A week has passed since I moved downtown to the city. Currently I am still in a state of flux - halfway between where I was and where I want to be. Still not into the new place yet and living out of a hotel room doesn't give one the most complete sense of grounding. But, at the same time I could not be more confident in my decision that this is the right place and time for me. That there's a reason this is where I am and a reason I've met the the people I have recently met. There's an energy that pulsates off the sidewalk and gives me an energy I haven't felt in years; that there's a purpose here.
I know that the next stages for the website are still in a state of (what seems like) perpetual hiatus. There's a "Voices" initiative that we'll hopefully be able to announce shortly. There's an entire redesign and fundamental re-thinking of how AP.net works and operates that I am hoping we can launch by the end of the year. My head is pounding with more ideas and creativity than I've felt since I was an angry teenager and had this crazy idea to see what would happen if I wrote about music on this new-fangled interweb.
Heh, and because I'm just writing what comes out as I sit in a booth at Blue Moon -- I've got this feeling that who I was doesn't have to be who I am ... but I am re-finding security in my skin daily. I know who I am. Love it, hate it, love me, hate me ... I'm still just the boy with a keyboard and headphones. There's something new bubbling just below the surface, something I haven't felt before, something that tells me the next stage of life is going to be even better than the last. Something that tells me no matter what I can always hit play and the rest of the world can fade to black and white. There's comfort in the melody.
Minus the Bear have always been one of my favorite bands ... the kind of band that just releases album after album of music I like. I liked Omni when others thought it was a step back. Anyway, the new one has a sound more similar to the band's previous albums with but still with a more "glossy" production sound.
Over all -- I definitely like it, but I don't think it's my favorite from them. The song structures are great, the instrumentation is fantastic, but it feels like some of the parts are better than their whole. Didn't hit me the same as their last few have on first listen, but with this band ... it's always the 6th or 7th that really pay off.
After about three listens ... I finally can put some thoughts down on the new Boys Like Girls album. It's poppy. Very. Very. Poppy. But, where I made the turn on the album is when someone mentioned something about it kind of reminding them of Butch Walker in some thread. So, after initially not really liking what I was hearing -- I went back to it with a different mindset. While it's not really my kind of thing right now, for what it is - a slower hook filled pop album - it is pretty good at that. Martin sounds great, the hooks are there, the lyrics are eeeeeeehhhhh-at-best but you can't help singing along to most of it. I guess there is a little Butch Walker-esque pop sensibility here, and coming at it with that angle ... made me appreciate the album more than my first time through.
Top songs: "First Time" "Stuck in the Middle" "Leaving California"
I figure if I'm going to write something, in that Ijusthavetogetitout way -- it might as well be here. I've spent the last 14 or so years writing here, I guess I can't stop now, right? If I can't be real here -- where can I? If I don't write this now -- I can't move forward. Fuck, sometimes that's the only constant I know. Turning on music and letting my fingers fly over a keyboard. I know a few people have wondered why I haven't been at the forefront (news/writing) of the website recently. The truth is that this has been one of the hardest periods of my life that I've ever experienced. A lot of life changes all happened at relatively the same time. Picture trying to take a breath of air only to have water poured down your throat. Unrelenting. I've been spending a lot of time working on things behind the scenes with email/promotion/organization/restructuring because the thought of trying to just "go back into what I always did" didn't feel right. The idea that I could move on with my life as though nothing happened -- was a joke -- things did happen. And with that I knew changes needed to happen ... learning was paramount to continued happiness in my life. So, while I was helping coordinate what will soon be announced as the first full-time hire at AP.net (extremely excited about what this future will look like), and while I was working on the goals and promotions for the rest of the year ... I was spending my free time at night learning more about myself. Deconstructing who I am. Deconstructing who I was. Reconstructing who I want to be. There is no such thing as an overnight change, but what I believe in is that by creating new habits in my life I can reinforce the person that I want to be. By focusing on these habits of mindfulness I can avoid one of my biggest pitfalls: When I was younger I thought out a vision of the life that I (thought I) wanted. I thought that if I simply checked items off a list - I could be happy. I was wrong. The list was wrong. The idea that there's a linear path in my life was flawed.
Right now? I've never felt better. I feel a fire burning in my fingers like I haven't in years. I feel an energy I have never experienced before. I am incredibly excited to continue moving forward with the next stage of life, and how this website plays a role inside of it. I believe that the engineering team is still working on optimizing the new website for launch at some point this year ... I am hoping that this happens sooner rather than later. It is, unquestionably, the future of this community. While that's still being put together I am going to be working on a lot of things for this current version of the website and its partners. This is going to include a very big promotion push from our end (I had wanted to wait for the new website ... but, well, what can you do) ... and I will also soon be announcing what I believe is the formation of the future of "punk/alternative" music blogs on the internet.
Life rarely turns out how you expect. The roads you think you're on sometimes end up just being paths to the next junction. Just because you think you're where you thought you wanted to be ... doesn't mean it'll stay that way or that you're done learning and growing as a person.
An article popped up on one of the social sites I follow a while back (twitter, maybe?) - and I sent it to Instapaper to check out later. Having just read it ... I am doing the job of passing it on to others. Hit me at just the right time, in just the right places. Life as a Conscious Practice
Remember that we become good at what we repeatedly do, and what we do repeatedly can be done consciously. It’s when we’re conscious that we are truly alive.
Having been absolutely killed with stuff the past two weeks, I haven't had time to do any sort of round-up post in a long while ... well, I can change that today and add a bunch of stuff that I've read, and haven't yet shared with the world. So, this is probably going to be even longer than most (that's what happens when I get behind). After this I can maybe start working on a few other writing pieces I need to get started, after I make the obnoxious trip to the DEQ to get my car tags renewed.
Mile-long emails telling me about how so-and-so is the next hot artist blowing up all over my face. New album press releases that assume I have 40 minutes to spend learning all about how some artist “grew up in the poorest regions of such and such area before ‘rising to fame’”. It’s all hype that makes no sense given that you have only 80 fans on Facebook.
During our meetings with multiple vendors on the Computex Taipei, we were talking about pricing options for taking the Windows RT route instead of (free) Android from Google. While it was rumored that Microsoft decided to change their ways and offer a price of about 35 dollars – the reality is that Windows RT will cost staggering USD$80-95 dollars, with $85 being the most commonly quoted price.
This week on America’s favorite two-star podcast, I’m joined by special guest star MG Siegler. Topics include the way that Android, as an ecosystem, is spiraling out of Google’s control; Facebook’s purportedly “disastrous” IPO that actually worked out pretty well for Facebook itself; and a rundown of the various rumors heading into next week’s WWDC.
If PC makers wait until there are no VGA projectors in use before they stop putting VGA ports on laptops, they’ve waited too long. Just copy Apple: get rid of the antiquated port, make thinner computers, and sell $20 adaptors for those who need them.
It's not about stealing. It's about access. The cable companies currently control that access — to the point where HBO will not sell their own content for nearly a year after it has aired. But they could. I'm currently downloading the season finale of Mad Men, which aired earlier tonight. I'm (happily) paying AMC (via iTunes) for that access.
There are about 16 ways this can turn into a disaster for Microsoft. Their entire business model the past few decades has been built upon software licensing. Now their model is hardware sales mixed with software licensing. With the purchase of Motorola, the big fear in the mobile industry is that Google will make this jump as well. With Microsoft now actually doing it, it's a bajillion times worse. At least Android is free (sort of — coincidentally, most OEMs pay Microsoft to use it). Windows is not free. OEMs will be paying Microsoft to directly compete with — wait for it — Microsoft.
The tables are uncluttered and the products are clean. But the main reason notebook computers screens are slightly angled is to encourage customers to adjust the screen to their ideal viewing angle—in other words, to touch the computer!
RIM will no longer be making the 16 GB model of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The 16 GB PlayBook will continue to be available for distributors and retailers while quantities last. We continue to remain committed to the tablet space and the 32 GB and 64 GB models of the BlackBerry PlayBook continue to be available from our distributors and retailers around the world.
So here’s the big controversy of the moment: Adam Carolla is getting fucking hammered for an interview he did where he said that, in his experience, female TV writers tend to not be as funny as male TV writers.
One of the most unnecessary additions to iOS 6 is also one of the most telling. Apple has made the metallic volume slider in the iPod app and elsewhere change its reflection as the iPhone is tilted -- as if it were actually reflecting light. While some may say it's a waste of engineering resources, this shows Apple's incredible attention to detail.
So, let me make sure I understand. Skype is worried that my conversations might not be “engaging” enough. So, instead of my daughter doing funny dances for her grandparents in the US, Skype will “generate fun interactivity” by prompting us to talk about “the brands that we care about”? Like, “Hey, how about that new Magnum ice cream flavor, eh?”
His observations are fascinating. It shows that even though record labels certainly deserve their share of the blame when it comes to the dismal state of the commercial music industry, the history and context of music sharing has an enormous part to play in the rise of modern-day music piracy. The publishing industry has a very different historical context, so we can’t just apply the “lessons” from the music industry to the challenges introduced by digital books.
In perfectly competitive markets, all profit margins tend toward zero. So equity value is a function of the degree to which you can make your market inefficient by making your business hard to copy (so called “defensibility”). If your defensibility depends solely on having superior people, you have what VCs call a “service business.” In a competitve labor market, service businesses tend to have low margins and therefore low equity values. A popular saying about service businesses is “the equity value walks out of the building every night.”
Then, after working night and day to make your vision reality, you wake up to find that things did not go as planned. Your company did not unfold like the Jack Dorsey keynote that you listened to when you started. Your product has issues that will be very hard to fix. The market isn’t quite where it was supposed to be. Your employees are losing confidence and some of them have quit. Some of the ones that quit were quite smart and have the remaining ones wondering if staying makes sense. You are running low on cash and your venture capitalist tells you that it will be difficult to raise money given the impending European catastrophe. You lose a competitive battle. You lose a loyal customer. You lose a great employee. The walls start closing in. Where did you go wrong? Why didn’t your company perform as envisioned? Are you good enough to do this? As your dreams turn into nightmares, you find yourself in The Struggle.
You can see why I was ready to give points for honesty. For once, he actually admitted what he and his allies mean when they talk about shrinking government. Conservatives love to pretend that there are vast armies of government bureaucrats doing who knows what; in reality, a majority of government workers are employed providing either education (teachers) or public protection (police officers and firefighters).
Truth is that my first impressions aren't going to do this album justice. It needs a full on review - but, that's the kind of thing that needs a lot more time, especially if I'm going to actually write a review in a way I haven't in years. But ... that's coming, in tr meantime - how about some first thoughts on the new Yellowcard album? I feel like I'm in a good position to talk about this band - having followed them virtually their entire careers.
I have emotional attachments to basically all their albums. I loved OFTK and OA, and have long thought PW was their best album. While their previous release was a great welcome back ... maybe something wasnt quite there. Or maybe PW was just really hard to follow-up? Whatever the case, this album is undeniably great. After a few spins I am thinking this could be the essential YC album, and most certainly one of their best in their catalog. They hit this one completely out of the park and made an album that transcends just fun pop-punk by being more ambitious, more intelligent, and having more heart than most albums full of hooks of this level.
Opening track is brilliant. It's instantly one of my favorite YC songs ever. What I love about this album in general is the energy the songs have. They sound full and thick - and the band isn't holding back. Some pop songs you can tell the band tried to write a "pop song" -- however with this album you never get that feeling, you have the feeling this band wrote the songs they needed to write. That had to come out.
Track four has one of the biggest choruses the band's ever written. There's almost a dance like quality to the beat, but not in that overdone annoying way. And it's definitely unique on this album. However the song itself is bloody brilliant. Huge hook, great melody, and some lyrics that I absolutely relate to ... the song deserves to be on everybody's mix tapes and summer samplers.
My full review will touch on the other songs, but I also have to call attention to "10" because it might be one of the most emotional songs ever attempted by this band. The album has a few Star Wars references on it, but the one in this song – may just bring you tears.
All in all, I'm extremely impressed with this album. It seems like the band is at the top of their game, and making music as good as they ever have before. I can't believe it's been so many years since I first heard "One For The Kids", but here we are now with the newest Yellowcard release: and it's just as good as they've ever been.
Note: Pardon the awful typos. My Internet is down and I'm typing this from my iPhone. I will edit it when it goes back up. I will also write more - a keyboard is way easier to type on.
OK, been a few days - and I have a pretty big collection of things to share that I think are worth reading. From a standpoint of bigger/longer form reading, I finished Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" a few days ago, and enjoyed it. I'm now on to "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain -- which I am also really liking. I'm using the library's ebook service to read it, and while free - the product kind of sucks. I'd much prefer to use iBooks. Meh, not sure how many more books I'd read on the library ebook reader. Hmm, I wish that iBooks or Amazon had a library thing like the Kindle for Prime. I'd totally pay $X amount per year to be able to read books on my iPad like a library. But, I digress...
On Friday, after hearing some big, awesome, potentially life changing news about both the other members of the Lawrence Arms, I went to see Against Me! and hung out with all sorts of great mofos. I am also here to report that the biggest difference between Tom Gabel and Laura Grace is that Laura is vastly, vastly more famous than Tom ever was and it’s pretty cool, but more than just a little bit intimidating, and I say this as a longtime friend of both Laura and her wife. Short version: the band was great, Laura’s performance was much more effortless and natural than Tom’s ever was and she was very nice in answering some technical questions I had (“if you were to duck into the woods to pee, would you squat or stand?” [the answer was ‘well, I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m still figuring all this stuff out’ if you’re curious]) and was even gracious enough to not tell me to go fuck myself when a well intentioned, but in hindsight probably inappropriate anecdote of mine descended into babbling incoherence.
More pointedly, good user experience is the art of a drill going through wood, or a surfboard gliding through water effortlessly. The feelings those give you is unparalleled because they just work, simple as that. Though, in contrast, the shape of that board that helps it make those turns on the wave is good UI, and the surfwax on the top so you don’t slip off is also good UI. In short, the ENTIRE package is what makes it good UX, whereas good UI is always a very important inner-element of that.
If you have a Facebook account, you've likely seen your dull friends post some version of a "privacy notice" there recently. The idea is that posting it as your status will somehow prevent Facebook from, well, doing the things Facebook does with your information. It's nonsense. Don't be that person.
I can appreciate why Google is working on all kinds of new technologies like the self-driving car, but I think it’s time to fix some of the things it’s been ignoring for a long time. The big one for Web publishers is Feedburner.
There was nary a mention of Zune, an existing Microsoft music and movie service, at the E3 event where Xbox Music was announced. But afterward, a Microsoft spokeswoman, Melissa Stewart, confirmed that the Zune brand is going away so Microsoft can use the better-known Xbox brand for its entertainment services, including its online video service.
What you’re hearing is the way 20th century technology tunneled through a 19th century network; what you’re hearing is how a network designed to send the noises made by your muscles as they pushed around air came to transmit anything, or the almost-anything that can be coded in 0s and 1s.
Ping, however, demands that you undershare. When you share a track, album, or playlist with friends, they can’t listen to it in its entirely. Instead, you’re allowed a 90-second preview, which again underscores Ping’s commercial (and somewhat unfriendly) nature. A true friend doesn’t wave a bowl of soup under your conk, allow you a savory sniff, and then jerk it away demanding that you pungle up to ingest the stuff. They scoot it over—complete with spoon, napkin, and best wishes.
Pogue, ostensibly to please a vocal, angry contingency of fanboys, bends over backwards so hard to say nice things about the Galaxy Player 4.2 that he practically begins to eat himself, so that every good thing he says about it is immediately negated in the same thought. The screen is fantastic, except for when you open your eyes.
I asked my friends at Mobelux if they were interested in developing the official Instapaper Android app under a revenue-sharing agreement instead of a traditional hourly model, which I couldn’t afford for the quality and amount of work that this would require. We discussed the risks on both sides, and we both agreed that we were willing to accept them for the potential of what could become a great new business for both of us.
Link to great stuff often, and you’ll build an audience. But subsequent linkers don’t owe credit to every intermediate linker. It’s nice in some circumstances as a courtesy, but it’s never necessary. And even when a “via” link is included, most readers don’t care and don’t click.
It takes many months to understand how macroeconomic and public market shifts affect private company valuations since (with the exception of secondary markets) private transactions happen slowly. So we don’t know yet what these recent events mean for private markets. According to a basic rule of finance, however, it is safe to assume that companies “comparable” to Facebook are worth up to 50% less than private investors thought they were worth a few weeks ago.
We had long been tracking the possible Intel chips that could find their way into the new Mac Pros. It wasn't until March, 2012 that Intel had released new Xeon E5 chips that Apple could use to upgrade their long-stagnant professional tower. The Mac Pro was last updated almost two years ago in July 2010. Apple had been said to be questioning the future of the Mac Pro line, given diminishing market appeal for the processional tower.
Yeah but see, this is bullshit. The movie — which was great, by the way — “sprinted to these numbers so fast” because ticket prices are now insanely higher than they ever have been, especially when you take 3D and IMAX into account. Look at the list above, there are two — TWO — movies pre-2000. And they were released in 1999 and 1997. Either movies have gotten better and/or more popular — or, much more likely, it has to do solely with the ticket prices. That’s not to downplay The Avengers success — its run has been amazing. But come on, to say that now “ranks third all-time in receipts” is misleading. It ranks third in money made, yes, but it’s a sort of silly metric. Hollywood should count and publish tickets sold in absolute numbers.
I know a lot of people who constantly have trouble with their ’wireless internet’ and after I convince them to get the Apple router I don’t hear another peep from them.
As someone that has owned and troubleshooted a handful of routers over the years, I could not agree more. I would recommend the Time Machine to just about anyone. - JT
Shortly after reports that nearly 6.5 million LinkedIn account passwords were leaked onto the net, LinkedIn leapt into action and mounted an investigation. Though most of the morning was spent claiming that they could not confirm a security breach, a new announcement on their blog reveals that at least some of those leaked passwords correspond to LinkedIn accounts
Robert Graham has posted a web form that converts your password to an SHA-1 password for lookup and provides a link to the file of LinkedIn passwords that were dumped on the Internet so you can download and see if yours is in there.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes remarking on how Intel has cheapened the Ultrabook specification by allowing plastic shells instead of metal: Once again, Apple has set a bar that others have to match up to. And it seems that the bar has been set too high.
Arguably, book piracy is a small problem but that could quickly change. Bestsellers are always available on pirate sources but the vast majority of books won’t appear on The Pirate Bay. However, as a poll commissioned a year ago shows, book piracy draws in an a fairly unique demographic – in this case older women. Whereas a publisher was once secure in knowing that romances, thrillers, and other popular fiction could keep folks coming back, title after title, the fact is that many of these best sellers quickly appear on pirate sites.
For Netflix, that potentially means a lower cost of delivery, and a better overall user experience. And the pitch to carriers is that Open Connect could reduce network overhead, particularly as Netflix becomes an ever-bigger percentage of traffic delivered to end users.
Overall, the business has three legs right now. They’ve got the readers, which work with the iPhone, Android devices and iPads. Then they’ve got an iPad app called Register. Lastly, there’s Pay With Square, which is an app that people can use at their favorite local shops to pay by merely saying their name to the cashier at the register.
Advertisers know that the golden ticket to performance is relevance, and by that I mean the ability to target and reach your potential customer base as accurately as possible. I live in Los Angeles, and you are going to have a tough time trying to sell me snow boots in the summer. The more you can target the ads, the more likely you can generate the desired action and the more successful the campaign. The current mobile eco-system allows almost no targeting criteria and demands that advertisers take a spray and pray approach to their campaigns. This leads to poorly performing campaigns and unhappy advertisers that are unwilling to keep pushing more money down the rabbit hole that is mobile.
Former TechCrunch writer and current karaoke competitor Jason Kincaid is taking Facebook pun headlines, marking them up with a digital red editor’s pen (via Skitch, I’m pretty sure), adding a few critical thoughts, and posting the results up on a site called Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Friends/Likes/Pokes/That “in a Relationship” Crap.
With the Wii U, Nintendo is attempting to merge the magic of the Wii’s motion gaming with the emergence of gaming on tablets. Even the Gamepad itself is some sort of unholy marriage of the old and new. Much like Apple, Nintendo has never been about the hardware. It’s all about the experience and those details will come.
Users are checking-in less, as the honeymoon has worn off. While Foursquare has added millions of users, many still don’t quite see the point of telling people where they are at all times. Foursquare leadership recognized this, and what we’re seeing now is a part of an ongoing transition for the company that’s really been brewing since the beginning of last year.
I was thinking about this yesterday after reading this post by Bryce Roberts: Everybody Hates Every Redesign Ever. It's so true. I think back to all the years covering Facebook. Just listening to the chatter on the web, everyone sure seemed to hate every little change they made. But the reality was that the majority of those changes better served a broader user base. Many of those changes kept Facebook growing towards the billion-user juggernaut it has become.
Any regular trader who bought Facebook on day one and sold the next day after it didn't pop is, quite frankly, a fool. They're selling on bad news for some hype-chasing traders, not bad news for Facebook. Does Facebook have some question marks going forward? Of course. Every company, private and public, has question marks. For Facebook: mobile, ad rev, etc. But those are long-term problems. And those problems existed before IPO too. If you didn't know that, you shouldn't be investing in Facebook.
What Google actually unveiled today is their own vulnerability in the space. Beyond a few tiny leaks, no one knows what Apple's mapping product will be like. Google has by far and away the best mapping product on the planet. But they still felt the need to hold this meaningless press conference today. That's fighting down, not up. And it's a big mistake because it conveys the opposite of what Google was trying to convey: concern, not confidence.
So the Republican electoral strategy is, in effect, a gigantic con game: it depends on convincing voters that the bad economy is the result of big-spending policies that President Obama hasn’t followed (in large part because the G.O.P. wouldn’t let him), and that our woes can be cured by pursuing more of the same policies that have already failed.
This makes perfect sense. Voters, white and black, are not changing their minds because Obama evolved and they want to follow the leader. People who always supported gay marriage have become more energized thanks to the president’s support and they are expressing that energy by volunteering, campaigning, and talking about the issue more openly. All of that renewed discussion has a ripple effect among white independents and black Democrats alike.
Right now, the average orthopedic surgeon specializing in joint surgery makes an annual salary of $605,953. If the average surgeon made what these patients thought he ought to, some rough calculations show his salary would be an impressive $63 million a year.
How did these nuclear plants magically become so much more effective? It all comes down to incentives. After deregulation, Wolfram told me in a phone interview, plant owners could now make a profit by selling as much electricity as possible on the wholesale market. That gave the owners incentives to make small tweaks like reducing the amount of time that the reactors needed to be shut off for refueling. That involves a lot of tricky organizational maneuvers, and until deregulation, operators rarely felt the need to figure it out.
[T]here are three major questions swirling around the troubled IPO: what caused the technical glitches that disrupted Facebook’s NASDAQ debut; whether Facebook gave privileged information to certain analysts and investors; and whether Morgan Stanley, the IPO’s lead underwriter, gave conflicting messages to different kinds of investors before the offering.
If California approves a new cigarette tax, history indicates it would almost certainly drive down the the state’s smoking rate. Numerous studies have shown that cigarettes have a high level of price elasticity, meaning that price can significantly influence demand. Most studies estimate that a 10 percent increase in price of cigarettes will lead to a 3 to 5 percent reduction in consumption. As the price of cigarettes has steadily grown over four decades, consumption has steadily dropped.
Add that up, and many analysts are now predicting that crude prices will keep falling this year — possibly as low as $90 per barrel. From a historical point of view, that’s still very high. But from the perspective of the U.S. economy, that could provide a small stimulus as gasoline prices keep falling. According to recent estimates by Macroeconomic Advisers, a $10 drop in the price of oil could boost U.S. gross domestic product by 0.2 percentage points.
Which is the basic point of my column: If you assume the only really likely outcomes are Obama and a divided Congress and Romney and a Republican Congress, the most Keynesian outcome is probably Romney and a Republican Congress. But that’s also the outcome that’s worst for the political system’s long-term health, as it will mean the Republican Party was rewarded for the incredibly dangerous brinksmanship of the past year, and if their victory is partially because the economy slows on fears of a crisis in 2013, based on their reckless promises of more brinksmanship next year.
Certainly, Jon Hamm’s character has no compunction about glorifying a corporate client amid accusations of harm to the public good. In a recent episode, Draper tells Dow, the chemical giant, how he would contain the backlash over the use of napalm in Vietnam. “The government put it in flame-throwers against the Nazis, impact bombs against the Japanese,” he tells them. “The important thing is, when our boys are fighting and they need it...when America needs it...Dow makes it. And it works.”
Luckily, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, as well as some of the world's largest weapons manufacturers, are dreaming up the weapons of the future today. With the help of everything from lasers on jets to hypersonic planes to invisibility cloaks, we just might be able to make the battle for Earth a fair fight.
But the May jobs report shouldn't figure to heavily into your thinking. For one thing, some of the bad news in recent months is payback for the good news in the beginning of the year. "Our best guess is that warm weather added 100,000 to the level of payrolls cumulatively through February, and that this unwound over the last three months," wrote Zach Pandl and Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs. "In March though May, payroll growth averaged 96k per month. Thus, excluding the weather payback effects, the underlying pace of job growth was likely around 120-130k during this period."
What should be done about the economy? Republicans claim to have the answer: slash spending and cut taxes. What they hope voters won’t notice is that that’s precisely the policy we’ve been following the past couple of years. Never mind the Democrat in the White House; for all practical purposes, this is already the economic policy of Republican dreams...What do I mean by saying that this is already a Republican economy? Look first at total government spending -- federal, state and local. Adjusted for population growth and inflation, such spending has recently been falling at a rate not seen since the demobilization that followed the Korean War...Much though not all of the responsibility for the policy wrong turn lies with a completely obstructionist Republican majority in the House...The fact is that we have already seen the Republican economic future -- and it doesn’t work.
As more doctors and hospitals go digital with medical records, the size and frequency of data breaches are alarming privacy advocates and public health officials. Keeping records secure is a challenge that doctors, public health officials and federal regulators are just beginning to grasp...Reporting rules adopted as part of the 2009 stimulus ensure that the public knows far more about medical data breaches than in the past.
The health-care sector keeps getting bigger largely because our health-care needs keep growing: Americans are getting older. At the same time, study after study finds there aren’t enough doctors to care for them. This all should make a field such as nursing a pretty certain slam dunk, right?
Wrong: David Glenn, a nursing student at University of Maryland who blogs at Notes on Nursing, flags a new study showing that nearly a third of recent nursing graduates are having trouble finding jobs.
Democrats will bring to the Senate floor on Tuesday the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that is supposed to help close the wage gap between men and women. The measure will fail, as intended, because at its core it is not so much a legislative vehicle as a political one intended to embarrass Republicans and help President Obama and congressional Democrats with female voters in November. The bill, which needs 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles, faces almost certain defeat because most Republicans plan to vote against it. But Obama and Senate Democrats are hoping those votes will give them the opportunity to paint congressional Republicans as hostile to women’s interests...The paycheck bill would bar companies from retaliating against workers who inquire about pay disparities and permit employees to sue for punitive damages if they find evidence of broad differences in compensation between male and female workers.
I wrote a pretty lengthy blog post a few months ago about my favorite Mac and iOS apps out there -- and it just makes sense to keep updating it if/when I find other apps that I add to my daily work flow. So, I updated that post with a few new apps, but I'll include the additions here as well ...
I still haven't found an app that works as a basic Photoshop (don't like PS touch) ... something where I could edit an image quickly from, do some cropping/basic image editing ... anyone know any?
And last: I've had some people asking me what cases I use, well, basically every case I own is from incase.
The iPad has a smart cover (currently the dark grey, but I also have a green one for when I'm feeling chipper), and also the Neoprene Black Slip Sleeve Plus iPad case. I love the case because there are no zippers, it's simple and clean, it fits the iPad + Smart Cover ... and it matches my other cases. I think the newer version is the Maki case or something -- but I've seen zero reason to change, I love the slip case.
The MacBook Air 11" case is a very similar sleeve design. Simple, clean, black - works perfectly around the house or for any light travel I may need it for. I just don't use the full inclosure when I charge it -- and I've loved this case from day one.
I have a really minimal iPhone case ... the Snap Case ... because I don't like bulky cases and I don't like shit that takes away from the minimal and gorgeous design of the phone itself. I've dropped the phone once or twice with the case on it and it's turned out just fine. My wife's first case protected the phone from a pretty hefty drop ... but the case didn't make it, she's now using the pro version of this case which includes rubber around the sides for added protection from drops/chips of the case. She says she loves it so far.
I just looked for my shoulder bag that I use -- but I'm not sure if I can find it ... it's an older incase shoulder bag (here's their current ones -- that Heathered bag looks awesome) that fits both my MacBook Air and the iPad in at the same time (in their sleeves) ... it's the perfect size for both and maintains a very slim profile, I don't like bulk but I want to keep my computers/iPhone, and a pen in it. It's great, I've loved it when traveling or just heading to a coffee shop to get out of the house for a bit - so I'd recommend taking a look at their products.
The closest I could find for the one I own is this one -- but that's not exactly it, so I'm not sure if it fits the computer + iPad as well ... which is why I love the one I do have.
AT&T has updated their international travel data plans (following Verizon doing the same thing). On the surface, it’s a good move, the new packages are certainly a better bang-for-the-buck. But let’s be real: they’re still a colossal rip-off.
But it could also be insecurity. To me, it feels like Microsoft is in a quiet panic. When Apple says the era of the PC has ended, I think Microsoft may believe it even more than Apple does. Smartphones eat away at messaging, tablets compete for browsing and game-playing, and who knows what will come next. In the new device markets, Microsoft is an also-ran. I think Microsoft feels it must find a way to leverage its waning strength in PCs to make itself relevant in mobile.
What I have found is that by doing this I am incrementally making my life more enjoyable each and everyday. It really is the little things that count, because if you improve enough of the little things (and the big things don’t suck) then pretty soon you are going to have a lot of great things going for you and thus you will be happier.
Rene Ritchie wrote a very in-depth piece on some of the things Apple could improve on with iOS 6. He didn’t just look at elements of the current OS, but also what Apple could learn from Android, webOS and Windows.
In fact, the performance of iAd has grown so solid over the past 6 months or so that I recently dropped all other advertising platforms from Audiobooks (previously I’ve integrated with MobClix, Admob, and Adsense).
“The original poster was correct in noting that we don’t have a browse area for projects whose funding was unsuccessful,” he wrote. “This isn’t to ‘hide failure,’ as the original post said, it’s because it would be a poor user experience (there’s no action that anyone could take) and it would expose the creators of unsuccessfully funded projects to unnecessary criticism from the web (those projects would be prime for trolling).”
“Most unsuccessfully funded projects come up short because of a lack of interest in the project or because their creators didn’t promote it enough, not because of the Kickstarter page itself. Success on Kickstarter comes down to making a video, pricing things reasonably, and telling people about the project.”
Overall Twitter usage has actually remained pretty stable since early 2011 (the slight changes over the last year are safely within the margin of error). What has changed, though, is the number of daily active users, which increased from 4% in May 2011 to 8% today.
That’s a bogus argument. If they really feel this way, then Firefox should present a modal dialog that forces every user to choose a Do Not Track setting before they can do anything else. Nobody likes those sort of dialogs, of course. People launch Firefox because they want to browse the web, not to fiddle with settings. That’s why default preference settings matter so much — everyone knows most users never change the defaults.
Years ago I had the idea that if Microsoft really wanted to destroy Google, they should have released a version of IE with a built-in on-by-default ad-blocker that included Google ads in its blacklist. They could have killed Google back when IE had an overwhelming majority browser share. Sure, there would have been a nasty legal fight and Microsoft probably would have lost it, but it would have taken years to litigate and I’ll bet it would have been less expensive to Microsoft than what they’ve flushed down the toilet on Bing over the years.
This will play out the same way it always does: big competitor announces something the week before an Apple event to try to take the wind out of Apple’s sails, then Apple releases something similar or better, and everyone forgets about the competitor’s announcement.
I think Google+ is an effort that does not deserve the engineering minds at Google. This is mostly a personal bias. I see Google as solving legitimately difficult technological problems, not doing stupid things like cloning Facebook. Google, in my opinion, lost sight of what was important when they went down this rabbit hole.
Within days, friends of Mr. Bergus started seeing his post among the ads on Facebook pages, with his name and smiling mug shot. Facebook — or rather, one of its algorithms — had seen his post as an endorsement and transformed it into an advertisement, paid for by Amazon.
I can appreciate why Google is working on all kinds of new technologies like the self-driving car, but I think it’s time to fix some of the things it’s been ignoring for a long time. The big one for Web publishers is Feedburner.
Good piece by Wolf Rentzsch, evaluating both the pros and cons of buying Mac apps from the App Store versus direct from developers. He makes a strong case that the new sandboxing rules that went into effect today tilt things in favor of buying direct. I agree, but I’d say that’s true only for power users. For typical users, I’d argue that the sandboxing rules make the Mac App Store even more compelling (albeit at the expense of severe headaches for developers).
Liberals were upset when Nancy Pelosi demanded tax breaks for everyone with incomes under $1 million, arguing that the threshold should be $250,000 instead. Now they have more ammunition from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. If the cutoff for tax breaks is $1 million instead of $250,000, Pelosi’s proposal would lose the government $366 billion in lost revenue over the next 10 years, the CBPP points out in a new report, citing new figures from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation:
Fluctuations in fruit prices can often wreak havoc on juice-seller — one store owner remembers “a year that blueberries went berserk, and we had to raise prices 45 cents,” Soller’s recent piece, on the economics of iced coffee, is also worth a read.
So why is Britain doing exactly what it shouldn’t? Unlike the governments of, say, Spain or California, the British government can borrow freely, at historically low interest rates. So why is that government sharply reducing investment and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs, rather than waiting until the economy is stronger?
Why are Americans having more trouble paying off student loans, as compared to other kinds of debt? It’s partly because of the types of consumers who tend to have high student debt. They’re younger than those who tend to take out house or car loans, at a time when half of all recent college grads can’t find full-time work. The pool of struggling borrowers also includes college dropouts, who are four times more likely to default on their loans than graduates, having accumulated debt but no degree to improve their employment prospects.
All told, the U.S. job market appears to be sputtering out. In the past four months, the economy has added an average of 137,000 jobs per month. That’s barely enough to keep up with new entrants into the labor force. At that rate, according to this calculator from the Hamilton Project, we won’t get back to full employment until 2025.
Policy-wise, Adler explains, a small-government approach to global warming might include things like: a revenue-neutral carbon tax that replaced income taxes, public prizes for innovation, and the stripping away of regulations that inhibit the adoption of cleaner energy. (I’ve written a fair bit elsewhere on electric-utility regulations that might be worth a peek.)
Last night, 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati won the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word “guetapens,” an obscure French word that describes a snare or a trap. This follows on other spellers taking stabs at words like schwarmerei (to be enthusiastic), ericeticolous (a “heathlike” habitat) and schwannoma (a type of tumor, obviously).
The short version: this is a case where our model’s insight would match the conventional wisdom — the bad economic numbers over the past weeks are sapping Mr. Obama of the edge he might have had on Mitt Romney.
The British Medical Journal recently combed through American data on cancer deaths and diagnoses. It found that, while American deaths from certain cancers have remained pretty constant since the 1970s, the number of cancer diagnoses has skyrocketed.
A soda tax no doubt would bring in some cash for the state. Would it equally deter consumption of sodas in the same way as a portion-size ban? That’s a bit difficult to know, largely because we’ve never seen any state or city ban large sodas (more general research on portion size suggests that it is an effective way to reduce consumption of food).
Classical music actually went through a similar development, moving more toward minor songs between 1600 and 1900. The changes in pop music modes, the researchers note, have come much faster, over the course of decades rather than centuries.
America's economic future is increasingly uncertain. In my view, unpredictable economic policy--massive fiscal 'stimulus' and ballooning debt, the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing with multiyear near-zero interest rates, and regulatory uncertainty due to ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms--is the main cause of persistent high unemployment and our feeble recovery from the recession. A reform strategy built on more predictable, rules-based fiscal, monetary and regulatory policies will help restore economic prosperity...But skeptics ask how a system of policy rules can work when politicians and government officials want to 'do something' to help the economy or feel public pressure to do so...Rules for monetary policy do not mean that the central bank does not change the instruments of policy (interest rates or the money supply) in response to events, or provide loans in the case of a bank run. Rather they mean that they take such actions in a predictable manner.
American shoppers increased their spending in May, despite uncertainty over US economic growth and the jobs market, according to monthly sales figures from some of the country’s largest retail chains. Total sales at stores open for at least a year rose 4 per cent last month, according to Retail Metrics, the research group. Sales were stronger than the 1.8 per cent forecast, though below the 5.5 per cent gain made in May 2011. The gains followed a dismal showing in April, when retailers posted what some analysts said was their weakest performance since November 2009. Sales were affected by an earlier Easter and unusually warm weather which brought shoppers to stores earlier in the season, as well as a weaker economic environment. Industry watchers had warned that May sales might again suffer because of some of these factors. But in spite of declining consumer confidence, sales were strong.
The House on Thursday rejected a measure that sought to impose fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions on women who are trying to select the gender of their offspring -- a practice known as sex-selective abortion. The legislation, which required two-thirds support to win passage under the fast-track procedure used to bring it to the floor, fell short on a vote of 246 to 168. Republicans did not anticipate that the legislation would pass, but saw it as an opportunity to force Democrats to vote on an issue with appeal among conservatives...Abortion-rights advocates, while pleased with the outcome, slammed Representative Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, for pushing forward with his bill, known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act...There does not appear to be an extensive network of women seeking abortions in order to manage the race or gender makeup of their families.
Americans are borrowing more to pay for college while reducing other debt as a weak job market prompts more people to go to school and tuition keeps climbing, new Federal Reserve Bank of New York data show. Americans owed $904 billion in student loans at the end of March, nearly 8% more than a year ago, the New York Fed said Thursday in a quarterly report on consumer credit. That compares with the $679 billion they owed on credit cards at the end of the first quarter. Between the fourth quarter of 2008, when credit-card debt peaked, and the first quarter of 2012, this borrowing fell by $187 billion, or 21.6%, the Fed said. Over the same period, student-loan debt rose by 41.4%, or $264 billion. Student debt is quickly rising, in part due to higher tuitions, but also because alternative ways of paying for college--such as home-equity loans--have dried up. The Obama administration has expanded federal loan programs, which offer student loans at below-market rates.
I've got a quick moment before I begin tackling the never ending barrage of emails that I have to answer -- so here's a few things around the internet that I found interesting, and think you should take a look at.
In other words, on Twitter and Facebook, we become who we follow. Or perhaps more accurately, we envy who we follow. The big problem with this is that none of us are really who we portray ourselves to be online. We are all the better, happier, more successful versions of ourselves.
Tim Cook learned a lot from Steve Jobs, and one of the big takeaways seems to be: Don’t tip your hand. The Apple CEO was unwilling to tackle questions about any future product plans during his first appearance on the D10 stage Wednesday night.
The whole room-and-board analogy is not a good one, so let’s stop stretching it. But my point is that people choose to buy an iPhone. No one chooses to go to prison. And if you happen to be in a situation where you’re “forced” to use an iPhone or iPad (by your school or work, say), it’s highly unlikely that any alternative platform they might have issued you would be any less locked down.
So before Sorkin has gone through this process (and before the screenplay goes through the rewriting that’s endemic to Hollywood) it’s hard to know exactly what the film will be about. He did say that he probably won’t follow the “cradle-to-grave structure” that’s common to most biographies. Instead, he’s “going to identify the point of friction that appeals to me and dramatize that.” (It doesn’t sound like Sorkin has chosen that “point of friction” yet, though I’d imagine that it will either be the founding of Apple and/or Jobs’ return in the 1990s.)
Sorkin also said that he hesitated before taking on the project, because it’s “a little like writing about the Beatles.” In other words, Jobs is admired by so many people that they will end up questioning every choice that Sorkin makes: “I just saw a minefield of disappointment.”
Even without this job posting, it’s pretty much accepted that the Dock Connector is nearing the end of its life. Even though there are better options, it will still be sorely missed. Just think of all the iDevice docks that will fall silent when their owners upgrade to the latest hardware — well, unless, Apple releases a pricey Dock Connector to Mini Dock Connector adapter.
“He wasn’t trying to be rich,” Ellison went on, “Apple became one of the most valuable companies on earth and it wasn’t even one of Steve’s goals. Steve was always talking about products. He was a creative artist, engineer and entrepreneur unlike anyone else,” he mused, relaying an anecdote about how when Apple passed Oracle in market cap, Steve called up and joked with him about how CEOs in Silicon Valley measure their manhood in market cap. “He noticed [success]and he was proud of it but it wasn’t a motivator at all.”
In these onstage conversations, Jobs explained his — and Apple’s — evolving philosophy of where the digital world was heading, and of business itself. He discussed competitors, controversies and his own sense of what matters most. He stressed the importance of building products for their actual users, not “orifices,” like corporate IT departments or cellphone carriers. He explained why it was often more important to decide what products and features not to build than to pick the ones that were built. He even appeared jointly in a historic conversation with his lifelong rival, Bill Gates.
Now I know what I'm going to do in the background of work in the next few days. - JT
Apple products have become an essential part of how students learn at Flitch Green Academy, a public elementary/middle school located just outside of London. Flitch Green’s unique approach is taught through open-ended “experiences” where students use iPad, Mac, and iPod touch, alongside more traditional media, to work on cross-curricular learning projects.
Back when Google was an upstart search engine, one way it distinguished itself was to fight against a pay-to-play business model called “paid inclusion.” Indeed, paid inclusion was one of the original sins Google listed as part of its “Don’t Be Evil” creed. But these days, Google seems comfortable with paid inclusion, raising potential concerns for publishers and searchers alike.
Or do you seriously think that in ten years we will still have those buttons on every page? No, right? Why, because you already know as a user that they’re not that great. So why not get rid of them now? Because “they’re not doing any harm”? Are you sure?
This is a very interesting argument. - JT
Great article from Dan Frommer on the not-very-subtle hints that Tim Cook dropped last night.
Within a year, I’d expect an Apple TV set, Facebook integration in iOS 6 and Mountain Lion, and the cancellation of iAd and Ping. (It wouldn’t surprise me to see iAd canceled as soon as iOS 6’s release.)
Over at Gigaom, Stacey Higginbotham highlights this chart on the monstrous growth of the Internet. According to Cisco, the world is on pace to generate 1.3 zettabytes of data by 2015. That’s four times the amount created in 2011 and it’s the equivalent of “more than 38 million DVDs streamed in an hour.”
"The proportion of Americans in their prime working years who have jobs is smaller than it has been at any time in the 23 years before the recession, according to federal statistics, reflecting the profound and lasting effects that the downturn has had on the nation’s economic prospects. By this measure, the jobs situation has improved little in recent years. The percentage of workers between the ages of 25 and 54 who have jobs now stands at 75.7 percent, just a percentage point over what it was at the downturn’s worst, according to federal statistics. Before the recession the proportion hovered at 80 percent...While the unemployment rate may be the most closely watched gauge of the economy in the presidential campaign, this measure of prime-age workers captures more of the ongoing turbulence in the job market. It reflects 'missing workers' who have stopped looking for work and aren’t included in the unemployment rate."
Spain’s economic problems are deepening, pushing the country closer to an international bailout that U.S. and European officials worry could destabilize the global economy. The risk that the euro zone’s fourth-largest country may need a massive dose of outside help is forcing the region’s leaders to accelerate weighty decisions they had expected to consider over time. These include deciding whether the euro-zone countries should begin issuing bonds that they all jointly back, a step that would be aimed at reassuring investors skittish about lending money to troubled governments such as Spain’s...The release Tuesday of discouraging figures on Spain’s retail sales and exports further contributed to the sense of the country’s fragility. And the resignation of Spain’s central bank head, a month ahead of schedule, highlighted the struggle to fix long-standing problems in the country’s financial sector.
A good illustration of how to do future deficit reduction the wrong way is the Sustainable Growth Rate formula for Medicare, which was enacted in 1997 to constrain payments to doctors. The SGR places a broad cap on payments without addressing any of the reasons those payments are increasing...This same cap-and-punt approach is at the heart of several bills that the House Budget Committee is addressing this week. Two of these, the Spending Control Act and the Balancing Our Obligations for the Long Term Act, would impose a cap on total government spending as a share of gross domestic product, plus a number of other caps on specific areas of spending. These are meant to be enforced through automatic across-the-board spending cuts (with some specific areas exempted). Like the SGR, the acts under consideration by the House Budget Committee avoid the hard work of making specific policy changes.
One of the few bills moving through Congress with bipartisan support this spring would speed government approval of lower-cost generic copies of brand-name drugs. But one company, with help from an influential former congressman, is lobbying to protect its most lucrative brand-name product against generic competition and appears to have had some success in the House, potentially altering the bill to make it more favorable for the company...Republicans working on the legislation said that Mr. Nordwind had submitted proposed legislative language to the committee. Democrats said they thought it was tilted against generic drug makers. Congressional aides eventually negotiated a compromise. The language ultimately included in the House bill was prepared by Mr. Upton’s staff, working with the Democrats, and requires the F.D.A. to develop new ways of measuring the equivalence of 'locally acting' generic and brand-name medicines, with the help of the fees to be paid by the generic-drug makers.
The House will vote this week on legislation imposing criminal penalties on anyone performing an abortion based on the sex of the child, but the measure runs the risk of failing on the floor because of how the GOP is calling it up. Republican leaders have scheduled a vote on H.R. 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), under a suspension of House rules, which will require a two-thirds majority vote for passage. Suspension votes are usually reserved for non-controversial bills, but Republican leaders have occasionally used the process for bills that Democrats oppose, and the PRENDA bill appears to be one of those. Democratic opposition to the bill began with its original name, the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Non-discrimination Act. Democrats argued in February that while the bill was named after these civil rights heroes, it has nothing to do with protecting civil rights.
“There are still lots of hot three-year-old technology companies raising huge amounts of equity and using it to hire loads of people. They’re just doing it in the private markets rather than the public markets,” explains Felix Salmon, who flagged this chart earlier. By contrast, he continues, IPOs have simply become “financial tools used by financial professionals to make money”— a way for a company to cash out and pay back some of its early investors (along with its owners and employees.
Note that the United Kingdom and Germany are the leaders here. That’s typically ascribed to two factors. Germany saw a huge one-time drop in emissions after reunification, since a bunch of inefficient power plants and factories in the East closed down. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, made a massive switch from coal to electric gas in the 1990s after its electricity industry was privatized. That helped, because those two countries are still Europe’s biggest emitters. But neither of those events are likely to repeat themselves.
Both Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney, then, are fake deficit hawks. And the evidence for their fakery isn’t just their bad arithmetic; it’s the fact that for all their alleged deep concern over budget gaps, that concern isn’t sufficient to induce them to give up anything — anything at all — that they and their financial backers want. They’re willing to snatch food from the mouths of babes (literally, via cuts in crucial nutritional aid programs), but that’s a positive from their point of view — the social safety net, says Mr. Ryan, should not become “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” Maintaining low taxes on profits and capital gains, and indeed cutting those taxes further, are, however, sacrosanct.
I think there’s a range of human experience that is attested to by religion that is very positive and interesting and worth exploring. It’s possible to feel overwhelming love for all sentient beings and an overwhelming gratitude for being here in this moment, and to no longer feel separate from the universe. You’re riding around in your head looking at the world that is other than what you are, and that disappears. It’s around that phenomenology that you get ejaculations of the sort that created our religious literature. So, you have a Jesus who speaks like Jesus, and a Buddha who speaks like Buddha, and then you have their followers. And not all of the religious traditions are equipped to conceptually deal with that experience or to guide people toward it. And some are more or less cluttered with obviously crazy superstition and mythology. Religious dogmatism is the only dogmatism that gives someone a rationale not only to kill themselves and kill others but to celebrate the deaths of their children. I mean, this is the only thing that’s going to let you send your child out to clear a minefield happily.
In what appears to be a direct response to the failed boycott campaign of anti-gay group One Million Moms, JCPenney yesterday unveiled a new Father’s Day ad featuring a same-sex couple playing with their children.
I like what Ron Johnson’s doing at JCPenney. I just wish it were working better.
I haven't read this yet, it's sitting here to tackle after the other books on my list ... but the author did a brief interview with me in there, if you're at all curious. Flipping open to around page 40, I saw this line about our community: "because AbsolutePunk has gained a reputation ... musicians and other trendsetters in the industry actually use the online community directly to break news, premiere songs, and share album art prior to the record release date." Kinda cool to see that in print. I'll post more thoughts, comments, expand on any argument I made (and see if I can find my actual quotes), once I have some time to read this. - JT
The long weekend was nice (and needed), hope everyone was able to get out and enjoy themselves. On our fake Monday, today, I've got some more links from around the internet that I think are worth sharing. So, I've included those below. Also just wanted to make a quick mention that I have noticed an uptick in comment spam on the blog pages. It's fucking annoying. The biggest issue is that on this current system I can't just delete everything from one poster like I can in the forums -- I don't have access to a key part of the database to run a sql query either ... so, I'm kinda stuck banning and one-by-one deleting. I'm sorry about that. Thankfully the new version of the website uses a system where I can delete a user/posts as spam from anywhere -- and once that's implemented we can dramatically improve where spam occurs and help put a big stop to it even showing up. I have a phone meeting today to find out the status on the new website ... so cross your fingers with me that we're close.
Four New Banners For The Dark Knight Rises
As I understand it, the album is set to enter the charts at number one, which is just incredible on all your parts because there has been very little I’ve been able to do to promote it. In a world of schemes and strategies when it comes to selling something, you guys just bought music you trusted you’d like. You picked it up in the same way I made it… from the heart, no trickery. That is so cool and rare and all the marketeers in the world together can’t manufacture that. I am very grateful to you.
The criminals, some of them former drug dealers, outwit the Internal Revenue Service by filing a return before the legitimate taxpayer files. Then the criminals receive the refund, sometimes by check but more often though a convenient but hard-to-trace prepaid debit card.
It might also simply be the result of the shift in scale at which Apple is operating today. They sold 35 million iPhones and 12 million iPads last quarter. Is it not inevitable that global-supply management would grow in importance and influence with numbers like that? The question to ask is whether these changes are because of the differences between Tim Cook and Steve, or the differences in the size and scope of Apple’s business a decade ago versus today.
So the Sofa team got to Facebook a little under a year ago, and I’m guessing, soon started work on Facebook Camera. A year ago, building a Facebook version of Instagram sounded like a good plan. “We should have an app like Instagram for taking and sharing photos on our social network”, more or less. But after another year of growth, I think Mark Zuckerberg saw that an app was not enough. Instagram’s own fast-growing social network was a threat. That their own well-made, well-designed Instagram-like app was on the cusp of release made no difference.
Yahoo had a chance to buy Google in 2001 but then-CEO Terry Semel didn’t pull the trigger. I don’t think Instagram is the next Google, but Zuckerberg sure as shit doesn’t want Facebook to be the next Yahoo.
Analysts and media types insist that Apple needs to bring a smaller tablet to market to ward off the threat from Amazon.
There are a couple of things to consider with this argument. First, people that use that as the basis for the release of a 7-inch iPad are full of shit. Second, using that argument shows they don’t understand Apple and how the company works.
I was a bit surprised when I first saw the screen above on the (great) new Facebook Camera app. That’s the initial screen you get when you first open the app. But how on Earth did the app know my name? I assumed, of course, it was related to the fact that I also had the main Facebook iOS app installed on my iPhone — but still, how did those two apps talk to one another as neither is system-level?
Wouldn’t it have made more sense to simply focus on making the best search engine and other services, thereby making yourself a must-have on all mobile devices? Or is that just too hard? [..] Deciding that you have to build a phone seems like what an entrenched company that feels it can no longer innovate does in order to protect its position as platforms shift.
I am (slightly) less bleak on this topic — I think there is enough evidence of content creators selling their goods directly to their readers/listeners/viewers that we’ll start seeing a slow but steady shift away from traditional online advertising.
Microsoft has declared Windows 8 a tablet operating system “without compromises” because it runs on tablets and desktops and toaster-fridges and can run desktop applications on any Intel-based hardware. Surely any operating system that has a matrix to let you know what features are available in which version can’t be compromised, right?
But running Windows 8, it often seems that what’s been compromised is your sanity.
No more coupons or confusing multiple markdowns. No more 600 sales a year. No more deceptive circulars full of sneaky fine print. Heck, the store even did away with the 99 cents on the end of most price tags. Just honest, clear prices. …
Shoppers hated it.
The campaign, which launched on Feb. 1, appears to be a disaster. Revenue dropped 20 percent for the first quarter compared to last year. Customer traffic fell 10 percent. Last year, the company made $64 million in the first quarter; this year, it lost $163 million.
The focus of today’s launch is clearly on giving its users more curation features. The new “bitmarks” allow you to easily go back and look at the links you’ve shared on Facebook and Twitter. You can also, of course, still organize these links into bundles – a feature the company introduced in 2010. With this release, Bitly also made organizing these bundles more collaborative and now makes it more obvious “that you can invite people to collaborate and edit a bundle with you.”
Sandberg talked about how hard it was for her to find a job in Silicon Valley when she first moved there from Washington DC in 2001, not least because it was just after the first bubble crashed. “My timing wasn’t really that good,” she said. “One woman CEO looked at me and said, we wouldn’t even think about hiring someone like you.”
Kindly, they obliged. I have no experience playing the guitar whatsoever, and my greatest claim to musical fame would be completing Free Bird on expert in Guitar Hero. Now, I won’t say my rendition of Blackbird a la gTar is the best in the world, but for having absolutely no practice or experience, my few moments with the hardware should be a testament to the gTar’s potential.
Apple, however, argues that the government “sides with monopoly, rather than competition, in bringing this case. The Government starts from the false premise that an eBooks ‘market’ was characterized by ‘robust price competition’ prior to Apple’s entry.” Before the iBookstore, Apple says, “there was no real competition, there was only Amazon.”
But here’s the thing: If Wall Streeters are spoiled brats, they are spoiled brats with immense power and wealth at their disposal. And what they’re trying to do with that power and wealth right now is buy themselves not just policies that serve their interests, but immunity from criticism.
There’s a confused and confusing debate going on over whether President Obama has presided over a “spending binge,” as Republicans claim, or whether, under Obama, “federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.” [...] But Republicans don’t want to admit that they bear substantial responsibility for the economic policy of the last few years. If they did, then it would be hard to argue that the economy’s performance in 2010 and 2011 is all Obama’s fault. And the Obama administration doesn’t want to clearly say that we should have been spending more in recent years, even if that’s what they believe, and what they proposed, because it polls poorly. And so here we are.
If you get attacked by a shark, you’ll probably live. It’s a bit terrifying that fatalities from from shark attacks hit a 20-year high in 2011, with 12 people across the world dying from encounters with the animals. American tourists can rest slightly assured though, that all of those shark-related fatalities were outside the United States. And, in general, shark attacks actually aren’t fatal. A 2001 review of 86 cases found that 81 percent of those attacked suffered only minor injuries that required “a simple, primary suture,” the researchers said. Take that, Jaws.
The percentage growth in their pay is slightly higher than men’s pay growth throughout their twenties. By age 30, they still earn $14,300 less than men, but their pay raises up until that point had been higher than men’s, in percentage terms.
"'I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we’d put in place, we’d get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent, and perhaps a little lower,' Romney says in a Time magazine interview...The Congressional Budget Office projects that the unemployment rate will drop to 5.3 percent by the end of 2016."
The budget prepared by Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, and the Romney campaign’s general-election platform look quite similar. Both would cut taxes while flattening the tax code. Their Medicare-reform plans look similar...Because it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which Romney is elected and Republicans don’t hold the House and win control of the Senate, Republicans wouldn’t be stymied by Democratic opposition. They would have the votes to pass their agenda. True, they won’t get a filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the upper chamber, but Ryan’s budget is, well, a budget, which means it could be passed through the budget reconciliation process -- and couldn’t be filibustered. To enact a radical change of direction, Republicans need only a simple majority of votes...Why are we spending so much time discussing what Romney did at Bain ... instead of what he will do as president?
Five female Democratic senators pressed for legislation Wednesday aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women. The Paycheck Fairness Act would bring up to date the Equal Pay Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson nearly 50 years ago. Democrats cited statistics showing that women today are still paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, or $10,784 less a year on average. That’s the equivalent of 183 tanks of gas or 92 bags of groceries...Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised a cloture vote on the pay bill the week of June 4, after the Senate returns from its week-long Memorial Day recess. Republicans, however, have dismissed the effort as political pandering, and the bill is unlikely to pass without GOP support. In January 2009, when Democrats controlled both chambers, the bill cleared the House but fell two votes shy of the 60 needed to move forward in the Senate.
The checks are stopping for the people who have the most difficulty finding work: the long-term unemployed. More than five million people have been out of work for longer than half a year. Federal benefit extensions, which supplemented state funds for payments up to 99 weeks, were intended to tide over the unemployed until the job market improved. In February, when the program was set to expire, Congress renewed it, but also phased in a reduction of the number of weeks of extended aid and made it more difficult for states to qualify for the maximum aid. Since then, the jobless in 23 states have lost up to five months’ worth of benefits. Next month, an additional 70,000 people will lose benefits earlier than they presumed, bringing the number of people cut off prematurely this year to close to half a million, according to the National Employment Law Project. That estimate does not include people who simply exhausted the weeks of benefits they were entitled to."
As the nation amasses more than $1 trillion in student loans, education experts say a vexing new problem has emerged: A growing number of young people have a mountain of debt but no degree to show for it. Nearly 30 percent of college students who took out loans dropped out of school, up from fewer than a quarter of students a decade ago, according to a recent analysis of government data by think tank Education Sector. College dropouts are also among the most likely to default on their loans, falling behind at a rate four times that of graduates. That is raising new questions about the wisdom of decades of public policy that focused on increasing access to higher learning but paid less attention to what happens once students arrive on campus. And some education experts have begun to argue that starting college -- and going into debt to pay for it -- without a clear plan for a diploma is a recipe for disaster.
Beneath all the folderol about job creation and destruction at Bain Capital or President Obama’s alleged war against success and free enterprise, there’s actually a legitimate debate to be had about what kind of capitalism we want in the United States. It turns out that capitalism, like ice cream, comes in many flavors. These different capitalisms can be combined, in the same way chocolate and coffee produce mocha. There are also all sorts of mix-ins and swirls that add to the variety...We would all surely welcome an intelligent presidential debate on what kind of capitalism we want to have. Only please spare us the self-serving nonsense about who created or destroyed how many jobs. In almost any form of capitalism, running the government is not the same as running the economy, and neither is like running Bain Capital."
So, your kid is hungry. He’s been screaming about it for a while. There are four places that you can take a kid to eat. They are 1) your house 2) some kind of picnic or lunchroom area (if you’re out somewhere), 3) a restaurant or 4) your tit. Which of these four you choose is almost always a predetermined, set-in-stone, no-choice about-it-option. If you’re out somewhere, like, say the museum or the park, and home is far away and you don’t have money to be spending on shitty fast food, you’re eating the bagged lunch you have with you. If you are by the house, or sitting in your house, you’re eating at home. If you’ve planned on eating at a restaurant or you’ve just neglected to plan, you’re eating at a restaurant and finally, if your kid is breastfeeding, you’re feeding them with your tit.
There's just something about the lyric, "I found that nothing truly matters, that you cannot find for free" that's hitting me right tonight. Maybe it's the loud music and the beer -- but that's what it's all about, right? Haha, don't get too attached to that third verse though.
Got a bunch of questions about this, so let's talk Facebook for a moment. First off - the disclaimer: If you take financial advice from some dude that started a music blog on the internet, well, that's your own deal ... so, don't. Find a financial adviser that you trust, spend some time learning about the markets, or just don't invest. You wouldn't put money into any other product/service without doing your due diligence and making sure you knew what the fuck you were spending it on ... don't do that with stocks either.
Ok, now on to Facebook. First, someone over there totally fucked up the IPO. The delays, the increase in available shares, and even the starting price ... something was not right. That said, I do think there is value in the company. I think that Facebook have created a service with over 900 million users. That's insane. That's one website with more users than the entire internet had in 2004. I feel that you can leverage that amount of users, that amount of data, and turn a (nice) profit. Do I feel strongly enough to risk a bunch of my money on such a bet? Nope. But I believe it enough that I did take some of my discretionary income and toss a little bit into the stock once it settled down around the 30 mark. I don't ever expect to get rich off something like this -- obviously -- but I do believe there's value in the company enough to pick up a few shares. Now, I also did this knowing that I didn't need the money I put into it right now ... and I am more than comfortable with the options in front of me:
1) That I lose every last dime. I don't think that will happen over the long haul, however, I don't think I'd ever invest on an individual stock if I didn't accept this possibility.
2) That I can hold the stock for 5 years and not care about any kind of dip/boost in the short term. I didn't buy it to see a 10% jump today. I didn't buy it to worry about a 10% drop tomorrow. I bought it for 3-5 years in the future ... and my belief that the stock will be worth more in a few years.
Now, on to one more thing that I keep reading and I feel like saying something about. Mobile. I keep seeing people say that Facebook is going to go the way of Myspace because of mobile. I don't see it happening that way. Mobile is absolutely the most important thing in the tech sector right now. If you're not thinking about mobile - you're doing it wrong. If it's not a huge priority in your ad/content/product strategy: you're doing it wrong. But Facebook understands the importance of mobile. They haven't completely nailed it yet -- but they have very smart people on it. I've played with other mobile social sites -- and with the exception of Instagram (now owned by Facebook)... none of them struck me as long term competitors. Path? Meh. Pair? Meh. And there will come a time where they can monetize their mobile apps in a similar way as their desktop site (which is not going away) - or use the data they've gotten from their mobile products to better serve ads on their desktop site. Currently we use mobile as a way to supplement our online habits while at work on a computer, or browsing around for fun on a laptop or iPad. It means we spend more time connected. I think that in time, there will be a switch, we'll probably supplement our mobile lives with desktops / laptops/ iPads -- but it's going to be a while before the desktop that we currently sit in front of and browse around goes the way of the dodo.
I think that on a long enough timeline the innovation happening at Facebook and their continued product development ... will lead to good products, a giant website, and the ability to monetize this community. While Google and other web properties are out trying just about everything in the world at the moment ... Facebook has the ability to change how ads are targeted, how search is handled, the entire identity system, sharing/messaging, and how we buy things online. I think that's pretty significant in the online world -- enough so that I think within a few years we're not going to be talking about the closing price of one stock every single day. And hey, if I'm wrong, well - I've been wrong before ... but I've long had a feeling that FB is a generational company ... time will tell.