Tim Cook Rejects Conservative Group’s Politics, Suggests They Sell Apple’s Stock

What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing [Apple CEO] Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR’s advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.

“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.

Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook

Matt Haughey:

If I haven’t talked to someone in 20 years, the level of detail I’d like to see is what you typically see in letters from a family that accompany their holiday cards. Let me see a photo, how many kids do you have, what trips did you recently take, where are you working, how is everyone doing, and that’s about all I want to know for the next 20 years.

Millennial Cohort Will Have Oversized Impact on Retail, Real Estate

This is a really good article explaining how the U.S. will be impacted as Millennials gain influence.

A few quotes that might pique your interest:

  • “[Millennials] are far less skeptical of government programs. In fact, many echo boomers believe government should do more to solve their problems.”
  • “The internet is drawing echo boomers away from television—particularly costly cable subscriptions.”
  • “The automobile thrills echo boomers much less than it did—and still does—their parents. One reason is that many of the young who can afford an automobile prefer to live in cities or mixed-use suburban locations.”
  • “Many higher-income/highly educated echo boomers grew up in the suburbs, but have happily abandoned life there for life in the cities.”
  • “Target, Walmart, and Best Buy already have developed smaller prototypes and are locating them in cities and larger suburban agglomerations, while at the same time closing some of their suburban and exurban stores.”
  • “During the 1980s and 1990s, business owners and managers were usually in the driver’s seat of the labor market, and thus were able to locate their offices in suburban locations close to their homes. But the shortage of creative talent with tech skills has made it much more important to locate the offices of startup companies and the businesses that need to interact with them where the talent they seek wants to live.”

But you should read the whole thing.

Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have ‘Nothing to Hide’

Privacy is rarely lost in one fell swoop. It is usually eroded over time, little bits dissolving almost imperceptibly until we finally begin to notice how much is gone. When the government starts monitoring the phone numbers people call, many may shrug their shoulders and say, “Ah, it’s just numbers, that’s all.” Then the government might start monitoring some phone calls. “It’s just a few phone calls, nothing more.” […] Each step may seem incremental, but after a while, the government will be watching and knowing everything about us.

The Facebook experiment has failed

I am signed into Facebook right now. At a quick glance, the entire list of posts on the first screen are irrelevant to me. If I scrolled down I can find 4 stories I actually care about, from a list of about 30. The most important page on Facebook has more than three-fourths of absolutely useless content.

What’s the matter with metadata?

[Former Sun Microsystems engineer Susan Landau] explained that the government can learn immense amounts of proprietary information by studying “who you call, and who they call. If you can track that, you know exactly what is happening—you don’t need the content.”

Ryan Singel puts it another way:

Think of it as how the Internet is built of links. There’s a lot of knowledge just in those links.

This American Life and Planet Money on patents

Last week, both This American Life and Planet Money covered the insanity of modern-day patent law in the United States.

Planet Money focused mostly on a company called Personal Audio, which claims to own a patent covering the concept of podcasting. Personal Audio sued Apple in 2009 and ended up winning $8 million dollars. But now they’re going after the small guys; they’re threatening to sue individual podcasters like Adam Carolla, Marc Maron, and Jesse Thorn.

What’s disturbing is that Personal Audio didn’t invent any of the technology used for podcasting. But they do have broadly-worded patents that cover ideas like a “system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence.”

This American Life covers some other broadly-worded patents that protect ideas like backing up information via the internet, broadcasting a wi-fi network in a public space, and scanning a document to be emailed.

The formula seems to be:

  1. Inventor A comes up with an idea, but fails to make that idea into a successful product.
  2. Inventor B comes along years later and actually succeeds at making that product.
  3. Inventor A (or a company that now owns the patent) sues Inventor B for patent infringement.

Since the patent system was intended to encourage innovation, and it’s doing the exact opposite, I’d say the system is broken.

U.S. Internet Users Pay More for Slower Service

In 2004, the [Lafayette, Louisiana] utilities system decided to provide a fiber-to-the-home [Internet] service. […]

From 2007 to mid-2011, people living in Lafayette saved $5.7 million on telecommunications services. […]

According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance […] these community-owned networks are generally faster, more reliable and cheaper than those of the private carriers, and provide better customer service. […]

In 2011, six Time Warner lobbyists persuaded the North Carolina legislature to pass a “level playing field” bill making it impossible for cities in that state to create their own high-speed Internet access networks.

Thanks, Time Warner Cable!

As you surely know, the public is growing increasingly skeptical of prohibitions on the use of many electronic devices during the full duration of a flight, while at the same time using such devices in increasing numbers. For example, a traveler can read a paper copy of a newspaper throughout a flight, but is prohibited from reading the same newspaper for major portions of the flight when reading it on an e-reader. The fear of devices that operate on electricity is dated, at best. […]

While safety and security must be the top priority in air travel, the FAA and other federal agencies should also work to ensure air travel is as hassle free as possible by revising or removing regulations that have become unnecessary or outdated. It is my hope that the FAA will work, with the FCC and other federal agencies where appropriate, as expeditiously as possible to implement common sense changes to todays restrictive regulations on in-flight use of PEDs that better reflect new technologies and the changing role these devices play in Americans daily lives. While the agency can and should use existing authorities to allow for the broader use of PEDs, I am prepared to pursue legislative solutions should progress be made too slowly.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill writing to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta regarding the use of electronic devices in the air

Google Rivals in Kansas City Want the Same Incentives

To entice Google Inc. to build its ultra-high-speed fiber network there, Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., offered the Internet company sweeteners including several free or discounted city services. Now, Time Warner Cable Inc. and AT&T Inc., the incumbent Internet and TV providers in town, are angling to get the same deal.

Too bad.

If Time Warner or AT&T came out with an ambitious plan to offer residents ultra-fast fiber-to-the-home Internet access–like Google did–they would have gotten the same deals.

But they didn’t.