Why I Don’t Give Two Shits About WhatsApp
Let me start out by saying, I consider myself a highly connected member of the digital / social media generation. I’m 27 years old and for as long as I can remember, I’ve used the Internet (and other connected services) to communicate. I met my first girlfriend in a chat room (that’s another story for another time).
However, one app I’ve known about for years but never taken the time or interest in downloading: WhatsApp. The company was just acquired by Facebook for a staggering $19 billion in cash and stock. It boasts 450 million active users, 70% of whom use the service on a given day. More than one million new registered users sign up every day, which is quite impressive. In Facebook’s quest to make the world “more open and connected,” the acquisition makes sense.
I have never used WhatsApp and never intend on using WhatsApp. Simply put, it doesn’t provide any value that other existing services don’t. If you can’t figure out how to get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google+, Gmail, Google Talk, Skype, text message, iMessage, or an old fashioned phone call, then I probably don’t care to talk to you anyway.
I understand the demographic is made up mostly of international users and teenagers. What I don’t understand is how and why it has appeal that the myriad of other services don’t.
If its anonymity you seek (maybe you don’t want to give someone your real email address or phone number), it’s just as easy to create a nameless, faceless account on any of the other services that most people already use. Why the need for yet another?
Don’t get me wrong; I think the story behind WhatsApp and its acquisition is great. It reads like the American Dream. Unemployed developer gets turned down for jobs at Twitter and Facebook. Four years later, signs legal documents on the door of his old welfare office to sell his company to Facebook for $19 billion. That makes it worth four times as much as BlackBerry, six times as much as Snapchat, nine times as much as The New York Times, and 19 times as much as Instagram.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s just another communication tool, one which I don’t give two shits about. It’s the contrary for Facebook, though. By acquiring WhatsApp, they now own an even more substantial piece of the communication spectrum, and yet another place on half a billion people’s smartphone home screen. That’s easily worth $19 billion.
It was a perfectly clear (but frigidly cold) night, so I thought I’d go out and shoot some star trails over the bridge.
I found a great spot next to the Charleston Aquarium to setup. Since it was 18 degrees last night, I only shot for an hour and a half, which wasn’t enough time for long streaks or full rotations.
To make this image, I used a Sony NEX-7 and SEL 10-18mm wide angle lens. I made 277 total images with 8 second exposures at f/8 and ISO 800. In post, I combined them all using the Star Circle Academy Photoshop stacking batch preset. Once all 277 images had been compiled, I brought the single image into Lightroom for final adjustments and a few tweaks to contrast and clarity.
Today, I went out to catch the sunset over the Boneyard beach near Botany Bay Plantation on Edisto Island. As it happens, the plantation is closed on Tuesdays (of all days!) and I had to switch up my plans at the last minute.
We headed down to Edisto Island State Park on the southern end of the island to catch the sunset, and weren’t disappointed. It had rained earlier in the day, so there were a few clouds left in the sky that really added some character to this image.
You can view the full resolution, uncompressed version on my Flickr account, here.
Cooking the Perfect Filet Mignon
Tonight I tried a new technique (new to me) for cooking steak. It turned out to be the best steak I’ve ever made, so I thought I’d share the process.
1. Take the steak out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to cooking. This lets the meat warm up to room temperature. Never cook a cold steak, even if you don’t follow any of the rest of these instructions.
2. Salt and pepper it on both sides and set it aside for now.
3. Turn your oven on to 450 degrees, and your stove to high. Get out your best sauté pan and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
4. While you’re waiting for the stove and the oven to get to full heat, grab some butter and your favorite herbs or spices. Throw them all in a small bowl and microwave the concoction for 15 - 20 seconds so you end up with a liquid.
5. Grab an empty plate (the one you’ll eat from later) and put it on the bottom rack of the oven, out of the way. If there’s one thing all the major steakhouses agree on, it’s never to set a hot steak on a cold plate. At Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, for example, they bring your steak out to the table on a plate that is 500 degrees.
6. Now it’s time to cook. Put your steak in the sauté pan and let it sear each side for three to four minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut. The thicker the cut, the longer you want to sear each side.
7. After you’ve seared the steak on the first side and flipped it, scoop some of your herb butter on the top side you’ve already seared, doing your best to keep it from running off. As the steak continues to cook, this will absorb into the meat.
8. Once both sides are seared, flip the steak back over to the first side and put the entire sauté pan in the oven on the top rack (your dinner plate should still be in there). Let the steak broil for another four to five minutes to finish it off.
9. Remove the pan and the plate from the oven and put your steak on the plate. Spoon the remaining amount of your herb butter over the top, again being careful not to let it run off the sides. As with any meat, your steak is still continuing to cook while sitting on the plate due to the residual heat and the temperature of the plate.
10. Whatever you do, DON’T cut into the steak to check it’s “done-ness”. That lets all the juices run out all over the plate right up front. Instead, let it sit (“rest”) for 3-4 minutes before you make your first cut. After that, I think you know what comes next. Enjoy.
40, 50, 60 years from now, when I look back on my life, I’d rather be able to say I paid a few percentage points more in taxes so that my fellow humans could have a slightly better life, than leave this world with a ton of money in the bank that I can’t take with me anyway. It really is that simple.
Tomorrow, a $40 billion dollar cut in SNAP (food stamp program) goes into effect. For some perspective on SNAP: More than 900,000 veterans rely on it. More than half of all adults will rely on it at some point between age 18 and 65. 1 out of every 4 children in the U.S. live in homes that rely on SNAP. 45 million Americans — your friends, neighbors, family, maybe even you — rely on SNAP. Those are facts. Now for my personal thoughts..
1. The $40 billion Congress is trying to save on food stamps is roughly the same amount they wasted by shutting the government down. And they accomplished nothing by doing it. The Tea Party got NOTHING because they deserve NOTHING. Had Ted Cruz and his fellow arrogant overpaid prick buddies not gone on a power trip, they’d have enough to keep SNAP funded as it has been. Now, real people will suffer. That is indisputable.
2. It’s interesting to me that the GOP — America’s supposed “Christian” party — the ones who always want to talk about “What Would Jesus Do” — are the ones to literally and figuratively take food off of peoples’ tables. Related: They’re also America’s most hypocritical party. [Side note: I’m neither a Republican or a Democrat. I despise them both for different reasons. In fact, I despise the entire two-party system. (https://twitter.com/mbchp/status/396015588469792768)].
3. Most people don’t want to live on / rely on food stamps. Most people want a job. But apparently because the government is giving them so much money for food — about $5 bucks a day for a family of 4 — they miss out on all the good jobs because they’re so busy eating all that delicious food!
4. Sure, cutting food stamps by $40 billion saves us some cash. For perspective, that amounts to less than a quarter of one percent of the federal deficit. A quarter of one percent. That must be the going rate for letting 45 million people be even hungrier than they already are.
5. Fact: The median annual household/family income has dropped every single year for the last 5 years (http://www.deptofnumbers.com/income/us/), yet the cost of food has increased every year for the last 13 years (http://www.worldwatch.org/global-food-prices-continue-rise-0). Is this really the piece of the federal budget we should be looking at cutting to save money?
6. How about we invade a few less countries, spy on a few less foreign leaders, build a few less drones, and stop paying Congresspeople such high salaries ($174,000!) plus pensions and health care for the reset of their lives. Serving in Congress should be a privilege and an honor, not a career path and a means to set yourself up for life. (By the way: Congress hasn’t taken a pay cut since 1932. Instead, they’ve gotten nice fat raises.. no wonder they’re not concerned.)
7. I don’t mind so much of my paycheck going to taxes. Freedom isn’t free. What I mind is where it goes. Lining the pockets of crooked Congresspeople (who never can seem to do their jobs, despite being paid so much) is not my idea of a justifiable reason. Being the world’s police is not my idea of a justifiable reason. Shutting the government down and wasting tens of billions of a dollars — in this case, close to the amount of what food stamps are being cut — is never a justifiable reason, and taking food off of people’s tables who are already struggling will never be okay.
It’s never been so clear to me what a divided country we really are and I’ve never been so ashamed of where we’re headed.
BlackBerry Bought for $4.7 Billion
Today, BlackBerry announced they’ve signed a Letter of Intent to be acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $9/share. That values them right around $4.7 billion. Fairfax already owns about 10% of the company and is its single largest shareholder. They plan to take the company private.
Fairfax chief Prem Watsa said in a statement:
“We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees. We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world.”
The big story here isn’t that the company is going private. It’s that BlackBerry’s largest shareholder thinks the current Board of Directors and executive leadership is garbage and that he and his team can do a better job.
Also noteworthy, Watsa says they plan to focus on delivering “enterprise solutions” — what will become of their consumer market? And how will focusing on the enterprise really play out in a world heavily dominated by BYOD?
That “long-term strategy” has been in place well before Thorsten Heins took over as CEO in January 2012 and has yet to produce any positive results. BlackBerry confirmed last week that it will lay off 4,500 of its workforce before the end of this year.