Sunday, May 30, 2010

I wonder how many Miele appliances were sold in Silicon Valley because of this quote.

Is there anything well designed today that inspires you?

Design is not limited to fancy new gadgets. Our family just bought a new washing machine and dryer. We didn't have a very good one so we spent a little time looking at them. It turns out that the Americans make washers and dryers all wrong. The Europeans make them much better - but they take twice as long to do clothes! It turns out that they wash them with about a quarter as much water and your clothes end up with a lot less detergent on them. Most important, they don't trash your clothes. They use a lot less soap, a lot less water, but they come out much cleaner, much softer, and they last a lot longer.

We spent some time in our family talking about what's the trade-off we want to make. We ended up talking a lot about design, but also about the values of our family. Did we care most about getting our wash done in an hour versus an hour and a half? Or did we care most about our clothes feeling really soft and lasting longer? Did we care about using a quarter of the water? We spent about two weeks talking about this every night at the dinner table. We'd get around to that old washer-dryer discussion. And the talk was about design.

We ended up opting for these Miele appliances, made in Germany. They're too expensive, but that's just because nobody buys them in this country. They are really wonderfully made and one of the few products we've bought over the last few years that we're all really happy about. These guys really thought the process through. They did such a great job designing these washers and dryers. I got more thrill out of them than I have out of any piece of high tech in years.

-- Steve Jobs in Wired in February 1996

Thursday, May 27, 2010

PB on what to do with your millions

Great post today by Paul Buchheit:
Although today's poster only asked, "What do I do with my money?", there's a second, related question that's also very important, "What do I do with my life?" In both cases, I think the right answer is, "start slow, and avoid making any big decisions now", though as always, there are exceptions.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"From Hopes and Dreams to the Real Thing"

"Companies start out as hopes and dreams and stay there for at least a little while. Even after the product has been launched and users are jumping aboard, the company is still in hopes and dreams mode.


There is a big chasm between hopes and dreams and the real thing. Companies need to grow up and go through the ugly adolescent phase. They start to doubt themselves, they start to churn employees, they may even go through a management change or two. Getting across this chasm is hard, it takes tenacity, both from the entrepreneur and team and from the investors. Everyone has to stay the course, buy into the plan, and execute it.

Crossing the chasm to the real thing is not nearly as fun as the hopes and dreams phase. It is hard work and it happens after the gushing media has left your company for the shiny new thing. Your company will take a morale hit and you will have to lead it through this phase.

But getting to the other side is worth all of it. There is nothing as satisfying in entrepreneur land than having a profitable growing sustainable business that doesn't need another dime of anyone else's capital. I have watched entrepreneurs stand up in front of their teams and tell them that they've reached that point. I get chills every time I see it."

-- Fred Wilson

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Moment of Zen-Like Calm

I came home last night to an empty inbox. No new messages had arrived. It was a moment of Zen-like calm.

That is, until I realized that I had misconfigured my MX records in the move. But SMTP is a surprisingly resilient protocol: Minutes after I fixed my MX records, emails started streaming in. I'm hoping I have everything now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lost in the Move

I just finished moving my personal website from the late 1990s to the future. Two open source snippets I wrote a few years back got lost in the move. I had forgotten about both of them. I promptly got some emails about where the persistent queue implementation went. Here's the new location for both:

Farmville Cash

I went through a weeklong phase of playing Farmville a few months ago. Then when I got my iPad, I tried Godfinger. All these farming games have two things in common: An attention-based and a money-based currency. In Farmville, these are called coins & cash.

You get coins for farming, but if you want to buy that fancy tractor, you have to pay in Farmville cash ("FVs"), which in turn is about $0.05 per FV. This Hot Rod tractor costs 55 Farmville cash, which in turn is about US$ 10.00:

I realize I'm not the target audience to purchase FarmVille cash (or Hot Rod Tractors). I guesstimate that's only about 2% of the userbase. But in comparison, I'm happy to shell out US$5.00 for high quality iPhone games. But why?

First, I'm offended by the fact that Zynga and its competitors have trivialized making money on PNGs. It used to be that your dollars would get you a whole new game experience. You would spend $50 but get a whole new episode of Monkey Island, a masterpiece of vision and sound. Today you spend $2 and all you get is essentially a PNG file. The creative value per dollar spent is at new lows.

Second, I'm annoyed that these currencies are essentially like airline miles: Zynga is the central bank. If they decide there needs to be inflation, there is inflation. This cash doesn't really store value.

I'm hoping that as more and more gamers realize this, there will be a race to the top. Games are going to deliver more creative value. The people who play them are going to stop playing the games that take them for a ride.

The Death of Files

The iPhone OS completely removes the concept of a “file." It promotes apps to being the primary level of user interaction, and it stores related things inside databases that are content-specific. When you pick up your iPhone and want to view photos, you open the Photos app, which connects to the photos database and shows you all of your photos. When you want to listen to music, you open the iPod app, which connects to the music database. Everything on the iPhone is task-centric, not file-centric. The “file” part of completing tasks is completely insulated from the user.

-- Dustin Curtis, The Death of Files

Blog Move Complete

Wow, moving this blog wasn't easy. But it's done.

Update your bookmarks to (the old location was, but that's no longer supported by Blogger).

More posts to come soon ...

Saturday, May 01, 2010

In the Process of Moving this Blog

Time is up for moving this blog off of publishing via Blogger FTP. Blogger is turning that feature off later today.

I'm in the process of moving this blog to a new home. It'll end up either at or I'm not sure about the destination yet. For SEO purposes, I'll also need to set up all the right redirects in all the right places. Sounds like work.

Since is on a budget hosting service whose DNS config interface predates modern civilization, and a process that might involve faxing them stuff (if you can believe it), this page will likely be static for a few days until I complete the move.

Until then, you can check out my other blog here on Posterous.