Category: Apple

My AltConf 2016 talk: Sell Out and Save the World!

My AltConf 2016 talk: Sell Out and Save the World!

Woohoo! I’m so excited! Last year I spoke at AltConf in San Francisco during Apple’s WWDC week. I’m really proud of the talk I gave—I had refined it a bunch, tested it in front of different audiences, and poured a lot of my soul into it. (And yes, a lot of emojis.)

It’s a little bit about how to feel OK having a corporate job. It’s a little bit about diversity in tech. It’s a little bit about why online dating sucks. If any of that sounds interesting to you, please watch it!

(And feel free to let me know what you think, but you know, be gentle with your constructive criticism. I’ve literally never given a talk at a conference before.) <3!

Sell Out and Save the World – AltConf 2016 (best viewed on a bigger screen so you can follow the slides. And none of the videos or animations play in this slide processing, but if you’re DYING to see the Taylor Swift Apple Music ad, go here.)

Udacity interview with Kate Rotondo

Udacity interview with Kate Rotondo

When I spoke at AltConf back in June, Udacity asked to interview me and I was lucky enough to get paired with my pal Kate Rotondo as my interviewer. Hooray for networking! Hooray for connections! Hooray for women in tech! :)

You can read about the interview here, or just cut to watching the video below.

This was a ton of fun, and we covered a lot of different topics including App Camp for Girls. Thanks to Udacity and Kate for the opportunity!

Speaking in Portland and San Francisco

Speaking in Portland and San Francisco

I’m speaking at two upcoming events—I’d love it if you came!

First we have Donut.js, a casual gathering that is so very Portland. “A fun night of code and donuts” is the slogan, and your entry includes a donut, come on! I’ll be presenting on Tuesday, May 30th, talking about online dating (but more from a UX perspective than a dating advice perspective). Tickets are $10 atCup & Bar, I’d love it if you came to join us!

Then on June 15th at 1 PM, I’m speaking at AltConf in San Francisco. AltConf is a free conference that runs parallel to Apple’s WWDC; I’d be honored if you came to hear me, but the session will also be recorded if you miss it. This talk will be more about my transition from The Heartographer to working at Microsoft, why online dating is kind of a garbage fire these days, why I made the shift away from entrepreneurship, and partly about App Camp too. It’ll be a longer time slot and a much more robust discussion, plus I think you’ll find my slides funny. :)

Speaking of, I’m also in town for the James Dempsey and the Breakpoints/App Camp for Girls fundraising party that night, which you should absolutely buy tickets to before they all disappear. (And by the way, you can always contribute whenever if you just wanna be rad.) Hope to see you there! Fuck it, hope to see you at all three things! (Might as well go big, right?)

Why I kept my Apple Watch

Why I kept my Apple Watch

I bought an Apple Watch, which arrived (kinda late) on launch day, April 24th. I got the 42mm Sport with a white band, despite reservations about that exact model. I dithered for a while about whether to keep it or not, but I ultimately decided to hang on to it, at least for now. I thought some of you might be interested in why, as you may be going through similar decisions.

Wrist texting.

I love being able to see text messages and iMessages on the fly. While not all my texts are important or time sensitive, most of the ones from my husband and a few key business contacts are. I like being able to see texts immediately on my wrist, even if I’m out and about or in a meeting. I can always just ignore the ones that don’t merit immediate attention. But, if I’m waiting on something specific, and I’m with another person, I used to have to let them know the reason and keep an eye on my phone for the incoming text informing me, say, whether Grant would be joining us for dinner or not. Being able to monitor this kind of input on my wrist feels less rude and more reliable—and lets me stay in the moment easier.

Dating app videos.

I made this video about online dating apps on the Apple Watch, which was a lot of fun to produce. (Grant helped a TON with all the editing, by the way!) I’m mostly unimpressed with the current dating app ecosystem, but I think it will be fascinating to watch the apps mature to this new device over time.

Reading Marco Arment’s post about his redesign of Overcast for Apple Watch also egged me on—I don’t get the sense that most of the people making design decisions for apps like Tinder have quite the same indie level of passion and thoughtfulness, but I’m looking forward to being proven wrong… and possibly making more videos to showcase new or different functionality as dating apps mature.

It’s fun being part of the club.

This is a ridiculous reason to keep a $439 purchase, especially when money is pretty tight for us right now. BUT I haven’t had the joy of having the newest hottest gadget at the time of launch in many years. I know it’s a little cheesy, but it’s SO much fun to feel like part of the club, you know? The geek club, the early adopter’s club, whatever. I also made the point in this prior post that having a super tech-geeky gadget sort of visibly identifies me as a technophile, which people might not otherwise assume from the rest of my appearance. (Which is ridiculous, but that’s a whole other problem.)

Even though finances are tight, I managed to justify keeping it because it really doesn’t take that many client hours for me to pay for the thing again. The problem is that I haven’t been able to work over the past several weeks due to some medical stuff I’m going through, but the fact is, I can rekindle my usual client flow soon enough that I was able to talk myself into not returning the thing. Barely. :)

And I LOVE when strangers talk to me about the watch! I’m sure that’ll get old at some point, but it’s fun to have a hip new thing right now. And I’ve been really surprised and pleased by the diversity of the people who are interested in it—it’s definitely not just the expected white male cis straight software engineers, haha. I’m loving the observations and interactions that come with the watch.

OMG Apple Pay!

I’ve still got an iPhone 5s, so I was new to Apple Pay. Using my wrist to check out is SO COOL and futuristic! I can’t get over how convenient and easy and fun it is to use—I’m one of those people who is a ball of chaos in most grocery checkout lines. Anything that means no fumbling for cards or phones is a huge boon. This is seriously the way of future payment processing; I’m convinced of it.

About a week after I’d gotten the watch, I wandered into a random boutique staffed by two 20-something gals. They both recognized the watch and talked to me about it in detail. It was so cute; one of them even ran around the counter and cuffed my sleeves so it would show off more prominently and spark more conversations with strangers! :)

Anyway, the cuffer-gal, who managed the store, mentioned that she was looking into getting new payment processing technology. She was planning on getting something other than an NFC-enabled terminal, most likely chip and pin, but I talked her out of that and into NFC by explaining Apple Pay and that this technology was available in lots of other devices, not just Apple Watches and recent iPhones. I truly believe NFC is going to change the way we transact over the next few years. I’m glad I won her over; I think I did her store a favor!

Fitness tracking.

I’ve never been a huge fitness buff—one time in 2006 I completed a sprint triathlon, and I’ve basically never *really* worked out since. Ugh, that was so exhausting. :) So while I need to lose weight and focus more on health, it’s just not something that’s very high on my list. I would never wear a dedicated fitness band like a Fitbit or Garmin, as many of my friends do—I just don’t spend enough time or energy focusing on fitness to justify the cost.

However, since I wanted an Apple Watch primarily for notifications, I was happy to also get to benefit from its built-in fitness features. I’m surprised to say I find them quite enjoyable—even though I think the “stand” sensors are a bit off, and should probably be smart enough not to tell me to stand while the watch is actively giving me driving directions, haha.

When I set up my watch a second time after initially wiping it to deal with some buggy dating apps, I took the opportunity to increase the activity goals from the bare minimum, too. It feels nice to have an easy, techie way to encourage myself to move my ass a bit more. When I recover medically and can actually work out like a normal human, I can totally see having fun with the sensors to better track stuff like calories and heart rate.


I’m a sucker for doodling. I have so much fun with it. I don’t really care for the heartbeats or the weird morse code or gauche oddly-textured animated emoji, but the little drawing app is a BLAST! It’s also a big reason I’m glad I got the 42mm—those four millimeters make a huge difference in terms of being able to write legibly or draw clearly.

I only wish that you could use more than one color on the same doodle canvas, and that things didn’t necessarily disappear quite so quickly—I’d like a way (besides screenshots) to save doodles someday, too. But I get that this isn’t meant to be a fully featured drawing app. I just kind of enjoy using it like that.

You know what my dream Apple Watch game would be? Draw Something, only watch to watch. I find it hilarious to have to come up with a decent pictorial representation of something on a tiny wrist screen. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Zynga should get on that shit.

Of course, there’s the ecosystem issue right now—I can only share my doodles with a select few people who also have Apple Watches. But it’s fun, and we communicate more than we would otherwise; I feel like we’re sharing little private jokes that bring us closer together than other communication channels would be able to do. This is the least “important” feature of the Apple Watch, but so far, it’s the most enjoyable!

The good outweighs the bad.

There are things I don’t love about the Apple Watch. But I think I’ll save those for another post, or just sit on them and hope they go away with a 1.1 release. Overall, I knew I’d be getting a somewhat low-featured first-gen product, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I like it so far. For the most part, the beneficial features outweigh the frustrations.

Right now Grant has my Apple Watch because I made him take it with him as an icebreaker while he’s out of town at a conference—I really miss my husband, but I also miss my watch! :)

Do you want your smartwatch to look like jewelry?

Do you want your smartwatch to look like jewelry?

I just had an interesting Twitter chat with Joe Macirowski about our various Apple Watch impressions. Joe said the 42 mm watch face was nicer to use, but that the 38 looked like jewelry, which he preferred. This seems worth exploring to me. Because I don’t *want* my smartwatch to look like jewelry.

I definitely think Apple’s smartwatch is the most elegantly designed product in wearable tech. I haven’t spent loads of time up close with any Pebble, but I’ve seen them enough to know that they’re not quite there for me, aesthetics wise. I dislike every fitness band and Moto thing I’ve laid eyes on.

If I could afford one of the swankier Apple Watch versions (likely the Rose Gold Edition with the Rose Gray band), I’d be much happier with the aesthetics… but ultimately, I still want the thing to *look like tech.*

I don’t wear a watch now. I haven’t worn a watch since the early 2000s, when I had a cheap stainless steel Fossil tank watch designed (I think) to knock off some high-end Cartier model. I started carrying a cell phone shortly after buying this watch, so I mostly wore that watch because it helped me look and feel and be more professional.

I was young—fresh out of college—and I was applying for jobs wearing a suit. (It’s sort of a trauma-induced thing after being sexually harassed by one of my first bosses—the more professional and serious you seem, the less likely you are to get hit on when the clock hits 5:01. Or so I told myself.)

I was also trying to be part of a corporate world that I didn’t yet realize wasn’t for me. I didn’t know what I wanted career-wise, but the work I found was administrative stuff in law offices and dressier-seeming corporations.

I didn’t yet know software was Land of the T-Shirt; I didn’t know games were Land of the Combat Boots. (I also didn’t know that both were fields where you’d get sexually harassed as a woman no matter what you wore, perhaps even more so than the aforementioned law offices.) I didn’t know I liked software or games or helping people figure out their online dating profiles. I was new at this whole Being Adult thing.

Wearing a watch on my wrist meant I was trying to display affluence, togetherness, formality—traits I didn’t actually possess at the time. Now I wear what I want and what flatters me for entirely different reasons… and I’m a hell of a lot better at spotting and shutting down harassers. (It helps that I left working in an environment full of the kind of day-to-day microagressions all women in tech face all the damn time. Sorry to make this watch post slightly political, but you know, it’s still depressingly relevant, so.)

Now, if I were to wear a dumbwatch, it would be almost entirely for aesthetics. It would have to be SO attractive (and water-resistant and easy to read) that I didn’t mind it getting in the way when I typed, or the extra weight it put on my wrist. It would have to kick ASS design-wise, and somehow still be affordable for my tiny indie budget.

Apple’s smartwatches are very pretty, but they’re not THAT pretty—especially not the ones I can afford. Therefore, I want the biggest watch face possible on a smartwatch, not just because it’s easier to read and use, but also because I want a watch that screams “I AM TECHNOLOGY!”

I want my smartwatch to make it clear that I didn’t buy a watch like this because *that’s my taste*—hell no. (If it were purely up to taste, I’d be in a thick Cartier tank watch with a band made from some kind of magically-no-longer-threatened species’s leather.) I want a smartwatch to communicate at a glance that this is a compromise between form and function. That I have better taste than that when it comes to actual decorative jewelry.

And hey, as a woman interested in tech, it doesn’t hurt to wear a new first-wave gadget that automatically telegraphs a certain geeky streak and technical prowess to the men I meet at conferences and events. Plenty of them still assume from my gender and appearance that I’m less educated, intelligent, capable, technical, etc. than the men at the table.

A watch that screams TEEEECCHH does me a lot of little favors socially and professionally. My old dumbwatch tried to convince people I was something I’m not, whereas a smartwatch that looks like tech tries to help people understand who I actually am.



Edited to add: since you read all the way here, I’m including bonus content. Lucky you! (?)

Manly Wrists and Apple Watch

Manly Wrists and Apple Watch

I have the opposite problem from most of you women in tech.

I listen to Christina Warren and Serenity Caldwell and Joanna Stern talk about how excited they are that Apple is making a smaller size smartwatch face. Their wrists are tiny and dainty, and a giant 42mm face would look stupid on them. Hooray for 38mm options! Hooray for the lovely modern buckle! Hooray for girly smartwatches that fit tiny fairy wrists! Hooray for Apple “getting” it!

Here’s the thing—I have man hands.

Bossypants, Manlyhands.

Okay, they’re not exactly like Tina Fey’s book cover here—I have a little less hair going on, and my nails are painted, and I wear intricate wedding rings. But I’ve always had larger hands and particularly wrists than most women. I can’t wear any bracelets that are designed to just be slipped on, because I can’t make my hand tiny enough to get them over the thumb bump (technical term).

I haven’t actually gotten to try on Apple Watch, but I’ve played around with paper prototypes and checked out other smartwatches in the world. I *like* bigger watch faces. They make it easier for my giant fingers to deal with tiny touch targets and buttons and, I presume, a Digital Crown. I like a smartwatch to give me the largest amount of manipulation and display space (not to mention battery life) possible.

What I’m saying is, I only want the bigass watch, even though I’m a relatively heteronormative lady. So while I’m excited about Apple Watch, I’m very disappointed that most of the “girly” options don’t come in my size.

Now, I’m not rich. I haven’t even fully decided if I can justify a cheap-ass comparatively ugly Sport watch yet, but let’s pretend that I have oodles of money. I want to deck my giant but still feminine wrists out with the most attractive, fashion-forward version of Apple Watch that I possibly can.

Let’s start at the more accessible price point, the stainless steel “Watch” watch. The band I like best is Modern Buckle. The color I like best is soft pink.

Watch watch with soft pink classic buckle band, 38mm

Guess what size it fits? 38mm only. Same with the navy classic leather band and the brown classic leather band, in case you were wondering. The thickest part of my wrist, with the bony-ass bump, is exactly 170 mm. I can thankfully wear either size of classic buckle leather band, if I’m willing to compromise on the smaller face size, which I’m not.

Now let’s look to the fancypants Edition edition. My next choice would be red band with yellow gold face. The gorgeous red leather modern buckle band only comes in smaller sizes which might not fit me, and it only fits the smaller 38mm face. My theoretical millions and I have to pass. Sigh, what a shame.

Edition edition with red modern buckle band, 38mm

And if I wanted the Rose Gold with Rose Gray (?), which is also stunning? Also only available in the 38mm, and I actually worry that the largest possible band size might not fit my wrists. (It says the modern buckle size L goes up to 180 mm, but I’m nervous. Most ladies’ stuff in a “large” doesn’t fit me. I have reason to be nervous, until I can try the thing on.) I have to pass on this beauty too. Sigh.

Edition edition rose gold with rose gray (?) modern buckle band, 38mm

If I *did* want to go all out and get a larger face 42mm Edition in either color, I’m stuck with the garish, tacky, sweaty, cheap plastic band. (I don’t care what Tim Cook called the thing, it’s made from fossil fuels and it looks like crap to me in every color.) I can’t even handle sullying a gorgeous watch face with a shitty band like this, even though Apple seems to think it’s totally fine:

The horrible compromise that would allow me a large face Edition edition.

I get that this is an early launch, and that third party options haven’t hit the market yet. I get that I (a cisgendered woman who happens to be six feet tall with bigger-than-average wrists) will likely have to order bands made for men/unisex sizes. I get that Apple is breaking ground by offering some stuff that fits the girly girls, even if it doesn’t happen to fit me personally.

But what of the trans women, who want girly fashion that fits all wrist sizes? What of the geeky girls like me who want a bigger screen to see their cool new tech on? What of hardcore vegan women who want a girly-feeling band for their expensive Editions, but are loathe like me to slap on a cheap-by-comparison fluorelastilame band and ruin the whole look?

I’m glad y’all are excited. I am too in theory. But I can’t wait for this to be  a more robust product lineup, with a truly diverse array of fashion, size, and color options. If you see me in the wild with a garish pink cheap plastic band on a Sport edition, please don’t compliment me on it. Now you know that my inner fashionista secretly hates everything about it.


P.S. Apple’s official sizing guide and Louis Mantia’s chart were both helpful in creating this whiny post. All product images come from Apple, except Tina Fey’s book, which is totally an Amazon affiliate link because why not.

I was on some podcasts

I was on some podcasts

Hey folks, I was on a couple podcasts. I forgot to blog about them (or maybe I just skipped it because it felt redundant). Want to give them a listen? OK then!

Systematic #117 with Brett Terpstra—Brett is a rad nerd and we talked about a number of nerdy and non-nerdy things, including pets, kids, fertility treatment, image,  identity, selfies, selfishness, teenagers apps, development, speaking, Myers-Briggs whatnot, and more. I forget the rest. It was fun. Really fun. Oh, and mind-mapping. And working. And time. And productivity. Nerd stuff. Fun!

Less than or Equal #13 with Aleen Simms—Aleen is a fantastic advocate for diversity within geekdom and we talked about feminists, feminism, sexism, horrible employers, horrible workplaces, horrible comments, horrible experiences, and why you shouldn’t discredit anonymous stories you hear from women who have experienced insane levels of sexism and harassment and other bullshit. It was fun even though we both sighed in disgust a lot! Sometimes sighing is necessary!

Oh, and I was on some other even less recent podcasts. Want me to link to them too? OK then!

Better Know a Jackal #9 with Mike Beasterfeld—we talked about podcasts and TV and movies and games and linguistics and productivity and App Camp 4 Girls and ergonomics and some other stuff. Apparently I talked quite fast, even for me, which we both knew might happen, or at least I did. The only feedback I got on the episode was that I talked fast or that it was utterly fascinating, so I guess that’s a net positive, so maybe you should listen if you like fascinating things discussed at breakneck pace I guess? I am horribly biased here so don’t trust my input. Look at the show notes to get a sense of just how fast the talking was.

Tech Douchebags #8 with Jordan Cooper—I was on this a WHILE back and I think I forgot to ever blog-link it or maybe I decided not to because it was pretty profane but then again I write profane things here occasionally and am known to say them even more often so maybe that’s silly and anyway here is a snarkier show I was on with the hilarious Jordan back in May. It was snarky and fun! Jordan is both of those things! Not everyone needs an online dating coach!

Happy listening! Blame yourself if you think an episode is going to upset you based on the contents or opinions I’ve alluded to and then you listen to it and it does! You were kind of warned! OK then!

Notes to self about buying tech

Notes to self about buying tech

Always spring for the biggest hard drive possible. On any device. Yes, even if it costs several hundred dollars more than the option you think is big enough. It’s not.

Always get AppleCare now that it covers screen breakage and water damage (at least sometimes; non-binding; consult your local annoying Genius for details; not a Genius).

Always get the most RAM possible.

Always get the best processor possible.

Always check the MacRumors Buyers’ Guide in case they’re about to release an update to whatever you’re about to buy.

Always set up as a new machine instead of importing old machine stuff, even though it’s 2014 and this probably shouldn’t have to be on your list at this point.

Always get at least one extra charger/charging cable. Always buy them first-party. Quit wasting time with the Amazon Basics cables whose heads are too big to fit elegantly into any port ever. Also quit wasting time with the cheap no-brand ones for a dollar that wear out in 1/10th the time of the expensive first-party cables (which do eventually wear out right around when your normal warranty expires).

Always set a calendar reminder to check your hardware including cables before your warranty/AppleCare plan expires, leaving enough time to schedule an appointment via the proper Genius channels to demonstrate your frayed cable.

Always be careful when unplugging stuff from cables (hahaha yeah right).

Always follow up on said calendar reminder, even though we all know it should have been an OmniFocus task with a due date instead.

Always buy all software via the developer site instead of the Mac App Store version that then can’t be upgraded except for an insane fee. (Even if the blog post you’re typing is peppered with affiliate links for the Mac App Store version of software.)

Always turn off the thing that automatically adds apps across multiple devices.

Always leave on that annoying “launch iPhoto upon plugin” setting because otherwise you will forget forever and run out of space because of pictures you took of your cat.

Always actually plug in your iPhone whenever you sit at your computer because you need to remember to offload those cat pics so you can take more cat pics unencumbered even though you have very little space left because of all those apps you accidentally synced to your phone.

Always remember not to plug your iPhone in during any important conversation or process because the launching of iPhoto will crash whatever task you’re currently urgently doing.

Always put off sorting your photos until the collection has taken up so much hard drive space as to become untenable.

Always pay for the pro plan of Dropbox and don’t think about it again, just use the shit out of it because you cheaped out on hard drive space so now you’re beholden to the Cloud Gods to store all your shit for recurring monthly fees because there’s no way you’re going to be able to safely upgrade your hard drive now.

Always pay for the recurring monthly fees of reputable online backup services like Backblaze even if it seems hypocritical given how much you resent paying for Dropbox.

Always be nice to customer service people because you feel bad about that time you bitched the Dropbox CSA out because he wouldn’t give you a refund after you misunderstood that it wasn’t compatible with Time Machine* and you ended up needing a different service on top of the service you got from Dropbox but then it turned out to be really useful to have a giant paid Dropbox account after all.

Always read the specs before you pay for software assuming specific and critical functionality exists when in fact it doesn’t.

Always pay attention when Backblaze and Dropbox start to yell at you that they can’t fully update your shit because you have too little hard drive space left. Pay more attention when Mac OS starts yelling about it too. Pay even more attention when every single podcast suddenly simultaneously has CleanMyMac as a sponsor as if the entire technosphere is yelling at you. Always listen and buy the goddamn software you clearly need at this point.

Always pay for the full version up front.

Always run it immediately.

Always delete what it says.

Always explore deeper ways you can leverage it to free up more hard drive space so you don’t run into this problem again next week.

Always spring for the biggest hard drive possible.



*Always wonder why Apple puts a space between Time and Machine but not between Apple and Care. But mostly just get bigger hard drives, dummy.