Adding Songs to Baby Dance

The girls (3 & 4) have a tiny subset of my music library on their devices. It’s time to update their playlist which I named Baby Dance back when they were babies. They hear songs they want from my library and ask for them. Some I added by request, some by paternalartistic edict. Might as well give them a good dose of the stuff that’ll be making them roll their eyes after they become convinced that all parents are lame. Mom will let me know if I accidentally added anything that doesn’t belong.

The Beatles – Love Me Do, Penny Lane, Help!
Ben Folds – Still Fighting It
Blind Melon – No Rain
Bob Dylan – Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Just Like a Woman
Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
Cake – Short Skirt/Long Jacket
Caribou – Andorra (album)
Carole King – I Feel The Earth Move
Construction Joe – Lizard
The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out (album)
Erik Satie – Three Gymnopédies 1-3
Frank Turner – Dan’s Song
Jack Johnson – Mudfootball
Jamiroquai – Cosmic Girl
Manitoba/Caribou – Up In Flames (album)
Outkast – My Favorite Things
Phish – Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Esther, Tweezer, Chalk Dust Torture
Queen – You’re My Best Friend
Shawn Wasabi – Marble Soda
Soundtrack – Broken Flowers (Ethiopian jazz)
Soundtrack – Waking Life (tango)
Thievery Corporation – The Mirror Conspiracy (album)
UB40 – The Way You Do The Things You Do
Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman (album)

They already have a lot of songs and kids’ albums but I’m always looking for recommendations.

Two kinds of NUX

To me there are two different ways to read the term “NUX”.

* (NU)X is the experience provided to new users. (New User)’s Experience
* N(UX) is when any user experiences something unfamiliar. Novel (User Experience)

“NUX” commonly means (NU)X. We use “new users” to refer to people who are signing up and starting to use the service. “NUX” therefore refers to the signup flow and maybe some early interactions.

I prefer to think in terms of N(UX) because it’s user-centric and personalized. (NU)X is an onboarding process with an end whereas N(UX) treats novelty from the viewpoint of the user throughout their lifetime. You can apply N(UX) thinking to (NU)X but that’s not where it ends. And not every (NU)X is a N(UX).


we should try to offer the right variation for individual users

New users all look pretty much the same on arrival: just a bunch of unauthenticated HTTP requests for a signup page. When you know nothing about the individual users you can’t differentiate between them to sort them into signup variations. The more you know about them, the better you can tailor their experience. Do they need a guide? A map? A hint? A challenge? No help at all?

It looks like you are trying to start a blog. Can I help?

Clippy was a good idea that became an ironic cliché because it was too eager to help. It kept repeating its distracting wiggle onto the screen long after the user stopped needing its simplistic instruction. Good help can come from an automated agent if it doesn’t take the form of an attention-starved acrobat.

Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.

This ubiquitous admonition is annoyingly disingenuous. They don’t actually keep track of whether you have called and listened to the menu since the latest update. Good help remembers what you already know.

 Yellow! Yellow! Yellow! Yellow!

Have you ever noticed a newly installed traffic signal on your daily commute? Commuters are terrible at noticing because they are conditioned by familiarity to be less alert. This is why new traffic lights are magnets for accidents. Where I live, road crews typically give commuters a few days of flashing yellow to alert them. Blogging about a change isn’t enough; respecting the habits of seasoned users saves lives.


With N(UX) you can see that every user slips in and out of familiarity. Even tenured users and the developers themselves go through N(UX) now and then. My account is ten years old and I’m constantly getting N(UX)ed.

Knowing whether a given user is in unfamiliar territory depends on knowing where the user has been and whether the territory has changed. Depending on how comfortable they are with novelty, they’ll either need a guided tour or be happy with a hint.

N(UX) is not a yes-or-no question, a one-way ramp or a single fact for each user. It is a record of a relationship between a person and software, a profile that maps familiarities and predilections. The software has a “mental model” of the person and adjusts itself to suit them, or offers instruction when needed.

For a start, ask the beginning user if they want help. Just not too acrobatically.

A sandwich. A good one.

White Paper Bag
What’s inside?

While in Burlington, Vermont, I worked at the excellent Office Squared downtown coworking space. Some days I had to go out for lunch. That one burrito place on Church Street was unworthy of mention. My next try was Top of the Block Sandwich Shoppe. Here I found my usual.

My first time there, I was overwhelmed by the endless options on the sandwich menu. I didn’t want to spend half my lunch break studying a food list. So I simply asked for a sandwich. Any sandwich would do, I said, as long as it’s good. No, I don’t have any food allergies or restrictions. Just make it a sandwich, not a wrap. Surprise me.

This intrigued the young ladies behind the counter. The lucky one who got to make my sandwich was thrilled by the possibilities. She could make whatever she fancied and I would probably love it. The others kept an eye on the project, jealous of her creative opportunity.

I took my sandwich back to the office and I loved it. The bread, the special mayo, the juicy meat and unconventional mix of veggies. This was a unique sandwich made by a person whose curiosity and passion had been aroused by a simple, open-minded request: make me a sandwich. A good one.

Each week I went back once or twice for a new sandwich. Each visit brought smiles to the faces behind the counter. Each sandwich was better than my memory of the last.

By the third visit I didn’t have to speak my order. My request was so memorable that I was an instant regular. I am the guy who wants a random sandwich. Surprise me.

My surprise sandwich was the most consistently pleasurable lunch outside of my home. For the same price everyone else paid for their made-to-order sandwich I got joy, suspense, and possibly the best sandwich made that day.

When ordering a sandwich what I really want is two slices of bread surrounding something good. Turkey, peppers, mustard, none of the above, whatever. Maybe not every sandwich maker has the passion or the sense of humor to do it right like Top of the Block. Maybe I’d be unhappy with the “surprise item” from most other places. I’m happy I found these professionals and took that chance.