The Media Helped Make Trump

Trump is not just an instant ratings/circulation/clicks gold mine; he’s the motherlode. He stepped on to the presidential campaign stage precisely at a moment when the media is struggling against deep insecurities about its financial future. The truth is, the media has needed Trump like a crack addict needs a hit.

Ann Curry

No Women Who Worked on the Original Mac Are Cast in the Upcoming Steve Jobs Movie

There are these incredible photographs from the launch of the Macintosh in the 80’s, and the Rolling Stone pictures that were published. The historic record shows this group of 10 people in a pyramid–actually 11, seven men and four women. Every photograph you see with the Mac team has Joanna Hoffman, who was the product manager, a great teammate of Steve Jobs, and Susan Kare who did all the graphics and user interface on the artist side. None of them made it into the Jobs movie. They’re not even cast. And every man in the photographs is in the movie with a speaking role. It’s debilitating to our young women to have their history almost erased.

— Megan Smith, chief technology officer of the United States, on Charlie Rose.

Before Spotify solved the problem with music forever, esoteric taste was a measure of commitment. When every band was more or less difficult to hear by virtue of its distance from a major label, what you liked was a rough indicator of the resources you had invested in music. If you liked the New York City squat-punk band Choking Victim, it was a sign you had flipped through enough records and endured enough party conversations to hear about Choking Victim. The bands you listened to conveyed not just the particular elements of culture you liked but also how much you cared about culture itself.

Like blasted pecs or a little rhinestone flag pin, esoteric taste in music is an indicator of values. Under the heel of the major-label system in the early ’90s, indie taste meant more than liking weird bands. To care about obscure bands was to reject the perceived conformity of popular culture, to demand a more nuanced reading of the human experience than Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby” and therefore to assert a certain kind of life. That assertion was central to my identity as a young adult, and I found that people who shared it were more likely to agree with me on seemingly unrelated issues. Like all aesthetics, taste in music is a worldview.

Streaming Music Has Left Me Adrift

Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.

Apple’s control model works not just because of Steve Jobs’s excellence, but also because of how he organized the company. At Apple — just like Google — the leaders are product people with technical backgrounds. When you build a team of great, smart creatives, and put the world’s uber-smart creative in charge, then you have a good chance of being right most of the time. And when you are right most of the time, then a highly controlled model can yield tremendous innovation.

It’s like criticizing your children. Because I like Apple so much I want to make sure they’re not doing anything that will be a problem later. And this comes from the experience of Apple nearly going out of business in the ’90s. They’re no longer that underdog, but I’m looking at everything they do and saying, “Are you doing everything you should in the way that you should? Are your products living up to the ideals you set for yourselves?” I don’t write these reviews of Windows. I could never muster up the enthusiasm or indignity.

The two markets where iPhone sales are effectively at parity with Android are the USA and Japan, and those are also the two markets where the subsidy structure means that the iPhones is not at a big price premium to Android. This is probably not a co-incidence. Meanwhile, we also see strong indications that the second-hand market for iPhones, mostly in the $2-300 range, is also extremely strong. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to suppose that a new, attractive iPhone in this segment would be highly competitive. So, such a phone would sell, and sell well, and take a big chunk of the most valuable Android customers. Not, of course, the ones who value ‘open’ and the Google ecosystem above everything else, but true enthusiasts are a minority on both Android and iOS.

Benedict Evans, writing about cheap iPhones. It’s still a mystery to me why seven years after its introduction, Apple still hasn’t filled out the iPhone product line the way it did with the iPod and the way it’s starting to do with the iPad. Even more when you consider how much emphasis Tim Cook places on increasing Apple’s performance in developing markets.

To complain is to tell the truth. People who refuse to complain, and insist on having a positive outlook, are monsters. Their optimism is a poison. If given the chance they will sell you out.

I’m a pessimistic person by nature and I tend to take the negative view of a lot of situations. I try to be conscious of it and not let it completely take over my outlook, but it is how I’m wired and I don’t see much value out of denying that or fighting it.

Working in software though I think pessimism is an asset. A software project’s natural state is failure. All software projects want to end in failure, and it takes constant hard work for them to avoid that fate.

Writing software is really hard. Throughout my career, I’ve found that the best programmers understand this instinctively. It’s this understanding of the difficulties involved that often leads to a pessimistic outlook. This in turn enables them to keep a constant focus on how a project is proceeding, and helps them to understand the level of effort required to ship successfully. In my experience this is an essential component of a good engineer’s makeup.

(Quote via Buzz Andersen.)