Dark Patterns Law in California

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.

Until now, that is. California has a new law on the books to address this that complements the California Consumer Privacy Act.

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.

A Fitness Tracker for Lightweights: the Motiv Ring

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.

My colleague then suggested I check out the Motiv fitness tracker.

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"

An Exercise in Frustration Online

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.

Refer a Friend? But I don't even know if I actually like you yet!
Refer a Friend? But I don't even know if I actually like you yet!

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"

Another Perspective on Stuff You Fill Out

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:

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.

Continue reading "Another Perspective on Stuff You Fill Out"

Apple Picking

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.

Camera Roll
Camera Roll
Continue reading "Apple Picking"

Let’s Just Start Over or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Product and Comfort a Cranky Stakeholder

I wrote this piece on Medium first about my work as a Product Manager:

Last week, colleague walked over to my desk to ask me about the product I just started working on. And by started to work on, I mean I inherited this product in part because there was some significant “clean-up” needed and rumor has it that I’m good with fixer-uppers. His question to me was, “How about we just start over?” In short, stating that he’d almost rather walk away from this dumpster-fire mess than somehow try to put out the embers and make something of the leftover half-burned pieces of fresh garbage. Well, this isn’t exactly what he meant but that’s probably how I felt when I heard the question and realized the hole I now needed to climb out of.

Bonfire at Night
Bonfire #8 by Jen Gallardo

Continue reading "Let’s Just Start Over or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Product and Comfort a Cranky Stakeholder"

Finding a Home

Finding a home is probably now one of my new-found least-favorite activities. I think it ranks up there with cleaning floors and doing laundry, which are some of my least favorite chores. I should probably clarify; finding a home that is within the realm of what I want to pay, doesn't increase my already hour-long commute and has laundry within the unit is a huge chore. Continue reading "Finding a Home"

The Real Issue with Hillary's Email

I don't usually write about politics but The Washington Post recently published an article about how Hillary Clinton reached out to Colin Powell to understand what he did to have access to email remotely. There's a scanned print-out of exactly what they discussed over email which I found fascinating!

When I read the exchange between Powell and Clinton, I could instantly relate. It seems that working at the State Department is a lot like working in financial services. And, quite honestly, it wasn't until I worked at a bank that I realized just how oppressive IT policy could be. Email on your personal phone is a relatively new concept at my current employer in the financial industry and even then, it is significantly locked down via a special app that doesn't let you navigate to links or download files to your phone.

In my opinion, the real root of the problem here is the risk-averse IT policies in place that often impede folks from getting shit done. Continue reading "The Real Issue with Hillary's Email"

Whatever happened to digital photo albums?

Anthony and I were in Montreal over the weekend. We had a blast and, unsurprisingly, spent a lot of time eating. During one of those moments, we happened to be in the Old Montreal area at a restaurant called Le Robin Square enjoying a leisurely lunch. We had VERY leisurely lunches. While the service at all the restaurants we visited was great, we noticed there's a bit of a slower pace of life in Montreal — especially when it comes to dining — that is pretty much unheard of in New York. Not a bad thing but just different!

This poutine did not stand a chance!
This poutine did not stand a chance!

While we were there for lunch, we happened to notice the restaurant had a TV screen with some digital ambiance playing on it. This consisted of a stock video of a vineyard and you could see the leaves gently swaying in the wind. This got me thinking about the idea of the "digital picture frame."

Remember when that was a thing? Continue reading "Whatever happened to digital photo albums?"