Google Now Expands Reach, Integrates 70 More Services

Siri did this years ago -- heralding a new future of inter-app/service connectivity. And then Apple bought it and cut it way back. It's obviously considerably more ingrained into the Apple experience now -- I use it every day on my phone, iPad and Watch, and it's irreplaceable for driving around LA -- but I do wonder when and if they'll open it up to 3rd party services. iOS 8 extensions are maybe a good sign. At least we know they're not fundamentally against interoperability anymore.

...the more you learn to trust Google to deliver the right mix—the things you need right now, the things you’ll need in an hour, and the score to the game you missed that last that you desperately want to know—the more powerful Now becomes. For Google, that process is all about collecting more data.

Of course -- there's the rub. 1+1 doesn't necessarily equal 3, but while the more you use it, the more powerful and helpful Now becomes, it's also vital to remember how Google makes (nearly all of) their money. Collecting your data, and selling it against ad space. Are you comfortable with it?

The difference for me is, and I've said this before -- I want to know that I'm the customer, and where a company is making their money. If Apple (or someone else with a similar track record) could collect the same data and provide the same awesome service, but keep the data contained to the service itself, I'd pay hand over fist. Bring on the smart, automated future. 

Lastly: there's Foursquare. They've been collecting data the whole time. Somebody's gonna buy them. Sounds like they think it's Microsoft. 


Asimov on Humanity


“...Dr. Seldon, you disturb the peace of the Emperor’s realm. None of the quadrillions living now among all the stars of the Galaxy will be living a century from now. Why, then, should we concern ourselves with events of three centuries distance?”

“I shall not be alive half a decade hence,” said Seldon, “and yet it is of overpowering concern to me. Call it idealism. Call it an identification of myself with that mystical generalization to which we refer by the term, ‘humanity.’ ”

I'm re-reading "Foundation" and as when I was much younger, I'm struck by this brief exchange (from 1942, loosely based on the "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" writings) that defines our inability to look to and plan for the future.

Vital projects that range from fixing public school education, to rebuilding public infrastructure, to planetary science and outward exploration are suffering and setting our country and entire species back. Will we ever look forward? Will we ever truly set the stage for our grandchildren to chart the stars from an intimate seat amongst the vast depths of space?

Jon Gruber on Obamacare

A very candid, thoughtful post by Daring Fireball creator and entrepreneur Jon Gruber. 

This situation is becoming the norm, despite the substantial hiccups and Republican bullshit. Growing pains are going to continue (and yes, OF COURSE, they didn't need to be as drastic or clusterfuck-y as they've been so far), but they'll eventually recede and when they do, the greater good wins. 

In the game of health care, access and affordability, we're losing late in the 4th quarter. We're bottoming out in care rankings, no one can afford coverage and it's driving the country broke. 

But we have a chance. We have to stay the course.


The New Yorker: What's In A Google Phone?

Even as an ardent Apple product user, I have to admit that the entire prospect of Google Now sounds appealing. Your phone, finally sending you help -- not you asking for it. Push, not pull. Siri can't do that.

I imagine millions will opt-in, and Google Now will drive Android to new levels of success. It's futuristic, easy and cool. If you already use Google Search and other Google products, you don't have to do anything new for Google Now to work for you. Just say yes. Apple will be seen as behind the curve, even as we give more security away, with inevitable and massive personal data breaches and data dumps.

On that note: having already been involved in outrageous hacking plots, I sign into Google as rarely as possible for the simple reason that I don't want my internet habits tracked, and therefore couldn't use Google Now to its fullest potential. I use DuckDuckGo for search, and I opt for other paid products as often as possible (SmugMug, Evernote, etc). I want my money -- not advertising sold against my info -- to be the source of a company's revenue.

I want to be the customer. I don't want to be the product.


The Problem With Netflix

I love Netflix. I love their content, their library and their balls. I own the stock. But they have one glaring issue, as analyst Michael Pachter pointed out in this piece.

He also thinks Netflix will be in trouble if it doesn’t start owning its content, rather than leasing it. “Someone else produces content, Netflix buys exclusive rights for a very limited period of time, and then Netflix doesn’t own the content anymore,” Pachter said. “This is not the same as the HBO model. They are nothing like HBO. They have a three-year window to show House of Cards. After that, nothing. They don’t own it; they can’t exploit it further unless they pay more. That’s not ownership of content.”