Tiny House Capsule

We enjoy watching Tiny House Hunters on HGTV, but this is even better!

The Ecocapsule is an awesome 88-feet of pod living

Haul it on a simple 4-wheel trailer and plunk it down. 

It has a solar roof and wind turbine that powers up its battery for up to 4 days.

Plus a rainwater filtration system feeds your faucets, toilet, and shower. 

There is a bed for 2 as well as a cooktop, work desk, and modest storage space. 

It’s minimalist living at it sleekest and best. 

Only $86K from Slovakia and you’re off the grid and living free.

Can’t you just see these while eggshells dotting the landscape?

When everything in the world goes to hell, these little pods could be providing sustainable living to survivors. 

All we need is some cool defense gadgets and this could work! 😉

Robot Man

Robot Man

Don’t know exactly what it is about this little robot guy, but I really liked it.

The simplicity of the body and limbs joined by the connector joints and the head as just a clear crown on the rest.

To me, it looked relatively realistic as how robots of the future might actually look.

Humanoid, but so sleek that they are us but in many ways a step up from our aging selves.

Perhaps, someday the brains of humans and the bodies of machines will really come together in a better alternative to ourselves.

Living (indefinitely) longer and even pain free in bodies that carry mind and soul into the future.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

More Than Just Legs

More Than Just Legs

This was a funny photo that I took of a sculpture of legs sitting in the arm chair–and it is supposed to represent minimalism.

No need to show the body, because the legs alone convey the message.

To me though, this reminds me of the opposite of minimalism, where instead of showy, sexy legs–these are covered fully and crossed respectfully–overall sitting upright and quite modestly.

It reminded me of beautiful Jewish concept called Tzniut, which refers to people dressing and acting modestly and in private.

There is no need to show it all–but rather, to be someone, it’s what you do, not what you look like and expose.

In this way, these legs are enough to convey the concept of modesty–of man or women–if you can just see the whole person and not just their sexuality. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Apple Store “Heaven”


The Apple Store is always packed with people–it’s like they are just camped out there, permanently.  

According to the Wall Street Journal (15 June 2011), the Apple stores are an unbelievable success story:
1) The 326 stores sold about $11.7 billion worth of merchandise in 2010, and have an estimated 26.9% profit margin–compared with about 1% margin for Best Buy before taxes. 
2) They led with sales per square foot of over $4,406–higher than Tiffany at $3,070,, Coach at $1,776, and Best Buy at $880
3) More people now visit Apple’s stores in a single quarter than the 60 million who visited Disney’s 4 biggest theme parks last year.
And people are not just “window shopping,” but people are actively engaged trying out, testing, experimenting with the latest Apple products sitting out on the display desks.
Of course, there are also lots of sales people in their bright red Apple shirts ready to help, answer questions, and even sell you something. 
Apple’s stated “sales” philosophy–“not to sell, but rather to help customer solve problems.”  
Thus, employees receive no sales commissions and have no sales quotas–that’s definitely pretty novel!  (The exception is that “employees must sell services packages with devices”–I’ve always been a little leery of those, thinking why do I need the service package if the product is supposedly such high quality to begin with?)
Apple focuses their team on customer service, and their 20007 training manual uses the APPLE acronym as follows:
A–“Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome”
P–“Probe politely to understand all the customer needs”
P--“Present a solution for the customer to take home today”
L–“Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns”
E–“End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return”
I sort of like it–no where does it say to sell, up-sell, cross-sell the customer, but rather it’s much more about services and solutions. 
At checkout, the salespeople can ring you up from where ever you happen to be in the store on iPod touches with credit card readers. 
And trouble shooting Apple products is done at the “Genius Bar”–something like the Geek Squad on steroids. This is where things start to get a little weird, since Apple only pays their geniuses something like $30 an hour, so but for the love of Apple, what are they doing there?
Overall though, I think the whole store experience is pretty ingenious: from “the clutter free look using natural materials like wood, glass, stone, and stainless steel” to the large image color displays of the products dotting the walls, the stores are inviting, hip, and you know when you walk out with a product, it’ll be plug and play, immediately functional, and extremely sleek to match. 
J.C. Penny made a brilliant move announcing the hiring of Ron Johnson as their new CEO, effective November–Ron is the brains behind the Apple store design.  If Ron can Apple-fy the Penny stores, wow wow wow, but that this is not a sure thing, since Apple products are cool and sort of sell themselves anyway–they just needed the right ambience.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Minimalism (short title intentional)


They question of the day—is less really more?

I don’t know a lot about art (except that I appreciate it when it’s good). But I remember often hearing subtle advice about leaving plenty of “white space”—i.e. don’t clutter up the work, because less is more.

Recently, I heard some manager at work say: “I don’t care what it looks like…just give me content, content, content.” Again, to me the theme was the same—as they say, keep it simple stupid (a.k.a. KISS).

It reminded me of what one of my high school teachers used to say about class assignments: Just give me the “meat and potatoes”.

Then, I read an interesting article in Wired (September 2009) about Craig Newmark and his company, Craigslist, which is the epitome of minimalism, when it comes to design, features, and functions.

“Besides offering nearly all of its features for free, it scorns advertising, refuses investments, ignores design, and does not innovate.”

Craigslist looks like no other website that I’ve ever seen on the Internet. It has no graphics. No pictures (unless it’s associated with a listing). Little real text. It’s basically just layers upon layers of links, until you get to a particular listing. The site seems to disregard all the accepted standards of website design, navigation, and functionality.

“Craigslist is one of the strangest monopolies in history, where customers are locked in by fees set at zero and where the ambiance of neglect is not a way to extract more profit but the expression of a world view.”

And what is Craig Newark’s world view?

Minimalism and simplicity.

And in the crazy world we live in today of hyper consumerism, accumulation of wealth, ever-increasing productivity, acceleration of communications, boosting of processing power, aggregation of data, and doing more with less—the simple and minimalistic approach of Craigslist is an oasis in a desert of often meaningless greed and gluttony.

Newmark says: “People are good and trustworthy and generally just concerned with getting through the day.”

Therefore, “All you have to do to serve them well is build a minimal infrastructure allowing them to get together and work things out for themselves. Any additional features are almost superfluous and could even be damaging.”

So how is Craigslist doing with such a simple approach—is it being overrun by the more aggressive web builders and entrepreneurs of our time?

Au contraire. “Craigslist get more traffic then either eBay or Amazon.com. eBay has more than 16,000 employees. Amazon has more than 20,000. Craigslist has 30.”

Moreover, according to their factsheet, Craigslist has more than 20 billion page views per month. And more than 50 million people use it in the U.S. alone.

Estimates are that Craigslist generates more than a $100 million in revenue and is worth billions.

While I can’t say that I am a big user myself, these are some pretty amazing stats for a site that is bare bones and maybe more than a little awkward.

The philosophy of Newmark is: why add the “bells and whistles” if the user doesn’t want or need it?

In a sense, Craig Newmark is one of the most user-centric enterprise architects of our time. He genuinely seeks to understand his customer needs and to serve them in a way that meets them in an almost primal fashion.

Newmark has architected Craigslist in a uniquely user-centric way, undeterred that it runs counter to almost all conventional website wisdom.

>Steve Jobs and Enterprise Architecture

>User-centric EA shares Steve Jobs (Apple’s) vision for aesthetics, simplicity and minimalism, and innovation.

On July 25, 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the new Apple cellphone famously does without the keypads that adorn its rivals. Instead, it offers a touch-sensing screen for making phone calls and tapping out emails. The resulting look is one of the sparest ever for Apple, a company known for minimalist gadgets. While many technology companies load their products up with buttons, Mr. Jobs treats them as blemishes that add complexity to electronics products and hinder their clean aesthetics…

With the iPhone, Mr. Jobs is making a similar gamble that users will quickly familiarize themselves with typing text and phone numbers on the device’s “virtual” keyboard — a set of “buttons” simulated by software rather than etched in plastic keys on the front of the device.

Like Steve Jobs’ aesthetic and innovative approach to the design of consumer products, user-centric EA shares these principles in the development of information products to meet users’ information needs. User-Centric EA is looking to provide useful and usable information products. To accomplish this, User-Centric EA designs information products so they are look good, are simple to understand, focus on transmitting meaningful information to decision makers, and are creative and interesting for users to use as a resource.

Steve Jobs’ product design brilliance is a model and an inspiration for information design and knowledge management.