I'm a designer and product strategist who works with the fine folks at Funsize in Austin, TX.


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Designing Empty Gestures

2017 has been marked by a series of terrible tragedies. From the Las Vegas shooting, New York's fatal truck attack and the Sutherland Springs church shooting just this past weekend. People are sharing their thoughts (and prayers) on social media and a few product companies are sharing similar remarks.

Last week I tweeted about a Spotify playlist made in regards to the New York event. This week I was greeted by a new playlist in reaction to yet another tragedy. For some, this may be a warm gesture on Spotify's part. For others (myself included) it feels like they're exploiting tragic events for more streams. This is a pretty bleak view, but these playlists do next to nothing to help the victims. They do succeed in reminding the user that Spotify appears to be a sympathetic company yet chooses to withhold any means of acting on it.

It's as if there's a team of people who's job it is to prepare the perfect playlist to accompany the worst events in some people's lives. For the rest of us, it's an empty gesture that offers no value other than a continued desensitization of extreme violence. The moment a company talks about tragedy, there should be thoughts of balance between human emotion and the message you're sending. This isn't Stranger Things, this is real, actual death.

There is a huge opportunity here for Spotify to elevate their brand. Harness the power of 140 million active users to help real people. If you build a way for your users to support others, they will (just look at Kickstarter). Just adding one button to donate money to relief efforts can change the message from 'exploitive faux-sympathy' to a force of good which uses music to bring people together.

Here's a quick a dirty take on how they can enrich these playlists:

Home Page w/ CTA to help

Podcast detail with GoFundMe integration


Write Everything.

Before I respond to a Slack message, I write my reply in iA Writer. Before I reply to an email, I write it down in iA Writer. Before I compose a tweet, I write it down. In iA Write.

Regardless of the significance, I archive each potential message I send to another person. This is the designer in me apprehensive to share anything I don't think is passable. It's also part ownership of my words and part self-effacing education. iA Writer's interface is a hyper-focused canvas that removes all UI elements except for the cursor and your words. There are a few cool features like night and typewriter mode which nail down your focus even more than running stock.

I'm not personally attached to the app, however I haven't found another one that is so restrictive and readable (no-one should read or write in 12 point font). The only thing it's missing is a Hemingway extension.

Since taking my responses to a familiar canvas, I've been able to relax and really think about what the other person is actually saying. I have a bad habit of assuming the worst when it comes to reading other people's messages. I haven't figured out why that is, but this method of response has helped more than I thought it would. Some of my friends have told me to try imagining the other person being extremely positive as they send their message, but that didn't help much.

I used to write reactively and usually within seconds of the message. iA Writer has helped calm my introverted tendencies and highly recommend capturing yourself this way if you haven't tried it.

iA Writer


Technics SA-200 Stereo Receiver Stealth HTPC

The main goal with this build was to create a low power consuming piece of classic furniture that will keep my entertainment system looking clean and tasteful. It involved a lot of hacking, sawing, desoldering, curse words and beer. We both made it out the other side lookin' fine.

The rear is a nightmare to look at, but the main show is the front casing with the brushed aluminum, working power and "HDD" lights (I'm using the FM signal led for this). The power switch had to be installed upside down since I didn't want the hassle of hacking a momentary switch. I had to make decisions on the fly to complete the build in a unique case such as mounting the hard drives vertically and replacing the original bulb lighting with a low power LED strip.

I'd like to get an Arduino to make the knobs, switches, and FM quality gauge functional but as it is today I'm pretty dang impressed with it :)

View the build on PCPartpicker