Productivity | Dominik Mayer – Products, Asia, Productivity

Knowledge is the compound interest of curiosity.

–– James Clear

Privacy at Apple  

Former Apple engineer David Shayer explains on TidBITS why he trusts Apple’s new exposure notification. He touches the internal processes that prevent excessive user tracking:

Once I had recorded how many times the Weather and Stocks apps were launched, I set up Apple’s internal framework for reporting data back to the company. My first revelation was that the framework strongly encouraged you to transmit back numbers, not strings (words). By not reporting strings, your code can’t inadvertently record the user’s name or email address. You’re specifically warned not to record file paths, which can include the user’s name (such as /Users/David/Documents/MySpreadsheet.numbers). You also aren’t allowed to play tricks like encoding letters as numbers to send back strings (like A=65, B=66, etc.)

Next, I learned I couldn’t check my code into Apple’s source control system until the privacy review committee had inspected and approved it. This wasn’t as daunting as it sounds. A few senior engineers wanted a written justification for the data I was recording and for the business purpose. They also reviewed my code to make sure I wasn’t accidentally recording more than intended.

Read the whole thing. It’s fascinating.

Five Steps to Your Ideas  

Chuck Frey on The Sweet Setup:

Like many things in business, creativity responds well to a process — one that guides you along the path of birthing, nurturing and implementing game-changing ideas. This simple system includes 5 steps:

Investigate → Generate → Incubate → Evaluate → Activate

It never ceases to amaze me how all these techniques can be expressed as ways through the Munich Procedural Model of product development.

Gell-Mann Amnesia  

Michael Crichton in his talk Why Speculate? given at the International Leadership Forum:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

The Design Squiggle  

Damien Newman created a squiggle to symbolizes the design process from research on the left via concept and prototyping in the middle to the final design on the right.

The Design Squiggle

The Process of Design Squiggle by Damien Newman, thedesignsquiggle.com

The person who asks is a fool for five minutes, but the person who does not ask remains a fool forever.

–– Georg Christoph Lichtenberg?

Cities and Ambition  

Paul Graham in a 2008 essay:

Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.

The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you should be richer.

What I like about Boston (or rather Cambridge) is that the message there is: you should be smarter. You really should get around to reading all those books you’ve been meaning to.

When you ask what message a city sends, you sometimes get surprising answers. As much as they respect brains in Silicon Valley, the message the Valley sends is: you should be more powerful.

Read the whole essay. It’s a very thought provoking. What does Munich tell you, what Shanghai, what Saigon?

Fast Software  

Craig Mod:

I love fast software. That is, software speedy both in function and interface. Software with minimal to no lag between wanting to activate or manipulate something and the thing happening. Lightness.

Software that’s speedy usually means it’s focused. Like a good tool, it often means that it’s simple, but that’s not necessarily true. Speed in software is probably the most valuable, least valued asset. To me, speedy software is the difference between an application smoothly integrating into your life, and one called upon with great reluctance. Fastness in software is like great margins in a book — makes you smile without necessarily knowing why.

John Gruber comments:

One of the confounding aspects of software today is that our computers are literally hundreds — maybe even a thousand — times faster than the ones we used 20 years ago, but some simple tasks take longer now than they did then.

Too few product managers treat speed as a feature. There should be tests that make sure software stays fast (or becomes faster) when new features are addede.

Hugo, which is powering this site, is a positive example, advertising itself as “the world’s fastest framework for building websites”.

Lead developer Bjørn Erik Pedersen said in an interview with the New Dynamic:

I try to play the zero-sum game when adding new features: The processing time added by the new feature will have to be compensated by improvements in others […].

Performance bottlenecks show up in the most surprising places, so you have to benchmark. Performance gains and losses come from smaller accumulated changes over time. And speed matters. Try Hugo’s server with livereload and you will see.

How to Protect a President

Former Secret Service Agent Jonathan Wackrow, now managing director at Teneo Risk, explains how the Service protects the President and other VIPs.

Interesting to hear what they’re looking at regarding venues. I never thought about threats coming from air conditioning or light access.

Spies in Disguise

Former Chief of Disguise for the CIA, Jonna Mendez, explains how disguises are used in the CIA, and what aspects to the deception make for an effective disguise.

In the second video she breaks down 30 spy scenes from shows like Alias and Bourne Identity.

Concentration and Diversification  

I like this thought of James Clear in his 3-2-1 Newsletter:

Concentration produces wealth.

Diversification protects wealth.

A Conference Call in Real Life

I used to take part in many conference call that were exactly as depicted.

These days I’m doing mostly video calls which are much better.

'This Is Small Talk Purgatory': What Tinder Taught Me About Love  

CJ Hauser in The Guardian:

But once I gave up on the banterers, my Tinder chats became uniform. The conversations read like a liturgy: where are you from, how do you like our weather, how old is your dog, what are your hobbies, what is your job, oh no an English teacher better watch my grammar winkyfacetongueoutfacenerdyglassesface. The conversations all seemed the same to me: pro forma, predictable, even robotic.

That’s when I realised that what I was doing amounted to a kind of Turing test.

How the Language You Speak Changes Your View of the World  

Panos Athanasopoulos says bilinguals view the world in different ways depending on the specific language they are operating in.