Tag Archive for ‘Samantha Bielefeld’

Moving On

Álvaro Serrano, writing about the recent information on Samantha Bielefeld:

Those of you who have been following the Samantha Bielefeld saga may already know that a few days ago, new information was made public that caused many people, myself included, to question our role in this whole thing.

It appears — at this point I consider it proven — that Samantha Bielefeld’s real identity is actually a man named Victor Wynn Johnson. Not only that, but this man has been accused of being a pathological liar and a conman in the past, long before Samantha ever entered the picture.

For obvious reasons, that has some very important implications.

This whole situation has been incredibly difficult to follow if you haven’t been vigilant about reading all of the various threads on Twitter throughout the past week. But Álvaro does a great job at compiling all of the relevant information and presenting it in a digestible fashion.

I could have written much more about this and I certainly have plenty of thoughts on the topic to justify doing so. But I would rather leave that to Álvaro and others. The last thing I want to do is say something that I’ll later regret and I’m afraid if I elaborate too much I’m at risk of doing so.

Regardless of what Victor has done in the past, my interactions with Samantha, the character, were always pleasant. And although I prefer to base my opinions on my own experiences, it’s clear to me that it’s time to distance myself and move on. I just hope I’m doing so in a way that is respectful to everyone who was impacted by this person’s actions.

Perhaps I was too optimistic or blinded by the encouraging words and support I received from her, I simply wish I would have known the truth sooner. I hope that my vocal support of her writing and the guest post I wrote for her site hasn’t eroded the trust I’ve built up with my readers thoughout the years I’ve publishing online. But as much as I possibly can, I will continue expressing a feeling of optimism for new writers and members to our community. It wouldn’t be fair for me to treat them differently because of this ordeal.

And if there’s one silver lining in all of this it’s that the genuine friendships I’ve built over this past several months have only grown stronger through all of it. As someone who’s lived through tragedies in the past, I can tell you that the ones who stick with you through the hard times are the ones who will remain by your side for the long haul.

As for the the writing I’ve published with references to Samantha, I will soon be editing these pieces in order to better reflect my current feelings about the situation. I haven’t dug through Initial Charge’s archives to see exactly how much editing that will entail, but I expect that I’ll simply add a link to this piece for context.

Samantha Bielefeld Introduces Memberships ➝

It has come to light that Samantha Bielefeld is not who she claimed to be. As such, I can no longer endorse her membership program. I’ve addressed the situation on the site and if you’d like a more comprehensive rundown, I encourage you to read Álvaro Serrano’s A Matter of Respect and Michael Anderson’s Samantha Bielefeld is Victor Johnson: The Story.

Preface added November 28, 2015


Samantha Bielefeld:

I am only offering two added benefits (which I will revisit as the number of members increases) to those who decide to become members of my site.

The first is a bi-weekly narrative nonfiction piece, often referred to as long-form journalism, that will span a single topic for several weeks, to months at a time. […] The second is called, ‘Monthly Musings’ and will include a collection of more personal thoughts and opinions, items that are either not suitable for my public facing website, or topics which aren’t expansive enough to warrant a full-length post.

As soon as I heard that the membership page went live, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. And at $3 a month, $8 quarterly, or $30 annually, it’s an incredible value — I encourage everyone to consider becoming a member. Samantha’s written many of the most thought-provoking pieces I’ve read over the past couple of months and I see no signs of her stopping any time soon.

The App Store Bubble

In case you haven’t heard, Supertop’s podcast client, Castro, is following in Overcast’s footsteps by adopting a patronage model. The application is now free to use, but the developers are asking for $1 a month contribution to help support the app’s development. Given my vocal support of the ideas behind Samantha Bielefeld’s Elephant in the Room, I thought it was important for me to address the topic and offer my take on where I believe the application market is heading.

The major problem I have with Castro and Overcast’s move to a patronage-based model is in the long-term perceived value of applications. There’s still plenty of users like me who remember paying $20 for a good Mac app and are more than willing to chip in a few bucks periodically to help support our favorite app developers. But what happens when we get even further away from the days when we paid for apps and get accustomed to a world where high-quality, best-in-class applications are free. How long will users continue paying? My guess is not very long.

I hate to say it, but I think we’re in the midst of an App Store bubble. There’s far more developers building apps than there is money in the ecosystem to support them. And the sad truth is that if Overcast didn’t do it, somebody else was going to. That’s just the way markets evolve when there’s seemingly infinite supply.

I do think Supertop did a better job with their transition than Marco did — they haven’t yet encouraged their competitors to follow them down a business path that might not actually work. I suppose I’ve reached the point where it’s hard for me to blame either of them for making this decision. It’s bad for users long-term and is borderline monopolistic towards competitors, but what else are they going to do? Wait for someone else to swoop in with a free app that eventually forces them to shutter as they cling to their old business model? That would be even more foolish than what they’re doing now — nobody wants to be BlackBerry.

At some point the bubble will inevitably burst as developers who had previously made a living developing apps realize that the entire market backed itself into an unsustainable corner. Independent developers and small shops will find themselves forced to get “real jobs” — probably working for a larger software company. It’ll be a painful transition for some, as consolidation takes place. But with any luck there will be a few indies that manage to make it out unscathed. As for the rest of the market, it’ll be filled with familiar faces — Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.

We’ll go through a bit of a lull, but once we get past those hard times, growth will begin again. New independent developers will start cropping up with brilliant ideas and we’ll start seeing the type of innovation that came about during the early days of the App Store. But alas, that will also mark the beginning of a new race to the bottom with the cycle repeating itself.

I hope I’m wrong in all this. I would love for this patronage trend to be the saving grace for software developers. But my hunch is that this is just more of the same with the next step being a move to entirely ad-supported, premium applications by independent developers. Much to Marco’s chagrin, we haven’t hit the bottom yet.

Big Money Returning ➝

Samantha Bielefeld on Google’s recent foray into podcasts:

How quickly the online world forgets about products, and services of years past. This move by Google is not an example of Big Money arriving, but one of Big Money returning to the scene. Google embraced podcasting more than six years ago (when Android 1.6 Donut was the latest OS release) with a much more traditional podcast app offering called Google Listen. Three years later, they decided to focus their efforts on other, much more popular products, and discontinued it[…]

As an iPhone user since the very beginning, I can remember when we were able to use our home button for shortcuts to specific applications, but I never would have remember Google Listen if not for Samantha pointing it out.

The Apple TV’s Mixed Reception ➝

It has come to light that Samantha Bielefeld is not who she claimed to be. As such, I’ve asked for my guest piece to be removed and I would no longer encourage you to read her site. I’ve addressed the situation here and if you’d like a more comprehensive rundown, I encourage you to read Álvaro Serrano’s A Matter of Respect and Michael Anderson’s Samantha Bielefeld is Victor Johnson: The Story.

Preface added November 28, 2015


Samantha Bielefeld was kind enough to ask me to write a guest piece for her site and I jumped at the opportunity. The result is something I’m incredibly proud of.

Here’s one of my favorite paragraphs:

What gets me about this is how everyone’s complaints about small problems have obfuscated what makes the new Apple TV a big deal — apps. The company that revolutionized software distribution, controls the lion’s share of profits in the smartphone industry, and also happens to be the largest company in the world, is attempting to do the same for the television as they did for mobile phones. This is a huge deal and something that seems to have been completely overlooked by everyone discussing the new device.

If you are even mildly interested in the Apple TV, I encourage you to read the entire piece.

And if you aren’t already reading Samantha’s site regularly, you should definitely start doing so — her work is thoughtful, well-written, and worthy of your attention.

Apple TV with Your Choice of Storage ➝

Samantha Bielefeld:

Both models carry the same abilities, but really, I feel like the 32GB model makes as much sense for a device so centrally focused around video consumption, and apps, as a 16GB model makes for a 4K recording capable device like the new iPhone. Just as there are very casual, minimalist users of the iPhone, there will be a category of Apple TV users that will, for various reasons, never experience a storage limit warning on the smaller storage tier. Though, for a majority of those interested in picking up one of these set-top boxes, I would be hard-pressed to recommend anything but the top-of-the-line model.

I haven’t ordered the new Apple TV yet, but I’m leaning towards the 32GB model. I’m just not sure if I’ll need a ton of storage. Samantha is probably right, though, I would probably be better off with 64GB. But if I get it home and find that I need the extra space, I can always demote the 32GB model into my bedroom and purchase a second unit for the living room. And I suspect that if I do find that I need the extra storage, I highly doubt I’ll want it for every room in the house.

Best case scenario, I don’t end up needing the extra storage and save myself $50. Worst case scenario, I’m stuck with an anemic set-top box for a short while until I am able to upgrade the TV setup in every room of the house. Not a bad plan if you ask me.

‘Goodbye, Apple News’ ➝

Samantha Bielefeld isn’t happy with Apple News and has decided to send a request for her site to be removed from the service.

I’ve only launched Apple News out of sheer curiosity and to ensure that my site’s latest articles are showing up. But News isn’t for me. It just isn’t powerful enough for my needs — I need more diverse tools for sharing, a simple way to add new sites, and an interface that I can trust is showing me all of the articles. News doesn’t do that for me.

I will continue to check in and test my site, but I don’t think the application will ever grow to be as feature-rich as I would like it to. I’ll continue using Fever, Mr. Reader, and Reeder for the foreseeable future. But unlike Samantha, I don’t plan on removing my site from the service — I would consider that to be a “never eat chips again” decision (a concept that I’ll eventually write about, someday).

Free Podcast Apps Are Nothing New ➝

A great response by Matt Birchler to Samantha Bielefeld’s The Elephant in the Room from Wednesday. And certainly the most well-written and level-headed commentary I’ve seen that disagrees with her ideas.

Matt points out that Overcast isn’t a unique specimen, there’s plenty of free podcast clients available. Which is absolutely true, but I subtly disagree with his argument and believe that this is still a conversation worth having.

I would consider all of the free podcast clients he mentioned to be of a different class of application. They are targeted to the mainstream and don’t have the same finesse that Castro, Pocket Casts, and Overcast do — they appeal to a different subset of users. And even though the tech-centric, podcast-listening crowd is a small segment of the overall market, it’s still large enough to support multiple developers building apps for it. But all of these apps — premium podcast clients that appeal to those of us willing to pay for apps in the first place — might not last in an environment where a niche client like Overcast is suddenly free.

However, I do think it’s worth keeping Matt’s points in mind when we think, talk, and write about this topic going forward.