New User Experience Failures

Yesterday I arrived in Toronto for the start of a two week visit with family. It was great to see people here, but I ran into two major new user experience failures during the day. I’m recording these here as case studies for others to reference. The first is from Koodo, the second Xbox. Continue reading


The Coffee Cup Analogy

Heard this through a friend, and can’t find the original source. In any case, it matches my views on life to a great extent!

“A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups; and then you began eyeing each other’s cups. Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.”

While I believe in the basic premise here, it’s important to note an important exception: the coffee cup must be fit to purpose. If it’s a solo cup, then you’re going to have problems with hot coffee. If it breaks, that’s a problem too, so reliability is important. There’s a minimum standard for being fit to purpose.

The minimum standard is also a good analogy for life. You don’t have to make the most money of everyone on the block. But you do need to make enough money to be comfortable. That amount is probably less than you think.

Thoughts from the Canadian Leaders Debate on the Economy

Contrary to what seems to be popular on my news feed, I actually thought Trudeau did really well in the debate. My thoughts afterwards were “it’s too bad he lots all credibility in the first half of the year.” Also too bad that his plan is an obvious “take all the things the millennials are saying they want and try to make it sound realistic”. It’s too bad, because he was by far the most charismatic person on stage. He came across to me as the most hopeful and optimistic – something this country needs. But if he gets elected and then fails, the disappointment will be huge – and there’s a high likelyhood of failure with his plan.

For starters: intentionally running a deficit is not a great idea. Yes, I like the idea of investing in infrastructure. I love the idea of an infrastructure bank and someone finally paying attention to municipalities – and Toronto specifically. But he doesn’t have a plan to pay it back. You don’t borrow money to start a business or to buy a house without knowing you can pay it off.

I felt Mulcair did well and was obviously the wisest of the bunch. He just wasn’t exciting. That’s probably what we need, but not what people want to hear. His plan sounded by far the most well thought-out, and reasonable approach. Corporate taxes are way too low, and corporations are not paying their fair share. A small increase there to pay for programs is exactly what we need to do. This is the part that makes it obvious that Trudeau is grasping at what’s popular and not what’s right: The top 1% of Canadian individuals already pay more than Corporations on income tax, and most of them use corporations to shelter their money.

Finally, as though I really need to go through this, it’s obvious that Harper is done. He spent the entire debate saying “unstable global economy” as though that actually meant anything. I think he thinks that it means “be scared and vote for me.” Since that’s kinda his whole political shtick. Much like his plan for the economy, it isn’t working. Low corporate taxes have not brought manufacturing jobs back to Ontario. Those jobs are gone and aren’t coming back, no matter how low the tax rate. It’s time we build an economy for the next 20 years, not 20 years ago.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

I was expecting a simple action flick with lots of explosions, pretty much standard stuff with a few twists. I was not expecting to think. Holy fuck Whedon, could you work in any more themes? Life, death, teamwork, honesty, change, reality, even moral absolutism!

About my only complaint about the movie is that there were some golden opportunities to show that violence is not always the right answer. Yes, it’s an action flick, the purpose is to show violence. I’m not expecting the Avengers to stop and sing kumbaya. But there were a couple of times that a non-violent resolution would have worked better and the characters were perfectly suited to pull it off! Heck, they could have worked violence into it to show how the violence didn’t work in that situation – which would have still kept the action up, and illustrated the point. (I’d describe the actual scenario but I’m trying to avoid spoilers)

I’ve seen some things floating around Facebook about how Joss Whedon’s stories aren’t perfect and leave a lot to be desired around diversity. They’re right, they aren’t perfect. They aren’t meant to be, nor should anyone claim that Whedon epitomizes the best of all storytelling. But you know what? He’s pushed Holywood to produce stories that are orders of magnitude better than what was being sold before as the big blockbusters that reached millions.

Just check out the new Avengers presented at the end: two women and two black dudes. Yes, lead by a white man. Oh wait a second, Nick Fury is back, so now we have a disabled black man in senior leadership, not to mention Maria Hill and Pepper Potts. This doesn’t mean that we’re done. Not by a long shot. There’s a lot more story telling needed to make this so normal that it’s just assumed. But this is a good direction to go in to see what we want. Perfect is the enemy of good. If we want to see more storytelling going in this direction, then we need to embrace the people pushing in this direction while pointing out gently where to make more progress and ask for more.

Non-alcoholic wine bottles

The Non-Alcoholic Year In Review

On 10 January of last year, I decided to do a little experiment. I decided that I wouldn’t drink for a whole year. The logic was simple: I’d just been to Las Vegas, and found that drinking didn’t actually make things any better. Not drinking for a full year should make it obvious whether drinking actually makes me happier in any way, or not.

It’s almost a year later, and I’m ready to call the experiment complete. I’ve gone through all of the major events for a year without drinking, including Reveillon (New Year’s in Brazil). The conclusion is: I’m much happier not drinking, but other people aren’t. The actual act of drinking alcohol has nothing but negative effects, but the social implications are the problem. I rather liked not ever having a hangover (other than lack of sleep) and never having to worry about driving or flying. My overall happiness at events didn’t seem to change much: I either liked being with people or didn’t, the alcohol didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

Interestingly, I was right about this in a way too. If I say something like “I don’t feel like it right now” then I don’t have any problems. The moment there’s even a suggest that I don’t drink at all, people get all defensive and look at me funny.

Given that I don’t need to abstain but also don’t see any point in drinking, this suggests a middle path. In social company in which I’d like to, I’ll order a drink, cheers, have a sip, and then drink nothing more. Or nearly nothing. I’ll make sure to also have water on hand, since that’s really my preference.

That said, I’m still keeping my zero-tolerance policy for driving or flying. Doesn’t matter much in Brazil, since I don’t have a car, motorcycle, or airplane, but it just makes the decision easier.

This is what I mean by enthusiasm!

The Best Sex Advice Ever

Alright guys, listen up. I don’t normally give sex advice, but this is huge. This one little tip makes the difference between sex that’s just meh, and fantastic wake-up-the-neighbours sex.

By now you’ve probably heard all the talk about consent, and how you should talk about things before sex. Sure, that’s the best way to avoid having a talk with the police. But is that what you want? No. You want much more than that. I’m here to tell you that what you think you know about verbal consent is off the mark. If you have to stop and ask verbally if your partner wants to have sex, you’re doing it wrong.

Why? Because if they aren’t ripping your clothes off, then you’re doing it wrong. Your partner should want you so much that they’ll stop at nothing to get you. You know what happens when two people want nothing in the world more than each other? Fucking. Amazing. Sex.

Yes, consent is important. You must have consent. I’m not saying that consent isn’t important, I’m saying that active consent is way better and way more explicit than just the word “yes” uttered once. If your partner is jumping on you and taking off your pants, you can be pretty sure that you have their consent!

It’s kinda like playing one-on-one basketball. If the person you’re playing with isn’t really into it – you know, just walking after the ball, not really trying all that hard – it isn’t nearly that much fun is it? Sure, you’ll score, but you’re basically playing with yourself aren’t you? You probably wouldn’t even play with someone who wasn’t interested, why bother? On the other hand, if you’re playing with someone who’s really into and about your skill level, then it’s a great game and it’s so much fun!

Sure, some people show that desire in different ways, and verbal cues are hugely important. If they say stop you need to stop. But if you’re having sex and you want it way more than they do, or if they’re on the fence on whether they want it or not, that still ain’t right.

So what do you do if you’re in the mood and they aren’t? While I can’t answer every situation, here are a few ideas. First: slow down. If they’re open to physical intimacy but not enthusiastic yet, chances are you’re going to fast. Some people need to warm up for a while before being in the mood and find the pressure for “sex now” a turn off.

If that doesn’t work, try backing off. Have you ever had someone constantly bugging you for something? You pretty quickly stop wanting to do whatever it is they’re bugging you about, right? Well, you could be causing that. Leave some space, and let them come to you. Trust me, when they do… fireworks, man, fireworks.

Finally, if nothing else works then you need to seriously consider what’s going on with your relationship. Seriously, why would you want to have sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you? You’ve probably heard someone say “sex is like pizza, even when it’s bad it’s still good.” I call bullshit. Bad sex is bad, unsatisfying, and it’s bad for your relationship too.

Life is too short to settle for sex that’s just ok. Don’t just settle for consent, hold out for enthusiasm and have the sex of your life!

Want to know more?

Photo Copyright 2011 Paul Cox Photography, used under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2.0 license

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Brain on fire

Shake Your Brain

It’s been a rough week, with lots of news about how the world can be a crappy place, particularly for women. How about something a little more positive? How would you like to make the world a slightly better place? All it takes is an email.

Last weekend I went to Second City with my family because we all needed something happy and fun. It was a great show, and like all good comedy there was more than a little social commentary mixed in. One of their skits was a song called “Shake Your Brain”. They were riffing on rap and hip hop, but instead of it being about women showing off T&A as you’d expect in rap, it was about how women can show off their brain and be awesome. It was both hilarious and very sharply worded.

Now that is a video that I’d like to see on YouTube! Heck, I’d pay $20 for it if it was on iTunes right now. But as of right now, the only way to see it is to go see the show at Second City. Here’s where you come in. Do you want to hear the song? The person to ask is Klaus Schuller. Email him and say that you want to see Shake Your Brain turned into a video. Or tweet @SecondCityTO or post to the Second City Facebook page saying the same thing. Would you pay for it on iTunes? Make sure to mention that.

Personally, I’d much rather show my niece this song than Baby Got Back. I’ve got nothing against Sir Mix-a-lot, but Shake Your Brain is a brilliant parody and I’d much rather be sending my niece that she can be brilliant and awesome!