Monthly Archives: June 2011

Kind of Screwed

But this is important: the fact that I settled is not an admission of guilt. My lawyers and I firmly believe that the pixel art is “fair use” and Maisel and his counsel firmly disagree. I settled for one reason: this was the least expensive option available.
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The story 8-bit pixel art based on the famous cover of Miles Davies’ Kind of Blue. Andy Baio, who commissioned the artwork, got sued by Jay Maisel, the author of original photo used on the cover. While Baio lost in court, the internet mob stood by him and Maisel had to close his Facebook page due to the torrent of angry comments.

Sad as Hell

I have the sensation, as do my friends, that to function as a proficient human, you must both “keep up” with the internet and pursue more serious, analog interests. I blog about real life; I talk about the internet. It’s so exhausting to exist on both registers, especially while holding down a job. It feels like tedious work to be merely conversationally competent. I make myself schedules, breaking down my commute to its most elemental parts and assigning each leg of my journey something different to absorb: podcast, Instapaper article, real novel of real worth, real magazine of dubious worth. I’m pretty tired by the time I get to work at 9 AM.

That’s the best piece I’ve read in a while. An essay on the anxiety of living in our times.

I Eliminated the Free Plan from my Web App for a Month: Here’s What Happened.

Also — and this is definitely my fault — 205 people filled out the sign up page and then abandoned the process on the Checkout page. Why? Most people probably didn’t realize they had to pay before using it. Sure, the Pricing page said “$29 for Unlimted Access” without mentioning a free account and Step #2 of the sign up process was called “Checkout”, but overall the copy didn’t clearly indicate that you had to pay before you could use the app.

Another problem is that the site doesn’t include a demo. It includes examples, but nothing the user can create on their own. Adding a demo section so that new users can get that “Oh cool” moment would have gone a long way.

Interesting case study on freemium vs. paid-only model for a application.

More App Store Economics: Case Study of 10M download game, monetized through ads. How much money?

If we calculate it across the total number of Wooden Labyrinth 3D games downloaded, Qvik has earned a “massive” 0.24 Euro cents (0.3 US cents) per game download. One quarter of one Euro cent, or almost one third of one US cent, per downloaded game. Thats your business case right there.

On making money from mobile apps. Worth reading.

Microsoft: no way to support WebGL and meet our security needs

Three main concerns are enumerated in the post: WebGL exposes too much sensitive, privileged, or unhardened code to the Web; depends too heavily on third-party code for security; and is too susceptible to denial of service attacks. The first of these is perhaps most significant. Video hardware and video drivers are traditionally only exposed to relatively “trusted” code—programs that the user has explicitly chosen to install. Display drivers are notoriously unstable and buggy, and developers of 3D software have to go to quite some effort to ensure their programs do not use (or misuse) the 3D hardware in such a way as to cause problems.

Microsoft refuses to implement WebGL, giving security as a reason. Interestingly, it’s not an issue for every other browser out there and even for Microsoft’s very own Silverlight… It’s worth to read response of the VP of Technology at Mozilla, Mike Shaver.

5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make with Stock Options

If the company has taken $10 million of financing (at a 1x preference) that leaves $20 million to be split among the shareholders. You’ve vested half your 0.2 percent, so you get 0.1 percent, or $20,000 before taxes. Since exits are taxed federally as income (~25 percent) and you live in California (~9 percent state tax), you get to keep $13,200. That’s $550 for each of the 24 months you just worked your ass off. Oh, and in many deals, most of this money is not doled out right away to employees. It’s only offered after one to three years of successful employment at the acquiring company, to keep you around. Oy.
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Why stock options in a startup are almost always a worse deal than they seem to be.

Whoops and hashbangs

So, yes, yes; URLs are used as a key for locating documents and resources across the web. That is all well and good. But I’m thinking; what happens when the web hosts things other than documents and resources? Like applications? Like games? Like physical objects? What happens when we need to serve humans based on other signals, such as their location, the time of day, their context, their intent?

Reflections on a distinction between web resources requiring URL’s and mere application states.

NDAs and Contracts That You Should Never Sign

On a similar note, a lot of companies have the audacity to put non-compete clauses in their employment contracts. Typically, this says that you agree not to work for one of their “competitors” or even “potential competitors” (which is never very well defined) for a period, usually 1 or 2 years, after leaving the company.

This is completely outrageous. I signed such a contract at Microsoft without paying too much attention. When I left, I realized that because Microsoft has a finger in everything related to software, technically I could not work in my field AT ALL for 12 months after leaving Microsoft.

Note to self: read this article before signing up for the next gig.

Science’s Breakthrough of the Year: runners up

One major breakthrough was the publication of the Neanderthal nuclear genome. The DNA was a composite of three female Neanderthals who lived in Croatia around 40,000 years ago. The completion of this task allowed researchers to compare the genetic makeup of Neanderthals and modern humans from around the world. This comparison indicated that modern Europeans and Asians, but not Africans, shared a small percentage of their genes with Neanderthals, which suggested a level of interbreeding between the two species in our distant past. This result will cause anthropologists to revisit how humans spread across the planet and how they interacted with other species they encountered.

Highlights of scientific discoveries from 2010.