Linked List: March 2017

4-Year-Old Boy in U.K. Saved His Mother’s Life Using Siri 

From the 999 transcript:

Operator: Hello, this is the police. What is your emergency?

Roman: Hello, I’m Roman.

O: Where’s your mummy?

R: She’s at home.

O: Where are you?

R: At home as well.

O: Can you do me a favour? Can you go and get mummy?

R: We can’t, she’s dead.

O: You said mummy was there – what do you mean she’s dead?

R: It means that she’s closing her eyes and she’s not breathing.

Apple Acquires Workflow 

Whoa, huge news for iOS nerds. Matthew Panzarino has the scoop:

Workflow has been around for a couple of years and we’ve covered it and its updates. It shares some similarity with the service IFTTT, in that it allows people to group together a bunch of actions that can allow them to perform complicated tasks with one tap. It had built up a sizeable number of users and downloads over the past few years.

Workflow the app is being acquired, along with the team of Weinstein, Conrad Kramer and Nick Frey. In a somewhat uncommon move for Apple, the app will continue to be made available on the App Store and will be made free later today.

This certainly provides ammunition against the argument that Apple no longer cares about power users. For me this is Apple’s most intriguing and exciting acquisition in years.

Personally, Workflow never really clicked for me, but I’ve been meaning to give it another try. The problem for me isn’t Workflow itself, but iOS. MacOS, at a conceptual level, matches the way my brain works for nerdy custom automation stuff — I just get Unix shell scripting languages, AppleScript-able Mac apps, and NeXTstep’s brilliant system-wide Services menu. Doing things the iOS way via Workflow looks cool, but whenever it comes down to it, it always feels easier to me to just wait until I’m at a Mac and create it there.

But one of the things that has always impressed me, and which has paid off for them in the end, is that Workflow stayed true to the platform. Workflow was designed from the ground up as a true and native iOS service. It is one of the most iOS-y pieces of software ever created. They took the severe limits of inter-application communication on iOS and embraced them.

Gizmodo: ‘Samsung’s New iPad Pro Is Just Fantastic’ 

Alex Cranz, Gizmodo:

Coming a year after the launch of Apple’s first 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the new iteration from Samsung feels daring. While it has the same sleek lines, is just as light, and possesses the magnetic connection on one side for easy keyboard cover attachment, Samsung’s iPad Pro for 2017 is, inexplicably called the Galaxy Tab S3, and unlike previous iPads this one runs on Android.

Samsung is so stupid with their insistence on printing their ugly logo on the front face of any device where it’ll fit. You’re obviously supposed to use this tablet in landscape orientation any time it’s connected to the keyboard case, or any time you watch a video. For many users, that might be the majority of their time using the device. And when the device is in landscape, the logo is oriented wrong. That’s just plain stupid.

And look at their asymmetrical copy of the iPad’s Smart Connector. Says everything you need to know about Samsung’s care for the little details.

The Talk Show: ‘Hubbo Is in Decline’ 

New episode. Special guest Merlin Mann. Enjoy.

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Quick Thoughts on Today’s New Apple Stuff 
  • Product Red Special Edition iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: Looks cool. But I think I’d rather see it with a black face.

  • New 9.7-inch just-plain “iPad”: Looks like the supply chain rumor mill was almost entirely wrong about new iPads. No new iPad Pro hardware at all. Just a no-adjective 9.7-inch “iPad” to replace the iPad Air 2. It’s a nice update for the budget-conscious: the new iPad has a brighter screen and an A9 instead of an A8 chip, and costs $70 less. As predicted, Apple is clearly putting the “Air” brand out to pasture.

  • Clips: Looks cool, especially the part about dictating the titles verbally. But it doesn’t ship until April.

  • New Apple Watch Bands: None of these colors speak to me, personally, but I will say that comfort-wise, Apple’s nylon bands are my favorite.

  • Update: Also, the iPhone SE storage tiers have been bumped from 16/64 to 32/128 GB. That means Apple is no longer selling any 16 GB iPhones (or iPads for that matter).

(A thought about the missing updates to the iPad Pro lineup: it seems like the supply chain leaks are mostly related to displays. A 10.5-inch display would necessarily require a new hardware design, because that’s a new display size for iPads. But what if the next update to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro also sports a new smaller-bezel design? Same display size as the current big iPad Pro, but a smaller footprint? When Apple makes multiple sizes of the same device family, they generally look as similar as possible other than the difference in size. It would be weird if, later this year, Apple released two new iPad Pros, but only one of them sported a new edge-to-edge display.)

Disability in the Age of Trump 

Beautiful, moving comic by Amanda Scurti.

Guetzli: A New Open Source JPEG Encoder From Google 

Robert Obryk and Jyrki Alakuijala, of Google Research Europe:

At Google, we care about giving users the best possible online experience, both through our own services and products and by contributing new tools and industry standards for use by the online community. That’s why we’re excited to announce Guetzli, a new open source algorithm that creates high quality JPEG images with file sizes 35% smaller than currently available methods, enabling webmasters to create webpages that can load faster and use even less data.

Guetzli [guɛtsli] — cookie in Swiss German — is a JPEG encoder for digital images and web graphics that can enable faster online experiences by producing smaller JPEG files while still maintaining compatibility with existing browsers, image processing applications and the JPEG standard. […]

And while Guetzli produces smaller image file sizes without sacrificing quality, we additionally found that in experiments where compressed image file sizes are kept constant that human raters consistently preferred the images Guetzli produced over libjpeg images, even when the libjpeg files were the same size or even slightly larger. We think this makes the slower compression a worthy tradeoff.

They’re not exaggerating. I installed Guetzli (via Homebrew) and it produces JPEGs that are about one-third smaller and yet look the same to my eyes. It’s a significant breakthrough for such a venerable image format.

There is, of course, a catch. Image processing is really slow. It takes about 8 minutes for Guetzli to process a single iPhone camera image on my 5K iMac. That doesn’t mean Guetzli isn’t useful — it just isn’t useful in a user-facing context. If I ran a site that published photos, I’d hook it up in the background on the server hosting my images.

Charlie Warzel Profiles Techmeme’s Gabe Rivera 

Charlie Warzel, writing for BuzzFeed:

Techmeme, then, wields tremendous power over a tremendously powerful group of people. And as its founder, Rivera has been quietly defining Silicon Valley’s narrative for the industry’s power brokers for more than a decade. But Rivera is uncomfortable — or unwilling — to reckon with how his influence has affected one of the most important and powerful industries in the world. The result is that Rivera can cast himself both as a gimlet-eyed insider with a powerful readership and as a mostly anonymous entrepreneur running a niche link blog from the comfort of his home. It’s a convenient cognitive dissonance.

I visit Techmeme once or twice on typical workdays. But I find it essential when I’m on vacation or otherwise offline for large stretches of time — it’s a great way to quickly check whether anything happened I need to know about. Nothing else like it.

Pixure 2.2 and PanelKit 

Pixure is Louis D’hauwe’s excellent pixel art app for iPad and iPhone. It’s a terrific app. You might want to check out the latest version even if you aren’t interested in creating pixel art, though — it’s the first version using D’hauwe’s own open source PanelKit framework. PanelKit allows apps to turn popovers into draggable panels, and allows for them to be pinned into place as stay-open sidebars. It caught my eye a few weeks ago on Twitter, and now that I can play with it in an actual app, I’m even more impressed with the ingenuity.

Update: Reminds me of the tear-off menus in MacPaint, Hypercard, and NeXTstep.

Anthony Bourdain Does Not Want to Owe Anybody Even a Single Dollar 

Anthony Bourdain, on his approach to personal finance after having not filed taxes for 10 years and running up credit card debt that he ignored until he was 44:

That was really the first time I started thinking about saving money. About not finding myself in that terrifying space, that uncertainty that goes back to childhood. Will the car get fixed? Will we be able to pay for tuition? In very short order, I contacted the IRS and I paid what I owed. I paid American Express. Since that time, I am fanatical about not owing anybody any money. I hate it. I don’t want to carry a balance, ever. I have a mortgage, but I despise the idea. That was my biggest objection to buying property, though I wasn’t in the position to pay cash.

The reports of my net worth are about ten times overstated. I think the people who calculate these things assume that I live a lot more sensibly than I do. I mean, I don’t live recklessly — I have one car. But I don’t deprive myself simple pleasures. I’m not a haggler. There’s not enough time in the world. I tend to go for the quickest, easiest, what’s comfortable. I want it now. Time’s running out.

(Via Kottke.)

‘There’s a Smell of Treason in the Air’ 

Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker, reporting for The Washington Post:

But in Monday’s remarkable, marathon hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey said there was no such evidence. Trump’s claim, first made in a series of tweets on March 4 at a moment when associates said he was feeling under siege and stewing over the struggles of his young presidency, remains unfounded.

Comey did not stop there. He confirmed publicly that the FBI was investigating possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and associates with Russia, part of an extraordinary effort by an adversary to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election in Trump’s favor.

Questions about Russia have hung over Trump for months, but the president always has dismissed them as “fake news.” That became much harder Monday after the FBI director proclaimed the Russia probe to be anything but fake.

“There’s a smell of treason in the air,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said. “Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mind-boggling event.”

As is our current predicament.

Leaked Images of Samsung Galaxy S8 From Evan Blass 

Looks like Samsung is beating Apple to the “hardly any chin or forehead” punch. The top and bottom have bezels, but they’re so small Samsung couldn’t print their ugly logo on the front, finally moving past one of the worst aspects of every other Samsung phone to date.

Are they really going to call the bigger model the “Plus”? They’re really going to rip off Apple’s naming?

Google to Revamp Ad Policies After Big Brands Boycott 

Joe Mayes and Jeremy Kahn, reporting for Bloomberg:

The U.S. company said in a blog post Friday it would give clients more control over where their ads appear on both YouTube, the video-sharing service it owns, and the Google Display Network, which posts advertising to third-party websites.

The announcement came after the U.K. government and the Guardian newspaper pulled ads from the video site, stepping up pressure on YouTube to police content on its platform.

France’s Havas SA, the world’s sixth-largest advertising and marketing company, pulled its U.K. clients’ ads from Google and YouTube on Friday after failing to get assurances from Google that the ads wouldn’t appear next to offensive material. Those clients include wireless carrier O2, Royal Mail Plc, government-owned British Broadcasting Corp., Domino’s Pizza and Hyundai Kia, Havas said in a statement.

The flip side of the theory that we, as users, are Google’s product, not their customers, is that advertisers are Google’s actual customers. And so here they are, responding promptly to their customers’ complaints.

Daring Fireball Sponsorship Openings 

Down to just four open spots between now and the end of May — but that includes this week and next. We’ve had some great first-time sponsors recently. If you’ve got a cool product or service to promote, get in touch.

Uber President Jeff Jones Is Quitting, Citing Differences Over ‘Beliefs and Approach to Leadership’ 

Kara Swisher and Johana Bhuiyan, reporting for Recode:

Jeff Jones, the president of Uber, is quitting the car-hailing company after less than a year. The move by the No. 2 exec, said sources, is directly related to the multiple controversies there, including explosive charges of sexism and sexual harassment.

So was Uber’s toxic culture a surprise to Jones? Or was it even worse than what he was braced for?

Chuck Berry Dies at 90 

Great clip from 1987’s Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, with Chuck Berry teaching Keith Richards how to properly play the opening licks of “Carol”. Perfect.

See also: This letter from Carl Sagan and NASA creative director Ann Druyan to Berry in 1986.

Quip Electric Toothbrush 

My thanks to Quip for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Quip is a vibrating electric toothbrush with a two-minute timer, and automatic delivery of fresh brush-heads every three months. Everything your teeth need, nothing they don’t.

Quip was named one of the 25 best inventions of 2016 by Time magazine. Just look at it, it’s adorable. Special offer for DF readers: get your first brush-head and toothpaste refill for free.

Recreating Asteroids With Lasers 

Seb Lee-Delisle recreated the vintage Asteroids coin-op game using lasers, and the result is glorious. Great video from Matt Parker.

Why YouTube Switched From 5-Star Ratings to Thumbs Up/Down in 2009 

I got a lot of pushback from readers regarding my post yesterday supporting Netflix’s switch from a 5-star rating system to a simple thumbs up/down system. The gist of the complaints is that some people do carefully consider their star ratings, and do value the granularity of being able to say that you like/dislike something a little or a lot. But of course some people take that care. The problem is that most people don’t, and collectively, 5-star rating systems are garbage.

This post from YouTube back in 2009 shows it with data: when they had a 5-star rating system, the overwhelmingly most common rating was 5-stars. The next most common was the lowest, 1-star. 2-, 3-, and 4-star ratings were effectively never used.

For a personally curated collection, 5-star ratings can be meaningful. But for a recommendation service that averages ratings among all users, they are not. It’s the difference between designing for the ideal case of how people should behave versus designing for the practical case of how people actually behave.

The Case Against Uber 

Daniel Compton lays out the case that Uber coordinated with Anthony Levandowski to steal Google subsidiary Waymo’s self-driving car technology:

From Waymo’s filings, it seems that they have Levandowski dead to rights on stealing their LiDAR designs. That alone should be enough to bring Uber’s self-driving car program to a halt and cause some big problems for Levandowski. California’s Trade Secrets law is weaker than other states, but if successful, Waymo will be able to seek an injunction, damages, and attorney’s fees. Because all law is securities law, the SEC may also be able to bring a case against Uber (similarly to their case against Theranos).

See also: Compton’s update yesterday.

Netflix Is Ditching Five-Star Ratings in Favor of a Thumbs-Up 

Lauren Goode, reporting for The Verge:

Netflix will soon be changing its ratings system for the first time in several years, switching from a traditional five-star rating to a thumbs-up / thumbs-down system, Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin said in a press briefing today.

“Five stars feels very yesterday now,” Yellin said. “We’re spending many billions of dollars on the titles we’re producing and licensing, and with these big catalogs, that just adds a challenge.” He added that “bubbling up the stuff people actually want to watch is super important.”

I give this change a thumbs-up. Everyone knows what “like” and “dislike” mean. People have very different opinions on 1-5 star ratings.

(A “meh” — neither like nor dislike, would be good too.)

The Curious State of Apple Product Pricing 

Another good column from Neil Cybart at Above Avalon:

It is very difficult to find a pair of wireless headphones priced lower than AirPods. In the run-up to Apple unveiling AirPods this past September, the wireless headphone market consisted of the following players:

  • Kanoa: $300
  • Bragi Dash: $299
  • Erato Apollo 7: $289
  • Skybuds: $279
  • Earin: $249
  • Motorola VerveOnes+: $249
  • Samsung Gear IconX: $199
  • Bragi Headphone: $149

Given the preceding list, a strong case could have been made for Apple to price its new wireless headphones at $249, or even $299. The fact that Samsung priced its Gear IconX at $199 seemed to suggest a sub-$200 retail price for AirPods was unlikely. Instead, Apple sent shockwaves pulsing through the market by pricing AirPods at only $159. The action instantly removed all available oxygen from the wireless headphone space. The idea of Apple coming out with a new product that would underprice nearly every other competitor was unimaginable ten years ago.

He makes a strong case that Apple Watch is underpriced compared to its competition, too.

AirPods are still showing a delivery estimate of “6 weeks”. Either demand remains unexpectedly strong or production remains unexpectedly difficult (or some combination of both).

Clickbait Headline of the Day: Wired 

Provocative headline on Brian Barrett’s piece for Wired on Alexa coming to the Amazon iOS app: “Siri’s Not Even the Best iPhone Assistant Anymore”:

What makes Alexa on iOS so intriguing isn’t just that it’s there, but where. There was already an Alexa app, a rudimentary utility that let users fiddle with the settings on their Amazon Echoes. And there have been a handful of third-party paid apps that brought some Alexa voice functionality to the iPhone. Now, though, Alexa will live inside the main iOS Amazon app, one of the most popular downloads in the entire App Store.

That puts iPhone and iPad owners just two taps away — one to open the Amazon app, the next to activate the microphone — from a voice assistant that doesn’t just rival Siri, but surpasses it in significant ways. Alexa’s popularity should already be giving Apple fits. Now it’s coming from inside the phone.

First, Alexa in the Amazon iOS app isn’t even rolled out to everyone yet. When I try it, the only voice commands I can issue are related to buying things from Amazon.

Second, it’s ridiculous to argue that Siri doesn’t have a nearly insurmountable convenience advantage. Alexa is only “two taps” away if your iPhone is already unlocked and you’re on the home screen where the Amazon app resides. From a locked iPhone, Siri can be invoked without even touching the phone (“Hey Siri…”) or with a single long-press on the home button. If you want to argue that Alexa is better overall than Siri, go ahead (and it seems clear that Alexa is better at some things), but on any given device, the only voice assistant that matters is the one that’s built into the system.

Alexandra Petri: ‘Trump’s Budget Makes Perfect Sense and Will Fix America, and I Will Tell You Why’ 

Alexandra Petri, writing for The Washington Post on Trump’s proposed budget cuts:

Environmental Protection Agency: We absolutely do not need this. Clean rivers and breathable air are making us SOFT and letting the Chinese and the Russians get the jump on us. We must go back to the America that was great, when the air was full of coal and danger and the way you could tell if the air was breathable was by carrying a canary around with you at all times, perched on your leathery, coal-dust-covered finger. Furthermore, we will cut funding to Superfund cleanup in the EPA because the only thing manlier than clean water is DIRTY water.

Funnier than the column itself is the fact that the White House itself promoted it, presumably because they only read the headline. (No idea why The Daily Beast brands the piece as “fake news”. Satire — no matter the fact that it sometimes sails over the heads of the humorless — is not fake news.)

Swatch Group Developing Its Own Watch OS 

Corinne Gretler, reporting for Bloomberg:

Swatch Group AG said it’s developing an alternative to the iOS and Android operating systems for smartwatches as Switzerland’s largest maker of timepieces vies with Silicon Valley for control of consumers’ wrists.

The company’s Tissot brand will introduce a model around the end of 2018 that uses the Swiss-made system, which will also be able to connect small objects and wearables, Swatch Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said in an interview Thursday. The technology will need less battery power and it will protect data better, he said later at a press conference.

Worth noting: the Swatch Group is a conglomerate that owns a wide range of watch brands, including Omega.

I see three major problems with this plan:

  1. Developing your own OS is hard. Most such efforts never really get off the ground (e.g. Samsung’s Tizen). Some get off the ground but never get anywhere (e.g. Windows Phone). It’s especially hard for a company that doesn’t already have experience developing software platforms.

  2. A third-party watch OS is never going to have tight integration with phones running iOS or Android.

  3. “Around the end of 2018” is a long ways off. I expect Apple to ship major updates to Apple Watch in September 2017 and again in 2018. So whatever Swatch is planning isn’t going to debut competing against WatchOS 3 and second-generation Apple Watch hardware — it’ll be competing against WatchOS 5 and fourth-generation Apple Watch hardware. Good luck with that.

Lack of Oxford Comma Could Cost Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute 

Daniel Victor, reporting for The New York Times:

A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks.

What ensued in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and in a 29-page court decision handed down on Monday, was an exercise in high-stakes grammar pedantry that could cost a dairy company in Portland, Me., an estimated $10 million. […]

The debate over commas is often a pretty inconsequential one, but it was anything but for the truck drivers. Note the lack of Oxford comma — also known as the serial comma — in the following state law, which says overtime rules do not apply to:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;

(2) Meat and fish products; and

(3) Perishable foods.

The dairy company argued that “packing for shipment” and “distribution” were two different items in the list; the truck drivers argued that it was just one item: “packing for shipment or distribution”.

Google Home Now Testing Audio Ads 

Katyanna Quach, writing for The Register:

In a car-crash video, uploaded to Twitter by Bryson Meunier, a Google Home is asked: “Okay Google, what’s my day like?” The chatbot answers the question by telling him the time, the weather and what his commute is like. So far, so good.

But then, it sneakily adds: “By the way, Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast opens today.” Soft piano music is played, and the ad continues running.

“For some more movie fun, ask me something about Belle. Have a good one,” it cheekily concludes, referring to the movie’s character. Now, we’re aware of the irony of complaining about ads spouted by a device, only to then offer to play the ad to you, but it’s honestly so creepy and stupid, it’ll make you reconsider the myth that Google hires only the smartest people on the planet.

Google’s initial response is laughable:

This isn’t an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales.

Paper Airplane Icons 

Daniel Jalkut, on the use of paper airplane icons to represent sent email:

I was curious to know if another email app used paper airplanes to represent drafts before Apple Mail did. I went out Googling and found all manner of representations, usually employing the paper envelope, or another snail-mail related symbol. None of them, except Mail, uses a paper airplane.

So my modest research suggests that the use of a paper airplane was a pretty novel bit of design. Was it an Apple innovation, or did it debut in some prior app I haven’t been able to track down?

After all these years using Apple Mail, I never before noticed that the Drafts icon is a sheet of paper with a folding diagram to turn it into an airplane.

Bloomberg Feature: ‘Did Uber Steal the Driverless Future From Google?’ 

Fascinating feature by Max Chafkin and Mark Bergen for Bloomberg Businessweek:

As Google’s car project grew, a debate raged inside the company, reflecting a broader dispute about the direction of autonomous vehicles: Should the tech come gradually and be added to cars with drivers (through features like automatic parking and highway autopilot) or all at once (for instance, a fleet of fully autonomous cars operating in a city center)? Urmson, a former Carnegie Mellon professor, preferred the latter approach, arguing that incremental innovations might, paradoxically, make cars less safe. Levandowski believed otherwise and argued that Google should sell self-driving kits that could be retrofitted on cars, former colleagues say.

Urmson won out, and according to two former employees, Levandowski sulked openly. After one dispute between the two, Levandowski stopped coming to work for months, devoting his time to his side projects. This didn’t stop Page and Brin from discreetly acquiring 510 Systems and Anthony’s Robots for roughly $50 million in 2011.

Seems like a bizarre company culture that allows an executive to just stop coming to work for months at a time.

Levandowski seemed to struggle in other ways as well. In December, Uber dispatched 16 self-driving cars, with safety drivers, in San Francisco without seeking a permit from the California DMV. The test went poorly — on the first day, a self-driving car ran a red light, and the DMV ordered Uber to halt its program in the state. The company suffered further embarrassment when a New York Times article, citing leaked documents, suggested that Uber’s explanation for the traffic violation — that it had been caused by human error — wasn’t complete. The car malfunctioned, and the driver failed to stop it.

The misdirection came as no surprise to the Uber employees who’d spent time at Otto’s San Francisco headquarters. Someone there had distributed stickers — in OSHA orange — with a tongue-in-cheek slogan: “Safety third.”

“Safety third”. Hilarious.

Jon Rubinstein Named Co-CEO of World’s Biggest Hedge Fund, Fired 10 Months Later 

Mary Childs, reporting for The Financial Times 10 months ago:

Bridgewater has chosen former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein as the new co-chief executive of the world’s biggest hedge fund, replacing Greg Jensen as part of a 10-year handover from founder Ray Dalio.

Mr Rubinstein, who also sits on the boards of Amazon.com and Qualcomm, is expected to join Bridgewater in May and to share the co-CEO role with Eileen Murray.

Now:

Bridgewater Associates co-CEO Jon Rubinstein is stepping down and transitioning to an external advisory role in April after 10 months on the job, the firm told clients in a note Wednesday.

“While over the last ten months Jon has helped build a plan to re-design our core technology platform and has brought in a group of extremely talented executives to build out our technology leadership, we mutually agree that he is not a cultural fit for Bridgewater,” Bridgewater founder, chairman, and co-CIO Ray Dalio wrote in the note.

Pi Fest 

Nice collection of science and research apps for the Mac, at a discount of up to 50 percent. Great apps, great deal.

Jonathan Zdziarski Joins Apple 

Jonathan Zdziarski:

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve accepted a position with Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture team, and am very excited to be working with a group of like minded individuals so passionate about protecting the security and privacy of others.

This decision marks the conclusion of what I feel has been a matter of conscience for me over time. Privacy is sacred; our digital lives can reveal so much about us – our interests, our deepest thoughts, and even who we love. I am thrilled to be working with such an exceptional group of people who share a passion to protect that.

“A matter of conscience” is, I think, exactly how Tim Cook feels about this. Great hire for Apple.

Systems Smart Enough to Know When They’re Not Smart Enough 

Good piece by Josh Clark on the problems with “one true answer” search responses:

Speed is a competitive advantage, and time is considered the enemy in most interfaces. That’s reflected in our industry’s fascination with download and rendering speeds, though those metrics are merely offshoots of the underlying user imperative, help me get this job done quickly. “Performance isn’t the speed of the page,” says Gerry McGovern. “It’s the speed of the answer.”

But it has to be the right answer. While this approach works a treat for simple facts like weather, dates, or addresses, it starts to get hairy in more ambitious topics — particularly when those topics are contentious.

I agree with Clark: this is a design problem. It’s a design mistake if you display the wrong answer in a way that makes it look like it’s certainly correct. It’s not a design mistake if you display that same wrong answer in a way that makes it clear that the answer isn’t certain.

How to Block Auto-Play Videos in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox 

Kirk McElhearn:

Auto-play videos suck. They use bandwidth, and their annoying sounds get in the way when you’re listening to music and open a web page. I happen to write for a website that uses them, and it annoys me to no end. (My editors have no control over those auto-play videos, alas.)

But you can stop auto-play videos from playing on a Mac. If you use Chrome or Firefox, it’s pretty simple, and the plugins below work both on macOS and Windows; if you use Safari, it’s a bit more complex, but it’s not that hard.

Auto-play videos are so user-hostile that there ought to be a way to turn them off without needing an extension or hidden developer preference.

WSJ: ‘Intel in $15 Billion Deal for Self-Driving Tech Firm Mobileye’ 

Austen Hufford, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:

Intel Corp. on Monday said it struck a deal to buy Mobileye NV for about $15.3 billion, the latest investment by a technology company in the future of self-driving cars. […]

Mobileye makes chip-based camera systems that power semi-automated driving features that are already being used in cars, and is working to put that technology in the center of self-driving cars of the future.

Is there any major company in tech that is not investing heavily in self-driving cars?

‘ShatChat’ 

MG Siegler:

Unlike most of the internet, I don’t tend to be one of those people who hates new features when they roll out simply because they’re different. There are exceptions, of course. But for the most part, I try to keep an open mind and often like many new features and fully recognize that even if I do not, any fervor over such changes is likely to subside quickly in the ever-shifting quicksands of internet time.

Which is to say, I gave “Messenger Day” a few days. I still absolutely hate it.

Facebook seems bizarrely obsessed with Snapchat.

Alphabet’s Waymo Asks Judge to Block Uber From Using Self-Driving Car Secrets 

Read between the lines on this one and it looks like Uber is in some real trouble. They got caught red handed.

Squarespace Domains 

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. If you’re thinking of kicking off a new idea, a domain name is the perfect starting point. That’s why Squarespace Domains is changing how they’re managed and registered. With transparent pricing and free WHOIS privacy, you can relax knowing that even when you’re making moves, your renewal rate isn’t.

When it’s time to get your domain off the ground, you can easily connect it to a Squarespace website or online store. Try Squarespace for free today. When you decide to subscribe, use offer code DARING17 to save 10 percent.

How Blind People ‘See’ the iPhone With Their Fingers 

Great piece by David Pogue:

A few years ago, backstage at a conference, I spotted a blind woman using her phone. The phone was speaking everything her finger touched on the screen, allowing her to tear through her apps. My jaw hit the floor. After years of practice, she had cranked the voice’s speed so high, I couldn’t understand a word it was saying.

And here’s the kicker: She could do all of this with the screen turned off. Her phone’s battery lasted forever.

Ever since that day, I’ve been like a kid at a magic show. I’ve wanted to know how it’s done. I’ve wanted an inside look at how the blind could navigate a phone that’s basically a slab of featureless glass.

Tom Negrino Faces the End on His Own Terms 

Ray Holley:

One day next week, if all goes according to plan, Tom Negrino will swallow a dose of anti-nausea drugs. Shortly afterward, he will raise a glass filled with four ounces of liquid and drink. Ninety capsules of a barbiturate will be dissolved in that glass. Negrino will follow it up with a glass of good wine, say goodbye to his wife and fall asleep. Within an hour, he will be dead.

According to his wife, Dori Smith, Negrino has fought his body and his health for all his 60 years. He was born with spina bifida, a defect in the backbone and membranes that surround the spinal cord. “When he was born, in the 1950s, only one out of 10 people born with spina bifida lived and of those, only one out of 10 ever walked,” Smith said. “Tom was in the 1 percent who lived and walked.”

Indeed, Negrino walked with a bit of a sway, but he went everywhere vigorously and purposefully. He was the author of 48 books, focusing on Macintosh computers and software. He wrote on his website, “I’ve been writing about Macs, other computers and software since dinosaurs ruled the earth. OK, it’s actually been since 1987.”

Heartbreaking, yet inspiring. Tom and Dori are good people. My best thoughts and wishes are with them.

How Wiretaps Actually Work 

David Kris, former assistant attorney general of the United States, writing for The Washington Post:

Third, Trump is spending at a terrific rate the accumulated credibility capital of the office he occupies. There may come a day when he needs to speak seriously, and to be taken seriously, at home or abroad. On his present course and speed, that will be a hard day. If this were “House of Cards,” it would all be very entertaining. As it is, existing institutions, both domestic and international, are going to have to adapt to this new feature of our world.

“The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf” is a simple parable for children. If you keep spouting bullshit, eventually there will come a point when people will not believe you when you’re telling an urgent truth.

Trump Has Proven Himself Unfit 

Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, reporting for The New York Times on the fallout from Donald Trump’s completely unsubstantiated claim that Barack Obama had Trump’s “wires tapped” during the election:

So for Mr. Trump’s allies inside the West Wing and beyond, the tweetstorm spawned the mother of all messaging migraines. Over the past few days, they have executed what amounts to a strategic political retreat — trying to publicly validate Mr. Trump’s suspicions without overtly endorsing a claim some of them believe might have been generated by Breitbart News and other far-right outlets.

“No, that’s above my pay grade,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary and a feisty Trump loyalist, when asked on Tuesday at an on-camera briefing if he had seen any evidence to back up Mr. Trump’s accusation. The reporters kept at him, but Mr. Spicer pointedly and repeatedly refused to offer personal assurances that the president’s statements were true.

“No comment,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said earlier in the day. Last week, Mr. Sessions recused himself from any investigations involving the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.

“I don’t know anything about it,” John F. Kelly, the homeland security secretary, said on CNN on Monday. Mr. Kelly shrugged and added that “if the president of the United States said that, he’s got his reasons to say it.”

How’s this for a reason: Donald Trump is not mentally fit. He is unhinged from reality. Many of us have said this ever since the election began, and were dismissed as being blinded by partisanship. Now that he’s in office, Trump is proving it by his own words and deeds.

Mr. Trump, advisers said, was in high spirits after he fired off the posts. But by midafternoon, after returning from golf, he appeared to realize he had gone too far, although he still believed Mr. Obama had wiretapped him, according to two people in Mr. Trump’s orbit.

He sounded defiant in conversations at Mar-a-Lago with his friend Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media, Mr. Ruddy said. In other conversations that afternoon, the president sounded uncertain of the procedure for obtaining a warrant for secret wiretaps on an American citizen.

Mr. Trump also canvassed some aides and associates about whether an investigator, even one outside the government, could substantiate his charge.

The president of the United States doesn’t know how warrants for wiretaps work, and considered hiring a private investigator to “prove” a fever dream charge against his predecessor. This man is unfit for the job, and not mentally well. Those surrounding him who refuse to acknowledge this and remove him from office are doing a grave disservice to the nation and the world, simply for the sake of protecting their own power.

Errata Security: Some Comments on the WikiLeaks CIA Leak 

Robert Graham, Errata Security:

I thought I’d write up some notes about the Wikileaks CIA “#vault7” leak. This post will be updated frequently over the next 24 hours.

The CIA didn’t remotely hack a TV. The docs are clear that they can update the software running on the TV using a USB drive. There’s no evidence of them doing so remotely over the Internet. If you aren’t afraid of the CIA breaking in an installing a listening device, then you should’t be afraid of the CIA installing listening software.

The CIA didn’t defeat Signal/WhatsApp encryption. The CIA has some exploits for Android/iPhone. If they can get on your phone, then of course they can record audio and screenshots. Technically, this bypasses/defeats encryption — but such phrases used by Wikileaks are highly misleading, since nothing related to Signal/WhatsApp is happening. What’s happening is the CIA is bypassing/defeating the phone. Sometimes. If they’ve got an exploit for it, or can trick you into installing their software.

I don’t trust WikiLeaks at all. They’re effectively an arm of Russian intelligence as far as I’m concerned. WikiLeaks’s own announcement of this dump made it sound — to laypeople — that the CIA had the ability to intercept encrypted Signal and WhatsApp messages. They don’t. If you have a secure device, WhatsApp and Signal are secure. If your device has been compromised, no messaging service can be secure — everything on a compromised device is compromised.

Google’s ‘One True Answer’ Problem 

Danny Sullivan:

Obama’s planning a coup? Women are evil? Several presidents were in the KKK? Republicans are Nazis? Google can go spectacularly wrong with some of its direct answers.

Here we are again. Google’s in hot water because of what I call its “One True Answer” feature, where it especially highlights one search listing over all others as if that’s the very best answer. It’s a problem because sometimes these answers are terribly wrong.

This feature is just nowhere near ready for actual use.

Fifth Indiana Jones Movie Is Official and Slated for 2019 

Jacob Hall, writing for Slashfilm:

According to an official statement on the Walt Disney Company’s website, the untitled fifth Indiana Jones movie will arrive on July 19, 2019 and the whole gang is getting back together. Harrison Ford will return as Indy, Steven Spielberg will step behind the camera once more, and Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce.

“The whole gang”, you say? I could have sworn there was someone else. Can’t quite put my finger on the name.

Google’s Algorithm Is Lying to You About Onions 

Tom Scocca:

Not only does Google, the world’s preeminent index of information, tell its users that caramelizing onions takes “about 5 minutes” — it pulls that information from an article whose entire point was to tell people exactly the opposite. A block of text from the Times that I had published as a quote, to illustrate how it was a lie, had been extracted by the algorithm as the authoritative truth on the subject.

Just me, or is Google search starting to slip? They’ve got the right destination — the URL they’re pointing to is arguably the definitive article on how long it takes to caramelize onions, and at worst, it is indisputably a very good answer to the question. But by attempting to parse the article and provide the answer right there in an excerpt in the search results, Google’s algorithm chooses a passage that provides a completely wrong answer.

When Google search simply ranked articles, and happily sent you away to read them on their original website, they were nearly perfect. But the more they try to tell you the answer to your questions without leaving Google itself, the more they seem to providing embarrassingly bad answers.

Uber as a Black Mark on One’s Résumé 

Julia Carrie Wong, writing for The Guardian:

Now the fallout from Uber’s terrible month is having an impact on another group: the company’s own former and current employees.

“People are looking to get out because they’re just sick of working for that company,” said a former Uber employee, who asked not to be identified. “A lot of them have told me that they’re having a hard time finding something new.”

At job interviews, the employee said, recruiters seem wary of Uber’s “hustle-oriented” workplace. “They have to defend themselves and say: ‘Oh, I’m not an asshole.’”

The “asshole” reputation stems from Uber’s corporate values, former employees and others in the tech industry said. For many, company “values” are the kind of corporate speak that rarely interferes with one’s day-to-day work environment. But at Uber, the emphasis on hustling, toe-stepping and meritocracy took on a more sinister aspect in the workplace.

Anecdotal, but it makes sense. I’d be suspicious of a job applicant who thrived at Uber.

Apple’s Market Share in Enterprise Is Rising 

Jordan Kahn, writing for 9to5Mac on a new report from Jamf on Apple’s rising popularity in the enterprise:

For the increase in Mac and iOS adoption now at 91 and 99 percent, Jamf notes that 74% of organizations saw an increase in Mac adoption and 76% an increase in iPhone and iPad adoption in 2016 versus the year before. IBM has now almost reached its goal of deploying 100,000 Macs, the report confirms, making it the largest company Mac deployment. IBM, which uses Jamf software to manage its deployment, first announced the goal during the JAMF Nation User Conference (JNUC) last October. At the time, IBM said it was saving on average a minimum of $265 per Mac versus a comparable PC due the cost of device itself, OS, support, resale value and deployment.

So today in 2017, Apple is struggling in the education and creative pro markets, and thriving in the enterprise. Try telling that to a time-traveler from 20 years ago.

Apple’s Market Share in Education Is Falling 

Interesting but unsurprising report by Natasha Singer for The New York Times:

Over the last three years, Apple’s iPads and Mac notebooks — which accounted for about half of the mobile devices shipped to schools in the United States in 2013 — have steadily lost ground to Chromebooks, inexpensive laptops that run on Google’s Chrome operating system and are produced by Samsung, Acer and other computer makers.

Mobile devices that run on Apple’s iOS and MacOS operating systems have now reached a new low, falling to third place behind both Google-powered laptops and Microsoft Windows devices, according to a report released on Thursday by Futuresource Consulting, a research company.

Of the 12.6 million mobile devices shipped to primary and secondary schools in the United States in 2016, Chromebooks accounted for 58 percent of the market, up from 50 percent in 2015, according to the report. School shipments of iPads and Mac laptops fell to 19 percent, from about 25 percent, over the same period. Microsoft Windows laptops and tablets remained relatively stable at about 22 percent, Futuresource said.

If you look at The Times’s chart, you can see that in gross numbers, Apple’s education sales are down from their peak in 2013, but not drastically. Windows machines are up from their nadir in 2013, but not drastically. What’s drastic is the sharp rise in the sale of Chromebooks. Schools haven’t switched so much as they’ve increased the number of machines they’re buying, and most of those new machines are Chromebooks.

The shift toward Google-powered devices is hurting Apple’s revenue. Of the $7.35 billion that schools, colleges and universities spent on mobile and desktop computers in 2016, sales of Apple devices fell to $2.8 billion in 2016, from about $3.2 billion in 2015, according to IDC, a market research firm. Windows devices generated $2.5 billion in 2016, up from $2.1 billion in 2015, while Chrome devices reached $1.9 billion, up from $1.4 billion.

Apple still leads in revenue, but that’s because iPads and MacBooks are more expensive — and part of the reason for Chromebooks’ success in education is that the machines are so much cheaper. And it helps that Chromebooks are fundamentally designed as dumb terminals — any kid can grab any Chromebook and just sign in. Apple does offer solutions for iPads and MacOS, but fundamentally, iPads and Macs are designed as personal devices.

Twitterrific for Mac: Project Phoenix 

Kickstarter campaign from The Iconfactory to fund a modernized version of Twitterrific for Mac. They are this close to hitting their funding goal — let’s put them over the top. (And they’ve got some excellent stretch goals, like Direct Messaging support, so don’t let the fact that they’ll likely hit their initial funding goal before you read this stop you from backing them.)

The People’s Princess 

Heather Havrilesky, reviewing Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist:

One drawback to the deluge of unfettered praise that follows any unexpected celebrity death is that it can be difficult to separate our nostalgic fantasies from the human being onto whom we project them. After all, Princess Leia formed a whole generation’s notion of female power and sexuality. Adorable, Disney-worthy title aside, Leia was not just another cutie singing and flouncing around a space palace, nor was she your stereotypical, skin-deep “strong” female character, replete with smart-lady glasses and an AK-47. Rather, Fisher’s Leia served as a talisman of casual, post-patriarchal female arrogance. Even though her character was very young and mostly wore white, she wasn’t remotely virginal, her tone of voice was the auditory equivalent of an eye roll, and she never hesitated to inform Darth Vader that he was wretched and vile, and to tell his henchmen that they stank to high heaven.

David Letterman in Exile 

David Marchese has a terrific interview with David Letterman for New York Magazine:

Was it hard to adjust to civilian life?

It’s still hard. I have trouble operating the phone. That’s the God’s truth. I needed a pair of shoelaces. And I thought, Hell, where do you get shoelaces? And my friend said, there’s a place over off I-84, it’s the Designer Shoe Warehouse. So I go over there, and it’s a building the size of the Pentagon. It’s enormous. If you took somebody from — I don’t know, pick a country where they don’t have Designer Shoe Warehouses — blindfolded them and turned them loose in this place, they would just think, You people are insane. Who needs this many shoes? It’s sinful. It’s one of these places where there’s no employees and every now and then there’s just a scrum of shoe boxes. I’m not finding the damn shoelaces, and finally I think, Maybe it’s one of those items they’ve got at the counter. I go up there and I’m nosing around the counter and, by God, there’s shoelaces. This is after about an hour. So now I’m waiting in line and the woman checking people out says in a big loud voice, “May I help our next shoe lover, please?” I just started to tremble. Nobody else seems to have a problem with going to a store! You don’t want to have painted yourself into some elite position where it’s “Bob, go out and get me some shoelaces.” It makes you feel stupid. Here’s where I’m comfortable: There’s a bait-and-tackle store near my house. They’ve got guys in there, and you can buy live bait, you can buy artificial bait, they’ll put new line on your reel. You can talk to them about rods. They’ll tell you where to go for a largemouth bass. That’s exactly where I want to be.

His bits on Trumpy are so good.

We need Dave to come back.

Barack Obama Conspiracy Theories, Brought to You by Google Home 

This video is simply revolting.

Amazon Alexa says she doesn’t understand the question. Siri directs me to this article from ABC News, headlined “No, Former President Obama Isn’t Planning a Coup Against President Trump”.

Louis Vuitton ‘Eye-Trunk’ Cases for iPhone 7 

$5,050 for alligator skin, but a mere $1,180 for monogrammed canvas. For people who are probably going to get a new iPhone with a new shape in six months. Jiminy.

Buddybuild 

My thanks to Buddybuild for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Buddybuild is a continuous integration and delivery system for mobile developers.

Buddybuild is trusted by companies like Slack, Meetup, Firefox and thousands of others to reliably build, test, and deploy their mobile apps. It saves them from spending hundreds of hours writing and maintaining build scripts, debugging flaky test infrastructure, managing provisioning profiles, and manually deploying to the App Store.

I took a guided tour of Buddybuild and it really is amazing. The big difference is that most CI/CD tools were created with web development in mind, and mobile development was bolted on later. The problem with that is that mobile development, especially for iOS, is nothing like web development. Buddybuild was designed with iOS development in mind, and it shows. It lets development teams can focus on crafting great apps their users love.

See why thousands of teams love Buddybuild. Start your free 3 week trial today.

Today in the Kakistocracy 

Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt, reporting for The New York Times:

Without offering any evidence or providing the source of his information, Mr. Trump fired off a series of Twitter messages claiming that Mr. Obama “had my ‘wires tapped.’ ” He likened the supposed tapping to “Nixon/Watergate” and “McCarthyism.” […]

Read Trump’s tweets for yourself. They are not the words of a mentally well man.

Former officials pointed to longstanding laws and procedures intended to ensure that presidents cannot wiretap a rival for political purposes.

“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Mr. Obama. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”

But a senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working on Saturday to secure access to what the official described as a document issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing surveillance of Mr. Trump and his associates. The official offered no evidence to support the notion that such a document exists; any such move by a White House counsel would be viewed at the Justice Department as a stunning case of interference.

The New York Times is reporting that a senior White House official told them that the president’s chief counsel spent today attempting to interfere with a Justice Department investigation of the president’s own campaign. This is not the action of an administration with nothing to hide.

Uber’s Vice President of Product and Growth Ed Baker Has Resigned 

Trump administration: No organization can keep up with the pace at which we’re committing scandals.

Uber: Hold my beer.

How Uber Used Secret Greyball Tool to Deceive Authorities Worldwide 

Mike Isaac, reporting for The New York Times:

Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was being resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been outright banned.

The program, involving a tool called Greyball, uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials. Uber used these methods to evade the authorities in cities such as Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China, Italy and South Korea. […]

Greyball and the broader VTOS program were described to The New York Times by four current and former Uber employees, who also provided documents. The four spoke on the condition of anonymity because the tools and their use are confidential and because of fear of retaliation by the company.

It’s like a daily soap opera at this point.

How Poor Typographic Design Contributed to the Oscar Fiasco 

The first problem is that the PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant in charge of the cards was distracted tweeting photos from backstage, and handed Warren Beatty the wrong card. But this piece by Benjamin Bannister is right — the design of the cards themselves made it hard to tell at a glance that it was the wrong card.

Update: I forgot to mention that the design of the envelopes was even worse than that of the cards — small gold type on a deep red background, very hard to read.

Polygon Reviews the Nintendo Switch 

Polygon:

Compared to the Wii U on its merits, the Switch is a slam dunk. It takes the basic concept of the Wii U, of a tablet-based console, and fulfills the promise of it in a way Nintendo simply wasn’t capable of realizing in 2012. It’s launching with a piece of software that, more than anything in the Wii U’s first year, demonstrates its inherent capability of delivering what Nintendo says is one of the Switch’s primary missions: a big-budget, AAA game that exists across a handheld device and a television-connected portable. The hardware lives up to its name in how easily and smoothly it moves between those two worlds, in how dead simple it all is to make something pretty magical happen.

Amazon Reveals Cause of S3 Service Outage: a Typo 

Amazon:

The Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) team was debugging an issue causing the S3 billing system to progress more slowly than expected. At 9:37AM PST, an authorized S3 team member using an established playbook executed a command which was intended to remove a small number of servers for one of the S3 subsystems that is used by the S3 billing process. Unfortunately, one of the inputs to the command was entered incorrectly and a larger set of servers was removed than intended. The servers that were inadvertently removed supported two other S3 subsystems.

That’s one hell of a typo.

We are making several changes as a result of this operational event. While removal of capacity is a key operational practice, in this instance, the tool used allowed too much capacity to be removed too quickly. We have modified this tool to remove capacity more slowly and added safeguards to prevent capacity from being removed when it will take any subsystem below its minimum required capacity level. This will prevent an incorrect input from triggering a similar event in the future.

A lot of system administrator tools are written without the equivalent of guardrails. Think about how much collective damage has been done from mistakes using the rm command alone.

Samsung’s Leader Is Indicted on Bribery Charges 

Choe Sang-hun, reporting for The New York Times:

The head of Samsung, one of the world’s largest conglomerates, was indicted on bribery and embezzlement charges on Tuesday, becoming one of the most prominent business tycoons ever to face trial in South Korea.

The indictment of Lee Jae-yong, the company’s de facto leader, came at the end of a special prosecutor’s 90-day investigation of a corruption scandal that has already led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. When huge crowds took to the streets in recent months to demand that she leave office, they also called for the toppling of Mr. Lee and other corporate titans.

Mr. Lee was arrested on Feb. 17, a dramatic development in South Korea’s struggle to end collusive ties between the government and the family-controlled conglomerates, or chaebol, that dominate the economy.

Twitter Now Lets You Auto-Mute Eggs and Other Sketchy Accounts 

Napier Lopez, reporting for The Next Web:

In that vein, you’ll now have the option to filter out posts from accounts without a profile picture (the ones with the default “egg” photo), as well as unverified emails or phone numbers. It’s a feature that’s been requested for some time, as it’s previously been easy for trolls to leverage new or unused accounts to harass people.

I suggested just this back in December.

Rob Cox’s Brutal Assessment of Snap’s IPO 

Rob Cox, writing for Reuters:

Investors have effectively just done what no self-respecting person ever should: wear sweatpants in public. With Snap’s $3.4 billion initial public offering they have simply given up giving a damn. They handed their money over to an immature company and in the process abrogated their rights to fair treatment, good governance and reasonable valuations. If the $24 billion self-styled “camera company” run by a 26-year-old fails to achieve its ambitions, shareholders have only their capitulated selves to blame.

Snap founder Evan Spiegel’s disappearing-message application has many things going for it. One of these attributes — its virtual inaccessibility by anyone over the age of 30 — may have helped its IPO. Few seasoned portfolio managers wagering on the maker of rainbow-vomit photo filters will have properly vetted the product, though they will have perhaps gauged its popularity by monitoring their children’s mobile-data usage.

Tell us what you really think.

Ming-Chi Kuo Says All 2017 iPhones Will Have Lightning Connectors 

Ming-Chi Kuo:

New 2H17 models may all support fast charging. We believe all three new iPhones launching in 2H17 will support fast charging by the adoption of Type-C Power Delivery technology (while still retaining the Lightning port). A key technical challenge lies with ensuring product safety and stable data transmission during a fast charge. In order to achieve that goal, we think Apple will adopt TI’s power management and Cypress’s Power Delivery chip solutions for the new iPhone models. We note the OLED version may have a faster charging speed thanks to a 2-cell L shaped battery pack design.

As noted by MacRumors, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro already offers USB 3.0 speed and fast charging via a USB-C-to-Lightning cable. It looks like The Wall Street Journal botched their story Tuesday.

YouTube TV: $35/Month ‘Skinny Bundle’ of TV Networks to Launch in Spring 

Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:

Like other new digital TV services, YouTube TV won’t offer every network that cable TV services provide; instead it will feature a “skinny bundle,” composed of the four broadcast networks — Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC — along with some of the cable channels related to the broadcasters. Which means you’ll also get networks like Fox News, ESPN and Bravo; YouTube execs says the base package will include about three dozen channels.

Sports are still a problem:

Also be aware that all of the digital TV services still have gaps in their coverage, usually around pro football: Deals — or lack of them — with local affiliates may affect your ability to watch your local NFL team play next fall. And none of the streaming TV services will let you watch football on your phone, because those rights, for now, are exclusive to Verizon.

YouTube TV’s pricing will make it hard/impossible for YouTube to turn a profit, given the carriage fees it has to shell out for the four big networks, but YouTube doesn’t seem concerned about that: Right now it wants to work on turning some of its billion-plus users into paying subscribers.

Seems crazy that Google, a company famous for providing its services free of charge, would have a paid bundle of video content before Apple does.

Uber Has Hired a Law Firm to Investigate Susan Fowler Rigetti 

Susan Fowler:

Uber names/blames me for account deletes, and has a different law firm — not Holders — investigating me. I have hired bakerlp.com

Last week she wrote:

Research for the smear campaign has begun. If you are contacted by anyone asking for personal and intimate info about me, please report asap.

I don’t know who is doing this or why. If someone contacts you, please send me their contact information immediately.

The message to other women at Uber is clear: stay silent or we will come after you. Uber claimed last week that it was “in no way involved” with these phone calls investigating Fowler Rigetti’s personal life.

Update: Uber has issued a statement:

“The law firm Perkins Coie is looking into the specific allegations raised by Susan,” Uber said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “They will report into Eric Holder, who is responsible for the overall investigation into Uber’s workplace practices. To be clear: they are investigating Susan’s claims, not Susan personally.”

Snapchat Shakedown 

Anthony Smith, reporting for Mic:

Snapchat told a gun safety charity it might run NRA ads on the charity’s anti-gun violence awareness campaign — which would have featured videos starring families who lost their loved ones to firearms — if the charity didn’t pay Snapchat for advertising, emails provided to Mic by a source close to the exchange show. […]

“I just learned our News Team is doing a Live Story on National Gun Violence Awareness Day,” Saliterman’s message began. “I would urgently like to speak with you about advertising opportunities within the story, as there will be three ad slots. We are also talking to the NRA about running ads within the story.”

In other words, if the nonprofit partnered with Snapchat’s editorial department instead of paying the six-figure fee to promote its event through Snapchat’s advertising department, it ran the risk of having its gun safety message countered by the NRA, which strongly opposes the reform Everytown promotes.

Creepy.

Google Throws in the Towel on Pixel Notebooks 

Frederic Lardinois, writing for TechCrunch:

When asked if Google had plans to produce any more Pixel laptops, Osterloh said that the company had “no plans to do one right now.” He added that the versions that are already out in the market have totally sold out and that there are no plans to make any more of those, either. Indeed, if you go to the Google Store today, you won’t find any Pixel laptops for sale, though there are plenty of third-party Chromebooks available there.

The company is not, of course, talking about Chrome OS. “Chrome OS is a huge initiative in the company,” Osterloh said. “Google hasn’t backed away from laptops. We have the number two market share in the U.S. and U.K. — but we have no plans for Google-branded laptops.”

ChromeOS is popular, but it’s popular on piece-of-junk hardware. The idea of a premium computer running ChromeOS was appealing to like a dozen people.

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