Google

Loose Tacoma shift knob, what to do?

I just had my truck washed at a “typical” car wash: drop it off at one end, they vacuum it, it runs through the car wash on a conveyor and they finish drying it at the end. People drive it at each end although just for a moment.

I’ve been using this car wash for years and it’s under new ownership and they’re doing a great job. The owner is right in there doing all the various jobs so everyone’s paying close attention.

I drove away and noticed that the shift knob was loose. Odd, this is a 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup and it’s never been loose before. Oh dear. Wondered if the guy who vacuumed it and got it started on the conveyor struggled with it. It’s an automatic, nothing to really struggle with.

What to do?

Bring it back and complain? Maybe but not sure what that would accomplish.

Make an appointment with Toyota to have it fixed? Can’t imagine the fix would be too tough.

Or, search the internet to see if others have had this issue and what they’ve done.

I typed the following into Safari (defaulting to Google search):

“2016 Toyota Tacoma loose shift knob”

The first hit was this one:

Tacoma World: Automatic Shift Knob loose!

I read through it, found this:

“If you push down on the plastic ring at the top of the leather skirt it’ll pop off, then see if you can screw the knob on tighter and snap the skirt back on.”

I went back outside to the truck, did exactly as the commenter said, and fixed it.

I’m not boasting or attempting to pat myself on the back for having fixed this minor issue, I’m pointing out that the web coupled with an intelligent search query can provide amazing support very quickly.

Underlying this is Google and the fact that it does an amazing job of indexing all the various pieces of text information on the web. In fact, this post will no doubt be part of future search results for loose Tacoma shift knobs.

How Tony Fadell went from Apple to Google

I find the back story or social process of how talented people move around fascinating and I recently read a number of investigative pieces that caught my eye.

The first piece is by Mark Ames: The Techtopus: How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages.

The secret wage-theft agreements between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar (now owned by Disney) are described in court papers obtained by PandoDaily as “an overarching conspiracy” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act, and at times it reads like something lifted straight out of the robber baron era that produced those laws.

The piece of the story that interested me wasn’t the conspiracy to hold down wages, it was the conspiracy to not hire each other’s engineers seemingly “greased” by Bill Campbell, a member of Apple’s board, an adviser to Google with deep connections in Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, Eric Schmidt served on Apple’s board of directors until 2009, when a DoJ antitrust investigation pushed him to resign. Intuit’s chairman at the time, Bill Campbell, also served on Apple’s board of directors, and as official advisor — “consigliere” — to Google chief Eric Schmidt, until he resigned from Google in 2010. Campbell, a celebrated figure (“a quasi-religious force for good in Silicon Valley”) played a key behind-the-scenes role connecting the various CEOs into the wage-theft pact.

Tony Fadell was the key engineer on the iPod at Apple (eventually VP of the iPod division) and worked on the first iPhone. He and his team (which included Nest co-founder Matt Rogers) were at the epicenter of the rebirth of Apple after Steve Jobs returned and it can be said that the iPod, especially with a Windows version of iTunes which came later, brought more people into the Apple ecosystem than anything had before. Fadell was a star at Apple. jony Ive was also a star as he designed the first iMacs. Apple was coming back from the dead and these three people (along with Steve Jobs) were directly responsible: Jony Ive, Scott Forstall, and Tony Fadell.

Tony Fadell didn’t get along with Jony Ive or Scott Forstall who were both very close to Steve Jobs. This piece by Jay Yarrow lays out a bit more on this: Why Didn’t Apple Buy Nest? A Feud Involving Jony Ive Could Have Something To Do With It.

He [Fadell] was supposedly sidelined at Apple after losing a contest to build the software for the iPhone.

Fadell lost that battle to Scott Forstall who was the head of what evolved to be the iOS division at Apple. Fadell was forced out of Apple or quit and later Forstall was also forced out as he too didn’t get along with Ive.

Could Fadell or Forstall have gone directly to Google on exiting Apple? Executives at this level are given a large enough parachute (stock and money) so that they willingly sign non-compete deals that prevent them from going to another company for a period of time. Or, Fadell (and later Forstall) could not go directly to Google because of the unspoken deal that Jobs, Schmidt and others had to not hire each other’s engineers (to hold wages down). I think had Google attempted to hire Fadell right away Jobs would have been on the phone to Schmidt complaining about it.

Fadell leaves Apple, builds a house, gets the idea for a better thermostat and starts Nest with Matt Rogers, hires many of their key engineers from Apple (not sure how this got under the secret deal radar) and Google invests in them almost immediately.

It was just a matter of time before Google bought Nest, they probably planned to all along. Romain Dillet sums it up here: Nest Team Will Become Google’s Core Hardware Group.

While Nest first became popular with its thermostats, Google didn’t buy the company for these devices. First and foremost, the company wanted to snatch the great product team.

Before the Google purchase Nest could do their thing on their own, get some products out, build a name and customer relations on their own without the umbrella and possible liability of the Google brand. Now that Nest has their tentacles out being associated with Google might make some paranoid but it’s almost too late: the brand is established and Google is no doubt hoping that the paranoia about data collection will pass. In the best of worlds, this is a natural pairing and Google will give Nest a far reaching infrastructure to build and connect products in while Nest will give Google one of the best product engineering teams in Silicon Valley.

The question is, did Eric Schmidt, who was on Apple’s board at the time Fadell’s star was rising, make a deal with him to eventually get to Google under the radar of the secret non-hire agreement. If it is discovered that Google planned to get Fadell all along and did it this way because of the secret agreement, it will provide more evidence of the fact that the agreement exists at all.

Of course, my entire post here may be way off base but even if it is, oh, how I’d like to read the screenplay Aaron Sorkin could write about this. And, if you think this is messy, check out how the musical West Side Story came to be. It’s not quite what you might think.

Fanboys

Fanboys

Lessley Anderson at The Verge has written one of the best pieces I’ve read in years on what happens when love of a particular piece of technology or a tech company goes over the top. It’s incredible and if you spend any time online in forums or comment sections on technology-related sites, you’ve experienced this firsthand and possibly (like me) have gotten sucked into it.

Politics, religion, sports, bands — these are the tents under which we typically congregate. Allah, Judas Priest, the Cubs, sure. But smartphones? It seems sort of hard to believe that a graham cracker-sized computer that’s supposed to be a tool, a means to an end, could somehow deliver the same level of ecstatic experience. That it could be powerful enough to feel like a movement.

This has been going on for years: The Well, AOL, Salon, and pretty much any online space that attracted lots of passionate participants discussing pretty much anything, not just smartphones but anything that folks get passionate about (which seems to be pretty much anything).

Many fanboys would never call themselves such and are incredibly defensive about it, they feel they have an objective view and that they’re just right and the folks they’re arguing with are wrong. It’s not just Apple against Samsung or Android or Microsoft against the world, it’s Canon against Nikon, Fuji against Sony, etc. It’s all sorts of subtler tribe groupings and it’s both a huge mess and an interesting collection of subcultures all made possible by the internet which has allowed fanboys to find fellow fanboys or enemy fanboys, form tribes and wage war.

Passion is a great thing, until it mixes with other things like anger and insecurity and has an environment to get amplified and supported in, like comment threads that allow anonymous posting. Because heated fanboy arguments generate page views many sites seem to encourage them by planting seeds with provocative posts and articles.

Mix fanboyism in with the social internet’s tools to track “popularity” and you have a recipe for some serious personal problems. Imagine you become a fanboy spokesperson and get voted up a lot on the social internet. This kind of attention will no doubt shape the kinds of comments and/or posts you’ll make and it spirals up as the social stoking amplifies what you think are the things that are making you popular.

This is one of the (many) reasons we heat with wood: I get to spend time doing “analog stuff” giving me a rest from my online life and I get to beat the crap out of an oak round with a maul every now and then.

Works for me.

Reunion

This is a brilliant advertising piece by Google that I found embedded in the following article on Medium: Why did Google make an ad for promoting “Search” in India where it has over 97% market share? by Himanshu Gupta.

The gist of the Gupta piece is that Google is all about getting everyone, including mobile users to use browsers for everything, including running apps. This makes sense, they get to serve up ads and control quite a bit of the back end of what we do with browsers. However, on mobile devices people use connected, client apps as well as browsers and Google has no control in this arena.

This is the same struggling going on at Twitter now: Twitter would like to make it tougher for third party client apps to use its service because those apps can filter out ads and Twitter would like to make money serving ads. So, if you use Twitter via a browser or via an “official” Twitter client app, you’ll see ads and Twitter will be happy. Otherwise, no ads and you’ll be happy. Google, Twitter, and Facebook, among others, are struggling with this stuff right now.

The funny caption under the image at the top of the Medium article also caught my eye and it underscores the idea that in mobile, it’s about apps: “Why didn’t you just Skype with me Dumbledore?” Brilliant.

Chris Wetherell Reflects on Google Reader

Google Reader lived on borrowed time: creator Chris Wetherell reflects

This is a great history and commentary from one of the creators of Google Reader.

If there were things that went wrong, then there is a lot of positive things that came from Google Reader, Wetherell said. He believed that one of the main reasons why Google Reader could exist was because companies and entities with completely conflicting agendas came together, supported RSS and other standards. Google, MoveableType, Blogger, WordPress, Flickr and several other web-apps believed in creating RSS feeds for easy consumption. “In the end it helped the average users,” said Wetherell.

But all that is behind us and we might not see similar altruism again, Wetherell theorized. I agree with him. If in the early 2000s, Web 2.0 companies were building platforms that wanted to work with each other, today, we have platforms that are closed. We live in the world of silos now. Twitter and Instagram have broken up. Facebook is the Soviet Union of the modern web. The new systems don’t offer RSS or feeds.”There is no common language of sharing,” he bemoans. And rightfully so! And unless we have web giants speaking the same language of sharing, there seems to be no future of aggregation.

This last piece is rather depressing and it doesn’t speak well for the future of RSS which will only live on if it has broad acceptance and use.

Nate Silver at Google

Nate Silver joins Hal Varian (Google’s Chief Economist) to talk about his book “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t” and answer Googler questions.

This is an incredible discussion with Nate Silver at Google, and while it’s somewhat about politics, it’s also about larger issues of polling, marketing, and more.

The discussion is about an hour long but well worth watching in its entirety. Make the time and enjoy a brilliant yet humble mind.

[via Political Irony]

Apple’s Maps app

Aaron Mahnke comments on the iPhone 5 and our jaded attitudes towards new products and services.

We can trash an app because of the color of its icon and use powerful words like “hate” and lambast the decisions of the developers as “stupid” or “wrong”. But in doing so we ignore the multitude of positive aspects and elements that make the app worth buying and using. We, the generation of armchair developers and silver-spoon cry-babies. Shame on us.

I agree 100%. I’d go further: It feels to me that many people who are piling on Apple about the lack of data accuracy on the iOS 6 Maps app have never used it, they’re just echoing the buzz that Apple has stumbled.

On Apple’s Maps app

I was going to do a longish post on my recent use of Apple’s new and to some “disastrous” iOS 6 Maps app but I’m not sure I will. Suffice to say that I not only love the new app, it has guided me flawlessly with turn by turn navigation to two spots in LA: a restaurant which is correctly located on Apple’s map, and the Huntington Library and Gardens, which is also correctly located on Apple’s map.

I think the design and iOS integration is better than anything I’ve ever used (including Garmin, Google, and others). Yes, it’s not as rich in data (yet) as Google maps but Google maps had problems when it started as well. I remember them although we were all so blown away by the introduction of this kind of mapping we let them go, knowing they’d be fixed in time (as they have been).

Apple should have called maps “beta” and made it easy to crowdsource fixes. That’s where they blew it, not in releasing it prematurely. They had to start somewhere.

I’ve been testing addresses in my contacts list and so far only a few are off. For example, B&H Photo, a store I know well is located in New York on 9th Ave. between 33rd and 34th St.

Google maps not only has it right, it IDs the store. Here’s a screen snap from https://maps.google.com:

b&h_google_maps

Apple Maps on my iPhone finds the address and locates it correctly on 9th Ave. but incorrectly on the corner of 30th St., three blocks south of where it actually is.

b&h_apple_maps

No doubt things like this and all the melted overpasses and monuments in the wrong place will get fixed in due time. Again, Apple might have made this easier for themselves by pushing us to send in the fixes.

Back to Aaron’s idea that we’re a bit too entitled these days. Remember, Google Maps had lots of problems when it started as well. We’re so jaded these days that we expect everything, especially things from Apple, to be absolutely perfect out of the gate. I certainly don’t feel that way about Apple’s Maps app and I think they’re off to a fine start. Remember, it’s not just about the map, it’s also about the way its integrated into the rest of the operating system of the device, and in this area no one touches Apple. I’m confident that Apple will get this right and until then, we have alternatives.

Google TV

Google TV product manager Rishi Chandra: ‘Android is going to be a successful operating system on TVs’

Watch the video. Nilay Patel interviews Rishi Chandra on GoogleTV, Android’s future as an OS for televisions, cable boxes, DVRs, and other TV add-ons.

Not a single mention of Apple TV, iOS, or any of Apple’s work in this area except to say that they believe Android will dominate in the tablet area (toward the end of the interview).

If you listen to the interview, the complexity of the various things Google is doing sounds much like listening to Steve Balmer talk about how Windows will be integrated into everything. As many know, Microsoft is having difficulty in this area and while Android may be doing well as an OS, the universe of gadgets that run various flavors of it is a mess.

I love the simplicity of Apple TV, AirPlay and using my iPhone or iPad as a remote. Did you see those Google TV remotes? Ugh.

No doubt the internet is affecting the future of broadcast and cable TV and it may be a wide open market right now. I can tell you that the Bravia operating system Sony builds into its TVs is awful and I stay out of those menus on my TV as much as possible. I want to use my Sony TV as a dumb flat screen for some future Apple device (Apple TVX) that controls everything simply and easily. No doubt that’s coming soon.

Use their work free? Some artists say no to Google

Use Their Work Free? Some Artists Say No to Google

This is fascinating and it parallels sentiment in the photography world. Personally, I’m not sure this stance is right for everyone but it’s certainly right for some, especially well established graphic designers and artists who aren’t groping for exposure.

My problem with it is this: a beginning photographer (or artist) might feel the need to bootstrap exposure and may not be so secure in the quality of his or her work. Taking advantage of a few opportunities to show work to a wider audience, with citation and without pay, can lead to more exposure, confidence, more work, and in the end, money.

This other side is like a beginning photographer going crazy watermarking his work and being overly concerned with theft before the work is mature and before the work is stolen.

So, it’s complicated and one size doesn’t fit all.

Residents challenge Google camera

Residents challenge Google camera

Angry residents in Milton Keynes blocked the driver of a Google Street View car when he started taking photographs of their homes.

The folks in this town believe that Google’s street view is responsible for an uptick in burglaries and they think the camera is intrusive. I have to say, it may be the luddite view but I can’t blame them. Interesting situation.

As the video explains, you can pull your house from street view pretty easily.