Read : Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

Flash Boys Cover I just finished reading Michael Lewis’ latest book – Flash Boys. I think whatever respect I held for Wall Street has been crushed.

I am sure that there are good people, just like there are bad people. But it feels like the good people are so out weighed by the bad people that the overall perception is that everyone on Wall Street is bad.

Flash Boys is the story of one man trying to level the playing field on Wall Street by starting his own exchange – IEX Trading.

Lewis does a good job at explaining what High Frequency Trading (HFT) is – at least I can follow what he was explaining – and how a greedy group of folks are raking in BILLIONS (yes with a B) of dollars by doing nothing but manipulating the markets.

Brad Katsuyama feels something is off and starts poking around and discovers things about Wall Street that I am sure only a very few know – how it works. And he discovers how the High-Frequency Traders are using speed and technology to manipulate the price of stock and make money off of the cents – or fraction of cents. But in enough volume, even the pennys add up

So he sets out to open his own Exchange (where stocks are traded) that levels the playing field. As he explains what is going to the folks that do the investing he opens many eyes, pisses off a lot of folks, and picks up some backers on the way.
But he is fighting a way of business that has been institutionalized on the Street and folks are hesitant to rock the boat.

But he gets IEX off the ground (they went live just Oct 2013 – less than a year ago) and seems to be slowly making a difference.

Here is to honesty and fairness.

Santa Clara Police Blotter for Apr 29

I get a weekly email of the police activity in Santa Clara.
Sometimes there are definite Darwin Award candidates

This week’s winner (my emphasis)

Warrant Arrest
Location: Monroe Street and Scott Boulevard
An officer entered into a consensual conversation with the male suspect outside the 7-11 store at Scott Boulevard and Monroe Street. While speaking to the suspect, he mentioned he had a warrant. A Records check confirmed a $7000 misdemeanor warrant. He was arrested and booked into County jail.
Time: 1630
Case Number: 14-004400

Other highlights from this week

Guess his arms were full
Burglary
Location: 2200 Block of Francis Avenue
Officers responded to the 2200 block of Francis Avenue on the report of a burglary. Sometime during the night, an unknown suspect entered the residence through an unlocked door and stole property from a closed in patio area of the residence. In addition to property being taken, the suspect also left some property that was believed to be from a neighboring home. Follow-up revealed that a neighboring home was also burglarized during the night (Case Number 14-004547). The suspect(s) remain at large.
Time: 0654
Case Number: 14-004546

Game of Thrones


One of the series that Tim Goodman was encouraging everyone to watch was HBO’s Game of Thrones. I have never subscribed to HBO so we have missed out on all the HBO greatness, until now. When I switched to Comcast from DirecTV we got 6 months of HBO free. I created the Season Pass on the TiVo and let it do it’s magic. Now with only a couple of shows left in the season we have started to watch Games of Thrones.

We are currently up to episode 4 and gotta say we are hooked. I never read the books the show is based upon and I was hesitant to starting watching because I was concerned that we would be come ‘lost’ in the story due to the number of characters and locales – but it has not happened. We have been able to follow the characters and storied, with the occasional pause of the show to talk about what we just saw or confirm who that character was, without much trouble. I know there is a lot of green screen special effects – but the scale and scope of the scenes suck you in and embed you in the story. It is very rare I find myself thinking how did they do that – must be a special effect.

Since we have the shows TiVo’d we can watch as many as we want in a sitting – but we have limited ourselves to 1-2 episodes. Primarily because 1) we run out of time each night and we have to get up early the next morning (as an aside, I hate when work gets in the way of having a good time); and 2) watching shows with lots of snow and cold makes Bev cold – but then I get a chance to warm her up 😉

The million dollar question – will we sign up for HBO next year so we can watch season 2?

The Killing


I have been really enjoying The Killing – the new series on AMC. I was turned on to it by Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter (as an aside I think he is great critic and I respect his opinion and you should be reading his Bastard Machine blog). There have been complaints that it moves too slow but for me the pacing has been fine. Sometimes I need lots of flash and explosions – but it is nice to slow down and let the story build. It is about the characters, not the action or special effects. And based upon the amount of rain they show getting in Seattle (where it is supposed to be based), I am seriously rethinking retiring there 😉

It is one of the few shows that I found myself anticipating each week – the others this past season were Fringe, NCIS, and currently Game of Thrones (which I will cover in a separate post). There is only one episode left – where we find out who did it. My anticipation is building and I will be watching it almost live. (With TiVo I rarely watch anything live – I let it go for 20-30 minutes then start watching and skip the commercials). Check back next week for my thoughts on the finale.

WWDC 2011 Thoughts

My thoughts on Apple’s WWDC announcements

There 3 big areas that were focused on: Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud. Within the first two they focused on 10 ‘marquee’ features and 9 for iCloud. Below are my thoughts on each of the marquee features and any additional comments for that area.

LION

 • Multitouch gestures – I’m primarily a mouse use so not sure how much of these gestures I will use. I can see they would be handy when on the laptop, but if I am at home and I am doing anything significant I have a small BlueTooth mouse I use.

 • Fullscreen apps – I can see it coming in handy in specific situations – working LightRoom, do a large spreadsheet in Excel, but in general I am so used to having multiple windows open and have tools to manage my interaction with the windows.

 • Mission Control – I use Spaces and Expose pretty heavily so I am looking forward to trying this out this feature. But since I use a mouse primarily I am wondering how the experience will be. In the demos they highlighted the multi-gesture interaction.

 • Mac App store – I have not been a big user of the Mac App store to date. But the features that get my attention : ability to load purchased apps on multiple machines and auto updates.

 • Launchpad – Not really interested. I use function keys and Launchbar to open apps. Do not see myself taking my hands off the keyboard and use a mouse to go to Launchpad and then click on the app I want to use

 • Resume – The ability to have the app and/or system to open to the same state I left it in – woot

 • Autosave – Too many times I have had an app crash (or quit it by mistake) and lost my changes – looking forward to the apps I use most often getting updated.

 • Versions – The times I need to use Time Machine to go back and get a deleted file are not often, but when I need to it is really great to have that functionality. Same for versions – will not need often but when needed it will save my ass

•  Airdrop – meh. I could see using it at home once in awhile and maaaaaybe at work – but not a big motivator

 • Mail – The new features looked good but because work is still on Exchange 2003 for their backend I can’t use Mail for work. I am stuck on Entourage 2008 – which has ok Exchange support, but would much rather be on Mail or even MS Outlook 2011.

 • Other things I have read are in Lion
    • Full Disk Encryption – Stayed away from FileVault for a variety of reasons but looking forward to this feature. Gives peace of mind in case laptop is lost/stolen. But will not activate this on day one. Will let others try it and report issues.

    • Group as folder – I am a bit anal (no comments from the gallery) and like to organize my files and can see myself using this feature

   • Unified buddy list and status – I was using a 3rd Party App (Chax) to give this feature but Chax was causing some crashes. Looking forward to getting this feature built into the application

    • Built-in restore partition – Allows you to repair or reinstall OS X without the need for discs – WOOT! Great trouble shooting tool

    • Safari – improvements so one bad website in one tab will not hose the complete app means less force quits of Safari. Other key feature was Reading List. I use Instapaper very heavily and do not see myself moving off of it. The built-in solutions are a great intro to the feature but dedicated tools are better (I am talking to you RSS reading)

    • Resize from any edge – small but cool feature.

Bottom line – for $30 this is a no brainer. Hell at $100 this is a no brainer (but don’t tell Apple)

iOS 5

 • Notifications – WINNING. This is one of the two features that really got my attention. Having a video/game/whatever pause when a notification came in was less than optimal. I did get really spoiled using WebOS and their notification management scheme. I will need to spend sometime with it to determine if it is as great as it sounds – but any change was an improvement over the current method of notifications

 • Newsstand – I am interested to see how this is implemented. I am moving all my magazines to digital. Some of them have dedicated apps (Fortune and Wired) and the rest of the magazines I currently have are part of Zinio. Not sure if the mags in Zinio will be broken out individually. It would be great if they were.

 • Twitter – A very infrequent user of twitter – primarily as a consumer of info, not a creator. Not sure how big of an impact this will have on my daily interaction with the device.

 • Safari – Tabbed browsing and the fact it ‘remembers’ the web page when you go to another tab are big improvements and will definitely impact my daily usage – especially on the iPad. Reading List I am not as interested in since I currently use Instapaper.

 • Reminders – I like the geolocations features but from what I have seen/read the app is pretty simple. I currently use Remember the Milk and will stick with it to see how full featured Reminders really is

 • Camera – Biggest enhancement that will affect me directly is the quick-launch and adding a way to launch camera from the lock screen. Using the volume button to take a picture sounds cool but I usually work in portrait mode so the button is on the wrong side for me (I hold with my right hand)

 • Mail – Nothing that will have an immediate impact on how I use mail.

 • PC Free – Second big feature. My current behavior is to manage my interaction with the apps and music on my device via iTunes on my Mac. I am training myself to stop always having to connect to the Mac. First step is using Pocket Casts to manage all my podcasts. Next step is to update apps wirelessly. I am looking forward to this functionality.

 • Game Center – Meh. Not a big gamer.

 • iMessage – Potential is huge here. Lot of my friends are currently on iOS devices and I am planning to move Bev and the boys to iPhones this fall when their contracts are up for renewal.

 • Other
   • iTunes sync – by itself the ability to sync purchased songs is not that big a deal to me. The ability to sync my collection to the cloud is something I am interested in. My concern is how do I sync a subset of all my music to different devices. The fact I have all my music on my Mac does not mean I want all of it on my iPhone.

   • The other question is streaming. From what I have read you can not stream music, only sync. To date I am not a fan of streaming, but it is something I would be interested in investigating.

Bottom line – Really looking forward to iOS 5

iCLOUD

 • Contacts/Mail/Calendar – Currently I am committed to the Google ecosystem. I have a me.com address but rarely use it and and not really concerned about it syncing. I am looking forward to seeing what the functionality is of the 3 PIM apps, but they would need to be really great to get me to switch.

 • App Store – I like the idea of buy once/download many and the auto-upgrade functionality. I am just now starting to investigate purchasing apps via the App Store and I can see the family starting to buy more.

 • Books – Well, I work at Barnes & Noble. Not much else to say 😉

 • Backup – Currently using Time Machine for local backup and Mozy for cloud syncing. I also have the boys both on Mozy so would have to be pretty compelling to get me to switch.

 • Documents – Outside work (where we use the MS Office Suite) I don’t do a lot of document creation – and for the few that I do create I usually fall back to Office. I am starting to experiment with other apps for note taking and drafting blog entries – for this kind of tasks I look forward to the syncing. Do not really expect MS Office to support the syncing for quite awhile.

 • Photo Stream – I am trying to use my iPhone camera more and the autosyncing is pretty damn cool. The issue is that my digital image application of choice is Adobe’s Lightroom. I like the syncing between iOS devices and the Mac Apps – but not sure how I will need to modify my workflow to take advantage of the photo syncing.

 • iTunes in the Cloud
    • Stuff I bought on iTunes – Percentage wise I have a very small number of tracks that were bought from iTunes, so syncing purchased stuff is not a big win for me
    • Stuff I ripped – But the iTunes Match function is a big deal. Having all my tracks sync’d gives me a sense of security that my music is backed up (currently I do not sync music to the cloud). Question I have is if I sync my complete library to the cloud from my MacBook Pro, how much of it gets synced down to my iOS device? Can I specify a subset?

Bottom line – I think the potential for iCloud is huge – just not sure how I will benefit from it in the short-term.


Well – that is my 2-bits on the WWDC announcement – would be interested to know what you thought was awesome and not so awesome.

Thoughts on Apple’s event

Just finished watching the event and wanted to share some thoughts.

First the streaming of the event. For the most part worked ok. But several times the feed got choppy and had hit refresh or open page. Still better to watch it live then following someones comments on website.

 – Shuffle

    • like that the buttons are back

    • would have liked to have seen it next to a current shuffle so could get sense of size

    • really like the $49 price point

 – Nano

    • Like the small size

    • would probably get this for Bev instead of shuffle. Think she would be more comfortable with the screen to enable interaction

 – iPod Touch

    • the addition of the rear camera was what I have been waiting for. The front camera is nice, but not as exciting as the rear one

    • but what is the megapixel count for the back camera. On the website it only says “still photos (960 x 720)” – does that mean it is a 0.7 megapixel camera? If that is the case that most likely kills my desire to get a Touch.

    • was expecting it would be the same design as the iPhone but ok with thinner version of current design

 – Ping

    • not sure if want another social network

    • why not leverage Facebook and/or Twitter? Definitely more full featured than if it had leveraged Facebook/Twitter

    • what happens to music social sites like LastFM

 – AppleTV

    • Like the smaller size and the $0.99 to rent TV shows

    • but only Fox and ABC – does not cover all the networks I want/need

    • Question about the “Computer” option – can I access media that is on a hard drive attached to my Airport Extreme?

    • Will Plex/Boxee run on it?

    • But the $99 price makes it an easy impulse buy.

 – Music Guest

    • WOW! Cold Play! Well – 25% of them

    • He played an unreleased song and said F@$k – woo hoo

Updates

So – what has happened since my last series of posts

• iOS 4 is released

• iPhone 4 is released

• I attended a family reunion in the Tetons

hmm – anything else? Oh yeah – I got laid off.

ex-squeeze me you say – yep ich nicht bin ein HPer. I had assumed – mistakenly – that I would be safe in the Software group. Well you know what they say about assuming . . .

The end of June was my last day at Palm. I was there almost 6 years – 6 pretty good years. But now it is time to start a new adventure and the crank up the network.

If you, or anyone one you know, is looking for a skilled project/program manager – you have my email.

Movie Review :: Inception


Went to go see the movie yesterday. I was prepared for it to be a thinking movie – meaning that you need to be on your toes and paying attention – and it was.

According to the Jester movie scale this movie is a 10 (out of 10). As we were leaving the theater I was surprised to see how late it was – the time just flew by.

As soon as we (Bev and Connor) were in the car the conversation started – Did he …? Was he …? What was real? How did he …? This movie will leave you questioning what was real and what was a dream. I am glass half-full kind of guy so I tend to go with the happy ending scenario. But as Landon said when asked was it real or a dream his response was “it does not matter, Cobb was happy.” Good observation.

Technology works b!#¢hes


From the Mercury News.

• Thieves break into house

• Thieves steal technology – including 2 iPads

• Geek (an Apple employee for the record) uses “Find my iPhone” to locate iPads – and as a result the thieves

• Cops using info from geek catch thieves

• Geek gets hardware back.

Geeks 1

Thieves 0

One benefit of loud rock and roll

There has been a lot press recently about the constant buzzing at the World Cup 2010 games – it has been compared to a hive of angry bees attacking you. This ‘joyous’ noise is created by the vuvuzela and FIFA has committed to not ban the horns. It is part of the atmosphere of the games.

I definitely hear the horns, but for some reason it does not bug me at all. Must have been all that Rush/Queen/Police music I listened to when I was younger. I damaged the vuvuzela sensitive cochlea nerves in my ear – lucky me.

Merlin Mann talk

Not sure if it is style of speech, his unique sense of humor, or his point view of life – but I like Merlin.

Here is a talk he gave at Rutgers about Time and Attention. Runs over an hour but enjoyed it.

Money quote – “If you could not be replaced by a monkey, a robot, or a shell script you are a brilliant human being”

iPhone 4 Thoughts

I have been thinking about the iPhone 4 introduced earlier this week and trying to organize my thoughts on it. For the purpose of this post I want to focus on the hardware vs iOS 4 (I plan on “reviewing” iOS when it is released).

Pros:

 – better camera/video (HD video FTW)

 – thinner – antennas around the outside of the device – way cool way to make it thinner

 – more powerful

 – cameras on front and back

Cons:

 – glass on both sides (twice as much surface to crack)

Meh:

 – FaceTime – I know that this may fall into the software category, but since it only works on the new hardware I am including it here

   – Makes for a great demo but only works between iPhone 4 devices on wifi. I think that limits it in the near term. When it can 1) work with other devices and/or video services (Skype, iChat, etc); and 2) on the carrier network – it has the potential to be huge.

Based upon the pros/cons this would be a slam dunk to upgrade. But there are 2 other factors – iOS 3 and AT&T.

 – I am currently full vested on webOS – which makes sense since I work at Palm (aka HP) ;-). My current hardware is a Pre+

   – I don’t disagree with the argument that Palm has some opportunities to improve our hardware and software, but to me webOS is more intuitive and much easier to work with than iOS 3. iOS 4 may shift the balance but that decision will have to wait until I can get my hands on the OS.

 – I have cancelled my AT&T service and I don’t see me signing back up for AT&T in the near future. I got sick of dropped calls at my house – to make/take a call on my iPhone 3G I had to go outside). With Verizon I have had no issues. (Mobile Hotspot FTW)

It’s the content

Let me say this up front – I do not own an iPad and have only played with one for an hour or so. So my opinions are based upon the minimal interaction and the feedback from folks I respect. One of those folks is Fred Wilson – A VC on the east coast.

When the iPad first came out he was not a fan. Jump forward a month later and he has changed his tune.

His most recent comments reinforce my opinion that the iPad is best suited for content consumption. You can create on the iPad – but I don’t think it is meant for the heavy lifting. Writing a quick email is one thing – creating anything beyond a simple Pages/Numbers/Keynote document is something else.

I feel the iPad is an additional device to meet your technology needs – not a replacement device.

Buh bye

For a variety of reasons – the mains one being I work at Palm and AT&T reception at my house SUCKS – I find myself using my Palm Pre+ more and more.

Got to thinking why am I paying $70 a month for phone service I rarely use. So effective today I have cancelled my AT&T service.

Due to the wonders of Google Voice (and a neighbor that works there) I have transferred my number into Google Voice. That means that you can still call the old number and you reach me – lucky you.

This does not mean that I am leaving the iPhone/iPod ecosystem. There are things that the iPhone/iPod can do that my Pre is less successful at : 1) the podcast listening experience is much better on the iPhone/iPod; and 2) being able to manipulate Photos taken on the device.

I hope that with the introduction of the Palm PDK we will soon see full-featured photo editing apps. Not sure what will happen in regards to the podcast issue.

In the meantime my iPhone 3G becomes an iPod Touch – with a camera. When Apple introduces the next gen iPod Touch with a camera this summer (he says hopefully) it will be time to upgrade.

But you say Jess – what if you want to play a web-enabled game (like Words with Friends) on the iPhone and you are not someplace with WiFi? That is when Mobile Hotspot on the Pre comes to the rescue. Free WiFi on the go – Bazinga!

He’s Baaaaak

Not sure how long this will last – but I am committed (thanks to the push by GSM) to try to contribute to this blog on a regular basis. For as long as I can. Until I forget to.

Well, you know what I mean.

the fine print

From Boing Boing Gadgets

(2) Requires new two-year AT&T wireless service contract, sold separately to qualified customers; credit check required; must be 18 or older. For non-qualified customers, including existing AT&T customers who want to upgrade from another phone or replace an iPhone 3G, the price with a new two-year agreement is $499 (8GB), $599 (16GB), or $699 (32GB).