Bitcoin Is a Protocol. Bitcoin Is a Brand.

This should be remembered:

It should be noted that the recent fall of the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange, with losses of about $460 million, had much more to do with the lack of oversight at the exchange, and not with Bitcoin as a protocol.

via NYTimes.

Airmail is great, except for a couple of things

Airmail e-mail client

I’ve recently switched from Apple’s Mail client to Airmail. I got tired of having to guess whether e-mails to my GMail account were coming through. In many situations they weren’t.

The e-mail client is excellent in terms of productivity. It’s simple and sleek and puts focus in getting those e-mails either read and archived or answered.

There are at least two short comings I came across though.

Firstly, the app doesn’t support multiple e-mail addresses for your contacts. This means that if you have entered two separate e-mail addresses for someone through Apple’s Contacts, the mail client only gives you one of them. This is extremely cumbersome regarding my productivity hack for Pipedrive (huge fan, by the way – go #Estonianmafia!).

The hack is simple. I’ve added my Pipedrive dropbox e-mail to all the contacts I’m commonly in contact with and can access that dropbox e-mail address by typing the person’s name. Mail.app used to show this, but Airmail fails at this.

Secondly, I noticed that for some odd reason it didn’t render my test HTML emails from Mailchimp correctly. They came out as HTML code. Mail.app showed these correctly and I’m 99,9% sure there is nothing wrong with the code. This means that Airmail for some reason doesn’t have very great HTML support. Although, having said that – all other HTML e-mails I’ve received in the past couple of days work perfectly.

The conclusion is that Airmail is a great app for such a low price. It’s on for less than $2.

Norway earns $115 billion on its investments

While Finland is borrowing about $10 billion a year to meet its responsibilities, Norway is a little bit better off:

Norway’s giant oil fund said on Friday that it earned 15.9 percent, or about $115 billion, on its investments last year, profiting from big bets on American and European stocks that offset losses in government bonds from around the world.

via NYTimes.com

WhatsApp: Aiming for Voice Product in Second Quarter

Now it all begins to make sense:

WhatsApp Inc., the mobile messaging service that agreed to be acquired last week by Facebook Inc. FB +2.99% for $19 billion, said Monday that it would offer voice calling as early as April, allowing free phone calls among WhatsApps 465 million users.

via WSJ.com

Netflix will disrupt the entertainment industry one House of Cards at a time

House of Cards

House of Cards is simply put an excellent series. Equally excellent is Netflix’s business model. I subscribed to Netflix for a month to watch season 2 of House of Cards and it cost me 7.99 euros. This comes to about 61 cents per episode. That kind of money I’m willing to pay for quality HD video.

I’m sure that the low cost of actually using Netflix is one of the big reasons why it has become so successful. Other media outlets are still trying to push through their equally expensive prices from the physical storage device era (of CDs, cassettes, etc.). It just doesn’t work.

I watched all the 13 episodes also in about a week. This is also one of the most fundamental differences with traditional media companies as well – Netflix does not dictate how you can enjoy the content you pay for. The disruption will be huge once it really hits the industry. Netflix is one of the few companies biting away at this by producing their own shows.

Ultimately it is the licenses to the content that is holding back the industry from transforming to something that users would value more. It has been clear that the old rights holders won’t be willing to change. Hence, the future is extremely bright for companies like Netflix who enable customers the distribution channel and produce content they are able to enjoy, whenever they like and on their device of choice.

The larger companies will wither around for 5 to 10 or so years until they realise that the market has completely changed. Then, it is too late for them to change and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them being bought by the likes of Netflix for their rights to content. I’m extremely optimistic about the change taking place in the industry and look forwards to better entertainment at a better price for consumers.

Detroit sees potential in startups

Even the bankrupt Detroit sees potential in startups lifting herself towards solvency (Detroit has about $16B in debt):

Calling for a focus on long-term growth and drawing more start-up ventures, the city contemplates lowering some income and property tax rates for its remaining 700,000 residents, though anemic revenue has plagued the city for years.

via NYTimes.com.

Estonia: The Little Country That Cloud

Ben Horowitz introduces Sten Tamkivi as he writes a fabulous piece on Estonia. Below is an excerpt. I’ve followed Estonia for a long time, but the country keeps on amazing me:

What makes this tiny country interesting as a governance benchmark is not just that the people can elect their parliament online or get their taxes back in two days. It is rather that this level of service for citizens does not start from their government building a few web sites. Instead, Estonians started by redesigning their entire information infrastructure from the ground up with openness, privacy, security and future proofing in mind.

via Estonia: The Little Country That Cloud.

The New York Times is simply awesome

New York Times web app

After pondering for a long time, I decided to subscribe to the New York Times. The first 12 weeks cost you $0.99 in total, so it’s not exactly a huge burden on your finances. After this, it depends on the package you decide to go with.

The digital access (basically the websites) and the mobile app costs you $3.75 a week, while the digital access and tablet app lightens your wallet by $5.00 each week. The all access package, with both apps and the site costs you $8.75.

Something none of these packages (nor the whole sign-up process) tell you is that nytimes.com is a beautifully designed site, that is responsive. Due to this and the awesome app.nytimes.com (you can see a screenshot above of the app), the apps are pretty much addons.

I’m currently testing the tablet app package to the site, but will most likely downscale after the 12 week trial period to the cheapest package. I’ve always enjoyed reading New York Times articles when people share them online, but I haven’t read the paper consistently. Did it today and it’s a great piece of journalism and coverage on internationally relevant issues. Strongly suggest testing the subscription if you enjoy reading quality journalism.

ps. I pondered between the Economist digital subscription and New York Times, but decided to lean towards the latter. Haven’t regretted a bit.

Finland needs to focus on the real problem, not the symptoms

In the recent release of data by Eurostat, the Eurozone GDP expanded 0.3% in the last quarter.

Finland scored a -1.4% contraction for the last quarter of 2013.

The reality is that Finland’s economy, or GDP more precisely, has been contracting pretty much for the last two years as shown below in the Statistics Finland graph.

Finland GDP development


If we’re actually specific, the trend might have begun already during the autumn of 2011.

When our GDP is contracting at this rate, our growing debt becomes a bigger problem. However, it isn’t the primary issue in our economy. I believe it is the symptom of the real problem. While Finland’s debt to GDP ratio is still well below the EU average, it should not be taken lightly. Below is a graph on how we rank to the EU average and Euro area average.

GDP-fin-eu-2013

These two graphs combined reveal a scary near future. GDP is going down while the country continues to finance its public spending through debt. At the moment we only have frameworks and ideas on how to solve the situation. By solving the situation I am referring mostly to getting rid of the symptom in a sustainable way. The way to do this is fixing the issue of contracting GDP. Once the economy is growing again, we are in a better position to put a stop on the growing debt.

I believe the most important issue at hand should be to find ways in how we can get the economy growing again, even slowly. While planning these changes, Finland should also find ways to cut costs on the public side.

The current political debate in Finland is very much focused on finding a way to minimise the deficit (the gap between public spending and income). This is mostly being discussed to be done either by increasing certain taxes and/or lowering of public spending. Somehow, the national economy at large is taken as given.

I believe the disrespect for the GDP and where it actually comes from, is the biggest problem Finland should tackle. While I am a big believer in liberal values, the government plays an immensely important role in how a society and its economy functions.

If you look at the first graph, the fundamentals of Finnish economy are not working in the current situation. This is the real reason why our debt is growing. Fix the issue of a contracting economy and you are two steps closer to fixing the issue of growing debt.

Once we have the economy growing, we can begin to take steps to minimise the deficit in a sustainable way.