Some Good Reads


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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  1. Summer is almost here. And soon, we will be wearing the Polo Shirt. Maybe it is time you learn about the history of the Polo Shirt. Right?
  2. Did IBM Watson overpromise and underdeliver on AI healthcare? IEEE Spectrum digs into what some of us always thought was really just one big marketing push — or as they say, all sizzle and no steak.
  3. 66 minutes to save Notre Dame. It is a news report, but it is a damn good one.
  4. The End of Empathy. NPR sometimes outdoes itself. Empathy, like civility and considered thinking, has become a victim of how networks have metastasized and accelerated our lives beyond belief.
  5. Dice Roll: The Phantom Gambler. Okay, this is just good writing.
  6. Why does Popovich — the NBA’s all-time winningest coach and the architect of a two-decades-long basketball dynasty — care so damn much about dinner? The answer may surprise you.

This Continue reading “Some Good Reads”

The Price is Right


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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I have to admit, it is great to see the initial public offerings of various technology companies come to market and create a level of excitement. Lyft, Uber, and Pinterest are hogging the headlines, but they are also helping to kickstart the financial engine that makes Silicon Valley hum. Of course, not everyone is enthusiastic. If you read the popular press, you might get a feeling that the IPO parade is made of money-losing companies, and this is just like 1999. You might also come across articles about the soon-to-be millionaires who will ruin everything in San Francisco. (The Bold Italic estimates that we might see 6,000 or so new millionaires added to the million or so already in that special club.)

I understand why there is general unease, but let’s not forget about the inevitability of the Internet. We have willfully enslaved ourselves to the network, and Continue reading “The Price is Right”

Google: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Now that Lyft is a publicly traded company, and Uber has filed its S-1, it is becoming pretty obvious that Google is the big winner in the on-demand mobility sweepstakes. In 2017, it invested $500 million in Lyft at about $39.75 a share, and at present, that is close to $750 million. Google had also invested about $258 million in Uber in 2013 before things got awkward between the two companies.

So, if Uber goes public at $100 billion market capitalization, Google’s 5.2 percent stake will be worth $5.2 billion. Later, Google’s Waymo sued Uber, and the two companies settled, with Waymo getting 0.34 percent ownership in Uber—or about $245 million. That is about $340 million or so if the company goes public at a $100 billion valuation.

Now, that’s a nice way for Google to pay for all the money it needs to spend on Continue reading “Google: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose”

The Scourge of Robocalls


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Wired recently chronicled the rise of robocalls. In the piece, you learn that Americans got “47.8 billion robocalls in 2018” or roughly “200 per year for every adult,” and in 2019, it looks like those numbers will be much higher. It is not going away. Much of it has been enabled by open source software, cheap calling and the rise of Voice over Internet Protocol. Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of Wired, tweeted that one could fight robocalls by joining the Do Not Call registry, reporting spam calls to FCC, and getting an app that helps block the calls.

Unfortunately, as outlined in the Wired story, that doesn’t work. Continue reading “The Scourge of Robocalls”

The Good Algorithm


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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It was quite an astonishing week for science and technology, in large part because we got to see the first photo of a black hole—something that has fascinated us humans for so long. The photo was a timely reminder of our potential.

From our politicians to our media, it often seems there is faint regard for the possibilities and opportunities presented by technology. We often forget the wonders it can enable. It is not the algorithm itself, but what it is tasked to do, that makes it good, bad, or dangerous. As used by Facebook, the algorithm seems like the work of a devil, but in the hands of Dr. Katie Bouman and her colleagues from MIT, it becomes the eye of an angel.

How did this image come about? Eight radio telescopes across five continents were stitched together to form The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an Earth-sized virtual telescope. Continue reading “The Good Algorithm”

3 pieces of advice in Jeff Bezos’ Shareholder Letter


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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In my previous post, I urged you all to take a moment and make some price comparisons before buying from Amazon, which is no longer the cheapest or the best place to buy stuff. Other options are equally convenient — it not as fast — especially when it comes to returning stuff that isn’t up to scratch.

However, in the process of writing that post, I ended up spending a lot of time reading (and re-reading) Jeff Bezos’ letter to Amazon shareholders. Here is some wisdom that can apply to all types of organizations – teams, small startups, partnerships, and large groups.

Continue reading “3 pieces of advice in Jeff Bezos’ Shareholder Letter”

Chips Don’t Lie


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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All that IPO optimism—in addition to ongoing Facebook shenanigans—keep us a wee bit distracted from the dark clouds that are gathering on the horizon. Earlier this week, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported that the “worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $32.9 billion for the month of February 2019, a decrease of 7.3 percent from the January 2019 total of $35.5 billion and 10.6 percent less than the February 2018 total of $36.8 billion.” Coming on the heels of breakneck and record-breaking growth from 2016 to 2018, this is expected to be a slow year, with the industry growing a mere 2.6 percent from $468 billion in 2018.

Sure, some of the shortfalls are due to the trade war between China and the United States. But in reality, you can lay the slowdown at the feet of smartphone sales. After growing for nearly a

Continue reading “Chips Don’t Lie”

Amazon UnPrimed


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Bloomberg noticed that Amazon’s retail growth is slowing, especially as brick-and-mortar merchants have stepped up their digital game. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos acknowledged that in his latest shareholder letter. “It’s hard to explain the slowdown in Amazon’s merchandise sales growth,” Bloomberg wondered in their story. I don’t know about the larger macro reasons, but I have my story to share.

I have been a life long Prime customer, and am definitely happy to pay for the premium of getting whatever I want within 48 hour time frame. Prime Now is great. However, lately, I have started to order less and less from Amazon. Just as I have shifted most of my search away from Google, I am not sure I want Amazon to have complete control over my shopping habits. So instead, I am being more unfaithful to Bezos’ bodega.

Additionally, Amazon has lost its core value proposition — it Continue reading “Amazon UnPrimed”

The Away Experience


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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After a decade of service, it is time for my good old 29-inch Rimowa suitcase to go in for a much needed retrofit. It will be a while before it comes back from Germany, and it will also set me back a pretty penny. I don’t mind paying the price to get another decade of use out of it.

The repairs made me wonder if I should get a new large check-in suitcase, one that can carry a lot more of my cold weather gear, and other non-camera but photography peripherals. The Rimowa trunk is pretty attractive, though the price is high enough to cause a nosebleed. Ever since LVMH bought the brand, the prices have crept up, and the lifetime warranty has gone the way of the dodo. And what’s more, the suitcases sold in the US are no longer made in Germany, and instead, are made in Canada.

AwayHayes 4

Continue reading “The Away Experience”

5 Great Reads


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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  • The Parsi Sweet Tooth: If you don’t know about the Parsees, then you should learn more about them. They are a very unique people and part of the demographic quilt that is India. They do so many things well (so, perhaps it comes as no surprise that Queen’s Freddy Mercury came from a Parsi family). I particularly love their food. Whenever I went to Bombay, I would find myself eating their dishes. Especially the desserts.
  • Mystery Alaska: I love Alaska. Frankly, if I was a bit more handy with tools, I would spend more time in that beautiful, quirky state. It is also the place where scientists are trying to find traces of humanity.
  • What the hell do robots have to do with French philosopher René Descartes? Find out.
  • A daughter tells the story of her father’s death as it played out on the Internet. It brought tears Continue reading “5 Great Reads”

Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott on the future of software engineering and the better world ahead


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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My friend Kevin Scott has a unique vantage point from which to speak about the future of software engineering. He is a very gifted and accomplished man who serves as CTO at Microsoft, but his career as a software engineer spans several years and a variety of different roles in companies both large and small.

If you take the time to listen in to this conversation, you’ll hear his story — which began in a tiny town in Virginia. From his first personal computer (from Radio Shack), of his interest in technology and aspirations to become a university professor to that time when he applied at a company called Google. Please, take the time to listen.

Outline of This Episode

Continue reading “Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott on the future of software engineering and the better world ahead”

3 Stories Worth Reading


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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  • The corporate control of our future is being won in state capitols, not in Washington, as the deeply researched work in the Copy, Paste & Legislate series from The Center for Public Integrity shows. I urge you to take some time to read this and become more informed about your local elections.
  • 23 thoroughbreds have died at Santa Ana. Why? The LA Times weighs in.
  • Maclean’s meets the analyst who exposed the Vancouver real estate disaster.

These recommendations first appeared in April 7th edition of my weekly email newsletter, where I share a commentary or an essay looking back at the week, and links to works worth reading.

The Golden Age of Half-Truths


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Long ago, in a time before the iPad, YouTube and even the Internet, we got our entertainment came from stories told to us in books or by our parents and grandparents. Some kids were lucky enough to have access to magical, technological marvels like televisions and radios, but we were not that class of people. My mother used to read me stories from Indian mythology, and nothing got me more excited than the Mahabharata. Decades later, whenever I find myself thinking a lot about the difficulty of distinguishing what is actually real in our modern news cycles, I often go back to one of the stories in that epic tale.

Here is the CliffsNotes version: Continue reading “The Golden Age of Half-Truths”

What to read this weekend


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Baseball season is here. March is already done and dusted. Let’s just say it is time for some serious spring cleaning. And for me, that means clearing out all those links that had piled up in my Pocket account. I have been reading more than usual for the past few weeks, mostly due to my health has slowed me down, and I was forced to take it easy and recover properly.

As an aside, with the clock turning on March, I have been in San Francisco for sixteen years at a stretch, eighteen in total, and yet I don’t feel like it is home. I have formed many great friendships. I have become part of two partnerships. I love the weather. The food scene is fantastic. The medical system in the city is the sole reason I am alive.

And yet, somehow it doesn’t feel like home. I guess when you are born somewhere, grew up elsewhere and are living in another place; you are never sure about the location of your axis, around which your life revolves. Ten years ago, I had the same feelings about San Francisco. This is what I wrote then:

Our physical interaction with a place defines how we feel about that place. New York’s streets and corners have a story attached to them, and I guess that gives a sense of belonging, and in the process act as markers on the timeline called life. I don’t feel that same way about San Francisco, even though I have lived here for ten years. I guess it will always be a place where I live, just not home.

I don’t quite know what will be my next destination. Continue reading “What to read this weekend”

Leica SL: A Love Story


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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I am writing this four years to the day after I fell in love.

In the aftermath of the GigaOM shutdown, I left town to spend a weekend with friends in New York and to take a break from all the negativity that was enveloping. I needed to revisit the place where it all started. I was in search of closure, though finding it – I ultimately learned – would take much longer. After I arrived, I began my healing process, as many people do, with some retail therapy. I stopped by my favorite camera store and chit-chatted with the staff. Don who would later become a dear friend, showed it to me, though I am forever in his debt.

The Leica SL. It was love at first sight. Continue reading “Leica SL: A Love Story”

Omakase: The CoolTools Podcast Edition


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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CooltoolsA few weeks ago, I had a chance to converse with one my heroes, (philosopher, author, and journalist) Kevin Kelly and his partner in Cool Tools, Mark Frauenfelder, part of the Boing Boing crew. They asked me about four tools I love and why. I will recount my picks, but you have to listen to the podcast for my reasons.

  • TWSBI Diamond 580 Fountain Pen
  • Muji Organic Cotton Mix-Pile Sneaker-In Socks
  • Dsptch Heavy Braided Camera Strap
  • Corpus Natural Deodorant Sticks. I am biased towards Cedar Flora.

In case you were wondering, Omakase is a selection of products, services, applications, and art, that I have enjoyed. These are not reviews. Instead, they are my recommendations. I don’t mind endorsing these products because they are of high quality, and in general have been a positive addition to my life.

Brian Chesky eats his own dog food


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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San Francisco is a small town. Stand still long enough and you are likely to bump into a billionaire or two, standing in line for a coffee. Or simply sitting in the lobby of a hotel like Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb. I ran into him the other day. He interrupted his call, gave me a big hug and explained that for the past twenty days he was staying in hotels using the new addition to its hospitality empire. He is learning all about the app and the service which is rumored to have cost them over $450 million.

I wouldn’t expect anything less — Airbnb founders eat their own dog food and want to always be improving the experience. As I rode the elevator, I wondered to myself — how many CEOs of big hotel chains secretly check out the Airbnb experience, and how many delegate it Continue reading “Brian Chesky eats his own dog food”

Social Vacation


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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From time to time, I try and go offline and take a break from the internet. Instead of going offline, I am going to be off social media for a few days. My Instagram usage has already dropped down drastically — one or two visits a week –but I want to go one step further and see if I can reduce this to once a month. I am also looking to reduce the time spent on Twitter as well. I plan to spend more time writing — the book is already taking time away from everything else, but I want to use the blog for frequent updates. I am focusing on improving my physical and psychological health, and social vacations are necessary to make progress.

Why a Fake Doctor’s Rise is Really a Media Fail


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Earlier this morning, while drinking my morning tea and sifting through my morning reads (on Feedbin, if you want to know), I came across a brilliant piece of journalism from Jennings Brown, a writer for Gizmodo. He unmasked a fabulist and fake doctor who passed himself off as a scientist and an expert psychiatrist on sexual issues. It is a smart piece of old fashioned reporting, which included double checking the claims, picking up the phone, having a conversation or four, and yes, using Google and other databases. It is what a reporter is supposed to do. Kudos to Brown and the editors at Gizmodo. Continue reading “Why a Fake Doctor’s Rise is Really a Media Fail”