Obama administration says the world’s servers are ours →

July 15, 2014 |

In essence, President Barack Obama’s administration claims that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even if the content is stored overseas. It’s a position Microsoft and companies like Apple say is wrong, arguing that the enforcement of US law stops at the border.

The US government’s total lack of respect for their citizens’ privacy knows no borders. Shameful.

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Microsoft Is The Very Antithesis Of Strategy →

July 15, 2014 |

Excellent article by John Kirk on the strategic mistakes Microsoft keeps making in its repeated attempts to recover the dominant position they held during the 90’s. Very appropriate in light of Satya Nadella’s recent public email about the future of the company:

Microsoft could learn much from Sun Tzu. Over the past fifteen to twenty years, Microsoft has engaged in the very worst kind of generalship. Microsoft has allowed their competitors to join forces and successfully scheme against them. Microsoft has responded to the successes of their competitors by forswearing their strongest weapons, abandoning their strongest defensive positions and rushing to attack their competitors wherever they may be, even if those battlefields were located where Microsoft was at its weakest and their competitors were are at their strongest. When these attacks inevitably failed, Microsoft resorted to wars of attrition. Yet in these wars of attrition, it was Microsoft, not their opponents, who suffered most, taking disproportionally greater losses than they inflicted.

Via Jean-Louis Gassée, who utterly destroys Nadella’s purposefully vague and cryptic words.

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Shawn Blanc on Working From Home and Running a Business →

July 10, 2014 |

Below I want to share with you the things I do to try and keep myself healthy. In 20 years from now I hope to be doing even better creative work than I am today. But that means in the mean time I need to stay physically healthy, creatively energized, all while continuing to run a profitable business. The good news is: it’s totally doable.

Indispensable read if you work from home or if you’re considering it. Don’t skip a word.

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Novak Djokovic triumphs in five-set thriller | Wimbledon →

July 07, 2014 |

To describe this final as riveting is to sell it a long way short. We knew beforehand that it would be intense. But there must be some official IBM match statistic somewhere to prove that the near-15,000 spectators on the Centre Court and goodness knows how many millions at home were entirely shorn of all fingernails at the conclusion, such was the nervous chewing of digits inspired by the extraordinary exploits on court.

I told you it was going to be a good one.

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Wimbledon 2014: Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic →

July 06, 2014 |

Today is the most special day of the year in men’s tennis calendar: the day of the Wimbledon final. Roger Federer will try to win a unprecedented 8th Wimbledon title against Novak Djokovic, the 2011 champion:

Of course, we need look back only 12 months to find a player who did not blow the opposition away in every match throughout the Fortnight, but then came spectacularly good in the final to win in straight sets. Djokovic was on the wrong end of the result that day, and funnily enough will be intent upon reversing the story this time around. He may well succeed. But Federer will grab this latest chance – we have surely learned by now not to describe it as his last – with both hands. The 2014 final is an absolutely intriguing prospect.

For all intents and purposes, Novak Djokovic should be the favorite to win today. But you should count Federer out only at your own risk.

Federer is well past his prime and yet, there’s still something special about his game; a certain kind of magic no one can match. The grass of Centre Court is where he’s been most successful, a place where he seems able to turn back the clock to his awe-inspiring days. It is truly a joy to watch.

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Happy anniversary, Curiosity →

July 01, 2014 |

It’s been exactly 687 Earth-days (one Martian year) since Curiosity landed on Mars:

One of Curiosity’s first major findings after landing on the Red Planet in August 2012 was an ancient riverbed at its landing site. Nearby, at an area known as Yellowknife Bay, the mission met its main goal of determining whether the Martian Gale Crater ever was habitable for simple life forms. The answer, a historic “yes,” came from two mudstone slabs that the rover sampled with its drill. Analysis of these samples revealed the site was once a lakebed with mild water, the essential elemental ingredients for life, and a type of chemical energy source used by some microbes on Earth. If Mars had living organisms, this would have been a good home for them.

Even in an era of such technological prowess, I still can’t believe we’ve managed to place a selfie-taking, remote-controlled robot on the surface of Mars. These are truly interesting times to be alive, as we’re starting to venture beyond the confines of our cozy little blue home.

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Withings Activité: Dumb is the new Smart →

June 25, 2014 |

Interesting new smartwatch from Withings. To me, its main appeal is that it looks nothing like a typical smartwatch. Instead, it looks like a traditional, high-quality analog watch, and it does have a certain classic vibe to it. I wouldn’t mind wearing one.

It’s still too early to say whether the Activité will succeed where others have failed, though. For one thing, what kind of product is this? Who does it appeal to? Feature-wise, it is essentially a fitness tracker disguised as a watch, basically a nice-looking Fitbit. But as a fitness tracker it doesn’t make sense: at $390, it’s almost four times as expensive as most other fitness-tracking gadgets, all of which offer a similar set of features.

However, at the same time, $390 is still considerably less than the cost of a typical high-end watch and people have no problem paying for those, so it’s possible it could work. But it clearly makes more sense to think of this as a watch with some extra features, instead of a fitness tracker that looks like a watch.

The question is, then: is there a significant overlap between both demographics? Or, to put it another way, are people who buy nice watches interested in tracking their fitness? The success of the Activité will probably hinge on the answer to that question.

Via The Loop.

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Bill Watterson Briefly Returns to the Comics Page →

June 09, 2014 |

Wow. Bill Watterson, THE Bill Watterson, returned to the comics page for the first time in 19 years to ghost-write a few panels of Pearls Before Swine:

Let me tell you. Just getting an email from Bill Watterson is one of the most mind-blowing, surreal experiences I have ever had. Bill Watterson really exists? And he sends email? And he’s communicating with me? But he was. And he had a great sense of humor about the strip I had done, and was very funny, and oh yeah…. …He had a comic strip idea he wanted to run by me. Now if you had asked me the odds of Bill Watterson ever saying that line to me, I’d say it had about the same likelihood as Jimi Hendrix telling me he had a new guitar riff. And yes, I’m aware Hendrix is dead.

Bill Watterson is famous for being fiercely protective of his own privacy. He almost never, ever comes out of hiding. He doesn’t do interviews or talks, unless it’s an extremely special occasion. It just doesn’t happen. He’s a legendary character and yet very few people have actually met him.

The fact that he voluntarily stepped out of anonymity to do something like this is incredibly amazing. If I was Stephan Pastis I’d also feel like I’d just met Santa Claus.

But why reappear now, if only for a brief moment? Could it be that he actually misses the comics page? Could it be the first step towards a more extended return?

Here’s hoping.

Via Ren.

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