Linked List: November 2022

Oceanic+ App for Apple Watch Ultra Launches 

Apple Newsroom has a long feature story on Oceanic+, an app that turns Apple Watch Ultra into a serious dive computer, and which was previewed extensively during the Ultra’s introduction:

“One of our first goals was to keep it intuitive,” says [CEO] Mike Huish. “People who know how to use an Apple Watch already know how to use this dive computer, because it’s telling them things in a simple format they can understand. The navigation menus are simple — scrolling with the Digital Crown and using the Action button, you can navigate and use all the functionality of the dive computer while diving.”

Recreational scuba diving is a niche, but people who are into it are really into it. I think that’s why Apple partnered with Huish Outdoors (makers of Oceanic+) while the Ultra was in development. With diving, it was essential to partner with a company divers already know and trust.

Icon Speedruns: Flag and Pushpin 

New YouTube channel from designer extraordinaire Marc Edwards. I could watch stuff like this all day. I just love watching someone who’s good at what they do, do what they do.

Reed Albergotti: Kinda Smart on Apple and China, Kinda Dumb on Green Bubbles 

Reed Albergotti, formerly of The Washington Post, now writing for Semafor, in a piece with the clickbait headline “Apple’s Chinese Dream Is Over”:

China is also no longer cheap. Wages have skyrocketed, with the average factory worker making $6 per hour on average in 2020, up from less than a dollar in 2006. The average wage of a Chinese factory worker will very soon surpass the U.S. federal minimum wage. For comparison, the average rate for a Mexican factory worker has stayed stagnant at $2 per hour.

If that isn’t the most damning thing I’ve read about the U.S. federal minimum wage, I don’t know what is.

If any company can make the monumental shift away from China, it’s Apple. Its robust supply chain is the reason it was able to keep output going after the 2011 flooding in Thailand disrupted component makers. And it’s why Apple saw only minor product shortages during the height of the pandemic. The chip shortage that crippled Detroit automakers was a blip for Apple’s customers.

But it will cost billions and take years.

The biggest question is whether it will be the same Apple when the process is over. Will the new Apple be stronger and even more resilient? Or will it be unable to recreate the magic of China’s boom years?

It’s a good take on Apple’s increasingly more uncomfortable reliance upon China, but I wouldn’t write about it in the past tense yet.

Bonus content: Albergotti’s bottom-of-the-column take on Elon Musk’s griping about the App Store:

Epic Games can probably commiserate. Musk’s complaint is a pivotal factor in the antitrust lawsuit Epic filed against Apple in 2020. A federal appeals court will soon rule on the case’s outcome.

Albergotti’s description omits the fact that last year’s initial ruling in Epic v. Apple was overwhelmingly in Apple’s favor, including ruling that the App Store does not constitute a monopoly. Anything can happen on appeal, of course, but I’m not aware of anyone serious who expects the appeals court to overturn anything significant in the case.

European regulators also aren’t fans. They’ve forced Apple to get rid of the proprietary Lightning charging port on its phones and threatened to force Apple to open up iMessage (goodbye green bubbles).

Again with the past tense for things that haven’t happened yet, like Apple shipping an iPhone without a proprietary charging/data port.

And the EU’s possible mandate for messaging service interoperability is technical nonsense that reminds of Hugo Rifkind impossible-to-beat description of Brexit: “The thing is, the best way to understand Theresa May’s predicament is to imagine that 52 percent of Britain had voted that the government should build a submarine out of cheese.”

But even if it were possible for Apple, WhatsApp, and whatever other services would fall under the EU’s mandate to comply, what would that have to do with the green bubbles Messages renders for SMS messages? SMS is an example of messaging service interop from Apple. If Apple somehow did connect Messages to WhatsApp, surely WhatsApp messages would be rendered in some color other than blue.

NBC News: ‘The Inside Story of Trump’s Explosive Dinner With Ye and Nick Fuentes’ 

I’m quite sure many of you are sick of Donald Trump and actively avoid reading about him. But you’ll enjoy this exquisite story on how he wound up having dinner last week with an outspoken racist and antisemite. Marc Caputo, reporting for NBC News:

“I wanted to show Trump the kind of talent that he’s missing out on by allowing his terrible handlers to dictate who he can and can’t hang out with,” Yiannopoulos told NBC News. “I also wanted to send a message to Trump that he has systematically repeatedly neglected, ignored, abused the people who love him the most, the people who put him in office, and that kind of behavior comes back to bite you in the end,” he added.

And, Yiannopoulos said, he arranged the dinner “just to make Trump’s life miserable” because news of the dinner would leak and Trump would mishandle it.

Fuentes echoed the sentiment: “I hate to say it, but the chickens are coming home to roost. You know, this is the frustration with his base and with his true loyalists.”

Trump fumed afterward that Ye had betrayed him by ambushing him. “He tried to f[uck] me. He’s crazy. He can’t beat me,” Trump said, according to one confidant, who then relayed the conversation to NBC News on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

“Trump was totally blindsided,” the source said of Fuentes’ presence. “It was a setup.”

I don’t know about their steaks, but Mar-a-Lago clearly serves nothing but the finest schadenfreude.

WSJ: ‘Elon Musk’s Boring Company Ghosts Cities Across America’ 

Ted Mann and Julie Bykowicz, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

That fall, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was standing at a fenced-off site affixed with Boring signs near Fort Meade and telling a videographer to “get ready” for a high-speed train from Baltimore to Washington. Mr. Hogan declined to comment.

An aide to Mr. Hogan toured a parking-lot test site at the company’s then-headquarters near Los Angeles International Airport, getting a look at a tunnel-boring machine the company purchased secondhand. Boring named it Godot, the title character in Samuel Beckett’s play about a man who never shows up.

The Republican Hogan administration sped up the bureaucratic process for Boring, granting a conditional permit in October 2017 and an environmental permit a few months later. All Boring had to do was bring its machine and start digging, former Maryland officials said. But months, and then years, passed. Maryland was waiting for Godot.

Boring deleted the Maryland project from its website last year.

As Scott Lemieux quipped, The Boring Company appears to be “basically vaporware that exists solely to undermine actually potentially viable mass transit proposals”. The pitch to local municipalities — helmed by politicians with no engineering expertise — is just the monorail gag from The Simpsons but underground.

‘How the Wordle Editor Is Ruining Wordle’ 

Lizzie O’Leary, writing for Slate:

Look: I’m sure that Tracy Bennett, the Wordle editor, is a lovely person and a skilled crossword editor. But when I do a Wordle and discover I’ve walked into someone else’s pun, I feel foolish. The butt of a middlebrow dad joke. I want to tell Joe Kahn that the Times’ ever-expanding dominion should leave some room for serendipity and strangeness in the world.

No more puns, I beg of you, Wordle queen. I now understand that you started your reign on November 7 with BEGIN. Please: It’s time to CEASE.

I saw the Times’s announcement that they’d hired a Wordle editor, but I didn’t realize she was playing puns until the Thankgiving solution was FEAST. I had that one down to *EAST and guessed BEAST first, thinking it wouldn’t be FEAST on Thanksgiving. And when I realized it was, I was furious. Yes, that’s right, I got furious at a free word game.

Count me in with O’Leary — however central puns are to good crossword puzzles, they have no place in Wordle.

The Financial Times: ‘Twitter’s $5bn-a-Year Business Hit as Elon Musk Clashes With Advertisers’ 

Hannah Murphy, Alex Barker, and Arjun Neil Alim, reporting for The Financial Times:

Multiple top advertising agencies and media buyers told the Financial Times that nearly all of the big brands they represent have paused spending on the social media platform, citing alarm at Musk’s ad hoc approach to policing content and decision to axe many of its ad sales team.

Musk, meanwhile, has sought to personally call chief executives of some brands that have curbed advertising in order to berate them, according to one senior industry figure, leading others to instead reduce their spend to the bare minimum required so as to avoid further confrontation with the billionaire entrepreneur.

Planters’ Mr. Peanut mascot isn’t this nutty. The only way to keep advertisers on board is to make Twitter a place where they’d want their ads to appear. Berating CEOs is only going to make Twitter seem less attractive.

After several waves of job cuts and departures, Twitter’s ads business team has shrunk so much that many agencies no longer have any point of contact at the company and have received little to no communication in recent weeks, according to four industry insiders.

Some brands have been unable to get feedback on how previous campaigns have performed because of the staffing shortages, one media buyer said. Others are complaining Twitter’s ads systems have also become buggy, making it difficult or even impossible to run campaigns.

I’ve mentioned before that big brand advertisers are very conservative. They value stability and predictability, and loathe controversy and chaos. That alone would be enough to explain why Twitter’s ad sales have quickly plummeted under Musk’s leadership. But another huge aspect to brand advertising are personal relationships. Musk, to date, has screwed all of this up. He’s made Twitter itself unpredictable and controversial, and he fired the ad sales people who had personal relationships with Twitter’s most important advertisers.

Tim Cook Hosts Elon Musk at Apple Park 

A little birdie told me Cook was walking around campus with Musk a few minutes ago, but unsurprisingly, Musk himself broke the news. As the saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Update: “Diplomacy” is clearly Tim Cook’s middle name.

‘Ivory’ – In-Development Mastodon Clients for iOS and Mac From Tapbots 

Tapbots, on Mastodon:

Hello people of the Fediverse! Some of you may have heard that a new Mastodon client, Ivory, is in development for iOS (and Mac!). This is true! Tapbots is going all in on Mastodon and we hope this place continues to grow and thrive. Tweetbot will continue to be developed alongside Ivory as a lot of code is shared. A new Mac version of Tweetbot and Ivory are also currently in development and we are working hard on getting those towards a public beta state.

Huzzah. There are some decent iOS Mastodon clients already, but none for the Mac.

The Apple TV’s Upgrade Experience Needs an Upgrade 

Jason Snell, writing a few weeks ago at Six Colors:

One Home Screen is a nice feature, but it’s not an iCloud backup of your Apple TV, nor is it the Apple TV equivalent of Migration Assistant. It is exactly what its name suggests — a home-screen-syncing feature and nothing more.

So after setting up my new Apple TV, I then had to log into every single streaming app. And I’ve got a lot of streaming apps — you know, for my work. [...]

The end result was that I spent almost half an hour setting up this new Apple TV to work with the stuff my old Apple TV worked with. There’s got to be a better way! Yes, I know authentication is difficult, and even iOS migrations tend to lose certain connections with outside services. But right now, I’m not seeing any attempt by Apple to make migration easier.

Snell and I talked about this on Upgrade this week. It’s undeniably a pain in the ass, and the people it affects the most are those of us who use Apple TV the most. Either you bite the bullet and re-sign in to all your streaming apps at once, or you do it one at a time, as needed, and waste a few minutes of would-be leisure time each time you first launch one of these apps. What makes it frustrating is knowing how good Apple’s migration process is for setting up a new iOS device or Mac.

‘Everyone’ AirDrop Is Now Limited to Just 10 Minutes for iPhone Users in China 

Filipe Espósito, reporting for 9to5Mac two weeks ago:

As noted by 9to5Mac readers, today’s update adds a time limit when the user chooses to enable AirDrop for everyone, not just contacts. With this change, people in China can no longer keep AirDrop turned on for everyone, including unknown users, for an unlimited time.

The change in how AirDrop works has been included in both iOS 16.1.1 and iOS 16.2 beta 2, both released today for users and developers. Also noted by our readers, this restriction is based on hardware rather than software. This means that only iPhone models purchased in Mainland China are affected by the update.

This is not the first time Apple has implemented an iOS restriction based on hardware model. For instance, the Taiwanese flag emoji is not available on iPhones sold in China. Apple also uses the same method to limit the volume level of its devices in European Union countries, as required by law.

However, when it comes to AirDrop, it’s unclear why Apple decided to limit the “Everyone” option to 10 minutes. Some people speculate that the Chinese regulator required Apple to update iOS as an attempt to prevent anonymous people from spreading harmful content and anti-government material.

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple didn’t comment on why the change was introduced in China, but said that it plans to roll out the new AirDrop setting globally in the coming year. The idea is to mitigate unwanted file sharing, the company said.

You don’t have to be Kreskin to surmise that Apple made this change at the behest of the CCP. There’s no explanation for it being China-only for now. Apple never explained why they dropped the Taiwanese flag from the emoji keyboard in China, either. (Also, the shameful aspect of the Taiwanese flag emoji issue is that Apple removed it from the keyboard for iOS users in ostensibly-free Hong Kong, too.)

People are rightfully angered by this change — AirDrop is clearly very useful for exchanging information during protests in China — but as with Apple complying with China’s laws requiring iCloud data centers in mainland China, Apple’s only choices are compliance or pulling out of the Chinese market. Defiance is not an option. Well, not a long-term one.

‘Maximum Viable Product’ 

Clive Thompson, in a piece from April:

What if more developers developed a sense for the “maximum” number of things a product should do — and stopped there?

What if more software firms decided, “Hey! We’ve reached the absolute perfect set of features. We’re done. This product is awesome. No need to keep on shoving in stuff nobody wants.”

Sure, this would have risks. Standing still risks becoming obsolete, as other competitors swoop in.

But it can also just mean you have confidence in your amazing design.

Indeed, some of my favorite pieces of software feel very much like the “maximum viable product”. They seem like highly mature apps that realize they don’t need to significantly evolve new gills or appendages. For twelve years, for example, I’ve used Scrivener for writing my articles and books. “Word processing” is a super-competitive area, but Scrivener hasn’t had any feature creep I can detect. It stuck to its guns. I’d say the same thing about Logic Pro: I’ve used it for twelve years now for music production, and while it’s added new instruments and effects, it has done so gently — it hasn’t larded its UI with endless features. And it’s facing tons of competition, too, from Pro Tools and Ableton Live and others.

I think this is common for a lot of apps that have proven to have staying power. It’s why they have staying power. One way to think of it is that software should be designed a little more like hardware. A 2022 MacBook doesn’t have any more buttons or ports than one from 20 years ago. (In fact, MacBooks have fewer ports.) It’s mostly software where there’s a temptation to keep expanding in scope endlessly.

How Amazon Shopping Ads Are Disguised as Real Results 

Geoffrey Fowler, writing for The Washington Post:

Amazon is the first app many of us think about to buy things online. But is it actually a good place to go shopping? When you search for a product on Amazon, you may not realize that most of what you see at first is advertising. Amazon is betraying your trust in its results to make an extra buck.

Let me show you.

I long ago noticed the proliferation of paid placement in Amazon search results, but seeing it illustrated this way was an eye opener.

“Slippery slope” arguments are overused, but just like how paranoids can have real enemies, sometimes the slippery slope argument is true. I really hope that Apple has maxed out its paid placements in the App Store, because I think they already have too many. But I worry that every few months they’ll just keep adding more and it’ll soon be more ads than legit search results and editorial content.

Apple’s Ad Spend on Twitter: $48M in Q1 

Cat Zakrzewski, Faiz Siddiqui, and Jeremy B. Merrill, reporting for The Washington Post:

In the first quarter, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48 million on ads on the social network, according to a document reviewed by The Washington Post that was compiled from internal Twitter data. Apple’s spending accounted for more than 4 percent of Twitter’s revenue that quarter.

Peanuts for Apple, and even as their heretofore biggest advertiser, only 4 percent for Twitter. But more important than its raw percentage of revenue for Twitter is the fact that Apple is a company that other companies follow. How many marketing departments are having meetings today along the lines of “If Apple pulled its ad spending on Twitter, why shouldn’t we?”

Yours Truly, Guesting on Upgrade 

Jason Snell:

John Gruber joins Jason on Upgrade for the first time. Topics include eWorld, Apple’s iPhone production problems in China, FIFA and Qatar and the World Cup, the reasons behind Apple’s sports ambitions, BBEdit, regular expressions, Perl and Python, MarsEdit, nanotexture displays, webcams, and the state of the art in ADB-to-USB adapters. Happy Cyber Monday to all those who celebrate!

Happy Cyber Monday, indeed. (Snell and I managed to squeeze this into a brisk 144 minutes.)

iPhone 14 Pro Assembly Hit by COVID Protests in China 

Vlad Savov, reporting for Bloomberg:*

Turmoil at Apple Inc.’s key manufacturing hub of Zhengzhou is likely to result in a production shortfall of close to 6 million iPhone Pro units this year, according to a person familiar with assembly operations.

The situation remains fluid at the plant and the estimate of lost production could change, said the person, who asked not to be named because the information is private. Much will depend on how quickly Foxconn Technology Group, the Taiwanese company that operates the facility, can get people back to assembly lines after violent protests against Covid restrictions. If lockdowns continue in the weeks ahead, production could be set further back.

I didn’t comprehensively check all colors, sizes, and storage capacities, but a quick check of a few iPhone 14 Pro configurations today all show December 28 as the promised delivery date. Apple, famously, under-promises and over-delivers on these delivery dates, but it’s still November and iPhone 14 Pro is in “Don’t count on this for Christmas” territory.

With a lot of products — like, say, laptops during the COVID lockdown — a delay like this just means the purchase will be deferred until the next quarter. Maybe you can’t get it now, but you’ll still buy it when it does become available. I’m not sure that’s true for iPhones that, if available, would be purchased as holiday gifts.

See also: Good Twitter thread from Bryce Weiner documenting the protests/riots by workers at Foxconn’s Apple factories.

* You know.

Protests Erupt Across China 

Vivian Wang, reporting for The New York Times from Beijing:

“We don’t want lockdowns, we want freedom!” the protesters shouted as they wound westward through one of the city’s neatly manicured embassy districts, where a Four Seasons hotel stands alongside humble shops selling traditional breakfast crepes. “Freedom of the press! Freedom of publishing!”

It was an extraordinary scene, rarely seen anywhere in China, let alone the capital, under Xi Jinping, the country’s authoritarian leader. But the elation of the moment was laced with anxiety about what, exactly, was happening. When some people began shouting explicitly political slogans, others urged them to remain more narrowly focused on opposing Covid controls. Even what to call the event depended on who and when you asked — was it a protest? Or just a vigil? [...]

When a police officer told people to stop chanting for an end to lockdowns, the crowd quickly pivoted. “Continue lockdowns!” they chanted, in an echo of the sarcasm that had spread online in recent days, as people shared overblown praise for the government to protest censorship. “I want to do Covid tests!”

Sarcasm, the gift that keeps on giving. See also: Chinese protestors are holding blank white signs:

“People have a common message,” said Xiao Qiang, a researcher on internet freedom at the University of California, Berkeley. “They know what they want to express, and authorities know too, so people don’t need to say anything. If you hold a blank sheet, then everyone knows what you mean.”

Some protesters told The New York Times that the white papers took inspiration from a Soviet-era joke, in which a dissident accosted by the police for distributing leaflets in a public square reveals the fliers to be blank. When asked, the dissident replies that there is no need for words because “everyone knows.”

Yahoo Takes Minority Stake in Ad Network Taboola (And, by the Way, Yahoo Is Still Around) 

Lauren Hirsch and Benjamin Mullin, reporting for The New York Times:

Yahoo is deepening its push into digital advertising, even as its competitors warn that the market is faltering.

The internet pioneer, which was taken private in a $5 billion deal last year, is taking a roughly 25 percent stake in Taboola, the company known for serving up attention-grabbing links on websites, the chief executives of the companies said in an interview. The deal is part of a 30-year exclusive advertising partnership that allows Yahoo to use Taboola’s technology to manage its sizable business in native advertising — ads that have the characteristics of traditional news and entertainment content.

Sad but unsurprising that Yahoo — at one time the premier quality-content-on-the-internet property — is now looking to the lowest common denominator clickbait property Taboola for inspiration and revenue.

Should Be Easy, Indeed 

Speaking of asininity (albeit, thankfully, not toxic in this case), over the weekend Elon Musk, responding to some idiot’s idea that “The man builds rockets to Mars, a silly little smartphone should be easy, right?”, offhandedly tweeted:

I certainly hope it does not come to that, but, yes, if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone.

This tweet offered a textbook test case for headline writers. The truth is simply that Musk claimed he’d “make an alternative phone” if necessary. Headline writers who failed the test went with statements of fact that Twitter would make an alternative phone, which, of course, is not going to happen. The hard part wouldn’t be the phone hardware; surely Twitter or Tesla or some new Musk-owned entity could easily slap their own brand on a white label Android handset. The hard part is that what he’s really talking about is making his own phone with his own app store. (Android phones that don’t play by Google’s rules also don’t get access to Google Play Services, which is effectively a closed-source segment of the Android operating system. Outside of China, I’m aware of zero successful Android phones that don’t use the Google Play app store by default.)

Perhaps he can just resurrect the Twitter Peek, though? Should be easy.

Today, in Twitter-Apple Drama 

Elon Musk:

Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?

What’s going on here @tim_cook?

I heard from a source who spent time working in Twitter’s ad products organization that Apple, until recently, was not just a big advertiser on Twitter, but the largest. The @apple account never posts regular tweets but frequently posts promoted tweets, and Apple heretofore had been a big spender on things like hashflags and custom like buttons, to promote major product introduction events.

Just last month there was an interesting micro-conflict because Apple paid to promote the #TakeNote hashtag for their “Take Note” announcement for new iPads, but the regular (unpaid) hashtag #TakeNote is a slogan long used by the NBA’s Utah Jazz.

Kara Swisher:

Frontloading a fight with @tim_cook with specious nonsense isn’t going to work. Why? For one, he’s not a manic toddler hopped up on Twinkies and weaponry cosplay. Plus, no advertiser like to spend their marketing money in Thunderdome of toxic asininity.

“Toxic asininity” is a keen description.

Anyway, Musk’s tweets today are mostly about Apple, including this gem:

Did you know Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store?

Yes, I think I recall hearing something about this once.


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Celebrity Endorsers Tom Brady, Giselle Bündchen, Larry David, and Steph Curry Sued in FTX Class Action Suit 

Dominic Patten, reporting for Deadline:

“I’m never wrong about this stuff, never,” said a dismissive and scoffing Larry David earlier this year in that now infamous Super Bowl ad for investing in cryptocurrency exchange FTX. While the Seinfeld co-creator rejected the wheel, coffee, the U.S. Constitution, electricity, putting a man on the moon and more innovations in the much praised commercial, looks like David might have been right about the now collapsed FTX, for all the good it’s going to do him.

Along with the likes of Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, Shaquille O’Neal, and Naomi Osaka, David is now a defendant in a class action suit against the now hollowed out FTX and its ex-CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

I don’t know whether they deserve to be sued, but they ought to be ashamed of themselves for promoting a Ponzi scheme.


When Tumblr culture gets something right, they get it really right. This whole story is delightful.

The Talk Show: ‘Deliberately Churned’ 

For your holiday listening enjoyment: Christina Warren returns to the show to talk about the drama at Disney, tumult at Twitter, and how the hell to score Taylor Swift tickets.

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‘Overleveraging Attention’ 

Jim Ray, on his Flicker Fusion blog:

John Gruber asks:

I’m curious what else you think has surprised Musk about Twitter thus far. Not what you think Musk is wrong about, per se, but what he is already surprised about.

I think Musk is genuniely surprised he hasn’t been able (so far) to bluster his way through this.

I mean this sincerely. In an economy driven by attention, Musk uses bluster like a CDO, it’s how he became the world’s richest man and how he managed to just about single-handedly turn a public company private and rule by fiat.

I think it’s surprising because Musk’s bluster not only generates the attention he needs but acts as an ace up his sleeve, a way to guarantee a win. Musk leveraged, and then weaponized, the absolute worst tendencies of the social-era internet — fandom, brigading, the financialization of everything, the final merge of politics and identity. And Twitter was his weapon of choice.

I think Ray is exactly right here. I also think Musk believes his bluster will soon win out. (And as Ray alludes to near the end, if you want a one-word answer to the question “How the fuck did Donald Trump get elected?” it’d be hard to do much better than “Bluster.”)

Meanwhile, in ‘Free Speech’ Twitter Utopia 

Dan Moren, on our mutual friend Lex Friedman having his Twitter account suspended:

My pal @lexfri quit Twitter a few days ago. His account has now been suspended — I can only imagine that’s a result of his parting tweet, which contained some choice words about Elon Musk and Donald Trump.

So I guess we see exactly how much Elon cares about free speech.

Friedman’s tweet that prompted the suspension, in its entirety:

My final tweet is: Fuck @elonmusk and fuck @realDonaldTrump.

That’s it. That’s the tweet. No additional drama or backstory. And as I type this, Friedman’s account remains suspended.

Meanwhile, Musk is running another yes/no Twitter poll:

Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?

You couldn’t make up this clown show if you tried.

Update: Friedman posits a credible theory how this happened.

Twitter vs. The App Stores 

Yoel Roth, former head of trust and safety at Twitter, in an op-ed for The New York Times:

There is one more source of power on the web — one that most people don’t think much about but may be the most significant check on unrestrained speech on the mainstream internet: the app stores operated by Google and Apple. [...]

In my time at Twitter, representatives of the app stores regularly raised concerns about content available on our platform. On one occasion, a member of an app review team contacted Twitter, saying with consternation that he had searched for “#boobs” in the Twitter app and was presented with … exactly what you’d expect. Another time, on the eve of a major feature release, a reviewer sent screenshots of several days-old tweets containing an English-language racial slur, asking Twitter representatives whether they should be permitted to appear on the service.

Reviewers hint that app approval could be delayed or perhaps even withheld entirely if issues are not resolved to their satisfaction — although the standards for resolution are often implied. Even as they appear to be driven largely by manual checks and anecdotes, these review procedures have the power to derail company plans and trigger all-hands-on-deck crises for weeks or months at a time.

Twitter wannabe Parler was banned from the App Store for three months in 2021 for its free-for-all lack of moderation. And it appears as though Apple executives aren’t exactly fans of Musk-era Twitter.

That said, I think content moderation isn’t where Musk is going to steer Twitter into direct conflict with Apple and Google over their app stores. The in-app purchasing revenue splits are. Here’s Musk last week, responding to a Slashdot post about Epic alleging a $360 million payola scheme from Google to keep Activision from creating its own Android game store:

App store fees are obviously too high due to the iOS/Android duopoly.

It is a hidden 30% tax on the Internet.

It’s not a big business at the moment, but Twitter’s year-old Super Follow subscription feature uses in-app payments, and “selling subscriptions” is apparently a big part of Musk’s plans. I’d be surprised if Musk isn’t soon as outspoken (and perhaps as litigious) about Apple and Google’s app store payment rules as Tim Sweeney and Epic Games.

Politico: FTC Is Likely to Challenge Microsoft’s $69 Billion Activision Acquisition 

Josh Sisco, reporting for Politico:

The Federal Trade Commission is likely to file an antitrust lawsuit to block Microsoft’s $69 billion takeover of video game giant Activision Blizzard, maker of the hit games Call of Duty and Candy Crush, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

A lawsuit would be the FTC’s biggest move yet under Chair Lina Khan to rein in the power of the world’s largest technology companies. It would also be a major black mark for Microsoft, which has positioned itself as a white knight of sorts on antitrust issues in the tech sector after going through its own grueling regulatory antitrust battles around the world more than two decades ago.

Central to the FTC’s concerns is whether acquiring Activision would give Microsoft an unfair boost in the video game market. Microsoft’s Xbox is number three to the industry-leading Sony Interactive Entertainment and its PlayStation console. Sony, however, has emerged as the deal’s primary opponent, telling the FTC and regulators in other countries that if Microsoft made hit games like Call of Duty exclusive to its platforms Sony would be significantly disadvantaged.

Resident Evil Village, Metal 3, and the Future of Mac Gaming 

Tony Polanco, writing last month for Tom’s Guide:

Now, Resident Evil Village has made me a believer. Gaming on Macs can be just as good as on the best gaming PCs or best gaming laptops, provided developers actually optimize their titles for Apple’s computers. [...]

Without MetalFX enabled, I saw frame rates hover in the low 100s while I walked around the main protagonist’s home (Ethan Winters) during the intro. Later, when the game shifted to a dark, snow-covered mountain, frame rates fluctuated more dramatically — dipping into the low 70s at worst. Still, those are very impressive numbers with MetalFX off.

Saying I was shocked when I enabled MetalFX is an understatement. In Ethan’s home, frame rates instantly jumped into the low 200s. They dropped to the 150s when I began walking around, but those are still very high frame rates. Frames dipped into the upper 80s when traversing the mountain, but I’m not complaining.

And the kicker:

I should note that performance didn’t take a hit when I unplugged the Magsafe cable from the MacBook Pro. Typically, frame rates drop substantially on gaming laptops when you unplug, but that wasn’t the case here. And though I didn’t play for extended periods of time, I never once heard the MacBook Pro’s fans kick in, nor did the laptop ever get warm. Considering how some gaming notebooks start to sound like jet engines seconds after booting up a game, this is a huge win.

See also: Luke Larsen, writing at Digital Trends:

The most startling thing about playing Resident Evil Village on a MacBook Pro wasn’t actually performance. It was HDR. The MacBook Pro (16-inch) has one of Apple’s “XDR” displays, a mini-LED panel that’s better than any other gaming laptop display. That’s because mini-LEDs that can get this bright are still fairly uncommon in the world of gaming laptops. And in many ways, there’s no better game to play in HDR than Resident Evil Village.

U.K. Regulator to Investigate Apple and Google’s Mobile Web Browser Dominance 

Press release from the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority:

Responses to the consultation, which have been published today, reveal substantial support for a fuller investigation into the way that Apple and Google dominate the mobile browser market and how Apple restricts cloud gaming through its App Store. Many of those came from browser vendors, web developers, and cloud gaming service providers who say that the status quo is harming their businesses, holding back innovation, and adding unnecessary costs.

Web developers have complained that Apple’s restrictions, combined with suggested underinvestment in its browser technology, lead to added costs and frustration as they have to deal with bugs and glitches when building web pages, and have no choice but to create bespoke mobile apps when a website might be sufficient.

Mike Wuerthele, writing about the investigation for AppleInsider:

Another factors cited in the investigation are “suggested underinvestment in its browser technology” leading to added costs for developers forcing developers to create mobile apps to work around problems. On the surface, this seems contradictory to the mobile gaming aspect of the investigation.

It’s not contradictory at all. The unifying thread between mobile game publishers (especially cloud gaming) and web developers is that they want to route around the iOS and Android app stores (especially Apple’s). What they’d like Apple to do is either (a) make WebKit on iOS so robust that it could be used to make games and apps that are every bit as capable as native games and apps, or (b) allow third-party rendering engines (Chrome’s, of course, being the only one they actually care about), including, of course, the ability to save web apps to the home screen using those third-party rendering engines.

If you like using Electron apps on the Mac, you’d love the future of iOS these complainants are clamoring for government regulators to mandate.

Report: Amazon Alexa Is a ‘Colossal Failure’ on Pace to Lose $10 Billion This Year 

Ron Amadeo, writing for Ars Technica:

Amazon is going through the biggest layoffs in the company’s history right now, with a plan to eliminate some 10,000 jobs. One of the areas hit hardest is the Amazon Alexa voice assistant unit, which is apparently falling out of favor at the e-commerce giant. That’s according to a report from Business Insider, which details “the swift downfall of the voice assistant and Amazon’s larger hardware division.”

Alexa has been around for 10 years and has been a trailblazing voice assistant that was copied quite a bit by Google and Apple. Alexa never managed to create an ongoing revenue stream, though, so Alexa doesn’t really make any money. The Alexa division is part of the “Worldwide Digital” group along with Amazon Prime video, and Business Insider says that division lost $3 billion in just the first quarter of 2022, with “the vast majority” of the losses blamed on Alexa. That is apparently double the losses of any other division, and the report says the hardware team is on pace to lose $10 billion this year. It sounds like Amazon is tired of burning through all that cash.

The BI report spoke with “a dozen current and former employees on the company’s hardware team,” who described “a division in crisis.” Just about every plan to monetize Alexa has failed, with one former employee calling Alexa “a colossal failure of imagination,” and “a wasted opportunity.” This month’s layoffs are the end result of years of trying to turn things around. Alexa was given a huge runway at the company, back when it was reportedly the “pet project” of former CEO Jeff Bezos.

It’s enough to make you think that HomePods aren’t expensive; it’s just that Alexa devices have been sold at a loss over the years. Also interesting that Siri (with some justification) has always been considered the worst of the big three voice assistants, and that it was held back technically (compared to Alexa and Google Assistant) by Apple’s commitment to privacy and on-device processing. The thing about Siri is that it was always at heart about making Apple’s platforms more accessible. Siri is there to make iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs, Apple Watches, and even AirPods better. And Apple isn’t losing money on any of those. Siri will serve the same purpose on future platforms from Apple, too. Apple’s investments in Siri are part and parcel investments in their OS strategy for everything they make.

What is (was?) Alexa about, strategically? I’ve often heard that the vague idea was that people would buy Alexa devices for obvious stuff (playing music, setting timers) but that eventually they’d starting using Alexa to buy stuff from Amazon — and thus wind up buying more stuff from Amazon than they would if they didn’t have an Alexa device in their house. That never made sense to me. Buying stuff via voice commands seems inherently uncertain — like buying a lottery ticket where you need some luck to actually get the product you think you told Alexa to buy. Even if it works, how is it any better than just shopping at Amazon on your phone, iPad, or computer? It seems worse to me, and no more convenient. How do you comparison shop via voice?

For any task X on a new platform, if doing X is not far easier than just doing X on your phone, X is never going to be a reason to use that new platform.

Bob Iger Returning as Disney CEO; Bob Chapek Fired by Board 

Alex Weprin, reporting for The Hollywood Reporter:

In a stunning turn of events, The Walt Disney Co. says that Bob Chapek will step down as CEO, with Bob Iger returning to lead the company. Disney’s board of directors announced the decision Sunday night.

Not just Sunday night, late Sunday night. There was some Succession-style drama going on behind the scenes at Disney this weekend. “Effective immediately” is not a phrase major corporations apply lightly.

Chapek had just signed a new multi-year contract in June, after speculation following the ouster of TV chief Peter Rice earlier that month prompted the board to issue a notable public statement backing the CEO after the move.

Iger even acknowledged in an email to Disney employees Sunday that he is returning “with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility — and, I must admit, a bit of amazement.”

Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings, in a tweet after the news broke last night:

Ugh. I had been hoping Iger would run for President. He is amazing.

That, my friends, is a how a CEO should wield humor on Twitter. Deftly, and with class.

TSMC Planning 3-Nanometer Chip Production in Arizona 

Sarah Wu, reporting for Reuters:

Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC is planning to produce chips with advanced 3-nanometer technology at its new factory in the U.S. state of Arizona but the plans are not completely finalised yet, the company’s founder Morris Chang said on Monday. [...]

Chang, speaking to reporters in Taipei after returning from the APEC summit in Thailand, said the 3-nanometer plant would be located at the same Arizona site as the 5-nanometre plant. “Three-nanometer, TSMC right now has a plan, but it has not been completely finalised,” said Chang, who has retired from TSMC but remains influential in the company and the broader chip industry. “It has almost been finalised — in the same Arizona site, phase two. Five-nanometer is phase one, 3-nanometer is phase two.”

Would be a big win in all sorts of ways if this comes to pass.

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, Largest Traded Cryptocurrency Fund, Hits Record Lows 

Web3 continues to go just great too. Molly White:

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), the largest publicly traded crypto fund, hit record lows in the wake of the FTX collapse. The fund was trading at nearly a 50% discount on the underlying Bitcoin asset, as holders rushed to sell off their GBTC holdings.

This was not helped by Grayscale’s response to those in crypto who were pushing Grayscale to follow suit with some other crypto platforms and publish proof of reserves. Grayscale announced that “due to security concerns, we do not make such on-chain wallet information and confirmation information publicly available through a cryptographic Proof-of-Reserve, or other advanced cryptographic accounting procedure”. They did not elaborate on what these “security concerns” might be, and stoked fears in some that the company might not have the backing they ought to have.

This is totally normal, on the up-the-up, and doesn’t sound at all like a scam about to fall apart. Just like the rest of the cryptocurrency world.

England, Other Teams Drop Plans to Wear Antidiscrimination Armbands at Qatar World Cup 

The Wall Street Journal:

Hours before their opening games of the 2022 World Cup, England and Wales abandoned plans to wear rainbow armbands after FIFA threatened to sanction players for breaking tournament rules.

In one of the early flashpoints of the tournament, FIFA on Sunday notified seven European teams that players would be subject to sporting sanctions, including automatic yellow cards, for wearing the “One Love” armbands, which were designed to send a message against discrimination. The target was widely understood to be anti-homosexuality laws in Qatar.

Like I wrote over the weekend, choosing to host the World Cup in a repressive right-wing religious dictatorship is going just great.


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Fred Brooks, Titan of Computer Science, Dies at 91 

Steven Bellovin:

Brooks is famous for many things. Many people know him best as the author of The Mythical Man-Month, his musings on software engineering and why it’s so very hard. Some of his prescriptions seem quaint today — no one these days would print out documentation on microfiche every night to distribute to developers — but his observations about the problems of development remain spot-on. But he did so much more. [...]

He was also a lead on a failed project, the IBM 8000 series. He tried to resign from IBM after it failed; [CEO Thomas] Watson replied, “I just spent a billion dollars educating you; I’m not letting you go now!”

Has Anyone Started a ‘World Cup in Qatar Is Going Just Great’ Site Yet? 

Tariq Panja and Rory Smith, in a crackling, deeply-sourced report for The New York Times on how soccer’s World Cup wound up being hosted in Qatar (spoiler: millions and million of dollars in bribes):

As the country fine-tuned its bid for the World Cup, its representatives spent hours in media training sessions with public-relations consultants drafted in from Europe, trying to craft responses to potentially awkward inquiries about the country’s treatment of migrant workers and its attitude toward gay rights.

It was uneasy ground for even the most senior officials, given that homosexuality was, and is, illegal in Qatar. In one media training session viewed by The New York Times, Sheikh Mohammed, the youngest son of the country’s ruler at the time, replied to a mock question on the subject by insisting that all visitors to the country would be welcomed.

When a media trainer responded by pointing out that a journalist might follow up by asking how that can be squared with laws that criminalize homosexuality, the prince responded, “It’s illegal in most countries.” Uncertain, his eyes darted from side to side. “Isn’t it?”

What could go wrong?

This sounds like a totally normal press conference with FIFA chief Gianni Infantino defending this whole shameful debacle:

He insisted fears over the treatment of LGBTQ+ people attending the World Cup were overstated, and repeatedly said they were welcome in Qatar even though homosexuality remains criminalized in the country. “Everyone’s security is guaranteed, from the highest level of government,” Infantino said. “This is the guarantee we’ve given, and we stick with it.”

He then sought to play down Friday’s abrupt U-turn on the availability of beer at stadiums, a last-minute change that shocked the longtime FIFA partner most affected by it, Budweiser. Far from souring that relationship, Infantino insisted, the sudden rupture had in fact strengthened the relationship with the brewer. [...]

“I feel 200 percent in control of this World Cup,” he said.

FIFA is 200 percent in control of the World Cup, Budweiser is 300 percent happy with beer being banned two days before the tournament started, and LGBT attendees are 400 percent welcome and safe in Qatar.

The Talk Show: ‘Grand Scale Foot-Shooting’ 

Special guest: Anil Dash. A little about last week’s U.S. midterm elections, and a lot about what’s going on at Twitter under Elon Musk.

Sponsored by:

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‘Twitter Is Going Great’ 

New site modeled after Molly White’s ever-excellent Web3 Is Going Just Great.

Apple Releases Rapid Security Response Update for iOS 16.2 Beta Users 

Speaking of iOS 16.2 betas, Eric Slivka at MacRumors reports:

One of the new features in iOS 16 is Rapid Security Response, which lets Apple push out important security fixes to users without requiring a full iOS update. For users running the iOS 16.2 beta, Apple today released one of those updates to deliver unspecified bug fixes affecting the software.

iOS Security Response 16.2 (a) arrives via the standard Software Update mechanism in the Settings app, but is a relatively quick update, requiring just a couple of minutes to download and prepare the update and then a quick restart and install process.

iOS 16.2 Includes Settings to Make the iPhone 14 Pro Always-on Display Not So ‘On’ 

Raymond Wong, writing at Inverse:

Apple released the latest iOS 16.2 beta 3 earlier this week, and as usual, testers quickly picked it apart. Notably, there are two new toggles within Settings → Display & Brightness → Always On Display, one for showing your wallpaper, and one for notifications.

Toggle both to not show, and your iPhone 14 Pro’s lock screen will turn black instead of dimming your wallpaper; only the date and time will be visible when the always-on display setting is on. This makes the iPhone 14 Pro’s always-on display work just like it does on pretty much every Android phone’s always-on display. And because the always-on display will be black when both settings are turned off, it should reduce the amount of battery draw because each black pixel in the OLED display is technically not turned on.

From my iPhone 14 Pro review back in September:

The second super interesting thing about the iPhones 14 Pro is the always-on display. It is really weird. Not weird because it’s a bad idea, but weird because battery life has always been, and remains, a precious resource to be conserved on smartphones. And, until now, one of the surest ways to run down your battery has been to leave your phone in an unattended state while the display remains on. When you look over to your side at your desk, where your iPhone rests face up, and the screen is on despite your knowing that you haven’t touched it in a while, it feels wrong. Like there’s a bug in iOS that’s preventing the screen from going to sleep or something. Over and over and over this past week, I’ve glanced at this iPhone 14 Pro in the always-on state, and I experienced a micro jolt of panic: Whoa, why is the screen on? Oh, yeah, always-on....

Two months later and the always-on display still feels weird to me. My day-to-day battery life has been as good or better than with the iPhone 13 Pro, so I don’t think that’s a reason to turn it off. But for me, feeling weird is a reason.

Who Said It: Elon Musk or Mr. Burns? 

The New Republic:

The Simpsons’s Mr. Burns and Elon Musk share an eerie number of similarities. Each is the richest person in his respective universe — Springfield for the former, planet Earth for the latter. They boast about their green energy initiatives of electric cars and nuclear power plants, but use their power to advance right-wing politics and fuel their petty personal grievances. Test yourself below to see how well you can separate our cartoonish reality from the world of The Simpsons.

I scored 92 percent — one wrong. But I had to think about each one, and often voted more on grammar than substance. I know how Monty Burns speaks.

Tesla Doesn’t Advertise 

As a quick follow-up to my previous item on Elon Musk not having experience with brand advertisers, it’s worth noting that Tesla, quite famously, doesn’t advertise. That’s highly unusual, if not unique, for a mass-market automaker.

Eli Lilly Stock Dipped After a Verified Twitter Imposter Claimed Insulin Would Now Be Free 

Sara Boboltz, reporting for HuffPost:

Eli Lilly’s stock dipped Friday morning after someone paid $8 to verify a Twitter handle resembling that of the pharmaceutical giant and posted: “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.”

Insulin, of course, is not free. In the U.S., one study released this summer found that the high price of the lifesaving drug puts an extreme financial burden on about 14% of the 7 million Americans who need it regularly. […]

The Eli Lilly imposter verified the handle @EliLillyandCo, taking advantage of Twitter’s new rules governing who gets to have a verified account. The company’s real handle is @LillyPad.

There are, like, a thousand interesting stories about Twitter under Elon Musk’s ownership, and this is just one. But there are several interesting angles to just this one story:

  • The verified-but-parodic account, “@EliLillyandCo”, had a more serious-looking username than Eli Lilly’s actual account, “@LillyPad”.

  • This prank has done more to bring attention to the shameful state of insulin pricing in the U.S. than anything in decades.

  • The question I think most worth asking about Musk’s thus-far very tumultuous leadership of Twitter is this: What exactly has he been surprised by? Obviously quite a few of his changes, thus far, have angered/upset/offended people. But I don’t think most of that has surprised him. I think one thing that has surprised him is the lowercase-c conservative nature of advertisers. Elon Musk is, quite obviously, a polymath. There aren’t many similarities between PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX, other than the fundamental truth that everything in the world (including payments, cars, and rockets) is getting computerized. Either turned into computers or turned into software running on computers somewhere. But none of Musk’s previous endeavors have involved serving advertisers. Reputable high-quality advertisers not only want to avoid controversy and polarization and especially uncertainty, they will flee from it. It doesn’t matter if Twitter today is more popular/used than it was three weeks ago — it is less desirable as a place to spend advertising budgets because it is more uncertain. Twitter (as it stands today and for the foreseeable future) needs advertisers; advertisers do not need Twitter. I don’t think Musk understood that until now.

(I’m curious what else you think has surprised Musk about Twitter thus far. Not what you think Musk is wrong about, per se, but what he is already surprised about.)


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Yours Truly on The MacRumors Show 

MacRumors Show cohosts Dan Barbera and Hartley Charlton were kind enough to invite me on their show this week:

In this episode, we take a closer look at new features in macOS Ventura like Stage Manager, Continuity Camera, and the redesigned System Settings app. We discuss the current state of the Mac lineup and our favorite models, whether the launch of new Mac models is delayed, and upgrades from next-generation MacBook Pro models. With Apple now passing the initial timeframe it set out to transition the entire Mac lineup to Apple silicon, we also take a look at what to expect from the upcoming Mac Pro.

A lot to talk about in just over an hour. One thing that occurred to me while we were recording is that while there’s much to debate (and speculate about) regarding the company’s wide-ranging product lineups — hardware, software, wearables, services, original TV and movie content — you can’t complain that this is a boring time to be closely following Apple.

Film Composer Carter Burwell, Known as ‘the Third Coen Brother’ 

Fascinating profile by David Owen of composer Carter Burwell, a name I feel I should have known better beforehand. (I am an enormous fan of his collaborations with the Coen Brothers.)

In a lecture at the Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, in Glasgow, in 2001, Burwell said that he usually urges directors to use as little music as possible, because movies, like life, are most interesting “when you don’t know what’s going on, and you’re uncomfortable about it.” Ron Sadoff, the director and founder of the screen-scoring program at N.Y.U., told me, “Carter doesn’t do what’s called Mickey Mousing, where you try to touch every little element of the film with music. His approach is much more conceptual.” In the score for Fargo, the Coens’ sixth film, Burwell used a Hardanger fiddle, a Norwegian instrument that has two sets of strings, one of which isn’t bowed but resonates with the other. (That choice was inspired by the Scandinavian names of some of the characters.) His goal was to help make a darkly improbable comedy seem as straightforward as a news bulletin, an effect established with the title sequence, in which a car is being towed across a white-out winter landscape, accompanied by a fiddle-and-percussion passage that swells into something like a funeral march. Ethan Coen told me, “People don’t realize how much of what they’re getting from a movie is from the score, delivered by the composer. It’s powerful, but, for the life of you, you can’t say what it means.”

“To help make a darkly improbable comedy seem as straightforward as a news bulletin” — what a wonderful description of Fargo, but what a seemingly impossible task to pull off.

Inside the Twitter Meltdown 

Casey Newton and Zoë Schiffer, reporting for Platformer:

Musk’s whim-based approach to product development, his rapidly depleting executive ranks, and the very real likelihood of hundreds or even thousands of additional departures at the company in coming weeks threaten to leave Twitter a shadow of its former self. And much of the reason for that is Musk himself: the way he treated his employees and the product they built; the sage advice he ignored; the business fundamentals that he misunderstood.

Musk’s takeover of the company had been so brutish and poorly planned that, we’re told, there was not even a proper handover of the company’s social accounts. As a result, having spent $44 billion to acquire Twitter, for his first week-plus of owning the company, Musk and his team were unable even to tweet from the @twitter account.



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‘Twitter, Cut in Half’ 

Casey Newton and Zoë Schiffer, writing at Platformer:

Eight days into Musk’s ownership of Twitter, many pundits have begun to predict that this is the beginning of the end. No one can quite imagine a world without Twitter, but no one can quite imagine this version of Twitter surviving, either.

Chinese COVID-19 Restrictions Now Affecting Shipments of iPhones 14 Pro and Pro Max 


COVID-19 restrictions have temporarily impacted the primary iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max assembly facility located in Zhengzhou, China. The facility is currently operating at significantly reduced capacity. As we have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prioritizing the health and safety of the workers in our supply chain.

We continue to see strong demand for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models. However, we now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated and customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.

The writing has been on the wall with this outbreak.

Tony Fadell Joins Arm Board of Directors 

I think this is interesting, but I’m not sure what to make of it. Worth noting, though, no matter what.

Substitute Web Fonts With StopTheMadness 

Jeff Johnson:

I got a feature request from John Gruber, famous for Daring Fireball, also famous for despising the Arial typeface.

Honestly, the most shocking thing about the Apple Developer Program License Agreement is that the PDF is entirely typeset in Arial. Clearly it should be San Francisco, but Helvetica would be acceptable. Arial should be a firing offense.

What you may not know about Gruber, though, is that as much as he despises Arial, he dislikes Courier New even more! If Arial demands firing, then I suppose that Courier New demands… the firing squad? Anyway, Gruber requested that my Safari extension StopTheMadness add font substitution rules in order to replace all instances of Arial on the web with Helvetica and all instances of Courier New with Courier.

I told Gruber that he didn’t need to wait for me to add the feature, because substituting fonts was already possible in StopTheMadness on both desktop and mobile by using a custom <style> element containing some @font-face rules.

My favorite response to a feature request is always “Actually, you can do that now...”.

It’s such a little thing, and I know most people can’t detect the differences between Helvetica and Arial and don’t care, but it makes me so happy every day never to see the cursed fonts Arial and Courier New.

Also, if you prefer, you can substitute the system font — San Francisco — for Arial with the following CSS on the appropriate lines in Johnson’s rules:

src: local("system-ui");

If you’re not using StopTheMadness, you’re missing out.

Update 21 November 2022: Font substitution is now a built-in feature, with no need for custom CSS rules. Even better!

Speed Running the Content Moderation Learning Curve 

Mike Masnick, Techdirt:

And because I do hope that Musk succeeds and Twitter remains viable, I wanted to see if we might help him (and anyone else) speed run the basics of the content moderation learning curve that most newbies run into. The order of the levels and the seriousness of each can change over time, and how it all fits together may be somewhat different, but, in the end, basically every major social media platform ends up in this same place eventually (the place Twitter was already at when Musk insisted he needed to tear things down and start again).

Keep that popcorn popping. See What JavaScript Commands Get Injected Through an in-App Browser 

Felix Krause, back in September:

Last week I published a report on the risks of mobile apps using in-app browsers. Some apps, like Instagram and Facebook, inject JavaScript code into third party websites that cause potential security and privacy risks to the user.

I was so happy to see the article featured by major media outlets across the globe, like TheGuardian and The Register, generated a over a million impressions on Twitter, and was ranked #1 on HackerNews for more than 12 hours. After reading through the replies and DMs, I saw a common question across the community:

“How can I verify what apps do in their webviews?”

Introducing, a simple tool to list the JavaScript commands executed by the iOS app rendering the page.

It’s pretty creepy that TikTok both injects a JavaScript keylogger and does not have a button to open the current page in Safari.

I understand why in-app browsers are a thing on iOS (and iPadOS) but not on MacOS, but when you really think about it, it’s quite strange, and a vestige of the past when multitasking on iOS was so much more limited. Whenever possible, open links in Safari (or whatever your default browser is).

Jony Ive on Life After Apple 

Elisa Lipsky-Karasz, writing for the WSJ:

One of the first employees hired by Ive was a full-time writer. (There are now more than 30 employees, many of whom worked with him at Apple.) Ive says LoveFrom is the only creative practice he knows of to have an on-staff scribe whose job is, in part, to help conjure into words the ideas that his team of graphic designers, architects, sound engineers and industrial designers come up with for its collaborations with Airbnb, Ferrari and others.

Interesting profile, but only insofar as I think it would be nearly impossible to write a profile of Ive that wasn’t interesting to some degree.

Austin Mann’s iPhone 14 Pro Camera Review 

I should have linked to this a month ago, but better late than never.

iPhone 14 Pro Camera Review: A Small Step, a Huge Leap — Lux 

Sebastiaan de With, writing for the Lux blog (the makers of Halide):

I took the iPhone 14 Pro on a trip around San Francisco and Northern California, to the remote Himalayas and mountains of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and Tokyo — to test every aspect of its image-making, and I have to say that I was pretty blown away by the results of the main camera.

While arguably, a quad-bayer sensor should not give true 48-megapixel sensor resolution as one might get from, say, a comparable ‘proper’ digital camera, the results out of the iPhone 14 Pro gave me chills. I have simply never gotten image quality like this out of a phone. There’s more here than just resolution; the way the new 48 megapixel sensor renders the image is unique and simply tremendously different than what I’ve seen before.

Inspiring and informative.

Factory Run by Foxconn Placed Under Total COVID Lockdown in China 

Duncan DeAeth, reporting for The Taiwan News:

Chinese authorities in Zhengzhou on Wednesday (Nov. 2) placed the world’s largest iPhone assembly site, run by Taiwan’s Foxconn, on lockdown in response to a local COVID outbreak.

The move to quarantine the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone follows reports that employees have been fleeing to escape the restrictive environment over the past few days. Placing the factory under a “static management” policy, a euphemism for total lockdown, also comes a day after reports that Foxconn plans to decrease production at the facility over the coming months.


China ordered an industrial park that houses an iPhone factory belonging to Foxconn to enter a seven-day lockdown on Wednesday, in a move set to intensify pressure on the Apple supplier as it scrambles to quell worker discontent at the base. The Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone in central China said it would impose “silent management” measures with immediate effect, including barring all residents from going out and only allowing approved vehicles on roads within that area.

I don’t have much to say about this other than that it feels like a situation worth keeping an eye on.

Rolex’s First Titanium Watch 

Blake Buettner, writing for Worn & Wound:

In a surprising move this morning Rolex, along with filmmaker/adventurer extraordinaire James Cameron, revealed a new Deepsea Challenge in the reference 126067. Rolex enthusiasts will immediately notice something new about that number, and that’s the 7 at the very end. That last digit denotes the case material, and until now a 7 has never been used. That’s because this watch represents the first commercially available Rolex crafted from titanium. That may be a first, but this really a reference that celebrates the past in a way rarely seen from the brand. That said, the most exciting details of this watch are what it might say about future releases.

The two most interesting new watches of the year, to me, are both exclusively made with titanium cases.

See Also: This video with James Cameron.

UI Browser’s Future 

Bill Cheeseman:

UI Browser 3 reached its end of life and was retired on October 17, 2022. It can no longer be purchased. The last release of UI Browser, version 3.0.2, will not be updated, and support is no longer available. Owners of an existing license for UI Browser can continue to download the UI Browser 3.0.2 disk image from Late Night Software’s Freeware website. It will remain available for a limited time. [...]

UI Browser 4 is now available for development as a public GitHub open source project, and it is open for discussion on the UI Browser Discussion page of the Late Night Software Forum. It is written in Swift. As initially posted, it is only minimally functional and requires much more work to become useful. (While many of the code files refer to UI Browser 3, they are in fact all part of UI Browser 4. Although they display a copyright notice, Bill Cheeseman and PFiddlesoft hereby dedicate them to the public domain.)

You may recall my post from back in April, when Cheeseman first announced his and UI Browser’s retirement, singing UI Browser’s praises. UI Browser is truly an astonishing utility, and I’m hopeful it now has a future.

Uber Tests Push Notification Ads 

Rebecca Bellan, reporting for TechCrunch:

Uber recently launched its new advertising division and in-app ads. Apparently, those ads aren’t staying within the app.

Instead, ads from other companies are being sent out as push notifications, much to the chagrin of some Uber users. Over the weekend, people turned to Twitter to complain about the notifications, sharing screenshots of ads, including one particularly popular one from Peloton that Uber had sent out. One of the primary complaints: notifications are being sent out when users aren’t engaging with the app.

A few weeks ago on my podcast, Nilay Patel and I speculated about Uber putting ads in the Dynamic Island after you’ve hailed a ride. This isn’t that, but it exemplifies why we singled out Uber as a potential abuser.

I wish I had more confidence that Apple will enforce the clear App Store guidelines that forbid this:

4.5.4 — Push Notifications must not be required for the app to function, and should not be used to send sensitive personal or confidential information. Push Notifications should not be used for promotions or direct marketing purposes unless customers have explicitly opted in to receive them via consent language displayed in your app’s UI, and you provide a method in your app for a user to opt out from receiving such messages. Abuse of these services may result in revocation of your privileges.