Monday, 6 June 2016

Acknowledge Me*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Apple started a user experience trend many iOSes ago when it accepted Settings changes and did not ask for confirmation. Once the change was made, it was set. There was no canceling, accepting or double checking that the user wanted this.

In the controlled and consistent interface that is the iPhone, iPad and and iWhatever, this worked and even became understandable.

The problem arose when other platforms and standalone apps outside of the Apple ecosystem started accepting changes without asking me if I was sure about them.

There is a concept behind any user interaction in software that must be obeyed or these kinds of final decisions without confirmation can hurt rather than streamline the process. It is consistency across the platform.

Instead of trusting Facebook or other apps to make my changes without acknowledgement which allegedly saves me an extra interaction and click, I make the changes and then open the setting again to ensure it stuck.

I'm also stuck with the concern around whether I remembered what I had it set to before. If it is a toggle then that's not the end of the world but anything more than two choices and I sit there in despair hoping that there are no large consequences.

Although Apple has owned user interface designs since 1987 with the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines, you are not all Apple. You do not control all behaviour in your world.

If you are going to make a change that sticks then make that so consistent that I will not doubt it or just do the decent thing and ask me for acknowledgement. You aren't saving me a click. You simply haven't earned my undying trust.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Changing Countries Weakened My Mojo but I Just Got It Back

Changing jobs always involves adjusting to the new environment and finding your feet again.

Changing countries as well is a career culture shock of epic proportions.

I've been doing this work thing I do for a while and feel pretty comfortable with my method and my madness in achieving any goals I am set. The thing is that being in a new work culture combined with a new country has shaken my confidence in what I do and how well I do it.

A lot of this comes from working with people who have their own very successful ways of doing things that simply aren't my ways. The reality is that there are many ways to achieve the same requirement with each being completely valid.

My skill set involves becoming adept at functioning inside a new environment very quickly. This is why I'm surprised at how long it has taken me to become comfortable with who I am and what I'm doing in my current job.

The environment I work in has many rules and is constantly in a highly productive state of cognitive dissonance. It works but it does involve being brutally decisive and being right a lot.

To me, the only way to be highly decisive and be right a lot is to trust the almost two decades of skills and experience that I have under my belt.  Yes, listen to others but do what you know is right for you in that context.

The two times that I have done something I felt ill at ease with but persisted with anyway, I have come out in a situation that I do not feel went brilliantly.

It is finally starting to dawn on me that I know how to do this job with my eyes closed and as long as I second guess myself, I will not rock it like I normally do.

Although changing jobs and countries weakened my mojo, I've finally found a way to get it back.

She who hesitates is lost. Just go with your gut. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

How Public Shaming Only Made Me Stronger

I work at one of those massive companies with a name everyone knows. My Mum is proud to tell everyone I work at a big book store and I'm very happy with the job I moved to a new country to do.

In the 17th year of my career, I have seen it all. The big companies.  The technical power houses that people long to work for. The money factories where I was paid more than small countries to do what I do. Even the start ups that lost me money and some that made me comfortable. The small backwater towns that I worked in while hiding out from the real tech world. Seen. It. All.

Recently at work, I was advised by my manager to send an email to an internal group of peers. This group represent the entire fleet of people at my company that work in my role. That is not a small number. So, not just my peers but people I want to be like when I grow up.

I wrote the email and sent it off.

Yes, I could have worded it better. Although, I did get a review before I sent it. All the good that did.

Then one guy said "I think you should check with the security group before you ask that" and he meant well.

Then the assault came. The public shamers who told me what I had done was equivalent to lighting orphans on fire for entertainment and selling tickets.

Then the private shamers who emailed me with a helpful tone to tell me that I had effed up and needed to consider my actions.

I did check with that security group and all was ok.

Yes, I could have worded it better.

The whole incident made me want to crawl under my desk and never show my face again.

But for each person who kicked me, ten sent me messages of support. They said things like:

  • "there are people who will make you look bad to make themselves look good";
  • "at least you didn't take down the entire US website"; and
  • "I did that once and someone else will do something soon and they will forget you."
I have pretty thick skin. Every mistake I make is a learning experience. I'll be fine.

The thing I dislike about this kind of public shaming is that it makes onlookers afraid to try anything and restricts the amazing people they hire.

Yeah, I may never mail that mailing list again for help. I will have to deal with people saying "Oh, you're that Damana from the mailing list who got her arse kicked" and other interesting comments. It doesn't matter to me.

After a week of feeling terrible about myself, I realised I made a mistake in the way I executed my objective. Next time, I will do better.

What made me much stronger was realising that I don't need to publicly shame someone to feel better about myself. That is a good trait. A better one than pointing and sniggering.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The First Is A Lie

Lately, I've been hyper aware of the first choice in web drop down lists. Yes, yes, I need a hobby.

When unsubscribing from a bunch of mailing lists, I've found I lazily choose the first option for "Reason" when I'm asked. This goes back to me wanting a one-click subscribe but beyond that, I will also choose the first option.

If you are thinking about asking a question and not putting yourself out of business then think about what your first choice in a list is. Don't let it be your worst option, even if it is alphabetical.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Spam a Lot

If I attempt to unsubscribe from a email distribution and it is more difficult than two clicks, I will mark their email as spam. If you're implementing an unsubscribe mechanism for mass mailing then keep this in mind. Systems like gmail and other mail servers will start quarantining or marking all your mail as spam. This means that your valid subscribers may also miss your mail now.

One thing I've learnt about usability is that if I'm doing it then there are millions doing the same thing. Especially when it comes to exerting too much effort.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Oakton DVS Agile

When I complete a project delivery, I like to make sure that I list the agile practices that were used to achieve this goal.

No matter what people tell you about agile, there is no one way to do it. I have delivered and managed many agile teams over the years and even the same team across multiple projects and I have never once seen exactly the same agile practices set used twice.

Just as fingerprints are different between individuals, so are agile practice sets for teams. The variables are so vast that no two will be the same, beit the product being built, the team and parts of its sum or the baggage we all carry from job to job.

This is normal and this is why I keep track of all the combinations as I go along.

In the case of the Document Verification Service that we built for the Commonwealth Government's Attorney General's Department, the picture above shows the practices and some of the tools we used.

It is grouped in to development, management and analysis (BA and QA together) practices. Some of course, overlap.

Always keep track of what worked and what didn't. Try them in your next project but don't force them. Sometimes the best practice on one team will die brutally on another and vice versa.

Just as agile allows projects to adjust with changing requirements, agile itself changes for its team requirements.

Rigour over rigidity, always.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Resume + Character is what I want

A resume does a good job of describing specific skills. Today I had lunch with a group from my last contract and then an evening of pampering with the women I work with in my current role.

Reference checks and resumes don't tell me how awesome you are as a person or why your ex-colleagues still love being around you. How do we judge a person's character when all we have is a list of jobs?

I think it's a combination of what is on paper and what you see in an interview. Let people reveal themselves face to face. Talk to people who know them. Look for character as well as a checklist of skills.