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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Friday Four

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Four Things

I'm taking next week off from blogging. See you back here on the thirtieth.

1. Not only is the following a cool problem for someone to have...
Back home, I have to unlock the door, climb like 20 steps -- it's plenty of time to connect to the wifi. Then I have to take off my headphones before my sweaty t-shirt, so it would be great to just switch the current song to the living room airplay system, so that there'd be no interruption. I couldn't do it, and don't understand why switching between bluetooth and wifi shouldn't just work.
... it also made me smile as I remembered Weird Al's parodic "First World Problems," embedded below.


2. I never drink it, but the story of the surprisingly (to me) recent invention of Bailey's Irish Cream was a fun read:
It was mid-November, dark, wet and cold. 1973. We collected the Baileys report from the market researcher alongside the Chiswick roundabout en route to Heathrow. We were cutting it fine for our big Dublin meeting. Tom drove and I leafed through the document in the car. It wasn't a comfortable read. "This isn't going to help our case," I said. "It's not all bad, but it isn't all good either." The bit about being a "girly drink" was in there and so was the comment likening it to Kaolin & Morphine. It was perfect ammunition for someone who wanted to kill the idea. The report contained nothing to reflect the earth-shattering idea we thought Baileys was now that we observed it in its full packaged glory. "Why don't we just put it away and not mention it?" I said. Tom immediately agreed and I stuck it in my briefcase and left it there. It stayed in my briefcase until 1984 when I unveiled it at the 10th anniversary party. It got a huge laugh. The "Kaolin & Morphine flavoured girly drink" had sold about four million cases (48 million bottles) that year.
Those brothers mentioned on the label? A confabulation.

3. If you've ever wondered why Linux on smart phones hasn't exactly taken off, one writer makes a very good case that it's a solution looking for a problem to solve:
In order for mobile Linux to really resonate with casual users, it needs to solve a problem. Right now, the biggest issue facing smart phones is planned obsolescence. This means when a device becomes too old and deemed no longer worth updating, smart phones then see their security and functionality updates stop.
That noted, this Samsung owner hopes a new effort to bring Linux to that brand succeeds where others haven't.

4. Have you ever wondered why open offices are awful places to work, but Starbucks isn't? Wonder no more.
[N]ew research shows that it may not be the sound itself that distracts us ... it may be who is making it. In fact, some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don't get drawn into the conversation. Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That's why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.
A comment thread at Hacker News makes much of power dynamics and having to "look busy" -- which I think are good points.

But the very day I read this, I stopped at a McDonald's after getting my car fixed. I'd worked at the shop on my computer and was thinking about eating lunch there and then working some more at the Golden Arches... Until some holy roller accosted me with the ridiculous assertion that the sunshine outside had something to do with God -- at which point I rolled my eyes, said, "Gotchya," and left to work elsewhere.

Call it a First Amendment Problem: Easily solved. But the point remains that this fool has no bearing on my life beyond where he chose to be at the moment and my willingness to spend energy fending him off. Distraction is a Big Deal.

-- CAV

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