Revealed: the tech Santa uses

How does Santa do it? Technology. Today, Santa can run almost his entire business from his smartphone.
As a small business person, you can learn a lot from this wildly successful, world-renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Which apps does Santa rely on to run his small business? I’ve listed a few in my free Holiday Success Guide, which you can download here. They include:

Strategies: Which apps are on Santa’s smartphone?

I bet Santa has an iPhone 6. Read the full piece.

Constraints and limitations make us creative

Perhaps I mean they make us more creative. The Atlantic has a good three-biscuit read of a feature about Abbey Road studios and – in part, in the part that interests me the most – the Beatles music was made there without anything approaching today’s technology.

limitations of Beatles-era technology were substantial by comparison, and they forced a commitment to creative choices at earlier stages of the recording process. If, for example, an engineer wanted to exceed the number of recorded tracks that their tape machine allowed, two or more tracks had to be mixed together and “bounced” to an open track elsewhere. Cuts were physical, done with razor blades and tape. Mixes were performed by engineers in real time. Big mistakes at any point in the process could force an entire recording to be scrapped.

It was because artists were often stuck with the mistakes they made that they sometimes decided to embrace them. Once while recording a Beatles song called “Glass Onion” Scott accidentally erased a large number of drum parts that had been painstakingly overdubbed. Certain that he’d be fired, he played the tape to John Lennon. To Scott’s surprise, Lennon said that he liked the unexpected effect created by the glitch—and both the track and Scott stayed.

The Technical Constraints That Made Abbey Road So Good – Justin Lancy, Atlantic (23 October 2014)

Read the full piece.

Overwhelming technology and how to shrug about it

A friend posted this on Facebook today:

Dropbox, We Transfer, #, twitter, UHDTV, Clouds, uploads, downloads, TECHNOLOGY OVERLOAD!!!!!!!! Not a bloomin clue.

I want to tell you what I told her, just in more detail and hopefully more usefully.

Here’s the thing. If I work this out on my fingers – hang on, you should always show your working out. Okay. Today I have used…

Drafts 4, Mail, Word, Pages, Evernote, OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, Awesome Clock, TextExpander, Calendar, Fantastical, MailChimp, Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, WordPress, Safari, iTunes, live-streaming radio, Podcasts, iCloud, OmniPresence, Dropbox and probably more.

That’s nice. But I only know that because you asked me. If you’d just said oi, what have you done today, I wouldn’t have thought to mention the tech, I’d have said:

It’s been a good day. I wrote about 3,000 words.

There was an interesting profile of Jonny Ive in Vogue the other day that touched on how we feel about technology:

In 1985, the year [Steve] Jobs was forced out of Apple, Jony Ive was in design school in England, struggling with computers, blaming himself. “Isn’t that curious?” he says now. “Because if you tasted some food that you didn’t think tasted right, you would assume that the food was wrong. But for some reason, it’s part of the human condition that if we struggle to use something, we assume that the problem resides with us.”

A Rare Look at Apple’s Design Genius Jony Ive — Robert Sullivan, Vogue (1 October 2014)

I’ve seen this. I’ve had people wail down the phone, convinced they had a virus because actually Word did something to their text. And I think you can see the same assumptions in my friend’s Facebook post there: “not a bloomin’ clue” is there synonymous with her feeling she should, wondering how people do and, if I can put thoughts into her head, maybe even resentment that she has to deal with all this stuff.

Look at my day. I didn’t get up thinking oooh, I’ll start with Drafts 4. I thought god, I’m late writing this piece and have to get it done before I can do that. If I did get up thinking, right, I’ll use Drafts 4, I don’t think I’d be a writer, I’d be someone who likes fiddling with technology.

Plenty do, plenty of people enjoy the intellectual challenge of getting Windows to work, and that’s cool but I think that’s a hobby. I think that’s the tech being someone’s aim and interest where I and I suggest my friend there are more interested in our work. It happens that I use a lot of tech to do mine and she would rather not.

I enjoy these tools and I can’t make my friend do that but I can tell her to shrug. If you’re not using twitter, so what? If you are using OmniFocus, cool. If you are using Windows, we can get you the help you so badly need.

You will never learn how to use anything by sitting there with a manual in your hand and a song in your heart. You will learn how to use everything when you have a need for it. You want to get a huge file to someone, you’ll see how to use Dropbox. You want to take minute and have a chat but you’re working alone, you’ll find Twitter. You want to waste your life and become aggravated to the point of coronary, you’ll buy a PC.

I believe this and I know it to be true: you learn from necessity and you learn a lot, you learn everything. I would now say I know Photoshop well but it’s from fifteen years of needing to use it to do the smallest, tiniest things. There was a tiny, trivial, even tedious little task at the Radio Times website that meant someone had to use Adobe InDesign: I did it because it meant once a week for two years I was using InDesign to find more and more.

InDesign is a big, daunting application but that weekly dose of it was far more useful than a lesson would’ve been. Enough so that I later got a freelance gig specifically because I knew how to use InDesign.

So don’t study, don’t look at this as opportunity to learn or a requirement to catch up, just do your job. Maybe you could keep an ear out for tech that helps you because I promise it transforms my work. But in principle, shrug. Alright?

Kids react to old technology – the mean and nasty version

This is one of those gags that is so simple it is astonishing nobody thought of it before. If you haven’t already seen these, there is a series of videos that feature young children being shown old technology like radios and Walkmans. Invariably, they are aghast at the size of these things and you feel ancient.

Until Clickhole gets revenge for us. The video isn’t embeddable but do it, click this link and Watch How These Kids React To A Boombox Playing A Recording Of Their Parents Fighting

Yes, I use technology a lot, but…

I’m going to be circumspect here because I don’t want someone to know that I’m worrying about them quite this much. I’m certain sure they’ll be fine, I just worry because I wonder.

This is someone who does not use technology.

Now, that might be true of you too, except that of course if it is then hello, welcome to your first use of technology. There is no reason you should be in to this stuff, just as there is no reason in the world I should ever be interested in football.

Except that I guess that’s a lie. There is reason to use tech.

I don’t like that. If I told this person that there were reasons, they would all be about work. I run my business through my iPhone and iPad, I am not short of reasons why this stuff is great. But automatically putting it that way feels like automatically saying you should use it. It feels like saying you should forget what you like and don’t like, you should – you must – use technology. That’s not me, that’s not the way I want to be.

Listen, I have a friend who owns an Android phone.

I don’t phone her, but.

You can’t really urge someone to use this stuff by saying they have to. It’s like saying you must buy this computer instead of that because its backside cache is better. It might be true for all I know, but it’s no actual use to for making the decision. It’s no use to you at all.

This particular person does tend to use what I’d call Stone Age computers and I have the impression that doing anything on them is a chore. If that were me, I wouldn’t bother doing it and I think I’d soon conclude that anyone who did is a bit of a geek. Unless you like computers, you wouldn’t put yourself through this alchemy.

So I do get why she might not be drawn to technology. I do. I just think she sees it as something geeks use. I think she sees it all as a toy. That it’s happy for you if you want to play in your sandbox, that it’s not for her.

It is for her.

It is very for her.

She’s joining the legal profession: technology is made for her.

I imagine whatever firm she ends up with is perhaps likely to issue her with a phone but I know for certain sure that the firm she ends up with will be built on technology. She’ll have to use it, so she’ll have to learn it, and I think that makes all this a slog.

You just want to say that of course you wouldn’t miss that appointment change if you could read your emails on the way like all your rivals. You just want to say that Evernote would fix that problem. OmniFocus would completely remove that worry.

You want to say that your rivals will be the ones in court with the ability to find and cite page 112 before you’ve got the book out.

But you don’t. So instead you write a blog post about it and hope that by the end you’ve formed your thoughts into some kind of order, said William writing on his iPad and posting to the web via a WordPress app. Technology much? Doesn’t seem like it here, this seems straightforwardly, boringly obvious.

John Gruber on the Apple Watch

When the prices of the steel and (especially) gold Apple Watches are announced, I expect the tech press to have the biggest collective shit-fit in the history of Apple-versus-the-standard-tech-industry shit-fits. The utilitarian mindset that asks “Why would anyone waste money on a gold watch?” isn’t going to be able to come to grips with what Apple is doing here. They’re going to say that Jony Ive and Tim Cook have lost their minds. They’re going to wear out their keyboards typing “This never would have happened if Steve Jobs were alive.” They’re going to predict utter and humiliating failure…

And then people will line up around the block at Apple Stores around the world to buy them. I think Apple Watch prices are going to be shockingly high — gasp-inducingly, get-me-to-the-fainting-couch high — from the perspective of the tech industry. But at the same time, there is room for them to be disruptively low from the perspective of the traditional watch and jewelry world. There’s a massive pricing umbrella in the luxury watch world, and Apple is aiming to take advantage of it.

Apple Watch: Initial Thoughts and Observations – John Gruber, Daring Fireball (16 September 2014)

I read a comment the other day that the technology press is an oddly conservative group. I think so. It feels as if every time something new comes out it either gets slammed or exalted and then later positions quietly reverse. I’m thinking of when the iPhone came out and Apple was mocked; you don’t see so many technology sites mentioning their initial reports now. I’m also thinking of the fairly countless times a Microsoft or Samsung or Dell or generic Android device has been lauded and now you can’t even remember their name. And you didn’t buy them.

Gruber has a long piece examining the Apple Watch and in a small part about how it will be seen by this tech press. I think he’s actually quite down on the watch; for all his praise, he’s clear that he expects it to do more than Apple has announced so far or “Apple is in deep trouble”.

I like the watch more than he does. I like it a lot, I’m impressed, I’m buying.

But Apple’s always claimed to be at the intersection between technology and the arts, a spot and a phrase I rather like, where Gruber makes a case that it’s somewhere else. Somewhere more. The intersection of technology, arts, fashion and watches. With technology more in the background. I don’t know that I’m persuaded, I don’t know that it matters, but I think he’s right that it will be most visible in the pricing of the Apple Watch when it finally comes out.

Do bring technology on holiday, but…

I once brought a typewriter on a romantic holiday. Bizarrely, we’re still married. But while I was undeniably stupid then, we are all now quite a bit stupid because we bring the modern equivalent with us everywhere. Plus, nobody tried to send me messages through my typewriter.

Well, Angela did lift it over my head one morning, but.

Along with our newish ability to bring our work with us everywhere has come an insistence that we shouldn’t. That this is all A Bad Thing. But the Harvard Business Review suggests that since we’re going to do it anyway, since we are going to bring this stuff with us and keep checking our screens, let’s at least be smart about it.

The biggest obstacle to disconnecting isn’t technology: it’s your own level of commitment or compulsion when it comes to work. If you work 80 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, you may find it pretty hard to get your head out of the office – and even harder to break the Pavlovian association between hearing the ping of an incoming email and immediately shifting into work brain.

That association is exactly why it’s so useful to develop strategies that put your devices in vacation mode. You probably don’t leave Oreos in the cupboard when you’re dieting; for the same reason, it’s best to put work out of arm’s reach when you’re on vacation. Instead of relying on sheer willpower to keep you from checking in on work, you can use your vacation tech setup – and a little up-front planning – to support your efforts to minimize work time.

With that setup in place, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of online connectivity and digital tools, as well as the benefit of disconnecting from work. And instead of apologizing for bringing a phone on vacation, you’ll be able to relax even with your devices in tow.

The Right Way to Unplug When You’re on Vacation – Alexandra Samuel, Harvard Business Review (15 July 2014)

I’m with Samuel on how it’s less a matter of technology per se and more how we think of this stuff. But she also has specific examples and suggestions in her full piece.

Technology brought to heel

Two things I can’t look at. Ballet dancers and women teetering in high heels. I get it, I get it especially with ballet and the remarkable, unearthly beauty of dance – but have you looked at their toes? Standing on the tip of your toes. Walking on them. I feel queasy. And there is nothing that can be done to help them.

Whereas seemingly there may be something that can be done to stop high heels breaking ankles and generally keeping the medical industry in pocket. It is a little bit like the kind of solution you’d expect to see in Thunderbirds or concocted by Professor Branestawm but it’s from Silvia Fado Moreno, a graduate of the London College of Fashion, so it must be good.


That image, and more, are on Gizmodo’s site where writer Jordan Kushins says:

Check out the hydraulics on these babies! Moreno’s creations aren’t exactly subtle—at all—but they do offer an interesting take on the idea that the mechanics of our bodies are complex, and hey: That humanoid machinery deserves footwear that’s going to really and truly support it.

I Would Totally Wear High Heels Equipped with Hydraulic Springs – Kushins, Gizmodo (2 June 2014)

I came across this via Digg and an article in something called The Daily Dot which I think is the clearer, sharper read.