Buying design, like buying a car, is a financial transaction. At some point money will come up. In fact, one of the first questions we ask prospective clients is about their budget. This question tends to make people nervous. I’ve had clients flat out refuse to tell me, with the explanation that if they disclose that information I’ll just tell them that’s what the work will cost. That’s partially true.
I’ll tell you what you can get for that amount. Then we can talk about whether you actually need that much design or not. But most of all, what that number tells me is how to guide you toward the appropriate solution for you, and to stay away from solutions that are outside of your price range.” —Mike Monteiro: Why I Need to Know Your Design Budget
We know what happened in the case of QWest before 9/11. They contacted the CEO/Chairman asking to wiretap all the customers. After he consulted with Legal, he refused.
As a result, NSA canceled a bunch of unrelated billion dollar contracts that QWest was the top bidder for. And then the Department of Justice targeted him and prosecuted him and put him in prison for insider trading — on the theory that he knew of anticipated income from secret programs that QWest was planning for the government, while the public didn’t because it was classified and he couldn’t legally tell them, and then he bought or sold QWest stock knowing those things.
This CEO’s name is Joseph P. Nacchio and today he’s still serving a trumped-up 6-year federal prison sentence today for quietly refusing an NSA demand to massively wiretap his customers.” —John Gilmore: One possible reason CEOs comply with government intelligence gathering
I was editing MacUser UK in 1998 when rumours surfaced that Apple was working on a completely new kind of Mac. By a series of flukes, we became the first magazine to print what turned out to be a pretty accurate description of the machine a couple of months ahead of its launch as the iMac. We got the details from someone who worked at a third party site where Apple had seeded a test unit.
Probably safe by now to mention what the site was. It was the Pentagon. Compared to the real secrets they were keeping, when it came to some plastic PC they’d been asked not to talk about, I suspect nobody gave a shit.” —Adam Banks
I have been involved in setting bonuses for a fair number of years. Basically, it’s a bunch of guys in a room going over a list of names and accounts and saying ‘OK, so how much do we give this guy?’.
The first year I made a terrible mistake. I thought, I am going to fight for the people on my team to get what they deserve. Wrong. After I had settled on those numbers, senior management came in and cut all bonuses by 20%. Headquarters took off another 15%.
The following year I added 40% over what I thought reasonable and that’s how it played out. By cutting bonuses senior management proves to headquarters they have the bank’s interests at heart (while probably leaving more for the top). Headquarters need to be seen by shareholders to be doing the same.” —Anonymous equity sales director on bonuses
I’d like to conclude with a joint message from me and your parents. Don’t drop out of college to start a startup. There’s no rush. There will be plenty of time to start companies after you graduate. In fact, it may be just as well to go work for an existing company for a couple years after you graduate, to learn how companies work.
And yet, when I think about it, I can’t imagine telling Bill Gates at 19 that he should wait till he graduated to start a company. He’d have told me to get lost. And could I have honestly claimed that he was harming his future— that he was learning less by working at ground zero of the microcomputer revolution than he would have if he’d been taking classes back at Harvard? No, probably not. […]
So while I stand by our responsible advice to finish college and then go work for a while before starting a startup, I have to admit it’s one of those things the old tell the young, but don’t expect them to listen to. We say this sort of thing mainly so we can claim we warned you. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.” —Paul Graham: Hiring is Obsolete
The big change that “experience” causes in your brain is learning that you need to solve people’s problems. Once you grasp that, you advance quickly to the next step, which is figuring out what those problems are. And that takes some effort, because the way software actually gets used, especially by the people who pay the most for it, is not at all what you might expect.
For example, the stated purpose of Powerpoint is to present ideas. Its real role is to overcome people’s fear of public speaking. It allows you to give an impressive-looking talk about nothing, and it causes the audience to sit in a dark room looking at slides, instead of a bright one looking at you.” —Paul Graham: Hiring is Obsolete
About six months ago I was in a UN agency and I saw a North Korean watch list. And the watch list was very instructive. You looked at it, and you could see where it was believed the North Koreans were trying to finance and ship [nuclear components] from.
The watch list had three ports in the UAE. Malaysia was on it. Cayman Islands. Cyprus, Lichtenstein, Greece, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Vietnam, Turkey, Mauritania, Thailand, Singapore.
The North Koreans are all over the world, trying to figure out ways to fool export controllers, and export controllers are trying to stay a step ahead of them…” —Mark Hibbs
Since the 1930s, with the introduction of Social Security, the United States has constructed—slowly, haphazardly, often painfully—a welfare state. Pensions, public housing, health care—piece by piece, the government created protections for citizens that the market doesn’t always provide. Child care is the major unfinished part of that project. The lack of quality, affordable day care is arguably the most significant barrier to full equality for women in the workplace. It makes it more likely that children born in poverty will remain there. That’s why other developed countries made child care a collective responsibility long ago.
This year, President Barack Obama has put forward what he calls a “universal pre-kindergarten” proposal. It would provide states with matching funds, so that they could set up their own programs for three- and four-year-olds, while modestly increasing subsidies for infant and toddler care. This plan would cost $75 billion over ten years, financed by higher cigarette taxes, which means it will meet serious political resistance. But the concept has support from key Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has spoken of “doing for child care what we did for health care.”” —Jonathan Cohn: The Hell of American Day Care
The second major category of investments involves assets that will never produce anything, but that are purchased in the buyer’s hope that someone else – who also knows that the assets will be forever unproductive – will pay more for them in the future. Tulips, of all things, briefly became a favorite of such buyers in the 17th century.
Today the world’s gold stock is about 170,000 metric tons. If all of this gold were melded together, it would form a cube of about 68 feet per side. (Picture it fitting comfortably within a baseball infield.) At $1,750 per ounce – gold’s price as I write this – its value would be $9.6 trillion. Call this cube pile A.
Let’s now create a pile B costing an equal amount. For that, we could buy all U.S. cropland (400 million acres with output of about $200 billion annually), plus 16 Exxon Mobils (the world’s most profitable company, one earning more than $40 billion annually). After these purchases, we would have about $1 trillion left over for walking-around money (no sense feeling strapped after this buying binge). Can you imagine an investor with $9.6 trillion selecting pile A over pile B?
A century from now the 400 million acres of farmland will have produced staggering amounts of corn, wheat, cotton, and other crops – and will continue to produce that valuable bounty, whatever the currency may be. Exxon Mobil will probably have delivered trillions of dollars in dividends to its owners and will also hold assets worth many more trillions (and, remember, you get 16 Exxons). The 170,000 tons of gold will be unchanged in size and still incapable of producing anything. You can fondle the cube, but it will not respond.” —Warren Buffett on speculating with gold vs investing in companies (PDF)
What I find interesting is that the “people first” interface of Facebook Home follows a trail blazed by Microsoft with Windows Phone. But Facebook’s ads promoting Home are 180 degrees apart from Microsoft’s for Windows Phone.
Microsoft’s ads promoted the idea that with Windows Phone, you would — and should — spend less time looking at your phone. Facebook’s ads take the opposite approach, and flat-out encourage you to tune out of your surroundings — at home, at work, everywhere — and pay attention only to what’s going on in Facebook on your phone.” —John Gruber