A powerful film about Climate Change

Time to Choose is a beautifully crafted film about climate change that’s a must see. It’s visually stunning, well written, and perfectly stark about the potential threat. It clearly spared no expense in going to the corners of the world — Nigeria, Indonesia, West Virginia and many others — to bring us imagery of human behavior that makes the flood of warnings less abstract.

By no means a reason not to watch, but it’s a bit strange that viewing this is time bombed on Huff Post…I guess they’re going to try to monetize the film via other distribution. It would seem that this is something that should be free, and seen by all. The other problem is that it really needs shorter, bite-sized chunks for the A.D.D. generation. There are essential points buried in the middle of the gorgeous film that may not be gotten to.

A permalink to Charles Ferguson’s site is here.


Motivating Siri

For many reasons, Apple’s entry into a category tends to stimulate broader consumer technology press consideration. Watch is a great recent example, where Cupertino’s entrant was neither the first, most featured, nor most affordable.

Today Mark Gurman broke the rumor broke that Apple would introduce “Proactive”1 at WWDC, something that looks a lot like Google Now – a cool technology that’s been in market for years.

The contrast between today’s Siri and Google Now is so stark that it’s arguable they are different categories. Whereas Siri is like an obedient and (mostly) charming servant who is fluent in a narrow range of things (and happy to search the web for everything else), Google Now tries to go far beyond that to anticipate what might information be helpful in any given moment. What kind of admin would you prefer: the one that was mostly competent when you ask for something very specific, or the one that’s proactive (clevah)?

But there’s a fine line between an admin with a bias for action, and one that pesters. Don Draper probably doesn’t want to be interrupted when he’s sleeping it off. Getting the delivery of proactivity right is tricky. Again the Watch is a good example: once people were wearing a notification endpoint on their body, the normal volume of notifications were overwhelming to many, and a frequent early complaint.

I’ve always thought Siri’s passive approach (tell me what you want) limited it to scenarios where voice input was both more efficient and socially acceptable – like in a car. Google Now, is not bounded nearly as much. This data would support that:

Google Now vs. Siri vs. Cortana

Google Now vs. Siri vs. Cortana (Source: PhoneArena, April 2015)

Much as Android gives Google easy access to personal information in your Gmail, Google Calendar, search history, Google Maps, etc., it looks like Apple is ready to use its access to their analogues in iOS, OS X, iCloud to offer something that goes far beyond what they’ve had. Siri is getting off his/her duff.

I think another interesting angle here is Apple’s ability to promise — quite credibly, since they make their money off hardware and transactions — that its version of a Personal Assistant will not be there to sell you ads.

Perhaps it’s coincidence, but I think the recent presence of Watch in the endpoint mix makes the timing great for Proactive’s introduction. Even though the notification tuning was poor out of the gate for Watch, the device’s location and haptics give Proactive a much richer canvas.

It’s possible that Apple’s control of its atoms and pixels gives it chance to introduce a far more personal Personal Assistant.

1 Is it me, or does that name sound like an acne med?


Conspicuous (Canine) Consumption

This probably wasn’t Apple’s top segment priority when thinking about China, but it’s a lovely bonus. The dog’s owner apparently thought that getting a gold Apple edition for all four legs (instead of just two) seemed “too uncouth.”


Alcazar of Seville

In April 2015 I had a chance to visit Seville for a few hours before heading off on a bike trip in the Andalusian mountains. The Alcazar in Seville (alcazar is a general term for castle) offers stunning sights — in particular the ornate Moorish interiors, and beautiful gardens studded with fountains.

Andalusia Cycling 2015

I’d love to be able to say that this trip was a result of deep research to find the most optimal cycling adventure in the world. Terrain that would be challenging yet doable. Weather that would be great but not stifling. Enough support to keep this novice alive and happy. Etc.

Really what it came down to was finding a one-week trip in Europe that would start after the 18th of April (when I knew I’d be at my cousin Kristin’s birthday party in Vienna). I stumbled upon a fantastic trip managed by Trek, and all I really needed to do was get to Seville’s train station, and Trek took care of the rest. Here are some images from an incredible trip with fun people and exceptional guides:

“Small wonder that so many play dirty”

Life is a game with many rules but no referee. One learns how to play it more by watching it than by consulting any book, including the Holy Book. Small wonder, then, that so many play dirty, that so few win, that so many lose.

It’s graduation time again.  Most commencement addresses are pretty much dreck, but occasionally you get the one that’s remarkable. Thanks to Erik Blachford’s FB post today I saw a pointer to this one from Joseph Brodsky, given in 1988 at the University of Michigan (Hail!). The whole thing is worth the quick read, but the following is from Rule 6:

The world you are about to enter and exist in doesn’t have a good reputation. It’s been better geographically than historically; it’s still far more attractive visually than socially. It’s not a nice place, as you are soon to find out, and I rather doubt that it will get much nicer by the time you leave it. Still, it’s the only world available; no alternative exists, and if one did, there is no guarantee that it would be much better than this one. It is a jungle out there, as well as a desert, a slippery slope, a swamp, etc. — literally — but, what’s worse, metaphorically, too. Yet, as Robert Frost has said, “The best way out is always through.” He also said, in a different poem, though, that “to be social is to be forgiving.” It’s with a few remarks about this business of getting through that I would like to close.

Try not to pay attention to those who will try to make life miserable for you. There will be a lot of those — in the official capacity as well as the self-appointed. Suffer them if you can’t escape them, but once you have steered clear of them, give them the shortest shrift possible. Above all, try to avoid telling stories about the unjust treatment you received at their hands; avoid it no matter how receptive your audience may be. Tales of this sort extend the existence of your antagonists; most likely they are counting on your being talkative and relating your experience to others. By himself, no individual is worth an exercise in injustice (or for that matter, in justice). The ratio of one-to-one doesn’t justify the effort: it’s the echo that counts. That’s the main principle of any oppressor, whether state-sponsored or autodidact. Therefore, steal, or still, the echo, so that you don’t allow an event, however unpleasant or momentous, to claim any more time than it took for it to occur.