Author Archive | Newley

Fun Friday, Enormous Rabbit Edition

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Atlas, pictured above, is a continental giant rabbit currently living with the Scottish SPCA in Glasgow.

He is only seven months old, and is in search of a home.

Prospective owners should be aware that Atlas may grow up to four feet in length and weigh nearly 50 pounds.

Of course, while Atlas is big, he is not yet Darius-big.

Is there anything better in the world than huge, juvenile rabbits?

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In This Week’s Newsletter: Silly Vampires Mocumentary; Dogs’ Souls; a Master Imposter and More

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


Hi friends,

Happy Year of the Monkey! The Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year) is officially upon us here in Singapore.

It’s a public holiday and everything’s shut down; offices and schools are closed today and tomorrow. All around our neighborhood in central Singapore, red and gold decorations are hung from buildings, and the occasional sounds of lion dances can be heard.

On to the update.

What I wrote at Newley.com:

The 10 Must-Have Apps I Install on Every New Mac — The item begins:

Following my recent post about what’s on my iPhone home screen at the beginning of 2016, I decided to do the same for my must-have Mac apps.

I consider these apps requirements when setting up any new machine — essentially, I feel that I need them to use the computer effectively.

Hopefully this will give others who are looking for new or useful apps some ideas.

What am I missing here? Let me know via email (n@newley.com) or Twitter (@newley).

Five items that are worth your time this week:

1. Remember the story not long ago about Amazon’s first-ever physical book shop in Seattle? It looks like the online retailing titan might be planning to open as many as 400 in the U.S.

2. “What We Do in the Shadows” is a very silly mockumentary about vampires.

3. Here are some portraits of dogs and cats purporting to show a little bit of their souls. I’m not a big believer in souls (period), but these images do seem to suggest there’s something going on in the minds of dogs. Cats? Maybe not so much. Here’s more about the images, by photographer Robert Bahou.

4. This amazing website allows you to enter a search term and find screencaps using subtitles from “Simpsons” episodes.

5. Quote of the week, from a fascinating New York Times story on “professional imposter” Jeremy Wilson:

“He has portrayed himself as a Scottish-born D.J., a Cambridge-trained thespian, a Special Forces officer and a professor at M.I.T. He has posed as executives from Microsoft, British Airways and Apple, always with a military background. He pretended to be a soldier seeking asylum in Canada to escape anti-Semitic attacks in the United States. He once maintained an Irish accent so well and for so long that his cellmate in an Indiana jail was convinced that he was an Irish mobster.”

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

* Administrative note: I mistakenly labeled last week’s dispatch number 44, when it should have been 43. So this is one is rightly called number 44.

Have a great week!

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here. And here’s the archive of past dispatches.

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The 10 Must-Have Apps I Install on Every New Mac

Following my recent post about what’s on my iPhone home screen at the beginning of 2016, I decided to do the same for my must-have Mac apps.

I consider these apps requirements when setting up any new machine — essentially, I feel that I need them to use the computer effectively.

Hopefully this will give others who are looking for new or useful apps some ideas.

1. 1Password

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1Password — my password manager of choice for many years. (This one’s also on my iPhone home screen, you’ll recall.)

Strong passwords, of course, are key to protecting yourself online. You should use a different, complex password for every important account. This can be hard, though, if you’re trying to store all this info on your head.

With a password manager like 1Password, you can remember just one strong password, which you use to open the app. Then you can automatically generate ridiculously strong passwords for every account you have within the app, and access those on the fly, no matter which device you’re using.

2. Dropbox

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Dropbox — Confession time: I once ruined a one-month-old MacBook Air by spilling a full bottle of Stella Artois beer directly on the keyboard.

It’s a long story. But, BUT! I had saved all of my important documents, images and other files in Dropbox, so I lost nothing — except money and my pride, that is.

Dropbox lets you stores your files in the cloud, so that they’re accessible on various devices.

For example, I’ve long kept many of my basic lists in plain text files, and use Dropbox to keep them synced across my Mac, my iPhone, and my work machine.

3. Chrome

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Chrome for Mac — I was a loyal users of Apple’s browser, Safari, for many years. But a while back I switched over to Chrome, which, in my experience, is faster and more reliable, even though Safari looks prettier and is obviously built for the Mac.

One caveat: Some say Chrome is more resource-intensive than Safari, meaning it will drain your battery faster.

4. TextExpander

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TextExpander — this app, which I’ve been using for many years, lets you use abbreviations for frequently used bits of text.

For example, if I type “eemail,” the app will instantly insert my personal email address. If I type “eeemail,” it will insert my work email. If I type “ddate,” it will insert “February 8, 2016,” etc.

I also have so-called snippets set up for my home and office addresses, various email signatures, and much more. It’s the kind of tool that is totally indespensible.

5. PDFpen

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PDFpen — let’s get this out of the way: at $74.95, this is not a cheap app. But the ability to manipulate PDFs by typing and writing on, and signing them, is nearly magical, and makes the app well worth the price.

I’ve used PDFPen, which is made by the same folks behind TextExpander, to fill out and send back any number of forms, applications and the like.

Forget about printing out and manipulating physical documents — you can do it all digitally with PDF Pen.

6. Evernote

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Evernote — Somewhat sadly, I hardly ever use what had been my go-to writing app since 2007: Scrivener.

I used Scrivener to write my graduate school thesis, composed hundreds of stories on it, and even used it to tackle Nanowrimo many moons ago.

The problem: While it’s great if you only ever use on computer, it’s not so great if you want to be able to work on the same documents across machines or devices. (The company behind the product has been saying for some time that they’re working on an iOS version.)

So I’ve increasingly been using Evernote — it’s designed not as a word processor, but as a catch-all for tons of different digital material, from text and images to audio and more. But you can certainly use it for writing.

7. TweetDeck

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Tweetdeck — the best way to access Twitter on your Mac. I have several columns set up so that I can access my various Twitter lists — accounts I don’t want to miss, fellow WSJ folks, notifications when people respond to or like my tweets or stories, and more.

Note that Twitter recently released a new version of its Mac app, but I’m sticking with Tweetdeck for now.

8. Spotify

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Rdio was my streaming music choice for several years, but when it shut down last year, I switched to Spotify.

I like it a lot — especially the excellent Discover Weekly feature, in which the service automatically generates a playlist of new music for you based on your listening habits.

I mostly use Spotify on my iPhone, but the app also works well on the Mac.

9. Caffeine

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Caffeine — this tiny little app does one thing and does it well: it keeps your Mac from going to sleep.

The app lives in your menu bar, and you can simply click it to keep your machine awake if you’ll be away from it from an extended amount of time, or don’t wait it to dim or go to sleep when you’re watching a movie, for example.

  • Cost: free
  • For more and #Protips: that’s all you need to know — it simply keeps your Mac awake!

10. Noizio

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Noizio — like Caffeine, this is a small app that lives in your menu bar and has a singular task: to provide background noise.

If I’m being distracted by various sounds when I’m working on my Mac, I simply throw my headphones on and choose one of Noizio’s ambient sounds — I especially like “Paris Cafe” — and work away.

  • Cost: Free.
  • For more and #Protips: that’s all you need to know — it simply provides background noise!

 

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Fun Friday Link: Video of ‘Zebra’ Escape in Tokyo

Embedded above and on YouTube here: Workers at a zoo in Tokyo this week held a biannual drill to prepare for a potential zebra escape.

Playing the part of the escapee: a zookeeper in a zebra costume. My favorite part is when the creature is “shot,” presumably by a tranquilizer gun, and falls slowly to the ground.

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Newley’s Notes 44: GrabTaxi —> Grab; Your Purpose in Life; ‘Gilmore Girls’; Taco Literacy

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

 

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people ever unsubscribe!

 

————

 

Hi friends, 

 

It’s earnings season, and various tech companies have been releasing their quarterly results in recent days. 

 

Google parent company Alphabet had a huge quarter, with the stock popping, pushing the firm past Apple as the world’s most valuable public company, at least for now. 

 

Amazon, meanwhile, posted its biggest quarterly profit yet — but the stock fell, with sales falling short of expectations

 

Stat of the week: messaging app WhatsApp now has one billion users. That means one in every seven people on the face of the planet uses the platform. Astounding when you consider something like half of the globe is still not connected to the web. 

 

On to the update. 

 

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

 

Why Southeast Asia’s GrabTaxi Is Removing ‘Taxi’ From Its Name. Uber’s main rival in the region wants to communicate that it offers services like private car rides, not just taxi booking.  

 

What I wrote at Newley.com:

 

5 Questions That Will Help You Figure Out Your Purpose in Life — A look at an interesting YouTube video, and a book recommendation. 

 

Five items that are worth your time this week:

 

1. If you are lucky enough to be a student at the University of Kentucky, you can now take a class called “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South.” 

 

Per the syllabus, required reading includes “Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food,” “Tacopedia,” and “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.” Here’s an interview with the professor, Steven Alvarez.  

 

2. How did monkeys get across the Atlantic, way back when, from Africa to South America

 

3. Huge news for fans — ahem, Anasuya — of “Gilmore Girls.” The series is officially returning — to Neflix, no less — with the original stars and creator. 

 

4. The new Apple TV is excellent for many reasons, chiefly among them the integration of Siri, which allows you to search for shows or movies by voice, rather than by typing. But there are also some cool apps; here are a few

 

5. Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, perhaps the world’s best manager, is leaving Bayern Munich for Manchester City. Man City have big money, big ambitions, and now a seriously big time, big name coach. Are they a dynasty in the making

 

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links. 

 

Have a great week!

— @Newley

  

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here. And here’s the archive of past dispatches

  

Newley.com | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


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By Me Last Week: GrabTaxi Is Becoming Grab

2016 02 01 grab

The story begins:

Uber Technologies Inc.’s main rival in Southeast Asia wants people to know that it—like the San Francisco, Calif. startup—offers not just taxis, but private cars.

Singapore-based GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. said Thursday it is shortening its name to simply Grab. The goal: to highlight that in addition to allowing users to book taxis in 28 cities across Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, it also offers newer services like private cars—not to mention car pooling and even motorbike rides.

The re-branding comes as competition heats up for new users in the populous region. The U.S.’s Lyft Inc. in December said it was teaming up with GrabTaxi — er, make that Grab — and ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.’s Ola in India to permit users of each app to hail rides from drivers of the other apps while traveling abroad. That gives the alliance more leverage to compete against Uber, a global titan that has expanded its ride sharing platform, which includes private cars and taxis in some markets, to more than 370 cities across 68 countries since launching in the U.S. in 2010.

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5 Questions That Will Help You Figure Out Your Purpose in Life

I came across this video, embedded above and on YouTube here, and wanted to share it.

But first, a caveat: I belive that “follow your passion” — or worse yet, follow your bliss — is often terrible advice for life and careers.

What if following your passion provides no value to the world? Or if doesn’t make you enough money to support yourself? Or what if you’re just not very good at your passion? Or, like many people, you just don’t really have a single passion?

For an alternative take on such issues, I suggest reading a book by Cal Newport called “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.”

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, on to the video.

In this ten-minute TEDxMalibu talk from 2013, movie producer Adam Leipzig says five questions can help you define your life purpose — provided, of course, that you know what you’re good at, why it’s valuable, and who you do it for.

They are:

  1. Who are you? 
  2. What do you do?
  3. Who do you do it for?
  4. What do they want or need?
  5. How do they feel as a result? 

This is a really helpful way, as Leipzig explains, to envision your professional output in terms of who your audience is (or who your clients, or users, or readers, etc. are) and how you can help them.

In a post on Leipzig’s blog, he explains how these questions came to be, and why they matter, especially to creative professionals:

For my talk, I decided to adapt a series of questions I’d developed in my business consulting practice, when I work with companies finding their way and developing new products and services. For these companies, the challenge is to get out of their self-enclosed bubble and reach out to their market. Would the same approach work for creative entrepreneurs? Because artists need such congruence between their life purpose and their work, they can become too inward-facing, more focused on their own process than on their audience, and audience that hungers for brilliance, passion and the sublime.

This is, I think, a really useful mental framework.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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