A UI/UX Fail

It’s not all cakes and pies.

Last week was the Laracon Online event and the morning of the event we had to give all the ticket holders a link and a password to start their live stream on their device.

When this went live it was set up like this:


The problem arose in the UI of the streaming service and it asked for a password. A lot of people missed that the previous page had a password on it and kept trying to use their account password. Only to get frustrated and email us.

As you might imagine I got swamped with emails. I’d say at least 40 or 50 in a span of just a few minutes. I knew we had a problem but everything was starting in a few minutes and I wanted to make sure everyone had access.

The first idea we had was just reverse the order:


This actually helped but people were​ still missing it, although the number of people missing it was vastly lower than the other way. Looking back at it now we should have the streaming link open with a target “_blank” so they would have the old tab still open and could maybe see it easier.

I still don’t know what the answer is, but at least now I have a year to think about it and come up with a better solution. I’m sharing this because this is one of the few times of my life where feedback on bad UI/UX was so swift and constant. At the same time, I had a very narrow time window to get it resolved and to get everyone their streaming access.

It made for a stressful​ morning but looking back I learned a lot of little things. That’s what creating is all about right? Paying attention to the small things and caring about your users.

P.S. UI/UX have are some of the most confusing terms to me.

Inside North Korea’s Hacker Army

Sam Kim, writing for Bloomberg, shares a crazy look inside North Korea’s hacker army:

North Korea’s hacking prowess is almost as feared globally as its nuclear arsenal. Last May the country was responsible for an internet scourge called WannaCry, which for a few days infected and encrypted computers around the world, demanding that organizations pay ransom in Bitcoin to unlock their data. A few years before that, North Korea stole and published the private correspondence of executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which had produced a Seth Rogen satire of the country called The Interview.

Jong wasn’t involved in those attacks, but for half a decade before defecting, he was a foot soldier in North Korea’s hacker army. Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, who might seek to expose security vulnerabilities, steal corporate and state secrets, or simply sow chaos, North Korean hackers have a singular purpose: to earn money for the country, currently squeezed by harsh international sanctions for its rogue nuclear program. For most of the time Jong spent as part of this brigade he lived and worked in a crowded three-story home in a northeastern Chinese city. The hackers he shared it with were required to earn up to $100,000 a year, through whatever means they could, and were allowed to keep less than 10 percent of that. If they stepped out of line, the consequences could be severe.

Unless you live in a dictatorship it’s easy to forget how much we get to take for granted.

Apple AirPods

I’ve been an Apple fan since I moved from Windows XP to the Mac and I’ve never looked back. Having stuff “just work” was the main reason and after all these years they’ve really not let me down.

The newest product that I got last year is the AirPods and they are by far the best headphones I’ve ever owned. From the simplicity of the charging case to the sturdiness of how they remain in your ears. They are a fantastic product.

I use them while working, while mountain biking, running, anything and everything in between and they just magically stay in your ears. It’s uncanny.

My only complaint is the case and headphones do not hook into “find my iPhone” and although I’ve never had a problem of losing mine I always have that worry in the back of my mind, especially with their premium price.

I will say they are the best piece of tech I bought in 2017 and they just work.

Get out of your comfort zone

How do you improve? How can you practice better?

I think one of the best ways it to get out of your comfort zone. Try something you think is totally off the wall. For example, I know the traditional line of thought in programming is to practice TDD, maybe experiment with BDD, or DDD, or whatever acronym is hot.

But instead why not try the other way? Maybe attempt to create an entire application in one PHP file. I guarantee you’ll learn something and get entirely different experiences than you would in any other app. The same way if all you do is create apps from a single PHP file, mix it up. Create the next one with a framework.

Life is all about mixing things up and figuring out not only what works for you, but what can be learned and shared. Stepping outside your comfort zone and experience the world as someone else.

Patio11 on charging for your work

Patio11 on HN:

You do not owe anyone an apology for choosing to sell something. You do not owe yourself an apology for choosing to sell something. You do not need to mention the economy or your personal economic circumstances. It will not successfully motivate anyone to pay you a thousand dollars. No lawyer in the country does that. No doctor in the country does that. No teacher in the country does that. You being compensated for your professional labor is not an outlandish request. It is the default. This will discomfit some freeloaders in your community. They contribute no patches or money. Let them wget the binaries; do not allow them to wget an iota of your stress budget.

Saying No

This year I feel like I’ve been busier than I have been in years. My email inbox and my to-do list keep growing, it’s apparent I’ve agreed to too many things and now it’s starting to weigh on me. As I attempt to regroup and get some control back I’m reminded of the video above by Derek Sivers.

I’ve watched this video a few times over the years and I’ve always felt it was on the selfish side. I’m driven to want to serve and help others and by saying, “yes”, to things that might not be great I’ve opened many doors and got a lot out of it. It’s been easy for me to dismiss the advice in this video, but now I’m at the point where it feels like everything is getting away from me. It’s time to say, “No”.

I’ve had to say it two or three times today alone and it’s not easy. I don’t want to let people down, but once you get overwhelmed there are only two solutions, say no or say yes and delegate​. ​Since my time is limited and I don’t have an option of delegating, my answer is no for the next few months.