Showing posts from October, 2011

Replaced by a robot unicorn. :-)

I'm traveling on vacation next week, so in preparation my teammates (or more specifically Max Cooper) modified his Interactive unicorn (video below)

to basically replace me.

It keeps saying "Ship it." so matter what you say. :)

except when you ask it to have dinner at Google cafe's that don't have burritos or Indian food.

The soul of a product

I ended up reading this great article about the design behind Ice Cream Sandwich over the weekend, and the one word that stayed with me was "soul."

More specifically the idea of attempting to define the "soul" of product, and how that had informed some of their design choices. The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how much finding, defining and then communicating the "soul" of your product can help you ship considerably better products.


Product managers and designers try to build products by thinking about the user:
what users really needhow they'll think and then how those needs can be best served by the product's design. Putting the user first is the right thing to do, but  thinking about the point of view of the product - i.e. its soul - can help you do last bullet significantly better.

Its the "soul" (or personality, if you prefer) of the product that decides if you decide go with a fail whale or just put up a stan…

But they called my baby ugly! (why you need to be disciplined when dealing with criticism)

A couple of days ago, on an email thread amongst friends I felt a familiar emotion. A friend criticized a product I once worked on, and my immediate response was "Ok, so you really don't know what you're talking about."

I'm pretty convinced I was right on the details, but I wasn't objective or analytical in my immediate response. I felt genuinely offended. It was like someone called my baby ugly (btw, I don't have a kid but I'm pretty sure I'd be immediately livid if you did... even if the facts agreed with you. :-)) 

I didn't have time to even process why the person felt that way or had come to the conclusion, my immediate response was defensive and aggressively so.

This is bad - for a few reasons.

First, for me its pretty uncharacteristic.

Second, it doesn't help anyone and only makes both you and the other person feel worse and take the effort to root themselves even more strongly in your contrarian positions.

Third, a overly strong defen…

Rest In Peace, Mr. Jobs

I teared up while driving after dinner today. I was on my way back to the office after dinner, hoping to finish a couple of things up, and suddenly I found I was wiping my eyes repeatedly as I pulled up to a traffic light. Back at my desk, I tried to watch some of the YouTube clips of his speeches and the "Think Different" ad that people had shared online, and found that I simply couldn't watch them for more than a few seconds.

While there was obvious sadness at the passing of a genius who has deeply affected so many aspects of our lives with his work, my reaction (and frankly the haze I've been in since) surprised me.

Some sadness and regret was completely understandable, but I couldn't immediately understand why I felt this sense of loss.

The tragic circumstances of his passing was perhaps one.

The second and more likely reason was that I just realized that I'd come to feel like I knew him.

His numerous keynotes (which I'd watched more a few times somet…

Here comes Siri!

The Internets think Siri gets its big unveil with a re-bradning  tomorrow. :-)

I've always been surprised that Apple hasn't pushed the technology more since the acquisition more than a year and a half ago.  I can only assume that it was because they were waiting to get the experience just right - or to Jobsian standards. :-)

Knowing its coming from Apple, its likely to

solve a few use-cases incredibly, incredibly wellbe closed (i.e. have some providers for each of those use-cases)but be incredibly useful. The event tomorrow should be fun.

Things to strive for in an engineering team: A "culture of product"

One of my favorite phrases came from talking to someone at Facebook many, many months ago. When describing the way he thought about the Product Manager job he said "I think of this as a culture of product - everyone feels ownership of and thinks about what we're building."

The phrase in particular - a "culture of product" stuck with me.

I like the suggestion that everyone thinks hard about how and why every pixel and action matters. The PM's job isn't to come with ideas and make decisions, as it is to make sure all of this thinking and input, is filtered transparently into action.

It formally implies that everyone on a team thinks hard and naturally, about the user experience and what matters to users. I like to think that the teams where people feel this culture is real, are the ones that build the best stuff.

Beware the "it'll get done in 2 weeks"!

Well, the "I should blog more often" thing didn't get that great a start, but I had a good excuse.

Stuff like
thisand this. I also literally, still can't bear to watch myself on video. I find that after "Hi, my name is ",  I do exactly what I do when something embarrassing is going happen to a character on a TV show that I like, i.e. I instinctively just turn it off.
Anyway, on to the topic of the day.

So I've had variations of this happen to me before, but this time it hit me harder than usual and I dealt with it worse than I usually.

Imagine the following conversation between me and an engineer not on my team:
- Me: "Hey, We need you to do blah blah blah" - Him: "Sure. We need to do blah blah anyway. It should be done in 2 weeks." - Me: "Cool! 2 weeks works." - Him: "Great."

1.5 weeks later
- Me: "Hey, are you close to getting blah blah done?" - Him: "Oh...not yet. We haven't started yet becaus…