Linked List: December 2022

The Talk Show: ‘Measure Seven Times, Cut Once’ 

Glenn Fleishman returns to the show to talk about reported setbacks in Apple’s silicon division, the LastPass vault leak and password management, and the frontiers of social networking. Also, the joys of modern air travel during the holidays.

Sponsored by:

  • Linode: Instantly deploy and manage an SSD server in the Linode Cloud. New accounts get a $100 credit.
  • Kolide: The cross-platform endpoint security solution for teams that value privacy and transparency.
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
Pelé Dies at 82 

The AP:

Pelé, the Brazilian king of football who won a record three World Cups and became one of the most commanding sports figures of the last century, died on Thursday. He was 82. […]

He was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in 1997. When he visited Washington to help popularise the game in North America, it was the U.S. president who stuck out his hand first.

“My name is Ronald Reagan, I’m the president of the United States of America,” the host said to his visitor. “But you don’t need to introduce yourself because everyone knows who Pelé is.”

There was just something about Pelé — an infectious enthusiasm. He spread joy.

Kansas Governor Imposes TikTok Ban on State-Issued Devices 

The AP:

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly banned the use of TikTok on the state-issued devices of government workers under her control on Wednesday, becoming one of the first Democratic governors to restrict the popular social media app.

Kelly’s action came five days after Congress approved the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices for employees. Republican governors in at least 15 states have already imposed such restrictions.

This should not be a partisan issue. What I’d like to see:

  1. A federal ban on TikTok. A flat-out ban.
  2. App store bans on TikTok from Apple and Google.
  3. IT bans at the company/institutional level.

The fact that TikTok is phenomenally popular is not a reason to let it slide — it’s exactly the reason it is urgent to ban it. The CCP is using TikTok to spy on people worldwide, and promote CCP-friendly propaganda. We know that. And yet nobody is taking action. However unpopular such bans might initially be, I think most people will understand when it’s explained that the whole thing is a front for CCP spying and invasive surveillance. (We probably ought to ban everything from Tencent next.)

Southwest Airlines Has Fallen Apart 

Amy Qin, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, and Steve Lohr, reporting for The New York Times:

Thousands of travelers were stranded at U.S. airports on Monday as a wave of canceled flights — many of them operated by Southwest Airlines — spoiled holiday plans and kept families from returning home during one of the busiest and most stressful travel stretches of the year. The cancellations and delays one day after Christmas left people sleeping on airport floors, standing in hourslong customer service lines and waiting on tarmacs for hours on end.

The problems are likely to continue into Tuesday and later this week. As of Monday night, about 2,600 U.S. flights scheduled for Tuesday were already canceled, including 60 percent of all Southwest flights.

Bill Gurley, on Twitter:

The crazy thing about this is that throughout my lifetime, Southwest has been the VERY best airline when it comes to execution. Unquestionably. The leader. Which makes this all the more surprising. Interested to hear how it all happened. Sorry for all those stranded.

I too was surprised to see Southwest handling this so badly. For the last decade or so I’ve mostly flown American, because they have such a dominant position in Philadelphia and I’ve racked up a slew of points and status with them. But before that I flew on Southwest frequently, and was always impressed by their combination of low prices, great execution, and their outstanding, very friendly customer service. One time I missed a flight home to Philly from Chicago, and I expected it would be a hassle — and expensive — to get rebooked. Instead, I was on the phone for no more than five minutes, and they rebooked me on the very next MDW-PHL flight for no charge. I don’t think that would have happened with any other airline. Southwest also has, in my experience, the very best flight attendants in the industry.

From what I’ve gathered, Southwest’s problem this week is a combination of an outdated scheduling system and their generally high efficiency. They keep roughly 90 percent of their planes in service all day every day, but that means when something unexpected happens — like this past week’s weather across the country — the entire system is susceptible to falling apart. They now effectively need to “reboot”, and that might take an entire week. In normal times, Southwest is better than its competitors because they operate differently; now those differences have grounded most of their fleet. They cancelled a staggering 2,600 flights yesterday, 2,400 today, and 2,300 (and counting) for tomorrow. And keep in mind that part of Southwest’s efficiency is that their flights generally fly full — that adds up to over 300,000 stranded passengers per day this week. They expect only to be up to 1,500 flights by Friday — just one third of their usual schedule. Mind boggling chaos.

This is going to be a brutal reputational hit. It’s been a difficult week for all U.S. airlines, but only Southwest has completely fallen apart. Delays are one thing, but being stranded for days on end while other airlines are functioning is hard to forgive.

LastPass Admits Hackers Stole Customers’ Password Vaults 

Zack Whittaker, reporting for TechCrunch:

In an updated blog post on its disclosure, LastPass CEO Karim Toubba said the intruders took a copy of a backup of customer vault data by using cloud storage keys stolen from a LastPass employee. The cache of customer password vaults is stored in a “proprietary binary format” that contains both unencrypted and encrypted vault data, but technical and security details of this proprietary format weren’t specified. The unencrypted data includes vault-stored web addresses. It’s not clear how recent the stolen backups are.

LastPass said customers’ password vaults are encrypted and can only be unlocked with the customers’ master password, which is only known to the customer. But the company warned that the cybercriminals behind the intrusion “may attempt to use brute force to guess your master password and decrypt the copies of vault data they took.”

In one sense this is a triumph for secure password managers. Even if we get hacked, the hackers can’t access your passwords. That’s true for LastPass. But they did get hacked, badly, so for LastPass this seems devastating. It’s a second-order disaster for an attacker to steal users’ encrypted vaults, but it’s stills a disaster. Anyone who uses LastPass who hasn’t spent today moving to something else — me personally, I use, trust, and very much enjoy iCloud Keychain — either hasn’t heard about this breach or is an idiot.

PCalc Turns 30 

James Thomson:

PCalc actually started out in 1992 as a design for a central heating control panel.

Twitter Adds ‘View Counts’ for Tweets 

If flop sweat could be manifested in a user interface idea, this is it.

(Interesting thread here from former Twitter employee Paul Stamatiou on why Twitter abandoned this idea back in 2015, when first they tried it.)

TikTok Spied on Forbes Journalists 

Emily Baker-White, reporting for Forbes:

An internal investigation by ByteDance, the parent company of video-sharing platform TikTok, found that employees tracked multiple journalists covering the company, improperly gaining access to their IP addresses and user data in an attempt to identify whether they had been in the same locales as ByteDance employees.

According to materials reviewed by Forbes, ByteDance tracked multiple Forbes journalists as part of this covert surveillance campaign, which was designed to unearth the source of leaks inside the company following a drumbeat of stories exposing the company’s ongoing links to China. As a result of the investigation into the surveillance tactics, ByteDance fired Chris Lepitak, its chief internal auditor who led the team responsible for them. The China-based executive Song Ye, who Lepitak reported to and who reports directly to ByteDance CEO Rubo Liang, resigned. [...]

Forbes first reported the surveillance tactics, which were overseen by a China-based team at ByteDance, in October. Asked for comment on that story, ByteDance and TikTok did not deny the surveillance, but took to Twitter after the story was published to say that “TikTok has never been used to ‘target’ any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures or journalists,” and that “TikTok could not monitor U.S. users in the way the article suggested.” In the internal email, Liang acknowledged that TikTok had been used in exactly this way, as Forbes had reported.

I feel like I’m shouting into the void on this issue, but I will reiterate that Chinese-owned internet services should be banned in the United States, and TikTok exemplifies why. Just ban it.

The Talk Show: ‘Permanent September’ 

Rene Ritchie returns to the show to talk about recent news (Twitter, Freeform, iCloud Advanced Data Protection, the EU’s new Digital Markets Act) and Apple’s 2022 year in review.

Brought to you by these fine sponsors:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
  • Trade Coffee: Incredible coffee delivered fresh from the best roasters in the nation.
  • Kolide: Cross-platform endpoint security for teams that value privacy and transparency.
  • Memberful: Monetize your passion with membership. Start your free trial today.
Yours Truly on the Sub Club Podcast With David Barnard and Jacob Eiting 

Sub Club:

On the podcast we talk with John about the far reaching implications of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, how app developers should be thinking about the opportunities created, and why Apple making so much money from the App Store might be bad for Apple long-term.

That last point is the nut of it. It’s a nuanced argument, but I’ll go to the mat that the App Store’s financial success is the worst thing that’s happened to Apple this century. It’s a distraction at best, and a profound corruption at worst.

How Apple Names Things 

Cool data visualization of Apple product trademarks by Nicolas Kruchten.

New De-Banding Feature in Pixelmator Pro 

From the Pixelmator blog:

Color banding (or posterization) is a common type of image artifact especially noticeable in low-quality photos featuring gradients or large areas of solid color. Instead of smoothly blending together, colors jump abruptly from one shade to the next, forming distinct bands of color. While posterization isn’t particularly difficult to get rid of — you can blur it out or add noise to hide it — it is very much a labor-intensive task. Or, it was. With the magic of machine learning, we’ve been able to turn color debanding into an effortless, one-click process. And the results are simply incredible!

On the surface this might not seem like a particularly impressive machine learning feature, but if you’ve ever tried fixing a banding problem like this, you know how cool this is.

Ming-Chi Kuo: ‘Apple Will Likely Cancel or Postpone the Mass Production Plan for the 2024 iPhone SE 4’ 

Ming-Chi Kuo, on Twitter:

My latest survey indicates that Apple will likely cancel or postpone the mass production plan for the 2024 iPhone SE 4. I think this is due to the consistently lower-than-expected shipments of mid-to-low-end iPhones (e.g., SE 3, 13 mini, and 14 Plus), as well as concerns that the full-screen design of the SE 4 will lead to an increase in higher costs/selling prices. As a result, Apple may need to reconsider the product positioning and return on investment for the SE 4.

The iPhone SE 3, with 2021’s A15 chip but still based on the iPhone 6/7/8 form factor, shipped in March this year. The rumor mill pegged the SE 4 to be based on the iPhone XR/iPhone 11 design — 6.1-inch “all-screen” design but not OLED — which makes a lot of sense for a form factor to move the SE to the post-home-button world. March 2024 is a ways off, so I’m thinking either Ming-Chi Kuo is just hearing chatter from suppliers and we’ll still see an XR/11-based SE 4 in 2024, or, if he’s right that it’s cancelled or postponed, then Apple will keep selling the iPhone SE 3 through 2025.

My gut feeling still says we’ll see a XR/11-based SE 4 with an A16 chip in spring 2024.

E.U. to Mandate ‘Easily’ Replaceable Batteries 

European Parliament press release last week:

Three and a half years after the entry into force of the legislation, portable batteries in appliances must be designed so that consumers can easily remove and replace them themselves.

Pocketnow picked this up and speculates that “easily” here means something akin to the decades-ago era when you could just pop the back off of a phone without tools and swap the battery. That’s not going to happen. As pertains to Apple devices, I think “easily” is encompassed by the Self Service Repair program. Which, well, isn’t really easy. So I suppose we shall see what the E.U. intends here.

Google Appears on the Cusp of Securing NFL Sunday Ticket for YouTube 

Joe Flint and Miles Kruppa, reporting yesterday for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

The National Football League is in advanced talks to give Google’s YouTube exclusive rights to NFL Sunday Ticket, a subscription-only package that allows football fans to watch most Sunday afternoon games, people familiar with the matter said.

Under the scenario being discussed, NFL games would be available to be streamed on two subscription services, YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels, next season. [...] YouTube TV, a $64.99-a-month online bundle of cable channels, crossed more than 5 million subscriptions and trial accounts in June, according to the company. Primetime Channels, which launched in November, allows viewers to individually subscribe to more than 30 streaming services.

Sunday Ticket would be offered as an add-on to both services, the people familiar with the potential agreement said.

For most of the last year, the Sunday Ticket rights were considered Apple’s to lose, but in recent weeks it began to seem clear that Apple and the NFL couldn’t come to terms. One point of contention was pricing — not the annual price Apple would pay the NFL for the rights, but the price to be charged to fans to watch the games. According to a report from Sportico (paywalled; The Verge has a summary), Apple wanted to include the Sunday Ticket games as part of the basic $7/month Apple TV+ package. The NFL, apparently, wanted Sunday Ticket to remain a premium add-on no matter who obtained the rights.

More broadly, a CNBC report from back in October suggests that Apple wanted flexibility on what they’d be allowed to do with the rights — flexibility the NFL didn’t want to offer. From that October CNBC report:

Apple isn’t interested in simply acting as a conduit for broadcasting games, according to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services. Cue oversees Apple’s media and sports partnerships and its streaming service, Apple TV+. Apple is looking for partnerships with sports leagues in which it can offer consumers more than standard rights agreements — such as having free rein to offer games globally or in local markets. Apple has that type of deal with Major League Soccer, a 10-year partnership that begins in 2023.

“We weren’t interested in buying sports rights,” Cue said this week at a Paley Center for Media panel in New York. “There’s all kinds of capabilities that we’re going to be able to do together because we have everything together. And so if I have a great idea, I don’t have to think about, OK, well, my contract or the deal of interest will allow this.”

Quora Is Beta Testing an AI Chatbot 

Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo:

Today we are starting a beta test for a new product called Poe. Short for “Platform for Open Exploration”, it lets people ask questions, get instant answers, and have back-and-forth dialogue with AI. Poe will initially be available on iOS, and it will be invite only until we work out scalability, get feedback from beta testers, and address any other issues that come up. After we get through this phase, we will open up to everyone and add support for all platforms.

Way of the future.

FTC Fines Epic Games $520 Million for Children’s Privacy Violations and In-Game Purchase Dark Patterns in Fortnite 

Sara Morrison, writing for Recode:

Epic Games, the maker of the very popular Fortnite series, is paying two of the largest settlements in Federal Trade Commission (FTC) history over children’s privacy violations and “dark patterns” that intentionally tricked users into making purchases through manipulative design.

The settlements, announced on Monday, require Epic to pay a total of $520 million for the two consumer protection issues: $275 million for the privacy violations and $245 million for making it easy for consumers to purchase items accidentally and very difficult for them to cancel or refund those purchases. That money will be refunded to consumers; it’s the largest refund amount in a gaming case as well as the largest administrative order in FTC history. The $275 million penalty is the largest ever for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA (the previous FTC record of $136 million was held by Google over YouTube videos aimed at children).

Epic indeed. Almost enough to make you think gaming platforms have a customer-focused interest in enforcing privacy rules and controlling in-game payments.

‘Lionel Messi Rewrote Soccer History in the Best-Ever World Cup Final’ 

Brian Phillips, writing for The Ringer:

OK, I’m going to do my best here. But I need you to know exactly what you are getting, as Joan Didion once wrote, and what you are getting is a man who cannot feel his face. My hands are still shaking. There are tears in my eyes. I’m writing this less than 10 minutes after the end of the greatest World Cup final ever, which Lionel Messi’s Argentina won on penalties over Kylian Mbappé’s France, and I do not believe it is recency bias that makes me think that this match was the single most thrilling sporting event I have ever witnessed. Every game is a story. And when you consider the stakes, the performances, the history in the balance, the refusal of either side to lose, the moments of astonishing play, the sudden reversals and wild swings of momentum, the knife’s-edge uncertainty of the outcome, and the epochal significance of a result that brought the career of the world’s best player to an almost magically perfect climax, it is hard to imagine a story more overwhelming or more satisfying than this one.

There’s something so pure — I want to say so innocent — about a story like this. It’s a story that feels lifted from a children’s book, a story unblemished by the disappointments and compromises and hypocrisies inescapable in adult life. This is, in a way, the essence of sport’s appeal to us. It lets us escape, for a few hours at a time, into a better world.

I am not a soccer fan, really, but in 2014 I started getting into the World Cup. Yesterday’s World Cup final was just remarkable: fun, dramatic, exciting, brilliant. Phillips’s take captures it all.

Musk Steers Twitter Right Into the Iceberg, Bans All Links to All Other Social Media Sites 

New Twitter policy:

At both the Tweet level and the account level, we will remove any free promotion of prohibited 3rd-party social media platforms, such as linking out (i.e. using URLs) to any of the below platforms on Twitter, or providing your handle without a URL.

Prohibited platforms:

  • Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Post and Nostr
  • 3rd-party social media link aggregators such as,


  • “follow me @username on Instagram”
  • [email protected]
  • “check out my profile on Facebook -”

Anyone who thinks this policy is even vaguely acceptable (or enforceable — good luck banning human cleverness at eluding regex patterns) can have Twitter. Enjoy it. What a goof.

Update: Late last night Twitter apparently rescinded the entire new linking policy. Steady hands at the helm.

Couple in Car Survive 300-Foot Fall Into a California Canyon 

Michael Levenson, reporting for The New York Times:

Ms. Fields said her phone had instructed her to point it toward a satellite and hold it there, which allowed her to summon help.

“It was honestly strange,” Ms. Fields said, adding that although she is a “very techie kind of a person,” she had not known about the satellite feature.

The Sheriff’s Department said it had received a call at about 1:55 p.m. from Apple’s emergency call center and had dispatched the Montrose Search and Rescue Team, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and other agencies.

Sergeant Gilbert said the call center had given the authorities an accurate latitude and longitude for Ms. Fields and Mr. Zelada’s location. He said he was not aware of anyone else who had called to report the crash, “so there was a high potential they could have been stuck in the canyon after midnight.”

“Dear Tim, …”

Reality on Reality’s Terms 

Peter Kafka, writing at Vox:

But I think we’re better off if we face reality on reality’s terms: One of the richest men in history bought something many of us use and like. Because he could. And now he’s going to run it based on his whims. Because he can.

The William Randolph Hearst of the digital age.

John Carmack Is Leaving Facebook 

Ryan Mac and David McCabe, reporting for The New York Times:

John Carmack, a pioneer of virtual reality technology, is leaving Meta after more than eight years at the company, according to an internal post reviewed by The New York Times.

When I linked to Carmack’s self-described “grumpy” keynote talk at the virtual Meta Connect conference two months ago, I thought to myself that he didn’t sound like a guy who was happy where he was or felt like he had much influence.

Update: Carmack, on Twitter:

I resigned from Meta, and my internal post got leaked to the press, resulting in some fragmented quotes. Here is the full thing:

“The full thing”, alas, requires a Facebook account to see. But I’ve put a copy here for posterity. Carmack writes:

We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort. There is no way to sugar coat this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy. Some may scoff and contend we are doing just fine, but others will laugh and say “Half? Ha! I’m at quarter efficiency!”

It has been a struggle for me. I have a voice at the highest levels here, so it feels like I should be able to move things, but I’m evidently not persuasive enough. A good fraction of the things I complain about eventually turn my way after a year or two passes and evidence piles up, but I have never been able to kill stupid things before they cause damage, or set a direction and have a team actually stick to it. I think my influence at the margins has been positive, but it has never been a prime mover.

Mark Zuckerberg should be embarassed that Carmack is this frustrated and disappointed, and prepared for Facebook to get its ass handed to it in this market, probably next year.

Donald Trump Teased a ‘Major Announcement’ That Turned Out to Be Just an NFT Scam 

Molly White:

Trump supporters got all excited when Trump posted on social media to tease a “major announcement”. Was he going to run for speaker of the House? Return to Twitter? Unveil a presidential running mate?

His supporters were surprised — and not exactly thrilled — when the announcement turned out to be a collection of 45,000 NFTs (sorry, “digital trading cards”) featuring artwork of himself in heroic outfits and poses. The NFTs are “just” $99 apiece, and money goes to Trump, not his campaign.

Even some of his strongest supporters were nonplussed. Steve Bannon said, “I can’t do this anymore,” and opined that he should fire whoever advised him to make the collection.

The speaker of the House theory is based on the little-known fact that the Constitution does not require the speaker to be a sitting member of the House of Representatives. But, to date, every speaker has been. But Trump supporters got excited by his hyped “major announcement”, jumped the conclusion that he’d announce a bid to serve as speaker, and once speaker, would like shut down the whole federal government and lead impeachment hearings against, presumably, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and then, as speaker, he’d become president again. Or something like.

But instead, it was just an NFT scam for a collection of comic-book-style illustrations of Trump himself in various roles like superhero, astronaut, firefighter, cowboy, quarterback, etc. Imagine the Village People where everyone in the band is a slim, young, steroidally muscular Donald Trump. $99 a pop, and of course his idiot supporters bought them up.


The ‘Barbie’ Trailer Is, Like, Really Good 

Words I didn’t expect to write today: the new teaser trailer for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is outstanding. If you do something like this, it only works if you do it right, and this is just exquisitely well-done. And it warms my heart that they think the Barbie target demographic will get the reference. Trust me, watch this one.

Twitter Suspends Accounts of Numerous Journalists, Presumably for Pissing off the Boss 

Mike Isaac and Kate Conger, reporting for The New York Times:

Twitter suspended the accounts of roughly half a dozen prominent journalists on Thursday, the latest change by the social media service under its new owner, Elon Musk.

The accounts suspended included Ryan Mac of The New York Times; Drew Harwell of The Washington Post; Aaron Rupar, an independent journalist; Donie O’Sullivan of CNN; Matt Binder of Mashable; Tony Webster, an independent journalist; Micah Lee of The Intercept; and the political journalist Keith Olbermann. It was unclear what the suspensions had in common; each user’s Twitter page included a message that said it suspended account that “violated the Twitter rules.”

Apparently I’m a very slow learner on the “Elon Musk is an absolute shithead” front, but this purge is genuinely shocking to me. I was really in for the “more tweets, even from people you flat-out despise” idea.

Jason Snell: ‘Answering the Burning Questions About Apple’s Reported App Store Plans’ 

Jason Snell:

What’s the world going to look like after this happens?

You know. Round… blue. Pretty much the same as now. I really have a hard time seeing most members of the public turning off App Store protections and installing separate App Stores. Yes, it will happen, but the Play Store is still the place to be on Android, despite its long-time support for sideloading. In fact, Android developers have found that leaving the Play Store and going it alone is quite bad for business. Bet on the status quo.

Snell’s detailed take on this story is exemplary, and (I hate to say) much more cohesive than my own, primarily, I think, because he didn’t waste the time I did trying to parse the letter of the law in the E.U.’s Digital Markets Act. But the above encapsulates both how I think this will turn out in the end (not that big a deal), and my frustrations with Apple not self-regulating to open iOS on its own terms years ago.

I also think Snell’s summary explains the disdain for this effort within Apple itself. Mark Gurman reported:

Apple is applying a significant amount of resources to the companywide endeavor. It hasn’t been a popular initiative within Apple, considering that the company has spent years decrying the need for “sideloading” — the process of installing software without using the official App Store. [...] Some engineers working on the plan also see it as distraction from typical day-to-day development of future features, according to the people.

Maybe you think Tim Cook and Apple’s leadership care mostly or even only about the money generated by App Store commissions. I won’t argue with you about that here. But Apple’s engineers and system designers do not care about those commission rates. They just want to spend their time building great features people will actually use, that will make Apple’s platforms better. I think Apple is spending an inordinate amount of time and effort to comply with the E.U.’s DMA to build features and OS subsystems that will provide little to no practical benefits to actual users, and if anything, will likely be setbacks on the privacy front.

One More for the ‘Everything Is Going Just Fine at Twitter’ File 

Ryan Mac, Mike Isaac, and Kate Conger, reporting yesterday for The New York Times:

To cut costs, Twitter has not paid rent for its San Francisco headquarters or any of its global offices for weeks, three people close to the company said. Twitter has also refused to pay a $197,725 bill for private charter flights made the week of Mr. Musk’s takeover, according to a copy of a lawsuit filed in New Hampshire District Court and obtained by The New York Times.

Twitter’s leaders have also discussed the consequences of denying severance payments to thousands of people who have been laid off since the takeover, two people familiar with the talks said. And Mr. Musk has threatened employees with lawsuits if they talk to the media and “act in a manner contrary to the company’s interest,” according to an internal email sent last Friday.

Seems more than a bit euphemistic to describe not paying rent or promised severence packages as mere cost-cutting measures. And it also seems like an inauspicious time to shake up the company’s legal department.

Platformer: Twitter Considering Making Personalized Ads and Location Sharing Mandatory 

Zoë Schiffer and Casey Newton, reporting for Platformer:

And it’s not just personalized ads that Twitter plans to require. The company is also considering forcing users to share their location, let Twitter share their data with its business partners, and use contact data phone numbers used in two-factor authentication for ad targeting purposes. (In May, Twitter paid a $150 million fine for doing this without obtaining users consent.)

Personalized ads have become increasingly important to social networks since the launch last year of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature. [...] ATT represented a significant blow to Twitter’s business as well: less than 35 percent of users opted in, multiple sources said. About 23 percent of users opted out of sharing their location data as well.

Twitter’s solution: require users to opt in to personalized ads and share their location information, or risk losing access to the service. The company is developing plans to prompt existing users to opt in to personalized ads and will make it the default for new users, according to plans shared with Platformer.

This sounds awful, of course. But it’s so awful that it’s hard to see how it could be successful. And it doesn’t make a ton of sense: if only 23 percent of users opted out of location sharing, why bother trying to force them to? But, as we’ve seen, “doesn’t make a ton of sense” doesn’t mean Twitter isn’t going to try it under Elon Musk.

‘The Meadows Texts: A Plot to Overturn an American Election’ 

Hunter Walker, reporting for TPM:

The messages you are about to read are the definitive, real-time record of a plot to overturn an American election.

TPM has obtained the 2,319 text messages that Mark Meadows, who was President Trump’s last White House chief of staff, turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Today, we are publishing The Meadows Texts, a series based on an in-depth analysis of these extraordinary — and disturbing — communications.

The vast majority of Meadows’ texts described in this series are being made public for the very first time. They show the senior-most official in the Trump White House communicating with members of Congress, state-level politicians, and far-right activists as they work feverishly to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. The Meadows texts illustrate in moment-to-moment detail an authoritarian effort to undermine the will of the people and upend the American democratic system as we know it.

This trove of messages would be quite the scoop for any news organization, but it’s particularly remarkable for a small independent publication like TPM.

U.S. Scientists Achieve Nuclear Fusion Energy Breakthrough 

Kenneth Chang, reporting for The New York Times:

Within the sun and stars, fusion continually combines hydrogen atoms into helium, producing sunlight and warmth that bathes the planets. In experimental reactors and laser labs on Earth, fusion lives up to its reputation as a very clean energy source. There was always a nagging caveat, however. In all of the efforts by scientists to control the unruly power of fusion, their experiments consumed more energy than the fusion reactions generated.

That changed at 1:03 a.m. on Dec. 5 when 192 giant lasers at the laboratory’s National Ignition Facility blasted a small cylinder about the size of a pencil eraser that contained a frozen nubbin of hydrogen encased in diamond. [...]

In a brief moment lasting less than 100 trillionths of a second, 2.05 megajoules of energy — roughly the equivalent of a pound of TNT — bombarded the hydrogen pellet. Out flowed a flood of neutron particles — the product of fusion — which carried about 3 megajoules of energy, a factor of 1.5 in energy gain.

How tempting it must have been to include the adjective frigging in the phrase “192 giant lasers”.

Twitter Blue Relaunches With a Higher Price for App Store Users 

Ashley Capoot, reporting for CNBC:

Twitter relaunched its updated Twitter Blue subscription service Monday after the company’s new owner Elon Musk pulled and delayed the launch in November.

The service costs $8 a month for web users and $11 a month for iOS users who purchase it through Apple’s App Store. The $3 iOS price difference reflects Musk’s recent gripes about Apple’s 30% cut of all digital sales made through apps.

If I recall correctly, in the early years of the App Store, Apple had a rule that developers couldn’t charge more through the App Store than they do via the web. That was a long time ago, though. This feels like the best and easiest way to deal with Apple’s App Store commission.

See also: Twitter’s updated product page describing the features of Twitter Blue. I’ve been happily paying for it ever since it launched for the Top Articles feature alone. Remember Nuzzel? Twitter Blue’s Top Articles feature is basically Nuzzel, but built into Twitter’s own app.

The Future of Foundation: A Rewrite in Swift 

Tony Parker, writing for Apple on the Swift website:

Today, we are announcing a new open source Foundation project, written in Swift, for Swift. This achieves a number of technical goals:

  • No more wrapped C code. With a native Swift implementation of Foundation, the framework no longer pays conversion costs between C and Swift, resulting in faster performance. A Swift implementation, developed as a package, also makes it easier for Swift developers to inspect, understand, and contribute code.
  • Provide the option of smaller, more granular packages. Rewriting Foundation provides an opportunity to match its architecture to evolving use cases. Developers want to keep their binary sizes small, and a new FoundationEssentials package will provide the most important types in Foundation with no system dependencies to help accomplish this. [...]
  • Unify Foundation implementations. Multiple implementations of any API risks divergent behavior and ultimately bugs when moving code across platforms. This new Foundation package will serve as the core of a single, canonical implementation of Foundation, regardless of platform.

A new pure-Swift implementation of Foundation is nerdy news, to be sure, but it really is as important as the name “Foundation” implies.

Michael Tsai has a good post highlighting a few of the advantages this project should yield going forward.

See also: Timac’s analysis of Apple’s growing use of Swift and SwiftUI in the company’s own iOS apps.

Ken White: ‘Goodbye, Twitter’ 

Ken White, writing at The Popehat Report:

I messed around on the internet in the days of screeching dial-up modems, but I didn’t really start to contribute regularly to online communities until 1995 or so. I met my wife on the Usenet back before that would inspire a gasp of horror; it’s been mostly unusable for decades. I participated in communities on AOL and Prodigy and a few of the other dinosaur provider/forums. I spent lots of time on an etiquette forum until they kicked me off for rudeness (best thing really; my tutoring was going nowhere). I spent lots of time on the Snopes forums, a gaming forum called Gone Gold that one day vanished, its successor gaming forum called Octopus Overlords. I participated in sites devoted to particular games, particular movies, particular hobbies.

Many of those forums are gone now, like the proverbial tears in rain. Usually whatever content I posted there — primitive lawsplainers, snark, banter, arguments — is gone as well. I still interact with many of the people I knew there, having connected with them at a series of successor locations, but many are lost to the decades — people I felt I knew, now only vaguely remembered.

Now it’s Twitter’s turn.

I’ve been reading White’s @Popehat Twitter account for as long as I can remember. I don’t want to make too big a deal out of one person shutting down their Twitter account, but it’s not just one person. It’s a real trend right now.

FTC Sues Microsoft to Block $69B Activision Blizzard Acquisition 

Michael McWhertor, reporting for Polygon:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is suing Microsoft over its planned $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, saying that the deal “would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.”

In a news release, the FTC said that Microsoft has a record of “acquiring and using valuable gaming content to suppress competition from rival consoles,” pointing to the company’s $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. The FTC noted Microsoft’s plan to keep next year’s Starfield from Bethesda Game Studios and Redfall from Arkane as Microsoft exclusives. Those games will be available on Xbox platforms and Windows PC, and the company’s Game Pass subscription service.

“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” said Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, in a news release. “Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”

We’ll see how it plays out, but my gut feeling is that this is a mistake on the FTC’s part. The video game industry is incredibly competitive today. Yes, Xbox and PlayStation are the only two high-end consoles, but the Switch is quite arguably Nintendo’s most successful platform ever. And it’s not like Sony is some shrinking violet and lacks for its own exclusive titles. Exclusive titles are a big part of competition. It’s also the case that the dominant players in console and PC gaming are not the dominant players in mobile gaming (Apple and Google). Let the market play this out, I say.

My skepticism about this proposed acquisition isn’t about anticompetiveness but simply that I don’t see how Activision Blizzard is worth $69B. That’s Microsoft’s problem, not the FTC’s.

iOS 16.2 Limits AirDrop’s ‘Everyone’ Option to 10 Minutes 

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

Last month, however, Apple made a change to this setting, starting with iPhone users in China. In iOS 16.1.1 and iOS 16.2 beta 2 in China, the “Everyone” option could only be enabled for 10 minutes. After that 10-minute period lapsed, the AirDrop setting would change back to “Contacts Only.”

Apple drew criticism for this change, as protesters in China had been using AirDrop to spread posters and other content in opposition to Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. The Chinese government is believed to have made the change request to Apple, and Apple complied with that request.

At the time, Apple also said it would expand this restriction for AirDrop globally starting in 2023. The company, however, appears to have expedited this timeline. Starting with iOS 16.2 RC today, the new restriction on the “Everyone” option for AirDrop is now in place globally.

I’ve had AirDrop set to accept drops from everyone for a while, and never encountered any weirdos, but stories like this one regarding nude photos being AirDropped anonymously on a Southwest flight are common. I wonder, though, whether “Everyone all the time” should have remained an option alongside “Everyone for 10 minutes” — it does seem like some people (schools for example) make good use of keep AirDrop open always.

Joanna Stern Interviews Craig Federighi Regarding New iCloud Security Features 

At least two exclusive tidbits in this interview (News+ link):

The changes represent a new potential setback for law-enforcement officials. Last year, Apple proposed software for the iPhone that would identify child sexual-abuse material on the iPhone. Apple now says it has stopped development of the system, following criticism from privacy and security researchers who worried that the software could be misused by governments or hackers to gain access to sensitive information on the phone.

Mr. Federighi said Apple’s focus related to protecting children has been on areas like communication and giving parents tools to protect children in iMessage. “Child sexual abuse can be headed off before it occurs,” he said. “That’s where we’re putting our energy going forward.”

Through its parental-controls software, Apple can notify parents who opt in if nude photos are sent or received on a child’s device.

So the controversial CSAM fingerprint-hashing project for iCloud Photos has been shelved. A lot of us saw that project as a precursor to offering end-to-end encryption for iCloud Photos. It is very good news that Apple forged ahead with E2E encyption for Photos without it.

The new encryption system, which will be tested by early users starting Wednesday, will roll out as an option in the U.S. by year’s end, and then worldwide including China in 2023, Mr. Federighi said.

In the video — which is also available on YouTube — Federighi is slightly circumspect about China, saying only that Apple expects it to roll out to all customers around the world next year, but quips that he hasn’t personally heard from the Chinese government about it.

Apple Announces Advanced Data Protection for iCloud – E2E Encryption for Backups, Photos, and More 

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today introduced three advanced security features focused on protecting against threats to user data in the cloud, representing the next step in its ongoing effort to provide users with even stronger ways to protect their data. With iMessage Contact Key Verification, users can verify they are communicating only with whom they intend. With Security Keys for Apple ID, users have the choice to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account. And with Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple’s highest level of cloud data security, users have the choice to further protect important iCloud data, including iCloud Backup, Photos, Notes, and more.

All three announcements are noteworthy and good news, but to me, Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is the big one. Users who opt in will now get end-to-end encryption for backups, Photos, and Notes — everything in iCloud other than email, contacts, and calendars (the open standards for which preclude end-to-end encryption).

Says Apple:

For users who opt in, Advanced Data Protection keeps most iCloud data protected even in the case of a data breach in the cloud.

Unmentioned is that Advanced Data Protection will also preclude Apple from handing over unencrypted backups to law enforcement. Turn on Advanced Data Protection and Apple will no longer hold keys to that data. It’s off by default, primarily, I believe, for customer support reasons. With standard iCloud data protection, customer data is encrypted in transit and in storage on iCloud’s servers, but Apple holds keys that can be used for recovery in case a customer loses access to their account. Those same keys held by Apple can also be used to comply with search warrants.

This has been a long time coming.

MarsEdit 5.0 

Daniel Jalkut, writing for the Red Sweater Software blog:

MarsEdit 5 features a beautiful new icon, a “Microposting” feature for streamlined short-form blogging, enhanced plain-text editing with built-in Markdown syntax highlighting, a completely rebuilt rich text editor based on Apple’s latest WebKit2 technologies, and a variety of nuanced improvements to make your blogging workflow smoother, and more enjoyable than ever.

MarsEdit is one of the few apps I consider essential for my work. I’ve posted over 32,000 items to Daring Fireball in the 20 years I’ve been writing it, and I’d wager nearly 30,000 of them have gone through MarsEdit. Yet MarsEdit hasn’t offered Markdown syntax highlighting until now. That sounds weird, perhaps, but one of my primary design goals when creating Markdown way back when was to stick to syntax that looked good and remained utterly readable as good old-fashioned plain text. (Jason Snell and I discussed this at length during my guest appearance on Upgrade last week.)

That said, I’m delighted by MarsEdit 5’s Markdown support, which includes not just syntax coloring but syntax styling — italicized text is rendered in italic, bold text in bold. Worth the wait to see MarsEdit support Markdown so well.

China Abandons Key Parts of Zero-COVID Strategy After Protests 

Frances Mao, reporting for BBC News:

China is lifting its most severe Covid policies — including forcing people into quarantine camps — just a week after landmark protests against the strict controls.

People with Covid can now isolate at home rather than in state facilities if they have mild or no symptoms. They also no longer need to show tests for most venues, and can travel more freely inside the country.

Seems undeniable that these recent protests worked. So will more protests start happening in China, or were these COVID restrictions a unique situation?

Tim Cook Says Apple Will Use TSMC Chips Fabbed in Arizona 

Kif Leswing, reporting for CNBC:

“And now, thanks to the hard work of so many people, these chips can be proudly stamped Made in America,” Cook said. “This is an incredibly significant moment.”

The chip factories will be owned and operated by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the biggest foundry company with over half of the global market share. TSMC produces the most advanced processors, including the chips in the latest iPhones, iPads and Macs.

The plants will be capable of manufacturing the 4-nanometer and 3-nanometer chips that are used for advanced processors such as Apple’s A-series and M-series and Nvidia’s graphics processors.

Hard to overstate how important it will be if TSMC starts turning out world-class chips from Arizona. For Apple, yes, but more so for the world, overall, to get leading-edge fabrication out from under the thumb of China.

Tim Cook, on Twitter:

Apple silicon unlocks a new level of performance for our users. And soon, many of these chips can be stamped “Made in America.” The opening of TSMC’s plant in Arizona marks a new era of advanced manufacturing in the U.S. — and we are proud to become the site’s largest customer.

Wired: ‘Tony Fadell Is Trying to Build the iPod of Crypto’ 

The incomparable Steven Levy, writing for Wired:

One of his dreams was to extend the screen along the edge of the unit, so people could label it. None of the E Ink displays he saw could do what he wanted, so he contacted an old friend, the UK venture capitalist Hermann Hauser, who had once been involved in an unsuccessful ebook device with advanced E Ink. That company, Plastic Logic, was now based in Dresden, Germany, and was making custom E Ink displays. And they could bend! The curved display had at that point been used only by an obscure Russian phone called the YotaPhone. Fadell wanted to produce hundreds of thousands of screens with a dramatically sharper curve and at a low cost.

I will say, the Stax looks cool.

After breakfasting at the bistro, I spent an hour with him trying to get set up to trade crypto and buy NFTs. While getting the wallet to authenticate me was easy, getting the currency needed to buy the funky artworks Rogers likes proved frustratingly difficult, and apparently impossible to complete in the time we had. “Crypto is where the internet was in 1993,” he finally said, in a tone somewhere between wistful and pissed off. That doesn’t bother him too much — the iPod, after all, came out in the early, awkward days of digital music and took a few years to catch on. “The only question in my brain is, are we the Apple of Web3?” Rogers says. “Or are we the BlackBerry or Nokia of Web3?”

I’m unconvinced there will be an Apple of Web3.

CNBC: ‘Warner Bros Discovery Close to Picking “Max” for Name of HBO Max Replacement’ 

Alex Sherman and Lillian Rizzo, reporting for CNBC:

Warner Bros. Discovery executives are close to formalizing a new name and platform for its soon-to-be-launched streaming service that will combine the preexisting HBO Max and Discovery+ services.

The merged platform’s expected name, “Max,” is being vetted by the company’s lawyers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Executives haven’t finalized a decision and the name could still be changed, but Max is the likely choice, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Some senior executives are still debating a final name, said two of the people. Internally, Warner Bros. Discovery has given the new service a code name of “BEAM” while a final name is being debated, said the people. Lawyers are vetting other names, as well.

Not the worst name they could go with. The mistake with “HBO Max” was muddying the premium HBO brand with the “anything and everything” content of a unified app for everything this enormous content factory conglomerate puts online. My big question is what happens to HBO content. Is it stuck in a tab inside the “Max” app, or will there be a standalone “HBO” app too?

Update: Worth mentioning that Disney handles this branding issue pretty well inside its Disney+ app, with permanent banners for major sub-brands like Pixar and Star Wars.

Apple Adds 700 New Price Points to App Store 

Apple Newsroom:

Under the updated App Store pricing system, all developers will have the ability to select from 900 price points, which is nearly 10 times the number of price points previously available for most apps. This includes 600 new price points to choose from, with an additional 100 higher price points available upon request. To provide developers around the world with even more flexibility, price points — which will start as low as $0.29 and, upon request, go up to $10,000 — will offer an enhanced selection of price points, increasing incrementally across price ranges (for example, every $0.10 up to $10; every $0.50 between $10 and $50; etc.). See the table below for details.

One change is that prices can simply end in .00 now — $5 even, say, instead of $4.99. But developers can also go with $4.95 now.

Anyway, this surely ends any and all controversies surrounding Apple’s stewardship of the App Store. More price points, yeah, that’s the ticket.

The Mickey Mantle ‘Under the Right Field Bleachers’ Letter Is for Sale 

Paul Kafasis, writing at One Foot Tsunami:

I’ve actually heard this hilariously vulgar story before, but I had no idea there was a physical artifact written in Mantle’s own hand. Now, incredibly, it’s available for sale. The current bid, at time of publication, is $24,826. Despite the sum involved, I hope whoever wins this auction donates the letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where it can be displayed publicly. That belongs in a museum!

As a result of this auction, additional details have come out. However, I’m undecided if I believe them. Give the following a read, and decide for yourself.

Baseball collector Keith Olbermann describes the Mantle letter as the second-most obscene piece of memorabilia in the sport’s long (and sordid) history. First place — in Olbermann’s mind — goes to the 1898 “Special Instructions to Players” memo, which, as Letters of Note describes, “was in fact so expletive-laden and obscene as to be “unmailable” to its intended audience via the postal service, and so was delivered by hand to each of the League’s 12 clubs and their foul-mouthed players.”

It’s a close call.

Building a Virtual Machine Inside ChatGPT 

Jonas Degrave:

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard of this new ChatGPT assistant made by OpenAI. You might be aware of its capabilities for solving IQ tests, tackling leetcode problems or to helping people write LateX. It is an amazing resource for people to retrieve all kinds of information and solve tedious tasks, like copy-writing!

Today, Frederic Besse told me that he managed to do something different. Did you know, that you can run a whole virtual machine inside of ChatGPT?

There is so much to say about ChatGPT, but perhaps its biggest breakthrough is its statefulness. These are actual conversations where your subsequent commands build on what’s happened previously in the chat.

ChatGPT and A.I. Homework 

Ben Thompson, writing at Stratechery:

What has been fascinating to watch over the weekend is how those refinements have led to an explosion of interest in OpenAI’s capabilities and a burgeoning awareness of AI’s impending impact on society, despite the fact that the underlying model is the two-year old GPT-3. The critical factor is, I suspect, that ChatGPT is easy to use, and it’s free: it is one thing to read examples of AI output, like we saw when GPT-3 was first released; it’s another to generate those outputs yourself; indeed, there was a similar explosion of interest and awareness when Midjourney made AI-generated art easy and free (and that interest has taken another leap this week with an update to Lensa AI to include Stable Diffusion-driven magic avatars).

ChatGPT is brand new but already astonishing. Even seemingly silly input can result in remarkable output. I feel like I ought to have something profound to say, but I’m struggling to come up with anything beyond “Wow” for now.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield Is Leaving in January 

Stewart Butterfield, in a memo to Slack employees obtained by The Verge (posted, of course, on the company’s internal Slack):

So: why?? Well, we started this company 13.5 years ago (though it’s “only” been 10 years since we started development of Slack itself). It’s been a long and wild run. I am not going off to do something entrepreneurial. Though it may sound hackneyed, I actually am going to spend more time with my family. We have a new baby coming in January. Can I tell you something? I fantasize about gardening. So, I’m going to work on some personal projects, focus on health, and try to learn as many new things as I can.

I suppose this is not surprising at all. Salesforce inked the deal to acquire Slack for $28 billion on December 1, 2020. A two-year stay agreement would mean Butterfield is free to leave ... this week. Butterfield is a consumer-minded product person, and Salesforce is as enterprise-y as enterprise-y gets. The numbers are much bigger for Slack, but it’s kind of amazing how similar the story has been to Yahoo’s acquisition of Flickr in 2005.

I have a zillion complaints about Slack, but there’s no denying that, on the whole, it’s a great product and service, and has defined the modern framework for remote work and collaboration.

Doxie Pro 

My thanks to Doxie for sponsoring last week at DF to promote their new Doxie Pro scanner. When the world went home for work, Doxie asked themselves how they could adapt document scanning to make any size space work better. They nailed it with Doxie Pro.

Built for evolving spaces that need ongoing decluttering, Doxie Pro is compact, simple to use, and is their most powerful scanner yet (complete with awesome Mac-friendly software). And this week, they’re offering DF readers $50 off with Amazon promo code FIREBALL.

The Talk Show: ‘Spooky Hole’ 

Friend of the show John Moltz returns to talk about Elon Musk steering Twitter into a multi-issue spat with Apple, Mastodon, and some streaming TV recommendations.

Brought to you by:

  • Sofa: One place to organize your downtime.
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
  • Kolide: The cross-platform endpoint security solution for teams that value privacy and transparency.
On the Prevalence of Hate Speech on Twitter 

Sheera Frenkel and Kate Conger, reporting today for The New York Times under the alarming headline “Hate Speech’s Rise on Twitter Is Unprecedented, Researchers Find”:

Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.

Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day.

And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.

These findings — from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups that study online platforms — provide the most comprehensive picture to date of how conversations on Twitter have changed since Mr. Musk completed his $44 billion deal for the company in late October. While the numbers are relatively small, researchers said the increases were atypically high.

Reactions on Twitter to this story all seemingly take it at face value that Twitter now has a problem with hate speech being tweeted. I suspect my take is going to be unpopular with many of you, but I’m not seeing it. Doubling the daily average of racial and gay slurs and antisemitic posts is obviously bad. That should go without saying. But in absolute terms these numbers show just how rare hate-speech tweets are. There are over 800 million new tweets posted every day.

I included in my blockquote above the Times’s line about the numbers being “relatively small”. But the narrative that’s being embraced by those opposed to Musk’s leadership of Twitter is that Twitter is now riddled with such hate speech. The truth is something to the effect of “The recent trendline of hate speech on Twitter is alarming.” The way it’s being talked about, though, is more like “Twitter is suddenly a hellscape of hate speech.” That’s just not true. Right now it’s more like having twice as many people as usual pissing in a large pool each day. It’s not what you want, but it’s still a few drops in the proverbial bucket.

Google Moves Maps to the Root Domain 

Garrit Franke:

Yesterday I was asked to allow the usage of location services for Google Maps seemingly out of nowhere. Of course I accepted. After all, I just wanted to check a route to a local business and I was in a hurry. Back home I opened Google Maps again, and noticed that now redirects to This implies that the permissions I give to Google Maps now apply to all of Google’s services hosted under this domain. So far I only identified Google Flights to have made the same switch (, though I’m sure they’re just beginning to transfer their services to the main domain.

Congratulations, you now have permission to geo-track me across all of your services.

Grant location access to Google Maps now, and you grant it to all of Google.

The Onion’s Supreme Court Amicus Brief Defending Parody 

Speaking of entertaining legal documents that address serious issues, I’ve been meaning to link to the amicus brief filed by The Onion on behalf of Anthony Novak, who is suing the police department of Parma, Ohio in a case now before the Supreme Court. Long story short, Novak created a parody Facebook account for the police department; the police arrested him and he spent four days in jail, simply for having mocked them; and when Novak subsquently attempted to sue the police department for civil damages, the Sixth Circuit court of appeals held that the police could not be held responsible under the bullshit doctrine of “qualified immunity”.

The Onion’s brief begins itself as parody:

The Onion is the world’s leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events. Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1756, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.

In addition to maintaining a towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires, The Onion supports more than 350,000 full- and part-time journalism jobs in its numerous news bureaus and manual labor camps stationed around the world, and members of its editorial board have served with distinction in an advisory capacity for such nations as China, Syria, Somalia, and the former Soviet Union. On top of its journalistic pursuits, The Onion also owns and operates the majority of the world’s transoceanic shipping lanes, stands on the nation’s leading edge on matters of deforestation and strip mining, and proudly conducts tests on millions of animals daily.

But while the brief contains many jokes, it is no joke itself and forcefully makes the point that parody is protected speech because it can be so effective:

Time and again, that’s what has occurred with The Onion’s news stories. In 2012, for example, The Onion proclaimed that Kim Jong-un was the sexiest man alive. China’s state-run news agency republished The Onion’s story as true alongside a slideshow of the dictator himself in all his glory. The Fars Iranian News Agency uncritically picked up and ran with The Onion’s headline “Gallup Poll: Rural Whites Prefer Ahmadinejad To Obama.” Domestically, the number of elected leaders who are still incapable of parsing The Onion’s coverage as satire is daunting, but one particular example stands out: Republican Congressman John Fleming, who believed that he needed to warn his constituents of a dangerous escalation of the pro-choice movement after reading The Onion’s headline “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex.”

The point of all this is not that it is funny when deluded figures of authority mistake satire for the actual news — even though that can be extremely funny. Rather, it’s that the parody allows these figures to puncture their own sense of self-importance by falling for what any reasonable person would recognize as an absurd escalation of their own views. In the political context, the effect can be particularly pronounced. See Hustler Mag., Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46, 53–55 (1988); see also Falwell v. Flynt, 805 F.2d 484, 487 (4th Cir. 1986) (Wilkinson, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing) (“Nothing is more thoroughly democratic than to have the high-and-mighty lampooned and spoofed.”).

Elon Musk Gets Mail 

Akiva Cohen, an attorney representing 22 laid-off Twitter employees, in a letter to Twitter and Elon Musk (shared, of course, on Twitter):

If basic human decency and honor isn’t enough to make you want to keep your word, maybe this will:

If you don’t unequivocally confirm by Wednesday, December 7 that you intend to provide our clients with the full severance Twitter promised them, we will commence an arbitration campaign on their behalf, with each employee filing a separate individual arbitration, as required by the terms of your arbitration agreement. Under both California law and the JAMS arbitration rules, Twitter will be responsible to pay the arbitration costs for each individual arbitrator and arbitration. Consistent with the terms of Twitter’s arbitration agreement, those arbitrations will be held in jurisdictions across the country — no more than 45 miles from where each employee worked. Not only will you lose on the merits, but even if you somehow won the victory would be pyrrhic: Twitter will pay far more in attorneys’ fees and arbitration costs than it could possibly “save” in severance due our clients.

And to be clear, Elon, you will lose, and you know it.

Owning Twitter seems like a lot of fun.

The Congressional ‘Crypto Is Bullshit’ Caucus 

Joseph Zeballos-Roig, reporting for Semafor:

“It’s all bullshit,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. told Semafor. He was wary of the industry even before the recent collapse of crypto exchange FTX, he said, and recent meetings with advocates have not given him any more confidence in its fundamental value. “I don’t think it passes the smell test. I can’t figure out what supports it.” (FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is an investor in Semafor.)

“Finally, there are more people blowing the bullshit whistle,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. said in a Wednesday interview. “There’s been a lot of lobbying around Congress and an effort to try to scare off lawmakers. To say ‘Oh, crypto is just so complicated. No one can understand it. Let the crypto world remain unregulated.’ That is precisely the argument that was made in the run-up to the 2008 crash.”

Stable Diffusion With Core ML on Apple Silicon 

Apple’s Machine Learning Research team:

Today, we are excited to release optimizations to Core ML for Stable Diffusion in macOS 13.1 and iOS 16.2, along with code to get started with deploying to Apple Silicon devices. [...]

One of the key questions for Stable Diffusion in any app is where the model is running. There are a number of reasons why on-device deployment of Stable Diffusion in an app is preferable to a server-based approach. First, the privacy of the end user is protected because any data the user provided as input to the model stays on the user’s device. Second, after initial download, users don’t require an internet connection to use the model. Finally, locally deploying this model enables developers to reduce or eliminate their server-related costs.

Exciting and fun to see Apple helping to make this run optimally on Apple Silicon.

‘Kanye West Isn’t Buying Parler After All’ 

Darrell Etherington, writing for TechCrunch:

Despite a joint statement between Ye (fka Kanye West) and Parler in October noting that the two had reached an agreement for the rapper to buy the social network, that will not come to pass, Parler owner Parlement Technologies said today.

I’m starting to think maybe we shouldn’t take some of these nutjobs at their word.

‘FTX’s Collapse Was a Crime, Not an Accident’ 

David Z. Morris, writing for CoinDesk, with the best “all you need to know” overview of the FTX scandal I’ve seen:

Perhaps most perniciously, many outlets have described what happened to FTX as a “bank run” or a “run on deposits,” while Bankman-Fried has repeatedly insisted the company was simply overleveraged and disorganized. Both of these attempts to frame the fallout obfuscate the core issue: the misuse of customer funds.

Banks can be hit by “bank runs” because they are explicitly in the business of lending customer funds out to generate returns. They can experience a short-term cash crunch if everyone withdraws at the same time, without there being any long-term problem.

But FTX and other crypto exchanges are not banks. They do not (or should not) do bank-style lending, so even a very acute surge of withdrawals should not create a liquidity strain. FTX had specifically promised customers it would never lend out or otherwise use the crypto they entrusted to the exchange.

In reality, the funds were sent to the intimately linked trading firm Alameda Research, where they were, it seems, simply gambled away. This is, in the simplest terms, theft at a nearly unprecedented scale. While the total losses have yet to be quantified, up to one million customers could be impacted, according to a bankruptcy document.

So in a sense FTX’s implosion had nothing to do with cryptocurrency directly, beyond the fact that no one would have given FTX a nickel if not for the vague belief that “something something crypto” would lead to a windfall. FTX took people’s money, told them they’d hold the money, but instead gambled that money away — on cryptocurrency.

‘The Greatest’ – Short Film From Apple Celebrating Accessibility Features 

People without arms using touchscreen phones. A deaf mother whose watch lets her know that her baby is crying. A blind man whose phone tells him not just that a door is in front of him, but what it says on the door. These are the days of miracles and wonders.

Steven Aquino, writing at Forbes:

Of course Apple wants you to use their products, but so too does Amazon and Google and Microsoft and others. There exists a deeper message: the point is not whether Apple is subliminally advertising to people; the salient point is Apple is overtly advertising a disabled person’s basic humanity.

What this short film expresses so clearly is that these accessibility feature don’t merely allow people with serious disabilities to use Apple devices, but to thrive with them. 

Phil Gyford has launched a splendid new directory of blogs:

For years I’ve seen people moan that “nobody blogs any more”, all while my feed reader was overflowing with new blogposts I never had time to read. I want to demonstrate that there are lots and lots of people blogging, about all kinds of subjects!

Even though I knew there was a lot of blogging going on, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by quite how much. So many people, so many topics, so much enthusiasm. It’s easy to get lost down rabbitholes, following links and blogrolls from one blog to the next.

I want more people to read blogs and more people to write blogs. I hope you’ll find some interesting blogs to read here and, maybe, some inspiration that will get you blogging.

Mastodon is — deservedly! — getting a lot of attention as people re-evaluate their use of Twitter. But what I’m digging more in our current moment is renewed enthusiasm for blogging, and, on the consumption side, RSS feed reading. is an old-school idea, but an evergreen one. Looks great, too.

Kottke Is Back From Sabbatical 

His first day back in the saddle and I’m already gleaning great links to steal.