Tuesday, May 29, 2018

You got your Scrabble in my Crossword... Like PB & Chocolate.

Starting May 1, 2017 I began playing the NYT mini and daily crossword puzzles on their mobile app.

It's amazing how much better I have become that has long been an empty slot in my repertoire of competitive word gaming.

But, I was getting bored of online Scrabble (WWF) and needed a new challenge.

I tried them years ago, but could never get into them. I sucked at them. I didn't understand the patterns. Hadn't been exposed to the social aspects. And basically didn't give them a fair shake.

Also, it helps to have a quiet pastime for when I'm in bed and everyone else is asleep :)

Well, now the circle is complete. My WWF app sits untapped and unloved. The only place Scrabble now appears is as a series of cleverly arranged clues on today's NYT daily puzzle.

Time to solve: 14m. Not bad for a Wednesday themed challenge.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Dad of gamers in training...

I was wondering why my cellular data usage was so high.

Turns out oldest boy installed Hero Academy 2. By connecting his iPad to my phone (safely cradled). While I was driving home with him in the back seat.

He's 7.

We're in trouble. Alternatively, yay?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Apple Store & Connected Toys

Stopped in the Apple Store to get the battery replaced on my old iPhone 6. It's a backup for testing and handing to the kids now that I have an 8 (AR Kit).

Super helpful tech. He's involved in the Austin Makerfaire (need to take the kids!) and does science and tech demonstrations and lessons for kids. And connected me with someone at the ACC GDI (need to volunteer a lecture/workshop for their students).

All while delinting and removing the corrosion from the insides of my old iPhone 6 lightning jack (thought I'd have to replace it -- nope, just needed a scope...)

Pretty cool.

Not as cool: The connected toy I was trying to play with while waiting for my appointment.

It's called a MekaMon. It was annoying to calibrate (bulky item, needs two hands to manipulate, so phone goes where?) and I couldn't figure out how to use it at all.

Turns out "demo mode" was enabled which meant that none of the working options actually... worked.

A helpful salesperson guided me to the actual demo mode, and I was left with this:

Now THAT is a fun UI to parse :)

I don't mean to throw unasked for shade towards this product. I've worked on other connected toys and the UX challenges are not trivial. At a fundamental level, users want to watch and interact with the TOY but they're required to do so via a visual phone interface. See the disconnect.

Strategically, though, the failures run deeper than this. One key to user adoption is that teachers need to be able to figure these devices out quickly AND set up a bunch of them for kids to play with and use.

In my (albeit limited) experience, this has been a failing for Anki, Sphero, and now MekaMon. There's no way for an instructor to easily put the devices into "class room mode" which ideally would:

  • Skip the onboarding (which is usually too long and could easily be replaced by verbal instructions and cooperative play) 
  • Kill the "account creation" (why, God, why...)
  • Set smart defaults
  • Lock the devices into "classroom demo mode". Especially useful for younger kids who aren't able to read yet or figure out the navigation scheme if they exit the demo mode by mistake.
I love volunteering with elementary kids, but the prep work is killer. Having to play through 10 onboarding scenarios, calibrate devices, set students into specific modes, fix things when they exit by mistake... Not fun.

And not fun for the instructor means fewer instructors doing them and less fun sessions.

Which means that kids aren't going to go home and ask for one.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

UX is Fine

New business cards. Check!

New website. Check!

Check it out: UXisFine

New content? Not yet!