SwiftKey: The Reason iOS8 is Exciting

Android’s Best App

The killer app on Android was the predictive keyboard, SwiftKey. A lack of SwiftKey on iOS was almost enough to keep me from jumping off of the Android bandwagon (but Android’s terrible carrier-driven software update process became too annoying).

Thankfully, with iOS8’s added support of third party keyboards, SwiftKey is no longer an Android exclusive.

SwiftKey

SwiftKey is an alternative digital keyboard for your phone. It doesn’t look too special. It just happens to have a keyboard that is brilliantly designed for ease of use.

  • Punctuation is where you want it
  • The keyboard itself shows you letters in the right case (if you’re typing in lowercase the letters are shown in lower case)
  • It’s awesome predictive language system learns from what you type. If you use it regularly, it get scary good at predicting your language patters.

iOS’s Keyboard

OS’s pathetic excuse for a keyboard:

  • Only makes typing periods easy
  • Always shows letters in upper case making you look to the strikingly confusing shift key to tell what case you’ll be typing in

I don’t know how well their predictive system will work, but I don’t care.

Installing SwiftKey

Download “SwiftKey Keyboard” not “Swiftkey Note.”

I made the mistake of downloading SwiftKey Note... It was a bit confusing
I made the mistake of downloading SwiftKey Note… It was a bit confusing

Then follow these instructions (which are also included in the App’s installation process):

Women in Geekdom

I come from a family where the women are not to be trifled with.

I grew up in a home with an incredibly strong and intelligent mother. My mother was raised by a woman who was tough as nails. My father’s mother was a genius and world class card player. I had a great great aunt who was a nuclear physicist in the 1950s.

Call me naive

It hadn’t crossed my mind that women don’t belong in technology until I saw Twitter shit-storms on the subject. The most noteworthy for me was surrounding this blog post from my coworker Ellie.

Nor had it crossed my mind that women playing, enjoying, or critiquing the content of video games would be an issue… But nevertheless “#GamerGate” became a thing. And here’s an elegant takedown of that embarrassment.

My experience

Easily half of the most talented designers, developers, and project managers I have worked with over my career in technology are women.

XY <3 XX

Back in high school computer science class I copied off a girl when I didn’t understand something because she was hands down the best coder in my class.

With rare exception, I haven’t witnessed a ton of brogrammer bullshit, mostly because I deliberately avoid that kind of toxic man-child assholery.

Stupid behavior

If you’re treating people differently because they don’t have a Y chromosome, then you’re a piece of shit.

If you’re trudging through the Internet leaving comments that include “#NotAllMen” or anything that begins with “as a white man” you’re not helping anyone. Instead try shutting up and treating everyone with respect in your real life.

I really can’t believe this is a controversy.

Speaking at NJ Connect in Redbank

Once more with feeling… I will be delivering my  talk “Amazing Design Through Empathy” at NJ Connect in Redbank, NJ on Tuesday, September 23rd at 6PM.

This is the fourth time that I am delivering this presentation, and the first time that I am doing it locally. So far the reactions from it have been wonderful.

October 2012 at NJ Connect
October 2012 at NJ Connect

I spoke at NJ Connect about two years ago, and it was a very warm and fun group. I’m excited to do it again.

Here be the description

The difference between a good product and an amazing one boils down to one thing: Empathy. Developing an understanding of your users that is so deep that you can feel what they feel enables you to design products and experiences that will truly resonate with your users.

Through illustrative and entertaining examples, I will take you on a tour of the the highs that are achievable through empathic design, and some of the depths that designers sink to when they design without empathy. You’ll learn how to activate the empathy that is already within you, and how you can use that power to improve all aspects of your product design, from requirements gathering to user research, and everything in between.

PS: Good news! I will not be featuring any cliched examples. You will not hear me mention Apple or Jony Ive once during my presentation, because I have empathy for you.

Please sign up! I hope to see some friendly faces.

Slowing Down to for Net Neutrality (Preventing Cable Company Fuckery)

My site isn’t broken. I’m protesting.

I’ve waited a long time to write about this. Years. I’ve been waiting for the moment when the knowledge is actionable. That time is now.

Tomorrow, September 10, 2014 is the day that that users of the Internet will protest the telecommunications lobby’s attempt to break the Internet for profit.

Explaining the Problem

I had planned to write a whole lot on the subject, but no one put it better (or funnier or more entertainingly) than John Oliver:

Why This Matters

Our economy is intimately tied to the Internet. Short of a worldwide cataclysm, there’s no going back. Over time we’re going to need faster, more reliable Internet. All of us. Not just the big companies who can afford to pay massive sums of money to telecom companies in return for high-performance connections.

The beauty of the Internet is that anyone can make something, and anyone in the world can use it. You don’t need permission. You don’t need a lot of money. You just need some willpower and skill.

If the telecom companies win, the only services that will be fast enough to make users happy are the ones owned by gigantic companies. Killing net neutrality would seem like a big hit to companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Netflix… But it would actually strengthen their hold on the market because they can afford to pay the telecom companies for high performance. Their upstart competitors won’t have the cash. Killing net neutrality would put a moat around the Internet giants that would further strengthen them at the price of innovation among small businesses.

Battle for the internet

Join the Battle for the Internet

If net neutrality is killed, the ramifications will be very difficult to undo. Please find it in yourself to take action. This is about fighting for the future of freedom and the economy.