Sunspots: The pong edition 37signals 15 Sep 2006

17 comments Latest by nick

iPod is "the Pong of digital music" with "many, many chinks" in its armor according to Zune team
The Zune recipe for success: Be Cool, Know Your Customer, Always Think About the Artist. "We're just starting out. We want to be with those just starting out. In some ways, we're the little guy. We're the independent label. Never mind that the company is ginormous. In the music space, we're nobody."
Hillman Curtis films on designers
If you liked the Paula Scher video linked up here a few weeks back, there are more like it at the Hillman Curtis site. Subjects include Milton Glaser, Pentagram, Sagmeister, and David Carson.
Right/left brain differences are overstated
"The left cerebral hemisphere is supposed to be the coldly logical, verbal and dominant half of the brain, while the right developed a reputation as the imaginative side, emotional, spatially aware but suppressed...[But] researchers have come to see the distinction between the two hemispheres as a subtle one of processing style, with every mental faculty shared across the brain, and each side contributing in a complementary, not exclusive, fashion...There seems no prospect of a return to the old left-right caricatures that inspired so many self-help books exhorting people to liberate their right brains and avoid too much sterile left-brain thinking...It is how the two sides of the brain complement and combine that counts."
Lifehacker's guide to weblog comments
"Build your own online social capital and become a great blog commenter by keeping these simple guidelines in mind before you post."
Almost-forgotten type historian Nicolete Gray and lettering on buildings
"Gray has no hesitation in advancing opinion and scarcely ever qualifies it. It's her opinion and of course it follows ineluctably from the facts...every conclusion seems to be not only the most natural thing in the world but the only conclusion anyone could ever draw. Such are the powers of persuasion involved...Gray found amazing and unique type examples in seemingly every small town in England and many foreign cities."
Steve Jobs' first keynote in 1984
Presentation of the first Mouse, 3.5" Disc and GUI instead a command line. "Steve was very overhelmed by the standing ovations and reactions of the people. The genesis of Apple hype began with this." One more Jobs speech: his commencement address at Stanford in 2005.
I Do Foundation lets you use wedding registry to raise money for charity
"Already have a fondue pot? Give your guests the option to donate to your favorite charity."
Articles by IDEO team members
Includes "Prototyping is the Shorthand of Design" by Tom Kelley, "Interaction Design at IDEO" by Danny Stillion, and "Time for Some Buzz-Kill" by Paul Bennett which "calls for a halt to the nonsensical buzzwords that have overrun branding and marketing, and makes a case for a return to "simple stories" and "truths well told."
Solving "The Unsolvable Math Problem"
"One day In 1939, George Bernard Dantzig, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, arrived late for a graduate-level statistics class and found two problems written on the board. Not knowing they were examples of 'unsolvable' statistics problems, he mistook them for part of a homework assignment, jotted them down, and solved them." [via Joel on Software]
BusinessWeek on Cutting Edge Design
Collection of articles including a fact-filled quiz on cutting-edge-at-the-time inventions from the past century (e.g. paper clip, zipper, Tupperware, etc.).
The origin and meaning of the word "hackneyed"
"Hackney is now just a place-name embedded within London, north-east of the City, but then it was a small village...Hackney horses were widely available and commonly seen, to the extent that they became commonplace and unremarkable. So yet another sense evolved -- for something used so frequently and indiscriminately as to have lost its freshness and interest, hence something stale, unoriginal or trite. The adjective hackneyed communicated this idea from about the middle of the eighteenth century on."

17 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Drew Pickard 15 Sep 06

The random comments from Nick Harmer of Death Cab for Cutie in that Zune article seemed extremely forced and potentially irrelevant.

What does Nick Harmer know about consumer music devices?

Drew Pickard 15 Sep 06

Not that I don’t agree with his comments or anything.

in addition: it still sounds like Microsoft is doing exactly the same thing they were doing before. They’re coming up with all of these huge concepts, like local broadcasting from your Zune, sharing music in real life, etc when I don’t know if there’s really any evidence that anyone would give a flying sh*t about doing that.

People on the train aren’t there to “find and discover new music!” they’re their to get to work with as few hassles as possible.

The only thing MS can do at this point is offer a roughly equal alternative to what Apple has. A simple-as-you-want-it-to-be beautiful no-brainer MP3 player with no-brainer software.

They’re going to get themselves into trouble if they try to over-think this thing and imagine the Zune turning into some sort of super-device that changes our lives for the better …

brad 15 Sep 06

If iPod is the Pong of digital music then Zune must be the Segway.

dandan 15 Sep 06

To this end, one of the first calls the Zune team made was to Seattle’s Sub Pop Records, where they explained Microsoft’s intent to preload the device with 25 music and video selections, hopefully ones that would surprise and intrigue users.

“They were very, very interested in small bands,” says Tony Kiewel, Sub Pop’s head of A&R. “They walked in the door really in love with one band´┐Żand their record hadn’t even come out yet.” That band was CSS, a Brazilian band of four women and a man with a punk-influenced sound.

Like the tracks that you often find preloaded on your brand new mobile/cell phone that get deleted as soon as you fire it up.

dandan 15 Sep 06

To this end, one of the first calls the Zune team made was to Seattle’s Sub Pop Records, where they explained Microsoft’s intent to preload the device with 25 music and video selections, hopefully ones that would surprise and intrigue users.

“They were very, very interested in small bands,” says Tony Kiewel, Sub Pop’s head of A&R. “They walked in the door really in love with one band´┐Żand their record hadn’t even come out yet.” That band was CSS, a Brazilian band of four women and a man with a punk-influenced sound.

Like the tracks that you often find preloaded on your brand new mobile/cell phone that get deleted as soon as you fire it up.

Anonymous Coward 15 Sep 06

For the sake of scientific accuracy, the article about hemispheric localization of function in the brain is not really accurate. It’s true that the two hemispheres generally “share” everything, and they do have separate ways of functioning (the “detail” vs. “overview” idea). However, they also have some functions that are completely different, and localization can be “masked” because of communication between the hemispheres. If you cut the corpus collosum, which connects the two hemispheres, and show somebody a picture in their left visual field, they will be unable to say what it is. This is because the right hemisphere (which interprets signals from the left visual field) has only the most rudimentary language ability.

Interestingly, though, if you ask that person to feel around a pile of objects that “seems right” based on what they saw, they’ll pick up the correct object — and will only be able to say what is is after looking with the right eye.

Anonymous Coward 15 Sep 06

Oh, and to add to that little postscript example: the person would only be able to pick up the appropriate object using the right hand. How cool is that?

Aaron Blohowiak 15 Sep 06

You can also have an entire hemisphere removed (hemispherectomy) and function.

yes, there are differences, but it is not like you do math with only one side and dream with the other.

Chris Griffin 15 Sep 06

“J. Allard ponders how to make Microsoft cool again.”

Microsoft trying to be cool again is like my Mom trying to be cool again. Then again, was Microsoft ever cool?

Also throwing a bunch of “cool” buzzwords from the 40 year old wannabe “hipster” dictionary makes you more of a joke than anything else. I’ve never seen so many forced “cool” buzzwords thrown into an article. “Hipster”, “Wicked!”, “so he’s been checking out music venues like mad”, “edgy”

I also don’t understand pre-loading songs onto the Zune will make somebody want to buy it over an iPod. It reminds me of the software demos that Dell likes to pre-load on to your system when you first buy it that nobody ever uses.

Jamie 15 Sep 06

The thing that I don’t get about Zune is they’re hyping this wi-fi capability. When are you ever in a public space with free wi-fi to “beam” songs to another Zune user. It reminds me of the old Palm handhelds with IR ports — beaming contacts. First of all, you can’t do this at any practical place. Also, I don’t want to be standing there like some dumbsh*t with my Zune in my hand next to another Zune user beaming songs to each other. Wi-Fi is one of those features that sounds like a good idea but is practically useless.

Jamie 15 Sep 06

We’re just starting out. We want to be with those just starting out. In some ways, we’re the little guy. We’re the independent label. Never mind that the company is ginormous. In the music space, we’re nobody.

This quote made me laugh. Yeah, I guess George Lucas is also technically an independent filmaker too…

Anonymous Coward 15 Sep 06

In a hemispherectomy, people are often paralyzed on one side of the body. *Eventually* they may be able to function because of neural plasticity — one side takes over the functions of the other. In normal people, though, it is quite true that there are gross divisions, though they don’t really matter because the hemispheres can communicate. The best way to determine localization of function is with a corpus callosotomy becuase of the minimal effects of synaptic/neural plasticity. Or you can just watch different parts of the brain light up in response to different stimuli and activities.

Wrd 15 Sep 06

You ‘member that one video spoof that had Microsoft making the packaging for the iPod?

Zune seems just like that.

Steve B 16 Sep 06

Love the blog commenting article. Blogs with quality active commenters are worth so much more. The 2 way
conversational style of blog that we’re seeing more and more of is so much richer and more balanced than a blog without comments or poor commenters. I guess I would add a guideline tho’: keep comments short and to the point.

Raymond Brigleb 18 Sep 06

Hearing iPod called the “Pong of Digital Music” is akin to Oasis proclaiming they were “better than the Beatles.”

Everybody knows it’s BS, but it makes a good headline.

nick 18 Sep 06

Yeah, we’re the little guy, but if we have to we can lowball a product’s price and make negative dollars on it for years and years and years, just to cannibalize somebody else’s market. Hm.