My iPhone

I bought the iPhone tonight.

It’s beautiful. The user interface is gorgeous and the display is truly stunning.

iPhoto & iTunes integration is slick. Safari is so cool. WiFi on a phone is killer. Activation on AT&T is a breeze with iTunes. I’m sure I could gets used to the keyboard.

But it’s not going to replace my Blackberry Curve. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with Exchange in a seamless way like the Blackberry. I want wireless email, calender, contacts syncing with Exchange. And I want push. The iPhone doesn’t do this.


I’m sure Apple will figure this out and offer some killer integration with Exchange soon. Maybe with Goodlink software, Visto or ActiveSync or something. please god something.

And when they do I’ll be first in line.

(via BijanBlog)

The fun in building simple applications

When my dad bought our first computer, the Apple II, it didn’t come with any applications. But it did come with BASIC. And that kept us busy. Really busy.

It was fun to try and learn the language and build simple applications. That was my first “hello world” program.

When I was in undergrad I studied a bunch of computer languages, Cobol, Assembly, Pascal, LISP, C etc. These languages allowed us to build complicated software. And that was the problem for me. Everything was so complicated. They just got in my way. Did I really need five spaces in the first line in COBOL? Why?

Then in the late 80’s I discovered Apple’s Hypercard. Man that was a like a breath of fresh air. Brilliant really. It was so easy and fun to create applications, mixing media types, visual effects. And people were sharing Hypercard apps everywhere (floppies, aol, etc). 

I love that Lego Mindstorms NXT comes with a programming kit and kids are creating and sharing apps. Giving kids easy software and hardware is smart. I also think Digital Brix could be on to something by allowing users the ability to create and share simple and fun games.

There is  pent up demand here. Yahoo Pipes is interesting but maybe still too complex.

Give people the tools and web services to create simple applications. Software and hardware. Let’s bring back the fun and passion that came with the Apple II and TRS80.

And not just for highly technical folks but for early adopters, creative types and ultimately mainstream consumers.

(n.b. thanks to this person for having a hypercard photo)

(via BijanBlog)

Technology and Buddism

I’ve been following the very good TEDBlog’s coverage of TEDGlobal 2007 this week. Well worth reading. Powerful information.

A few days TEDBlog posted an earlier video of Bob Thurman’s talk (taken on 12/06) about how an all connected world, delivered by technology means that we can know anything at anytime. From TEDBlog:

“And this mass enlightenment, says Thurman, is our first step toward
becoming Buddha. When we can know everything, we can see how everything
is interconnected – and we can begin to feel compassion for every
living being.”

How powerful is that.

Here’s the video. Hope you like it as much as I did.

(via BijanBlog)

Getting the User Experiece right

When you see a product or service that nails the user experience it often feels obvious.

The wheel on the ipod
The feel of the TiVo remote control
The consistency of what’s listed under each menu on all Apple applications
Shopping on Amazon

But the reality is that getting the user experience is really hard stuff. Many times I hear from entrepreneurs something like “oh, we’re definitely going to hire a great UI guy….”

Or VCs might look at a web service created by a 19 year old and think how hard could that be. Where is the secret sauce to this product?

Watching companies consistently and dramatically improve their UI is something I love to watch. Veoh for example has been improving their website and player consistently over the past 18 months. And it’s really paying off. They are now ranked under 250 on Alexa and growing like crazy.  They aren’t doing any marketing really. Users love their product.

Contrast that with the UI that some cable operators ship on their DVRs. Over the memorial day weekend, I was visiting my parents in Long Island. They have a HD DVR cable box from Cablevision. I couldn’t believe how unusable the on screen guide was. We are now more than 11 years since TiVo and WebTV introduced really easy EPGs for DVRs. Is it really hard to nail a season pass UI or UI dealing with scheduling conflicts on a DVR. My guess is that the folks working on the Cablevision box really aren’t obsessed with the user experience. It feels like the UI is merely a check box and they are moving on to other things. Or check out the user interface that comes with your digital camera or HDTV. Horrible.

Getting the user experience right is a rare gift. It’s art. It’s much more than a good use of technology. You either have it or you don’t.

At last week’s D conference Bill Gates had a memorable quote about Steve jobs:

“"I’d give a lot to have
Steve’s taste – in terms of intuitive taste for people and products,”
he said. “The way he does things, it’s just different. It’s magical.”

But more than a gift or magic, it requires obsession. Not just passion. But
constant obsession to details.

We should appreciate this when we see a startup get this right. It’s ain’t easy and it’s big barrier to entry.

(via BijanBlog)