I spent almost a decade working at the State Department and overseas. After reading through these files, I cannot stop imagining just how hard it will be for Foreign Service Officers to do their jobs. One former Officer, Alex Grossman, summed it up for me nicely: “fear of publication will only prevent people from voicing frank and honest opinions, assessments and recommendations.”
I’ve been disturbed by the cheerleading for Assange and Wikileaks by people I follow on Twitter and Tumblr. Blind anti-statism is juvenile, and misses the larger point that diplomacy is next to impossible without intelligence work and effectively confidential mediums of communication.
“Utter bullshit,” he said … of cooking times. Kimball is no slacker; CI, as its devoted readers know, has a well-earned reputation for accuracy. They’ll bake a chocolate torte 500 times before publishing the results. Yet Kimball doesn’t include start-to-finish times in his recipes; he rejects outright the notion that they can be measured with precision. “Thirty-minute recipes are never 30 minutes,” he says. “It’s marketing.”
There are two rules for recipes, one for baking, and one for cooking:
1. For baking, any recipe that lists ingredient amounts by volume instead of weight is useless. Throw it away immediately. If it list weights in English measurement rather than metric, eye it warily, but proceed.
2. For cooking, most recipes are worthless unless they place the focus on technique, rather than the result.
In the case of the latter, it bothers me no end that I know people who’ve been cooking for years from recipe books that, faced with a particular piece of protein, have no fucking idea what technique should be applied. People who want to learn how to cook should focus less on mastering a series of recipes and more on understanding the methodology behind how recipes work.
A copy of McGee (and maybe a Larouse) are more worthwhile in the long run than every cookbook ever created.*
* With the possible exception of Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food, the only cookbook I’m aware of that focuses exclusively on technique.
“Most cosmologists trace the birth of the universe to the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. But a new analysis of the relic radiation generated by that explosive event suggests the universe got its start eons earlier and has cycled through myriad episodes of birth and death, with the Big Bang merely the most recent in a series of starting guns.”—
Via the last post: I’ve been digesting enough 30 Rock (the building, not the series) gossip for the last few days, and then with the Please Kill Me reference, Lester Bangs and his Let It Blurt was on my mind… and then I realized I might create something as close to a Googlewhack as I’m ever gonna get.
Which I will. Just as soon as the spiders catch up.
Saw this late last night and enjoyed it, mostly. I realized the parts I didn’t completely go for were the parts of the book that bothered me: one MacGuffin after another (the Horcruxes, the Sword of Griffindor, the Deathly Hallows), interminable passages of wandering around the woods, and characters acting adolescent and moody.
The article at the Awl makes the point that the movie did a good job of undoing Rowling’s obsession with make the most interesting/moving parts of the narrative occur off-page. It was an overwhelmingly good night at the movies for us.
“Assigning Angelo, a star in the News Corp. universe who’s long been seen as the heir to Col Allan’s throne at the Post, to be the editor gives a clear indication of how meaningful the project is to Murdoch. Greg Clayman, a close friend of Angelo’s from their Harvard days in the late Nineties, left his digital gig at Viacom to lead the publishing side. Richard Johnson left Page Six and will run a team of a few reporters to provide Hollywood and Los Angeles coverage. New Yorker critic Sasha Frere-Jones will run a culture section that will cover books, movies, TV, fashion, health and lifestyle.”—
News Corp.’s track record on digital efforts has been mixed, to say the least. I’m intrigued by this, if only because as much as I’ve tried to enjoy the WSJ on the iPad, I find myself gravitating back to the (limited time full-access) NY Times app.
I love that last sentence though. Career literary bomb-thrower Sasha Frere-Jones going to work for Murdoch. Amazing. I’m curious how many people he’ll accuse of being racists in his first year on the job.
“A younger generation of readers is discovering Twain for his political writings, Ms. Fitting said. “He’s surprisingly relevant right now,” she added. “When you look at how much he wrote and the breadth of the subjects he wrote about, you know that if he were alive today, he would totally be a blogger.””—
Rick was good enough to respond to Peter’s little rant over at the Adaptive Path blog. It does a good enough job refuting the post that I don’t really need to get into the specifics. Just give it a read.
The important thing to remember when reading Peter’s post, though, is that AP is the kind of place that encourages everyone to speak/write for themselves, and trusts the audience to discern between personal opinions and company philosophy. You could argue that a founder of a UX firm declaring war on fellow practitioners because he doesn’t like the industry they work in is misguided. You could further argue that his assumption that readers won’t mistake his perspective for the mindset of the organization he runs is almost comically naive. Just know that Peter is, as ever, speaking for himself, and lots of people at AP disagree with him.
“It is the official position of Goldblog that everyday is opt-out day. There’s no need to wait until November 24th. But come November 24th, here’s an idea you might try to make the day extra-special. It’s a one-word idea: Kilts. Think about it — if you’re a male, and you want to bollix-up the nonsensical airport security-industrial complex, one way to do so would be to wear a kilt. If nothing else, this will cause TSA employees to throw up their hands in disgust. If you want to go the extra extra mile, I suggest commando-style kilt-wearing. While it is probably illegal to fly without pants, I can’t imagine that it’s illegal to fly without underpants. I If you are Scottish, or part Scottish, or know someone who is Scottish, or eat Scottish salmon, or enjoy Scotch, or have a vestigial affection for “Braveheart” despite Mel Gibson, you can plausibly claim some sort of multicultural diversity privilege — the term “True Scotsman” refers to soldiers who honor their tradition and heritage by wearing kilts without drawers underneath.”—
“Facebook is the new Google – as in, they are building up an army of the best damn software developers on the planet. But having great engineers is not enough. Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have each had a monopoly on great engineers for a period of time. But engineers want to solve hard problems – to build abstractions – to unify 3 different things that seem kinda similar. But this has nothing to do with solving real user problems, which is what Apple excels at.”—
I think another way to put this is that the traditional Silicon Valley recruiting arms race focuses on the wrong problem: it treats engineering talent as the pearl of great price, when in fact it’s actually taste. After a certain point, stockpiling “rockstar” engineers doesn’t help anymore, and in fact it can actually hurt by focusing the company’s priorities through an engineering, rather than product design, lens. Unfortunately, buying engineering talent is straightforward, while buying taste is almost impossible—as I’ve heard Adam Lisagor say, “taste is the most expensive thing there is.”
All of this is true, but the focus on the “war” for development talent (what a stupid fucking over-extension of that metaphor) occludes another set of challenges for both startups and established organizations: the excruciating shortage of creative talent, specifically on the user experience side. Everyone is looking, and very few are finding, the necessary individuals to serve as curators of their product experience.
I don’t know if it’s taste or simply a user-centered perspective that’s so desperately lacking from organizations like Google, who’ve celebrated the engineering-obsessed culture that’s spread to far too much of the valley. “Google Doesn’t Understand Social,” “Instagram Could Never Be Built At Google” - no one would be writing about these things if Google had spent 1/10th as much time building up Irene Au’s group as much as they focused on acquiring and retaining engineering talent.
“Curating your online web presence is just a gateway drug. Trust me, it will spread to real life in a big way. The food we eat, the friends we keep, the habits of our day. Now mind you, some folks tend to naturally live by the curation metaphor - perhaps they have a bent for aesthetics… But the generation that grows up on a diet of google, facebook, and foursquare will adopt IRL curation for an ironic reason—they see online life as an instruction manual for real life.”—
Identity and presence curation are where my head has been at for the last 12 months. The bleed between IRL and on online activity is greying to the point where the distinction is lost on a growing population.
“What killed us was “one more thing.” We could have easily done three major releases that year if we had drawn a line in the sand, said “finished,” and shipped the darn thing. The problem is that the longer it’s been since your last release the more pressure and anticipation there is, so you’re more likely to try to slip in just one more thing or a fix that will make a feature really shine. For some projects, this literally goes on forever.”—
Such a good read, and totally true. I generally don’t bother with the press’ psychoanalysis of the Apple product methodology (I can get that over beers with my dad), but I love how Matt draws a connection between his perspective on how Apple releases product and his own experience getting WordPress in the hands of millions of users.
• The purpose of a critique is to make the design better. • Be supportive. • First, figure out what the designer was trying to accomplish. • Offer direction, not prescription. • Humor and metaphor work better than criticism alone. • Accept multiple styles. • Know the domain. • If you don’t understand it, be cautious in critiquing it. • Don’t take it personally.
These principles are positioned here for brevity, so head over to see them in full at Kicker Studio.
Attention, everyone. Dan’s post is brilliant in its analysis, Liz’s post is lovely in its synthesis.
The old MO with Windows Mobile was to modify skins of the OS in compliance with a manufacturer’s set of instructions. The new plan for Windows Phone 7 would be to design the operating system around customer enjoyment, similar to Apple’s approach.
Microsoft would continue its strategy of licensing its OS to manufacturers, but this time it would set the rules: All phones running Windows Phone 7 must meet a criteria of hardware requirements (three physical hardware buttons and a specific CPU, for example), and every device must pass a series of lab tests conducted by robots designed by Microsoft engineers, as Wired.com detailed in a previous story.
These stringent requirements are aimed at ensuring that Windows Phone 7 works consistently across different devices, Belfiore said.
“The team psychology was, ‘Here’s an OEM saying we want to sell a million phones,’” said Belfiore, reflecting on the previous mobile strategy. “The primary customer was the OEM. Now the target is the person [who owns the phone].”
Belfiore wasn’t shy about criticizing Google’s Android OS. Even though Google currently dominates the mobile OS market, its strategy of licensing the Android OS to manufacturers is similar to Microsoft’s previous approach with Windows Mobile: It’s open-ended, and there are few restrictions on how manufacturers can use or modify the OS.
As a result, Android is suffering from some of the same issues as Windows Mobile did: Android works better on some phones than others, manufacturers are shipping different versions of the OS on different phones, some Android phones are shipping with bloatware made by carriers, and some app developers complain that it’s difficult to make software because of the hardware and OS fragmentation.