OS X to Be Rebranded ‘macOS’ at WWDC? ★
Following the naming conventions of iOS, watchOS and tvOS, Apple’s
Mac operating system could soon return to the name “macOS,” if
code spotted in the latest release of El Capitan is to be
I thought Phil Schiller sort of hinted at this last year when he was on my WWDC podcast. From iMore’s excellent transcript:
Gruber: watchOS, with a lower-case “w”. Are you trying to
Schiller: [laughs] It’s, um… I think it works really well.
I think it’s nice, it’s ownable, it’s special…
I think, you’ll see. Give us time, we’ve been through many fun
naming things. This is an easy one. There have been many fun
naming things through the years — some very emotional, some very
easy — and most of the time, when all’s said and done, you look
back years later, people say “Yeah, you guys were right, it all
made sense together.”
So I think we’re doing the right thing.
David Sparks on What’s New in Fantastical 2.2 ★
Great video documenting what’s new in one of my very favorite apps.
ACLU Map Documents the 63 Known Cases in Which Government Has Tried to Use All Writs Act to Overcome Encryption: ★
Eliza Sweren-Becker, writing for the ACLU:
The FBI wants you to think that it will use the All Writs Act only
in extraordinary cases to force tech companies to assist in the
unlocking of phones. Turns out, these kinds of orders have
actually become quite ordinary.
The Colbert Emoji ★
Kinda weird to see the deliberations of the Unicode Consortium discussed on a late night talk show. Fun, though.
Introducing Safari Technology Preview ★
Ricky Mondello, from Apple’s Safari team:
Starting today, there’s a new, convenient way to see what features
and improvements are coming to Safari and other applications that
use WebKit. Safari Technology Preview is a version of Safari for
OS X, distributed by Apple, that includes a cutting-edge,
in-development version of the WebKit browser engine. It’s a great
way to test upcoming WebKit features and give feedback to the
people building them when it’s most useful — early in
Safari Technology Preview is a standalone application that can be
used side-by-side with Safari or other web browsers, making it
easy to compare behaviors between them. Besides having the latest
web features and bug fixes from WebKit, Safari Technology Preview
includes the latest improvements to Web Inspector, which you can
use to develop and debug your websites. Updates for Safari
Technology Preview will be available every two weeks through the
Updates pane of the Mac App Store.
Very cool. Once installed, updates will come every two weeks through the Mac App Store — but you have to initially install from the website download. And unlike Webkit nightly builds, Safari Technology Preview is signed by Apple, which allows it to work with iCloud features (bookmark and tab syncing, etc.).
SoundCloud Go and Artist Payments ★
Dave Wiskus, on the fact that SoundCloud’s new $10/month streaming music service only pays artists who are in their invitation-only “Premier Partners” program:
You can slice it, package it, or spin it however you like, but the
bare fact is that you’re making money off of songs you aren’t
paying for. Worse, you’re doing it while perpetuating an air of
exclusivity around the concept of making money. All while you’re
pretending to be a friend to the little guy. There’s nothing
artist-friendly about this approach.
But wait! There’s more!
Airplane Mode has a SoundCloud Pro account to get access to
unlimited uploads and a few other features that make the service
useful. This account costs us $15 per month. So not only are you
getting our music for free and paying us nothing, we’re actually
paying you to take it. What an excellent deal. For you.
MLB and Apple Announce Deal to Put iPads in the Dugout ★
Major League Baseball (MLB) today announced its latest technology
collaboration with Apple to integrate powerful new on-field
capabilities through the approved use of iPad Pro and a newly
developed advance scouting, analytics and video app - MLB Dugout -
during MLB games. The announcement, made by Baseball Commissioner
Robert D. Manfred, Jr., brings iPad Pro into all 30 Major League
dugouts and bullpens and marks the first-ever on-field integration
of next generation technology, putting advance scouting video and
customizable reports at the fingertips of all managers, coaches
Entering the 2016 MLB season, each iPad Pro has been customized
for each Club and loaded with the MLB Dugout app, allowing every
team’s manager, coaches and players to utilize their own
proprietary and strategic statistical reports, data visualizations
and advance scouting videos during every MLB game from dugouts and
bullpens giving them easy access to valuable, actionable baseball
insights. Clubs also will have the ability to include any of their
own reports with data generated from last year’s first full season
of Statcast tracking technology, bringing new stats for pitch
tracking, hitting, baserunning and fielding, right on iPad Pro.
So the NFL has Surface, MLB has iPad.
Apple Statement: ‘This Case Should Never Have Been Brought’ ★
Finally, Apple and the FBI agree about something.
A Photo That Closes the Book on a Late Night Era ★
Ian Crouch, writing for The New Yorker:
Of all the images and videos that have resurfaced in the days of
mourning following the death of Garry Shandling, one particular
photograph stands out for me. It was taken in 1988, on the set of
the “Tonight Show,” during an episode marking the twenty-sixth
anniversary of Johnny Carson’s run as host. It shows Carson during
a bit with three of the recurring guest hosts on the show —
Shandling, David Letterman, and Jay Leno — each of whom, by that
point, had some designs on taking over for Carson when he finally
came around on the idea of calling it quits. There is a lot of
comedy firepower in that photo, and a lot of ego. Four famous
white men onstage in tuxedos: it’s like a Hollywood version of one
of those photographs from the early Soviet era that show political
leaders in an uneasy alliance, before all the backstabbing,
purges, and power grabs.
But what’s most striking about the image is how it captures, in
the faces and manner of the four men, the precise nature of their
It really is a remarkable photo. I changed my Twitter profile banner to this picture a few days ago.
Maciej Ceglowski’s Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT ★
Pinboard creator Maciej Ceglowski:
Because many of you rely on IFTTT, and because this email makes it
sound like I’m the asshole, I feel I should explain myself.
In a nutshell:
IFTTT wants me to do their job for them for free
They have really squirrely terms of service
Bending the Universe ★
Marcin Wichary on the joy of writing a software hack as a teen:
There’s more to life than hacks, of course. Hacks are seductive,
but they need to be exceptions, rather than norm. Many better
engineers I’ve worked with taught me the value of hard, methodical
work; writing code that’s simple to understand and easy to
maintain, be it days or decades later.
But that first little assembly program put in my mind a very
powerful notion: that there’s always a way out. Always a solution.
That if you care enough, put in enough time, and take ownership of
the messy consequences, you can sometimes bend — or, in my case
un-bend — the rules of the universe.
Charlie Stross on Apple vs. the FBI ★
The FBI thought they were asking for a way to unlock a mobile
phone, because the FBI is myopically focussed on past criminal
investigations, not the future of the technology industry, and the
FBI did not understand that they were actually asking for a way to
tracelessly unlock and mess with every ATM and credit card on the
planet circa 2030 (if not via Apple, then via the other phone OSs,
once the festering security fleapit that is Android wakes up and
smells the money).
If the FBI get what they want, then the back door will be
installed and the next-generation payments infrastructure will be
just as prone to fraud as the last-generation card infrastructure,
with its card skimmers and identity theft.
And this is why Tim Cook is willing to go to the mattresses with
the US department of justice over iOS security: if nobody trusts
their iPhone, nobody will be willing to trust the next-generation
Apple Bank, and Apple is going to lose their best option for
securing their cash pile as it climbs towards the stratosphere.
The most interesting part of Stross’s piece is his argument that Apple needs to become a bank just to manage its massive, ever-growing reserve of cash. I think he’s too cynical in arguing that Apple Pay is Apple’s primary motivation behind its stance on encryption and privacy, though. It’s without question part of it, but I think Apple would have the same stance today even if Apple Pay didn’t exist. iMessage is designed around end-to-end encryption, for example, and it has nothing to do with Apple Pay.
Update: A few readers have pointed out that iMessage doesn’t have anything to do with Apple Pay yet, but could soon. Turning iMessage into a user-to-user payment system would be very cool, indeed. Another example: Apple is widely believed to be working on encrypted iCloud backups. I don’t think there’s any Apple Pay tie-in there. My point is that I think both of the following statements are true: Apple believes in strong encryption as a matter of principle; strong encryption is fundamental to Apple Pay’s success.
FBI Confirms Working Attack on San Bernardino iPhone, Requests Case Be Dropped (PDF) ★
The Department of Justice has filed their status report:
The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on
Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance
from Apple Inc. mandated by Court’s Order Compelling Apple Inc. to
Assist Agents in Search dated February 16, 2016.
Accordingly, the government hereby requests that the Order
Compelling Apple Inc. to Assist Agents in Search dated February
16, 2016 be vacated.
A battle is over, but the war has only just begun.
The Talk Show: ‘Strict Robot Definer’ ★
Blockbuster super-sized new episode of my podcast, with special guest Jason Snell. We take an in-depth look at last week’s Apple Event, and the two products that were introduced: the iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Other topics include the ongoing FBI/Apple encryption soap opera, what’s wrong with the Apple Watch — and our appreciation for the late great Garry Shandling.
- Hello Fresh: The meal kit delivery service that makes cooking fun, easy, and convenient. Save $35 off your first week of deliveries with code “TALKSHOW”.
- Squarespace: Build it beautiful. Use code GRUBER for 10% off your first order.
- Backblaze: Online backup for $5/month. Native. Unlimited. Unthrottled. Uncomplicated.
- MailRoute: Hosted spam and virus protection for email. Use this link for 10 percent off for the life of your account.
Glenn Fleishman: ‘The New Night Shift Feature Probably Won’t Help You Sleep Better’ ★
Glenn Fleishman, writing at Macworld:
The Night Shift feature in iOS 9.3 lets you adjust the color
temperature of the display, shifting away from blue spectrums of
light, in the putative interest of improving sleep. But Apple
makes no promises. On its website, Apple notes, “Many studies have
shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect
your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep.” In iOS,
the feature is explained with “This may help you get a better
In fact, this feature likely will have little or no effect on most
people. Apple hasn’t misrepresented any of the science, but
clinical work done to date doesn’t point a finger right at mobile
devices or even larger displays. Night Shift also can’t remove
enough blue to make a difference if that color is the culprit. And
blue light may not be the trigger it’s been identified as. While
researchers haven’t tested the new feature yet, several factors
add up to at best a placebo effect and a reminder to power
I know people who enjoy Night Shift (and its Mac progenitor, F.lux) because they find it easier on their eyes at night. I think the stuff about getting a better night’s sleep is bunk, though. (And personally, I find the effect hideous — as though the display has been stained by years of exposure to nicotine.)
Microsoft Disables Teen-Mimicking Chat Bot After It Started Posting Racist Tweets ★
Alex Kantrowitz, writing for BuzzFeed:
In a matter of hours this week, Microsoft’s AI-powered chatbot,
Tay, went from a jovial teen to a Holocaust-denying menace openly
calling for a race war in ALL CAPS.
The bot’s sudden dark turn shocked many people, who rightfully
wondered how Tay, imbued with the personality of a 19-year-old
girl, could undergo such a transformation so quickly, and why
Microsoft would release it into the wild without filters for
Sources at Microsoft told BuzzFeed News that Tay was outfitted
with some filters for vulgarity and the like. What the bot was not
outfitted with were safeguards against those dark forces on the
internet that would inevitably do their damnedest to corrupt her.
That proved a critical oversight.
Not sure how Microsoft didn’t see this coming.
No Flipping: Remembering Garry Shandling ★
Some great video clips in the Times’s obituary for Shandling, including his legendary first appearance on The Tonight Show, and his first guest-hosting stint.
Mac OS X Turns 15 ★
Stephen Hackett has a nice roundup of links to commemorate Mac OS X turning 15. I tend to think of Mac OS X as being “much” older than iOS, but iOS turns 9 in June. Not that much of a difference at this point — iOS is as mature now as Mac OS X was in 2010.
Apple’s First Foray Into Original TV Is a Series About Apps ★
Emily Steel, reporting for the NYT:
Apple announced on Thursday that it was working with the
entertainer Will.i.am and two veteran TV executives, Ben Silverman
and Howard T. Owens, on a new show that will spotlight the app
“One of the things with the app store that was always great about
it was the great ideas that people had to build things and create
things,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet
software and services, said in an interview.
Details about the production are scant, and it was unclear how
directly the show would promote or refer to Apple’s own app store.
Executives declined to discuss specifics, such as financing,
title, timeline, storylines, episode length or how people will
watch the show.
If any developers hear from Apple about this, I’d be interested to know (on the Q.T., if necessary, which it probably will be).
Apple Downplaying the Apple Watch Edition in Both Online and Retail Stores ★
Ben Lovejoy, writing for 9to5Mac:
Apple has quietly revamped the Apple Watch section of its website, rendering the Edition almost invisible unless you specifically go looking for it. In addition, we’re hearing reports that Apple’s most expensive Watch is also being removed from some retail store displays. […]
The big tell, as noted by Lovejoy later in the article, is that the Edition didn’t see any new watch bands this week. It was always a bit of a lark, a whimsy the company granted to Jony Ive.
Garry Shandling on Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ ★
Was great when it first aired, heartbreaking now. Even just the episode title — “It’s Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive”.
Garry Shandling Dies at 66 ★
Garry Shandling, a comedian who deftly walked a tightrope between
comedic fiction and show-business reality on two cable sitcoms,
died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 66.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles police confirmed the death but did
not give a cause. TMZ, the gossip website, reported that Mr.
Shandling had had a heart attack.
Mr. Shandling, who began his comedy career as a writer and went on
to become one of the most successful stand-up comics of the 1980s,
was best known for “The Larry Sanders Show,” a dark look at life
behind the scenes of a late-night talk show. It ran on HBO from
1992 to 1998.
“You may now flip.”
Adam Lashinsky Profiles Jeff Bezos for Fortune ★
One reason Bezos can concentrate narrowly at Amazon is the length
of tenure of his top lieutenants. Jeff Wilke, for example, joined
Amazon in 1999, and today he runs Amazon’s consumer business,
which he calls “Amazon Classic.” He says Amazon’s annual planning
process — and the detailed narratives its managers prepare for
them — allows Bezos to closely “audit” the company’s efforts.
Otherwise, says Wilke, “I would say his style has gone from being
more prescriptive to teaching and refining.” Jeff Blackburn, an
18-year Amazon veteran who runs the company’s M&A activities and
content businesses, describes Bezos as consistent in his selection
process. “He still works 65 hours a week. He’s still connected to
the office and doesn’t travel very much. He dives in on the same
issues now that he did many years ago.”
Lashinsky is one of the top writers in the racket. He’s really on fire lately.
The Information: ‘Inside Tony Fadell’s Struggle to Build Nest’ ★
This story by Reed Albergotti for The Information is absolutely brutal. I’m not sure I’ve ever read an article quite like it, with on-the-record quotes documenting an utterly broken company culture. An extraordinary airing of a ton of dirty laundry. Exhibit A. Exhibit B, regarding the relationship between Tony Fadell and his Nest co-founder Matt Rogers:
Mr. Fadell attended Mr. Rogers’ wedding last year. Afterward, Mr.
Fadell ordered Mr. Rogers to cancel his month-long honeymoon in
June, Mr. Rogers confirmed. A spokeswoman for Nest said it was a
critical time at the company: Nest was announcing a refresh of its
entire product line. When Mr. Rogers refused, Mr. Fadell told him
that if he went, he wouldn’t have a job when he came back. Mr.
Rogers went anyway. Mr. Fadell did not follow up on his threat.
How exactly The Information got Fadell and Rogers to participate with this story boggles my mind. The backstory behind how this story came to be is probably just as interesting as the story itself — some real Machiavellian stuff.
(The Information is a paywall publication, but they now offer “sharing” links — hopefully mine will work for DF’s readership. The Information is well worth the subscription price, in my opinion.)
North Carolina’s Anti-Trans Law Is Downright Dangerous ★
Zach Stafford, writing for The Guardian:
I’m not jumping to conclusions here. An analysis of data compiled
by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey last month shows
that when young people are denied access to a restroom that aligns
with their gender identity, their rates of suicide go up.
Translation: not allowing trans youth to use a bathroom only
perpetuates feelings of isolation or depression that lead 41% of
transgender people to attempt kill themselves at some point in
their lives, compared to the 4.6% in the general population.
How the iPad Pro Changed Zoe Olson’s Illustrating Career ★
Fascinating look at the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (and Procreate) from an extraordinarily talented young illustrator.
Update: How does a 15-year old afford an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil? By saving her money from a year of babysitting work.
Macworld Podcast Episode 500 ★
The Macworld podcast celebrates its 500th episode! Yes, 500 years
ago — we mean 11 years ago, this podcast started humbly as an
experiment by a Macworld intern turned staffer recorded partly in
a conference room with a nerdy guest named…Glenn Fleishman calling
In this episode, after a welcome from one-time staffer Cyrus
Farivar, Susie and Glenn talk with columnist and former editor
Jason Snell about Apple’s introduction of the iPhone SE and
Jason’s hands-on time with it. We also discuss the latest in the
FBI/Apple case, the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and the iMessage
security flaw patched this week.
Glenn takes a literal field trip this episode, too, to check in
with a long-time contributor about his ruminations on the paucity
of thoughtfulness among pundit: We chew the cud with the Macalope.
500 episodes is a remarkable achievement.
iMore Show Episode 500 ★
Rene, Serenity, and Georgia are joined by many friends and voices
from the Apple community, Mobile Nations, and iMore, to celebrate
the occasion of the 500th episode of our podcast.
500 episodes is a remarkable achievement. (And, yours truly was one of the special guests on this episode.)
BuzzFeed: ‘Questions Hang Over FBI After Apple Showdown Fizzles’ ★
Hamza Shaban, summarizing the state of the Apple-FBI fight for BuzzFeed:
In an editorial Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal described the
government’s clash with Apple as “reckless,” as the Justice
Department “rushed to legal war with dubious theories,” and
“fibbed” by stating that the San Bernardino case is all about one
phone, even as law enforcement officials clamor for special access
to encrypted devices in numerous cases across the country.
In a letter to the Journal, FBI Director James Comey said, “You
are simply wrong to assert that the FBI and the Justice Department
lied about our ability to access the San Bernardino killer’s
phone.” Comey’s remarks echo those of DOJ officials from earlier
this week, who stated that the worldwide publicity of the San
Bernardino case prompted interested parties to contact the FBI and
share methods to gain access to the iPhone. But all previous
attempts have fallen short, until now. “Lots of folks came to us
with ideas,” Comey said.
When the FBI lies it’s a “fib”. When you lie to the FBI it’s a “felony”. Good to see the Journal calling them out on it, though.
Walt Mossberg: ‘The iPhone 7 Had Better Be Spectacular’ ★
Here’s the thing: read Mossberg’s wish list at the end of his column. Let’s say Apple ships an iPhone this fall that checks off every single item on his list. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for a thicker phone so as to provide longer battery life, but for the sake of argument, let’s just say they do.)
Would Mossberg deem such an iPhone “spectacular”? I doubt it.
Mossberg also wants a reduced forehead and chin on the front face. I don’t think that’s coming until 2018, when I suspect Apple will ship an iPhone with no forehead or chin, just edge-to-edge display with the camera, sensors, and home button embedded in the display. That’s quite a way out in the future.
The Information on Apple’s Data Center Plans ★
Amir Efrati and Steve Nellis, reporting for The Information (behind a paywall; 9to5Mac has a summary post):
Apple is also working on projects to design its own servers. At
least part of the driver for this is to ensure that the servers
are secure. Apple has long suspected that servers it ordered from
the traditional supply chain were intercepted during shipping,
with additional chips and firmware added to them by unknown third
parties in order to make them vulnerable to infiltration,
according to a person familiar with the matter. At one point,
Apple even assigned people to take photographs of motherboards and
annotate the function of each chip, explaining why it was supposed
to be there. Building its own servers with motherboards it
designed would be the most surefire way for Apple to prevent
unauthorized snooping via extra chips.
Cough, NSA, cough.
North Carolina House Passes Bill to Allow Anti-LGBT Discrimination ★
Dominic Holden, reporting for BuzzFeed:
The North Carolina House voted 83-25 to pass a sweeping bill on
Wednesday that would negate all local LGBT nondiscrimination
ordinances in the state and ban transgender people from certain
Republican leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly had
unveiled the legislation on Wednesday, and quickly began rushing
the bill through a $42,000-a-day special legislative session
fueled by rhetoric that portrayed transgender people as sex
predators. Conservative lawmakers argued they are trying to
protect privacy and promote safety in restrooms.
A lot of conservatives have some really weird hang-ups about public restrooms.
Pebble Layoffs ★
Steve Kovach, writing for Tech Insider:
Pebble, the buzzy startup credited for being one of the first
companies to launch a modern smartwatch, is laying off 40
employees this week, CEO Eric Migicovsky told Tech Insider in an
interview. That’s about 25% of its total staff.
I still hope they make it, but its hard for a scrappy small company to compete against Apple, Samsung, LG, et al.
The Pebble layoffs come at a shaky time for the wearable
technology market. FitBit, the leader in the wearable category,
has seen its stock fall dramatically in recent months. Apple
dropped the price of the Apple Watch by $50 to $299 on Monday, a
sign that it’s not selling as well as hoped.
I do not assume that the $50 price cut for the Sport models is a sign it’s not selling as well as hoped. My guess is that it’s a sign that, one year in, they’re significantly cheaper for Apple to produce.
How Nike Lost Stephen Curry to Under Armour ★
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, writing for ESPN:
Perhaps this is how Nike missed. Years of promoting Michael Jordan descendents made them oblivious to a player who shot the ball over that whole paradigm. It left them vulnerable to Kent Bazemore, and a company with less than 1 percent of the sneaker market. The next frontier of flight didn’t happen to be the next frontier of basketball. The next frontier happened to be Steph Curry, whose launches aren’t leaps, yet whose range commands a zeitgeist.
Nike could have re-signed Curry for just $4 million — a mistake that is now costing them billions.
Disney, Marvel Boycott Georgia Anti-Gay Bill ★
“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a Disney spokesman said on Wednesday.
Good for them. The NFL is warning Georgia as well.
Matthew Panzarino Explains the New iPad Pro’s Embedded Apple SIM ★
It’s a great feature, but carrier restrictions make the overall situation as clear as mud.
Cloud Status App ★
My thanks to Server Density for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their new Cloud Status app. It’s a beautifully simple universal iOS app for developers. It monitors the status of top cloud service providers like AWS, Rackspace, Azure, Joyent, Google, and more, and alerts you with their latest status updates in real time. You pick the services you want alerts for, and that’s it.
They’re not even trying to sell you anything here — the app is completely free of charge. If you’re a developer using any of these services, check it out.
Florida Jury Hands Hulk Hogan a $115 Million Victory in the Gawker Sex Tape Trial ★
Round one in the Hulk Hogan/Gakwer sex tape trial goes to the
wrestler: A Florida jury found decisively in his favor, and says
the Web site owes him $115 million in damages.
Seems like a lot of people think Gawker can win this on appeal, but for now: whoa.
Update: Statement from Nick Denton.
Reuters: Senators Close to Finishing Encryption Penalties Legislation ★
Technology companies could face civil penalties for refusing to
comply with court orders to help investigators access encrypted
data under draft legislation nearing completion in the U.S.
Senate, sources familiar with continuing discussions told Reuters
The long-awaited legislation from Senators Richard Burr and Dianne
Feinstein, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate
Intelligence Committee, may be introduced as soon as next week,
one of the sources said.
It would expose companies like Apple Inc, which is fighting a
magistrate judge’s order to unlock an iPhone connected to the
mass-shooting in San Bernardino, California, to contempt of court
proceedings and related penalties, the source said.
Effectively, this law would outlaw encryption in products and services made by U.S. companies.
Feinstein will be 85 when she’s up for re-election in two years, and has strongly hinted she’s not going to run again.
How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need? ★
Marc Rayman, director and chief engineer for NASA’s Dawn mission, explaining why NASA uses 3.141592653589793 (“only” 15 decimal places) for its most accurate calculations:
The most distant spacecraft from Earth is Voyager 1. It is about
12.5 billion miles away. Let’s say we have a circle with a radius
of exactly that size (or 25 billion miles in diameter) and we want
to calculate the circumference, which is pi times the radius times
2. Using pi rounded to the 15th decimal, as I gave above, that
comes out to a little more than 78 billion miles. We don’t need to
be concerned here with exactly what the value is (you can multiply
it out if you like) but rather what the error in the value is by
not using more digits of pi. In other words, by cutting pi off at
the 15th decimal point, we would calculate a circumference for
that circle that is very slightly off. It turns out that our
calculated circumference of the 25 billion mile diameter circle
would be wrong by 1.5 inches. Think about that. We have a circle
more than 78 billion miles around, and our calculation of that
distance would be off by perhaps less than the length of your
For a radius the size of the visible universe, you’d need only 39 or 40 decimal places to be accurate to within the size of a hydrogen atom. Fascinating. (Via Kottke.)
Apple Sees Weakness in FBI Hearing Request ★
Martyn Williams, reporting for IDG:
On Wednesday evening, the FBI asked for an evidentiary hearing,
which means the court will hear live testimony from expert
witnesses from both sides. Apple agreed to the FBI’s request on
Speaking on Friday with reporters, lawyers for Apple said the
FBI’s request was a surprise, and they don’t understand why the
government wants to present witnesses to the court.
If lawyers believe they have a strong legal case, they typically
want to argue it without bothering with witnesses in these types
of hearings, so the request may indicate that the FBI isn’t as
comfortable as it was in relying solely on legal arguments, an
Apple lawyer said.
This sounds right to me.
Firewatch: One Month Later ★
Great post from Cabel Sasser.
I haven’t played a first-person game in years. I think the last one was Halo on the original Xbox back around 2000. But Firewatch intrigued me, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. It occupies a wonderful intersection between narrative cinema (thoughtful story, interesting characters, great actors, evocative beautiful visuals and sound design) and the immersive nature of playing, feeling like you are there.
My son — 12 years old, and inclined strongly toward frenetic shooting games like Destiny — very much enjoyed Firewatch too. He more or less played it straight through, driven to keep going in the same way one is with a good novel.
Toward the end of his life, Roger Ebert argued that “Video games can never be art”. I really wish he had lived to see Firewatch.
‘Open the Bomb Bay Doors, Please, Ken…’ ★
Great post by Alec Nevala-Lee on Ken Adam and Stanley Kubrick:
As Adams says elsewhere:
[Kubrick] had this famous theory in those days that the director
had the right to change his mind up until the moment the cameras
started turning. But he changed his mind after the cameras were
rolling! For me, it was enormously demanding, because until then
I was basically a pretty organized person. But I wasn’t yet
flexible enough to meet these sometimes impossible demands that
he came up with. So I was going through an anxiety crisis. But
at the same time I knew that every time he changed his mind, he
came up with a brilliant idea. So I knew I had to meet his
demands in some way, even if it seemed impossible from a
practical point of view.
Which just serves as a reminder that for Kubrick, who is so often
characterized as the most meticulous and obsessive of directors,
an intense level of preparation existed primarily to enable those
moments in which the plan could be thrown away — a point that
even his admirers often overlook.
(Thanks to Kent M. Beeson.)
FBI Issues Warning: ‘Motor Vehicles Increasingly Vulnerable to Remote Exploits’ ★
Rich, coming from the agency fighting tooth and nail against Apple to make phones less secure. Just wait until one of these computerized cars contains encrypted data the FBI wants for an investigation. (Via Jim Dalrymple.)
NYT: ‘Apple Encryption Engineers, if Ordered to Unlock iPhone, Might Resist’ ★
John Markoff, Katie Benner, and Brian X. Chen, reporting for the NYT:
Apple employees are already discussing what they will do if
ordered to help law enforcement authorities. Some say they may
balk at the work, while others may even quit their high-paying
jobs rather than undermine the security of the software they have
already created, according to more than a half-dozen current and
former Apple employees.
Among those interviewed were Apple engineers who are involved in
the development of mobile products and security, as well as former
security engineers and executives.
Another topic that Glenn Fleishman and I discussed on the just-released new episode of The Talk Show. We came to the same conclusion: many, if not most, security engineers at Apple would quit rather than comply with this order — and they’d have no difficulty finding jobs elsewhere in the Valley in today’s market.
The Talk Show: ‘With Apologies to Hamilton’ ★
Special guest Glenn Fleishman returns to the show to join me for an in-depth discussion of Apple’s legal fight with the DOJ and FBI over the iPhone and encryption, speculation on next week’s Apple event, and more.
Brought you by these excellent sponsors:
- Casper: A mattress with just the right sink, just the right bounce, for better nights and brighter days. Use code thetalkshow for $50 off.
- Igloo: An intranet you’ll actually like. Try Igloo for free.
- Audible.com: With over 180,000 audiobooks, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Get a free 30-day trial.
- Fracture: Photos printed in vivid color directly on glass. Use promo code TALKSHOW10 for 10% off your first order.
‘It Can Happen Here’ ★
Fear is the tool of choice for bringing a free people under the
yoke. Fear is the great equalizer between the unlimited power of
the people to act in their own interest, and the pitiful weakness
of a would-be despot.
Do not give these people the tools that only fear can buy them.
Inside Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Fight With the FBI ★
Lev Grossman, in a cover story for Time:
Inside Apple this idea is nicknamed, not affectionately, GovtOS.
“We had long discussions about that internally, when they asked
us,” Cook says. “Lots of people were involved. It wasn’t just me
sitting in a room somewhere deciding that way, it was a labored
decision. We thought about all the things you would think we would
think about.” The decision, when it came, was no.
Cook actually thought that might be the end of it. It wasn’t: on
Feb. 16 the FBI both escalated and went public, obtaining a court
order from a federal judge that required Apple to create GovtOS
under something called the All Writs Act. Cook took deep,
Alabaman umbrage at the manner in which he learned about the
court order, which was in the press: “If I’m working with you for
several months on things, if I have a relationship with you, and
I decide one day I’m going to sue you, I’m a country boy at the
end of the day: I’m going to pick up the phone and tell you I’m
going to sue you.”
See also: The full transcript of their interview.
‘The Apple Fight Is About All of Us’ ★
Joint statement from the EFF, ACLU, and Access Now:
We call on the Obama Administration to heed the advice of neutral
security experts, engineers, and even his own advisors who have
affirmed the dangers inherent in the order issued to Apple. We
urge them to reject the calls of those who seek to undermine our
security, whether through backdoors into our software, master keys
to unlock our digital data, or pressure on companies to downgrade
Over 100,000 people have called for President Obama to stand up
for security in our devices through savecrypto.org. It’s time
for the President to be accountable to them, and to all of us.
One of the things Glenn Fleishman and I talk about on this week’s episode of my podcast is that there are no crypto or security experts on the DOJ’s side in the matter. None. I’m not saying there’s no one on the DOJ’s side — only that none of them are crypto or security experts.
Recode: Apple to Build Out Own Cloud Infrastructure ★
Mark Bergen, reporting for Recode on reports that Apple is shifting some of its cloud infrastructure from AWS to Google:
Then there’s Apple’s next step. Morgan Stanley, in a note last
month, laid out the tea leaves: Apple has announced three data
centers opening soon and spent an estimated $1 billion last year
on AWS. It’s a logical move for Apple if it wants more
independence from its tech rivals. And it’s one Apple should make
to store the growing media libraries from its mobile, TV and TBD
According to a source familiar with the matter, Apple already has
a team working on this; it’s known internally as “McQueen,” as in
Steve. It’s unclear if that project will materialize or when. But
a source tells Re/code that the codename refers to Apple’s intent,
sometime in the next few years, to break its reliance on all three
outside cloud providers in favor of its own soup-to-nuts
This is more in line with Tim Cook’s longtime refrain, “We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make.”
Arizona Diamondbacks Unveil Seven New Uniforms for 2016 ★
This is ridiculous. One uniform for home games, one for the road, and one cap — that’s all any team needs.
Cookie Monster Stars in New iPhone Commercial ★
True story (you can ask my mom): my first spoken word was “cookie”, such a fan of Cookie Monster was I. I’ve never been one for moderation.
(Don’t miss the small-print gag at the very end.)
Susan Crawford: ‘The Law Is Clear: The FBI Cannot Make Apple Rewrite Its OS’ ★
Harvard Law professor Susan Crawford, who served as Obama’s special assistant in 2009:
The president — our Law Professor in Chief — has to know the DOJ
is on shaky ground. He’s probably got this rule of statutory
construction rolling around in his mind as he watches college
basketball this week: Specific statutes trump general ones.
Generalia specialibus non derogant.
Nonetheless, the president has chosen his I Get Terrifying
Briefings Every Day hat. It’s understandable. Who will blame him
for protecting us? He’s worried about something awful happening.
It’s just that increasingly hard-to-hear rule of law alarm bell
going off again.
The DOJ is arguing that the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) should not apply, when clearly it should. And they’re arguing that the All Writs Act should apply, when clearly it shouldn’t. The more I read about it, the stronger Apple’s legal argument looks.
‘Dr. Strangelove’ Coming to Criterion Collection ★
Sign me up.
Michael Mann Launches Book Imprint; ‘Heat’ Prequel Novel in Works ★
Mike Fleming Jr., reporting for Deadline Hollywood:
Writer-director Michael Mann, long one of the most literate
translators of words to the screen, has made a deal to launch
Michael Mann Books. The imprint will generate a series of novels
with a stable of writers and the properties will simultaneously be
developed for film and television. Mann will look through his own
long list of credits for ideas, and a big piece of news here is
that high on the priority list is a prequel novel dealing with the
principal characters of Heat, Mann’s seminal crime thriller. The
prequel novel will cover the formative years of homicide detective
Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro), Chris
Shihirles (Val Kilmer), McCauley’s accomplice Nate (Jon Voight),
and other characters so brilliantly layered in the 1995 film. Mann
based that film on stories of a lot of real criminals and cops,
and references to past experiences are peppered throughout the
Sign me up.
Google Lands Apple as Cloud Services Customer ★
Kevin McLaughlin and Joseph Tsidulko, reporting for CRN:
Alphabet’s Google has quietly scored a major coup in its campaign
to become an enterprise cloud computing powerhouse, landing Apple
as a customer for the Google Cloud Platform, multiple sources with
knowledge of the matter told CRN this week.
Since inking the Google deal late last year, Apple has also
significantly reduced its reliance on Amazon Web Services, whose
infrastructure it uses to run parts of iCloud and other services,
said the sources, who all requested anonymity to protect their
relationships with the vendors.
Apple has not abandoned AWS entirely and remains a customer, the
Well, that’s interesting. (Via Ben Bajarin.)
Apple’s Final Brief Heading Into Federal Court ★
Greg Kumparak and Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:
During a call last week about the filing, Apple executives,
including general counsel Bruce Sewell, spoke in a way that can be
best characterized as surprised and outraged. The FBI’s tone shift
from legal argument to character assassination in its filings had
clearly taken Apple off guard.
The tone of today’s filing and subsequent call was much more cold
and precise. Apple got some time to consider the best way to
respond and went with dissecting the FBI’s technical arguments in
a series of precise testimonies by its experts.
Where the FBI filing last week relied on invective, Apple’s this
week relies on poking holes in critical sections of the FBI’s
TechCrunch has the full brief embedded at the bottom of the post. It’s worth reading — inevitably some of it is inside baseball legalese, but it seems clear to me that Apple’s lawyers have made a tremendous effort to make it as accessible as possible. On some points they simply tear apart the government’s factual errors.
See also: This roundup of Twitter commentary on today’s brief by Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing.
Steven Troughton-Smith’s WWDC Wish List ★
I don’t often do this, but this year I think it’s important; Apple
is more open and receptive to feedback today than it ever has been.
With iOS 9 and iPad Pro, iOS has made a tremendous leap in the
past year on iPad. With that in mind, I wanted to note down all
the things in my head that I really want to see the iOS computing
platform grow to cover.
What follows is an unordered list of things I’d like to see from
Apple over the next few years, starting with the easy and obvious
Pretty solid list.
Apple Should Own the Term ‘Warrant Proof’ ★
We, as everyday Americans, should also encourage the idea of
warrant proof places. The DOJ believes, quite erroneously, that
the Fourth Amendment gives them the right to any evidence or
information they desire with a warrant. The Bill of Rights did not
grant rights to the government; it protected the rights of
Americans from the overreach that was expected to come from
government. Our most intimate thoughts, our private conversations,
our ideas, our intent are all things our phone tracks. These are
concepts that must remain private (if we choose to protect them)
for any functioning free society. In today’s technological
landscape, we are no longer giving up just our current or future
activity under warrant, but for the first time in history, making
potentially years of our life retroactively searchable by law
enforcement. Things are recorded in ways today that no one would
have imagined, even when CALEA was passed. The capability that DOJ
is asserting is that our very lives and identities — going back
across years — are subject to search. The Constitution never
If you read the government’s brief from last week, every instance of the adjective “warrant-proof” could be replaced by the word “secure”.
The government is trying to claim that Apple designed recent iPhones specifically to stymie law enforcement investigations. The feds leading this charge clearly do not understand many of the technical issues, but on this point they are being willfully obtuse. Apple designed the iPhone to be secure, and as a natural consequence of that security, their protections are harder to breach for everyone, including law enforcement.
How Diffie-Hellman Public Key Cryptography Works ★
A bit of history on public key cryptography, followed by a wonderfully cogent layperson’s explanation for how public key cryptography works. The analogy to mixing paint is so good.
Instagram to Switch to Algorithmic Feed Order ★
The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the
likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship
with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we
begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts
will still be there, just in a different order.
If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s
concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter
how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And
when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t
We’re going to take time to get this right and listen to your
feedback along the way. You’ll see this new experience in the
I trust Instagram to get this right.
Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford Reunite for Fifth Indiana Jones Movie ★
Director Steven Spielberg and star Harrison Ford will make a fifth
“Indiana Jones” film, to screen July 19, 2019, Disney announced
The release from the studio describes “a fifth epic adventure in
the blockbuster series,” adding: “Steven Spielberg, who directed
all four previous films, will helm the as-yet-untitled project
with star Harrison Ford reprising his iconic role. Franchise
veterans Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce.”
Somebody’s name is conspicuously absent from this announcement.
Update: I was referring to George Lucas — who co-created the franchise with Spielberg and wrote the stories for all the previous movies. The story I’ve heard is that part of Harrison Ford’s deal to do The Force Awakens was that they’d also do another Indiana Jones movie and this time do it right, with no involvement from Lucas. That Shia LaBeouf wasn’t coming back went without saying: neither Spielberg nor Ford liked him.
Gene Munster on Apple Car Pricing ★
Apple Car Fans:
In terms of the most likely go to market price, Munster also has a
“If you look at the overall automotive industry Apple historically
plays toward the high-end.” The price when Apple starts selling it
in 2020 or 2021 will be “around $75,000.”
I think Apple Watch points the way to hypothetical Apple Car pricing, with two or three tiers with very different price points.
(Via Jalopnik, who missed a real opportunity with the image they chose to pointlessly illustrate their article. Clearly they should’ve used this.)
Objection: Apple Is Not a Monopoly ★
Turns out smartphone security is not the only thing people in
Washington D.C. are willfully obtuse about. Writing for The Hill,
Glenn B. Manishin says it’s “Time to prosecute Apple for
Sure. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.
Florida Sheriff Threatens to Arrest ‘Rascal’ Tim Cook ★
Fox 13 News in Florida:
In this Polk county case, the suspects don’t have iPhones. But
Judd said, if it ever comes up in, he wouldn’t hesitate to arrest
“I can tell you, the first time we do have trouble getting into a
cell phone, we’re going to seek a court order from Apple. And when
they deny us, I’m going to go lock the CEO of Apple up,” he
pledged. “I’ll lock the rascal up.”
Yes, that’s exactly how it works.
Update: Video footage of Sheriff “JW” Judd attempting to arrest another rascal.
Obama on FBI v. Apple, Encryption: ‘We Can’t Fetishize Our Phones Above Other Values’ ★
Natt Garun, reporting on President Obama’s remarks on stage at SXSW:
“If it was technologically possible to make an impenetrable device
where there’s no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child
pornographer? How do we disrupt a terrorist plot? How do we even
do a simple thing like tax enforcement?” he posed. “If government
can’t get in, then everyone’s walking around with a Swiss bank
account in their pocket. There has to be some concession to get
into that information somewhere.”
Obama is sadly on the wrong side on this one. (Not surprising, given his past remarks and the fact that the Department of Justice is part of the Executive Branch.)
Here’s the thing: it is technically possible to make an impenetrable device. I strongly suspect Apple will, this year or next, begin selling them. And law enforcement will have to catch and prosecute criminals the same way they always have: through the evidence they can legally obtain.
“Setting aside the specific case between the FBI and Apple, we’re
gonna have to make some decisions about how we balance these
respective risks,” POTUS concludes. “We can’t fetishize our phones
above every other value. The dangers are real. This notion that
sometimes our data is different and can be walled off from these
other trade-offs is incorrect.”
I firmly believe Obama is advocating the wrong set of trade-offs. Our phones are either insecure, making life easier for law enforcement — or, our phones are secure, making life more difficult for law enforcement, rendering some potential evidence unobtainable. We don’t ban matches to prevent people from burning evidence. We don’t mandate weak locks to make it easier for the police to crack safes.
I keep thinking about a line from Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil: “A policeman’s job is only easy in a police state.”
Indie Mac Apps Are the Better Economic Bet ★
Brent Simmons, following up on Rene Ritchie’s aforelinked piece:
The Mac has for a long time been overlooked — first because
Windows was so huge, and then web apps, and now iOS. For my entire
career people have said that the Mac is a bad bet, that it’s dumb
to write Mac apps.
In 2002, in Why I Develop for Mac OS X, I explained that I write
Mac apps for emotional reasons.
Those emotional reasons still apply, and are enough, themselves,
to keep me writing Mac apps. But my experience since then tells me
that writing Mac apps is the best economic bet for indies.
(Particularly if you sell the app yourself, so you can have a
trial version and upgrade pricing.)
See also: Cabel Sasser on iOS vs. Mac revenue.
Wooden Toys in the Age of Plastic ★
Rene Ritchie, “What No Indie Developer Wants to Hear About the App Store”:
When I was a child, all my favorite toys were wooden,
painstakingly carved by artisans who ran the store near my home. I
cherished them. Today those kinds of toys are all but gone, and
that business model is no longer viable in the mass market.
In the age of Toys R Us and endless plastic of Lego and Hasbro,
indie toy making has all but disappeared from the mainstream. So
have many music and book shops in the face of Amazon and
mom-and-pop shops in the shadow of Walmart.
Customers, by and large, decided we’d rather have an endless
supply of cheap than we would a few precious pieces and the market
I recently spoke to some app developers — names many people would
recognize — and this was the same realization they communicated
to me. They didn’t want to speak on the record because they feared
the community would have little sympathy for their views, but
asked that I relate them.
To them, the mainstreaming of computing technology has led to a
similar mainstreaming of apps. When only a few could afford Macs,
software was held in high value and esteem. Now there are millions
of apps on millions of phones and tablets made by millions of
developers, accessibility is near-universal and scarcity is a
thing of past.
The DOJ Threatens to Seize Apple’s Crown Jewels ★
Did you catch that? That’s a classic police threat: We can do this
easy way or the hard way. Give us the little thing we’re asking
for — a way to bypass your security software — or we’ll take
whole thing: Your crown jewels and the royal seal too.
With Apple’s source code, the FBI could, in theory, create its own
version of iOS with the security features stripped out. Stamped
with Apple’s electronic signature, the Bureau’s versions of iOS
could pass for the real thing.
Keep in mind that no one is saying that Apple has broken the law. The DOJ is attempting to intimidate them simply for making iPhones more secure.
March Madness 2016 Comes to Apple TV With Exclusive Split-Screen Feature ★
From the press release for this year’s NCAA March Madness Live app:
Platform expansion – This year’s product will expand to 12
platforms — more than ever before –including desktop, Amazon Fire
tablets, Amazon Fire TV, iPhone, iPad, Android handset, Android
tablet, Windows handset, Windows desktop, Apple TV, Apple Watch,
Roku players and Roku TV models. Exclusively for NCAA March
Madness Live, fans watching via Apple TV can enjoy two live games
at once with the Split Screen feature.
That split screen feature should be great, especially during the first round when there are so many concurrent games. But is it exclusive for Apple TV for technical reasons, or because of a deal the NCAA worked out with Apple?
The R-Word ★
Lindy West, in an op-ed for the NYT:
It’s an odd construction. Once you say, “He says what I’m afraid
to say,” and point to a man who is essentially a 24/7 fire hose of
unequivocal bigotry, you’ve said what you’re afraid to say, so
how afraid could you have been in the first place? The phrase is a
dodge, a way to acknowledge that you’re aware it’s a little
naughty to be a misogynist xenophobe in 2016, while letting
like-minded people know, with a conspiratorial wink, that you’re
only pretending to care. It’s a wild grab for plausible
deniability — how can I be a white supremacist when I’m just your
nice grandpa? — an artifact of a culture in which some people
believe that it’s worse to be called racist than to be racist.
That phrase at the end — that we have “a culture in which some people believe that it’s worse to be called racist than to be racist” — is something I started noticing years ago. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it, and it explains much about our current discourse on racism.
What’s happened is that all but a small fringe of American society has agreed that “racism”, in the abstract, is deeply wrong. But there are many people who agree that “racism” is deeply wrong who themselves hold racist views. One way they square this cognitive dissonance is by redefining “racism” as applying only to grossly overt racism — using racial slurs, refusing to hire people of color, belonging to whites-only clubs, etc.
It’s the difference between seeing racism as a problem on which we’ve made tremendous progress but still have far to go, versus seeing it as a problem which we have largely eliminated.
Adam and Kubrick ★
2013 interview with Ken Adam on his decades-long relationship with Stanley Kubrick. On the Dr. Strangelove War Room set:
“We had big rows because on other films I’d been used to telling
the director where to do his establishing shot from. But Stanley
said the hell with you I’m not putting my camera there — and
you’ll thank me in the end.”
The war room is an acknowledged classic of movie design and Sir
Ken can’t resist quoting the biggest compliment he ever received.
“I was in the States giving a lecture to the Directors Guild when
Steven Spielberg came up to me. He said ‘Ken, that War Room set
for Strangelove is the best set you ever designed’. Five minutes
later he came back and said ‘No it’s the best set that’s ever been
On Kubrick’s uncredited contribution to Adam’s work on the Bond franchise:
In 1977, designing the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, Sir Ken
had built a vast set at Pinewood studios. It included a
supertanker which was proving hard to light.
“So I called Stanley up and asked him down to Pinewood to give me
ideas. At first he said I was out of my mind but eventually he
agreed to come on a Sunday when only security were around.
“He spent three or four hours with me telling me how he would
light the stage. And of course the whole thing being in secret
appealed to Stanley’s sense of drama. But I knew we would never
work together again. And Stanley didn’t ask — he’d been so scared
when he saw what happened to me half way through Barry Lyndon.”
Ken Adam, Movie Designer Extraordinaire, Dies at 95 ★
Kat Bauman, writing for Core 77:
Other cinema-shifting highlights from his bonkers Bond work
include ejecting seats and rocket shoes, the introduction of the
Aston Martin, a fantastic fictionalized Fort Knox, the volcano
lair in You Only Live Twice, and a mind-bogglingly large
soundstage for the tanker in The Spy Who Loved Me. But really,
anywhere you look in a Bond film you’ll find traces of Adam’s
innovation, drama, and fun.
Shortly after the release of Goldfinger, he was approached to
work on another visual and cultural groundbreaker: Stanley
Kubrick’s 1964 cult classic Doctor Strangelove. Adam’s version
of the War Room in the film has influenced generations of
audiences, artists and directors, and impacted the way the Cold
War was seen around the world. There’s even a story that Ronald
Reagan (Cold War noteworthy and cinephile that he was) wondered
aloud where the War Room was located during his first elected tour
of the White House.
What a career.
Bruce Sewell: ‘The Tone of the Brief Reads Like an Indictment’ ★
Bruce Sewell, in an on-the-record conference call with reporters:
The tone of the brief reads like an indictment. We’ve all heard
director Comey and Attorney General Lynch thank Apple for its
consistent help in working with law enforcement. Director Comey’s
own statement…that there are no demons here? We certainly wouldn’t
conclude it from this brief. In 30 years of practice, I don’t
think I’ve ever seen a legal brief that was more intended to smear
the other side with false accusations and innuendo, and less
intended to focus on the real merits of the case. For the first
time ever, we see an allegation that Apple has deliberately made
changes to block law enforcement requests for access. This should
be deeply offensive to everyone that reads it. An unsupported,
unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple rather than confront the
issues in the case. […]
Look, we know there are great people in the DoJ and the FBI. We
work shoulder to shoulder with them all the time. That’s why
this cheap shot brief surprises us so much. We help when we’re
asked to. We’re honest about what we can and can’t do. Let’s at
least treat one another with respect and get this case before
the American people in a responsible way. We are going to court
to exercise our legal rights. Everyone should beware, because it
seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you
must be evil and anti-American. Nothing could be further from
I was on the call, and my impression is that Sewell and Apple are seething. I get the sense there’s an aspect of “Fool us once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Apple was surprised last month when the DOJ decided to fight this in public. But until today, the tone has been civil. Adversarial, clearly — there is no middle ground. But civil. Today, though, the DOJ made things nasty. I think Apple was genuinely surprised by the threatening tone and nature of today’s brief. The DoJ’s brief contains an outright threat to confiscate the source code to iOS. That’s insane.
Apple’s not going to be surprised again.
The Verge is hosting a copy of the DOJ’s brief. Worth reading.
NSA Data Will Soon Routinely Be Used for Domestic Policing That Has Nothing to Do With Terrorism ★
Radley Balko, writing for The Washington Post:
On the one hand, I guess it’s better that this new data-sharing
policy is acknowledged in the open instead of carried out
surreptitiously. On the other hand, there’s something even more
ominous about the fact that they no longer feel as though they
need to hide it.
It’s all another sobering reminder that any powers we grant to the
federal government for the purpose of national security will
inevitably be used just about everywhere else. And extraordinary
powers we grant government in wartime rarely go away once the war
is over. And, of course, the nifty thing for government agencies
about a “war on terrorism” is that it’s a war that will never
This is literally the plot from Spectre.
$20 ‘Blockhead’ Adapter Lets MacBook Charger Sit Flush Against Wall ★
It’s an interesting idea, and I know a few spots in my house where this would come in useful. But I really wish the prongs folded up (like Apple’s do).
Eric Schmidt Spotted Snapping Pics With an Apple iPhone ★
Former Google CEO and current Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric
Schmidt was in South Korea for a press event this week, where he
was spotted taking pictures of the event using an Apple iPhone
instead of a Google Android handset. […]
While the sight of Schmidt using an iPhone, and not an Android
device, may come as a surprise to some, it’s not entirely
unexpected — Schmidt continued to use a BlackBerry well
after the launch of Android, candidly admitting he preferred the
handset’s physical keyboard.
Curious what the story is here.
Apple Event Officially Scheduled for Monday, March 21 ★
As expected, it’s a small event on Apple’s Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino. Could be the last-ever public event in their Town Hall theater.
Amazon’s Story Time ★
Josh Eidelson, writing for Bloomberg:
In an effort to discourage stealing, Amazon has put up flatscreen TVs that display examples of alleged on-the-job theft, say 11 of the company’s current and former warehouse workers and antitheft staff. The alleged offenders aren’t identified by name. Each is represented by a black silhouette stamped with the word “terminated” and accompanied by details such as when they stole, what they stole, how much it was worth, and how they got caught—changing an outbound package’s address, for example, or stuffing merchandise in their socks. Some of the silhouettes are marked “arrested.”
Not weird or Orwellian at all. No sir.
WSJ Editorial: ‘Apple Is Right on Encryption’ ★
The Wall Street Journal:
We bow to no one in defense of antiterror programs whose political
popularity waxes and wanes, especially on surveillance. But this
case isn’t about “privacy”. This is about engineering security and
its implications for the security of all Americans.
I disagree that it’s not about privacy, but they are exactly correct that it is about engineering security. Apple — and every other company in tech — should be working as hard as it can to make its entire systems as secure as possible, even if “as secure as possible” completely locks out everyone, including law enforcement.
Apple Rejected by U.S. Supreme Court in $450 Million E-Book Case ★
Apple Inc. must pay $450 million to end an antitrust suit after
the U.S. Supreme Court refused to question a finding that the
company orchestrated a scheme to raise the prices for
The justices, without comment, turned away an appeal by Apple,
leaving intact a federal appeals court ruling favoring the U.S.
Justice Department and more than 30 states that sued.
The rebuff means Apple must comply with a settlement it reached
with the states in 2014. The accord calls for Apple to pay $400
million to e-book consumers, $20 million to the states, and $30
million in legal fees.
Whenever someone says Apple does things only for the money, they should examine this case. This was always about the principle. They could have settled years ago, but they truly believe they got the shaft on this, and fought it until the end.
(I think they got the shaft.)
Chris ‘Moot’ Poole Joins Google ★
Chris Poole, founder of 4chan:
I can’t wait to contribute my own experience from a dozen years of
building online communities, and to begin the next chapter of my
career at such an incredible company.
Of course the founder of 4chan wound up at Google.
The Talk Show: ‘Occupy Portland’ ★
Special guest John Moltz returns to the show. Topics include the Apple/FBI encryption fight, Apple’s upcoming event and the products they’re expected to announce. And Campo Santo’s fantastic new video game Firewatch.
- Backblaze: Online backup for $5/month. Native. Unlimited. Unthrottled. Uncomplicated.
- Squarespace: Build it beautiful. Use code GRUBER for 10% off your first order.
- MailRoute: Hosted spam and virus protection for email. Use this link for 10 percent off for the life of your account.
Fiat Chrysler CEO: Apple Should Not Try Making a Car on Its Own ★
Speaking to journalists at the Geneva auto show, Marchionne said
there was sufficient capacity available among car makers to deal
with Apple’s requirements and it would make more sense for them to
partner with a car manufacturer rather than become an actor itself
in such a “complex business”.
I can see it now: the Fiat Rokr.
“If they have any urges to make a car, I’d advise them to lie down
and wait until the feeling passes,” Marchionne told journalists.
“Illnesses like this come and go, you will recover from them,
they’re not lethal.”
They’ve struggled for a few years here, figuring out how to make a decent car. Phone guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.
David Sparks on Apple Notes ★
Then I stated using Apple Notes and the strangest thing happened.
I liked it. Not only is Apple Notes a contender, Apple has
continued to refine the product. Just last week we got a new beta
of an upcoming Mac OS X release that includes additional Apple
Notes features. One of those new features is the ability to import
Evernote and plain text files. It seemed to me like a perfect
excuse to slurp in the rest of my nvALT database so I could really
push the application’s limits. Now I’ve got 787 notes in my Apple
Notes database. It’s growing daily.
So first this was all a big experiment to see what was wrong with
Apple Notes and then I just started using the application. I
didn’t admit to myself, or anyone else, that I become an Apple
Notes user but apparently I have.
Now that its syncing is based on CloudKit instead of IMAP, and with the features that have been added in iOS 9 and Mac OS X 10.11, Apple Notes is a solid notes app. I echo Sparks on this complaint:
That doesn’t mean Apple Notes is without fault. I wrote before,
and it still remains true, that the text size on the Mac version
is just too small. They keep adding new features with the betas
and it keeps amazing me that they don’t address this problem.
It’s almost mind boggling that you can’t change the default font size on the Mac. It’s not just a matter of preference, it’s a genuine accessibility problem. You can hit ⌘+ to increase the font size of the current note, but there’s no way to change the default for new notes. So if Helvetica 12 is too small for you to read, you’re stuck hitting ⌘+ for every single note.
Update: And why is it Helvetica instead of San Francisco? Does the Apple Notes Mac team live in a cave?
A Complete History of the Millennium Falcon ★
Michael Heilemann, writing for his remarkable Kitbashed:
One of the things I find so interesting about Star Wars is how the
creative process so clearly wasn’t locked from the beginning. It
was a long and winding road, and throughout writing the essays for
Kitbashed I’ve found that despite intense pressure there was
always an energetic adventurousness with ideas which inevitably
lead to some of the most iconic designs in film history.
The Falcon is a great example of that, specifically because the
final design is so distinct. It makes it a much more enticing to
try to decipher how it came about.
While I’ve been pursuing this subject for years, it wasn’t until I
starting putting together this essay that I finally began to find
some of the finer details of the Falcon’s creation.
The Millennium Falcon is my favorite thing in all of Star Wars — and it was almost something altogether different. The original design was a fine space ship, but it had none of the character the actual Falcon has.
Former Google CEO Schmidt to Head New Pentagon Innovation Board ★
Andrea Shalal, reporting for Reuters:
Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive officer of Google, will
head a new Pentagon advisory board aimed at bringing Silicon
Valley innovation and best practices to the U.S. military, Defense
Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday. Carter unveiled the new
Defense Innovation Advisory Board with Schmidt during the annual
RSA cyber security conference in San Francisco, saying it would
give the Pentagon access to “the brightest technical minds focused
Schmidt, now the executive chairman of Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), the
parent company of Google, said the board would help bridge what he
called a clear gap between how the U.S. military and the
technology industry operate.
Coming soon to a headline near you: Google to Become Major Defense Contractor.
A Procastinator on Doing a TED Talk About Procrastination ★
All TED speakers do a fully mic’ed and dressed rehearsal on the
real stage the weekend before the conference starts. Mine was
three days before my talk — and it was pretty rough, confirming
to me and everyone present that I was officially not a fraud when
it came to my topic. The irony of a guy rehearsing his TED Talk
about how he’s a bad procrastinator, and being clearly
underprepared while doing so, was not lost on anyone.
This whole thing was white-knuckle reading for me.
‘Warrant-Proof Places’ ★
From The Financial Times’s report on yesterday’s Apple/FBI hearing before Congress:
“Our job is simply to tell people there is a problem,” Mr Comey
said. “If there are warrant-proof spaces in American life, what
does that mean and what are the costs of that?” He added: “The
tools we use to keep you safe are becoming less and less
There have always been “warrant-proof places” containing information inaccessible to law enforcement: our minds. I support the right to use unbreakable encryption for the same reason I support Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, especially the right to remain silent.
Motherboard: ‘The Apple-FBI Encryption Hearing Was Unexpectedly Hostile to the FBI Director’ ★
Sarah Jeong, reporting for Motherboard:
A couple of representatives were openly hostile to Comey, but most
launched passive aggressive, loaded questions at the FBI director.
Even though the representatives (both Democrats and Republicans)
were mostly polite, the tone of the the questioning was a huge
departure from how the House Judiciary Committee typically
“I would be deeply disappointed if it turns out the government is
found to be exploiting a national tragedy to pursue a change in
the law,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) told Comey. […] The questions
got more hostile. Rep. Conyers asked Comey if the San Bernardino
case was an “end-run around this committee” — a loaded question
that Comey of course denied. […]
After that, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) opened his questioning by
quoting the late Justice Antonin Scalia: “There is nothing new in
the realization that the Constitution sometimes insulates the
criminality of a few in order to protect the privacy of all of
us.” Issa’s questioning was overtly hostile in tone, delving deep
into the technical details of the iPhone 5c. Comey was at loss,
admitting, “I have not answered the questions you have asked me
today and I am not entirely sure I understand the questions.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) then said to Comey, “As I was hearing your
opening statement talking about a world where everything is
private, it may be the alternative is a world where nothing is
private. Because once you have holes in encryption, the question
is not if but when those holes will be exploited.”
I’m actually not surprised at the hostility toward Comey. Democrats tend to support civil liberties against overreach from law enforcement, and Republicans — especially those in today’s House of Representatives — are extremely skeptical of an ever-more-powerful federal government. And both Republicans and Democrats yesterday seemed aware that the FBI’s use of the All Writs Act is, as Conyers put it, “an end-run around” Congress.
If there’s one thing that can unite both parties in today’s polarized Congress, it is the protection of congressional authority. The idea that the Department of Justice (which is part of the Executive Branch) and the Judicial Branch could dictate the terms of this debate is not going to fly.
Update: To be clear, there was also hostility toward Apple. That was expected by everyone. Some congresspeople are card-carrying members of the Golden Key Wizard Society.
February 2016 Was Very Warm ★
Eric Holthaus, writing for Slate:
Keep in mind that it took from the dawn of the industrial age
until last October to reach the first 1.0 degree Celsius, and
we’ve come as much as an extra 0.4 degrees further in just the
last five months. Even accounting for the margin of error
associated with these preliminary datasets, that means it’s
virtually certain that February handily beat the record set just
last month for the most anomalously warm month ever recorded.
February is typically brutally cold here in Philadelphia. It’s the month when I question why the hell I live here. This year, we had eight days with a high temperature in the 60s, and another four in the 50s. There were only four days where the temperature didn’t rise above freezing.