Loving and hating the ‘new’ Gmail interface

Some weeks ago- it may actually be some months ago, since time goes by pretty fast lately- when I had to switch to the ‘new’ Gmail interface, I thought in changing my email client again because… because some reasons that I am going to go through in a minute.

Last week I got a new computer (yay!) and took advantage of the situation to try a new email client. Why? There was really no reason, but I ended up giving ‘Airmail‘ a try. One week later, I am back to Mailplane (which actually uses the Gmail interface). So far, I’ve tried Airmail, Mailplane, Sparrow,  Thunderbird, and Mail App. And I always keep coming back to Mailplane. Want to know why? Keep reading.

3 reasons why I hated the ‘new’ Gmail interface

  • How am I supposed to know how to edit the subject line when replying to an email? Clicking everywhere till I find it?

edit-subject

  • Same thing with the styles. Look at the image below. I thought I’d click the “+” (#1), because it looked like it could have what I was looking for, but instead I got a bunch of not so often used features (#2): smileys, calendar (which can be added automatically by including a date), etc. Oh well. Where were my colors, bullets and text editing tools? They were, again, hidden behind the underlined + italic A (#3) which, now that I know, makes sense, but pardon me, not before.

styles-gmail

  • When responding to a thread, every time I wanted to delete an email I had started writing, I saved it as draft, went to drafts and discarded it. Why? Because I thought that clicking on the waste basket would delete all the thread. How was I supposed to know that this won’t happen? Again, once I knew- one day my husband saw me deleting an email like that and said: ‘What are you doing? Why you just don’t delete the email? And because I trust him, I did so :)- that gave me no more trouble, but before knowing, it was a pain.

I finally got used to finding all those things, I guess it was resistance to the change or something. The thing is, for better or for worst, these things weren’t bothering me anymore when I switched to Airmail.

I want to mention that it is also possible that the Gmail guide explained all those things, but the problem is that when the guide appeared in front of me I hadn’t time to go through it. I prefer things to be intuitive and self explanatory, and if not possible, I would like explanations when/ where I need them. I consider this part of a good product.

3 reasons I am loving it (Gmail/ Mailplane) again

  • When you archive or delete the first email and the second one is not read yet, Airmail, Mail App and others just mark it as read. Nooooooo! That’s my reason #1 to miss an email. And I don’t want to miss any emails.
  • Search just doesn’t work that well. I usually need to find addresses of people it’s been a while I haven’t exchanged an email with, or emails from the past. It’s just how I use it. This last week I ended up using Airmail but always having my Gmail account open in the browser because of so many times I couldn’t find the email I was looking for on Airmail.
  • Select a text from an email, e.g. a name you want to search on Google, make the search, come back to your email client and click on reply to. The result is that only the text you had selected it’s included in your response. Sometimes this may be a useful feature, I agree, actually, quite a few times, but not always. And with Airmail, Mail App, etc. you can’t disable it (as far as I know). With Gmail/ Mailplane this simply doesn’t happen.

And then there’s the calendar tabs, which is one of the best features Mailplane has added this year: you can have open tabs both for your email or for your calendar. I normally need  3 email accounts and 2 calendar accounts open, and Mailplane let’s me have it all open at the same time and easily switch from one to another. This is priceless.

There’s obviously things that I liked from Airplane/ Sparrow/ Apple Mail, but none of them is worth the change. I am going to stick to Gmail/ Mailplane.

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Deberes después de la comida

¿Volveré a escribir en mi blog alguna vez? Parece que la respuesta es sí. Aunque la respuesta definitiva vendrá cuando clique en el botón de “Publish”. Y quién sabe si eso sucederá (ni cuándo).

Hay Cuando empecé a escribir este post había un perro ladrando-aullando en la oficina, y aunque ése no es el tema que lo inspira, se podría decir que tiene algo que ver. Resulta que ayer hace unos días, por primera vez en años (por lo menos 4 o 5), volví a sentir aquella sensación. La de cuando vuelves de comer con los compañeros de trabajo y dices: ‘ostras, tengo que trabajar pero ahora mismo me gustaría leerme tres libros, ver dos pelis, aprender a jugar a ‘Go’ y no sé cuántas cosas más’. Y sólo leerme uno de esos libros ya me llevaría más de un día. Qué estrés.

Cómo lo había echado de menos… y ni tan siquiera me había dado cuenta. Eso me hace pensar que tal vez haya más cosas buenas que haya perdido por el camino sin enterarme, pequeñas cosas que te hacen feliz o que se llevan la felicidad con ellas sin avisar. Malditas. Bueno, que no cunda el pánico, parece que se pueden recuperar, cuando menos te lo esperas, vienen y aparecen. x2 (o por más).

Y hablando de pequeñas cosas que te hacen feliz, cómo me gusta la palabra (inventada, pero palabra) ‘sintigo’. Cada vez que la digo o la escribo- leerla no puedo, a menos que la escriba yo, porque no existe- me parto de risa. Como por ejemplo ahora. Sintigo.

En fin, volviendo al tema de la comida y los deberes. Vayamos por partes.

  • “Vuelves de comer con los compañeros del trabajo”. Volver de comer con los compañeros de trabajo implica que ya no trabajo sola (físicamente), que no como en casa, y que hablo con gente a la hora de comer. Y si además, como yo, tienes la oportunidad de hablar de cosas interesantes, pues te das cuenta de por qué las relaciones humanas son importantes, te sientes persona.
  • Esa sensación ‘de que el cerebro te va a explotar’. Lo decía Gus a veces cuando volvíamos de comer, ‘me gusta ir a comer con vosotros pero hay veces que vuelvo con un montón de deberes’. Sonrisa. Pues eso. Si has estado ahí, sabes lo estimulante que esto resulta. A veces sucede a la hora de comer a veces no, lo que nunca faltan son las personas con las que conectas, las personas a las que estimulas y motivas a la vez que ellas a ti.

Qué bien recuperar esas pequeñas cosas…

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EMP Museum in Seattle, Part II: Nirvana, taking punk to the masses

There’s a big exhibition about Nirvana at the EMP Museum. Apparently, it changes quite often, so don’t assume that it is going to be the same when go there. I had no idea what I’ll find, and there’s a lot of stuff that would have been cool to see. There’s some puzzle pieces,  fun stories, interviews with people close to the band… Anyway, these are my highlights:

First songs recorded

nirvana-edit-maqueta2

nirvana-edit-maqueta3

nirvana-edit-maquetas1

First contract Nirvana signed with Sub Pop

nirvana-edit-subpop-contract

BLEACH

Original picture taken for the cover of the album

nirvana-edit-bleach

Design annotations

nirvana-edit-bleach2

And here’s the final result

bleach-nirvana

NEVERMIND

Notes on the cover for the album…

nirvana-edit-nevermind1

If anyone has a problem with his dick we can remove it

nirvana-edit-nevermind3

We can take out the pool floor just to make it blue water

nirvana-edit-nevermind2

Sweater that Kurt Cobain wore during the ‘Smells like teen spirit’ video

nirvana-edit-sweater-nevermind

IN UTERO

Used for the cover of the album

nirvana-edit-inutero

Guitar smashed by Kurt Cobain (one of many…)

nirvana-edit-guitar

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EMP Museum in Seattle, Part I: SciFi

There’s a museum that you don’t want to miss if you ever go to Seattle: The EMP Museum, which is all about music, science fiction and pop culture. I had no doubt I’d make the tour because they currently have an exhibition about Nirvana, but to our surprise, they  had a SciFi exhibition and a Video Games one, that were pretty entertaining too.

Another cool thing about this museum is the actual building, and specifically:

  • Its architect, Frank Gehry (also know by teh Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Dancing House in Prague, or the MIT Ray and Maria Stata Center in Cambridge, amongst others)
  • The monorail, which goes through the museum.
  • I know I was lucky with the weather, but when the light gets reflected in the surface of the building it creates this beautiful effect on the stairs, in front of the same.

pan-space-needle copy

The SciFi Exhibition

Here’s a collection of items that can be found at the EMP Museum SciFi exhibition. I have to admit that I am not that much a science fiction fan, but I was able to recognize some of the following:

An authentic alien

alien

Superman

superman

A laser sable handle

starwarslaser

An ax… that once belonged to Jack Nickolson

shinning

Terminator

terminator

And some Star Treck stuff

startreck3 startreck1 startreck2

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Seattle, here we go!

They say Seattle is a beautiful city, and I am sure it is, but it is not the reason why I have always wanted to visit it.

I missed the era of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and all the others, I missed it because I wasn’t a teenager yet, and I first listened to ‘About a girl’ just a few months after Kurt Cobain died. I rapidly became addict to the sound of Nirvana, and discovered Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, Alice in Chains, Temple of the Dog,…

And THIS is why I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle so badly, because it had- and I know it’s not they same, but they say it still has- an absolutely crazy and amazing musical scene.

Listening to Nirvana while writing this post, I remember when I asked my mother to knit a striped black and red sweater when I was sixteen. A sweater that I still wear today.

Anyway, here’s a few things I am planning to visit this weekend: The Sound Garden, Easy Street Music Records (West), Experience Music Project, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Black Dog Forge, Sub Pop Records HQ, Reciprocal Recording Studio, Crocodile Cafe, The Garage, and The Showbox.

And of course some non-music related places: Space needle, the locks, and the Chihuli Garden and Glass.

I am loading my phone with a few albums that I am going to listen as I wander through the city. I’m watching “Hype” tonight. And then, I will be ready for the adventure. Seattle, here we go!

And no, I won’t be going to Aberdeen, unfortunately there isn’t time for everything. Next time maybe.

Have I already said that I am so excited? Because I am.

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NBC Store at the Rockefeller Center in NYC

During our visit to New York City a couple of weeks ago, and as genuine tourists, we stopped by the NBC shop at the Rockefeller center. We spent like half an hour there, browsing t-shirts, mugs, hoodies,… you name it. We didn’t buy a thing, but here’s some fun pictures that I took:

The Big Lebowski

01-lebowski

02-lebowski

Community

04-community

03-community

The Office

05-theOffice

Psych

06-psych

07-psych

Friends

08-friends

 

09-friends

The Simpsons

10-theSimpsons

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Confusing confirmation messages and the day I got fined for not parking my bike correctly

Confirmation messages seem like an easy thing to design, but the truth is they are not. And because they seem easy to design, we- product managers, designers- sometimes don’t pay much attention to what we are doing, and built applications that throw very confusing messages. These are three curious examples that I’ve had to deal with, and my suggestions to improve them.

bicing

It’s been a while since I stopped using Bicing but I remember one of the things I didn’t like from their service is that, every time I parked a bike, they confirmed the transaction with a message in color red. In my unconscious  – and in lots of people’s- red means wrong, warning, danger. I get it, red is also their corporate color, but you shouldn’t use just red for a confirmation message if you want your users to think the transaction went through successfully, should you?

Suggestions: I would, at least, use a green √ or, in its absence, a huge- and I mean huge- “Congratulations” message.

minchador

My parents run a restaurant in Calella (Barcelona) and they had never used online marketing nor accepted online reservations until I convinced them to do so.  The system that we use, Minchador, sends us an email- me in that case, because they don’t really like computers- with the information for the reservation, and then it needs to be confirmed by us. Leaving aside the fact that I live in San Francisco and my parents’ restaurant is in Calella, so it’s a nine hour time difference we are talking about here, I find it is a good and practical system. The customer makes a reservation, I receive an email, check availability, confirm, the customer receives a confirmation email. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Problem here is that most of the times, customers don’t realize they are not making a reservation but asking for it, and that it needs to be confirmed.

This the confirmation message they get when they send the form:

conf-lescaves

Suggestions: Hihglighting the confirmation message in a color that is not green, for instance orange. Why not green? Nothing went wrong, but the reservation is not confirmed neither finished yet. I wouldn’t use red either, because as I’ve said, nothing went wrong. You could also show the users they are not finished by using step 1, 2, etc. indications. Another option would be to show a telephone number along with the confirmation message, so that the customers can call if they don’t want to wait for a confirmation email. Showing an estimated wait time, don’t just say “we’ll confirm your reservation whenever we are able to”, say in less than n hours and if you can’t control that, make the users of the system- the restaurants in this particular case- commit with their customers. And finally, explaining the users how are they going to receive the confirmation message. Is it going to be an email? A text message? A phone call?

airbnb

Try contacting a host through Airbnb without being logged in. The confirmation message is not color-confusing, and the text is big enough, the problem here is that, due to the over information we are used to, or messages like “click here to share with your Facebook friends” and “click here to share on Twitter”,  we’ve become blind and sometimes, don’t properly process those so needed confirmation messages. I understand there are other reasons to design such a confirmation message- more users that connect their Airbnb and Facebook accounts, for instance- but that doesn’t mean that, strictly from a user perspective, the message can be confusing.

I’ve recorded a video to better illustrate my point: http://screencast.com/t/wLEvEbVVe3g

What was my experience contacting hosts? After the “confirmation message”, which is not a confirmation message but a “register-or-your-email-won’t-be-send message”, I just closed the window. Next day I thought, ‘mmmm that is weird, yesterday I contacted 10 apartments and I haven’t received a single answer‘. Want to know why? I had sent no emails at all, I had only wrote them and closed all the windows thinking they had been sent, but they hadn’t. And then I rembered that this hasn’t been the first but the second time this happened to me. O_o

Suggestions: Using colors or icons. Colors and icons are a clear indicator of transactions going or not going through. Keeping the form behind the alert message so users can understand that they are not finished sending the form. Focusing on the signup/ login, not on the Facebook connect. I don’t like connecting Facebook with other applications but, if I am required to do so when I am about to contact a host of a room I am interested to rent, I will. No need to convince me with “your friends are using Airbnb”, I already have a strong motivation to signup/ login: your product.

The day I got a 250 euro fine for not parking my bike correctly

Every time I parked my Bicing bike, I thought ‘oh, wait, something went wrong’. Until one day, I stopped worrying about it. One day I received a 250 euro fine because I hadn’t parked the bike correctly and somehow, it got lost. I am not blaming the confirmation messages, but they obviously didn’t help 🙂

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