Calling it a Day

Since I left my startup for Yodle last September, my schedule hasn’t been conducive to producing the type and volume of posts this blog requires. Instead of living with the anxiety of not posting, I’ve decided to make this my final entry.

I’ll be keeping everything at the root level of frank.is temporarily until I get some time to set up 301 redirects to a permanent archive.

Thank you to those of you who have been following for the last few years. I’m knocking around ideas for long-form pieces I hope to begin posting within the next few months. Follow me on twitter for the latest.

Electricity: Edison’s revenge

The Economist:

Now a much bigger change is looming. From 2014, a USB cable will be able to provide power to bigger electronic devices. In the long term this could change the way homes and offices use electricity, cutting costs and improving efficiency.

I pulled the lead here, but you really need to read the whole thing. Could be pretty revolutionary: think of the possibilities for developing nations and for international travel.

Apple Acquires Personal Assistant App Cue

From MacRumors:

Cue turns your email, contacts and calendar into an intelligent snapshot of your day. All you need to create a Cue account is an email address. Then you can begin linking your Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Google Calendar, Facebook and all the other accounts that you depend on every day. Cue pulls these accounts together and uses sophisticated algorithms to create a personalized overview of the events and activities of your day.

I almost never link to Apple rumors, but this one’s pretty exciting. Siri’s about* to get a whole lot smarter.

*In the next year or two.

Hers to Lose

Moving documentary from the Times about Christine Quinn’s fall from grace in this year’s New York City mayoral race.

Lost to the Ages

Emily Yoshida, Grantland:

Myst crash-landed on an industry without context. So, even as critics praised it, figuring out how it fit into the narrative of Where Games Are Going, not to mention how to market something to repeat its success, was a different matter. Developers in 1993 were busy trying to perfect the illusion of three dimensions in 16-bit driving games, not figure out how to subvert gaming itself.

The Dribbblisation of Design

These Intercom guys are killing it lately.

If it’s important, don’t hack it.

Des Traynor at Intercom:

Google+ growth-hacked their way to 170 million users, by putting interstitials in Gmail where the easiest way out of it was to click “Okay” which both set up an account and connected you with friends. Had Google+ focussed on a metric of “Users who choose to go to Google+ and share at least 2 updates per week“, they would have focussed their efforts on delivering value to users rather than popups that drive numbers.

This is one of those gems I’m posting so I’ll remember it myself. Smart stuff.

Nintendo in Motion

John Gruber on Nintendo’s decline:

They need to catch up to the state of the art, or they’re going to lose today’s kids. My generation has nostalgia for and loyalty to Nintendo; kids don’t. They just see a company that makes devices with low resolution and janky touchscreens — and really fun games with great characters.

And that’s the core of the thing, isn’t it? Most or all of Nintendo’s cultural — and, likely, financial — capital is in their intellectual property. Consumers buy Nintendo products because they feel some connection to Mario, Pikachu, and Link, not because they prefer using Nintendo’s devices over those of their competitors.

They’ll need either to start playing to that strength or to drastically improve the quality of their hardware.

Dave Chappelle Didn’t Melt Down

Astute analysis from Lesli-Ann Lewis on Dave Chappelle’s valiant walkout this week:

After engaging some of the heckling politely, Chappelle had enough. “I’ve been up here a while now and I thought it was me but now I’m sure it’s you. There is definitely something wrong with you.” he told us. In other words, ‘shut up and let me perform.’ Not many did. Finally, he gave up and took his cigarettes and his water and sat on stage.

As a lover of stand-up and an admirer of his in particular, this saddens me deeply. The embedded video, especially around the 4:15 mark, is disturbingly dark. Chappelle is brilliant, and his audience (to wit: not just the one in attendance this week) has let him down.

NSA and GCHQ: the flawed psychology of government mass surveillance

Chris Chambers for The Guardian:

We ignore this evidence at our peril. Psychology forewarns us that a future of universal surveillance will be a world bereft of anything sufficiently interesting to spy on – a beige authoritarian landscape in which we lose the ability to relax, innovate, or take risks.

At Golf Tournaments, Loud Fans Are Getting Louder

Karen Crouse from the Barclays tournament for the Times:

Anyone attending the Barclays tournament this week or watching on TV will notice a new and seemingly out-of-place fan behavior during those quiet moments after a player completes his swing: the frequent shouting of remarks like “You the man!,” “In the hole!” and, the current favorite for no good reason, “Mashed potatoes!”

I’m a proponent of the classic Par-5-tee-shot “Get in the hole!”

The best (read: yuppiest) line in the piece, though, is this one:

At the last major of the year, the P.G.A. Championship held two weeks ago in suburban Rochester at Oak Hill Country Club, the crowds behaved as if they were at the T.P.C. Scottsdale.

Scottsdale. Karen, you naughty scamp.

How to Make Perfect Coffee

It’s a shame to waste these moments on bad coffee, and if you’re going to drink it every day, or if you’re going to serve it to other people, it may as well be good, right?

Actually, it should be better than good. It should be perfect.

The Small, Intense, Unfairly Exclusive World of Football Placekickers

Roger Sherman for The Atlantic:

Because the technique would-be players need to master is specific and totally unlike anything anyone else on a football field is ever asked to do, a cottage industry has formed to provide training — and exposure — for hopefuls chasing the dream of making it as a kicker, punter, or long-snapper.

What’s next? Training camps for kids who want to become coaches of boutique training camps?

Apple Buys Embark

I don’t usually link to ephemeral tech news stories, but this one struck me as particularly significant.

This is Apple’s third maps-related purchase this year.1 Not sure I can imagine a Steve Jobs-led Apple making purchases as band aids (e.g., the MobileMe debacle), but I’m not disconcerted by this direction. They’re bringing in excellent people — Embark is a great app — and Maps certainly needs the help.

  1. And their sixth purchase in total, more than any year prior. []

The Mystery of Flying Kicks