Professional Development

Google Glass Email

Why I Applied for and Actually Paid for Google Glass

Posted by | Mobile, Personal, Professional Development, Wearable Tech | No Comments

$1,500 is a lot of money to pay for a device that can get you attacked in public, so why would I willingly subject myself to being labelled a “glasshole” by applying to the Glass Explorers Program?

While research suggests that using the latest high-tech devices can make people appear more authoritative and boost career prospects, I’m targeting this cutting-edge technology for my own personal interest and development.

“If only I started developing apps when the iPhone first came out,” I’ve found myself thinking countless times, lamenting my slowness to explore mobile phone development. Well, wearable technology is the new iPhone.

Having the chance to be at the forefront of this technology gives me the opportunity to learn about development for wearable technology long before the public starts buying the devices, giving me time to explore a nascent technology and user market before it goes mainstream. Yes it technically was sold publicly for less than a day, but in reality it’s never been widely accessible to the public.

The prospect of being able to develop apps for a technology on the verge of becoming the leading ubiquitous personal computer is simply too exciting to pass up.

So you’ll have to forgive me if you’re among those who believe technology is ruining The City or society in general, but to me this technology has so many positive applications from medical technology to social media that it’s almost silly for me not to at least kick the tires early on.

For the enraged bar patrons, I’m sure a little etiquette and respect for privacy will help me avoid offending others in public.

Fun note: the “Purchase Glass” button in the email they sent me didn’t work in FireFox, forcing me to use Google Chrome instead to open the email and click through to the purchasing page. Well played, Google.

Great Read: Product Strategy Means Saying No

Posted by | Product Management, Professional Development, Web Design, Web Development | No Comments

Too often, good products get derailed by spontaneous, tangential feature requests that distract core users from their core product needs. Enter a recent great blog post from Des Traynor, Co-Founder of Intercom, about why product strategy actually means saying no. Check out the very entertaining accompanying video presentation below.

It might sound crass, but if you read the post and watch his video presentation, anyone with experience in product management can immediately see where he’s coming from and outsiders can easily understand how sometimes it’s better not to simply build every feature requested simply because we can. Simply put, feature requests need to be moderated, prioritized, and oftentimes rejected if not substantiated with proper data. Building too many peripheral features can truly distract users from core functions and confuse them with complex workflow and configurations. To top if all off, they’re also extremely painful to maintain and support from a technical perspective, leading to needlessly burdensome overhead.

Intercom looks like a great product with great leadership — I’m looking forward to digging into it a little more after a Russian colleague recommended it to me.

Chinese Fridge Website Redesign

Chinese Fridge Website Redesign

Posted by | Gaming, Mobile, Personal, Professional Development, Resources, Web Design, Web Development | No Comments

Just in time for Chinese New Year (Friday), I decided to do a much-needed redesign of the Chinese Fridge website.

For those not familiar with Chinese Fridge, it’s a growing suite of Chinese learning game apps that I started a while back on weekends to help my friends who are teachers entertain their students while also providing reinforcement for vocabulary.

The old website was just a really basic implementation of Twitter Bootstrap that I threw together out of nowhere when the project was getting started. It was a good learning experience in the realm of responsive design, but this new version is much swankier.

While putting it together, I even picked up a few new tricks to use at work, which I recommended to my design colleague. One such resource is Font Awesome, which is a font that includes tons of useful icons instead of letters.

Why use font awesome? The reasons are many:

  • They scale beautifully with CSS, unlike images — in fact, they scale “INFINITELY” which sounds mind-blowingly amazing, right?
  • Instead of loading several separate images, you simply load one font file (kind of like an image sprite) — and less server calls = faster load time = nice SEO benefit as well
  • I’ve seen images randomly disappear from our Amazon cloud hosting, which wouldn’t happen with this unless the single font file went missing — and even then you can actually load from an externally hosted location on a CDN that Font Awesome provides the URL for
  • The designer I talked to expressed great joy at the idea of potentially not having to design very standard icon images anymore (common symbols representing things like download, delete, edit, copy, arrows, quizzes, videos, play buttons, etc.).
  • What about fancy dropshadows and whatnot? Simply apply CSS styling, my friend
  • Retina display ready

Drawbacks? Everything has drawbacks:

  • The designer pointed out the CSS file size is 21.1kb so technically if you only use it for one or two icons on the page it might not provide much benefit in terms of speed, but the more images you can eliminate with it, the more utility you get from it
  • If you need a fancier UI with a more distinct look, these may not have enough personality for you
  • If that file path breaks, all of those icons break

Well, looks like I went on quite a tangent there. Hope it was interesting. Stay tuned as I’m starting to pick up the app project again and will release some new vocab sets soon.

Chinese Fridge Burgers

New Chinese Fridge Apps Coming

Posted by | Gaming, Mobile, Personal, Professional Development, Web Development | No Comments

I’ve been quite busy in my personal life lately, which unfortunately led to my project Chinese Fridge getting a little neglected.

However, I’m happy to say things are picking up again and I hope to release at least a few more apps in the next few months!

Above is a sneak peak at some of the art from the upcoming game covering American Food vocabulary words. Pretty cute huh? I found myself a pretty cool designer who I think really fits the game’s personality well, so things should move a lot faster now as I’ll mostly be handling the mobile development and publishing end!


Automate Google Analytics to Feed into Google Docs Spreadsheet

Posted by | Professional Development, Resources, Web Development | No Comments

Anyone who works with Google Analytics knows that pulling and compiling reports can be time consuming unless processes are put in place to enhance efficiency.

I recently found a really helpful way to automatically populate Google Docs spreadsheets with Google Analytics account data, using the Management and Core Reporting APIs — and it’s already saving a lot of time.

Google’s official documentation is actually quite thorough, and there are a number of guides and tutorials online that can point you in the right direction like this one.


Code Academy Logo

Codecademy: Back to Basics

Posted by | Professional Development, Resources, Web Design, Web Development | No Comments

Technology is always updating at seemingly breakneck speeds. Lately I felt like I needed a refresher on the basics so I started playing around with Codecademy and I’m really enjoying it! You can even track progress and share with friends, like my profile here. Since most of my knowledge was self-taught and through experience, I this is a great way to remind myself to avoid bad habits.

Running through basic courses on Codecademy really helped remind me of some of the fundamental concepts behind HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and jQuery, and has helped introduce me to Ruby and Python. It seems everything these days is all about data, so learning at least a little Ruby and Python should help me better understand some of the products I manage. PHP is great, and I’m already quite familiar with it, but it’s far less exciting of a language than Ruby and Python. Just the same, Codecademy has been a great chance to refresh the basics and explore new programming languages. Some of their courses have some interesting bugs, but they have a good Q&A section that provides answers to problems based on what people have already run into.

GMAT Test is Done!

Posted by | Instagram, Personal, Professional Development | No Comments

Things have been a whirlwind lately, but somehow I managed to cram taking the GMAT into my busy schedule.

Cramming for about two weeks to prepare for the test was at times exhausting, but also rewarding and thought-provoking. This Instagram post conveys a lot:

While I got a decent score, I feel like if I spent more time preparing for the test, I could have had a strong chance of scoring higher.

Some people question the value of studying for the GMAT, but if I gave one piece of advice to future test takers, I would strongly emphasize preparation before the test. Like I always tell people, the way I see it is a prepared Ken is always going to be better than an unprepared Ken, so I do partially regret not studying more beforehand.

However, given my increasing responsibilities both at and outside of work, I’m not disappointed with my score and I know I can always retake the test for a higher score if necessary. For now, I’ll run with this score and see how things go, rather than commit precious additional time when it may not be necessary.

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