Saturday, July 18, 2009

How to Cut Interest Rates to Below Zero

An interesting thought from Greg Mankiw, Economics professor at Harvard:
Why can't the Fed cut interest rates to below zero? Why can't the Fed announce, for example, an interest rate of negative 2 percent? You borrow $100 today and repay $98 a year from now. A negative interest rate would certainly encourage people to borrow and spend, thereby expanding aggregate demand. [...]

The problem, you might reply, is that no one would lend money on those terms. Rather than lending at a negative interest rate, you could hold onto cash by, for example, stuffing it in your mattress. [...]

With this background, I can now state the proposed solution: Reduce the return to holding money below zero. Imagine that the Fed were to announce that, one year from today, it would pick a digit from 0 to 9 out of a hat. All currency with a serial number ending in that digit would no longer be legal tender. Suddenly, the expected return to holding currency would become negative 10 percent.

-- Greg Mankiw, Reloading the Weapons of Monetary Policy

Friday, July 17, 2009

More reMail Private Beta Invites

Last Friday, when I opened up signups for the reMail Private Beta, the 50 spots were gone in a few hours. Many of the testers have been extremely helpful with trying to debug problems, and almost all the issues they found are now fixed.

This past week, I've also added IMAP support to the new reMail. Before, it only supported Gmail accounts. If you have a non-Gmail IMAP account, have a taste for fast email search, and want to help me test the new version, sign up for the Private Beta here:

reMail Private Beta Signup (IMAP)

There are only 25 spots. While I'd love to bang this against as many IMAP servers as possible, I'm maxed out on developer device IDs in Apple's developer program and have resorted to "borrowing" them from another developer account.

Existing Beta Users: Yup, you can get the new version! You can just re-use the personalized download links I sent you - they will pull the newest version. You'll need to delete the old version first. You can verify you have the new version by going into the "Status" screen - it should say "V1.5". Enjoy!

P.S.: V1.5 also has a localized German UI if your iPhone is set to German. Let me know what you think - it may not be perfect as I put it together at 3 am last night.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Help me Test the New reMail

Want better search on your iPhone? I'm beta testing a new version of reMail for the iPhone and need your help.

We've been working hard on the new reMail. In this new version, 80% of the code is brand new. It does amazing new things. If you want to help me test it, sign up for the Private Beta here:

reMail Private Beta Signup

There are only 50 spots. You have to have an iPhone with the 3.0 OS and a Gmail account (we'll later support other account types as well). If you sign up, you can't blog / tweet / write about reMail until it's released. Also, I'm trying to get real iPhone users, not the Silicon Valley crowd - read the beta agreement to see if you can participate.

Thanks for your help! I hope you guys will love the new version as much as we do.

Update 1: The Private Beta is now full.
Update 2: All invites have now been sent. Mail me if you didn't get your invite.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Changing Math Education

Just last week, I was joking with my dad about how both of us have entered very technical careers, yet can't remember the last time we've used a differential equation for work reasons.

Then I found this short TED video (you should watch it) where Arthur Benjamin suggests to change the focus from teaching towards calculus to teaching towards statistics and probability. I agree. I can't remember a single workday in the last month where I wasn't using statistical methods or probabilities.