then I procrastinated. And then procrastinated some more. For one thing, I have a pretty big collection of music I’ve purchased over the years, and when you consider that, say, 500 years ago, many people on the […] Read More

Bad News? The Future of NPR and the New York Times

There have been a couple of interesting developments in news media in recent weeks. The first development is the mostly symbolic vote by the House of Representatives to “defund” NPR. I’m a big fan of NPR, but I’m divided on this. I can’t say philosophically that I believe the government should be in the news and media business. On the other hand, I think the healthiest news media is one that’s not-for-profit and publicly-funded. In […] Read More

Game Changers: Dyson

James Dyson was not happy with his vacuum cleaner. It wasn’t powerful enough, and he determined that the problem was the bag. The bag’s purpose was to catch the dirt, but as it filled up, it quickly compromised the suction. So he set out to create a bagless vacuum cleaner, and through much trial and error (5,271 prototypes according to some sources), James Dyson came up with something he called “dual cyclone” technology. His design […] Read More

How One Security Expert Kicked The Hornet’s Nest that is Anonymous

As promised. The second article I alluded to in my last post is really a series of articles ars technica ran last month. It’s an absolutely riveting tale of how the CEO of a well-known Internet security firm stirred the wrath of a loose collective of hackers known as “Anonymous” and paid a heavy price. Anonymous has been around for a while, but if you’re unfamiliar with them (it?), they’re not easy to define. The […] Read More

Game Changers: Apple

This is intended to be the first of seven (possibly more) posts on game-changing business ideas. It’s often difficult to recognize when something changes the game. A few months or years down the road, you can usually trace a trail of copycats and wannabes back to the original idea, but even then, sometimes it’s not immediately apparent how something changed the game, or which aspect of the thing was responsible. Other game changers are instantly […] Read More

Gawande on Healthcare’s Super-Utilizers

In my last post I attempted to list the things I found especially resonant last year in media, entertainment, art and journalism. I say “attempted” because I didn’t keep track of this stuff very well during 2010. In lieu of keeping track, I retroactively scoured my bookmarks in places like delicious, Instapaper and Evernote, and as a result I probably favored things I consumed toward the end of the year and forgot things I encountered […] Read More

Instapaper and Readability restore the pleasure of online reading

It would probably be better not to say anything. Advertisers won’t like it, and publishers who depend on ad revenue will like it even less. If this sort of thing catches on, there are only two possible endings, and they’re both bad. I’m talking about two services that rescue online content from the twisted carnival of banner ads and assorted noise, and restore the pleasure of reading on the web. I’m talking about Instapaper and […] Read More

My Best of 2010 (Things Read, Viewed, Heard…)

Better late than never, a list of things I enjoyed in 2010. In the interest of time and space, these are just the things that really stood out (in a good way), with little commentary… Books I read a number of books this year, but these are the few that especially moved me… Fiction Let The Great World Spin (Collum McCann) – Especially the virtuosic passage in the middle, wherein the highwire artist trains for […] Read More

On Happy Meals and the Nanny State

The latest highly-publicized, hotly-ridiculed move by my adopted city of San Francisco was to ban the Happy Meal. And so once again we have lobbed a softball to conservatives and libertarians across the nation, who relish any opportunity to point west and say, “See? See the nanny state? See those people who are too dumb, or too lazy, to [in this case] decide for themselves what their kids should and shouldn’t eat?” My libertarian-leaning friends […] Read More

The 3 Cs of Mobile Engagement

Two years after Pinch Media released their iTunes App Store Secrets report, I still see this iconic curve on a regular basis: It doesn’t matter whether it’s a game or a productivity app, free or paid, the typical mobile app is dumped like a cheerleader after prom night. Most are all but abandoned within a month or two, which means they’re either ill-conceived, poorly designed, or both. It’s especially sad when you consider how hard […] Read More

Have You Ever Killed a Person With Your Car?

The ongoing BP / Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is a sickening object lesson in the evils of oil. Of course it’s just the latest in an ugly line of spills that have occurred over the years. BP itself has a long track record of safety and environmental violations. I still have vivid tv memories of sludge-coated birds and other wildlife affected by the Exxon Valdez. The impact of oil accidents on nature and wildlife has been […] Read More

Three Financial Industry Reforms We Should Demand

The House recently passed a major financial reform bill, and the Senate will vote on it as soon as there’s enough Republican support to push it through. By most accounts, the Republicans are mostly on board, which is probably why we’re not hearing a whole lot about it from the media. There’s not enough conflict and hysteria to make it television fodder. 18 months ago we were told we were teetering at a precipice. We […] Read More

Losing My Religion

I was a good Bryn Athyn boy once. Many people reading this will have no idea what that means, but briefly, Bryn Athyn is a suburb of Philadelphia. It is (or was – I haven’t lived there in decades) very much a bubble, a pleasant Christian community centered around a church that is officially called The New Church but more colloquially the Swedenborgian Church. Many families in Bryn Athyn have lived there for generations. I […] Read More

Our Missed Opportunity

Things are ugly right now. After the healthcare bill passed, we all heard how a few so-called tea baggers hurled racial slurs and other insults at Democratic lawmakers, broke windows of party offices and engaged in other such foolery. Yesterday, I saw Mitt Romney’s new book on display in Borders. It’s called “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness” – an obvious swipe at Obama liberals for acting as if the United States is something […] Read More

Two Futures

I feel like the media constantly bombards us with two completely opposite visions of the future: In future #1 I can talk to my home appliances and have virtual sex with supermodels while my hydrogen-powered biodegradable car drives me to work. In future #2 I’m learning to make fire and trying to defend my survival garden against roving bands of marauders. I don’t know which one we’re headed for, but I’m stockpiling canned food.

Coming Soon to Google Street View: The Inside of Your House

Today I walked down to Cafe Dolci to grab a banh mi (I always order  a combo of grilled pork and paté incidentally), and there was a guy inside the place taking pictures. Cafe Dolci is busy at lunchtime and only has room inside for one person, so while the photographer and his tripod monopolized the place for a few minutes, a gathering throng of customers milled around outside. At one point, one of them […] Read More

The End of Imagination

“[The writer] does not need to invent the fiction because it is already there.” – J.G. Ballard I’ve been on a kind of media fast since around Christmas of last year. It started accidentally; I was so busy with holiday madness and projects at work that I didn’t check in to Twitter or Facebook for about a week. Nor did I watch the Daily Show, listen to NPR, peruse my staple of blogs. I didn’t […] Read More

Useragent’s Rules for Meetings

Meetings without a specific agenda are evil. A vague agenda isn’t good enough. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. Know exactly what you want to accomplish, and know exactly who needs to be there and why. Exception: if you haven’t had a 1:1 conversation with your boss or a particular underling in weeks, then you should set aside 30 minutes to do so. Agenda or not. Standing Meetings are evil. Are you meeting every day or […] Read More

Essentials of My Digital Life

A while back I wrote a post called my favorite web services, and I thought I would revisit it in the spirit of end-of-the-year (or decade I suppose) lists. However, the notion of “web” services has gotten blurrier and blurrier, so this time I decided to make this list more generally about my digital life and the various tools I use. New since the last round… Evernote: I once called this the best free application there […] Read More

YouTube Favorite of the Week

I have an idea. Every Friday I’ll post a video from my YouTube “Favorites.” It won’t necessarily be new, or timely, or funny, or profound. But I’ll do my best not to totally waste your time. So, without further ado, did you know that George Lucas approached David Lynch about directing Return of the Jedi? This video is making the rounds today, unsurprisingly…

Visualizing Various Mobile Screen Sizes

One of the things that stood out for me amongst all the hype around the Motorola Droid before the device hit the market was the screen resolution: a whopping 480 x 854 pixels. At first I thought it was a misprint. Once I verified the specs, I started making my design templates for the Droid in Omnigraffle, and I ended up spending a lot of time tweaking the scale of my document to get the […] Read More

Nokia: Software Update Fail

What the hell is wrong with Nokia? It’s as if they got together as a company, identified all they ways their software could suck, and then aimed for the bottom. I’ve been using some of the latest Nokia handsets at work for a few weeks now. The N97, for example, is awesome on paper. Big, high-resolution touch-screen display. Decent amount of memory, power, battery life. 5 megapixel camera – with a flash even. In person, […] Read More

Why I don’t Kindle

So I don’t have a Kindle, and I don’t want one. For some reason I’m predisposed to dislike it. When I try to articulate my reasons, though, they feel as irrational as any other prejudice, so I won’t embarrass myself by trying to share them. The Kindle has virtues for sure. It seems like a great way to take a lot of books on vacation. It saves paper and therefore trees. On net, it’s a […] Read More

Snow Leopard Price Comes with an Asterisk

I updated one of my two Macbook Pros to Snow Leopard yesterday, and although the official price tag for the new OS is only $29, the real cost is a bit higher. For one thing, I was running older versions of a couple of apps – specifically FontExplorer and Parallels – that are not compatible with Snow Leopard. There’s also an opportunity cost, since the install itself took about an hour, and then I had […] Read More

America: The Game

Americans, it’s well known, aren’t interested in soccer. Americans prefer the other football. We don’t like hockey either, which isn’t surprising, since it’s a lot like soccer played on skates. It’s hard to find definitive rankings of U.S. sports by popularity, but every source I’ve found lists the top three as: Football Baseball Basketball Hockey is always fourth or fifth, or even lower, and soccer barely makes the list. UFC, NASCAR and WWE (which isn’t […] Read More

Dear Conservative Friend

Yes old friend, I’m talking to you. You with the high-paying office job, the fine house in the suburbs, the lovely wife and the precocious daughter who’s just about to start first grade at a fancy private school – a fancy private school incidentally that has not ceased to exist despite the fact that free public education exists too (some of it very good even). But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have come into […] Read More

What the F**k is an iPhone?

Whenever the conversation turns to Apple, there erupts a certain amount of troll vs. fanboy squabbling. Usually there are a few would-be referees in the mix too, telling everyone to shut up because the topic is worn out, or pointless, or both. And so it has been lately with the iPhone App Store saga. Nonetheless, I’m going to give the dead horse one more kick in the ribs. In my last post, I linked out […] Read More

Why Android Will Win the Mobile App Wars

What if the company that made your computer forced you to use only their web browser and email application? (Remember, Microsoft was prosecuted for less than this). What if that company could dictate what software – of any type – other companies were allowed to make for your computer, what you were allowed to install and where you could buy it? What if these restrictions were only vaguely defined, then enforced in a totally ad-hoc […] Read More

Elimination Dance: Sarah Palin

If Sarah Palin falls in the forest and the media ignores her, does it make a sound? I shouldn’t have to wish for Sarah Palin to go away. After all, what is Sarah Palin but the losing candidate for vice-president in an election that happened 10 months ago, and the former governor of a state most of us never think about (sorry Alaska)? If the winner of the vice presidency is awarded with “the most […] Read More

Elimination Dance: Small-Government Fanatics

It’s been a while since I posted here, and I’m introducing a new category: Elimination Dance. Instructions: An elimination dance begins with a crowded dance floor.  At a signal, the band stops playing and the announcer reads an elimination, say, “Any lover who has gone into a flower shop on Valentine’s Day and asked for clitoris when he meant clematis.” Any dancer answering this description must sit down, and his partner is also disqualified. The […] Read More

How to Hire an Interactive Agency

I’ve spent much of my career working at well-regarded agencies – large and small, and I’ve worked with my share of brilliant people at each of them. At the same time, I’ve seen and worked on very few client engagements that I’d really consider successful. Even when the end result was satisfactory to everyone involved, it invariably came via a lot of bumps and birthing pains. It was amazing how often we’d pitch a project […] Read More

twitter for curmudgeons and noobs

After holding out for a couple of years, I’ve become a full-on twitter convert. I wasn’t avoiding twitter on principle or anything. I just couldn’t understand why twitter was remotely interesting to anyone, or what it could possibly add to my life. Now that I’ve been on board for little while, I don’t get hung up on questions about twitter’s mainstream-ness, cultural significance or cognitive side effects. I’m simply exploring, and adopting the bits I […] Read More

Green shopping, the Costco way

I have a somewhat irrational affection for Costco. The selection is good, the prices are low. They have a generous return policy (my friend just returned a printer he bought there four years ago and exchanged it for a new one). The folks who work at the one in San Francisco always seem to be enjoying themselves. But many of my green-minded friends see Costco as a perfect embodiment of modern-day consumer culture and all […] Read More

Why we love Mad Men

I just finished watching the second season of Mad Men, and I’m left with a familiar bittersweet feeling. The same one you get when you finish a great book. I don’t often get this feeling from a TV show, so I’ve begun to reflect a little on what it is that makes the show so good. One thing, of course, is the place and time. 1960 in America Setting a show in 1960 was a […] Read More

March Madness for data junkies

[Disclaimer: The following post is partly a reprise of one I wrote last year] March Madness is almost here, and my workplace productivity is bound to suffer a little (don’t worry Kyte crew — I promise I’ll get all my stuff done). Selection Sunday is this weekend, and then it’s all about bracketology. I always look around the Internetz for a little help, and there’s no shortage of resources out there. There are roughly three […] Read More

Let the newspapers die

There’s no shortage of ideas for how the newspaper industry might save itself – by adopting new business models, distribution strategies, etc. The other day, my friend Ben suggested a new twist on subscriptions that would work something like cable television. Others hint that newspapers should push for mass adoption of the Kindle. Still others believe it might make sense to run newspapers as charitable trusts, and organize periodic pledge drives – like NPR. In […] Read More

5 things Yelp should do to avoid future lawsuits

My last post, “How to win at Yelp: a guide for businesses” was inspired by the recent controversies surrounding Yelp, and the gist of the post is just what it sounds like. However, I think there are some things Yelp can – and should – do to address allegations of fraud and extortion (beyond a predictable blog post by the CEO). So here’s my advice for Yelp… #1. Reveal the “secret algorithms” that determine the order […] Read More

How to win at Yelp: a guide for businesses

Last week, the East Bay Express published a lengthy story accusing Yelp of extortion. Among other things, the article charges Yelp of offering to take down negative reviews of businesses who agree to become “sponsors” and pay for advertising on the site. It’s not the first time Yelp has been the focus of controversy. Last month, a Bay Area chiropractor sued a Yelper for defamation after the user posted a negative review of his business. […] Read More

Scout Labs launches its social media and brand monitoring solution

From ClickZ: More than two years after its founding, San Francisco startup Scout Labs has unveiled its first software suite, an assortment of Web monitoring tools that allows marketers to monitor chatter about their brands across social and consumer-generated media. The first phrase of the article says a lot. The launch of Scout Labs was a long time coming, and I was there at the very beginning. When my friend Jenny called me more than […] Read More

Travel Channel uses Kyte to power “No Reservations” Facebook app

Kyte’s super-simple content production features are perfect for engaging fans of a show like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, so it’s cool to see how the Travel Channel used the Kyte platform to power their new “No Reservations: Hungry for More” Facebook app. Foodies are passionate people, and Bourdain has a way of provoking them, which should bode well for this UGC campaign. The Hungry for More application allows people to share their favorite food, travel […] Read More

Are iPhone apps the new CD-ROMs?

Remember CD-ROMs? Remember how cool they were and how for a brief moment in the early 90s it seemed every possible thing was being CD-ROMified – from children’s books to topo maps to baseball cards? CD-ROMs were briefly so cool that people would pay $200 a pop for the latest and greatest titles. Then they became so ubiquitous that you’d get them as giveaways and even in your junk mail. Then after just a few […] Read More

The other opportunists

There are a lot of people lining up for stimulus dollars, a lot of ambitious and long-dormant projects being dusted off by governors and mayors across the country. But there’s another group of opportunists taking advantage of the debate. I’m talking about the G.O.P. who are stonewalling and stalling in the name of prudent spending. At least that’s what they’d like us to think. They’re going through the proposed bill line by line and collectively […] Read More


Well, the Eagles lost the NFC championship game… again. This is what Philadelphia teams do. Instead of outright sucking like you can always count on, say, Detroit doing, the Philly teams like to take their fans to the absolute brink of triumph before they break your heart. I was a little bummed when the Eagles lost to the Cardinals last weekend, but at least they beat the Giants, and therefore I will always have this…

What’s the big deal about Obama?

As I wandered through the crowded mall in Washington D.C. on Inauguration Day, chatting with people and overhearing many other conversations, a theme emerged. Or rather, two themes. Folks of older generations as well as the African-Americans on the scene seemed to see the day in largely symbolic terms. Obama is our first black president, sworn in the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Obama represents a significant step toward realizing Dr. King’s […] Read More

The Web is a tough place to do business

The economy is in rough shape these days. Nobody’s job seems secure, and no industry is safe, but the Web is an especially hard place to make a living. Startups are scrambling with greater urgency than ever to find the cash to keep going – either in the form of investment (despite the fact that VC investing is way down) or through business models that could actually sustain them. Twitter might be exploring both – […] Read More

Why does YouTube bother with ratings?

I’ve worked on a few online video sites in my career, and on every one of those projects we confronted the question of whether to have ratings. In this web 2.0 world, the answer seems obvious on the surface: Of course, you have to let your users rate the videos! Kyte, for example, added ratings to their platform right before I joined the company. But let’s take a step back and think about why we […] Read More

I’ve been Kyted

I mentioned in an earlier post that for the past few months I’ve been working with Kyte. That’s their widget above. My lineup of shows so far is pretty weak, but the thing I really want to talk about is the product. It’s pretty powerful, and feature-packed. Users can produce and broadcast shows instantly (even broadcast live) from a webcam or supported mobile phones (right now, Nokia’s S60 handsets are our flagship devices), or they […] Read More

The economy’s willing executioners

Who killed the economy? Hint: call your lawyer. The witch hunt to expose the people responsible for the current financial crisis has been underway for several months, and there is no shortage of suspects. This week, however, I read a couple of articles that together lay out the best case so far. Why Wall Street Always Blows It by Henry Blodget in the current Atlantic Monthly puts the reader in the shoes of someone sitting […] Read More

Sign o’ the times

I received my weekly BayCHI job bank email today, which has always contained at least twenty or thirty postings.  Today, however, it was so thin that I mistook the email for some other kind of announcement, and I scrolled right past the one(!) job posting it contained: Senior User Experience Designer at H&R Block – Cambridge, MA One job posting in the BayCHI job bank, and it’s not even a Bay Area job. Despite the […] Read More

IE vs. CSS

I’ve been doing battle with the CSS on this blog recently, and I’d gotten it to an acceptable (if not optimal) place in Safari and Firefox for Mac. My friend, however, just let me know that this blog was completely unreadable in IE on Windows. My apologies to all Windows/IE users who have visited my blog over the last couple of weeks. I fired up Parallels to see things through Windows for the first time […] Read More

Branding and visual design in iPhone apps

The purpose of the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines (requires login) is to help developers create well-designed experiences for the iPhone that also measure up to Apple’s reputation and high standards. The guidelines drive toward a consistency, and to this end they encourage developers to take advantage of a sizeable library of existing components. Somewhat understandably, they don’t say much about branding… beyond this warning: Branding is most effective when it is subtle and understated. People […] Read More

twitter is a game

On many occasions and even in a recent post, I’ve said that I just don’t get twitter. I was certain I didn’t want to tune in to the minutiae of my friends’ lives, and I was not interested in sharing mine. A few short weeks later, I’ve totally changed my tune, and I can say that twitter is now one of my favorite games. Yes, that’s what I said. I like the strange blend of […] Read More

5 dumb iPhone app genres

Raven Zachary posted recently about Apple’s new criteria for application acceptance, where he noted that there are now more fart apps than sudoku apps for iPhone. These appeared in the app store only after some conflict and controversy, with Apple initially refusing this genre due to “limited utility.” Apple ultimately loosened its standards, however, and lo! your iPhone can now pass gas. I agree with Raven’s contention that “limited utility” is not really a good […] Read More

Maybe we need a downturn

The other day on my bus into downtown SF, a down-and-out looking guy stepped on and asked if anyone could give him the dollar he was short on bus fare. Amazingly, five or six people stepped up to oblige, and it got me thinking about the economy. I’ve seen people ask for money on the bus before, but I’ve never seen five people leap to lend a hand. Hard times can create a kind of […] Read More

Bush branding: 11 labels we’d like to forget

Yesterday, NPR’s On The Media aired an interesting segment about Bush and language. It wasn’t another jab at his butchering of English; it was a look at his administration’s creative branding of its policies, programs and  initiatives: Gladstone’s guest, “Republican wordsmith” Frank Luntz, doesn’t anticipate that much of Bush’s lexicon will stick, but he seems to be referring to Bush’s oratory, rather than the Administration’s knack for naming. Regretfully, I think we’ll have to live […] Read More

A Facebook Holiday

The somewhat agonizing ritual of sending holiday cards has been my way of keeping long-time and distant friends up-to-date on my life, and each year I feel a twinge of regret that a whole year has gone by without any other communication with many (most, really) of them. Enter Facebook. Facebook hasn’t replaced my holiday card ritual by any stretch, but it’s changed the dynamic. Disrupted it. A number of people on my holiday card […] Read More

Social Media: Lists, Predictions and Lists of Predictions

The end of 2008 is upon us, and that means pundits of all stripes are busy trying to boil it all down. I’ve been reading the lists of social media predictions from the likes of Charlene Li and those compiled by Peter Kim (nothing from Jeremiah Owyang yet). Some thoughts: I’m dubious about Li’s contention that defriending will become the hot new trend, driven by a desire for quality over quantity. There’s a lot of […] Read More

Huffington vs. Stewart backstage – on blogging and web TV

For the last couple of months, I’ve been working for Kyte (more on that in a future post), and yesterday we got a nice shout out from backstage at the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, highlighting Kyte’s mobile streaming capabilities. Ever the evangelist, Arianna was pressing Jon Stewart on the question of blogging – specifically, why doesn’t Stewart blog? His knee-jerk answer was that he has a television show – one that airs daily – […] Read More

No longer (Yelp) cool

Just a year ago, two of my most powerful Internet addictions were Yahoo Fantasy Sports and Yelp. Now, I hardly think about either one. Yelp made me ‘Elite‘ in 2007, which was a nice surprise. By the end of that year, however, my review pace had really tapered off, so I was even more surprised they made me Elite again in ’08. I’m almost certain it won’t happen again this time around. I don’t think […] Read More

2 ways to monitor buzz with Yahoo! Pipes

In my last post, I mentioned that you can use Yahoo Pipes as a buzz-watching tool. Today I made three short videos to illustrate how it’s done. As the title of this post suggests though (and as I also discussed in my last post), there are two different strategies for monitoring buzz: searching and curating. To recap, searching is just what it sounds like. In the context of buzz monitoring, it means scanning sources known […] Read More

Watching Buzz on the Web

Social media analytics and measurement has rapidly emerged as a market over the last few years, and there are a lot of companies trying to carve out a niche (including my former employer, Scout Labs). It’s a huge problem space –  a composite of many problem spaces really – but they all begin with the need to find relevant conversations (blog posts, consumer reviews, tweets, videos…) happening out on the web. Before you can do […] Read More

Evernote: The Best Free iPhone App

I could almost go so far as to say that Evernote is the best free app period, iPhone or otherwise. In Evernote’s case, it’s iPhone app and otherwise, seeing as it also works via a desktop app (both Windows and Mac OS), Firefox add-on, regular web, mobile web and email. Evernote has many fans, many vocal fans, so I suppose I’m just joining the choir, but it’s a choir worth joining. At the same time, […] Read More

YouTube, Yahoo: iPhone Parasites

Like a party guest who insists on staying long after the alcohol is gone, the music is done, and I’ve dozed off on my couch… YouTube, Weather and Stocks should go away from my iPhone if I say so. But of course, I can’t get rid of them. Since the launch of the App Store, there’s really no reason for these to live among the “native” iPhone apps like iPod or Safari. There are many […] Read More

Back on the grid

Two weeks in New Zealand and only one blog post? And kind of a terrible one at that. Several points in my defense (defence, in Kiwi)… I didn’t bring my laptop, and even if I had, free WiFi in New Zealand was as rare as hen’s teeth. Three of the four hotels I stayed in during the trip had computer terminals for guest use, but the first (Westin, Auckland) had just one – with a […] Read More

Auckland so far

One problem with living in a city like San Francisco is that it’s hard for other small cities to compete. For its size, San Francisco has an amazing number of great restaurants spanning every cuisine you can name. It’s a city of gorgeous views made more so by the constantly-changing weather. For this reason, I love to go to big cities – New York, L.A., London, Paris, Bangkok, Shanghai (and hopefully someday Tokyo, Hong Kong, […] Read More

flirting with twitter

No, I don’t mean I’ve been flirting via twitter. It took me a long time to sign up for twitter. I just didn’t get it. I didn’t understand what it would add to my life. I’m not interested in knowing the moment-by-moment minutiae of my friends’ lives, and I’m not interested in sharing mine. It already takes too much effort to sift through the daily noise, and I don’t need to invite more. Avoiding twitter […] Read More

Pelosi: Too Conservative?

When the folks in “real America” want to make a point of distinguishing themselves from the rest of us, they often spit words like French, European, elite, socialist and of course San Francisco and Nancy Pelosi. SNL captured this sentiment pretty well: Now, I live in San Francisco and Nancy Pelosi is my representative, and while I think the right’s characterizations of her are simplistic, exaggerated and unfair, I was very surprised to receive a […] Read More

Why so quiet?

The economy is blowing up. The election has a certain circus quality to it – more than the usual presidential election. I started a new job (sort of). I’ve been traveling. So why no blog posts? Well, my official excuse is I’m working on a redesign of my website, and as part of that effort I’ll be splitting this blog into four separate blogs. So that’s quite a bit of work. Also, I’ve been exercising […] Read More


It’s taken me a few days to write this post, partly because I’ve been busy (remarkable in itself, since I’m officially unemployed right now), and partly because I’m still not really sure what I want to say. David Foster Wallace committed suicide last Friday, and the world lost an acrobatic writer and a dazzling mind. People either love or hate his fractured, self-conscious, self-interrupting, heavily-footnoted style. Some people dismiss it as pretentious or as a […] Read More

The Republican Ticket

I’ve been off the grid for a couple weeks, backpacking with my brothers. We embarked a day or two after McCain announced his surprising (and IMHO almost surreal) choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. This, and she, dominated the headlines as we headed into the mountains, and I was hoping the shock and awe would have faded by the time we got back. The press’s attention span is an interesting thing. It’s still […] Read More

In defense of PowerPoint

Edward Tufte famously declared that PowerPoint is evil, and in my life as a consultant, I’ve witnessed quite a bit of love and hate directed at the ol’ ppt. OK, maybe not love per se, but you’d think so from the application’s sheer ubiquity in all manner of pitches, strategies and summaries. It’s a sign of confidence to present without PowerPoint, and many kudos are laid upon the rare folks who can stand in front […] Read More

Why the Democrats will lose in ’08 – Part 2

In a word: compromise. Now, compromise is often a good thing. I’m all for bi-partisanship. I want a candidate and a president who’s truly willing to look at all sides of an issue and accept that the other party’s point of view might be the right one. I don’t want a candidate who simply panders to the left or the right, and I actually appreciate Obama’s willingness to buck many members of his own party […] Read More

The Data Visualization Palette

I might expand this into a larger article at some point, but for now it’s just something I decided to cobble together for a quick post. Thinking about data visualization was a big part of my job at Scout Labs, and this represents my palette for expressing data in picture form. Since color consists of three factors (hue, value and saturation), it’s three for the price of one from a data visualization standpoint. Hue can […] Read More


My friend Rebecca is thinking about purchasing a scooter. Not a leg-powered one (like the “Razor” that was so popular with dot-commers), but a real electric or gas job. She was asking me whether I thought it would be risky for her to park it on the street outside her apartment in the Mission (SF neighborhood), and we got to talking about ways she might prevent it from being stolen… A really big lock (duh, […] Read More

If you build it, they won’t come

The Business Technology blog over at WSJ reports on a recent study of more than 100 corporate social networks. Ed Moran, a Deloitte consultant, found that: Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members; less than 25% have more than 1,000 members – despite the fact that close to 60% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects. Moran’s conclusion is that companies get seduced by the […] Read More

Return of the Douchebag

Perusing the online blogopolis today, I saw that Xeni over at boingboing has proposed a new greeting card that would thank the recipient for “not douching out.” “Douchebag” was a fairly common insult back when I was in high school – in the ’80s, but it seems to have made a comeback. Jon Stewart uses it fairly regularly, and I even used it in a blog post a while back to describe how I feel […] Read More

Nailed it!

Please indulge a moment of self-pity… I know a designer’s job isn’t rocket science, but that doesn’t mean everyone is qualified to make design decisions. Unfortunately for me, that doesn’t ever seem to stop people.

Clever Target Circular

Why do they call these things “circulars?” The word makes me think of my mom, clipping coupons from the Sunday paper for the weekly trip to the Shop-N-Bag. Anyway, this one came in the mail from Target. I usually toss these things right into the recycling bin, but I thought it was pretty clever. I used to love flip books as a kid. I even made one once, as a Christmas present for my younger […] Read More

Yes People and No People

I’ve been stretched too thinly across a few big projects and trying for nearly three months to find a couple of qualified people to help me on the work I’m getting through EVB. Right now the market is hot for UX people, and the only ones who seem to be available are the totally un-hireable. I’ve interviewed some doozies. Well, last week I finally found a couple of qualified, seemingly normal people who aren’t currently […] Read More

Before you give up on the human race…

Lots and lots of people have passed this video around, but it puts a giant, ridiculous grin on my face everytime I watch it. This guy is my new hero. Matt is a 31-year-old guy from Connecticut who was inspired one day during his travels to do his signature silly dance for the camera and upload it to the website he was using to keep his family up-to-date on his wherabouts. Anyway, what started on […] Read More

Sean Hannity’s website

Don’t ask me why, but I was looking at Sean Hannity’s website today. OK, I was looking for a video clip of his recent interview with Shelby Steele that I learned about via Digg or reddit or something. Anyway, once I was there, I found myself clicking around out of sheer amazement. Right away, I was assaulted by an orgy of red, white and blue that makes Stephen Colbert’s set look sedate. This is the […] Read More

Kristol is right

It’s not often I agree with Bill Kristol (like… never), but I can’t argue with his op-ed piece in today’s New York Times. Obama gave a commencement address at Wesleyan University, pinch hitting for the ailing Senator Ted Kennedy. He spoke about the importance of public service and self-sacrifice for the greater good, but as Kristol points out: …there’s one obvious path of service Obama doesn’t recommend — or even mention: military service. He does […] Read More

Ripple effect

It’s one of those mornings. As I was getting dressed, I checked the Internetz to see when the next 9 or 19 buses were coming, and it went something like this: 3 min, 11 min, 54 min. Making the first one would be impossible, and the last one would get me to work way too late. So I had to try to make the middle one. Which meant skipping breakfast and running to the stop. […] Read More

Resumes are obsolete

I was doing a little housekeeping the other day, and I found a packet of cream-colored, cotton fiber resume paper that I must have bought a long time ago. I remember painstakingly laying out my resume in MS Word and printing it on this high-quality stock, then tucking it into a matching envelope with a cover letter and dropping it in the mail. More recently, I’ve sent soft copies (pdf or Word) of my resume […] Read More

Moving on…

After a mostly fun eighteen-month ride, I decided to leave Scout Labs. As part of the founding team, I played a big part in defining the initial vision for both the product and the company, and I got a profound education in startup life. I got to work with brilliant people, and I’m forever grateful for the experience. I’m also a bit sad about leaving, because I still very much believe in the opportunity, but […] Read More