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"I just think things should work properly"

17 Feb 2005 by Jason Fried

I’m a sucker for a good inventor story. A story about someone seeing a problem, coming up with a killer solution, trying to convince others of its killerness, being rejected time after time and then saying fuck it I’ll build it myself. And then kicking ass. That’s just what James Dyson did with the world’s first cyclonic bagless vacuum cleaner. His cyclonic bagless vacuum cleaner. The story is fantastic (as are his other inventions).

I recently heard a radio spot for the Dyson vacuum — voice over by Dyson himself — and he ended it by saying “I just think things should work properly.” That’s just beautiful, I just think things should work properly. Sums it up for me.

49 comments so far (Post a Comment)

17 Feb 2005 | Jamie said...

Great product (so I've heard). I also like the fact that on his site he has a Help for Inventors section that covers patents and other useful information that could be easily forgotten about when pursuing that grand idea.

17 Feb 2005 | Ryan Brill said...

I recently heard a radio spot for the Dyson vacuum ó voice over by Dyson himself ó and he ended it by saying "I just think things should work properly."

Funny, I just saw the TV commercial for this last night...

17 Feb 2005 | Eamon said...

I just think vacuum cleaners shouldn't cost half a grand.

17 Feb 2005 | edward said...

I thought the same thing...until I read a Consumer Reports issue where the Dyson didn't perform any better than a regular upright...at more than triple the cost.

It does look much cooler though. For a price.


17 Feb 2005 | f5 said...

Half a grand....and it's 99% plastic.

I have a 40+ year old Hoover that works, and is made of metal. By the looks of the Dyson products, I have a hard time beliving they'd last more than a handfull years without at least one plastic part snapping.

I recently went shopping for vaccums and got quite a different story about the Dyson from the salesman. As in, he didn't invent it himself, but rather took existing technology that previously hadn't made it to market. Also, this salesman (who did sell Dyson's by the way) said the Dyson's weren't exactly built to last -- what good is constant suction if the plastic handle and wheels break (etc.). According to him the company had already gone through bankruptcy once. Granted this guy was obviously trying to sell me something else besides the Dyson, but...

Does anyone else know of anything along these lines, or was the vaccum salesman blowing smoke?

17 Feb 2005 | Blake Scarbrough said...

Dyson Vacuums are the Apple Computers of the Vacuum Industry.

From the packaging to the product, Dyson's are beautiful--I love mine.

By the way it uses a plastic they call "Liquid Steel" seems to hold up great and is not heavy like metal.

Hoover tried to steal Dyson's technology several times, he took them to court--this is what almost bankrupted him. Read the story.

17 Feb 2005 | Rob H said...

Dyson Vacuums are the Apple Computers of the Vacuum Industry.
Second that.

The Dyson is worth every penny. I have the Animal DC07 and it rocks! Picking up everything in its path. Its the must have vacuum if you have pets. Its so powerful that it can break the static charge that pet hair has. It aslo is remarkable at removing dirt. When my dog comes in from the back yard and his paws are muddy and gets on the sofa leaving behind dirt. I just grab the Dyson and it removes all the dried mud, etc.

Its an investment worth the $$$ like my mac. I can't wait until his washer is available in the US. I'll be more than happy to replace my washer with the Dyson.

17 Feb 2005 | Keith said...

While I can't vouch for the product (although I do realize the value of a good vacuum) I do think this is a great story and the quote is awesome.

Now, when are they going to launch freedysonvacuum.com?

17 Feb 2005 | Jake said...

My good mate Jon works for dyson - he is a product design engineer.. they are constantly striving for the tiniest performance advantage from whatever material they can find...or make! It really is facinating stuff! I would love to be that creative...or actually do it and make a difference... Of course I have a DC07 (at a knockdown price!!) it is pretty fab, I rate them alongside apple for the coolest brands in the world...

17 Feb 2005 | Mike D. said...

I saw an exhibit in the London Design museum maybe 10 years ago about the Dyson vacuum cleaner. I'd never seen one before and I'm pretty sure they weren't even being sold yet, but I remember it being a stunning exhibit.

I also very much enjoy the TV commercial with Dyson explaining his vacuum cleaner. Strangely, I mentioned how much I liked the commercial to a girl I know and she said it was actually one of her most annoying commercials of all time. No accounting for taste I guess.

17 Feb 2005 | lisa said...

I have a dyson canister model and I love it!!

I have a big white lab and she sheds like crazy.
Having owned a handfull of vacuums over the years, this one is the only one that hasn't had the suction taper off over time. Its really a pretty remarkable machine. It was well worth the money we paid for it.

17 Feb 2005 | Jake said...

OK, is it just me, or is anyone else annoyed at the profanity? You guys are awesome, but I'd like to see a little less in this area - that is your expertice, right? Simple?

18 Feb 2005 | Christian Gloddy said...

Unfortunately, the adverts are better designed than the vacuum itself. When consumer reports did a roundup of vacuums, the Dyson came in at 13th. Note that this is judging it on performance, not price.

Is the Dyson Vacuum All Itís Cracked Up to Be?

18 Feb 2005 | Baldrick Jameson said...

Jake: "OK, is it just me, or is anyone else annoyed at the profanity?"

Yes, it's just you.

18 Feb 2005 | hartmurmur said...

Just bought a Dyson at Christmas. It rules. Regardless, if it isn't much better that others, the marketing and that slick accent sold me...and I love to vacuum now and because of that my carpets are cleaner than they have ever been.

18 Feb 2005 | Matt Turner said...

Jake: "OK, is it just me, or is anyone else annoyed at the profanity?"

No it's not just you.
I was thinking about this yesterday morning actually, not just in regards to profanity but other things that annoy/upset some people.

I know the usual take on it is something along the lines of "well if you don't want to read it no-one is forcing you to come here, you can go read something else".

I've come to the conclusion I don't agree. Taking this example: NOT swearing will not upset anyone, including the author, furthermore it will not lessen what you're trying to say.

However swearing MAY upset some.

This is not the same as, for example, explaining a technical issue where by NOT using advanced language you are lessening your ability to explain an issue. However by using technical language you are ostracising some of the audience. In that situation you have to choose who you are targeting your communication at and who will be excluded.

Profanities are not necessary. I know at the end of the day it's personal choice but why swear when you can not swear without altering your message and guarantee not upsetting any who may find it offensive?

18 Feb 2005 | Mathew said...

I somehow find written swearing almost completely invisible and innofensive, whereas in a face to face situation it can be a lot more distracting. The tone of voice is probably the key, since when I am reading something I can assume any 'tone of inner voice' I like.

More on-topic - I've been impressed with the functionality of a Dyson, but the look of some models is like a scaled up kids toy. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

18 Feb 2005 | 8500 said...

"I somehow find written swearing almost completely invisible and innofensive, whereas in a face to face situation it can be a lot more distracting. "

I'm actually the opposite. I don't mind face-to-face swearing since the delivery can add or subtract from the offensiveness. In writing, especially on the web, it is much easier to take something the wrong way. Also, because of the wonder that is Google, your grandchildren will be reading everything you type into these little form fields.

18 Feb 2005 | Dan said...

OK, is it just me, or is anyone else annoyed at the profanity?

In this thread? I couldn't find any. Guess I just don't notice.

They've just started getting product from the factory and taking online orders for the TrekPod, a very nifty combination hiking staff and photo tripod/monopod.

Hey, that's pretty cool, I hope it sells well. I always try to think of these awesome inventions, but they've always been thought of already.

Strangely, I mentioned how much I liked the commercial to a girl I know and she said it was actually one of her most annoying commercials of all time.

It's funny you mention that, because in the first version of the commercial, my wife and I thought he was saying "the first vacuum that doesn't use suction." Obviously, we were totally confused. Plus, the accent does make him sound like a bit of a candy ass (sorry Jake).

18 Feb 2005 | Matthew said...

Sorry, the bagless gimmick doesnt cut it...

Almost all major hotels and cleaning pros use Oreck vacuums, I have one and it beats the pants off the Dyson that I purchased after moving into my new apartment. Granted, it costs a similar price, but there is a worlds difference in cleaning.

They may be aimed at a consumer that is too lazy to properly maintain their vacuum cleaners, but the same thing could be said for any product that requires maintenance. And i'm not going to pay and arm and a leg for mediocre performance and the fact that I dont have to perform any maintenance.

18 Feb 2005 | Jason Hummel said...

I love the fact that you guys don't hold back in your blog postings. Other company blogs would never post "Fuck it, I'll build it myself" to their blog, because of their fear of offending someone, but you guys just go for it. The thing is, this kind of tone works so much better. The posts seem real and not some kind of marketing ploy to get people to come to your site - it's more like something a couple of coworkers would talking around the water cooler.

18 Feb 2005 | Jason Hummel said...

Whoops. Didn't read the comments before posting... I guess not everyone agrees with me. *shrugs*

18 Feb 2005 | -b- said...

But can the Dyson seal chips fresh? I think not. Kidding aside, I was impressed with the Dyson until I tried it out and noted how damn heavy it was. I mean, it's like noticeably heavy to push around. That maybe designed specifically for that, not sure.

18 Feb 2005 | Bill Brown said...

When I was young and stupid, I bought a Tri-Star XLT canister from some cold-calling vacuum salesman (my wife scheduled the in-home appointment without my knowing and the demonstration was all too convincing). It's a lot more expensive than the Dyson (that's the stupid I mentioned) but it's all metal and has a 30-year guarantee. We had previously been going through $99 models at about once a year.

I've had it for about 10 years now and the thing is still sucking. It has a bag but it's washable. It's definitely the strongest vacuum I've ever encountered.

I would recommend it but I'd suggest that you negotiate hard. We got them down quite a bit but they were a little too quick to agree to that price. I'm not going to quote the price I paid because it makes the "stupid" seem generous.

18 Feb 2005 | Jake said...

I only asked if it annoyed other people. But the other guy is right, it is not considered professional.

18 Feb 2005 | hartmurmur said...

Vacuum cleaners suck.

As Alf used to say, "I kill me!" :)

18 Feb 2005 | Lite said...

case in point: OXO brands.

http://www.oxo.com/home.php

so ergonomic and well-designed!

18 Feb 2005 | Elliott said...

The swearing was NOT appropriate.

Fine in conversation.
Not fine to show to a client.

However cool and new age you guys would like to think you are its simply un-unprofessional to swear.

But go ahead, its your company.

18 Feb 2005 | Dan said...

The swearing was NOT appropriate.

Fine in conversation.
Not fine to show to a client.

However cool and new age you guys would like to think you are its simply un-unprofessional to swear.

But go ahead, its your company.

Speaking solely for myself, get off your high horse. This is tame by most standards, and if you're worried about children reading it, I'm sure they'll quickly get bored by the topic of conversation. Otherwise, lighten up.

18 Feb 2005 | Dan said...

Crap, I screwed up my tags. I gotta quit doing that...

18 Feb 2005 | 8500 said...

"The swearing was NOT appropriate.
Fine in conversation.
Not fine to show to a client."

Um, maybe you haven't noticed but 37s doesn't really have clients anymore. They have customers...

18 Feb 2005 | Will said...

I spent about 10 minutes trying to find out where the "swearing" in the entry was, because I didn't give it a second thought after reading the initial post. It didn't even register.

It's amazing the petty things people find to harp on these days. Obviously the author didn't mind saying "fuck" so how is it really anybody else's business to complain about it? If you don't like the tone or the language used on SvN, don't come here. But don't try to lecture the author about how he's being unprofessional to his clients. It's his site and his choice. I'm sure there are plenty of potential clients/customers out there who talk and write the same way.

And yeah, "I just think things should work properly" is brilliant :)

19 Feb 2005 | Matt Turner said...

As i said, it's the authors choice to say what he wants and no-one can stop him.

Also it's everyone who reads this blogs choice to come back and read something else if they want to, or not.

I guess my point is that on an issue such as this one, it really is easy to keep everyone happy. No one is going to get upset or think less of a post if there is no swearing.

In response to Will's comment that
"how is it really anybody else's business to complain about it?"

Well, really it is anyones business to complain at what they like! That's free speech for you- it's just as legitimate for someone to complain about someone else saying something as it is for the someone else to say it in the first place!

19 Feb 2005 | Alex said...

I've got to agree with Jake about the swearing, it really doesn't seem very professional. You guys have got a great company, and make some awesome stuff, but it would be really good to see the profanity go away...

19 Feb 2005 | potty mowf said...

they are just words... sheesh

19 Feb 2005 | Elliott said...

Macromedia press statement: "our new version of flash is gonna be fucking amazing"

appropriate? nope.

Um, maybe you haven't noticed but 37s doesn't really have clients anymore. They have customers...

Do macromedia have clients? nope.
Do macromedia have customers? yeah.

Point made?

I was only commenting on how unprofessional it is. Im not on my 'high-horse' to make that comment.

19 Feb 2005 | Mat said...

I wonder if the kind of people who would be seriously put off by this instance of swearing are likely to be the kind of clients that 37s would like to work with?

19 Feb 2005 | ffub said...

If a dyson is so damn good, why hasn't George Foreman put is name on it?

19 Feb 2005 | Brian said...

GOD. DAMN. IT. I tried to ignore the bitching about dirty words, which this site seems to get on like every fucking post, and encourage some conversation about a philosophy that products should work.

Fuck that, I guess.

Swearing is something some people do. Some people don't. Most people don't give two shits either way. If you don't like swearing, don't read the sites of people who swear. YOU HAVE THE POWER. Professional? Clearly, if it doesn't interfere with their amount of work, it doesn't matter.

Curse on, bitches.

NOW, does anybody else have any thoughts on the idea that the more things you cram into a product, the worse a job it does of doing those things? I've been shopping for a new cell phone, and I can't find any that focus on the phone part. Not-a-one. What's the logic behind stuff like this?

20 Feb 2005 | Phfp said...

There is a big difference between things performing "properly" and things performing "well". To me, this tagline doesn't say much.

20 Feb 2005 | Matt Turner said...

Elliot, which press statement said that?

http://www.macromedia.com/macromedia/proom/pr/

20 Feb 2005 | Amy Sakurai said...

I own a Dyson. It works well, roughly as advertised. There are some pros, which include the fact that there are no bags to buy. There are some cons, which include the fact that emptying the canister doesn't seem like a clean, dust-free operation.

I do think of the Dyson as being the Macintosh of vacuum cleaners. Heck, even their brochures look Apple-like. I imagine that in a head-to-head battle against Oreck, the results would be something like a G5 vs Pentium IV PC battle -- some advantages given to both sides. But that's just my imagination.

Durability? My 24-year-old Kenmore vacuum is largely plastic, too, and it still runs fine.

Regarding Consumer Reports: I stopped subscribing to Consumer Reports long ago. Even though they are an unbiased testing organization, I realized they don't have a clue as to what they are doing. As an avid bicyclist and Macintosh owner, I was appalled by the testing criteria they used to evaluate personal computers and bicycles. The results of their testing (this was many years ago) was nonsensical. They might work from the general outlook of a consumer, but they don't understand nuances, specialty technologies, and durability issues, among other things.

20 Feb 2005 | jsp said...

Oh Jesus, all these people with the whining about profanity should just wait for "CleanFlicks" to make a browser and then they can have automatic censoring. But that's not what they really want. Just like all those people who think that every minute of TV on every channel should be "family friendly" -- they don't just want to prevent their children from seeing something, they want to prevent everyone from seeing it. What happened to recognizing there are adults, too?

And as for this:

Also, because of the wonder that is Google, your grandchildren will be reading everything you type into these little form fields.

Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break. First of all, Google is a search engine and not some sort of magic 40 year caching system. And even if it was, so what? I'm not allowed to be "young and irresponsible"? Every word I say, every act I participate in, has to be judged through the lens of what my potential future offspring's offspring will think of it? That's truly sick.

I truly hope that my grandchildren won't be such miserable little punks that they will go all Ned Flanders on me because they come across the word "fuck".

Don't we have bigger issues to worry about?

P.S. We have "the Animal", and it's great. I also note that of 390 reviewers on Amazon, the average is 5/5 stars.

21 Feb 2005 | Jason said...

Absolutely obsurd. The value of the post was in no-way impacted by utilizing a noun in proper context.

I truely believe this is what seperates a good and bad client. Clients who bring thier personal ego's, pre-conceived ideas about what is professional losing sight of the end result: something working as it should.

22 Feb 2005 | Sebhelyesfarku said...

True, Dyson is like Apple, selling overpriced, overdesigned, underperforming products, accompanied with a made-up cult with the usual "me against the entire world" theme.

22 Feb 2005 | Dave Woodward said...

(In response to Sebhelyesfarku)
I researched the Dyson vacuums quite a bit before purchasing one. Someone show me a vacuum cleaner where I don't have to buy another damned thing for it after I buy it, that has decent suction, that has auto-height adjustment (if you have hardwood floors with area rugs you know why this is useful), a nifty little clutch on the belt so that if the bar gets clogged with hair (they all do) it *gasp* stops spinning BEFORE breaking the belt, a built-in hose and wand that effectively works like a canister vac when extended, and that has HEPA filtration and is allergy friendly.

You'll find some like the Oreck that have powerful suction and no accessories (you'll find you need hoses if you have dogs and cats to get the hair out from behind your DVDs). You'll find some cheap ones like Hoovers and Eurekas whose belts break all the time (again with the animal hair, or oriental rug fringes). You'll find some that are bagless but still require filter changes ($20+) and have crap suction.

With the Dyson it is the sum of the parts and its wonderful engineering that make it cool (try disassembling the intake tract on your vacuum in 6 seconds). It might not have the highest suction of all. It might not be suitable for an IBM clean-room. And sure the plastic flexes, thats how it keeps from cracking or breaking!

It seems to me all the people who talk bad about the Dyson are marketing averse, and only choose one thing to use to put it down. They don't address all of the features in comparison with their own brand of vacuum they have had for 10,20,30,insert-exagerated-number-here years. And if you don't understand why an Apple computer is better (its the TCO thing, you rarely ever have to spend time ($) to fix it, tweak it, or money to repair it) than an e-Machine, and why the Dyson is better than a $200 Eureka, at least save your lame straw-man comparisons for politics or something.

22 Feb 2005 | Amy Sakurai said...

Well said, Dave! :D

04 Mar 2005 | Roger said...

Dysons are fragile and were rated among the lowest for reliability by the UK Consumers' Association.

The cyclone dust extractor has been a standard piece of engineering equipment for...oh, 150 years. OK, Dyson stuck it in a hoover, but what the ads fail to mention is you still need little (expensive) filters to catch the small particles.

And he also sacked a shedload of people 10 miles away from where I live and relocated the manufacturing operation to the Far East so he could make even more money.

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