Post Microsoft

10 years ago Microsoft software was dominant in my usage – Windows, Office, Messenger, IE, and probably more.

Today, the only Microsoft product that I use is Visual Studio Code (I switched from Sublime Text last year).

I haven’t used Windows, IE or messenger in a decade. I do occasionally use Excel and Skype, when someone insists, but have neither installed on my devices.

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Chrome Extensions I use (start 2018 edition)

This is the updated, early 2018 snapshot of the list of Chrome extensions and apps I use.

Favourites/recommendations are in bold.
My own extensions/apps are marked with an asterisk (*).
Extensions by Google are marked with a (G)

The previous list, from late 2015, is here.

Continue reading Chrome Extensions I use (start 2018 edition)

Android Keyboards in India

Why don’t Android phones sold in India come with Google’s Indic keyboard set up as default?

Specially for phones that don’t ship with proprietary/3rd-party keyboards, doesn’t it make a lot of sense to pre-install Indic keyboard over the default English keyboard?

It’s such a small step, yet can be quite a big enabler for the users (and, even, possibly a differentiator) – using the power of defaults to deliver a better user experience!

A case for splitting up the WordPress mobile app

Venn diagram of readers and writers on WordPress, specially on mobile.
Readers vs writers on WordPress

By integrating ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ in the same app, you’re forcing the bigger user group1 to also confront tools designed for the smaller user group.

On mobile – skewed by design more towards consumption, than creation – I assume the disparity in these two user groups is even bigger.

Having a standalone reader app, allows it to reach a much larger use case – ‘Help people follow, read, discover’.
Compare this to current use case – install it if you…

  1. post to WordPress frequently from mobile, or
  2. love reading in WordPress reader, despite having little use for other three tabs – write, manage, and notifications?!

A really good standalone reader helps plug in a singular user need2 – reading. That need, in terms of following blogs and websites, only rarely overlaps with the other need that the app currently fulfils – writing.

Though it will place it in competition with feed readers like Feedly, it also has 2 unique benefits as well:

  1. Close integration with a writing platform (related posts, comment & like directly from reader),
  2. The abandoned Google Reader audience that just wants to follow and read feeds, without being overwhelmed with magazine interfaces and more.

A good, successful reader mobile app with large user-base will, eventually, help close the RoI loop: suggest (through ‘discover’) other WordPress/Jetpack blogs, creating an incentive (or delivering reward) for creators using WordPress.


  1. One definition of readers and writers:
    – Writers: 7-day active writers – users who posted at-least once a week.
    – Readers: Unique visitors per week – including logged-in users, not-logged-in readers, and from feed readers.
    Another definition (more relevant to determining use case ratios):
    – Writing: Posts /week.
    – Reading: Page views /week – again, including not-logged-in readers, and from feed readers. 
  2. Should some day also write a similar, smaller, post on WordPress Calypso’s interface – how it needs to be split from current two, into three sections. Currently, the ‘write’ and the ‘manage’ use cases are mixed into the same tab, while ‘read’ is in its own.
    Ideally, ‘write’ and ‘read’ – each a singular, frequent use case – should have their own tabs. ‘Manage’ can be in a far-removed tab, or behind a ‘manage’ button. 

Thin layer BaaS

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May it rest-in-peace!

I worked with one backend-as-a-service (BaaS) provider, Quickblox, where I saw closely users vetting the provider for stability and scalability (successfully). And I followed the rise, sale & fall of another, Parse, where we’re all seeing the impact of it’s folding on a wider community of users.

Combining experiences from both, there’s a business idea ringing in my head:

A thin-layer BaaS

Continue reading Thin layer BaaS

Chrome Extensions I use

Just thought I’d share the full list of Chrome apps and extensions I use. Favourites/recommendations are in bold.

Extensions

General / Productivity:

How I read and respond to user feedback

After writing the previous post, I thought I’d share another script I use, this time to respond to user feedback for my Chrome apps.

All the feedback links in the apps, and the link on page that opens when they are uninstalled, direct to this form.

Chrome apps' feedback form
Chrome apps’ feedback form

The problem

On submission, the form adds a row to a spreadsheet with each of those input fields in a separate column. Google provides a notification option for whenever the form is submitted. However, the default email sent by Google is quite useless:

Default notification emails
Default notification emails

The default notification email requires a click-through to see the changes. This is sad enough on the desktop. On mobile, it’s completely useless – requiring me to open a big spreadsheet to see just one new row of data!

Continue reading How I read and respond to user feedback

New idea: minimalist blog editor app

Yet another Chrome1 app idea:

A minimal, no-frills blogging app with markdown editing2, inline tagging support3, and draft auto-sync4 to WordPress and Medium

I find WordPress‘ editor too cluttered (despite the distraction-free mode), and Medium‘s too fiddly-gimmicky. In fact, I write most of my posts these days in another Automattic product – Simplenote, and then copy it to my WordPress blogs, or Medium for final editing, formatting, etc.

My WordCounter Chrome app already supports Markdown Extra. Reusing that code, adding Medium & WordPress API support, and adding a #tag parser shouldn’t take long. The only question is do I care about it enough to prioritise it over all the other stuff that’s on the backlog?

For the last couple of months that I’ve had this idea, the answer has been no.

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AcceleReader – tagging, history chart & beta support

It’s been a good few days of updating all my Chrome projects with various upgrades, and bug fixes. Here’s a quick review of the updates to AcceleReader – one of the newest in my collection.

Update 1 – For the taggers

AcceleReader - Add tags from notification
AcceleReader – Add tags from notification

Add tags to articles from article-added notification when you add them to your Pocket list. The ‘Add Tags’ link in notification opens a pop-up to add tags to that article.

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Facebook Android app – a UX minefield

I’m sorry. This is yet another post1 on more UX/UI mess that keeps bothering me.

Starting with something I recently started using after 8+ years – Facebook. FB earned a reprieve from the tech press after its change of heart on native smartphone apps. But their Android app is still way below par for what is the primary user interface for vast proportion of their users.

Here are 2 bits that bugged me right away…

FB Issue #1 – In-post touch areas

Touch Targets - Facebook Mobile
Touch Targets – Facebook Mobile

Facebook states that stories/posts that are posted natively get shared more widely to the followers, compared to those posted as links. Yet, the mobile interface makes it practically impossible to click-through to read those very natively-posted long posts.
Continue reading Facebook Android app – a UX minefield