James Hill-Khurana

Fixer of typos.

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Go Away

I think most products today, especially technology, are suffering from an identity crisis. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and we are.

We’re at the point where we have been programmed to want the latest, newest tech, and the devices and applications themselves are sometimes made to be as addictive as possible. We have essentially had to become mini system administrators, each tending over a small galaxy of devices, keeping them up-to-date, downloading the newest apps, managing our passwords, deleting files, along with a myriad of other stuff. Technology has become an overcomplicated, slot machine-filled mess. This isn’t Vegas anymore, it’s your brain.

That’s in addition to the the usual, like cleaning, getting groceries, cooking, commuting, and doing laundry. All of this additional complexity in the products and tools we use every day means less time for the truly interesting...

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Polymail and Building a Product Users Love

polymail-team.jpeg

Brandon Foo met his co-founder Brandon Shin while studying at UC Santa Barbara during his sophomore year, quickly becoming roommates and friends. When transferring to UCLA, he met his other co-founder, Shahan Khan. Together Foo and Khan worked on creating an entrepreneurship organization within the university — and from that time on, knew they wanted to build something together. Starting a small development agency and then a co-working space (which eventually became one of the largest in Los Angeles). This was when they noticed a constant pain point: email was ubiquitous, but the features they wanted were spread across disparate browser plugins, essentially HTML hacks, and only available for Gmail on the desktop. Becoming users of tools like Slack that promoted the idea of a unified, cohesive place for work, they thought “Why not do this for external communications, too?” After all...

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ReadMe and Launching Early

readme-team.jpeg

 The story of ReadMe, as told by its founder, Gregory Koberger.

I originally had the idea at the first startup I worked at a long time ago. I had to document their API and a few JS widgets for developers to consume — and it seemed pretty crazy that there wasn’t a simple way to build a developer portal. The concept of which is pretty standardized, yet everyone was spending time building their own, essentially wasting the most precious resource of all, developer time.

I’ve always had an interest in building tools for developers because I believe that usability in software development is sorely lacking. I kept coming back to this problem.

Over the past few years we’ve seen some great examples of companies focus on documentation, and I think it’s great: the faster people learn, understand, and build, the more value is created.

There wasn’t a particular point at which I deliberately sat...

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The Value of Mistakes

Reflecting back to as recently as a few hours ago, to the equivalent of “that email or message I wrote that could’ve been better”, I feel embarrassed. That feeling alone doesn’t have much particular value; it will do nothing but eat you alive if you let it. However, if you analyze it, treating it like a well-placed sticky note, and ask why you feel that way, you can improve (“Was I overeager? Did I express myself poorly?”) and be more conscious next time.

If you really can’t get a mistake out of your head, acknowledge it (“This was not my best work”). And finally, say sorry — you’ve messed up, but hopefully you’ve learned from it.

A favourite quote, by Bob Hoover, a famous test pilot, goes something like this: Bob had been flying back from an airshow, when both the engines on his plane died. Later, after an emergency landing, he inspected the plane and discovered it had been loaded...

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