This comparative chart appeared in one of The Wall Street Journal‘s articles this week:
We’ve seen products create, rejuvenate, and expand small, crowded markets before, but I’m certainly not claiming this about AM at this point. It is also definitely true that Apple Music currently has zero users, free or paid. But looking at the users row in this chart can be very misleading. Here’s Jan Dawson on Twitter:
>400m people with app auto installed plus 3 months free should add up to lots of paying users a few months from now for Apple Music
In this crowded business, Apple also owns one of the platforms on which these services are competing.
Given 400 million iOS users and the day old news of Spotify reaching 20 million paid subscribers, roughly 1 in 20 iOS users would have to renew their 3-month trial for Apple Music to become the biggest music subscription service in the world.
Roughly, but probably not more: this disregards the fact Apple Music will also be available on Android, that 400 million is actually a conservative estimate for the number of active iOS users, and that Spotify — barring any retaliative moves — is bound to lose some of its paying customers to Apple. If we take those into account, and despite Apple Music launching in “only” one hundred countries, a conversion rate of 3-4% is going to be just enough.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see this milestone celebrated — surely not outwardly — but I sure do hope Apple is aiming for much more than just the number one spot.
So, the real headline a few months from now would be Apple not having become the biggest paid music service in the world.Share:
There’s a writer living in my head, and he’s a genius.
Or so he tries to convince me, as his prose flows freely day in and out, filling most idle moments– while I’m showering, driving, dining, taking out the trash, or performing any of the other mundane tasks of daily life. His prose is brilliant– his points always well aligned, his recall of long-ago events and facts uncannily perfect, and his agility in seamlessly transitioning from one topic to the next is above reproach. He never needs spell-check or a thesaurus, and he never struggles to find the right way to approach the topic. His efforts are frequently interrupted by periods of basking in the glorious reception he imagines for his easy labors, and is certain that untold rewards are sure to follow.
Unfortunately, this genius is a huge jerk.
There’s a draft I have lying around titled Pilcrow Angst. Had the genius writer in me showed up to write it, it would read exactly like this.
I came across Eric’s weblog because another piece of his regarding Apple’s new ad-filtering API is currently trending on Hacker News. Read it too. And check out his other posts — good stuff.Share:
An Apple partisan might argue it just wants to give users control of their iPhone experience, and having debuted extensions in the last version of iOS, allowing them to alter web content is a natural next step.
An Apple realist might argue that its great rival Google makes more than 90 percent of its revenue from online advertising — a growing share of that on mobile, and a large share of that on iPhone. Indeed, Google alone makes about half of all global mobile advertising revenue. So anything that cuts back on mobile advertising revenue is primarily hurting its rival.
They had it coming! was my knee-jerk reaction too, but as I wrote in Adblock & Collective Punishment, I oppose ad-blocking as a blanket policy.Share:
Ross Ulbricht, founder and mastermind of the Silk Road, has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of narcotics conspiracy and other charges earlier this year.
Well, this place has been dormant for a while, hasn’t it?
“Dormant” might not be the right word because this was never supposed to be your source for breaking news. Maybe breaking views. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
There are so many things I want to write about.
That man. Worth writing a whole book about him.
My grandfather died one and a half years ago. Me, my father, and my sister were on a vacation when that happened.
In London. Two thousand miles away from Israel.
We couldn’t catch a flight early enough to make it to the funeral.
But this isn’t going to be a post about Grandpa.
There are parts of your life that are so significant, you can’t just write about them. Everything feels reductive. And you never want to settle for that. It’s like that bottom-most drawer that contains so many… things. You don’t just open that. How do you make sense of it all? How can you get any one thing out for strangers to see, leaving the others hidden, never to be shown?
It could never do this man justice.
So I’ve never written about Grandpa, and probably never will.
But I would like to tell you a story.
This is not a post about Grandpa.
My grandfather was born on the 13th of March, 1938. As a teenager, he was already working the land in a town 15 miles away from his small village. He had no car, so to avoid the commute, he often slept in the field, or in a nearby cave in the mountains.
He started out working for others, but before long had enough to buy his own piece of land. Landowners from his village found the commute and the hard labour too much. They preferred to work closer to home.
For twenty years, my grandfather worked close to twenty hours a day. When my father and his brothers were old enough, he gradually left the day-to-day management to them. But he never, in his life, missed a day of work. The fact his body couldn’t do as much anymore didn’t mean his head and heart weren’t devoted to the (now-expanded) business and its future.
Grandpa was a man of vision. He amassed all of his assets single-handedly.
He was also a religious man.
“Any dollar you make by means of deception or with unclean intentions, you will lose ten against,” he would say, with a stern smile on his sun-beaten face.
He loved the land, not for its future worth as real estate, but for what it was now. “My late father always told me, never trade a piece of land for something that air can pass under,” he once told me, meaning – never trade land for money or anything that isn’t land.
My grandfather was an agronomist. “I’m a farmer, you can leave that fancy word to those with a diploma on their wall.” Okay, my grandfather was a farmer. He never felt it was a derogatory term, so neither should I.
Indeed, Grandpa’s clothes — plain jeans, khaki shirt, and Tembel hat — did well to camouflage his acumen. I owe much of my financial security — so scarce these days — to his sweat and tears.
But this isn’t a post about Grandpa.
So, the story.
My grandfather owned several herds of livestock. Some were his, and others were jointly owned.
One day, his partner in one of the herds informed him that he wanted to part ways. “Okay, how would you like to do it?,” asked Grandpa.
“I don’t know, friend, it’s a herd, you know. There are milk cows and there are calves, and sheep. They are all different ages and sizes. How in the world are we going to split a herd?”
“Well, we could appoint a…”
“I don’t want to spend no money on middlemen! I don’t have the money.”
“Alright,” said Grandpa. He nodded his head towards two cups of coffee that were now in front of them, inviting his nervous partner to relax a little.
How could there possibly be a solution that would leave both men feeling they got a fair deal?
“I’ll tell you what. You head to the field now, and you divide the herd into two groups. After you do that, call me. I’ll come by and choose the half I like better.”
The man was speechless.
“Or, we can do it the opposite way — I split, you choose.”
And that’s the story of how you split a herd of cattle fairly.
It’s not about Grandpa.Share:
The UK government has quietly passed new legislation that exempts GCHQ, police, and other intelligence officers from prosecution for hacking into computers and mobile phones.
While major or controversial legislative changes usually go through normal parliamentary process (i.e. democratic debate) before being passed into law, in this case an amendment to the Computer Misuse Act was snuck in under the radar as secondary legislation. According to Privacy International, “It appears no regulators, commissioners responsible for overseeing the intelligence agencies, the Information Commissioner’s Office, industry, NGOs or the public were notified or consulted about the proposed legislative changes… There was no public debate.”
“I, the government of the United Kingdom — established for the sole purpose of ensuring the liberty of the people of this land — hereby restrict citizens from hacking into computers. I deem my many extensions and branches, however, completely exempt from prosecution for doing the same thing to citizens, for any reason.”
Is there a more flagrant violation of a people’s rights? Oversight for all, but not government? Made possible behind closed doors?
I know a definition for this.Share:
Every time I needed to use Handoff to contact someone, especially calling, I thought to myself “surely there’s an Alfred workflow that shortcuts all this clicking.”
I finally Googled it this afternoon. Bingo.
Simply precede a contact’s name with Call, SMS, or IM. A tiny quibble is that it opens the Contacts app in the background (minimized) after each query.Share:
Freakonomics radio’s latest show was very intriguing:
Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer, presiding over a corporate culture that most corporations wouldn’t recognize. Among Hsieh’s priorities at Zappos: having fun, empowering his call-center employees, and making customers happy at almost any cost. We’ve written about Hsieh and Zappos before – how, for instance, company meetings are sometimes held in a bar. And why customer reps are encouraged to talk to a customer for as long as they want, all without a script, how they authorized to settle problems without calling in a supervisor and can even “fire” a customer who makes trouble for them. And how Zappos gives new employees a chance to quit their brand-new job and get a quitting “bonus” because Hsieh figures he’d rather weed out anyone who doesn’t really, really want to work at Zappos.
Now Hsieh (pronounced shay) has basically bought part of downtown Vegas for $350 million. “The Downtown Project,” as it’s called, is merely interesting per se, but anything this guy does, I want to know more about.Share:
WikiLeaks has published all the Sony emails that had been hacked last November, and made them searchable by keyword. In 2014, a senior executive emailed an Ivy League vice-president of philanthropy: he’d like to endow a scholarship, anonymously, ‘at the $1mm level’. In another email, he tells a development officer that his daughter is applying to the college as her first choice. It’s all very decorous. The development staff arrange a ‘customised’ campus tour for his daughter and a meeting with the university’s president; but he asks for no favours and nothing is promised. An email from the president says that his daughter’s application will be looked at ‘very closely’. She gets in. He writes to his sister: ‘David… called me. he is obsessed with getting his eldest in Harvard next year.’ She replies: ‘If David wants to get his daughter in he should obviously start giving money.’ Obviously.
Compelling yet concise laundry list by Nick Kolenda:
Welcome to a massive list of psychological pricing strategies.
Whether you’re launching a new product, selling items on eBay, or negotiating a deal on your house, you’ll learn how to choose a price that will maximize your profit.
Kolenda got some heat for some of the techniques he mentioned, but to be fair he emphasizes the purpose of his compilation upfront. It’s one surely worth contemplating.Share:
Yesterday, less than an hour before an entirely different version of this review was about to go live, I received an email from Pocket’s community manager, Justin:
Hello again, Shibel!
I have some great news for you – we finally heard back from our search partner, and were able to track down the the cause of some of the search operator issues that you reported.
The good news were that almost four weeks after I’ve reported a series of bugs, Pocket Premium’s search was no longer dysfunctional. The not so good news, for me at least, were that the 2,508-word review that I was about to publish was rendered irrelevant.
This made me think about why technology fascinates me to the extent it does, especially web and software: If you ship a tangible product with faulty hardware design, like a phone, you’re screwed. At least until your next production batch. If you launch a broken web app, though, you can fix the most significant of issues very quickly. Your only dependencies are your own priorities and skills.
Anyway, here’s the revised review.
The way I organize what I read online, which I wrote about in January, has changed. This is a review of Pocket Premium and my experiences while using it as the sole tool for reading and filing articles. I’ve been using Pocket Premium for almost a month now, testing it very actively for the first two weeks.
For me, a good bookmarking service allows the user to send links independently of where they are, or what OS they’re using. At home, I have a MacBook and an iPad. At work, I’m forced to work on Windows PCs with corporate settings, something that prevents me from customizing them for my needs. I can’t install bookmarklets or browser extensions, let alone applications.
It doesn’t help, either, that I work in a news-desk, which at many stages of the day can be an inordinately busy and chaotic place. This means that I can’t bring my MacBook there, because someone will inevitably spill coffee, sit, or stomp on it. Moreover, I often have to give my seat pretty quickly during sudden emergencies and events, so staying logged in to my web accounts isn’t an option. Try standing in the way of a producer whose interviewee isn’t picking up two minutes before his show starts.
The way things worked previously was that I used Pocket (the free version) not only as a read later service, but also as a “docking station” for stuff that I may want to save to Evernote for future reference. What I save doesn’t have to be an article: it can be a YouTube video, a product homepage that I want to check out later, or a tweet with an embedded image1.
So, at different stages of the day I’d scan my Pocket list, and there would usually be three kinds of items on it:
Articles that I saved to read later: This is the typical use case of Pocket. Some of these articles would be tagged and sent to Evernote once they’re read, and some would get archived inside Pocket.
Articles that I’ve already read and wanted to save to Evernote: Funny, but Pocket was (and is) better at sending bookmarks to Evernote than Evernote’s own apps.
All kinds of other content and media that weren’t really text, but that I wanted to save for one reason or another.
For this type of role, Pocket has a few strong advantages over its competitors:
Wider and better support by browsers and third party developers.
A better sharing system on iOS: Pocket uses its own share sheet and supports export to a plethora of services. Better yet, sharing is done in-house, meaning you don’t have to leave to the destination app to share something from Pocket. For Evernote, you can tag an article quickly from the share sheet, something that isn’t possible in Instapaper because it sends you to the Evernote app. Which, you know, sucks just like Evernote’s apps.
Save by email: I called this the “X factor” in my workflow review in January, and it still is, especially when I’m browsing at work: I don’t have to be logged in to any service, not even my own email address, to add something to my Pocket queue. I just set up Pocket to accept all items sent to email@example.com from my workplace’s address, and since Outlook is always open there, adding an item is a breeze.
Tags: Instapaper, for example, uses folders, which limits the user to one reference point per article.
My previous workflow was entirely device agnostic, something I always look for in services and products. But its weakest link, Evernote, gave me little incentive to take advantage of the hundreds of items that I’ve accumulated. What made working with Evernote such a bad experience were its iOS and (especially) OS X apps. I don’t think I need to expand on how buggy and slow they are; anyone who’s used them knows. CEO Phil Libin himself admitted in January Evernote wasn’t focusing on “the core experience,” and promised better Evernote apps were coming “in a matter of weeks”.
As I was writing this review, Evernote rolled out version 5.6 of their OS X app, a few days after shipping version 7.5 of their iOS app. On Macstories, Federico Viticci seems impressed with Evernote’s new sharing extension on iOS, and while it does sound versatile, it still does not support tags(!). As for OS X, while Federico writes that he found the new version “to be faster and more reliable than before,” it’s not something I can corroborate since this version hasn’t hit my local App Store yet.
In any case, for me the ship has already sailed.
A few things have changed since January, the last time I revisited my workflow:
Pocket launched Pocket Premium, with three features that aren’t available for free members. I’ll cover those in a bit.
One month later, Pocket began offering a 45% lifetime discount ($25 instead of $45) on its annual Premium plan to original “Read it Later Pro” customers, who I’m one of.
iOS 8 was released in September, introducing extensions.
Evernote, meanwhile, continues to be Evernote, and I don’t have the patience for it to prove otherwise.
Yesterday I was wondering aloud whether I’m the only person on the planet who’s more excited about iOS 8 and Yosemite rather than the new iPhones and the Apple Watch. I got some quick reassurance from a few people, including Sam Hutchings who said:
iOS 8 and Yosemite working together is Magic. iPhones are iterative upgrades, and Apple Watch is just too far away just now.
I don’t know about the iPhones or watch, I’d like to ponder a little more before I make up my mind. But “magic” is exactly the word that came to mind during and after this year’s WWDC. The multitude of new features introduced for both operating systems, and their binding together through Continuity, are more appealing to me than a bigger screen size. And yes, more than being able to pay with a phone.
I’ll leave the analysis and sales predictions regarding the Sixes and the watch to Apple’s certified pundits, but iOS 8 and Yosemite are (supposed to be) a revolution, no less, as far as heavy users are concerned.
For its release today, Nick Heer of Pixel Envy published a comprehensive review of iOS 8:
This is what I have gleaned from using iOS 8 every day since June 2 on my primary (and only) iPhone 5S and my Retina iPad Mini.
I usually try to extract a longer pull quote to give readers a better idea of what they’re about to read, or highlight something that was especially relevant to me. I couldn’t quite do that with Nick’s review. I’ll tell you, and this is coming from someone who thinks superlatives are the devil, that this is the best software review I’ve read in years.
The first public version of iOS 8 is a step forward, but Apple clearly has work to do before it can function anywhere near what we saw during the announcement in June.Share:
If everything worked as planned, you are reading these lines on a new domain name, and if you’re not reading these lines inside an RSS reader, you’ve probably noticed the new look, too.
Welcome to The Pickle Theory.
Let’s start with some administrative notes:
The domain name is now pickletheory.com. You’ll still get here if you type in the old address, so previously saved bookmarks should work just fine.
Accordingly, the RSS feed is now at feed.pickletheory.com. Subscribers to the old feed should be redirected automatically without having to worry about any of this, but if you do experience any hiccups, switching to the new one should help. Apologies for the inconvenience.
The site now has a dedicated Twitter account at @pickletheory, which will auto-tweet newly published articles.
There’s a new weekly newsletter for those who prefer to receive updates to their inbox. You can sign-up here.
Here’s “the story” behind this very unconfusing name as it currently appears on the new about page:
The Pickle Theory is a hedge against a change of mind or taste.
The toxic combination of perfectionism and indecisiveness has led this site to several different directions over its short lifespan. Seeing as it already went through more drastic changes than it should, I wanted to protect myself from myself or any future pivots by choosing a name I could relate to today and in the long haul.
But how can one protect against change when we all know change is inevitable? And that what you write about today may not be what you write about in two years? That not only your interests and priorities are bound to change with time, but that your personality — you — might as well?
Life takes you to places you could never expect to be, and it might in time alter things that you hold high and take pride in: opinion, philosophy, belief.
So I had to pick a constant. I figured that no matter who I am in three, five, or ten years, pickles are something that I’ll always enjoy. A radio guy or a businessman; writing about technology or Chivalric romance; rich or broke; it doesn’t matter. The pickle will always be there for me.
And this is The Pickle Theory. It’s the cold realization that, after all, our most durable characteristics may also be our most frivolous1.
I’ve talked with fellow writers about this, and they all said they liked “The Typist”. It’s a good name, with “a sort of allure to it,” as one of them put it. But the truth is I knew from day one it was temporary, and for many reasons. It implies singularity and author-focus, and is a tad bit too romantic. I’ve been sitting on this decision for a while now, but I wanted to couple it with the unveiling of my name so this weblog doesn’t become a diary about itself.
Unlike previous redesigns, this one isn’t a mere facelift: it’s almost 40 hours of typography research, sketches, fonts, color schemes, CSS, and PHP. Every element you see has been modified, line by line. Don’t worry, I’m not going to document each one of them.
One thing I do want to talk about though is the typography: Earlier this year, I had decided to change the main typeface from the very humanist Ideal Sans to a less pretentious, plainer one. I went with Proxima Nova, the deservedly acclaimed font by Mark Simonson.
With this overhaul, I’ve gone even further within the geometric sans-serifs family, to Avenir. Avenir isn’t available on non-Apple devices, so those devices will be served with Segoe UI. Titles are set in Tablet Gothic.
Making a geometric typeface readable is quite a challenge. I’ve spent much of my time adjusting line-heights and margins, but most of the attention went to characters per line (CPL), so even though the body text is bigger than it was before, the content area has been narrowed. This means less words per line, and hopefully less eye travel and neck strain.
But I think the biggest practical improvement is the new mobile design: Over 47% of this site’s visitors in the last 3 months were on a mobile device, and the previous version — while responsive — didn’t treat this segment too well. The fonts are now bigger, the layout tighter, and there are three breakpoints instead of one, which will ensure proper typography for both smartphone and tablet users.
Many of you have kindly taken out of their time to preview this design and give feedback, and it proved immensely helpful. Thank you. There isn’t enough space between these lines to express my gratitude.
Also get in touch if you want to take the 1-year over on the next redesign..
My name is Shibel Karmi Mansour1 and I’ve been writing this weblog (in its current incarnation) anonymously since December 2013.
Not a lot will change now that I’m writing under my real name, but I guess an explanation is appropriate for those who’ve been following this site during the past few months and who might have noticed some narrative holes in certain pieces.
So let me explain. There are two notable radio stations that cover news here in Israel. Both are public, and together they compete for (and hold) the lion’s share of talk radio listenership. I work as the lead news anchor for one of them.
I was appointed to this role by the station’s then-new CEO2 in September of 2012. At the time, I was hosting a one-hour weekly show, studying for a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and pretty much settled with the idea that my future wasn’t in journalism. The offer presented to me was one that I couldn’t refuse, and so I took it.
I was younger (22) and even more inexperienced at the time, so the credit given to me was… well, huge. The transition was accompanied by some media attention, but more importantly it came with a journalistic responsibility that warranted thoughtfulness and diligence.
I feel fortunate and privileged, not only for the opportunity, but also — perhaps more so — for the environment it took place in. I was surrounded by smart, experienced, and supportive people who offered genuine advice that I really can’t put a price on.
Anonymity, to me, was primarily a hedge against unforeseen conflicts or developments. If stripped of its original context, I think Donald Rumsfeld’s controversial “Known Unknowns” can help explain some of my motivation behind the decision to start out anonymously:
There are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.
There were things I knew that I knew, like the fact I wanted to write, mainly about technology. There were things I knew that I didn’t know, like whether writing a weblog as a hobby in my spare time would be in significant conflict with working as a news-anchor for a public media outlet. I didn’t see anything wrong with it to start with, but again, considering my age, I assumed there were more things I didn’t know than things I could possibly know; so I decided to take a hedge. Then, along the way, there were things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know.
I’ve been writing here for a little under a year and I have a better idea of what kind of writer I am. I’ve also learned a great deal about what type of journalist I am, in my two years here at the station. I still have a lot to learn in both areas. But as things stand now — with many unknowns out of the way — I don’t see a reason to keep maintaining my anonymity. It was annoying and counterproductive. The hedge is no longer worth its premium. And so here I am.
Except for an upcoming design overhaul and a name change, I don’t foresee any major changes. I will continue to impose certain limitations on the scope of topics I write about, but since this was the case from day one, I don’t think the typical reader will notice a difference in style or content before and after this announcement.
Thank you for reading.