apps

Content websites are increasingly shutting down their comments sections, CNN is reporting. Re/code recently did it, along with Popular Science, Reuters and CNN itself. Comments must be approved before appearing on Gawker websites.

The reasons are the same: trolls, spambots, inflammatory conversation, the pain of moderating, and interestingly, the idea that conversations are moving to social media like Twitter, Facebook and forums.

I don’t know if I’d make the same decision. We haven’t seen much trolling on the Cornerplay — a side benefit of being a smaller, more intimate blog — but according to WordPress, we’ve gotten about 25,000 spam comments so far. That’s crazy. If not for WordPress’ excellent spam filter, that would have been unmanageable.

Yet, checking the comments of an article is one of my favorite things to do. Sometimes, a commenter can provide valuable, additional insight to the article. Sometimes, it’s just seeing a different point of view.

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In my negotiation class at Stanford, we ran an exercise where we bargained contracts with one supplier, two suppliers, three suppliers, etc. The contracts were all different and randomized, so both sides didn’t know what each wanted and valued. However, one thing quickly became clear — even with just two suppliers, the probability of getting a good deal skyrocketed compared to dealing with just one. The more competition, the better for a customer.

That’s common sense of course, but it was illuminating to see it work first hand.

That’s why I have doubts about Uber becoming the next Google even with its amazing revenue growth. You may have heard it’s trying to raise $1 billion at a $17 billion valuation.

It’s impossible to determine Uber’s fair value without concrete numbers, but I do know this: Uber will face intense competition and struggle against it.

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Apple shared a few more details about how the Apple Watch will work — see this excellent Verge article for a good summary. The most interesting part is Apple’s intention next year to enable fully native apps on the watch. This does not necessarily mean the Apple Watch will work without an iPhone, but it certainly makes that a possibility. The question though is…why?

The way Android Wear and Apple Watch (in year 1 at least) generally works is that the phone does most of the heavy lifting while the watch is merely a display that also receives inputs. It’s not unlike thin client computing, where the cloud does the work and the thin client handles output and input. This arrangement makes sense, because then the watch doesn’t need powerful chips or enormous batteries to get a good experience. This controls costs too.

The weakness in cloud computing is that a fast, consistent connection is required. Fortunately, because the phone is usually always with you alongside the watch, and because connectivity is via Bluetooth, smartwatches don’t have that issue.

So why would Apple move to a future where watch apps are standalone? Is technology progressing so rapidly that streamed computing is unnecessary? That can’t be right. Smartphones haven’t yet crossed a threshold where performance gains are unnecessary, and smartwatches are way behind smartphones.

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What? Say it ain’t so. My copy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is in the mail for my Playstation 4 and I’m excited. I’m getting bored of Destiny (my review here) so it’s time to play a new game.

Unfortunately, according to Digital Foundry, CoD for the Playstation 4 has minor frame rate issues in the single player campaign, even though it’s always 1080P. The Xbox One version on the other hand runs a more consistent 60 frames per second but its resolution is variable.

Don’t tell me that my eyes can’t discern past 24 frames per second. It surely can.

As a one time “serious” fighting game player, I can vouch that a rock solid frame rate is the most important thing to a great game experience.

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Have you heard about Destiny? It’s a videogame created by Bungie, the studio that developed Halo, which is in itself notable, but the real headliner is Activision’s claim that it’s backing Destiny with a $500 million budget. That’s half a billion dollars for an original intellectual property. Wow!

It’s not like the money is all spent; my understanding is that budget includes marketing, future add-on content (for example, a $20 DLC has already been announced for December) and maintenance. Nevertheless, it’s an insane number for a game that may or may not last. Has any brand new property been burdened with so much hype?

Unfortunately, Destiny launched to tepid reviews — it has an aggregate score of 76 on Metacritic. Which is good but not great, especially considering the gargantuan budget. Compare that with two other original IP shooters that debuted this current console generation: 86 for Titanfall and 82 for Sunset Overdrive.

I got Destiny anyway and to my surprise actually kind of like it.

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A few weeks ago, Satya Nadella called Office 365 the most strategic API for Microsoft. This was echoed by Bill Gates, who in an interview said that getting Office to the next level is a major strategic imperative. They weren’t kidding.

Microsoft made two game changing announcements recently for Office 365:

  1. Office 365 as a platform for third party developers
  2. Unlimited OneDrive storage with every Office 365 subscription

Opening up Office 365 can only add value to consumers and simultaneously keep Microsoft relevant with developers. This is an urgent priority in a mobile world where Windows is a minority; Office 365 on the other hand cuts across all operating systems and devices.

Unlimited OneDrive storage makes Office 365 more attractive than ever; it addresses the competition in both cloud storage and free office programs.

For Microsoft, keeping Office a productivity standard is the next best thing to a Windows monopoly.

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Inbox is a new mail client that The Verge calls “a total reinvention of email from Google.” Which is a bit of an exaggeration, but does demonstrate the excitement many in the tech press have for it.

Inbox is invite only for now; fortunately, Google sent me one and I’ve been using it exclusively the last few days.

How is it? There’s a saying in South East Asia: “Same-same but different.” Countries here have many similarities — ingredients used for cooking, the mix of urban sprawl and vast farmlands, the laidback, friendly culture — but each country has its own twist on things.

Inbox won’t change your life. It’s a pretty client with a few interesting ideas that are more incremental than revolutionary. The potential is certainly there for something truly new and for now, it’s same-same but different.

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