Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snip.it Is Joining Forces with Yahoo!

We are excited to share some big news: Snip.it has been acquired by Yahoo!.

For the past year and a half, we’ve worked tirelessly as a team to build the best social news platform on the web. We’ve been absolutely blown away by the breadth, depth and quality of the content you guys share on Snip.it every day. You helped make it a treasure trove of unique content, and we cannot thank you enough for your contributions to the platform, as well as your valuable feedback on the product.

We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring Snip.it’s vision to a larger scale at Yahoo!. While we can’t share the specifics of what we’ll be building, we are excited about the opportunity to take social news to exciting, new heights at Yahoo!.  The Yahoo! team is passionate about inspiring and entertaining the world’s daily habits, and certainly sharing news and information is something we all do every day.  The vision and energy at the  company is contagious, and we’re so excited to be part of all that is to come.

As of today, we will no longer support snipping. However, we’ve built a few options for you to download and export all your snips. The download link will be available until February 21, 2013.

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We’ve also created a Snip.it Hall of Fame, where we’re honoring some of the top contributors to the Snip.it community. We’ve included their Twitter handles so you can continue to stay connected and follow their insights.

We are so grateful for all of your support. We’d also like to thank our investors, family and friends. We wouldn’t be anywhere without your guidance.

Here’s to new adventures in 2013!

Sincerely,

The Snip.it Team

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Jouhan Allende, Will Dalton, Jen Pollock, Marc Nijdam, Ramy Adeeb, Mark Percival, Alaina Percival, Cedric Han, Sarah Caplener, and (not pictured) Francesco Carli.

Special thanks to our investors: Khosla Ventures, True Ventures, Charles River Ventures, SV Angel as well as Andy Rachleff, Emil Michael, Gary Clayton and Andy Krumel.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snipper of the Week: Timi Siytangco

In this edition of Snipper of the Week, we caught up with self-confessed “hedonist geek” Timi Siytangco to talk food journalism, trends and her favorite restaurants in the world. You can follow Timi’s take on food culture in her always-excellent (and mouthwatering!) collection “Eater Reader.” 

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The description of your Eater Reader collection says: “food as proxy for the human condition.” Can you explain what you mean by that?

The whole of human emotions can be represented by food. It reflects cultures, society, our preferences and biases. And a good bottle of wine or single-malt scotch can turn anyone philosophical about life.

How did you get into food? 

I’m Filipino so my environment growing up was always food-centric. Five meals a day was normal. I first tasted local cuisines through family get-togethers: Filipino dishes (lots of pork, adobo, stews), Spanish (which has a large influence on our cuisine), Chinese (from my dad’s side of the family) and American. Then as I started working — and had some money! — I could eat out more, and travel, which broadened my palate.

What are your thoughts on the Guy Fieri/New York Times episode?

I’ve not tried the food so no idea if it was deserved or not, though the article had its funny moments. I was surprised at the tone, though, it seemed more of a “personal blog” kind of rant, not something coming from the New York Times. The follow-up coverage was entertaining, but 18 hours in, it got boring. 

You snipped an Atlantic article about the “moral crusade against foodies” and commented that we shouldn’t take this all too seriously. Can you expand on that a bit?

If we’re lucky enough to eat three healthy, square meals a day, we should be thankful. Everything else, like willingly paying $5 for a cup of coffee, let alone getting up at odd hours of the night to make a booking at a Michelin-starred restaurant, is gravy.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the world and why?

This is like choosing between pets — impossible! There’s a tapas bar in Barcelona called Cal Pep. It’s a bit of an institution, and I love it because of the memories. I went there with two good friends and had the best tapas experience of our lives. The baristas took care of us and shook our hands after the three-hour meal, then we all walked out onto the dark plaza at half past midnight and did a delirious group hug, we were that happy.

The other favorite is St John Bread & Wine in Spitalfields, East London. Somehow Fergus Henderson can do something both homey and elevated at the same time. 

When I visit my parents in Manila, I always order the Chicken Joy from Jollibee. Everyone grew up with it and it’s bigger than McDonalds over there.

You snip pieces from some legendary food writers. Who are your favorite food writers working today?

Right now I have Adam Gopnik on my bedside table. He is insightful, has a wonderful way with words and is a great storyteller. I also enjoy Peter Meehan of Lucky Peach. I am also a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s early works. My favorite wine book is The Judgement of Paris — gripping stuff, I tell ya.

What are your favorite food publications?

There are two food writers whose blogs I read regularly, Robyn Eckhardt of Eating Asia and Katie Parla of Parla Food. They both go beyond the “this-is-scrumptious-and-here’s-the-recipe-and-a-photo-with-ridiculous-depth-of-field” type of writing and really give their readers a sense of place through food. Also, The Ulterior Epicure. I visit Eater once in a while as well.

What would you say were the biggest food trends this year? 

In the last 12 months I was able to spend time in Singapore, Rome, London and Australia. “Locavore” is everywhere. Also, unexpected flavors in ice cream, gelato  and macarons. And there is some kind of movement brewing (pun intended) around specialty coffee. There’s a coffeeshop not 6 months old in my neighborhood that serves some of the best coffee in town, and people are walking out with bags of single-origin beans and those Hario pour-over gadgets.

What do you think the trends next year will be?

More of the coffee thing. And something unpredictable coming from North Asia (Japan/ Taiwan/Korea).

What would be your last meal on earth?

It’s a toss-up between a steamer basket of xiao long bao, and my friend Lou’s chocolate cake.

You can subscribe to Timi’s “Eater Reader” collection here
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Snipper of the Week: Cherry Davis on Obama’s Reelection

In this edition of Snipper of the Week, we chat with Cherry Davis, who won our Election Contest with her fabulous collection “Politics.” Below, we chat with her about why she voted for Obama, what’s next for Mitt Romney and the challenges of the next four years. You can subscribe to Cherry’s collections here

Why did you vote for Obama?  

I love our country and want us to move forward so that we’re able to compete with the world. I voted to reelect President Obama because of his “Modern New Deal” visions. It will be a blend of short term (get people back to work) and long term (increase revenue to fund research/education) solutions.  I also firmly believe that our president should both embrace the diversity of our nation and be able to work well with other nations.  

What do you think turned the election in Obama’s favor? 

His campaign had a clear goal and plan to win that had been in place since he was elected for his first term. His campaign gathered support and made sure that people were registered and able to vote. They also did a superb job in showing the stark difference between Governor Romney’s extremely conservative platform and the President’s vision for the future.  Once people started to see the types of extremely conservative policies Romney and Paul Ryan would put in place, all the campaign had to do was rebut any dishonest points the GOP ticket made to try to dissuade less informed voters.

What do you think hurt Mitt Romney most in the campaign?  

Mitt Romney made two major mistakes that made him less appealing to the average voter.  First, his decision to not be transparent meant that no one knew for sure where he stood.  His refusal to detail his plans and policies made him seem dishonest, especially when he would say different things to different audiences.  The second mistake was that it took him way too long to pivot to the middle. His selection of Congressman Ryan (who’s Congressional record was very unappealing outside of the GOP Conservative base) didn’t cement his base, which is why he kept focusing on issues that would alienate minorities and women (immigration, abortion, birth control, rape policies).

What do you think the future holds for the Republican Party?  

I think Republican Party will spend about twenty years sticking to the policies of the religious right. They will likely elect someone who’s ‘truly’ conservative for the next two cycles, who will then lose in the general election.  They will also have a more difficult time electing state-wide candidates as the demographics of our country change. It will likely take about ten years for them to be a regional party and then ten to fifteen more years before they are able to wrestle control from the more extreme members of the party.  I think that eventually the GOP will split, with the more more conservative wing forming its own party. So in about twenty years or so we will have three major parties in the states and within 30 to 40 years will have regional parties that will dominate state elections.

For Mitt Romney? 

I think he’ll focus on creating a Romney dynasty where his sons will run for office. 

What’s the biggest challenge you think Obama faces this year, and over the next four years?  

The President has MANY challenges with the GOP-controlled Congress.  Not everyone in the Senate and Congress share his vision of a modern ‘New Deal’ so he’ll have to drum up a lot of support from the American people. With his final four years in office, I believe he’ll have the freedom to make lasting changes by adding new Supreme Court Justices and focusing on getting the country back to work.

What part of our political process do you think needs to be revised or reformed? 

We have to make voting easier. That means expanded days, online voting, day-of-election registration, a day off, shorter lines at polling places and nationwide rules. I also think our country will have to change campaign funding to something similar to the UK, where they can only run for a few weeks and can’t inundate everyone with ads. It would make it a more level playing field enabling our nation to have more viable parties regional and nationwide.

You chose The New York Times and NY Mag as your prize for winning our Election Contest. What made you choose those two publications? 

I think The New York Times is the best newspaper in the nation, with writers on all side of the spectrum. Whether I agree with their positions or not, their arguments are well thought out and articulated. NYMag is a great read that keeps me abreast of the East Coast, where I lived for many years before relocating to LA.  I miss the people, style of writing and culture.  These two publications give me a window into my old region.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Strategic Leadership Advisor Joan Waltman On Effective Bosses, Company Culture and Work-Life Balance

In this edition of Snipper of the Week, we chat with strategic leadership advisor Joan Waltman about the qualities of effective bosses, how to create a healthy company culture and work-life balance. You can subscribe to her ever-informative collections here

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what you do now?

I started my career as an engineer and eventually became the president of a division at a Fortune 500 company. I spent the first 10 years of my career discovering what I really cared about and learned a lot about how to create a great place to work. Today I advise high tech companies on how to be competitive by discovering their true mission and creating a company culture that employees love.

What are the qualities you think all great business leaders need to possess to be effective? 

Trust and authenticity. A leader needs to be trusted enough to be able to dig deep into the details and get the truth, confident enough to make tough calls and do the right thing and genuine enough that people know they are dealing with a person of integrity that they want to follow.

What pillars must be in place for a company to grow healthily and steadily?

You have to have the end game in mind when setting out your strategy for “how” you run your business and “what” you are going to do “when.” If you don’t know where you want to be in the future, you take short cuts that preclude you from ever arriving. You also have to have a strong sense of “why” you are doing it at all. If you don’t have a strong sense of “why,” then employees won’t know how to fully commit to your vision, and your brand and product will communicate your misalignment rather than your conviction. Customer loyalty and devotion to your brand come from fulfilling all facets of delivery in a consistent, intentional manner.

Your Culture & Workplace collection is fascinating. What are the most important tenants of a healthy company culture? 

Much of what is out there focuses on competitive pay and benefits, requisite policies and procedures, appropriate guidelines for reviews, etc. Those are table stakes. What matters is that an employee can return from a long day at work and be able to tell his or her family, “I am trusted; my opinions are heard; I am appreciated; and I know that what I am doing matters.” Designing a company culture that allows employees to feel this way doesn’t happen by accident. It must be taught, so having a leadership team that is open to learning and mentoring is important as well.

What are some effective ways to assess a candidate’s fit within a company culture in the interview process?

I like to learn about what new candidates care about, what their values are, their work ethic, how they like to operate, examples of good and bad bosses they’ve had in the past, examples of places they think are great places to work and why. I would also ask them about companies that they feel have succeeded and/or failed and why.  Tony Shei from Zappos is known to ask the bus driver that shuttles the candidate from the airport to the office how the candidate treated him, which may provide the most insightful feedback of all.

"Micromanaging" is a term thrown out in many a workplace complaint. How can micromanaging be avoided? Is it ever a good idea?  

When leaders are dealing with urgent issues, for which there is no time to delegate and train, micromanaging may be necessary.  Habitual micromanagement is an indication that there is a lack of trust between the leadership and the team. This creates mutual animosity, which often goes unstated and results in bad morale, less initiative and zero risk-taking amongst employees. It’s really up to the micromanager’s boss to identify this weakness and help figure out what is at the bottom of it. 

How much of a company’s success do you think is driven by the overall happiness of its employees?

Success has as much to do with timing and luck, which are difficult to control. You can stack the deck in your favor by cultivating a happy workforce. Their willingness and desire to put in more effort than they are asked, to go above and beyond, to take initiative beyond their job description is driven by an inherent happiness to be a part of something bigger than themselves, something they believe in. Without that, employees tend to fall back to doing just what is asked of them, what is expected.  Ultimately that leads to mediocrity.

What are some of the most effective ways to motivate employees? 

Help them align their personal goals with the company’s goals so that they know why they should care. Create an environment where people feel their contribution and voice is valued, where they can contribute to the success and innovativeness of the company, at every level in the company. Recognize and reward employees discretely; openly celebrate success as teams.

What are the characteristics of a successful meeting?

A meeting can have a successful outcome – goals defined, to-do lists created, statuses communicated – and yet be a failure.  Why is this?  Because meetings are an opportune place to both reinforce or ruin a company’s culture.  How people feel leaving a meeting is as important as what was accomplished.

"Work life balance" has been quite the buzz phrase in the media this past year. What are your thoughts on the topic?

Life is all about priorities and choices; you make room in your life for what you prioritize. I decided early on that a full life would include nurturing a loving family as a wife and mother, developing friendships that are bound by trust, having a career I could be proud of and contribute to the lives of fellow employees and my chosen field. The balance of work and life became inextricably tied together, as one enhanced the other, and the supportive nature of a loving family, trusted friends, and business partnerships enabled each to support the other in achieving personal and professional goals.  In the last 20+ years, I have seen women and men’s familial roles evolve with a lot more acceptance of this give and take between the two, a trend that is very encouraging. 

You can subscribe to Joan’s collections here. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Snipper of the Week: Chris Miller Talks Wine

Welcome to Snipper of the Week. Each week we catch up with a Snipper with a particularly interesting collection. This week, we chat with wine expert and educator Chris Miller about the up-and-coming regions, how to read a wine list and Sideways. 

Let’s start with a primer on wine regions: Which are the classics and which are the up-and-comers?

The classics are Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Champagne and the such. And in the US, Napa Valley. Then there are places in the Rhone and Provence, which were classics for a long time but then went into a bit of slump. They’ve come out of that, so you could say they’re now up and comers. Central Otago, New Zealand (for Pinot Noir), Mendoza, Argentina (for Malbecs), Willamette Valley (for Pinot Noir), Mendocino and similar places are considered today’s up and coming regions.

What are some trends going on right now in the wine industry?

Right now the industry is built so that it’s very hard for small wineries to find customers and market to them directly. I think we’ll start to see new ways for wineries to collect data about their customers and potential customers. Wineries should have the opportunity to know who enjoyed their wine regardless of how it was bought or where it was consumed — for example, if it was purchased during a meal at a restaurant.  I’m launching a business called VineClub.org that focuses on making it easier for wineries to market directly to customers, using data and data filtering. Small producers should have the chance to make more money and build a better relationship with the customer. We’re also trying to make it easier for people to learn about wine, based on what they’ve tasted, liked and learned.

There seems to be such a high barrier to entry to learning about wine. For someone who’s just beginning, what do you recommend starting with?

For someone who really wants to learn about wine, you have to buy bottles above $15.  Below $15 is sort of a gamble, meaning a Pinot Noir at this level could taste exactly like it should, or nothing like the grape at all.  Bottles in the $15-$30 range should taste like what they say on the bottle — so that they represent the grape and region in a manner that can educate.  So start here, by figuring out what different grapes taste like.

Once you’ve mastered that with your favorite wines, the next level is to know what grapes taste like when they’re grown in a certain place. What’s the difference of a Sauvignon Blanc grown in New Zealand versus one that’s from Sancerre in France? That’s where you ultimately want to end up. To be able to confidently say “I want a Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre or a Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley,” and have a basic understanding of the type of wine each is.

What’s a good strategy for narrowing down a wine list at a restaurant?

You should get a wine that best pairs with the cuisine, but doesn’t overpower the cuisine. There is a scientific approach to this, but that can be intimidating for beginners. So if there isn’t a sommelier or wine captain around, use the culture as a guide  If it’s a Northern Italian restaurant, for example, look for the style wines your like from Northern Italian wine regions. 

What about navigating prices on wine lists?

The best-priced wine on the menu is always going to the pet of the wine director or the sommelier. It’s usually something off-the-beaten-path, and is there because they have a sweet spot for it.  So look for the bottles you don’t recognize, and that’ll be the one with the least markup. The worst values are going to be the big brand names — ones like Opus One, Silver Oak and Santa Margarita. 

What are your favorite bottles of wine right now?

In California, I’m loving stuff from the Mendocino region and Anderson Valley. Copain makes a great Pinot Noir. I have always had a soft spot for cool-climate Pinot Noir as well — Wines like Foxen and Ampelos in Santa Maria and the Santa Rita Hills or from the greats of Burgundy like Courcel in Pommard or Roumier in Chambolle-Musigny (but these can be awfully hard to find and pricey). Sometimes it just comes down to a farmer making simple and gratifying wines at great prices like David Coffaro in Dry Creek Valley.

How much of being a sommelier is about molecular science and how much is about aesthetics and taste?

There’s a trend towards the science side of things, but that’s very “inside baseball” and can scare wine drinkers that aren’t wine geeks. I never want to put a barrier in front of people enjoying wine. Being a good sommelier just comes down to practice. You have to learn what wines smell like and learn to read and talk to every level of wine consumer.  

In terms of smell, 90-95% of wine flavors are the aromas. There are around 200 different aromas that you can smell in wine — whereas in nature there’s something like 400,000 different kinds. But without practice, humans get confused when it gets above 20-30. The top sommeliers can distinguish between 100-200 different aromas.  Our brains are like a giant filing cabinet for smells, we just just have to learn to find the right files. With practice, a great sommelier can distinguish between the nuances of a white, green or black peppercorn or between a ripe lemon and an underripe one.

Sideways was the wine blockbuster, but is there another wine movie that’s more revered within the industry?

There’s a movie called Mondovino, which is like the holy grail of wine movies for industry insiders. It’s a documentary about commercial versus non-commercial wineries, based on when Mondovi went into the South of France and tried to buy a swath of land for planting vineyards. All the locals didn’t want their culture to become commercialized and stood up to them — it’s  really a great movie.

And what about Sideways? How does the industry view the movie?

Sideways is actually ridiculed a bit within the industry. It was great to see Santa Barbara celebrated — and Pinot Noir sales skyrocketed after it — but it also did some things insiders didn’t like so much (like make Pinot Noir more expensive). At one point in the movie, the main characters bash Merlot. As a result, Merlot sales crashed. But then at the end, they drink that 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, which is supposed to be the “ultimate” wine of the story. But that wine comes from Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux, a region known for Merlot and Cabernet Franc. So they bashed it and then talked about it being one of the best wines ever. That part of the plot just didn’t really make sense.

You can subscribe to Chris Miller’s Wine Business collection here

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Operation Inform: Snip.it’s Election Issues Contest!

Passionate about an election issue in this presidential race? Enter our contest! We’re inviting the Snip.it community to share articles, videos and images to help educate people about the important election issues before Voting Day.

First place prize is a year’s subscription (print + digital) to The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.

The contest is open through Voting Day (November 6th), and we’ll be evaluating the collections on quality of content and their success in educating as many people as possible about the issue. 

Head to the contest page to enter. Click on the issue you’re passionate about, and submit a collection of articles that help educate people about it.

Happy educatin’!

Announcing Snip.it’s API, Widgets and “Groups”

We’re extremely excited to announce three new Snip.it features!

1) The Snip.it API

We’re opening up Snip.it’s API to the world. This will allow developers to make stuff that taps into all the high quality content that’s on Snip.it. You’ll be able to do anything from displaying cool Snip.it sections on your site to developing mobile apps that incorporate Snip.it’s data. The sky’s the limit! 

The existing Snip.it is completely built on this API, ensuring that other apps and services can create the same experiences that we do every day here at Snip.it. We’re initially releasing the read-only part of the API, and will roll out the full API  in the next few weeks. The API will include functions to get at user, collections and snip data (including comments and favorites). It’s available at http://developer.snip.it, an open-source repository for developers wanting to help improve documentation We can’t wait to see what you come up with! 

2) Widgets & a Chrome Browser Extension

Want to display current snips from your Snip.it collections on your website? We now have a widget for that! Our Snip.it widget allows you to show your readers the most recent things you’ve snipped into a collection. Head to our Publishers Toolkit  section to get the easily-embeddable code. 

We’ve also launched a Snip.it browser extension for Chrome, which will make it even easier to snip! You can find that here

3) Groups

On Snip.it, people are already collecting around hundreds of topics they’re passionate about. With our Groups release, we’re bringing all those people together to create robust communities of knowledge-sharing around interests. Anyone can join a Group by adding their collection to it. You can also invite contributors — people who you know read great content about a subject — to any group.

To kick off Groups with a bang, we’re excited to announce our 2012 Election Issues Contest. We’ve created six election-related Groups that you can join as part of the contest: Election News, Foreign Policy, Education Policy, Obamacare, The Economy and Political Comedy (for some levity). Head to the contest page for more information and to enter. (There are some sweet prizes involved!)

If you have any questions about our new features, or feedback in general about Snip.it, we’d love to hear from you. You can email us anytime at team@snip.it.

We hope you like the new stuff!

The Snip.it Team

Friday, October 5, 2012

Snipper of the Week: Matt Cannizzaro

Welcome to Snipper of the Week. Each week, we chat up a Snipper with particularly interesting collections. This week, we caught up with aviation enthusiast Matt Cannizzaro to talk drones, common misconceptions about flying and commercial flights to space

Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and what you do?

For my day job, I’m a software developer working in San Francisco. I’ve spent most of my career working on various development tools; currently I’m working on a C/C++ toolchain for Flash. I also hold a private pilot certificate and enjoy exploring California by air.  

What’s the hardest part about learning to fly?

It’s different for everyone. Personally, I find figuring out how things work fascinating, so learning about air traffic control procedures, navigation, and reading complex aviation maps came easy to me. Rote memorization of regulations took a bit more effort.

Actually operating the airplane is a different matter entirely though. During flight training, many people will hit a “training plateau” where they are stuck on a single maneuver and can’t seem to improve, no matter how many times they try. While you’ll get over your plateau eventually, this definitely happened to me. The maneuver that gave me trouble is intended to simulate what would happen if you pull back too aggressively during takeoff. Eventually I got the hang of it, and when I took my first solo flight it was worth all the hard work.

What are the hardest flight issues to recover from?

 To some extent it depends on both the aircraft and the pilot’s experience. The training for a private pilot certificate in the US requires only basic instruction on how to fly the plane using its instruments only and no visual references, as one would have to if flying in a cloud. For someone who is not prepared and trained for instrument flight, like myself, flying into a cloud or an area of low visibility is very dangerous. The plane itself will fly just fine in a cloud, but it’s very easy to get disoriented and confused about which way is up. While this is more of a concern with newer pilots, spacial disorientation is still a concern in airlines — check out China Airlines Flight 006 for an interesting example.

Another concern are situations where the pilot loses control of the airplane. For small private planes, this most commonly happens if the pilot tries to maneuver the plane too aggressively. When startled, the natural reaction is to pull back on the controls, intending to put more distance between obstacles on the ground and the airplane. But most airplanes display counter-intuitive behavior in this situation: pulling back gently may yield a climb, but pulling back abruptly will cause a descent. This happens because the airflow over the wings is no longer smooth, but turbulent and disrupted. The only way out is to restore airflow by pushing forward on the controls, bringing the plane closer to the obstacles the pilot is trying to avoid. When this happens close to the ground, an accident may be unavoidable, but as the recent tragedy of Air France 447 has shown, even professional pilots flying miles from the ground are susceptible to this problem.

What are some common misperceptions about flying planes?

I think there are many, but I’ll mention two. I think that while sitting in the back of an airliner, many people imagine the pilots performing a delicate balancing act, where they carefully guide the plane through the air and the slightest inattention results in the whole craft plummeting out of control. A fun way to cure yourself of this notion is to take an introductory flight lesson at your local airport. You’ll find that planes, even small ones, are very stable and forgiving of errors. You can pretty much fly them hands off, even without an autopilot or any of the other automation you would find in an airliner.

Many high school and even college students are taught that planes generate lift because wings are curved on the top and straight on the bottom. This theory goes on to explain that the air split by such a wing travels faster across the larger surface area on the top to meet up with the slower air traveling across the bottom. Since the air moves faster on the top of the wing, the pressure there is lower, yielding a net upward force on the wing. Unfortunately, this theory doesn’t quite explain how a plane could fly upside down or with a symmetrical wing. While I don’t claim to understand the details, fundamentally wings make lift because they push air down, which in turn pushes the wing up. You can observe the same effect by holding your hand out the window of a moving car.

Which is more dangerous: the take off or the landing? 

There are more accidents during landing than during takeoff, and since hopefully the number of takeoffs is equal to the number of landings, that would suggest that landing is more dangerous. One reason is simple: landings happen at the end of the flight, so the chance for crew fatigue is higher. In my experience, there tend to be more variables in landing. Perhaps you misjudged your descent and are a bit high, maybe the wind has blown you off course during the approach, or air traffic control has asked you to maintain a higher than normal speed. Takeoffs, on the other hand, tend to start the same, with the airplane at a stop, pointed down the runway. Airline pilots take care to maintain a stabilized approach which is intended to remove many of these variables.

How do you think drone piloting is going to affect commercial aviation over the next 50 years?

I think it’s safe to say that we will see a large increase in drone flights, especially within US airspace. As with any big change in aviation, there’s some risk in this, and unfortunately I would not be surprised at all to see at least one fatal accident involving a drone. There have already been close calls involving drones and civilian aircraft. I snipped an article about this recently.

How will it affect military aviation?

We can already see the effects on military aviation by looking at the situation in Pakistan, where the CIA is routinely conducting drone strikes. Drones have made it easier, cheaper, and less risky — for the people controlling the drones — to engage in bombing campaigns and other warfare. I think this is a dangerous development.

What’s your favorite plane in operation right now?

I will always be partial to the Cessna 152, since it’s the first plane I flew solo. It’s simple, it works, and is a great training airplane. 

 Do you think traditional airlines will ever need to service space?

I hope so! I think in order for space flights to become routine, we need some economic motivation. It’s fun to imagine mining asteroids and going on a vacation to the moon, but I think that’s a long way off.

You can subscribe to Matt’s Aviation collection here
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Snipper of the Week: Alan Emtage

Welcome to Snipper of the Week. Each week, we chat up a Snipper with particularly interesting collections and points of view. This week, we caught up with Alan Emtage, who invented the first pre-web search engine, Archie. Read his thoughts below on patent law, Mitt Romney and organized religion and subscribe to his always-excellent collections here

You describe yourself as a news junkie. What publications do you read every day?

The New York Times and The Economist. My favorite blogger is Andrew Sullivan (who is also a friend of mine).

Which outlets do you think are doing the best job of covering the elections?

I try to read across both liberal and conservative media to see what’s going on. On the left I read Ezra Klein (Washington Post), Kevin Drum (Mother Jones), Dave Weigel (Slate) and on the right I read Daniel Larison, Rod Dreher & Noah Millman (The American Conservative) and David Frum (Daily Beast). I can’t get into the fever pitch of the extreme media on the left or right. I tend to be more in the center.

Are you writing Romney out of the race, as the liberal media seems to be doing lately?

Not at all. If you look back at John Kerry’s campaign, for example, everyone thought his momentum would carry him through and it didn’t. I think Obama has a great shot at it, but I wouldn’t write Romney out  of it yet. 

What are your thoughts on all of Romney’s gaffes lately?

I think Romney is a prisoner to a party that’s become increasingly extreme and out of the mainstream. So even though he’s not running the smoothest campaigns, I’m not sure that anyone could be doing better than Romney at this point.

Besides being a “prisoner to his party,” what do you think is Romney’s biggest challenge?

His lack of ability to connect to that mythical “average” person is a real problem for him. He comes across as stilted and awkward. People react very badly to that, and on a visceral level. Either you have the ability to connect with people  or you don’t. It’s a gift that you can’t learn.

Who do you think has that gift?

My mom met Bill Clinton once at an event. She said what she was most struck by was his ability to make you feel as if you were the only person in the room. Romney doesn’t have that. Obama has it, but not on the same level as Clinton.

Let’s move on to your intellectual property collection. What do you think is the most interesting intellectual property case this year?

Well, I’d expand it from cases the broader problem. And that is that the Patent Trademark Office screwed up in the most major of ways when it allowed software processes to be patentable, starting in the 1970s. It has created a huge mess which is only enriching the patent trolls and the larger corporations. It’s absolutely stifling innovation. In the software arena, there is virtually no program that you can write now that doesn’t infringe on someone else’s patent.

Can you give an example?

"One-click" online shopping is the classic example. There shouldn’t have been any patents on it in the first place, because you can’t patent things that are obvious.  Intellectual property today is set up so that all the big guys benefit at the expense of everyone else. The little guys won’t have the money or power to change it any time soon.

You collect a lot of interesting (and different) kinds of content in your religion collection. What is the most fascinating to you about religion to you?

I consider myself agnostic. I find religion fascinating because I don’t feel the need or desire to appeal to a higher power myself. It may be because of my scientific background that I have a hard time with the concept of faith. I find it fascinating that people “believe because they believe” with no underlying proof. I feel like I’m like a little kid looking into the candy shop of religion. I just find it fascinating that it plays such a central role in the lives of most people today across the world.

From your birds eye view of looking at religion, so you see any shifts or trends?

I think that the convergence of religion and politics, particularly on the right in the United States, is dangerous for both politics and religion. Over the next generation or two, I think we’re going to see that split apart. The evangelicals and the GOP have had a common interest, but that’s going to start to diverge. Particularly around issues like gay rights and same sex marriage, the younger generation are starting to get turned off towards religion. The polls show this. Within the next two election cycles, I believe The Republican Party will become more gay positive because it won’t serve them to be viewed as homophobic any longer. So the synthesis of these two movements will split ways. Organized religion in the US will become increasingly more liberalized or fade away. 

What are your favorite Snip.it collections and topics?

I love the history topics and also the more quirky stuff. Snips like the History of the $20 bill and the math behind 4-digit pin codes have recently caught my interest. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Post Snips and Collections on LinkedIn!

Now you can share your snips and collections on LinkedIn! Just head to the sharing options on snips or collections, and you’ll see a LinkedIn button.

Sharing snips on LinkedIn is a great way to show your professional network what you’re reading around your areas of expertise. So, happy sharing!

Collection sharing:

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