Linked List: April 2023

Limited Edition: Atoms × MKBHD Sneaker M251 

My thanks to Atoms for sponsoring last week to promote their sweet new sneakers: a limited edition collaboration with Marques Brownlee. The mid-top Model 251 sneaker features a sleek design that blends style and comfort, paying homage to Marques’s first YouTube video — 2m:51s long — and the start of his journey as a creator.

They hooked me up with a pair and they are nice. (Where’s that chef’s kiss emoji?) Same great fit and comfort as regular Atoms, with a very distinct look. I don’t even need to tell you the colors. Available only until May 23 — check them out while they’re available.


The Pixelmator blog:

A new update for Photomator is now available, bringing a ton of fantastic new features, changes, and improvements. But hold on, did we say Photomator? That’s right — the app now has a snappier and catchier new name! To complete the makeover, version 2.3 also features a beautiful, refreshed design, but the biggest highlight of this update lies beyond the looks.

We’re excited to introduce an all-new and incredibly powerful selective adjustments feature that will completely change the way you edit photos in Photomator. From now on, you can easily select and edit specific areas of a photo using a variety of selections and masks, and even make selections automatically, using AI. There are just so many great new features in this update, so read along if you’d like to learn all about them, and stick around till the end for one more, very exciting announcement.

Just a terrific app that presses the boundaries of how good an iOS app can be.

More on GM Dropping CarPlay 

Brian Sozzi, reporting for Yahoo Finance:

GM told investors on Tuesday it’s looking to achieve profit margins of more than 20% on “new businesses” by 2030. That would be above the company’s overall 2030 operating margin goal of 12% to 14%.

Pros have speculated GM could charge subscriptions for services such as insurance by tapping into an accumulating stream of data that it owns.

“It’s part of where we’re going as a company,” Jacobson added. “Obviously data and software is a big competitive space across the board.”

The more I read about GM’s thinking, the more alarming it seems. It doesn’t seem to be about being able to provide a better experience than CarPlay, but instead about collecting surveillance data that Apple’s privacy rules don’t allow. Sozzi just breezes past this notion of using surveillance data to sell car insurance, but a car that reports such data to insurance companies seems like a privacy disaster. My insurance company doesn’t need to know how fast I drive, or where I go and when.

Rest of World: ‘Twitter Is Complying With More Government Demands Under Elon Musk’ 

Rest of World:

It’s been exactly six months since Elon Musk took over Twitter, promising a new era of free speech and independence from political bias. But Twitter’s self-reported data shows that, under Musk, the company has complied with hundreds more government orders for censorship or surveillance — especially in countries such as Turkey and India.

The data, drawn from Twitter’s reports to the Lumen database, shows that between October 27, 2022 and April 26, 2023, Twitter received a total of 971 requests from governments and courts. These requests included orders to remove controversial posts, as well as demands that Twitter produce private data to identify anonymous accounts. Twitter reported that it fully complied in 808 of those requests, and partially complied in 154 other cases. (For nine requests, it did not report any specific response.)

Free speech!

See also: Mike Masnick at Techdirt:

This isn’t a transparency report. It’s an obfuscation report. And, if Elon is correct that “transparency is the key to trust,” this report suggests you shouldn’t trust Twitter one bit.

Beating Roulette 

Kit Chellel, in an enthralling piece for Bloomberg:

I spent six months investigating the clandestine world of professional roulette players to find out who Tosa is and how he beat the system. The search took me deep into a secret war between those who make a living betting on the wheel and those who try to stop them — and ultimately to an encounter with Tosa himself. The British press got plenty wrong in their reports about what happened on the night of March 15, 2004. There was no laser. But the newspapers were right about one thing: It is possible to beat roulette.

The Talk Show: ‘This Guy Reads a Lot Better’ 

Special guest Quinn Nelson joins the show to talk about Apple’s rumored AR/VR headset, Apple silicon, and more.

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Yours Truly With Rene Ritchie Speculating on WWDC 

Spoiler: I’m hoping to see something akin to GitHub Copilot in Xcode.

CNBC: ‘Apple Declares Victory After Decision Reached in Epic Games Appeal’ 


An appeals court on Monday mostly sided with Apple over its App Store rules in a suit with Epic Games. The decision signals that Apple’s control over the App Store and the fees it charges likely won’t significantly change as a result of an ongoing legal challenge by Epic Games.

Long story short, Epic has been barking up the wrong tree.

The Twitter Blue Apocalypse Is Nigh 

Climate scientist Peter Gleick:

Any tweet now with science, data, and facts about #climatechange is now swarmed by climate-denying trolls, bots, and idiots because science, data, and facts scare the hell out of them, and because Elon’s Twitter now promotes them. What a cesspool. Example:

I think there’s a line of thought that Elon Musk had months ago ruined Twitter, but the last few days have shown that it’s gotten far worse than ever before. The main buyers of Twitter Blue are, indeed, “trolls, bots, and idiots”, and Twitter is now hardwired to prioritize tweets and replies from those accounts.

The blue-check accounts now are just Catturd, people who want to be Catturd, and million-plus-follower users who sure as shit are not paying for their verification status.

Here’s a tweet from MIT’s official account that simply states a fact: “We did not subscribe to Twitter Blue.” Look at the replies. They’re all blue-check MAGA-hats.

CNN Fires Star Anchor Don Lemon 

Michael M. Grynbaum, John Koblin, and Benjamin Mullin, reporting for The New York Times:

“CNN and Don have parted ways,” Chris Licht, CNN’s chairman, said in a statement. “Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.”

That benign language contrasted sharply with Mr. Lemon’s interpretation of the day’s events. In a scathing message on Twitter, Mr. Lemon told viewers that he was abruptly informed by his talent agent “that I have been terminated by CNN.”

“I am stunned,” Mr. Lemon wrote. “After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly. At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network.” (CNN disputed Mr. Lemon’s account, saying the anchor “was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”)

In a clear sign of acrimony, Mr. Lemon has retained the aggressive Hollywood litigator Bryan Freedman to handle his exit. His contract with CNN runs through 2026, according to two people with direct knowledge of his deal.

Brian Stelter: “It’s the craziest day in cable news history.”

Fox News Dumps Tucker Carlson 

The New York Times:

Fox News said Monday that it was parting ways with Tucker Carlson, its most popular prime time host who was also the source of repeated controversies and headaches for the network because of his statements on everything from race relations to L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

The network made the announcement less than a week after it agreed to pay $787.5 million in a defamation lawsuit in which Mr. Carlson’s show, one of the highest rated on Fox, figured prominently for its role in spreading misinformation after the 2020 election.

In making its announcement, Fox offered a terse statement of gratitude. “Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor,” it said.

Aaron Rupar:

Here was the end of what turned out to be Tucker Carlson’s final Fox News show last Friday. Certainly no indication that he didn’t expect to be on the air tonight. In fact Tucker’s final words are, “We’ll be back on Monday.”

Brian Stelter:

Let’s make one thing very clear: Tucker Carlson did not choose to leave Fox News like this. Others can decide whether the word “fired” applies here, but he isn’t leaving on his own terms.

It seems like it’s unlikely to be a complete coincidence that Fox News settled the Dominion lawsuit for nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars, but odious though Carlson may be, he wasn’t really at the forefront of Fox’s election lies. Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs were — and they’re both still employed at Fox.

Some people are speculating that it might be acquiescence to The Boss in Mar-a-Lago, after text messages uncovered in the Dominion suit revealed Carlson writing to colleagues, of Trump, “I hate him passionately.” But if Trump had a grudge against Carlson, why did he do an interview on Carlson’s show just two weeks ago?

Makes me think something else is going on. Maybe some sort of harassment situation? Or maybe the Murdochs figured someone had to be fired, and it might as well be the guy who’s too big for his britches?

Update: The LA Times:

People familiar with the situation who were not authorized to comment publicly said the decision to fire Carlson came straight from Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch. Carlson’s exit is related to the discrimination lawsuit filed by Abby Grossberg, the producer fired by the network last month, the people said. Carlson’s senior executive producer Justin Wells has also been terminated, according to people familiar with the matter.

DF Sponsorship Openings 

Speaking of weekly sponsorships, there’s only one opening left before the end of June: next week.

Weekly sponsorships have been the top source of revenue for Daring Fireball ever since I started selling them back in 2007. They’ve succeeded, I think, because they make everyone happy. There’s only one sponsor per week and the sponsors are always relevant to at least some sizable portion of the DF audience, so you, the reader, are never annoyed and hopefully often intrigued by them. And, from the sponsors’ perspective, they work. My favorite thing about them is how many sponsors return for subsequent weeks after seeing the results.

If you’ve got a product or service you think would be of interest to DF’s audience of people obsessed with high quality and good design, get in touch. If this quarter is a sign, the summer months will start filling up soon. And as I mentioned above, if you’ve got something to promote right now, next week is the opening left this quarter.


My thanks to Kolide for their continuing sponsorship support here at DF — they co-sponsored the latest episode of The Talk Show that dropped last night, and they sponsored this entire week here at the website. They’re a great company with a great product.

Here’s an uncomfortable fact: at most companies, employees can download sensitive company data onto any device, keep it there forever, and never even know that they’re doing something wrong. Kolide’s new report, The State of Sensitive Data, addresses this issue head-on.

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To learn more and see Kolide in action, visit

The Talk Show: ‘$8 Billion in Late Fees’ 

Rene Ritchie returns to the show to discuss generative AI (and what Apple might soon do with it), iPhone passcodes and iCloud device security, HBO Max turning into just plain Max, and Make Something Wonderful  —  one more thing from Steve Jobs.

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BuzzFeed News Is Shutting Down 

Ben Smith, writing at Semafor:

My old boss and partner Jonah Peretti announced today that he’s shutting down BuzzFeed News, which we built together starting in 2012.

He wrote to staff that he’d been ​​”slow to accept that the big platforms wouldn’t provide the distribution or financial support required to support premium-free journalism purpose-built for social media.” And he wrote that he could have managed the many business challenges that BuzzFeed has faced better.

The news makes me heartsick.

Peretti hired me in 2012 to build a news organization for the exploding social web. For a few years, we felt the wind of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at our backs, and we did journalism that treated those sites as the front page of the new internet. At first, we celebrated and immersed ourselves in an optimistic web culture that imagined a reader who cared about which Disney princess she was, and also the worst of how the American justice system treated abused women, who wanted to argue about the color of the dress and also understand the science behind it. That was back when all of it mixed up in your Facebook feed, and it felt novel.

BuzzFeed News did great work and employed some terrific reporters, but they never had a plan to turn a profit that made any more sense than that of the underwear-collecting gnomes on South Park.

Humane Previews AI-Powered Wearable at TED 

Ina Fried, reporting for Axios:

Ex-Apple employee Imran Chaudhri gave TED attendees on Thursday an early glimpse of the AI-powered wearable that his startup, Humane, has been developing. [...]

The screenless device, which does not require a nearby cell phone to work, uses a combination of voice and gestures for input and can display information by projecting it onto nearby objects.

Details: In his TED talk, Chaudhri showed the wearable, which sat in his jacket pocket, translating his own voice into French.

  • He also answered a phone call from his wife with the call information appearing as a green image projected onto his hand.

  • “This is good AI in action,” he said, promising more details would be released in the coming months.

The device — which seemingly doesn’t yet have an announced name? — looks about 2 inches wide and 1 inch high, and is worn on your chest like a Star Trek communicator badge. Here’s an image of the phone call information projected onto Chaudhri’s hand. Hope the whole demo is released on video soon.

Update: Actually, now that I look at the video clips that are available, I think the device is quite a bit bigger, and Chaudhri has it peeking out of a pocket on his jacket? Unclear.

‘Arcade Game Typography’ by Toshi Omagari 

Read-Only Memory, video game book publishers extraordinaire:

The first book of its kind — a definitive and beautifully designed survey of ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s arcade game pixel typography. Exhaustively researched by author Toshi Omagari (a celebrated typeface designer at Monotype UK) Arcade Game Typography gathers together 250 pixel typefaces, all carefully chosen, extracted, redrawn and categorised by style, and each with an accompanying commentary by Omagari. The title also features 4 illustrated essays on videogame typography theory and practice, documenting the unique advantages and challenges presented to designers of these bold, playful and often quirky alphabets.

I bought and devoured this book back in October 2019, but somehow never recommended it here on Daring Fireball. I should be arrested for dereliction of duty. But I was reminded of it today by this toot from Antony Johnston.

A book about classic arcade game fonts is so obviously up my alley that I’d probably enjoy a bad book about them. But Arcade Game Typography is an exquisitely good book: deeply researched, beautifully illustrated with copious screenshots and close-up pixel-by-pixel details, and engagingly written by Omagari. I’m linking here to the limited edition hardcover, which costs $46, but there’s also a high-quality paperback edition for $28. (Buy through that Amazon link and you’ll make me rich with a cut of the dough.) If you don’t want this book you’re either too young or you’re not hooked up right.

See also: Estelle Caswell interviewed Omagari in 2020 in a video for Vox, focusing specifically on the 8x8 pixel Quiz Show font, a.k.a. the arcade font.

The Oakland A’s Are Moving to Las Vegas 

Mick Akers, reporting for The Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The Oakland Athletics have zeroed in on Southern Nevada, signing a binding purchase agreement for land just west of the Strip where a major-league ballpark could be constructed. The agreement is for 49 acres at Dean Martin Drive and Tropicana Avenue, owned by Red Rock Resorts, parent company of Station Casinos.

That’s close to T-Mobile Arena (home of the NHL Golden Knights), behind the New York New York casino complex.

“For a while we were on parallel paths (with Oakland), but we have turned our attention to Las Vegas to get a deal here for the A’s and find a long-term home,” A’s President Dave Kaval told the Review-Journal on Wednesday. “Oakland has been a great home for us for over 50 years, but we really need this 20-year saga completed and we feel there’s a path here in Southern Nevada to do that.”

With the announcement of the purchase agreement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred concurs with Kaval and hopes the A’s shifting their efforts solely to Southern Nevada will lead to the end of the team’s yearslong quest to leave crumbling Oakland Coliseum.

Recent embarrassments for the A’s in Oakland include a game against the Cleveland Guardians that drew just 3,000 fans, and a possum that lives within the walls of the visiting press boxes, which stunk them up so badly that the Mets’ broadcast team had to move to another box.

Warren Buffett on Apple 

Warren Buffett, asked on CNBC about Berkshire Hathaway’s largest holding, Apple (they own nearly 6 percent of Apple’s stock)

“If you’re an Apple user and somebody offers you $10,000, but the only proviso is they’ll take away your iPhone and you’ll never be able to buy another, you’re not going to take it. If they tell you if you buy another Ford car — they’ll give you $10,000 not to do that — you’ll take the $10,000 and you’ll buy a Chevy instead.”

Buffett, famously, isn’t technically minded. But I think that helps him understand Apple’s value. He’s right: Apple’s moat is customer loyalty, and that loyalty is earned through user experiences that other companies can’t match.

Using Ford and Chevy as his counterexamples is serendipitous, as Dare Obasanjo quipped:

Someone should print this tweet out, frame it and give it to the CEO of GM in commemoration of their decision to stop supporting CarPlay in their vehicles.

It’s true. The anger over GM’s decision to drop CarPlay and Android Auto support in its EVs is really only anger about dropping CarPlay.

WhatsApp, Signal, and Other Secure Messaging Platforms Write Open Letter to the UK Government Defending End-to-End Encryption 

From an open letter signed by the leaders of WhatsApp, Signal, Viber, and a few other secure services:

Proponents say that they appreciate the importance of encryption and privacy while also claiming that it’s possible to surveil everyone’s messages without undermining end-to-end encryption. The truth is that this is not possible.

We aren’t the only ones who share concerns about the UK Bill. The United Nations has warned that the UK Government’s efforts to impose backdoor requirements constitute “a paradigm shift that raises a host of serious problems with potentially dire consequences”. Even the UK Government itself has acknowledged the privacy risks that the text of the Bill poses, but has said its “intention” isn’t for the Bill to be interpreted this way.

Global providers of end-to-end encrypted products and services cannot weaken the security of their products and services to suit individual governments. There cannot be a “British internet,” or a version of end-to-end encryption that is specific to the UK.

The UK Government must urgently rethink the Bill, revising it to encourage companies to offer more privacy and security to its residents, not less. Weakening encryption, undermining privacy, and introducing the mass surveillance of people’s private communications is not the way forward.

I’m glad to see these companies defending end-to-end encryption, but this letter dances around the repercussions of this proposed legislation in the U.K. What they mean in the third paragraph quoted above is that if the legislation passes, people in the U.K. won’t be able to use WhatsApp or Signal or any other end-to-end encrypted service. Apple isn’t a signatory of the letter, but I think iMessage would be banned too.

Some reports are portraying this as though these services would begrudgingly comply if the law passes, but they can’t. End-to-end encryption is inherent to the protocols. If end-to-end encrypted messaging is banned in the U.K., it won’t mean that WhatsApp, Signal, et al will somehow switch to insecure protocols in order to comply — it will mean that people in the U.K. can’t use these apps.

It’s tough, messaging-wise, because coming right out and saying that sounds like these companies won’t comply, by choice. Laypeople seemingly can’t be made to understand that a “good-guys-only back door” is cryptographically impossible. But that’s the truth. WhatsApp is incredibly popular in the U.K. — the message should not be that U.K. lawmakers are trying to weaken WhatsApp’s encryption, but rather that U.K. lawmakers are going to make WhatsApp illegal.

Washington Post Analysis of the Content That Trained Google’s ‘C4’ LLM Data Set 

The Washington Post:

Tech companies have grown secretive about what they feed the AI. So The Washington Post set out to analyze one of these data sets to fully reveal the types of proprietary, personal, and often offensive websites that go into an AI’s training data.

To look inside this black box, we analyzed Google’s C4 data set, a massive snapshot of the contents of 15 million websites that have been used to instruct some high-profile English-language AIs, called large language models, including Google’s T5 and Facebook’s LLaMA. (OpenAI does not disclose what datasets it uses to train the models backing its popular chatbot, ChatGPT).

Scroll the bottom and they have a tool that lets you search for the ranking of a particular website. Daring Fireball is #24,293; is right behind at #25,310; Six Colors is #38,783; Stratechery is #57,283. MacRumors is way up at #761. MacRumors’s forums are at #45, and Apple Insider’s forums are at #211. The New York Times is #4, and The Washington Post itself #11.

App of the Day: Glucomate 

New app from developer Zach Simone — an iPhone and Apple Watch app for blood glucose recording, tracking, and monitoring. I don’t have diabetes, but I know many people who do or have loved ones who do, and it seems hard to overstate how important blood glucose monitoring is. Simone, on his blog:

For over 20 years, I’ve had to monitor my blood glucose every single day. The way in which I monitor it has changed a bit over the years, but the need to stay on top of the readings hasn’t. [...]

A [continuous glucose monitor] generates a lot of data, and the one I use even writes that data to HealthKit (though admittedly with a 3-hour delay). Real-time information is only available via the manufacturers app, unless you’re willing to jump through many hoops. No matter, there’s still a huge amount of data being collected. And it starts to build up. But surely all of this data is good for something. What can we do with it?

That’s where Glucomate comes in. It’s an app for people who record, track, and monitor their blood glucose and use HealthKit to do it. Glucomate is the app that finally does something with all that data. You can analyse recent readings, spot trends, or go back to any date and view its history. It does all this while trying to look as good as possible. A notable feature is the ability to customise each of the tabs by reordering the displayed data. You can even choose to hide the data that isn’t relevant to you.

The best apps, almost invariably, come from developers scratching their own itches. It looks to me like Simone has made a terrifically practical tool for anyone monitoring their blood glucose levels. If you have diabetes or know someone who does, Glucomate seems worth a look.

(There are rumors that future Apple Watch models might integrate sensors that read blood glucose levels continuously and non-invasively (read: without puncturing your skin), but that’s just a rumor, and even if it comes to pass, diabetics will still need ways to monitor their trends.)

Four Takeaways From the Dominion v. Fox News Settlement 

Great piece by Aaron Blake for The Washington Post that covers a lot of ground succinctly. This point stuck out to me:

Dominion says it’s not done, either, with lawyer Stephen Shackelford saying: “We’ve got some other people who have some accountability coming toward them. And we’ll move right on to the next one.”

Dominion is also suing MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who promoted the false election claims on Fox and elsewhere. (Lindell’s fate would also seem to matter greatly to Fox, given that documents in the Dominion case show Fox referring to him as the network’s top advertiser.)

Part of the way Fox News dug itself such a hole on this matter is that they were satisfying two demands at once: their audience wanted to hear these nonsensical lies about the election being rigged, and their top advertiser — Lindell — desperately wanted to come on the air to promulgate them.

See also: Elahe Izadi’s report for the Post on the one cable news channel that is reporting on this settlement very quietly. You’ll never guess which.

The Savings Account Is Half Empty 

Martin Peers, writing for The Information (paywalled, alas), “Apple’s New Savings Account Makes iPhones More Valuable — for Thieves”:

Whether this is smart for consumers depends on whether you’re comfortable having your life ruined if someone steals your iPhone. The Wall Street Journal recently published an excellent report about how iPhone thieves are draining people’s bank accounts. That’s a result of people storing credit cards on Apple Pay and very often keeping photos of sensitive personal documents — passports and drivers’ licenses, for example — on their phones. Some people even write down their passwords in the Notes app on the phone. When you stop to think about it, storing all this stuff on a phone does seem kind of crazy.

That Wall Street Journal report by Joanna Stern and Nicole Nguyen is indeed excellent (and I still intend to follow-up on it here, but still haven’t finished), but Peers makes it sound like all a thief needs to empty your bank account is your phone. What the Journal story made clear is that thieves need both your phone and your device passcode. That’s a big difference.

Is the threat serious if a thief obtains both your phone and your device passcode? Very. But so long as you’re protective of your passcode, you’re safe overall. Passwords protected in your keychain, or even in Notes, are safer than passwords written on paper. You’ve got to store them somewhere. Promulgating a message that it’s reckless to put any sensitive information in your phone, even using features that are designed to store that information securely, is terrible advice. There’s nothing crazy about it. It’s simply worth remembering, at all times, just how much your device passcode is protecting.

And the new interest-paying savings accounts are just an alternative to having your Apple Card cash-back go to your Apple Cash account — which pays no interest. So if Peers has successfully spooked any Information readers from signing up for these savings accounts, all he’s succeeded in doing is keeping them from earning interest. There’s zero difference in security. It’s news for Luddites.

This isn’t solely Apple’s doing, of course. Most banks and the like now have phone apps, all of which make people vulnerable. But Apple has encouraged it, going so far as to allow people to store their drivers’ licenses on their iPhones and to unlock their front doors with their iPhones. And now there’s this savings account — iPhone thieves must be rubbing their hands in anticipation.

It’s a little hard to square Apple’s moves in this direction with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s evangelism regarding privacy and tech, not to mention his warnings about the dangers of people using technology too much. [...] Could it be Cook is only concerned about data security and privacy when it comes to social media, a business run by other companies?

This is just looking to piss on Apple no matter what the story. A digital state ID stored in Apple Wallet is more secure than a printed card stored in your physical wallet. If one thief takes my iPhone, and another takes my wallet and keys, the first thief needs my device passcode to get anything. The second thief instantly knows everything that’s printed on my driver’s license and credit cards — including the address of my home, where the keys will unlock the doors. The digitization of banking does carry risks, but the pre-digital world of banking revolved around paper checks and signatures.

There’s nothing hard to square about Apple’s initiative in this regard at all. I’ll bet Tim Cook has his driver’s license in Apple Wallet — and I practically guarantee that he has his credit cards in Apple Wallet. Apple Wallet really is more secure that a physical wallet and cards. And the new savings accounts simply offer Apple Card customers a way to earn interest on cash accounts that heretofore did not pay any interest at all. There’s nothing to be cynical about with this.

[Update: California isn’t on the very short list of states that currently support IDs in Apple Wallet — it’s still just Arizona, Colorado, and Maryland. But my point stands: I’d wager good money that as soon as California does support it, Tim Cook will put his ID in Wallet.

Also, because these savings accounts pay industry-leading interest rates, it’s certain that many people will transfer more money into them than they would with regular Apple Cash accounts, which means more money is at risk if a thief obtains their phone and device passcode.]

Fox News Settles With Dominion for $787 Million, Averting Defamation Trial Over Its 2020 Election Lies 


Fox News reached a last-second settlement with Dominion Voting Systems on Tuesday as the case raced toward opening statements, paying more than $787 million to end a colossal two-year legal battle that publicly shredded the right-wing network’s credibility.

Fox News’ $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems is the largest publicly known defamation settlement in US history involving a media company. [...]

The right-wing network said in a statement that it “acknowledge[s] the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false,” referring to Davis’ recent ruling that 20 Fox News broadcasts from late 2020 contained blatantly untrue assertions that Dominion rigged the presidential election. But Fox won’t have to admit on-air that it spread lies about Dominion, a Dominion representative told CNN.

The $787.5 million payout is roughly half of the $1.6 billion that Dominion initially sought, though it is nearly 10 times the company’s valuation from 2018, and roughly eight times its annual revenue in 2021, according to court filings.

What a gift to humanity this lawsuit has been.

On the face of it, it makes no sense that anyone still watches Fox News. But that assumes that people choose their news sources based on trustworthiness and a desire to learn the truth. That’s how and why I pick my news sources. It’s probably how and why you do too. But Fox News appeals to a whole swath of people who have an entirely different mindset.

Fox News addicts justify their continuing viewership on the grounds that, more or less, “everyone does it” — that MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, etc. all blatantly lie to their viewers/readers in the same way Dominion proved that Fox News lies to its viewers. They’re all liars and thieves, every system is rigged, and everyone in a position of power or authority is crooked. It’s a form of nihilism that, I think, explains exactly how Trump got elected and how he still has significant electoral support. If you believe everyone is a corrupt liar, you might as well vote for the corrupt liar who (a) is on your side in the culture wars, and (b) wears his corruption and dishonesty on his shirtsleeve. And might as well keep watching the cable “news” network that’s on your side in the culture wars, proven liars or not.

Fox is paying a serious price here, but I suspect it’s purely financial, not attention.

Adios, Parler 

Todd Spangler, reporting for Variety:

Parler, the self-described “uncancelable free-speech social platform” that catered to right-wing users — which was nearly acquired by Kanye West last year — has been shut down by its new owner.

“No reasonable person believes that a Twitter clone just for conservatives is a viable business any more,” Arlington, Va.-based digital media company Starboard said in announcing Friday that it had acquired Parler.

No reasonable person believes Parler is ever going to successfully rebrand, either, so it’s a curiosity what they bought it for. (Also, there’s at least one unreasonable person who ostensibly believes a Twitter clone just for conservatives is a viable business.)

The End of Computer Magazines in America 

Harry McCracken, writing at Technologizer:

The April issues of Maximum PC and MacLife are currently on sale at a newsstand near you — assuming there is a newsstand near you. They’re the last print issues of these two venerable computer magazines, both of which date to 1996 (and were originally known, respectively, as Boot and MacAddict). Starting with their next editions, both publications will be available in digital form only.

But I’m not writing this article because the dead-tree versions of Maximum PC and MacLife are no more. I’m writing it because they were the last two extant U.S. computer magazines that had managed to cling to life until now. With their abandonment of print, the computer magazine era has officially ended. [...]

I take the loss personally, and not just because computer magazines kept me gainfully employed from 1991-2008. As a junior high student and Radio Shack TRS-80 fanatic, I bought my first computer magazine in late 1978, three years after Byte invented the category. It was a momentous enough moment in my life that I can tell you what it was (the November-December 1978 issue of Creative Computing) and where I got it (Harvard Square’s Out of Town News, the same newsstand that had played a critical role in the founding of Microsoft just four years earlier). Even before I purchased that Creative Computing , our mailman had misdelivered a neighbor’s copy of Byte to our house, an error I welcomed and did not attempt to correct. From the moment I discovered computer magazines, I loved them almost as much as I loved computers, which is why I ended up working in the field for so long.

As McCracken himself notes, it’s impossible to overstate the essential role computer magazines played before the web. I read Macworld and MacUser cover-to-cover every month. Magazines were how you learned to do stuff, how you learned about new applications and new hardware products, how you learned what you might want to buy. When I eventually started writing occasional back-page columns for Macworld, it was an indescribable thrill.

Apple BKC in Mumbai, the First Apple Store in India, Opened Today 

Looks beautiful. Some architectural details from Apple Newsroom:

Apple BKC features a triangular handcrafted timber ceiling that extends beyond the glass façade to the underside of the exterior canopy, reflecting the unique geometry of the store. Each tile is made from 408 pieces of timber, forming 31 modules per tile with a total of 1,000 tiles that make up the ceiling. There are over 450,000 individual timber elements, all of which were assembled in Delhi. Upon entering the store, customers are greeted by two stone walls sourced from Rajasthan and a 14-meter-long stainless steel staircase connecting the ground level and the cantilevered mezzanine.

Chance Miller on Mastodon:

Tim Cook reacting to someone who brought a Macintosh SE to the opening of the Apple BKC store in Mumbai today.

Maybe the happiest I’ve ever seen him.

Those things weigh 17 pounds.

Apple Card’s Savings Account Is Now Available, Offering 4.15 Percent Interest 

Apple Newsroom:

Starting today, Apple Card users can choose to grow their Daily Cash rewards with a Savings account from Goldman Sachs, which offers a high-yield APY of 4.15 percent — a rate that’s more than 10 times the national average. With no fees, no minimum deposits, and no minimum balance requirements, users can easily set up and manage their Savings account directly from Apple Card in Wallet. [...]

Once a Savings account is set up, all future Daily Cash earned by the user will be automatically deposited into the account. The Daily Cash destination can also be changed at any time, and there’s no limit on how much Daily Cash users can earn. To build on their savings even further, users can deposit additional funds into their Savings account through a linked bank account, or from their Apple Cash balance.

If you shop around, you can find some accounts offering closer to 5 percent, but 4.15 is indeed a very good interest rate right now. There’s no catch here — it’s simply another reward for having an Apple Card. You just sign up in the Wallet app, and boom, your cash rewards go into the savings accounts and you start earning interest.

‘Headless Body in Topless Bar’ 

Michael Klein, writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

This month marks the 40th anniversary of a watershed moment in journalism: the publication of the “Headless Body in Topless Bar” headline on the front page of the New York Post. [...]

Vincent A. Musetto, one of the Post’s managing editors, gets the credit for “Headless Body in Topless Bar.” In a madcap newsroom run largely by owner Rupert Murdoch’s Fleet Street-hardened crew of Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis, Musetto was a real-deal, prototypical New Yorker: brash, zany, unafraid to drop-kick a trash can during a debate.

From that day, I wanted to work for Vinnie. Two years later, as a pun-loving 25-year-old copy editor at a South Jersey paper, I tried out as a Post sub-editor, designing pages and writing headlines. On the first day of my tryout, the editors sent me a goofy filler story about male dogs being electrocuted by a poorly grounded lamppost. The headline I submitted: “Piss of death.” It ran in exactly one edition before someone pointed out that such a four-letter word in 18-point type might be too much, even for the New York Post, which five years before had paid a morgue worker to unzip John Lennon’s body bag and take a photo of the slain Beatle in repose.

Musetto slapped my back, shot me a grin, and offered me a job.

The best detail: the Post got two sources to confirm that the bar did indeed feature topless dancing.

Play – Watch Later App for YouTube (and Other) Videos 

Another deceptively simple, very well-crafted app I’ve been meaning to recommend: Play, a “watch later” app by Marcos Tanaka. Play is a great native app on iOS and Mac, and includes a Share sheet extension for adding new videos to your queue. You can categorize videos with tags, but that’s not necessary. What I really like is that Play is also a great app on Apple TV. I queue videos from my Mac and iPhone, then watch them later on my TV. I like this way better than using YouTube itself. One-time purchase of $3 gets you access to Play across all platforms. (That’s too cheap — I wish it cost more.)

For years I’d been using an app called Zinc for the same purpose, but I find myself using Play more than I ever used Zinc, because it has a Mac app, and Play’s Share sheet interface is better than Zinc’s bookmarklet. Play pulls in all sorts of metadata from YouTube automatically — it’s just great. (Zinc still works, if you have it installed, but it appears that the app is no longer available in the App Store.)

Short Circuit — ChatGPT App for iOS 

Developer Joe Fabisevich, on Mastodon two weeks ago:

28 days ago I started built a prototype of Siri powered by ChatGPT, and was immediately drawn to the idea of a premium-feeling iOS, iPad, and Mac app for ChatGPT. This amazing technology deserves a good user experience, and we gave it one.

Partnering with @Soroush to make that happen has been a dream, and I’m so excited to share Short Circuit with you.

Very nicely done AI chat app for iOS. Worth checking out for the splendid icon alone — which itself was crafted by AI. (Short Circuit works OK on MacOS via Catalyst, but the developers have a proper Mac app in the works.) If you’re new to ChatGPT and aren’t sure what to do, there’s a fun “random prompt” button in the chat input field. The integration with Shortcuts means you can just say “Hey Siri, ask Shorty...” and get answers from ChatGPT instead of Siri itself. It’s free to try for a limited number of answers; after that, reasonably priced subscriptions (ChatGPT is not free):

  • $3/month: 100 answers
  • $6/month: 300 answers
  • $15/month: 1,000 answers

They also offer a $30 lifetime unlock, if you have your own OpenAI developer token.

The Magic Highlighter Safari Extension 

$2 Safari extension from Caleb Hailey:

The Magic Highlighter is a brand new Safari Extension that automatically highlights your,, and search terms and phrases on search result web pages — saving you time, and helping you find what you’ve been searching for. The Magic Highlighter is available to download for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It’s easy to use thanks to direct integration with Safari — just install the app, enable the extension, and use Safari like you normally would.

Clever and simple. In addition to highlighting terms you entered from a search engine, you can highlight whatever terms you want on any page, via the extension’s toolbar button.

DPReview Is Working on Some Sort of ‘Archive’ 

Scott Everett, general manager of the soon-to-close Amazon subsidiary DPReview:

We’ve received a lot of questions about what’s next for the site. We hear your concerns about losing the content that has been carefully curated over the years, and want to assure you that the content will remain available as an archive.

We’ve also heard that you need more time to access the site, so we’re going to keep publishing some more stories while we work on archiving.

I don’t understand either of these paragraphs. I mean, I’m glad they’re still publishing new content, but I don’t understand what publishing new stories has to do with giving readers more time to access the site. And it’s completely unclear what sort of “archive” is going to be available after it closes.

What I’d really like to see is for Amazon to change its mind, and keep DPReview going. Or sell it to someone else who will. But if it’s going to close, the right way to “archive” it is simply to keep the site as-is and make it read-only. When you search for reviews of a specific camera model, DPReview’s articles are always at or near the top in the results. Keep those old URLs available, unchanged.

As for that new content, here’s a good one: a look back at the most significant cameras DPReview has reviewed over the last 25 years. Remember the Nikons that looked like this? I owned this one and this one, both purchased in part because of DPReview’s review.


My thanks to Meh for sponsoring last week at DF, and for having a logo that looks so good against DF’s background color. Meh sells shit you can buy everywhere. But they’ve got it cheaper than anywhere. That’s the deal.

If you like endless selection, unbelievable promotions, hip marketing, and non-stop hype, go somewhere else.

Montana Passes Bill Blocking Users From Downloading TikTok 

Uwa Ede-Osifo, reporting for NBC News:

Montana lawmakers passed a bill Friday blocking downloads of TikTok, the most significant action yet by a state yet against the app. The bill, SB 419, makes it illegal for app stores to give users the option to download the app and also illegal for the company to operate within the state. The bill does not, however, make it illegal for people who already have TikTok to use the app. A previous version of the bill sought to force internet providers to block TikTok, but that language was later removed.

The bill passed by a vote of 54-43.

Putting aside the fact that Montana is a small state (44th in population, 1.1 million people), it just doesn’t seem feasible to ban TikTok at the state level. Even if this goes into law and Apple and Google comply, Montanans can just cross state lines to download it. And what constitutes a “download”? When you buy a new phone and restore from your backup, your phone re-downloads all the apps you had installed on your old phone. Does this mean Montanans who already have TikTok will lose it if they buy a new device, or restore their current one?

I do think the U.S. should ban TikTok nationwide. But it seems futile — silly even — for states to do it piecemeal.

Print Editions of ‘Make Something Wonderful’ for Sale on eBay 

Speaking of books, print copies of the Steve Jobs Archive’s Make Something Wonderful: Steve Jobs in His Own Words — presumably copies given to folks at Apple and Disney — have hit eBay. Prices are really high — $500–1,000.

The website edition is a fantastic experience — thoughtfully designed, and implemented with handcrafted care — but I do wish the SJA had made the print edition available for retail purchase by the public. (I get it that the SJA doesn’t want to monetize this stuff, but they could sell these books and donate the proceeds to charities that Laurene Powell Jobs is involved with.)

I’ve lucked my way into a copy, and it’s as nice an object as you’d expect. Books can be such lovely artifacts in hand, tactile experiences, and this is one. The whole thing — web and print editions alike — is exemplary work from LoveFrom.

‘Shareware Heroes’ by Richard Moss 

From Richard Moss, author of the excellent The Secret History of Mac Gaming:

Shareware Heroes takes readers on a journey through a critical yet long overlooked chapter in video game history: the rise and eventual fall of the shareware model.

As commercial game distribution professionalised in the 1980s, independent creators with scant resources or contacts were squeezed out of the market. But not entirely. New technologies and distribution concepts were creating a hidden games publishing market — one that operated by different rules and that, at least for the first several years, had no powerful giants.

It was a land of opportunity and promise, and a glimpse of the digital-first future. This is the story of the games and developers who relied on nascent networking technologies combined with word-of-mouth marketing in an era before social media.

What a fun website Moss made for this. It’s just perfect. He’s got a preview from the chapter on Id Software’s Doom to whet your appetite. The book is available in hardcover, paperback, audio book, and e-book formats.

IDC: PC Sales, Including Macs, Are Way Down From a Year Ago 


Weak demand, excess inventory, and a worsening macroeconomic climate were all contributing factors for the precipitous drop in shipments of traditional PCs during the first quarter of 2023 (1Q23). Global shipments numbered 56.9 million, marking a contraction of 29.0% compared to the same quarter in 2022, according to preliminary results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker.

The preliminary results also represented a coda to the era of COVID-driven demand and at least a temporary return to pre-COVID patterns. Shipment volume in 1Q23 was noticeably lower than the 59.2 million units shipped in 1Q19 and 60.6 million in 1Q18.

According to IDC, Windows PC sales are down about 30 percent for the first quarter, year-over-year, and Mac sales are down 40 percent. Are IDC’s numbers accurate? We should get a sense of that when Apple announces results for the January–March quarter on May 4.

But we’ve already seen how strong the pull-forward effect from COVID and work-from-home has been: for the October–December 2022 quarter, Mac revenue was down 31 percent. And most strikingly, Apple had a record-breaking quarter for Mac sales in the July–September quarter of 2020 — after Apple had announced the transition to Apple Silicon at WWDC, but months before those much-anticipated Macs shipped. People buy new PCs when they need them, and zillions of people needed new PCs during COVID and with the post-COVID continuing transition to more work from home.

Update 4 May 2023: Apple’s actual results for the quarter show Mac sales down only 31 percent year-over-year.


An idea so grotesque that it’s awesome: exquisitely designed holographic “Inside” stickers for Apple’s M-series chips. From the talented but obviously twisted mind of Vinoth Ragunathan.

Bob Iger’s Letter to Disney Employees Accompanying Their Copies of ‘Make Something Wonderful’ 

Bob Iger, in a company-wide memo:

What makes it different is that it is a collection of Steve’s own words, drawn from his speeches, interviews, and correspondence. In these pages, we are offered a glimpse into his unique and wonderful mind. In a sense, this book is another tool from Steve — a resource for you, the reader, to spark the creativity that lives inside all of us and make your own mark on the world.

My link on this post is to a photo of the letter, via a little birdie at Disney — here’s the text of the letter, and my post on Mastodon.

Also, for everyone enjoying the book on the website, due to a regression in the latest version of Safari/WebKit, it works best in Chromium browser. (Example: the full-screen pages lock into place as you swipe.)

‘Make Something Wonderful: Steve Jobs in His Own Words’ 

New, from The Steve Jobs Archive:

A curated collection of Steve’s speeches, interviews and correspondence, Make Something Wonderful offers an unparalleled window into how one of the world’s most creative entrepreneurs approached his life and work. In these pages, Steve shares his perspective on his childhood, on launching and being pushed out of Apple, on his time with Pixar and NeXT, and on his ultimate return to the company that started it all.

From Laurene Powell Jobs’s introduction:

Steve once told a group of students, “You appear, have a chance to blaze in the sky, then you disappear.” He gave an extraordinary amount of thought to how best to use our fleeting time. He was compelled by the notion of being part of the arc of human existence, animated by the thought that he — or that any of us — might elevate or expedite human progress.

It is hard enough to see what is already there, to gain a clear view. Steve’s gift was greater still: he saw clearly what was not there, what could be there, what had to be there. His mind was never a captive of reality. Quite the contrary: he imagined what reality lacked and set out to remedy it. His ideas were not arguments, but intuitions, born of a true inner freedom and an epic sense of possibility.

There’s a (very?) limited print edition that is not for sale, but is being given to Apple employees and others who were close to Jobs (such as Jony Ive’s team at LoveFrom, who clearly produced this work and the lovely apple tree logomark). It’s freely available on Apple Books (nice URL), but I think the best way to read it, if you’re not fortunate enough to have access to the printed book, is the website. It’s just lovely.

Sebastiaan de With, on Twitter:

It’s hard to capture the delight of a real book, but this website does a fantastic job coming close. Lots delightful, thoughtful little details.

I say ‘ebook’ because it isn’t a word used anywhere on the website, likely for good reason: there are no good ebooks. The ePub file lacks all the delight of the beautiful website. Books on Apple Books are objectively worse than their written counterparts. This might be nicer.

Try jumping around using the ‘line of contents’. Super nice stuff. The website even remembers where you left off.

Microsoft Now Supports Windows 11 on Apple Silicon Macs, but Only Through Parallels 

Tom Warren, reporting for The Verge back in February:

Still, Microsoft’s plan to officially authorize Parallels to support this way of running Windows 11 on Apple’s latest Macs is a step beyond what we’ve had so far. Up until now, Microsoft has only licensed Windows versions of Arm directly to OEMs, making it difficult for M1 and M2 users to officially run it in VM.

Parallels started supporting Windows on M1 chips with the Parallels Desktop 16.5 release, but this latest version lets you download and install Windows 11 in a single click. Parallels is also handling the complexity of Windows 11’s TPM and Secure Boot requirements with a virtual TPM that’s paired with Apple silicon.

It’s nice to be able to run Windows at all on Apple Silicon Macs, but I find it a bit strange that Microsoft doesn’t simply allow the direct installation of Windows via Boot Camp, like on Intel Macs. My understanding is that Apple would welcome this and work with Microsoft to make it work as well as possible, and it’s Microsoft’s decision not to license the ARM version of Windows for direct installation on Macs. Note, for example, the existence of Asahi Linux — a project that already has a working (although incomplete, driver-wise) version of Linux you can install directly on Apple Silicon Macs.

[Update: A little birdie at Microsoft reports that running Windows via Parallels was in fact Apple’s preferred solution, and the birdie was left with the impression that Apple does not want to support Boot Camp on Apple Silicon Macs. Interesting then, that installing and booting into non-Mac OSes — like Asahi Linux — is supported at all. You certainly can’t do that with iPhones or iPads or Apple TVs.]

For people who need or just want to run Windows on their Macs: how well does it work going through Parallels? As everyone now knows, MacOS running on Apple Silicon hardware runs both faster and more efficiently (longer battery life) than it does on Intel hardware. Does practical day-to-day usage of Windows, through Parallels, running on Apple Silicon hardware show similar performance and battery life gains? I would imagine that some, but not all, of MacOS’s efficiency on Apple Silicon comes from having the entire OS tuned not just for ARM CPUs in general but for Apple’s M-series SoCs specifically. Anyone out there who’s using this, let me know.

‘Katie Knows Everything’ 

From the DF archive, my piece in 2014 remarking upon her retirement from Apple, with an anecdote from the iPhone 4 “antennagate” press conference in 2010:

I was wearing a large SLR camera on a strap around my neck. As I filed in to find a seat, I was offered a choice: if I wanted to take photos during the event, I could sit toward the back; if I were willing to forgo taking photos, I could sit up front in the third row. I only had my camera with me on a lark — the advantages of publishing a website that runs photographs only rarely — so I took the seat in the third row. The first two rows, as usual, were occupied by senior Apple executives and employees.

As I took my seat, Katie Cotton, sitting in the second row, smiled and greeted me. “Hi John, glad you could make it. How’s the cold?”

I was feeling fine, the cold not much more than a memory at that point, and told her so. But I had to ask, laughing, “How did you even know I had a cold?”

Before she could answer, Greg Joswiak, sitting directly in front of me, turned around. “John, Katie knows everything.”

Kara Swisher on Katie Cotton 

Kara Swisher, back in 2014, on Katie Cotton’s retirement from Apple:

Did she sometimes ice our reporters out, ignore calls or reply with newsless answers? Sometimes. [...] Did she try her hardest to showcase Apple and its products in a way that benefited it? Yep. [...] Was she vocal when she did not like something we did? And how.

So what?

That kind of hard driving is part and parcel to the business, even if she was harder driving and, because of that, more successful than most. As she once told me when we talked about her outsize reputation in the tech press: “I am not here to make friends with reporters, I am here to put a light on and sell Apple products.”

It was no surprise that some used the opportunity of her exit to drag out their complaints in the kind of strange rage that has been — at least to my mind — oddly emotional and sometimes full of vitriol that would never be directed at a man who was similarly strong.

Consider the various words used to describe her: “Queen of Evil,” “wicked witch,” “cold and distant,” “frigid supremacy,” “queen bee” and, perhaps most obviously misogynistic, “dominatrix.”

I always appreciated Cotton’s forthrightness, and part of that is Apple’s institutional default to “no comment” when asked about anything other than what Apple wants to talk about. Those “no comments” seem to downright offend some reporters, but to me, they’re a sign of respect. Better not to say anything at all, and waste no one’s time, than to offer up a lengthy but meaningless pile of bullshit, which in my experience is how most PR teams operate. If you wanted Katie Cotton to coddle you or bullshit you for an hour, you were going to be disappointed. If you wanted Katie Cotton to respect you, you simply needed to respect her and her team at Apple.

As for the misogyny she faced at every step of her career, a lasting part of Cotton’s legacy is that Apple’s PR team remains full of women. I’d wager that Apple PR is majority women, in fact. I could contact Apple to ask about that, but I think I know the answer I’d get.

Katie Cotton, Rest in Peace 

Terribly sad news: former Apple PR leader Katie Cotton has died, apparently after a long illness:

It is with great sadness that the family of Kathryn Elizabeth Cotton announces her passing. Fondly known to family, friends and all who loved her as Katie. She passed peacefully on Thursday evening, April 6, surrounded by family and close friends. [...]

Katie is recognized as one of the most remarkable women in Public Relations and Marketing in Technology. In her role as Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Communications for Apple Inc., she worked most of her 18-year career directly for Steve Jobs. She was a strong and unwavering proponent for the company, helping to elevate its products and brand.

If you would like to honor Katie’s life and charitable work, please consider a donation to Pets In Need in Redwood City or SafeSpace in Menlo Park.

Ostensibly Private Twitter Circle Tweets Are Being Shown Publicly 

Amanda Silberling, writing for TechCrunch:

Numerous Twitter users are reporting a bug in which Circle tweets — which are supposed to reach a select group, like an Instagram Close Friends story — are surfacing on the algorithmically generated For You timeline. That means that your supposedly private posts might breach containment to reach an unintended audience, which could quickly spark some uncomfortable situations.

I observed this bug when a tweet from someone I follow appeared on my For You timeline, but the retweet button was disabled, despite the person’s account being public. When I clicked on the tweet, it disappeared. I asked the tweeter if that post was intended for their Circle — which I am not in — and they confirmed this was the case. [...]

TechCrunch has spoken to multiple users who have also experienced this glitch firsthand; many more have reported the glitch in their tweets. Most often, it seems that Circle tweets are being surfaced in the For You timeline to users who follow the poster, but are not in their Circle. Others have reported that their Circle tweets are reaching even further than those who follow them.

Other privacy-related bugs I’ve seen people mention recently:

I don’t trust anything “private” about Twitter, including and especially DMs. Some kind of breach regarding DMs seems inevitable at this point, given how sloppy Twitter is getting under Phony Stark.

CGP Grey Grades America’s State Flags 

I love CGP Grey’s videos, and I know firsthand that we largely share similar design taste. (At some long-ago WWDC in San Francisco, Grey and I realized we carried not only the exact same wallet, but the same (alas, now discontinued) color of that wallet.) So I expected to largely agree with his grading of the 50 American state flags. I did not expect to agree with his grades completely. 50 for 50, no notes.

‘The Real-World Costs of the Digital Race for Bitcoin’ 

Gabriel J.X. Dance, reporting for The New York Times (with informative graphics by Tim Wallace and Zach Levitt) on the Bitcoin mining industry:

It is as if another New York City’s worth of residences were now drawing on the nation’s power supply, The Times found.

In some areas, this has led prices to surge. In Texas, where 10 of the 34 mines are connected to the state’s grid, the increased demand has caused electric bills for power customers to rise nearly 5 percent, or $1.8 billion per year, according to a simulation performed for The Times by the energy research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

The additional power use across the country also causes as much carbon pollution as adding 3.5 million gas-powered cars to America’s roads, according to an analysis by WattTime, a nonprofit tech company. Many of the Bitcoin operations promote themselves as environmentally friendly and set up in areas rich with renewable energy, but their power needs are far too great to be satisfied by those sources alone. As a result, they have become a boon for the fossil fuel industry: WattTime found that coal and natural gas plants kick in to meet 85 percent of the demand these Bitcoin operations add to their grids.

The costs of Bitcoin seem clear: higher energy prices and more carbon emissions. Totally unclear: what we should, or even can, do about it.


My thanks to WorkOS for sponsoring last week at DF. WorkOS is like “Stripe for enterprise features.” They make it easy for developers to build features needed by enterprise customers, such as Single Sign-On and SCIM.

Shipping these features is important because they enable selling upmarket for bigger deals. Without these features, the IT department will reject your app. But these enterprise features are complex and time-consuming to build yourself, usually taking months.

With WorkOS you can integrate and ship enterprise features in minutes. Beautiful API docs guide you through every step of the way, and transparent pricing scales based on usage. It’s a product built by developers, for developers.

Kirk McElhearn: ‘Apple Music Classical (Mostly) Plays the Right Chords’ 

Kirk McElhearn has a comprehensive review of the new Apple Music Classical app/catalog at TidBITS:

Due to the way classical works have been cataloged over time, many of their names are unique, at least for the most famous composers. Schubert’s compositions are cataloged according to the work of Otto Erich Deutsch, hence the D before work numbers. Bach’s works have BWV numbers, for Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, or Bach works catalog. For other composers, opus numbers are used, referring to a specific publication. So for Beethoven, we have Op. 26: Piano Sonata No. 12 in A♭ major, which is a single piano sonata, and Op. 27, which contains two piano sonatas, No. 1: Piano Sonata No. 13 in E♭ major, and No. 2: Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor, also known as the Moonlight Sonata.

The point of this somewhat lengthy preamble is to explain why searching for classical music is so much more complicated than searching for popular music. You may want to listen to a specific work by a given composer, but also by one of your favorite performers. And, as you can see with the example of the Schubert sonata, work names are not always as simple as Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Metadata is the key to managing classical music.

I’ve seen some people wondering if Apple Music Classical is the first step toward per-genre apps: Apple Music Rock, Apple Music Rap, Apple Music Jazz, etc. That’s almost certainly not going to happen. Classical music is different, because it doesn’t fit in the simple categorization of artist → album → song. Classical music demands different and more metadata attached to the music, and a different interface for browsing, discovering, and managing that music.

One seemingly weird thing about Apple Music Classical: it’s iPhone-only for now. McElhearn writes:

It also seems like it should be trivial to add Apple Music Classical to the Music app on the desktop. Adding a sidebar entry would not change the interface much, and since all of the content in the Apple Music Classical app is HTML, the Music app would have no problem displaying it. It’s the exact same type of content that Apple Music uses.

All this makes the Apple Music Classical app seem like an experiment. It’s quite polished for a 1.0 release, and, despite the issues that I’ve mentioned above that will irritate classical music fans, it’s a generally successful attempt to provide a better way to access classical music. Apple should be praised for paying so much attention to a genre that represents only 2–3% of the overall music market.

Mastodon CEO Eugen Rochko With Nilay Patel on Decoder 

Nilay Patel, writing at The Verge:

Now, if you are like me, you hear the words “open source” and “decentralized” and then the word “CEO” and think, wait, why does the decentralized open standard have a CEO? The whole point is that no single person or company is in charge, right? Well, welcome to the wild world of open-source governance. It’s a riot, my friends. You’re going to hear me and Eugen say the phrase “benevolent dictator for life” in dead seriousness because that’s how a lot of these projects are run.

Of course, we also talk about money and structure. Mastodon doesn’t make a lot of money, and Eugen is figuring out how to build a structure that scales past just a handful of people. This tiny and mostly volunteer labor of love might very well be the future of social networking and, if you believe the hype about ActivityPub, might have some part in the future of the web. That’s pretty exciting, even if things seem a little messy in the moment.

Terrific interview. Mastodon is thriving and has a bright future, but the nature of social networks makes it so hard to predict what that future is.

Easter Egg of the Week: The Bitcoin Whitepaper Is Hidden in Recent Versions of MacOS 

Andy Baio:

If you’re on a Mac, open a Terminal and type the following command:

open /System/Library/Image\ Capture/Devices/

If you’re on macOS 10.14 or later, the Bitcoin PDF should immediately open in Preview. […]

Of all the documents in the world, why was the Bitcoin whitepaper chosen? Is there a secret Bitcoin maxi working at Apple? The filename is “simpledoc.pdf” and it’s only 184 KB. Maybe it was just a convenient, lightweight multipage PDF for testing purposes, never meant to be seen by end users.

There’s virtually nothing about this online. As of this moment, there are only a couple references to “Virtual Driver II” or the whitepaper file in Google results. Namely, this Twitter thread from designer Joshua Dickens in November 2020, who also spotted the whitepaper PDF, inspiring this Apple Community post in April 2021. And that’s it!

What a weird curiosity this hidden document is. I’d wager that now that Baio has written about it, it’ll get replaced with something innocuous soon — if not in MacOS 13.4, then in MacOS 14. Perhaps a transcript of Apple’s famous “Think Different” commercial? (That’s the text Apple uses for the document icon for TextEdit’s text files.)

GQ: ‘Tim Cook Thinks Different’ 

Zach Baron’s cover story for GQ, a profile of Tim Cook, is a must-read:

And yet Cook is, in the wealth of biographies and hagiography that has grown up around Apple since its founding, an enigma still. “He’s very hard to read,” says Eddy Cue, who has been at Apple since 1989 and now leads its services division. “If you’re looking to make your decision or your beliefs based on reading his facial expressions, you’re probably not going to be good at that. I always joke around with him that he’d be a great poker player, because he’d have four aces and no one would know.”

Cook’s world-class poker face makes him difficult to profile, I think. Baron’s piece seems to get to Cook’s personality better than any I’ve read before. For example, noting that Cook laughed here:

Years ago, when asked about the possibility of Apple manufacturing glasses, in the mold of Google Glass, an early AR product, Cook told The New Yorker’s Ian Parker that he was skeptical of the enterprise: “We always thought that glasses were not a smart move, from a point of view that people would not really want to wear them. They were intrusive, instead of pushing technology to the background, as we’ve always believed.” He said then: “We always thought it would flop, and, you know, so far it has.”

When I raise this with Cook, he laughs. “My thinking always evolves. Steve taught me well: never to get married to your convictions of yesterday. To always, if presented with something new that says you were wrong, admit it and go forward instead of continuing to hunker down and say why you’re right.”

Reuters: ‘GM Plans to Phase Out Apple CarPlay in EVs, With Google’s Help’ 

Joseph White, reporting for Reuters:

General Motors plans to phase out widely-used Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technologies that allow drivers to bypass a vehicle’s infotainment systems, shifting instead to built-in infotainment systems developed with Google for future electric vehicles. [...]

GM’s decision to stop offering those systems in future electric vehicles, starting with the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer, could help the automaker capture more data on how consumers drive and charge EVs.

The above sentence reads like a throwaway line, but I’m wondering if this bizarre decision has something to do with tracking users in a way that CarPlay defends against.

GM is designing the on-board navigation and infotainment systems for future EVs in partnership with Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Google, makers of many well-known popular consumer electronic devices.

The decision to phase out CarPlay smartphone projection technology is a setback for Apple Inc in the competition with Google to capture more real estate on vehicle dashboards in North America. GM’s Chevrolet brand in the past boasted of offering more models with CarPlay or Android Auto than any other brand.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say this is less of a setback for Apple than it is a setback for GM, whose decision makers seem to be utter dolts. Last year at WWDC, while previewing the next generation of CarPlay, Apple said that 97 percent of new cars sold in the U.S. supported CarPlay, and, more strikingly, 79 percent of new car buyers wanted it. I emphasize new car there because I asked Apple about that number, because 79 percent is way higher than the iPhone’s overall phone market share in the U.S. The answer is kind of obvious: the average iPhone user has more money than the average Android user, so amongst buyers of new cars, iPhone owners have very high share. And they really want CarPlay support. So GM is telling all of them to go buy cars from other brands. It’s enough to make you wonder whether GM’s EV division is being run by a mole planted by Ford.

It’s worth pointing out that this decision by GM is only about EVs, not gas-powered cars, but still. It seems incredibly stupid, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it reversed.


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