NOTE: This blog has been moved to

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sr. Web UI Engineer for Customer Service Engineering

** Update: Position Filled! **

We recently filled the position I posted earlier.

I now have a new position to fill -- Sr. Web UI Engineer for Customer Service Engineering. In this role you will help design and engineer a new suite of web-based customer service applications.

In the previous role it was challenging to find someone with the right mix of semantic markup skills, javascript prowess, css wizardry, and java/jsp experience. In this role the requirement to be a DHTML god is lessened. What I need is someone who:
  • Is passionate about designing and engineering great interfaces
  • Has solid experience designing & building enterprise web applications in a Web 2.0 manner (rich in features, more complex in interaction than our main Netflix site)
  • Has strong proficiency in server-side UI technologies (Java, JSP, Struts, Tiles)
  • Has a solid background in simple software architecture and design as well as can communicate their solutions to the rest of the engineering team
Your job profile will probably include a good deal of experience with building user interfaces for non-consumer oriented sites.

If you have always wanted to work for a site like Netflix, but were unsure you had enough consumer web site experience then this could be a great opportunity. The applications you will design and build are not for the main Netflix member site, but instead for our #1 rated customer service team.

The person in this role will be part of the Customer Services Engineering Team as well as a member of my Netflix Web UI Engineering team. Since much of the work is greenfield you will have the opportunity to help design the user experience as well as build the web applications. In addition, the Netflix UI framework that the site runs on is shared with these applications. As such you will help flesh out this framework as we go forward.

So what technologies would you be using?
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • JSP
  • JSP Tags
  • Struts2
  • Tiles2
  • YUI Grid
  • jQuery
For more details, check out the official job posting. Also, feel free to contact me directly at b DOT scott AT yahoo DOT com.

Here is the LinkedIn Posting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Designing Web Interaces Talk (Ajax World)

Slides from Ajax World talk:

Designing Web Interfaces
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: design web)

Update: Yahoo! Account Fixed or "The Awful Face of Customer Service"

As noted before I was having trouble with my Y! id. My alias account (that I give out most frequently) no longer worked.

As I mentioned my experience with emailing Yahoo! was really bad. Canned messages saying the same thing no matter what I wrote -- the only difference was the signature at the end.

Phone calls weren't any more helpful. After searching and finding the phone number, I called to explain the situation. It seemed we had reached the point where she finally got my dilemma. However just at that point of epiphany the phone went dead. Somehow we were disconnected. So I called again. Finally reached that point again and she promised me a response in 3-5 business days. Yea, right. That was 2 weeks ago and nada :-(

Fortunately I used to work at Yahoo! I still know lots of people internally so in parallel I sent them a note about my problem (as well as many emailed me when they saw my blog post). Once I got in contact with one of the leads on Y! Mail they got the ball rolling internally. Somehow my alias account got corrupted. It was now a "child" account (you can create parent/child accounts for minors) and could not be accessed. It took a little over a week but finally it got fixed. Very thankful to the hard work of some of the folks in the Mail/UDB/Member teams that resolved the issue.

This got me thinking though. What if I had not worked at Yahoo! before? Well this account I guess would just be dead and I would have lost that email address. I really don't see any other outcome.

It also got me thinking about the various faces of any company. If my only experience had been email then I would have felt that Yahoo! was uncaring and faceless. If my only experience had been the phone I would have heard a sympathetic voice but no follow through. But I happen to know that once the problem came to the attention of people inside Yahoo! they jumped on it and worked extra hours & the weekend to resolve the problem.

This is always the problem with anytime we have a problem with a company. It does not matter if the engineers inside the company are caring, dedicated people. The customer service organization is the face to our users. Unlike in most cases, I also had the unique perspective to know that the number of user accounts created on a daily basis is staggering. And the level of calls/contacts to customer support is huge.

I guess if I did not have the inside view I might have fallen prey to conspiracy theories -- seems that when people have a problem with a company it becomes personal or the screw up is really a way for the company to squash the little guy.

But it was not. Nor is it hardly ever that way. It was just an odd, rare bug that just happened to clobber my account that was not easy to detect and not simple to fix right away. And if the right people get it brought to their attention they work hard to resolve it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

YUI Carousel Component (2.6.0)

On October 1, 2008 Yahoo! announced the release of YUI 2.6.0. This
release contained the official YUI Carousel component.

As you know, the intent of my carousel component was to fill in a gap in the YUI library. In 2006, I created the ycarousel component. Thankfully, many people have found it useful over the last 2 years.

Before I left Yahoo! in 2007, I spent some time with the YUI team,
discussed the ideas behind the way I approached my component, what I
liked about it and more importantly what I did not like about it :-)

The newly released YUI component shares some of the same
properties/api with my component but has been written from the ground
up. So I am excited about their
new carousel and encourage everyone to migrate to it instead of using
the carousel shown at this site.

The fact is you will get better support for their component. I am just
too busy with other projects to really support it the way I would like
and there is just no reason to cloud the space with two components
(even named similarly ;-)

You can find the new YUI Carousel component at the YUI library site.

The latest version of my carousel can be found at my site.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ajax World Interview: Bringing Excellence to the Field of UI Engineering

Jeremy Geelan over at Sys-Con interviewed me about the field of user interface design & engineering.

I will also be presenting at the Ajax World conference in San Jose, CA on Crafting Rich Web Interfaces

The talk is based on my upcoming O'Reilly book Designing Web Interfaces (co-authored with Theresa Neil). The session happens on Monday, Oct. 20th @ 4:30pm.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Yahoo! Front End Developer's Summit 2008 - Talk

I had the wonderful privilege of giving a keynote today at Yahoo!'s Frontend Summit. Douglas Crockford gives the one for tomorrow.

I took a stroll down memory lane talking about everything from slide rules to Wang Desktop Programmable Calculators to programming on the Macintosh 128k. In many ways this played off an earlier blog "All I reall need to know I learned from a Mac 128k".

Here are the slides:
Back To The Future
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: yahoo keynote)

A video will be available at the YUI Theatre later this month. I will post a link here when that happens.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Update: 3 year old server error... Yahoo! says is definitely the problem with my account!

Man, I was never on this side of Yahoo!'s customer service before. But it sure does hurt.

After getting the previous response I patiently explained that it was not possible for a server error to be the culprit since the account in question is 3 years old. 

Yet, Yahoo! customer care responded to this sensible explanation with exactly the same answer (only this time from 'Nick')

Hello Bill,

Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Account Services.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. It
appears that there may have been a server error at the time you
registered for your Yahoo! account. Unfortunately your information was
not correctly saved, and you will be unable to access this account. You
are welcome to create a new Yahoo! account with a different ID. Again,
we apologize for any inconvenience.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Account Services.



New and Improved Yahoo! Mail - better than ever!

Argh! But hey, I am free to create a new account! Yipee! That sounds like fun. Why didn't I think of that before?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Three Year Old Server Error Haunts My Yahoo! Account :-D

Gotta love this.

I have an email account that I have had for about 10 years. While at Yahoo! I jumped on the opportunity to create an alias (also known as a profile). When they allowed the 'period' character to be used in an email account I created b <dot> with my last name.

As of this morning this is broken. While Y! IM understands I still have this profile, I can't login to it anymore, can't receive email, can't use IM with that profile, etc.

So if you are trying to reach me via the B <dot> email then forget about till I get this mess straightened out with Yahoo! Here was the first response:

"We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. It appears that there may have been a server error at the time you registered for your Yahoo! account. Unfortunately your information was not correctly saved, and you will be unable to access this account. You are welcome to create a new Yahoo! account with a different ID. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience.

Right. You are telling me that there was a server error three years ago that just now showed up? Sounds like a canned answer.

I finally found the contact number for Yahoo! Customer Care. For anyone interested it is: 1-866-562-7219. After getting my call cut off (after painfully explaining the situation) I got another customer care person. They have escalated it -- they should get back to me in 3 - 5 business days.


Ironically, I give a keynote at Yahoo!'s Front End Summit next week.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Netflix Public API Available

I am proud to say that Netflix has just released its public APIs.

The API allows access to data for the catalog of 100,000 movie and TV episode titles. This includes DVD titles as as well as instant watch titles. Applications can request access to a member's account (via OAuth) for working with their queue as well as other movie related account information.

Best of all it's free. We allow commercial use (e.g., a developer can create an iPhone app and sell it for a buck -- that's ok).

I gave a lightning talk about this at the Ajax Experience yesterday in Boston. It both quickly covers the API as well as our first Netflix Hack Day where we exercised the APIs in a 24 hour coding frenzy. I will upload this to slideshare when I get a decent internet connection (why can't these new beautiful hotels have decent internet connectivity?)

Developers can get access by signing up at

BTW, there is also a great step-by-step tutorial from Joseph Smarr (he is the platform architect for Plaxo)

Happy Hacking!