Shanghai Building to be Demolished

Business

April 12th, 2014

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This is why the news media is dying: global online ad revenue for content sites is maybe $25 billion

Interesting:

It’s worth noting that this ~$40B is just for broadcast TV ads. This excludes cable TV ads (~$30B) and subscription TV fees (~$80B). There is an ongoing non-zero sum shift in attention and dollars to online, but TV is far from dead.

Combine that with “Google Controls 44 Percent Of Global Online Advertising“.

That leaves maybe $25 billion for every content site in the world. Pathetic.

Source

April 10th, 2014

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Blogosphere 2.0?

I have already mentioned that, like Chris Bertram, I am nostalgic for the early blogosphere, which died out somewhere between 2005 and 2010. I think the world lost something important then. But perhaps there is Blogosphere 2.0 taking shape around the new mega-sites?

4. Wonkery creates astonishing loyalty. In an age where Facebook is everybody’s homepage, consumers of news have never been more promiscuous in their reading affections. They go wherever they’re sent; no one treats websites like they would a ...

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April 10th, 2014

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The fight against healthcare: almost awesome in its evilness

Very sad:

Gruber: “…I’m offended on two levels here. I’m offended because I believe we can help poor people get health insurance, but I’m almost more offended there’s a principle of political economy that basically, if you’d told me, when the Supreme Court decision came down, I said, ‘It’s not a big deal. What state would turn down free money from the federal government to cover their poorest citizens?’ The fact that half the states are is such a massive rejection of ...

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April 9th, 2014

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Rage against Facebook

Facebook hate.

I was late to join Facebook and I was early to quit. I think I joined in 2009 or early 2010, and then I quit in late 2011. I have been a huge skeptic of social media, though this month I have become a fan of Twitter.

The rage in the comments is interesting:

Lady Di:

I started noticing how bad I felt after logging into FB a few years ago… Yes it is a time suck. And everyone is ...

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April 8th, 2014

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Change fails most of the time

Interesting:

Consider the following scenario: The leadership at Company X announces a partial restructuring that will consolidate two levels of management, effectively demoting all Senior Managers to the position of Manager. The change management team sets to work: it identifies sponsors; conducts a change readiness assessment; develops and executes a change management plan that dedicates resources and time to manage communications, training, coaching, and resistance; and supports the project team through the roll out of the new org. chart by training ...

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April 7th, 2014

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Is college needed for tech?

Interesting:

Ms. Glen, in a statement, called the tech industry “our pipeline to the middle class” and added, “It’s our job to develop the work force these fast-growing companies need so people from our schools and our neighborhoods have a real shot at these good-paying jobs.”

At least one other city official appears to share that view: The report was managed by Carl Weisbrod before he left HR&A, a real estate consulting firm, to accept Mr. de Blasio’s appointment as chairman of ...

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April 7th, 2014

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Cost overruns and the IBM 360

These are some serious cost overruns. $40 million is the estimate, $500 million is the final cost. And $5 billion for the overall 360 development. Consider that all Apollo missions from 1960 to 1975 collectively costs $25 billion, and no one trip to the moon cost anything like $5 billion.

IBM built its own circuits for S/360, Solid Logic Technology (SLT) – a set of transistors and diodes mounted on a circuit twenty-eight-thousandths of a square inch and protected by ...

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April 7th, 2014

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Women moved into the work force from 1930s to 1970s

This is a big surprise:

The participation rate for women increased significantly from the mid 30s to the mid 70s and then flattened out.

And the chart shows no post-war decline:

There is the big question, what changed during the time 1930 to 1980, and why did it stop?

Women have always worked, though on the farm much of that work escaped any measurement that the government or historians have at their disposal. It’s likely the decline of farms drove some of ...

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April 6th, 2014

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People can rationalize any amount of greed: tech industry collusion

Incredible and sickening:

In the meantime, one the most interesting misconceptions I’ve heard about the ‘Techtopus‘ conspiracy is that, while these secret deals to fix recruiting were bad (and illegal), they were also needed to protect innovation by keeping teams together while avoiding spiraling costs.

That was said to me, almost verbatim, over dinner by an industry insider, who quickly understood he’d said something wrong— “But of course, it’s illegal, so it’s wrong,” he corrected himself.

The view that whatever Jobs and Google ...

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April 6th, 2014

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It’s like – I don’t know

There is a large gap between spoken and written language, in particular, spoken language has an abundance of half sentences that never finish. Most quotes in newspapers clean up the grammar that the person used when speaking. So I like this, as it goes against the grain:

“I don’t understand what they were thinking to begin with. I’m sorry, I don’t even like to take my kids in a car ride that would be too dangerous, and it’s like taking ...

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April 6th, 2014

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Where established companies might see risks or threats, startups see opportunity

Interesting:

The convergence of digital trends along with the rise of China and globalization has upended the rules for almost every business in every corner of the globe. It’s worth noting that everything from the Internet, to electric cars, genomic sequencing, mobile apps, and social media — were pioneered by startups, not existing companies. Perhaps that’s because where established companies might see risks or threats, startups see opportunity. As the venture capital business has come roaring back in the last 5 ...

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April 6th, 2014

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Apple is secretive

Interesting:

“A fairly heavy corporate controlling hand.”

Richard Francis worked at Intel and got to know Apple employees when the two companies partnered on projects.

“There is a fairly heavy corporate controlling hand governing a lot of what Apple locally can / can’t ‘do’ as a business. That made for a fair degree of tension with some senior staff coming in from other parts of the technology industry.”

“I dreaded Sunday nights.” Designer Jordan Price hated the long, rigid hours he was expected to work.

“I ...

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April 4th, 2014

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Shareholders do not legally own a corporation

Interesting:

Did Carr have a choice? Was he truly beholden to his shareholders’ desire to take the deal? If not, how can directors act against the wishes of shareholders to preserve value for other stakeholders—value that is often less easily measured than a buyout price? In the wake of the scandals that caused the recession, the management world has been immersed in trying to answer such questions.

Oddly, no previous management research has looked at what the legal literature says about the ...

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April 4th, 2014

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The end of Steve Blank’s Epiphany

Everyone who wants to be an entrepreneur should read Steve Blank’s book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany. But be aware that the era when this book was relevant is coming to an end, due to the high speed of innovation in some sectors:

This possibility allows the world to turn on its head very quickly, for Instagram to create a $1B company in 18 months with 30M users and for Whatsapp to amass a rabidly engaged mobile user base ...

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April 4th, 2014

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Is Hacker News bad for the tech world?

The implication is that Hacker News is dominant because the competition is weak, and there is some truth to that, mostly because Hacker News does not sell ads, whereas all the major tech blogs sell ads, and the ads get in the way of my ability to read the story, and the ads might also influence the editorial policy of the blog, and yet Hacker News has its own editorial policy, influenced by its economic concerns, and less obvious than ...

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April 4th, 2014

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The good and the bad of Facebook advertising

Much of this thread is devoted to the problems with Facebook advertising. This was one of the few positive stories:

Like others have said, it really depends on what you’re selling and who you’re targetting. Our example (country specific mobile app for doctors), spent 100 € on AdWords, end result was literally 0 app installs, 0 sign-ups, 0 everything. Medical keywords are expensive, no chance of sending them directly to the App Store/Play Store (that we saw at least), and no other ...

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April 1st, 2014

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Can open-floor plans be useful in an office?

I only hear the negatives, so this positive argument is interesting:

Suffers from the same flaw as most critiques of open plan: it focuses on individual productivity while failing to understand how it contributes to team productivity.

Cornell did a study of open plan awhile back that you should all read. I posted it here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7507404

The misunderstanding here is that it’s just about serendipitously “overhearing” other conversations.

1. Open plan makes it easier to ask questions. Those are “disruptions”, yes, but what the ...

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March 31st, 2014

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OKCupid takes a stand against Brendan Eich

Interesting:

Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience.

Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.

Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ...

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March 31st, 2014

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Changing ideas for a startup

I built a custom CRM for the private club Parlor New York, and I just discovered an article about their original application. The application has changed a lot in the last 3 years. It is now focused on more detailed questions that try to figure out what your profession is. For me, this is one more data point about how ideas change once you try to make them real.

The Parlor Club first sent out invites in 2009 ...

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March 31st, 2014

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Declining wages for men

Interesting:

For reference: Here are changes in hourly real wages of men, 1973-2012, at different percentiles of the wage distribution, calculated from Census data by the Economic Policy Institute. As you can see, wages have fallen for 60 percent of men.

Source

March 30th, 2014

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Bitcoin has a great future in crime

I agree with this entirely:

The IRS now treats bitcoin as a property asset, very much the same way they treat stocks, and not all stocks are prone to speculation. So this is expected news for those who hold bitcoin as an investment.

The major impact of this decision will be on consumer adoption. Now, every time I want to make a transaction, I need to keep track of my taxes. I know that some startups are already developing ways to ...

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March 30th, 2014

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Half the board of Mozilla resigns because of the new CEO

This is a curious story, for sure. If the half the Board hates the new CEO, then how did he become CEO? Brendan Eich is apparently a homophobe, having donated money to Proposition 8. I understand why the Board members would resign, but why were they unable to stop the appointment?

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March 24th, 2014

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Sexism in Silicon Valley

An interesting look at the extent to which the investors/angels in Silicon Valley help promote stereotypes that in turn promote a backwards view of gender relations:

Silicon Valley fetishizes a particular type of engineer — young, male, awkward, unattached. This fetish is so normalized in startup culture that it often goes unseen for what it is: the specific, narrow fantasy of venture capitalists, deployed to focus their investment and attention. The disproportionate success of a very few individuals who fit this ...

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March 24th, 2014

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Julie Ann Horvath struggles with Github

I suspect this story will be one of those stories that we will talk about for many years, sort of in the same way some of us still reference the treatment that Blaine Cook got in the media, and how unfair it was to blame him for the technical problems in Rails, at a site that was growing 1,000% a year. Some stories reveal a lot about the mood of the tech community in a given year. The Blaine Cook ...

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March 24th, 2014

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What is the future of news?

Consider the ambitions of Vox:

Will Vox be a bunch of articles like this one?

Our commitment to explaining the news is a commitment to an outcome not a commitment to any particular article format. We do think, however, that the traditional article format is ripe for reinvention.

In journalism, you’ll sometimes hear articles about hard topics referred to as “vegetables” or “the spinach” — the idea being that readers don’t like those subjects but they should be reading about them anyway. Our ...

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March 23rd, 2014

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Millions at stake but programming mistakes everywhere

How long does this go on? Tens of millions of dollars get traded in virtual currencies, yet the exchanges seem to be slapped together by amateurs, with none of the caution that a bank would use when building its exchange software.

Vircurex had a computer programming bug that caused the loss of a huge amount of virtual currency, so they are now insolvent, and they are trying to offer their own solvency-resque, without going to the courts:

Frozen Funds

In preparation of ...

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March 21st, 2014

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Making the VC process more tolerant of women

Sam Altman seems serious about making it easier for female founders to find resources through the VC and incubator systems:

I realize it’s always a bit ridiculous for a guy to talk about what it’s like for female founders, but I’m interested in doing whatever I can to help, because the venture business has definitely been unfair to women. The women on our team also care deeply about this issue, and in fact can probably do more than I can ...

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March 11th, 2014

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The gentrification of San Francisco

Interesting:

City officials estimate that there are over 40,000 illegal in-law units attached to San Francisco properties, and they account for about ten percent of the city’s housing stock. Most of these units were constructed during World War II, when workers flooded to the Bay Area to take wartime industrial jobs; today, property owners often choose to rent them to lower-income tenants under the table. Historically, San Francisco has had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding illegal in-law units; ...

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March 11th, 2014

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Assumptions to avoid when starting your web startup

I have seen $1 million dollars wasted in what turned out to be a year long brainstorming session. I have seen self-doubts rationalized as doubts about a product, and honest doubts about a product transformed into tests of personal self-worth. I have seen smart people lose their bearings when they face the test of the market. Startups are hard, and the public’s reaction to your product is always personal.

Pasha Galbreath and I continue to give talks to first-time entrepreneurs ...

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March 9th, 2014

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ONO sells for $9.5 billion and no one cares

Maybe it is the Europeans who do the right thing, and the Americans who get it wrong?

A Spanish cable company, ONO, built originally by Eugenio Galdon and mostly by my friend Richard Alden between 2001 and 2011, is in the process of being sold to Vodafone for around $9.5bn, and nobody cares. It is sad how entrepreneurial successes that don’t happen in the USA or are not related to the USA get so little press. ONO is a fantastic story ...

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March 2nd, 2014

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The many problems with Bitcoin

Interesting:

I’m actually shocked that Mt. Gox did not lose money to a database screwup. There are so many flawed NoSQL databases out there that, if you adopt the technologies advertised as “hip” on techcrunch, you’ll most likely end up with a broken exchange (more on this in subsequent blog posts, because there are many funny examples that deserve their own discussion). It is quite easy for well-meaning developers to build an exchange on a database that loses transactions, or to ...

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March 1st, 2014

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The new Formal blogging

Like Chris Bertram, I have a certain nostalgia for the world of blogging that existed during the years, roughly, 2000-2008. I sad that the conversational aspects have moved to Twitter, and now the blogs are mostly op-eds, rather than conversations. I am also surprised to see it now being treated as something to be done formally.

To be fair, may of the new initiatives, such as The Conversation, Politics in Spires, and the LSE Blogs are great, content-wise. But they ...

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February 25th, 2014

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Greedy bankers, the lazy poor: moralizing wealth

Interesting:

Sadly, Mr Rooney did not respond in the manner of one of his celebrated predecessors. But he should have, because the chant is wrong. Mr Rooney is not getting £300,000 a week because he is unusually greedy: in the improbable event of being offered such money, who among us would turn it down? He is getting it because he is unusually powerful – a power which is not entirely due merely to his exceptional skill.

Palace fans, then, are committing ...

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February 25th, 2014

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Corporate welfare in the USA, from state and local numbers

$110 billion just from state and local governments. And of course the Federal government adds in a lot more.

State and local governments have awarded at least $110 billion in taxpayer subsidies to business, with 3 of every 4 dollars going to fewer than 1,000 big corporations, the most thorough analysis to date of corporate welfare revealed today.

Boeing ranks first, with 137 subsidies totaling $13.2 billion, followed by Alcoa at $5.6 billion, Intel at $3.9 billion, General Motors at $3.5 ...

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February 25th, 2014

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Assortative Mating plays no role in current income inequality

Rarely does one see such blatant lying. Here a group of economists post a graph that very clearly contradicts everything they say, yet they go ahead and say it anyway.

The authors conclude that “rising assortative mating together with increasing labour-force participation by married women [emphasis added by me] are important in order to account for the determinants of growth in household income inequality in the US.” So, right out of the gate, a key influence not trumpeted in the headline ...

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February 11th, 2014

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Who should be in charge when policy actually matters?

Take the title of this post and change it so it is about technology:

Who should be in charge when technology actually matters?

I am intrigued by a Paul Krugman post in which talks about policy mattering.

Change the word “policy” to “technology” and this gets at my complaint about many of the tech disasters I’ve seen in recent years, from the companies I worked for, to stuff I read about such as the roll out of the website for Obamacare.

So ...

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February 1st, 2014

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Why is code so awful at Etsy?

Paul Graham says that startups need to beat the averages:

In a big company, you can do what all the other big companies are doing. But a startup can’t do what all the other startups do. I don’t think a lot of people realize this, even in startups.

The average big company grows at about ten percent a year. So if you’re running a big company and you do everything the way the average big company does it, you can ...

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January 31st, 2014

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Why do games and Hollywood portray different sexualities?

This blog post is way too long, but it does raise an interesting question. Hollywood tends to focus on conventional sexuality, mostly the struggle to establish a monogamous relationship between 2 heterosexual people, though lately there has been more portrayals of homosexuality. There are also portrayals of promiscuity, but never as anything positive. However, the gaming industry is more comfortable with scenarios that involve polyamorous relationships. Why do the 2 industries portray sexuality so differently?

On top of forming friendships ...

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January 24th, 2014

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Why did the blogosphere die?

The original blogosphere was commercialized, to such an extent that it has almost wholly disappeared. In some ways, this is a great success, in other ways it is a great failure. I miss the blogosphere that existed from 2000 to 2007. This sums it up well:

A personal blog, a blog that is really your own, and not a channel of the The Daily Beast or Forbes or The Washington Post or what have you, is an iterated game with ...

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January 18th, 2014

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All work, no pay

Interesting:

Over the next decade, we realized life wasn’t quite as easy as we thought. Though my wife was slowly moving herself into positions of higher pay and responsibility, I couldn’t find a teaching job and had to rely on bartending. I eventually traded bartending in for some entry-level sales opportunities. I heard a person could make a decent coin in sales. If you can sell stuff, that is. Not just if you work hard.

In the late ’90s I finally landed ...

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January 18th, 2014

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The difficulty of work-life balance when running a startup

Interesting:

Part of the magic of a startup is the fear of death. You have only so much money in the bank, and if you don’t get to the right milestone before you run out, then you’re dead—company goes under, it’s over. There’s a way to cheat death when you are not going to make it—you sound the alarm and force everyone to code through the night and/or weekend. This is stereotypically the life one signs up for at an early ...

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January 17th, 2014

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Startup founders are the new working class

Interesting:

These pressures form part of the darker side of startups, along with concerns that startup communities, though very international, are made up largely of youngish white males who are not so much entrepreneurs as new kinds of workers. A further worry is that software—and hence startups—are eating not just the world but jobs, too.

Ask founders why they put up with the hardships, and they reply with predictable enthusiasm. “I want to change the world,” says Daan Weddepohl, chief executive of ...

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January 17th, 2014

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Online dating is rough

Interesting:

A Reddit user named OKCThrowaway22221 shared a pretty spectacular tale of his adventures in online dating while pretending to be a woman, and we need to talk about it.

So, this happened: Last night I was bored and was talking with a friend on skype about her experiences with online dating. I was joking with her that “girls have it easy on dating sites” etc. etc. I had never really done anything in the online dating world but I had set up ...

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January 16th, 2014

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The lack of female directors in Hollywood

Interesting:

There are only two kinds of people who are successful at this social media thing. Those who are funny and those who get real. I am not that funny, and I have yet to get real publicly.

Today is a good day to change that. Since funny is not an option, I am going to take a deep breath, muster up all the courage I can, and talk about an issue I have long observed despairingly from the sidelines.

Over ...

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January 15th, 2014

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He showed the communications to his girlfriend and she didn’t see anything sexist about them

This is interesting and sad:

A W3C staff member wrote me to chastise–literally chastise me–telling me that he showed the communications that led to my emails to his girlfriend and she didn’t see anything sexist about them.

This too:

If you’ve followed along the effort over the years, the debacle over the longdesc attribute, an accessibility aid, is representative of how badly the change process procedures have failed.

And that might be one key to some of the problems women have had ...

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January 14th, 2014

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Women in the USA workforce

Interesting: (from 2005)

According to the study the *number of women in IT-related positions dropped by 20% in the last decade. This in light of the fact that women in other traditionally male professions are either holding their numbers, or actually increasing their levels of participation.

Most of the decrease came from administrative ranks, which means that women are not moving into management positions in the tech industry, or if they are, they’re not staying. Outside of the administrative ranks, women hold ...

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January 12th, 2014

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Another online-print hybrid

Again, this is an interesting mix of print and online efforts.

Since 2006 C-Heads Magazine shows a snapshot of youth culture, bringing together only the most talented people. In print and online the Vienna / Berlin based magazine shows the full creative range out of photography, fashion, music, art and culture. Explore exclusive editorials and the best of designers, stylists, musicians and writers from different parts of the world, who merge to feed our 300,000 readers with amazing talent, latest trends and inspiration.

We all ...

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January 11th, 2014

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New publishing models for print web hybrids

I only just now discovered Issuu which looks like a clever idea. I think the magazines uploaded to it are all originally designed for print. You can sign up and create an account and “subscribe” to the various magazines. The graphic layout is a strong reminder of everything that is wrong with web graphics.

Source

January 9th, 2014

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It takes a nation of millions to push them forward

Interesting:

But it’s not like Larry Page and Sergey Brin ever lived on a commune. They came along long after the counterculture. How do you draw that connection?

One of the great mistakes people made in reviewing my book was to say, “Wow, it’s great. Turner finally showed us how the hippies brought us computing.” Nothing could be further from the truth. What I think I did in the book was actually show how the research world that brought us computing also ...

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January 8th, 2014

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YCombinator “safe” agreements are intended to replace convertible notes

Interesting:

The safe (simple agreement for future equity) is intended to replace convertible notes in most cases, and we think it addresses many of the problems with convertible notes while preserving their flexibility. In addition to being simpler and clearer, we intend the safe to remain fair to both investors and founders. During its development the safe was positively reviewed by many of the top startup investors. We believe it’s a positive evolution of the convertible note and hope the startup community ...

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January 7th, 2014

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All entrepreneurs are criminals

Along with the theory that most entrepreneurs start off breaking the rules, and only later, if they are successful, do they turn their operation into something legitimate:

The Man Who Does Not Exist insisted on anonymity in exchange for sharing his story. He considers himself a New York entrepreneur who wants to make a buck and doesn’t have much patience for what he views as arbitrary rules and regulations, such as those that govern renting apartments to Airbnb subscribers. He’s ...

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January 7th, 2014

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The challenges faced by Netflix

I think I am alone in this, but I would be happy to stick to Netflix’s DVD service. But I have a lot of friends who use it mostly for its streaming service. I think the adage “Never underestimate Netflix” remains a good one: despite the huge challenges facing the media landscape, Netflix keeps winning. This is interesting:

Alexis Madrigal has a rollicking investigation into Netflix’s movie genres — all 76,897 of them, from category #1 (African-American Crime Documentaries) ...

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January 5th, 2014

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Game culture and women

Interesting:

2013 seems to have been a good year for games, but a bad one for gamers: a blur of angry adolescent guys reminding women just who is the boss in game culture. Wu recounts a number of the year’s worst examples, and they’re surprisingly grotesque.

That said, a bravo must go out to one of the more prominent contributors to the bullying tenor of game culture, Mike Krahulik, who today recognized his problem and promised to deal with it.

But publishers ...

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January 3rd, 2014

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The invisibility of programming as a career

Interesting:

I personally feel qualified to take on the title of “hacker” because of my early in life and broad experiences with programming, but simultaneously feel that I’ll never truly be one because I don’t fit the stereotype and am okay with that: I wear dresses and heels instead of hoodies and sneakers, I keep a regular sleep schedule, and most of all, I’m not male. I feel like I might be earning extra respect because of my extra years of ...

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December 29th, 2013

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An incredible comeback story

Incredible:

She had what she calls “moments of being dead” during the ambulance trip to the hospital, but was revived and reassembled in the first of what would be more than 100 operations.

“I still carry around all the rosaries that people put on the hospital bed,” she says. Pierson did not actually see any of those visitors, having been in a drug-induced coma for 18 months. When she woke up, she was blind, bald and, at 64 pounds, had lost nearly ...

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December 29th, 2013

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Girls who code

Interesting:

Paul asks “God knows what you would do to get 13 year old girls interested in computers?” and that is a damn good question and one that I have been thinking about a lot over the past four years. We see very few women entrepreneurs walk into USV and that is disappointing to me. And I agree with Paul that one of the issues (but by no means the only issue) causing this gap, is that young women are not ...

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December 25th, 2013

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Bullying among academics

Interesting:

Beitz is a co-author of “Social Bullying in Nursing Academia,” an article published in the September/October 2013 edition of Nurse Educator that draws upon interviews conducted with 16 nursing professors who were the victims of social bullying in an academic nursing workplace. Beitz says that the participants described in detail instances in which they were slandered, isolated, physically threatened, lied to, or given unrealistic workloads, among various other bullying tactics. The participants in the study were primarily non-tenured female ...

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December 22nd, 2013

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Do you need television to keep up with the Kardashians?

Why You’re Not Watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians Anymore. This is an interesting take on how things are changing:

The problem is, like many reality stars before them, the Kardashians have become many times more famous than their so-called docudrama. Unlike many such reality stars before them, they’re able to docu their own drama in real time, 24/7, on a range of platforms that actually outnumbers the Kardashians themselves (most of us were just getting the hang of Facebook when ...

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December 14th, 2013

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When will media companies understand technology?

The big media event today is Beyonce’s new video. So of course, the server is down? The error is a WordPress error. When do media people learn how to use software and servers to handle big spikes in traffic?

Source

December 5th, 2013

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Why leadership often misunderstands software

Interesting:

Back in the mid-1990s, I did a lot of web work for traditional media. That often meant figuring out what the client was already doing on the web, and how it was going, so I’d find the techies in the company, and ask them what they were doing, and how it was going. Then I’d tell management what I’d learned. This always struck me as a waste of my time and their money; I was like an overpaid bike messenger, ...

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December 5th, 2013

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Watch users interact with your software everyday

I so very, very badly want this to be me:

Every now and again, I see a business doing something so sensible and so radical at the same time that I realize I’m seeing a little piece of the future. I had that feeling last week, after visiting my friend Scott Heiferman at Meetup.

On my way out after a meeting, Scott pulled me into a room by the elevators, where a couple of product people were watching a live webcam feed ...

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December 4th, 2013

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Does intellectual debate matter?

Interesting:

The sad and remarkable thing that we’ve learned over the past year or so is how little intellectual debate matters. On both fiscal austerity and monetary policy, the PREs (Perfectly Reasonable Economists) have completely blown the VSPs (Very Serious People) out of the water — the inflationistas, the expansionary austerians, the 90-percent threshold of doom people have all seen their claims collapse in the face of evidence. Yet policy barely changes, and the VSPs continue to talk as if ...

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November 30th, 2013

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The economics of Paul Krugman

This fellow finds a very good quote where Paul Krugman defends himself as an establishment economist. We should all wonder: if the year was 1968, would Paul Krugman be considered left-of-center or right-of-center?

I like to think that I am more open-minded about alternative approaches to economics than most, but I am basically a maximization-and-equilibrium kind of guy. Indeed, I am quite fanatical about defending the relevance of standard economic models in many situations.

I won’t say that I am entirely ...

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November 29th, 2013

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Corruption creeps into the USA military

Really worrisome:

Even many retired Navy officers say they have been shocked by how chummy some of the officers charged in the case had become with Mr. Francis, calling him Big Bro and Boss in emails and promising to “work your business plan” within the Navy bureaucracy.

“This kind of malfeasance in basically working for someone else is kind of unheard-of among line officers, except in cases where someone was spying for a foreign power,” said Kevin Eyer, a retired Navy captain ...

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November 29th, 2013

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Life is luck

Interesting:

Luck helps determine how much human capital we acquire in the first place. I’m thinking of several mechanisms here:

– When you were born. Rick was lucky enough to be born near enough to the computer age.Had he been born a few decades earlier, he’d never have unleashed his writing “talent.**” This point extends. In the 50s, only a few people could get to university. Now, many more can – which gives late developers especially more advantage. (It is ...

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November 26th, 2013

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The decline of the dollar

Interesting:

Most people know that the general trend in the dollar’s role as an international currency has been slowly downward since 1976. International use of the dollar as a currency in which to hold foreign exchange reserves, to denominate financial transactions, to invoice trade, and to serve as a vehicle for foreign exchange transactions is below where it was during the heyday of the Bretton Woods era (1945-1971). But few are aware of what the most recent numbers show. ...

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November 26th, 2013

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Tales for our time

Certainly worth remembering, as part of what this era was like:

Ran out of money. Ran out of credit. Losing house in two months (already foreclosed). Wife pregnant. Three kids all under 6. Pretty sure I am the opposite of everyone here. I am no man. Just a statistic. Everything is gone. Selling spare parts to keep the lights on. It was a nice fantasy, HN. To the rest of you: fight hard and good luck.

Source

November 25th, 2013

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How much does luck influence startups?

Interesting:

I tried to follow all the good advice successful entrepreneurs gave when explaining their accomplishments.

For example I started writing a blog. Some say content marketing is a key to success – to create a community that would be useful once the product is released. I also started looking at methodologies like Lean Startup. I released fast and failed fast. I went to startup events to find a co-founder because they said that it’s mandatory if you want to succeed ...

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November 25th, 2013

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100k in student debt and only poorly paid jobs

I am part of many Meetup groups. This was just posted to a tech Meetup. I am removing the name and reposting it here. (This person’s name is one that I would associate with China.) They are now in New York. I think it is sad they have 100k in student debt, but they can only get a below average job.

Hello everyone,

My name [person's name]. I am sorry to bother you. I have start join [name of tech Meetup] ...

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November 24th, 2013

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TV is dying

Interesting:

The TV business is having its worst year ever. Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.

Media stock analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson recently noted, “The pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever.” All the major TV providers lost a collective 113,000 subscribers in Q3 2013. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal — but ...

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November 23rd, 2013

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The uselessness of journalism in the modern era

Interesting:

This is a powerful and important work, but even so, I can’t help but think that it has arrived very late in the day. Ask yourself: how many books have been published describing the destruction of the postwar middle-class economic order and the advent of the shiny, plutocratized new one? Well, since I myself started writing about the subject in the mid-1990s—and thus earned a place on every book publicist’s mailing list—there have been at least a thousand, not counting ...

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November 19th, 2013

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Incentives for bureaucrats

Interesting:

To measure such management practices, we adapt the methodology set out in Nick Bloom and John Van Reenen’s pioneering work (Bloom and Van Reenen 2007, 2010). Earlier Vox columns have described the impact of management practices on explaining cross-country productivity differences in private sector firms, and on firm behaviour in developing countries. We adapt this method to measure management practices for bureaucrats in Nigeria, and then link these multiple dimensions of management to the quantity and quality of public services ...

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November 19th, 2013

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The land of the free

Very sad:

Then he found my Yemeni visa. He put my passport down and stared at me.

“What the hell were you doing in Yemen?”

“I went to the island Socotra, it’s not on mainland Yemen. It’s a small island closer to Somalia. A very special place, some call it ‘Galapagos of the Middle East.’ I think 85 percent of the plants and animals there, are indigenous.”

“Weren’t you scared?”

“Yeah. I was scared. When I was at the airport in mainland Yemen. That entire ...

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November 19th, 2013

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The 401K is a failed experiment

I am feeling somewhat justified in having been extremely skeptical, since the 1990s:

I became such an enthusiast of the new investing culture that I wrote my first book, in the mid-1990s, about what I called “the democratization of money.” It was only right, I argued, that the little guy have the same access to the markets as the wealthy. In the book, I didn’t make much of the decline of pensions. After all, we were in the middle of the ...

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November 14th, 2013

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A man wanted a website and he ended up “mad, frustrated and angry”

Interesting. This is the first time in history that the reputation of the President Of The United States has been affected by a website. And I have known many clients who feel “mad, frustrated and angry” because they don’t understand why the website is taking so long, nor do they understand how to manage a software project so it is done on time.

As the story of the Obamacare website fiasco unfolds, senior administration aides tell me that the President is ...

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November 14th, 2013

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Google+ demonstrates Google’s new insecurity

Interesting.

Google is now adopting Microsoft’s failed policies of directly imitating a competitor, without adding anything new or interesting itself. Instead of doing something wholly new, Google is promoting Google+ as a straight alternative to Facebook. Meanwhile Google has shutdown dozens of innovative services that Google felt were too small. Google has also cut back on the 20% time that engineers could use to come up with something that Google’s competitor’s were not already doing. Larry Page has said he ...

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November 13th, 2013

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Wages in the USA have been falling since 1973

Interesting:

The steady stream of Watergate revelations, President Richard Nixon’s twists and turns to fend off disclosures, the impeachment hearings, and finally an unprecedented resignation—all these riveted the nation’s attention in 1974. Hardly anyone paid attention to a story that seemed no more than a statistical oddity: That year, for the first time since the end of World War II, Americans’ wages declined.

Since 1947, Americans at all points on the economic spectrum had become a little better off with each ...

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October 23rd, 2013

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Financial deregulation means the USA must suffer with an overvalued currency

Interesting:

Leaving aside the large surplus just after World War II, we went from persistent small surpluses before 1980 to persistent large deficits after 1980. This meant that we needed more domestic demand, other things equal, to achieve full employment — and arguably that we needed a series of bubbles and rising leverage, which are no longer forthcoming.

The reason I’m hesitating a bit before simply declaring trade the culprit is the issue of causation, and the related issue of whether those ...

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October 20th, 2013

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The seas are dying

Interesting:

Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.

“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.

But this time, on that whole long leg of sea ...

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October 17th, 2013

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Important researchers are kept out of the USA

How long can the USA remain the world capitol of technical research if the world’s researchers can not meet here for conferences?

Adi Shamir Prevented from Attending Crypto and Cryptology Conferences

“Peter G. Neumann” Wed, 16 Oct 2013 9:43:36 PDT Adi Shamir applied for a J1 visa at the beginning of June 2013, two and one-half months early, so that he could attend the annual Crypto Conference in Santa Barbara in mid-August (which he has almost always attend for the past 32 years) and a ...

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October 16th, 2013

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Military software projects are a disaster

Very interesting and sad commentary:

Re: Army Nears Completion of Migration to Defense Enterprise Email

I agree with SSG Deployed and MAJ TPU on all of their points but there is an even bigger problem lurking.

DEE WILL DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTE TO SECURITY ISSUES!

I have migrated to EE recently and can see that there are several major issues that are going to directly contribute to security issues. The first 2 are issues that will cause users to be unhappy which will cause issue ...

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October 15th, 2013

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Can creativity be separated from politics?

Berlin wants creativity. Has there ever been an era of innovation that was not, also, a period of political change? Eras of technical innovation often come after some political upheaval that opens a door. The English Revolution put in place the civil rights necessary to allow the Agricultural Revolution, and the American Civil War put in place the national market that allowed the Second Industrial Revolution. The great Post War Boom followed World War II. Maybe you could say the ...

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October 15th, 2013

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I love Berlin?

I love Berlin. But it is changing. As with New York, it is possible that what made it attractive to artists also started a boom that must eventually make it unattractive to artists. This is similar to what happened to Soho, in New York City, between 1985 and 2005: first the artists move in because rents are low, but the artists drive out the drug dealers and make the place sexy, and then the rich want to move in and ...

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October 10th, 2013

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Hannah Montana is now listed as the lead actress in Hannah Montana: The Movie

How is this even legal? Can you actually lie about who the actress was? You don’t like how a woman is behaving now, so you retroactively remove her name from the movies she starred in? This is the corporate version of The Commissar Vanishes.

This is the last Miley news of today, I promise! Her name has been removed from all Hannah Montana CDs on iTunes and replaced solely with “Hannah Montana.” “See You Again” is now listed as a Hannah ...

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October 9th, 2013

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AirBnB continues its fight with NYC

I am confused about this warrant. It appears to be a blanket warrant that assumes everyone who uses AirBnB is using it illegally. Surely there must be some people who renting out rooms in their own homes, while they are there, all of which is legal. Since some people are probably using AirBnB legally, the warrant is almost surely unconstitutionally broad. If the government gets all the data then they can assume guilt and gather evidence where they have no ...

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September 23rd, 2013

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Does Starcraft teach you something about startups?

Interesting:

This won’t come as a surprise if you’re familiar with the game’s genre, but playing Starcraft 2 might make you smarter. Starcraft 2 is a so-called “real-time strategy game,” a form of video game that involves resource management and military planning in parallel, while restricting the amount of information that each player has.

The result is a gaming experience that involves planning, strategic thinking on the fly, and rapid mental and physical coordination (this is why I’m terrible at Starcraft, if ...

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September 23rd, 2013

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Judging college based on its financial return

This graph makes it appear that “Judged from a financial perspective, a bachelor’s degree has a positive return on investment that beats the returns of the stock market, corporate bonds, and the housing market.” However, to believe this graph is valid, you have to believe that the income premium (over high school) that college graduates made in the past will continue to be true in the future. To the extent this is true, it might be because of falling wages ...

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September 23rd, 2013

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Why failure happens

Throughout history, leaders have found it more convenient to be wrong for the “right” reasons than to be right for the “wrong” reasons. No one criticizes you for subscribing to ideas that are popular and wrong, but god help you if believe something that is unpopular, though true. And thus, failure continues to happen.

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September 22nd, 2013

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Dramatic decline ahead for higher ed in the USA

Interesting:

That’s for-profit schools, which are suffering in a big way, but in the USA the under 24 population will decline for awhile, and not recover till the year 2030, so higher ed in the USA will struggle for awhile.

Source

September 22nd, 2013

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Women prefer positive message, men prefer negative

Interesting:

Results

Our empirical results show large differences in the gender response to political persuasion strategies. In fact, male and female voters respond in opposite ways to the degree of aggressiveness of the opponent’s campaign.

Negative advertising increases men’s turnout by about eight percentage points, but has no effect on women. Gender differences are even stronger for electoral choices.

Women vote more for the opponent (by eight points) and less for the incumbent (by eight points) if exposed to the opponent’s positive campaign. Exactly the opposite ...

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September 22nd, 2013

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Dying dBase brought down 2 companies

Interesting:

However, “Ashton Tate was put on the auction block, and the investment bankers made a very convincing pitch that if we added installed market share to Borland’s superior technology, we could become a leader for enterprise solutions,” Kahn said. Moreover, the bankers argued that if someone else like Microsoft or Lotus acquired Ashton-Tate, it would make things very difficult for Borland, he said. “There was a lot of debate within Borland as to whether to acquire dBASE,” Kahn said. “I was ambivalent. ...

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September 22nd, 2013

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Banks suck the souls of the poor

Interesting:

To give you an idea of how this happens: when I was in college, I worked at a pizza shop. It was Thursday. I got paid Friday. I thought I had $20 in my bank account, but I didn’t realize that day was the day that my World of Warcraft subscription was up, and that was $15. During the course of the day, I bought lunch, a snack, and some pencils or something. All that total was less than the ...

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September 21st, 2013

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What killed the Blackberry?

Interesting:

Not saying this is typical, but here is my experience of Blackberry. I was in IT support at the time they came out. One of the things I hated about IT support, and I found it common with most colleagues, was the idea that if you are in IT, every thing with a plug or batteries is some how part of an IT person’s skill set. Because we are the clever mysterious people who can fix the server, we must ...

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September 21st, 2013

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Doctors killing patients

Interesting:

So egregious was the death that the Collin County medical examiner listed the cause of death as “therapeutic misadventure” because the cause of death had been an injured vertebral artery. You just don’t see coroners putting that sort of phrase on a death certificate. In any case, after Kellie Martin’s death, Dr. Duntsch either resigned or was forced out, but there was no black mark on his record. He got privileges at another hospital, Dallas Medical Center. Now look at ...

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September 21st, 2013

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Before patents, when software was innovative

Interesting, and very sad to think about how much things have gone downhill:

Why didn’t we patent the spreadsheet? Were we stupid?

This is a very common question, since, by the late 1990′s, software inventions were routinely patented. Today, it seems negligent to ignore patents. However, in 1979, when VisiCalc was shown to the public for the first time, patents for software inventions were infrequently granted. Programs were thought to be mere mathematical algorithms, and mathematical algorithms, as laws of nature, were ...

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September 20th, 2013

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This is the stupidest thing that the New York Times has ever done

My god, this is stupid. The New York Times is in decline and faces bankruptcy over the next 10 years. They must be deep in denial to be giving away some of the money they will need to survive. Idiots.

Source

September 20th, 2013

In Business

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Microsoft Excel is important because of its ease of data visualization

Microsoft Excel is the linchpin of Microsoft Office, the only part of Office that is truly irreplaceable. I wonder what can ever compete with Excel? Interesting:

Excel has developed a reputation of being bloated, slow, error prone and used primarily by “business people” who don’t have real quantitative skills. Just like anything else, Excel is a tool that can be misused but is significantly more useful than people give it credit for. The most important benefit Excel provides is making data ...

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September 19th, 2013

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The American middle class is shrinking

Interesting:

Persons per family household: 1990: 3.22 2000: 3.24 2010: 3.24 Not so much change, and if you look you will see there is also not so much change for non-family households. The Census pdf is here. I have covered this ground before, but the myth of “changing household size means economic progress has been just fine” dies hard. By the way, the average number of people in a household categorized as “living alone” has remained strictly constant at one. All of this is referring ...

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September 19th, 2013

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4chan culture struggles with the onslaught of success

Interesting:

Moderation has always been a hot-button issue on 4chan. “What’s considered ‘on-topic’?”, “How strictly should the rules be enforced?”, et cetera have all been debated for years, but while the questions have remained the same, the 4chan of today is not the 4chan of yesterday.

Last month, 4chan was accessed by 22.5 million unique visitors. For comparison, during that same period five years ago, the site was accessed by 3.2 million unique visitors. Rules 1 and 2 be damned, 4chan has ...

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September 19th, 2013

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Large companies are terrible about online security

Interesting:

One of the things people often ask me about in regards to software security is “Are there any standards that these people should be following? Any governing bodies? Any recourse for screwing things up?” Ok, that’s three things but you get the idea and people are usually pretty surprised when they learn that for the most part, no. No standards, no governing bodies, no recourse. You can go and create a new website today storing everyone’s credentials in the clear, ...

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My name is Lawrence Krubner. I run WP Questions .


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