All posts in technology

An acquisition is always a failure

“But a visionary is an implementer of visions, not an acquirer of dollars. And if you consider yourself a visionary, the only honest response to your own acquisition is to admit your failure, dust yourself off, and start building your next company.” Jake Lodwick

littleBits

littleBits is an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun.”

But they had me at “no soldering”. We got Dash something along these lines for Christmas, but it required a lot of assistance from adults with soldering, various tools, etc. It was a really cool little project, but it didn’t really provide Dash (10 years old) with the kind of independence and freedom of creativity we were hoping for. The cool thing about littleBits is that it’s so easy to get started, and it really does allow kids to plug in, tinker, and build on their own. No better way to learn about technology at a young age than to have an opportunity to just play with things and see how they work.

Learn more here. There’s a community full of inspiration, and the starter kit is $89.

Thanks to Eades for the heads up via VHX.

Why you can’t trust tech press to teach you about the tech industry – Anil Dash

“We need a tech industry that values history, perspective, and a long-term view. Today, we don’t have that.”

Via.

Why People Don’t Go to SXSW

On the subject of tech conferences and why / when they’re worth going to, Michael at Cruftbox has listed a few reasons why he won’t travel to Austin this year for SXSW, making the argument that it’s now more of a business conference than a conference for individuals. Naturally a lot of this evolution stems from the event’s growth over time, and expansion beyond the initial idea around connecting people and ideas. That said, there’s a valid argument being made for what the individual stands to gain from such a multi-directional approach to conferences as we commonly know them.

I’ve said this for the last three or so years – if you want to get the most out of SXSW Interactive and really connect to individuals and ideas, and have meaningful conversations, that’s up to you, not the event – for better or for worse.

Read his thoughts here.

Winer’s “Get the Tech Back in Tech”

Take a moment if you haven’t already to read Dave Winer’s latest piece at Wired, “Get the Tech Back in Tech.” Winer outlines why, in a time when large corporations control so much of our data through their servers, having programmers as active participants in any meaningful conference is incredibly important. He suggests three changes to tech conferences (which might not apply to conferences like “Make $$$ With Your Location Based Dating App”, or a few other SXSW-like panels that just skim the surface, but who knows), and likens his argument to that of women looking around at conferences and wondering why there were no women on stage.

1. There ought to be at least one active programmer speaking at every tech conference.

2. If there are tutorials at the tech conference, there ought to be a tutorial that shows people how to operate their own server with a few apps running on it. Blogging software perhaps. Or their own news aggregator. Or their own Facebook or Twitter clone (those might come later with an installed base of users who know how to run servers).

3. If a conference is promoting APIs, it should in addition to promoting proprietary APIs, give equal time to open APIs that are not owned by any single corporation.

Good thoughts all – especially his plea for folks to remember that just because someone is a programmer, doesn’t mean they aren’t able to communicate effectively. Read the entire piece, and if you’re bulking up a panel for SX, consider whether a programmer’s perspective would add value to your talk.

Scripting News: Improving tech criticism

At the end of this year I’m thinking about the need for proper criticism of software, alongside other arts like theater, movies, music, books, travel, food and architecture. It’s finally time to stop being all gee whiz about this stuff. Tech is woven into the fabric of our culture, as much as or more so than the other arts. And it’s headed toward being even more interwoven.

Via.

Understanding Apple’s endgame

“Technology companies these days are scared to death to make a product that varies too far from Apple does because they fear being left behind. Some companies even go so far as to say that Apple’s inventions were inevitable — if that’s the case why weren’t they done before?”

read more.

Via.

Alan Parsons on Digital Recordings

“Why would anyone take recording on an iPad seriously? Of course it’s a great gimmick — perfect for the likes of Gorillaz. I think music lessons are fine on computers, iPads included. But an iPad replacing a band of great musicians in a real studio playing and interacting with their chosen real instruments together? Come on.”

Read more at Geek Dad.

Compare Google Suggest Results with Hint.fm

Hint.fm is a wonderful time-suck, offering comparisons of Google suggest results. Enlightening!

Wired 11.09: PowerPoint Is Evil

Presentations largely stand or fall on the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content. If your numbers are boring, then you've got the wrong numbers. If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in color won't make them relevant. Audience boredom is usually a content failure, not a decoration failure.

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Enemy Lurks in Briefings on Afghan War – PowerPoint

"Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. Not least, it ties up junior officers — referred to as PowerPoint Rangers — in the daily preparation of slides, be it for a Joint Staff meeting in Washington or for a platoon leader’s pre-mission combat briefing in a remote pocket of Afghanistan. "

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The Good and the Bad Regarding AT&T’s New Data Plans

Daring Fireball has some useful information for those of us digesting the news of AT&T's new data plan.

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Checking Your AT&T Data Usage

Great (and simple) tip on how to keep up with your data. This is especially useful if you travel abroad.

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Apple is Now Outflanked on their iTunes Business Model for Music and Internet Radio

While Apple still enjoys tremendous acceptance in the market, their current revenue and use model for iTunes and the iPod is under pressure on several fronts. While it is anticipated that Apple will adapt their model in the near future, here’s why they may not command the hegemony that they now enjoy.

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What is content, then?

"So when I complain about the iPad hampering our ability to create content, I mean that it makes it harder to share links and thoughts and images when I wish it had made it easier. And the apps media companies are making also make it hard to share our views and link into or out of their closed worlds. When they do that, they are shutting themselves off from the content people create every day and the value it holds."

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