Linked List: February 2017

Profile in Courage 

Abby Phillip, reporting for The Washington Post:

Weeks after a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in a covert mission in Yemen, Trump has resisted accepting responsibility for authorizing the mission and the subsequent death of Senior Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens.

In an interview with Fox News that aired Tuesday morning, Trump said the mission “was started before I got here.” He noted that the operation was something his generals “were looking at for a long time doing.”

“This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do,” Trump said. “ And they came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected.”

“And they lost Ryan,” Trump continued.

Harry Truman: “The buck stops here.”

Donald Trump: “They lost Ryan.”

In other news from the kakistocracy today:

So: cowardice, paranoia, anti-Semitism, and tone-deaf racism.

Porsche Design’s Book One 

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

Porsche Design unveiled its Book One at Mobile World Congress this week, and it took me by surprise. At first glimpse it looks very similar to Microsoft’s Surface Book, and side-by-side there are obvious similarities, but I got a chance to spend some more time with the Book One and discover exactly how it blows past Microsoft’s own design.

Porsche Design has teamed up with Quanta, Intel, and even Microsoft to produce the Book One. It’s an ambitious effort to move from phones and headphones straight into computers, and it’s going to be the first of many computing devices with the German sports cars’ famous brand name. Inside the Book One is a 13.3-inch QHD display, with Intel’s latest 7th generation Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. Porsche Design is only producing one model with top specs, and it’s planning to make it available in April priced at $2,495. That’s a lot of money for even a premium Windows laptop, but you’re really paying the cash for the design and the hinge.

Seems like a much more elegant hinge design than the Surface Book.

Critiquing a New Typeface 

My friend Louie Mantia has recently taken to type design. He posted a preview to Twitter, and Jonathan Hoefler provided a detailed critique. (He marked it up using Notability on an iPad Pro.)

Another Tale of Rampant Sexual Harassment at Uber 

“Amy Vertino”, a former Uber engineer writing under a pen name:

On a bright and windy day last summer, while working on some updates to Uber’s driver payment system, Mike#2 proposed an idea which to me seemed as unfair to the drivers. It would block the payments to the driver if a customer complained about the ride before a ride ends. Fortunately, this never made it into the app. When we were brainstorming this idea, I openly spoke up against it. I told them that it was unethical to block a driver’s payments without researching the complaint to make sure it was the driver’s fault. Many of the Uber drivers in some countries do not own the cars they drive. They are owned by rich people who give the drivers a fixed monthly salary and take the money Uber pays the drivers from their bank accounts. So, if a payment is blocked because of a customer complaint, the drivers may go home without the pay they need to feed their families. When I voiced my concern, Mike#2 looked at me and said “There is no place for ethics in this business sweetheart. We are not a charity.” I was upset to hear such an insensitive comment. I repeated my point and this time, I raised my voice to show that I was unhappy with his attitude. Visibly angry, Mike #2 covered the microphone of the conference phone, he reached over to hold my hand tightly and told me to stop being a whiny little bitch. Two of the men in the room looked at each other and laughed while the rest of the men, like me, were shocked.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t link to an unverifiable anonymous story. But for me, Uber has lost the benefit of the doubt.

Emails Show Uber Deceived California DMV 

Andrew J. Hawkins, reporting for The Verge:

According to a lengthy email exchange between Uber and the DMV obtained by The Verge from a public records request, Uber was repeatedly urged to sign up for the state’s autonomous testing permit, with the DMV even offering to expedite the process to make it as quick and seamless as possible. Had it done so, Uber could have saved itself a lot of embarrassment and could be offering trips in self-driving cars in San Francisco right now.

But in multiple emails to the DMV, Anthony Levandowski, vice president at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group and the company’s top executive in charge of autonomous technology, argued that what it was doing did not meet the legal definition of autonomous vehicle testing, spurring a brain-bending debate over the letter of the law. The debate ended inconclusively, and Uber ultimately launched its doomed public pilot without ever notifying state regulators of its intentions to invite members of the public into the backseat of its self-driving cars.

“In their minds, they really thought they weren’t autonomous,” Jessica Gonzalez, assistant deputy director of public affairs at the DMV, told The Verge. “But we decide what’s autonomous. And under our regulations, it was.”

Levandowski is the guy accused of stealing intellectual property from Alphabet subsidiary Waymo and taking it with him to Uber.

Recode: ‘Uber’s SVP of Engineering Is Out After He Did Not Disclose He Left Google in a Dispute Over a Sexual Harassment Allegation’ 

Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode:

Amit Singhal has left his job at Uber as its SVP of engineering because he did not disclose to the car-hailing company that he left Google a year earlier after top executives there informed him of an allegation of sexual harassment from an employee that an internal investigation had found “credible.”

Singhal was asked to resign by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick this morning.

Uber execs found out about the situation after Recode informed them of the chain of events between Singhal and the search giant this week.

It’s possible that Uber never would have hired Singhal in the first place if they knew of the allegations against him at Google. It’s also possible that they would have, and Kalanick only asked him to resign today because the company is going through a firestorm of bad publicity regarding their poisonous corporate culture. They have no credibility here.

Internet-Connected Teddy Bear Leaked 2 Million Recordings of Parents and Kids 

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, reporting for Motherboard:

A company that sells “smart” teddy bears leaked 800,000 user account credentials — and then hackers locked it and held it for ransom.

A company that sells internet-connected teddy bears that allow kids and their far-away parents to exchange heartfelt messages left more than 800,000 customer credentials, as well as two million message recordings, totally exposed online for anyone to see and listen. […]

As we’ve seen time and time again in the last couple of years, so-called “smart” devices connected to the internet — what is popularly known as the Internet of Things or IoT — are often left insecure or are easily hackable, and often leak sensitive data. There will be a time when IoT developers and manufacturers learn the lesson and make secure by default devices, but that time hasn’t come yet. So if you are a parent who doesn’t want your loving messages with your kids leaked online, you might want to buy a good old fashioned teddy bear that doesn’t connect to a remote, insecure server.

Of course, anyone who isn’t a computer security expert has no hope of being able to determine whether any particular internet-connected device is actually secure. And even security experts can’t be sure. If you’re going to use an internet-connected device, you have to trust the company who made it.

See also: This story from October, about HomeKit’s stringent security requirements.

Warren Buffett Has Doubled Berkshire Hathaway’s Stake in Apple to More Than $18 Billion 

Bloomberg:

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. increased its stake in iPhone maker Apple Inc. to about 133 million shares, Chairman Warren Buffett told CNBC. That’s more than twice as much as Berkshire held as of Dec. 31, the billionaire told the cable network in an interview Monday. The stake is valued at more than $18 billion, based on Friday’s closing price of $136.66. […]

“Apple strikes me as having quite a sticky product and an enormously useful product to people that use it, not that I do,” Buffett said, praising Tim Cook, the technology company’s chief executive officer. “He’s been very intelligent about capital deployment.”

According to Recode, Berkshire didn’t have a single share in Apple a year ago:

Buffett famously insists that he’s not a technology investor, but says he bought Apple anyway, “because I liked it.”

“There’s a vast, untapped market up there,” Buffett said on CNBC, where he disclosed the new purchase and showed off his existing phone — not an iPhone, but a vintage flip model.

Trump Dines Out 

Benny Johnson:

The president was heading to his new flagship property in D.C., the Trump Hotel, for a private dinner at the BLT Steakhouse inside. Once the president arrived at the location, the reporter who was on assignment to cover him, Jordan Fabian of The Hill, was not let into the building and had to wait in the van outside for the remainder of the dinner, without a guest list or details of what was happening inside.

Inside the restaurant, I was seated at a table which I had booked hours earlier, directly next to where Trump would be dining. I made the booking based on a tip from a trusted source. I was ready to tell the story no one else would get to see and was personally fascinated to observe how a restaurant prepares for a president — and how Trump interacts when he believes no press are present.

The night was a wild one. Here is what happens when President Trump goes to dinner.

I enjoy a behind-the-scenes story like this. It’s fascinating to me that Johnson correctly predicted the exact table at which Trump would sit, and was able to book the nearest table for himself. Update: Ah, apparently not so fascinating at all how he scored the perfect table: Johnson is friends with White House spokesman Sean Spicer. Still, I found it fascinating to read about how a restaurant and the Secret Service prepare for the president to dine out.

Daniel Dourvaris’s 2015 MacBook Pro Retina Exploded 

Daniel Dourvaris:

One afternoon as I was lying on my bed browsing the internet, my MacBook Pro suddenly turned off. I turned it back on and within a few seconds there was weird hissing sound, followed by white smoke and thin flames coming out of from the back.

I got up and ran with the laptop for the bathroom where I could put it on the ceramic tiles. Not more than ten seconds had passed and already the heat from the bottom of the laptop burnt my middle and ring fingers so badly I had to let it drop.

Just in time.

There was a bang as I backed away causing the back to pop and smoke kept pouring out. It kept sizzling for a few minutes and then finally it stopped.

Wow. Scary how fast it went from something is wrong to dangerous.

Mac Private Clouds From MacStadium 

My thanks to MacStadium for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed.

It’s time to get your Mac infrastructure out of the office closet and into the hands of the experts. Some of the biggest companies in the world use MacStadium for their agile software development needs. With three worldwide locations, and the ability to scale infinitely, it’s the AWS-like service for iOS and MacOS. A hosted Mac Private Cloud is powered by VMware and running on dedicated Mac hardware. It allows quick deployment of virtual servers of any OS, on demand.

MacStadium works with CI/CD companies, internal dev teams in need of a hybrid cloud, and thousands of other customers around the world.

Mention that you found them via Daring Fireball and MacStadium will set you up with a production-ready private cloud for a 30-day trial.

Uber Misled Public About Its Self-Driving Car That Was Caught Running a Red Light 

Mike Isaac and Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for The New York Times:

The experiment quickly ran into problems. In one case, an autonomous Volvo zoomed through a red light on a busy street in front of the city’s Museum of Modern Art.

Uber, a ride-hailing service, said the incident was because of human error. “This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers,” Chelsea Kohler, a company spokeswoman, said in December.

But even though Uber said it had suspended an employee riding in the Volvo, the self-driving car was, in fact, driving itself when it barreled through the red light, according to two Uber employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements with the company, and internal Uber documents viewed by The New York Times. All told, the mapping programs used by Uber’s cars failed to recognize six traffic lights in the San Francisco area. “In this case, the car went through a red light,” the documents said.

I called this correctly back in December: their PR statement was carefully worded to mislead:

At first read, it sounds like Uber is saying there was a human driving the car. But if you parse it closely, it could also be the case that the car was in autonomous mode, and the “human error” was that the human behind the wheel didn’t notice the car was going to sail through a red light, and failed to manually activate the brake. I think that’s what happened — otherwise the statement wouldn’t be ambiguous.

Another case where lying has made a situation much worse. Everyone now knows the truth — their self-driving car was caught running a red light in downtown San Francisco — and the company’s (already questionable) credibility is shot. No one will believe a word the company says about future incidents with its autonomous cars.

White House Bars News Outlets From Press Briefing 

Michael M. Grynbaum, reporting for The New York Times:

Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.

Those organizations included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in, chose not to attend the briefing in protest of the White House’s actions.

Every news organization should have joined the AP and Time in boycotting this briefing.

Josh Marshall:

I think it is both more accurate and more productive to see this as cowardice rather than some sacrilege against journalism.

Apple Says iOS 10.2.1 Has Reduced Unexpected Shutdown Issue on iPhone 6 and 6S 

Matthew Panzarino:

Over the past couple of iPhone versions users have complained of “unexpected” shutdowns of their devices. Some iPhone 6, 6S, 6 Plus and 6S Plus devices could basically go dark unexpectedly, forcing a user to have to plug them into an outlet to get them to power back on.

Apple has been working on this very annoying bug and it says it has come up with a fix of sorts that should mitigate the problem on a majority of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices. The fix is actually already on your iPhone if you have installed iOS 10.2.1 — something that around 50 percent of iOS users have already done. After letting the fix simmer on customer devices, Apple now has statistics to share on how it has improved the issue, citing 80 percent reduction on iPhone 6s and 70 percent reduction on iPhone 6 devices.

I used to see this occasionally on my 6S, but as Panzarino notes, it was never a problem with the 7.

Tech Companies Stand Against Trump’s Rollback of Transgender Rights 

Tony Romm, reporting for Politico:

Apple, Uber and Microsoft led a growing collection of tech companies taking aim at President Donald Trump after he issued a directive on Wednesday that rolls back federal protections for transgender students in public schools.

In a statement, Apple stressed its belief that “everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination,” adding: “We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections.”

Uber, meanwhile, said it’s “proud of our longstanding opposition to harmful initiatives aimed at the LGBT community,” and it pledged it would “continue to speak out against discriminatory actions and in favor of good policy that champions equality and inclusion for all.”

And Microsoft, through a tweet from president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, swiped at the order in a subtle way. “Since Jan. 1, 1863, the federal government has played a vital role in protecting the rights of all Americans. Let’s not stop now,” Smith wrote, referencing the Emancipation Proclamation.

Trump’s retrograde stance on transgender rights is heartbreaking, but it’s not going to take us back. Trump’s administration can change how the law is enforced, but it can’t change society. Laws can (and sadly, will) be rolled back. Our collective social conscience cannot.

Amazon Says Alexa’s Speech Is Protected by the First Amendment 

Ashley Carman, reporting for The Verge:

Amazon has filed a motion to dismiss a search warrant for recordings from an Echo owned by a suspected murderer. Amazon argues that both its users’ requests to Alexa and the response the company produces are protected under the First Amendment. The company says it should only have to turn this data over if law enforcement meets a high burden of proof.

Good for them.

CNN: ‘FBI Refused White House Request to Knock Down Recent Trump-Russia Stories’ 

CNN:

The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN.

White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14.

The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.

Something outrageous comes out of the Trump Kakistocracy every single day, but we should never tire of calling it out. This story is outrageous. It’s a baldfaced attempt to subvert the rule of law.

The discussions between the White House and the bureau began with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on the sidelines of a separate White House meeting the day after the stories were published, according to a U.S. law enforcement official.

The White House initially disputed that account, saying that McCabe called Priebus early that morning and said The New York Times story vastly overstates what the FBI knows about the contacts. But a White House official later corrected their version of events to confirm what the law enforcement official described.

The same White House official said that Priebus later reached out again to McCabe and to FBI Director James Comey asking for the FBI to at least talk to reporters on background to dispute the stories. A law enforcement official says McCabe didn’t discuss aspects of the case but wouldn’t say exactly what McCabe told Priebus.

I would love to know who the White House official is who sold Priebus out here. Whoever it is is trying to get Priebus to resign or be fired. (And if the allegations are true, he should be fired, if not prosecuted for obstruction of justice.)

Neil Cybart: ‘Apple Doesn’t Need to Buy Netflix’ 

Speaking of Neil Cybart, his public column this week is a great read:

Calls for Apple to buy Netflix are getting louder. Instead of evaluating whether Apple should buy Netflix, a more valuable question is whether or not Apple actually needs to buy Netflix to accomplish its goals. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that calls to buy Netflix are misplaced as Apple is chasing after something entirely different in the video streaming space.

I agree with his analysis wholeheartedly.

From the Department of ‘Other Than That, How Did You Enjoy the Play, Mrs. Lincoln?’ 

Wirecutter headphone editor Laura Dragan, in The New York Times’s “Ask the Wirecutter” column:

Why aren’t the new Apple cordless earbuds on the list?

Ah, the AirPods. The current working term for those kinds of headphones is “true wireless.” Aside from not having a cord to tangle and being decent at taking phone calls, the AirPods didn’t improve much over the corded EarPods. The sound quality is the same (which is to say, meh, with no bass). Plus the battery life is less than a full day at work, so you had better remember to charge them at lunch time. And this for $130 more than a replacement pair of EarPods? I don’t think they’re fully cooked yet.

“Aside from not having a cord to tangle” is a bizarre thing to say about AirPods. Not having a cord to tangle is the entire reason they exist. The fact that Apple now thinks wireless headphones are ready for mass market use is the primary reason the iPhone 7 doesn’t have a headphone jack.

The sound quality is not the same as with Apple’s wired earbuds — almost everyone seems to agree it’s better. And the battery life can easily get you through a full work day with a few trips to the charging case. I totally get why many people — audiophiles in particular — would still prefer wired headphones, but AirPods are fully “cooked”.

Even weirder, in Dragan’s own report on The Wirecutter, she ranked AirPods as the “best for iOS and phone calls”. I don’t see how that previous advice possibly squares with the headline on this column, “How to Decide Which Headphones to Buy (Hint: Not Apple’s AirPods)”.

My best guess here is that the problem isn’t with Dragan, but rather with the Times selectively editing her comments and choosing an explosive but entirely misleading headline for the purpose of clickbait. Shameful.

(Via Neil Cybart on Twitter.)

Alphabet Subsidiary Waymo Files Suit Against Uber, Accuses Former Employee With Theft of Trade Secrets 

Waymo:

We found that six weeks before his resignation this former employee, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo’s LiDAR and circuit board. To gain access to Waymo’s design server, Mr. Levandowski searched for and installed specialized software onto his company-issued laptop. Once inside, he downloaded 9.7 GB of Waymo’s highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation. Then he connected an external drive to the laptop. Mr. Levandowski then wiped and reformatted the laptop in an attempt to erase forensic fingerprints. Beyond Mr. Levandowki’s actions, we discovered that other former Waymo employees, now at Otto and Uber, downloaded additional highly confidential information pertaining to our custom-built LiDAR including supplier lists, manufacturing details and statements of work with highly technical information.

We believe these actions were part of a concerted plan to steal Waymo’s trade secrets and intellectual property. Months before the mass download of files, Mr. Levandowski told colleagues that he had plans to “replicate” Waymo’s technology at a competitor.

A bad week for Uber just got a lot worse.

Netflix Buys Worldwide Rights to Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’, Starring Robert De Niro 

Dave McNary, reporting for Variety:

Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to Martin Scorsese’s gangster movie “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro. Netflix would not comment on the deal but sources close to the project confirmed a report by IndieWire.

“The Irishman” will be the ninth collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro. Steven Zaillian has written the script, based on the Charles Brandt’s 2004 book, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” which centered on the life of the mob hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran.

Scorsese and De Niro first partnered on 1973’s “Mean Streets,” followed by “Taxi Driver,” “New York, New York,” “Raging Bull,” “The King of Comedy,” “Goodfellas,” “Cape Fear” and 1995’s “Casino.”

The greatest director-actor partnership in the history of film. Coming soon to Netflix.

Maciej Ceglowski: ‘Social Media Needs a Travel Mode’ 

Maciej Ceglowski:

We need a ‘trip mode’ for social media sites that reduces our contact list and history to a minimal subset of what the site normally offers. Not only would such a feature protect people forced to give their passwords at the border, but it would mitigate the many additional threats to privacy they face when they use their social media accounts away from home.

Both Facebook and Google make lofty claims about user safety, but they’ve done little to show they take the darkening political climate around the world seriously. A ‘trip mode’ would be a chance for them to demonstrate their commitment to user safety beyond press releases and anodyne letters of support.

What’s required is a small amount of engineering, a good marketing effort, and the conviction that any company that makes its fortune hoarding user data has a moral responsibility to protect its users.

To work effectively, a trip mode feature would need to be easy to turn on, configurable (so you can choose how long you want the protection turned on for) and irrevocable for an amount of time chosen by the user once it’s set. There’s no sense in having a ‘trip mode’ if the person demanding your password can simply switch it off, or coerce you into switching it off.

This is a good idea, but I worry that it won’t be enough. Even if it’s irrevocable for a temporary period, what happens if the rules are changed such that a customs agent inspecting your phone can detain you if any of your social media accounts are in “travel mode”? Is there a way to make such a mode undetectable?

“Travel mode” would be better than nothing, but no technical solution is a substitution for proper civil liberties. Our phones and devices should be protected against unwarranted search and seizure, period.

Video Pros Moving From Mac to Windows for High-End GPUs 

Marco Solorio, writing for One River Media:

But as good as that juiced up Mac Pro Tower is today, I know at some point, the time will have to come to an end, simply because Apple hasn’t built a PCIe-based system in many years now. As my article described, the alternative Mac Pro trashcan is simply not a solution for our needs, imposing too many limitations combined with a very high price tag.

The Nvidia GTX 1080 might be the final nail in the coffin. I can guarantee at this point, we will have to move to a Windows-based workstation for our main edit suite and one that supports multiple PCIe slots specifically for the GTX 1080 (I’ll most likely get two 1080s that that new price-point). I’m no stranger to working on Windows systems (I’ve built my own Windows boxes since Windows 3/NT) and have Windows systems running now in our facility. But with that said, I do prefer Apple OS X when possible. But with no support of a modern PCIe-based workstation from Apple, our hands are tied to move to Windows. […]

With all that said, I see (and have already seen) a huge migration of longtime Apple users (such as me) going to Windows systems for their main workstation needs. The sheer power and lower cost is just too huge at this point. The Nvidia GTX 1080 just compounded that point exponentially stronger.

This may be a small market, but it’s a lucrative one. Seems shortsighted for Apple to cede it.

Update: I didn’t notice that this post was from May of last year, but given that there haven’t been any changes at all to the Mac Pro lineup since then, I can only imagine the situation is worse today than then.

Castro 2.3 

Nice update to another great indie podcast player. The custom notifications for new episode triage look like a great idea.

Trappist-1: Scientists Find 7 Earth-Like Planets Orbiting Nearby Ultracool Star 

Nsikan Akpan, writing for PBS News:

Skip 39 light-years across our galaxy, and you’ll arrive at Trappist-1, an ultracool dwarf star with a band of special followers. This dim star hosts seven Earth-like planets within its habitable zone, according to a study published today in the journal Nature. Exoplanets are a dime a dozen these days, but due to unique properties in this exosolar system, the new discovery may usher in a movement in the hunt for habitable worlds — one where astrophysicists can ascertain the presence of life without traveling across the cosmos.

“Ultracool” means that it’s a low-radition dwarf star, but the adjective works the other way too. They even registered a clever domain name.

New Episode of Computer Show 

“Why would you ever need to print anything?”

Apple’s New Campus Has a Name: Apple Park 

Apple:

Apple today announced that Apple Park, the company’s new 175-acre campus, will be ready for employees to begin occupying in April. The process of moving more than 12,000 people will take over six months, and construction of the buildings and parklands is scheduled to continue through the summer. […]

Steve would have turned 62 this Friday, February 24. To honor his memory and his enduring influence on Apple and the world, the theater at Apple Park will be named the Steve Jobs Theater. Opening later this year, the entrance to the 1,000-seat auditorium is a 20-foot-tall glass cylinder, 165 feet in diameter, supporting a metallic carbon-fiber roof. The Steve Jobs Theater is situated atop a hill — one of the highest points within Apple Park — overlooking meadows and the main building.

“Apple Park” — I like it. Naming the theater after Jobs is a deft touch as well.

Joanna Stern on Why Digital Assistants Tend to Have Female Voices 

Joanna Stern, writing for The Wall Street Journal:

You get the point: The virtual assistants popping up in our lives sound overwhelmingly female. “I’m female in character,” Amazon’s Alexa responds if you ask her if she is a woman. In their own clever ways Google, Apple and Microsoft’s voice assistants will tell you they’re genderless…in unmistakably womanlike voices.

As femme bot after femme bot has invaded our phones , speakers, cars, TVs — even our refrigerators — I’ve been left wondering: Where the man bots at? And why do these hunks of plastic and electronics need to be assigned a gender at all? My Amazon Echo doesn’t have any reproductive organs.

Siri is the only one of the bunch with a male option:

Siri may default to a female voice in the U.S. but Apple provides both male and female voice options for iPhone and iPad users to choose from. In fact, on iPhones where the language is Arabic, French, Dutch or British English, Siri defaults to a male voice.

Overcast 3: Design Walkthrough 

Marco Arment just released version 3.0 of his iOS podcast player, Overcast, and here he documents all of the significant UI changes. I have two high-level takeaways:

  • This is a terrific update. A lot has changed, and I think every single one of the changes is for the better. But, I think casual Overcast users might not realize just how much has changed. It still feels familiar. That’s hard to pull off.

  • The work that went into re-doing existing features in 3.0 is exactly why we, as a community of users, need developers to be able to generate sustainable revenue for apps. The 1.0 for any app always has conceptual mistakes, and even when the developer is not correcting mistakes, the OS state of the art moves forward. Old parts of the app need to be revisited just to stay up to date. The idea that you pay once — and just a few bucks at that — and then get updates for years to come just doesn’t allow for something like Overcast 3.0. There are some nice new features in Overcast 3.0, but the best aspects of Overcast 3.0 are the ways that existing features have been improved.

Just 4 Miles From Center City Philadelphia, a Heroin Hellscape Hidden in Plain Sight 

Eye-opening report by Stephanie Farr and Sam Wood for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Along a half-mile gorge cut by a Conrail line that runs through Kensington and Fairhill, tens of thousands of used syringes and their tossed off orange caps cover the sloping ground like a plague of locusts. The contaminated needles make conditions so hazardous that even some police officers are reluctant to traverse the embankments to get to dead overdose victims at the bottom.

The squalor and chaos along the rail line resembles a scene from Hieronymus Bosch. Addicts - many with needle marks so fresh that still-drying blood glistens in the sun - twist their bodies into unnatural forms to crouch and teeter on the trash-covered banks as they shoot up. Others sleep under nearby bridges or in makeshift shelters surrounded by garbage, drugs, and death.

How Is the New York Times Really Doing? 

Om Malik:

Wired magazine recently published, Keeping Up with the Times, a story about the New York Times and its slow & painful transition to a digital first publication. “It’s to transform the Times’ digital subscriptions into the main engine of a billion-dollar business, one that could pay to put reporters on the ground in 174 countries even if (OK, when) the printing presses stop forever,” Gabriel Snyder (one of my favorite writers, by the way) wrote in his in-depth feature, which is worth reading.

After reading the piece, I thought let’s see how the Times is really doing — by the numbers. With help of Nima Wedlake, I came up with data to chart the progress made by the company, to see how far it really is from its transformation into a billion-dollars-in-digital-business.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Says the Company Has Hired Former Attorney General Eric Holder to Probe Allegations of Sexism 

Travis Kalanick, in a company-wide memo leaked to Kara Swisher:

First, Eric Holder, former US Attorney General under President Obama, and Tammy Albarran — both partners at the leading law firm Covington & Burling — will conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly. Joining them will be Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber’s board, Liane Hornsey, our recently hired Chief Human Resources Officer, and Angela Padilla, our Associate General Counsel. I expect them to conduct this review in short order.

This is about as vigorous a response to Susan Fowler’s allegations as Kalanick could possibly pursue. Eric Holder isn’t going to sweep anything under the rug.

But I suspect it’s too little, too late. I think Uber’s company culture is toxic, and Holder’s report will prove it. What then?

ZTE Is Shutting Down Its Failed Hawkeye Phone Kickstarter Campaign 

Ashley Carman, writing for The Verge:

After a month and a half of letting its Hawkeye phone flounder on Kickstarter, ZTE is finally ending the campaign. It received $36,245 out of its $500,000 funding goal. In a post on the Kickstarter today, ZTE writes that it’s decided to end the campaign after considering feedback provided on the campaign page and its user Z-Community forum.

Like I said last month, crowdsourcing is no way to design anything.

ANSI Standard K100.1-1974: Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis (PDF) 

Most interesting thing I learned over the weekend: there’s a delightful ANSI standard for dry martinis — 16 to 1 ratio of gin to vermouth. (Thanks to Jim Lipsey.)

Susan J. Fowler on Uber’s Institutional Support for Sexual Harassment 

Susan J. Fowler, now an engineer at Stripe, on her year at Uber:

Uber was a pretty good-sized company at that time, and I had pretty standard expectations of how they would handle situations like this. I expected that I would report him to HR, they would handle the situation appropriately, and then life would go on — unfortunately, things played out quite a bit differently. When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to. Upper management told me that he “was a high performer” (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.

Later:

Over the next few months, I began to meet more women engineers in the company. As I got to know them, and heard their stories, I was surprised that some of them had stories similar to my own. Some of the women even had stories about reporting the exact same manager I had reported, and had reported inappropriate interactions with him long before I had even joined the company. It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being “his first offense”, and it certainly wasn’t his last. Within a few months, he was reported once again for inappropriate behavior, and those who reported him were told it was still his “first offense”. The situation was escalated as far up the chain as it could be escalated, and still nothing was done.

The whole story is compelling, and paints a scathing picture of Uber’s company culture. But the fact that the company’s HR department blatantly lied to a series of women harassed by the same man, telling each of them it was his “first offense”, is not just cruel, but shows just how confident they were that the women in the company would keep quiet about their harassment.

Now that Fowler’s story has broken, expect a flood of additional stories.

DF RSS Feed Sponsorships 

Long story short, this coming week’s DF RSS feed sponsorship was sold, but now it’s open. If you’ve got a cool product or service you want to promote to DF’s discerning audience, and can make a deal quick, get in touch.

David Wondrich: ‘Why I Hate Barstools and You Should, Too’ 

David Wondrich, writing for The Daily Beast:

I hate barstools.

OK, let me amend that. I like them well enough at 2:15 on a Tuesday afternoon, when you can pull one up, lay a stack of bills on the bar and let the afternoon pad away on quiet cat feet of jukebox C&W and Crown Royal.

But when 6:30 p.m. rolls around and you’re trying to get a drink and the bar is palisaded with a Trumpian wall of backs; when putting in a simple drink order means you have to stick your head into someone’s side eye-patrolled personal space and yell past their ear; when reaching over the tight-packed shoulders to get your Martini is like playing one of those rigged claw games — then, barstools suck.

Never really thought about it before, but it really does suck trying to get a drink at a bar when all the stools are occupied.

Squarespace Domains 

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. When it comes to your craft, you’re the expert. With Squarespace’s designer templates and easy-to-use interface, you can create a website that brings out the best in what you’re passionate about. Not ready to design your website yet? Reserve a spot for your big idea with Squarespace Domains. Then roll out your website when it’s ready.

Try Squarespace for free today. When you decide to subscribe, use offer code “DARING17” to get 10 percent off.

Apple’s New iPad Campaign: ‘We Hear You’ 

Rene Ritchie, on a just-launched iPad commercial campaign:

“We Hear You”, Apple’s new iPad Pro campaign, reminded me immediately of “Get a Mac”, the classic series of ads that had John Hodgman as PC and Justin Long as Mac show how Windows pain points could be easily, often delightfully fixed simply by switching to a Mac.

A few thoughts:

  • At just 15 seconds each, these spots are tight, in a good way.
  • The target is clearly getting people to switch from Windows PCs to iPads.
  • Each spot shows the iPad in multitasking mode. Usually with something work-related on the left, and iMessage on the right.
  • They show Numbers in the first spot, but Microsoft Office apps (Word especially) are the primary examples of doing “work”.
  • I find it interesting that the framing for each spot is a tweet, printed out and held on screen as a poster.
Financial Times: ‘Apple’s Stalled Talks With Ron Howard Flag Content Confusion’ 

Matthew Garrahan, reporting for The Financial Times:

The iPhone maker has been stalking Hollywood for more than a year, talking to leading industry players while it tries to formulate a cogent video strategy. It has considered a range of acquisitions and targets including, most recently, Imagine Entertainment, the Hollywood production company owned by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, according to several people briefed on the discussions.

The talks were serious enough to involve Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, and Eddy Cue, its senior vice-president of internet software and services. The talks included a possible “first look” distribution deal of Imagine movies and television shows, as well as an investment by Apple — or even a full purchase. But, as with many other potential deals involving Apple, the discussions fizzled out.

Would have worked out just great if only Apple had hired some investment bankers, I’m sure.

BlackBerry Drops to 0.0 Percent Worldwide Market Share, Windows Phone at 0.3, According to Gartner 

We’re down to two mobile OSes: Android (82 percent) and iOS (18 percent).

SoundSource 3 

Rogue Amoeba:

From SoundSource’s menu bar icon, you can instantly configure the audio devices your Mac uses for Input, Output and Sound Effects. In seconds, you can adjust the volume for each of your audio devices or switch between connected devices. SoundSource can also enable the soft play-thru of audio from input devices. Use the Play-Thru window to monitor any connected input, such as a microphone, right through your headphones or other output.

SoundSource is a superior sound control in a tremendously convenient package. It tucks out of your way in the menu bar until you need it, then provides easy access to swap audio devices, adjust volumes, and more. It’s the sound control that should be built into MacOS, now available from Rogue Amoeba.

$10 (cheap!) but even better: if you have a current license to any other Rogue Amoeba product, you get a license for SoundSource free of charge.

Peter Kafka’s Interview With Eddy Cue at Code Media Conference, Previewing ‘Planet of the Apps’ 

Nothing groundbreaking, but a nice preview of Apple Music’s two upcoming original shows: Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke.

I see a lot of griping on Twitter that Planet of the Apps looks corny / phony / cheesy / whatever. Of course it does. This is mainstream reality TV. This is not a documentary about what it’s actually like to create a new app or app-based service. It’s reality TV.

Matthew Panzarino:

For developers cringing at this — this is just how it feels to have your industry boiled down to a digestible TV nugget. Welcome!

Rene Ritchie:

Planet of the Apps: Not intended for “us” but for the mainstream. Or, now “we” know how cooks have felt about Hell’s Kitchen for a decade.

It need bear no more relation to actual app development than The Bachelor bears to actual dating.

The Macalope: ‘No, Apple Is Actually Pretty Good at Design’ 

The Macalope, responding to Ian Bogost’s “The Myth of Apple’s Great Design”:

The Macalope has made this point before but it’s one Bogost seems not to get: Apple products are never perfect, because we do not live in a world of perfect celestial spheres. What Apple usually manages to do, though, is make products that are so great during most usage that they make you forget the imperfections. So, if you believed Apple’s products were perfect then, yes, Bogost is right. That was a myth. But the Macalope has used products from Apple competitors and, in most cases, speaking personally, they’re worse.

The Macalope nails it. Bogost’s argument wasn’t that Apple is actually bad at design. His argument was simply that Apple’s products aren’t perfect. It’s a nonsense argument.

“Fuck-You Money” 

Alistair Barr and Mark Bergen, reporting for Bloomberg:

For the past year, Google’s car project has been a talent sieve, thanks to leadership changes, strategy doubts, new startup dreams and rivals luring self-driving technology experts. Another force pushing people out? Money. A lot of it.

Early staffers had an unusual compensation system that awarded supersized payouts based on the project’s value. By late 2015, the numbers were so big that several veteran members didn’t need the job security anymore, making them more open to other opportunities, according to people familiar with the situation. Two people called it “F-you money.”

Talent retention is one of the hardest problems in the whole industry. Pay employees too little and they’ll leave. Pay them too much and they’ll leave. And if they get bored, they’ll leave.

Piezo Generates More Money After Leaving the Mac App Store 

Paul Kafasis, Rogue Amoeba:

Our charmingly simple audio recording app Piezo was originally distributed in both the Mac App Store and via direct sales, but it has since left the App Store.

After seeing Kapeli’s chart, I was curious about the App Store’s impact on Piezo’s sales. The restrictions and limitations of the Mac App Store ultimately led us to remove Piezo on February 12th, 2016. We’ve now been selling it exclusively via our site for a year. This has provided about as perfect a real-world test case as one could hope for. Piezo’s removal came with minimal publicity, the price has remained constant at $19, and we’ve had no big updates or other major publicity for it in either 2015 or 2016.

This is a really interesting case study. They saw a small decrease in unit sales, but an increase in revenue because they were no longer paying Apple’s 30 percent App Store tax on any of the remaining sales. As Kafasis concludes:

I certainly won’t state that every developer will have this same success if they remove a product from the Mac App Store and distribute it exclusively through their own site. Your mileage will undoubtedly vary. In our case, however, it’s clear that we were serving Apple, rather than Apple serving us.

Jamf Now 

My thanks to Jamf Now for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Jamf Now is a simple, cloud-based solution designed to help anyone set up, manage, and protect Apple devices at work. Jamf Now allows you to treat IT as a task, not a career. Easily configure company email and Wi-Fi networks, distribute apps to your team, and protect sensitive data without locking down devices.

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The Talk Show: ‘Corporate Stiffy’ 

For your weekend audio enjoyment, a new episode of America’s favorite three-star podcast. Special guest John Moltz returns to the show. Topics include: 🐩💭, iPad vs. Mac for productivity (and why the iPad isn’t a self-sufficient platform), nostalgia for System 7, speculation on this year’s upcoming new iPhones, and more.

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Republicans Are Moving to Scrap Rules That Limit Overdraft Fees 

Matthew Zeitlin, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Last week, Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue introduced a resolution in Congress, alongside other Republicans including his fellow Georgian Johnny Isakson, to throw out a new package of rules for the prepaid debit card industry.

The rules, finalized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in October, include limitations on overdraft fees, which have become a significant source of consumer complaints about the financial industry — and an important revenue stream for Georgia-based financial firm Total System Services, whose NetSpend unit is the country’s largest manager of prepaid cards, according to a 2015 financial filing.

The vast majority of prepaid debit cards don’t come with overdraft fees, but NetSpend’s do, and the fees accounted for 10-12% of its overall revenue in 2016, or $80-85 million, the company told investors in October. Its parent has spent big on lobbying and political donations in a bid to kill the rules: in the last three months of 2016 alone, it spent some $270,000 lobbying Congress.

Again, this should be absolutely bipartisan. The people who are hit by these usurious overcharge fees are Republicans and Democrats alike. There’s no liberal/conservative angle to this. It’s just wrong.

And look at the deal Total Shitbag Services gets out of this: they spend $270 thousand lobbying Congress in order to preserve nearly 100 million in fees.

Kakistocracy.

It’s Not Foreigners Who Are Plotting Here: What the Data Really Show 

Nora Ellingsen, who spent five years working as a counter-terrorism analyst for the FBI, looked at the numbers for federal terrorism cases to see if there’s anything to support Trump’s immigration ban for its stated purpose:

For those who don’t want to do this deep dive, here’s a quick two-sentence summary: Conway’s position is empirically indefensible. Absolutely nothing in the large body of data we have about real terrorist plots in the United States remotely supports either a focus on barring refugees or a focus on these particular seven countries.

Nothing.

But she did find this (emphasis added):

Since January 2015, the FBI has also arrested more anti-immigrant American citizens plotting violent attacks on Muslims within the U.S. than it has refugees, or former refugees, from any banned country. As we wrote about here, here and here, in October 2016, three white men from Kansas were charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. According to the graphic complaint, the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant men planned to attack a mosque in the area. The men progressed quickly with their plot, amassing firearms and explosives. The targets were people from Somalia, who ironically, would now be covered by Trump’s order.

Ajit Pai, Trump’s FCC Pick, Quickly Targets Consumer Protection Rules 

Cecilia Kang, reporting for The New York Times:

In his first days as President Trump’s pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai has aggressively moved to roll back consumer protection regulations created during the Obama presidency.

Mr. Pai took a first swipe at net neutrality rules designed to ensure equal access to content on the internet. He stopped nine companies from providing discounted high-speed internet service to low-income individuals. He withdrew an effort to keep prison phone rates down, and he scrapped a proposal to break open the cable box market. […]

“With these strong-arm tactics, Chairman Pai is showing his true stripes,” said Matt Wood, the policy director at the consumer group Free Press.

“The public wants an F.C.C. that helps people,” he added. “Instead, it got one that does favors for the powerful corporations that its chairman used to work for.”

High-speed internet for low-income people, lowering usurious phone rates, breaking open the cable box market — who could be against these things? These aren’t liberal/conservative issues. This is just doing the bidding of major corporations.

Remember that word kakistocracy? Yeah, that’s what we have.

Samsung Factory Fire Triggered by Discarded Batteries 

The rare case when a figurative garbage fire turns into a literal garbage fire.

Oculus VR Best Buy Pop-Ups Are a Bust 

Alex Heath, writing for Business Insider:

Facebook is closing around 200 of its 500 Oculus virtual reality demo stations at Best Buy locations across the US, Business Insider has learned.

The scaling back of Facebook’s first big retail push for VR comes after workers from multiple Best Buy pop-ups told BI that it was common for them to go days without giving a single demonstration. An internal memo seen by BI and sent to affected employees by a third-party contractor said the closings were because of “store performance.”

Oculus spokeswoman Andrea Schubert confirmed the closings and said they were due to “seasonal changes.”

Actual headline from Business Insider, one year ago: “Apple Is Completely Missing VR”.

‘A Conservative Climate Solution’: Republican Group Calls for Carbon Tax 

John Schwartz, reporting for The New York Times:

A group of Republican elder statesmen is calling for a tax on carbon emissions to fight climate change.

The group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, with former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former secretary of the Treasury, says that taxing carbon pollution produced by burning fossil fuels is “a conservative climate solution” based on free-market principles. […]

In an interview, Mr. Baker said that the plan followed classic conservative principles of free-market solutions and small government. He suggested that even former President Ronald Reagan would have blessed the plan: “I’m not at all sure the Gipper wouldn’t have been very happy with this.” He said he had no idea how the proposal would be received by the current White House or Congress.

For those of you who erroneously claim I never link to stories about Republicans with approval, here you go: I love this. I hope they succeed. These are Republicans whose eyes are wide open to reality. (Maybe not the reality of today’s Republican party, but the reality of climate change.)

Apple Poaches Amazon’s Fire TV Head to Run Apple TV Product Marketing 

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has hired Timothy D. Twerdahl, the former head of Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV unit, as a vice president in charge of Apple TV product marketing and shifted the executive who previously held the job to a spot negotiating media content deals.

The moves suggest a renewed focus on the Apple TV and on providing more content for the device, an effort that has been stalled in the past by failed negotiations.

Twerdahl joined Apple this month, a spokesman for the iPhone maker said. He had been general manager and director of Amazon’s Fire TV business since 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile. At Apple, Twerdahl reports to Greg Joswiak, a vice president in charge of marketing for the iPhone, according to a person familiar with the matter.

It seems pretty clear that Joz is in charge of more than just the iPhone if the head of Apple TV reports to him. Sometimes Gurman’s stuff makes no sense to me.

Republican Senate Leadership Stops Elizabeth Warren From Reading a Letter From Coretta Scott King 

Jason Kottke:

Last night, during the Senate confirmation hearing of Senator Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III for Attorney General, Senator Elizabeth Warren attempted to read a letter that Coretta Scott King had written to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 opposing Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship (which he did not get).

Watch the video — it’s jarring.

I can’t help but feel this is backfiring on the Republicans. I’m seeing far more coverage of their preventing Warren from reading this letter — a letter from Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow! — than we would have seen if they’d simply allowed her to read it.

Every other Democratic senator should attempt to read King’s letter on Sessions. Make the Republicans own this.

See also: This collection of tweets by James Grimmelmann documenting the pro-slavery origins of Rule 19.

Which Is It? 

From an October 2016 story for Bloomberg by Mark Gurman:

The new building features open floor plans and few traditional offices. While some of Apple’s senior vice presidents are expected to see their offices move over to the new campus — less than a five minute drive from the current headquarters — management must be at a vice president level or above to get a formal office, one of the people said. Previous plans included office space for senior directors, who report to vice presidents. Another person said that some employees below vice president will be eligible for offices.

The new campus will include bench seating, long work tables, and open cubicle spaces, potentially irking employees used to quiet office environments, two people briefed on the new campus’s plans said. Apple’s presentations to the city of Cupertino have indicated that the open floor plan designs are conducive to collaboration between teams.

From yesterday’s (aforelinked) story for Reuters by Julia Love:

The campus is something of an exception to the trend of radically open offices aimed at fostering collaboration, said Louise Mozingo, a professor and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at U.C. Berkeley.

So which is it? I can’t believe Apple would attempt to stick their employees at benches and long work tables, but if they did, that would certainly be a “radically open office”. I suspect Gurman blew this one.

Update: Listening to some little birdies chirp, it sounds like there’s some truth to all of the above.

Daniel Steinberg Wishes Apple Loved Books 

Daniel Steinberg lamenting the lack of recent progress on iBooks Author:

iBooks Author could have been a trojan horse into the personal publishing business. It would have been classic Apple. Instead of small authors going to Amazon’s platform, they would have started with iBooks Author. Apple should have made it easy for them to push to Amazon as well. Why? Because these people wanted to publish on Amazon but they weren’t considering publishing with Apple. Thousands of authors would have come to Apple to create content and stayed with Apple after publishing content there.

iBooks Author is a perfect example of how the iPad is not self-sufficient. I wrote yesterday about how you can’t develop iPad apps on the iPad itself. But Xcode is very complex, and also has longstanding roots that tie it, as currently imagined, to MacOS. iBooks Author was announced in January 2012, when the iPad was two years old. The iPad itself, seemingly, would be a fine device for creating books with iBooks Author. But iBooks Author remains Mac-only.

Linea 

New $10 sketchpad iPad app from The Iconfactory. I love this app. Conceptually it’s simple: at the root level you have projects, and each project can contain multiple sketches.

When sketching, colors are on the left; layers, grids, and pens are on the right. That’s it — and the controls stay out of your way. The Iconfactory describes it as aiming for the simplicity of a paper sketchbook, and I think they’ve nailed it.

Reuters: ‘Channeling Steve Jobs, Apple Seeks Design Perfection at New “Spaceship” Campus’ 

Julia Love, writing for Reuters on Apple’s new campus, now nearing completion:

Signage required a delicate balancing act: Apple wanted all signs to reflect its sleek, minimalist aesthetic, but the fire department needed to ensure the building could be swiftly navigated in an emergency.

Dirk Mattern, a retired deputy fire chief who is representing the Santa Clara County Fire Department on the project, estimated he attended 15 meetings that touched on the topic.

“I’ve never spent so much time on signage,” he said.

The stuff about navigation and collaboration, I don’t get:

For all the time and money sunk into the project, some in the architecture community question whether Apple has focused on the right ends. The campus is something of an exception to the trend of radically open offices aimed at fostering collaboration, said Louise Mozingo, a professor and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at U.C. Berkeley.

I don’t know anyone who works at Apple who’d want to work at a desk in a room with a “radically open” floorplan. And I know several who would likely quit if forced to. People at Apple have work to do, work requires concentration, and concentration is easier to achieve when you have your own office.

Its central office building — a massive ring of glass frequently likened to a spaceship — could be a challenge just to navigate, she noted.

“It’s not about maximizing the productivity of the office space, it’s about creating a symbolic center for this global company,” she said. “They are creating an icon.”

Critics from the “architecture community” — starting all the way back in 2011, when the new campus was just a plan — seem to have no understanding of how Apple actually functions. Remember too, that Steve Jobs spearheaded the design of Pixar’s unique headquarters, about which I’ve heard nothing but praise from Pixar employees. (Pixar’s headquarters is different from Apple’s in many ways, but Pixar and Apple are, well, different in many ways.)

I think there’s a good chance that Apple knows what it’s doing here.

Analysts: Apple Took 92 Percent of Smartphone Industry Profits in Q4 

Patrick Seitz, Investors Business Daily:

Among six major vendors surveyed, four were profitable in smartphone sales in Q4, Canaccord analyst Michael Walkley said in the report. They were Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung and Sony.

Samsung accounted for 9 percent of smartphone industry profits in Q4, while Sony took 1 percent and BlackBerry less than 1 percent.

Interesting that Samsung did as well as they did given the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. And how bad is it for all the other phone makers in the world that they finished in the red, but even BlackBerry eked out a small profit?

(It’s because everyone else lost money that the numbers for profit share add up to more than 100.)

Google Makes It Ever So Slightly Easier to See and Share Publishers’ Real URLs From AMP Pages 

Danny Sullivan:

As promised, Google is making a change to how it displays Accelerated Mobile Pages, so that users can easily view and share links that lead directly to publishers’ sites rather than to Google’s copy of the content.

A little easier, but I would argue that they shouldn’t be doing this in the first place, and the new UI they’ve exposed is deliberately obfuscated.

Now, the URL field of a browser will continue to show a Google URL. However, the AMP header area will display a link or chain icon, what it calls the “anchor” button. Clicking on this will make the publisher’s direct URL appear, so that it can be easily copied and pasted.

This new “anchor” icon is cryptic, and I think deliberately so. It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was a button to show the real URL, and I am a designer who studies iconography and a critic of AMP’s google.com silo. I’ve wanted this feature to exist ever since AMP debuted but I wouldn’t have guessed that this was it. Lord only knows how many regular people will figure it out. (And, bizarrely, the icon isn’t even retina resolution. It looks like a blurry smudge on the screen.)

For those who hold down on the anchor button, Google says it will trigger the native share feature of the browser being used. With Safari, that means easy access to things like Twitter or Facebook. With Chrome, it lacks native share, so nothing should happen.

That’s not how it works for me. When I hold down on the anchor button, I get an alert that says “JavaScript” with buttons for Open and Cancel. To get to the iOS sharing sheet, I have to tap the anchor button, then press and hold on the URL that is revealed in a popover, then choose “Share…” from Safari’s contextual menu. A tap, a long press, and then another tap. Three steps — just to get to the system sharing sheet.

This is what you call a begrudging UI. Google wants you to pass around the google.com-hosted AMP URL, not the publisher’s original URL. If they wanted to make it easier to share the original URL, the anchor button would be a direct link to the original URL. No need for a JavaScript popover. You could then just press the anchor button to go to the original, and press and hold for Safari’s contextual menu. And they could just use the word “Link” or “URL” instead of a cryptic icon.

Better than nothing (which is what we had before), but weak sauce nonetheless.

Apple’s WebKit Team Proposes W3C Community Group: GPU on the Web 

Dean Jackson, from Apple’s WebKit team:

Instead we need to evaluate and design a new web standard that provides a core set of required features, an API that can be implemented on a mix of platforms with different system graphics technologies, and the security and safety required to be exposed to the Web.

We also need to consider how GPUs can be used outside of the context of graphics and how the new standard can work in concert with other web technologies. The standard should expose the general-purpose computational functionality of modern GPUs. Its design should fit with established patterns of the Web, to make it easy for developers to adopt the technology. It needs to be able to work well with other critical emerging web standards like WebAssembly and WebVR. And most importantly, the standard should be developed in the open, allowing both industry experts and the broader web community to participate.

Exposing “the general-purpose computational functionality of modern GPUs” would be great for the web, because that’s where the Moore’s Law action is at these days. GPU performance is improving much faster than CPU performance.

Merriam-Webster Adds Over 1,000 New Words 

Speaking of Merriam-Webster, they’ve announced the addition of over 1,000 new words:

Just as the English language constantly grows, so does the dictionary. More than one thousand new words have been added, including terms from recent advances in science, borrowings from foreign languages, and words from tech, medicine, pop culture, sports, and everything in between. This is a significant addition to our online dictionary, reflecting the breadth of English vocabulary and the speed with which we seek information. These new entries also highlight the old-fashioned skill of crafting useful and readable definitions that require the expertise and experience of our unique staff.

Examples:

Familiar words combine to give us metaphors or imagery like train wreck, side-eye, and weak sauce. As for verbs, we can ride shotgun, walk back an opinion, throw shade, face-palm, and geek out with new dictionary entries.

Their definition for throwing shade could just point to their aforelinked Twitter account. (Aforelinked, alas, has not yet made it into the dictionary, despite my best efforts.)

Merriam-Webster’s Deft Social Media Strategy in the Age of Trump 

David Mack, writing for BuzzFeed:

“A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality,” read a tweet from the staff at Merriam-Webster, linking to a dictionary article showing searches for the word “fact” had spiked after Conway’s interview. Simple yet full of shade, neutral yet undeniably pointed, it was the right tweet from the right account at just the right moment of public chaos.

“@KellyannePolls,” read one person’s reply that tagged Conway’s account, “when the dictionary is trolling you, you might want to reconsider everything in your life.”

That the tweet went viral was no coincidence. Its tone and timing were the product of more than a year of work by the Merriam-Webster staff in reimagining and overhauling their entire social media strategy — and, in doing so, their place in this new world of alternative facts.

Great example tweet from earlier today, replying to a question as to whether they ever take words out of the dictionary:

Yes — like snollygoster, “a shrewd and unprincipled person, especially an unprincipled politician.” Just added it back. https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/whats-a-snollygoster

Worth noting: Merriam-Webster’s website has improved a thousandfold in recent years. It used to be a disaster, the sort of website put up by a dictionary that felt like they had to publish their dictionary on the web but didn’t want to. Now, it looks like a first-class peer to their print edition.

Ringside 

New “superfamily” of typefaces from Hoefler & Co.:

Twenty years ago, our Knockout collection was designed to celebrate the beauty and diversity of nineteenth century sans serif wood types, one of America’s great contributions to type history. Picking up where this project left off is Ringside, a sans serif shaped by new challenges, new influences, and new ideas.

Where Knockout was designed for headlines, Ringside is made for text. Its proportions, fit, and details are designed to thrive at the smallest sizes, and each of its weights and widths includes that most essential quality of a dependable text face: a companion italic.

Feels like a sequel two decades in the making.

A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months 

Jugal K. Patel, reporting for The New York Times:

A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day.

“The iceberg is likely to break free within the next few months,” said Adrian J. Luckman of Swansea University in Wales, who is a lead researcher for Project Midas. “The rift tip has moved from one region of likely softer ice to another, which explains its step-wise progress.”

Terrifically well illustrated.

Vizio Settles FTC Lawsuit Over Tracking TV Viewing 

The Federal Trade Commission:

Vizio, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers and sellers of internet-connected “smart” televisions, has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General that it installed software on its TVs to collect viewing data on 11 million consumer TVs without consumers’ knowledge or consent. […]

According to the agencies’ complaint, starting in February 2014, Vizio, Inc. and an affiliated company have manufactured Vizio smart TVs that capture second-by-second information about video displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices.

The lack of respect for consumer privacy in this case is just appalling.

Over 100 Companies File Opposition to Trump’s Immigration Ban 

Kate Conger, reporting for TechCrunch:

Notably absent from the list of 97 companies are several who met with Trump prior to his inauguration: Amazon, Oracle, IBM, SpaceX and Tesla. Oracle CEO Safra Catz is serving as an advisor to the Trump transition team, while SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has defended his decision to remain on an advisory council for Trump.

I’m not surprised by Oracle, IBM, or Elon Musk’s companies, but I am surprised by Amazon.

Update: Tesla and SpaceX have joined the brief, along with Adobe. Good for them.

Update: Looks like Amazon is officially opposed, but didn’t join this brief for legal reasons:

Amazon was one major company that didn’t join with the brief, which supported a case brought by Minnesota and the state of Washington opposing the ban on refugees and temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

That’s because Seattle-based Amazon had already filed a declaration in the same case explaining how the ban negatively affects the e-commerce giant. Washington’s attorney general advised Amazon not to join the amicus brief since it’s a witness in the original lawsuit, according to a source familiar with the matter.

It turns out that Microsoft, also absent from the amicus brief, filed a declaration in the original case brought by Washington, as well.

Lina M. Khan in Yale Law Journal: ‘Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox’ 

An almost book-length (seriously, over 25,000 words) analysis of Amazon’s end-run around antitrust regulation. It’s quite readable though. My summary would be that U.S. antitrust enforcement in recent decades is focused almost exclusively on consumer prices. If a monopoly isn’t price gouging customers, it’s not a problem. Khan makes a strong case that that mindset might make sense in the brick and mortar world, but it doesn’t make sense if the world of competitive online platforms.

And yes, the e-book price-fixing case against Apple is a perfect example. Khan writes:

In 2012, the DOJ sued the publishers and Apple for colluding to raise e-book prices. In response to claims that the DOJ was going after the wrong actor — given that it was Amazon’s predatory tactics that drove the publishers and Apple to join forces — the DOJ investigated Amazon’s pricing strategies and found “persuasive evidence lacking” to show that the company had engaged in predatory practices. According to the government, “from the time of its launch, Amazon’s e-book distribution business has been consistently profitable, even when substantially discounting some newly released and bestselling titles.”

Judge Cote, who presided over the district court trial, refrained from affirming the government’s conclusion. Still, the government’s argument illustrates the dominant framework that courts and enforcers use to analyze predation — and how it falls short. Specifically, the government erred by analyzing the profitability of Amazon’s e-book business in the aggregate and by characterizing the conduct as “loss leading” rather than potentially predatory pricing. These missteps suggest a failure to appreciate two critical aspects of Amazon’s practices: (1) how steep discounting by a firm on a platform-based product creates a higher risk that the firm will generate monopoly power than discounting on non-platform goods and (2) the multiple ways Amazon could recoup losses in ways other than raising the price of the same e-books that it discounted.

On the first point, the government argued that Amazon was not engaging in predation because in the aggregate,Amazon’s e-books business was profitable. This perspective overlooks how heavy losses on particular lines of e-books (bestsellers, for example, or new releases) may have thwarted competition, even if the e-books business as a whole was profitable.

(Via Philip Elmer-DeWitt, who has his own summary of Khan’s thesis.)

The Atlanta Falcons Had a 99.7 Percent Chance to Win Super Bowl 51 at One Point 

I’ve been watching pro football for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never seen anything like that comeback.

Uber Hires Veteran NASA Engineer to Develop Flying Vehicles 

Brad Stone, reporting for Bloomberg:

In 2010, an advanced aircraft engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center named Mark Moore published a white paper outlining the feasibility of electric aircrafts that could take off and land like helicopters but were smaller and quieter. The vehicles would be capable of providing a speedy alternative to the dreary morning commute.

Moore’s research (PDF) into so-called VTOL — short for vertical takeoff and landing, or more colloquially, flying cars — inspired at least one billionaire technologist. After reading the white paper, Google co-founder Larry Page secretly started and financed two Silicon Valley startups, Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, to develop the technology, Bloomberg Businessweek reported last summer.

Now Moore is leaving the confines of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he has spent the last 30 years, to join one of Google’s rivals: Uber Technologies Inc.

I don’t think it’s right to call these things “flying cars”, but man, whatever we wind up calling them, what an audacious plan.

Setapp 

I want to thank MacPaw for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Setapp.

Setapp is an ambitious new subscription service for indie Mac software. It’s not a store, but more like Netflix for apps. You pay $9.99 per month, and you get access to over 60 high-quality Mac apps. There are no ads. There are no in-app purchases. There is no catch. You pay $9.99 per month, and you get access to the latest versions (including updates) for all these apps. And they just launched last month, so the number of apps may grow significantly over time.

Take a look at the list of apps — it’s a great lineup.

To top it all off, you can try Setapp for an entire month free of charge. Go ahead and sign up today.

The Making of Apple’s HAL Commercial for the Super Bowl 

A long, detailed, fascinating story involving Stanley Kubrick, Steve Jobs, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the Super Bowl? Yeah, pretty good odds I’d link to this.

An Extra Week 

Interesting post from Jeff Johnson:

Apple stated that Q1 FY2017 was an all-time record for quarterly revenue. The media dutifully and mostly uncritically spread this “great” news for Apple. But the headlines were fake news. Technically the claim is true, the revenue was an all-time record. True but misleading. Although Apple didn’t lie as such, you might say there was a sin of omission, and a definite spin of the facts. Most Apple fiscal quarters are 13 weeks long. Once in a while, however, they need a 14 week quarter. You might call it a “leap quarter”. There was a good explanation of this financial practice a few years ago in Slate. Apple’s Q1 2017 was a 14 week quarter, for the first time since Q1 2013.

Adjusted for the extra week, Apple actually had another down quarter. I’m surprised I didn’t hear more about this when results came out. I don’t think it’s quite right to ding the quarter by a full 8 percent — the entire last week started with Christmas day — but surely some sort of correction is necessary for year-over-year comparisons.

Update: Jason Snell on the “leap” week:

But, for better or for worse, the window we get into Apple’s finances is based on its financial statements — and that means the quarters as Apple defines it. This was a record quarter for Apple. But it’s also fair to point out that Apple’s definition gives it a one-time windfall, an extra week of sales that it won’t get again for another few years. And it’s a windfall that next year’s year-over-year holiday-quarter comparison will have to overcome in one fewer week.

Gordon Mah Ung Goes Deep Testing the Battery Life of the New MacBook Pros 

Simply exceptional deep dive into the battery life of the new MacBook Pros. Must-read piece. Very fair, and very thorough.

Should iOS 10.3’s App Store Rating Prompts Be Notifications Instead of Alerts? 

Supertop’s Oisin Prendiville has an interesting proposal:

I believe that the notification pattern could improve the effectiveness of the rating feature.

  • An app requests that the user be prompted.
  • iOS decides based on policy whether it is appropriate to show a request.
  • If iOS decides to show the request, the interface slides down from the top of the screen like a notification.

I’m on the fence about his idea. There’s no question that the current design in the 10.3 betas (the modal alert) is more intrusive. But developers get to decide when it appears. That means, if they’re hoping for positive reviews, it’s in their own interest to show it after the user has done something, not while they are doing it. I’d bet that Apple considered something pretty much exactly like what Prendiville is suggesting.

LG Has Redesigned Its 5K Mac Monitor So It Can Handle Being Placed Near a Wi-Fi Router 

Ina Fried, writing for Recode:

LG has found a fix for a problem that left its high-end Mac monitor unable to work properly when placed within a few feet of a router. An LG spokesman told Recode that the company is adding additional shielding to newly manufactured models. […]

Existing models will be able to be retrofitted with the enhanced shielding, which will allow the monitor to be placed near a router.

That’s a lot of fun, packing up a 27-inch display, shipping it to LG, and waiting for it to come back. Not a great start to Apple’s “let’s count on someone else to make the external displays for Macs” plan.

U.S. Government Reveals Over 100,000 Visas Revoked Due to Travel Ban 

Rachel Weiner, reporting for The Washington Post:

Over 100,000 visas have been revoked as a result of President Trump’s ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, an attorney for the government revealed in Alexandria federal court Friday.

Don’t let anyone tell you this affects only a small number of people.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to Leave Trump Advisory Council After Criticism 

Mike Isaac, reporting for the NYT:

The tension over continuing to work with Mr. Trump reached a breaking point at Uber because Mr. Kalanick was, until Thursday, one of the most vocal proponents among tech chiefs of engaging with the president. As recently as Saturday, Mr. Kalanick had publicly said in a blog post that the best route forward was to have “a seat at the table.” He had added, “We partner around the world optimistically in the belief that by speaking up and engaging we can make a difference.”

Outside of the internal pressure, Uber faced other fallout from Mr. Kalanick’s stance. More than 200,000 customers had deleted their accounts.

Protests can work. I’m sure the internal objections from employees helped, but losing 200,000 customers in a week or two is going to get any CEO’s attention.

Elon Musk remains on the board, and issued this tepid statement.

Felix Salmon: ‘Impartiality or Diversity. Pick One.’ 

Felix Salmon, writing for Fusion:

Today, the personal is political; identity politics is politics. Political stances aren’t just something that we choose to express when we open our mouths in a certain way; they’re a way of living in the world. If I am a gay Yemeni immigrant, or a black trans woman, or a Muslim trans man who’s a survivor of sexual assault, then to be open and unapologetic about my identity is to be a partisan in the most urgent political debates of the day.

Comcast Employees Walk Out to Protest Trump’s Immigration Order 

Billy Penn:

Comcast employees self-organized a march to City Hall to protest Donald Trump’s recent immigration executive order. The rally came together through an internal Slack channel that a high-level source at Comcast told Billy Penn grew from about 100 people to 1,200 people this week. Comcast is one of the largest employers in the Philadelphia region and stands as the most influential corporation in the city.

In Philadelphia, where Comcast is headquartered, the one-hour rally began at 2 p.m. Thursday at the plaza outside the Comcast Center at 17th and JFK. Others in the Philadelphia tech sector were encouraged by organizers to attend, and as hundreds and bordering on thousands of protesters joined in the march. Comcast campuses in Washington, D.C., New York City (SoHo) and Sunnyvale, CA held their own rallies, as well.

The action is not technically a “walk-out” as the company is offering paid time off to anyone taking part in the demonstration.

You know we’re in perilous times when you find yourself cheering for Comcast.

Week-Old Claim Chowder for Bloomberg Regarding iPhone Average Selling Prices 

Alex Webb, writing for Bloomberg last week, under the headline “Apple iPhone Price Under Pressure as Buyers Seek Cheaper Devices”:

Apple Inc. results next week will likely show iPhone sales growing again, bucking a year of declines. That’s the good news.

But in a sign that customers are opting for less expensive models, some analysts predict that the average selling price for the handsets likely declined over the holidays, a crucial period for Apple. Some purchasers are settling for older iPhone 6S models, rather than the iPhone 7, introduced in September, analysts said.

“Recent smartphone customers increasingly are opting for the iPhone 6S,” Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz wrote in a note to clients this week as he downgraded his recommendation on Apple stock to hold. “We detect increasing concern among industry participants that smartphones in general have evolved technologically to become more than good enough to serve most users’ digital needs over multiple years or until the device breaks.”

The problem here isn’t that a few analysts got it wrong. Analysts get this stuff wrong all the time. The problem is that Bloomberg’s headline took analyst speculation and treated it as fact. Turns out the headline was completely wrong. The iPhone is seemingly not under any price pressure, and the ASP even went up a few bucks. Oh, and in the same quarter two years ago, iPhone ASP was $687, and three years ago (the last year before the higher-priced Plus models were in the mix), iPhone ASP was $637.

Bonus Peter Thiel claim chowder, from the same article:

“We know what a smartphone looks like and does,” billionaire technology investor Peter Thiel told the New York Times recently. “It’s not an area where there will be any more innovation.”

You Don’t Hear So Much About the iPhone 7 Headphone Jack Anymore 

Benedict Evans on Twitter:

Highest-ever iPhone sales. Reminder: technologist complaints about Apple products are generally a good counter-indicator for consumer demand.

Timothy Buck:

Yep. The uproar over headphone jack was ridiculous. Clearly the market didn’t care.

It feels like ancient history already, but there were reviews of the iPhone 7 that spent more time on the removal of the headphone jack than anything else.

Also worth pointing out that the severe delay in shipping AirPods didn’t hurt sales of the iPhone 7. (Or if it did, not enough to keep it from breaking the record.)

Update: NPR’s headline on Apple’s earnings: “Even Without A Headphone Jack, iPhone 7 Boosts Apple’s Sales”.

Jackass of the Week: Barron’s 

This is an actual headline at Barron’s today: “Apple: Investors Are Happy, But What About Consumers?”.

They sell 78 million iPhones in a quarter and Barron’s thinks it’s a legitimate question whether they’re making customers happy?

The real test comes later this year, when Apple releases its next iPhone, marking the smartphone’s 10th anniversary. As the stock makes gains, investor expectations for the debut head ever higher.

The “real test” is always the next iPhone with these people. Always.

Innovation, perhaps. But the new Macbooks [sic] have faced more than their usual share of criticism, including a rather lukewarm review from Consumer Reports about the battery life of the devices. Apple has since provided a software update that Consumer Reports says fixed the issue.

There are many reasonable complaints about the new MacBook Pros. But they’re nuanced. The only reason to dredge up the Consumer Reports saga — which is about a Safari developer debug mode bug that even Consumer Reports admits has been fixed by Apple — is to create the illusion of drama.

Bloomberg: Apple Working on ARM Chip for Macs to Run Power Nap Features 

Interesting scoop from Mark Gurman and Ian King:

Apple engineers are planning to offload the Mac’s low-power mode, a feature marketed as “Power Nap,” to the next-generation ARM-based chip. This function allows Mac laptops to retrieve e-mails, install software updates, and synchronize calendar appointments with the display shut and not in use. The feature currently uses little battery life while run on the Intel chip, but the move to ARM would conserve even more power, according to one of the people.

The current ARM-based chip for Macs is independent from the computer’s other components, focusing on the Touch Bar’s functionality itself. The new version in development would go further by connecting to other parts of a Mac’s system, including storage and wireless components, in order to take on the additional responsibilities. […]

However, Apple has no near-term plans to completely abandon Intel chips for use in its laptops and desktops, the people said.

It’s interesting to ponder how this might work from a software perspective. With the current Touch Bar, there’s a conceptual wall between the Intel side and the ARM side. The “Mac” stuff all runs on the Intel side, and there’s an iOS computer on the ARM side that only does Touch Bar-related things.

I don’t think this use-the-ARM-chip-during-Power-Nap idea would involve emulating x86 code on ARM — you’d lose the energy efficiency advantage of ARM, which is the whole point. My guess is that Mac apps (and OS services) that want to take advantage of it would do so via small extensions, compiled both for ARM (for these future MacBooks) and x86 (for all other Macs).

Apple Considers Legal Options Against Trump’s Immigration Order 

Tripp Mickle, reporting for the WSJ:

Apple Inc. is weighing legal action and continuing to press the Trump administration to reverse its executive order on immigration, Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an interview.

Mr. Cook said hundreds of Apple employees have been affected by the order, which suspended entry to the U.S. for refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations. He added that he continues to contact “very, very senior people in the White House” and impress on them why repealing the executive order is important not only for Apple but for the country.

“More than any country in the world, this country is strong because of our immigrant background and our capacity and ability as people to welcome people from all kinds of backgrounds. That’s what makes us special,” said Mr. Cook. “We ought to pause and really think deeply through that.”

Good for Apple, and good for Tim Cook. I wrote last week that I was mildly disappointed that Cook’s initial response, in the form of a sure-to-be-leaked company-wide memo, wasn’t strong enough. Telling the Wall Street Journal that the company is looking into legal options to oppose it is pretty strong.

(I mentioned my disappointment in Cook’s memo on the just-released new episode of The Talk Show, too — it was recorded before this interview with the Journal was published.)

The Talk Show: ‘Yay or Nay to Their POV’ 

Matthew Panzarino returns to the show. Topics include Apple’s Q1 2017 financial results (including record iPhone sales and continuing cooling iPad sales), issues with LG’s new 5K UltraFine display (not so fine if you use it near a Wi-Fi router), the tech industry’s response to Trump’s immigration ban, and the highlights at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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