“links” Category

A Most Interesting NYT Article

In Colorado, voters defeated a measure to raise taxes in order to increase education spending. Here’s how the New York Times characterize the vote:

Had the referendum passed, the current flat state income tax rate of 4.6 percent would have been replaced with a two-tier system. Residents with taxable incomes below $75,000 would have paid 5 percent; taxable incomes above $75,000 would have been taxed at 5.9 percent. The measure would have poured money into poor, rural school districts, expanded preschool, bought new technology and encouraged local innovations like longer school days and school years, supporters said.

But the promise of higher teacher salaries and full-day kindergarten failed to resonate with voters, even in many reliably blue corners of the state and areas where the money would have had the greatest benefit. The state voted 65 percent to 35 percent against the overhaul, known as Amendment 66.

“It was a statement of a loss of faith in government,” said State Senator Mike Johnston, a Democrat and architect of the measure. “The reality may just be that Coloradans just deeply prize being a very low-tax state.”

“…Where the money would have had the greatest benefit.” This is ostensibly a news article about the measure, but it presumes something that isn’t at all a fact. Whether increasing funding would be beneficial is a contention, something that must be supported by a logical argument and evidence. It has no place in being a description of the events. There’s an importance difference between “[where funding] would have had the greatest benefit” and “where much of the funding would have went.”

That’s a subtle framing of the issue that guides readers to a conclusion that isn’t overtly stated by the article’s author, Jack Healy, and for which no evidence is provided.

Which is problematic, especially, because one voter quoted in the article contradicts that entire reasoning for why the measure was rejected, starting with the presumption that increased funding would necessarily benefit their communities:

Erin DeMarco, a political science student at the University of Colorado Boulder, was one of the voters Amendment 66 supporters needed to win over. A registered Democrat who voted for Mr. Hickenlooper and Mr. Obama, she said she wanted to see better schools, but balked when she saw the size of the tax increase.

“I felt a little guilty when I voted against it,” she said. “It tugged at my heartstrings. I just don’t always believe that money solves problems. It’s difficult for me to write a blank check to the government.”

“I just don’t always believe that money solves problems.” That’s a reason for voting against the measure that Healy’s “…where the money would have the greatest benefit” off-handed statement of fact rules out as a reason for why voters rejected it: if the increased funding necessarily benefits the communities, then voting against it because you don’t think increasing spending will solve problems by it’s very nature is not possible.

Words do indeed have meaning, and whether intentional or careless (or just an unintentional reveal of the author’s own viewpoint), his choice of them framed the issue to make one argument for why voters rejected the measure appear more reasonable.

November 7th, 2013

Meet Techi: All the the tech news in ONE place (Sponsor)

My thanks to Techmi.com for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.

Techi.com is a site dedicated to all things tech. From updates on Sony’s PS4 to reports on Google’s latest acquisition; whether you’re looking for the latest Apple product or looking for views on mobile web, Techi is the site to visit.

Techi.com’s news is sourced from thousands of sites from across the Internet, then curated by an editorial team with their finger constantly on the pulse of the industry’s most vital developments. You also get a quick summary of the news so you save time and read only what interests you most.

In addition to the best news curated from across the Web, Techi.com also offers exclusive original articles and stories featured in the Drudge Report, Reddit, NYTimes, Google news, and many more.

You don’t even have to visit daily. Just sign up for the daily newsletter and get the latest tech news direct to your inbox—with no fuss whatsoever—in time for that commute or mid-day coffee.

Don’t spend your morning sifting through RSS feeds looking for the hot news. Go for the instant solution: get it all from Techi.com in less time than it takes to make your coffee.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

November 4th, 2013

Anki Drive Is Racing Google, Not Other Toy Makers

Austin Carr on Anki Drive’s greater ambitions:

Today, Anki launched Drive to the world, and, even as a stepping stone, it’s an incredibly compelling product. Users can pit their cars against their AI-powered counterparts, zooming around a track and competing in a variety of scenarios–races, battles, and so forth–while using the iPhone as a steering wheel and control center. Sofman and team like to call it “the first video game in the real world.” But the larger promise of Anki is the underlying technology it’s inventing in the process, which could make the startup competitive in a whole host of industries. “This is a way to zigzag through a lot of really compelling products to get to the Holy Grails: full-blown autonomous driving, having [robotic] helpers around the house, health-care applications,” Sofman beams.

Well, that helps explain why Apple allowed Anki to introduce themselves on the center stage. That’s potentially very exciting.

October 22nd, 2013

Markets and Health Care

Ezra Klein argues that consumers restrain costs for consumer goods by being able to “say no”—that is, they can refuse to purchase, say, a television from Sony if they charge too much. Klein continues that because for health care consumers cannot “say no,” market forces cannot restrain health costs. But government can, Klein says, and that’s ACA’s intent.

Reihan Salam responds:

But surely the cost of televisions (and most other things, including many necessities) is kept relatively low not because people can do without them but because people have a huge range of options in a very competitive market. Sony can’t charge you too much because you’ll just buy a television made by someone else. Health insurance (let alone care) can’t always be treated like that kind of commodity in every respect, of course, but I think (as conservatives tend to) that they can be to a far greater extent than most people on the left seem to believe.

October 22nd, 2013

Where Are Health Costs Headed?

Yuval Levin summarizes recent reports from the CBO and HHS actuaries on what they expect health costs to head over the next few decades:

They suggest that the slowdown in health inflation we have seen over the past decade is likely at an end, that Obamacare will not be bending the cost curve downward (as its champions promised it could), and that we are in dire need of health-care and entitlement reform that could better help contain costs. They also help us see just how daunting a challenge that really is.

The “Affordable Care Act” makes our health cost problem—already a disaster—worse, not better.

October 22nd, 2013

Tonx Coffee (Sponsor)

My thanks to Tonx for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed. Tonx is special because not only is their coffee excellent, and not only do they ship new varietals each period, but you don’t have to worry about picking up more whenever you’re about to run out—it just shows up. Whether you’re just starting with coffee or already grind fresh coffee beans in your burr grinder each morning for your Chemex, Tonx is awesome.

Tonx is a small team of coffee experts who believe it’s easy to make a better cup in your kitchen than you’ll get at the best cafes – and for a fraction of the cost. By sourcing the finest coffees in the world and roasting them 24-hours before shipping, you’ll have the freshest coffee delivered straight to your door. And for a limited time, get a free trial to taste for yourself.

Also, Tonx is pleased to introduce The Frequency, an email newsletter packed with coffee secrets, brew tips, and special limited offers, exclusively for Tonx members.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

October 22nd, 2013

Policy and the G.O.P. Civil War

Ross Douthat on the Tea Party:

Yet at the same time, to the extent that policy differences are driving the current intra-G.O.P. fight, the populists tend to have 1) decent ideas and 2) a better sense than their establishment rivals of how to brand the party as something other than just a tool of rich people and business interests. Their strategy is disastrous, but their substance has something to recommend it. Which is part of the reason why it isn’t enough, for the Republicans to escape their current cul-de-sac, for the party leadership to “win” and the populist base to “lose” — let alone for the leadership to somehow jettison the base.

That’s the GOP’s conundrum: the Tea Party in the House is doing terrible things to the party, but there are the seeds for positive—even transformative—change of the GOP in the Tea Party with good leadership.

October 15th, 2013

Squarespace (Sponsor)

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed. If you’ve been itching to start writing online, it’s a great way to do it.

What do you want people to see when they find you online?

Whether you’re growing a business, starting a blog, or are ready to sell online, you need to make a great impression. Squarespace is the best way to create a modern and professional website, with all the features you need integrated into one platform. Every Squarespace website is mobile-ready, includes e-commerce, and is backed up by award-winning 24/7 customer service.

Try Squarespace today at squarespace.com.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

October 15th, 2013

MailChimp (Sponsor)

My thanks to MailChimp for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.

The new generation of MailChimp adapts to your workflow, regardless of the device you’re using and size of your team. A cohesive experience across desktop and mobile devices means you can create, send, and track email campaigns in any context.

Check out MailChimp today.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

October 8th, 2013

The Theme Foundry (Sponsor)

My thanks to Theme Foundry for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.

The Theme Foundry has been building premium WordPress themes since 2008. They recently released Collections — a unique and beautiful WordPress theme for sharing, designed by Veerle Pieters. Visit the live demo of Collections to see it in action, or purchase it now for $79.

What makes The Theme Foundry special?

  • A focus on quality over quantity. You won’t find a huge assortment on their site — they keep a small, curated collection of premium WordPress themes.
  • Exclusive partner with WordPress.com (the official hosted WordPress provider). Each and every theme goes through a stringent audit process from some of the best WordPress coders in the world.
  • Whole team support. You get fast and friendly support from the team that actually built your theme, not a part time support rep.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

October 1st, 2013

Igloo (Sponsor)

My thanks to Igloo for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.

Stop waiting for your IT department to move off SharePoint and start using an intranet you’ll actually like. Igloo is free to use with your team, it’s built around easy to use apps like blogging and file sharing, and it has social tools built right in to help you get work done.

It works on your desktop, your tablet and your phone. Inside or outside of your office. With your team or with your customers. Igloo is 100% white label, so you can make it look like your brand (with your developers or our in-house design and services team).

And if you’re in San Francisco, come learn how a social intranet can help your business succeed. Hear real world examples from our customers, technologists, and writers from Forbes and The Huffington Post. Our Social Intranet Tour hits San Francisco on October 15. We hope to see you there.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

September 23rd, 2013

Apple’s Best, Apple’s Worst

This section from USA Today’s interview with Craig Federighi and Jonathan Ive highlights what makes Apple an exceptional company, and also their greatest weakness:

“This right here is what I love about Apple, this incredibly sophisticated powerful technology that you’re almost not aware of, it absolutely blows me away,” he says. “You can’t get this without working cross-functionally.”

Federighi is quick to admit that any engineer tasked with such a challenge would be sure to call attention to his brilliant work. “You know, you’re going to have some big message saying ‘Scanning!’ and buzz-buzz-zzz-zzz later it says ‘Authenticated,’ blink-blink-blink, with 10 seconds of animation,” he says, as Ive starts laughing.

“Ultimately we realized all that had to disappear,” says Federighi. “If it disappears, we know we’ve done it.”

That’s absolutely what is special about Apple, the focus on using technology in truly meaningful ways rather than to pad specification lists. But Apple’s talent for doing so with hardware and hardware and software hasn’t really extended into web services.

I’m not sure why that is. It could be that while Apple culturally believes in good design and integrating hardware and software, since those values have been with Apple since the very beginning, building terrific web services has never been something they’ve truly believed in as a company. I wonder, then, whether a part of Tim Cook’s management re-organization (which this USA Today piece seems to be meant to show the results of) is building that cultural focus and appreciation for web services.

September 19th, 2013

Basil 2.0

Today, Apple released iOS 7—the most substantial update to iOS 7 since the App Store was introduced in 2008. With it, I am introducing a new version of Basil that is, yes, re-designed for iOS 7, but more importantly is a re-thinking of how key parts of the application work. I think it’s both simpler and more powerful. I’m very proud of it.

you can read more about it on the Basil weblog, or go and get it on the App Store.

I hope you all love it. It’s a privilege to work on an application so many people find useful.

September 18th, 2013

What Designers Say About Life at Booking.com (Sponsor)

My thanks to Booking.com for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.

Forgive the cliche, but coming to work for Booking.com has been one of the best decisions. Within a week of arriving to the Netherlands, I had already created two UI experiments and pushed code to the live site. It was intimidating and thrilling at the same time. Those feelings haven’t left. I’m constantly humbled by the more than 300 super intelligent colleagues of 51+ nationalities! I learn every day. If there’s a day I don’t? It means I wasn’t in the office.

The warmth and acceptance of new hires is brilliant. I was invited for chess, football, drinks, and even knitting, within a fortnight. Friday after work drinks can easily evolve into an adventure anytime. There’s always something to do in this city. And at Booking.com, there’s always someone who’s willing to join in. The many parties are just something that has to be experienced. Come join and I’ll show you around!

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

September 18th, 2013

Touch ID and Accessibility

Steven Aquino:

My idea here is not so much of convenience (which is nice) but rather of usability. I know many folks with vision-and motor-related issues who bemoan iOS’s passcode prompt because not only does it take time, but also entering in said code isn’t necessarily an easy task. In fact, more than a few lament this so often that they forego a passcode altogether because it’s time-consuming and a pain (sometimes literally) to enter.

September 11th, 2013