I don’t recall ever using the word “stunning” to describe a mobile app. Facebook’s new alternative app Paper is the first one that has left me stunned.
There are some magnificently designed apps out there (Clear comes to mind), but using Paper is the first time I have used an app and thought to myself, “it’s time to rethink the way you approach application interface design.”
It’s just pretty. Really pretty. And easy to used. And fun.
The only big flaw (barring some bugs that I am sure they will squish with updates) is that it makes Facebook.com feel ancient, stodgy and boring. Granted Facebook has never been a beauty, but the juxtaposition between Facebook.com and Paper is pretty shocking. I hope we can expect to see more of this kind of design work from them in the future.
For a company whose mobile application was the model for mediocrity a couple of years ago Facebook has done something special here. I strongly recommend you try it out if you have an iOS device.
RSA the makers of one of the most prolific digital encryption systems was outed for taking a $10 million bribe to weaken their security, so that the NSA could break it more easily.
Setting aside that $10 million seems like the NSA bought RSA’s integrity for an incredibly low price (who says government always has to pay top dollar?). The biggest problem here (even bigger than state surveillance) is that you cannot weaken security for just one party. If RSA security is easier for the NSA to break, then it is easier for everyone to break.
It’s messed up.
It’s horrible that the NSA asked them to compromise their product.
It’s insane that RSA complied.
What does this have to do with Stephen Colbert?
RSA has an annual security conference. It was a big deal in tech circles (until this year).
This year many security experts have rightly decided to boycott the conference. In its place they will be speaking at, TrustyCon.
Colbert is still scheduled as RSA’s keynote speaker and many in the tech community want him to cancel. Fight for the Future, an Internet advocacy group that I typically agree with is circulating a petition asking Colbert to do just that.
It says, among other things:
“Whatever speech you had planned, we’re sure it would be amazing. We want to hear it; we really do. The 2006 White House Press Corps Dinner? You killed it. But this isn’t that. Not only will your speech not be broadcast to the public–it’s also really hard to make jokes about surveillance that don’t distract from how scummy and dangerous it is.”
Fight For the Future is wrong. Colbert needs to speak.
Non-tech geeks don’t care about RSA Con, or the intricacies of Internet security. And while more people should be interested in what folks like Christopher Soghoian have to say, they just aren’t.
Colbert can draw attention to it. A lot more attention.
It won’t be broadcast… But I’m willing to bet that it will find its way to YouTube. If RSA tries to censor the video, it will only spread more rapidly.
“It’s hard to make jokes about surveillance that don’t distract from how scummy and dangerous it is?”
Really? Have they seen his show?
I have faith that Colbert will rise to the occasion, and deliver a speech that will help to push this conversation in a productive direction. If he cancels, that doesn’t happen. If he goes to TrustyCon and speaks to a friendly audience on their own turf, it loses a lot of its potential.
Guys like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are at their most powerful when they are lighting fires in the belly of the beast.
(Image via Wikipedia)
The door is locked, and you have 60 minutes to find the key, to exit. This is the premise of Escape the Room NYC… But it’s all a bit more complicated than that. 85% of teams fail.
“The Room,” located in a Midtown New York office space at first glance looks like a fairly normal office, but is actuality a series of puzzles within puzzles. Word puzzles, number puzzles, pattern recognition puzzles, logic puzzles piled upon one another to test a team of 10 or so people. I won’t give away more details because that would spoil the fun.
My badass team successfully completed the puzzle in 51 minutes, 40 seconds. To put this time into perspective the fastest the puzzle has been completed to date is 48 minutes and change.
Should I Do This?
If you like the idea challenging puzzles that require cooperation between a number of people (presumably your friends), then this is going to be a blast.
It’s about $27 per person, and I strongly recommend you buy up all 10 tickets for your time-slot, so that you can participate with only people of your choosing.
When they have new puzzles, we’re going back. And I can’t wait.
From my cold dead… Spit!?
In November 2013, the Food and Drug Administration took it upon itself to ban the at-home, personal genome service 23andMe.
This is unimaginably stupid, and if the decision isn’t reversed, it will have a long-lasting impact on healthcare innovation for years to come.
WTF is 23andMe?
23andMe is a rapid gene testing company. That work(ed) like so:
- You pay them $99
- They send you a box with a special plastic tube
- You spit into the tube (a lot), and seal it shut
- Put the tube full of your geney spit into the box
- Mail the box back to 23andMe
- 23andMe does science!
- A few weeks later you get an email telling you that your results are ready to view online
Pretty straightforward, but nifty stuff.
The results (like this site) span the range of practical, interesting and trivial information about your body, and things you can expect from it over time.
- Eye color
- Earwax consistency
- Ability to metabolize alcohol
- Cancer risks
- Risks for tons of other diseases
And it presents all of this information in a beautifully designed, easy-to-read format. The presentation of health information on the site is an incredible feat on its own. It’s even cooler because everything is pertinent to you and your genes.
In my case, I mostly confirmed a ton of things I already knew (more on that in a bit) or suspected from carefully following my family’s medical history… But 23andMe did explain my laughable tolerance for alcohol.
In addition to the medical information, 23andMe gives a massive amount of ancestry information, allowing you to meet distant relatives through their site. It’s neat stuff, and at times it’s a bit strange.
The FDA banned that?
Technically the FDA didn’t ban the testing… They banned the spit tube. The FDA didn’t really have standing to ban the test, so they classified the spit tube as a medical device… Like a pacemaker.
Pretty lame loophole right?
The FDA is concerned that people will make bad medical decisions based on the gene report. It’s not an unfounded concern because there is a margin of error in your results (and you’ll rarely know if something is incorrect), and genes don’t always react as they are expected to.
Nothing is certain when it comes to our genes. We all have little genetic bombs in us that are likely to detonate, but may lay dormant while something completely unexpected kills us.
What Does the Ban Mean?
23andMe can grandfather in early users. Those of us who used it prior to the ban can still access or data.
Anyone who used the service post-ban can only access ancestry information… Which while it’s interesting is a bit like ordering an ice cream sundae and receiving a cup with a few sprinkles instead.
23andMe is appealing the ban. We’ll see what happens.
Plenty of opportunities to make bad decisions
Have you ever gone on WebMD? Almost any symptom on there will present a range of diseases from common cold to cancer.
People also make bad decisions after visiting psychics, palm-readers and other snake-oil pushers.
And then there are the myriad dietary decisions that people make. People self-diagnose themselves all the time and casually make life-changing decisions with little-to-no information on their own health.
Finally, there’s doctor error. No exaggeration, I have nearly died twice because of misdiagnosis or poor judgment by seemingly competent doctors.
What’s at stake?
Banning 23andMe is banning patients from information about their own bodies. There’s really nothing more personal than your own genes. You should be able to learn about them.
As a teen I complained to my doctor about some very scary symptoms and he ignored me. Told me that it was in my head. I took him at his word because I was young and naive. Sophomore year of college, I almost died in my dorm room because of the very symptoms that I complained about. The problem was fully remedied, and I’m healthier today than I ever was as a child.
Years later my 23andMe results included information about the condition that I was born with and nearly died from. Had I been in possession of my own genetics information, my parents, doctors and I would have known what to look for. A very terrifying chapter in my life could have been completely avoided.
Patients need to be empowered with information about their bodies, not sheltered from it.
Banning 23andMe is a warning to any innovator who might seek to empower patients. Let 23andMe be a beacon of what the 21st century has to offer. Active, empowered, educated patients working with their doctors and loved ones towards better health.
You can help by petitioning the FDA to reverse their decision.
(Story via BoingBoing)