My daily readings 08/12/2010

  • tags: lifestyle

    • This only makes sense if you place a high value on mobility.

      Many people value putting down roots and committing to a city or neighborhood. This often comes from having many tangled connections to other people.

      My life isn’t just about me anymore. It’s about my wife, kids, and our extended family. If we were to move around a lot, each move would require the whole family to change their lifestyles, as opposed to just one person.

      Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of nomadic families, but they are more rare than nomadic individuals because of the increased complexity.

      For those of us who aren’t as passionate about the


      nomadic lifestyle, settling down makes sense. And, if you’re going to settle down, ownership is the way to go, especially of your house.

      A great neighborhood is worth a lot of money. Good neighbors, good schools, good transit to work, and so on. If you’re renting a house which provides those things, the idea that a landlord can take it all away isn’t pleasant.

  • tags: Education

  • tags: Startup launch

    • That’s one of the canonical dumb investor questions. We try not to ask those. Google could blow most startups out of the water if they chose to focus on building exactly the same thing. What protects startups is that in practice big competitors can only focus on a limited number of things at once.

      User indifference is a much, much greater danger for startups than competitors, big or small. So we advise startups to focus on that. What’s going to kill you is the Back button, not Google.

  • tags: Android gesture

    • Back in March, Google launched an experimental new app for Android called Gesture Search. It’s an awesome idea: you can search for anything on your device simply by writing a letter with your finger on the touchscreen. Today, they’ve made it even more accesible thanks to a new flip-to-activate feature.
    • Google is smart to play up these types of features as they’re something Apple is unlikely to allow with the iPhone (granted, it was Google who made this particular app). Between this, voice search, and Swype, the awesome keyboard replacement app, Android is getting some really innovative ways to interact with your phone.
  • tags: Startup launch

    • We were determined to take part in Y Combinator, so we spent weeks crafting our entry and polishing Rapportive. At the start of March, we were finally ready. We held our breath and clicked “Submit”. We looked at each other, relaxed, and slowly started to breathe again. A few hours passed uneventfully. We were in no way prepared for what happened next.

      Somehow, the press had found us. TheNextWeb ran the first piece. ReadWriteWeb picked it up after that. Then Lifehacker. Then WebWorkerDaily. We had headlines like: “Stop What You Are Doing & Install This Plug-In.” Our twitter account was aflame with thousands of mentions in just a few hours. We had accidentally launched.

  • tags: Startup Culture

    • I didn’t realize the answer till later, after I went to work at
      Yahoo. It was neither of my guesses. The reason Yahoo didn’t care
      about a technique that extracted the full value of traffic was that
      advertisers were already overpaying for it. If they merely extracted
      the actual value, they’d have made less money.
    • One of the weirdest things about Yahoo when I went to work there
      was the way they insisted on calling themselves a “media company.”
      If you walked around their offices, it seemed like a software
      company. The cubicles were full of programmers writing code, product
      managers thinking about feature lists and ship dates, support people
      (yes, there were actually support people) telling users to restart
      their browsers, and so on, just like a software company. So why
      did they call themselves a media company?

      One reason was the way they made money: by selling ads. In 1995
      it was hard to imagine a technology company making money that way.
      Technology companies made money by selling their software to users.
      Media companies sold ads. So they must be a media company.

    • It’s hard for anyone much younger than me to understand the fear
      Microsoft still inspired in 1995. Imagine a company with several
      times the power Google has now, but way meaner. It was perfectly
      reasonable to be afraid of them. Yahoo watched them crush the first
      hot Internet company, Netscape. It was reasonable to worry that
      if they tried to be the next Netscape, they’d suffer the same fate.
      How were they to know that Netscape would turn out to be Microsoft’s
      last victim?
    • The worst consequence of trying to be a media company was that they
      didn’t take programming seriously enough. Microsoft (back in the
      day), Google, and Facebook have all had hacker-centric cultures.
      But Yahoo treated programming as a commodity. At Yahoo, user-facing software
      was controlled by product managers and designers. The job of
      programmers was just to take the work of the product managers and
      designers the final step, by translating it into code.

      One obvious result of this practice was that when Yahoo built things,
      they often weren’t very good. But that wasn’t the worst problem.
      The worst problem was that they hired bad programmers.

    • They
      preferred good programmers to bad ones, but they didn’t have the
      kind of single-minded, almost obnoxiously elitist focus on hiring
      the smartest people that the big winners have had. And when you
      consider how much competition there was for programmers when they
      were hiring, during the Bubble, it’s not surprising that the quality
      of their programmers was uneven.

      In technology, once you have bad programmers, you’re doomed. I
      can’t think of an instance where a company has sunk into technical
      mediocrity and recovered. Good programmers want to work with other
      good programmers. So once the quality of programmers at your company
      starts to drop, you enter a death spiral from which there is no

    • The first time I visited Google, they had about 500 people, the
      same number Yahoo had when I went to work there. But boy did things
      seem different. It was still very much a hacker-centric culture.
      I remember talking to some programmers in the cafeteria about the
      problem of gaming search results (now known as SEO), and they asked
      “what should we do?” Programmers at Yahoo wouldn’t have asked that.
      Theirs was not to reason why; theirs was to build what product
      managers spec’d. I remember coming away from Google thinking “Wow,
      it’s still a startup.”
    • Why would great programmers want to work for a company that didn’t
      have a hacker-centric culture, as long as there were others that
      did? I can imagine two reasons: if they were paid a huge amount,
      or if the domain was interesting and none of the companies in it
      were hacker-centric. Otherwise you can’t attract good programmers
      to work in a suit-centric culture. And without good programmers
      you won’t get good software, no matter how many people you put on
      a task, or how many procedures you establish to ensure “quality.”

      Hacker culture often seems kind of irresponsible. That’s why people
      proposing to destroy it use phrases like “adult supervision.” That
      was the phrase they used at Yahoo. But there are worse things than
      seeming irresponsible. Losing, for example.

  • tags: NodeJs

  • tags: Personality language

  • tags: Foursquare

  • tags: Read Reader

  • tags: html5

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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