Work Habits at Apple – Ole Begemann

Melton: Oh, Christ! Yeah, exactly, I couldn’t do that. I had to do something right away. I said in the article that I wrote for The Loop magazine, when Steve asked you a question you didn’t ramble and whatever you did, you didn’t make up an answer. And if you didn’t know, you said that you didn’t know. And more importantly, you told him when you would have an answer.

So sometimes, when you would get these emails, you’d had to be blunt and say: “I don’t know. Here’s what I’m doing to get you that answer and when I expect it”, you said as your kids were begging you to go out and see this nice sight in France or wherever the hell you were at. I mean, that’s just what you did.

And I have sometimes have young people come up to me today and ask me about being successful in this business. And part of it is just dumb luck, being in the right place at the right time. Thank God I listened to my wife when I took that job at Apple.

But the other thing is, you have to realize to really be successful to a sin, it’s kind of a Faustian bargain you make. If you’re not willing to pay that price, it’s not gonna come to you. I hate to say that. And so you have to ask yourself, is that really the way you wanna live your life? ’Cause it’s not like I recommend it, either. You have to think long and hard about that.

And I know I’ve read a lot of studies how this is a stupid way for the tech industry to function. And that’s certainly true. But this happens all over, and it’s not just the tech industry, it’s just I think in the tech industry it’s on steroids […]. But damn, there is no way you can cruise through a job at Apple, Inc. That just does not happen for anybody I’ve ever seen.

via Work Habits at Apple – Ole Begemann.

The Great Discontent: Merlin Mann

The fact is that most of us are wandering around, scared shitless, wondering what the fuck’s going to happen next. That’s as true when you’re 11 as it is when you’re in your 40s. It’s one reason that people feel very discouraged or disinclined to try new things—they feel like it’s not for them.

I understand that you’re asking me this because you’re trying to get the narrative, but my narrative is that I’ve never known what’s coming next—I still don’t. I fell down the right set of stairs and have been surrounded by people who have picked me up and said, “Let’s try this again.” It’s been one anxious block of uncertainty after another.

via The Great Discontent: Merlin Mann.

The 40-Year Slump

What has vanished over the past 40 years isn’t just Americans’ rising incomes. It’s their sense of control over their lives. The young college graduates working in jobs requiring no more than a high-school degree, the middle-aged unemployed who have permanently opted out of a labor market that has no place for them, the 45- to 60-year-olds who say they will have to delay their retirement because they have insufficient savings—all these and more are leading lives that have diverged from the aspirations that Americans until recently believed they could fulfill. This May, a Pew poll asked respondents if they thought that today’s children would be better or worse off than their parents. Sixty-two percent said worse off, while 33 percent said better. Studies that document the decline of intergenerational mobility suggest that this newfound pessimism is well grounded.

via The 40-Year Slump.

How To Waste Time Properly – Issue 7: Waste – Nautilus

Brent Coker, who studies online behavior at the University of Melbourne in Australia, found that people who engage in “workplace Internet leisure browsing” are about 9 percent more productive than those who don’t. Last year, Jonathan Schooler, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara published with his doctoral student Benjamin Baird a study called Inspired by Distraction. It concluded that “engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving.”

Schooler gave participants a series of “unusual uses tasks” (UUTs), which asked them to invent as many different uses as they could for a mundane object. The more original the responses, the more creativity they were demonstrating. After performing a baseline test, participants were divided into groups and given different 12-minute “incubation” periods. These consisted of either a demanding memory task, an undemanding memory task that allowed for mind-wandering, or total rest. A fourth group had no incubation interval at all. Then all four groups were presented with more UUTs, which involved at least one object from the first round. The group that had been given a non-demanding incubation task showed the most-improved UUT scores.

via How To Waste Time Properly – Issue 7: Waste – Nautilus.

The Economics of Infomercials

The Graveyard Slot is an inverse inflection point in the profit curves of two very different businesses. For local TV stations, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. Producing content to air on these hours would cost more than it would return. Selling the timeslot for pennies on the dollar isn’t ideal, but it’s a better alternative to airing color bars or going dark.

But for certain companies – the kinds of companies who make Snuggies and ShamWows – the Graveyard is primetime. It’s dirt-cheap media space. It’s highly efficient for testing products and messaging against targeted consumer segments. It’s the perfect perch for Perfect Polly, the plastic parakeet with a swiveling head and a chirp like a 1980s car alarm. It’s the choicest real estate for the SnapNPump, a vacuum sealer for sandwich bags. And it’s pretty much the only timeslot socially acceptable for the UroClub, a nine iron golf club that doubles as a portable urinal.

via The Economics of Infomercials.

Netflix is Sabotaging Itself – on Purpose

This is beautiful:

SAN FRANCISCO — What does not kill me, makes me stronger. So said Nietzsche, Conan the Barbarian, and Kelly Clarkson.

Now Netflix cloud director Ariel Tseitlin is taking that philosophy to its natural limit in the world of the cloud. Every day, he unleashes an army of virtual monkeys on his company’s computing infrastructure, trying to kill it. Every day, it survives — and it gets stronger, more resilient, and more resistant to real outages. By now, it is almost unkillable.

As a result, Netflix has managed to stay online even while other users of Amazon’s cloud system have gone offline.

“Their sole purpose is to make sure that we’re failing in a consistent and frequent enough way to make sure that we don’t drift into overall failure,” Tseitlin said today at CloudBeat 2013, VentureBeat’s conference on the enterprise cloud.

from VentureBeat.

Confessions of a Cellphone Holdout – WSJ.com

I hope that I have a few more years left before I come to die, but I have gotten incalculable pleasure from not owning a cellphone, even if I never did make it, as Thoreau did, to the woods. But in a few weeks, I will buy a phone. I am scared. I am afraid of losing a small part of my identity, goodbye to No-Phone Gary, cousin to Dial-Up Dave, wherever you are. I’m afraid of becoming rude, of placing my phone faceup on a restaurant table, or playing "Words with Friends" at a funeral because the deceased did, after all, like words and have friends.What I’m most afraid of, though, is becoming a tool of my tool, of having one less weapon in the never-ending battle to protect—to paraphrase Saul Bellow, another hero—the territory of my consciousness. I have intentions to be a different kind of smartphone user. I’ll use it only when I travel. At home, I’ll stow it far away from me, in a terrarium, with a snake. I’ll never text.

via Confessions of a Cellphone Holdout – WSJ.com.