Public transport

Every time I see a bus packed with people, I say a silent thank you to all of the passengers.

I can’t help but think of this comparison:

Car versus bus versus bike
(via: Going Car Free)

Taking public transport, even when it’s crowded, or rainy, or hot is a valuable contribution to society. If only more people did it when possible (I totally get that it’s often not feasible).

We don’t need more roads, we need more public transport. It’s been said many times.

Which is why when I see suggestions like this (that has been massively shared on social) I shake my head – all that design and initiative wasted as they try to solve the effects of the problem and not the problem itself:

Apple Pay is really new and amazing for some people

I used Apple Pay this morning in a shop and the girl behind the counter was amazed by it. She wanted to know all about it and how it worked. She was young and tech savvy and yet this was an entirely new (and massively cool) concept for her.

If you have an AMEX and have had Apple Pay for a while you’ll likely find this strange – to you paying with Apple Pay is probably so routine you’re actually surprised when you can’t use it. Soon, for all ANZ customers this will be a similar experience.

However, the point here is that just because something is old hat to you, it doesn’t mean it’s old hat for everyone else. For many people, the things you take for granted are close to magical for them.

Never forget this when you communicate via your marketing and personal relationships.

The last thing you want to be is that arrogant tosser who looks down dismissively on those who haven’t yet integrated magic into their daily activities.

Netflix launches Fast but should really call it Random

Netflix released their own stripped down version of SpeedTest called Fast – here try it now.

I don’t know if it’s indicative of how bad our internet connection is or what, but it seems that every time I try it I get a vastly different speed result. In the last few minutes my speeds have ranged from 1.2 Mbps through to 25 Mbps with no discernible pattern.

I tried it on my phone (switching to 4G) and got even wider speed ranges, anything from 2Mbps up to 67 Mbps.

I love the simple, uncluttered (and importantly ad-free) approach, but frankly it’s useless.

Remote working and company culture

This piece by David Niu on Entrepreneur made me think. In it he outlines his view that remote working inhibits company culture.

He notes his own views:

I firmly believe that a strong company culture determines your success, and you can’t have a strong culture without people working together in an office setting.

and

A strong workplace culture is an organization’s No. 1 competitive advantage because you need enthusiastic, excited employees to build great products and delight your customers. When a majority of your employees work remotely, you lose the ability to build that culture.

That’s not so say that remote working is without benefits. From their own conducted research he notes that remote workers are generally happier, more productive and felt more valued.

Whilst he provide stats and studies about the benefits of remote work, he only provides opinions (his) about the inability to build culture in a remote environment.

Others would disagree, but perhaps only armed with opinions themselves. Matt Mullenweg (WordPress) is a good example and there are others. Important to note that all of the top performing remote working companies have regular staff meetups. So perhaps it’s about getting the balance right.

Techmeme de-clickbait-ifying

Techmeme is the first thing I check every morning. It’s my window to the tech world. One of things I really appreciate is their human editing of headlines. Not only do they de-clickbaitify, but they also add details that help to communicate the real story.

Here’s a story from The Verge:

Apple updates iTunes with a ‘simpler’ design that doesn’t really help

And here’s the Techmeme augmented version:

Apple releases iTunes 12.4, brings back left sidebar, but doesn’t address core issues with navigation and possibly makes it worse

Here’s a headline from The Washington Post:

What happened when a professor built a chatbot to be his teaching assistant

And here’s the much more useful Techmeme version:

Computer science professor successfully used IBM’s Watson to make an AI teaching assistant for answering questions online

Next time you plan something, write something, send something, make sure you are adding value, not squandering attention.

There’s a reason I head to Techmeme everyday, and hardly ever to The Verge.

Podcasting thoughts I agree with

I liked Marco Arment’s thoughts about Apple’s dominant position in the podcast world. It was a response to this NYT article. Speaking about Apple’s role in podcasting Marco writes:

Apple has only ever used its dominant position benevolently and benignly so far, and as the medium has diversified, Apple’s role has shrunk. The last thing podcasters need is for Apple to increase its role and dominance.

And the last thing we all need is for the “data” economy to destroy another medium.

Being a podcaster myself I’m actually a data fan (was going to say a ‘big data fan’, but that would confuse things) and love analysing analytics to learn more about interactions and behaviours. So my natural tendency is to want more – especially with podcasting where the data available is definitely light. But in the scheme of things I’m persuaded heavily by Marco’s comments (and John Gruber’s).

It’s not just Australia that has fucked internet

Here’s an all too common example of political incompetence and bungling when it comes to technology and infrastructure planning.

And I thought it was just the NBN that had issues – at least we’ve got something rolling (albeit limping) out…

Of course The Backburner nails it in a piece that you’d be forgiven for thinking was all too real:

The Turnbull Government has announced that the delays in rolling out the NBN and limits on download speeds were all along part of a calculated effort to somehow slow down Australia’s pirating of Game of Thrones.

Telstra Pricing

I’ve been in the US for the last two weeks. Before I left I purchased a Telstra 14 Day Travel Pass. It worked out well, because it ran out when I was at the airport about to head home.

Here’s the text message I got (the second message is the item of interest):

Telstra notification

Basically, since I was a Travel Pass customer I was going to now pay 3c per MB. At this price I’m assuming Telstra still makes some profit.

Which means that if you are a Data Pack customer, and thus forced to pay $3 per MB (ie 100 times as much as a Travel Pass customer) then Telstra is well and truly fucking you over.

Ripoff

Twitter: The poster child of technology inefficiency

You should read this post from Eugene Wei (no really, go read it) and consider it in terms of inefficiency.

Think back to when Twitter first started. By the time you and I were getting involved, it’s likely the need for the SMS limited character limitation was long gone. Only the earliest of early adopters would have actually been around when it was in fact needed.

But the character limitation was there, which was why a whole bunch of work-arounds started appearing. The first was the url shortener movement.

Result: Twitter was imposing unnecessary barriers that other companies (eg bit.ly) then created tools (and entire businesses) to overcome. Here’s what I said about it in 2009. So inefficient. And costly.

Url shorteners went on to make up for some of the inefficiency by enabling click analysis and reporting, so it wasn’t all bad of course. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it was the right path (since reporting could have been implemented in other ways, and much more efficiently).

And that brings us back to Eugene’s article where he so beautifully paints[1] the picture of an inefficient product going from bad to worse.

The inefficiency highlights so far:

  • impose length limitation and keep it (for no good reason)
  • URL shorteners become popular to allow long links to be included in tweets
  • tweet storms used as a way to write longer updates
  • messy reply threading not understood by most people
  • screenshorts now becoming common as another way of writing longer updates

Soooo inefficient.

[1] Note: Eugene’s post, whilst certainly discussing the merits of potentially removing the character limit, isn’t necessarily focussed on that – he has other key points around the larger picture of Twitter’s strategy that he covers really well.