Issue 3 - News & Thoughts from Sanjay

The week is now just three days - yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Today is "today".

I was ideating on a video chat app this week with a friend. There are a lot of apps out there right now including Zoom, Houseparty, Google Meet, Shindig, Jitsi (you should check this out if you’ve got friends who are technically challenged - works in a browser and just requires a link to connect), and so many others. I’ve been thinking about this idea of how you can make friends in the 2000s. Before the lock down we were constantly looking at our phones and not engaged with each other. I had the idea of building a service where you connect with others for short chats to make new friends - think Chatroulette (remember that? it’s still a thing but I’m not going to link to it) but without all the naughty stuff that ended up making that great idea fall apart.

But then I realized - I don’t have time to take another project on. I’ve been incredibly busy working on my main idea (more on that in the coming weeks) as well as some boards I’m on as well as helping some founder friends with challenges in their startups. I’ve had a hard time giving up on pursuing ideas that I think are worth while but I’m realizing that success (and changing the world) comes through focus. So sorry to all of you, you’re not going to have my new video chat idea - at least not for now. Maybe some day. But for now, I’ve got something bigger that needs fixing in the world.

How about you? What’s the one big problem of the world that you’re working to fix. Lets each focus on that and make 2020 wish that it had never had a thing called coronavirus.

Your friend,

Sanjay


Content From Sanjay

This week I’ve only got one thing for you - the latest episode of Tech Talk Y’all. You really should subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast app (or Spotify!).


Articles I’ve Read

Business & Startups

  • Yes, your toilet paper is at risk. You thought it was because people were just being crazy and hoarding toilet paper (this is what I thought), but there are real systemic issues around delivering this needed staple. A number of sawmills have been shut down due to slack demand (building lumber, etc.) and because of this they aren’t making sawdust and wood chips which are used in the production in toilet paper. Maybe it is time to go buy that bidet. (link)

  • I really couldn’t wrap my head around a negative price for oil so I went hunting for an article that laid out all the details. In a nutshell, the “negative price” for oil is really around futures contracts (so not really today’s price to buy a barrel of oil). The problem is that demand has dropped (factories closed, people not driving, etc.) and supply continues unabated (price war between OPEC and Russia). So this is an inelastic good right now (lower price doesn’t increase demand). The issue is that there is a finite amount of storage space for this oil after it’s out of the ground which has people panicking and not wanting to take delivery of oil that they can’t store or unload on someone else. Of course, you could leave the oil where it is (in the ground) since that’s already “stored” but apparently it takes time to safely shut down oil wells (plus Saudi Arabia is looking to squeeze Russia and others out of the market to regain market dominance). So nuts. (link)

  • Sometimes a pandemic will help bring back “old” tech. In this case a drive-in theater in Florida was the entire box office returns last weekend. (link)

Science

  • Is there any doubt that living in an area with higher air pollution makes you more susceptible to poor health outcomes? In case there is, here is another study (not yet peer-reviewed, mind you) that shows a higher incidence of death from the current pandemic if you live in an area of worse air pollution. We need to get serious about cleaning up the environment - air and water - or we’re handing our descendants a lot shorter life than they deserve. (link)

Technology

  • Biometric authentication (i.e., fingerprint scanners) are incredibly easy to fool. Because of how the data has to be acquired they tend to allow a good amount of data fuzziness. Thus creating opportunities for attack using something as now common as a 3D printer. I implore you not to use fingerprint scanners to protect your devices and instead either use a code that you know (and not “000000” like Kanye West) or a strong encryption key (like a Yubikey) or ideally, both. (link)


Recommendation

This week I’m recommending the artist Anna of the North with the vocals by Anna Lotterud from Norway. I swear I thought I heard her song, “Dream Girl”, on an Apple TV ad but I can’t find corroboration on that so my ears may have played a trick on me. Anna of the North was a hit on the Internet in 2014 with the song “Sway” but I never heard of them then and the song “Sway” doesn’t do it for me. “Dream Girl” and “My Love” (both songs are from the same album) are better songs to me.