Dustin Curtis

Villain.

Page 8


Nest Labs responds to Honeywell’s thermostat lawsuit

Nest Labs, in an amazing defense against the lawsuit by Honeywell, filed as a civil action in the US District Court of Minnesota,

This lawsuit is a bald effort by Honeywell to inhibit competition from a promising new company and product in a field that Honeywell has dominated for decades.

The “blah-looking controller” on the market today is very often from Honeywell, which has long dominated the thermostat market, but has yet to generate a device that offers ordinary consumers as much as the Nest Learning Thermostat. Instead of countering product innovation with its own new products, Honeywell has a track record of responding to innovation with lawsuits and overextended claims of intellectual property violations. Indeed, in a prior intellectual property case Honeywell brought, the court noted that, “whenever Honeywell learned that a competitor was selling or planned...

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Mark Pincus on failure

Pincus in Bloomberg Businessweek:

I think failing is the best way to keep you grounded, curious, and humble. Success is dangerous because often you don’t understand why you succeeded. You almost always know why you’ve failed. You have a lot of time to think about it.

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Captain’s ‘incompetence’ led to the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship

From the May issue of Vanity Fair:

American captain and nautical analyst John Konrad tells Vanity Fair special correspondent Bryan Burrough that the ship had already been listing starboard, toward the peninsula. When Schettino dropped the ship’s anchors in an attempt to prevent it from falling farther, he instead created the opposite effect. “You can see they let out too much chain,” Konrad says. “I don’t know the precise depths, but if it was 90 meters, they let out 120 meters of chain. So the anchors never caught. The ship then went in sideways, almost tripping over itself, which is why it listed. If he had dropped the anchors properly, the ship wouldn’t have listed so badly.”

How to explain so fundamental a blunder? Video of the chaos on the bridge that night gives insight into the captain’s state of mind. “You can tell he was stunned,” says Konrad. “The captain really froze. It...

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Disney’s Crisis Letter

Twenty years ago, in January of 1991, a very critical 28-page internal memo — written by the then-head of Disney’s film studios, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and distributed to his fellow executives in an effort to refocus their approach — was leaked to the press, and instantly became talk of the industry.

The recent release of the big-budget Dick Tracy movie had been a disappointment and, as a result, Katzenberg was desperate to recapture the magic of old and rid his studio of their extremely costly “blockbuster mentality.” This fascinating, highly quotable memo was his mission statement. Its subsequent circulation in Hollywood caused a huge stir.

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James Cameron meets Neil deGrasse Tyson

Titanic is about to be re-released in theaters, at 4K resolution and in stereoscopic 3D. The entire film has been “remastered,” but only a single scene was changed. James Cameron, speaking to Culture:

Neil deGrasse Tyson sent me quite a snarky email saying that, at that time of year, at that position in the Atlantic, in 1912, when Rose is lying on the piece of driftwood and staring up at the stars, that is not the star field she would have seen. And with my reputation as a perfectionist, I should have known that and I should have put the right star field in.

So I said, ‘All right, you son of a bitch, send me the right stars for the exact time, 4:20 a.m. on April 15th, 1912, and I’ll put it in the movie.’ So that’s the one shot that has been changed.”

I wonder how much work it took to make that change.

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The Post-Post-PC World

Nick Bilton, on Google’s “secret” Glass project, at the NYT Bits Blog:

On Wednesday, Google gave people a clearer picture of its secret initiative called Project Glass. The glasses are the company’s first venture into wearable computing. […]

One person who had used the glasses said: “They let technology get out of your way. If I want to take a picture I don’t have to reach into my pocket and take out my phone; I just press a button at the top of the glasses and that’s it.”

The current Glass prototypes look kind of ridiculous, but the vision for this market is massive. Wearable/embedded computing is, obviously, the post-post-PC world. It’s just going to take a very long time to get there. Watch this incredible video Google released today; it’s certainly enticing:


But what’s the point of creating a “secret” laboratory, where...

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StockTouch, my favorite iOS app

Last night, after I posted a screenshot of Groupon’s stock price from my iPad, some people asked me which app I was using. It’s actually my favorite iOS app, StockTouch.

After I wake up every morning, I grab my iPad and open StockTouch. The first screen I see is an overview of the top 900 US stocks by market cap, split by sector:

StockTouch Overview

This is an incredibly powerful data visualization; it gives an at-a-glance view of the entire market’s health. It also facilitates quick exploration. Touching a sector zooms in to just those companies:

StockTouch Sector

And touching a stock zooms in to the company overview:

StockTouch Company

The UI is gesture-based, so it’s easy to quickly pan around and get a feel for what is going on with the market at any given interval. You can also change the ordering of the companies in each sector box (I sort by market cap, but you can also sort by percentage change or by...

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Can bees have heart attacks?

Fascinating answer by Entomologist Matan Shelomi:

Nope. No blood vessels. […]

Insects have a heart, sometimes, but no arteries or veins. They have an open circulatory system: all their organs just float in a goo called “hemolymph” that is a combination of lymph and blood. Some insects, bees included, have a heart and an aorta (the vessel leading out of the heart) that pumps the blood and gives it some semblance of direction (from the back of the insect to the front), but beyond that there is no circulatory system. The heart floats in the hemolymph along with everything else. No way to stop it from receiving blood flow, because it’s surrounded by it.

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The cost of Groupon’s incompetence

$2.5 billion.

GRPN

On Friday evening, Groupon revised their very first earnings report to the SEC, reporting that the company’s revenue was actually 3% lower than initially reported, increasing losses by $22.6 million. In the 10-K filed yesterday with the SEC, they admitted to having a “material weakness” in their financial reporting structures:

[…] Management concluded as of December 31, 2011 that our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective at the reasonable assurance level due to a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting […]

This is actually the second time Groupon has had to revise its earnings; after their S-1 (the IPO prospectus) was first filed with bizarre accounting procedures, the company was forced to make considerable revisions.

Amazing.

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Symbols, everlasting

Heroes become super by virtue of their actions. They do great things. They perform heroic acts. And then, when the honor is bestowed upon them by some shared consciousness, they become superheroes. The super- prefix is one that is earned, not given. It is a trophy. No superhero has ever become a superhero by calling himself a superhero.

Villains, however, are different. Because people are assumed to be good by default, villains must consciously decide to deviate into villainy. No villain has ever accidentally become a villain. Villainous acts are performed with the full intention of achieving an end goal that satisfies ego, greed, lust, or the desire for power. Sometimes those goals align with universally positive outcomes, and, though they should always be seen through the lens of skepticism, villains are not bad without exception. Actions that appear evil can often be used to...

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