Box’s 65-Year-Old Android Engineer Gives Your Startup Some Unsentimental Advice

There are precious few people who have seen and comprehended enough of the rise of computing (and now mobile computing) to have some perspective on the industry’s mind-bending velocity. “The tools have just gotten so much better,” he says. “When I was working on the game for Electronic Arts, I did the entire development on the Atari 800 and it took me 45 minutes to do one compile off of a floppy disk which held a grand total of 380 kilobytes. Today I have a device in my pocket with can give me access to the world’s knowledge,” he says. “That is unbelievable–but I think we have lost the idea of the software artist. When the machines were much smaller, I did my game essentially as a one-man team. I did all the art. I did all the programming. I had one other engineer help me with some of the music. I have a friend working with EA today and he is probably working in a team of 120 engineers.”

Fantastic read.

Let's Gut Net Neutrality

If Trump truly cares about business growth and innovation, he'll work to keep Net Neutrality in place rather than to allow the below nonsense to take place.

 "FCC Republicans Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly sent a letter to five lobby groups representing wireless carriers and small ISPs; while the letter is mostly about plans to extend an exemption for small providers from certain disclosure requirements, the commissioners also said they will tackle the entire net neutrality order shortly after President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration on January 20.

"[W]e will seek to revisit [the disclosure] requirements, and the Title II Net Neutrality proceeding more broadly, as soon as possible," they wrote, referring to the order that imposed net neutrality rules and reclassified ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. Pai and O'Rielly noted that they "dissented from the Commission's February 2015 Net Neutrality decision, including the Order's imposition of unnecessary and unjustified burdens on providers." "

Microsoft in the Weeds

Nathaniel Popper for the new York Times: 

"But Microsoft is breaking the corporate taboo on pot this week by announcing a partnership to begin offering software that tracks marijuana plants from “seed to sale,” as the pot industry puts it.

The software — a new product in Microsoft’s cloud computing business — is meant to help states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana keep tabs on sales and commerce, ensuring that they remain in the daylight of legality."

Between LinkedIn and this, Nadella is forging ahead by noticing new, different and exciting opportunities for Microsoft. 

Samsung Introduces Powerful Smarthome Devices

Despite a growing consensus that today's households are saturated with human-interaction diminishing screen-time, Korean-based Samsung has decided that the solution to meaningful family interaction involves MORE screens, rather than less. Enter their new line of connected home devices:

1) The Samsung Activewash (TM) clothes washer includes a deeper and wider sink than last year's model, allowing users to pre-treat a load right on top of their washer rather than having to locate the unit near a sink. For Front-loading machines, Samsung has added a portal-like feature that allows one to pause the cycle and subsequently shove anything from a sock to a towel or pair of jeans through to add it to the wash. Both of these devices include new controls that are set in the middle of the lid rather than in the "difficult-to-reach" rear of the machine. But wait-- what abou the screens? Both types of machines feature wifi that allows them to connect to users' phones for notifications about cycle duration and status, as well as command and control of the machines. 

2) For centuries, the kitchen has been the heart of technology in the home. We've shoved fire, ice, and water into the room and today take for granted that each appliance is something of a testament to both our oldest and newest food processing technologies. Taking that paradigm to a new level, Samsung has introduced a new version of it smart fridge. With its wifi-connection, apps and HUGE 21.5" screen, Samsung's smart fridge includes not only connectivity, but collaboration and interactivity. Citing the way the recent trend in stainless-steel finishes has removed the family's ability to use the refrigerator as a billboard for childhood art, important announcements, and novelties like magnets, Samsung has created several apps that allow families to use their smartphones to post not only images, but notes and other information on the fridge. In addition, the refrigerators can now mirror the content displayed on a user's Samsung Smart SUHD television set, so that they don't have to miss that critical moment of the Big Game while getting up to retrieve a drink or some snacks. 

Not only does the fridge watch TV, it also contains robust grocery-shopping functions, that are designed to help contemporary families save money and time when it comes to keeping their homes stocked with food. 

The most straightforward of these tactics is the fridge cam. Samsung have developed a system in which every time the users closes his or her refrigerator door, the machine take a photo of the contents of the cold Box. Users can gain access to the fridge's photos through the available Samsung app and use the image to determine what they need for the next week's stores,

At first glance there's a "who cares" reaction but apply a little thought and you begin to realize how much money (over time) you'll be able to save by checking the fridge before you buy. It's something we should all be doing before going to the store, but let's be frank-- the vast majority of us forget to. When you consider the fact that Amaricans throw out something like 45% of food, it's clear that we've got too much of it lingering in our fridges-- and some of that is from over-buying. 

The second trick that this fridge has in store for its users is deep integration with MasterCard's vendor partners like FreshDirect. Through the fridge, you can buy groceries and have them delivered to your door. No word on what the delivery cost might be, but it's an interesting way to make good on Samsung's promise to deliver technology which provides convenience by saving both time and money. 

3) The Smart TV got smarter. A lot smarter. Not only has Samsung added a complimentary USB dongle enabling support from their mid-2014 purchase of Smart Things, but the company has retooled the Smart TV interface to support a number of new and intuitive interactions. 

The Smart Things dongle enables users to vocally command any device compatible with the Smart Things hub. With the device properly installed inserted into the side of the television set, the functionality seems to mirror Amazon's Echo, which also connects to various connected home devices platforms, including Smart Things. 

The the interface update is perhaps more exciting. The Smart TV places content directly in front of users, rather than the typical app-enabled paradigm of having to click into an app in order to gain access to its content. Rather than opening Amazon Video and browsing the app, the Smart TV can lay out the trending content from Amazon or ESPN or any other connected service right as soon as the user selects that source of content. 

Further more, the television is equipped with technology that empowers it to learn various remote functions quickly and easily so that your Samsung remote can easily become your only remote. On top of all thins functionality is Samsung's ability to quickly access devices attached to the Smart TV without having to focus on changing inputs. The television seamlessly move the user over to an Xbox One or, a Time Warner's cable system. That last bit's a boon to anyone who's ever wanted to hide or get rid of their clunky cable box. 


On their own, all of these devices, with their robust feature sets and well honed interfaces would be compelling to even lead in their respective categories. working together, Samsung has put together a suite of devices that work well together and are accessed by the same app in a phone. This means users can just look for the Samsung brand on any of these electronics and assume that it's going to play nicely with their other Samsung devices. 

Among other items mentioned were wifi connected... 

...Which belies a significant marketing pain point: why aren't all of these devices protected under the very same brand. We've got the Galaxy phone and the Smart TV. The wifi-enabled stove and oven are all named with disparate brands. Would that I were in charge of marketing, it might be fun to rebrand the line of products to just read "Galaxy." This way phone owners would recognize immediately that this washer or TV, or other device was compatible with their phone.

But that would make too much sense. 

Understanding the iPad Pro


In a recent piece on his site, Daring Fireball, John Gruber (who inspired the format of this blog) layed out an effective response to anyone confounded over the price and purpose/scope of the iPad Pro:

"We’ve now reached an inflection point. The new MacBook is slower, gets worse battery life, and even its cheapest configuration costs $200 more than the top-of-the-line iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is more powerful, cheaper, has a better display, and gets better battery life. It's not a clear cut-and-dry win..."

At first, many complained that the iPad Pro was too expensive since it began at $700 ($200 more than a base model iPad Air 2) and that to add insult to this imagined injury, its storage capabilities are tiny at 32GB.

When you look at the device as a computer replacement however, the pricing begins to make a lot more sense to me-- especially since this iPad, with the Pro designation, is not marketed as a movie watching, comic reading, couch surfing device - it's meant for productivity. It's meant for work. It delivers on that front and that means as is the case with all well-used tools, it pays for itself.

Perhaps if Apple had called the device the "iMac Mini," or the "Mac Nano," there wouldn't be any confusion on these points. But they won't because it runs iOS rather than Mac OS, so it can't be a Mac. As Apple continues to develop two operating systems, iOS will have to struggle with growing out of the perception that iDevices are toys or field hardware to be synced up w/ a computer later; that they're the stuff of reading, and Instagramming and games. It's a marketing struggle, to be sure, but one which Apple will handle with aplomb, as it always does.

The iPad Pro is the first device to directly confront that struggle.