What’s Next in Computing? — Medium

The computing industry progresses in two mostly independent cycles: financial and product cycles. There has been a lot o…

Source: What’s Next in Computing? — Medium

If you think that smartphones/mobile have peaked… this article makes a strong claim otherwise. The summary: tech cycles go in gestation and growth periods. Since around 2006 or so we have been in a gestation period. Smartphones are omnipresent, the tech that is used for smartphones has made everything smaller and cheaper, and the ecosystem is ready to go…

“The business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: Take X and add AI. This is a big deal, and now it’s here.” — Kevin Kelly

Time to dust off those coding chops I guess. There are so many venues in which some basic Artificial Intelligence would be useful:

  1. Watches and other wearables. We aren’t going to type on those things.
  2. Home automation. Who wants to find their smartphone to turn on a light? Amazon’s Echo is already doing this to some extent (seriously go try it!) and this will only improve and get better with more competition.
  3. Scheduling for business and travel. We schedule meetings basically the same way in 2016 as we did when I worked on Schedule+ in 1996. Companies like http://x.ai are working on this but it’s still early. Scheduling travel is in some ways *worse* than when you called a travel agent. How much do you think giants like Expedia or SABRE are looking at this (scratch that: since SABRE is an airline consortium they will no doubt be shocked with the development of new stuff).

The role of open source

One area I didn’t see in this article is the role of open source. In the last few gestation–>growth periods one of the hallmarks of the transition was open source would get good enough to power growth i.e. the frameworks would be good enough. Coding a web app used to be hard. Now you can grab a bunch of open source tech, some of it hosted by very viable companies, and turn out a project in a few days. What are the key open source technologies we will need to take mobile to the growth stage?

One key item: data. The article notes that the more data you collect (e.g. people talking into their phones a la Siri/Google Now/Cortana) the better AI you can do. What this means is that the smaller teams, the real innovators, will either need to get into a niche or the open source community will need to find a way to share this data. Imagine an open data mart that little teams could participate in so they didn’t get overwhelmed by the massive data models from Apple, Google, etc.

This worked well for Wikipedia, web platforms, and code: what is the data mart for AI?

Checking out Placesbyme – Yelp v2 or one of the others

For a few days I’ll be putting Placesbyme through its paces. The pitch for this new food/destination/play app is basically Yelp but with just your friends. In other words avoid all the crummy Yelp and Foursquare stuff and get recommendations from friends. I foresee a few hurdles:

  1. Until you get critical mass following my friends’ recommendations is going to be very, very hard simply because there aren’t any. None of my friends are using this app and given the normal adoption curve I’ll see Jim and Richard show up soon and then no one else.
  2. There isn’t much data there. For example there is nothing in Seattle. I would have seeded the data with Yelp, Google, Foursquare, Facebook, something just to get the ball rolling and added UI to the effect “This isn’t a Placesbyme recommendation: do you agree with it?”. Then let the user correct, add, etc. so the cleanliness of the recommendation isn’t lost.

Good luck to the team! There must be a better system than what Yelp does (e.g. when Arby’s is a five-star you know the system is broken) but I sure haven’t seen it yet. There is also a long list of other failed food/destination apps but maybe the time is right for someone to change the game.

Seth’s Blog: A manifesto for small teams doing important work

If you make a promise, set a date. No date, no promise.If you set a date, meet it.If you can’t make a date, tell us early and often. Plan B well prepared is a better strategy than hope.Clean up your own mess.Clean up other people’s messes.Overcommunicate.Question premises and strategy.Don’t question goodwill, effort or intent.

Source: Seth’s Blog: A manifesto for small teams doing important work

A very timely reminder about working on a small team.

  • Over-communicate – At a big company you will be *flooded* with information, usually email. It’s hard to separate the signal from the noise. With a small team it’s the opposite; nothing comes in. Does that mean nothing is happening? Or is something happening but we aren’t communicating. These touch-points are important.
  • Set a date – this is true for all projects, at all times. Sure, if you are doing agile then your date is “sometime in the span of the next sprint” but that sprint is time-bound so the date is a range, but still a commitment.

The rest are good, these two caught my eye.

British Military Fitness –> Crossfit

Five years ago I wrote about an app, British Military Fitness. The app is fairly simple: you listen to an instructor and he tells you to do a workout. Simple, right? Turns out those workouts are killers. They are a mix of situps, pushups, jumping jacks, sprints, etc. These are all bodyweight moves and designed to be done in a park i.e no weights and no gym.

Five years later I do Crossfit five times a week. And as I look through the workouts they really aren’t that different except Crossfit uses heavy weights at times. Amazing how nothing much really changes — you can’t get away from the idea of moving your body rapidly through space to stay healthy.

What is interesting is it looks like the company behind British Military Fitness has given up on the app. Their main website and coursework is all current and fresh but the app site itself shows an iPhone 3 and their Twitter support page hasn’t been updated since 2010. The app’s Facebook page is also offline. Sad to see this app go away but this is an opportunity for someone to step in and keep up the good, simple, work.

Cannabis Sales Could Reach $21.8 Billion in 2020

The report says one of the major hurdles for the industry is banking. Due to the fact that marijuana is federally illegal, banks are apprehensive to serve marijuana and marijuana-related clients. The report found that only 30 percent of companies that touch the plant has a bank account while 51 percent of ancillary businesses have secured banking.

Source: Cannabis Sales Could Reach $21.8 Billion in 2020 | Inc.com

There are so many interesting angles to this story.

  1. What happens when something that was illegal is fairly rapidly legalized? This happened with the repeal of the 18th Amendment outlawing alcohol of course but we didn’t have social media back then. I wonder if they went through the same booming economy?
  2. An interesting note is the biggest hurdle for pot merchants is banking. Since it’s still against the law federally to grow or sell pot banks aren’t willing to deal with the pot merchants. The article notes only 31% of merchants have access to banking. Where is the rest of the money going? Bitcoin?
  3. The other note is that pot grown indoors consumes 1% of the total electricity output in the U.S. That’s crazy, why are they growing pot indoors and not outside where it would naturally thrive? Hard to imagine all those acres in Humboldt County for instance require electricity.

Regardless the fact that pot grew from $5.4b to $6.7b in one year is amazing especially given it’s legal in only 3 states (although available in some legalized form in many).

Balanced – for February | Bricin

For February I am going to take Momentum for a spin. This app is fairly simple: the more habits you do daily you build up momentum, i.e. a backlog of goodness that you won’t want to stop. I u…

Source: Momentum – for February | Bricin

Um, well, nevermind. I picked up an app, Balanced, in late January and started using it. I like the app so far; it’s nudging me into goodness at times. You can find the free version http://balancedapp.com/. I used it for a few days before upgrading to the paid version.

So far so good, I will do a write-up if I a) stop using the app or b) end of the month with some stats on how I did.

Momentum – for February

For February I am going to take Momentum for a spin. This app is fairly simple: the more habits you do daily you build up momentum, i.e. a backlog of goodness that you won’t want to stop.

I use Wunderlist and PomoDone as my productivity tools. But I haven’t found a great tool to help me with a few of the nagging habits e.g. daily set the three most important things to finish. I tried Coach.me for a while but never quite liked it. So my habit for February is a bit meta: use a habit-forming app to form my new habits.

momentum-sync@2x

Momentum app