Linked List: January 2016

The Talk Show: ‘Hopped Up on Holiday Juice’ 

This week’s episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Matthew Panzarino. Topics include Apple’s quarterly financial results, rumors of Apple working on VR handsets and “wireless” charging for iPhones, Bezos charts, and more.

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‘All Hail Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon”’ 

Cinephilia and Beyond goes deep on Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, one of my very favorites among favorites:

What is now considered one of Stanley Kubrick’s most accomplished films, as well as an example of innovative, audacious filmmaking at its best, was almost given birth to by accident. After Kubrick’s dream of making Napoleon crumbled into pieces, he used this studious research and shifted his ambitions and talent into William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1844 novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon. The story of an unscrupulous Irish scoundrel who marries into high society and advances in the aristocratic society of 18th century England proved an ideal ground for the master to exhibit his storytelling powers. With the significant help of his director of photography John Alcott, Kubrick created a cinematic world that could be most easily described as a moving 18th century painting. Giving its best to avoid using electric sources of artificial light, relying on the illuminating power of candles and natural lighting, investing enormous effort into costume design, Barry Lyndon looks genuine through and through. Moreover, it leaves the impression of actually being comprised of works of art taken down from the walls of some filthily rich British nobleman.

Includes links to the (very curiously formatted) screenplay, and American Cinematographer’s two March 1976 articles on John Alcott’s photography.

Meh.com 

My thanks to Meh.com — the people who created Woot, sold Woot to Amazon, abandoned Woot, and started again — for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. If you liked Woot back when Woot was just one deal a day (and funny), you’ll like Meh.com.

Control Center 

Stephen Hackett, “The Case Against Control Center”:

I don’t think this has aged very well, unfortunately, and it’s mostly Control Center’s fault. In addition to it being confusing to have a hidden panel at the top of the screen, having one at the bottom too is a lot to handle for some users. But there’s a bigger problem in my mind: Control Center just does way too many things.

I love the top row and screen brightness settings, but as I get closer to the bottom of the screen, the usefulness of Control Center lessens. With the exception of maybe the flashlight button, I’d be fine if the bottom row went away, Calculator and that creepy new Night Mode button included.

I think Apple could simplify all of this by looking to Android’s Notifications Drawer, where all of this stuff is in one pull-down tray from the top of the screen. Pull down a little to see notifications; pull down further to reveal a set of utilities.

I couldn’t disagree more strenuously. Control Center is probably my single favorite system-level UI change to iOS ever. I kind of wish you could change the apps hard-coded at the bottom (I’d replace Calculator with PCalc, for example), but I use it all the time.

I think Notification Center and Today view could still use some improvement. But cramming Control Center into the same pull-down sheet would make things worse, not better. Putting the dynamic Notification Center at the top and the static Control Center at the bottom provides a consistent spatial familiarity. It makes these features feel like they’re part of the hardware. (And I think Android might have to make them both pull-down-from-the-top because Android phones have soft buttons at the bottom of the display.)

Loopback 1.0 

New audio app from Rogue Amoeba:

Suddenly, it’s easy to pass audio between applications on your Mac. Create virtual audio devices to take the sound from applications and audio input devices, then send it to audio processing applications. Loopback gives you the power of a high-end studio mixing board, right inside your computer.

This is the sort of app few people need, but for those who need it, it’s a godsend. I can see a lot of uses for this for screencasters and podcasters.

BBEdit 11.5 

Just 150 or so new features, changes, and bug fixes to my favorite app of all time. No big deal.

Maximum Wage 

Steven Johnson:

In other words, the tech sector doesn’t have to be the poster child of inequality’s abuses. It could actually be a role model. Take just one potential remedy as a thought experiment. Let’s say we decided as a society that no private company should have a pay ratio above 40:1. That would lead to a radical decrease in income inequality, and it wouldn’t involve a cent of additional taxes. Every private company would be allowed to keep the exact same portion of its income. The government wouldn’t be extracting money out of the private sector; it would just put some boundaries on the way the private sector distributes its money internally. Critics would scream that such a dramatic intervention would be terrible for business, but of course the one sector of the economy that has already voluntarily embraced this ratio turns out to have nurtured the most profitable corporations in the history of capitalism. This would no doubt be fiddling with the natural markets for wages, but we fiddle with these all the time, through progressive income taxes, earned income tax credits, subsidies, and tax incentives. We have a minimum wage. What if we had a maximum ratio?

Microsoft’s Devices: The Great, the Good, the Unfortunate, and the Invisible 

Paul Thurrott on Windows Phone:

It’s hard to feel good about Windows phone right now: Microsoft sold just 4.5 million Lumias in the most recent quarter, good for 1.1 percent of the smart phone market. And that’s down from 10.5 million in the same quarter a year ago. It’s even down from the previous (and non-holiday) quarter, which is … alarming, actually. This thing has fallen through the floor faster than anyone really imagined it would.

But it is worth reminding people that Microsoft is simply following through on its promised strategy of July 2015. Which was to reduce its exposure to per-unit losses (Microsoft, like Nokia, loses money on every Lumia) and keep Windows phone in market artificially, on life support, so that it could continue developing a cross platform Windows 10 and the universal apps platform. That is, Windows phone really is dead. But Microsoft will sell you one if you’re a fan.

Another sign that the platform is dead: I don’t see anyone complaining about the lack of apps and developer support any more. It’s just accepted that Windows Phone doesn’t have the apps that iOS and Android do.

iPhone 5se and Its Place in the Apple Universe 

Rene Ritchie, writing at iMore:

Instead of price-dropping the iPhone 6 or coming up with a variant of that platform, like an iPhone 6c, Apple would simply update the iPhone 5s. Even with a late 2015 A9 processor, iSight camera system, and NFC radio for Apple Pay, component costs could still be kept within Apple’s target range for price point and margins. That way, just like the iPod touch refresh last year, people who still want the iPhone 5s get it, but with specifications that deliver an updated, modern experience.

A new 4-inch iPhone with an A9 processor and Touch ID solves a few problems for Apple, in one swoop. It gives Apple a modern iPhone to sell to people who really do prefer the smaller size, and it gives them a low-end-of-the-lineup model that is technically relevant for another 18-24 months.

Weird Guardian Piece on Apple and Recruiting 

Nellie Bowles, writing for The Guardian:

When developer James Knight was on the job market recently, he considered applying to several of the big tech companies and immediately crossed Apple off his list.

“Apple’s culture is one that’s so negative, so strict, so harsh,” said Knight, a talented 27-year-old coder who left a job at Google for more lucrative freelance work. “At Apple, you’re gonna be working 60-80 hours a week and some VP will come yell at you at any moment? That’s a very hostile work environment.” […]

Knight says he and many of his friends value lifestyle over salary. “I’m the kind of person who likes to show up to work sometimes at 11, or maybe work from home one day. And Apple’s not the place you can do that,” Knight said. “Apple can move away from that culture but culture takes time. A lot of time. And stock prices drop hourly.”

I’ve been saying for a while now that recruiting and talent retention are the single biggest problem Apple faces. But my take on it is subtle. Apple is driven by A-team talent, and A-team talent is in high demand across the whole industry. And as Guy English has pointed out, it’s a lot less exciting to be working on the tenth-generation iPhone than the first-generation of something new. The other problem Apple faces is that it’s not just any A-team talent that Apple needs, Apple needs A-team talent that understands and appreciates Apple’s design-focused culture.

That said, this Guardian piece by Bowles seems to be trying to argue that Apple is having trouble hiring anyone, period. That sounds like nonsense to me. And this James Knight guy sounds more like someone who Apple wouldn’t want to hire in the first place than someone who Apple covets but can’t get.

Jim Henson’s Hilariously Violent Wilkins Coffee Commercials 

Open Culture:

Henson made 179 ten-second spots for Wilkins Coffee, a regional company with distribution in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. market, according to the Muppets Wiki: “The local stations only had ten seconds for station identification, so the Muppet commercials had to be lightning-fast–essentially, eight seconds for the commercial pitch and a two-second shot of the product.”

Within those eight seconds, a coffee enthusiast named Wilkins (who bears a resemblance to Kermit the Frog) manages to shoot, stab, bludgeon or otherwise do grave bodily harm to a coffee holdout named Wontkins. Henson provided the voices of both characters.

I laughed out loud at a bunch of these.

The Verge: ‘Windows Phone Is Dead’; Rest of the World: ‘Duh’ 

Tom Warren, The Verge:

With a lack of hardware, lack of sales, and less than 2 percent market share, it’s time to call it: Windows Phone is dead. Real Windows on phones might become a thing with Continuum eventually, but Windows Phone as we know it is done. It won’t stop Microsoft producing a few handsets every year as a vanity project, but for everyone else it’s the end of the line.

With a lack of hardware, lack of sales, and less than 2 percent market share, Windows Phone has never actually been alive. It’s never gotten off the ground.

Mossberg: ‘Twitter Has Become Secret-Handshake Software’ 

Walt Mossberg:

But, underneath all that, Twitter’s fundamental problem is this: it’s too hard to use.

To potential new users, it’s a real challenge to learn all of Twitter’s often arcane little features. And even for people who have been using the service multiple times daily for years, like me, it can be tricky to decide when to use which feature and in which situation. For instance, new users might be confused about what a retweet is, or the difference between that and a “quote tweet” (where you say more about something you’re reposting). And they surely might not understand the need to place a period before the handle of a user, when that handle is at the very start of a tweet you compose, yet not elsewhere in the tweet.

I do think Twitter has become far too complicated. The original appeal of Twitter was largely based on its simplicity. But I have argued for years that the fundamental problem is that Twitter is compared to Facebook, and it shouldn’t be. Facebook appeals to billions of people. “Most people”, it’s fair to say. Twitter appeals to hundreds of millions of people. That’s amazing, and there’s tremendous value in that — but it’s no Facebook. Cramming extra features into Twitter will never make it as popular as Facebook — it will only dilute what it is that makes Twitter as popular and useful as it is.

AlphaGo: Google Research Project Plays Top-Level Go 

Google researchers David Silver and Demis Hassabis:

So how strong is AlphaGo? To answer this question, we played a tournament between AlphaGo and the best of the rest - the top Go programs at the forefront of A.I. research. Using a single machine, AlphaGo won all but one of its 500 games against these programs. In fact, AlphaGo even beat those programs after giving them 4 free moves headstart at the beginning of each game. A high-performance version of AlphaGo, distributed across many machines, was even stronger.

It seemed that AlphaGo was ready for a greater challenge. So we invited the reigning 3-time European Go champion Fan Hui — an elite professional player who has devoted his life to Go since the age of 12 — to our London office for a challenge match. The match was played behind closed doors between October 5-9 last year. AlphaGo won by 5 games to 0 — the first time a computer program has ever beaten a professional Go player.

Swisher: ‘Twitter Is Close to Hiring Natalie Kerris, the Longtime and High-Profile Apple Communications Exec, to Run Its Communications Unit’ 

Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode:

Twitter is close to hiring Natalie Kerris, the longtime and high-profile Apple communications exec, to run its communications unit, a critically important job given the intense media and investor interest on the social communications company.

Kerris is well known in Silicon Valley for her job as one of the top public relations and communications staffers at Apple. She was in the running for the top job at the tech giant, which went to Steve Dowling, after the departure of Katie Cotton.

She also actually uses Twitter.

The 2015 Omni Group Report 

Ken Case:

At this time last year, we had four shipping apps on iPad — OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, and OmniPlan — but just one of those apps was available on iPhone. Apple had just shipped the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and with their larger screens we decided to bring all our apps to iPhone. And we did just that, shipping free universal updates to the iPad apps that made them also run on iPhone: first OmniGraffle on March 5, then OmniPlan on March 12, OmniOutliner on March 19, and finally OmniFocus on April 2. (OmniFocus was actually ready on April 1, but if we shipped it that day I worried that people might think the whole thing was an April Fools’ joke!)

Among long-time Mac developers, I think the Omni Group is doing as good a job as anyone at making iOS development a thriving part of their business.

Up next, some cool news for OmniOutliner:

For OmniOutliner, I’m very pleased to share that we have some major writing improvements on the way! On both Mac and iOS, we plan to support distraction-free full-screen editing, the ability to see your current word count, and support for directly editing Markdown documents.

The 2015 Panic Report 

Cabel Sasser:

iOS Revenue. I brought this up last year and we still haven’t licked it. We had a change of heart — well, an experimental change of heart — and reduced the price of our iOS apps in 2015 to normalize them at $9.99 or less, thinking that was the upper limit and/or sweet spot for iOS app pricing. But it didn’t have a meaningful impact on sales.

More and more I’m beginning to think we simply made the wrong type of apps for iOS — we made professional tools that aren’t really “in demand” on that platform — and that price isn’t our problem, but interest is.

So, once again, we will investigate raising our iOS app prices in 2016, with two hopes: that the awesome customers that love and need these apps understand the incredible amount of work that goes into them and that these people are also willing to pay more for a quality professional app (whereas, say, the casual gamer would not).

Next up: Firewatch, in just two weeks.

Perspective on Apple’s Financial Might 

Tom Gara on Twitter:

Apple lost more revenue to foreign exchange fluctuations in last quarter than *ALL* of Facebook’s quarterly revenue.

20 Years Ago Today, Sun Almost Bought Apple for $4 Billion 

Business Insider:

On January 26th, 1996, exactly 20 years ago to this day, early tech blog Suck.com reported that Sun Microsystems was in talks to buy up Apple, then worth $3.89 billion.

“Back in late 1995 early ‘96, when we were at our peak, we were literally hours away from buying Apple for about $5 to $6 a share,” former Sun President Ed Zander would later recall in 2011.

Today, Sun is out of business and Apple is the most profitable company in the world. Not sure where Michael Spindler is.

The Chickening 

Kottke:

It mostly defies description, so just watch the first minute or so (after which you won’t be able to resist the rest of it).

Tim Cook on Q1 2016 

Tim Cook on Apple’s record-breaking quarter:

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you very much for joining us. Today, we’re reporting Apple’s strongest financial results ever. We generated all-time record quarterly revenue of 75.9 billion dollars in the December quarter, in line with our expectations, and have 2 percent over last year’s blockbuster results.

This is a huge accomplishment for our company, especially given the turbulent world around us. In constant currency, our growth rate would have been 8 percent. Our record revenue and continued strong operating performance also led to an all-time record quarterly net income of 18.4 billion dollars. We sold 74.8 million iPhones in the December quarter, an all-time high. To put that volume into perspective, it’s an average of over 34,000 iPhones an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 13 straight weeks. It’s almost 50 percent more than our Q1 volume just two years ago, and more than four times our volume five years ago.

The big news, though, is that Apple’s forecast for this quarter has iPhone sales dipping year-over-year for the first time ever. Here’s why:

We see that Q2 is the toughest compare. We believe it’s the toughest compare because the year-ago quarter also had catchup in it from Q1; if you recall, we were heavily supply-constrained throughout the whole of Q1, and so some of that demand moved into Q2. Plus, we’re in an environment now that is dramatically different from a macroeconomic point of view than last Q2: from a currency point of view, from the level at which we’ve had to adjust pricing in several of these markets, and sort of the overall malaise in virtually every country in the world. It’s really all of those factors that play in there, and it’s difficult to sort out how much is due to which one.

Abe Vigoda, Still Alive in 1988 

“Dave, instead of a time killer, this one is more a public service tonight.”

Abe Vigoda Dies at 94 

Hillel Italie, reporting for the AP:

Character Abe Vigoda, whose leathery, sunken-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series “Barney Miller” and the doomed Mafia soldier in “The Godfather,” died Tuesday at age 94.

Vigoda’s daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, told The Associated Press that Vigoda died Tuesday morning in his sleep at Fuchs’ home in Woodland Park, New Jersey. The cause of death was old age. “This man was never sick,” Fuchs said.

Tell Mike it was only business.

Disney World Opens New Ordeal Kingdom for Family Meltdowns 

The Onion:

Situated between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, the 350-acre property reportedly incorporates many of the most aggravating elements of Disney’s other parks and expands them into a creative and fully immersive world of irritation, which is said to include the longest lines in the entire resort, a convoluted layout that is only depicted in indecipherable cartoon maps that are not to scale, and 150 percent higher prices. According to park director Jacob Bartlett, Ordeal Kingdom’s specialized combination of features will ensure a slowly building resentment among visiting families, eventually resulting in a dramatic public outburst followed by a silent walk back to the car.

“We’ve considered every detail to ensure parents and their kids have the heated argument of a lifetime,” said Bartlett, explaining that the park was split into five themed “lands,” including Fatigue Island and Hunger Lagoon, each of which can be reached by Mickey’s Congestion Junction Railway. “Whether it’s the sheer distance between rides or the unspecified bathroom locations, every aspect of the experience is guaranteed to ratchet up the tension until you and your family are screaming at each other and saying you should never have come in the first place.”

DF RSS Feed Sponsorship Openings 

The RSS feed calendar has been sold out for months, but the next few weeks, including the current one, are open. If you’ve got a cool product or service you want to promote to the DF audience, get in touch and let’s make a deal.

Texas Grand Jury Clears Planned Parenthood, Indicts Pair Who Made Video 

Brian M. Rosenthal and Brian Rogers, reporting for the Houston Chronicle:

A Harris County grand jury investigating allegations that a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston illegally sold the tissue of aborted fetuses has cleared the organization of wrongdoing and instead indicted two anti-abortion activists behind the undercover videos that sparked the probe.

Secret videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden received an additional misdemeanor indictment under the law prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs.

I’m celebrating this schadenfreude-tastic moment with a contribution to Planned Parenthood.

Microsoft’s Surface Tablets Takes a Hit During NFL Playoff Game 

Steven Musil, CNet:

Microsoft’s tablet seemed to suffer another public black eye Sunday as TV viewers of the AFC championship game Sunday between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots were told that the tablets on the Patriots’ sidelines had failed.

“They’re having some trouble with their Microsoft Surface tablets,” CBS’ sideline reporter Evan Washburn reported during the game. “On the last defensive possession the Patriots’ coaches did not have access to those tablets to show pictures to their players. NFL officials have been working at it. Some of those tablets are back in use, but not all of them. A lot of frustration that they didn’t have them on that last possession.”

The outage, which struck during the first half, was brief, and the Patriots’ tablets were soon restored to working order. A Microsoft spokesman blamed the problem on a network connectivity issue rather than a tablet malfunction.

No tablet is going to work if the network is down, but this shows the risks of paid product placement in a live arena.

AnandTech Reviews the Google Pixel C 

Brandon Chester and Joshua Ho, writing for AnandTech:

The pinch to zoom implementation on Android has always been quite poor, with the zooming not tracking well with the user’s actual pinching motion. In this case, the problem is also that the zoom animation just has an incredibly low frame rate at times, to the point where it’s like watching a slide show. It’s honestly shocking to see these issues on a device designed by Google running software designed by Google.

Tell us what you really think.

The Talk Show: ‘A Squirrel Eating a Duck’ 

This week’s special guest: Merlin Mann. Topics include Winter Storm Jonas, the politics of sick kids, sweating out a fever, people going insane over the rumors that the next iPhones will omit the standard headphone jack, the seven-hour The Godfather Epic, and more.

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Imgix 

My thanks to Imgix for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Imgix is an amazing real-time image processing service and CDN that lets you manipulate images — resizing, cropping, and processing — simply by changing the URL parameters.

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Anywhere but Medium 

Dave Winer:

If Medium were more humble, or if they had competition, I would relax about it. But I remember how much RSS suffered for being dominated by Google. And Google was a huge company and could have afforded to run Google Reader forever at a loss. Medium is a startup, a well-funded one for sure, but they could easily pivot and leave all the stories poorly served, or not served at all. I’m sure their user license doesn’t require them to store your writing perpetually, or even until next week.

I only want to point to things that I think have a chance at existing years from now. And things that are reasonably unconflicted, where I feel I understand where the author is coming from. Neither of those criteria are met by posts on Medium. I also want to preserve the ability of developers to innovate in this area. If Medium sews up this media type, if they own it for all practical purposes, as Google owned RSS (until they dropped it), then you can’t move until they do. And companies with monopolies have no incentive to move forward, and therefore rarely do. Look at how slowly Twitter has improved their platform, and all the new features are for advertisers, not for writers. I suspect Medium will go down a similar path.

The comparison to Google Reader is perfect. Google Reader was both (a) the most popular thing that ever happened to RSS, and (b) the worst thing that ever happened to RSS.

Mark Gurman Says New 4-Inch iPhone to Be Called ’iPhone 5se’ 

Mark Gurman:

The new device is internally codenamed “N69,” but the launch name will likely be the “iPhone 5se.” The “se” suffix has been described in two ways by Apple employees: as a “special edition” variation of the vintage 4-inch iPhone screen size and as an “enhanced” version of the iPhone 5s.

Why not “iPhone 5se/30”?

Indeed, the upcoming “5se” features a design similar to 2013’s flagship but upgraded internals, software, and hardware features that blend the old design with modern technologies from the past two iPhone upgrades.

Sources have provided the following list of “iPhone 5se” upgrades over the 5s:

  • The chamfered, shiny edges have been replaced with curved glass like on the iPhone 6 and 6s lines.

I don’t see how curved glass fits with the iPhone 5 industrial design. And what about the chamfered edges on the back?

What Google Pays Apple to Keep Google Search the Default Search Engine on iOS 

Joel Rosenblatt and Adam Satariano, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple received $1 billion from its rival in 2014, according to a transcript of court proceedings from Oracle Corp.’s copyright lawsuit against Google. The search engine giant has an agreement with Apple that gives the iPhone maker a percentage of the revenue Google generates through the Apple device, an attorney for Oracle said at a Jan. 14 hearing in federal court. […]

Annette Hurst, the Oracle attorney who disclosed details of the Google-Apple agreement at last week’s court hearing, said a Google witness questioned during pretrial information said that “at one point in time the revenue share was 34 percent.” It wasn’t clear from the transcript whether that percentage is the amount of revenue kept by Google or paid to Apple.

An attorney for Google objected to the information being disclosed and attempted to have the judge strike the mention of 34 percent from the record.

“That percentage just stated, that should be sealed,” lawyer Robert Van Nest said, according to the transcript. “We are talking hypotheticals here. That’s not a publicly known number.”

The magistrate judge presiding over the hearing later refused Google’s request to block the sensitive information in the transcript from public review. Google then asked Alsup to seal and redact the transcript, saying the disclosure could severely affect its ability to negotiate similar agreements with other companies. Apple joined Google’s request in a separate filing.

“The specific financial terms of Google’s agreement with Apple are highly sensitive to both Google and Apple,” Google said in its Jan. 20 filing. “Both Apple and Google have always treated this information as extremely confidential.”

The transcript vanished without a trace from electronic court records at about 3 p.m. Pacific standard time with no indication that the court ruled on Google’s request to seal it.

Fascinating. If it’s a revenue share agreement (as opposed to a flat sum), I wonder how Apple verifies the numbers?

Everyone knows Google pays Apple for this placement, but now that we have an actual figure (and no reason to believe it’s gone down since 2014), how does this square with Tim Cook’s criticism of Google’s targeted advertising business model as an invasion of privacy?

AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale 

New York Times report from August:

The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.

While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”

This, from the company whose CEO now says “I don’t think it is Silicon Valley’s decision to make about whether encryption is the right thing to do.”

Because of companies like AT&T and craven leaders like Randall Stephenson, it is now very clear that end-to-end strong encryption is of course the “right thing to do”.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Won’t Join Tim Cook in Fight Against Encryption Backdoors 

Jon Brodkin, writing for Ars Technica:

But tech company leaders aren’t all joining the fight against the deliberate weakening of encryption. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said this week that AT&T, Apple, and other tech companies shouldn’t have any say in the debate.

“I don’t think it is Silicon Valley’s decision to make about whether encryption is the right thing to do,” Stephenson said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I understand [Apple CEO] Tim Cook’s decision, but I don’t think it’s his decision to make.”

Actually, given the law as it stands today, it is Apple’s decision to make.

The Paperwork Reduction Act 

Clay Johnson:

Did you know that when this president took office, it was illegal for the President to end a tweet with a question mark without a six month approval process from the economists across the street at the “Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.” No seriously — they seriously had to give guidance to the rest of the federal agencies in 2009 that gave them permission to ask questions over the internet. It basically says: Sure, you can ask people questions, as long as you don’t ask for structured feedback (feedback you can do anything with). Thus it became OK to end sentences on twitter with a question mark. I can’t make this stuff up!

The Paperwork Reduction Act is a terrible law. It doesn’t need to be revisited or revamped. It needs to be removed.

As Johnson concludes, repealing this law ought to get bipartisan support.

The Difference Between the PC and Mobile Eras 

Miguel Helft, writing for Forbes on Oracle’s claim that Google has generated only $31 billion in cumulative revenue from Android:

Oh, and the comparisons between Google’s Android business and Apple’s iOS business that are starting to surface (Apple generated $32.2 billion in iPhone sales in the most recent quarter), well, they don’t mean much either. Apple sells mostly hardware. Google sells mostly ads. Those are fundamentally different businesses. Both companies are very successful at what they do.

That’s all true, but it highlights the fundamental difference between the PC and mobile eras. In the PC era, Microsoft generated more revenue and far more profit than any hardware company, including Apple.

Largest Companies by Market Cap Today 

After a strong year for Alphabet’s stock price (+40%) and a weak one for Apple’s (-11%), Alphabet could overtake Apple as the most valuable company in the world. Expect a lot of Sturm und Drang if that happens.

(I’m still having a lot of trouble calling them “Alphabet” instead of “Google”. Feel like it’s going to take a long time for that to stick.)

In Court, Oracle Claims Google’s Android Has Generated $31 Billion in Revenue, $22 Billion in Profit 

Joel Rosenblatt and Jack Clark, reporting for Bloomberg:

Google Inc.’s Android operating system has generated revenue of $31 billion and $22 billion in profit, a lawyer for Oracle Corp. said in court while disclosing figures Google says shouldn’t have been made public.

An analysis of the search engine giant’s tightly held financial information was disclosed Jan. 14 by an Oracle attorney in the database maker’s lawsuit accusing Google of using its Java software without paying for it to develop Android. Google said in a court filing that the lawyer based her statement on information derived from its confidential internal financial documents.

“Look at the extraordinary magnitude of commerciality here,” the Oracle attorney, Annette Hurst, told a federal magistrate judge as she discussed Android revenue and profit, which have never been publicly disclosed.

Android, which was launched in 2008, makes money for Google in two ways: adverts supplied by Google shown on Android phones, and revenue Google takes from its mobile app store, Google Play.

Google urged a San Francisco federal judge on Jan. 20 to redact and seal portions of the public transcript of last week’s hearing, saying the Oracle attorney improperly disclosed “extremely sensitive information” from documents that were marked “Attorney’s Eyes Only.”

There’s a juicy, gossipy angle on this, with regard to Google’s claim that Oracle’s release of this information was a breach of confidentiality. What strikes me, though, is that this just isn’t all that much money, at least by Google’s standards. Company-wide, Google reported $18.7 billion in revenue in their most recent quarter.

Alice Truong, writing for Quartz:

If the numbers are accurate, that would mean Android has generated less revenue over its lifetime than the iPhone did in the quarter ended Sep. 30, the most recently reported quarter. Then, Apple said the iPhone generated $32.2 billion in sales.

Update: Keep in mind too that it’s in Oracle’s interest to inflate these numbers, as they seek damages from Google’s use of Java. If anything, Google has probably made less than this amount from Android.

The Assembled-in-America Mac Pro 

Regarding yesterday’s “Why Apple Assembles in China”, many readers have emailed or tweeted to ask why I didn’t mention the Mac Pro, which in its current incarnation is assembled in Austin Texas.

Two things:

  • The Mac Pro is Apple’s most expensive product. It starts at $3000 and the configurations most people want are thousands of dollars more than that.

  • The Mac Pro is almost certainly Apple’s lowest volume computer, probably by a long shot.

I mention the price not to suggest that the price is high because it is assembled in America. Rather, I think that because the price is high, Apple can afford to assemble it here. The higher the price, the less the cost of labor matters.

A Conversation With Erik Spiekermann 

Interesting interview by Om Malik (and with excellent photographs by Cliff Englert):

Om: If you were to give advice to younger designers, web developers, web app makers, what would you tell them?

Erik: Learn as much about our culture as you possibly can, by reading, by traveling, by involving yourself in things that go on. But don’t become an artist. Don’t think, “I’ll do it intuitively.” You have to learn if not to code at least to appreciate code, to understand code. Because code is what nuts and bolts were a hundred years ago.

If you don’t know anything about mechanics, you can’t survive in this world. If you don’t know anything about how a computer works or code works, as a communicator, which is what a designer is — the interface between machines and man, that’s what we are. We are the interface, we interpret what the machine says into visible language. If you don’t understand how the machine works, you’re going to be laughed out of the room by the engineering guys, because you can’t communicate with them.

When ‘Find My Phone’ Goes Wrong 

Kashmir Hill, reporting for Fusion:

It started the first month that Christina Lee and Michael Saba started living together. An angry family came knocking at their door demanding the return of a stolen phone. Two months later, a group of friends came with the same request. One month, it happened four times. The visitors, who show up in the morning, afternoon, and in the middle of the night, sometimes accompanied by police officers, always say the same thing: their phone-tracking apps are telling them that their smartphones are in this house in a suburb of Atlanta. […]

The missing phones don’t seem to have anything in common. Some are iPhones. Some are Androids. They’re on different carriers: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Boost Mobile. Saba and Lee don’t know who can fix it because there’s no obvious guilty party. They filed a complaint with the local police department but that hasn’t helped. They’ve already had two visits in 2016.

What a bizarre story. (Via Alexis Madrigal.)

‘Finally’ of the Week 

Techspot headline: “The $1500 Apple Watch Hermes Edition Will Finally Be Available to Buy Online This Friday”.

(Via Christopher Jorgensen.)

Foxconn in Brazil 

Brad Haynes, reporting for Reuters back in April:

When Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group agreed in April 2011 to make Apple products here, President Dilma Rousseff and her advisers promised that up to $12 billion in investments over six years would transform the Brazilian technology sector, putting it on the cutting edge of touch screen development. A new supply chain would be created, generating high-quality jobs and bringing down prices of the coveted gadgets.

Four years later, none of that has come true.

Foxconn has created only a small fraction of the 100,000 jobs that the government projected, and most of the work is in low-skill assembly. There is little sign that it has catalyzed Brazil’s technology sector or created much of a local supply chain.

The iPhones now rolling off an assembly line near São Paulo, the only ones in the world made outside China, carry a retail price tag of nearly $1,000 for a 32-gigabyte iPhone 5S without a contract - among the highest prices in the world and about twice what they sell for in the U.S.

Brazil heavily taxes both imports and exports. And it isn’t working out well.

Why Apple Defends Encryption 

Rich Mogull, writing for TidBITS:

Apple is nearly unique among technology leaders in that it’s high profile, has revenue lines that don’t rely on compromising privacy, and sells products that are squarely in the crosshairs of the encryption debate. Because of this, Apple comes from a far more defensible position, especially now that the company is dropping its iAd App Network.

Music Memos 

Clever new iPhone app from Apple:

Sometimes the best ideas come when you least expect them. When those moments happen, open Music Memos to record high-quality, uncompressed audio through the built-in mic in your iPhone, or connect an external microphone. Music Memos is optimized for acoustic guitar and piano, and it works with other musical instruments, too.

Media Insider’s Android App 

So I signed up to be one of Media Insider (a.k.a. Symphony)’s “insiders”. Turns out they’ll accept anyone. They just make you fill out a form that asks you things like your name, age, income, address, phone number, how many people live in your household, their ages and names, and what kind of TV services you use.

The app is a doozy. It turns on the microphone to listen to what you’re doing “intermittently throughout the day”, requires permission to see and track all of the apps you use on the device, and they want you to turn on their “M-Connect” “feature”, which is a VPN that intercepts all of your network traffic. The installation instructions for iOS are both cumbersome and outdated — and to me seem like a blatant violation of Apple’s enterprise developer rules.

But you might get up to $5 in gift cards a month.

How Symphony Works 

Here’s a better story on Symphony, by Brade Dale for The Observer:

For the privacy-conscious, Symphony’s app isn’t hidden inside other apps with permissions buried in user agreements no one reads.

Symphony asks those who opt in to load Symphony-branded apps onto their personal devices, apps that use microphones to listen to what’s going on in the background. With technology from Gracenote, the app can hear the show playing and identify it using its unique sound signature (the same way Shazam identifies a song playing over someone else’s speakers). Doing it that way allows the company to gather data on viewing of sites like Netflix and Hulu, whether the companies like it or not. (Netflix likes data)

It uses specific marketing to recruit “media insiders” into its system, who then download its app (there’s no way for consumers to get it without going through this process). In exchange, it pays consumers $5 in gift cards (and up) per month, depending on the number of devices he or she authorizes.

Potential insiders go through an online sign up process that asks them a bunch of questions about their media habits. So Symphony knows a bit more about them.

Still not clear to me if the app is listening to the microphone all the time, even in the background, or if users have to launch the app manually every time they watch TV. If you’re asking yourself how an app like this ever got into Apple’s App Store, the answer is it didn’t. Users have to install it manually with a custom certificate, like a beta.

I think it’s a creepy app, and anyone who would do this for a measly $5 per month is a fool. I also highly doubt that their pool of participants is representative of the general audience.

Meet Symphony, the Company That Tracks Netflix’s Elusive Ratings 

Wired story by K.M. McFarland:

During an otherwise routine panel at the Television Critics Association Winter press tour this week, NBC research president Alan Wurtzel dropped a bombshell: He knew — or at least had an idea — how many people were watching Netflix’s original series. It was a sit-up-and-pay-attention moment. The head of research for a broadcast network was pulling back the curtain on viewership numbers that had long eluded TV reporters everywhere.

It’s no secret that television networks have long wanted alternatives to the traditional Nielsen ratings. What Wurtzel revealed was that NBC had found one — Palo Alto-based Symphony Advanced Media, which had viewership numbers for Netflix and others. It drew the data from tech that was still “in beta,” Wurtzel said, but it nonetheless showed Jessica Jones averaging 4.8 million viewers aged 18-49 while Master of None had 3.9 million adults in the same group.

This article doesn’t explain who is generating the data, and how. Who are Symphony’s users? How is their app listening to what these users are watching on TV all the time?

I don’t understand why Wired would run this story without answers to these basic questions.

Susan Kare at Layers 2015 

From June’s Layers Design Conference in San Francisco, here is Susan Kare’s talk on her history with Apple and icon design, and my interview with her. It was a tremendous thrill to interview someone whose work I love so deeply.

NYT: ‘Netflix’s Opaque Disruption Annoys Rivals on TV’ 

John Koblin, reporting for the NYT:

Likewise, Mr. Landgraf said in an interview, “If Ted doesn’t give ratings, he shouldn’t then be saying, ‘This is the biggest hit in the history of blah blah blah.’ He shouldn’t say something is successful in quantitative terms unless you’re willing to provide data and a methodology behind those statements. You can’t have it both ways.”

Pretty sure Jeff Bezos and Amazon have proved that you can. Netflix is just following their playbook.

Mr. Wurtzel provided data from a firm named Symphony Advanced Media, which uses audio content recognition installed on phones to recognize what is being watched and when. According to Symphony’s data, the Netflix show “Jessica Jones” was viewed by 4.8 million people within the first 35 days of its premiere in the 18- to 49-year-old bracket important to advertisers. In that demographic, Mr. Wurtzel said that, according to Symphony’s data, “Master of None” had 3.9 million viewers, “Narcos” had 3.2 million and Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” had 2.1 million viewers.

What a crazy methodology. Who has software like this installed on their phone? What’s the app called, Big Brother?

Trump Says He’ll Get Apple to Manufacture ‘Their Damn Computers in This Country’ 

Donald Trump, in a speech today at Liberty “University”:

“We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers in this country instead of other countries.”

Good luck with that.

New York State Introduces Bill to Ban Sale of Encrypted Smartphones 

Dave Mark on a bill in the New York State legislature that bans encryption on mobile phones. Let’s hope sanity prevails and this goes nowhere, but it’s ominous that this has gotten as far as it has. (And why is the bill written in all caps?)

CNet: ‘Widow Says Apple Told Her to Get Court Order to Secure Dead Husband’s Password’ 

Chris Matyszczyk, writing for CNet:

Some might muse that Bush’s story is proof that Apple really does take your privacy very seriously. But if it indeed wanted Peggy Bush to get a court order, doesn’t that seem a touch extreme?

In times of death, a little sensitivity doesn’t come amiss.

Passwords are like locks. There’s no magic way to break into a safe after your spouse dies, unless they shared the combination with you. It’s the same with passwords, as it should be. I don’t mean to make light of the tragedy of this woman’s husband’s death, but there’s no way that she should simply be able to ask for a password reset. It’d be a huge security risk — a ripe target for social engineering exploits.

‘Life’s Most Persistent and Urgent Question Is, “What Are You Doing for Others?” ’ 

Nice tributes to MLK from Apple and Google. 

CloudMagic for Mac 

My thanks to CloudMagic for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their new email client for the Mac.

CloudMagic for Mac was born out of frustration with overflowing email inboxes — it’s a humble attempt at making email peaceful and zen again. Features include:

  • Clean and focused Inbox to quickly show you what matters the most.
  • Distraction-free Conversation View that makes reading stress-free.
  • Blissful Compose mode, where nothing comes between you and what you write.

CloudMagic debuted in the Mac App Store on January 6 and has already been featured by Apple in 150 countries. It hit #2 on the Top Paid list across all categories on the Mac App Store, and was #1 on Product Hunt on the day it launched. Download CloudMagic from the App Store today, and see for yourself.

iAd App Network Will Be Discontinued 

Apple:

The iAd App Network will be discontinued as of June 30, 2016. Although we are no longer accepting new apps into the network, advertising campaigns may continue to run and you can still earn advertising revenue until June 30.

When iAd launched, its biggest advocate among Apple’s leadership was Scott Forstall. In some ways I’m surprised it took this long for them to pull the plug. After Forstall, I don’t think anyone’s heart was in this.

Fujifilm X70: Smaller, Wider, Cheaper (But, Alas, Slower) X100 

Sam Byford, The Verge:

The X70 keeps the same 16-megapixel APS-C X-Trans II sensor as the current X100T, but the body size has been dramatically reduced. Although the trademark hybrid viewfinder is gone, replaced by an optional hotshoe optical unit that Fujifilm warns is likely to be pretty expensive, the control scheme of an aperture ring around the lens with dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation up top is intact, and the X70 is the first X-Series camera to feature a touchscreen. That screen is capable of rotating 180 degrees for full selfie compatibility.

The defining feature of the X70, though, is its lens, since it’s a non-removable prime without any zoom function. Fujifilm has gone for an 18.5mm f/2.8 here, which is a little slower and wider than the 23mm f/2 found on all the X100 cameras — you lose a stop of light and the field of view widens to 28mm equivalence from 35mm.

I’ve owned the X100S for a little over two years, and I really like it. If Fuji had managed to keep the lens at f/2.0 I’d consider upgrading to this.

Tim Cook Lashes Out at White House Officials for Being Wishy-Washy on Encryption 

Jenna McLaughlin, reporting for The Intercept:

Apple CEO Tim Cook lashed out at the high-level delegation of Obama administration officials who came calling on tech leaders in San Jose last week, criticizing the White House for a lack of leadership and asking the administration to issue a strong public statement defending the use of unbreakable encryption.

The White House should come out and say “no backdoors,” Cook said. That would mean overruling repeated requests from FBI Director James Comey and other administration officials that tech companies build some sort of special access for law enforcement into otherwise unbreakable encryption. Technologists agree that any such measure could be exploited by others.

Nick Heer, at Pixel Envy:

Apple — and Tim Cook, specifically — is the only major tech company currently defending encryption against intrusive surveillance to this degree. Every other company is either open to compromise publicly, has privately compromised, or has failed to take a firm stand.

This came up during last night’s Republican primary debate — not about tech companies refusing to allow backdoors in encryption systems, but about Apple specifically. Tim Cook is right, and encryption and privacy experts are all on his side, but where are the other leaders of major U.S. companies? Where is Larry Page? Satya Nadella? Mark Zuckerberg? Jack Dorsey? I hear crickets chirping.

Real leaders have courage, and on this very essential issue — in the face of fierce political pushback from law enforcement officials — only Tim Cook is showing any.

High School Policy on ‘Air Ball’ Chants Draws Sharp Responses 

Mike McPhate, reporting for the NYT:

For fans at a basketball game, there are few sights as satisfying as a rival player’s shot sailing cleanly beyond the rim and backboard.

The crowd might erupt into an almost giddy chant: “Air ball!”

But not at high school games in Wisconsin, if athletic officials have their way.

Citing a rise in taunting by students, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association sent an email to school leaders across the state in December that said in part, “Student groups, school administrators and event managers should take immediate steps to correct this unsporting behavior.”

It listed examples of “air ball,” “scoreboard,” “fundamentals,” “season’s over” and “there’s a net there,” among other chants that the association frowned upon.

Absolutely absurd.

Apple vs. AAPL 

Neil Cybart, “The Two Apples”:

Just as Wall Street is nervous about AAPL’s changing revenue sources, Apple’s ultimate success is built on that very ideal. Even though Apple was the “iPod company” yesterday and the “iPhone company” today, management’s goal is to make sure that Apple will one day be known as something else, such as the “car company” or the “personal transport company.” This isn’t to suggest that Apple will change its culture and mission statement depending on where growth can be found. Instead, management looks to enter product categories that make it possible to advance Apple’s goal of making technology more personal. In the beginning, such a goal was achieved with the Mac but soon included the iPod, then iPhone and iPad, and now Apple Watch. […]

While AAPL investors look at changing revenue sources and Apple entering new industries as risk factors, for Apple such characteristics are normal business and according to plan. It is this divide that will likely continue indefinitely, suggesting it is unwise to expect AAPL to one day begin to follow Apple. Just as a declining AAPL stock price is no indication of a struggling Apple, there will likely come a time when AAPL outperforms peers even though Apple, the company, may be struggling.

Part of what makes Apple so interesting to write about is that the company is so widely misunderstood.

Alan Rickman Dies at 69 

David Ng, reporting for the LA Times:

Alan Rickman, the mellifluously baritoned British actor who played haughty villains in “Die Hard” and the “Harry Potter” movies and whose stage career brought him acclaim in London and New York, died on Thursday. He was 69.

Hans Gruber, R.I.P.

Apple to Disband iAd Sales Team 

John Paczkowski, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Now, six years after launching iAd, Apple is stepping back from it. Multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans tell BuzzFeed News that Apple is getting out of the advertising-sales business and shifting to a more automated platform.

While iAd itself isn’t going anywhere, Apple’s direct involvement in the selling and creation of iAd units is ending. “It’s just not something we’re good at,” one source told BuzzFeed News. And so Apple is leaving the creation, selling, and management of iAds to the folks who do it best: the publishers.

Apple still had an iAd sales team?

Joanna Stern Explains Snapchat Using Snapchat 

This is the first explanation of Snapchat I’ve ever understood.

The Talk Show: ‘They Sherlocked F.lux’ 

Special guest Dan Frommer returns to the show to deliver his first-hand report from last week’s CES in Las Vegas. Other topics include Periscope, Peach, why Apple never participated at CES, El Chapo’s re-capture, iOS 9.3, Apple Watch, Apple’s finances (and stock price), and self-driving cars.

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Tech Journalists Tweeted About a Fitness Tracker to Win a $5430 Vacation Voucher 

Kate Knibbs, writing for Gizmodo:

Some journalists attending CES earlier this month received a pitch from TomTom offering vacation vouchers in exchange for social media coverage — and a disappointing if not entirely surprising number of reporters went for it.

Journalists who tweeted images of their step counts were eligible to receive vouchers worth 5000 Euros (approximately $5430 USD) in exchange for the coverage. TomTom asked them to tweet about how far they walked while using a complimentary Spark. The journalists who tweeted the highest numbers of steps would receive the vouchers, according to emails provided to Gizmodo.

I don’t think this is as cut-and-dried a case of improper behavior as some are making it out to be. They weren’t writing articles about TomTom — they were tweeting from their personal accounts. The tweets themselves made it kind of obvious that they were involved in some sort of contest, too.

That said, I certainly wouldn’t have done it. It’s undignified.

Google I/O Conference Moves to Mountain View 

Sundar Pichai:

I/O ‘16 coming to neighborhood where it all started 10 yrs ago: Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, May 18-20. More details soon.

That’s an interesting solution to the problem of Moscone West’s 4–5000 attendee capacity. Wikipedia says this facility has 6,500 reserved seats, and room for tens of thousands more on the lawn. But I’m not sure how an amphitheater works for anything other than the keynote(s). Does this turn I/O into a single-track conference? Do they set up temporary structures? And what are they going to do for hotel rooms? Moscone is far from perfect, but downtown San Francisco has hotels, restaurants, and public transit.

Cinematographer Steve Yedlin on Film vs. Digital 

Jim Coudal:

Check Steve Yedlin’s Film vs. Digital Tests, plus this series of tweets from Rian Johnson who is directing SW Episode VIII with Yedlin as DP, and finally this conversation about the matter.

This is a deep rabbit hole for film nerds, but I ate the whole thing up over the weekend.

NYT Restaurant Critic Pete Wells: ‘At Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Slips and Stumbles’ 

Pete Wells:

The kitchen could improve the bacon-wrapped cylinder of quail simply by not placing it on top of a dismal green pulp of cooked romaine lettuce, crunchy and mushy at once. Draining off the gluey, oily liquid would have helped a mushroom potpie from turning into a swampy mess. I don’t know what could have saved limp, dispiriting yam dumplings, but it definitely wasn’t a lukewarm matsutake mushroom bouillon as murky and appealing as bong water. […]

Both dishes, though, came at an extra charge: $75 more for the caviar and $175 for the risotto. The supplements at Per Se can cause indignation, among other emotions. When my server asked, “Would you like the foie gras” — $40 more — “or the salad?,” the question had an air of menace. When the salad turned out to be a pale, uncrisp fried eggplant raviolo next to droopy strips of red pepper and carrot, it felt like extortion.

Some of those prices came down slightly when the baseline cost went up. With or without supplemental charges, though, Per Se is among the worst food deals in New York.

Per Se was one of only six restaurants with four stars from The Times; Wells knocked them back down to two stars.

See also: Jordan Weissmann, writing for Slate: “New York Times Food Critic Pete Wells Is a Populist Hero”.

Headline Doom 

The Macalope on a MarketWatch piece that ran under the headline “The iPhone Slowdown Spells Doom for Apple”.

Trip ‘Claim’ Chowdhry Woke Up From Another Bender 

Garrett Cook, reporting for Yahoo Finance last week:

In a recent note, Chowdhry called for the “completely clueless” Tim Cook to be replaced. He cited a culture of “bozos” at Apple destroying $486 billion in shareholder value under Cook’s management. […]

There is hope though for Apple’s management, and it starts with Jonathan Rubinstein taking over for Cook. Chowdhry said Cook needs to be replaced and mercifully noted Cook “can go back to his Operations role” while CFO Luca Maestri “can go back to his Accountant role” as Fred Anderson, who was CFO during Apple’s previous Jobs resurrection, comes back to right the wrongs. Angela Ahrendts is not safe either. The Sr. VP for retail and online is “completely clueless” and a “misfit for a role at Apple” according to Chowdhry. He would like her gone.

Has anyone considered the possibility that “Trip Chowdhry” doesn’t actually exist, and is really some sort of experiment to test whether the business press will question anyone claiming to be an “analyst”, no matter how inane their statements?

David Bowie’s New Album Was a ‘Parting Gift’ for Fans 

Hannah Furness, reporting for The Telegraph:

David Bowie’s final record was a carefully-orchestrated farewell to his fans, his producer has confirmed. Lazarus, released on the Bowie’s 69th birthday just two days before his death, opens with the lyrics: “Look up here, I’m in Heaven!”

Forbes Forces Readers to Turn Off Ad Blockers, Promptly Serves Malware 

Joel Hruska, writing for ExtremeTech:

For the past few weeks, Forbes.com has been forcing visitors to disable ad blockers if they want to read its content. Visitors to the site with Adblock or uBlock enabled are told they must disable it if they wish to see any Forbes content. Thanks to Forbes’ interstitial ad and quote of the day, Google caching doesn’t capture data properly, either.

What sets Forbes apart, in this case, is that it didn’t just force visitors to disable ad blocking — it actively served them malware as soon as they did. Details were captured by security researcher Brian Baskin, who screenshotted the process.

Shocker.

David Bowie Dead at 69 

It’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming, “Let me out!”

ILM VFX Supervisor Roger Guyett on ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ 

From an interview with Barbara Robertson for Studio Daily:

When you see the little speeder moving across the landscape, it’s a completely digital shot. But because we’d been there, when we recreated that moment, we did it from a physically-based approach. I don’t know if J.J. [Abrams] knows how we constructed the images, but he was at the location and he knew how it looked.

The other thing is that we photographed these events in a way that I think did not cross the line of the impossible with complicated camera moves. We made sure if you had a Millennium Falcon, this is how you’d shoot it. We tried to photograph some kind of version of all these events to give us a point of reference even if we threw it away. One advantage I had in putting shots together in the final movie is that I shot second unit. If a shot involved visual effects, I knew what we’d need to achieve.

Amen. I would argue the single biggest crime in the digital VFX era is absurdly impossible camera movement. (Via Todd Vaziri.)

Beautiful Chewbacca Fan Comic by Tyson Murphy 

Do not click this if you haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet — it couldn’t be more spoiler-y. But if you have seen the movie, man, I just love the sentiment behind this. So great.

Doxie Go 

My thanks to Doxie for once again sponsoring the DF RSS feed. It’s a new year and a terrific time to declutter, get organized, and go paperless.

Doxie’s clever wireless scanners make scanning everything easy, with impeccable quality and convenience. Scan documents, photos, receipts, and cards anywhere with built-in memory, then save searchable PDFs to your desktop, iCloud, Dropbox, Slack channels, and more.

This week only Doxie is offering discounted Apple employee pricing to everyone — Daring Fireball readers get $60 off a new Doxie Go Plus or Doxie Go Wi-Fi. That’s an amazing deal for a great product.

Dozens of Bottles of Pappy Van Winkle to Be Destroyed 

The AP reports:

More than two dozen bottles of Pappy Van Winkle stolen from a central Kentucky distillery will be destroyed. Investigators said the bottles were stolen from Buffalo Trace Distillery, in Frankfort, as part of a theft ring in 2013.

Police later recovered the bourbon. The Franklin County sheriff said he had hoped the bourbon would be auctioned off for charity, but the Van Winkle family is worried the bourbon could have been tampered with or contaminated. He said the family wants the 28 bottles to be destroyed as a precaution.

It just so happens that a subsidiary of The Daring Fireball Company specializes in bourbon destruction. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Apple in 2015: The Six Colors Report Card 

Jason Snell:

2015 is in the books. As this is a site with Apple as a primary focus, I thought it might be worthwhile to ask a bunch of my colleagues who pay attention to Apple and related markets to take a moment and reflect on Apple’s performance in the past year.

A few months back, designer Khoi Vinh provided the seed of an idea: “an annual Apple report card, as graded by Mac journalists,” his email read.

So in December I emailed a group of writers, editors, podcasters, and developers, and asked them to take a brief survey. They were prompted with 11 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5, as well as optionally provide text commentary on their vote. I received 24 replies, with the average results as shown below.

The scores and commentary feel right to me (and not just because I was one of the participants). This is Jason Snell at his best — culling a pile of input into a tightly-edited cohesive narrative.

HBO Greenlights ‘Deadwood’ Reunion Movie 

Michael Ausiello, reporting for TVLine

Reports of a Deadwood comeback have not been greatly exaggerated. Quite the opposite, in fact.

HBO programming president Michael Lombardo confirmed to TVLine that he personally gave series creator David Milch the green light to resurrect the acclaimed yet painfully short-lived Western.

“David has our commitment that we are going to do it,” says Lombardo. “He pitched what he thought generally the storyline would be — and knowing David, that could change. But it’s going to happen.”

Oh, hell yes.

Hacked Toy Company VTech: Let Us Monitor Your House 

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, reporting for Motherboard:

Last year, an anonymous hacker broke into the systems of VTech, a company that makes internet-connected toys, tablets and baby monitors. The hacker was able to access the personal data of more than 6 million kids, as well as more than 4 million parents, including tens of thousand of pictures taken with the company’s Kid Connect app, which encourages children and parents to take selfies and chat online.

Less than two months later, VTech is now launching a whole suite of new internet-connected devices designed to monitor your house — and the company is promising that this time, it won’t leave the personal data of its customers exposed to hackers.

Good luck with that.

‘The Web vs. The Force’ 

Great video from Scott Galloway/L2 on the state of the retail industry:

Looking back at the winners and losers of the holiday shopping season, the biggest winner was Amazon. Capturing 51 cents of every additional dollar Americans spent online this year and accounting for over half of e-commerce growth, the Seattle behemoth appears to be unstoppable.

An unlikely winner? Malls — at least high-end ones, which are flourishing. The top-rated malls of 2015 all had upscale department stores, luxury brand stores and high-tech electronics stores.

I love this show. It’s like the inverse of old-school broadcast TV: dense with information, packed into just a few minutes. Regular TV is sparse with information, spread out over 30 minutes or an hour.

Matt Granger on ‘The Force Awakens’ 

Matt Granger:

The Huffington Post’s article, “40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.

Over the last few weeks I saw this article reposted over and over both by folks in the film industry and outside of it. The reposts often carried captions from Facebook users like “Yep!” or “This is exactly my problem”. Oh shit. Did I miss something? Maybe the Huffington Post and half of Facebook saw something I didn’t. I needed to know more. So I read the article. I read it numerous times. In the end, I came to my own conclusion…

The Huffington Post has no idea what the fuck it’s talking about.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve grown exhausted with the horseshit, hater culture that online, millennial ‘journalists’ use to click-bait their way to some sort of self-perceived intellectual high ground. Hate first. Don’t bother asking questions later.

Loved this takedown.

How Much Does Apple Pay Jony Ive? 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

The salary of the man who has designed every Apple product from the iMac to the Apple Watch has never been disclosed to the SEC or the press. The last time he filed an SEC Form 4 — required whenever there’s a material change in an insider’s position — was July 2009.

According to Apple, Ive is exempt from SEC rules because he’s not what the commission calls a “Section 16” employee. Despite his title — chief design officer — the company does not classify him as a director or officer of the company.

I’ve long suspected Ive is the highest-paid employee in the company. That he might be better-compensated than even Tim Cook seems like the sort of thing Cook would have no issue with.

Fast Company Report on Apple Dropping 3.5mm Audio Jack in Next iPhone 

Mark Sullivan, writing for Fast Company:

Apple’s next big phone — presumably called the iPhone 7 — will come without a 3.5mm headphone jack, will be noticeably thinner, will very likely support wireless charging and be waterproof, a source with knowledge of the company’s plans tells Fast Company.

As has been rumored, our source confirms that the new phone will rely on its Lightning cable port for sound output to wired headphones. That port has been used for power and data transfer in recent iPhones. Users can also use wireless headphones.

So far, believable. (Worth noting, however, that the Lightning port already works with headphones.) Including magnetic charging at the same time they drop the 3.5mm audio port would solve the problem of how one listens to audio while charging the phone at the same time.

Some media reports have suggested that Apple will include a set of Lightning-connected EarPod earphones in the box with the iPhone 7. It’s more likely, our source says, that Apple will sell a more expensive pair of noise-canceling, Lightning-connected, earphones or headphones separately — possibly under its Beats brand.

This is madness. Beats will almost certainly sell a wide assortment of Lightning headphones if the iPhone goes Lightning-only, but Apple has to include a pair of Lightning or Bluetooth earbuds in the box. It would be madness not to.

Still other media reports say that Apple may include with the iPhone 7 an adapter that will allow users to plug regular 3.5mm analog headphones into the new phone.

This doesn’t sound like Apple to me. When Apple drops an old port or changes from an old port to a new one, they (almost) never include adapters for free. In fact, they tend to charge stiff prices for them. Apple’s 30-pin to Lightning adapter costs $29. Even worse, the “media report” linked to by Sullivan is this story by Jeremy Horowitz for 9to5Mac, which makes no such claim. Here is what Horowitz reported:

The report claims that Apple will bundle Lightning connector-equipped EarPods with the next iPhone, incorporating a tiny DA (Digital to Analog) converter into the connector. To ensure iPhone 7 compatibility, third-party wired headphone makers will need to include either Lightning cables or 3.5mm to Lightning adapters with their headphones. Bluetooth headphone makers will have no such issues.

Horowitz (who was just translating from an original report from the Japanese site Macotakara) is clearly saying that third-party headphone makers might start including 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapters, not that Apple would include such an adapter with the phone. Sullivan’s poor reading comprehension doesn’t give me much faith in his reporting or judgment regarding anonymous sources. Sullivan is the same guy who, in 2014, reported that Apple was working with Swatch on the Apple Watch:

Apple has been working with at least one partner, Swatch, to release a line of smartwatches in variety of branded styles and price points, a source with knowledge of the situation tells VentureBeat.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere Defends His Streaming Plan Against “Bullshit” Complaints From “Jerks” at Google 

Tim Fernholz, reporting for Quartz:

In a video rant released this morning, T-Mobile CEO John Legere responded to complaints about its video service from Google and open internet advocates, calling his critics “jerks” whose critiques are “bullshit” designed to bolster their companies and confuse his customers.

I love this guy. I wouldn’t call the video a “rant” at all.

Unfortunately (for T-Mobile), the EFF thinks the “Binge On” service is definitely throttling, because it applies to all video, not just video from the publishers who have joined the program.

Update: Legere’s answer to the EFF.

The H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch 

Ben Clymer:

The first thing you’ll notice about the Swiss Alp Watch is that it, well, looks exactly like the Apple Watch. You’ve got that beautiful, rounded, rectangular-shaped case that oozes the great Jony Ive-led Apple Design team. But instead of a touch screen with any number of apps, you have a gorgeous grey fume dial, something for which Moser is well known among watch aficionados. […]

The Moser Swiss Alp Watch looks and feels just like the Apple Watch on the wrist, and in fact is the same size as the 38 mm variation. It is white gold, so the weight is considerably more, but the feel is very much the same. Only 50 pieces will be made, all in white gold, and at a price of $24,900 — only a little bit more than the all-rose-gold Apple Watch Edition.

Kind of crazy.

Ken Griffey Jr. Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame With Record-Breaking, But Not Unanimous, Vote 

Andrew Simon, reporting for MLB.com:

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza are headed to Cooperstown as the Class of 2016.

Both were announced as Hall of Famers on Wednesday, when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting was revealed live on MLB Network and MLB.com. Griffey was named on 99.3 percent of ballots (437 of 440), breaking the record of 98.84 percent set by Tom Seaver in 1992.

It’s certainly an honor to have the highest percentage of votes in history, but it’s ridiculous that anyone voted against Griffey. He was fucking amazing — high OBP, 630 career home runs, 10 Gold Gloves in the outfield. If Ken Griffey Jr. isn’t a Hall of Fame baseball player, no one is. This handful of BBWAA voters who believe no one should get in unanimously think they’re protecting some sort of noble tradition (“If Babe Ruth wasn’t elected unanimously, no one should be” is how I’ve heard it argued), but they’re just making fools of themselves. That 3 out of 440 voters didn’t vote for Griffey makes it look like some of the voters don’t know anything about baseball.

Same for Greg Maddux two years ago, Randy Johnson last year, and just about everyone else who’s ever gotten 97 percent or higher. Who didn’t vote for Tony Gwynn or Cal Ripken in 2007? It boggles the mind.

(Bookmark this for a few years from now, when Mariano Rivera is eligible, and the year after, when Derek Jeter is.)

Why the 2012 Non-Retina MacBook Pro Still Sells 

Great post from Marco Arment:

The 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro, model MD101LL/A, was launched in 2012 for $1199. Almost four years later, it’s still for sale, completely unchanged except for a price drop to $1099 in 2013.

Despite the low-resolution screen, slow hard drives, very little RAM, and CPUs that were middling even in 2012, it’s an open secret among Apple employees that the “101” still sells surprisingly well — to a nearly tragic degree, given its age and mediocrity.

Geeks like me often wonder why anyone would still buy such an outdated machine. I’ve heard from many people who buy it (or who’ve been unsuccessful in talking others out of it), and it’s surprisingly compelling, especially for volume-buying, price-conscious customers such as schools and big businesses.

In short: it’s cheap, can use cheap spinning hard drives (with large capacities), has a DVD drive, and performance is not that far behind today’s current retina MacBook Pros. (That last one is on Intel’s shoulders.) I care deeply about retina displays, SSD storage reliability and performance, and I have no interest in a DVD drive. Others do, though.

It occurs to me that for all our collective worrying about the iOS-ification of Mac OS X, it’s the MacBook hardware that’s gotten iOS-ified, not the software. Thinness as a top priority, and an almost complete lack of upgradeability. The MacBook Pro 101 is the last MacBook that was meant for hardware tinkering.

Circus Ponies Is Out of Business 

Sort of a confusing announcement from long-time Mac (and NeXT — we’re talking really long-time) developer Circus Ponies:

After 13 years in business, Circus Ponies has gone to that great Alphabet company in the sky. It was a good run, but we are done (as in no longer in business).

If you need a copy of NoteBook 4.0 (3.x and earlier don’t run on OS X El Capitan) or need technical support, you can try sending an e-mail to support@circusponies.com. There’s a chance someone will respond but no guarantees.

Best of luck.

I don’t understand the clause “that great Alphabet company in the sky”. The app is clearly dead, but is developer Jayson Adams going to work at Google? Or is it just an excuse for the Alphabet parody page now at “circusponies.xyz”?

NoteBook exemplified peak skeuomorphism: page curls, lined notebook paper background — it even had spiral rings along the side of the window. Crazy days. The history of the app is interesting. Ted Goranson covered it in his outliner column for About This Particular Macintosh back in May 2004:

A particular background is always mentioned in this context: once upon a time there was a much admired NeXT notebook outliner called “NoteBook,” from Millennium Software. At some point, the two principals left and started their own companies, those we see here. Jayson Adams is the man behind Circus Ponies NoteBook; Scott Love heads AquaMinds and NoteTaker.

Both seem to have kept the rights to the original NoteBook code and certainly some NeXT code has been brought forward, but I suspect it to be a small portion in each case.

Most prospective users might think this indicates that the products are as similar as they initially appear. But consider that these two developers quarrelled severely enough to get a divorce. Presumably they differed on fundamental aspects of the notebook and the philosophies behind it. I think this is the case, because under the similar skins are two different religions.

NoteTaker, for what it’s worth, is still around, but the app hasn’t been updated since 2013, and the user manual hasn’t been updated since July 2012.

(Also: How great is it that ATPM had a regular column dedicated to outliners?)

Revisiting Gartner and IDC 2011 Predictions That Windows Phone Would Pass iOS in 2015 

Bryan Chaffin, writing for The Mac Observer:

Let us harken back to 2011. The global economy was climbing its way out of the Great Recession of 2008. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2 was all the rage. Apple released iPad 2 and iPhone 4s, and of course, that was the year Steve Jobs died after many years of battling cancer.

It was also when Gartner and IDC both predicted that Microsoft’s Windows Phone would surpass Apple’s iPhone to become the world’s second biggest mobile platform. They both penciled in Research In Motion’s (now BlackBerry) BlackBerry for 4th place.

It was very, very hard for analysts who witnessed the ’80s and (especially) the ’90s to wrap their brains around the fact that Microsoft was going to lose an OS war. There was no good reason for anyone in 2011 to think Windows Phone was going to thrive other than a belief that “Microsoft always finds a way to win”.

(I hope to avoid the same trap with Apple.)

The Toaster-Fridge Awakens 

Michael Gartenberg, fresh off his stint as a director in Apple’s product marketing group, surveys the field at CES 2016:

CES started as a trade show for retail. In the ’80s and ’90s, it was a venue for great technology intros such as the CD (1981), the DVD, (1986) and HDTV (1998). By 2000, CES was the place to launch major products such as Xbox (2001). When I look at this year’s show, I see a lot of things no one needs, and few people will want. It’s a Sharper Image catalog brought to life, the ultimate “Why? Because I can!” So why is it still an important event? It’s the place to try and spot the new, new thing that might get consumers to replace the old, old thing. So far, I don’t see it but here’s what I do see.

Can You Spot the Difference? 

The shamelessness on the part of Lenovo is almost breathtaking.

Update: And then there’s Samsung’s new TV interface: white frosted translucent overlay with 16:9 sharp-cornered app icons. Rings a bell.

Apple: Record-Breaking Holiday Season for the App Store 

Apple press release:

In the two weeks ending January 3, customers spent over $1.1 billion on apps and in-app purchases, setting back-to-back weekly records for traffic and purchases. January 1, 2016 marked the biggest day in App Store history with customers spending over $144 million. It broke the previous single-day record set just a week earlier on Christmas Day. […]

Worldwide, the App Store has brought in nearly $40 billion for developers since 2008, with over one-third generated in the last year alone.

I’m really curious how that figure breaks down across app categories. I can’t help but suspect a huge chunk of it is in-app consumables for games.

Largely as a result of the App Store’s success, Apple is now responsible for creating and supporting 1.9 million jobs in the U.S. alone. Nearly three-quarters of those jobs — over 1.4 million — are attributable to the community of app creators, software engineers and entrepreneurs building apps for iOS, as well as non-IT jobs supported directly and indirectly through the app economy.*

That asterisk at the end is a footnote pointing to the source for this claim: “App Economy Jobs in the United States”, a paper by Michael Mandel published today by the Progressive Policy Institute.

Google Is Tracking Students’ Computer Usage 

John Moltz, on a report in the Washington Post about Google tracking student usage of Google Apps in schools:

Google says its apps comply with the law which I have no reason to doubt. Assuming that’s true, this is then a cost that should be figured into the schools’ purchasing decisions. A hard-to-quantify cost that budget-conscious administrators will ignore.

My son’s school does everything through Google Docs, and I hate it.

Twitter to Expand Tweet’s 140-Character Limit to 10,000 

Yoree Koh, reporting for the WSJ:

One of Twitter’s most beloved features is set to change: The company is planning to extend its 140-character limit to as many as 10,000, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In a tweet on Tuesday after the news spilled out, co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted a screenshot of text — 1,317 characters with spaces — explaining his thinking behind the expansion. “We’ve spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it,” Mr. Dorsey wrote. “Instead, what if that text… was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That’s more utility and power.” Despite the change, Mr. Dorsey said Twitter will “never lose that feeling” of speed, creativity and brevity.

This sounds like what I’ve been hoping they’d do: treat longer-than-140-character posts as an attachment type, like quoted tweets, images, etc.

‘Significant Contribution’ 

Horace Dediu applies his “Cook Doctrine” to the idea of an Apple car:

So what does being significant in the car business mean? Does it mean becoming the next Tesla? The next BYD or the next VW? How quickly?

Fortunately, we have something to compare an Apple entry to. Apple has made a “significant” market entry in phones and others have made entries in cars. If we contrast the rate of growth of Tesla, EVs, and Hybrids to the rate of growth of iPhones in their respective US markets, we obtain a test of significance. […]

Within a similar time frame, the range for entrant company share capture spanned between 0.15% (Tesla as percent of US car market) and 35% (Apple iPhone percent of US phone market).

The differences are thus measured with two orders of magnitude (>100×). Put another way, if Tesla’s car entry was equivalent to Apple’s iPhone entry they would have delivered about 5.5 million cars rather than the 50.5k they delivered in 2015.

Speaking of Apple making cars, did anyone notice the doors on the prototype Apple retail store that Charlie Rose toured with Angela Ahrendts on 60 Minutes?

Update: Those new-style wide doors are already in place at Apple’s brand-new store at the Mall of the Emirates.

Dell Customer Database Is in the Hands of Scammers 

10 Zen Monkeys:

Scammers pretending to be from Dell computers phoned me in November — but these scammers knew things about me. They identified the model number for both my Dell computers, and knew every problem that I’d ever called Dell about. None of this information was ever posted online, so it’s not available anywhere except Dell’s own customer service records. (Even my e-mail account is secured with “two-step verification”…)

I called the (real) Dell, and spoke to a customer support representative named Mark, who tried to explain how the scammers knew my account history.

“Dell has detected hackers,” he said. “They’re hacking our web site.”

Weird.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S 

Pete Pachal, reporting for Mashable from CES:

The Galaxy Tab Pro S is a Surface Pro clone in that it’s a Windows 10 tablet that sorta, kinda “converts” into a laptop when it’s attached to a keyboard case. The keyboard even connects to the tablet via a magnetic connector, just like the Surface.

Samsung’s take has some important distinctions, however. First, Samsung is using one of its Super AMOLED screens for the display, so it’s thin and power-efficient. It measures 12 inches diagonal and has a resolution of 2,160 × 1,440.

Interesting choice to go with Windows instead of Android.

Former Employees Claim Microsoft Failed to Warn Victims of Chinese Email Hack 

Joseph Menn, reporting last week for Reuters:

Microsoft Corp experts concluded several years ago that Chinese authorities had hacked into more than a thousand Hotmail email accounts, targeting international leaders of China’s Tibetan and Uighur minorities in particular — but it decided not to tell the victims, allowing the hackers to continue their campaign, according to former employees of the company. […]

After a vigorous internal debate in 2011 that reached Microsoft’s top security official, Scott Charney, and its then-general counsel and now president, Brad Smith, the company decided not to alert the users clearly that anything was amiss, the former employees said. Instead, it simply forced users to pick new passwords without disclosing the reason.

The employees said it was likely the hackers by then had footholds in some of the victims’ machines and therefore saw those new passwords being entered.

One of the reasons Microsoft executives gave internally in 2011 for not issuing explicit warnings was their fear of angering the Chinese government, two people familiar with the discussions said.

Barack Obama’s 2015 in Photographs 

Pete Souza, chief official White House photographer:

One of the best and most challenging aspects of my job is whittling down a year’s worth of photographs to the final selections for my annual Year in Photographs. Every year, I attempt to keep it less than 100 photos — and every year I fail in that goal. But I am excited once again to present this gallery for the seventh consecutive year.

Some really great photos.

Fred Wilson’s Predictions for 2016  

Fred Wilson:

One of the big four will falter in 2016. My guess is Apple. They did not have a great year in 2015 and I’m thinking that it will get worse in 2016.

Anything is possible, but when your link supporting the statement that Apple “did not have a great 2015” is Gizmodo clickbait, it does not inspire confidence that Wilson understands Apple any more than he did in 2009, when he sold all of his Apple stock for (split-adjusted) $13 a share. Today it’s at $105.

Bitcoin finally finds a killer app with the emergence of Open Bazaar protocol powered zero take rate marketplaces. (note [sic] that OB1, an open bazaar powered service, is a USV portfolio company).

“Next year is the year for Bitcoin” is the new “Next year is the year for desktop Linux.”

Slack will become so pervasive inside of enterprises that spam will become a problem and third party Slack spam filters will emerge.

I don’t think Fred Wilson is very good at predicting things.

TrackR Atlas 

My thanks to TrackR for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote the Track Atlas. Atlas is a system for keeping track of where your stuff is: your keys, wallet, purse, pets — almost anything. You plug small Atlas plugs into outlets throughout your home and they create a map. Then just attach a small tracker tag to everything you want to keep track of. If you forgot where an item is, see its location on a floor plan or via voice search. You can even see a history of where an item or pet has been and get alerted when an item leaves an area.

Check out their website for a video showing just how simple it is. TrackR Atlas is an Indiegogo project that’s already raised over $200,000 from over 1,400 contributors.

The Website Obesity Crisis 

Maciej Ceglowski on why the modern web is so bloated and slow, and why it matters:

These comically huge homepages for projects designed to make the web faster are the equivalent of watching a fitness video where the presenter is just standing there, eating pizza and cookies.

The world’s greatest tech companies can’t even make these tiny text sites, describing their flagship projects to reduce page bloat, lightweight and fast on mobile.

I can’t think of a more complete admission of defeat.

Amen.

The Talk Show: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Holiday Spectacular 

A brief holiday chat about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with a cavalcade of special guests, including Guy English and Amy Jane Gruber.

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