Darren Nix

Slow triathlete, climber, post-apocalyptic lit fan. Founder at 42Floors. Previously built RVmenu, Leaky, and Silver Financial.

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How not to do tech support or ‘When Evernote acts like Comcast’

Back on January 7, I emailed Evernote’s support team to tell them about a bug. Evernote automatically converts single quotes into angled quotes like this:

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A subtle difference? Absolutely, but not to a compiler. This “feature” of Evernote made it impossible to use their software for saving snippets of code for later reference (something I do often).

January 8, the support team replied:

We appreciate you taking the time to send us this error, however, our text editor uses a kind of HTML language, and therefore it can get a bit “confused” if there is conflicting style information like coding in a note. We will be sure to pass on the information you’ve provided to the product development team for review, but unfortunately this is not something I can fix for you at this time.

Ignoring the “conflicting style” comment (we’re talking about plain text here), maybe they’ll get around to...

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Striking back at recruiter spam

Spammy emails We’ve decided on a new approach to handling recruiter spam.

Before I go on, let me say that we like working with high quality recruiters from time to time, including one fantastic freelance recruiter, Oli Ryan, who helped us find several of our key hires.

That being said, we get bombarded daily with spam calls and emails from recruiting companies. Most of these we just ignore, but some bad actors decide to contact every person on the engineering team including calling our mobile numbers. That’s unacceptable.

So, it’s time to strike back: if they waste our time, we’ll waste theirs.

The recruiter black hole It’s a simple concept: when a recruiter starts to be a pain in the ass, we just tell them to call our “HR manager” at this number:

(415) 534-6560

Give it a call. Just say you’re “John, with ABC Recruiting Solutions (Annoying By Choice)”.

A very patient individual named Derrick (a...

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The absurdity of LinkedIn

Originally published here: 42Floors

This morning I had a call with someone I hadn’t met so I Googled their name and, inevitably, clicked through to their LinkedIn profile.

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I was bemused to note that, although the search result in Google showed their full name in the title, their profile page obscured their name until I “Upgrade for full name”.

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Obscuring the name seemed especially silly given that the URL of the page includes the full name.

I wondered if LinkedIn would show me more than a radically truncated profile if I wasn’t logged in.

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So I popped up an incognito window and loaded the same URL. Voila, the full profile. It seems LinkedIn has decided that its optimal strategy is to punish registered users.

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Our homegrown A/B testing framework at 42Floors

Six months ago we created a homegrown A/B testing framework wherein we randomize traffic between three servers running different branches of our codebase. Conversion rate has since increased 251%.

Original article published here: Using split testing for office space search

My goal in sharing our results is to encourage you to take bigger risks with your A/B testing. Please treat our particular designs with skepticism; the UX that worked for us probably won’t work for you.

The original

As a search engine for commercial real estate, our site has only one goal: for visitors to find at least one office space that they like enough to contact.

Version 1

Version 1

So, the simplest measure of our success rate (our conversion rate) is the number of visitors who contact a space divided by the total number of visitors. A contact is any phone call, email, or web-based tour request. For the sake of...

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How to proxy inbound phone calls using Twilio and Rails

Because we’re a marketplace for RV rentals, we need to let customers call rental agencies directly but we also need to be able to track each time a customer calls one of the hundreds of RV rental locations we work with. In other words, we need a proxy phone system.

Originally published at: How to use a phone proxy for RV rentals

The finished product will use a single toll-free number and long list of extension numbers. The extension numbers will be generated from the primary key of each row in our agency database model.

When a customer calls in they’ll be prompted to enter the extension number (agency ID) and their call will be forwarded on to the RV rental agency. If the customer makes a mistake and enters an invalid extension, we’ll forward the call to a general customer service number.

What users will see when we’re done


We’ll need four routes to handle the various paths...

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How to choose the optimal domain name using Adwords split testing

Choosing a new domain is usually a gut-driven decision. Maybe you’ll spend a few hours getting domain suggestions, check out a few Sedo auctions, build a shortlist, ask some coworkers for opinions, then pick one and hope for the best.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Last week I wrote about how running a domain split testing experiment for my RV rental weekend project led me to a domain that performed 127% better than my personal favorite. Several readers asked for more details about the methodology so I’ve described it in detail below.


What we’re going to do is set up several domains, write identical ads on Google AdWords, and then measure click through rates.

It’s important to test domains that are significantly different from each other. For example, if you were testing FriedChicken.io vs FriedChicken.co, you’d expect to need a very, very large pool of data before...

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Going to work from home today… our office is too loud

Repost of original at 42floors

We’re about to sign a lease on a new office space for 42Floors. The architect suggested this floor plan. It looks great… unless you code.


Our current office is a 3,000 sqft 2-story townhouse with an open layout. The first floor is engineering with customer service and ops on the second floor. Even though everybody tries their best to take phone calls outside and move conversations to a conference room, it’s gotten so busy around here that the flow of ”Going to WFH today so I can get shit done” emails has become almost daily — myself included.

I’ve installed a white noise machine under my desk and a lot of us wear active noise-canceling over-the-ear headphones, but it’s still hard to focus. It’s not just the noise… there’s the steady stream of office commotion happening just over the top of every monitor.

Given that context, when I saw this open layout,...

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She’s learning to code by building a site a day. Friday was day 180.

“Hacker News is going to love you,” was the first thing I said when Jennifer Dewalt told me about her plan to leave the art world and become a coder by building a web site every day for six months straight.

HN did indeed love her, doing its best to crash her single AWS server when she posted on Day 115. Apparently the Russians love her even more, though – Habrahabr.ru (think Slashdot in Cyrillic) edged out HN + Reddit and tossed in 443 Facebook friend requests from guys named Vladimir, too. All told, she pulled in 2,140,000 pageviews in a week.

Despite being something of an online celebrity, Jen is quite the opposite of attention seeking – she’s shy and speaks softly and thoughtfully. At close to six feet tall with a sporty pixie cut, she looks like a hybrid of a typical programmer and a college volleyball player (which she was).

I’ll confess to being skeptical about her approach at...

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Don’t send me a message to tell me I have a message

Screen_Shot_2013-04-18_at_11.06.59_AM.png.scaled1000.png Dear PSD2HTML.com and every other noreply@domain.com email sender,

Sending me an email to tell me that I have a message with a link to actually read the message is unforgivably bad design.

I don’t want to:

interrupt what I’m doing to leave Gmail look up the randomly generated password that you assigned to me learn your user interface for attaching files and formatting text (in the unlikely event that you even support this).

Switch to email. Trusted since 1971.

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You’re not anonymous. I know your name, email, and company.

This is a repost of my original post at 42Floors.

Sumit Suman recently visited a site, did not sign up for anything, did not connect via social media, but got a personal email from the site the next day.

Here’s how they did it.

I’ve learned that there is a “website intelligence” network that tracks form submissions across their customer network. So, if a visitors fills out a form on Site A with their name and email, Site B knows their name and email too as soon as they land oan the site.

It all started 2 weeks ago when I got a promotional email (anonymized to avoid promotion) offering to

discretely integrate with your existing web site to identify visitors to your website.

I get B2B marketing emails all the time but what caught my eye was the inclusion of a report snapshot for 42Floors.com showing names, companies, and emails of site visitors and the information seemed plausible....

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