Our Behind the Data series aims to give you deeper insight into the minds and personalities of the developers, marketers, and technical support engineers who make up this eclectic, close-knit group. At work, we craft everything from Microsoft reporting APIs to mobile email applications, race against the machine during hackathons, build architecturally sound beer towers during retros, and paddle down the Charles during the warmer months. And outside work? Outside work, things get all shook up. Taking the stand today is Christina Nguyen (b t), an adventure-hungry UX Engineer with a penchant for Pretty Things, pink robots, and indie rock scrobbles. 

1. What do you do?

I’m the voice of people who use (or would use) Gander for Riparian Data. I try to collect as much information about their problems with email, whether we’re solving them, and what problems they are having with Gander. From that, I architect the interface to try to solve some of those problems, and then do the whole cycle again by testing the interface with people.

2. What are you listening to right now?

Beta Love — Ra Ra Riot (you can check me out on if you like, which scrobbles all of my thinking music and guilty pleasures).

3. If you could build any app, what would it be and why?

An app to record and transcribe unmoderated/moderated and remote/in-person tests on a mobile device. We sort of have a few solutions in this area appearing, but not really designed for remote, moderated (or unmoderated) testing. I’d be able to broaden and do more comprehensive research on how people are using our product and what they like (or don’t like) about it.

4. When you were 5 what did you want to be and why?

I wanted to be a lawyer and eventually the first female president of the U.S., if I recall correctly. Apparently, I was an argumentative child, though I bet I was pretty amusing using child-logic. My mom would get so frustrated by it, but I think she’d just reassure herself with, “It’s okay, she’ll be a lawyer.”

5. If you were a beer what would you be and why?

I’d love to be one of Pretty Things’ beers –generally pretty hoppy, layered, and complex. They’re seasonal and can be fairly ephemeral (I’m pretty dependent on sunshine intake). They also don’t have a brewery but instead rent out other peoples’ brewhouses –kind of the life I’d love to live, hopping around from adventure to another.

6. What is your favorite tech blog and why?

Ah, the heart of who I am –what I consume. I love lots of blogs for the different pieces of the tech world. The Kernel, since it provides an outside perspective of SF/SV area. I’m a fan of long-form opinion pieces, and they’ve stuck to their principles. For typical tech news, The Vergeand for random tech things, Kottke.orgThe Setup gives me a little bit more insight on how people work, and sometimes cool goodies to buy. I also have a collection of design blogs and startup blogs that I like to keep on top of, to round out the tech field.

7. Fill in the blank. Contrary to popular belief I  ________.

Am human and do not live on sunshine. I do necessitate food, water, shelter, and the internet. I cannot confirm nor deny if I am fully human.

8. Describe your perfect Saturday afternoon in 10 words or less.

Sunshine, blanket, Bi-Rite ice cream, Dolores park, Jambox

9. When did you last laugh?

About 30 seconds ago?

10. Describe your personal style in one word.

Coding? Messy (and it’s best not to involve other people.) Dress? Put together (hopefully). Furnishing? I’ve been told it’s “modern bohemian.” All-in-all: contextual.

11. What is your worst nightmare?

I found out one of my recurring nightmares actually exists –being in an infinite dark tank of water; the feeling of being surrounded by water in pitch black with no end is just terrifying. Apparently there arefloat tanks which use sensory deprivation to emulate that.

12. If you were a superhero, what would be your superhero name/power?

Yoshimi, since she battles pink robots. Just kidding; why would I go against my own kind? I mean, pink robots are cool. Invisibility would be awesome, but time traveling would be pretty cool too.

13. What 3 things would you bring to a deserted island?

A working plane, a runway, and a pilot. Or just the internet/electricity tubes, a computer, and MacGyver.

14. Who would play you in a movie of your life?

Best case scenario: Natalie Portman or Emma Watson. They have a pretty good nerdy following, and I hope I would too.

15. What is the last thing you bought?

A yellow hat!

16. What are your biggest pet peeves?

These things make me pretty grumpy: Lack of empathy and thoughtfulness. Not taking into account context. Not having an opinion on anything.

Relatively grumpy: When people can’t concentrate on the board game. Most doors are designed terribly and make me feel dumb.

Will induce a rant: Education startups that focus on rote demonstration instead of application, reflection, analysis, and abstraction. Yet another application to tell you what to do on a Friday night. Treating startups like school.

17. Name something that makes you smile.

A friend.

18. If you could teach a college course what would it be?

Lean UX on not only how to do UX + lean (mostly web) startups, but also on how to apply design to other systemic problems in an iterative, lean way.