The difference between great products and perfect ones

Lately, I’ve been enamored with this idea of the last 2%. It’s very simple. Suppose we say that if a given product is designed to address a certain problem, a consumer will not feel fully satisfied until the task is 100% complete. The idea here is that the last 2% of completing the problem is as important to the consumer’s happiness as the entire previous 98%. It’s the difference between the consumer saying “eh, this is pretty good” and “this is perfect.” Let’s dive in.

If you hand a consumer your product, you will probably never see them immediately say…

Last week, Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro went on sale in stores around the world. Its signature selling point: a distinctive triple-lens camera system and an impressive software suite to accompany it. New advancements in computational photography leverage machine learning to perform semantic rendering of compositional elements, algorithmically recombine rapid photo bursts in low light, and automatically identify and blur out backgrounds for portraits. Wow!

Apple tells us that, if we shell out for this thousand-dollar phone, we’ll finally be able to take great photos. But do we really need such an incredible camera to impress our followers on Instagram?

The iPhone 11 Pro Max Super Duper Ultra Plus.

What is photography for?


Today, I graduate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Today, I graduate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Like most people, I was given lots of advice about how to make the best of these years. Let’s see if I made the grade.

RPI was never a place I wanted to go to so much as a place that I ended up at. Even before enrolling, I knew it wasn’t quite right for me. But regardless of my apprehensions, I resolved to make the best of it, taking up the motto: ‘I might not love RPI, but I’m still going to love college’.

I entered my freshman year with guns blazing…

Technological solutions for ending or mitigating school shootings


Today, again, America grieves.

On Thursday, February 15, seventeen high school students and faculty members lost their lives in a horrific massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and at least a dozen more have been hospitalized for their injuries. In the wake of what is now the second deadliest school shooting in American history, self-proclaimed experts, pundits, Putinbots, and keyboard warriors have again erupted from the woodwork to trot out the same tired bromides about gun laws, mental health, and social support that we’ve all heard a thousand times before. We all know that these issues are…

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, by Caspar David Friedrich, 1818

On this day one score ago, I awakened from the abyss and was thrust headlong into this strange world. Long I have wandered and wondered, gathered knowledge and searched for answers. Who am I, and what am I doing here, and where am I going, and for what reason? I have bided the previous two decades in preparation; observing, questioning, learning, waiting for the day when I can finally take control of my own destiny. At long last, that day has arrived.

I will loosely divide the timeline of an ordinary human life into four floral periods; sprouting (0 to…

Team photo halfway through the event (courtesy Wesley Cash).

“My brain is open!” These are the famous words that Paul Erdős spoke to the world’s foremost mathematicians as he surprised them at their doorsteps. Erdős, one of the world’s most prolific mathematicians, published over 1,500 papers in his lifetime with more than 500 collaborators. Fundamentally, Erdős believed that mathematics was a social activity; after turning up on his colleagues’ doorsteps, he would help them with their work for a few days before departing to collaborate with someone else.

Erdős was not much different than many hackathon hackers today. Hackathons are intense, open-ended competitions where attendees (hackers) work in teams…

Adam Circle

I like solving problems that are both interesting and hard.

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