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I wonder why I ever put up with the crap I put up with in San Francisco?

Ten years ago last March was the date when I began life-in-exile from San Francisco. To the amazement of everyone I ever met in the Bay Area I made the decision to leave the nicest city in the US to go live in what some consider to be one of the worst cities in the US, Baltimore. It wasn’t a hard decision though, I was absolutely fed up with being a renter in San Francisco, meanwhile Baltimore had a thousands of affordable homes just sitting there. Despite having some tremendous work opportunities in San Francisco (I had a great career in tech) it all added up to nothing as far as I was concerned if I couldn’t own my own home. A Path to HappinessFrom day one I felt good about Baltimore. Yes it got a little cramped at my sister’s house while I looked for a home, but it still felt good. Suddenly I could do all these things I couldn’t do in San Francisco, like barbecue, and gardening. It was quieter, more laid back, everything became a lot easier. I was a lot less stressed out. The trade …
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My Awesomely Surreal Experience at Facebook’s F8 c.a. 2007

It was about this time 11 years ago that Facebook opened up to the world. It was Spring in San Francisco and I was working a little stint at prosper.com. The CTO and Product Manager were a couple of well connected Stanford guys, and one day we were driving down to Palo Alto to go to Facebook’s headquarters. I didn’t really get what was going on. Although some of my other colleagues were encouraging me to check out Facebook for it’s interface and interaction design, I had never gotten on the site. I didn’t possess a dot EDU email address, I was too old for that for RISD. So there I was cruising down to Palo Alto with two guys to go meet with Dave Morin not really knowing what the heck was going on.

We breeze into Facebook’s office, greeted by Dave right away. It was a really cool office and people we met were young, and this was not the kind of start-up I was used to. Prosper's CTO had been my boss at a previous job. Facebook was effortlessly cool compared to that company my old bo…

How to Help Grandparents with Their Technology

I'm sitting here writing this on my dad's old iMac realizing I could have done a better job helping him with technology over the past few years. I feel like a bad daughter, an interaction designer ought to do a lot better for their parents. My dad was very capable, and fiercely wanted his independence, so I didn't bother him.  Still, I was already doing "tech support" for friends and strangers, and I'm realizing now that I could have saved myself a bit of work after he passed me on his gadgets. So here's my advice to people who have an older parent or friend, even if they are not a luddite!

Make yourself the Admin.
Set up their gmail, give yourself access.  Give them their password, make sure it's super easy to remember but tell them not to reuse this password for any reason anywhere.

Set up their iCloud, Amazon Prime, YouTube etc tethered to their new Gmail.  Yes, plug their credit card into these accounts, they're still independent! Give them their…

Why Can't Columbus Day Just Be A Food Holiday?

Today is Columbus Day. I never gave the day much thought really, except it's a Federal Holiday and in the past few years it's been a paid holiday I get to take. A few years ago a friend of mine posted to Facebook about Christopher Columbus, in doing so she enlightened me about what a shit the guy was.

I was in my forties by the time I figured out what a giant douchebag Christopher Columbus was. Seems like a lot of people are just figuring it out because now, all of a sudden, people are defacing statues of him. There's a lot of questioning of patriarchy in 2017. To me, I have to say, Columbus symbolized America, the inception of this place I call home, more than he symbolized patriarchy. And, let's admit that pretty much every European explorer in the 1700s was a prostitute of patriarchal colonialism. So why can't we be realists about the past? Why can't we just celebrate America and how Italians have made America great? With food?

My mother was Italian American…

Steph's Advice to Fix Uber

Dear Uber,
Here we are. You've finally canned Travis Kalanick, what took you so long? You used to be cool but that was like, four years ago. For the past couple of years it just feels like you've been coasting off of your success from the past. How much longer can that go on? I guess if I was being showered with VC gold I would be hanging onto those old victories too. But you're a tech company, you provide a service to consumers, haven't you learned anything from your neighbors at Apple and Google about delighting customers? I'm sorry but you need to try harder. Your vision needs to be much much bigger, and it needs to include people outside of the C suite or Uber won't last.

If I may give some advice to your product, UX, and marketing teams it would be this:

Build up your brand I know, I know, you think you did this already. But you didn't. I have never seen a single ad from Uber encouraging me to ride. No TV ads, no radio, no print ads, not even internet …

How to NOT Get Your Email Hacked

Never transmit STDs - Software Transmitted Diseases

I came up with this saying over 10 years ago. And today it's more relevant than ever thanks to Google Docs. Fortunately there are some simple rules I'd like to share and please feel free to pass this along.

The rule is simple - NEVER click on a link emailed to you unless you can absolutely verify it is legitimate.

Sub rule 1: If the email with link is from a business like your bank or from any online account you might have - Go directly to that website instead of clicking on the link in your email.

Sub rule 2: Tell friends, family and colleagues not to send you emails that look phishy. If they must share something over email ask them to at least write a sentence or two along with the link to show that the email is legitimate.

Sub rule 3: DO share with everyone these rules.

Comments Unchained

When I run for president, will people dredge up this blog? Will people even know to connect this, with me, and what will happen when that happens? Answer, probably a lot of crap I never expected to happen will happen.

I used to think comments were the best thing to happen to the internet. Right around 2007, when Facebook opened up to the rest of the world I marveled at their interface. The interaction design was perfection. My photo sitting right there next to a little box practically making me reply to every little thing posted to Facebook. Compelling and sticky, the perfect User Experience really connecting people, with words. This type of interface had already been around, in the form of self publishing and "user generated content". I loved the disruption a decade ago, especially when in 2009 Gourmet magazine ceased and the editor, Christopher Kimball penned his gripes in the New York Times.

"The shuttering of Gourmet reminds us that in a click-or-die advertising mark…