See Also: Between Letters

September 2nd, 2012  |  Published in Personal

I’ve stopped writing at Fire and Knowledge for now and moved over to Between Letters. Please check it out!

The iPhone Wasn’t The World’s Best Cell Phone

July 5th, 2012  |  Published in Quotes, Technology

[The iPhone wasn't the world's best cell phone.] It was the world’s best portable computer. Best not in the sense of being the most powerful, or the fastest, or the most-efficient to use. The thing couldn’t even do copy-and-paste. It was the best because it was always there, always on, always a button-push away. The disruption was not that we finally had a nice phone; it was that, for better or for worse, we would never again be without a computer or the Internet.

—John Gruber, “The iPhone and Disruption: Five Years In

Richard Stallman is weird. Seriously.

February 11th, 2012  |  Published in Humor and Satire  |  11 Comments

If you want to read something hilarious, read Richard Stallman’s travel/speaking arrangements manifesto — what a weirdo! Here are some highlights:

Above 72 fahrenheit (22 centigrade) I find sleeping quite difficult.
(If the air is dry, I can stand 23 degrees.) A little above that
temperature, a strong electric fan blowing on me enables me to sleep.
More than 3 degrees above that temperature, I need air conditioning to

If there is a substantial chance of indoor temperatures too hot for
me, please arrange _in advance_ for me to have what I need. [...]

I like cats if they are friendly, but they are not good for me; I am
somewhat allergic to them. This allergy makes my face itch and my
eyes water. So the bed, and the room I will usually be staying in,
need to be clean of cat hair. However, it is no problem if there is a
cat elsewhere in the house–I might even enjoy it if the cat is

Dogs that bark angrily and/or jump up on me frighten me, unless they
are small and cannot reach much above my knees. But if they only bark
or jump when we enter the house, I can cope, as long as you hold the
dog away from me at that time. Aside from that issue, I’m ok with

If you can find a host for me that has a friendly parrot, I will be
very very glad. If you can find someone who has a friendly parrot I
can visit with, that will be nice too.

DON’T buy a parrot figuring that it will be a fun surprise for me. To
acquire a parrot is a major decision: it is likely to outlive you. If
you don’t know how to treat the parrot, it could be emotionally
scarred and spend many decades feeling frightened and unhappy. If you
buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating
practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it.
Meeting that sad animal is not an agreeable surprise. [...]

If a hotel says “We have internet access for customers”, that is so
vague that it cannot be relied on. So please find out exactly what
they have and exactly what it will do. If they have an ethernet, do
they have a firewall? Does it permit SSH connections? What
parameters does the user need to specify in order to talk with it? [...]

For reasons of principle, I am unwilling to identify myself in order
to connect to the Internet. For instance, if a hotel gives a user
name and password to each room, I won’t use that system, since it
would identify me. [...]

It is nice of you to want to be kind to me, but please don’t offer
help all the time. In general I am used to managing life on my own;
when I need help, I am not shy about asking. So there is no need to
offer to help me. Moreover, being constantly offered help is actually
quite distracting and tiresome.

So please, unless I am in grave immediate danger, please don’t offer
help. The nicest thing you can do is help when I ask, and otherwise
not worry about how I am doing. Meanwhile, you can also ask me for
help when you need it.

One situation where I do not need help, let alone supervision, is in
crossing streets. I grew up in the middle of the world’s biggest
city, full of cars, and I have crossed streets without assistance even
in the chaotic traffic of Bangalore and Delhi. Please just leave me
alone when I cross streets. [...]

When you need to tell me about a problem in a plan, please do not
start with a long apology. That is unbearably boring, and unnecessary
– conveying useful information is helpful and good, and why apologize
for that? So please be practical and go straight to the point.

If I am typing on my computer and it is time to do something else,
please tell me. Don’t wait for me to “finish working” first, because
you would wait forever. I have to squeeze in answering mail at every
possible opportunity, which includes whenever I have to wait. I wait
by working. If instead of telling me there is no more need for me to
wait, you wait for me to stop waiting for you, we will both wait
forever — or until I figure out what’s happening. [...]

I do not eat breakfast. Please do not ask me any questions about
what I will do breakfast. Please just do not bring it up. [...]

Don’t ever try to decide what food I should eat without asking me. [...]

If you get a bottle of wine, I will taste it, and if I like the taste,
I will drink a little, perhaps a glass. [...]

Please do not ever mail me a file larger than 100k without asking me
first. I almost certainly do not want to receive it in that form.

“Next Year”

December 21st, 2011  |  Published in Quotes, Technology

In the PC era, “next year” was going to be the year of desktop Linux. In the post-PC era, “next year” is the year that Android isn’t crappy.


The great accomplishment of Jobs’ life

November 7th, 2011  |  Published in Art and Design, Business, Life, Quotes

The great accomplishment of Jobs’s life is how effectively he put his idiosyncrasies—his petulance, his narcissism, and his rudeness—in the service of perfection.

—Malcolm Gladwell, “The Tweaker

Live each day as if it was your last

October 8th, 2011  |  Published in Life, Quotes

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

—Steve Jobs, Address at Stanford University (2005)

Steve Jobs narrates The Crazy Ones

October 7th, 2011  |  Published in Business, Leadership, Life

Barack Obama on Steve Jobs

October 6th, 2011  |  Published in Business, Quotes

Steve was among the greatest of American innovators — brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it. By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike. Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.

—Barack Obama