Macrina Bakery + Cafe

Amazing, but marred by a nearly fatal flaw

The line out the door (which is nearly constant during business hours) is emblematic of two things. First, the pastries and breads are simply amazing. Secondly, the counter staff sucks. Well, sucks is a bit of an overstatement. Some of them can be outright rude, but some are hampered by the weird setup of their retail area. The pastries are in a display case and on shelves where there is only room for one person. This means that there are often two or three people standing behind the counter doing nothing, while one is filling the order of someone in line. This is sometimes really frustrating for you as a customer because this place tends to attract people who will just stand there gawking at the items for sale, unable to make up their minds even though they have been standing next to that same counter for 10 minutes waiting. On multiple occasions, I have stopped by the shop feeling lucky that there was only one or two people in line and still spent 15 minutes waiting to order my muffin because the person in front of me wanted to know the ingredients of each thing in the case and what each tasted like and then wanted to pay by check. This is why many coffee places now have two cash registers, so that people like me who just want a large drip don’t have to wait behind the person ordering 12 different, complicated, drinks for their entire office. Macrina probably won’t bother to make a change like this because they don’t have to. Their food is good enough that even I (who hates lines) will wait for it, but they would be even more amazing if they could solve their customer service issues.

Macrina Bakery in Seattle

When will this trend end?

yeah, ok, I’m getting old

It’s like a freakin uniform and I’m getting pretty fed up with it. Backwards baseball cap, flip flops, cargo shorts (or cut off cargo pants) and a stupid t-shirt. It is the uniform from the teens until the 20s and it is pissing me off. Forget the fact that it is impractical: I see it most in the city, where I live, where flip flops are the stupidest thing to wear as you step over broken glass. It is the fact that this uniform combines two of my least favorite stereotypes: flip-flops, which is straight out of the hippy surfer aesthetic; and the backwards baseball cap which was made cool by Chuck D and lame by Fred Durst and now is more frat guy than hip hop.

Today I saw a small crowd of these identically dressed automatons walking down the street, oblivious to how sad they looked.

Please lets move on to the next stupid fashion trend. This one is way over.

And before you think that it is only the young uniform that pisses me off… My second favorite lame uniform is the dockers and polo shirt combination that passes for casual wear on most of the people my age and older.

Sneaky Apple…

fishing for switchers…

The halo effect of the iPod is pushing Apple PC sales percentages even after the macintel announcement. Today Apple lowered prices on the mac Mini and on its iBook line. This was a very smart move: Apple is lowering prices on the prime switching machines (the low cost ones) as well as the machines that students use most as we enter August. This should help continue to drive sales.

But Steve, where is the love for the die-hards? When are you going to lower prices on Powerbooks? We’re not all waiting for MacIntels! I want a new Powerbook dammit!

Continuous partial attention

since Supernova, everyone is all excited about this: ho hum

I’m with Nick Carr on this one. Continuous Partial Attention is a hip way of talking about something that people have been calling attention to for decades. Remember the articles about multitasking when the Walkman or Cellphone came out? This is nothing new, but the 20-year cycle idea is kind of ridiculous. Also, the thought that we’re moving towards a new cycle where people don’t multitask is just a joke. “The next aphrodisiac is committed full-attention focus” is a statement that says nothing, but is designed to provoke argument. Since when was it not? How has partially paying attention to a person every been considered ok?

All evidence points to the contrary. People are multi-tasking more than ever. Gen Y are more adept at IM’ing while doing their homework and watching TV and talking on a cell phone than GenX (my generation) ever was. I don’t see anyone under 40 unplugging from their on-line social networks in a desire for more direct human connection. The on-line networks are moving more and more onto mobile devices so that you can spend that time in the presence of others while maintaining your virtual connections. I see that increasing rather than decreasing.

I guess the thing that kind of bugs me about the whole discussion is that the “inventor” of the continuous partial attention “idea” has only talked about it from behind a podium during keynote presentations. How ’bout writing an article or publishing a paper or starting a blog? You know… entering the world of debate: where you can defend your ideas?

A case study for the next Don Norman book: MSN Messenger 7.0

When product design forgets about real-life users

A co-worker of mine, told me something I hadn’t thought about around the feature in MSN messenger that lets people see what you are listening to now. It seems that Messenger will broadcast whatever it is that is playing in Windows Media player to all your IM buddies. ANYTHING that is playing. If you are watching a video that you would be embarrassed about and you have these feature on, well, you get the idea.

From a business perspective, I think that the feature itself is sheer genius. Why? Well, because when you do show what you are listening to, it adds links so that your IM Buddies can buy the music you are listening to over at MSN Music. It is amazing, it turns you into a walking billboard (well, IM’ing billboard) for MSN music under the guise of creating a better sense of Community. I want to consider it evil, but it is such a great idea, I just have to admire it.

I wonder if you are watching Porn if it will send people to the porn site…

Bill Gates wonders why students are turning away from CS

I’ll tell you why Bill…

It is your fault. Well, yours and Carly Fiorina and pretty much every other high tech CEO. You laid-off employees in secret and in public and you opened campuses in other countries and made promises to staff them with cheaper labor. You drove American software development wages down and crushed start-ups where the cool stuff is actually happening. You bring in H1-B indentured servants and pay them less than industry wages.

I am an alumni interviewer for the top CS program in the country. In the last few years, I have been asked more and more frequently if it is a good idea to major in CS given where the industry is going.

Honestly, I’d hate to be one of the kids graduating today with a degree in CS. The industry may rebound and wages may go higher for a little while, but the writing is on the wall. Today’s software developers are yesteryears machinists and assembly-line workers. Those were once solid middle class jobs with good incomes and now they are getting squeezed on all sides by companies who don’t give a damn about their employees and foreign workers who just want to make a decent wage.

I think that there will always be good CS jobs in America, but not as many as there used to be. The industry destroyed the image of the industry…

The funny thing is that while Bill is bemoaning the lack of qualified applicants to Microsoft, I have heard from friends in HR there that they are getting so many resumes that they can’t keep up. What is wrong with those resumes? Well, most of them are from people with industry experience, not college hires. You see, Microsoft prefers college hires (and H1-B visa holders) because they get paid less, work longer hours, don’t have families and are more likely to stick around in a job they don’t like (because they don’t know where else they can go). A 40 year old is not going to work five 80 hour weeks in a row because a Program Manager made a promise without consulting development. Or if that 40 year does work those hours, those will be his last five weeks at the company because he is either going to quit or die an early death.

Bill, you want more college students interested in studying Computer Science? How about making Microsoft a fun place to work again with good wages? How about not laying off employees in secret while doing massive hiring in China and India?

some references:
Gates: You just can’t get the staff (The Register)
Gates Puzzled Why More Students Don’t Choose Computer Science (KOMO News)
Gates stresses need for qualified help (The Seattle Times)
India calls for big increase in US IT visas

The Seattle Mid 90s Goth-Industrial Renaissance

In the last week, I’ve seen show posters for both Black Atmosphere and Skies Cries Mary. Both of these groups were the leaders of the Seattle goth/industrial scene when I first moved here in the mid 90s and both of them broke up a few years later.

It seems a bit early for a revival of this stuff. Maybe these guys are tired of the amazingly lame local band, Kuma ripping them off…

Posted: Mon – July 18, 2005 at 12:18 AM

Sorry Tim Robbins

Embedded/Live is boring

I’m one of the faithful liberals, but I found this document kinda boring and not very enjoyable. Elvis Mitchell thought that this was an interesting attempt to capture a stage play, but I think that “Uncle Vanya on 42nd Street” or “Looking For Richard” are much better.

Sorry Tim, maybe I needed to be there…

The Apartment Redux

well, bummer

We returned to the apartment this week, it was moderately full, but not as loud as last time and I wanted to check their cooking. One problem, we only had about an hour to eat. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem in a big restaurant. In a small place, that is also a bar and only has about 10 people dining, it should have been no problem at all. Except that after being seated immediately, we had to wait about 10 minutes to order (after we had put the menus down). Then we sipped our excellent martinis as we waited for our food and waited and waited. After about 20 minutes, the waitress stopped by our table and asked us “Did I take your order?” To which we replied “YES!” She’d forgotten to give it to the kitchen. We were then told that anything we ordered at that point would take another 20 minutes at least. We hadn’t even been brought bread at this point, by the way. We bid a fairwell and to their credit, they comp’d our martinis, but this is the second time I’ve tried to eat there and never actually received my food.

Last time I thought it was the kitchen, this time it was definitely the waitress.

Just avoid this place if you actually want to eat.