You’re reading Signal v. Noise, a publication about the web by Basecamp since 1999. Happy !

THUMB-threadless rollover.png

Rollover menus can be finnicky but the ones at Threadless are very comfortable to use. Overall, Threadless is very disciplined about keeping the front page clean. You can actually read the whole thing. There aren’t any blocks full of links that you have to skip over and copy is kept to a minimum.

Basecamp on Nov 12 2008 8 comments

Carbon Copies: I write dead people

Jason Fried
Jason Fried wrote this on 44 comments

This gets a 10 for creepy and a 10 for clever.

The creepy part

This is a 240 pencil set made from the carbon of a cremated human. Each pencil is foil stamped with the name of the deceased.

The clever part

Only one pencil can be removed at a time. You sharpen the pencil by putting it back in the box. The shavings then occupy the space of the used pencils. Over time the pencil box fills with sharpenings — turning the box into a new urn (it’s filled with the shavings which are made from the cremation).

Designed by Nadine Jarvis. Linked via Marc Ecko.

Then just say it like that

Jason Fried
Jason Fried wrote this on 18 comments

Stream of consciousness rant:

I’ve been in too many meetings, too many conferences, too many discussions where someone goes “I’m having a hard time explaining this or that…” Then they say “I just really want to say this…” And then they say it and it’s clear, concise, and obvious. But it’s as if they aren’t even listening to themselves because they’re right back to thinking about how to say what they just said. Only now they’re back to trying to make it more complicated than it needs to be. They should just say it like they said it a minute ago.

We’re all told to be good listeners when someone else is talking, but we should work on being better listeners when we’re talking. We might find that we’ve already got the answers.

The importance of setting expectations

Jason Fried
Jason Fried wrote this on 49 comments

This week I’m having a new roof put on my house. I did the research, got the quotes, picked a company, and they’re working on it now.

They’ve been at it two days so far, but I’ve already been surprised twice. It reminded me how important it is to set your customer’s expectations.

Day one

They tore off the old roof(s). You can’t see the sky, it’s just the old roofing material—the ceiling is still in place. I had no idea this would make a mess inside the house on the top floor. Paint chips, roof dust through some cracks and removed skylights. I guess I should have assumed, but I’ve never been through this before so I didn’t think much about it.

Would have been nice if the roofing company said…

“Hey, when we tear off the old roof you might get some black dust and paint chips on the top floor. You may want to cover up some of your furniture or other valuables just in case.”

Day two

Out come the blow torches. I didn’t know they’d be torching today. But I’m working from home and wondering what the acrid burning smell is and light smoke filling the house. Now I know.

Would have been nice if they said…

“Hey, today we’re going to be working with torches and toxic materials. Some smoke and fumes may get inside during this process. You may want to leave the house while we’re doing this.”

Day three

I have no idea what’s next. What happens tomorrow? They don’t tell you, they just do it and then you find out.

Would be nice at the end of each day if they said…

“Hey, so far we’ve finished A B and C. Tomorrow we’ll be doing D. Here’s what you can expect.”

Setting expectations is key

I have confidence in their work, but the experience has been soured by the the lack of expectations. Just giving me a feel for what’s gonna happen today and tomorrow would go a long way towards making the experience significantly better.

Is RSS dead to you too? I haven’t used an RSS reader for a year and I haven’t looked back.

Jason Fried on Nov 11 2008 227 answers
AT&T.jpg

All I want in life sometimes is for AT&T to say, “Sarah, you have accumulated so many unused minutes and texts that your next bill is free, since we realize ‘rollover’ means nothing to you. Have a nice day.”

Next best thing: Restructuring of the entire wireless industry so YOU PAY FOR WHAT YOU USE.

Hanson: Still at it and more successful than ever

Jason Fried
Jason Fried wrote this on 17 comments

Gapers Block has a great piece on Hanson, the band.

Hanson is a great case study for the music business and the business business. They’re a group of guys — brothers, no less — who love what they do and don’t care what you think. They’ve built a deeply loyal fan base, they’ve built a great business, and they’ve been able to mobilize their fans to support causes that the band — and their fans — believe in.

And they’ve done all this after being written off and largely ignored.

What I found most impressive about the story is how dedicated they are to their community. They are part of the community, not just facilitators of the community. For example, to promote charity, and their “Walk Around the World” tour, they are walking a mile with their fans before each show. For each mile walked, the band donates one dollar on the walker’s behalf to one of five causes the walker can choose from. That’s just cool.

I think the whole Hanson story is simple one of dedication, product, and patience. They’re dedicated to their music, they put out a solid product, and their patience has allowed them to sustain long-term success. They’ve made it on their own terms on their own schedule.

Sidenote: In a strange set of circumstances involving Ryan Singer and his former employer, I happened to go see a Hanson show at the House of Blues in Chicago a few years ago. I was impressed and thoroughly entertained. I also got a chance to meet the guys and was impressed by their down to earth nature and genuine love for what they get to do every night. They love their music, they love their fans, their fans love them, and their fans love their music. It’s the perfect loop.