Heinlein’s goals

In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.

Robert Heinlein

How to track podcast downloads on iTunes

It always annoyed me that you couldn’t get statistics on the number of podcast downloads in iTunes, especially if, like me, you host your mp3s on Dropbox. With the start of the second season of The Spirit of the Staircase just underway, I finally came up with a solution that scractched this itch.

This post assumes that you have a self-installed WordPress blog and know how to install and navigate to plugins. If you don’t, check out the Codex.

It uses a WordPress plugin called Redirection, which allows you to create quick 301 redirects like so:

Redirection

For The Spirit of the Staircase I created a fake download mp3 link which redirected to my real mp3 link. You can use this fake link and the podcast will download as normal, but with the advantage of getting statistics.

Statistics from Redirection

It seems obvious in retrospect, but hopefully this might help out one or two people who have the same problem. Whether it is healthy to be overly concerned with stats is another matter.

Busking

The recession has seen an exponential increase in the number of buskers on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, including — see below — pre-teen trio of boys playing the James Bond theme tune in the style of anti-folk and this charismatic accordionist:

busking
(more…)

Question Everything

Robert Hoekman Jr gained notoriety recently for his vituperative post about Whitney Hess. Whatever you think about that post, he followed it up with an excellent post encouraging the UX design community to Question Everything. Here are some choice cuts:

Apple didn’t make the page simple. They made it clear. Despite all the hype that we must make things dead simple, and dumb them down, simplicity is not the goal, clarity is.

[T]he best teams — the teams earning the most provable success most consistently — were teams that had no process. They had a bunch of tools, tricks, and techniques. They had generalists, and maybe a specialist or two. And on any given project, they hand-picked the tools they would use to solve the problem and they improvised.

For the good of your profession, your work, your clients, and most of all, your users:
1. Ask why. Ask for an explanation. A justification. Ask this over and over and over until there are no answers left to uncover.
2. Ask for evidence.
3. Ask if there’s a better way.

Question Everything by Robert Hoekman, Jr

Feedback Loops

A feedback loop involves four distinct stages. First comes the data: A behavior must be measured, captured, and stored. This is the evidence stage. Second, the information must be relayed to the individual, not in the raw-data form in which it was captured but in a context that makes it emotionally resonant. This is the relevance stage. But even compelling information is useless if we don’t know what to make of it, so we need a third stage: consequence. The information must illuminate one or more paths ahead. And finally, the fourth stage: action. There must be a clear moment when the individual can recalibrate a behavior, make a choice, and act. Then that action is measured, and the feedback loop can run once more, every action stimulating new behaviors that inch us closer to our goals.

Thomas Goetz, Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops