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Part One: Interview w/ Jason Snell

Published 2/22/2016

In today's episode I have the pleasure of being joined by Jason Snell!

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone, welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode I interview the one and only Jason Snell. If you listen to a lot of podcasts, you've probably heard Jason's voice before. He is a podcaster, we'll talk a little bit more about what Jason does, because he is also a journalist and specifically has a focus on the Mac world products of Apple. We talk about kind of what that actually means in this episode. If you don't want to miss out on the second part of this interview, by the way, make sure you subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use. Today's episode is sponsored by Hyrd.com. If you are a designer or a developer and you are looking for a job and you don't know where to start, Hyrd is a great option for you. They're totally free to use. Hyrd is the primary feature that I want you to know about before we get into the interview with Jason. But later on in the show, I'll talk more about what Hyrd has to offer to Developer Tea. Listeners, specifically for you guys. I hope you enjoy the interview with Jason Snell. One of the challenges in covering Apple is I get a lot of it, especially when I was in Mac world, especially when I was also in charge overall of PC world. What is this question about? Mac world was always like, well, why don't you write about the fact that PCs do this thing better? Why don't you write about the fact that Android phones do this and the iPhone doesn't? I can't believe you aren't covering these things. What I would say is generally, not entirely, but for the most part, the places that I've worked, the niches that I have tried to carve out are making some assumptions about who the audience is. One of them is the audience is an audience whose enthusiastic and general about Apple's products. That's the audience that I'm serving. I actually just got an email, not five minutes before we started from somebody saying, you guys talked on your podcast, on upgrade, about Apple's financial results and why the stock price went down even though they had a record quarter. Why don't you talk about the global financial system and why capitalism is wrong? It's the same thing. It's not political podcast and the guy who wrote it said, I know this is not a political podcast. That's your answer. You answered your own question. We're going to approach this with some assumptions. There are places for pieces of work that are all about questioning assumptions. I think that even covering Apple, you don't do your audience benefit if you feel like there's really something that they should know about the other side. Macworld, we used to post links to stories about, stories, critical of Apple, stories about what the competition was doing because we felt it was always good to challenge our readers a little bit and say, you should be aware of what else is going on out there. That said, you don't spend every article saying, why do you even want to use an Apple product? We're going to, there are some givens here which is, look, these are people who are interested in Apple stuff. Let's just take that as a given and move on from there. That's one of the challenges because when you talk to somebody who is covering things from the perspective of the verge or recode or Buzzfeed or something like that, you may be in a position then or the New York Times, whatever it is, you have to back it up and talk in broad terms about when Apple offers this and Google offers this and let's get into the details of why you might want this and why you might want that. That is completely valid. I've written some articles like that, especially when I was writing a bunch of stuff for Tech Hive, but the fact is I enjoy writing to this audience that I've been writing to for 20 years and kind of letting that stuff kind of push to the side. It's like, look, we're all Apple users here, right? In general, it doesn't mean that Apple won't make products that we don't like. It doesn't mean that there aren't things that are times where we're going to get mad at Apple, but we're all pretty much kind of in. Unless there's something really bad, this is, we're comfortable in this space. Let's just assume that and now let's talk. And that's sort of my approach for this. I appreciate that particularly, you know, a little known fact about me, I actually started to agree in journalism. I quickly moved on to just general communications, but and I think I had a focus in advertising, I honestly don't remember at this point, but I started in journalism and we had this discussion about the pyramid, right? I can't remember exactly the name of it, but basically the idea was that you started the top of a pyramid in a given news article or in a given podcast or whatever, right? And you give the most important details at the top of that very small part of that pyramid, the very first word, for example, of your headline, that may be the tip of that pyramid. And then you fill in the details as you move towards the bottom of the pyramid. Now what a lot of people think incorrectly is that that pyramid is the size of the universe, right? Like that the bottom of the pyramid is every detail about everything going back to the beginning of the universe. But that's not true, right? We have to cut the pyramids down the size because we only have so many words. We only have so much time on a podcast to be able to talk about a subject. So the reason you don't talk about the politics of finance isn't because it's not necessarily applicable in my opinion, but rather it's a bigger part of this massive pyramid that you honestly are not covering right now. Yeah, yeah, it's, I don't know how to respond to that. That is everything you do, you have to make, you have to make some choices, right? It's all about making choices. And what you do is as much about what you don't do as it is about what you do. It's not more so. Yeah, I mean, that's, but that's true. I mean, we're talking about development too. It's the saying, it's all about making choices. You everything we do is about saying, I'm going to do this and not that. And honestly, when I look at criticism, some of the worst criticism comes from an uninformed place where there's an assumption that you can, you can and perhaps should do everything all at once. It's like, which is impossible. One, you have to make choices. And then you make choices for reasons. And you know, that is some of the worst criticism is sort of not understanding that choices have to be made and that what we chose to make is not what you wanted us to choose, but that's not a criticism of what we made. It's a criticism of our decision process. Or I made something that doesn't speak to you because I wasn't trying to speak to you. I was trying to speak to those people over there. And you saw what I wrote and you didn't like it, which is fine, but I didn't write it for you. And so when you're mad that I'm not addressing your needs, it's because it wasn't not intended for you. And that's, you know, that's, it's understandable why people react that way. But that, that happens sometimes that because, you know, you have to make choices and make the act of making a choice is the act of alienating someone somewhere. Sure. Well, I mean, it's basic communication, right? You have two people. One person has a message to give to that other person or many persons. And they choose, for example, a language to deliver that message in. If the person on the receiving end doesn't understand that language, then perhaps that receiving end is not correct. Maybe that language or maybe that message wasn't intended for that particular person, right? And view everything as a language. If we're, if we're talking with a particular dialect of technology, in this case, Apple, maybe if you are not receiving that well and you don't think that that's a holistic version of the, of the story, or it's not interesting to you, maybe it's time to move on. And there are plenty of people listening to this podcast right now, by the way, who definitely are not Apple users, right? Or Mac users. And that's fine. Like there's nothing wrong with that. But it doesn't change the fact that there are people who are totally interested in this subject. Yeah. Yeah. And that's okay. I think that is a lesson that I learned at some point along the way here. And I feel like the internet is still full of people who haven't learned it and are learning it every day. This idea that I'll give you an example from the Apple in the Apple context. Let's see. Like when Apple released the MacBook in 2015, the new MacBook, the USB-C port, single port, very different kind of computer, weird keyboard, weird trackpad, one port, like nothing anybody had seen before, kind of a low power processor. A lot of people were just lost about that product. And I remember watching it and thinking, these are people who don't want to accept that Apple sometimes might make a product that they don't want. And feels like every product Apple makes should make them excited. I understand that from a human nature point of view, which is you want everything in the world to be addressed to you. But the fact is not everything in the world is addressed to you and you need to get over it. You know, some stuff is not meant for you. The response should be, oh, that's not for me. That's fine. That's not for me. They don't want, it's not my kind of thing. It's not my, I don't like it. It's not my cup of tea. They're not trying to reach me. It's not for me. And you walk away. What happens and I see this, you know, I see this on the internet all the time is people get angry and offended that something hasn't been tailored for them. And people get angry on the internet. Yeah, I know it's hard to believe, but it's a particular strain of it, which is people are mad when something isn't tailored to them. And, you know, it's just you got to get over it. Not the, there are a lot of people in the world with a lot of different needs. And this goes beyond computers. This goes to, you know, sort of any topic. Not everything is about you. And you got to, and you got to accept that. And some people, and just because some people care about it and you don't, doesn't make those people dumb. Now, maybe you don't want to, if you don't care about some TV show, you should probably not be frequenting the podcasts and the message boards and all of that of the people who are obsessed with that TV show because it's not your thing. You just go, go somewhere else, find something else. And that's, and we all find the things that we, you know, we'll gravitate toward what we're interested in. That is politics summed up in a couple of sentences. I mean, not everything is made for you. And so don't vote, right? Like, don't put your attention into something that is clearly not intended for you to consume at all. It reminds me of some of the, the game or gate stuff where people get really, really angry about people suggesting that there should be games targeted at audiences that are not traditional targets. And it's like, you know, when you had your whole life as the primary target of every single piece of entertainment in the genre that you like, you, I can see why you might be mad if somebody said, hey, there are other people who might also like to play some games and see representations of themselves in there too. I get, I get that, but you got to be a bigger person and say, not everything needs to be for me. And some of the stuff that's not for me might actually be good. And that's good, too. Like I might enjoy things that aren't just tailored for me. But, you know what? Everybody has to learn that stuff at their own pace. And, and, and, and like I said, like, just get over it. Get over the fact that the world doesn't revolve around you. And there's a whole lot of people. And the internet is humbling in that way. And I think that maybe it's a natural process of the internet that, you know, everybody of my generation growing up assumed that we were all just special flowers that were unlike anybody and our likes and dislikes were unlike anything that anyone else ever felt. But, you know, the internet has proven that that's just not true. That everybody's unique. Yes. But all of your unique interests are not unique interests. Lots of other people have them. That takes from getting used to too. But eventually you just got to get over it. They may be unique to you in your neighborhood. Oh, certainly. But in your in in the larger scheme of users in the world, you're not, you're not alone, right? And that's the, that's the beauty of the internet is that if there's a thing that you love and you're the only person you feel like you're the only person in the world who loves that thing, the internet can show you a whole lot of other people who love that thing, whatever it is. And that's that's one of the great things about about the internet removing isolation from people. But it also is a reminder that you are not a unique and, you know, a unique and special snowflake whose interests do not intersect with anyone else in the world. And if that's part of your identity, you have to get over it. Today's sponsor is hired. On hired software engineers and designers can get five or more interview requests in a given week. And each of these offers has salary and equity up front. They have full time and contract opportunities. And my two favorite features of hired is number one, you can view the interview requests and accept them or reject them before you ever talk to any company. So you avoid pretty much every awkward conversation that you could have. And it's also 100% free for you. Now hired works with employers from 13 major tech hubs. There's over 3,000 companies that they work with in North America and Europe. And if you get a job through hired, they normally give a $1,000 just kind of a thank you bonus for using their service. But if you use our special link, which you can find in the show notes, that will double that bonus to $2,000 when you accept a job. That link is hired.com slash Developer Tea. But once again, that will be in the show notes at spec.fm. Thanks to hired for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. Yeah, I think, you know, obviously it's important that we recognize the humanity of each person, right? Like we shouldn't be attacking people for their identity. But at the same time, you know, if you create a product and we'll just take it back to Apple here because that's easy. If you create a product that has a USB-C port and it has this strange super flat keyboard, and I don't like it, then a sign of maturity for me is to say, you know what? Good for you for making a product that is successful with a large group of other people. Congratulations, we're moving forward as a human race. This isn't the end of the world just because I don't like this product. And if you continue to make products that I and lots of other people like, then guess what? The system actually cleans you out, right? You're not going to stay around making bad stuff forever. You won't be able to sustain that, right? The system naturally will move you along. Yeah, yeah, it's true. I mean, some of this is just about kind of growing up and getting some perspective and some people do it at various ages and some people never do it. And that's just how it is, but I think it's a healthy approach to the world. Yeah, telling somebody to grow up sometimes feels like a waste of... You can't order someone to do it. You can't tell them. Yeah, they do it on their own. Well, I have to ask you though, since we went often to, you know, hypothetical discussion land, I'm going to bring it back down. Did you ever do a hack and toss? Yeah, I did. What platform did you use to do it? So the... Well, first off, we did a couple of them at the Mac world lab. We had Rob Griffiths build one. I think then somebody in the lab built one a few years later. So we did a few in public, which is kind of interesting. And we had those questions like, how do we phrase this? And we basically approached it as being... We approached this being an interesting science experiment and also with curiosity that it was curiosity about what a mid-range Mac would look like in terms of profile. So we tested it and stuff. And so we did that a couple of times. For me personally, I wanted to get an idea of what a very small Mac laptop would be like when the netbook craze was happening. And so I bought a, I don't know, $400, $300 MSI wind netbook, which was just a plastic piece of crap. And I ran OS10 on that for a little bit. And it was awful. And I wrote an article about it. And then I think I put it in like the giveaway bin at work eventually and somebody took it away. I was hoping you would say that because I actually did the same thing. I didn't buy the same model. But I bought a little 11 inch, what would eventually become the Mac book air? It seems like maybe it was even smaller than 11 inches. It was awful. I mean, just... Well, that's why I, that's why I really liked the project is because I, it taught me all of these things that I hadn't really thought of as a, as a long time Apple user about ways that a laptop could be terrible. And, and, and it made me realize, and, and to this day, they haven't done it. It made me realize at that moment, this is why Apple will never make a computer that is narrower than the width of a full size keyboard. Because a smaller than full size keyboard is atrocious. And I could, and you know, they still haven't the Mac book. The, even the Mac book and the, and the 11 inch MacBook air, they are all full size keyboards. Yeah, well, it actually taught me how much I appreciate OS10 like being paired with hardware that it just works with, right? Because installing drivers just to get audio working on that little netbook was just the worst painful experience. And I actually re-experienced this when I tried to understand how Linux works. And I know there's a, again, there's a ton of people who use Linux very happily who listen to this show. But I just, you know, getting a normal like media type environment set up on Linux was just really painful for me, but not nearly as painful as it was on that little netbook. I, at one point, got really frustrated because I, my networking stopped working. And I discovered after much consternation and taking things apart and putting them back together, again, I discovered that I had pressed the key, a key on the keyboard that turns your network off, turns your, the toggles your Wi-Fi, one of the function keys, just turns your Wi-Fi off. It's an air gap key. Wow. Yeah. Yeah, it seems like I've had that problem before, but I've blocked it out of my memory and never to return. So I did, but I did do it, you know, I did, I did that. I did, I did the hack and touch thing just for science, really. I've never, I know people who have done it and they're doing it to use. And I found, I actually, that was another good thing about it for the ones we did at Mac Rollin the ones that, the one that I tried was I thought it was really great as an object lesson about why you didn't want to do it, because every time an OS update would come out, things would break. So you couldn't update to the latest version of anything. Yeah. Until somebody basically would jailbreak it, right? That's essentially what would happen is somebody would come along and create a different, a different software package for that netbook. And then you would, you know, open that DMG and then go through that huge process of putting it onto a bootable disk drive. And yeah, it was, it was a nightmare. It allowed me to say to anyone who asked about hack and touches don't do it. It's not worth it. Yeah. I mean, that that really is what it, what I got out of it is people be like, Oh, I'm curious about that. I'm like, well, listen, don't. Just, it's not worth it. Yeah, the pain that you go through is, is you just pay the extra like, I don't know, however, whatever the overhead is. Well, I feel that way about jailbreaking too. It's the same thing. It's just like it's kind of a pain. What do you get out of it? And you better get something really great out of it. I mean, if there's somebody who has a very particular use case, they cannot use an existing bit of Apple hardware, then okay, I guess, but don't, you know, don't do it and think it's going to just, well, I'm going to save a couple hundred dollars. And otherwise, it'll be exactly the same. It's just not, it's not going to be the same. It's going to be painful. Don't, don't do it. I think some of the killer features of jailbreak, like of a jailbroken system are now a part of the ecosystem, like already now. And so the stuff that used to be really cool, you know, like they had multitasking style, swiping stuff pretty early as well. None of it performs super well, but it kind of set up this, this feeling of like, wow, that's like a really cool feature that's going to be useful. Now, I don't really know, like I haven't followed it super well, but I don't know of many jailbreak features that I'm like, wow, I would love to have that specific thing. There's always something, but it's not like in the old days. Right. That's, I mean, the reason I jail broke at all at one point was because we were doing demos at Macworld Expo of things on an iPad and you couldn't do video out. And now you can, but you couldn't at that time when we jailbroke all our iPads so that we could plug them in to an adapter and do video out for the show. And I think that's the last time I really did any, any jailbreak and all that. But again, if you've got a really good reason, then, then so be it. But for the most part, I think it's not, you know, it's not worth it. You know, this kind of leads me into my next point, actually. I'm glad we found our way here. It kind of acts as like a bridge between the two where previously there wasn't really a bridge. You know, you see a very small developers game where they're a utility tool being kind of put into the limelight where normally those things wouldn't be surfaced at all. And even Apple recognizes those individual developers now. And I think it's partially a result of the journalism. I hope you've enjoyed today's episode of Developer Tea and the first part of the interview with Jason Snell. Make sure you subscribe if you don't want to mess out on the next part of the interview, which will come out on Wednesday. If you are enjoying the show, we'd love to see a review from you in iTunes. This is actually the best way that you can help other developers, just like you, find Developer Tea. Of course, you can also talk to us on Twitter at at Developer Tea. And you can join the spec Slack community or approaching 3,500 members in that Slack community. And you can come and be a part of that conversation. Spec.fm slash slack. That is free and it will always be free. Thank you again to hire.com. Of course, if you want the doubled bonus, make sure you go to Spec.fm to read the show notes and get that code, the special link that's in the show notes. That will double the bonus. You're hiring bonus from $1,000 to $2,000. Thank you again to hired for sponsoring the show. And thank you once again for listening. Until next time, enjoy your tea.