Life & Kids

I am slowly coming to the belief that any intellectual enlightenment; any major achievement in the sciences; any serious accumulation of knowledge must happen before you have kids.

(And I say slowly simply because I have so little time to contemplate life nowadays… )

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Sharing Music

It is really peculiar to recount the history of unauthorized music sharing. While Napster and its kin suffered a history bloodier than any Tudor, YouTube seemed to stand tall amidst an acid rain of lawsuits:
Apparently, if you slap a bunch of family album pictures to the sound of Abba, you’ve created new art and are not in direct copyright violation.

This gave YouTube the time to formulate an acceptable revenue sharing model which most labels accepted, possibly as a last resort in a foredoomed battle.
So today we are used to searching YT for music, simply because that’s the only player that didn’t fold in a decade. Additionally, this is the only service that is truely internationalized and free, unlike e.g. Spotify or Grooveshark. This is probably since YT expanded during the wild west of music copyright, and thus was able to put its foot through the door.

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Why CSS Sucks

There are many reasons CSS sucks, but here are the main two:

  • CSS relies on hierarchy for positioning, visibility & property inheritance. Therefore, it cannot be separated from the markup & interaction like some HTML purists suggest.
  • When positioning elements, one of two options can be used:
    • In the flow, which means automatic height & collection of inline assets into blocks, but very hard to tweak the default decisions.
    • Out of the flow, which more or less forces use of fixed dimensions for anything positioned this way.

If you still think CSS is awesome, try this: In a large text box, position a fixed-dimension image at the bottom-right, such that text will wrap around it.

I hope to further look into the workings of CSS in future posts.

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of Robotic Servants

There are a bunch of outdatingly sexy commercials from the 50s about the automated kitchen. As is common with prophecies, the depicted kitchen is a classic top-down design with all components seamlessly integrated (and by extension, non-interchangeable).

Today’s kitchen is highly automated already: dishwashers, bread makers, vegetable choppers and smart ovens. Unlike the kitchen of the future vision, it’s a classic bottom up design, meaning components are in variety, each one more multi-use/autonomous than the vision’s counterpart, but on the other hand not allowing a seamless experience (e.g. Can’t transfer content from machine A to B; some “hard problems”, such as inventory monitoring, still unsolved).

Another big difference is that the present, semi-automatic kitchen seems so casual when in fact it is so awesome. As Louis C.K. put it so nicely for flight: “you’re sitting on a chair. IN THE SKY.”

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of Defaults

I think modern day startups already get it, but I haven’t seen it explicitly stated, so let me say this:

For consumer products, it is by far more important to get the defaults right than to provide extra customization. Apple are the champions of great defaults.

To get great defaults you have to either be Steve Jobs, RIP, or to properly research the market to find what most people would be satisfied with, and then iterate ferociously on making those select features awesome.

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It is better to do and repent
Than not do and repent

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Education 2.0

Seeing Kahn speak at TED reassured me that the classroom indeed has a future (current state: sucks ass). The day is not far when Kahn’s Academy hands out degrees as honorable as Harvard’s or Oxford’s. The main obstacle would probably be credible identity establishment, a problem currently worked on by Facebook and PayPal.

Thanks go to Omer for sharing.

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Cutting your losses

Admitting to failure is one of the suckiest experiences in a human life. You never know whether you’re a lousy quitter or the only one going against a herd of idiots. This psychological discomfort makes people cling to worthless stock, reject modern technology and work at dead-end jobs – The latter being my hypothesized case.

The past 6 months have been spent working on three separate web projects. All three exciting, all three could not lift up. The first lacked an able CEO (and perhaps much more) whereas the latter two lacked a vision and had an unbalanced team.

The single most important takeaway for me is that building a consumer-facing business is not a flat world as I first imagined. If you build it, you have to make them come.

There is a crucial role for marketers to carefully select the distribution channels; The process of identifying a product and knowing that it is “right” when you have only a handful of users is very elusive; and working as a team (as opposed to a committee) requires a special type of people with some relevant experience or unique abilities.

Most importantly, consumer-facing businesses are rarely built for a flat audience. Facebook, for example, started in the cozy college niche. You have to find a smaller community to grow in (and I tumbled about this a while ago).

Wrapping up this bag, and needing some money, it seems like I’m back to day-jobbing. Round #2 in my startup life might be over, but there will be a round #3.

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Founders, Coders & The Wheel Going Round

Sometimes I am delusional thinking low-level optimization is part of the past; A problem to be tackled by a niche of a niche of the world’s software development. Then I remember that the Internet is far from mature.

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The Israeli Government Hackathon

As promised, an event has been set up to allow people to meet in a temporary, yet completely real work environment.

The Govt. Hack-a-thon is an event purposed at improving the Open Knesset website, allowing better monitoring of the Israeli legislative authority. From measuring the fulfillment of policies down to observing work habits of specific parliament members, the prospects are endless.

The hack-a-thon will take place this upcoming weekend. It will be held in a small house in the Israeli countryside, overlooking several acres of plowed fields. The hebrew registration page can be found here. If anyone requires English, please let me know.

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