Is Apple trying to buy off “Fake Steve” or is it April 1 in December?

I wrote recently about Fake Steve and wondered aloud how he could get away with what he gets away with.

If that thread interested you at all, you’ve got to go look at the latest shenanigans that Fake Steve is reporting in his blog. He’s being offered big bucks to stop blogging.

“[snip…] He sits there with his hands on his knees. He says, I’m authorized to go as high as five hundred thousand dollars, but that’s it.[snip…] From Secret Diary of Fake Steve Jobs

Hall of mirrors. Is this Fake Steve Jobs speaking, or is it Daniel Lyons for real, or is it Fake Daniel Lyons?

Originally posted on Dec 23, 2007. Reprinted courtesy of ReRuns plug-in.

Let’s give GPSs the EMOTION feature

Maybe it’s because I just arrived from a long drive and stay in New York where I was guided by the nose by my TomTom GPS lady.

Did you know that the Garmin GPS Lady gets a little annoyed when you choose a direction different from what is suggested? She says something like: “Incorrect Route, Recalculating…”, which after you hear it two or three times sounds like “Incorrect  Route, you jerk, you are wasting my time again by making me do all this work to recompute another route for you. Can’t you listen???” The TomTom lady just suffers in silence and provides you with a new route as soon as she sees that you didn’t follow directions.

Which led me to thinking of a cool feature that none of the GPSs that I’ve seen or heard of have. I think it would be differentiated enough that vendors would put it as one of a few features printed on the front of the box. At any rate, if that much doesn’t come true, at least it would be funny! Here’s the idea.

In addition to picking the voice, as you can today (“American, Female”, “New York Cab Driver”, “747 Captain”) let me also say what the emotion iis. Could you imagine:

NERVOUS: “Oh no, please don’t go that way, I can’t say what might happen, but it can’t turn out well….”

MOTIVATING: “Don’t worry that you missed that turn. You’re a good driver and I know that you have a good reason to making the change. I am always impressed with your rapid and effective decision making!”

CASTIGATING: “You dope, there you go again. I have applied the computing and data resources of the universe to find you the best possible route. All you have to do is steer. I mean really, are you totally a waste of space?”

Add your own additional ideas. I think it would sell like crazy and who knows, reduce driver fatigue and accidents too!

Originally posted on Jul 29, 2009. Reprinted courtesy of ReRuns plug-in.

Passion vs. Professionalism: Everyone has to take the garbage out some times

Interesting article with a provocative title: “The Designer’s Notebook: Passion Versus Professionalism“. This is a topic that interests me. He says:

“Passion” is an excuse used by employers to mistreat their employees. Your passion is supposed to make up for the insane hours and low pay for which the industry is notorious. Many job ads emphasize the importance of passion in applicants; few emphasize the quality of life that the employer offers. (from Passion vs. Professionalism”)

Reading the whole article, in the end I don’t agree with his argument. I think in general passion is a very important thing, and one should strive for it in your chosen profession. Without it, with just professionalism, I think no matter what your work is, it will become drudgery. I say “strive for it” because it’s true that no matter how much you love your job, some days you will really despise it. And as my friend Pat used to say about an unpleasant work assignment:  “Everyone has to take out the garbage some times”

Khan academy to the rescue

If you haven’t heard about Khan Academy, let me be the first one to introduce you to its wonders. There is a huge library of 10-12 minute educational videos on high-school and college level topics from matrix math to trigonometry to how mortgages work. You need to read the background, it’s an unbelievably prolific individual guy, Kahn, who  records each one of these. From what he says, he’s not an expert in all of them, he just ‘bones up’ on the topic and then records the session. The quality of the teaching is really amazing.

Case in point. A few weeks ago I had to recall how and why matrix multiplication works. I knew that stuff cold, 40 years ago. Yesterday I had to bone up on sines and cosines and the simple math there. I didn’t even remember that this stuff is called trigonometry (I was looking under geometry.) In each case I thought, oh I will just google it. I will look in wikipedia. I spent 15 minutes without success and then I went to Khan academy. Another 20-30 minutes later and I was up to date on the basic trigonometry and matrix knowledge that I needed.

Amazing. Check Khan Academy out.

Designing a game soundtrack – kind of like we first got to pick the fonts in our documents

Can you compose crappy music? I had a field day today ‘designing’ a bit of music for my “Game Of Life” Android game. In the old old days, when computers for the first time allowed you to choose a font for your text. we all became bad amateur typographers and book designers. Do you remember the “ransom note” font in the original Macintosh (yeah, that was 1984?) It looked like this:

Ransom note

We loved it and everyone played with it. And there were lots of other ugly fonts but how did we love them.

Well now (for me) the same thing is happening with music. Yeah I am an amateur piano and guitar player but designing a sound track is not something I have a clue about. So I went digging through tools and toys and, more or less like those early days of customizable fonts, here’s what the tools allowed me to create for my video game.

I have to say it’s awful and makes me want to bash my head in but, for your listening pleasure: