James Surowiecki on why feature creep is so hard to stop
“Although consumers find overloaded gadgets unmanageable, they also find them attractive. It turns out that when we look at a new product in a store we tend to think that the more features there are, the better. It’s only once we get the product home and try to use it that we realize the virtues of simplicity.”
Panel of CEOs and experts pick the best business books of all time
“The responses ranged far and wide: Military metaphors popped up occasionally, with Sun Tzu’s The Art of War rearing its age-old head. But books about biology were also surprisingly prevalent, not only for their insight into how business environments imitate the natural world but also, several executives said, because understanding biology helped them appreciate the concept of randomness.”
How does Bill Gates feel about about the John Hodgman character in those Mac ads?
Gates: “Yeah, I’m not gonna comment on someone else’s ad.” Garfield: “OK, well, Bill Gates, thank you so much for joining us.” Gates: (Silence)
The value of sketching
“Sketches, he argues, are quick, inexpensive, disposable, plentiful, offer minimal detail, and suggest and explore rather than confirm. (It should be noted that he doesn’t limit “sketches” to pen on paper—a sketch might be digital or three-dimensional.) The value of sketching is less in the artifacts themselves than in the cognitive process of working through dozens of ideas, of considering as many options as possible, and allowing each option to raise new questions…Sketching is less expensive than prototyping, and far less expensive than trying to fix problems late in the development cycle.”
Ajax violating expectations?
“The availability of Ajax technology is causing some developers to diverge from the native look and feel of the web in favor of a user interface style I call ‘desktop app in a web browser’...When you build a ‘desktop in the web browser’-style application, you’re violating users’ unwritten expectations of how a web application should look and behave. This choice may have significant negative impact on learnability, pleasantness of use, and adoption. The fact that you can create web applications that resemble desktop applications does not imply that you should; it only means that you have one more option and subsequent set of trade-offs to consider when making design decisions.” [via OR]
Ask the Wizard
Great blog by FeedBurner founder Dick Costolo. Includes very detailed posts about running a biz, funding, etc.
What the Agile Manifesto left out
“If you snoop around my house, you’ll notice that there’s a silverware drawer that’s rather tidy and a junk drawer that’s not. It’s much easier to find a spoon than a battery. There’s a reason for that: my family and I look for spoons several times a day, but for batteries much less often. Things you use often should be easy to find. Things you do often should be easy to do. Properties like this, which Gabriel collectively calls “habitability,” can go against software principles.”
How do they create patterns in a baseball field grass?
“The designs are created through a process called lawn striping…Many professional groundskeepers use old-fashioned reel mowers to cut a stadium’s grass. Attached just behind the blades of the mower is a lawn roller that bends the grass down…Whatever pattern you make is revealed by the light shining off of the bent grass.”
Internet Radio Equality Act
“The Internet Radio Equality Act (H.R. 2060) now has over 80 Congressional co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Your calls and emails are making a difference. This bill does provide reasonable royalties for artists and their labels. We still need more co-sponsors and can only do it with your help. Support this legislation, act now!”
World Clock Meeting Planner
Make sense of time zone differences when planning conference calls, etc.
About Summize’s ratings display
“It’s similar to the star rating you’ve seen on other sites, but reveals so much more. For example, when you see a rating of two-and-a-half starsshould you conclude the product is… average? Not really…In fact, products with sharply divided reviews are often the most interesting products — they are anything but vanilla. The so-called ‘wisdom of crowds’ is as much about disagreement as it is about agreement. A world of two-and-a-half stars would be a pretty boring place.”
Working at Google vs. working at Meetup
“At Meetup, there are no options when flushing the toilet.”
A home that heats and cools itself
“Mr. Sykes, who has built 80 of these homes, says that he was inspired by the way the earth’s own atmosphere keeps the planet at a relatively constant comfortable temperature despite the frigidity of space. It occurred to him that a house could have its own atmosphere, which might work the same way. As a side benefit, he says, one Enertia house has an environmental impact akin to taking 50 cars off the road.”
Grandmas of the world share their special recipes
“What’s Cooking Grandma? is a project to create a cookbook of the grandmothers of the world sharing their special recipes.” Includes “Tips on filming a grandma.” [via RD]