Zootopia Is My Happy Place

ZootopiaI don’t think I’ve had such a good time at the movies since Little Miss Sunshine. If you just want to smile—and laugh—and clap—and feel like dancing all over the theatre—don’t miss this. And don’t watch it at home (which you will want to do a thousand times) until you’ve had the full movie theatre experience.

As my wife and I were walking out, one of the ushers said, “This movie should be required viewing in America.” To which I said—with a completely straight face, “I can’t believe it only got 98% on Rotten Tomatoes”.

It’s a 100.

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The Offer Letter of Your Dreams from eShares

eshares-offer-letter-coverIronically, this post has nothing to do with my company going live with eShares online equity management service yesterday. The only connection is that it may be the reason (in some scary way I haven’t figure out yet) that this Medium story from eShares CEO Henry Ward appeared at the top of my Medium news feed later that day.

No matter—this post is about the most stunning offer letter you have ever seen. One that is sure to set a new standard across the startup industry.

I don’t want to spoil it for you by showing/telling more—it’s a quick read, so just click through and take a glance. You will immediately see why I recommended it.

I’m impressed by eShares as a cloud-based equity management tool so far (it’s not perfect—we’ve already caught and reported a few bugs—but it’s 1000x better than handing cap tables and stock certificates the old manual way). But now I’m even more impressed with eShares the company. Keep an eye on these guys.

 

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The Boys in the Boat and the O-Ring Theory of Development

boys-in-the-boatI can’t keep track of the number of times I’ve done a post just to point at one of Phil Windley’s posts. But there’s a good reason: Phil’s a highly discriminating thinker and writer who hits some nails right on the head.

This particular nail is Phil recommending a 20 minute video on the O-Ring Theory of Production. It’s one of those great explanations of something you may have intuitively sensed before—that great teams can produce results dramatically better than teams only slightly less capable—but now can understand with startling clarity.

As society and technology grows increasingly complex, the O-Ring Theory of Production has important implications. I certainly know it mirrors my own experience of technical teams.

As I read it, I had one more revelation of where it applies: eight-oar crew teams. For a spellbindingly good example, I can’t recommend The Boys in the Boat highly enough. Yes, I’m biased: it’s set in Seattle and features the 1936 University of Washington crew team. But it’s a universal story that is not just true but so superbly wrought than I predict it will make an award-winning film as well (hopefully soon—the Weinstein Company acquired the film rights in 2011).

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How to Specify the Email Address to Use in a Google Contacts Group

google-contacts-logoSo how many users do you think are on Gmail now? A quick Google search reveals roughly 500 million (that’s about 1/8th of all email users in the world right now).

So how many of them do you think use Google Contacts? Given that it’s Gmail’s default address book, I’d guess 90% plus.

So how many do you think use the contact groups feature? Given that it’s the easiest way to email the same group of contacts rather than typing their addresses over and over, I’m guessing at least 25%.

That means there’s a good chance that at least 100 million people have this simple problem: if a member of a contact group has more than one email address…how do you specify which email address(es) to use for that contact in that group???

It turns out this is a must-have feature of a contact group. I work in high tech, so maybe my contacts are an exception, but nearly 100% of them have more than one email address. And it’s very important for me to use the right email address in the right context, or else I run risk of at least sending the email to the wrong inbox and at worst sending my contact a signal that I’m an idiot and don’t respect his/her boundaries.

And what is exquisitely ironic is that almost nothing establishes context better than a contact group. A company board of directors contact group obviously should use a work email address. A book club contact group obviously should use a personal email address. Of course there are exceptions, but that’s the whole point: you must to be able to precisely control which email address to use for each contact group or you might as not use contact groups at all.

Which is exactly why I have NOT used contact groups with Google Contacts for the last five years. They just didn’t support that feature.

Or at least I could not for the life of me find it. I tried searching at least a half-dozen times.

I finally got frustrated enough again tonight to decide that Google MUST have fixed this by now. So I did another search for it. And by god, this time I actually found it. At the bottom of this three year long discussion of the problem on a Google product forum.

Look at the second-to-last entry. It reads:

Ed, they didn’t make it obvious, but it’s there.  Open a contact.  At the top, under the contact’s name, you should see a list of contact groups that the contact belongs to.  To the right of each group’s name, there should be a small triangle.  If you click that triangle, it will give you a list of email addresses for the contact, and allow you to check the address(es) that you want to belong to that particular group.  Make sure you click “Apply” when you’re done.

Here’s a picture to show you exactly how this works:

gmail-contacts-email-example

Now here’s the supreme irony. The entry was dated 2/3/11.

Unbelievable. The fix has been in place for over four years and I was never able to find it.

So how many of those 100 million Google Contacts group users do you think have been able to figure this out?

*******

Postscript: logging into my personal Gmail account tonight, I noticed they have a new UI for Contacts. And guess what? The group member email address selection feature is gone again.

What is Google thinking?

Posted in Addressing, Email, Google, Tips | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Ex Machina: One Very Fine Machine

ex-machina-posterAbout a third of the way into this movie I found myself thinking that film has become such a high art form, attracting so much talent the world over, that either we’re going to run out of ideas or our heads are going to explode.

This is the sharpest, tightest, most skillful sci-fi script in memory. And very expertly executed, like a hall of mirrors constructed by NASA.

Add to that performances that are uncanny in their intensity, and the result will live with you for a long, long time. Which was undoubtably writer/director Alex Garland’s goal here. Not just to get under your skin, but inside your mind. And maybe break it open.

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Brad Feld on How to Deal with Email After a Long Vacation

brad-feldMy Newsle service spotted this post by Brad Feld about his recommended approach to dealing with missed email: ignore it and re-engage with your email stream afresh upon your return. I completely agree; that’s was the same conclusion I came to after my summer vacation in 2013.

Brad ends his post by saying:

I’m always looking for other approaches to try on this, so totally game to hear if you have special magic ones.

This resonates with me because my focus right now is on how the XDI semantic data interchange protocol can give us a new form of messaging that we’ve never had before—something that gives us new and better ways of handling messages that either email or texting give us today.

Stay tuned.

Posted in Email, Messaging, XDI | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Whiplash is the Best Titled Film – and Possibly the Best Film – of 2014

Whiplash_posterWhen I wrote my review of The Imitation Game in January, I said it set the high-water mark for film in 2014. And, when viewed from the perspective of all aspects of filmcraft, it did.

But when I finally saw Whiplash the weekend before the Academy Awards, I found myself feeling like I’d just been shot out of a cannon.

Every adjective you see on the poster to the left is, in fact, an understatement. “He can’t possibly mean that”, you think. I mean every word of it. See it, and then ask yourself when is the last time you saw a movie that got your blood racing that fast.

It’s bloody genius. We will be seeing a LOT more from director Damien Chazelle.

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