To use Square Cash, all you do is compose an email to a friend, type the amount you way to pay in the subject title, and cc email@example.com. If it’s your first time using the service, you’re directed to Square’s website where you type in your debit card number — and you’re done. There are no accounts to create, apps to download, friends to add, surcharges to pay, or bank account numbers to look up.
I wish this was available in France. It would free my group of friends from recurring problems and discussions about money.
There are a couple of significant downsides that temper my enthusiasm for the new Gear. First and foremost is the speed and intuitiveness of the user interface — or rather, the lack thereof. There’s a tangible lag to anything you do with the Gear, while the swipe gestures are hard to figure out and do different things depending on where you are in the menus.
Add to that a bad speaker, short battery life and a price at $299, what’s incredibly great?
I get that it’s the first release and that it is going to get better over time, but it certainly looks like something rushed out in case Apple comes out with a watch too.
The NT Times has gathered many bits of information about Jeff Bezos, Amazon and what Bezos might do with The Washington Post. Among very interesting bits about his personality, testimonies from early employees, there is a description of Amazon’s current business model. Nothing new really, but a good reminder that Amazon’s goal is not profitability for the moment:
Though indisputably one of the great marvels of the age, Amazon is a curious beast that offers few obvious lessons for how a newspaper like The Post might become profitable. Financial writers have noted that Apple makes more than twice as much money in a quarter than Amazon earned during the last decade. Last quarter, Amazon had a net loss of $7 million. But Wall Street loves Amazon anyway, despite its slim margins.
Amazon tends to give its profits directly to its customers. It sells to them at a discount, will often ship free and, if a customer wants to return an item, will refund the money before even receiving the return.
Sometimes it will even do more. Say you buy a book, and then decide it’s not for you. You tell Amazon you are returning it. You might get a message like this: “Keep this item and receive a refund! It’s on us!”
That’s a sure way to win friends and lose money. But Wall Street believes that the company will someday monetize tens of millions of customers — in other words, make a real profit each time it sells them something. Maybe next year. Or the year after. From the very beginning, Mr. Bezos has made Amazon an investment story about the company’s potential rather than its reality.
Steve Wozniack actually commented on Gizmodo’s ‘Jobs’ review. His comment has been republished by the site as an article:
I saw Jobs tonight. I thought the acting throughout was good. I was attentive and entertained but not greatly enough to recommend the movie. One friend who is in the movie said he didn’t want to watch fiction so he wasn’t interested in seeing it.
I suspect a lot of what was wrong with the film came from Ashton’s own image of Jobs. Ashton made some disingenuous and wrong statements about me recently (including my supposedly having said that the ‘movie’ was bad, which was probably Ashton believing pop press headlines) and that I didn’t like the movie because I’m paid to consult on another one. These are examples of Ashton still being in character. Either film would have paid me to consult, but the Jobs one already had a script written. I can’t take that creative leadership from someone else. And I was turned off by the Jobs script. But I still hoped for a great movie.
I still can’t decide if I’ll go or not. The film could be a good entertainment as long as I don’t expect the script to stick to reality.
For The Verge, Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit) visits New York City start-ups. He met in the second episode with RapGenius‘s founders. A 20-minute video well worth watching.
Not a big fan of the founders’ style and attitude though, but I love how simple their idea is and how well it is executed. I use the website daily, not to annotate, but to understand rap lyrics. A true goldmine.
BlackBerry, the embattled Canada-based handset maker, today finally called a spade a spade. The company halted trading in its shares to announce what some might argue was inevitable: the company says it is now exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale or JV or other partnership. A committee chaired by Timothy Dattels and including CEO Thorsten Heins, along with Barbara Stymiest, Richard Lynch and Bert Nordberg, has been formed to look for alternatives.
OpenSignal used its own app (available on iOS and Android) to visually represent Android’s fragmentation:
Fragmentation is both a strength and weakness of the Android ecosystem. When comparisons are made between Android and iOS the issue of different API levels, and the vastly different devices running them, is often emphasised. In this report we examine the extent of Android fragmentation and analyse its impact on both users and developers.
Even though the report is specific to OpenSignal, it gives a good representation of the disparity among Android devices. The number of different versions and screen sizes out in the wild must give headaches to app developers.
Google’s strategy worked. The company has a wide range of devices into consumers’ hands to whom they can show ads to. This is to the detriment of app developers, who have to put in so much work. iOS, on the other hand, makes it so easy to build an app that it makes more sense to go ‘iOS first’.
Elon Musk has made his name on big ideas, whether it’s space tourism or the electric car — but his latest project, mysteriously dubbed the Hyperloop, may be more revolutionary than anything he’s done. It started with a simple promise: the ability to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in half an hour. As time went on, Musk added more. It would be low-friction, and use such minimal power that the entire thing could be run on electricity from solar panels installed above the tracks. It would use small pods, leaving “whenever you arrive” instead of cleaving to a schedule like an airliner.
Nobody really knows how this is going to happen yet, so we’re listening and waiting for more information, but what a futuristic project this is.
The whole video is impressive and worth watching, but what stroke me the most can be found around the 2min20s mark. Just look at Tobey Maguire acting. DiCaprio and him are in a car facing a camera. There’s nothing around them but green screens and Maguire fakes it so well.
Today, we’re thrilled to introduce Video on Instagram and bring you another way to share your stories. When you go to take a photo on Instagram, you’ll now see a movie camera icon. Tap it to enter video mode, where you can take up to fifteen seconds of video through the Instagram camera.
Peter Gelling, for the GlobalPost, as an introduction to his article:
This is satire. Although the news is real, very little actual reporting was done for this story and the quotes are imagined. It is the first installment of an ongoing series that examines the language journalists use to cover foreign countries. What if we wrote that way about the United States?
Brilliant exercise. Very well done. Not sure though what in this story is satire.
The Telegraph reports (from a British perspective):
The reforms are designed to encourage radical consolidation of European mobile network operators. A source familiar with the plans said the European Commission believes there are far too many companies offering services across the 27 member states and that the fragmentation is a barrier to badly-needed investment. Without upgrades, mobile networks will buckle under the pressure of the rapid growth in internet traffic, it is feared.
“There are around 100 operators in Europe and only four in the US,” the source said. “That’s not sustainable if we’re going to have a single market and investment. Europe has less 4G mobile broadband than Africa at the moment.”
“Consolidation is not the aim. The aim is a single market, but if it means we get fewer, stronger operators, that’s good.”
With no roaming fees, officials believe the single market will mean foreign operators will be able to compete for British customers, and vice-versa. They are likely to form airline-style alliances that will lead to mergers, it is hoped.
Note: These propositions from the European Commission are yet to be adopted by the European Parliament and European Council. It’s good news though. Hopefully, it will be adopted in July 2014, as the Commission wishes.
It seemed like a long keynote to me, close to two hours. They showed a lot of stuff.
I was surprised by the Mac Pro sneak peak and the announced release of iOS 7 later this fall. Maybe they did it in the past, but I remember Apple announcing products going for sale in the very near future. Here, they made two major announcements way ahead of release without no precise release dates. I think they’re obviously addressing the recent media’s and Wall Street’s claims about their lack of innovation.
On that note, I loved Schiller’s “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass!”. I guess he is going to take a lot heat for that.
The atmosphere on stage was relieved, very humorous.
This new film is about two old-school salesmen, who find an internship at Google, and battle with young and savvy geniuses to get recruited.
Dieter Bohn for The Verge warns us:
It’s incredibly difficult to watch The Internship as simply a movie and not as a two-hour long recruitment ad designed to congeal the vaguely warm feelings most people harbor for the company into a wet pap of “Googly” propaganda. You can watch The Internship as the classic buddy comedy it tries to be — but you shouldn’t.
SAN FRANCISCO — For the last four months, Chinese hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees.
After surreptitiously tracking the intruders to study their movements and help erect better defenses to block them, The Times and computer security experts have expelled the attackers and kept them from breaking back in.
The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on Oct. 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings.
Security experts hired by The Times to detect and block the computer attacks gathered digital evidence that Chinese hackers, using methods that some consultants have associated with the Chinese military in the past, breached The Times’s network. They broke into the e-mail accounts of its Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who wrote the reports on Mr. Wen’s relatives, and Jim Yardley, The Times’s South Asia bureau chief in India, who previously worked as bureau chief in Beijing.
The whole article is well worth reading. The story is both shocking and intriguing.
There are plenty of details missing. I hope we will know more soon.
Though, something is striking. This is now out. Why? Isn’t it the goal of these attacks to scare future informants?
Why choose to reveal this? Is China the only country guilty of such attacks in general?
What impact has this article on the countries’ relationships, populations?
Brian Lam from The Wirecutter, a website known to point at the best products for consumers to buy:
I don’t mean to be dismissive of Blackberry’s efforts as a company but I know where my loyalties are, and it’s not with android or apple or any company. It boils down to this–I would never ever tell anyone I care about to consider these phones. So, that’s what I think about Blackberry’s new stuff.
Twitter is buying Crashlytics, but will not relocate the team nor will it prevent to serve its current clients.
With Crashlytics and Vine, Twitter is setting a new pattern: Buying startups and leaving them alone to develop products in Twitter’s safe nest.
The model here is Google’s acquisition of Android and YouTube, which it ran for years as standalone divisions.
Twitter’s motives may vary deal by deal. As a Crashlytics customer, it may not have wanted the startup to end up in the hands of hostile rivals like Google or Facebook, who surely wouldn’t mind learning about the ins and outs of Twitter’s mobile-app code.
Vine, on the other hand, seems to have simply charmed Twitter’s leaders with the premise of a new art form, a video version of Twitter’s 140-character tweets.
But whatever the specific reasoning to buy a company, it’s very interesting that Twitter’s breaking from the acquire-hire pattern of buying startups and crushing what makes them unique.
Jonathan Rauch for the Atlantic wrote a nice piece about what it means to be an introvert in a world full of extroverts:
With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. “People person” is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like “guarded,” “loner,” “reserved,” “taciturn,” “self-contained,” “private”—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially.
Disclaimer: I consider myself as an introvert and I enjoyed this article. However, we don’t need yet another movement such as the Introverts’ Rights movement Rauch mentions, in my opinion. We don’t need words like “shy”, “reserved’, etc. to be banned because they are somewhat disrespectful to introverted little kids. Worse, I hope introverts will never feel the need to exist by picturing themselves as discriminated victims of a world dominated by extroverts.
It’s good to learn about introversion. It’s especially good for extroverts to know their counterparts better, but please no need to find another criteria to categorise people. I’m not saying that’s what the article proposes, just that it could be a temptation for certain.
HTC’s designers seem to be cognizant of the fact that smartphones are growing too large for some people to use comfortably, but the company is taking a truly bizarre approach in trying to rectify the problem. Meet the HTC Mini, an NFC / Bluetooth-enabled device that’s now being bundled with the 5-inch HTC Butterfly in China. Yes, HTC seems to think giving you a second, more ergonomic handset to carry around (and keep charged) is a better alternative to shrinking down its flagship Android phones. The candybar-style device pairs up with the Butterfly via NFC, after which Bluetooth is used to display notifications, text messages, calendar entries, and more. You can even place voice calls with the Mini, relegating your primary handset and its stunning 1080p display to the dark confines of your pocket.
We’ve recently seen the first minute of footage from jOBS, the biographical firm about Steve Jobs with Ashton Kutcher. I’m not sure if Casey Newton saw the whole movie, but he writes for CNET a ‘review’ and makes a good case for certainly the film’s main pitfall.
Yet the filmmakers are more interested in showing Jobs going about the work of being a genius. Over and over again, minor characters explain to him why something can’t be done; Kutcher-as-Jobs smiles enigmatically and waves away their concerns. (It is left to someone else, far off screen, to turn his visions into reality.) We watch Jobs out-negotiate a computer parts store owner, lecture the team making the Lisa, and ride to the rescue of the Macintosh. Each time, he speaks of how the technology Apple is building will improve the lives of average people. Co-workers argue with him, but they never get anywhere, because their parts are poorly written and the filmmakers have no interest in showing their subject being wrong about his work. The film mentions Lisa’s failure but has no interest in what part Jobs played in that failure; all Apple failures in “jOBS” are portrayed as the result of conservative, backward-thinking executives beholden only to their shareholders. The result is that the viewer spends two hours watching cardboard cutouts lose arguments to Ashton Kutcher.
My fear indeed is that the film forgets the context of Jobs’ decisions. We look in 2013, knowing Apple’s success, at what he did and his decisions look natural when they were in fact very risky. I wish the film would explain that, show how crazy some of his ideas seemed at the time and also how inaccurate some were. I’m afraid the film will depict him as an always-right genius who faced backward-thinking people all the time. It is a bit more complicated than that.
In a major exec departure, Square COO Keith Rabois will be leaving the San Francisco payments company.
Square gave no other information about the sudden management change, but sources said disagreements between Rabois and CEO and founder Jack Dorsey were part of the reason for his exit there.
It’s not clear if there were more serious issues between them or whether the parting was related to a specific business problem. But the departure of the No. 2 exec is significant, so definitely more to come on what happened.
It is clearly a loss for Square. Rabois maybe feels it’s time for him to start his own thing. Maybe, we’ll know more soon.
Update: It seems now that he resigned because of sexual harassment claims. As he explains in a blog post, he began a relationship with someone and later recommended him to interview at Square, which worked. Kara Swisher for AllThingsD has an interesting bit:
The man and Rabois were still seeing each other socially until December, when the relationship cooled.
And then came the lawsuit threat two weeks ago, which Rabois said “stunned” him.
Let’s precise that the lawyer and its clients are asking for a payment of millions of dollars to settle the argument. It looks nothing like a genuine claim to me.