Instagram has been an outlet for photographic and video storytelling since it was first introduced, and though we’ve seen new photo apps to make your Instas shine come and go over the past few years, none have been quite as hyped up as the latest and maybe greatest—Hyperlapse.
The user-friedly app from Instagram itself has simplified the process of producing sleek, smooth, and creative high-quality time-lapse videos. Check it out in action below.
Hari, a smart and very savvy early-stage entrepreneur, emailed me to ask if it was worth joining a well-known accelerator. I texted an emphatic “No!” We then spoke to each other for over 30 minutes and I don’t recall having made such an impassioned argument. I almost felt like it was my duty to save an entrepreneur. Read More
As you will by now have probably read, around 100 women celebrities (including Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian) have had naked and explicit pictures seemingly hacked from their iCloud accounts and published online, first on 4Chan and now all over the place. As a reminder, iCloud automatically stores photos, email, contacts and other information online, allowing users to sync… Read More
Asus says that it’s built the best-looking Android Wear smartwatch to date and that it plans to fully unveil it just two days from now, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. Called the ZenWatch, this will be Asus’ first Android Wear smartwatch, and it’ll reportedly be sold for less than $199 — potentially making it less expensive than competing watches from Samsung and LG. It’s also reported to include voice control features in English and, eventually, in Chinese, but it’s not clear how those would differ from the built-in commands that are already used to control Android Wear watches. Manufacturers are only able to modify Android Wear to a limited extent, so it’s possible that these features will come through a custom app that the…
I didn’t think I’d ever get excited about an iPad stand. But the Yohann, designed by Swiss architect Berend Frenzel, ticks all of my boxes. First up, it’s a thing of beauty, with an incredibly simple but clever — why didn’t I think of that — design. It’s also highly functional, in terms of viewing angles and positions. And it’s European-made.… Read More
The restaurant industry has been around for a long time – since the dawn of Western civilization itself. Starting in Ancient Rome, some of the earliest known public restaurants, called thermopolia, were local hot-spots where the citizenry would go to socialize, be waited on, and fill their stomachs after a hard day’s work. Read More
Dark, gritty, and violent, yet thoughtful and thought-provoking — such has been the style of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, and it has now been applied to Pixar’s 2004 superhero movie The Incredibles. The resulting trailer mixes music from The Dark Knight with a menacing voiceover from antihero Syndrome to build up tension toward an explosive, though inconclusive, finale. Whereas the family-friendly original reached its predictable happy ending, this darker reimagining of The Incredibles leaves you guessing as to the eventual fate of the superhero protagonists.
The drumbeat of reports that Apple is entering the payments business is growing louder and louder. The company has deals with Visa and MasterCard, Bloomberg reports, and American Express, says Recode.
An announcement should be just a week away: The company has invited journalists to an event in Silicon Valley on Tuesday, September 9.
So are we that close to using our iPhones as wallets?
What Apple Must Bite Into
The technology is one thing. Apple has any number of means of transmitting payment data—via Bluetooth, NFC, or just over the Internet. And it has long experience in e-commerce, dating back to the late-’90s creation of the online Apple Store, which predates its physical retail outlets.
But Apple has a number of challenges it must solve before it can enter the payments market. Those fall into three broad areas: regulation, fraud, and customer service.
Apple doesn’t appear to have taken any of the obvious public steps someone getting into the business of moving money would need to do. For example, it hasn’t registered with its home state of California as a money transmitter, as Amazon, Google, Square, and PayPal have. (Even Airbnb, the lodging marketplace, has registered, since it holds rental funds for a few days before disbursing them to hosts.)
Apple can argue that it doesn’t need to register if a banking partner is handling the financial aspects of its payments business. And it will need a partner—like Chase, Wells Fargo, or Bank of America—if it wants to process Visa and MasterCard transactions for other retailers. (American Express is different, since it both issues cards and processes transactions: Apple can deal directly with that company for transactions involving its cardmembers.)
Fraud is another issue. Apple will likely find ways to protect payment-card details from obvious forms of hacking. But what about merchants and consumers who are out to trick each other, selling bum merchandise or using stolen card numbers? Apple or its banking partners or both will have to figure that out—and any new payment system is attractive to fraudsters.
Apple is far from alone in having security problems, and has been working to improve its systems—it just fixed a vulnerability that may have allowed hackers to get their hands on celebrities’ intimate photos. But none of this is reassuring when you think about using an account Apple is guarding to make online purchases. If anything, handling payments makes Apple a richer target for hackers.
Apple has undeniable assets to bring to a payments business—chiefly its 800 million customer accounts on iTunes with credit cards on file.
It also has intriguing experiments under way, like its Apple Store app, which lets you buy things in the store with your iTunes account without needing to swipe a card or even talk to an employee: You just pay on your phone, grab, and go. It also has iTunes Pass, a program which lets you walk into an Apple Store with cash and load it up on your iTunes account. Especially in developing countries, a link between cash and digital spending could be transformative.
Connecting Apple’s physical infrastructure with a payment service could be its biggest advantage. Small merchants pick up iPads and card readers at the Apple Store already. Amazon, Google, and PayPal don’t have that kind of physical touch point with businesses.
But before you can start paying with your iPhone, Apple has a lot of questions to answer: Where can you buy things? What will it cost merchants? And who will help if something goes wrong?
Tim Appelo of The Hollywood Reporter quotes Francis Ford Coppola on the unlikely origins of the opening sequence to Apocalypse Now, on the film’s 35th anniversary:
“The ‘trim’ barrels were filled with film you threw away. Garbage, basically, thrown-away film turned upside down and used to space out the sound on the sound track. I reached into a barrel of this film and at random pulled out a piece of film and put it on the Moviola. It was a lot of smoke, occasionally you’d see a helicopter skid go by, just very abstract. For the hell of it, I looked at another bin of trim and one said ‘The End,’ The Doors music. I said, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be funny if we started the movie with ‘This is the end’ at the beginning?'”
Microsoft started teasing its Lumia 730 “selfie phone” last month with an invite to a press conference in Berlin on Thursday. While the invite teased “join us for more face time” and a Lumia camera, Microsoft has posted a fresh teaser today that’s simply a selfie photo. In an obvious nod to what Microsoft devices chief Stephen Elop previously described as a “selfie phone” during a private internal company meeting, it’s clear Microsoft is preparing to unveil its Lumia 730 on Thursday.
Everyone wants to hire more engineers, including you, driving software salaries through the roof. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that you don’t have the slightest clue how to recruit well.
Take heart. While your ability to spot real talent in an interview may be weak, open source makes it relatively easy to see who can actually code, and who simply knows how to answer useless, abstruse questions.
Finding great technical talent is important. In fact, in a world increasingly run by developers, I’d argue that it’s the most important thing any company does, whether it’s a technology vendor or a manufacturer of cars or clothes. The better the engineering, the better the product, and the better the product, the less reliant your company needs to be on sales and marketing, at least, early on.
Or, as venture capitalist Fred Wilson puts it, “Marketing is for companies who have sucky products.”
There are all sorts of gimmicks to finding great engineers. Google, for example, used to impose complex brainteasers on job applicants—only to discover they were utterly useless, as Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, said:
We found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.
Brainteasers, then, are out.
But, as Bock went on to highlight, so are brand-name schools, test scores and grades. “Worthless,” he declares. In fact, the whole hiring process is a “complete random mess.”
So how can you fix this?
Changing The Interview Process
One way is to change the way you interview. As Laurie Voss, the CTO of NPM, recently argued, “You are bad at giving technical interviews…. You’re looking for the wrong skills, hiring the wrong people, and actively screwing yourself and your company.”
Sadly, she’s probably right. And not just about you. We’re all pretty bad at technical interviews (or interviews, generally, for that matter).
The gist of her post is that too often we “over-valu[e] present skills and under-valu[e] future growth,” hiring people based on what they’ve done (or went to school) rather than what they can do. Or, as she summarizes:
1) Many interview techniques test skills that are at best irrelevant to real working life; 2) you want somebody who knows enough to do the job right now; 3) or somebody smart and motivated enough that they can learn the job quickly; 4) you want somebody who keeps getting better at what they do; 5) your interview should be a collaborative conversation, not a combative interrogation; 6) you also want somebody who you will enjoy working with; 7) it’s important to separate “enjoy working with” from “enjoy hanging out with;” 8) don’t hire [jerks], no matter how good they are; 9) if your team isn’t diverse, your team is worse than it needed to be; and 10) accept that hiring takes a really long time and is really, really hard.
Bock echoes this, indicating that Google’s experience has been that behavioral interviews work best. Rather than asking a candidate to remember some obscure computer science fact, Google now starts with a question like:
“Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.” The interesting thing about the behavioral interview is that when you ask somebody to speak to their own experience, and you drill into that, you get two kinds of information. One is you get to see how they actually interacted in a real-world situation, and the valuable “meta” information you get about the candidate is a sense of what they consider to be difficult.
This is a great approach, but there’s a way to take it one step further.
Open Source Your Interview
The best place to see how engineers solve problems in the real world is in the open-source projects to which they contribute. Open-source communities offer a clear view into an engineer’s interactions with others, the quality of her code and a history of how she tackles hard problems, both individually and in groups.
No guesswork. No leap of faith. Her work history is all there on GitHub and message boards.
But open source offers other benefits, too. As Netflix’s former head of cloud operations, Adrian Cockroft, once detailed, open source helps to position Netflix as a technology leader and to “hire, retain and engage top engineers.” How? Well, the best engineers often want to work on open source. Providing that “perk” is essential to hiring great technical talent.
Interviews are important to ascertain cultural fit, among other things, but they shouldn’t be a substitute for the more informative work of analyzing a developer’s open source work.
And if they have none, well, that tells you something, too. A colleague at a former company told me that the best engineers were all on GitHub, not LinkedIn. While perhaps an overstatement, there’s a fair amount of truth to it, too.
In sum, you should be able to get to know your next engineering hire through open-source development far better than through any interview process, no matter how detailed.