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:

Dave Pell’s NextDraft on WordPress.com

My favorite daily newsletter, NextDraft, from the amazing Dave Pell, is now on WordPress.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.

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

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:

A Couple of Months with Android

For the last few years I’ve found myself putting away the iPhone about once a year, for a couple of months of trying out the latest Android device. I do it mostly for work reasons to see how our various integrations behave on Android, but I’m also curious to see how Android is continuing it’s march of rapid innovation and improvement.

So I took a few notes the last couple of months, and then today saw this post, “Android is Better” – which I’m not sure I fully agree with the conclusion, but it offers up the best arguments I’ve seen on why you should give Android a second look if you haven’t tried it recently.

So go read that post, and then jump back for a few extra thoughts:

The Good:

  • I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (aka “Phablet“) from AT&T – after some words of encouragement by Peter Pham a couple of months back. The form factor is actually pretty awesome — it still fits in your pocket — and for maps, reading, and web browsing it’s pretty amazing VS an iPhone screen.
  • samsung-galaxy-note-2-xlI live in a Google world — google apps, voice, maps, contacts, docs, etc — and all of that stuff “just works” on Android.
  • On Android there is an app for everything including customizing the lock screen.
  • Apps are much more polished than they were a year ago.
  • Overall Android interface is faster and more responsive.
  • Notifications rock — you can reply to an email or tweet right from within the notification.
  • Little things like choosing which app runs a certain action is very liberating. Annoyed that on iOS it launches Apple Maps from various map links. On Android it asks for your preference, and you decide.

The Bad:

  • The new user experience was terrible compared to a pure Google device such as a Nexus4. AT&T loads up so many useless apps that it’s hard to know who actually uses them. I saw a wacky contact manager, a wifi app (why ?), AT&T Locker (no idea), AT&T Navigator (I’m a Waze guy), and more. Reminds me of Walt Mossberg’s craplets issue that still haunts PCs.
  • Can’t stand that the power button is on the right side of the phone. I nearly turn off the device 5 times/day by accident.  iPhone has the perfect button placement IMO, others should follow that model.
  • The device is still running Android 4.1.2 b/c Samsung hasn’t updated Android yet. That’s a problem.
  • Overall UI still feels about 80% polished compared to iPhone. Little things like the settings screen are intuitive on iOS, almost a throwaway on Android.
  • Couple of things I rely on don’t work – like Spotify working on AirPlay.

So what’s next ? Waiting to see what Apple rolls out in September, but also keeping an eye on The Google Play Edition phones, which are made by partners, but run pure Android. That Galaxy S4 looks like the phone to get if you are shopping for one right now.

Yona: An Open Source Restaurant

Yona is named after the Prophet Jonah, who escaped the prophecy and met the whale. He went into the sea at the precise location of the restaurant, the historic Jaffa port; the oldest functioning port in the world.

An open source restaurant, Yona offers complete transparency to its culinary magic: admire the chefs in action as they turn raw materials into delicious delectables. The food is exceptionally fresh thanks to excellent raw materials; the bread is baked on site, the yogurt and ricotta are homemade, and fresh salmon and meat are smoked in-house.

Cool to see their love of open source, but wished that their website used something like a WP.com Restaurant theme :)

all about the Partnerships


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