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Linked List: June 2020

The Talk Show: ‘It Shouldn’t Be Hard to Get a Smoothie’ 

Dan Frommer returns to the show for more analysis of WWDC 2020, including App Clips and the Mac’s transition to Apple silicon.

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Safari 14 Does Not Block Google Analytics 

Simo Ahava:

When Safari says it blocks or prevents a tracker, what it means is that the ITP algorithm has flagged some domain as having cross-site tracking capabilities, and Safari has, among other things, stripped it of its capabilities to carry cookies in cross-site requests, also known as third-party cookies.

This is what Safari means when it’s prevented a known tracker in google-analytics.com. That domain has been flagged as a cross-site tracking domain, and Safari assigns certain protective measures to any communications to and from that domain (you can read more about them here).

Apple’s current UI description for this feature sure makes it sound like Google Analytics is being blocked.

Always Clarifying Advice: Take Pride in Your Work 

Nilay Patel, on Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s decision to boot racist jerk subreddits:

It’s so easy to get lost in the technical lawyer nonsense of 230 and free speech and on and on, but sometimes the answer is as simple as people looking at the thing they’ve made and deciding they would like to be more proud of it than they are.

That’s a clarifying way to look at these decisions. Simple question: is Jack Dorsey proud that Trump used Twitter to promote a video of an old white guy shouting “White power!” at Black Lives Matter protestors? Is anyone at Twitter proud of this? If you’re ashamed of it, why allow it?

2020 Apple Design Awards Include Zero Mac Apps, But at Least the Award Graphic Looks Awful 

Such a great year for the Mac at WWDC, but not one ADA winner. But yet the ADAs are currently the top feature story in the Mac App Store app. And just look at the virtual ADA award in that promo graphic — who made that? It just seems bizarre that the ADAs — awards for those who pay obsessive attention to the smallest of details — are being promoted using a graphic seemingly made by someone who doesn’t understand 3D perspective.

Perhaps the ADA graphic was made by the same team that did this slide from keynote and completely phoned in the work for the icons in MacOS Big Sur?

Woodrow Wilson Was a Racist Shitbag 

Colin Woodard, writing at TPM Cafe:

“Division and Reunion” was met with mixed reviews, but was a commercial success, as it embraced an account that let white Americans put the Civil War and civil rights behind them. And it inspired Wilson to write “A History of the American People,” a poorly written and shoddily researched five-volume, illustrated tome published in 1902. (“A disappointment after the pleasure of examining the pictures is past,” a leading journal wrote of it.) It furthered the white supremacist arguments in “Division and Reunion,” calling freed slaves “dupes” and the KKK a group formed “for the mere pleasure of association [and] private amusement” whose members accidentally discovered they could create “comic fear” in the Blacks they descended on. Immigrants were a problem because they were no longer “of the sturdy stocks of the North of Europe” but contained “multitudes of men of the lowest classes from the South of Italy and men of the meaner sort out of Hungary and Poland” and Chinese people, “with their yellow skin and strange, debasing habits of life,” who seemed “hardly fellow men at all, but evil spirits” and who provoked understandable mass killings by white mobs.

Josh Marshall:

Wilson was a thoroughgoing racist even by the standards of his own day. His attitude toward African-Americans and their political rights don’t just look bad from the perspective of the day. They were widely considered retrograde even in his own day.

It’s absolutely flabbergasting to compare these basic facts to what I learned about Woodrow Wilson in high school, which was more or less just the facts of World War I and that Wilson’s spearheading of the League of Nations was noble.

Marques Brownlee Interviews Craig Federighi 

Loved this interview. So good, including the long-pondered question of why iPad doesn’t have a built-in Calculator or Weather app.

Nieman Journalism Lab on The New York Times Pulling Out of Apple News 

Ken Doctor of Nieman Journalism Lab, interviewing NYT COO Meredith Levien:

In short, the Times audience machine is proving more able to move towards its goal — 10 million subscribers in 2025 — on its own.

“This has been a moment where something like 250 million — somewhere between 250 and 300 million people — used The New York Times at the height of the COVID crisis,” Levien said. “When something like 6 in 10 American adults used The New York Times in March. And that’s a bigger opportunity than we’ve had before to drive relationships with people.”

This whole piece is a really interesting and comprehensive look at this decision.

The New York Times Pulls Out of Apple News 

Kellen Browning and Jack Nicas, reporting for The New York Times:

The Times is one of the first media organizations to pull out of Apple News. The Times, which has made adding new subscribers a key business goal, said Apple had given it little in the way of direct relationships with readers and little control over the business. It said it hoped to instead drive readers directly to its own website and mobile app so that it could “fund quality journalism.”

The Times mobile app is pretty bad in a bunch of ways. I keep giving it a try and keep running back to reading the Times on the web. That’s neither here nor there, perhaps — I don’t think the Apple News app is all that good either.

“Core to a healthy model between The Times and the platforms is a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules,” Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer, wrote in a memo to employees. “Our relationship with Apple News does not fit within these parameters.”

An Apple spokesman said that The Times “only offered Apple News a few stories a day,” and that the company would continue to provide readers with trusted information from thousands of publishers.

The Times never really embraced Apple News. And it’s worth pointing out that this has nothing to do with Apple News+ — Apple’s subscription offering. The Times was never part of News+ and what they’re doing now is pulling out of the free part of Apple News. Times articles will no longer be in Apple News at all.

I think it’s fair to say that the Times’s approach to Apple News is a lot like Netflix’s approach to Apple TV — neither wants to be a small part of a larger bundled subscription offering or even a bundled user interface. And they might both be right — both are in rarefied positions to serve as bundled offerings in and of themselves.

Reddit Bans ‘The_Donald’ Subreddit 

Mike Isaac, reporting for The New York Times:

Reddit, one of the largest social networking and message board websites, on Monday banned its biggest community devoted to President Trump as part of an overhaul of its hate speech policies.

The community or “subreddit,” called “The_Donald,” is home to more than 790,000 users who post memes, viral videos and supportive messages about Mr. Trump. Reddit executives said the group, which has been highly influential in cultivating and stoking Mr. Trump’s online base, had consistently broken its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech.

“Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people,” Steve Huffman, the company’s chief executive, said in a call with reporters. “‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that.”

It’s a race to get out of Dodge as the whole world gets its footing back on the rightful notion that bigotry is shameful and must be shunned.

Atoms Everyday Face Mask 

My thanks to Atoms for sponsoring this week at DF. Atoms stands for quality, and the Atoms Everyday Mask is made with premium materials, combining innovation and comfort with the antimicrobial properties of copper, making it one of the most effective masks on the market. Available in a variety of colors, it’s breathable, washable, and reusable. Plus, Atoms donates a mask to a charity with each purchase.

Like a lot of you, I went from owning no face masks to owning a bunch. My favorite, by far, is my Atoms mask. Comfort, fit, materials — everything. I hadn’t realized this but apparently I have a big face — being able to order my Atoms mask in a size large makes a huge difference in fit. It really is my everyday mask.

You may recall Atoms from their previous appearances here at Daring Fireball to promote their ultra comfortable Atoms Everyday Sneaker. They’re available in quarter sizes — including the ability to order your left and right shoes in different sizes — to get a truly precise fit. They’re super lightweight, super comfortable, and very durable. I’ve got a pair that’s over a year old and they still look great. You can’t see them on camera, but I was wearing them last week when I recorded The Talk Show Remote From WWDC 2020 — comfortable shoes are a must.

Milton Glaser, Designer of ‘I ♥︎ NY’ Logo, Dies at 91 

“But I’m flabbergasted by what happened to this little, simple, nothing of an idea. It just demonstrates that every once in a while you do something that can have enormous consequences… it was a bunch of little scratches on a piece of paper!”

How to Remove YouTube Tracking 

Dries Buytaert:

After some research, I discovered that YouTube offers a privacy-enhanced way of embedding videos. Instead of linking to youtube.com, link to youtube-nocookie.com, and no data-collecting HTTP cookie will be sent. This is Google’s way of providing GDPR-compliant YouTube videos.

Now that Safari is including tracker counts and blocking ad trackers by default, I ran into this when I embedded the video for The Talk Show Remote From WWDC 2020 this week — it doubled the number of “trackers” Safari flagged on DF from 1 to 2. No more.

(The remaining tracker is Google Analytics, which I’ve been meaning to replace for a while. On it.)

The Talk Show: ‘Patina of Usefulness’ 

Special guest Matthew Panzarino joins the show to talk about WWDC 2020.

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‘Repetitive, Spammy Behavior’ Indeed 

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

A new feature in iOS 14 alerts users when apps read the clipboard, and it turns out some apps have been reading clipboard data excessively. TikTok users who upgraded to iOS 14, for example, quickly noticed constant alerts warning them that TikTok was accessing the clipboard every few seconds. After being caught, TikTok now says that it’s removing the feature.

In a statement to The Telegraph, TikTok said that it accessed the clipboard to identify spammy behavior.

“Following the beta release of iOS 14 on June 22, users saw notifications while using a number of popular apps.

“For TikTok, this was triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior. We have already submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion.

[…] TikTok did not say whether the feature would be removed from Android devices, nor whether clipboard data was ever stored or moved from user devices.

TikTok, I probably don’t need to remind you, is a Chinese company whose popularity algorithm is a black box. If you use TikTok you should assume they’ve stored a copy of anything and everything you’ve had on your clipboard while using the app. Their slogan might as well be “Chinese state-sanctioned social media” — which to me says don’t use them, but maybe that’s just me.

I mean, their explanation makes no sense at all. How is it an anti-spam feature to look at the clipboard contents of every single person using their app every three seconds? That’s like finding out that when you visit a certain store, they’ve been X-raying your pockets and bags every few seconds, without consent or warning, and when confronted, they say “Oh yeah, we were just looking for shoplifters.” Like that’s even vaguely acceptable.

Microsoft to Close Most of Its Retail Stores 

John Moltz:

I do enjoy their PR headline: “Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail.” The new approach: not doing retail.

On iOS 14 Picking Up Features Android Had First 

Raymond Wong, writing for Input:

There used to be a time and place for pointing fingers and bashing one company for blatantly copying another’s ideas. But now it feels juvenile. Who really cares? “Good artists copy, great artists steal” as the saying goes. Everyone borrows. Everything is inspired by something before it.

iOS 14 may not be a complete overhaul with a system-wide-UI upgrade à la iOS 7, but that’s okay because the sum of everything new in iOS 14 is so robust that there are virtually no meaningful reasons to pine for Android’s green pastures.

The headline for Wong’s piece is clickbait-y (“After iOS 14, There’s Almost No Reason to Buy an Android Phone Anymore”) but the actual article is thoughtful. Above and beyond any specific features — home screen widgets, app clips, built-in language translation — it occurs to me that there’s simply an enthusiasm gap.

Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can.

Apple, institutionally, is as attentive to the iPhone and iOS as it has ever been. I think Google, institutionally, is bored with Android.

Apple Approves Hey Update for App Store 

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Apple has definitively approved HEY in the App Store!! No IAP, no 30% cut, but we’ve opened the door to a free temp address service, and use same app for work accounts. I’m so incredibly relieved! And now HEY is open to EVERYONE! No invite code needed.

Glad to hear it.

My quick take on Hey, a few weeks into using it: it’s really great, especially on the phone. I feel super efficient in every single aspect of using it on the phone — triage, reading, responding. Adrian Holovaty nails it:

hey.com is the most exciting app I’ve used in years. A complete rethinking of email, full of bold, brilliant ideas. Highly recommended. Not only for the product itself, but because its boldness will inspire you to question your assumptions and think differently.

Mike Davidson:

If you designed email from scratch such that it vigorously protected your privacy and your time, this is what it would look like.

Facebook Creates Fact-Checking Exemption for Climate Deniers 

Judd Legum, writing at Popular Information:

Facebook is “aiding and abetting the spread of climate misinformation,” said Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist at Drexel University. “They have become the vehicle for climate misinformation, and thus should be held partially responsible for a lack of action on climate change.”

Brulle was reacting to Facebook’s recent decision, made at the request of climate science deniers, to create a giant loophole in its fact-checking program. Last year, Facebook partnered with an organization, Science Feedback, that would bring in teams of Ph.D. climate scientists to evaluate the accuracy of viral content. It was an important expansion of the company’s third-party fact-checking program.

But now Facebook has reportedly decided to allow its staffers to overrule the climate scientists and make any climate disinformation ineligible for fact-checking by deeming it “opinion.”

Facebook can’t have it both ways. They can be a haven for right-wing disinformation or they can be a part of civil society. Zuckerberg seemingly thinks they can have it both ways, but it can’t hold.

Dieter Bohn on What’s New in iOS 14 

Good overview of how you use and set up home screen widgets, app clips, the new App Library, and more. I think his conclusion is spot-on: by definition these features make the iPhone home screen more complicated, but there’s no downside to this added complexity because they’re all optional. Typical users don’t need to be aware of any of them. They’re traditional “power user” features that reward exploration.

The Dalrymple Report: WWDC 2020 With Yours Truly 

Jim Dalrymple:

John and I get together every year for a special podcast during WWDC to talk about the announcements. Despite the distance between us, this year was no different.

Bit different this year, but fun as always.

Olympus to Exit Camera Business After 84 Years 

Kosaku Narioka, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

Olympus Corp. is getting out of the camera business after 84 years to focus on medical devices. […]

Olympus was a global consumer brand for decades thanks to its cameras, hiring the likes of supermodel Cheryl Tiegs to promote its products on television. It shifted readily to digital cameras in the 1990s and was No. 2 in market share behind Sony Corp. early this century.

As recently as 2007, the dawn of the smartphone era, digital cameras were a $3-billion-a-year business for Olympus. Within a few years, however, most of the market evaporated because people were using their phones to take pictures. Camera revenue shrank to just over $400 million in the year ended March 31, and the business has lost money for the past three fiscal years.

The times they are a-changing.

MLB Announces 2020 Regular Season 

MLB:

MLB has submitted a 60-game regular-season schedule for review by the Players Association. In order to mitigate travel, the schedule would include 10 games for each team against its four divisional opponents, along with 20 games against the opposite league’s corresponding geographical division (for example, the AL East will play the NL East, and so on). […]

The designated-hitter rule will be used in both leagues in 2020, part of the league’s health and safety protocols for this season.

Everything about the rebooting of pro sports is — necessarily! — weird. But the DH in National League games is going to be the weirdest of all. I don’t see an answer for what this means for the postseason, but I suspect the DH will be used in all postseason games too. We might never see another MLB game without the DH.

Coming Tomorrow: The Talk Show Remote From WWDC 2020 

I don’t often post to the DF YouTube channel — but when I do, it’s usually good. Or it’s just something silly. But tomorrow it’s going to be good.

Apple: What’s New in Developer Technologies 

Apple Newsroom:

SwiftUI introduced developers to a modern UI framework that made it more intuitive than ever to build sophisticated app UIs. This year, new life cycle APIs let developers write an entire app in SwiftUI, and share that code across all Apple platforms. Developers who have already started with SwiftUI will easily be able to add new features to their existing code, and a new Lazy API ensures enormous data sets will offer great performance.

I still can’t quite put my finger on where SwiftUI fits in the grand scheme of things alongside Catalyst, but this is a big year-over-year step forward. And I just could not resist quoting the bit with “Lazy API”. (See Larry Wall’s “three great virtues of a programmer”.)

Additionally, two changes are coming to the app review process and will be implemented this summer. First, developers will not only be able to appeal decisions about whether an app violates a given guideline of the App Store Review Guidelines, but will also have a mechanism to challenge the guideline itself. Second, for apps that are already on the App Store, bug fixes will no longer be delayed over guideline violations except for those related to legal issues. Developers will instead be able to address the issue in their next submission.

Both of these changes sound great. The second one means bug fix updates (which are often security updates) won’t be held up by Apple while a broader dispute over App Store compliance is being resolved or negotiated. The first sounds like an even bigger concession on Apple’s part, but let’s see how it works in practice. If this is more than just lip service, wow, that’s huge.

Senate Republicans Propose Law to Outlaw End-to-End Encryption 

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee press release:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) today introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, a bill to bolster national security interests and better protect communities across the country by ending the use of “warrant-proof” encrypted technology by terrorists and other bad actors to conceal illicit behavior.

This is breathtaking. At least they’re being somewhat clear here: they’re proposing outlawing all end-to-end encryption. Encryption that is “warrant-proof” is everything-proof — there are no decryption keys in the middle. Encryption that can be undone at the behest of a lawful warrant can also be undone by anyone with access to the keys.

At the risk of oversimplifying things, it’s worth pointing out that you can’t just “add a backdoor” to a proper end-to-end encryption scheme. It’s the nature of the design not just that there are no backdoors but that there can be no backdoors. You can prove it, cryptographically, which is how you can trust it.

The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act is a balanced solution that keeps in mind the constitutional rights afforded to all Americans, […]

Nope.

while providing law enforcement the tools needed to protect the public from everyday violent crime and threats to our national security.

Read the room, Republicans.

The bill would require service providers and device manufacturers to provide assistance to law enforcement when access to encrypted devices or data is necessary — but only after a court issues a warrant, based on probable cause that a crime has occurred, authorizing law enforcement to search and seize the data.

That’s how the law works today. What these fools are proposing is to make it illegal to build systems where even the company providing the service doesn’t hold the keys.

The best hope for this legislation is that it’s mere posturing by Republicans.

WWDC 2020: The Little Stuff You Might Have Missed 

Dan Moren, writing at Six Colors:

Apple effectively killed 3D Touch last year by replacing it with the haptic touch feature in the iPhone 11 line, but it looks like its old-friend/the-same-exact-feature-with-a-different-name Force Touch is not long for the world either. MacRumors reports that watchOS 7 is shifting developers away from using the Force Touch interaction, in favor of exposing those features in other ways.

Gotta say, I’m not broken up about that. Force Touch was clever, but too often it concealed features that were not easily discoverable.

I agree. It’s a very clever idea, and on the Watch in particular it makes for an effective use of severely limited screen real estate. But for most users, if they can’t see it, it might as well not be there. I think most Apple Watch users are completely unaware of any of the features exposed by Force Touch.

Monday at WWDC in Under Two Minutes 

Killer “day one in a nut” of the major news from yesterday — from our old friend Serenity Caldwell. Works well both as a high-level summary for anyone who missed the keynote, and as a refresher for those of us who did watch but lost track of everything new.

As a side note, I love that Serenity gets credit for this video, as well as the fact that everyone in yesterday’s keynote got on-screen credit by name. A subtle but very welcome change.

Apple Announces Mac Transition to ‘Apple Silicon’ 

Apple Newsroom:

The DTK, which must be returned to Apple at the end of the program, consists of a Mac mini with Apple’s A12Z Bionic SoC inside and desktop specs, including 16GB of memory, a 512GB SSD, and a variety of Mac I/O ports. Developers can apply to the program at developer.apple.com, and the total cost of the program is $500.

$500 rental — great deal, really.

Interesting but not surprising that Apple (a) never once mentions “ARM” by name, and (b) hasn’t revealed the name of their custom Mac chips yet. They’re just saying “Apple Silicon” as a placeholder for a name to be revealed when they begin unveiling actual consumer hardware.

iOS 14 Will Let You Change Your Default Email and Web Browser Apps 

This is a big feature to just get a mention on an overview slide — certainly one that a lot of people have been waiting for.

Nilay Patel’s Summary of the Apple/Hey Drama 

Nilay Patel:

This, I swear to you, is the short version.

Just from a dramatic sense, this whole thing has been fun to watch.

Apple, Hey, and the Path Forward 

Jason Fried:

Late Friday night, on June 19th, Apple’s App Store Review Board surprised us by approving the pending bug fixes to the HEY iOS app that were held up all last week.

Fascinating resolution — or at least abatement — of some pre-keynote drama. Also, a really clever idea for a free feature to make the app useful out of the box.

We care as much about the user experience as Apple, and this is a good compromise. Apple’s iOS customers can sign up for a new free version of HEY, and we can continue to take the same exceptional care of all our customers, regardless of platform. Plus, iOS customers get access to a popular new email service with all the bug fixes and new features we’ve committed to pursue, without having to pay higher prices than customers on other platforms.

Also a fascinating lesson in how you can argue, vigorously, for your own interests and what you believe to be right and just, without burning bridges.

Tallymander by Danilo Campos 

My thanks to Danilo Campos for sponsoring last week at Daring Fireball to promote Tallymander, his nifty new iOS app. Tallymander is a tool for gathering and analyzing numerical data. Says Campos, “Spreadsheets never quite hit the spot for me in a mobile context, so this is an attempt to reimagine them for your pocket.”

That’s a perfect elevator pitch, but Tallymander is not a pocket-size spreadsheet. The concept is more big picture than that, more imaginative. It’s more like thinking about the sort of things you create spreadsheets for, traditionally, and then imagining what a good UI for that sort of thing would be in a mobile context. It’s deceptively simple but really quite ambitious when you play with it. Instead of mainly dealing with numbers in a grid Tallymander is about exposing touch-based controls for incrementing and decrementing counts. You can even set a field to use shaking the device to adjust the count. Free to download — just check it out, trust me.

In addition to launching Tallymander, Campos is available on a freelance basis for product planning, interaction design, and iOS/Mac software development. He built Tallymander with SwiftUI, and knows his way around Objective-C, Swift, AppKit, and UIKit. I’d hire him.

John Dickerson Interviews Tim Cook on CBS Sunday Morning 

I usually come away disappointed by mainstream TV news interviews with Tim Cook. Not so with this one. Dickerson gets it — he truly sees the biggest issues facing Apple right now and asks Cook the right questions. Really interesting comments by Cook on the nature of uncertainty at the end, too.

Siracusa on the App Store: ‘Apple Needs to Decide if It Wants to Be “Right” or if It Wants to Be Happy’ 

John Siracusa:

But throughout all these changes, Apple has never given up on its dream of an App Store filled with great apps that make everyone happy and make lots of money for both Apple and developers.

Today, Apple’s stance seems to be that if they just hold the line on a few key provisions of the App Store rules, companies will build their business models around Apple’s revenue cut in the same way companies built their business models around the costs of brick-and-mortar retail in the pre-Internet days. Apple seems to firmly believe that its ambitious goal state can be achieved with something close to the current set of App Store rules.

This belief is not supported by the evidence. Years of history has shown that Apple is getting further away from its goal, not closer.

Agreed. It feels like Apple is fighting for its own long-ago-established vision for how the App Store ought to be, rather than making sweeping changes to account for how it actually is. They can do this because they have such tremendous power, but why? Why fight it? Is Apple really happy about this whole state of affairs?

See also: This explication of the reference to rather being happy than right.

‘Just Because They’ve Turned Against Humanity Doesn’t Mean We Should Defund the Terminator Program’ 

Carlos Greaves, writing for McSweeney’s:

This initiative, also known as Skynet, was created by Cyberdyne Systems for the Department of Defense as a way to keep Americans safe. Critics have said that spending half of our country’s GDP on developing an army of state-of-the-art cyborgs with advanced weapons systems and an AI specifically trained to neutralize threats was a bad idea. And while the recent killings might seem to confirm that, we feel that, despite a few stumbles here and there, this program has still been an overwhelming success.

Don’t get me wrong, we all remember Judgement Day, when the Skynet gained self-awareness and initiated a nuclear holocaust, killing millions. That was a terrible moment in our nation’s history. And the human uprising led by John Connor was definitely justified even though we felt like some of the violence and destruction of Skynet property was a bit unnecessary. But it’s important to remember that Judgement Day was initiated by a few rogue Terminators, and isn’t indicative of a widespread problem with Skynet.

HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ Series Is Free to Watch This Weekend for Juneteenth 

Susana Polo, writing for Polygon:

All nine episodes of HBO’s conversation-defining Watchmen television series, a spiritual sequel to the influential Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons comic, will be available free this weekend.

HBO will make the series available for non-subscribers to stream on HBO.com, as well as through Free on Demand services, starting Friday June 19, through Sunday June 21. The company’s press release stated that the move was “an extension of the network’s content offering highlighting Black experiences, voices and storytellers. […] HBO is proud to offer all nine episodes for free of this timely, poignant series that explores the legacy of systemic racism in America.”

I watched Watchmen as it came out, and really enjoyed it. Nice move by HBO making it free for everyone this weekend. (Via Shawn King.)

‘Juneteenth and the Meaning of Freedom’ 

Remarkable essay by Jelani Cobb for The New Yorker:

The fact that slaveholders extracted thirty additional months of uncompensated labor from people who had been bought, sold, and worked to exhaustion, like livestock, throughout their lives is cause for mourning, not celebration. In honoring that moment, we should recognize a moral at the heart of that day in Galveston and in the entirety of American life: there is a vast chasm between the concept of freedom inscribed on paper and the reality of freedom in our lives.

In that regard, Juneteenth exists as a counterpoint to the Fourth of July; the latter heralds the arrival of American ideals, the former stresses just how hard it has been to live up to them.

D.O.J. Attempts to Oust U.S. Attorney Who Investigated Trump Associates, With No Notice, Late on a Friday 

Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum, reporting for The New York Times at 10:30pm on a Friday evening:

The Justice Department abruptly announced on Friday that it had replaced the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, the powerful federal prosecutor whose office sent President Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to prison and who has been investigating Mr. Trump’s current personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The announcement that Mr. Berman would be replaced was made with no notice by Attorney General William P. Barr, who said the president intended to nominate as Mr. Berman’s successor Jay Clayton, current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ben Rhodes:

We are so many miles further down to road to authoritarianism than our political and media culture can process.

Update: This all came as a surprise to Berman himself, who says he’s not resigning and isn’t going away:

I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney. I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position.

I’d make popcorn if this wasn’t so terrifying.

Regarding My Theory That, Masks or Not, No One Wants to Go to the Cinema 

Screen Daily on New Zealand box office results:

Total cinema box office revenue for the week was NZ$553,347 ($356,000), a 60% increase on the previous week. However this represents just 17% of takings over the equivalent week in 2019, when the gross box office was NZ$3.3m ($2.1m).

Cinemas in New Zealand were cleared to reopen on May 14, with restrictions in place, but the government celebrated being free of coronavirus on June 8 and has lifted all lockdown measures on daily life, leaving only strict border controls in place. Since then, no new cases have been reported.

Via MaryAnn Johanson:

So, cinemas in New Zealand are open again at full capacity, and the country is basically COVID-19 free, so people should be confident that it’s safe to go to the movies… and almost no one is going. This does not bode well for virus-ridden US/UK.

Update: So I think the point here is multifold. First, the U.S. has to get COVID-19 transmission under control. We’ve done almost the opposite. But I think what New Zealand is showing is that even after a country can truly open up, when a country can literally say they’re COVID-free with a straight face, people who’ve been cooped up and isolated don’t want to go sit in a theater for hours. They want to go see family and friends. They want to be part of the world, not get away from the world for a few hours.

Chicago’s Wiener Circle 

They’re here for us.

Kara Swisher: ‘Is It Finally Hammer Time for Apple and Its App Store?’ 

Kara Swisher’s New York Times column on Apple’s rejection of Basecamp’s Hey app from the App Store is an outstanding overview of the whole dispute — accurate and fair. One central point that jumped out to me:

Yet Apple has also changed rules in ways that many developers find capricious and unfair and, more to the point, scary. While complaints have been raised for a long time about what Ben Thompson of Stratechery calls Apple’s “rent-seeking” practices, many developers do not want to speak out for fear of falling afoul of Apple and, worse, getting banned from its store.

But not Basecamp’s iconoclastic and outspoken founders, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, who took to Twitter and other media to complain loudly after the Hey.com app had been accepted by Apple and then flagged for being in violation of its rules last week. In practice, that means Hey.com cannot make crucial bug updates.

To say that “many developers do not want to speak out for fear of falling afoul of Apple” is an understatement. Almost none do. And one thing I’ve learned this week — mostly via private communication, because, again, they fear speaking out publicly — is that there are a lot of them. Without touching upon the question of who’s right and who’s wrong in the specific case of Basecamp’s Hey app, or the broader questions of what, if anything, ought to change in Apple’s App Store policies, an undeniable and important undercurrent to this story is that the business model policies of the App Store have resulted in a tremendous amount of resentment. This spans the entire gamut from one-person indies all the way up to the handful of large corporations that can be considered Apple’s peers or near-peers.

This resentment runs deep and is stunningly widespread. You have to trust me on the number of stories I’ve been told in confidence, just this week. Again, putting aside everything else — legal questions of antitrust and competition, ethical questions about what’s fair, procedural questions regarding what should change in the written and unwritten App Store rules, acknowledgement of all the undeniably great things about the App Store from the perspective of users and developers — this deep widespread resentment among developers large and small is a serious problem for Apple.

Even if you think Apple is doing nothing wrong, it’s not healthy or sustainable if the developers of a huge number of popular apps are only in the App Store because they feel they have to be there, not because they want to be there, and if they feel — justifiably or not — that Apple is taking advantage of their need to be there. Tim Cook rightly loves to cite Apple’s high customer satisfaction scores as a measure of success. I think if Apple measured developer satisfaction scores on the App Store, the results would be jarring.

Apple Closing 11 Reopened U.S. Stores as COVID-19 Spikes 

Business Insider:

Apple will re-close 11 stores in the United States after coronavirus cases have spiked in some states across the country, the company announced Friday. […] The store closures will occur in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Arizona. Specifically, Apple is closing two stores in Florida, two stores in North Carolina, one store in South Carolina, and six stores in Arizona.

Recall Josh Centers’s idea of an “Apple Store Index” as a gauge of where it’s actually safe to reopen retail businesses.

‘It Really Does Feel like the U.S. Has Given Up’ 

Rick Noack, reporting for The Washington Post:

As coronavirus cases surge in states across the South and West of the United States, health experts in countries with falling case numbers are watching with a growing sense of alarm and disbelief, with many wondering why virus-stricken U.S. states continue to reopen and why the advice of scientists is often ignored.

“It really does feel like the U.S. has given up,” said Siouxsie Wiles, an infectious-diseases specialist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand — a country that has confirmed only three new cases over the last three weeks and where citizens have now largely returned to their pre-coronavirus routines.

“I can’t imagine what it must be like having to go to work knowing it’s unsafe,” Wiles said of the U.S.-wide economic reopening. “It’s hard to see how this ends. There are just going to be more and more people infected, and more and more deaths. It’s heartbreaking.” […]

Some European health experts fear that the rising U.S. caseloads are rooted in a White House response that has at times deviated from the conclusions of leading scientists. […] Whereas the U.S. response to the crisis has at times appeared disconnected from American scientists’ publicly available findings, U.S. researchers’ conclusions informed the actions of foreign governments.

This cagey “at times” nonsense is just a nonsensical attempt to appear above the U.S. political fray. There’s no maybe or “at times” about it — the explanation is entirely and obviously the result of President Trump. The U.S. political response is disconnected from American scientists’ publicly available findings.

Jeet Heer:

I don’t think people realize what a tragedy this is, how many lives it will cost, how many people will unnecessarily have chronic health problems for the rest of their lives because of this, and how it will damage America for decades to come.

AMC Theatres Plans to Reopen in July But Won’t Require Masks, Cowardly Fearing Rightwing Nuts More Than the Spread of COVID-19 

Brent Lang, Variety:

AMC will not mandate that all guests wear masks, although employees will be required to do so. Nor will AMC perform temperature checks on customers, though it will monitor its employees’ temperatures and have them undergo screenings to check for signs of coronavirus. The situation will be different in states and cities that require residents to wear a mask when they’re in public, but Aron said that AMC was wary of wading into a public health issue that has become politicized.

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” said Aron. “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary. We think that the vast majority of AMC guests will be wearing masks. When I go to an AMC feature, I will certainly be wearing a mask and leading by example.”

The cowardice and stupidity here are just jaw-dropping.

Any business reopening post-quarantine must base their mask policy either on science or politics. A policy based on science would mandate masks for all customers. There’s simply no dispute about that.

A policy based on politics could go either way. You can piss off the “fuck your science, I’m not wearing a mask” nuts, or you can piss off those on the side of epidemiological science. There is no middle ground — one way or the other you’re going to piss off one group. It’s cowardly and stupid, to me, to go with the know-nothings. It’s preposterous for Adam Aron to attempt to couch this decision as trying to avoid politics — politics is the only possible reason for not mandating masks. Whereas a mandatory mask policy can be truthfully explained apolitically: just tell everyone that your policy is based on the recommendations of the CDC. Then it’s out of your hands as the theater chain and in the hands of scientific experts.

But maybe this is good business? Maybe the only people willing to go to movie theaters here in the U.S. — where COVID-19 transmission remains far from under control — are the sort of people who think face masks are unnecessary or useless? I’ll admit that regardless of whether masks are mandatory, there’s no way I’d go to a movie theater next month. But I don’t see how Adam Aron looks his own employees in the eye with this policy.

Update: Sanity and science prevail:

AMC Theatres, the largest cinema chain in the U.S., announced it is reversing course and will require all movie-goers to wear masks as they gear up to reopen next month after coronavirus pandemic closures. […] AMC CEO and president Adam Aron said the revised guidelines on masks were made in response hearing “an intense and immediate outcry from our customers.”

How the Apple Watch Ejects Water 

Fun video from the aptly named Slow Mo Guys.

‘Bolton Shockingly Reveals Everything We Already Knew About Trump‘ 

Windsor Mann, writing for The Week:

According to excerpts of Bolton’s memoir published by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, Trump thought Finland was part of Russia, didn’t know Britain has nuclear weapons, talks about himself rather than listens during intelligence briefings, thought it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela, expressed a desire to execute journalists, supported China’s concentration camps, and sought its government’s help in getting himself re-elected by orienting trade negotiations for his own political benefit.

These revelations elicit a dual response: “Holy shit!” and “This does not surprise me at all.” Reading the excerpts, we learn new details about what we already know: Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s doing it for himself. New facts about Trump confirm old truths about him, namely that he shouldn’t be president.

That about sums it up. Well, and this.

Phil Schiller Talks to Matthew Panzarino on Hey’s App Store Rejection 

Matthew Panzarino, writing at TechCrunch:

In a brief call today about Basecamp’s Hey email app from the iOS App Store, Apple’s Phil Schiller told me that there would currently be no changes to its rules that would allow the app to continue to be offered.

“Sitting here today, there’s not any changes to the rules that we are considering,” Schiller said. “There are many things that they could do to make the app work within the rules that we have. We would love for them to do that.”

Read through to the end for Apple’s letter to Hey, reiterating why Apple doesn’t think Hey complies with the App Store guidelines.

As Panzarino says, “So for now, no thawing.”

Facebook Removes Trump Campaign Ads With Symbol Once Used by Nazis to Designate Political Prisoners 

Isaac Stanley-Becker, reporting for The Washington Post:

A red inverted triangle was used in the 1930s to identify Communists, and was applied as well to Social Democrats, liberals, Freemasons and other members of opposition parties incarcerated by the Nazis. The badge forced on Jewish political prisoners, by contrast, featured a yellow triangle overlaid by a red triangle so as to resemble a Star of David.

The red triangle appeared in paid posts sponsored by Trump and Vice President Pence, as well as by the “Team Trump” campaign page. It was featured alongside text warning of “Dangerous MOBS” and asking users to sign a petition about antifa, a loose collection of anti-fascist activists whom the Trump administration has sought to link to recent violence, despite arrest records that show their involvement is trivial.

Facebook removed the material following queries from The Washington Post, saying ads and organic posts with the inverted triangle violated its policy against organized hate. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” said Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman.

No snark: good on Facebook for doing this.

My point two weeks ago regarding the controversy over Twitter putting a warning label in front of Trump’s “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” post basically came down to the fact that there need to be lines that can’t be crossed. It’s up for debate where exactly those lines should be drawn, but they need to be there. Twitter drawing a line that says it is not acceptable for the president to use Twitter to condone deadly state violence against protesters is, in my opinion, a sane and proper line. And the vehement backlash against Facebook for not drawing that same line, particularly internal opposition by employees, suggests Zuckerberg really blew that one.

With these Nazi symbols, I really can’t help but wonder if the point was not to force Facebook’s hand. That Trump and his enablers need enemies, and they’ve decided the entire social media internet is one of those enemies, and so they pushed Facebook in a way that forced them to take down their ads.

Using MacOS Without a Magic Mouse or Trackpad 

Here’s an interesting accessibility issue with Apple’s new Developer app for the Mac: there are panels that scroll horizontally, and because MacOS doesn’t show scrollbars for them, if you’re using a mouse without a touchpad (or a two-axis scroll wheel) there’s no way to scroll the contents. I didn’t notice this because at the moment I’m only using a MacBook Pro, but I’ve seen this before when using my iMac with a mouse that only has a vertical scroll wheel.

I’m not sure if this is a bug or oversight even, but to my knowledge, Apple has never officially said that you need a touchpad or two-axis scroll wheel to navigate MacOS.

Update: OK, I went and dug out my old beloved scroll wheel mouse. It turns out you can use a vertical scroll wheel to scroll horizontally by holding down the Shift key on your keyboard. And, yes, this works in the horizontally-scrolling carousels in the Developer app. (This trick may not work with all mice, however, but the Logitech mouse I just used is, I swear, at least 20 years old.) So you can get by with just a single-axis scroll wheel, but I still think it’s true that Apple has never officially said that you can’t navigate to everything system-wide just by simply clicking and dragging.

Microsoft Pushing for Antitrust Regulators to Review Unnamed ‘App Stores’ 

Dina Bass, writing for Bloomberg:*

Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith said it’s time for antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe to discuss tactics that app stores use to take advantage of those who want to distribute their software.

Some app stores create a far higher barrier to fair competition and access than Microsoft’s Windows did when it was found guilty of antitrust violations 20 years ago, Smith said Thursday at an event sponsored by Politico. He didn’t specify which app stores he was referring to, but Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google operate popular ones for their devices.

I get why Smith would choose not to mention Apple or Google by name — he doesn’t have to. They don’t merely operate two popular app stores, they operate the only two app stores that matter at all in the U.S. and E.U. Without arguing over the legal definition of monopoly, it speaks to the market share of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store that one can talk about “app stores” in general and everyone knows you can only be talking about those two stores in particular.

“They impose requirements that increasingly say there is only one way to get on to our platform and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have created,” Smith said. “In some cases they create a very high price per toll — in some cases 30% of your revenue has to go to the toll keeper.”

I get the strong sense — reading between the lines of Smith’s carefully measured opening public salvo here, and listening to private sources behind the scenes — that this is not just an offhand remark but a sign that Microsoft is strategically positioning itself to push for antitrust regulation here. They have much to gain and nothing to lose — and they have experience, to say the least, with antitrust regulators.

Just mind-boggling on a 25-year time scale that Microsoft and Apple are now on these sides of a serious antitrust controversy. (And Google, of course, didn’t even exist when Microsoft was going through the Windows antitrust battle.)

* You know.

Indie Sticker Pack 

No in-person WWDC tchotchkes this year, but here’s a great idea put together by the developers of the Nighthawk iOS Twitter client — an assortment of fun stickers from a slew of popular indie developers. What kind of stickers? Both kinds: an iMessage app with virtual stickers and a pack of real-world printed ones.

They’re splitting all proceeds between the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Apple’s Developer App for Mac 

Martin Pilkington on the new Developer app for Mac, ported from iPad using Catalyst:

There are other minor things I could have filed bugs about, but unfortunately I ran out of time. However, this shows just how much Apple has missed. And it is all entirely avoidable if Apple as an organisation took the time to put the care and love into their apps. They’re still capable of doing so. Just look at their iWork apps or their Pro apps. They are still amongst the best apps on any platform.

Catalyst is almost a poster child for this problem. I’m under no illusion of the technical challenges involved, but it has effectively been released in an unfinished state, leaving apps feeling like they don’t fully fit on the platform. Developers can put a lot of time and care into working around a lot of these, but some things can’t be fixed, and every minute they spend fixing flaws in Catalyst is a minute not spent making their apps even better. However, Apple doesn’t even do that with their Catalyst apps.

As things stand right now, Catalyst seems like a framework written by people at Apple who don’t know what makes for a good Mac app, for iOS developers who don’t know what makes for a good Mac app.

No one would be happier than me to see big news on this front next week at WWDC. But man, what a sad statement about Catalyst the Mac Developer app is. It’s not like Catalyst heralds a new style of Mac app — it’s not about an old style vs. new style. It’s just about paying attention to details or not.

Compare and contrast with the new version of the Mac App Store app, the one introduced in 10.14 Mojave and carried through to 10.15 Catalina. There are a lot of things in the current Mac App Store app I don’t particularly like — UI designs that I would broadly describe as iOS-isms. (Because the Mac App Store app exhibits so many iOS-isms, I’ve seen many people assume that it’s a Catalyst app — it is not.) One conspicuous example: in the Updates section, when you click the “More” button to see an app’s complete release notes, they show up in a white pseudo dialog box with no controls at all — no close button, no “Done” button. Just a white box that you dismiss by clicking anywhere in the content area of the main App Store window. That’s not a traditional thing in the Mac UI language. I personally don’t think it’s a good design, in the abstract, for a mouse-driven UI. But: it is clearly and obviously by design. In fact, because this sort of pseudo dialog box/panel is not a standard window, it took extra work on the part of the engineers who made the Mac App Store app to implement it.

Whereas all or nearly all of the issues Pilkington cites in the Mac Developer app aren’t things he dislikes, per se, or things that are designed “the new way” or “the iOS way” — they’re just things that weren’t designed at all. Just accidental behaviors inherited by default from Catalyst. Everything is too small, the layout looks like a complete afterthought if you resize the window to larger than a laptop display, and the accessibility hierarchy is — indisputably — an embarrassment.

ElevationHub 

New $50 add-on for MacBook USB-C power adapters — gives you an SD card reader, USB-A port, and integrated cable management. Clever.

On Avoiding or Embracing Apple’s In-App Purchase Cut 

Jacob Kastrenakes, writing about the Hey/Apple App Store dispute for The Verge:

Apple takes up to a 30-percent cut of revenue on in-app purchases and subscriptions, so developers try to avoid signing up users within their app whenever possible to avoid the steep tax.

I think it’s essential to point out that this is not true — many developers embrace Apple’s in-app purchasing. No dispute about it, a 30 percent cut is high. Even a 15 percent cut (what Apple takes from subscriptions after the first year) is high compared to simple credit card payment processors. But the App Store is more than just a payment processor, and for some developers, Apple’s cut is either happily worth it or at least begrudgingly worth it. One reason some developers embrace it is that they know users like and trust Apple’s in-app purchases — the user experience is excellent.

The issue exemplified by Hey is that there are cross-platform apps/services that don’t want to use Apple’s system, period, full stop. They don’t need to, or don’t want to, or think Apple’s cut is too high, or perhaps their business model literally can’t support giving up 30 percent of revenue — whatever. They’re not trying to collect money from users within their apps by circumventing Apple’s IAP APIs with their own payment processing — they’re simply willing to forgo in-app commerce completely and sign up all their users on their own, outside their app.

Netflix stopped offering in-app subscriptions on iOS in 2018, and Spotify charges extra to make up for the lost revenue.

Netflix and Spotify shouldn’t be lumped together. Yes, both object to the size of Apple’s cut, but Netflix simply decided to forgo signing up users in their iOS app. That’s exactly what Hey wants to do too. Spotify, on the other hand, wants to have it both ways — they want to sign up paying users within their iOS app but they don’t want to pay Apple’s cut. Maybe you think Spotify is right (me, I think they’re hypocrites), but theirs is a very different stance from Netflix and Hey’s.

Dithering: ‘Hey Apple, Cut It Out’ 

Today’s episode of Dithering is — shocker! — about the Hey/Apple App Store dispute. In the minute-long excerpt tweeted here, I mention this quote from Walt Disney, which I think sums the whole problem up: “We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.”

(Dithering is just $5 per month — cheap! — and it’s really easy to sign up for and subscribe to in your favorite podcast player. And if you don’t like it, it’s really easy to cancel. But I bet you won’t cancel — people are really digging the 3×/week 15 minutes/episode format.)

Basecamp’s New App, Hey, Flagged in App Store Limbo for Not Using In-App Purchase 

David Pierce, writing at Protocol:

Right around the time the team at Basecamp was launching their Hey email service to the public on Monday, Zach Waugh, Basecamp’s lead iOS developer, got a distressing email. The second version of their iOS app, 1.0.1 — with a few bug fixes from the original — had been rejected by the App Store reviewers. It cited rule 3.1.1 of Apple’s guidelines for app developers, which says in essence that if you want people to be able to buy stuff in your app, you need to do it using Apple’s payments system.

Waugh and Basecamp didn’t think that rule applied. Hey does cost $99 a year, but users can’t sign up or pay within the iOS app. It’s an app for using an existing outside service, just like Basecamp’s eponymous platform — and Netflix and Slack and countless other apps. “So we were like, OK, maybe we just got the Monday morning reviewer,” Basecamp co-founder and CTO David Heinemeier Hansson said. Lots of developers over the years have found that their app-review luck sometimes depended on who happened to be looking, and whether they’d had coffee yet. So Basecamp fixed more bugs, submitted a new version — 1.0.2 — and hoped for the best. […]

The issue had been escalated internally, and Apple had determined it was a valid rejection — the only way to move forward would be to implement Apple’s payments system. And not only that: Waugh was told that Apple would like a commitment and a timeline for implementing the payment system, or Apple might be forced to remove Hey from the App Store entirely.

I really don’t get it. Even if we concede that the App Store rules around in-app payments (lowercase) being required to use Apple’s In-App Payments (uppercase) APIs (which give Apple their 15-30% cut) are OK (which is a big concession), I don’t see how Basecamp’s Hey app is violating them.

You cannot sign up for Hey within the iOS app. And if you have a Hey account in free trial mode, the iOS app doesn’t have links or buttons prompting you to become a paying customer. They don’t tell you to upgrade to a paid account outside the app. When you don’t already have an account, these are the only three screens you can see in the app: a sign in screen, a help screen, and a password reset screen. The help screen says, in its entirety:

Trying to join HEY?
You can’t sign up for HEY in the app. We know that’s a pain. After you’ve created an account, you’ll be able to use the app.

Need help from a person?
Send us an email at [email protected] and we’ll get right back to you.

That’s it. They don’t even tell you where you need to go to create an account. I don’t see what more Basecamp could do here. The Hey app isn’t dancing around the App Store’s rule 3.1.1 in some cute way — they’re complying with it completely. Am I missing something?

If this is not a mistake on Apple’s part — and it might be a mistake, given that version 1.0 of the app was approved, and there are many apps in the App Store for which you need to sign up and pay outside the store, including Basecamp itself! — it’s outrageous. The rules as they’re written are controversial (and the subject of antitrust inquiries in both the U.S. and E.U.), but the Hey app seemingly complies with all of them.

Facebook, Google CEOs Are Open to Testifying to Congress on Antitrust 

Tony Romm, reporting for The Washington Post:

In letters to committee leaders, Facebook and Google signaled they would dispatch their top executives as long as other tech giants’ leaders participate, the sources said. Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos also has signaled he will participate in the hearing, after the e-commerce giant initially resisted lawmakers’ demands, The Post reported this week. Bezos owns The Washington Post.

Apple, meanwhile, told the committee that it would send a senior executive yet did not clearly commit its leader, Tim Cook, to appearing before lawmakers, according to one of the people with knowledge of the matter. That approach could ratchet up tensions between the iPhone giant and lawmakers in Washington, who previously had threatened to issue a subpoena forcing Bezos to appear before Amazon ultimately expressed an openness to it.

“I’ll go if you go” sounds a lot like the social dance of teenagers, but, well, some social interactions scale all the way up to the CEOs of the biggest companies in the world. If Bezos, Pichai, and Zuckerberg all testify, trust me, Cook will be there. No surprise that Apple hasn’t said no — they’ve said nothing.

Also, filed under “How Times Change”, it’s striking that Microsoft, of all companies, is not involved in this.

Sony Unveils the PlayStation 5 

Raymond Wong and Ryan Houlihan, writing for Input:

The PS5’s bold design is already dividing gamers. We can’t decide if we love it or hate it. It’s no sleek PS2, which — fun fact — was inspired by a skyscraper. The PS5 is weird, organic-looking, and resembles something Zaha Hadid would come up with. There’s no disputing the fact that it’s not boring, though. In 26 years of PlayStation, the PS5 is the most daring design yet and breaks with past console aesthetics. It’s very clear Sony made the PS5 to be shown off, not hidden inside of a cabinet. But would you proudly display it? It’s unlikely to match anything in your home.

I like it, but I think it’s clear that the “Digital Edition” without a Blu-ray drive is much better looking. Also, it’s very big compared to previous generation PlayStations.

Facebook Pitched New Tool Allowing Employers to Suppress Words Like ‘Unionize’ in Workplace Chat Product 

Lee Fang, reporting for The Intercept:

During an internal presentation at Facebook on Wednesday, the company debuted features for Facebook Workplace, an intranet-style chat and office collaboration product similar to Slack.

On Facebook Workplace, employees see a stream of content similar to a news feed, with automatically generated trending topics based on what people are posting about. One of the new tools debuted by Facebook allows administrators to remove and block certain trending topics among employees.

The presentation discussed the “benefits” of “content control.” And it offered one example of a topic employers might find it useful to blacklist: the word “unionize.”

Union-bashing aside (which, admittedly, is a big thing to set aside), it seems crazy to me that any organization would even consider using a Facebook tool for internal communications. Who would trust this?

Facebook Workplace is currently used by major employers such as Walmart, which is notorious for its active efforts to suppress labor organizing. The application is also used by the Singapore government, Discovery Communications, Starbucks, and Campbell Soup Corporation.

Facebook’s product page for Workplace lists the World Health Organization, Spotify, and Heineken as paying customers too.

Elite CIA Hacking Unit Failed to Protect Its Systems, Allowing Disclosure to WikiLeaks 

Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, reporting for The Washington Post:

The theft of top-secret computer hacking tools from the CIA in 2016 was the result of a workplace culture in which the agency’s elite computer hackers “prioritized building cyber weapons at the expense of securing their own systems,” according to an internal report prepared for then-director Mike Pompeo as well as his deputy, Gina Haspel, now the current director.

The breach — allegedly by a CIA employee — was discovered a year after it happened, when the information was published by WikiLeaks, in March 2017. The anti-secrecy group dubbed the release “Vault 7,” and U.S. officials have said it was the biggest unauthorized disclosure of classified information in the CIA’s history, causing the agency to shut down some intelligence operations and alerting foreign adversaries to the spy agency’s techniques. […]

Absent WikiLeaks’s disclosure, the CIA might never have known the tools had been stolen, according to the report. “Had the data been stolen for the benefit of a state adversary and not published, we might still be unaware of the loss,” the task force concluded.

Keep this story in mind the next time the FBI and DOJ start barking about their being trustworthy with the secret keys to encryption backdoors they want built. I know the CIA is not the FBI, but, if anything, you’d think the CIA would be better at protecting truly sensitive secrets.

I’m not even arguing that the FBI and CIA are inherently incapable of keeping digital secrets. I’m sure both have many secrets that haven’t leaked. It’s just obviously possible that they could and have leaked secrets.

Supreme Court Rules, 6-3, That the Civil Rights Act Applies to LGBTQ Rights 

Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the 6-3 majority:

Sometimes small gestures can have unexpected consequences. Major initiatives practically guarantee them. In our time, few pieces of federal legislation rank in significance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There, in Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.

Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result. Likely, they weren’t thinking about many of the Act’s consequences that have become apparent over the years, including its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of motherhood or its ban on the sexual harassment of male employees. But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. When the express terms of a statute give us one answer and extratextual considerations suggest another, it’s no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.

My headline here links to Slate’s coverage of the opinion, which includes analysis and opinion from both sides of the issue. But I highly recommend reading Gorsuch’s opinion: it’s cogent, clear, and compelling — and, very much conservative.

See also: Sean Trende’s analysis at RealClearPolitics, including a compelling theory that Roberts voted with the majority strategically, not because he necessarily agreed.

Apple Adds New MacBook Pro Graphics Option and Mac Pro SSD Upgrade Kit 

Brian Heater, reporting for TechCrunch:

A week before kicking off WWDC, Apple introduced a pair of upgrades to its pro-level hardware lines. Both the 16-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac Pro desktop are getting select internal upgrades, starting today.

On the notebook front, the 16-inch model gets an additional graphics configuration. The addition of the AMD Radeon Pro 5600M GPU marks the best graphics performance yet for the notebook line, marking up a 75% speed increase over the the next-highest configuration, the Radeon Pro 5500M.

Time to start keeping a file of announcements that didn’t make it into next week’s WWDC keynote. (See also: new 0% Apple Card financing for Mac, iPad, and other hardware.)

Adobe Flash Player End of Life: December 31 

Adobe today:

As previously announced in July 2017, Adobe will stop distributing and updating Flash Player after December 31, 2020 (“EOL Date”). We made this announcement in collaboration with several of our technology partners — including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla — which issued complementary announcements with more technical detail on what the Flash Player EOL will mean for developers, enterprises, and consumers using their specific OS environments or browsers.

[…]Adobe will be removing Flash Player download pages from its site and Flash-based content will be blocked from running in Adobe Flash Player after the EOL Date.

Steve Jobs, 10 years ago:

Flash was created during the PC era — for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short. […]

New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too).

PressureWashr 

My thanks to PressureWashr for sponsoring DF last week. PressureWashr is unlike any sponsor I’ve had before — all they do is review and recommend pressure washers. Sort of like Wirecutter but specifically for pressure washers — and, in fact, Wirecutter called upon PressureWashr to help with their own pressure washer guide.

Pressure washers make your dirty things clean again — everything from driveways, to your car, to your deck and patio furniture. But there are a ton of pressure washers on the market, and a lot of them are lousy.

PressureWashr has been researching, testing, disassembling, reviewing, and recommending pressure washers since 2013. They know their pressure washers, so if you’re interested in buying one check out their list of the 7 best — just updated for 2020 this month.

Brendan Shanks on the ARM Mac Transition: ‘Re-Engine, Not Re-Imagine’ 

Brendan Shanks, speculating on the transition:

Apple will announce a Developer Transition Kit at WWDC, which will be available this summer. The DTK will use an A12Z (the current iPad Pro SoC), inside a Mac mini chassis. Or, I think less likely, an Apple TV chassis with added I/O.

I don’t think it will be a laptop: that would require full power management to be implemented, would be more expensive, and would result in battery life figures for semi-prototype hardware being reported all over the press. That’s really not how Apple rolls.

I wish I had thought about this before I predicted that maybe the developer kits would be laptops. There’s no way Apple wants prototype battery life to speak for the actual transition. Really, that just leaves the Mac Mini.

Great post overall — I think Shanks is largely spot-on.

The Case for ARM-Based Macs 

David Shayer, writing at TidBITS, offers a terrific overview of the issues.

‘8:46’ 

Pure fire from Dave Chappelle.

‘Jesus Christ, Just Wear a Face Mask!’ 

Jason Kottke, with a slew of new links on the apparent efficacy of wearing face masks in public:

And these are just from the last few days. Why WHY WHY!!!! are we still talking about this? There’s no credible evidence that wearing a mask is harmful, so at worse it’s harmless. If there’s like a 1-in-10 chance that masks are somewhat helpful — and the growing amount of research suggests that both 1-in-10 and “somewhat helpful” are both understatements — isn’t it worth the tiny bit of effort to wear one and help keep our neighbors safe from potential fucking death? Just in case?

Japan is a striking example. Effectively, universal face-mask wearing is the only thing Japan has done right to combat COVID-19, and it’s seemingly been enough, despite being a nation of densely populated cities and widespread public transit usage. Is there a single country with widespread wearing of face masks where there’s been a bad COVID-19 outbreak? One? If we can beat this mostly through wearing face masks, it should be celebrated. It’s so easy.

And, if you’re looking to simply sit back this weekend and read, maybe catch your breath, but without tuning out of our current affairs, you’ll find no better reading and watching list than Kottke’s assemblage. Much to learn, much to think about.

Excellent MacOS Catalina Fonts You Probably Didn’t Know You Had Access To 

Speaking of installing fonts, here’s Ralf Herrmann, writing at Typography Guru a few weeks ago:

Apple has recently licensed fonts from type foundries such as Commercial Type, Klim Type Foundry and Mark Simonson Studio to be used as system fonts on Mac OS Catalina. But since these fonts are an optional download, many users of Mac OS X are not even aware they have access to them for free.

To see and install these optional fonts, open the FontBook application and switch to “All Fonts”. Browse the font list and you will see lots of font families that are greyed out — either because they were deactivated or they weren’t downloaded yet. If you right-click on a font or font family that wasn’t downloaded yet, you see an option to download the individual font or entire family.

I can’t believe I didn’t know about this until I saw this post. These fonts are truly excellent, and Apple has licensed them.

Fontcase 2.0 

Craig Hockenberry, writing at the Iconfactory blog:

I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’re announcing a new product that isn’t version 1.0. I’m absolutely sure this is the first time that we’re announcing a release that isn’t our own app.

Let me explain.

It all began with our simple text companion, Tot. Everyone wanted to use custom fonts for their text on iOS. We all have our favorite editing fonts and they were easy to configure on macOS. It made sense to bring this capability to the mobile app.

Fontcase is a free-of-charge open source iPhone/iPad utility for installing fonts via custom configuration profiles, which is the only way to install arbitrary fonts on iOS. This is so much harder and more complicated than on the Mac, where you just open fonts in the built-in Font Book utility and let it install them for you — and where, behind the scenes, installation is no more complicated than copying the fonts files to ~/Library/Fonts. But Fontcase makes this process on iOS so much easier than without it.

I get it. iOS font installation isn’t complicated and finicky because Apple doesn’t realize that it’s complicated and finicky — it is this way for privacy and security reasons. But if you take a step back and ponder the situation, it’s bananas that iOS is a personal computing platform from Apple — Apple of all companies, the company that brought about the desktop publishing and computer-based graphic design revolutions — and they make it insanely hard to install fonts. Computer platforms where it was hard or simply impossible to install custom fonts were something Mac users spent the entire decade of the 1990s mercilessly mocking. The balance between “custom fonts are a potential security/privacy issue” and “custom fonts should be easy to install and manage” is just completely out of whack on iOS.

Anyway, if you have fonts on your Mac that you wish you had on your iPad or iPhone, check out Fontcase. But I really hope Apple sherlocks this with iOS/iPadOS 14.

What an Amazing Feature 

Slack:

You can now resize both sidebars within Slack!

I’m reminded of Alan Kay’s comment regarding the original Macintosh, that it was “the first personal computer worth criticizing”. Sometimes when people ask me what’s wrong with non-native Mac apps, I feel the opposite: they’re so wrong and so bad they’re not even worth criticizing. Resizeable sidebars, for chrissake.

Disney Almost Bought Twitter in 2016 

Fascinating passage from Bob Iger’s autobiography:

Twitter was a potentially powerful platform for us, but I couldn’t get past the challenges that would come with it. The challenges and controversies were almost too much to list, but they included how to manage hate speech, and making fraught decisions regarding freedom of speech, what to do about fake accounts algorithmically spewing out political “messaging” to influence elections, and the general rage and lack of civility that was sometimes evident on the platform. Those would become our problems. They were so unlike any we’d encountered, and I felt they would be corrosive to the Disney brand. On the Sunday after the board had just given me the go-ahead to pursue the acquisition of Twitter, I sent a note to all of the members telling them I had “cold feet”, and explaining my reasoning for withdrawing. Then I called Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, who was also a member of the Disney board. Jack was stunned, but very polite. I wished Jack luck, and I hung up feeling relieved.

In hindsight it makes no sense for Twitter to be under Disney’s brand. It might make sense if Disney were just one brand under the ABC umbrella (as opposed to the reality of ABC and ESPN being brands under the Disney umbrella), but not with Disney as the foundation. But: maybe? Presumably a Twitter under Disney would be a very different Twitter today.

Apple Pulls Pocket Casts and Castro From Chinese App Store 

Sam Byford, The Verge:

Pocket Casts tells The Verge that Apple didn’t provide specifics on which content violated Chinese law upon request, instead suggesting that the team reach out to the Cyberspace Administration of China directly. The app was removed around two days after Apple contacted the developer. China represented its seventh biggest market, Pocket Casts says, and it was considered to be growing.

Castro, another iPhone podcast app, was also recently pulled from China’s App Store. The developers say China made up 10 percent of its user base, although it accounted for a smaller percentage of paying subscribers. Apple didn’t provide Castro with specifics on what content fell foul of Chinese regulations, either.

Apple’s own Podcasts app remains available in China, but its built-in directory of podcasts has been heavily censored to comply with Chinese law.

Overcast is architected in a way that makes the app dependent on overcast.fm servers to be useful, and those servers have been blocked by the Great Firewall for years, so there’s no need for China to ban the app.

Apple Reveals WWDC 2020 Schedule 

Basically no surprises here. The keynote is Monday June 22 at 10 am PT, and the Platforms State of the Union (the technical details keynote) is at 2 pm PT. Same as usual.

Engineering sessions:

June 23 to 26 — Starting June 23, developers will have the ability to learn how to build the next generation of apps with more than 100 technical and design-focused sessions helmed by Apple engineers. Videos will be posted each day at 10 a.m. PDT and will be available in the Apple Developer app on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, as well as on the Apple Developer website.

So they’ll roll out sessions throughout the week, as usual, with each day’s batch released at 10 am.

One big question I’ve had is how they’ll do one-on-one labs. Sounds like it’s basically a lottery:

Developers will be able to request an appointment with the Apple engineers who helped build the latest advances in Apple platforms, offering one-on-one technical guidance and in-depth details on how to implement new features. Developer Labs will be open to Apple Developer Program members as space is available.

No word about Apple Design Awards.

Zoom Closed Account of U.S.-Based Chinese Activist 

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, reporting for Axios:

The U.S. video-conferencing company Zoom closed the account of a group of prominent U.S.-based Chinese activists after they held a Zoom event commemorating the 31st anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre, Axios has learned. […]

A Zoom spokesperson confirmed to Axios that the account had been closed “to comply with local law” and said it had now been re-activated.

Just like any global company, we must comply with applicable laws in the jurisdictions where we operate. When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws. We aim to limit the actions we take to those necessary to comply with local law and continuously review and improve our process on these matters. We have reactivated the US-based account.

If you’ve been paying even vague attention to DF these past few months you know I think Zoom is sketchy and untrustworthy in numerous ways. But one of the foundational reasons for this mistrust is that Zoom has strong ties to China. They employ hundreds of engineers in China, and were flagged for routing calls (that did not involve participants in China) through servers in China.

Now they shut down a U.S.-based account claiming it was “to comply with their respective local laws”. That makes no sense. Clearly Zoom closed the account to comply with Chinese law.

Trump Shot/Chaser Numero Dos 

The president tweeted the following (nonsensical capitalization sic, of course):

It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.

James Fallows:

I believe he genuinely does not realize that Generals Bragg, Hood, and Benning all commanded forces that fought against troops of the United States Army.

(You can argue about whether these should be re-named. But he seems to think they are part of the “History of Winning”.)

Pretty hard to claim their part in the “History of Freedom” either, given the cause they were fighting for.

Trump Shot/Chaser Numero Uno 

Trump campaign sends shot to CNN:

President Donald Trump’s campaign is demanding CNN retract and apologize for a recent poll that showed him well behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The demand, coming in the form of a cease and desist letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker that contained numerous incorrect and misleading claims, was immediately rejected by the network.

“We stand by our poll,” said Matt Dornic, a CNN spokesman.

CNN general counsel David Vigilante provides the chaser:

To my knowledge, this is the first time in its 40 year history that CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN’s polling results.

To the extent we have received legal threats from political leaders in the past, they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media.

The response just gets better from there, pointing out that Trump’s pollster is this guy.

In the Last Two Weeks, American Voters’ Support for the Black Lives Matter Movement Increased Almost as Much as It Had in the Preceding Two Years 

2020 has been a turbulent year, to say the least, but finally something astoundingly good has happened. There aren’t many moments in a lifetime where you see public opinion on an important issue change like this.

From the DF Archive: ‘Bombs Away’ 

Posted 15 years ago yesterday: my take on Apple’s 2005 announcement of the transition to Intel.

How Apples Go Bad 

I don’t mean to harp on this “few bad apples” analogy, but this short piece by New Yorker food writer Helen Rosner on the science of rotting apples is, well, delicious.

Nascar Drivers Voice Support for George Floyd Protests and Black Lives Matter 

CNN:

Nascar drivers have joined the growing list of athletes and sports leagues throwing their support behind the nationwide protests against police brutality.

Bubba Wallace wore a black T-shirt that said “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe” during Sunday’s Nascar Cup Series Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500.

Wallace also tweeted a Nascar-sponsored video of him and fellow drivers discussing how they will advocate for change to fight racism and inspire change.

“We will listen and learn! #BlackLivesMatters”, Wallace tweeted.

There’s a much-cited passage in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

That gradually-then-suddenly pattern is true for so many things. Cracks form slowly, then, the dam bursts. We’re at the suddenly part for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

CNBC Posts, and Somehow Still Hasn’t Retracted, One of the Worst Charts You’ll Ever See 

Using a line graph to plot a +2.5M month after a -20.7M makes it look like a +23.2M month. Misleading doesn’t begin to describe the severity of this chart crime. Hard to believe this could have been an honest mistake in the first place, but the fact that it’s still up three days later is malpractice.

(Twitter thread with numerous suggestions to accurately illustrate these numbers.)

Update: CNBC reporter Jesse Pound updated the chart in a reasonable way. Small miracles. Thanks to Jamie Dwyer for bringing it to Pound’s attention and letting me know it was updated. Click through to the Twitter thread above to see the original.

‘What It’s Like to Get Doxed for Taking a Bike Ride’ 

Olivia Nuzzi, reporting for New York Magazine on a terrifying case of mistaken identity:

It was based on that initial, false information that Weinberg had become a suspect for the internet mob. To his surprise, the app that he used to record his regular rides from Bethesda into Georgetown via the Capital Crescent Trail shared that information publicly, not just with his network of friends and followers. Someone had located a record of his ride on the path on June 2, matched it to the location of the assault from the video, matched his profile picture — white guy, aviator-style sunglasses, helmet obscuring much of his head — to the man in the video, and shared the hunch publicly.

It took off. Weinberg didn’t know what “doxing” meant, but it was happening to him: Someone posted his address.

Twitter mob justice run amok — just awful. Read through to the end for the best “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on” kicker you’ll ever read. When it comes to a furious Twitter mob, the truth doesn’t even have shoes.

Also, a serious lesson regarding the use of any sort of app that combines location-tracking with social media. I was going to say that if you use Strava, you should check your settings, but really you should check your settings for all apps with location access.

William Barr’s Bullshit Claim That Pepper Balls Are ‘Not Chemical’ 

Glenn Kessler, reporting for The Washington Post:

Here’s the full exchange between Barr and interviewer Margaret Brennan.

BRENNAN: There were chemical irritants, the Park Police has said —

BARR: No, there were not chemical irritants. Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical.

BRENNAN: Pepper spray, you’re saying is what was used —

BARR: Pepper balls. Pepper balls.

But this is simply wrong. PepperBall’s website declares: “With multiple payload options and a proprietary chemical irritant that’s proven more effective from even greater distances, PepperBall projectiles offer the protection and versatility for any situation.” (The company did not respond to a request for comment.)

What’s that ingredient? It’s called pelargonic acid vanillylamide, or PAVA, a “synthetic” form of capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers. Anyone who’s tried to insert contacts in their eyes after cutting hot peppers knows what that feels like. PAVA is mostly derived from synthesis rather than extraction from natural plant sources, according to the “Handbook of Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents.”

So basically Barr is trying to use “chemical” to mean “synthetic” or “artificial”, as opposed to “natural”. As if attacking peaceful protesters with natural hot pepper irritants would be OK. But that’s not even the case. They can’t even get their bullshit straight.

Video Timeline of Trump’s St. John’s Church Photo Op and Lafayette Square Crackdown 

The Washington Post:

Drawing on footage captured from dozens of cameras, as well as police radio communications and other records, The Washington Post reconstructed the events of this latest remarkable hour of Trump’s presidency, including of the roles of the agencies involved and the tactics and weaponry they used.

Watch the reconstruction above to see how it unfolded.

Tremendous video journalism.

Josh Marshall: ‘For the First Time Trump Faces Crises Not of His Own Making’ 

Josh Marshall, writing at TPM:

But the biggest difference can be obscure even as it stares us in the face. Every crisis President Trump faced until this year was a crisis purely of his own making. That meant that he could more or less stop them at will. Whenever things got hot enough and his advisors could convince him to stop being weird for a while it would go away. Because it was all about him, all of his own making.

This is what makes 2020 different. Each of today’s overlapping crises are ones for which Trump bears significant personal responsibility. But they are not crises of his own making and they are real quite apart from whatever actions he might choose to take. Donald Trump could turn magically into the perfect President and there would still be a COVID epidemic and tens of millions out of work. He could go through the motions on racism, police killings and criminal justice reform and those issues would remain only slightly less intractable.

None of this means Trump can’t recover. It does show how 2020 is different.

‘Soros Riot Dance Squad’ 

Ciara O’Rourke, writing for PolitiFact about false news spreading on Facebook:

“White busses marked ‘Soros Riot Dance Squad’ spotted in Michigan: It’s official, the riots are staged,” reads the headline on a June 2 Intellihub story. “The invisible man behind the curtain has now become visible.”

The post goes on to say that the buses “show the current Black Lives Matter/ANTIFA-sponsored unrest is most likely without a shadow of a doubt part of a much larger George Soros, Barack Obama, Democratic National Committee-backed plan aimed at taking back the Office of the President once and for all.”

The proof, the post says, is a photo published on Facebook.

  1. It’s not half-bad photoshopping. If it said something innocuous you probably wouldn’t think twice about it. So, OK.

  2. But “Soros Riot Dance Squad”? Really? I want to believe this image had to originate as a joke, not propaganda. I mean even if you are squarely in the target demographic for this sort of propaganda — paranoid, racist, anti-Semitic, stupid, and scared — how do you take this seriously? “Soros Riot Dance Squad” is like a Simpsons joke.

  3. That someone actually typed the phrase “most likely without a shadow of a doubt” makes me think, OK, yeah, there are people stupid enough to believe this is real.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver: ‘Police’ 

“Our whole show is actually going to be about one thing, and you probably know what, and you probably know why.”

Look, my family is a John Oliver family. It’s one of our favorite shows. It’s consistently excellent. But this week’s episode is so great, and so on point. And my god, the ending. Wow. HBO has posted the entire 33-minute episode to YouTube, so save it for when you have time. It demands your attention.

Magic Lasso Adblock 

My thanks to Magic Lasso Adblock for sponsoring last week at DF. Magic Lasso is an efficient, fast Safari content blocker for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

It blocks intrusive ads, provides a 2.0× speed increase on common websites and improves your privacy by removing ad trackers in Safari. Version 2.0 delivers a host of new features including:

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  • New look and feel: the new three-pane interface provides a quick overview of current status, recent rules updates, and a simple way to view and configure whitelisted sites.

Download for free today via the Magic Lasso website, the iOS App Store, and Mac App Store.

Bird’s Eye View of Protests Across the U.S. and Around the World 

The New York Times news page:

In small towns and large cities, many thousands flooded the streets on Saturday to protest racism and police violence in response to the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. Saturday was the 12th day of protests.

Minneapolis, Washington, New York, Philadelphia (my god the crowd here yesterday), Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Indianapolis, Atlanta.

Berlin, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Bologna, Melbourne.

Everywhere. Or at least everywhere free speech reigns.

The New York Times op-ed page: “Send in the Troops”.

Within the pages of the same publication — regardless if it crossed the news/opinion divide — something had to give. And so it did.

Zoom, Still Shitting the Bed 

Nico Grant, reporting for Bloomberg* on Zoom’s growth and CEO Eric Yuan’s plans for truly private encryption:

Corporate clients will get access to Zoom’s end-to-end encryption service now being developed, but Yuan said free users won’t enjoy that level of privacy, which makes it impossible for third parties to decipher communications.

“Free users for sure we don’t want to give that because we also want to work together with FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose,” Yuan said on the call.

It should go without saying that it’s bullshit that communication platforms should eschew end-to-end encryption to make snooping easier for law enforcement. So Zoom is already on the wrong side here. Also, not really a great week to come out on the side of either local or federal law enforcement. Read the room.

But it is genuinely nourishing to my soul to consider the premise that corporate clients are wholly separate from the “some people” who might “use Zoom for a bad purpose”. I mean that is truly delicious. Thank you, Eric Yuan, for providing a dose of levity in a dark week.

* There’s a lot going on but I haven’t forgotten about the colossal “Big Hack” fuck-up that continues to mar Bloomberg’s institutional journalistic integrity.

‘We, the NFL, Believe Black Lives Matter’ 

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell:

We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.

Maybe you won’t accept this apology. The NFL’s handling of this saga may well be unforgivable. Rightfully, this should include an apology to Colin Kaepernick by name.

But that is an apology, and it is a nearly complete about-face from an organization that is, to say the least, not known for about-faces. This is notable not for what the apology says about the NFL, but what the NFL’s apology says about how dramatically the lines have shifted in American public sentiment in the past week. It’s not “good for the NFL that they finally apologized”, it’s “good for America that the NFL sensed they were wrong and had to apologize”.

I keep thinking about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s words earlier this week: “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.”

There’s a lot of sun being let in right now.

‘Some Jobs Can’t Have Bad Apples’ 

Ladies and gentlemen, Chris Rock.

Washington’s Newest Landmark: Black Lives Matter Plaza 

The Washington Post:

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed a street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” on Friday and emblazoned the slogan in massive yellow letters on the road, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets.

Overhead view from a nearby rooftop. The perfect message, rendered beautifully.

There is a profound “the pen is mightier than the sword” aspect to the political deftness of this. The U.S. military is the world’s biggest sword, but the street leading to the White House makes for a grand canvas for a pen.

Update: Great shot here from BBC News, and a satellite view for scale.

Ft. Lauderdale Cop Suspended for Assaulting Protestor Was Reviewed by Internal Affairs for Use of Force 79 Times in 3.5 Years 

Charles Rabin, reporting for The Miami Herald:

The Fort Lauderdale patrol officer who inflamed a tense demonstration on Sunday, knocking over a seated protester just before a peaceful protest against police abuse turned violent, has been reviewed by internal affairs for using force 79 times in his roughly three-and-half years on the force, according to department records.

Most notably, Steven Pohorence has drawn his firearm more than once a month on average since he was hired in October 2016, according to personnel records released by the law enforcement agency on Wednesday. […]

During some instances in which Pohorence drew his weapon, the records show, he was apprehending someone wanted for serious crimes such as a robbery, vehicle theft or an outstanding warrant. The records show the pattern of brandishing his firearm increasing with him drawing a weapon 42 times in the past 16 months. In January of this year, Pohorence drew on suspects four times in one week. But three of those instances turned out to be minor violations or misunderstandings.

That’s a review every 16 days, ever since he’s been in service. Sounds like a lot.

Shane Calvey, president of Fort Lauderdale’s Fraternal Order of Police said he couldn’t speak about Pohorence’s actions on Sunday while it was under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. But he also defended the officer’s record, saying there was nothing out of the ordinary regarding the number of times Pohorence had been reviewed for use-of-force or had drawn his weapon.

“There were no policy violations found,” Calvey said.

Nothing out of the ordinary about a cop who drew his gun 42 times in 16 months. Either he’s lying to make an excuse for a cop who clearly never should have been in uniform in the first place, which is awful, or he’s telling the truth — that this is normal — which is far worse.

Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies 

Jason Kottke:

This is a great example of the Great Span, the link across large periods of history by individual humans. But it’s also a reminder that, as William Faulkner wrote: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Until this week, US taxpayers were literally and directly paying for the Civil War, a conflict whose origins stretch back to the earliest days of the American colonies and continues today on the streets of our cities and towns.

Buffalo Cops Suspended for Shoving 75-Year-Old Man to Ground 

Ryan W. Miller and Jordan Culver, reporting for USA Today:

In its initial statement on the incident, the Buffalo Police Department said a person “was injured when he tripped & fell,” WIVB-TV reported. A later statement posted on the department’s Facebook page said two officers had been suspended without pay and an internal affairs investigation was underway.

“Tripped and fell” is a preposterous lie when you watch the video. And why are the officers not named? I just spent 15 minutes searching news stories and none of them name the officers. If a protestor had pushed a Buffalo cop to the ground, sending them to the hospital in serious condition, I’m pretty sure they’d be named. Not releasing the names of these two cops is protecting them — a prime example of the insular nature of U.S. policing that these protests are about. You can argue that their names should be withheld to protect them and their families from retribution, but then that should apply to all criminal suspects, not just criminal suspects wearing badges.

Donald Trump’s Praise for the Tiananmen Square Massacre: ‘When the Students Poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese Government Almost Blew It’ 

From a 1990 interview with Playboy:

When the now-Republican presidential frontrunner was asked his impression of the Soviet Union, the then-43-year-old replied:

“I was very unimpressed… Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.”

He was asked whether he meant a “firm hand as in China?”, to which Trump replied:

“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak… as being spit on by the rest of the world.”

Asked in 2016 about these comments, he called the Tiananmen Square protest a “riot”:

Trump, however, denied that his statements meant he agreed with the acts. “That doesn’t mean I was endorsing that… I said, that is a strong powerful government that put it down,” he said. “They kept down the riot, it was a horrible thing,” he added.

Trump’s true self has been in front of us all along. The best time to open your eyes to it was four years ago. The next best time is today.

Marques Brownlee: ‘Reflecting on the Color of My Skin’ 

Marques Brownlee, moving the needle:

Just know that this whole social media thing can make it feel like a very now thing … a 2020 thing. Maybe that’s because of the short attention span of the internet. But this is an ongoing thing. This has been a thing, and this will continue to be a thing. We have to spread the message, we have to be responsible, and use our voices. And we have to move the needle.

Greg Doucette’s Massive Thread Documenting Nationwide Police Brutality Against Protestors 

260 grotesque incidents of police violence and counting, from across the nation. And these are just the scenes caught on video, collected and shared by one man. Watch and share.

On Tiananmen Anniversary, Hong Kong Makes Mocking China’s Anthem a Crime 

Austin Ramzy, Tiffany May, and Javier C. Hernández, reporting for the NYT:

Hong Kong made mocking China’s national anthem a crime on Thursday, passing a contentious law on the anniversary of the Chinese military’s bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

No better proof that mockery works — they wouldn’t ban it if it weren’t effective.

But alas, the larger point is that Hong Kong’s fall into Chinese rule is instructive: freedom is fragile, and can fall at the hands of authoritarians backed by armed forces. “The rule of law” is our guiding mantra here in the U.S., but when one side holds the law and the other side holds tanks, guns, and tear gas, it’s hard to rule by law. This is what it means not to have freedom of speech.

Hong Kong’s legislature, which is dominated by pro-Beijing lawmakers, passed a separate piece of legislation on Thursday that would criminalize disrespect for China’s national anthem and make it punishable by up to three years in prison. On Thursday, several opposition lawmakers disrupted the debate by throwing stink bombs inside the legislative chamber and yelling: “A murderous regime stinks for 10,000 years.”

“What we did today is to remind the world that we should never forgive the Chinese Communist Party for killing its own people 31 years ago,” Mr. Chu, one of the opposition lawmakers who protested the law, told reporters later.

Meanwhile, when Hong Kong most needs allies in the name of freedom and opposition to oppression, this is the infuriating scene in Walnut Creek, CA. Our own protestors are facing down tinpot cops in their big-boy toy tanks across the U.S.

Tim Cook: ‘Speaking Up on Racism’ 

Tim Cook, in a message on Apple’s website:

This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a “normal” future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.

In the words of Martin Luther King, “Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”

Philadelphia Removed the Rizzo Statue 

Some good local news, and a legitimate finally. The Philadelphia Inquirer:

On Wednesday morning, Philadelphia woke up to a profound change in the landscape of Center City. Overnight, workers had removed the statue of Frank Rizzo, the former police commissioner, then mayor, whose law-and-order tactics had come for many to symbolize racist and brutal policing in the city.

“The statue represented bigotry, hatred, and oppression for too many people, for too long,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in an early-morning tweet. “It is finally gone.”

That statue was Philly’s shameful equivalent of a Confederate Civil War monument. You look at Rizzo’s record and it’s hard to believe it was true, let alone that we had a statue dedicated to him until last night:

A careful look at his legacy, however, shows that federal officials, civil rights attorneys, community residents and politicians all voiced consistently similar concern in the 1960s and 1970s that Rizzo had allowed the police department to operate with little accountability, leading to an environment where police shot civilians at a rate of one per week between 1970 and 1978.

He was like a proto-Trump, including a tendency to simultaneously brag and whine in the third-person:

“All Frank Rizzo has done all his life is protect people from criminals at great personal risk and discomfort,” Rizzo once said, slipping into the third person.

He rose through the ranks, to deputy commissioner in 1963, and police commissioner in 1967. Rizzo summed up his philosophy in blunt terms. “The way to treat criminals is spacco il capo,” he said as top cop, using the Italian for “break their heads.” He boasted he had “the toughest cops in the world,” and that his Police Department was strong enough to invade Cuba.

1975:

During his bid for re-election, Rizzo proclaimed he would “make Attila the Hun look like a faggot.” He was re-elected by a margin of 182,730 votes over independent Charles W. Bowser and Republican Thomas M. Foglietta.

In 1980, after Rizzo was out of office, came this encounter in which he tried to get a TV news crew to fight him, one day after he broke a camera from the same crew, on camera, while Philly cops stood behind him and laughed. Just watch.

The fact that this man was Philadelphia’s police chief and two-term mayor is emblematic of the racism pervading our nation, particularly in policing.

The removal of this statue is proof that protesting works.

James Mattis Denounces Trump as Threat to Constitution, Equates His Tactics to Those of Nazi Germany 

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis:

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis — confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children. […]

We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Who’s next? Or perhaps the better question: Who will be the last?

‘Increasingly Rightwing’ Police Unions Have Made Policing More Dangerous in America 

Good roundup of links from Jason Kottke, culminating in this eye-opening thread from Minneapolis City Councilman Steve Fletcher, pointing out that police unions aren’t like other labor unions, and operate like protection rackets:

Why hasn’t it been fixed? Because the crisis we’re in this week has been an implied threat hanging over the city during union negotiations, discipline proceedings, and budget hearings for years.

Politicians who cross the MPD find slowdowns in their wards. After the first time I cut money from the proposed police budget, I had an uptick in calls taking forever to get a response, and MPD officers telling business owners to call their councilman about why it took so long.

We pay dearly for public safety: $195 million a year plus extensive, expensive legal settlements. That should buy us more than a protection racket that’ll take it out on our constituents if we try to create accountability.

Federal laws that define and mandate nationwide police accountability could do for police reform what the Voting Rights Act did for election reform. But we’ve fallen so far under right-wing political dominance in the U.S. that even the Voting Rights Act needs to be un-gutted. Our work is cut out for us.

Also worth pointing out: Police unions are a bastion of rightwing political clout in otherwise left-leaning liberal cities. It doesn’t make sense, really. Protection racket extremism might be the only way they can hold onto that clout. Ultimately, breaking their stranglehold on accountability is the entire purpose of these nationwide protests.

The ‘Well, Actually, Smoke Isn’t Even a “Gas”’ Defense 

The Trump kakistocracy — including the president himself — is going all-in on the argument that federal police did not use “tear gas” against peaceful protesters to clear the way for Trump’s bible-holding photo-op Monday. Abigail Hauslohner, reporting for The Washington Post:

The U.S. Park Police had earlier released a statement defending that effort, saying that their use of chemical agents against the crowd came in response to violence from protesters, and that it involved “pepper balls” and “smoke canisters.” The statement went on to assert that “no tear gas was used” in the Lafayette Square incident. […]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Riot control agents (sometimes referred to as “tear gas”) are chemical compounds that temporarily make people unable to function by causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin.” And, according to the CDC, “several different compounds” fall under this definition, and are employed by security forces, including military and police, in riot control situations.

Among others, they include chloroacetophenone (CN), more commonly referred to as “mace,” or pepper sprays — in other words, the compound that was deployed in Lafayette Square — and chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile (CS), “one of the most commonly used tear gases in the world,” according to an article in the British Medical Journal. These compounds are all typically referred to as “tear gas” because their most prominent effect is to bring on tears.

So the Trump defense is effectively, “Sure, we gassed peaceful demonstrators and news media from around the world with chemical agents that irritated their eyes, throat, lungs, and skin, but it wasn’t the high-test Tear Gas™ brand stuff that will really fuck you up so how dare you call it ‘tear gas’.

Good luck with that argument.

Mike Mullen: ‘I Cannot Remain Silent’ 

Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, writing at The Atlantic:

It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel — including members of the National Guard — forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president’s visit outside St. John’s Church. I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.

Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.

Barry Schnitt: ‘Dear Facebook Employees’ 

Barry Schnitt, who worked at Facebook in policy communications from 2008-2012:

Unfortunately, I do not think it is a coincidence that the choices Facebook makes are the ones that allow the most content — the fuel for the Facebook engine — to remain in the system. I do not think it is a coincidence that Facebook’s choices align with the least resources required, outsourcing important aspects to third parties. I do not think it is a coincidence that Facebook’s choices appease those in power who have made misinformation, blatant racism and inciting violence part of their platform. Facebook says, and may even believe, that it is on the side of free speech. In fact, it has put itself on the side of profit and cowardice.

You don’t have to be, though. Facebook has seemingly limitless resources at its disposal. You’ve got some of the smartest people in the world who work at Facebook. I know, I’ve worked with them. You’ve developed some of the most advanced technology in history and have mountains of capital. As one example, the company has said it may spend as much as ~$34 billion for stock buybacks since just 2017. The main ingredient that you lack is the will.

To me, the question for Facebook is less what they should do at the macro level (the president’s inflammatory, misleading posts) and more about the micro level: the thousands of relatively small, mostly private groups where hatred, violence, and dangerous disinformation foment. But that macro level matters, too. It sends a signal when it appears there is no line that the president can cross that Facebook is not OK with.

George Will: ‘There Is No Such Thing as Rock Bottom for Trump. Assume the Worst Is Yet to Come.’ 

Conservative stalwart George Will, calling for an electoral rout of Republicans in November:

Those who think our unhinged president’s recent mania about a murder two decades ago that never happened represents his moral nadir have missed the lesson of his life: There is no such thing as rock bottom. So, assume that the worst is yet to come. Which implicates national security: Abroad, anti-Americanism sleeps lightly when it sleeps at all, and it is wide-awake as decent people judge our nation’s health by the character of those to whom power is entrusted.

This was published yesterday. Trump proved Will’s prediction within mere hours.

Anonymous Outrage Holds No Water 

Jonathan Swan, reporting for Axios:

But a senior White House official told Axios that when they saw the tear gas clearing the crowd for Trump to walk to the church with his entourage: “I’ve never been more ashamed. I’m really honestly disgusted. I’m sick to my stomach. And they’re all celebrating it. They’re very very proud of themselves.”

Washington Post reporter Tony Romm:

Some people don’t deserve background sourcing. There’s a reason we describe the “why” every time we use it. Standards are important.

This is no little thing. Think about the unwritten “why” for this “senior White House official” being granted anonymity for this quote. Well, they’d be fired immediately if they put their name on it. But why protect your job if you’re “ashamed”, “honestly disgusted”, and “sick to your stomach” over what the administration you work for is doing? Swan and Axios effectively couldn’t put the “why” there because the “why” is indefensible. Either this source did not mean what they said — and Axios printed a pandering lie — or they did mean it and this source is too cowardly to do the right thing and go on the record.

Profiles in Courage 

MSNBC reporter Kasie Hunt asks Republican senators for comment on Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Church last night — powerful journalism in the form of a simple tweet thread.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on the president’s photo op at St. John’s last night: “Didn’t really see it.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. “I didn’t watch it closely enough to know.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio: “I’m late for lunch.”

It goes on. And on.

Update: Video. Devastating.

It’s a Bad Orchard 

Seth Meyers, last night on Late Night:

Stop saying the problem is just a few bad apples. It’s not an apple problem — it’s an orchard problem. If you went apple picking and the guy who ran the orchard said, “There are a few bad apples out there,” and you said, “How bad?” and they said, “Kill you bad,” you’d say, “This is a bad orchard.”

Sarah Cooper, Trump Satirist Extraordinaire 

James Poniewozik, writing last week for The New York Times:

From Ms. Cooper’s lips, the president’s sentences become plywood bridges he’s trying to nail together, one shaky plank at a time, over a vertiginous Looney Tunes canyon.

Beyond capturing the moment, Ms. Cooper’s Trump says something about what makes a good political impression. Too often, people judge it by the Rich Little standard — how much you manage to look and sound like the subject.

Mimicry is a neat trick, but it’s not satire unless there’s an idea of the person, which can hit closer to the core than a pitch-perfect imitation. What Ms. Cooper and company are developing is comedy not as writing, but as a kind of live-action political cartooning.

TPM: ‘Cops Break Up Peaceful Protest With Tear Gas So Trump Can Have a Church Photo-Op’ 

This raises an interesting theological question: How much tear gas would Jesus use on protesters to clear a path for a photo of him in front of a church, holding a bible in a way that, sure, normal people hold bibles?

This photo from Doug Mills of the NYT captures the moment more honestly.

Researcher Reports Zero-Day in Sign In With Apple, Gets Paid $100,000 Bounty 

Bhavuk Jain:

In the month of April, I found a zero-day in Sign in with Apple that affected third-party applications which were using it and didn’t implement their own additional security measures. This bug could have resulted in a full account takeover of user accounts on that third party application irrespective of a victim having a valid Apple ID or not.

For this vulnerability, I was paid $100,000 by Apple under their Apple Security Bounty program. […]

Apple also did an investigation of their logs and determined there was no misuse or account compromise due to this vulnerability.

Nice write-up of the technical details too.

Amazon No Longer Puts What You Ordered in Email Confirmations, Presumably to Thwart Data Harvesters 

I’ve noticed this too, but hadn’t really thought about it until I saw this post from Michael Tsai (based on tweets from Paul Rosania and Andrew Chen): Amazon no longer puts a list of items in order confirmation and shipment notice emails. Almost certainly they’re doing this to thwart email-scraping data harvesters from obtaining information about Amazon sales. All sorts of companies harvest this info, and people volunteer to let them do it (including Edison Mail, the iOS mail client whose recent egregious bug granted full access to email accounts to random other users — at least they’re up front about it in their “how we use data” statement). Edison is far from alone in this — there’s an entire cottage industry of email clients and “tools” whose entire business model is based on scraping their users’ email for e-commerce trends.

So, from the Department of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Amazon has responded by removing product information from its emails. One reason this change was merely a low-grade annoyance for me, personally, is that I allow the Amazon iPhone app to send me notifications, and these notifications include shipping updates and delivery confirmation. If you’re notification-permission-averse — and who isn’t these days? — I recommend making an exception for the Amazon app. I can’t promise Amazon will never use these notifications to send you an ad, but in my experience they only send me notifications regarding things I’ve ordered from them — their notifications serve me, not them. And Amazon’s website and app continue to have a nicely searchable archive of your entire order history — mine goes back to the Clinton administration, which feels like another epoch. But it was nice having your own searchable archive of purchased items right in your email.

The Magic Puzzle Company 

My thanks to The Magic Puzzle Company for sponsoring DF last week. They’re debuting with a set of three new 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles with original art and a magical surprise at the end. These are not typical jigsaw puzzles:

  • They commissioned incredible, original art from independent artists, designed from the very beginning to be used in a jigsaw puzzle.
  • They designed surprise endings using techniques from optical illusions and magic that add an extra experience to the end of the puzzle.
  • Each puzzle has over 50 easter eggs to find as you solve (and they come with a guide to help).

Series One is a Kickstarter campaign that, just hours ago, crossed the $3 million mark. I can see why — all three puzzles are gorgeous. They sent me a prototype and it’s exquisite. I mean come on — the company commissioned Susan Kare to make their logo (and, of course, the logo is perfect).

iOS 13.5.1 Is Out With Security Fixes, Presumably to Patch Last Week’s ‘Unc0ver’ Jailbreak 

There’s a MacOS 10.15 Catalina update out today too.

Facebook Employees Begin to Revolt 

Sheera Frenkel, Mike Isaac, and Cecilia Kang, reporting for The New York Times:

Mr. Zuckerberg’s post last week explaining his decision on Mr. Trump’s tweets frustrated many inside the company. More than a dozen Facebook employees tweeted that they disagreed with Mr. Zuckerberg’s decision, including the head of design of Facebook’s portal product, Andrew Crow.

An engineer for the platform, Lauren Tan, posted about the situation on Friday. “Facebook’s inaction in taking down Trump’s post inciting violence makes me ashamed to work here,” Ms. Tan wrote in a tweet. “Silence is complicity.”

Two senior Facebook employees told The New York Times that they had informed their managers that they would resign if Mr. Zuckerberg did not reverse his decision. Another person, who was supposed to start work at the company next month, told Facebook they were no longer willing to accept a position at the company because of Mr. Zuckerberg’s decision.

I don’t know why the Times linked to Tan’s tweet but not Crow’s:

Censoring information that might help people see the complete picture is wrong. But giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy. I disagree with Mark’s position and will work to make change happen.

I’ve seen some people making hay over this Times story, based on the framing of it as a “virtual walkout”. Forget about the “walkout”. What’s important here are Facebook employees speaking out, unequivocally. Interesting too that they’re using Twitter to express their dissent.

Facebook’s real risk here, as I see it, is getting branded as the social network for racists. Talent retention is the top challenge for every tech company. We’re going through history, right now, and Facebook is on the wrong side of it. No one wants that on their resume.

Barack Obama: ‘How to Make This Moment the Turning Point for Real Change’ 

Barack Obama:

I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.

Let’s get to work.