Is it Time to Revisit Personal Unit Tests?

Back in 2007, there was some talk about personal unit tests. The idea was to apply unit testing, a tenant of Test Driven Development, to some of the mundane, yet important daily tasks of one’s life. Done properly, one could see what their pass rate was, and address problem areas.

Personal Unit Test SpreadsheetThis sounded like a great idea. I created a spreadsheet complete with conditional formatting to track small tasks like “exercise”, “healthy lunch” and “practice guitar”. While it was useful to see how I was doing, the overhead of tracking all of these little tasks was very high. If it could only be automated, like unit tests in TDD, it would be so much better.

Now, 7 years later, our devices are tracking all sorts of things about us. Perhaps most of these unit tests could be automated by querying the repositories of personal data that are being created. Data that can’t be obtained automatically, could come from something like Reporter. I’ve seen several gorgeous visualizations of this data–Aprilzero immediately comes to mind, but I don’t think they are all that actionable throughout the day. This is where unit tests could really shine, maybe.

What a Blog Does, 2014 Edition

Dave Winer posted about the modern role of personal blogs:

The one place, for people who care enough to have a place, has to be independent of tech industry business models.

I couldn’t agree more. We should have the option to have control of what we create; blogs and personal websites give us that control.

There are a number of tools out there that allow one to use other services such as Facebook and Twitter to publish some or all of their content with links back to the source (IFTT immediately comes to mind). After all, it’s a lot easier to publish things on Facebook than it is to convince someone that doesn’t already use RSS regularly to start using it.

One of the things that seems to be missing is an easy way for someone to comment on these postings within their tool of choice and have those comments be available everywhere. For example, if I cross post to Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, any comments left on Facebook are not going to be make it back to my blog, let alone Tumblr or Twitter.

Update 2014-08-24: Chris Roos pointed at brid.gy in a reply to my comment on Dave’s post. It makes the connection between social networks and a blog. So, “likes” and other mentions that would normally stay on the network are posted back to the original source.

MailChimp on Research and Process

Issue 29 of the MailChimp UX Newsletter has some good advice on sharing usability test findings with the wider team. Laurissa Wolfram-Hvass recommends sharing an entire usability test video with time-stamped notes. This lets people get right to the parts of the video they might care about most, but still allows for exploration and additional context as needed.

Last Mile

Last MileA friend just moved offices and he’s now directly across the street from me. The idea is that two transceivers would communicate with each other using visible and infrared light. People on either end could send a message to the other office. The visible light would be sent as morse code, so to a trained observer, the messages would not be private. Also, the transceivers would automatically identify themselves on a regular basis, the identity could include a URL for more information about the project, or even a way to send a message.

I thought this would be a fun little project that would foster some interoffice camaraderie. The idea is far from unique, and it’s a bit redundant given that we could contact each other in a variety of other ways–but it would still be fun to build. However, I’ve given up on the idea for now given that the security people from both firms would rip these transceivers out the moment they found them.