Bespoke

A few years back, while on a business trip, I bought a corduroy sport coat on clearance at a J Crew store in Scottsdale, AZ. I can’t remember the exact price but I remember it being so low that I couldn’t justify not buying it.

It was slightly too big but not so much so that it looked horrible on me. I imagined the slightly oversize fit would be perfect for wearing with a chunky sweater underneath. The ideal business casual outfit for late fall in Minnesota. Not so much for late spring in Arizona. Hence the price, I suspect.

I brought the jacket home and it served me well for a couple of solid years. Especially at first when I was just a tad bit heavier. It was still big but not enough for me to care.

This year, as the first chilly blush of fall came, I put it on and it seemed not quite right. A bit too roomy in too many places. Even more so than the past. I had lost a little weight but not too much. Enough to make a difference though. It did not look bad but it did not look its best. I finally had to care.

It took this realization to spark my mind to the idea that I could take it into a tailor. We have a really great one close by. One who takes tremendous pride in his craft. One who learned the trade through apprenticeship and years of study. One I’ve taken other things to in the past.

I felt sheepishly dumbstruck that this had not occurred to me before. Perhaps it was because I paid so little for it that I felt I had to accept the jacket as it was off-the-rack. Perhaps, in my mind, I thought (correctly as it turned out) the price of having it tailored would far outweigh the price I paid which stopped me from even considering it as an option in the first place. No matter the reason, I’m glad I got past it.

The price to have it tailored to fit me perfectly was still less than I would have paid to buy that same jacket at full retail. Doing so would not only made the jacket look better on me now but allows it to continue to be a mainstay of my wardrobe for many years to come — perhaps even a lifetime. Well worth it. Should have done it right away. And, if I ever need to, um, let it out a bit again I now know I should take it back to my tailor and he will make it perfect for the me yet to come.

I believe there is a place for this is the world of technology. I think there is a need for a Software Tailor. For instance, you have a text editor that works well but could use just a few changes to make it work perfectly for you. You take it to the Software Tailor and they do that for you. Or perhaps you go to one to build the perfect task management app to fit your specific working style. In my mind, many who program are crafts people and I think there is a growing opportunity and need for such a service by people with these skills.

Of course, this would mean we would need to have a culture in place to support this. Those who make such products from the beginning would need to “leave a bit of extra fabric” in their products to allow for such growth (or to take it in a little in the middle). Just like a tailor can tell much about the manufacture of a garment from the threading and seams, and make adjustments accordingly, so too would code have to be clean and well commented. But, once again, if a culture and system to were support this, those that take the software trade seriously would excel from builder and tailor. Those that did not would be revealed and expelled.

Can you imagine a future where, for a price, a key software tool that you rely on can be bespoke? That programming would be a trade craft passed down through apprenticeship and study. That when you want a piece of software to fit you just right, you can take it to someone to make do that?

I can and I wish it so.

Buying Philosophy

When we purchase or use any software, or hardware, or thing, or craft, or product, you are in part giving yourself over to a philosophy. All products have one. Some more obvious than others. Those things we build for ourselves are guided by our own philosophy. Those things built by others are guided by theirs and through our use we accept and adopt these.

The recent controversy and numerous arguments and counter-arguments around Apple’s mute switch is really arguing about philosophy. Apple clearly has a philosophy about the way the hardware and software should treat the mute switch. Basically, mute means mute except in the cases where the user has asked it not to be. When a user asks for an alarm to sound or a video to play, ignore the switch. You don’t have to agree with this philosophy. There are several ways to get around this philosophy (one being to turn the phone off entirely). But, regardless, when you bought that phone part of what you were buying was this philosophy and any others Apple has decided to imbue.

The discussions back and forth about comments being a good or bad thing — philosophy. If you go to a site with comments enabled, the site’s owner is making a philosophical statement about a belief that comments from, and discussion with, others are an essential part of the ideas expressed. By your participation, whether it be reading them or participating by adding your own, you are buying into this philosophy. There are options to opt-out of this philosophy, one being not to visit the site at all. But, make no mistake, there is a philosophy being expressed and you are being given the opportunity to agree with and participate in it.

The solution is simple, if you are not willing to agree to or buy into someone else’s philosophy, learn the skills required to build something that closely matches your own.

My Daily Pens

My Daily Pens from Patrick Rhone on Vimeo.

One of the best things one can say about a pen is that it is pocketable. For a pen that one can easily pocket is a pen that is likely to travel beside you. And a pen that travels is a pen that get used.

These are the pens I carry on me daily:

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