The Filter (week of July 21) 37signals 21 Jul 2006

3 comments Latest by Steph Mineart

Interesting comments posted this week at Signal vs. Noise:

Sunspots: The modernist edition

Chance B 19 Jul 06
Here’s an interesting piece of news on Dell streamlining their rebates and pricing to backup the “Paradox of Choice” article.
Dell cutting rebates to streamline pricing
As we all know, trying to figure out the “real” price of something online is a complete pain in the ass. Throw in rebates, incentives and discounts and you have an utterly confused customer.

No more “more” pages?

John Zeratsky 19 Jul 06
Any navigational system for long lists needs to include two things: 1) landmarks and 2) a consistent positioning interface.

Number 1 is about remembering where something is and returning there. Like, “oh, I saw that result up there by the top of the page.” This matters whether pagination or scrolling is used.

But in order to navigate landmarks, you need number 2: an interface for indicating position. Pagination does a decent job — even if the page “names” are not particularly meaningful, you can easily get a sense of where you are in the list. (E.g. page 1 of 1000 = lots more to go.)

Endless scrollbars totally screw up number 2. It’s impossible to tell where you are in the context of the list, how long the list is, or how to get back to something in the list.

Christian Romney 20 Jul 06
I dig the endless scroll. The whole point of the application is that it does the same old thing differently. I am not expecting it to work in the same way as every other website out there in all respects. The Humanized Reader is opinionated software. If you like it use it, if you don’t there’s bloglines, or Rojo, or Google, or … well, you get the picture.

Browser selectors in CSS

Rafael Lima 19 Jul 06
For those who want to use this new solution: CSS Browser Selector

Ta-da List gets drag and drop

James Wheare 21 Jul 06
This is exactly the sort of lo-tech no-nonsense fix I expect from 37signals. If they implemented all these niggling features, we’d have an app that’s bloated and confused. Sure, it may be quite a simple feature but these things add up. If I may be presumptuous for just a moment… When deciding whether or not to implement this feature, I expect the reasoning goes something like this:

Is this feature essential to creating and managing lists?
Is it an annoyance?
Is there a workaround?
Is it inelegant?
Is it unbearable?
Does it get in the way of the core vision for this app?
Patience :)

Getting Real book sales update and new free chapters

JPosner 20 Jul 06
FYI: The New York Times had an article on self-publishing today.

Arnie McKinnis 20 Jul 06
To hell with traditional publishing — I’m waiting for the iTunes of books — buy a chapter at a time…this JV was about delivering electronic versions of college text books, allowing students to purchase and print a chapter at a time (or the whole book) right there in the copy shop.

Bezos Expeditions invests in 37signals

Bill Litfin 20 Jul 06
What he can do is provide advice because he’s likely made a lot of mistakes, learned from them and can help 37S avoid them. Additionally - he scaled a business from something quite modest to something quite ubiquitous. Maybe 37S wants to scale and scale smartly?

Tim O’Reilly 20 Jul 06
This is a very good move. FWIW, of all the companies that I consider leaders of “Web 2.0”, Amazon is the one that I tell people to study the most. Unlike say, Google, who discovered a couple of big things about the internet that gave them extraordinary leverage, Amazon has gutted it out, through dint of persistence and consistent innovation in involving their users to build their product. That’s a testament to real vision on Jeff’s part.

When I look back on my history at O’Reilly, I started with very much the corporate philosophy that Jason has espoused for 37signals — stay small, stay focused on mission, keep control so it doesn’t become just about the money. And I’ve succeeded as a result in remaining both successful, and I hope interesting and innovative for many years. But of all the things I regret, the biggest is not getting help from more experienced people when I was young and inexperienced. In particular, I regret that I never answered the letter I got from Warren Buffet (no kidding) when I wrote to him exploring whether he’d be interested in investing — not because I needed the money but because I needed the advice. For whatever reason (and I can’t think what it was through the mists of time), I never got back to him. Jason didn’t make that mistake!

Sunspots: The optimism edition

Dan Grossman 21 Jul 06
Oh do I wish people would spend more time thinking about the questions they post online. I frequent a programming forum and some of the posts by eager PHP newbies are quite aggravating. I love to help people, to show them algorithms they might not have come up with, to write sample code.

The problem is that half the questions are written in broken english or teen-leet-speak, or don’t provide anywhere near enough information to be answered. Some people just post the URL of their site where they’ve installed someone’s premade software, call it broken, and ask why. They don’t even name the software they installed!

I love when I come across someone who posts a question with a snippet of code that’s not working, and a full description of what they provide as input (for example, a database schema or sample data), what they want as output, and what the current code gives instead. I’ll spend a long time helping those people.

What Steve Jobs is like in a meeting

Anonymous 21 Jul 06
I don’t think that anyone who knows the least bit about Steve Jobs would deny that he’s arrogant, but a jackass is totally misunderstanding what he’s all about. He’s arrogant because he knows he has a vision, and in the last 8 years he’s proven that his vision kicks major ass, that his sense for design and user experience is superior to pretty much anyone else’s on the planet, and that his way of going about such things works really well.

Yes, it’s tough as hell to be the guy opposite him as he criticizes you in more ways you could ever imagine, but if you’re any bit confident, you’ll realize that he just gave you the best advice and tips you’ll get in years.

3 comments so far (Jump to latest)

xian 22 Jul 06

Sorry to be off-topic but is down (or is it just me).

Don Wilson 23 Jul 06

It’s just you.

Steph Mineart 24 Jul 06

Regarding arrogance, there’s a quote I’ve had stuck in my mind for years, from the copy of a Nike ad (of all things.)

“Passion is not Arrogance. You ever hear that story about Babe Ruth pointing towards the fence before he belted a home run exactly where he said it would? No one knows if it’s true or not; it’s like a myth. But man, you sure want to believe it happened. You want to believe that someone could have that much faith in themselves, in what they do, in what they’re capable of, that they’d guarantee they’re going to do something and then go ahead and do it.”