Just because cars have lasted a century, that does not mean they’re here to stay, that does not mean they’re not ripe for disruption. Cars are the newspapers of today. Something oldsters can’t live without and youngsters can.
The basic premise is you’ve got to go. How you get there is irrelevant. Furthermore, the costs of car ownership…the insurance and the gas, never mind the maintenance, none of them appeal to a youngster who believes all costs should be baked in.
A common mistake is thinking that just because something has been around for a long time, it’s impervious to disruption. If anything, the long incumbency makes it more ripe for disruption. Everything — everything — eventually gets disrupted.
(And yes, I now hate using the word “disruption” as much as everyone else because it has basically been neutered of meaning and turned into pure marketing. But it’s simply the best term here.)
Oh, fucking horse shit. “Kids don’t care about cars” says guy who provides absolutely no evidence to support that conclusion other than saying that “kids today hate hidden fees”.
"Kids don’t care about cars" explains why the TV show Top Gear is so popular with kids. Because they fucking hate cars!
This is being reblogged because it’s super popular right now to predict that some vapory new product category is going to completely disrupt an existing market because someone in a big city thinks that everyone else lives in a big city and they can’t see 5 miles beyond their own stupid lifestyle.
Is it possible to build a better car? Of course. Does that mean kids don’t care about cars? Only if you’re a dumbass.
Qwilt's Sin of Omission Regarding Apple and Amazon
Last week, media outlets were abuzz with news that Amazon was claiming to have passed Apple as the third largest video service site, coming in behind Netflix and YouTube.
Here’s The Verge, reporting on the news:
Amazon’s been trying to turn Instant Video into a major player in the streaming space, and it looks like its dedication is starting to pay off: Amazon says that Prime video streams have nearly tripled year over year, and it cites video-delivery firm Qwilt to say that Instant Video is now the third largest video site overall, behind Netflix and YouTube.
That’s a fairly representative blurb about Qwilt’s numbers and Amazon’s willingness to cite them in a press release.
The accompanying blog post included pro-Amazon hyperbole.
The included infographic provided no useful comparative data but does include a picture of an Amazon-branded rocket ship next to a skyrocketing arrow.
Here’s some sample language (emphasis mine):
If Amazon says they will boil the ocean, better run to the beach and hop in fast before the water is scalding…
The growth of Amazon continues to amaze and confound Wall Street. CEOs across the globe marvel at Amazon”s insatiable appetite for new markets, new products and new revenue…
Amazon”s traffic volumes, as measured by Qwilt in March of 2014, increased by 94% over the previous 12 months. In some US operator networks, between March 2013 and March 2014, Amazon”s streaming video traffic increase was nearly 300%…
Of course, on seeing these developments, we smile knowingly and approvingly…
Despite the red flags and obvious questions regarding bias, Qwilt’s claims were widely reported as a major win for Amazon in the streaming space.
I immediately questioned the findings (and the subsequent rush to report) on Twitter:
I’m fucking shocked that people (ahem, @verge) are reporting on this @qwilt claim without questioning the data 04/08/14
The fact that @amazon cited an @qwilt report with unofficial numbers rather than providing official numbers is a HUGE red flag. 04/08/14
@Mark1Fisher Where is the underlying data on this claim? 04/08/14
Qwilt’s Mark Fisher eventually responded (both on Twitter and in the comments on his blog post) with a promise to reveal the underlying data, which was eventually tacked on as an update to the original post.
As I expected, the story gets less interesting for Amazon as soon as you see the data, which I’ve summarized in a chart:
Yes — based on Qwilt’s data — Amazon did in fact pass Apple to take the third spot behind Netflix and YouTube but the more reasonable takeaway to report is that there’s Netflix and YouTube — and then there’s everyone else. (Granted, it was impossible to know that, let alone report that, without demanding the underlying data, which no one bothered to do.)
Indeed, Qwilt’s data reveals that Amazon’s movement isn’t the most interesting shift from 2013 to 2014, which just makes Fisher’s hyperbole all the more obnoxious:
Netflix increased its percentage from 52.5% to 57.5% in one year. (This means there’s a 54.5% gap in 2014 between #1 Netflix and #3 Amazon that isn’t discoverable in Qwilt’s initial post.)
YouTube dropped from 28.2% to 16.9% in one year. (This 11.3% drop is impossible to glean by reading Qwilt’s initial post.)
Even though Amazon passed Apple to reach #3, Twitch (what the hell is Twitch?) also passed Apple to climb to #5, pushing Apple back to #6. (Twitch wasn’t even ranked in Qwilt’s 2013 top 10 and isn’t mentioned at all in the original blog post. Indeed, Qwilt included a top 5 graphic — sans underlying data — that includes Apple while omitting Twitch.)
HBO Go did not rank in Qwilt’s 2013 top 10, but has moved to 0.5% in 2014. (This increase is not evident in Qwilt’s initial post.)
Apple actually gained 0.2%, even as it lost two spots on Qwilt’s list.
Keep in mind that Apple doesn’t actually provide a one-to-one competitor to Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, both of which are subscription models that provide all-you-can watch access to a curated library of video content. Apple (currently) only provides rental and purchase options for individual titles from a curated library.
It’s also worth noting that Qwilt offers absolutely no data about how people are watching any of this content: Netflix streams are attributed to Netflix but Qwilt does not break down those streams by device.
This means that it’s entirely possible that more Amazon Instant Video content is streamed from Apple’s iDevices than is streamed from Amazon’s Kindle devices.
It’s also not clear how any of this data relates to revenue or profit: Does Netflix make more than Amazon who makes more than Apple, or does Apple (due to a rental/purchase model) bring in more money than Amazon despite a drop to #6 in 2014?
My guess is that Qwilt is another company in a long line of companies that knows that headlines that lead with Apple draw more attention than headlines that lead with virtually any other company. If it takes a little data manipulation (a snip here and the failure to mention Twitch there) in order to get the emphasis tuned juuuuuuust right for maximum page views, well, why not?
Especially if no media outlet is going to question the results?
The reviews are in: Amazon's Turd Generation Fire TV
I’ve not found a “recommend” review yet, but here are some highlights from the Tom’s Guide review, which seems representative:
To add other entertainment sources, such as Netflix, YouTube or Pandora, you have to download the apps to Fire TV and log in to each account.
Seems kind of dumb, but it makes sense when you get to the bigger problem: Fire TV comes with 8GB of non-expandable storage and only 5.5 GB (more on this later) of that is usable.
The Watch List and Video Library items also include only Amazon content. To get to any other source, such as Netflix or Crackle, you need to go down to the Apps menu and then select Your Apps Library to finally get outside the world of Amazon. And here, entire content networks such as Hulu Plus get jumbled in with individual games you have purchased, even though there is another main menu item just for games.
All apps are equal, some apps are just more equal than others.
In our tests, Amazon’s voice-recognition tech understood us very well, as long as it knew what to expect. Specifically, voice recognition currently works only with content that is in Amazon’s catalog and titles on music-video site Vevo. For now, at least, it can’t help you with YouTube or Netflix. For that majority of cases, Fire TV also has a hunt-and-peck text search.
Weird that this didn’t come up in Amazon’s launch event. (Or, maybe it did and it just didn’t come through in any of the live blog feeds.) At any rate, marketing a device as “better” because it features an amazing way to search for content but not making that “better” way work universally (or much at all, it seems) is a goofy choice. Though, it is a very Amazon choice.
Fire TV’s music offerings are even slimmer. The device will support Amazon’s own music service in May.
It baffles me that Amazon launched a media box that doesn’t yet have access to some of Amazon’s own content. For this reason alone — but the lack of universal support for voice search also come to mind — I believe Amazon launched sooner than they had originally planned to get out in front of a (still hypothetical) 4th Generation Apple TV reveal.
Parents can also set time limits for when and how long kids can watch. With the $3/month per child or $7 per family for Amazon Prime subscribers (or $5/$10 for nonmembers.)
So, on top of $99 for the box, on top of $99 per year for prime, there’s another $3-$10 per month cost for a curated selection of kid’s content?
And if you have purchased a title for Kindle Fire or even a regular Android device, you will get the Fire TV version for free if and when one comes out.
That’s actually a good (if obvious) deal. The real problem I have with gaming on this thing is that 5.5 GB of usable free space is pathetically low for any device that features “games” as a selling point. There’s a USB port on the back that Amazon currently says supports no accessories, but when and if it ever does, one of them better be an external hard drive. (More money to spend to make this thing usable, alas.)
Reading the reviews, my first reaction after the launch event still seems to hold up: This would have been an amazing device had it been released alongside or after either the 1st or 2nd generation Apple TV.
It’s didn’t, though — it’s launching two years after the 3rd generation Apple TV, and doesn’t even seem to be much better than that, and it costs more.
($99 for Fire TV + $99/year for Prime subscription + $39 for Game Controller + $3/month for FreeTime subscription. That’s a lot of add on.)
The curious case of Florian Mueller's shifting biases
Disclosure: I work for a law firm, though I am not a lawyer. My only interest in patent litigation is that I follow Apple. I do have a more-than-lay-knowledge of the litigation process, due to almost 10 years of creative work in the industry. (I’ve personally attended between 30 and 40 trials over that span of years.)
Throughout Apple v. Samsung (the first), I was a close follower of Florian Mueller’s trial coverage over on Foss Patents. I discovered his content as a result of a search that was prompted by the dearth of quality trial coverage at conventional tech sites like The Verge and Gizmodo. (Most tech sites / tech reporters have no idea what is important or truly informative about day-to-day litigation issues and they thus tend to fall back on coverage that strives to find the TV drama moments in any given case.)
I was drawn to Mueller’s coverage because he seemed to understand the litigation process, and despite a seeming pro-Apple bias, he wrote from a “the facts and nothing but the facts” perspective. He was fair, because the facts don’t tend to take sides.
Lately, though, something has seemed off with his coverage. Admittedly, he sort of dropped off my radar in between trials because (as I mentioned) patent litigation in and of itself doesn’t interest me. I’ve checked in, but not regularly. It wasn’t until I became a once again regular reader as Apple v. Samsung (the second) began to ramp up that I first began to get a sense of the changing winds.
Philip Elmer-DeWitt — another reporter who is on the Apple beat — posted an article this morning that touches on the change in tone of Mueller’s coverage. (“What’s eating Florian Mueller?”) Apparently, I am not the only person to notice that something is amiss:
I asked Mueller about this charge in a March 18 e-mail: “I’ve noticed a change in the tone of your last two pieces, and I’m not the only one. Is there something I should know — or you should disclose — about your client list?”
It’s worth noting that Elmer-DeWitt steps lightly around the accusation in the article, but it’s captured in the URL: Payola.
I suppose it’s possible that Mueller is accepting money from someone, but what I’ve noticed is slightly different, as I tweeted a few days ago:
So, @FOSSpatents used to be a great site. Mueller has been sneaking himself into his analysis more and more, and it’s now far less for it.
For the record, I don’t really care if Florian Mueller is biased towards Samsung or Android and if he is, I hope that was always the case. My only interest was in finding someone who reports on litigation matters with knowledge and focus. I, for one, have a strong Apple bias and I’m a huge fan of John Gruber’s Daring Fireball. On the other hand, I’m also a daily reader of Paul Thurrot’s Supersite for Windows because (despite his complete tone deafness concerning everything Apple) he knows Windows as well as anyone and he writes with clarity on that subject.
The problem with Fox News isn’t that they’re biased, it’s that they’re willing to be glaringly misleading and shady in an effort to protect their bias. On top of that, they’re constantly whining about being called out for it.
With all that in mind, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There’s nothing wrong with having and embracing a bias, as long as you’re consistently right about the facts. The more biased you are, the more important it is to be right.
(I also think that consistency in bias is important, especially if you’ve been accused of being bought in the past. I’ve soured a bit on MG Siegler’s ParisLemon for a similar lack of consistency that seems to have been brought on by a conflict. If someone is biased, I want them to come by it honestly. I can’t abide the thought that Mueller or Siegler might be buy-essed.)
My issue with Mueller, then, is that he’s been drifting away from the facts and Foss Patents has quickly mutated into a never-ending op-ed about the ongoing Apple/Samsung patent war. I can get that anywhere, so I don’t need it from Mueller.
I found this bit from his review of Yukari Kane’s “Haunted Empire” (in which he’s quoted, no less) to be a particularly eye-rollingly egregious example of his descent into blandness:
If you’re bored enough on this Sunday to want to waste your time on something that is absolutely unrelated to IP but quite a coincidence, let me mention that I’m being (indirectly) sued by an Apple employee in my neighborhood (a biz dev guy working for Apple’s German subsidiary in Munich). I was informally notified of his January 2014 complaint only on Wednesday, the day after I criticized Apple’s $40 damages claim. It’s a funny coincidence that after years of covering Apple’s lawsuits and after more than 15 years without being sued by anyone over anything, I should now have to defend myself, in the role of an intervenor, against a lawsuit brought by an Apple guy. The percentage of Apple employees in this area is a lot lower than in Silicon Valley. But one employee of the “Haunted Empire” is apparently all it takes to be haunted by a lawsuit.
He goes on for a few more paragraphs but I can assure you that nothing he says has anything at all relevant to say about Apple’s involvement in a patent lawsuit with Samsung.
Instead, someone who used to write with clarity and focus about patent issues attempts to draw a connection between an unrelated lawsuit — in which he’s named — that was brought about by an Apple-employed nobody, and Apple’s litigation strategy as a company and — oh, the hubris — he even tries to tie it to his writing on the latter subject.
I’m now faced with the opposite problem I had initially: Mueller’s great when he limits himself to legal issues, and fucking terrible when he goes off on a tangent about technology or (sigh) himself. He just doesn’t seem to have the chops for the former or the personal intrigue for the latter.
He’s taken a starring role in his own coverage and whether that’s a result of payola, emerging biases, sour grapes (apples?), or simply because his growing popularity has gone to his not growing head, I don’t know — but (for me) it makes his content much less interesting.
With that said, I’m convinced that something is up, whatever Mueller has to say about the accusations. The last time I felt this way, I was knee deep in Mike Daisey’s bullshit.
Perhaps no one will ever prove anything, but Foss Patents now exists under a damning cloud of suspicion, Mueller’s reputation both precedes and follows him, and he’s not an interesting enough person to successfully headline his own content, try as he might.
The disappearance of Flight 370 remains unexplained a little over a week after last contact on March 8th. In that time, CNN has published over 350 articles on the subject, covering every possible and improbable angle of the mystery.
This publishing frenzy is no longer news in any arguable sense — it’s merely fodder for clicks. If you went into a coma on the day Flight 370 went missing and knew nothing more than that fact, you’d likely be more usefully informed than someone who has been following CNN’s “coverage” day to day.
Out of the 350-plus articles I found by searching CNN’s archive, fewer than 10 contain worthwhile information that I would qualify as news. (The revelation that two passengers were onboard with stolen passports comes to mind.) The rest is a mix of speculation, debunked guesses, “expert” commentaries, and/or exposés on waiting families.
(Several articles talk about the anger felt by those families resulting from the glut of reports on the search. Sickening.)
And then there’s the stuff about Courtney Love, monsters, and meteors.
Of note: I didn’t find anything at all about Flight 370 as the initial reports were coming in. This could be due to the fact that breaking news stories were constantly in flux or because my search term (Flight 370) simply didn’t appear in those stories. It’s also possible that I overlooked a few articles while searching through the 35 pages of results.
Several articles had similar titles but different URLs, but I only omitted a result if the URLs and headlines matched exactly. I captured URLs for all of the articles but — trust me — you don’t need to read any of them for any purpose, let alone mine.
So, without further adieu:
Quest: Malaysia Airlines jet was ‘at safest point’ in flight
U.S.-based firm: 20 employees on plane
Search for missing jet escalates
American Philip Wood aboard missing jet
Vast waters hide clues in hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight
Plane bore painters, pilgrims, others from around the world
Are flight recorders ‘antiquated?’
International crews search for plane
Official: Lost jet ‘may have turned back’
CNN Student News - March 10, 2014
Flight 370: Honoring the missing
History of Boeing’s 777
AC360 Exclusive: Brothers of missing American on Malaysia Airlines flight speak
Massive search for Flight 370 expands
Two passengers on Flight 370 were traveling with stolen passports
Flight 370: Honoring the missing
Piloting in an emergency
Possible causes for the loss of Flight 370
Search for Flight 370 expands
Agonized families await answers over missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Stolen passports raise possibility of terrorism in missing flight
No sign of Malaysia Airline wreckage; questions over stolen passports
Boeing through the ages: Planes that changed the way we travel
Looking for a needle in a haystack: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Missing flight: Everything considered
Who travels with a stolen passport?
ONLY ON CNN: Thai PM comments on crash
Search underway for missing Flight 370
Police: Iranian booked tickets for two passengers with stolen passports
What happened to Flight 370? Four scenarios fuel speculation among experts
Police: Iranian requested flight for pals
CNN Student News - March 11, 2014
Families’ agonizing wait for news
EXCLUSIVE: Thailand Prime Minster Yingluck Shinawatra on missing airplane, domestic protests
Friends tell of fears as hopes dim for passengers on Malaysia Flight 370
'There are no answers': Days later, no sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Why so few clues about missing Malaysia flight?
Stolen passports used to board Flight 370
Flight 370 victim family holds out hope
Huntsman: Energy exports can hurt Putin
FBI to run thumbprints of two passengers
Is Flight 370 similar to past mysteries?
Is Flight 370 similar to past mysteries?
Flight 370: The mysterious trail
Woman claims to have spent 2011 flight in cockpit with currently missing co-pilot: “They were smoking…they were posing for pictures”
Frustrated families wait for answers about Flight 370
With few answers about Flight 370 wild theories are springing up
New questions in the Malaysia Airlines 370 disappearance
Investigating a mid-flight mystery
Major shift in the Flight 370 investigation
Sorting through the Flight 370 evidence
Families wait for news on Flight 370
Rep. Mike Rogers on Flight 370, Ukraine
Remembering the missing on Flight 370
Flight 370 families demand answers
Terrorism not ruled out for Flight 370
Major shift in the Flight 370 investigation
Flight 370: CIA not ruling out terrorism
Could a meteor have hit Flight 370?
Conspiracy theories surround Flight 370
Friend of Flight 370 couple pays tribute
Inside a virtual Boeing 777
King: Malaysia has dropped the ball
Was Malaysia Airlines 370 hijacked?
King: Malaysia has dropped the ball
Virtual look at Flight 370’s route
Take a virtual look inside a Boeing 777
Virtual look at Flight 370’s route
Aviation experts: Flight 370 scenarios
See how you can help locate Flight 370
Expert on the ‘point of max confusion’
Former CIA official: I’d ‘bet a heavy paycheck’ against Flight 370 being terrorism
Why hasn’t technology located Flight 370?
Flight 370 family members wait in agony
Missing Malaysia plane way off course
Join the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Passport Mystery Solved
How does a Boeing 777 become invisible?
CNN Student News - March 12, 2014
CNN aboard aerial search and rescue mission for missing plane
Aerial view of search is ‘reality check’
MH370: More questions than answers
Men with stolen passports identified
How did stolen passports get through?
Missing flight: This doesn’t smell right
Official: No plane wreckage found
Who were the mystery men on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
When passenger jets mysteriously disappear
Pilot’s take on Malaysia Air Flight 370
Search widens for missing Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Mystery Passenger ID’d
Mystery Malaysia flight may have lost signal, gone hundreds of miles off course
Flight 370 compared to SilkAir crash
Hope remains in search for Flight 370
Breaking down possible wreckage images
FAA warned Boeing 777s had problems
China: Satellite images may show wreckage
Search expanded for missing flight 370
How YOU can help with Flight 370 search
'Transponder' can help find Flight 370
Photos may show missing plane … now what?
Wife of miss Flight 370 passenger: “He’s my best friend and my soul mate…I just can’t wait for him to come back…I hope”
Pilot Ron Brown on satellite photos: “There is a lot of trash floating in those waters”
Veteran pilot on Flight 370 search
Fmr. NTSB official: Images are not MH370
Flight 370 compared to SilkAir crash
Breaking down possible wreckage images
Hope remains in search for Flight 370
Breaking down possible wreckage images
FAA warned Boeing 777s had problems
China: Satellite images may show wreckage
Search expanded for missing flight 370
How YOU can help with Flight 370 search
'Transponder' can help find Flight 370
CNN Student News - March 13, 2014
Did Flight 370 veer off course?
Conspiracy theories surround Flight 370
Conflicting reports have families fuming
Satellite looking into missing Malaysia flight detects ‘suspected crash area’
Malaysia Airlines: What is a transponder?
'Phantom call' theory dismissed by experts
Malaysia Airlines: What is a transponder?
Timeline of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Crowdsourcing volunteers comb satellite photos for Malaysia Airlines jet
Woman says she and friend flew in cockpit with missing jet’s co-pilot in 2011
Passengers’ fake passports shine light on Southeast Asia migration path
Husband’s eerie instructions for wife
Several false leads in the Flight 370 search
False leads in the Flight 370 search
Satellite photos may show missing plane‚Ä¶ what now?
The U.S. effort to find Flight 370
Satellite photos may show Flight 370 debris
Satellite photos & the search for Flight 370
Confusion over Malyasia’s Flight 370 investigation
Malaysian authorities face backlash
Hope and fear for the Flight 370 families
Soucie: Pings are call waiting for answer
Do Malaysian officials’ reports add up?
Communications system adds to mystery
Honoring the missing on board Flight 370
U.S. Navy Commander searching for Flight 370: “If something was in the Gulf of Thailand we would have found it”
What are search ships looking for?
What does a turned off transponder say about the fate of Flight 370?
Barbara Starr with new information on missing Flight 370: “There is a strong likelihood that the flight is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean”
Theories on the disappearance of Flight 370
If Flight 370 flew for hours with its transponder off‚Ä¶ where could it be?
Searching for signs of Flight 370
Theories on Flight 370’s disappearance
Massive shift in Flight 370 search area
Was MH370 stolen?
'Significant likelihood' plane in ocean
Expert: Mechanical failure not a factor
New clue in missing Malaysia plane
CNN’s GUT CHECK for March 13, 2014
Pilot: 777s don’t just disappear
Crowdsourcing search for Malaysian plane goes viral, but no luck so far
Sometimes you never find the crash site
The anguish of waiting
Malaysian officials deny plane rumors
No debris found in South China Sea
Search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane expands to Indian Ocean
Pilot: 777s don’t just disappear
Crowdsourcing search for Malaysian plane goes viral, but no luck so far
Transponder’s fate may prove key to solving Malaysia Airlines puzzle
Missing Malaysia airliner: Questions and answers
Nine aviation mysteries highlight long history of plane disappearances
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Days pass, no word of loved ones
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: What we know and don’t know
Oceanographer ‘astounded’ by latest twist
Is Flight 370 still sending signals?
W.H.: Flight 370 search expanding west
Using high-tech tools to find flight 370
WSJ: Flight 370 probe focuses on sabotage
Could Flight 370 have been sabotaged from within the cabin? Experts say yes
WSJ report Flight 370 Sabotage reaction
Pilot’s friend: He is caring, loves job
Sorting through Flight 370 information
Was MH370 sabotaged from the cabin?
Re-creating missing plane’s timeline
WSJ report: Flight 370 possible sabotage
WSJ: Plane probe focuses on sabotage
Expert: My money is on hijacking
Re-creating MH370’s altitude change
Loved ones hope for hijacking of plane
Do Chinese satellite images hold clues?
Sunday on SOTU
CNN Political Programming: Sunday, March 16
Recreating MH Flight 370
Fmr. FAA official weighs in on flight 370
Report: Plane took 1 of 2 paths
US: Lithium batteries being examined
Was the missing Malaysian flight stolen?
Earthquake hits Flight 370 search zone
Plane theories: Mystery of Flight 370
Flight 370 defies tracking technology
Inside a Boeing 777
Andaman Chronicle Editor: “no chance” Malaysian Airline flight 370 landed on Andaman or Nicobar Islands
Five things to know about India’s Andaman Islands
Who are the missing Flight 370 pilots?
Flight 370 hijacking theories: Improbability or best hope?
Malaysia Flight 370: Amid a sea of questions, 28 of the most compelling
Police search pilots’ homes
Search zeroing in on Indian Ocean
Watch AC360’s tributes honoring the 239 people missing on Flight 370
The massive search area for Flight 370
Malaysian PM points to deliberate action
A portrait of missing passengers
Mystery of missing plane still unfolding
Transcript: Malaysian Prime Minister’s statement on Flight 370
Focus on ‘two corridors’ in plane search
Sinking fast inside a flight simulator
Flight 370: Analyzing the technical data
U.S. officials lean toward ‘those in the cockpit’ behind missing flight
Tracking Malaysia Air flight 370
Private ships search for missing flight
Sunday Chatter: Putin, 2014 and the missing Malaysian airplane
The mystery of Malaysia Air 370
The search for Flight 370 continues
Will the mystery of Flight 370 be solved?
Will mystery of Flight 370 be solved?
Sen. John McCain: U.S. needs ‘fundamental reassessment’ of Russia relationship
Sleepless nights, agonizing days for father of Flight 370 passenger
The mystery of Malaysia Air 370
Why so many watch plane coverage
Coverage of Flight 370: The demand for news
The mystery of Malaysia Air 370
WEB EXTRA: A twisted timeline of flight 370 updates
What does the U.S. know about MH 370?
Frustrations boil over for families
SOTU EXTRA: What is the black box?
Malaysia Flight 370: The 10 big questions
Pilot: Whoever changed flight path was an expert
Plane takeovers a dangerous reality
Lives, not numbers: Snapshots of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 passengers
WEB EXTRA: A timeline of flight 370
Coverage of MH370: The demand for news
More countries join Flight 370 search
What does the U.S. know about MH 370?
History’s big mysteries: Questionable deaths, missing people, monsters
Relatives of missing passengers react
A closer look at the Flight 370 pilots
Partner: I’m not giving up hope
Flight 370: ‘A cacophony of conjecture’
Hope and uncertainty for Flight 370 families
Hope & uncertainty for Flight 370 families
Jim Tilmon: Where was ground control in all of this?
Could Flight 370 have flown below radar
Investigators search homes of Flight 370 pilots
U.S. Navy Commander on searching the Indian Ocean: There probably isn’t enough ships and aircraft in the world to search every inch
Might missing Flight 370 have landed, then refueled, in the name of terrorism?
Flight 370’s timeline adds to the mystery
Fllght 370: Waiting is the Hardest Part
NYT: Computer sent missing plane off path
Flight 370 pilots’ homes searched
What the data says about Flight 370
What may have happened inside the cockpit?
U.S. adjusts role in Flight 370 search
Flight 370’s timeline adds to the mystery
Flight 370: Landed, and refueled?
Investigators focus on crew, passengers
Concerns about pilot’s mental state
Expert: Loopholes in Malaysian security
Politics of Flight 370 pilot questioned
Flight 370: What do we know?
Where plane changed course a major clue
Flying Below the Radar with Greg Charvat
Could a plane hide from radar detection?
How could plane fly under the radar?
When did key system shut down?
Can passengers’ phones help in search?
Flight 370 investigation looks at pilots
The 45-second guide to Boeing’s 777
Amanpour: ‘greatest aviation drama’
What Could Have Happened to Flight 370?
Report: Plane flew as low as 5,000 feet
Families wait for word of missing flight
Beijing’s Lido Hotel a grim backdrop as relatives cling to hope
Searching for Flight 370
Finding Flight 370
Beijing’s Lido Hotel a grim backdrop as relatives cling to hope
Searching for Flight 370
Finding Flight 370
Help from above: Satellite signals can confirm a plane’s identity
Why are we so gripped by missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Get up to speed on the latest developments
Malaysian government uncomfortable in spotlight over missing plane
Malaysia Flight 370: The 10 big questions
Malaysia Airlines: Pilots of the missing plane; suspected in ‘deliberate action?’
Civil aviation engineer aboard Flight 370
Who was in command of missing airplane?
'No motive' in disappearance of airplane
Watch flight simulator attempt theory
Why were no calls made from Flight 370?
Sarah Bajc: Please don’t hurt the people on the plane
Flight 370: Analyzing the facts and breaking down theories
Flight 370: Analyzing facts and theories
Holding out hope for Flight 370 survivors
AC360 Exclusive: Inside ACARS
Recreating Flight 370’s sharp left turn
Recreating Flight 370’s sharp left turn
Partner of missing man: Plane was taken
Examining MH370 conspiracy theories
Flight 370: Examining fire theory
MH370: Search area nearly size of U.S.
Flight 370 questions? We’ve got answers
Did a fire take down Flight 370?
Missing plane talk on jihadist websites
Former pilot: I flew the missing plane
See how search area compares to U.S. map
U.S. Officials: No link seen between missing jet and 2001 Malaysian hijack plot
No Motive in Disappearance of Airplane
Who Was In Command of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
U.S. Officials: No link seen between missing jet and 2001 Malaysian hijack plot
Inside the cockpit of a Boeing 777
Thailand radar picked up unknown signal
Thailand radar tracked unkown signal
Courtney Love is as obsessed with the missing plane as you are
What Happened in Cockpit of Flight 370?
Missing plane’s pilots: Is there a clue in their psychological evaluations?
Could Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have slipped by radar?
Malaysian politician: Flight 370 pilot supported me, but was no hijacker
Astronaut: New satellites could track missing planes
New evidence in Flight 370 search explains plane’s path
Pilots, passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 under scrutiny
CNN Student News - March 18, 2014
Malaysia Airlines passenger’s partner says she’s certain her soul mate is alive
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 search grows as pilots face increased scrutiny
Key moments emerge in tracking of missing Malaysia Airlines plane
Recreating Flight 370’s sharp left turn
Could Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have slipped by radar?
Did terrorists take control of Flight 370?
Theories abound from experts and amateurs alike on fate of flight
#370Qs: Your questions answered
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Some Data Deleted From Flight Simulator
Families frustrated with lack of info
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Southern search area seen as most likely
Families not getting enough support
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: How do passenger jets change flight paths?
Flight 370 puts Israel on high alert: “Israel has close to zero margin for error in countering and protecting itself against a hijacked airplane”
How do ocean recoveries work? No clue too small after crashes
Why were there no phone calls from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
MH 370 pilot: Home flight simulator seized in hope of clues
Experts answer #370Qs tweets about missing Malaysian flight
Confessions of a nervous flier
Ex-pilot: MH370 pilots possible heroes
Malaysia probe focuses on westerly turn
Wailing mom dragged from briefing room
Searching for the plane truth — amid speculation
Shouts, chaos as families protest handling of missing plane
On a related note, Vox promises to be the anti-CNN of news outlets:
The media is excellent at reporting the news and pretty good at adding commentary atop the news. What’s lacking is an organization genuinely dedicated to explaining the news. That is to say, our end goal isn’t telling you what just happened, or how we feel about what just happened, it’s making sure you understand what just happened.
We’re going to deliver a lot of contextual information that traditional news stories aren’t designed to carry, and we’re hiring journalists who really know the topics they cover. There’s no way we’ll be able to help readers understand issues if we haven’t done the work to understand them ourselves.
The price of Prime is going up. (Of course it is.)
The email I’ve long expected finally arrived: When my Amazon Prime subscription renews in December, I’ll be charged (as will everyone else) $99 instead of the usual $79.
We are writing to provide you advance notice that the price of your Prime membership will be increasing. The annual rate will be $99 when your membership renews on December 3, 2014.
Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million. We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
Some will argue that this isn’t a big deal, or that the increase is long overdue, and it’s difficult to counter that argument because $99 is still a steal for what you get. (I for one do not plan on canceling my subscription.)
Still, I predicted that this (and more) was inevitable almost two years ago:
I wrote that article just before the start of Apple’s price-fixing antitrust trial. At the time, Nook was still a thing that people bought in a way that meant the device had a somewhat hopeful future and Amazon’s control of the ebook market was a competitive 65-ish percent — down from a high of almost 90 percent.
From my article:
If the bet is to sustain these losses in order to “entice customers to buy more and exclusively on the site” — which is another way of saying that Amazon is attempting to buy the market out from under its competitors — who is it that honestly believes that the low prices and too-good-to-last free offers will stick around once they’ve (inevitably) achieved that goal?
This could lead to a future in which Amazon controls the publishing industry, prices normalize at a level that is higher than consumer have been groomed to expect, there’s no competitive alternative to turn to, and wary publishers spitefully hold back on ebook innovation even more than they already do.
We’re not quite there yet, but a 25 percent increase in a beloved service is not something that happens without careful consideration, even if the deal is still pretty damn good. Argue what you want, but it’s now $20 less good than it was yesterday.
I’d be shocked if it’s the last surprise we see from Amazon over the next couple years. I argued then and I’ll argue again that Amazon is beholden to investors no matter how much they profess to care about us as customers, and investors will eventually want a return on their investment.
Sony gave up on ebooks, Barnes and Noble may eventually be forced out, and Apple has been neutered by the DOJ: What’s to stop Amazon from doing whatever they want once they have what the need?
Amazon announced Prime Air and posted a page with four frequently asked questions, three of which are asked and answered an awful lot like the “what’s Amazon’s biggest weakness” and “Amazon’s biggest weakness is that we love consumer’s TOO much” BS you often see at bad interviews.
Here, then, are my actual questions:
How close to a distribution center do I have to live in order to qualify for Prime Air delivery?
I’ve read that the answer to this is that you’ll have to live within a 10 mile radius of an Amazon distribution center in order to qualify for Air Prime delivery. In other words, if a given distribution center is the hub of an imaginary circle, you’ll have to live within 10 miles in any direction of that hub.
I’m terrible at math, but came up with this:
Amazon has around 39 distribution centers which translates to a Prime Air delivery zone of approximately 1225 square miles. There are 3.794 million square miles in the US. That’s an Air Prime reach of roughly .03 percent.
Granted, a great deal of the US isn’t populated, but even with that in mind (unless the 10 mile radius information is wrong) most people simply won’t be able to take advantage of this unless Amazon goes crazy with new distribution centers.
What do we do with the yellow plastic tubs that packages are delivered in?
Surely we don’t have to ship those back to Amazon? That would negate the green benefits that Bezos highlighted. Do they pile up in our houses over the years?
What’s the expected cost?
Knowing Amazon, Air Prime is going to be free to anyone who pays the yearly fee to be an Amazon Prime subscriber, but I still think that at some point the cost of Prime is going to go up. Something has got to give.
As more and more features are added to prime, Amazon stands to lose more money. At this point, 2-day shipping is free, some books are free, a lot of instant movies and TV shows are free, and so on. All of those services cost Amazon money. Some of the services are interesting to me, others not so much. Does Prime at some point become a la carte? $79 per year gets you any three services? $200 a year for everything?
How many drones can operate at one time?
As neat as the test video looks, a controlled test isn’t the same thing as hundreds of orders coming in at one time with overlapping flight paths and delivery zones.
What about congested urban areas?
Less populated areas are probably easier to target, but less likely to be near a distribution center. Populated areas might be in an Air Prime delivery zone but could be logistical nightmares: More people to injure. Power lines to avoid. Delivery targets that simply may not exist. Birds. How can Amazon possibly account for all those factors?
Perhaps Bezos has already solved these problems, but when their idea of a frequently asked question is “is this science fiction” and the answer to that question is “oh, it’s real, bitches” with no real explanation for the optimism, it’s hard to take Bezos seriously — especially when the earliest possible timeline appears to be at least two years out.
Bezos is a marketing genius, it would seem. He’s announced something so cool that those of us with valid questions are immediately chastised for being downers. If, in two years, nothing materializes, Amazon will likely have moved on to the next big promise.
Stephanie Metz, Straw Men, and the Reality of Bullying
How long will it be before their typical boy-ish behavior gets them suspended from school? How long before they get suspended from daycare??? How long will it be before one of them gets upset with a friend, tells that friend to go away and leave them alone, and subsequently gets labeled as a bully?
I responded with my thoughts on Facebook, but I thought I’d compile that response here as well:
The problem with Metz’s post isn’t what she says, which is all incredibly blasé and obvious and written from the perspective of someone who doesn’t seem to have ever really experienced anything that would cause her (or her toddlers) any reason to ever think with any real nuance or insight.
In short, it’s boring as fuck, but no less dangerous for it.
You see this same sort of thing coming from straight people who just don’t understand why the gay community can’t simply be happy for who they are. This crowd doesn’t see much point in spending so much time worrying about issues facing the gay and lesbian community. After all, things have never been better, right?
They put approximately half a second of thought into the issue and they use that to spend a couple hours formulating a rant. They then throw in some common-sense platitudes and completely gloss over all the real problems and then bask in the supportive comments while getting frustrated when people want to have a real discussion that actually addresses real issues. It’s simple for them, and thus they reason that it should be simple for everyone.
Meanwhile, they’ve no fucking idea what they’re talking about because — in most cases — they’ve never experienced the reality that other people actually have to live with.
Metz goes on to create ridiculous straw men (similar to the War on Christmas nonsense that ramps up at this time of year every year) by worrying that her boys might be labeled as bullies or, worse, pulled aside as threats, because they like to play with toy guns.
(What kind of parent proactively worries that her kids might be labeled bullies? Bizarre.)
No, Stephanie Metz. A million times no. Your kids are going to be labeled bullies if they grow up to be assholes who do not have the capacity for empathy. They’re going to be labeled bullies if they prey on the fears and insecurities of other children in an effort to make themselves feel big and strong.
Ultimately, Metz’s concerns don’t line up with real-world scenarios, and they play to the dumb right-wing mantra that we all just need to grow a pair and get back to the way things were when MEN WERE FUCKING MEN.
Fuck her for being so naive and fuck everyone else who thinks she has something important or interesting to say on the subject.
There are [B]ullies, and there are [b]ullies. A shitload of kids bully other kids and then they grow out of it and they grow up to be decent people and that’s the sort of thing that most other kids have to learn to deal with.
That’s called life. Name calling happens. Petty fights happen. Lunch money gets stolen. In some cases, yes, it would be great if the kids who face this would pop the kids who perpetuate it in the mouth, especially if it ends the cycle.
If one of Stephanie Metz’s kids grows up and is a boy being a boy (as parents of assholes often couch the issue) and makes fun of people or thinks it’s funny to belittle or (physically or mentally) hurt others, and someone has had enough and bloodies his nose, I sincerely hope that’s as far as it goes and that Metz tells her boy that that’s the sort of thing that happens when you’re an asshole to the wrong person, for too long. “So, don’t be an asshole!”
Or, better yet, someone at school in a position of authority finds out about the behavior and, yes, kicks his smarmy little ass out of school until he learns to co-exist with other people who want to have fun (with toy guns, even!) and grow up without someone’s precious little asshole tormenting them.
When that doesn’t happen, you get the Richie Incognitos of the world who do not grow out of it, who sometimes benefit because of it, who kept going without ever getting popped in the mouth, or punished, who do not understand why what they’re doing is dangerous or harmful, and who are later validated by nonsense like Metz’s post.
The sentiment is that there’s no level of bullying that can’t be overcome by just walking away and toughing it out.
Does Stephanie Metz naively believe those kids could have just toughed it out? That someone merely called them names?
Here’s the kicker: Neither kind of bully gets a gun and shoots up his school. (Let’s not pretend this is a “her” issue. We take the feelings and emotions of girls seriously and when girls do feel alone or helpless they tend to kill themselves, rather than others.)
School shootings and why they happen are their own special blend of tragedy; tragedies that are most likely fostered by the sort of nonsense that Metz spouts. According to those who think like her, mental illness is something that boys just have to tough out.
"If we’d just stop coddling our kids, the problems would go away." (What’s the overlap between this crowd and the "a gun in every hand" crowd?)
Except the problems won’t go away, and high-fiving “head in the sand” bullshit like this post by Stephanie Metz is just going to make the problem worse.
Sadly, it seems, the only way she’ll ever realize that is if one of her own kids someday walks off a building. That’s the sort of reality that is hard to deny.
God damn! Amazon is asking for protection money from traditional booksellers!
In every gangster movie ever the city is overrun with crime because the city is overrun with gangsters. Said gangsters then approach the little guy (who just wants to run his humble corner store) to ask for “protection money” against the violence that the little guy wouldn’t need protecting from if the gangsters weren’t there at all.
It’s a great business plan, if you can get away with it — and if you have no morals.
And yet it pretty much sums up Amazon’s new Amazon Source service:
We designed this program with bookstores in mind. The Bookseller Program offers a discount on the price of Kindle tablets and e-readers, plus the opportunity to make a commission on every book your customers purchase from their device, anywhere, anytime. With the Bookseller Program, you get a 10% commission every time one of your customers buys an e-book from a Kindle tablet or e-reader that they purchase at your store. This program allows you to give your customers a choice between digital and physical books, offer them access to a wide selection of e-books, and profit from every e-book they buy on their new device, from your store or on the go.*
So, to recap: Traditional booksellers (large and small) are fighting for survival because ebooks, which are largely bought and consumed on devices controlled by Amazon, are the future.
Amazon saunters in, tells traditional booksellers that the solution is to pay Amazon for Kindle hardware (at a minor discount) and then the bookseller will get a (minor) cut of the price of every book purchased on that Kindle for two years.
Amazon has actually improved on the protection money racket by getting the little guy to pay for the guns!
As usual, this is Amazon trying to look like a saint while behaving like a sinner, though I’m sure they’ll get a pass yet again, because Amazon is pretty great at what they do.
Still, there are some obvious red flags when it comes to Amazon’s generosity:
As I have already mentioned, more than anything else, this is Amazon trying to sell more Kindles. Selling more Kindles benefits no one except Amazon given that booksellers can’t re-sell Kindles for a meaningful profit because Amazon already sells them at close to cost. (Remember that Target eventually refused to sell Kindles, in part because of Amazon’s aggressive pricing strategy.)
Basically, booksellers will make 6% (the 6% they saved on the purchase) for every Kindle they sell, unless they sell Kindles for more than Amazon sells them for, which would mean they’d never sell a Kindle. Gah! Best case, that’s around $6 to $20 multiplied by however many Kindles they sell. Small stores aren’t going to sell hundreds of Kindles, let alone thousands. Tens? Maybe. But just maybe.
"Anytown Books" isn’t going to benefit from the 10% cut on ebook purchases because 1) the deal only lasts for two years and 2) most small booksellers won’t be able to buy (and then sell) enough Kindles to make any real money as a — let’s face it — glorified Amazon Associate. The volume potential simply isn’t there. Also, the above asterisk means terms and conditions apply. Who wants to bet that those terms and conditions don’t work in favor of booksellers?
This 10% cut is made even worse by the fact that Amazon loves to tout the fact that it sells ebooks for as little as possible. You may have heard about this in a little story called “Apple was successfully sued by the Government for trying to sell ebooks at a price that was attractive to the people who own the rights to said ebooks.”
Every Kindle a bookseller does sell increases the odds that those customers never walk through the door again and never buy a “real” book again. Those “never agains” negate margins that actually make the bookseller money. In essence, the more Kindles they sell, the worse off they are. Thanks, Amazon!
In short, this is yet another Amazon attempt to convert bookseller customers to Amazon customers under the guise of supporting booksellers.
More likely, Amazon Source — if adopted — will simply accelerate their demise.
The first reason is that most of these people are simply living up to the value they are assigned at the company they work for. My guess is that (in many cases) they’re low-level nobodies assigned to the task of writing some tweets, perhaps because they have a Twitter account and have demonstrated an ability to tweet.
Large or small, most companies create a “social media manager” position because they think they have to, not because they understand the point or value of having one. As an extension of that ignorance they accept click/like/retweet-baiting as a substitute for quality engagement.
That initial lack of vision transfers over to assigning no value to the person tasked with the job, which means they get paid shit because the job they’ve been given isn’t worth paying much for. In turn, that person could give a fuck about doing anything more than an adequate job.
Assuming a company does go through the trouble of interviewing and hiring someone to fill this role, they fall back on the “pretty person” syndrome and seek out a hipster or a hot girl or Alicia Keys or Ashton Kutcher and bank on the idea that cool bleeds.
The trouble is, you can’t really pay someone to like your product, let alone love it, and bullshit stinks whether it’s attached to Alicia Keys or a nobody.
So, to sum up:
Companies don’t care about or don’t understand the value of social media which means;
they under-pay and/or under-hire for the position which results in;
a social media manager who doesn’t give a fuck, and it shows.
This is actually way easier to explain:
Make the position a priority and pay for it like you mean it.
Hire someone who can actually write, not someone who merely tweets.
Hire someone who actually loves (and uses) your product.
If you can’t find someone who actually loves and uses your product 1) reflect on why that is but 2) at the very least hire someone who loves to write and is enthusiastic and creative when you talk to them about your product.
The best way to find someone who qualifies for 2-4 is to go out and do something fun with the person you’re thinking about hiring. Dinner, drinks, whatever. If that person can’t shut up about your product and has ideas about how he/she would promote it, hire that person.
Ultimately, you want everything you learn about this person to shine through in the way they engage customers (and potential customers) through social media channels.
This doesn’t mean hiring a salesperson, it means hiring an advocate: Much like the Great Pumpkin, you’re looking for sincerity.
Chromecasting Doubts: Google's Streaming Media Gambit
Late last week, Google unveiled Chromecast, attempt number three in their quest to conquer the living room after the wide-right foul ball that was GoogleTV and the wild swing-and-a-miss-and-thrown-bat that was the ill-fated Nexus Q. At just $35, Chromecast is certainly priced compellingly and it’s hard to find fault with its barely-there footprint. So, is this the winner that Google has been looking for?
I’m not so sure.
The Competitive Landscape
Realistically speaking, Chromecast is competing with Apple TV and Roku for space in your living room. Handily, Dan Rayburn of Frost and Sullivan recently published some statistics surrounding the streaming market, which provide a great metric for comparison:
Our report details sales numbers showing that Apple owned 56% of the streaming devices market in 2012, with Roku coming in second at 21% of the market.
Tivo is next with just 6.5% of the market and then “others” — comprised of a rag-tag assortment of several devices you’ve never heard of — split the remaining 15.9 percent.
Rayburn also fortuitously noted that “Google is conspicuous by its absence in this segment.”
That brings us to last week’s announcement.
Google needs to grab a sizable portion of the market in order to overtake either Apple or Roku in the streaming market and with Chromecast, it appears that they’re touting three key selling points in an effort to get there:
Anyone who has a laptop or a desktop (Mac, PC, or Chromebook) can Chromecast. Anyone with an Android device can Chromecast. Google promises that at some point in the near future, anyone with an iOS device will be able to Chromecast.
At first blush, this is indeed a compelling argument against an investment in Apple TV because Apple infamously curates a walled garden: If you want to stream from a smartphone, tablet, or computer to an Apple TV, you’re going to have to own a smartphone, tablet, or computer with an Apple logo on it.
Dig a little deeper, though, and the advantages aren’t quite so clear cut: Chromecast offers a wider swath of device compatibility, yes, but without one of those compatible devices, your $35 buys little more than a dust cover for a spare HDMI port. This means that Blackberry customers need not apply. Windows Phone? Nope. I’m not even sure if the Kindle Fire gets to play ball, given the forked-up state of Android on Amazon’s platform.
What about one-device households in which that one device isn’t always in the house?
An Apple TV works as a stand-alone device: Plug it in, run an HDMI cable to your TV, and everything you need to stream Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, amongst others — not to mention the ability to rent or buy TV shows and movies — is right there on the device. If you have a high-speed internet connection, you can use the hell out of an Apple TV right out of the box. As a bonus, if you happen to have an iPhone or an iPad, an Apple TV provides far more streaming utility than Chromecast, even from an Android device.
There’s no two ways around it: $35 is an intriguing price for almost anything that requires a power plug, let alone a somewhat functional media streamer, and there’s no doubt that one “streaming device” at $99 is a tough sell against another “streaming device” at $35.
All that is to say: The Chromecast is priced to sell if you’re a not particularly observant comparison shopper who thinks all “streaming devices” are alike. Having read some of the early reviews, though, it seems to me that Chromecast is $35 because it provides at least $64 less value than an Apple TV.
It’s got Netflix, true, but what doesn’t these days?
There are no less than four devices currently plugged into my TV that offer access to Netflix, and a couple of them also stream YouTube videos. Netflix-capable devices are the new paper clip: You’ve probably got a couple of them laying around.
Ultimately, there’s little if anything a Chromecast can do that an Apple TV cannot do, and a lot of empty space and negotiating for content that Google still needs to do to in order to increase the value gap beyond a knee-jerk impulse buy for geeks.
Yes, $35 is a great price for a gadget if that gadget provides substantially more than $35 worth of value — but I’m not sure Chromecast gets there.
Ease of Use
Chromecast is quite a bit smaller than an already pretty small Apple TV, yes, but is it easier to use or set up? My post-announcement impression was that the Chromecast dongle was a self-powered device. This can be true, except when it’s not: Some newer televisions have HDMI ports that will provide power, but not all. (And not mine.) Some newer televisions have USB ports that will provide power via the included cable, but not all. (And not mine.) For everyone else, you’re left with pluggingin via a standard wall socket. Not a deal breaker, but not exactly the plug-and-play experience that Google touted, either.
The fact is, some of the neatest features of the $35 Chromecast call for the most current television models. For everyone else there’s the small print.
And, of course, after you’ve got the device plugged-in and powered-up, you’re directed to visit a website — necessitating the use of a companion device — just so that you can connect Chromecast to a WiFi network. Even if you assume that all of this is indeed super easy, there’s nothing about the process that is any easier than setting up an Apple TV which, again, is not a deal breaker but is contrary to Google’s hyperbole.
Perhaps Google will put out an infomercial-style pitch in which a clueless and unsuspecting Apple TV owner looks helplessly at an HDMI cable or struggles mightily with Apple’s remote while engaged in a constant struggle to reach the on-screen settings menu. But wait! Struggle no more as you effortlessly insert the pocket-sized Chromecast dongle and your TV auto-switches input and streams all your content like magic! Order in the next hour and you’ll get three months of Netflix — a $24 value — FREE! (PROBABLY!)
So, What Then?
Not long after it was announced, Gizmodo’s Brian Barrett announced that “you’d be crazy not to buy Google Chromecast.” Then, after the free-Netflix deal went extinct (which, let’s be honest, wasn’t all that long after Google announced Chromecast), Gizmodo updated that headline with the caveat of a “super sad update” and an excitement downgrade from “no-brainer” to “pretty good deal.”
So, who’s it for, then? If you own an iOS device, I’d say you’d be crazy to buy a $35 Chromecast instead of a $99 Apple TV.
If you own an Android device I’d say you have a compelling reason to read the reviews and find out if the value is there for what you’d use it for. Given Google’s history with television and content deals, though, I’d strongly encourage a few months of patience.
Here are some choice cuts:
Even within the apps that have already been tweaked for Chromecast compatibility, there are some day one bugs. Sometimes videos don’t play the first time you ask them to, instead dropping you into a never-ending loading screen. Other times, the video’s audio will start playing on top of a black screen. These bugs aren’t painfully common, but they’re not rare, either. - TechCrunch
There were some glitches with the other two apps as well. Google Play Movies froze while loading up one video, but we were able to remedy the issue by closing the app and trying again. The Netflix app also quit registering touch input during playback on several occasions when we allowed our device to enter standby mode. - Engadget
I tested free Hulu content, HBO Go, NBC, CBS, and Fox, all of which worked. The bad news is that limitations are obvious right away. Image quality ranges from mediocre to poor, mostly because Chrome is converting the video on the fly from your PC and sending it to the Chromecast. You’re also going to run into occasional (and sometimes frequent) dropouts — sometimes just audio, but sometimes the video pauses, too. And the feature itself isn’t entirely stable, so expect the extension to crash sometimes with Google throwing a quirky “brain freeze” message up on your TV. - CNET
Google gobbled-up a majority of the smartphone market because their partners — Samsung, primarily — blanketed the low-end with cheap, underpowered devices that millions of people use like feature phones.
They seem to be making a similar, albeit in-house, grab for the streaming-media market with Chromecast, but questions remain: Is the low-end juggernaut of the sizeable Android market looking to buy a media-streaming device (at any price) and — if not — is the high-end of the Android market formidable enough to overtake Apple for that top spot, or even move past Roku to emerge as a strong number two?
Perhaps, but that won’t make this first generation Chromecast any better as an investment.
Pete Williams and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Crystal Ball
Here’s Pete Williams one year ago almost to the day, after the Supreme Court heard arguments on Obamacare:
“I think it’s very doubtful that court is going to find the health care law constitutional,” NBC’s Pete Williams reported after watching the two hours of oral argument before the high court. “I don’t see five votes to find the law constitutional.”
Here’s Pete Williams today, after the Supreme Court heard arguments on Proposition 8:
After the oral argument, Pete Williams of NBC News reported that it seemed “quite obvious” that the court is not prepared to issue a sweeping ruling declaring that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Hire great writers and great show runners and give them two seasons. Or three. Tell them they’ve got exactly that amount of time to tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Here’s the important part:
Don’t be a dick and tell them they’re out of time at any point before the end and don’t be tempted to let popularity extend a show beyond the end.
Get in, get the fuck out.
Do this, and you’ll have two things:
A constant supply of fresh content.
Number one is obvious. A clean exit strategy leads to more new content. Everything that inevitably goes bad about some of the best programming can be traced back to a lack of an exit strategy. Don’t fall into this trap.
It happened to Lost. It’s happened to virtually every sitcom that has ever aired on network television. Do not let it happen to your content.
Get in, get the fuck out.
Number two should be obvious but apparently isn’t. People aren’t giving new content a chance because at times it seems we’re more invested than the networks are. I’m tired of starting (and sometimes loving) content that won’t last beyond a few episodes, let alone an entire season. Don’t waste our time.
Commit and viewers will flock to your content.
Get in, get the fuck out.
This is your new mantra if you want to out-HBO HBO.
"This is Mac vs Windows all over again and everyone knows how that scenario played out."
That’s the punchline of a comment appended to an excellent Elia Freedman article but it could be a thousand other punchlines posted to a thousand other articles.
It’s a sentiment so lazy and so without thought (and so common) that it’s probably best ignored but, well, low hanging fruit and all that:
At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple enjoy such a wide base of popularity?
At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple have as large a share of the market as they currently have in the mobile era?
At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple have a minority share of the market but rake in the vast majority of the industry profits?
At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple have over a hundred billion dollars cash on hand?
At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era was Apple dominating its competitors on a device for device basis? (In other words, when was any one product in Apple’s Mac lineup consistently outselling every competing PC on the market?)
At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era was Apple so successfully entrenched in multiple product categories?
"Mac vs PC" as an argument against Apple in 2013 is intellectually lazy. To make it, you either have to be a troll, an idiot, or both.
TechCrunch doesn’t seem to have a useful search feature — I couldn’t find anything from 2011 relating to Aaron Swartz and sorting “by date” inexplicably turns up no results even though sorting “by relevance” turns up plenty — but the results I get do include this insightful article…
My main recollection of the earlier story (the way back in 2011 version) was boorish fact-checking about whether or not Swartz was “actually” a Reddit co-founder or just an early Reddit employee. Truly, hard hitting investigative journalism when you consider that over a year later, bloggers are coming out of the woodwork to describe his genius and the travesty of justice he had been facing (alone, apparently) ever since.
My takeaway is this:
The bread and butter of tech blogging (or just plain ol’ blogging blogging) is reactive journalism, and very rarely (too rarely) does anyone exhibit any form of proactive journalism. That’s hard work. It’s long nights and dead ends and patience and possible failure. It’s trust and reputation, which comes from sources first and follow from readers second.
As often as not, these are values that are seen as anathema to keeping it real as a tech blogger. Too traditional.
And, anyway, who wants to face dead ends when you can just wait for dead kids?
Not long ago, Apple was paying Google a license fee to use Google’s mapping data for its iOS mapping solution, even as Google withheld turn-by-turn navigation as a competitive advantage for Android.
If rumors hold true (UPDATE: They’re true) Apple’s decision to cut Google off and release it’s own maps app (which isn’t really bad at all, in my experience) will result in Google releasing a native iOS version of Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation — and Apple won’t have to pay a license fee for the data.
So, 1) those who usually can’t shut up about competition being great for consumers should stop bitching about Apple’s decision, as iOS users will soon have more choices than ever before and 2) in hindsight, at least, this seems to have been a pretty smart move by Apple.
Two months ago, Forbes declared Google the winner in the maps war and predicted Apple would crawl back to Google to re-license the mapping data. Instead, Google rushed to prep a native App (in fairness, they probably had to buy a lot of buckets for all the ad revenue they’re about to rake in) and Apple gets its own solution as well as a new-and-improved solution from Google — free of charge — and consumers get more choice.
Congratulations to all who turned out to support bigotry and discrimination on 08/01/12: You had your day and you’ll likely have many more.
The chicken sandwiches and waffle fries were delicious, I’m sure.
Your impassioned defense of free speech won the day but then, this was no Islamic mosque, and it wasn’t JC Penney celebrating a lifestyle that you do not agree with. It wasn’t Jeff Bezos pledging his support for same.
Free speech, but only for the right cause.
Keep in mind, though: Meaningful, inevitable change is nothing if not patient, and you’re going to have fewer and fewer victories as the months and years go by. Not much more than ten years ago Modern Family — a wildly popular TV show prominently featuring a proud, loving, adoptive gay family as part of the new normal — may not have been a multiple Emmy award-winning phenomenon. Five years ago the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell seemed unthinkable.
Yet here we are.
Eventually this hateful wave of institutional bigotry will pass us by. Anti-gay sentiment and discrimination will be to the next generation what passive racism is to this one: An embarrassment that is awkwardly laughed off as a generational failing.
A relic of the past.
The worst of you will die off sooner than the best of you, and I can only hope that the best of you live long enough to remember with shame a time when you weren’t as compassionate and understanding as you eventually grew to be. A time when faith in a supposedly loving God dictated the horrible, dismissive way in which you treated the happiness and dreams of your fellow citizens.
A day that you celebrated all that by eating chicken.
We love being part of an industry on the move and taking on some of the tough issues surrounding ownership and digital content, but our primary goal has always been to create the best social-lending site we could build.
That has always meant a site that focuses on lending above all other considerations.
At its core, we’re a matchmaking service for Kindle owners. Our Lendlers list the books they’ve purchased, which in turn provides the foundation for our library of lendable content.
When someone requests a book, we make that request available to the Lendle community.
We’ve introduced several new features over the last year, but they’re all designed to drive and improve the core lending experience.
We have fulfilled over 70,000 loan requests.
Our community has added nearly 50,000 unique (lendable) titles.
All told, Lendle lists 330,000 books available to borrow.
We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve built, and we think Lendle has been an amazing success.
With all that said, we started out as a team of three, and we remain a team of three: We’ve not outsourced the design, the troubleshooting, or the customer service, and we’ve accomplished all of this without accepting a single penny of outside funding.
Lendle has always been a huge undertaking, and as our community has grown, so too have our responsibilities.
On top of all that, two of the three of us have full time jobs outside of running Lendle, and various other “living life” priorities that we would like to focus on.
We don’t want any of that to get in the way of the customer service we expect of ourselves, and we don’t want our additional workload to have an effect on potential new features or the overall Lendle experience, either.
With that in mind, we’re looking toward the idea of selling Lendle to someone (or a group of someones) who is interested in building upon our successes, and taking the community to the next level.
Such a sale would involve:
The Lendle brand, including all associated trademarks.
All associated code.
Lendle means a lot to us. We’ve put over a year of our lives into growing a great community and implementing new features and we’ve done our best to put a unique spin on social-lending to ensure that Lendle stands out amongst the competition.
Even so, there’s still a vast untapped market for social-lending that is millions of potential Lendlers strong, and we think a nimble and innovative home for Lendle can only lead to great things.
As competition in the ebook space heats up, we expect to see more and more acceptance of digital lending amongst publishers, authors, and retailers. Already, TOR Books — an imprint of publishing powerhouse Macmillan and one of the largest publishers of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels — has announced that it will drop all DRM from its collection in early July 2012.
It was only a matter of time: Why Mac users tend to ignore the advice of PC Pundits.
It’s being reported that over 600,000 Macs are now infected by the Flashback trojan, a “drive by” piece of Malware that doesn’t need administrator privileges or even a password prompt to successfully latch on.
The PC pundits couldn’t be more excited. Finally, they say, the inevitable has happened and smug Mac users are finding out what it’s like to be a PC user.
When exposing big truths, little lies matter: Mike Daisey, Foxconn, and Apple
At the risk of being challenged to yet another fight by the 400-plus-pound hulking behemoth that is Mike Daisey, let’s talk about little lies, and why they matter when taking on big truths, even if you’re “just” a storyteller. In a better world, we’d not need to have this discussion, but we don’t live in a better world, and Mike Daisey has been outed as a liar and a fraud.
What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic - not a theatrical - enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations.
Where’s Karl Pilkington’s alter ego, Bullshit Man, when you need him?
Let’s just get this out of the way: The dramatic license that everyone allowed Mike Daisey was to present an “extemporaneous monologue” that laid the blame for China’s labor issues squarely on Apple’s doorstep, despite the fact that those issues are, quite literally, an industry-wide problem.
It’s not fair, it’s not accurate, and it’s pretty misleading, but it’s well-within the purview of “theater not journalism” to simplify a story in order to make a larger point.
That’s not to say that doing so is without risk:
To this day, Apple is a company that people love to hate. Giving people (yet another) reason to hate Apple, to support boycotts when they were never going to buy Apple products anyway, is to miss the point. Hating Apple isn’t the same as supporting Chinese laborers, and my guess is that Daisey tapped into the former without spurring a lot of serious or lasting interest in the latter.
(How many new iPads did Apple sell last week?)
More importantly, by driving the point home, show after show, that this was an Apple problem, people were left with the idea that the problem could be solved by holding Apple to some “to be determined” ethical standard. And, if Apple refused to live up to that standard, well, we could all just go out and support Android, or Windows Phone 7, right?
The trouble is, Mike Daisey intentionally glossed over the broader issue — there is no ethical alternative, based on Daisey’s standards — in the hopes of raising awareness by piggybacking on Apple’s popularity. He knew that “dramatic focus” would bring about more chatter and, as an entertainer selling tickets, publicity became more important than strict accuracy.
Except, now it turns out that not only did he use dramatic license by focusing his anger on Apple, he also lied about virtually every important first-hand detail in his monologue. If you’ve not yet done so, do yourself a favor and listen to the “Retraction” episode of This American Life.
When you’re talking about workers who are forced to work through fear and intimidation, the story is very different if, in one version, guards have guns while, in another, they don’t. Daisey’s version supplied the guns, reality doesn’t.
That’s not dramatic license, it’s lying.
Daisey’s choice to use Apple as his theatrical whipping boy is about to be trumped by the even more sordid story of a loud, fuming, angry bully who lied and sensationalized a story in order to sell tickets. Everything he allegedly cares about (I’d argue that he cares most about selling tickets, but that’s a personal opinion) is about to come crashing down, fairly or unfairly, because of his lies.
Daisey is smart enough to know that sensationalism sells, so it’s a real shame that he didn’t think that all his little theatrical lies would, once exposed, overshadow the important truths behind the technology industry’s reliance on Chinese labor. Those who want to enact real change shouldn’t do so by taking what Daisey refers to as “shortcuts” but what everyone else refers to as fabrications.
Many consider this week’s THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode one of the most painful they’ve ever listened to. In particular the segment with me is excruciating—four hours of grilling edited down to fifteen minutes. I thought the dead air was a nice touch, and finishing the episode with audio pulled out of context from my performance was masterful.
When Mike Daisey isn’t busy casting doubts about the credibility of his translator (remember, he intentionally hid her name so that no one would be able to track her down) he’s shifting the blame to Ira Glass.
To my audiences: It’s you that I owe the most to. I want you all to know that I will not go silent—I will be making a full accounting of this work, shining a light through this monologue and telling the story of its origins, construction, and details.
(“That’ll be $30, please.”)
Look! Up in the sky! What’s that? It’s a bird? It’s a plane?
Mike Daisey doubled down before being exposed as a liar and a fraud. (I love being right.)
Mike Daisey is a liar and a fraud. As detailed in the latest episode of This American Life, virtually every important detail of his “Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” monologue was made up in the name of theater:
John Gruber suggests that Godin’s iBooks version could simply link to Apple’s iBookstore, instead of linking away to Amazon.
I’d second that suggestion, not as a way to appease Apple (assuming, of course, that it would), but because it seems like the common sense, consumer-friendly option. I’ve already made the decision to buy an iBook — don’t be cute and link me away to Amazon for follow-up purchases.
Out of curiosity, I checked the price and availability of the books Godin links to, both on Amazon and on the iBookstore:
Thinking, Fast and Slow | Amazon: $15.00 | Apple: $12.99
Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling | Amazon: $11.41 | Apple:$11.99
Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything | Amazon: $16.30 | Apple: $8.99
Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track | Amazon: $25.54 | Apple: $23.99
Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education | Amazon: $9.95 | Apple: $2.99
Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges | Amazon: $10.88 | Apple: $12.99
Horace Mann’s Troubling Legacy: The Education of Democratic Citizens | Amazon: $28.59 | Apple: NOT AVAILABLE
The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It | Amazon: $14.94 | Apple:$12.99
Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength | Amazon: $16.06 | Apple: $14.99
DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education | Amazon: $9.90 | Apple: NOT AVAILABLE
Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? | Amazon: $11.85 | Apple: $9.99
Civilization: The West and the Rest | Amazon: $21.50 | Apple: $16.99
Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room | Amazon: $17.15 | Apple: $12.99
Born to Rise: A Story of Children and Teachers Reaching Their Highest Potential (Preorder) | Amazon: $16.97 | Apple: $12.99
The Amazon links I’ve used come from a freely-available HTML version of Godin’s book. I don’t know if the version Godin submitted to Apple contains different links or different versions of the same links, though I think the answer to that may be an important consideration.
Out of fourteen books, all but two can be purchased through Apple’s iBookstore. Of those twelve, ten are cheaper (in some cases, a lot cheaper) to buy from the iBookstore than they would be by following Godin’s existing Amazon links.
Clearly, a hypothetical customer who purchases Stop Stealing Dreams from the iBookstore 1) prefers (or at least enjoys) ebooks and 2) has chosen Apple’s offering over utilizing the freely available Kindle app. Common sense, then, says you cater to that customer’s established preference, right?
My first thought was to investigate whether or not Godin was using Amazon affiliate links, which would at least provide a monetary explanation for his desire to carry over those links. (Apple would definitely frown on that, though.)
As it turns out, he’s not (or at least he doesn’t appear to be) but that doesn’t mean he’s using standard Amazon links:
Seth Godin’s company, Yoyodyne Entertainment, is all about fun and games. But its mission is serious business. Godin and his colleagues are working to persuade some of the most powerful companies in the world to reinvent how they relate to their customers. His argument is as stark as it is radical: Advertising just doesn’t work as well as it used to - in part because there’s so much of it, in part because people have learned to ignore it, in part because the rise of the Net means that companies can go beyond it. “We are entering an era,” Godin declares, “that’s going to change the way almost everything is marketed to almost everybody.”
The new model, he argues, is built around permission. The challenge for marketers is to persuade consumers to volunteer attention - to “raise their hands” (one of Godin’s favorite phrases) - to agree to learn more about a company and its products. “Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers,” he says. “It’s not just about entertainment - it’s about education.”
I honestly don’t know what it means, if it means anything at all, that “permissionmarket” appears in Godin’s Amazon links and, as I mention above, I don’t know if it appears in the links that were included with the version of Stop Stealing Dreams that Apple ultimately rejected.
And there’s the conflict. We’re heading to a world where there are just a handful of influential bookstores (Amazon, Apple, Nook…) and one by one, the principles of open access are disappearing. Apple, apparently, won’t carry an ebook that contains a link to buy a hardcover book from Amazon.
I have a lot of respect for what Seth Godin has to say, and I think the Domino Project remains a laudable and important undertaking.
With that said, Godin’s idealism (as it relates to this rejection) is a bit hard to swallow given his past connection to Amazon and the fact that he seems to exclusively favor Amazon links whenever he links his readers away to purchases. I’d be more inclined to sympathize with his position if he’d taken the time to provide links to a broader content ecosystem, when possible, especially given that it wouldn’t be particularly difficult to do so. (It took me about 20 minutes to compile the above iBookstore and Amazon links.)
From a customer service standpoint, it just doesn’t make much sense to link me away to Amazon when I’ve already opted to patronize Apple’s iBookstore. That is, unless permission marketing plays some role in Godin’s decision to do so?
Given that I’ve confessed a certain level of ignorance on the subject, I’ll update if and when I learn more.
Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool
Separately another VC recently told me his firm recently had passed on opportunities to invest in some new tech blogs that were proposing a business model he described as “hush money.” Potential investors were being offered “most favored nation” status for themselves and their portfolio companies if they put money into the site.
This is what now passes for “journalism” in Silicon Valley: hired guns and reformed click-whores who have found a way to grab some of the loot for themselves. This is perhaps not surprising. Silicon Valley once was home to scientists and engineers — people who wanted to build things. Then it became a casino. Now it is being turned into a silicon cesspool, an upside-down world filled with spammers, liars, flippers, privacy invaders, information stealers — and their grubby cadre of paid apologists and pygmy hangers-on.
I’ve been responding to comments on a post about my article on the Daily Beast today about Robert Scoble looking to get involved with an angel fund. This has set off a bit of a debate about online journalism and whether we’re all a bunch of click whores…
This is not to say one group is better than the other. Bloggers can do this, but mainstream reporters play by a different set of rules than bloggers. Having been both a blogger and a mainstream media guy, I see value on both sides. I definitely know which side was more fun. If bloggers can find ways to get rich off their blogs, more power to them.
Oh, fuck off, Dan Lyons. If that’s not what you were trying to say, you’ve got an awfully interesting way of not saying it. Everyone saw where the goalposts were, and it’s pretty clear that you’re now trying to move them.
Let’s be real, here: Dan Lyons doesn’t write anything particularly interesting about tech and no one really cares when he does make a feeble attempt to do so.
Because of that, he appears to be incredibly jealous of the reach of some of the internet’s more popular (and more outspoken) bloggers. He even admits this (via a hypothetical) in the first article linked above:
It’s tough being a journalist, especially if you’re covering technology and living in Silicon Valley, because it seems as if everyone around you is getting fabulously rich while you’re stuck in a job that will never, ever make you wealthy. What’s worse is that all these people who are getting rich don’t seem to be any brighter than you are and in fact many of them don’t seem very bright at all. So of course you get jealous.
This jealously is manifesting in increasingly personal attack rants and is taking up time that could (presumably) be better spent being relevant as a tech reporter for The Daily Beast.
I’m not sure Lyons ever got over the fact that he’s never been more popular (and probably never will be more popular) than he was back when he was pretending to be a man he seemed to despise.
And, of course, having retired Fake Steve Jobs, his only chance at staying relevant seems to be publicly shitting on people he’s clearly jealous of.
No one gives a shit about mainstream tech journalists these days. Those of us who care about technology news get better reviews and timelier information from popular tech blogs than we’ll ever get from people like Dan Lyons, and I’m sure that’s an awfully hard pill for some in the old guard to swallow. Especially those who fall into the category of too old to change, too young to retire.
Instead of accepting that and putting his head down and doing the “real” work he claims “real” journalists do, Lyons is going to spend the rest of his career pleading with people to give a fuck that technology blogs don’t live up to his expectations. The problem is, most people who read tech blogs don’t share those expectations.
He knows it’s not going to change anything, but at least it’ll drive some clicks.
There’s an early scene in the skate documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys where team Zephyr crashes a 1970s skateboarding competition, hoping to demonstrate new tricks. They were full of attitude and ego. They were also, by and large, thuggish assholes with a huge chip on their shoulder.
TVs are ultimately about picture quality. Ultimately. How smart they are…great, but let’s face it that’s a secondary consideration. The ultimate is about picture quality and there is no way that anyone, new or old, can come along this year or next year and beat us on picture quality.
Responding to questions from New York Times correspondent John Markoff at a Churchill Club breakfast gathering Thursday morning, Colligan laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector.
“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”
For serious readers, Franzen said, “a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience”. “Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change,” he continued. “Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don’t have a crystal ball. But I do fear that it’s going to be very hard to make the world work if there’s no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government.”
The Serious Reader — much like the Serious Music Lover and the Cinephile — is dying.
It was Colonel Ebook, on the subway, with the Kindle.
One wonders if Franzen isn’t lamenting so much the loss of the “serious reader” as the loss of the status quo: Readers who don’t actually do much reading, but who save their money for those bestsellers (cough, Freedom, cough) which pique their interest two or three times a year, because a massive marketing campaign tells them it’s time to open up their wallet and splurge on the next big thing.
That’s the sort of “serious” market which will always favor the Jonathan Franzen’s of the world. It’s not particularly condusive to the breakout author, the self-published, the diamond in the rough, or, you know, the rebirth of an industry gasping for breath.
This is the point where I planned to make some sort of “why so serious” crack about Franzen’s luddite-like views on the emerging ebook industry, but the more I think about it, the more obvious the answer becomes.
It’s kind of remarkable. I’ve set up a couple of PCs and a few TVs over the last couple of years. Buying a new television and setting it up is far more complicated now than buying a computer and setting it up.
The trouble, to me, isn’t that TVs are difficult to set up. The trouble is that they’re difficult to set up right.
For most consumers, good enough is as far as they’ll ever get.
How many times have you been to someone’s house, forced to watch “fat people” because the person who owns the TV hasn’t bothered to fix the aspect ratio?
How many people even know what an aspect ratio is? Which one to choose when watching HDTV versus SDTV? (Don’t even get me started on the cute names TV manufacturers come up with to make aspect ratios seem consumer friendly.) How to handle one movie in one ratio versus another? What’s the difference in quality between an HDMI cable, a VGA cable, and a component cable? Digital audio vs. the “red and white” cable?
"Why the fuck am I getting bars on both the top AND bottom AND sides of the picture!?"
Of course, it’s “easy” to plug in and get everything wrong — “the fat people don’t bother me anyway; I hardly even notice at this point” — or use whatever cables come in the box.
When people ask what Apple could possibly bring to an Apple-branded television, imagine plugging your TV in and getting the best quality you can get, out of the box, every time.
Imagine a TV smart enough that you don’t have to be all that smart to get everything you can out of it.
If you’re thinking about it from the perspective of what Apple can bring to the table, you’re probably on the wrong track: It’s not about adding, it’s about taking away.
Ideally, from Apple’s perspective, you’ll be using your new TV with their rich ecosystem of content. If you’ve got an iPad or an iPhone, all the better. Your new TV will fit your digital lifestyle like a glove.
If not, go ahead and plug that Blu-ray player in using the only option possible: HDMI for video and audio. You can go ahead and ditch any cable that Apple deems unworthy and don’t bother wondering if there’s a better option, because Apple won’t provide options.
It’s hard to believe, but it was around this time last year that I called Jeff to pitch the idea for a social site that would allow strangers to share their ebooks with one another.
Here’s an excerpt from an email I typed up after our initial call:
Carolyn came up with an idea that I think is pretty outstanding:
Nooks have had this feature for a long time, but Kindle just added the ability to “lend” a book to a person if they have a kindle account (kindle or any device with the kindle app) so long as you know their email address.
So, fleshing her idea out a bit, you sign up, input the books you have on your kindle and then people can search for, say, “the lovely bones” and see that 10 people have it available to lend. You then send a lend request and if someone accepts, they can lend to you as per Amazon’s guidelines. People can reject a request as well. Perhaps people could make their lists public or private and share with anyone or only friends.
It’s basically a public library for kindle and nook books mixed with a peer-to-peer network.
Obviously, we later decided to focus solely on the Kindle (a decision we’ve never regretted) and, unfortunately, The Lovely Bones wasn’t then, and still isn’t, a lendable title. We had really hoped to see more publisher support in 2011, but several remain on the fence.
The idea was so simple, so obvious, that my original pitch is pretty much what we’re offering today.
We quickly discovered that we wouldn’t be alone in the social lending space. In fact, the competition we faced on day one is more or less the same competition we face today. It’s tough to build a really good social lending site!
In spite of – or maybe because of – the competition, we’ve remained true to the lending site we want to offer, resting the urge to become too gimmicky.
We love stats, and we show off as many as we can: How many copies of a given book are available (if any), how long you’re likely to wait on a lend to come through, whether a book is lendable, or not, how much it would cost to purchase a book instead of waiting to borrow, and so on.
We first discussed the concept of a social lending site on January 15.
We settled on “Lendle” as a name on January 17. (It was not a universally loved choice.)
We announced that Lendle was “coming soon” on January 26.
Testing began on January 27.
Beta invites went out on February 2.
Lendle launched to the masses on February 12.
On March 21st, we faced a minor (cough, ahem) setback when Amazon revoked our API access. Less than two months in, we were forced to shut down.
We also saw mentions on Gizmodo, The Guardian, Business Insider, The Christian Science Monitor, MSNBC, Slate, Ars Technica, GigaOM and The New York Times.
Fortunately, everything worked out for the best and we were back up and running the following day. We lost one of our best (and most requested) features – RIP, beloved book sync tool – but we gained a lot of new Lendlers. Press outlets even started referring to lending and borrowing ebooks as lendling.
Over the next few months, we introduced several new features, including our first marquee feature: Patron accounts. A free Lendle account is pretty amazing. A $25 (one time) Patron account is an unbeatable deal.
And, of course, we launched Lendle’s most unique feature: It Pays to Lend
Even as we were preparing to launch, Jeff and I were talking quite a lot about a pay to lend concept. We thought it would be really cool if we could somehow pay our Lendlers for lending books, but we couldn’t really afford to do so.
Once we were finally earning a bit of consistent revenue through our Patron sign ups and the limited advertising we feature, we realized we could finally make it happen.
Whether you’re talking about Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, social networks are nothing without the backbone of a community, and that’s doubly true for lending sites: If no one lends, no one can borrow, and we’re a bust.
Lending sites have to be, in many ways, a perfectly balanced ecosystem – unless, of course, you’re happy to be a lending site in which no one ever lends any books.
Fortunately, our community of Lendlers has always been really great about fulfilling lends as quickly as possible – sometimes too fast, judging by some of the emails we get – and we wanted to put some of our revenue towards rewarding that effort.
So, we hatched a plan to pay out credits for every lend, and then $10 Amazon gift cards as those credits accumulate. No one else offers anything at all like this, to this day, and we think that’s one of the reasons Lendle has been so successful.
We launched the newest version of Lendle – the one you see when you log in today – on December 14.
Not only did we completely redesign the site from the ground up, we introduced Book Clubs, the best way yet to interact with other Lendlers and talk about your favorite books and authors.
We’ve got a ton of features planned for your clubs, so the best social book lending site is only going to get better over the next few months.
We also dramatically improved the speed and reliability of our search feature. (It was a long time coming.)
It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in only a year. Publishers haven’t embraced lending anywhere near as quickly as we’d hoped, and we’re still stuck as a US-only offering, but there are millions of Kindle owners who have yet to sign up with us and we’re happy to report that awareness is increasing at a rapid pace. Over the last several weeks we’ve seen easily six times our normal rate of traffic and the market is still wide open. Every new Lendler is another book you’ll be able to borrow, a new author to discover and obsess over.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a watered down, crippled version of the iPad. In almost every way, Apple’s product is better than Amazon’s 1st generation tablet.
I own both, and I’m comfortable with saying that. Of course, I haven’t returned my Kindle Fire, and I don’t plan on giving it away, either.
I do like the weight of the Kindle Fire while reading, but if that’s all I’m going to use it for, I like the weight of every available e-ink Kindle even more. (That’s a savings of at least another $100.)
Lodge any of the above criticisms, though, and you’ll likely hear: “Of course, dumbass! The Kindle Fire isn’t meant to compete with the iPad. It’s well under half the price of the cheapest iPad 2, and it was never meant to be anything more than a consumption device for people on the go!”
Someone should probably clue Amazon in on this line of thinking.
Currently, the top hit on Amazon when searching for “iPad” is a link to a chart comparing the Kindle Fire and the iPad 2. (Hat tip to Daring Fireball.)
As far as I can tell, Amazon doesn’t even list the iPad at its selling price of $499 — it starts “new” at $518.75, from various retailers who aren’t Apple. A quick check shows the iPad 2 currently in stock on apple.com, though I suppose it’s possible that it’s not available from Apple, on amazon.com. Sure seems fishy, though.
Back to that chart:
Marco Arment has already posted a pretty great rebuttal, so I’m not going to bother questioning or exploring the validity of Amazon’s arguments, except to say that this doesn’t seem to be the chart of a company that thinks its product isn’t directly in competition with the iPad 2, and better.
No matter how I read it, I’m not getting:
"Hey! We know you might want an iPad 2, but why not save $300 and buy a Kindle Fire instead? It even does some of the things an iPad does! If all you’re interested in is browsing the web and reading some books, you’ll love our Kindle Fire, and you probably don’t need the extra power, or the hundreds of thousands of apps, available with an iPad."
Instead, they’ve produced a feature for feature comparison which seems to argue that much of what the iPad does — both technically and functionally — the Kindle Fire does even better, or at least just as well. For $300 less!
Clearly, Amazon wants potential shoppers to feel like there’s nothing that an iPad 2 can do that the Kindle Fire can’t do just as well, or even better. For a lot less.
Web browsing? Way faster. Cost? Way Cheaper. Screen? Nicer. Apps? No difference! Storage? Less is actually more!
And, just in case you don’t want to take Amazon’s word for it, they’ve helpfully added a smattering of effusive praise from outlets who hadn’t yet spent any meaningful time with the product. Please don’t look at the man behind the curtain!
Amazon’s got every right to promote its product, and even to compare it against a competitor’s product. (Even if it’s arguable that they’re playing a bit loose with context.)
They’d be foolish if they didn’t do so.
With that said, can we at least drop the idea that it’s unfair to point out the Kindle Fire’s flaws, as compared to the iPad 2? If the comparison is good enough for Amazon, it’s good enough for those who disagree with Amazon’s assessment.
Apple-centric blogs play an important role in disseminating information about what is probably the most important consumer-electronics company in the world. But the coverage is hardly neutral.
While not all that surprising, the FUD factor can get pretty hot and heavy sometimes. You know, that tendency to try to discredit any major threats to Apple’s dominance. Namely, Android.
Take the blog Daring Fireball. It offers some solid analysis. But in the end it’s a fanboi site, assailing the misinformed or pointing out how wrong or disliked the Android competition is. That kind of attitude gets in the way of informed insight.
There’s nothing wrong with being biased, assuming you’re upfront about it.
Give me biased and right over fair and clueless any day of the week.
It’s acceptable, of course, to discuss whether Gruber is right often enough to overlook his biases, but Crothers doesn’t offer any such argument, so we’ll just assume he’s trolling. (One link does not constitute what I would call an argument.)
My experience, though, is that Gruber is often right, even if he’s often snarky, or brash, or smug.
At any rate, it doesn’t matter if I’m talking about politics, technology, soft news, or hard news: Being right — or at least being knowledgable — is more important, and even more desirable, than being unbiased.
When considering an obvious bias, here’s how I’d evaluate the usefulness of the source, from very to not at all:
Being right Bias doesn’t even play into this, really. If you’re right, you’re right, and if you contest “right” with accusations of bias you’re an idiot and/or a bigger fanboy than the person you’re calling out.
Being knowledgable Short of being right, being knowledgable enough about a subject to support or defend your bias is the best you can hope for. Bias mixed with knowledge makes for a compelling stew.
Cluelessness Is it even possible to be clueless and biased at the same time? There’s almost nothing interesting about someone who is unbiased but also clueless whereas being biased but also clueless is indefensible. Nothing to see here, move along.
Being wrong If you’re often wrong, and biased, you’re in trouble. (It’s akin to being a cocky loser.)
Being intentionally wrong If you’re intentionally wrong, and biased, you are, at best, an asshole.
I’d put Gruber somewhere between being right and being knowledgable. The surest way to piss people off is by being consistently right.
I’d put the best tech blogs in the category of knowledgable.
I’d put most of the mainstream media — when it comes to tech coverage — at clueless.
I’d put Crothers somewhere between being wrong and being clueless, with a dab of intentionally, casually, wrong. Classic troll territory.
It’s been quite an ordeal, but a Kindle Fire finally made its way into my hands.
I’ve been playing with it off and on for a couple days, now, and — it’s pretty much everything you’ve read in any of the reviews you’ve read. No more, no less.
Which is to say, a lot of people have already nailed its strengths (relatively few) and weaknesses (many).
The one caveat I’d add is that many of the weaknesses are rooted in software, and that’s the sort of thing that can be fixed, at least.
So, instead of rehashing what’s been said elsewhere, I’m going to touch on something that hasn’t been beaten to death, and that’s the idea of surprise and delight.
The underlying premise of surprise and delight is that you run up against a problem, and as you’re doing what you think should happen, it actually happens, or it happens in a way you didn’t anticipate, and you think to yourself: “Wow, I can’t believe someone thought of that. Genius!”
iOS is filled with surprise and delight moments. Perhaps the best example is the ability to type a period with one continuous motion — without lifting your thumb — even though the period key isn’t on the “home” keyboard screen. Uninterrupted flow. One click where three might otherwise be necessary.
In my experience, Amazon’s devices don’t seem to contain many surprise and delight moments, if they contain any at all.
As has been discussed, there’s no dedicated hardware home button on the Kindle Fire.
Instead, each app has a touch-based home button. That’s fine, and I think it’s something I’ll eventually get used to and it’s something people who haven’t used an iOS device might not even need to get used to.
With that said, the home button is situated in the bottom-left of every app. This is a real problem when you’re holding the device one-handed with your right hand, because it’s nearly impossible to reach the home button while doing so.
There are any number of reasons why your free hand might not be available for button pressing, but the least tawdry (and most important) reason is that some people don’t have left hands.
The obvious solution, then, is to simply put the home button in the bottom-middle of every app. Boring, but perfectly acceptable.
The surprise and delight solution is that the Kindle Fire somehow knows which hand it’s being held by, and accommodates for that preference (or disability) by moving the home button to an accessible corner.
Suddenly, the user thinks: “Holy shit, that’s genius, I can’t believe Amazon thought of that.”
Except, no one thinks that, because Amazon’s Kindle Fire isn’t filled with surprise and delight moments.
That doesn’t mean Amazon won’t sell millions of Kindle Fires.
What it might mean is that people will buy them, but they may not find much of an urge to actually use them, once the novelty wears off. Or, they may not find much reason to ever buy another tablet device from Amazon. Or, maybe no one ever talks about the Kindle Fire in a way that makes other people excited to own one as well.
Surprise and delight is the stuff of fanboy devotion. It’s the foundation of customer loyalty. It’s why Apple can lag way behind Android in units sold but still dominate mobile browsing statistics.
You can hate me for being an iOS fanboy, or call me a shill, but whether you like it or not, Amazon, at least, wants me to be an Amazon fanboy — Bezos wants to command a loyal army of Amazon fanboys — and he’s not going to get that through sheer volume.
Advertising Age, reporting on comments made by Gawker Media’s Nick Denton at the “Media Evolved” conference:
Owner of an online media empire that spans the flagship Gawker to sports-oriented Deadspin to io9 for sci-fi diehards and racks up a combined 20 million unique views per month, Mr. Denton told the audience that there are plans in the works for a product launch that would aim to enhance the commenting environment in the hopes of attracting smarter readers who are currently wary of entering the conversation.
Denton, of course, is right to want to fix this. I’ve got serious doubts, though, that Gawker Media is the conglomerate that is going to tackle and/or solve the problem of comment porn.
Anyone with any interest in intellectual honesty will admit that the Gawker Media modus operandi is, by and large, controversy over quality. Nick Denton is in love with page views, and I doubt very seriously that there’s any real introspection going into this mystery product.
Gawker Media’s problems run too deep, and Denton’s interests are too aligned with the comment porn he’s decrying, for him to ever make a serious effort at managing it.
But, he’s right about the problem, even if he’s (probably) full of shit about being able to (or even wanting to) fix it.
An organization that truly wants to offer a comment system that is as good as their best content must do a few things:
The site must offer content that is worthy of smart comments. If your best isn’t very good, game over. There’s no sense in hoping for comments that are smarter than the content you’re offering and, let’s face it, most of the Gawker Media sites aren’t offering smart content, produced by smart people, driven by smart focus.
The site must be willing to sacrifice page views in the short term and maybe even in the forever term. In some ways, doing this and doing it right will involve a line in the sand and choosing between conflicting reputations. I suspect Gawker won’t be willing to make this sacrifice, because they clearly love their tawdry, tabloid-style reputation.
The site must understand the problem. There’s trolling, there’s commentary, there’s fake smart vs. real smart and there’s general chattiness. Denton, at least, seems to recognize that general chattiness is, in many cases, the biggest problem. Chattiness does not respect smart content and it does not engender intelligent commentary. Trolling, as Denton suggests (but as most sites don’t handle well enough, or with a firm enough hand) can be handled via deletions and censorship. (Let’s not pretend that removing content — even when it’s warranted — is anything other than censorship. Solving this problem will require an embrace of censorship, applied appropriately.) A site must assess what they’ll accept, and what they won’t, and curate for it.
Solving the problem won’t be free. Sites which produce great content pay to get it. Sites which hope to produce great comments should, as well. This means hiring people who are smart, who like to talk about great content, and who are good at it. I’m not sure what you’d call them, but they’d be there to lead by example and to set the tone. They would, in essence, take ownership of the conversation.
Ideally, authors would take an active role in shaping the discussions found underneath their content. My experience on Gizmodo, though I don’t comment there, is that most of the authors are assholes who — if they participate at all — do so to feed trolls and/or ban those who disagree with their premise or call into question their intentions. Any site which is determined to include smart comments should make author participation a requirement.
Anyone who wants to participate in these smart comment threads, but who is not paid to do so, should only be allowed in based on reputation (invites, perhaps?) or via a premium pay wall. I’d pay $10 a year to jaw with smart people, over topics I’m passionate about, if I knew that I’d not have to put up with certain elements.
This should be a privilege, not a right, and it should be possible to lose this privilege.
Comment threads shouldn’t go on forever. Conversations are best when they’re fresh. Some sort of self-destruct mechanism would be a good idea, at which point the conversation is there for posterity.
In this way, it would be possible to supplement great content with great commentary. One could be as important as the other.
Such as system wouldn’t necessarily have to replace a more traditional comment system, but it should be the more prominently featured system. (It might even be possible to recruit smart commenters from the traditional system, once they’ve proved their mettle.)
Again, I have my doubts that Nick Denton is taking this seriously enough to disrupt the worthlessness they’re facing, but it sure sounds good to make bold proclamations in interviews at tech conferences.
Any viable solution will require honest-to-God soul-searching and, frankly, Gawker Media doesn’t have the requisite soul.
A few beta thoughts about the new Mac OS X browser, Raven:
It’s still in beta for a reason. In an hour or so of use, I’ve noticed a ton of bugs. (Key commands don’t always work and I’m typing this post in Safari because Tumblr’s formatting palette doesn’t bother to load in Raven.)
It’s still awfully fun to use, even with the to-be-expected bugs.
I love the ability to install web apps of my favorite sites. Raven’s got me covered, for the most part, even in beta: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Docs, iCloud, Daring Fireball, Pandora, etc., with the promise of more to come.
I’ve sent in some feedback on the apps implementation:
The idea is that you can install a web app, and it will then provide one click access to the primary features of a given site.
For example, Tumblr’s app can take you straight to your dashboard or straight to the “create new text (or photo, or link) post” page.
The Daring Fireball app has links to John Gruber’s Twitter feed and the Talk Show podcast on the 5x5 Network. Each app is different, and they’re building an SDK so that developers can submit new apps, with custom features.
It’s very, very cool.
The problem I’m running into is that it’s also very, very easy to get lost.
If I click on the Daring Fireball app, I can still navigate to other web pages while in that app. If I do so and then switch to a different app, it’s very easy to forget where I was when I viewed the other page, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to find this out, at a glance.
A related problem is that if I’m in the Daring Fireball app, manually navigating to the Tumblr website doesn’t automatically switch me over to the Tumblr app in the sidebar.
Raven should be smarter than me: All my Tumblr activity should occur in the Tumblr app, all Twitter activity should occur in the Twitter app, etc, and this should all happen automatically. Why have a dedicated Tumblr app, if — sometimes — Tumblr’s web page can be loaded in the Daring Fireball app?
Similarly, anytime I visit a website that is not one of my installed web apps, that activity should be passed to the default Raven app — home base, if you will. Don’t clutter my web apps with unrelated web activity. (Exceptions could be made for links, or perhaps a key-command for “keep me in this app”.)
I’ve also noticed that if I’m in an app, and I already have a window open, clicking the icon for that page (for example, re-clicking the icon for the Talk Show web page in the Daring Fireball app) doesn’t refresh the page, as one would expect. Instead, it opens the same page in a new tab. This can quickly lead to tab bloat.
Lastly, the home page button should load the home page for whatever app you happen to be in, rather than the default Raven home page.
Beyond those issues, I’m really excited to follow along with the development process. I’ve never really gotten into Chrome, and Firefox is kind of a non-starter, for me, so it’ll be interesting to see if Raven can tear me away from my Safari rut.
So far, I really like that it feels fresh and that it offers a unique twist on the typical browsing experience.
It’s becoming more and more clear that Steve felt personally betrayed by Google’s decision to enter the smartphone market with Android — an OS that is in almost every important way a copy of Apple’s iOS.
I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.
Some see hypocrisy in this reaction.
I’ve always thought the “good artists copy” line was confusing, at best, so I started to think about it: What does it actually mean?
The best possible analysis, I think, rests in the distinction between copying and stealing.
They’re both negative concepts, at first blush, but the quote clearly indicates that stealing is better than copying.
Those who hold the quote against Steve, given his reaction to the rise of Android, often seem to conflate the two terms, but:
Copying involves reproducing something wholesale and leaving the original intact.
Stealing involves taking something and making it your own; the original owner is left with nothing.
It’s simple, really: There’s nothing bold about copying. Great artists (or designers, or whatever) take what they need and they make a product their own. But it’s also much bigger than that.
Apple didn’t invent the iPod, they stole the idea and made the music industry their own. The way we buy and listen to music is now shaped almost entirely by Apple’s vision.
Apple didn’t invent the smartphone, they stole the idea and reshaped the industry in their own vision. Yes, Apple has “copied” bits and pieces of iOS from other sources —notifications is the obvious example — but overall, the future of the mobile industry has been shaped by Apple.
Apple didn’t invent the tablet computer, they stole the idea and now iOS is the template for the tablet market.
The future isn’t about market share, it’s about a post-PC mindset:
Pre-iPad, tablets were attempting to hitch a ride East. Apple built a brand new car and started driving West.
Even assuming someone, someday, takes the bulk of the tablet market (as Google’s Android OS has done in mobile) they’ll be sitting bitch in Apple’s vision of a post-PC world.
As it stands, Apple owns the future and Microsoft still doesn’t know where their tablet ideas went.
The takeaway: In each of the above cases Apple stole the future out from under their competitors.
The reason Apple TV and iBooks aren’t taking off — the reason Apple isn’t owning those industries — is that Apple hasn’t stolen anything. They’ve brought almost nothing to the table. They copied our basic ideas of what an ebook reader and a streaming set-top video device can be:
"You wanted it, here it is."
When Steve called Apple TV a hobby, he meant that Apple is borrowing ideas because they don’t yet know how to steal the industry. The future is still up for grabs.
I would argue that the reason Steve Jobs was so irate about Android (beyond the personal betrayal of Eric Schmidt) is that it seems to aspire to little more than a “good enough” facsimile of iOS, and most of Google’s hardware partners are slavishly aiming for “iPhone-like” hardware designs.
"Open" is Google’s attempt to steal the future, but it’s not catching on. (Google knows this because their extensive research tells them that people don’t "love" their Android phones. You can’t steal the future if no one feels a connection to your product.)
That just leaves the copying. Google isn’t taking ownership of anything except market share. Google is living in Apple’s stolen future.
That’s not to say that copying can’t be a successful business strategy. The quote doesn’t have much to say about whether “good” artists can move a lot of units and “great” is never a guarantee of long or short-term mainstream success.
This may be the most apt description of the difference between Apple’s vision for iOS and Google’s for Android I’ve ever read. It’s also as good a summary of Steve Jobs’s legacy and genius as you’ll likely ever find:
One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.
2005 (Not a smart phone. Phones used to look like this, though, so I thought I’d set the stage.)
2007 (Apple’s first iPhone.)
2008 (Apple’s iPhone 3G.)
2010 (Apple’s iPhone 4.)
So, to recap, it’s commonly argued that there’s only one way (or not many ways) to design a smart phone, given that you’re dealing with a device that is mostly screen. This argument is made to bolster the view that it’s absurd for Apple to sue manufacturers who copy the look and feel of the iPhone, due to its proven success, rather than innovating — because Android manufacturers simply don’t have a choice.
The 1st generation iPhone (Only 2 Gs!) couldn’t be more different than the cell phones which had previously dominated the market.
The iPhone 3G made modest changes to the 1st generation iPhone, but looking at the two devices from behind, they’re distinctly different.
The iPhone 4, on the other hand, is a complete rethinking of the look and feel of a touchscreen smart phone. It looks nothing at all like the iPhone which preceded it. In fact, Apple’s design change wasn’t merely cosmetic — the change was so radical that it’s new (revolutionary!) antenna system caused usability problems and a temporary media crisis. (Innovation and risk go hand in hand.)
Apple, at least, doesn’t seem to have any problem coming up with new, advanced designs for its touchscreen smart phones. In just over three years, we’ve seen two iPhone designs which are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
Apparently, when people say “there’s only one way to design a smartphone” they mean:
Unanswered questions surrounding the investigation into Apple's lost iPhone prototype
It’s hard to believe, but Apple has, apparently, again lost a “priceless” iPhone prototype just prior to the launch of their newest iPhone. (If they’re going to lose one, this is when it will happen. Testers gonna test.)
Last year, an iPhone 4 prototype was bought by a gadget blog that paid $5,000 in cash. This year’s lost phone seems to have taken a more mundane path: it was taken from a Mexican restaurant and bar and may have been sold on Craigslist for $200. Still unclear are details about the device, what version of the iOS operating system it was running, and what it looks like.
These guys out-reported just about everyone, last year, during the first iPhone prototype debacle by, well, reporting. Still, I wasn’t very impressed with this story, because it’s so very light on detail, and — if I’m being honest — I thought it smelled fishy. Beyond the lack of any real evidence, any real names, there were bits like this:
A day or two after the phone was lost at San Francisco’s Cava 22, which describes itself as a “tequila lounge” that also serves lime-marinated shrimp ceviche, Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police, saying the device was priceless and the company was desperate to secure its safe return, the source said.
The pitch for Cava 22 seemed really bizarre and out of place, to me. (Complete with a link to the Cava 22 website, and a later addition in which the owner makes a clever remark about how strong their drinks are.)
In retrospect, I wonder if perhaps someone at Cava 22 was the source, having agreed to speak to CNET in exchange for publicity? The other possibility is that one of the SF police officers tipped CNET off, and Sandoval and McCullagh just really, really like shrimp ceviche.
Apple electronically traced the phone to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, according to the source.
When San Francisco police and Apple’s investigators visited the house, they spoke with a man in his twenties who acknowledged being at Cava 22 on the night the device went missing.
"When they came to my house, they said they were SFPD," Calderón said. "I thought they were SFPD. That’s why I let them in." He said he would not have permitted the search if he had been aware the two people conducting it were not actually police officers.
An earlier version of this story involved the claim that no one at the scene was an actual SF police officer, leading to questions about whether or not someone might be guilty of impersonating a member of the SFPD. It has since come out that two Apple employees, one of whom is a private investigator for Apple, were accompanied by three plain-clothes SF police officers.
Meanwhile, Gizmodo, a major player in last year’s investigation — having paid $5000 for a stolen iPhone prototype — has been all over the story:
No one holds a grudge quite like Gizmodo, and if references to the Gestapo and blustery assumptions are what you’re after, Gizmodo is probably the best place to get news about these events as they unfold.
Jesus Diaz, in response to a commenter, promises that they’re going to blow the roof off this story, and soon:
Don’t get lost. We will guide you. There’s obviously something stinking here. We will discover it very soon. And it’s not going to be pretty.
That’s a bold claim, given that thus far, they’ve been playing lap dog to the actual reporters, doing the actual reporting. As always, if Gizmodo spent half as much time reporting on tech news as they do trying to get even with Apple after last year’s investigation, they’d probably produce content worth reading.
As it stands, their current angle is to highlight anything that seems like an impropriety, at the expense of any real investigative reporting.
Here’s what we now know, none of which is known due to any reporting done by anyone who works for Gizmodo:
"Something" was taken from Cava 22, and it’s important enough that Apple wants it back.
That “something” was tracked (via GPS) to a residence and the man who lives at that residence — Sergio Calderón — admits he was at Cava 22 the night it went missing.
Two Apple employees, alongside a few plain-clothes police officers, came to Calderón’s residence. The plain-clothes cops flashed their badges and Calderón subsequently allowed the two Apple employees in to search his residence and computers for evidence. He claims he believed they were also police officers.
Calderón also claims that someone made threats about his and his family’s residency status and that he was offered $300 “no questions asked” for the return of the phone.
Apple isn’t talking, the SF Police department seems to be offering contradictory stories about what they knew and when they knew it, and most of the “hard evidence” is based on Calderón’s description of what happened.
The device is still MIA.
I’ve said all along that something fishy is going on, and even though we now know more, there’s still a lot of things that don’t make much sense.
It’s not at all surprising, to me at least, that Apple would ask the SFPD to accompany their private investigator to a home after tracking their lost property to that residence.
My guess is that Apple wanted this kept quiet, to avoid the embarrassment of a repeat of last year’s loss, yes, but they also wanted to be sure to get into the house. If they’d have shown up unaccompanied and been turned away, the prototype would have been as good as gone. Apple’s PI likely knew that they only had one chance.
It is surprising, though, that the SFPD has been so wishy-washy about their involvement.
Here’s where the investigation needs to go, in order of importance:
What exactly went missing? Where is it now? What’s the deal with the “may have been sold on Craig’s List for $200” CNET scoop?
Why isn’t anyone investigating the fact that it was tracked to the residence of a man who freely admits he was in the bar the night the device went missing?
What’s the deal with the SFPD’s changing story and did anyone actually make threats of deportation?
One of the Apple employees was a private investigator. Who was the second Apple employee?
I simply don’t see a story regarding the angle that Apple would involve the SFPD when attempting to retrieve property that they’d tracked to a specific location. I’d do that. You’d do that, and Gizmodo’s editorial staff would do that. Seems like exactly the right thing to do.
Furthermore, Calderón allowed the search, which wasn’t even carried out by the SFPD. You don’t need a warrant when you’re invited in to search a house.
If my phone is stolen, and I show up at the suspect’s house, that suspect can either let me search for it, or tell me to get stuffed. If he lets me, though, I’m going to do it. Perhaps, in this case, threats were used that shouldn’t have been, but Calderón still had the right to refuse a search, and he didn’t.
Blog Redux: An unsolicited rewrite of an Andy Rutledge blog post
Caveat: I don’t know Andy Rutledge, and I only semi-followed the brouhaha involving his unsolicited redesign of the NY Times website — and only then because the part I followed involved my cousin and Lendle partner, Jeff Croft.
In this case, I think Jeff’s criticisms — and popular opinion — seem to be justified. More importantly, Rutledge appears to be missing, or ignoring, the point of most of the criticism and has now veered off into hyperbole. (Libel? Really?) To that end, I’m offering a totally unsolicited redesign of his initial blog post:
July 17, 2011
I think this is as good a place as any for Rutledge to make all the caveats he seems to be making in hindsight. Right at the top. It probably would have been wise to (at least) feign respect for those who put a lot of work into the design he’s about to dismantle.
Also, as Rutledge is a designer, but not (I assume?) involved in the news in any real way, that probably would have been worth mentioning, as well. Admitting our own limitations while pointing out the faults of others seems humble. Rutledge doesn’t.
Digital news is broken. Actually, news itself is broken. Almost all news organizations have abandoned reporting in favor of editorial; have cultivated reader opinion in place of responsibility; and have traded ethical standards for misdirection and whatever consensus defines as forgivable. And this is before you even lay eyes on what passes for news design on a monitor or device screen these days.
In digital media—websites in particular—news outlets seldom if ever treat content with any sort of dignity and most news sites are wedded to a broken profit model that compels them to present a nearly unusable mishmash of pink noise…which they call content.
In an effort to disguise and mitigate the fact that they have little idea how to publish digital content properly—often sneakily called “differentiation”—some news outlets release apps for digital devices. These apps typically (but not always) do a better job of presenting content and facilitating navigation, but they’re a band aid on a festering abdominal wound. Digital media is simply digital media; if you do it right you publish once and it works anywhere. If you’re using an app to deliver content, you’re doing it wrong.
Complete assholish and accusatory snark. He should rewrite all of the above without it. That is, if he doesn’t want to spend the next few days arguing with the internet.
More of same. See above.
Some news sites are done better and some worse, but The New York Times presents a rather typical example of terribly-designed news. As they are somewhat well known in the news industry, I’ll use their site as the redux example in this article (know, however, that it is news in general that I’m talking about).
The Times politics page. I think the object of the game must be to fit as much “content” onto the page as possible in an effort to overwhelm the reader, tricking them into believing that the NY Times is just bursting with a mindbogglingly-bottomless array of important information. If only the reader could learn to ignore 60% of what’s here, she might have a chance at a pleasant experience. Please stop helping. What you’ve got here is not content, but noise.
It is hard to believe that the Times, or any other similar publication, actually cares about the news when they treat it with this sort of indignity. Worse, the design makes it quite hard and often frustrating to simply scan the news and find stories that one might be interested in. As a news reader, I want to be able to scan headlines and logically find news I’m interested in reading. And by logically, I mean according to clear, usable, undistracted organization and filtering.
It’s hard to say whether Rutledge is angry about the state of the news industry, or the state of design in the news industry, but one way to avoid a fight is to not pick one. Perhaps I’m beating a dead horse, here, but Rutledge could have avoided most of the ensuing fallout by simply being a bit more magnanimous, throughout.
For example, putting the word content into quotes is nothing more than a smug insult. I picture him finger quoting the word as I read it, and that’s just unacceptably annoying.
At this point, Rutledge finally gets around to his comps as well as some text that is centered around his opinions about how to improve the usability of the NY Times website.
It is, of course, all highly debatable and opinionated. It’s pie-in-the-sky utopian design, but that’s what blogs are for, right? The phrase “in a perfect world…” comes to mind, and that’s the sort of scenario which can open up a great dialogue, providing you don’t immediately trip up your audience with rude and unhelpful commentary.
My initial suggestion that Rutledge acknowledge his lack of experience in designing for the news has the overall benefit of padding his opinions with a sense of humility. Instead, we’re served up a heaping helping of ego which, apparently, everyone was supposed to overlook, or just swallow whole.
In the end, there’s no point in telling someone what opinions to have, but Rutledge seems to need a primer in “how” to have opinions, if he’s determined to express them in a reaction free environment.
I would add one thing, right at the end: Rutledge goes to great lengths to dismantle someone else’s work, and he does so in an fairly dickish tone. It seems a bit cowardly to provide no real mechanism for feedback and, if anything, that’s what led to the public drubbing he’s now facing. Having a strong opinion almost always means others will, as well. Better to face it in on your own turf than to have the fight erupt elsewhere.
Comments aren’t generally necessary on blogs, but they are if you want to crap all over someone’s work AND later complain that detractors then took to their own outlets in response.
Alongside Jeff and Kent croft, I conceived, co-founded, and launched Lendle a little over four months ago. Our little slice of the book-lending market has performed beyond our expectations, and I think it’s fair to say all three of us are amazed at how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.
For me, though, the most satisfying aspect of running a social book-lending site has been the chance to do something I’ve always known I’d love: Evangelize, promote and drive the social aspects of a product I am truly proud of.
Apple today announced iCloud, iOS 5, and Mac OS X Lion. All expected. I followed along on Engadget — Macworld’s live feed was too buggy with its “live” updates — and my initial thought was: “Apple is knocking this out of the park.”
I still feel as though this is a major move forward for Apple, but in seeing the inevitable “what does this mean for Dropbox, or Rdio, or Instapaper” posts trickle down through my Twitter feed, I’m left with a lot of questions, and few answers.
Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.
I think it’s quite possible that this issue could be the single greatest long-term threat to Apple. I’d hate to see today’s handset makers turn into yesterday’s tobacco companies.
Gruber has since updated his post, but his initial thought seems to be along the lines of my initial thought: Here come the lawsuits.
With that said, there really aren’t very many similarities between the tobacco companies then and cell phone manufacturers now, from a legal perspective. I happen to know more about lawsuits against tobacco companies than most — but because I value my job, I won’t be going into any real detail. I think I can get this out without doing so:
The primary similarities are 1) cancer and 2) a period of time in which the scientific community seems to be divided on whether or not a causative factor can be attributed to a specific product. That’s pretty much it.
The primary differences:
There’s no evidence that any cell phone manufacturer, let alone Apple, is outright ignoring the threat. Indeed, the CNN report I’ve linked specifically mentions that Apple recommends against holding an iPhone within 5/8 of an inch from your face while it’s in use. RIM’s user manual includes a similar warning. There goes the “failure to warn” claim.
There’s no real evidence of either a public or private coverup of the risks of using a cell phone. No one is on record denying or even downplaying the risks, as far as I’m aware. Is a private coverup possible? Sure. Given the lack of existing scientific knowledge, though, it can’t be a very compelling coverup. EDIT: There has been some effort from lobbying groups — including Apple, apparently — to avoid having to list absorption rates of radiation from cell phones. The argument seems to be that they already comply with FCC regulations and listing absorption rates would imply health risks that the FCC says do not exist. (These efforts will come up in future lawsuits.) The cell phone industry is also saying that there is no “conclusive evidence” that cell phones cause cancer and that remains true today. The WHO report doesn’t seem to say otherwise.
What aspect of cell phone use is analogous to nicotine in cigarettes? This is a big one. There’s no addiction component, let alone any way to claim that a cell phone manufacturer (Apple or otherwise) tampered with the product to make it next to impossible to give up, even when faced with a cancer risk. Does vendor lock-in count as an addiction? Nah. Bye bye, punitive damages.
Apple provides a headphone/mic combo with every new iPhone, mitigating whatever actual risk there is — if there is any at all — assuming the mic is used.
There’s no reason Apple or RIM or whoever couldn’t simply innovate the risk away, without harming their bottom line. Even if the risk was undeniable, holding a phone next to your brain certainly isn’t a vital component of a handset, assuming they couldn’t figure out a way to make it “safe” to do so.
And, of course, the update Gruber provides indicates that the scientific evidence still isn’t there to show that cell phone radiation can cause DNA mutation. In fact, there seems to be scientific evidence that it’s not even possible:
All cancers are caused by mutant strands of DNA. Electromagnetic radiation can’t create mutant strands of DNA unless the frequency is at or higher than the blue limit of the visible spectrum the near-ultraviolet. The frequency of cell phone radiation is about 1 million times too low.
That’s not the case with cigarette smoking and hasn’t been for a long time.
Ultimately, the only thing Apple and other cell phone manufacturers should probably do, at this point, is make mention of the WHO report within their safety manuals and perhaps recommend that those with concerns utilize a hands-free headset whenever possible. Addressing the issue rationally is the best bet to head off future litigation.
All of that aside, nothing I’ve said has anything to do with whether or not Plaintiff lawyers are seeing dollar signs. I suspect people with brain cancer and a history of cell phone use will probably be in high demand, very soon. Key piece of evidence? Today’s overly-sensational news headlines.
This report from WHO, though, shouldn’t be compared against the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, because it’s not anywhere near as strong in its conclusions.
Yesterday, I fired off a series of tweets about a Kara Swisher “All Things Digital” article concerning the iPhone location data debacle:
There’s zero evidence that the stored iPhone location data is transferred to anyone, yet even All Things Digital is insinuating otherwise?
Have I missed the reports that the iPhone “regularly transmits the location data back to Apple”? http://bit.ly/eioaoF
I expect that kind if shoddy reporting from Gizmodo, but Kara Swisher is usually above it.
I say a lot of things on Twitter that I might not say (in the same way) to a person in a face-to-face encounter because, given my measly 198 followers, I don’t expect the things I say to get back to the people I say them about.
Usually, that works out pretty well for me. Not this time. Kara Swisher responds:
@brianericford we did not insinuate that. We were quoting a WSJ story on the subject explaining the controversy
@brianericford I don’t expect such shoddy reading
Zing! In Swisher’s defense, I’d be pissed too — and I’m not even a pro — if someone were to compare the quality of my writing or reporting to Gizmodo. In this case, though, I don’t think I’m wrong, nor do I think my reading was shoddy. The portion of Swisher’s article that prompted my tweets:
That includes Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google smartphone kingpin Andy Rubin, both of whom are now dealing with the fallout over a series of reports that iOS and Android smartphones regularly transmit their locations back to both companies.
That’s not a quote from the WSJ story, that’s a description of a “fallout” that is happening “now” regarding transmitted location information. The current story surrounding Apple is a cache of historical location data, up to a year old, that is stored on a user’s iPhone and then synced to the user’s computer. The men who discovered the data went out of their way to say that they saw no evidence that the data was being transmitted (let alone regularly) to Apple, or anyone else.
It’s true, though, that Swisher mentions a WSJ article. That article says, in part:
Apple, meanwhile, says it “intermittently” collects location data, including GPS coordinates, of many iPhone users and nearby Wi-Fi networks and transmits that data to itself every 12 hours, according to a letter the company sent to U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) last year. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.
This is news from last year, it’s information that Apple disclosed to a congressional inquiry and as such, it’s hard to believe that the “fallout” has anything to do with that issue. Even the WSJ article agrees:
Apple this week separately has come under fire after researchers found that iPhones store unencrypted databases containing location information sometimes stretching back several months.
When I say shoddy reporting, I mean that Swisher has taken an already confusing issue and made it more confusing by conflating a new (separate) issue with an old, disclosed issue and, by doing so, has insinuated that the historical information that is stored on an iPhone is being transmitted to Apple. At no point does Swisher clarify that she’s talking about two separate issues.
My — perhaps shoddy — reading of Apple’s explanation:
As they stated last year, live location data is sent to Apple on a per-application basis if you opt-in. That data is anonymized and serves as a crowd-sourced cache of cell-tower and wifi hotspots.
That cache then assists in quickly locating cell-tower and wifi hotspots for end-users whose iDevices are attempting to access a data network.
That recycled data is then stored in the cache which is at the center of this new issue. Apple apparently doesn’t transmit this cache of historical location data off of a user’s iPhone or computer, as initially reported but subsequently mis-reported.
Apple does admit that the data is being stored for too long, however. “Bug” fixes coming soon.
Meanwhile, Gizmodo posts an article which confirms that they’re the undisputed king of shoddy journalism. Kara: I’m truly sorry for the hyperbolic comparison.
That explosion you heard yesterday was the internet finding out that iPhones are tracking our every move and — gasp! — storing historical data about our whereabouts over time.
I’ve read at least one article, written by a total bonebag, positing that this is all a plot by the Obama administration.. Other reports are a bit less extreme, but as you can probably imagine, hyperbole saw its shadow and we can now expect another six weeks of absurd speculation.
Finally, there’s “The ‘Ick’ Factor.” I don’t believe that Apple is up to anything nefarious here (again, I think it’s tracking the performance of the phone and not the movements of the user) but it makes the iPhone look very, very bad. That’s not to say that other phones don’t do even ickier things with user data…but this one’s big and public and easy to demonstrate on a nightly newscast.
In other words, at best, Apple’s got some ‘splainin to do. At worst, Steve Jobs is aiding and abetting a government invasion of your privacy. Ain’t nothin’ but a thang.
Still, it would seem that all of the caveats that make this seem “less bad” are countered by the fact that Apple didn’t tell anyone that this information was being logged.
So, for the sake of avoiding the debate, we’ll just agree that Apple should have disclosed this and if it was a deliberate secret: Bad Apple!
Now that we know it’s there, the question becomes: Is there any reason a person (you or me) might actually want access to such information?
Virtually every objection I’ve seen to storing tracking data is that someone might get caught doing something they shouldn’t have been doing, based on the existence of incriminating evidence that they weren’t able to wipe, because they didn’t know it existed. That’s true. If you cheat on your wife and say you were in place A but your iPhone puts you in place B (someone else’s vagina, perhaps) — that could lead to an awkward confrontation. Or, if you were “eating lasagna on fifth avenue” while your phone says you were “murdering your boss on 2nd street” — whoops.
But, isn’t the opposite just as true? I mean, presumably there are some people who could prove their innocence based on the existence of tracking data?
More importantly, something I keep reading is that very similar information is kept “secure” by cell companies and that law enforcement officers can subpoena that information and use it against you in a court of law.
If a corporation has access to (and controls information about) my whereabouts over time — and can be forced to hand it over to Joe Friday — I want to have my own local copy of that same information. The more detailed, the better.
Yes, I want to know that I have it, and I want to be sure it’s not being sent to anyone else, but I sure hope that we have the option of keeping this data once we find out why it exists in the first place. For those of us who are in the habit of being faithful to our wives and who only THINK about killing our bosses (kidding!) it seems like valuable data, and nothing to be nervous about.