Almost daily

I started writing daily posts at the beginning of April and now I’m up to 72 consecutive posts. When I started, I didn’t have an intention of writing something every day, but I got on a roll and kept on going. I don’t write a stack of posts and then schedule them out during the week, I either write them on the day I post or the day before. Writing every day is fun, but lately I’ve been getting more and more busy with other things in my life and I feel like it’s affecting the quality of my posts. From now on, I’ll be writing more infrequently, when I have more time and energy. I don’t know if there will be a regular schedule for when I want to post, but I’m thinking about writing longer posts on weekends and when I have more time off. Thanks for reading.

Five tips

  • It’s never a good idea to burn bridges, but sometimes you want to make sure they never come back to you again
  • A bad teacher can ruin any subject
  • Always test the moisture level of a seat with your hand on public transportation before sitting down
  • Don’t throw away IKEA pencils, save them for later use at an event or a gathering
  • Always write down your ideas on the spot

Redundant restrictions

A busy road I use to commute has been under construction for the better part of a year. Sometimes the lowered speed limit starts too far from the construction site or doesn’t end when it’s no longer needed. Drivers aren’t dumb and speed up when there’s no apparent need to drive slowly. Sprinkle enough redundant limits and people will question following them altogether.

Don’t create restrictions unless there’s an actual need to do so and when you do, make sure the reasons and benefits are clear to everyone. Every additional meter of a speed limit that’s no longer applicable devalues its power and respect.

You can enforce limits on people either by fear of punishment or by creating a reason to do so that benefits them. Which one do you think works better?

Cloud or code?

Cloud services aimed at businesses offer a cost-effective and a hassle-free way to create a digital service which would otherwise need a team of developers, a lot of money and expensive hosting. Most of them are mouse driven and require little to no technical knowledge after the initial setup. But when is using a cloud based service not the route you should take? Consider these questions first:

  • Do you need custom features?
  • Should the data be hosted at a certain location (country, continent) due to legal reasons?
  • Do you know exactly what your requirements are or should there be room for improvising new features?
  • How well does the cloud service scale feature and price wise?
  • Have you reviewed all of the use cases for the service and compared them to its features?
  • Are you prepared to accept an arbitrary limitation that might pop up and prevent something from working the way you thought it would?

I’m a big fan of using cloud services, but they’re not a magical one-size-fits-all solution. The better your own specification and planning for what you want out of a cloud service, the easier it is to figure out if it fits your business’ needs.

Fill the void

Simpsons and Family Guy both started as traditional cel animation, 4:3 aspect ratio cartoons. Eventually they went digital paint and ink and to a wider 16:9 aspect ratio. I don’t think either show has looked as good as they did before the transition and I couldn’t figure out exactly why. BoJack Horseman, Rick and Morty and most anime series look great in 16:9 and hair thin outlines.

The difference is that neither show was really designed for a larger screen. They had to adapt as technology (TVs) improved. Essentially both shows got a lot more real-estate, but didn’t fill it with anything. Artistically the Simpsons residence looks more or less the same as it did when the show debuted in the late eighties. Peter Griffin still wears the same clothing as he did in 2001.

Copying and pasting from an old format to a new one rarely works out well without proper changes and design.

What’s the cost of bad design?

I regularly visit a small shopping center which has numerous design issues, but one of them stands out. A busy side entrance has sliding doors which are attached to a motion sensor. The sensor itself is fine, but it’s positioned incorrectly. If you approach the door from an angle, nothing happens. The doors stay shut. If you walk backwards and attempt to trigger the sensor, still nothing. Only if you do a proper double take and walk directly towards the doors, open sesame.

Most shoppers who can’t get in, end up either using another door or wait until someone walks out so the the doors open. The cost for the user is minor stress and irritation. The cost for the business is having staff deal with someone who was just made feel stupid by a door. Stressful interactions lead to more sickdays.

However, some just turn away and go shop somewhere else. For those selected few, the cost of bad design is literal: they will spend their money elsewhere.


A great way to vet people is…

…by finding out if successful people are talking about them. I ran across a video on goal setting by someone I hadn’t heard of, Zig Ziglar. The video I saw was interesting and the content checked out, but I was still suspicious: who is this guy? Is he legit?

Then I got an idea. I typed his name into the search field on Seth Godin’s blog. Lo and behold, there he was. Several blog posts not only mentioning the very same man, but celebrating him and his methods. This guy is for real.

Explore your surroundings

When I was going to university in England, I lived on a long straight street full of typical English row houses. Down the street was a Tesco supermarket and an entire avenue full of small shops. For months I didn’t bother walking up the street because it looked like there was nothing there. One day, for whatever reason, I did just that and discovered a small corner shop much closer to my house. Granted I usually ended up going to Tesco anyways, but I learnt something important: always explore.

If you start using a new program, go through all the settings and push all the buttons. When you move to a new neighborhood, take a few hours to walk around and be mindful of what you see. Take a different route on your commute, switch to a different bus or a train. And of course, see the world and travel as much as you can.

Two wrongs don’t make a right

There’s a common trend with bad fast food restaurants. If the fries are stale and taste bad, you can rectify the situation by adding an extra portion of stale fries to the order. The math behind this is simple. Soggy fries taste roughly half as good as freshly cooked ones, so a double portion fixes the problem.

Of course that’s not how any of this works. The fries still taste terrible, now you just have twice was many. Some companies (read people) are rooted in a post-war like mentality where quantity is always more important than quality, where scarcity is still an issue. Pushing down prices (with quality), inability to modernize, aiming to please everyone, having an inconsistent product line and concentrating on “maximizing profits” is a surefire path to a difficult existence and extreme competition where the biggest company almost always wins.

Review your old Facebook posts easily

Reviewing your old (and perhaps embarrassing) Facebook posts by using the “Activity log” is a lot of work. Active users have thousands, if not tens of thousands of likes, comments, posts and so on to go through. An easier way is to check the “On this day” feature once a day. It lists all the posts you made on that particular day of the year. If you do this every day for 365 days, in theory you have just gone through all of your Facebook posts!