Products | Dominik Mayer – Products, Asia, Productivity

How Tech Companies Manipulate the Media

YouTubers MrWhoseTheBoss and MKBHD explain the techniques tech companies use to get a more positive coverage of their products.

Goals, Not Tasks  

Matt Blodgett:

There’s a whole class of bugs that comes down to the developer followed very specific instructions without understanding the goal. And a well-meaning manager will take that to mean I wasn’t specific enough in my instructions. No! Computers need instructions. Humans need understanding.

Exactly.

I like to take developers with me when visiting customers. A common understanding of the goal removes so much friction and makes life so much easier.

I also recommend Basecamp’s Shape up to break down the barrier between product and IT and have small teams work closely together to ship a new product or feature.

Wanting to Learn

Sir Jony Ive in the California College of the Arts’ virtual commencement for the graduating class of 2021:

Being curious fuels our appetite to learn, and wanting to learn is far more important than being right.

MVP Park  

Using a public park as an example user experience consultant Paul Boag explains how to iteratively build products. And why you should do it.

The Future of Web Software Is HTML-Over-WebSockets  

Over at A List Apart Matt E. Patterson describes HTML-over-WebSockets:

What about multi-user chat? Or document collaboration? In classic frameworks and SPAs, these are the features we put off because of their difficulty and the code acrobatics needed to keep everyone’s states aligned. With HTML-over-the-wire, we’re just pushing tiny bits of HTML based on one user’s changes to every other user currently subscribed to the channel. They’ll see exactly the same thing as if they hit refresh and asked the server for the entire HTML page anew. And you can get those bits to every user in under 30ms.

Most interesting tech article I’ve read in a while.

Basecamp has been pushing this approach with Hotwire.

And Phoenix with LiveViews:

Currency Exchange Rates in the Apple Ecosystem  

Paul Horowitz describes on OSXDaily how to add currency exchange rates to the iOS stock app:

All you need to do is search for a ticker symbol containing the two currencies, USDEUR=X, for example.

In the four years since the article was published macOS has gained support for Stocks as well and you can show the exchange rate in a notification center widget.

Nian

Every Chinese New Year, Apple commissions a short film.

This year it’s about the mythical Nian. Wikipedia explains:

Once every year at the beginning of Chinese New Year, the nian comes out of its hiding place to feed, mostly on men and animals. During winter, since food is sparse, he would go to the village. He would eat the crops and sometimes the villagers, mostly children. […] The weaknesses of the nian are purported to be a sensitivity to loud noises, fire, and a fear of the color red.

Hence the fireworks, noises and the red color everywhere. I remember riding my bike through Shanghai on Chinese New Year with things exploding left and right. It felt like crossing a battlefield.

Here’s the making-of video to the short film with director Lulu Wang and colleagues touting the iPhone 12 Pro Max as a cinema camera:

The Source Code of a Coronavirus Vaccine  

Bert Hubert dives into the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 vaccine:

The code of the vaccine starts with the following two nucleotides:

GA

This can be compared very much to every DOS and Windows executable starting with MZ, or UNIX scripts starting with #!. In both life and operating systems, these two characters are not executed in any way. But they have to be there because otherwise nothing happens.

It’s absolutely fascinating how we’re just a combination of myriads of little biological computers.

State Machine of Startup Growth

Former Evernote CEO Phil Libin shares his simple but elegant model of tracking (and converting) different user types.

Also interesting are his remarks about how to create a well aligned business model.

Success Factors of B2B Marketplaces in 2020

James Currier, Managing Partner at NFX, lists 23 success factors of B2B marketplaces.

F-15

Ars Technica:

Today Ars Technica brings you inside the pilot’s seat of an F-15C Eagle fighter jet to break down every button in the cockpit. Join retired United States Air Force pilot Col. Andrea Themely as she walks you through everything at your disposal, from emergency features and communication controls to navigation features and weapons and defense. With 1100 hours of experience piloting F-15’s, Col. Themely expert eye is ready to guide you each step of the way.

The Deepest Point of Every Ocean  

Ben Taub of The New Yorker followed Victor Vescovo who managed to dive to the deepest point of every ocean:

“Patrick retrieves a piece of equipment from the deepest point on earth, and it’s just me, going, ‘Yay, congratulations, Patrick.’ No one seemed to notice how big a deal it is that they had already made this normal—even though it’s not. It’s the equivalent of having a daily flight to the moon.” McCallum, in his pre-dive briefings, started listing “complacency” as a hazard.

And:

“It’s quite mind-blowing, when you sit down and think about it, that, from the dawn of time until this Monday, there were three people who have been down there,” he said. “Then, in the last ten days, we’ve put five more people down there, and it’s not even a big deal.”

Read the article, look at the pictures.

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.

Sean Ellis Test  

The Pisano blog explaining the Sean Ellis Test:

Sean Ellis test was formed thanks to the experiences gained during the consultation period, and in a very short time, it became a standard throughout the industry. The most indicative question addressed to the clients in this qualitative test is as following:

How would you feel if you could no longer use our product? - Very disappointed - Somewhat disappointed - Not disappointed (it really isn’t that useful)

If the ratio of the answer “very disappointed” is more than %40, then well-done to you; that means you have the product/market fit.