The flip is elusive or why don’t we do smarter things in the face of evidence. Look… your Gucci t-shirt isn’t better than a $10 Hanes from Costco. But you buy it anyway. And I paid $800 for an iPhone 6 when I knew that a $300 Android is 90% as good. Things change and people don’t.
Don’t believe me? Try working in tech. Emailing Excel files and Word docs around for collaboration is still the king even though everyone knows this is a terrible, time-wasting idea. There are better tools out there and yet inevitably on the eve of some deadline someone emails (ugh!) a Word doc (ew!) around “with change-tracking on and I will take care of the revisions”. You know it’s broken as you do it… but you do it anyway.
It’s like smoking – you know it causes cancer and it will kill you but what the heck, it’s what you know how to do. Trust me, put the email/Excel/Word down and go find the better tool; your sanity and productivity will thank you.
I recommend reading the full article on sleep at https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/05/11/internal-time-till-roenneber/. It has some fascinating points to make among them:
We know everyone has different genetics but we assume everyone needs the same amount of sleep *and* that some specific time is the right time to wake up.
“there is a great disconnect between teenagers’ biological abilities and our social expectations of them, encapsulated in what is known as the disco hypothesis — the notion that if only teens would go to bed earlier, meaning not party until late, they’d be better able to wake up clear-headed and ready for school at the expected time” whereas the data shows otherwise.
Daylight Savings Time sucks… well at least doing a time change sucks… it can take up to four weeks for the body to truly adjust.
There is also mention of a Danish school prototype in which the school was assumed to be a service for the students; the students could show up when they wanted to. The results from the study weren’t shared but how fascinating – let kids learn on their own. This has echos with the #remote-work movement in which people work where they want to and to some extent on relaxed schedules.
How many Brits woke up this morning with a nasty hangover and are puzzled asking “we did what again?”
No one knows what will happen of course. Will Scotland leave? Will Ireland unite? Will this cause votes in other EU countries like France to exit as well? No idea, this is something fairly new under the sun. But England is in for a bit of a bumpy ride.
Some days you have First World problems. And some days you suddenly realize you are having 1% First World problems and have become a caricature. Yes indeed… you are the ass getting the internal eye-rolls from the cashier and other customers.
Setting the stage. I’m at Whole Foods (eye roll #1) after Crossfit (eye roll #2):
Me to cashier as she rings up my organic asparagus: hey, are you folks still stocking lump charcoal? I see the briquets over there, but those are terrible.
Cashier: Um… those bags say “lump”
Me: yeah.. but they are briquets so you don’t get much heat. Plus they are from Kingsford so god knows what else is in those besides wood.
Cashier: (doing a great job not rolling her eyes visibly, she is clearly used to this nonsense) um… I could call the grocery department…
Me: no, no, I went there, they have the same junk. How do I provide feedback on this product change?
Cashier: (eye roll #3, she couldn’t hide this one) …
I won’t continue as I managed to a) talk to someone who in theory is taking my feedback seriously, b) annoy several decent people at a grocery store, and c) become a character in Portlandia or maybe “Best in Show” (this is clearly not a busy bee! are you trying to be unhelpful!)
My only redemption was realizing at some point how silly this sounded, smiled, thanked all involved and wished them a good day and sincerely meant it. This humility should get me through the weekend at least.
You’ve been there… your food arrives at a restaurant and suddenly some waiter asks “would you like fresh ground pepper?” You were about to start eating your food so a) this is an interruption and b) you never typically use freshly ground pepper from a 3 foot long pepper grinder, and c) you have spent most of your life trying to fight off the moment when you can no longer season your own food. “Um… yeah… sure…” you mumble trying to avoid eye contact since you don’t want to be that jerk, you know the guy who is telling this poor waiter no. You know the waiter has been coached to offer pepper as a way to improve customer satisfaction i.e. the personal touch.
I bet there was a time in the 80’s or 90’s when this was a special moment. The high-end restaurants would do a little something extra for you; they would grind some pepper right there in front of you. But it has spread pretty much everywhere now. And it makes no sense and should be stopped.
If this pepper is so damned good why don’t you have a pepper grinder on every table? It’s not like pepper grinders are expensive.
Is there something wrong with the pepper that’s already on my table? Is it stale pepper? Is there such a thing as stale pepper? Hey, why aren’t you offering me freshly ground salt too, how do I know my salt isn’t stale¹?
You are annoying me. Now we get into the ritual in which the waiter will ask everyone at the table “would you like freshly ground pepper” whether the dish really benefits from pepper or not. And everyone will agree to pepper. Except me and then everyone sort of looks at me thinking “what kind of weirdo says no to the pepper”. Oh… and our food is getting cold while we all do the pepper dance and that one other guy at the table decides to show how manly he is by saying “I’ll just tell you when” as his salad accumulates more fallout than Chernobyl. This is usually the same guy who orders 5 stars at a Thai restaurant and spends the next hour pretending he could handle the spice while turning beet-red and pouring sweat out of every pore.
Can you imagine if restaurants do more of this? “Sir, would you like our freshly washed cutlery today with your meal?” “Artisanal ice cubes in your water today?” I remember in the olden days when you’d order a baked potato and a waiter would hover and drop dollops of sour cream, butter, chives, and bacon bits on the food. It was boring and sad and frankly I could do a better job putting bacon bits on things. I was happy when that “service” went away.
It’s time. Restaurants should either buck up and put the pepper grinders on the table or just acknowledge that the whole thing was a funny little hoax.
¹ And yes, I know that some fancy-schmanzy places do bring out special salts. This is stupid too since they all pretty much taste like salt. Except the lava salt which tastes like dirt and salt. And the smoked salt that tastes like… wait for it… smoke and salt.
When Google Reader was cancelled we were all sort of lost. Sure, we had tools like Flipboard that sort of helped. But it’s not the same. A post by Seth Godin makes this point: RSS is free, it’s simple as the name implies, and you can use a tool like Feedly to make it useful.
I spent a little time reading “Throwing Stones at the Google Bus” and while I don’t agree entirely with the message (disclaimer: got bored about halfway through and stopped reading when my library borrowing period expired) one point that resonates is how much companies like Google and Facebook control what you read. I think they do a good job generally treading the line between money and evil but still, it’s control.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Go use Feedly, find the underlying blogs with RSS, and read what you want to.
My brand new Echo stopped working recently. At some point it was fine, then it lit up all blue (usually a firmware update), then it stopped responding. I did all the troubleshooting stuff: the white dot on the back is fine, the mute button lights red so power works, I hit reset…
Email customer support
Hm… 4-5 days later, no reply
Call customer support
Wow, that was prompt. Kudos where they are due.
What customer support did
CS: can you unplug the device and …
Me: as noted I did that. I also hit reset.
CS: can you hit reset
Me: um… I did that. I also know power is working since the red mute button lights up.
CS: so no response?
Me (getting frustrated): correct. As noted. No response, power works, I suspect bad firmware update.
CS: let me transfer you to tech support
Me: (wondering… weren’t you tech support??)
10-15 minutes being on hold, new CS guy
CS: (walks through a few question… should have been in the ticket already)
Me: it doesn’t work, I suspect a bad firmware update
CS: we will need to replace it. Keep the power adapter and drop the Echo off at UPS.
Me: in what box? With what label?
CS: put it in the box you got it.
Me: (incredulous) you expect people to keep the shipping box?
Me: (upset, this isn’t Comcast after all) are you serious? I am going to take my Echo to UPS, drop it off in packaging I don’t have, then wait a few days and then you send another one out? This is Amazon, this is unacceptable.
Me: (off to write a blog post and blast Amazon on Facebook and Twitter before returning the Echo and buying a new Google device)
What should have happened
As soon as CS #2 understands that the device is broken:
CS: I see that you ordered this on Prime Now. What is a convenient time for us to drop a new Echo off and pick up the old unit?
Me: 6-8 PM tonight would be great, you folks are so awesome!!
Of all of the nifty things I saw during the Google I/O webcast last week the most game-changing to me was Instant Apps. In the old days of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 you could navigate around the Internet happy and free. There were a few walled gardens (e.g. pay-sites) but for the most part as a consumer as long as you had a browser you could go anywhere. Then we all moved to phones and wham we hit a walled garden. In order to shop at Whole Foods I need the Whole Foods app. See something great you want to buy online; download the app for that. Pay for parking from your phone; I have six apps (!) on my phone for this depending on which lot I happen to drive into.
This is crazy. As Ellie Powers, Google PM, said “I don’t really have the Buzzfeed app on my phone… but I might want to watch a quick video”. Google has stepped fully into this fray with Instant Apps.
What is an Instant App
From a consumer point of view it’s a wonderful new way to get pieces of an application delivered to your phone at just the right time. Imagine you are in a grocery store and there is a QR code (or bar code or similar). You can the code and the coupon you wanted is on your phone. No need to download a special app, the app just arrived on your phone in about the same amount of time as downloading a website would.
No more fumbling around the App Store looking for the app, signing in, fumbling around for a credit card, and finally deciding “never mind”.
It just works…. probably
It’s not clear yet how much work this will take for developers to enable. According to the docs it might take “as little as a day to re-factor your app”. I assume that is for apps that are fairly simple and have very straightforward User Interfaces (UI) e.g. a shopping app, a music app, video apps, etc.
What this means for the rest of us
Yeah! It’s time for Web 3.0!! But this time we will get all the power of our mobile devices, more security, and all the graphic goodness of native apps. If done right this means we can break out of the walled gardens we’ve lived in since 2007 with iPhone apps.
There are lots of caveats to this story of course, the ones that come to mind:
This is Google only. Will Apple do something similar but not the same so we continue to live in this fragmented world? If Google were truly serious about making this work they would open source the deep-links required to allow these instant apps to be cross-platform (which would still require two codebases, but hey, that’s the same as today)
It’s not clear *when* this will launch in the real world. 2017 seems likely.
I just finished reading The Coral Thief. I’m not entirely sure how to classify this book. It’s not a thriller, it’s not just historical fiction, and it’s certainly not a mystery or even a love story. Well… it is a love story of a kind in which the author clearly loves Paris.
The plot is fairly simple: boy meets woman on a stagecoach, woman robs boy, boy falls in love with woman. The rest is fairly boilerplate and would be a dull slog if not for the fact that the writing is compelling, the characters at times rise above average, and the historical setting of post-Napoleon Paris is enchanting. At times the characters are cliché – the tough French inspector (Javert apparently), the mysterious stranger, the ex-royal now turned thief, etc. You’ve seen these characters before. But the story holds together for all that as it’s stitched with lovely images of Paris before the Paris you know now. You will still know the Marais, but now instead of a tourist-thronged mess it was a warren of thieves and beggars. You will be amazed to hear of people washing clothing in the Seine.
I recommend seeing “Midnight in Paris” before reading this book. It will help set the right tone.
Every time I read an article about Iceland I think “how wonderful that they keep doing this”. Truly:
The Pirate Party is taking the lead in national politics. After the banking crisis they elected a comedian as Prime Minister.
When told they had to take out disastrous loans in the banking crisis they more or less said “nope” and walked away. All the articles at the time said Iceland would never recover and they should have taken the Irish approach and mortgaged their future. Turns out Iceland is doing just fine, thanks.
“Switzerland of Bits” is a great idea. Be the haven for free Internet traffic.
Huge culture of healthy living which is tough given I don’t recall seeing a lot of vegetable farms out there.
I looked into moving to Iceland at one point but somehow couldn’t get the family over the whole “it’s dark all winter” thing. Maybe I can get some sort of deal where I live there for 6 months at a time and then Italy during the winter. Who knows. If some tech company there needs an experienced leader who speaks great English (zero Icelandic) who can commute from Italy/Spain/Portugal in the winter let me know.