February 2015 Articles

Apple has shown a strong commitment to privacy as it has built iOS. From passcode locks that encrypt your data to TouchID (biometric security) and ApplePay (banking security). Where might they go with it?

…But if Apple did connect the dots to create an identity product, and could remove enough friction and pain to make it compelling, then talking about privacy would make much more sense, because at that point privacy, security and identity become part of the same product conversation.

Haunted Empire

Horace Dediu · Asymco ·

Horace Dediu on executive compensation and the “Stupid manager theory of company failure”.

When times were good the leadership enjoyed luxuries and praise. This was the essential deal societies made: we’ll keep you in riches and allow you to be idle as long as times are good but ritualistically slaughter you when times are bad. We’ll declare you “chief magical officer” and place all our faith in you. But, of course, if you fail, we will will be vengeful.

Open Source

Michael E. Kirkpatrick ·

When I first heard about open source software and GitHub, I thought it was a neat idea but I had no idea how I could contribute. When I first started working on Campus Loop, I created a GitHub account but didn’t do anything with it. Then I was recently listening to the Accidental Tech Podcast where the hosts were talking about open source projects and thought: I can do that. What I realized is that I can open source this blog; better said, I can put the code I use to power the blog into the open source community.

So I did. I’ve open sourced the code powering this blog under the project name Long Beach. This is my first foray into the open source community. As I make updates to the blogging engine, I’ll add commits to the project.

I realize there are lots of great blogging platforms out there including Wordpress, Squarespace, Medium, etc. But for me, this project is more about the exercise of programming than it is about building a new platform. I love being able to tweak anything and everything about a website, and writing my own blogging engine allows me to do that.

I think this blog has a few neat features that make it different from others. Specifically, I designed it to have more attribution information for posted links. I wanted to give credit to the author and source of the original post, attached as metadata, in addition to adding a link. So you will find that each post lists the author, and if it’s an external link, the source and the link. You can then browse the blog by source and author.

I’m proud of the styling of the site as well. It’s a responsive design that I think looks great on mobile devices and on desktops.

If you’d like to dig into the code or see what kinds of languages and technologies I’m using, check out the Long Beach project page on GitHub. And if you see something that can be improved, let me know.

Ben Thompson talks about business strategy for small, niche internet businesses:

With this audience there are two ways to maximize revenue:

You can try to make a little bit of money from a lot of people — this entails getting a little bit of money from everyone on the curve

You can try to make a lot of money from a few people — this entails maximizing the gain from the people on the left side of the curve

Riding Light

Alphonse Swinehart · Vimeo ·

Fascinating video by Alphonse Swinehart looking at the scale of our solar system by traveling from the Sun to Jupiter at the speed of light. Disclaimer, it still takes just over 43 minutes to travel at light speed from the Sun to Jupiter.

In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast. But as soon as you view it against the vast distances of the universe, it’s unfortunately very slow. This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system, from a human perspective.

Michael Lopp at Rands in Repose has three terrific articles about your resume as you look for a new job, how to nail your phone interview and what to do when you resign and take a new job. Great advice.

Alan Blinder and Richard Pérez-Peña for the New York Times:

Amid conflicting signals from federal courts and the chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, some Alabama counties began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday in a legal showdown with echoes of the battles over desegregation in the 1960s.

In major county seats like Birmingham, Montgomery and Huntsville, same-sex couples lined up outside courthouses as they opened and emerged smiling after being wed.

High hopes that this continues to mark progress for same-sex couples.

Christopher Solomon in a Sunday Review opinion piece for the New York Times. Well done.

When we think of injuring nature, it is easy to point an accusing finger at mining companies and their strip mines or timber barons and their clear-cuts. But could something as mellow as backcountry skiing or a Thoreauvian walk in the woods cause harm, too?

More and more studies over the last 15 years have found that when we visit the great outdoors, we have much more of an effect than we realize. Even seemingly low-impact activities like hiking, cross-country skiing and bird-watching often affect wildlife, from bighorn sheep to wolves, birds, amphibians and tiny invertebrates, and in subtle ways.


Marc Kirkpatrick · EverWonderWine? ·

Something I hadn’t known about rosé, it doesn’t have to be sweet; and the alcohol percentage changes depending on how sweet or dry it is.

In the past, rosé wines have been synonymous with sweet wines. That can still be true. But there are a lot more dry rosé wines available today. And, a key to finding the dryer, less sweet, wines is by looking at the wine’s alcohol content. All wines labels are required to show the percent alcohol of the wine. If it’s down around 8 or 9 percent, it’s going to be sweet. In the 11 to 12 percent range it will be mid-range between sweet and dry. And, above 12 percent it’s going to be a dry rosé.

It’s amazing to me how much the human species pollutes.

Some eight million metric tons of plastic waste makes its way into the world’s oceans each year, and the amount of the debris is likely to increase greatly over the next decade unless nations take strong measures to dispose of their trash responsibly, new research suggests…The paper’s middle figure of eight million, [Jenna Jambeck] said, is the equivalent of “five plastic grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world”

Reeves Wiedman does a great job giving a little peek behind the curtain of how the New York Times gets made. From printing, to editing decisions and digital editions, it’s an around the clock, multi-faceted effort.

Tonight, like every weeknight, the plant will print more than 300,000 copies–double that on the weekend–which by 3:25 a.m. have to be loaded onto dozens of trucks. The straight trucks, which are already at the loading docks, can fit eight pallets each, holding a total of 14,000 individual copies. The trailer trucks carry twenty-four pallets, a load of 50,000 copies. The trucks will make about eighty departures from the plant by tomorrow morning, fanning out to other distribution points, from which the copies will be delivered to grocery stores, bodegas, office buildings, and newsstands from New Haven to Albany to Trenton.

Global TLDs

Michael E. Kirkpatrick · ICANN ·

Ever wonder what all the new Top Level Domain (TLD) names are? New domain names like .limo and .party have been made available. This is a link to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) text file of all globally recognized TLD’s.

Interesting design point and cultural reaction to text message bubble colors on the iPhone.

A few months ago my friend Edd Dumbill shared a discovery. He pointed out that if you search Twitter for the words “green bubbles” you’ll find very consistent results. People hate green bubbles…I’ve been performing that same Twitter search every few days and there’s usually someone new complaining. The modern world is against green bubbles.

Fantastic, in-depth profile of Jony Ive by Ian Parker of the New Yorker. You’ll want plenty of time to sit down and read this one; it’s nearly 17,000 words.

In recent months, Sir Jonathan Ive, the forty-seven-year-old senior vice-president of design at Apple–who used to play rugby in secondary school, and still has a bench-pressing bulk that he carries a little sheepishly, as if it belonged to someone else–has described himself as both “deeply, deeply tired” and “always anxious.” When he sits down, on an aluminum stool in Apple’s design studio, or in the cream leather back seat of his Bentley Mulsanne, a car for a head of state, he is likely to emit a soft, half-ironic groan. His manner suggests the burden of being fully appreciated. There were times, during the past two decades, when he considered leaving Apple, but he stayed, becoming an intimate friend of Steve Jobs and establishing the build and the finish of the iMac, the MacBook, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. He is now one of the two most powerful people in the world’s most valuable company.

Well written story by Matt Harvey, pitcher for the New York Mets. All the best in spring training, Matt.

Up to that point, I had worked so hard for the Mets. Now I had to just wait. As an athlete, being on the sidelines makes you feel useless. I felt helpless because I wanted to contribute. An injury makes you invisible.

Terrific short piece by Rachel Corell.

Why put someone down who is working hard on a project to tell them any of the above things? If it doesn’t affect you, leave them alone or cheer them on. Nothing good comes of putting down an ambitious person. If you don’t want to get involved or do the work, walk away from the situation. But don’t shame another person for wanting to get something right and do their best.

Tim Cook in an exclusive interview with The Telegraph in London on the topic of privacy:

“Apple has a very straightforward business model,” he said. “We make money if you buy one of these [pointing at an iPhone]. That’s our product. You [the consumer] are not our product. We design our products such that we keep a very minimal level of information on our customers.”…

Needless to say, Cook obviously thinks that his firm will do better, including financially, over time if he follows such values, especially if the public wakes up to just how easy it is becoming to obtain personal information.

Johann Hari, the author of Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs write about a different way to look at addiction.

The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself…

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.