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InfoGif compares ages of the Abrams cast to the Star Trek originals

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InfoGif compares ages of the Abrams cast to the Star Trek originals

Curious about the age differences between competing Star Trek casts? Thanks to Bonnef's Tumblr we now have Star Trek InfoGifs, that show us the various ages of the cast whilst on stuck in a smirk, gulp or smile loop. It's actually pretty cute — plus they made one for the height comparison as well.

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smithee
3299 days ago
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Unknowable

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Each year, the race to get a ticket for WWDC is on. Even with early warning, the window of ticket availability shrinks with every passing year. 2013 being no different: 2 minutes.

Capping the number of tickets is a classic Apple move: we're going to create a sense of exclusivity by creating an artificial constraint. Moscone Center is huge. Apple could blink and triple the size of the event, but I can't think of the last time the ticket ceiling at WWDC went up. 5000 attendees - that's it.

WWDC is a great event. I've been going for years without a ticket and I still have amazing nights spending time with dear friends debating the state of Apple. Logic would dictate that increasing the number of tickets would increase the "product": the army of foaming-at-the-mouth fanboys'n'girls who, I believe, are one of the best (and cheapest?) organic marketing assets in the industry.

Nope. 5000. That's it.

This type of constraint reeks of Steve Jobs. The rumor at Apple was that Steve capped many of the teams in Cupertino. Mac OS X and Marketing Communications being two successful teams that had their headcount capped. During the 2000s, while Apple was gaining traction across the planet, the team responsible for getting the word out, Marketing Communications ("MarCom"), was allegedly capped at 100 heads. The reasoning I heard was that Steve wanted to keep the teams feeling small, but, more importantly, I think he wanted to keep them knowable.

Of course, with the amount of work they had to produce supporting WWDCs, MacWorlds, product launches, and all the other advertising, they relied on expensive external vendors to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. While back in Cupertino, the 100 represented a small, well-understood group where I believe Steve could not only easily understand every single story being told by Apple, but, more importantly, the 100 could know each other.

When you talk about change or optimum team sizes, Dunbar's number is usually thrown down as scientific evidence of something you already know in your bones. Shit gets weird somewhere between 100 and 200 people. You can no longer keep the individual state of each of the other people in your team or company in your head. Which means communication becomes more taxing. Rather than walking up to Fred and saying, "What's up?" you cautiously walk up to a person you don't know and sheepishly ask, "Yeah... who are you?"

What was easy becomes hard. What used to be maintained in your head now involves an extra email or an additional meeting. What was familiar becomes unfamiliar and frustrating. Culture is diluted, communication becomes taxed, and people start saying, "I remember when..."

Capping the headcount of a team necessary to shaping the story of an increasingly successful company seems counter-intuitive. We're doing well, we should invest more. This type of thinking puts a big discount on the taxes associated with rapid team growth with, in my opinion, being able to easily discern what is going on in a team of people being number one.

Apple's MarCom department being capped at 100 achieved two very different objectives. First, it made the work the team was doing knowable - you could discern who was doing what because there just weren't that many full-time people. This allowed for dictatorial control that has given Apple clear and consistently messaging. Second, the constraint meant that every single person counted. While I never worked on the team, I'm certain they were much quicker in dealing with low performers because you could still discern the difference one additional high performing person would make. While this could certainly be viewed as a constant threat of being fired, it could also make for a high performing team.

The effects of capping WWDC tickets are different because you're talking about a larger population, but some of the effects are the same. Each year, WWDC is held in Moscone West. You know that the big Apple logo will be emblazoned on the side of the building. You know the names of the conference rooms, you know where the snacks will be. But, for me, I know who will be there. I end up in the same bars with the same dear friends and we get foamy at the mouth about Apple because we feel like we know it.

The cap on WWDC tickets means it won't go the way of SXSW - a wildly successful conference that has grown consistently since its inception. I used to go every year until one late night we looked around a huge sea of strangers and decided that we no longer knew this conference. The experience had become diluted. It had become unfamiliar, full of strangers, and unknowable.

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smithee
3359 days ago
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The $12 Gongkai Phone

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How cheap can you make a phone?

Recently, I paid $12 at Mingtong Digital Mall for a complete phone, featuring quad-band GSM, Bluetooth, MP3 playback, and an OLED display plus keypad for the UI. Simple, but functional; nothing compared to a smartphone, but useful if you’re going out and worried about getting your primary phone wet or stolen.

Also, it would certainly find an appreciative audience in impoverished and developing nations.


$12 is the price paid for a single quantity retail, contract-free, non-promotional, unlocked phone — in a box with charger, protective silicone sleeve, and cable. In other words, the production cost of this phone is somewhere below the retail price of $12. Rumors place it below $10.

This is a really amazing price point. That’s about the price of a large Domino’s cheese pizza, or a decent glass of wine in a restaurant. Or, compared to an Arduino Uno (admittedly a little unfair, but humor me):

Spec This phone Arduino Uno
Price $12 $29
CPU speed 260 MHz, 32-bit 16 MHz, 8-bit
RAM 8MiB 2.5kiB
Interfaces USB, microSD, SIM USB
Wireless Quadband GSM, Bluetooth -
Power Li-Poly battery, includes adapter External, no adapter
Display Two-color OLED -

How is this possible? I don’t have the answers, but it’s something I’m trying to learn. A teardown yields a few hints.


First, there are no screws. The whole case snaps together.

Also, there are (almost) no connectors on the inside. Everything from the display to the battery is soldered directly to the board; for shipping and storage, you get to flip a switch to hard-disconnect the battery. And, as best as I can tell, the battery also has no secondary protection circuit.

The Bluetooth antenna is nothing more than a small length of wire, seen on the lower left below.

Still, the phone features accoutrements such as a back-lit keypad and decorative lights around the edge.

The electronics consists of just two major ICs: the Mediatek MT6250DA, and a Vanchip VC5276. Of course, with price competition like this, Western firms are suing to protect ground: Vanchip is in a bit of a legal tussle with RF Micro, and Mediatek has also been subject to a few lawsuits of its own.

The MT6250 is rumored to sell in volume for under $2. I was able to anecdotally confirm the price by buying a couple of pieces on cut-tape from a retail broker for about $2.10 each. [No, I will not broker these chips or this phone for you...]



That beats the best price I’ve ever been able to get on an ATMega of the types used in an Arduino.

Of course, you can’t just call up Mediatek and buy these; and it’s extremely difficult to engage with them “going through the front door” to do a design. Don’t even bother; they won’t return your calls.

However, if you know a bit of Chinese, and know the right websites to go to, you can download schematics, board layouts, and software utilities for something rather very similar to this phone…”for free”. I could, in theory, at this point attempt to build a version of this phone for myself, with minimal cash investment. myself. It feels like open-source, but it’s not: it’s a different kind of open ecosystem.

Introducing Gongkai

Welcome to the Galapagos of Chinese “open” source. I call it “gongkai” (公开). Gongkai is the transliteration literal translation of “open” as applied to “open source”. I feel it deserves a term of its own, as the phenomenon has grown beyond the so-called “shanzhai” (山寨) and is becoming a self-sustaining innovation ecosystem of its own.

Just as the Galapagos Islands is a unique biological ecosystem evolved in the absence of continental species, gongkai is a unique innovation ecosystem evolved with little western influence, thanks to political, language, and cultural isolation.

Of course, just as the Galapagos was seeded by hardy species that found their way to the islands, gongkai was also seeded by hardy ideas that came from the west. These ideas fell on the fertile minds of the Pearl River delta, took root, and are evolving. Significantly, gongkai isn’t a totally lawless free-for-all. It’s a network of ideas, spread peer-to-peer, with certain rules to enforce sharing and to prevent leeching. It’s very different from Western IP concepts, but I’m trying to have an open mind about it.

I’m curious to study this new gongkai ecosystem. For sure, there will be critics who adhere to the tenets tenants of Western IP law that will summarily reject the notion of alternate systems that can nourish innovation and entrepreneurship. On the other hand, it’s these tenets tenants that lock open hardware into technology several generations old, as we wait for patents to expire and NDAs to lift before gaining access to the latest greatest technology. After all, 20 years is an eternity in high tech.

I hope there will be a few open-minded individuals who can accept an exploration of the gongkai Galapagos. Perhaps someday we can understand — and maybe even learn from — the ecosystem that produced the miracle of the $12 gongkai phone.

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smithee
3400 days ago
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The gongkai Galapagos:
popular
3402 days ago
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6 public comments
dday
3402 days ago
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Open Source? Open to a select few tens of millions source.
RFDaemoniac
3401 days ago
So this isn't as open as what we call open source? The phone is amazing, but what is gongkai? If it's not available to everybody, what makes it comparable to open source?
satadru
3402 days ago
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The bit about the "gongkai Galapagos" is excellent.
New York, NY
smishra
3402 days ago
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$12 mobile phone! Unlocked!
brennen
3403 days ago
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Just went by on the mailing list at work - fascinating stuff.
Boulder, CO
ansate
3402 days ago
definitely! thanks for sharing :)
eas
3403 days ago
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The $12 phone is less interesting than the oblique mention to the culture and ecosystem that makes it possible, dubbed Gongkai.
pfctdayelise
3403 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia