How relentless focus empowers users

We’ve all had that moment. It can happen when you start planning a trip, organizing a party, or outlining a new project. The magnitude of the tasks at hand makes you hesitate, maybe even feel anxious. You might make a list of things you need to do, but what about bigger tasks that seem too daunting to start? Or what if you feel stuck as you inch closer to a goal? What should your next step be?

This moment of reflection is what we wanted to create with Steps, an addition to our To-Do app.

Every part of To-Do, a…


Don’t talk. Show.
Don’t assume. Validate.
Don’t question. Propose.


People

The team you work with : A group of people that you look up to, that you want to learn from. People that give you honest feedback. People that insipire you and get insipired. People who care.

The person you work for : Somebody who respects you, values your contribution, is mindful of your time. Somebody you trust. Somebody who provides direction without telling you what to do. Somebody who connects and supports you. Somebody who helps you focus.

Work

You work on something that you feel is worth spending tons of time on, that allows you to go deep, that…


Not all meetings are bad. Meeting people can be energizing and bonding as long as everybody is able to contribute equally. The ideal duration of a meeting depends largely on the number of people participating. Something like…

This is a high intensity meeting for critique, feedback and quick back and forth. It’s the most personal of all meetings, an opportunity for honesty but also easy to derail. Consider moving all the personal, vague parts into a more public and relaxed environment e.g. while making coffee together.

If this type of meeting is longer, it becomes exhausting and unfocussed.

This can…


There’s an ideal amount of people for achieving a specific goal. Some possible patterns…

Building a feature or product. 2 designers. 2 engineers. 1 person as glue and external communication, helping the others to focus.

Having a discussion with equal contribution. Allowing everybody to reflect on the conversation without becoming passive.

Achieving a balanced decision that feels well rounded without becoming mediocre by consense. For bigger teams those 3 decision makers must ensure to be well informed and trusted by the rest of the team.

Keeping critique between 2 people allows it to be honest and constructive without causing embarrassment and shame.

Happy team working.


Inhibition EEG head set

Here are some insights from a 2-day workshop building a headset for measuring brain activity using Electroencephalography known as EEG.

I clearly have barely touched the surface of EEG measurement but here are some key aspects I learned that made this topic more accessible to me.

Measure

In fact they are so tiny that the main challenge is to isolate them from general everyday interference caused by electricty and mobile radios. Error inducing noise is everywhere. Consider a trip to the woods.


As long as you stay inside Amazon Web Services (AWS) and you have a vague idea how all the infrastructure pieces fit together, developing an Alexa Skill is surprisingly quick to get started with.

Amazon managed to remove friction from two core areas of common development cruft. Deployment and testing. Lambda is a slim alternative for hosting your code and enables you to test a skill on your own Alexa device without delays. This immediacy makes iterating quite fun.

Here’s an outline of the whole process as a future reference for myself and everybody else who thinks about getting started.

Setup


  • If we don’t care, people die
  • Facts are irrelevant if they aren’t considered truth
  • Peace is a fragile state and cannot be taken for granted
  • If we leave people behind, progress is an illusion


Smart mirror prototype running on iOS

Thoughts about smart mirrors and building a prototype along the way

Lately I am spending a lot of time in the bath room changing diapers. The kind of activity that helps you reflect on that place itself and the fantastically well scoped situations it covers. Let’s talk about mirrors.

Just like any distinct platform a mirror comes with its own constraints and usage patterns. Something that makes a mirror appealing as an interactive medium is that people already interact with it on a daily basis. Smart humans.

Let’s see which patterns we can identify and adapt without interferring with its…


I read about roasting coffee using a popcorn popper in a forum, watched a couple of YouTube videos. Then I gave it a try.

I bought…

  • A Severin Popcorn Popper, 23€
  • 1kg unroasted beans, from Costa Rica, 12€

You don’t need to learn much about the science of roasting, but I found it helpful to know about roast profiles and the inevitable first and second crack in order to come up with a roast process.

Every type of bean has specific roast profiles linked to the final flavour you are aiming for. These profiles define the ideal development of a…

Bernd Plontsch

iOS, OP-Z, V60 ▴● Designer @Microsoft To-Do, views are my own

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