Monthly Archives: February 2015

Simple Kettle is Best Kettle

My parents bought a new electric kettle.

After nearly 4 years of regular trips up the centigrade scale, the rotund Hamilton Beach began sputtering out. Before a complete hot-beverage emergency could froth up, my mother began the arduous process of finding a replacement.

The old kettle.

Goodnight, sweet prince.

You might think that this would be easy, but you would be wrong. Kettles these days seem to either be made with flimsy material, poor ergonomics, 1 or a multitude of modes and configurations. Worse, the price of decently-made kettles has risen since the last purchase. In the end, only two finalists made it through the requirements grindhouse: 2 Simple Kettle, and Digital Kettle.

Digital Kettle has a 4-button control pad and an LCD display. It can boil to a precise temperature (in 5℃ increments), “Keep Warm” (also in 5℃ increments), and can hold the boil for the duration of a timer. The screen was on top, facing up, so you could only see it while standing over it. That screen also lit up, but only while you pressed buttons – there there was no obvious indication of the kettle being on, aside from the eventual boiling of water. I still don’t know if the settings reset every time, or if you needed to manually get it back to defaults.

Simple Kettle turns on and off and has a corresponding light in the switch. 3

If you’ve read this post’s title, then you already know which one was chosen. But this isn’t a story about kettles. 4 It isn’t even really a story about simplicity or clarity in design, either, though both are excellent goals. This is almost a story about user experience, but that’s not quite it either. I’m sharing a story about kettles to make a point about emotions.

Digital Kettle’s problem isn’t that it does too many things. It’s problem is that it leaves the person using it uncertain about what’s going to happen. People feel confused, uneasy, and frustrated. We didn’t want to use this kettle because it made us feel bad feelings. 5

You, me, and several billion other people boil water daily. Kettles don’t exist because water is cold; they exist because people need it to be hot. We need hot water to power our ambition with coffee. We need it to mend a broken heart over tea. We need it to ward off winter’s chill with hot chocolate. Emotion is the atomic driver of commerce. Your job as a designer, developer, and modern-day wizard is to build things for those living, breathing, thinking, feeling people. They’re already feeling things left and right before using your product, and they’ll keep feeling things throughout the entire process.

If you want people to use the thing you built, you absolutely must minimize the bad feelings and maximise the good ones.

And now we return up one level to User Experience (UX), because that’s what it is. UX design is designing emotional experiences. This is why Firefox started apologizing on errors with “Well, this is embarrassing”. It’s why Chrome displays a silly dinosaur and why Microsoft’s Cortana says “The internet and I are not talking right now” when they can’t connect to the net. These builders have recognized that you’ll be frustrated that it isn’t working, so they neutralize your bad feelings with a joke, or an apology, or a silly drawing.

Up another level to the goals of simplicity and clarity. These design tenets are just shortcuts to minimize bad feelings. When there are fewer things to go wrong, fewer things do go wrong. This is the philosophy behind Dirt: everything should do one thing and do it well; otherwise, we’re all in hot water.

Simple kettle is best kettle.

Notes:

  1. Weight distribution and handling confidence is a big plus when carrying around scalding fluid.
  2. My parents made graphs, even. Okay, that’s a lie, but it wouldn’t be out of character.
  3. I’m told by my electrical engineer father that it’s a neon bulb. I learned a lot more about neon bulbs than I really needed to, because of a kettle. I like my family.
  4. Though they are a hot topic. Ba-dum-ptsh.
  5. Under the logo of Digital Kettle’s maker, Moulinex, is the ironic motto “Life Gets Easier”.
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Managing a GoDaddy email address through GMail

GMail is pretty great. Easy to use, accessible regardless of machine, and free. Both Jason and I like to use it for our primary accounts 1. Back in the day, as shiny new business owners, we obviously also wanted to have gleaming, veneered Tenjin-branded addresses.

So, we originally just set up GoDaddy 2 with “Forwarding”-type, <xyz>@tenjin.ca addresses and pointed the spam-cannons at our GMail nexus 3 accounts. Fast forward a couple years, and we need to set up a new email account 4. So we just go in, and make a new Forwarding account, right? Ha! Ha! Gotcha. DevOps, IT and other support never Just Works.

Turns out that Google has, in the interim period, changed its policy on how Send-Mail-As works. It needs to log in with SMTP over SSL 5 now.

After far too much googling about Google I managed to piece together some facts:

  1. There doesn’t seem to be any one place where this process, specifically for GoDaddy, is definitively outlined.
  2. Most people in the Google forums essentially tried random combinations until it worked
  3. The ones who didn’t likely gave up and started constructing a colourful logo-shaped voodoo doll
  4. I hate the internet. And the Web. And especially email protocols.
  5. On the plus side, this process will remove the ugly “via” and “on behalf of” sender tags that reveal the original GMail source.

Once many Bothans died to bring me that new information 6, I cobbled together The Solution. Here it is, generalized 7 so that all you need to do is replace “bob” with your appropriate email name, and “example.com” with your own domain.

Tell GMail to manage a GoDaddy email

Bob wants to use bob@gmail.com to seamlessly manage his GoDaddy email, bob@example.com.

  1. Create a regular Godaddy email account – not a forwarding account.
    1. Log into GoDaddy.
    2. Under Products, find Email. Click Launch
    3. If you have a forwarding account, you’ll need to delete it first.
    4. Click Create to create a regular account for the desired address (eg. bob@example.com). We have enough from the addresses we’re managing, but you might need to buy a package or whatever.
  2. Login to your GMail account. If you don’t have one yet, create it.
  3. Tell GMail how to send mail through your GoDaddy domain.
    1. Click the Gear icon (top right), choose Settings.
    2. Click on -> Accounts and Import ->
    3. Under Send mail as ->, click Add another email address you own
    4. Name: Your name
    5. Email address: Your GoDaddy email address (eg. bob@example.com)
    6. Click Next Step
    7. Use these settings
      • SMTP Server: smtpout.secureserver.net
      • Port: 465
      • Username: Your full GoDaddy email address (eg. bob@example.com)
      • Password: Your Godaddy email account password
      • Select Secured connection using SSL
      • Click Add Account
      • Log into your GoDaddy webmail and grab the verification code that GMail sent. Use that to complete the process.
  4. Tell GMail how to receive mail from your GoDaddy domain
    1. While still under Gear -> Settings -> Accounts and Import,
    2. Scroll down for the Check mail from other accounts (using POP3) section
    3. Click Add a POP3 mail account you own
    4. Email address: Your GoDaddy email address (eg. bob@example.com)
    5. Click Next Step
    6. Use these settings:
      • Username: Your full GoDaddy email again (eg. bob@example.com)
      • Password: Your GoDaddy email account password.
      • POP server: your POP mail server, which is at your domain (eg. mail.example.com). You might also be able to use pop.secureserver.net
      • Port: 995 [this is the SSL port. You want email to be as secure as possible.]
      • Check Always use a secure connection (SSL) when retrieving mail.
      • Leave Leave a copy of retrieved messages on the server unchecked. Enabling this would only eventually fill up the GoDaddy inboxover time. Since we want to use GMail entirely, it makes more sense for this setting to be off.

There you go. That should now run email through your own domain.

Notes:

  1. I should call them “nexus” accounts. It sounds way cooler to call things a “nexus”.
  2. Yeah, deal with it. I’m sure there are better, hipper Dee Enn Esses out there. It’s a devil-you-know-slash-convenience relationship.
  3. See? I told you. Cool as a Canadian cucumber.
  4. For reasons to be explained later.
  5. Okay, maybe SSL isn’t technically required for it to *work* but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do emaily things in the clear.
  6. I lie. I already knew #3.
  7. It’s possible that this might be even further generalizable to other DNS providers, but that’s left as an exercise for the reader.
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