Johnny Carson once joked that a New York minute is the length of time between when the traffic light turns green and the person behind you starts to honk.
Carson’s definition takes a jab at the stereotype that New Yorkers are impatient and perpetually in a hurry. But what is the real definition of a “New York minute”?
What is a New York Minute, after all?
The general consensus among the internet folk (from whom only the most reliable idiom-related knowledge is garnered) is that the phrase “New York minute” references the fast pace of life in New York City. Life on Manhattan Island is seen as subjectively faster than the speed in the rest of the world — so a minute in New York must go by much faster than a minute anywhere else.
Thus, “a New York minute” became a slang phrase indicating a thing that happens very quickly.
Whence “A New York Minute”?
The complete story of its origin — and the clever lad or lass who first uttered it — is lost in some undocumented conversation from several decades ago.
However, several websites claim the idiom originated in Texas around the 1960s, a shortened version of the phrase “A New Yorker does in an instant what it would take a Texan a whole minute to do.”
Of course, this phrase could go both ways — perhaps it’s not New Yorkers who’re fast, but Texans who’re slow.
There is, however, an earlier antecedent! The phrase appeared in print in 1954 referencing not a length of time, but an eensy-weensy little French poodle. The diminutive doggy was said to be “no bigger than a New York minute.”
That example, too, comes from a Texas source. Where, as everyone knows, they like things bigger. (Minutes, apparently, included!)
Does anyone else sense a little Texas-New York rivalry in this particular bit of horological slang?
For further idiom reference fun, see…
“New York Minute” by Don Henley (performed by The Eagles), a song about appreciating what you have in the present moment, since life can change so quickly (“in a New York minute, everything can change”)
American Airlines commercial starring James Gandolfini, about the hectic pace of New York life (and featuring the Johnny Carson joke mentioned above)
“New York Minute” by French Montana, sampling the Don Henley song above, and also suggesting the speed at which life can change
New York Minute, a teen comedy about a life-changing 24-hour period in the lives of twin sisters
That time of year when the year’s almost run out, the time of year to look back on the past 12 months and beat ourselves up for not following through with the starry-eyed resolutions we made to lose weight, earn more money, and be less of a slacker, this time last year!
I personally have had it up to here (throat-slicing motion) with unnecessary and unhelpful New Year’s resolutions.
But at the same time, I can’t help but be seduced by the mystical quality of the year’s end. The year really does seem new somehow, after all the smoke from the fireworks (and the hangover) clears. Things seem… fresh.
And with that freshness comes a brand new income tax folder, baby!
Our New Years’ alignment
Building and launching Freckle has been big part of our ramp-up plan for this new year, 2009. Our goal is to be self-supporting with products and online services by 2010.
At the same time, we know that we won’t be happy just being in business for sake of paying the mortgage (such as it were). We want to help people; we want to add a little joy back to working (ours and yours); we want to make things that people love.
We all enjoy consulting, but we’ve all longed to do our own thang, too. And now we’re doing it. Boy, does that feel great.
How about you?
2008—a crazy year for so many countries on this little globe.
Has it inspired you to make changes? Take stock? Dream big? Readjust? Right-size? Face down a challenge? Do better? Do more good?
The crowd is hushed. Four actors in black clothing with black hats stand straight on the darkened stage, head bowed. The spotlight turns to the fellow one from the left. He jerks, suddenly, from quiet stillness to violent motion, ripping off his hat and stomping on it.
OMGZ THE PASSWORD FIELD IS CLEAR TEXT? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT IN ADVANCE. GET REAL! YOU MUST BE KIDDIN ME!
The remaining three stir slowly from their own monolithic stillness. They turn their heads this way and that and whisper, almost to themselves. Your ears strain to hear. You’re not entirely sure to believe what your brain is telling you that you’re hearing—they are that quiet.
I liked it.
You reel a little, dizzy from the outburst and from the strain to hear the whispering.
You’ve just experienced the phenomenon of the (near) silent majority and the calamity howlers.
Meet the calamity howlers
A “calamity howler” is a persistently negative individual who predicts rack & ruin, frequently and at the top of his voice. It’s a great term that was especially popular in political writings back in the mid-to-late 1800′s but has since fell out of disuse.
I think this is a real shame and, if this isn’t your first day on the internet, I’m sure you understand why.
Calamity howlers in modern times
Among other, shall we say, strongly negative feedback we’ve received, we had at least one individual telling us we must be “fucking kidding him” because of our clear text password fields on the signup form.
On the subject of clear text credit card fields on the same form (and every other web app), he remained mum.
This man is a great example of a calamity howler. Just like people who tell us that if we only perform an auto-craniorectalectomy on our pricing scheme, he might consider signing up.
There’s just one problem with his theory.
Calamity howlers don’t become customers
And in the rare event that one does pony up money, you’ll soon regret taking it.
Anyone who feels so deeply wronged by a free service is going to feel even more wronged once he has paid for it.
Fake security vs Real security
We’re not going to change the fact that our password fields are clear text by default on signup.
Despite having expletives hurled at us (are expletives ever handed over gently?), and being told more politely that breaking convention is totally pointless.
Why did we even do it in the first place?
A simple reason: We hate the fake security theater surrounding web applications.
Real security is important to us: we keep your credit card data secure by not storing it ourselves—we leave that to the professionals of Authorize.net. They know what they’re doing with that stuff.
But fake security is our enemy. Fake security adds hurdles with no gain. With real security, the extra work is on us, to integrate with the credit card processing service. With fake security, the hurdles are for you, our customer: continuously logging in to applications that hardly contain sensitive nature (delicious, I’m looking at you), starred out password fields on registration that simply increase the chance of errors.
But, still, clear text password fields are not what everybody on the intertubes is trained to expect. Wouldn’t it be easier to just do what everyone else does?
The beauty of positive selection
Well, yes, it’d be easier. I wouldn’t be writing this article, for one. (At least not about this particular topic.)
But down that road madness lies!
People who like freckle like it because it’s different. That’s the reason we like it, too.
So when you first sign up, within the first few fields, you experience something different. Those password fields. The checkbox that lets you hide your password in case someone really is peeking over your shoulder (or you’re ultra paranoid).
If you’re like us, you hate those damn fake security password fields. And so when you come across our solution, you’ll smile. You might write us a nicelittlesomething about it.
You’re probably also going to like the rest of the app, too, because that little password field switcheroo is simply a small manifestation of our entire design philosophy.
If, on the other hand, you react like we just kicked your gramma in the teeth, you’re not going to like the app. It’s going to be one long elderly-face-kicking session for you.
So, sure, we could make the password fields back into what everyone else does to eliminate a part of the signup process that feels like a speed bump to some people. But that’d be almost like lying, wouldn’t it?
It’d be changing one projection of our design philosophy in order to entice people who aren’t going to like the rest of the app.
Folks like that will be happier with some other software in the time tracking space, the kind where you have to use 3 drop-down menus to select your client, then your project, and then your predefined task before you log your time. That will be comforting to them.
Why waste their time? Why waste ours?
We’d rather do what we think is right and let that be a line drawn in the sand for people who aren’t going to agree with us, anyway.
Otherwise we’re just going to have to take up gramma-kicking as a habit.
Do you enjoy a good gramma-kicking and other interface design intrigues? You should [subscribe][http://feeds.feedburner.com/freckletimetracking].
Well, folks, it’s T minus 2 days til L-day. Launch, that is. Which is on Monday. Today is Saturday. Yes.
Your freckle team is hard at work, burning the proverbial midnight oil! We use Campfire to stay in touch, talking about all the sorts of really important things you’d think we’d be talking about just a scant two days before freckle‘s world premiere.
argh, i just managed to hit a cut into my toe while walking upstairs. bleeding like a pig now :/
1. raise your left foot. 2. move left foot forward. 3. put left foot down. 4. raise your right foot. 5. move right foot forward. 6. put right foot down. 7. repeat from 1.
sounds easier than it is
hope it doesn’t get eitrig.
joe, i’m sorry you hurt yourself.
but i also feel less alone now!
you should do a social network for clumsy people
The secret’s out! Our next groundbreaking product: definitely a social network for clumsy people.
The corners? Rounded.
Time tracking is tedious? It's not you, it's your tools.
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