As You Know

John Gruber pulled, “We’re going to double down on secrecy on products.” as one of the key quotes from Tim Cook’s appearance at the D10 Conference.

I picked a different one.

When pressed about Apple TV, Cook responds: “We’re not a hobby kind of company, as you know.” Boom.

Apple ain’t going to mess around with Apple TV (in it’s current black box incarnation) unless they can ‘make a dent’ in the television universe.

We’ve all had a gut feeling about Apple TV, whether you read Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs where Jobs claims he’s finally cracked it (‘it’ being television) or you’re just connecting the dots from the iPod to iTunes to iPhone to the expansion of iTunes to movies, rentals and shows to iTV to iPad to Apple TV …

It only makes sense.

Tuned Out

Over at the Atlantic, Derek Thompson gives us a short philosophical history of personal music and explains how working with headphones hurts our productivity (via SlashDot):

To visit a modern office place is to walk into a room with a dozen songs playing simultaneously but to hear none of them. Up to half of younger workers listen to music on their headphones, and the vast majority thinks it makes us better at our jobs. In survey after survey, we report with confidence that music makes us happier, better at concentrating, and more productive.

Science says we’re full of it. Listening to music hurts our ability to recall other stimuli, and any pop song — loud or soft — reduces overall performance for both extraverts and introverts. A Taiwanese study linked music with lyrics to lower scores on concentration tests for college students, and other research have shown music with words scrambles our brains’ verbal-processing skills. “As silence had the best overall performance it would still be advisable that people work in silence,” one report dryly concluded.

From my experience, he’s absolutely right – at least as it pertains to any work involving critical or creative thinking.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, I find it helpful to have music or a podcast on when I’m doing any sort of production-level work. This kind of work doesn’t require heavy mental lifting.


The object of everybody’s search in movies – the power cube, the energy crystal, Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase?
Turns out theres a name for these objects – a MacGuffin:

In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist (and sometimes the antagonist) is willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to pursue, often with little or no narrative explanation as to why it is considered so desirable. A MacGuffin, therefore, functions merely as “a plot element that catches the viewers’ attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction”.[1] In fact, the specific nature of the MacGuffin may be ambiguous, undefined, generic, left open to interpretation or otherwise completely unimportant to the plot. Common examples are money, victory, glory, survival, a source of power, a potential threat, a mysterious but highly desired item or object, or simply something that is entirely unexplained.

Thanks Bryan.

You Can’t Buy Talent

I’m linking to the LA Times article about the NY Times article on the rumors Facebook is working on it’s own smartphone (I’m not doing this because I moved to LA, I reached my 10-article limit at

Now, it seems Facebook is dedicating more resources to its phone project. The New York Times reports that the company has hired more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers and is actively recruiting others.

Ok, despite the title of this post, yes, you can buy talent, but you can’t guarantee it’ll stay around and it won’t guarantee you a hit product.
I would never buy a Facebook smartphone. I don’t want one company managing my relationships and monetizing them with contextual ads.
Apple manages my credit card with which I can purchase music, movies, applications and games. I am Apple’s customer. With a Facebook smartphone, I am not Facebook’s customer, the advertisers are. So like Google, Facebook’s goal is to please advertisers, not me.
No thanks.

All Sorts of Wrong

Over at Macworld, John Moltz gives his non-objective review of Windows 8:

This is the pig of Windows 8 that resists any attempts at applying all forms of lipstick. There’s simply no getting around the fact that this is a confusing dichotomy. Additionally, Windows on ARM–now saddled with the mock-worthy name “Windows RT” for “Run Time”, which has so much meaning to consumers–won’t run traditional desktop applications other than a core set provided by Microsoft. (Please refer to the matrix, thank you for calling.)

So, Microsoft’s big hope for getting into the tablet space is an operating system with an attractive but flawed front end that’s incongruously tied to a legacy desktop, and will require different versions of applications depending on which hardware you have.

What could go wrong?

To give them a bigger metaphor than they deserve, Microsoft has built a brand new Ferrari and dropped an 8-track tape in the dash and some seats from an ’86 Ford Taurus.

Analogue Backup

Randy Murray gives some sound advice on backing up your digital stuff:

Last year I needed to use a play that I wrote nearly thirty years ago. It was originally in a digital form, but that format, a Lanier word processor on huge floppy disks, was long inaccessible. But because I had it on paper, it was no problem to read and use. I’ve updated it to a new digital edition (I retyped it and rewrote it), but I’m keeping copies of each edition on paper. I also keep really important digital files in as raw a format as possible. For example, save as text, not a proprietary word processor.

I don’t do enough of this and I should. And you should too.

I Failed to Raise Sympathy

Over at GigaOM, Stacey Higginbotham tells the tale of the Dawson family’s failed Kickstarter project.
First off, as she accurately notes, over half of the projects on Kickstarter fail. Shouldn’t be surprising. There’s a lot of bad ideas out there in the world, and Kickstarter is part of that world. Reminds me of the statistic about how most new businesses fail within the first year.
The good news is the Jane Dawson, the mother, figured out like a big, grown up girl one of the main reasons her project failed – she was trying to sell something people could get for free. Jane says (ha!):

Not to get too nerdy about it, but it’s a classic public good / free rider problem – everybody benefits just the same whether they personally pay for it or not, as long as someone does and it still happens. … This is in stark contrast to some of Kickstarter’s huge success stories, which offered the actual paid product at a discount if you pledged over a certain amount – Kickstarter became simply a channel for pre-orders, and with a popular product that gets you a lot of funding.

So, you knew the business model of the hugely successful projects on Kickstarter but you decided to make one where one option was people getting it for free. Awesome. Your project should work out great.
Then Mrs. Dawson whines about asking people for money:

What made it hard was that putting yourself out there in this way and repeatedly begging people for money is emotionally draining. We sent countless numbers of emails to friends and family, posted repeated updates on Facebook and Twitter (as you saw) etc. Even though we knew lots of people wanted to pledge, they never quite seemed to get around to it, so that sort of reminding was key. (It’s also made me view our local NPR station’s pledge drives with a little more sympathy!)

Getting people to open their wallets is hard because for two reasons. Either:
A) Your idea sucks, so people don’t want to pay for your shitty product
B) You suck at presenting and marketing your idea and thus people are unable to see your brilliance
I might not have been as much of a dick in this post if I hadn’t successfully funded my own Kickstarter earlier this year. With a goal of $4,000, mine was peanuts compared to million dollar plus projects, but it was still hard work. I send out over a hundred emails to people in the design and technology world I thought would geniunely appreciate my project.
I labored over and over the email I sent to prospective backers and/or evangelizers because I didn’t want to come across as a beggar on the street. So what you do is act like a human being – don’t bring up money at all. It helps when you have a great product, because when people see a great product they shove you aside and throw their money down. Authenticity opens the door. A great product gets you into thier wallets.
I love how the Dawsons re-launched their Kickstarter with a revised target of $3,000 – a far cry from the original $30,000 they were aiming for. She says the family “found ways to cut their production costs”. That’s a huge drop in production costs. Did they decide to kill some camera and editing people? When you drop your goal that significantly I say be careful. If there’s anything I learned from my Kickstarter is all the invisible costs of producing and shipping a product. I walked a way with a meager profit, but after swallowing some costs for shipping and printing ‘bumps’. When you produce your own product on Kickstarter, you don’t have the luxury of supply chain discounts companies like Apple enjoy.
I should note while I’ve talked a lot of smack about Facebook and the shallow excuse for ‘friends’ and ‘relationships’ it brings into peoples’ lives, It accounted for 12.57% of my funding. I’m lucky to have encouraging, generous family and friends. In some cases family and friends didn’t even back the project but simply shared the link to people they thought would appreciate it and in sometimes that’s even better.