The LEGO Theory

July 31, 2014

I liked this post on innovation.

Kids brains are so malleable even through teenage life, so it is important that strong connections be formed. What types of connections? Spatial awareness, complex imagination, and curiosity.

These are the values that Lego bricks instill in young kids.

I would argue that today’s LEGO is way too much, “here are the exact things you need to build X and here are the instructions”. When I was a kid we had a big box a LEGOs and just made whatever we could come up with.

Innovation requires creativity.

Which brings me to an old favorite, John Cleese discussing creativity (long but good).

Zero Rating

July 31, 2014

I wasn’t aware this practice had a name, but I was already concerned how this was just as bad, or worse, than the anti-net neutrality fast lanes. This refers to when a mobile carrier says “we won’t count data to this app against your plan”.

Fred Wilson, typically, is already thinking about it:

But what all of this zero rating activity is setting up is a mobile internet that looks a lot more like cable TV than our wide open Internet. Soon a startup will have to negotiate a zero rating plan before launching because mobile app customers will be trained to only use apps that are zero rated on their network.

I strongly encourage policy makers, policy wonks, internet activists, and anyone who cares about protecting an open internet for all to take a hard look at zero rating. Like all the best scourges, it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing

More Walls With Holes

July 30, 2014

Or more accurately, more holes in walls. The saga continues. We are up to four holes and our superintendent “thinks” he knows where the leak is now.

So tomorrow morning he comes back, shuts off water in our kitchen, and hopefully fixes it. Because this is getting old…


What if

July 30, 2014

Retweeted by @fmanjoo from @simonpalomares.

Walls Should Have No Holes

July 29, 2014

For the tiny minority who care about my personal blogs, an update to the Floors Should be Flat post.

The follow up truth is that the leak was not due to their dishwasher and the “fact” that they had a dishwasher leak wasn’t even true. That was a big fat red herring.

The reality is that the building has a pipe leak somewhere which caused both leaks. Unfortunately they haven’t figured out exactly where the leak is.

So now we have two holes in our walls to expose the pipes that are leaking (but only occasionally). Our superintendent cut them but couldn’t determine the cause this afternoon so he’s showing up early tomorrow because the leaks seem to be caused by showers upstairs. Hopefully he can figure it out.

The good news is that the building will pay for all of this. The bad news is that it’s going to get worse before it gets better…

What Should an eBook Cost?

July 29, 2014

Back to the Amazon/Hachette dispute. Again, I am not an expert here.

Amazon says eBooks should be $9.99. They obviously have a lot of data on this. That’s what they do. And they’ve concluded that a book at $9.99 earns more than the same book at $14.95 because more people buy it. And it’s not like there’s added cost to producing one more eBook.

That’s a really important concept. Each physical book costs at least X, but after the first one, the cost of producing an eBook is just keeping the website up.

As a software developer I’m quite familiar with this concept. Once the software is built, for a subscription web product, additional user licenses are basically all profit. We like license revenue.

It sounds like this dispute is completely over the book price. Hachette apparently wants $14.99 with the extra margin (for them). Amazon says $9.99. It is not about the percentage that Amazon takes. They want 30%, which is pretty standard (see Apple).

I’ve become more and more on Amazon’s side here. Hachette has been getting their authors to publish scathing comments about Amazon and Amazon has largely remained silent. Today they posted a blog explaining their position:

A key objective is lower e-book prices. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can be and should be less expensive.

And they save the Hachette slam for the end:

One more note on our proposal for how the total revenue should be shared. While we believe 35% should go to the author and 35% to Hachette, the way this would actually work is that we would send 70% of the total revenue to Hachette, and they would decide how much to share with the author. We believe Hachette is sharing too small a portion with the author today, but ultimately that is not our call.

I translate that as “greedy Hachette bastards”…


July 23, 2014

Arsenal (English Premier League) is playing a “friendly” against the NY Red Bulls. Arsenal produced this video, with their players trying NY accents (“are you talking to me?”).