Daily Archives: December 12, 2013

Solid U.S. retail sales boost economic outlook


By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:07pm EST

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Thanksgiving Day holiday shoppers line up with television sets on discount at the Target retail store in Chicago, Illinois, November 28, 2013. REUTERS-Jeff Haynes
People attend a job training and resource fair at Coney Island in New York December 11, 2013. REUTERS-Eric Thayer

1 of 2. Thanksgiving Day holiday shoppers line up with television sets on discount at the Target retail store in Chicago, Illinois, November 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jeff Haynes

(Reuters) – U.S. retail sales rose solidly in November, adding to signs of a strengthening economy that could draw the Federal Reserve closer to reducing the pace of monetary stimulus.

Read more -> http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/12/us-economy-jobless-idUSBRE9BB0KC20131212

Designers don’t solve problems.


Why we should focus on the process, not the result.

Everyone and their mother knows that good design is about problem solving. Smashing Magazine know it. UX Movement know it. Heck, even GE know it. I used to be part of that parade too but lately I’ve begun to reconsider.

It’s not that I don’t agree with the sentiment; of course designers should focus on actual problems rather than mere aesthetics. But in such a fast-paced industry with new devices, technologies and trends arising every other week, can we ever fully close the book on problems and call them “solved”? In most cases, the answer is “no”.

At the very least, we should stop thinking about problems as solved or unsolved. When working on problems, you don’t design until the problem is solved; you design until the interface is as usable as it can be given a set of limitations like budget considerations, time constraints, technology restrictions or perhaps just creative block. At some point in the future, one of those limitations will be lifted and the bar will be raised, rendering your beautifully designed interface less usable than it was previously; then you must revisit the problem you thought you had already “solved”.

Approaching design as a solution to a problem implies that at some point, our work is complete. We can pat ourselves on the back and place it on Dribbble’s mantlepiece for the rest of the design community to applaud, not at all sure exactly what it is they’re applauding. This type of thinking puts all of the focus on the result rather than the process. It’s so shortsighted, so results-oriented. It’s like working on a math problem in your head, then jotting down a two-digit answer and looking up at your professor with a big, stupid grin on your face.

Design is not about solving problems, it’s about managing them. It’s about deciding which ones to tackle, how to approach them, how long to spend on each one and when it’s time to move onto the next. Understanding that problems are rarely solved and can only be kept at bay leads to a more long-term, strategic approach to design; suddenly the focus is on the design process. The decisions you make become much more interesting than the outcome of those decisions. The result is just a point on a map, how you get there is what’s important.

Julie Zhuo (PM at Facebook) wrote about the importance of building a trustworthy design process, in which she says:

If you place your trust in a good process, then the end result will probably be pretty good.

Ultimately, the “solution” is what we present to the client/user but in the absence of process, it holds little value. The value lies in knowing that you’ve explored multiple alternatives; only then can you be confident in the outcome. With each iteration, the process is enriched. With each piece of feedback, the design becomes more informed. With each user test, the product becomes more robust. Each failed alternative serves as a reminder of why the chosen “solution” works. Each prototype serves as a tool for communicating your vision to your client/team. Without process, all you have is your intuition; good luck explaining that to the client.

source medium – > https://medium.com/p/296d15a272f2

 

Learn programming


illustrated by xkcd comics

One of the most discussed questions is if it is necessarily to know how to code, because, at first glance, it seems to be complicated and scrupulous occupation, but rather promising and nontrivial. The market offers a lot of mobile applications and online resources such as Codecademy, Codeschool, Scratch, Code.org to become familiar with basic algorithms and machine thinking at any age. And matured programmers and professors try to ensure doubted one to make an appropriate decision by arguments which are provided below:

  • Programming helps to think creatively in terms of problem solving;
  • Programming is a basic literacy;
  • Programming enhances attention;
  • Programming allows create and promote ideas;
  • Programming is a skill “for sale”.
http://xkcd.com/519/

The article reveals programming in terms of five real life examples, which could be another worth arguments for learning how to code.

Example 1. Programming in the kitchen

Programming could be applied to everyday cooking and personalized applications really simplifies the process of looking for the best recipe or technology of cooking if you are an amateur or even a professional cook.

Here is a real case how to use programming skills in the kitchen:

“Dealing with cookbooks and food magazines for recipes was really annoying, so I wrote a recipe app that gradually expanded into something that makes our grocery list for the week as well. This saves us literally hours per week, and helps us try things that looked interesting once, but aren’t in one of our “favorite” cookbooks.”

http://xkcd.com/192/

Example 2. Programming and Excel spreadsheets

Tasks in Excel usually require working with huge collections of data and copy-cut-paste process could be infinite. Visual Basic could be used to automate the workflow and operate faster, less mistakenly with values. Combination of pretty simple and many-sided tools, such as Excel and Visual Basic, definitely, will bring satisfaction from well done work.

http://xkcd.com/221/

Example 3. Programming and secured access

There is a need to make up or enter existing password several times per week while using any service. However, it is better to write a specified password generator password generator according to your personal preferences. Or programming skills could be used to make the security system more complicated as well.

http://xkcd.com/936/

Example 4. Programming at school

Students deal with quadratic equations, finding the greatest common divisor and least common multiple and many other mathematical problems which could be easily solved by simple, short code, for example, on PHP. Knowledge of any programming language teaches how to work with repeatable data in a more effective and programmatic way.

http://xkcd.com/447/

Example 5. Programming and comics

Another example is about the most important and demanded skill ever — sense of humor. You should know programming to understand at least XKCD comics, as it is a truly significant skill in retrospective analysis and, moreover, might help further in communication with nerds and geeks.

http://xkcd.com/741/

Conclusion

It is pointed out that programming is not only the essential tool for personal development, i.e. improving memory, attention, literacy, problem solving techniques etc, but also is very useful in daily life routine. Nevertheless, you come up unintendedly with customized ideas, which are going to simplify your life. But before getting such a significant output and return on your time, there should be hours of practise and a strong understanding of how the system works. No doubt, that the benefits from programming are applicable not only to machines, but they also influence the way of thinking in general.

http://xkcd.com/353/

Originally posted: “Learn programming”.
Image credits: XKCD comics.

Read more – > https://medium.com/hack-education/92c58ca2025b

 

Benjamin Franklin, Social Media Pioneer


Today is not the first time Americans have been enchanted by social media

TWITTER may define the Zeitgeist, but social media is not as new as it looks. Social-media ecosystems, in which information is passed horizontally from person to person along social connections, date back to Roman times. And more than two centuries before Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the rest, another social-media environment arose in colonial America. It consisted of an interlinked network of local newspapers—and its animating figure was Benjamin Franklin.

One of Franklin’s “Silence Dogood” letters

The young Franklin got his start in the media business working for his older brother James, the editor of the New-England Courant, a Boston paper. Benjamin’s first foray into newspaper writing took the form of a series of 14 letters, written under the pseudonym of a widow named Silence Dogood, which he submitted to the New-England Courant’s office, and which were enthusiastically published by his unwitting brother. (The letters proved popular with readers, some of whom even wrote in to propose marriage.) James was furious when 16-year-old Benjamin admitted to having written the letters. This tale does not simply illustrate Benjamin’s ingenuity and writing prowess; it also shows how newspapers at the time were open to submissions from anyone, provided they expressed an interesting opinion. Small and local, with circulations of a few hundred copies at best, such newspapers consisted in large part of letters from readers, and reprinted speeches, pamphlets and items from other papers. They provided an open platform through which people could share and discuss their views with others. They were, in short, social media.

Benjamin Franklin went on to run a newspaper himself, launching the Pennsylvania Gazette in Philadelphia in 1729. A few years later he became Philadelphia’s postmaster, in part because control of the postal service “facilitated the correspondence that improved my newspaper”. He ran the system so efficiently that in 1753 he was made deputy postmaster general for the American colonies. In this role he increased the reliability and frequency of the postal service, reorganising routes and streamlining procedures. The number of deliveries from New York to Philadelphia went from one a week to three a week, and the postal service became profitable for the first time.

Just as important, Franklin allowed free exchange by post of newspapers both within and between colonies, formalising the reprinting of noteworthy reports and letters by papers in different towns. As the publisher and printer of the Pennsylvania Gazette, encouraging the circulation of news in these various ways was in Franklin’s own commercial interest. But it also contributed to the dynamism, vitality and unity of the American colonies’ emerging information ecosystem. It allowed significant letters and pamphlets to reach a wide audience as they were printed in one newspaper and then copied and reprinted by others. By the 1760s the colonial newspaper network had developed into a powerful, open and social platform for rehearsing arguments, propagating ideas and exchanging opinions.

As tensions grew with the government in Britain, many notable letters and pamphlets lit up this network, including John Dickinson’s anonymous “Letters from a Farmer”, which originally appeared in the Pennsylvania Chronicle and were then widely reprinted, and John Adams’s writings under the pen name “Novanglus”, which appeared in Boston newspapers in 1775, arguing with “Massachusettensis” (Daniel Leonard, a Loyalist lawyer who defended the British government’s position). But most successful of all was Thomas Paine, a recent immigrant to the colonies who in January 1776 articulated the case for independence more clearly and forcefully than anyone had done before. His pamphlet, “Common Sense”, quickly rippled through the colonies, shared at first among the political elite, who excitedly recommended it to each other, and then widely reprinted and excerpted in local papers. Unquestionably the most popular and influential pamphlet of the American Revolution, it eventually sold more than 250,000 copies and made Paine the world’s bestselling author.

The popularity of “Common Sense” revealed to the colonists the breadth of support for independence. Many years later, John Adams wrote disapprovingly to Thomas Jefferson that “history is to ascribe the American Revolution to Thomas Paine.” That is an exaggeration, but not much of one. The revolution was certainly helped along by America’s unusually free and open media ecosystem. The circulation of letters, pamphlets and newspapers and the resulting interchange of ideas helped bind together the separate colonies and united them behind a common cause.

America’s contemporary enthusiasm for social media echoes the popularity of its original social-media platform, created by one of the Founding Fathers. Sorry, Facebook and Twitter—but Benjamin Franklin got there first.

Tom Standage is digital editor of The Economist and author of “Writing on the Wall: Social Media—The First 2,000 Years” (Bloomsbury). For more examples of historical precursors of modern social media, visit his blog.

Source Medium – > https://medium.com/technology-and-society/3fb505b1ce7c

 

Why You Shouldn’t Raise Huge Rounds Before You Launch


What Clinkle, Airtime and Color Have In Common

When your startup has layoffs before it even launches, you have a problem.

22-year-old Lucas Duplan made history when he secured $25 million in seed financing from some of the best investors in the business. Pre-launch.

$25 million. For an unproven product. By a first-time founder. Yikes. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that a young founder would experience a few bumps getting his product to market, but when you raise $25 million pre-launch, every struggle your company has becomes the headline of the day.

When I first heard about the round, I had a déjà vu moment. In 2011, I wrote about the launch of Color, the now-defunct mobile photo-sharing application founded by Silicon Valley veteran Bill Nguyen and a team of founders and engineers most companies would fight to the death over. A lot of attention around the startup focused on the $41 million it raised pre-launch.

If Color had raised just a few million, its pivots probably would not have been constant front-page news. Instead, it received an overwhelming amount of scrutiny that affected its operations, reputation and most importantly the team’s morale. In Color’s case, less would have been more. Y Combinator’s Paul Graham knew this — it’s part of why YC decreased the amount of money it gives to each startup team last year.

Remember Color?

The same is true in my opinion for Airtime, the reinvention of Chatroulette founded by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker. Like Clinkle, it raised $25 million pre-launch. And like color, its launch was a complete flop. While Airtime has not shut down, the company hasn’t (publicly) launched any new products in at least a year.

The weight of expectations and the hype unfortunately doomed Airtime from the start.

I’m not suggesting that Clinkle will suffer Color or Airtime’s fate. Honestly, I have nothing against any of these companies. I consider Bill Nguyen a friend and one of the smartest and kindest people I’ve ever met, and I sincerely hope Clinkle figures its shit out and succeeds.

But it doesn’t matter who you are: if you raise an excessive amount of funding in your seed round pre-launch, the weight of the hype and expectations will cause self-inflicted wounds.

As Color has shown, these wounds can be fatal.

I hope startups take away a few very important lessons from Color, Airtime and Clinkle’s struggles:

  1. The faster and cheaper you can launch your product, the better.
  2. It’s harder to test, iterate and pivot with bigger teams and large amounts of money. Don’t raise large amounts of money until you have some amount of traction.
  3. If you do need to raise a large amount of money pre-launch (in finance, medicine, etc., it’s sometimes necessary), do everything in your power to keep the amount you raised a secret. Letting that number be public doesn’t help you in any way.
  4. Don’t try to attract a lot of attention pre-launch. It’s useless because you can’t convert that attention into users or customers.
  5. Never over-hire.

Figure out the right amount of money to get your product to market while giving yourself enough wiggle room for iterations and pivots.

If you liked this post, I’d appreciate it if you’d click “Recommend” below and share it. And tweet at me if you want to discuss this post further.

Source MEdium – > https://medium.com/startup-shenanigans/8ada1ccf8d76

 

The Education Network


Classroom blogging and digital education

 

The digital world is always shifting and we all know it. Myspace, once the king of social networks now finds itself clawing for any slight bit of relevance. Meanwhile, it’s successor, Facebook, is looking for every way imaginable to cement itself as a permanent force of the internet by providing convenient social systems (i.e. commenting, sharing, “likes”) that other websites are eager to employ. In slightly over 5 years, one service toppled another transferring millions of users. This is just a brief mention of how quickly the digital world shifts. In the meantime, education still has not fully embraced the digital age. Citation systems still are not sure if URLs should be required, teachers are hesitant to allow electronics in class and most courses have little to no content available online. This is beginning to change as schools realize the convenience and power of the digital world in educational systems.

A common sentiment made about writing digitally is that it removes students from the pressure of a class. This is both good and bad, Amanda Hagood and Carmel Price note in their article Sister Classrooms: Blogging Across Disciplines and Campuses, that having discussion over the internet is liberating for students. It allows them to write out their thoughts, rewrite them, fully flesh out their idea before they publish the idea. Hagood and Price note that students give superior answers online, where they can use writing as a way to learn, rather than being a product of learning. In a standard classroom, the student is pressured to know the answers at a moments notice, to formulate opinions and answers in seconds. It’s an incredible amount of intangible pressure, something that can often get results, but the results are consistently less thorough than those produced in online writing. When writing in a standard classroom setting, the teacher will usually assign a topic and the student will produce a paper directly on the topic. There will be a revision and a final draft, but the paper is designed to prove that the student understands the concepts taught in class. But often, a student will learn more from writing the paper than he or she will from the actual reading and lesson.

Digital writing is very different; a blog is asynchronous. In the words of Hagood and Price there is an, “absence of faces, voices and other non-verbal cues that help us understand face-to-face conversations.” We understand this to be detrimental in discussion groups, that speaking and discussing through digital means produces less efficient results because the extra effort must go into writing to be clear. It also requires the participants to be incredibly clear about what they mean, often at the expense of prose. This means that digital writing and commenting can simply confuse the student, unless the class is instructed in how to write a useful and clear critical analysis of the original work.

While usually detrimental to prose, this lack of physical presence can be beneficial. Eric Zhi-Feng notes in his paper Using Peer Feedback to Improve Learning Via Online Peer Assessment, that students often feel anxiety during peer review of their work and that peer review through digital means (i.e. commenting systems, forums and Twitter interaction) actually reduces that anxiety by providing a distance between students and their peers. It is both a literal and metaphorical glass wall between students and criticism. It means that students are more relaxed and accepting of criticism, in fact, students reported back that they actually had a positive attitude towards the feedback. The students also reported that they had a much higher quality and quantity of feedback. This feedback comes from an online community; ones who read and care about the subject that a student writes about. It can be other classmates, professors, perhaps just an engaged stranger. It changes the landscape of who the student’s audience is, taking what was previously just an assignment and putting the student in the shoes of an educator. It gives a student a sense of agency over their work that is lacking from standard assignments.

English: Founders Hall, the centerpiece of the...

English: Founders Hall, the centerpiece of the campus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Educational research is not the only field that has noticed the trends that digital writing produces better results. In his TED Talk, Dan Pink, an author and expert on business and management, examined evidence showing that extrinsic incentives for accomplishing tasks caused a negative impact on any task that required even basic cognitive skill. This is completely counter to the way education currently works, the “carrot-on-a-stick” model of creating a better portfolio or writing a better paper for a better grade. Instead, what improves creative performance are three things: autonomy, mastery and purpose. (Pink) Autonomy is the idea that a the student is given the freedom to direct their own work. Mastery is simply the desire to improve in a topic or subject that matters, something echoed by students at Haverford who started the group RE: HUMANITIES. RE: HUMANITIES is an undergraduate conference on digital media run by Haverford College students, currently in it’s fourth year and showing a vast amount of growth. One of the students who helped organize the conference in 2013 commented saying that, students “feel like you understand everything you need to understand because you have greater responsibility to educate and to reach out to a larger audience.”

Finally, Dan Pink cites purpose as something that motivates people to work creatively, the idea that what they are working on has “a larger meaning.”

Digital writing takes the ideas in class and makes them applicable on a larger level, allowing students to take the lessons they learned in class and make them relevant to the average person. Writing with purpose means that the student’s work isn’t just written for a professor, it’s written for other experts, or possibly for those who have no background in the subject.

These are all properties of writing in a digital environment that aren’t possible in the same manner via a standard classroom setting. Digital writing allows the student a measure of autonomy in their work, while still remaining on topic with their class and learning far more than what they would have learned had they been assigned a topic.

Digital writing allows the student a chance at mastery of their topic, by writing to learn and then move on to educate, rather then using writing as a way to simply prove that learning has occurred. It also gives students a sense of purpose, that what they are writing can be seen by other students, used to educate others. Having students write in this manner requires that they attain a more specific knowledge of their subject matter so that their writing, which now has the purpose of educating a worldwide audience, is the best quality it can be. When a student is writing in a digital environment, their work is no longer within the four walls of a classroom, their work is global; it has meaning.

This global outlook is a key point of digital writing that comes back to community. Leigh Wright, an assistant professor of journalism at Murray State University, has been one to fully embrace digital mediums, going as far as to use Twitter (an online microblogging service) as a major platform for class writing. He has used projects such as “live-blogging” school basketball games and lectures from Spike Lee to teach students to tell a story in a concise manner. Let me rephrase that: you have 10 tweets, 140 characters each and a 2 hour lecture to tell your story. This project does not produce the same endless, mindless, pointless spam that Twitter is often criticized for. It’s a project that produced fantastic results because the students involved were given the three things that Dan Pink cites as being essential to creative solutions. The students were given autonomy to tweet about whatever they wanted within the event they were live-blogging. They were given a chance at mastery of writing quickly, concisely and in developing their own writing voice. And because it was live, online, viewable by the entire world, they had a sense of purpose. These live-blogging projects weren’t just for an assignment, they were for the world to see.

The students in this experiment were thrown into a global community where ideas could build on each other, where they could combine all their tweets into one story, organized by a hashtag (a method of “tagging” a post on Twitter to make it easy to find). Where some students tweeted about the game, others tweeted about the fans or the food. There were no repeat observations, the students painted a picture of the entire event they attended, regardless of if they understood it. It allowed the students to engage a wider audience because their voices were so disparate, while still writing about the same events.

This is why digital writing is so powerful. It creates an environment where students care about what they write about. By giving them a measure of autonomy over their work, students have the freedom to expand their project in directions that might not have been thought of up until that point. It makes student work, suddenly of relevance to someone besides a professor, who already has a vast knowledge of the topic. The student is responsible to gain an additional level of mastery over the topic, for the purpose of educating their audience. It puts the teacher in the role of an educated critic, one who can encourage the student to move in a new direction or expand on a sentence they don’t realize has potential.

Digital writing also creates a system where in-person discussion is vital to the creative process. Because there is a lack of interaction via digital writing, the early stages of the writing process, that part where ideas are just beginning to form, are some of the most important. In person discussion allows students to build ideas and expand on them, growing those ideas in directions that wouldn’t be possible without running commentary from peers, bouncing ideas back and forth until the student has a starting place that they’re comfortable with. From there the student can move forward with research or writing, having the benefit of feedback as they write as well as when they are finished.

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

My own experience with digital writing has been one where I know my writing improves vastly when I’m given the opportunity to write online. Mine and my partner’s blog (www.gastropermaculture.com) has been live for a few months now. We’ve been hard at work, not just for a semester or even a few weeks, but for months, developing ideas through face-to-face discussion and over the phone. We’ve had to figure out what we mean by specific words, how we feel about a certain post or if we should move the blog in a specific direction or not. It was a long four months of discussion and early planning, but now we are posting.

Our blog has taken ideas from sustainable agriculture and brought them together with gastronomy to create a project about sustainable food systems; how to source, shop, cook, eat and clean both sustainably and happily. The ideas we expanded on are based off of the principles and ethics of permaculture, an ideology that is normally applied to agriculture. The definition was our prompt, just like we would get when in a class, but we had to find it ourselves and look for the connection between our own ideas and Permaculture. We had to research definitions and opinions, find out if our ideas could fit within the confines of permaculture. There was one particular night where we took a definition of permaculture by it’s originator, Bill Mollison, and rewrote it to have the same principles but with food in mind. It took hours and we worked long past when we normally would have slept, but we had to figure out the idea.

There are still some early posts that we are working on that are best approached by working in the same room, discussing ideas as we write and by visiting places together. But there are countless other posts that we’ve scheduled out what we want on the blog simultaneously, so that there isn’t an influx of similar content, that we can work on separately, using the ability to work at a distance, while still working together. Almost all of this would be impossible with a normal form of print media. Digital writing allows us to incorporate video, podcasts, limitless color photos and interactive media. And because the digital world is always changing and evolving, we have the ability to evolve our content with it. A lot of research will have to go into creating this content and so we are tasked with sorting through mass amounts of information, between permaculture documents, food documents and nutrition documents as well as connecting all these ideas for different posts, there is a lot of education for ourselves before we even begin to educate others.

This is a simple illustration of how digital writing can create an ideal learning environment. My partner and I were self-motivated (autonomous) with our topic, deciding how to approach it, what to write about, our audience and how to integrate to normally disparate ideas into something entirely new. We are required to master our subject matter, having to learn an entire new field, both technically and how to communicate some rather lofty ideas to those who have little to no experience in either permaculture or cooking, while still retaining the attention of those who are well-versed in both. Much of this learning will happen as we write, sometimes requiring multiple drafts. And we have purpose. We passionately believe that what we are learning about, writing about and educating people about. We believe that it can make a difference for people, to give them a freedom over one aspect of their lives and make a positive change in the world.

Digital writing allows my partner and I to do that and it allows other students to do that as well.


Tim Hegberg is a student at Dickinson College, and contributor to Gastronomic Permaculture. His primary work is with digital environmental and sustainability communications. This essay was originally written for Writing In and For Digital Environments (WRPG211) and adapted.

Source medium – > https://medium.com/education-today/e5b557cc2a87

 

 

 

Why It Pays to Listen


Listening is the art of waiting for what someone isn’t saying

 

Stop your yakking. And pay attention.

Something incredible is happening here in the Church of Startups.


These guys aren’t douchebags. They work for Microsoft. They are building a hack .

I was a at Demo Day at Google last night. Twelve teams presented their ideas. Some of them were good. Some that I remember are Notelr, Megaki, Padded.co, and Happenin.

(Happenin was great. It’s an app available in Android that works like a Waze for pedestrians. It was built in Beirut, Lebanon, and it was created because the founder experienced a horrible event — he never said what it was — that made his family’s experience in the city unsafe. He dreamt up a way to get people to self-report crimes, fires, incidents, or bombs (good god)).

But there was a team there that presented their idea. It became clear that they had not figured out how to secure revenue from customers. They also revealed they didn’t know what the basic minimum product for their customers could be. They finished. They sat down

And then for the rest of the demo day, they talked to each other, loudly, about their work, and their product. They were building it as the other products were being pitched.

I’m all for constantly building your product, if you have that momentum and you want to build and secure the future. But demo days should be special. They are kind of like going to church. You don’t sit on your phone or stream NFL games while you are listening to the homily.

Why? Not because the pitching team at the front has some kind of sacred dogma they are spewing at you, but because in everyone’s search for meaning, and their search for product, there are answers to your own problems.

Listening is just poor interpersonal communication skills

When I lived in China, more than a few people recommended I take a lesson from the Chinese. I have no idea if this is even true, but apparently, in business in China you need to listen for what people aren’t saying, so you know how to handle the negotiations.


Not listening is the same as giving your app users an app they can’t understand how to use. Poor communication skills

Maybe. I can’t tell you that I started practicing this and then suddenly became amazing at doing business deals in China. But I did stop talking, and I dd start really listening to what people were saying. And not saying.

I discovered that what was happening when I stopped talking was that a kind of connection was being made between me and the other person. I was beginning to understand in my listening that ideas I had not been thinking about started floating to the surface of my thoughts. Suddenly, things that I could not grasp before became noticeable.

I began to find pathways to solutions.

Business opportunities for a new pattern in a market lie at the edges of seemingly unrelated markets.

They lie at the fragmented edges of half-completed deals, failures to launch, and ideas that are well-intentioned but poorly thought out.

This is what makes demo days such a valuable facet of a community. If you sit down, and stop thinking about yourself, and really start thinking about other people and what they are saying, you end up benefiting twofold.

When you give these teams advice, you help them. A win for the heart.

Image representing Y Combinator as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

When you listen without interrupting with your insistent pitter-patter of ego thoughts, you start developing a sense for what is not working for yourself.

I want to argue without any material evidence that entrepreneurship forms an integral cultural need.

It helps us talk to ourselves and work collectively to build systems. Without listening, systems erode.

And you can’t enable anyone’s success without a system. That’s your real business.

SOURCE medium – > https://medium.com/p/6f80f24f2b3a

 

 

 

Contextual Lockscreen Cover Hits Google Play Boasting Less Battery Drain And 100 More Upgrades


Posted 35 minutes ago by (@joshconstine)
Next Story

Cover is bringing its situation-aware lockscreen to more Android users today after its beta test launch six weeks ago. It’s now available in the Google Play store to Android 4.1+ users in the US, Canada, and Europe. Cover’s 100 new improvements include cutting down battery drain and being better at detecting if you’re in your car, at home or at work so it puts the right apps on your lockscreen.

“The big question I had personally was whether users would understand the concept of the lockscreen” Cover founder Todd Jackson tells me about what he’s learned from its thousands of beta testers since October. “Turns out they do. We were specifically focused on building a lockscreen rather than a launcher. They like the flexibility of being able to use Cover with other launchers.”

Steamrolling over a user’s existing customization was sticking point that hurt Facebook Home’s early adoption. By acting as an interaction layer that floats on top of a user’s Android homescreen, Cover has found people more willing to adapt to how it radically alters their lockscreen.

horizontal_graphic

Source Read more – > http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/12/download-cover/

 

Instagram Is The Apple Of Apps, Fast Following With Finesse


Posted 3 hours ago by (@joshconstine)
Next Story

Instagram didn’t invent photo sharing, video sharing, or the photo messaging it launched today. With 150 million users, it doesn’t have to be first. It just wants to be the best, making new experiences accessible to as many people as possible, but with style. You might say Instagram steals these ideas, but that would put it good company. It’s what people say about Apple.

Instagram was never really original. From the days when it was Burbn, it’s been a mashup of other apps with an extra coat of gloss.

Back then it was Foursquare meets Hipstamatic. Checkins and photo filters. It dropped most of the Foursquare part, and added a Twitter-style unfiltered feed. Twitter felt real-time, and Instagram did too, but by showing images in-line, it was more visually appealing.

Read more – > http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/12/follow-with-finesse/

 

An Intelligent Dog’s Guide to Business


Can you learn anything about running your business from a clever corgi? Probably not, but read on and find out.

 

 

My people were amused at first when I told them I was going to write a blog post giving advice to entrepreneurs. The idea of Cardigan Welsh Corgi, albeit a very good looking and clever Cardigan Welsh Corgi, giving advice to business people tickled them quite a lot. They then thought about it some more and took a very uncooperative view of my idea.
“Rusty, you can’t tell business people that they should sniff each other’s butts!”, they said in that alarmed pitch they use to offer each other valuable but unwanted criticism. With that my 8 tips for business people became 7 tips.

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

“It is hardly a good idea to tell them that if they hear an unusual noise they should bark like hell!” Again this was said that voice that was several pitches too high and my 7 tips became 6.
At the point I decided to end the consultation exercise and just start working on advice which a dog like me can offer to business people like you. I hope find it more valuable than my people thought you would.

# 1 – Love who you are
You may be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. If so, that is great, stop reading this and hurry up and change the world. However you may not be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates and you may want to be. Well you are not them. Dogs do not spend their time thinking wouldn’t it be great to be one of the corgis living in Buckingham Palace or the Governor’s mansion in California. Well maybe occasionally we do, but most of the time we know exactly who we are and really like being that dog.
Look in the mirror and focus on the person in front of you. This is you and you are important and creative. Look at your company and what it actually does. You should love who you are and who your company is, always wanting to improve and trying to achieve more but never becoming totally unrealistic. You can imagine what it is like to have an IPO like Netscape or Facebook but you should spend far time thinking about what you and your company is going to. You should be pleased with what you are doing. You should love who you are and what you do.

# 2 – Love the hand that feeds
This is one of the big doggie things. You just have to come home after a hard day at work and the greeting you will get from your dog shows how much they love you. Among other things you are the hand that feeds and dogs love the hand that feeds. For a business, customer are the hand that feeds. You may not always agree with your customers, sometime you may not even like them and other times you might feel that they have to be “educated” so that they appreciate what you are offering. However, you should always love them. You should want to improve their lives, want to make them better users of your products, want to improve what you sell so that they get a better deal. It is a very healthy state if the head of a business is slightly obsessive about their customers and how their company can make things better for their customers.

# 3 – Defend your territory
There are rules which every dog knows and every dog follows. Another dog cannot just walk into your territory without being challenged. If two dogs meet on a neutral ground there is no issue. A dog instinctively know whether territory should be defended or whether there is no threat. Business should know this too. A customer of yours may be asking a lot of questions to improve their business. This is fine. However, they may be asking questions so that they can launch a competing product. This is not fine. You need to develop dog-like instinct to know when to cooperate and when to defend. These days defending your territory can be pretty hard for a business. It is an unfortunate fact of life that if you bark your head off your competitor will not go away with its tail between its legs. You need to develop smart ways to defend your territory. If your competitor has made a mistake, take advantage of it. They will do the same so be careful about giving ammunition to the enemy.

# 4 – Sniff everything first
Dogs understand the need to act fast if an opportunity arises. If the people are eating at the table and something accidentally drops most dogs will clear this off the floor very quickly. However, there are also times when a dog decides too fast to eat something and gets into problems. My advice to dogs is always to sniff first. My advice to humans is the same. Act quickly and decisively but always sniff first so you know there is every probability you are making the right decision. If you spend too long thinking your competitor will get there first. You need to sniff first and not commission PhD research.

# 5 – Know when to stop chasing your tail
Rushing round in circles chasing your tail is actually quite enjoyable. Most dogs know this. However, if anyone sees you doing it they think you’re crazy and it achieves absolutely nothing. Humans also do a lot of chasing their own tails in business. They see an idea, run after it, forget about it for a bit, get the same idea again and run after it again. There are many thing we would love to be able to do but cant. A dog would love to be able to catch its own tail and can chase it for hours. Business too can have some goal they are not going to achieve and it would be far better to stop. There is a time to stop chasing your own tail. That time is as soon as you realize you are doing it.

# 6 – Understand the pack
The pack is the natural group for a dog. Even with a small number of dogs, each dog knows its place in the hierarchy. Dogs also see their families as a pack and like to know the hierarchy. They also do not like so much change in the pack. Many companies are very similar to a pack. If you are the CEO of a business you are similar to a pack leader. Some people think the leader in a wolf or dog pack is just the toughest. This is not true. They also have to look out for the rest of the pack. They have to lead. If you are the CEO of your company. You have to understand your company, your pack. You have to look after your pack and you have to lead it.

(Cartoons credit: http://www.canstockphoto.com © Can Stock Photo Inc.)

Source Medium – > https://medium.com/businesses-and-entrepreneurship/cc7eb1b94dba