Your life’s work: 400 Miles of Hair

Why hasn’t anyone put this accomplishment on their tombstone?

unsure young woman scratching her head

The average human has 100,000 follicles of hair on their head.[1]
Each hair grows roughly .44mm a day.[2]

So the average person grows 44,000mm or 44 meters of hair a day.
That’s roughly the height of the world’s average tree.[3]

The average US person born today will live 78.74 years. [4]

If you grow a tree’s height of hair everyday and we assume you are at peak hair-growing for half your life (if only I were so lucky), you’d grow 39.37 years worth of tree-height-hairs.

That’s 14,370 44 meters (145 foot) tall hairs.

If you are a hoarder and saved each of those hairs laid them end to end the resulting hair would be 2,083,650 feet or 395 miles long.

(You could also trim them each day but then you’d have nearly 1.5 billion .44mm tiny hair trimmings.)

So if one day you are lucky enough to be invited to the White House to show off your life’s work of hair growing, you could start laying them out in the Oval Office and by the time you were done laying them end to end you’d be able to reach Faniuel Hall in Boston MA. [5]

*This does not factor in really hairy people, bald people or back-hair.


This post is another back of the envelope post like You’ll Spend 3.5 Days of Your Life Untangling Your Headphones. Follow me on Facebook to never miss one.


You’ll Spend 3.5 Days of Your Life Untangling Headphones

Now instead of just being frustrated that my headphones are always tangled, I’ll get to enjoy knowing I’m wasting a few days of my life.




Time Untangling Each Day I Wear Headphones

Untangle 4 times a day.

3 quick untangles, 1 long untangle.

Quick untangle: 4 seconds.

Long untangle: 20 seconds.

32 seconds a day.


How Often I Wear Headphones

Wear headphones 6 days a week.

Starting 8 years ago.

Working for another 30 years.

9,360 headphone wearing days.


The Results

299,520 seconds untangling headphones.

4,992 minutes.

83.2 hours.

Nearly 3 and a half days (3.4666)!

Chugging Facebook at 54,000 Miles an Hour

In college we took a tour of the Anheiser-Busch factory in Merrimack, NH. 

It was an amazing operation watching the brewing, filling, labeling and quality control but the best part for me was the final step of the production line where 30-packs of fully packaged Bud Light were zipping by back to back at 20 miles an hour. 

I asked our guide how often the operation worked like this and was blown away when he told me “all three shifts”. 

I had to clarify “you mean 24 hours a day?”

“Yes.” Came the reply. “365 days a year, the line is shipping beer like this.”

This was stunning into itself but absolutely floored me when I realized that meant New England had to be drinking beer at that same speed!

Basically the 8 tiny states this factory shipped to where on the other end of a giant beer funnel shooting 30 packs into their mouths faster than most people can run. 

Yesterday we broke down a quick back of the envelope estimation of how much Facebook timeline is made each day: 1,300,000 miles. 

Today I realized we could look at it in the same way as that assembly line which means, if we were printing the Facebook timeline in real time we’d be printing a sheet of a paper moving at 54,000 miles an hour. 

That’s 10x the speed of sound and 15 miles per second. 

If each thumb swipe gave you a new 4″ of content you’d need to be swiping 310,000 times per second to keep up. 

Want to know just how fast that is? Here’s a video that starts a 4 hertz and goes up to 300,000. Imagine each cycle is a thumbswipe!

A Million Miles of Facebook a Day

Ed Note: For some reason my brain is always asking crazy random questions. And for some reason I like to try and figure them out. For a long time I’d just do them on the back of an envelope, but figured why not share them with the world. 

What do you think? Have something you’d like me to sketch on the back of an envelope? Tweet it to me at @aten!


I was browsing Facebook the other day and lost a post. I knew I had seen it earlier but wanted to find it again. So I started scrolling. And scrolling. AND SCROLLING.

And I wondered: If Facebook was actually printed how much Facebook would people scroll each day? So I tried to figure it out.

1 Billion people use Facebook everyday [1].
The spend 20 minuntes on average [1].
So humanity is spending about 10 Billion minutes on Facebook a day [2].

I’d guess about 1/2 of that time is on the timeline (vs Reading stories or looking at pictures) [2] so approx 5 Billion minutes a day are spent on the timeline [2].

If people look at  each screen for 5 seconds [3] before flipping to the next screen we get 25 Billion screens of content a day [4].

The average phone has a screen height of 3.5” [3] (and I’m totally ignoring desktop here).

So people are scrolling something like 87.5 billion inches of virtual screens every day.

Which is roughly:
1.3M miles or 56 times around the earth every day [4].


[1] Actual Number
[2] Calculated from Actual Numbers
[3] Ed Estimate
[4] Calculation includes Estimates

App Store Screenshot Template for iPhone Screenshots

TLDR: Here’s the easiest way to make screenshots for the App Store for iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+.

Screenshot 2015-12-02 21.04.10

When we first shipped the Merchbar iPhone app, we were way deep into shipping before we realized we needed demo screenshots for the App Store.

I decided to roll with the punch and make it happen, but 97% of my hope was destroyed when I realized I was going to have to make 5 separate images in 4 different sizes.

Maybe I could just make the larger size and that would work for all of them?


Maybe I could make one version and just scale them down?

No such luck (they have different aspect ratios).

So I got out my coarse sandpaper and decided to grind through it.

All was good until the last minute when I realized I had a typo and had to go update it on 4 different documents and then export each screenshot individually.

I went to head to table over that one (not really).

So when we did v2 of the app I put together a handy action to help you make iPhone App Store Screenshots and wrote about it.

But this time I went back to the drawing board and did it right with Photoshops new Art Board feature.

Now for your ease, pleasure and enjoyment tap here to check out the easiest way to make App Store Screenshots in all the sizes you need.

Totally free. Totally fun. Totally free of that head on table thing.

Fear: Our National Relgion

I found this essay from Grateful Dead lyricist and EFF Founder John Perry Barlow 15 or 20 years ago as I wandered around the loosely connected, barely organized morass of pages that was the internet of the mid 90s[1].

One section in particular was instantly memorized – A few lines that I now repeat in my brain on a nearly daily basis:

So we have erected a glowing altar in the center of our lives that feeds on our terror, and Fear has become our national religion.

Continue reading

The Saul Bass’ Bell Systems Brand Redesign Pitch Video [1970]

Jeff Schox put me on to this amazing Saul Bass pitch detailing his proposed rebrand for The Bell System (now AT&T) in 1970.

(skip to ~9:50 if you want to skip the fun stuff and get right to the meat)

It is an amazing postcard from the pseudo-psycedellic era of business with far out visuals, ambitious goals and “unique” perspectives that seems suited to the wind-down of the hippie generation.

The project itself is amazing too – at the time representing the largest rebrand ever. Not just a new logo, but a comprehensive review of the company’s identity – both through iconography, color-play and even functional redesign of products, apparel and other ways employees and customers interact with the brand.

In the end the rebrand would update 135,000 Bell System vehicles, 22,000 buildings, 1,250,000 phone booths and 170,000,000 telephone directories.

The video contains several gems on brand philosophy from the brand-master behind Girl Scouts of America, Minolta and others. Here’s one of many on different logo types, their positives and drawbacks:

We can break-through and at the same time help unclutter the visual environment. Quietly. With a look of excellence. beginning with a trademark.

There are three basic categories of trademark: monochromatic form, logo type form, and the symbol logo type form. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Monochromatic form’s strength is that it’s simple, concise, quickly identified. Its weakness is that the viewer must first be taught what the letters stand for before they make sense, otherwise it blends into the environment as so much alphabet soup.

The strength of the second category, the logo type form, is that the name of the company is itself trademark. But it has a weakness; lettering that is easy to read gets lost in the typographic environment.

Try to make it stand out by stylizing it and you lose legibility.

To help solve this dilemma some companies surround their logo types with a geometric shape, but shapes being generic can never be unique.

The third category of trademarks, AT&T and the Bell companies use now; the symbol logo type form. It has several strengths:

The symbol creates the uniqueness of the mark so the lettering in the logo type can remain clear an easy to read. With an organization like ours, composed of many companies, the symbol becomes a flag, uniting the company’s into a single organization.

By itself logo type is just another word in a sea of words, but combined the symbol serves as a focal point directing attention to the name. This form of trademark as its weaknesses too, such as requiring the use of two elements; the symbol and the logo type.

All in all, it’s right for the Bell System.

Follow me on Twitter at @Aten. Interested in building a great consumer brand? Join us at Merchbar.