About · Posts · Categories · Projects · Mailing List

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Introduction

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The goal of this post is to document an approach to build an app. If you have an idea, this post outlines a path to build it.

It contains the knowledge I've gained in the last 5 years as a Product Manager in both startup and corporate environments.

It's a step-by-step guide I wish I had.

This post is intended for all levels of experience and professional backgrounds. No esoteric knowledge required.

Reading this post will be like plugging into the Matrix and uploading the "Build an App" program into your brain.

Topics include:

  • Thinking about your idea
  • Mindset
  • Mockups
  • User Stories
  • Project managing a development team

Throughout I'll provide examples from Bechant, an app two friends and I recently launched. Bechant is a tool that will email you a random selection of your Kindle Highlights.

If you have an idea or a desire to build a product, this post documents one way to do it.

Plug in.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Contents

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Section A: Philosophical

Idea Part 1. (Visualize)
Idea Part 2. (A job to do)
Idea Part 3. (Excel test)
Idea Part 4. (Why build it?)

Mindset Part 1. (Be a minimalist)
Mindset Part 2. (Set your team up for success)

Section B: Practical

Mockups Part 1. (Introduction)
Mockups Part 2. (The good enough MVP approach)
Mockups Part 3. (How to: drawing approach)
Mockups Part 4. (How to: software approach)

Development Part 1. (Getting started)
Development Part 2. (Tech stack 101)
Development Part 3. (Tech stack 201)
Development Part 4. (The User Story)
Development Part 5. (Essential features for launch)
Development Part 6. (Project management)
Development Part 7. (Testing aka QA aka UAT)
Development Part 8. (Release to production)

Launch

Contact Me

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Section A: Philosophical

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Idea Part 1. (Visualize) top

Disclaimer: no amount of visualization and research can guarantee the success of your idea. You'll only know if you built something users want after you release your app.

BUT you must invest time to evaluate and refine your idea before you build it.

More time than you think.

Let me set the stage.

When you identify a problem and come up with an interesting solution, you lose objectivity. Your internal dialogue is overcome by observations that mostly reaffirm your idea. You think: it's a great idea, people need this to exist. Why wouldn't they use it?

You visualize a merry world where your product exists and users are using it. Yet you do not visualize the step between releasing your product and getting users.

What happens at that step? Where did all those users come from?

Say you just launched your app Turtbnb. It's Airbnb for turtles. Are users going to open the App store, know to search for "Turtbnb", download the app, sign up for an account, and become active users?

Your answer may be a resounding "YES"! Yet this optimism is not driven by logic or research, but by your fresh excitement from the novelty of the idea.

Move past your excitement and get to a state where you can evaluate your idea objectively.

Consider two mindsets. The idea phase and the experience phase.

The idea phase mindset lacks objectivity. It's the "this idea can't fail" phase. You don't understand or acknowledge the ways the idea can fail.

Here is something someone in the idea phase may say:

Users will search "Airbnb for turtles" in the App store and will download my app. Word of mouth is how I'll get thousands of users.

The experience phase mindset typically surfaces after you launch your product and have tried to acquire users. It's the "the idea didn't work because of..." phase. You've learned the reasons users didn't adopt your product and they make sense to you because you've gone through the experience of failing.

Here is something someone in the experience phase may say:

My target users don't search "Airbnb for turtles" or "Turtbnb" in the App store. They search and download Airbnb instead.

Why must you launch your app before some of the reasons it failed make sense? Do you need to go through 6 months of development to reach the experience phase? To learn those lessons?

Try to visualize today what you think you will learn six months from now. Where will you succeed? Where will you fail?

How does this visualization reshape your idea?

>>>>>>>

Idea Part 2. (A job to do) top

Your idea should solve a problem. A real problem.

Read this post for additional detail.

The takeaway:

When we buy a product, we essentially “hire” it to help us do a job. If it does the job well, the next time we’re confronted with the same job, we tend to hire that product again. And if it does a crummy job, we “fire” it and look for an alternative.

What job will your app be hired to do?

>>>>>>>

Idea Part 3. (Excel test) top

Does your idea pass the "Excel" test?

Could I use an already existing product to solve the problem your product solves?

Say your idea is a tool that keeps track of my digital subscriptions (HBO NOW, Amazon Prime, etc.) and when they renew.

Am I more likely to A: take time out of my day to Google search for your tool, find it on the first results page, click the link, sign up for an account, and upload my data? B: create a spreadsheet. Or C: do nothing because I get email alerts when my subscriptions renew.

What is my level of motivation and pain to look for and discover your tool versus repurposing a product I already have.

>>>>>>>

Idea Part 4. (Why build it?) top

You should build this product because you need it.

Your idea solves a problem you have.

If a sufficient product already existed, you would use it instead of building your own.

But it does not exist so you'll build it.

You're creating something you will use.

Read Paul Graham's "How to get Startup Ideas" essay for more on this.

>>>>>>>

Mindset Part 1. (Be a minimalist) top

Be a minimalist.

You'll need to make a lot of decisions while building your app. Having a minimalist mindset will keep the process flowing.

You have a product idea but no guarantee that users need it. Worst-case scenario is you invest time and money to build a feature rich product, launch it, and get zero users.

To avoid this pitfall strive to launch your product to real users as quickly as possible.

To launch as quickly as possible, be a minimalist. Determine the absolute minimum you need to create so that you can test your idea with users.

Eric Reis in his book "Lean Startup" popularized the acronym "MVP". Minimum viable product. The MVP of your idea is the simplest iteration of your product that users can use.

For example Product Hunt started as an email newsletter. The founder manually added subscribers to the email list and sent out each newsletter. The email newsletter was the MVP of the idea. It allowed the founder to gather a user base and validate the idea before investing time and money to build the product you see today.

What's the MVP of your idea?

What is the minimum that you need in order to test your idea with users? The first version of your app doesn't need to be perfect. Does the first version even need to be an app?

Strive to build as little as needed. Be a minimalist.

Reid Hoffman founder of LinkedIn offers this MVP advice:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

>>>>>>>

Mindset Part 2. (Set your team up for success) top

It's your responsibility to ensure your team succeeds. How?

Set your team up for success.

Visualize yourself in the situation of the person doing a task. For example a developer writing code for a feature in the app.

Do they have all the information they need? Are the requirements clear? What challenges may they face?

By putting yourself in "their shoes" you'll be better equipped to anticipate roadblocks.

Avoid ambiguity. Ambiguity leads to miscommunication, frustration and delays.

To avoid ambiguity be explicit in your communication.

Don't assume your teammate knows what you know. Don't assume the task being worked on will be completed exactly to your expectations. If necessary, put in the extra effort to over-communicate to avoid ambiguity.

When challenges arise, focus on implementing processes to avoid repeating such problems. Focus on the remedy instead of a person to blame.

As an aside, if miscommunication does occur the remedy is two questions:

  1. What was the intended result?
  2. What actually happened?

Do whatever is needed to ensure your team builds the right product.

No task is beneath you. If no one is taking meeting notes, take notes. Follow up on things that need follow ups so that your team can succeed.

Do whatever is needed to ensure your team's success.

You'll know what will be needed. Your actions on those needs will correlate to your team's success.

And embrace that it's always your fault.

If you're part of a team or a process and something went wrong, of course it's also your fault. You could have looked harder. You could have raised your doubts. You could have double checked.

Set your team up for success.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Section B: Practical

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Mockups Part 1. (Introduction) top

Mockups (aka sketches, prototypes, wireframes, storyboards) are pictures of the screens in your app.

Here is a mockup from Bechant:

02-Bechant-Balsamiq

You (as the product lead) should create the initial mockups. Doing so will help you think through the idea and how it will work. It will help answer fundamental questions such as what are the core features? How will users navigate from one screen to another? What will they see when they first log in?

Mockups are the first step to shift your idea to something tangible. They should be created before development begins.

Mockups can be used in various ways. To gather feedback from users so that you can affirm that you're building something they want. To be shared with a designer who'll use them as reference to create professional mockups. Or shared with a developer so that they know what needs to be built.

You don't have to be a designer to create mockups. Visualize yourself using the app and draw out what you see. It's your idea, draw it based on how you want it to function.

Jeff Bezos (Founder/CEO of Amazon) in his letter to shareholders offered this wisdom:

A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste.

Heart.

Intuition.

Curiosity.

Play.

Guts.

Taste.

Keep these nouns top-of-mind when creating your mockups.

>>>>>>>

Mockups Part 2. (The good enough MVP approach) top

The MVP approach with mockups is to focus on the app's core functionality. What will the login page look like? Where will the user go after they log in? What buttons will they see?

The goal is to create a basic outline of your app. Each image depicts a screen in the app, such as "login screen", "user profile screen", "logout screen", etc.

Focus on critical features that must be in the first version of your app. Don't overthink design nuances. For example think more about the buttons you will need instead of what color they will be.

Take a "good enough" approach and move on.

If a section of your app contains a button, but you don't know what label the button will have, just label it "Button" or "This button goes to user profile".

03-Buttons

If the button is going to be blue, don't lose time determining what shade of blue looks best. Set a generic blue and refine it later.

04-Buttons-Blue

If the mockup conveys the purpose of the screen, it's good enough.

Here is a sketch of the primary page users see after logging in to Bechant:

01-Bechant-HandDrawn

Here is mockup version 2 of this page:

02-Bechant-Balsamiq

And this is the live page on Bechant:

05-Bechant-Live

The live product may not look exactly like your mockups. This is OK.

In the above examples the last image includes the key elements of the previous mockups. Figuring out the key elements is your objective when creating MVP mockups.

>>>>>>>

Mockups Part 3. (How to: drawing approach) top

Here is a step-by-step guide to create your mockups. Adjust to your needs.

Start with a notebook and a pencil.

Draw a rectangle in the shape of an iPhone. It represents a blank mobile screen.

Determine the function of this screen. For example it's the landing screen (the first screen users see when they open your app).

Draw the elements (placeholder text, buttons, input fields) that will appear on this screen. Keep it simple. If an area is going to have a tagline or marketing text, you don't need the exact text at this moment. Draw a box and label it "marketing text".

06-Mockups-HandDrawn

Your goal is to determine the elements each screen needs. Specifics (such as button labels and marketing text) can be determined later.

Draw another rectangle and determine the function of this screen. For example it's the first screen a user will see after they log in. Draw the elements on this screen.

Add additional screens until you have a complete set.

Take a photo of each screen and upload them to Invision. Invision is an app prototyping tool. Use it to "connect" your screens and make your mockups interactive. (Invision calls this adding "hot spots").

Here is an example I created.

Visit Invision's documentation for detailed examples on how to use the tool.

Without writing any code you now have an interactive prototype that you can share with prospective users or your development team.

>>>>>>>

Mockups Part 4. (How to: software approach) top

In this approach use software to create your mockups instead of hand drawing them.

If you're on a PC I recommend Balsamiq.

If you're on a Mac I recommend Sketch or Balsamiq.

As described in part 3, start with an empty rectangle and add elements based on the function of the screen.

Here are examples of screens for Bechant I created using Balsamiq.

02-create-new-account

07-left-hand-nav

09-how-to-guide

I added each image to Invision and created this interactive prototype.

Once you have a prototype you are happy with, you are ready for the development stage.

If you'd like additional detail on creating mockups check out my post on building a prototype.

>>>>>>>

Development Part 1. (Getting started) top

Development is writing the code that will make your application work. It includes "QA" (quality assurance) testing and launching your application to a live (production) environment.

Clear communication and a detailed development plan will save time and ensure the development team builds the product you are envisioning.

If you prefer to learn to code and build the first version on your own, dig into this post for a sense of what that entails.

I recommend exposing yourself to web programming basics so that development isn't a black box. By basics I suggest learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Codecademy courses are excellent for beginners. Start with these two:

If you prefer books start with these:

Having familiarity with web technologies will elevate your confidence and increase your empathy when working with the development team.

>>>>>>>

Development Part 2. (Tech stack 101) top

Your technology ("tech") stack are the components that comprise your app. Like the engine, tires, and body frame components of a car, each serves a specific function.

For a web application start with a domain name and a host.

The domain name is the link to your site. For example Bechant.com or ForwardShapes.com. You will need to find and register a domain using a solution such as Google Domains.

You will also need a host. A host is a server (aka computer) that "hosts" the code for your app. When someone navigates to your domain (such as Bechant.com), the host sends back the app code to your web browser. Your web browser interprets the code and displays the contents of the app.

There are hundreds of companies that provide hosting services. Things to consider when selecting one:

  • Supported technologies
    • For example, if your app is built using Microsoft's .NET technology you need to find a host whose server supports this technology (different hosts support different technologies such .NET, Python, NodeJS, etc.).
  • Reliability
    • Also known as "uptime" - you don't want to be worried about your app being unavailable because the host is having server problems. This wont be an issue if you pick a popular host.
  • Price
    • A reliable host can cost $10-$15 a month.
  • Support
  • Security

Here are some popular and well known hosts: Heroku, Bluehost, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

>>>>>>>

Development Part 3. (Tech stack 201) top

A basic web application has three components: a domain, a host that stores the app code, and a database for storing user data.

Your tech stack will be determined by your budget, time frame and application needs. Furthermore, you must determine what your team will build in-house versus using a 3rd party solution. This decision depends on several factors including time, cost, and how much flexibility/customization the 3rd party solution offers.

Let's go through the tech stack for Bechant.

Domain registrar: Google Domains.

Hosting and Database: Firebase.

Firebase is a mobile and web application development tool. All the code that creates what you see on Bechant is hosted (stored) on Firebase.

Firebase includes our database, which stores Kindle Highlight files users upload.

Before beginning development we decided that we would not spend time building our own database solution. Our core product feature is the Kindle highlights email. The database is an accessory that just needs "to work" without much customization. Therefore we decided to use a packaged database solution instead of building our own.

Email Service: Mailgun.

Mailgun is a tool that allows you to send customized emails in bulk. All Bechant emails that contain Kindle Highlights are sent by Mailgun.

Instead of building our own email sending tool from scratch, we were compelled by the reliability, pricing and ease of use of Mailgun. After creating an account and adding a few lines of code, we were able to start sending emails to users.

Additional hosting: Heroku.

Bechant sends users three emails per week with their Kindle highlights.

For this to happen a Node.js script on Heroku is scheduled to run Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 AM EST. This script communicates with Firebase and retrieves user emails and Kindle Highlights. It then creates an email for each user and sends the data to Mailgun, which then sends one email to each user.

Server logging: Papertrail.

This service provides activity logs of our servers. This is primarily for the development team so that they can troubleshoot any issues (such as users not receiving emails) that may arise.

Web traffic data: Google Analytics.

Used to collect anonymous data regarding how many users are visiting Bechant and the pages they are viewing (including time spent on specific pages).

Visual look of Bechant: Material-UI.

This is a user interface (UI) framework that provides pre-made components for creating user interfaces. For example the buttons you see on Bechant are created by Material-UI. We just customized the color.

Material-UI makes our app "responsive". This means the app will automatically resize depending on the size of the device. For example if you're viewing Bechant on an iPhone or iPad, all visual components will "respond" and shift to accommodate the different screen sizes. This allows us to have one codebase that supports any device and screen size.

>>>>>>>

Development Part 4. (The User Story) top

In a perfect world you send the development team a link to your mockups and they produce a bug free product that works exactly as you envisioned.

Reality is much more complicated.

As a developer writes code they may come across "ambiguous product situations". They are not sure how the product should behave.

For example say your application allows the user to upload a profile picture. What if the user tries to upload an Excel Spreadsheet file? What if the file is 1 kilobyte or 100 megabytes? How should the application behave? Should it display an error message? What does the error message say? What buttons are in the error message? Should you even have buttons? Are we sure we need an error message?

Ambiguous product situations are disruptive. Think of a developer as being on a Maker's Schedule.

There's another way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.

When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.

Two things disrupt a developer: meetings and ambiguous product situations. Instead of focusing on writing code the developer is thinking about what they should be building.

Strive to optimize a developer's time so that they can focus on building. Minimize ambiguous product situations.

The User Story is a tool to overcome ambiguous product situations.

A User Story defines how a feature works. It explains WHAT should be built so that a developer can focus on the HOW.

The how is referred to as "implementation details". It's specific to the development tasks and code strategy. Exclude implementation details from your User Story.

A User Story should focus on a specific feature. Split a large feature into multiple User Stories. This makes the work manageable for the developer and the QA tester.

Here is a User Story template:

Story Title: My Story

Description: As a user I'd like to be able to do something.

Preconditions

1.

2.

Postconditions

1.

2.

Here is a User Story I wrote for Bechant:

Story Title: Highlights Collection page displays uploaded files

As a user I'd like to see a list of all files I have uploaded.

Preconditions

1. User is logged in and navigates to bechant.com/username

2. User has uploaded at least 1 file

Postconditions

1. User presented with "Highlights Collection" page (see mockup)

2. Table contains rows containing names of uploaded XML file(s)

2a. Exclude .XML extension from file name

2b. If long file name, extend name to second line (do not cut off file name or add ellipsis)

2c. Each row is numbered (first row number = 01)

3. Table should display all files that user has uploaded

The Story Title encapsulates what the story is about.

The Description is a sentence or two that describe the purpose of the story. It can be written from the perspective of the user.

Start a Description with one of the following:

  • As a user I'd like to...
  • The purpose of this story is to...

The Preconditions set the scene for your story.

What situation is the user in? Did they just click a button that brought them to a specific page? Did they upload a non ".JPEG" file that is 100 megabytes for their avatar?

Set the scene.

The Postconditions outline how the feature should behave.

They are bullet points and don't have to be complete sentences.

They are testable. They will be a checklist of everything to test when you are reviewing the feature. Once all Postconditions pass testing the feature is ready for release to production.

They are broad, yet specific. For example this Postcondition gives the developer a specific goal to reach:

Results appear in under 1 second

Postconditions provide clarity on how a feature should work. What is clarity? It's enough detail so that if you were the developer, you would know what needs to be built.

Be explicit in your Postconditions. Eliminate ambiguity. The more thorough your Postconditions, the more likely the feature will be built to your vision. Overly broad Postconditions leave room for interpretation and more points of failure.

If you have over 10 Postconditions (not counting sub-conditions), consider splitting them into multiple User Stories.

Here is another User Story from Bechant:

Story Title: Delete a file

As a user I'd like to be able to delete any file that I have uploaded to Bechant.

Preconditions
1. User opens Highlights Collection
2. User clicks on checkbox next to a file

Postconditions
1. Display action menu at the top of table (use Material-UI `app bar`)
1a. Color of App Bar should be: `rgb(97, 100, 137)`
2. App bar has `X` icon to dismiss the selection (clicking the X closes the app bar and un-selects the checked item in the table) - use Material UI close asset (https://material.io/icons/#ic_close)
3. Add link to `DELETE` (see Design-Inspiration)
4. Tapping on `DELETE` generates Material-UI `Dialog` element
4a. Use `Simple Dialog`
4b. Dialog Header text: `Delete file(s)`
4c. Dialog Body text: `This will permanently delete your file(s).`
4d. Dialog Buttons: [Cancel] & [Delete]
5. If user taps [Delete] permanently delete the files from Google Storage
6. Highlights Collection table should automatically refresh and no longer list the deleted file

Here is this story on our development board:

07-Trello2

If you're new to User Stories start by writing several drafts for one feature.

Share these drafts with your development team. Collect feedback and revise the User Story until it's deemed optimal by the team. Your goal is to find the writing style that results in a clear and useful User Story for your team. This exercise will also help you discover how much detail the team needs in the User Stories.

Remember the reason for the User Story: to avoid ambiguous product situations.

If your User Story satisfies this condition, it's good to go!

>>>>>>>

Development Part 5. (Essential features for launch) top

Recall the Reid Hoffman quote mentioned in Mindset Part 1:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

Put together a list of "must have" features for launch. This list can include features such as:

  • User login
  • Password reset
  • Share data with Twitter

Your list will be determined by what you deem essential for launching the MVP version of your product. You will likely need less features than you think.

Here is the list of User Stories I deemed essential for the first version of Bechant:

  1. User can create an account
  2. User can log in and log out
  3. User can reset password
  4. User can upload one or more highlight files as XML, CSV, or HTML
  5. Email users 3 digests containing Kindle Highlights per week
  6. Highlights Collection page displays users' uploaded files
  7. Highlights Collection empty state
  8. About, How To Guide, Contact, Privacy Policy, and Terms of Services pages
  9. Bechant.com is responsive and supports mobile devices
  10. Highlights Collection Footers to indicate email status

If I wanted to launch even faster, I could have cut the list to the following:

  1. User can create an account (I would manually create accounts for users and email them their username and password)
  2. User can log in and log out
  3. User can reset password (Users can email me and I will reset their passwords)
  4. User can upload one or more highlight file as a XML, CSV, or HTML
  5. Email users 3 digests containing Kindle Highlights per week
  6. Highlights Collection page displays users' uploaded files
  7. Highlights Collection empty state
  8. About, How To Guide, Contact, Privacy Policy and Terms of Services pages
  9. Bechant.com is responsive and supports mobile devices
  10. Highlights Collection Footers to indicate email status

When considering cutting features, adopt the mindset to "Do Things That Don't Scale".

Do something manually until it reaches a breaking point that a programmatic solution could fix.

For example manually resetting user passwords does not scale. I couldn't do it manually if Bechant had thousands of users. However I currently don't have the "problem" of having thousands of users that need to reset their passwords. So why build a feature that solves a problem that I currently don't have?

Solve the problem when it actually is a problem. Often the future problem you're concerned about solving now so "you're ready for it" won't manifest.

Throughout the development process continue to re-evaluate essential versus non-essential product features.

Re-evaluate your Postconditions and cut them as well.

This will simplify your product and allow you to launch quicker.

>>>>>>>

Development Part 6. (Project management) top

At this stage you should have a complete set of essential User Stories and mockups. After development completes these Use Stories, your product will be ready for launch.

There is a system for tracking and managing the development process. It provides full transparency to the team as to what work is pending, in progress, and complete.

The system is a development board like this:

09-Trello3

This development board is created on Trello.

Each card is a User Story. Each card has a:

  • Title (Story Title)
  • Description (Story description, preconditions, postconditions)
  • Attachments (Mockups)
  • Comments (For discussions and updates around this User Story)

10-Trello4

The "status" of each card is based on the list (column) it's in. Your development board should have these five lists:

  1. For Launch
  2. In Development
  3. Development Complete
  4. Closed
  5. Backlog

For Launch is the "to do" list. On day one of development this list will contain all cards that need to be completed so that the product can be launched. It's the "must have" User Stories list.

Once a developer begins working on a card, they should move it to the In Development list. If a developer is writing any code for a card, that card should be in the In Development list.

Once a developer finishes writing code for a card, they move the card to the Development Complete list. This means the card is ready for testing.

After testing there are one of two outcomes. If the card does not pass testing, changes to the code need to be made. Thus the card should be moved back to the In Development list.

If the card passes testing, it is ready to be released to production. This means development work on this card is complete and it can be moved to the Closed list.

During the development process new feature ideas will surface. This can include development optimizations to your Closed User Stories, or new ideas for features to add. These ideas should be added to the Backlog list.

The Backlog list is a collection of all future "to dos". Development does not begin work on any card in the Backlog until it's moved to the For Launch list. Cards in the Backlog do not need to be fully written User Stories with pre and postconditions and mockups. They can be placeholders containing ideas or tasks to be done in the future.

You should have a compelling reason for moving a card from the Backlog to the For Launch list.

For example during the development process of Bechant we were going to support only XML Kindle Highlight files. But new information surfaced during the development process. We realized we should also support HTML and CSV files. Thus support for these file types became a card (User Story) that was moved from the Backlog to the For Launch list.

Be disciplined about which cards you move from the Backlog to For Launch. Your goal is to launch as quickly as possible. Thus consider the risk of delaying launch versus the added value this additional feature will bring.

If the value outweighs the risk, move the card to the For Launch list.

>>>>>>>

Development Part 7. (Testing aka QA aka UAT) top

When a User Story reaches the Development Complete stage, it's ready for testing. This is referred to as Quality Assurance (QA) or User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

It's essentially testing the User Story and how it performs with the application. Once the story passes testing, it can be released to production (to real users).

There isn't a "right way" to perform testing. Here is one approach.

Say we are testing the story:

As a user I'd like to be able to delete any file that I have uploaded to Bechant.

Start by performing the Preconditions. Set the stage.

1. User opens Highlights Collection
2. User clicks on checkbox next to a file

Now test each Postcondition:

1. Display action menu at the top of table (use Material-UI `app bar`)
1a. Color of App Bar should be: `rgb(97, 100, 137)`
2. App bar has `X` icon to dismiss the selection (clicking the X closes the app bar and un-selects the checked item in the table) - use Material UI close asset (https://material.io/icons/#ic_close)
3. Add link to `DELETE` (see Design-Inspiration)
4. Tapping on `DELETE` generates Material-UI `Dialog` element
4a. Use `Simple Dialog`
4b. Dialog Header text: `Delete file(s)`
4c. Dialog Body text: `This will permanently delete your file(s).`
4d. Dialog Buttons: [Cancel] & [Delete]
5. If user taps [Delete] permanently delete the files from Google Storage
6. Highlights Collection table should automatically refresh and no longer list the deleted file

Each Postcondition should either Pass or Fail.

If a Postcondition fails, decide if it's a "showstopper" failure or if it's a "fix later" failure.

For example say Postcondition #6 failed. After deleting a file the user has to manually refresh the browser in order for the file to disappear from the page. You must decide if this failure warrants sending the story back to In Development or if it can be Backlogged and fixed at a later date.

You should do some exploratory testing.

Try to "break" the application with edge cases. For example what if I refresh my web browser the moment after clicking the Delete button? Am I able to simultaneously click both the Cancel and Delete buttons?

See what happens when you perform actions that don't align with how this feature should be used. There is a difference between how you expect a user to use a feature versus how they actually use it. These are "edge cases". Try to recreate certain edge cases and see how your application performs.

>>>>>>>

Development Part 8. (Release to production) top

Once you complete testing of a User Story and have deemed it a Pass, the card can be moved to the Closed list.

The User Story is ready to be released to production. This involves sending a copy of the code from the "development branch" to the "production branch".

The development branch is the sandbox/staging environment where new code is written for your application. It's only accessible to the internal team. Real users cannot access it.

Once a User Story passes testing, it's ready to be sent to the "production branch". This is the branch that has code that runs when real users access your application.

After a User Story is released to production, you should perform some light "sanity" testing in order to confirm that the feature is behaving as expected on the live app.

If all works as expected remember to congratulate your team on another successful release!

>>>>>>>

Launch top

Congratulations - you are among the few that not only had an idea, but built it.

You wanted this product to exist in the world and now it does.

For your first set of users I recommend friends and family. They will be much more forgiving to the unforeseen glitches that come with a first version. Plus their feedback may lead to valuable enhancements that will improve the experience for future users.

So how do you get users?

If only I or someone had the "right" answer...

It's a combination of timing, luck, market-product fit, and more luck.

You built a product for a certain type of person. A certain profile. Where do people that meet this profile hang out? What do they read? What are their habits? Your challenge is to figure all of that out and to place your product there.

Jason Calacanis summed it up in two words:

Be everywhere.

There is no right way to do it. There is just your way. This post is part of my marketing strategy for Bechant. My strategy is to have you discover Bechant through a post that may provide you with more value than the product I'm promoting.

As a favor please share this post or Bechant with someone who may dig it.

Remember you're building a product because you believe in it's value. You believe that it's needed.

Share it with the world.

Good luck!

>>>>>>>

Contact Me top

A big thank you for reading this post. I sincerely hope it was helpful!

Did reading this post help you build your product? Tell me about it!

Did I miss something that you wished was covered?

General feedback?

Send me a note at andrei@forwardshapes.com

Last week Snap Inc. (aka Snapchat) released their Form S-1. This SEC filing contains business and financial information about the company. It's typically filed prior to a company going public.

I was curious to read how Snap Inc. described their business in the S-1. Are they a software company that makes Snapchat? Are they an advertising platform? Where do Spectacles fit in the company vision?

I found the answers (and more) in the "Management's discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations" section:

Snap Inc. is a camera company.

We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way that people live and communicate. Our products empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.

Our flagship product, Snapchat, is a camera application that was created to help people communicate through short videos and images. We call each of those short videos or images a Snap. On average, 158 million people use Snapchat daily, and over 2.5 billion Snaps are created every day. On average, our users visit Snapchat more than 18 times per day, and spend 25 to 30 minutes on Snapchat every day.

Our strategy is to focus on innovation and take risks to improve our products. We do this in an effort to drive daily user engagement, which we can then monetize through advertising. We often create new technologies and high engagement products that often require high-end mobile devices and high-speed cellular internet, and consequently the majority of our users come from developed markets. Global advertising spend—especially mobile advertising spend—is extremely concentrated among a few countries, and our advertising business has benefitted greatly from our strong penetration in these countries. This means that we can scale our business in markets where we have the highest revenue per user and capital efficiency, which in turn generates cash flow that we will invest into future product innovation.

For a discussion of the key opportunities and challenges we face in growing our business, see “—Factors Impacting our Business.”

We are headquartered in Venice, California, and have several offices around the world.


Reading Snap Inc.'s S-1 piqued my interest to explore other tech giants that had IPO'd. I was interested to learn how these companies described their businesses in their S-1, and to contrast that with how they describe their businesses today (in their most recent 10-K).

I looked at filings from these seven companies:

  1. Amazon
  2. Apple
  3. Google (Alphabet Inc.)
  4. Facebook
  5. Microsoft
  6. Tesla
  7. Twitter

The passages below were pulled from either the "Management's discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations" section or the "Business Overview" section in the linked documents.


Amazon

Form S-1 (March 24, 1997)

Amazon.com is the leading online retailer of books. The Company also sells a smaller number of CDs, videotapes and audiotapes. All these products are sold through the Company's Web site.

The Company was incorporated in July 1994 and commenced offering products for sale on its Web site in July 1995. For the period from inception through July 1995, the Company had no sales and its operating activities related primarily to the development of the necessary computer infrastructure and initial planning and development of the Amazon.com site and operations. Operating expenses in 1994 were minimal. For the period beginning with the opening of the Amazon.com bookstore in July 1995 through December 31, 1995, the Company continued the foregoing activities and also focused on building sales momentum, establishing vendor relationships, marketing the Amazon.com brand and establishing fulfillment and customer service operations. The Company's cost of sales and operating expenses have increased significantly since the Company's inception. This trend reflects the costs associated with the formation of the Company, as well as increased efforts to promote the Amazon.com brand, build market awareness, attract new customers, recruit personnel, build operating infrastructure, and develop the Company's Web site and associated transaction-processing systems.

The Company has a limited operating history on which to base an evaluation of its business and prospects. The Company's prospects must be considered in light of the risks, expenses and difficulties frequently encountered by companies in their early stage of development, particularly companies in new and rapidly evolving markets such as online commerce. Such risks for the Company include, but are not limited to, an evolving and unpredictable business model and management of growth. To address these risks, the Company must, among other things, maintain and increase its customer base, implement and successfully execute its business and marketing strategy, continue to develop and upgrade its technology and transaction-processing systems, improve its Web site, provide superior customer service and order fulfillment, respond to competitive developments, and attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel. There can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in addressing such risks, and the failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on the Company's business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

Since inception, the Company has incurred significant losses, and as of December 31, 1996 had an accumulated deficit of $6.0 million. The Company believes that its success will depend in large part on its ability to (i) extend its brand position, (ii) provide its customers with outstanding value and a superior shopping experience, and (iii) achieve sufficient sales volume to realize economies of scale. Accordingly, the Company intends to invest heavily in marketing and promotion, site development, and technology and operating infrastructure development. The Company also intends to offer attractive pricing programs, which will reduce its gross margins. Because the Company has relatively low product gross margins, achieving profitability given planned investment levels depends upon the Company's ability to generate and sustain substantially increased revenue levels. As a result, the Company believes that it will incur substantial operating losses for the foreseeable future, and that the rate at which such losses will be incurred will increase significantly from current levels. Although the Company has experienced significant revenue growth in recent periods, such growth rates are not sustainable and will decrease in the future. In view of the rapidly evolving nature of the Company's business and its limited operating history, the Company believes that period-to-period comparisons of its operating results are not necessarily meaningful and should not be relied upon as an indication of future performance.

10-K Annual Report (April 6, 2016)

Our primary source of revenue is the sale of a wide range of products and services to customers. The products offered on our consumer-facing websites primarily include merchandise and content we have purchased for resale from vendors and those offered by third-party sellers, and we also manufacture and sell electronic devices. Generally, we recognize gross revenue from items we sell from our inventory as product sales and recognize our net share of revenue of items sold by third-party sellers as service sales. We also offer other services such as compute, storage, and database offerings, fulfillment, publishing, digital content subscriptions, advertising, and co-branded credit cards.

Our financial focus is on long-term, sustainable growth in free cash flows1 per share. Free cash flows are driven primarily by increasing operating income and efficiently managing working capital2 and cash capital expenditures, including our decision to purchase or lease property and equipment. Increases in operating income primarily result from increases in sales of products and services and efficiently managing our operating costs, partially offset by investments we make in longer-term strategic initiatives. To increase sales of products and services, we focus on improving all aspects of the customer experience, including lowering prices, improving availability, offering faster delivery and performance times, increasing selection, increasing product categories and service offerings, expanding product information, improving ease of use, improving reliability, and earning customer trust. We also seek to efficiently manage shareholder dilution while maintaining the flexibility to issue shares for strategic purposes, such as financings, acquisitions, and aligning employee compensation with shareholders’ interests. We utilize restricted stock units as our primary vehicle for equity compensation because we believe this compensation model aligns the long-term interests of our shareholders and employees. In measuring shareholder dilution, we include all vested and unvested stock awards outstanding, without regard to estimated forfeitures. Total shares outstanding plus outstanding stock awards were 490 million and 483 million as of December 31, 2015 and 2014.

We seek to reduce our variable costs per unit and work to leverage our fixed costs. Our variable costs include product and content costs, payment processing and related transaction costs, picking, packaging, and preparing orders for shipment, transportation, customer service support, costs necessary to run AWS, and a portion of our marketing costs. Our fixed costs include the costs necessary to run our technology infrastructure; to build, enhance, and add features to our websites and web services, our electronic devices, and digital offerings; and to build and optimize our fulfillment centers. Variable costs generally change directly with sales volume, while fixed costs generally are dependent on the timing of capacity needs, geographic expansion, category expansion, and other factors. To decrease our variable costs on a per unit basis and enable us to lower prices for customers, we seek to increase our direct sourcing, increase discounts from suppliers, and reduce defects in our processes. To minimize growth in fixed costs, we seek to improve process efficiencies and maintain a lean culture.

Because of our model we are able to turn our inventory quickly and have a cash-generating operating cycle3. On average, our high inventory velocity means we generally collect from consumers before our payments to suppliers come due. Inventory turnover4 was 8 for 2015 and 9 for 2014 and 2013. We expect variability in inventory turnover over time since it is affected by several factors, including our product mix, the mix of sales by us and by third-party sellers, our continuing focus on in-stock inventory availability and selection of product offerings, our investment in new geographies and product lines, and the extent to which we choose to utilize third-party fulfillment providers. Accounts payable days5 were 77, 73, and 74 for 2015, 2014, and 2013. We expect some variability in accounts payable days over time since they are affected by several factors, including the mix of product sales, the mix of sales by third-party sellers, the mix of suppliers, seasonality, and changes in payment terms over time, including the effect of balancing pricing and timing of payment terms with suppliers.

We expect spending in technology and content will increase over time as we add computer scientists, designers, software and hardware engineers, and merchandising employees. Our technology and content investment and capital spending projects often support a variety of product and service offerings due to geographic expansion and the cross-functionality of our systems and operations. We seek to invest efficiently in several areas of technology and content, including AWS, and expansion of new and existing product categories and service offerings, as well as in technology infrastructure to enhance the customer experience and improve our process efficiencies. We believe that advances in technology, specifically the speed and reduced cost of processing power and the advances of wireless connectivity, will continue to improve the consumer experience on the Internet and increase its ubiquity in people’s lives. To best take advantage of these continued advances in technology, we are investing in initiatives to build and deploy innovative and efficient software and electronic devices. We are also investing in AWS, which offers a broad set of global compute, storage, database, and other service offerings to developers and enterprises of all sizes.

Our financial reporting currency is the U.S. Dollar and changes in foreign exchange rates significantly affect our reported results and consolidated trends. For example, if the U.S. Dollar weakens year-over-year relative to currencies in our international locations, our consolidated net sales and operating expenses will be higher than if currencies had remained constant. Likewise, if the U.S. Dollar strengthens year-over-year relative to currencies in our international locations, our consolidated net sales and operating expenses will be lower than if currencies had remained constant. We believe that our increasing diversification beyond the U.S. economy through our growing international businesses benefits our shareholders over the long-term. We also believe it is useful to evaluate our operating results and growth rates before and after the effect of currency changes.

In addition, the remeasurement of our intercompany balances can result in significant gains and charges associated with the effect of movements in foreign currency exchange rates. Currency volatilities may continue, which may significantly impact (either positively or negatively) our reported results and consolidated trends and comparisons.


Apple

IPO Prospectus (December 12, 1980)

The Company designs, develops, produces, markets, and services microprocessor-based personal computer systems for individual use in a variety of computing applications. The Company's computer systems are generally composed of a computer mainframe and peripherals, operating software to control the system and applications software to solve problems. In addition, supplemental circuit boards and optional accessories can be added to enable the computer to perform additional or different tasks.

Computer systems powerful enough to solve meaningful computing problems but priced low enough to be used by one person resulted from significant technical and manufacturing advances within the semiconductor and magnetic memory industries over the past ten years. These advances included the development of increasingly powerful microprocessor and memory circuits and significant reductions in the cost of these circuits. Similar developments occurred in magnetic storage as costs per unit of storage declined and capacities increased both for floppy (flexible) and rigid disks.

These advances and the introduction of a growing number of applications software packages resulted in the development of markets and applications for personal computer systems. Penetration of these markets has and will continue to require effective product marketing and distribution as well as the continuing development of easy-to-use software.

In 1976, two of the Company's founders designed, developed and assembled the Apple I, a microprocessor-based computer consisting of a single· printed circuit board. In April 1977 the Company introduced the Apple II computer mainframe which was similar to the Apple I but incorporated additional circuitry and a keyboard, and was packaged in a plastic housing. Although many of the early personal computers, including Apple's products, were purchased by hobbyists who were highly knowledgeable technicians, the Company believes that such purchases currently constitute a small and decreasing percentage of personal computer sales. .

In 1978 and 1979, the Apple II was improved with the addition of a more powerful disk operating system which facilitated the use of optional floppy disk storage in place of less efficient cassette tape storage. These enhancements increased the power and speed of the Apple II and facilitated the development of applications software. Independent firms began supplying a variety of applications" software and peripheral equipment for use with the Apple II, for such applications as small business accounting, text editing, portfolio analysis, laboratory data collection and teac~ing. The development of this software and equipment contributed to the growth of the low-cost personal computer market by increasing the variety of applications for which personal computers could be used. Today, the Company's systems are used by persons without prior computer experience as well as by persons with prior computer experience in business, education, scientific and engineering applications and, to a lesser extent, in the home.

In anticipation of market growth, in 1977 Apple commenced the development of a distribution network of independent regional distributors and local retail outlets. In 1980, Apple terminated its arrangements with its domestic distributors and commenced distribution of its products directly to retail stores in order to improve the management of the channels of distribution and to gain better access to end-users. See "Marketing" and "Litigation". Apple products are currently sold through approximately 800 independent retail outlets in the United States and Canada and internationally through 21 distributors which resell to approximately 1,000 retail dealers. Products are serviced in the United States and in Canada by approximately 700 of the retail stores and internationally by retail dealers.

10-K Annual Report (October 26, 2016)

The Company designs, manufactures and markets mobile communication and media devices, personal computers and portable digital music players, and sells a variety of related software, services, accessories, networking solutions and third-party digital content and applications. The Company’s products and services include iPhone ® , iPad ® , Mac ® , iPod ® , Apple Watch ® , Apple TV ® , a portfolio of consumer and professional software applications, iOS, macOS™, watchOS ® and tvOS™ operating systems, iCloud ® , Apple Pay ® and a variety of accessory, service and support offerings. The Company sells and delivers digital content and applications through the iTunes Store ® , App Store ® , Mac App Store, TV App Store, iBooks Store™ and Apple Music ® (collectively “Internet Services”). The Company sells its products worldwide through its retail stores, online stores and direct sales force, as well as through third-party cellular network carriers, wholesalers, retailers and value-added resellers. In addition, the Company sells a variety of third-party Apple compatible products, including application software and various accessories through its retail and online stores. The Company sells to consumers, small and mid-sized businesses and education, enterprise and government customers.


Google (Alphabet Inc.)

Form S-1 (April 29, 2004)

Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Our innovations in web search and advertising have made our web site a top Internet destination and our brand one of the most recognized in the world. Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. We serve three primary constituencies:

Users. We provide users with products and services that enable people to more quickly and easily find, create and organize information that is useful to them.

Advertisers. We provide advertisers our Google AdWords program, an auction-based advertising program that enables them to deliver relevant ads targeted to search results or web content. Our AdWords program provides advertisers with a cost-effective way to deliver ads to customers across Google sites and through the Google Network.

Web sites. We provide members of our Google Network our Google AdSense program, which allows these members to deliver AdWords ads that are relevant to the search results or content on their web sites. We share most of the fees these ads generate with our Google Network members—creating an important revenue stream for them.

We were incorporated in California in September 1998 and reincorporated in Delaware in August 2003. We began licensing our WebSearch product in the first quarter of 1999. We became profitable in 2001 following the launch of our Google AdWords program.

10-K Annual Report (June 30, 2016)

As our founders Larry and Sergey wrote in the original founders' letter, "Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one." That unconventional spirit has been a driving force throughout our history -- inspiring us to do things like rethink the mobile device ecosystem with Android and map the world with Google Maps. As part of that, our founders also explained that you could expect us to make "smaller bets in areas that might seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses." From the start, the company has always strived to do more, and to do important and meaningful things with the resources we have.

Alphabet is a collection of businesses -- the largest of which, of course, is Google. It also includes businesses that are generally pretty far afield of our main Internet products such as Access, Calico, CapitalG, GV, Nest, Verily, Waymo, and X. We report all non-Google businesses collectively as Other Bets. Our Alphabet structure is about helping each of our businesses prosper through strong leaders and independence.

Access and technology for everyone: The Internet is one of the world’s most powerful equalizers, and we see it as our job to make it available to as many people as possible. At its core, Google has always been an information company. We believe that technology is a democratizing force, empowering people through information. We are helping people get online by tailoring hardware and software experiences that suit the needs of emerging markets, primarily through Android and Chrome. We're also making sure our core Google products are fast and useful, especially for users in areas where speed and connectivity are central concerns. Other Alphabet companies are also pursuing initiatives with similar goals.

Moonshots: Many companies get comfortable doing what they have always done, making only incremental changes. This incrementalism leads to irrelevance over time, especially in technology, where change tends to be revolutionary, not evolutionary. People thought we were crazy when we acquired YouTube and Android and when we launched Chrome, but those efforts have matured into major platforms for digital video and mobile devices and a safer, popular browser. We continue to look toward the future and continue to invest for the long-term. We won't become complacent, relying solely on small tweaks. As we said in the original founders' letter, we will not shy away from high-risk, high-reward projects that we believe in because they are the key to our long-term success.

The power of machine learning: Across the company, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are increasingly driving many of our latest innovations. Within Google, our investments in machine learning over a decade are what have enabled us to build Google products that get better over time, making them smarter and more useful -- it's what allows you to use your voice to search for information, to translate the web from one language to another, to see better YouTube recommendations, and to search for people and events that are important to you in Google Photos. Machine learning is also showing great promise in helping us tackle big issues, like dramatically improving the energy efficiency of our data centers. Across Other Bets, machine learning helps self-driving cars better detect and respond to others on the road, and can also aid clinicians in detecting diabetic retinopathy.

Google

Serving our users: We have always been a company committed to making big bets that have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people. As the majority of Alphabet’s big bets continue to reside within Google, an important benefit of the shift to Alphabet has been the tremendous focus that we’re able to have on Google’s many extraordinary opportunities. Our innovations in areas like search and advertising have made our services widely used, and our brand one of the most recognized in the world. We generate revenues primarily by delivering online advertising that consumers find relevant and that advertisers find cost-effective.

Google's core products such as Search, Android, Maps, Chrome, YouTube, Google Play, and Gmail each have over one billion monthly active users. But most important, we believe we are just beginning to scratch the surface. Our vision is to remain a place of incredible creativity and innovation that uses our technical expertise to tackle big problems.

Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful has always been our North Star, and our products have come a long way since the company was founded nearly two decades ago. We used to show just ten blue links in our results, which you had to click through to find your answers. Now we are increasingly able to provide direct answers -- even if you're speaking your question using Voice Search -- which makes it quicker, easier and more natural to find what you're looking for. We also introduced the Google Assistant, which allows you to type or talk with Google in a natural conversational way to help you get things done. Over time, we have also added other services that let you access information quickly and easily -- like Google Maps, which helps you navigate to a store while showing you current traffic conditions, or Google Photos, which helps you store and organize all of your photos.

This drive to make information more accessible has led us over the years to improve the discovery and creation of digital content, on the web and through platforms like Google Play and YouTube. And with the migration to mobile, people are consuming more digital content by watching more videos, playing more games, listening to more music, reading more books, and using more apps than ever before.

Fueling all of these great digital experiences are powerful platforms and hardware. That’s why we continue to invest in platforms like our Chrome browser, Android mobile operating system, Chrome operating system, and Daydream virtual reality platform, as well as a new family of great hardware devices like the Pixel phone and Google Home.

Google was a company built in the cloud and has been investing in infrastructure, data management, analytics, and AI from the very beginning. We’ve taken those long-term investments and offer many of the same cloud services to our enterprise customers. Because more and more of today’s great digital experiences are being built in the cloud, our enterprise cloud products help businesses of all sizes take advantage of the latest technology advances to operate more efficiently.


Facebook

Form S-1 (February 1, 2012)

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. Facebook enables you to express yourself and connect with the world around you instantly and freely.

We build products that support our mission by creating utility for users, developers, and advertisers:

Users. We enable people who use Facebook to stay connected with their friends and family, to discover what is going on in the world around them, and to share and express what matters to them to the people they care about.

Developers. We enable developers to use the Facebook Platform to build applications (apps) and websites that integrate with Facebook to reach our global network of users and to build products that are more personalized, social, and engaging.

Advertisers. We enable advertisers to engage with more than 800 million monthly active users (MAUs) on Facebook or subsets of our users based on information they have chosen to share with us such as their age, location, gender, or interests. We offer advertisers a unique combination of reach, relevance, social context, and engagement to enhance the value of their ads.

We generate substantially all of our revenue from advertising and from fees associated with our Payments infrastructure that enables users to purchase virtual and digital goods from our Platform developers. For the year ended December 31, 2011, we recorded revenue of $3,711 million, operating income of $1,756 million, and net income of $1,000 million. We were incorporated in July 2004 and are headquartered in Menlo Park, California.

10-K Annual Report (February 3, 2017)

Our mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

Our top priority is to build useful and engaging products that enable people to connect and share through mobile devices, personal computers, and other surfaces. We also help people discover and learn about what is going on in the world around them, enable people to share their opinions, ideas, photos and videos, and other activities with audiences ranging from their closest friends to the public at large, and stay connected everywhere by accessing our products, including:

Facebook. Facebook enables people to connect, share, discover, and communicate with each other on mobile devices and personal computers. There are a number of different ways to engage with people on Facebook, the most important of which is News Feed which displays an algorithmically-ranked series of stories and advertisements individualized for each person.

Instagram. Instagram enables people to take photos or videos, customize them with filter effects, and share them with friends and followers in a photo feed or send them directly to friends.

Messenger. Messenger allows for a rich and expressive way to communicate with people and businesses alike across a variety of platforms and devices, which makes it easy to reach almost everyone seamlessly and securely.

WhatsApp. WhatsApp Messenger is a fast, simple and reliable messaging application that is used by people around the world and is available on a variety of mobile platforms.

Oculus. Our Oculus virtual reality technology and content platform power products that allow people to enter a completely immersive and interactive environment to play games, consume content, and connect with others.

We generate substantially all of our revenue from selling advertising placements to marketers. Our ads let marketers reach people based on a variety of factors including age, gender, location, interests, and behaviors. Marketers purchase ads that can appear in multiple places including on Facebook, Instagram, and third-party applications and websites.

We are also investing in a number of longer-term initiatives, such as connectivity efforts and artificial intelligence research, to develop technologies that we believe will help us better serve our communities and pursue our mission to make the world more open and connected.


Microsoft

IPO Prospectus (March 13, 1986)

Microsoft designs, develops, markets, and supports a product line of systems and applications microcomputer software for business and professional use. The Microsoft Software Product Line chart inside the front cover of this Prospectus illustrates the evolution and diversity of the Company’s product line. Microsoft markets over 40 software products, including three operating systems, computer language products in six computer languages, and business applications software in the following categories: word processing, spreadsheet, file management, graphics, communications, and project management. The Company’s products are available on 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit microcomputers domestically and internationally, including IBM, Tandy, Apple (Macintosh and Apple II series), COMPAQ, Olivetti, AT&T, Zenith, Wang, Hewlett-Packard, DEC, Siemens, Philips, Mitsubishi, and NEC.

Microsoft MS-DOS, introduced in 1981 as a 16-bit operating system for Intel microprocessor architectures, is running on approximately four million IBM PC and IBM compatible microcomputers, according to industry publications. The Company believes that more of the widely used business applications programs run on Microsoft MS-DOS than on any other 16-bit microcomputer operating system. Microsoft XENIX, a UNIX-based multi-user 16-bit operating system for microcomputers, is designed to accommodate transaction oriented data processing tasks. The Company’s first product, Microsoft BASIC Interpreter, which was introduced in 1975, and newer versions of Microsoft BASIC Interpreter are running on an estimated eight million microcomputers, according to industry publications. The Company also markets compiler products in the following computer languages: BASIC, “C”, FORTRAN, COBOL, and Pascal, and machine language assembler products. Microsoft Word, a word processing program introduced in 1983, Microsoft Multiplan, an electronic spreadsheet introduced in 1982, and Microsoft Chart, a graphics product introduced in 1984, are business applications products which run on Microsoft MS-DOS-based computers and on the Apple Macintosh. Microsoft Excel, an integrated spreadsheet introduced in 1985, and Microsoft File, a file management product also introduced in 1985, run on the Apple Macintosh. Microsoft Access, a communications tool released in 1985, and Microsoft Project, a project management product introduced in 1984, are MS-DOS applications.

Microsoft develops most of its software products internally using proprietary development tools and methodology. As of December 31, 1985 the Company employed 271 persons in software product development.

Microsoft markets and distributes its software products domestically and internationally through both the OEM and retail channels. In the OEM channel Microsoft generally provides an OEM with master copies of the software and documentation and the OEM duplicates, packages, and distributes them, although there is increasing OEM marketing of Microsoft’s packaged language and applications products. The Company’s domestic OEM sales force of approximately 20 has an active technical and business information relationship with approximately 100 OEM customers. Domestic retail marketing involves the distribution of Microsoft’s packaged software products primarily through independent distributors, large volume dealers, corporate key dealers, and other dealers, and direct marketing to corporate customers, government agencies, and colleges and universities. International OEM and retail marketing and distribution of domestic and foreign language versions of the Company’s systems software and applications software are conducted through seven foreign subsidiaries and several independent sales representatives. International Operations maintains an active technical and business information relationship with approximately 80 OEM customers.

The Company also designs and markets Microsoft® Mouse pointing and editing devices. Microsoft Press has published 27 books since it commenced operations in 1983, including Running MS-DOS®, by Van Wolverton and The Peter Norton Programmer’s Guide to the IBM PC, by Peter Norton.

10-K Annual Report (July 28, 2016)

Microsoft is a technology company whose mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Our strategy is to build best-in-class platforms and productivity services for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. We develop, license, and support a wide range of software products, services, and devices that deliver new opportunities, greater convenience, and enhanced value to people’s lives.

We generate revenue by licensing and supporting an array of software products, by offering a wide range of services, including cloud-based services to consumers and businesses, by designing, manufacturing, and selling devices that integrate with our cloud-based services, and by delivering relevant online advertising to a global audience. Our most significant expenses are related to compensating employees; designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling our products and services; datacenter costs in support of our cloud-based services; and income taxes.

Much of our focus in fiscal year 2016 was toward transforming our organization to support our strategy of building best-in-class platforms and productivity services for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. We achieved product development milestones, implemented organizational changes, and made strategic and tactical moves to support the three central ambitions that support our strategy: reinventing productivity and business processes; building the intelligent cloud platform; and creating more personal computing.


Tesla

S-1 (January 29, 2010)

We design, manufacture and sell high-performance fully electric vehicles and advanced electric vehicle powertrain components. In addition to designing and manufacturing our vehicles, we sell and service them through our own sales and service network.

We were incorporated in Delaware in 2003 and introduced our first vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, in early 2008. In July 2009, we introduced a new Roadster model, the Tesla Roadster 2, and its higher performance option package Roadster Sport. As of December 31, 2009, we had sold 937 Tesla Roadsters to customers in 18 countries. We are developing our planned Model S sedan which we currently expect to introduce in 2012.

We market and sell our vehicles directly to consumers via the phone and internet, in-person at our corporate events and through our network of Tesla stores. We opened our first store in Los Angeles, California, in May 2008 and as of December 31, 2009, we operated a total of 10 Tesla stores in North America and Europe.

We have entered, and intend to enter, into development and commercial agreements with other manufacturers for the development and sale of electric powertrain components. From inception through September 30, 2009, our powertrain development activities related exclusively to an agreement entered into in May 2009 with Daimler AG, or Daimler, for the development of a battery pack and charger for Daimler’s Smart fortwo electric drive. We have been selected by Daimler to supply it with up to 1,000 battery packs and chargers to support a trial of the Smart fortwo electric drive in five European cities. We began shipping the first of these battery packs and chargers in November 2009 and started to recognize revenue for these sales in the quarter ended December 31, 2009.

Since inception through September 30, 2009, we have recognized $108.2 million in revenue. As of September 30, 2009, we had an accumulated deficit of $236.4 million. We experienced net losses of $30.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2006, $78.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2007, $82.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2008, and $31.5 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2009.

10-K Annual Report (February 24, 2016)

We design, develop, manufacture, and sell high-performance fully electric vehicles, and energy storage products. We are currently producing and selling our Model S sedan and our Model X sport utility vehicle. Since the introduction of Model S in June 2012, we have enhanced our vehicle offerings with all-wheel drive capability, autopilot options, and free over-the-air software updates. We commenced customer deliveries of our Model X in September 2015 and are currently ramping production. We have delivered over 107,000 vehicles through December 31, 2015. We intend to unveil Model 3, a lower priced sedan designed for the mass market, in the first quarter of 2016 and expect to commence production and deliveries of this vehicle in late 2017.

In addition to our automotive products, we recently announced the next generation of our energy storage products, the 7 kWh and 10 kWh Powerwall for residential applications and the 100 kWh Powerpack for commercial and industrial applications. We began production and deliveries of these products, which we will sell under the Tesla Energy brand, in the third quarter of 2015. We transitioned the production of these products from the Fremont Factory to the Gigafactory during Q4 2015.

Our primary source of revenue is from the sale of our vehicles. During the year ended December 31, 2015, we recognized total revenues of $4.05 billion, an increase of $847.7 million over total revenues of $3.20 billion for the year ended December 31, 2014, primarily driven by growth of Model S deliveries worldwide. Gross margin for the year ended December 31, 2015 was 22.8%, a decrease from 27.6% for the year ended December 31, 2014.

We continue to increase our sales and service footprint worldwide and expand our Supercharging and destination charging networks. With the continued global expansion of our customer support and Supercharger infrastructure, selling, general and administrative expenses were $922.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2015, compared to $603.7 million for the year ended December 30, 2014.


Twitter

Form S-1 (October 3, 2013)

Twitter is a global platform for public self-expression and conversation in real time. Our platform is unique in its simplicity: Tweets are limited to 140 characters of text. This constraint makes it easy for anyone to quickly create, distribute and discover content that is consistent across our platform and optimized for mobile devices. As a result, Tweets drive a high velocity of information exchange that makes Twitter uniquely “live.”

We have already achieved significant global scale, and we continue to grow. We have more than 215 million MAUs spanning nearly every country. Our users include millions of people from around the world, as well as influential individuals and organizations, such as world leaders, government officials, celebrities, athletes, journalists, sports teams, media outlets and brands. Our users create approximately 500 million Tweets every day.

The value we create for our users is enhanced by our platform partners and advertisers. Millions of platform partners, which include publishers, media outlets and developers, have integrated with Twitter, adding value to our user experience by contributing content to our platform, broadly distributing content from our platform across their properties and using Twitter content and tools to enhance their websites and applications. In addition, advertisers use our Promoted Products to promote their brands, products and services, amplify their visibility and reach, and complement and extend the conversation around their advertising campaigns. Although we do not generate revenue directly from users or platform partners, we benefit from network effects where more activity on Twitter results in the creation and distribution of more content, which attracts more users, platform partners and advertisers, resulting in a virtuous cycle of value creation.

We generate the substantial majority of our revenue from the sale of advertising services, with the balance coming from data licensing arrangements. We generate nearly all of our advertising revenue through the sale of our three Promoted Products: Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends. The substantial majority of our advertising revenue is generated on a pay-for-performance basis, which means advertisers are only charged when a user engages with their ad, creating an attractive value proposition for our advertisers.

We launched our first Promoted Products in mid-2010 in the United States by introducing Promoted Tweets in search results and Promoted Trends. Since that time, we have expanded our Promoted Products to add Promoted Accounts and extended our Promoted Products across our platform and to additional geographies. We generate advertising sales in the United States and certain other geographies through our direct sales force, as well as through our self-serve advertising platform.

We introduced Promoted Products on our iOS and Android mobile applications in February 2012. Over 65% of our advertising revenue was generated from mobile devices in the three months ended June 30, 2013.

Our international revenue was $53.0 million and $62.8 million in 2012 and the six months ended June 30, 2013, respectively, representing 17% and 25% of our total revenue for those periods, respectively. We launched Promoted Products in selected international markets in the third quarter of 2011, and we expect to continue to launch our Promoted Products in additional markets over time. We have recently focused our international spending on sales support and marketing activities in specific countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom. In certain international geographies where we have not invested to build a local sales force, we rely on resellers that serve as outside sales agents for the sale of our Promoted Products. In the six months ended June 30, 2013, we and our resellers sold our Promoted Products to advertisers in over 20 countries outside of the United States. We record advertising revenue based on the billing location of our advertisers, rather than the location of our users.

We are headquartered in San Francisco, California, and have offices in over 15 cities around the world.

10-K Annual Report (February 29, 2016)

Twitter gives everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers. Our service is live—live commentary, live connections, live conversations. Whether it is breaking news, entertainment, sports, or everyday topics, hearing about and watching a live event unfold is the fastest way to understand the power of Twitter. Twitter has always been considered a "second screen" for what is happening in the world and we believe we can become the first screen for everything that is happening now. And by doing so, we believe we can build the planet’s largest daily connected audience.

Our Users. We are committed to refining our core service to better enable people to more easily create, share and consume content that is important to them. As part of that strategy, we will be focusing on live streaming video, which we believe is a strong complement to the live nature of Twitter. We will also be working toward giving our creators and influencers better tools to build and connect with their fans and audience through Twitter. Finally, we intend to invest more resources in making our platform safer by implementing technology to better detect the use of repeat abusive accounts, making it simpler for our users to report multiple abusive Tweets or accounts, and giving people simpler tools to curate and control their experience on Twitter.

Our Advertisers . Our three main initiatives to improve our advertisers’ ability to connect with their customers are: (i) building a rich canvas for marketers by incorporating additional features such as video into our Promoted Products, (ii) increasing advertisers’ return on investment, or ROI, with improved measurement, bidding and relevance capabilities and (iii) increasing advertisers’ scale and reach by leveraging Twitter’s unique global audience.

Our Developers. We are committed to providing a platform for developers to build, grow, and generate revenue with their sites and apps. In turn, we believe that these sites and apps provide us with strategic value by enabling us to demonstrate the importance of Tweets and extend their reach beyond Twitter.

Advice is everywhere. Inspiring advice. Life-changing advice. Bad advice. It flows to the top of our Facebook feeds. It's in our email inboxes. It's the must watch  inspiring TED talk or YouTube graduation speech.

The challenge of access to information no longer exists. Everyone can now view that TED talk. Everyone can now hear that interview.

But a new challenge is introduced. What to do with all the information? You invest time to consume the information, and yet forget the message  a week later.

Recently I've  come across two inspiring conversations. A graduation speech by Parker Palmer and a Q&A with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both conversations have lessons that if implemented could have a profound impact on my daily life. Some takeaways from the Arnold Q&A:

  • Looking back on one thing he would have done more of back in late 20s: OK to be goal-oriented for personal achievements. But volunteer, give back to those less fortunate.
  • You can't be good at everything. Have to sacrifice certain things in order to achieve your biggest goals.
  • Life is about taking risks. Just go for it. Don't let thinking about failure deter you. Risk taking shouldn't be viewed as an oddity. It's just part of life.

The level of impact of such advice is determined by timing and your system for implementing it. The timing is linked your mental state. Does the message resonate strongly because of your current state? Would it have the same impact if you heard the same message at a different time?

The other aspect is the system you put in place to follow though. I know that if I don't write down these lessons, I'll forget them. And  even though I have the intention of trying to implement them, I'll come across more advice in the near future and I'll forget about these lessons. I have a system for collecting new information, but not a system for following through on existing information.

One approach is to take down the information, and review it everyday. Keep it top-of-mind. Then commit one or two weeks of practicing the lessons in my daily routine.

There is no lack great advice that we can all access. Getting the information is easy. But putting in systems to implement that information and to take action on it. That's the hard part.

2016 was a year of experiences. My second year in New York. My first year back at a startup. I got to see Sting and Peter Gabriel live, tried go cart racing and iMax Shift, took handstand lessons and got to hear the US Chief Data Scientist speak. I also traveled the most I've ever traveled in a single year, highlighted by a trip to Amsterdam and Cape Town South Africa.

In 2017 I aim to travel more. Launch some personal projects. Read. Refine my diet and exercise regiment. And continue to explore the great city of New York.

Here are some of my favorite things from 2016...

Books

Posts

Movies

Documentaries

Albums

NYC Places to eat/go

wjs posts

Several months ago I picked up a copy of "Perfect Health Diet" by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. The book focuses on optimizing  nutrition and diet by teaching what and how much you should eat. The authors argue that the right diet can be a potent catalyst for good health.

Reading the book I've realized that I lack a fundamental understanding of nutrients. What really is a protein and carbohydrate? What is a nutrient? This post contains my notes collected from various articles and Wikipedia.

Even if you don't read the book, I believe having a basic understanding of macronutrients is valuable. Because without them, you wouldn't be alive.


Basics

Nutrients are substances needed for growth and maintaining body functions.

Macronutrients are nutrients that provide energy (aka calories):

  • Macronutrients have specific roles in maintaining our body
  • Macronutrients contribute to taste, texture, and appearance of foods

There are 3 broad classes of macronutrients:

  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats

A molecule is two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds (they do not have an electrical charge)

A biomolecule (biological molecule), is a molecule that is present in living organisms (example of biomolecules: proteins, carbohydrates, fats)

Insulin is a hormone produced by body that regulates the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats


Proteins (4 calories/gram)

  1. Molecules consisting of smaller units called amino acids (building blocks of proteins)
  2. Present in every living cell
  3. Hold together, protect, and provide structure to our body
  4. Complex molecules, body needs time to break them down
  5. Provide:
    1. Slower and longer-lasting source of energy compared to carbohydrates
    2. Energy and growth
    3. Tissue repair, immune system function, hormone and enzyme production, muscle mass and tone
  6. To make the proteins that it needs (protein biosynthesis), the body needs proteins
  7. When eaten, proteins broken down into amino acids (dietary source of nitrogen)
  8. There are 20 amino acids
    1. Body can synthesize (production of chemical compounds by reaction from simpler materials) 11 amino acids from molecules within body
      1. This is done through de novo synthesis (from scratch): the synthesis of complex molecules from simple molecules
    2. 9 amino acids cannot be synthesized de novo by body and they must be provided by diet
      1. These 9 are called essential amino acids:
        1. histidine
        2. lysine
        3. isoleucine
        4. leucine
        5. methionine
        6. phenylalanine
        7. threonine
        8. tryptophan
        9. valine
  9. Proteins from animal sources are complete proteins because they contain all essential amino acids
  10. Proteins from plants, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables are called incomplete proteins because they lack one or more essential amino acids
  11. USDA (department agriculture) recommends adults eat 60 grams protein per day (0.8 per kg of weight)

Carbohydrates (4 calories/gram)

  1. Molecule consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms
    1. Carbohydrates are a synonym for saccharide, a group that includes 3 types:
      1. Sugars
        1. General name for short-chain, soluble carbohydrates
        2. Many types of sugars are used in food
        3. Table sugar = sucrose
      2. Starch
        1. Polymeric (large molecule composed of many repeated subunits) carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units
        2. Polysaccharide produced by most green plants as an energy store
        3. Most common carbohydrate (common in foods such as: potatoes, wheat, corn, rice)
        4. Has two components:
          1. Amylose (20-30% of weight)
            1. Polymer (large molecule) made of d-glucose units, bound by glycosidic bonds
            2. More resistant to digestion than other starch molecules
            3. Preferred starch for energy storage in plants
          2. Amylopectin (70-80% of weight)
            1. Highly branched polymer of glucose found in plants
            2. Soluble molecule that can be quickly degraded as it has many endpoints that an enzyme can attach to
      3. Cellulose
        1. Polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of many D-glucose units
    2. Saccharides are divided into four chemical groups
      1. Monosaccharide
      2. Disaccharides
      3. Oligosaccharides
      4. Polysaccharides
  2. Two major roles of carbohydrates:
    1. Primary energy source for body
    2. Source of calories to maintain body weight
  3. Involved in the construction of the body organs and nerve cells
  4. Body uses carbohydrates in the form of glucose and can quickly convert simple and complex carbohydrates into energy
    1. The body stores a small amount of excess carbohydrate as energy reserve
    2. The brain uses/needs glucose as an energy source, fat cannot be used for this purpose
  5. Glycogen, is a complex carbohydrate the body can easily and rapidly convert to energy
    1. Muscles store glycogen, which they use during periods of intense physical activity
  6. Two basic types of carbohydrates (depending on their size)
    1. Simple carbohydrates (aka monosaccharide)
      1. Cannot be broken down into simple sugars
      2. Absorbed directly into the bloodstream
      3. Include various forms of sugar such as:
        1. Glucose (aka dextrose)
          1. Simple sugar, circulates in animals as blood sugar (amount of sugar present in the blood)
          2. A primary source of energy for body's cells
          3. Transported from the intestines or liver to body cells via the bloodstream, and is absorbed by cells via the hormone insulin
        2. Fructose (aka fruit sugar)
          1. Found in many plants, often bonded to glucose to form the disaccharide sucrose
          2. Natural sources include: fruits, vegetables, and honey
        3. Galactose
          1. Monosaccharide sugar that is less sweet than glucose and fructose
          2. When combined with glucose, through a reaction the result is the disaccharide lactose
          3. Found in dairy products, sugar beets
      4. Fastest source of energy as they can be broken down by body quickly
      5. Absorbed by small intestine into the bloodstream, then transported to where they are required
      6. Sources in diet: fruits, berries, vegetables, honey
    2. Complex carbohydrates: larger and consist of long strings of simple carbohydrates, 3 groups: 
      1. Disaccharides (two monosaccharides joined by glycosidic linkage)
        1. Sucrose
          1. Naturally occurring carbohydrate found in many plants
          2. Combination of glucose and fructose
          3. Often extracted and refined from cane or beet sugar for human consumption
            1. Refined form of sucrose = table sugar
        2. Lactose
          1. Disaccharide sugar found in milk
          2. Composed of galactose and glucose
        3. Maltose
          1. Disaccharide formed from two units of glucose joined an alpha bond from a condensation reaction (chemical reaction where two molecules combine to form a larger molecule)
          2. Produced when amylase breaks down starch
            1. Amylase is an enzyme (molecular biological catalyst) that catalyses (starts/increases rate of chemical reaction) the hydrolis (unbinding) of starch into sugars
              1. Present in saliva of humans where it begins the chemical process of digestion
              2. Why a sweet potato is "sweet" when chewed - amylase degrades some of it's starch into sugar
      2. Oligosaccharides
          1. Simple polymer containing small number of simple sugars (monosaccharides)
            1. Fructooligosaccharide (FOS)
              1. Used as an alternative sweetener
              2. Extracted from blue Agave plant, bananas, onions, chicory root, garic, asparagus, wheat, and barley
      3. Polysaccharides
          1. Long chains of monosaccharide  units bound by glycosidic bonds (covalent bond that joins a  carbohydrate to another molecule)
            1. Starch
            2. Maltodextrin
              1. Polysaccharide that is used as a food additive
              2. Produced from starch by hydrolysis
                1. Enzymatically derived from any starch (typically corn or wheat)
              3. Commonly used in soft drinks and candy and other processed foods
            3. Amylose
            4. Amylopectin
          2. Broken down by enzymes into smaller sugars which are then absorbed into bloodstream

Fats (9 calories/gram)

  1. A lipid (naturally occurring molecule that includes fats and fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E)
    1. Store energy
    2. Structural components of cell membranes
  2. Also know as triglyceride, an ester of three fatty acid chains and the alcohol glycerol
    1. Fatty acid: Carboxylic acid with a long aliphatic chain (saturated or unsaturated)
      1. Important source of fuel, when metabolized yield large quantities of ATP
        1. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
          1. small molecule in cells used as a coenzyme
          2. molecule that carries energy to the place where energy is needed
    2. Esters: chemical compounds derived from an acid (organic or inorganic)
      1. Usually derived from a caroxylic acid an an alcohol
    3. Glycerol: Simple polyol (alcohol containing multiple hydroxyl groups) compound
      1. Colorless, odorless, liquid that is sweet-tasting and non-toxic
      2. Hydroxyl: chemical group containing one oxygen atom connected by covalent bond to a hydrogen atom
      3. Alcohol: organic compound where the hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to saturated carbon atoms
  3. Fats are a source of energy (slowest but most energy-efficient form of food) and protect internal organs
  4. Four main types:
    1. Saturated fats
      1. Fatty acids all have a single bond
      2. Called saturated because they are fully saturated with hydrogen atoms and cannot incorporate more
      3. Solid at room temperature
      4. Examples: butter, cheese, whole milk dairy products and fatty meats
      5. Provide source of energy, building blocks for cell membranes and hormones
    2. Unsaturated fats (molecules contain less than the maximum amount of hydrogen)
      1. Monounsaturated fats
        1. Composed of monounsaturated fatty acids
        2. Liquid at room temperature
        3. Examples: olive, peanut, and canola oil, olives, nuts, peanuts, avocados
      2. Polyunsaturated fats
        1. Found in nuts, seeds, fish, leafy greens
        2. Position of the carbon-carbon double bonds in carboxylic acid chains in fats is designated by Greet letters
          1. Carbon atom at the end of a hydrocarbon chain is called the omega carbon (last letter of Greek alphabet)
          2. Omega-3 fatty acids
            1. Final carbon-carbon double bond in the n-3 (n minus 3) position
            2. Three types:
              1. a-linolenic acid (ALA)
                1. found in plant oils
                2. walnut, edible seeds, flaxseed oil
              2. eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
                1. commonly found in marine oils
                2. fish oils, egg oils, krill oil
              3. docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
                1. commonly found in marine oils
                2. fish oils, egg oils, krill oil
          3. Omega-6 fatty acids
            1. Final carbon-carbon double bond in the n-6 (n minus 6) position
            2. Found in sunflower seeds, sesame, walnuts, soybean, corn
          4. Essential fatty acid (EFA)
            1. Fatty acids humans must ingest because body requires them and cannot synthesize them
              1. Alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3)
              2. Linoleic acid (omega-6)
      3. Trans fatty acids (trans fats)
        1. Type of unsaturated fats, occur in small amounts in nature
          1. Widely produced artificially from vegetable fats for use in snack foods, margarine, baked goods
          2. Easy to use, inexpensive to produce, last a long time = fast foods restaurants use to deep fry
        2. Frying and baking fats (hydrogenated vegetable oils)
        3. Hydrogenation: forced chemical addition of hydrogen into omega-6 polyunsaturated oils to make them hard at room temperatures, primarily as a cheaper and less perishable substitute for butter in crispy bread products