“The Website is Down”

A must-see video for anyone who has ever been on the support side of IT:

http://thewebsiteisdown.com/

Oh, the memories it brings back.

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Should I buy an iPhone?

This is the question on my mind.

I went past the Apple & ATT stores in downtown SF (very close to my apartment) on Friday night and Saturday. Apple had a line so long I couldn’t see the end of it (outside the store), and ATT sold out phones early.

While the lines outside the store suck, it’s really fun to walk past them and be overheard saying, “I can’t believe they ran out of phones again!”.

Is this a truly great phone, or it just another fashion statement? Why so much buzz?

With Apple, the answer is probably again both.

I think the lines are a combination of true enthusiasts (developers who are writing applications for the iPhone store, and power users) and people overrun with loopy excitement for a product for which they would be hard-pressed to name 7 unique features.

So what is my attraction?

I’ve asked myself this question and really drilled myself. The phone is expensive (via monthly charges), and most of my “required” features (Exchange sync, web, GPS, etc.) are available on other phones (surprisingly, the Samsung Instinct doesn’t sync with Exchange’s calendar – information I got from a Sprint salesman and found many user reviews online claiming the same).

What it comes down to for me has a lot to do with the iPhone App Store. The “open market” nature of the store (developers get 70% of the revenue from sales of their applications), the quality of the SDK (developers, like the ones at Pandora, report that iPhone’s SDK is just superb), that the value of the experience of the phone will grow over time as the community of developers embraces it.

Apple Enthusiasts & Your Mama Jokes

I have been on a MacBook Pro since December. I am still waiting for my moment of epiphany when I really perceive Mac as being superior to Windows.

To be fair, most of the problems that I have on my Mac are related to Windows software and networking. I primarily wanted a Mac for music and film editing. But if you are working in a Windows Office / Exchange environment, you’re going to encounter more issues than a PC user.

But not all of the issues on my Mac are Windows related. I see both computers as having their own set of problems. I find usability incredibly inconsistent on Macs. Macs feel like they are designed for a child: with cute icons that are often not labeled and a user-friendly Finder that compromises speed for usability. Usability Steve Krug, in his book, “Don’t Make Me Think”, even cites a few major Apple usability problems to demonstrate how prevalent usability issues are.

When I mention my issues to Mac enthusiasts, they often react as if I made a “your mama is so fat” joke. For these fans, there is no middle ground. Think of it this way: the brand reputations couldn’t be more different. Microsoft represents “the dark side” (commonly used among Mac fans), and Apple is the hip, smart, young guy we see in the PC Guy commercials. The brand messaging does a lot to make Apple users dig their heels in the ground. I see Mac enthusiasts as a population largely comprised of people who derive much of their identity externally – often by way of the brands with which they associate themselves. These fans see the urban chic iPod videos and see themselves.

An article in Salon (Why Apple Fans Hate Tech Reporters) states:

But for people who feel strongly about an issue — for Apple fanatics, for abortion partisans, for folks who think they know the truth about global warming or what’s going on in the Middle East — personal views feel distinct and luminous. Journalistic “objectivity” inevitably produces a muddier picture.

The article adds:

But many fans of Apple often seem to want more. They care little for honest opinion. They want to pick up the paper and see in it a reflection of their own nearly religious zeal for the thing they love. They don’t want a review. They want a hagiography.

Technology: Your Work Becomes a Document

In 1996, having recently completed a fermentation program in Davis (CA), I moved to San Francisco to brew beer.

Everyday, I put on rubber boots, gloves, and a protective, industrial version of a farmer’s overalls.   The work I did with my colleagues ended up in either kegs or bottles.  Packaging beer is an explosive, messy process.  Bottles would break, sending glass and beer around the room.  Kegs became geysers.

But at the end of the day, our work had physical presence.  We would move the cases and kegs into a truck, knowing that within days and weeks, our work would be in the bellies of people all over California.

But in the digital world, I feel like everything I do ends up in a document.

Additionally, my work sometimes seems shaped by the constraints of the document.

Powerpoint? Ok, I’ll create slides to create an emotional impact (making sure not to just put up bullet points with no images).

Excel?  Ok, I’ll show the relationship between everything.

Word? Not a problem – we’ll create a table of content and you’ll see what a great writer I am.

I wonder what my work would become if I didn’t have to design its embodiment by reverse engineering from the document options.

Study Determines Bloggers are Better in Bed

A recent study of 500 people, 250 of whom were bloggers and 250 were not, determined that bloggers are ranked as “excellent in bed” by their significant others 32% more often than those who do not blog.

The study by Mike Kopp, an independent marketing consultant in San Francisco, took three months to complete.

“I did the study because my hypothesis was that bloggers would be judged as worse in bed. An ex-girlfriend of mine got obsessed with blogging, to the point where she would be up late at night doing it. It began to feel like her whole reality was just fodder for her blog. I blamed our lack of sex life on her blogging.”

Kopp, who is 39 and self describes himself as “a marketing geek, a data junky, and fantastic in the sack” used two interns from Cal Poly SLO to carry out the study.

“I was stunned that the results came back radically different than my prediction, so I had the intern re-poll 10% of the bloggers significant others to ask why.”

The answer came back: passion.

“What we found is that people blog because they are passionate about something. These are people who stick to their interests long after others have moved on to something else.”

Asked about alternative explanations for his ex-girlfriend’s lack of interest in sex with him, Kopp replied, “Well, I’m starting to think she didn’t lose interest in sex, she just lost interest in it with me. And I can’t understand that, because I’ve been having sex with myself since I was 13 and a day doesn’t go by that I am still not interested in doing myself.”

Kopp added that his next study will “determine whether interns are better in the sack.”

If I Could Only Write for The Onion

In about ’96, I wrote a letter to The Onion notifying them of my intent to submit freelance articles. It seemed like such a natural fit. I was bummed when I found out (I think they may have written me back, not sure) that they do not accept submissions:

The Onion
Why the hell would they have that policy? Think of all the freaks out there who would finally have a place to focus their freak?

Ok, so, pieces I would have written:

I would have given out an annual “Lifetime Underachievement Award”.

Being that I do SEO, I’d have written a futuristic piece:

“People Finally Find Everything; Google Declares Bankruptcy”.