I’ve previously written about dark patterns because, on their face, they represent an ethical problem in technology. Just because you can make it difficult for a customer to close a pop-up, for example, doesn’t mean you should. And, as we know now, technologists do not take an oath to behave ethically (quite the opposite with the proliferation of the ethos “move fast and break shit”) and the government has neglected to regulate.
However, time will tell if, like the CAN-SPAM Act and the Do Not Call Registry, the regulation will lack the teeth for any sort of enforcement. Wired Magazine contends that specificity on what will be covered is still lacking, leading me to believe that it will be difficult for this to result in real consequences for offenders:
California’s first-in-the-nation status on regulating dark patterns comes with a caveat. It’s not clear exactly which dark patterns will become illegal when the new law takes full effect in 2023; the rules are to be determined by a new California Privacy Protection Agency that won’t start operating until later this year.
The more I learn about the human condition, the more essential governance seems to become. We need rules and codes of conduct to help us navigate what’s pushing the envelope versus what’s just evil. We will need to watch what happens in California carefully as that will serve as a litmus test for the rest of the country making progress.
Over the summer, I was complaining to a colleague about my love/hate relationship with fitness trackers. I fell in love with the Fitbit for a few years but I found their trackers didn't really last. That's something I'm less inclined to be okay with given how much more I pay attention now to where my waste goes. And, the other factor important for me is a tracker that fits nicely under my boxing gloves — something that sometimes wrist-based trackers aren't always great at.
On the surface, I was excited so naturally I ordered it immediately. The price point ($199.99) made it not so expensive that it seemed unattainable but definitely pricey enough so that I had some expectations about it being moderately good going in. After using it for a couple of months now, I can walk you through the good, the bad and my closing thoughts on whether it's a good buy or not. Continue reading "A Fitness Tracker for Lightweights: the Motiv Ring"
When I'm not writing this blog, I spend a lot of my time at work. For a living, I manage digital products, specifically web applications, for a well-known and respected brand. And, if I'm being honest, I've been using and making for the web for the better part of half of my existence on this earth! All of this is to say, I know a thing or two when it comes to what works, and what doesn't.
I'd like to share a story about an experience that didn't work so well for me and how I'd recommend fixing it.
Ever since I moved, I've been thinking about switching up my gym routine. The other day, I was scrolling through Instagram (as one does) and saw something about Rise By We. Based on the post, it looked like they had a boxing or kickboxing program which I'd be really into since I've been doing Muay Thai for years now. Intrigued and because they mentioned something about a free intro class, I clicked on the link from my phone to arrive at RiseByWe.com.
The homepage set an odd tone. The "Refer a Friend" button is more prominent than I'd expect — it blocks the marketing copy that someone went to great efforts to write. Meanwhile, that copy is changing at an interval (in the screenshot below, the blue words are constantly changing so as I'm trying to make sense of what's behind that button, it goes away.
I can get around this, it's just some marketing, but I'm curious — where is this place? In essence, realistically, does this gym work with my getting to work/home routines? I decide to check out the navigation menu (the delectably named "hamburger" menu for all you insiders) to see where it's located. Continue reading "An Exercise in Frustration Online"
With stars in our eyes as we admired a little red house that was in our budget — and in a safe, walkable neighborhood near public transit — we overlooked a lot of little issues and placed an offer.
Fast forward to living in the house and we noticed a small, nagging issue (one of those we overlooked): no doorbell.
I figured we'd just go to Home Depot and buy a regular shmegular doorbell but my husband declined this option. He's not a technophile or super into keeping with the Joneses or anything like that. In fact, as a woman working in technology teams, I've always been the tech nerd of this couple. However, when it came to the doorbell, he insisted we get a video doorbell. Essentially, with the blank slate of nothing existing to replace, let's go big or go home!
Now that we have a house, I feel like I can finally utilize all the core competencies I've been building watching approximately a bajillion hours of HGTV. Of course, on TV every contractor is lithe, attractive and looking out for your best interest. In reality, it's more like you are lucky if they aren't weird and/or shafting you.
Hearing about so many horror stories, I was really happy to discover apps that can help with sourcing and vetting vendors. One of those is Houzz, but their mobile app leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, I believe some features are buried and perhaps it's because the organization is not ready to invest in their success. Continue reading "Houzz: Mobile isn't always Better"
I was scrolling through Twitter today when a Tweet by someone I don't follow about a topic I'm privileged not to be intimately familiar with happened to catch my eye:
So you know all those emoji and punctuation marks in your Twitter names get read aloud by screen readers, right? If it takes me longer to hear your Twitter name than to read your tweet? I scroll right on by. Please remember this when adding lots of emoji to things. Thanks.
I say I'm privileged because, while I joke about being blind because I've been wearing glasses since 2nd grade, I'm not actually impaired. I've never had to experience this wild and wonderful thing we call the internet without the gift of sight. And, throughout my career as a web developer, accessibility was often an after-thought.
It's been a few months now since I took the plunge and purchased the new iPhone. No, not the one everyone is obsessing over with the face recognition tech but the other one — the iPhone 8. Since some are on the fence, here's my take.
When I was younger, I learned the hard way not to buy cheap hand bags. I bought a bunch of these (including illegitimate knockoffs sold to me in a backroom somewhere in Chinatown — which I will never again do for so many reasons!) and they would never last.
Now that I'm older and (so I hope) somewhat wiser, I invest in handbags that will last me a while and put up with abuse. I take the subway almost every day of the week so bags I wear can't just look pretty but they really have to function, especially under stress. A bag I carry should be able to get bumped into by a hobo and brush it off! Not only that, it should be able to fit all the junk I need in a day (wallet, digital devices, makeup, etc). Continue reading "In Search Of a Good Camera Bag"
Sometimes things happen and they are just coincidence and sometimes things happen, especially on the internet, and someone explicitly went out of their way to make that happen. You may find this when you are casually browsing a retail site for a pair of shoes and then, through the magic of something called "retargeting," you keep seeing advertisements for that same pair of shoes. At this point, we all see this coming so it doesn't come as a surprise.
Everyone is tracking us everywhere — and sometimes we willingly let them track us by volunteering information about ourselves (i.e. what we all do on Facebook day in and day out). This is okay as long as everyone's complicit; when the product you are using is free, YOU are the product (the selling of information about you to target selling you stuff, in essence).
What I find far more disturbing is a trend toward dark patterns that I'm seeing in the design of products. I define a dark pattern as a product that takes you somewhere that you as a user don't want to go. It's intentionally leading you to something you may not want — usually the end game is to lead you to something that is profitable for the product but not so great for the consumer.
I was within a stone’s throw of Cupertino (by chance on a work trip to Northern California) when Apple had their fall event to announce their new lineup of products. There’s always a ton of excitement on Twitter for these events and, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I do enjoy a good silly tweet or two (the more GIFs the better!). And, as an iPhone 6 owner, I was anxiously awaiting to hear about what options I might have to upgrade to as my phone is starting to show its age.