As a Harvard alum and (small & indirect) investor in Facebook, I figured I should read Aaron Greenspan's book AUTHORITAS, subtitled "One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era". But it's pretty long, so I used Knuth's technique for literary analysis: take a slice through the book and analyzing selected sentences in detail. His calligraphed book 3:16 studies chapter 3, verse 16 of every book in the bible. (He chose those numbers because John 3:16 is a well-known verse and he wanted to make sure he got at least one good one.) Here is chapter 3, paragraph 16 in Brush Script MT Italic:
From a quick scan of the rest of the page I didn't find a definition of A.R.P., but did see that this is set in sixth grade. The paragraph uses digression to build suspense. Readers unconsciously assume that when the writer takes this long to get to the point, it's going to be big. Has Kennedy been assassinated? No, wrong time period. This was early 90s. O.J. Simpson not guilty? Cold fusion? The Pope pardons Galileo? What would make such an impact on him? It turns out, another teacher wanted help installing a computer, so he's excited that his reputation as a guy who knows about computers has spread. Since the teacher just announced to the class that he was going to be setting up a computer, his reputation has spread farther. It says on the book jacket that he started a computer repair business when he was 15, so I assume this is the beginnings of it.
Actually, he's not using digression to build suspense as much as to simply digress. We learn that he sat on the floor in sixth grade, that his class's teacher trusted them, that the phone cord was coiled and light brown. I don't remember the color of the phone cord in my sixth grade class, but I'm sure it wasn't formative to my career. It's fine to give some context, but do we really need this much?
To be fair, chapter 2 or 3 in an autobiography -- the "back to the beginning" chapter, is often like this. His is titled "A Hard Lesson". I theorize that most readers skim this chapter, and autobiographers know it so they load it up with digressions that the editor would excise anywhere else in the book.
On to the first paragraph of page 316 (in Lucida Handwriting Italic):
In a way it's similar to the first 3:16, in that it serves to set the stage for a conversation but adds a lot of detail. The conversation led to his joining Facebook. What's alarming is that it's on page 316 of 333, he's just meeting the guy who introduced him to Facebook. It seems the vast majority of the book is about his education & computer repair company.
Page 31, .6 of the way down: (in Krungthep):
This happens to be just a few paragraphs below chapter 3, paragraph 16. It leads to a long story about how he tried to copy the software from someone else's computer but it wouldn't fit on a disk and on on. I guess I never understood the fascination of Windows system administration.
Page 31*6 (=186), first para (in Copperplate Gothic):
This comes at the end of a section separated from the next by a little Harvard shield. It foreshadows the next section when he catches his economics teacher in an algebra mistake which he devotes nearly 2 pages to explaining. He criticizes (Harvard) professor Neugeboren for drawing poorly and making algebra mistakes on the blackboard. He writes to the dean, and they get a substitute teacher for the rest of the year. The rest of the chapter is about him negotiating for higher grades by arguing about ambiguous exam questions. Justice is served, he proclaims at the end.
Being at Harvard makes young men and women feel important. They often become important as a result. Feeling the importance of one's own life gives people the courage to attempt great things, with good consequences on average. But some go past "important" into "entitled". He seems to be fairly self-aware, so I assume he gains some perspective later in the book.
Here's my actual out-of-the-box experience with the iPad:
My iPad arrived Apr 3 morning as promised, a Saturday. Sadly I wasn't in the office yet, so I had only a UPS "we missed you" sticker to play with all weekend.
Monday when I went into the office I opened the box, but it only showed the "Please sync me with iTunes" screen. It was cool that when you turned the iPad the diagram swiveled, but I couldn't show it off much to my coworkers.
When I finally got it home to sync with my iTunes, it didn't recognize it (nothing showed up in the iTunes window). Since iTunes has been nagging me to upgrade from 9.0 to 9.1, I did it (which took 30 minutes, required several password entries and a reboot) and it worked.
I wasn't sure if I should restore my iPhone's configuration onto it, or set it up as a new device. I opted for new. It cranked away, downloading videos & apps for about 3 hours. I think the time was mostly generating small version of my 12000 photo collection.
The next day I got to play with it, and it was lots of fun. But it wasn't the usual Apple out-of-box experience. I'd like to get iPads for my kids, but I worry they'll have a lot of trouble setting it up.
"To prevent damage ... please remove the device from your pants pocket before sitting down"
-- HTC / Google Android phone packaging
- Make customers happy by exceeding their expectations.
- Collect honest data about why robots fail. Don't force customers to cover up the real reason for failure.
- Don't lose large amounts of money on outlier customers.
Despite Lilienthal's fate [died when his glider crashed], the brothers favored his strategy: to practice gliding in order to master the art of control before attempting motor-driven flight. The death of British aeronaut Percy Pilcher in another hang gliding crash in 1899 only reinforced their opinion that a reliable method of pilot control was the key to successful—and safe—flight. At the outset of their experiments they regarded control as the unsolved third part of "the flying problem". They believed sufficiently promising knowledge of the other two issues—wings and engines—already existed. The Wright brothers thus differed sharply from more experienced practitioners of the day, notably Ader, Maxim and Langley who built powerful engines, attached them to airframes equipped with unproven control devices, and expected to take to the air with no previous flying experience. Though agreeing with Lilienthal's idea of practice, the Wrights saw that his method of balance and control—shifting his body weight—was fatally inadequate. They were determined to find something better.
- Our new service will attract the following kinds of users: .....................
- They will use it for the following purposes: ..................
- Instead of a trusted brand, they will use a startup they've never heard of before because ......................
- Even though some of the value is social, we will be useful to the first users because ..........................
- Users will recommend us to their friends because ....................
- Big competitors won't be able to copy our features as soon as they notice us because ........................
- .................... will pay us $................... in return for ........................
- Once we get critical mass it'll be hard for new startups to steal our users because ..........................
YC: Why will users prefer you over Craigslist?Founders: We'll be more localized. Craigslist has listings from all over the city, but we'll just show you listings from your neighborhood.YC: Maybe Craigslist would be better if it were more localized, but until you're popular you'll have to be *less* localized in order to have any listings show up at all.Founders: So we won't turn on localization at first.YC: But then you won't be much different from Craigslist, and there's no reason for people to switch. Your special sauce only works after you're already successful. You need a way to get there.
YC: Why will users use your software instead of Quickbooks?Founders: Our software will be easier to use.YC: Are there a lot of people who find Quickbooks too hard?Founders: Yes.YC: But a lot of people already know Quickbooks, so it's easiest for them to not change.Founders: Sure, we won't take away their users. We'll get new users.YC: How will new users find out about you?Founders: Their friends will tell them.YC: Do people tell their friends, "Say, I just found this really easy new accounting system!"Founders: No, but when people start a business they'll ask their friends what they should use.YC: But they're going to ask their friend who knows the most about accounting. Won't that person be a Quickbooks user? Won't they recommend what they know?
From FailBlog, under the title "Business Plan Fail":
Yes, it's kind of funny. But it might be the right thing for the neighborhood.I spent some time in a small town far from anywhere, which had 3 retail establishments. 1 department store, 1 restaurant + laundromat + video rental store, and 1 fishing/hunting store + gas station. It was an efficient solution for providing essential retail services. Out of the 1000 people in the town, less than 20 were devoted to retail. That's 2% of the population, or maybe 5% of the local labor force. I know the modern trend is towards highly branded, tightly focused businesses. But would this town be better off with a standalone beauty salon, specialty chain saw dealer, and an Applebee's? Sounds like a lot of wasted retail labor for a doubtful increase in quality.