In late September, representatives from the biggest tech companies testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. At almost the same time, Facebook announced that a massive data breach had affected almost 50 million users. This odd fluke of timing illustrates the perilous nature of data protection right now.
Because of data breaches at Facebook and countless other leading companies, consumers are understandably wary about how much of their personal data is being tracked and stored. These fears were stoked after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as it became clear that personal data was being used for far more than just targeted advertising. Better protections are something that consumers are beginning to prioritize and demand, but until just recently big tech has controlled the conversation.
The aforementioned Senate hearing was just the most recent time that companies like Google and Microsoft have had to appear before Congress. Thus far legislators have taken a hands-off approach to data protection, but that position is quickly changing. As more of life has shifted online, the issues of data privacy and protection have become critical to the public good. Congress is beginning to treat them as such.
Additionally, Apple came out in favor of federal data regulations. The company supports giving users the right to control what information is stored, who it is shared with, and why. Considering that consumers, Congress, and now big tech are all in favor of stricter protections, companies need to begin preparing for a cybersecurity and regulatory future that looks drastically different from today. Luckily, an example already exists.
Following in the EU’s Footsteps
The General Data Protection Regulation went into effect throughout the European Union last spring and represented the first major push for data legislation. GDPR lets each member country devise its own specific data protection rules, but they all share the same objectives: giving users transparent control over their own data.
The GDPR rules affect any company that has consumers or does business in Europe, meaning lots of American companies are forced to comply. Some companies are even considering voluntary adoption of these rules — at least in part — to prepare for impending data regulations that are likely coming to America.
California recently passed AB 375, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which gives consumers far more control over their data. Other state regulations (along with federal legislation) will likely also come down the pike, suggesting that compliance will be a complex issue for any business, regardless of footprint.
It will also be consequential. GDPR and other existing rules levy fines based on the size and severity of the breach. Companies are penalized for every record that is compromised, meaning that large-scale breaches can cost millions or even billions of dollars.
There is no clear timeline for when nationwide regulations will take effect in the U.S., nor what form they will take. What is clear, however, is that companies choosing to prepare now will be ahead of their competition in enhancing their cybersecurity.
Preparing for an Uncertain Future
Companies don’t have to wait for new laws to hit the books to begin planning for compliance. They also don’t need to recruit an army of lawyers. Instead, follow these strategies to prepare for whatever happens next at the local, state, national, or international levels:
1. Follow core principles. Rather than trying to align your policies with future regulations, commit to some core principles such as consent, anonymization, and encryption. Making these your ongoing priorities will keep you on the right side of the law more often than not.
2. Evolve your culture. New rules could be right around the corner, and getting prepared takes time. In addition to new policies and protections, companies will need to cultivate an updated culture that respects data and gives preference to privacy. Making those changes meaningfully will not happen quickly or easily, which is why companies should get started sooner rather than later.
3. Treat all data as equal. Stop thinking about data as valuable/invaluable or secure/insecure. GDPR and other rules treat all data breaches equally, no matter what kind of data is compromised. That means rather than securing select information channels and databases, companies will need to take broader approaches to data classification.
4. Practice good governance. A systematic approach is important for preventing breaches, but it’s just as important after a breach. Data rules commonly require companies to disclose a breach within days after it occurs. The only way to prepare for the technical, logistical, and reputational fallout on such a short timeline is to have policies and plans in place.
5. Seek the opportunities. Compliance is an obligation and an opportunity. Companies that make every effort to keep data safe tend to strengthen their customers’ confidence. Treating data protection as an investment, rather than a burden, makes it easier to get compliant and stay compliant.
We are quickly reaching a tipping point when lax data security is unacceptable for everyone. Now that nearly every stakeholder is on board, sweeping change is likely around the corner. Anyone with data at stake should read the writing on the wall and make data protection their next big initiative.
David Wagner has more than 25 years of experience in the IT security industry. He serves as the president and chief executive officer of Zix, a leader in email security.
Political journalists love to talk about President Trump’s mood. But Jonathan Swan from Axios and Maggie Haberman from the New York Times — two of the best-sourced reporters on the White House — say the “fumes beat” is often blown out of proportion.
“I don’t think that he is in this constant state of steam coming out of his ears at all,” Swan said on the latest episode of Recode Media. “In fact, the opposite. Like when I talk to people who have spent time with him in the private dining room, he’s usually very relaxed.”
“And can be very charming, which surprises people,” added Haberman, who was guest-hosting for Peter Kafka.
Swan also dismissed the “chaos in the West Wing” type of story, saying that “unless you’re in the room with Trump when he’s riffing,” people are not “running around with their hair on fire.” What may read as chaos in a story about the White House is a more sedate confusion about how President Trump does things unexpectedly, and without going through the processes that other presidents might.
“I think the other thing that is sort of wrong is like, ‘What are they saying in the West Wing about Russia?’” Swan said — and Haberman agreed. “It’s like, they don’t talk about it. I mean, the idea that they’re all sitting around going, ‘Oh, is Manafort gonna …’ That’s just not something that is discussed.”
Below, we’ve shared a lightly edited full transcript of Maggie’s conversation with Jonathan.
Maggie Haberman: This is Recode Media from the Vox Media Podcast Network. I’m Maggie Haberman, in for Peter Kafka. I’m a reporter at the New York Times, but I’m here today at the Axios studios in Washington, D.C., to talk to Jonathan Swan. He’s the national political reporter for Axios. Jonathan, welcome to Recode Media.
Jonathan Swan: Hi, Maggie.
Hi, Jonathan. Thanks for having me here.
Thanks for having me on your show.
On my guest episode?
I’d like to just jump in generally to get your thoughts, several weeks after the midterms, two years into President Trump’s administration. And I should just note for people listening that you are one of the reporters who I follow closely. You are one of the people whose work I most admire, and who I think has really captured this White House in a way that few others have. So knowing that, can you talk a bit about what you anticipate from the White House for the first six months of 2019?
Well, just to pull back slightly, I think we’re at a pretty pivotal moment right now for the president. If you look in the rearview mirror, the stuff he’s accomplished is not nothing. I mean, he’s passed a big tax bill, and he’s done a ton of deregulation. He’s confirmed two Supreme Court Justices and a lot of judicial nominees. That’s all in the bucket of conventional Republican president, any other Republican president would’ve pursued those goals.
But the two goals that are definitional Trump goals, which is to change China’s behavior and to build the wall, they were two issues that defined him as a politician. He’s in a really tough spot right now. He’s kicked the can down the road on both issues. He’s signed a short-term continuing resolution to defer the shutdown fight over the wall. And he’s had this dinner with President Xi in Buenos Aires on the weekend, which resulted in, effectively, a 90-day ceasefire of this trade war and this confusing mess of competing statements that came out of both camps afterwards.
So there’s a huge TBD next to these two issues. And I find it very hard to see how he gets the money to pay for his wall. And I find it very hard to see how he gets China to do any of the really big important stuff, like change their industrial theft practices and these issues that are really, really systemic. So the question then becomes: Okay, if Trump can’t get those things done, and then he has Mueller coming down his neck, Democrats taking over the House and a blizzard of subpoenas, and a wobbly stock market, how does he respond to all of those pressures?
And based on what you have seen historically, what’s your best guess? Not that we should use our crystal ball too often.
But do you expect that he has it in him to modulate some of his own behavior, or do you think it’ll be some continuation of what we have seen in recent days with the muddled messaging on China?
I don’t think he thinks it’s in his best interest to modulate. I mean, he even basically said that to us when we talked to him a few weeks ago. We said, “You keep calling the press the enemy of the people. You know that that could have consequences, that crazy people could actually …” I think Jim even said someone could die?
And Trump said, “My people like it. I go to the crowds and that’s what they like.” You take the wall as an example. There were advisers telling him, “Please talk about the economy”; Republicans on the Hill, “Please talk about the economy.” And Trump would say, “When I talk about the economy, people get bored.” They want to hear about these inflammatory issues and these really hardcore base issues.
So I don’t think he sees it in his political interest to modulate. And I expect that he would respond in the way he usually does, which is by picking a foil, which will probably be a Democrat or maybe even an establishment Republican, and hammering them in a pretty savage way; blaming others, lashing out, and creating the idea for his base that he’s fighting for them and being foiled by XYZ bogeymen.
Don’t you think, though — and I agree with you that I think that’s generally how he approaches it — but in the bundle of internal contradictions that is Donald Trump, don’t you think there is also a side of him that is serious when he says, or means it when he’s saying it, that he would like to find common cause with Nancy Pelosi, who I think he likes, much more than people, and certainly more than his base, would expect.
I think there are moments where that’s true, and then there are moments when it’s false. You know?
Like what might be true at 9:30 a.m. can become false by 11 a.m. if he sees something that creates cognitive dissonance. So yeah, I think that’s true. I think he would love, particularly, to have building projects being erected all around the country with “The Trump Administration” in gold lettering on them. And, frankly, my understanding is that he actually prefers the Democratic approach to building infrastructure than his own … I was told by someone that he referred to the infrastructure plan as “Gary’s plan.” That’s his own administration’s infrastructure plan, which is public-private partnerships.
Trump is much more in favor of large, federal spending, which is the Democratic approach. But he’s also said, to take that whole thing of what’s true at 9 a.m. is not true at 11 a.m., he also has said, “If you guys investigate me, you can go to hell. I’m not doing any legislating with you.” So, yes, maybe there is … He likes Nancy Pelosi on a personal level. I just don’t know how much that matters. Because as soon as Elijah Cummings and these new chairmen start investigating Trump, I just think he goes into the warpath.
You raise one thing, one of the key aspects of covering this man and this White House, which is that what is true in one moment is not true in another moment. And I think that as reporters, we have all faced challenges with that.
So I want you to talk a bit, since this is a media podcast, a little bit about your approach to covering him. And then we can get into some specific stories. So for instance, when we were covering the campaign at the Times, my then-colleague Ashley Parker and I, and Alex Burns, who we covered a lot of these stories with, we would come up with sort of a common thread of fact; that it had to be that multiple sources confirmed one basic thing, and then everything else would fall off to the wayside; and that we would hedge things in ways we never had before. Because until he actually announced, it wasn’t necessarily true. And even if he does announce it, it’s not necessarily true.
What are the moments that stand out to you as moments that you’re … Well first, let me ask you, why don’t you talk about your approach to making sure that what you have can withhold scrutiny? Because we all have this problem in this White House. And then what are the moments that you think have held up? What are the moments that you would take back?
It’s a really good question, and I’m still learning and adapting. So, the first thing I do, just as a general principle, is if I’m told something by a senior administration official, I assume it’s false until proven otherwise. And I’ve just had to take that approach.
I’m now hedging in a way that is almost comical. So like, I recently broke the story that Trump had settled on Pat Cipollone for his White House Counsel. And when I wrote that story, I think I published it on a Saturday afternoon, I knew that Pat Cipollone … The fact I had was that Pat Cipollone had started filling out his paperwork. So I didn’t write … My lead sentence wasn’t … you know, I could pull it up now … but it wasn’t, “Donald Trump has decided …” It was, I literally wrote, “Pat Cipollone has begun filling out his paperwork for this,” because I knew that that was a fact.
The sentence, “Donald Trump has decided …” I made a big mistake early on. My story was correct. I broke the story that he was pulling out of the Paris climate deal. But I made the big mistake of saying, “Donald Trump has decided,” because, yes, he told people he decided. But then after I published my story he spoke to a White House official and he said, “What do you think I should do?”
But it doesn’t mean he hasn’t made up his mind. He’s just always polling people, even … I knew that they were scheduling the event for the next day. The speech was written. They were calling surrogates. All of these things were happening in the afternoon, so it wasn’t correct to say, “He’s on the fence.” But you need to find new language. Because there is no such thing as, “Donald Trump has decided.” It’s not a verb that you can almost use with this guy. Because he loves to create misdirection. He loves to keep flexibility open. And he loves to reverse himself. So it’s very, very challenging.
Another recent example: I broke a story that Nikki Haley was resigning as U.N. Ambassador. And I knew that it was right. I knew, I had incredibly good sourcing on it, and I knew it was happening. I still felt this little thing in my stomach when we published. I was like, “Shit, maybe this guy’s going to screw me.” You know, “Maybe he’s going to pull the rug out and say, ‘Guess what? It’s not happening. She’s U.N. Ambassador for life,’” or something. So it’s nerve-racking. And I’ve started to find ways to hedge that I would probably never do in any normal circumstance.
Should we all be approaching reporting him differently? You and I both know that this is the case, in terms of what he does to our stories, to the fact that …
Because you left out one thing that he likes do, too. It’s not just misdirection. He also likes to embarrass reporters.
Oh, yeah. No doubt.
He likes to create situations where he can say, “You got it wrong.”
Do we all have an obligation to present this differently? Or don’t we? Look, I have received intense criticism. You’ve received intense criticism. Do you think that some of that criticism is valid and that we all have a responsibility to be different in our approach?
I do, to some extent. I think the basics of reporting don’t change. But I think when you have a situation where, like, I literally don’t think you can write a sentence — “Donald Trump has decided” — that, by definition, is a different type of approach. I also think that he does try to pit reporters against each other. There’s no doubt about that. One thing I like to do, as a sort of — because it does create, or exacerbates, distrust in the media, what he does — is that when there is a report that he says at the time is fake news and then turns out to be 100 percent accurate, I do like to point that out, to remind people.
I remember one that stands out was, you wrote a piece about Michael Cohen, that actually … This was not the coziest, most perfect relationship that’s ever existed. And at the time, Trump was like, “complete fake news,” trying to pit him against him. And now Michael Cohen poses probably one of the biggest threats to his presidency, and feels a sense of personal betrayal and vengeance. So we need to both call it out when we see it; but then also remind people when the reporting stands up, and his initial comments about it, false.
I appreciate you reminding people on that specific story. And, yes, I think we all need to sometimes remind people what has held up. I want to speak a little more specifically about you, and then I want to talk a bit more about your personal experiences with Donald Trump. But for those who are listening, who might not have been familiar with your work three years ago before you were where you are, talk a bit about your history covering D.C., how you got to this seat.
So I’m from Australia, as you probably can tell.
What? No, sorry.
You hid that so well. So, thank you.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
No, I’ve been trying to hide it. Look, I come from a fairly traditional background, reporting background.
Describe for people what that means.
Well so my first job, ever, was … I think I was 15 or 16 …
Your first news job?
… was a copy boy in what was then the Sun Herald, which was a Sunday tabloid. And I used to do, it was called “Police Rounds.” So I used to sit up — I don’t even know if they do this anymore, they actually don’t. They certainly, at the Sun Herald, they don’t do it anymore.
Well wait, before you go further though, explain to people what a copy boy is because a lot of people don’t know.
A copy boy is a gopher. You basically do whatever the hell the editor shouts at you, or the journalist. You fetch, you fetch things, you get them coffee, you get them dinner. I remember one time, on my knees, cleaning under desks and being abused by some crotchety old cooking editor. So you do all the stuff that no one wants to do.
But part of it was, which I ended up doing, was something called “Police Rounds,” which was — they don’t do it anymore — but used to sit up in this room. It was this stuffy little room. And it was like six different police scanners from all around Sydney. And you’re basically listening in on cops talking as they’re driving around, and so you’re hearing for what’s happening.
So it’s mostly very boring. It’s like, you know, just general conversation, but every now and again it’ll be, you know, “Oh, there’s a break-in at whatever and we’re on our way.” And your job is then, it’s like an early detector, basically. You hear something that’s newsworthy. You call down to the news desk and get them onto it, get their police reporters onto it.
So you would sit in there for eight hours and it was almost like it would send you crazy. So I did that through high school and college.
How many days a week were you in there? How many days a week were you doing that?
Oh, it was just weekends. Just weekends. I was at school, but then at university a little bit more than that. But I actually didn’t want to be a journalist.
What did you want to be?
I didn’t know. The reason I didn’t want to be a journalist was because my dad’s a journalist, my aunt’s a journalist. My aunt’s a crime reporter, my uncle’s a crime reporter, my dad’s a health and science broadcaster. And I didn’t want to, like, I just felt that it would be unimaginative or derivative and that I would be seen as “Norman Swan’s son.” I didn’t want that as well. So I actually avoided it and sort of had this career of about three years in advertising, in my early 20s. Then I really started as a journalist at about 25 as a most junior reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald.
So I came up traditionally through covering cops, crime, local stuff and then federal politics. Then I came over to the U.S. on a, it was a fellowship program. It’s really cool, actually. It’s called the American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship, and this Australian Organization every year sponsors one Australian to spend a year on Capitol Hill on the staff as a Fellow to learn about the Hill, how it works. The idea is you’re supposed to go back to Australia and proselytize about America. But my goal was to use it to get someone to hire me. So that’s how I got my foot in the door over here.
What year was that?
And the Hill was your first job?
Okay. Describe your coverage there. I mean, my memory is that you were on the Trump campaign, but what else were you doing?
So I started out as sort of doing campaign finance, but it was so loose that I could do … Like, I was on the campaign team, so I used that to get to know donors and then I sort of ended up covering Trump.
Why did you end up covering Trump?
Just because I didn’t feel like … Well, I had a lot of freedom. They were great. There was no, you know, like, “You have to cover X person.” And I was more covering Republicans. So I sort of migrated towards Trump.
This is before he was the nominee?
Yeah. But I didn’t do amazing work. I did sort of very incremental …
How self-deprecating of you. Okay.
Part of it was also because I saw on the other side, on the Clinton side, that there were reporters who’d known the Clintons for like, in some cases, like 20 years. It just seemed like fortress Clinton was impenetrable. And fortress Trump, you could just walk in the front door…
The guards had gone off duty.
… and call out, “Bannon.” You know what I mean?
The guards were fighting with each other over in the corner. Right.
It was like a little, it wasn’t even a moat. You could just basically cruise in. And as you know, there’s not that many people you have to know to really … You know, certainly on that campaign. It was a small campaign! I mean, 10 people, you could talk to, and you’d have a very good idea of what was going on. So in some ways it was also just easier.
Had you ever covered anyone like him before you started covering him?
The only person who I could even put in the same universe as him is an Australian politician called Clive Palmer, who is this eccentric coal billionaire who went into politics and started his own party, I think it was called the Palmer United Party, and was very outrageous and populist — very, very populist — and used to use some of the same tactics in terms of beating up on the media, etc. But not really.
So I want to start you out now on covering this administration. What do you think, as we approach the end of year two, about his relationship with the media that covers him? You were talking before we went to the break about an Australian candidate who liked to beat up on the media, evoked some of the same tactics. But Donald Trump does it as something of a game, doesn’t he? It’s not really that genuine, since he seems to need the media like oxygen.
Right. So I don’t think I’ve ever seen a political figure who is more obsessed with the media than Donald Trump.
Describe how that manifests.
Just the sheer amount of TV he watches is staggering.
How much would you estimate it is a day?
So he wakes up, you know, we know from his tweets, but he wakes up in the 5 am hour, usually, and his first meeting of the day is usually 11:00. It’s his intelligence briefing. So there’s effectively six hours of ungoverned time in the residence with a television and a phone, and this is like John Kelly’s worst nightmare.
And then also at the end of the day, he’ll have his last meeting — depending if he’s got events or whatever — at 4:00. And then he goes back to the residence. So there’s sort of, he doesn’t sleep very much, so there’s 12 hours of ungoverned time. If you go around Capitol Hill, as I’m sure you do, and talk to Republicans on the Hill and say, “When’s the last time you heard from Trump?” It’s often when they’ve been on “Fox and Friends” and they got a call from him saying how good they were or whatever.
So in a way the television, he’s so improvisational and reactive. The TV is his input, and then his output is the phone. Or dual input. So he’ll see a story, the caravan on Fox, he’ll call, whatever, Kirstjen Nielsen or Lou Dobbs or whoever and get some more input. That begins to set the government … You guys did a great story on this, actually. How the machinery of government kind of springs into action. I think it might have been Julie Davis.
So, but that’s what happens. And also, I mean, you see this. There was a press conference, I think, in New York, I think it was the UNGA one. I mean, Trump is so obsessed with the media that he knows who’s buying which media company or which deals are in… I think he congratulated the reporter on their company being purchased by …
He did. And he was, it was really striking to me, he recognized Yamiche Alcindor, who used to be at the New York Times, who had been a 2016 reporter. She also covered the administration in the early days for the Times. She’s on TV a lot and I think he sees her on TV a lot. And so I think … what was striking to me about it was his fascination with the New York Times, in particular,which we know is long held, yeah.
And he, you know, that sort of shows when people get congratulatory newspapers sent to them. It’s often the Times with Sharpie, you know, “Good job!” or whatever. There’s still nothing better for Donald Trump than getting the front page of the New York Times and a reasonably complimentary headline. There’s still nothing better for him. He loved the one when they passed the tax bill. He wrote on that for quite a few people.
But his relationship with the media is, yes, there is gamesmanship to it. You see in some of the interviews how fluent he is in the language of talking to reporters. You know, “I will just go off the record for this. On the record,” or back. Sometimes he bellows “off the record, but you can use it.” It’s this very kind of, it’s the language of someone who’s been dealing with reporters for 30 years, and the … But you know, when we talked to him about the “enemy of the people” rhetoric, it did strike me that there was something kind of real to it, that he actually, I don’t know if … I can’t go inside his head, put him on the couch, but it does seem that something might have changed and that he actually does … I don’t know how much of it’s a game anymore.
Like I feel like sometimes he really does, you know, want to use this language in quite a deliberate and maybe … Yeah, maybe it’s not a game sometimes.
To that end, let’s talk about the Jim Acosta press credential incident. There were conflicting views on this, but across the … because not every reporter necessarily agreed with Jim’s approach, but I think every reporter agreed that you were entering dangerous territory when you have the White House pulling a hard pass, which is a security pass, not a press credential, based on a president’s dislike of having a question asked. Where did you come down on that?
Oh, I mean, I thought just that … I don’t think that they should be removing people’s hard passes for that sort of thing. I also, while Jim has a very different approach to me, I actually sometimes think that his just throwing stuff at Trump sometimes creates answers or opens up … You know, I remember being in London with Jim Acosta and others, and Trump did his press conference with Theresa May and Jim like shouted out something as Trump was leaving and Trump turned around and answered the question. I think it might’ve had something to do with Russia.
So, you know, I, think there’s a place for that kind of approach, even though it’s not my approach. But generally speaking, my read on that situation was that they were actually setting a predicate. I don’t think this is over. I think what they did was they didn’t lose that case on First Amendment grounds. It was a due process situation. So by setting up these rules, it seems like they’re actually setting a predicate for doing this down the track. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this.
Going back to something you mentioned about having a different approach, I want to talk a bit about your approach and how you would characterize it, and then I want to talk about your recent interview with the president. How would you describe … I’ve seen how people describe how you do your job. How would you describe how you do your job?
I just see myself as a reporter, and I use that word. I never call myself anything else. I am quite a blunt instrument. I’m a very mediocre writer. I’m not the smartest person going around. There’s plenty of people …
You don’t really need to devalue yourself this way.
No, I’m actually not. I’m actually being honest. I’m not trying to be cute. I’m actually being sincere. I’m really being sincere. What I’m really, really good at is getting information and hustling and I see my job …
And getting people to talk to you.
And getting people to talk to me and finding ways to get people to … to find fault lines between or inside organizations and work out how to leverage pieces of information. I am really, really good at that, and I was instinctively good at it in Australia and I’m really good at it here. I know what my strengths are and I know what my weaknesses are.
I see my job as like shaking a giant tree. I basically wake up in the morning and try to make as many source contacts as I can in a day. I’m relentless. I work seven days a week, which I always have, and I basically set meetings way, way ahead. So for important people I try and … like right now I’m scheduling breakfasts in late January because I want to get people in their diary. So it’s a mixture of face to face and then a lot of encrypted texting and calls, but it’s basically just, if you make more calls than your competitors, you will get stories whether you’re smarter than them or not.
And I think the other part of the way I see my job is there’s all this stuff happening in rooms that we’re not allowed into, and I’ve always wanted to tell people what’s happening in the room and to find out to the best of my ability how these decisions are being made, that then become public policy, and piecing that together after the caravan moves on, you know? So, yeah.
So you’re a reporter.
And that’s all I ever wanted to be. I mean, I have no ambition to do anything else. Like, in 40 years time, I just want to be a reporter.
Explain to people what happened when you interviewed the president. You’ve received a lot of criticism for your reaction. Do you think the criticism was fair? Would you undo it? And how do you respond to people who say that you’re trying to keep access portals open in exchange for … I’ve seen plenty of negative stories from you about the administration, or stories that they certainly did not like, but I’m hoping you can address this.
Well, it’s pretty simple. I took a piece of reporting into an interview that I didn’t expect the president to confirm. When he confirmed it, I was surprised, and that’s what you see in the video. If I could do it again, would I do it differently? Yeah, sure. I would ask tougher follow-up questions. I would probably modulate my facial expressions and other things, but I’m glad we were able to break that news. It’s an important story.
And also I would note that we broke other news in that interview. We were the first reporters to ask President Trump about the use of an American-made bomb to blow up a school bus full of kids in Yemen. It surprised me a little bit that it took months for anyone in the press corps to present him with that question.
Look, I’m always grateful for good-faith criticism. Advice, suggestions, how I can be a better reporter, and I’m lucky I’ve got talented and hardworking people, colleagues, not just at my own organization, who help me do better. But I think a lot of the criticism is phony and some of the people who criticize me, some of the publications who’ve tried to suggest that my work is devoid of public value, they’re quite insistent on aggregating my reporting when it’s negative. I reported recently that Trump wants to cut off funding to Puerto Rico, and two of the publications that wrote that I’m this worthless hack aggregated it. That’s fine. I don’t really like … you know, I read all the criticism.
You check it?
Yeah, I do. I read it all. I think you have to. By the way, it’s good. It keeps you humble, and it’s good to get your head kicked in every now and again. It’s good to get your teeth kicked in, and yeah, I screw up all the time! I try not to, but sure!
Also, the funny thing about this whole “access” idea, it’s a serious conversation, and there are always tensions when you’re doing up-close reporting, but the irony is sucking up, being sycophantic actually doesn’t get you anywhere. People need to be slightly afraid of you. They need to know that you have information, and that’s the way you leverage people. It’s not by saying, “Oh, how wonderful are you,” etc., etc., because if that was the case, we would see bigger sycophants breaking a lot more news.
You made news on a few fronts, but one of which was about how he was possibly going to end birthright citizenship with an executive order. We haven’t heard him talk about this since. Given that, is there anything that could’ve been done differently on your end? How does that advise you going forward in terms of how you deal with news?
No. Look, the way that birthright thing came about was Trump actually … I think about July, the Washington Post published a piece by Michael Anton, who’s a former administration official, and the Washington Post op-ed by Anton lays out this pretty fringe-y legal argument that’s held by a few people on the right, that you can get rid of birthright citizenship without a Constitutional amendment. You can actually do it by an executive order, and the president reads it and thinks that it’s the best thing he’s ever seen.
He starts talking about it internally, not only to policy staff but also to some people who have legal authority. He was told that this is not something that he could do. People were very concerned about it. After we broke that story, I got a couple of phone calls from people in there saying, “I really wish you hadn’t asked that question because it’s not actually helpful to us.” They were trying to shore up suburban seats. He’d already gone pretty hard on the caravan. That was just another notch that took it over the edge.
Again, I see the criticism that this was the president trying to say something inflammatory ahead of the midterms, but the reality is he was talking about it privately, sporadically, for months. The fact that people don’t think he can do it and he’s been stymied is obviously relevant. I think the mistake we made is the mistake we acknowledge, which is our headline sucked. It was like, “Trump to terminate” whatever. We should have said, made very clear in the headline that this was very, very legally dubious, and we should have had, which we added later, a correction to his comment that America is the only country in the world to do this, because there are 30 other countries that do it.
We did a pretty shitty job on our first take of that story, and we’ve acknowledged that, but I don’t regret asking him the question. I don’t regret breaking that news, and it was something that he was talking about privately. I’m not even going to bother dignifying the conspiracy theories that were run by people who should know better where they were saying, “Oh, this was orchestrated” between me … It’s just laughable for anyone who knows anything about how this White House works and how he works. That I’d sat down with Bill Shine and cooked this, or Trump. It’s truly absurd.
Pre-planning is not their strong suit, among other things.
There’s not a lot of 4-D chess going on.
20-D checkers. To that end, we’ve talked about what we have respectively gotten right and wrong. And there’s plenty that we’ve gotten wrong as well over time. But it’s interesting. One of the complaints that I hear about the administration from the administration lately is that increasingly, sort of the tenor of coverage about what is going on internally doesn’t always actually match how they’re experiencing it.
And so it’s gotten me thinking about … Well, I think some of that is because, you know, Trump has this effect on people where they are sort of the frog boiling in the water, and they don’t really notice it until the water temperature has changed. But it did get me thinking about what the collective “we” get right and wrong about the arcs of coverage in this administration. What do you think it is that we, the larger we, don’t get quite right about this administration?
Well, I think Mark Leibovich wrote a very amusing piece recently about the mood piece, the Trump mood piece.
Presidential mood rings.
And you know, that the private fuming, “according to people familiar with the private fumes.”
The fumes beat.
I’ve written a “privately fuming” …
We’ve all written fumes beat. We’ve all worked the fumes beat.
Right, right. I’ve worked them. So I don’t think that he is in this constant state of steam coming out of his ears at all. In fact, the opposite. Like when I talk to people who have spent time with him in the private dining room, he’s usually very relaxed.
And can be very charming, which surprises people.
Oh, totally. Of course. Sometimes those pieces are just way, way over done, and create a sense of the … The other is this sort of “chaos in the West Wing” genre, because it creates a sense that people are running around with their hair on fire. It’s actually this pretty sedate place. Unless you’re in that circle around Trump, unless you’re in the room with Trump when he’s riffing.
Yes, in the room or in the outer Oval.
Or in the outer Oval. I remember someone telling me that when Trump fired Comey, and this is someone who was in the West Wing at the time, they weren’t that far from the Oval. And Trump fires Comey, and they’ve just seen him just before it, and everything seems kind of normal. And they go back to the desk, look up the TV and it says “Comey fired,” and they’re sitting there going, “Wait, this happened like 20 feet from me?” And everyone was just sort of sitting there going, “Oh, okay, I guess we have to respond to this now.”
So “chaos,” in a way, is correct because there isn’t normal process, and normal processes are totally inverted by the president. But I guess the sense of chaos is not always there. It’s people sort of sitting around going, “Oh!” Mostly just not even knowing what’s going on.
I think he is very good at compartmentalizing his own stuff and other people perhaps can’t compartmentalize it the same way and just get used to the noise.
I think the other thing that is sort of wrong is like … “What are they saying in the West Wing about Russia?” It’s like, they don’t talk about it.
That is 100 percent true.
I mean, the idea that they’re all sitting around going, “Oh, is Manafort gonna …” That’s just not something that is discussed.
We don’t have much time left. So I just want to talk a bit about how you do your current job. You described yourself earlier as a mediocre writer, which was either admirable candor or being incredibly hard on yourself, but since I don’t see your raw copy, I don’t know. But one of the things that Axios specializes in obviously is what you guys would describe as smart brevity. Do you ever want to write longer pieces? Do you miss writing longer pieces, which the Hill is known for?
I want to write much longer pieces, but not just magazine pieces, but ultimately, books and really deep reporting. Again, there’s a lot of liberation to writing short in certain circumstances, where you don’t need to put in paragraphs of filler with commodity quotes from nameless congressmen. You can just cut to the chase.
But there were some stories that deserve much, much longer treatment, and I absolutely want to do that. If everything goes well and I don’t smoke myself or drink myself to death in the meantime, I’d like to, in like 40 years time, be reporting still and writing, hopefully, books and much longer serious treatments of …
My dream is to pick a topic, pick a war, pick a decision that has consequence and just report the hell out of it for like three years, and just have this really definitive account of something that has really big public import. That would be my dream.
Smoking is not good for you and that’s not going to help you get there.
I try to stop, but they’re so good. Just one at the end of the day, and just sucking that first drag.
Okay. I smoked for a long time. I don’t mean to be reminded of it.
Something I wanted to ask you before, and I want to end on this note, but you had your interview with the president in the middle of a flurry or whatever of interviews that he was doing at that point. He has done a striking number of interviews. It used to be that getting a presidential interview was sort of a big pomp and circumstance event. Do they matter as much as they used to since he gives so many and tends to contradict himself from one to the other?
Technically the answer is probably no, but personally, I mean, hell, I’ll take another one if they’ll let me. I mean, I tried. This was our first on-the-record interview with Trump in the time he was president. Jim and Mike interviewed him just before. I had tried for months. I set one up. It’d taken a long time for January. And then I wrote a story they didn’t like and they canceled the interview. So I was thrilled to have it, and I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a thousand questions I want to ask him.
I think one of the challenges is you want to ask about the news of the day, but it’s just so perishable and he could change his mind after it. There are so many questions that still haven’t been asked that go way beyond the news of the day that I’d love to ask him if I have a chance.
Jonathan, thank you for coming on the podcast, and thanks to all of you listening.
After a years-long pummeling, Microsoft this week surrendered in the browser war, saying that it will junk Edge’s home-grown rendering engine and replace it with Blink, the engine that powers Google’s Chrome.
With Edge pulling code from the Chromium project, the browser will also be able to run on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, as well as macOS.
“We intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers,” wrote Joe Belfiore, a corporate vice president in the Windows group, in a post to a company blog.
Belfiore’s announcement was a stunning humiliation for Microsoft, which in the early years of this century ruled the browser world after Internet Explorer (IE) had obliterated Netscape Navigator and achieved market share in excess of 90%.
Although Edge will survive, it will no longer be a Microsoft-made browser: It will exist as a UI (user interface) wrapper around core technologies developed almost entirely by Google engineers, in the same way Opera has existed since 2013, when it ditched its own internal engine for Chromium’s Blink.
Shed share at record rates
Microsoft cast the decision as affection for, and adoption of, open-source software that would, said Belfiore, lead to an application compatible “with other Chromium-based browsers.” That would “make the web experience better” for users, web developers and corporate IT, he argued.
Not surprisingly, Belfiore declined to mention the poor showing of Edge and the years of user share declines that bled IE white. But taking up Chrome’s rendering engine – dubbed “Blink” when it forked from WebKit in 2013 – was an admission of defeat and a move of desperation.
Microsoft’s troubles were largely of its own making.
In 2014, a year before the debut of Windows 10 and its default browser Edge, Microsoft announced that it would require all Windows users to run the most-recent version of IE, and when that requirement took effect, dropped support of the others. That, combined with the glacial development pace of IE, opened the door for rivals. Millions of Windows users, when faced with a change of browsers, decided to change from IE to Chrome rather than go from one version of IE to another.
From January 2016, when the mandate went into effect, to the end of that year, Microsoft lost an astounding 22 percentage points of user share by the tally of analytics vendor Net Applications. That represented nearly half of IE’s and Edge’s share at the time. No other browser had fallen that far, that fast, in just 12 months. Although the losses weren’t as steep in 2017, Microsoft’s browsers lost an additional 35% of their remaining share that year.
Nor did Edge make up for IE’s fall from grace. The former never caught on with Windows 10 users. At its best, the browser was the first choice of about a third of them, but in November 2018, that had shrunk to approximately one out of every 10.
Microsoft had choices: It could pack it in and refuse to bother building a browser. It could keep on keeping on by continuing to watch Edge’s relevance evaporate. Or it could try to get into the mainstream tent by adopting Chrome’s rendering engine. All three smelled of failure, but the third had the least odor.
Chrome extensions and frequent updates
“Our intent is to align the Microsoft Edge web platform simultaneously (a) with web standards and (b) with other Chromium-based browsers,” Belfiore said Thursday. “This will deliver improved compatibility for everyone and create a simpler test-matrix for web developers.”
Microsoft’s move will do more than that.
By replacing Edge’s rendering engine – named “EdgeHTML” – with Blink, Microsoft’s one remaining browser will be able to access the library of Chrome extensions. That will be welcome to Edge diehards, because the browser’s meager library of add-ons has been a serious point of pain.
Joining Chromium and putting Blink inside Edge will also allow Microsoft to again offer a cross-Windows and cross-platform browser. “Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence,” Belfiore said. “We also expect this work to enable us to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS.”
Microsoft’s timeline for shifting from EdgeHTML to Blink was vague; the company said it would work on the change “over the next year or so” and that a preview would be available in early 2109. How that timetable, and a Chromium-based Edge, would help Windows 7 users is unclear, since the OS is currently set to exit public support in only 13 months: mid-January 2020. The Redmond, Wash. developer may be assuming that significant numbers of Windows 7 PCs will survive support retirement – a near certainty according to usage data – or is hoping that enterprises that pay to extend support beyond 2020 will run Edge rather than Chrome or IE11.
Windows 8.1, the other now-supported OS, is a non-factor: Only about 6% of all Windows PCs rely on the edition.
Detaching Edge from Windows 10 will have another benefit for users, as it will result in new updates, courtesy of Chromium, every six to eight weeks, rather than the twice-annual tempo Edge now follows. As each new version of Chromium is completed – and Chrome comes out with an update – Microsoft will presumably roll that code into its own Edge, as Opera Software now does for Opera, and launch a refresh.
Belfiore said little about what Chromium does for the company, other than keep Edge alive.
One potential benefit, assuming the move halts the decline of the browsers’ share, would be to Bing and the ad revenue generated by Microsoft’s search engine and site. Even with a shrinking browser share, Microsoft has increased Bing revenue by double digits for five consecutive quarters. Increasing browser share would be the simplest way to pull more profit from search.
By piggybacking on Chromium, Microsoft may also be able to reduce the number of engineers working on its browser. While Belfiore said the firm would “become a significant contributor to the (open-source) Chromium project,” its part will almost certainly be smaller than Google’s.
But will the desperate measure work? It’s impossible to know with certainty, but the odds are against Microsoft reclaiming substantial browser share.
Once in decline, a browser just doesn’t come out of its funk. Netscape Navigator did not. Nor has Mozilla’s Firefox stymied the decline which began in 2010. (In November 2018, Firefox had a 9% share, far below the 25% high-water mark in March 2010.) And Opera, which stood at 1.7% when it joined the Chromium project, didn’t turn things around with the change of rendering engines; the latest from Net Applications was Opera at 1.6%.
If you’ve ever tried to print photos from your computer, there’s a good chance you’ve been surprised—if not, disappointed—by how they came out. Let’s look at where you might be going wrong and why photos often look different when you print them.
What Photos Are You Printing?
The first place you might be going wrong is with the very photos you’re trying to print. To get good results you need to use high resolution, original files. The photos that come straight off your smartphone are fine, but the versions you’ve uploaded to Facebook or Instagram aren’t—social media sites compress and downsize images aggressively.
In my test where I uploaded a high resolution, 2.7MB, 5166×3444-pixel file to Facebook and then saved it from my Timeline, I ended up with a 74kb, 960×640-pixel file. That file has just 2.7% of the original image data. It barely looks good on my screen, so there’s no way it’s going to look good printed. Or at least, printed at any size bigger than 3” by 2”.
If you want to print a photo that someone has tagged you in on social media, your best bet is to reach out to them and ask them to send you the high resolution original. If you took the photo, get the original from your phone or camera and print it—not the version you uploaded to Facebook. It’s the only way to get a good print.
How Bright Is Your Screen?
One really common problem with printed images is that, compared to the photo on screen, they look really drab and dark. This is because screens and printed images are fundamentally different things: a screen displays images by directly emitting light while a print reflects the ambient light.
Since a screen is itself a light source, images almost always look much brighter with more vivid colors on screen than they do when they’re printed. Most people have the brightness and saturation cranked up way too high. You have to remember that your screen is only displaying the underlying image data: if your screen is bright it makes the image appear bright but it doesn’t necessarily mean the image is bright in the original file.
Converting what you see on screen to a print is one of the big challenges of high quality photo printing. It takes time and learning from your mistakes to get good at it. I’m still awful at it. A few things you can do are:
What’s Your Printer Setup Like?
Even if you’ve got everything setup perfectly on your computer, if your printer isn’t up to the job you’re still not going to get great prints. Most standard inkjet or laser printers just aren’t designed for printing high quality photos. They’re alright if you want to print off some Powerpoint slides but not if you want something you can actually put on your wall.
If all that sounds a bit much, then you can get your photos printed professionally, which we’ll look at next.
Who’s Doing the Printing?
“Professional” printing is a pretty big category and runs the gamut from terrible to incredible. At the lower end, you’ve got bad shops that will just print any file you hand them for a few dollars. At the high end, you’ve got master craftsmen who’ll print, frame, and mount a five-foot panorama for a few hundred dollars. As I said, the range is wide.
If you’ve got your photos printed by someone towards the lower end of the range, or using a drugstore machine, then it’s normal to expect the prints to come back a little off. The thing to do is look at the prints, assess what’s wrong with them, and then make the edits to the original files and get them printed again. If the photos are too dark, increase the brightness. If they look yellow, fix the white balance. Keep doing this until you get photos that look how you want. It might take a few goes but, since it’s cheap, you won’t break the bank.
On the other hand, if you’re going with a high-end printing shop, just talk to them; they’re the experts. Ask them to review your file and to make a smaller test print. They’ll normally be more than happy to help.
The best middle ground is to go to a camera shop that also prints photos. The staff will be knowledgeable and happy to help or offer advice.
How to Get Better Prints
So that’s some of the common ways the printing process breaks down and doesn’t give you the results you want. To dodge all the pitfalls:
Use high-quality original files.
Make sure your monitor isn’t too bright or too saturated.
If you’re serious, calibrate your monitor.
Edit your images using the histogram.
Get a good printer or use a professional.
Do test prints and then fix any problems.
A Clear Path for the e-Way Bill in Zoho Books — Do you transport goods within your state or across different states in India? To comply with the GST law, you will need a new electronic document in order to transport your goods – the e-Way Bill.
We’re always told never to click on a link we receive in an email in case doing so takes us to some dodgy phishing site where our account details are violated. But what if our email app warned us before we clicked malicious links?
Can this app protect against phishing attempts?
MetaCert isn’t fully available yet, but it does seem to be a promising solution that provides email users in enterprise and consumer markets an additional line of defense against clicking on malicious links received in email messages.
The solution emerged from the developer’s earlier work building an API to help app developers add a layer of security to WebView.
It relies on two principal databases that are regularly updated:
An extensive collection of known phishing email addresses
A collection of known addresses for the services phishers often like to spoof, places like PayPal, online retailers, banks, and so on
In the future, the company will be implementing blockchain technology across its systems — that’s an essential step that should enable users to verify whether websites and emails that are being alerted as threats actually are threats, rather than items accidentally added to the phishing warning lists.
How MetaCert works
When you receive an email, MetaCert will check the message against its databases.
It will then flag emails inside your email app as follows:
A red shield warns the link goes to a known phishing site.
A grey shield states it is unrecognized.
A green means the link should be safe to use.
If you do accidentally click a recognizably malicious link, you will be taken to a warning page before you reach the bad website.
There is a negative side to how the app works, which most users must be certain they understand. This is in order for this to work, the system must analyze your emails, which means messages must pass through MetaCert’s servers.
This process means you must give the service permission to handle your messages, and (on iOS devices) you will be required to create an application-specific password that gives this software permission to access and analyze your messages.
The company says it doesn’t store your emails, but permitting third-party access in this way may be a red flag for some potential users, particularly in regulated industries.
There are other solutions that provide anti-phishing protection, such as those from Avira (which costs a few dollars each month). MetaCert is currently available for free, but it is planned will become a paid service.
You can’t be completely reliant on services like these.
Common sense matters; just because your security system tells you something is safe, it doesn’t mean you should abandon your own scrutiny and common sense.
A grey shield alert doesn’t necessarily mean a link is safe; it means you should double check the link before you click.
Phishing attacks are becoming far more sophisticated, targeted and professional, with approximately 76 percent of enterprises admitting to experiencing them in the past year. Further, the security environment continues to become more complex for both enterprise and consumer users.
Traditional security protection systems such as virus checkers and firewalls are still mandatory, but they are far less effective against the complex attack scenarios prevalent in today’s digital economy.
When it comes to enterprise security, network monitoring, location-based protection and cooperative sharing of security-related datasets are becoming key components of switched-on, 24/7, situation-awareness security protection systems. Within this landscape, MetaCert’s system seems a useful adjunct to existing systems.
I imagine we’ll see this kind of alert-based security systems become components of future operating systems in the future, certainly within those from vendors that actually care about customer security, and privacy, come to that.
On iOS, this new solution works with most email services, including Thunderbird and Apple Mail, with Outlook and Gmail support in development. The company is running a public beta test, so you can test this system for yourself.
Humanity will always be tortured by deep, aching questions. But “where can I find a convenient mug that will keep my drinks hot (or cold) when I’m far away from home?” doesn’t need to be one of them any longer.
If you want to bring your coffee to work, then you’re going to want a container that can keep it at a perfect temperature. But don’t go and reach for a bulky thermos when there’s plenty of affordable, convenient travel mugs that can make your life a whole lot easier. Unlike large, insulated thermoses, travel mugs are convenient to use in the car or at work. They usually run at less than 18 oz, and they can fit in a cup holder. A lot of travel mugs can be used safely with one hand, and some have auto-sealing lids that prevent spillage, even when you’re clumsy.
Travel mugs can also help you save money. Starbucks addicts can save $5 a day bringing their own coffee to work. Just think, most travel mugs will pay for themselves after just a week of use. But if you’re bringing your own coffee to work, you’ll want to find a travel mug that’s especially good at keeping coffee warm. Oh, and maybe you’ll want one that’s easy to clean. Come to think of it, there’s a lot of options in the world of travel mugs. That’s why we’ve taken the time to find the best travel mugs for everybody’s needs.
Thermos Stainless King 16 oz Mug ($20)
If you’re looking for a classic travel mug with a handle, then you should take a look at the Thermos Stainless King. It’s a durable mug that will keep your drinks warm for up to 5 hours (or cool for 10), and it has a lid with drinking holes on both sides, so both right and left-handed people can use this mug.
This Thermos mug has an aperture-styled lid, which most people have probably encountered on other bottles and travel mugs. This style of lid has gained some notoriety for a handful of reasons. They can be kind of leaky, and they can be difficult to clean. Thankfully, Thermos has managed to spare us from these lid nightmares. The lid to the Thermos mug is secure, and it won’t leak when it’s rolling around in a car or thumping around in a bag. It’s also easy to take apart the Thermos’ aperture-styled lid, which makes it reasonably easy to clean.
Stanley Classic Auto-Seal Vacuum Mug ($17)
If you’re looking for an affordable, straightforward travel mug, then you should consider the Stanley vacuum mug. It sports a classic design, and it uses vacuum seal technology to keep your drinks hot for around 6 hours. Not to mention, this mug is easy to open with one hand, and it has the same auto-sealing technology as the Contigo mug, so you don’t have to worry about spilling coffee all over your car or in your bag.
Honestly, the best thing about this mug is its simplicity. Its lid is made of three plastic parts that are large enough to keep track of and easy to clean. There’s no handle or safety lock on this mug, because there’s no way that the small button on the lid will accidentally become depressed in a bag. This Stanley mug is also really easy to drink from, especially when compared to the relatively complicated Thermos mug.
The Stanley mug can keep drinks hot for about 6 hours, which is an hour more than most of our other favorite travel mugs. that extra hour may be huge for people who have long commutes to work, or people who take late breaks.
Contigo Handled Autoseal 16 oz Stainless Mug ($21)
Some people are unusually good at spilling coffee. If you’re one of those people, you should think about getting a Contigo mug. It’s a unique mug that’s built with auto-seal technology, so the only time that liquid can leave this mug is when you’re dumping it into your mouth. How do you dump the liquid in your mouth, exactly? Well, you use your thumb to press the button at the top of the Contigo’s handle. Like the Thermos mug, the Contigo’s lid has an opening on each side, so you can drink from this tumbler whether you’re right or left handed.
Now, this mug may have auto-seal technology, but there’s a chance that the button on top of the handle will get depressed in a bag. Granted, the button would need to be continually depressed to make a big mess, but even a small mess can ruin your day. That’s why the Contigo bottle has safety lock that prevents any liquid from leaving the bottle when it’s engaged. But don’t go thinking that the safety lock over-complicates this tumbler’s design, it’s easy to disengage the safety lock without even looking at the bottle.
Like most of our other favorite travel mugs, the Contigo can keep coffee hot for up to 5 hours, and it can keep drinks cool for 10 hours. It’s also surprisingly easy to take apart and clean, because it isn’t made up of a bunch of small parts.
Zojirushi Stainless 16 oz Travel Mug ($24)
If you’re looking for a travel mug that will keep your drinks hot for an outrageously long time, then you should consider the Zojirushi travel mug. This bottle is made with a vacuum seal technology that keeps liquids from their temperature or their freshness over time. Like a traditionally insulated thermos, the Zojirushi travel mug can keep your drinks hot for up to 12 hours, or cool for 24 hours. But unlike old, bulky thermoses, this mug can be effortlessly opened with one hand. Plus, it can fit in a cupholder.
It’s nice to think about a travel mug that can keep your drink hot for 12 hours, but a lot of people simply don’t need a mug that can retain heat for that long. Most people can drink through 16 oz relatively quickly, especially if they’re driving around or working at a desk. The Zojirushi mug is best for people who want to save money by bringing coffee from home instead of buying one on their break, or for people who tend to parcel a drink throughout the day. Of course, this mug isn’t that expensive, so maybe you should consider it in case you ever need to keep a drink fresh for 12 hours.
Ember 12 oz Temperature Control Travel Mug ($150)
It’s hard to reinvent the wheel. Travel mugs have been around for decades, and they really haven’t gone through a lot of changes. But one idea has nagged at mug-makers for years. “Why don’t we use electronics to keep drinks hot, instead of filling mugs with insulation and gaskets?” It’s a great idea that’s difficult to execute. For one, most electronic mugs are heated up on exposed heating elements, which are easy to burn yourself on, especially if you try to take them on the go. It’s also very easy to burn coffee on a heating element, and it’s difficult to use a rudimentary heating element to keep coffee at a drinkable temperature.
But the Ember is an electronic travel mug that seems to do everything right. It’s a smart, battery powered mug with an internal heating element. It’s easy to take on the go, and you can tell the Ember to maintain a specific temperature through an app on your phone or the dial that’s at the bottom of the mug. Your desired temperature and remaining battery life are displayed on the mug’s LED screen, which looks a lot more sleek than you’d actually think. Oh, it also has a really nice vacuum sealed lid. You press down in the center of the lid to open it, and then you can drink from any angle. In some ways, it’s more convenient than a twist or push-button lid.
Now, this technology is relatively new, and it naturally has a few shortcomings. For one, the Ember mug only has a battery life of 2 hours. That’s less than half as long as some of our favorite travel mugs. To be fair, the Ember mug maintains a precise temperature when it’s in use, which may be worth more to some people than a mug that keeps coffee either too hot or just-warm-enough for 5 hours. You could also dock the Ember mug on it’s charging coaster when in use, which obviously extends the battery life to infinity. Sadly, the charging coaster is too big to fit in a car’s cup holder.
Of course, the OTT future isn’t perfect, and viewers were right to be critical of Hulu after the company’s live subscription service cut off the last climactic moments of the 2018 Super Bowl. It’s one thing to experience buffering during your 15th viewing of “Caddyshack,” but it’s quite another to be a diehard fan watching a live sporting event only to have the coverage end right before the pivotal final moments of the game.
Clearly, sports OTT services will have to overcome growing pains and deliver a reliable viewing experience. Services will have to scale like never before, and everyone from content distributors to network operators and broadcasters alike will face some level of change.
The OTT Future
If OTT is to be the future of streaming TV, all aspects of the experience must be able to scale, including the business processes underlying the subscriber experience. In addition to delivering very low levels of latency, OTT providers must contend with multiple purchase types such as pay-per-view for one-off events and subscription passes for season-long viewing. They’ll also need to accept multiple currencies for a global audience and a slew of payment methods that include credit cards, PayPal, mobile carrier billing, and more. And for major events such as the Super Bowl or World Cup finals, they will need to authenticate and check entitlements for tens of thousands of subscribers each second immediately before the big game.
OTT providers must also put forth a significant effort to combat churn each season and to keep their audience coming back in spite of the growing range of viewing options. To minimize churn, companies will need to come up with smart offers and promotions based on the viewing habits of users. And bundling OTT subscriptions with other services will help ensure it remains a default viewing option.
As live sports streaming is made possible by OTT technologies, sports broadcasters are experiencing declining ad revenue. Instead of controlling coverage with an iron fist, they must compete with new opponents for the rights to broadcast. For example, Amazon offers streaming coverage of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games, and Facebook has exclusive rights to air 25 Major League Baseball games on its platform. By all accounts, the age of the linear-only broadcaster is receding into the past.
Breaking Away From Broadcast
Viewership for broadcast sports has been declining across multiple markets. In 2018, both the Super Bowl in the U.S. and the Olympic Games in South Korea saw fewer viewers than expected, and the NFL’s drop in ratings over the past few years has been widely reported. An increase in options for streaming are a big part of the decline, and there are more ways to watch the NFL for free than ever before.
In addition to streaming Thursday Night Football, Amazon has bought the rights to 10 Premier League soccer matches that will occur over one bank holiday, plus another 10 games occurring during the middle of the week. While 20 games is a far cry from complete coverage in a season that can contain as many as 200, the matches will be the first to be licensed to a company besides Sky or BT, breaking a duopoly that Premier League fans have grown accustomed to. Still, Amazon’s live sports TV streaming service has so far received largely poor reviews, illustrating the difficulties associated with the endeavor.
It’s the “live” part of live sports that presents the greatest challenge. These events include inherently high concurrency because thousands of viewers tune in to each game at the same time from locations around the globe.
Case in point: Turner Sports’ “The Match.” The live, winner-take-all golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson was sold to consumers as a pay-per-view event for $20. It was streamed live via Turner’s Bleacher Report and carried on services including DirecTV, Roku, Comcast, and AppleTV on Nov. 23, 2018. But when it came time for the golfers to tee off, consumers were unable to purchase or log in due to a glitch in the purchase and authentication systems. As a result, a last-minute decision was made to remove the paywall and stream the event for free. Providers have subsequently offered refunds to consumers, resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue.
According to comScore, about 51 million households in the U.S. currently use OTT streaming, and that number is on the rise. Especially when it comes to PPV scenarios, OTT systems with huge, global audiences require the scalability and agility of cloud-based billing and subscriber management software in order to deliver the kind of experience that viewers demand.
OTT streaming is a complex undertaking for providers, but viewers don’t care. They want streaming solutions that allow them to watch their favorite movies, TV shows, and live sporting events from wherever they are, without the expensive broadcast TV packages that are falling by the wayside. Without a doubt, we’re entering an OTT future, but how long this age lasts depends on the efficiency of the business processes surrounding the service.
Vijay Sajja, founder and CEO of Evergent, is a technology industry leader with more than two decades of experience building business and operations support systems for service providers worldwide.
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Instagram has filled one of its most important executive vacancies in an effort to piece together a leadership team that was largely dismantled throughout 2018.
Vishal Shah, a product executive who oversaw Instagram’s shopping efforts, ad products and its IGTV video service, has been promoted to head of product for all of Instagram, according to sources. That was the same job held by Adam Mosseri, who currently runs Instagram, until he was promoted following the departure of the company’s two co-founders this fall.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the promotion and sent Recode the following statement from Mosseri:
I am thrilled that Vishal Shah is Instagram’s new Head of Product. Vishal is an experienced manager with deep product knowledge who lives out Instagram’s values of people first, simplicity, and craft. He is a great addition to our leadership team and I look forward to working with him in this new role.
It’s been a quietly tumultuous year for Instagram leadership — quiet because Instagram’s executive changes have been overshadowed by its parent company Facebook, which has some kind of public crisis virtually every week.
Instagram’s heads of product and engineering left for a newly formed Facebook blockchain team in May, its COO took a promotion at Facebook in September and its co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, left abruptly later that month. Mosseri, who was promoted to run all of Instagram two months ago, has been looking to fill open head of product, head of engineering and COO roles just six months after joining Instagram himself.
Shah’s promotion takes care of at least one of those openings — an important one made all the more important by Systrom’s departure. As Instagram’s co-founder and a detail-obsessed designer, Systrom was very hands-on with the app. He famously approved every single Instagram ad when the company first started selling them. Systrom’s departure led to some concern externally that the Instagram app could get messed up in the wrong hands.
Facebook can’t let that happen considering Instagram has become arguably the company’s most important product. The photo- and video-sharing app will soon account for a sizable part of Facebook’s revenue growth, and also drives users back to the main Facebook app. Plus, it keeps Facebook connected to younger people online, and has helped the company fend off a potential threat in Snapchat.
It’s possible that promoting Shah, who has been at Instagram almost four years, instead of bringing in a new head of product from Facebook might help alleviate some of that frustration.
As part of Shah’s promotion, Ashley Yuki, a product manager who oversaw video on Instagram, including IGTV, will take over Shah’s old role. Mosseri hopes to have a new head of engineering and a new COO in place by early next year.