Kevin Fox

I fight for the users.

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The Official 2014 KFury Apple Predictions Post

September is my favorite time of year. It’s my wedding anniversary, Summer gives way to Fall, and Apple releases its magic.

As much hype as usually precedes an Apple Event, this year is special. This may quite simply be the most-hyped Apple Event since the announcement of the iPhone in January 2007, and just as notable is the fact that the excitement isn’t exclusively around a single product.

iPhone 6, iWatch, iOS 8, HealthKit, HomeKit, the promise of an iPhone payment platform, and perennial hopes about the evolution of the AppleTV. Rumors have been bouncing around the echo chamber ranging from well-sourced leaks to wistful speculation, and the only certainty is that much will be revealed Tuesday in what will likely be the most-watched company presentation of the decade so far.

After writing Apple prediction posts for the past 15 years (no, seriously, I predicted the iPad...

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Statement of Purpose, revisited

Last week my mom sent me an email including scans from the folder my dad kept of various memorabilia from my life. Among them was the statement of purpose I wrote when applying to grad school back in 2001.

I’ve often thought about that document but, even though I’m an assiduous information pack-rat, this piece of writing apparently slipped through the digital cracks. And so I was so happy to find that when I sent it to him for feedback so many years ago, my father had kept a hardcopy.

I clearly remember how hard it was to write this. What document could be more all-encompassing, more defining than a statement of purpose. Who are you? Why are you here? What do you hope to achieve? I struggled with the document for weeks leading up to my application deadline. I wrote several completely different attempts but never seemed to rise above the trite or cloying.

The night before...

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People Tools

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Lately I’ve been focusing more on observing more than expounding, breathing in more than breathing out. It’s all a cycle.

My uncle Alan has a similar cycle, though offset from my own. An entrepreneur before it was cool, Alan’s been running a very successful real estate company for decades. In an industry that is all about people, he’s thrived by understanding what people really want (despite what they say or even think) and using these tools to build a booming business and organization.

After decades of sharing fragments of these tools with his investors, tucked inside the company’s quarterly updates, Alan has compiled, written, refined, edited, added, edited again, and finished a book of 54 of these ’People Tools’ and today, with a huge exhalation, it’s available at Amazon.

In a time...

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Thank you for using Google Reader

As one of the dozens of talented people who made Google Reader a reality over the years, I would like to extend my gratitude to you, the millions of users who made it part of your routine and your lives.

Looking on the bright side, closing down a site with an active user base gives us all the opportunity to celebrate the product’s 7.5 year run in a much richer way than the far more common ‘last one here please turn off the lights’ kind of demise. In the last three months there has been a renaissance of activity in the RSS/newsreader world. Products that had long been idling renewed development, products that relied on Google Reader for their back-end have successfully shifted to their own infrastructure, and major Web players rushed to create their own readers to fill the imminent gap.

Am I melancholy? Of course. Do I wish that Google wasn’t shutting down...

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A modest Google Calendar proposal

It’s been over seven years since I did any design work on Google Calendar, and there are always parts that I wish I’d gotten to before I moved off the project. Rough edges get smoothed with time, and products get more refined and it’s best not to hold on too tight.

That said, can we please advance the science of Google calendar from this, where it is today:

gcal-before.png

to something more like this:

gcal-after.png

That’s all, really. Consider it a lollipop to distract me from the imminent destruction of Google Reader.

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Translation of National Intelligence Director’s 193-word statement about PRISM

James Clapper, US Director of National Intelligence, released the following statement defending PRISM. Translation added:

The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.

We need to spin this ASAP, and make two of the most respected news outlets in the world look like sensationalist supermarket rags.

Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.

We ‘target’ non-U.S. persons in the middle of a wide-angle lens. If you’ve ever been called or emailed by someone who called...

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What an Apple Watch is good for

Rather than speculate on whether Apple is making a watch, when they might unveil such a product, and how much it would sell for, I’m going to take a few minutes to talk about how such a device would fit into the ecosystem of products and why you’ll want one.

It wasn’t so long ago that most people wore watches and used them to tell time. Long after the majority of adults carried early-generation cellphones or pagers that kept more accurate time than fobs on wrists, we still wore them because digging out (or unholstering) a phone just to check the time was a chore.

As phones shrank into our pockets this slowly changed, but it wasn’t until we started seeing cellphones and pagers as small multi-function devices that we started leaving our watches on the nightstand. By 2008, nearly two-thirds of teens never wore watches, and only one in ten wore a watch daily.

The...

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Several prestigious universities follow University of California with ambitious new logos

University of California

This week the University of California unveiled a striking new logo and brand for their network of campuses, and it hasn’t gone un-noticed. Following the trend of emotions and bright colors over words and nuance, several of the nation’s most prestigious centers of higher education scrambled to cement their own continued relevance in this new era.

First to react was Harvard University:

The Harvard Square

Steeped in tradition but wanting to keep its image fresh and accessible to future generations, Harvard sought a logo that represented its historical role of bridging the gap between the upper-middle class and the ultra-wealthy.

The red square is representative of Harvard Square.

Just across Cambridge, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology displayed their own vision of the future, seen here:

MIT wordmark

Formalizing its cherished nickname, ‘The 'Tute’, the new wordmark also...

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The best mistake I ever made

I originally wrote this as an answer on Quora to the question “How did one small decision change your entire life?”

In 1990 I was applying to colleges. I had a love of computers and writing, but I decided to abandon computers because being a geek in high school was so unrewarding. I applied to three ‘big name’ schools (Harvard, Stanford, and MIT), UC schools (Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD), and three small liberal arts colleges (Oberlin, Swarthmore, and Carleton). Carleton was far and away my first choice. I’d visited the campus and found the small but focused liberal arts culture to be exactly what I was looking for. Located about 40 miles south of Minneapolis/St. Paul in Northfield, Minnesota, I thought I’d also find an experience very different than the life I had in the San Fernando Valley.

I asked two of my favorite teachers to write my college...

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Statistics, probability, and Nate Silver

In the last few days Nate Silver has become the third most talked-about man in politics, with pundits left and right saying he’s audaciously staked his professional reputation on an Obama win.

This is sad and shows how little we understand about the nature of statistics and probability, even the more educated among us. Nate’s electoral prognostications over the last several months have really been two separate things melded together:

First, they are predictions of the accuracy of the national polls, the tracking polls, the swing-state polls and those pollsters estimates of how registered voters will translate to likely voters. Polls use well-worn statistical models to give confidence intervals for those polls, but by merging several polls and increasing the sample size, Silver is able to reduce that confidence interval significantly, giving a more accurate model....

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