Notes from David Hendee

Carbon Five + Cooper: Exploring Alexa & the Future of Voice UIs

By on in C5 Labs, Design, Development

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Recently, designers and technologists from Cooper & Carbon Five sat down to brainstorm about the future of voice-driven user experiences, focusing initially on Alexa. It was a fun kickoff for what we hope turns into a series of prototypes and experiments exploring (and pushing) the boundaries of this exciting emerging technology. Here’s what we’ve discovered so far:

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Introducing Presto

By on in Everything Else

Note: If you’re looking for information on Houdini or Toggle, you’re in the right spot. After changing the project name from Toggle to Houdini (for SEO reasons), we’ve switched again (there was another Houdini already). If you know of another language called “Presto” please let us know, we’ve got more names.

At Carbon Five we pride ourselves in crafting amazing web experiences using the best tools and technologies available. Over the years we’ve tried basically every language and framework combo there is. Java & Spring, Ruby & Rails, Python & Django, JavaScript & Node, Go & ??, C# & ASP.NET (OK, not that one), and even Perl & PHP (or that one).

Over the years we’ve noticed that it seems like every day, all day, all our fancy code boils down one basic thing: showing and hiding DIVs. That’s it. Send a bunch of DOM to the browser, then toggle those DIVs on and off. Logged in? Show a DIV. Logged out? Hide a DIV. Click a tab? Yup, another DIV.

So, we’ve gone and done it. We wrote our own language, Presto. And Presto is all about showing and hiding DIVs. Fast. How? Read on. It’s like magic.

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Blocked by Design? Get Into a Design Flow with Story Triage

By on in Everything Else

In the years since we’ve been providing integrated design and development on agile teams, we’ve noticed something that seems to emerge naturally on projects that are going particularly well. While we always set out to design our products in small releases, refactoring along the way (i.e. “the smallest whole“), often designers find themselves quickly under a ton of pressure from the developers, who are looking for well-defined stories to work on, sometimes after only a week of product definition.

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Even once the overall product design is in place, each week brings a handful of new features that developers are eager to start. In addition, sometimes a teammate will throw a story into the backlog that is just an idea, not even ready for a designer to elaborate. At times it can feel like our team is a fiery coal-burning engine (our product manager and developers) starving for fuel (the design).

Without time for a complete set of wireframes (let alone visual designs) designers sometimes have to get a little creative. Not every story can get the same level of definition, and a one-size-fits-all workflow (e.g. design, build, deploy) doesn’t really make sense for every feature. We’ve found a set of activities useful when the team feels “blocked by design.” I like to call it Story Triage.

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Spring Summit Diary

By on in Everything Else

Last week all of Carbon Five converged on Santa Monica for our bi-annual Summit to talk, eat, and play together. The theme for this season’s summit was Mobile, but as expected some of the most interesting conversations ranged far afield: from the challenges and opportunities of integrating design on Agile teams, to silly employee origin stories, and a thoughtful discussion about diversity.

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Following is a summary of the two-day event. If you’re curious about the presentation content, let us know and we’ll figure out a way to share the outcomes with you. More photos of the event can be found on our Facebook page.

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Kablammo! The Ruby Robot War Has a Winner

By on in Everything Else

At this year’s GoGaRuCo, we ran a coding contest called Kablammo. Contestants submitted robot strategies and their ‘bots fought it out in the arena at Kablammo.io for a chance to win a Printrbot Simple 3D printer. After more than 20 entries and 1,000 battles, we’re ready to announce the winner!

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Congratulations to Jeff Moore (AKA jhmoore) for his robot Yashwantrao Holkar. Jeff works at Mavenlink as a software engineer, and his hobbies include riding motorcycles way too fast, podcasting about terrible things on the internet, and baking pies.

There were a lot of great entries, but after checking out Jeff’s code and pitting his strategy against all comers in both one-on-one and one-on-many battles, he emerged as the winner. He’ll be receiving his Printrbot in the mail and we look forward to seeing what he prints up with it.

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We’d like to thank all of the participants. We had a ton of fun coding the tournament and hope you had as much fun playing. We’ll be running more Kablammo tournaments in the future, so keep an eye on the blog. In the meantime, feel free to check out the repo, run your own server, or submit a robot into the public arena.


Lean in the Enterprise: an Evening with Brant Cooper & Patrick Vlaskovits

By on in Everything Else

Please join us at Carbon Five in San Francisco on Thursday, August 29th at 6:30pm for a special evening featuring Brant Cooper & Patrick Vlaskovits as they share their unique perspective on entrepreneurship in the enterprise drawn from their own experience and as authors of New York Times bestseller, The Lean Entrepreneur.

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Brant & Patrick will be joined by Bennett Blank, Innovation Leader at Intuit, and the three will share their insights into the particular challenges with bringing Lean to the enterprise. Topics for discussion include:

  • Legal & Branding – Existing enterprises incur significant risk by running experiments with their existing customers.
  • Human Resources – Behaving like an intrapreneur requires skills that are quite different from those of an enterprise employee.
  • Leadership – Your employees are not the only people in the organization that will need to behave differently.
  • Sales & Marketing – As your product teams embrace this new way of working they will need to learn how to handle their own sales & marketing.

The evening will include a happy hour, Q&A session, and book signing by the authors. Space is limited for this invite-only event, so please RSVP.

Details & RSVP →


Coming Soon: Lane Halley at Silicon Beach Fest 2013

By on in Events

We’re super psyched that Lean UX guru and Carbon Five designer extraordinaire Lane Halley is speaking at this year’s Silicon Beach Fest, held in Santa Monica from June 19 – 22.

Lane will participate in a Lean UX panel, with Jaime R. Levy from JLR Interactive, and Chris Chandler from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online. Be sure to say ‘hi’ to Lane after the talk and grab a Carbon Five t-shirt or some stickers.

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Photo: Jaime, Chris and Lane present at the Los Angeles User Experience Meetup

Other Silicon Beach Fest speakers include friends of Carbon Five William Hsu from MuckerLab and David Carter from Amplify; along with interweb luminaries Sarah Austin of Pop17, GRP Partner Steven Dietz and Alisa Gould-Simon, Co-Founder of Pose.

Get Your Ticket to Silicon Beach Fest 2013 →

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