Tech companies criticize travel ban

Tech companies criticize travel ban but not their investor Peter Thiel:

The ride-hailing service earned praise from customers for condemning President Trump’s travel ban and pledging to donate $1 million to the ACLU over the next four years. Many on social media urged followers to #DeleteUber for appearing to break up a driver strike about the ban. On Monday, Lyft cracked the top 10 free apps on Apple’s App Store.

Less noted, however, is the fact that Peter Thiel is one of Lyft’s investors. Thiel, the billionaire investor and PayPal (PYPL, Tech30) cofounder, is Trump’s top tech advocate and an adviser on his transition team. He also recently appeared to defend the travel ban, despite the many concerns about it in Silicon Valley.

I hate to make it all about business, but sometimes things don’t change unless it affects businesses and Trump’s decisions are clearly hitting a nerve not just with individuals around the country but will companies too.

White House Inc.

We’re living in a weird, fucked up, and disturbing alternate reality where Donald Trump is president of the United States and Teen Vogue is killing it with their reporting on Trump.

Here’s their handy tip for the average man and woman to connect to Trump through his businesses:

So, to solve the problem, White House Inc. — created by Revolution Messaging, the same company that worked on Bernie Sanders’ digital presidential campaign — connects you to Trump in a different way: by calling his businesses, the same ones the president isn’t divesting from, despite the fact that it may be illegal and unconstitutional for him to hold on to them. The idea is that, since Trump is still very much intertwined with his businesses, American citizens should be able to share their thoughts and concerns with anyone at any of those businesses and have that message communicated back to the President.

Thank you, Teen Vogue.

There’s something I never thought I’d say.

Human-pig embryos

Researchers create first viable hybrid human-pig embryo:

Researchers have created a viable hybrid part-human, part-pig embryo for the first time in history. According to a study published in the journal Cell Thursday, researchers were able to successfully inject human stem cells into a pig embryo and grow tissue that would form the early stages of human organs like the heart, liver and neurons. Although it’s in the very early stages, experts believe the human-pig chimera could one day be used to grow transplantable human organs in farm animals.

Give me a second to process this.

Product review grading on a curve

Gadget reviews are broken on the big tech sites like The Verge, and Engadget. They’ve actually been broken for a long time. If you read the long form part of the reviews and then you see the ‘grade’ they give the devices, they don’t match up.

Take Chris Velazco’s review of the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch for Engadget:

Samsung’s smartwatch formula, and the company threw in every feature it could think of. That rationale is Samsung through and through, and it makes the Gear S3 worthy of your consideration, even if now might not be the best time to buy a smartwatch.

So throwing every feature you can think of into a device is good user experience? Is this what makes people love their gadgets?

And why is now not the best time to buy a smartwatch? I’ve had my Apple Watch Series 2 for six months and it’s great. Perhaps Velazco meant not the best time to buy an Android smartwatch. It’s important to use the right words when you’re trying to convey your point. Be genuine.

With the Gear S3 Frontier, Samsung did a commendable job building a wearable with a little something for everyone. The device still falls short in a lot of ways, including its overzealous automatic fitness tracking and a limited app selection, even after a year. Still, with so few truly interesting smartwatch options out there, the Gear S3 can’t help but feel like a refreshing change of pace. If you’re in the market for a high-end wearable, the S3 is worth considering. Just remember: Android Wear 2.0 is coming early next year, so waiting for the next crop of watches is probably the smartest move.

Commendable is code for: “Nice try, kids, but not good enough.”

This review concludes the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier falls short in a lot of ways, has inaccurate fitness tracking, but since there aren’t any great Android smartwatches on the market this shitty smartwatch seems like a decent smartwatch and they give it a score of 80 of out 100.

How does a product that “falls short in a lot of ways” get a score of 80?

Velazco essentially graded the Frontier on a curve, with all the bad Android smartwatches raising the average for poor performers.

Great job.

There’s not an app for everything

The Women’s March proves that 21st century protest is still about bodies, not tweets:

Headed to DC on Friday, I was asked by my editor to pay attention to the ways that people were communicating and dealing with logistical issues on the spot. Would the Women’s March app be used to ping people with changes in plan, or would the massive crowds inspire an official recommendation of using peer-to-peer communications like FireChat? Would organizers encourage participants to use encrypted messaging services to protect themselves? Would there be clashes with police or anti-protest groups that warranted live video streams? In reality the only mass communication I witnessed was organizers asking participants to text a no-reply number to obtain an official tally for the march — seemingly unaware that 500,000 people sending a text in synchronization in a small space is probably impossible, and that many people had been warned not to help create records of their location and ID on protest day. For all the reasoned and confident organization the Women’s March team did before the event, they were unprepared to direct the crowd that eventually materialized before them on Saturday morning, and they didn’t use any of the tools we imagined.

One of the reasons people didn’t use their mobile devices was because the Internet tubes got clogged:

At one point, a rally speaker acknowledged that the crowd “may have seen” a news article saying the march was no longer happening because there were too many people. But there was no way to get Twitter to load in the thick of things, so most of us had not. Apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were useful only on the outskirts of the protest and afterwards, to digest dispatches that had been sent whenever a signal could be ferreted out.

To get things done in life sometimes you have to put down your iPhone and get your hands dirty. Talk to people face-to-face, not through a text message with emoji characters.

A Coke is a Coke

Low-cost Android One phones reportedly coming to the US:

Google’s Android One platform was originally designed to provide low-cost Android devices to developing markets without the stuff that usually comes with low-cost Android devices: bloatware, competing services, and a crippling lack of software and security updates. Now, according to a report from The Information, the program is about to make it’s way to the US market to help solve those problems.

And on regular software updates:

Google also has a stake in ensuring that as many Android devices as possible are upgraded on a regular basis, not just for features but also for security updates.

Imagine that: It’s 2017 and there exist a whole market of shitty, low end Android devices that can’t be updated on a regular basis, filled with bloatware.

This has never been a problem with any of the iPhones I’ve owned.

It reminds me of this great quote from Andy Warhol:

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

When you buy an iPhone 7 it’s the same iPhone 7 your favorite actress owns and it’s the same one the cashier at the grocery store owns. When you buy an Android phone, it could lie anywhere on the spectrum of Amazing to Crappy.

This distinction between iPhones and Android phones can’t be overemphasized.

Millenials be loving vinyl.

The Economist’s Prospero blog explains it’s millenials, not baby boomers, who are driving the boom in vinyl sales:

Many consider nostalgia the driving force behind this uptick. Turntables are cheap and easy to get hold of (a Crosley costs less than $100 on Amazon) and so furnish baby boomers with a good excuse to dust off what remains of their collection, and expand it further. But data show that this isn’t a sufficient explanation: nearly 50% of vinyl customers are 35 or younger, according to ICM. Indeed, it is 25-35 year-olds who are the most voracious demographic, taking home 33% (by comparison, 45-54 year-olds are responsible for only 18% of sales). Millennials might like to carry their favourite songs around with them and discover new artists via streaming apps, but they also want to collect that music in album form.

The key word to understand when it comes to records is experience.

We’re physical animals and we enjoy physical activities, particularly in a world getting more and more digital and virtual.

“This is going to be a fight.”

Deadspin writer Hamilton Nolan explains why you don’t kiss Trump’s ring (via Daring Fireball):

[…] The pomp and circumstance and deference will only increase after the inauguration. The press and the Congress are the only two institutions standing between a dangerous man and total power. They must both realize this is not the time to salute and grovel. This is not the time to fall into familiar patterns of default respect for someone who does not himself respect the responsibility to the public that he has been given. This is the time for them to rise to the occasion. And the occasion is a fight for civil society.

This is not going to be a free and fair exchange of ideas. This is going to be a fight. If you have not absorbed that fact yet, you are already losing.

This is only going to get worse.

I thought all those people were so cute who were “wishing 2016 was over already.”

Well, 2016 is over.

All that shit you hated about 2016? Multiple it by a lot.

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006