Newley.com

Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Month: March 2018

Alibaba Bets Another $2 Billion on Southeast Asia

2018-03-21_alibaba_lazada

That’s the headline of a story I wrote with my colleague Liza Liz, which ran on Monday. It begins:

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Executive Chairman Jack Ma is doubling down on Southeast Asia, investing another $2 billion in e-commerce subsidiary Lazada Group and naming trusted confidante Lucy Peng as its chief executive.

The investment announced Monday comes on top of the $2 billion the Chinese e-commerce giant has poured into Lazada since buying a majority stake in 2016.

Singapore-based Lazada operates online marketplaces in six Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia, selling everything from lipstick and car wax to instant coffee and smartphones.

Click through to read the rest.

Introducing our Desi Dog, Ginger

TLDR: Say hello to the newest member of our family: the beautiful Ginger!

ginger

The backstory:

Last year, about six months after our beloved dog Ashley died, we found ourselves really missing having a pooch in our lives. But we weren’t quite ready to adopt a new one.

ICUC

Anasuya started asking around about organizations here in Delhi that help street dogs, and a friend recommended the Indian Canine Uplipftment Centre, or ICUC.

ICUC

The New Delhi-based organization was founded in 2012 by the charming Sonya Kochhar Apicella, who like all the staff at the center clearly care deeply for dogs. And as anyone who has visited Delhi knows, there are tons of street dogs here.

ICUC is the NGO wing of a boarding, day care and grooming on the same premises called Canine Elite.

(If you’re into helping dogs, do consider getting in touch with or donating funds to ICUC. If you’re here in Delhi and need any dog-related services, consider Canine Elite.)

ICUC_delhi

‘Designed by Darwin’

Often called Desi dogs (Desi roughly meaning “from India,” based on the Hindi word for “country”), these canines typically look like Ginger: medium sized, short haired, and often a shade of brown, with some white marks.

They’re also sometimes referred to as Indi-dogs or “Indian pariah dogs.” (“Pariah” is an ecological term for dogs that typically live on their own, outside homes, untouched by breeding.)

Another name for the creatures is INDogs, short for “Indian Native Dog;” you can find a wealth of information at INDog.co.in, the site for the INDog Project.

The group also maintains a gallery of such canines, and a crowd-sourced document containing reports on the dogs’ temperament.

Desi dogs, some of which have over the years mixed with non-native Indian breeds to varying degrees, often live in neighborhoods here in New Delhi and in other cities, towns, and villages.

Residents typically look after them, feeding them but often not providing medical attention or sterilization. Others dogs roam around more freely. Many have diseases and suffer from various ailments.

I haven’t seen the full version of the documentary, but Desi dogs are reportedly mentioned in a 2003 National Geographic documentary called “Search for the First Dog,” as being one of the world’s oldest types of dogs.

A snippet from the show describes these dogs perfectly: they’re “designed by Darwin.” They are mostly a product of natural selection, not man-made tinkering for looks.

So anyway: Ginger.

On our first ICUC visit, we learned that Sonya and her team had just taken in a litter of ten Desi dog puppies, along with their mother, who had been rescued from a New Delhi intersection.

We decided to play with the pups a bit.

Then this happened.

ginger

Frankly, all the puppies were cute, but this little light brown one – with a white stripe down the middle of her face – struck me as especially lovable. And she was comfortable with people, which I liked, while some of her litter-mates were a bit more skittish.

ginger

We continued visiting the center once or twice a month, often checking in on the litter and spending time playing with some of the dozen or so older dogs living there, which range in age from nearly a year to several years old.

Then around October, one day we showed up to discover that five of the ten puppies…had been adopted!

I rushed into the room where they were being held and found, to my relief, that the cute little yellow puppy was still there.

So that was it: We decided to officially adopt her, signing the papers on November 4.

And as I mentioned, we’ve named her Ginger.

ICUC ginger
The big day.

ginger sleeping
In the car on the way home.

IMG 4085

The first couple of weeks, despite our better judgement, we let her sleep in our bed because it was the only way we could get her to stop whining. Total bed hog. She no longer sleeps in the bed with us.

ginger pen
“Please play with me!”

IMG 4081
An early visit to the vet

IMG 4325
With a favorite toy

IMG 4390
Sleeping on Anasuya

IMG 5504
One of her favorite perches, where she can keep an eye on the gate and police any potential intruders – when she’s not napping, that is.

IMG 4701
In the sun.

ginger lapdog
She weighed about five kilograms – or 11 pounds – when we first adopted here and now, at about eight months, she weighs 16 kg (35 pounds). I think she’ll continue growing a bit more. She seeks out pats a little less now, but still enjoys sitting in our laps from time to time, as you can see above.

Now that she’s getting closer to the one-year mark, we’re also getting a better sense of her grown-up characteristics.

She is a very smart and alert dog, keen to interact with humans and play with toys and fetch balls. She’s also quite athletic and agile.

And she is a great watch dog: She’s plenty defensive of us and our house, but she doesn’t bark an unreasonable amount.

Ginger’s likes include:

  1. Eating bugs
  2. Running in circles in the yard
  3. Playing with other dogs
  4. Biting her leash, turning walks into tug-of-war matches
  5. Policing the kitchen for dropped scraps
  6. Napping

Among her dislikes:

  1. Cats
  2. Tennis racquet-shaped flyswatters
  3. People ringing our doorbell

We love her so much already.

The Emails and Texts That Show How Badly Instagram Wants me Back

 

2018-03-15_instagram

Around February 15 – about month ago – I decided I would delete the Facebook and Instagram apps from my iPhone.

I haven’t quit these services entirely, and at this point don’t immediately intend to (I can still view both via a browser).

But I wanted to take a break given all I’ve been reading lately about how social media apps are engineered to hijack our attention in order to keep serving us ads.  (What about Twitter? I have no plans to abandon the app for now, as its enormously helpful for following the news.)

I’d heard about people receiving plaintive emails and even text messages from these platforms attempting to get them to re-engage. So I figured I’d document my experience here.

While I’ve received some emails from Facebook, Instagram, especially, really seems to want me back. And I’m not even a power user, much less an “influencer.” I have several hundred followers, but less than a thousand.

Anyway, above are the five emails I’ve received from the service since I last opened the app. I also received two text messages, spaced just a few days apart, roughly two weeks into my hiatus:

IMG-5575IMG-5604

Stay tuned. I may update this post as I receive more messages. Assuming Instagram hasn’t given up on me yet…

NN125: Uber-Grab Deal; Alexa Gets Creepy; ‘Sopranos’ Prequel

trees

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, in which I share the best of what I write and the best of what I read.

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a pal, you can sign up here.

What I Wrote in The Wall Street Journal

🚘 — Uber Agrees in Principle to Exit Southeast Asia for Stake in Rival — The story, which I wrote with my colleagues Greg Bensinger and Julie Steinberg, begins:

Uber Technologies Inc. has reached an agreement in principle to sell most of its Southeast Asia operations to local rival Grab Inc., ending a costly fight for market share in the fast-growing region, according to people familiar with the matter.

In exchange for its operations in Southeast Asia, Uber would gain a roughly 30% stake in Grab, these people said. The two companies are still hashing out the final terms of the pact, the people said, cautioning any deal would be subject to regulatory scrutiny. One of the people said Uber’s stake in Grab could wind up being smaller.

5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

🗞️ 1. “Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.” That’s New York Times tech columnist Fahad Manjoo’s Michael Pollan-esque advice. In a much-discussed piece, Manjoo says for two months he disconnected from online news and social media, relying instead on print editions of the Gray Lady, The WSJ, and The Economist. He writes:

It has been life changing. Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins.

The gist: he felt plenty well informed about the world but avoided needless micro-updates, hot takes, fake news and social media toxicity.

(Postscript: Dan Mitchell, writing later at Columbia Journalism Review, quibbled with just how disconnected Manjoo really may have been during the period, given that he was still frequently using Twitter.

“I think it’s clear that I meant I ‘unplugged’ from Twitter as a source of news, not that I didn’t tweet at all,” Manjoo told Mitchell.)

🙄 2. Alexa: super creepy. Some owners of speakers powered by Amazon’s Alexa reported that the devices have been intermittently letting out weird giggles. “We’re aware of this and working to fix it,” Amazon told The Verge’s Shannon Liao. Here’s a video.

(It is no secret that I don’t like these listening devices — sorry, connected home gadgets — one bit.)

🌁 3. Depressing San Francisco story of the week: A shortage of affordable housing due to the tech industry boom means some middle class workers are paying up to $2,400 per month for what are essentially dorm rooms that lack kitchens or bathrooms.

The company building the units, called Starcity, “has already opened three properties with 36 units,” writes Nellie Bowles in the New York Times. “It has nine more in development and a wait list of 8,000 people.”

💬 4. Tool of the week: A great place for finding real quotes, at a time when many dubious ones are floating around online, is Quotenik.com, by writer/editor/researcher Sara Bader. Tagline: “A growing library of verified quotes.” You can search by author and by topic.

🕶️ 5. “The Big Lewbowski” is 20 years old. Charles Bramesco, writing in the New York Times, gives us “10 righteous heirs” to the Coen brothers’ masterpiece: Films released since 1998 that offer bits of Dude-esque stoner humor, film noir, and meta-strangeness.

🔫 Working Title of the Week

“The Many Saints of Newark.”

That’s the tentative title of a “Sopranos” prequel film — yes, you read that right — being produced by David Chase.

The official description, according to the NYT, says it will be “set in the era of the Newark riots in the ’60s, when the African-Americans and the Italians of Newark were at each other’s throats, and when among the gangsters of each group, it became especially lethal.”

There’s no release date yet, but I will certainly be watching this one.

🤡 1 Silly Thing

Bootleg_Daycare is the name of an Instagram account devoted to poorly done replicas of cartoon characters.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

Uber Agrees in Principle to Exit Southeast Asia for Stake in Rival

2018 03 10traffic

That’s the headline of my newest story, which I wrote with my colleagues Greg Bensinger and Julie Steinberg. It ran late Thursday, and begins:

Uber Technologies Inc. has reached an agreement in principle to sell most of its Southeast Asia operations to local rival Grab Inc., ending a costly fight for market share in the fast-growing region, according to people familiar with the matter.

In exchange for its operations in Southeast Asia, Uber would gain a roughly 30% stake in Grab, these people said. The two companies are still hashing out the final terms of the pact, the people said, cautioning any deal would be subject to regulatory scrutiny. One of the people said Uber’s stake in Grab could wind up being smaller.

Uber was spending some $200 million annually to take on Grab and another upstart in the region, GoJek, two of the people said. Go-Jek, a motorcycle-taxi service based in Indonesia, recently raised more than $1 billion in funding from KKR & Co. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., among others.

Click through to read the rest.

Newley’s Notes 124: Uber and SoftBank; How to Neuter your Smartphone; Mr. Rogers Breakdancing

2018 03 06 water

Edition 124 of my email newsletter went out on Sunday.

If you’d like NN delivered to your inbox, simply enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes: The best of what I write. The best of what I read.

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a pal, you can sign up here.

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal

🚗 — Uber Battles Ride-Sharing Startups in SoftBank ‘Family.’ The story, which I wrote with my colleague Mayumi Negishi, went online a few hours ago. It begins:

SoftBank Group Corp., the world’s biggest technology investor, has poured some $20 billion into ride-sharing companies around the globe, including Uber Technologies Inc.

Now, those companies are spending at least some of SoftBank’s money to battle each other.

In Japan, Uber is gearing up to fight China’s Didi Chuxing Technology Co., which is planning to enter the market after an investment by SoftBank of around $10 billion.

In India, Uber is facing off with local champion ANI Technologies Inc.’s Ola, in which SoftBank has about a 30% stake and a board seat. SoftBank invested $7.7 billion in Uber for a 15% stake this year.

Uber and Ola are also grappling in Australia, where Ola started operations in February. Uber in Southeast Asia is trailing Singapore’s Grab Inc., whose president joined from SoftBank in 2016 following its $750 million investment in the company.

Click through to read the rest.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

1. Ding Dong, Amazon’s here. The Seattle titan bought video doorbell startup Ring, as our WSJ story said, in a deal valued at more than $1 billion. Following Amazon’s move into groceries — don’t forget about Whole Foods, after all — it now looks to be strengthening its smart homes business:

The latest deal plays to Amazon’s efforts to control the devices that power smart homes, an area in which it is becoming a dominant player. Certain Ring doorbells and cameras already connect with its virtual assistant, Alexa.

Package theft has become an increasing problem for e-commerce companies as consumers order more online. Amazon has responded with solutions including package lockers and apartment buildings’ package hubs. Late last year, it launched its Cloud Cam security camera combined with its “Amazon Key” product, which allows its delivery drivers to deposit packages into customers’ homes via a smart lock system.

2….And speaking of Amazon, is it being used for money laundering? Patrick Reames, an (actual) author, discovered that someone had apparently been using his name to launder cash, cybersecurity pro Brian Krebs reports:

Reames said he suspects someone has been buying the book using stolen credit and/or debit cards, and pocketing the 60 percent that Amazon gives to authors. At $555 a pop, it would only take approximately 70 sales over three months to rack up the earnings that Amazon said he made.

3. How to make your smartphone less addictive. In this Vox video, Tristan Harris, a former product pro at Google, provides tips for making our devices less like miniature slot machines.

(TLDR: eliminate automated alerts, make the screen less colorful, and only keep genuinely useful apps on your home screen.) For more, check out the essays on Harris’s website.

4. More than half of Americans favor regulating Big Tech. That’s according to new poll from Axios and SurveyMonkey showing the number of citizens who are “‘more concerned'” government will not go far enough to regulate tech” has risen from 40% in November. The big picture:

That’s a seismic shift in the public’s perception of Silicon Valley over a short period of time. It shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but it also reflects a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, as well as the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.

5. Why speeding is so much more dangerous than you think. A fascinating video explanation, using a real world example and some equations, showing why driving at 100 miles per hour, say, is so much more perilous than 70 miles per hour.

🏀 Stat of the week

Over the past 30 days, House of Highlights has done more video views on Instagram (662 million) than the official ESPN (206 million) and SportsCenter (316 million) accounts combined, according to social media analytics company CrowdTangle.

That’s from a Recode story on the insanely popular House of Highlights, an Instagram account where 23-year-old Omar Raja posts NBA videos and commentary.

🕺 1 Silly/Awesome Thing

Mr Rogers breakdancing. In this video from 1985, a 12-year-old named Jermaine Vaughn guides Mr. Rogers. More on the episode is here.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

Uber Battles Ride-Sharing Startups in SoftBank ‘Family’

2018 03 04uber sb

That’s the headline of my newest story, which I wrote with my colleage Mayumi Negishi, out today. It begins:

SoftBank Group Corp., the world’s biggest technology investor, has poured some $20 billion into ride-sharing companies around the globe, including Uber Technologies Inc.

Now, those companies are spending at least some of SoftBank’s money to battle each other.

In Japan, Uber is gearing up to fight China’s Didi Chuxing Technology Co., which is planning to enter the market after an investment by SoftBank of around $10 billion.

In India, Uber is facing off with local champion ANI Technologies Inc.’s Ola, in which SoftBank has about a 30% stake and a board seat. SoftBank invested $7.7 billion in Uber for a 15% stake this year.

Uber and Ola are also grappling in Australia, where Ola started operations in February. Uber in Southeast Asia is trailing Singapore’s Grab Inc., whose president joined from SoftBank in 2016 following its $750 million investment in the company.

Click through to read the rest.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén