BLASPHEMY from Tony Stark. I knew there was a reason I never read Iron Man!

BLASPHEMY from Tony Stark. I knew there was a reason I never read Iron Man!

It was a sad day in my house yesterday. I lost my beloved iPad 3 to a hardwood floor and an iPhone 4….and the 4’ drop the iPad took and landed on the iPhone!

Thankfully it is was work issued and I was able to upgrade to an iPad 4 and (hopefully) have it by the end of this week.

[shared via Google Reader from MacStories]

Following last week’s announcement of a redesigned Mac client (more details here), which was released yesterday as public beta, Evernote has today announced a major update “coming very soon” for the iOS version of the app.

Dubbed like the Mac counterpart “Evernote 5″, the new Evernote for iOS presents a brand new interface to browse notes, notebooks, and tags on the iPhone and iPad. Using a “stacked” interface for sections, Evernote has implemented a new navigation to switch views with just two taps; on the iPad’s larger screen, the team also managed to fit in a “recent notes” scrollable menu at the top, which should allow users to quickly switch between notes from different notebooks or tags.

The update seems to borrow heavily from the new Mac app. There’s an Atlas view to browse notes by location, redesigned Tags and Notebooks views, Cards, Filters, and Sorting options reminiscent of what we saw in Evernote 5 beta for Mac. The iOS app places great emphasis on three shortcuts at the top to create a new note or photo note, the latter being a feature that leverages the iPhone’s camera to snap photos and automatically save them as new notes. It’s unclear whether users will also be able to create shortcuts for notes and notebooks on iOS — shortcuts are a new major feature of Evernote 5 for Mac that, personally, I’d love to see on iOS.

We’ve learned a lot over the years about how people use Evernote on mobile devices. It’s all about speed. Whether you’re creating a note or browsing to one, everything needs to happen fast. Also, you want the app to easily support your preferred organization scheme. If you’re a tagger, then tags must be front-and-center. If you put everything into notebooks, then those need to be quickly accessible.

As an Evernote user, I’m looking forward to trying the new Evernote app for iOS. In the meantime, check out Evernote’s blog post here and official promo video below.

[shared via Google Reader from patrickrhone / journal]

Sit your butt, in a chair, and write. That’s it. That’s all there is. Take your hind-quarters and, with purpose, plant it in a seating utensil of your choosing. Preferably, with something to write with. That’s step one (Well, not really. There’s actually a whole lot that has to happen before that step but I’ll get to that later).

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, for most, that is the the hardest part of all. Because there are a whole host of things that keep us from taking that seemingly simple step. Here are some of the more common excuses which I’m going to express in the first person because I have battled all of them and lose more often than I win:

  1. I have something else to do.
  2. I don’t have anything to write about.
  3. I am not good enough.
  4. I am not talented enough.
  5. No one will read it anyway.

You know what those are? Lies and excuses and moot points. You know what those aren’t? Your butt, in a chair, writing.

OK, fine. You don’t like to write sitting. You’d rather stand like Hemingway or lay down like Capote. That’s fine. I don’t care. The point is just write. WRITE!

Look, don’t worry about what to write about. Just start writing the first thing that comes to your mind. Write about the wall color. Write about the dirt on the floor. Write about the crazy fantasy you are currently having about tracking me down and killing me in my sleep for even suggesting such insanity. I don’t care. The world does not care.

You know who should care? You. You have a hundred million stories just sitting there, inside of you, waiting to get out. How do I know? Because we all do. It’s called “living a life” and each moment is another chapter, another story. Look, it’s like this: If you don’t have a story to tell then you are not living a life worth telling stories about.

I write most stuff on my iPhone these days. The reasons? I always have it with me and it is the closest tool I have when the mood strikes and my butt is commanded to find a chair. I don’t think about the “right” tools or the “right” environment or the “right” time. The right tool is the one I have with me. The right environment is my butt in a chair. The right time is now.

Don’t worry about step two. Step two does not matter right now. The only thing that matters is you, writing, now. So, stop making excuses and start.

[shared via Google Reader from Gear Patrol]

In-N-Out Burger is something of a cult to those living outside of the chain’s west-coast bubble, proselytized an endless waves of sunkissed acolytes devoted to spreading the good burger word. Their brief testaments, filled with whispers of “animal fries”, “secret menus” and multiplied stacks of beef and cheese, speak of a fast-food paradise whose divine inspiration is forever out of reach of infidels accustomed to Whoppers and Big Macs.

What truly separates this meat-and-potatoes chain from the Arches, Kings, and Pony-tailed gingers of this world though? We don’t have all of the answers, and never will. But like any good prophet worth their grape Kool-Aid spritzer, we at least know that retelling In-N-Out’s story is as good of a place to start as any on the path toward fast food enlightenment.

The story of the country’s coolest burger chain begins with the company’s founders, Harry and Esther Snyder. Harry was a WWII veteran who found work after the service as a caterer of baked goods. Esther spent time in the women’s branch of the Navy, serving as a surgical nurse and eventually obtained a degree in Zoology from Seattle Pacific University. They met each other at the restaurant Esther was managing after she graduated.

Neither had experience in the emerging quick service industry, but in 1948, the newlyweds opened the first In-N-Out in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park (eventually demolished for a freeway), across the street from Harry Snyder’s childhood home. Southern California in the 1940s was a hotbed for fast food innovation, producing McDonalds and Carl’s Jr. around the same time, but Harry was the first to recognize the potential of a restaurant that allowed drivers to make orders over a two-way intercom system, creating the first Drive-thru experience as we know it today. Combined with the Snyders’ simple goal of giving customers “the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy” while providing “friendly service in a sparkling clean environment”, their humble burger experiment gained traction — resulting in the opening of the second In-N-Out two years later. Though the Snyders clearly had a success on their hands, the potential for explosive growth of the chain was tempered by the couple’s focus on strict quality control, over both the restaurant experience, and of course the food. Subsequently, only 18 restaurants were opened over the next 28 years before Harry Synder passed away in 1976 from lung cancer.

Harry’s son Rich had worked in the restaurants all of his life and assumed the role of company president at the young age of 24 following his father’s passing. During his tenure, the chain experienced unprecedented growth, opening over 90 restaurants through the 80s and 90s. But while business was booming, In-N-Out still remained firmly grounded in southern California, and against the franchising model. Rich believed that outsourcing the brand purely for accelerated growth was tantamount to “prostituting his parents”. “There is money to be made by doing those things” he said, “but you lose something, and I don’t want to lose what I was raised with all my life” His resolution to maintain the simple menu devised by his parents was equally strong, which he made clear to Forbes in 1989 saying “it’s hard enough to sell burgers, fries and drinks right. And when you start adding things, it gets worse”. A lemon-lime soda would be the only exception during his tenure as president.

The truth is that new foods were being developed and served at the restaurants — they just never made it to the official menu. The “Animal” method of preparing a burger developed by word-of-mouth originally in southern California and described a “mustard grilled” double-double burger covered with grilled onions and extra In-N-Out special sauce. Today the term is now trademarked by In-N-Out, and it’s a common style requested when ordering fries or burgers — though what “Animal Style” implies on each of these two items is actually different. But it’s still not on the menu. In fact, there’s an entire “secret menu” well-known by regular patrons (it’s also widely available on the company’s website) that includes a whole host of special items and preparation methods.

These not-so-secret quirks, as well as the family’s insistence on making food to order with fresh ingredients immediately endeared the restaurant to customers, despite putting the chain at a disadvantage compared to other burger joints by creating longer wait times for food. Soon the problem transcended from testing the patience of patrons, to limiting the expansion of new restaurants. Long waits at certain locations began creating traffic jams, which in turn caused city governments to stall on future In-N-Out building permits. As a result, new stores included indoor and outdoor seating to relieve the previously drive-thru only restaurant’s impact on the surrounding road infrastructure.

Issues like these were, of course, the right kind of problems to have as a small business owner, but amazingly, it was only in 1992 that the first restaurant appeared outside of the nest of Southern California, under the bright lights of Las Vegas. Soon the chain would finally expand to the other corners of California, but Rich failed to see the next evolution in his family’s business. He died in 1993 at the age of 41 in a private plane crash while attempting to land at John Wayne Airport in Orange Country, California, along with Philip R. West, In-N-Out Burger’s chief operating officer and executive vice-president. Rumor has it that Rich and Philip West had a standing personal agreement never to fly on the same plane, but they had broken the policy for this flight.

The circumstances of the crash and FAA investigation eventually led to a mandatory increase in the distance between smaller planes following bigger planes; the turbulence created by a Boeing 757 ahead of Rich’s plane was the cause of the tragedy. After the accident, Rich’s brother Guy Snyder assumed the helm through the rest of the ’90s, expanding the company’s reach to over 140 locations. In 1999, Guy died suddenly from an overdose of painkillers — returning the responsibility of the now booming chain back to it’s co-founder and matriarch, Esther Snyder.

While competing chains like McDonalds and other rivals exploded to thousands of locations, Esther continued to moderate the pace of In-N-Out’s expansion. In 2000, the chain finally crossed the California line into Arizona. The Snyder family’s influence over the company finally waned with Esther’s death in 2006 at the age of 86. The job of President then passed to Mark Taylor, former vice president of operations and a close family friend. A year later in 2007, an opening in Tucson broke company records for most burgers sold in a day and week. The crowd was so large news helicopters circled overhead to film the spectacle.

The chain expanded to Utah in 2008 and then later to Texas in 2010. Around the same time, Guy’s only daughter and the only grandchild to Harry & Esther, Lynsi Martinez, replaced Taylor as president of the company — restoring the family bloodline at the top of the org chart. She was only 23 years old at her grandmother’s death, and was setup to gain control of her father’s shares of the company in stages over 12 years. Like most private companies, much is unknown about In-N-Out’s financial status, but the chain is widely known as one of the few fast food chains to pay employees well above the minimum wages thresholds dictated by the state and federal government. Restaurants & Institutions estimated the company generated $260 million in sales in 2002. We can only guess how much that number has skyrocketed over the last decade.

In many ways, In-N-Out’s rise is a text book example of the American dream fulfilled, yet the Snyder’s insistence on never sacrificing quality for the sake of accelerated growth still lies in stark contrast to the entrepreneurial culture of today, hypnotized by 5X multipliers, viral cultural adoption and the sprint to IPO. Selling hamburgers may be as red, white and blue of a business model as they come, but turning down the quick buck is an entirely different story. Perhaps this is why in the midst of a booming health and slow food movement, In-N-Out drive-thrus remain a favorite among world-renowned chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller, Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali and countless other celebrities. Or while chain’s like Chic-fil-la choke on the stigma of their founder’s ultra conservative view, the Synder family continues to promote their devote beliefs via discrete Bible verses printed on their paper containers with little complaint. Maybe making a great hamburger just absolves all sins. All we know is that the Synder’s gift to this earth can’t spread East fast enough.

For more, visit Gear Patrol.

[shared via Google Reader from 52 Tiger]

Twitter is a simmering cauldron of Nerd Rage this morning as quivering iPad (3) owners lift their fists into the air and shout, “Obsolete!” like the Chancellor condemning Romney Wordsworth.

But they’re wrong.

Your iPad 3 is still a fantastic device, and will continue to work admirably for years. The new iPad with Retina display does not diminish your existing iPad’s usefulness. It can be disappointing not to have the very latest and greatest, but it’s not the least bit necessary.  If you bought your iPad within the last 30 days, take it back to an Apple Store. They’ll replace it with a new one for free. If not, enjoy the fantastic little computer you hold in your hands. It’s a stellar device.

This concludes First World Problems Theatre.

[shared via Google Reader from GeekTyrant]

At long last Marvel has released the first trailer for Shane Black's Iron Man 3! You’ve all been waiting for this, and now you can see the awesomeness of Iron Man 3 for yourself! This trailer is completely different from anything we saw at Comic-Con! This is much more intense, and doesn’t include the kind of humor we’d expect to see from Tony Stark, there was a lot more humor in the Comic-Con footage. Iron Man 3 is going to go to some dark places, and it really looks like it will be the best Iron Man film so far. It’s going to kick so much ass! There’s actually some very surprising stuff included in the trailer.

The movie stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley.

Here’s the synopsis:

Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

The movie is set to be released on May 3rd, 2013, now watch the trailer and please let us know what you think about what you see in it! Enjoy the ride…

[shared via Google Reader from Macgasm]

Gearbox Software’s popular first-person shooter series, Borderlands, is coming to iOS this month. The game will be called Borderlands Legends and will let you play one of four original Borderlands heroes on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for the very first time.

While Gearbox hasn’t actually officially announced the game, an advert of the game appeared on a Borderlands 2 digital strategy guide. According to the ad:

“Borderlands Legends is the latest addition to the Borderlands franchise, specifically designed for mobile and tablet. Control Mordecai, Lilith, Brick and Roland and take out the oncoming waves of enemies. Collect in-game cash by destroying enemies and purchase new weapons. Earn experience points and level up your characters, unlocking new skills and abilities. Each character has their own set of unique skills and abilities, use them wisely to survive!”

Gearbox has yet to confirm it, but the ad says it will be arriving in the App Store this October, so keep your eyes peeled!

Image Credit: The Gearbox Software Forums

[shared via Google Reader from]

I was reading Craig Jarrow’s post today over at Time Management Ninja and it got me thinking about simplifiying systems. I know I need to dive back in and toss aside some tools, clear some of the clutter, and pare things down on the whole. And it’d be really easy to do that instead of bearing down and getting the important stuff done first.

If you’re thinking about purging some of your apps, stop first and think about what really needs doing first. Get the work done first, then evaluate how you’ve been doing the work and see what you can do to improve it. That can be the removal of a tool, the addition of a tool, or perhaps the adoption or abandonment of a strategy. Regardless, get what really needs doing done first, then worry about making the next thing’s “doing part” better.

My wife and I often run across this kind of thing when we use an app or service in tandem. Calendars would be a great example of this. We not only think about calendars differently, but we think about how they fit into our workflow differently. Neither way is wrong, but we need to make sure that we find cohesion so that there are fewer hiccups in our integrated calendars. Establishing these safeguards will take time, so we’ll set aside some time to do this when we take care of the things we use the calendars (and task managers, where applicable) for first. By recognizing this, we’re being productive instead of spending our time “doing” productive.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Set up your system and tools.
  2. Set forth to accomplish what you’re using your system and tools to do.
  3. Set aside time to fine tune the system and tools afterward.

It’s the order of the list above that is crucial. You want to use your time as optimally as possible, and keeping this arranged in order will help you do just that.

Sometimes you won’t be able to do it in this order, especially if you’re not working independently in some aspects of your work and life. But do your best to make it happen when you can. It can make a huge difference in your productivity.

(Chris Brogan has a great post on how to get more done over at his blog. He also just so happens to be the guest on this week’s episode of Mikes on Mics — where he does his an impression of his Impact Equation co-author, Julien Smith .)

Photo credit: Claire Sambrook (CC BY 2.0)