I recently stumbled across a game, 2048, by way of my classmates. I tend to sit in the front row in most of classes, but in few I sit towards the back, and I'm glad that I do because I otherwise may not have noticed most of my classmates playing this game on their phones and computers. The general objective is to combine tiles that are multiples of 2 and reach the "2048" tile.

I feel like an idiot after writing those words without knowing the origins of the game. For the last year or so I've seen my favorite bloggers and writers tweet about Threes, an addicting puzzle game where you combine like tiles to turn them into multiples of 3. I didn't have a lot of interest in downloading another iOS game so I refrained from playing Threes, until I checked out 2048, that is, which is almost an exact clone of Threes.

In Threes you combine tiles. In 2048 you combine tiles. In Threes, you attempt to build a 3 or a multiple of 3. In 2048, that number is 2. Pretty original, huh? One of the only distinctions that 2048 can boast is that it's a free application, whereas Threes currently costs $1.99. That distinction, however, is likely what boosted the popularity of the copy cat game, especially among college students. This is where I start to have an issue with not only the game, but people who play the game without investigating or knowing the origins of it. Sure, you can't blame someone for downloading an app because they think it's cool, free, and all of their friends are playing it. That Isn't the problem. The problem is that these copy cat games take glory away from the original game by not charging for the application, which allows the game to spread like wildfire for anyone even remotely interested. Sometimes the duplicate game is even mistaken for the original.

I'm not going to get into detail about the origins of 2048, Threes, or why cloned apps are a serious problem in the App and Google Play stores today. If you'd like, read Jim Squires' 2048 is why we can't have nice thingsWhat I want to talk about is the issue I have with today's generation (say 14-23 year old's - my peers) simply not paying for apps, almost ever. About 98-99% of my friends have smart phones, most of which are iPhones, and I can say with confidence that very few of them see any value in paying for apps. One of my first experiences with this was with Tweetbot, and then again Tweetbot 3. I would say to them, "There's this new Twitter client, it's awesome!" to which they'd respond by looking it up in the App Store and saying "Oh, it's not free? I'm not going to pay for an app". No matter if I could get them to admit that it has cool functionality or is a better experience than the default Twitter app, they still wouldn't budge in thinking that they shouldn't have to pay for software. I think that we're spoiled by free apps, software and upgrades to the point where it seems unreasonable to charge for an application. It's a shame, really, as the App Store would be nothing without apps, and if it contained only shitty apps, well, then it would be the Windows Phone store, and nobody wants that.

AuthorJosh Erickson

Deadwood, Rome and Six Feet Under are among other titles that will be offered, alongside miniseries Band of Brothers, The Pacific and Parade's End.

Yet there is no mention in Amazon's official press release of fantasy series Game of Thrones, its current ratings smash.

So we'll get access to all the second-tier content on HBO then, right? I'm not saying Band of Brothers or The Pacific aren't quality programs, but where are Game of Thrones, Veep, or Silicon Valley? You would think HBO would want to promote their most popular series', but that doesn't seem to be a part of this deal (yet).

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts...
AuthorJosh Erickson

The Westeros of Aegon's youth was divided into seven quarrelsome kingdoms, and there was hardly a time when two or three of these kingdoms were not at war with one another. The vast, cold, stony North was ruled by the Starks of Winterfell. In the deserts of Dorne, the Martell princes held sway. The gold-rich westerlands were ruled by the Lannisters of Casterly Rock, the fertile Reach by the Gardeners of Highgarden. The Vale, the Fingers, and the Mountains of the Moon belonged to House Arryn . . . but the most belligerent kings of Aegon's time were the two whose realms lay closest to Dragonstone, Harren the Black and Argilac the Arrogant.

Oh ya. This is awesome.

Source: http://io9.com/george-r-r-martin-explains-...
AuthorJosh Erickson

The S4 came loaded with a junk drawer’s worth of apps that barely worked, like an app that purported to translate your voice into other languages but didn’t.

This sounds like the shittiest of experiences. And what happened to the whole bump to share thing? Wasn't that supposed to be the "Next Big Thing" that's "already here"? This indicates that maybe it's already gone:

Samsung has incorporated something called Quick Connect, modeled on Apple’s AirDrop. It lets you create instant, impromptu phone-to-phone (or -to-tablet) connections for the purpose of sharing photos, business cards, or other morsels wirelessly.

It really seems like Samsung relies on the throw everything at the wall and see what sticks method of "innovation". They put tons of features in a phone, some of which are completely unfinished, pump some of it full of advertising and hope that the audience says "Well iPhone doesn't have it". To me, it seems extremely overwhelming and, as Gruber puts it, it's the perfect phone for people with no taste. Ouch.

Source: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/the-samsung-gal...
AuthorJosh Erickson

Such an awesome recollection of some of the best moments working under/with Steve Jobs. My favorite part from the article:

...Tiring of the conjecture, I finally just stood up, cupped my hands and called out to him.

“Hey, Bud! Come over and see your old pals when you’re done to talking to that guy.” Bud looked up — slight pause — and “that guy” turned around to stare at me.

It was Steve Jobs. Of course.

If you haven't read Don Melton's honest and heart-felt take on working with Jobs, go read it.

Source: http://donmelton.com/2014/04/10/memories-o...
AuthorJosh Erickson

Yesterday I tweeted an idea I had about integrating social media (read: Twitter) into iOS. The idea is that if you wanted to send someone a link to a Twitter profile, you wouldn't have to go to that profile, copy the link and then paste it into your conversation. You could simply @ mention the person and have the link appear right there in the message thread.

I never used the Tap to Tweet (Twitter) or Tap to Post (Facebook) options when they existed because they weren't all that convenient in the first place. I didn't want to use the crappy interface in my notification center to compose a tweet, especially if it meant (which it did) not being able to @ mention someone unless I knew their Twitter handle. Of course, not even that option is around anymore, so there is essentially zero integration of social media into iPhone's OS, but maybe that's for the better if it means having a poor user experience like the one with Tap to Tweet and Tap to Post.

All I'm saying is that it would be awesome and extremely convenient to be able to @ mention someone in an iMessage thread and have the text link directly to that person's Twitter profile. How many times would this actually come in handy? For me, at least once per day. For you? I think you'd be surprised.

AuthorJosh Erickson

This is a fantastic article by Upstart founder David Girouard and one that especially hits close to home as a senior in college right now. I honestly wish I would have come across this article back in October/November when I accepted my job offer, especially this point:

If you’re not currently working, and you don’t have competing offers, you’re pretty much out of luck. So task #1 is to make sure you have competition for your talents.

I accepted my job offer without any competing offers. Although I suspect I would have landed at my company regardless, I didn't exactly set myself up for negotiating success by not having any competing offers. I applied to one company, got a (great) offer from that company 24 hours after I interviewed, and accepted the offer 24 hours after that. I wasn't in a place to say "Company X is offering this salary with these benefits, can you match that?" so I didn't have much of a choice but to say yes.

For everyone who's applying and/or thinking of getting a new job right now, my one piece of advice is this: have multiple people/companies know how awesome you are, then leverage it.

Source: http://blog.upstart.com/post/54461960263/h...
AuthorJosh Erickson

Tweetbot 3 is different. The fact that something has changed is immediately clear from the app’s initial walkthrough: what used to be a swipeable gallery of screens is now a carousel of translucent cards that bounce and rotate as you flick them off the screen. As usual, these cards offer a handy summary of Tweetbot’s most peculiar features such as customizable tabs and tap & hold actions.

Go get Tweetbot 3 for iPhone. Trust me on this one.

Source: http://www.macstories.net/reviews/tweetbot...
AuthorJosh Erickson
“It was amazing as a little kid in South Africa to watch James Bond in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ drive his Lotus Esprit off a pier, press a button and have it transform into a submarine underwater,” Musk said. “I was disappointed to learn that it can’t actually transform. What I’m going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real.”

Only Elon Musk would make the statement "I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform". Any other Bond fan would just say, "Oh, that's a cool concept", but Musk is about to make it a reality. At this point, is there any question that this guy is the modern day Tony Stark?

Source: http://allthingsd.com/20131019/of-course-e...
AuthorJosh Erickson

The only thing you need to take away from this article:

The 5C is certainly cheaper to make than the 5, making it worth the investment.

However, if you're still skeptical on why Apple is investing in the 5c (5C?) when the 5s (5S?) is clearly the superior phone, this should do it for you:

Assuming the 5′s costs came down by 10%, the 5C still costs $10/unit less to manufacture, and at Apple’s scale, that’s worth over $100 million per quarter. Not creating the 5C would result in a margin of $46.54, with a contribution per share of $17.04.

It's pretty simple why Apple is producing the 5c: because they need to have a lower-cost alternative to the 5s, and while that alternative could very well be the 5, why not, instead of the 5, produce a brand new model that has the same specs as the 5 in more variation (read: color) and at a lower cost?

As Ben later points out, the cost of goods sold for the 5 is $3,783,375,000, while the 5c is $3,667,500,000. If you do the math, it's pretty clear why Apple is still investing in the 5c.

Source: http://stratechery.com/2013/where-is-the-b...
AuthorJosh Erickson

I loved Nick Heer's guesses about Apple's upcoming event. All of them except for one that I didn't quite agree with: 

Mavericks: The gold master of Mavericks is out, and it’s almost certainly going to be released this month. Count on a short demo with a shipping date and pricing. I don’t think it will be free — Apple doesn’t use that kind of accounting for Mac sales — but I think it might be in the $20-30 range.

While the "range" of $20-30 is accurate, I can't imagine Mavericks would be more expensive than the release of Snow Leopard, which was $19.99.

Source: http://pxlnv.com/blog/spitballing-apples-o...
AuthorJosh Erickson

Walt Mossberg writing for AllThingsD: 

No other account setup is required. You never need to create, or enter, a login or password. And the money goes straight from bank to bank. Neither party needs to create a fund balance with Square.

This seems to be one of if not the deciding factors for people using or switching to Square Cash from services such as PayPal or Venmo. It's the simplicity of the matter that has everyone talking. Why shouldn't paying a friend $5, $10, or even hundreds of dollars be a difficult task? I don't want to deal with cash, I would like to never see a check again in my life, and I don't always have the little dongle with me to swipe a card. Square solves this problem for me and presumably millions of people out there just like me.

Source: http://www.instapaper.com/read/421828875
AuthorJosh Erickson

Yesterday, Square publicly announced their latest product/service, Square Cash. Square has been on a rampage lately with rollouts such as Square Register and Square Market that allow small businesses to run without massively intrusive cash registers that charge all kinds of credit card fees and also allow them to have an effective online presence.

But with Square Cash they're coming back to the consumer, the everyday user of credit/debit cards, checks, and most importantly, cash. I hate cash. Absolutely hate it. In fact, my bank doesn't even allow me to deposit cash, so when I'm paid by someone using it, it usually just sits on my dresser or gets shoved in my pocket (my wallet also doesn't allow me to deposit cash). Square Cash solves this problem for me and solves it in a seamless way. 

I have had the opportunity to test Cash for a few months via an invite from a Square employee because it was still in beta and had not been rolled out yet. If I wasn't already on the Square bandwagon (I was), I was immediately hooked and wanted to tell the world about this product, or at the very least my friends and housemates. Turns out, it has solved a lot of problems and I use it all the time. Whether I am paying a housemate for my portion of the utilities bill, a friend for coffee or groceries they picked up for me, or anything really, I now have a seamless and instant method of making personal transactions that is always at my fingertips and only an email away.

And best of all:

Square Cash is free to send and receive, and there is no signup process. Funds are directly deposited into the recipient's bank account, rather than held in a stored balance account.

Did you catch that, PayPal? Money is never held in a stored balance account. That's my favorite part about Cash. I never have to have an account balance, never need to load funds onto a card or site; as long as I have > $1 in my bank account I can send money to anyone at any time from my phone, iPad or computer.

I'm always excited when Square rolls out a new product, but this one is hands down my favorite thus far. Keep up the good work, guys.

AuthorJosh Erickson

DJ. (Disc-Jockey)

In 1935, the term DJ was coined. Referring to the disc and the jockey  or the operator of the machine that the disc or record was played on.  It didn't gain popularity until the mid 1960s when beat matching was introduced and then the 70s when turntablism started to form, breaking was invented, and the infamous Tech 12 started being produced.

In 2013, a DJ can pretty much be anybody who stands close enough to loud enough music with some form of technology. iPad, iPhone, hell even a cd that is playing while they "ghost mix" counts as deejaying. Yes, David Guetta, I'm looking at you.  

Therefore, I call upon Webster. We need a term to call these producers that are now "deejays" I can honestly say that looking at the list of America's Best DJs of 2013 makes me sick. 

Not because they're bad, artists, or the music they play sucks, or they jesus pose, and fake it to make it through a successful show. Not all that, (which is valid at times) but because they're NOT DEEJAYS DAMN'T.  

I didn't start deejaying on vinyl. I'm not going to front and say that I was there, I never carried crates, I didn't deal with records warping, needles jumping and crate carrying. I started on CDs, right at the end of the vinyl era, and before deejaying on a laptop became as easy as pirating the latest version of Virtual DJ. HOWEVER, when I first really got into deejaying, I mean really started getting it. The first thing that I did, was I studied where it came from, who were the pioneers of many major DJ tools today, and how things came to evolve to a sync button on an iPad. 

Nowadays, the guy playing music at the bowling alley is a "dj" We need a new term, we need a term for the real DJs (spinning control vinyl, scratch heads, guys/girls who can cut on the one & two), we need a term for producers who perform (anybody who "DJs" using Ableton live, anybody who plays only their own tracks and maybe a few others), and we need a term for everybody else. By that, I mean, the people on the iPads, the iPhones, the guys not in the club playing music. It's ridiculous, if you look at so many of the legends they are starting to dislike the term "DJ" more and more. My generation thinks of deejaying, as getting on CDJs or Ableton and playing songs for hours and hours at 128 bpm. Personally, I love to scratch, growing up to me, a DJ was a person who scratch and mix songs together. Today, when I tell people I DJ, they instantly assume I play all dance (128 bpm) music, and honestly it gets annoying. I look up to guys who are more than pressing the sync button to mix songs, who are more than posing in front of thousands of people pretending to play, who are more than in it just to get wasted, do drugs and stand on stage, and who are more than in it just to "make bangers" 

I fear my generation (guys in the young 20s) won't have any really good DJs. Who are my generations Z-Trip, Jazzy Jeff, & A-Trak? Will people even know the term "hamster gang" in 10 years? Is anybody my age getting down on the cut?

Big ups to all the real djs holding it down out there, rocking on control vinyl, mixing, scratching, and putting in work. 


AuthorJack Strandberg

Think about the "smartphone war" I want you to forget everything technical, forget the hardware, forget the software, forget the numbers of androids users vs. iOS users, and think about the feelings that people get.

I know, it sounds weird right, but think about it. iOS 7 was launched on the 18th of September and I don't think I've ever seen a piece of technology being discussed on social media so much. I'm serious! Look at some of the tweets featured in the Buzzfeed: iOS 7 Is Cause the Actual Apocalypse. I saw Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, and countless tweets all about this new piece of software.

Now, ask yourself one question. What other company in the world, get people this excited over a software update? 

Answer: No one. Period. Only Apple to quote Tim Cook countless times, only Apple can do this, and I truly believe that with this launch of iOS 7, he is exactly right. No other company in the world could buy the publicity that Apple was getting, and until another company can match the excitement and popularity that Apple can draw when they release a software update, they will always be losing the smartphone war.  

Android Users: Do you even know what software you're on? **Hint throw a dart in Baskin Robbins and you're probably right.

AuthorJack Strandberg

Patrick Rhone over at (one of my new favorite blogs) Minimal Mac: 

The real story, in my opinion, is the one worth a thousand words on each of those aforementioned tech blogs but not getting near that sort of coverage — the new camera in the iPhone 5S. The camera? Yes, the camera.

This is an interesting post to me considering it's the part of the keynote that I completely skipped over. No joke. I actually just didn't watch it. But now I feel like an idiot for doing so and am going back to Apple's site and checking out every spec of the camera in the new 5S (5s?) so I can wash myself of my prior sins.

It combines both a cool white and warm amber LED and, in real time analyzes the color of the surrounding and fires the flash to suit, thus giving you the best possible flash for that environment (over 1000 possible color variations). No other flash in any camera ever produced can do this.


Source: http://minimalmac.com/post/60993514372/wor...
AuthorJosh Erickson

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch: 

The app also lets you text a live map of your trip to your contacts, letting them check in on you to see where you are in relation to your destination. Another new option lets you plug in your destination to get an estimate of how long it will take Uber to get you where you need to go.

I'm a huge fan of Uber, both the company and their mobile app, so I'm excited for this update, especially because I've tried the alternatives, and believe me, they aren't good. This update sounds like Uber's answer to mobile apps Twist and Glympse, two services which allow you to share your ETA with someone whether they have the app or not. These apps are useful for a number of reasons:

  • You don't have to text and drive. No more "Be there in 10" as you're doing 75mph on the freeway.
  • If you're headed to someone's house or meeting them at a location, they know precisely when you'll be arriving and when to be prepared for you.

There's only one condition/drawback from these services: they don't work. 

I've tried them both over the course of the last few months, and I can say that I'm not satisfied with either of them (Twist or Glympse, to be clear). Twist would frequently tell my brother, whom I was meeting after work, that I left my bus stop when I actually hadn't even boarded the bus yet. With Glympse, I simply didn't like the interface. It felt clunky and lacked the features that I'd like to see, which unfortunately Twist had but was too unreliable to use.

In short, I hope Uber can get this one right, though I'm not sure that the technology is there yet. Waze seems to be doing fine, of course now that they're under Google's control who knows where they'll be in the next year or so.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/16/the-uber-...
AuthorJosh Erickson