28 January 2015

Fixing Our Broken Feeds

Twitter has become my default, go-to social network. I use it to get news and to comment on current events, as well as for some networking. What I dislike greatly, however, is when I'm scrolling down the feed on my phone and I hit the part I've already read. It means I have to return to the top and start over. What a pain. According to Tyrale, UX evangelist and creative consultant, this situation has been the status quo for too long, and it needs to be addressed. In the article below he describes the problem in greater detail and provides solid -- albeit challenging -- solutions to resolve the issue. Well worth a read.
Your Content Feed is Broken

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27 January 2015

Recommended Reading for Product Managers

Here's an excellent list of books and articles on product management that was put together by Noah Weiss. If you are a product manager, you'll want to dig through this resource. I've already obtain several of the books he mentioned.
50 Articles and Books that will Make you a Great Product Manager

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26 January 2015

Will Wearables Really Catch On?

Nearly a decade ago when I was working in enterprise support at AT&T (called Cingular Wireless at the time I was hired), Blackberry devices were the thing for business people, and consumers were clamouring for the latest Motorola Razr. Oh how times have changed.

In the midst of all that, the Bluetooth headset had a pretty solid user base. One of the most annoying issues for me to troubleshoot was helping people pair their headset with their device. Still, it wasn't like everyone was using them. For many it was just a way to go hands-free while driving, not something they'd use all the time. For others, the thing seemed permanently attached to their earlobe.

It annoyed my mother to see people wearing a Bluetooth headset. I didn't disagree with her. It felt like there was something pretentious about it, as though the person thought he was so very special. And then there were the loud, middle-of-the store conversations that were viritually indistinguishable from incipient madness.

Now all the talk is about 'wearables.' Apple is giving us a watch (well, selling it for more than we should probably pay) and Ringly is in the works to let us know when we get a message or call. What's Ringly? It's a sort of hyperactive digital mood ring for the 21st century.

I don't want one.

First of all, the only jewellry I wear is my wedding band, an occasional wristwatch and -- more infrequently still -- a simple necklace. I suspect a lot of people are like me on this point.

Secondly, my phone already lights up and buzzes to notify me of calls, messages and emails. No, I don't use a ringtone.

Third, if you're a very active mobile user and try something like Ringly, won't it be lighting up pretty much all the time? Yes, you can control whose messages and calls are priority for notifications, but again it seems to me this could be just another distraction.

Fourth and finally, is there really demand for this type of product? This is an honest question. What are the numbers in terms of sales, inquiries, etc? Is it possible that this is merely another solution looking for a problem?

If something really cool and useful comes out in terms of wearable tech, I'll get on board. Until then I prefer to focus on pushing the boundaries of mobile development, finding the pain points in daily life and finding sweet solutions that people will not only want, but wonder how they ever lived without.

For an alternative view on this topic, check out Chris Dixon's post below.
A16Z Leads Investment in Ringly

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25 January 2015

Kansas City Oasis

From time to time over the past year or so I've written about non-theist, church-like communities. One of the groups I've discussed was Oasis. Recently there was a nice write-up in The Kansas City Star about Kansas City Oasis.
Last year this same gathering celebrated 6 months with the following video.

If you are looking for community without a faith-commitment, this could be an option for you. For more options, check out my post about the various non-creedal groups you could look into.

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24 January 2015

Could a Tech Solution Provide a Way Out of the Dump?

Over the years I've written frequently about the daily struggle that trash pickers face around the world. Now I'm glad to share a small ray of light in an effort to help some people get away from the dump and into a slightly better way of life. From a recent re/code article:
Enter I Got Garbage. This initiative is steering rag pickers away from scavenging, and providing them with tools as micro-entrepreneurs, and with livelihood opportunities at levels across the waste value chain. 
Under the I Got Garbage initiative lies a custom cloud platform, built on open source technology and delivered via low-cost Android phones. Rag pickers can access a structured marketplace — the first platform of its kind in India — to manage their business operations like waste collection, and presenting digital invoices for their services. 
Pickers no longer comb through the garbage dump to collect recyclables. The project matches pickers with households and businesses seeking waste services, and links pickers to small shops for selling recyclables. The latest business model added to waste management, introduces home delivery of composting kits, flower pots and flower seeds to interested buyers.
Be sure to read the full article, and check out the video below:

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23 January 2015

Twitter: If You Hang Out With Clowns Your Life Becomes a Circus

Earlier this week I tweeted a Humanist quote, only to get the following reply:
With that, an entire viewpoint is simply dismissed. What am I supposed to do with that? Take the bait and engage in a pointless argument with someone in Homer, Michigan who I've never heard of before, or walk away? If this were someone I knew "in real life" and considered part of my life, I'd probably invite him to sit down and discuss the matter, hearing him out while also attempting to show him the glaring flaw I see in his perspective.

I opted, in this case, to let the matter drop (except for this blog post, I suppose).

When I set up my Twitter account in April 2008, I'd already been blogging regularly for a little while. In fact, my first blog was a simple affair on a Tripod site (remember those?) back in 2002-2003. Then, in January 2006, I began blogging frequently, and all posts since then are now part of this blog's archive.

Twitter was described as a "micro-blogging platform." It didn't take me long to get the hang of it, but I don't remember being too impressed. Only 140 characters? That's less than a text message! Over time, however, I became more and more active. As I found and followed people who shared links to news articles and blog posts on subjects that interested me I started to see the value in Twitter. There are however, many drawbacks.

Twitter on some days looks like a perpetual outrage machine. Every day there seems to be some new "issue" requiring a hashtag and obligatory retweets. Dissenting opinions or even a request to pause and think things through results in mocking condemnation, as though a voice of cautious reason means the person is morally and ethically bankrupt.

It's wearisome. Yet I persist on Twitter because I still see so much good in connecting with people there and sharing my outlook. At the same time, I'm still blogging every day. Some of my posts are substantive, and many are just videos or other content I found online that I wanted to pass along, with or without comment. I suspect that when my Twitter days are done, my blog will still be going strong.

Jason Calacanis has a genuinely witty take on the problem of the biased, the broken and the mentally ill that form the seemingly boundless ranks of Twitter trolls, and he offers a few solutions for those looking to cope rather than quit the platform altogether. It's really a great read (the title of this post was taken directly from a line in his post), and you can check it out below.
If you want to optimize your Twitter experience do what you do in real life: mute insane people

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22 January 2015

Understanding Technical Debt

For as long as I've worked in technology I've heard the term "technical debt" tossed around from time to time. It's a concern not only for startups striving to create new apps as quickly as possible, but also for older companies that have an immense amount of code to deal with that's accumulated over time. The trouble is that 'bad code' and 'technical debt' are often conflated, when in truth they are two different problems.

To better understand technical debt, I strongly recommend this article on Medium:
Technical debt 101
Also, be sure to check out this 2012 interview with Steve McConnell:

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