Fly on the Wall: “Eggnog just sounds disgusting.” Matt 06 Oct 2006

26 comments Latest by Erik

Some of the activity this week at our internal 37signals Campfire chat room:

Mark noted the lack of offsite work possibilities on the job board and commented, “I’m continually surprised that more companies aren’t willing to consider telecommuters, especially on the job board. My feeling is that you can’t trust the person you’re hiring to get the job done without being under your thumb, you’re probably not hiring the right person.”

“The quality of a speaker is inversly proportional to the number of slides they have”
Marcel went to Edward Tufte’s one-day course

Ryan S.
it’s cool to see him speak also just because he’s such a clear thinker
Ryan S.
and he doesn’t lean on slides and all that
Marcel M.
yeah. i love me a clear thinker.
Ryan S.
it’s also an example of how much it’s possible to know your craft
Marcel M.
i’ve gotten the impression that the quality of a speaker is inversly proportional to the number of slides they have
Marcel M.
when you have deep understanding, you can just *speak*
Ryan S.
Marcel M.
or, when you have high resolution, you can fit everything into your words ;)
Ryan S.

At a recent photoshoot, Jason was impressed with the photographer’s Polaroid 690 which folds up flat. “So damn cool. Has SONAR auto focus. Takes razor sharp shots too. Really impressive. They don’t make them anymore, but you can find them on eBay sometimes for about $400 or so.”

Polaroid 690

New health care
We’re implementing a new health care program.

Jason F.
Got all the health insurance info and costs
Jason F.
We’ll review this this weekend and we’ll let everyone know what we’re doing next week
Matt L.
almost makes me wanna break something.
Jason F.
ML — preexisting conditions are NOT covered for 12 months so you may want to wait on that ;)
Jason F.
Matt L.
<- puts down asian bird, week old spinach, & hypodermic needle. soon fellas, soon.

Jamis noted some weird terms in the documentation…

Jamis B.
weird terminology here
Jamis B.
"Dental PPO plans are available on a stand-alone basis for groups with 10+ lives"
Jamis B.
Jason F.
Jamis B.
so one cat plus 1 programmer ought to cover it

And check out this confusing information display used to show pricing:

health doc

Er, what?

Snack time
Why the need for improved health care? It could be due to excessive consumption of cracker jacks, ice cream, and eggnog.

Jason F.
hot damn, cracker jacks are good
Jason F.
old timey treat with modern day punch!
Marcel M.
i’ll tell you what else is good, Creme Brule Hagen Daaz
Jamis B.
Marcel M.
so funny imagining you pounding eggnog from a carton
Jamis B.
(WITHOUT alcohol, marcel)
Jamis B.
I actually dilute it heftily with milk
Jamis B.
about a half-cup of eggnog with a cup or two of milk
Jamis B.
just enough to get that eggnog taste, without coating the inside of my mouth
Jason F.
eggnog just /sounds/ disgusting
Jason F.

Jason: “At the MIT thing one statement I heard really hit home. And I think it’s something we aim for: ‘People don’t want software, they want outcomes.’ Basically the sooner we can get people to outcomes, the better.”

New Campfire tour video
Jason posted a new Campfire tour video. Marcel liked the delivery of the narration: “Good natural talking flow. When someone’s talking is perfect i zone out because your brain shuts off when something isn’t a conversation.”

Along the way, Jason debated what title he should use to describe himself in the video.

Jason F.
do you guys think I should say "President of 37signals" or just "from 37signals" in the intro?
Jason F.
Do you think it gives the tour a little more weight saying I’m the President of 37signals?
Jason F.
sort of like, here’s a guided tour from the president?
Jason F.
(as silly as that sounds)
Mark I.
I think President is fine.
Marcel M.
i don’t mind it either way. the fact that there are only 8 people in the company makes President not seem quite as exotic because it’s assumed that the president will be sharing in more of the work than he would be, if, say, he was just a figure head at some huge corporation.
David H.
I think it sounds a little stuffy
David H.
A president is someone who wears a suit
David H.
and dictates to his secretary
Jason F.
wondered if you were trying a product and you heard that if you’d feel a little more connected to the product
Jason F.
because the "prez" is showing it off
Jamis B.
as strange as it sounds, I think I would
Jamis B.
versus "here’s a demo by joe programmer"
Ryan S.
i like president actually
Jamis B.
it’s like seeing Steve Jobs demo a new product, rather than the guy that developed the product
Jason F.
to me it means that the prez cares enough to do the demos himself
Ryan S.
it shows that people are really behind the product
Ryan S.
and i don’t think president means a suit. president means a focused point of responsibility

Do not call list

David H.
btw, I can’t believe the amount of phone spam you get on landlines :(
Jamis B.
you need to get your number on the federal do-not-call list
Jamis B.
made all the difference in the world for me
Jamis B.
Jamis B.
in the meantime, be sure and tell every telemarketer that calls that you want to be added to their do not call list

Design evolution
old phoneSome funny pics of big old school cell phones had Marcel wondering if the original iPods will look as silly as these cell phones 15 years from now. David thinks so, “Just check the first iPod of 5 years ago. Compare it to the nano and the difference is almost as bad as the phones.”

And never the twain shall meet
The Idaho and NYC factions of 37signals have yet to meet.

Jamis B.
I’ve been a signal for a year and a half and I STILL haven’t ever met Matt in person
Mark I.
He’s avoiding you.
Matt L.
JB, are you sure i actually exist?
Matt L.
[SPOILER!] i may be like bruce willis in the sixth sense.
Jamis B.
actually, I’m not. I think you’re a bot on campfire, programmed by ryan

Mark labelled this “the most disturbing comment on SvN ever” (from The ins and outs of 37signals):


26 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Noah Winecoff 06 Oct 06

Ha! This post was very amusing.

Jacob Fugal 06 Oct 06

Blech, 20-30% dilution? C’mon, Jamis, you need to go half-and-half for the sweet spot. It still breaks up the coating fats but the taste is still strong enough to matter. :)

Kenn Christ 06 Oct 06

Real eggnog doesn’t come from a store, much less a milk carton. Real eggnog is made at home with nothing but eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, bourbon, and cognac.

Which reminds me, Xmas is only a couple months away. It’s a holiday tradition around my house.

Jamis 06 Oct 06

Kenn: I never claimed to be a purist. :) To be honest, I like the taste of the eggnog that comes in a carton better than anything I’ve ever managed to make. But then again, perhaps I’ve just never managed to find a recipe that works for me. If you’ve got a winner, please share!

BS&S 06 Oct 06

I grew up with 60/40 EggNog to Ginger Ale.

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it… then you can knock it.

Steven Krein 06 Oct 06

Jason - nice new tour of campfire. What software did you use to do the tour?

Aaron Blohowiak 06 Oct 06

How about “Comrade” Jason ? With your “health care” and “serving” the long tail, you’re practically a pinko.


Mo 06 Oct 06

Obviously, Mark’s head is in the gutter.

Mark Gallagher 06 Oct 06

Marcel, Did you find Tufte a bit annoying?

I attended his one day course a couple of years back, and reading his first three book I thought - amazing, this guy is a god. But now, looking back and reading his fourth book, I see a lot of repitition in his themes, and I’m not feeling the magic.

What do you think ?


Joe Ruby 06 Oct 06

Matt L.


I’m on the National Do Not Call Registry. Now the only scumbags that spam call my phone are POLITICIANS who are campaigning. I guess they’re exempt or something. Of course.

Tim 06 Oct 06

That funny old school cell phone pic above is actually Martin Cooper demonstrating a DynaTAC phone (circa 1983?). He is credited with inventing the cell phone, and I was struck by his insipiration: “People want to talk to other people - not a house, or an office, or a car. Given a choice, people will demand the freedom to communicate wherever they are, unfettered by the infamous copper wire.”

Aristotle Pagaltzis 07 Oct 06

Re: president:

I would have used “head of 37Signals.” Less stuffy, conveys the same weight.

Jeff Koke 07 Oct 06

Tufte repeats the same themes because they are universal themes. He’s just discovered some very basic truths about the visual display of quantitative information and has shared them in as many ways as possible. Don’t fault the man for repetitiveness. Praise him for his insight and move on to something else.

Mb. 07 Oct 06

Sorry guys, I’m a Polaroid geek. The 690 is cool, but it’s not the camera in the photos in your post. That’s an older Model 3, which only has manual focus.

And if you’re interested in Polaroid SX-70 folding cameras, you can get them on ebay MUCH cheaper than $400. I just bought one this week (my fourth) for just over 50 Euro. Just search for SX-70 and you’ll find all sorts of stuff under $400.

dan 07 Oct 06


What software did you use to record the campfire tour? I used to use camtasia on my PC, but recently switched to a mac. Thanks!


JF 07 Oct 06

Dan, I snapped the movies with Snapz pro then used Camtasia (via Parallels running on a MacBook Pro) to splice them together, record the audio, add the intro and ending static screens, add the transitions, and export the movie as Flash.

Nathan 07 Oct 06

Hilarious post. I especially liked…

“Jamis noted some weird terms in the documentation…
Jamis B.
weird terminology here
Jamis B.
“Dental PPO plans are available on a stand-alone basis for groups with 10+ lives”
Jamis B.
Jason F.
Jamis B.
so one cat plus 1 programmer ought to cover it”

In fact, my pizza landed on my keyboard because of it :(

gwg 07 Oct 06

The cheat code for unlimited insurance is:

A A B B Up Up Down Down Left Right A B Start

That should give you enough lives to get the best rate possible.

bernd 08 Oct 06

> i’ve gotten the impression that the quality
> of a speaker is inversly proportional
> to the number of slides they have

Does this mean that Lawrence Lessig is a lousy speaker?
I doubt it.


Matth 08 Oct 06

From the Lawrence Lessig school of presentations…

Lots of slides and brilliant, whether you agree with the statement or not.

Anonymous 08 Oct 06

Looks like someone is out doing 37signals.

* Offline Synce of Web App.
* Crazy simple AJAX
* Amazing calendar, maybe the best on the web right now.

Jake Walker 09 Oct 06

I watched 3 minutes of that presentation at (switching to a few points) … slides seemed totally superfolous and very distracting. It obviously takes talent to be able to talk and run such a coordinated slide show, but I don’t think the slides themselves added anything, at least for the few minutes I watched. Instead, I found them distracting.

I don’t think there’s a problem using slides to illustrate a visual example — to show a website screenshot, or a website in action, to show a video, to cue some multimedia — but using bullet points to repeat what you are saying offers nothing to the audience. Instead, it usually means the audience is suffering through a speech being given with the presenters back to the crowd, reading along with the powerpoint outline. Even if this isn’t the case, bullet points — 3 words at a time or 100 words at a time — adds nothing to a presentation for me.

MH 09 Oct 06

> Looks like someone is out doing 37signals.

Looks very interesting but I don’t think they’re competing with 37signals.

> Crazy simple AJAX


Nathan Rosenberg 09 Oct 06

I thought the “prez” conversation is a great example of the kind of “religious” conversation you don’t want to have. In that conversation, everyone expressed what they “believed” was the best wording. I much prefer to test and have some results to compare.

Test “from 37Signals” and “President of 37Signals” on the page and see if more people watch the clip with either.

MM 09 Oct 06

Does this mean that Lawrence Lessig is a lousy speaker? I doubt it.

The footnote to the rule which wasn’t mentioned in the post is that extremes on either side of the spectrum can be an exception. So tons of slides in a lightnighting talk don’t necessarily detract from the quality of the speaker.

Erik 09 Oct 06

My understanding of the do-not call registry is that it applies only to commercial entities. Charities and PACs—or people that are just asking for money, not trying to sell something—are exempt. Those groups are almost more annoying.

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