November 19, 2013

If I had a time machine

If I had a time machine and the only thing I could bring with me back in time is a piece of paper - no knowledge - this is what I would have written on the paper. The problem with writing these types of lists is: "The problem with the idea of 'learning from one's mistakes' is that most of what people call mistakes aren't mistakes" (Source). For example, I added a feature in the form of a trading simulator and then I removed it because it didn't fit the core idea. But was it a mistake to add it? It's difficult to say because I learned JavaScript when I developed it and wrote two articles about the problems I had while developing it. These two articles are now among the most popular articles on this blog with thousands of views.
  • Use Twitter to talk to everyone you can find - but don't follow spammers. You have to interact with your feed and if you follow spammers, the tweets from the real people will disappear. It may seem like you are "popular" if you follow spammers and they follow you back - but it's a waste of time. 
  • Focus on the basic idea and stop adding features - on the other hand, you may learn a lot by adding those features.
  • Test more ideas and write less code. It's not cheating to use a framework such as Bootstrap. If you develop a game - use someone else's engine. If you are successful, then you can develop your own framework/engine, but in the beginning it's better to focus on testing your idea as fast as possible.  
  • Blog more - and write articles you can learn something from and doesn't exist anywhere else. Try to share your knowledge.
  • Avoid ideas with the chicken and the egg problem.
  • Avoid ideas where your users can spam you.
  • Read fewer books. This is another difficult topic - is it a waste of time to read books?
  • Brainstorming and other creative methods are not helping you to come up with new ideas.
  • Avoid ads as a revenue model.   

November 18, 2013

The #blog100 challenge

The #blog100 challenge was initiated by the Swedish blogger Fredrik Wass. The challenge consists of writing 100 articles on your blog and you have to write at least one article each day. You can follow the hashtag #blog100 on Twitter to find like-minded bloggers who have also accepted the challenge.

But why do you have to blog so much - isn't blogging what we used to do several years ago before we used Twitter? But that's also part of the problem - we have begun to focus on shorter updates and forgotten about the articles we may actually learn something from. People are still using Google to find solutions to their problems - they are not searching for the solutions on Twitter. As we saw in an earlier article, How to market your company by sharing your knowledge, we learned that one way to market your company is to share your knowledge with your current and future customers. We should out-teach our competitors - not out-spend them. I believe it's much harder to teach on Twitter or Facebook compared with wring an article on your blog.

But coming up with good articles to write about is difficult. The solution to that problem is #blog100 because the theory is that you will come up with more ideas for articles if you force yourself to blog more. It will be difficult in the beginning, but much easier in the end. 

These are the original rules:
  • Write at least one article each day
  • The articles can be short and consist of only an embedded video from YouTube. But you should add some text to the video so your users can find the article through Google 

I believe you can also include major updates of old blog articles in the 100 articles. If you go through your blog, you may realize your language has improved or you have just embedded a video from YouTube without any text. Modify these articles to make them better. You should also take a piece of paper and mark 100 squares so you can easier track your progress - it will also make you more motivated since you really want to fill in those empty squares. 

I began this challenge in October and have now written 100 articles if you include this article. I don't know if it's important to blog during 100 days or write 100 articles? Anyway, here's what I've learned:
  • It's true that it was difficult in the beginning, but after about 50 articles, I realized it became easier and easier to find new ideas. You have to "transform" your mind to always hunt for new ideas to write articles about. After writing 100 articles, I still have a long list of ideas to articles I would like to write in the future. 
  • I realized my English language has improved since I wrote some old articles, so I've included major rewrites of old articles in my #blog100.
  • I've also seen that the number of retweets and favorite markings on Twitter has increased. After I wrote each article, I tweeted about it.
  • It takes some time before Google includes all articles in their search engine so I will update this article in a few weeks to see the final results. What can be seen today can be measured through Google Webmasters where you can measure how many people saw your blog in Google an how many clicked on it. The number of impressions per day has increased with 145 percent and the number of clicks per day has increased with 90 percent.

Update! Google has now indexed all pages, so now can we measure the final results by taking the average of the latest week and the average of the week before #blog100 began:
  • The number of clicks have increased by 123 percent
  • The number of impressions have increased by 107 percent

November 17, 2013

Why we shouldn't listen to experts on global warming

The local radio station had this morning a show where they discussed global warming and they always quoted these so-called "experts" to confirm their views that global warming is a real threat. The question is if we should really trust these experts and if they are really experts on global warming? 

According to the book Influence by Robert Cialdini, which is a classic book on the topic of human behavior, we humans follow experts. The book calls this "the influence of authority." We are trained from birth that obedience to proper authority is right and disobedience is wrong. Information from a recognized authority can provide us with a valuable shortcut for deciding how to act in a situation.

But we shouldn't always listen to experts and it may sometimes be dangerous to do so. For example: 
  • There are histories where a nurse, who assisted in an operation, has not spoken up to a doctor even though the nurse knew the doctor was doing something wrong.
  • It has been shown that if we stand at a zebra crossing and someone in a suit crosses the street, we follow him/her across the street. If someone who is not dressed in a suit crosses the street, we won't follow the person.
  • The hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management recruited experts in the form of Nobel Prize Winners, but the fund blew up after a few years because it turned out the experts were no true experts.

So to save us from this psychological fallacy, we have to say no to the influence of authority. We have to ask ourselves if an authority is truly an expert? But how do we do that? Someone who has studied this concept is Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He has written the book The Black Swan, and in the book, he tries to answer the question on how to assess if an expert is an expert.

According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know. There are professions where there are true experts, and others where there is no evidence of skills. Professions that deal with the future and base their studies on the non-repeatable past have an expert problem. According to the book The Black Swan, you should listen to experts with professions like: astronomers, test pilots, chess masters, physicists, accountants, and photo interpreters. But you shouldn't listen to experts with professions like: stockbrokers, court judges, personnel selectors, intelligence analysts, and financial forecasters. 

What you have to do is to first ask yourself if the expert you are listening to tries to predict the future by studying a non-repeatable past. Can you really predict the future of the stock market by studying the past behavior of the stock market? Is the stock market repeatable or non-repeatable? But as we saw with the nurse who listened to the doctor even though the nurse knew the doctor was wrong, you have to question the error rate of an expert's procedure - or rather the expert's confidence in the procedure.

If we return to the radio show and the experts on global warming. Should we listened to them? According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, we shouldn't listen to them because climate experts, like banking risk managers, have failed in the past in foreseeing long term damages. But not listening to climate experts is not the same as being a climate-change denier, or as Nassim Nicholas Taleb said:
"My position on the climate is to avoid releasing pollutants in the atmosphere, on the basis of ignorance, regardless of current expert opinion. This is an extension of my general idea that one does not need rationalization with the use of complicated models to the edict: "do not disturb a complex system" since we do not know the consequences."

November 15, 2013

Improve your posture

As both a biker and a computer user, I believe this exercise might be useful. Find a wall and do it two times each day!
  • Flap like a bird
  • Touch your ears
  • Climb a rope
(Save this post or video as a bookmark so you can remember it while slouching in front of the computer)

November 12, 2013

Why did Cuba survive peak oil and North Korea didn't?

(Note that North Korea is a closed country, so many of the numbers here are only estimates)

When discussing the fact that the world is running out of oil, one country that often appears in the discussion of what might happen is North Korea. While the average American consumes 3541 liters of oil per year, the average North Korean consumes only 31 liters of oil per year, and the neighboring country South Korea consumes 2607 liters of oil per year. 

The energy sector is one of the most serious bottlenecks in the North Korean economy. North Korea used to import oil from mainly the Soviet Union and China, but after the fall of the Soviet Union, the oil imports sank with 80 percent. Also the coal production peaked in the beginning of the 1990s and declined from 43 million tons to 18.6 million tons in 1998. The main reasons were mine flooding and outdated mining technology. As the North Koreans used coal for electricity generation, the decrease in coal production caused problems with industrial production and electricity generation. By 1996, road and freight transport were reduced to 40 percent of their 1990 levels, iron and steel production were reduced to 36 percent of 1990 levels, and cement was reduced to 32 percent.

North Korea's 4100 tanks, 2100 armored vehicles, 8500 artillery guns, and 5100 multiple launch rocket systems are dependent on oil. The supply chain behind this army is also dependent on oil - you need trucks to haul fuel, ammunition, and other supplies. And it's the military that's the prioritized consumer of oil in North Korea. Only after the military takes its needed fuel, other sectors can take theirs. While the total supply of diesel has dropped by 60 percent since the 1990s, the agricultural share of the diesel supply has dropped to 4 percent of the 1990 level. As a result, 80 percent of North Korea's farming equipment, such as tractors, is not used. More people and animals had to become farmers, so the food demand increased, but there was no supply to meet it. It's estimated that over 3 million people have died as a result.

North Korea has a tiny oil industry - they are only producing 118 barrels per day - so they have to import about 15 000 barrels of oil per day. It has been estimated that 80 percent of the oil is imported from China, but as the relationship with China worsened after the threat to launch nuclear missiles, North Korea has begun to talk with Iran. It has imported oil from Iran in the past, including a period before the economic crisis in North Korea became serious in the 1990s.

One country that experienced a similar crisis as North Korea did is Cuba. In the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union and after an increased blockade by US, Cuba couldn't import oil and entered a period known as the Special Period. Blackouts could last for sixteen hours a day, and water had to be roped with buckets to the top of the tallest buildings. As an act of desperation, they imported 1.2 million bicycles from China and 500 000 more were manufactured by the Cubans themselves. 

But the Cuban society adapted to these new conditions. It became more common to hitchhike, and government cars were required to pick up anyone who wanted a ride. The Cubans developed the Camel truck that could carry 300 people. In small towns, the Cubans used horses and mules for transportation. They ate less, and they walked and biked across the country, so the average Cuban lost 12 pounds [6 kg], thus the number of heart attacks, diabetes, and strokes decreased. 

The reason to why Cuba managed the crisis better than North Korea can be explained by:
  • Cuba has a warmer climate with a longer growing season
  • Cuba has a better ratio of population to arable land
  • Cuba has a large percentage of scientists, engineers and doctors in its population. Even before the crisis, Cuban scientists had begun exploring alternatives to fossil fuel-based agriculture
  • The Cuban government had social programs in place to support farmers and the population through the crisis and the transition into ecological agriculture
  • The military is less prioritized in Cuba. Cuba, with a population of 11 million, has an active military of 85 000 personnel. North Korea, with a population of 25 million, has an active military of 1 106 000 personnel

But the average Cuban is still consuming 922 liters of oil per year, which is much more than the average North Korean who consumed only 31 liters of oil per year.

Source: North Korean data, Economy of North Korea, The Asahi Shimbun, From the wilderness [1], From the wilderness [2]  The Engineer

November 11, 2013

Best Marketing and Selling Articles, Talks, Books, and Media

This is a roundup of the best marketing and selling articles, talks, books, and media. The resources are both internal and external - and it will be updated as I find more resources. 5 percent of a company is the idea, 15 percent is the product/service, and 80 percent is the selling and marketing. The number one reason companies fail is because they do not know how to sell and market. So this is really important.



All episodes of the Random Show with Kevin Rose and Tim Ferriss

Kevin Rose is the creator of and Tim Ferris is the author of the book series the 4-Hour x, where x is Workweek, Body, or Chef. They are friends and they meet randomly to film episodes of the Random Show, where they drink large amounts of beer and wine and they talk about things they've invested in, books they've read, and much more.

The Random Show appears on the Internet randomly, the length of each episode is random, and so is the numbering. To make it less random, I though it would be a good idea to collect them in one place. I've earlier collected them on this blog and summarized a few of them, so this articles should be considered as a front-page to the Random Show. You can actually find (almost?) all episodes on iTunes, but they are not summarized. 

If you like Kevin Rose, you should watch his other project called Foundation where he interviews entrepreneurs related to the technology industry, but you can also find a few other types of entrepreneurs.  

November 10, 2013

The rise and fall of the gas station

One common question recruiters ask prospective employees is how many gas stations there are in the United States. The number isn't important to the recruiter since he/she would like to know if the job seeker can come up with the number through reasoning. If you want to shine at the job interview, you should answer 121 446, which was the number of public US gas stations in 2012. The point of this article will not be the gas station, but what we can learn from the rise and fall of the gas station and if we can draw parallels so the number of electric charging station. 

As the global supply of oil decreases, as we saw in the article Oil since 1859, the world has to replace the cars powered by gasoline with cars powered by electricity. The best thing would be if we could begin to replace our cars before the supply of oil begin to decrease, as the Norwegians have begun to do. Their goal is to have is to have 100 000 electric cars in Norway within year 2020, which is the same year as many believe peak oil will happen. The problem is that many people are negative to electric cars and their main argument is that the number of electric charging stations is far fewer than the number of gas station and it will be difficult to build as many charging stations as we today have gasoline stations. To find out if this is true, we have to go back to the days when the first oil well was drilled.

The first oil well, drilled in 1859 in Titusville, US, had a depth of 66 feet [20 m]. From these first wells, the oil flowed and it became common to see large black pillars of oil shooting up from the ground when a drill struck oil. This new type oil from below the ground was originally used for lightning lamps. It was easy to find new wells, so the oil flooded the market. 

In 1900, 34 percent of the cars in New York, Boston and Chicago were powered by electric motors – the rest were powered by a steam or a combustion engine. Manufactured in the late 1800s, the first electric cars were quiet, smooth, clean, and could be charged in the home. In 1899, the torpedo shaped electric car, The Never Satisfied, was the first vehicle to reach a speed over 62 mph [100 km/h]. Those who witnessed the record thought they were going to die if they traveled so fast. While Henry Ford mass produced gasoline cars, his wife Clara Ford drove a 1914 Detroit Electric with a range of 80 miles [130 km] and a speed of 20 mph [32 km/h].

As the new oil flooded the market, the gasoline cars began to outnumber the electric in 1920. One reason was because they were easier to refuel – in most smaller towns in America, the gasoline car arrived before electricity. The gasoline car was also less expensive – the price of Ford's Model T was just one third of the price of an electric car.

The first public gas stations were called filling stations and they began to appear in 1907. They were the first real gas stations with an dispensing pump connected to an underground storage tank. Car owners had earlier purchased gasoline through shops that handled the gas as a side line to other business activities. By 1920, the filling station was often a small building with gas pumps in front. They offered supplies like tires, batteries, and oil, and simple services like lube jobs and tire patching. As the number of gasoline cars grew, so did the number of gas stations. In 1920, US had 15 000 gas stations and by 1930, US had over 100 000 gas stations.

In 1970, the number of gas stations in US had grown to 200 000. But then, in 1973, the world experienced a larger oil crisis. Several oil exporters from the Middle East limited the supply of oil because US supported Israel during the Yom Kippur war. The price of oil skyrocketed. Gas stations had to shut down because no oil was available, so people began to steal gasoline.

Gas station in 1973. Source: Business Insider

Bird's eye view of gas station in 1973. Source: Business Insider 

People began stealing gas. Source: Business Insider

After the crisis, the number of gas stations began to decrease, and the latest numbers show the same trend:

Number of gas stations and charging plugs in US 1995-2012. Source: AFDC 

The above chart also shows the number of charging plugs and stations in the US. Starting in 2011, electric charge equipment was counted by the plug rather than by the geographical location, so that's the reason to the increase in 2011 and 2012. But if we draw a parallel to the increase of gas stations, we could see that the number of gas stations grew from 0 to 15 000 in 13 years as the demand for them grew. 

The easiest way to charge an electric vehicle is to do so in the garage during the night. But everyone doesn't have a garage. So what we have is a chicken and the egg problem. People want to buy electric cars if they can charge them, but to build more charging stations, we need more electric cars. To overcome this problem without using taxpayers money, someone has to take the lead, and that someone today is Tesla Motors. They are building a network of charging stations despite the fact that they are only selling 20 000 electric cars each year.

Source: The Engineer, A Brief History of the Gasoline Service Station, The Engines of Our Ingenuity

November 9, 2013

Give your users feedback

When you ask your users to perform a task you should make it as easy as possible for them to do so by giving them real-time feedback. For example, users can submit links to Trejdify through a form that looks like this:

This is what the user sees when the user hasn't signed in. The user gets feedback in the form of the red sign that says the user has to sign in and the form is also "closed" so the user can't write anything or click the button by accident. If the user has signed in, the form looks like this:

The important part here is the preview link at the bottom that updates automatically as the user types in the name of the link and the url of the link. I added it after I realized that users submitted link with strange characters that turned into signs like �. To minimize the damage even more, I added to the Guidelines section that if "strange characters" appears, the user has to change them. Did it work? No it didn't. Users are still submitting links that include these strange characters! But I've hopefully minimized the damage. The other important part of the form is the upper-right corner that looks like this:

The maximum numbers of characters in the title is 150, so I added this feedback so the user knows exactly how many characters he/she can write. This is a problem I've had over at Hacker News, which is a site similar to Trejdify. I've often written a great title, submitted it, and got the feedback from Hacker News that the title was too long. The problem now is that I don't know how many characters I have without having to counting them one by one. So this little gray square with a number in it and a few lines of JavaScript really simplifies the process. This is an image of Hacker News's submit page without any feedback:


Electric cars and oil production in Norway

The neighboring countries Sweden and Norway was in a union between 1844 and 1905. They had the same King, foreign policies, and diplomatic representations. At the time of the peaceful dissolution of the union, few Swedes could imagine that they had given up a huge treasure chest.

40 years after the dissolution of the union, petroleum had become an important part of the global economy. Speculations that the North Sea, just outside of Norway, could include vast amounts of petroleum products began in the early 1960s. The first well was drilled during the summer of 1966, but it turned out to be empty - or dry in oil industry parlance. They drilled more wells until the first oil was found in a field called Ekofisk, and during the 1970s more oil fields were found. It was now the Swedes made a second mistake when numerous Swedish industrial companies denied to help develop these oil resources. Other companies began to help, and Norway would soon become one of the world's major exporters of oil and as a result, one of the world's wealthiest countries. This chart shows the oil production in comparison with the US oil production:

US and Norway oil production 1859-2012

The problem with the oil found in Norway is that only five major fields have been found since the search began in 1971. And since oil is an endless resource, the oil production from these five fields peaked in 2000 and have now begun to decline. We saw the same result when we investigated the oil production in US since 1859 and the peak can also be seen in the chart above. 

In another article, What will happen after peak oil?, we saw how the Americans had begun to buy electric cars. Also the Norwegians have begun to buy electric cars. Norway is the country with the most Tesla Motors Model S customers compared with the size of the population. The five million inhabitants ordered 1 000 of the 20 000 pre-ordered cars.

To motivate people to begin driving electric vehicles, the Norwegians established a number of incentives to increase the price of gasoline vehicles. "The benefits are too good," a Norwegian said. "You can take bus lanes, get free parking and it costs very little to refuel." These incentives has given a result: 
  • While three percent of all cars sold in Norway are electric, the same number in US is 0.1 percent. 
  • The current number of electric cars on the Norwegian roads today is 7 000, and the total amount of cars is 2.4 million. These numbers can be compared with the neighboring country Sweden where the incentives are less favorable. The Swedes have 4.4 million cars, but only 600 of those are electric. 
  • About 40 percent of those who own an electric car in Norway also own a gasoline car. 

The goal of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association is to have 100 000 electric cars in Norway within year 2020 – the same year as when several experts have estimated that the global oil production will begin to decline. According to the chart above, there's a long way to go if that promise is to be fulfilled. Notice that I don't know how the Norwegians are defining electric cars. According to, there's no option for hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius.

Total electric cars in Norway 2008-2012

Source: The Engineer, Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, Wikipedia

November 7, 2013

Oil since 1859

In an earlier article, How Europe almost ran out of timber and how it relates to peak oil, we talked about how the world will run out of oil. The reason is that oil is an is not an infinite resource since all oil available today was created millions of years ago. Now we are going to try to see if we can see any signs of peak oil today. To our help we will try to use as much data as possible. It was not an easy task to find all the data and it will also be problematic to use this data. The problem is that there's no definition of oil like there's a definition of gold. Oil can be of different qualities and the way oil is pumped up from the ground depends on several geological properties. But this is the data we have, so we will use it as best we can.

We begin with the long-term oil price. These prices originates from BP, and as we said before, it's not easy to find data from 1861. The most common ways to measure the price of oil today is to use either Brent or WTI, but they didn't use those definitions in 1861. So this data is divided as follows:
  • 1861-1944: US Average
  • 1945-1983: Arabian Light
  • 1984-2012: Brent

Oil Price 1861-2012

From the graph above we can clearly see signs of some sort of oil crisis since the price today is as high as it was during the energy crisis that took place in the 1970s. That crisis was caused by a combination of a lower oil production in the US, an oil embargo by OPEC because US supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War, and the Iranian Revolution in combination with the Iran/Iraq war that caused a breakdown of Iran's oil industry. 

It was tough in the beginning of the crisis, but after the crisis ended, you could see how the society had adapted to the new conditions. While US as a whole became 32 percent more oil-efficient in 1985 compared with before the crisis, vehicles became 50 percent more oil-efficient. To set an example, the former US President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the top of the White House. "A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken," Carter said. America chose the latter when the solar panels disappeared during President Ronald Reagan. The panels were not installed again until Barack Obama became the President.

What we need is a graph showing the global production of oil. According to those who believe in peak oil, the graph should look like this:

Peak Oil Curve. Source: Wikipedia
But it was difficult to find data from the beginning of the 20th century, I only found data from 1965-2012:

Global Oil Production 1965-2012

From the graph above we can't see a peak, only one side of a mountain. But this is not so strange since many have estimated that peak oil will happen around year 2020 - seven years from now. The current amount of oil available was estimated to 1 258 billion barrels. As the world consumed 87 million barrels per day in 2010, the remaining oil will last for about 40 years.

One of the causes to the energy crisis in the 1970s was that the US oil production begun to decline. What is easy to find is US oil production data from 1859. We should be able to see the now famous peak in that graph.

US oil production 1859-2012

We can clearly see from the graph that the US oil production began to decline in the 1970s, but we can also see that the production has begun to increase again. This is because of the higher oil price that made it profitable to use unconventional oil sources, such as fracking. But don't worry, these oil reserves are not endless, so that small change in the curve above will not last for long. The US oil consumption will last as long as US can import oil. The oil supply in the graph below is defined as production + imports - exports.

US oil supply 1910-2012

If you are interested in the data used here, leave a comment or send me a mail and I will upload it somewhere.

November 6, 2013

Learn how to sell and market your company with the help of Kevin Rose

Kevin Rose (@kevinrose - 1.4 million followers) is currently working as an investor at Google Ventures, but he's probably most famous for being the founder of the social news website Digg, or for throwing away a raccoon that had attacked his dog Toaster (video). Since he left Digg, the site has declined as describe in our earlier article called The rise and fall of Digg, and what we can learn from it. In this old talk, he explains how he Digg got 1 million users.

Lessons learned:
  1. Ego. You should ask yourself if you have a feature that increases the users self-worth or stokes their ego? Will the user get a reward if the user is contributing to the system? For example, Twitter has "number of followers" and Hacker News has the karma reward system that gives a user more advantages. Your users want to win this artificial competition - they want more followers. You can also use a leaderboard - you can find out who has most followers on Twitter.
  2. Simplicity. Stop adding more and more features. 2-3 is enough! Always ask yourself if you can simplify.
  3. Build & Release. Analyze what your users are doing - not what you think they are doing. Build more and talk less. Build - release - itereate - build - release - ...    
  4. Hack the press. In the beginning, invite only a limited number of blogger to your website. Your users have to sign in to watch all the different parts of your website. Talk to small bloggers - not the top bloggers since they will ignore you.
  5. Connect with your community. Digg started a popular online tv show called Diggnation where they each week covered the best content from Digg. Also talk with people on sites like Twitter.
  6. Advisors. Learn from the best.  
  7. Leverage your userbase to spread the word. Find out how you can sit in a bar while your users sell and market your website. Dropbox give you more space if you spread the word about Dropbox to your friends. 
  8. Does your product provide value for 3rd party sites? Facebook has the like button and Twitter has the tweet button. 3rd party sites want you to click on those buttons.
  9. Analyze your traffic. Use Google Analytics.
  10. The entire picture. Find the growth-loop: Users -> Quality -> Traffic -> Buttons -> Users -> ...  
  • He recommended the book Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk. 

Why you have to use online backup

I came up with the idea for this article while writing How to market your company by sharing your knowledge. The essence of that article was that you should share your knowledge, but the problem is that it's really difficult to find out what you know that someone else doesn't know. One thing I know is that it's really important to backup your computers information online. When I wrote a biography on Elon Musk, I saved it to four different locations:
  • The computer
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Gmail

This is knowledge I can share because everyone is obviously not aware of the importance of backup. A few years ago, someone here in Sweden got a bag stolen and lost a really important essay. Did the person backup the essay? Yes she did - the problem was that she stored the backup in the same bag that was stolen. Another more recent example is, I believe it was an architect, who got 4 years of work stolen after someone stole his laptop from his car. He didn't use any backup and will now spend 1 year to redo everything that's lost.

Even if the knowledge is obvious to you - everyone else may not be aware of it. So if you are not using an online backup, please begin to use it. The most common alternatives today are:
  • Dropbox - 2 GB free, but you can get more free space if you share their service
  • Google drive - 15 GB free
Of these two, I believe Dropbox is the best alternative, but since they are free, you can install both on your computer. It's really simple, just install, drag the files you want to store online to the specific folder, and the files will automatically be copied to an online account. 

How to market your company by sharing your knowledge

Jason Fried (@jasonfried) co-founded 37signals in 1999. The company is really famous within the tech world and they are behind the programming language Ruby on Rails and the popular blog Signal vs Noise.

Lessons learned:
  • If you purchase a new product, try to learn why you bought exactly that product
  • We tend to buy products from someone who taught us something - not just from big companies
  • Out-teach your competitors - not out-spend them
  • We tend to not give away our knowledge because we are afraid that someone will steal it and use it against us
  • Don't worry about your competitors - but be aware of them
  • PR firms are a waste of money and advertising is expensive and can be difficult depending on the company you have
  • If you teach, you will get an audience that will come back to you and spread the word about you to their friends
  • One article by Jason Fried too 15 minutes to write, but more than 800,000 people has read it. How expensive would it be to drag in 800,000 people with ads?

I watched this video a few years ago and I've tried to teach my knowledge through this blog. One thing I discovered is that it's actually quite difficult to know what your knowledge is. For example, why is the color on the top of this page gray and not red - can the answer become a article? According to the right side of this page, the most popular articles on this blog include 3 articles where I taught something no-one else has taught on the Internet (that's why they are popular): 
So that's almost 17,000 views I didn't pay one cent to get!

The psychological reason to why this is working is explained in the book Influence. The influence of authority says that we are trained from birth that obedience to proper authority is right and disobedience is wrong. Information from a recognized authority can provide us a valuable shortcut for deciding how to act in a situation, but it can also be dangerous.
  • A nurse may listen to a doctor even though the nurse know the doctor i wrong – what would make sense is irrelevant
  • You can hire an actor to play the role of a doctor speaking on behalf of the product. Or an actor who used to play a doctor in a TV-series
So if you share your knowledge, you will become an authority on the subject, and people will begin to follow you because we are trained to follow authorities

November 5, 2013

Why you should avoid or use infinite scrolling

If you have used Twitter, then you know what infinite scrolling is. When you look through your stream of tweets, new tweets will load automatically as you scroll down on your screen. More and more websites have begun to use infinite scrolling, the questions is if that's really a good thing? Large websites like Reddit, Amazon, and Google are not using infinite scrolling because infinite scrolling has several drawbacks.

You should use infinite scrolling!
  • It's faster and smoother, especially if you are using an iPad or smartphone. If you have pagination, you have to search for the "page 2" button, aim at it with you fat finger, and then look at the top of the page again as you scroll down to page 2's main content.
  • Old content seems more important. Research has shown that few users click on the "page 2" button because that content seems less relevant. For example, 94 percent are satisfied with the first 10 results at Google. If you have infinite scrolling, you will "fool" your users to look at more pages.

No, avoid infinite scrolling!
  • Probably one of the reasons to why Reddit and Google have avoided infinite scrolling is because they have ads on the top of their pages. These ads will be seen more often if the user has to click on the "page 2" button. But if you have ads in the stream, like Twitter have, the ads will be seen as often if you have infinite scrolling.
  • The problem with infinite scrolling is that it's impossible to reload the page if something happens. When I've searched through tweets, Twitter's database if often slow and I've often encountered an error message saying Twitter can't load more tweets. To load more tweets, I've to reload the page and begin scrolling from the top again.
  • You don't know how much content is available (this might be fixed if you add somewhere how much content is available).
  • Users see fewer items in the search results. In an experiment, users who used infinite scrolling saw 40 items, while users who didn't use infinite scrolling saw 80 items. In the same experiment, users who used infinite scrolling also clicked on fewer results and they also "liked" fewer items. In an e-store, the users who used infinite scrolling bought fewer items from the search results.   

Update! Here's a great example of how Google made a combination of infinite scrolling and pagination:

November 3, 2013

Trejdify design update

Trejdify has always been responsive (the content looks good on the phone, the tablet, and the traditional computer). But as the number of devices grow, it's difficult to know if it really looks good on all devices. If you have the resources, you can buy/borrow each new device and install all different browsers on each device. Your office will then look like this:

Source: Paul Olyslager

The alternative is to outsource the code that makes the website responsive to someone with resources. I've decided to use Bootstrap to make sure Trejdify looks good on all devices. I've earlier considered using someone else's code as "cheating," but have now changed my mind since Bootstrap is used by organizations like NASA. According to Wikipedia, Bootstrap was developed at Twitter as a framework to encourage consistency across internal tools. Before Bootstrap, various libraries were used for interface development, which led to inconsistencies and a high maintenance burden. In August 2011 Twitter released Bootstrap as open source, and can be downloaded here: Bootstrap. Make sure to download version 3. This is the result: