There’s an old story that people like telling, untrue as it may be, about writing implements in space.The American space program discovered that normal ink pens didn’t work on missions (no gravity in orbit to pull down the ink), so they spent millions to research and develop a pen that could write upside down. The Russians, the story goes, brought a pack of pencils.
A great lesson. Sometimes, our lizard brain searches for the complex solution all the while ignoring a simple and seemingly obvious one.
“Only dullards crippled into cretinism by a fear of being thought pretentious could be so dumb as to believe that there is a distinction between design and use, between form and function, between style and substance.”—Stephen Fry on Steve Jobs
A keyboard shortcut of Command-n is applied to each of your favorite mailboxes in sequence, with n being a number starting at 1. You can trigger the shortcut to open the corresponding mailbox (i.e. to select it in the mailboxes list, displaying its contents).
This is a good tip. Also, for those that don’t know, this works in the favorites bar of Safari as well. Been using it for years.
As a young seeker in the ’70s, Jobs didn’t just dabble in Zen, appropriating its elliptical aesthetic as a kind of exotic cologne. He turns out to have been a serious, diligent practitioner who undertook lengthy meditation retreats at Tassajara — the first Zen monastery in America, located at the end of a twisting dirt road in the mountains above Carmel — spending weeks on end “facing the wall,” as Zen students say, to observe the activity of his own mind.
Personally my mind is filled with the complexities this world throws at me all the time. I don’t need to make it even more complicated by having to start searching for what a product does because it is not clear from its name.
Great post by Uri. This should be required reading for anyone who makes anything.
What’s it like for a guy who worked at Apple to start making thermostats? A lot like this:
“So what are you working on lately?” a friend asks over lunch.
“I started a new company. We make thermostats.”
They chuckle, take a bite of their salad, “No, seriously. What are you doing?”
“I’m serious. Thermostats.”They put down their fork, look concerned.
That is Tony Fadell, who’s name you may remember as one of leading forces behind the iPod at Apple. Well, he has started a new company and introduced Nest, a smart thermostat that learns your heating a cooling preferences and adjusts accordingly. Plus, it is wi-fi enabled and you can control it with your iPhone. Looks really slick and has the added side benefit of saving you money on your energy bill.
According to lore, they have to be invited in. Within the sacred space of your home, they can not harm you. They can not suck one drop of your precious life-giving blood unless you open the door and invite them past your threshold.
If your time, your attention, and your purpose are not the very essence of what life is, then what is? If where you commit your time, attention, and purpose is not sacred space, then why isn’t it? And if those items that seek to take from those things are not vampires, then what are they?
“Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.”—
Lao Tzu (translation by Stephen Mitchell. Sourced via mnmal)
Do your work. Step back.
Update: This quote actually from Lao Tzu. Stephen Mitchell is doing the translation. Updated attribution to reflect this.
Good interface design is as transparent as possible, because I don’t want to have to think about it. I just want to write, or do whatever else I’m doing, and not have to think about whatever I’m doing it on.
The above is why, so far, the entirety of my second book has been written on the iPad (with the exception of one essay that I wrote on the iPhone). This is such a great, quick interview in several respects but, as a writer, it really resonates with me deeply.
Tomorrow, in the Read & Trust Newsletter, I tell you about my favorite tech gadget. It could be just any ordinary newsletter and about any other gadget. But, don’t be fooled. What you are about to witness will amaze and delight. Not just this week but every week. Now step right up and, for less than a ethically sourced corporately conscious burrito, you too can step behind the curtain to witness the things your eyes dare not believe!
Please allow me to paraphrase this whack job for you:
"I knew he was wrong, but he was right even on the things I knew he was wrong about that he kept proving otherwise and frak if I know how he did it but I sure was wrong about the things he was right about yet I know he was wrong and still can’t figure out exactly how because, you know, I have a Ph.D in this stuff. Geez, I miss that guy. Also, corn puffs!"
Seriously, I could have quoted any paragraph and it could pretty much be summarized just like that.
“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”
– Henry David Thoreau in Walden
Please forgive the repetition, but this has been on my mind lately. Namely, what are my three chairs? Is three chairs a reasonable and good sensible default for ones own approach to digital communication?
I don’t assume I have any right answer to those questions. That said, I have some ideas surrounding them.
This could be any for working with ones dialog with self. This could take the form of a paper or digital journal, diary, etc. Those that are familiar with The Artists Way would have this with morning pages. Digitally, projects and services like OhLife and 750 Words might be good. Or local applications like MacJournal. Some may find this reflection and introspection simply with writing to plain text files. Regardless, I think it essential to external communications to first foster a healthy and regular internal one, no matter how one achieves it.
This is one to one. It is interpersonal and private by default. Digitally, email would fit this idea. As would instant messaging, SMS, or even a phone call. It is dialog between two people. Unguarded and non-judgmental. It is an open exchange. A honest sharing. The opportunity for back and forth.
This is where a social network may fit in. A forum would fit here as well. Even a blog with comments and an active and engaged readership might fit. The idea is that it should be productive dialog between a limited many. Greater than one-to-one but not so many that the conversation becomes noise and ideas are lost.
What are your three chairs?
The challenge, of course, is to use this as a healthy constraint. To choose three chairs that you are comfortable with and abandon or, at least, greatly decrease the use of others. To let others know of your choice where appropriate. For instance, “I prefer contact via email” or “I’m on Twitter and not on any other social network.” And even then, to have a clear intention about how and when you wish to use those chairs and with whom.
I would also like to think that balance is important here as well. That spending too much time in any one chair adversely affects the others. That the health of our internal dialog reflects well on when engaging our friends and society. That, equally true, the quality of those external engagements feed the quality of the internal. Therefore, choosing each chair with care and purpose is not to be taken lightly.
A Wright house isn’t a building, it’s a philosophical text about family, nature and landscape. An inglenook is important — it draws family and friends into conversations. Views into the surrounding landscape are important — they connect us to nature. An Apple product isn’t about buttons and screens, it’s about eliminating barriers between the user and what the user chooses to care about when using the device.
An interesting comparison between Frank Lloyd Wright and Steve Jobs. As someone who is a fan of both, I found the compare and contrast of their design philosophy compelling.
I was recently invited to be on the very excellent Creatiplicity podcast with Shawn Blanc and Chris Bowler. We talk a whole lot about my next book, the concepts behind what “enough” means and how t get there, and how having purpose drive your choices helps to reduce the friction between intention and action.
Yep, it was a great discussion and a required listen for anyone interested in the deeper concepts that drive this site.
It’s Friday and I’m in a giveaway mood. I happen to have a license for Sparrow that was lovingly donated by a reader who got it as part of a bundle and already owned it (Thanks Wuffers!). This is the sort of thing we believe in around here.
I’ve covered Sparrow here before. It is a great email client that takes a fresh approach in the UI department. It is essential for GMail users but also great for any IMAP account.
Therefore, here is how we will roll this. Shoot me an @reply on Twitter with the phrase “Give me the bird!” anytime before Midnight (i.e 12am Central Standard Time) tonight. I will pick one winner at random from that group and notify them by a return reply requesting they send me an email and my address. I’ll then send the winner the license file via email before the weekend is out..
Now that I have had a chance to (finally) get things downloaded, updated, installed, and all the little bugaboos and gotchas sorted out, I have spent some initial time with iOS 5. Not a ton, but enough to know what I’m liking so far…
Tabbed browsing in iPad – I like this so much more than the previous method of displaying you ages in a grid like layout. This not only is more consistent with what we ave come to expect from a desktop experience but, because of that, it seems more natural. You are still limited to nine pages/tabs but this is a good thing because even this starts to feel a bit cramped. Any more and you would need childlike fingers to select them.
iMessage – This works like a dream and is fun to use. I have had a chance to exchange, let’s just call them what they really are, chats with several people now. Local, national, and even international was no problem and very fast. I really like the read receipts. Though, they are not on by default. You have to turn them on in the settings. Which alone speaks volumes about Apple’s feelings about such privacy. I’m hoping we will be able to do this in iChat on the desktop in the near future.
Reminders – I have used and enjoyed the new Reminders app far more than I thought I would. For a quick and dirty location assisted tasks, it’s very simple and efficient. Sure, there will be other task apps rushing to build this in to theirs (and OmniFocus did already). That said, for the types of things I would use this for this is simple and built in. Once again, I would like to see an official companion app for this on the Mac.
iCloud – This should be obvious. All that this brings to the table already, paired with the potential that is just around the corner, is staggering. My first thought on actually seeing it in action was sheer and utter giddiness. My next thought was, OK, now I want everything to be like this.
All in all this is an impressive update and I continue to be surprised and delighted by the little things. That said, I think I have a lot more to say about the sorts of things iCloud brings to the table and will get those thoughts together for posting soon.
What excites me is that this is the first version of what we saw in the Knowledge Navigator video: a device that I can ask for any kind of information, and because it (1) understands what I am asking for and (2) connects to different online services which provide data, it can give me that information. This is not just a vision for the future of computing devices, but the future of the web, too.
Very smart and forward looking insight from Kyle. If there is one thing we should have all learned from Apple by now, it’s that the features they roll out in a small way today are simply the first step towards the really interesting stuff that will happen in the future.
When one has optimized for intention and purpose, one can then focus in on other things with more balance and less friction. If my tools are purpose driven then there is less that stands between my intentions and my actions. The tool then becomes one with that connection and effectively disappears.
I was recently interviewed by Shadoe of Smarterbits about my views on technology and the ideas surrounding “enough”. It turned out really great. Perhaps one of my favorite interviews yet. Please go check it out. Especially if you want a deeper understanding of what drives this site.
News of Jobs’ passing first broke on Wednesday night. This issue was on newsstands by Sunday, at least, or maybe even Saturday night. Which means the Bloomberg Businessweek team must have been working like mad to make this happen, probably with very little sleep and almost assuredly under the duress of simultaneously mourning a man that many of them probably felt very strongly about. That effort is an incredibly fitting, touching and commendable tribute to Steve Jobs himself.
Looks fantastic! I’m totally going to pick up a copy of this.
“We went into Sean’s bedroom – and there was a kid there setting up an Apple computer that Sean had gotten as a present, the Macintosh model. I said that once some man had been calling me a lot wanting to give me one, but that I’d never called him back or something, and then the kid looked up and said, “Yeah, that was me. I’m Steve Jobs.” And he looked so young, like a college guy. And he told me that he would still send me one now. And then he gave me a lesson on drawing with it. It only comes in black and white now, but they’ll make it soon in color. And then Keith and Kenny used it. Keith had already used it once to make a T-shirt, but Kenny was using it for the first time, and I felt so old and out of it with this young whiz guy right there who’d helped invent it.”—
I would have embedded it but TED only does Flash. The zealots get angry when I do such things. I too, run Flash-less on my machine but keep Chrome around for stuff like this. Flash is perfectly safe when locked in Google’s cage.
This is my favorite photo of Steve Jobs. Leaning forward to connect with his wife after his keynote presentation at the 2011 WWDC. You can almost feel the relief and accomplishment radiating from him.
When I see this photo, I see a man who bent every fiber of his will toward a goal so lofty, so seemingly unattainable that no one thought it was possible, and at the end of that race, with the task completed, he closed his eyes and rested.
OK, I finally have had some time to catch up on the announcements at today’s Apple Event. Here are some quick, simple, and dare I say minimal, thoughts on it all:
iOS 5 – Cool. Great update all around. iMessage looks insanely useful. Notifications are much improved. Reminders looks like a great simple todo list app (which really does deserve a “Finally!”) with complex ideas like geofencing.
iCloud – Disruptive. A big deal is being made about this stuff but I don’t think it is big enough. Once this starts being commonplace in third party apps you will consider those without broken.
iPod nano – Nice that it got a price drop and a little love.
iPod touch – iOS 5 and iCloud now included. Price drop.
The above will be available October 12th.
iPhone 4S– Looks the same on the outside. Completely new on the inside. New A5 chip. The camera is stunning. Siri will once again change the way we interact with computers, especially as it comes to iPad and the Mac (which it will). Also, It’s now a “world phone” so no GSM/CDMA split. It’s all in one. Very nice update (and exactly what I expected).
Available October 14th.
In general, there were no big surprises. No “one more things”. This was a straight forward Apple Event. It was a perfect setting for introducing a new team to head these things up in a post-Jobs Apple and they all did fine.
Two separate strangers spotted me in the Apple t-shirt I was wearing today. Neither clearly seemed to be geeks. Yet they both asked if I knew what Apple announced and indicated they would be getting one. They were excited for it. I got the sense that it could have simply been “iPhone, Now with a side of bacon” and they would have been getting one. Like I said, regular folks who assumed I had the info based on the logo on my chest.
Even without the “excitement” of a completely redesigned iPhone or some new iThing the world has yet to see, there is a certain self-assuredness that comes with being in the position Apple is now in. They execute at a high level with such regularity and precision it borders on becoming boring if not for one thing…
It’s all too easy to get distracted from work on the computer. But there’s a simple technique to help regain focus: create a new User account, one specifically designed for getting work done. That means creating a desktop stripped of extraneous bookmarks, applications, music and movie files, plug-ins, extensions…unless they’re designed for task management or your work related projects. Think of this desktop as your work persona. Creating a dedicated account for work related tasks is like having a work outfit compared to the comfy-cozy sweatpants of leisurely online time.