Archive for the “Other” Category

This was a recent statement of mine to my German (as in born and raised there) wife:

“You know, we’re going to have to teach our daughters that there are other forms of defense besides a swift punch in the nose.”

And the rebuttal:

“Punching the nose is a perfectly appropriate defense.”

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I regularly hear that designing for the mobile world is different. Apple is often trumpeted as this axiom’s poster child, as the iPhone and the iPad prove that Apple gets and designs for mobile usability.

Last week I decided to try the official WordPress for Blackberry app,  which was first released in February. I spent this week using that little app during my commute to the office, composing a refresher post on the benefits of sprints, iterations and other timebox mechanisms (because it’s worth taking the time to assess whether we continue to receive value from long-standing practices.)

On Friday morning, my post was nearly complete — at least ten paragraphs, crunched out in my spare time on Blackberry keys while standing on or waiting for the L. I thought about another post idea and hit the context button on the Blackberry then “New” to create another post. Whoops! My Why We Sprint post was gone. Completely gone. A little investigation left me with only one conclusion. On the context menu, “Delete” is located one item down from “New”. The only draft on my Blackberry was that Why We Sprint post, which was necessarily highlighted when I hit the context menu. A little roll-click drift on the trackball sent my post to read-write-hell.

I wasn’t happy. My initial reaction was to get frustrated because the app developers hadn’t thought that someone would be using an imprecise trackball with his second left thumb while standing on a swaying L car. The mobile world is different. You need to build in extra robustness to account for less precise input mechanisms and on-the-go users. They should have taken the extra time to add an Are You Sure? pop-up.

One day — and a fruitless hour file recovery effort — later I realized that my initial reaction was completely wrong. My lost post had nothing to do with mobile being different. Rather, it had everything to do with the part of mobile that is the same as all recent computing platforms. My lost post had nothing to do with pinch-and-zoom-whizbangery, nor a missing auto-save feature, nor versioning, nor online backups. I lost my post because the standard Are You Sure? pop-up that’s been on computers since greenscreens and on the web since Mozilla was not there. That’s not different. That’s sloppy.

Yes, designing for mobile is different. But that’s no excuse for failing to heed the lessons learned on platforms past, especially the fundamental ones.

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I must thank Costco for making me realize there’s a whole category of topics I need to keep an eye out for around oxymoron process (or, in this case, oxymoron policy).

As I’m sure some readers have witnessed, Costco really applies the hard sell on their executive membership, jumping you at the register with high tech scanners that tell you how much cash back you would get if you upgraded from a regular membership. So, last year, my wife and I broke down and took the bait, since we do buy quite a bit of our building supplies as well as other items from Costco.

(Note to self: if someone repeatedly jumps in your face to try to sell you something, no matter how good it sounds, just say no.)

So, over the last few months my wife and I have earned quite a bit of cash back on our purchases, This cash back isn’t really cash; it comes in the form of Costco script which must be used within six months. That’s fine, my wife shops at Costco often enough so she’ll just use the script coupon that we received in the mail the next time she goes to Costco.

Wrong.

The coupon is written out in my name, even though we are both on the account. Since it’s written in my name, only I can use the coupon at Costco. This happened today. I called Costco this evening and asked a manager WTF. The manager confirmed that this is Costco’s policy and it is to protect me in case I divorce my wife – so she couldn’t go to Costco and use the coupon with my name on it. (Really. You can’t make this crap up.)

Now that’s just a moronic policy (since my wife and I still share an active account at Costco). But here’s what makes it an oxymoron policy. My wife purchased everything today with our Costco Amex. That Costco Amex is in my name. And – wait-a-minute – my cash back coupon comes printed on the statements for that very same Costco Amex.

Guys, I could have just divorced my wife. I don’t give a damn about the stupid coupon. What about the hundred thousand dollar Costco Amex credit limit that you would have happily let my newly-divorced wife max out?

Again, I did speak to a “manager” about this, who did say it is company policy. I’ll probably follow up with Costco corporate tomorrow.

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That was my favorite mug.

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I’ve been busy on other endeavors this last week. Most notably, my wife and I kicked off our largest rehab project to date — in our own home.

We’re rolling a wrecking ball through the top floor of our Victorian three-flat. We’re living on the lower floor of our unit (the second floor of the house) while we completely gut upstairs. Have a look, and feel free to follow along, at schuh.kutzschbauch.com.

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I’ve combined my website and blog into a single, easier-to-use format in the hopes that I will do a better job of keeping everything up-to-date. I’ll still post blog entires on AgileJournal, but they will always show here first since I have full control of this site.

One well-earned plug for WordPress (which is the software running this blog). The installation worked exactly as advertised. It’s incredibly simple to set up. It’s easy to use. I can access it from my Blackberry browser. Customization of the site itself could be a bit more user-friendly, but I’m still surprised how easy it’s been so far.

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