Categories
Tech

My Top 10 Favorite Apps

Adapted from an edition of my newsletter, Newley’s Notes, sent November 18, 2020. Image via William Hook on Unsplash

In recent posts I’ve shared my ten favorite email newsletters and my ten favorite podcasts This time…

My Top 10 Favorite Apps

(Note, I’m an iPhone user, and some of these are iOS-only.)

💬 1) WhatsApp – I may use this app more than any other, not just because I need to know how it works for my job, but because it’s hugely useful. Especially for communicating with family and friends internationally.

🎧 2) For podcasts, I like Overcast. It works well, has done for years, and is actively maintained by one, single, meticulous developer, Marco Arment.

🔒 3) 1Password is my password manager of choice.

(What’s that? You’re not using a password manager? Use a password manager! “Remembering dozens of different 14-character passwords isn’t realistic,” my colleague Katie Bindley wrote in 2018. “But coming up with only a few passwords – or just one – and reusing them is a terrible idea from a security standpoint. It might be time to consider a password manager.”)

🎵 4) Brain.fm provides ambient sounds the company says are engineered to help you focus. I use the app (and website, when on a computer) to drown out distractions while I’m working.

(Similarly, I also love the Environments app for groovy soundscapes. These are recordings made by sound recordist Irv Teibel and released as LPs in the 1960s and 1970s. They include sounds of a be-in, an aviary, a “psychologically ultimate seashore,” a cornfield in a summer, and more.)

📖 5) Instapaper is one of several read-it-later services – you activate it and it saves the text of a website or document you’re reading, then you can access it for perusal later. It’s great for long-form articles that you don’t want to read in a browser. People love Pocket, a rival service, but I haven’t tried it because Instapaper has proved reliable for me for years.

☕ 6) Coffee nerd alert: AeroPress Timer is a fun app for brushing up on my favorite brewing method’s various recipes. I prefer the classic recipe (boring, I know!) but sometimes experiment with new ones, like inverted techniques.

🎙 7) For recording interviews, I typically use one of several trusty Olympus recorders I have owned over the years. But just in case that method fails, I’ll often record simultaneously on my phone. For that I use the Otter.ai app app, which provides automatic transcriptions.

🏋️‍♂️ 8) Sadly I have not been in a gym for many months (thanks a lot, pandemic) but for barbell training I found an app called BarCalc that I really like. It provides a simple function: you input the weight plates you have at your disposal, enter the weight you want to put on the bar, and it shows you which plates to use. This is useful when you’re adding odd weight totals to bar.

🗣 9) If you want to know what’s lighting up Twitter, but don’t want to dive into the service itself, check out Nuzzel. You can view the links that people you follow have tweeted the most over the last 4 hours, 8 hours, 24 hours, etc.

📰 10) The Wall Street Journal app – of course! One feature I find indispensable for following stories by my colleagues is the ability to get alerts from the app when their pieces are published. I described how to do that in this Newley.com post – basically, just click the plus sign after an author’s name when you see his or her byline on a story in the app. You’ve done that for my stories, haven’t you?!

What do you think of my picks? Did I miss any of your must-haves? Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter; I’m @Newley.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

Facebook’s WhatsApp Gets Green Light to Expand Mobile Payments in India

That’s the headline on my latest story, out Friday. It begins:

Regulators in India granted Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp permission to expand its digital payments service, a win for the company after a delay of nearly three years in its largest market by users.

The National Payments Corporation of India, or NPCI, said late Thursday that WhatsApp can bring the service to a maximum of 20 million users. That is up from the one million cap that has been in place since the encrypted messaging platform in February 2018 began offering payments via its app in a trial service, the first of its kind.

“I’m excited to share today that WhatsApp has been approved to launch payments across India,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a video provided Friday by the company. The service, which is free, enables users to connect their bank accounts to the app and easily send money to one another, just as if they were sending a typical chat.

Still, WhatsApp remains far from making the functionality available to all of its more than 400 million users in India. The NPCI said WhatsApp can start with a maximum of 20 million users—which would be about 5% of WhatsApp’s total user base in the country.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
Tech

My Ten Favorite Podcasts

Adapted from an edition of my newsletter, Newley’s Notes, sent November 2, 2020. Image via C D-X on Unsplash.

Last week I shared my ten favorite email newsletters.

🎧 Now let’s turn to podcasts. Here are my faves:

💰 1) Conversations with Tyler – academic and author Tyler Cowen talks to extremely smart people. That’s pretty much it. The focus is nominally economics, but you don’t need to be an econ nerd to enjoy it.

😂 2) Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin. The great actor interviews creative types. His 2014 chat with Jerry Seinfeld was incredibly funny.

🎵 3) Desert Island Discs – What music would you bring with you to a desert island? A simple premise, an immensely enjoyable and moving show. Don’t miss Arsenal legend Ian Wright or documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux.

⚽ 4) For soccer news, I like Football Weekly, from The Guardian, featuring a well-informed and (mostly) lovable bunch of journalists…

🧤 5) …and Goalkeepers’ Union – former Watford and Brentford goalkeeper Richard Lee discusses all the week’s top GK news.

📰 6) The Journal – The Wall Street Journal’s daily podcast featuring the biggest stories and interviews with our reporters. (I was on last year talking tech in India, and in July discussing Hong Kong and U.S. tech titans.)

💪 7) The Peter Attia Drive – Longevity-focused physician Peter Attia talks to extremely sharp experts in the fields of medicine, psychology, fitness, sports and more.

📚 8) Asia Matters – my ex-WSJ colleague Andrew Peaple and my ex-Columbia University classmate Vincent Ni talk to journalists, academics, and others about news and politics throughout the region. (I joined last year to talk about India, China, and tech.)

🎸 9) Bob Dylan: Album By Album – here’s an unconventional one. Ben Burrell discusses the musical genius’s records, one by one.

🔨 10) Cool Tools: Renowned author and technologist Kevin Kelley and tech editor Mark Frauenfelder interview guests about the tools they find indispensable.

What do you think of my picks? Leave a comment or find me on Twitter; I’m @Newley.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

Facebook’s Top Public Policy Executive in India Steps Down

That’s the headline on my newest story, out Tuesday. It begins:

A Facebook Inc. executive in India who was at the center of a political storm over the company’s policy on anti-Muslim hate speech on the platform is leaving her position Tuesday, the social-media giant said.

Ankhi Das, Facebook’s top public-policy executive in its biggest market by users, said in an internal post provided by the company that she had decided to step down to pursue her interest in public service.

The Wall Street Journal reported in August that Ms. Das had opposed applying Facebook’s hate-speech rules to a politician from the ruling Hindu nationalist party, along with at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence, according to current and former employees.

Following the article’s publication, Indian lawmakers questioned Facebook officials, while the company’s staff pushed internally for a review of how it handles problematic content.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
Tech

My 10 Favorite Email Newsletters

Adapted from an edition of my newsletter, Newley’s Notes, sent October 25, 2020. Image via Onlineprinters on Unsplash.

Email newsletters, as I’ve mentioned before, are a fantastic tool for keeping track of fast-breaking news — and man, has there been a lot of that recently — and being exposed to big ideas.

Here are ten of my favorites.

I like that most of these provide an individual’s voice, an interesting perspective, and highlight material I wouldn’t otherwise see:

📱 1) Benedict Evansweekly newsletter is a must-read if you care about tech. A longtime VC at famed Silicon Valley firm Andreessen Horowitz, he has deep knowledge of the history of tech and business; I appreciate his macro-level views especially.

🗯 2) Another excellent tech-focused newsletter is Azeem Azhar’s Exponential View. Tagline: a “weekly guide to the future.”

💻 3) On Tech, by the New York Times’s Shira Ovide, is a daily dispatch on technology happenings, ranging from tech’s collision with business and politics to cultural issues. A bonus: she concludes each email an item labeled “hugs to this” – a link to something special, often related to animal hi-jinx.

📕 4) One of my favorite websites all of time is Five Books. Academics, authors, and other experts in their fields recommend the five best books on particular topics. Brilliant, simple, and hugely useful. Their newsletter provides their most recent posts.

📖 5) Anne Trubek, author and founder of Cleveland-based independent publisher Belt Publishing, writes a newsletter called Notes from a Small Press. It’s full of details on the history of publishing and what it’s like to be a book publisher in 2020. (Longtime readers may recall that my first job out of college was working as an editorial assistant at Random House, and I remain interested in book publishing.)

✏️ 6) Longform.org’s newsletter provides a summation of all the best long-form writing from the past week.

🗞 7) Matt Thomas’s Sunday New York Times Digest is just that: links to must-reads from each edition of the traditionally massive Sunday paper.

☔ 8) Lee Lefever, a digital business guru, is documenting in his newsletter Ready for Rain his move from Seattle to Orcas Island, where he and his wife are building a house. It’s full of meditations on lifestyle, tech, and, of course, homebuilding.

🥼 9) Peter Attia is a physician who focuses on topics such as longevity, nutrition, and athletic performance. His newsletter contains his most recent blog posts and alerts when a new episode of his (excellent) podcast is out.

🎨 10) …and last but not least, I got the idea for this week’s Newley’s Notes from artist and writer Austin Kleon, who did the same in this week’s edition of his newsletter, which is all about art, literature, music, and creativity. Since he wrote a popular book called “Steal Like an Artist,” I figured it was fitting to draw inspiration from him. 🙂

What did I miss? What are some of your favorites? Leave a comment or share this post on Twitter; I’m @Newley.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

Facebook, Under Pressure in India, Bans Politician for Hate Speech

That’s the headline on our newest story, out Thursday. It begins:

Facebook Inc. banned a member of India’s ruling party for violating its policies against hate speech, amid a growing political storm over its handling of extremist content on its platform.

The removal of the politician, T. Raja Singh, is an about-face for the company and one that will be politically tricky in India, its biggest market by number of users.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Facebook’s head of public policy in the country, Ankhi Das, had opposed banning Mr. Singh under Facebook’s “dangerous individual” prohibitions. In communications to Facebook staffers, she said punishing violations by politicians from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party could hurt the company’s business interests in the country.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
Hong Kong Journalism Newley's Notes Tech

NN226: Scoop — WhatsApp, Tech Giants Stand Firm in Hong Kong

Sent as an email newsletter (sign up here) Thurs., July 9.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

This week’s NN is late. I’d meant to send it Monday evening, but then this happened. See image above.

🚨 I got the exclusive that WhatsApp – quickly followed by Facebook, then Twitter and Google – was suspending its processing of requests for user data from Hong Kong.

WhatsApp and its tech peers were prompted to do so by China’s imposition here in the city of a wide-ranging new national security law.

I’m proud to say we had the news for our subscribers before anyone else, and it was followed by outlets around the world.

🗞 The story also ran on the front page of Tuesday’s WSJ:

🎧 I was on our The Journal podcast to talk about the story (listen here), and I was also on our Tech News Briefing show (listen here).

The Journal podcast

For more on China, Hong Kong, and the new law, read on…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🇨🇳 1) What’s Hong Kong’s new national security law all about? “Experts say its provisions fundamentally alter the legal landscape in Hong Kong, carving out space within the city’s Western-style rule-of-law system for mainland Chinese methods of enforcing Communist Party control,” my colleague Chun Han Wong reports.

⏲️ 2) Things are happening fast here in HK, my colleague Dan Strumpf wrote in a story out Wednesday about the inauguration of a new home for China’s security agents:

“First the construction signs went up, then a flagpole appeared and police officers started to swarm the streets. Within hours, a skyscraper hotel in a cozy neighborhood of bars, apartments and boutiques was transformed into something new: the headquarters of Beijing’s powerful new security agency for the city.”

🧙‍♂️ 3) And in non-China/Hong Kong news: “How J. K. Rowling Became Voldemort”:

“Younger Millennials – those born around 1990, the same time as Harry Potter’s lead actors Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson – feel just as strongly about transgender rights. To many of them, it is the social-justice cause, their generation’s revolutionary idea.”

✍️ 4) “In an era that fetishizes form,” Joyce Carol Oates “has become America’s preëminent fiction writer by doing everything you’re not supposed to do.”

🚷 5) A Japanese city has passed a draft ordinance aimed at stopping people from using their smartphones while walking.

💬 6) Social media first brought about “context collapse” (people talk to everyone all at once, rather than distinct people or groups), and now, writes Nicolas Carr, it has created something more serious: “content collapse.” “A presidential candidate’s policy announcement is given equal weight to a snapshot of your niece’s hamster and a video of the latest Kardashian contouring,” he says.

⏳ 7) Shot: “Back to the Future” was released 35 years ago last week. Here are 30 facts about the great film, one of which – you’re telling me they started filming with Eric Stoltz instead of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly?! – I find mind-blowing.

🎹 8) Chaser: The Nostalgia Machine is a website where you enter a year, click a button, and jam to some sweet tunes from yesteryear.

✏️ 9) Gary Larson, creator of “The Far Side,” has started cartooning again (this time on a tablet).

🐶 10) Dog-related video of the week: You rang? (Thanks, Anasuya!)

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“If your choices are beautiful, so too will you be.” – Epictetus

•••

🤗 What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of adorably attentive pups.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Hong Kong Journalism Tech

Facebook, Twitter, Google Face Free-Speech Test in Hong Kong

That’s the headline on my newest story, with my colleague Eva Xiao, out Friday. It begins:

U.S. technology titans face a looming test of their free-speech credentials in Hong Kong as China’s new national-security law for the city demands local authorities take measures to supervise and regulate its uncensored internet.

Facebook Inc. and its Instagram service, Twitter Inc. and YouTube, a unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, operate freely in the city even as they have been shut out or opted out of the mainland’s tightly controlled internet, which uses the “Great Firewall” to censor information.

In Hong Kong many citizens have grown accustomed to freely using their accounts to speak out on political matters, voice support for antigovernment protests, and register their anger at China’s increasing sway over the city.

Now the U.S. tech companies face a high-wire act, analysts say, if authorities here ask them to delete user accounts or their content. Refusal could invite Beijing’s scrutiny and potentially put them at risk of legal action under the new national-security law. Complying would alienate longtime users in the city, some of whom continue to speak out on their platforms, and leave the companies open to criticism from politicians in the U.S. or U.K.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
Journalism Tech

India Ban Disrupts TikTok Users and China’s Digital Ambitions

That’s the headline on my newest story, our Tuesday, with my colleague Liza Lin. It begins:

India’s decision to ban dozens of Chinese apps is a big setback for China’s top tech firms trying to replicate their remarkable domestic success globally, as they are now stymied in what many consider the world’s last great untapped digital market.

India would block new downloads and prevent or disrupt access for existing Indian users of 59 Chinese apps in a matter of days, a government official who is familiar with the matter said Tuesday. “We have already asked Google and Apple to take note of the government’s latest decision and remove the apps,” the official said, “They are in the process of executing the ban.”

The official, who declined to be named, also said authorities are working with internet service providers to block access for existing app users.

Among the apps are Bytedance Ltd.’s wildly popular TikTok—which has been downloaded 660 million times in India, the company’s largest market by users outside China—along with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s UC Browser and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging platform. Some TikTok users in India have started to receive error messages and are unable to access the video app, according to checks by The Wall Street Journal.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

Facebook Takes $5.7 Billion Stake in India’s Jio Platforms

That’s the headline on my most recent story, out Wednesday with my colleague Jeff Horwitz. It begins:

Facebook Inc. said it would pay $5.7 billion for just under 10% of Indian telecom operator Jio Platforms Ltd., a massive expansion of the social media giant’s commitment to a promising market where it has faced difficulties.

The deal, unveiled late Tuesday, is Facebook’s largest overseas investment and gives it the opportunity to bring its WhatsApp messaging service—which has more than 400 million users in India—into closer partnership with the mobile operator that upended India’s telecommunications industry with cut-rate data plans.

Jio Platforms Ltd. and its subsidiary, mobile operator Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., are part of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. Jio Infocomm provides services to about 388 million customers.

The deal shows how Facebook, like other tech giants, is pushing ahead and taking advantage of its relative strength during a pandemic that is causing most other industries to retreat.

In a subsequent story, I looked a little closer at the who gets what out of the deal. The lede:

Facebook Inc.’s $5.7 billion tie-up with an Indian mobile leader could create a new kind of animal in the world’s biggest untapped digital market: a social media behemoth wedded to a mobile infrastructure titan—both coveting e-commerce.

Now the two companies are expected to square off against some formidable online shopping rivals: Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc., which have each invested billions in the South Asian market.