October 2011 Archives

Good Design Is Efficient

By Michael Mulvey on October 31, 2011 1:53 PM

Fortune shows us just how much more productive Apple is than the rest of the tech industry:

In the quarter that ended in September -- not its best, mind you -- the company generated sales of $28.3 billion and net income of $6.62 billion, or nearly $110,000 profit per employee.

Yes, Apple's products are great, but that's just part of the story. They're also extremely efficient at how they go about creating those products.

Good design is efficient (this should really be in Dieter Rams' Ten Principles for Good Design).

It Should Know

By Michael Mulvey on October 31, 2011 1:27 PM

When I come across links I want to comment on and post to this site, sometimes I'll email them to myself from my iPhone. It's not the most elegant process, but it's simple and it works.

The problem comes when I open said link on my laptop.

This is what I see.

I was listening to an episode of The Talk Show with John Gruber and Dan Benjamin earlier this year and Gruber made a great suggestion. He said in the same way a regular webpage knows to serve you the mobile-optimized version when you're on your phone, the opposite should also be true - when you open a mobile-optimized version of a web page on your desktop computer, it should know to redirect you to the regular version.

Patience

By Michael Mulvey on October 31, 2011 1:19 PM

This is why I always wait to buy my latest gadgets, even from Apple:

Today, my iPhone died after about 8 hours--not even enough to get me through a full day without recharging (and this is typical). This was not 8 hours of constant use (unless you count the constant pinging of notifications, which may be the culprit). It was 8 hours total from the time I unplugged it in the morning and took it with me until the screen went black at around 4 PM. According to the specs, the iPhone 4S is supposed to get 200 hours of standby time, 8 hours of talk time, and "up to 6 hours" of Internet use on 3g. During the day, I made half a dozen calls less than 5 minutes each, used the Internet for an hour on the train (email, Twitter, light Web browsing), and then maybe another 90 minutes throughout the day.

My rule of thumb when upgrading operating systems for my desktop Mac and my iPhone and when buying new hardware is to just wait. There's no correct number, but most of the time this means waiting 3-6 months.

Usually in that timeframe bugs have been fixed software patches have been released.

Most of my non-techie friends automatically assume I'm first to get any new Apple product. While I'm aware of the latest developments in the tech industry on a daily basis, I wouldn't call myself bleeding edge when it comes to purchasing gadgets.

Double Exhaust

By Michael Mulvey on October 29, 2011 9:40 PM

I'd like to welcome my good friend Jory Kruspe to Daily Exhaust. He'll be contributing posts on design, film, music ... who knows!

What I do know is he's a passionate designer and he'll be bringing a unique perspective to this site.

Loaded

By Jory Kruspe on October 29, 2011 12:13 PM

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Must Stop

By Michael Mulvey on October 28, 2011 2:10 PM

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Cheap Poop

By Michael Mulvey on October 28, 2011 9:41 AM

Electronista says the price-slashing of the Blackberry Playbook in the UK is still not helping sales.

I'm confused.

Does poop not sell, even at a cheaper price?

Microsoft Has Great Vision

By Michael Mulvey on October 28, 2011 9:13 AM

So Microsoft has decided to thrill us with another future vision video. They want to show us what the future is like.

Again.

I wrote about this in 2009 when they released their future vision piece for 2019. Everything I said then applies now.

This is why it's taken so long to get their new mobile phones and tablets to the masses - they're too busy planning our future! Cut 'em some slack!

Steve's Plates

By Michael Mulvey on October 27, 2011 8:47 AM

I always wondered how Steve Jobs remained above the law with his license plateless Mercedes.

iTWire has the story:

Steve (or someone close to him) spotted a loophole in the California vehicle laws. Anyone with a brand new car had a maximum of six months to affix the issued number plate to the vehicle.

So Jobs made an arrangement with the leasing company; he would always change cars during the sixth month of the lease, exchanging one silver Mercedes SL55 AMG for another identical one. At no time would he ever be in a car as old as six months; and thus there was no legal requirement to have the number plates fitted.

I could never do this. When I get car, I get it for the long haul. I want it to become an extension of me. But I guess if you don't have a passion for cars, this is no big deal.

via The Loop

The Yukon In Your Brain

By Michael Mulvey on October 26, 2011 12:50 PM

My brother Mark has great nuggets of culture and imagery over at his site, Twurts & Geekery.

I especially liked this quote he dug up:

I find it quite fucked up that the most outlandish thoughts can pay for your existence. The most bizarre thoughts you may have had in 1994 on an Ecstasy tab can turn into money, which turns into houses, which turns into cat food. It's the Yukon in our brain, it's a gold rush, it's all sitting there, and it's worth money.

-Grant Morrison, comic book writer

Primitive Internet

By Michael Mulvey on October 26, 2011 9:03 AM

From the Boston Globe:

On Oct. 24, 1861, with the push of a button, California's chief justice, Stephen J. Field, wired a message from San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, congratulating him on the transcontinental telegraph's completion that day. He added the wish that it would be a "means of strengthening the attachment which binds both the East and the West to the Union."

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Sun and iClouds

By Michael Mulvey on October 25, 2011 9:48 PM

Katie Fehrenbacher for GigaOM reports that Apple is building a solar farm for it's data center:

Apple has been laying plans for a solar farm next to its massive data center in Maiden, North Carolina, according to The Charlotte Observer. The solar project -- dubbed Project Dolphin Solar Farm -- will reportedly be built on 171 acres of land across the street from Apple's planned $1 billion data center, which had the code name Project Dolphin, but is now being called iDataCenter, and will likely partly serve the Apple's cloud-based service iCloud.

It's great to see they're investing in solar.

I don't know where your keys are, Grandpa.

By Michael Mulvey on October 25, 2011 9:18 PM

Terrence O'Brien for Engadget on the retirement of Windows XP, or lack thereof:

It's hard to believe that it was ten years ago today that Windows XP first hit retail shelves. It's even more astonishing when you realize that it was still the most popular operating system in the world until the beginning of this month.

Windows XP is like when your Grandpa still has a legit driver's license but you and all your family know damn well he has no business on the road. So you end up hiding his keys for him and offer to take him where ever he needs to go.

"I don't want you to drive my ass, I just want my damn keys!"

It's time someone took XP's keys away from him.

iCloud - At Least the Foundation Is Solid

By Michael Mulvey on October 25, 2011 8:43 PM

Dave Caolo vents about iCloud in iOS 5 (via The Loop):

iCloud's Photo Stream feature is handy, in that it pushes photos shot with a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to Apple's servers and then back to other authorized devices. Meanwhile, iOS 5 has tweeting built in, so there's a temptation to shoot photo with Apple's Camera app and then tweet it from the Camera Roll.

That's fast and convenient, but also a hindrance. Specifically, my iPhone, iPad and Mac are now cluttered with space-hogging one-offs I shot for the sake of a tweet or a Facebook update. 1 What's worse is that you can't delete such throw-away photos from your Photo Stream with an iDevice. Instead, you've got to visit icloud.com and click "Reset Photo Stream," which nukes the lot, good and bad. That's why I've started using Camera+ again for tweeting pictures.

I've noticed this too as someone who recently upgraded his first gen iPad and iPhone 4 to iOS 5.

The chain of my reactions to said iCloud issue/feature/bug has been:

1) Awesome! Everything is synchronized!

and then:

2) Shit, everything is synchronized.

The glass-half-full side of me sees this as the iCloud '1.0'. Which it is. Like iOS 1.0 (aka iPhone OS), iCloud has issues. It's missing features, but as far as this specific gripe about synchronization, from the Apple side of things, this is great. Everything is working as it's supposed to. The foundation has been laid.

I'm not trying to spin things as iCloud being perfect, because it's not, but things could be a lot worse. This could be MobileMe all over again. Remember, we just learned in the last week of Steve Jobs trying to buy Dropbox in 2009 and being turned down. This meant Apple had to figure out file synchronizing on their own.

So yes, things are very raw right now with iCloud and how it handles photos, but improvements are en route.

I guarantee it.

Remember, that's how Apple rolls.

Nest

By Michael Mulvey on October 25, 2011 10:05 AM

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via Co. Design

Think Quarterly

By Michael Mulvey on October 25, 2011 8:57 AM

Seems I missed Google's new journal, Think Quarterly, when it launched at the beginning of 2011.

From their About page:

When the world is full of noise, you need a little moment of silence - a space to reflect. Google's Think Quarterly is breathing space in a busy world. It's a place to take time out and consider what's happening and why it matters.

The discussion about business ideas that you've always wanted to have, a conversation between equals designed to get everybody thinking, sharing and innovating.

The previous two issues where Data and Innovation. The newest is on People.

The typography and layouts are beautiful and the articles seem sharp.

Don't Forget

By Michael Mulvey on October 25, 2011 8:44 AM

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via

You Screwheads

By Michael Mulvey on October 25, 2011 8:35 AM

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via

Limited

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2011 10:19 PM

Contrary to the plan, technology has limited our choices. When you check boxes that define your preference in a date--say, Latina, between 24 and 27, loves birds, is a Unitarian, oh, and also should have hazel eyes--you're narrowing your world quite a bit there. We no longer "happen across" anything; we Google. We don't flip through TV channels; we look at the cable menu and choose by title--or watch things you've chosen in advance, then recorded. Don't answer the phone without that caller ID. Don't bother listening to that whole CD--you want to hear that one song you already like. In every corner of this newest of new worlds, very little happens that isn't planned out. Technology has trumped serendipity.

--'iBone' -- by Marshall Sella; GQ Magazine, Oct. 2011

via Urban Suburban

Broken

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2011 10:07 PM

Interesting thread on Quora on who designed the broken image icon:

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Work on projects that matter to me.

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2011 9:48 PM

Stefan Sagmeister tells us the 7 rules to being a happy designer (the title of this post is #4).

via Analogue

Temptation

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2011 9:40 PM

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It's pretty awesome watching an adult put a marshmallow in front of a kid and telling he/she they can eat it now, or wait and get two marshmallows. It's apparently based on the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment of 1972 which focused on deferred gratification.

via magalomania

How Postmodern

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2011 4:11 PM

PSFK: How To Get Your Analogue Photos To Look Like Instagram Filters

?

How postmodern.

Compensation

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2011 10:08 AM

Just A Car Guy ponders the insane raises some CEOs make:

TRW CEO John Plant got 510% raise over his 2009 salary of 6.7 million Ford CEO Alan Mulally 524% raise... yet his company has 14 billion in debt Johnson Controls' Stephen Roell 424% raise

So... did those 3 companies make 4 to 500% better business decisions? Better profit? Better products?

Disgusting, but not surprising.

Advertising is based on one thing ...

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2011 9:23 AM

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Occupy Gotham

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2011 9:10 AM

GroupOff

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2011 8:44 AM

The AP is just the latest in a series of news organizations pulling off GroupOn's business model and profitability masks to reveal shady Old Mad Smithers in classic Scooby Doo style:

It's the latest twist for Groupon's IPO, which was one of the most anticipated offerings this year. In June, after Groupon filed for the offering, the SEC raised concerns about the way it counts revenue. Then the stock market plunged.

Now Groupon faces concerns about the viability of its daily deals business model. The novelty of online coupons is wearing off. Some merchants are complaining that they are losing money -- and customers-- on the deals. And competitors are swarming the marketplace.

"Groupon is a disaster," says Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst. "It's a shill that's going to be exposed pretty soon."

And how do small businesses feel?

Adding to growing customer discontent, Groupon, which was initially seen by small mom-and-pop shops as a way to drum up new business, was losing favor with some of them. Merchants began to do the cruel math on the daily deals.

Restaurants offering $50 of food for just $25 only collect $12.50 -- not even enough to cover the cost of the food. Some businesses also complain that the deals for new customers anger long-time patrons. Others say that the bargains attract high-maintenance types who don't turn into loyal customers.

"Your restaurants are full packed with people who aren't making you any money," says Paul Evans, a Kansas City marketing executive who advises clients against using Groupon.

To GroupOn's brief defense, if you're a small business doing business with anyone, do your fucking math. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Don't Be A Gashole

By Michael Mulvey on October 21, 2011 3:19 PM

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via Instagram

Beams

By Michael Mulvey on October 20, 2011 5:19 PM

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One Minute

By Michael Mulvey on October 19, 2011 9:55 PM

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Shhh.

By Michael Mulvey on October 16, 2011 10:11 AM

You know how exciting it is to tell a friend about your new idea for a product/business/invention?

Turns out, it's better to keep your mouth shut:

Unfortunately the mind sometimes has a nasty habit of sabotaging our best attempts to control ourselves. Recent research by Gollwitzer et al. (2010) suggests that, in fact, making our goals public can have precisely the opposite effect from what we intend.

Across three experiments the link between making goals public and actually working towards them was tested. What they found in every study was that when participants had shared their goal with someone else, instead of increasing their commitment, it reduced it.

Seems the best way to approach your goals is to just do them.

Yikes

By Michael Mulvey on October 14, 2011 9:55 AM

This is great. I follow a site called Modern Mechanix, which features old advertisements and articles in the fields of engineering, technology and science. Some of them go way back to the late 1800's and early 1900's.

My father started his career off in the 60's at Bell Telephone so I decided to send him the link to a recent post on Modern Mechanix which featured an ad for Bell.

I asked him if he remembered the ad. Here was his reply:

Yikes, not only do I remember it, in 1965 I was one of the few AT&T "data" technicians who worked on diagnosing and resolving problems on the "Dataphone" pictured in the Ad. Actually, it was a real fun job (to me anyway). These phones operated at 2400 bps (bits per second). Among other things, you usually had to "condition" the copper wires in order to pass error free data. This involved inserting customized equalizers in the signal path to compensate for the specific frequency attenuation characteristics of the assigned copper line. Soon after I advanced to supporting high speed/wideband data customers which introduced the then incredible transmission rate of 50kbps (50,000 bits per second). No one could imagine how there could possibly be a need or use for any higher data rates.

I think I understood a sentence in there somewhere.

Earning The Title

By Michael Mulvey on October 12, 2011 9:30 PM

It's be a year since you launched Windows Phone. Where we at, Microsoft?

Horace Dediu tells us:

Windows Phone is in limbo. The company acknowledged that it has performed below expectations. During the last quarter for which we have data (ending June) I have an estimate that Windows Phone sold only 1.4 million units (Gartner's sell-through analysis suggests 1.7 million). That gives Microsoft a 1.3% share of units sold (Gartner 1.6%), a new low.

John Gruber gives us a nice translation of these numbers:

In other words, for that entire quarter, they sold about as many total Windows Phones in that quarter as Apple sold iPhone 4S preorders last weekend.

My first thought when reading this was how Microsoft has never been in this position before. They've never had to fight for the title of "Most Popular Operating System". This is a company still making most it's profits from Windows and their Office suite of applications. This is software they created decades ago and they've managed to ride the wave into the 21st century.

Back in the 80's and 90's it didn't matter if their software was shitty or great, they had a monopoly on it and because of this, had the muscle to squeeze out any scrappy, innovative underdogs.

Now Microsoft has to prove it's worth. Apple's iOS and Google's Android continue to gain momentum in the marketplace. People are voting with their wallets and so far, not many are voting for Windows Phone. On the other side of the OS, developers aren't voting for it either, unless of course Microsoft offers to pay them to develop.

Microsoft has never had to sell their products to people.

Remember, Windows was designed for businesses, not people.

For the first time in their history, they have to step into the ring and fight.

It's poetic, really.

By Michael Mulvey on October 12, 2011 9:24 PM

RIM has worldwide outages the days leading up to and on the day Apple launches it's new mobile operating system and cloud-based backup service.

It's poetic, really.

Remember though, RIM has two, count them, TWO CEOs. I'm sure they have this under control.

A Perfect Tribute

By Michael Mulvey on October 12, 2011 9:39 AM

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Created by 19-year-old Jonathan Mak Long.

Black-eyed Berry

By Michael Mulvey on October 12, 2011 8:18 AM

BlackBerry users revolt against RIM as disruption spreads

Smartphone maker Research In Motion (RIM) is facing a user revolt after tens of millions of users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa suffered a second day without services such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), as the company struggled with problems at its hub in Slough, Berkshire.

The company also revealed that the areas affected now include South America, with users in Brazil, Chile and Argentina suffering loss of service.

Horace Dediu points out RIM is currently losing half a million users per month, and with only 16 million left in the US, they could all be gone by the end of the year.

While this outage didn't specifically affect the US, it's not going to help stop this downward spiral either.

UPDATE: Scratch that last sentence.

Signage

By Michael Mulvey on October 11, 2011 1:42 PM

So Josh Luke and Steve Lambert are lending their typography skills to Occupy Wall Street (via PSFK).

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While I think their actions are commendable, I wonder if there's not some emotion lost in these 'professional' signs.

I wonder if a more James Victore-ish approach would be better suited to the urgency and emotion in the protests.

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This is not to say many of the protest signs I've seen couldn't stand for an upgrade.

Occupied

By Michael Mulvey on October 10, 2011 8:51 AM

I work right across the street from where the Occupy Wall Street protesters have been setting up shop (spoiler: they're not occupying Wall Street, but Zucotti Park).

While I haven' been observing much of what's been happening on the street (I've been busy working 45 floors up), they seem to be a fairly chill group, although I'm sure things get fired up and emotions run high at times.

I'm amazed at just how many more people are occupying Zucotti Park now, then when it started.

Here's a few shots I took before work today:

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That is a lot of sleeping bags.

Bye, Steve.

By Michael Mulvey on October 5, 2011 7:56 PM

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Balance the fuckin' budget, B.

By Michael Mulvey on October 5, 2011 4:44 PM

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Word.

The Man

By Michael Mulvey on October 5, 2011 8:58 AM

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via Yimmy's Yayo

Technology Loop

By Michael Mulvey on October 5, 2011 8:49 AM

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I feel like this more often than I should.

Marking Win

By Michael Mulvey on October 4, 2011 12:07 PM

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via @tim_nolan

My job is to not be easy on people.

By Michael Mulvey on October 4, 2011 9:09 AM

My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better. My job is to pull things together from different parts of the company and clear the ways and get the resources for the key projects. And to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be.
- Steve Jobs, on his demanding reputation, CNN Money, 2008

via @johnmaeda

Title Scream

By Michael Mulvey on October 3, 2011 6:09 PM

A page full of title screens from old 8- & 16-bit games (via kottke).

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Quantity & Quality - Mutually Exclusive

By Michael Mulvey on October 3, 2011 9:40 AM

Over at Fotune, Philip Elmer-DeWitt tells us iOS's Internet market share hits a record 54.65%.

He writes:

You would think that with nearly 50% of the global market for smartphones that Google's (GOOG) Android would also dominate the Web.

So how does the competition stack up?

Android, with 16.26%, is still trailing Java ME's 18.52%. Nokia's (NOK) discontinued Symbian, at 6.12%, is fading fast and Research in Motion's (RIMM) is holding steady at a negligible 3.29%.

Elmer-DeWitt points out the fact that Apple has an advantage with iPhones and iPads and iPod Touches. This is true, but I think there's another piece to this equation.

If you've opened a Best Buy flyer/insert in the last year, you'll usually see a 2-page spread of Android phones. They range from $199 to $99 to free with no recognizable differences to the average, non-techie user.

Now with over 50% of the phone share, Android is clearly kicking ass in raw numbers, but if you happen to have used some of the phones in the in range featured at Best Buy, you'll know some of them offer horrible Human Experiences.

Chuggy, choppy, buggy, crashy.

So my theory on why Android has over 50% market share but only 16.26% Internet market share is: People are getting suckered into buying these Android phones ("hey, they look slick like the iPhone"), not understanding there's a huge difference in quality between models. Then they start to use their phone, only to realize it sucks. People don't like their Android phones, so they stop using them.

I was in the car with a good friend of mine recently and I handed him my iPhone 4 to help me navigate to our other friend's house. He started flicking around the Google Map, and said "Oh my god, this interface is so smooth." He happened to have an Android phone on the lower end of the quality spectrum and was only now coming to understand what he had bought.

Quality and quantity are mutually exclusive characteristics.

No Shortcuts

By Michael Mulvey on October 3, 2011 9:03 AM

I won't lie, when I came late to GroupOn craze less than a year ago, I was somewhat seduced by the allure of bargain prices for interesting activities. Activities that got me up and away from my laptop and iPhone screens (Holy shit, my wife loves anything to get me away from my gadgets).

After a short while I started to do crude math in my head to understand the longterm viability of sites like GroupOn and Living Social. My own skepticism brought to mind questions my boss used to drill us with at my first job out of college (circa '99). This was during the dot-com boom. He would watch us oogle over dozens of amazing interactive sites for products and services and ask, "So how do these guys make any money?"

We would just shrug our shoulders and say we didn't know.

We now know, of course, how that story ended for many businesses.

Now it seems, the true colors of coupon sites are coming out. The New York Times says these sites are not a great for some merchants:

Some entrepreneurs are questioning the entire premise of the industry. Jasper Malcolmson, co-founder of the deal site Bloomspot, compares the basic deal offer with lenders' marketing subprime loans during the housing boom.

"They were giving these mortgages to every consumer regardless of whether he could handle it," Mr. Malcolmson said. "But sooner or later you find that you can't make great offers to people if they're not making you money." He recently revamped Bloomspot to focus on merchant profitability.

There's no shortcut to success, and once you're successful, there's no guarantee you'll maintain it.

The advice for successing in any business is the same as optimizing your site for search engines.

Create original, relevant content repeatedly.

I'm not saying it's easy, but that's the recipe.

UPDATE: I should note a crucial ingredient to the success equation I left out. After you repeatedly create original, relevant content repeatedly, you don't give it away. Or sell it for a loss. You charge money for it.

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