Almost summer

May 24 '11


It’s a nice and quiet early morning.

This late spring feels completely like summer. I’m sitting in my living room, listening to the outside and just keeping quiet. It’s a rare occasion for me to just catch and enjoy the moment.

Ready to open the new travel season this week. Great times are ahead.

Jim Rohn:

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

What an irresponsible statement. Or a scary fact for that matter.

That said, if some ground points of contact are not met the chemistry just won’t work. I mean sense of humor, basic interests, moral principles, etc. But John probably comes from most people not liking opposite opinions about sensitive topics. Homophily at its worst. Sadly, it may be true for most people.

This pattern should degrade quickly with extending relationships and understanding how people benefit from them.

For example, Yulka spends time with some friends who think she’s a listening booth. She definitely is not and doesn’t want to be one. It’s all about her ability to support; so outstanding in fact that some otherwise conscious people think it’s complaining time. But she values those because of other, profound benefits of hanging out together.

I believe in productive relationship between opposites and complementing each other in family and friendship relationships. It’s really difficult to find people more different than me and Yulka.

So what if you are just unlike people you spend time with? Do your peers value you for being different? Does feeling lonely have to automatically turn on?

Aarron Walter once suggested Maslow-inspired hierarchy of user interface concepts:

The interfaces we design must first be functional – they need to solve a problem for us. Next, they need to be reliable – no fail whales please. Our interfaces need to be usable – easy to learn, easy to use, and easy to remember.

The piece we often overlook is the pleasure. It’s at the core of culinary arts, but we find it far too infrequently in the web apps and websites we use daily.

My take – times are changing quickly.

When pleasurability was as an unexpected bonus, we could get away with just “working” and “usable”. It’s a great challenge in complex software products on its own. Now “pleasurable” is the entry ticket. Aarron, please come up with more stages for interfaces to grow.

Pleasurability apparently has deep roots:

Babies create bonds with their parents through an interesting feedback loop. When they cry their parents respond by soothing them, which releases calming neurotransmitters in their brains. As this cycle repeats, the baby begins to trust that their parents will respond when they need them.

A similar feedback loop happens in interface design. Positive emotional stimuli can build a sense of trust and engagement with your users. People will forgive your site or application’s shortcomings, follow your lead, and sing your praises if you reward them with positive emotion.

That’s where the magic of beautiful objects works. People unconsciously reach out for them to feel warm but don’t realize/admit just that. We seek logic to cover emotion.

Aarron leaves me with a question, though – you know I’m biased. People who can afford Apple products but don’t see the need to “overpay” for them (so end up buying a dell) are those who under-received maternal love? Or over-received? ;)

Alina Orlova

May 6 '11


She really stroke some chords in me. Her album Laukinis suo dingo became my Prague winter ’10-11 leitmotiff. This stuff is really melancholic and I listen to it occasionally. Just like right now, when I’m in bed, sick.

As if to make it even more cliche, it’s raining outside.


May 4 '11


Всякий раз восхищаюсь и ужасаюсь.

Сельби пишет:

Анти-террористические операции позволили многим правительствам нарушать права своих граждан – право на личную переписку, право на свободу передвижения, право на мирные демонстрации и собрания. Многие активисты по всему миру попали под определение «террориста» за то, что они хотели перемен и хотели высказаться об этом мирно и алтернативно, многие люди попали под это определение, потому что они родились не там, потому что у них такой цвет кожи или не такая религия, или просто корень «стан» просвечиваетя в гражданстве. Это позволило многим нарушить этический кодекс анти-дискриминации, и более того игнорировать безпричинные проверки документов и аресты, увеличить срок временного задержания или даже заключения без приговора, нормализировать пытки и преступления на почве ненависти.

Всю дорогу киваю в знак согласия.

37 signals about meetings again:

Meetings basically make things happen all at once. And that means you’re pulling a bunch of people off their work to have this “right now” conversation. It’s very disruptive for a bunch of people. So if they can communicate over a long period of time instead, it’s much better.

I think companies would benefit from giving employees a lot more autonomy and alone time to do their work. And then when they do need to come together, it can be more special and more meaningful. It’s like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen for a long time – it’s kind of a special moment for a couple hours and then you go break up and go back to your own lives and that’s fine. And that’s how we like to treat our work here.

For me all of that sounds reasonable except for the “old friend” comparison. You have to be “close” friends instead. A meeting’s usefulness drops dramatically with more people and details included – that’s the more correct point. You can afford to be “old friends” with colleagues when everybody works on a firm long-term plan. Which isn’t usually true.

A dusty draft getting outta closet – better late than never

First of all, if you start a business, by all means go buy it. Right now, I’m waiting.

Second, be aware though. It exaggerates every message it delivers. I understand where this comes from – people who have “been there, done that” can’t stress enough some ground rules that are counter-intuitive or are easily overlooked.

But some word inflation the tone of this book can lead to all the wrong conclusions.

Not to spread my rant too thin, I’ll concentrate on Jason’s idiosyncrasy about meetings. Any time a meeting is mentioned it’s positioned as a distraction from “real” work. It’s ok if you have a small team and a not so complex (in implementation) product. Go ahead, let everyone work for two weeks (as the actual advice goes) on their subtasks without any checks and course-correcting intrusions. Some people do appreciate that.

But chances are you lack time, people, communication and black magic necessary for the work to be done by itself perfectly according to your vision. Particularly, communication has one defect – it creates illusion that it happened (© someone). So choose if you want to have everything double checked at start and can make maneuvers when necessary, or you want annoying surprises down the road.

I’m a control freak, I admit. Paranoid sometimes. If you are a first-time founding CEO, congrats – there’s no Peace/War dilemma for you. You are only here to fight. Otherwise, don’t start. Getting an adequate product to the market within an acceptable timeframe is a full-blown war on its own. If all goes well you won’t be putting down your war banner any time soon. To be clear, I’m speaking about endeavors involving real employees and targeting real markets.

Don’t get me wrong, the book’s main point is to help people get rid of some of the most insidious myths and distractions poisoning small businesses. Just don’t take it literally. And by all means complement it with some reading like Only the Paranoid Survive.