“We clearly missed the mobile phone”

Slashdot: Satya Nadella: “We clearly missed the mobile phone.” What is so frustrating to those of us whose fortunes were tied to Microsoft’s (I was an intern in 2001 and an employee from 2002 to 2004) is that it wasn’t for lack of trying.

There was constantly something going on in mobile, often with senior leadership taking the reins. But too often it was trying to push a version of the Windows user experience into a handheld format.

The lesson? Don’t let your product portfolio strategy overrule user experience, or users will overrule you.

Vote early (not often)

Early voting sign in Andover, Massachusetts (AP)
Early voting sign in Andover, Massachusetts (AP)

I just did early voting for the first time this morning. It was easier than I expected.

My town offers one early voting location, in Cary Memorial Hall. I found a parking space in front (reserved for early voters) and entered the lobby, where there were about twelve other voters reading signs and standing in line to check in. About eight more were already inside voting.

I was given a ballot and an envelope that the poll worker marked with my precinct number. I voted, then signed the envelope and wrote my address on the outside, sealing my ballot inside. I turned in my ballot to a sealed box; because the ballot was sealed, there was no scantron and no counter, so I can’t tell you which voter number I was.

From a security perspective, the voting process seems no more or less secure than regular voting. It’s possible that someone could give a poll worker someone else’s name and street address, thus blocking their attempt to vote (just as they could on Election Day). It’s also possible that someone could register under their own name and then write someone else’s information on the early voting envelope and thus invalidate both ballots. But I think both outcomes are unlikely to be practiced at scale.

Massachusetts passed legislation in 2014 requiring that early voting be offered, and this is the first presidential election in which the law goes into effect. I’m hopeful that it will spark higher turnout. I’m wearing my “I Voted” sticker with the same goal.