On the iPhone 6

September 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

Trigger Happy TV (over a decade ago!) has already succinctly conveyed everything I could possibly have to say.

 

Berkshire Hathaway

September 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

A quick moment of reflection and praise for one of my favorite boutique sites on the internet:

http://berkshirehathaway.com/

Which, for posterity’s sake, looks like this:

herkshire bathaway

 

That’s it. 127 lines of HTML code.

You can almost imagine the conversation that took place:

Warren Buffett: “We don’t need a website! The hell do we need a website for?”

Advisor: “Sir, it’s the internet. It’s important. We need a website.”

WB: “Fine. Just shut up. Here’s a website. I hope you’re happy.”

And you know. I think these two imaginary figures came to the right conclusion. Berkshire Hathaway doesn’t really need stuff on its website. You’re there because you already know who Warren is and what he’s about — he doesn’t need a blog to explain himself.

The design is a little extreme — and my designer friends would murder me for coming anywhere close to paying the site a compliment in this arena — but I’ll take it. The site has no frills, no nonsense, probably costs nothing to maintain, and it pretty effectively surfaces all of the content I could conceivably have been looking for upon my arrival. They say good design isn’t “what more can you add” but “what more can you take away.”

 

Self-driving cars, Part II

June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

From the comments section of my June 17th update on Self-Driving Cars, David writes:

Regarding Level 7, my guess is: a lot more downtown pedestrian-only streets, parking garages replaced by housing/commercial space, and for individual parking spaces, parklets. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parklet).

I’m really curious to see what happens with suburbs / sprawl. Any predictions for how that will change?

And in a GChat message to me, Kevin writes:[ref]Abridged for clarity.[/ref]

I think the other side of the safety element is that cars themselves have gone leaps and bounds with safety – look at modern supercar technology. Carbon fiber cockpits have people walking away from driving like dumbasses now. How much revolt will there be to that increased perception of safety, though? Will I still have to deal with dumbasses driving 120 on the highway and clipping me? Will I not be wearing a seatbelt? Would that kill me? Will this be seatbelts 2.0 (as in, fatalities remained relatively consistent after seatbelts because people felt safer and drove more recklessly)?

What about private ownership? How can I show off what a rich [consummate gentleman] I am and rub it in everyone’s faces? Do I get to house my private vehicle somewhere (in some big warehouse?) and then summon it when I want? Or do I have to use the same utilitarian pod as everyone else?

Sure, David, Kevin. Great thoughts.

We agree that housing is going to be a huge need and a likely solution for the larger spaces vacated by parking spots.

As for Parklets: Beautiful, sure. But installed across close to 21 square miles? Eep. I wonder if there’s a more practical purpose, you know?

I’d be interested to think about the sorts of microbusinesses which might move into abandoned parking spaces. We’ve seen from the food truck phenomenon that certain types of food services can get away with smaller footprints. Suppose we moved all of the coffee shops and lunch places into parklet-sized spaces and opened up those larger real estate footprints for housing and similar?

As for suburbs/sprawl: I actually think Mumbai is a fairly interesting metaphor for the future of city transportation. Cabs there are prolific, and in my experience never cost more than $1-$2 USD to take you 30-45 minutes across the city. (And that I’m assuming is after they applied a modest “foreigner” tax.)

As for rich/ownership: It’s worth noting that plenty of families in Mumbai & India still buy cars. It’s a significant point of pride, and an important display of wealth/status/success in a society that’s still today profoundly marked by the effects of the caste system. A fair estimate: I think we’ll see the same proportion of people owning private cars in the future as you see people owning private airplanes today.

As for safety: Knowing absolutely nothing about car mechanics, my guess is that cockpits become substantially safer once automakers can eliminate all the human interface components (steering wheel, pedals, etc.) and re-purpose that space for safety, and also, build cars which are more symmetrical. I anticipate seatbelts will still be necessary — you still wear your seatbelt on airplanes. Though in a perfect world, cars might be as predictable as trains — where there’s no belts usually, I think.

As for effects on suburbs: We’re actually also already seeing some of the effects of Sprawl in SF. Here’s a tech company specifically designed to deal with the commute associated with the sprawl, which also bears resemblance to the door-to-door service I’d described in my earlier post.

Two of the less straightforward self-driving car side-effects:

First: Residential real estate in downtown urban areas becomes much less of a premium good. Prices will still go up – real estate prices, as I understand things, will pretty much always go up – because our population is growing wildly.

Second: Anita Elberse’s Blockbuster effect on entertainment / destination real estate. If you thought getting into clubs like Marquee was hard today, think about how the lines will look once everybody in a 40 (80?) mile radius has easy, cheap access every single night. Everyone will want to flock to the blockbuster venues because they can. This might sadly be devastating for midlevel or rural venues which once thrived because, hey, where else are you going to go when you live in Huntington, NY, and you need to be able to get yourself home affordably once last call has been called?

Stop screwing up time zones

June 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

As a professional (and as a modern young adult, in general), I spend a lot of time communicating across time zones. I’ve long since lost count of the number of missed calls and connections due to a hiccup in time zone calculation — even calendar invites aren’t immune.

There’s four time zones in the continental US. So, quickly: If it’s 1:00pm in San Francisco, does that mean it’s 4:00pm or 5:00pm in New York?

You’ll probably get the right answer…but it takes a step and a half longer than if I’d asked you “Quick: What’s 1 + 3 ?”

Luckily, I always keep a map of the continental US on-hand.

Montinental Cap

 

 

Don’t see it? Look again:

Zime Tones

 

There. Now sorting out the common time zones is as easy as counting on your fingers.

Two other tips:

  1. Whenever possible, schedule appointments in your counterparty’s native timezone. Because it’s a simple, thoughtful, and courteous gesture. And because it puts the onus of sorting the time zones on you, and because of your hand map, you’re an expert.
  2. This doesn’t exactly solve for Daylight Savings Time. You’re generally safe for major US cities. Most of Asia, Africa, and South America don’t bother with daylight savings. The UK observes Daylight Savings Time, (on your world map above, London is usually your right ring finger) but the start and stop dates are different than they are in the US. Tread carefully — or maybe write “I’ll call you at 4:00pm EST which should be 9:00pm locally” so there’s some safety net and paper trail.

Admittedly, this mnemonic fixes a problem which seems fairly small and innocuous. That said, it absolutely makes my life easier on a weekly basis — if only by a hair. In striving to outsource as much of my menial mental work as possible — which I encourage of all of my intelligent friends — this is an easy starting point.

Perspective

May 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last weekend a friend of mine asked me about 9/11.

I was raised in suburban New York, and lived there until 2005 when I moved to St. Louis.[ref]Where I’d argue I did most of my actual Growing Up.[/ref] Luckily nobody in my immediate circle was directly affected by the events that day.

I was in Social Studies class when news broke. As I remember it, a teacher’s assistant came in to our classroom, said “there was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center,” and left the room most likely to continue spreading the news. Our social studies teacher — the teacher most uniquely suited to guide a proper discussion or lesson — I think got quiet for a few moments before steering us back to our regularly scheduled programming. I’m sure we had a very busy agenda that day.

Incidentally, I don’t really remember any specific thing I learned from Social Studies that year.

On the other hand. In fifth period Art, our teacher started the class by saying “we’ve got a lot of work to do, but something is happening today that’s really important.” She told us all to collect our books, and brought us to the library where we spent the next 40 minutes watching the news on the one communal TV in the building. We watched one of the towers fall. I don’t think anyone asked very many questions; we were mostly silent and afforded the opportunity to absorb what was in front of us. Surprisingly there weren’t many other classes of students sharing the space with us.

No shock here: I don’t really remember any other specific thing I learned from Art class that year, but I do distinctly remember that.

I don’t mean to in any way diminish the very real ramifications of what happened on 9/11… but one of the best lessons I take away from the experience is about perspective: Having the vision to understand when something really important is happening, and having the wherewithal to take action accordingly.

It’s great to be absorbed in work and fill your schedule up to the brim — and I’m often there — but if you don’t have the perspective to pick up signals as they’re flaring… you’re lost.

An Update from India

January 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

I am going to open a clothing chain in India.

It will sell fashionable nightlife attire for young adult females.

And we will be called Saris for Party Rocking.

http://bit.ly/132wfPG

T-Shirts

February 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Think about this:

I only think your funny t-shirt makes you look funny if I don’t know the place you bought it from.

This shirt, for example, I used to love.  But anyone can buy that.  It doesn’t make you funny anymore, you’ve just picked a place to shop with a funny design team.

Maybe I’m the only person who thinks that way, though.

In a highly related but totally unplanned tangent – Eleven Magazine T-shirts are only $11 now if you don’t have one yet.  Cool T-shirts are cool no matter where you buy ’em.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Uncategorized category at Josh Petersel.