People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.Steve Jobs
People's reaction to ideas:@levie via Twitter
Bad ideas: "That'll never work"
Good ideas: "That could work"
Great ideas: "That'll never work"
Don't make me think!Steve Krug
After 15 years working in technology, first in tech support and systems administration, then software engineering, and now product management, I still get excited about using technology to solve a problem for someone.
Boring, repetitive work task?
Great product idea?
Let me at it!
My role as a technical product manager usually includes:
I have repeatedly taken nascent ideas and delivered saleable products and services, often filling multiple roles in addition to product manager (including engineer, database admin, copywriter, front-end developer, and UX/UI designer). I enjoy working on larger cross-functional teams, and while I'm not afraid to jump in and do what's necessary to deliver a great product, I am particularly strong in these areas:
I believe problem-solving is ultimately about knowing how to ask the right questions. Whether the challenge is a purely technical one requiring troubleshooting or is a broader, systemic issue, I love to dig in and ask the questions that provide clarity and lead to a solution. In addition to strong troubleshooting skills, I have a record of engineering innovative products, systems, and services that address user and business needs.
Clarity and precision are my highest priorities when I am writing in the course of my work, whether for product documentation, user stories and requirements, or routine communication with co-workers and clients. I have a background in science writing—explaining complex technical subjects to a lay audience—and enjoy applying those skills to creating documentation and training materials.
Early in my career, much of my day-to-day work involved helping people use computers, providing a front-row seat to the many ways software often fails its users. I developed an intense interest in usability, and as a result, I am always thinking about how choices made in interface design, system architecture, and functionality will ultimately affect the experience of using the products I build.
I created this landing page in 2013 for a spinoff of a friend's career coaching business. Starting with the One Page Wonder Bootstrap template, I tracked down appropriate images with Creative Commons licenses, selected fonts, and modified HTML and CSS files to build out the page. (The primary site is being built out in Wordpress right now.)
In 1999, I was tasked with developing a system to automate the process of publishing lecture video to course web sites. Video on the web was a relatively new concept...this was six years before YouTube! Our sole video sources were VHS tape and an analog signal sent to a control room. The solution I developed used inexpensive hardware and a combination of off-the-shelf software and custom scripts which enabled automated transcoding and publication of video to course web sites. Presented at an EDUCAUSE conference in 2001.
In my position at MediRegs (acquired by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business in 2007), I designed and developed a number of coding tools and calculators from 2005-2012. These tools became integral components of our Coding Suites and Compliance & Regulation Suite.
For the most part, these tools required that results screens convey a complex combination of related quantitative and qualitative data. I was strongly influenced by Edward Tufte's approach in designing screens which had high information density but were easy for users to parse and understand. Our products were often competing against much larger, more established players in the industry, but our unique approach to design, combining simplicity of interaction with rich content and presentation, often made these the products end-users campaigned to buy.
This is just a little April Fools' Day fun I created with a brilliant friend/co-worker in 2013. In the style of our company's marketing sheets, we worked up a new product (that actually would have fit quite well into our suite of compliance products) and sent it out to co-workers on April 1. All content on this is original. View as PDF
In my position in the Instructional Computing Group (now the Academic Technology Group) at Harvard University, I designed and developed the Q&A Tool in 2000. This web-based application was used for online surveys, quizzes, and assignments. A variety of question types were permitted: Multiple-choice, Fill-in-the-Blank, Ranking, Essay, and True/False. With the exception of the Essay and Ranking question types, an instructor could opt to have questions automatically graded.
The Q&A Tool was a part of the Instructor’s Toolkit, an early learning management system developed by ICG which enabled teaching staff at Harvard to manage their course web sites, access enrollment and student information, and publish lecture videos (among other things).
I created the Woller Photography site for my sister-in-law, Denice Woller. The current version of the site (developed in 2009, so ready for an update) uses the open source Gallery web-based photo album software. The site includes a customized theme, password-protected portrait sessions, and a shopping cart for ordering prints (in the sessions area of the site). Denice is able to maintain the site (uploading/organizing photos, setting passwords, publishing prices, managing orders, etc.) using the Gallery administrative tools.
When we were trying to come up with a name for a new product platform at MediRegs (which boasts a beloved dinosaur, Rex, as its mascot), a co-worker and I were competing for the worst possible name, and so making as many lame permutations of Rex as possible. I was inspired to create this movie poster after one brainstorming session. (Actually, I've Photoshopped dinosaurs into a wide variety of scenes over the years; see also: Parent Suite Module.)
Not to get all cloak-and-dagger about it, but much of my work in the last 10 years has been on proprietary systems and applications. To protect my employers' (past and present) commercial interests, I'm not willing to put information about these projects on the Internet, but I am willing to talk about some aspects in person. After I've swept the room for bugs.
My grandmother wrote A Family History seven years before her death in 1999. In 2006, I turned her document into a web page, complete with scanned portraits. For the background, I modified a photograph of a rose found on Flickr and licensed under Creative Commons. (Attribution in CSS file, and I notified the photographer who was happy to see it in use.)
To-do: Update CSS to utilize responsive design so the page works well on mobile devices.
Sometimes I like to step into the real world and make physical stuff. While my son was at camp last year, I spent about $100 on supplies and gave his room a Minecraft theme. I used a standard color laser printer, spray adhesive, inexpensive hardboard, and clear contact paper to make pixelated panels for the walls. Windows were detailed with a roll of white electrical tape, and the box valance was made with a cheap board from Menards, staple gun, and $10 window panel from Target. A red comforter ($12 on clearance), foam board cloud, and a few accessories from ThinkGeek finished things off. (He was pleased.)