Dustin Curtis

Villain. Founder of Svbtle.

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“Work like hell”

If other people are putting in 40-hour workweeks, and you’re putting in 100-hour workweeks, then, even if you’re doing the same thing, you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.

– ELON MUSK

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Learning how to think

The most profound thought from a recent Inc. Magazine interview with Paul Graham was his response to a question about bad habits shared by YC founders:

They don’t realize how independent they can be. When you’re a child, your parents tell you what you’re supposed to do. Then, you’re in school, and you’re part of this institution that tells you what to do. Then, you go work for some company, and the company tells you what to do. So people come in like baby birds in the nest and open their mouths, as if they’re expecting us to drop food in. We have to tell them, “We’re not your bosses. You’re in charge now.” Some of them are freaked out by that. Some people are meant to be employees. Other people discover they have wings and start flapping them. There’s nothing like being thrown off a cliff to make you discover that you have wings.

The single largest difference I’ve noticed between

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The Life of Dustin Curtis

For years, I’ve taken photos as memory markers. Whenever I want to remember a moment, place, or feeling, I pull out my phone and snap a photo of whatever I’m currently looking at. There’s no art involved, and I don’t try to make the photos look good; I just try to make sure there is enough information in the frame to give a good understanding of the exact moment I’m trying to record. For example, here is Sunday, April 14th 2013 at 15:08:30 EST, as I write this sentence at The Standard hotel in Manhattan:

apr14_1510ny.jpg

Without even realizing it, I’ve taken at least one photo every day for the past five years. In total, I’ve snapped the shutter on my iPhone or DSLR at least 28,000 times. The photos have formed a profound and very high resolution timeline of my life. They are my story. But more than that, for me personally, the experience of scrolling through the pictures and seeing them whip by in a

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Seven Years

Despite being the cheapest usable tablet on the market, and although the Kindle is already one of its best selling items, Amazon cut the price of the Kindle Fire HD today from $199 to $169. At that price, it’s almost impossible to imagine any profit at all; when it was released in late 2012, some speculated that the cost of materials and manufacturing alone amounted to more than $185.

It’s easy to imagine the strategy here–that Amazon expects to make money on digital content sales–but, historically, the numbers behind that strategy haven’t panned out. With billions of dollars in content sales, Apple still claims to run the iTunes store at “practically break even.” What makes Amazon think it can pull a profit when even Apple can’t?

While trying to figure out what Jeff Bezos is thinking, I remembered something he told the New York Times in 2011:

“If everything you do needs to work on a

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Glass

The hardware looks much better in person than I expected. In fact, I would even say it looks good. The industrial design is solid, and though it is being manufactured in small batches, it has the build quality you might expect from something being mass-produced. I found this pleasantly shocking, especially considering Google’s history of lackluster attention to detail. Before you even turn it on, Glass feels like something from the future that is worth at least $1,000.

Glass is very clearly an early “alpha” product, and it’s only being sold to very few developers and invitees, so my thoughts below will focus mainly on the design challenges facing ambient computing in general and to point out some things I hadn’t thought about before actually wearing Glass. Overall, I think Glass is a great first step for wearable computers and I hope that what I saw was simply a taste of things to come.

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Bucket List

An incomplete, living list.

  1. Visit space
  2. Get published in a nationally-distributed print publication
  3. Be on the cover of a major magazine
  4. Stay in one place for a full year
  5. See a total solar eclipse
  6. Get pilot’s license
  7. Visit Necker Island
  8. Own a genuine Picasso
  9. Learn to fillet a fish
  10. Skydive May 25, 2013
  11. Wine tasting in Napa May 26, 2013
  12. Wine tasting in France
  13. Run a marathon
  14. Own a yacht
  15. Learn to cook
  16. Speak spanish fluently
  17. Become SCUBA certified May 25, 2014
  18. Scuba - Great Barrier Reef
  19. Ride in a helicopter
  20. Ride the trans-siberian railway from China to London
  21. Create something that touches a hundred million people
  22. See actual lava
  23. Make $10 million in a single transaction
  24. Make $100 million in a single transaction
  25. Give away a billion dollars
  26. Learn to bartend
  27. Get a college degree
  28. Sit in the Oval Office
  29. Do not take any artificial drugs for 6 months.
  30. Buy a round of drinks for an entire bar

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What a stupid idea

For some cruel reason, I keep finding myself in the position of being introduced to things in their infancy (often before they are even launched), dismissing them as stupid, and then watching them become unbelievably popular. This has happened to me at least four times. Each time I vow never to call anything stupid again, and then, invariably, it happens again.

I’m not sure if there’s any lesson here other than a warning against arrogance, but I have two stories to share.


In late 2009, I received an email from a guy asking to meet about his new project. I was a designer at the time, and he was looking for some advice, so I agreed to meet with him at the quintessential startup meeting place in San Francisco, The Creamery.

“I want to make an app for browsing catalogs. It’s like a fashion catalog, but you can organize and share outfits,” he said. He pulled out his iPhone and showed me

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Even the survivors come away bleeding

Warren Buffett has never invested in new technology companies. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, he completely ignored the rise of the personal computer and the web (avoiding the first bubble), and he has rarely invested in rapidly growing industries. This might seem like a paradoxical stance from one of the greatest investors of all time, but if you look at the investable companies within rapidly growing markets, a pattern emerges: they are not healthy. They’re engaged in constant war–a fight to the death, in many cases–for control of the future of their industry in technology, brand, and mindshare.

In his 2009 Berkshire Hathaway annual letter, Buffett explained his philosophy regarding such industries:

Charlie and I avoid businesses whose futures we can’t evaluate, no matter how exciting their products may be. In the past, it required no brilliance for people to foresee the

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Vision

After showing Facebook Home, Mark Zuckerberg spent a few minutes talking about the future of computing. What he said is the epitome of a vision statement, and it sets the philosophy driving Facebook’s work:

At one level, [Home] is just the next mobile version of Facebook. At a deeper level, I think this can start to be a change in the relationship that we have with how we use computing devices. For more than thirty years, computers have mostly just been about tasks, and they had to be–they were too expensive and clunky and hard to use, so you wouldn’t really want to use them for anything else. But the modern computing device has a very different place in our lives. It’s not just for productivity and business, although it’s great for that too. It’s for making us more connected, more social, more aware.

Home, by putting people first, and then apps–by just flipping the order–is one of

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The Glass Bicycle

When I first heard about Google Glass, I thought it was a bit too ambitious. It reminded me of the original Microsoft Surface, a $10,000 touchscreen table that was obscenely cool but wholly impractical. The difference is that Google is actually delivering on Glass as a consumer device, and the glimpse that we’ve seen is so transformative that I think it’s worth the benefit of the doubt. What surprises me is the number of people dismissing it so early as ugly and un-productizable.

In the early 1980’s, when most people dismissed the personal computer as a mere curiosity, Steve Jobs attempted to rationalize its existence with a fascinating metaphor:

I think one of the things that really separates us from the higher primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The Condor used the least amount of energy to

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