Putting M1 Max GPU Performance in Context ★
Andy Somerfield, lead for (the great) Affinity Photo app:
In Photo, an ideal GPU would do three different things well: 1.)
High compute performance 2.) Fast on-chip bandwidth 3.) Fast
transfer on and off the GPU.
Way back in 2009, no GPU did all three things well - but we
thought that eventually the industry would get there, so we took a
risk and designed the entire architecture based on that
assumption. Things didn’t go entirely to plan.
We shipped Photo in 2015 - six years after the design phase -
without GPU compute support :(
A GPU which did all the things we needed simply didn’t exist. We
wondered if we had backed the wrong horse. Happily, a short while
later it did exist - but it was in an iPad 😬!
Fast-forward a few tweets in the thread to today:
The #M1Max is the fastest GPU we have ever measured in the
@affinitybyserif Photo benchmark. It outperforms the W6900X — a
$6000, 300W desktop part — because it has immense compute
performance, immense on-chip bandwidth and immediate transfer of
data on and off the GPU (UMA).
A laptop GPU outperforming a $6,000 300-watt (300 watts!) desktop GPU. Bananas. But here I am, typing this sentence on that laptop.
The entire Apple silicon story — along with the Affinity Photo team’s prescient bet — feels like a perfect illustration of the Bill Gates axiom: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
The Information: ‘Apple Very Likely to Face DOJ Antitrust Suit’ ★
More antitrust news, from Josh Sisco, reporting for The Information (alas, paywall-protected):
And Apple’s opponents have raised other issues including the
company’s “Sign in with Apple” offering, a button placed on apps
and websites that allows people to sign in using their Apple
username and password. The Information first reported the DOJ’s
interest in the sign-in button earlier this year.
I strongly suspect that it’s not “Sign In With Apple” itself, but the corresponding App Store rule that requires any app that offers the ability to sign in with a third-party service (which, in practice, primarily targets Google and Facebook, and to a lesser degree Twitter) to also support “Sign In With Apple”.
The probe also is examining complaints about how Apple places
restrictions on location tracking that its own apps don’t have to
follow, said several people with knowledge of the matter.
They say that, but I get prompted to re-confirm allowing Apple’s iOS Weather to always access my location frequently. I wish I could make it ask me less frequently. The complaints aren’t really about Apple’s apps having access to your location but the system itself having access.
Of particular concern to app developers is Apple’s App Tracking
Transparency, which requires iPhone and iPad users to
affirmatively opt in to let developers share personal information,
such as a device’s location, with other apps and advertisers.
Apple isn’t requesting such permission to track users of its own
apps, giving it an unfair advantage in serving ads in the App
Store and elsewhere, developers argue. Apple has said that unlike
Facebook, it doesn’t share user data with others for advertising
purposes, and that the changes are designed to protect customers’
Apple should just abandon selling ads in the App Store. I’m convinced the antitrust problems those ads are causing (not to mention loss of developer goodwill) are not worth the money they generate.
Details From the Newly Unredacted Antitrust Complaint Against Google ★
This Twitter thread from @fasterthanlime has a bunch of scathing highlights from the full 173-page PDF of the filing.
A few nuggets. Re: false claims about AMP performance (p. 90):
After crippling AMP’s compatibility with header bidding, Google
went to market falsely telling publishers that adopting AMP would
enhance page load times. But Google employees knew that AMP only
improves the “median of performance” and AMP pages can actually
load slower than other publisher speed optimization techniques. In
other words, the ostensible benefits of faster load times for a
Google-cached AMP version of a webpage were not 90 true for
publishers that designed their web pages for speed. Some
publishers did not adopt AMP because they knew their pages
actually loaded faster than AMP pages.
The speed benefits Google marketed were also at least partly a
result of Google’s throttling. Google throttles the load time of
non-AMP ads by giving them artificial one-second delays in order
to give Google AMP a “nice comparative boost.” Throttling non-AMP
ads slows down header bidding, which Google then uses to denigrate
header bidding for being too slow. “Header Bidding can often
increase latency of web pages and create security flaws when
executed incorrectly,” Google falsely claimed. Internally, Google
employees grappled with “how to [publicly] justify [Google] making
You can’t justify it.
On using Chrome, the browser, as a workaround for tracking users across the entire web, by conflating logging into Chrome with logging into Google’s own web properties (p. 95):
To get publishers to give Google exclusive access over their ad
inventory, Google set publishers up for a lose/lose scenario.
First, Google started to leverage its ownership of the largest web
browser, Chrome, to track and target publishers’ audiences in
order to sell Google’s advertising inventory. To make this happen,
Google first introduced the ability for users to log into the
Chrome browser. Then, Google began to steer users into doing this
by using deceptive and coercive tactics. For example, Google
started to automatically log users into Chrome if they logged into
any Google service (e.g., Gmail or YouTube). In this way, Google
took the users that choose not to log into Chrome and logged them
in anyways. If a user tried to log out of Chrome in response,
Google punished them by kicking them out of a Google product they
were in the process of using (e.g., Gmail or YouTube). On top
this, through another deceptive pattern, Google got these users to
give the Chrome browser permission to track them across the open
web and on independent publisher sites like The Dallas Morning
News. These users also had to give Google permission to use this
new Chrome tracking data to sell Google’s own ad space, permitting
Google to use Chrome to circumvent reliance on cookie-tracking
technology. The effect of this practice is to rob publishers of
the exclusive use of their audience data (e.g., data on what users
read on The Dallas Morning News), thereby depreciating the value
of publishers’ ad space and benefitting ad sales on Google’s
properties (e.g., YouTube).
My post earlier today about Photoshop for the web going into public beta exemplifies the aspects of Google’s expansive vision for Chrome’s technical capabilities that make many web developers love Chrome and dislike Safari.
The details in this antitrust filing exemplify everything that is wrong — deeply contrary to the intended open nature of the web — about Google controlling the most popular web browser in the world.
See also: This lengthy thread from Financial Times reporter Patrick McGee. E.g., one of Google’s own employees compared Google owning the dominant ad bidding exchange as akin to “if Goldman or Citibank owned the NYSE”.
Photoshop for the Web Public Beta ★
Thomas Nattestad (Google) and Nabeel Al-Shamma (Adobe), writing for the Chrome Web.dev site:
Over the last three years, Chrome has been working to empower web
applications that want to push the boundaries of what’s possible
in the browser. One such web application has been Photoshop. The
idea of running software as complex as Photoshop directly in the
browser would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago.
However, by using various new standardized web technologies, Adobe
has now brought a public beta of Photoshop to the web.
Unsurprisingly, supported only in Chrome and Microsoft Edge, but an impressive demonstration of just how rich a platform Chrome is for something like this.
A Prototype Original iPod ★
Cabel Sasser, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first iPod:
Now, there are a lot of mysteries in the Panic Archives (it’s a
closet) but by far one of the most mysterious is what you’re
seeing for the first time today: an original early iPod prototype.
We don’t know much about where it came from. But we’ve been
waiting 20 years to share it with you.
It doesn’t look anything like an actual iPod, but that’s how prototypes work. But the date on this unit was remarkably late in development:
Clearly, this revision of the prototype was very close to the
internals of the finished iPod. In fact, the date there — September 3rd, 2001 — tells us this one was made barely two
months before it was introduced.
I’ve long wondered whether Apple might have intended to introduce the iPod a few weeks earlier than they actually did, but, well, September 11 happened. I remember that original iPod introduction as much for the iPod itself as for it feeling like a welcome early step in the world returning to normalcy.
This is a P68/Dulcimer iPod prototype we (very quickly) made
before the true form factor design was ready. Didn’t want it look
like an iPod for confidentiality - the buttons placement, the size
- it was mostly air inside - and the wheel worked (poorly).
@panic @cabel HA! GOT YOU! I have seen exactly that before. I
was one of the PortalPlayer firmware devs who went onsite @ the
Apple skunkworks site during iPod main development, and again to
make sure the GM release shipped on time.
Apple Music’s New $5/Month ‘Voice’ Plan ★
This plan struck me as weird when it was announced during the keynote, but it makes sense for the way many people use Apple Music: by just asking Siri to play whatever, where “whatever” is a particular song, a particular artist, or a particular mood. If this is your plan, when you go to the Music app on your devices, the interface will just be Siri suggestions and your listening history.
What more do you get for the regular price of $10/month? Spatial audio (potentially cool, depending upon how carefully the songs were mastered), lossless audio (borderline pointless), offline mode (downloading songs to your device), custom playlists, lyrics, and music videos. For me, it’d be really weird not to be able to browse an available index of all music (artist → album → song), but a lot of people just ask Siri for whatever.
Spotify doesn’t offer a plan like this (screenshot for posterity) — but Spotify doesn’t have its own voice-driven hardware. Amazon Music has a $4/month Echo plan that is very similar, but Amazon’s Echo plan is limited to one single Echo device or Fire TV.
Facebook ‘Ready to Engage on Substance’ ★
John Pinette, VP of communications for Facebook, in a series of tweets:
Right now 30+ journalists are finishing up a coordinated series
of articles based on thousands of pages of leaked documents. We
hear that to get the docs, outlets had to agree to the conditions
and a schedule laid down by the PR team that worked on earlier
A curated selection out of millions of documents at Facebook can
in no way be used to draw fair conclusions about us. Internally,
we share work in progress and debate options. Not every suggestion
stands up to the scrutiny we must apply to decisions affecting so
To those news organizations who would like to move beyond an
orchestrated “gotcha” campaign, we are ready to engage on the
this tweet appears to contain words but all i hear are little baby
crying sounds? can you explain
There was a time when “VP of communications for Facebook” sounded like a great job, I bet. That time is not now.
Updated MacOS 12 Monterey Page Reveals Safari 15 With Tabs That Look Like Tabs ★
Didn’t make today’s event, for some reason, but the updated page for MacOS 12 Monterey (shipping next Monday) shows that Safari 15 has reverted to actual tabs instead of “tabs”. Compact mode is still an option, which is great — the way this design should have been approached all along. Safari 15 on iPadOS 15.1 comes along for the ride too.
We’re left with one single design mistake in Safari 15 across all platforms: the close buttons for tabs being on the right instead of the left on iPhone. Pretty good outcome given what was shown back at WWDC.
Apple Appears to Be in a Standoff With South Korea Over New App Store Regulations ★
Apple Inc was on a collision course with South Korea on Friday
over new requirements that it stop forcing app developers to use
its payment systems, with a government official warning of a
possible investigation into the iPhone maker’s compliance. […]
The law went into effect last month but Apple had told the South
Korean government that it was already complying and did not need
to change its app store policy, a Korea Communications Commission
(KCC) official in charge of the matter told Reuters.
“This goes against the purpose of the amended law,” the official
said, requesting anonymity as the KCC was still in talks with
Apple on compliance. […]
Google had informed the KCC that it planned to comply with the
law, including allowing third-party payment systems, and would
discuss the matter with the regulator starting next week, the KCC
Apple telling South Korea that they’re already in compliance reminds of the “I told them we’ve already got one” bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Safari 15 Watch: Favorites Bar Edition ★
Jason Snell, Six Colors:
And then macOS Monterey beta 10 dropped this week, and would you
look at this:
Yep, that’s the Safari Favorites Bar, now located above
Apple similarly moved the Favorites Bar above the tabs in Safari on iPadOS 15.1 beta 4, too.
The full Bookmarks menu on iPad, alas, still remains hidden in the sidebar. That’s a weird one. In the initial WWDC previews, the Bookmarks toolbar button was removed in Safari on both iOS and iPadOS. In the late summer redesign of Safari 15 for iOS, the Bookmarks toolbar button (which you tap to access a hierarchical menu showing all your bookmarks, and which, crucially, remembers which folder you were in the next time you use it) was back where it belongs: in Safari’s bottom-of-the-screen toolbar.
Yet on iPad — which has much more room for toolbar buttons than iPhone — Bookmarks are still squirreled away in the sidebar that is primarily intended for creating, managing, and switching between Tab Groups. Tab Groups are a clever and I think useful new feature. Bookmarks do not belong over there though. Worse, every time you use the Bookmarks menu over in the sidebar on iPadOS 15, you have to navigate from the root level of your bookmarks each time. It doesn’t remember which folder you were in.
Here’s hoping that more changes to Safari 15 are coming, on both Mac and iPad.
IBM Will Follow Biden Vaccine Order, Defying Texas Ban ★
Clara Molot, reporting for Bloomberg:*
International Business Machines Corp. said it will follow President Joe Biden’s mandate requiring that employees be vaccinated against Covid-19, overriding an order from the Texas governor Monday blocking such actions.
“IBM is a federal contractor and must comply with federal requirements, which direct employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by December 8th or obtain a medical or religious accommodation,” a spokesperson for the New York-based company said. “We will continue to protect the health and safety of IBM employees and clients, and we will continue to follow federal requirements.”
More like this, please.
* You know.
Must Be in the Front Row ★
Wonderful profile of Milwaukee Brewers legend Bob Uecker — 87 and going strong in the broadcast booth — by Adam McCalvy for MLB.com:
It’s been like this in Milwaukee forever. When Uecker joined the
Brewers’ radio team in 1971, he was only four years removed from
playing the final season of a Major League career that spanned the
Milwaukee Braves, the Phillies and then the Atlanta Braves.
Then-Brewers owner Bud Selig originally hired Uecker as a scout,
but it was a failed enterprise. Selig swears that he once received
a scouting report in the mail from Uecker that was smeared with
mashed potatoes and gravy.
Leaked Promotional Shots of HTC’s New AR/VR Headset ★
Speaking of forthcoming AR/VR headsets, Evan “Evleaks” Blass has leaked a slew of marketing images for the apparently imminent HTC Vive Flow. Looks cool, in a Nite Owl sort of way. The future’s going to be weird if these things go mainstream, though.
Update: Does seem kind of suboptimal, to say the least, that it has a fan.
Magic Leap Somehow Raises Another $500 Million in Funding ★
Kim Lyons, reporting for The Verge:
Magic Leap has raised $500 million in funding and is preparing to
release a new AR headset, the Magic Leap 2, next year, the company
announced Monday. The headset will be generally available
next year, the company said, and “select customers” are using it
as part of an early access program.
CEO Peggy Johnson said in a statement that with the new funding
“Magic Leap will have greater financial flexibility and the
resources needed to continue our growth trajectory as we expand on
our industry-leading AR technology.” She revealed the new device
in an Monday appearance on CNBC.
I can’t believe this company still exists, let alone is convincing investors to give them more money.
LoveFrom Unveils a Teaser Website ★
Beautiful, simple (purely typographic), elegantly animated, and well written. But, well, it’s really just a statement.
Reload for many — seriously, many — comma animations, each delightful.
More at Wallpaper from Sarah Douglas, including details on LoveFrom Serif, the firm’s bespoke typeface.
Speaking of DF weekly sponsorships, there are just three remaining openings in the October-December quarter.
Plus, this coming week’s spot, starting Monday, remains open.
One sponsor per week, with a sponsor-written entry in the RSS feed to start the week, a thank-you post right on the homepage from me at the end, and the one and only graphic ad on every page of the site all week long. No tracking or other privacy-invasive bullshit. Just plain honest ads. That’s not new — that’s the way the ads on DF have always been. My best argument that they work: the number of repeat companies in the sponsor archive list. So if you’ve got a product or service you’d like to promote to DF’s discerning audience, I’d love to have you as a sponsor. And if you’re ready to grab next week’s opening, let’s go.
My thanks to Copilot for sponsoring last week at DF. Copilot is a personal finance tool whose only goal is to give you a bird’s-eye view of your finances, without compromising your privacy. I started using it when they booked this sponsorship, and I love it. It’s really easy to add your accounts — banks, credit cards, investments — and the UI is clear, useful, and attractive. Whether you’re interested in tracking your net worth, monthly spending, or investment returns, Copilot can do it all.
Use the code DARING when starting an in-app subscription to double Copilot’s usual one-month free trial, and see for yourself why they have a 4.8 rating in the App Store. Learn more and get started.
Ben Sandofsky on iPhone Macro Photography and Halide 2.5 ★
Ben Sandofsky, writing for the Halide blog:
The iPhone 13 Pro features a new camera capable of focusing closer
than ever before — less than an inch away. This opens a whole new
dimension for iPhone photographers, but it’s not without
surprises. Let’s take a tour of what this lens unlocks, some
clever details you might miss in its implementation, why its
“automatic” nature can catch you off guard, and much more. At the
end, we have a special surprise for you — especially those not
using an iPhone 13 Pro.
I’ll spoil it: Halide 2.5 adds a nifty macro mode for all recent iPhones, not just the iPhone 13 Pro. But of course, it works best on the iPhone 13 Pro, where it offers manual control over focus distance — useful for macro situations like trying to focus on a window pane instead of through it.
Rob Enderle, Still Kicking, Still Jackassing ★
From a Yahoo News story that’s as insipid as you suspect it is from the headline (“Decade After Jobs’ Death, Has Apple Traded Magic for Profit?”):
But are these game-changing innovations in the post-Jobs era?
“Apple lost the ability to bring out products that could
revolutionize a market,” said Tech industry analyst Rob Enderle of
Enderle Group. “They became a financially-focused company very
effective at milking its faithful users,” he added.
Enderle, in May 2015 — mere weeks after Apple Watch shipped — declared it “obsolete” and a month later called it a “failure”.
Keep in mind I linked earlier today to a survey that suggests 30 percent of U.S. teenagers now wear an Apple Watch.
Michael Dell Claims Steve Jobs Tried to License Rhapsody to Dell in 1997 ★
CNet’s Connie Guglielmo, writing about a bit from Michael Dell’s new autobiography, Play Nice But Win:
In 1997, Jobs rejoined a struggling Apple after it acquired Next
for $429 million, and he pitched Dell on another business proposal
(as Jobs was evaluating Apple’s Mac clone licensing project,
which he ultimately shut down). Jobs and his team had ported the
Mac software, based on Next’s Mach operating system, and had it
running on the Intel x86 chips that powered Dell PCs. Jobs offered
to license the Mac OS to Dell, telling him he could give PC buyers
a choice of Apple’s software or Microsoft’s Windows OS installed
on their machine.
“He said, look at this — we’ve got this Dell desktop and
it’s running Mac OS,” Dell tells me. “Why don’t you license
the Mac OS?”
I’m not saying Dell is lying, but the timeline on this doesn’t add up. In 1997, Mac OS X hadn’t even been conceived yet. In the ink-was-still-drying period after the Apple-NeXT reunification in late 1996, the next-gen OS based on NeXTStep was codenamed “Rhapsody”, and, well, it wasn’t in any shape to be licensed to anyone in 1997. Apple itself didn’t ship anything based on NeXT’s software until Mac OS X Server in 1999 and the subsequent “developer previews” — releases that still used the classic Mac OS Platinum appearance. (Which looked pretty good.) If Rhapsody wasn’t ready for Apple customers in 1997 (or 1998!) how in the world was it going to work for Dell customers?
To me it just sounds like Michael Dell spinning up a tale that makes it seem as though Dell has been the least bit relevant in the last 25 years.
Dell thought it was a great idea and told Jobs he’d pay a
licensing fee for every PC sold with the Mac OS. But Jobs had a
counteroffer: He was worried that licensing scheme might
undermine Apple’s own Mac computer sales because Dell computers
were less costly. Instead, Dell says, Jobs suggested he just load
the Mac OS alongside Windows on every Dell PC and let customers
decide which software to use — and then pay Apple for every Dell
PC sold. […]
Dell smiles when he tells the story. “The royalty he was talking
about would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, and the
math just didn’t work, because most of our customers, especially
larger business customers, didn’t really want the Mac operating
system,” he writes. “Steve’s proposal would have been interesting
if it was just us saying, “OK, we’ll pay you every time we use the
Mac OS” — but to pay him for every time we didn’t use it …
well, nice try, Steve!”
Now that sounds like Steve Jobs.
Things Support for Markdown ★
Cultured Code’s renowned to-do app Things added support for Markdown back in August. It’s really well done. You might think that as the creator of Markdown, that I’m in favor of seeing it in use everywhere. That is wrong. In fact, in recent years I think Markdown is in use in far too many places where something truly WYSIWYG is called for.
Things does Markdown right. It doesn’t hide the Markdown formatting characters, it just styles them. Effectively, the notes field for tasks in Things is still just plain text. It’s just styled nicely if you write that plain text in Markdown. That’s the right way to do Markdown. Don’t hide the formatting characters; just style/color them.
Nano-Chromatic Wallpapers ★
New iPhone? Looking for new wallpaper? Basic Apple Guy has a nifty new one.
True story: I put the dark version of this wallpaper on my iPhone 13 Pro review unit. My son came into my office, saw my lock screen, and commented that he had the same wallpaper installed. I had never once steered his attention in the direction of Basic Apple Guy. Just pure serendipity and similar taste.
Piper Sandler Survey Claims 87 Percent of U.S. Teens Carry iPhones, 30 Percent Wear an Apple Watch ★
From a note to clients by analyst Harsh Kumar that landed on my
Apple’s share of smartphone ownership remains near record highs in
Piper Sandler’s Taking Stock with Teens Fall 2021 survey (here).
Of the ~10,000 respondents, 87% have an iPhone, which is slightly
below the 88% record set in the Spring 2021 survey. In addition,
the iPhone could return to record highs due to the 88% purchase
intention among teens. […]
A record 30% of teens own an Apple Watch in the Fall 2021 survey.
Apple also has 86% market share among teen smart watch owners.
Larissa Faw, writing for Forbes in January 2013:
Ultimately, in the eyes of today’s youth, massive popularity has
watered down Apple’s coolness. “Teens are telling us Apple is
done,” says Tina Wells of the youth marketing agency Buzz
Marketing Group. “Apple has done a great job of embracing Gen X
and older [Millennials], but I don’t think they are connecting
with Millennial kids. [They’re] all about Surface tablets/laptops
Here’s a link (PDF) to the actual survey.
Achoo: HTML Source Viewer for iOS Safari 15 ★
Speaking of nifty new Safari extensions from Christian Selig, Achoo is an iOS 15 Safari extension that gives you a good “View Source” command for inspecting (and editing) the code for any web page. $1, cheap!
The AnandTech A15 SoC Performance Review ★
Andrei Frumusanu, writing for AnandTech:
In the GPU side, Apple’s peak performance improvements are off the
charts, with a combination of a new larger GPU, new architecture,
and the larger system cache that helps both performance as well as
Apple’s iPhone component design seems to be limiting the SoC from
achieving even better results, especially the newer Pro models,
however even with that being said and done, Apple remains far
above the competition in terms of performance and efficiency.
Overall, while the A15 isn’t the brute force iteration we’ve
become used to from Apple in recent years, it very much comes with
substantial generational gains that allow it to be a notably
better SoC than the A14. In the end, it seems like Apple’s SoC
team has executed well after all.
A thorough review, as usual. Interesting to contrast with Dylan Patel’s much-publicized “Apple CPU Gains Grind to a Halt and the Future Looks Dim” hot take last month, just after the Apple event. The A15 seems more about efficiency — and thus extending battery life — than going faster, but it does go faster, too.
Understanding How Facebook Disappeared From the Internet ★
Tom Strickx and Celso Martinho, writing for the Cloudflare blog:
“Facebook can’t be down, can it?”, we thought, for a second.
Today at 1651 UTC, we opened an internal incident entitled “Facebook DNS lookup returning SERVFAIL” because we were worried that something was wrong with our DNS resolver 184.108.40.206. But as we were about to post on our public status page we realized something else more serious was going on.
Social media quickly burst into flames, reporting what our engineers rapidly confirmed too. Facebook and its affiliated services WhatsApp and Instagram were, in fact, all down. Their DNS names stopped resolving, and their infrastructure IPs were unreachable. It was as if someone had “pulled the cables” from their data centers all at once and disconnected them from the Internet.
How’s that even possible?
DNS is deep dark stuff, and even at the pidgin level at which Daring Fireball operates, it terrifies me. Can’t even imagine how complicated it is at Facebook’s scale. What a fiasco.
Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram Down Due to DNS Outage ★
Sergiu Gatlan, BleepingComputer:
Users worldwide are reporting that they are unable to access
Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, instead seeing errors that the
sites can’t be reached.
When attempting to open any of the three sites, they are given
DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN errors and advised to check if there
is a typo in the domain entered in the address bar.
DNS, man. Wheeee!
Company That Routes Billions of Text Messages Quietly Says It Was Hacked ★
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, reporting for Motherboard:
A company that is a critical part of the global telecommunications
infrastructure used by AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and several others
around the world such as Vodafone and China Mobile, quietly
disclosed that hackers were inside its systems for years,
impacting more than 200 of its clients and potentially millions of
cellphone users worldwide.
The company, Syniverse, revealed in a filing dated September 27
with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission that an
unknown “individual or organization gained unauthorized access to
databases within its network on several occasions, and that login
information allowing access to or from its Electronic Data
Transfer (EDT) environment was compromised for approximately 235
of its customers.”
For a moment I thought, 235 customers — that’s not too bad. Then I realized that Syniverse’s “customers” are entire carriers, not individual people. So, yeah, this is bad.
Syniverse repeatedly declined to answer specific questions from
Motherboard about the scale of the breach and what specific data
was affected, but according to a person who works at a telephone
carrier, whoever hacked Syniverse could have had access to
metadata such as length and cost, caller and receiver’s numbers,
the location of the parties in the call, as well as the content of
SMS text messages. […]
The company wrote that it discovered the breach in May 2021, but
that the hack began in May of 2016.
Not what you want.
The Problem With ‘The Problem With Jon Stewart’ ★
John Jurgensen, writing for The Wall Street Journal (News+):
Now he’s attempting to re-engage with a show that offers fewer
jokes and a more earnest agenda. With his new biweekly series,
“The Problem With Jon Stewart,” his first challenge is getting
people to notice it at all. Apple TV+ is decidedly more plush but
less entrenched than basic cable.
Fans will find aspects of “The Problem With Jon Stewart” familiar.
In front of an audience, he sits at a table for an opening
monologue (now wearing a T-shirt and bomber jacket instead of a
suit and tie). He twirls his pen, pauses for deadpan stares into
the camera, stifles giggles behind his fist and makes
self-deprecating cracks like, “I am what’s left of Jon Stewart.”
Breaking from his previous format, the show includes unscripted
segments in the show’s writers’ room, where Mr. Stewart and his
staff banter over each episode’s topic (expanded on in a weekly
companion podcast). A separate panel discussion captures the
show’s sober tone.
I watched the first episode and was bored to tears. I certainly sympathize with the plight of U.S. veterans who’ve been gravely harmed by the burning of toxic waste, but the show itself felt like a droll hour-long lecture — not a good sign when the show was in fact only 40 minutes long. Strong “When is this going to be over?” vibes. It was like being stuck back in school.
I’m not saying Stewart can or should only do comedy. I like serious issue-based shows, too, but the good ones, like 60 Minutes, move along at a fast clip. John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight devotes itself to the most serious issues in the world today, but the show is entertaining, fast-paced, and funny as hell. It moves. The premiere of The Problem With Jon Stewart can only be described as “plodding”. I’ll give it another shot this week, but one more like last week’s and I’m out.
Kevin Roose: ‘Facebook Is Weaker Than We Knew’ ★
Kevin Roose’s take on the inside look at Facebook revealed by The Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files” series, which in turn is based on Frances Haugen’s whistleblower leaks:
It’s far too early to declare Facebook dead. The company’s stock
price has risen nearly 30 percent in the past year, lifted by
strong advertising revenue and a spike in use of some products
during the pandemic. Facebook is still growing in countries
outside the United States, and could succeed there even if it
stumbles domestically. And the company has invested heavily in
newer initiatives, like augmented and virtual reality products,
that could turn the tide if they’re successful.
But Facebook’s research tells a clear story, and it’s not a happy
one. Its younger users are flocking to Snapchat and TikTok, and
its older users are posting anti-vaccine memes and arguing about
politics. Some Facebook products are actively shrinking, while
others are merely making their users angry or self-conscious.
Facebook’s declining relevance with young people shouldn’t
necessarily make its critics optimistic. History teaches us that
social networks rarely age gracefully, and that tech companies can
do a lot of damage on the way down.
Frances Haugen, Facebook Whistleblower, on 60 Minutes ★
Keith Zubrow, writing for 60 Minutes Overtime:
Haugen stated that some of Facebook’s own research found that
“angry content” is more likely to receive engagement, something
that content producers and political parties are aware of.
“One of the most shocking pieces of information that I brought out
of Facebook that I think is essential to this disclosure is
political parties have been quoted, in Facebook’s own research,
saying, we know you changed how you pick out the content that goes
in the home feed,” said Haugen. “And now if we don’t publish
angry, hateful, polarizing, divisive content, crickets. We don’t
get anything. And we don’t like this. We know our constituents
don’t like this. But if we don’t do these stories, we don’t get
distributed. And so it used to be that we did very little of it,
and now we have to do a lot of it, because we have jobs to do. And
if we don’t get traffic and engagement, we’ll lose our jobs.”
Haugen’s whistleblowing jibes exactly with my theory all along: Facebook prioritizes growth and engagement over all else, and when they discovered that polarizing angering content drives engagement more than anything else, they let it fly. It’s that simple.
Apple Watch Series 7 Orders Start This Friday, and a Bonus Spitball Theory About the Much-Rumored Flat-Sided Design ★
Apple today announced Apple Watch Series 7, featuring the largest
and most advanced Apple Watch display ever — and a reengineered
Always-On Retina display with significantly more screen area and
thinner borders — will be available to order beginning Friday,
October 8, at 5 a.m. PDT and available in stores starting Friday,
So the Series 7 watches are only shipping three weeks after the iPhones 13. Not bad, but let’s see how supply-constrained they are.
While I’m writing about Apple Watch, let me put on the record my theory about the flat-sides industrial design that a slew of rumor guys claimed was coming for Series 7, but in fact, did not. (I put forth this theory on the latest episode of The Talk Show, with guest Jason Snell.)
My guess is that the flat-sided design is real, and it’s making its way through Apple’s supply chain, which is how it leaked. But it clearly was never intended for Series 7 — Series 7 is an altogether different new industrial design. So my theory is that the flat-sided design is for the next-generation Apple Watch SE. The current SE debuted a year ago, alongside the Apple Watch Series 6, so I wouldn’t expect a second-generation SE until, say, April of next year at the earliest, but perhaps more likely a year from now, alongside the Series 8 models.
The problem, from a product marketing perspective, with the existing Apple Watch SE is that it looks exactly like a Series 6. With the iPhones, the SE models always look older — the original SE looked like an iPhone 5/5S (when the new models had moved to the bigger iPhone 6/7/8 sizes), and the second-gen SE looks like an iPhone 6/7/8 (while the new models are now all derived from the iPhone X design).
There is no “old” industrial design for Apple Watch SE to follow that is distinguishable at a mere glance as a lower-cost budget model. The flat-sided look would do that. I’m not saying the flat-sided design would look bad, per se, but I am convinced that — if it ever does ship — it will look more utilitarian. It’s not a premium design. It’s plain.