I've moved to stevebanfield.net. Why haven't you?
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
Eventually it may get there, but right now I'm typing this post on the latest version of the iPad Blogger app. There are no formatting options thought I can set a location, a label and pull in photos. I can't even create a link inside this post. As nice and clean as it is this is 2012. Google should be doing MUCH better than this. (BTW Google I'm happy to come help you figure out how to fix this whenever you are)
So today, when I was kicking off the "great tablet experiment" I was trying to blog about it and I finally just hit the wall with Blogger. As patient as I am there's just no reason for Google's blogging platform to be this limited from any mobile device.
Last year I imported all the old blog posts (dating back to 2007) into a Wordpress site. The idea at the time was to import into Wordpress, export out into a format Blogger could read and then consolidate everything here. Instead I've imported all my Blogger posts into Wordpress, moved my domain name over and this will be the last post I put here.
I have been trying to get the domain www.closingthebarndoor.com pointed to Wordpress. Unfortunately since it was bought through Google and is part of a Google Apps domain, it's a real pain to manage through enom. So at least for a while stevebanfield.me will be the default blog domain. While there's a lot of work to do over there including fixing my About and Bio pages, customizing the template and getting the right sharing links up and running I'm hopeful that this will be the last move my blog ever needs to do.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Thursday, November 15, 2012
In parallel to this growing archive of imagery I've been moving slowly and steadily away from storing all this information locally. A large Google drive has become my backup in the cloud for all kinds of files including every one of my photos. I've been using Picasa (on the Mac) for local photo management and the idea was that syncing that library to my Google storage would make it easily browsable on all my online devices where I could grab any photo I wanted to display, edit, and share.
There are lots of ways to share a single picture, or even a collection of them. Flickr, 500px, Facebook, Google, Apple's Photo Stream. All of them work great if you have decided which pictures you want to share and just want to publish those out to the world. When you're dealing with an online collection like this one it just all falls apart.
Try this experiment yourself. Upload a lot of folders to Picasa/Google+ photos. Make sure it's more than enough to fill multiple screens so that you have to scroll down in the browser. Make a change to the last folder in the group and boom! You're pushed back to the top of the list with the most recent folders.
That logic is only good if you assume that I'm taking lots of photos and really only want to work on the ones from the last week or month. The right UX experience would be to leave me exactly where I was, seeing the photos or folders that I was looking at before I took an action. Don't just kick me out to the top of the list!
Now try to load those hundreds of albums on a tablet. Sometimes they load, sometimes not. Sort by time works ok, but what about by name or upload date? There are some great apps out there for editing photos on tablets and phones. There are even some good apps for viewing your online and local albums but are there really no good apps for large scale photo management online?
I'm now off on a quest. I'm going to try both SmugMug and the new Photobucket to see if they have what it takes. Right now I'm less and less interested in Picasa, and I worry about being locked into iOS/Mac if I try to use iCloud/iPhoto.
Anyone have a better suggestion?
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
When people talk about startups, too often they speak about the successes, the opportunity, all the positives. Too often people forget to mention that for every startup that succeeds the vast majority don't and those that do survive past their initial funding often go through a series of tough changes.
So while I sit here watching the election returns it's time to let everyone know that I've left Korrio, effective last week.
Korrio continues to grow and successfully build out their business selling a software as a service (SaaS) platform to youth sports organizations around the country. Korrio's enterprise platform is in great shape with a host of compelling new scheduling, team management and communication features that we've built since I joined in 2011. The product and mobile design work I was able to do with Cecil Juanarena (of Found) was completed and is rolling out to customers. Unfortunately Korrio has to match expenses to revenues, like all smart businesses, so myself and a few others were downsized last week.
So what's next? I've talked to a few recruiters and am actively engaging my full network. Certainly I'd love to stay in Seattle but am open to looking for new roles just about anywhere. I love working on consumer products and services, with digital and social media, so there's a lot of opportunities out there. Until I find something full time I'll continue to work in consulting roles on the west coast.
I'm excited for the new challenge and all the great companies and people I'll meet during this process. Korrio has a great team and it was a real pleasure working with them. I wish them all the best and expect to see good things from Korrio in the future.
Friday, September 28, 2012
I bought an iPhone 5. It came this week. It is fast and thin and works great, especially now that it's sporting LTE.
I had a Motorola Droid RAZR. I got it last November through a screaming deal on Amazon Wireless. It had 4G LTE. It was fast and thin and worked ok. But I believed. I bought into the idea that now that Google owned Motorola the updates would be coming all the time. I believed. And I waited.
I'd overcome my bad history of the original Nexus (nice device but limited memory), my sense of abandonment by Dell and their 5" Streak and my love hate relationships Android 2.x and 3.0. Despite all that I wrote online about preferring Android to iOS. I liked the customizable home screens, the growing number of apps, and the joy of using any old micro-USB cable to charge the phone.
Finally Verizon and Motorola got around to updating the RAZR to Android 4.0, just a few weeks before the faster, better Android 4.1 came out. I thought I could deal with the phone freezing while trying to dial out. Google Voice crashes? No big deal. Dealing with a Gmail app that doesn't provide an integrated inbox? All the better to keep my personal and work mails separate.
The thing that really opened my eyes to the POS that the Verizon/Moto/Google combo had created was buying the Nexus 7. It had the latest OS. It was faster. It worked, things just snapped. The whole product was a joy to use. I hadn't planned on upgrading to the new iPhone. My contract wasn't up and I've long since stopped being an Apple fanboy. But I did it anyway.
I needed an iPhone for some app development I'm doing (nothing fancy, just playing around for now) and after swiping to answer yet another call with the RAZR only to have it look like nothing had happened while the caller is screaming "Hello?" from the other end it was time to embrace the Dark Side. I came. I ordered. I have beheld it's shiny blackness.
I'm still an Android fan, for some things. I love the Nexus 7 and I'm writing this post on an ASUS Transformer Infinity (another device still waiting for an upgrade). However Apple really had created what may be the best phone ever. It works, despite the limitations of iOS, and it works well.
I can't say the same for my history of Android phones.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
That's why I feel that while I take photos, but am not a photographer.
Yesterday I'd left work to grab lunch and then run home to walk the dogs quickly. After all that I was in my car turning the corner from Yesler, headed back to work. That's when I saw him.
It might have been a really interesting street photo. A young African-American man, tall, trim and well dressed with a crisp shirt and vest. He had a guitar slung across his back, fedora-style hat tipped forward and was lighting a cigarette in front of the local beer & chips mart.
It could have been a great shot. Maybe he was a busker going to ply the tourists in Pioneer Square. He could have been a musician playing in Occidental Park for the lunch crowd.
I won't know.
There was even a parking space right in front of the market. I had my new Fujifilm X-100 with me.
I kept driving.
There were things to do back at the office. It wouldn't do for me to be gone too long. What if I'd asked for his picture and he'd said no?
A photographer would have stopped. Maybe the shots would have not turned out, or the subject wouldn't have cooperated. A photographer would have tried to get the shot. In black and white, the cool musician resting between performances in front of the busy, dirty store.
I can see the photo now.
I am not a photographer.
Next time I will stop.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Sometimes it's pretty scarce. In fact for me it's seemed to be almost non-existent. There's been a lot of change going on -- moving, unpacking, building, writing, working out. It's hard to find time to just focus on one thing completely.
I'm a big fan of open offices despite their drawbacks. I've worked in startups that have offices, mostly for senior staff, as well those that are completely open with just shared conference rooms. That's Korrio's current layout. For the startup as a whole, I think open layouts are much better. Communication is improved and there's a sense of equality instilled when everyone's using the same desk in the same space.
For the startup it's better. Not always so much for me.
In my experience there's a big downside to such an open environment. Interruptions. It's just too easy for someone to walk across the room to ask "Can I ask a question?" or for someone to lean over their desk to yell "Hey Steve, just a quick question!" In my case it's worse because I'm not only the Chief Product Officer I am the ONLY Product Officer. Product design issues and our consumer experience strategy is my responsibility so every group from sales to customer service to the development team is coming by my desk constantly.
Paul Graham wrote in 2009 about "maker" vs "manager" schedules and workflows. Makers in his example were people like programmers who have a need for long stretches of uninterrupted time to find their creative flow. Time to think, to turn a problem over and over again until the right solution presents itself. Managers may be the ones calling meetings and setting schedules are most often working by exception. Managers are set up to react when things aren't going exactly to plan. Interruptions are more easily tolerated by managers. It's in the nature of the job to allocate time for a meeting, react to the unexpected phone call, then go back to the email inbox list for the next problem to tackle.
As the only "product guy" in a small startup, I have to try to live between both kinds of schedules.
For me writing anything new, whether it's a blog post, a sales documents or especially any kind of user stories or specs really requires time to focus on it. Small bursts of attention interspersed with questions from colleagues or phone calls make it hard to really do the best work. Just when you get into a flow, being pulled away kills creativity.
Brad Feld wrote earlier this year about this. He called it the "monastic startup" which he defined as
The monastic startup is a place where engineers do the best work of their lives. This place involves work with long stretches of uninterrupted time.This combination of long stretches of uninterrupted time is too often at odds with startup "open office" design. In fact it can be at odds with trying to create a startup culture of openness and communication. One person's communication is another person's interruption. Finding the right balance, especially for people to bridge the gap between manager and maker, between creative and operational is a special thing in a startup. Very few startup cultures master it at first and it takes a rare kind of organization to achieve it.
How do you find time to balance your needs for maker and manager time? Do you shut the office door or work away from the office? Can you find balance at home or in a coffee shop that you can't find in the office, and with email, phones and Skype are you really ever free of interruptions?
I know that "maker time" is an absolute requirement this fall. There are too many new design efforts, too much creativity needed to tolerate being constantly interrupted.
If I don't answer the phone, that's where I'll be.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Anchors can serve two purposes. First they can keep you steady, providing a base from which you can steady yourself to do great things. An anchor can keep you from drifting by helping you focus on just a few things instead of floating all over. Without an anchor the exec has to constantly keep their "hand on the tiller", course correcting the ship.
But anchors aren't always a good thing. By definition an anchor limits your movements which for a startup can be the difference between fast growth and slow death. Anchor in the wrong place, to the wrong customer, and you'll never get to the better fishing spot. Anchors may make you feel too safe and keep you from venturing out on the open water where there might be a more opportunity over the horizon.
When you find those first customers for your startup, what kind of anchor are they going to be?