Erik I

My public writing. You can reach me at @eitland@mstdn.io

Filed under #100daysToOffload and #lifeInNorway

This week I made a sign on my office door at home.

It is placed approximately at the middle of the door.

It is part fun and partly I also hope that the kids will understand that I'm actually at work.

I am also planning to tidy up my tool shed and create an almost 2 x 2 square meter office there. That will have to wait until next week or the week after though.

Also I would probably use more images in my post if adding them wasn't so much of a hassle.

Filed under #life and #100DaysToOffload

I've been quiet here for a few days.

A good friend of mine died a couple of weeks ago. He was old. It was no surprise.

He was a good man, I think almost everyone loved him, especially those who knew him well.

I became 40 earlier this year, and it strikes me that I am one of the grown ups now. I'm the one who's responsible for making life better for those around me now, in the same way generations before us have done.

It is mostly small things: hiking in the weekends, inviting people over (when allowed), fixing bikes, driving kids around to meet friends and for soccer (again, when allowed).

It feels like a huge responsibility, but it also makes my life interesting.

Filed under #100DaysToOffload and #ideas

Several things have happened since last time I wrote on the sixth of May, most of them irrelevant to this blog. Suffice to say is that I'm reminded why I didn't take this 100DaysToOffload challenge until I realized it didn't have to be 100 consecutive days.

Generally there are way too many things that tries to get my attention, or worse, start background processes that causes me expenses if I don't pay attention. One particularly annoying one is free trials where one has to sign up using credit cards or Apple Pay.

I can easily realize why companies try this. Recurring revenue is fantastic after all, it is just that I cannot subscribe to every

  • newspaper that I ever follow a link to
  • and every useful app or website that I use from time to time

and while I might sign up for a free month's subscription and put a task with a due date in my system to disable it after 29 days I don’t care anymore. My attention is better spent elsewhere. Also, and this is worse: in many cases it seems like a dark pattern.

This means many newspapers and apps that I would happily have paid to read/use once in a while doesn't get anything since I also block ads.

The latest ones to miss out include Duolingo, a rather nice language learning app that I play again now that my kids are old enough to like it. Knowing that they'll probably be bored or have forgotten it in a month I don't want to subscribe and also, as mentioned above, 7 days free seems like a dark pattern to me at this point.

If they had tokens however I would have bought, both to support them and because I wanted some of the perks (most notably the test to check my current skills so I wouldn't have to ho through all the basics yet again).

No however they get nothing, same as almost every newspaper (I have two subscriptions and I also send some money to the Guardian about half the times I read anything there it seems, since they are the only one that I read that accepts that).

Edit: ran this text through Grammarly. They too miss out on any payment as the hassle of having to deal with more subscriptions just isn't worth it for me.

Filed under #ux

A week or two ago I bought some brake parts for my car.

As I entered the site and entered my plate number to get parts recommendations I saw a notice saying that unlike many auto parts webshops they would try to only show me the one relevant part if they knew which part I needed.

As someone who doesn't have much training or experience from the field this felt great. And as only one alternative showed up, and even in a bundle consisting of all the parts I needed I happily added it to the cart and checked out.

Imagine my surprise and when – a few days later – I had raised the car, removed a wheel, disassembled a lot of stuff only to find that the parts were way too small.

The following day I contacted the webshop to ask for an explanation and after waiting for a long time and being hung up on when the first representative tried to transfer my call[0] I finally got through to someone who could tell me what had happened[1]:

  • It turns out my car exists in two editions: a normal edition and a heavy-duty edition. My car is the heavy-duty edition.

  • Also on the webshop there's another ux hack that filters away products that aren't in stock.

Turns out the combination of

  1. Showing only one product if possible (and pointing it out very clearly, causing me to lower my guard)

  2. Not showing out of stock items

  3. The correct part for my car being out of stock

caused me:

  • several days of extra waiting time,

  • extra work as I had to reassemble the car without fixing it and disassemble it again 5 days later to finally fix the problem

  • extra hassle as I have to return the parts I first ordered

Summary: I've previously written that “Good UX is hard. Making things simpler is hard. Part of what makes it hard is that you are supposed to keep the useful properties while simpifying it.”. For me (as a non-designer that just happens to care a lot) this is kind a new category. This isn't the usual ux designer “simplifies” <product > by removing the actual parts that certain users need or ux designer “simplifies” <product> by introducing metaphors that <designer > loves but which are completely unknown to the user base, this – in my book at least- is an actually interesting ux challenge.

compared to a number of my other posts about ux where I wonder what designers were thinking or if they had thought closely about the design at all, this is a more interesting case since in this case it was actually the sum of two somewhat good ux ideas led to very poor ux in the end.

[0]: and here I realize call forwarding might be a good starting point for a new post on ux problems, they seem notoriously hard to get right).

[1]: he could also tell me that I wasn't the first to report this problem and their dev team had already gotten it on their plate.

Filed under #100DaysToOffload and #lifeInNorway

It is now 0607 in the morning and I just heard some seriously loud music outside and the only reason why it is surprising is because there's an ongoing pandemic.

Every year in May, students who are finishing their twelfth (or so) year celebrate russetid, (“russ” time) by driving around, getting drunk, and generally being teenagers – but in Norway this has to be done before the exams 🤯.

When one thinks about it it is so amazingly stupid it is hard to describe, but here we are: even in the middle of a pandemic, getting drunk, getting way too little sleep, and generally wasting a few weeks on partying has to be done. And it obviously has to be done before the exams it seems.

Filed under #ux and #challenges

Recently my bank delighted me by replacing the steps to transfer money between my own accounts by a vastly simplified version. Here's what the old version felt like:

Step 1: First move to the transfer tab.

Step 2.1: Open the drop down to select an account to transfer money from

Step 2.2: Select the account to transfer money from

Step 2.3: Touch Select

Step 3.1: Select the account to transfer money to

  • Step 3.2 and 3.3: repeat step 2.2 and 2.3.*

Step 4: click on the amount field, then type an amount and click OK (yes, I'm feeling generous here).

Step 5: finally click transfer

This gets old really fast but I wasn't aware just how bad it was until an improved flow showed up as part of the beta program that I participate in.

I'll leave this here in case anyone wants to give it a stab, and I'll try to get around to posting their solution.

BTW: illustrations are created using the excellent excalidraw, open source and reasonably easy to work with.

Feel free to send me a message @eitland@mstdn.io if you have a better flow. I don't exactly have many readers so I don't expect this to happen but at least it is an option. I don't care. I write because I think writing is smart.

Filed under #ideas #iOS and #internet

This is just an idea and I haven't thought to closely about it yet, but what if we made a browser similar to Opera Mini? I.e. a proxy server on the backend would download the pages, render them and ship a snapshot of the DOM to the actual browser, only with all the links rewritten to point to itself?

Alternatively this could even work without a separate browser instance but the ux would be harder.

Obviously this could create a lot of privacy issues but it is not completely clear cut that it couldn't be better for some people:

  • running ad and tracking scripts on my actual devices also comes with privacy problems.
  • the server could be open source and the business model could be to sell access to pre-configured, hosted proxies.

Filed under #music

Haven't seen the movies, but the music has helped me focus the last few days:

Filed under #100DaysToOffload and #lifeInNorway

During the weekend I enjoyed fixing the armrest on my porch swing.

I also ordered some brake parts which I hope will be here by tomorrow.

Yesterday, after trying to work a full day from my spare bedroom/office I filled the back of the car with assorted garbage and drove it to the recycling center. I feel kind of lucky compared to some friends of mine that I met up there that were dumping their third trailer full of stuff from their garden and basement.

Yesterday was also the day where I decided to take down the tent in the garden as it was starting to get annoying to have to move it around in the garden to avoid damaging the lawn. It is starting to become a family tradition it seems to tent outside around easter or as soon as the snow is going away, but this year the tent stayed up until now, partially as an emergency office should it become too noisy inside the house and partially as a place for the kids to play when they weren't allowed to go elsewhere.

While packing the tent I found a bumblebee that had somehow got trapped inside. Poor creature. I try to help those in the spring and I tried to keep the tent closed, mostly as a precaution against cats, but when the kids play they leave it open and I sometimes forget to check that it is closed before I go to bed.

It now seems my iPhone alarm clock is enough to get me out of bed before 0400. That would be great as the Sleep app does not exist for iPhone and all the others that did exist lacked the killer feature from Sleep: an NFC scanner that could be configured to be the only way to turn the thing off.

This morning I have found some interesting software/websites:

Filed under #100DaysToOffload, #ImperfectRestaurations

We got a porch swing this weekend, and I made a new armrest:

Armrest, seen from right side.

Armrest, seen from left side.

The previous armrest was so rotten it could be picked apart by hand and was not in one piece when I got it so i had to be a bit creative and use everything I learned in the woodworking class in seventh grade and some and then apply some elbow grease on top :–)

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