May 3, 2019

Snippet: How Amazon Created the Prime Membership Program ☍

Jason Del Rey for Vox/Recode:

But the idea came with huge risks, and it spurred real tension inside Amazon. Some managers resented that their projects appeared to be deprioritized for a secret program they knew little about. Others feared that Amazon’s top customers were going to abuse the program and ultimately bankrupt the company with soaring shipping costs.

And if it succeeded, Amazon Prime was going to mean big, uncomfortable changes on everything from how managers were evaluated by superiors to how the company fulfilled orders and moved goods from point A to point B.

The whole Prime development process is something that I hadn’t really thought about (I didn’t pay much attention to Amazon in the mid-2000s)—I considered it more that there was probably a point when Prime didn’t exist and then a point when it did. Nonetheless, in the context of that time and seeing how Amazon is today, it’s an impressive risk that paid off.

April 25, 2019

Snippet: Podcast Startup Luminary’s Launch Week Keeps Getting Worse ☍

Ashley Carman for The Verge:

Major creators are continuing to remove their shows from Luminary, the $100 million subscription podcast startup, over its business model, and even more are leaving after the company was exposed for using a proxy server that hides listener data from creators. […]

Now, smaller creators, including Ben Thompson, Owen Williams, and Federico Viticci, are pulling their podcasts, too. Their withdrawal comes after podcasters noticed that Luminary was serving shows to listeners through a complicated linking system, depriving them of important listener data. The platform also stripped their shows notes, which can be used to share sponsored links or other relevant information.

When a podcast player serves a show, listeners’ requests are usually sent directly to the server that hosts it. Luminary said today that it’s added an extra step to that process. Instead of directing listeners to the original podcast server, it’s routing the requests through its own servers first.

While there are certainly good-intentioned reasons for doing what Luminary is doing, it generally goes against the conventions and business model of the entire podcast industry. Besides feeling slimy, there’s plenty of legal ramifications that a newly-created company probably shouldn’t want to deal with.

April 24, 2019

Snippet: Nick Heer on the Apple Watch at Four ☍

Nick Heer:

The Apple Watch is, for me, a highly polarizing product within my own head. That is: the things I like about it I really like about it; the things that I do not are deeply frustrating. I think its small size and more limited nature concentrate and amplify its high points as much as its flaws.

I had an original Apple Watch, upgraded to a Series 4 last year and it was an impressive improvement. However, there are days where I wonder if it is a bit too much and I’m kind of “locked in” because I already own the Watch, a variety of bands, and enjoy some of the fitness/health feature.

While I’m not going to go without right now, it does bring up the interesting question of if I’m going to participate in another round of upgrades, however many years down the road that would be.

Snippet: Developers, It’s Time to Delete the Facebook SDK ☍

Andrew Orr for The Mac Observer:

I’m starting a movement. Every movement needs a hashtag, so ours will be #DeleteFBSDK. I’ve been seeing more people becoming aware of their privacy, and seeing how valuable it is. It’s one of those things that you only see the value of once it’s already gone. […]

It always starts with people. The U.S. government may or may not create privacy regulations. Regulations won’t just affect tech giants, they will affect indie developers too. But we don’t have to wait around for the government to do something. All of us can take action, like using products and services that align with good values. For some people, that means using Apple products. For others it means using an operating system like LineageOS, with Linux on the desktop.

I still find the concept of signing into various apps and services using Facebook or Google credentials very strange. I like the idea of decoupling my relationship with that particular company and that of Facebook, Google, or whomever else. What’s even more annoying are the places that have only built their accounts around a Facebook login.

Snippet: Gregg Popovich Loves Dinner ☍

Baxter Holmes for ESPN (via Om Malik):

In the NBA, the Gregg Popovich meal is the dining room where it happens — a roving retreat through which the Spurs have forged a team culture that’s the envy of the league. But for those in the league who’ve not secured the invite, Pop’s legendary dinners remain shrouded in mystery and no small amount of fascination.

And so it was that over the past 18 months we talked to dozens of NBA and college coaches, current and former NBA players, team executives, chefs and sommeliers, all to answer a question: Why does Popovich — the NBA’s all-time winningest coach and architect of a two-decades-long basketball dynasty — care so damn much about dinner?

I came across this article yesterday and even if you have no interest in the NBA, it’s a rather enjoyable read about leadership, friendship, treating people well, and has absolutely nothing to do with technology. As we’re getting deeper in the NBA Playoffs, it’s easy to take the success the Spurs have had for granted—they have been consistently good for so long. It’s even crazier if you look at all of the successful people that have come out of that organization that work elsewhere in the NBA, too.