Ben’s weblog

  1. ☛ Quote from Creativity, Inc.

    I just finished Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, one of the founders of Pixar. If you want to understand how Pixar works, it is of course a great book to read.

    The book also includes an extra chapter on Steve Jobs. When most people think of Steve Jobs, they think of Apple. Not quite as well known, though, is his involvement with Pixar. He helped co-found the company in 1986 when he bought it off of Lucasfilm. But Catmull also credits Pixar with helping Jobs grow as a person, and he credits Jobs with helping Pixar grow.

    In my favorite quote from this chapter, Catmull explains how Jobs was able to earn the respect of Pixar’s directors by critiquing their ideas rather than the source of their ideas:

    People often place too much significance on the source of an idea, accepting it (or not criticizing it) because it comes from Steve or a respected director. But Steve had no interest in that kind of affirmation. Countless times, I remember watching him toss ideas—pretty far-out ideas—into the air, just to see how they played. And if they didn’t play well, he would move on.

    Catmull was likely referring to Steve’s ideas for Pixar, but it applies just as well to his ideas for Apple.

    In the same vein, Jobs told Tim Cook not to ask, “What would Steve do?” after he died, but to “Just do what’s right.”

  2. George Silk took this photograph on October 13, 1960:

    Source: George Silk—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.
    Source: George Silk—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.

    He took it during game 7 of the 1960 World Series, the same day Bill Mazeroski hit a walk-off home run to defeat the Yankees and win the World Series for the Pirates.

    The photograph was taken from the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, which could be seen from Forbes Field:

    Source: The Brookline Connection.
    Source: The Brookline Connection.

    The Cathedral of Learning is still standing. Forbes Field is not; it was demolished in 1971.

  3. We liked the idea of this little agent following you around, trying to help you, and remember where you’ve been.
    Google social web engineer Joseph Smarr, in “How to Teach Google What a Story Is” by Alexis Madrigal.
  4. DeAngelis Donuts

    I’m living in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, this summer, and I like donuts. So I’m going to try out some of the nearby donut shops (and cafés and restaurants). Then I’ll let you know what I think of them.

    First up: DeAngelis Donuts.

    DeAngelis Donuts was founded in 1947 by Joseph DeAngelis. The first DeAngelis Donuts started in Beaver Falls, and the DeAngelis family eventually opened up two other stores—one in Chippewa and one in Rochester. The one in Rochester is the only one left.

    DeAngelis Donuts serves up a pretty standard donut in a small shop in Rochester. The donuts they serve are good, but not great, and overall, DeAngelis reminded me of a cross between a Krispy Kreme and a Dunkin’ Donuts.

    When I walked in, I was surprised to see a counter I could sit at to eat my donuts, like at a Waffle House or an old diner. I wasn’t in a rush, so I took a seat after ordering two plain, glazed donuts and one double chocolate. The waitress brought me my order right away and poured me a cup of coffee.

    DeAngelis Donuts

    Once I had my donuts, I noticed a large window in front of me that let me look into the machinery that makes the donuts. Unfortunately, the machine was not running. This was one of the things that reminded me of Krispy Kreme.

    The other thing was the plain, glazed donut. It was a light and fluffy donut, rather than a cake donut. This donut was quite good. It was similar to Krispy Kreme’s plain, glazed donut, but I think I liked DeAngelis’s more.

    The other donut—the double chocolate—was a cake donut, and this reminded me of Dunkin’ Donuts. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as Dunkin’ Donuts’s double chocolate. It was a bit stale, and the chocolate flavor wasn’t anything special.

    I also ordered coffee. I liked it, but didn’t think it was particularly good. That said, I still have trouble determining what makes a good cup of coffee.

    Overall, I liked DeAngelis Donuts. It wasn’t fancy, like a bunch of the donut places in Chicago, but that is fine with me, and their donuts are priced accordingly.

  5. ☛ I Left Facebook, And You Can Too

    Great take on the whole Facebook feelings study by Jessica Ferris.

    I especially liked this part, on alternatives to Facebook:

    I have been pretty happy on Twitter. I have been pretty happy with e-mails and snail mail and old-fashioned chat rooms with friends. Diaspora is a thing, though I don’t know if anyone is actually on it. I make art that requires people to be in the same room with one another to experience it, and being in the same room is a thing too. This is a meager start of a brainstorm.

    I think e-mail makes for a great social network.

  6. Soccer is popular because stupidity is popular.
    Jorge Luis Borges, as quoted in “Why Did Borges Hate Soccer?” for The New Republic by Shaj Mathew.
  7. ☛ Beyond ‘Screen Time:’ What Minecraft Teaches Kids

    I’ve never played Minecraft, but I’m very intrigued by it.

  8. ☛ Happy Friends

    I’m trying out one of Dave Winer’s latest projects, and so far I like it. In fact, I might prefer checking Twitter using Happy Friends rather than a traditional Twitter client.

    In a way, it’s like an RSS reader for Twitter. A person’s Twitter name is bolded when they have tweeted something new, and you can delete or archive tweets that you’ve looked at.

    I find it useful because there are a few people that I want to make sure I see all their tweets, while with most people I follow, I don’t particularly care if I happen to miss one of their tweets.

    Right now, it’s not at all intuitive to use, but now that I’ve been using it for a couple days, I think I’m getting the hang of it.

    UPDATE: Here’s a “Getting started” guide put together by Dave Winer and a good explainer of what Happy Friends is over at The Next Web by Roberto Baldwin.

  9. ☛ When A Tie Is A Win, We All Lose

    Keith Olbermann tells it like it is.

  10. ☛ Is the Beats logo also supposed to be a person wearing headphones in profile?

    Anyone know?

  11. ☛ One Year of Founders Online


    Have you explored Founders Online yet? 


    One Year of Founders Online

    This month we celebrate the one year anniversary of the launch of Founders Online – a tool for seamless searching across the papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. In the past year, the site has received over 400,000 visits.

    An example of the power of the site shows in its great search results. When I searched for “Cotton,” “Beverly,” and “Washington,” the results returned the exact document I had in mind – a diary entry by George Washington written in 1789 remarking on his visit to the cotton manufactury in my home town of Beverly, Massachusetts.

    Read the full post on the AOTUS blog.

    See what the founders were writing about 225 years ago, on June 18, 1789 →

    My senior thesis would have been much more difficult without Founders Online. Such a great resource.

  12. ☛ Apple’s Game

    Sean Herber takes a look at iOS 8 and speculates about what this could mean for an Apple TV. I’m intrigued and can’t wait to see what Apple comes up with.


  13. ☛ The World’s Ball

    The 1970 ball is the most iconic, but I think I like the 2006 ball the most.

  14. Anyone who doesn’t prefer a good bed in a warm room to lumpy pine boughs and a sleeping bag that feels like a plaster cast is either insane or an abysmal liar.

    John Steinbeck, on why “Camping Is For The Birds,” for Popular Science in May 1967.

    Completely agree. I’ve never understood why people prefer camping to hotels.

  15. ☛ Accidental Tech Podcast: Episode 68: Siracusa Waited Impatiently For This

    If you want to get a sense of how excited developers are about Apple’s announcements at WWDC, check out the latest episode of Accidental Tech Podcast.