Welcome to my blog! Please keep these three things in mind:

1. Everything on my blog is my point of view and does not represent the view of any company I've worked for, past, present, or future. 
2. If you want to respond to anything I've written, use my Contact form. 
3. The previous version of my blog is partially available online, but I put the best parts of it in my first book, Minority Tech: Journaling Through Blackness and Technology. You should buy it. It's fun.


Being a Digital Leader

posted Mar 26, 2014, 9:43 AM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Mar 26, 2014, 9:47 AM ]

I just finished a Google Hangout with the students in a course called Leadership in Digital Contexts course that my friend Kaia Shivers teaches at Rutgers University. I shared these points:

I work as a digital leader by speaking and writing about technology and the need to expand diversity in the sector. I am passionate about making the technology industry truly inclusive so that we can maximize innovation on a global scale.

I was, many years ago, where you were. Well, there were no classes like this because Facebook and Twitter didn't exist. In fact, Google didn't exist! So, I structured this to share four points that I would want someone to share with me  about the digital space when I was your age. So, here are four tips for being a digital leader.

1. Choose Your Tools. Don't Try Every Social Network. You'll spread yourself too thin in you try. Pick three or four key sites, and focus on using those. I focus on Facebook and Twitter and occasionally use Instagram.

2. Create Great Content. It's cliche, but content is king. Great content creators consume great content. Know current hot topics, but don't just copy and paste headlines. For example, Facebook recently purchased the Oculus Rift. A lot of people posted that, but the next level is to analyze what that means. How does the Rift purchase fit into the context of Facebook's previous purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp. What types of companies might Facebook purchase in the future?

3. Connect Offline. Attend conferences in your area of expertise. Submit proposals to speak at conferences. SXSW just wrapped a couple of weeks ago, and I've spoken four times at that conference. One reason I wrote Minority Tech was to have a physical product that people could use offline. Online influence is made stronger by connecting offline.

4. Guard Your Brand We all have personal brands. It's what people say about us when we're not around. Avoid online arguments, Twitter beef, etc., as much as possible. In the past two weeks, I've had two friends have to apologize for getting into Twitter arguments with major members of the media. They both realized that they lost out on opportunities and hurt their personal brands. 

Star Trek UX|UI Rules for Phones, Tablets, and TVs

posted Feb 28, 2014, 5:56 PM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Mar 19, 2014, 6:20 AM ]

Welcome to our presentation, "Star Trek UX|UI Rules for Phones, Tablets, and TVs". I'm Danielle Paige, and my co-presenter, Ana Karen, and I know that coming to a panel on the Saturday morning of South By is a tough proposition. Many of you may have been out late last night, and there were several other great panels in this time slot. So, we know that it took a lot for many of you to come here, and we appreciate that.

We work as User Experience and User Interface designers, and, like many of you, we face the challenge of coming up with innovative and user friendly designs for the many displays that consumers use today. Whether it's the recently released Samsung Galaxy S5, an iPad Air, or a Sony PS4 game displayed on a 60 inch TV, there are many platforms and splays that need user interfaces. We believe that Star Trek offers a rich paradigm for designing these interfaces because it imagined the world we live in today. In fact, the Way of Trek has influenced science and technology for decades. Here are a few quick examples.

In 1980? NASA came up with the idea for a new type of space vehicle. It would combine the booster rockets used in the Apollo program with a shuttle that could carry cargo and a crew of more than two people. NASA had intended to call the first protoype #####, but fans of a TV show that, at the time, had been off the air for ## years, insisted that the name of such a space vehicle was wrong. They insisted on the Way of Trek. After a massive write in campaign by Star Trek fans changed the course of history. Bowing to pressure, the orbitor was called the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Our second example of the power of the Way of Trek involves how it influenced the design of an advanced piece of technology. In 1989?, Motorola as selling the MicroTac. It was one of the first cell phones that you didn't need a forklift to carry around. However, the MicroTac had a problem.  It wasn't selling very well. So, the designers of the MicroTac took it down the road to an engineering firm. They explained to the engineers that they were having trouble selling one of their cell phones. The engineers replied, "What's a cell phone?" They described it as a device that could make calls like the phones they had in their homes, but it was mobile. The engineers looked at the MicroTac and noticed that the cover flipped down. They pointed out that Motorola had implemented the wrong design for the phone. They insisted that a mobile communication device should look like the one carried by Captain Kirk in Star Trek. The lid had to flip up. Motorola took the advice of the engineers and implemented the flip up design. After making sure they put the proper copyrights in place, they called the phone the StarTac. The StarTac went on to become the first commercially successful cell phone.

Our two examples of the Way of Trek have been from The Original Series. The final example is from The Next Generation which is the incarnation of Star Trek that we will use for the rest of our presentation. It was during The Next Generation that the Library Computer Access and Retrieval System, abbreviated as LCARS, was introduced. LCARS was the operating system of the future that Michael Okuda designed for Star Trek. It's signature flat design with a basic color set could be seen in everything from tricorder to the consoles on the Enterprise. However, it was the PADD, or Personal Access Display Device, that provided the model for a device that jump started the tablet category. Starting in the early 2000s, many companies had tried to create tablet computers. Microsoft created the Tablet PC which failed to sell very well.  It's failure may have been due to the physical design of Tablet PCs which was basically a laptop with a swivel screen and the fact that it just used a modified version of Windows XP. Apple was rumored to be working on a tablet for years, and, while no Apple employee would admit it, the company clearly borrowed from Star Trek's PADD. Instead of a modified laptop design and Windows XP operating system, Apple introduced a flat slate with the same easy to use operating system used in the phenomenly successful iPhone. What did they call their tablet? The iPad. Most people don't remember how controversial the name of the iPad was when it was first announced. Some thought that it sounded too much like a personal feminine hygiene product. However, those of us who are fans of Star Trek knew what Apple was doing.

These three examples show the Way of Trek. We see how whether its naming the first space shuttle, fixing the physical design of the first commercially successful mobile phone, or naming and designing the first successful consumer grade tablet, Star Trek has had a huge influence in space exploration and product design. However, we don't think that Star Trek has been leveraged for user interface and user experience design.




Building

posted Jan 20, 2014, 9:04 AM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jan 20, 2014, 9:05 AM ]

I have to admit that I am enjoying this time of focusing on building products and services. I think that social media took too much time away from producing and getting things done. I turn 40 in December of this year, and that milestone has motivated me to focus on the things I want to leave behind in this world. It has to be more than a series of tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram pictures that don't much good to anyone.

Publishing Minority Tech last year really helped me get to this building phase. I'm proud of the product I created, and I can't wait to share the other things I'm working on now. It will probably take me all year, but I hope that December presents the window for me to make my announcements.
Under Construction

Mapping Your GoDaddy Domain to Google Sites

posted Jan 17, 2014, 4:32 PM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jan 20, 2014, 8:52 AM ]

I've started migrating my sites from Squarespace to Google Sites. Here is how I mapped each of my GoDaddy domains to point to Google Sites:

  1. Change CNAME of the www subdomain in GoDaddy for the domain to ghs.googlehosted.com. I recommend using the GoDaddy app for this instead of the poorly designed website.
  2. Verify the GoDaddy domain using Google Webmaster Tools.
  3. This will kick off the verification process which will prompt you to login to GoDaddy.
  4. Add the GoDaddy domain to the Google Sites site under Manage Site -> Web Address. This must be in www.<domain_name>.com format.

Associating Google Analytics to Google Sites with Custom Domains

posted Jan 14, 2014, 5:12 PM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jan 14, 2014, 5:12 PM ]

  1. Create Custom Domain.
  2. Create Google Analytics Account
  3. Associate Google Analytics web property with Custom Domain.
  4. Enable Google Analytics for the Google Site.
  5. Enable Search queries in Google Analytics by adding the 'q' parameter.

Why I Left Squarespace for Google Sites

posted Jan 10, 2014, 10:39 AM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jan 10, 2014, 10:48 AM ]

Image Courtesy 2slick

I've decided to move my domains from Squarespace to Google Sites. So, the journey of my web hosting services has followed this path (including if they were free or paid):

  1. Yahoo! Small Business (paid)
  2. WordPress.com (free)
  3. Self-Hosted WordPress (paid for server)
  4. Squarespace (paid)
  5. Google Sites (free)
Of these five services, I enjoyed Squarespace the most, particularly Squarespace 6. It was a paid service that offerred a lot of flexibility when it came to designing websites. So, why am I leaving Squarespace for Google Sites? Here are the reasons:
  • Google Sites doesn't provide the level of design control as Squarespace, but it's good enough. There are several page templates available, and they can all be modified by selecting different fonts, font sizes, colors, background images, headers, etc.
  • Google has done a lot of integration between Google Sites and other Google properties like Google+, Google Drive, and YouTube. So, it's easy to embed Google+ picture galleries, YouTube videos, Google Drive forms, etc.
  • Google Sites easily integrate with Google Analytics which offer more insight than the analytics that come with Squarespace.
  • I assume that Google will give sites created using Google Sites a little more SEO "juice" to encourage people to use it.
  • And, of course, Google Sites is a free service.
While Google Sites lacks a lot of features (most notably, the ability for anyone to make a comment on a blog post), it is enough of a minimum viable product for me to make the switch. Google Sites gives me the ability to make sites that look good enough to not look like a thrown together site. And the price is right.




Clarity

posted Jan 9, 2014, 8:06 PM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jan 10, 2014, 7:44 AM ]

Some events in life being you to a point where even things that have been said to you repeatedly suddenly become clear. While the silence of being off social media is often (ironically) deafening, it has allowed me to think outside of an unending stream of information. I have also spoken with trusted advisors via the telephone which has yielded insights that can best be received on a one-to-one basis (instead of the one-to-many structure of social media). I think I'm beginning to put in place the proper structures and processes I need in my life for me to live up to my potential.


Less Broadcasting, More Building

posted Jan 9, 2014, 9:37 AM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jan 10, 2014, 7:45 AM ]

I recently decided to take a break from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, etc. I realized that these sites often give the illusion of getting things done without having much to show for the efforts invested into them. I'm not sure how long this hiatus will be, but I want to focus in personal growth and advancement of goals that I have long wanted to complete. Essentially, I want to do less talking about things and more doing things.


25 Random Things About Me

posted Dec 29, 2013, 7:51 PM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jan 10, 2014, 7:46 AM ]

I initially posted on my Facebook profile on January 26, 2009. I'm reposting it here on my blog:
 
Once, you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things. At the end, you choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

I don't normally do this, but, out of respect for the people who have tagged me, I'll give it a go. Also, many of the people I tagged have tagged me in their list of 25 things.

1. I am 6' 2" and weigh 220 lbs. While far from overweight, I would like to get down to 210 lbs. I also would also like to get up to 6' 6", but that's much harder to do.
2. I am left handed. It is a hard world for us south paws.
3. I have never broken a bone in my body.
4. I had lasik surgery a few months ago, and it was the BEST money I have ever spent. I went from having extremely poor vision to better than 20/20.
5. I do not smoke, and I very rarely drink.
6. I am not an emotional person. I think it is because I always feared that if I allowed myself to love something, then it would hurt too much if it was taken away. However, I have allowed myself to be completely emotionally exposed to four people: my wife, my two sons, and my daughter. They are the only people on the planet I love with total abandonment and with no reservations at all.
7. Because of #6, I would be completely devastated if I lost my wife or any of my children. Beyond repair.
8. I truly believe that I married the most exceptional woman in the world. She is beautiful, has a fantastic body (even after three children!), is extremely intelligent and totally supportive. Nothing makes me feel better than making her happy, and, conversely, nothing makes me feel worse than letting her down.
9. I have been blessed with wonderful children, and I want to raise them to reach the unlimited potential I see in them.
10. I am not as close to my extended family as I would like to be or know that I should be.
11. Until very recently, the most famous person I have ever shaken hands with was former President Jimmy Carter. That changed when I shook hands with Warren Buffet a few weeks ago.
12. I have been to all of the seven continents except for South America and Antarctica.
13. I have experienced racism in various forms throughout my life, but the most vivid experience was when I was a Resident Assistant at Jester Dorm at The University of Texas at Austin during my senior year. Someone taped a lewd picture of three figures on my door. The figure on the left was labeled "You", the figure in the middle was bending over and was labeled "Your Girlfriend", and the figure on the right was doing something unpleasant to the figure in the middle and was labeled "Me". The note said at the bottom, "Why is a nigger like you trying to get an electrical engineering degree? You should go back to being a criminal". Needless to say, I was more motivated than ever to complete my degree which I did a few months later.
14. My dream job is be the CIO of a Fortune 500 company.
15. My other dream job is to be a technology journalist. Hopefully, I can eventually do this and #14.
16. I have a fraternal twin brother named Antuan. Consequently, I have been called Antuan all of my life and readily answer to it.
17. I love love love technology. It is my one weakness. If I had infinite wealth, I would spend 90% of it on technology (just work through that for a minute).
18. What do I consider the coolest technology? You know those cans of biscuits that you peel the label off and they pop open? HOW COOL IS THAT?!?! I would work as a biscuit can popper tester, but I don't think they make a lot of money.
19. Just as a warning, my 25th thing will be about my worst job, and it contains a disgusting piece of information. Don't read the last item unless you are prepared to be grossed out.
20. When I was a child, I would wrap a towel around my neck and jump off of the roof of my parent's house in my underwear. I always thought I would eventually fly like Superman. I never did. Which makes #3 even more impressive.
21. I have never been drunk. Or high. To my knowledge. No seriously, I have never been.
22. I am concerned that my desire to be a completely ethical and honest business person will keep me from maximizing my success in the professional world. However, I am fine with that limitation.
23. I have never had a lucid dream, but I very badly want to have one.
24. I don't consider this a "job", but one major life goal I have is to become a published author.
25. My worst job was as a dishwasher in a nursing home when I was 14 years old. Many of the residents suffered from dementia and would take wrappers from Hershey's Kisses and wrap their feces in it as a nice silvery gift for us on the kitchen staff. Needless to say, this motivated me to go to college and not have to deal with such things. Unfortunately, I have often had to deal with feces of a different sort as a business person. Sorry if you are eating while reading this, especially if it is chocolate. I tried to warn you.


Hello World

posted Dec 29, 2013, 6:36 PM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jan 10, 2014, 7:46 AM ]

Let's Go!


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