The North-Star Edition Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tim Cook, The Interview: Running Apple ‘Is Sort Of A Lonely Job’, by Jena McGregor, Washington Post

He spoke in candid terms about the mistakes he’s made on the way, such as his first hire to run Apple’s retail stores (“that was clearly a screw-up”). He fiercely defended Apple’s tax policies. He touched on succession planning and the importance of grooming internal candidates. He was at his most spirited when talking about privacy and the long-term future of Apple and the iPhone — calling Apple’s big presence in the smartphone industry “a privilege, not a problem” — and quieted considerably when talking about Jobs’s memory. “I know this sounds probably bizarre at this point,” he said, “but I had convinced myself that he would bounce.”

Cook, 55, chooses his words carefully, taking long pauses and speaking with a slight Alabama drawl. Though he has favorite phrases — many things are “deep,” and Apple’s mission is always its “North Star” — he eschews the jargon many CEOs use. And while he’s quick to trumpet Apple, he is also unassuming, quickly noting, after saying his job can be “lonely,” that “I’m not looking for any sympathy. CEOs don’t need any sympathy.”

That reflects how Cook’s imprint on Apple has often been described — making it more systematic, more transparent, more team-oriented, more humble. He has engaged on social issues more than most CEOs, writing op-eds on legislation that limits gay rights and making the extraordinary decision earlier this year to oppose the FBI’s request to unlock the San Bernardino killer’s phone.

Don't Trust Anybody

A Few Thoughts On Cryptographic Engineering, by Matthew Green, A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering

So Apple finds itself in a situation where they can't trust the user to pick a strong password. They can't trust their own infrastructure. And they can't trust themselves. That's a problem. Fundamentally, computer security requires some degree of trust -- someone has to be reliable somewhere.

Apple's solution is clever: they decided to make something more trustworthy than themselves.

Training And Hiring

Coding Boot Camps Attract Tech Companies, by Josh Mitchell, Wall Street Journal

The Flatiron School’s 12-week course costs $15,000, but earns students no degree and no certificate. What it does get them, at an overwhelming rate, is a well-paying job. Nearly everyone graduates, and more than nine in 10 land a job within six months at places like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Kickstarter. Average starting salary: $74,447.

Employers are increasingly hiring graduates of the Flatiron model—short, intensely focused curricula that are constantly retailored to meet company needs. Success, its backers say, could help fuel a revolution in how the U.S. invests in higher education, pushing more institutions toward teaching distinct aptitudes and away from granting broad degrees.

Small Town Blues

Pokémon Go’s Augmented Reality Is Augmenting The Reality Of This Small Town, by Perry Stein, Washington Post

This nearly three-century-old riverfront town in Virginia’s Prince William County has unwittingly become a hotbed for the new game, which is drawing droves of players to the town as they use their phones to capture make-believe creatures that are living in abundance among Occoquan’s real-life residents (all 1,016 of them). A place that touts itself as “an oasis and a little-known gem” offering “that personal touch of Main Street USA” has transformed into a virtual-reality superhighway.

“It’s quite unbelievable,” Occoquan Mayor Elizabeth Quist said. “I get in traffic jams coming home from council meetings on Tuesday nights now. I can’t think of another time on a weeknight I’ve been six deep at a stop sign waiting for other people to go. That’s a traffic jam for Occoquan.”


Writing App Ulysses Blends Power And Simplicity, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata

Ulysses fills a key niche as a personal writing app that packs a punch but doesn’t suffer from feature overload. It has particular appeal for writers who continually move among Macs and iOS devices and want to have a consistent work environment and no major compromises on the iOS side.

Food Apps Are Go-to Guides For Diners And Cooks, by Blair Anthony Robertson, The Sacramento Bee

Convenience is what appeals to most of us when it comes to apps. In this age of instant access, we’re used to getting information – in this case, tracking down recipes – whenever we want.

Listen To This New App To Drown Out Other Noises, Or Just Get Trippy, by Elizabeth Chang, Washington Post

H--r has seven filters: Super Hearing (which amplifies sounds), Auto Volume (intended to dampen background noise), Relax (self-explanatory), Happy (which creates lighter, fun effects, though perhaps not the advertised “ecstatic cascades of happiness”), Talk (which will take voices and “autotune them into music”), Office (which creates a cocoon of somewhat annoying sound around you) and Sleep (whispery and spooky). The whole thing is a bit trippy, and I can imagine people using it, well, recreationally.

Hit The High Notes With This Bespoke Musical App, by Belfast Telegraph

Essentially a music social network, the app is centred around a news feed which displays what your friends are listening to. It lets you listen to previews via Apple Music or YouTube, then download songs directly from iTunes.

Swim Away

Why Do Swimmers Break More Records Than Runners?, by BBC

"They involve virtually all parts of the body. And they are moving through water which is so much more dense, which means that everything that you do has to be optimised - your head position, your streamline position with your body, how your arms are above and below the water, how you kick. Those are all things that are very complex. It means that there's lots of room for optimisation." [...]

Then there's the fact that the pool is a controlled environment, whereas the track is outside - it's much harder to control temperature and humidity, which can affect an athlete's performance.

This Is Why There Are So Many Ties In Swimming, by Timothy Burke, Regressing

In a 50 meter Olympic pool, at the current men’s world record 50m pace, a thousandth-of-a-second constitutes 2.39 millimeters of travel. FINA pool dimension regulations allow a tolerance of 3 centimeters in each lane, more than ten times that amount. Could you time swimmers to a thousandth-of-a-second? Sure, but you couldn’t guarantee the winning swimmer didn’t have a thousandth-of-a-second-shorter course to swim.

Bottom of the Page

“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It's their mistake, not my failing.” -- Richard Feynman

I wonder how this applies to me. As everybody knows, I am no Feynman.


Thanks for reading.