Everpix Post-Mortem (or, Why Every VC in the Valley Has His Head Up His Ass)

I really miss Everpix. They had this sorted out perfectly, in my opinion. All my photos, from everywhere, backed up, to everywhere, and available, everywhere. With that lovely Flashback email every day to put a smile on my face and show me pics I usually had not seen in ages.

There’s some competitors out there, like Loom or PictureLife, but they haven’t nailed it as well as Everpix did.

This app’s death, which was bluntly and correctly attributed by its founders to an inability to attract enough venture capital to keep it running until a self-sustaining mass of subscriber revenue was achieved, points to my big fuckin’ problem with the current VC culture in tech.

Unlike every other VC-blessed startup, Everpix already had a revenue, and a long-term revenue model. I happily paid for it. Many, many other people were as well. And we were happily evangelizing the shit out of the service (particularly John Gruber over at Daring Fireball, who loved the service, too, and is how I heard about it).

They just needed enough VC to carry them over until that evangelizing brought in enough users to keep it going. And we’re talking pretty small potatoes compared to the usual amount of money sought out by startups.

They weren’t spending their revenue on foosball tables or expensive marketing launch parties.

They weren’t building some bullshit “social” app that combined Twitter with Snapchat to find like-minded dog lovers within 50 meters of you via bluetooth (revenue model to be defined later [read: never]).

Most importantly AND damagingly, their goals were pretty modest. Nobody was going to make Instagram or What’sApp money on Everpix.

So, naturally, VC’s weren’t interested. Which fucking sucks, because this app a) filled an actual need, b) filled it VERY FUCKING WELL in a way that no one else has managed to replicate yet and c) well, goddammit, I just liked it a ton.

Maybe their actual VC pitch sucked dog balls or something, I wasn’t there so I don’t know. What I do know is that, when a product that’s already making good money and has a clear plan for how to make more and just needs time to get there can’t attract ANY investors, but every jerkoff app that is “social” but has absolutely no monetization plan beyond “I dunno, we’ll put ads in it someday” and is currently generating ZERO revenue can get 2-3 million in funding without even breaking a sweat, there is a problem with how this industry is funding itself.

If I ever come into a few million bucks I don’t need, Item One on my “I’m Rich!” bucket list is to find the guys who own the Everpix IP and make them a damned fine offer to start it up again, because that this app died a premature death is bullshit.

The Nexus 7 Android Tablet: No.

I firmly believe that Android smartphones, at least the high-end ones, have pretty much caught up to iPhones as far as feature parity and ease-of-use go, and that deciding between one ecosphere or the other is a mere matter of personal preference. I like my HTC One as much as I like my iPhone 5, and they each are pretty good at everything, while excelling at one or two things compared to each other. It’s a wash.

So, when I recently decided that I wanted a retina-screened tablet of small size, I didn’t immediately discount Android tablets. Particularly since Apple’s iPad doesn’t come in a Mini + Retina configuration. My wife loves her iPad 4, but it’s just too big for how I like to hold it in bed and read. I have a Mini, which is great, but the low-res screen just bugs the fuck outta me, particularly when I’m reading all day on it. And it has a few hairline cracks in the screen (this is me poorly rationalizing buying a new tablet in the first place, btw).

The Google Nexus 7, 2013 edition, has gotten mostly rave reviews, and the price can’t be beat, being over a hondo cheaper than even the smallest iPad Mini. I read something like twenty fuckin’ reviews of the thing, and all of them assured me that I would love the lil’ fucker.

All of these reviews were wrong.

Right off the bat, the proportions of this thing are just fuckin’ WRONG. I use tablets almost entirely for reading, mostly long-form. The screen is WAY too tall for how narrow it is. Reading anything on this thing is like reading a fuckin’ Chick tract (Google it if you don’t know, and prepare to lose a few hours, because that shit’s HILARIOUS). Pamphlet-sizing just doesn’t work when I’m reading, well, books.

Secondly, the app I use the most is the Amazon Kindle app. To be blunt, the Android tablet version of this app bloooooooooowwwwwwws. And primarily for just one reason: it doesn’t let you completely hide the Android Notification Bar up top. It removes everything BUT the clock and battery indicator icon, and dims those, but it doesn’t allow you to make them go away entirely, even though this is perfectly possible in the iOS and Kindle Fire versions of the app.

The LAST thing I want to HAVE to see when I’m trying to sink balls-deep into a book is a clock. Second on that list would be: an ever-shrinking battery indicator. I know the OS allows the notification bar to be hidden, and Amazon obviously knows how to make the app do that in other operating systems, so I have no idea why it’s not done here.

While the stock apps are generally okay, in their Googly way, some of ‘em kinda blow. Looking at you, non-Gmail email app.

Third-party apps are very hit and miss. Second to the Kindle app in terms of how much time I spend in it is Words With Friends, the Scrabble clone that has basically made Scrabble itself a distant memory. The Android phone versions of this app have always been kinda shoddy compared to the native iOS versions, and the same holds true in the tablet realm with the added insult that it’s not even a true tablet app, it’s just a poorly-scaled version of the already-shitty phone app. The experience in this app on iOS vs. Android is remarkably worse.

None of the Twitter clients are particularly good, and the best of the Android Twitter clients (Carbon, Falcon Pro) do not have tablet versions. So that sucks.

So… even though the price was great (well over a hondo cheaper than my iPad Mini), the hardware is well-built (even if the aspect ratio is just BLEAUGH) and the core OS itself is decent, I couldn’t last a week with the thing. While I often find myself torn between using an Android phone or an iPhone, there’s absolutely no such internal debate when it comes to choosing between the Nexus 7 or my Mini, even given the latter’s really fuzzy, low-res screen. I reach for the Mini, every time.

And, yesterday, Apple announced a Retina version of the Mini, so I can thankfully just buy that and pretend that Android tablets, even the very best of them, don’t exist at all.

Let’s Just Fuck It All Up

So, Congress currently has a 5-9% approval rating, depending on which poll you distrust least. Congress can’t pass a budget, can’t govern… I personally don’t know anyone who’s happy with how the government is currently (not) working. Yet, come next election, nearly everyone is going to vote Democrat, Republican, or not at all. Again. For about the 110th straight year.

Why?

If 90+% of us agree, regardless of personal ideology, that the current system is dysfunctional garbage, why do we continue to replicate it every 2-4-6 years? “Oh, Third Party candidates can’t win, man.” “Vote for Nader/Perot/LaRouche? Why not just set my ballot on fire?” Etc., and so on. That’s the consensus and therefore we repeat the tired cycle every election.

Sooooo… maybe it’s time to say “fuck it” and just vote for whoever is the non-Republican and/or non-Democrat on whatever ballot is in front of you. Just to try it. Maybe four years of having a Green Party administration fight it out vs. a Libertarian Congress would actually produce better results than what we’ve been getting. We’ve already agreed that it can’t possibly be worse. Wouldn’t watching a Communist candidate fight it out for election to a Senate seat versus an old school LaRouchie be, well, entertaining as fuck? Even if the resulting Congress critter totally vaporlocks and gets jack shit done, how would that be different from what we have today? At this point, wouldn’t even a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT gridlock be preferable to the twentieth straight year of hard-right vs. hard-left ” but we both agree that all the money should go to Big Business” faux-debate?

I think so. And I think it’s time we vote for LITERALLY ANYTHING other than a Democrat or Republican. Commie running for Congress? Have my vote, Comrade. Secessionist running for a Senate seat? I wish you all the luck (and my vote) when it comes to the successful founding of the Republic of You and Me (And I’m Not That Sure About You Anymore). Let’s do this, America. Let’s take the 2014 Midterms, the 2016 Presidential Election, and just basically vote for straight-up chaos. We don’t need some backwoods armed resurrection or mobs in the street… just vote, legally, and not for a candidate from either major party. Anybody else at all. It can’t possibly end up worse than what we’ve been suffering under for decades now.

Adventures In New Vehicular Assholery: The Opposite Turn Signal

I was going to write this off as an honest mistake by one driver but I’ve seen three different drivers pull this move this week alone, so I’m thinking it’s an on-purpose dick move instead of something accidental.

Dude will be driving in a lane. His left turn signal will come on. And he’ll make a right turn.

What the fuck?

Did, like, the biggest asshole drivers just start collectively deciding that “Y’know… the “not signaling at all thing” has been working well for me in terms of being a huge dickhead on the road, but it’s feeling a little overdone… stale… how can I up my asshole game here? SNAP! I KNOW!”????

I think we’ve all come to begrudgingly accept that 90% of the drivers on the road are fuckin’ shitstains and treat signaling like they do basic human decency: with barely concealed contempt. I’m actually made _happy_ when I see proper signal usage these days; a small frisson of joy travels through me as I realize that not EVERYBODY has given up on being a decent human being.

But THIS… this is epic driving trollery. “Ha-ha, not only will I _NOT_ give you any indication as to my actual intentions, such as proper signaling, I’m going to give you ERRONEOUS indications! Left-hard signal BAM! I move RIGHT into your lane!!!! Hope you got good brakes or better insurance, you law-abiding tool!”.

This ties the “make my own left-hand turn lane” move in my mind for Peak Shitheadedness. It’s just SO unsafe, and SO contrary to every principle of good driving that I have to believe it’s an intentional asshole move instead of an honest mistake.

Eagerly (not) looking forward to the next escalation, which will probably just be plowing head-on into opposing traffic with un-seatbelted orphans in the back seat.

iOS7: This Is the Only New Feature I Care About

I like iOS7. A lot. I’ve been using it since the first beta came out, and it’s the breath of fresh air that iOS has needed for a few years now. My wife’s iPhone 5 is still running iOS6 and it just feels kind of old and clunky compared to mine, even though, hardware-wise, they’re the exact same goddamned phone.

There are plenty of other sites doing full, in-depth reviews of the new OS and the changes and blah de fuckin’ blah. The only new feature I care about is this:

See that? Nested Newsstand, Motherfuckers!

See that? Nested Newsstand, Motherfuckers!

If you’re as OCD as me about how your phone looks, Newsstand has been infuriating since its introduction:

me: “I will never use this app. Can I delete it?”

Apple: “No.”

me: “Can I at least bury it in my FUCK THIS folder alongside the Stocks and Video apps?”

Apple: “No.”

me: “Well… why the fuck not, motherfucker?”

Apple: “It’s not technically an app, it’s already a folder itself that gives you access to newsstand apps”.

me: “You realize that, like, absofuckinglutely NO ONE will see it that way and will just hate this little piece of shit?”

Apple: “We do. We also don’t care as we’re too busy sleeping on piles of cold, hard cash. You’ll deal with it”.

me: “Goddammit”

So, fucking Newsstand got parked on it’s own, otherwise-empty homescreen on my iPhones, where it just fucking irked the shit out of me. I knew, thanks to the two little dots at the bottom of each homescreen that let me know there WAS another screen, that it was there, and it was CAUSING CLUTTER.

You can ask my wife how well I handle clutter. Hint: not very.

So, thank you, Apple, for finally seeing the error of your ways and rectifying this horrible mistake. I don’t know anyone that actually USES Newsstand (I tried, for my Automobile magazine subscription, and it just… never worked. Seriously. Never managed to read Page fucking One of a magazine via that app), so, if we can’t delete it, at least we can now hide it in the freshly and wonderfully endless folders available in iOS7. This phone could call me a fuckin’ asshole every time I unlocked it and I still would love it just for this one new feature.

App Recommendation: Everpix

I rarely pimp for specific apps, but I’ve been enjoying this one so much and it solves a long-standing data management problem of mine, so I figured I’d give it a shout out to the three of you that read this thing regularly in the hopes that you’ll pick it up yourself.

The app is a photo management app. This is a very crowded space both on the internet and in the smartphone world; everybody wants to make sure they never lose a picture, they want them all backed up to cloud services and available everywhere, etc., and so on. And, to be honest, that particular set of problems has been solved over and over by a variety of companies: Flickr, Dropbox, iCloud w/Photostream, G+ Pix/Picasa, Skydrive, 500px… basically all of these services do a decent job of getting pics from your phone or computer synced up to their own clouds and to whatever range of devices they support.

So why was I unhappy with all of them and constantly rotating between them, uploading each pic I have to 3-5 services at any given time? Well, once the pic is securely stored… now what?

Honestly, how often do you look back through your pictures once they’re safely uploaded off your device to the “cloud” somewhere? Never? Maybe once in a blue moon when you’re switching services or someone asks you for a specific pic?

What good is it to have these pics available everywhere at any time if you never actually look at them?

Enter Everpix. It’s a website, service, and iOS/Android application for photo management. In terms of what it is, it’s a photo management and backup service much like all the rest; auto-upload pics from your phones and/or computer, view them in the cloud, nice interface to view them by time or (this is kinda neat) their algorithm that automatically sorts each pic by whether or not it’s a pic of food, travel, people, etc… good stuff executed well, but nothing we haven’t all seen before from other services.

The killer feature?

It’ll email you, once a day, a selection of the best photos from that day in years past.

That’s it. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is, but nobody else does it and I’ve been loving the shit out of it. It’s a nice starter to each day to get a quick (it’s usually no more than 3-10 pics) reminder of past events that you considered important enough to snap a picture of. It compels one to actually revisit their huge store of pictures rather than just worry about archiving them and never visiting them again.

I’ve been reminded of events I had completely forgotten about, forwarded the email to my wife where she also thoroughly enjoyed the memory, put up websites for friends with pics from anniversaries of _theirs_ from years past so they can enjoy and relive it (and they have)… it’s just a simple yet wonderful little thing.

Four years ago today, for example, a good friend of mine got married. I had no clue today was his anniversary until I got my daily Everpix email, which highlighted the best pics we took on that day. It was a lovely few minutes over coffee looking through pics of a happy event where an awful lot of my friends were together celebrating something awesome.

It’s also pretty damned smart about picking out the best pics. I probably took 40-50 damn pics that day, most of which weren’t that great, picture-wise. The email Everpix sent me picked about the four best of the bunch. Nice.

If you really like the events it reminds you of, you can easily click from the reminder email photospread to your full archive of that day at the main Everpix site to go through the larger stash if you wish. I usually don’t, since it does a great job of just picking the most evocative handful for the email itself.

They call this feature “Flashback”, and from the app or site you can very easily share any given Flashback via email, Facebook, Twitter, all the usual suspects.

Pricing-wise, their free account will always hold the most recent 12 months of your pics, which, yes, limits the utility of Flashback but certainly lets you see what the service is about. I pay an annual $49 and it backs up EVERYTHING. I have no issues with the cost.

I still leave my Dropbox auto-photo-backup on just because that’s my canonical “STORE ALL OF MY BITS, PLEASE” service but I’ve gotten rid of every other photo service I have. I don’t backup to the Goog anymore, Skydrive apps have been uninstalled from my phones and computers… Everpix is that sweet.

So, if you’re a sentimental twat like me, go ahead and give it a whirl.

How Often Can the World Change, Anyways?

Ah, yes. Another post-Jobs Apple Event, another wave of tech journos rolling their eyes and yawning out some linkbait about how innovation is dead at Apple and there’s nothing new under the sun.

I’ve got to wonder: what the fuck COULD possibly impress these guys at this point? What would impress ME?

The fundamental problem is: you can only invent the iPhone _once_. It was the most revolutionary device to be released since the original personal computer (which lacked both a singular moment of release as well as an Internet to be jaded about it shortly thereafter, so it doesn’t quite carry the same impact as a specific event such as the original iPhone release does). I can’t even picture what might have the sea change impact as that first iPhone reveal did; a few years ago, I might’ve suggested something like Google Glass, but the expensive, elite-centric pre-release and our era’s increasing concerns regarding invasive tech and data security have rendered that sort of thing more the badge of The Narcissistic Asshole than something world-changing.

I watched the original 2007 Apple iPhone Keynote after the event yesterday and even six years later the sense of “WHOA, this is world-changing” is still palpable. Steve took us from a world where even the best cell phone was basically a shitty, small analog of the desktop phone as it had existed for a hundred years with some computer-y features poorly and barely grafted on to, basically, Star Trek. The iPhone was Kirk’s communicator and Picard’s workslate all wrapped up into one even smaller device, and delivered a few centuries ahead of schedule.

I have no idea what could possibly have a similar impact as that Keynote; honestly, a cure for cancer or a car that runs on a cheap pill instead of gas or electricity are about the two that come to mind. This may sound hyperbolic, but the iPhone quite literally put the entire Internet in the palm of our hands, and that’s still, when we slow down enough to think about, pretty fucking amazing.

So, even though I admit to feeling a slightly wistful pang at the end of each Apple Event now at the lack of truly revolutionary reveals, I do not automatically translate that into the “Apple sucks since Steve died”, “Tim Cook is a fraud!” or “Google’s gonna destroy these clowns now!” that floods the Internet after, well, every Apple Event now. For fuck’s sake, it’s been six years and yet one can buy a top-tier, new Android device _today_ that somehow STILL lacks a proper Visual Voicemail implementation.

Apple blew minds in 2007. That doesn’t, nay, CAN’T happen every year. Rather than bemoan it or, worse, disparage the efforts of everyone still busily beavering away on the endless polishing and improving of that revolutionary device from that world-changing day,revel in the fact that you live in the goddamned future.