What happens to your Facebook account when you die?

While you may have never asked yourself this question, you may have had friends or family that passed on and wondered what happens with their account now as it stands in tribute to their memory.

Facebook has recently released a feature that allows you to bequeath access to certain parts of your Facebook account (pinning a post, updating profile picture and cover photo) to a trusted friend or family member and the access is only granted to them after you have passed. You can access this option under Settings > Security > Legacy Contact.

FBLegacyContact

Would you use this? Why or why not? Though it does grant someone else access to your account, it is somewhat limited and you can decide whether or not you want to allow your benefactor the ability to download your Facebook content.

Learn more about this new feature here.

Qualitative Remote User Research

Following on the heels of last weeks post on my UX Pyramid, I thought I’d talk more about the methods one can use to produce the information that would be used to create the deliverables mentioned in it.

I am an anthropologist first and foremost, so being able to use my anthropological methods in user research is important to me. This particular method uses journaling as a means to gain insights into what the user actually does in the system by having the user document what they do when they do it rather than trying to run them through various fabricated scenarios that we as designers might come up with. This allows us to really see the application (this could be software, games, mobile apps etc.) from their perspective rather than trying to force our perspective on them.

As a part of this process, we ask the user to not only document what they are doing, but also to provide screen shots and any other collateral that might be of note (such as information about another site that may do what they want in a better way).

With the information gathered in the journaling portion of the study, we are then able to provide the users with access to new tools or scenarios we are working on that they may be interested in using. This way we get better feedback as these are parts of the system these particular users actually use.

This research then allows for the segmentation of the user base not only by the type of user they are, but also by the way they use the system and the parts of the application they use the most. All of which provides ample information for personas, concepts, process flows, story boards, and wireframes.

Qualitative Remote Research

Qualitative Remote Research

UX Pyramid

Every now and then my work bleeds over into my blog here and this is one of those such occasions.

I was recently tasked with creating a slide deck to help spotlight all of the things that User Experience (UX) Design could do above and beyond wireframes. As a part of that process, I collapsed a previous slide deck I had crafted about 5 years ago into a single infographic. Though it is a stacked pyramid, it should be thought of more of a cycle. The pyramid was built to illustrate how giving a user experience design a solid foundation would help inform the experience throughout the entire design process, which starts well before any boxes and arrows are placed on a screen. Once you get to the top of the pyramid, the analysis of the design should feed back into the discovery process and reinform the strategy for improvements.

This is hardly news for most of us, however, I always enjoy a simple, concise, and useful infographic – so I thought others might as well. Please feel free to share and iterate on this. I always appreciate the feedback.

UX Pyramid

UX Pyramid

Today the Internet virtually slowed down

Screenshot 2014-09-10 13.01.24Or, at least several major sites wanted you to know what it might feel like if it were to slow down permanently due to what they say may result in Internet “fast lanes” where companies would be able to purchase the ability to have their sites served faster than others (ala, the Comcast/Netflix agreement made earlier this year). This would potentially disrupt what we’ve all come to know and love as the digital economy of the Internet.

Meaning, if another movie / tv streaming content provider tried to enter the market today without the ability to sign a similar agreement (if only because they were new) they would be unable to even attempt to compete and thus their service would fail before users ever had a chance to try something that may be better or more innovative than the current big kid on the block. While even without net neutrality, enforcing payments like this (rather than the two companies voluntarily entering an agreement) would be legally hard to do today due to current antitrust laws, that doesn’t mean the little guy still wouldn’t find itself in a precarious situation – but perhaps that’s as it should be given the ups and downs of the digital economy.

What is the impetuous behind this? Well, the telecom infrastructure in America is largely owned and maintained by private businesses including but not limited to Level 3 Communications, TeliaSonera International Carrier, CenturyLink, Vodafone, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. You might recognize the last three as companies from which you purchase your Internet connectivity. It is in their interest to make a profit. But, from what they tell us, it is hard to do that while maintaining and innovating on the infrastructure at the same time.

To my understanding (which could be wrong, I am not a networking expert – feel free to correct me), companies are fighting against the need to use a standard which treats all data the same regardless of what is being carried (i.e. TCP/IP). As an alternative, each company would able to create their own innovations that would help their own networks move data along without that technology necessarily being shared with everyone else. Without chiming in on one side of the debate or the other, this could be very good for consumers in the long run as competition in this area would drive innovation further and further.

The fear is that while competition has somewhat driven the cost to connect down on the consumer side, these companies must find another way to make profits and are looking toward the providers of digital goods as a potential revenue option. To that end, many see these infrastructure companies’ waves against net neutrality as an attempt to charge content providers money to ensure their data reaches their customers as fast as possible. This idea is comparable to a tollway company claiming their roads need maintenance and thus charging stores along the tollway, that have no other way to access them, extra fares to make sure consumers can access the offramps to those stores without delay, while also collecting money from the consumers themselves in order for them to gain access to the tollway in the first place. However, as I said above, this would be difficult to do given the antitrust laws currently in place.

While I am not standing on one side or the other, I hope I’ve been able to some what enlighten people as to what the big deal is and I hope I have shed some light on the topic that is not as black and white as most of us have been lead to believe. The lesson to be learned, as with most things on the Internet, is issues such as these aren’t always necessarily as they first appear and a little research goes a long way. This is especially so where government and technology intertwine.

Time Warner Down

20140827twdown People across the US are waking up this morning to the fact that Time Warner Cable is down. Apparently it’s not just their network that is down either. Their own website is also down and there are reports that no one is answering calls into Time Warner either.

Screenshot 2014-08-27 00.38.09

Screenshot 2014-08-27 00.36.23

From the spike in reports shown above, it looks like the majority started happening just before midnight HST or 6am EST.

Timing is everything of course. I just cancelled my cable TV today and am now apart of a massive Internet outage. I’m sorry?

There is already speculation as to whether TWC is the latest target of the recent DDOS attacks. I expect more answers will come soon enough, but it’s nearly 1am here in the middle of the Pacific and I have a 8am meeting. Let’s just hope my Internet is up by then as I work from home…

Internet Gaming brought to a halt by DDOS

Several gaming news outlets are reporting on the recent gaming outages brought on by a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack (PCGamer, Joystiq, VentureBeat | GamesBeat) perpetrated by a group calling themselves Lizard Squad. This all came to a head when the SOE (Sony Online Entertainment) President’s plane was diverted due to a bomb threat made by the same group claiming responsibility for the DDOS attacks (Gamespot, Polygon).

I’ll be following this story and making updates on it as it progresses since the FBI is now involved due to the nature of the bomb threat.

Games that were affected by the attack are as follows:
Blizzard.net games including World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Starcraft, Hearthstone
Sony Online Entertainment including Play Station Network
League of Legends
Path of Exile

Were you affected by the outage? Feel free to comment or contact me to let me know about your experience.

Dealing with being a digital packrat

Screenshot 2014-08-18 12.44.28

My laptop only has a 750G hard drive which is quickly filling up. So, I spent all weekend cleaning it up and moving files to my Mac Mini server. One of my biggest headaches is my photo and music libraries. I’ve had iPhoto and iTunes since they existed. (The first iPod was a portable firewire hard drive that also played music! I couldn’t pass that up. I’ve also been taking digital photos since digital cameras came onto the market, which means I have tons of pictures.) This has lead to my libraries growing wildly rampant and becoming totally out of control.

So, rather than dealing with the headache that comes with trying to fix it all manually, I found a software solution to help out and I highly recommend them: http://www.fatcatsoftware.com/

My biggest deal was moving files off of my laptop and on to my server, but still having them easily accessible from my laptop. I have multiple iTunes libraries due to having multiple computers over the years and backing up to different computers at different times. These can be difficult to manage and lead to missing (orphaned) files. Powertunes found all my random files and now my phone (which I had to replace a couple of months ago) has all my relevant music back on it! (Only took a full day to copy it all over, but that was all iTunes.)

I also wanted to break up my iPhoto library into smaller ones so I could archive parts off. While splitting up over 20 thousand photos and videos has taken a long time – it’s totally worth it. Next on my list will be to tackle my resources library. I think I’m finally going to bite the bullet and buy Adobe CC education edition while I still can. Then I’m going to use the updated Bridge to organize my my 15gb of digital resources. If you have any other recommendations for organizing digital assets locally, please leave a comment!

Facebook Messenger and You

My readers, please take a moment to read all of the TOS in every single social app you have downloaded and used over the last year. This includes all of the updated TOS you automatically agree to because you’ve already had it installed. They ALL ask for some setting you’re not going to be comfortable with if you are caught up in the hysteria over the new FB messenger application.

If you are not installing the FB messenger app because of the latest and greatest in sensationalist headlines, then you should follow through and uninstall every single other app that utilizes any of your social networks (twitter, tumblr, instagram, skype etc). After you’ve done that, you should revoke all access of those applications to each other (i.e. any app that is connected to your Facebook account).

Then, if you really want to protect your privacy, you will delete your Facebook account altogether, along with every other social network profile you’ve ever created. Just don’t forget those companies still own all of the data you gave them over the last 10 years (if you’ve been on FB as long as I have). You already sold it to them when you signed up and they can do whatever they want with it whenever they want to. Most importantly, it’s their business to do just that.

If you would like an alternative, try Facebook Texting:
Screenshot 2014-08-10 10.03.45

It is accessible via Facebook Settings (easiest way to access it is to click on the lock in the header next to the updates icon and go to “See more settings”).

Texas Cyber Bullying Case

Mashable did an extensive writeup of the case here. In summary, two 12 year old girls claim to be bullied by another girl through social media. This bullying then escalates to attacks via their very own phones, computers, and network as well as physical stalking.

It’s a chilling read. It becomes more than simple playground bullying when you are told what you are wearing and where you are located in your home by someone who is taunting you via social media.

A big issue is many law enforcement agencies, especially those in the more rural parts of the country, still have no idea how to handle these cases. There needs to be some sort of organization these people can turn to in order to educate themselves and understand how this type of bullying effects those involved. Additionally, they need to be able to have quick and reliable access to people with technical expertise than can attest to the level of effort the attackers have gone through to carry out their maliciousness.

Does any such program exist? If it does, who funds it and where is it located? If it doesn’t, why not?

Hello? Facebook can hear you now.

Last week several news organizations including Ars Technica shared information about Facebook’s new passive listening feature.

From their report:
“Facebook has added a new feature to its mobile app as of Wednesday that uses a phone’s microphone to identify ambient TV shows, music, or movies and include them in status updates. The feature is off by default, though the app offers to turn it on in an intro screen that it pops up for users.”

This means if you use Facebook on your mobile device, you should take notice in the coming weeks and choose NOT to use this feature if you are not comfortable with it. Many of us are used to just bypassing these sorts of pop ups without a second thought. This is one you may want to pay attention to before you agree to it.