Breadth vs depth in entrepreneurship

During the most recent episode of Triangulation, a show on the TWiT network (http://twit.tv/tri), Nolan Bushnell recommends making a quick note of every startup idea that comes to mind. You continue fleshing these ideas out incrementally, but his emphasis seemed to be on continually adding to a long list of possibilities. He talked about how he has multiple projects going on at the same time.

In contrast, the well-know venture capitalist Fred Wilson celebrated the obsessive focus of an entrepreneur he backed in a recent blog post (http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/07/brewster.html): “that’s what we are always looking for, someone who just can’t sleep because they want to fix something that isn’t working in their world and have been trying for a long time to fix it.”

Two different perspectives. The common theme, though, is the need for intensity.

Maybe smartphones aren’t really making life better. They are bottomless sources of distraction. They get between you and the world.

Then again, how can I say what experience of life is best? It’s just different.

Definitely replaces a lot of paper.

Google Knowledge Graph vs Wolfram Alpha

The Verge’s review of Android Jelly Bean just alerted me to the fact that Wolfram Alpha has functionality similar to that of the new Google Knowledge Graph. I hadn’t thought of that, maybe because I’ve mostly used Wolfram Alpha for mathier endeavors.

"Benjamin Franklin" on Google (Knowledge Graph is off to the right)

"Benjamin Franklin" on Wolfram Alpha

My new roommate :) (Taken with Instagram)

My new roommate :) (Taken with Instagram)

OAuth spaghetti

Hamster eating spaghetti

I realized I have two Foursquare accounts, one I made the old-fashioned way and another from logging in with Facebook. I had Instagram on my phone connected to the former, but I want it connected to the latter. Alas, the Foursquare login screen inside the Instagram app has no “Login with Facebook” button. So I’ve got to figure out what my login credentials are for this Foursquare account I created with Facebook.

Jotting down some thoughts on Chrome for iPhone.

Another Google iOS app that has an icon with a black background?!

When the top bar hides in Safari, you’re left with just the bar at thebottom. Some mobile websites have designed around this by having astrip of UI at the top. In Chrome, the bar is at the top, making things look a little cluttered on these sites (for example, cnet.com).

The swipe-from-the-edge gesture to switch tabs is intriguing. Certainly, it is a little tedious switching between tabs in Safari. (Am I the only one who mistakenly double-taps the home bottom toswitch between tabs in Safari sometimes?) The animated transition between tabs is fast and slick, though somehow the pacing of it feels just a bit off compared to animations used for transitions elsewhere in iOS (like switching between tabs in Safari and between apps). The big problem with the tab-switching gesture, I think, is that it’s just a bit too tricky and conflicts too much with otheractions you might be trying to perform, like scrolling horizontally or swiping on web pages that use that gesture to move between tabs on the page (again, see cnet.com).

The value of having history and bookmarks synced with other instances of Chrome will vary from user to user. I don’t use bookmarks much. Having browser history shared across my devices would be pretty nice.

I like that it’s much more obvious in Chrome how you search within a page. In Safari, it’s another feature of the search box (in addition to web search), and after you type your query you have to scroll through auto-complete suggestions to get to the “On This Page” button. In Chrome, it’s a plainly labeled option in the dropdown menu.

Just as in desktop Chrome, Chrome for iPhone has a very consolidated UI. Everything is in one bar, as opposed to two bars in Safari. Safari frequently hides the top bar, though, at which point both browsers’ UIs occupy about the same amount of space on the screen. The cost is that accessing the top bar (which has the URL and search boxes in Safari) requires either a tap at the top of the screen or scrolling up to the top of the page. Then an additional tap is needed to make one of the boxes active. In Chrome, you’re always one tap away from entering a URL or search query.

I’m undecided about the unified search bar. On desktop, where any opportunity to use the keyboard rather than the mouse is appreciated, I prefer the unified search bar. On a touch screen, where tapping one large UI element instead of another is pretty easy compared to text input, I’m ambivalent. One box means I can’t tap the wrong one, but two boxes lets me quickly express part of my intent (either to search or to enter a URL). There’s less space on a small screen to show URL suggestions, search query auto-complete, and matches from browser history all intermingled. 

Finally, there is the non-gesture tab- switching interface. I think Chrome’s sliding cards are really neat. Being able to have more than 8 tabs sounds like a good idea, though I’ve rarely found that limitation onerous in Safari. The main benefit I see is moving through open tabs quickly.

Chrome for iPhone is interesting, but there isn’t a killer feature for me, especially since you can’t set it as the default web browser with which to open links from other apps. (Perhaps that will become an option in iOS 6.)

Didn’t realize you can take screenshots on iPhone in the midst of the app-switching animation.

Didn’t realize you can take screenshots on iPhone in the midst of the app-switching animation.

Whoa! The new Tumblr iPhone app looks awesome. Huge change from what it was before.

Whoa! The new Tumblr iPhone app looks awesome. Huge change from what it was before.