— Nina Mehta

Author Archive

The second coming of  techie invaders in San Francisco is a story decades old. A milestone in this saga was the Google Bus fiasco symbolizing new money pushing out longtime locals and artists. Ten months ago I stitched together quotes from Disney movies that embellish this story.

Thoguh we still have a lot of social and legislative work to do in this city, I hope you’ll just enjoy this fictional startup-kid story for what it is:

Discovering San Francisco

Something is calling you to the West Coast. That one cool friend you kind of know from college insists you visit. So break your bank and book a flight.

Peter Pan: Come on
Wendy: B b but where are we going?
Peter Pan: To Neverland
Wendy: Neverland
Peter Pan: You’ll never grow up there

Falling in Love
One suitcase and a magic carpet ride later you’re here in SF. Your friend shows you a weekend of costume-themed street parties, boutique coffee and endless lounging in Dolores Park.  This city promises another decade of joyful youth you want.

Aladdin & Jasmine: A Whole New World
Aladdin: Don’t you dare close your eyes
Jasmine: A hundred thousand things to see
Aladdin: Hold your breath it gets better
Jasmine: I can’t go back to where I used to be


You move to SF and land a dream job job at a startup that’s going to truly change the world. They buy you a Macbook Air, feed you every day and let you come into work at noon. Does life get any better? Well, maybe kinda yea.

Ariel: I’ve got gadets and gizmos a plenty. I’ve got whosits and whatsits galore.  No big deal. I want more.

Your first company
Time goes on and you’re tired of working on someone else’s dream. You’re being told what to do and how to do and are not sure if the next round of funding is even coming. You could do it better. So you start your own company and become the boss.

Simba: I’m gonna be the main event, like no king was before. No one sayin’ do this.
Zazu: Now when I said that–
Nala: No one sayin’ be there
Simba: Free to do it all my way

You believe the work you’re doing is good but for some reason people you don’t know are angry about it.

Ariel: I don’t see how a world that makes such wonderful things could be bad

And maybe the city actually doesn’t need you or even have space for you.

Alice: Afterall, we haven’t been invited

But, you’ve now spent enough time in San Francisco to learn it hasn’t always been a city of new money hackers.

Pocahontas: You think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you.

The Premonition
And some long-time locals throw bricks through bus windows and protest your pure existence in their home.

Gaston: They’ll wreak havoc on our village if we let him wander free. So it’s time to take some action boy!

This is some kind of warning. But you, a kind, thoughtful, sometimes wide-eyed twenty something never meant to hurt anyone is now a target of social politics.

Scar: Even you can’t be caught un aware. A shining new era is tip toeing nearer. And in justice deliciously squared. Be prepared!
Hyena 1: Yeah be prepared.
Hyena 2: yeah we’ll be prepared.
Hyena 3: For what?


At this point rent prices, space for artists and social equilibrium is not yet met in San Francisco. The story is to be continued but you start to realize how small this place is.

It’s a world of laughter and a world of tears
It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears
There’s so much that we share
That is time we’re aware
Its a small world after all

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Four friends independently asked me for travel advice on Tokyo. I’ve only been twice and neither time for tourism, but that meant I was quite picky about what I’d actually do in the free time I had. I was last in Japan for a couple of weeks hosting an art/techno/startup conference and worked in Tokyo for a month in 2011.

I’m by no means an expert on the city. In fact, I find it quite a difficult place for my mind to be. So I’m sure this guide is missing out on some really cool underground hot spots but despite the language and cultural challenges I’ve had there, but still Tokyo is somehow wonderfully marvelous and inspiring. Also check out my friend Tanya’s Facebook page Getting Weird in Tokyo for other good tips in this fine city.

Wifi Everywhere

First thing’s first. Reserve a wifi (mifi) device from Japan Wireless. Keep this little device charged and in your bag for a wifi connection everywhere you go. This is especially important since there is little-to-no rhyme or reason to most of the streets in Japan. You can pick up your reserved device from the Post Office at Narita Airport or have it mailed it to your hotel. Without a doubt get the Wimax 40mbps unlimited connection speed.

The Google Maps team did an excellent job charting out the cities walkways and trains. You have to work pretty hard to get lost, now (though entrances aren’t always where the pin drops). While you’re at it, download the Google Translate app. It will pump out your phrase in Latin characters, Japanese characters and offer voice pronunciation. Life Saver.

Where to stay

Both times I visited I stayed in Shibuya: once near Yoyogi Park the other time near the Womb nightclub. It’s centrally located but also quite loud. I don’t have good advice on better places to stay but my home at the Fantastic Pad Airbnb was as lovely as its pictures look. The hosts, Happy Tokyo, have 12 other listings, mountains of positive reviews, and will comfortably communicate to you in English.


You’re going to go to Shibuya, you just are. It’s hard for me to imagine not needing to go there. I suppose it’s the Times and Union Squares of Tokyo. Shibuya is wonderful for several everything stores including Tokyu Hands, Loft and the Ito-ya Stationary Store in Shibuya Station (and its bigger locale in Ginza). Shibuya is home to several nightclubs I’d actually go to: meaning good people, quality sound system and top notch tunes. I’ve been to Womb (big room) and have had many friends go to smaller spots like Unit, Bar Bonobo (supposedly similar to 222 Hyde) and Oiran.

There’s a hella-lotta ramen in Shibuya. Many spots have a vending machine that spit out a ticket after you’ve paid. Give to the host or person behind the counter and wait for your noodle paradise. If you get a chance, dip into one of the many Afuri Ramen spots that has light, fresh, delicioso noodles. There are also some late-night Ramen shops with little walls on either side fo the bar table so you can find a quite moment among all the noise. There’s also a little forrest nook restaurant called Yoyogi Curry with some pretty stellar curry. Like. Extremely delicious.

Cat Cafes are all over Tokyo. I found to Cat Cafe Hapineko in Shibuya just by keeping my eyes extra-peeled. They’re hosts and cats are used to tourists and the venue has an English menu. The kitties aren’t drugged up but were a little skiddish, which I suppose comes with the territory.

Takeshita Street & Akihabara

These two ‘hoods met the Harujuku expectations I had for the gothic and cutesie (Kawaii) fashion styles. Takeshita Street (close to Shibuya) is much more pink and frilly, whereas Akihabara (close to Asakusa) seems to attract more of the gamer culture. It’s very possible I’m botching up what’s really going on in these places, but it’s what I saw and felt. Visit at least one of these places during your visit.


This little ‘hood has cool, quirky, hipster boutiques at actually reasonable prices. Vogue named it one of coolest neighborhoods in the world when it comes to street style. It was surprisingly unpretentious when I went there. It reminds me of a less gothic, less commercial version of  Camden Town in London. I didn’t find it the easiest place to get a good meal, but Lauren and I shared some nice steak and broccoli snack at Rainbow Kitchen.


This was the most touristy activity I’ve done in Japan. And you know what? It was actually pretty rad because I came home with some nice kitchenwear that I love. You can have a good bowl of noodles and nice stroll. The average age here is a little older than Shibuya which means it comes with some kind of meandering slowness that I appreciate.


Come here for the view from Mori Tower and a visit to the Art Museum. Absolutely worth your time, if nothing for then for the view. In this ‘hood you’ll find lots of ex-pats, businesses and I think the Google offices are here. I think there are some good clubs around here but I’m not sure.

Hiroo (yoga)

I really wanted to keep my yoga practice going while in Japan. I found a nice studio with several classes in English near the Hiroo stop called Be Yoga. It was a nice dip into the comforts of San Francisco and mental calm while in a city that kinda makes my mind spin. I believe there are a few reasonable studios in Shibuya as well.

Honorable mentions

Costume Karaoke at Festa has full clothing racks of costumes,  and endless rooms with multiple screens each with musical instruments to everyone can participate. They also have remotes in both English and Japanese so it’s a great place to meet lots of friends for beers and singing.

Bction is an art group that’s on the pulse of the contemporary, underground art in Japan. Pop over to their site/twitter/instagram and find out what they’re exploring and talking about. Guaranteed to inspire you.

Yoyogi Park is the Dolores/Central Park of Tokyo. It’s walking distance from Shibuya and hosts lots of events and is great for people watching and generally entertaining meandering.

Hot Springs I’m not sure if there are any in Tokyo, but definitely outside of the city. If you can’t make it to a spring, visit an onsen and have a nice soak.

Maid Cafes are a thing to explore. I haven’t done it but if you’re curious, google it and have a looksee.

Ghibli Museum I’ve heard is fantastic, especially if you love Miyazaki films.

Arunjyansu is where I got purple hair extensions during my visit. They were friendly to walk-ins and happy to communicate with me through the Google Translate app. Easily made for the best souvenir I’ve ever had from a vacation. It’s on the second floor across the street and to the left of the Forever 21 in Shibuya if your back is to the Forever 21.

Naoshima is a trek from Tokyo and worth every moment. It’s an island completely dedicated to contemporary art including world renowned architect Tado Ando and several installations by James Turrell and Yayoi Kusama. Naoshima is at the top of my list of special places my favorite people need to visit.

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Burning Man 2014 Live Stream

It’s just not possible to do everything always. That’s one of the first things I learned at Burning Man. This year I took a break from the Playa, I knew it was the right decision because it was not a difficult decision. Remember? I even wanted to leave early last year!

You are always participating

Every year passed, I loved being wished a great burn from long-time playa bunnies who were staying home. It’s such a small thing but it always pulled a strong heart string for me. I loved feeling celebrated and sent off by those who had been before. I felt like a vessel for their spirits out there.

And truly, from little muscle pumping in my chest, I loved sending my friends off to Burning Man this year. I spent some hearty time with a few folks before their departure talking about their week ahead. Some veterans, some virgins. It pained me to not go on bizarre bike rides with them. But talking out their hopes, fears and intentions and giving them the metaphorical “good game” spank on the butt before their departure felt right and felt like a gift.

I felt like I was a part of the composition of Black Rock City even if I was not there in the dust.

There is no FOMO

I was really missing Atish on Friday Night. I thought about him scarfing down a bowl of Tasty Bites and riding his clankity bike to the edge to prepare for his epic Robert Heart Bus set. I imagined Short Stack and Om Skillet and Oontz Pouch and the rest of our friends quietly robing themselves in LED lights together cruising out to the big sound bus for a grand all-night friend reunion. I really wanted to be there doing that.

But it sounds like the huge friend reunion was actually at Panda Lounge this year. And maybe that lentil soup dinner and magical Robot Heart night happened. But my fantasy felt sour when I heard people were booing Skrillex and Diplo on the very same art car days earlier.

It made me realize I was actually missing future experiences that had actually already happened a year ago. Upon this liberation, I felt not sad for missing 2014 but hungry for 2015.

The Playa is actually beautiful

I’m skeptical. Every year I question whether or not it’s actually fun, beautiful, spiritual, challenging, or even hot. Are the many like-minded people with shared values are doing the same activities, just reaffirming and justifying this lavish holiday? Every year I wonder, is this place actually great?

It is. I tuned into the live stream during Burn Morning Sunrise from my clean, warm bed and nearly cried at the beauty. My stomach sank and heart filled. I thought about all the people, now settled into their dust, through the dark night and thirsty for the sun about to get the burst of light they were waiting for. All the little critters who had been critterting all night as if they have somewhere important to be, finding a shared moment to pause and warm their face.

Even from here, it was beautiful and special. I paused with you.

You can feel anything, anywhere, anytime

I spent Burn Week thinking about the last year. I did this while on an Angel Island night hike (yes with my blinky lights) and at home next to a burning fireplace. My dearest friends and I one-by-one deconstructed the last year. What happened? What didn’t? How did we feel? What did we learn?

Then of course, we looked into our next year. I rarely consciously do this at Burning Man, but the experience presents itself to me each time. Next to the fireplace, we each wrote a fear we wanted to conquer on a Super Duper napkin and set it to flame. We were kind and good to our future selves.

And with that, I’m off to Japan!

I’m bringing seven special friends together with equally smart, funny, like-minded creatives in Tokyo. I’ve been planning this conference, Startup The Party, with two friends I met through Burning Man and music. We’re going to a special electronic music festival in a Japanese forrest, finding new ways to look at our cities, seeing art that’s intended to be destroyed and boating on neon spaceship.I’m then rewarding myself with a weekend of riding my bike on an island dedicated to large-scale sculpture art.

Just needs fire.

Thanks for the well wishes. See you on the other side!


More lessons from the Playa

2013 What families can learn from Burning Man
What small teams can learn from Burning Man
2011 What designers can learn from Burning Man

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If you’ve seen one Darren Aronfosky film you’ve seen them all, and you’ve seen none.  Since the days of watching math psychothrillers in my friend’s parent’s basement, I find his movies to be unmistakably his and like nothing else I’ve seen. He’s like a folk-singer. He repeats themes, shots, and patterns in ways that are always innovative but beautifully familiar. Look for these themes in his work:

Clint Mansell writes the score for every feature film Aronofsky directs. He writes a beautiful theme around the narrative and characters that can transcend throughout the film. And like the stories and imagery, the score is always rich, dark,  heady, open and somehow both sad and hopeful all at once. The score for The Fountain is undoubtedly my favorite.  But Mansell’s work on Requiem for a Dream might be the secret sauce that makes a story about addiction and desperate hope stay with us longer than we’d like. Here are the themes from each of his films in order of my favorites.

The Fountain – Death is the Road to Awe (2006)
Requiem for a Dream – Hope Overture (2000)
Black Swan – A Swan Song (for Nina) (2010)
Pi – r^2 (1998)
Noah – Make Thee an Ark (2014)
The Wrestler – Theme (2008)

Recurring images are woven through each of his films in ways that are specific to the stories, but if you’re watching you’ll see it. Look also for images of trees, pools of water, crosses, and characters making extreme demands of their body. For example, in both Noah and The Fountain, the main character plants the seemingly exact kind of seed (that will breath in new life).

Elapsed Time Film Techniques are used in almost all of his films and most famous in Requiem for a Dream to show when the characters are high or  getting high. He uses the same style in Black Swan and leans on a choppy but rich elapsed time technique to show nature changing over time. A good example is the scene of the slithering snake crawling through the Garden of Eden.

Immediate and unnatural growths shift the plot for the main characters in The Fountain, Black Swan and Noah. Without introducing any spoilers, I can tell you to look for organic natural activity happen in an unexplainable, mystical, transformative way. Aronofsky of course also uses the same, and beautiful, filming and editing technique in all three of these scenes.

Rebirth shows up in nearly all of these films. The Fountain and Noah most explicitly explore these concepts as Tom is searches for the fountain of youth in three parallel stories. Whereas, Noah builds an Ark so nature can start anew post-apocalypse. In Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, however, the characters struggle with addiction to either drugs or perfection. These films resolve not with a warm, nurturing hope for a better future but as an expression of what it looks like  when we go too far.

Strong, still, female leads play a role in almost all of his stories. They coincidentally tend to have long brunette hair, milky skin and can probably make a man feel 3 or 13-feet tall in one glance. He writes their roles to soften the edge of their male counter-parts while remaining pillars of strength. They are strong, reliable, sensual partners that walk with grace, talk with intimacy and of course playing dual roles.

A once young 90s indie actress Jennifer Connelly in Requiem for a Dream returns to Aronofsky’s screen as Noah’s wife. In between Rachel Weisz plays Queen Isabella of Spain and Natalie Portman as a transforming ballerina in Black Swan.

Obsessive, righteous, male leads like Max Coehn in Pi are extremists. Cohen is beyond obsessed with expressing the natural language of the universe through mathematical patterns and hopefully the stock market. Of course, like all Aaronfsky films, he doesn’t quit until he’s gone too far. Noah, too, builds an enormous Ark and is willing to let his family die and slaughter his son’s offspring in the name of what he believes to be a righteous cause. And again, all version of Tom in the Fountain are obsessed with impossible goal to solve the “disease of death” so he can be forever with his wife. Who could forget how far Harry will go (and let his friends and girlfriends go) for a fix? 

Our beautiful universe is a place of wonder for almost all of his characters. Scenes are often set underneath the night sky early in during the films. As the story progresses and time elapses we later see the sky, stars, light or water, like small golden charms, behind silhouetted characters, coming down from the sky. That’s an easy way to tell if the story is about to resolve.


Toy Story 2: Requiem
Buzz and Woody get wasted

The Children Watch Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain
Pretty smart, analytical 9-year-olds break down this three-part love story searching for eternal youth

The Simpsons Requiem for a Dream
Homer tragically eats too many rib sandwiches

All images are screencaps from Youtube videos and obviously belong to the rightful owners

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I’ve been traveling to Detroit every Memorial Day Weekend since 2009 for the annual Electronic Music Festival. You may have read my post last spring about why it’s the best festival of them all. But as I’m maturing, I get tired faster and want to spend my travel dollars going other places, so I was on the fence making my pilgrimage this year. 

— But real quick, before we go any further, I’ll give you the miles I had, the miles I bought and the miles AA gifted me for an extremely fair price. please tweet or message if we can help each other. — 

While flight scanning, AA sent me a very kind email about how some miles of mine were about to expire. It felt like an omen to make the trip. I spent about 30 minutes trying to figure out this UI, then parsing out which flights didn’t have two connections or require me to change airports. I did eventually figure out I could uncheck flights from San Jose and Oakland, that was a win. While of course having no concept of the differences between a 12K flight and a 25K Economy AAnytime or 25K Economy Business First, I just tried to pick flights furthest to the left.

There’s some glitch in the system where after I choose my dates and select the seats, my flight on May 24 would shift to May 10. After 30 minutes of finding a loop hole around that bug, I was finally ready to book the flight and get on with my life.

It’s difficult to know how many miles I have, how much they cost, what that means about the minimum miles I need to have (or use?) and that I couldn’t pay the balance of the flight in cash. Upon expecting to purchase the flight, they tell me it’s on hold and I need to buy more miles. I’m so frustrated and ready to buy the flight I maybe want at this point, I just buy the miles. A few dropdowns and fields that don’t auto-complete later, I see the total is $10 less than how much it would cost to fly on United Airlines. Great!

Somewhere I missed the taxes and fees. I’m sure they clearly stated the numbers somewhere, but you can see how after and the clicking and guessing, I just wanted the task done. Afterwards, I see the extra fees and see that I still have to pay $10 to book a flight with miles. This  was not the cheaper option.

So of course I call them on the phone and kill them with kindness. You know I listened to static elevator music for a long time before the representative told me she could not do refunds. I asked if she could put me in touch with someone else who could help me feel better. More static muzak. Same explanation.

But with honest candor I explain to her what my experience has been like. And that I’m sure it clearly stated the costs but this is my first time buying miles and I had a holistic stressful experience that led me to make mistakes. I told her I knew she does not work on the website and that I know AA cares about their customers. I told her my experience starts from the moment I decide I want to go somewhere until this phone call. I asked “what can you do to help me?” She asked what I had in mind and I explained she had more experience helping people like me.

She offered me 2,000 in miles. Naturally, I explained I was hesitant to accept them because it would just return me to this stressful miles loop. Since she absolutely could not offer a refund, a free flight, vouchers or first class upgrades, I accepted. Of course, I cannot actually purchase the flight for 3 days until the miles I bought online can appear online.

The lesson here is to

  1. Be patient and careful with old websites
  2. Be very kind to associates on the phone. It’s just not their fault
  3. Don’t stop til you get enough

But really, will someone please buy my AA miles?

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Open up your hand-sized glowing rectangle. traverse a glorious landscape of stories, messages and photography anywhere in the universe. It’s really quite Incredible.

Taps, swipes and drags take us anywhere we want to go. However, these views, navigation structures and transitions are still organized analogous to how we interact with paper, windows and physical objects.

Pull to show the refresh spinner hidden behind the Instagram photos. Tap on a Twitter link to add a layer on top of the feed. Drag your homescreen to the left to show more apps on the right. We know the content is not actually behind, on top of or beside one another.

We once needed skeumorphic graphic design to help us understand digital interfaces. That’s also how I see today’s designers relying on animations and transitions to do the same. That’s not to say this a wrong thing to do, it’s where consumers cognitively are today, but still is the case none-the-less. Let’s look at some apps I’m into these days that are handling transitions and animations quite well.

Moves step counter and distance tracker

Scroll down to travel the path of your day. As you tap on the green circle, it bounces and responds to the impact of your tap. Doing that changes the display to time, calories, steps or distance. I love this little animation detail, it feels good and transitions me between unit types which could otherwise be data overload.

If I swipe down hard, the circle hops up into a calendar view. I can then pan left and right to compare progress. It’s delightful and helpful. This is a remarkable app all around.


Secret posts for and from people you know

This itty bitty app is a scrolling feed of secrets from friends, friends of friends and saucy strangers. Here I can share a private tidbit about my life to a big audience. It’s fun, too. The apps says 16 of my friends have joined but I don’t know which.

This app is not only about the secrets about about how it feels to tell them. The screens and letters fade in, giving a ghostly and invisible feeling. When posting a photo I can swipe to right to blur photos. This is a nice example of interaction design that doesn’t rely on an analog from the physical world (like smudging your screen to create a blur effect, for example). Nicely done. Look for my secret from today ;)

Paper stories from your friends

Facebook’s launch of their news reader is exciting. We cannot critique the quality of a social app on the day of its release. How it feels to use it will emerge over time and only then can we make a sound judgement.

However, the designers here use a navigation style similar to Moves, where we travel up and down to move in and out of the detail of content and from left to right to traverse across content. They also have some animations that I’m seeing other folks call “flipboardy”, which is, I think, a good thing. I can be easy to lose context of where you are in this app, but there are escape hatches everywhere in case you can’t find your way home.

Automatic device to help you drive better

This little guy plugs into a port on my car and lets me know the location of my car and how I’m driving. It also makes a little beep when I break or accelerate too hard. Also like the Moves app, I travel down a stream that is my timeline of activity. In fact, a little car drives down the timeline. When it’s next to an activity post, the car’s headlights turn on. It’s a very tiny detail that’s easy to miss and some people may even find cheesy. But in the age of cold, flat, graphicless interfaces, I find it endearing.

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Tucked under warm blankets in below freezing Chicago weather on my birthday, I got on a video chat with two HCId students from my alma matter, Indiana University. I really enjoyed hearing about what they care about and want to know. Getting your career started can be hard and scary but I’m excited about how thoughtful and hungry the future of our design community
Listen here:  http://www.connecthcid.com/#nina-mehta

In this episode of ConnectCast, with Stephanie Poppe and Jordan Hayes. Poppe and Jordan speak with designer and visual artist Nina Mehta. Nina graduated from Indiana University’s HCI/d program in 2011 and currently works as a product designer at Pivotal Labs in San Francisco. In this segment, Nina discusses her graduate school experience, the challenges she faced as a young designer, her liberating foray into experience design through projection live visual art installations, her passion for social activism and the importance of creating real products for real people.


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The game of Chess is a Kingdom’s of strategy, problem solving and battle together in conquest. The pieces and tactics in the game of chess are not so different than those on a product team, just hopefully less bloodshed.

The Pieces

The King (♔, ♚) represents your Users.
They can move in any direction, but only one square at a time. Without them you have lost the game; you’re just moving pieces around on a board.

The Queen (♕,♛) is your CEO.
They can move in any direction, any number of squares. This player is most powerful, and can  easily transfer firepower and control the opposition.

The Rook (♖ ♜) is your Product Manager.
They have limitless horizontal and vertical movement. They can safely exert control of the board and have a special relationship with the King.

The Knight (♖ ♜) is your Developer.
They move in a two-step, one-step L shapes-shaped direction. Their power comes from jumping over pieces in closed positions especially early on.

The Bishop (♖ ♜) is your Designer.
They have limitless diagonal movement. They are underrated by beginners and gain strength as the board opens up with their power of influence.

The Pawn (♙♟) is Marketing.
They advance only forward a single square except twice in their first move. They are the front-lines and promote to any piece if they reach the opposing edge of the board.

The Game

The positions of the Pawns (Marketing) can determine the flavor of the entire game. Similar to brand strategy and community development, they’re the only piece that doesn’t attack head-on. If a Pawn can endure the length of the game and reach the other side of the board unscathed, a Pawn is promoted. It’s most common to promote the piece to a Queen (CEO) adding significant charge to the board.

The Queen is most powerful when the board is open, when there is not much product competition or an unsolved problem or need. She can swiftly change direction and seize control, even at long distances. Experienced players know to develop minor pieces in the beginning and make this piece more active in attacks later on.

Surprisingly, two Rooks (PMs) are more valuable than a Queen. They are often blocked in the beginning of the game by other pieces but when opened up the two together can seize control of the entire board. They are good for pawns advancing for promotions but also are at high risk of pawns in opposition.

The Knight (Developer) and Bishop (Designer) are equal in value but differ in power. The knight is especially powerful at the beginning of the game as it can get out on the board and make strong attacks, and build a good framework for the game, even in tight situations. Two knights are not said to work together as well as two Bishops (designers) because of the how they move and strategize.

However, near the end of the game, the Bishop becomes extremely valuable, especially in pairs since it can influence the entire board (unlike the Knight) and can introduce long term threats (like killer user experience or usability) for an advantageous endgame.

Of course, in Chess, the opponent is simply another Kingdom, rather than competitors and technical, societal and political barriers. The ratio of players on the board differs than that of a product team but there sure are some tried and true strategies that have worked for this game over 13 centuries.

Chess strategies courtesy Wikipedia

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Tucked and nestled inside these faked-out-book-boxes, are the supplies I use daily. I curated a list of my favorite Muji pens, the best whiteout, my required features in a ruler and why you should push for white sticky notes. Every designer has their own favorites, these are mine!

Visit the Pinterest Board listing my favorite supplies:

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As it turns out, I’m a person. And like many persons, I too am a visual creature. Technology isn’t naturally built for people or to be visual. Here are four apps I’m using to help bring less clicks and more imagery into my daily flow.

 Awesome Screenshot  – Longpage captures

Until I found this, I had no way to take full captures of websites without stitching them together like a dope in Photoshop. Check the ‘autosave’ box in the Extensions options to skip the annotation step and get one-click awesomeness. I like Coin’s new homepage, in one click, I saved it forever.
Single Screenshot of Coin

ShiftIt – Window management

In one keyboard shortcut, reposition your windows to take up half or a fourth of your screen. We love this one at Pivotal Labs so much it comes preinstalled on most of our machines. Here I’m updating my Thanksgiving Asana list with Martha Stewart’s recipe for Sweet Potato Rounds. Yum.

Momentum – Nice new tab

Every month there’s another Chrome app for your new tab. This one shows me the time and beautiful photo with a prompt for something to focus on today. Thanks for the tip Noah.

DevRocket – iOS asset exporting

This goodie is for iOS designers. In one click export all (or selected) Photoshop layers into assets. Unlike the Photoshop generator, DevRocket automatically exports to retina and non-retina. And no need to manually sludge through the mudd add extensions to layer names. It’s really one click and as easy as the demo promises. It’s worth $19 of your own smackeroonies.


More lovely apps
I’d love to hear if you’re using any of these too or know of some other good ones. This is my fourth installment that shares some great under-discovered apps. Here some others I love:
– Nine lovely services that will make your computer work like it should
– Brilliant (free) Services for better reading online
Seven online services that do more than mail you lipgloss


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