Tag Archives: google


As more details emerge in this massive scandal over employee non-poaching agreements, I can’t help but think of something I said to my brother a few years ago: If you don’t own a piece of the company you work for, you’re always getting screwed. It doesn’t matter if you’re a senior VP making 30 Million a year. You’re still getting a sucker’s share of the overall take.

What Jobs and Schmidt started here was absolutely atrocious. But it’s not even remotely surprising. Executives serve boards, boards serve shareholders, and shareholders always want maximum profits. That’s the inherent nature of any corporation. And if the goal is to maximize profits, you have to—by definition—minimize cost of goods sold. Which means keeping salaries as low as possible.

Like I said, if you don’t own it…

The funny thing is, though, and I may be extremely naive here, I suspect that for Jobs the motivation for this scheme in the beginning had less to do with keeping salaries low and more to do with a serious case of paranoia about being betrayed. I think when Bill Gates screwed him over so badly with Windows, Jobs became permanently scarred and was always looking for ways to prevent others from screwing him again. He wanted loyalty, and this scheme bought it for him. Later, as the practice spread through the industry, I imagine that keeping down wages became a stronger motivation for most other CEOs.

Again, probably naive of me, and still unforgivable regardless.

If you want to be sure something like this isn’t happening to you, the only choice you have is to run your own company. Otherwise, you are part of a system that is designed to pay you less than you’re worth.


I never had any interest in Gmail.

Back in the mid 2000s, when everyone was jumping on the Gmail bandwagon, I was perfectly fine with my mac.com email address (which I had signed up for within five minutes of Steve Jobs’ announcement at Macworld New York 2000). People always complain that Apple’s Internet services suck, and they are right in many cases. But mac.com email has always been rock solid for me. I can count on one hand the number of times my account has actually been out of service over the last 13 years.

Furthermore, accessing email in the browser seemed like a step backwards, and while I was interested in many of Google’s products at the time (Maps being my favorite), changing my email address didn’t seem like a good idea. Also, in the early days of Gmail, an invite was the only way to get in. (Maybe because I have few friends and hate asking them for favors of any kind, I’ve always found invite systems pretentious.)

Eventually, I did give in and sign up for a Gmail address, not because I wanted Gmail, but because it was required for another Google product I did very much want to use: Reader. RSS reading, unlike mail, seemed like a good fit for a browser app, since all the articles I’d be reading would be in the browser, anyway. (Remember, this is long before the era of Instapaper.) So I created a Gmail address, reluctantly, but only used it for Reader access. This same address later gave me access to YouTube and Google’s chat, neither of which were ever as important to me as Reader was.

The announcement of Google’s retirement of Reader, then, meant a lot more to me than simply losing my RSS syncing method. I had since moved out of the Reader web interface entirely and adopted a combo of the excellent Reeder app on the Mac and iOS, coupled with Instapaper for all my RSS reading sans browsers. Now that the back end needed to be replaced, too, I could finally retire my Gmail address and shut down my Google account altogether.

Over the past few years, I’ve been slowly moving away from every Google service I’ve ever used. Duck Duck Go has replaced Google search on my Macs. I’d love to use Duck Duck Go on my iOS devices, too, but Apple so far has only given me the option of Yahoo and Bing on my iPhone and iPad. Apple’s Maps suits me perfectly fine, especially with the announcement of the Maps app for OS X Mavericks. (Go ahead and laugh, but wherever I’ve gone, I’ve only run into minor issues with Apple’s solution.) I use Vimeo instead of YouTube for any videos I need to upload, which are few and far between. Google+ adds no value to my life whatsoever. I have no use for Google Docs. I’ve never liked Google Calendar and Contacts, either. And then there’s that Gmail account, which I never used for email in the first place.

It’s not that I hate Google, or that I take some special joy in shutting down this account. But the fact of the matter is that I simply don’t trust Google with my data. And what they offer me in return is of little benefit to me. I have good alternatives for anything I would want to do with a Google product.

A few months back, I finally shut down my LinkedIn account, and it felt great. (They still email me once in a while, which is a whole other story.) Letting my Google account go, I’m guessing, will be similarly liberating.

Sure, the alternative services that I’ve chosen are collecting data on me, too. It’s not like I’m “off the grid” by any means. But being off Google’s grid does seem like a good idea at the moment.

So what will I do for my RSS needs? Well, fortunately, the closing of Reader has caused a real resurgence in RSS offerings, so I have plenty of options. I’ve postponed the switch until now for two reasons: so I could research the best options, and, more importantly, to wait and see which services Reeder will support. (RSS is a serious part of my daily workflow. I don’t want to switch apps if I don’t have to. And I need a solution that works the same everywhere, on my Macs as well as my iOS devices.)

Unfortunately, Silvio didn’t manage to get all three versions of his Reeder apps updated in time for the shutdown, so I’ll be at least temporarily marooned with a workaround solution. Most likely I’ll just do all RSS on my iPhone until the iPad and Mac app updates arrive. Or I’ll try out a Mac alternative like ReadKit, since it’s getting a lot of good press lately. But I’m sure in a few months this will all be settled and I’ll back into my regular workflow on all my devices.

In the end, I chose Feed Wrangler as my sync service, as the streams seem like an excellent feature, and there’s a yearly subscription cost involved. (I inherently mistrust any company that doesn’t charge me money for a service.) We’ll see how that goes. I will reserve judgment for after I’ve had a few weeks working with it in Reeder everywhere.

I’m sure there will be times when not having a Google account will be a minor inconvenience to me. But I see no compelling reason at the moment to keep it active just on the outside chance I’ll need it again.

With all the extra complications of modern Internet use, I think it’s a good thing to purge the list of companies who have accounts associated with your name, just to clear the air a little. So look out, Facebook. You’re probably next.

Buying Market Share

Android’s Market Share Is Literally A Joke | Tech.pinions – Perspective, Insight, Analysis: “The company that buys market share must inevitably go out of business or reverse its course and fight its way back up to profitability. The company with the value and the profits, on the other hand, has the advantage of holding the high ground and can choose to take market share at will.”

(Via John Kirk for Tech Opinions.)

This, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with developers on the App Store trying to get to the top of the charts at any cost. They’re buying market share by maximizing downloads instead of profits. And most end up making little money as a result.

Kirk’s piece here is examining iOS Phones vs. Android, but the same concept applies to the software sold on these devices as well. Having more users is actually a bad thing when the cost per user is higher than the profit per user. 

People like to cite Microsoft when talking about the value of market share, but they always seem to forget that Microsoft never sacrificed profit margin to get that market share. It was the hardware manufacturers—Dell, Sony, HP, Gateway, etc.—who were caught up in the pricing wars. Microsoft pitted them against each other and sat back on a pile of gold as they tore each other to pieces. 

Google? Not so much with Android.

A Little Logic Regarding Maps

It occurs to me that the people trading barbs about the whole maps controversy on iOS are wasting time and getting bent out of shape about nothing. There’s a very simple and logical way to decide which maps app, Google’s or Apple’s, you want to use.

  • If you live in an area where Apple’s map data sucks, use Google.
  • If you live in an area where Google’s map data isn’t as good as Apple’s (Yes, those places exist.), use Apple’s.
  • If you need transit directions, and you aren’t satisfied with the many third-party transit solutions out there for your home town (or you just don’t feel you should have to rely on a separate app for this) use Google.
  • If you live in one of the many areas where the mapping data is good enough on either, try them both and decide for yourself which one works best for you. (I know, hard to believe this is possible, but it is.)
  • If you’re uncomfortable with your location being tracked and your data being sold to third parties without your consent or knowledge, you can use Google, but be sure to opt out of that tracking.
  • Use the app you like, and then shut the hell up about it. It’s not your job to convert the world to your way of thinking. It’s not your job to tell other people that the app they prefer, the one that works best for them, is terrible, or that they’re an idiot for prefering it. It’s a maps app. Get a life.

I’m sure Apple’s and Google’s apps will both get better over time. So revisit both on occasion if you feel your chosen solution is letting you down for whatever reason. Or don’t. That’s entirely up to you.

This is what that famous ‘competition’ so many people claim to love looks like. Be happy we have choices. If you can’t admit that both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages, you’re being a zealot, not a rational judge of the true merits of either solution. Which is fine, as long as you’re aware of that.

Dumping the Yellow Pages on Your Doorstep is a Protected Right

Appeals court rules against Seattle’s curbs on yellow pages | Local News | The Seattle Times: “The court ruled the city’s law is unconstitutional, saying yellow pages are protected, like other publications, by the First Amendment.

‘Although portions of the directories are obviously commercial in nature, the books contain more than that, and we conclude that the directories are entitled to the full protection of the First Amendment,’ Judge Richard Clifton wrote in the decision. ‘As a result, when we evaluate the ordinance under strict scrutiny, it does not survive.'”

(Via. the Seattle Times)

The huge thing that bugs me about a story like this is not all the legal issues involved. I actually agree with the court’s finding in principle. It’s the notion that you have a group of people who clearly don’t want these books, and yet the Phone-book companies want to shove them on their doorsteps, anyway. I mean, once someone tells you point blank they are completely uninterested in your product, what is the point of shoving it down their throat? You’re not going to make any money off these people. You’re going to waste your own money printing a book that immediately gets trashed. So why would you give it to them, and pay a lawyer do defend your right to do so?

This is the problem with advertising as a business model. All the stats are based on the number of “eyeballs” rather than the effectiveness of the ads themselves. Reach the maximum number of people, period. Don’t worry if you’re offering breast implants to men or Viagra to women. Just reach people, because at best you’re going to convert on 1 or 2 percent of them. The money comes from total people who saw the ad, not the percentage of those who actually bought the product as a result.

This was the problem that Google’s promise of “targeted” ads was supposed to solve. But it hasn’t. At the end of the day, all the targeting in the world doesn’t pay as well as good old fashioned dumb carpet bombing of the entire universe. 

Sad, really.