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The alarm clock as an MMO game?

Most of us use alarm clocks, but something about them feels broken. Sure, the alarm will ring at exactly the right time, but after being disturbed from a long nights rest, we just want to go back to sleep, so we hit snooze – and we all know how that plays out.

The problem with the alarm clock is that there’s no obvious incentive to get up. At least no incentive that we can readily perceive in our morning mutant states. Breakfast in bed or the smell of freshly brewed coffee will usually do the trick. However, in the absence of such bounty, perhaps there are a few things we can try as a substitute.

What if we turned the alarm clock into a massive multiplayer online game? My reckoning is that at any given moment there are at least a few million people on this earth waking up to an alarm clock. The habit –usually the hardest part when building a product– is already there, it’s just waiting...

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You thought Samsung was misogynistic? Blu Products just set a new standard

Earlier today I read a post on The Verge about a “tiny, Florida-based phone maker that thinks it can beat Samsung”. I was interested, so I did some research on the company, Blu Products. I wanted to see if they really have what it takes to beat Samsung. Fortunately for Samsung, it appears they do. Yes, fortunately.

Last week, Samsung got a little weird on us. Not quite Qualcomm weird, but certainly weird. However, tonight I came across something that makes everything before it seem so acceptable, some might say admirable.

It is my pleasure(?) to introduce Blu Products’ understanding of marketing. In the following video, you will witness what I can only describe as prostitution.

The video speaks for itself.

Between this, Apple’s “Why iPhone” page, last weeks Samsung event, the fake Nokia Lumia 920 photos, the Qualcomm pageantry and this horrible music video featuring Blackberry...

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Terrible copywriting on Apple.com

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Apple just updated their iPhone page with a “Why iPhone” tab. Undoubtedly created to swoon any potential customers that may be debating between the recently announced Samsung Galaxy S4 and not-so-new iPhone 5. With examples, I plan to demonstrate where Apple could have improved their copywriting. Copywriting is an important but often neglected discipline.

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Traditionally, beginning a sentence with “and” (a conjunction) is not recommended. This is because “and” is used to link or compare two points. Separating them with a period can create an awkward cadence. However, perhaps in this case the line-break forgives.

The issue here is about sentiment, “and” coming after “There’s iPhone” is like some sort of vague comparison with their competitors. The next five sentences confirm this, first by opening with a question, then an uncertain answer, then another sentence beginning with a...

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John Gruber: “perceptual problem”

Samsung has run into the same perceptual problem that Apple did several years ago: at a certain point, each generation of your device is an evolution, not revolution…

This is true, there is a problem. Big ships, while moving fast, often appear to move slow, especially to those observing from a distance; that is a perceptual problem. However, the concern for Apple, Samsung or anyone else in this position is a great deal more meticulous than that.

Big ships are capable of sustaining full speeds for extensive periods of time. As a ship reaches full speed, the tangent of the ship’s centerline begins to take control. It’s path for a finite period of time is now limited to a much tighter range of movement. The real problem is not about speed or the perception of speed, but rather the direction. Apple and Samsung are two very large and very fast frigates, where the slightest change in...

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We are here

For a long time I searched to find at least one thing that all humans can agree upon. It was tiresome, and at times terribly sad. Most things aren’t nearly as universally understood as I had once believed. I felt deflated and conflicted. I’d struggle, rummage through old thoughts, but with no resolve. However, it wasn’t until I let myself settle, that I noticed something. In pursuit of a unifying belief, I had missed the most precious and beautiful of all.

We are concoctions, potions, emulsifications of difference and similarity. Much like everything, we exist as transient moments. Agents of a delight we call life. Because of everything that was, that wasn’t, everything that is and that isn’t, we are here; and such is the nature of this grand, sprawling cosmic event we call life. We are here, and no matter what philosophy you subscribe to, I know we can agree on that much. In our...

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An idea for Marissa Mayer

There’s a certain somebody at Yahoo! that consistently leaks proprietary and confidential information to ATD’s Kara Swisher, and it’s of my opinion that such a person probably shouldn’t work at Yahoo! Surely their behaviour is disingenuous to the company’s objectives.

 The Leaked Memo

YAHOO! PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION — DO NOT FORWARD

Yahoos,

Over the past few months, we have introduced a number of great benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient and fun. With the introduction of initiatives like FYI, Goals and PB&J, we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing — I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side...

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Permanent URLs could be Posthaven’s achilles heel

Permanent URLs are a powerful idea, and it’s a feature of using Posthaven we think you should get even if you stop paying. We’ll keep the site online, but you won’t be able to edit content or add to it.

This doesn’t make much sense to me. I recognise that editing data is of personal value to the user, yet surely it is public URL access to said data which is the real cost for Posthaven. Billions of queries and millions of files delivered everyday is not cheap.

This lead me to the obvious question, what happens when there are not enough concurrent customers (quite likely due to churn) to support the accumulated net cost of all forever hosting?

A suggestion, and this is where it gets interesting. Always allow users to write, edit and save old and new content, yet restrict the distribution of old or new posts if payment is suspended. This benefits both parties. Firstly, the customer will...

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The Itch

With little understanding of why, I’ve found myself compelled to improve everything. A tenacity, out of my control. You and I never asked to be born, yet we survived being summoned into being, and such is the nature of life. Most will rightly spend their lives improving their own; yet for those with the itch, the opportunity to improve the lives of 7 billion people makes adjusting our own a lot less interesting.

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Predicting “Graph Search” a year ago

Today, on Facebook’s Engineering blog Lars Rasmussen writes:

In 2011, Zuck asked the search team to design and build a new system that would recreate the ability to search the entire social graph.

Then in February 2012 Zuck posted this photograph on his News Feed:

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But I noticed something was different about his screen:

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Being forever curious, I replicated what I saw on Zuck’s screen in an effort to understand where Facebook intended to go. So I created this:

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A year later Facebook introduces this:

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Story of my life.

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An important detail Instagram missed

This has bothered me for a while. I could never quite put my finger on it, but once you see it, the illusion is ruined – and it involves filters, of course.

Depth of field, which Instagram attempts to simulate with a blur, occurs before the light hits the film, which Instagram calls a filter.

As such, any blur I apply in Instagram should not affect the grade of the filter. More accurately, any grain created by the filter and/or camera sensor should not be affected by the bokeh created by the blur and/or lens.

Here is a photo:

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Here it is with Instagram’s ‘Willow’ filter applied:

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And now with Instagram’s blur to simulate a depth of field:

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And this is where Instagram falls short. All the beautiful detail created by the sensor is lost in a gaussian blur.

My suggestion to Instagram would be to apply their own grain over the areas of blur to compensate for the lost noise.

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In...

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