Mar 31, 2014

Tom Tunguz's Surreal UberX Experience #

What a wonderful story from Tom Tunguz:

During that drive, I marveled at the change in the world over the past ten years. Instant taxi. Instant directions. Instant translation. Instant payment. The barriers impeding communication and commerce are being demolished one at a time.

Mar 23, 2014

P.S. Hoffman: A Tribute

Matthew Buchanan:

Caleb Slain spent 200 hours editing highlights from nearly 50 of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s screen performances into this 20-minute tribute to the late actor. I just watched it again, and not for the last time. From the accompanying description:

Compiling his legacy has been one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever faced as an editor, and yet indescribably rewarding. I can assure you that after 22 years on screen and nearly fifty films, we now look at the work of an actor who never had a single dishonest moment on camera. I know because I’ve seen them all. Please take a breather and raise your glasses to one of our greatest.


Mar 10, 2014

Fair warning: Cosmos GIFs incoming. The next several weeks. Constantly.

(via aperture-inc)


"When the universe lands in a GQ shoot, you know science is trending in the world."

Seth Macfarlane and Neil Tyson, on the moon, enjoying a couple of cold ones.

"When the universe lands in a GQ shoot, you know science is trending in the world."

Seth Macfarlane and Neil Tyson, on the moon, enjoying a couple of cold ones.

Mar 8, 2014

"It’s Like Trying to Remake 'Citizen Kane'" #

Carl Sagan leaves big shoes to fill, to be sure, but if anyone can do it it’s Neil Tyson. Only one more day. Phantom Menace levels of excitement over here, y’all.

Mar 6, 2014

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel #

A fun and interactive “tediously accurate map of the solar system” by Josh Worth. Turns out things are pretty far apart.

Feb 28, 2014

Regulation Is Often A Good Thing, Just Like Government #

Marco Arment:

The argument that we don’t want “such a dysfunctional government” regulating broadband is weak: “the government” isn’t one big coordinated bogeyman that can’t be trusted with anything. That’s just rhetoric that politicians use to avoid regulation so corporations can make more money at the expense of the citizens or environment. In practice, governmental regulation works so well in most cases that it’s taken for granted and too boring for most people to even think about.

I’m glad Marco mentioned this, that government isn’t just one big blob and neither is regulation. They’re huge, multi-faceted, often-quite-efficient, but ultimately boring things.

John Gruber mentions the FCC’s 2011 decision to block AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition as a good example of regulation doing what it does best: protecting consumers and disallowing large corporations from taking advantage of people.

Another example I think affects even more people: HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Everyone in the U.S. has heard of HIPAA in some capacity but in my experience most people drastically misunderstand HIPAA.

I know this because every time I talk to someone about Prime for the first time — whether it’s investors, doctors, or customers — the first question is “So HIPAA must make this hard for you right, with all the regulation?” The problem with this question is that it fundamentally misunderstands why HIPAA was created, how it was written, and how it regulates.

HIPAA was designed to give U.S. citizens the right to own their health data. The P in HIPAA stands for “portability”. The whole point of HIPAA is to give you, as a person, the right to control, move, and own your health data. That means you can request your health records from your doctors — starting in 2013 you could specify you wanted them electronically vs. on paper —, you can have your doctors purge them, and you’re granted the right to a professional level of security in the housing of those records.

The regulation here is for doctors and companies that make software for doctors. The regulation is not for consumers, and it is not for developers helping consumers.

HIPAA is huge, it is complicated, and it is regulation that works.

Feb 21, 2014

Banking: The Perfect Analogy for Healthcare, Part II #

I’ve been meaning to write more long-form on the opportunities vs. trials and tribulations for modern technology companies who enter healthcare and try to innovate.

Then I read Zach Townsend’s thoughts on Simple’s recent acquisition (which I am super psyched about, as a peer and customer) and, honestly, you can replace every instance of “banking” with “healthcare” and the whole piece still holds true. It’s like magic.

Here’s the money quote:

What does this mean in reality? It means the elimination of the physical (“wet”) signature and the start of instant risk determinations, easy to use but powerful tools to manage money laundering and customer identification requirements, and dynamic offerings targeted to the needs of the customer, with simple user interfaces and transparent pricing. In short, the anthesis of today’s banking experience.

(Notice that banks are one of only two retail categories where you walk in and cannot find a list of products or their prices. The other is healthcare.)

Cf. part I of this banking analogy streak.

Feb 19, 2014

Facebook Buys Whatsapp for $19B. Annual Budget of NASA: $16.6 Billion. #

Their highest ever, adjusted for inflation, was just over $30B back in the 60s. Thoughts worth thinking.

Feb 17, 2014

T-Minus 3 Weeks until New Cosmos Series Led by Neil Tyson

Friendly reminder.

Feb 13, 2014

'Particle Fever' Trailer

"The documentary about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson." The end result is already well-known but I think it’ll be really neat to watch the journey itself unfold.

Feb 12, 2014

Is Current Space Exploration Too Overprotective and Risk Averse? #

Robert Frost:

Comparing the explorations of Columbus, Magellan, or their peers to modern space exploration isn’t really apples to apples. […]

Manned exploration of space involves manipulation of vast and dangerous energies - it literally involves strapping oneself to a bomb and lighting the fuse. It requires travel through, and habitation in, environments that the human body cannot survive naturally. If the wind dies, a ship waits for it to return. If a spaceship’s power supplies fail, the crew die.

And then it gets better.

Feb 6, 2014

Incumbents Asleep At The Wheel #

Missed this piece by MG Siegler a few weeks back:

… one-third of the 8,500 or so taxi drivers in San Francisco – over 2,800 – have ditched driving a registered cab in the last 12 months to drive for a private transportation startup like Uber, Lyft or Sidecar instead.

That is insane. MG goes into what’s allowing this to happen:

So why is this happening so quickly? Technology is certainly a huge factor. But just as important of a factor is how incompetent the incumbents were (and are). […]

They’re not actually innovators. And there is no dilemma. All they’re doing is sitting around collecting money from increasingly unhappy customers and increasingly frustrated drivers under the blanket of bureaucracy. Their only hope for survival is some outdated regulation, but they can’t even be bothered to care.

That is not an overstatement. Getting a cab in SF before Uber was at best an annoying, at worst an impossible, experience. God help you if there was a big event going on somewhere else in the city than where you were.

When people ask me if/when I think innovation is coming to the patient side of healthcare, I like to be optimistic and say 12-24 months because I see lots of startups working on innovating towards these big problems — like getting your health records all in one place — that the healthcare incumbents are leaving wide open.

But if I had to remove those startups from the equation, and it was just incumbents (not) working on these problems, I honestly couldn’t put a date on when solutions would arrive.

Healthcare right now is in the same place the SF cab industry was two years ago (and really still today) — incumbents aren’t innovating and patients are suffering as a result of it. Disruption is coming.

Feb 4, 2014

Robert Rowley: 'We Need to Connect a Patient’s Health Data Across All the Places Where Care is Sought' #

Must be something in the water:

Open access to internal data is another thing EHRs will need to do. There is no way that a vendor will be able to anticipate all the reporting that a given practice will want to do – clinical quality measures, disease trends, demand that will affect staffing levels are all examples of reports or dashboards that a practice may want to achieve. Rather than expecting a vendor to do this themselves (it will take a long time, and will likely be expensive), an open API access to one’s data can allow a whole ecosystem of “satellite” companies that can create the reporting, analysis and visualizations that a practice (or hospital) might need.

Motion seconded (obviously).

The whole piece is good. Read the whole thing if you’re interested in health tech at all. This is a great step-back-and-then-scope-back-in on the future of electronic health record systems.

Patients Finally Get the Right to Their Independent Lab Test Results #

Good breakdown by David Harlow on what’s changed.

In a nutshell: independent labs (i.e., not the lab inside your doctor’s office) weren’t even allowed to give you your results before. Now they are allowed to and HIPAA has been updated to include them. A strange scenario to be sure, but not an unfamiliar one when it comes to multi-legislation regulation. The new rights go into effect this October.

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