The Problem with Facebook

April 23, 2014

I agree with Veritasium wholeheartedly on this topic, but I’ve never seen it put so eloquently.  (I may disagree with his assessment of online video’s opportunity but that’s another story):

The Problem With Facebook

Allow me to summarize:

  1. FACEBOOK HAS PROBLEMS WITH PLATEAUING REVENUE
  2. FACEBOOK IS ACTIVELY CONSTRAINING/FILTERING WHAT USERS CAN SEE
  3. FACEBOOK IS INJECTED ADS INTO PEOPLE’S FEEDS BECAUSE THEIR EXISTING ADVERTISING DOESN’T STICK
  4. FACEBOOK IS CHARGING PAGE OWNERS TO ALLOW THEIR FANS TO SEE THEIR POSTS

This is angering both their users & their advertisers… and they’ve only just started.

I will add in one more thought:  I’ve spoken with a very intelligent, highly credentialed researcher who’s been invited to both tour & speak in front of virtually all the major online players including Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, Yahoo, Twitter, Instagram,  Yelp, FourSquare, Tumblr, etc. 

He made a few very sobering comments:

  1. He understood the monetization model very clearly for all the major online players that he’d visited & could see the growth trajectory for all of them… except Facebook.
  2. He noticed that Facebook, fascinatingly, even with its billion users, can’t seem to get even a small fraction of their users to provide credit cards, leaving them entirely at the mercy of their advertising strategies.
  3. He noted that based on his discussions with Facebook strategists, it seemed clear that they were riding a wave and even with their massive graph, they seemed confused as to how they were going to continue to grow.

He had several other things to say that I can’t post here but the jist is that he was least confident in Facebook’s long term potential amongst all the companies he’s been invited to.  So when I see things like the model described in the above video, it becomes apparent to me that Facebook, for all it’s growth & size, still hasn’t been able to persistently monetize its user base for long term growth.

I’m curious what that means for them long term.


One of my favorite books of all time: “Dvorak Predicts” by John C. Dvorak

April 13, 2014

WP_20140228_15_53_02_Pro (1)A technology pundit & journalist, John C. Dvorak, once wrote a book back in 1994-ish called “Dvorak Predicts” in which he made a series of gloriously hilarious predictions.

I know this because in my early 20’s I spent a lot of time in the local Barnes & Noble and parsed through all sorts of real winners on the computer bookshelves.  Back then there was a gut of publishers like Que, SAMS, Wiley, O’Reilly, Sybex, etc. just cranking out books as fast as they could… because the public was buying up tech books like crazy.  And a good barometer of how successful a product was was based on how many 3rd party books were written about it.

One could say that, with the writing of this book, Dvorak was simply capitalizing on that trend.  Folks were looking for the next big thing, and a book “predicting the future” might provide a glimpse into what that “big thing” was.  Even though it ended up being horribly inaccurate.

Anyway – back to Dvorak’s predictions:  Let’s celebrate a few of the doozies here, shall we?

  1. WP_20140228_15_54_05_ProStrong OS/2 Usage Will Confuse the Market”
    This one’s like shootin’ fish in a barrel and a history lesson all in one.  I have to believe Dvorak was simply blinded by his religion for OS/2 and this chapter was just wishful thinking on his part.  Windows at the time of publishing was already showing signs of taking off with Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and the availability of the free “TCP/IP-32bit for Windows” (codenamed “Wolverine”) was single-handedly pushing networked Windows into the stratosphere and killing the business of companies like Wollongong, Hummingbird, and other folks that actually SOLD TCP/IP stacks.

    I grew up in both Silicon Valley as well as with Financial Services.  And I grew up in a IBM family to boot:  I knew only one guy that used OS/2.  And he was from IBM.  And he had the same technical religion around the product as Dvorak did – while ignoring the fact that things like developer ecosystem, hardware partnerships, marketing, and evolutionary transitions, all are equally important elements to the success of a product.

  2. WP_20140228_15_54_36_Pro“Windows NT is Already Dead”
    Technology historians reading this one probably just spit up their coffee.  For the millenials in the audience, Windows NT was the first true multitasking, microkernel based operating system that Microsoft produced & it thrived so much that it evolved over the last 20 years to eventually became the Windows 7 & 8 that we know today. 

    To reiterate how off this prediction was, Windows NT improved year over year to become the core of the #1 computer operating system in the world.  One can only chalk up Dvorak’s words to his pro-OS/2 bias and his apparent thinking that for OS/2 to success, Windows NT must fail.

  3. WP_20140228_15_56_02_Pro“The Pentium Will Mark the End of the Line for the 80X86 Family”
    Again, technology religion and his adoration of RISC’s purported elegance is likely what spurred upon this ‘prediction’.  Dvorak was a huge supporter of all things RISC and if you really want to get technical, ARM chips, the processors that power virtually all smartphones & the majority of tablets in the mobile world, is a RISC derivative so one could say that RISC “won” in terms of volume.

    But Intel’s x86 line of CISC processors never “ended” in deference to RISC architecture and that was the context in which he wrote this statement. 


VIDEO: People come to the rescue

April 12, 2014

Yeah, the moose one was brutal but the elephant?  If you’re an animal lover, go get a tissue box.

People come to the rescue

I saved this video to my desktop. To remind myself.

April 8, 2014

Hope you’ve got tissue.

This 3 Minute Video Made Me Cry, And I Never Cry. Must See For Everyone.

The Importance of Doing Your Research Before Upgrading Phones (Digging into the Nokia Lumia Icon)

March 30, 2014

imageIt’s been years since I’ve actually really did hardcore comparisons between the phone I have and the phone that I upgrade to.  Most of the time, it’s assuming that the next generation is gonna be:

  • Brighter, more beautiful
  • Faster, more powerful
  • Improved feature set
  • Long lived battery life

Well, turns out that isn’t exactly the case with my upgrade from my Nokia Lumia 928 to the Nokia Lumia Icon on Verizon Wireless.

WHY I UPGRADED
The simple fact is I wanted a better camera than what the Lumia 928 offered with it’s 8.7Mp camera, and the Lumia Icon (929) offered that with it’s 20Mp camera.

Oh sure there were other things like a larger 5” screen, an AMOLED display, full 1080 HD resolution, a faster processor, stuff like that… but it’s the CAMERA that I needed.  When you have a kid, a dog, and travel a lot, you really need a good camera, not to say the 928’s camera was bad… it’s just that the AT&T Nokia Lumia 1080 produced GORGEOUS photos and I wanted something like that.

WHAT ELSE WAS DIFFERENT?
So when I finally upgraded to the Nokia Lumia Icon (929), I was elated to see the 20Mp photo resolution… the incredible zoom to 5Mp… the awesome point & click intelligence of the camera software.  And then I discovered that within a single 1080 HD START screen, using it’s 3 columns of tiles, I could fit virtually all the important applications I wanted there – requiring ZERO scrolling to get to any app.

VERY PLEASED.

Then I noticed something:  The battery was down to ~80% already after an hour and a half.  That’s odd, I thought, but I didn’t think much of it until later in the day after I’d used it for basic reading only, when I looked at the battery meter again later in the day and I was at 30%.

Whoa.  To be clear, on my Nokia Lumia 928, I RARELY dropped below 50% throughout the day.  This was unchartered territory for modern smartphones for me.  And then eventually the phone shutdown – out of power.  This isn’t something I’ve had to deal with in a long time.

WHY THE BATTERY LIFE DIFFERENCE?
So if you look into the specifications of the two phones, something clearly stands out.  I’ve highlighted the “better” features in GREEN and the “weaker” features in YELLOW for each model:

Detailed specifications for the Nokia Lumia 928.
http://www.nokia.com/us-en/phones/phone/lumia928/specifications/

    Showcase Features
    Main camera sensor: 8.7 MP PureView.
    Display size: 4.5”.

    Processor name: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4.
    Maximum talk time (3G): 17h.
    Maximum music playback time: 63h.

    Battery model: BV-4NW .
    Battery capacity: 2000 mAh.
    Battery voltage: 3.8 V.
    Removable battery: No .
    Maximum standby time: 25 days.
    Maximum talk time (2G): 11.8 h.
    Maximum talk time (3G): 17 h.
    Maximum music playback time: 63 h.
    Maximum video playback time: 6.3 h.
    Maximum cellular network browsing time: 6.3 h.
    Maximum Wi-Fi network browsing time: 7 h.

    Detailed specifications for the Nokia Lumia Icon.
    http://www.nokia.com/us-en/phones/phone/lumia-icon/specifications/

    Showcase Features
    Main camera sensor: 20 MP, PureView.
    Display size: 5”.

    Display resolution: Full HD (1920 x 1080).
    Processor name: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 800.
    Maximum talk time (3G): 16.4h.
    Battery capacity: 2420mAh.
    Wireless charging: Built-in (Qi standard).

    Battery model: BV-5QW .
    Battery capacity: 2420 mAh.
    Battery voltage: 3.8 V.
    Removable battery: No .
    Maximum standby time: 18 days.
    Maximum talk time (3G): 16.4 h.
    Maximum music playback time: 75 h.
    Maximum video playback time: 9 h.
    Maximum cellular network browsing time: 6.8 h.
    Maximum Wi-Fi network browsing time: 9.2 h.
    Wireless charging: Built-in (Qi standard) .

This is weird.  Buried within the stats, apparently:

  1. STANDBY
    When the device is standing by, the Nokia Lumia 928 provides 33% more battery life than the Nokia Lumia Icon.
  2. TALK TIME
    When the device is being used for voice calls, the Nokia Lumia 928 runs about 40 min longer than the Nokia Lumia Icon.
  3. MEDIA TASKS
    When the device is playing music or videos, the Nokia Lumia Icon provide 20% more battery life than the Nokia Lumia 928.
  4. WIRELESS
    When the device is doing anything intensely over WiFi or CDMA/LTE, the Nokia Lumia Icon provides anywhere between 5%-30% more battery life than the Nokia Lumia 928.

So by all intents and purposes, based on the specs, the Nokia Lumia Icon appears to be a bit even, right? 

GENERAL USE BENCHMARKS
The problem is, the specs don’t measure “general use” time.  In other words, what is the average battery life of the device when it’s used for activities other than media & wireless networking like:

  • reading email
  • viewing tweets
  • skimming RSS feeds
  • reading eBooks
  • viewing/taking photos

These are non/light networking tasks & coincidentally, these are the activities, I spend most of my time doing.  So I ended up researching general benchmarks and wow.   There’s some stuff that’s been published recently that confirms what I suspected:

  • GSMARENA: Nokia Lumia Icon battery life test
    http://blog.gsmarena.com/nokia-lumia-icon-battery-test/
    Their findings are a bit under what the specs state for talk time & video playback but web browsing at 5.1hrs is 25% below the spec rating of 6.8hrs.  That’s not good.  Most people believe this has to be a bug in Verizon’s implementation because no other Windows Phone has this low a web browsing performance.
  • PHONEARENA: Nokia Lumia Icon Benchmarks
    http://www.phonearena.com/phones/Nokia-Lumia-Icon_id8160/benchmarks
    This was one of my favorite benchmarks.  Running typical heavy workloads on the phone to simulate real-life usage, the Nokia Lumia Icon’s battery life lasted ~5 hrs, about the same length as the Google Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S4, and the Apple iPhone 5S.  They did not benchmark the Nokia Lumia 928 however which I think would have been a very interested test.

So there’s clearly something there, where the Icon appears to chew battery more so than the 928.  I’m currently testing it with power usage optimizations applied to it such as:

  • Disabling NFC/tap-to-send
  • Disabling Location-based Services
  • Applying “battery saver”

We’ll see how that works out.

OTHER MATTERS
There’s been some other weirdness as well with my Icon.

  1. CHARGING PLATE
    I don’t know if it’s my device specifically but I’ve noticed that the device sometimes doesn’t start charging on the charging plate & I don’t know why.  Removing it and putting it back on does nothing and only until I plug it into a USB source does it start charging.
  2. SLOW CHARGING
    Charging appears slow relative to the 928 – how much I couldn’t say.  Part of this may have to do with my use of USB chargers that are sub-1mA.  Meanwhile, the charger that comes with the phone is an unusual 1.5mA USB micro charger that borders the charging strength of most tablets which use 2.1mA.
  3. WIFI RANGE
    Also, the WiFi seems to be weaker.  There is very clearly a signal difference in my home between the reception than the 928 got and that which the Icon gets – almost 50% less.
  4. CAMERA SPEED
    As documented in the PhoneArena benchmarks, the live camera video seems to react slower when taking photos, but also, the video preview on the screen seems to have a refresh frequency that is very noticably behind a bit which is annoying.  I assume that has to do with, again, the new 1920×1080 screen resolution, but still, I assumed that this would be taken care of due to the Qualcomm Snapdragon’s efficient integrated GPU, which is what give it it’s longer battery life when executing video playback.

Should college admissions be based on race? (a.k.a. Here we go again)

February 27, 2014

So first they decide that race should have some bearing on whether or not you’re accepted to a UC school to “diversity” reasons. 

Then they decide that race should have no relevance in college acceptance.  Intellect & preparedness is king.

Now that Asians represent 40% of UC/CalState collegiate admissions… the powers that be have decided that maybe race should have bearing on admissions after all… to the detriment of the Asian population of California.

Just… wow.

Please read and decide if this is a petition that you would like to sign (or send to anyone living in CA who is willing to participate in this petition).

The CA Senate voted on 1/30/14 to approve Senate Constitution Amendment No. 5 (SCA 5), which would allow the State of California to deny an individual or group’s rights to public education on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
Prop. 209 currently prohibits CA government institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity, specifically in the areas of 1) public employment, 2) public contracting or 3) public education.

Now SCA5 seeks to remove “public education” – so that means race/ethnicity WILL be considered in UC/Cal State admissions. If that’s the case, Asian students will be severely disadvantaged since Asians are “over-represented” in the UC system already.

What it really could mean
:
With 15% percent of the population in CA, Asian students may be “stuck” with a glass ceiling of 15% of the UC student body (as opposed to about 40% now). If you feel it’s NOT FAIR, then please go here to sign a Petition:

Please forward this message to your friends who are concerned about this issue as well.


Bars across the US react to T.J. Oshie’s final shot on goal in Team USA Hockey vs. Russia in 2014 Olympics

February 16, 2014

I just love this.  Best moment of the 2014 Olympics yet.

USA Hockey T.K. Oshie GWG vs. Russia in Columbus, Ohio
2014 Olympic Men’s Hockey Win Reaction at Mulligan’s Pub in New Jersey
2014 Sochi Olympics: USA Men’s Hockey defeats Russia in shootout–reaction from Starting Point Bar & Grill in Bayonne, New Jersey

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