UXD Inspired Reads 2017.09.15

NASA's Cassini spacecraft burned up in Saturn's atmosphere on Friday, after 20 years in space. Pictured here: Saturn's Spring Equinox. Image: NASA.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft burned up in Saturn’s atmosphere on Friday, after 20 years in space. Pictured here: Saturn’s Spring Equinox. Image: NASA.

Hello All

Today marked an historic event in our search for life outside of Planet Earth in our solar system as the Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere. The pictures Cassini captured are breathtaking.

We follow these striking images this week with an exploration of the value of design, process, and paper. While our screens have replaced many things in our lives, the wealth of reading something on paper seems more valuable. Apple announced their new iPhone models, the 8 and the aggressively priced X. While I am not in a rush to replace mine (the headphone port is too valuable), the impressive edge-to-edge OLED screen on the iPhone X is something to see. Amazon has been working hard to make Alexa sound more human, but is that really what we want? Amazon’s open challenge to cities to provide incentives and tax breaks for their second headquarters says a lot about how businesses can blur the lines between ethics, business, and politics. Speaking of ethics, the data breach suffered by Equifax was staggeringly large. But their lack of a concerted response and efforts to profit from the breach are reprehensible. European automobile manufacturers are beginning to reveal their concerns, plans, and efforts to deal with the eventual outlaw of the internal combustion engine and the rise of electric vehicles. It is only a matter of time.

IDEO shared a compelling post about dealing with tough personalities at work, and in life. The author made a strong point by taking a look at the situation from the other person’s viewpoint. Echoes of Harper Lee’s quote, as said by Atticus Finch, rings quite true here: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Lastly we look at the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Harvey, and how the survivors are going to move forward. The damage has been extraordinarily brutal, and many people will face immense personal, environmental, and monetary challenges. A heartwarming story of one woman who sent a package of cups to a stranger who lost her prized sentimental ones to the hurricane. Acts of kindness in times like these say a lot about the strength and merits of compassion. Our final link is a video interview with famed furniture designer and woodworker Sam Maloof. His interview details his process, work, and life’s accomplishments. Well worth a viewing to see his team’s exceptional process and continuation of his legacy.

Have a nice weekend.

Mohit

1a. Cassini Vanishes Into Saturn, Its Mission Celebrated And Mourned
“The mission for Cassini, in orbit since 2004, stretched far beyond the original four-year plan to explore Saturn and its moons, sending back multitudes of striking photographs, solving some mysteries while upending prevailing notions about the solar system with completely unexpected discoveries.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/science/cassini-grand-finale-saturn.html

1b. Cassini’s Mission To Saturn In 100 Images
“NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will burn up in Saturn’s atmosphere on Friday, after 20 years in space.”
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/14/science/cassini-saturn-images.html

2. NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Ends Its Historic Exploration of Saturn
“This is the final chapter of an amazing mission, but it’s also a new beginning,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Cassini’s discovery of ocean worlds at Titan and Enceladus changed everything, shaking our views to the core about surprising places to search for potential life beyond Earth.”
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-cassini-spacecraft-ends-its-historic-exploration-of-saturn

3. Discover. Learn. Elevate.
“Introducing the best practices, stories, and insights from the world’s top design leaders. Loaded with in-depth books, podcasts, and more, DesignBetter.Co is your essential guide to building remarkable products and teams.”
https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-the-biggest-question-for-hurricane-surv/f-40f924c86d%2Fcnn.com

4. In The Age Of Screen Time, Is Paper Dead?
“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can,” researcher Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University told NPR’s Rachel Martin. “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”
https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-in-the-age-of-screen-time-is-paper-dead/f-ad0b2e6711%2Fnpr.org

5. Everything You Need To Know About The iPhone X’s Controversial Notch
“Given the iPhone X’s design was leaked months before it was unveiled, many people wondered how Apple would choose to approach the notch housing the device’s new TrueDepth front camera and facial recognition system.”
https://www.macrumors.com/2017/09/14/iphone-x-notch/

6. The Surprising Repercussions Of Making AI Assistants Sound Human
“To help rid Alexa of its cyborgian lilt, Amazon recently upgraded its speech synthesis markup language tags, which developers use to code more natural verbal patterns into Alexa’s skills, or apps. The new tags allow Alexa to do things like whisper, pause, bleep out expletives, and vary the speed, volume, emphasis, and pitch of its speech. This means Alexa and other digital assistants might soon sound less robotic and more human. But striking a balance between these two extremes remains a significant challenge for voice interaction designers, and raises important questions about what people really want from a virtual assistant.”
https://www.wired.com/2017/05/surprising-repercussions-making-ai-assistants-sound-human/

7. Dear Amazon, We Picked Your New Headquarters For You
“Amazon has set off a scrum among cities that are hoping to land the company’s second headquarters — with the winner getting the prize of a $5 billion investment and 50,000 new jobs over the next two decades. We’re offering to help, using Amazon’s own criteria to identify a winning city.”
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/09/upshot/where-should-amazon-new-headquarters-be.html

8. Equifax’s Instructions Are Confusing. Here’s What To Do Now
“So, yes, your worst suspicions are now confirmed. Equifax may actually make money on this breach. We would expect nothing less from the credit reporting industry, with which few of us would choose to do business but nearly everyone has to sooner or later.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/your-money/identity-theft/equifaxs-instructions-are-confusing-heres-what-to-do-now.html

9. Carmakers Face Electric Reality As Combustion Engine Outlook Dims
“European car bosses are beginning to address the realities of mass vehicle electrification, and its consequences for jobs and profit, their minds focused by government pledges to outlaw the combustion engine.”
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autoshow-frankfurt-electrics/carmakers-face-electric-reality-as-combustion-engine-outlook-dims-idUSKCN1BN00X

10. Are You Dealing With Assholes At Work?
“Moral of the story: Unfairly, perhaps, Madame took my failure to observe local protocol as a sign not of ignorance, but of deliberate defiance. I insulted her, and dammit if she wasn’t going to insult me right back… My answer is that both Barry and Madame were locked in a vicious circle of asshole poisoning, because each lacked the other’s perspective. But Barry, being the wise person he is, tackled the problem by thinking and acting like an anthropologist.”
https://www.ideo.com/blog/are-you-dealing-with-assholes-at-work

11. The Biggest Question For Hurricane Survivors Is ‘What Now?’
“Rebuilding is not a glamorous process, and it’s far from an easy one. Though hurricanes Irma and Harvey have passed, the road ahead for survivors will take years to traverse, with innumerable questions and challenges along the way. The only way to really know what this journey is like is to hear about it from others who have made it through a similar catastrophe.”
https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-the-biggest-question-for-hurricane-surv/f-40f924c86d%2Fcnn.com

12. A Stranger In Maryland, Touched By A Hurricane Story, Sends 3 Cups To Houston
“I suddenly felt a tinge of embarrassment. My 8-year-old son carried a box containing small, pretty things: three red-striped cups, fragile and ordinary kitchen-cabinet objects. In a place where everything was broken, what good was something so shiny and little and whole? The three cups were a gift for Ms. Hines, from a stranger in Maryland.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/reader-center/hurricane-harvey-teacups.html

13. Sam Maloof: Woodworking Genius| Art In Progress| Reserve Channel
“Sam Maloof helped found the studio furniture movement in America. Fifty years later his functional art still defines the highest standards. He has made pieces for Jimmy Carter, Ray Charles, and Ronald Reagan, just to name a few. Take a look inside his woodworking shop and learn about how a Sam Maloof chair is made.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oZSkD7WoJ4&t=1769