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Announcing support for App.net

Announcing support for App.net – Last week we posted our concerns regarding the future of Twitter integration in Ost, and put out a feeler for interest in App.net.

The response has been clear: early App.net users are looking for a sophisticated client, preferably one that can also handle Twitter data.

Today, after a Sunday morning hack session and a couple days of testing with early users, we’re pleased to announce support for App.net on Ost.

App.net joins Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox and Instapaper in our list of services, which means you can view App.net feeds alongside your other cloud data in a clean, readable interface.

We will do our best to comply with Twitter’s new guidelines over the next few months.

In general we’re excited about the potential of bringing your streams of data together, wherever they might originate.

App.net is compelling to us because it’s so open ended; its potential is just starting to be explored.

We’re still in private beta, but we’re working through our invite queue steadily.

If you email us and mention App.net we’ll turn the invite around within a day.…

From Free to Good to Best

From Free to Good to Best – I own two chef’s knives that I’ve prepped with for years.

They’re OK: an Ikea blade and a low-end J.A. Henckles blade. So I’ve spent hundreds of hours working with mediocre tools.

I do this because I’m in the middle of a slow progression from free to good to best, designed to prevent me from valuing tools more than technique.

I’ve blown it before, buying a bunch of music equipment before acquiring the skill to justify it, for example.

And not infrequently I encounter the girl who has the best tennis racket but can’t play, or the guy who has the best knives but can’t cook.

So I think: Borrow a racket from the club. Build skill and understanding.

Start free and explore tennis in imperfect conditions. Do I still love it after months of practice?

Buy some OK equipment. Keep building. Do I still love it after years of practice? Buy the best equipment.

By the time I have the best tools, I can use my skill and understanding to appreciate their intrinsic value.

The difference between good and best is subtle and requires sophistication in the user commensurate with the sophistication of the tool.

At the start I can’t appreciate the best tools and they just mistakenly signify skill in me.

In entrepreneurship it may be more gratifying in the short term to acquire the signifiers of success or to take oneself hostage with pricey tools.

(“If I buy this domain and reserve this EC2 instance for a year I’ll have no choice but to finish the project!”)

Instead I’ve learned: put in the work, build skill, and if I’m going to fail, I’ll fail free.…

Ost to Ost

Ost to Ost – About a month ago the owner of a trademark on the name State contacted us.

We had to change our name.

Concurrently we were dealing with an existential threat: that Twitter might classify our product as a client and thus limit our access to their data.

What followed was a month of upheaval.

Galen moved from Brooklyn to San Francisco and I set about reworking our client-side code to enable us to add features and services more quickly and to scale gracefully across devices.

Both of us worked on our naming and Twitter challenges.

Now I’m happy to report that we’ve resolved both of these challenges and I’d like to talk about how our product will change as a result.

First, our product is now named Ost and you can find us at useost.com and @useost on App.net and Twitter.

Ost sprung from playing around with acronyms related to what we aspire to help people do: organize, share, and transfer their data in the cloud.

The connotation I enjoy most is from prost in German, meaning “cheers!”

Second, thanks to a helpful introduction from Nick Chirls, we’ve been in touch with Twitter’s developer relations team to find a way for Ost to continue using Twitter data.

To that end we’re making some changes to how Ost displays tweets.

One minor change is to comply with Twitter’s Display Requirements which will cause the tweets you see in Ost to behave similarly to those you see elsewhere, though we will continue to provide unique features like link previews.

More significantly, we’re removing the Home Timeline resource from Ost as Twitter considers it duplicative of the core Twitter product.

We think this presents an interesting challenge, and we’re excited to tackle it.

We’ll be pushing the Display Requirement change in the next couple weeks along with the client-side reworking.

We’ll remove the Home Timeline resource when we transition to Twitter’s new 1.1 API in a couple months.

To mitigate the impact of losing the Home Timeline we are working on some new features based on Twitter Lists (a powerful feature that is deemphasized in the first party clients) that we think you will enjoy.

Coming out of a month where our future felt uncertain at times, I’m thrilled to be working with a new name, a new codebase, and a clear road ahead.

We’re striving to build something great for our users and we value your support throughout the process.…

You Can Only Go Home Again

You Can Only Go Home Again – Whenever I travel I have the same thought. I should live here.

Most people stay put. So it’s romantic — to be an out-of-towner or an expat — and difficult. But how does one succeed at being foreign?

It can’t be by assimilating. Assimilating is difficult, but you’re just matching existing norms.

And if you do a bad job of it you subjugate the better parts of your cultural identity to the lesser parts of the new.

It can’t be through otherness.

That’s what you are in the first place, and being “the guy from California” encourages others to engage with you as a stereotype rather than as an individual.

Nevertheless, from desperate and earnest New Delhi to seductive and disingenuous St. Thomas, I’ve felt the pull to become foreign.

And driving around the US from San Diego to New Orleans to D.C. to Rapid City to Portland and places in between, I think yeah, I should live here.

I’m polyamorous with place.

Perhaps it’s because life’s journey varies from city to city and culture to culture in fascinating ways.

Success itself, though, seems the same everywhere.

Assimilation and otherness are distractions.

No matter where you are you have to grow personal relationships and create something valuable.

When it comes to accomplishment, you can only go home again.…

Apple should acquire Tesla

Apple should acquire Tesla – Apple is in search of its next big market. While it can continue to grow by maintaining share in smartphones and cannibalizing PCs with the iPad in the near term, those markets will saturate and no longer support the exponential growth Apple has enjoyed over the past decade.

Televisions are an obvious extension of Apple’s expertise in building computing devices that work well with media and apps, but the entire television market is only $30 billion a year.

Even if Apple captured all of it the resulting growth would be incremental.

In contrast the global automotive market is worth over $2 trillion a year, and capturing a few percent could significantly impact Apple’s top line.

Further, the two technological shifts facing the automobile industry play to Apple’s interests and strengths.

Storing a large amount of energy safely in the smallest and lightest battery is the fundamental challenge in building an electric vehicle, just as it is in building a smartphone or tablet.

Similar lithium-ion battery technology underlies both smartphones and the best electric cars at present, and despite the difference in scale one might expect that innovations in energy storage for automobiles might trickle over to smaller devices and vice-versa.

Autonomous vehicles are robots controlled by artificial intelligence software. In practice they will require an interface between pilot and AI.

Natural language processing will be key to such a system where the pilot occasionally has his or her hands on the wheel.

I look forward to asking Siri, “Check how the Giants are doing, but only if it won’t distract you while you’re driving.” I’m sure she’ll have a snarky reply.

Viewed conventionally the automobile industry looks like a bag of hurt: complicated supply chains, byzantine labor contracts, restrictive dealership agreements, and incomprehensible product lines.

But Tesla is challenging all of that by building a vertically integrated automobile company next door to Apple in California.

The thorn currently in Tesla’s side is operations and manufacturing. Enter Tim Cook.

To take a longer view: the only worldwide market bigger than automobiles is energy.

Renewable sources of energy are distinct from traditional sources such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear in that their output fluctuates with the sun, wind, and waves.

Thus efficiently storing energy is a core requirement of fully leveraging renewables.

The leap from storing energy in small computers to storing energy for a home or wind farm is long;

the leap from storing energy in automobiles… I bet Apple and Tesla could make it.…