Category Archives: personal


Max Max Returns


All Giddy About Star Wars VII

That light saber doesn’t look very safe. But it does look like some awesome cinematic goodness. Wonder if his name is the Mule… Asimov fans everywhere would be like “I knew it!”


What A Morning!

It’s a random Friday morning. I wake up ready to work and the radio on my AirPort stops working. I reset the device, do everything I know to do, but there is no SSID, no radio signal whatsoever. What to do? String a cable across the room so that it can get ripped out of a computer when the crazed, six year old invariably streaks through the office having watched Power Rangers and looking to chop me into pieces? Not a chance. I’ll just run out to the closest Apple store and grab a quick replacement.

So I hop in the car and drive to the mall. What is going on with parking? I finally find a spot out in no-mans-land, but wait – an 80-something year old woman in a brand new red Civic swings in front of me, practically clipping my bumper to steal my spot hanging me a bird and yelling “here’s my Holiday cheer” in the process. Wow. Wait, did that middle fingernail really have a picture of Santa painted on it?!?! Suburbs…

There’s another spot a little further out, but wait – again my life is put in danger! This time by a car load of 40-something year old women with shorter in the back than in the front, some with a little spike action in the back but all with at minimum two colors in their hair and at least 5 shades between them – which is less shades than the stitches on their bejeweled jean pockets… After wondering whether my car would fit in the back of their Yukon, I think I’ll find another spot!

After a quick scan, much akin to a running back trying to figure out where that linebacker and free safety are, I see a carload of nuns and orphans, with hate and fear in their eyes, about to take a spot. I slam on the gas, flip right in front of them and gently rest my car between those beautiful golden lines. I hear a scream as their tires scream to a halt and see poor Tiny Tim’s face writhe as his crutch smacks him in the back of his head, knocking him out cold; but I am finally in a spot, after at least 15 minutes of searching and at least 2 near death incidents. As I sit, heart pounding, I wonder at how I was able to get caught up in the craziness. But more importantly, what is the craziness about?

I exit the car and start making my way towards the mall entrance. After traversing the distance of a marathon, with a group of nuns seemingly chasing behind (my time was 3 hours and 2 minutes, theirs 3 hours and 1 minute – but they were slowed up by Tiny Tim until they left him behind) I finally approach the door of the mall. Just then, the Salvation Army guy pounces from behind a column, ringing the Vorpal bell so loudly that I can see the sound waves approaching and feel the 1d6+5 hit points of damage they do inside my temples. I pull a spin move, stiff arm his bucket dropping a buck in there and while I have no idea how he’s made it this far, this fast I see Tiny Tim lunging at me from my periphery. Recalling all those Georgia games, I hurdle Tim in a manner that Knowshown Moreno would be proud of and fall into the door of the mall, feeling the warmth already thawing out my semi-frost bitten feet. I sigh.

But just then I see a shopping cart barreling down on me at a break-neck pace. I roll away just in time and see who I guess to be Large Marge from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure wearing a bedazzled Green Bay Packers sweater and shrieking with laughter. Before I can contemplate what in tarnation is wrong with people the group of nuns flings the door open just behind me, with a bloody stump of an arm still clasping his bell waving over their heads. They lock their eyes on me and hurl the stump in my direction. I sprint into the mall, juking right, then left and then an old school swim move to get past the thin, pale, faux-hawk toting/director glasses wearing college kid who for some reason is foaming at the mouth and snarling at me. Once past, I look back and see him lock onto the nuns. I smile just as he gets beamed in the head with that bell arm. I can’t help but think, maybe the Cowboys should bring her in to replace Romo… (too soon, I know).

Like a northstar, I see the Apple logo over the heads of seemingly rioting hipsters. The skinny jeans apparently got so tight, they’ve cut off circulation to those Fluevog-laden feet. There isn’t a pair of uncracked Gucci glasses amongst them as these lumbersexuals (it is Movember ya’ll) battle it out for who gets to complain about the coffee at the Caribou in the middle of the mall. I get an idea! I pull the crossbow from my computer bag (you do take a crossbow everywhere, right?!?!), rip the knit cap from one of the hipsters, tie a piece of yarn to my bolt and fire it just right, so the yarn unravels as the bolt loops through all the gaged earholes tying them together  and parting hipster beards like the red sea. At last, the Apple store is in sight.

I see a father with his 3 children sitting on the floor eating ice cream. They are sitting in an aura of protection in front of the Apple Store. There is a nice young lady at the door of the Apple Store. As I cross the threshold of the store I notice the number of people inside. The nuns, Large Marge, the ladies from the Yukon, Tiny Tim (apparently he found a supercharged wheelchair and changed his name to Timmy 2000 – TIMMMAAAAAAHHHHHGGGG!!!!) and the poor one armed Salvation Army guy approach but slam into what is apparently a force field against crazy surrounding the Apple Store. Boob, relief!

I move to the back of the store, passing the Geico lizard, peaking from behind the genius bar (that would explain the angry cavemen in True Religions and a Favre jersey hovering outside the store). There, I see the AirPort that I am there for. But no, I have a question. Crap. It’s busy. A nice young lady (another nice young lady – after all the crazy it’s kinda’ hard to believe) approaches and asks if I need anything, seeing the furrow in my brow – or am i perma-furrowed?). Why yes, I respond. She knows more than someone her age should about 802.11ac but alas not the answer to my question, but wait here, I’ll be right back. Ya’ right?!?! Within a few seconds she appears again, with another nice young lady who actually does know the answer to my question. Well good grief, I guess I should get two of them then… She swipes my card, gives me a bag with my schwag in it and actually gives me the small business discount, apparently having remembered me from a previous ACN event. Wow.

I look back at the door with the forcefield, Large Marge (now armed with a curtain rod from Macy’s, Tiny Tim (now armed with a bolo made from Bang and Olufsen speakers and speaker-wire), the Nuns (wielding torches made from burning t-shirts from Spencer’s) and of course the now one armed Salvation Army guy wielding fugly fashion victim white sunglasses from Louis Vitton with tight, pegged $900 jeans and a monotone rasta hat that makes Bob Marley roll over in his grave. I know I will survive though, as Apple has called in Bruce Campbell to escort us all to our cars. Finally, I think to ask. What is wrong with people today? Ash looks down at me and asks “what is wrong with you people, going to the mall on Black Friday?!?!”

I didn’t know what I was getting into. I just needed an AirPort. On Black Friday I was able to walk into the Apple Store at Rosedale Center and in less than 15 minutes, walk out the door with what I needed. The only good experience in the whole mall – even on Black Friday! Kudos to you Apple and to the whole team at Rosedale. Wait, I forgot, I needed a new Apple TV. I should go back in…


Thankful for CodeMonkey

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for a lot. I’m healthy, my kid is healthy, my life is totally rad, there’s no snow to shovel today. But I’ll share one of my favorite videos that I’m thankful for: CodeMonkey!


Interviewing personal

Bushel and I On The OWC Radio Podcast

Special thanks to Tim Robertson and for including me along with some of the great ones like Tidbits’ Engst family!

iPhone personal

10 Reasons Uber Kicks Ass

I’ve spent way too much time traveling in my life (and way too little time writing about non-technical things). It’s had ups and it’s had downs. But these days, a bunch of fun little technical breakthroughs that make traveling incrementally better. And one of those things is Uber (and other similar services) who have disrupted the short-range ground transportation game. And I like them so much, I decided to write a little list of the reasons why! While writing, I also realized that you can use this code and we both get Uber credit I never used a promo code. But you can: Has nothing to do with why I wrote this, but it’s a nice thing for me to find while writing…

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 5.33.25 PM

So here’s my top 10 reason Uber rocks:

  1. I believe in the model. People work when they want and seem generally happy. I’ve had a lot of students and people who drive a little after their day job just here and there whenever they feel like it. And they love it. It’s transparent. Everyone is wide open when it comes to talking about what they do and how the process works. Even in the apps, it’s all very transparent. The app requires the credit card, but you never have to give the card to the driver. You can text the driver (e.g. if you accidentally drag the pin a little when you’re a bit buzzed to let them know where to get you).
  2. The reason the model and the transparency are possible is that the tech is great. I can see a map of all the cars, the route they’re going to take, the exact(ish) number of minutes before they show up and the payment is all kinds of working for me. In fact, the tech is so great that I reference their interface here and there in UX meetings. For example, how that whole awesome credit card entry screen works (if you haven’t seen it, it should be the design everyone uses forever cause it’s that rad). But my credit card never goes in their hands. The maps are great and up-to-date and the app is bad daddy, sleek and probably should earn their UX team some awards (not awards like getting knighted but awards like getting a trophy or something). They email receipts, so I don’t have to cart around printed receipts to do an expense report. They have a web lost and found.
  3. It’s been faster than getting a cab every single freakin’ time! For some areas it’s like half an hour faster. Boom. And I don’t have to setup an appointment the night before with some craptastic Danny DeVito-style operator who still needs me to read out an address and then have that cab show up 15 minutes late when I’m in a hurry or 15 minutes early when I’m still in the shower and start calling over and over. I can see where the car is on a map. Love that. And if you tell a driver a better route, they actually listen…
  4. It’s not possible to tip in the app. Or not that I’ve found. I do still throw a few bucks their way here and there when I actually have cash because they’re awesome. But when I’ve not had cash it’s a no harm no foul kind of situation. They don’t expect it and they’re great people so usually deserve something more than $15 or whatever for the amount of time I spend with them…
  5. You rate the drivers. I have given all of mine 5 stars. And they can rate me. And they’ve all given me 5 stars. It’s not possible my experiences will absolutely always be this awesome (YMMV I’m guessing) but it’s definitely been a great run.
  6. Cab drivers are rushing around and rude drivers. Nothing harshes my calm more than feeling like I get some negative karma points for someone else hurling their car around like a vehicular version of the Jerky Boys.
  7. Credit cards. In the past year or two, at least half the time I’ve taken a cab, the driver gets annoyed if I can’t tip in cash, or sometimes pay in cash. I shared a cab with my friend Zack (@acidprime) once and since we were paying with credit cards the driver wouldn’t even charge us at all. Totally annoying… This does seem to be getting better with the cabs that have the video screens in the back. But I’d almost rather them get annoyed than having some of the early versions of those things screaming at me while I’m trying to talk during a conference call…
  8. The drivers are quirky and interesting. I have had a great run with this. I did have a funny little moment with this recently where a lady driver was telling me about her grandkids, which I thought was natural, but then she started telling me all about the “arrangement” she has with her husband and referencing knocking off early and hitting my hotel bar. Alright, it was fun to get hit on by my first Uber driver, even if she was 20 years older than me! The one on the way back to my hotel later that night was telling me all about his Tinder whoreness. Hilarious conversationing! Also, they all know how it works. I tried to get in the wrong Uber the other day and even though the guy got stood up he was like “no thanks.” I’ve had cab drivers from the same company pick me up and not radio it in and then I get nasty calls from dispatch when I thought I was getting in the right cab ’cause they lied about it! Teh lamer…
  9. Oh, and did I mention that Uber is cheaper than a cab. I once got a little too tipsy to drive and took a cab from the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) up to Hollywood. It cost over $100. I took an Uber to Sunset and started further away than LAX and it was $41. .
  10. Because it’s so much cheaper than a cab, there’s even less of a reason to get a DUI too. It seems like I see less drunk drivers later at night since it became a thing, too. So for the final one: Uber saves babies and makes the world a safer place.

Having said all these generalizations, I’ve had some absolutely wonderful cab drivers in my life. I was once riding around with a customer of mine and the driver was so awesome that my customer sent him a pallet of the product my customer makes. So YMMV, but this has been my experience thus far! And before anyone says it: I know Lyft is supposed to be cheaper and whatever, but I’ve had more experience with Uber, and I’m sure they’d be similar if it had been with another service…

Also, Uber continues to experiment with additional services and features. Black, Taxi and other options are the most obvious, but they also experimented with delivering Halloween costumes and makeup artists to your house for Halloween this year and I’m guessing they’re going to continue thinking of cool, quirky add-ons to the service. I love bringing an MVP to market in the app and then adding little tweaks here and there when the MVP actually works and people love it love it love it (yes, that’s an Eloise reference).

Finally, Uber isn’t for everyone just yet. Check to see it it’s in your city yet:

PS – Double  Amex points if you use that to pay for Uber.

personal Product Management

When The Project Manager Realizes A Feature Can’t Be Built


Spotify Halloween Playlist

personal Product Management public speaking

I Don’t Resolve A Lot Of Defects…


cloud personal Product Management

When Product Management Meets Social Justice

In technology, we often find a lot of cool stuff that, as developers, engineers and yes, even product managers, we think is just plain cool. In agile development, we create epics, where we lay out customer stories and tie them into a set of features; however, while we’re working towards our goals we often find those technical places where we discover we can do something super cool. And we sometimes want to weave those into our stories as features in products simply because we want to make stuff that we’re technically proud of. But should we?

Too often we don’t consider what the social ramifications are to features. Time and time again we hear stories of what seemed like a cool feature that got abused. When we’re creating software, we think of the art. We want to change the world after reading too much Guy Kawasaki. We want to build sometimes just for the sake of building. And sometimes we come to a place where we think we just have to add something into a product. Then we stop and think about it, and we come to a place where we’re just torn about whether that feature is something that should go back to the obscure place we found it. And in times like that, when we’re torn about what to do, we have to remember that “we are the goodpeople” and do what’s right.

That is all.