If you want to be a better product manager, don’t be the person with all the answers — be the person with all the questions

A picture of a question mark
A picture of a question mark
Picture: alexanderdrachmann (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“How would you improve the Daily Mail?”

I was stumped. The question was impossible to answer. I was 23 years old and was in the middle of an interview for a scholarship to a prestigious postgraduate journalism school (I didn’t get it) and was being grilled by a panel of academics and journalists. And they had just asked me the killer question.

The Daily Mail was and still is the second-biggest selling newspaper in the UK. Barring print strikes, the biggest public holidays, and the odd war, it has sold more than 1.5 million copies to the middle-classes of the…

A photograph of the William Hill shop in Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London
A photograph of the William Hill shop in Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London
William Hill, Kingston-upon-Thames (photograph: Google Maps)

Outside in Castle Street, in this busy shopping district in south-west London, two taxi drivers are having a heated argument. Things are quieter behind the glass frontage of number 3. In fact, no-one is saying anything, apart from the detached voice solemnly intoning the results of the 1.15 from Walthamstow.

The rest of the people in the shop are silently contemplating just how much they’ve contributed this afternoon to the William Hill benevolent fund. Saturday afternoons are the best time of the week for a bookie, with plenty of weekend sports fixtures. …


That’s the short answer, but the longer answer is an examination of something I talk about a lot on Twitter, which is that, by and large, journalists are very bad at maths and numbers.

(A note: Muphry’s Law dictates that I will make at least one number mistake in this post, so let me apologise in advance for that.)

If you want to just see the working, skip to the heading “Did 140,000 women lose their jobs?” at the end.

I noticed this striking claim today in a tweet about a New York Times story. The story itself is well…

The owner of one of wartime Britain’s brightest minds was born one hundred years ago today

Leo Marks, pictured in his book, Between Silk and Cyanide

Leo Marks was born on 24 September 1920, which means that today would have been his hundredth birthday. In all the (appropriate) celebration of Alan Turing, it sometimes feels as though we forget that Turing was not a sole genius (genius though he was) who cracked the German wartime codes alone. There were others, both at Bletchley Park and beyond, who did extraordinary and ground-breaking work on codes, some of which, like Turing’s work, paved the way for the modern information age. Leo Marks was unquestionably one of those people.

I’ve been fascinated by Marks ever since I read about…

I was wondering whether the prices of the most recent top-end (£1,100) PC graphics cards have really been cratering after the announcement of new ones. If you don’t want the pre-amble, you can skip to the cross-head “Are people really selling off their old cards at rock-bottom prices?” in the middle of the piece.

Sometimes I can’t help delving back into some tech journalism. I’ve been looking at new graphics card prices for a few months, after deciding it was time to replace the one in my ailing computer.

A GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (pic: Nvidia)

There’s been a lot of talk over that time about waiting…

A headline image of a typewriter
A headline image of a typewriter
Image credit: Anthony Dhanendran — made with Adobe Spark

I recently read this piece in The Verge in which senior editor Tom Warren enthuses about his toaster. In it, he describes how well the toaster is designed “for humans” and he starts by saying: “I write about and review cutting edge tech products for a living, yet every time I pick up a new piece of hardware I always think about my toaster.” In fact, the article is headlined: “All tech products should be designed like my toaster”.

I interviewed Devendra Banhart backstage before his first UK gig, at west London’s Bush Hall on 12 April 2003

Devendra Banhart in Minneapolis in October 2003 (Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article first appeared at pennyblackmusic, which is where since 2005 almost all my music writing has got its first publication. I’m eternally grateful to PB and its editor John Clarkson for so many years of publishing me.

Bush Hall is a very strange place to hold a gig. A mock-Baroque ballroom built for no apparent reason on the Uxbridge Road west of Shepherd’s Bush, later converted into a snooker hall, it was recently reconverted into a music venue.

But then Devendra Banhart is probably just the right musician for such a venue. His album, Oh Me Oh My…, is…

In a break from the norm, I’m returning to writing step-by-step technical workshops for the first time in 10 years.

A recent glut of conference calls and all-remote stand-ups and company gatherings has reminded me that the options that can help you set up a big Skype for Business presentation are slightly hidden.

Skype for Business contains some very useful features for holding large meetings and presentations (I’m going to use the two terms interchangeably, and I’m referring to the type of meeting in which a small number of people are expected to do most of the talking or presenting…

How I came to own Maggie’s Last Supper, a piece of Spitting Image history

http://newamusements.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-living-spit.html (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

In the olden days (2010) when I didn’t have children and therefore had some money, I used to work in Soho and used to walk past Andrew Edmunds’ restaurant and art gallery on Lexington Street every day.

The restaurant is particularly wonderful — when someone recently asked on Twitter which restaurant one might choose to be in to see out the apocalypse, Andrew Edmunds is what I chose — but the gallery is a delight too.

It’s fair to say that I didn’t go in very much, but one day in 2010 I was walking past it and something caught…

The picture above is of the website of Edward Davey (now Sir Edward Davey, former cabinet minister) as he tried to win re-election in the 2001 general election.

I found it while looking for information about Cix, the old bulletin board service that was based where I now live. It turns out that if you search “Cix” and “Surbiton” one of the first sites returned is Ed Davey’s re-election site.

It’s not quite Space Jam, but it is an interesting look at how websites looked then. To be honest, what was most surprising was that a site from 19 years…

Anthony Dhanendran

I used to be a journalist. Now I’m a product manager.

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