• Crypto Quick Start

    If you’ve been hearing about Bitcoin and want to get involved, but don’t know how to start, use this easy guide to take your first steps into the cryptoverse. Step 1: Understand what you’re getting into First, know that I’m not a financial advisor and that the cryptocurrency market is very volatile. Do not invest(…)

  • #io17 brings content strategy to center stage

    UX Writer | Content Strategist | Product Writer | UI Writer | Content Designer | Editorial Manager | Software Copywriter All of the above job titles are used to describe the person responsible for the words found in and around a web or mobile application. While the task of writing copy for user interfaces isn’t(…)

  • Live from Mountain View: Google I/O 2016

    Where’ve you been, EightyJane? If you follow me on LinkedIn, you may know that I’ve defected from entrepreneurial life to take a position at Google. Having never (ever, ever) considered myself the “corporate type,” this move was made with some trepidation: Can I retain any sense of autonomy? Will I feel inspired by purpose or(…)

  • HBO NOW App still far from Netflix UX gold standard

    Netflix has spoiled me. The video streaming pioneer is a sophisticated platform that makes browsing a huge catalog feel as comfortable and familiar as scanning the media shelves in my living room. That is, if my living room shelves could magically refresh themselves with new items while remaining perfectly curated to my current tastes, while(…)

  • App of the Week: Canva helps busy bloggers look good

    I’ve recently had the privilege of working on content management and publishing for the world’s largest retailer. The opportunity to be a part of the digital strategy team for an organization of such scale has been thrilling, but it’s required some sacrifices. My aversion to cubicles notwithstanding, I can be counted on to be in(…)

  • Collector’s Paradise: eBay Joins the Content Curation Party

    When eBay introduced collections a few months ago I wondered if they were a replacement for their not-so-slick lists. Themselves a fairly new extension of the veteran Watch List, lists were a way to categorize all those things you “watch” – often with no real intention to buy. They encourage the rampant window shopping that,(…)

  • #FTW14: Mobile Apps for Offline Shopping

    @FashionFinderDk and @ElephantiApp are working to convert mobile surfers to brick and mortar shoppers #RetailTechSummit #FTW14 — Mary Egbula (@eightyjane) March 2, 2014 The Retail Tech Summit took place Sunday, March 2nd, as part of San Francisco’s Fashion Tech Week 2014. The event featured presentations and panel discussions from companies that are using technology in(…)

Crypto Quick Start

If you’ve been hearing about Bitcoin and want to get involved, but don’t know how to start, use this easy guide to take your first steps into the cryptoverse.

Step 1: Understand what you’re getting into

First, know that I’m not a financial advisor and that the cryptocurrency market is very volatile. Do not invest more than you can afford to lose – especially while you’re learning the basics. I believe blockchain technology is poised to revolutionize our modern society, but it’s still in its infancy. Proceed with confident caution.

Step 2: Get a wallet

Before you can own Bitcoins, or any other digital asset, you’ll need a “wallet” to store them in. The wallet consists of two keys: a public key, also known as the wallet address; and a private key, which gives you access to make transactions with the wallet. Here are a few options for this step:

Wallet options

Online wallets

This is the easiest way to start, though one of the least secure methods. Browser-based wallet apps are called "hot" wallets because being connected to the internet makes them vulnerable to hacking. Never store large sums in a hot wallet. Start small so you can learn how things work, then consider alternatives if and when you decide to go deeper. Get a free wallet at blockchain.info

Paper wallets

This more secure option is considered "cold" storage because the keys are not stored anywhere online. Instead, you use a key generator to create then print or write them down by hand. You can do this online, but that reduces security by being vulnerable to spyware. It's safer to download a wallet generator that can be run offline. If you print your wallet, be sure to use a printer that is not networked. Learn about this method at bitcoinpaperwallet.com, then download the generator on GitHub.

Hardware wallets

From a usability perspective, this is the happy medium between online and paper wallets. And it's cold storage option, it's quite secure. It does require a bit of an investment, though, with costs starting around $75. This is a good way to go when you're ready to starting holding larger sums of digital currencies. I'm still in a fairly small fry position in cryptoland, but I invested in a Ledger Nano S to get familiar with using a hardware wallet.

Step 3: Buy Bitcoin

This is the fun part. While Bitcoin is not the only crypto currency out there, it is the pioneer and best known in the digital currency world. Accordingly, it acts as something of a gateway in the space. Options for buying are growing daily, but for the most part you need to start with Bitcoin in order to acquire other currencies.

There are many options for the step, but because this is a quickstart, I recommend Bitquick.co – which is one of the fastest and most affordable ways to buy.

How to use Bitquick.co

What you'll need:

  • Cash. Cold, hard, physical fiat.
  • To be near a bank.
  • Printer or legible handwriting.
  • A camera.

How it works

  • Go to bitquick.co and click "Quick buy"
  • You'll choose how much you want to buy and the site will preselect a few options, with banks and exchange rates listed.
  • If you want to select an order manually, find the "click here to view all open orders" link. This is found on the "Matching Orders" windows, after you select your amount and payment method.
  • You'll finalize the order by entering your city and state, a valid email address, and your wallet address.
  • The first time you use the service, you'll be asked to verify your identification by uploading an ID.
  • Once the order is placed, you'll get details delivered to your email address, which include the name and account number of the seller.
  • Print or carefully write down the order details. You'll have 3 hours to complete the transaction or the order will be cancelled.
  • Go to the bank (must be a branch of the bank specified!) and make a deposit the the name and account on the order. Yes, you'll need to walk into a bank IRL and interact with a live teller.
  • GET A PAPER RECEIPT!!!
  • Write "For Bitquick.co No Refunds" on the receipt, take a picture of it, then upload the image using the link provided by email.
  • Wait for confirmation. Currently, processing times are usually under an hour.

A few tips

  • Choosing how much you want to buy: You can enter the dollar amount you want to spend, then see how much you'll get in Bitcoin, or enter the amount of Bitcoin you want to get and see the cost in dollars. Keep in mind the final cost will be slightly higher, after fees are included.
  • Choosing a payment method: The next step will as you if you want to pay with a cash deposit, or through money transfer. Choose cash. If you choose money transfer you'll generally find that there are "no available orders." And if there were they fees and processing time would be higher.
  • Review your deposit options: You'll get a list of well known banks to choose from, with the current exchange rates listed below. This is representative of rates set by individual sellers, so expect to see some variance in each rate. If you have the luxury of choice, skip the popular options and select "click here to view all open orders." This will give you a detailed list of bitcoin for sale, with the required bank and the amount available for sale. This is a little more work, but is the best way to shop rates.

Congratulations. You have stepped boldly into the future of finance. If you’ve taken my advice, you started with a small amount so you could get familiar with the process. Try out the above once or twice more – perhaps varying your selections so you know what works best for you. When you’re ready, proceed with step 4 to go deeper into the crypt.

Step 4: Buy altcoins

As I mentioned earlier, Bitcoin (BTC) is just the beginning. The are many other currencies that can be purchased. In fact, this is where the real opportunity lies for most people. At a price of around $5600 per Bitcoin (as of October 19, 2017), BTC requires big investments to see big returns. On the other hand, you can buy Ethereum (ETH) for just over $300. If its trajectory is anything like BTC, that’s an incredible value. And there are plenty of other viable coins and tokens available for much less. I invested in TenX (PAY) tokens which are currently trading just under two bucks a piece. Use this list of top cryptocurrencies to discover more options.

How to buy altcoins

Get a wallet

Just like with Bitcoin, you'll first want to make sure you have a wallet that is compatible with your the currency you want to buy. The wallets recommended in step 2 of this guide are only compatible with Bitcoin and one or a handful of others. There is not any one universal wallet. This can be more of the more frustrating parts of the process, since the more wallets you have, the more you have to secure and keep track of.

The are several wallets that works with the 5 to 10 most traded coins, but the wallet that works with an incredible 64 currencies is Coinomi. The downside is that it's currently only available for Android devices. Desktop and iOS versions are reportedly on the way.

Go to an exchange

With your new wallet address and your Bitcoin address at the ready, head over to a coin exchange.

IMPORTANT: Some exchanges have wallet apps or act as an intermediary holder of your coins while you make trades. Do not ever use these platforms to store your coins. They have a history of getting hacked.

I prefer to use sites that simply facilitate direct trades. These tend to require less sign up friction and account maintenance. My favorite is Coinswitch, which acts as an exchange aggregator. It lets you compare rates across a number of exchanges and requires no account at all. Learn more on the site's very useful FAQ.

Next steps

If you’re intrigued by all this, you’ll probably want to dive even deeper and learn how this can truly change your life. Whether you just want to secure your future access to capital, or you want to invest in the next wave of revolutionary technology, there’s plenty more to learn. Use the following list of to take it to the next level.

Security

Trading advice

You can search YouTube and find an ever-growing list of crypto experts. The one who’s resonated most for me is Brand Kelly – otherwise known as the Boss of Bitcoin. BK posts (almost) daily videos in which he demonstrates his “boss method” via live chart analysis. His engaging personality and finance background help people feel empowered to get into the game.

Learn how to chart "like a boss"

More about blockchain

#io17 brings content strategy to center stage

UX Writer | Content Strategist | Product Writer | UI Writer | Content Designer | Editorial Manager | Software Copywriter

All of the above job titles are used to describe the person responsible for the words found in and around a web or mobile application. While the task of writing copy for user interfaces isn’t new, the consideration of it as crucial to successful product development is a fairly fresh idea. The wide variance of job titles is evidence that companies are still figuring out what it means to staff this sort of work.

It’s also telling that this was the first year, since its beginning in 2008, that Google I/O featured a talk devoted to UX Writing. The conference is an annual event that engages developers from around the world to introduce new tools and instruct on best practices. In a session titled, “How Words Can Make Your Product Stand Out,” UX pros Maggie Stanphill, Alison Rung, and Juliana Appenrodt discussed why app developers should care about good writing, and intro’d a few writing strategies for achieving it.

The intersection of technology, user needs, and business goals is UXImage sourced from UX Booth

As a Senior Content Strategist at Google, it’s exciting to see my colleagues on stage demonstrating how writers contribute to improving the user experience of an app. In addition to working on in-app copy, my team has the special privilege of writing product documentation, support content, and email communications. It can be challenging to wrangle all that messaging – on various platforms and in different stages of the user journey. However, it creates an advantageous, high-level perspective that expands user experience into customer experience. Good UX makes for higher adoption & engagement. And what does good customer experience make? More

Live from Mountain View: Google I/O 2016

Where’ve you been, EightyJane?
If you follow me on LinkedIn, you may know that I’ve defected from entrepreneurial life to take a position at Google. Having never (ever, ever) considered myself the “corporate type,” this move was made with some trepidation: Can I retain any sense of autonomy? Will I feel inspired by purpose or get caught in the money trap? Will my creative talents go dull?

Life at Google
I’m only half a year in, but I’m happy to report that culture at Google lives up to the hype and if I become a corporate drone, I’ll have only myself to blame. I was hired to be a leader of UX content strategy for SMB (small-to-medium business) audiences because of my entrepreneurial spirit, not in spite of it. Accordingly, I still have plenty of room to exercise, learn new skills, attend tech talks, and be otherwise dynamically productive during my 9ish to 5ish day.

Eye on I/O
The Google brand is been about being open and accessible so that the willing can have the resources to make the world anew. And that’s what I/O is about. It’s about sharing what’s new with the world and engaging a community of makers as partners in evolving the world of digital technology. That community isn’t just in Silicon Valley; it isn’t just in the Bay Area; and it certainly isn’t limited to the United States. It is worldwide.

So wherever you are, and whether you’re a developer, a designer, a content creator, a wannabe, or just a lover of all things tech – watch the I/O keynote live online, here on eightyjane.com, and be informed. Better yet, be inspired!

HBO NOW App still far from Netflix UX gold standard

Netflix has spoiled me. The video streaming pioneer is a sophisticated platform that makes browsing a huge catalog feel as comfortable and familiar as scanning the media shelves in my living room. That is, if my living room shelves could magically refresh themselves with new items while remaining perfectly curated to my current tastes, while being (mostly) clutter-free. The 18-year-old company has made me expect savvy streaming experiences – especially when viewing premium content.

So imagine my horror when I signed up for HBO NOW and discovered the user interface looking like a free WP magazine-style theme template! There doesn’t seem to be any account personalization outside of the very basic watchlist, which allows you to save items to watch later. That leaves the front page to fall back on the curation efforts that appeal to the largest common denominator… and we know what happens with that approach. Or, if you didn’t know, here it is.

[Pictured, from HBO NOW desktop app: A collection of movie stills that all feature white males, with a few decorative guns and women in the mix. The guns outnumber the women.]

If I didn’t already know that HBO does actually have great programming, a page like this would send me directly to the subscription cancellation page in my Google Play account. Yet the network can bank on it’s huge and hugely popular catalogue of critically acclaimed shows and documentaries to make viewers like me slog through what looks like someone’s copy+paste-from-the-CMS-backend job.

HBO has finally bent to the inevitable tide of online entertainment consumption that is ringing the death knell of traditional cable services. They must have finally understood that folks like me (and I’m among a growing majority) would sooner forego the pleasure of a timely viewing of Curb Your Enthusiasm, VEEP, Getting On and so so many movies than submit to the tyranny that is a traditional cable subscription. However, they are a long way from serving on-demanding consumers who expect smart information architecture and customized content.

In the longrun – after a number of series binges – the poor navigation and lack of dynamic discovery in the app will make the offering much less attractive to me. Especially at it’s premium $14.99 per month price. Further, Netflix is quickly catching up in the original programming game. To remain competitive HBO will really have to push to develop it’s applications to the golden user experience standard customers now expect.

App of the Week: Canva helps busy bloggers look good

mary must blog

I’ve recently had the privilege of working on content management and publishing for the world’s largest retailer. The opportunity to be a part of the digital strategy team for an organization of such scale has been thrilling, but it’s required some sacrifices. My aversion to cubicles notwithstanding, I can be counted on to be in the office 40+ hours per week and, woefully, in the car 15+ hours per week (#commuterprobs). It could be worse, but it has put an near freeze on all of my blogging activities. A fact that’s made my inner entrepreneur restless and demanding: I must blog.

With spare time short, blogging has to be quick and efficient without sacrificing my digital content values: quality copy and visual excellency. Thats where apps like Canva become a blogger’s salvation. The web application allows non-designers to pull together tasty graphics that please the modern media consumer’s palette. Using templates and simple drag & drop actions members can create slick looking presentations, social media images, flyers, and blog graphics, among an impressive number of formats. The company’s recent move to open the pool of layouts to contributing designers should make options even richer, granted they maintain high design standards and keep navigation and browsing easy.

The Canva user interface is very intuitive, but to get you started and keep you going, members learn to use the platform using the app’s design school. Think Codecademy meets Polyvore. And it’s free! Freemium, that is, as it’s got a useful basic service that is free of charge, but premium features can be purchased to enhance your experience of the product. For example, the graphic above contains a watermark because the background image is a premium image. Just $1 to remove that and obtain a one time use license.

I used a free template to create the graphic below and it’s one of many that are good candidates for periodic posts. From pretty images & pithy sayings to decorate an Intagram feed, to quarterly reports turned into an infographic, Canva helps the helpless add polish to their digital repertoire. That makes it well-qualified to be the app of the week.

canva app of the week

Collector’s Paradise: eBay Joins the Content Curation Party

ebay collections as content strategy

When eBay introduced collections a few months ago I wondered if they were a replacement for their not-so-slick lists. Themselves a fairly new extension of the veteran Watch List, lists were a way to categorize all those things you “watch” – often with no real intention to buy. They encourage the rampant window shopping that, if other members are like me, makes up the vast majority of time spent on eBay. Unfortunately, lists don’t have a sexy* user interface and are buried under vague navigation clicks. The result is they’re forgotten just as quickly as they’re made.

ebay lists and navigation
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#FTW14: Mobile Apps for Offline Shopping

The Retail Tech Summit took place Sunday, March 2nd, as part of San Francisco’s Fashion Tech Week 2014. The event featured presentations and panel discussions from companies that are using technology in new ways to improve retail experiences online and offline. Surprisingly, though, this years selection of presenters skewed toward the offline end of the spectrum. It was a refreshing break from the barage of e-commerce options that dominate the fashion app landscape. I was especially intrigued that among a short list, there were two applications at the summit focus on helping mobile users find brick and mortar shops to patronize.

click for larger view

click for larger view

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Colourlovers x Betabrand

The Green Light
The Green Light by eighty
www.COLOURlovers.com

From Colourlovers.com:

“Betabrand is partnering with COLOURlovers for an incredible new contest. Betabrand, a company based in San Francisco, is an online community that designs, manufactures, and releases new items every week! They are now launching a new clothing line for women and we’re going to help them choose colors for one of their designs. Our users will be choosing five colors for a pair of Betabrand leggings.”

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Diary of a Digital Stylist: Covet Fashion App

covet allowance notification I’ve been a fan of online dress up games since before they were made for anyone older than about 8 years. Thankfully, the fast-growing fashion e-commerce industry has made developing such games for adults more worthwhile. My lastest digital styling obsession is Covet Fashion app, from Burlingame-based game firm, CrowdStar.

The iPhone note you see here is one I look forward to daily, because it means I have more gameplay ammo. For those that like to create outfits using digital tools the game is very engaging. It’s a great mix between games where you dress up digital “dolls” and sites like Polyvore.com, which feature real clothes, but no bodies to put them on.

covet fashion app enter events

The object of the Covet Fashion game is to enter events which require you to create looks for a specific occasion. If your look is highly rated by the community you win a piece of fashion to add to your virtual wardrobe. Access to events is limited by either the value of your closet or the necessity to use a certain brand in your look. Some brand-sponsored events feature a real prize for the top-rated look, as judged by the community and the Covet Fashion team. More

Managing Freelancer Success – Will the oDesk-Elance Merger Help?

freelancer success

There are some that use freelancer platforms for the purpose of earning a bit of extra cash. For a growing number, though, the work found on sites like oDesk and Elance (my two most used) are not just side gigs – they are part of – or wholly – the source of full-time employment. Accordingly, it’s becoming more important that these platforms offer ways for freelancers to evaluate potential clients, just as they are themselves evaluated.

The recently announced merger between the above mentioned companies has, predictably, caused a stir amongst the community of online workers – and the general timber is not a happy one. The loudest cries I’ve heard come from More