Brain-wringing meetups and my upcoming CHIFOO talk on UX of Comics

I’m getting rather excited about my upcoming talk at CHIFOO on Great Storytelling UX in Modern Comic Books.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be finalizing the content and doing a few dry runs to smooth out the kinks and ensure I’m connecting with the audience at each page that I show during the presentation.  If you have the time and interest in seeing where this is headed, or helping out a guy make sure he’s making best use of the audience’s time, gimme a jangle.


I’ve been out to a few meetups already this year (JavaScript Admirers, CHIFOO, STC) and helped out my poor dog who had a severe glaucoma attack and had to have an eye removed.  She’s bounced back amazingly and doesn’t seem to know that she’s not supposed to be missing an eye, which is a helluva lesson in staying present and adapting to change in this world. (Who knew my dog was a Buddhist?)


Where will you find me in the next couple of weeks?

Further out I’m planning on BarCamp Portland 8 and ProductCamp Portland 2014.  Should be a brain-wringer.

This week in after-work design & tech events in PDX Agile PDX, PDX QS

Maker Faire Portland was this weekend, and quite a collection of weird and fun technologies were available to break, create and buy. I saw a couple of friends there – and a lot of pirates, robots, fire, 3D printers and well, the usual weirdos that hang out at these things. Hope you had a chance to catch up with the bleeding edge of DIY.

Genevieve Bell gave us a quick update on where Intel Labs’ research and thinking currently is – intriguing insights as always. IDF 2013 replay available here.

Ever wondered whether mess engenders creativity? Researchers from University of Minnesota have some interesting experiments to share.

Only 20 tickets left for the October CHIFOO event…

Oh hell – and Rose City Comicon is on this weekend, and I’ll be out of town. That is a BUMMER – you won’t even get the chance to see me in my Superman kilt. OK, here’s a sneak peek.

This Week in my kind of PDX fun
· Wed Sept 18th: Agile PDX “Ward Cunningham On Getting Current in the New Web World” (Calagator)

· Thurs Sept 19th: PDX Quantified Self “Show and Tell” (Meetup)

On the Radar
· Tues Sept 24th: Portland UX Happy Hour “Combo meal with PDX Web & Design” (Calagator)

· Tues Sept 24th: Internet of Things Meetup PDX “The $1K Hardware Contest and Oregon’s Plans for a Hardware Incubator” (Meetup)

· Sept 27-28th: BSides PDX Annual Security Hackers Gathering (EventBrite)

· Wed Oct 2nd: CHIFOO “Finding and Measuring the Awesome in Education” (Eventbrite)

· Sat Oct 5th: PDX Code Retreat – Fall 2013 (EventBrite)

· Oct 7-12th: Design Week Portland – just ignore the horrible gimmicky page design, I’m sure there’ll be some talented designers featured there

· Jan 11th 2014: Portland Code Camp 2014 (EventBrite)

· March 2014: CHIFOO talk “Show, Don’t Tell: Storytelling Experience Design in Modern Comic Books

Mike Lonergan, Certified Usability Analyst & Certified Scrum Product Owner

Making software better for users since 2006

Interaction Designer and Scrum Product Owner

“You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs

What’s going on in after-work design & tech events in Portland PDX QS, UXHappyHour

OSCON! Did you have a chance to get out to any of the events last week? I went out for the Puppet Labs party and was thrilled to see so many nerdy people make the trek across town. I had a blast talking to coders and connectors, and learned a few things about iOS 7 that have me intrigued.

I’ve decided to focus my own coding learning on modern HTML first, then look into CSS next, and JavaScript once I’ve figured out everything I can do in the basic layers. So you’ll see me spending more time with HTML’rs and CSS’rs any chance I get. If you hear about anything up that far in the stack, I’d be thrilled to hear it back from you.

Where will you find me this Week?

· Tues July 30th: PDX Quantified Self Technical Meetup (Meetup)

· Tues July 30th: OCCA “Intel in the Mobile Space” presented by Ben Lee (Intel Field Applications Engineer) (Calagator)

· Wed July 31st: Lean Coffee PDX 7:30am – talk Lean and Agile practices with a crowd of real practitioners (Eventbrite)

· Wed July 31st: Portland @UXHappyHour at the Gold Dust Meridian (SE Portland) (Twitter)

On Your Radar

· Wed Aug 7th: CHIFOO – annual bowling party (free for members!) (CHIFOO)

· Thurs Aug 8th: PDX Web & Design “Beyond the Comp: A UI Developer’s Toolset” (Meetup)

· Tues Aug 13th: Quantified Self co-lab – open discussion on subjects the group members are currently grappling with (Meetup)

· Wed Sept 4th: PDX Web Development “Get to know members” (Meetup)

· Wed Sept 11th: CHIFOO “Using Value to Position Design, UX, and HCI More Strategically In an Organization” (CHIFOO)

· Thurs Sept 12th: PDX Web & Design “Developing/Designing for Google Glass” (Meetup)

· Tues Sept 17th: Internet of Things Meetup PDX “(tbd)” (Meetup)

Jawbone UP: magical devices (which begets an immediate wish list)

I’m one of those crazy bastards who loves to track all sorts of data about myself – what I eat, how well I digest it, which scary movies I’ve seen more than five times, how often I’ve listened to that embarrassing electronic-psytrance-chill group.

So I was a goner when I spotted the Jawbone UP in my last buzz through the Apple Store. Sara suggested it as an early birthday present to myself, which turned a normally-agonizing months-long decision into a two-minute mental debate over colour, size and which credit card to use.

The unboxing-and-configuration experience was a spiritual experience. Every design choice seemed to hit my endorphin button, from information design (what questions were asked for what little information they needed to convey or discover) to interaction design (nice simple choices laid out in a pleasing and effective manner) to great visual design (colours, sizing, contrast).

However, within a few days I started to itch for more – this feels like a device with so much potential, and it feels close enough for me to touch but teasingly just out of reach.

Sleep mode

sleep graph
I didn’t sleep so hot last night

Doesn’t seem to register those times when I’ve fully awakened but didn’t “get up”. I’ve had that experience at least once a night since getting this band, but only once in the first four nights did the band trigger that alert-but-still-lying-down state as “awake”. Since then I’ve seen more “orange slices” in my sleep, so maybe it’s tuning itself to my behaviour – or maybe I’m just thrashing more.

Steps while horizontal

lifeline steps
I am a couch-surfing master

I had an experience one morning where I never left the bed and yet registered 286 steps. How can that be? On another occasion, I checked the band before and after getting in the car and driving for half an hour, and no steps were registered – so obviously some types of movement scenarios are being done right.


Just as much of a PITA as any other calorie-counter app, but I’m not sure if that level of granularity is even ever going to be integrated into cool/insightful reports. The food log is a very rich database, but for someone like me who eats a lot of home-cooked food (due to my celiac and lactose intolerance, I can’t eat as much prepared food as my laziness would like), I end up having to make some pretty undesirable choices: (a) forgo the nutrition information entirely on a “custom entry in my food library”, (b) choose something that might be close from the available (but hard to preview) restaurant/commercial foods, or (c) just take ridiculous guesses as to the nutritional values of meals prepared from the fridge.

Smart Alarms

Why does the wake alarm still go off after I’ve switched UP to “I’m awake” mode? Isn’t this supposed to be meant to be a “smart alarm”, to wake me out of sleep? And have I not proven I’m awake by holding down the “mode switch” button for the required two continuous seconds? I find the silent alarm redundant and annoying for this reason, and after a couple of weeks I just gave up and turned it off – even though it would be brilliant to wake me at “the ideal time in my sleep cycle” on those rare occasions when I’m sleeping way past the time I should.

Sleep/awake button

What is the “correct” (by-design) expectation for when I should trigger the sleep mode: when I lie down? When I’m starting to feel sleepy? When I intend to try to get to sleep? I don’t know what I’m supposed to be learning from the “how long I was awake before sleep kicked in”, or whether it matters. Y’know what would be interesting? Graph of “time you crawled into bed vs. amount of time before you fell asleep”. That would tell me whether I’m really wasting time going to bed early or not (i.e. am I getting more sleep when lying down earlier, or does that only weakly correlate?).

Wish List

  • Provides me trend correlations to show how my mood correlates with sleep or food intakes (if any)
    Lets me input other qualitative markers on the graphs like “took a pill” (pain, anxiety, antacid)
  • Full data dumping: I took my band and a computer to a recent Quantified Self session, thinking we could hack on the rich data that the Lifeline seemingly keeps. However, what we got from the web site was a cryptic (terribly annotated) and heavily-edited data set – none of my meals or nutrient data, nothing I could see that captured my moods (especially not the custom labels that are so easy to add), no rich data showing my actual steps (not even in short-time-increment intervals like “how many steps in each 5-minute period”).
  • Community: I’d dearly love access to a community of UP wearers (e.g. online forum) to discuss, compare results, insights and guesses of what’s going on. Following a twitter hashtag isn’t nearly there.
  • Food library (1): how can I edit/delete an entry that I screwed up? I misread the Servings value on a jar of food, and now the Library entry there is forevermore going to be double what it should be (worse, because I combined it with a single-serving food – I created “peanut butter toast” as a one-click entry). Now I can either delete and re-create that entry and edit all previous meals, create another entry and try to remember which one to choose, or “dial the portion size” on the bad entry to an approximate value.
  • Food library (2): wouldn’t it be awesome to one-click copy a “meal” worth of nutritional-values-populated food from one meal (or one ‘team member’) to another? This one came from my partner – she’s furiously adding all the ingredients one by one for each meal so she gets accurate calorie, protein etc data. Now why couldn’t I “copy” her meal and add it to my own feed? I often eat the same thing she (or a friend who’s also part of my team) eats, but I don’t get any real “writeable/reusable” value out of that team membership.
  • Auto-interpolating sleep: UP has a manual toggle into “sleep” mode (telling my device when I’m sleeping), which forces me to either (a) toggle it as soon as I crawl into bed, so that I never forget, or (b) try to catch myself going to sleep just before I actually slip into unconsciousness [or risk losing the tracked sleep entirely]. I’d love for the UP to “sense” when I’m resting on my back and call it “sleeping” without me having to remember to toggle it back and forth. Heck, even if it recorded a session that wasn’t actually sleep, couldn’t I later “curate” my data to re-categorize the false positive?
  • Edge-case bug: Irritatingly, if I forget to switch it back to “awake” mode before plugging it in to dump its data to my phone, it turns out that the UP app doesn’t log that sleep as “sleep” but just as another form of activity. In other words, someone forgot to test and optimize for “what if the user plugs in their UP while the band still thinks the user is asleep?” I’m sure to the designers it sounds like a non-scenario, but it’s happened to me once already and I doubt it’ll be the last time.


A couple of months into bonding myself to this techno-upgrade, I killed it. Inadvertently, but still. I followed instructions, never immersing it fully under water, but instead took a nice long shower (officially endorsed by Jawbone) to refresh myself after a couple of weeks of bedrest. (That’s another story for another time.) Darned thing never responded to another button press again, and I can only believe that somehow its water resistance became less so.

So I dropped a note to the very polite and helpful folks at Jawbone support, who after supplying me with instructions for soft- and hard-reset (neither of which worked, but both of which were reassuring for future occasions when I might find myself painted into a firmware-not-hardware issue), shipped out a replacement band at their (warranty-amortized) expense.

They shipped it to me in an environmentally-sensitive envelope, but with not one iota of expectation-setting, preparation or documentation to let me know (a) if the replacement band needed to be charged [it did, it was dead] or (b) how to properly convince my UP app to forget about the old band and orient itself to a new one.  I dug around like a madman to find out if there was anything I should NOT do with a replacement band, and finding nothing I finally just synced it with the app and was pleasantly surprised at how little I had to do.

I remain a member of the UP clan.

celtic warriors