A bit of weekend reading

 
man sitting on bench reading newspaper
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

…oftentimes you can see change on the horizon, assuming you’re looking for it, and there comes a day when the landscape flips. But the old entities attached to the old ways refuse to adjust, they believe in holding back the future, staying rooted in the past, to their detriment, because the public is not controlled by them. 

Bob Lefsetz

This simple insight is Silicon Valley (a proverbial proxy for post-industrial technology). Why it exists, why it eats itself, and why it finds the future. A more business version of this insight is Clay Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma. 

Top Read:

The Junkification of Amazon: Amazon might be the biggest store on the web, but it is also the shittiest place to shop on the web, says John Herrman. I couldn’t agree more — my overall experience with Amazon has deprecated, and I am always worried about what crap I will get in the box. I have shifted about a third of my dollars to Walmart — Amex underwrites the Walmart equivalent of Prime — and another third to Target or independent stores. Shopify has made it easier to shop with independents. Amazon’s great advantage is “returns.” You will see Amazon as just another web place when someone cracks that. (Ironically, New York magazine has no problem linking to Amazon for affiliate revenues.)

Notable 

So Many Podcasts, So Little Money: Spotify has thus far failed its big bet on podcasts. It has become the biggest podcast platform and has $200 million in podcasting-related ad revenues, but is that enough? Spotify and its CEO made the classic mistake all leaders make: they brought in big-ticket experts who know how to spend big bucks to attract talent. In reality, Spotify forgot it has the audience and the platform to turn anyone into a star. 

It could be verse: Mark Zuckerberg isn’t giving up on his Metaverse ambitions. Sure, they lost money in 2022 and will lose more in 2023. The real question is, will they ever make it work, or will Apple come and steal their thunder? For now, Zuck is all in on the hot new thing of today: Generative AI.

Is this the end of writing? 

What is the Internet? 

Why you should not buy iOT devices from Anker

Ephemera 

Now, this is a clever photography game!

Feb 4, 2023. San Francisco.

On my Om

04 Feb 2023 at 15:53

The Best of 2022

 

At the very end of 2022, I wrote about my photographic journey and how it has allowed me to look at both the world and life in new ways. It has allowed me to embrace imperfections, my own and in others. Of course, it could just be that my inner monologue influenced my photography.

Regardless, many of you wrote wanting to see more of my photos from 2022. There are quite a few favorites, so instead of creating a long string of photos, I roped in my friend Felix and had him create a video presentation of the best of my 2022 photos! Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

February 4, 2023, San Francisco.

On the road to imperfection

On my Om

04 Feb 2023 at 14:48

The Why of Tech Layoffs

 
pink arrow neon sign
Photo by Ussama Azam on Unsplash

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that “tech layoffs” have been on my mind, and I wrote a column for The Spectator to explain “the why of these layoffs.” An unprecedented boom in Silicon Valley that started with the once-in-a-generation convergence of three mega trends: mobile, social, and cloud computing, has peaked. It started in 2010, and it has been bananas around here for the past decade or so. The FAANG+Microsoft companies saw their revenues go from $196 billion to over $1.5 Trillion. Let that sink in. Booming stocks helped create an environment of excess like never before. 

The companies got into the business of what Paul Kedrosky calls “people hoarding.” The pandemic and the resulting growth revved up the hiring machine even more. The over-hiring of talent has led to wage inflation, which had a ripple effect across the entire technology ecosystem. Technology insiders are happy to tell non-tech companies to use data and automation as tools to plan their future. It is easier to preach than practice. 

Why does Google need close to 200,000 employees? Or does Microsoft need 225,000 people? Salesforce, till recently, had about 73,500 employees. Profitable as these companies have been, it is also clear that they have become sloppy and bloated. I don’t want to undermine the misfortunes of those losing jobs. A lot of the blame is on the leaders of these companies, who were asleep at the wheel. The reality is that when it comes to business, companies have to appease their investors. And right now, those investors want to see companies be more efficient, especially now that growth is becoming normal. 

If you are looking for one, the silver lining is that we will soon be in a new cycle, and a new set of hype trends will converge and create opportunities. And they might not emerge in 2023 or 2024, but they surely will. By then, the industry would have put these job cuts in the rearview mirror.

Read the full piece on The Spectator website!

February 2, 2023. San Francisco

On my Om

02 Feb 2023 at 17:10

A Letter from Om. January 2023

 

Hi! In case you are new around here, I am Om & this is my letter where I share what’s on my mind, my latest writings, articles worth reading from around the web, my recommendations & some of my photography.

What I have been up to

It is amazing how quickly the first month of the year has passed. January went way too quickly for me. I had an excellent start to the year — I went on a year-end photography trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. With steady snow, low temperatures, and incredible minimal landscapes, it was a perfect way to ring in the new year. It put me in a great state of mind for the year ahead. However, my return to everyday life didn’t go as well — I picked up a bug. I didn’t test positive for COVID, but it felt like it. For about ten days, I could barely leave my bed. Whatever! I am just glad to be out and about. I have been researching and preparing to write much more in the coming year.  

What I am thinking about:

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that “tech layoffs” have been on my mind, and I wrote a column for The Spectator to explain “the why of these layoffs.” An unprecedented boom in Silicon Valley that started with the once-in-a-generation convergence of three mega trends: mobile, social, and cloud computing, has peaked. It started in 2010, and it has been bananas around here for the past decade or so. The FAANG+Microsoft companies saw their revenues go from $196 billion to over $1.5 Trillion. Let that sink in. Booming stocks helped create an environment of excess like never before. 

The companies got into the business of what Paul Kedrosky calls “people hoarding.” The pandemic and the resulting growth revved up the hiring machine even more. The over-hiring of talent has led to wage inflation, which had a ripple effect across the entire technology ecosystem. Technology insiders are happy to tell non-tech companies to use data and automation as tools to plan their future. It is easier to preach than practice. 

Why does Google need close to 200,000 employees? Or does Microsoft need 225,000 people? Salesforce, till recently, had about 73,500 employees. Profitable as these companies have been, it is also clear that they have become sloppy and bloated. I don’t want to undermine the misfortunes of those losing jobs. A lot of the blame is on the leaders of these companies, who were asleep at the wheel. The reality is that when it comes to business, companies have to appease their investors. And right now, those investors want to see companies be more efficient, especially now that growth is becoming normal. 

If you are looking for one, the silver lining is that we will soon be in a new cycle, and a new set of hype trends will converge and create opportunities. And they might not emerge in 2023 or 2024, but they surely will. By then, the industry would have put these job cuts in the rearview mirror. 

Stuck@Om New Episode:

Future of Search: A candid conversation with Sridhar Ramaswamy, ex-Googler fighting his former employer with a new approach to search! We talk about ChatGPT and Google’s 10-blue-link prison. ( Listen on Overcast Download on Apple. Listen on Spotify)

Recent writings:

  1. WiFi is super fast on new MacBook Pros: The M2 Pro MacBook Pros are small bumps from their M1 predecessors, but as a broadband nerd, I love the speeds that WiFi 6E enables on this new machine. It seems like a good reason enough to upgrade, but then I am a broadband nerd. (Also, Apple launches new M2 chips)
  2. Is “stream” as a design paradigm over?: For nearly two decades, we have used the stream to organize information. With algorithmic programming taking center stage, the reverse chronological stream is losing its preeminence. How does it impact web & blog design? Join a boisterous conversation in the comments section.  
  3. Why Internet Silos Win: The social Internet is a performance theater praying at the altar of attention. That is why we all end up on mega-platforms. 
  4. The Smartphone Megapixel Race

Worth reading 

Recommendations: 

  1. Poker Face is a new series on Peacock Network. I have seen three episodes, and I am hooked. As a casino worker with unique talents, Natasha Lyonne is a special talent. Plus, there is Benjamin Bratt as a silent assassin. As someone who loves photography, I love the cinematography of this series and how they render Reno, Nevada. 
  2. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s new album “12” has been on repeat at home. It is magical — somber, elegant, and restrained. Pitchfork review gives you context on the album. 

Random Fact:

The denim belt loop turned 100 this year

My photography: I would love for you to see some of my latest photographs. 

PS: Some of these photos are available for sale as prints. Drop me a line if you want to add them to your living space. 

On my Om

02 Feb 2023 at 01:37

How Spotify is changing dance music

 

Spotify is changing electronic music and dance music in particular. Spotify doesn’t just eliminate the DJ as the conduit between artist and audience. Streaming music has cultivated a new breed of creators who seem to be totally in the dark about what a DJ does in the first place. As a result we have what’s almost a new format of music that broadly fits into the parameters of club music, but will almost certainly never be played in a club — or by any DJ at all.

I am not surprised that Spotify or TikTok are changing how music is made, why it is made, and how it is consumed. Streaming has shaped how we experience music, and as a result, it has lost some of that loving feeling. Medium is the message!

Good Read: How Spotify turned dance music into dance Muzak.

On my Om

01 Feb 2023 at 18:30

Big Emps, Low Temps!

 

In 2021, I had a chance to visit the frozen continent of Antarctica. It was a chance to experience “totality,” a kind of solar eclipse where the Moon fully obscures the disk of the Sun. Originally the plan was to see this eclipse over a large Emperor Penguin colony, but the weather changed my plans. Instead, I experienced totality on the vast nothingness of the Union Glacier.

But before that, I got to spend a lot of time with the Emperor penguins and get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures. I captured some of these moments on my iPhone, which was my primary tool for making short videos on this trip, which took me to different locations in Antarctica. My videographer friend Felix helped cobble them together and created a short 2+ minute film for your enjoyment.

Let me know what you think!

January 31, 2023, San Francisco

Enclosure:

On my Om

31 Jan 2023 at 17:00

WiFi is super fast on 2023 Macbook Pros

 

Apple recently released the 2023 MacBook Pros in 14 and 16-inch configurations. As expected, there have been many reviews about the new devices. They range from ho-hum to great reviews. As expected, most of these reviews and reviewers go over the specs. They talk about what’s new –more cores, more GPU power, and longer battery life. Bumps are great, but they aren’t bumper! And since this isn’t as big a bump as the e saw from Intel to M1 chips, no one is doing cartwheels about the new devices. 

I am one of those who doesn’t care about reviews that are pushed out after using the devices for a couple of days — it is true for the cameras, and it is true for the laptops. You could buy any Apple laptop as a general user, and you won’t be disappointed.  I recommend the new MacBook Air to friends and family all day long. Why? Because I used that computer for a few months and was thoroughly impressed — sending it back to Apple was a bittersweet moment. 

Apple sent me the 2023 MacBook Pro 14-inch with M2 Max 12-Core CPU/38-Core GPU with 64 GB memory and 2 TB of hard drive space. I have been playing around with the machine and what has surprised me — very pleasantly is the wireless networking capabilities. It has Bluetooth 5.3, but more importantly, it has WiFi 6E, allowing wireless networks to utilize the 6GHz band. It can theoretically support speeds of up to 2.4GB/s —up to twice as fast as the previous generation.

WiFi 6E is an extension of the existing WiFi 6 (802.11ax) standard that allows for using the 6GHz spectrum in addition to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This additional spectrum provides more bandwidth, which results in faster speeds and less congestion for devices that support WiFi 6E. Since (for now) the 6GHz band is less crowded than the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, theoretically fewer interference issues and better signal quality for WiFi 6E devices.

WiFi6EonMacbookPro142023

Screenshot 2023 01 26 at 10 04 41 AM

I have a Ubiquity U6 Enterprise access point plugged into my network and supports WiFi6E. This isn’t my primary network — to be honest, I have struggled with Ubiquity gear — but it is something I use as a test network. I connected the new laptop to this network and saw my connected speeds go from 350 Mbps down and 400 Mbps up to over 800 Mbps down and 800 Mbps+ on the uplink. My network provider — Google’s Webpass can only provide 1 Gbps, so this is as fast as what I am getting on my Wired Ethernet connection.

I saw speeds vary slightly over the few days I had the laptop, but not by much. The speeds were consistent throughout the apartment, even outdoors on the balcony. I walked out of my apartment and to the elevators, and there wasn’t a drop in speed. I saw latency and ping-time were all over the map, but not enough for me to worry. 

As a broadband nerd, this alone is a reason for me to contemplate trading up — though I don’t see any need to give up on my 2021 MacBook Pro — for now. But I can justify my upgrade to myself!

I am not sure how many people own WiFi 6E access points, but if and when they do, they will be thrilled, as I am with the addition of 6E. Of course, by then the networks would be crowded, and the performance would drop again! 

January 30, 2023. San Francisco

I asked ChatGPT what the top ten features of WiFi 6E are. These are not my words; they are what Chat GPT threw out!  

More bandwidth: WiFi 6E allows for the use of the 6GHz spectrum, which provides more bandwidth than the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
Faster speeds: With more bandwidth, WiFi 6E devices can achieve faster speeds than previous generations of WiFi.
Less congestion: The 6GHz band is less crowded than the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, so there will be less interference and better signal quality for WiFi 6E devices.
Improved security: WiFi 6E includes stronger security features to protect against hacking and other malicious attacks.
Support for more simultaneous connections: WiFi 6E supports more simultaneous connections than previous generations of WiFi, which is useful for high-density environments such as airports and stadiums.
Better performance in dense environments: WiFi 6E is optimized to perform better in environments with many devices, such as high-density residential areas.
Lower latency: WiFi 6E offers lower latency than previous generations of WiFi, which makes it better suited for applications such as gaming and streaming.
More efficient use of spectrum: WiFi 6E includes features such as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and Target Wake Time (TWT) that allow for more efficient use of the available spectrum.
Better battery life: WiFi 6E devices use less power, which can result in longer battery life for mobile devices.
Improved reliability: WiFi 6E is designed to be more reliable than previous generations of WiFi, with features such as beamforming and multi-user MIMO that help to improve signal quality and reduce dropouts.

FTA: I recommend MacBook Air 13 (M2 2022 edition) as an on-the-go computer for photographers. It is a solid lightweight machine with long battery life. It is more affordable than the more expensive Pros. Read my full review here.

On my Om

30 Jan 2023 at 17:54

Glacier’s Edge

 

When visiting Alaska back in 2018, I took a helicopter flight over a glacier. I took a lot of photographs from the air, but never really got around to editing them. I am usually plodding and lazy about editing my photos.

This past weekend, however, I got a burst of energy and inspiration, that allowed me to edit a few photos from that trip. I have a complete set of images and will share them for the rest of the week.

I have shared two photos: the first (above) is of a near-naked sand bar, and the other (below) is of land where time has allowed life to flourish. These are B&W photos, but they have a slight glacial blue tint to them — my homage to the mighty Knik Glacier, which like glaciers worldwide, is receding.

January 30, 2023. San Francisco

On my Om

30 Jan 2023 at 16:00



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