News Flash

I don’t write as often as I like but I have opinions on all kinds of news items. I usually share them on Twitter, but I’m going to try a different kind of post here that maybe can develop into a weekly featured item.

Photo by just.luc on Flickr.
News Item: The Apple iPhone 4 has reception problems. Apple says it’s because of how the phone is being held. Rumor is a patch will be released soon as the problem seems to be a software problem.

My Take: Does Apple do any QA? Shouldn’t this be an easy problem to discover and get fixed prior to launch. Certainly it’s good that they are pledging to get this fixed ASAP but when you buy a phone – any phone – you don’t expect stupid things like this to get in the way of its usefulness as a phone.

News Item: The Cybersecurity Act of 2010 just passed the Senate. Everyone is all up and arms because the bill supposedly gives the President the authority to turn off the Internet or seize key portions (routers, etc) in the interest of National Security. The supposed “Kill Switch”.

My Take: I read the bill from front to back. I don’t see support for a Kill Switch. The bill provides the authority for the President to work with ISPs and network providers to facilitate National Security investigations. It does provide the authority to seize routers and infrastructure in accordance with existing FISA laws (it does not amend FISA). This is not a new authority. It’s a clarification. I don’t like FISA and believe it should be done away with but there is no legendary Kill Switch in this bill.

News Item: Google is apparently in the throes of building a Facebook killer called Google Me.

My Take: Yeah, yeah, yeah. How many times has Google tried to get into Social? The only reason they are doing this is because they are scared of Facebook now that Facebook has invaded the search space in a whole new way. The biggest website on the planet now doing search? Google just wants to make sure that they return the favor. I’m still concerned about Google having all my information. But I’m scared of Facebook as well.

News Item: Twitter is always down these days.

My Take: Yup. It’s like 2008 all over again. I wonder what’s up with the people who have built their businesses on Twitter. I’m looking at you, Twitter Consultants. What happens when Twitter collapses under its own weight? Maybe that’s the business people’s fault for putting all their eggs in one basket.

The Changing Face of Comments

It’s been over six years that I’ve been writing on It has gone through many evolutions of themes, plugin uses, writing styles, writers, etc. The latest, if you haven’t noticed, was a move to subdomain as in an effort to rebrand under my name.

In the last two years, this site has become less abouot frequent writing and more about in depth writing. Most of the articles you have seen in the last two years have been solid articles that are well-written and in the 500-1000 word range.

Photo by wickked on Flickr

It’s become less of a blog and more of a column that you might see in a journal or newspaper. That is by design as it adds to the authority of this site. During this time, I have toyed with turning off comments completely which would certainly remove this site from the blog category. I’d actually be okay with that since I do blog in other spots. This site does not need to be a blog as that is only a word.

I find it interesting today that John Gruber of Daring Fireball happens to be talking about this issue (again…. it happens enough). A lot of people don’t like John. But no one can argue that the hard work he has put into his site over the years is something that he doesn’t have to share with anyone else.

Now that DF has achieved a modicum of popularity, however, what I tend to get instead aren’t queries or complaints about the lack of comments, but rather demands that I add them — demands from entitled people who see that I’ve built something very nice that draws much attention, and who believe they have a right to share in it.

The reality is most of my “conversation” happens elsewhere. Most of the time, reader engagement with my content comes in the form of retweets and not comments. And when I do get comments, they tend to be distracting. Who really needs that?

Comments, at least on popular websites, aren’t conversations. They’re cacophonous shouting matches. DF is a curated conversation, to be sure, but that’s the whole premise.

Indeed. Look no farther than the comments on any article on TechCrunch.

In short, I’m about to do what I should have done months ago. Maybe not immediately. It might take a few weeks before I pull the trigger. But I’ll be shutting off comments here. Of course, I have blogs elsewhere with comments, but sometimes not as focused as here on For instance, my personal blog is and my mobile blog is at Comments will stay open there.

I’m Pro Choice. I’m Android.

We in the tech world are a fickle bunch. On one side of our brain, we scream about openness and freedoms. We verbally disparage anyone who would dare mess with our precious Internet freedoms. Many of us, especially in my WordPress community, swear allegiance to licensing that ensures data and code exchanges on open standards.

Yet one thing stands out to me as an anomaly on this, the opening day of pre-orders for the iPhone 4.

Photo by laihiu on Flickr

Ah yes. The iPhone. The gadget that makes grown men quake in their shoes. The thing that causes adults to behave as if they left their brains at the door. At one point in time, I called this behavior “an applegasm” and identified the Apple store as the place where intelligent people go to die.

And it’s not only the iPhone. It’s the iPad too (I bought one 3 weeks after release and only because I needed it for some client work). In fact, it’s any Apple device. Apple has a way of turning people into automatons controlled by the Borg in Cupertino.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Apple and I love Apple products. However, there is a degree of hypocrisy (or shall we call it “situational morality”) that comes into play here. There is nothing “open” about Apple products. Sure, Steve Jobs famously points out that Apple encourages the use of open web standards like HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript, but the devices are nowhere near open.

In fact, the devices are so closed and guarded that strange things like lost stolen iPhone prototypes make huge news. There is only one device. There is only one operating system. There is only one permitted way of designing apps. There is only one carrier (in the United States).

And the open standards, web-free, maniacal tech world that is ready to take off the heads of closed entities like Microsoft, Facebook and Palm, whistle silently and look the other way when it comes to Apple.

In another few weeks, I am going to be eligible for an upgrade with Verizon Wireless. As a longtime BlackBerry user (I refuse to give money to AT&T ever), I will be investing in a new Android-based phone. I won’t be doing this with any kind of religious conviction about open source. There is a legitimate place for closed source in this world. I’m doing this because the culture of openness (which supersedes the execution of openness, in my mind), allows for more innovation and creativity.

In the Android world (which is quickly catching up to the iPhone world), apps are being created without the artificial restrictions placed by a single gatekeeper. There are more choices in phones. Don’t like this one? Try that one. There is a greater anticipation around what can be done.

Apple had to have its arm twisted to enable multitasking in it’s latest operating system. It had to have its arm twisted to allow cut and paste. It still hasn’t provided a decent camera, despite consumers begging for one. In the Android world, if Motorola doesn’t provide it, maybe HTC does. You have choice. Choice is good.

I’m pro choice.

Austin, Texas.

Back in 2007, I visited Austin for the first time with Jeremy Wright for SXSW. I fell in love with the city and have come back for every SXSW since. The truth is, as I’ve since realized, is that Austin is better when it’s not SXSW time and I have spent the past few months coming back and visiting this city every month for a week or more.

As of this past weekend, though, that has all changed. I live here now. I have a job here now (which I will announce more about when it is formalized this week). I have a girlfriend here. I have a built in community here.

In Austin, there are plenty of startups. Besides the one I will be working with, it claims startups like Other Inbox and Gowalla. The sense here is that people feel empowered to be entrepreneurial.

This is a far cry from DC where only a small subsection of people felt entrepreneurial, but most opted to work inside the governmental complex of agencies, NGOs, contractors, non-profits and public affairs. While that is all well and good, I have always believed that the human spirit is a creative one that can only be satiated by creating things, and that is the essence of entrepreneurship.

I have no love for DC. I have lived there for the last year and a half and before that, I spent most of my life 45 minutes up the road in Baltimore. I am not sad that I have left. In Austin, I look forward to resetting life and starting over. The last time I did not share my home with someone else was in 1999. The last time I had to start from scratch and buy everything new in order to make a house a home was… in 1999. Fortunately, I’m in a better position to do that then I was 11 years ago.

I made mistakes in DC that I don’t intend to make in Austin. A year and a half ago, I entered a city and approached it from a social stand point. While I made good friends, they were rare instead replaced by hundreds of acquaintances. The people with enough depth of character and heart to be truly friends can be counted on one hand.

In Austin, I refuse to play the social game. I’m diving deep. I’d rather have a dozen people in my circle that know me well and I know them well, than have 100 people that know me enough to be my friend on Facebook but are mainly just acquaintances.

Lessons learned from before. This is a chance to start over. I plan to take it.

Honey, I’m home.

Photo by Visualist Images.