Safely Ignored

pattern-seeking meat robot

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While I’ve been busy working in other markets, Boxee released their Cloud DVR in the US, which is basically a Tivo that uses network storage rather than a hard drive.

I’m puzzled about the legal status of this. The networks have established case law such that it’s illegal to receive OTA content and stream it online, but it’s legal to record for your own use.

This is why SimpleTV insist you host the server, and Aereo has to resort to crazy one-antenna-per-stream games.

So if you set up a Tivo so others can access it, you’re breaking the law. But as long as you don’t share, it’s okay. On the surface, Boxee TV is just a DVR without a hard drive, clearly in the latter (and permissible) camp.

But in order to scale this, they must be compressing across accounts. So when Jake and Ilan both record The Bachelor, the “cloud” notices the content is the same and only stores it once. This is how...

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Google’s Mixed Incentives

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.


Google didn’t mean to be an advertising company. But the Google Search Appliance debuted at nearly the same time AdWords shifted to a pay-per-click model and ad revenue quickly eclipsed it and all other sources. So the firm was only three years old when “don’t be evil” began to fall prey to capitalist reality. By now, the noble and “open” attributes of their brand have been widely discredited.

Advertising is still a “star” rather than a “cash cow” (in BCG terms), so Google must aggressively defend and expand their market position. To do this, they must secure consumer traffic, which leads to corporate behavior orthogonal or even contrary to making the world’s information accessible. YouTube once fulfilled the stated mission brilliantly for video content, but would now...

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Why Google Bought Motorola

It is obvious that Google purchased Motorola to establish a stake in mobile handset production to ensure Android’s future and consumption of Google services. So obvious it makes me curious about alternate explanations.

Whispers around the industry left me confident Motorola was putting serious resources into “BlurOS” from early 2010 until the Google agreement. If this project had been successful, it would have set a precedent that might greatly diminish the power of the OHA (which Google controls via the CTS) by demonstrating that established hardware designers can bootstrap their own software ecosystem. Many similar threats have surfaced (Sony’s SNAP, Tizen and its ancestors, WebOS) but have generally proven impotent. I believe Motorola’s effort was unusually robust and well-guided, so Google must have been very interested in shutting it down.

(I have seen some strong encouragement...

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Leap Forward

The hype has cooled, but the Leap is still exciting technology. Just within frog, there have been incredibly in-depth considerations of structured light, EF sensing, time-of-flight, sonar, or the most likely depth-from-focus.

But in the wider community, there hasn’t been much talk about what we’ll do with these sensors. Many interaction designers are quick to dismiss the potential of unbound hand-waving. After all, it is generally accepted that holding your arms up even to touch a screen can be fatiguing.

I believe, though, there are a host of casual gestures that can augment pointing, and are used rarely enough to assuage these ergonomic concerns.

Pointing and clicking, after all, isn’t everything; keyboard shortcuts are as old as the GUI (if you count Englebert’s mouse-full-o-buttons). With the advent of multitouch we’re finally seeing some more kinetic options such as two-finger...

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Checking Out

Luke Wroblewski has surveyed approaches of optimizing checkout in e-commerce applications. This is effort well spent. I am routinely surprised at how many online retailers commit simple sins of usability, and imagine I’m not alone in abandoning purchases when the pain of a checkout flow exceeds the value of that store’s price or selection advantage.

Still, it may be naive to concern ourselves with the checkout process. Must the metaphor of “cart” and “checkout” endure?

Apple’s “pick up in store” and Square’s auto-opening tabs are already streamlining the physical pick-and-pay processes that the virtual shopping cart slavishly copies. On, one-click purchasing allows me to make impulse purchases with even less effort than adding them to Pinterest.

But one-click purchasing may not go far enough in reducing the friction that keeps my money in my wallet. Even clicking a button...

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Hello, world

This is yet another cloud service to share my user-generated content. It would seem the world needs no more of these buzzwords.

But Svbtle is also a project from Dustin Curtis, who is not to be underestimated, and brings some unique ideas to the blogging landscape including services for proofreading, a selected community of interesting people, and curation of featured articles. I’m hoping that those attributes and a low production barrier will motivate me to flush the queue of draft articles I build up so much faster than I can polish.

It is with some pause that I add another online presence to my narcissistic empire of blog, Tumblr, and Twitter. Tentatively, I hope to keep long-form thoughts here, but integrate them into the archive search at so that remains a canonical store for my reference.

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