Honestly, in the world of weird product moves, the 5C is right up there. A (relatively) high-priced, low-featured, candy coated version of a year-old product seemed like a misstep from day one, and sales numbers have proven that out. But now, Apple is rearranging some deck chairs to create a lower-capacity, slightly cheaper version of the iPhone 5C for the “mid-tier” smartphone market. It sounds to me like the mid-tier is something Apple’s invented to justify the existence of the 5C; looking around me, the market seems firmly split between low-end and high-end phones. Apple continues to win the high-end, but until they start really participating in the low-end, Apple market share will continue to erode, and I can’t imagine the “mid-tier” having much of an effect.

Congratulations, Turkey!

On lifting your 85-year ban of the letter “Q.” W, and X were also banned. It sounds like an incongruous piece of piece of history – perhaps the whim of a dictator – but it was actually part of the Turkish “Romanisation” after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, when the whole country was switched from the Arabic alphabet to the Roman one:

Romanisation, it was argued, would help standardize Turkish spelling, improve literacy, and allow for cheaper and more convenient printing (the Arabic script required more than 400 pieces of type). But the reform had other, political aims: imposing cultural homogeneity and assimilating Turkey’s minorities.  (http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/10/16/yasmine-seale/q-v-k/#sthash.HfeW0P6T.dpuf)

Interesting! Reminds me of the introduction of the simplified Chinese ideograms.

New characters were added to the alphabet to accommodate Turkish phonology – ğ, ı, ü, ş – while others were left out. One does not go to the “Maxim” Restaurant, but to the “Maksim”.’  (http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/10/16/yasmine-seale/q-v-k/#sthash.HfeW0P6T.dpuf)

Of course, it was also turned into a tool of political oppression, seen by many as a move to further marginalize the Kurdish minority. Read more via the links above.

 

LinkThing.co – Better Website Bookmarking

http://linkthing.co is a website bookmarking tool, designed for people that read a lot, and like to bookmark, search, and organize. Its a simple tool, with a deceptively powerful hashtagging system that makes it easy to keep things sorted. Hashtag your bookmarks when you save them, and you’re good to go – save your #recipes, articles on #conservative #politics, #travel destinations, #coding #references, or whatever your interests may be.

Recently I’ve been putting effort into stripping features – I’ve cut out a number of things (like Twitter integration) that were bolted on, instead of well thought-out. As a result, LinkThing is refocused on the core experience of bookmarking and organizing those bookmarks.

Take a look, share your thoughts, hit me with any questions!

 

Nokia / Microsoft Deal Leaves BlackBerry out in the cold

One notable thing that I haven’t seen in the coverage of the Nokia/BlackBerry deal is that BlackBerry is now basically treading water alone, with sharks circling. I had always hoped that Microsoft would be a suitor for BlackBerry – BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server and mobile security controls would have been a nice fit with existing Microsoft products like Exchange and Active Directory.

Now that Microsoft has firmly hitched its mobile horse to Nokia (which I guess they’d really already done with the Windows Phone 8 licensing deal, and the temporary loan of Stephen Elop), I don’t see who else would be in the market for a struggling mobile hardware maker.

Perhaps a patent troll, looking for value in the BlackBerry patent portfolio? Or perhaps an enterprise that thinks there’s untapped value in BlackBerry’s emerging market presence?

TIL: The Incas had Neither Merchants nor Money, and Invented Communism

So how do you become a continent-dominating empire without cash? In the case of the Incas, it’s likely that the technologies that granted them agricultural surplus (extra food and textile materials) helped them with their expansive empire-building. Food was their coin; pure labor structured their economy.

Some have argued that the Inca Empire was the ideal socialist state, while others have called it an authoritarian monarchy. [IO9]

Source: IO9 “The greatest mystery of the Inca Empire was its strange economy

Oregon: “Paying it Forward” with Free University/College

Some Oregonians are putting forward a bold plan: free college. No tuition, no loans – instead, post-graduation earnings would be mildly garnished:

“A student going to a state college in Oregon wouldn’t take out any loans or owe any money for tuition while earning a degree. Instead, upon graduating the student would pay the state back a small percentage of her income for 20 to 25 years. The amount of repayment would be 0.75% of the student’s annual income per year of schooling — so, for example, someone who got a 4-year bachelors degree would pay 3% of income for 20 to 25 years. The money would go into a trust fund set up to fund future generations of students. ” [TIME.com]

On one hand, its a loan by another name. It can also be thought of as an income tax surcharge. It could also be considered a disincentive to gainful employment. And arguably, administration and enforcement would be a nightmare in today’s peripatetic society.

On the other hand, it lowers the barriers to entry to education. Many European nations have successfully implemented free university plans, and that access contributes to higher standards of living, higher mobility, lower class stratification, and healthier societies (subject to your definition of a healthy society of course).

In my opinion, access to education is a critical part of societal health, and the Oregonian plan seems to place the burden of funding education on those who will directly benefit from it the most (the students), in a manner that is onerous  on neither the students (low “interest rates”) nor future generations.

What other ideas are there out there?

When Dr. Alibekov sat down with the CIA, he had a terrifying secret to reveal: that bio weapons program the Soviet Union stopped in the 1980′s hadn’t actually stopped at all.

The threat of scientists going rogue, he said, is “a serious concern.” “We’re doing our best to employ these people. Our hope is that through gainful employment they won’t be drawn down other avenues.” [VICE]

The former Soviet Union will always be the scariest boogeyman.

Your Ancestors Didn’t Sleep Like You

Turns out people used to sleep for a few hours, wake up, have a snack, visit the neighbors, read, shag, etc. for a few hours, and then go back to sleep until morning. So says Virginia Tech, Oxford, and numerous other places who have pieced the evidence for this behaviour together from literature, church records, etc.

“The middle hours of the night, between two sleeps, was characterized by unusual calmness, likened to meditation. This was not the middle-of-the-night toss-and-turn that many of us experienced. The individuals did not stress about falling back asleep, but used the time to relax.” (Slumberwise)

Huh – OK, that sounds pretty nice, I guess. But I just can’t imagine being particularly well rested after the two sleeps – more like groggy and fuzzy after a sleepless night. Plus, I don’t naturally wake up in the middle of the night – I tend to sleep through. I suppose its all what you’re used to. In any event, just because our ancestors used to do it doesn’t make it a good thing. After all, my ancestors (many of who are alive and well!) used to find smoking to be quite a relaxing pastime as well.