Category: design

My top Grace Hopper session takeaways

My top Grace Hopper session takeaways

I just wrote up a trip report for my team at Microsoft, highlighting at least one takeaway from each session I attended at Grace Hopper 2016. It occurs to me that I should share that with the rest of the world, too. Here they are!

 

  • “Growth and comfort never coexist.” –Ginni Rometty, Chairwoman, President and CEO of IBM during the Day One keynote.
    • This stuck with me; feels profound as we attempt to shift to a growth mindset as a company. Time to embrace discomfort. :)
  • Solitude matters to think creatively; all of us are in too many meetings! From Susan Cain’s talk on the Quiet Revolution.
    • We need to carve out alone time when we’re thinking big (especially for those who are more introverted). I know I’ll be blocking out time on my calendar to get into the right brain space for certain projects moving forward.
    • Some other impactful points from this talk!
      • Introverts should speak up early in meetings to make sure they’re heard.
      • Brainstorming works better alone as opposed to a group activity.
  • Lead the meeting if you need to make sure you get recognition. From an Intuit panel about women’s career development.
    • If you’re concerned that you’re not getting seen for the work you’re doing, take charge and set the meeting yourself and guide it through. It’s a guaranteed way to be seen and also drive progress/outcome.
  • Everyone benefits from accessible design. From a powerful Microsoft panel on inclusive design.
    • If you’ve ever dictated into your phone, pulled luggage through a curb cutout, or walked through an automatic door, you’ve benefitted from accessibility designs. When we design inclusively, it makes things better for ALL users.
  • “We need to make technology cool for girls to study.–Rebecca Minkoff, Tech-Thinking Fashion Designer, from a panel on closing the gender gap in STEM.
    • This immediately made me think of IoT and the enormous opportunity we have to do cool work that centers and celebrates women enjoying technology.
  • Email your manager and say “I’m moving forward with X on Y date unless I hear otherwise from you.” From a panel about women negotiating.
    • Instead of waiting for express permission, sometimes it’s best to just propose what you think needs to happen and make it happen. That way your initiative doesn’t get stuck in waiting-for-permission purgatory or email delay, and you can show what you’re capable of without red tape holding you back.
    • Of course, you need to make clear that your manager has the opportunity to weigh in, but that’s where setting clear dates and expectations in your email comes in.
    • Do this immediately after every interesting hallway or coffee machine discussion with your manager; that way you can deliver on those chats instead of just having them fade away (and then revisit the evidence of your bias for action come review time.)
  • Influence isn’t about you or your rising titles; helping other people is what grows your influence. From a panel about the Art & Science of Influence Management.
    • Great point that makes it less about the self and more about the team/company/project!
  • Line length in a slide should never be more than 13-15 words.
    • Enough said! :)

 

And for what it’s worth, some of the most engaging connections I had were from randomly putting myself out there. This was a scary tweet to post (and I actually only connected with people that I chatted up in person), but I consistently find it worth it to do stuff like this!

Xcoders rehearsal of my AltConf talk

Xcoders rehearsal of my AltConf talk

I know I’ve been posting videos galore lately, but all the links are coming to me at once! :) Here’s my run-through of the talk I eventually gave at AltConf, for the Seattle Xcoders Meetup.

Three things of note (at least to me):

I know this shirt didn’t read great on camera. I had to rush from work, it sucked. I won’t make this mistake again!

Also in the vanity field, though, I have no idea why this camera is SO unflattering! I feel like it widened me by like 30%, haha. Just watch the slides, OK?

It went over better than you can hear; we didn’t have the audience audio captured so it’s hard to tell when my jokes actually get laughs but I swear they do. However, I gained stage presence and improved and changed the talk A LOT for AltConf, so when I do eventually post that version you should watch it too or just trust that it’s better, haha.

Enjoy!

Donut.JS lightning talk

Donut.JS lightning talk

Back in late May, I spoke at DonutJS, a totally rad Meetup organized by a bunch of Portland tech wonder-folk. It’s such a great and fun community! I highly encourage folks to attend and/or present if they’re in Portland and can swing it.

This was my first-ever public speaking gig! OK, I guess second, since I spoke to a Meetup group of all of three people about social media one time in like 2013. And I’m always the MC of App Camp for Girls in Seattle, and I’ve been leading webinars for my Microsoft job for months. But still, it was my first “someone asked me to speak at a thing and I said yes!” engagement.

It was challenging because I knew I was later going to speak at AltConf, which was a much longer time slot—10 minutes at DonutJS vs. 45 minutes at AltConf. So I had to choose where I wanted to chop things apart and which points I wanted to focus on. In the end, even though the App Camp discussion was more personally meaningful, I thought the online dating failure arc made for a better ten-minute story for a semi-technical audience, so I went with it. I hope you enjoy; I’ll post the longer AltConf version as soon as it’s out!

iMore piece on Apple Watch bands

iMore piece on Apple Watch bands

Hey y’all! In case you missed the tweet, I worked my old Apple Watch band blog post into a piece for iMore this week. Enjoy! (Or rage-comment, if that’s your thing! I employed my good husband to filter the useful constructive criticism so I don’t have to read the parts that make me want to bury the entire internet under a little stone cairn in the backyard and never look back.) Cheers!At least "she" comes first here, right?

 

This picture makes me mad all over again every dang time I see it, heh. But hey, it prompted me to add the category “feminism” which I’ve apparently never done before. So thanks Apple, I guess? :)

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! (?)

Buying vintage stuff online

Buying vintage stuff online

I’ve long been skittish about buying vintage stuff online. But my taste has been skewing more antiques-y over the years, and lots of older furniture is built better than the stuff you can get at a reasonable price point these days. So I’ve been slightly emboldened lately.

I read tips from savvy bloggers like Emily Henderson and Jenny Komenda, and I see loads of curated collections on sites like Chairish and One King’s Lane. I feel like I’ve done my homework. But it’s not enough, people. It’s never enough.

I’m picky, you know? I’m a former software tester.  I’m an online dating coach now. I’m paid to notice the little details other people aren’t bothered by. I often see new products online that look great, but prove disappointing in person. (This is so often the case with Target furniture—little stuff like side tables are fine, but anything you need to sit on or open/close doors/drawers on is worthless.)

So buying a vintage chandelier online was kind of terrifying. But it had to be done! Grant and I have been trying to agree on a new lighting fixture basically since the day we bought our house in 2011. Nothing that we both like was ever in a reasonable budget.

When I spotted this mid-century gem on One King’s Lane for $200-ish, I fretted and dithered, tried to buy it and couldn’t because it was on hold, and eventually managed to snap it up. (I actually researched the brand, Laurel, and saw loads of Laurel Lighting pieces for thousands of bucks on 1st Dibs. So I figured if it didn’t work out in person I could always resell it.)

chandelier

Looks fine, right? Clean and modern and masculine and a little space-agey and mid-century, but not so aggressively so that it feels like it needs a home full of Eames chairs and those retro offset legs I hate so much. Unique but not in-your-face spiky-Sputnik weird. And while the fixture is brass, it’s a soft, brushed brass that fits in with our 1946 home’s hardware without clashing with the adjacent stainless-steel-filled kitchen.

I went out of my way to create contingency plans. I asked One King’s Lane what would happen if the fixture arrived broken, and whether I would in fact be stuck with a no-refunds purchase in that instance. (They said no, though I imagine it’s a real bitch to sort out after the fact.)

I even emailed One King’s Lane for more details about the fixture, since the listing didn’t tell me what size bulbs it took, nor did it show me the top of the fixture (thought it said it was “plug in”).  One King’s Lane reached out to their vintage vendor, who took several days to reply, and all they said was that it took “standard” bulbs and clarified that it had no canopy. They also sent this photo, which I guess was somewhat helpful, maybe? I felt better seeing another shot.

image

When I actually unboxed the thing and put it together (amazed that it arrived in one piece), I discovered that “standard” 60-watt sized bulbs don’t fit under the glass shades. This is *exactly* the kind of shit I emailed about, you know? ;) But 40-watt bulbs with the same “standard” (Type E26) base type fit just fine, so that’s OK.

(However, it *is* harder to find LED bulbs in that size, but I’ve done it before so I know I can do it again, even if I don’t have as much choice regarding LED color temperature at that not-that-standard size. Fine. I’m picky, but I can live with that, even though I still think “standard bulbs” would have been an insufficient/misleading reply for some customers out there. Google a fucking bulb type like I did, ya know?)IMG_2214

The thing is a little less pristine than I’d hope (pardon the cat, who insisted on being in the shot)—two of the legs are wobbly but I can’t figure out where there’s any hardware to tighten them, so I’m not sure if that will annoy us or need tweaking once it’s in place.

The whole thing is covered in a slightly sticky residue on all the metal and wood veneer parts, which is fine, probably, but kinda ew. You couldn’t clean it *before* selling it?

The glass shades have some minor damage/dark gray marks that are not visible in either of the pictures, but they’re subtle enough for me, even with the chips around the top which are more visible in person. The shades are more frosted and less opaque white, but OK. All in all, I think I still like the thing.

The brass chain (not shown to me super well in either pic) is unlacquered, whereas the brass on the actual fixture and most of its pole appears to have a lacquer finish that has protected it from aging. I actually *prefer* the natural patina of unlacquered brass, but it’s kind of annoying that it isn’t consistent, you know? And that that part of the equation really wasn’t clear before making this non-refundable purchase.

I’ll sort it out—I have to buy a canopy anyway, and the gal on Etsy who’s selling me mine gave me the option of buying an untreated brass one and she even said she’d burnish it a bit on her end to get the aging process going. I can look up tutorials and do some weird science experiments to alchemize it into a color that hopefully matches both areas well enough. That actually sounds fun. :)

The quirks, in the end, are acceptable to me. Especially since Grant and I have learned over the years that lighting fixtures are really hard, as evidenced by my overly exhaustive Pinterest lighting board—I dislike “boring” fixtures, Grant often dislikes “interesting” ones, and the only ones we agree on are super weird and like a thousand dollars. So this mid-century Laurel thing is a winner, warts and all.

I’m excited to get my canopy and get this sucker installed—getting this new fixture is the domino that set a bunch of other home improvement projects into motion. Yippee/goodbye money.

But I thought the buying experience kind of sucked, you know? And I just don’t think I’ll be comfortable buying anything again that’s “expensive” vintage if I can’t see it in person. No eBay rugs or Chairish sconces or 1st Dibs furniture (like I could afford it anyway).

Case in point:

milo

 

The other vintage piece I had my eye on from One King’s Lane is this ridiculously cool-seeming pair of Milo Baughman swivel chairs that are bafflingly well priced. We really need chairs that have a small footprint and low back, swivel to face the TV or the rest of the room as context demands, and are comfy enough for our giant bodies to sit and relax in. And ideally, you know, look amazing and coordinate with our existing stuff and don’t cost a ton.

Here’s how much help I got (same One King’s Lane form response as with the chandelier; emphasis mine:)

I have contacted the vendor and requested more information about the Milo Baughman Swivel Chairs, Pair. I will contact you as soon as I hear back from them, but it may take more than one business day. Please keep in mind that our sales typically last 72 hours and quantities are limited.

We want you to love every purchase you make at One Kings Lane. Unfortunately we are unable to cancel orders or accept returns on nonreturnable items.

I get that their hands are kind of tied here. I get that vintage reselling is hard. But that policy just feels like I can’t ever buy anything that needs to be sat in or messed with or tested, you know?

The chairs I have in mind are listed as being brown, but they look sort of red-orange to me. Red-orange we kind of like; it matches our rug. Brown we don’t; it doesn’t. A swatch would be amazing, but I’d settle for being told the fabric name and manufacturer so I can track down my own swatch (which takes time).

They’re listed as having all new upholstery, but it doesn’t specify if the foam/springs/etc. was also replaced or just the fabric. A chair with new foam/padding is probably comfy. A chair with 1960s foam and janky old springs probably isn’t.

The site lists their overall dimensions, but it doesn’t list the height, width, or depth of the seats, nor the heights of the armrests. We of House Roberts are giants, with tall bodies and wide asses. Dimensions matter a lot for us.

My first email about these chairs was March 27th. I don’t expect a reply that fully satisfies my every picky question within a time frame that would allow me to purchase these chairs, which I’m not sure I’d be comfortable doing sight unseen/ass unsat even if all the answers pleased me. Sigh.

I can’t shake the feeling that I’m the weirdo here. It sort of feels like how I held off on depositing checks with my phone until just a few months ago. Is buying old/nonreturnable stuff online just something everyone else is comfortable doing, and I’m the old-school brick-and-mortar holdout here? Or is it only fancy design bloggers who feel comfortable taking these retail risks?

If you care a lot about interior design, would you buy that perfect vintage piece online if you couldn’t inspect it in person, knowing it wasn’t returnable? Under what circumstances? Humor me! :)

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.

Quit lying about cords and cables

Quit lying about cords and cables

Something has really been bugging me lately. As I’ve become increasingly obsessed with fancy shelter magazines and blogs in my quest to beautify our home, I’ve come to realize that those publications totally bullshit their readers.

The glossing over of cables and heaters and vents is as maddeningly deceptive to me as celebrities Photoshopping out their imperfections. I feel like all these helpful make-your-home-nice guides are presenting a completely unrealistic standard by hiding every cord and cable in their perfectly uninhabitable but elegant spaces.

Emily Henderson offered a helpful peek into that world in her recent post. I’m OK with some tweaks to sell a pretty magazine—like Photoshopping out how that one console thing totally bowed in the middle (I guess). I’m also fine with contrived styling for a perfect shot—I mean, I like when Emily posts realistic shots side by side to give a dose of reality, but I accept that a stylist and designer is mainly going to post designed and styled images.

Right = truth, left = LIES. (All images via Emily Henderson’s blog.)

But I dislike LIES (which were clearly at Domino’s behest, not Emily’s. I don’t fault her, I fault the industry!) Little beautifications I get. But removing unsightly but NECESSARY elements like heaters and cords pisses me off on principle; it’s like pretending we don’t have electricity or indoor plumbing. These innovations have an aesthetic tax. Admit it, embrace it, and show me how to work around it, dammit!

Anyway, in my reality, heaters and cords exist and it sucks. Heaters can be hard to work around, for sure. I’m glad we now live in a home with forced air vents instead of baseboard heaters—those are both ugly and a major fire hazard! We just have to get stuff that sits up on legs and allows heaters to flow air underneath.

But oh, the cords. THE CORDS! Cord management is my single biggest annoyance in the two rooms I care most about, appearances-wise—our living room and my office.

Here, for example, is my new media console solution, complete with the consoles that mainly belong to my video game designer of a husband:

Trust me that this is the Extremely Pretty version.

Looks busy but decent enough, right? (Try to ignore the giant white cable on the right; I refuse to/have no idea how to Photoshop it out. It’ll be gone once we rewire the outlet because blah blah 1947 house.)

And here it is in relation to our TV, in case that helps explain the context of the entire space and its constraints:

Bonus points for noticing the crooked Wii sensor bar!

But here’s my secret efforts to make it look even this okay:

Don't even get me STARTED about how no blogs ever show rooms with honeycomb blinds like these.

See? There’s a huge mass of cables I’ve only somewhat concealed. You can see them if you look at the whole console at a fully level height, but it’s so low that mostly you can only see the tangle back there when you’re sitting on the couch and deliberately looking for cords. Possible, but not super likely.

Oh, and here’s my other sneaky trick: be careful with those curtains!

HUZZAH!

Yeah, these lightweight silk curtains are kind of puffed out from the wall because they’re basically concealing an entire R2D2 chassis width of just cable knots back there.

If I lived my life in the Domino Universe, I could just magically wish away these sorts of mortal tech-loving concerns. Instead, I spent hundreds on curtains plus hardware for the entire space in part to disguise this sort of cordage. I obsessively measured and fretted for months and pinned media storage solutions that were low-profile and kept that space feeling light and airy enough but still offered enough storage to fit all our consoles, somehow, yet breathed enough to let them all vent sufficiently (a real problem that glass-doored media consoles fail to address, FYI) and allowed our heater to heat. I stacked books and arranged lamps and pretty baskets filled with DVDs to conceal the worst of the cords. And it’s still nowhere near as schmancy as a magazine would tolerate. Which I’m OK with, but I wish they were, too!

I would MUCH rather buy a magazine that showed me expensive but insanely clever tricks for, say, building cord-management conduits directly into your walls, than faking that they just didn’t exist. Hell, I have this entire board of TV and media console disguises. I ought to start a board just for managing cord concealment options. Domino sure as hell isn’t going to do it for me!

ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ Unicode madness

ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ Unicode madness

*Disclaimer* Unicode is not well supported in some browsers, especially on mobile. This is tricky since this entire post is about Unicode. I’m sorry your eyes might have to see ugly unsupported squares or blank spaces instead of the proper pretty entities I intended. If you’re interested in reading, soldier on; the characters in the actual list at the end are better supported than the letters that spell out the Apple Watch in the first paragraph. You can do it! Harass your favorite web dev about this today; they’ll *love* it!

Hey nerds! The recent iPhone and ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ announcement has most people in my Twitter feed geeking out over how to write “ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ” all fancy like Apple did. (In fact, my live tweet during the event explaining how to make the  character is my most popular tweet yet. Crazy, eh?)

For years I’ve been rocking an increasingly lengthy Special Characters note, which syncs across all my ᴅᴇᴠɪᴄᴇs. A few of these can be accessed via native keyboards like the Japanese one, but with iOS 8’s new keyboard capabilities I find it much easier to just stick the useful characters (mainly just the empty and full stars for fake review snark) here and delete the Japanese keyboard I never use for actual kana anyway.

Note that these Unicode characters aren’t the same thing as Emoji (that’s a whole separate ranty post) so I find they’re usually more annoying to obtain via typical channels such as an emoji app or keyboard. Copying and pasting from the note has been a pretty good solution for me so far.

The second most recent (penultimecent?) Overtired episode  made reference to writing ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ out all fancy-like, so I thought Christina and Brett might appreciate my little list. (Heck, maybe Brett will decide to make a cool tool for it.) But then I was like, wait a minute… I send this list to tweeps and coworkers and clients about three times a year. I finally realized that maybe I should just blog it (duh).

Here are my favorites with my use case annotations, followed by my semi-exhaustive list and a Unicode smallcaps converter link I stumbled upon. I’ve added and removed things over the years to try to keep it mostly useful; I keep paring down different styles of arrows.

What characters am I missing? What would you add, or what do you constantly use and hate fiddling around to find? I’d love to know!

My frequently used Unicode characters

‽ = Interrobang
Marco Arment used this in a tweet at me once (I forget what about) and it inspired me to start up this doc. I also have a keyboard shortcut turning ?! and !? into ‽, so I don’t have to keep track of which one is valid, haha. (Nerds who are nerdy enough to know the difference but not nerdy enough to implement the Unicode shortcut surely exist and might set me straight.) This character is great for expressing baffled wonderment and the like, but I really wish Apple knew how to enforce an initial capital letter following it. Anyone know a hack for THAT?*

∞ = Infinity
I use this all the time as character-saving hyperbole. Like this tweet about my first babysitting experience in about a decade, to estimate the number of diapers changed. (Better than a smiling poo pile emoji, right?)

® ™ © = Legalese
I like using these for snarky fake product, company, and slogan jokes. Maybe you like using them to actually respect trademark guidelines, or ironically imply deferential respect to a brand you hate (or genuinely imply it to one you actually like but if that’s the case I’m not 100% clear as to why you enjoy reading my blog tbh).

∴ ≠ ≤ ≥ = Logic and Math Stuff
I like these (therefore, not equal to, less than or equal to, and greater than or equal to) for character-saving shorthand when making a point on Twitter. Remember, kids, don’t actually argue on the Internet if you enjoy your life. Jokey arguments only.

I just thought of this one

♯ = Sharp
I’ve never actually done this, but I just realized you might be able to use this instead of a hash character if you want to shorthand numbers or ironic hashtags or something without it converting to actual hashtag syntax in social media environments. So I’m adding that here in case it solves some weird problem you sort of had. I can’t believe I gave it a <h3> section either.

The list

Just copy from “Special Characters” through the URL, omitting the snarky footnote inelegantly implemented at the end of this post. I’m sorry/you’re welcome.

Special characters


®

©

ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ

°




·




¢


























α
β
Ξ
ξ
Γ
γ
Δ
δ
Π
π
ε
ζ
Σ
σ
ς
η
τ
Θ
θ
ι
Φ
φ
κ
χ
Λ
λ
Ψ
ψ
Μ
μ
Ω
ω
































http://fsymbols.com/generators/smallcaps/

 

*If the answer is 26 individual keyboard shortcut hacks for each instance of it plus a letter, or 52 for each instance of !? and ?! plus each letter if you can’t stack two shortcuts together, then congrats! You are officially nerdier/more patient than I am. Come type them in on my giant 6 Plus that I hope to obtain soon and I’ll give you some free online dating advice in exchange. Look, I don’t mean to profile, but it’s possible you need it if this is how you spend your time. Single 20s Me can totally relate.