Tweets – 2012-08-31

  • The nice thing about having a baby is I don't need an alarm clock anymore. #
  • I think the world is ready for an art project where people paint scenes from Google Street View. #
  • I'm starting to hate purists. Look, if you ship something that's good enough, it's better than not shipping because it's not perfect. #
  • Would I go for Desire Modification? Hells yes. #
  • Ah, Autocad. #
  • Okay, Google, I HATE when then +1 button pops open a "SHARE THIS PLEASE OH PLEASE VALIDATE ME I LOVE YOU" box. Can we not do that anymore? #
  • So basically the Asus Transformer is what every new Windows 8 laptop is going to be. #
  • So basically magazine covers are Photoshop illustrations now. I mean, let's just be honest. Those aren't real people anymore. #
  • I wonder what it's like to possess a brain that doesn't think about everything all the time. Is that what being stupid is like? #
  • @gfmorris Our garbagepeople come at like 5am. There's no way I'm ever going to beat them to it. #
  • I always call it CAP LOCKS instead of CAPS LOCK or COCKSLAP. #
  • Unicameral houses mean fewer politicians. How can that not be a good thing? #
  • Owning a house is NOT all it's cracked up to be. It's an expensive pain in my ass. #
  • I feel like I'm the only person on Twitter today. #
  • @geofreyflores I guess it depends how the people you follow & follow you use it, right? If people don't every repl to anything… for sure. #
  • @gfmorris I guess it's better that way, less sticky and stinky. #
  • @geofreyflores I saw a chart where /r/iama had like 1 million page views sustained over two hours… quite something. Reverse slashdotting. #
  • Back on the hiring warpath. Lost a CNC op today. Wasn't getting it. Didn't want to keep trying to get it. #
  • Ah, LibreOffice. #
  • The difference between a colon and a semicolon… breaks the program. #
  • Holy IMTS spam, Batman. #
  • I didn't buy Vietnamese Seedy Banana Tea so it could taste like NOT bananas. What a ripoff. #
  • @quietgfmorris Dude, that sucks. You would make a *great* bartender. #
  • @quietgfmorris Well then it must be true! #
  • I'd like someone to go ahead and make a tablet with a non-reflective screen. Thaaaaaaanks. #
  • @lumberjackdelux Not really a tablet, sadly. Even the Kindle Fire has a glossy screen. #
  • @karibaumann I think you may have hit on some kind of theme there. #
  • Discovered Meadowvale Conservation Area tonight with the dogs. Lots and lots of open space. #
  • I don't really follow politics. I find it either makes me angry or depressed or both. I just vote every 2 years or so. #

Tweets – 2012-08-30

  • I find myself liking getting to work at 7:30am. #
  • Ah, CONCATENATE. #
  • Naming your kid after Lord Kelvin? No. There should absolute zero Kelvins in the world. #
  • I more and more hate dialing the phone by pushing actual number buttons. #
  • Sometimes it's nice to stop doing open-ended creative stuff and just sit down and do something mechanical with a defined end point. #
  • Being a business owner and being a talker are two things that should not go together. #
  • @rachellebaits AirCanada is just a way to shuttle self-loathing people through the skies. #
  • If I see another gosh darn debug message, I swear to you I'm going to punch a kitten. #
  • Dan Harmon says he originally pictured Patrick Stewart (among others) playing Pierce. If only, Dan Harmon. If only. #
  • @laurastargirl How do I +1 this on Twitter? #
  • I just realised my novella follows Dan Harmon's 8-point story algo perfectly… and I didn't even do that on purpose. #
  • @laurastargirl …I know that, silly 🙂 #
  • @laurastargirl I see your half-hearted laughter and I raise you a half-hearted sigh. #
  • The difference between markup and margin is often the difference between making money and losing your shirt. #
  • "The dubious honour of being outside the diorama." #thoughtfulspot #
  • "Kickstarter's evil nemesis… Startkicker!" I love it. #
  • http://t.co/6CCyVKQa I love this site, but I could do it better. #

Tweets – 2012-08-29

  • "You Need Just We Supply" — If I had any doubt your company was Chinese… I don't anymore. #
  • It's nice to know that my father is ageist, racist, and sexist. Not only that, but he can roll all those things into one sentence! #
  • @jeb_ I would love to be able to harvest the actual heads of mobs I've killed so I could mount them on pikes… as a warning. #
  • This is how I feel about Apple these days: https://t.co/sRRiLMjB #
  • @gfmorris Do you still use Instapaper? #
  • @gfmorris I just bought it for Android… and it's the absolute perfect fit for my Nexus 7. So thanks for the recommendation 🙂 #
  • @gfmorris @cjhubbs I'm especially digging the offline capabilities. There aren't a lot of times I'm without WiFi, but there are some times. #
  • @laurastargirl Oooh the floor looks nice in that pic. #
  • One of the major reasons I use @firefox over Chrome is tab groupings (aka Panorama). That's my killer feature. #
  • http://t.co/G9iWr7si – Sounds like something straight out of 1984. Which is ironic… considering that commercial. #
  • @laurastargirl Those winky smilies are too overtly sexual for my liking. #
  • It's amazing how much harder something is when you have to think about doing it as you're doing it. #
  • @errka Batman's father is actually a bat. Major daddy issues. Bane and Batman hug and make out a bit. It was really quite sweet. #
  • @laurastargirl No shit. #
  • @laurastargirl Kind of ironic to see a Chinese kid in a "one of a kind" onesie. #
  • You know how an actor leaves a tv show and the show just isn't as good? Mark from P&R is the opposite of that. #

Tweets – 2012-08-28

  • Muggy with a side of hot with a side of the wrong choice of clothing for this sort of day. #
  • @keithjgrant The jury foreman was invested (literally) in not doing that. #
  • @AMHHolland Awk, that sucks. I cringe at the idea of ever losing one of my pets. #
  • You know, I use Google+ a lot these days, but I really miss Twitter. Or I miss what Twitter could have been. #
  • @gfmorris I agree but in the end it's what the ecosystem and therefore the API make of it. You and I wouldn't be here otherwise, I imagine. #
  • @gfmorris What I really miss about what Twitter could have been is the idea of a universal message board for people, companies, and devices. #
  • @gfmorris No problem with that at all. But with the new API rules it's clear that Twitter wants to be a content company, not a platform. #
  • @aliciamcauley Here's a technique I find helpful to stop snoring: Death by strangulation. 100% effective. #
  • @gfmorris I was holding out hope 🙂 I guess it was either ads and content or freemium of some kind. #
  • @gfmorris Kind of rooting for http://t.co/hgVqULIh in the platform space. We'll see. #
  • @aliciamcauley I hope so, or that's a whole other set of problems. #
  • @marktraphagen I think Google's trying to build an algorithm that makes SEO's gaming activity good for the end user. That's the goal. #
  • @Prismatic Any chance we're going to get an Android App? I spend a lot of time on the Nexus 7 now, would love an app for that. #
  • Was there ever a time when clowns didn't seem fundamentally creepy? #
  • @rachellebaits Stupid Targaryens. #
  • #TagsWereAwesome #UntilYouLot #StartedOverusingThem #AndTotallyRuinedIt #ForTheRestOfUs #
  • @picturingjulie My sister Kristin was wearing blue pants this weekend. Just makes me think of Howard from TBBT. #
  • @gfmorris #MetaHashtagAbuse #
  • @picturingjulie Nooooooooooooo. No. Nonononono. There are no "best ones" on TBBT. They're all the worst. They're the Apple of people. #
  • So I've gotten all my thoughts about this whole Apple vs Samsung thing down on my blog. Now I can stop thinking about it. #

Apple vs Samsung: An Opinion

I’ve held off writing this piece for a few days now. Mostly to let the white haze of rage fade from my field of vision, but also to ruminate about the ruling.

I’m not going to comment about the ridiculous speed with which the jury reached the verdict, the idiocy of Samsung to even let the jury foreman on the jury at all (a calculated risk, I suppose, but a very bad one), or the saliency of Apple’s claims or Samsung’s defence.

Instead, I want to take a look at these two companies. Specifically, I want to take a look at their design philosophies, their business methods, and their supply chains. Then, finally, I want to take a look at the climate of insanity that let this lawsuit even come to trial.

Design philosophy

Apple is an odd company. They make very few products. They’re extremely secretive. They have a huge following, a huge (and, honestly, super-annoying) fanbase.

Cards on the table: I have owned two different iPods (a Nano and a Touch), and my wife owns a MacBook air and came into our marriage with a horrible white MacBook of some kind. My wife has an iPhone 3GS, and I have a HTC Desire and a Nexus 7.

Apple takes a great deal of care with their branding. They always have. Even though the old Macs look ridiculously outdated now, they were at the forefront of design culture of their time. The same is true today.

However in recent years Apple has become very minimalistic. Not only with the one-button thing (after all, remember those terribly uncomfortable unibutton mice that Apple shipped with their old PowerPC Macs… not sure if they still do that), but also with their branding. The Apple logo isn’t on the front of their device at all. In fact, they consciously avoid any branding on the front of their mobile devices.

So Apple’s branding is in fact a lack of branding. They rely on the design of the devices themselves to speak as branding. Whether or not this is a wise decision is left as an exercise for the reader, but let’s be honest… it works. It works well. It works really well.

You have to turn the device over to see the Apple logo. By the time you’ve gotten that far, you already know what the device is. This is Apple’s mindshare. Their trade dress patents reflect that. It may seem insane that Apple has patented the rectangular slab with rounded corners, but in light of the above, how could they not? Their image is exactly that: A blank slab with rounded corners and one button on the front.

Anything that looks like that screams, “This is an Apple device!”

Samsung on the other hand is a massive conglomerate that makes everything and the kitchen sink (including, I should add, a lot of the components that go into the iPhone and iPad). By the way, when I say they make the kitchen sink, I mean it literally. They have a line of kitchen sinks. I’m not kidding. Google that shit.

Samsung has no design philosophy, unless you consider “release anything and everything” to be a philosophy. The fact that they make everything and the kitchen sink is an opportunity for some massive synergies that they don’t seem to be able to capture. But that’s Samsung for you.

That said, they make great hardware. Clearly. Again, their hardware is in all Samsung phones… and in all iPhones. They know how to make components. They just lack a visual identity.

So let’s be honest here. Samsung copied Apple. Their devices, while slightly different sizes, were for a while essentially photocopied Apple devices. They made them look almost exactly like Apple devices, all the way down to the lack of branding on the front.

Now, they’ve stopped doing this now, and their flagship phones and tablets are starting to take on a sort of Samsung-ish visual language of their own (in other words, not very cohesive, and also to my eye, not very beautiful). This is something that HTC and Motorola have tried very hard to do, and have basically failed. If you consider the bubbly looks of most HTC phones, with their plastic moulded bumpers and screens that seem to emerge from the device, you can see that they’re at least trying (for the most part) to implement their own design philosophy. Motorola on the other hand has veered off toward the industrial, giving their devices hard corners and geometric designs. Some of these, such as the Droid Razr, look quite unique and actually quite nice. Others look like ground up shit on a plate.

The point it, Samsung looked at the market, looked at what it took to be successful in the market, and did that thing. They copied Apple’s design philosophy so closely that certain Apple and Samsung devices are virtually indistinguishable. And it worked. Samsung and Apple now rake in most of the profits in the smartphone sector. Samsung got there, in part, by efficiently copying Apple.

Obviously, this is a problem for Apple. Samsung is going to dilute their brand with, essentially, cheap knock-offs. They’re going to tarnish the lustre of Apple’s reality distortion field (the one that makes people grossly overpay for a mobile device).

Now, Apple should never have been allowed to patent the trade dress of a simple geometric shape with no branding. This is patently ridiculous. Pardon the pun. If you choose to base your brand on looking a certain way, and that certain way is basically Euclidean geometry, you deserve to be punished in the marketplace. Your device and your brand deserve to be knocked off, they deserve to be diluted. Apple made that bed. It should have to lie in it. I mean, there’s no easy way to get around that. And they clearly must have known that this would be a problem. There are only so many ways to make a tablet or a phone. Apple should not be able to own the most sensible (and most historically implemented) device design.

But they do own that. That’s been determined in court. (Though this could be a good thing: There are other ways to design a device that do not look exactly like an Apple device. Innovation in phone design can only be a good thing. Look for instance at the newer Nokia phones. They’re beautiful, or at least their renders are beautiful, as I’ve never seen a newish Nokia phone in person ever, not once, and they look nothing like an iWhatever.)

Samsung took a shortcut to success and now they’re paying for it. It’s not just, it’s not right, but it is the way it is. Until something changes with the way software patents and trade dress patents are awarded in the US, this lawsuit crap is just not going to stop. Apple has opened pandora’s box here. They nuked Russia, and the fallout is just going to spread and spread.

Business methods & manufacturing process

This is something I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a while. I want to talk about something only tangentially related to the case, and that is the way that Apple does business and manufactures devices, vs the way everyone (and I mean everyone) else does.

In case you haven’t noticed, it looks like Apple only makes a handful of devices. This is actually not true at all. They make a handful of lines of devices, but they make quite a few devices at the same time.

This manufacturing and marketing philosophy is what I call the Moore’s Law Supply Chain.

Apple doesn’t want to be seen as a maker of crappy phones and outdated hardware. That’s not to say that they don’t make crappy phones (the iPhone 3gs, still in production as far as I know, is a remarkably shitty phone compared to just about everything else, including but not limited to the HTC Desire that I still use to this day). They just don’t want to look like they make crappy phones.

So they have one line of phones, and that’s called the iPhone. Maybe one day they’ll have two, one big and one small, but right now they just have one. But they still sell three different phones. The iPhone 4S gets all the attention, and the downmarket folks buy the 4 or the 3GS. When the 5 comes out, it will get all the attention, but mark my words, they’ll still sell the 4 and 4S, even though soon the iPhone 4 will be a remarkably shitty phone compared to just about everything else on the market.

They do this because they need a cheap phone for people who want cheap phones but don’t want an Android for whatever reason. They need to satisfy the full spectrum of consumers.

Apple can do this because the manufacturing process for the 3GS is so well known, and the components so cheap, that they can make it for a fraction of the price of their latest gear, sell it for a fraction of the price of their latest devices, and still make a killing on it.

So they preserve their profits all the way down the line (and this is something Apple will never, ever compromise on; if there comes a day where Apple is cutting their margins to sell more phones, the Apple that Steve Jobs helmed will well and truly be dead and gone), and preserve their brand image as well.

Of all the things that Apple has done to the mobile device sector, this is the one that I respect them most for. I don’t think they invented this practice, but they’ve certainly perfected it. The Moore’s Law Supply Chain is both savvy and exceedingly clever.

Samsung, HTC, and Motorola, on the other hand, release a wide spectrum of phones every year. And throughout the year. Instead of capitalising on a simplified command structure (less infighting, fewer managers and staff needed, no silos, everyone working on the same flagship products instead of 10 teams working on 10 different products), a simplified manufacturing process and supply chain (as detailed above), and brand focus (the iPhone can launch with a bang every 1 – 2 years because there is literally no other Apple phone to steal the spotlight), they’ve managed to dilute their own brand in their own markets.

Where Apple has to fear people like Samsung eating their design lunch, Samsung has more to worry about from itself! They have so many wildly varying devices for every conceivable lifestyle, desire, and taste that they can’t bring themselves to focus on just one thing.

Now, this is changing. Motorola under Google is doing away with this. Samsung seems to be focusing on the Galaxy line. But still they have a wide array of phones with long, stupid, acronym-laden names. They should have 3 phones, max. A small, a medium, and a big one. The Whatever, the Galaxy, and the Note. You can sell last year’s Whatever or Galaxy or Note to the hillbilly who wants a $99 smartphone.

Can you see how these companies are laden down by their desire to produce everything for everyone? They have this problem with everything they build. Have you seen how many different kinds of televisions Samsung makes? Or their appliance line? It truly boggles the mind. Their market segmentation department must be staffed by coked-up monkeys. I swear.

So that’s that.

Patents are bad, etc

Now. As for the prevailing patent paradigm, things obviously have to change. Some of the patents that Apple asserted in their trial were absolutely trivial or had a lot of prior art behind them.

I can only wonder at the staggering amounts of money that must go into stockpiling these nonsense patents. Imagine right now the research departments at all the major mobile tech companies, and how much effort they must be going through to come up with new and more obvious things to patent. Just so when the time comes they can legislate. This is innovation for the sake of mutually assured destruction.

It’s insane.

There has to be some sort of massive change in the winds of patents in the US. There has to be. Even congressmen must be able to see that the situation in the mobile market right now is completely untenable.

We have a company, Apple, who is using a set of (again, let’s be honest here) ridiculous patents to restrict my choice in devices both now and in the future, and causing an innovation vacuum as other companies scramble to adapt to this new, restrictive reality.

There’s no room for new entrants in a market like this. The cost of licensing or the cost of being sued into the ground: Take your pick.

Something happens. Or else, something does not happen.

Back in the day I used to blog about my life. It wasn’t anything grand, really. No very deep thoughts. Just some observations. Things to remember and so forth.

I don’t do that anymore.

I used to call this a personal narrative. But it never really was. I wasn’t writing to me. I was writing to me plus you and whoever else. And with the demise of blogs in general, with the audience disappearing, with the interaction gone, so was I.

That’s one story. Here’s another:

I used to call this a personal narrative. When I look back on what I wrote as my personal narrative, I realised the story sucked. There wasn’t much going on. Anything worth writing about would have to be tangential to my life story, and then it’s not so much a personal narrative but a collection of things I wanted to write about at any given moment. And why do that? What’s the value?

Or another:

I used to take myself too seriously. I used to take life itself too seriously. It’s easy to write about the things you take seriously. But when you stop taking life so seriously, you stop writing about it.

There is some truth to each of these stories, I think. Most things have more than one reason.

This morning I read a very insightful, very beautifully written piece of blogging by a friend. Not a close friend. But a friend. She wrote about her life in a way that made me feel, which is a rare thing.

Whenever I see someone do something wonderful, I want to do that wonderful thing as well.

I want to make you feel something. If that’s not too much to ask.

So maybe I’ll take up writing again, writing more often, more personally. Or maybe I’ll do none of those things. I never know how I’ll feel about that wonderful thing a few days later.

Or as Paul Auster says,

Something happens. Or else, something does not happen. A body moves. Or else, it does not move. And if it moves, something begins to happen. And even if it does not move, something begins to happen.

Interviews

It’s that time again!

I get to do interviews. I get to help decide who stays and who goes.

Problem is, I don’t really like people all that much. And most of the people that waltz through this office hunting for a job only deepen that dislike.

I seriously wonder how some of these people ever got any job, much less a high-paying technical job.

We offer on-the-job training for machine programmers and operators. We don’t require a BA or a PHD or really any education of any kind. All we ask is that you show up, you’re able to learn, and that you do your job. You need some problem-solving skills and maybe some mechanical aptitude.

Half the people we hire have a massive problem with showing up. Just getting in the door on time, being here 5 days a week.

Another 20% can’t learn. They just can’t stuff information into their heads and then act on it.

A small percent are able to show up, able to learn, but just don’t do their job. They’d rather goof off or whatever.

Then there are the very, very few people who can show up, learn, and work. These are the people we actively try to keep. They’re hard to find, but they’re also hard to keep. We’ve had a lot of good people leave for different fields and greener pastures.

But the soul-crushing reality is that most people who come through the doors here aren’t fit to be a part of the “new economy”. They don’t get it. It really makes me wonder about the future of the workforce if we can’t even find qualified candidates for a job that has no educational requirement coupled with on-the-job training.

About not blogging enough…

Chris Hubbs thinks he’s not blogging enough. I think we’re all not blogging enough.

I remember a wonderful span of 2 – 3 years where everyone had a blog. Everyone. And most of us were on Blogger (regrettably), we had these long blogrolls, we’d all write these long personal posts, and everyone would do the rounds and comment.

Those were the glory days.

Then social media really took off. Now we’re all posting links and commenting on them, or posting tiny snippets of our lives and commenting on those. I guess it’s more like a conversation than a session with a shrink, and maybe that’s good thing.

But I don’t think it is. I don’t feel like I get to know people through social media as well as I do when I read their mini-essays.

Maybe I just miss being able to craft my own façade easily in long form. Maybe I just have less time available.

Maybe I’m just a sentimentalist.

Some wonderful notes about writing.

From Sam J Miller’s blog… some notes from the Clarion workshop.. And when I say “some notes”, I actually mean a lot of awesome notes. He doesn’t say who he’s quoting, which makes it a bit easier to take all the advice and weigh it for yourself without being name-checked into mental submission. Though I definitely picked out I few from Vernor Vinge in there.

Here are a few examples:

“A character’s lowest stakes are his own life, because if they die nothing matters. The highest stakes are his emotional investments. In Die Hard we don’t’ worry that he’ll die as much as we worry whether he’ll save his marriage.”

“How the character responds when the rules are bent or broken helps us understand the rules.”

“In real life, the pettier a crime is, the more forgivable. In fiction, it’s the opposite. Tripping a waiter is just about the worst thing you can do—-but theft is so forgivable it’s often shorthand for awesome.”

“In a romantic relationship, a power imbalance is dangerous. It can get creepy, fast, unless the powerless character has SOME fundamental strength or power that makes the relationship real and complex.”

“With no twist, no turnabout, and no surprises, the story will leave the reader pretty flat. It doesn’t have to be huge. Sometimes a character thinks something will be a very good thing, but it turns out to be terrible. Or they think something is bad, and it turns out to be good in a surprising way. We need a reversal of expectations.”

“Dialogue is always a negotiation. Someone has more power than the other, or has something the other person wants, or loves the other more.”

“You guys want the real secret to being a great writer? Apply ass to chair.”

And those are only a few of a number of great quotes.