me & her

Jul 07

Kids Don't Care About Cars -

parislemon:

Bob Lefsetz:

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.

Apr 14

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.

A quick look at Qwilt’s announcement raised some red flags:

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:

image

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:

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?

Blech.

Apr 04

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?

On games:

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.)

Apr 03

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.

Indeed, Mueller is no stranger to the concept.

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 search resumes.

Apr 02

The Verge: This is the reversible USB cable that will end your frustrations
It’s also the reversible USB cable that ensures Apple dumps iDevice support for USB. Look at Apple’s Lightning cable and port vs.  these renderings of the new USB 3.1 Type-C cable and port. They’re virtually indistinguishable.
A large selling point of the Lightning cable was to introduce a no-hassle, no-look reversible cable for iOS devices. 
Imagine a cable that has Lightning on one end and USB Type-C on the other end. Now imagine trying to decide which end goes into which port.
So, either Apple moves the USB end on iDevice cables over to Thunderbolt or they move away from cables entirely in favor of wireless charging, or both.
Either way, USB is out.
Right?

The Verge: This is the reversible USB cable that will end your frustrations

It’s also the reversible USB cable that ensures Apple dumps iDevice support for USB. Look at Apple’s Lightning cable and port vs.  these renderings of the new USB 3.1 Type-C cable and port. They’re virtually indistinguishable.

A large selling point of the Lightning cable was to introduce a no-hassle, no-look reversible cable for iOS devices. 

Imagine a cable that has Lightning on one end and USB Type-C on the other end. Now imagine trying to decide which end goes into which port.

So, either Apple moves the USB end on iDevice cables over to Thunderbolt or they move away from cables entirely in favor of wireless charging, or both.

Either way, USB is out.

Right?

Mar 19

Hey, CNN. We need to talk.

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:

 03/08/14

  1. Quest: Malaysia Airlines jet was ‘at safest point’ in flight 
  2. U.S.-based firm: 20 employees on plane 
  3. Search for missing jet escalates 

03/09/14

  1. American Philip Wood aboard missing jet 
  2. Vast waters hide clues in hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 
  3. Plane bore painters, pilgrims, others from around the world 
  4. Are flight recorders ‘antiquated?’ 
  5. International crews search for plane 
  6. Official: Lost jet ‘may have turned back’ 
  7. CNN Student News - March 10, 2014 

03/10/14

  1. Flight 370: Honoring the missing 
  2. History of Boeing’s 777 
  3. AC360 Exclusive: Brothers of missing American on Malaysia Airlines flight speak 
  4. Massive search for Flight 370 expands 
  5. Two passengers on Flight 370 were traveling with stolen passports 
  6. Flight 370: Honoring the missing 
  7. Piloting in an emergency 
  8. Possible causes for the loss of Flight 370 
  9. Search for Flight 370 expands 
  10. Agonized families await answers over missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  11. Stolen passports raise possibility of terrorism in missing flight 
  12. No sign of Malaysia Airline wreckage; questions over stolen passports 
  13. Boeing through the ages: Planes that changed the way we travel 
  14. Looking for a needle in a haystack: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  15. Missing flight: Everything considered 
  16. Who travels with a stolen passport? 
  17. ONLY ON CNN: Thai PM comments on crash 
  18. Search underway for missing Flight 370 
  19. Police: Iranian booked tickets for two passengers with stolen passports 
  20. What happened to Flight 370? Four scenarios fuel speculation among experts 
  21. Police: Iranian requested flight for pals 
  22. CNN Student News - March 11, 2014 
  23. Families’ agonizing wait for news 
  24. EXCLUSIVE: Thailand Prime Minster Yingluck Shinawatra on missing airplane, domestic protests 
  25. Friends tell of fears as hopes dim for passengers on Malaysia Flight 370 
  26. 'There are no answers': Days later, no sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  27. Why so few clues about missing Malaysia flight? 
  28. Stolen passports used to board Flight 370 
  29. Flight 370 victim family holds out hope 
  30. Huntsman: Energy exports can hurt Putin 
  31. FBI to run thumbprints of two passengers 
  32. Is Flight 370 similar to past mysteries? 
  33. Is Flight 370 similar to past mysteries? 

03/11/14

  1. Flight 370: The mysterious trail 
  2. Woman claims to have spent 2011 flight in cockpit with currently missing co-pilot: “They were smoking…they were posing for pictures” 
  3. Frustrated families wait for answers about Flight 370 
  4. With few answers about Flight 370 wild theories are springing up 
  5. New questions in the Malaysia Airlines 370 disappearance 
  6. Investigating a mid-flight mystery 
  7. Major shift in the Flight 370 investigation 
  8. Sorting through the Flight 370 evidence 
  9. Families wait for news on Flight 370 
  10. Rep. Mike Rogers on Flight 370, Ukraine 
  11. Remembering the missing on Flight 370 
  12. Flight 370 families demand answers 
  13. Terrorism not ruled out for Flight 370 
  14. Major shift in the Flight 370 investigation 
  15. Flight 370: CIA not ruling out terrorism 
  16. Could a meteor have hit Flight 370? 
  17. Conspiracy theories surround Flight 370 
  18. Friend of Flight 370 couple pays tribute 
  19. Inside a virtual Boeing 777 
  20. King: Malaysia has dropped the ball 
  21. Was Malaysia Airlines 370 hijacked? 
  22. King: Malaysia has dropped the ball 
  23. Virtual look at Flight 370’s route 
  24. Take a virtual look inside a Boeing 777 
  25. Virtual look at Flight 370’s route 
  26. Aviation experts: Flight 370 scenarios 
  27. See how you can help locate Flight 370 
  28. Expert on the ‘point of max confusion’ 
  29. Former CIA official: I’d ‘bet a heavy paycheck’ against Flight 370 being terrorism 
  30. Why hasn’t technology located Flight 370? 
  31. Flight 370 family members wait in agony 
  32. Missing Malaysia plane way off course 
  33. Join the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  34. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Passport Mystery Solved 
  35. How does a Boeing 777 become invisible? 
  36. CNN Student News - March 12, 2014 
  37. CNN aboard aerial search and rescue mission for missing plane 
  38. Aerial view of search is ‘reality check’ 
  39. MH370: More questions than answers 
  40. Men with stolen passports identified 
  41. How did stolen passports get through? 
  42. Missing flight: This doesn’t smell right 
  43. Official: No plane wreckage found 
  44. Who were the mystery men on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? 
  45. When passenger jets mysteriously disappear 
  46. Pilot’s take on Malaysia Air Flight 370 
  47. Search widens for missing Flight 370 
  48. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Mystery Passenger ID’d 
  49. Mystery Malaysia flight may have lost signal, gone hundreds of miles off course 

03/12/14

  1. Flight 370 compared to SilkAir crash 
  2. Hope remains in search for Flight 370 
  3. Breaking down possible wreckage images 
  4. FAA warned Boeing 777s had problems 
  5. China: Satellite images may show wreckage 
  6. Search expanded for missing flight 370 
  7. How YOU can help with Flight 370 search 
  8. 'Transponder' can help find Flight 370 
  9. Photos may show missing plane … now what? 
  10. 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” 
  11. Pilot Ron Brown on satellite photos: “There is a lot of trash floating in those waters” 
  12. Veteran pilot on Flight 370 search 
  13. Fmr. NTSB official: Images are not MH370 
  14. Flight 370 compared to SilkAir crash 
  15. Breaking down possible wreckage images  
  16. Hope remains in search for Flight 370 
  17. Breaking down possible wreckage images 
  18. FAA warned Boeing 777s had problems 
  19. China: Satellite images may show wreckage 
  20. Search expanded for missing flight 370 
  21. How YOU can help with Flight 370 search 
  22. 'Transponder' can help find Flight 370 
  23. CNN Student News - March 13, 2014 
  24. Did Flight 370 veer off course? 
  25. Conspiracy theories surround Flight 370 
  26. Conflicting reports have families fuming 
  27. Satellite looking into missing Malaysia flight detects ‘suspected crash area’ 
  28. Malaysia Airlines: What is a transponder? 
  29. 'Phantom call' theory dismissed by experts 
  30. Malaysia Airlines: What is a transponder? 
  31. Timeline of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  32. Crowdsourcing volunteers comb satellite photos for Malaysia Airlines jet 
  33. Woman says she and friend flew in cockpit with missing jet’s co-pilot in 2011 
  34. Passengers’ fake passports shine light on Southeast Asia migration path 
  35. Husband’s eerie instructions for wife 
  36. Several false leads in the Flight 370 search 
  37. False leads in the Flight 370 search 
  38. Satellite photos may show missing plane‚Ķ what now? 
  39. The U.S. effort to find Flight 370 
  40. Satellite photos may show Flight 370 debris 
  41. Satellite photos & the search for Flight 370 
  42. Confusion over Malyasia’s Flight 370 investigation 
  43. Malaysian authorities face backlash 
  44. Hope and fear for the Flight 370 families 

03/13/14

  1. Soucie: Pings are call waiting for answer 
  2. Do Malaysian officials’ reports add up? 
  3. Communications system adds to mystery 
  4. Honoring the missing on board Flight 370 
  5. U.S. Navy Commander searching for Flight 370: “If something was in the Gulf of Thailand we would have found it” 
  6. What are search ships looking for? 
  7. What does a turned off transponder say about the fate of Flight 370? 
  8. 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” 
  9. Theories on the disappearance of Flight 370 
  10. If Flight 370 flew for hours with its transponder off‚Ķ where could it be? 
  11. Searching for signs of Flight 370 
  12. Theories on Flight 370’s disappearance 
  13. Massive shift in Flight 370 search area 
  14. Was MH370 stolen? 
  15. 'Significant likelihood' plane in ocean 
  16. Expert: Mechanical failure not a factor 
  17. New clue in missing Malaysia plane 
  18. CNN’s GUT CHECK for March 13, 2014 
  19. Pilot: 777s don’t just disappear 
  20. Crowdsourcing search for Malaysian plane goes viral, but no luck so far 
  21. Sometimes you never find the crash site 
  22. The anguish of waiting 
  23. Malaysian officials deny plane rumors 
  24. No debris found in South China Sea 
  25. Search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane expands to Indian Ocean 
  26. Pilot: 777s don’t just disappear 
  27. Crowdsourcing search for Malaysian plane goes viral, but no luck so far 
  28. Transponder’s fate may prove key to solving Malaysia Airlines puzzle 
  29. Missing Malaysia airliner: Questions and answers 
  30. Nine aviation mysteries highlight long history of plane disappearances 
  31. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Days pass, no word of loved ones 
  32. Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: What we know and don’t know 
  33. Oceanographer ‘astounded’ by latest twist 
  34. Is Flight 370 still sending signals? 
  35. SOTU Scoop 
  36. W.H.: Flight 370 search expanding west 
  37. Using high-tech tools to find flight 370 

03/14/14

  1. WSJ: Flight 370 probe focuses on sabotage 
  2. Could Flight 370 have been sabotaged from within the cabin? Experts say yes 
  3. WSJ report Flight 370 Sabotage reaction 
  4. Pilot’s friend: He is caring, loves job 
  5. Sorting through Flight 370 information 
  6. Was MH370 sabotaged from the cabin? 
  7. Re-creating missing plane’s timeline 
  8. WSJ report: Flight 370 possible sabotage 
  9. WSJ: Plane probe focuses on sabotage 
  10. Expert: My money is on hijacking 
  11. Re-creating MH370’s altitude change 
  12. Loved ones hope for hijacking of plane 
  13. Do Chinese satellite images hold clues? 
  14. Sunday on SOTU 
  15. CNN Political Programming: Sunday, March 16 
  16. Recreating MH Flight 370 
  17. Fmr. FAA official weighs in on flight 370 
  18. Report: Plane took 1 of 2 paths 
  19. SOTU Scoop 
  20. US: Lithium batteries being examined 
  21. Flying business 
  22. Was the missing Malaysian flight stolen? 
  23. Earthquake hits Flight 370 search zone 
  24. Plane theories: Mystery of Flight 370 
  25. Flight 370 defies tracking technology 
  26. Inside a Boeing 777 
  27. Andaman Chronicle Editor: “no chance” Malaysian Airline flight 370 landed on Andaman or Nicobar Islands 
  28. Five things to know about India’s Andaman Islands 
  29. Who are the missing Flight 370 pilots? 
  30. Flight 370 hijacking theories: Improbability or best hope? 
  31. Malaysia Flight 370: Amid a sea of questions, 28 of the most compelling 

03/15/14

  1. Police search pilots’ homes 
  2. Search zeroing in on Indian Ocean 
  3. Watch AC360’s tributes honoring the 239 people missing on Flight 370 
  4. The massive search area for Flight 370 
  5. Malaysian PM points to deliberate action 
  6. A portrait of missing passengers 
  7. Mystery of missing plane still unfolding 
  8. Transcript: Malaysian Prime Minister’s statement on Flight 370 
  9. Focus on ‘two corridors’ in plane search 
  10. Sinking fast inside a flight simulator 
  11. Flight 370: Analyzing the technical data 
  12. U.S. officials lean toward ‘those in the cockpit’ behind missing flight 

03/16/14

  1. Tracking Malaysia Air flight 370 
  2. Private ships search for missing flight 
  3. Sunday Chatter: Putin, 2014 and the missing Malaysian airplane 
  4. The mystery of Malaysia Air 370 
  5. The search for Flight 370 continues 
  6. Will the mystery of Flight 370 be solved? 
  7. Will mystery of Flight 370 be solved? 
  8. Sen. John McCain: U.S. needs ‘fundamental reassessment’ of Russia relationship 
  9. Sleepless nights, agonizing days for father of Flight 370 passenger 
  10. The mystery of Malaysia Air 370 
  11. Why so many watch plane coverage 
  12. Coverage of Flight 370: The demand for news 
  13. The mystery of Malaysia Air 370 
  14. WEB EXTRA: A twisted timeline of flight 370 updates 
  15. What does the U.S. know about MH 370? 
  16. Frustrations boil over for families 
  17. SOTU EXTRA: What is the black box? 
  18. Malaysia Flight 370: The 10 big questions 
  19. Pilot: Whoever changed flight path was an expert 
  20. Plane takeovers a dangerous reality 
  21. Lives, not numbers: Snapshots of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 passengers 
  22. WEB EXTRA: A timeline of flight 370 
  23. Coverage of MH370: The demand for news 
  24. More countries join Flight 370 search 
  25. What does the U.S. know about MH 370? 
  26. History’s big mysteries: Questionable deaths, missing people, monsters 

03/17/14

  1. Relatives of missing passengers react 
  2. A closer look at the Flight 370 pilots 
  3. Partner: I’m not giving up hope 
  4. Flight 370: ‘A cacophony of conjecture’ 
  5. Hope and uncertainty for Flight 370 families 
  6. Hope & uncertainty for Flight 370 families 
  7. Jim Tilmon: Where was ground control in all of this? 
  8. Could Flight 370 have flown below radar 
  9. Investigators search homes of Flight 370 pilots 
  10. U.S. Navy Commander on searching the Indian Ocean: There probably isn’t enough ships and aircraft in the world to search every inch 
  11. Might missing Flight 370 have landed, then refueled, in the name of terrorism? 
  12. Flight 370’s timeline adds to the mystery 
  13. Fllght 370: Waiting is the Hardest Part 
  14. NYT: Computer sent missing plane off path 
  15. Flight 370 pilots’ homes searched 
  16. What the data says about Flight 370 
  17. What may have happened inside the cockpit? 
  18. U.S. adjusts role in Flight 370 search 
  19. Flight 370’s timeline adds to the mystery 
  20. Flight 370: Landed, and refueled? 
  21. Investigators focus on crew, passengers 
  22. Concerns about pilot’s mental state 
  23. Expert: Loopholes in Malaysian security 
  24. Politics of Flight 370 pilot questioned 
  25. Flight 370: What do we know? 
  26. Where plane changed course a major clue 
  27. Flying Below the Radar with Greg Charvat 
  28. Could a plane hide from radar detection? 
  29. How could plane fly under the radar? 
  30. When did key system shut down? 
  31. Can passengers’ phones help in search? 
  32. Flight 370 investigation looks at pilots 
  33. The 45-second guide to Boeing’s 777 
  34. Amanpour: ‘greatest aviation drama’ 
  35. What Could Have Happened to Flight 370? 
  36. Report: Plane flew as low as 5,000 feet 
  37. Families wait for word of missing flight 
  38. Beijing’s Lido Hotel a grim backdrop as relatives cling to hope 
  39. Searching for Flight 370 
  40. Finding Flight 370 
  41. Beijing’s Lido Hotel a grim backdrop as relatives cling to hope 
  42. Searching for Flight 370 
  43. Finding Flight 370 
  44. Help from above: Satellite signals can confirm a plane’s identity 
  45. Why are we so gripped by missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? 
  46. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Get up to speed on the latest developments 
  47. Malaysian government uncomfortable in spotlight over missing plane 
  48. Malaysia Flight 370: The 10 big questions 
  49. Malaysia Airlines: Pilots of the missing plane; suspected in ‘deliberate action?’ 
  50. Civil aviation engineer aboard Flight 370 

03/18/14

  1. Who was in command of missing airplane? 
  2. 'No motive' in disappearance of airplane 
  3. Watch flight simulator attempt theory 
  4. Why were no calls made from Flight 370? 
  5. Sarah Bajc: Please don’t hurt the people on the plane 
  6. Flight 370: Analyzing the facts and breaking down theories 
  7. Flight 370: Analyzing facts and theories 
  8. Holding out hope for Flight 370 survivors 
  9. AC360 Exclusive: Inside ACARS 
  10. Recreating Flight 370’s sharp left turn 
  11. Recreating Flight 370’s sharp left turn 
  12. Partner of missing man: Plane was taken 
  13. Examining MH370 conspiracy theories 
  14. Flight 370: Examining fire theory 
  15. MH370: Search area nearly size of U.S. 
  16. Flight 370 questions? We’ve got answers 
  17. Did a fire take down Flight 370? 
  18. Missing plane talk on jihadist websites 
  19. Former pilot: I flew the missing plane 
  20. See how search area compares to U.S. map 
  21. U.S. Officials: No link seen between missing jet and 2001 Malaysian hijack plot 
  22. No Motive in Disappearance of Airplane 
  23. Who Was In Command of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? 
  24. U.S. Officials: No link seen between missing jet and 2001 Malaysian hijack plot 
  25. Inside the cockpit of a Boeing 777 
  26. Thailand radar picked up unknown signal 
  27. Thailand radar tracked unkown signal 
  28. Courtney Love is as obsessed with the missing plane as you are 
  29. What Happened in Cockpit of Flight 370? 
  30. Missing plane’s pilots: Is there a clue in their psychological evaluations? 
  31. Could Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have slipped by radar? 
  32. Malaysian politician: Flight 370 pilot supported me, but was no hijacker 
  33. Astronaut: New satellites could track missing planes 
  34. New evidence in Flight 370 search explains plane’s path 
  35. Pilots, passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 under scrutiny 
  36. CNN Student News - March 18, 2014 
  37. Malaysia Airlines passenger’s partner says she’s certain her soul mate is alive 
  38. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 search grows as pilots face increased scrutiny 
  39. Key moments emerge in tracking of missing Malaysia Airlines plane 
  40. Recreating Flight 370’s sharp left turn 
  41. Could Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have slipped by radar? 
  42. Did terrorists take control of Flight 370? 
  43. Theories abound from experts and amateurs alike on fate of flight 
  44. #370Qs: Your questions answered 

03/19/14

  1. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Some Data Deleted From Flight Simulator 
  2. Families frustrated with lack of info 
  3. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Southern search area seen as most likely 
  4. Families not getting enough support 
  5. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: How do passenger jets change flight paths? 
  6. Flight 370 puts Israel on high alert: “Israel has close to zero margin for error in countering and protecting itself against a hijacked airplane” 
  7. How do ocean recoveries work? No clue too small after crashes 
  8. Why were there no phone calls from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? 
  9. MH 370 pilot: Home flight simulator seized in hope of clues 
  10. Experts answer #370Qs tweets about missing Malaysian flight 
  11. Confessions of a nervous flier 
  12. Ex-pilot: MH370 pilots possible heroes 
  13. Malaysia probe focuses on westerly turn 
  14. Wailing mom dragged from briefing room 
  15. Searching for the plane truth — amid speculation 
  16. Shouts, chaos as families protest handling of missing plane 

Phew!

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.

I for one can’t fucking wait.

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Mar 13

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:

Is Amazon primed to raise prices? Of course. But first they’ve got to put Barnes and Noble out of business.

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?

Today, the Nook is all but dead, Barnes and Noble is desperately seeking suitors in order to stay afloat, Apple is appealing the verdict after losing its DOJ price-fixing trial, and Amazon’s share of the ebook market is reportedly growing again. (Small wonder.)

Everything’s coming up Milhouse Amazon! 

More from my article:

Amazon can’t give away money forever.

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?

It’s not like Amazon bought out the world’s most popular online audio bookseller only to lower royalty rates on self-published audiobooks, right? Who knows if the DOJ will ever decide to focus its sights on Amazon.

Meanwhile, Amazon is great for consumers, right up until it isn’t.

Dec 02

Prime Air (Actual) Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Nov 14

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?

That’s Stephanie Metz, mom of two. You can read the whole dumb screed here.

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.

Odd, then, that some kids feel the need to take their own lives.

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.

Nov 06

God damn! Amazon is asking for protection money from traditional booksellers!

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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: 

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.