Connect with us

Culture

De cuando Plutón dejó de ser un planeta

Published

on

de cuando plutón dejó de ser un planeta supnews
Imagen de WikiImages en Pixabay

Desde su descubrimiento en 1930 por Clyde Tombaugh del Observatorio Lowell de Arizona, Plutón fue considerado el noveno planeta. Aunque a partir de 2006 ya no ostenta más tal denominación porque ha sido ‘degradado’ a “planeta enano”. Dicha decisión la tomó la Unión Astronómica Internacional (IAU – siglas en inglés), el máximo ente mundial de la materia.

 

El ‘antiguo’ último integrante del sistema solar siempre estuvo bajo sospecha debido a su pequeño tamaño. Su radio (1140 Km) es menor que la mitad del radio de Mercurio, el más pequeño de los planetas conocidos previamente. Incluso es inferior al radio de la Luna terrestre (1738 Km). Sin embargo, el tamaño no es un factor diferencial al momento de categorizar a un elemento del sistema solar.

 

¿Cuáles son los criterios distintivos de un ‘planeta verdadero’ (full-size)?

La IAU estableció los parámetros de clasificación sobre los tipos de planeta en la Asamblea General de Praga. El evento fue llevado a cabo entre el 14 y el 25 de agosto de 2006. Allí determinaron que las características de un ‘planeta verdadero’ son:

 

  1. Está en órbita alrededor del Sol.
  2. Posee suficiente masa para asumir un equilibrio hidrostático (con una forma más o menos redonda).
  3. Está “libre de vecinos” en su órbita.

 

La Librería del Congreso estadounidense (2017), describe cómo Plutón solo cumple con los dos primeros enunciados. “Durante los billones de años que ha vivido allí no se las ha arreglado para limpiar su vecindario”. Esto es importante porque significa que no es dominante desde el punto de vista gravitatorio. En cambio, actualmente se cree que forma parte del llamado cinturón de Kuiper.

 

El cinturón de Kuiper y ‘el hombre que mató a Plutón’

Se trata de un espacio tras-neptuniano descubierto en 1992 por los astrónomos del Observatorio de la Universidad de Hawái. Allí varios objetos estelares congelados comparten la región. Luego, en 2003 el profesor Mike Brown del Instituto Tecnológico de California descubrió Eris, un planeta enano ligeramente mayor que Plutón. Y estaba junto con otros cuerpos similares en el cinturón de Kuiper.

En consecuencia, los astrónomos comenzaron a sospechar que más allá de Neptuno existen más ‘planetoides’ como Eris. Por ello ahora Brown es apodado en el gremio como “el hombre que mató a Plutón”. Otro elemento relevante que ‘le restó categoría’ al cuerpo celeste es la forma de su órbita.

 

Inicialmente se calculó su distancia al Sol en 40 unidades astronómicas (separación media entre La Tierra y el astro rey). Asimismo, con ciclos de traslación estimados en unos 243 años terrestres. Pero su movimiento elíptico es tan poco circular que en ocasiones se encuentra más cerca del Sol que Neptuno.

 

Para los astrónomos es más práctico dejar el número de planetas en ocho, por ahora…

Bajo la antigua forma de clasificar planetas solo se tomaban en cuenta las características físicas, no el entorno. El ‘problema’ para los astrónomos surgió cuando los avances tecnológicos permitieron una mejor observación del cosmos. En consecuencia, desde hace dos décadas se han descubierto cada vez más cuerpos celestes que elevaría (como mínimo) a doce el número de planetas.


TAMBIÉN TE PUEDE INTERESAR:

¿Neil Armstrong murió por negligencia?


De esta manera, objetos como Ceres -en el cinturón de asteroides entre Marte y Júpiter- también serían catalogados como planetas. Entonces, los expertos en astronomía de todo el mundo vivirían en una discusión permanente. Un número de planetas en constante revisión es una situación poco práctica, especialmente al momento de definir textos didácticos.

 

Después de la resolución de la Unión Astronómica Internacional, ¿el debate está cerrado?

Los astrónomos mexicanos Rodríguez y Mercaide (2006) detallan el alcance de las conclusiones de la IAU. “La modificación aportada por la resolución que más impactó al público es la de considerar a Plutón como un ‘planeta enano’. La clasificación de ‘planeta’ queda de este modo reservada para los ocho planetas descubiertos antes del siglo XX: Mercurio, Venus, Tierra, Marte, Júpiter, Saturno, Urano y Neptuno. 

 

Objetos como Ceres, Plutón, Caronte (su satélite) y UB313 (Eris) pasan a ser ‘planetas enanos’. Mientras que todos los otros cuerpos, que no sean ‘planetas’ o ‘planetas enanos’, serán conocidos desde ahora como” cuerpos pequeños del Sistema Solar”. Los satélites de planetas, como la Luna, continuarán siendo conocidos como tal.” ¿Esto significa que el debate está cerrado?

De ninguna manera. En 2015 la sonda New Horizons de la NASA reveló que Plutón es mucho más grande y complejo de lo que se pensaba. Por esta razón, Alan Stern (investigador principal) instó a la IAU a invalidar la resolución de 2006. Al respecto declaró a CNN “si La Tierra estuviese a la distancia de Plutón, tampoco sería planeta bajo esos criterios”. El actual estatus de Plutón está lejos de ser definitivo.

Culture

TikTok might leave China to allay security concerns

Published

on

tiktok-might-leave-china-to-allay-security-concerns

TikTok is facing bans and probes all over the world, and most of them are pointing to their Chinese roots. Now, to put these concerns at rest, the app’s parent company, Bytedance, is considering moving the headquarters out of China to establish a more global identity.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Bytedance is planning a corporate structure overhaul. Apart from moving the head office out of China, it’s also considering creating a new management board for the short video app.

This is not entirely surprising, given TikTok is — or at least it was before the Indian ban and Hong Kong pull out — one of the fastest-growing apps across the world. Plus, it had already sowed seeds to push its global image by hiring former Disney executive Kevin Mayer to head international operations in May.

After India, more governments across the world are thinking of banning TikTok. Earlier this week, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said that the government is certainly ‘looking at’ barring Chinese apps including TikTok. Australia has also expressed concerns over privacy and security given the app’s Chinese roots.

TikTok might have to act quickly to show the world that it’s truly a global app and put security concerns at rest.

Pssst, hey you!

Do you want to get the sassiest daily tech newsletter every day, in your inbox, for FREE? Of course you do: sign up for Big Spam here.

Continue Reading

Culture

How today’s best business software goes viral

Published

on

By

how-today’s-best-business-software-goes-viral

Capiche is a secret society for SaaS power users, building a new community of people who care about software to make the SaaS industry more transparent, together. This piece was written by Matthew Guay, Capiche‘s founding editor and former senior writer at Zapier.

When Jiro dreams of sushi, you’d hardly imagine him slicing sashimi with an ordinary, dull knife. Nor would you expect Usain Bolt to cross the finish line in shoes you could pick up at an outlet, the London Symphony Orchestra to grab the cheapest violins at the local music store, or Ford to take on Ferrari and win the Le Mans with any random car.

Experts use expert tools. Rigorously tested, finely tuned, carefully built to perform at the highest levels. They’re crafted, built for the most demanding audiences.

Then those best features trickle down, until yesterday’s best is today’s ordinary. In humanity’s pursuit of the best, we build better things, then mass-market them to fund the next best thing.

Along the way, the best, ideal versions of those tools become icons, symbols of victory. You might not need the absolute best shoe, the fastest car, the sharpest knife for your work. But wouldn’t you like the perfection they represent to rub off on your work? And so the best tools become status symbols. The watch that ticked on the moon makes you think you, too, could shoot for the moon, that you’re someone who needs the most exacting tools.

Now it’s happened to software.

Software was the great equalizer. “All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good,” said Andy Warhol, and the same went for software. Gmail works the same on a $200 Chromebook or $2000 MacBook. Excel can track a $1,000 budget or a $100 million portfolio equally well.

But what if software could be better, crafted specifically for the professionals who need it most? How much would the people who email the most benefit from an email app that made them 10% faster? What would investors pay for a chat app specifically for finance? How many researchers would rebuild their libraries in a better notes app?

Thus positional software, an emerging category of software built for expert users with a focus on design and collaboration, adopted bottom-up in organizations, and often priced at a premium compared to existing category leaders. Similar to positional goods, highly valued items that showcase status, positional software are tools people aspire to use, either as experts in their industry or to position themselves as such.

The editor wars

The first best software was built by programmers, for programmers.

One team at MIT wanted a better text editor, and built Emacs. Another at Berkley wanted the same thing, and built Vi. The former was so customizable, it could be anything: An IDE, an email app, even your psychiatrist. The latter was so simple, it looked like nothing at first, with arcane commands required just to edit text.

Yet there was magic in both approaches. Each text editor was powerful enough to give developers superpowers, customizable enough to keep them from reinventing the wheel again, opinionated enough to build a following.

To this day, preferring Vim or Emacs labels you, puts you in a certain class of developers who are picky about their tools, willing to invest time in learning obscure features, and far less willing to consider switching to other tools.

They’re positional software.

The best software for each job

As software ate the world, developers weren’t the only ones demanding the best in software. When everyone’s work is done through software, everyone could use better tools to work at peak performance.

There have always been better tools, software that hit a higher bar. Niche software, things others in the same role and industry might know and tell each other about, but that would be hidden from the wider public. In the grand tradition of Vim and Emacs, they were often cryptic tools with steep learning curves, tools that made sense to invest time to learn if you used them all day, but that wasn’t worth the effort otherwise. Only those who truly need them would aspire to use them.

Then something switched. The best software became the most popular, aspirational tools that people built their identity around and wanted to use. What cooking shows and documentaries did for knives and premium ingredients happened to software.

Today’s Positional Software required a few ingredients of their own to happen:

Used in public

Email software was perhaps the first mass-market tool where you could earn credibility based on the software you used.

Hotmail got the idea right first. Offer free email when few others did, and add a signature to the bottom of every email that suggested you, too, could get free email. That made it one of the first viral software, a trick both the iPhone and Superhuman copied with an email signature that told recipients what sent your message.

Public use is what made software convey mass-market status. You neither gained nor lost credibility by, say, checking email on Outlook Express or Emails or Apple Mail; few knew the difference. Your email address’ domain, on the other hand, announced your software choice to the world, drew a line in the sand, gave you a digital identity.

Positional software uses Hotmail’s trick, letting the world know you use something different, something better. Superhuman indicates it with an email signature; Hey forces you to get a new email address to make sure no one misses it. Figma’s share links, Notion’s public pages, Typeform’s embeds, and Slack’s invites do the same—everyone you work with sees the software you use, and has to use it, too, if they want to collaborate. The Bloomberg terminal was an early example: If you wanted to chat with other traders, you needed Bloomberg. Even less visible software—modern equivalents of Vim and Emacs—can be used in public if you let the world know on social media, something most common with the most opinionated software.

The halo can wear off. You switched to Hotmail to save money, not specifically for a better tool, so with time a Hotmail, Yahoo, Aol, or Juno email address signified you were behind the curve. A Hey email address, today, might say you’re ahead. It’s a delicate balance, one exclusivity helps extend into a moat.

Exclusive

Free email is enticing. Free email only few can get, even more.

Gmail’s launch on April Fools’ Day, 2004, with a better web app and far more storage—leaps over the two things that set Hotmail apart in the first place. Gmail added something to the equation that made it even more desirable: Invitations. Only a thousand people could get in at first, and those could each invite a few friends. That let Google scale the service up over time, and gave a free Gmail account the cachet of an expensive luxury good, enough that people sold Gmail invites on eBay for over $150.

Invite-only bought Google time to perfect Gmail, a trick Google extended by keeping Gmail in beta for the first 5 years it was available. But the real success was in the viral word-of-mouth as everyone wanted an invite to use Google’s latest software.

Exclusivity speeds up the process of waiting for influential users to promote the product. Imagine Gmail without an invite system; some might mention using it, far more would use it without talking about it. The invite system made it exciting when you get to start using Gmail, making you more likely to talk about it—and for your colleagues and friends to ask you for an invite.

Add social media to the mix, and exclusive, invite-only software can quickly make a new product seem far more desirable. You just need to get people influential in the niche your software targets to use the software in public, sharing what they like about it, and the invite requests will start to come in.

Invite-only on its own isn’t enough; the initial buzz around Google’s later launch of Google Wave didn’t keep that product afloat. But it does add allure to software. Today, invite-only is a key launch strategy for everything from Superhuman (still invite-only) to Clubhouse (with an even more locked down invite system), Hey (invite-only for the first couple weeks) to Linear (invite-only while in beta).

Invite-only starts the sharing process. The real work-in-public, though, comes from collaborative software.

Built for you, then your team

The best software in the world doesn’t help if you can’t use it.

When IT teams mandated what software you could use, there was no reason to seek out better tools. Better to invest in getting the most out of the software they authorized.

Then two major things changed. Companies started switching to bring-your-own-device policies, giving you more freedom over the computer and thus software you use, making bring-your-own-software possible. Then, web apps freed software from IT constraints, making new software only a new tab away.

You didn’t have to use older desktop software. You could use the new best-in-breed software in your browser.

These web apps weren’t just utilities you’d use on your own. Increasingly, modern software was built to work together with a team. Perhaps you’d try Slack during a hackathon or with a group of people from your industry. You’d enjoy it, think your team would like it too, and so would go to slack.com and make a new team, and invite your colleagues. The exclusivity appeal would take over again, as others in your company would want into the cool new app, and before you knew it, Slack had swept through your company.

Google Docs didn’t need everyone to switch. It just needed influential writers in your team to start using it for collaborative edits, then to share the document links, and it’d grow from there. Airtable did the same to databases, Figma to design tools, Notion to notes. They were enough better to make the most choosy users switch, got them to work in public, and that sparked bottom-up adoption throughout the company.

But first, the product needed to be enough better to get that first tranche of users to switch.

Opinionatedly different

Here’s to the crazy ones,” said the classic Apple ad. “They see things differently.” That is the defining feature of positional software. They force you to work differently.

Gmail removed folders from email, prioritized an Archive button over delete, forced you to use tags if you wanted to file messages. Typeform showed only one form question at a time. Superhuman hid most buttons, opting to prioritize keyboard shortcuts and the command palette. Figma abstracted away files, blurred the lines between mockups, demos, drafts, and finished work. Hey took away archiving, said inbox zero isn’t important, said 3 folders is enough.

Few are passionate about the differences between PDF editors or domain registrars, say—they either do the job, or they don’t.

Code editors, however, are worth fighting for. Vim and Emacs’ opinionated differences are what make them polarizing. The same goes for modern positional software. They take a stand, say there is a better way of working. That makes them polarizing, which makes them worth talking about, which helps them spread further. It lets them charge a premium for a product built with care.

It’s a virtuous cycle that helps positional software spread to everyone in its niche. They don’t need everyone to use their software, but they do need everyone who cares about the same things they do to use it. You can’t get there by being a jack of all trades. Opinionated features let software be a master of one.

Premium by design

Design, then, ties it those features together.

“Design is how it works,” said Steve Jobs, but better features alone were hardly enough for Apple’s co-founder. The company that taught us what chamfered edges and complications are cares deeply about how their products look and feel. So, too, do positional software.

Vim and Emacs may fall into the design is how it works category, with devotees favoring their raw simplicity. But they’re not turning heads when used in public, not making people wish they had an invite to see what the fuss is about.

Slack was an early leader in the crafted software space. Built from a company that two times had built a game and each time ended up building another product instead, the Slack team surely had great designers in their midst. But they also enlisted an outside design firm to launch the most polished team chat app the world had seen. Team chat wasn’t new; fun team chat was, and design was a key differentiator for Slack, enough that they could charge nearly three times as much per user than their closest competitor.

Positional software pairs a deep focus on features for the most exacting users with an equal focus on the design that will appeal to and work best for them. The chef’s knife needs a carefully curved handle and sharper blade to be worth buying—but it also needs to look the part, especially if it’s to cross the chasm from tool to desirable luxury.

Much of the discussion about Superhuman centers on its price, assuming a $30/month email app is a luxury, a Veblen good. Yet even if the status conveyed an exclusive Superhuman invite is worth the first month’s subscription, that alone is hardly enough reason to continue using the software. Subscriptions if anything align developer and users’ interests, as the latter can choose to leave anytime. Superhuman survives solely on how well it helps those who use email the most. If it makes them better at email, they’ll continue to pay, and talk about it.

Democratizing power features

IRC had been around for decades as an early team chat. Slack added design and opinionated tweaks and turned it into a chat app worth paying more for.

Gmail was built around keyboard shortcuts since its inception. Superhuman taught them to you with personalized onboarding and tooltips, making sure you’d learn them.

Vim and Emacs had features tucked away to make you a more efficient text editor if you took the time to learn them. Sublime Text put those features in a command palette where they were easy to discover.

You could always email design files around, track document changes in Word, update an intranet by hand. Figma, Google Docs, and Notion turned those tedious tasks into a single click, freeing you up for your real work.

Positional software makes its name with unique features and better design. But often it’s not entirely reinventing the wheel. Instead, it’s thoughtfully simplifying what previously were power-user features, making you work faster in ways that were only possible in older software if you took hours to study and memorize. Thus the common complaint that positional software is nothing new, that Slack’s just IRC and Superhuman’s only Gmail with a newer design. The detractors have a point—the features often are there in older products if you dig.

Positional software makes everyone a power-user.

Customizable, within limits

Software can’t gain a patina from wear-and-tear, doesn’t show your hard-earned battle scars of day-in-day-out usage the same way a long-loved tool can.

And opinionated software can never be as customizable as their developer-orientated, open-source, handcrafted counterparts. That’d take away the original insights and designs that make them great.

But you can’t have power user tools without some free-for-all, some area to experiment and make yourself at home. If anything, customization keeps the work-in-public going, as power users want to show what they’ve built from tools others might have originally dismissed.

And thus, positional software typically lets you customize something. Maybe just themes and add-ons, with an ecosystem of third-party developers turning the software into a platform. Maybe with emoji and stickers, consumer-style flair that makes you feel at home. Maybe with custom workflows that force you to think through how you work, make you invest in making the tool your own.

That keeps the virtuous cycle going, where the custom tweaks make it a tool you couldn’t imagine living without, which makes you talk about it in public, which makes others want in, which helps the vendors find someone else in your niche and increases their pricing power as that customer wants their software alone, not any random tool.

And that’s positional software.

A new world of premium software

Software started out enigmatic, mysterious, difficult to understand, gate-kept by obscure terminology and hidden features.

Then it went mass market, where everyone used the same tools, where Microsoft Office was standard and seldom was indie software considered.

And then, as software became the primary tool for everyone’s jobs, not just developers, the same principles that helped developer tools become great were brought to prosumer business software. More esoteric software appeared, tools used by only those with the most demanding needs, with details you’d have to be an insider to appreciate. Mass-market software could serve the bulk of the market; these new software focused on those who need them most.

The best tools signify the value a craftsperson places on time and efficiency. They’re emblematic of the role that craftsperson holds, signify their status and skill. And they’re honed over time to be best for that role.

Today’s positional software does the same. It’s best tools, designed for specific roles, carefully designed to make craftspeople better at their digital work. It’s software that positions you as an expert. It’s priced at a premium, and worth paying for—by those who need their features, and by those who want the status those features convey. They’re spread as digital artisans work in public, share their work, talk about their tools.

And that halo effect can, over time, make positional software the new leader in its field. It still may not overtake the market leader in sales. But it will absolutely influence its entire industry as it occupies the mindshare of the most influential segment of that industry’s professionals.

Published July 10, 2020 — 06:30 UTC

Continue Reading

Culture

The PlayStation 5 may play PS1, PS2, and PS3 games via the cloud

Published

on

the-playstation-5-may-play-ps1,-ps2,-and-ps3-games-via-the-cloud

Sony has been revealing more details about the PlayStation 5 and its games, looking towards the future. However, someone recently unearthed a patent that suggests the company is also interested in its past: namely, PS5 may have more games on it than just PS5 and Ps4 games.

The patent was revealed by a Twitter user called @renka_schedule. If you translate from Japanese, it says a number of PS1, PS2, and PS3 games can be stored in the cloud, and can be played via a virtual machine that emulates the original consoles’ operating systems.

SIEのPS5?特許情報をメモします。

・PS1/PS2/PS3、様々な世代のゲーム機にわたる大量のゲームタイトルが、クラウドゲーミングライブラリを介して蓄積され利用可能。

・これらのゲームは、それぞれのゲーム機に関連したオペレーティングシステムを模倣した仮想マシンの上で実行可能。 pic.twitter.com/TsWV859OLd

— れんか (@Renka_schedule) July 4, 2020

They also followed it up with more patent documents, one of which suggests these games may come with short demos you can play before buying them.

Usual disclaimers: this is just a patent, it doesn’t mean Sony is actually going to do anything with the technology, it may not even be real, etc etc. Still, let’s imagine how it would change the console race if this turned out to be a real feature of the PS5. This would substantially raise the PS5’s usability, and it’d be great for us, the gamers.

Read: Here are the Xbox Series X games we think Microsoft will show off on July 23

Backwards compatibility has always been the area where the PlayStation has lagged behind the Xbox One. The XB1 is compatible with original Xbox and 360 discs, giving interested gamers a reason to keep them and still get value out of them. The PS4, on the other hand, only ever allowed PS3 games via the PS Now streaming service. While there’s nothing wrong with PS Now, it is essentially making you pay to play PS3 classics you might already own.

So if, if Sony could make this tech work, and if it turns out to be more than just a fancy PS Now upgrade, it’d be a huge advantage. Imagine being able to say you can play hundreds of games on the PS5 out of the box, rather than just the few that’ll be available at launch. Also, it’d just be great to see Sony pay tribute to the classic games we otherwise can only play if we take out an old console or (horrors) own a PS Vita.

Also, just by coincidence, Sony also tweeted an image of what game boxes for the PS5 will look like. I suppose even if we never get full backwards compatibility on the PS5, its games will look pretty.

A sneak peek at what PS5 games will look like when you see them on store shelves starting this holiday: https://t.co/i2ByEdWYRS pic.twitter.com/TmB4FzFMJZ

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) July 9, 2020

But you tell me: would this raise the PS5 in your esteem at all? Ping me on Twitter and let me know.

Pssst, hey you!

Do you want to get the sassiest daily tech newsletter every day, in your inbox, for FREE? Of course you do: sign up for Big Spam here.

Continue Reading

Trending

English
Spanish English