Category: Uncategorized

Remembering Steve Jobs

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John Siracusa remembering Steve Jobs and the lowly days of the mid 1990’s.

By this point in my life, I’d also had enough experience with government, corporations, and academic bureaucracies to understand what happens to organizations as they get larger. The middle-managers and empire-builders start to take root. Each problem results in a new guideline or process meant to prevent the problem from ever occurring again. Metrics are added, because managers can’t manage what they can’t measure. Individual incentives shift so far from the stated corporate goal that they actively work against it. Intrinsic motivation wanes. The ability to do truly great work all but disappears.

Having lived in the trenches of corporate jobs for the past 13 years, the Fox can attest the above is true.

For me, the biggest dent Steve Jobs left in the world was that it didn’t have to be.

14 Steps to Hating Amazon Music

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The Fox has mentioned it before. The words flow from his pointy mouth quite easily.

“Don’t buy music from Amazon.”

It’s a pretty specific statement. Not much room for interpretation.

But sometimes his wife can only find some obscure song she’s looking for on Amazon.

And then it begins.

Not that iTunes is any gem, but iTunes generally behaves in expected ways and doesn’t get in the way when the Fox is trying to do something.

There appear to be some philosophical differences at Amazon.

Mrs. Fox generally hates computers, so after hunting down the song she’s looking for, she enlists Mr. Fox to go kill it.

This should only take a minute. Except it doesn’t. This does.

  1. On the Amazon website the Fox clicks the clearly marked button “Buy Now” next to the song. (Super easy! +5 points.)
  2. A pop-up window is displayed stating that to buy the song the Fox must download the Amazon Music player app. The Fox is not amused. He only wants to download an MP3 of the song he just bought. “Not so fast”, says Amazon. “We have an entire music playing application that you must have to get the most satisfaction out of that song.” (This is dumb. -5 points.)
  3. Reluctantly, the Fox clicks the clearly marked button to “Download the App”. (This is also dumb…of the Fox. He should have just quit right here. -3 points.)
  4. The app installer downloads and the Fox gets to experience the always exciting application installation process. This wouldn’t be terrible if the Fox was in the market for a new application. He’s not. (Total waste of time. -10 points.)
  5. The new Amazon Music Player app instantly and automatically (read: without the Fox’s desire, consent, or prompting) detects his giant iTunes library and automatically starts importing all songs. The Fox frantically looks for but can’t find any way to stop this. (Automatically doing things the Fox doesn’t want done is not helpful while also inducing anger like symptoms. -20 points.)
  6. Ignoring the annoying import taking place against his will, the Fox begins to look for the song that he just purchased. Surely it’s right here front and center. It’s not. It’s not anywhere. He searches, sorts, filters. Nothing. (This has quickly turned into an exercise in torture. -150 points.)
  7. The music player then alerts the Fox, via pop-up, that he must agree to the Terms and Conditions to use this new app that he never wanted in the first place. The only provided link in the pop-up says “View Terms and Conditions” and…wait for it…clicking the link launches Safari and opens a WEB PAGE! That’s right. The Fox has been thrown out of an app he never wanted into another app he wasn’t expecting to read a web page he never wanted to see. Oh to have been in the room while this experience was cobbled together. (Moving into the realm of pure disbelief. -1,789 points)
  8. The web page has one single banner talking about how awesome Amazon Prime is and how the Fox really needs to use Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime is really great and only losers don’t use Amazon Prime. At the bottom is a small link to view those terms and conditions he was told about, then a rather prominent button that says “Try Amazon Prime”. Now, read carefully. Under the prominent “Try Amazon Prime” button is text that says something like, “To agree to the terms and conditions, click the Try Amazon Prime button.” What? The Fox is stunned, feeling like he’s wandered into some 90’s era Gateway store full of cow-print boxes and Microsoftian crap-ware and devious up-sell quotas. How did I get here. Where the heck is that song I bought? Why can’t I speak in 3rd person anymore? (Dazed and confused -1,345,449 points.)
  9. Desperate to regain some slim grip on reality, (and out of some masochistic curiosity) the Fox clicks the “Try Amazon Prime” button feeling certain he can cancel whatever fee trial garbage he has unwittingly signed up for. The web page closes and he’s back in the Amazon Music Player app that is chugging away on his entire iTunes library, but still has no trace of the one single song he purchased through Amazon. (Do the points even matter anymore?)
  10. But wait, there’s more! The horrendously unhelpful music player has noticed that the Fox bought a physical CD for his dad six years ago via Amazon, and while the Fox was getting scammed into signing up for Amazon Prime, the app decided to start automatically downloading the entire album digitally. Haven’t we already had the talk about doing things automatically? What the heck is the Fox going to do with 21 The Best of Hank Williams songs? Certainly not play them.
  11. Still disillusioned, the Fox finds himself typing away frantically in the search bar to find the ONE AND ONLY song he cares about at all – the ONE SONG HE JUST BOUGHT. Nothing. The song doesn’t exist.
  12. Out of a maniacal compulsion to complete the full 7th circle of hell he’s wandered into, he goes back to Amazon’s website and actually…buys…the song…again. That’s right. The Fox has become more than willing to pay twice the price to somehow extract himself from this Amazonian technologist’s Rube Goldberg machine.
  13. Upon the second purchase attempt, Amazon’s website recognizes that the Fox already has the Super Crappy Amazon Music Player App that He Never Wanted TM and prompts him to download the song into said app. The Fox mashes the “Download Song” button with a ferocity that nearly shatters his mouse, the desk and the universe.
  14. He’s taken back to the Super Crappy Amazon Music Player App He Never WantedTM and his purchased song is displayed front and center.

As of this writing, the Fox has no idea if he actually paid for the song twice or just experienced Amazon’s standard music buying process.

With all the politeness the Fox can muster, he calmly tells Mrs. Fox they will never buy music from Amazon ever again. Ever.

Excellent Sheep – The Failed Promise of Ivy League Schools

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This notion that you’ve got to do X, Y, and Z or else your life is over makes you end up as a high functioning sheep. You end up being the kind of leader that I talk about in the last section of the book. You get the top, or you get near the top, but you don’t actually do anything interesting there—you just sort of fulfill your function in the organization. You don’t initiate or create.

Kids who have the yoke of perfection thrust upon them, tend to strive for perfection within the boundaries of the system in which they find themselves. But success in life looks very different than academia, and often requires significant thinking beyond the current system – and many schools are missing that very point.

Ivy League schools promise success, but often lead to depression

Man Invests in 49-Year-Old Post Office Employee

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By his late forties, he was still a postal worker by day, writing a column for LA’s underground magazine Open City in his spare time and collaborating on a short-lived literary magazine with another poet.

In 1969, the year before Bukowski’s fiftieth birthday, he caught the attention of Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, who offered Buk a monthly stipend of $100 to quit his day job and dedicate himself fully to writing.

Look around and you will find greatness sitting in a soul-sucking job waiting for someone to believe in them.

Bukowski’s Letter of Gratitude to the Man Who Helped Him Quit His Soul-Sucking Job and Become a Full-Time Writer