iOS 9 Organizes Our Narcissistic Traits…So We Don’t Have To

On Saturday morning as I sipped my coffee and did my morning news skimming on my iPad, I decided to update my iPhone 6 to the much-touted iOS 9 release. I had deliberately steered clear of articles detailing the new iOS 9 features and enhancements, preferring to play around to discover the new stuff organically as a measure of the overall user experience and usability.

The update went smoothly and quickly (as it typically does, thanks, Apple) and soon I was playing around with the enhanced interface and new apps. In between the interesting new keyboard font and caps toggle controls (thumbs up on the readability and usability) and the new card-stack behavior of the Home screen button (jury’s still out on whether this is enhanced usability or not), lay an enhancement to the Photos app that nearly made me spit out my espresso.

A new folder was now in my Photo Albums lineup, innocuously named:


It had a photo count of 747.

747 photos??? I felt a little woozy.

After getting over the initial surprise and confusion that such a boldly-labeled folder would exist, I ruled out that I had somehow semi-accidentally created the “Selfies” folder myself during a cold-medicine fugue episode where I decided that 12,000+ photos in a single folder was just finally TOO MUCH. (After all, I had been on Dayquil most of the week due to a nasty little virus I picked up on a recent trip to St. Petersburg, and to be honest, I’ve had some blurry moments these past few days as a result. But still…).

It then dawned on me that this was clearly an iOS 9 “enhancement.”

Holy Kardashians, Batman — how could the count be so high??!!!?

Had I really snapped over 700 pics of my own mug and failed to delete them?

But then I got suspicious. And a little scared.

For as I scrolled through the contact sheet view, looking at pic after pic that included my own face (or part of it, as my selfie game has never really been that hot), I realized that I’d personally never tagged any of these selfie photos with my name.

As a matter of record, about 95% of them had never been seen beyond the confines of my iPhone screen — never having been posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media or otherwise public forum.

These were truly my private photos, spanning the past 3 years and often taken after I’d had my hair styled or was checking out my makeup, a new hat, outfit, or some other shiny accessory I was thinking of buying. Others involved selfies with my partner, friends, family, pets, or just random moments in time that I hadn’t bothered ever looking at again but hadn’t bothered deleting yet, either.

Was it: Algorithms? Facial recognition software?  How did iOS 9 know it was ME????

And after about 3 minutes of muttering to myself about Big Brother and the dangers of technology, it finally dawned on me:

The damn front-facing camera.

Minus an error rate of about 2% (where the pics weren’t actually taken by me but were sent to me via text), the contents of my auto-generated “Selfies” folder were solely pics I’d taken using the front-facing camera on my phone.

A Google search quickly confirmed my breakfast hypothesis.

I felt slightly let down at the news. Despite my initial fearful flutters about how advanced facial recognition software must be or Apple to be using so casually in this consumer context, I actually wanted this latest iOS to be *that* clever.

Because I’m inherently lazy about organizing my own burgeoning collection photos, I wanted my phone to be smart enough to do the work for me, even if it meant introducing a bit of creepy technology to do it.

And while iOS 9 can certainly help organize photos based on geo-tags, e.g. Siri very helpfully found all my photos that were taken on multiple trips I’ve taken to say, Milwaukee, it’s still a far cry from the more granular organization of pictures by other topics and objects (A request to Siri to find my photos of “cats” returned no results; my kittens will attest to the fact that there are definitely a number of photos of them in existence.)

In the meantime, though, I guess I’ll take this incremental advancement that Apple has given us towards organizing our own narcissism as a handy “usability” feature. After all, it not only organizes all those spur-of-the-moment salon shots into a single location, but it enables me to delete them much more quickly.

And perhaps I’ll think twice about how much I use the front-facing camera going forward. But likely not.


When not contemplating whether to put out a book of her worst selfies, Sarah Kling enjoys designing and delivering great products. Follow her on Twitter at

16.75 Hours on My iPhone

16.75 Hours on My iPhone

4:45am: Alarm, turned off. Got calendar reminder that it was my turn to post the blog today (oooops!)

4:46am: Check and respond to texts and emails from while my phone was on sleep (9pm to 5am).

4:50am: Check Instagram and Facebook (the app is back on my phone. I am PATHETIC).

4:55am: Check calendar to determine what the heck I am supposed to do today and how to dress appropriately (any meetings to dress up for?)

4:59am: Check weather app. Hot today. Cold at baseball tonight. Welcome to Spring in Northern California.

5:00am: Got to my  to make sure I am signed up for the 5:30am class. Sign up for the Wednesday and weekend classes.

5:02am: Flashlight.

5:10am: Check (where I keep all my to do lists).

6:18am: Check emails and texts post class.

6:22am: Buy coffee.

7:00am: Look up a new recipe I want to try on my favorite cooking app

7:10am: Read for some daily world news summaries. If you are not getting this daily email, you should.

7:15am: Order groceries from for delivery tonight after my son’s baseball game. Includes ingredients for the recipe I want to try.

8:10am: Working from home for a few hours. Looking at emails as they come in. Responding, forwarding on laptop.

9:40am: Take a picture of something funny at my daughters camp I saw to post later to my private friend group on Facebook.

9:50am: Check Google Maps to make sure I know quickest route to get to work after dropping off my daughter at Spring Break tennis camp.

10:11am: Call my dad to make sure he can provide lunch for my son today (they are hanging out….Spring Break baby!)

10:15am: Check email and respond to a text (at a long stoplight).

10:18am: Take a picture of a gaggle (?) of turkeys in our vineyard as I am driving in.

10:50am: Check and respond to email (my work desktop is not working…ahhhh!)

11:00am: Edit picture on app.

11:15am: Post edited turkey picture on winery Instagram page, Facebook page, Twitter and Flickr.

11:32am: Check LinkedIn app and respond to connection request. Look up a phone number and email address of a connection. Scroll through posts and relevant industry news.

11:38am: Take a picture of a magazine cover (his CEO is on it) and text to my husband.

11:49am: Install iOS 8.3 while waiting for my desktop to load Outlook. Errors are killing me.


12:03pm: Checked Facebook while my food was in the microwave. Jealous of my friends that are posting pictures from Mexico. Reminded myself not to check Facebook this week due to inevitable Spring Break envy.

12:14pm: What time is it?

12:17pm: Checked Shopify app for my  fitness sleeve business. No orders yet today.😦

12:22pm: Via Safari, checked web site of , meal delivery service, for meals next week.

12:24pm: Responded to Evite for a birthday party for my daughter this weekend.

12:55pm: Double checked the family Google calendar entry of my son’s baseball game tonight. Place and time.

(In a meeting)

1:10pm: Booked two work lunches via for the next two weeks.

1:15pm: Checked email.

1:16pm: Cancelled one of the work lunches for next week via OpenTable (based on one of the emails received).

1:40pm: Looked up the web site and images via Safari App for a country performer that is playing at the winery later in the year, as discussed in the meeting. To be announced!

1:42pm: Scheduled personal lunch via text for next week with a friend.

2:01pm: Zappos app: eyed those shoes I want.

2:04pm: Listened to a new voicemail, which is sent to me as an attachment in an email (love that my work vm does that).

2:06pm: Sent an email to task someone at my office with something (per the voicemail I received.)

2:20pm: Responded to a group text about soccer carpool this week.

(Out of meeting)

2:22pm: Skimmed several wine industry article links (sent to me in an email). Feeling bad for some growers in Lodi that lost a decent amount of their crop from a freak hailstorm.

3:02: Posted and commented on funny picture in my private friends Facebook group.

3:08pm: Responded to a text from my Instacart shopper.

(in car)

3:15 Called husband to get son’s cleats and bring to baseball game. No answer.

3:18: Husband called back. Mission accomplished.

(Home for ten minutes then to Little League field)

4:31: Texting back and forth with hairdresser to schedule appointment.

5:01: Hair dresser calls. Missed it. Still no appointment scheduled.

5:15: Daughter commandeers phone at son’s baseball game.

6:45: Game over. Take phone back. Check email. Answer three customer emails.

6:47: Text husband (a coach) where we are going for dinner.

7:15: Check Facebook. F you Mexico. Why am I not there?

7:45: Receive call from Instacart shopper. He’s early. Just pulling up at home.

7:51: Call Instacart shopper…he gave me one of the wrong bags. Is this supposed to save me time? Yes yes, it does.

8:01: Buy cute shoes on Zappos.

8:30: Texting with a few friends during break from . Check work social media pages to see if anything exciting is going on.

9:15: Set alarm. Check email, Instagram and Facebook. Retire to iPad to read a book on Kindle app.

The Top 10 Things I Did to Finally Write That Book

We all have a story to tell. And living in Silicon Valley, our stories usually center around innovation. I’m a “chupacabra” of sorts, since I was born and raised in Palo Alto and decided to stay after college to pursue a career in high tech.

I cut my teeth on some no-name startups, grew up at Adobe, became an evangelist at Apple and am now a “mompreneur” doing the contract gig. And like most working moms, I’m trying to figure out the whole work, life balance and not lose my identity.

I volunteer on a couple boards, help out at my children’s school, and I’m involved in my community. But every step of the way, I feel like I’m losing a piece of myself. Who have I become? What is missing from my life? I have a great career, family, and friends but what is that one thing that makes me feel whole?

I LOVE to tell a good story. I can’t count the number of times in high school, my imagination got me out of trouble. I observe life and rethink the possibilities through my writing. This passion began in my youth, in the privacy of my bedroom with a journal. When high school came along, my creative writing took a backseat to boys and homework. And then with college, the start of my career, a marriage and two young children, life got in the way. Would I ever write that book?

Then I began to think about my career and how I had created some real life stories with all of you. If I twisted things around, the fictional outcomes were endless. I slowly began to write whenever I had a free moment. You see, for me, I discovered  the writing process soothes my soul from the chaos of life. I can transport myself to another world, if only for 30 minutes. So, several years ago, I decided to take the plunge and go for it. I decided to write that book.

Last week, I finally did it. I my debut novel, , a high tech thriller about the inner workings of a Silicon Valley start-up on the eve of its IPO. It’s been a labor of love that took YEARS of hard work.

The first question most people ask is “How did you do it?” That would require a long discussion over a bottle or two of wine. For this blog, I’ve come up with a list of The Top 10 Things I Did to Finally Write That Book.

  1. Just Write! Easier said than done but it’s true. All you need to do is come up with an idea and start typing.
  2. Get a Support Network: You need at least one person in your life to support your dream. My husband was that person. And I put him through hell and back but he was my anchor, reassuring me ever step of the way that I could do it.
  3. Make Time: Carve out time every week to write. I work full time. I volunteer. I have two kids, a husband, a house, a new puppy, extended family and I wake up most days at that crack of dawn to exercise. My life is booked solid and I don’t even drink coffee — crazy right? But in between these events, I make myself write. And I always carry my laptop.
  4. Observe Life: Wherever you are, look, listen and feel. You will find the best material all around you. And you can capture any moment on your phone through a photo, video or your own words.
  5. Attend Writing Workshops: Learn the craft of writing for your genre. My favorite workshop was the in Marin County. I got the opportunity to spend three nights and four days immersed with people like myself and published authors. After that weekend, I realized I had found my tribe. I was born to be a writer.
  6. Read Books: Read books in your genre and see how other authors craft their stories. This is the cheapest and easiest way to learn the art of storytelling.
  7. Meet Authors: Build connections with published authors to gain their insight and advice. Attend readings or workshops. Don’t become a stalker. Be smart and ask questions to build a rapport. Almost all successful authors will help aspiring writers because at some point in their career, they were like you. Thank you , and .
  8. Know that the 1st Draft Is CRAP: I’m just being honest. No author can write words of gold the first time. The point here is don’t get lost in the process of editing. That can take you down a rabbit hole of distraction—and I know this from personal experience. Just complete the first draft and get the story down. Then you can begin the editing process.
  9. Be Open to Feedback: There is always room for improvement. But you need to be able to accept constructive feedback as you edit your book. Find a writing group to test your work and learn from others. But at some point, you will need to go beyond family and friends. Hire an editor who knows your genre and will be brutally honest. As famed novelist and screenwriter once said, “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.”
  10. Never Give Up: It took me YEARS to write . And it was not easy. Life always has a way of interrupting well thought plans. But stay on point and get it done!

The above is just the tip of the iceberg but hopefully it will resonate with some of you. Although I won’t be giving up my day job any time soon, I will continue to write — book #2 is already in the works. I’ll leave you with one last thought. When I worked at Adobe, they had a marketing campaign that said, “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do it.” If you have a dream of writing that book, what’s holding you back? Just go write!

Congratulations! It’s a technology marketer!

by Julie Zisman

I grew up in Silicon Valley in a town called San Carlos. If you live here now, you might be surprised. It seems that it’s quite unusual to be a native these days.

Most of my earliest memories feel like they fell out of small town, 1950s USA. I used to get french fries at the Woolworth’s lunch counter. I saw Snow White for the first time in one of the two movie theaters that used to be downtown (and cried because it was so scary). I used to play outside all day long without seeing an adult until dark. My older brother used to walk me to elementary school (I was 7 and he was 10).

In 1979 my father brought home a Radio Shack TRS80 — one of the original desktop computers. Who knew, at the time, that this signified a cultural phenomenon that would impact the rest of my life.

Let’s look at my personal history with technology:

1982: (Sun Microsystems was founded)
There’s this kind of crazy math teacher called Mr. Shoots who picked on the kids but kept a bank of computers in his classroom so we could  play a game called “Worm.”   Everyone got to play but first we had to learn how to code the game in  ++.

1987:  (PeopleSoft was founded)
My very first, part-time job was at a company that developed proprietary software for ATMs.  I sent DOS-prompted “electronic mail” to my co-workers in order to request their timecards and expenses.

1991:  (The debut of the World Wide Web)
I started to work on my Bachelor of Arts degree at San Diego State University with an emphasis in graphic design. My first classes largely focused on skills having to do with an X-Acto Knife. Within one quarter the curriculum completely changed and all my classes moved to the computer lab. The students excelling were clearly those people who had their own desktop Apple computers.  How was I supposed to afford $1,000 for my own Macintosh Classic when I had to buy beer?

1996: (The launch of Hotmail)
I land a junior marketing role at VeriFone.  One of the first technology business disruptors, VeriFone changed the way consumers and banks looked at credit card payments. My general appetite for technology was fully seeded and my climb as a technology marketer started.

For a long time, I held a skewed view of how my career choices were based on my proximity to Silicon Valley. Then I started meeting other amazing women from all parts of the nation who were drawn to technology and the “start-up” culture.  I’m pretty sure we all like the same thing: complex problem solving.  We all bring unique approaches and have different flavors of life.  As such, I’ve invited a bunch of them to partner with me in discussing their histories and stories.

This blog is dedicated to celebrating the crazy, weird ways that technology shapes our lives and why things are just a little bit different here in Silicon Valley.