How to give Apple feedback about the iPhone?

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What’s the most effective way to give Apple real product feedback about the iPhone?  I’m not interested in complaining…I want to offer some genuine feedback.

Backstory: last Friday, I got an iPhone 6.  I used it Friday night and Saturday.  Then, on Sunday morning I wiped it, went back to my iPhone 5 and gave the iPhone 6 to my wife.

Now, don’t get me wrong: the iPhone 6 is a beautiful device.  But, I agree with Steve Jobs’ point of view that he wanted to keep the iPhone small enough to manipulate with one hand.  There’s no two ways about it: the iPhone 6 is definitely a two-handed device.

My wife’s hands are small enough that every phone is a two-handed device, so moving to the iPhone 6 was no big deal.  In fact, she really likes how the thinner phone with rounded edges feels in her hands.

I’m not going to say Apple was wrong by introducing bigger devices.  As I’ve just illustrated, different sizes suit different customers.

Historically, Apple keeps their prior generation iPhones around for one cycle as the less expensive model, then knocks it off when another new generation is introduced.  I hope Apple breaks with this history.

What I would like to convey to Apple’s product managers on the iPhone is that I really hope they keep the 4″ size of the iPhone 5 around when they introduce the next version.  I can see the iPhone line having three sizes—small, medium and large.  It would be very elegant.  (Hopefully, perhaps next year they’ll introduce a small version of the iPhone 6 line, so that small screen users like me can enjoy the thinner form-factor.)

So, coming back to my original question: what is the best way to convey this feedback?

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September 22nd, 2014 at 1:32 pm

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What is “net neutrality” and why should I care?

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I often find myself looking at a political issue and asking myself, “why should I care?”  Net neutrality is an issue that we should all care about because it will impact all of us.

Net neutrality means that you pay one price for your Internet access regardless of what type of content you’re viewing on the Internet.  In other words, checking your email costs the same as reading this blog post and the same as watching a movie on Netflix and so on.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs), i.e. Comcast, TimeWarner, etc, don’t like the laws or regulations that require net neutrality.  Why?  C’mon…why do you think?  Because they would make more money if net neutrality weren’t the law of the land.

How can I explain?  Easy, a picture is worth a thousand words.  The picture below illustrates how you would start to experience the Internet if net neutrality laws and regulations were changed.  Don’t see your favorite site on there…oooh, that’s gonna be a problem.  Your ISP has different political views than you…ooooh, that could be a problem too.

The bottom line is every responsible American needs to contact their elected officials and express their support of net neutrality.  This is not an abstract issue—it will have a meaningful impact on your quality of life.

Take action before it’s too late…here is what you need to now:



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September 10th, 2014 at 9:02 am

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Your Cell Phone

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When you get up in the morning, don’t look at your phone.

And, don’t look at it when you go to bed.

Or, on the bus.

Or, waiting in line.

Or, anytime.

Just don’t look.

It’s a drug. Literally. Drugs alter our state of consciousness so that we don’t have to deal with reality as it is. The phone, like a drug, enables us to escape, temporarily, from reality.

You’re addicted and I’m addicted and we’re all device junkies.

Can I manage it? Do I need to quit cold turkey? I don’t know, but they don’t make rehab for this sort of thing, so I just have to try.

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August 27th, 2014 at 9:04 am

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Israel-Palestine Notes: Give to Receive and Nazi Fools

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A few thoughts on the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Give to Receive
From Hamas, PA officials in Cairo solidify agreement on conditions for ceasefire I read:

…a senior leader from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine…said the different Palestinian factions had agreed on a unified list of conditions.

“Ceasefire, the pullout of Israeli forces, ending the blockade, releasing the prisoners … and starting the reconstruction process,” he told Reuters by phone.

“There are details attached to each of these points and there will be a meeting soon with the Egyptian side to discuss the (Palestinian) paper,” he said.

I noticed that the Palestinians only talk about what they want out of a peace, but not what they’re willing to give in order to get it.  The Israelis do the same.  Maybe if each side started by stating what they would give up for peace we could get to a resolution more quickly.

Nazi Fools
From a pro-Palestinian rally in Seattle: placards that say “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” and “Zionist Israel = Nazi Germany” simply reveal uneducated fools who don’t actually understand what the Holocaust was or means.

The Holocaust was a systematic execution of millions of people.  Execute.  Kill.  Murder.  The Nazi’s literally invented technology in order to execute more efficiently.  Israel is not perfect, but by no means can you equate their imperfect actions to the intentional genocide of the Nazis.  To do so illustrates an indescribable level of ignorance.



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August 3rd, 2014 at 10:06 pm

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Snowfall for the Masses? I think not.

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Two years ago, the New York Times produced Snowfall, and broke the four minute mile in online publishing.  Given that I’ve been working in online publishing since 1995—first with Smallworld, then with ESPN, Cheezburger, and most recently with Do206—I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about innovation in online publishing.

Last week, Geekwire reported on Pixotale which is attempting to push publishing toward Snowfall for the masses.  Similarly, a few of the guys from Cheez went off to Steller which is mentioned in the article.

After Cheezburger, I considered a few startup ideas in the “innovative online publishing” space, but ultimately stayed away.  I had passion for the topic, but couldn’t find a business model that I liked.  I think what I learned from my research was two fold:

First, I think an innovative online publishing solution really has to be a B2B enterprise solution.  I could be wrong—and that’s the bet that Pixotale and Steller are making—but I don’t believe regular people want take the time to make innovative content.  Or, more precisely, there are regular people who do want to tell stories, but there aren’t enough of them to have a successful business.

And, second, even within the enterprise, most organizations won’t spend the money and don’t have the ability to tell good stories.  I think that’s why there has been only one Snowfall.

Speaking of which, NYT produced this innovative piece about Iraq earlier this week.  To me, the format is interesting on the desktop, but I think the presentation is even more compelling on mobile.  In some ways, it reminded me of what Ben Huh is doing with Circa.  As a consumer, the Circa concept/format is something I’d like to see more news publishers adopt.

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July 4th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

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A totally simple way Google could have avoided f***ing up Google+

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I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a year, and I might as well get it out there now that I’ve just read that Google is backing away from Google+.

It’s not surprising that Google is getting away from Google+.  It was actually a really good product, but the thing has had zero traction with real people.

But, I have to be honest, the way Google has handled Google+ has totally pissed me off.  No, I’m not among the legions who have been unhappy about Google integrating Google+ into all of their other products.

I’m pissed because Google blew an amazing opportunity.  Google possessed a totally simple and easy way to make Google+ practical and relevant, but somehow, I don’t know how, they f***ed it up.

What am I talking about?  Let’s rewind to March 13, 2013:

We have just announced on the Official Google Blog that we will soon retire Google Reader (the actual date is July 1, 2013). We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go.

Naturally, there was a lot of reaction and angry Reader users.

But, Google could have avoided angry Reader users and given Google+ a massive boost by simply integrating Reader into Google+.

Yes, just that simple…make it so that you could follow an RSS feed as though it were another user in G+.  Make it so that you could put RSS feeds into circles, and share them, just like you do with other G+ users.

If Google would have done that G+ would have taken off like wildfire and nobody would have ever looked back.  I have no idea why they didn’t, but for some reason the lost potential has irritated me for a year.  And, here we are now, with the whole effort going down the tubes.

What a waste.


P.S.  I would love to hear from someone on the Plus or Reader teams about why Reader or RSS wasn’t integrated into G+.  I mean, Google is filled with very smart people…there must have been some rationale or logic behind their thinking, and I’d like to know what it was.  If you are someone who knows, shoot me an email or leave a comment.

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April 24th, 2014 at 10:28 pm

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How I Removed Email From My Life

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This post originally appeared on the Rover Tech Blog.

Of the many things that are really great about Rover, one of them is that we have a very healthy “email culture”. We mostly talk face-to-face or in a chat room. Most mornings, I arrive at work with very few new emails in my inbox.

I surveyed my Rover email for the last week, and in that time I have been part of 118 email threads from people inside of Rover.[1] That’s 16.9 emails per day or 23.6 per work day.[2] I can tell you from past experience, that is virtually nothing; other places I’ve worked have been in the 100+ per day range.

With Rover’s email culture, I already was getting an “A” in not being overloaded by email. But, email is something that stresses me out, so I wanted to dial things up to an “A+”. Those few messages I did have sitting in my inbox were like a little devil on my shoulder whispering, “hey, look here…there are unattended things to do”. I didn’t like it.

So, I decided to get email out of my life for good.

To start, I decided that in order to stay focused on my task list, I didn’t want to have Gmail open in my browser all day long. Once I made that decision, things moved pretty quickly.

Then, I needed a way to surface my tasks. One way was to look at my tasks on the right pane of Google Calendar. But, the column in which the tasks appear is too narrow for my liking; I wanted a full-page view. Google doesn’t provide an obvious way to have a full browser screen for the task list, but after some searching and experimentation I figured out that returns the task list.

As I worked down my task list, sometimes a task would involve sending an email, contacting someone by Google Chat, or needing to find old emails that informed the task I was working on. I solved these problems with a combination of Chrome Extensions and Chrome Search Engines:

With these tools in place, I am now able to treat reading email just like every other task: something that I prioritize with intention. I am much less stressed and distracted by email, my productivity has increased and I feel happier too!

[1] I decided to look at email threads, not individual emails, with the assumption being that each thread is some subject matter to which I need to devote mindshare and attention. In addition, I decided to not include automated system emails because I have rules that filter these out of my Inbox. Finally, I excluded email from people outside of Rover, such as mailing lists or inquiries from salespeople, those mails are not reflective of Rover’s email culture.

[2] Even at those amazing rates, many of those emails were “noise”:

  • 15 emails were “here I am” email, i.e. “running late”, “out sick”, “working from home”, etc.
  • 30 were calendar notifications (19 invites, 8 updates and 3 cancellations)
  • 5 were personal, i.e. “wanna get coffee”, “who wants to go to happy hour tonight?”, etc.

These e-mails take virtually zero mindshare, so let’s remove them from the tabulation. Subtracting the noise leaves 75 emails that needed my attention: 9.7 per day or 13.6 per work day.

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April 17th, 2014 at 11:25 am

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Mailbag: how to build an active, engaged audience?

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Don recently wrote about his social content site which currently is, “fully functional, with a few dozen active users and over 28,000” posts.

You’ve got a wealth of experience and knowledge related to user-generated content & the nature of social interactions on the web, and I’m hoping that you could provide suggestions on our “next steps,” most particularly with respect to building a community of active, engaged users.

Regarding your site, how to build an active, engaged audience is, almost literally, the $64,000 question. It’s what everybody wants…the question is, how?

There’s no silver bullet that I know of. Since it sounds like you have some users, the place I would start is by making personal connection to them. Literally, call them on the phone. Ask them about why they use the service and what it means to them. Find out how it makes their life better. If they live nearby, go visit them. If you have to travel, try to meet people in other cities.

In short, the answer to finding out how to create an engaged audience is by understanding the motivations of the people who are currently engaged. Find out what is the thing about your site that is indispensable to your users.

Additionally, find ways for users to connect to each other. When personal connections between users happen…especially offline…that’s when real magic starts to happen.  Then your site isn’t just an online toy…it’s something real and meaningful.

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March 14th, 2014 at 10:09 am

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Notes on How to be a Great Leader

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From TED:

There are many leadership programs available today, from 1-day workshops to corporate training programs. But chances are, these won’t really help. In this clear, candid talk, Roselinde Torres describes 25 years observing truly great leaders at work, and shares the three simple but crucial questions would-be company chiefs need to ask to thrive in the future.

I watched the talk, so you don’t have to…here’s my notes.

Three questions to ask to determine if you’re doing the things that great leaders do:

1.  How are you anticipating change?

Look at your calendar: Who are you spending time with?  What are you reading?  Where are you traveling?

Great leaders are not head down, but looking out.

2.  What is the diversity of your network?

Great leaders have the capacity to develop relationshiops with people who are different from themselves.

3.   Are you courageous enough to abandon a practice that has made you successful in the past?

Great leaders don’t talk about taking risks…they do it!

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March 13th, 2014 at 10:07 am

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Sayta Nadella on Leadership

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From today’s New York Times, Microsoft’s new CEO on leadership. [Emphasis mine.]

Q. Your company has acknowledged that it needs to create much more of a unified “one Microsoft” culture. How are you going to do that?

A. One thing we’ve talked a lot about, even in the first leadership meeting, was, what’s the purpose of our leadership team? The framework we came up with is the notion that our purpose is to bring clarity, alignment and intensity. What is it that we want to get done? Are we aligned in order to be able to get it done? And are we pursuing that with intensity? That’s really the job.

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February 20th, 2014 at 1:19 pm

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