Cold Takes

Hello From My iPad… No, Wait

(First published on 2/23/17 on Cold Takes, my newsletter — more)

So, here’s a first. Trying to edit a newsletter issue entirely on my iPad. Let’s see how this goes…

Even this many years into the iPad’s existence, I still feel like I can’t travel with it as my only “computer” (beyond the iPhone, of course) because there are still a few edge cases where I need the full-blown laptop to do something. Publishing tends to be one of them. While Medium is close to feature parity with publishing on the web versus via their mobile app, it’s not 100%.

I suspect trying to publish this newsletter will be even more problematic (though I am using the web on the iPad, of course) because of all the various JavaScript bells and whistles. Speaking of, just noticed a glitch, stand by…

Update: Hello from my trusty old MacBook. Sure enough, a few things didn’t work — namely, trying to indent blocks of text for quotes. Also, moving any of the content around (which is drag-and-drop on the desktop) was a no-go. And overall, it was still just a much slower process to try to do this that way.

One day. One day…


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Image for post
Artist’s conception of the view from the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f

Seven ‘Earthlike’ Planets Orbiting an “Ultracool Dwarf”

Sarah Kaplan on one of the most “holy shit” discoveries in recent years:

The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultracool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of the sun and about a quarter as warm.

Yep, that’s an “ultracool dwarf” with a name connected to beer. What’s not to like so far…

Whatever secrets it may harbor, the TRAPPIST-1 system will surely be a sight to behold. Though the star is small, its nearness to the planets means that, from their perspective, it appears about three times as large as our sun. The outermost planets enjoy the daily spectacle of their neighbors passing across the sky and in front of their shared sun, each world a large dark spot silhouetted against the salmon-colored star. Its dim glow, which skews toward the red and infrared end of the light spectrum, bathes the planets in warmth and paints their skies with the crimson hues of a perpetual sunset.

What a fantastic last sentence.

The fact the planets are in orbital resonance also suggests that they formed farther out from their sun and then migrated inward, Gillon said. This makes it more likely that they will contain water in some form, since water and other volatile compounds (molecules that readily turn to gas) tend to concentrate on the outer edges of solar systems.

Coincidentally, TRAPPIST-1 is located in the constellation Aquarius — the water bearer.

Boom. Interstellar mic drop.

5ish Links


The Indian iPhone

Ruchika Chitravanshi & Gulveen Aulakh reporting on the possibility of Apple starting to manufacture the iPhone SE (the cheaper, smaller iPhone) in India:

“While the immediate advantage would be the tax benefit of 10–12% if it is manufactured (here) compared with imports, it will also give Apple an edge in India, which is the fastest-growing large market, as opposed to slow growth in China,” said Navkendar Singh, senior research manager, client devices, at IDC India.

Seems like a no-brainer move for Apple. The iPhone has proven time and time again to be too expensive in India (even the cheaper “SE” and “C” varieties) and the additional 10–12% tax noted above certainly hasn’t helped. I wouldn’t expect Apple to go full-on discount mode and match competitors in price, but I do think they’ll try to get a lot closer, while still being at the top of the price range. A billion-plus users are up for grabs…

Gatesrobot poster
Gatesrobot poster

Bill Gates’ Robot Tax

Kevin J. Delaney:

In a recent interview with Quartz, Gates said that a robot tax could finance jobs taking care of elderly people or working with kids in schools, for which needs are unmet and to which humans are particularly well suited. He argues that governments must oversee such programs rather than relying on businesses, in order to redirect the jobs to help people with lower incomes. The idea is not totally theoretical: EU lawmakers considered a proposal to tax robot owners to pay for training for workers who lose their jobs, though on Feb. 16 the legislators ultimately rejected it.

Yes, Bill Gates, the richest man on the planet, is to the left of the EU on this topic. I think we all get where he’s trying to go with this, but it just doesn’t seem to make any sense. The line is too gray. What is a robot? Is a PC a robot? Certainly it has some robot-like qualities. And certainly Gates wouldn’t want to see all PCs, the vast majority of which still run Microsoft Windows, taxed this way…

Of course, I’m also willing to admit that Gates is a genius and has probably thought about this far more than many of us in the Twittersphere. So maybe we’re all just missing something (but I doubt it). In general, I find that a good rule for business is not to be to the left of the EU on anything…

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 1x 1

NBA Starts a New Pro League Based on Video-Game Basketball

Eben Novy-Williams:

The NBA 2K eLeague will be jointly owned by NBA and Take Two, which has sold more than 68 million copies of NBA 2K games. Player salaries and team prizes are still to be determined, along with how — and where — fans will be able to watch. Some events will be live, with games also streaming online and possibly on television. Holt said the league has spoken to all 30 NBA teams and expects roughly half to participate in the first season.

What an interesting idea for the NBA to try. Without question, they seem to be the most forward-thinking major sports league (at least in the U.S.) these days. MLB does some smart things too, but you could never see them doing something like this. The NFL will get around to doing something like this in 2050. When they’re a shadow of their former selves

Quick Hits

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1*zfcmzu nt7jw5ea24y5joq

How to Never Run Out of Ideas Again

Some great tips culled from no less than the uber-prolific writer Isaac Asimov.


Deciding Our f8

My old OMG/JK partner-in-crime, Jason Kincaid, is back to blogging about Facebook, just like the old days…

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0*dxrh blnplqmuks4?1487869516

My Electric Car Is Really Like a Phone

Lots of good insight by Steven Sinofsky into the current realities of owning an electric car.

500ish Words


The Beautiful Sound of Twitter Mute

Another good old rant about Twitter. This time about the “mute” functionality, which they just borked.

(First published on 2/23/17 on Cold Takes, my newsletter)

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Writer turned investor turned investor who writes. General Partner at GV. Writer at 500ish. I write to think. 🍻

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