I love the idea of USB-C: one port and one cable that can replace all other ports and cables. It sounds so simple, straightforward, and unified.
In practice, it’s not even close.
USB-C normally transfers data by the USB protocol, but it also supports Thunderbolt… sometimes. The 12-inch MacBook has a USB-C port, but it doesn’t support Thunderbolt at all. All other modern MacBook models support Thunderbolt over their USB-C ports… but if you have a 13-inch model, and it has a Touch Bar, then the right-side ports don’t have full Thunderbolt bandwidth.
If you bought a USB-C cable, it might support Thunderbolt, or it might not. There’s no way to tell by looking at it. There’s usually no way to tell whether a given USB-C device requires Thunderbolt, either — you just need to plug it in and see if it works.
Much of USB-C’s awesome capability comes from Thunderbolt and other Alternate Modes. But due to their potential bandwidth demands, computers can’t have very many USB-C ports, making it especially wasteful to lose one to a laptop’s own power cable. The severe port shortage, along with the need to connect to non-USB-C devices, inevitably leads many people to need annoying, inelegant, and expensive dongles and hubs.
While a wide variety of USB-C dongles are available, most use the same handful of unreliable, mediocre chips inside. Some USB-A dongles make Wi-Fi drop on MacBook Pros. Some USB-A devices don’t work properly when adapted to USB-C, or only work in certain ports. Some devices only work when plugged directly into a laptop’s precious few USB-C ports, rather than any hubs or dongles. And reliable HDMI output seems nearly impossible in practice.
Very few hubs exist to add more USB-C ports, so if you have more than a few peripherals, you can’t just replace all of their cables with USB-C versions. You’ll need a hub that provides multiple USB-A ports instead, and you’ll need to keep your USB-A cables for when you’re plugged into the hub — but also keep USB-C cables or dongles around for everything you might ever need to plug directly into the computer’s ports.
Hubs with additional USB-C ports might pass Thunderbolt through to them, but usually don’t. Sometimes, they add a USB-C port that can only be used for power passthrough. Many hubs with power passthrough have lower wattage limits than a 13-inch or 15-inch laptop needs.
Fortunately, USB-C is a great charging standard. Well, it’s more of a collection of standards. USB-C devices can charge via the slow old USB rates, but for higher-powered devices or faster charging, that’s not enough current.
Many Android phones support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge over USB-C, which is different — usually — from the official, better, newer USB-C Power Delivery (PD) standard. Apple products, some Android phones, and the Nintendo Switch use USB-C PD. Quick Charge devices don’t get any benefit — usually — from PD chargers, and vice versa.
Your charger, cable, and any standalone batteries you want to use all must support the same charging standard for it to work at full speed.
Some cables don’t support USB-C PD at all, and most don’t support laptop wattages. Apple’s cable supports USB-C PD charging at high wattages… unless you bought the earlier version that doesn’t. Most standalone batteries sold to date don’t support USB-C PD — there are only a handful on the market so far, and most of them can’t charge a laptop at full speed, unless it’s the 12-inch MacBook.
You can use USB-C PD to fast-charge an iPhone 8 or iPad Pro with a USB-C to Lightning cable. But it doesn’t work with every USB-PD battery or charger, or every USB-C to Lightning cable, or every iPad Pro.
And, of course, there’s usually no way to tell at a glance whether a given cable, charger, battery, or device supports USB-C PD or at what wattages.
It’s comforting to think that over time, this will all settle down and we’ll finally achieve the dream of a single cable and port for everything. But that’s not how technology really works.
Before today’s USB-C can become ubiquitous and homogeneous, the next protocol or port will come out. We’ll have new, faster USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4 standards over the same-looking USB-C ports. We’ll want to move to an even thinner USB-D port. The press will call it “the future” and Apple will celebrate its new laptops that only have a USB-D port — two, if we’re lucky.
And we’ll have to start over again, buying all new cables, dongles, hubs, chargers, batteries, and displays to adapt it to what we really need.
Maybe next time, we’ll get it right. But probably not.
The annual list of media errors and corrections by Poynter is always worth a read. Some favorites:
Because of an editing error, an article on Monday about a theological battle being fought by Muslim imams and scholars in the West against the Islamic State misstated the Snapchat handle used by Suhaib Webb, one of Muslim leaders speaking out. It is imamsuhaibwebb, not Pimpin4Paradise786.
No wonder people think the NY Times is untrustworthy. Another from the Times:
An article on March 20 about wave piloting in the Marshall Islands misstated the number of possible paths that could be navigated without instruments among the 34 islands and atolls of the Marshall Islands. It is 561, not a trillion trillion.
This one was only slightly wrong:
CORRECTION: Boris Johnson’s award-winning limerick about the Turkish president referred to Erdogan as a wanker who performed a sex act with a goat. A previous version of this article included the prompt for the poetry contest, which included a different sex act, also with a goat.
When in doubt, blame technology:
Tags: best of best of 2016 journalism lists
Correction at 9:58 a.m. on 3/09/2016: Due to an oversight involving a haphazardly-installed Chrome extension during the editing process, the name Donald Trump was erroneously replaced with the phrase “Someone With Tiny Hands” when this story originally published.
So there has been a bit of “what if humans were the weird ones?” going around tumblr at the moment and Earth Day got me thinking. Earth is a wonky place, the axis tilts, the orbit wobbles, and the ground spews molten rock for goodness sakes. What if what makes humans weird is just our capacity to survive? What if all the other life bearing planets are these mild, Mediterranean climates with no seasons, no tectonic plates, and no intense weather?
What if several species (including humans) land on a world and the humans are all “SCORE! Earth like world! Let’s get exploring before we get out competed!” And the planet starts offing the other aliens right and left, electric storms, hypothermia, tornadoes and the humans are just … there… counting seconds between flashes, having snowball fights, and just surviving.
To paraphrase one of my favorite bits of a ‘humans are awesome’ fiction megapost: “you don’t know you’re from a Death World until you leave it.” For a ton of reasons, I really like the idea of Earth being Space Australia.
Earth being Space Australia Words cannot express how much I love these posts
Alien: “I’m sorry, what did you just say your comfortable temperature range is?”
Human: “Honestly we can tolerate anywhere from -40 to 50 Celcius, but we prefer the 0 to 30 range.”
Alien: “……. I’m sorry, did you just list temperatures below freezing?”
Human: “Yeah, but most of us prefer to throw on scarves or jackets at those temperatures it can be a bit nippy.”
Other human: “Nah mate, I knew this guy in college who refused to wear anything past his knees and elbows until it was -20 at least.”
Human: “Heh. Yeah everybody knows someone like that.”
Alien: “……. And did you also say 50 Celcius? As in, half way to boiling?”
Human: “Eugh. Yes. It sucks, we sweat everywhere, and god help you if you touch a seatbelt buckle, but yes.”
Alien: “……. We’ve got like 50 uninhabitable planets we think you might enjoy.”
“You’re telling me that you have… settlements. On islands with active volcanism?”
“Well, yeah. I’m not about to tell Iceland and Hawaii how to live their lives. Actually, it’s kind of a tourist attraction.”
“What, the molten rock?”
“Well, yeah! It’s not every day you see a mountain spew out liquid rocks! The best one is Yellowstone, though. All these hot springs and geysers from the supervolcano–”
“You ACTIVELY SEEK OUT ACTIVE SUPERVOLCANOES?”
“Shit, man, we swim in the groundwater near them.”
Sounds like the “Damned” trilogy by Alan Dean Foster.
“And you say the poles of your world would get as low as negative one hundred with wind chill?”
“Yup, with blizzards you cant see through every other day just about.”
“Amazing! when did you manage to send drones that could survive such temperatures?”
“… well, actually…”
“…we kinda……. sent……….. people…..”
“no yeah I heard you I just- what? You sent… HUMANS… to a place one hundred degrees below freezing?”
“and they didn’t… die?”
“Well the first few did”
“PEOPLE DIED OF THE COLD AND YOUR SOLUTION WAS TO SEND MORE PEOPLE???!?!?!?”
My new favorite Humans are Weird quote
“PEOPLE DIED OF THE COLD AND YOUR SOLUTION WAS TO SEND MORE PEOPLE?”
aka The History of Russia
aka Arctic Exploration
aka The History of Alaska
‘But surely you have records of volcanic activity doing tremendous damage to human settlements.’
‘Yep. Pompeii is legendary. Entire cities went. Towns buried under lava, peoples’ brains boiled in the first rush of heat, loads more killed by falling pumice.’
‘ah, good, they learned their lesson and didn’t build there again.’
‘Are you seriously telling me this volcano is legendary for killing several urban conurbations and you built on top of it AGAIN?’
‘In our defence it hasn’t actually done it since.’
‘What about earthquake-prone areas? Tell me you’re at least vaguely sensible about those.’
‘Oh yeah. After the first major earthquake that flattens a city, we build them better.’
And then the aliens learn what it means to “facepalm” despite not having palms per se….
It’s that time of year again. After several weeks of over-indulgence, people are coming to their senses and realizing it’s time to make changes for the better. Some — like me — have decided to improve their relationships with food and exercise. They’ve resolved to eat well, drink less, and move more. Others have decided that 2017 is the year they’ll take charge of their finances.
If you are one of those determined to make this the year you become the boss of your own life (or if you’ve been on that path for a while and simply need a shot in the arm), here’s an overview of seven smart strategies to improve your financial position.
These aren’t just arbitrary suggestions. I’ve been reading and writing about money for more than a decade now. Based on my experience — and based on thousands of conversations with other people — these are seven specific strategies that work.
These seven strategies form the foundation of financial freedom. Do these things and you will master your money. Let’s look at each strategy in more detail.
Want more info? Check out my completely free Money Boss Manifesto, a 70-page guide to financial freedom. Or, if you want greater depth, consider purchasing my year-long Get Rich Slowly course.
Here’s the number-one strategy you can use to improve your financial situation: Manage your household finances as if you were managing a business. Choose to become the Chief Financial Officer of an imaginary business called You, Inc.
Whether you hope to escape the chains of debt, to save for a one-year sabbatical, or to retire within a decade, you can have the financial freedom you desire — if you’re willing to accept the role and responsibilities that arise with becoming CFO of your life.
All of the other strategies in this article are based on the idea that you’ve agreed to become CFO of You, Inc., that you’ve decided to become a money boss.
Your motto must be, “The buck stops here!” Don’t blame anyone or anything else for your financial situation, and don’t expect somebody else to rescue you. Your financial fate rests in your hands.
For more on this subject, check out my full article on why you should run your life like a business.
Managing your money takes work — lots of it — and if you’re not clear on why saving and investing are important, it’s easy to lose your way. Before you get down to the nuts and bolts of funding your financial future, it’s important to plan what that future will be.
Perhaps you want to get out of debt, to buy a house, or to save for your daughter’s college education. Maybe you want to build a nest egg so that you don’t have to worry so much about getting sick or losing your job. Or maybe you want to quit your job completely to start a new business or travel the world (or both).
Whatever the case, it’s important to be clear about your purpose so that you’ll remain motivated when times get tough, and so that you’ll be able to make better decisions as the CFO of You, Inc.
To begin, you need a personal mission statement.
Companies use mission statements to direct their business operations. So too, you should use a personal mission statement to help you make decisions about money (and everything else).
You get the idea. When you have a clearly-defined purpose, it’s much easier to make tough life decisions. It’s easier to set goals that match your mission. Your mission provides a purpose, and your goals reinforce that aim by keeping you focused on what’s important. They organize your actions and give them meaning.
How do you create a personal mission statement? There are all sorts of ways to go about it. If you want a polished tool, check out the online Mission Statement Builder from FranklinCovey. If you’d prefer a simple exercise you can do on your own time, I’ve created a free PDF you can download and print: Your Personal Mission Statement.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you create your mission statement. It only matters that you do it.
For more on this subject, check out my full article on how to craft a personal mission statement.
After a decade of talking to people about personal finance, I’ve seen that one of the biggest barriers to financial success is how little attention is given to the work. The folks who master their money are the folks who actually spend time working with it!
The authors of The Millionaire Next Door found that as well, noting that two-thirds of the millionaires they surveyed admitted to spending “a lot of time” planning their financial future. People who prioritize their finances have greater success; those who ignore the job often struggle.
This isn’t surprising, of course. Whenever you dedicate time and attention to something, you get better at it. Would you expect to be able to play “Stairway to Heaven” without practicing the guitar? Could you fly an airplane without long hours of instruction? To do something well, you’ve got to work at it — and that includes money management.
As CFO of You, Inc., you must allocate time to build your business.
I recommend that you make an appointment with yourself to take care of business — and keep it. Just as you’d make an appointment with a doctor or a mechanic, schedule a regular time to review your accounts and pay your bills. I recommend blocking out an hour on Saturday or Sunday morning. Keep the appointment every week. Treat it as a priority. (JD, Inc., for instance, currently handles its accounts on Saturday mornings.)
It’s also crucial that you develop daily habits and routines to make things easier. Spending a few minutes every day to record transactions, for example, can reduce the workload at your weekly appointment. Plus, this constant diligence helps you become more aware of how you’re handling your hard-earned dollars.
Once you’ve scheduled time to manage your money, you’ll want to carve out physical space for your financial life. You’ll need a place to capture incoming paperwork (bills, statements, invoices, and receipts), a place to do the work, and a place to store your archives. For a business to run smoothly, a good filing system is essential.
Keep this process simple, routine, and — where possible — automated. It’s best to follow the old adage, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” When everything has a place, organization becomes almost automatic. Because I know my wallet has a home by the front door, it’s easy to see when it’s missing. I know that bills live in the inbox, that bank statements live in the filing cabinet, and so on.
After you’ve set aside space and time to manage your money, it’s time to discover the magic of automation.
Sad but true: Most of us make choices that prioritize present happiness over future security. And sure, there has to be a balance. In most cases, however, we’re better off automating good behavior — saving, investing, paying bills, and so on — so that we do the right thing over and over without having to think about it. It’s a way of outsmarting our present-focused animal instincts.
There’s no one right way to automate your finances — each person’s financial infrastructure is different — but here are some common methods.
Real businesses pay their bills first before using what money remains to invest in their company. By automatically paying your bills and funding your investment accounts, you’re doing the same thing with You, Inc.: You’re automating good behavior.
After you’ve automated your financial infrastructure, you still have to pay attention.You need to be sure you have the funds to pay your bills, and you need to verify that those bills don’t contain any erroneous transactions.
Checking in at least once a month allows you to spot possible problems, both with your own habits and from outside sources. For instance, somebody once used my credit card info to subscribe to a porn site. Because I monitor my accounts, I was able to spot the fraud quickly and get it corrected.
Now that your financial infrastructure is in place, you’re ready to pump up your profits!
In order to survive and thrive, you need to earn a profit.
You already know profit is the lifeblood of every business. It’s like food and water for the human body. Although proper nutrition isn’t the purpose of life, we couldn’t exist without it. Food and water give us strength to do the stuff that matters most. So too, profit isn’t necessarily the purpose of business — but a company can’t survive without it.
Here’s a secret: People need profit too.
In personal finance, “profit” is typically called “savings”. That’s too bad. When people hear about savings, their eyes glaze over and their brains turn to mush. Bor-ing! But if you talk about profit instead, people get jazzed: “Of course, I want to earn a profit! Who wouldn’t?”
Profit is easy to calculate. It’s net income, the difference between what you earn and what you spend. You can compute your profit with this simple formula: PROFIT = INCOME – EXPENSES. So:
There are only two ways a business can boost profits, and there are only two ways you can boost personal profitability.
When you earn a profit, you don’t have to worry about how you’ll pay your bills. Profit lets you chip away at the chains of debt. Profit removes the wall of worry and grants you control of your life. Profit frees you to do work that you want instead of being trapped by a job you hate. When you make a profit, you truly become the boss of your own life.
With even a small surplus, the balance of power shifts in your favor.
For more on this subject, check out my article on why profit margin is the most important number in personal finance. You might also be interested on reading about the best ways to spend less and how to make more money.
Here’s the dark, dirty secret of personal finance: Smart money management is more about mindset than it is about math.
Financial success comes when you master the mental game of money. It’s not about understanding the numbers. The math of personal finance is simple: spend less than you earn and invest the difference. We all get it. Instead, it’s controlling your habits and emotions that’s difficult.
That’s why those who are successful with money have learned to master their emotions. They don’t buy on impulse, don’t sell their investments when the stock market crashes, and they don’t allow friends and family to persuade them to do dumb things with money.
When I was digging out of debt, I was frequently seduced by the siren song of books and comics. I knew it was dangerous for me to walk into a bookstore or comic shop, but I did so all the same. I spent a lot of money because I was foolish. (In 2006, I spent $692.96 on books and $3202.91 on comics. Yikes!)
As I began to act as a money boss, I discovered ways to resist temptation.
For instance, I found that if I didn’t enter bookstores or visit Amazon, I wouldn’t buy books. If I didn’t walk into a comic store, I wouldn’t buy comics. By refusing to even browse, I had pre-committed to doing the right thing. My spending on books and comics plummeted, and I began to repay my debt more quickly.
This experience taught me an important lesson about being proactive: The best way to resist temptation is to never be tempted. Obvious, I know, but it’s shocking how many people overspend simply because they expose themselves to the object of their desire.
Avoiding temptation is a great barrier to bad behavior, but there are plenty of other ways to practice being proactive.
All of this is easier said than done, of course. I know from personal experience. For the first 37 years of my life, I sucked with money — and all because I didn’t have control of my financial psychology. I turned things around by learning to become proactive. I learned what my bad habits were and developed methods to fight them — in advance.
For more on mastering the mindset of wealth, check out my article about how to use barriers and pre-commitment to automatically do the right thing.
Every time you make a choice, there’s a cost. By choosing to buy one item, you pass on the opportunity to purchase other items. By choosing to do one thing, you pass on the opportunity to spend your time in any other way. Opportunity cost is what we give up in order to have the thing we choose.
Imagine you’re the CFO of a delivery company. You have $10,000 to spend on new equipment. You could buy a new truck to add to the fleet, but then you wouldn’t be able to replace the ten-year-old computers in the main of office. Conversely, if you buy new computers, you won’t have as many trucks available to make deliveries. No matter which option you choose, there’s an opportunity cost.
While this concept is applied constantly in business, it’s often overlooked in personal finance. When You, Inc. uses money for one thing, that money is unavailable elsewhere. If you purchase a home with a $1500 mortgage, for instance, you can’t use that money to travel or to fund your retirement.
Opportunity costs are neither good nor bad. They’re simply the price you pay to have what you choose. The problem comes when the choices you make aren’t intentional — when you make them out of reflex or habit.
I endorse a concept called conscious spending, which I learned from Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Conscious spending means actively choosing to spend on some things and not on others.
Contrast this with how most people spend.
We buy things because we’re expected to. We spend to have what other people have. We sign up for gym memberships that we never use, subscribe to magazines we never read and pay for golf clubs that get buried in the garage. We make impulse purchases at the grocery store–or even on large items, like computers and cars. In other words, we often spend without thinking.
The opportunity costs of these unconscious purchases are significant. We’re sacrificing our futures for lesser pleasures today.
But with conscious spending, you evaluate every purchase, asking yourself:
Conscious spending forces you to become more aware of every purchase you make.
For a long time, I was willing to spend $200 each month on gym and fitness programs because doing so helped me to lose fifty pounds and become fit. I made an active, conscious decision to spend that money, and I made certain that I derived ng value from it. I recognized that I was sacrificing a great deal in the future, but I believed my improved health was a worthwhile reward.
On the other hand, I’m unwilling to own a new car. Financial considerations aside, I don’t care enough about features and flash to make such a purchase worthwhile. For somebody else, though, the car might be a worthwhile purchase and the gym membership a waste of money.
When you spend, be sure it’s aligned with your purpose and mission.
These methods, when applied patiently and persistently, can turn You, Inc. into a profitable enterprise. But there’s one final piece to the puzzle.
As I mentioned earlier, successful money management — whether on a business or personal level — is less about mechanics than it is about mindset. When a future CFO graduates from business school, she shares the same basic education as thousands of other MBA students. Each understands fundamental business and economic theory.
But it’s not the book knowledge that breeds success. Instead, it’s mental toughness. Successful CFOs exhibit this strength of mind through three distinct qualities:
Most of the people who read this article won’t adopt any of the strategies I’ve suggested, and their lives will continue as before. But a handful of people — and I hope you’re one of them — will read this piece, absorb its message, and make big changes to their lives. These dedicated souls will experience something amazing. After slashing overhead and boosting income, their cashflow will be greater than they could have imagined.
Remember, my friends: Your personal wealth is your real business; everything else just supports it.
The post Seven Money Strategies to Master in 2017 appeared first on Money Boss.
12 LESSONS from An Event Apart San Francisco – № 2: Eric Meyer was the 11th speaker at An Event Apart San Francisco, which ended Wednesday. His session, Compassionate Design, discussed the pain that can occur when our carefully crafted websites and applications, designed to create an ideal experience for idealized users, instead collide with messy human reality.
You can’t always predict who will use your products, or what emotional state they’ll be in when they do. A case in point: when Facebook’s “Your Year in Review” feature, designed by well-meaning people to help Facebook users celebrate their most important memories from the preceding twelve months, shoved a portrait of Eric’s recently deceased daughter Rebecca in his face, surrounded by dancing and partying clip-art characters who appeared to be celebrating her death.
Certainly, no one at Facebook intended to throw a hundred pound bag of salt into the open wound of a grieving parent. What happened, surely, was that no one sitting around the table when the feature was planned asked the question, what if one of our users just had the worst year of their lives?
If even one of the talented Facebook folks charged with creating the new feature had asked themselves “what’s the worst that can happen?”—if just one of them had realized that not everyone using Facebook felt like celebrating their year—they might have put in safeguards to prevent their algorithm from assuming that a Facebook user’s most visited (most “popular”) post of the year was also their happiest.
They might also have made the “year in review” feature an opt-in, with questions designed to protect those who had experienced recent tragedy. Facebook didn’t build in those protections, not because they don’t care, but because our approach to design is fundamentally flawed, in that we build our assumptions around idealized and average users and use cases, and neglect to ask ourselves and our teammates, “what if we’re wrong? How could our product hurt someone?”
Eric shared many examples from leading sites and services of unintended and sometimes horrifying instances of designs that hurt someone—from ads that accidentally commented sadistically on tragic news stories (because keyword exclusion is underrated and underused in online advertising); to magic keywords Flickr and Google added to their customers’ photos without asking, resulting in a man’s portrait being labeled “gorilla” and a concentration camp photo being tagged a jungle gym.
The problem, Eric explained, is that our systems have not been designed with people in mind. They’ve been designed with consumers in mind. Consumers are manageable fictions. But human life is inherently messy. To create sites and applications that work for everyone, including people who may be having the worst day of their lives at the time they encounter or product or service, we must always think about how our product could be used to hurt someone, and plan for the worst-case scenario whenever we design.
When we label a usage an “edge case,” we marginalize that user and choose not to care. Think “stress case,” instead, and design for that human.
Eric’s presentation included many techniques for bringing these new principles into our design workflows, and his book with Sara Wachter-Boettcher, Design for Real Life, goes into even greater detail on the matter. (It’s one of those rare and important books that defines how we should be looking at our design jobs today, and I would say that even if I weren’t the publisher.)
Tomorrow I’ll be back with another top takeaway from another AEA San Francisco 2016 speaker. The next AEA event, An Event Apart St. Louis, takes place January 30-February 1, 2017.
The post Identify “stress cases” and design with compassion: Eric Meyer appeared first on Zeldman on Web & Interaction Design.