I'm a very active user of Magic+, so I'll give my perspective. (and of course I've been working with them from the beginning at YC, so you're also free to discard my opinion as biased)
For me, Magic+ is basically the impossibly good personal assistant, kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man, or Emily in The Devil Wears Prada. Unlike a conventional assistant, it's available 24/7, always happy to take on more work, and capable of accomplishing just about anything.
Obviously the $100/hr price point puts it out of reach for most people, but my expectation (as an investor) is that as the tech improves, they will be able to bring down the price while maintaining or even improving the quality of the service (I call this the Tesla strategy).
For me however, $100/hr is totally worth it since it effectively increases my leverage and enables me to get more done in less time. I've used it to plan events for YC founders, answer questions that are hard to Google (they will find the right experts and ask them), and provide unique and memorable gifts to friends, family, and business partners. I'm used to paying a high price for quality professional services such as accountants or lawyers, so $100/hr for the best possible assistant feels completely reasonable and rational.
But seriously, this thread is absurd. I truly do not understand how a significant portion of this site (even knowing that it is probably largely made up of affluent, educated people) consider this to be even a reasonable value proposition. I'm not incredibly affluent or anything, but by any standard short of the true "1%" I am extremely well off. However the level of wealth required that a blind commitment of $100/hr for trivial delagatable tasks is way beyond anything I would consider using, especially considering the significant upfront purchase that seems to be required. What ten hours of random bullshit that I not just need done, but would entrust to a stranger without known qualifications is worth $1k? Not much...
But this comment section is filled with well crafted top level praise of the service with a staggering amount of popularity for what seems to be an extreme luxury service. Compounded by very "reasonable" objections with immediate and solicitous responses by accounts claiming to be representatives humbly begging for an opportunity to right their wrongs and improve the service.
This whole thing looks like a finely tuned campaign to leverage highly-regarded social media in a wide scale blitz to make the absurd product seem reasonable. Seriously, I'm staggered at this comment section and the popularity here.
And this "target market" excuse seems like crap. If the "target market" is extremely rich folk who would consider dropping $100/hr on miscellaneous unskilled labor with almost no real guarantee of reliability or quality, then they wouldn't be blitzing a random social media site to improve their image (which they explicitly are doing with mr. cmikec running around). They'd focus their efforts on true premium clients and demonstrate some sort of solid guarantee of their reliability that a suspicious rich person might actually accept. This whole thing looks like an attempt to make random $100/hr requests somehow seem reasonable to people who can technically afford it but typically wouldn't even consider it if they didn't see it as a "normalish" thing to do.
The first two times, I said "hey I want a sandwich with [x]" and I got it but it took a lot longer than if I just clicked the necessary buttons on Seamless. Then I kept getting random calls from time to time from pizza delivery men saying they were downstairs.
They were very apologetic and nice about it, but really it just wasn't worth it for me. The CTO (I think) reached out to me some months later asking why I stopped and well it's the same answer: very little utility for someone like myself. If I were rich, hey sure why not boss someone around for random things (though I don't know why I wouldn't just hire someone I can trust). However, if you're middle income or even a little higher, what's the point really? Everything else is basically on-demand in this new uber-fied world.
If you value your time more than your money, then they're an excellent service that gives you a new suite of capabilities for making that tradeoff. They have been able to arrange everything I've asked them to do. What I like about them is that I can make a request without having any idea how to go about getting it fulfilled, and Magic will figure out how - they'll do the research and find a solution. They are familiar with service providers for all sorts of unusual tasks and will set them up for you: personal chefs, car servicing pickup, garbage pickup - for everything I've asked they've had an answer.
They are primarily limited however by their staff on the ground or lack thereof. Although they've been able to organize couriers in several cities to accomplish tasks, they have occasionally been unable to find couriers on the day of a request. Magic is a generalist service: they can do virtually anything, but not necessarily within the same hour you ask. They're worse than specialist services like Postmates at tasks like basic food pickup and delivery (mostly due to lower availability of couriers). Magic is most useful when your need is unusual and a typical service won't be able to get it done - or when you want a complex problem to be solved and don't want to have to think about or manage the solution. At such a task, they excel, and they've always come through for me in the end.
The Magic staff are very friendly and personable, as well. Their customer service is a tier above any other company I've interacted with. They handle requests with unusually high intellectual and emotional intelligence, and care. (Disclaimer: I haven't used Magic+, only the original Magic which has been surprisingly cheap for the value it adds.)
There are examples of Magic+ requests, but no real-world examples of outcomes and whether the request was filled successfully to the customer's satisfaction.
Relatedly, the $100/hr is suspicious because it's impossible to audit the time spent by the assistant. (Contrast with flat fees stated upfront from the normal service.)
2) Do the Magicians post a surety bond to Magic for liability-related losses? Does Magic have third party fidelity bonds to help defend against suits brought against them due to fraudulent actions by (I assume) contractor Magicians? Disclaiming all liability and hold harmless agreements can be problematic in reality, given the example market of impulse iPad Pro buyers could easily be envisioned to have enough resources to litigate Magic into oblivion.
3) Do Magicians undergo any kind of background checking?
If I'm going to trust a service with information otherwise protected by regularly rotated credentials and TFA - and I'm not beyond doing that, since the pricing for dependable and trustworthy (and bonded/insured) assistants for ad-hoc tasks doesn't seem too offensive to me - I'd want to know my risks.
I know that doesn't make for magical copy on a landing page, but it's a selling point. I used the original Magic pretty early on, getting a rather esoteric accessory for some discontinued on-ear studio monitors, and I was impressed by their professionalism. If the pricing goes to the next level, the professionalism needs to follow, in my opinion.
I'm fortunate enough to have a real personal assistant. She's amazing, she knows me, she does fantastic work, and I pay her a fair and reasonable wage (including health care) that's far less than $100/hour. So let's put me in the category of "people who can afford a personal assistant" but not quite in the category of "people who demand to meet Tina Fey & Amy Poehler on demand."
I would NEVER in a million years consider replacing my assistant with a faceless nameless AI-assisted service. I have a number of friends who are also fortunate enough to have assistants. They would NEVER consider replacing their assistants with a faceless nameless AI-assisted service (at least one friend has an assistant that's been with him for years and is basically part of the family).
And with the examples they give, Magic+ is painting a picture of both a service and user that's highly specific -- wealthy enough to afford these luxuries, but not willing to make the investment of hiring a real person to build a real relationship with to perform these tasks.
So the whole thing feels....dismissive. I guess that's the best word I can come up with. Dismissive of money ("Entertain me with Tina Fey - I will pay for her presence."), dismissive of human contact ("I don't want a real assistant - I just want to text a service to do my bidding.") Dismissive of warmth. It's sort of what I imagine a caricature of a dystopian tech billionaire would want -- all of the somethings with none of the someones.
I dunno. It just feels ... off. Sorry I can't come up with something better. But as the target demographic (I think?), I'm feeling like the pitch is very off-target and off-putting.
You can smell the elitism dripping in their examples on the site. Private helicoptors, $31 grocery delivery... most people will pay a little extra for convenience, but this is ridiculous.
Once I used it to order fried chicken from a deli that isn't available via any delivery service. That was nice.
The coolest thing by far was using it to buy a gift. I follow an embroidery artist on Instagram, and noticed she was doing a pop-up shop in Chicago (I live in Seattle). I directly inquired about commissioning pieces or buying her existing pieces, but it just wasn't possible this pop-up shop was the only way. I showed Magic a few of the pieces I liked best on Instagram, gave them a price limit (no idea even how much they were selling for), and described how there were only a few of these things available and they'd probably be gone fast. They sent someone there and managed to get one for me and mail it!
Then a middle man skims most of the profits while all of the personal assistants of the world lose job stability and end up having to work 80 hours a week as "personal contractors" to try and break even with what they previously made in a 40 hour work week.
Yeah; I'm a bit skeptical.
Last time, I used it as follows:
1) Lunch for my cofounder and I at demo day since we had dietary restrictions. Worked perfectly.
2) went drinking with everyone after demo day, and we drove. Didn't plan out who was DD. Magic sent us a driver to drive us home in our car. Was one of the Magic founders' sister.
3) Had flowers sent to my wife, just to let her know I was thinking of her while I was away. Said they were the best flowers she had ever got, and got lots of compliments from family and friends.
Yesterday, I was just thinking about using Magic to get a bunch of things done, housekeeping wise within the company. Really timely to see this. I'll be using them for everything from fixing my glasses, to cleaning up my books, and more. I'm hoping to have them take care of the mundane things so I can focus on more important tasks like coding and such.
PS: Before you downvote me to death, want to clarify that the envy is that someone can use this service paying 100/hr :)
1. A lot of frustration from customers and a lot of churn. An effective personal assistant, or office manager, or whatever, effectively begins to read the mind of their employer. Lack of face-to-face, and what I imagine will be a lot of assistant churn, will result in very poor "mind reading" abilities. Cost of training a new assistant is much higher than actually having one, at least for folks who utilize their services a lot.
2. A race to the bottom on price, exacerbating the problem of assistant churn. $100/hr leaves a lot of room at the bottom, but it'll drop to the point where people in the US aren't willing to do the job of magic assistant.
3. $0 is the cost of Siri, Google Now, and Alexa. They truly suck right now, for almost everything except taking the place of a keyboard, but will get better. There's a limit to what "virtual" assistants can do for you; at some point you need a meat robot to go physically do stuff for you, if you want assistance beyond what technology can do.
Not to trash talk the idea or the company, at all. I haven't tried it. I can't think of anything it could do for me that I wouldn't rather hire an actual assistant for. At $100, you can get several hours of real human time, in your local market. Someone you can meet, and develop a rapport with. I'm ordinarily not on the side of the fence that insists that the personal touch is important (I don't like car dealers and want them to disappear, I don't like sales people at any store and generally want them to disappear, etc. because in general, they know less than me about what I'm shopping for and just serve to annoy me and occasionally lie to me to try to manipulate my decision). But, in this case, there is real value in a real live human having access to your daily life or work so they can be most productive about helping you get shit done.
They're going way over the top here to market it to busy douchebags. I thought about using it until I saw who they think I might be.
Are they proposing we should be ok with giving them our credentials?
People aren't mentioning this here, but the real sticker shock is not $100 / hour but rather that to get that price you have to be ready to pay $1000 now or sign up for a $3000 a month subscription (that also begins now)
The low-key information page doesn't really set you up for that level of commitment to check things out.
I'm currently living abroad and don't speak the language very well. So I hired a virtual assistant who speaks the language and English. He charges $7.50 USD an hour. I only pay him for time it takes to complete my tasks. I rarely even pay $100 for the whole month.
I definitely recommend the basic version!
For things you can realistically text to have done, the task has be crystal clear, and basically atomic. If I've already done the work of making it crystal clear and atomic, then it's not worth $100/hr anymore, because it's just rote busy work at that point.
The "I'll do anything for you by SMS" space (I call it the "Houdini app" space) space affords the middle-to-upper class in first world countries (where labor is much more expensive) the same power you'd get if you were in a country where labor is much cheaper.
Example: in Lebanon, where I grew up, the middle-to-upper class of the population has: a stay-at-home maid ($200/mo), a driver ($300/mo), and a concierge at the bottom of their building ($30/mo), who will take care of pretty much anything for you. This is possible because labor is so cheap. I'd say you have to be in the 0.1% in the US to be able to afford this (since labor would cost you much more), but in third world countries, it's within reach of probably the top 15% of the population (by income).
I think the most successful concierges have a "fixer" mindset - you give them a very loosely defined need, and their job is 1) coordinating and finding a solution, and 2) actually following through and executing on it. The fixer's advantage is 1) the end user trusts them, trusts their taste, and there is a pre-existing relationship with the customer, and 2) the user has a general idea of what they can and cannot do.
The real value Magic brings is that they can be the fixer for your day-to-day life. If I were Magic, I'd change the pricing to $200/hour, but only charged if the task is actually completed. That way, the incentives really line up in that 1) they're more incentivized to complete the task successfully, 2) users trust them a lot more and know that they will get their money's worth, and 3) they develop the "fixer" brand, where Magic gets you what you want, and you only have to pay if it gets done.
Lots of important technologies start off as "toys for the rich" - I could see that happening here too. What I am curious to see, is how they plan on bringing the cost of the service down. Or if it's possible to get a big enough market share at this price point.
"Finish my dissertation. Thanks."
1. This is fascinating to watch
2. How is Magic going to compete with Facebook M and www.GoButler.com? Butler does all the things Magic does but for free. And Facebook M is being rolled out to more and more people.
3. Is there space for a premium concierge assistant that gives even better service than Butler or M can do? What prevents Butler or M from simply rolling out a premium $25/hour service and undercutting Magic if this segment proves valuable.
4. Isn't the real money in massive scale. Will Magic simply be a small concierge shop for the very wealthy and will we all use Facebook M for most tasks in the future?
I'm in a wheelchair and access to a personal assistant (especially for travel arrangements) would be excellent.
Access to a personal assistant in the departure country and the arrival location (to check just how wheelchair accessible that Days Inn wheelchair-accessible suite really is) would be phenomenal.
There's a business idea there, just that the market is small and difficult to cater for (lots and lots of different needs)
I'm one of the lucky ones and I'm relatively well off, but 100/hour (~$140AUD/hour) is way, way out of my price range.
With their promise of "Anything you want. Seriously." how long before we see that? :)
their roll out of this pivot has been a disaster:
1) Last week the homepage was saying it was free: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6v7ctgeakcya1wi/1.png?dl=0but when you signed up it asked you to pay $100/hr or $3000 a month
2) Then yesterday they updated the homepage to say it was a paid ONLY service:https://www.dropbox.com/s/t01zei3j9k6e99f/2.png?dl=0
3) Now today they've updated the homepage wording to say it's free OR paid:https://www.dropbox.com/s/5qlrt6vfzsigda0/3.png?dl=0
Venturebeat did a post on the pivot: http://venturebeat.com/2016/01/04/magic-to-start-charging-10...
So I challenge the amount of money Magic needs to pay the very best assistants, not the price to the customers. And while the automation will increase the amount of time spent on the job by each assistant delivering outcomes, it's a very exhausting day for them to deliver this sort of level of service non stop.
Over time the automation will increase the margins, but for now the best assistants will be setting themselves up to be poached by the best clients.
> As soon as possible.
So... it's not magic.
At their price point, it's only worth using the service if you have huge amounts of disposable income or your request is near impossible to fulfill on your own. It's basically a service that answers the question, "How much are you willing to spend to do X?" Where the amount is determined by them after the fact.
People are paying for a convenient service - nothing special about it. Some pay the neighbors kid $20 to mow the lawn, others pay Magic $100 to get something done that would otherwise be a hassle for them. Same shit.
How does it differ from other concierge services, such as the one connected to American Express cards? What have others typically done well and poorly, and how does Magic+ overcome the limitations?
> There is no markup on the purchases you make through Magic+. We find you the best deals that we can on every purchase, and we negotiate strongly with vendors. Often you will save more money using Magic+ than if you had done things yourself.
... I see a conflict of interest there.
> Its $100/hr to use Magic+. You only get charged for the minutes you use it for. If your request takes 12 minutes, youll only be charged for 12 minutes.
This could be affordable in small does depending how much time a human is allocated to do the task. I wonder if it's possible to know the estimate before you commit to buying.
Progress and efficiency is great, but I wonder if we (you and I, common devs) are digging our own graves.
The original "pay per use" service is still offered at https://getmagicnow.com/
PS you guys flagged a recent post with Obama's gun control executive action, but leave this one on??
Oh god, I can't stop laughing.
Find someone to train me like Jason Bourne. Hahaha.
The $100/hr rate bugs me a little. Some people's time is worth more than that and other is less.
We expect professionals to behave ethically. Doctors and companies working on genetics and cloning for instance are expected to behave ethically and have constraints placed on their work. And with consequences for those behaving unethically.
Yet we have millions of software engineers working on building a surveillance society with no sense of ethics, constraints or consequences.
What we have instead are anachronistic discussions on things like privacy that seem oddly disconnected from 300 years of accumulated wisdom on surveillance, privacy, free speech and liberty to pretend the obvious is not so obvious. And this from a group of people who have routinely postured extreme zeal for freedom and liberty since the early 90's and produced one Snowden.
That's a pretty bad record by any standards, and indicates the urgent need for self reflection, industry bodies, standards and for a wider discussion to insert context, ethics and history into the debate.
The point about privacy is not you, no one cares what you are doing so an individual perspective here has zero value, but building the infrastructure and ability to track what everyone in a society is doing, and preempt any threat to entrenched interests and status quo. An individual may not need or value privacy but a healthy society definitely needs it.
If you subscribe to the 'presumed innocent' premise of the law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presumption_of_innocence) then the burden of proof is on the inquisitor.
Either you believe in presumed innocence or you don't. Pick one.
"Chilling effect" has always been a profound term for me, because I imagine the "cold" (numbness really) sensation a human body often senses when something truly awful (disembowlment/dismemberment) occurs. The body's way of protecting itself is to go "cold", and in many ways that's exactly the effect taking place here, as well.
There's also an undeniable part of this conversation that rarely gets addressed simultaneously, and I'd like to see it sussed out more in concert; what about the folks who are doing Evil in these private channels? It's unacceptable to me that TOR gets used for child pornography, and it's unacceptable to me that my government finds out I'm gay before I come out to my family.
I don't want to provide those who would do Evil any safety or quarter. I also want to give people a powerful shield to protect themselves against judgement and persecution from the public and sometimes the law.
We should talk about achieving both of these goals, but we generally don't.
The crux of the debate then is where to draw the line between safe and unsafe amounts of power?
Also, when I send an email to my friend "email@example.com", sure the data captures the send-to email address. But the data doesn't know who laserpants actually is, nor does the email content get saved. I'm not saying laserpants can't be found if the law decides to investigate, but I doubt it's a matter of pressing a button to bring up the real name of laserpants. Especially if laserpants uses different email addresses and a shared internet.
At the same time, take something like the Dell database that was just stolen, and criminals starting to do their criminal crimes. Then I want courts to be able to flip a switch and say, you know what, if you're brazenly stealing a private company's database and calling its customers trying to defraud them, at some point there is some probable cause to make you stop doing that or figure out who you are. You're not just going to stay anonymous behind a skype number while you're defrauding people halfway across the world.
Also I don't want some bitcoin asshole to pay off an old soviet general and get a nuclear bomb, just because they think it would be a fun troll to blow up a major city, trololo.
These aren't theoretical concerns - ransomware, kidnapping, all these yucky things that civilized societies don't have, all happen absent rule of law.
There's a reason there wasn't a period in the Constitution (specifically the fourth amendment) after the words "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects shall not be violated." (Extra points for what is there.)
Even absent an anonymous Internet, way back in the eighteenth century, there were limits on privacy. Think of it like an operating system - a good kernel isn't reading my memory contents and slowing me down, but if I start performing illegal operations I might very well get shut down :)
It's not an easy line to find. Also, I don't want tens of thousands of people employed doing this crap. It's a minimal thing we need to live safely and sanely, not some fun snooping. Frankly I don't see why humans even need to be involved, until crimes start getting committed and the courts are trying to figure out why or where.
I wonder if the encryption will be recognized as a right under the second amendment by the court if it goes to that.
I don't live in the US, but the stuff the government whether local, state, or federal gets away with is very scary to me. What scares me even more is how the United States encroaches on everyone else's legal system. That's the underlying problem. Under such governments that are actually out to get people at times without much cause breaking all sorts of rules, that's what's scary.
The type of soft totalitarianism that exists and passes as common place is very scary. And that's really the people you should be scared of, and that's who you really want to protect your information from. Your run of the mill government that's actually trying to do a good job and not break its own rules, that sort of government like my government, scares me a lot less. Despite the fact that they encroach on my privacy. I know heads are going to roll if it comes out that they do things that are blatantly wrong or abusive with the information that they are collecting.
Not so in the US. They always have a half-ass lie that still somehow passes muster.
If privacy is such a problem for some it is not a technological problem, it is a political problem. If so, people concerned should make their revolution in an appropriate place: the real world, and let internet stay a public media.
PS noticed another fun topic there are blacklisted keywords on HN, like F words. Isn't censorship more concerning than privacy on a media? And funnily enough all the "lite" censorship nowadays are first about sex and gross words. Are sex and slang that dangerous?
I personally do not care about privacy. I see no reason why I should.
It's just my opinion. I know other people do but please don't generalize.
Many of the pro-brain-training camp have already begun to shift the goal posts. First it was 'simple games increase IQ,' which turned out to be difficult to prove when well controlled studies were performed. Now it's more along the lines of 'These simple games might have preventative effects against age related declines!,' which is an even harder claim to actually prove given the difficulties performing well controlled studies on aged participants.
In the cognitive science world, if we discovered a solid far transfer paradigm, especially one which transferred to something like G(eneral Intelligence), it would be our anti-baldness pill\flying car\4-day cellphone battery. People thought that these working memory transfer effects were the real deal and got very excited about it, money poured in, and the water got muddied by all these scientists with conflicts.
I obviously don't put much stock in working memory training. I wish it worked like they said, but I don't think it does. If far-transfer shows up at all, it's tiny, and doesn't persist after delay.
I've been working on a startup: http://synaptitude.me/ demo is old)
Essentially, we can do some of what Luminosity claims (and have independent studies to prove it). Every time someone goes: "Oh it's just like Lumosity" I have to go through and explain the difference. My wife has a degree in neuroscience and I minored in BioE, and we both just HATE Lumosity. Their misleading ads seriously damaged the public perception, and there is no way they can assess anything they claim (if it is even possible).
That's pretty much why my startup is working on our applications. We feel there is a market and can definitely help people, but just "brain games" (without feedback/guidance) don't do anything.
My wife (Japanese) always says "good for older people" about any sort of puzzle. She didn't get this from being deceived by Lumosity.
The FTC is being very heavy-handed here.
It's like someone sold carrots claiming they improve vision, and got thrown in jail.
Testimonials being paid for shills? Like, say it ain't so. Every damed commercial you've ever seen in your life has fake people presenting fake testimonials. It's assumed.
(Claiming that doing puzzles can stave off Alzheimer's is going somewhat far, though. That disease has specific physiological causes which can't be reversed through brain activity.)
Oh, and then there's this bit:
>The complaint also charges the defendants with failing to disclose that some consumer testimonials featured on the website had been solicited through contests that promised significant prizes, including a free iPad, a lifetime Lumosity subscription, and a round-trip to San Francisco.
Classic huckster move, not surprised, glad they got caught, etc.
Silicon Valley is confusing pseudo-science with innovation
> I dont think all the VC firms that are moving into the space know what theyre doing so I think you only need a couple of nasty failures to get them to pull back. Take Pathway Genomics, for instance, which was selling a test that was supposed to tell you if you had cancer. I say "supposed to" because it turns out no one including Pathway Genomics itself had done any research whatsoever to determine the test actually did what it said it did. The company sold the test directly to patients through a regulatory loophole, and after we wrote about it, the FDA got wind and told them to knock it off. But Pathway had investors: Edelson Technology Partners, Founders Fund, IBM Watson Group. Youll notice these are not health care firms.
In the next couple of years, we're probably going to see companies like Nootrobox, Stemcentrx, and Theranos go belly up, after which SV investor interest in the healthcare industry will dry up, just as it did in the energy industry after the late 2000s.
Cancelling took a couple of emails and threat to dispute the CC charge.
Hooray for FTC!
Would have been a really neat to revisit my academic passion, but as I started to read papers that had been published on their product, I wasn't convinced of its efficacy. That, and all of the studies used people with real problems, and they're marketing it to the general population as a way to "train" your brain, which feels wrong to me.
I found Lumosity in 2009-2010 and played occasionally, eventually converting to a paid membership in 2012-2013 and playing weekly on desktop and iOS.
I was even quite proud to make it to the 98th percentile of all players . (For reference, that's statistically consistent with my score on a standardized IQ test.)
Eventually something felt off about the scoring. At one point I distinctly recall them catching flack for changing the algorithm to boost you higher for playing more without necessarily playing better.
What I found anecdotally was that playing their games while I was in a distracted state would help me regain focus to the point where I could work on a cognitively challenging task, like a programming project, math problems, etc. afterward that I wouldn't have been able to before playing. I don't claim (or know) whether any longterm difference was made, but I also didn't join for that reason and never really cared about that. Lumosity games gave me a brain reset not dissimilar to a short meditation.
I don't know the science behind this idea, and perhaps it's purely placebo effect, but personally Lumosity was helpful to my life. That was my experience.
I definitely noticed when they toned down the claims, but even then I was surprised they were still going...
It seemed ED to be more of a "We will give you a chance to raise an arbitrary number over time if you pay us" and heavy marketing ploy.
Seems like if cow clicker got viral and took peoples money.
My local entertainment mediums were spammed with this ad:
for a solid year or two. The vapid, cultish, yet manic grin. The "Now, with Neuroscience(tm)!". The recursive caricature of a borderline mentally retarded person who now feels that everything is right in the world because she's paid tithe to the Intelligence Authorities. The notion that the commercial is not only defrauding, but actively mocking anyone too uneducated or uncritical or low-self-confidence, to doubt their claims. The several percent of her life it's implied she's supposed to spend engaging in ritual flagellation with repetitive, poorly designed games, in order to diminish the shaming at not 'working on my mind'.
It is the singular most offensive scumbag commercial advertisement that comes to mind. It brings on vivid fantasies of punching the smug grin off of this woman, even though I know intellectually she's just a professional actress, and I'm a pacifist.
So does that mean after paying this fine, Lumosity is in financial trouble?
Confront that with the transcript in the original FTC complaint (from page 7):
'Brain training' no better than 'penis enhancement'...just as dubious
I believe it's in that interview that she says that these kinds of "brain training" games are less effective than just normal games built for fun at developing any kind of cognitive ability. I tried Lumosity out for a trial period to see what it was about, but the games were overly simplistic and not well-designed from a fun standpoint. I also felt like I was hitting 90% of their specific "categories" of games with a single game like Starcraft 2, except a game like Starcraft 2 actually forces you to engage the thinking part of your brain if you want to perform at any decent level.
For those who don't know- Lumosity is killing it. They can easily pay this fine with their enormous profits.
On the other hand, it's hard to judge the value of an encryption app, or a brain training program, because the true value is often hidden. It's difficult to tell, at least for the average consumer whether an encryption app works. There might be signs for the more immediately knowledgeable ('why won't the passwords take special characters, or passwords longer than 12 characters?'), but it's usually a small group.
Unfortunately, this is probably going to make it harder for the latter kind of company to grow quickly, because trust takes time to develop. I don't just need to trust that my data will be safe - the entire value of the product depends on my trust that it does what it says.
I have no idea if lumosity does what it claimed, but I doubt I could easily tell in a day or two. Contrast that with instagram or a better computer - the value (however large or small) is obvious.
I always assumed that brain training apps are just like that. What "did not have the science" really mean in this case? Did they find some errors in peer-reviewed papers these companies have published? Or they just faked it all?
I really hope the FTC doesn't get it. It's a conflict of interest that permeates local law enforcement all across America.
Coffee has proven to make brain work better. But it's only temporary.
LSD...well, I've never tried it, but people swear by it. Not sure if scientists would be allowed to try it on test cases.
There are outliers for which I wouldn't quite say "not to be trusted" like Dollar Shave Club and Blue Apron, but even in those cases you are, IMO, overpaying for a vanishingly small amount of convenience.
I think it holds up pretty well though that putting a lot of effort into advertising via "live reads" on radio and podcasts is a negative indicator as to how much you can trust a company.
Shit doesn't add up.
Andreas Gal, Former CTO of Mozilla, wrote yesterday:"... a curious event got my attention: A commit appeared in the Android code base that indicates that Google is abandoning its own re-implementation of Java in favor of Oracles original Java implementation. Ill try to explain why I think this is a huge change and will have far-reaching implications for Android and the Android ecosystem."Source: http://andreasgal.com/2016/01/05/oracle-sinks-its-claws-into...
Bradley M. Kuhn, in charge with the task of enforcing the GPL for Linux, wrote today:"Thus, my conclusion about this situation is quite different than the pundits and link-bait news articles. I speculate that Google weighed a technical decision against its own copyleft compliance processes, and determined that Google would succeed in its compliance efforts on Android, and thus won't face compliance problems, and can therefore easily benefit technically from the better code. However, for those many downstream redistributors of Android who fail at license compliance already, the ironic outcome is that you may finally find out how friendly and reasonable Conservancy's Linux GPL enforcement truly is, once you compare it with GPL enforcement from a company like Oracle, who holds avarice, not software freedom, as its primary moral principle."Source: http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2016/01/05/jdk-in-android.html
Google's current approach using Harmony's clean-room API implementation has been basically deemed illegal. Google will likely have to pay millions if not billions to Oracle for copyright infringement. And they will continue to be infringing as long as they are distributing their current Android systems.
P.S. The law of the land is now that when you create an API it is copyrighted.
If we're talking speculation, then I'm guessing the next piece of news might be an announcement that Google is buying Java and Oracle's Java team. The line of thinking goes...
- Despite currently looking like losing a lawsuit, Google has just cosied closer to Oracle's version of Java. (Something's afoot...)
- Despite currently looking like winning a lawsuit, and Java 8 being very well received, Oracle's rumoured to have just let its Java evangelists go, and to be less interested in Java than it used to be. (They look willing to sell...)
- JavaOne was apparently a bit light on announcements (Could something other than just work on Java 9 be distracting them and making them put some plans on hold for a mo...)
- Having a litigious competitor own a key piece of Android is surely a pain point for Google that gets more painful as Android keeps storming ahead. Buying it would make that pain go away.
- Google's looking at possibly having to pay some money in the lawsuit, and will likely want to get something for it
- Oracle's looking at an uncertain return from the lawsuit, hasn't extracted that much revenue from Java itself, and might just be happy to take some cash for someone else to be custodian of it from here on
And Java IS open source. Lets not allow Oracle to monopolize and troll the API spec. If we allow that to happen, it will open a floodgates of patent trolls across the United States and the victims could be innocent startups who have just begun struggling and innovating in the market.
The post itself is well-written and thoughtfully argued, so it's disappointing that it's undermined by the author's choice of tone. If anyone is qualified to share their detailed thoughts on the OpenJDK/Android move, former/current officers of Mozilla are high on that list.
Since 2006/7, Java has been available under two licenses: commercial and open-source. The commercial license allows free implementation of the Java APIs and has a full patent grant, but requires conformance with the Java TCK (Technology Compatibility Kit) and requires payment if used in mobile devices (this was Java's main revenue stream for a long time). It is also possible to license the JDK source from Oracle under the commercial license for a fee. The same JDK is also released under the GPL. This license is completely free and unencumbered (the GPL itself prohibits any restrictions). It does not require compatibility (unless you want to call the result "Java"), and has no field of use restrictions. It also has a full (implicit) patent grant. As this article notes, OpenJDK's copyleft is not viral either (certainly not more than Linux): applications and libraries running on top of it are unaffected due to the "classpath exception". You can do whatever you like with Java when you use it under the terms of its open-source license: use the implementation, use just the APIs and implement it yourself, use the whole thing or just small portion, pass the TCK, not pass the TCK, fork it or not. You are even allowed to use it to implement .NET.
Google has had both of these options for licensing Java (at least since May 2007, but that was still before Android was released). Until very recently, Google chose neither. They couldn't reach an agreement with Sun on the fee for the first license, and didn't like the second (possibly because they feared that phone manufacturers would reject a GPL runtime, classpath exception or no). Instead, they chose to argue in court that the APIs are not Oracle's to license.
What has changed now? Perhaps Google realized that given Android's success, phone vendors would swallow whatever license Google gives them. In any event this is a win for everyone: Google wins because they will need to spend less resources on maintaining Android, Oracle wins because Java will now be on Android, and Android and Java developers win because they'll have a better runtime and greater compatibility. This is contingent, however, on Google not forking OpenJDK too much beyond compatibility; the license does allow them to do so.
Yes, the mainline OpenJDK project is steered by the JCP (Google, Intel, Twitter, and IBM are all members) and Oracle does have veto power, but that is just the project governance. Anyone is free to fork OpenJDK, as long as they don't call the result Java (unless they fork and choose to pass the TCK). The situation is no different from other large open-source projects.
: I have no opinion on whether or not Google's actions were legally justified (I do have an opinion about their ethics), but I do know that unlike Google's PR line, the ruling has little or no effect on the industry. Google's actions with Java's APIs were quite different from any other API implementation that I know of. Also, the ruling does not apply to web APIs. See discussion here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10811011.
The final product will be delivered digitally for 99.9% of consumers. Why fight it? Why spend so much money, time, and effort, to work with inferior media? I dunno. I worked on analog tape machines (I was even a hold out, for a while, having a 1" 16 track machine, as big as a mini fridge, in my house for several years after digital multitracks were the smart choice), but there really is no good argument for it today.
There was a brief window where the best digital equipment was inferior to the very best analog equipment, but it didn't last long. Maybe five years. We may still be in that window for film when comparing 70mm film to the best digital equipment...but, on the low end? Hell no. This janky little camera from Kodak will be a joke compared to digital equipment in the same price range. And, the film/processing costs will be outrageous comparatively speaking, limiting ones options when shooting to a significant degree.
In short: This is just hipster bullshit. Just like analog audio is hipster bullshit.
Kodak makes movie film only because the major studios, at the urging of some older directors, pay them to do so. (Pro movie film sales were down 96%) The studios have to pay for a certain amount of film whether they take it or not. This leaves Kodak with a paid-for, underutilized film production plant and film development facilities. That's probably why Kodak is doing this.
Currently, there are small digital cameras like the Blackmagic Pocket Camera (BMPCC) camera, under $1k, which have a capability to shoot images that are so similar to 16mm film that the average consumer couldn't tell.
The bottom-line today: if you want the 8mm vibe, you oversample your image when shooting (16mm or 35mm digital) and then degrade the image in post-production to 8mm.
That said, you can't get the entire Super8 look with digital filters. There are optical properties (have to use the same lens and sensor size), and the way it handles highlights vs lowlights is different than digital sensors. (The 'rolloff' in the highlights, rather than clipping at saturation, is very desirable.)
And it's true that film isn't entirely dead in Hollywood. Quentin Tarantino shot his most recent film on 70mm stock. But that's nearly 100x the resolution of 8mm film, so they're not really comparable. OTOH, I recently saw Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," which was shot on 16mm reversal (color, not negative) film stock for the look.
In each case, the choice of film stock definitely affected the look of the film. It also affected the act of shooting the film; even if you can mimic a filmic look digitally (through digital acquisition and post processing), shooting digitally is very different than shooting film. I happen to prefer digital, but courses for horses.
But yeah, for consumers, it's pretty much a hipster affectation. Good for Kodak, though! Also of note in the annals of hipster retro photography is 'The Impossible Project,' which revived Polaroid film:
From the wikipedia entry, "From the $90 range in 1997, Kodak shares closed at 76 cents on January 3, 2012".
Isn't this the mindset that drove them into the ground in the first place?
One of the most characteristic features of Super 8, at least to me, is the complete lack of audio (at least, on most Super 8 works). So if you went to a theater to see something on Super 8 there might be a live band playing the soundtrack.
I wonder if Kodak is doing something like putting audio on the SD card and then storing digital synchronization marks on the film somehow.
Edit: To be clear, I know you can already put audio on Super 8. It's just that most Super 8 films I've seen in the theater have had no audio or live audio. And yes, I looked at the specs. The specs don't mention anything at all, but the product rendering appears to show jacks for audio and data, and I'm wondering how that's incorporated.
That's the advantage digital has - you don't mail the pictures anywhere. Nobody can lose them for you. (Yeah, you can still lose them yourself...)
Amateurs for home movies? Nope, digital will always be cheaper, and faster/more convenient to work with to boot.
Aspiring filmmakers? Nope, if you want to shoot on film professionally you'll want at least 16mm to avoid the magnification/graininess Super 8 brings with it.
People nostalgic for the blurriness of old home movies? Do any of these actually exist?
(ditto for the stuff that's languishing in Google's Usenet archive.)
Anyone know why he would receive a "royalty" (esp. as an intern)? I've seen big bonuses/stock options but never a royalty.
Meanwhile, CNN is proclaiming "N. KOREA TESTS H-BOMB" on their front page, which is a pretty far cry from them claiming to have tested one.
It had to be an h-bomb. The korean people have been told that the regime already has nuclear weapons. So any test has to be a marked improvement. The only way up from nuclear is thermonuclear. Whether that H contributed anything meaningful to the force of the blast is very much secondary (pun intended).
Would it be enough to take out North Korea's nuclear capability and cripple troop encampments on the DMZ enough that they can't immediately launch a massive counterattack on South Korea?
Is that some sort of minimum for a quake, or did they dig down 10,000m to fire this thing off? That seems rather deep even for a large bomb, which this wasn't.
If Saddam really had nuclear weapons, there would have been no Iraq war and no ISIS today.
It's important that there be Mutually Assured Destruction between North Korea the imperialist US-backed South Korea.
We have nuclear weapons. Who are we to say that North Korea shouldn't have them? That just wouldn't be fair.