Tag apple

Why bad taste rules in business endeavors, and why that's a problem for creative industries.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball spoke at MacWorld recently and gave a brilliant talk called "The Auteur Theory of Design" -- about lessons we as creators of tech products can learn from the film making world.

The quality of any collaborative creative endeavor tends to approach the level of taste of whoever is in charge... whoever has final cut.

John Gruber

Final cut is the last say as to whether or not to ship. And this cuts to the core of how good design and great experience gets delivered in tech. THE FINAL CUT. Someone has final say for when a project is done and ready to go. At Apple, final cut is owned by Steve Jobs, and much has been made of the tyrannical brilliance and attention he pays to the details of the products they create. Final cut is what matters, because the person who makes the final cut can either ensure brilliance or ensure failure.

The leader with bad taste / poor design sensibility will absolutely salt out the great work of brilliant teams. They'll add random crap to something that might already be quite good. Or will allow bad stuff to ship. Or, most likely, force a product out to market when it's not ready. A blind adherence to meeting release dates, for instance, can essentially assure the death of quality in a product. That's why adding product managers or project managers to an already failing project often is like a bucket of gasoline for a man on fire.

In an ideal world, product managers and technology execs should be great designers who can identify and create amazing user experiences. They need to be user experience auteurs, because PMs and execs are de facto in charge when it comes to making final call on when to ship the product. They're the last line of defense against bad taste and bad design. Unfortunately, like Plato's mythical philosopher/kings, auteur studio exec is a rare breed, and the UX designer / tech exec is rarer still.

Gruber closes his talk with an exhortation to the auteur within. Sometimes on teams, final cut isn't something someone will give you. But when you know you're right, sometimes you have to take it.

Conformity is hard-wired into the brain

You're in a room with 10 other people who seem to agree on something, but you hold the opposite view. Do you say something? Or do you just go along with the others?

via CNN on Why So Many Minds Think Alike

Neuroscientists have experimentally confirmed that the brain reacts to disagreements with the larger group in a similar manner to punishment. Groupthink exists, and exists on a massive scale. This makes more and more sense in the mass media age where we consume the same media (NY Times, TechCrunch, and Hacker News for me) and read the same forums and talk about all the same ideas. While the Internet revolution has brought many more voices to the foreground and reduced the role of traditional media (1000 channels on TV instead of 5, 1 million blogs instead of 1 local newspaper), this effect still plays out heavily throughout society. Whenever there is a crowd, there will be group consensus.

The CNN article mentions that groupthink will overwhelm even obviously correct thinking: "The most famous experiments in the field were conducted by Solomon Asch in the 1950s. He found that many people gave incorrect answers about matching lines printed on cards, echoing the incorrect answers of the actors in the room."

This is significant for entrepreneurs. Apple was absolutely on to something when it said: Think Different. Why think different? Because the masses are wrong. (In fact, the masses are asses. =) ) And this is why many startups and entrepreneurs are perceived to be pursuing inane, crazy or irrelevant ideas. Prevailing wisdom isn't, and it takes a crazy dreamer to ignore the massive and overwhelming tidal wave of group think.

Apple's Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter SUCKS. Apple Hardware -- does it really suck, or do we just expect too much?

The reviews are in, and they're not good. On the Apple.com product page itself, there are reports of major failures, which is especially pronounced for a device that a) costs $100, b) was 3 months late to market. The new MacBooks and MacBook Pros all now support mini-displayport, which is a different standard entirely and require adapters to the DVI and Dual DVI standard used by existing monitors. Here's what people are seeing:
  • Flaky performance
  • Flicker, sporadic issues...
  • Doesn't Work with Gateway 30" Extreme Monitor
  • significant drop in frame rate
  • Very Disappointing

This is on top of 37signals's recent post "Every Mac I've owned has failed." I know of many Macbook Pros, including my own and my brother's, have significant fan noise/overheating issues that are chronically problematic.

What is it about Apple that makes their software so good but their hardware just a disaster? Is it a legitimate problem, or is it just that the computers are so close to perfect that any imperfection causes us to judge it far more harshly than computers that are inferior?

We hold Apple to a higher standard. I'd venture to say Every Vista Machine ANYONE has ever owned has failed, big time. And that's far worse.

O Brother Mini DisplayPort to Dual DVI Adapter, where art thou?

It's been over a month since the new Macbook Pros were released, and in that month, we've been waiting with bated breath for word on the new ship date.

Thus far, thorough Google Searches have revealed basically zero information about when this thing may finally arrive. Until then, we remain without our 30 inch monitors.

Poor us, I know. But you know, when you work with computers for a living, a 30" monitor just makes sense. It's kind of like a good samurai needs a good sword, right? These are the tools of our trade, and a monitor is the #1 productivity boost you can have.

 @days.each do |day| 
   if day.items.shipped?(:dual_dvi_adapter)