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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

Comment *sigh* Par for the course... (Score 4, Insightful) 204

I'd be surprised, but this is such a common pattern with Google/Alphabet (which I will refer to as Google for the rest of this post) when they try anything that's not Ad/Search related that it's more of a *meh*.

Google Health, that Energy project that they seem to have wiped from search results, Google+, Google Glass, and so on. They put a huge amount of upfront capital into these projects and hype to hell out of them only to abandon them when they realize that it takes effort to build new, ground breaking businesses. Not everything will be handed to them like ads/search was. From that I can tell, it also seems to be a function of internal champions - one person drives these projects and when they lose interest, the projects die.

From the tech eco-system's perspective, this is frustrating. As soon as Google announces one of these projects, everyone assumes they'll succeed and competition is stifled. Investors don't want to compete against Google. I run a genomic informatics company. Google Genomics is making noise in this space and every time we talk to investors or customers, we inevitably spend 5-10 minutes talking about Google. My stock response is to walk them through Google's past efforts with non-Ad/Search products and ask them if they're willing to risk Google losing interest.

Google has an important place in the tech world, but they still act like a tween trying to fit in.

-Chris

Comment Rational? (Score 4, Insightful) 61

Can we stop saying that maximizing profits at all costs is the only rational approach to business?

It's a rather new idea that's been pushed by the financial and legal worlds for the last 40 years (because, surprise surprise, it lets them maximize profits on their advisory services), but is by no means the only valid metric for measuring business success. Focusing solely on profits oversimplifies the role of business in complex markets. This single minded focus ultimately leads to monopolies providing expensive, crappy products (which is exactly what Santa Monica is trying to avoid here).

Comment Re:What exactly are they doing with it? (Score 3, Informative) 62

IBM is using blockchain as a distributed, digital ledger service. The basic idea is to create new blockchains for different domains (think of Bitcoin as a blockchain for digital currency) and the use those within a community as ledgers to track transactions (for example, all real estate transactions could be added to the real estate blockchain). They're developing ways to also include rules for transactions to only allow updates to the chain if certain conditions are met.

Source: I sat through many presentations on this at IBM Edge last week.

I'd type more, but I'm on my phone... Google IBM and blockchain to see more. It's actually pretty interesting.

Comment Texas Did It First! (Score 4, Informative) 161

I know that's an odd subject for this thread, but Texas beat them to this by almost 10 years.

CPRIT (Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas) was founded in 2007 and chartered with spending $3B over 10 years to develop new approaches to cancer prevention and treatment. If you're in the cancer research space, you know about CPRIT. It's the single largest research fund for cancer outside the NIH.

To get an idea of what $3B can do, check out the CPRIT site http://www.cprit.state.tx.us/a....

If you don't want to do that, basically you can fund a few companies and a number of research projects, but it's nowhere near enough to make a dent in the problem.

There's also the problem of fairly allocating the funds. CPRIT ran into this problem early on when it was found that many of the early, large grants were awarded without proper review to friends of the board. This prompted the entire scientific board to resign and CPRIT to essentially reset. It's moving along OK now, but it's still an open question as to how many of the investments will yield actionable results.

Given Facebook's proclivity to reward friends with purchases at outrageous valuations, I won't be surprised if this fund runs into the same nepotism issues CPRIT did.

There are many other lessons that they can learn from CPRIT, but the most important probably is that $3T is probably a more realistic number.( See also all the comments about the tech industry's hubris when it comes to these types problems - curing cancer/disease is not the same as slapping together some APIs to create a "world changing" app. )

-Chris

Comment Motion Sickness (Score 4, Insightful) 233

I get motion sick if I try to read anything (book, map, phone, computer) in a moving car or train. I'll get zero productivity gain from a self driving car. Not sure what percentage of the population has the same issue, but I doubt it's insignificant.

More importantly, what's with the continued obsession with maximizing productivity? How about pitch it as a way for people to have more time to relax and recharge? Self driving car, some good music, a comfy chair, and some good scotch for the win.

-Chris

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