Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quick links

Some of what has caught my attention recently:
  • Netflix may have been forced to change its pricing by the movie studios. It appears the studios may have made streaming more expensive for Netflix and, in particular, too costly to keep giving free access to DVD subscribers who rarely stream. ([1] [2] [3])

  • Really fun idea for communication between devices in the same room, without using radio waves, by using imperceptible fluctuations in the ambient lighting. ([1])

  • Games are big on mobile devices ([1] [2])

  • "Customers have a bad a taste in their mouths when it comes to Microsoft's mobile products, and few are willing to give them a try again." Ouch, that's going to be expensive to fix. ([1])

  • Microsoft's traditional strategy of owning the software on most PC-like devices may not be doing well in mobile, but they're stomping in consoles ([1]). On a related note, Microsoft now claims their effort on search is less about advertising revenue and more about improving interfaces on PC-like devices. ([2])

  • Many people have vulnerable computers and passwords. Why aren't more of them hacked? Maybe it just isn't worth it to hackers, just too hard to make money given the effort required. ([1])

  • In 2010, badges in Google Reader is an April Fools joke. In 2011, badges in Google News is an exciting new feature. ([1]).

  • Good (and free) book chapter by a couple Googlers summarizing the technology behind indexing the Web ([1])

  • Most people dread when their companies ask them every year to set performance goals because it is impossible to do well and can impact raises the next year. Google's solution? Don't do that. Instead, set lightweight goals more frequently and expect people to not make some of their goals. ([1] [2])

  • 60% of business PCs are still running WinXP. Maybe this says that businesses are so fearful of changing anything that upstarts like Google are going to have an uphill battle getting people to switch to ChromeOS. Or maybe this says businesses consider it so painful to upgrade Microsoft software and train their people on all the changes that, when they do bite the bullet and upgrade, they might as well switch to something different like ChromeOS. ([1])

  • Fun interview with Amazon's first employee, Shel Kaphan ([1])

  • Thought-provoking speculation on the future of health care. Could be summarized as using big data, remote monitoring, and AI to do a lot of the work. ([1])

  • Unusually detailed slides on Twitter's architecture. Really surprising that they just use mysql in a very simple way and didn't even partition at first. ([1])

  • Impressive demo, I didn't know these were possible so easily and fluidly using just SVG and Javascript ([1] [2])

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