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“Reading” is a struggle for me

Oddly, this is something I’ve never publicly mentioned before, nor have I randomly come across it in my own web searches.

But:

“Reading” is a struggle for me.

It is, quite literally, the hardest thing I do ever day.

And as someone who writes computer code for a living, and has to spend much of my life, every day, reading to learn and keep abreast of new development and news, it may seem surprising.

But when you think about it: reading is not a natural skill humans possess.

It is something people have to be taught, learn and practise.

And I believe (base on past reading, ironically) it is something that was once designed to separate classes of people.

I am not ashamed to say reading is a major difficulty for me.

Recall memory is another even bigger problem I deal with every day.

Ironically, I write a lot down to remember.

But have a great visual memory (and no, written words are not “visual”. I can’t tell you why, but it don’t correlate for me).
I have an “index” mind, meaning I know where to find what I have once seen quite easily.
And even though I forget nouns (especially people’s names), I never forge a face.

And I’m the the person strangers will approach on an intersection to ask for directions or help.

All this to say: it’s OK to struggle with so-called “simple every day tasks.

The people who truly master reading – especially fast reading – are rare.
They also master high skilled jobs, like: lawyers; politicians; scientists (?); certain types of information workers.
But they are the exception we hear about, not the rule.

The rest of us struggle.
Every. Single. Day.

I call it “brute forcing my way through life”.
We may look smart.
We may look like we know what we’re doing.
But it’s brute force and adaptation that makes it look that way.

Reading is hard.
Learning is harder.
Both are learnt skills.

Accepting and figuring out how to adapt will set you free and give you a hand in stay ahead.

Parcel.js “ENOENT: no such file or directory” on build

Problem

Running Parcel.js build command (e.g. I run `npm run dev` script) to build and start the site with generates an error similar to the following:

D:\Workspaces\my-project\my-folder\my-file.vue: ENOENT: no such file or directory, open 'D:\Workspaces\my-project\my-folder\my-file.vue'
Error: ENOENT: no such file or directory, open 'D:\Workspaces\my-project\my-folder\my-file.vue'

Solution

Delete the .cache and dist folders and re-run the build command.

References

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/59196917/parcel-bundler-enoent-no-such-file-or-directory-when-delete-files-from-projec

Feedback to Microsoft Teams

Sharing some feedback I provided within the Microsoft Teams app.

Hello,

Just wanted to give a few thoughts after a couple of months of using Teams.

* It would be great to separate “Chats” with individuals from groups.

* It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to start a new chat with someone in the desktop app – the little icon up the top beside the search bar is out of context of the existing chats, and “blends in” to the background.

* Not having threads in a conversation (ie. replies to a specific comment) is a big pain in the backside. I’m forever chatting across multiple ideas and tracking what is being replied to gets problematic.

* You really need to include the standard emoji set. The old Skype for Business emojis are good not nowhere near enough. And the “Emoji One” integration is half-baked. I only stumbled on it by typing “:th …”, but it has no search, and typing “:P” automatically inserts the Skype “tongue out” icon. It might not seem important, but our team is quite expressive with emojis.

Maybe it’s because I come from using Slack for 4 years, but Teams doesn’t feel as simple or slick. Sorry to say it, but you really need to up the game to compete with Slack, especially now in a highly remote workforce.

Are you a Microsoft Teams user? What are your thoughts and gripes on the usability of the application?

In a rare occurrence, I’m opening up comments on this post.

UPDATE – 4 OCT 20202: Comments are closed. Too much SPAM. Sheesh, 2020 Internet people suck.

Limoncello Recipe

This is mainly a note for myself to quickly access the Limoncello recipes I’ve been using.

 

I’m currently resting my first Stage 1 jar:

Spellchecking “amateur” (from “ameture”)

My brain is somewhat fucked in a number of ways. One of those ways is dealing with words – yes, reading and writing.

A specific problem I have is remembering the spelling of a handful of words I use semi-regularly.

And one of those words is “amateur” (correct spelling).

After a time I ways revert to spelling it as “ameture” (incorrect spelling).

I know this is incorrect, and every time I wait for software spellcheckers to pick it up… and every time they fail.

Which begs the question: what is wrong with spellcheckers?

Surely the incorrect spelling is close enough to the correct spelling – in both sound and structure – to have a common rule?

Vue.js (2.x) v-model not updating for jQuery plugin input

Problem

I have a range slider HTML input (<input type="range">) I’ve inherited that uses the rangeslider.js jQuery plugin to render it.

I’m re-integrating it into a Vue.js (v2.x) project and using v-model to bind to the input.

However, to change the range value the user doesn’t interact directly with the HTML element but a rendered overlay which in turn changes the input value.

The problem is the v-model value was not updating when the range overlay is dragged to change the value.

 

Solution

My inherited code contained the following event handlers on the input elements.

$document.on('input', 'input[type="range"]', function(e) {
	valueOutput(e.target);
});

 

I added the following bold line to the called valueOutput() function.

function valueOutput(element) {
	element.dispatchEvent(new Event('input'));
}

The dispatchEvent ensures Vue is now aware of the change to the input.

 

I found this solution vis this StackOverflow answer: https://stackoverflow.com/a/56348565/115704 (article “How to change v-model value from JS“).

Bad UX and Death by a Thousand Cuts

I’ve recently been thinking about the phrase “death by a thousand cuts” for the cumulative effect of bad UX experiences daily across different tech and services.
I seem to be a major sufferer of this problem, where almost everything I use has a minor or major aggravation,

Case in point, I just literally threw my phone on a table after a walk because

  1. it decided to reboot itself when I walked out the front door and wanted to play a podcast;
  2. I lost service – yet again – and had to reboot, yet again;
  3. it turned onto accessibility mode and I had to Google how to turn it off when I got home.

Or, trying to do emojis in Teams after you’ve used Slack?

  1. you can’t do standard emojis;
  2. typing “:” starts the joyemoji, which seems half-baked, and has no search, and
  3. when you type “:p” automatically used the original Skype emoji tongue out.

What product developers fail to realise is a small design or UX annoyance in their product is not isolated – at least, not for the user. For a user perspective is “one more” issues in a larger set of products they have to deal with. When you come that across a day and a week, that makes for a lot of extra work, effort, unnecessary attention and not to mention aggravation for the person.

Hey.com: Feedback on why I’m not going ahead with it

Two weeks ago I managed to receive an invite to the new email service Hey.com from Basecamp. I heard Kara Swisher interview Jason Fried about the service and was excited to give it a try.

I knew a full switch to Hey was not likely, even in the next 12 months, but I am a huge user of email subscriptions for news and updates and wanted to see if I could separate all those emails into a different service to start.

Alas, after 7 days I realised Hey is not yet for me. The UX (user experience) just isn’t there yet.

To be clear, I have purchased my first year subscription, primarily to secure the email address for the future. But I have undone all my email subscription changes.

I’m still 100% behind Hey and Basecamp in this venture. I think email needs a revamp and recognise Hey is still very early days. I have also provided feedback to Hey support as to my issues with the service at this time and wanted to that message here, in its entirety.

 

5 July 2020 8:40am

Hello,

I wanted to provide some feedback.

I was excited to join Hey, however, now that my 2 week trial is almost over I have decided not to continue with the service, and I wanted to provide some feedback on what predominantly does not work for me.

That being said, I have just paid my first year in order to ensure I retain the email address (for security reasons).

Ultimately it comes down to UX.

Hey’s UX is too divergent from what I’m used to with email. And while it certainly has some interesting ideas I hope to see succeed, my 25+ years of using email is a large weight of experience to compete against.

To be clear, I recognise my UX issues are very “personal” to me and how I work, and not necessarily work how your majority customer base works.
I also understand that Hey is “wildly opinionated”, but for me it’s a little too opinionated for the most important service I use.

(NB: I am also a software developer with an interest in software design/UX)

Specifically, the things that work against me are.

* “Imbox”. I don’t know what it is but I find that word really annoying.
I know the meaning of the word but every time I see it, it feels “wrong”.
Perhaps it’s my dyslexia or just a peculiar mind, but my brain struggles against the word and tries to convert it to “Inbox”.
Also, it is so a prominent as a title on the page. All the major page titles feel so unnecessarily BIG on the page (high visual weight) and compete for my attention all the time.

* I live through in my emails. I read, sort, organise and categorise.
major element I use is labels/folders. And I switch through them regularly. Having access to labels through a hidden menu (click 1), then a separate page listing them (click 2) is frustrating. Basically labels in Hey are useless for me because it’s too much work to get to them.

* Having the Imbox auto-sort in “last accessed” order is disorienting. I expect to see emails in reverse chronological order by default. Sorting by last accessed is a great idea, but not by default.

* I’d like the option to switch between my sort orders, including dates, titles and sender.

* I use stars/flags a lot in visually tag and group emails and that’s sorely missed with Hey.

* Seeing sent messages mixed with received messages in the Imbox/Previously Seen list  is strange and too much clutter. I need to see my sent messages <1% of the time and I’m happy to access them via a “thread” view or separate “Sent” list. They don’t need to be in my face

* The visual weight of the colour profile circle in the message list is just too much. Same for the “Hey” menu and my own profile menu.
When I scan the page my eye goes to the most prominent feature on the page, which at the moment is the profile icon.
I want my eye to be focused on the message titles, which it probably about the 3rd highest weight on the page.
In fact, when I analyse the page there is a lot going on in the page in terms of different colours, lines and shading.
To be honest, this really feels software designed by a software developer, not a UX or UI designer (i.e. something I would design myself).

* The “previously seen” list on the “Imbox” page drives me nuts! I strive for zero inbox, so seeing that list every time I enter the page makes me immediately think I have messages to action. When I finish reading a message I want to label it and archive it from view.

* And I really don’t want my read/unread message to slip between 2 lists on the one page. It breaks my expectation of where a message should be, partly because I’ll often read a message, drop back to my inbox, then later go back and re-read or mark it as unread. But now I have to find it in a different location (and probably a different sort order).

* The Feed… is too much like a social media news feed for me.
Separating subscriptions is the primary reason for me to trial Hey (at it’s an awesome idea) but at the moment it’s a fail, unfortunately.
I just need another area similar to Imbox but dedicated to my subscriptions.
I have at any one time 30+ daily subscriptions (this is how I receive most of my news and updates).
I don’t read them in sequential order, and some subscriptions I’ll skip reading until the end of the week.
I also hate social media feeds – there’s something about their nature and scrolling that my brain and eyes can’t handle.
So, it’s a real bother to have a list of partially open messages in my Feed (that I still always have to fully open anyway – which makes a partial view useless…?) It’s too much information. I just need to see the subject and who it’s from.
Or an option to switch between the “normal” Imbox style list and seeing the open message view.
A huge issue is I can’t tell when a message is “read” vs “unread”. And I can’t archive a message (hide it from view).

* When I move a message back to Imbox, future messages from the sender still go to The Feed, but I would expect them to come to the Imbox.

* It would be nice to have an indicator on the Imbox screen of how many unread messages there are in the feed. When I check Imbox I then need to manually check The Feed as well to even know if there are new messages (which I can’t really tell anyway because everything looks new).

* I was confused about where to find my “Drafts”. I intuitively looked under my “Hey” menu but couldn’t find it. Instead, it was under my profile menu, which doesn’t really make sense.

* I tried the “Set Aside” feature with some subscription messages, which gives me yet another page with yet another layout. What’s up with the tile view?
Then when I select “Done” it puts the message back in the Imbox “Previously seen” list, which is strange.
But I’m not even sure what the purpose of Set Aside is (didn’t read the help. Maybe it’s just me not understanding).

* I tried the “Reply Later” (which, for some reason, I expected the option to be able to set a reminder) and it put a sticky version of the message at the bottom of the Imbox. Which seems strange that I want to basically push something out of view for later but then you keep it displayed in my face?
I also can’t move a message from Reply Later back to Imbox.

* There’s no contextual feature help. All I can do is send a help message.
Why can’t I quickly look up info about a feature?
For example, I’m too afraid to try the “Merge” feature because I don’t know what it is. This is the one time I’ll use a help page, but I don’t know how to get to it.

* The “Hey” menu.
It’s too slow. That slight lag when opening the menu (browser, Windows app) get’s really annoying when you do it regularly and is very noticeable when I’m having to continually open it to jump between screens. And that “thunk” (“pop” or whatever you want to call it) when it finishes opening is disconcerting.
A smooth and instant transition would be nice.
Also, options to move between Imbox, The Feed, Labels (including the label list) that are always visible would be a welcome feature. That would cut down a lot of clicks through the menu every day.

* I’m a bit concerned about this: “at the end of your trial your account will be automatically closed, and all your data will be deleted from our servers 30 days later. Then your email address will be released back into the pool so someone else can sign up and use it.”
My concern is security related. If someone tries the service with and uses it for “sensitive” subscriptions or communications, then cancels but their address continues to receive sensitive info, then if it’s claimed by another person in the future will the originally person’s subscriptions come to the new person after they claim it?
As it is I’m now going to purchase a year’s subscription to secure my address and ensure no one else can access my trialled subscriptions.

* Not an issue but something to consider: I use multiple domains for my emails. And I use a different “username@” for each subscription and service I sign up for to identify when my email is shared, and as a layer of protection in data breaches. I know domains is something that’s coming but it’s a bit of a show stopper for me at the moment.

If any of these issues are actually features available, then you should know I didn’t look up any help and will not look up help. If I can’t discovered it via the UI or context help then, again, it’s a UX fail.

As clean and “focused” as the UI is, I think you need to realise that email is still a central tool for some people – particularly “older” (almost 40) people like me. I don’t been business/corporate either.
Email isn’t just about an inbox and “read once” message. It’s also about organisation and quick access. Re-imaging email is a good idea, but breaking the UX and features people have become used to is perhaps not going to win people over.

On a positive note, the things I do love are:

* Protecting against trackers. This is the key element that drew me to Hey when I heard about it.

* Having a separate Feed for newsletters, even though I have UX issues with it. I subscribe to quite a few a newsletters and wanted to separate them from my normal Inbox. I’m happy to pay just to have a separate inbox for these.

* No push notifications. That’s possibly going to be a problem for some people, but I’m really appreciative of it.

I’m still keen to see Hey succeed and wish you all the best, but unfortunately the service is not yet there for my own needs.

Cheers,
Jason

Sol Republic Shadow Wireless Headphones. Absolute Shit!

I’ve been using Sol Republic Shadow Wireless headphones for two and a half years now.

When I started with them they were great. Good battery life. Good sound. Good microphone. Rugged.

Now…

The microphone is shit – people tell me I sound like I’m talking through a long tube or I’m under water. And the earphones keep dying.

I’m on my 6th set and after just 2 months this one is fucked as well. My right earphone just stopped.

I buy my headphones from JB Hi-Fi and they come with a warranty. I even get the extended warranty. Which is a waste of money really because no set has survived the standard warranty yet.

So I’m going to get my replacement under warranty and that’s it. When the next one dies or I run out of warranty I’m changing brands.

It’s a shame because originally the Shadow was the perfect headphone for me. But given how much I use them reliability is more important than brand loyalty.

Sample of Static Header, Static Sidebar, Scrolling Content (CSS)

I’m working on what seems like a basic web layout: a static page header (stays in place when scrolling), static side menu (also stays in place) and the main column of content scrolls.

There’s a Codepen below that is “in progress” and shows it working. Bear in mind it’s not responsible yet – you need a screen >1024px wide. I’ll keep working on it to create a responsive option, so check back soon.

Something I want to point out is CSS frameworks can help with this situation. And they can hinder. I’ve taken to using the Bulma utility CSS framework lately and it’s great. But using its built in container/grid system I think (TBC) seems to be working against me. I also find myself needing to override the resets to un-reset certain typography decisions.

Sometimes it’s better to just do it yourself.

View the source code at https://codepen.io/jsnelders/pen/WNQrRbo.

See the Pen
Static Header, Static Sidebar, Scrolling Content
by Jason (@jsnelders)
on CodePen.