A Blog by Jonathan Low


Aug 21, 2017

Your Face Will Soon Be the Key To All Your Devices

If speed and convenience drive technology adoption, facial recognition has advantages that may cause it to dominate. JL

Christopher Mims reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Teaching phones what our faces look like will be just like teaching them our fingerprints. An image of your face is captured, relevant features are extracted and the phone stores them for comparison with your face when you unlock the phone. As with fingerprint recognition, the facial images are securely stored only on the device itself, not in the cloud. “Face recognition is has the ability to be much more ubiquitous than fingerprint scanning because camera sensors are that much easier to deploy.”

Britain Turns To Chinese Text Books To Improve Its Math Scores

The pupil becomes the master. JL

Amy Qin reports in the New York Times:

Under a $54 million initiative funded by the government, more than half the primary schools in England will adopt a teaching approach to math that is used in Shanghai and Singapore. The approach is believed to have propelled students in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore to the top rankings. In 2009 and 2012, Shanghai students outscored their counterparts. Singapore ranked first in 2015. The Chinese textbooks were “significantly more demanding” than the current curriculum in England.

Oregon Has Outlawed Last Minute Scheduling of Workers

Technologically-driven scheduling has enabled companies to enforce last minute flexibility on their workforces in order to enhance margins. But the ownership of time is becoming an issue, just like the ownership of personal data. JL

Henry Grabar reports in Slate:

Oregon will require big companies in retail, hospitality, and food service to give employees schedules at least a week ahead of time, and offer stress pay to workers who don’t get a 10-hour break between shifts. By 2020, employers covered by the law will have to hand out schedules two weeks in advance. San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City all have similar policies in place.

Why Organizational Lag May Be Your Biggest Competitive Threat

It's not just the technology, it's the people. JL

Soren Kaplan comments in Inc.:

Organizational "transformation" initiatives are all the rage. But more often than not, they focus on rearranging the deck chairs versus transforming the organizational model. Even when strategic orders are clear, getting aligned and moving forward on a shifting landscape remains a significant task.The concept of "organization" is ripe for reinvention. A change in how people communicate, coordinate, and collaborate is required to avoid organizational lag and innovate products, services, processes, customer experiences and the organization itself.

Goldman Sachs Has Hired Former Silicon Valley Exec To Recruit Tech Talent

Tech and finance have long been deeply intertwined, even co-dependent.

But whether different mindsets, different cultures and different cities can attract the same level of tech talent remains to be seen. Could money make a difference? JL

Frank Chaparro reports in Business Insider:

Wall Street firms are digitizing their offerings and are competing with tech giants for engineering talent. Goldman and other top banks have struggled to compete with tech firms, which offer more flexible hours and better perks such as casual dress codes and fridges stocked with beer. Even if firms like Goldman Sachs try to mimic tech culture, tech firms will have the upper hand in attracting talent. "If you are a rock star programmer, you want to come to Silicon Valley and change the world, not use your talents to help bankers make more money."

Supermarkets Fear Amazon For the Wrong Reasons

The assumption that Amazon is about to do to groceries what it did to books may be wrong.

The largest population cohorts are increasingly concerned with quality and freshness. This trend may counter the ecommerce consolidation model, though they are not mutually exclusive. Consumers have demonstrated they are comfortable shopping at Tiffany's and Target - and that may well be the case with groceries. JL

Barbara Thau reports in Forbes:

E-commerce accounts for a mere 2% of grocery sales. Only 22% of shoppers are inclined to buy groceries from Whole Foods online.And they are least likely to buy perishables on the web. Shoppers want to see, touch and smell meat, seafood and produce, and therein lies the competitive advantage for brick-and-mortar retailers: fresh food accounts for between 27% and 49% of the food sales in the U.S. As shoppers gravitate to better quality food, mainstream supermarkets are growing their mix of healthy, organic assortments

Aug 20, 2017

The Price of Eclipse-Watching Glasses Has Tripled On Amazon In the Last Two Weeks

The eclipse is tomorrow. The laws of supply and demand pricing are evident (for the glasses, not the eclipse). JL

Suzanne Ciechalski reports in Mashable:

On Amazon, which seems to be the marketplace of choice for eclipse shoppers, prices for glasses have more than tripled over the last two weeks. But while the prices may not be ideal, if you're planning on viewing the celestial event, you'll need a pair of these glasses to view the eclipse without harming your eyes. Or you can check out this NASA video, which will show you how to view the eclipse without those fancy-shmancy glasses.