What does this button do?

Toyota Corolla

toyota-btn Here is a panel of switches on the door of a Toyota Corolla.

There is a square button at the top right, next to the door-lock button, that confuses me.

The image on the button appears to be a car door with an ‘X’ through the window. And there is a red band that encircles the button which is hidden when the button is pressed down. These signals tell the user something.

What does it do?

OK, the ‘X’ is telling me something about the window. Is it telling me that when the button is engaged, the windows will be disabled from going up and down, no matter which window button is pressed? Or can the windows still be operated from the driver’s panel?

(When activated, the button disables every window switch in the car.)

And which windows does it effect?

If I had to guess, I’d say just the ones in the back seat.

(Nope. Passenger and back seat windows.)

The red band must indicate when the button is engaged. But does visibility signal “warning, the windows can go up and down” or “engaged, windows cannot go up or down”?

(When the red band is not visible, the windows are no longer operational.)

Subaru

suburu-btn Here’s Subaru’s switch.

Ok, no red band but same type of button. Down must mean engaged. But it’s still unclear which windows.

The lack of a red band helps clarify in understanding when the button is engaged; depressed signals engagement.

 

BMW

bmw-btn Here’s BMW’s switch

Ok. There’s a light that glows when the button is pressed. This must indicate engagement. Seems clear.

The button is grouped with the buttons for the rear windows.

Yep. It locks the back seat windows.

 

Each of these implementations require trial and error on the part of the user. Once it’s learned, the hope is that the knowledge will stick in their mind forever. In this instance the cost is low; a few seconds of confusion and a moment of testing. But bad design is bad design.

Notes from The Complacent Class by Tyler Cowen

• Kids are put and encouraged into catatonic states, via drugs or use of technology devices such as phones and tv. Decades ago kids played outside and were active and played. Now if they’re hyper we say they have ADHD and drug them up like they’re suppose to act like 50 year olds.
• We legalized marijuana, a drug that makes you calm and lazy over LSD, a drug that opens your mind to new possibilities and ideas. The 60’s were about pushing ideas forward and change. Today it’s about, effectively, doing nothing.
• Entrepreneurship has fallen by 65% since 1980
• There is a high probability of a “great reset.” We’re so complacent that one day like a bottled steam engine things will explode and boil over. Crime will rise violence will rise and schism between rich and poor with be starker than today.
• Moving is rooted in change.
• Books and movies in the 60’s were about travel and adventure and seeing the world. Today they’re heavily about dysfunctional people or people with quirks in Brooklyn or the suburbs who are not happy or have some minor struggle and not entirely happy with their lives. “There are more mentions of espresso than the settling of the frontier or of moving to another state to shake up the unhappy routine of one’s daily life.”
• There is not nearly as much turnover at companies as there used to be. This means those who want to move have a harder time since there are less openings. (Companies are also willing to do more with less; fewer hires. Companies with high turnover like Amazon are examples of bad work environments.)
• With hiring rates declining people are staying at jobs they’re less happy at. A 10% increase of people staying at jobs for more than five years since 1998.
• The similarities between places should be taken into account as to reasoning why people aren’t moving. Places are becoming and more and more like each other. E.g. There are many places with trendy restaurants and hip coffee shops and enough technology companies to satisfy one’s need, should these be their criteria.
• “If the point is simply that life today is pretty good for many (but not all) of us, Gates and Andreesen are right. But by most metrics economic opportunity is down and living standards, although they’ve advanced, are growing more slowly than in the past. For the most part, the American economy is more static than it was several decades ago, and that remains one of the most underreported stories of our time.”
• “Four-year college graduates earned higher starting salaries in 2000 than they do today, by about seven to eight percent.”

Notes from The Design of Everyday Things by Don A. Norman

• Visceral, behavioral, and reflective response and memory. If we have positive visceral response but the behaviorally experience is poor our reflection has to weigh the two and decide what kind of experience it is we had and what we’ll have in the future.
• Visceral response is important. Look at method soap. It was created to sell based of people’s visceral response to it. It looks good and people quickly know it will look good on their sink.
• Strong password requirements increases the likelihood of a breach because people hate remembering or can’t remember long passwords. So what do they do? They tape them to their monitor or create a file on their desktop or put them in their wallet. All places they are much less secure than in someone’s head.
• Page 118. The author was confused by a two-button remote used to advance slides during a presentation. The buttons where one on top of the other. He felt they should be side by side; forward and backward. He felt up and down were wrong. But when authoring slide presentations slides are presented on top of one another. When presenting slides there is nothing to suggest they move left to right. He brought his understanding rather than the mapping of the controller to the software itself.
• P220. Design stages:
1. Observation
2. Generation
3. Prototyping
4. Testing
5. Then implementing

Notes From Rise of the Robots

• When Milton Friedman, while visiting china in the 1960’s, questioned why workers were given shovels for a development project. When given the answer that they were hired as part of a “jobs program” he questioned, “why not give them spoons then?” (People fear and slow and prevent technological advancements to their detriment. There is a sense that protecting jobs is paramount but counterintuitively helping advance the nation may create more work. Slowing the economy means greater inequality.)
• When Australia was colonized in the 18th century, the country was in a “Goldilocks” period. The air and land was perfect for growing crops. But as reality of the environment caught up, the aridness destroyed any hope that agriculture output, at the level they assumed, would last forever. (This may be a strong parallel to today as technological advancements have drastically slowed.)
• Just 3% of US consumer spending goes to goods imported from China.
• 82% of the goods and services Americans purchase are produced entirely in the US.
• New grad salaries are down 10% from just ten years ago. And student loan debt has tripled from $300 billion to $900 billion.
• http://www.nber.org/papers/w18901
• 2013 study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the number of new grads with computer science degrees exceed those grads who find jobs by 50%.
• Average MOOC completion rate is 4%. Most fall off in first two weeks. 50% view a single lecture. 80% who sign up have college degrees.
• Even though there is no academic credit for completing online courses such as MOOCs, people still cheat and plagiarize. There are even services that charge $775-900 that will complete courses for people; this is even for accredited programs.
• Average student load debt is $30k. 40% of students don’t graduate but of course still have the debt and no degree.
• There’s a school with a lazy river ride. University spending is down for faculty but up for administrative positions and student perks (housing, food, etc)
• 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors. E.g. A research fellow made a clerical error that increased a woman’s chemo therapy medication by 4x, causing her death. 1.5 million are harmed by medication errors alone.
• Consumer spending of the bottom 80% is down 15%
• Student loan debt could decimate the disposable income of college grads for decades to come.

Notes from Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War

• Respect the elders.
• Give your team vision and purpose. This can be done by presenting the past accomplishments of ancestors as good achievements, but still too short of greatness; that it’s their time, here and now.
• Followers follow out of self-interest. Keep their interests met. Give them good health and good morale.
• Leadership is not a destination. It’s forever. There are no trophies or spoils; these and the undoings of leaders.
• Never give your men false hopes. This can happen from lofty ambitions or unmet goals. They’ll lose faith. If they believe disaster is around the corner, they will not come along for ant pursuit, no matter how noble you make it sound.
• Danger your outmatched for will one day make its way to you. You can either accept failure and resign, or you can fight it eagerly, committing every ounce you can gather, but no less.
• “I deeply believe that leaders, whatever their profession, are wrong to allow distinction of rank to flourish within their organizations.” Otherwise it leads to desertion or damages morale.
• A psychological advantage can mean the difference between victory and defeat: Syazarees was in no great hurry to pursue a Persian-Mede alliance, despite the impending danger that lurked and the soldiers that readied for combat. Fearing they’d lose morale Cyrus continued their training and competition. However, he knew this would only keep their spirits high for so long. Cyrus gathered his men and confronted the Persian king, displaying their eagerness to move forward, rather than wait for their enemies to enter their territory. “If going forward we’re more dangerous than staying here, the wiser plan would be to stay. Whether we stay or go, the enemy’s numbers will be much the same – and so will our own – but the spirit of our soldiers will rise higher if we’re all marching against the foe and not wasting time here.”
• Reward your good men. Set them as examples for others to strive so they too can be rewarded with opportunities.
• Confidence is earned. It is the reward of victory. Fighting in familiar surrounds and lands may seem like an advantage, but if it brings only confidence you will surely lose.
• “Success always calls for greater generosity – those most people, lost in the darkness of their egos, treat it as an occasion for greater greed.”

Notes from Principles by Ray Dario

Principles by Ray Dario

• Amygdala vs prefrontal cortex. These are the two “yous” battling it out. The amygdala reacting without thought protecting you from embarrassment or shame. The prefrontal cortex providing reason and logic. With time and effort you can get these two working in symbiosis.
• The goal of a disagreement should not be to prove yourself right, but to figure out which view is true. Be open minded to others’ point of view and make it clear to them you are doing so by asking questions.
• People want to make their own decisions whether target are capable or not. E.g. Knowing what to do about educational problems. People hold tightly their opinions and want to be proven right whether they know anything about the topic or not or whether they’ve considered all sides of the problem or not.
• Don’t view it as an argument. View it as en exploration of what’s true.

Notes from Average is Over by Tyler Cowen

Notes and thoughts on this thought provoking, and motivating, book:

• “This book is far from all good news.”
• Two jobs in the future: Are you working with computers, or can they replace you.
• Foxconn to increase the number of robots in its factories one hundred fold, getting them to one million robots.
• “There is not a joke that ‘a modern textile mill employs only a man and a dog – the man to feed the dog, and the dog to keep the man away from the machines.'”
• If machines can correctly gage the pulse of a people and its climate, will there be a need to vote in the future? This can, in fact, be done currently. With a few calculations based on a few variables like GDP and unemployment rate and inflation we can predict elections we’ll. Does this change one’s perception of machines? Or is this a denial of a small moment of the human experience?
• Would you hand over you identity for 20% off laundry detergent?
• Regulatory obstacles will be greatest for health care and pharmaceutical companies – much less so for companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon. The big question is how will society adjust for the failures of technology. How will we react when machines cause harm, rather than people.
• Tevhnology will help us make things more cheaply. This means there will be excess value left over. Where will it go? Quality land. IP. And quality labor.
• Technology in many instance many will create more jobs. When a problem is solved, or automated, new ones arise. However, new, highly skilled labor is required to fill those jobs. Unmanned drones may replace a pilot, but requires 300 people working in the background; whereas a fighter pilot requires 100.
• An overlap of having the ability to solve real-world problems and some technical knowhow is key today.
• Not all STEM graduates will be ready for the market. “Does anyone envy the job prospects of a newly minted astronomy PhD?”
• The world is getting better at measuring value. Average effort and average results will no longer be tolerated. Only quality will matter. Productivity will matter most.
• Will any of this lead to happiness?
• As grows the need for quality talent, so does the need for quality management. More hires means the need for more people to manage the team. The more efficient they can make the team, the higher their earning power. The greater the care in building the teams, the better the output.
• Women are more prepared for the new workplace. They’re more conscientious and exact and rarely hold resentment.
• Showing up is no longer enough.
• The author does not think the middle class is shrinking. He wonders how much of the middle class is made up of government workers; people who don’t actually produce nearly as much as they’re paid. How will this affect the job market? On the one hand you have efficient organizations, moving the advancement needle to its edge, and in the other is one that rewards inefficiencies and failure, but is too growing wildly.
• “From June 2009 (the official end of the recession) to June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, more rapidly than it fell during the recession itself (3.2 percent). Median income in 2011 was more than 8 percent lower than in 2007 and indeed median household income peaked in 1999.”
• If the need for higher and higher skilled labor grows, what does this mean for people who are already highly skilled? Is the current workforce at Google already behind? Maybe not. This is just how people move into positions of management and mentorship and guidance and leadership. These skills will always be in need.
• There is a lot of focus on technical jobs as being high paying, but financial companies, with the help of the government, have grown massively large and can afford the Take larger risks; and pay higher and higher salaries.
• Unfortunately technology industry is filling with people who are after money rather that technological innovation.
• The age at which people make achievements is moving up. Twenty year olds use to prove mathematical theorems. Now it’s the thirty year olds. As problems get harder and harder, the need for experience and wisdom increases. There is no longer the advantage of starting from scratch.
• There is still demand for people with high, general intelligence. People who picked the hyper path of Harvard or Yale. Even though they offer little interns of productivity and knowledge or even what is required to advance an organization, there is still a fear based need for such people. We glamorize these people, even though if we were to set aside their degrees, we would have idea what to do with these people.
• There are few, if any, problems that are at the early stages. There was such a computing boom because we were starting fresh, from the ground up. This is not the case anymore. Now you need to know so much more, even when just starting out, to be even considered at zero.
• Computers are good at chess because it is easy to solve for. Computers are decision machines and chess is about whittling down decisions. Whereas creating a vision for an organization and driving that vision needs human interaction. This is uplifting because if computers can take over areas humans have no need to run, then they can focus on being more human like.
• Men are being driven out of the workforce at an alarming rate.
• There are large numbers of people who actively avoid the work market simply because it does not suit them. Ten years ago 5 million people received disability benefits. Now it’s 8.2 million. The workplace is safer than ever, so what is the cause of this increase.
• “For men, from 1969 to 2009, as measured, it appears that wages for the typical or median male earner have fallen by about 28 percent.” This is during time of unprecedented economic growth.
• Three quarters of people aged between seventeen and twenty four are unfit to serve in the military. This is even the military continually lowering its standards.
• The housing crash forced companies to fire off large chunks of their workforce. It ended up improving output because the weakest workers went first, and they never hired them back because the efficiency is now so high. When was the last time the government had a substantial layoff? Where TARP was a bailout of the banks, are government jobs bailouts for citizens?
• Young workers will slowly be reemployed, but it will be at lower and lower salaries.
• The new healthcare plan and increased minimum wage drastically slow hiring. Both make hiring more expensive than it’s worth. Companies cannot keep up with the rising costs of healthcare or minimum wage, so they just expect more from the people they have. And as it’s turning out, good workers can pull more than their weight.
• The newly self-employed averages around 500k a year. This is not because people are energized to enterprise, but rather they may have no choice.
• Is the life of a food truck owner a sign of the reversal of the American Dream? Certainly people don’t do it for the lifestyle, and most definitely not for the riches, of which there are none. This appears to be more like life in developing nations.
• Are service sites like fiver good or bad? Are people so desperate for work they’ll take any random job, like retrieving keys from a garbage disposal, they can find?
• We are computers. Or, rather, work in cahoots with a computer. You have the option to use yourself when, say, preparing for an interview or a sales call. Or you can use a computer for an edge or advantage; spending some time researching an industry or new sales tactics or a potential client.
• Grandmaster chess players can’t beat even average or club level players who use computing systems for help because they rely too much on mastery and intuition.
• Takeaways so far:
1. Human-computer teams are the best teams.
2. You don’t need to be an expert to work along side a machine.
3. Jobs that are not critical will be less effective if given to a human.
4. Know your limit.
• It’s not that dating algorithms are good at matching people, but rather they’re good and getting people to get together, and that’s all it really takes. A conservative is more likely to message a liberal, than visa-versa; so the algorithm will display liberals to conservatives, but less so the other way around.
• Even grandmaster chess players don’t make the same, recommended moves as computers because it is hard to be objective, to stay focused, and, of course, to calculate the large number of move variations.
• Will computers make people more humble? Take chess, for example. Computers outperform even grandmasters to such a degree that their command for respect has greatly lessened. It’s not that computer are more intelligent, it’s that they’re great at making decisions. This lessens or reveals achievements more for what it is; something anyone can do and not all that exceptional. So, there seems to be little difference between good chess players and great ones.
• GPS is responsible for hundreds of thousands of accidents; hard to verify. If true, what does this say about technological solutions? Is it the human element? Are people distracted by the machine? Are they foolishly stopping on train tracks when instructed?
• Because business want to save money, we’ll be in situations where we’ll be picking up the slack. Ever have to navigate your way through a customer-support phone tree? That’s in place to save the company money. They’ve outsourced the work to you. We may see more of this type of outsourcing. Simplifying your life will be ways around this. E.g. Don’t own a car. Limit how many services or subscriptions you have. Etc.
• We give favor to regularized systems rather than more advanced or perfect ones. Microsoft Excel is ubiquitous because it is interchangeable and easy enough understand and use, not because it is the perfect solution.
• Chess players are given a score that rates their playing ability or standing. Will employees in the future be scored? Surely if the workplace becomes more normalized this is a real possibility. If one could find and hire a lawyer based on their ranking, would that be so bad? Maybe it would cause some havoc in the industry initially, but where winning a case is critical to a client, maybe this is a good thing. Yes, it will probably be easy to artificially inflate one’s rating, but it could open the door to people who otherwise would be ignored because they lack the advantage of things like nepotism.
• “It’s the bumps and delays that will make the rise of smart machines a livable process.” Adoption rates are surprisingly slow. Think if industries like maritime. They’re only just starting to adopt the most basic of computing technologies. Most industries, of course, adopt smart technology gradually, either at a pace they are comfortable with, or a rate pushed by the world at large.
• This idea that we’ll be able to scan our brains and upload them to a storage device seems far fetched. He idea that thought lives outside the requirements of a brain. We’re still learning just how strongly connected our minds our to our bodies; for energy and nourishment and focus. For this we’d need to replicate or emulate the entire human body. Maybe a mix of scanning and cloning?
• What’s the point of the Turing test? What good could it be knowing that a computer can be perceived as intelligent? There are no signs this will even happen, but so what. What’s more interesting is that with the diversity of human beings, there are people who cannot pass it. Think of the symptoms of autism or Aspergers. In a Techniche study of the Turing test, involving a mix of humans and computers, only 63% of the audience could identify humans as humans.
• There seems to be little to no evidence that foreign competition destroys U.S. jobs. The belief is that we can’t compete against their low-wedge workforce. However, their productivity is very low. Also, numerous service jobs are not threatened by outsourcing; filing clerks, admins, cashiers. It’s technology that has had the largest effect. (Foreign nations can’t seem to compete with the U.S. Their lack of innovation and hyper focus on collecting and saving capital are indicators of this. If their future was bright, there’d be signs of spending cash.)
• Papers by Giovanni Peri, and others, reveal immigration boosts American wages.
• Factor price equalization – “If an apple sells for $2 in the United States and $1 in Bolivia, there is incentive to ship the apples until the prices move closer together.” This same thinking is used for human workers. Yes, outsourcing negatively affect American jobs, but it makes the U.S. market sluggish. And those losses are offset by gains elsewhere.
• “A study by Michael Spence and Sandile Hlatshwayo shows that jobs gains have been in government, health care, and education. These have strong job security, but are subject to daily market tests.” So, whether they provide good service or not is indeterminate. How does this affect the job market as a whole? Will these sectors be inclined to pull low quality workers? Surely it helps keep the American Dream alive.
• Online chess schools have taught millions of people to the point of mastery. This is astonishing and remarkable. People who otherwise would now have access to such training. And it’s driven by commercial incentives. “In 2008 and 2012 the small nation of Armenia too first place in the Chess Olympiad.”
• The current pitfall of online education is that it requires one to be self motivated. Really, for these people, it’s only a matter of access to great learning resources that would have prevented their education. “Chess teacher Peter Snow reports that some of his students love playing against the computer, but they deliberately put the quality settings on the program so low that they can beat it many times in a row.” Mastery requires ratcheting up, always improving; this appears to be some form of entertainment.
• One criticism of online education is that students miss the motivational aspects of a teacher. If this is true, why is this quality not taken into consideration when hiring educators? Or why is it given so little importance when hiring? “Let’s treat professors more like athletic coaches, personal therapists, and preachers, because that is what they will evolve to be.”
• The way we educate may split in two. One, a more hands-off approach where students self-teach and rely on infrequent teacher-student interactions. The other, a more motivational, boot camp driven approach where effort is taught just as much as subjects.
• Three types of workers (who work with machines and need to retrain):
1. Individuals who opt for self-education
2. Those who are less self-motivated, but follow extreme forms of discipline for short bursts
3. Those who just try to get by
• Self-education. Reeducation. This is the clearest path to success.
• Machine science currently is “human directing computer to aid human doing research.” It will become “human feeding computer to do its own research” and then “human interpreting the research of the computer.”
• Altruism, and the largest demographic of voters, will keep government programs like Medicare intact.
• A government healthcare plan makes the job market tougher. “The greater the value of the mandate, the less enthusiastic the business will be to hire more workers. Quite simply, mandates lower the demand for labor and create downward pressure on the general level of wages.”
• Want to predict the future? See where people are moving. Texas has wild growth – because of cheap housing and strong job market. Other than this, Texas scores rock bottom: low education, few social services, hot and humid, etc. It shows people want cash in their pocket.
• Is the author proposing we replicate developing nations by building tiny-home subdivisions, wired with Hulu and send our elderly there to live out the remained of their lives? Either way, people will either move to where land is cheap or find ways to make their land cheap to adjust for any loss of income.
• The disparity of healthcare access will widen.
• Is this a story that demotivates? Or is it something to be seen as an opportunity? Does the world need to change? Or do we?
• Mortality is the cure-all. Future generations will be unaware of the difficulties presented by transformative technologies. If one were to go back even 100 years they’d have great difficulty navigating most any workplace.

Notes from Letters From a Self-Made Merchant by George Horace Lorimer

Every page contains an old world charm (and sometimes sexist) wrapped nugget of gold. Here are just a few:
• Education is everywhere, free for the taking. Haul away every drop you can for everything else is screwed down tight.
• The core of anything must be sound. If the core of a pig is no good, no amount of seasoning will fix it.
• Sound conscience over gap-less knowledge.
• “Education can make you a scholar, while [time with the boys] can make you a man.”
• Knowing is one thing. Knowing how to use knowledge is another.
• Speaking of young men: “Some of them think that recklessness with money brands them as good fellows, and that carefulness is meanness.”
• Learn the pain of making a dollar. The meanest of men are those who are generous with money, but never had to suffer for it.
• Learning from books or life. Theory vs practice. Both are narrow. Know enough practice to test theories to shove ahead.
• Understand the job. Master it. Then get lazy and find ways to make yourself obsolete through systems of automation.
• “It’s not what a man does during working hours, but after them, that breaks down his health. A fellow and his business should be bosom friends in the office and sworn enemies out of it.”
• Three rules of business conversation:
1. Have something to say
2. Say it
3. Stop talking
• “Beginning before you know what you want to say and keeping on after you have said it lands a merchant in a lawsuit or the poorhouse, and the first is a shortcut to the second.”
• “Business is like oil – it won’t mix with anything but business.”
• No matter what, you’ll have a boss of some sort over you. Others care what you boss thinks of you, rather than what you think of your boss.
• If a man comes looking for a job and starts by telling you how mean their previous employer was, how poor management was, he will think the same of you.
• “As you begin to meet the men who have done something that makes them worth meeting you will find that there are no ‘keep of the grass’ or ‘beware of the dog’ signs around their premises, and that they don’t motion to the orchestra to play slow music while they talk.”
• The easiest way to make enemies is to hire friends.
• Some people have “a heart like a stock-ticker – it doesn’t beat over anything except money.”
• On irresponsibly spending money: “there’s no fool like a young fool, because in the nature of things he’s got a long time to live.”
• On marriage: “While a young fellow will consult his father about buying a horse, he’s cock-sure of himself when it comes to picking a wife. Marriages may be made in heaven, but most engagements are made in the back parlor with the gas so low that a fellow doesn’t really get a square look at what he’s taking. While a man doesn’t see much of a girl’s family when he’s courting, he’s apt to see a good deal of it when he’s housekeeping.”
• Unless it’s hard to believe, some people won’t believe it’s worth believing.
• On thinking oneself important, especially in business affairs: “Repartee makes reading lively, but business dull.”
• People will sell things like they’re pork, But in business you have to ignore the joke and see things for what they are. If a man is overselling a dog, giving you a story why he must sell it and why it’s such a good deal, you know that you must look at the thing being sold for what it is.
• On selling and the right customer: “Real buyers ain’t interested in much besides your goods and your prices. Never run down your competitor’s brand to then, and never let them run down yours. Don’t get on your knees for business, but don’t hold your nose so high in the air that an order can travel under it without you seeing it. You’ll meet a good many people in the road that you won’t like, but the house needs their business.”
• Adjust for your market. Sell clothes in the cities where people have plenty. Pork to the people in the country where they keep hogs.
• On effort: “If there’s one piece of knowledge that is if less use to a fellow knowing when he’s beat, it’s knowing when he’s done just enough work to keep from being fired.”
• Pages 142 to 145
• “If there’s anything worse than knowing too little, it’s knowing too much. Education will broaden a narrow mind, but there’s no cure for a big head. The best you can hope is that it will swell up and burst; and then, of course, there’s nothing left.”
• There are two unpardonable sins: success and failure. Those who fail will question those who succeed, and those who succeed will look down upon those who fail.
• What you bring to a job says more and does more for you than anything. Enthusiasm makes work easy.
• One may envy their boss because their job looks easy. But this is far from the case. “He’s like the fellow on the right-rope – there’s plenty of scenery under him and lots of room around him, but he’s got to keep his feet on the wire all the time and gravel straight ahead.”
• Hire slow. Fire fast. Finding the right employees worth the extra time for a bad employee “is like a splinter in the thumb – a center of soreness.”
• “Life isn’t a spurt, but a long, steady climb. You can’t run up a hill without stopping to sit down. Some men do a days work and then spend six lolling around admiring it.”
• “I’ve heard a good deal in my time about the foolishness of hens, but when it comes to right-down, plum foolishness, give me a rooster, every time. He’s always strutting and stretching and crowing and bragging about things in which he had nothing to do. When the sun rises, you’d think that he was making all the light, instead of all the noise. But when you hear from a hen, she’s laid an egg, and she doesn’t make a great deal of noise about it, either.”
• “Some fellows propose to a girl before they know whether her front and her back hair match, and then holler that they’re stuck when they find she’s got a cork leg and a glass eye as well.” “But the really valuable thing to know is how she approaches ham and eggs at seven A.M., and whether she rings he complexion with her to the breakfast table.”
• “Of course, when you’re patting and petting and feeding a woman she’s going to purr, but there’s nothing like stirring her up a little now and then to see if she spits fire and heaves things when she’s mad.”
• Never put off being happy till tomorrow.

Notes from Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen

• Problem space vs solution space – solution space is product and product design and development. Product lives in the solution and is the solution customer needs live in the problem space
• Author uses story of space pen vs Russian pencil as an example to not just jump to the solution stage. This is a bad example because in this case planning of the US won out. Pencils are Abbas idea in space because their components can easily find their way into the small crevices of spacecraft equipment. If the story is actually true then it shows Russians we’re asking the wrong questions while the Americans asked the right ones. As well spending $1 million on the space pen created a new market, people wanting space-related souvenirs. Whereas the pencil did not.
• Defining the problem is key. “A pen that works in space” vs “a way to records notes in zero gravity.” One is narrow and almost defines the solution and the other is open.
• Have an accurate understanding of the Problem market. Intuits competition was not other software providers. It was pen and paper.
• PMs focus on the what. Engineers on the how. Focus on what the problem is and what needs to be solved.
• Having customer discussions in the solution space is much easier than on the problem space. Customers don’t understand the problem or can’t articulate it. But they can show you how they currently or or are trying to do and tell you what frustrates them.
• Unipolar rating – positive number to higher positive number
• Bipolar rating- negative number to higher number, generally positive
• Must haves, performance improvements, and delights
• Weigh value by using importance and satisfaction level
• ROI calculation- Weigh what to put into a release by value of feature and investment cost in dev weeks. Or weigh value and investment broadly on 3×3 grid: high medium low

Distraction kills

Do work that’s hard. Push through until it’s done. Most people stop half way through, telling themselves it’s plenty for now, or they just can’t do anymore.

But push through. Go to completion. Set goals and go.

Freeletics has created a near perfect tool for getting you to push through. Complete 5 sets of 30 climbers, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups and 30 squats no matter what. Even if it takes hours.

Write a blog post, even if it takes hours to get out want you want to say.

There are more distractions today than ever. This means fewer people will be diving deep into skills and topics. This is opportunity for anyone to do the hard work and master the skills and talents in need.

Distraction kills. Find the pleasure in the pains. Find the joys, the rewards. When you focus on the bad that pain can bring, you stop. When you focus on the pleasure, you’ll be shocked to see how far you’ve gotten.

24 Game Solver

I’ve become obsessed with 24 Game recently, a fun little game with a simple objective: Given four numbers, use basic arithmetic to make 24.

Here’s an example with a solution, given the numbers 8, 12, 9, 3:

9 – 3 = 6
8 – 6 = 2
2 * 12 = 24

It’s simple and fun, but every time I’d play I knew there were solutions that I was not thinking of. So, I created 24Solver.com.

Enter in your four numbers, click “Solve” and the app will show you all the possible solutions.

24-game-solver-screenshot

Tip: Click “Highlight similar solutions” to see which solutions are unique.

Where’s the article?

Opened an article on Quartz and this is what I was greeted with:

QZ.com

I spent a good 3 seconds looking for a skip-this-ad link until I realized that the article was below the ad. Disrupting users and giving up valuable real estate seems foolish. But at least I now know about Jaguar.

Steps For Pleasing Upset Customers

So you can ensure you never feel aggregated again.

  1. Listen. Understand the issue or problem
  2. Verbally relate to their pain, apologize, and own it
  3. Tell the customer how you’re going to solve their problem and make things right
  4. Follow up at regular intervals with status updates
  5. Inform the customer how the issue was solved and why it will never happen again

If they’re still pissed: Lock them out, deactivate their account, put them in your black book, or block their number.

_blank

_blank: Load the response into a new unnamed HTML4 window or HTML5 browsing context. – https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/Element/a

_blank is bad because it:

  • Takes control away from the user
  • Clutters the user’s workspace
  • Tricks users into “staying” on your site
  • Is unexpected 99.99% of the time

And therefore annoys people, leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth.

Feature X

Customers will give you any number of reasons why they won’t buy, whether they’re true or not. Maybe they’re shy or don’t want to hurt your feelings, as so often it’s “your product is missing feature X.”

Nonsense. They just don’t want to buy. They may not even know the reason why. They just know the answer is no. There’s often little you can do about it. 

And that’s good! You don’t want them as your customer. 

What’s dangerous is using their no to decide the strategy and direction of you product. I.e. Adding feature X to your product. 

So, two options:

  1. Foolishly add the one feature the customer wants, hoping they bite
  2. Play the long game by setting a product identify from day one and never steering away

The problem with #1 is that it rarely, if ever, helps you create a product anyone actually wants. Okay. One person. But that’s it. You’re stuck pandering to that one customer.

Better to go after a well defined group of people, and make something that benefits them all. Why make one person happy when you can make thousands extatic. 

Urgency

It’s easy to get caught up with a sense of urgency, giving in to the demand and pressure around you to get things done. But it is rare that these things actually are urgent.

You can either do lots of shallow things as fast as possible. Or you can focus on deep problems, knowing that it will be okay when the little stuff does not get done.

You can either do things without much thought. Or you can be considerate and methodical with your efforts and time.

You can either constantly flip between tasks, not quite remembering where you left off. Or you can only take on new tasks and projects when they can be given the proper attention they deserve.

You can either do things not knowing whether are are necessary or not. Or you can do things that solve real problems.

You can either set an arbitrary deadline, that you know can’t be met. Or you can break things up in to smaller, more manageable stages.

Helping Strangers

While at Powells, I heard a young boy asking his grandfather where the computer book section was. The grandfather did not know, nor could he offer any advice on book recommendations.

A middle aged man stepped in, overhearing, and directed the couple, as well as offering  two book recommendations. The man didn’t have to step in, offer his insight. But he did. 

Judging a Book by Its Title

I’ve found myself judging books by their title. Determining if I want to spend my time learning the one thing a book has to offer. As if a title can reduce a book’s value Ono a few words. Or if that’s all it offers.

Now I jump and skim books before I buy and if I take just one tiny nugget in that minute or so, I buy it. 

No Coding Skills Required

While this sales phrase may eventually fade, the need and growth for solutions that require coding skills will not. This means more and more coding opportunities for coders, but also a less of a need need to learn to code (because coders will make more and more things that no longer require one to know how to code to get what they want).

So you can either make and sell things that require no coding skills, but depend on people to make things that require no coding skills. Or you can take matters into your own hands, pure freedom, and code things for everyone.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is a bad question. When asked, you invariably look backwards, wondering whether you’ve done enough of worth the previous five years.

Better to think and worry about today, the here an now. Dismissing expectations from mind is the easiest way to extend your life.

Harbor Island, Seattle

Harbor Island, Seattle, WA
View from a client’s patio on Harbor Island, Seattle, WA. Being part of the Maritime Industry can feel so empowering.

Proximity to customers

If you’re creating something for others to use, you need access to at least a small sample of those people. If you do not have direct and immediate access, you will never understand their needs. Understanding their problems is the easiest way to create good solutions.

A good way to do this is to be in proximity of your customers. Go where they go. Read what they read. Think like they think. It’s hard to do and takes time, but it can be done.

An even better way to be in proximity of you customers is by being a customer yourself. It may be difficult to think of yourself in this way, since you can get in the way. But it’s just a matter of see yourself in context. Recognizing the things you do or say that make you part of a group.

Is finding meaning important?

In life. Is it important to have an understanding of our own purpose, to have purpose, or make sense of the things around us?

Or should we live in the now? Ignore the bigger picture. Move forward. Ignore context. Try new things. Focus on the granular. Take a step forwards.

Often times, meaning entails looking back or spending time figuring out the environment in which we live. Figuring out or examining the conversation. This doesn’t propel us further.

Maybe it’s better to join in the conversation. Better to grab your own soapbox from which to speak.

Meaning may or may not motivate us. But curiosity surely does.

Defining yourself loosely is the greatest way to live

In the modern world we define ourselves based on an idea that was created during the industrial revolution. The idea of a highly specialized workforce. Everyone has an area of focus, and you master it to get ahead.

While this is still true, and easy to benefit from, it will not last for much longer. Even looking at software development job postings, we see a high demand for full stack developers. It’s not enough to specialize, you need to not be able to define yourself easily. You need to be a complete human being.

Travel the world. Learn another language. Get into trouble. Increase your vocabulary. Exercise more.

These things matter more than being an expert in one, narrowly defined thing.

Technological advantages only matter if we have more choices

Does knowing how to send an email give you an advantage? No.

Does knowing how craft a convincing and persuasive letter give you an advantage? Yes.

Does knowing how to use Yelp find a restaurant give you an advantage? No.

Does knowing how to write an advanced recommendation AI engine give you an advantage? Yes.

It’s interesting to think about technology in terms of giving us advantages. Really, technology is just us, sped up. It’s there to complete tasks in a more efficient way.

Knowing how to use something, any tool, is not what is critical. It’s an important baseline, a minimum bar to meet, but does not inherently improve things.

Having more choices and knowing how we can help others and improve who we are, with the help of technology, is what matters most. The more choices we have the more advantages we have.