Techcrunch Being Techcrunch

English / Writing

Techcrunch writer Josh Constine, on the post about the shutdown of AIM:

So, farewell to AIM and my embarrassing screen name KDog313. Being a teenager will always sound like one of your incoming messages.

Techcrunch writer Taylor Hatmaker, 10 hours later (awesome name btw):

Sharing old credentials online is a bad idea. From a security perspective, old AOL logins are a potential goldmine of personal details for anyone trying to hack your accounts.

Cloudflare Came to The Rescue

English / Writing

DSLReports:

Cloudfare has begun banning websites that coverly embed cryptocurrency miners into their website code to boost website revenues.

After the dailystormer brouhaha, i guess we’re starting to see cloudflare becoming the police of the internet. Makes sense, since their product use cases really does cater to shady website (and legit ones too of course, but shadier ones needs cloudflare the most). Anyway, good move by cloudflare. I just worry that with the scale of their operation, they might become too powerful too not become evil in the not too distant future. Facebook and Google’s history came to mind.

Cryptocurrency Finally Found The Right Product Market Fit.

English / Writing

So the best news that i hear last week is that The Pirate Bay, the pirate’s favorite never-say-die torrent indexer site, has implemented a feature(?) in which a visitor to the site will share their CPU resources to mine some cryptocurrency for the site.

Following that news, some news sites started reporting that this “feature” is actually already in place in some other, non-shady, non probably-get-yourself-arrested-if-you-use-it site as well. Oddly enough, the site that use this feature is the official website for Showtime, a cable television channel in the US.

Now, after trying to find out more about what the hell is going on, i found a site called Coin Hive, which makes flash based advertising that took over your whole screen looks like it is sent gift-wrapped direct from God itself. An easily implementable js based coin miners for your own site!

This is the future folks. I myself can’t wait to dedicate a special PCI-e slot for a GPU so that i can pay to pirate the next episode of Game of Thrones. In fact i’m looking forward to it.

Expiration of a Good Idea

English / Writing

One concept that I find valuable is that good ideas are fragile, and needs protection from the people higher up the chain in an organization.

The gist of it is that for an idea to survive the process from being born to this world from the head of some lowly staff, on the very bottom rung of an organization, to being discussed and made priority on the very top of the food chain, is a very rare trait that only the very best organization have.

It’s one of the reasons why startups are able to scale and grow so quickly. Ideas are the seeds of growth, and it can’t really run by itself to the place where it can be executed and turned into a real result. It needs to be carried and executed, by the whole organization if possible.

In a startup, a newly hired guy can directly throw out their ideas into the minds of people that can actually make decisions, and execute. In a large organization, especially if it was rife with internal politics and competitions, ideas became dangerous, it is subversive, simply because it can create change, and change is the enemy of a known working bureaucracy. So it dies, probably in mid-management.

But of course, it’s easy to think about this in abstract terms. In the real world, the how is sometimes more important than the why. Saying ideas die because of mid-management is the equivalent of explaining why food go bad if you don’t refrigerate, but if your environment is without electricity, how can you find the solution?

Well, people make do. And so does an organization. The fact that due to the food going bad, 20 people are now lying sick in bed, will cause you, or, to get out from this hypothetical situation, the organization, to find a solution to the problem. That’s when something changes. Now it begins.

It happens in Blackberry, it happens in Nokia, it happens everywhere when a business gets disrupted. But the problem is that these organizations then found out that the good ideas have already expired. Even when they adopt the good ideas, sometimes through the shotgun approach of just doing it all and see what sticks, they failed. So they fold.

That’s why I like Apple’s, or, well, Steve Jobs approach to this problem. He came in knowing that good ideas are still there, but he needs the financial report to look good. So what he did is ingenious. He fired a bunch of people, but individually interview several people, and he kept the people that he thinks still have good ideas that can be saved. One of them is Jony Ive.

Noticed that this isn’t a systemic solution to a systemic problem. It’s a very individual approach, subjective and very un-friendly to business school graduates, simply because of how unpredictable it is. It’s not scalable, hard to repeat. The ironic thing is that it is exactly hard to repeat because of how big of a conviction the people higher up the food chain needs to have over their own decisions, their people, and their execution.

Apple didn’t do what Yahoo did under Marissa Mayer, bought companies for billions in the hopes that it can rescue Yahoo. It didn’t do Blackberry, halfheartedly trying to execute their own half-baked touchscreen OS and then gave up halfway. It certainly didn’t do Nokia in trying to sell itself to Microsoft and hiding it under the guise of executing a courageous strategy.

It believes in its own people, its characters, its story. It has a pretty strong idea of what Apple actually is and it executes on their firmly held beliefs until it’s successful. iPhone didn’t sell crazily when it was first released. iPod too, and even the Mac. iMac G3 brings some money to Apple but Mac market share is so tiny it’s laughable. But the company, again believes in its own ideas and executes. They iterate again and again firmly on the back of the good ideas of their employees and nothing else.

But that’s Steve Jobs. He has enough conviction in his own little world, and has gone through a process where he values idea more than the execution (see: Steve Jobs early darling, the Lisa & Macintosh vs Apple II), and managed to find balance.

And Apple did it. It managed to come back. As far as I know, there’s been no other company or CEO that managed to do this, at least in an industry as fast-paced as hardware and software.

So no, I don’t believe ideas have an expiration date. What caused these organizations who is suddenly open to suggestion to fail is not that the ideas had gone bad, it’s simply because they lack beliefs. In this way, ideas in organizations are like religion. It ceases to exist once you stop believing in it, not because it suddenly goes bad.

Art is Supposed to Make You Feel Something

English / Writing

On Youtube there are several channels that dedicates itself to streaming music 24/7 for free. Typically these channels, at least the ones that i stumbled upon, play music that are royalty free, or made by artists who are just starting their careers and want a place where they can promote their stuff for free.

One thing that’s interesting to me though, is how forgettable these songs are.

I don’t know exactly why, probably because they are made to fit a certain mood, typically to “chill”, since i noticed the biggest channels are called “Chillhop Music” and the other is deep house, which is another name for “i want to party but i have 3 essays due so i want to both party and study at the same time”, but anyway, they really do reminded me of elevator music. The kind where you drop in an elevator or an airport, said to yourself, “well this is nice. I’m relaxed somewhat by this droning sound followed by announcement of a delay, now i’m pissed”, but you never remember what it is that were playing even 5 minutes after you came out of it.

Now, the problem is, some of the music that they’re playing on these channels are legitimately good, especially if you were paying attention. But i just for the life of me can’t remember the name of the artist or anything about the song 10 minutes later. So i wonder why.

I got my explanation along with a punch to the gut when i close the tab, and play some real music that were well reviewed, and that i truly enjoy. Something like Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Kanye West Late Registration, Sondre Lerche’s albums, or even Tyler’s latest album. They’re just pulling you in, hypnotically, telling you to drop everything and focus on the music. Even Kanye’s Yeezus, probably his most mixed-reviewed work, is unforgettable. It’s just forcing you to have an opinion about it. It does not allow you to forget.

But of course I can be biased. These are albums that i have listened to hundreds of times, so of course i remember all of the little details in Dre’s G Thang. But then i still remember listening to Sgt Pepper the first time.

It’s of course truly ridiculous to compare music played in a youtube channel called Chillhop with The Beatles, but my point still stands. Music, the good ones, forced you to remember it. It supposed to forced you to feel some type of ways about it.And it’s the same thing with all creative endeavor. If you can’t remember it, it’s probably for a very good reason, or bad, depending on how you look at it.

Googling

English / Writing

The last time i actually signed up to a forum for the sole purpose of asking a question was probably in 2008. In those days, Alltop is still a hip new thing, Guy Kawasaki is the guy to follow on Twitter, and Twitter, well, Twitter was still fun.

I remember having multiple forum accounts and being pretty active. Not anymore. These days, anytime i do have a question about anything, i can just enter my question on Google, and the answer is there, usually asked by someone who seems to have a bit more faith in his peers than i am.

The last sentence is really what sparks the idea about this post. I discovered that while working on this new job that i have, with the scale of people that came in and with me having to juggle priorities around, i have to think pretty quick. When i can’t find the answer to something technical, usually google is the place to go. And usually the first search result already contains the answer. Whether it’s from Stack Overflow, Quora, Reddit, whatever. There’s always this one guy who actually want to ask people the answer to something that he doesn’t currently know.

I then realized that what i did was actually just repeating something that i actually don’t know if it was true or not. Well, 9 times out of 10, it should work, you know, assuming. But i noticed that my faith in Google’s algorithm has reached this peak where the machine no longer just provided me with the information to curate, but it also has decided for, or at least help me reach a quick conclusion of what is a true information and what is not.

Like in a more personal setting, for example, if i was stuck with 10 people, 9 of them i know for sure are more knowledgeable than me, i’d still have more skepticism than what i hold against my googling result. I google, therefore i know the answer. But the people answering those questions are still people. They have their faults, their mistakes, their biases. And i sure as hell won’t trust someone named DragonPHP in the real world.

It’s the same thing with Facebook. You came on there, and someone posts a long-ass tirade about politics, and you think to yourself, who is this? I never met this guy once in my life. But what do i or you know, right? Facebook algorithm has decided that his post was important enough to appear on top of your news feed, so they must be right.

The funny thing about this as well is how easy we (well, I) will unconsciously prefer the result at the top and will think that they are definitely the better ones. If the result at the bottom is different, well, something must not be right with their answer. The top answer is the right one. It must be, right? I mean, how can it be wrong?

Awesome Linux Software

English / Writing

One of my favorite things about Github is that there are repositories that collects and curates a list of awesome things for a specific topic and everyone can submit a pull request and add their own awesome things to the list. Awesome-Selfhosted (a list of things that you can host on your own server) and Awesome Sysadmin (Curated list of sysadmin resources) are some of them, but this new list is also great: Awesome Linux Software. Check it out.

Dropbox Think Open Office Layout is Dead

English / Writing

From the official Dropbox blog:

Clearly, open office layouts aren’t the hotbeds of creativity designers originally hoped they would be. And with office space at a premium, private offices for everyone isn’t a realistic alternative, nor is it ideal

It’s good that people are starting to wake up to the fact that not every workers want to work in an ex-warehouse building that’s retrofitted with hip wall decoration and aeron chairs with hundreds of people constantly walking behind and breathing down your neck. This might signal a decrease in headphones sale, too. Time to sell that Sennheiser stock.

Don’t Be Afraid, This is Just a PDF. We won’t ask for your email.

Uncategorized

I was reading Drift somewhat uninteresting report on SaaS companies marketing practice when I came across this:

And I found myself laughing. I don’t know why, but it’s kind of sad/funny how content marketing has reached this stage where a legitimate company like Drift now has to write in very clear terms that they’re not asking their valuable users for any private information to simply get a PDF.

You know, like this one:

Or this one. Want a PDF? Give us your phone number, dude. It’s required.

Unfortunately, like any other perceived as “shady” or “bad” marketing practice on the internet, the truth of the matter is these tactics does work.

Especially for the majority of people who want to have a PDF (for whatever reason) copies of what they read online. They didn’t mind sharing their emails, their phone numbers, or even address. How do I know this? Because it is everywhere.

So props to Drift, I guess.

And by the way, just a reminder that your email list building campaign won’t be complete without a passive aggressive question in a huge box covering all your content: