Monthly Archives: January 2016

Like ‘Making a Murderer’? Read This New Yorker Story

2016-01-28MAM

I’ve Tweeted about this and mentioned it in this week’s Newley’s Notes, and wanted to highlight it here, as well.

The Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer” has been a smash hit, setting the Internet on fire, bringing renewed fame to the subject’s defense attorneys, and inspiring amateur sleuths the world over.

I have watched it. It is highly compelling.

The most imformative story I have read on the series is this Kathryn Schulz New Yorker piece.

In short, she points out that as a documentary, “Making a Murderer” falls short because it argues, rather than investigates:

Instead, the documentary consistently leads its viewers to the conclusion that Avery was framed by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, and it contains striking elisions that bolster that theory. The filmmakers minimize or leave out many aspects of Avery’s less than savory past, including multiple alleged incidents of physical and sexual violence. They also omit important evidence against him, including the fact that Brendan Dassey confessed to helping Avery move Halbach’s S.U.V. into his junk yard, where Avery lifted the hood and removed the battery cable. Investigators subsequently found DNA from Avery’s perspiration on the hood latch—evidence that would be nearly impossible to plant.

Perhaps because they are dodging inconvenient facts, Ricciardi and Demos are never able to present a coherent account of Halbach’s death, let alone multiple competing ones. Although “Making a Murderer” is structured chronologically, it fails to provide a clear time line of events, and it never answers such basic questions as when, where, and how Halbach died. Potentially critical issues are raised and summarily dropped; we hear about suspicious calls to and messages on Halbach’s cell phone, but these are never explored or even raised again. In the end, despite ten hours of running time, the story at the heart of “Making a Murderer” remains a muddle. Granted, real life is often a muddle, too, especially where crime is involved—but good reporters delineate the facts rather than contribute to the confusion.

Worth a read.

By Me Last Week: How Apple’s Trying to Win India

2016-01-27_apple_india

An ad for Apple’s iPhone 6S in the Bangalore, India airport

I was in India recently working on a story about Apple’s strategy to win over consumers in the world’s second-most-populous country.

The piece, which ran last week, begins:

NEW DELHI—Amid concerns that China’s slowing economic growth could sap demand for iPhones, Apple Inc. is increasingly turning its attention to one of the last big countries it has yet to conquer: India.

The Cupertino, Calif., company has been quietly building market share in the world’s second-most-populous nation by boosting advertising, bulking up its distribution network, arranging interest-free phone loans and lowering prices.

On Wednesday, Apple said it has sought the Indian government’s approval to open its own retail stores and sell products online. Apple currently sells its products in India through a network of Indian-owned distribution companies and retailers.

“India has huge potential” for Apple, said Rushabh Doshi, an analyst at research firm Canalys in Singapore.

Click through to read the rest.

With Apple yesterday saying in its quarterly results that iPhone sales have been growing at the slowest pace since the device was introduced in 2007, emerging markets are increasingly important for the tech titan.

That’s because hundreds of millions of people, many of them young, are upgrading smartphones or buying them for the first time in countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil — while at the same time some larger markets, like China, may be getting saturated.

(Price, of course, is an issue in India: The annual GDP per capita is $1500, and Apple is trying to sell phones that cost upwards of $1000 there, though some models also cost less than half that. But as I wrote in the story, Apple offers payment plans, and still sells older, less expensive models like the iPhone 4S and 5S in the country.)

In the conference call for Apple’s earnings, CEO Tim Cook had this to say about India:

  • Cook also mentions India, saying the demographics looks good for Apple. The population is young, and Apple is putting a lot of resources into building there.

And:

To TimmyG: Cook spent a long time talking about India — longer than I was able to keep up with. But his point was yours: that this big and growing nation is made up of a young population.

Indeed. Stay tuned to see how Apple fares in the quarters and years ahead.

By Me and a Colleague: Islamic State Using Telegram Messaging App to Communicate with Radicals in Indonesia, Malaysia

The story begins:

Communications app Telegram Messenger is in the spotlight after the deadly terrorist attacks in Jakarta last week, with experts in Indonesia and Malaysia saying Islamic State radicals in Syria have used the platform to recruit members from Southeast Asia.

The revelations underscore both the apparent popularity of the Berlin-based app among members of the terror organization and the challenges it poses to authorities in tracking its private, encrypted chats.

Malaysian police on Saturday said its counterterrorism unit last week arrested four suspects, three of whom were recruited to join Islamic State in Syria by a Malaysian national via Telegram and Facebook Inc.’s social-networking platform.

Telegram, which in November said it blocked 78 of its public channels across 12 languages related to Islamic State, was one of the first apps to explicitly cater to privacy enthusiasts after reports in 2013 alleging widespread surveillance by U.S. intelligence.

Islamic State has used Telegram, a free platform that can be accessed via mobile devices and desktop computers, to disseminate public statements, such as its claim of responsibility for the November attacks in Paris.

Recommended: Decker Barbeque, Texas-Style BBQ in Singapore

2016-01-11decker

Highly recommended if you’re in Singapore and have a hankering for smoked meat*: the recently opened Decker Barbeque.

On a visit not long ago, the meats — brisket, ribs, pulled pork — were perfectly cooked and well seasoned.

And the sides, especially the mac ‘n’ cheese, were all excellent. There is also a kale (yes, kale) salad. And it’s tasty!

Also, importantly, there is good beer.

2016-01-11decker2

The place is pretty unassuming, as any proper grilled meat purveyor should be. It’s located in a small storefront behind Boomerang restaurant in Singapore’s Robertson Quay.

This review from SG Magazine has more details. More info on the restaurant in on its Facebook page here.

Hat tip for the find: @MrigaaSethi.

2016-01-11decker2map

Decker Barbeque

60 Robertson Quay, 01-17 The Quayside

+65 6635-8565

*I prefer South Carolina ‘que all day long, but really I’m open to all geographical variations.

My iPhone Home Screen, Early 2016

2016-01-05iphone

I’ve seen a few people posting about what they’ve got on their iPhone home screens now, with the new year upon us, and was inspired to do the same. I look forward to seeing how this changes over time.

Here goes:

On the top row, I’ve got the standard calendar app (I’ve tried the popular iCal alternatives, notably Fantastical, but was never sold on them), then the Photos app, standard Camera app, and — of course — Instagram. I like to keep all three photo-snapping-related apps in the top row, where I can reach them easily.

The second row holds the standard Clock app, Safari browser, the Voice Memos app (for easy access when conducting interviews; I use my iPhone to make backup recording should my stand-alone digital audio recorder fail), and Google Maps.

Row three contains 1Password, an insdispensible password manager that is one of the very first apps I install on any iDevice or Mac); the Settings app, Notesy (a simple app I’ve used for years that allows note taking via plain text files, syncable via Dropbox), and the standard Twitter app.

In row four I’ve got the excellent Pomodoro Timer, which I use to track quick dashes of uninterrupted work, per the pomodoro technique; the Pedometer++ app, for measuring steps; my favorite podcast app, Overcast; and, of course, the WhatsApp messaging app.

The fifth row is a row of containers. I love messaging apps so much I have an entire folder dedicated to the practice; it contains no fewer than 13 apps. Then Web/social is where I keep Facebook, Vine, and my favorite Pinboard app, Pinswift.

Apple Misc. contains the Apple stuff I mostly only deal with when I have to: the App Store, iTunes Store, etc. The red 1,374 represents the huge number of unread emails in my Gmail account. More on that below.

News contains our WSJ app, the NYT app, Quartz, Newsblur (a replacement I found when Google Reader died, and which I still love), and my favorite app for keeping track of English Premier League scores, theScore.

In row six are a couple more containers: Utilities, which holds the excellent calculator killer, Soulver; the Aeropress Timer (yes, an app for making coffee) and more. Navigation holds transport apps like GrabTaxi and Uber. And then there’s my two main reading apps, Kindle and Instapaper.

In the very bottom row are the Phone icon — unlike some, I still often use my phone for actual voice calling — and the app for my Gmail replacement, the awesome Fastmail. (I switched from Gmail to Fastmail not long ago. I may write about that in the future.)

Then there’s the normal SMS text message icon, and my latest streaming music service of choice, Spotify.

I wonder how this will look this time next year…

2015 Media Picks: My Favorite Book, Album, Movie, TV Show — and Goal and Save

2016-01-04harrisjpgBook: “Waking Up”

I read a lot of really great books this year, most of which were published prior to 2015.

The one that comes closest to qualifying for this list, however, since it was published in late 2014, is Sam Harris’s Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.

Harris, a neuroscientist, illustrates that our perception of the world quite literally dictates the quality of our lives. He discusses eastern and western religions, consciousness, the illusion of the self, meditation, gurus, and psychedelic  drugs.

“Our minds are all we have,” he writes early on in the book. “They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others.”

Highly recommended.

Album: “Meamodern Sounds in Country Music”

2016-01-04_sturgillAgain, I’m kind of cheating here. Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” came out in mid-2014. But it’s too good to ignore. I blogged about it back in February.

Unfortunately, it’s not available on Spotify — my current pick for music streaming given Rdio’s demise and my brief but ultimaely ill-fated dalliance with Apple Music — but you can listen to it on Amazon or YouTube.

Movie: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

2016-01-04SWSerious “Star Wars” nerds may have their quibbles. But as a casual fan — as in, I like the movies, I really do, but I don’t live or die by them — I found “The Force Awakens” to be thrilling and fun.

It’s great to have the crew back again.

TV show: “Fargo”

2016-01-04fargoHoly shit, “Fargo.”

Season one was fantastic. And so was season two, which just concluded.

It seems crazy, the idea of replicating, for TV, the setting (mostly) for one of the finest films ever made. But it works. And there’s more to come!

Goal: Messi vs. Athetic Bilbao

Okay, so a goal represents the greatest achievement in the world’s greatest game (except for saving a penalty), and isn’t a piece of media, exactly. But it kind of is, when it’s reproduced. Like it is here. I don’t care.

THAT MESSI GOAL against Atheltic Bilbao, which I mentioned back in June, was outrageous:

Save: David De Gea vs. Everton

Again, we have to go back to late 2014, but it’s worth it.

As I blogged at the time, De Gea was exceptional against Everton. The save he pulls off at the one minute mark here is just…I’m speechless.

What a year.