Occupied Neurons, September release

I’ve been scratching the itch of building an app for myself that solves a Job-to-be-done: when I’m networking, I want a tool to remind myself who are the weak ties in my network I’ve talked to, and what I’ve learned about them.  I want visual refreshers (photos I may have of them) and textual reminders of topics and things an otherwise-non-porous-memory would retain about people whose company I have previously enjoyed.

Using Firebase with ReactJS

In all the research I’m doing on prototyping a front end for my app, I’ve struggled to find something that’s more than “assemble every bespoke tag, class and id by hand” but less than “spend the next six months learning AngularJS”.  Focusing on the front-end to explore my user needs, I didn’t want to get stuck developing a big-ass (and probably unnecessary) back-end stack – even just adapting some well-defined pattern – so I started to explore Firebase [which is all front-end coding with a back-end data layer – to approximate it horribly].

And with a couple more explorations of the territory, I stumbled on the ReactJS “getting started” guide via the Hello World app, and finally understood how cool it is to have a pseudo-object-oriented approach to assembling the “V” in MVC.  (Who knows – for all I know, this is just vanilla ES6 now, and I’m just that far behind the times.)

Still, it is strikingly familiar in basic construction and with the promise of integrating a Firebase “backend” to give me a lightweight stack that will more than adequately perform for me as a single user, I’m finally willing to wade through the React Tutorial and see if that’s enough for me to piece together a working prototype

Props vs State in React

This is one of the more striking subtleties of React – how similar props and state are, and how it appears [at least to me] that the distinction is more a convention for others to understand how to use your React code, than anything that is required by the React compiler.


And on the Product Side of my mental tesseract…

I’ve also been refreshing my knowledge of the Product Management practices I haven’t had an opportunity to practice lately.  Amongst which:

How does a Product Manager perform competitive analysis?

This is the clearest-eyed explanation I’ve seen yet about “understanding your competition”.  I’ve worked with too many Product Marketing folks who get spun up about the checklist war, and making sure that we have feature parity in the product, and it’s always seemed like a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Focusing on “what problems does the competition solve for *YOU* dear customer, and why are those important to your core business?” is a whole lot more genuine *and* believable to me.  I’ve never thought of this line of questioning as “competitive analysis”, just part of doing my job to suss out what I can do to help my customers.


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