iOS and landscape video

There’s simply no way around it — actually watching video using Apple’s native TV app is just an appalling user experience. Here’s how it works: if you’re watching a video on the TV app — presumably, one that you bought or rented on iTunes, streamed through one of Apple’s native partner channels, like HBO or Showtime, or whatever the method for using Apple TV Plus will be — on an iOS device, it will play in portrait. It also looks terrible.

The Verge

I agree that I find a lot more iOS video apps, especially Apple’s default to portrait video when the phone is rotation locked.

Harbour Air to test an all electric sea plane from Seattle


The reason why we don’t have electricity driven planes –

A battery is nowhere near as energy-dense as a liquid fuel. Jet fuel, for example, has a specific energy of 11,890 watt-hours per kilogram. Top-tier lithium-ion batteries currently max out around 250 watt-hours per kilogram. That means you’ll need a far heavier amount of batteries to match the distance traveled with conventional aviation fuels.

Why Harbour Air?

But all of Harbour Air’s routes are less than 30 minutes, so there’s plenty of juice in the current and upcoming generation of batteries to meet the demand for these routes, and the planes don’t have to be quick.
Another consideration is that fuel is often the largest single expense for most airlines. Its price is volatile and spikes can hit small airlines especially hard. Electricity prices, on the other hand, are far more stable.

Game of Thrones…

“The Bells” was a fantastic episode when it came to a conclusion. There are some deserved criticisms when it comes to the narrative employed for us to get to this conclusion.

However, purely from the perspective of subverting the ‘expected’ aka romantic / poetic justice plot, the episode was masterful. To be clear, this was considered as one of the options from about the time Danaerys was considered to be a child of the ‘Mad King.’

In fact, what makes this particularly fascinating to me is how effective the narrative was in creating Danaerys as the protagonist. As a viewer, we were super effective and gullible at attributing her success as a ruler only to her. It was not to her advisors.

In hindsight, there were certainly signs that Dany had the signs of pushing back at any cost when she was pushed to a corner. You can find many thought pieces when it comes to her decisions on Yunkai and Astapor. However, the truth is that we all believed her and given how it was all setup against Cersei and ‘evil,’ we were gullible enough to believe in her ‘good.’ We wanted her to be better while not acknowledging that she has the power to be far worse for the realm.

There were some brilliant narratives embedded in the rushed storytelling though –

  • Varys was sentenced to death after being one of the only people to fight on behalf of the common man
  • Varys may have tried to poison Dany – this was pretty well setup for an open question that remains unanswered
Season 7 when Varys pledged loyalty to Dany

Some other poignant moments from this discussion

  • Tyrion started fighting for his ‘friends’ and ‘supporters’ and hence started making potential errors in judgement right from Season 7
  • It was devastating that Tyrion was the one who turned in Varys – for ‘loyalty’. Yet he immediately hedged as familial relationships and Jaime’s survival was important for him as evidenced by his fight for Varys and clear judgement miss when it comes to Dany.

There are people who are rightfully disappointed in what seems to be a break of character for Dany. Some specific complaints include – how does she snap into gratuitous burning of innocents. Someone who’s so emotionally unstable cannot have come this long.

I believe that the showrunners take the blame for this. However, I also empathize with their decisions. From their perspective, they had the balance the following:

  • Provide actors enough but not the whole story for preserving the subversion and plot twist.
  • Balance the narrative in early seasons without showing your hand on the conclusion
  • Cause a wow factor when it came to the actual subversion

Now, could they have done better for a more satisfying landing of the plot twist? Yeah, I think so. However, that’s not to say that the landing was unfair or that Dany turning into a Mad Queen was wrong. Heck, there are people who read into this since Season 5, leaned into it Season 6 and continued to hold steady as the seasons progressed.

Now, one might argue that Dany’s previous excesses in torture were justified given the moral high ground she took, while the callous burning of a million+ people doesn’t. I agree with this as well. However, I believe that it is a case of a rushed storyline and hopefully the books will provide us with the necessary closure here. The episode attempts to justify this in the beginning – Dany’s position pivots from being the ‘rightful heir’ for the throne to ‘save the world from tyrants.’ This is a classic despotic repositioning of the goalpost in order to justify yourself as the wielder of power. However, again it was rushed and did not land well.

There are other examples of this rush – the included audio of previous characters discussing Targaryens and their penchant for the crazy, the rushed scenes as Jon contemplates what the heck he signed up for with blind loyalty, Tyrion’s bet on the wrong side of history. All of these were critical for the scorched earth landing to hit. However, they were lost in the flames.

There are some additional takes you I highly recommend you read:

Let me end with, in my opinion, a brilliant take by the show on Cersei’s death. Cersei’s death is prophesied in The Feast Of Crows as follows:

When your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.

Cersei always believed that it would be Tyrion who’d be her cause of death. The book readers, including me, always felt that it’d be Jaime, who’s 9 seconds younger than her who’d kill Cersei. The show’s take on it was absolutely brilliant.

Jaime was the cause of Cersei’s death, by bringing her through the specific path across the Red Keep. Jaime’s hands are around her neck to comfort her and they die choking in the rubble. I believe that the show should take a well earned bow for this.

This is America

And why is Congress taking the step? Because companies like Intuit,  the company behind TurboTax,  and H&R Block have been lobbying lawmakers for years to take the step.

In other countries, the agencies in charge of taxes have their own programs which make filing taxes more efficient — and free — for citizens. But that would eat into the profits for the tax prep industry, which was estimated to pull in $11 billion in 2018.

$11B can definitely buy you some influence in Washington. That said, what’s particularly interesting is that it’s a bipartisan initiative. I’d imagine that at least the Democrats would have wanted people to file their taxes easier as they’d need that to fund some of their future projects.

Good Guy Microsoft

For instance, the FCC report suggests that broadband, as it is currently defined, is not currently available to around 25 million people. Sounds reasonable. But Microsoft’s data says that some 163 million people “do not use the internet at broadband speeds.”

So, this is inference by proxy and not a direct measurement. Why am I positive that the clown at the top of FCC is going to use that same argument?

The full report from Microsoft is here

Tata Harrier

The name is fascinating. Cars are rarely named after birds, with this and Swift being an exception. Also interesting, it’s named after a popular British fighter jet.

Maybe it’s an allusion to the fact that Tata now owns two British pedigree names – Land Rover and Jaguar. However, the design of the Harrier is certainly something eye catching and I’d love to learn its origin. If anyone has the right links, ping me.

Tata Harrier Images
Tata Harrier

New FDI rules in India

Financial Times has a good summary of the rules that went into effect on Feb 1, 2019.

The tl;dr version is this:

  • If you are an commerce company that has foreign direct investment (think, Amazon, Walmart, others)
  • You’re now only allowed to be a marketplace with the following criteria
    • A marketplace has to be open and unbiased
      • So you cannot hold your own inventory
      • You cannot sell exclusive items from other invested companies
      • No FDI seller company can be > 25% of sales on an FDI marketplace

The intent is to protect the marketplace from competition that has an advantage of ~70x spending power. The two largest online marketplaces in India are now effectively American owned – Flipkart (now owned by Walmart) and (owned by Amazon).

Amazon was especially effective at creatively circumventing existing rules wrt marketplaces and owning inventory – see Cloudtail. However, given General Elections in 2019, Reliance’s clear intent to launch into commence and payments, the signs are certainly present if this is protectionism under the aegis of preserving competition.

There are a couple worries here:

  • What prevents Amazon and others from changing the ownership levels in their ventures, whitelabel a shopping site and then continue to do the same thing?
  • Where does the Government stand in balancing the pillars here – users, sellers, marketplaces and foreign marketplaces?
  • What caused the change within the Government to enact this so quickly? There continue to be unsubstantiated rumors around Reliance Jio e-commerce starting in India.
  • And what are the new opportunities here? Changing the weight to support an Indian giant isn’t necessarily good for the smaller sellers in the long term. Is there an opportunity create a marketplace only model that would actually end up supporting local sellers?

Twitter to disclose mDAU as their primary metric

DAU = Daily Active Users – typically defined as non spam users who’ve logged into the service on that day.

Twitter’s mDAU for Q4 2018 is: 126MM DAU

Twitter defines monetizable daily active usage or users (mDAU) as Twitter users who logged in or were otherwise authenticated and accessed Twitter on any given day through or Twitter applications that are able to show ads.

Twitter investor comms (pdf)

So, why the additional filter of “monetizable?” Most reporters allude to an attempt to obfuscate comparisons to Snapchat – that claims to have 186MM DAU.

I believe Twitter is not doing its comms job properly. If they believe this is the new meaningful metric to track and trust and orient the company, it’s good to align the internal and external folks to align on it. Any obfuscation doesn’t do it justice. Its definition doesn’t do justice given its continued war on third party twitter apps.

That said, I personally think it’s an interesting move to shift to DAU as their primary metric. It’s twitter accepting their role in the current attention landscape – likely interesting and likely the place for people to go to get a sense of what’s happening right now. However, the caution here is that pre Cheeto in Command, there were niches – politics twitter, tech twitter, sports twitter. Twitter is relying on something interesting to happen every single day. Now, this has the same caution as the 24 hour news channels — what happens when things are normal? Is there an incentive to treat normal things are ‘newsworthy?’ I’d urge twitter to consider the 2nd and 3rd order effects given what facebook is going through right now.


Apple gets a taste of the billion actives

So it’s very likely that the total Apple user base is between 900 and 1 billion. If it’s not 1 billion now then it’s very likely it will be 1 billion within 12 months.

Write Horace Dediu

This is a big milestone. You can technically understand why iMessage doesn’t need to come to Android. It’s Apple’s apple only social network and has a base of 1B potentials.

What are the other potential implications?