cdixon tumblr

Jul 01

“My favorite proverb of all is the one that says for every proverb, there is an equal and opposite proverb. In this case, we should note that the proverb about not putting all your eggs in one basket is not necessarily a sound engineering principle. The right answer depends on the margin of error and on the per-basket failure rate. It also greatly depends on the chance of correlated, uncorrelated, and anti-correlated basket failures. Sometimes the best way to get your eggs from point A to point B is to put them all in one basket and take really good care of that basket.” — http://www.av8n.com/computer/htm/secure-random.htm

Jun 20

The “if by whiskey” fallacy

"My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.”

-Wikipedia

May 19

May 13

Mark Twain quotes

"I do not fear death: I had been dead for millions of years before I was born & had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

"The secret to getting ahead is getting started."

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."

"I’ve never let school interfere with my education."

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and a lightening bug."

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."

Apr 07

The decline of the mobile web

People are spending more time on mobile vs desktop:

image

And more of their mobile time using apps, not the web:

image

This is a worrisome trend for the web. Mobile is the future. What wins mobile, wins the Internet. Right now, apps are winning and the web is losing.

Moreover, there are signs that it will only get worse. Ask any web company and they will tell you that they value app users more than web users. This is why you see so many popups and banners on mobile websites that try to get you to download apps. It is also why so many mobile websites are broken. Resources are going to app development over web development. As the mobile web UX further deteriorates, the momentum toward apps will only increase.

The likely end state is the web becomes a niche product used for things like 1) trying a service before you download the app, 2) consuming long tail content (e.g. link to a niche blog from Twitter or Facebook feed).

This will hurt long-term innovation from a number of reasons:

1) Apps have a rich-get-richer dynamic that favors the status quo over new innovations. Popular apps get home screen placement, get used more, get ranked higher in app stores, make more money, can pay more for distribution, etc. The end state will probably be like cable TV – a few dominant channels/apps that sit on users’ home screens and everything else relegated to lower tiers or irrelevance.

2) Apps are heavily controlled by the dominant app stores owners, Apple and Google. Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues.

Most worrisome: they reject entire classes of apps without stated reasons or allowing for recourse (e.g. Apple has rejected all apps related to Bitcoin). The open architecture of the web led to an incredible era of experimentation. Many startups are controversial when they are first founded. What if AOL or some other central gatekeeper had controlled the web, and developers had to ask permission to create Google, Youtube, eBay, Paypal, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Sadly, this is where we’re headed on mobile.

Mar 11

I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

” —

Douglas Adams

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/39828-i-ve-come-up-with-a-set-of-rules-that-describe

Mar 08

“The state, so far, has had a monopoly on the reputation market. All the technological innovations leading us always closer to a privatized or commercial reputation market are quite new.” — http://www.theawl.com/2014/03/how-do-we-know-who-people-are

Feb 07

“I blame the montages. Five breezy minutes, from sucking at karate to being great at karate, from morbid obesity to trim, from geeky girl to prom queen, from terrible garage band to awesome rock band.” — http://www.cracked.com/article_18544_how-the-karate-kid-ruined-modern-world.html

Jan 03

"Small casual payments"

This is the first paragraph of the original essay that created Bitcoin:

Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust-based model. Completely non-reversible transactions are not really possible, since financial institutions cannot avoid mediating disputes. The cost of mediation increases transaction costs, limiting the minimum practical transaction size and cutting off the possibility for small casual transactions, and there is a broader cost in the loss of ability to make non-reversible payments for non-reversible services. With the possibility of reversal, the need for trust spreads. Merchants must be wary of their customers, hassling them for more information than they would otherwise need. A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable. These costs and payment uncertainties can be avoided in person by using physical currency, but no mechanism exists to make payments over a communications channel without a trusted party.

[emphasis added]

"Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" by Satoshi Nakamoto http://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

Dec 16

“This is worse than the tulip mania. At least then you got a tulip [at the end], now you get nothing.” — A former Dutch central bank president speaking to The Guardian about Bitcoin (versus the tulip bubble). (via parislemon)

"Bitcoin IS like tulips. Scarce, durable, fungible, divisible, un-forgeable tulips that can be instantly teleported to anyone, anywhere."
Ben davenport