Fly on the wall: “if the scientists ever cross a rat and an octopus, we’re screwed” 23 Mar 2006
39 comments Latest by Mario
Some of the activity this week at our internal 37signals Campfire chat room:
David said guiding his parents remotely through an isight “is the most infuriating experience ever. I have immense respect for anyone who can work a computer hotline. I was ready for suicide a few times. but its also an interesting experience just how much we take for granted.” Marcel said, “it used to make me soooo frustrated to have to guide my parents to do stuff on their computer. i had to resort to the most basic instruction set. i couldn’t say ‘browser’ or ‘close your browser’…i would have to say, ‘in the top right corner of that big rectangle on your screen, there are three buttons, one of which is red.’” Jason chimed in: “My parents call windows ‘squares’ which made it REALLY confusing for me the first time I tried to help them and buttons are ‘ovals’ or ‘things.’”
Wise Ryan gave Marcel some advice on dealing with needy support requesters: “one trick with people who keep writing you is to get shorter and shorter with your response…they feed on the energy they get back from you” He also told me that sometimes it’s better not to explain decisions: “when you give people a reason, the next thing they do is come up with why that reason isn’t good, or how to get around it, ad nauseum…until finally you say ‘listen, we really don’t care about that right now, ok?’”
This photo of Jason, David, and Ryan from Businessweek drew some fire from Marcel: “ryan is looking through the camera into its soul…little known fact: jason’s parents trained him gruelingly from a young age with those face muscle excerising videos so he’d grow up to one day have a killer million dollar smile…ryan’s parents, on the other hand, made him read Schopenhauer.”
Jason pondered why companies with lots of VC cash still churn out bad designs and said, “Money can buy talent but it can’t buy you passion, motivation, or curiosity.”
David is The Hottest Hacker on Earth according to Wired which is “fucking hilariously awesome” according to Marcel. Jason loved the Wired piece but doesn’t understand why Wired hasn’t done a huge piece on Rails yet. David’s response: “Give them 6 months ;)” Meanwhile, David said he’s gearing up for his next career as a Gap model. Marcel responded, “Now excuse me while i go rent out some warehouse space near the office for your ego…”
Marcel: “btw, oranges are awesome. beautiful and delicious. let’s make something as beautiful and delicious as an orange.”
We know someone (who wishes to remain unnamed) that had a meeting with a VC guy last week. The VC dude actually said this sentence: “My goal wants to be to help you accelerate what your strategic intent is.”
We discussed Google’s new finance site. Some comments: “i think it’s cool how they linked the news articles with the graph.” “What I like about it is that you can just enter a company name in the box. you don’t need to know the stock symbol. took like 10 years to get that. amazing.” “i like how when you scroll the graph, the news story section auto scrolls too…also, the rollovers in the Management section are nice.” And we wish good luck to these Google moderators: “It will also link to discussions on Web logs about specific companies. The service will offer its own bulletin-board discussions on financial topics. The boards will be moderated by a new group of Google employees hired to ensure the quality of the discussions…”
We received this nice letter:
I wanted to drop a note to let you know that you’re doing good work and helping your users produce measurable results.
In October I started a new position as a UI designer. Like many new hires, I was eager to make a good first impression on my boss and my colleagues. After much reading about Basecamp, I signed up for the free level. As my responsibilities ballooned, I quickly landed on the $24 / month plan.
My six month review was last week, and I received a 10% raise, plus some other company-specific rewards. Without Basecamp, there is NO WAY I could have kept up the pace and performed as well at such a consistent manner. Needless to say, the $144 I’ve paid for Basecamp has paid for itself.
Someone started a Basecamp forum called “Why Doesn’t the API have Feature xxx??? I need xxx!” in order to “get the ball rolling.”
Marcel and David are excited for Dabble (video). Jason thinks Dabble looks nice in the demo but thinks the UI is messy and confusing (“the UI just feels really heavy — more chrome than data”). David says general DB software has to be complex to a certain degree.
Jason (who went to school in Tuscon): “man, listening to Calexico takes me back to AZ” Marcel: “yeah…always makes me feel like i’m driving down a desert highway at sunset…remote and eerie.”
Jason and Jamis dig laser levels. Marcel and I like it when you just get to use the nails left by old tenants.
You hear weird things on TV. Marcel heard this on a Dish network ad: “Nothing is worse than paying too much for television”. Sure, the war in Iraq, the genocide in Darfur, and the destruction of Katrina may be bad…but nothing is worse than paying too much for television. Also: “I know you. You have rheumatoid arthritis” is the first line in an ad I saw for some prescription drug. Whoa, I had no idea. I am now considering moving to Florida.
Jason changed the room’s quote/topic to: “You can accomplish anything you want in life provided you don’t mind who gets the credit.” -Harry S Truman
Sam uploaded this “People-ready?” image and said, “it’s the ‘FIND OUT’ that makes me laugh.”
Jamis is hooked on cadbury cream eggs…”it’s a good thing they only come out once a year.” Ryan: “those are evil.” Jamis: “evil is an understatement.”
Ryan prefers discussions that focus around “what Could be versus what Should be…people making suggestions always say what SHOULD be done instead of what COULD be done…it’s also good within teams as well to show possibilities and options instead of stomping the foot about necessities.”
Mitch Hedberg and Stephen Wright jokes made the rounds:
MH: I mumble a lot on stage, I’m a mumblerer. But sometimes what I mumble is some insignificant shit. Like I’ll be walking down the street with my friend, and I will have said something, but he didn’t hear me, so he says “What!?” SO I’ll say it again, and again he had not heard me, so he’d say, “What!?” And now by this time I am yelling “That tree is very far away!”
MH: My friend asked me if I wanted a frozen bananna, and I said NO, but I’m gonna want a regular bananna later, so YEAH.
SW: I have a hobby…I have the world’s largest collection of sea shells. I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you’ve seen some of it…
SW: I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, “Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.” He said, “Yes, but not in a row.”
Jason on home renovations: “I’ve got this little old polish guy here doing some work. dude is probably like 60, built like a tank. and he’s working with this mexican guy. they don’t speak each other’s language. and they call each other by their homeland. ‘Poland, can you…’ and ‘Mexico, will you…’ Jamis responded, “haha, agile :)”
Tim O’Reilley was on stage with Bill Gates this week and 37signals was part of one of Tim’s questions. Alas, when question time came, 37signals wasn’t actually mentioned.
Marcel reported there have been over half a million text messages on campfire so far and over 1 million total messages.
Jason noted this blog post about Riya:
Now back to the hard work to building a company. BTW we need to hire some absolute rockstars in Business Development, Finance (a Controller to mind the money), a Revenue Manager (CPC Advertising expert - if you have to ask what CPC is don’t apply…;-), and a few additional researchers for our super smart Riya Labs which is now (unconfirmed) the largest team of computer vision Ph.Ds in any single company in the country.
Jason’s response: “OH GAWD…See what VC does to you? We need to hire Biz Dev, “Revenue Manager” “Controller” ;) unless that’s a joke. I can’t tell anymore.” I don’t think it was a joke.
The Trump baby NY Post cover made me laugh out loud.
File upload limits were discussed and a simple solution was figured out…
Ryan: what are we trying to avoid with a limit? won’t a gigantic file just time out anyway?
Jason: thats’ the problem. “Why didn’t my file transfer work?” “What happened to the file I uploaded” “Why didn’t the upload finish?”
Ryan: less software idea..we could just say there’s a limit. and then if people try something bigger and it works, then good for them
Jason: I like that best. done.
Ryan changed the room’s topic to “Most of the wonderful places in the world were not made by architects but by the people.” -Christopher Alexander
Jason loves this quote: “The Universe is difficult to comprehend because it is obvious” -Albert Einstein
Jamis: “so, I’ve been reading Winnie the Pooh to my son at naptime, and came across this gem today (from Chapter 8 of ‘The House at Pooh Corner’)…Winnie the Pooh was written as much for adults to read as kids, I think :)”…
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet. “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
Finally, there was a completely ridiculous conversation where Jason admitted to ordering a BB gun to hunt rats in his backyard. “They hang really close until I come near so I can hit them from my second floor window and they’ll never know what hit them. I ordered an orange hat too.” We also discussed the remarkable traits of rats (Ryan: “if the scientists ever cross a rat and an octopus, we’re screwed.”). Btw, Jason’s first attempt was throwing boiling water at the rats. “That didn’t work…that was stupid,” according to Jason. He will report back next week when the gun arrives and said he “may stuff the rat head and hang it on my wall.” We eagerly anticipate further reports from Elmer, er, Jason.