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Broadband in big US cities costs 100% more than overseas

On the topic of broadband – a piece of data that won’t shock anyone here in the U.S. From Ars Technica :

The annoying trend holds true in both wired and wireless service. In the Cost of Connectivity 2013 report being released today by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, researchers note that “in larger US cities, we continue to observe higher prices for slower speeds… In the US for example, the best deal for a 150Mbps home broadband connection from cable and phone companies is $130/month, offered by Verizon FiOS in limited parts of New York City. By contrast, the international cities we surveyed offer comparable speeds for $77 or less per month, with most coming in at about $50/month. When it comes to mobile broadband, the cheapest price for around 2GB of data in the US ($30/month from T-Mobile) is twice as much as what users in London pay ($15/month from T-Mobile). It costs more to purchase 2GB of data in a US city than it does in any of the cities surveyed in Europe.” The analysis compares costs across countries by using purchasing power parity exchange rates.

Cheapest 150Mbps broadband in big US cities costs 100% more than overseas

A Must Read: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

I just finished reading a fantastic book about Jeff Bezos and Amazon written by Brad Stone called The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.
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A really great deep dive on how the company has grown over the past 20 years (!) and how it embodies the qualities and vision of its founder.

Here’s a solid bit:

“I understand what you’re saying, but you are completely wrong,” he (Jeff Bezons) said. “Communication is a sign of dysfunction. It means people aren’t working together in a close, organic way. We should be trying to figure out a way for teams to communicate less with each other, not more.” That confrontation was
Bezos’s counterintuitive point was that coordination among employees wasted time, and that the people closest to problems were usually in the best position to solve them.”

And curious about my own Amazon usage, I went and looked at my Amazon account, and found what I think is one of my first orders back in late 1999 (no orders previous to that are shown) – and it’s a Sega Dreamcast game, NFL 2K :)

What was also very meta for me was to be reading this book on my Kindle app on my phablet Android Galaxy note 2 – which has proven to be an excellent reading device. And the reason I found out about the book was from highlights posted by Naveen on Twitter:

After seeing the highlight, it lead me to instantly buy the book from the Kindle app on Android. I can’t imagine a better customer experience than that.

Alec Baldwin and Jerry Seinfield Give Startup Advise

Well, not exactly.

But that’s how I interpretted this awesome interview from Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing podcast (h/t to Peter Slutsky for clueing me in to this awesome podcast many months ago, but that is now sadly being ended).

A couple of choice exchanges.

Here’s one on owning your craft and being involved with every detail:

Jerry Seinfeld: You want to be on the water? How do you want to be on the water? You want to be on a yacht? You want to be on a surfboard? I want to be on a surfboard. I don’t want to deal with a yacht. That’s a yacht.

Alec Baldwin: And you just also thought –

Jerry Seinfeld: Some people want a yacht to say, ‘See my yacht.’

And another exchange on focusing on the work, not the other stuff:

Jerry Seinfeld: Whatever it is. Yeah. Whatever it is. Let me tell you why my TV series in the ’90s was so good besides an inordinate amount of just pure good fortune. In most TV series, 50 percent of the time is spent working on the show, 50 percent of the time is spent dealing with personality, political, and hierarchical issues of making something.

Alec Baldwin: Mm-hmm.

Jerry Seinfeld: We spent 99 percent of our time writing, me and Larry. The door was closed. Somebody calls, we’re not taking the call.

Alec Baldwin: Right.

Jerry Seinfeld: We’re gonna make this thing funny. That’s why the show was good. I didn’t want to go from that to some H.G. Wells contraption machine –

Alec Baldwin: Right.

Jerry Seinfeld: – of trying to control the weather. That’s what these deals are. That’s what making a movie is. What’s a movie? It’s this giant machine. It’s this giant ship and everybody gets on it and they shove off, and nobody knows where it’s going.

Alec Baldwin: No. They don’t.

Jerry Seinfeld: And the captain is doing – where’s the captain?

Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

Jerry Seinfeld: He’s getting high and sleeping with the first mate.

Alec Baldwin: Yeah. He’s asleep, period.

Jerry Seinfeld: Yeah. So it’s too much time and energy spent on that is not the juice, the really good stuff is a great line.

I highly recommend you listen to the podcast or read the full transcript over on wnyc.org.

Put Your Phone Away: The Live Concert Hypocrisy

I was at a fantastic concert last night in San Francisco for the Idan Raichel Project:

I think this was my 4th time seeing him in the Bay Area, and this was by far his best show.

So those blurry photos taken by yours truly were apparently against the rules. At seemingly random intervals throughout the night, a security person would ask one of the 50% of concert goers to please stop taking photos w/ their phones (they never asked me). It was very disrupting and everyone seemed confused. All this was happening while the front row attendees were taking live video and Idan Raichel himself would sometimes grab their phones and take the footage himself to the delight of everyone.

I don’t remember ever seeing it this aggressive at previous concerts. I recall in Oakland a couple of summers ago someone was shooting video footage non-stop and got asked to stop.

So what’s going on ? Is taking a bunch of blurry photos and low quality quick video really a threat ? Isn’t it exactly the definition of personal use and not for rebroadcast or resell ?

In a world of Spotify and YouTube, the music and often the music video is readily available. What exactly is the harm of capturing a few moments to share with your friends and family ? For me, it’s mostly a moment to capture to remember years later.

I do get the argument that someone holding up their phone for 2 hours is a distraction to the other concert goers – so I think some common sense rules would be good. Like only take photos at the beginning or end of a song, and step into the aisle to take a longer video clip.

But I’d go even further. Why don’t live concerts have a professional photographer walking around who can take great shots for sale later. And why not offer a live audio or video recording of the concert ?

After the concert all I saw for sale were CDs (!) and t-shirts. What if they had for sale a USB with raw HD video of the show plus high quality MP3s and online access too ? I would be tempted to drop $40-$60 for that.

Cloudup Joins Automattic

So excited to be able to share the news today that we’ve acquired Cloudup, an amazing startup that makes it super easy to share “streams” of images, videos, audio, links and more — instantly!

I’ve gotten to know the founders Thianh Lu and Guillermo Rauch quite well during this process, and couldn’t be happier to have them now as colleagues.

Like Automattic, Cloudup is also distributed (1/3 of the employees are outside the US), uses IRC a ton, and are involved in some massive open source projects including
socket.io, mongoosejs, and expressjs.

Cloudup screenshot

Check out our announcement post on WP.com and the Cloudup post for more details and get ready for some seriously exciting stuff coming soon to your WordPress dashboard.

A book about WordPress.com: The Year Without Pants

Scott Berkun, a former colleague of mine, has published a very interesting book about his time at Automattic / WordPress.com – and how we work in our flat and distributed way.

The book is called The Year Without Pants (an inside joke related to being able to work from anywhere in the world, including from home ), and is focused on Scott’s time at Automattic, and what it’s like to work at a company, that among other things, has no central office and doesn’t use email internally.

As Eric Ries mentions:

“Most talk of the future of work is just speculation, but Berkun has actually worked there. The Year Without Pants is a brilliant, honest, and funny insider’s story of life at a great company.” —Eric Ries, author, New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup

Scott has a few bits about yours truly, and my sleep deprived startup life:

The first striking thing about Raanan was that he never seemed to sleep. I didn’t understand if there were two or more of him who worked in shifts or if his genetics allowed him to work at twice normal speed, but he seemed to know what was going on everywhere, all the time … Raanan loved what he was doing. He’d joined in part because of the mission to democratize publishing.

A bit surreal to read about your own work, and I’ve found over the years that all my colleagues have a great work ethic.

What I like is that Scott hits on a point that I find very true — which is that companies that have big audacious goals such as ours, and give employees freedom to define the methods of achieving them – tend to attract people who are passionate and love what they do. And that combo tends to result in amazing outcomes and companies that have a culture that attracts fantastic talent.

So definitely a fun read, and if you want to check it out, it’s available on Amazon in both print and Kindle edition:
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Dave Pell’s NextDraft on WordPress.com

My favorite daily newsletter, NextDraft, from the amazing Dave Pell, is now on WordPress.com:
http://nextdraft.com

So here’s what this WordPress sponsorship means for NextDraft:

- You can now read NextDraft wherever you want, including on a blog that utilizes responsive design so it looks great on any device. It will be free. And it won’t include any intrusive ads.

- I’ve merged my blog Tweetage Wasteland into the NextDraft brand and those posts are now called NextDraft Originals. Expect some great guest contributors and a new series of interviews called NextUp.

- Each of the blurbs in each edition now has its own permalink and unique spot on the web. This has dramatically improved NextDraft’s sharing functionality. Each blurb can easily be shared with a click or two.

- NextDraft is now hosted and supported by Raanan Bar-Cohen and the excellent team at WordPressVIP, so it will be fast, scalable, and generally awesome.

Full announcement post here.

And if you never read it, go do it now, you’ll be forever more informed and amused: nextdraft.com

Live @ TC Disrupt: Google+ & WordPress

Just got off stage at TC Disrupt 2013 where we announced that we’ve added an integration of Google+ on WordPress.com and Jetpack.

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You can now share content from WordPress to Google+, comment on WordPress using your Google+ account, and Google will display WordPress content across it’s platform with richer info such as the author’s photo:

Linking to your Google+ Profile creates an official connection between your WordPress.com content and your Google+ account. The benefit? It adds a layer of verification, confirming you are the author of your posts, and helps Google understand who created certain pages, which helps to increase the accuracy of search results.

Check out the full details on the WP.com announcement blog.

And big thanks to Seth and his team for working with us on this, and to our lead developer Beau for making this all happen on our side.

To the Elon Musk Hyperloop Bashers and Skeptics

hyperloop
Slightly amazed but not surprised to watch the news coverage of the Hyperloop and seeing it run about 75% negative so far – people calling it “out there” and questioning the cost projections, the safety, and everything else that was detailed.

The skeptics and the talking-heads that are out there mocking it, are frankly representative of a relatively new type of attitude that seems to want to kill big ideas and dreams before they even have a chance.

I spoke to a retired physics professor a few months ago and he said the biggest difference he saw in students in the 60s and 70s VS today was that the moon shot and other big projects gave people the confidence that any idea was possible. And that today there was a quicker instant-default-reaction of cynicism and doubt to anything really big or seemingly “far fetched”.

I personally have no idea if the Hyperloop will ever succeed or even get a green light to be built.

What I do know is that I’m super excited that someone with a pretty amazing track record (PayPal, Tesla, Space X) is tackling transportation and looking to leapfrog the current train system which is dated, expensive, and just not that exciting. And we should give these people a chance to take a few swings and see what they can come up with before every arm-chair expert chimes in on why it’s not possible. From the conference call follow-up that he held, sounds like he may now build a mini-prototype just to show everyone that it can work.

So my humble $.02 is that we need more people thinking like this, not less — and we need more aspirational projects that open people up to the near limitless possibilities of what we can build and solve.

I’m also a big believer that teams in Silicon valley will have a much better chance of tackling these problems than the traditional companies in the transportation industry that have been relatively stagnant for years now, mainly focused on cost reductions. Reminds me of a Steve Jobs quote:

“The people who built Silicon Valley were engineers. They learned business, they learned a lot of different things, but they had a real belief that humans, if they worked hard with other creative, smart people, could solve most of humankind’s problems. I believe that very much.”

And I always keep this quote in mind:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” — Mahatma Gandhi

If you haven’t listened to the Elon Musk conference call outlining it all, here is the clip: