83: The Fall of Facebook

Back in 2006, I loved Facebook. I loved connecting with people and friends from around the world. The updates were great to see. The world needed it. I was convinced that social networking was the killer-app for the internet, and I still think that was true.

But then the world matured. By now we’ve all gotten used to it. The novelty has worn off. We take that online social connection for granted.

In today’s world, it’s not just enough to connect people and share the information, you need to provide context around that connection and that information. This is how people get news and information.

I’m not the only one who thinks so. When Trump posted last week “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” the employees at Facebook wanted to label that post as offensive, but Zuckerberg was adamant that all posts go up without being altered. Hundreds of employees are pissed after the company took no action.

Mark also went on Fox News and criticized Twitter for fact-checking Trump’s posts on mail-in ballots. He said he didn’t want his company to be an “arbiter of truth” on political issues. I think he’s the only one who feels that way.

Come on Mark. Let’s be honest, the reason you care so much is because (a) you don’t want to sign up to do the work. It’s a lot to label posts as incorrect or violent and once you set the precedent that you can’t go back, (b) the alt-right and other groups (Russia) are paying customers and it hurts the business to take sides, and finally (c) when your core product is harmful, you wants few warning labels as possible.

For all of these reasons, my views are switching. I’ve always viewed Facebook and its ability to connect others as a net positive in the world, even with all its flaws. But considering the recent actions and lack of conscience I hear from Mark, I’ve come to think of them as a net negative.

With over a billion monthly users, I only hope it turns around and gets better as they have enormous influence and power in the world.

Continue reading “83: The Fall of Facebook”

The Oura Ring

82: Fitness Trackers, More Like Sickness Trackers

I was a person who never wore a watch. I didn’t like the feeling it had on my wrist. That is, until 2 years ago when I got an Apple Watch as a birthday present. I haven’t taken it off since. I love it My watch face looks like this:

The thing I like most is the personal tracking. I track my daily water intake (upper left), my exercise (30 minutes a day – the green circle), and my sleep every night. The gamification of my water intake – showing my progress all day, every time I look at my watch – has resulted in my consumption of at least 66 ounces a day for the past year.

The watch tracks my movement and heart rate as I sleep. Tracking my sleep has shown me how much alcohol impacts my nightly rest and how my mood correlates very closely with my 3-day average number of hours of sleep. Here’s are some other things my sleep app shows:

I bring this up because I recently read that wearable devices like the Apple Watch and the Oura Ring are being used to predict when COVID-19 cases might occur. From the article:

Data from a wearable device can reveal coronavirus symptoms days before you even realize you’re sick. That means fitness trackers could be on their way to becoming sickness trackers.

The Oura Ring can predict up to three days in advance when people will get a fever, coughing or shortness of breath. If these devices can signal when someone is getting sick before they know it, then we can detect sooner and keep the population healthier.

There’s obviously a long way to go and privacy concerns, but I’m a sucker for new technology especially if it will allow us to live more socially but still be safe.
Continue reading “82: Fitness Trackers, More Like Sickness Trackers”

81: Reopening in Happening

When talking with friends across the country recently I realized that our little bubble here in California is different. We’re still in lockdown and our restaurants aren’t open. People are wearing masks. It’s as if it’s April.

My friends in other parts of the country are living differently. I heard someone yesterday make a reservation at a restaurant for “a table for 3.” Another friend who is operating a taxi company in Georgia remarked that there are plenty of rides happening. So, America is definitely reopening.

Trivia question: There are 3500 deaths from COVID in California. How many of them are under the age of 45? Answer: 68. Most people my age haven’t seen anyone die or get seriously ill from this disease. I can understand that. If people don’t perceive the threat, there’s no fear, and they’ll continue to push the line.

So, we’ll see what happens. I’m guessing there’s be more waves of cases, but, hey, maybe not. We will see.

I keep thinking about this read: Sure, The Velociraptors Are Still On The Loose But That’s No Reason Not To Reopen Jurassic Park Continue reading “81: Reopening in Happening”

80: War, Famine, or Revolution

An economist in 1798 theorized that a population and culture wold continue to grow until stopped by war, famine or revolution. Well, we got two out of the three.

When I look at just the famine piece and put the systematic deep racism aside for a moment. That seems to be all about income inequality. That’s hardly a hot take. It still baffles me that no Democratic platform has an answer for how to fix it. Better taxes helps a little bit as does universal healthcare but that still doesn’t make it possible for an Amazon delivery driver to buy a home and join the middle class.

When I look at why we are where we are, the inequality has been drastically escalated over the past 60 days. All the businesses that have failed are local and retail, and all the ones that are succeeding are upper class tech jobs. Shit, Amazon went from 18% of the retail market to 28% in 60 days. It was previously growing 1% a year. That can’t be good for the middle and lower class.

America doesn’t work for half the country and we need to figure out a ways for it to do so. I‘m open to ideas but think a good start would be a $20 minimum wage. That seems logical. Can someone tell me why we shouldn’t do that? Continue reading “80: War, Famine, or Revolution”

SpaceX Space Suit

79: Awesome Space Suits

The one good piece of news happening these days is the rocket launch on Sunday. It went off without a hitch and is the first time we’ve sent astronauts into space in 9 years. It was a pretty amazing.

I also have to say the space suits were a nice upgrade from the old ones. I mean even the suits in Armageddon were better than what NASA has been wearing. Here are the 1962 suits and 2011 suits (the last time they went up):

The original seven Mercury astronauts in their spacesuits in 1962.NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch in Sokol pressure suits

Continue reading “79: Awesome Space Suits”

Man throwing flowers instead of bombs

78: More Protesting and Rioting

Police + Public

We’re now five days away from George Floyd’s death and we’re getting to a better place. On Saturday all I saw was police officers using batons, tear gas and rubber bullets. There was a lot of pain.

Yesterday, at first I saw something different. I saw people coming together and some police joining in with protesters to express their stance against police brutality, and to show solidarity with the anti-racism movement.

Continue reading “78: More Protesting and Rioting”

77: TikTok

I’m thinking about TikTok. As I browse through the web, I see that the most creative and fun videos are always coming from TikTok, and the creativity and influence is only increasing. Let’s talk a bit about it.

If you haven’t downloaded and used TikTok, you’re in the minority. The service has over 1 BILLION daily active users and is by far the best place to consume short videos. The company is likely worth $200 billion and is not only the most valuable startup but one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Some interesting facts about TikTok and ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok:

  • The only real competitor to Google and Facebook is ByteDance. If anyone is taking down the big dogs, it’s them.
  • The company’s roots are in a news aggregator in China (called Toutiao) that is a dominant source of news in China. The company did $20 billion in revenue in 2019. So, not small potatoes.
  • TikTok’s success is due to many reasons but mainly its slick user experiences. There is no signin or account creation required, it’s mobile-first in a much better way than YouTube, and videos are super short – initially limited to 15 seconds which reduces the friction of both creation and consumption.

  • There’s lots of content. They claim 34% of US users shoot content daily.
  • The cross-cultural nature of user-generated video has stronger network effects than traditional news. A silly video uploaded in Thailand is potentially interesting to someone in Romania and the US.
  • It’s doesn’t rely at all on friends, following, or even having an account. Their algorithm recommends content based on an individual user’s view history, re-watches, likes, comments, shares, and even post-view activity. It’s all AI. The AI is the product really.
  • It grew by spending TONS of money. It spend $3 million a day throughout 2019 to acquire users.

There’s lots more I could say about it but this is clearly the era of TikTok and if you think that you’ve heard the end of it, well just wait. It’s just now reaching more and more people and we’re probably 2 years away from mainstream media realizing it exists which means we’ll get a whole other round of “have you heard of TikTok?”

A few sample videos from yesterday that rolled up just so you can see range. It’s fishing, jokes, and lots and lots of dancing:

Continue reading “77: TikTok”

Newsweek Cover

Day 33: Reverse Quarantine

What I’m Thinking About: Reverse Quarantine

This is the first time i’ve heard about letting the 45 year olds and younger out and back into society as a way to restart society and get to the general population to herd immunity. If you do it, it’s basically as dangerous as the flu. Interesting to think about.

Continue reading “Day 33: Reverse Quarantine”

Day 32: Tech to the Rescue

What I’m Thinking About: Tracking Through Tech

I’m really interested in the privacy implications and the technology behind how we track people who have recovered and keep track of those are infected as we will need to do to get back to our lives. Without doing this, this shelter-in-place will just continue until a vaccine arrives – which is just too damn long.

Google/Apple have formed an alliance that will help track people that are infected. The way it works is:

An app on your phone will pass a random and anonymous code to all other phones within a few yards of you, wherever you are (and vice versa). If you test positive, you tell the app, and every other phone in the region checks the codes they’ve seen in the last 14 days, and if there’s a match they can say ‘you’ve been exposed’. This is anonymous and automatic.

This is very cool, but am skeptical that it’ll ever happen because it really only works if governments mandate it and I just don’t see that happening.

On a related note, there’s a new San Francisco company called Onfido that is working with European governments to develop phone-based “immunity passports” for those who have already recovered from COVID-19. This is happening in Europe and is similar to what’s in China. Oh, and just yesterday they raised an additional $100 million.

At My House

We’re digging into the remote learning more deeply this week as our school is starting to get more involved and attentive to what’s happening at home.

That only takes half the day. The other part is spent enjoying the great weather we’ve been sent

Fitness

One of my friends sent me this today. I’ll be joining him:

I do one plank a day during the pandemic, holding it for as long as I can. Have made it to three minutes the last three days. Join me.

… and then I make myself a cocktail almost immediately afterward.

Other Stuff

Now this is a great use of modern technology. Here we have a Twitter account that is judging people’s video call background. Just what the world needed (thx Lizzie)

Thanks Jackie!

Check these out. Might as well keep safe in style:

Cases

New York added two thousands deaths to their list who were people they hadn’t tested:

(spreadsheet)

Only 64 more days to go

 

Atlantic Cover Crayons

Day 31: Reopening the Economy

What I’m Thinking About: Reopening the Economy

Yesterday, Governor Newsom revealed a six-point plan to reopen California’s economy. Did he give a timeframe? Nope, but he did say what they are going to do to make it happen. They have 6 areas of focus:

  1. Lots of testing so we can isolate people who test positive
  2. Preventing high-risk groups (older people, those with asthma) from getting infected
  3. Getting hospitals the resources they need to handle more cases
  4. Getting drugs to help those who are sick
  5. Ability for schools and child care facilities to open or operate remotely and equipment for workplaces so they could possibly open
  6. Figure out when let people out of their homes

I’m pumped that they’re focused on this so that we can figure out what the next part of 2020 looks like.

Of course, Trump is pissed that someone else is calling the shots. His take:

What Else? Getting Groceries.

Seven in 10 people now consider going to the grocery store a risky act — and a majority of Americans say they’ve started wearing masks outside their homes at least sometimes

Not surprising as this is the one activity that we all must do and it’s the one time we’re getting out of the house. It is scary – especially when you see that old guy touching every single avocado to find the one that’s perfectly ripe. Come on dude.

Other Items

One interesting read in WSJ (paywall) is about how San Francisco was spared thousands of lives when the 49’ers lost the Super Bowl as it really eliminated a bunch of mass gatherings.

New Jersey knows their audience:

After Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden over live-streamed video, Jimmy Kimmel said: “That’s a very powerful message for the country — if two 80-year-old men can successfully log into a Zoom meeting, anything is possible.”

A recorded Easter call:

I had thought that everyone had Netflix already. Apparently there was room to grow. The crazy curve is Disney+ that went from 0 to 50million in no time. Today is the day that Comcast launches their Peacock service, only to Comcast subscribers though. Others get it in July.

As if our front-line workers weren’t badass enough, here’s a quick video of doctor’s holding a cello and piano recital at a New York hospital:

Finally, in a move that surprises nobody:

 

Cases

(spreadsheet)

Only 64 more days to go