Eating your own dog food, also called dogfooding, is a slang term used to reference a scenario in which a company uses its own product to validate the quality and capabilities of the product. — Wikipedia

When I design products, I make an effort to regularly use the products I make. If I write a platform or library, I use it myself. It’s something so obvious, but surprisingly uncommon.

Knowing the Community

One side effect of eating your own dogfood is that you become a part of the community. …


Last Friday, somebody asked me, “what’s your favorite fashion brand?” This question caught me a bit off guard. It’s a perfectly reasonable question, especially since we were at a talk about fashion. And isn’t fashion a world carved out by empires of brands?

I thought about what I like, and it’s not brands that come to mind. I think about styles, silhouettes, colors, lines. Abstract concepts. I think about people whose fashion sense I admire. I don’t know (or care) where they buy their clothes from.

There are a few brands that I like. But, I don’t like these brands for their name. I like these brands because I like their style and I know they have clothes that fit my body. Defaulting to a favorite brand is a cheat sheet, a filtering mechanism. I’ve already evaluated that brand against my standards for style and fit, so if I shop there I know I will find clothes that fit and flatter. It’s not the brand that I love, it’s the style and fit that I love. …


We’ve all worked with these people. Perfectionists. Exacting people who want things done a specific way. Their way. The perfect way.

At least that’s what they hide behind. This idea that they have incredibly high standards, which explains why they are so demanding, of course.

This makes one key assumption: that they know what perfection is.

Now that’s mighty arrogant. Isn’t it?

Me, I prefer experimentation to perfection. Start building, ask questions, and observe the hell out of things. Correct mistakes along the way, and leave identifying perfection to the users. I’m not prescient enough to predict what people may want.

I choose humble experimentation.


The world is shifting from valuing ownership to valuing accessibility.

I use Rdio to access music. I own very few CDs.

I use Kindle to access books. I trim down my bookshelf every year.

I use Wikipedia to access knowledge. I have a bad memory anyway.

To live in this world, I don’t need more space in my brain. I need more RAM and bandwidth.


This parking sign project popped up in my newsfeed a few times last week. LA is piloting this new signage design.

The two problem with the sign? It’s not usable and it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. It’s a perfect example of good design, bad user experience (UX).

Good Design

I find the visual design quite pleasing.

They used a format that we are all familiar with. The signs are laid out the way our calendar apps display our schedule. Leveraging familiarity is a good design choice.

They use big, bold colors to represent concepts. …


I once sat down at a lunch table with some strangers, and we started chit chatting. It was one of those situations where we talked to fill the silence, because awkward noise beats awkward silence. We didn’t have anything meaty to say to each other though. We asked some of the same bland questions you hear over and over again — what do you do, where do you work, what movies do you like. You know, the usual. It was the social equivalent of watching paint dry.

Then, my other friend sat down and started asking questions. And the table came to life. We were suddenly talking about all these cool things we’ve done, and fascinating thoughts we have. It was as though we were different people. Thinking back on the conversation, she asked exactly the same questions — what do you do, where do you work, etc. …


This past weekend, a game developer (friend of a friend) showed me his workspace. It’s an environment like I’ve never seen before. The layout was open and the room was dark, apparently good for seeing graphics on a computer screen. No walls. But very quiet.

It got me to start thinking: what are the ways environment affect the way people operate?

I’m not just talking about office layout. But also things like background music, art on walls, the temperature of your coffee, access to food, material of your desk and chair. So many of these little non-personal cues poke and prod us to behave one way or the other. It’s a bit unsettling, right? These little invisible forces controlling some aspect of our lives.

I would like to explore this more. Any recommendations for books or articles in this vein? >> nancy@neuralfirings.com


In 3D printing processes like Stainless Steel and Ceramics, there is a Green State during the production process. During this part, the model is very brittle and fragile. The part needs to be dug out of its powder bed before put into the kiln. Because there is force coming from the air gun, brushes, and general handling, the more fragile models often break in this stage. Eventually, the parts are baked in a kiln and hardens, which strengthens the final product you receive.

When introducing designers to 3D printing, I found it helpful start by explaining this process. Though they may not have years and years of engineering training, we all have practice experience with physics to know how things break under pressure. …


I was in a discussion about interviewing strategies and the merits of behavioral questions versus hypothetical questions.

Behavioral questions start with “Tell me about a time when…”

Hypothetical questions start with “What would you do if…” Hypothetical questions frustrate me for three reasons:

  1. It’s easy to say I would do this or that. It’s hard to actually do the things you want to do.
  2. Even if you execute what you want to do, it’s hard to predict what you would want to do in a specific situation. …

Image for post
Image for post

In the last two Blender updates, the Grease Pencil tool got a major facelift. The Grease Pencil was traditionally used for annotating 3D drawings. Now, it can also be used for animation.

Image for post
Image for post

And if you are a better drawer or animator than I am, you can create more beautiful movies.

As a bonus, the new Grease Pencil’s stroke width responds to pressure sensitive drawing tools, like my old Wacom Bamboo tablet.

I’m not a drawer or an animator. But, I have been having fun with this neat little tool, so I thought it fun to share.

Image for post
Image for post

Grease Pencil Set Up

Image for post
Image for post

Before I start, I make sure to set up Blender for Grease Pencil Animation. You can download my “Starter Blend File.” A few things I did…

About

Nancy Yi Liang

I make physical products from code | Building Things at Amazon | Dabbler of many things.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store