“links” Category

Fail Fast

Evan Williams on “failing fast”:

I worry about the mantra of “fail fast.” I think there’s too much churn through ideas by entrepreneurs who are just looking for a hit instead of following a vision or trying to solve an important problem they’re passionate about. It’s good to fail fast on approaches or implementation but solving hard problems and creating really revolutionary things takes a long time, and they’re usually rejected by the market at first.

Interesting point. Distinguish between the failure of an implementation and the failure of the vision itself.

August 17th, 2012

No Swipe Fees on Square

Square announced Thursday that merchants now have the option to forego transaction fees:

On Thursday, Square, the pioneer in mobile point of sale systems, announced a new pricing model that gives merchants the option to pay a monthly fee of $275 instead of the current 2.75% fee on every transaction. Merchants who make more than $10,000 per month in business would pay less under the new pricing plan.

Make the service cheaper to expand its reach. Square wants to be everywhere.

August 17th, 2012

Don’t Panic

Tapbots doesn’t think Twitter’s changes will affect Tweetbot in a negative way.

Good news, but it’s still very clear that Twitter’s trying to eliminate third-party clients. Whatever their motivation, they’re eroding the very reason we all use and love Twitter.

August 17th, 2012

That Formula Doesn’t Work

Jim Dalrymple on John Browett’s attempt to reduce costs in Apple’s retail operation:

It seems to me that Browett is trying to make Apple retail just like every other retail store on the planet. A few employees trying to satisfy an ever growing consumer base. That formula doesn’t work. It may save a few dollars in the short term and Browett may look like a hero on paper, but in reality the whole company would suffer the consequences.

Bizarre story. Apple has apparently reversed all of Browett’s decisions, which makes me wonder several things. First, why was he hired at all? Second, why was he allowed to make this decision in the first place?

August 16th, 2012

Boom [Sponsor]

Thanks to Boom for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed. Boom looks worth the $6.99 for a system-wide equalizer alone.

Boom is a volume booster app for your Mac.

It increases the system audio volume to produce better-quality audio from the built-in speakers. The system-wide graphic equalizer can further enhance your Mac’s audio quality.

Boom won the Macworld Best of Show award for its simplicity, elegancy and well-crafted user interface. It is priced at $6.99 and can be purchased from the Global Delight Online Store or through the Mac App Store. There’s also a free 7-day trial.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

August 13th, 2012

Bumps in the Road

Chris Bowler:

If there’s one thing the last two versions of OS X, Lion and Mountain Lion, have shown us, it’s that the iOS-ification of a desktop operating system comes with a few bumps along the road.

We’re in a weird place right now where the Mac is in the middle of two file paradigms. iCloud promises that we’ll never need to think about where a file is again, but the regular old file system is still right there for us to use. Moreover, iCloud doesn’t yet map perfectly to what we’re used to on the Mac; since files are tied to applications when using iCloud, there’s no easy way to work on one file with multiple applications.

Growing pains.

August 11th, 2012

Beck’s Next Album: Sheet Music

Beck is releasing his next album in sheet music.

They’ll be featuring versions of the album by different musicians. Sort of neat, but he better release his own version, too.

August 10th, 2012

Sick of Dealing With the Crazies

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie let loose on anti-Muslim bigots within the Republican party when questioned about his appointment of a Muslim judge:

But it was a follow-up question on the fear of Sharia Law that set the governor off. “Sharia Law has nothing to do with this at all, it’s crazy!” he cried. “The guy is an American citizen!” He concluded that the “Sharia Law business is just crap… and I’m tried [sic] of dealing with the crazies,” adding with disgust and frustration that “it’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background.”

Watch the video if you have a moment. Good for Christie for doing something many people in the GOP have been too scared to do: call out the latent bigotry against Muslims among Republicans. It’s bullshit, and many officials in the party are too scared to say anything about it for fear of losing support of racist voters. Christie isn’t.

August 10th, 2012

Daniel Delaney’s Brisketlab

Daniel Delaney started Brisketlab in New York City, a pop-up event where he makes—you guessed it—brisket. People pre-order it, he makes it, they eat it. Simple, but also really cool. Here’s how \Matt Falkowitz describes it:

His events this summer, which are all sold-out, have been about developing and refining his smoking technique, and getting feedback from eaters along the way. “We want to be very transparent, which is something a lot of restaurants don’t do.” Every Brisketlab so far—there have been about fifteen—has seen tweaks and adjustments to the smoking process, based heavily on customer feedback. Delaney doesn’t claim to be an expert pitmaster; he humbly admits to just being a guy who fell in love with barbecue and is learning every step of the way.

Besides that it looks like very well smoked brisket, which is one of the things I love most, I love that there’s people like Delaney working to make really, really good food with no pretense or pomp or other nonsense. Just good food. And I also love that such a small operation can succeed so wildly. Awesome to see.

Also good to see New York getting some real barbecue.

August 9th, 2012

Google’s New Voice Search App for iOS

Google just announced an updated Voice Search app for iOS, and the update looks excellent. In many ways, it’s superior to Siri.

Interesting, though, how much it resembles Siri. The app’s name used to be descriptive—it was voice search. Now it’s very much a personal assistant. Google is taking Siri quite seriously it seems, and they’re doing a very good job responding.

August 8th, 2012

Debts to Societies

Jason Brennan argues that President Obama’s reasoning for why people should pay higher taxes is specious:

Suppose I were to buy a loaf of bread. If I trace the history of that bread, Leonard Read “I, Pencil”-style, I’ll find that in producing the bread, a wide range of governmental services were used. These services come from local, state-wide, and federal governments, both domestic and foreign. It would be bizarre, then, to assume that in buying the loaf of bread, I acquire some special debt to the US Federal Government.

Another major error is to assume that people must repay their debts through taxes. I don’t know what Thomas Edison paid in taxes. But I can safely assume that he did more to repay his “debt to society” through his inventions than by paying taxes. A similar point will apply more weakly to many of the rest of us.

If higher tax rates on larger incomes are needed, fine, let’s raise them. Show why that’s necessary, show why it’s the best way to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish. I agree, actually, that we should increase taxes on people with higher incomes. Looking at the train wreck our budget is headed toward, I don’t think there’s any other way to solve it without making absolutely devastating cuts to entitlements and defense. But higher taxes must be a part of a larger plan that does put entitlement and defense spending on a sustainable path (which means some cuts!), rather than as an individual piece which does nothing to solve the underlying problem.

Obama said:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

In other words, you’re not as special as you think, and all those other people are much, much more responsible for your success than you think. That’s a lovely argument for higher tax rates, because the argument provides no means of deciding what is and isn’t a just tax rate. Is 10% fair? Obama can’t tell you. 30%? Beats him. 90%? Hell if he knows. All he can say is you didn’t do it yourself, so don’t complain when they raise the tax rate.

Of course no one is literally responsible for every single ounce of their success. No great novelist invented the paper they wrote on, the pen they wrote with, the language they wrote in, or even the stories themselves. Their work is built on top of past work. But that places no duty on them to pay those past giants for their contribution to their success, because they didn’t invent the pen (or manufacture it, for that matter!) so this great novelist could write their novel, nor did they do so with an explicit contract with this novelist. They did so for their own reasons. Demanding compensation after the fact is what’s immoral.

In the same way, yes, of course businesses benefit from government services. Roads tend to be quite useful, education too, the rule of law is a magnificent thing, and that says nothing about the physical security government provides. All incredibly helpful for businesses and successful individuals! But government provided those services for the tax revenue they already required, not for after-the-fact higher rates, and the reason they provided it was for the good of society. There’s no moral claim whatever that can be made by the government for people’s income based on services provided by the government.

If we grant this argument—that we pay taxes because our success means we have a moral duty to pay taxes, whatever the rate may be—we are all dependent on the government’s services, and thus all our income is rightly the government’s. It is only through the government’s benevolent, altruistic nature we are allowed to keep what portion we do, so be happy with it—because you only earned some unnamed portion of it anyway. We—and by we, I mean we—object to that because intuitively we know that isn’t the case. Whether someone’s success is built on other people’s work or not, they deserve their success. No one else can arbitrarily claim moral right to it.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that we shouldn’t pay taxes. It doesn’t even mean that we shouldn’t increase tax rates! It means that justifying tax increases based on a moral necessity is ridiculous. If higher tax rates are necessary and the wealthy are the ones most able to bear the brunt of it, just say so. There’s nothing wrong with that statement.

August 8th, 2012

Cyborg Transhumanism

From Ben Hopper’s Ben Hopper’s excellent piece on “grinders,” or people interested in extending their body’s senses and capabilities through technology:

The boys from Grindhouse Wetwares both sucked down Parliament menthols the whole time we talked. There was no irony for them in dreaming of the possibilities for one’s body and willfully destroying it. “For me, the end game is my brain and spinal column in a jar, and a robot body out in the world doing my bidding,” said Sarver “I would really prefer not to have to rely on a inefficient four valve pump that sends liquid through these fragile hoses. Fuck cheetahs. I want to punch through walls.”

Flesh and blood are easily shed in grinder circles, at least theoretically speaking. “People recoil from the idea of tampering inside the body,” said Tim. “I am lost when it comes to people’s unhealthy connections to your body. This is just a decaying lump of flesh that gets old, it’s leaking fluid all the time, it’s obscene to think this is me. I am my ideas and the sum of my experiences.” As far as the biohackers are concerned, we are the best argument against intelligent design.

Fascinating piece, but the sentiment above is precisely why I’ve never felt comfortable with transhumanism. “We” aren’t simply our minds. Who we are is defined just as much by our physical bodies and what we are capable of, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Trying to change what our bodies are capable of, or leaving them behind altogether, also fundamentally changes what and who we are. You don’t get to control a robotic avatar that can punch through walls without changing.

August 8th, 2012

Telling a Story With Each Link

Marcelo Somers:

Our job as independent writers isn’t to be first or even to get the most pageviews. It’s to answer the question of “so what?”. Taken as a whole, our sites should tell a unique story that no one else can, with storylines that develop over time that help bring order to the chaos of what we cover.

Absolutely agree. I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with link-lists (the number of links I post should make that obvious), but each link has to be deliberate. It must serve a purpose. There’s no reason to link to something unless it’s something readers probably haven’t come across already or you can provide a unique perspective on it. Only link to something when you’re adding some value.

August 8th, 2012

Starbucks Joins Square

Big news for Square: Square will process all U.S. credit and debit card transactions for Starbucks.

I wonder if this also means that customers will be able to use Pay with Square at Starbucks. It’s big enough for Square that they’ll be processing all of their sales, but it’d be a huge deal if Starbucks worked with Pay With Square, too. I’m assuming that’s not a part of it, though, since it requires Square’s software.

UPDATE: The Next Web’s Josh Ong reports that Pay with Square will indeed work at Starbucks. What a coup by Square.

UPDATE (10:40 AM): Dan Frommer says that while Pay with Square will work, it’s going to use a Square barcode. No paying by name yet.

August 7th, 2012

Dear Mark Zuckerberg

Within an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg addressing how Facebook attempted to intimidate his company, Dalton Caldwell wrote this:

I believe that future social platforms will behave more like infrastructure, and less like media companies. I believe that a number of smaller, interoperable social platforms with a clear, sustainable business models will usurp you. These future companies will be valued at a small fraction of what Facebook and Twitter currently are. I think that is OK. Platforms are judged by the value generated by their ecosystem, not by the value the platforms directly capture.

Couldn’t agree more.

August 6th, 2012