An Unsolicited Custom App

I love how Clips, which is an incredibly useful clipboard app for iOS, started out from a need to quickly copy text from the book of Matthew and became a custom app created for a beloved Mac journalist. 

If you’re making an app and you’re not that person, find one. Then, never lose sight of this person and his problem, and make decisions for your app in a way that will help him solve his problem.

As someone in software development, I can say this sounds like a great approach to take. With a large customer base, personas are usually used, for this very same purpose. Personas help a development group to meet a number of different customer’s needs, but the intent is the same.

Buy Experiences, Not Things

My wife and I were just discussing Christmas gifts for our sons. When it came to our oldest, our thoughts were that he really appreciates experiences more than material things. Trips to museums, movie tickets or going to the fair all seem to give him more joy and fuel his imagination in a more powerful way than anything we’ve bought him. He plays with toys and then soon forgets them.

James Hamblin writes about the fact that experiences have greater power to drive our happiness than possessions. He cites the work of Cornell doctoral candidate Amit Kumar.

When it rains through a beach vacation, as Kumar put it, “People will say, well, you know, we stayed in and we played board games and it was a great family bonding experience or something.” Even if it was negative in the moment, it becomes positive after the fact. That’s a lot harder to do with material purchases because they’re right there in front of you. “When my Macbook has the colorful pinwheel show up,” he said, “I can’t say, well, at least my computer is malfunctioning!”

I can relate to this. As we headed to the beach this August, the weather forecast looked bleak and some of the beach strand parking lots were completely submerged. I kept telling myself, “no expectations,” and although we ended up getting quite a bit of time at the beach, I know it would have been fine either way. The same cannot be said about when I’m getting the beach ball on my Macbook Air.

This track offers some pretty shimmer and momentum, all before a poignant pause and the vocals kick in. Germany Germany consistently produces good indie electronic pop. Plus, you have to love a guy who openly professes being heavily influenced by the Postal Service’s Give Up, which usually gets a wink and some snark from the truly hip.

Urban Outfitters Is Now The World’s Biggest Seller Of Vinyl

I guess this shouldn’t be all that surprising, given that UO is all over the place and they do carry a small selection of records. A few years ago, I remember wanting an exclusive version of M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming 2xlp that they carried on pink and blue vinyl.

I still prefer the indie stores, though.

The Man Who Broke Phones

Apple Inc. had a difficult week, last week. First, some people bent their newer, huger phones. Then, the first update to iOS 8 caused the phone functionality on the recently introduced iPhone 6 not to work. Although, sometimes it seems as though people don’t use their iPhones a lot for voice calls, phone is still a major part of the product name. Not to mention, as Nick Arnott points out, in his piece about hugs not bugs, the voice call part of the phone can be a pretty critical function.

People rely on their phones for emergencies. On a worse day, 8.0.1 could have contributed to somebody being unable to get help in a dangerous situation. Now, that’s an extreme example, but it’s a realistic one.

Apple is pretty nimble, though, and they quickly pulled the patch had an update out within about a day. Regardless of the short life of the 8.0.1 update that caused the issue, Bloomberg determined they had a pretty big story on their hands. They decided the real narrative involved figuratively throwing the mid-level QA Manager, working in the iOS software group at Apple, under the bus. Quoting “people familiar with Apple’s management” and “one person”, the authors of the piece out the QA Manager as also having been in charge of Apple Maps during its ill-fated launch. Not only do they name the manager, but they list his hobbies, achievements as a youth and the university he attended. It’s a pretty sad place we’ve gotten to in web journalism when we are castigating mid-level managers for the sake of driving traffic.

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Labor of love remix of the “Dire, Dire Docks” theme, from Super Mario 64.

When Super Mario 64 came out, I was working at a videogame store and it was one of the (very) few launch titles for the N64. It was the killer app, though, and made the system worth buying. I played the game on my Wii not too long ago, and this cavernous level, with its soundtrack, still carries with it a sense of wonder. Never before Mario 64 had we been able to swim in water like that or stand on the deck of a ship as it rocked from the waves.  This remix reminds me of a time when videogames took a huge leap forward.

This recent Apple promotion isn’t the first time you can buy a device and get a free U2 album.

This recent Apple promotion isn’t the first time you can buy a device and get a free U2 album.

(via buzz)

This VHS series of Skateboards by 5boro has some of the coolest deck designs I’ve ever seen. Brings me back to the days of watching skate videos on VHS and then trying to pull off the moves on my own board.

This VHS series of Skateboards by 5boro has some of the coolest deck designs I’ve ever seen. Brings me back to the days of watching skate videos on VHS and then trying to pull off the moves on my own board.

The Renaissance of Music Collecting

Marc Ruxin, the COO of Rdio, writes about the shift in the way we purchase  and consume music.

In the end surely something was lost when the act of physical collecting disappeared. The era of “High Fidelity” is largely over. The Jack Blacks who man the counters of dusty record stores are gone. The smell of new vinyl is restricted to purists, and the hand printed zines of old are all but extinct. The walls of records and CD’s have disappeared from apartments and houses, but now these private collections can be shared with the world in pint-sized digital images.

Collecting music is now a democratic, global endeavor. You don’t have to live in hip cities to access limited edition music. You don’t have to be rich to afford the pursuit. Nearly everything is available to anyone with a smartphone or computer. Music is, after all, one of the world’s most creative inventions. It is highly local, yet massively global. After years of trying to build a model where both consumers and artists win, we are finally at the beginning of something amazing. Technology has caught up, and the business of music has finally entered a safe and exciting time.

Reading the piece, you get the sense that the people at Rdio really are music nerds. It is comforting to someone like me, who went to some of the same lengths to get music back in times when it wasn’t so convenient, that the company’s executives did the same thing. I remember taking the train into DC just to go to Smash Records to find a CD by ALL or Mudhoney. Ruxin makes the point that, with the physical aspects we’ve lost, we’ve also gained a lot in convenience and accessibility, both for artists and consumers.