Linked List: July 2016

The Talk Show: ‘Low Grade Scam’ 

This week’s special guest: Joanna Stern. Topics include media gossip on Eddy Cue negotiations with cable TV companies, Apple’s aging notebook lineup, Apple’s upcoming product announcement event, the Windows 10 upgrade fiasco, and our sweaty feet.

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Notebook From Zoho 

My thanks to Zoho for again sponsoring the DF RSS feed to promote Notebook, their new app for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android. It’s a graceful, well-designed, beautiful alternative to Evernote. Notebook uses a few simple metaphors. At the top level are notebooks, which offer a huge assortment of creative cover options. Inside notebooks are cards, with four types: text, pictures, audio recordings, and to-do lists. It’s all very obvious and well structured, and they make great use of gestures to do things like pinch cards together to put them into a stack within a notebook.

It’s a free download, and absolutely worth checking out. A lot of thought and care went into the design and implementation of this app.

Option 6: No Bundled Ear Buds 

Regarding my piece yesterday on the five options I see for Apple regarding what kind of ear buds they’ll bundle with the upcoming no-headphone-jack iPhones, several readers suggested a sixth: no bundled ear buds in the box.

This strikes me as highly unlikely. Nine years later, “a widescreen iPod with touch controls” remains one of the fundamental purposes of the iPhone. It needs headphones of some sort, and if none are included in the box, it would reek of a nickel-and-dime move. Nor do I think Apple will simply include the 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter — like I wrote yesterday, that would imply that most people will use headphones with the standard jack, which is contrary to the notion of removing the standard port from the device.

Credit Card Companies Are Blowing It With Chip Payments in the U.S. 

Dieter Bohn, on the bungled roll-out of chip-and-PIN card terminals:

But in the meanwhile, we have to do this dance every time we check out, and it’s demeaning and dehumanizing. It’s doubly so because, as so many of my Twitter replies have pointed out, it’s a first-world kind of problem. So you feel like a little bit of a jerk for griping about it on top of feeling kind of dumb for not knowing how to accomplish the simplest thing in the world.

This transition from swiping to chips (or to mobile payments) was always going to be rough. But it’s way worse than I expected and retailers seem to be left to their own devices (literally!) when it comes to knowing what their payment machines should do.

Most of the new card readers I’ve seen here have handwritten labels on the chip readers that say something like “Chip doesn’t work” or “No chip yet”. But I bought some clothes last week at a store where the chip reader did work. I put the card in, waited (a lot longer than I should have), and then the reader played this awful grinding alarm sound, sort of like a “red alert” alarm. The sound made me think that the transaction did not go through. But it did — the dreadful sound was there to remind me to remove my card from the reader.

Compare and contrast with Apple Pay, which plays an utterly delightful ding when a transaction goes through. Night and day difference in terms of experience.

How the DNC Pulled Off That Colossal Balloon Drop 

Brian Barrett, writing for Wired:

“We had inflation stations where there were four or five of us in a group blowing them up, tying them up, throwing them into a funnel” that dumped out into a series of nets, DeFalco says. “It was a constant buzzing of the machines. Some of the people that weren’t professionals didn’t tie as fast, so we’d be tying and they’d be throwing it into the tunnel.”

There are dozens of these nets, each of which holds 2,000 balloons, says DeFalco. Those are then secured by a rigging team, and released with a simple pull of a string. Having lots of smaller parcels helps minimize the chance of a misfire, which is good, because there’s no Plan B. “There’s really not a backup,” says DeFalco. “There were so many, even if one or two didn’t work, you still had another 50 or 60 nets. The average person wouldn’t notice.”

Update: These balloon drops don’t always go smoothly. In 2004, the DNC balloon drop failed — and CNN mistakenly ran the audio control feed of event director Don Mischer. “I want all balloons to go, goddamnit! … What the fuck are you guys doing up there?”

The WSJ on Apple’s ‘Hard-Charging’ Negotiations With TV Networks 

Shalini Ramachandran and Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for the WSJ:

Some people close to the talks say Apple was reluctant to share important details, including how subscribers would navigate the channel menu. Comcast’s Mr. Roberts didn’t see Apple’s proposed user interface.

“How about you sketch it on the back of this napkin?” Apple was asked at one meeting, say former Time Warner Cable executives. An Apple official replied that the software would be “better than anything you’ve ever had.”

Of course Apple wasn’t going to show Comcast the interface. They didn’t show the iPhone to AT&T (then Cingular) back in 2006, either. And the fact that these TV executives are now talking to the news media about it shows why. Entertainment industry executives have notoriously loose lips.

Mr. Cue is also known for a hard-nosed negotiating style. One cable-industry executive sums up Mr. Cue’s strategy as saying: “We’re Apple.”

In 2013, Mr. Cue met with Mr. Britt, Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes and other executives in Mr. Britt’s office overlooking Manhattan’s Central Park. Time Warner owns HBO, TNT, CNN and other channels. Apple’s Mr. Cue arrived 10 minutes late and was wearing jeans, tennis shoes with no socks, and a Hawaiian shirt, says a person familiar with the meeting. The other executives were wearing suits.

The thing is, they are Apple. Apple wants deals with these TV networks, but doesn’t need them. Matthew Panzarino:

Translation: Apple wasn’t budging and can afford to wait so content providers are playing this out in the press.

Josephine Wolff: ‘The DNC Should Never Have Been Running Its Own Email Server’ 

Josephine Wolff:

The DNC is never going to be the equal of these companies employing thousands of engineers and managing millions of email accounts when it comes to security, so perhaps it should stop trying and let the experts take over.

That’s a suggestion bordering on sacrilege to many people who care about security, who believe real security and strong encryption are possible only when you manage your own data and encryption keys yourself. And it’s true that trusting a company to manage your email reduces your security in some ways. For one thing, it certainly means that company has access to all your email messages. For another, it may mean that law enforcement or intelligence officials can access those messages without your knowledge through court orders or mutual agreements with that company. So there are definitely trade-offs, and if those are the security threats you’re most worried about, and you’re equipped to configure your own server setup, then you probably should not entrust your email to a third-party provider.

If, however, you’re more concerned about your email being read by external attackers in, say, Russia, then the perceived security of handling all your own email may do more harm than good. And if your area of expertise is political strategizing and maneuvering, rather than encryption protocols and firewall configurations, you would almost certainly be better off delegating responsibility for your email to a company that knows what it’s doing.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since the DNC emails leaked — and in light of Hillary Clinton’s controversy over the use of a private email server. Should these organizations even be using email at all? Server-side storage makes searching and access to one’s account from multiple devices more convenient, but it exposes these organizations to huge risk. Mobile messaging with end-to-end encryption (Signal, iMessage, WhatsApp) is in many ways less capable than email, and eliminates certain decades old conventions like “forwarding”, but it’s inherently more secure.

Email might be too ingrained to walk away from. It’s universal. But the high-profile targets like the DNC (or the United States Secretary of State) running their own servers is certainly not the answer. What’s the best solution?

Update: Slack is an obvious and common choice. But the difference between Slack and email is that email allows for communication with the outside world, not merely internal communication with a team.

One More on the Quarterly Results Front: Twitter 

Mike Isaac, reporting for the NYT:

On Tuesday, Twitter’s ailing position among its peers was underscored once more when the company reported its worst quarterly revenue growth ever and only a slight increase in users for the second quarter. The company also signaled that its prospects were unlikely to improve in the short term.

Twitter posted revenue of $602 million for the quarter, up 20 percent from a year ago and below Wall Street estimates of $607 million. Its net loss narrowed to $107 million, or 15 cents a share. Twitter’s users grew 3 percent from a year ago, to 313 million.

Twitter’s advertising strategy has never made sense to me. My gut feeling is that Twitter is not long for this world as an independent company.

Facebook Reports Huge Increase in Profit, Almost All of It Mobile 

Over $2 billion in profit for the quarter, up from just $719 million a year ago. That’s amazing growth. Among their highlights:

  • Daily active users (DAUs) — DAUs were 1.13 billion on average for June 2016, an increase of 17 percent year-over-year.
  • Mobile DAUs — Mobile DAUs were 1.03 billion on average for June 2016, an increase of 22 percent year-over-year.
  • Mobile advertising revenue — Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 84 percent of advertising revenue for the second quarter of 2016, up from approximately 76 percent of advertising revenue in the second quarter of 2015.

They’ve completely pivoted from a website meant for PC browsers to a mobile company with a slew of popular apps.

The New York Times puts this in context:

The rise was driven by strong mobile ad sales, as well as a steady ascent in its number of users. Facebook now counts 1.71 billion monthly active users, up 15 percent from a year ago. And in a sign of how indispensable the social network is to people, the amount of money the company can squeeze from each user globally jumped to $3.82, up from $2.76 a year earlier. In the United States and Canada, Facebook’s most valuable markets, the company makes an average of $14.34 per user.

Alphabet’s ‘Moonshot Projects’ Lost $859 Million Last Quarter 

Seth Fiegerman, reporting for CNN Money:

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, saw sales from its so-called moonshot projects hit $185 million in the quarter ending in June, more than doubling sales from the same quarter a year ago. But the company is losing far more money from those efforts. Losses for “other bets,” as Alphabet characterizes the segment, rose to $859 million for the quarter from $660 million a year earlier.

Those bets include risky, capital intensive projects like self-driving cars and Google Fiber, which delivers high-speed Internet. Most of Google’s sales in this group are said to come from Fiber as well as Nest, and Verily, a life sciences division. Those mounting losses may put a dent in Alphabet’s pitch to Wall Street that it can be more responsible with its spending.

Alphabet as a whole reported $4.88 billion in profit for the quarter, so these moonshots are well within the company’s means, but you can see why investors might want to see the company shut these things down.

They’re obviously worried about it. Last week they granted Conor Dougherty of The New York Times behind-the-scenes access, which included this observation:

What all these efforts have in common, besides imaginative power, is that they do not make any money. X’s budget and head count are a secret, but shareholders’ perceptions about the division were aptly summed up by a poster board in its Mountain View, Calif., offices. It had a picture of a burning $100 bill followed by, “Investors think we do this.”

And:

The combination of big ideas, lofty rhetoric and a strict code of secrecy has made X a source of endless speculation and conspiracy theories. The one you hear most frequently, usually from competitors and venture capitalists, is that X is a giant public relations plan to distract regulators from Google’s search business, which is under scrutiny around the world.

Cynical though that sounds, it points to something that seems fundamentally true: Many of history’s great corporate research efforts, like Bell Labs and Xerox PARC, have come from companies that were monopolies or close to it.

WSJ: ‘Google Profits Surge on Strong Ad Demand’ 

Jack Nicas, reporting for the WSJ:

Alphabet’s growth continued in the second quarter as companies bought more ads on its search engine and other products, while users increasingly clicked on those ads. Alphabet revenue, fueled almost entirely by Google’s advertising business, rose 21 percent to $21.5 billion in the second quarter from a year ago, or 25 percent on a constant currency basis. Excluding payments to advertising partners, revenue was $17.5 billion, beating analysts’ estimate of $16.86 billion.

Net profit for Alphabet rose to $4.88 billion, or $7 a share, from $3.93 billion, or $4.93 a share, a year prior. Excluding certain items, Alphabet earned $8.42 a share, beating analysts’ estimates of $8.04 a share.

Another interesting point of comparison: Samsung’s handset business alone generated about the same results as Alphabet as a whole last quarter.

The iPod Classic and Obsolescence 

Lindsay Zoladz, writing for The Ringer:

“Wow,” a man said to me recently on the subway, “I haven’t seen one of those things in years.” He gestured toward the scuffed-yet-still-sleek, aluminum-colored rectangle in my hand — a 160GB sixth generation iPod Classic. I blinked for a moment. We were not talking about, say, a quill pen, a monocle, or a bottle of Crystal Pepsi, but an electronic device I had purchased in 2010.

I knew what he meant, though. Technology moves at hyperspeed. Apple has created and helped universalize a particular kind of planned obsolescence — its products have to go out of fashion and/or break every few years, to ensure you’ll buy a newer one — and as a result, in the eyes of the general public, Last Year’s Model has never looked like more of an antique.

It strikes me as odd to state as fact that Apple’s products are designed to “break every few years” one paragraph after saying she still uses a six-year-old iPod.

Michael Heilemann, in a comment:

Eh… Isn’t it more that technology, and especially Apple, has a tendency to move so fast that obsolescence naturally occurs?

Exactly. The idea is even more absurd when you consider that Apple products hold their value on the resale market far longer than competing products. As I wrote three years ago:

If your car breaks down after just a few years, are you not more likely to replace it with a different brand? To posit that Apple customers are somehow different, that when they feel screwed by Apple their response is to go back for more, is “Cult of Mac” logic — the supposition that most Apple customers are irrational zealots or trend followers who just mindlessly buy anything with an Apple logo on it. The truth is the opposite: Apple’s business is making customers happy, and keeping them happy. They make products for discriminating people who have higher standards and less tolerance for design flaws or problems.

DigiTimes Hints at Updated MacBook Air With USB‑C 

Cage Chao and Joseph Tsai, reporting for the notoriously unreliable DigiTimes on the industry’s slow uptake of USB-C:

Currently, Apple has decided to adopt the USB Type-C interface for its MacBook Air, while Asustek Computer and Hewlett-Packard (HP) are upgrading one of their notebooks’ regular USB port to the Type-C. Lenovo, Acer and Dell are still evaluating the option.

It is possible that Apple has a significant update to the MacBook Air in the works. But my hunch remains that they do not. If there’s any truth to the above, I’m guessing the above is actually the new MacBook Pro.

Samsung Posts Highest Profits in Over Two Years Thanks to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge 

Harish Jonnalagadda, reporting for Android Central:

Strong sales of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge have led to Samsung posting an operating profit of $7.22 billion (8.14 trillion won) in Q2 2016, up 18% from the same period a year ago. Overall revenue was $45.1 billion (50.94 trillion won), a 5% increase from Q2 2015.

The handset business accounted for half of Samsung’s bottom line, with the division netting $3.83 billion (4.32 trillion won) in profit on a revenue of $23.5 billion (26.56 trillion won). Samsung noted that the larger and more expensive S7 edge model made up over half of the sales of its flagship series, with the Galaxy A series and J series also seeing an uptick in sales in the mid-range and low-end segments.

Those numbers for revenue and profit are remarkably similar to Apple’s for the same quarter ($42.4 billion in revenue, $7.8 billion in profit). Android isn’t making money for handset makers in general, but it is for Samsung.

Update: I took the numbers from Android Central at face value, but should not have. “Operating profit” is not the value to compare, net profit is. Samsung’s net profit for the quarter was $5.2 billion.

Apple Celebrates One Billion iPhones Sold 

Not bad for nine years, but even more impressive when you consider they reached 500 million just two years ago.

Update: Engadget, shockingly, filed the news under “finally”.

Apple Hires QNX Founder Dan Dodge to Work on Car Project 

Mark Gurman and Alex Webb, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has hired the former head of BlackBerry Ltd.’s automotive software division as new leadership at the iPhone-maker’s car team places increased emphasis on developing self-driving technology, according to people familiar with the project.

Dan Dodge, the founder and former chief executive officer of QNX, the operating system developer that BlackBerry acquired in 2010, joined Apple earlier this year, the people said. He is part of a team headed by Bob Mansfield, who, since taking over leadership of the cars initiative — dubbed Project Titan — has heralded a shift in strategy, according to a person familiar with the plan.

The initiative is now prioritizing the development of an autonomous driving system, though it’s not abandoning efforts to design its own vehicle. That leaves options open should the company eventually decide to partner with or acquire an established car maker, rather than build a car itself.

Self-driving capabilities have always been part of Apple’s car project. It’s obviously the future. Hiring Dodge seems like a big deal, though. QNX is one of the preeminent real-time operating systems. As Apple creates its own real-time OS, it’s surely helpful to have an executive with industry-leading experience in the field.

(This is Gurman’s first story for Bloomberg after leaving 9to5Mac.)

Howard Stern, Interviewer Extraordinaire 

David Segal, writing for The New York Times:

What I didn’t appreciate, until hearing Mr. Murray lay bare his deepest anxieties, is that since settling in to his new home on satellite radio, which he did in 2006, Mr. Stern and his show have gradually taken on an improbable new dimension. Scattered among the gleefully vulgar mainstays are now long, starkly intimate live exchanges — character excavations that have made Mr. Stern one of the most deft and engrossing celebrity interviewers in the business and a sought-after stop for stars selling a movie or setting the record straight.

“He’s truth serum,” said the comedian Amy Schumer, who has been on the show four times in the last five years. “It’s like you’re under contract to be totally honest in there, and even though it’s being broadcast, it feels super intimate and protected, even though you definitely aren’t.”

By all accounts, the metamorphosis has been slow — the result of a combination of therapy, his second marriage, mainstream acceptance and a sixth sense Mr. Stern has about how to evolve with the times.

“I couldn’t have done the show I’m doing now 20 years ago,” Mr. Stern said over the phone. “I’ve changed a lot. I’d be sort of pathetic if I’d reached this point in my life and I hadn’t. How else do you have longevity? There are so many guys who started out with me in radio, who have disappeared, because they can’t broaden their view of what entertainment should be, or get in touch with what they find to be exciting and fun and funny.”

Really good piece.

Apple Music Buys ‘Carpool Karaoke’ TV Series 

Cynthia Littleton, reporting for Variety:

“We love music, and ‘Carpool Karaoke’ celebrates it in a fun and unique way that is a hit with audiences of all ages,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services. “It’s a perfect fit for Apple Music — bringing subscribers exclusive access to their favorite artists and celebrities who come along for the ride.”

The most recent installment with first lady Michelle Obama and Missy Elliott has grabbed nearly 32 million views on YouTube since July 20. “Carpool” segments to date have generated more than 800 million views, according to CBS.

Apple is definitely getting into content.

Apple Q3 2016 Quarterly Results 

iPad revenue is up, services are up, everything else is a bit down. But the overall results are slightly better than expected.

Benedict Evans on the iOS-Android Platform War 

Benedict Evans:

The smartphone platform wars are pretty much over, and Apple and Google won. But it’s interesting, in passing, to note the final score, and think about what it means.

Interesting back-of-the-envelope math, including a somewhat eye-opening conclusion about how many more Google Android phones than iPhones are in use today worldwide.

Google Phone App Now Identifies Spam on Nexus and Android One Devices 

Google:

Spam callers be gone! Today, we’re beginning to update your Google Phone app with spam protection on Nexus and Android One devices to warn you about potential spam callers and give you the ability to block and report these numbers. If you already have Caller ID turned on, spam protection will be available on your phone once your app updates to the latest version.

I’ve been getting two or three spam calls a week lately. Would love this on iOS.

Update: Looks like I’m in luck: I completely forgot that this feature is already in iOS 10. I’m running the iOS 10 betas on iPad, but not on iPhone yet.

Verizon Announces $4.8 Billion Deal for Yahoo’s Internet Business 

Vindu Goel, reporting for the NYT:

Verizon, seeking to build an array of digital businesses that can compete for users and advertising with Google and Facebook, announced on Monday that it was buying Yahoo’s core internet business for $4.83 billion in cash.

The deal, which was reached over the weekend, unites two titans of the early internet, AOL and Yahoo, under the umbrella of one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies. Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion last year. Now it will add Yahoo’s consumer services — search, news, finance, sports, video, email and the Tumblr social network — to a portfolio that includes AOL as well as popular sites like The Huffington Post.

Good luck with that.

In an interview, Ms. Mayer said, “I plan to stay. I love Yahoo and I want to see it into its next chapter.” But she and Tim Armstrong, the chief executive of AOL, said it had not yet been decided if she would have a role at the company after the deal closed in early 2017.

If she is terminated, she will be due severance of about $57 million. If she received that payout, her total compensation from Yahoo for her service so far would be about $218 million, according to the compensation research firm Equilar.

Translation: She’s gone.

WSJ: ‘Apple Taps Bob Mansfield to Oversee Car Project’ 

Big scoop from Daisuke Wakabayashi:

Until recently, Mr. Mansfield — who, along with design chief Jony Ive, was one of the few executives to appear in Apple’s carefully-crafted product announcement videos — had all but retreated from the company aside from the occasional visit, these people said. Earlier this month, employees at Apple noticed in the company directory that all the senior managers on the car project were now reporting to Mr. Mansfield, they said.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on personnel matters. Mr. Mansfield didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

As sure a sign as any that the car project is full steam ahead, and totally serious.

Neil Young’s PonoMusic Store Goes Offline as It Switches Content Providers 

If not for this article in Billboard, would anyone have even noticed?

The Talk Show: Special Bullying Venue 

New episode of my podcast, with special guest Glenn Fleishman. Topics include security vulnerabilities on MacOS and iOS, ransomware, counterfeit products and outright fraud on Amazon, and online harassment and “free speech”.

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The Last VCR Will Be Produced This Month 

Ananya Bhattacharya, writing for Quartz:

Japan’s Funai Electronics, which makes its own electronics, in addition to supplying companies like Sanyo, will produce the last batch of VCR units by July 30, Nikkei reported (link in Japanese). The company cites difficulty in obtaining the necessary parts as one of the reasons for halting production.

It can take a surprisingly long time for a technology to go from obsolete to truly dead.

Part Two of Elon Musk’s Master Plan for Tesla 

Elon Musk:

So, in short, Master Plan, Part Deux is:

  • Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
  • Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
  • Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
  • Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it

Cogent read. Musk is a remarkably clear thinker. He’s often compared to Steve Jobs, and rightly so in many ways, but they sure aren’t alike in terms of revealing plans for the future.

Stephen Colbert’s Killer Week 

Some great stuff this week broadcasting live, after each night of the Republican National Convention. Jon Stewart’s desk piece last night was vintage Stewart, and Laura Benanti’s impression as Melania Trump was great. And we saw the return of Colbert’s conservative pundit alter ego.

NBA to Move All-Star Game to Protest North Carolina Bathroom Law 

Just in time for tonight’s finale of the Trumpster fire that is this year’s Republican National Convention.

The New Glif 

I’ve mentioned Studio Neat’s Glif camera mount for the iPhone many times before. It’s always been a great product. But now they’re launching an all-new version, and it looks really clever — it works with any size phone, in both portrait and landscape, and has additional mounts for things like microphones and hand grips. Their Kickstarter campaign is already funded, but I say pre-order yours now and put this project way over the top.

Nintendo’s Stock Has Doubled in Value Since Pokemon Go’s Release 

Yet another sign that the market, collectively, acts impetuously, but amazing nonetheless.

Birkenstock Quits Amazon After Counterfeit Surge 

Ari Levy, reporting for CNBC:

Plagued by counterfeits and unauthorized selling on the online shopping site, the sandals company will no longer supply products to Amazon in the U.S. starting Jan. 1. Additionally, Birkenstock won’t authorize third-party merchants to sell on the site, according to a letter the company sent to several thousand retail partners on July 5.

The memo, from Birkenstock USA CEO David Kahan, was obtained confidentially by CNBC.com.

“The Amazon marketplace, which operates as an ‘open market,’ creates an environment where we experience unacceptable business practices which we believe jeopardize our brand,” Kahan wrote from the company’s U.S. headquarters in Novato, California. “Policing this activity internally and in partnership with Amazon.com has proven impossible.”

Amazon has a real problem on its hands.

iOS Gets Thicker 

Luke Wroblewski posted an interesting side-by-side comparison of the Today view, Control Center, and standard sharing sheets in iOS 7 and the iOS 10 public beta. Much less transparency, more solid shapes in place of outlines, and more use of color. Wroblewski attributes this to Jony Ive’s “receding presence” at Apple. I do not agree. I think these changes were inevitable, no matter Ive’s day-to-day involvement with UI details. iOS 7 went to an extreme (remember the crazily thin weights of Helvetica Neue in the betas that summer?). A gradual thickening and increase in UI affordances (more buttons that look like buttons, card-like things that look more like cards; more discernible on and off states) seemed like the obvious course.

For what it’s worth, I really like the UI changes in iOS 10, on both the iPhone and iPad. This is the sort of thing that takes years of refinement to achieve. It wasn’t feasible for a 9-month project like the iOS 7 redesign to debut with this level of refinement.

Amazon’s Fraudulent Seller Problem 

Remember last week’s link about Chinese counterfeits polluting Amazon’s inventory? They have another problem: outright fraud. Emily Heller:

Tried to buy a doormat and here’s what arrived: a piece of foam with a photo of the thing I wanted printed on it.

Here’s an even more ridiculous example.

XKCD: Free Speech 

Good bookmark for those who persist in arguing that Twitter booting harassers from their service is an abridgment of “free speech”.

I will add: Expressing controversial or even unpopular opinions is one thing, and Twitter should remain open to that. Harassment is something else entirely, and Twitter should have zero tolerance for it. Empathetic human beings can tell the difference. Bullies, on the other hand, conflate the two. Milo Yiannopoulos getting kicked off Twitter had nothing to do with his conservative politics and everything to do with his leading a hate mob of racist misogynists.

I understand the concern that if Twitter starts suspending accounts for one thing (harassment), they might start suspending accounts for the other (expressing controversial opinions). That’s why Twitter’s solution needs to involve actual human beings. Rational people should have tolerance for ideas that offend them. No one should be asked to tolerate personal abuse.

‘The Internet Is Turning Us All Into Sociopaths’ 

Archived 2012 piece from the now-defunct The Kernel:

What’s disturbing about this new trend, in which commenters are posting what would previously have been left anonymously, is that these trolls seem not to mind that their real names, and sometimes even their occupations, appear clamped to their vile words. It’s as if a psychological norm is being established whereby comments left online are part of a video game and not real life. It’s as if we’ve all forgotten that there’s a real person on the other end, reading and being hurt by our vitriol. That’s as close to the definition of sociopath as one needs to get for an armchair diagnosis, though of course many other typical sociopathic traits are also being encouraged by social media.

Well-said. But the kicker is the byline.

(Via Charles Arthur.)

Dollar Shave Club: ‘Our Blades Are Fucking Great’ 

I’d seen this before and remember liking it, but Ben Thompson implored readers to re-watch it in his aforelinked piece on Dollar Shave Club’s $1 billion acquisition by Unilever, and I have to concur with his assessment: it’s one of the best product introduction videos of all time. 90 seconds long and not a word or moment is wasted.

Dollar Shave Club and the Disruption of Everything 

Ben Thompson:

Probably the most important fact when it comes to analyzing Unilever’s purchase of Dollar Shave Club is the $1 billion price: in the world of consumer packaged goods (CPG) it is shockingly low. After all, only eleven years ago Procter & Gamble (P&G) bought Gillette, the market leader in shaving,for a staggering $57 billion.

To be sure Gillette is still dominant — the brand controls 70 percent of the global blades and razors market — but there is little question that Dollar Shave Club is a much better deal, in every sense of the word. Understanding why Dollar Shave Club was cheap means understanding why its blades are cheap, and understanding that means understanding just how precarious the position of P&G specifically and incumbents generally is in the emerging Internet economy.

Fantastic piece — Thompson makes a strong case that the seemingly unrelated creation of Amazon Web Services and YouTube a decade ago created the opportunity for Dollar Shave Club to disrupt a titan like Gillette.

Exploring the App Store’s Top Grossing Chart 

Fascinating analysis and data visualizations by Graham Spencer, writing for MacStories:

One of the most striking things you’ll notice when browsing the Top 200 Grossing apps is that they are virtually all offered as free downloads. In my survey, just three apps were paid apps upfront; Minecraft (#33, $6.99), Grindr (#95, $0.99), and Facetune (#183, $3.99). The other 197 apps were free to download.

I knew intuitively that most top-grossing apps were free downloads with in-app purchases, but I wasn’t expecting the results to be so overwhelming.

(Also: What a remarkable game Minecraft is. Its staying power is amazing, and it is standing in lone opposition to the IAP-ification of mobile games.)

‘See if You Can’t Leave Me About a Good Inch From Where the Zipper Ends … Right on Back to My Bunghole’ 

Worth a re-link, for the sake of some politics we can all agree on: Lyndon Johnson ordering pants.

Twitter Permanently Suspends Milo Yiannopoulos 

Charlie Warzel, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Twitter has banned one of its most notoriously contentious voices. On Tuesday evening, the microblogging service permanently suspended the account of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, a day after he incited his followers to bombard Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets.

“People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,” a company spokesperson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. “But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”

This is being framed by Yiannopoulos’s supporters as suppression of free speech. These people are very confused about free speech. It’s simple: Yiannopoulos has the right to say and write whatever he wants. But Twitter is not a public resource. In the same way that a coffee shop or restaurant should never allow someone (let alone a mob of people) to harass other patrons, Twitter should not allow it on their service.

So kudos to Twitter for standing up to this troll. But it shouldn’t take a celebrity to drive Twitter to action. Twitter needs to systematically boot harassers at every level.

Joanna Stern on Amazon’s $50 Blu R1 HD Phone 

Joanna Stern, writing for the WSJ:

In life, you get what you pay for.*

*Exceptions: Costco wine, $1 New York City pizza and the Blu R1 HD smartphone, now sold by Amazon for $50. In those cases, the quality of the product far exceeds your low expectations.

Yes, you read that right, there’s an Android 6.0 smartphone that costs less than family dinner at the Olive Garden. It’s cheap, but it’s not, you know, cheap.

There’s a reason for that. Even though Amazon sells the R1 HD for as little as $50, on the open market it starts at $100. Why the discount? Ads. Sorry, “special offers.” Which are ads.

This is a much more Amazon-like phone than the Fire Phone was, and I suspect, more likely to be a success.

Drudge Report: Roger Ailes Leaves Fox News With $40M Parachute Amid Harassment Probe 

Katherine Krueger, writing for TPM:

The conservative link aggregator site Drudge Report reported Tuesday afternoon that Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was leaving his post as an investigation into Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment of employees is underway.

While the site’s signature blaring siren landing page featured the breaking headline, no source was immediately provided.

It would be hard to overstate the influence Ailes held over modern political discourse here in the U.S. Fox News changed the country, and Ailes was Fox News.

As for Drudge’s source — it has to be Rupert Murdoch, or one of his sons.

Update: 21st Century Fox statement on Twitter:

21CF statement: Roger is at work. The review is ongoing. The only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement.

But The New York Times reports that his tenure is all but over.

The Safe Haven of False Equivalence 

Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann, writing for Vox:

In April 2012, we created a major stir in the political world with a long piece in the Washington Post Sunday Outlook section called, “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.” It was adapted from our book published days later, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, and this was our money quote:

The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier in American politics — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

As scholars who had worked for more than four decades with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, we faced a ton of scorn from sitting Republican lawmakers and outside observers for making this argument — and denial from most of the mainstream media. For reporters, professional norms and concerns about accusations of partisan bias dictated that the parties be treated equally, whatever the underlying reality. The safe haven of false equivalence led the press to ignore one of the most consequential developments in contemporary American politics: the radicalization of the Republican Party.

Particularly apt after the opening night of the Republican convention, which saw multiple speakers calling for the opposing party’s candidate to be “locked up”, Russian-style, and an opening benediction — a prayer — that described the opposing party as “enemies”.

‘The Secret History of Mac Gaming’ 

Richard Moss is raising funds to publish what sounds like an amazing and beautiful book, on the history of Mac gaming. Just the list of interviews brings back a flood of memories. The book is at 61 percent of its funding goal as I type this — I’d love to see the DF audience push it over the top.

Update: Now fully-funded. Great news. Can’t wait to read this book.

Trump’s Ghostwriter Speaks 

Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker:

And so Schwartz had returned for more, this time to conduct an interview for Playboy. But to his frustration Trump kept making cryptic, monosyllabic statements. “He mysteriously wouldn’t answer my questions,” Schwartz said. After twenty minutes, he said, Trump explained that he didn’t want to reveal anything new about himself — he had just signed a lucrative book deal and needed to save his best material.

“What kind of book?” Schwartz said.

“My autobiography,” Trump replied.

“You’re only thirty-eight — you don’t have one yet!” Schwartz joked.

“Yeah, I know,” Trump said.

“If I were you,” Schwartz recalls telling him, “I’d write a book called ‘The Art of the Deal.’ That’s something people would be interested in.”

“You’re right,” Trump agreed. “Do you want to write it?”

U.S. Army Special Operations Switching From Android to iPhone 

Matthew Cox, reporting for DoD Buzz:

The iPhone 6S will become the end-user device for the iPhone Tactical Assault Kit — special-operations-forces version Army’s Nett Warrior battlefield situational awareness tool, according to an Army source, who is not authorized to speak to the media. The iTAC will replace the Android Tactical Assault Kit.

The iPhone is “faster; smoother. Android freezes up” and has to be restarted too often, the source said. The problem with the Android is particularly noticeable when viewing live feed from an unmanned aerial system such as Instant Eye, the source said.

When trying to run a split screen showing the route and UAS feed, the Android smart phone will freeze up and fail to refresh properly and often have to be restarted, a process that wastes valuable minutes, the source said.

“It’s seamless on the iPhone,” according to the source. “The graphics are clear, unbelievable.”

Apple couldn’t write a better story themselves.

GlaxoSmithKline to Use ResearchKit for Clinical Research 

Caroline Chen and Alex Webb, reporting for Bloomberg:

GlaxoSmithKline Plc has started a rheumatoid arthritis study using Apple Inc.’s ResearchKit, marking the first time a drugmaker has used the health system for the iPhone to conduct clinical research.

Glaxo wants to record the mobility of 300 participants over three months and will also ask the patients to input both physical and emotional symptoms, such as pain and mood. The app Glaxo created from ResearchKit comes with a guided wrist exercise that uses the phone’s sensors to record motion, giving the drugmaker a standardized measurement across all users. The company will use the results to help design better clinical trials.

I’m curious if they’ll supply participants with loaner iPhones. Or will they only choose participants who already have iPhones?

Update: A little birdie involved with this project says that for this survey, it’s a bring-your-own device situation, and they’re only recruiting participants who can run the app on their own iPhones.

SoftBank Group Nears Deal to Buy ARM Holdings 

Leslie Picker, reporting for the NYT:

SoftBank is nearing a deal to acquire ARM Holdings, the British semiconductor company, said two people briefed on the matter who asked not to be named discussing private information. […]

ARM, which designs chips and parts of chips, had a market capitalization of about $22 billion as of Friday’s close. ARM would be one of SoftBank’s largest acquisitions ever.

CNBC tweeted the price: “more than $32 billion”.

Apple Begins Rolling Out iTunes Match With Audio Fingerprint to Apple Music Subscribers 

Jim Dalrymple:

This is, in fact, the same version of iTunes Match that iTunes users could pay for as a separate subscription since Apple began offering it years ago. I am one of those users. However, all subscribers to Apple Music will get the new version of iTunes Match at no extra cost. This update also means that all Matched songs will download DRM-free.

If you are a current iTunes Match subscriber and subscribe to Apple Music, you can let your Match subscription lapse when it comes up for renewal and still receive the same benefits. If you don’t subscribe to Apple Music and still want the benefits of iTunes Match, hold on to your subscription.

I’m sure there are reasons for the way things are, but from the outside, combining iTunes Match and Apple Music should have been there from day one. It would have made transitioning so much easier and more compelling.

The Talk Show: ‘Mumbles and Grunts’ 

John Moltz returns to the show. Topics include parenting thoughts on controlling the amount of time our kids spend playing games and watching YouTube and Netflix, why Google’s apps for iOS are better than their apps for Android, Chromebooks in schools, Windows Phone’s bright future, Pokemon Go, and more. We also insult the driving abilities of people from Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Canada.

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Notebook From Zoho 

My thanks to Zoho for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Notebook, their new app for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android. It’s a graceful, well-designed, beautiful alternative to Evernote. Notebook uses a few simple metaphors. At the top level are notebooks, which have a huge assortment of cover options. Inside notebooks are cards, with four types: text, pictures, audio recordings, and to-do lists. It’s all very obvious and well structured, and they make great use of gestures to do things like pinch cards together to put them into a stack within a notebook.

It’s a free download, and absolutely worth checking out. A lot of thought and care went into the design and implementation of this app.

Turkey’s President Gives an Interview via FaceTime in the Middle of a Coup 

Matt Novak, writing for Gizmodo:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just gave an interview via FaceTime. The country is in chaos following a military coup that’s still ongoing. The military has declared martial law and is censoring the media networks but Erdogan was on CNN Turkey remotely with a broadcaster holding up her phone facing the cameras. Welcome to the 21st century.

Related: “Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Blocked in Turkey During Reported Coup Attempt”.

Nick Heer on Apple’s Aging Mac Lineup and Slumping Sales 

Nick Heer, writing at Pixel Envy:

MacRumors’ own buyers’ guide shows a “Don’t Buy” indicator below every Mac except the MacBook. Of the current lineup, fully half of all Macs — the Mac Pro, the Retina MacBook Pro, and the MacBook Air — are the most stale that those products have ever been. […]

The Mac Pro hasn’t been substantially updated since the new cylindrical model launched in December of 2013. The pro Macintosh situation is so dire that some designers and developers, like Mike Rundle and Sebastiaan de With, have opted to deal with the moderate hassle of building a “hackintosh” in order to get the performance they need for their work. Critical products like the MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro are well over a year old, too.

Something unusual is certainly going on. We have to get updated MacBook Pros and Mac Pros soon (September?), right?

I don’t think, though, that the MacBook Air will ever get another update. I think it only exists to occupy the sub-$1000 price range until Apple can sell a year-old MacBook for $899. I wouldn’t be shocked if they rolled out a minor speed-bump update to the MacBook Airs, but I don’t expect them to. The future is just MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

Eddy Cue on ‘Skinny Bundles’ of TV Channels, Translated 

Peter Kafka, writing at Recode:

Apple has spent years trying to assemble a “skinny bundle” of TV channels that it could sell directly to consumers. Last year it tried it again. So it was surprising to see Eddy Cue, Apple’s top media exec, tell the Hollywood Reporter today that this isn’t something he’s particularly interested in.

“As a matter of fact, I’m not a big fan of the skinny bundle,” he said, and then went on to argue that the real problem with TV isn’t that people are paying too much for channels and programs they don’t want, but that the tech they use to watch TV isn’t good enough.

Again, this doesn’t square with Apple’s longstanding efforts — led by Cue — to deliver a skinny bundle. I asked Apple to explain the cognitive dissonance, and they referred me back to the Hollywood Reporter piece. So now that we’re done with that exercise, I’m going to suggest that there are some things Cue would say differently if he were speaking to someone privately, instead of in an on-the-record interview.

Here’s my translation.

I think Kafka has this nailed.

Casting Call for Apple’s Upcoming Reality Show, ‘Planet of the Apps’ 

I thought this was weird when it was announced back in March, and I still think it’s weird. Weird too that the website for the show doesn’t mention that Apple itself is a co-producer of the show.

New Ransomware Takes Your Money, Deletes Files Anyway 

Charlie Osborne, writing for ZDNet’s Zero Day:

The malware claims to encrypt victim files, throws up a landing page and demands 0.2BTC before piling on the pressure by claiming that for each click made on the compromised system which is not related to payment, files are deleted.

This, however, is a complete lie.

“There is no longer honor amongst thieves,” Talos noted. “Ranscam simply delete victims’ files, and provides yet another example of why threat actors cannot always be trusted to recover a victim’s files, even if the victim complies with the ransomware author’s demands.”

I’ll bet this really pisses off the “honest” ransomware thieves.

An Open Letter From Technology Sector Leaders on Donald Trump’s Candidacy for President 

Huge list of signatories:

We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy  —  and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.

Meanwhile, Facebook board member Peter Thiel will be speaking at the Republican National Convention, supporting Trump.

Gizmodo Reviews the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin 

Alex Kranz, writing for Gizmodo, wins the award for most presumptuous sentence of the week:

Apple take note, this is what people are actually looking for in a laptop under a thousand bucks.

It’s fascinating how many times MacBooks are mentioned in this review, and yet it doesn’t even mention that the industrial design is a complete rip of Apple’s. MacBooks are simply the standard all PC laptops are measured against.

My take on this Samsung laptop: it sounds like the thick heavy MacBook Pros from like five years ago. Any laptop thick enough for an Ethernet port is too thick.

Google’s Project Fi Now Offers High Speed Data Abroad 

This is a great plan: $10/GB, in the U.S. and abroad. No SIM-swapping nonsense — you just use your phone as usual.

The catch: it’s still only available for three phones.

CNBC: Amazon’s Chinese Counterfeit Problem Is Getting Worse 

I never buy anything labeled “fulfilled by Amazon” — I don’t trust it.

Pokemon Go Drives Nintendo Shares Up 

Pavel Alpeyev and Yuji Nakamura, reporting for Bloomberg:

The company has added more than $7 billion in market value since last week’s debut of a new smartphone app for its Pokemon fantasy monster character franchise. The game, which lets users track down virtual monsters in their vicinity, has topped the free-to-download app charts for Apple in the U.S. and Australia since its release on July 7, according to market researcher App Annie.

Nintendo’s shares responded with their biggest intraday jump since at least 1983, when the stock started trading in Tokyo, climbing as much as 25 percent on Monday. Investors are taking Pokemon’s early success as a sign of things to come for a company that has yet to commit the most popular characters from its Mario or Zelda franchises to mobile gaming apps.

Top-grossing app in the App Store, and the topic of the week (lighthearted topic, at least) on social media.

I’ve been advocating for Nintendo to fully commit to making games for mobile since 2013 (parts one and two). I just re-read both pieces and they both hold up really well. I hate to say it (OK, I love to say it), but it looks like I was right. A few highlights:

Another common refrain I’ve heard this week is that Nintendo’s games are utterly dependent on hardware controls. No argument here that some games are better with real D-pads and physical buttons. (I can’t recall ever once truly enjoying a D-pad style game on the iPhone.) But there are other types of games that are better without D-pads and buttons.

Pokemon Go is a perfect example of this. It’s nothing like a DS game. It’s perfectly native to the phone. Nintendo is the perfect company to take the features and limitations of phones and redefine what mobile games can be.

And:

A kid asking “What’s a Nintendo?” may sound preposterous to the ears of an adult weaned on Mario and Zelda, but trust me, put an iPad Mini and a 3DS on a table next to each other, and most kids today will reach, if not jump, for the iPad. If you don’t see that as an existential threat for Nintendo, there’s nothing I can say that will change your mind. A Nintendo that doesn’t make games for iOS is a Nintendo that doesn’t reach today’s kids; a Nintendo that doesn’t reach today’s kids is a Nintendo with no future.

Keep your eyes open for teenagers and pre-teens using a DS rather than a phone. You’ll have a hard time finding one.

Speaking of Apple and Accessibility 

Katie Dupree has a nice feature at Mashable on 22-year-old Jordyn Castor, who has been blind since birth and now works as an accessibility engineer at Apple:

For Castor, Braille is crucial to her innovative work at Apple — and she insists tech is complementary to Braille, not a replacement.

“I use a Braille display every time I write a piece of code,” she says. “Braille allows me to know what the code feels like.”

In coding, she uses a combination of Nemeth Braille — or “math Braille” — and Alphabetic Braille. Castor even says that with the heavy presence of tech in her life, she still prefers to read meeting agendas in Braille.

“I can see grammar. I can see punctuation. I can see how things are spelled and how things are written out,” she says.

It’s no surprise, but interesting nonetheless, how many of the engineers who work on accessibility features at Apple are themselves users of those features.

Algoriddim: 2016 Apple Design Award Winner 

My thanks to Algoriddim for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They founded the company 10 years ago with the goal of making DJing easier and accessible to everyone. This year they made djay Pro fully accessible for the visually impaired, and as a result, received an Apple Design Award. More remarkable: djay already won an ADA back in 2011. I can’t recall an app that won two ADAs within five years.

If you haven’t already, watch the Apple Design Award video from last month, starting just before the 54m:30s mark. An Apple accessibility engineer who is blind demoed djay Pro, with a very personal story about how his vision declined when he was a teenager, and how he wanted to be a DJ, and how the digital revolution in the DJ world had passed him by until Algoriddim came along. If it doesn’t move you, you’re not hooked up right.

It’s an amazing app, and one of the best examples of a pro app that’s way better suited on an iPad than it ever could be for a Mac.

Jason Snell on the MacOS Sierra Public Beta 

Good advice on whether and how you should install it, and what to look for once you do.

BBEdit 11.6 

Bare Bones Software:

BBEdit 11.6 introduces a new demo model in which its complete feature set is available for the first 30 days of use.

At the end of the 30-day evaluation period, BBEdit will remain permanently functional with a revised feature set that includes its powerful text editing capabilities but not its web authoring tools or other exclusive features. BBEdit’s exclusive features may be re-enabled at any time with a purchased license.

When the product is unlicensed, menu commands corresponding to these features are badged with a “Demo” icon.

In the old days, there was BBEdit (paid) and BBEdit Lite (free). Then BBEdit Lite went away. Then we got TextWrangler, which was free.

I like this setup better. Download BBEdit for free. Use all of its features free for 30 days. After that, you still have a terrific Mac text editor, free of charge. But as soon as you need it, you can pay to enable the full feature set.

And, it should go without saying, but BBEdit is my favorite app of all time, period. Full stop. And 11.6 has a slew of cool new features, as usual.

Huawei Publishes Implied P9 Camera Sample, but Exif Data Reveals It Was Taken With $4500 Canon DSLR 

I’m not surprised at all by Huawei’s dishonesty. I am a little surprised they’re so incompetent as to leave the original EXIF data on the image.

Android Police: ‘Google Is Building Two Android Wear Smartwatches With Google Assistant Integration’ 

Easy to forget that Android watches are even a thing.

BlackBerry to Discontinue Traditional Keyboard Phone 

Ian Austen, reporting for the NYT:

The struggling Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry made a sharp detour from its history on Tuesday when it announced it was discontinuing the last phone to have the traditional version of the company’s iconic physical keyboard and trackpad.

Then-CEO Mike Lazaridis, in May 2008:

“The most exciting mobile trend is full qwerty keyboards. I’m sorry, it really is. I’m not making this up.”

Another one:

“I couldn’t type on it and I still can’t type on it, and a lot of my friends can’t type on it,” says Mike Lazaridis, R.I.M.’s co-chief executive and technological visionary. “It’s hard to type on a piece of glass.”

Ichiro Suzuki Approaches 3,000 MLB Hits 

Don Mattingly: “He’s just a special cat.” I can’t say it any better than The Captain. If there’s any justice in this world, Ichiro will go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee.

F.B.I. Recommends No Charges Against Hillary Clinton for Use of Personal Email 

The New York Times:

The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, on Tuesday said the F.B.I. is recommending no charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a personal email server while secretary of state.

This whole faux scandal was worth it just to watch it feed right-wing fever dreams for a year.

Cabel Sasser’s 2016 4th of July Fireworks Photos 

America’s finest Independence Day tradition.

Hacker Involved in ‘Celebgate’ Pleads Guilty, Faces Maximum Five Years in Prison 

James Vincent, writing for The Verge:

A hacker has pleaded guilty for his role in the “Celebgate” breach of 2014. Edward Majerczyk faces up to five years in federal prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Like fellow hacker Ryan Collins, the 28-year-old Majerczyk used a phishing scam to trick celebrities into entering their online credentials into fake ‘security’ sites. Majerczyk then used this information to illegally access more than 300 personal Gmail and iCloud accounts, retrieving private photos and videos from targets including celebrities. No individuals affected by the hack were named in court documents.

It bears repeating that there was never an actual iCloud breach on Apple’s end — this was all phishing.

Elie Wiesel’s 1957 Review of Disneyland 

Elie Wiesel:

I don’t know if a Garden of Eden awaits adults in the hereafter. I do know, though, that there is a Garden of Eden for children here in this life. I know because I myself visited this paradise.

Field Notes Reporter’s Notebook 

My thanks to Field Notes for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their brand new Reporter’s Notebooks. Regular readers know that I’m a huge fan of Field Notes — I carry one with me just about everywhere I go — but these Reporter’s Notebooks are really something special. It’s a reinvention of a classic style, designed with the help of John Dickerson, host of CBS’s Face the Nation. Seriously, the host of Face the Nation helped design these notebooks — how cool is that?

The main thing about Field Notes is that they’re just great notebooks, period. But what makes me adore them is the attention to detail. Everything from the paper stock to the ink to the typography (all Futura, all the time) to the utterly amusing small print inside the covers is considered with loving care.

Also, they are fundamentally damned practical. That’s true in spades with these Reporter’s Notebooks. They fold over when held in hand and lay flat on your desk. The inside cover is full of useful information, including a glossary of journalistic lingo and standard proofreading marks. Tucked into the back cover’s receipt pocket is a doozy of a story from Dickerson’s upcoming book Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History, adapted by Dickerson himself into the writing style of early 19th century newspapers. What more could you want?

At the very least, you should get yourself a two-pack of these notebooks. But what you really ought to do, if you love good notebooks, is buy yourself a Field Notes annual subscription. You’ll get these Reporter’s Notebooks to start, and after that, every three months you get something new, automatically. It’s like a little surprise present to yourself every three months.

Barack Obama, Night Owl 

Fascinating behind-the-scenes look inside the White House, by Michael D. Shear for the NYT:

Mr. Obama calls himself a “night guy,” and as president, he has come to consider the long, solitary hours after dark as essential as his time in the Oval Office. Almost every night that he is in the White House, Mr. Obama has dinner at 6:30 with his wife and daughters and then withdraws to the Treaty Room, his private office down the hall from his bedroom on the second floor of the White House residence.

There, his closest aides say, he spends four or five hours largely by himself.

The Talk Show: ‘Fresh Out of Prison’ 

Special guest Nilay Patel joins the show for the first time. Topics include The Verge and Recode (and the state of the media industry at large), what’s going on with the lack of updates to professional Mac hardware, and, of course, Apple’s purported removal of the headphone jack on the upcoming new iPhones.

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Apple Responds to Spotify 

John Paczkowski:

Spotify says Apple is using its App Store approval process as “a weapon.” Apple says that claim is a load of BS.

In a letter sent to Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez on Friday, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell rebutted the streaming music service’s June 26 allegations that Apple is “causing grave harm to Spotify and its customers” by rejecting a recent update to Spotify’s iOS app. “We find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service,” Sewell wrote in a letter obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Sewell, in his letter to Gutierrez:

As far as I can see the Spotify App currently up on the App Store is still in violation of our guidelines. I would be happy to facilitate an expeditious review and approval of your app as soon as you provide us with something that is compliant with the App Store’s rules.

Searching for a Good Reason to Remove the Headphone Jack 

Jason Snell:

I have a point of view on all this, but I’m trying very hard not to get mad about something that hasn’t happened. This is a tech unicorn, an unannounced feature on a nonexistent product, and it’s important to keep that in mind. Still, it’s not a bad intellectual exercise to ponder why Apple might make such a move, and what the ramifications might be.

I really enjoyed Snell’s exploration of the many ways this might play out.

Hillary Clinton Writes Farewell Essay for The Toast 

Hillary Clinton:

As we look back at what this site has meant to so many of you, I hope you’ll also look forward and consider how you might make your voice heard in whatever arenas matter most to you. Speak your opinion more fervently in your classes if you’re a student, or at meetings in your workplace. Proudly take credit for your ideas. Have confidence in the value of your contributions. And if the space you’re in doesn’t have room for your voice, don’t be afraid to carve out a space of your own. You never know — you might just be the next Nicole Cliffe, Mallory Ortberg, or Nikki Chung.

Tekserve to Close After 29 Years 

Rick Rojas, reporting for the NYT:

It was the Apple Store in New York City before there was such a thing as an Apple Store.

Before iPods and iPads and iPhones, before Apple started selling and servicing its devices out of a glass cube on Fifth Avenue, the eclectic Tekserve store on West 23rd Street in Manhattan was where customers went for upgrades to their PowerBook laptops or to have their computers fixed.

But times have changed, Tekserve’s managers said, and on Wednesday, they announced that the company was closing its retail and customer-service operation. The service center will remain open until July 31, and the retail store will close on Aug. 15. About 70 employees will lose their jobs, the company said.

The end of an era.

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