If you’re bored…

“If you’re bored, you’re not paying attention” has been the motto on my blog for at least a couple of years.

I’m not sure where the phrase came from, but to me it’s a statement that there is always something interesting going on, if you are simply willing to take an interest, open your eyes, and pay attention to what’s going on around you.

It’s a life philosophy. It’s probably also related to my reasons for being a journalist. And it’s a good way to learn new things and re-engage when everything seems slow.

Not everyone shares that view, apparently.

To be bored by the tech world this year is to have been bored by Google Glass, self-driving cars, limitless storage and music becoming available to all, the beginnings of an epic shift in the trillion-dollar enterprise market’s center of gravity, the rise of life-changing 3D printing technologies, at least one record-setting IPO, revolutionary changes in chip design, new game consoles, the sudden proliferation of excellent non-iPad tablets, a few entertaining gloves-off courtroom brawls, rockets to Mars, private rockets to the ISS, the revitalization of greentech, a hugely botched multibillion-dollar acquisition, a revolving door of CEOs at Yahoo, the public crashing and burning of at least two overfunded startups headed by celebrity entrepreneurs, and the SWAT-team-like arrest of a German business tycoon, amateur rapper, and alleged content pirate in New Zealand.

Just to name a few things that I didn’t find particularly boring.

If you’re bored…

Where is the data?

There is data on gun use in the U.S. Unfortunately, we don’t have good access to it, which makes informed discussion almost impossible.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms collects statistics on gun sales and where those guns wind up. They know the make, model, and details of guns used in crimes throughout the country, where those guns were sold (or stolen), and many other data points. They’ve got background check data from gun sales. However, because of the Tiahrt Amendment, most of that data is unavailable to citizens — or even, it appears, to police forces.

That’s a ridiculous situation. You can’t have an informed policy debate when an entire category of highly relevant data has been locked away.

Where is the data?

How to take back control of your own social networks

cat blogging

People are increasingly dissatisfied with their social networks — the advertising, the lack of clear privacy protections, the intimations that anything you say can and will be used in a promotional manner at some point in the future — and some of them, this week, have even started to abandon them. Kim Kardashian is so upset she might even sign off of Instagram!

But social networking doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing, love it or leave it thing. In my VentureBeat column this week, I suggest a third way: Using a blog as the hub for your social universe, and sharing it out to social networks from there.

That shifts the center of gravity and puts you back in control of your own words. It makes it so that each social network is no longer the exclusive “owner” of your social life. And, in time, it might encourage us to create networked connections of our own, based on open-source standards instead of commercial platforms.

Like Mullenweg, those of us who have had blogs for a decade or more have been using them less and less, drawn to the ease of tweeting and the warm, friendly responsiveness of Facebook.

But now it’s possible to circle back to the blog without giving up the social networks. In fact, it’s increasingly easy to use a blog as the center of your social universe.

That’s because, while social networks like Facebook and Twitter are reluctant to share data out, they are eager to bring your data in. (This is why Twitter no longer lets you update your LinkedIn status from Twitter, but you can do the reverse and update your Twitter status from LinkedIn.)

So if they won’t share, fine: Make your own website the source, and share it out to various other networks as a way of staying in touch with your friends there.

Read the full story at http://venturebeat.com/2012/12/20/dylans-desk-social-networking/

Photo credit: Vicki’s Pics via photopin cc

How to take back control of your own social networks

How Microsoft can break the logjam of carrier anti-innovation

In my column this week, I return to the subject of Microsoft — and suggest a way that the company can give its Windows Phone OS a boost.

Carrier subsidies are increasingly standing in the way of innovation.

“We’re drunk off the subsidy model,” IDC analyst Ramon Llamas told VentureBeat last week.

The lure of cheap, subsidized phones underwritten by massively long two-year contracts stands in the way of competition and innovation. The big carriers use their contracts to lock in profits and help limit the customer “churn” that would otherwise make their revenues too unpredictable. But those two-year contracts keep people from upgrading as quickly as they would otherwise, stifling handset makers’ ability to get the latest models in our hands.

Carriers also stifle OS upgrades, keeping you from upgrading to the latest version of Android because they don’t want to invest the time to make it work with a string of older phones: They’ve already got you locked in to a contract, so why would they want to make your phone any better than it already is?

The U.S. is not unique in its dependence on carrier subsidies, but it’s not the only way: In many European countries, for instance, people buy their phones and SIM cards separately, without long, onerous contracts.

Some carriers are starting to see this as a wedge issue. T-Mobile, for instance, promises to do away with contracts and subsidies altogether. The carrier sees it as a more honest, direct model, and I agree: I’m done with contracts. I recently paid $245 to get out of my contract with a large carrier after I had endless problems with its service and its phones.

In an earlier column, I blamed Microsoft for not being able to solve these problems. It was an unfair criticism, but it does reveal an opportunity for the Redmond, Wash.-based software company.

We need someone to break the logjam. Could it be Microsoft?

Instead of standing by and playing the same ballgame as every other mobile phone maker, Microsoft should take a page from Apple’s book and rewrite the game. It’s got the leverage, it’s got the installed base, and it’s got a powerful weapon: cash.

Read the full story: http://venturebeat.com/2012/12/11/dylans-desk-carrier-subsidies/

How Microsoft can break the logjam of carrier anti-innovation

I’ve quantified myself. Now what?

After tracking my daily sleep hours, caffeine and alcohol consumption, mood, weight, and exercise on and off for a year, I decided to see if this data could teach me anything.

And here it is: There’s a fairly strong negative correlation between the amount of caffeine I consume and the hours I sleep (-0.45, using Google’s CORREL() function).

So, duh.

Slightly more interesting: There’s a small positive correlation between my weight and my mood (0.24). The more I weigh, the happier I am, apparently.

But everything else is almost random. Maybe I’m just too consistent in my habits, but it seems like my life is a system in relative equilibrium, and I’m not seeing any obvious optimizations here.

correlations between sleep, mood, etc


I’ve quantified myself. Now what?