Shanghai Building to be Demolished

Business

October 27th, 2014

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A very open company

This is impressive. Parsely claims that it wants to do all development in the open. They are donating a lot of their technology to open source, and they are being open about their process. How open are there? How about this, the CTO and a lead engineer have a conversation in public about the quality of the work:

This doesn’t look quite ready for prime time. Though “storm submit” works, it fails to produce a working topology on my locally-installed ...

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October 25th, 2014

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A new low for tech bro PR?

Surprising and sad:

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Kristen V. Brown recounts the incident:

A few weeks ago, a startup founder showed up in the lobby of The Chronicle after hours. He told me I hadn’t responded to his e-mails. And he wanted to get my attention.

He delivered his pitch, along with a wicker basket filled with sexually suggestive gifts: the sex toy, a tube of K-Y Jelly, raw oysters and Tequila.

This is standard fare for lame pick-up artists: take a girl ...

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October 22nd, 2014

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Will GamerGate win?

Max Read has a good post: “How We Got Rolled by the Dishonest Fascists of Gamergate“:

On October 1, the computing giant Intel pulled its ads from Gamasutra, a trade website for game developers, over an essay called “‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over” by a journalist named Leigh Alexander. Intel had been successfully harassed by a small, contemptible crusade called “Gamergate”—a campaign of dedicated anti-feminist internet trolls using an ill-informed mob of alienated and resentful video ...

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October 22nd, 2014

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The worst startup ever?

Homophobia, racism, classism, credential boasting, here is a startup that combines all the worst stereotypes about startups:

Ajay flashed a grin and we shook hands and sat down. He asked me to describe myself and I gave him a practiced elevator pitch of my background and experience. He nodded and quickly took over the conversation.

“So, as you might already know, I started this company while I was getting my MBA at Harvard. Before this, I worked for McKinsey & Company…” ...

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October 19th, 2014

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The tech industry is shifting away from nice guys

Interesting:

Here’s the problem. Every venture capitalist, in every interview they’ve ever done will tell you the same casual lie: That they invest in people first and ideas second. They’ll tell you they invest only in people they’d want to work with. They’ll tell you that they have the luxury to say no to companies that don’t do things in line with the way they like to work, the way they like to treat people.

You don’t have to look too far ...

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October 18th, 2014

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Should the law accept apologies?

Interesting:

Between 90 and 95 per cent of all criminal convictions in the US result from guilty pleas rather than jury trials. In many if not all of the millions of cases in the US criminal justice system, courts determine punishments in part based on their sense of whether the offender is remorseful or not. We might wince at the idea of secular states engaging in the ‘soul crafting’ of the original penitentiaries, but we still expect state agents to divine ...

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October 18th, 2014

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The dream job at the dying company?

A recruiter contacted me about working at Living Social, and it sounded great. But now I read that it is imploding:

This probably would have been a better move before the entire company started to implode, but I’m no businessman: LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy is quitting his dying company.

Source

October 18th, 2014

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Can you run a business and do a reality show?

I’ve often thought it would be fun to be in a documentary about what I do (and the guys at 37 Signals are doing this now with their own business) but I’m puzzled how one can do an unrelated show while still staying dedicated to one’s day job:

Jennifer “Jenny” Terrell is set to star in “Private Lives of Nashville Wives,” basically “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” only on a worse network (TNT) and with a worse destiny (swift cancellation). ...

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October 18th, 2014

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Is there any consequence to being wrong?

If your job is to make predictions about the future, and all of your predictions are wrong, then you should lose your job. But if you are a defense attorney, and you know your client is guilty, you still have a moral obligation to mount the most rigorous defense possible. Into which of these 2 categories do professional economists belong? Clearly, there is no agreement. Some think they are struggling to discover the truth. Others feel they have been hired ...

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October 18th, 2014

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This is what misogyny looks like

Eron Gjoni is shockingly irresponsible. He wrote falsehoods that effected the lives of several women, including the journalists trying to cover the story, but he says he has no regrets, and he would do it all again. What a psychopath.

Although violent animosity against women in video games is not even close to a new phenomenon, it didn’t congeal into Gamergate, a coordinated movement with mainstream press attention, until Eron Gjoni, the ex-boyfriend of game developer Zoë Quinn, released a ...

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October 18th, 2014

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Stealing funds from investors and spending it on a party

Interesting.

Former Motionloft CEO Jonathan Mills has pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud. The San Francisco entrepreneur, who raised funding from Mark Cuban, was arrested by the FBI in February. He admitted to spending “substantial amounts” of his victims’ money on “vacations and other entertainment,” like that time he hired Grammy-award winner Miguel (above) for a private show and numerous trips to Vegas.

This Might Be the Most Hated Man in Silicon Valley

You can get away with a lot ...

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October 6th, 2014

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What exactly is the link between success and narcissistic overconfidence?

Interesting:

There’s something in this. Narcissism pays both across the wage distribution – because men who spend lots of time in front of the mirror earn more – and in the boardroom: narcissistic CEOs are better paid. And way back in 1986, Richard Roll said that value-destroying takeovers were often motivated by hubris (pdf) – though he was only echoing Kenneth Boulding’s warning (pdf) of 20 years earlier, that:

There is a great deal of evidence that almost all organizational structures ...

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October 5th, 2014

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GamerGate reveals rampant misogyny

This is awful:

For those of you who aren’t gamers (or don’t hang out all day on Reddit or Twitter), Gamergate arose after the ex-boyfriend of indie game developer Zoe Quinn accused her of trading sex for positive reviews. Following an ethics investigation by the gaming site Kotaku, these allegations proved to be false. But that hasn’t stopped Quinn and other prominent females in the gaming community from being subjected to rape threats and other horrifically misogynist rhetoric. Gamergate defenders ...

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October 4th, 2014

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Programmers who become managers forget how hard programming is

I like this:

But my objection to the advice that management should not contribute technically is actually deeper than technical conflict resolution. Software is so hard that it becomes like child birth in that we have an overwhelming bias to forget the pain: the second you stop writing software, you start rewriting your own history. So as far as you can remember, it was all pretty straightforward, you always hit your deadlines, etc. And with this, you have started down the ...

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October 4th, 2014

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Loyalty to a corporation

Interesting:

A few weeks ago, a client that I worked at laid everybody off and it was brutal, it was cold. They held an all-hands meeting and said, “You’re all fired. There’s no severance, we’re going out of business, there’s no COBRA, there’s no coverage. People that are outside of the state are not eligible for unemployment. You’re just all out in the cold right now.” And a lot of the people that I really like at the company had ...

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October 4th, 2014

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Learning a craft is like starting a business

Interesting:

Here are some of the personality flaws I’ve spotted:

Several students in different episodes are obsessed with “expressing themselves” instead of following the brief (the job specification). They waste precious time in “creative” noodling instead of actually getting shit done.

Others indulge themselves in childish boredom and rebellion when it comes to the repetition of early stages of learning, instead of committing to the basics with all their hearts.

Several more wield perfectionism as a weapon against their own achievement… a weapon, and ...

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October 1st, 2014

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Problems in the USA economy started in 1954

I already knew that 1958 marked the beginning of some inflection point, where the wages of young males began to flatline, a fact which brought the Baby Boom to an end. But I am surprised to see that problems in the USA economy were already taking shape as early as 1954:

We all know that Joseph McCarthy’s attack on the labor unions had big political effects, but here we see that it also had big economic effects.

Source

October 1st, 2014

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Economic growth concentrates at the top

Interesting:

Source

October 1st, 2014

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Scrum is an industry where everyone scams everyone

Search for “scrum master certification” on Google and you get an endless sea of results:

“Agile” started with some noble ideals but has since become a bit of a scam, where the scamsters “certify” other people, so they can also become scamsters, and everyone makes huge money talking about theory, but no one has any clue about how to create good software.

Source

September 29th, 2014

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Is Facebook repeating all of Friendster’s mistakes?

Queers are leaving Facebook:

If you haven’t heard of Ello before this week, you’re not alone. Just this morning my Facebook timeline blew up with friends offering invite codes for what I assumed was a new Gilt-like shopping site, and what turned out to be a new and friendlier social network, which would allow anyone who wanted to be a part of it be who they wanted to be, complete with the name they’ve chosen for themselves.

Ello’s uptick in popularity comes ...

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September 29th, 2014

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Declining wages spread to the rest of the West

In the USA, real wages for men have been declining since 1973:

Now, this tragic downward spiral is spreading to other Western nations:

Real wages continue to fall in the UK and elsewhere, yet despite this striking feature of the labour market, some commentators anticipate resurgent pay growth in the near future. This column argues that the absence of any improvement in the UK’s productivity performance – together with evidence that nominal wage growth is flatlining and real wage growth ...

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September 22nd, 2014

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How to publish one’s own book

Interesting:

I had been reading Nathan Barry’s excellent book Authority and something about it inspired me. I started throwing around ideas, things that I knew well and that weren’t well covered already, and I turned up Stripe. I know Stripe very well having used it for a bunch of projects in the past few years. I also know Rails, using it in most of those projects plus at my day job. I knew for sure that there were things about payment ...

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September 22nd, 2014

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The sacrifices of women who are CEOs

Interesting:

Nega-Brianna I’m late for a programming meeting with Maria, and don’t have time to be stuck in Boston traffic. So instead of grabbing my car keys, I don black, skin-tight leather armor and leap on my motorcycle. It’s a 2009 Honda CBR600RR in racing red — something straight out of Akira. I’ve leaned into highway turns at 80 mph feeling nothing but speed, the air whipping all around me, and my thighs gripping a 212°F engine for dear life. My emotional ...

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September 22nd, 2014

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Crime no longer lifts people out of poverty

After 2 centuries where crime lifted people out of poverty, the USA faces a situation where crime no longer helps people:

Chuck and Mike were criminals: they were complicit in the barbarism of the drug trade. But, in the Mertonian sense, they were also innovators. Goffman describes how they craved success in mainstream society. They tried to get an education and legitimate jobs, only to find themselves thwarted. Selling crack was a business they entered into only because they believed that ...

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September 21st, 2014

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The struggle between Uber and its drivers

Uber’s drivers are hemmed in by Uber’s changing terms, feel the need to organize a union:

Kazi drives a Toyota Prius for Uber in Los Angeles. He hates it. He barely makes minimum wage, and his back hurts after long shifts. But every time a passenger asks what it’s like working for Uber, he lies: “It’s like owning my own business; I love it.”

Kazi lies because his job depends on it. After passengers finish a ride, Uber asks them to rate ...

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September 21st, 2014

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Yet another investor complains about low rates

Are these people stupid? Yet another article complaining about low rates. Rates were higher in the 1990s, but we still had the original Internet boom.

Gurley’s thesis isn’t hard to follow: Companies are being rewarded by the market for spending — and losing — huge sums of private capital that they can cheaply and quickly raise given the current investment and equities climate. Or, put another way, investors are giving companies huge sums to burn, because the market is willing to ...

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September 12th, 2014

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Wikipedia lacks women

Interesting:

It is sometimes argued that women simply have less time to contribute to Wikipedia, due to family commitments. This is a fallacy. Firstly, the United Nations University survey found that only 33.29% of respondents had a partner, and only 14.72% had children. The difference between readers and contributors was negligible here, and the survey report’s analysis indicated only a minor difference in parenthood percentages for male (15.1%) and female (13.7%) respondents. It is patently obvious that girls and women in ...

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September 10th, 2014

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A corrupt for-profit college

Sickening:

What was working at Neumont like with Ned Levine as President? A former student, Jason Aquino, claimed that Levine harassed him and other students at the school. Another student, Ryan Elkins, was “banned” from campus after starting a blog talking about some of his experiences at Neumont. The CollegeTimes team was also bribed and then threatened by Levine as well. Does Mr. Levine maintain a carrot/stick attitude with his employees? What did you witness happen to Kristi Robertson in ...

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September 9th, 2014

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What sort of social life do you have if you live at work?

I have often worked over-night at work, but I can not imagine doing this for several months on end. Mostly, I wonder what sort of social life these people have?

Ben Discoe, a Google [X] UI programmer, says he lived on Google’s campus for 13 months.

” I had a house payment and alimony to pay,” Discoe writes. “No money left for South Bay rental prices. I got a 1990 GMC Vandura custom conversion van for $1800 (blue velour, ...

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September 8th, 2014

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Sarah Lacy believes in patience

Interesting:

Nearly every single investor Pando has has asked me how more money or algorithms can scale our company faster. My answer is always: They can’t. It’s just going to take five to ten years of solid work to build the media company we want to build. There is no shortcut.

Further, I’ve been told– again and again– that there is no way to build a huge ad-based business without Huffington Post/BuzzFeed-like page views and scale. I disagree with that one ...

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September 8th, 2014

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The sharing economy gives rise to the scam economy

Pathetic:

Kreyos’ story is starting to feel as old as time itself. It went live on Indiegogo in June last year, trying to raise $100,000 for what it promised to be the only smartwatch to combine both voice and gesture control. It ended up with 15 times that amount: $1.5m. Its Meteor smartwatch would track sleep, and exercise, and be waterproof. Kreyos promised that it was ready to go straight into production when funding closed in August and would ship ...

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September 8th, 2014

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Innovation to end The Great Stagnation

Interesting:

“It’s pretty amazing to hold leather that no pig or cow died for,” says Lindy Fishburne, an officer of the Thiel Foundation. She is describing a slightly creepy “biofabricated” product made by a startup the foundation funded with a $350,000 donation. The company, named Modern Meadow, makes leather and, indeed, meat by taking skin or muscle samples from animals via biopsy and then growing them in vitro. Modern Meadow is just one of 19 futuristic startups that have received ...

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September 8th, 2014

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Apple has been sloppy about security

Apple allowed brute force attacks on iCloud? Amazing and awful:

First the company updated the iCloud website to prevent brute-force attacks, patching a vulnerability that should never have been there in the first place. Now it plans to add more security features to iCloud, allowing it to message people when the service is backed up, passwords are changed, or a new device is used to access the service for the first time, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Source

September 8th, 2014

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Gawker struggles to avoid full impact of unpaid-intern lawsuit

Interesting:

In the letter, we learn that Gawker doesn’t want to have to post the notice in its offices, on the basis that it no longer employs unpaid interns. But, as the plaintiffs point out, several of Gawker’s current staffers began their career at the company as unpaid interns, and so would be entitled to join the class.

We also learn that Gawker doesn’t want to allow social media to be used to reach prospective plaintiffs, even though that’s exactly the best ...

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September 4th, 2014

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How can a corporation keep its employees from spying on celebrities?

This must be a big problem for all corporations, but it sounds like it is worse at Apple:

Eva Longoria: “I’ve had a lot of problems of people breaking into my email”

Billy Bush: “Hacked?”

Eva Longoria: “Yeah my Mac email… not hacked, just go get it from the stores and I had a big problem with that.”

Kit Hoover followed up, asking: “Wait, what were they sending you? Like ‘Hi Eva, my name is John?’”

Eva Longoria: “Yeah. ‘I made a dress I want ...

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September 4th, 2014

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There is an insane amount of blackhat hacking going on

Interesting:

4. The frequent source of new leads for targets seems to be newcomers who know somebody they want to hack and have stumbled onto one of the networks offering services via search terms or a forum they frequent. The new contributor will offer up a Facebook profile link, plus as much information as is required by the hacker to break the account, plus possible assistance in getting a RAT installed if required. In exchange the hacker and ripped will ...

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September 3rd, 2014

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The problem building a business to cater to the poor

Interesting:

1) Poor areas are overrun with corruption and graft. Its very hard to do the right thing, when individuals with power will actively work to put a bribe barrier between you and your work. Its like these individuals smell out good intentions and attempt to tax them for the perceived weak-minded good intentions. An example would be, after my brother created several successful startups using ex-cons, he wanted to turn the program over to the City. He quickly learned ...

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September 3rd, 2014

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The problem with the current tech startup scene

Though ignored by the current tech startup scene, there are some huge problems that need to be solved in the USA:

To your left are single mothers, 80% of whom, according to the US Census, are poor or hovering on the nasty edges of working poverty. They are struggling to raise their kids in a country that seems to conspire against any semblance of proper rearing: a lack of flexibility in the workplace; a lack of free or ...

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September 2nd, 2014

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The frustrations of Twitter

This is smart and sad:

We concede that there is some value to Twitter, but the social musing we did early on no longer fits. My feed (full of people I admire) is mostly just a loud, stupid, sad place. Basically: a mirror to the world we made that I don’t want to look into. The common way to refute my complaint is to say that I’m following the wrong people. I think I’m following the right people, I’m just seeing ...

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August 30th, 2014

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Microsoft finally defends its customers against government intrusion

Finally, Microsoft took a stand I can approve of:

Despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant said Friday it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. The judge has now ordered both Microsoft and federal prosecutors to advise her how to proceed by next Friday, September 5.

Let there be no doubt that Microsoft’s actions in this controversial case ...

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August 30th, 2014

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Greedy cable companies try to block municipal broadband

The corruption in American politics is outrageous:

Chattanooga has the largest high-speed internet service in the US, offering customers access to speeds of 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average. The service, provided by municipally owned EPB, has sparked a tech boom in the city and attracted international attention. EPB is now petitioning the FCC to expand its territory. Comcast and others have previously sued unsuccessfully to stop EPB’s fibre optic roll out.

I did a ...

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August 29th, 2014

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What if I totally misunderstood?

“What if I totally misunderstood?” seems to be the universal question women ask when guys engage in minor sexual harassment of them.

When Jessica Livingston, a co-founder of the influential startup accelerator Y Combinator, arrived at The Wine Room in Palo Alto, Calif., a little early for our meeting, a man who was also waiting outside the wine bar started to chat her up.

He asked what she was doing there all on her own, and whether she was there maybe ...

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August 24th, 2014

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The amazing success of Bustle

I am angry with myself for ruining my own chances to launch a successful website, and I am amazed that Bustle is doing well. Bryan Goldberg strikes me as absolutely clueless about women’s issues, yet he’s managed to create a site that gets huge traffic from women.

Do you read Bustle, the website best known in “the culture” as the place whose founder, Bryan Goldberg, uses his female employees’ legs as typing desks? No, me neither. Nonetheless, according to recent ...

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August 23rd, 2014

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The uncertainty of promised products

Interesting:

Almost a year ago I paid $55 to be an “early backer” of the credit card replacement system, with the promise that I’d be shipped a Coin summer of 2014. As the months went by emails would arrive detailing how Coin worked, how it was made, etc., all with the reminder that soon enough, I’d be receiving my Coin this summer.

Fast forward to this week — everyone who paid to be backer received an email stating that—HOORAY—our Coins would ...

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August 22nd, 2014

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Oracle takes $240 million for a website, and then fails to build the website

Interesting:

The 126-page lawsuit, filed in Marion County Circuit Court, claims that fraud, lying and “a pattern of racketeering” by Oracle cost the state and its Cover Oregon program hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Not only were Oracle’s claims lies, Oracle’s work was abysmal,” the lawsuit said. Oregon paid Oracle about $240.3 million for a system that never worked, the suit said.

Oracle issued a statement saying the suit “is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for ...

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August 19th, 2014

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Editors are worthless, and middle managers are also worthless

I love this:

Go find a story published a few years ago in The New Yorker, perhaps America’s most tightly edited magazine. Give that story to an editor, and tell him it’s a draft. I guarantee you that that editor will take that story—well-polished diamond that it presumably is—and suggest a host of changes. Rewrite the story to the specifications of the new editor. Then take it to another editor, and repeat the process. You will find, once again, that the ...

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August 11th, 2014

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How to handle comments at a media site

Very surprising post from the staff at Jezebel:

Working at Gawker Media is a dream job for many of the women on staff here at Jezebel. This is a place that takes chances on developing writers, that has always stood behind us no matter what. But it’s time the company had its feet held to the fire.

For months, an individual or individuals has been using anonymous, untraceable burner accounts to post gifs of violent pornography in the discussion section of stories ...

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August 5th, 2014

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Are in-app purchases uniquely destructive to personal finance?

Interesting argument:

Adults with a loose claim to self-sufficiency can still recite the cost of their monthly rent, their cable bill, student loan bills, smartphone bill, auto insurance, the seasonal range of electricity consumption, annual penalty for breeding, etc. When charges are deducted automatically, the numbers get fuzzier. For the spendthrift, monthly expenditures on food, drink, travel, and clothing are more nebulous still. But impulse-driven, one-press smartphone purchases are the easiest to lose track of, which makes apps even worse enablers ...

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August 5th, 2014

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(NSFW) Is Whisper really respecting people’s privacy?

Gawker Media gets data straight from Whisper:

Uber and Lyft are doing everything they can to recruit new drivers. There’s cash and perks and a bevy of enticing benefits, but for whatever reason they’re not mentioning the massive amount of spontaneous sex drivers are having with riders. …If you’re thinking this is all just an elaborate hoax by a spate of sexually frustrated Whisper users, we did too – and then we talked to the company. Whisper was able to weed ...

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August 5th, 2014

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The need to check PayPal

Something I need to do, that I’ve wanted to do for awhile, is add more checks to my payments systems.

You can make an API call to check the status of a transaction very easily. When my users are redirected back to my site (thanks page, or similar), I check if their transaction is completed, if not, I kick off an every-five-seconds check while asking the user to hold on while we talk with paypal. I will eventually fail after some number ...

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August 5th, 2014

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If a writers say they are writing a series, is that an implicit contract?

This is incorrect:

You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you. No such contract existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading, ...

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July 26th, 2014

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How to ruin a company

Interesting:

Our sales were growing so fast that the biggest problem that we faced was that we literally could not handle all the customers that wanted to sign up for Loudcloud. To combat this and enable us to grow, I worked diligently with my team to plan all the activities that we needed to accomplish to expand our capacity and capture the market before the competition. Next, I assigned sub-goals and activities to each functional head. In conjunction with my leadership ...

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June 27th, 2014

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E-books are more and more popular

I have a novel I’d like to publish, so e-books are interesting to me. Apparently it is really easy to publish them through Amazon, and Amazon let’s you keep 70% of the money, which seems like a good deal.

The state of the book is in constant danger. The novel is constantly dying, and there is a fear that the publishing industry in general is maybe doomed. But if there’s one sector of the publishing industry that’s alive and well, ...

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June 27th, 2014

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Do Catfish viewers get catfished?

This story has an ending that seems a little too good to be true. One has to wonder if the viewers of Catfish are some catfished by the producers?

Let’s pause here and note that Gabby’s family won’t allow her to meet Nev and Max in person, but they’re fine with her signing a release to Skype on camera with MTV? OK.

Gabby doesn’t identify as bisexual or as a lesbian but she admits that her interest in Miranda is not ...

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June 26th, 2014

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Jeff Bezos is putting more money into the Washington Post

Interesting:

At the time of the sale to Bezos, Donald Graham, Weymouth’s uncle and the chairman of The Washington Post Company, explained that he and his niece felt unsure of the direction in which to take the paper, or how to reverse years of declining revenues. He had approached Bezos as a buyer, he said, because the billionaire could offer deep pockets, a digital brain, and, between the two, a way forward.

Now a Bezos employee, Weymouth’s task onstage that April day ...

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June 26th, 2014

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Amazon’s growing power over the publishing industry

Amazon.com started in 1995. At the time, it was a tiny startup. But it now has the power to destroy hundreds of companies that have existed since the 1800s. How is that those venerable firms, with their wealth and connections and political power and their capital, have not been able to build something to compete with Amazon? They have now had 19 years to respond to Amazon, and they have failed to respond for 19 years. Why?

According to book industry ...

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June 24th, 2014

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Growing discontent with Google?

Google has certainly lost a great deal of the goodwill it once held.

Basically we all knew Google was a company so we shouldn’t be surprised that they went funny. But the change hurt. A company that had previously offered services for the good of their users now started shearing their customers like sheep. I won’t say they fleeced us exactly, because they never exacted any money from us directly, but they started selling us to their advertisers. Someone said, ...

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June 24th, 2014

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The declining power of the search engines?

Interesting graph:

Source

June 23rd, 2014

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The impact of online advertising can not be measured

Interesting:

It isn’t easy, of course. In 2013, Randall Lewis of Google and Justin Rao of Microsoft released the paper “On the Near Impossibility of Measuring the Returns on Advertising.” In it, they analyzed the results of 25 different field experiments involving digital ad campaigns, most of which reached more than 1 million unique viewers. The gist: Consumer behavior is so erratic that even in a giant, careful trial, it’s devilishly difficult to arrive at a useful conclusion about whether ...

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June 18th, 2014

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Startups are luck

Interesting:

The pivot used to be the exception. For example, a company starts out selling PEZ dispensers online and later pivots to become eBay. You didn’t hear about all of the companies that failed so the pivot stories probably sounded more prevalent than they were. It’s similar to how a story of one shark attack makes you think there’s a Great White under every surfboard. The human brain assumes that whatever it hears most frequently must be the best reflection of ...

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June 17th, 2014

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The evil of innovation

Interesting:

The idea of progress—the notion that human history is the history of human betterment—dominated the world view of the West between the Enlightenment and the First World War. It had critics from the start, and, in the last century, even people who cherish the idea of progress, and point to improvements like the eradication of contagious diseases and the education of girls, have been hard-pressed to hold on to it while reckoning with two World Wars, the Holocaust and Hiroshima, ...

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June 13th, 2014

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Internet advertising is a bad idea

Interesting:

Internet advertising has been the fastest growing advertising channel in recent years with paid search ads comprising the bulk of this revenue. We present results from a series of large scale field experiments done at eBay that were designed to measure the causal effectiveness of paid search ads. Because search clicks and purchase behavior are correlated, we show that returns from paid search are a fraction of conventional non-experimental estimates. As an extreme case, we show that brand-keyword ads ...

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June 13th, 2014

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The madness of being an entrepreneur

Interesting:

In logarithmic domains, two mindsets are important. In the beginning, high-growth phase, the emphasis needs to be on maintaining long-term habits. Since growth is fast initially, care needs to be taken so that it won’t slide back down once effort is removed. In the later, low-growth phase, the emphasis needs to be on habit breaking. Since low-growth is often caused by calcifying routines, deliberate effort needs to be taken to break out of that comfort zone. In exponential domains, the mindset ...

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June 7th, 2014

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The privacy crimes of Google+

Interesting:

Google began its “real name” enforcement with mass Google+ account suspensions and deletions shortly after Google+ launched in July 2011. The whole mess is called Nymwars.

Ex-Google employees were deleted. Writers, musicians, programmers and more were deleted. Editing your name raised suspicion and still risks getting you flagged.

Google+ remained silent while Nymwars raged through the headlines — until it told press it would allow “alternate names” — which was incorrectly reported (at first) as if Google had begin to allow ...

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June 3rd, 2014

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The one remaining strength of publishing is its prestige

This essay is a bit harsh on the publishers, and it also ignores the fact that the publishers are responding rationally to the one strength they still have:

This is the true tragedy of modern “publishers”: that as the world has become able to do the job that once only they could do, they’ve not stepped graciously aside, but devoted their energies to preventing works being available. The publishers’ outdated business model forces them to act in a way directly opposed ...

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May 19th, 2014

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Wall Street as the low-risk option for recent elite graduates

Interesting:

EK: This seems really at odd with finance’s vision of itself as a world of capitalist cowboys.

KR: We think of Wall Street as being full of these crazy risk takers. But in a lot of schools it’s these scared organization kids going to Wall Street. One thing Wall Street does that’s really smart is they actually tell you way earlier than other industries if you got a job. They’ll let you lock the job down in the fall of ...

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May 12th, 2014

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Media people are petty

Interesting and sad and hypocritical:

It appears that Violet Blue’s works were systematically removed from Boing Boing’s archives. This was no mistake. So while BB would seem to be a great symbol of the blog revolution—that dreamy ideal of everyone in the world freely expressing themselves to all, with no corporate filter—they’re also just another in an endless line of quirky media startups that found success, and then started acting just like the big establishment players to which they were ...

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May 11th, 2014

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Diversity is bad for teams

This strikes me as trade-off between short-term and long-term benefits. We can say that the biosphere of the earth is diverse, and that is good, so when the dinosaurs went extinct the mammals were ready to step in and run things. And we often do say that competition in the economy is good, such that when one company goes bankrupt, another company, with a different approach, is ready to step in. So in what sense can we say that diversity ...

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May 11th, 2014

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Advertising is bad for business

Interesting:

Firms almost never have enough data to justify their belief that ads work:

Classical theories assume the firm has access to reliable signals to measure the causal impact of choice variables on profit. For advertising expenditure we show, using twenty-five online field experiments with major U.S. retailers and brokerages ($2.8 million expenditure), that this assumption typically does not hold. Evidence from the randomized trials is very weak because individual-level sales are incredibly volatile relative to the per capita cost of a ...

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May 9th, 2014

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Ellen Page and the relationship of Hollywood to its romantic leads

I assume that coming out is getting easier as more people do it, but Ellen Page emphasizes that it is still hard and it still has a big, negative impact on one’s career:

Page has made just two public appearances since her announcement — presenting an award to transgender Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox at the GLAAD Media Awards on April 12 and introducing an X-Men clip at the MTV Movie Awards the following night. Shooting a ...

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May 9th, 2014

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Comic books with super heroes continue to fade but not die

Comic books with superheroes, as a genre, peaked in the 1940s and have since declined. When I was a kid in the 1970s, comic books were very uncool (you did not want other kids at school knowing that you read them) but you could still get them at any convenience or bookstore that sold magazines. This was an era when Marvel comics cut the writers and artists in on a percentage, and so John Bryne and Chris Claremont got fairly ...

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May 8th, 2014

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Why Facebook will fail

Facebook is very young to find itself in the position where it has to buy innovation from the outside (Instagram, Occulus VR). It fails to deliver the key parts of its own ad infrastructure. It is behaving like an old behemoth that has lost touch with the market, like IBM in 1991, or Sun MicroSystems in 2007. And yet, its CEO is young, and the company is young, so what is the problem? How could it lose touch with ...

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May 8th, 2014

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Can programmers indulge anarchy?

Interesting:

When does it work well?

It works well when the manager is absent or fully trusting the team. One of the main selling point of Fred Anarchy was the lack of managers in the picture. Well, some sort of business owner, idea creator still needs to be present. That person needs to fully trust the team, ideally needs to be an ex-developer. I never seen in my life a manager without a past in developing software that can trust and understand ...

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May 8th, 2014

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The end of Twitter

Interesting:

The publishing platform that carried us into the mobile Internet age is receding. Its influence on publishing will remain, but the platform’s place in Internet culture is changing in a way that feels irreversible and echoes the tradition of AIM and pre-2005 blogging. A lot of this argument comes down to what we feel. Communities can’t be fully measured by how many people are in them. So as we suss out cultural changes, relying on first-hand experience is a first ...

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May 4th, 2014

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Mainstream economics needs an overhaul?

I am surprised that there is no mention of agent-based simulations. That, in my mind, is the big transition that we now face.

Common reform themes

Common themes in the debate at that earlier stage were the need for students to have:

More exposure to economic history and the history of thought;

More practical hands-on experience with data;

Better teaching of communication skills; and

Some exposure to new developments in economic research.

Overall the thrust was for a less narrow and reductive approach to economics than ...

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May 4th, 2014

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Is it bad for an online writer to know how much traffic their posts get?

Interesting:

What’s more, The Verge is not alone in this practice. Re/code, a tech site run by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, the longtime Wall Street Journal tech columnist, also won’t share traffic stats with writers. MIT Technology Review holds numbers back too.

“We used to show the writers and editors traffic, and told them to grow it; but it had the wrong effect. So we stopped,“ says Jason Pontin, CEO, editor in chief and publisher of MIT Technology Review. ”The ...

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May 3rd, 2014

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Site promotes computer programming and stripping?

Disturbing:

At a time when Silicon Valley is facing increasing scrutiny over the treatment of women in technology, there emerges a website called Codebabes.com that, as you may have already heard, involves women stripping as you learn to code and pass online tests. Seriously.

People have tried it and posted their results.

To which I have to say only this: What in the actual f@ck?

The site is so over-the-top about its soft-core “edu-tainment” offerings that some press outlets have even speculated that ...

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May 2nd, 2014

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Teens are going crazy for the Snapchat upgrade

This is why you should not spend money on marketing: all of your money should go to improving the product till it reaches the point that your customers are in love with you. The overwhelming majority of money spent on marketing is wasted. The money would be better spent making your product better. The response that Snapchat got is the response every company should strive for.

The level of interest app-makers can command for adding new features is usually limited ...

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April 25th, 2014

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Does anyone know what is happening with Corrante?

The Corrante site is mostly dead, and has been dead since 2007, and yet a small part of the site is still active.

Of the first 3 links, 2 go to blank white screens. The URLs seem to suggest the posts are from 2006 and 2007. For instance:

http://totalexperience.corante.com/archives/2007/04/04/disrobing_the_emperor_the_online_user_experience_isnt_much_of_one.php

I see a blank white page, and the URL suggests that the article is from 2007. The blog actually died in 2010:

http://totalexperience.corante.com/

This link is alive, but it goes to 2007:

http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2007/07/10/travels_in_numerica_deserta.php

and yet this an ...

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April 25th, 2014

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Nokia ends an era

Sad, and like the end of any large firm, very confusing. Why were they unable compete with Apple? Why did they do so well for so long, and then suddenly they could not?

On April 25, that Nokia ceases to exist, and in its place are two companies that officially have nothing to do with each other: Microsoft Mobile Oy (where the heart of the company will go) and Nokia Oyj (where I will be).

Tomorrow I will still be an employee ...

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April 21st, 2014

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The meta view on underinvestment in early stage female-lead startups

Interesting:

There’s a vast amount of value waiting to be unlocked in Silicon Valley, and it’s not hiding under the Tahoe hills in veins of silver like the Comstock lode. Today’s new billions are no longer dug out of the ground, they’re realized by viewing the world in a different way; seeing things differently to other people and capitalizing on opportunity by investing ahead of the curve. That’s how money is made in Silicon Valley. Strange, then, in a world ...

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April 21st, 2014

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Free markets, with a gun to your head

Despite considerable rhetoric about “free markets” the USA tends to allow anti-competitive combinations of corporations, while taking violent action against any combination of workers.

The miners at first thought the Guard was sent to protect them, and greeted its arrival with flags and cheers. They soon found out the Guard was there to destroy the strike. The Guard brought strikebreakers in under cover of night, not telling them there was a strike. Guardsmen beat miners, arrested them by the hundreds, ...

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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?

Source

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.

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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

In Business, Technology

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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?

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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.

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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.

Source

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

In Business

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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.

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September 20th, 2013

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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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September 19th, 2013

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The Great Stagnation deepens

Even the 95th percentile is now seeing stagnation:

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September 19th, 2013

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The Fed exists to protect big banks from the free market

This sounds controversial, but it is not:

The Fed exists to protect big banks from the free market

Indeed, that is why the Fed was created. Banks can not be exposed to the free market, because a bank run can destroy the entire economy.

This is a bit more controversial:

The Fed exists to protect big banks from the free market, at your expense.

Who pays for the bailouts has changed over the decades, and who pays depends on how progressive or reactionary ...

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September 18th, 2013

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Lack of health insurance leads to terrible injustices

This is tragic to hear about:

Boston bombing victims kicked off insurance after charity payout

This entire artic

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September 18th, 2013

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The Euro zone is badly managed

This is very well said:

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has been vindicated. For my part, I have been wrong about everything. German discipline policies for the eurozone have been a tremendous success. I am ashamed for suggesting otherwise. As the wise, patient, and always self-effacing Mr Schäuble writes today in The Financial Times, the Euro-sceptics talk and write relentless drivel. “Ignore the doomsayers: Europe is being fixed” is the headline: The eurozone is clearly on the mend both structurally and cyclically. What is happening ...

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September 18th, 2013

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Profesors are poor and mistreated

Very sad:

For a proud professional like Margaret Mary, this was the last straw; she was mortified. She begged me to call Adult Protective Services and tell them to leave her alone, that she could take care of herself and did not need their help. I agreed to. Sadly, a couple of hours later, she was found on her front lawn, unconscious from a heart attack. She never regained consciousness.

Meanwhile, I called Adult Protective Services right after talking to Margaret Mary, ...

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September 12th, 2013

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The revival of capital since 1945

People work hard and save. They hope to get a small piece of property somewhere, or perhaps a lot of property. They pass this property along to their children. The process continues for centuries. Because of this, the last 2 or 3 centuries has seen an increase in the amount of property in the world.

That much makes sense.

What makes less sense is why the ratio of capital to income would change, or why capital values would increase over income. What ...

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September 5th, 2013

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Why women make great leaders

Interesting:

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September 4th, 2013

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The economic threat of automation, as seen in the 1960s

Interesting:

Surprisingly few people have grasped this process as well as Joyce did. Aristotle pointed out that if the looms wove and the lyres played themselves, we’d need fewer people to do these things. The Luddites, active in 19th-century England, didn’t take the mechanization of textile making lying down. And in 1930, no less an economic sage than John Maynard Keynes fretted about temporary “technological unemployment,” which he feared would grow faster than the number of jobs created by new technologies.

More ...

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September 1st, 2013

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Perverse incentives

Interesting:

One thing I like about this policy is it removes all kinds of perverse incentives which currently exist.

Some (true) personal examples: a friend of mine is moderately disabled and lives with his elderly parents. He wants (and they desperately want for him) to be able to live independently in a small apartment so that he can develop coping skills which will serve him when they are no longer around. His parents have the means to help him buy an apartment, ...

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August 29th, 2013

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There is no way to measure the productivity of a computer programmer

Interesting:

Another approach that’s often talked about for measuring output is Function Points. I have a little more sympathy for them, but am still unconvinced. This hasn’t been helped by stories I’ve heard of that talk about a single system getting counts that varied by a factor of three from different function point counters using the same system.

Even if we did find an accurate way for function points to determine functionality, I still think we are missing the point of productivity. ...

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August 24th, 2013

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Karoshi for American interns

Interesting:

They say Moritz Erhardt was caught up in what the banking industry calls a “magic roundabout,” in which a taxi drives you home after a 24-hour shift, waits outside while you shower and change, then drives you right back for another daylong stint at the office.

After three days of endless work and six weeks of sometimes 100-hour-or-more work weeks, the 21-year-old German exchange student working a summer gig at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London collapsed and died in ...

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August 24th, 2013

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Why Aren’t There More Women Programmers

Interesting:

When we feel like we’re good at something, that’s when we can really learn it, sink our teeth in and love it and do it until we’re experts.

It is a great motivator, this feeling of confidence. This belief that we can accomplish what we want to do is called self-efficacy. There are four sources of self-efficacy at a particular task (in order of strength):[1] doing it seeing people like me do it social persuasion your body Why aren’t there more women programmers? Because many women ...

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August 24th, 2013

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Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?

Interesting:

There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes, that prevents women from accessing the ranks of power. Conservatives and chauvinists tend to endorse the first; liberals and feminists prefer the third; and those somewhere in the middle are usually drawn to the second. ...

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August 24th, 2013

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Racism is a system, even in Silicon Valley

Interesting:

In a feature for The Magazine, Mr. Bouie examined why the mastheads of tech blogs like The Next Web, The Verge, Engadget and Gizmodo were overwhelmingly white and male. Rather than “overt racism,” he found a prohibitive combination of dependence on unpaid internships–and the network effect of a wired boys club whose members sometimes seem to be talking solely for each other’s benefit.

Technology has become just as pervasive as the Valley had always hoped, Mr. Bouie noted:

Gadgets are used by ...

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August 24th, 2013

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Users should be able to delete their accounts

A good reminder to me about the importance of users being able to delete their accounts:

After seeing a few tweets about how difficult it can be to delete your Skype account and then hearing that Netflix flat-out won’t delete your details I decided to build JustDelete.me.

JustDelete.Me is a directory of urls to delete your account from web services. (Yes, I am aware how terrible that description is. If you’ve got a better one, let me know). Services are marked either ...

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August 24th, 2013

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Why does Hollywood survive?

Interesting:

A while back you might have read Y-Combinator’s Paul Grahm calling for entrepreneurs to “Kill Hollywood,” soliciting ideas on how to eat the film industry’s lunch. Coming out following the backlash against the MPAA led bid to pass SOPA, it was a novel war cry but I believe inherently misguided. The arrogance in which the call and the approval that flowed from it through the Hacker News community made pretty clear a fundamental lack of understanding as to what game ...

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August 16th, 2013

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The cult of the MBA

Interesting:

It boggles my mind, given the big money involved, why so many people continue to bet huge sums of cash on the proven short-term penny-wise/pound-foolish idiocy of MBA-think. I mean sure– if your company is under cash flow pressure you have to pinch pennies. You have no choice. Spreadsheet says so, and spreadsheet’s the boss. But if you’re not, you should be investing and thinking long term cause the other guys probably aren’t. I’ve seen a related phenomenon in the startup world. ...

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August 5th, 2013

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A startup builds a new building and then dies

Interesting:

Designing the Perfect Building

Once the commitment to fix everything wrong was in place, we were off and running on the design phase. We hired an interior designer and a great facilities person to manage the process. The exec staff started meeting about the design of the new building.

The staff weighed in on what color the carpet and walls would be. And there was a lot of discussion on what style of furniture was appropriate.

Our exec staff spent time worrying about ...

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