The story of Bill Hewlett’s iconic computer in a pocket:
In perhaps the most famous design brief in electronics history Bill Hewlett challenged his engineers to shrink the 9100A into something he could fit in his pocket. Eventually Dave Cochran, the original HP-35 product manager, determined that it would be feasible using newly-developed integrated circuits and LEDs. A market research study, however, warned that the device would be too expensive and there was simply no market. That didn’t matter to Hewlett. He decided he wanted one and said ‘We’re going to go ahead anyway.’
And a revolutionary leap in technology was born. It would be hard to imagine what the scientific and electronics world would look like today had Hewlett listened to market research…
Was back in Taiwan this past week to celebrate my maternal grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. I did a simple slideshow that was played at the event to celebrate their time together. Digging through some of their old photos was truly like going back in time!
If you thought your job interview was tough, this is probably worse…a fascinating look at the process of getting into (and staying in) a world-class orchestra:
Each applicant has 10 minutes at most to play in a way so memorable that he stands out among a lineup of other world-class musicians. Tetreault has prestigious degrees from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London, and he’s studied under the world-renowned performer Christopher Lamb, but at his audition, the only thing that will matter is how he performs in the most pressure-packed few minutes of his life. If he squeezes his glockenspiel mallet too hard, choking the sound, or if he overthinks the dotted rhythm or fails to adjust to the BSO’s oddly scaled xylophone bars and misses a few notes, the whole thing will be over. Mark Volpe, managing director of the Boston Symphony, sums up the audition process this way: “I want someone to be so brilliant that there’s no question.”
This hits home because of the nature of my job…
The smaller, quieter half of magician duo Penn & Teller talks about how magic manipulates the human mind:
”Magic is an art, as capable of beauty as music, painting or poetry. But the core of every trick is a cold, cognitive experiment in perception: Does the trick fool the audience? A magician’s data sample spans centuries, and his experiments have been replicated often enough to constitute near-certainty. Neuroscientists—well intentioned as they are—are gathering soil samples from the foot of a mountain that magicians have mapped and mined for centuries.”
The most interesting principle: “If you are given a choice, you believe you have acted freely.” This probably happens more often in our lives than we think…
The Verge reviews a MacBook Air as an ultrabook running Windows 7:
What every other PC maker has failed at, Apple nails: the touchpad on the Air works better with Windows 7 than any other Windows laptop on the market. Everything works as it should with Windows; navigating with two fingers on the pad is smooth with no jumping cursors, two-finger scrolling is smoother than anything I’ve seen on any other Windows 7 laptop, and palm rejection is top notch.
I could go on and on about how much better the touchpad experience is on the Air, but the big question I’ve always had is: why? Why is it that other laptop makers haven’t mastered the touch experience and Apple has been able to make it work so fluidly, even with another operating system? It turns out a lot of it has to do the hardware. According to Synaptics’ Ted Theocheung, it’s Apple’s use of high quality glass, an image sensor, a wider pad, and a USB controller to connect to the motherboard that makes the experience better than most Windows laptops.
One way for Asian countries, home to a big share of the world’s households living on $2 per day, to boost their economies is to increase the pay of their civil servants. […]
Of course, throwing money at corruption won’t make it go away. If it did, countries such as Kenya, which pays its members of Parliament handsomely — more than $13,000 a month — would be paragons of virtue instead of cellar-dwellers in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index.
Decent salaries are just one incentive that can tilt the cost-benefit analyses of potential bribe-takers toward probity: More important than reducing the potential financial benefits of corruption is increasing the probability of detection and meaningful punishment.
Having an independent and robust news media would help with detecting corruption, but that’s something that is not often mentioned. The level of journalism in Singapore still has some ways to go, as evidenced by the recent corruption case involving two top officials. The news only broke several weeks after they had been arrested!
There is a hole in my heart dug deep by advertising and envy and a desire to see a thing that is new and different and beautiful. A place within me that is empty, and that I want to fill it up. The hole makes me think electronics can help. And of course, they can.
They make the world easier and more enjoyable. They boost productivity and provide entertainment and information and sometimes even status. At least for a while. At least until they are obsolete. At least until they are garbage.
Don’t fill up the hole in your heart with garbage.
Joe Dombrowski does an analysis of the design philosophies of Apple and Microsoft:
It should be clear by now that Apple does not have the monopoly on design. Both companies, especially in the modern computing era, have been very design focused, but have adopted extremely different philosophies. Which is better? To be honest, that’s a matter of opinion. I’d personally almost always choose the new and exciting design when it first comes out, but as it ages, I start looking elsewhere.