Super Smartphone

Apple A8

My first personal computer was an Apple II clone. It ran a MOS Technology 6502 processor and I also had a separate card with a Zilog Z80 processor. That second card allowed me to run Wordstar. The 6502 had 3,510 transistors and the Z80 had 8,500 transistors. The 6502 had a clock speed of 1 MHz and the computer boasted 4 KB of RAM. I ran that setup in the early 1980s

In 1984, I purchased the original IBM PC. It ran on the Intel 8088 microprocessor and it featured 29,000 transistors.

I remember touring Digital Equipment‘s fab plant in Hudson, Massachusetts in the mid-1990s. This plant fabricated the Alpha 21164A chip. An impressive technological achievement for a RISC processor. It featured about 10 million transistors.

I also remember being awestruck as Intel kept putting more and more transistors on a microprocessor. In 2000, the Pentium 4 offered over 40 million transistors.

Someone passed me this slideshare deck. And it made this observation:

A new iPhone CPU has 625 times more transistors than a 1995 Pentium. iPhone launch weekend: Apple sold 25 times more CPU transistors than were in all the PCs on Earth in 1995.

Inside the iPhone 6 is an Apple A8 microprocessor. It is a 64-bit system on a chip.

It contains 2 billion transistors.

2 billion.

The DECO has Landed


As described here, the recall notice for the Strymon DECO pedal resulted in a confused shipment when Fedex directed the package to Montreal as opposed to California.

I had started to doubt whether the box would make it all the way to Strymon.

I received confirmation today that the pedal did arrive safe and sound. Hopefully it will be a quick turnaround. Although I did not have it on the board for very long, I really, really liked the sounds from the unit. The DECO is my fourth pedal from Strymon. They are a great company with excellent customer service.

Here is the email that I had received from them on October 15th:

Hi Richard,

Thanks so much for your recent Deco Tape Saturation & Doubletracker purchase. We hope you’re enjoying your new pedal. We’d like to let you know about some features we’ve recently added to Deco.

Since we released Deco, we’ve discovered that there is more interest in studio usage than we had originally anticipated. We want to provide the best possible experience for those who may be using Deco in studio environments, and in setups where a hot input signal is present (synth, very hot effects loop, etc). Given that, we have implemented a new selectable Studio Mode power-up option, which specifically tailors the Tape Saturation range for those applications.

Additionally, to better accommodate players with low output guitar pickups and light playing style, we have extended the range of overdriven saturation at the tail end of the Saturation knob.

We are offering to update your pedal under warranty. While the update is not required, we do recommend it for the best possible experience. We will cover the cost of expedited shipping both ways. If you’d like the update, please reply to this email and let us know. Be sure to tell us your t-shirt size so we can send you a complementary Strymon t-shirt back with your updated Deco. We will have your pedal back to you very quickly!

It’s never fun admitting that we didn’t get it quite right, but we certainly want to ensure that all of our customers have the best experience possible with our gear. We’ll make sure you are taken care of as expeditiously as possible.

Thanks again for your support :)

The Strymon Team

Mental Toughness

I am in month ten of a program with Precision Nutrition. I enrolled in the program primarily to get a better handle on nutrition and to improve my level of fitness for cycling.

When I first started, I thought the program was going to be focused primarily on food and exercise. Which it was in the beginning. But it became far more than just a fitness program.

One area in particular came to the forefront for me: mental toughness. But not in the way that I have framed mental toughness over most of my life.

I am driven by two pretty intense factors: obligation and guilt. And everything that I accomplish is never, ever good enough. So the pattern of obligation and guilt drives a set of behaviours and it often leads to a significant level of personal stress. Those behaviours? Discipline. Focus. Intensity. High standards.

Someone on the Precision Nutrition program had sent in a question about how to better develop mental toughness. Something that I have been struggling with personally. The reply surprised me.

You don’t need more strictness, or higher expectations, or goals. The strictness, expectations, and goals…they’re usually the problem, not the solution.

I was encouraged to think about self-compassion. And specifically, the message of self-compassion from Kristin Neff.

It really made me think about how important it is to get right about yourself so that you can be right with others.

Here is the full response:

Q: Hey John, Can you recommend any books on mental toughness?

A: I have an answer. But, unfortunately, it’ll feel pretty dissatisfying. Go with it anyway. Trust me

Read Self-Compassion, by Kristin Neff.

Truth is, I really dislike the word “self-compassion”. So the title would turn me off. But, here’s the thing, I could care less about the book. What’s important is the mental model.

You see, there are lots of books out there on mental toughness. And I’ve read a bunch.

But a lot of the mental toughness stuff doesn’t address the underlying problem – which is almost NEVER “toughness”.

Of course, I know what you’re asking this. “Why is my ‘willpower’ so weak? Why don’t I have the ‘discipline’ to follow through? Why do I always ‘break the rules’?”

But here’s the thing: “mental toughness” just imposes more rules. More self-flagellation. More beating yourself up.

And that’s not what anyone needs, especially you.

You don’t need more strictness, or higher expectations, or goals. The strictness, expectations, and goals…they’re usually the problem, not the solution.

Truth is, the standards you have for yourself, in your head, are already higher and probably weirder than any mental toughness coach could give you.

So perhaps it’s time to try THE OPPOSITE approach.

Instead of beating yourself up for not being the “type of person” strong enough to “avoid cookies” or whatever. Why not discover what type of person you are? Why not try to deeply align who you are, your goals, and your behaviors?

In a weird way, “self-compassion” – again, hate the word but it works here – is the foundation for “mental toughness”.

My friend, Krista Scott-Dixon even argues that this is the “toughest” mental exercise of all.

You see, true self compassion requires brutal honesty and clarity. You have to see yourself – for real – and still make the decision to move forward.

Goal-setting, planning, “toughing it out”…a lot of that is just a diversion from the really hard work of getting clear on who you are and what you want.

Obviously I’ve thought a lot about this. It’s what we do every day at Precision Nutrition.

Real coaching. Not just a bunch of BS “don’t eat cookies” rules. And more “mental toughness” exercises.

So take this for what it is…a thoughtful suggestion based on years – and 30,000 clients – of experience.

And, remember, in the end, maybe this will help…maybe not. We all see words and actions differently.

However, I do think it’s important that you reorient your mind around this challenge of yours. Because the issue you bring up isn’t about discipline. It’s about something else.

And until you figure out what that is, you’ll just be stuck in a perpetual loop of asking “how come I’m not tough enough?”. Then “trying to be tough” (whatever that means). They failing to live up to some crazy expectations. Then feeling guilty. Then circling back to the beginning.

And, all the way, you’ll bear the scars that you inflict upon yourself through continually beating yourself up. Both physically and emotionally.

So, yea, try the self-compassion book. Or something like it. I think it’ll be a game changer. This may sound corny…but be good to yourself, man!

Lost In Transit


Voice mail:

Hey Richard. It’s Studio Economik calling. We got our package back but it’s the wrong box. It has a guitar pedal in it. And the word DECO on the box.

I had rented some recording equipment from Studio Economik. Loomis had picked the package up on Monday to return it to Studio Economik.

And I had sent my Strymon DECO pedal back for warranty work. Fedex picked that unit up on Wednesday.

How on earth did the Fedex shipment, bound for California, wind up in Montreal? And where did Loomis send Studio Economik’s equipment?

When we called Loomis to pick up the package to send back to Studio Economik, they quoted a shipping cost that was double the rate that I was charged for shipping by Studio Economik. How can that be? Well, we don’t have a special deal with Loomis. But Studio Economik does. So we called Studio Economik and asked them if they would call back the unit so that we would be charged the cheaper rate.

Sure thing.

That was on Monday. And on Monday evening, Loomis collected the package as we had already arranged the pickup when the package was first delivered by Loomis.

Great. Rental unit on its way back to Studio Economik in Montreal as planned.

Also on Monday evening, I received a note from Strymon telling me that I would soon receive an email from Fedex to return my DECO pedal for warranty work. The good folk at Strymon may have rushed this pedal to market and there is no mechanism on that pedal to do a firmware update.

Fine. They will update the unit and they are paying the shipping both ways. No worries.

I received the email from Fedex at around 8:30pm on the Monday evening with instructions to print the label.

Fedex called our home on Tuesday to pick up the package. Lorraine told them that it would have to wait until Wednesday as I wasn’t home and there wasn’t a package ready for pickup.

When I got home later that evening, Lorraine told me that Fedex had called for the package.

Wow. They are really efficient. I had only just received the email from them the night before.

I prepared the DECO for return including the shipping label and the packing slip. I packed it in a larger box and filled the gaps with packing material.

All ready to go.

We called Fedex and they picked up the DECO pedal on Wednesday.

And, on Thursday, Studio Economik received the DECO pedal.

What wound up happening is that Studio Economik did not call Loomis. They called Fedex. Loomis came to pick up the package on Monday because we had pre-arranged the pickup and they were also expecting to get the call back from Studio Economik. And that did not happen. Loomis was the original courier that Studio Economik had used to ship the equipment to our home. So Loomis, quite rightly, held the package waiting for Studio Economik to call back.

Fedex called us because Studio Economik had called them that we had a package for pickup. Which we did. The only problem is that Fedex didn’t tell us who had called them to pick up the package. We assumed it was for the Strymon DECO. So when Fedex called, we handed over the DECO package.

Fedex ignored the existing Fedex label because, after all, Studio Economik had called them to pick up a package for delivery to Studio Economik. Ignore the shipping label on the box. It does not need to go all the way to California.

As we speak, Loomis has finally received the call back from Studio Economik. And my DECO pedal? Well, the original shipping label is still on the package so Studio Economik is going to ship it to Strymon from their location.

I hope the DECO pedal makes it.