Take a Swig

An occasional perspective from a product designer.

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How to Create a Beautiful Demo of Your iPhone App

While designing the Secret homepage, I decided I wanted to add live footage of the app in action. What I didn’t know is how much of an endeavor it could be if you don’t know all of the tools and their quirks.

I achieved this demo with a few pieces of software on OS X Mavericks:

  1. Touchpose to visualize the touches in your iPhone app
  2. Reflector to capture live output from your iPhone
  3. iMovie to stitch together the clips and add text and special effects
  4. QuickTime Pro to export with the right dimensions and codec

Total software cost: $58

1. Capture live output

Reflector is very easy to use. All you need to do is run the software on your computer and connect your iPhone to your MacBook via AirPlay. Reflector will automatically pick up the connection and start streaming your iPhone’s screen onto your MacBook’s display. Simply press Command-R to start recording and again to stop. Voila....

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Making the Right Resolutions and Sticking To Them

If you’re like me, you might feel spread thin by the number of interests you have and feel like you don’t have enough time to accomplish everything you want. It can also be hard to keep track of everything you want to achieve which can leave you feeling like you’re treading water rather than swimming forward. I wanted to share my personal strategy for figuring out what’s important in life and how to ensure I pursue it effectively.

Every year during the holidays, I sit down and go through the seven steps of an exercise in self discovery and prioritization.

1 - What’s important to you?

The process starts with turning your eyes and ears inward. Sit down, close your eyes and think about everything that is truly important to you. These are likely things that evoke strong emotional reactions when you think about them. Is it family? friends? fitness? wealth?...

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The End of the Facebook Era

With each passing year, Facebook struggles to keep the attention of the future generation. Studies show that the number of teens active on Facebook has declined as much as 16% in Q3 of 2013. This foreshadows the inevitable exodus to the next generation of social networks. I want to talk about why this is happening, and why this is important in the history of social technology.

All social movements dissipate

Facebook’s historical timeline (no pun intended) is very similar to the Four Stages of Social Movements:

  1. Emergence - The early stages of a movement where it begins to gain momentum and generate chatter. Facebook in 2005.

  2. Coalescence - When a movement reaches critical mass and is a force to be reckoned with. Around 2009 when Facebook surpassed MySpace.

  3. Bureaucratization - When a movement becomes formalized. Leading up to an IPO, Facebook becomes a “real company”...

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Ambition

My good friend Dustin Curtis recently proclaimed that “Ambition is a learned trait.”

I couldn’t disagree more. Ambition is not something you learn from a book.

Definition of ambition

Ambition is an emotional longing for change and a healthy disregard for the status quo. It’s aspiring to be more than you are now. It’s a desire to achieve something greater than you with the preparedness and the will to follow through. Ambition is about not being afraid to get excited about ideas. It’s about not being intimidated by your imagination.

“Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.” - Elvis Presley

Can you teach someone to dream?

The problem is too many of us let insecurity rob us of ambition.

How many times have you been quietly excited about an idea or possible future? How many times have you followed through on those moments of inspiration? How many times has doubt...

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The Real Silicon Valley

Bravo’s DNA is not compatible with Silicon Valley’s DNA. The combination results in a show that underplays the true spirit of starting a startup in Silicon Valley and overplays conventional drama. The reason so many of us are disappointed is because the purity of the pursuit has been misrepresented.

The real Silicon Valley will never be televised. What really happens here is far too personal, secret, alienating, and extreme. It runs the entire gamut of human emotions, from billion dollar acquisitions on the one hand, to co-founders committing suicide on the other. I’m not being dramatic. I have witnessed both of these extremes happen to friends. More than once.

Trying to make it in the Valley is all the thrill and drama you need. Blindly careening into the unknown with your laptop, a good friend and co-founder, a server, and an idea that only you believe in. You race...

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Life is like snowboarding

Life is a lot like snowboarding. It’s about leaning forward and keeping your eye on where you’re going. Relax, go with the flow and enjoy yourself. Every so often you might catch an edge, but you get up and keep going.

Once you get to the bottom, your bones may ache and your legs may be sore, but it’s the kind of pain that means something. Because, in the end, you have conquered the mountain.

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Three key principles of designing home-run products

I’ve noticed three key principles that several successful products possess.

1. Provide a novel form of self expression

People love to express themselves. This is why we buy the clothes we like, enjoy customizing our World of Warcraft characters, decorate our apartments, change our profile and cover photos, put bumper stickers on our cars, among many other things. Every decision you make is a form of self expression. Even if you are buying a pair of $5 throwaway glasses for Coachella, you’re exercising your taste whether you’re doing it consciously or not.

If you can provide a fun new way for people to exercise their taste and creativity to express themselves, people will try it. People love trying new things and being the first to spread news to their friends about the new thing, which is always great for a new product.

For examples of novel forms of self expression,...

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A letter from my future self

Dear Chrys,

I write to you from 5 years in the future. You’re 23 and about to quit your job to start a company, and I want to give you some advice.

You want to quit because of an insatiable fire within – a desire to achieve something greater. The fire burns because you want to lead your own life and be your own man. Never doubt this fire, for this is the fire that will fuel everything you do for the next 5 years.

The road ahead will be will be riddled with challenges. The highs will be high, and the lows will be low, but they will never kill you because the fire perseveres. Whatever the size of the challenge, you won’t back down, because the fire won’t let you.

Learn to control the fire. The fire will make you want to push yourself hard, and if you let it push too hard, it will burn you. Pace yourself and understand your physical limits and preserve health....

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The power of community

Cultivation of community is an integral component of successfully developing a social product. It is so integral that I would even say that a social product that doesn’t grow and nurture a community is a product with no legs.

Your community chooses you. You can guide this choice implicitly through product decisions and/or explicitly through your messaging. The combination of both product decisions and messaging is what plants the seed for a community to grow. You are not in full control of what happens next – all you can do is try to steer the ship, but you cannot control the ocean.

In many ways, launching a product is like throwing a party. Word will spread throughout a group of similar people of a similar age range or people with similar interests. On Quora, you enter a room where you can join a community of experts and both consume and demonstrate knowledge. This was...

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