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Comment Re:mail.app (Score 1) 216

Of course, since this is in mail.app, which I use constantly, this is the first I've heard about it.

I wonder how many great features in Apple products people miss simply because Apple refuses to provide sensible documentation and instead relies on users to "discover" features organically or via message boards.

-Chris

Comment Geeks repellant! (Score 3, Interesting) 233

So, at the more hardcore geek conference (Supercomputing comes to mind), there has never really been an issue with booth babes for a simple reason: geeks are scared to talk to them. Every now and then a company will hire one, only to see a nice exclusion zone form around their booth. Sure, sales guys from other booths will stop by, but none of the intended audience will risk talking with an attractive female.

Comment Tail wags the dog... (Score 5, Insightful) 293

As a developer/power user who sits at the far end of the bell curve, here's what I see as the folly of Apple's ways.

I switched to Macs after working on a beta version of OS X in the late 90s. Unix + sensible desktop was enough to keep me off the Linux train for daily use. That the hardware was also well designed with a good level of performance was also important. For the next 10 years or so, that held true.

But, in the last 5 years:

- the hardware has stagnated (e.g., I'd really like to buy a MacMini for my kids, but there's no way I'm shelling out Apple prices for 3 year old processors)
- new hardware decisions make it difficult to use existing peripherals (music is a hobby - no way am I dropping a few grand on new audio interfaces just b/c I upgraded my Mac and need to support new ports)
- Apple has ignored sensible design decisions made on the non-Apple side of the world (specifically, touch screens on laptops - my wife as an HP for work and the touch screen is useful, those old studies that claim otherwise are just that, old and dated).
- The OS continues to have a slew of undocumented features that may or may not be useful, but definitely affect performance (the real dig here: just document the features Apple, I hate discovering things OS X has done for years on random blog posts)
- The iPhone and OS X still don't work well together

Why does this matter from the perspective of the bell curve and my place on it? Simple: I switched not only my family, but also my company over to Macs. The middle part of that curve was filled by people following people like me into the Mac universe. I'm seriously considering dropping Macs for computer use and (horror of horrors) going back to Windows + Linux. If I go that way, it's just a matter of an upgrade cycle or two before those in my sphere of influence abandon Macs as well.

Apple seems to have forgotten that it's us geeks that couldn't wait for Linux on the Desktop that helped drive adoption 15 years ago. Kinda like the Democrats forgetting that the working class matters.

-Chris

Comment Data will not save us (Score 1) 635

"The report also calls on the government to keep a close eye on fostering competition in the AI industry, since the companies with the most data will be able to create the most advanced products, effectively preventing new startups from having a chance to even compete."

I call BS on this one. The two companies with arguably the most data anyone has ever accumulated in history are both incapable of producing new products, despite the fact that they know everything about everyone.

Google's only innovation was its advertising platform. It's a cash cow. That cash and the data in its search/mail systems has failed to yield anything new and innovative beyond incremental improvements in search.

Facebook's only innovation was leveraging privilege to build a social network. Remember the early days where it was just limited to Harvard students and then a few other universities and then finally everyone else? That was a brilliant strategy to create artificial scarcity to build demand. They also leveraged that time of limited users to fine tune the platform and create a social network that was generally acceptable to a broad user base. Since then, they've made a ton of money and collected a lot of data (granted, it's mostly people's family pictures and political rants) but haven't done anything innovative.

Innovation will always come from the small disrupters. Both companies made their innovative moves when they were small.

-Chris

Comment Re:We already have one. (Score 2) 635

It won't even be fine for those who own the companies. If the majority of the population has no source of income beyond a basic income provided by the government, the total amount of that basic income basically caps the size of all markets. To keep the money cycling, businesses will be taxed and the owners will only make modest incomes. Basic math gets in the way here (as it does in a free market for basically the same reason, the only difference is that corporations find ways to redistribute wealth via the market rather than regulations, limting the wealth of their customer base, and eventually destroying their source of income).

The parent's point is dead on: "the acquisition of wealth as the primary goal and measure of a person" is the bug in our society, not a feature. Swap that out for a different set of axioms and we can reshape society however we want.

-Chris

Comment Re:Realistic (Score 1) 94

That's where biology becomes problematic. From a convenience perspective, it'd be great to have a small pack of sensors somewhere that let you monitor vitals, especially for people who are sick. The problem is, there's no one place we can put a range of sensors and have them all be accurate enough to be useful. The body is a distributed system and different parts let you measure some things and not others.

Theranos ran into this problem recently by attempting to perform a wide array of tests on a single drop of blood while ignoring the basic biology behind blood-based measurements. Many of the measurements they claimed to be able to make are for things that occur in low copy-numbers in blood, which is why large draws are required to accurately measure them. If something only occurs once for every 10M blood cells and you need at least 10 copies to accurately detect it, you'll need at least 100M cells to have a chance at detection. The same is true for most other biological measurements. Sample size and location both matter.

-Chris

Comment Re:Sue the CEO (Score 2) 94

Not sure about Pebble specifically, but CEOs at VC funded companies typically don't have high salaries. Usually the top engineers and salespeople make more than the CEO. The CEO's compensation is delayed in the form of equity, which only turns into cash after an acquisition or other liquidity event. In this case, taking the $740MM would have resulted in a nice payday for the CEO. $40MM probably didn't even get the investors/debtors their money back.

Public company and profitable private company CEOs are almost always overpaid, but startup CEOs rarely are.

-Chris

Comment Re:Realistic (Score 2) 94

Probably true for smartwatches - battery life being the main technology issue that needs to be resolved. Once batteries are better (or power consumption is lower), you'll be able to pack more processing power and radios into a watch form factor and eliminate the need to carry a phone. Or, for those of us who don't like wearing jewelry, we can carry Zoolander size phones. Win win either way.

Fitness bands, on the other hand, are most likely a fad. People are always looking for silver bullets for weight loss and exercise. There's always a small market for products for athletes who find the gear improves their training, but the vast majority of these devices sell to consumers who really aren't using them as anything other than a feel good product. Plus, the science behind fitness bands is mostly bogus. Beyond GPS tracking for pacing, there's not much they can do accurately enough at their form factor. Biology, not technology, gets in the way of that. (e.g., for heart rate monitoring, we already know that straps are the most accurate way, but most people won't wear those, regardless of what they're tethered to)

-Chris

Comment Self Reporting is not accurate (Score 4, Insightful) 57

These sites are dangerous. I just went through the process of setting salary ranges for a number of new hires and the discrepancies between the self-reported sites and the commercial data brokers are fairly large.

As best I can tell, most people reporting their salaries on Glassdoor (for example) are junior people who are either inflating their title/experience, rounding up their salary, or both. Also the higher up you go in titles, the wider the variance. Without information about sample size, it's hard to know if the range for, say, a CTO in Springfield is really $80k-300k or if they just happened to have two people report their salaries (or aspirational salaries).

Self-reported salary sites are simply too easy to game to be reliable. If I wanted to depress salaries in Springfield, I could just submit some carefully designed "employees" to skew the stats. Alternatively, employees appear to already be doing that to try to get salaries raise.

Once you're out of the "junior" part of your career (say 5 years of career maturity, regardless of your title), you tend to know your market value and what your salary trajectory will be (if not, talk to your co-workers about pay - that's how executives all keep their pay high, though they communicate via lawyers, board members, and SEC filings). At that point, you're not going to report to these sites.

Employees and job seekers have ready access to these sites and use the data when negotiating raise. The problem is that HR departments have access to commercial databases compiled from actual pay-stub data. This sets up employees for some awkward conversations when they try to justify their 150% pay increase + company Ferrari because someone on Glassdoor claimed that's what their compensation is.

-Chris

Comment Bump in Upgrades? (Score 1) 535

I'd be more curious about any bump in upgrades for existing MacBooks.

My 2012-era MacBook Air and MacBook Pro both work fine, save for the battery in the Air and the drives in both. I was waiting to see if it'd be worth getting a new one or just spending the money on upgrades. Verdict? Upgrades for the win. Rather than spending $3-4k on new computers (and a few hundred more on all the adapters I'd need to get my peripherals working), I'll spend around $600 and have both running fine for the next few years.

I wonder how many other people reached the same conclusion...

How Apple missed this opportunity for all of us to refresh our laptops boggles the mind. Maybe they just feel that they have enough money in the bank and keeping laptops out of landfills was their goal?

-Chris

Comment I hope it's not like Apple Music! (Score 1) 45

All I listen to on Apple Music are various electronic/dance genres and some metal. Apple Music has been great for manual discovery of new and leading edge music. You'd like a recommendation engine could run with that, right?

Naw. Apple Music also knows I'm an early 40s white guy and instead keeps telling me I should listen to prog rock, 80s pop, and the occasional "safe-for-old-people" new artist.

I suspect this will work out just as well. No, no.. don't watch Orphan Black or Dark Matter, you really should just be watching Seinfeld and Frasier reruns!

-Chris

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