Friday, March 25, 2011

Like treacle through a pipe…

Here’s what “Quick Fix Engineering” means in Redmond:

  • Release in September 2010
  • Issue a fix in December 2010
  • Deploy the fix widely in March 2011

See also: Windows Phone 7

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sentence of the day: “Myth of the rational firm” edition

Freakonomics Blog on pricing chicken wings:

After all, firms are made up of people, and if people are confused most of the time by economics, why wouldn’t that carry over to firms?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Content sellers: Sell the content…

…not the means of access.

Yesterday the New York Times announced their long-anticipated paywall pricing scheme. Per four weeks:

  • $15 for web site and mobile phone app
  • $20 for web site and tablet app
  • $35 for web site, mobile phone, and tablet

You read that right. If you want to read the same stories on your iPhone and your iPad, you have to pay full price for each. No discount. You even get to pay for the web access twice!

This is ridiculous.

If you’re selling content, sell the content. Stop nickel-and-diming us for every different means of accessing it. Nobody likes that. Amazon’s Kindle platform gets it right. Tell me how much I have to pay to read your stories, and let me read them from whatever device is convenient.

Charging full price for each additional access mode is even worse. Accessing the same content two ways is not twice as valuable as accessing it one way. Cooks Illustrated does the same thing thing, and it’s always pissed me off. I want to read the new, printed magazine in bed, and I want electronic access to the recipe and review archive. But, no, if I want both of these things, I have to pay full price for each. There’s no discount for bundling.

Publishers have seen the downside to digital distribution, as their revenues decline. It’s time to embrace the upside, the near-zero marginal cost of delivery, and give readers what they want.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Baked pasta with goat cheese

This is one of my favorite weeknight recipes lately. It gets nice acidity from the tomatoes, balanced by creaminess from the goat cheese. The best part is that you don’t pre-cook the sauce. Just throw it all together.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


During the recent aftermath of the Japanese earthquake, I’ve had one recurring thought: This sounds familiar.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Security non-story of the day

Via BusinessInsider, Verifone Trashes Square, Saying It Has "A Serious Security Flaw":

Today is a wake-up call to consumers and the payments industry. Last year, a start-up named Square introduced a credit card reader for smartphones with the goal of making it very easy for anyone to accept credit cards through a mobile device. Seems like a great idea, but there is a serious security flaw that Square has overlooked that places consumers in dire risk.

In less than an hour, any reasonably skilled programmer can write an application that will "skim" – or steal – a consumer's financial and personal information right off the card utilizing an easily obtained Square card reader.

So what? Anybody you hand your card to could be putting it through a skimmer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Square user, the 7-11 clerk, or the waiter at your favorite restaurant. There’s no Square-specific risk here. The only story is that Verifone is scared to death of the competition.

Chart of the day: Sierra Erratica edition

In the annual report of the Caltech Employees’ Federal Credit Union:


They tried to carry over the mountain motif used for the page background, but the shape of the mountain, with its decrease at the end, really wrecks the first impression of the actual trend (bar height).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How to raise a generation of assholes

Via BoingBoing:

An "A" student at a Virginia middle school was given a one-day suspension for holding open a door for a known adult who had her hands full. This violated the school security policy, which holds that the doors may only be opened centrally after visitors are vetted by a CCTV camera.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Freshness, quantified

How many fresh could it be? None. None more fresh. Via Consumer Reports, on compactified laundry powders:

P&G says its compacted Tide has improved stain removal while the smaller Gain delivers more freshness

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Great Stagnation: Snack bar implications

Economist Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution recently released a short work of non-fiction called The Great Stagnation. The central thesis is that the 20th century was an unusual time of technological “low-hanging fruit” that greatly improved everyday life with relative ease (automobiles, electricity, etc.). We face a “Great Stagnation” where the relative improvement of life for the average person will be quite modest in comparison. We’re not going to see the revolutionary improvement we’ve become accustomed to.

He may be right.