Sunday, December 21, 2014

Jeff Bezos: Why It Won't Matter If The Fire Phone Flops

Business Insider

Bezos says that his philosophy for Amazon is to encourage people to make bold bets and iterate on them, while still accepting that some might fail.  "If you're going to take bold bets, they're going to be experiments," he says. "And if they're experiments you don't know ahead of time if they're going to work. Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure. But a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn't work."


Bezos highlighted a few big, bold bets that ended up being huge boons to the company that "pay for a lot of the experiments": Amazon Web Services, Kindle, Amazon Prime, and Amazon Marketplace, the company's third-party seller business. Those successes give Amazon the opportunity to reinvest in itself and try new things.


The Geography of Gratitude

The Atlantic

For Facebook users who recently passed around a status-update game, the answer was pretty clear: friends, family, and health.

The analysis was released Tuesday by the Facebook data science team. It examined the aggregated results of a popular status message passed among friends earlier this year. For instance, one status said, “write three things you are thankful for over the next five days” and was tagged with friends who should respond.

Think of it as an ice bucket challenge of gratitude.


Kierkegaard on the Individual vs. the Crowd, Why We Conform, and the Power of the Minority


“When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else,” Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her spectacular meditation on happiness and conformity, “you surrender your own integrity [and] become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” And yet conformity is not only a survival strategy for us but also something institutionally indoctrinated in our culture.

A century earlier, the great Danish writer and thinker Søren Kierkegaard, celebrated as the first true existentialist philosopher and an active proponent of the benefits of keeping a diary, contemplated this eternal tension between the individual and the crowd. Writing in The Diary of Søren Kierkegaard (public library | IndieBound) — the same fantastic window into his inner world that gave us Kierkegaard’s prescient insight on the psychology of online trolling and bullying — he considers how our incapacity for quiet contemplation cuts us off from our true self and instead causes us to adopt by passive absorption the ideals of others.


5 Lessons All Departments Can Learn From the Customer Service Department

Huffington Post

Being service oriented is harder. If it wasn't everyone would be service oriented. In fact somewhere along the line you were a customer who got less than great service. And you went to another brand didn't you? Of course you did. In fact 89 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service according to RightNow's Customer Experience Impact Report.

1.     Sales can learn from support's can-do attitude.

2.     You make the customer *feel* right even if their wrong.

3.     Marketing can serve without concern for making money.

4.     Be self-conscious of your social media like its being tracked and monitored by the world.

5.     Hire service-oriented employees across all departments.


The Common Traits Of The Most Successful People

Fast Company

Robert Greene, best-selling author of The 48 Laws of Power spends a lot of time researching and interviewing the most successful people. In his most recent book Mastery, he analyzed the lives of those he called "masters" to pinpoint their secret to greatness. Below Greene shares common things he thinks successful people do differently.

·         They Are Emotionally Committed

·         They Don't Care Too Much What Others Think Of Them

·         They Don't Let Their Brain Get Rigid

·         They Know When To Turn Off Their Phone

·         They Have A Focus Routine

·         They Don't Live In Their Past Successes


Big Idea 2015: The Unexpected Path to Creative Breakthroughs


Some say the world is divided into humanities people and science people; artists and geeks; intuitive types and analytical types. You’re either one or the other, and our culture, education system, workplaces and news media do their level best to reinforce this divide. But throughout history, it’s been proven over and again that if you want to be truly innovative, reaching across the divide between the sciences and the arts is the starting point for triggering the boldest ideas.

From Leonardo Da Vinci to Frank Gehry, some of our greatest achievers have balanced that territory between art and science, or, as Steve Jobs repeatedly stated, the intersection between technology and liberal arts.

I’ve just finished reading Walter Isaacson’s wonderful new book, The Innovators, in which he charts the 150-year history of the computer revolution. Among one of the many important insights he has about this collection of technical pioneers is that many of them also embraced the arts. The very first of these, Dame Ada Lovelace (1815-52), was passionate about mathematics and poetry (she was the daughter of Lord Byron), and it was these combined passions that led her to see the real potential behind Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, the predecessor to the first computer. In letters between Lovelace and Babbage, she explored some of the basic concepts that would drive the development of computers, including the idea that machines could be programmable and that computers could go beyond calculation and act on anything that might be represented symbolically.


Skype Translator is the most futuristic thing I’ve ever used

Ars Technica

We have become blasé about technology.

The modern smartphone, for example, is in so many ways a remarkable feat of engineering: computing power that not so long ago would have cost millions of dollars and filled entire rooms is now available to fit in your hand for a few hundred bucks. But smartphones are so widespread and normal that they no longer have the power to astonish us. Of course they're tremendously powerful pocket computers. So what?

This phenomenon is perhaps even more acute for those of us who work in the field in some capacity. A steady stream of new gadgets and gizmos passes across our desks, we get briefed and pitched all manner of new "cutting edge" pieces of hardware and software, and they all start to seem a little bit the same and a little bit boring.

Even news that really might be the start of something remarkable, such as HP's plans to launch a computer using memristors for both longterm and working memory and silicon photonics interconnects, is viewed with a kind of weary cynicism. Yes, it might usher in a new generation of revolutionary products. But it probably won't.

But this week I've been using the preview version of Microsoft's Skype Translator. And it's breathtaking. It's like science fiction has come to life.

The experience wasn't always easy; this is preview software, and as luck would have it, my initial attempts to use it to talk to a colleague failed due to hitherto undiscovered bugs, so in the end, I had to talk to a Microsoft-supplied consultant living in Barranquilla, Colombia. But when we got the issues ironed out and made the thing work, it was magical. This thing really works.


Use Daily Rewards to Break Creative Blocks


Renowned author Stephen King, who has published 49 novels that have sold over 350 million copies, writes at least ten pages each day. As a creative person, you’ve experienced writer’s block, even if you’re not necessarily a writer; software engineers, artists, or anyone that has to create things for a living is susceptible. We also all know the well-worn advice of practicing even for just a little bit, at least once a day — but how does one actually stick to it?

Product Manager at Twitter, Buster Benson, recently created to help us break through writer’s block and open up our creative passages. He uses a rewards system to keep on track (much like the famous Jerry Seinfeld calendar-method). The idea is simple:

Every month you get a clean bowling-esque score card. If you write anything at all, you get 1 point. If you write 750 words or more, you get 2 points. If you write two, three or more days in a row, you get even more points. How I see it, points can motivate. It’s fun to try to stay on streaks and the points are a way to play around with that. You can also see how others are doing points-wise if you’re at all competitive that way.

Benson shares his inspiration:

I’ve long been inspired by an idea I first learned about in The Artist’s Way called morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in “long hand”, typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. It’s about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way.

The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day. Unlike many of the other exercises in that book, I found that this one actually worked and was really really useful.


Ten Ways to Become Invaluable


As I finished my first 25 years of management consulting, my number one resolution was to create this advisory to help managers and leaders reach their potential and avoid the pitfalls that derail an otherwise exciting career. There are many management gurus who offer salient advice and deserve respect, including the Holy Father of Management, Peter Drucker. Jim Collins offers genius advice, as does Warren Bennis. I once demanded that the high potential charges under my tutelage read the book Bennis wrote with Bert Nanus - Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge, as a pre-requisite to my class because of my respect for the authors. However, I don’t need to refer you to the work of any of these talented advisors now.


As a long-time management consultant, I have enough experience and insight to see who is going to be ousted from their leadership role and who is likely to move up. It has become easy to spot the losers. Those who will not make it have many things in common that are obvious to people who do what I do. When I see the signs, I want to grab them by the shoulders, shake them hard and say, “Don’t do that; you will get fired or you will lose your business” but my experience tells me they often say something really stupid like, “You don’t understand; we are in the XXX business.” Sure, I don’t understand? I have only done this exact same job for 700 clients over 25 years; what do I know? I take no pleasure in watching them raise their gun and take aim at their feet – one at a time. I can assure you they will and they will blame someone else for their demise.






6.     DITCH “I” AND “MY”




1.     10. FUEL YOUR TANK

Videos Of YouTube Stars In An 'Oreo Licking Race' Banned For Failing To Make Clear They Were Ads

Business Insider

Oreo has had five YouTube ad spots banned by the UK advertising watchdog, after a BBC journalist raised concern the ads — posted on popular YouTube stars' channels — were not clearly identified as marketing communications.


The ads featured popular vloggers such as Dan and Phil and Tom Ridgewell and showed the YouTube creators taking part in an "Oreo lick race." The video is still available to watch on YouTube (see it below), in spite of the ruling, but it has been edited to include text stating "This is a paid advertisement."


Note to Future Self

The Economist

A decade ago, dozens of former fighters from Northern Ireland's Troubles gave interviews for the Belfast Project oral history project on the understanding the recordings of the interviews would not be made public until after their deaths. However, last year Boston College was forced to turn over some of the recordings to Northern Ireland's police service as part of an investigation into a murder. The incident inspired Jonathan Zittrain, director of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, to develop a sort of cryptographic time capsule. Zittrain says valuable items such as papers and personal correspondence often are donated with the understanding they will be withheld for a certain period of time and, with the help of a recently awarded $35,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, he is trying to develop a cryptographic means of keeping those promises. However, Zittrain does not want to make the material irrevocably inaccessible until the appointed time, so he is pursuing what he calls a "bank and trust" model in which the files are encrypted and their key is broken into several fragments, which are entrusted to a library or lawyer in different jurisdictions with instructions to hand them back at a specified time. Zittrain hopes to have a prototype service up and running within nine months.

The True Power of the Gamification Spectrum


In my last post, I introduced the gamification spectrum and discussed its basic properties. We learned that the feedback timescale of any tool is context dependent, but the spectrum will only stretch or compress under different context. That means the spectrum maintains its order, and the relative positions of the tools don’t change when the context doesn’t change. However the gamification spectrum is more than just an organizing framework. It allows us to learn about certain working properties of existing and future tools.


Today, we will look deeper into this spectrum of tools to discover several interesting patterns and trends hidden within these seemingly unrelated tools. If we examine the representative tools above the gamification spectrum, we can start to see some patterns as we move from the left (tools with short feedback timescale) to the right (tools with long feedback timescale) of the spectrum.

Since this post builds on the foundation knowledge established in the previous post, I recommend making sure you are familiar with the introductory post on the gamification spectrum before moving on.


Latest Windows 10 update shows how rapid releases work in practice

Ars Technica

Windows 10's updates and maintenance are following a different, better path to all prior Windows releases: one with more regular updates and quicker access to new features for those who want it, while still offering enterprises a slower pace of delivery. With the first update to the Windows 10 Technical Preview a month ago, Microsoft also enabled a two-speed update track for the million or so members of the Windows Insider program.

By default, preview users are put on the slow track. However, about 10 percent of users have put themselves on the fast track. The first (contentious) fast track release was made almost two weeks ago, and fast track users have been using it since then.

Those fast track users also revealed a variety of problem scenarios. The two big ones were the screen going black (and staying black) every time a PC was unlocked, and a blue screen of death. A pair of patches have been released to fast track users to address these issues, the second coming yesterday, and both of them seem now to be fixed.

With these fixes in place, the build is ready for wider distribution, and last night rolled out to slow channel users.

This pattern is very much the kind of thing that we see with other software that uses this kind of delivery model.