“I needed to learn C to make a device driver for work. I told them I knew C because I am good with email and word so they hired me. This book is too slow paced at the beginning but then starts talking about all kinds of crazy computer concepts that I never heard of and have nothing to do with email or the internet or device drivers like integers and main and void. I ended up getting fired after only 2 months. It was ok because this job paid more in 2 months than any other job I ever had paid in a year plus I got a month of severance, but it would have been nice to keep my job.”—Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Programming in C (3rd Edition)
“I won’t lie, it was a humbling moment. Learning that you’re not the first to explore a concept, especially in such an impressive project like DigitGrid, has a way of knocking the wind out of your sails. I wrestled with halting development of our display. What was the point? It had been done. Except that it had not been done by us. That was an important distinction. We decided to push forward with the idea that we could bring something new to the table, that we could evolve the concept of a digit display from simple canvas to real-time mirror.”—Teehan Lax Labs - D.I.G.I.T.
“Some basic changes come as a result. Deep cupboards with doors, for instance, have lost their appeal, as it is too hard to know what is bured in the back. So IKEA invested heavily to equip the Metod with pot drawers and other pullout features.”—The Long, Slow Process of IKEA Design - WSJ.com
“I’ve heard many people talk about dropping MongoDB in to their web application as a replacement for MySQL or PostgreSQL. There are no circumstances under which that is a good idea. Schema flexibility sounds like a great idea, but the only time it’s actually useful is when the structure of your data has no value. If you have an implicit schema — meaning, if there are things you are expecting in that JSON — then MongoDB is the wrong choice. I suggest taking a look at PostgreSQL’s hstore (now apparently faster than MongoDB anyway), and learning how to make schema changes. They really aren’t that hard, even in large tables.”—Sarah Mei » Why You Should Never Use MongoDB
“This of course means every numbnuts and his dog are currently crawling out of the woodwork and regaling us with their carefully considered twaffle about what Twitter is doing, what it should do, and how much money we’re all going to make buying and selling Twitter’s IPO shares when and if they ever come to market. A particularly amusing sub-genre of said twaffle consists of various pundits of varying credibility and credulousness pontificating on what Twitter is actually worth, as if that is a concrete piece of information embedded in the wave function of quantum mechanics or the cosmic background radiation, rather than a market consensus which does not exist yet because, well, there is no public market for Twitter’s shares.2”—The Epicurean Dealmaker: Go Ask Alice
“We’re going to cut straight to the chase. Modern browsers can animate four things really cheaply: position, scale, rotation and opacity. If you animate anything else, it’s at your own risk, and the chances are you’re not going to hit a silky smooth 60fps.”—High Performance Animations - HTML5 Rocks
“The problem with hyper product-oriented entrepreneurs is that they often have one tool in their pocket: Making a great product. That’s both admirable, and dangerous. Once the initial product is working, the team has to quickly transition into marketing and user growth, which requires a different set of skills. It has to be more about metrics rather than product design: running experiments, optimizing signup flows, arbitraging LTVs and CACs, etc. It’s best when this is built on the firm foundation of user engagement that’s already been set up. In contrast, an entrepreneur that’s too product oriented will just continue polishing features or possibly introducing “big new ideas” that ultimately screw the product up. Or keep doing the same thing unaware of the milestone cliff in front of them. Scary.”—When a great product hits the funding crunch
“Also, there’s the fact that both “NSA Files Decoded” and “Snowfall” so clearly take the form of what I like to call “The Editor’s Prerogative.” What is The Editor’s Prerogative? It’s when you take a piece of journalism and make it huge in scale and elaborate in delivery so that it is more in line with how important an editor thinks the story is than how new audiences actually want to consume it.”—Subtraction.com: The Guardian’s “NSA Files Decoded” and Multimedia Journalism
“Firstly, user research should focus on getting beyond inquiring about user needs and expectations, because they produce weak generative power. The key is to delve into deeper issues and to investigate people’s fundamental motivators. Secondly, it’s vital to share research findings in a more urgent and dramatic manner in order to transform them into inciters of profound change.”—White paper on the magic of human insights | Designit
“In Japan, there was a similar, interesting moment when you started to see older folks and men start using these kind of cute aspects — these emoji — that originally came from middle-school girl, mobile-phone culture,” said Mimi Ito, a cultural anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine, who studies how young people use digital media in Asia and the United States. “Now, as emoji are seeing more adoption in the U.S., you’re seeing a form of communication being used that was clearly developed and marketed to a different demographic.”—Disruptions: Texting Your Feelings, Symbol by Symbol - NYTimes.com
What makes me a good designer? This is the question I have been trying to answer for the last several months. And the answer is simple: it is my ability to think the right way when faced with a problem.
For the last seven years, I have looked to understand, explore, and create designs based on…
“Our hypertext is not the same as Engelbart’s hypertext, because it does not serve the same purpose. Our video conferencing is not the same as Engelbart’s video conferencing, because it does not serve the same purpose. They may look similar superficially, but they have different meanings. They are homophones, if you will.”—A few words on Doug Engelbart
“What your correspondent realized, relaxing there in his tub one day, was that the real subject of this literature was the professional-managerial audience itself, whose members hear clear, sweet reason when they listen to NPR and think they’re in the presence of something profound when they watch some billionaire give a TED talk. And what this complacent literature purrs into their ears is that creativity is their property, their competitive advantage, their class virtue. Creativity is what they bring to the national economic effort, these books reassure them — and it’s also the benevolent doctrine under which they rightly rule the world.”—Thomas Frank. “Ted Talks are Lying to You” http://www.salon.com/2013/10/13/ted_talks_are_lying_to_you/ Via @culturerevealed (via peterspear)
“In refinement and iteration you finally get to know the thing you made. Really know it. Understand how bad it is. How great it could be. How much potential is still left unrealized. And within each iteration you move the thing forward; sometimes better, sometimes worse.”—Pull back — Satellite — Craig Mod
“It should be a big incentive for any company to get into working remotely: good people, good developers, good designers — they are all over the world. They are not just in your local town. Working remotely — opening the door to doing that — just opens the door to finding great people all over the place. If you’re used to working remotely and it’s easy to bring people onboard because everybody works like that, you’ll be able to hire anyone if your project is interesting and you pay good money. This kind of work is attractive to the sort of people you might be looking for: self-motivated, intelligent, and active people are attracted to this way of working.”—Remote Works: BeBanjo, Spain by Emily Wilder of 37signals
“The motion-processing M7 chip in the new iPhone 5S will serve as an aid to fitness-tracking apps, says Apple. But over the long term, the chip could help advance gesture-recognition apps and sophisticated ways for your smartphone to anticipate your needs, or even your mental state, researchers say.”—What Apple’s M7 Motion-Sensing Chip Could Do | MIT Technology Review
“One fascinating benefit of today’s converged hardware / software platforms is how a new technology can be “turned on” via OS upgrades, allowing instant network effects at the platform and ecosystem level. Apple’s iBeacon is a model case for this and below are some thoughts on how new capabilities brought forth in iOS7 have the power to transform local and retail at the point of sale.”—How Apple iBeacon Will Transform Local Commerce | steve cheney – technology, business & strategy
“The Future Mundane is not a manifesto nor a dogma: It is intended as an approach to help expand our notion of design for the future. As designers, we have a huge opportunity to play with time, technology and people. In designing the future, we are able to play with ideas and dreams in a way that very few people are able. For every fantasy fiction piece of design, I would love to see a counter concept. A concept for the everyman; a concept that knows what might not work and what might break; a concept that delivers amazing future technology whilst comfortably sitting atop a Victorian chest of drawers.”—The Future Mundane - Core77
Manuel González Noriega, 2008-2013: a retrospective.
Got into a bit of a retrospective mood today, and started digging through a few of the more-than-trivial software projects I have coded in the last few years. These are some of them, with links to screenshots where available:
Browsecaster: a combination of Greasemonkey extension and Rails server for the purpose of broadcasting, storing and sharing those idle browsing sessions through Wikipedia. Not only individual page visits were recorded, but also were “paths”, or collections of links visited on a single infoaholic binge.
Themes: Real time, social browsing, capturing the ephymeral.
Meat: initially an experiment with Telefonica’s SMS-sending APIs, it evolved into a post-Dodgeball pre-Foursquare check-in service with two additional twists: alerting you when you some of your social contacts were in a venue with you (I guess this is something akin to what services like Highlight are doing now) and working as a proxy for sending messages back and forth between people in the same location. and bringing the store-and-forward capabilities of XMPP to the meatspace: if you tried to send a message to a contact that was not in the same venue, the message was stored and a little tease was delivered to the recipient instead to invite her to visit the place and retrieve the message at a later date.
Themes: Presence, serendipity, superposition of physical and virtual spaces.
Linkja: a blog aggregator that was not about the things that people were saying, but what they were saying them about. Linkja parsed posts, extracted links and did all the API mangling necessary to identify and collect “social objects”: movies, actors, books, news stories, photos, etc., so you could start with Woody Allen, Pulp Fiction or the viral photo of the day and drill down from there to discover all the blog posts written about those subjects. It was a simple but effective idea that, I seem to remember, Technorati got to implement as a feature some months later.
Themes: Blogs, aggregation, social objects, finding common threads and patterns in big volumes of data.
Kandypot: my stab at a pure API/SaaS, it’s a hybrid white-label social karma / gamification platform, with some interesting features such as the “kandies”, a manner of virtual coins, unique and permanent, that pass from one user to another as tokens and symbols of common social interactions such as posting and commenting, and an extensible and flexible badge creation system. Here is a short description in spanish.
Themes: Gamification (hey, this was 2008), virtual currencies, social dynamics, fine-grained personal interactions.
Peer Couture, a social network built around the idea of sharing clothes items and outfits, more interested in notions of intimacy and the emotional value of the things we wear daily than in the pseudo glamourous wannabe fashionism than other sites built around clothing.
Themes: Social networks, social objects, communication, emotion, intimacy, making the implicit explicit.
So, this is it, excluding of course a crapload of other flimsy and brittle hacks and experiments, most of them forgotten and lost even to myself. The ones featured here are those on which I poured more thought, time and passion and all together I reckon they adequately capture most of the underlying themes and theoretical subjects I have given more consideration to during the last few years. I have never been able to think more clearly about the rational underpinnings of technology than when I was crafting actual code that performed on a particular notional space.
All these stillborns also highlight my shortcomings and faults: I’ve failed more often than not in communicating the ideas and rationales behind my projects, resulting in endless frustration both for me and for people way smarter than me who would have been much more willing and able to support me if only they would have been able to understand my unfocused ramblings. To this day, a dear friend and mentor and I keep a running joke about the fact of he not being able to grasp what the hell Linkja was really about. To all the people I left frustrated and confused with some half-assed out-there description of some wonky piece of software, I sincerely apologize.
As a final note, Peer Couture was built with the support of my peers at my former company, Simplelógica, and the visual design as well as most of the front-end coding, was provided by dear colleagues. Most of the other projects, although not officially sponsored, were inevitably intertwined with my daywork, and thus I could always count on the help and support of my colleagues.
“The original idea was to devise how The Economist would look like if it had been born in 2012 rather than in 1843, explains Delaney. It would be digital native, mostly for mobile reading, and focus on contemporary economic engines such as digital, globalization, e-commerce, the future of energy, debt, China, etc. Instead of abiding by the usual classification of business news that looks like a nomenclature from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Industry, Services, Markets, Trade, etc.), Quartz opted for a sexier taxonomy; its coverage is based on an evolving list of “Obsessions“, a much more cognitive-friendly way to consider the news cycle than the usual “beat” (read this on the matter). As an avid magazine reader, Delaney said he derived the idea from publications like New York Magazine.”—The Quartz Way (1) | Monday Note