AT&T has updated their international travel data plans (following Verizon doing the same thing). On the surface, it’s a good move, the new packages are certainly a better bang-for-the-buck. But let’s be real: they’re still a colossal rip-off.
But it could also be insecurity. To me, it feels like Microsoft is in a quiet panic. When Apple says the era of the PC has ended, I think Microsoft may believe it even more than Apple does. Smartphones eat away at messaging, tablets compete for browsing and game-playing, and who knows what will come next. In the new device markets, Microsoft is an also-ran. I think Microsoft feels it must find a way to leverage its waning strength in PCs to make itself relevant in mobile.
What I have found is that by doing this I am incrementally making my life more enjoyable each and everyday. It really is the little things that count, because if you improve enough of the little things (and the big things don’t suck) then pretty soon you are going to have a lot of great things going for you and thus you will be happier.
Rene Ritchie wrote a very in-depth piece on some of the things Apple could improve on with iOS 6. He didn’t just look at elements of the current OS, but also what Apple could learn from Android, webOS and Windows.
In fact, the performance of iAd has grown so solid over the past 6 months or so that I recently dropped all other advertising platforms from Audiobooks (previously I’ve integrated with MobClix, Admob, and Adsense).
“The original poster was correct in noting that we don’t have a browse area for projects whose funding was unsuccessful,” he wrote. “This isn’t to ‘hide failure,’ as the original post said, it’s because it would be a poor user experience (there’s no action that anyone could take) and it would expose the creators of unsuccessfully funded projects to unnecessary criticism from the web (those projects would be prime for trolling).”
“Most unsuccessfully funded projects come up short because of a lack of interest in the project or because their creators didn’t promote it enough, not because of the Kickstarter page itself. Success on Kickstarter comes down to making a video, pricing things reasonably, and telling people about the project.”
Overall Twitter usage has actually remained pretty stable since early 2011 (the slight changes over the last year are safely within the margin of error). What has changed, though, is the number of daily active users, which increased from 4% in May 2011 to 8% today.
That’s a bogus argument. If they really feel this way, then Firefox should present a modal dialog that forces every user to choose a Do Not Track setting before they can do anything else. Nobody likes those sort of dialogs, of course. People launch Firefox because they want to browse the web, not to fiddle with settings. That’s why default preference settings matter so much — everyone knows most users never change the defaults.
Years ago I had the idea that if Microsoft really wanted to destroy Google, they should have released a version of IE with a built-in on-by-default ad-blocker that included Google ads in its blacklist. They could have killed Google back when IE had an overwhelming majority browser share. Sure, there would have been a nasty legal fight and Microsoft probably would have lost it, but it would have taken years to litigate and I’ll bet it would have been less expensive to Microsoft than what they’ve flushed down the toilet on Bing over the years.
This will play out the same way it always does: big competitor announces something the week before an Apple event to try to take the wind out of Apple’s sails, then Apple releases something similar or better, and everyone forgets about the competitor’s announcement.
I think Google+ is an effort that does not deserve the engineering minds at Google. This is mostly a personal bias. I see Google as solving legitimately difficult technological problems, not doing stupid things like cloning Facebook. Google, in my opinion, lost sight of what was important when they went down this rabbit hole.
Within days, friends of Mr. Bergus started seeing his post among the ads on Facebook pages, with his name and smiling mug shot. Facebook — or rather, one of its algorithms — had seen his post as an endorsement and transformed it into an advertisement, paid for by Amazon.
I can appreciate why Google is working on all kinds of new technologies like the self-driving car, but I think it’s time to fix some of the things it’s been ignoring for a long time. The big one for Web publishers is Feedburner.
Good piece by Wolf Rentzsch, evaluating both the pros and cons of buying Mac apps from the App Store versus direct from developers. He makes a strong case that the new sandboxing rules that went into effect today tilt things in favor of buying direct. I agree, but I’d say that’s true only for power users. For typical users, I’d argue that the sandboxing rules make the Mac App Store even more compelling (albeit at the expense of severe headaches for developers).
Liberals were upset when Nancy Pelosi demanded tax breaks for everyone with incomes under $1 million, arguing that the threshold should be $250,000 instead. Now they have more ammunition from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. If the cutoff for tax breaks is $1 million instead of $250,000, Pelosi’s proposal would lose the government $366 billion in lost revenue over the next 10 years, the CBPP points out in a new report, citing new figures from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation:
Fluctuations in fruit prices can often wreak havoc on juice-seller — one store owner remembers “a year that blueberries went berserk, and we had to raise prices 45 cents,” Soller’s recent piece, on the economics of iced coffee, is also worth a read.
So why is Britain doing exactly what it shouldn’t? Unlike the governments of, say, Spain or California, the British government can borrow freely, at historically low interest rates. So why is that government sharply reducing investment and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs, rather than waiting until the economy is stronger?
Why are Americans having more trouble paying off student loans, as compared to other kinds of debt? It’s partly because of the types of consumers who tend to have high student debt. They’re younger than those who tend to take out house or car loans, at a time when half of all recent college grads can’t find full-time work. The pool of struggling borrowers also includes college dropouts, who are four times more likely to default on their loans than graduates, having accumulated debt but no degree to improve their employment prospects.
All told, the U.S. job market appears to be sputtering out. In the past four months, the economy has added an average of 137,000 jobs per month. That’s barely enough to keep up with new entrants into the labor force. At that rate, according to this calculator from the Hamilton Project, we won’t get back to full employment until 2025.
Policy-wise, Adler explains, a small-government approach to global warming might include things like: a revenue-neutral carbon tax that replaced income taxes, public prizes for innovation, and the stripping away of regulations that inhibit the adoption of cleaner energy. (I’ve written a fair bit elsewhere on electric-utility regulations that might be worth a peek.)
Last night, 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati won the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word “guetapens,” an obscure French word that describes a snare or a trap. This follows on other spellers taking stabs at words like schwarmerei (to be enthusiastic), ericeticolous (a “heathlike” habitat) and schwannoma (a type of tumor, obviously).
The short version: this is a case where our model’s insight would match the conventional wisdom — the bad economic numbers over the past weeks are sapping Mr. Obama of the edge he might have had on Mitt Romney.
The British Medical Journal recently combed through American data on cancer deaths and diagnoses. It found that, while American deaths from certain cancers have remained pretty constant since the 1970s, the number of cancer diagnoses has skyrocketed.
A soda tax no doubt would bring in some cash for the state. Would it equally deter consumption of sodas in the same way as a portion-size ban? That’s a bit difficult to know, largely because we’ve never seen any state or city ban large sodas (more general research on portion size suggests that it is an effective way to reduce consumption of food).
Classical music actually went through a similar development, moving more toward minor songs between 1600 and 1900. The changes in pop music modes, the researchers note, have come much faster, over the course of decades rather than centuries.
America's economic future is increasingly uncertain. In my view, unpredictable economic policy--massive fiscal 'stimulus' and ballooning debt, the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing with multiyear near-zero interest rates, and regulatory uncertainty due to ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms--is the main cause of persistent high unemployment and our feeble recovery from the recession. A reform strategy built on more predictable, rules-based fiscal, monetary and regulatory policies will help restore economic prosperity...But skeptics ask how a system of policy rules can work when politicians and government officials want to 'do something' to help the economy or feel public pressure to do so...Rules for monetary policy do not mean that the central bank does not change the instruments of policy (interest rates or the money supply) in response to events, or provide loans in the case of a bank run. Rather they mean that they take such actions in a predictable manner.
American shoppers increased their spending in May, despite uncertainty over US economic growth and the jobs market, according to monthly sales figures from some of the country’s largest retail chains. Total sales at stores open for at least a year rose 4 per cent last month, according to Retail Metrics, the research group. Sales were stronger than the 1.8 per cent forecast, though below the 5.5 per cent gain made in May 2011. The gains followed a dismal showing in April, when retailers posted what some analysts said was their weakest performance since November 2009. Sales were affected by an earlier Easter and unusually warm weather which brought shoppers to stores earlier in the season, as well as a weaker economic environment. Industry watchers had warned that May sales might again suffer because of some of these factors. But in spite of declining consumer confidence, sales were strong.
The House on Thursday rejected a measure that sought to impose fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions on women who are trying to select the gender of their offspring -- a practice known as sex-selective abortion. The legislation, which required two-thirds support to win passage under the fast-track procedure used to bring it to the floor, fell short on a vote of 246 to 168. Republicans did not anticipate that the legislation would pass, but saw it as an opportunity to force Democrats to vote on an issue with appeal among conservatives...Abortion-rights advocates, while pleased with the outcome, slammed Representative Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, for pushing forward with his bill, known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act...There does not appear to be an extensive network of women seeking abortions in order to manage the race or gender makeup of their families.
Americans are borrowing more to pay for college while reducing other debt as a weak job market prompts more people to go to school and tuition keeps climbing, new Federal Reserve Bank of New York data show. Americans owed $904 billion in student loans at the end of March, nearly 8% more than a year ago, the New York Fed said Thursday in a quarterly report on consumer credit. That compares with the $679 billion they owed on credit cards at the end of the first quarter. Between the fourth quarter of 2008, when credit-card debt peaked, and the first quarter of 2012, this borrowing fell by $187 billion, or 21.6%, the Fed said. Over the same period, student-loan debt rose by 41.4%, or $264 billion. Student debt is quickly rising, in part due to higher tuitions, but also because alternative ways of paying for college--such as home-equity loans--have dried up. The Obama administration has expanded federal loan programs, which offer student loans at below-market rates.