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Notes from PAX East 2015 (Part 1 / 3 – Social Stuff)

I went to PAX East 2015! It was awesome! I took a lot of notes!

(Part 2: Making & Selling Games)
(Part 3: Dungeon Mastering)

Here are the notes from the “social media / dealing with people” type talks.

Enabling Co-Op Mode

Tracy Hurley, Christine Chung, Georgia Dow

  • Social Identity Theory
    • We need to form groups to survive. We want to protect our group. We like to form an identity with out group. We form “ourselves”, and “belong” to the ingroup. The outgroup is the “other”.
    • We protect our identity as part of our own self-esteem. We think of our ingroup as better than they really are.
    • Now we have globalization which goes against this.
    • Actors in Planet of the Apes took to ingroups that matched their ape costumes.
    • Power and Identity
      • Conflict due to differences in identity
    • It’s the self-esteem connection to identity and connection to in-group (views) that is “the problem”
    • Cognitive Dissonance
    • Social Resources
      • What are they?
    • One of the things to do is contact, actually meet the outgroup to realize that they are more diverse. We see our ingroup as diverse but the outgroup as monolithic stereotypes. (“varied” / “unrealistic” )
    • Just putting people in the same place doesn’t work, but getting them to work together does.
    • Replace the “instance” of the outgroup with an actual human being.
    • Use gaming to reinforce, or, hopefully, break down these stereotypes.
      • Stereotype break down is not about repetition but about diversity of experiences with “The other”
      • Aggressiveness breeds aggressiveness.
    • We want to be seen and accepted. We want our feelings to be seen and accepted.
    • Remember that some [trolls] may be upset about something else.
      • Don’t build up ammo
      • Aim your weaponry, just not at each other
      • Accept that you do not have to agree, to win
      • We don’t have to be right
      • We want peace, space, and reception, if not agreement
    • Look for common ground (what do both people care about?)
    • People who are uncomfortable with uncertainty are more likely to end up in conflict.
    • Use “I” statements, not “You” statements [when dealing with trolls]. Also pay attention to body language (this doesn’t translate well online).
    • Accountability.
    • Don’t feed the trolls?
      • The trolls aren’t ususally actually upset about *this*, but this is the forum in which they express the anger.
      • Games as *escape*, to get away from other *anger*, which follows them into the game.
      • Remember that you’re not just speaking to the troll but also the audience. So make sure you speak in a way that brings people together, not divides them.
      • Pause, wait, breathe, calm down before posting.

Player Select: Identifying with our virtual selves (video)

Alexa Ray Corriea, Neha Tiwari, Mitch Dyer, Elisa Melendez, Mike Laidlaw

  • Background Reading One: Leveling Up for Dummies
  • Background Reading Two: The Proteus Effect
  • More attractive avatars walked closer and divulged more information in game
  • People rarely (3%) create “scary” or “unattractive” avatars
  • Men trended toward average avatars, women toward attractive avatars.
  • Katrina Fong is doing cool research. Also Aria Bendix.
  • People who are comfortable with themselves don’t have such strong tendencies to create heroic or beautiful avatars.
  • Character creation is intentional.
  • Convince the player that the relationship is real and not the result of some systems.
  • Samantha Traynor is a good example of a character who breaks the “sex as reward” system (for male Shep) by turning him down no matter his advances.

Soylent Soylent Soylent Eggs

I’m trying Soylent as an experiment. This is my 7th day eating it. Here’s my blog post for the past 6 days of Soylent if you’re interested.

Woke up today tired, but enjoyed myself a glass of Soylent in the morning, made with some vanilla (for flavor) and salt (for not keeling over). Definitely bodily tired – a kind of dull aching tired that wasn’t exhaustion or sleepiness. It went away after I was up and about though.

Work went slowly today. I worked from home, and I’m either just checked out already for my upcoming wedding (I leave for Michigan next Tuesday and end a year of long-distance relationship for good!) or the Soylent is slowing me down. I’m actually going to say it’s the wedding. Body-wise I felt pretty great today.

Soylent for lunch, dinner. I had two cups of green tea with lunch which was enough caffeine to propel me until the end of the workday. Again, not tired today. I usually get exhausted at 8pm since that’s right after I eat a heavy dinner, but on Soylent I just kind of coast across these previously rugged ups-and-downs. This is pretty similar to what some other people have reported.

Way less gas today either. I didn’t eat as much Soylent as I did yesterday. The Chinese food is out of my system as well, I think. Plus I’m just finally getting used to the fiber and high Glycemic Index.

I was really craving some salt-and-pepper scrambled eggs around 1 a.m., though, so I just made those and ate them. I’m actually writing this blog post with my laptop perched on the stove. They were fluffy and delicious.

I think that means I’m still not getting enough salt, because salt tastes really good to me right now. Soylent only contains 45% of the RDA of salt, so that’s not a surprise. How does one go about monitoring their … blood-salt percentage? Should I keep track of my blood pressure?

I made it two full days on Soylent before eating something else. But midnight super-salty eggs are delicious and I’m glad I made them. I’m thinking that after I get back from my wedding (where I won’t be able to eat Soylent since I won’t have it with me) I might switch to just having Soylent for Breakfast and/or lunch. We’ll see.

From Brooklyn,


Six Days of Soylent So Far

I promised Pedro that I would start blogging when I started on my Soylent diet, so here goes. I’m a bit late, considering that I actually started in on Soylent a few days ago, but preparations for my wedding have kept me away from the blagosphere.

I’ll assume the reader is familiar with the purpose and origin of Soylent. Otherwise, I recommend this well-written article on the matter.

I ordered Soylent ten months ago, and it is finally here! The wait is over, and I get to embark on this crazy experiment in food hacking.

Day 0: Paraphernalia

My Soylent Starter Kit arrived today. I’m excited.

Everything I Need To Make Soylent, Apparently

Everything I Need To Make Soylent, Apparently

That’s a 2L BPA-free container with a great twist-off top, a scoop, and some instructions. The actual soylent arrived the next day.

Day 1: Soylent Begins

A rather large, white box arrived at work. It contained four smaller boxes, each a week’s worth of powder, supplemented with seven tiny bottles of oil.

2014-08-01 19.47.16

The Soylent Arrives

2014-08-01 19.59.59

The large box contained four of these, each a week’s worth of powder and oil. Instructions were laid on top.

Instructions for Soylent

Instructions for Soylent. The full (amended) instructions are available at instructions.soylent.me

I’ve been anticipating this for a while – I was in the first batch of backers when the kickstarter-esque purchasing opened. I can’t eat gluten, dairy, or chocolate. So, while Soylent is *barely* not gluten free, it’s at least better than trying to figure out what will and won’t make me feel awful on a daily basis, and sometimes guessing painfully wrong.

Who knew couscous was pretty much entirely wheat?

Let’s make some Soylent!

Just add water

Just add water

2014-08-01 21.35.22

I added water

I describe the taste as “purposefully nondescript”. As Rob says on his blog:

I assumed I would quickly get tired of the taste but this does not happen. I accidentally stumbled on what the soft drink industry uses to make sure people never get tired of Coca-Cola, “sensory-specific satiety”. If a taste is pleasant, but not very specific, the brain does not tire of it.

I think of it as chalky pancake batter, but a bit thinner. It’s not bad. It’s not particularly delicious either, but I can see myself not getting tired of it.

Day 2: Soylent For Breakfast

With family in town, I didn’t have a chance to go full-on Soylent. I had Soylent for breakfast this morning, but nothing more.

No changes in appetite or anything else so far – it’s as though I ate a full breakfast. No gas, normal mental state.

Day 3: Soylent for Breakfast and Late Night Meal

Again, a light Soylent diet. Don’t worry – things are about to get interesting.

Day 4: Dizziness

This was the first Soylent workday! I poured myself a glass of the stuff, another liter into a Nalgene for later, and hopped on the subway.

At work I could already tell that my brain was off – I was feeling somewhat light-headed and definitely wasn’t all there. I would forget small things and push really strange errors in my code that I definitely would have caught if I had been running at full power.

Around 11 a.m. I was definitely light-headed and nauseous. I excused myself and sat in the bathroom for a while. Was it time to call off the experiment, so soon? Did I just need to push through this – navigate the Columbia River on my way to the Willamette Valley?

I posted on reddit. Responses indicated that I was either low on blood sugar, or there wasn’t enough salt in my Soylent. Not having a quick way to measure my glucose levels, I went with the latter and put some salt in a cup of Soylent and drank it, washing it down with about a liter and a half of water.

By 1 p.m. I had pretty much returned to normal.

Even today (day 6) I am still somewhat “distant” – as though my brain were operating on some sort of low-power mode. My memory is shoddy and I can’t do the kind of high-level abstract reasoning that is required for programming. I’ve heard from some other “Soylent Pioneers” that this goes away after a few days and the brain starts to run at 150%. We’ll see.

One of my friends had a birthday party that night so I decided to get some real food in me. For lunch I had a burger (no bun) and fries. I attended an excellent Hacker School talk by Daniel Espeset that night, and ate the delicious (Indian?) food provided.

I drank just under one “drink” of alcohol at the party, since I wasn’t sure what Soylent would do to my tolerance. Some reports say that it lowers your tolerance quite a bit, and for myself at 130lbs, I’m already unable to deal with much.

That one “drink” got me comfortably warm but not buzzed. So, yes, I think it does lower my tolerance even further, which I didn’t think was possible. Further testing is needed.

Day 5: Sleep In

With the full understanding that actions – not intent – is what matters, I’m pretty proud of myself for this being the first time I’d overslept since starting my new job. I have a pretty solid excuse as well – I woke up, hit the “one hour less” instead of the “one hour more” button on my alarm clock, and dozed peacefully until noon.

But, maybe this was the Soylent’s fault as well? I just (day 6) tried to turn on the lights in the room I’m in and spent a good five seconds swiping at the wrong wall, wondering where the switch was.

Either the Soylent isn’t powering my brain properly or I’m already becoming an old man. Hopefully the former.

Upon arrival at work, however, I was feeling better about the whole thing, and had a pretty productive day.

Chinese food for dinner – still not ready to commit 100% to Soylent.

Day 6: The Gas

A lot of people have reported having pretty bad gas on Soylent. There are some hilarious posts about this. From the second:

It was bad. These weren’t mere ha-ha toot kinds of emissions; this was hair-raising. It was room-clearing, horse-killing, World War I mustard gas-type gas. I migrated from room to room in the house like I was giving up territory to the Kaiser, my face fixed in an expression of horror as green hell-fumes trailed behind me, peeling paint and wilting plants.

Now! The chinese food I ate last night *probably* contained gluten, so it’s entirely possible that my sudden onset of why-don’t-you-work-from-home-tomorrow flatulence is from that. More testing is needed on this as well. This testing won’t be nearly as fun as the former.

I am working from home tomorrow, just in case.

I also tried drinking some caffeine today. Here’s one great thing about Soylent: I haven’t felt like I needed a cup of tea or can of soda since I started. I’m always comfortably awake, which also makes it a lot easier to fall asleep naturally. I have some problems with caffeine, namely that I’m very sensitive to it and drinking a coca-cola after about 3 p.m. makes me wide-eyed until 5 a.m.

I had one can of coca-cola today and It’s provided me with the power to write this post. Hopefully I can get to bed at a reasonable hour.

For the third time, further testing is needed. It would be neat to be able to run my brain at full tilt for an entire day on a cup of green tea.

I’m going to have Soylent for dinner, which will make this my first 100% Soylent day.

From Brooklyn,


Perfect Craft, Imperfect Art

I was talking with my good friend Evan, discussing our philosophies of making things. Evan, a classically trained pianist, recalled an aphorism of one of his mentors:

Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

This makes sense in some fields. In playing a piano, if one practices sloppily, one will perform sloppily – incorrect finger positions practiced over and over again will be nearly impossible to correct. I worry about this when I play StarCraft 2: Without guidance from a professional, are the keystrokes I make a thousand times going to be so ingrained that I won’t be able to adjust myself to the practices that will take my skill to the next level?

Attempting to apply this method to creative works fails miserably! A writer cannot write perfectly every time, nor a painter control to the molecule what their paint will do. Designers cannot always know what the user is going to want.

A programmer attempting to make a thousand perfect programs will leave themselves mired in a death by a thousand cuts – they will have no code reach and no output. Which is why I strongly argued that Facebook’s old motto was better for any artist:

Move fast and break things.

What better way to learn the intricacies of impossibly large and complex systems? Even experienced programmers write bugs all the time, and better to do so at some speed which allows progress to be made.

What I was missing during this conversation with Evan was a distinction between Art and Craft. Art being the ability to create works (move fast and break things) and craft the skill that it takes to create art (practice perfectly).

A writer who does not take the time to practice sentence structure and when to break it will find themselves unable to write coherently. A painter who does not attempt to make each brush stroke perfectly will be left frustrated when their paint seems to disobey their hand. A designer who does not use their knowledge of color and proportion will be unable to guide users effectively. A programmer who does not use the right data structures and algorithms will find their code slow and unusable. All of these are separate from the actual “pieces” that each creates.

I think then my goal is to create lots of imperfect art, but practice my craft with skill each time so that I can avoid ingraining bad habits. Perfectionism in craft is important; perfectionism in art leads to procrastination.

Edit: Hacker School facilitator Allison Kaptur points out an excellent article that puts this very clearly (pun intended) at http://jamesclear.com/repetitions

“Words cannot even describe the multitude of design flaws in your body, and yet it is still the vessel of your mind; it is still your connection to this world. Production code is broken, but so is nature.” —@jordanorelli

The Artist and the Scientist

I posit that there are two distinct ways in which people become fascinated by programming.

One way is via high-level languages, web development tools, and visual languages. This “way” in is for people who are more interested in the act of creating with code than coding itself. I call these people the “artist-programmers”: people who don’t care about pointers and arrays, and would much rather fiddle with knobs and buttons than bits and bytes to create something cool. Artist-programmers can trust what is under the hood, and use this metaphorical car to go very far.

On the other hand, some people start programming with coding as the goal. These people learn about the array and are FASCINATED. These people can spend an afternoon messing with pointer indirection and not call it wasted time. These “scientist-programmers” believe that typing, references, and pointers are important to understand – their metaphorical car sits in the garage, taken apart into its components, and yet they are more fulfilled than if they were out driving it without any idea how it works. These programmers usually arrive via C, Assembly, or even hardware.

I think both ways to learn programming are correct, and appeal to different people. One of the reasons I enjoy python as a first language is that it is broad enough to appeal to both types as people. Lisp is great for this as well. Teaching an artist-programmer C++ is going to be a painful process for everyone involved. And teaching a scientist-programmer Mathematica will leave them wanting to know what’s going on inside.

The “programmer-in-fullness”, however, is both an artist-programmer and a scientist-programmer. These programmers are driving the metaphorical car AND have a full understanding of what’s going on inside the hood. They can speed along in a high-level language, but know what is happening on the inside enough to optimize as they write, fix things when they break, and use the right data structures and algorithms without sacrificing time worrying about the details.

Edit: My friend and fellow Hacker School alumnus @jordanorelli provides a great distillation of this idea: “I think the distinction is that I’m driven to learn things because they allow me to create things, whereas many others are driven to create things because in doing so, they learn things. Do you learn to create, or do you create to learn?”

Some thoughts on the types:


  • Teaching Them:
    • Focus on high level languages and visual languages
    • Focus on process and outcome, not design or implementation
    • Focus on immediate feedback and not worrying about speed
  • As one:
    • Don’t feel bad about using tools and helpers (e.g. Dreamweaver)
    • Aim for large projects that you can use these big tools to complete
  • To become a programmer-in-fullness:
    • Take a course like NAND-to-Tetris, which will allow you to see how the parts all fit together in a project
    • Take an interest in optimization, as far as you’ll still be able to finish your projects
    • Take apart your favorite tool and see how it works


  • Teaching Them:
    • Focus on the little things. Pointers. Arrays. Bytecode.
    • Give them an extremely restricted toolset and a slow processor.
    • Start them in on data structures and algorithms fast – they’ll eat it up.
  • As one:
    • Buy books on programming. Implement their examples. Explore hardware organization.
    • Don’t be frustrated by projects that you can’t finish, as long as you learned something in the process.
    • Contribute to larger artist-programmer projects which can use your optimization skills.
    • Don’t mock artist-programmers for using tools. They don’t mock you for not using tools!
  • To become a programmer-in-fullness:
    • Start to use libraries and packages which will allow you to complete projects faster, even if you don’t know what they do at the low level.
    • Focus on optimization less, as long as you still understand what’s going on inside.
    • Work hard to finish projects, as painful as the final sprint is.

And above all, understand that people might come to programming from a different perspective than you. The scale is most likely not binary, either – think of it as a float instead of a bool. And be able to use this knowledge to give people projects that they’ll be interested in and will do well with.

From Manhattan,


SSD vs RAID0 for Gaming: SCIENCE!

A while ago, I bought an SSD (128GB Crucial M4) off Amazon, with the idea of putting it in my gaming rig as a “game cache”. My plan was to install my most played games on it, while the rest of my games sat on my current setup – Two 1TB Seagate Barracudas in RAID0. Here’s a cell phone pic of my setup:rigIgnore the awful position of the cable/drive on the new SSD – it’s for testing purposes.

At my current job, there’s a heavy reliance on data to drive decisions, and I decided to do some science here before actually moving my games over. And I’m glad I did. Here’s the data:

sequential random

E: RAID are the same raid drive – no difference, but two data collection runs, since the numbers were much more inconsistent. I had programs running on that drive while testing, meaning there’s a lot more noise. To do actual science I would run a lot more tests, but I feel that my results were good enough to make decisions on.

G: SSD is the SSD with two different stripe sizes: 4kb and 32kb. I believe the 4KB performed better because some cursory research showed that the drives are manufactured to be used with a 4kb block size, which makes sense.

Data was collected using Roadkil’s Disk Speed under light system load.

The interesting result is in the sequential/random difference on the RAID. In sequential reads, the RAID actually comes out faster than the SSD except at the 64kb read size. I believe this is because I have the RAIDs striped at 64KB, with 64KB blocks, and I must be hitting some sort of strange misalignment at exactly that size.

However, the RAID drops to basically zero (<1MB/s) when performing random read, while the SSD loses no speed at all. This is, of course, the main reason for getting an SSD.

Now, as far as I’m aware, games actually optimize for sequential read, since that’s how most hard drives are going to load them. What this means, as far as I can tell, is that I would actually be hurting my game performance by moving my games over to an SSD.

I’ll edit this post, after I play some Skyrim+HD Textures on the SSD and check if the load speeds feel any better.

Also: if anyone more experienced with hardware has any suggestions, I’m all ears!

From Brooklyn,



One Letter at a Time

The other day, I saw the following brain-teaser posted on Reddit:

tumblr_lcev8fTt341qbjttfo1_500along with the claim that “Startling” is the only 9 letter word where you can remove one letter at a time and still have a word.

Let’s see if that’s true using IPython and a long list of words from http://www.mieliestronk.com/wordlist.html

[ed. note in 2018 – this link expired. I’m not quite sure where it went. Sorry!]It turns out that there are seven words of length 9 that match this property,  and one word of length 10: “Splittings” (actually an incredibly relevant word to this problem).

Just goes to show: don’t believe everything you read on the internet 😉

The Broadcast Problem

In which I ramble on for a while before concluding nothing. You’ve been warned.

Snapchat and Facebook

Snapchat is quickly becoming my go-to communication tool for sharing moments with close friends. There’s a certain intimacy to it: just you and your chosen few recipients get to see the picture for a short while. It’s a way to show off your interesting life without inconsiderately clogging up others’ newsfeeds. A way to send photos of yourself drunkenly wearing a lampshade without worrying about your boss or parents seeing it.

It’s a broadcast medium with a specific range. However, you don’t know who else got a copy of the snap as well. The question this blog post poses is: Is it impolite to not respond to a snapchat? Let’s take a look at some similar media.

Facebook – for me – is becoming a place to share memes and interesting internet finds, not moments from my life. It’s broadcast is powerful – without carefully choosing your settings, it’s easy for your photos to become globally available. Any of your friends (which these days includes parents, coworkers, and random business contacts) can go through your photos. There are ways to tailor your security but they’re often obtuse or difficult to get at.

Posting on Facebook is a broadcast with a large range. You assume that everyone’s friends can see a given post. If someone doesn’t specifically mention you, there’s no social penalty for not commenting on or “liking” a post.

SMS, IM (incl. Facebook Chat), and Email are direct message systems. When you get one, the assumption is that you are the only recipient unless it directly says otherwise. These more direct forms of communication create a one-on-one channel between the sender and recipient that have social weight – not replying to one is rude.

Broadcast and Direct Message

When choosing whether to reply to messages, people consider how direct the original message was. This metric, “replies”, is important in the social media world – especially that of dating applications – because it measures how much interaction users are having.

My cursory research for this article doesn’t turn up much in this realm of prior research, so I’m going to go ahead and make an unfounded claim based purely on my own observations: The more direct a message, the more likely a person is to respond. A somewhat spammy marketing article boasts a 50% response rate to Twitter DMs where they use the username in the message. That’s crazy good.

Why is a DM so much better than just an @-mention? While DMs do require the users to be following each other (meaning there’s already an element of trust), a DM is also only visible to the messagers. If I get an @-mention on Twitter I’ll only respond if I’m particularly in the mood to or if I have something to say about it. If I get a DM I’ll at least make a note to reply to it later.

With these direct messages, there’s a social stigma to not replying since it means you got the message but chose not to respond. With a broadcast, it’s always easy enough to claim that it was lost in the sea of other broadcasts. In most apps, there’s no way to verify that a specific friend saw a broadcast message.

Snapchat sits in the awkward in-between here. You can see if a friend has opened your message. But Snapchats are also often sent to large groups of users at the same time. Let’s investigate further.

Public and Private

Voice to text is far faster and more accurate than typing on my soft keyboard, but I choose to fat-finger my way though the words because speaking out loud broadcasts what I want to be private. The people around me aren’t interested in my mundane texts, and I find it as impolite as talking on a cellphone to say them out loud. These are private messages – not because they’re risque, but because they’re not interesting to anyone else.

You can’t tell who else a Snapchat has been sent to; when you get one, there’s no way to see how public or private that information is. Especially with very interesting Snaps, (“Hey look at me doing this cool thing”), I assume that a large portion of the sender’s contact list just felt a buzzing in their pocket.

Facebook is “public”. IM, Email, SMS are private. Snapchat is… kind of both?

Conclusion: Does Snapchat Bridge or Widen this Gap?

In my opinion, Snapchat is a broadcast and not a direct message, so it doesn’t warrant a response. Greta, my fiancee, argues the opposite – each snap appears as a direct message despite its actual dispersal. So… who’s right?

Per my warning at the beginning of this post, I don’t know, and I would love to find out. For Snapchat users: do you feel obligated to reply to snaps?

What kind of messages should people be obliged to respond to?

Povio: On its way to cool

An open letter to the developers of Povio including some hopefully constructive and totally unsolicited feedback about the user experience.

1. Povio is cool

I heard about Povio through Hacker News and immediately installed it. It’s new. It’s humble. It solves the problem of people sharing useless stuff about themselves. I can ping the people I’m interested in, and I feel good when people ping me for a photo of myself. As a member of their target demographic, I’m hooked.

Really – I like the app and I want to see it succeed. The rest of this article is my thoughts on how to accomplish that, mainly directed toward the developer(s) but also as a way to open up a conversation about modern app development, privacy, and heteronormativity.

It solves what I call the “broadcast problem”. Basically the idea that some forms of communication are “broadcast” (snapchat, facebook) and others are direct (texting, skype) and it’s sometimes easy to confuse the two. You can read my thoughts on the broadcast problem if you’re so inclined.

2. Povio needs to not be a dating app for straight white men

The video for Povio features mostly a good looking female who is Povio’d (new verb!) by a male friend and they end up getting ice cream together, or something. Whatever – sex sells, and especially to the coveted 18-24 year old male. But there’s also a problem here, which is that Povio needs to attract people of all genders and backgrounds if it wants to be successful.

In my opinion, if Povio tries to be a dating app like tinder, it’s going to fail. It will turn creepy and the vast majority of users will abandon it. I worry that it’s already on its way to this. Here are the users that are added automatically as friends:

2014-03-24 22.37.26


All white, and seriously: Miss Hotty?!

Either Povio will change this, or they’ll lose a lot of users who aren’t heteronormative white males. Even if, at best, it’s based on your facebook gender, race, and “looking for”, which is almost a neat idea for user acquisition, but still gives me a bad feeling about the app.

3. Povio has a neat UI with unintuitive UX

Povio’s UI and graphic design: Clever.

Povio’s UX and command structure: Obtuse.

Let’s say I want to unfriend a user. (I actually had to reach out to the devs on twitter to figure this one out). Expected: I long-click on the user’s list item and get options. Nope – long click does nothing. I click on Best Buddy’s face. Nope – a close up of his profile pic.

2014-03-24 22.37.33

What is he so smug about?

Turns out it’s as simple as single-tapping the list item. But it took me a good 5 minutes and a twitter conversation to figure that out. And who wants to see a large version of their friend’s profile picture?

2014-03-24 22.38.19


Suggestion: Use the standard long-press for options. Remove the click-to-open-profile-pic action. Get some user testing and work on having a really intuitive user experience.

4. Povio needs to have the ability to turn on strict privacy settings

Yep, just like I suspected. Been on there for 10 minutes, and already getting friend requests from creepy guys I’ve never heard of. I would only use this with close friends. —natasham25

Make sure people know each other on Facebook, Google Contacts, or something. Have an option for anonymous friend requests to require a three-digit password. Photo apps like snapchat already toe the “creepy” line and enabling users to lock down their profile is the best way of combating this.

Allowing “creepy guys” to anonymously ping people is only going to reinforce the “dating app” vibe.

 5. Povio shouldn’t show me who pinged my friends

A) I don’t want to see how popular they are compared to me.

B) Nobody wants to see all of the people pinging their S.O.

It’s rare that someone enjoys the feeling of “sharing” a friend. Especially a S.O. or more. I pinged my Fiancee and was surprised to see a list of all the other people who had also pinged her. I’m not a jealous guy – who she sends Povios to is not my business. But I know more jealous types probably wouldn’t be happy to see those names, especially if they’re potential rivals. It also creates the feeling that you didn’t just get a special picture created and shared just for you.

Who is this guy anyway?

Not making me feel unique, here.

6. Povio is awesome for shy and boring people

Not a criticism!

Povio makes it really easy to ask your friends to include you in their life. As long as it’s easy enough to ignore a ping (with plausible deniability for ignoring it) from someone you don’t want to share with, I think there’s great potential here for an app that allows people to ask “hey, what are you up to” without feeling inclusive.

Snapchat is for broadcasting cool events. I get snaps from some people a LOT more than I do from others. I only send snapchats when something interesting or exciting is going on. To send a snap, you have to feel like you’re doing something worthy of taking up someone else’s ten seconds.

Povio solves that by allowing me to request my friends’ presence when I’m bored and lonely, and therefore makes me feel more social and wanted. I can get pings from friends and be inspired to set up something cool to take a picture of.


Povio is up-and-coming and I hope the best for it. Based on the reactions of my non-immersed-in-the-tech-world friends it has a lot of potential and I can’t imagine it’s userbase is less than viral already.

With a few tweaks and fixes, I think Povio will quickly become a household name.

From Brooklyn,

— Erty Seidel

Edit: Povio’s creator has responded to this post:

P.S. – Shameless self-promotion: If you liked my writeup, know that I’m currently looking for work!