29 Jul

TIME – It Just Doesn’t Work: Why New Tech Products Are Increasingly Unsatisfying

When Steve Jobs is delighted with a new Apple product — which, as you may be aware, he usually is — he flatters it with three simple words: "It just works." Anyone who tried Apple’s Mobile Me service in the months immediately following its release knows that reality doesn’t always live up to Jobs’ promise of magical simplicity. But at least the company tries to make things just work. Lately, though, I’ve been wondering whether some of its competitors are doing the same.

I’ve been reviewing technology products for 20 years now. I’ve seen it all, from products that were amazing from the get-go (the first PalmPilot comes to mind) to ones that were downright hazardous (a mouse that caught on fire). But there’s never been a time when so much of the new stuff I look at is so very far from being ready for mass consumption. Sometimes it’s a tad quirky; sometimes I can’t get it to work at all. And when I call the manufacturers for help, they’re often well aware of the problems I encountered.

via TIME – It Just Doesn’t Work: Why New Tech Products Are Increasingly Unsatisfying. Count me in the camp of disliking businesses that release half-completed products. The best business model is releasing products that make customers happy.

27 Jun

Rolling Stone Politics – BP’s Next Disaster

Here’s what BP has in store for the Arctic: First, the company will drill two miles beneath its tiny island, which it has christened “Liberty.” Then, in an ingenious twist, it will drill sideways for another six to eight miles, until it reaches an offshore reservoir estimated to hold 105 million barrels of oil. This would be the longest “extended reach” well ever attempted, and the effort has required BP to push drilling technology beyond its proven limits. As the most powerful “land-based” oil rig ever built, Liberty requires special pipe to withstand the 105,000 foot-pounds of torque — the equivalent of 50 Mack truck engines — needed to turn the drill. “This is about as sexy as it gets,” a top BP official boasted to reporters in 2008. BP, a repeat felon subject to record fines for its willful safety violations, calls the project “one of its biggest challenges to date” — an engineering task made even more dangerous by plans to operate year-round in what the company itself admits is “some of the harshest weather on Earth.”

via Rolling Stone Politics – BP’s Next Disaster. The next place for BP to start drilling, the Arctic.

31 Mar

Bits, Features, and Truth – Rands In Repose

Now, a name belongs inside each of these circles and it’s the name of a specific role on your team. The traditional titles for these roles are engineering manager, product manager, and program manager, but I don’t want you get to get hung up on titles. I want to you to think about the person who is best qualified to make a decision regarding the bits, the features, and the truth.

via Rands In Repose: Bits, Features, and Truth. Rands on redefining the common argument between time, quality and features with what really needs to be considered, the bits, features and the truth.

31 Mar

HOWTO: Maintain a Rock Star Culture – stu.mp

The above is just a small list of things I’m actively doing in an attempt to maintain a team solely built of great engineers that are producing great products at a very rapid rate. The usual caveat being that your mileage may vary when you attempt to do this yourself.

via HOWTO: Maintain a Rock Star Culture – stu.mp. I have to agree with it all.