The News For Jan 27, 2017

For a while now I’ve been doing Youtube videos and recently I started to switch from gaming videos (Let’s plays and walkthroughs) into other more technology related topics. A series I’ve started is doing a short video going through interesting news I saw during the week.

Here’s The News for January 27, 2017 (and you can subscribe here):

Samsung publishes reasons for exploding Note7

Samsung has finally published the real reason behind the explosions that plagued the Note 7 line. After completing their own investigation as well as three other independent consultants the conclusion was that there were actually 2 issues related to the batteries.

Batteries created by Samsung had a fault where they were too big for the phone’s casing which lead to bending and short circuiting.

After the initial failures, Amperex Technology provided new batteries.

Due to the rush to relaunch the device these new batteries had missing insulation and other low quality parts that made them prone to the same result.

Samsung has said they have overhauled their safety testing procedures to prevent this from happening again.

The whole Note 7 saga has been bizarre and plagued with half truths and half measures, hopefully this really is the end of it.

Samsung has reported they have recovered 96 percent of all the affected devices so there are potentially many more chances for things to blow up.

Samsung also announced they will not shy away from the Note brand, so expect a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 to blow us away sometime this year…

Links:


SpaceX is discarding their next launch rocket

Last week SpaceX made the news with their first launch after the explosion last year. Well they are back in the news again.

This time they’ve announced that their next launch will be the last one that uses expendable rockets.

The rocket being used is fully capable of landing itself but due to the mission parameters it won’t have enough fuel to do the maneuver.

This is due to two reasons, first is that the EchoStart satellite being launched is quite large and heavy.

The other one is that it needs to be put in a geostationary orbit which is around thirty six thousand kilometers above earth’s surface.

The distance and the weight make it impossible for to the rocket to land back.

The company has announced that they intend this mission to be the last time they have to discard a rocket since the next ones will use the new iteration of the Falcon 9 or the Falcon Heavy rockets which should have enough capacity to land back after any mission.

The launch is scheduled for next Monday, January 30.

Links:


Lucasfilms releases the new Start War movie name!

This week Lucasfilms announced the name of the next Star Wars movie, so skip this part if you are so spoiler averse that even knowing the name is unacceptable.

It will be called The Last Jedi and will continue the original Skywalker saga that’s been going for 7 episodes… 4 episodes?

The movie is expected to release on December 15, I wonder if we’ll ever get tired of the yearly Star Wars movie? I know I won’t.

Links:


Apple’s latest beta WatchOS has Theater Mode

This week Apple released new beta versions of their multiple operating systems including watchOS 3.2

Beside the traditional bug fixes and improvements a new feature has been introduced: Theater Mode.

The feature disables the normal raise to wake behaviour of the watch. When enabled the screen can only be turned on by tapping on it.

I’m really looking forward to this feature, not only when going to the movies but also in a more common situation like showering. The water droplets usually trigger the touch screen and make the watch go crazy so hopefully this fixes this issue a bit.

Links:


PC Gaming Hardware Sales for 2016 surprise

For many years now the PC industry sales have been in decline, but a new report by Jon Peddie Research, seems to indicate that at least one area of the industry is actually doing great: PC Gaming hardware.

The report shows that for the first time this market broke through the $30 billion in revenue mark.

A goal that was expected to be reached in 2018.

The feat seems to be fueled by a combination of multiple things: the failure of consoles to entice the enthusiast gamers, and the value proposition of PCs that enable a better experience.

Variety of parts from budget to high end, and customization are also a powerful influence.

The report also makes it a point to identify that PC gamers are very enthusiastic no matter their budget.

Non the less, high end parts still took the biggest chunk of the market with 43%, the midrange 35% and the low end 22%

It’s gonna be interesting to see this same report next year since a lot of people will be finally making their upgrade decisions after AMD launches their Ryzen and Vega lines.

Links:


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Alan Turing

Protrait of Alan Turing

This week was the anniversary of Alan Turing’s death. For those who don’t know who he is, he was a British computer scientist, considered the father of computer science for defining the basis of how computers work today.

He not only defined and formalized concepts like algorithms and computation but he was also an amazing cryptographer and helped decode many German messages during World War II.

He was 41 when he died. Which is a damn shame because of all the brilliance and potential he showed.

Let’s stop being disingenuous though, he committed suicide: he was prosecuted and convicted for homosexual acts and as an alternative to prison he received a treatment called chemical castration. 2 years after his conviction he was found dead from cyanide poisoning.

So here we had a genius on the rise with more than half his life still ahead of him and due to prejudice-as-policy we (humanity) lost all that potential. To put it mildly, that sucks.

So I implore you, if you ever have a thought that has even a bit of prejudice in it: shut up. You’re creating a worse future.

Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner in the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine

Just recently we went through a social media frenzy on the news about Caitlyn Jenner: the new identity adopted by Bruce Jenner after going through a gender transition. Of course the negativity didn’t take too long to come up.

The direct attacks were pretty bad but what really made me sad were the slight discriminatory comments from people that gain nothing from them.

racist.jpg

To them I just have one thing to say: I really hope you never find yourselves in a situation where you don’t feel welcome. 1

When the human mind is forced into a defensive state it stops allocating cycles to creative endeavours and dedicates the energy instead to the fight-or-flight reactions.

People think a joke or a slight comment doesn’t hurt anybody but they don’t realize that these types of comments perpetuate the discrimination by making it a normal thing. It also makes members of these discriminated groups to focus their energies on gaining equality instead of creating a better world for everybody.

Or worse, like Turing, give up.

Please stop, it is not worth it.


Learn from these kids:


  1. Not only this image is transphobic but also racist. Sad part is some people that use it just don’t realize.


Givin' a crap

When building something for someone else, do you try to build the best thing ever or do you just give them the minimum necessary to say you built it?

As product people we know projects have 3 strings pulling in different directions: cost, quality and time. And inevitably we need to choose one over the other to find a balance, that’s just how things work.

What should never happen is not giving a crap about your product. Saying something like “I have no opinion on how this should work” is a direct path to the land of bad products.

It’s hard, it’s exhausting, and sometimes you will make bad decisions. But a decision is necessary, a design is necessary to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Not having an opinion means you didn’t design a thing, you were presented a small bucket of play-doh and you just stood there and watched it dry.


Have you tried solving your own problems?

In a conversation with my wife one morning we ended talking about how irritating it is when people complain about a situation but don’t do anything about it (other than complain).

And before we go further, let’s be clear: this wasn’t about personal issues or some unique rocket surgery problem; We were talking about technical problems with known solutions just a Google DuckDuckGo search away.

In this era of having the answer to your question at your fingertips it seems that some people have learnt the wrong lesson: laziness is ok.

That attitude is so foreign to me, probably because I’m on one of the last generations than actually had to use an encyclopedia to do research.

Search, read, learn and stop complaining! Complaining won’t get you closer to a solution.

Whenever I find someone that constantly complains about something they don’t understand but haven’t put any effort into it, I just want to ask them Have you tried solving your own problems?



Trying on an Apple WATCH

Last night at midnight I pre-ordered one: 38mm sport version in space gray with the default black band.

I also setup an appointment at the Apple store to try them on after work, these are the ones I tried:

  • 38mm sport with white band
  • 42mm stainless steel with the milanese loop band
  • 42mm stainless steel with the black leather loop band
  • 42mm stainless steel with the link bracelete

I also looked at the leather modern buckle and classic buckle, but didn’t try them on.

My very first impression when I looked at them behind a glass: they are smaller that I expected. My next impression when I tried them on: they are lighter than I expected.

The aluminium model

The combination of the aluminium and the rubber band doesn’t feel cheap at all, the rubber is very flexible but not grippy. This makes the whole combination almost disappear and you stop feeling it on your wrist.

Until you get the taps: it’s as if an invisible someone poked you in the wrist with their figner, it’s a weird sensation.

I didn’t try a 42mm aluminium which I regret because I can’t compare the difference in weight.

The stainless steel model

That not-being-there-at-all sensation disappeared completely with this model. It feels heavier in the wrist and you definitely notice it.

I have not used a watch in a long time but my expectation for all the models was how this one felt. This model feels heftier than the aluminum one and if the band is loose enough you can feel it move around the wrist, the link bracelet felt like that but the other ones can be adjusted to prevent this.

The milanese loop has a very strong magnet and it took me a couple of tries to separate it to adjust it around my wrist which means that once you adjust it, it won’t go anywhere.

Milanese + Hair

The leather loop band felt very safe too with a similarly strong magnet. This band was also my candidate to buy as a more formal option, but to my dismay it’s not available in 38mm.

The try on experience is about the hardware

I got to the store earlier than expected but they had free spots available so I didn’t have to wait. I’m not sure what to make of that, maybe people don’t know that service is available.

The employee unlocks a hidden drawer with their iPod and takes out the model you want to try. When I saw that, I could hear Tim Cook in my mind saying “only Apple would think of something like that.”

The watches were in a video loop showing the main features but you couldn’t really interact with the device. From time to time the watches would make a sound or generate a tap on your wrist.

My guess is that Apple wants you to focus on the device and the bands. And it worked, I played a while with the buttons and the digital crown but then the entire focus was on the weight and the bands.

The digital crown didn’t provide any resistance at all, and trying to spin it with two fingers (pinching it with the thumb and index) felt a bit cumbersome, any smaller and it would be impossible.

The software

During the try on experience, the Apple employee kept reminding me that I could check out the software on the devices available in another part of the store. Almost as an afterthought I went to check them out expecting mostly to check out how apps work and get some ideas for mine.

But using the device with the OS turned on made a big difference, every scroll with the digital crown generates haptic feedback when you reach the end of a list. This gives the digital crown a whole new dimension that I didn’t get during the try on.


All in all, the experience was very nice. The Apple employees were friendly and helpful, they even brought us a water bottle.

The devices all felt solid and well built, the sport model gave me the same impression that I got when I picked up an iPhone 5 for the first time: this should not be this light.

I bought the 38mm aluminum version for economic reasons and this experience confirmed I chose the right one (even if for the wrong reason).

I’m sure the aluminum version will be a favorite between people that currenlty don’t wear watches. The stainless versions felt like an actual watch in your wrist so it will be a matter of preference to watch connoisseurs.

I was a bit worried about the difference in sizes when it comes to app development but after looking at them, I don’t think it will make that much of a difference.

I just hope Apple sells lots of them so we get a big marketplace.


White whales

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

– Mahatma Gandhi

In the book “Delivering Happiness” Tony Hsieh opens with a story of his first childhood enterprise as a worm farmer and imagines how if Gandhi had stopped by his house, he would have told him that quote after hearing his idea.

When his worm farm inevitably failed he imagined Thomas Edison dropping by and telling him his perspective on failure:

I’ve failed my way to success.

He then continues with this phrase that is what caught my attention:

He [Edison] was probably too busy working on other stuff though, because like Gandhi, he never did stop by my house. Maybe they were too busy hanging out with each other.

I just love his attitude (which probably helped him become a successful entrepreneur): you just don’t stop doing your thing just because others aren’t paying attention.

This reminded me immediately of a recent episode of Analog(ue) 1 in which Myke and Casey discussed getting people they admire to pay attention to them as “catching their white whales”2.

Casey (and Myke agreed) highlighted another very important attitude to have, in his words:

I haven’t really come up with who my next white whale is. Because I feel it’s kind of healthy to have someone that you aspire to impress.

Contrary to actual whale hunting, we don’t have harpoons to force people to pay attention3. We just have to keep on doing our thing like the book implied, until our white whales notice and come willingly.

I really don’t have much to add on this subject, but I wanted to point out these warnings to keep in mind when using white whales as a motivation:

  1. You may never gain the attention of your white whale.
    You could end up feeling frustrated and give up on doing what you do.

  2. You want your white whale to come to you.
    Do something because you believe in it, don’t do it just to impress someone. You may end up in a place you never planned to be in4.

  3. You may gain some unwanted attention
    There will be people that won’t receive your thing the way you want it. This is the Internet after all.

    There’s not much to do about it but heed Tony Hsieh: keep on doing what you do because at the end of the day this should be a virtuous cycle, your work will be what brings that person to your sphere of influence. Hopefully allowing you to gain the attention of bigger whales while ignoring the remoras and sharks.

The perils of hunting whales on the modern seas.


  1. The term comes from the novel “Moby-dick; or the Whale” where captain Ahab obsessed on catching the white whale that had severed his leg.

  2. It’s actually frowned upon.

  3. Like selling whale bait instead of high end fishing vessels.


QuickShopper

I’ve been working on this app for a while and it’s close to be ready for version 1.

Please subscribe and I will let you know when it launches.

QuickShopper.ca


Lena Reinhard – “A Talk About Nothing”

Great talk on privilege in the tech industry and how we - the privileged - can do better by first shutting up to listen and then doing something to help.

There is so much potential for software to make a difference in being inclusive if we applied this on ourselves.

As people working on software empathy is our responsibility, and it’s a skill that we can practice every day.

Click the title and listen to the entire talk, it’s worth it.


Story time:

When I built fictionesque, one of the “features” of the user’s profile was a tiny flag of their country. The intention was to allow users to find people close to them and be able to come together and become a community inside the community.

Soon after adding the feature, a person asked me to remove her account from the site because she had come from a different community fleeing the harassment of a guy that lived in her same country. She had switched communities and identities, but my feature had made her visible again.

I immediately apologized and made it so the information could be hidden.


One way to shield yourself from these errors is by surrounding yourself with people from different backgrounds and giving a voice to those not represented. Not doing so would be a mistake:

Being in tech and not caring about tech culture is a luxury, only affordable to those with enough privilege to ignore it & too little empathy to care.

This attitude will prevent software that calls women “you’re the guy” , but more importantly will give us a society where everyone feels welcome.


On needing help

Justin Jackson, as always, with a great article.

You’ve heard of Walt Disney, the affable showman who founded The Walt Disney Company. He’s an American icon with a great legacy.

You may not have heard of his older brother, Roy.

I didn’t know about him, what a great story…

Roy was the linchpin in the Walt Disney Company’s success

Each brother had a forte and relied on the other for the rest. As Justin says, working alone has its benefits but also its devils:

Isolation removes distractions, allowing us to focus on bringing ideas to life.

But when we lone wolves hit a speed bump, many of us stop creating. It’s hard to show up every day, by yourself. When there’s no one to cheer you on, and no one to be accountable to, it’s easier to just give up.


While working on QuickShopper I encountered two or three of those speed bumps.

The first one was actually close to my self-imposed shipping date , the frustration of not making the deadline due to technical problems, plus a well-timed flu hit me really hard and set me back a month (it wasn’t until the end of January that I resumed work on the app).

Other speed bumps in the road were not as serious and only set me back an evening.

The interesting part though? The biggest difference between these speed bumps wasn’t how hard the problem would be to solve, it was my attitude.

The first time I was so angry I didn’t want to talk about it. The others, I had a different attitude that allowed me to talk about it with my wife and friends.

This talking about it helps you let off steam and re-focus on how to move forward.


Great recommendations at the end of the article, including one that I’ve wanted to do for a while:

Start a mastermind. Reach out 2-3 of your peers and ask if they want to start meeting every week on a Google Hangout. Let each person talk about what they accomplished last week, what they want to do this week, and what they’re blocked on.