5ish Links

Suns Out, Puns Out

(First published on 5/3/17 on 5ish Links, my newsletter — more)

Not much to say today. I was supposed to be flying into a storm (literally) in New Orleans right now. Instead, I’m sitting in a cafe on a beautiful day in San Francisco. Quite happy about that. ☀️👍

5ish Links

How to Detect Fake News in Real-Time

Krishna Bharat:

I know a thing or two about algorithms processing news. I built Google News and ran it for many years. It is my belief that detection is tractable.

I also know that it is probably not a good idea to run anything other than short-term countermeasures solely based on what the algorithm says. It is important to get humans in the loop — both for corporate accountability and to serve as a sanity check. In particular, a human arbiter would be able to do proactive fact checking.

History always seems to repeat itself here. Humans are sure algorithms can solve such issues, only to realize they can’t. Then they hire a ton of humans.

Apple’s Cash Hoard Set to Top $250 Billion

Yeah, it’s sort of an arbitrary number. But holy shit. Tripp Mickle:

Apple Inc. is expected to report Tuesday that its stockpile of cash has topped a quarter of a trillion dollars, an unrivaled hoard that is greater than the market value of either Wal-Mart Stores Inc. or Procter & Gamble Co. and exceeds the foreign-currency reserves held by the U.K. and Canada combined.

How long until we see iBank? I’m only half-joking. They’re seemingly having a hard time coming up with what to do with all that money. And while most of Apple’s cash is held overseas right now, it’s looking quite likely that there will be some sort of tax holiday soon-ish to repatriate it all.

What it’s like working for Warren Buffett…

Todd Combs, one of the money managers at Berkshire Hathaway:

“I get in around 7 or 8 and I read until about 7 or 8 at night. And I go home and see my family and then I’ll read for another hour or two in bed at night. And you know, there might only be three to four phone calls the entire week. So there are very, very few interruptions … But it’s literally just reading about 12 hours a day.”

Yes, this sounds like the dreamiest of dream jobs. But it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Ask yourself: is it more valuable to sit in a dozen superfluous meetings a day, or to be doing research (reading) to find and prep for opportunities that are actually of value?

Alexa Learns to Talk Like a Human

Sarah Perez:

These new tools were provided to Alexa app developers in the form of a standardized markup language called Speech Synthesis Markup Language, or SSML, which will let them code Alexa’s speech patterns into their applications. This will allow for the creation of voice apps — “Skills” on the Alexa platform — where developers can control the pronunciation, intonation, timing and emotion of their Skill’s text responses.

A clever and important step towards more useful, natural, and ubiquitous vocal computing. Amazon continues to lead the pack here…

Tip: if you’re not using the “Alex” voice for speech in iOS, you should be.

Nintendo Finally Says Goodbye To 3D

Jason Schreier:

It’s also a final goodbye to glasses-free 3D, a feature that was once the 3DS’s crown jewel but has long been rendered irrelevant. We’ve come a long way from March 2011, where I watched Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime lead a small crowd of loyal fans in grabbing 3D glasses and tossing them up in the air during a launch event on the streets of Manhattan. “The era of 3D glasses ends right here and right now,” Fils-Aime proclaimed.

What he didn’t know was that the era of glasses-free 3D was never going to start. It took less than a year before the 3DS’s sluggish sales forced Nintendo to slash its price from $250 to $170, a bona fide fire sale, in part because nobody cared enough about 3D to buy it. By mid-2012, Nintendo had removed all mentions of 3D from its marketing materials, choosing wisely to focus on what people actually wanted — good video games — and bolstering the system’s library with great Marios, Zeldas, and much more.

As I quipped on Twitter, good riddance 3D — until 50 years from now when someone inevitably tries to make 3D happen again. And fails, again. No matter the medium — film, television, video games, phones, etc — 99% of the time 3D just makes the experience worse.

Quickish Hits

Drunk Crayfish may help researchers understand drunkenness

Title says it all…

In House of Murdoch, Sons Set About an Elaborate Overhaul

“Can you truly change the culture without losing what made it so successful?”

(First published on 5/3/17 on 5ish Links, my newsletter)

Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

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