Apple Bluetooth Keyboard Hack

Apple’s Photos app crashed during export.

My old Apple bluetooth keyboard has been wonky for some time – I initially blamed some weird kind of wireless interference at my China office but realized when typing that either it or my desk was crooked. It wouldn’t be unheard of for wooden things to get all warped in my house in Taiwan, all my shelves are. It was the keyboard, which I guess got bent from my overstuffing my carryon, during one of my recent flights. While I would love to have a new Apple keyboard, the exorbitant prices make a little paper and tape hack far more acceptable.


Book section ‘fixed’

The last few times I casually visited my page of books, browsing the pages in your own website can only be the result of procrastination, I noticed how the display was more askew than normal. Quick looks at source gave no answers and I silently cursed myself for letting my web development skills fall into a state of uselessness. As it turns out, it had nothing to do with my quirky source but everything to do with a conflict with Pinterest’s Safari extension. Thanks Pinterest, and goodbye extension.

My books section is a curated list of books I have relied upon, read, referenced, used as a doorstop, in an effort to give myself a decent education into the field of user experience and design.


Of course, teen behavior is a product, at least in part, of parental attitudes. As a father myself, I recognized a number of widespread smartphone- and social media-oriented habits that I have internalized myself and inadvertently presented to my kids as acceptable behavior. These include, of course, an addictive propensity to check one’s smartphones, often at the expense of remaining present in real world situations; the habit of sleeping with a phone by one’s bedside or even with the phone in bed; and the reflex of looking at the phone before literally any other function upon waking up in the morning. These have all become normalized over the past decade, and it’s pretty clear they’re not doing much good for anybody.
Are Smartphones, Social Media—and Designers—Ruining Teenagers?


Creativity is hard work

Despite stories of lightning-bolt revelations, creativity often requires time and effort. We are all creative.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi found that insight is only one step out of many that creatives move through before their idea can come to fruition. Ideas can only emerge after a foundation has been prepared and left to germinate for a while.

In order to get the best out of the process, it can be better to have a number of projects going simultaneously. This may allow all your ideas to have the necessary amount of time to develop while you work on others. Or after capturing your idea, leave it and come back to it at later date.

One common method which I have is to try to capture as many ideas each day as possible, most aren’t that good or that feasible, but later when I flip through my sketchbook, a solution to a problem might be found.


In an effort to speed up iterations and get prototypes in from of peoples eyes much sooner, I spent significant time this past year trying to convince the team to both pare down their documentation and form a studio approach to collaboration. I hadn’t realized that this strategy fell under the lean UX umbrella. But as I read through Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf it seems like a convenient label.

… the lean start-up method to product design, a strategy that implies fast-paced experimentation and validation. It works like this: Prototypes are turned out as fast as possible to test market assumptions early on. This early testing then generates feedback almost instantly, telling you what works and what doesn’t. This way, inaccurate assumptions and weak ideas can be scrapped with little effect, freeing up the resources for your best ideas to flourish.

… design processes normally involve a design team being briefed by someone else, and subsequently creating a product based on this secondhand information. If the design doesn’t work, it is then sent back for reworking, a process that can go on forever

Lean UX gets around this problem by putting designers to work with other employees right away, allowing the team to fix problems immediately and move the process along. Consider a designer and a developer going back and forth in an informal dialogue to design a dashboard. It takes them a few sketches and adjustments but they soon agree on a design. The designer is then free to iron out the specifics, while the developer writes the infrastructural code.
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Apple Music’s Visual Mess

I can guess who Apple is trying to appeal to with using Emoji art to represent themes in the browse playlist section but it certain adds to what I can only describe as a visual mess; actually visual diarrhea might be a better term. A strong structure is undermined by lack of visual direction. I guess this is acceptable to the Snapchat generation?

Unrelated, why does Apple after having data of my musical tastes for so many years, still serve me music recommendations that I would never have any interest in?


6 points on mobile UX

Some key points from 15 Mobile UX Facts & Insights (2017), that are relevant to what I am working on lately.

  1. Cellphones are ubiquitous. A Pew Research report suggests that 95% of Americans own a cellphone; around 77% of U.S. adults own a smartphone, which is up from 68% from last year’s report. Smartphone ownership rate is highest in South Korea (88%) and lowest in Ethiopia (4%). This rate also varies by age, with 97-98% of millennials (18-34) owning a smartphone.
  2. Mobile applications are predominantly used for killing time, but a large percentage of online shopping now happen on mobile phones. Mobile commerce is expected to reach 45% of the e-commerce market or $284 billion by 2020.
  3. People use their phones around 80 times each day; 69% of digital time is spent on mobile, versus 31% on desktop.
  4. Mobile delays are worse than standing in line and are considered more stressful than watching horror movies!
  5. On average around 27 apps are used per month and around 6-10 are used in a week.  People spend, on average, about 40 hours a month on their mobile apps. Women spend, on average,about 42 hours a month, whereas men spend 39 hours a month. App usage also varies by age. Smartphone users, ages 18-24, access around 25 apps per month. 25-49 year olds access 28 apps, 50-60 year olds access 25 apps, and 65+ access an average of 21 apps per month.
  6. Though portrait orientation is slightly more preferred to landscape (60% versus 40%), users noted that how they hold their devices depends both on the device size and on the activity, such as watching videos, playing games, reading, or web browsing. This may be changing.

HR is a reflection of a company’s culture

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”— Buddha

I just got off WeChat with my former company’s HR representative. I dread seeing anything from them, and though I am always polite, I’m sure they at the least think I am difficult, likely worse.

This time it’s about flight reimbursements which were part of my contract. Many were unable to receive this part of their offer, for one reason or another, and warned me not to expect it. I wasn’t concerned as I didn’t stress the financial side of our agreement, as I should have.

Of course the rules were never explicitly stated on how to get reimbursed, perhaps due to negligence, or perhaps a clever method to not have to pay. More likely a symptom of a bureaucratic system mired in fixed procedures, in which no single person is aware. Empathy is in short supply.

I realize my perception is overly negative.

This distrust came as a result of a deeply flawed on-boarding process which poisoned what could have been a normal working relationship. They became the adversary, not a collaborator. Imagine if all contact with HR was positive, professional, constructive, and helpful. That would set a different tone. Unfortunately that wasn’t the experience I had.

I also don’t work well with long restrictive rules, a major part of the company’s and China’s culture. I work best in a human centered approach that treats people with respect.

In the end I see this as a failure on my part, to not maintain an air of positivity when working within a strict bureaucracy, despite all the bad experiences. To let bad situations overly influence my thinking, and not be my usual easy-going self.

Positivity helps develop a mental capacity that allows us to adapt with ease during adversity, to develop a set of powerful mental traits that allow us to have faith, courage and a ‘letting it happen’ attitude to cope with the crap that comes our way.

Smile and don’t dwell on the negative.

Perhaps a read of The Power of Positive Thinking is in order.


System innovations almost always involve rejecting the standard metrics as a first step in making a difference. When you measure the same metrics, you’re likely to create the same outcomes. But if you can see past the metrics to the results, it’s possible to change the status quo.
Seth Godin

Applicable to more than just measuring performance of your business ….


Resident Visa Journey

My Taiwan ARC expired while I was in China this year (the misfortunes due to that adventure continue to mount), and with trips to Thailand and Canada, I couldn’t get to Taiwan for any length of time to renew it. So I’ve found myself flying in and out of here on Visa exempt stamps. Which is fine, but not having an ARC (Alien Resident Certificate) means also no health coverage. Taking advantage of Taiwan’s excellent health care system before I return to Prince Edward Island is a priority, as PEI is better known as the land of “wait a year or more for a simple check up”.

It’s been years since I’ve had to apply for any kind of Visa here in Taiwan and I had forgotten all the rules and regulations. I figured I would have to fly to Hong Kong but the TECO office website there has depreciated from awful to really awful, so I relied on the wisdom of the internet to fill me in on the process. To my delight I was informed that you can apply for a resident visa in Taiwan, and since I vaguely remember doing so in years past, I set off to Taipei today. I ignored others advice and didn’t call ahead, part of my general aversion to talking on the phone; email replies from the Taiwan government are about as rare as they are in PEI.

When I arrived the whole process was about as informal as you would expect here (bless you Taiwan), and the official helping me was as polite any you would meet.

I was planning on applying for residency based on my wife’s employment but unfortunately you cannot get said visa in Taiwan when you arrive on a different date than your spouse. These little details, which I’m sure make sense somehow, matter. You can however get a resident visa if you gain employment.

So I am off to Hong Kong (I had a ticket booked already), or perhaps I can delay the process until November to coincide with a marathon in Bangkok.