People around the world argue about it--Which way should toilet paper face? There are advantages for each side, but in the end, there is an undisputable answer.
To talk about what makes designers great, we first have to talk about what design is.
On a fundamental level, design is meant to show the intent that exists behind an action or an object in a clear way. Great design strips away all possible interpretations of intent, leaving only one. Great design is unambiguous, meaning that it’s not open to more than one interpretation. For any design to be great, everyone should be able to understand its intent, regardless of their background, experience, and taste. I’m sure that you can imagine how achieving that level of clarity can be incredibly difficult.
Within the context of software, a designer must be empathetic to the user’s pain. She must then extend that empathy to a more important place — understanding. Understanding not only of the problem, but the context in which it exists, and how to fix it.
A designer who incessantly works at her craft will undoubtedly get better. While the quality of her work will keep increasing, practice alone doesn’t make a good designer great. What differentiates one from the other is not a difference of quality, it is a difference of kind. Not what to make, but how and why to make it.
A Difference of Kind.
A specialist is someone who excels at one thing, and approaches their work in a formulaic way.
Think of a UI/UX designer who’s at the top of her game. She is able to take any piece of software and design beautiful, easy-to-use navigation for it. With time, her approach to designing UI may become formulaic, regardless of what app she’s working on. The framework for helping customers “get from A to B, do X” becomes habitual because she understands their problems, and designs solutions that satisfy their needs.
Do you remember thermostats before Nest? They were all infuriatingly difficult to use because the path to their programmable features was obscured by poorly designed navigation. Nest came along and said, “Nonsense! Here’s a big dial — turn left for ‘cooler’ and right for ‘warmer.’ This thing will remember what you like. You shouldn’t have to think about your thermostat — it should think about you.”
Consider the implications of that kind of design approach.
It starts with the user experience and works backwards to the technology. By figuring out why a problem exists in the first place, a great designer doesn’t just mitigate its effects — she can eliminate the problem completely. Being a specialist, even one with a broad skill set, is not enough to arrive at that result. A systemic (or holistic, if you will) approach is needed.
A Generalist Approach.
Being a great writer is not about being good at English or putting words in a sentence. It’s about communicating thoughts clearly and knowing which thoughts deserve being written. By that analogy, being a technically competent designer doesn’t automatically solve anyone’s problems. Technical skills should be a complement to people skills like empathy and emotional intelligence.
Consider that each problem has three parts — what the problem is, why it exists, and how to solve it. Because of that, best design solutions often come through the cross-pollination of ideas and varied fields of knowledge. The what (identifying a problem) is the easiest step because we feel its effects. We experience some pain and want to eliminate it.
The why is infinitely more difficult to figure out because of our reliance on common knowledge and intuition when looking for an answer. To figure out the why, a designer must exercise deliberate thinking to distill the problem to one indisputable fact — the foundation or the first principle. Not “what is the problem?” but “why is the problem?” A great designer must make it her starting point because the answer to that question will inform the how of solving a design problem. The how is where technical skills are most important and being a generalist puts one at a massive advantage. Myriad of ways to solve any given problem exist but only one may be optimal — the one that eliminates it altogether.
An Opinionated Approach.
Harry Beck was an electrical draftsman employed by the London Underground in the 1930s. This was the time when London Underground used topological (geographically accurate) maps that were a nightmare to read because they looked like this:
Harry Beck felt that the map was bad for the soul, and in his spare time designed a map that looked like this:
Beck’s map was originally rejected because it went against existing expectations for what maps were supposed to look like. Next time you take public transit, take a look at the map, and appreciate the fact that it’s a descendant of the one above. The opinionated map that defied convention in favour of clarity and good user experience.
Here’s a more contemporary example. Before June 27, 2007 when the first generation iPhone was introduced to the world, most smartphones looked like this:
Great designers have strong opinions about what the world should look like, even when those opinions go directly against common wisdom and what is expected. One of my favourite book covers is for a book by Augusten Burroughs called Dry. It was designed by Chip Kidd and looks like this:
How easy do you think it would have been to make that cover look actually dried and withered?
A great designer needs to exercise strong opinions, making them come to life through skilful execution. It’s worth noting that “opinionated” is not the same as “being loud with one’s opinions.” A great designer doesn’t feel contempt towards people who use her product, and never assumes they are too stupid to understand it. It is her job to arrive at a solution that is unambiguous. It is her duty to hold strong conviction about what the world should look like, while exercising humility in the arduous process of making it better.
The difference between a good designer and a great designer is not a difference of quality. It is a difference of kind.
CNBC traveled to Harrodsburg, Kentucky to get a rare look inside Corning’s oldest glass factory where it makes Gorilla Glass for iPhones and a variety of other devices. The factory runs 24/7 and human hands never touch the glass — only air and robots. Take a look inside to see how it's made.
In the middle of bluegrass and bourbon country in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, is Corning's oldest glass factory. It was built in the 1950s to create lenses for glasses and then in the 1980s it transitioned into making LCD glass panels.
But about six months before the first iPhone was released in 2007, Steve Jobs made a call to the CEO of Corning and asked the company to create glass that could withstand scratches and breakage for a new Apple product. Before that, phones were typically covered in plastic. Corning quickly developed Gorilla Glass, and this factory went through a complete transformation.
The same company that developed the glass for the Edison bulb in 1879, is now making the glass that covers 6 billion smartphones, tablets, screens and wearables worldwide for Apple, Samsung, LG, Sony and Huawei and a variety of other manufacturers.
Venezuela is amidst its worst economic crisis in decades. So how did such an oil-rich state collapse so catastrophically? - We plot the demise of the country through 3 videos
Feb 2019 - BBC News
The royal family is rich, but maybe not as rich as you think. So just how does Queen Elizabeth II make her money? CNBC’s Elizabeth Schulze explains.
Yep, I'm going all patriotic again. And while I'm willing to bet that a good number of British folks know the first half of this video, there's one thing about slack in here that I only just learned myself.
As the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin passes by, murky waters continue to cloud the crypto seascape. Skeptics, supporters and talking heads alike have tabled the same questions that arose when cryptocurrency cannonballed into the public discourse in 2009: How exactly does it work? How can we ensure its security? Which cryptocurrency might emerge as the dominant medium of exchange?
Chief among them: Just how exactly can we account for them at tax time?
Hardly every (or any) crypto concern has met its solution. But in certain cases, the benefits of time, research, trial and error have given curious investors a few guardrails to grip. And on the issue of taxes and cryptocurrency, we’ve done our best to reveal everything you need to know in this guide.
Why It Matters to Crypto Investors
In the eyes of the U.S. Government, Bitcoin is not, in the case of the average investor, money. Only money is money. Perhaps no one has said it better than the IRS themselves:
“Virtual currency is a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or a store of value. In some environments, it operates like “real” currency — i.e., the coin and paper money of the United States or of any other country that is designated as legal tender, circulates, and is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance — but it does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction.”
So why does that matter for you, the potentially average investor? This notion alone — that cryptocurrency should be treated as something other than legal tender (and in the case of the United States, treated as property) — leads to an unsurprising endpoint: Tax dodging.
Intentional or not, people who incur even nominal losses or gains on the crypto markets may submit to the temptation of avoiding taxes altogether to avoid already-involuted tax laws seeping into their newest investment vehicle.
But the stakes are grave. Recent reports have seen crypto investors face prison time and as much as $250,000 penalties for mistakes or (“mistakes”) on their tax filings.
Long and short? When you invest in cryptocurrency, it’s important to get your taxes right the first time around.
Where to Start
Whether it’s Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ripple, Monero, Zcash (…we could keep going…) or any other type of cryptocurrency, you should always start in the same place.
Someone or something knows taxes better than you do.
It’s 2019. So you better believe the best tax software available has already built modules for crypto investors. Hunt around for the one that fits your crypto habits best — it shouldn’t take long.
Better still, programs like BitcoinTaxes and CryptoTrader can help you all along the way, accounting for all your tax obligations with as little as a spreadsheet documenting your trades. Pair them with your trusted tax software and life gets much, much easier.
How Your Cryptocurrency is Actually Taxed
While it’s nice to have the 1s and 0s on your side at tax time, nothing can supplant a real working knowledge of how crypto taxation works. The most important thing to know is that reporting is up to you. Freelancers, investors and those with retirement accounts are likely accustomed to banks, companies and financial custodians mailing the appropriate forms at the appropriate time. Not so much with crypto.
Most crypto exchanges will issue a reminder or an official statement if you’ve exceeded a certain amount in gains on the year — somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000. Set an alarm or notch it on your calendar, because barring gains like that, you won’t get another reminder.
A couple more baseline items:
Anytime you sell cryptocurrency, you’ll be taxed.
That means it’s taxable income if you converted crypto assets into non-crypto assets, such as cash, goods and services.
Anytime you used cryptocurrency to buy something, you’ll be taxed.
Some cryptocurrencies have had to outgrow their reputation as the underworld’s medium of exchange, and to do so, federal agencies have gotten serious about accounting for every transaction that takes place, digital or not. Does it fly against crypto’s creed to become a truly anonymous ledger? It’s up for debate. But we’re light years away from a world of loosely governed, unregulated exchanged — until then, we all play by the same rules.
Some Other Factors You’ll Have to Consider
What About Mining?
Most cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin being the most visible, allow users to “mine” that currency and in essence bring new monetary units into existence. Mining is a computing-intensive task that wards away most casual speculators and investors, but for those with the time, interest and horsepower to do it, it can be a valuable endeavor.
In the case of Bitcoin, the IRS assess mining income as business income like any other. As long as you’ve produced the equivalent of $400 USD or more in a calendar year, you’ll need to report it. If you own all of your own mining hardware, software and equipment, then a Schedule C is in order. Schedule C accounts for an ordinary income tax, plus a 15.3% self-employment taxes.
According to Coindesk, you may stand to benefit if your mining operation has already incorporated as a business and your net income exceeds $60,000. Business tax rules could be a little more generous, eliminating (or at least reducing) that additional 15.3%.
What About Cryptocurrency as Income?
There’s an added element for employers who pay out in cryptocurrency — each and every transaction must be converted to its USD equivalent at the time of transaction, then reported to the IRS on a standard W-2. Employees (and the self-employed) must do the same, reporting their W-2 wages in dollars at their worth on the day they were received.
Can You Pay Taxes in Crypto?
Yes, you can. For the investors and evangelists so devoted that American dollars are a thing of their past, there are states which allow crypto payments for crypto taxation. Ohio staked its claim as the first to accept cryptocurrency as tax payment.
Efforts to incorporate cryptocurrency payments in other states haven’t been quite as successful, but it never hurts to check with your state’s department of taxation.
Keeping Track of Your Transactions
All of that adds up to one thing: keep a log of your transactions. However you want to do it. By hand, by spreadsheet or by software, a log of your transactions is an indispensable tool during tax season. Whether you’re an employer, employee or investor, the last thing you want to do is going rooting through your past transactions, sifting through dates, times, gains and losses when you could have had them at your fingertips all along. Think simple — it doesn’t have to be a complicated template. Something like this:
Of course, that’s a crude interpretation of what the tax services might recommend. Take this as another reminder to set yourself up with the proper accounting software before you start buying, selling or mining. That’s another place you won’t want to play catch-up.
Many charities accept crypto payments. After all, why shouldn’t they? It’s another avenue for getting resources to the people who need it most.
As Forbes points out, charitable contributions of any form are treated kindly by the IRS. They come without capital gains tax, and allow donors to deduct the fair market value from the donated sum. Moreover, most charities are tax exempt. So should they choose to turn around and sell your donation on behalf of their cause, they won’t be taxed for it.
The Bottom Line
Cryptocurrency taxation is complicated, but far from impossible. In most cases, it serves an investor well to mentally frame it as property. In Bulletin 2014-21, the IRS states it as plainly as can be:
“For federal tax purposes, virtual currency is treated as property. General tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency.”
Beyond that, it’s on you to have the right people and programs in your corner. Do yourself a favor and find an accountant who has experience in the territory, and don’t hesitate to spend a few extra dollars on software that’ll help you organize your transactions on the fly.
If trading cryptocurrency is worth the risks, then surely a little safeguarding at tax time is worth the reward.
John Legend has won numerous Grammys and an Oscar for his music, but creating the LVE wine collection with Raymond Vineyards is another passion of his. One of his main aims with the collection? Making sure his wife Chrissy Teigen loves it.
ONE OF THE first things you notice about videos of calving glaciers is the utter absence of scale. The craggy chunks of ice that break away could be the size of football fields or cities or maybe even whole states—but without a point of reference it can be next to impossible to say. They are unintelligibly immense.
That perceptual effect happens in person, too. "There's no real way to determine its size just by looking at it," says New York University oceanographer David Holland, whose research team has spent a decade observing glacier behavior in Greenland. A distant, dislodged iceberg might look small at first glance, "but then you'll watch a helicopter fly towards it, and the helicopter will shrink and shrink and shrink and pretty soon it just disappears."
Which is why you probably can't tell that the newly born berg in this time-lapse video is in fact 4 miles wide, half a mile deep, and over a mile long. A sizable chunk of Greenland's Helheim glacier, it's roughly the size of lower Manhattan and weighs between 10 billion and 14 billion tons. When it dislodged from Helheim and crashed into the ocean on June 22, it accounted for some 3 percent of the ice that Greenland is expected to contribute to the sea in 2018 in the span of just 30 minutes. Much of Greenland's ice deposits will occur in dramatic, short-lived events such as this.
That's exactly why this video is so valuable to Holland, whose team is studying how calving glaciers could contribute to catastrophic sea-level rise across the globe. "Abrupt sea level change is only going to happen one way, and that's with some big part of western Antarctica becoming violently unstable due to calving—or not," he says. "If not, then there will not be major, abrupt sea level changes." And to model whether and how Antarctica might fall apart, you need to understand the rate and processes by which ice breaks off. Greenland's icebergs—including Helheim—serve as fabulous natural laboratories.
Glaciers often shed pieces of themselves, but only rarely do researchers capture large events on camera. In the course of his career, Holland has seen it happen just three times. (The largest calving ever filmed was shot during the production of the documentary Chasing Ice, on the 17th day of a glacier-watching stakeout.) "You can be out in the field for two weeks with your camera on and the glacier just sits there doing nothing," says Denise Holland, David's wife and the logistics coordinator for NYU’s Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi’s Center for Global Sea Level Change. But that kind of documentation is essential to understanding—and modeling—how and why glaciers calve.
Consider the video above, which begins with a big so-called tabular iceberg breaking off from the main part of Helheim glacier. Almost immediately thereafter, a second type of iceberg, called a pinnacle iceberg, can be seen calving off toward camera-right. The tabular iceberg is built like a pancake: large, flat, relatively stable. But the pinnacle berg has an aspect ratio like a slice of bread. Tall and skinny, it wants to lie down, so as it separates from the iceberg from the bottom first, its feet shoot forward out from under it as it slides into the sea. Sheets of pinnacle icebergs proceed to rip off from the glacier in sequence, driving the tabular berg farther down the fjord and breaking it into smaller chunks. "It's like a house of cards: One piece falls off, and the rest of the pieces peel off one after the other," David says. "It's complete chaos."
That chaos can be difficult to model. Look closely and you'll notice that not all of the pinnacle icebergs in this video detach from the bottom first. Some separate from the top, reflecting a different type of structural failure. Different structural failures occur at different rates. If you don't know what those rates are, it's hard to say how accurate your models are.
"If you're going to project sea levels, you need to pass through the eye of the needle first and get the delivery of ice to the ocean correct—and that's not possible right now," David says. "It could be in the future, with more observation and more modeling, but this event had too much going on for anyone to responsibly say they could predict or understand what happened."
Until that future arrives, we'll have video like this one to remind us of the enormous complexity—and just plain enormity—of calving glaciers.
A comprehensive plan to drawdown our emissions and reverse climate change. Based on Project Drawdown, a groundbreaking book profiling the 80 solutions available to us now to stop climate change and reverse global warming, edited by Paul Hawken.