Solid State Watch

Currently on Kickstarter:

Solid State Watch is a Casio F-91W movement permanently cast into a transparent resin case. It’s in there forever. No buttons, no functions, no light, fully waterproof and no changing that 10 year battery.
It just tells time.

Solid State Watch

I love the idea, but as my friend Jory pointed out, the $160 price tag is hefty as shit considering you can buy a Casio F-91W for $11.

At the time of this posting, they have 308 backers who have contributed over $50,000 towards their $8,000 goal, so clearly there’s a market for this watch.

I can’t help but what at what number are the project creators going to grow tired of resin-coating and vacuum-sealing 300+ watches by hand? I think I’d grow annoyed after making ten watches.

Categories:

Crowdfunding, Product

WXOU Radio Bar

Katherine Lewin, writing for The Infatuation, on WXOU Radio Bar:

This is as straightforward a bar as you’ll find in the city. DGAF attitude, dad rock, and beers & well drinks are the key components here – it’s all familiar, and that’s a good thing. It’s the perfect place to take a break from the routinely expensive, sceney, and packed bars that you keep going back to. You’ll leave wishing you had this place on your corner.

It doesn’t matter that I lived in New York for 12 years. There will always be bars I haven’t visited. This is one of them, and it looks great.

“we will end up creating a dystopic information environment”

David Kaye, writing for The LA Review of Books on, The Digital Deluge and the Age of AI:

The public’s impression of AI is that it is machines taking over, but — for now, for the foreseeable future, and certainly in content moderation — it is really human programming and the leveraging of that power, which is a massive one for corporations. The machines have a lot of difficulty with text, with all the variations of satire and irony and misdirection and colloquial choppiness that is natural to language. They have difficulty with human difference and have facilitated the upholding of race, gender, and other kinds of biases to negative effect. Even worse, as the scholar Safiya Noble argues in her book Algorithms of Oppression, “racism and sexism are part of the architecture and language of technology.” And all of this is not merely because they are machines and “cannot know” in the sense of human intelligence. It is also because they are human-driven.

We often do not know the answers about meaning, at least not on a first review. The programmers have biases, and those who create rules for the programmers have biases, sometimes baked-in biases having to do with gender, race, politics, and much else of consequence. Exacerbating these substantive problems, AI’s operations are opaque to most users and present serious challenges to the transparency of speech regulation and moderation.

When systems scale, shit gets crazy.

“the first at a major tech company to unionize”

The Verge: Kickstarter employees vote to unionize:

Kickstarter employees voted to unionize today with 46 people voting for the union and 37 against. The decision makes Kickstarter employees the first at a major tech company to unionize. The employees are represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), and the unit is made up of 85 engineers, directors, analysts, designers, coordinators, and customer support specialists.

Mike Monteiro has also been an advocate of organizing unions, specifically for designers.

Categories:

Career

I haven’t seen a compelling argument for why a mobile computer with a folding screen is better than one without a folding screen.

Android pocket computer manufacturers can’t hold back their excitement over folding screens. Samsung was so excited, it aired a Galaxy Z Flip commercial during the Super Bowl before it even announced the phone.

Motorola has taken the nostalgic angle with folding screens and reintroduced the RAZR. I remember when the original RAZR debuted in 2004. There was a ton of buzz surrounding it and its ~$350 pricetag (a hefty price for a folding phone at the time).

I know fashion moves in cycles, and old things become new again, but I’m not convinced the kids today are both nostolgic for a folding phone and really want a touchscreen that folds.

As far as other 40-somethings like me, I don’t see anyone rushing out to get either of these devices. After watching MKBHD’s unboxing and review video for the new RAZR, it’s clear Motorola put nostallgia and form ahead of function, doing everything they could to keep the same shape as the original RAZR in order to create a subpar device compared to other Android mobile computers.

I like seeing gadget experiments, but I haven’t seen a compelling argument for why a mobile computer with a folding screen is better than one without a folding screen. Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done.

Not the Descendants of Cellular Phones

Geoffrey Fowler, in an article written for the Washington Post, considers the $1,000 to $1,400 price range of Samsung’s new Galaxy phones as, “hard to justify as much more than a luxury.”

John Gruber responds:

This is the same nonsense we hear about Apple’s phones, post-iPhone X. Yes, phones that cost $1,000 or more are expensive. Yes, that’s outside the budget for most people. But why in the world would anyone argue this is ”hard to justify”? Phones are, for most people, the most-used computing device in their lives. They are also their primary — usually only — camera. A good camera alone used to cost $500-600.

Gruber is correct, but there’s another problem I haven’t seen anyone address that’s been bothering me for quite some time, and that is: these are not phones, they’re pocket computers (feel free to come up with a better name).

If you look at a Galaxy S20 or an iPhone 11 Pro as the descendants of cellular phones, then, yes these are very expensive phones.

Now, on the other hand if you look at these as what they are: the evolution of computers, miniaturized, with the ability to shoot video, watch video, shoot photos, edit photos, map your trips via GPS, browse the Internet, send & receive email, send & receive text messages, read books, listen to music & podcasts, and maybe occasionally make & receive phone calls (to name just a few), then their price tags don’t seem that outlandish (whether or not most people take advantage of all these capabilities is another story).

As George Carlin said:

Because we do think in language. And so the quality of our thoughts and ideas can only be as good as the quality of our language.

They’re pocket computers, not phones.

Categories:

Product, Technology

The Age of Productivity

AgencySpy: A Survey Reveals That Agencies Are Getting Through Less Than 2 Hours of Deep Work per Day:

According to research from Float (a work planning platform … nifty that they did this research to sell a few subscriptions), agency people are getting less than two hours of what’s called “deep work” done per day. Defined, “deep work” is what it sounds like, focusing on work without interruption.

Over 100 respondents from around the world weighed in on the issues they face in getting any work done. Almost 60% claimed that they get two hours or less of uninterrupted work done per day, while 27% noted that they can get four hours of quiet work time. It also seems that larger agencies (with 50+ employees) bear the brunt of interruptions, with over 60% saying that they get through two hours or less of meaningful work. Smaller agencies (less than 30 employees) appear to be able to make it through four hours.

Those “innovative” open-floor plans are the best.

Essential Shuts Down

From The Verge:

Essential is shutting down less than three years after the startup unveiled its first smartphone. The company’s only complete product, the Essential Phone, sold poorly and received mixed reviews. A follow-up phone was canceled, and a number of other promised devices — like a smart home assistant and operating system — never materialized.

I can’t say I didn’t see this coming.

Categories:

Product, Technology

Quick-Takes

Building the ‘Parasite’ House: How Bong Joon Ho and His Team Made the Year’s Best Set

Bong described the home as “its own universe inside this film.” He added that he took pleasure in hearing that the famous directors on this year’s Cannes jury — which included Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Kelly Reichardt — were all convinced that the movie took place in a real home. In truth, Bong asked his production designer to create an “open set,” built on an outdoor lot.

Parasite was a wild ride.

The Best Thing About This Smartwatch Is the Strap — Looks like (Android) Wear OS is still meandering in mediocrity while Apple Watch is eating the entire Swiss watch industry. Favorite quote by Victoria Song: Wear OS still kinda sucks, but in a dull, this-isn’t-exciting way rather than the shitshow it used to be. Sign me up!

Nikola teases an electric pickup with 600 miles of range — So there\’s a electric vehicle start-up called Nikola. Groan. And they\’re teasing a vehicle they haven\’t made, that doesn\’t exist. People just love doing unboxing videos before they even have something to box, don\’t they?

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Links

Apple Watch, just a niche product.

Apple now sells more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry:

The Apple Watch wasn’t just the best-selling smartwatch last year, but also put the Swiss watch industry to shame, according to new sales estimates compiled by Strategy Analytics. The report estimates Apple shipped nearly 31 million units in 2019, a 36 percent jump over last year. The Swiss watch industry, which includes brands like Swatch and TAG Heuer, only shipped an estimated 21.1 million units, a 13 percent decline, Strategy Analytics says.

Remember back in 2016 when the Swiss watch industry said it wasn’t worried about Apple’s Watch?

Life moves pretty fast.

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Uncategorized

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They let you do it.

It is a paradox that the most litigious country in the world—a country whose founding documents were largely drafted by lawyers, and whose constitutional true north has long been the constraints afforded by the law—elected a man who has spent the bulk of his life creating a two-tiered system, in which some men are bound by law and others float away from it. We knew long before he was elected that Donald Trump would not be bound by the rule of law, or by the norms of a system dependent on checks and balances. He told us as much. During the campaign he floated the prospect of torturing the families of enemies, and rewriting libel laws, and banning travelers to the United States based on their religion. Sure, it maybe sounded like hyperbole, and it maybe sounded like campaign-speak, and even as some of those efforts were effectuated, including the Muslim ban and family separations, and even as the norms about nepotism and self-dealing and disclosure were brushed away, it still seemed as if a country founded on law would locate some guardrails.

—Dahlia Lithwick, The Law Is for Suckers

Categories:

Politics, Tromp

To have a business you need to have more than a business?

The Verge has a profile on electric skateboard startup Boosted:

Born out of a Stanford startup incubator in 2012, Boosted pretty much single-handedly popularized the idea of electric skateboards — or, more specifically, remote-controlled longboards powered by electric motors. The company launched an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter that same year and started shipping in 2014. Co-founder and former CEO Sanjay Dastoor often talked about wanting to grow Boosted beyond skateboards into a company that made “last-mile” vehicles in other form factors. But it wasn’t until he stepped down and was replaced by fellow Stanford mechanical engineering grad Jeff Russakow in 2017 that Boosted tried to make that happen.

It seems that in today’s day and age it’s not sufficient to have a great idea and turn that idea into a business. There’s this urge to weaponize your company into something that can take on anything and everything. “No! We’re not an electric skateboard company! In a year we’ll be making autonomous cars and Mars rovers!”

Granted their entrance into the electric scooter market is a natural extension of their skateboard business, but shouldn’t you have success with your core product before expanding and diversifying?

It’s always about raising money, never making money.

Categories:

Business, Product