Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The dichotomy of being a Leader

It has always perplexed me about what is THE X factor that makes one a good leader. Is it about the charisma of the person itself...is it about his or her ability to lead and provide that leadership towards a better eventuality, or perhaps is it about being able to have the vision and necessary wherewithal to push ahead with decisions, whatever or however hard a bitter pill it might take to swallow, and living and breathing later on to tell its tale? Well, seriously I don't really know, because I don't think I have an answer. But what I do know about myself, and my role as a leader is to be able to at least have the ability to envision what I want the organisation that I am leading to be heading towards, and to provide that support, and perhaps even be the first one to roll-up my sleeves and 'dirty' my hands to ensure that the ship will stay its course, and be able to reach its destination. And I do think that I am one of the most objective person around, or at least I think I am one of the most objective people that I know. And I am glad to be able to objectively state that my style of leadership has never been about being the most popular guy around, because that is not part of my agenda! And in fact I don't think my conscience will be clear if I adopted that approach, because it is simply not in my mental or metaphysical nature, to be wanting to take the lead in any leadership popularity poll of sorts. But it does saddens me that claims and counterclaims that have no basis seems to be the order of the day at times, but then again, do I give a hoot to them? Seriously I don't, but I guess this is just part and parcel of being a leader, and hopefully I can be a good one, and NOT a popular one!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The 10 commandments of good design

This is an interesting take on what makes a design good. The 10 commandments of Good Design, by Dieter Rams:

1) Good design is INNOVATIVE: It does not copy existing product forms, nor does it produce any kind of novelty for the sake of it. The essence of innovation must be clearly seen in all functions of a product. The possibilities in this respect are by no means exhausted. Technological development keeps offering new chances for innovative solutions.

2) Good design make a product USEFUL: A product is bought in order to be used. It must serve a defined purpose – in both primary and additional functions. The most important task of design is to optimise the utility of a product.

3) Good design is aesthetic: The aesthetic quality of a product – and the fascination it inspires – is an integral part of its utility. Without doubt, it is uncomfortable and tiring to have to put up with products that are confusing, that get on your nerves, that you are unable to relate to. However, it has always been a hard task to argue about aesthetic quality, for two reasons.

Firstly, it is difficult to talk about anything visual, since words have a different meaning for different people.

Secondly, aesthetic quality deals with details, subtle shades, harmony and the equilibrium of a whole variety of visual elements. A good eye is required, schooled by years and years of experience, in order to be able to draw the right conclusion.

4) Good design helps a product to be UNDERSTOOD: It clarifies the structure of the product. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory and saves you the long, tedious perusal of the operating manual.

5) Good design is UNOBTRUSIVE: Products that satisfy this criterion are tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained leaving room for the user’s self-expression.

6) Good design is HONEST: An honestly-designed product must not claim features – more innovative, more efficient, of higher value – it does not have. It must not influence or manipulate buyers and users.

7) Good design is DURABLE: It is nothing trendy that might be out-of-date tomorrow. This is one of the major differences between well-designed products and trivial objects for a waste-producing society. Waste must no longer be tolerated.

8) Good design is THOROUGH to the last detail: Thoroughness and accuracy of design are synonymous with the product and its functions, as seen through the eyes of the user.

9) Good design is CONCERNED with the ENVIRONMENT: Design must contribute towards a stable environment and a sensible use of raw materials. This means considering not only actual pollution, but also the visual pollution and destruction of our environment.

10) Good design is as LITTLE design as possible: Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Taken from http://www.vitsoe.com/en/gb/about/gooddesign

Friday, March 13, 2009

DropBox: Cool Web 2.0 wares

Just like to introduce one nifty tool that i have just discovered a few days ago called Dropbox. Basically a program with a very small footprint that allows you to store your files online. Now I have been using humyo.com for a while now, and i do find the former much better. Plus the latter have been slow to provide a stable platform for Mac users like me. Dropbox is suitable for Mac, Windows and even Linux users! What can I say....uber cooool! The best part about using this tool is that your 'DropBox' will be a folder on your desktop (my preference) or anywhere that you would want to access within your system, and you can just drag and drop files into this folder, and it will then automatically synchronize the online and local versions of this folder/s! Here are some screenshots from my system:

Notice the status indicator on the menu bar of my Mac system.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish...

One of the most inspiring speeches that I've ever heard, from the man himself. I like the fact that when things happen, it is always for a reason, in fact that is the reason I always give to myself when shit happens, or when Murphy's Law kicks in! Cos you never know what can turn out next. If you have 11 minutes to spare, do take a listen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Touch-Screen Technology - looking into the crystal ball

I just came across this clip at core77.com, and these are really the epitome of what touch-screen technology can be, and ought to be. I can't begin to imagine what such a technology can do to the education system here, but what I do know is that if these are going to be a taste of the future of what Microsoft Labs have to offer, then I believe it is definitely a future that I'll be waiting for in bated breath. I do wonder too, if MS is that good, I guess Apple would be able to match it too right, or be even better! ;)

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5&showPlaylist=true&from=shared" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Repair Manifesto

I think it is especially during this economic times that product designers should be looking at making products that are not only affordable, but also 'repairable'. Because it is interesting to note that as the pace of technological developments quickens, the consumers can't help but feel the pressure of replacing their outdated products more often out of a sheer need for being up-to-date, rather than out of necessity. I was thinking that perhaps there should be a movement of sorts, or even a branch of engineering, or science, or even a derivative of one of them, that dwells into the creation of 'a more repairable' product. It would be interesting to note how such a branch of study will be motivation enough for mankind to look at alternatives of how to best use the already limited resources that they have, and are provided for! Perhaps it is high time too that technological development, especially in the areas of product development, should be looking at some of the ideas that I have shared way earlier during one of my earlier posts, the idea that perhaps we could future-proof some of the products too, perhaps designing a design or a product, or parts of it, that would be able to last a few generations of that product itself, or perhaps having a label of sorts, that labels a product as being made from 'recyclable' material, but this time round, not in the usual sense of the word of recycling, but more so that the current design and make up of the product being designed and made up of parts from the design of the previous iteration/generation of the product family! That would be interesting, wouldn't it?

Which brings me to this idea of the Repair Manifesto, that I took up from core77.com site. It is really an interesting idea!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Land of the Failing iPhone

Thanks to marketing hype, and the perpetuating marketing hyperdrive that seems to up the 'coolness' ante, the iPhone has grown to be the 3rd largest selling handphone set in the world. But it seriously fails in the land of the rising sun, where surprisingly, the iPhone is somewhat of a product failure! Wired writes an interesting article on why this is so (Taken from here):

Why the Japanese Hate the iPhone
By Brian X. Chen

Apple's iPhone has wowed most of the globe — but not Japan, where the handset is selling so poorly it's being offered for free.

What's wrong with the iPhone, from a Japanese perspective? Almost everything: the high monthly data plans that go with it, its paucity of features, the low-quality camera, the unfashionable design and the fact that it's not Japanese.

In an effort to boost business, Japanese carrier SoftBank this week launched the "iPhone for Everybody" campaign, which gives away the 8-GB model of the iPhone 3G if customers agree to a two-year contract.

"The pricing has been completely out of whack with market reality," said Global Crown Research analyst Tero Kuittinen in regard to Apple's iPhone prices internationally. "I think they [Apple and its partners overseas] are in the process of adjusting to local conditions."

Apple's iPhone is inarguably popular elsewhere: CEO Steve Jobs announced in October that the handset drove Apple to becoming the third-largest mobile supplier in the world, after selling 10 million units in 2008. However, even before the iPhone 3G's July launch in Japan, analysts were predicting the handset would fail to crack the Japanese market. Japan has been historically hostile toward western brands — including Nokia and Motorola, whose attempts to grab Japanese customers were futile.

Besides cultural opposition, Japanese citizens possess high, complex standards when it comes to cellphones. The country is famous for being ahead of its time when it comes to technology, and the iPhone just doesn't cut it. For example, Japanese handset users are extremely into video and photos — and the iPhone has neither a video camera nor multimedia text messaging. And a highlight feature many in Japan enjoy on their handset is a TV tuner, according to Kuittinen.

What else bugs the Japanese about the iPhone? The pricing plans, Kuittinen said. Japan's carrier environment is very competitive, which equates to relatively low monthly rates for handsets. The iPhone's monthly plan starts at about $60, which is too high compared to competitors, Kuittinen added.

And then there's the matter of compartmentalization. A large portion of Japanese citizens live with only a cellphone as their computing device — not a personal computer, said Hideshi Hamaguchi, a concept creator and chief operating officer of LUNARR. And the problem with the iPhone is it depends on a computer for syncing media and running software updates via iTunes.

"iPhone penetration is very high among the Mac users, but it has a huge physical and mental hurdle to the majority who just get used to live with their cellphone, which does not require PC for many services," Hamaguchi said.

Cellphones are also more of a fashion accessory in Japan than in the United States, according to Daiji Hirata, chief financial officer of News2u Corporation and creator of Japan's first wireless LAN.

So that would suggest that in Japan, carrying around an iPhone — an outdated handset compared to Japanese cellphones — could make you look pretty lame.

Take for example Nobi Hayashi, a journalist and author of Steve Jobs: The Greatest Creative Director. His cellular weapon of choice when he spoke to Wired.com June 2008? A Panasonic P905i, a fancy cellphone that doubles as a 3-inch TV. It also features 3-G, GPS, a 5.1-megapixel camera and motion sensors for Wii-style games.

"When I show this to visitors from the U.S, they're amazed," Hayashi told Wired.com. "They think there's no way anybody would want an iPhone in Japan. But that's only because I'm setting it up for them so that they can see the cool features."

Kuittinen said he's predicting Apple's next iPhone will have better photo capabilities, which could increase its odds of success in Japan. However, he said the monthly rates must be lowered as well.

Otherwise, Apple might as well say sayonara to Japan.