Quick Takes, February 28th

Part of a series of simple internal newsletters I did for a client, posted here early 2015 but back-dated to the original dates.

Simple, a start-up launched in 2009 and which “seeks to distinguish itself from traditional banks by eschewing fees and offering its customers data-rich analysis of their transactions” was sold to BBVA. The initial plan for disrupting banking is getting less and less revolutionary.
BBVA Buys Banking Start-Up Simple for $117 Million

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A good interview with Peter Bil’ak, founder and editor of Works That Work, “a magazine about unexpected creativity.” He takes some innovative direction with distribution and contributions. It is one of the interesting models out there.
Design Magazines: Works That Work

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Berg—a London former strategy and design consultancy that now concentrates on its Little Printer and Berg Cloud technologies—has achieved the impossible. It has made an Internet of Things product out of a washing machine that makes (some) sense.
Cloudwash

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The Bitcoin technology is being used for a variety of “altcoins,” currencies with tweaks to the Bitcoin model, such as attached content or different limitations. One of those will be the Auroracoin which Baldur Friggjar Odinsson plans on distributing to all Icelanders in March. There are issues with one person creating a currency and owning a “large” slice of it, but this is another experiment to keep an eye on in the fast-moving world of cryptocurrencies.
In One Month, Everyone In Iceland Will Own Cryptocurrency

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“Solar energy is becoming so efficient and its price is dropping so much that it could soon be cheaper for homeowners to create their own energy and drop off the grid altogether—a development that could start something that’s being called the ‘utility death spiral.’”
It’s Almost Cheaper to Go Off the Grid

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The world might be getting smaller, but our universe isn’t—at least our knowledge of it is expanding. NASA just announced that it has validated 719 new planets, taking the Kepler project’s total of planets to over 1000.
Hundreds of New Exoplanets Validated by Kepler Telescope Team

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History is often taught in school and generally thought of through specific countries and cultures, but it is not often thought of globally, which leads to some surprises when learning of simultaneous events. For example, did you know that the last time the guillotine was used in France was the same year Star Wars came out, or that Oxford University was over 300 years old when the Aztec Empire was founded?
Unlikely Simultaneous Historical Events