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Shit Worth Reading: June 6th, 2012
Shit Worth Reading: June 6th, 2012
06/06/12 at 03:41 PM by Jason Tate
OK, been a few days - and I have a pretty big collection of things to share that I think are worth reading. From a standpoint of bigger/longer form reading, I finished Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" a few days ago, and enjoyed it. I'm now on to "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain -- which I am also really liking. I'm using the library's ebook service to read it, and while free - the product kind of sucks. I'd much prefer to use iBooks. Meh, not sure how many more books I'd read on the library ebook reader. Hmm, I wish that iBooks or Amazon had a library thing like the Kindle for Prime. I'd totally pay $X amount per year to be able to read books on my iPad like a library. But, I digress...

Wednesday Spotlight: Japandroids
Definitely check this out ... between "Handwritten" and "Born and Raised" -- this is the only other album I've been listening to all week. - JT
The Dark Knight Rises Clip On MTV & TV Spot #5

OK, I'm almost to the point of just not watching any more of these ... don't want to know too much. - JT
Weekend Roundup
On Friday, after hearing some big, awesome, potentially life changing news about both the other members of the Lawrence Arms, I went to see Against Me! and hung out with all sorts of great mofos. I am also here to report that the biggest difference between Tom Gabel and Laura Grace is that Laura is vastly, vastly more famous than Tom ever was and it’s pretty cool, but more than just a little bit intimidating, and I say this as a longtime friend of both Laura and her wife. Short version: the band was great, Laura’s performance was much more effortless and natural than Tom’s ever was and she was very nice in answering some technical questions I had (“if you were to duck into the woods to pee, would you squat or stand?” [the answer was ‘well, I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m still figuring all this stuff out’ if you’re curious]) and was even gracious enough to not tell me to go fuck myself when a well intentioned, but in hindsight probably inappropriate anecdote of mine descended into babbling incoherence.
The pros and cons of living with your significant other
The Oatmeal is so consistent. - JT
UI vs UX
More pointedly, good user experience is the art of a drill going through wood, or a surfboard gliding through water effortlessly. The feelings those give you is unparalleled because they just work, simple as that. Though, in contrast, the shape of that board that helps it make those turns on the wave is good UI, and the surfwax on the top so you don’t slip off is also good UI. In short, the ENTIRE package is what makes it good UX, whereas good UI is always a very important inner-element of that.
Facebook ‘Privacy Notice’ is utter horseshit
If you have a Facebook account, you've likely seen your dull friends post some version of a "privacy notice" there recently. The idea is that posting it as your status will somehow prevent Facebook from, well, doing the things Facebook does with your information. It's nonsense. Don't be that person.
Absence note from President Obama
Bad. Ass. - JT
∞ Google park the self-driving car and fix FeedBurner
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.
R.I.P. Zune
There was nary a mention of Zune, an existing Microsoft music and movie service, at the E3 event where Xbox Music was announced. But afterward, a Microsoft spokeswoman, Melissa Stewart, confirmed that the Zune brand is going away so Microsoft can use the better-known Xbox brand for its entertainment services, including its online video service.
The Mechanics and Meaning of the Dial-Up Modem Sound
What you’re hearing is the way 20th century technology tunneled through a 19th century network; what you’re hearing is how a network designed to send the noises made by your muscles as they pushed around air came to transmit anything, or the almost-anything that can be coded in 0s and 1s.
Ping: What Went Wrong
Ping, however, demands that you undershare. When you share a track, album, or playlist with friends, they can’t listen to it in its entirely. Instead, you’re allowed a 90-second preview, which again underscores Ping’s commercial (and somewhat unfriendly) nature. A true friend doesn’t wave a bowl of soup under your conk, allow you a savory sniff, and then jerk it away demanding that you pungle up to ingest the stuff. They scoot it over—complete with spoon, napkin, and best wishes.
Grading on a Curve, David Pogue Department
Pogue, ostensibly to please a vocal, angry contingency of fanboys, bends over backwards so hard to say nice things about the Galaxy Player 4.2 that he practically begins to eat himself, so that every good thing he says about it is immediately negated in the same thought. The screen is fantastic, except for when you open your eyes.
Wreck-It Ralph

Haha, this could be good. - JT
Instapaper for Android
I asked my friends at Mobelux if they were interested in developing the official Instapaper Android app under a revenue-sharing agreement instead of a traditional hourly model, which I couldn’t afford for the quality and amount of work that this would require. We discussed the risks on both sides, and we both agreed that we were willing to accept them for the potential of what could become a great new business for both of us.
→ Curated Thoughts on Curation
Link to great stuff often, and you’ll build an audience. But subsequent linkers don’t owe credit to every intermediate linker. It’s nice in some circumstances as a courtesy, but it’s never necessary. And even when a “via” link is included, most readers don’t care and don’t click.
Some thoughts on when to raise money, and the current financing environment
It takes many months to understand how macroeconomic and public market shifts affect private company valuations since (with the exception of secondary markets) private transactions happen slowly. So we don’t know yet what these recent events mean for private markets. According to a basic rule of finance, however, it is safe to assume that companies “comparable” to Facebook are worth up to 50% less than private investors thought they were worth a few weeks ago.
Mac Pro to Finally See Updates Next Week
We had long been tracking the possible Intel chips that could find their way into the new Mac Pros. It wasn't until March, 2012 that Intel had released new Xeon E5 chips that Apple could use to upgrade their long-stagnant professional tower. The Mac Pro was last updated almost two years ago in July 2010. Apple had been said to be questioning the future of the Mac Pro line, given diminishing market appeal for the processional tower.
Take My Money, HBO!

I Don't See Enough Birds On Things in Portland

The Avengers may have saved the world, but they...
Yeah but see, this is bullshit. The movie — which was great, by the way — “sprinted to these numbers so fast” because ticket prices are now insanely higher than they ever have been, especially when you take 3D and IMAX into account. Look at the list above, there are two — TWO — movies pre-2000. And they were released in 1999 and 1997. Either movies have gotten better and/or more popular — or, much more likely, it has to do solely with the ticket prices. That’s not to downplay The Avengers success — its run has been amazing. But come on, to say that now “ranks third all-time in receipts” is misleading. It ranks third in money made, yes, but it’s a sort of silly metric. Hollywood should count and publish tickets sold in absolute numbers.
I Can't Wait

∞ Little Thing: Wireless Routers
I know a lot of people who constantly have trouble with their ’wireless internet’ and after I convince them to get the Apple router I don’t hear another peep from them.

As someone that has owned and troubleshooted a handful of routers over the years, I could not agree more. I would recommend the Time Machine to just about anyone. - JT

LinkedIn Confirms Hack And Leak Of “Some” User Passwords”
Shortly after reports that nearly 6.5 million LinkedIn account passwords were leaked onto the net, LinkedIn leapt into action and mounted an investigation. Though most of the morning was spent claiming that they could not confirm a security breach, a new announcement on their blog reveals that at least some of those leaked passwords correspond to LinkedIn accounts
Link: LinkedIn password lookup
Robert Graham has posted a web form that converts your password to an SHA-1 password for lookup and provides a link to the file of LinkedIn passwords that were dumped on the Internet so you can download and see if yours is in there.
Link: Netbooks 2.0 1
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes remarking on how Intel has cheapened the Ultrabook specification by allowing plastic shells instead of metal: Once again, Apple has set a bar that others have to match up to. And it seems that the bar has been set too high.
7.1 Percent In 7 Months
The results are in, as of June 1, Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) now has 7.1% of the Android market. Two months ago, the OS had just 2.9%, so this is progress. But that’s 7% in 7 months
Death and the Present Moment

E-Publishing May Be Doing Everything Right, But We Can’t Ignore The Spectre Of Piracy
Arguably, book piracy is a small problem but that could quickly change. Bestsellers are always available on pirate sources but the vast majority of books won’t appear on The Pirate Bay. However, as a poll commissioned a year ago shows, book piracy draws in an a fairly unique demographic – in this case older women. Whereas a publisher was once secure in knowing that romances, thrillers, and other popular fiction could keep folks coming back, title after title, the fact is that many of these best sellers quickly appear on pirate sites.
Netflix Rolls Out Its Own CDN: Open Connect
For Netflix, that potentially means a lower cost of delivery, and a better overall user experience. And the pitch to carriers is that Open Connect could reduce network overhead, particularly as Netflix becomes an ever-bigger percentage of traffic delivered to end users.
Square Doubles Its Retail Presence After Landing in 20,000 Outlets
Overall, the business has three legs right now. They’ve got the readers, which work with the iPhone, Android devices and iPads. Then they’ve got an iPad app called Register. Lastly, there’s Pay With Square, which is an app that people can use at their favorite local shops to pay by merely saying their name to the cashier at the register.
Monetizing Mobile Requires More Than Just Waiting For Ad Dollars
Advertisers know that the golden ticket to performance is relevance, and by that I mean the ability to target and reach your potential customer base as accurately as possible. I live in Los Angeles, and you are going to have a tough time trying to sell me snow boots in the summer. The more you can target the ads, the more likely you can generate the desired action and the more successful the campaign. The current mobile eco-system allows almost no targeting criteria and demands that advertisers take a spray and pray approach to their campaigns. This leads to poorly performing campaigns and unhappy advertisers that are unwilling to keep pushing more money down the rabbit hole that is mobile.
As Facebook Puns Dominate News Headlines Worldwide, One Man Is Fighting Back
Former TechCrunch writer and current karaoke competitor Jason Kincaid is taking Facebook pun headlines, marking them up with a digital red editor’s pen (via Skitch, I’m pretty sure), adding a few critical thoughts, and posting the results up on a site called Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Friends/Likes/Pokes/That “in a Relationship” Crap.
Sparrow: iPad - It's Coming.
There is no other app I am looking forward to more on my iPad now. Want. - JT
Meet The Wii U Gamepad, Nintendo’s Answer To Gaming On The iPad
With the Wii U, Nintendo is attempting to merge the magic of the Wii’s motion gaming with the emergence of gaming on tablets. Even the Gamepad itself is some sort of unholy marriage of the old and new. Much like Apple, Nintendo has never been about the hardware. It’s all about the experience and those details will come.
What Lies Beyond The Check-In: Foursquare To Launch Big New Redesign Next Week
Users are checking-in less, as the honeymoon has worn off. While Foursquare has added millions of users, many still don’t quite see the point of telling people where they are at all times. Foursquare leadership recognized this, and what we’re seeing now is a part of an ongoing transition for the company that’s really been brewing since the beginning of last year.
"Love The New Site," Said No One Ever
I was thinking about this yesterday after reading this post by Bryce Roberts: Everybody Hates Every Redesign Ever. It's so true. I think back to all the years covering Facebook. Just listening to the chatter on the web, everyone sure seemed to hate every little change they made. But the reality was that the majority of those changes better served a broader user base. Many of those changes kept Facebook growing towards the billion-user juggernaut it has become.
Facebook's IPO "Disaster"
Any regular trader who bought Facebook on day one and sold the next day after it didn't pop is, quite frankly, a fool. They're selling on bad news for some hype-chasing traders, not bad news for Facebook. Does Facebook have some question marks going forward? Of course. Every company, private and public, has question marks. For Facebook: mobile, ad rev, etc. But those are long-term problems. And those problems existed before IPO too. If you didn't know that, you shouldn't be investing in Facebook.
What Google Maps Actually Just Unveiled: Anxiety Over Apple Maps
What Google actually unveiled today is their own vulnerability in the space. Beyond a few tiny leaks, no one knows what Apple's mapping product will be like. Google has by far and away the best mapping product on the planet. But they still felt the need to hold this meaningless press conference today. That's fighting down, not up. And it's a big mistake because it conveys the opposite of what Google was trying to convey: concern, not confidence.
This Republican Economy
So the Republican electoral strategy is, in effect, a gigantic con game: it depends on convincing voters that the bad economy is the result of big-spending policies that President Obama hasn’t followed (in large part because the G.O.P. wouldn’t let him), and that our woes can be cured by pursuing more of the same policies that have already failed.
The Obama Gay Marriage Bounce Is Steady, Racially Broad
This makes perfect sense. Voters, white and black, are not changing their minds because Obama evolved and they want to follow the leader. People who always supported gay marriage have become more energized thanks to the president’s support and they are expressing that energy by volunteering, campaigning, and talking about the issue more openly. All of that renewed discussion has a ripple effect among white independents and black Democrats alike.
We think surgeons make 600 percent more than they actually do
Right now, the average orthopedic surgeon specializing in joint surgery makes an annual salary of $605,953. If the average surgeon made what these patients thought he ought to, some rough calculations show his salary would be an impressive $63 million a year.
Why we ignore low-tech fixes for the climate
How did these nuclear plants magically become so much more effective? It all comes down to incentives. After deregulation, Wolfram told me in a phone interview, plant owners could now make a profit by selling as much electricity as possible on the wholesale market. That gave the owners incentives to make small tweaks like reducing the amount of time that the reactors needed to be shut off for refueling. That involves a lot of tricky organizational maneuvers, and until deregulation, operators rarely felt the need to figure it out.
Were Facebook’s unlucky investors naive, misinformed—or misled?
[T]here are three major questions swirling around the troubled IPO: what caused the technical glitches that disrupted Facebook’s NASDAQ debut; whether Facebook gave privileged information to certain analysts and investors; and whether Morgan Stanley, the IPO’s lead underwriter, gave conflicting messages to different kinds of investors before the offering.
California weighs doubling its cigarette tax
If California approves a new cigarette tax, history indicates it would almost certainly drive down the the state’s smoking rate. Numerous studies have shown that cigarettes have a high level of price elasticity, meaning that price can significantly influence demand. Most studies estimate that a 10 percent increase in price of cigarettes will lead to a 3 to 5 percent reduction in consumption. As the price of cigarettes has steadily grown over four decades, consumption has steadily dropped.
For first time in years, the world is producing more oil than it needs
Add that up, and many analysts are now predicting that crude prices will keep falling this year — possibly as low as $90 per barrel. From a historical point of view, that’s still very high. But from the perspective of the U.S. economy, that could provide a small stimulus as gasoline prices keep falling. According to recent estimates by Macroeconomic Advisers, a $10 drop in the price of oil could boost U.S. gross domestic product by 0.2 percentage points.
More on whether Romney is the Keynesian choice
Which is the basic point of my column: If you assume the only really likely outcomes are Obama and a divided Congress and Romney and a Republican Congress, the most Keynesian outcome is probably Romney and a Republican Congress. But that’s also the outcome that’s worst for the political system’s long-term health, as it will mean the Republican Party was rewarded for the incredibly dangerous brinksmanship of the past year, and if their victory is partially because the economy slows on fears of a crisis in 2013, based on their reckless promises of more brinksmanship next year.
Don Draper: Libertarianism’s favorite ad man
Certainly, Jon Hamm’s character has no compunction about glorifying a corporate client amid accusations of harm to the public good. In a recent episode, Draper tells Dow, the chemical giant, how he would contain the backlash over the use of napalm in Vietnam. “The government put it in flame-throwers against the Nazis, impact bombs against the Japanese,” he tells them. “The important thing is, when our boys are fighting and they need it...when America needs it...Dow makes it. And it works.”
Are humans prepared to fight off an alien invasion?
Luckily, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, as well as some of the world's largest weapons manufacturers, are dreaming up the weapons of the future today. With the help of everything from lasers on jets to hypersonic planes to invisibility cloaks, we just might be able to make the battle for Earth a fair fight.
The Folks at Jaguar Talk About Watching Mad Men
We have never been so happy to see our car not start.
Before the Vatican condemned a nun’s book on sexuality, it was languishing at #142,982 on the Amazon best-seller list. Now it’s at #19.
Ooof. - JT
Don’t read too much into the May jobs numbers
But the May jobs report shouldn't figure to heavily into your thinking. For one thing, some of the bad news in recent months is payback for the good news in the beginning of the year. "Our best guess is that warm weather added 100,000 to the level of payrolls cumulatively through February, and that this unwound over the last three months," wrote Zach Pandl and Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs. "In March though May, payroll growth averaged 96k per month. Thus, excluding the weather payback effects, the underlying pace of job growth was likely around 120-130k during this period."
We are already living in a Republican economy.
What should be done about the economy? Republicans claim to have the answer: slash spending and cut taxes. What they hope voters won’t notice is that that’s precisely the policy we’ve been following the past couple of years. Never mind the Democrat in the White House; for all practical purposes, this is already the economic policy of Republican dreams...What do I mean by saying that this is already a Republican economy? Look first at total government spending -- federal, state and local. Adjusted for population growth and inflation, such spending has recently been falling at a rate not seen since the demobilization that followed the Korean War...Much though not all of the responsibility for the policy wrong turn lies with a completely obstructionist Republican majority in the House...The fact is that we have already seen the Republican economic future -- and it doesn’t work.
Breaches of medical data are raising alarm.
As more doctors and hospitals go digital with medical records, the size and frequency of data breaches are alarming privacy advocates and public health officials. Keeping records secure is a challenge that doctors, public health officials and federal regulators are just beginning to grasp...Reporting rules adopted as part of the 2009 stimulus ensure that the public knows far more about medical data breaches than in the past.
The Centers for Disease Control clarifies its stance on zombies.
Oh. Of course. - JT
The health-care sector is booming. So why are nurses having trouble finding jobs?
The health-care sector keeps getting bigger largely because our health-care needs keep growing: Americans are getting older. At the same time, study after study finds there aren’t enough doctors to care for them. This all should make a field such as nursing a pretty certain slam dunk, right?

Wrong: David Glenn, a nursing student at University of Maryland who blogs at Notes on Nursing, flags a new study showing that nearly a third of recent nursing graduates are having trouble finding jobs.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is expected to be defeated today.
Democrats will bring to the Senate floor on Tuesday the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that is supposed to help close the wage gap between men and women. The measure will fail, as intended, because at its core it is not so much a legislative vehicle as a political one intended to embarrass Republicans and help President Obama and congressional Democrats with female voters in November. The bill, which needs 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles, faces almost certain defeat because most Republicans plan to vote against it. But Obama and Senate Democrats are hoping those votes will give them the opportunity to paint congressional Republicans as hostile to women’s interests...The paycheck bill would bar companies from retaliating against workers who inquire about pay disparities and permit employees to sue for punitive damages if they find evidence of broad differences in compensation between male and female workers.
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