Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Quick links

It's been a while since I did a Quick Links post, so there's a lot to cover. Here's the latest of what has caught my attention:
  • First Netflix wanted to be Blockbuster (DVDs), then a replacement for cable (streaming video), now they want to be HBO (making content). ([1] [2] [3])

  • "For raw bandwidth, the internet will probably never beat SneakerNet" ([1])

  • Data caps are "a strategy for ISPs to increase their revenue per user ... The trend is driven in large part by a woefully uncompetitive market that allows the nation's largest providers to generate enormous profits" ([1])

  • "Maybe it will eventually dawn on [ISPs] that the only way to fight the scourge of cheap, fast broadband is to provide it themselves" ([1] [2])

  • "Too many companies think of their call centers as a cost to minimize ... it's a huge untapped opportunity ... [for] word-of-mouth marketing ... [and] to increase the lifetime value of the customer" ([1])

  • Mary Jo Foley says, "I keep scratching my head over who Microsoft expects to buy the Surface Pro" ([1])

  • "Taking the bitter pill would mean backing off the Surface idea while smoothing over the worst parts of Windows 8. Admit that being different just for the sake of being different is a losing strategy. Go back to software engineering 101. But I don't see Ballmer making that tough decision. It's just not how he rolls. Then it'll be up to the board of directors to hold him responsible when this dogmatic strategy fails." ([1])

  • "Dell outsourced the management of its supply chain, and then the design of its computers themselves. Dell essentially outsourced everything inside its personal-computer business—everything except its brand— to Asus ... Then, in 2005, Asus announced the creation of its own brand of computers. In this Greek-tragedy tale, Asus had taken everything it had learned from Dell and applied it for itself." ([1])

  • "The Dreamliner was supposed to become famous for its revolutionary design. Instead, it’s become an object lesson in how not to build an airplane" ([1] [2])

  • A deal protects Apple, Google, and a few others from being sued by Kodak's patents, but no one else. "Kodak patents may well be popping up in future patent troll suits in the future." ([1])

  • Mark Cuban says, "Dumbass patents are crushing small businesses" ([1])

  • Detailed technical discussion of the Superbowl power outage and what could have been done to prevent it ([1])

  • The book "Thinking Fast and Slow" and implications for artificial intelligence ([1])

  • "We understand the meaning of an object in terms of the meanings of other objects – other chunks of reality to which our brains have assigned certain characteristics. In the brain’s taxonomy, there are no discrete entries or 'files' – just associations that are more strongly or more weakly correlated with other associations ... Might 'meaning' itself simply be another word for 'association?'" ([1])

  • On global warming: "There is only one thing we can do: develop renewable technologies that are substantially cheaper than coal, and give these technologies to the developing countries." ([1])

  • Good summary of a Davos panel on education ([1] [2])

  • Funding at Garfield High School in Seattle is just $5,600/year/student ([1] [2])

  • Fascinating example of novel work in a field (in this case, literature) by blending it with computer science. ([1] [2] [3])

  • Companies should stop talking about "mobile", start splitting out tablets and smartphones separately. ([1])

  • People talk about tablets killing the PC, should be talking about tablets killing the e-reader ([1])

  • Clever optimization idea from Google: "sending a hedging request after a 10ms delay reduces the 99.9th-percentile latency for retrieving all 1,000 values from 1,800ms to 74ms while sending just 2% more requests." ([1] [2])

  • "Any time you access Google, you probably are in a dozen or more experiments" ([1])

  • What could we do in a distributed database if we could rely on all servers having exactly the right time? ([1] [2])

  • Spotify rediscovers what others found a decade ago, social recommendations don't work, that "no matter who you are, someone you don't know has found the coolest stuff." ([1] [2] [3])

  • "Amazon sells things to people at prices that seem impossible because it actually is impossible to make money that way .... Competition is always scary, but competition against a juggernaut that seems to have permission from its shareholders to not turn any profits is really frightening." ([1])

  • Amazon goes after personalized ads: "This platform lets the company retarget its users across the Web based on their browsing and purchase habits on Amazon’s owned-and-operated properties. That could be a game changer ... given Amazon's recommendation engine" ([1])

  • "Consumers want more targeted and humorous ads ... 67 percent of respondents would be willing to be answer a question to make their ads more personalized and enjoyable ... Consumers understand the exchange of free content for advertising, but they want to make sure their time tradeoff of watching ads also benefits them. They found coupons, contests and links as the most positive forms of engagement." ([1])

  • "Advertisements are 182 times as likely to deliver malicious content than pornography" ([1])

  • Dilbert on effective mobile advertising ([1])

  • The future of maps on smartphones: "It'll be like you're a local everywhere you go. You'll know your way through the back alleys and hutongs of Beijing, you'll know your way all around Paris even if you've never been before. Signs will seem to translate themselves for you. This kind of extra-smartness is coming to people." ([1])

  • Shocking to see Acer bragging about Google Chromebook sales while lambasting slow Windows 8 sales ([1])

  • Chromebook is the #1 selling laptop on right now, not Apple, not Microsoft's Windows 8. ([1])

  • Marissa Mayer says, "In the future, you'll be the query" ([1] [2] [3])

  • Recommendation algorithms work by finding things other people loved that you haven't found yet and bringing them to your attention. It's computers helping humans help humans. ([1])

  • A good UX can make people very forgiving of high error rates ([1] [2])

  • Stephen Wolfram says, "If heuristics are done well, with serious computation and knowledge behind them, they actually do work, and people like them very much ... So long as everything 'just works', people never think about the heuristics, never try to deconstruct them, and never notice or get confused by the lack of ultimate consistency." ([1])

  • Google discovered the optimal length of an interview loop is 4 interviews. Any more hits diminishing returns. [1])

  • "Granting mothers five months of leave doesn't cost Google any more money." ([1])

  • "Software development at Google is big and fast. The code base receives 20+ code changes per minute and 50% of the files change every month" ([1])

  • Worth knowing and understanding: Android has 42% market share of computing devices, but only generates 5% of Wikipedia's traffic ([1])

  • "Why the Google+ long game is brilliant" ([1])

  • Snarky: "The real sign of Google Apps making a big dent in the business world will be when its own hiring managers are able to stop treating Microsoft Office as the de facto standard." ([1])

  • "When everything is in flux, predicting what will be hot a year from now -- 'skating to where the puck is going to be,' to quote Steve Jobs quoting Wayne Gretzky -- becomes all but impossible. Samsung's strategy is to put a man at every spot on the ice. Be in enough places and you're bound to catch something no one was predicting -- like, for instance, the world’s bizarre love affair with phablets." ([1])

  • Much lower power consumption on GPS trails on smartphones by offloading processing to the cloud ([1])

  • Clever combination of GPS trails and a game: "The idea of cyclists recording ride data is nothing new ... What Strava did was turn ... [that] into a rigorously measured, database-matched, global community with the sudden ability to turn the most banal ride into a race ... Get that satisfaction without turning up at the starting line, in the rain, on a Saturday morning at 6 a.m." ([1])

  • Interesting theory: "I had a small epiphany. The cyclists were hated because they are [viewed as] cheats. They are getting away with something that car drivers cannot." ([1])

  • I love this idea of a bicycle frame completely covered in reflective paint ([1])

  • Out of control: "The American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI seeking details of its surveillance policy -- who it spies upon, and how, and under what circumstances. The FBI sent back two 50+ page memos in reply, each of them totally blacked out except for some information on the title page" ([1] [2])

  • On hedge funds: "The S&P 500 has now outperformed its hedge-fund rival for ten straight years, with the exception of 2008 when both fell sharply. A simple-minded investment portfolio—60% of it in shares and the rest in sovereign bonds—has delivered returns of more than 90% over the past decade, compared with a meagre 17% after fees for hedge funds (see chart). As a group, the supposed sorcerers of the financial world have returned less than inflation. Gallingly, the profits passed on to their investors are almost certainly lower than the fees creamed off by the managers themselves." [1])

  • Appears both Vikings and Polynesians reached the Americas around 1000, well before Christopher Columbus ([1] [2])

  • The weight of glaciers during ice ages might cause an increase in volcanic eruptions ([1])

  • Moderate amounts of play of first person shooters (and similar action games) improve vision, attention, and spatial skills ([1])

  • Randall Munroe (author of xkcd): "I've never seen the Icarus story as a lesson about the limitations of humans. I see it as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive." ([1])

  • An art project with a visible pile of pennies and a crank, that "allows anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they like." Absolutely brilliant. ([1])

1 comment:

darkblue said...

Thanks for this post. Lot of various interesting links. I would really enjoy if more people do some "quick links" posts.