Originality Score = 0

It seems a shame that after going through a trial that was focused on originality and copying Apple that a few days after the it ends with a decision against them that new images arrive showing Samsung’s new “original” laptop.

That would be fine if it were true, except it is a clone of the MAcBook Air. I guess on the originality side of the coin it does have a stylus but for me that falls more into the stupid category.

See the pictures and articles below:

the verge
Cult of Mac

The Prototype

Once I thought I had a potentially viable idea I needed to find out how to bring it to life. I wanted to make sure that I was able to solve the problem that I originally was having and create a better product. I knew I wanted to make the product from wood initially and branch out to other materials later. Being a weekend woodworker gave me some knowledge of how this could be created by hand. But ultimately I wanted to be able to make in it on a C&C machine to get the level of precision I was hoping for.

I started drawing feverishly. Different views, angles, site lines. I made the item bigger and smaller. I quickly filled up a Field Notes notebook with ideas. But it still was not obvious enough when someone looked at it what it was (that may still be the case). This has to be done in a 3D rendered form. I needed this in a CAD format to show others and and get better feedback. I have not used AutoCad in sometime, nor did I have a current license to upgrade. I looked around and found that I could probably use Google SketchUp to create a detailed enough drawing.

Setting aside a weekend I started playing with SketchUp. It was pretty easy to learn and there were a lot of sophisticated demo drawings out there to encourage me that this could be done. A few hours later I had my drawing prototype. I emailed it off to a few more friends to get their thoughts and any recommendations for changes. The feedback was very positive but there were some recommendations for changes as well. I updated my drawing and went to meet with my friend who had some bigger machine equipment. He liked the design and we tweaked it yet again.

What I was trying to do is create a version 1 of a product. What I did not think about at the time was what was I doing? What I later realized at the time was I was trying to create myMVP or Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is the process used to get something started in many books like the Lean Startup approach.

Next up refinement and feedback.


Step1: Ideas are Easy

Studio Neat — It Will Be Exhilarating

Yesterday I was talking with a friend about Kickstarter.  I was doing my best to explain how process works and giving her examples of successful projects that I have funded in the past. One of those examples was Studio Neat with the Glif.  This morning I opened up my reader and see that Shawn Blanc wrote a piece about a new book from the founders Tom and Dan about their expereinces over the past two years. From Shawns site to Studio Neat to check out.  Looking forward to reading “It will be exhilarating” ebook today!

 It Will Be Exhilarating It Will Be Exhilarating

Running on Air: Steven Bradley

Are you aware of any designers, web coders who run their businesses on MacBook Airs? I do, meet Steven Bradley. Steven came up in my research looking for people take full advantage of their MacBook Airs. Steven is incredibly busy (see below) so I was thrilled when he agreed to be part of this series.

1. Who are you? What type of business are you in, what do you do?

Thanks for asking me to contribute Austin.

My name is Steven Bradley and I’m a freelance web designer and developer, building sites for micro businesses. Most of those sites end up on WordPress, though some end up on other platforms depending on the needs of a particular client or site.

In addition to the freelance design business I also own and operate a small business forum. And as if I wasn’t busy enough I blog regularly on my own sites and sometimes for others.

2. Which model MacBook Air are you using?

I have a 13 inch MacBook Air from late 2010 that I purchased in the spring of 2011. It’s a 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, with 4 GB of RAM, which was the maximum you could get at the time. It has the NVIDIA GeForce graphics card and is comfortably running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

3. Why did you select the MacBook Air over other Mac models?

Prior to owning the Air I had been using a MacBook Pro and had assumed my next Mac would also be a Pro. When the Airs got a refresh in 2010 I knew I wanted one. The hardware design was gorgeous and design is a big reason I use Macs in the first place. I was also attracted to the portability the Air afforded given its size and weight. And I especially wanted an SSD drive. My only question was would it be powerful enough?

When it came time to get something new I went back and forth between an Air and a Pro. The Pro was more powerful and the Air was what I wanted. Then a couple of things dawned on me.

First, even though the Air was less powerful than a new MacBook Pro, it was still more powerful than the MacBook Pro I had been using for a few years.

Second, I realized that despite thinking I needed the most powerful computer I could get, may day was mostly spent in and out of ordinary text files. Most of my day is in a code editor working on .html, .css, js, and .php pages or working in a blog editor. If anything the bottleneck for me would be reading and writing to the hard drive, in which case the Air’s SSD drive was the better option.

The old MacPro is still working and serves as a backup machine, which is hopefully not needed. It also has Windows 7 loaded under Bootcamp to allow me to test websites in Windows, specifically in Internet Explorer.

Most of my day is now spent working happily on the Air.

4. How are you using your MacBook Air to run your business ?

The entirety of my business is through the Air. Everything I do is on the computer. As a web designer/developer and blogger, everything I ultimately create ends up online. Like most people I use a number of basic programs both professionally and personally.

  • Mail – for email
  • Adium – for instant messaging
  • Safari, Firefox, and Chrome – General browsing and testing websites
  • NetNewsWire – rss feeds
  • iTunes – I usually have music going while working
  • iPhoto – to store my images

For blogging I use:

  • MacJournal – to organize notes and drafts
  • MarsEdit – to edit, add formatting, and images, and then publish directly to WordPress
  • Scrivener – for larger writing projects
  • WordPress – my site and blog are self hosted WordPress installs

For designing and developing sites:

  • Keynote – for wire framing
  • Photoshop – for image work and more complete design images
  • Pixelmator – I’ve recently started to use Pixelmator to see if it can replace Photoshop for me
  • ColorSchemer Studio – When it comes to most anything color related
  • Coda 2 – my primary code editor
  • Sublime Text 2 – the code editor I’m testing
  • Codebox – to store code snippets

For the project management side of the business

  • Things – my to do app
  • Billings 3 – for invoicing
  • Calendar – to hopefully remind me of deadlines and keep me on schedule
  • Contacts – to manage my contacts
  • Text Edit – mostly to make notes on anything

I’m slowly integrating Notes and Reminders into my routine and also use Numbers when I need to do anything spreadsheet related. I’m also in and out of vBulletin, which is what powers my forum and another I help administrate. There are probably more applications that I use here and there, but these are the ones that I use all the time.

You can probably guess I like to play with software. I tend to install and try a lot of things to see what they can do and if they would provide some benefit to my business or life. At the same time I tend to use only a few applications all the time. An app like Contacts might only be opened once every few days or a week. Similar for some of the others listed here, though looking up I do make use of many of these at some point each day.

5. Which has been the best thing about using your air to run your business/create your product.?

The experience. That’s what convinced me to move to a Mac a few years ago. I’d see other designers presenting screenshots and screencasts and all I could think was how much more enjoyable their computers looked than mine. When it was time to get a new laptop I bought a Mac (a MacBook Pro) and started enjoying along with everyone else.

That’s only continued with the Air. It’s a joy to use. I flip it open every morning and it stays open until it’s time to call it a night. I’m one of those people who uses a laptop on my lap. The portability of the Air for me is less about being able to pack it up and take it on the go. It’s more about me being able to move it around the house, shifting it from a coffee table, to my lap, to a desk. Still it’s nice to be able to drop it in a backpack and take it with me when needed.

Where productivity is concerned the SSD drive has helped considerably. What I was afraid I might be losing in sheer power is made up far more by the quick read write times. Everything opens and saves faster. Apps boot up faster. The Air itself boots up faster. It wouldn’t surprise me if I save a half hour or more a day by not waiting on something to open or close.

Something I often forget until times like these is the keyboard. I type much faster on the shallower keys. Along the same lines the trackpad is the best I’ve ever used and I find myself taking more advantage of gestures all the time. It helps a lot when you can be productive with the inputs into your computer.

web address: Vanseo Design
My Small Business Forum forum
twitter: @vangogh

The New Microsoft…same as the old.

Yesterday the new Microsoft logo was introduced. I have seen a lot of mentions to thenew look. After reviewing it I only had one feeling – flat. I don’t mean 2 dimensionally flat although it is but more un-inspiring, lacking interest, more of the same.

Changing or updating your logo is not an insignicant thing. It affects the company in updating packages, websites, supporting material (business cards, letter head). More importantly it affects who your consumers see you.

Microsoft waited 25 years for this update and personally I think they failed. It lacks originality, it does not offer and unique visual queues or say anything about the company of note. I think Andrew Kim did a much better job over the course of one week

A sad day for cycling and a good man

As a former long distance cyclist and lover of the sport, the news today from the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) has me disgusted. They are recommending to the UCI to strip Lance Armstrong of all his titles, awards and winnings. Travis Tygart, USADA’s chief executive, has been “hunting” Lance like sport animal. Lance finally has had enough.

“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” Armstrong said Thursday night, hours before the deadline to enter arbitration. He called the USADA investigation an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”[1]

Apparently you can be tested hundreds of times and pass and be guilty. I imagine this is how a criminal who is truly innocent and gets the death penalty must feel. Circumstantial evidence appears to win out in some cases. Its WRONG ! Before DNA testing I bet this happened more than we would like to believe.

Lance has a truly unique life store beating cancer after the doctors gave him a 50/50 chance to then go on and win 7 Tour de France titles. A feat no one let alone an unknown American have ever done.

The UCI, the International Cycling Union, has the final say. Regardless they have several problems to address.

  • If Lance is stripped of his titles four of those wins would go to Jan Ulrich, an athlete thatHAS tested positive for doping and been banned for life from the sport.
  • the UCI has backed Armstrong and asked the USADA to explain why he should be stripped of his titles when none of the USADA’s own test have EVER come back positive. [2]
  • The sport has been tarnished more and more over the last 10 years form allegations of doping. While they want to send a message to the athletes they certainly do not want the image of the sport to decrease more by backing a sports hero.

Lance could have stopped racing sooner, taken his winnings and fame and partied like a rock start all over the world. I am sure he enjoyed himself but what he really did was start a foundation for cancer research that has raised over $500 million dollars. His family and the foundation are his priorities. Even if he wins this battle in another year there will be a new version of these allegations that he will have to deal with (come on its been 17 years and we are still talking about this).

Its a sad day for cycling. When a man so strong who has done so much good reached his limit and said enough. When you choose to continue working to help others over proving your innocence you will be branded as guilty.

Today a sports hero did not die, he became a larger one.

  1. Fox Latino News Article  ↩
  2. Fox Latino News Article  ↩

Seth’s Blog: Tattoo thinking

I love this post from Seth (like most of his).  He is reminding us and giving us permission to make mistakes.  I think a lot of peopl, myself included, allow themselves to be boxed in with their decisions. Find reasons to prevent changing things as opposed to trying to change things. The internet provides us the ability to be more flexible, fluid, able to react quicker then many other industries. Take advantage of it !

This Parrot’s Dead >

Don Macallister has hit an impasse with his great SCOTutor iOS apps.  All the apps were approved and then later pulled form the store as being just videos.  Don reworked the apps and resubmitted to show new functionality.  They were rejected and so was his latest appeal.

“I pointed out several video tutorial apps that had been reviewed and accepted into the store THIS MONTH but still no capitulation on the fact that they considered my Apps movies.

I pointed out the rework of the SCOTutor Apps to included additional app functionality, but still they won’t budge.

So I’ve pretty much run out of patience trying to get the Apps re-instated on the iOS store.”

This is a disappointment.  Although iOS has a high degree of intuitiveness these apps have been where I have pointed friends and family to for additional training.  I have gifted these to many.  I think this is an example of where Apple got it wrong.

The Rise Of Third Party Services And Fall Of Google In iOS >

Graham Spencer from Macstories has a great post describing the history of services in iOS. The graphics are plain and simple.  There is a clear direction in which Apple is integrating with more outside services.  Google is almost out.  

Most of the recent iOS discussion is how good will Apple maps be?  Could Apple replace the mapping application which had become our de facto standard?  

Apple acquired a number of mapping companies to achieve the talent and products needed to create their own Maps app, including Poly9, Placebase and C3 Technologies. This was no small move in replacing Google Maps.

— http://www.macstories.net

But even if there had not been bad blood with Google I wonder if this would have happened anyway.  If you follow the timeline Apple really had a lot in one basket with Google.

Running on Air: Robert Lo Bue

I first learned about Robert’s use of a MacBook Air from this post.  He was comparing the 11″ and 13″ Air.  Picking a computer is a very personal thing and very need based. I reached out to Robert to ask him if he was still using his Air and if so how.  The interview is below.

1. Who are you? What type of business are you in, what do you do?

Hi! I’m Robert Lo Bue and I run a little company called Applingua Ltd. We translate iOS and OS X apps into different languages for developers worldwide.

2. Which model MacBook Air are you using? 

I’m on my third MacBook Air now! The first was way back when they first came out. I sold is a few weeks later… Then, last year, I picked up an 11″ MacBook Air to complement my iMac. This was perhaps the most special Mac I’d ever used, so light, sturdy and powerful.

A few months later I sold both the 11″ Air and iMac and went for a 13″ MacBook Air ‘Ultimate’. A mid-way point I suppose between the two. While the specs have now been superseded by the 2012 MBA, mine boasts a beefy a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7, 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD. The best money I’ve ever spent.

3. Why did you select the MacBook Air over other Mac models?

The MacBook Air is just so portable. You can walk and cycle without even noticing it’s there (sometimes I have to double check!). The 13″ has a very crisp screen too, with the same resolution as a 15″ MacBook Pro.

It runs cool, it’s silent, it’s beautiful.

4. How are you using your MacBook Air to run your business ? 

My MacBook Air runs my company. Everything is processed on this machine, all backed up with Dropbox and Time Machine. The best apps are the ones that help me get through my day more easily. On the air, this includes The Hit List, LittleSnapper, BBEdit, Coda, iLocalize, Mail and Xcode. I also use a few cool web services too, such as Buffer, Trello and FreeAgent to name a few.

5. Which has been the best thing about using your air to run your business/create your product?

I’m always on the go. For the first 12 months of my business I was “Location Independent” and you’ll often find me working from Airport lounges even today. The Air is the only machine I’d want to travel with. It fits perfectly on a folding plane table and the battery is always dependable.

The weight means I don’t mind taking it out and about with me. I can be online (especially with the speedy SSD!) and working from anywhere in the world in seconds!

Website: http://applingua.com
Twitter: @applingua

Thank you Robert for taking the time to tell us how you use your Air to run your business !

If you know someone who is running a business or using an Air to do something cool please have them send me an email or contact me on twitter.