Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sometime in the last 10 years, we stopped using paper printouts


I guess it's all email now. I can't remember when I last printed out a document at my job.

-- from this BusinessWeek article on Lexmark

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's a "Maserati Problem"?

"A Maserati Problem is when you worry about what color Maserati you should buy when, years from now, you sell your newly-started startup for millions of dollars. It's a problem you shouldn't be worried about at the current stage."


-- via Quora

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

If you own a D-Link Router, reset your Wifi Channel

I've had a DGL-4300 Wifi router for the last 2 years. After moving into an apartment complex in SOMA, my Wifi became mindnumbingly unreliable: I barely ever got an IP address. Even if that succeeded, the connection would be so slow as to be unusable. Plugging in my network cable would work perfectly, though.

Last night I had an epiphany. I checked my router settings, and it seems like D-Link routers are preconfigured to use "Super-G with Dynamic Turbo" which in turn forces the router to Wifi channel 6.

My apartment complex is so heavily populated with techie types, and all of them have Wifi. A large percentage of Wifi routers is made by D-Link. Yeah, all of the D-Link routers in my neighborhood were probably fighting each other for airtime on Channel 6.

I logged into my router's admin console (usually at http://192.168.0.1) and chose a different channel [1]. My Wifi has been speeding along ever since.

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Notes:
[1] Humans are bad at randomly selecting Wifi channels. Open up python on your console and type:
>>> import random; random.sample([1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11],1)

Average Revenue per Apple Store Location

I was reading this 2001 article the other day. It predicted that Apple Stores would fail since they would need to bring in $12 million dollars of revenue each just to be able to pay the rent.

Despite the doomsayers, the concept has succeeded. So how much revenue does each Apple Store bring in today?

One Quora question and a friendly pointer later, I was reading this Bloomberg article which estimates Apple's flagship Fifth Avenue store to be grossing $350 million dollars a year. That’s the equivalent of selling one Mercedes-Benz C300 sedan per square foot each year. Impressive.

But the 5th Avenue Apple Store is hardly average. What about the average Apple Store location?

This article on AllThingsD puts Apple's total revenue from Apple Stores at $2.58 billion per quarter. That would mean that all Apple Stores make a total of $10.3 billion per year [1].

Scouring through the location list on Apple's website, I counted 301 Apple Stores worldwide [2]. That would put average revenue at $34 million per store. While that's only one-tenth of their flagship location in Manhattan, this kind of revenue should easily cover the rent.

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Notes:

[1] While Q2 is traditionally a weak quarter compared to Q4, Apple released both the iPad and iPhone 4 in Q2 of 2010. That's why I'm relying on Q2 as the indicator for the average across the rest of the year.

[2] Not that Apple boasts with "200 stores worldwide" on that page, but at a closer look has already surpassed the 300 store mark.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"But Will It Make You Happy?"

This is a great article in the New York Times about how people are getting rid of their stuff, rather than buying more, to achieve happiness. It echoes the sentiment that instead of you owning stuff, it instead end up owning you.

Scholars have discovered that one way consumers combat hedonic adaptation is to buy many small pleasures instead of one big one. Instead of a new Jaguar, Professor Lyubomirsky advises, buy a massage once a week, have lots of fresh flowers delivered and make phone calls to friends in Europe. Instead of a two-week long vacation, take a few three-day weekends.
“We do adapt to the little things,” she says, “but because there’s so many, it will take longer.”

Before credit cards and cellphones enabled consumers to have almost anything they wanted at any time, the experience of shopping was richer, says Ms. Liebmann of WSL Strategic Retail. “You saved for it, you anticipated it,” she says.

In other words, waiting for something and working hard to get it made it feel more valuable and more stimulating.

In fact, scholars have found that anticipation increases happiness. Considering buying an iPad? You might want to think about it as long as possible before taking one home. Likewise about a Caribbean escape: you’ll get more pleasure if you book a flight in advance than if you book it at the last minute.

How can do developers make their coding time as effective as possible?

(This post is part of my Quora reblogging experiment)

Coding is hard. procrastination is easy. How do squeeze the most productivity out of the time you spend coding?


The techniques I use are all for minimizing distraction and for making getting back into flow easier:

  • Block off as much uninterrupted time as possible
  • Keep a list of TODOs in a Google Spreadsheet with mini-tasks (as small as reasonably possible) so I can glance at it when returning from a break. I always keep the cursor on the current task I'm working on.
  • When doing backend work, I try to scope all tasks so I can see the effect in the UI. The ability to visualize the intended result makes long-winded work bearable.
  • Test-driven development: Write unit tests first, then try to make them green. A clear goal keeps the mind on track.

Quora Reblog Experiment

I haven't blogged much lately. Thus I'm trying a new experiment whereby I will reblog some of my answers to questions on Quora to this blog.

There is no grand theory behind this. If you're subscribed to this blog, you're likely interested in stuff I like and write about. To write something, I have to come up with both a topic and the contents. On Quora, the questions are provided, so I need to only write up the answers. I'm not exactly sure where this will lead, or how long it will last.