Category Archives: thoughts

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Some thoughts on the 10th Anniversary of the App Store

  1. I remember what a big deal it was that Apple was going to support third party software developers. That was by no means a given: Apple could have restricted the iPhone to only their apps and a handful of third party software vendors. By being much more open, they made the iPhone so much more than it could have been if they had not.
  2. I believe iTunes had a big influence on this. It was a model, in a sense, for what the App Store could be. And as iTunes helped make the iPod a success, so would the App Store help make the iPhone (and the iPod Touch) a success.
  3. One influence iTunes had on the App Store was software pricing. Before the App Store software was either free or pricey. Suddenly the App Store came along and software was the price of a song. The few vendors that wanted to charge more could not compete with those who were fine with the low cost. The App Store changed the way people thought about what they should pay for software.
  4. Another effect the App Store had on software was time to market. With mobile apps, people expected updates regularly and bugs to be fixed right away. Companies that used to ship annually now were shipping weekly or daily. This had a huge effect on how software teams developed software. Everyone had to have a mobile app, and every mobile app had to keep up with the new pace. This effect rippled through companies. Software developers adopted the pace for mobile apps to other software being created and released that frequently as well.
  5. The App Store also improved software quality. If you released bad software, you would hear from users immediately via the ratings. There was no hiding bad apps. As well, if your app sucked, other people would come out with better apps and steal whatever market share you had.  Software development teams were on tighter leashes because of the App Store.
  6. The App Store allowed software developers to make money in ways they could not before. You had a direct channel to consumers of software via the App Store. And lots of developers made a good amount of money as a result.
  7. Apps  became part of our culture. Games like Angry Birds found an audience because of the App Store.
  8. We downloaded so many apps we lost track of them. And some of them turned out not to be good for us. Speaking of that, if you want to do a bit of spring cleaning on your apps and make sure that the ones remain are good, I recommend you read this: On the 10th anniversary of the App store, it’s time to delete most of your apps (Popular Science)
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On finding comfort in times of discomfort

There are times of discomfort when you expect that you should experience constant distress and misery. In such times you will find there will arise moments where you can actually find ease and comfort in spite of your situation. In such difficult times you will find places where you gain rest and solace and a break from the things that assail you. They may seem illusory but they are not. They may not last long but they are not false.

In times of discomfort, savour such moments of comfort. Use them to gain perspective. Use them to gain some rest. Use them to relax and to recover.

Such times will not last, but they last long enough. Take time to appreciate what you have in such moments. Such moments will carry you through the darkness.

How many lives do you have to live

Stage

It’s a cliche: you only have one life to live. But it’s not really true. We experience many lives in our lifetime. Maybe it’s closer to 11, like this great post illustrates: You Only Live 11 Times, SMBC | Jesse Rogerson. Or maybe it is closer to some other number. Certainly we all go through major stages in our lives, and as we leave a stage, it can seem like we leave one life behind for another one. We are like performers, going from one theatre to another, retaining some parts of our act while discarding others.

Enjoy the life (or stage of life) you are in right now. Savour the best parts of it. Never assume they will last long, for they won’t. (Parents, in particular know this.) Likewise, for the more challenging aspects of your life right now: they won’t last for long, either. (It just seems that way). Accept and deal with them the best way you can, and know they will also recede and end.

On ward!

If you like Teju Cole, you can find some of his things here

Two pieces by Teju Cole related to Trump.

This first one he wrote about Trump was a Facebook post, captured here. It struck me at the time, for he seemed to want to pivot from Trump’s bigotry to attack something else. The attack against something else was understandable to me: the downplaying of Trump was not.

Now he has a new piece out, making parallels between Trump and Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”, here.

If you like Cole, you might like them.

I used to follow Cole on twitter, and much of what he wrote was interesting and thought provoking.

I do not care for these pieces. Downplaying Trump was a terrible idea in the first case. In the second case, I do not believe that Trump is going to lead to widespread fascism, though many bad leaders and followers are going to stampede out from the worst places and take center stage for awhile. Unlike Ionesco, I don’t believe everyone will turn into a rhinoceros: a small minority crashing about is enough to make it feel like everyone has transformed. They will be taken down, in due time or well past due time, but never made extinct.

A better symbol than rhinos may be snakes or reptiles. The political climate is such that these cold blooded animals feel they can come out and cause havoc. It seems like others are transforming into them, but there are just more of them and less warm blooded creatures in our midst in this time of transformation. When the climate changes, they will retreat. Until then, we have to wrangle with them as they appear.

Some loose thoughts on the magic of Christmas

When you are very young, Christmas is a magical time. We all know that. But
it is magical when you have children, too, for .then you are the magician.
I realized that the hard age for Christmas is in your 20s. The magic
bypasses you then. No wonder people of that age cut up Christmas. The magic
they once held is lost.

Christmas is magic not because the day itself is magical, but because we
invest the magic that we have within us on that day. It would be better if
we brought forward that magic every day, but one day is better than no
days. We have such, well, .. Magic!..within us. We need to be reminded to
let it out.

(Originally posted on posterous, December 24 2011, 9:24 PM)

Some thoughts on memory and winter

There are bad associations with winter. We talk of the dead of winter. Or the bleak midwinter. Plants and trees are barren. Animals hibernate, deathlike. Cold itself, winter’s prime attribute, we associate with the dead. As is the additional darkness that winter throws over us.

Yet these should not be the only associations we come to know of winter. For it is a time of joy and birth and beauty. And though light and heat are scarce, where they are concentrated, they are a treasure.

If spring is a season of rebirth and hope, summer a time of happiness and luxury, while autumn is a time of transition and abundance, then winter is a season of reflection and memory. Winter is a season of the mind. In winter we can look to the trees bare and the frozen earth and recall and imagine the fullness of leaves and grasses and flowers that will arrive in the months to come. Though they are not there yet, we can imagine them still. And in these acts of imagining, we can imagine further as we pass through the snow falling the times past and the times still to come. We can do this in other seasons too, but winter concentrates the mind.

(Originally posted on Posterous, January 18 2011, 10:25 PM)

Against gratitude and being grateful. Some thoughts from Barbara Ehrenreich and me

This piece, The Selfish Side of Gratitude – The New York Times, is a scathing attack on gratitude by Ehrenreich. She makes some good points, but overall the writing is so dismissive, from the references to yoga mats to the numerous quotation marks around so many things, that I didn’t find it persuasive. No doubt some abuse the notion of being grateful, but I think there is more too it than a form of evasion. Read it and see if you agree.

My criticism of gratitude is smaller. My problem with the notion is that it isn’t as useful for me. I think there are better words for expressing how I feel, like glad or appreciative. Gratitude in the context of other people is subservient. I do not look down on the people who provide me a service, nor do I think they should think themselves somehow superior. Likewise if I do something for you, I don’t expect you to be grateful: if you are appreciative, that’s enough. And gratitude for certain aspects of nature or the universe make no sense if you are not religious.

There are people who I am grateful towards. Most of the time I can use other words to describe my feelings toward them and what they do. Grateful and gratitude are two words that should be used less often.