Linked List: July 2023

Inside Meta’s Threads Launch 

Naomi Nix and Will Oremus, reporting for The Washington Post:

With a mandate from Zuckerberg to take a big risk, Mosseri assembled a lean, engineer-heavy team of fewer than 60 people to hack together a bare-bones app on a breakneck timetable more reminiscent of a start-up than an entrenched tech giant. Speaking to investors this week after Meta reported strong earnings, Zuckerberg held up Threads as vindication of his “year of efficiency,” in which he sheared tens of thousands of jobs in a bid for more agile teams that would ship products quickly.

That Threads was created by such a small group in such a short amount of time has become something of a marvel inside Meta, according to current and former employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, as well as private messages viewed by The Post. Many see its quick rise as a reminder that well-executed product launches might not need all the bureaucratic trappings that a company with some 66,000 employees had grown accustomed to.

“Quick execution. Nothing fancy,” one person wrote on Blind, an anonymous workplace app. “Just solid engineering that most of our ICs [individual contributors] can do but unfortunately are shackled.”

It continues to astound me that anyone with any experience whatsoever would express surprise that a small-ish talented team was so effective. (I say “ish” because 50-60 people isn’t all that small.) Fred Brooks’s The Mythical Man-Month is somehow simultaneously famous and widely-ignored. A larger team would likely have delayed Threads, not accelerated its launch. A much larger team might have doomed the project to failure.

To keep things moving, the Threads team punted thorny decisions and eschewed difficult features, including private messages and the ability to search for content or view the feeds of people you don’t follow. The company also opted not to launch in the European Union, where regulators are preparing to enforce new rules next year requiring tech companies to provide more information to regulators about their algorithms.

“You do the simple thing first,” Mosseri said. “And I think that also helps reduce the scope, because often what happens is scope creep and you want to add all these things because they’re all great.”

Get something good out, even if it’s missing obvious important features, and start iterating. That’s the recipe. I’m very curious what the story is going to be for private messages on Threads, though — yet another new messaging silo, or something tied to Instagram’s? Whatever it is, I sure hope it uses E2EE.

(Twitter DMs, infamously, do not use E2EE, so every single ostensibly private message ever sent on Twitter is readable by Twitter employees with access privileges, and thus potentially exposable to the public by either a bug or spite. The same goes for Mastodon, which offers “mentioned people only” messaging, a feature that should not exist, in my opinion, because it creates the illusion of privacy. Better to offer no private messaging at all than offer it without E2EE.)

Research Suggests Facebook’s Algorithm Is ‘Influential’ but Doesn’t Necessarily Change Beliefs 

Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel, reporting last week for The New York Times:

In the papers, researchers from the University of Texas, New York University, Princeton and other institutions found that removing some key functions of the social platforms’ algorithms had “no measurable effects” on people’s political beliefs. In one experiment on Facebook’s algorithm, people’s knowledge of political news declined when their ability to reshare posts was removed, the researchers said.

At the same time, the consumption of political news on Facebook and Instagram was highly segregated by ideology, according to another study. More than 97 percent of the links to news stories rated as false by fact checkers on the apps during the 2020 election drew more conservative readers than liberal readers, the research found. [...] Still, the proportion of false news articles that Facebook users read was low compared with all news articles viewed, researchers said.

False news articles were low overall, but the articles deemed false were overwhelming consumed by conservatives. That’s no surprise, but to me, gets to the heart of the controversy. A hypothetical social media algorithm that promotes true stories and suppresses false ones, with perfect accuracy, is going to be accused by conservatives of being biased against conservatives, because conservatives are drawn to false stories.

Jeff Horwitz, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link), on Facebook overstating the degree to which these new studies exonerate its platforms’ influence:

Science warned Meta earlier this week that it would publicly dispute an assertion that the published studies should be read as largely exonerating Meta of a contributing role in societal divisions, said Meagan Phelan, who oversees the communication of Science’s findings.

“The findings of the research suggest Meta algorithms are an important part of what is keeping people divided,” Phelan told Meta’s communications team on Monday, according to an excerpt of her message she shared with The Wall Street Journal. She added that one of the studies found that “compared to liberals, politically conservative users were far more siloed in their news sources, driven in part by algorithmic processes, and especially apparent on Facebook’s Pages and Groups.”

Update: Kai Kupferschmidt’s summary of the four studies for Science.

Twitter Finally Turns to ‘X’ in App Store Listing 

Tim Hardwick, reporting for MacRumors:

X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has updated its official app on Apple’s App Store to conform with the new branding that was announced last weekend by billionaire owner Elon Musk. Instead of “Let’s talk” — Twitter’s original tagline — “Blaze your glory!” is the curious subtitle on X’s iOS App Store listing, which describes the app as “the trusted digital town square for everyone.”

You know how people in the South use “Bless your heart” derisively? Well, now we have such a phrase for Musk’s shenanigans.

Anyway, it would appear that getting this single-character name in their App Store listing required an exemption from Apple. Blaze their glory, I say.

Counterpoint Says U.S. Smartphone Sales Are Down, But Mostly on the Android Side 

Matthew Orf, writing for Counterpoint Research:

US smartphone shipments declined 24% YoY in Q2 2023, according to Counterpoint Research’s Market Monitor data. This was the third consecutive quarter of YoY declines. Android brands like Samsung, Motorola and TCL-Alcatel saw the steepest declines in shipments, while Apple’s shipments were more resilient. As a result, Apple’s share of shipments increased YoY.

Android smartphone shipments declined 38% while Apple shipments fell 6% YoY.

Samsung’s sales — according to Counterpoint — were exactly in line with Android overall, down 37 percent overall. You’d think they’d be up, not down, with all those foldables they sell. Another interesting tidbit: Counterpoint claims Google Pixel sales are up 48 percent year-over-year. If true, maybe, finally, Pixels are starting to get traction? I have to give Google credit for doggedly sticking with it.

Apple’s share of shipments in Counterpoint’s tallying has been 50+ percent for 4 consecutive quarters.


My thanks to Kolide for sponsoring last week at DF. Getting OS updates installed on end user devices should be easy. After all, it’s one of the simplest yet most impactful ways that every employee can practice good security. On top of that, every MDM solution promises that it will automate the process and install updates with no user interaction needed. Yet in the real world, it doesn’t play out like that. Users don’t install updates and IT admins won’t force installs via forced restart.

With Kolide, when a user’s device — be it Mac, Windows, Linux, or mobile — is out of compliance, Kolide reaches out to them with instructions on how to fix it. The user chooses when to restart, but if they don’t fix the problem by a predetermined deadline, they’re unable to authenticate with Okta.

Watch Kolide’s on-demand demo to learn more about how it enforces device compliance for companies with Okta.

X Corp Has Updated Their Mobile Apps, Finally, But the iOS App Is Still ‘Twitter’ in the App Store 

Any normal company planning a product name change would have everything sorted out with the iOS App Store and Android Play Store ahead of time. Needless to say, X Corp is not a normal company and so of course they didn’t have anything sorted out. Yesterday an update to the Twitter app appeared in Google’s Play Store, with a new icon and new app name: “X”.

Today, an update to the Twitter app finally appeared on Apple’s App Store. It has the new icon, but the app’s name in the store is still “Twitter”. The app’s description calls it X, though:

The X app is the trusted digital town square for everyone.

And the name of the app installed on your device is “X”. What gives? On Twitter X, Nick Sheriff points to a rule I heretofore wasn’t aware of. Apple doesn’t allow single-character app names:

On iOS, the situation is distinct as Apple does not permit any app to have a single character as their app name.

If they manage to obtain approval, it would mark the first instance since the inception of the iOS App Store that such a permission has been granted.

The rule Sheriff is referencing is about an app’s title in the App Store, not the name of the app as it appears on your device. So who’s going to budge? Will Apple grant a unique exemption allowing X Corp to have the first and only single-character app name in the entire App Store, or will X name the iOS app something longer (X App? X: Everything? X 69? XXX? 𝕏 (💦✊🍆)?)

Update: I’ve rewritten this post significantly. I was confused, at first, by the different rules for app names (on device) and app titles (listed on the App Store). It’s the App Store listing that must be two or more characters.

Shohei Ohtani Throws 1-Hit Complete-Game Shutout in Game 1 of a Doubleheader, Hits 2 Home Runs Game 2 

Come on, Hal Steinbrenner. Let’s get this guy into pinstripes where he belongs.

Jon Prosser on Marques Brownlee 

Lovely, heartfelt salute to MKBHD from Jon “Front Page Tech” Prosser. Brownlee is so good at what he does, it almost defies description. His reviews are fair, deeply informed, and fun to watch. His taste is exquisite. He’s a dynamic, compelling presence on screen. He’s incredibly prolific yet always leaves you wanting more. The production values of his videos push the envelope of the state of the art: they look and sound (including the music) better than anything else on YouTube, and top YouTubers long ago surpassed broadcast TV in this regard. He’s simultaneously an expert pundit, worldwide on-camera star, and talented filmmaker.

Esther Crawford on Twitter, Before and After Charles Foster Musk’s Takeover 

Esther Crawford (previously mentioned here, when she bragged about sleeping at work to meet an unnecessary deadline at Twitter), wrote a fascinating essay about her time at the company, before and after Musk’s acquisition.

Although I didn’t know much about Elon I was cautiously optimistic — I saw him as the guy who built incredible and enduring companies like Tesla and SpaceX, so perhaps his private ownership could shake things up and breathe new life into the company.

Crawford was inside the company, and I’m far outside it, but that’s exactly why I was optimistic about Twitter under Musk too. Twitter had ossified years ago — maybe a decade ago — and needed a drastic shake-up, a jolt to the entire system, both in the company’s culture and the product. And while I think Twitter under Musk is now far worse, he absolutely did shake things up, and the overall state of Twitter-like-services is today far, far better than it was before. Mastodon was irrelevant pre-Musk-buying-Twitter. The growth it saw after November never would have happened otherwise. I’m now optimistically bullish on Threads, and I don’t think Threads would even exist if not for Musk buying and wrecking Twitter.

I thought this was a keen insight:

Elon has an exceptional talent for tackling hard physics-based problems but products that facilitate human connection and communication require a different type of social-emotional intelligence.

Another way to think about this (and I’m cribbing from something Ben Thompson said on Dithering this week) isn’t about Musk’s lack of empathy, but simply the nature of software itself. The immutable laws of physics push back against Musk’s unreasonable demands in ways that aren’t applicable to software. He doesn’t seem to listen to people who disagree with him, but he has to listen when physics disagrees. (Today’s earlier story about Tesla fudging range estimates is purely dictated by software.)

Software demands more creative discipline than hardware, because so much discipline is baked into the nature of creating hardware. Hardware instills discipline in people; people must instill discipline into software.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that in all of this there is also a cautionary tale for anyone who succeeds at something — which is that the higher you climb, the smaller your world becomes. It’s a strange paradox but the richest and most powerful people are also some of the most isolated.

I found myself frequently looking at Elon and seeing a person who seemed quite alone because his time and energy was so purely devoted to work, which is not the model of a life I want to live.

Charles Foster Musk, muttering “X” instead of “Rosebud”.

‘We Can’t Just Keep Handing Out Water’ 

Benjamin Wermund and Jhair Romero, reporting for The Houston Chronicle (News+ link):

Several migrants asked for water but were turned down by troopers who said there was none, even though cases of bottled water were kept at many of the military-like outposts along the river.

Olivarez said earlier in the day that troopers are told to use their judgment and discretion when deciding to distribute drinking water. He said the state cannot give a bottle to everyone when 600 to 1,000 people are crossing every day.

“If they see a child or an adult that looks like they’re suffering from some kind of heat exhaustion, they’ll give them water,” Olivarez said. “But we can’t just keep handing out water because what’s going to happen is, you’re going to continue to encourage them to come.”

This is how you know Texas governor Greg Abbott is an idiot — the cruelty in this passage is off the charts. We’re talking about water here, in severe heat. (Via Adam Isacson, who comments, “As if giving water to asylum seekers in a heat wave is like giving bread to seagulls. Just incredible.”)

Tesla’s Exaggerated Range Estimates 

Steve Stecklow and Norihiko Shirouzu, reporting for Reuters:

Tesla years ago began exaggerating its vehicles’ potential driving distance — by rigging their range-estimating software. The company decided about a decade ago, for marketing purposes, to write algorithms for its range meter that would show drivers “rosy” projections for the distance it could travel on a full battery, according to a person familiar with an early design of the software for its in-dash readouts.

Then, when the battery fell below 50% of its maximum charge, the algorithm would show drivers more realistic projections for their remaining driving range, this person said. To prevent drivers from getting stranded as their predicted range started declining more quickly, Teslas were designed with a “safety buffer,” allowing about 15 miles (24 km) of additional range even after the dash readout showed an empty battery, the source said.

The directive to present the optimistic range estimates came from Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, this person said. “Elon wanted to show good range numbers when fully charged,” the person said, adding: “When you buy a car off the lot seeing 350-mile, 400-mile range, it makes you feel good.”

This is not an “everyone does” situation:

Jonathan Elfalan, vehicle testing director for the automotive website, reached a similar conclusion to Pannone after an extensive examination of vehicles from Tesla and other major automakers, including Ford, General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche. All five Tesla models tested by Edmunds failed to achieve their advertised range, the website reported in February 2021. All but one of 10 other models from other manufacturers exceeded their advertised range.

Starting to pick up a pattern with this guy Musk.

Kindness as a Signifier of Intelligence 

This clip from Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker’s commencement speech at Northwestern rings so true to me. The older I get, the more my thinking runs along the exact same line. Worth watching the whole clip, but here’s the nut:

The best way to spot an idiot? Look for the person who is cruel. When we see someone who doesn’t look like us, or sound like us, or act like us, or love like us, or live like us — the first thought that crosses almost everyone’s brain is rooted in either fear or judgment or both. That’s evolution. We survived as a species by being suspicious of things we aren’t familiar with.

In order to be kind, we have to shut down that animal instinct and force our brain to travel a different pathway. Empathy and compassion are evolved states of being. They require the mental capacity to step past our most primal urges. I’m here to tell you that when someone’s path through this world is marked with acts of cruelty, they have failed the first test of an advanced society. They never forced their animal brain to evolve past its first instinct. They never forged new mental pathways to overcome their own instinctual fears. And so, their thinking and problem-solving will lack the imagination and creativity that the kindest people have in spades.

Over my many years in politics and business, I have found one thing to be universally true: the kindest person in the room is often the smartest.

I like the idea of responding to acts of cruelty with “Idiot”.

You’ll Never Guess What Twitter Did With the Guy Who Had the @x Handle (Spoiler: You Will Guess) 

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

The owner of the @x Twitter handle confirmed that the company, now known as X, took over his account without warning or financial compensation, telling him the handle is property of X. The handle had previously belonged to Gene X Hwang of the corporate photography and videography studio Orange Photography. In a letter, the company formerly known as Twitter thanked Hwang for his loyalty and offered him a selection of X merchandise and a tour of X’s HQ, as a “reflection of our appreciation.”

One way or another, X Corp was going to get the @x handle. But this was, unsurprisingly, a pretty shitty way to do it. Kudos to Hwang for taking it all in good spirit. (The account’s new handle: @x12345678998765.)

Apple’s MLS Deal Seems to Be Doing Well 

John Ourand and Alex Silverman, reporting for Sports Business Journal:

As Apple’s Eddy Cue began speaking to a room filled with MLS owners and executives last week in Washington, D.C., he harked back to conversations he had with league officials a year earlier, just as Apple was signing a 10-year deal for the league’s media rights.

At that time, Cue recalled last Wednesday, when several MLS owners and league executives came up to him and asked what the teams could do to help ensure that the groundbreaking deal was successful, Cue would offer the same response — sign good players.

Addressing the MLS board of governors just days before the world’s greatest soccer player, Lionel Messi, would debut for Inter Miami CF, Cue smiled and told the group of MLS owners and officials, “Boy did you deliver.”

Messi’s debut on Friday was spectacularly dramatic — a game-winning free kick in extra time. If you put that in a movie script people would roll their eyes.

The number of MLS Season Pass subscribers is a closely guarded secret. Viewership figures for individual games are never shared publicly. Multiple high-level club business executives said they were required by [Apple, sic] to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to see any numbers pertaining to the number of MLS Season Pass subscribers. [...]

Sources said MLS Season Pass is approaching 1 million subscribers, a number that includes season-ticket holders who are provided access as part of their purchase. In early June, those same sources had the MLS Season Pass subscriber base at 700,000, which league executives believe shows good growth, and they expect that number to balloon even further once Messi starts playing.

One of the striking differences between traditional TV broadcasting and streaming — not just for sports, but everything — is that with traditional TV, viewership ratings are public. The networks brag about high ratings. With streaming, viewership is a tightly-held secret. Is 1 million subscribers an accurate count for MLS Season Pass? Only Apple knows. Is that a good number? It’s hard to say, because the NFL, NBA, and MLB keep the numbers for their equivalent subscription packages secret too.

Threads Now Has a Chronological Timeline 


The For you feed includes a mix of posts from profiles you follow and recommended accounts. Following shows you posts from profiles you’re following, starting with the most recent.

To switch from For you to Following, tap on the Threads icon at the top of your feed and swipe.

Threads launched strong and is steadily improving each week. (Tip: If you update to the new version and don’t see the new Following tab, force-quit the app and relaunch. That did the trick for me.) The one bummer: Threads will default back to the For You timeline when you re-launch the app. Not surprising, given that Instagram does the same. (To get to the Following timeline in Instagram, tap the Instagram logo of the Home tab; that presents a menu with options for “Following” and “Favorites”. This is fairly described as a “hidden feature” given that the Instagram logo doesn’t look like a drop-down menu until after you’ve tapped it, at which point they display downward chevron.)

The much-requested Threads web app is coming soon, apparently.

Republican Counties Had Higher COVID Death Rates After Vaccines Became Available 

Jacob Wallace, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, and Jason L. Schwartz, in a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine, “Excess Death Rates for Republican and Democratic Registered Voters in Florida and Ohio During the COVID-19 Pandemic”:

Between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2021, there were 538,159 individuals in Ohio and Florida who died at age 25 years or older in the study sample. The median age at death was 78 years (IQR, 71-89 years). Overall, the excess death rate for Republican voters was 2.8 percentage points, or 15%, higher than the excess death rate for Democratic voters (95% prediction interval [PI], 1.6-3.7 percentage points). After May 1, 2021, when vaccines were available to all adults, the excess death rate gap between Republican and Democratic voters widened from −0.9 percentage point (95% PI, −2.5 to 0.3 percentage points) to 7.7 percentage points (95% PI, 6.0-9.3 percentage points) in the adjusted analysis; the excess death rate among Republican voters was 43% higher than the excess death rate among Democratic voters. The gap in excess death rates between Republican and Democratic voters was larger in counties with lower vaccination rates and was primarily noted in voters residing in Ohio.

This study strongly suggests that the only thing that mattered regarding COVID mortality was vaccination. Also, COVID was/is a disease that largely kills the elderly — the excess mortality in this study was entirely amongst people 75 and older. Even amongst those 65–74, excess mortality was down. All the other policy differences between Republican and Democratic-leaning counties made for no difference in mortality rates before vaccines were available.

I’m not sure what to make of the fact that the excess death rate was pronounced only in Ohio, and not Florida. The study itself doesn’t seem to offer a hypothesis for that discrepancy. Perhaps weather? Old people in Ohio spent more time indoors, where COVID is far more likely to spread?

(Via Political Wire.)

Single-Letter Second-Level Domain Names 


Single-letter second-level domains are domains in which the second-level domain of the domain name consists of only one letter, such as In 1993, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) explicitly reserved all single-letter and single-digit second-level domains under the top-level domains com, net, and org, and grandfathered those that had already been assigned. In December 2005, ICANN considered auctioning these domain names.

On December 1, 1993, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) explicitly reserved the remaining single-letter and single-digit domain names. The few domains that were already assigned were grandfathered in and continued to exist.

Fascinating bit of domain name trivia. Among the six single-character com/net/org domains in use is, the home of the open source X Window System. My favorite, though, is obviously (Via Manton Reece.)

Using AirPods as a Hearing Aid 

Garry Knight:

I spent a lot of time some years ago working with very loud sound while producing music with pro level headphones. Subsequently my ability to hear sounds at 1,000 Hz and above was greatly reduced. Amongst other things this meant that it was difficult to hear consonants in speech, effectively making me partially deaf.

I got a pair of AirPod Pro earbuds and set them up for my personal hearing needs. Later that day I went for a walk in my local woods and literally gasped out loud at hearing the birds I’d been missing for some years!

The way you set them up is buried deep in the Settings, so it’s not surprising that not many people know about it. Here’s where you need to go.

Apple can’t bill them as hearing aids for regulatory reasons, but I keep seeing reports from people who are hard of hearing who find AirPods Pro to be remarkable as audio accessibility devices. (Via Kottke.)

The Yankees Booger Up Their Uniforms With Patches From Starr Insurance 

Speaking of my telling the Yankees what to do, the only way these gross arm patches are acceptable is if they put every dollar from the sponsorship — a reported $25 million per year — toward signing Shohei Ohtani, who, despite the patch, is going to look sharp in pinstripes.

Tony Bennett Sings ‘America the Beautiful’ at Yankee Stadium in 1998 

The Yankees should play this recording during the 7th inning stretch henceforth, in lieu of God Bless America (which they’ve been playing since 9/11). Just perfect.

Summer Updates: iOS 16.6, MacOS Ventura 13.5, WatchOS 9.6, and tvOS 16.6 

Juli Clover, writing at MacRumors:

The iOS 16.6, iPadOS 16.6, macOS Ventura 13.5, watchOS 9.6, and tvOS 16.6 updates that Apple released today address a long list of security vulnerabilities, including two that Apple says may have been actively exploited. Apple today also released iOS 15.7.8, iPadOS 15.7.8, macOS Monterey 12.6.8, and macOS Big Sur 11.7.9 for devices that are not able to run the current release versions of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad software. These updates contain the same security improvements.

It’s thankless work producing these end-of-the-major-version updates, but kind of a shame that they go largely unheralded. Our attention is naturally drawn to the big new .0 updates that introduce major new features, but these .5/.6 updates tend to be the most stable and reliable releases.

‘If Other Media Companies Thought About Brand Equity the Way Elon Musk Thinks About Twitter’s (Er, X’s)’ 

Respect to Joshua Benton for parodying the nearly un-parody-able.

Linda Yaccarino on X 

Twitter/X “CEO” Linda Yaccarino’s comments on the platform’s name change deserve to be quoted in full, for posterity:

It’s an exceptionally rare thing — in life or in business — that you get a second chance to make another big impression. Twitter made one massive impression and changed the way we communicate. Now, X will go further, transforming the global town square.

X is the future state of unlimited interactivity — centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking — creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.

For years, fans and critics alike have pushed Twitter to dream bigger, to innovate faster, and to fulfill our great potential. X will do that and more. We’ve already started to see X take shape over the past 8 months through our rapid feature launches, but we’re just getting started.

There’s absolutely no limit to this transformation. X will be the platform that can deliver, well … everything. @elonmusk and I are looking forward to working with our teams and every single one of our partners to bring X to the world.

Nilay Patel, on Threads, reminds me where I’ve heard similar rhetoric before:

Today we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directive. We have created for the first time in all history a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thought is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion.

Elon Musk Renames Twitter to X 

Ryan Mac and Tiffany Hsu, reporting for The New York Times:

The tech billionaire, who bought Twitter last year, renamed the social platform on its website and started replacing the bird logo with a stylized version of the 24th letter of the Latin alphabet. Inside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, X logos were projected in the cafeteria, while conference rooms were renamed to words with X in them, including “eXposure,” “eXult” and “s3Xy,” according to photos seen by The New York Times.

This is why Tesla’s vehicles are the models S, 3, X, and Y, and listed in that order on the company’s website. It’s like the arrow in the FedEx logo but for 12-year-old boys.

Mr. Musk had long said he might make the name change, but he hastened the process in a tweet early Sunday when he declared that “soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds.” He has said he hopes to turn Twitter into an “everything app” called X, which would encompass not only social networking but also banking and shopping.

Early on Monday, Mr. Musk also shared a photo of a giant X projected on Twitter’s San Francisco office building with the caption: “Our headquarters tonight.”

I hate* to say “I told you so”, but I predicted this exact name change back on May 1. As I wrote when I reiterated this prediction a few weeks later:

The fact that he largely refers to it now as “this platform” makes me think he’s going to rename it X sooner rather than later. Seems crazy to me to throw away the Twitter brand name though, so maybe “X” will just be to Twitter what “Meta” is to Facebook and “Alphabet” is to Google. But also: Musk does crazy things. Throwing away the entire Twitter brand would be less crazy than his buying it in the first place.

The Times piece quotes a branding expert who says the obvious, that the verbification of a brand name is exceedingly rare and exceptionally valuable. When people post to Twitter they tweet. The things they tweet are tweets. Everyone — even people who’ve never once used Twitter, knows what tweet means. And now Musk thinks they’ll be called “x’s”?

Despite the fact that Musk has clearly been moving toward this name change for months — if not since before he even proposed buying the company — the changeover has been utterly (but predictably) slapdash. The new logo, which Musk claims is “interim”, is simply the Unicode character “𝕏” (U+1D54F, MATHEMATICAL DOUBLE-STRUCK CAPITAL X). The company tried replacing the sign on its San Francisco headquarters today but work was halted with the signage only partially dismantled over confusion as to whether the company had a work permit. Neither the iOS nor Android app has been updated, and even the company’s website still says “Twitter” just about everywhere.

* Where by hate I of course mean love, and I’ve been insufferably parading my Being Right Point™ for this prediction all weekend.


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Tony Bennett With Tony Bennett 

“Anthony, you look great. How you doing?”

Tony Bennett, the Epitome of New York Cool 

James Barron, writing for The New York Times:

Tony Bennett may have become famous for “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” but his own heart was unquestionably a New Yorker’s. He had that New York cool, decade after decade — the kid from Astoria, Queens, who made a go of it in Manhattan.

“He was Mr. New York,” said the philanthropist Iris Cantor, a friend of Mr. Bennett’s. “That’s who he was.”

The city shaped him, from a hard-knock childhood with only-in-New-York breaks: As a 9-year-old, he sang at the opening of the Triborough Bridge (now the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge). And his fortunes seemed to run in tandem with the city’s: In the 1950s and ‘60s he, and it, were flying high. In the ‘70s, his popularity sank, torpedoed by the rock revolution, and the city’s finances imploded.

Both managed comebacks, Bennett with breathtaking moments when he was 60. And 70. And 80. And 90.

Man, that photo of Bennett painting by himself in Central Park — amazing. Rest in peace.

Update: Fixed the Kerning Problem With Those PDF Specimens for Microsoft’s New Office Fonts 

At the end of my piece yesterday regarding Microsoft’s new Office fonts, I noted that the kerning was atrocious in the PDF specimens I produced using the web app version of Microsoft Word. As I suspected, the problem had something to do with the fact that I was using the web version of Microsoft Word. Friend of the show Glenn Fleishman used the native Mac version of Word to produce new PDFs from my Word documents, and the kerning problems are gone. If you care, you can either go back and click through to each PDF in the original article, or download this zip archive of all 6 PDF specimens. (And of course Glenn, of all people, cared enough to lend a hand.)

Apple Tries to Explain to U.K. Legislators That You Can’t Add Back Doors to Secure Protocols 

Zoe Kleinman, reporting for BBC News:

Apple says it will remove services such as FaceTime and iMessage from the UK rather than weaken security if new proposals are made law and acted upon.

The government is seeking to update the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016. It wants messaging services to clear security features with the Home Office before releasing them to customers. The act lets the Home Office demand security features are disabled, without telling the public. Under the update, this would have to be immediate. [...]

WhatsApp and Signal are among the platforms to have opposed a clause in the Online Safety Bill allowing the communications regulator to require companies to install technology to scan for child-abuse material in encrypted messaging apps and other services. They will not comply with it, they say, with Signal threatening to “walk” from the UK.

The BBC headline here is fair: “Apple Slams UK Surveillance-Bill Proposals”. Techmeme’s rewrite of the headline is not: “Apple Threatens to Remove Services Like FaceTime and iMessage From the UK Rather Than Weaken Their Security Under a Proposed Investigatory Powers Act Amendment”. Usually this works the other way around — Techmeme typically rewrites headlines to add clarity and omit clickbait-yness. But Apple (and Signal, and WhatsApp) aren’t making threats here. They’re patiently explaining that E2EE messaging platforms cannot comply with what the U.K. wants to demand. It’d be like trying to comply with a law that declares 1 + 1 = 3.

The U.K. legislators pushing this believe, wrongly, that it must be possible for these messaging platforms to add “good guys only” back doors. That if they pass this law, the result will be that the nerds who work at these companies will be forced to figure out a way to comply. What will actually happen is that these companies will be forced to pull the services from U.K., because they can’t comply, unless they scrap their current end-to-end encryption and replace it — worldwide — with something insecure, which they aren’t going to do.

The UK, of course, is no longer part of the EU, but the unintended consequences are similar: the intention of the EU’s Digital Markets Act (well, one intention among many) is to force big social networks to collect data in ways that are more respectful of users’ privacy. The actual result is that Threads launched everywhere else in the world but the EU. The intention of the UK’s proposed update to the IPA is to force messaging platforms to make profound technical changes that would allow law enforcement to snoop on messages; the actual result, if it goes into effect, will be to force those messaging platforms out of the UK.

And while it’s Apple and iMessage/FaceTime that are getting the headlines today, it’s WhatsApp that’s the big player in the UK, with 75 percent of adult Britons using it monthly. It’s hard to overstate how much outrage these legislators are poised to bring upon themselves if they effectively ban WhatsApp. (The legislators themselves surely all depend upon it.)

Facebook Releases Llama 2 Under an ‘Open for Everyone Other Than Really Large Rivals’ License 


We’re now ready to open source the next version of Llama 2 and are making it available free of charge for research and commercial use. We’re including model weights and starting code for the pretrained model and conversational fine-tuned versions too. As Satya Nadella announced on stage at Microsoft Inspire, we’re taking our partnership to the next level with Microsoft as our preferred partner for Llama 2 and expanding our efforts in generative AI. Starting today, Llama 2 is available in the Azure AI model catalog, enabling developers using Microsoft Azure to build with it and leverage their cloud-native tools for content filtering and safety features. It is also optimized to run locally on Windows, giving developers a seamless workflow as they bring generative AI experiences to customers across different platforms. Llama 2 is available through Amazon Web Services (AWS), Hugging Face, and other providers too.

First, this is yet another sign that OpenAI has no moat around LLM AI technology. Second, I’m glad to see Facebook drop their awkward “LLaMA” letter-casing style. Third, there’s a notable restriction in Llama 2’s license:

2. Additional Commercial Terms. If, on the Llama 2 version release date, the monthly active users of the products or services made available by or for Licensee, or Licensee’s affiliates, is greater than 700 million monthly active users in the preceding calendar month, you must request a license from Meta, which Meta may grant to you in its sole discretion, and you are not authorized to exercise any of the rights under this Agreement unless or until Meta otherwise expressly grants you such rights.

700 million seems oddly specific. Obviously the other companies in the Big Five exceed that number (Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft), but who else? Ben Thompson, in today’s subscriber-only Stratechery update (and — spoiler — tomorrow’s episode of Dithering) notes:

Probably the closest company to that 700 million monthly active user (MAU) figure is Snap, which said it passed 750 million MAUs earlier this year. Obviously all of the other big consumer tech companies have more than 700 million MAUs, as well as other services like Telegram, which just surpassed 800 million MAUs.

Good news for Elon Musk, though: Twitter is free to use it.

The Decline of Windows: Command vs. Control Edition 

An update I just appended to my post the other day about Command Z:

I noticed, of course, that the series is titled Command Z, not Control Z. They even use the “⌘” glyph in the logotype. But while of course a man of Soderbergh’s refined taste is a long-time Mac user, the fact that it’s not Control Z is yet another sign that the Windows hegemony is over.

Wayne Ma: Display Manufacturing Problems Might Lead to Shortages of iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max 

Wayne Ma, reporting for The Information (paywalled):

The iPhone 15 Pro, internally codenamed D83, and Pro Max, codenamed D84, are now in a manufacturing stage known as risk ramp in which Foxconn Technology, which does final assembly of the phones, makes hundreds of thousands of units of the device to test how reliably they can build the product without defects. Apple traditionally moves to mass production, where it begins making millions of iPhone units, in August. The phones typically start to ship to customers in late September.

One person with direct knowledge said the LG-made displays have failed reliability tests after it goes through a new process known as low injection pressure overmolding or LIPO. The process involves Apple fusing the display into its metal shell prior to assembly. Apple is repeatedly tweaking the design of LG’s display so that it can pass the tests.

However, Apple still can use displays made by its leading supplier Samsung, ensuring that it can continue to assemble a significant amount of units.

What going legit was to Michael Corleone, breaking free of dependence upon Samsung is to Tim Cook: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Kevin Mitnick Dies From Pancreatic Cancer at 59 

Tragic news from King David Memorial Chapel and Cemetery in Las Vegas:

Kevin David Mitnick, 59, died peacefully on Sunday, July 16, 2023, after valiantly battling pancreatic cancer for more than a year. Kevin is survived by his beloved wife, Kimberley Mitnick, who remained by his side throughout their 14-month ordeal. Kimberley is pregnant with their first child. Kevin was ecstatic about this new chapter in his and Kimberley’s life together, which has now been sadly cut short.

All cancers can go fuck themselves, but man, pancreatic cancer has taken so many people of late: Alex Trebek, Pixar animator Ralph Eggleston, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and of course Steve Jobs. Also: Jef Raskin and Randy Pausch (“The Last Lecture” professor).

Just brutal to hear that Mitnick’s wife is pregnant.

Kevin emerged from his final prison term, which he deemed a “vacation”, in January 2000. He was a changed individual, and began constructing a new career, as a White Hat hacker and security consultant. He became a highly sought-after global public speaker, a writer, and established the successful Mitnick Security Consulting. In November 2011, he became the Chief Hacking Officer and part owner of security awareness training company KnowBe4, founded by close friend and business partner Stu Sjouwerman.

Kevin attracted attention and support from unlikely sources. The bus driver who saw young Kevin memorize the bus schedules, punch cards and punch tool systems so he could ride the buses all day for free testified as a character witness for Kevin during his federal trial. The federal prosecutor offered his testimony that Kevin never tried to take one dime from any of his “victims”. The probation officer assigned to monitor Kevin after prison gave Kevin permission to write his first book on a laptop when he was not yet supposed to have access to computers. Shawn Nunley, the star witness in the FBI’s case against Kevin, became so disillusioned with the government’s treatment of Kevin that he contacted Kevin’s defense team, helped garner Kevin’s release, and became one of Kevin’s dearest friends. Kevin had an irresistible way of converting foes to friends and keeping them as friends forever.

Mitnick was technically gifted, but his greatest hacking skill was social engineering.

Unity Launches Beta Program for VisionOS  


Unity, the world’s leading platform for creating and growing real-time 3D (RT3D) content, announced today the launch of its beta program for visionOS that includes access to Unity PolySpatial. Featuring integration with the Unity editor, creators can build experiences that run in visionOS, and leverage the amazing features of Apple Vision Pro. By combining Unity’s new PolySpatial technology with Apple’s RealityKit-managed app rendering, content created in Unity will have a unified look and feel, alongside other apps in visionOS. And Unity has worked closely with Apple to offer support for visionOS and PolySpatial, so users can experience their favorite Unity apps on day one in all new spatial environments made possible by Apple Vision Pro. Developers interested in signing up for the beta can visit

This seems to be a deep partnership between Apple and Unity. There were a couple of sessions at WWDC last month about Unity and VisionOS. It’s impossible to say what would’ve happened if Epic hadn’t chosen to go to war against Apple with its Fortnite shenanigans, but given that they did, there’s pretty much zero chance Apple would integrate VisionOS with Epic’s Unreal Engine the way they are with Unity.

Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Command Z’ 

Command Z is an eight-episode sci-fi time-travel parody directed by Steven Soderbergh, and distributed on its own website. It costs $8, and all proceeds are going to charity. It feels fair to describe it as a Soderbergh-ian take on Idiocracy. It debuted yesterday, 17 July 2023, which is cleverly meta insofar as that’s the date the characters in the movie travel back in time to.

I enjoyed it — it was easily worth $8. It’s lighthearted and well-cast, with some very funny throwaway jokes about the future the characters live in. But because it’s only available through its own website, the only way to watch Command Z on a TV is via AirPlay, and that kind of sucks for something this long. Pause for too long and you can’t just un-pause, you need to open your phone and start the AirPlay connection all over again. And even if you watch straight through without pausing, you need to fiddle with your phone between episodes. For watching on a phone, it’s probably good that it’s broken up into 8 short episodes, but for watching on TV via AirPlay, it’d be much better if you could just watch it straight through like a movie. The eight episodes vary in length from 7–20 minutes, but with a total running time of about 95 minutes, you can think of it as an eight-chapter movie.

I’d love to see more filmmakers shoot micro-budget indie projects like this, but there ought to be a better way to distribute them for consumption on TVs.

Update: I noticed, of course, that the series is titled Command Z, not Control Z. They even use the “⌘” glyph in the logotype. But while of course a man of Soderbergh’s refined taste is a long-time Mac user, the fact that it’s not Control Z is yet another sign that the Windows hegemony is over.

‘Grid World’ 

Alex Miller:

An obsession was born. I was intoxicated by graph paper. The emptiness of a totally blank page intimidated me by demanding that I make the first move, but graph paper invited my participation by steering my pencil in the grooves of its strictly regular lines. The grid was like a friend who had already done half the work for me. I drew mazes, maps, patterns, plans — all held by the sturdiness of the grid. The effect was soothing. Through the grid’s lattice, all my drawings, no matter how primitive, took on an air of rational certainty.

Around the same time that my dad showed me the grid map game, I started using a computer. In our house, down the carpeted stairs, in the basement, there was a light wood desk, upon which sat a beige plastic box with a rainbow striped Apple logo on the front: the Power Macintosh. Through this machine’s chunky, low res monitor, I witnessed a grid come to life. Each pixel was a modular, addressable component in a digital whole. The windows, the buttons, the fonts, the menus, and the icons — oh, the icons! The world of the computer was filled with little hieroglyphic pictures representing folders, files, control panels, and drawing tools, each crisply rendered on the pixel grid of the screen. The logic and aesthetic of the grid permeated the virtual world of the computer — all rational, all peaceful.

This essay hit close to home. As a kid, I too was obsessed both with graph paper and computers, and intuited a deep connection between the two. (Via The HTML Review, another nominee in The Tiny Awards.)

The Tiny Awards 

Andy Baio:

In May, the creators of two of my favorite newsletters, Naive Weekly and Web Curios, reached out to see if I’d consider joining the selection committee of Tiny Awards, a tiny prize to honor websites that “best embodies the idea of a small, playful and heartfelt web.” I loved the idea and quickly accepted.

There were some additional rules: sites must have launched in the last 12 months, work on mobile and desktop without requiring an app or download, made by individuals or a group of creators (i.e. not agencies or brands), and should be primarily non-commercial.

Nominations were free and open to the public, unlike some other web awards, and the selection committee ended up reviewing over 270 submissions, which we narrowed down to a shortlist of 16 finalists, a wonderfully eclectic collection of websites.

The winner is decided by public voting, which is also free and easy, and closes next Thursday, July 20. I hope you take a look and cast your vote. Here’s a little about each of the finalists.

Personal favorites: Phil Gyford’s (“a place to find good blogs that interest you”, previously linked from here back in December), and Acronymy, a dictionary in which every word is defined as an acronym. (And, yes, its definition for acronym is pretty good.)

New Emojis in 2023-2024 

Keith Broni, writing at Emojipedia:

A Lime, a Head Shaking Vertically, and a Phoenix Bird emoji are amongst the draft emoji candidates up for approval by Unicode this September, as well as a selection of new direction-based people emojis. Ahead of World Emoji Day 2023, we here at Emojipedia have created sample designs for the new candidate emojis.

Still no chef’s kiss, alas.

Kolide – Device Trust for Okta 

My thanks to Kolide for sponsoring last week at Daring Fireball. In the few short months since ChatGPT debuted, hundreds of AI-powered tools have come on the market. But while AI-based tools have genuinely helpful applications, they also pose profound security risks. Unfortunately, most companies still haven’t come up with policies to manage those risks. In the absence of clear guidance around responsible AI use, employees are blithely handing over sensitive data to untrustworthy tools.

AI-based browser extensions offer the clearest illustration of this phenomenon. The Chrome store is chock-a-block with extensions that (claim to) harness ChatGPT to do all manner of tasks: drafting emails, designing graphics, transcribing meetings, and writing code. But these tools are prone to at least three types of risk: malware, data governance, and prompt injection attacks.

Kolide is taking a two-part approach to governing AI use: allowing you to draft AI policies as a team, and using Kolide to block malicious tools. Visit Kolide’s website to learn more about how Kolide enforces device compliance for companies with Okta.

1973 Training Video for Bell Labs’s Holmdel Computing Center 

Speaking of the Bell Labs Holmdel, NJ complex, here’s a tour of their computing center from 1973. Unix was still dripping wet at the time. Everything about this video is amazing. The desk where programmers dropped off and picked up jobs. The enormous magnetic storage disks. The music! All of it. It gives you a feel of what a revolution personal computing — still half a decade away — was going to be.

Twitter Has Begun Paying a Select Group of ‘Creators’ 


To be considered eligible for creator ads revenue sharing you must:

  1. Be subscribed to Twitter Blue or Verified Organizations
  2. Have at least 5M impressions on your posts in each of the last 3 months.
  3. Pass human review for Creator Monetization Standards.

The idea is that this will turn Twitter into a YouTube-like platform for high-profile accounts. Seems like it might be a sham at this point though — there’s no open enrollment, and the people who are getting paid now seem hand-selected by Elon Musk. Taylor Lorenz, writing for The Washington Post:

Former Twitter staffers who worked on creator-focused products expressed skepticism over the rollout, with several calling it a PR stunt. One former Twitter executive who worked on creator partnerships and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation, said that “any kind of content monetization we’ve done in the past was based on a revenue model. This just feels pulled out of thin air for a specific subset of creators that he wanted to placate.”

The former Twitter executive also cast doubt on Twitter’s revamped metrics, including impressions. “The numbers are totally and completely bogus. It’s all completely made up. It really feels like they’re arbitrarily writing checks to people they like, which is not a sustainable creator strategy.”

It’s worth taking quotes from anonymous “former Twitter staffers” with a grain of salt (and, perhaps, taking Lorenz’s byline with its own grain of salt), but it’s worth taking new Twitter initiatives with a truckload of salt. I really doubt this is going to prove sustainable. Would be kind of awesome, though, for someone to eventually be able to declare themselves a professional tweeter.

But it kind of smells like a scam: First you sign up to pay Twitter $8/month. Then you wait and see if you get selected to participate. Then they might start paying you. It’s like Amway-style multi-level marketing for social media.

The Bell Labs Holmdel Complex 

Matthew Christopher at Abandoned America:

The Bell Labs Holmdel Complex in Holmdel, New Jersey was created as a new research and development facility for Bell Telephone when they decided to move operations out of Manhattan. Constructed between 1959 and 1962, it was the swan song of architect Eero Saarinen, who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Center. Saarinen died a year before Holmdel was completed and six years before the six story complex would be named Laboratory of the Year by R&D Magazine. The outside curtain wall of mirrored glass that allowed in 25 percent of the sun’s light while blocking 70 percent of its heat led to the Holmdel Complex being christened “The Biggest Mirror Ever” by Architectural Forum, and the complex was used in universities as example of one of the crowning achievements of the modernist architectural style. [...]

Architect Alexander Gorlin allowed me to photograph Bell Labs shortly before the renovation began. Much of the interior had been stripped to the basic elements and the plants in the atrium were gone, but the architecture was still mesmerizing. I had visited the building when it was open many years ago but it was unfamiliar to me now. Many of the rooms were entirely anonymous after everything in them had been removed.

Fans of Severance will recognize that stunning atrium immediately — this building serves as the set for Lumon Industries’s headquarters.

It’s Official: Lionel Messi Joins Inter Miami CF 

Inter Miami CF:

Inter Miami CF today announced the signing of seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and World Cup Champion, Lionel Messi. The Argentine superstar, who will occupy a Designated Player slot, is expected to join the team in the coming days, and his contract will run through the 2025 Major League Soccer (MLS) season.

He starts playing in the Leagues Cup tournament next week.

Meta Is Blocking EU-Based Users From Accessing Threads via VPN 

Ivan Mehta, reporting for TechCrunch:

“Threads is not currently available in most countries in Europe and we’ve taken additional steps to prevent people based there from accessing it at this time. Europe continues to be an incredibly important market for Meta and we hope to make Threads available here in the future,” it said in a statement provided to TechCrunch.

Earlier today, several EU-based users started posting screenshots on Twitter indicating that they were not able to access the Threads app even after using VPN.

Federico Viticci (on Mastodon):

Threads has been down for me like this since last night. I’m in Italy. I can’t view my profile, notifications, or post. But I can read my timeline.

Maybe they figured out a way to block some parts of the app in Europe? 🤷‍♂️

Aaron Levie (on Threads):

Why doesn’t the EU just turn off the web?

‘Electric Bike, Stupid Love of My Life’ 

Craig Mod:

I’ve long since posited world peace could be achieved if you bought everyone in the world a bike, but now I want those bikes to be electric. I want everyone to feel this silliness, this punch-drunk stupidity of pure love, this sense of cheating the rules, the norms, this sense of ever-present delight. At our worst, humans mindlessly consume, sear the earth and each other, fill our bodies with poisons. At our best we invent electric bikes. Batteries have gotten more efficient, motors smaller and more powerful. The last decade has brought great efficiency to these machines, and the next ten years will only double down on these gains. Electric bike numbers are up, year over year over year. Tremendously so. Those who know, proselytize. We can’t help it. The charm is too great. The game non- zero sum. The more people who know, the better the world. It’s a wild notion, this sense of goodness to be had if you just reach out for it. Goodness with no real downside. Like solar panels or wind turbines, electric bikes are machines that buoy the spirit and the earth.

What a lovely essay. Hard to read it and resist not immediately opening a browser tab to begin shopping for an e-bike.

Deadline: ‘Hollywood Studios’ WGA Strike Endgame Is To Let Writers Go Broke Before Resuming Talks In Fall’ 

Dominic Patten, reporting for Deadline two days ago:

“I think we’re in for a long strike, and they’re going to let it bleed out,” said one industry veteran intimate with the POV of studio CEOs. With the scribes’ strike now finishing its 71st day and the actors’ union just 30 hours from a possible labor action of its own, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are planning to dig in hard this fall before even entertaining the idea of more talks with the WGA, I’ve learned. “Not Halloween precisely, but late October, for sure, is the intention,” says a top-tier producer close to the Carol Lombardini-run AMPTP. [...]

Receiving positive feedback from Wall Street since the WGA went on strike May 2, Warner Bros Discovery, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount and others have become determined to “break the WGA,” as one studio exec blatantly put it. To do so, the studios and the AMPTP believe that by October most writers will be running out of money after five months on the picket lines and no work.

“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Acknowledging the cold-as-ice approach, several other sources reiterated the statement. One insider called it “a cruel but necessary evil.”

Cold as ice indeed. There are very few people, in any field, who can go months without a paycheck.

Hollywood Actors to Strike, Setting Off Industrywide Shutdown 

The New York Times:

About 160,000 television and movie actors are going on strike at midnight, joining screenwriters who walked off the job in May and setting off Hollywood’s first industrywide shutdown in 63 years. The leaders of the union, SAG-AFTRA, approved a strike on Thursday, hours after contract talks with a group of studios broke down. Actors will be on the picket line starting on Friday.

“What’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor,” said Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA’s president. “When employers make Wall Street and greed their priority and they forget about the essential contributors who make the machine run, we have a problem.” [...]

It’s been even longer — since 1960, when Marilyn Monroe was still starring in films — since actors and screenwriters were on strike at the same time. The dual strikes pit more than 170,000 workers against old-line studios like Disney, Universal, Sony and Paramount, as well newer juggernauts like Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

Labor is clearly on the upswing, and there’s no higher-profile union than the Screen Actors Guild, whose members are literal movie stars.

‘Anchor Brewing Was San Francisco’ 

Patrick Redford, writing for Defector:

It is tempting to read this as another grim story about the pandemic claiming a beloved business, given an extra bit of apocalyptic flair by the degree to which Anchor is synonymous with San Francisco. In that light, the death of one of the city’s most iconic companies goes hand in hand with the narrative that San Francisco is a dying city riven by the tripartite scourges of unchecked crime, spiraling unaffordability, and, uh, wokeness. Even if you don’t want to go that far, you can correlate San Francisco’s high office space vacancy rates, declining national craft beer sales, and “inflation,” and conclude that this economy was too harsh for Anchor to survive in. Indeed, how can any small business keep its lights on under such conditions? That is the story Sapporo’s PR goons are selling and the San Francisco Chronicle is buying, without any pushback or worker perspective, even though it’s not true. Economic conditions matter, though they aren’t nearly as relevant to the Anchor story as Sapporo’s uniquely catastrophic stewardship of the company.

A fine remembrance, replete with great links to further reading, including this excerpt from David Burkhart’s book, published just last year, The Anchor Brewing Story.

What comes to mind is that small-scale excellence is delicate and precious. It seems unfathomable that Anchor could be losing money when their beer remains as popular as ever, but leave it to a large conglomerate like Sapporo to tank a good small thing in the name of making it a bigger thing.

The ‘X’ Stands for Bullshit 

Jay Peters and Emma Roth, for The Verge:

xAI, Elon Musk’s newly formed AI company, has revealed itself with a new website detailing its mission and team at Musk tweeted the company’s intent is to “understand reality” without any other details or explanation.

“The goal of xAI is to understand the true nature of the universe,” according to the website. The team is headed up by Elon Musk and includes team members that have worked at other big names in AI, including OpenAI, Google Research, Microsoft Research, and DeepMind (which was recently folded into Google).

I’ll go out on a limb and say this whole thing is bullshit, and he’s announcing it this week in a futile attempt to distract attention from Threads killing Twitter. The website contains no more information than the vapid statement quoted by the Verge, and the names for each of the dozen men listed on the team are just links to their Twitter accounts.

Inside San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib 

As a palate cleanser after the bitter news about Anchor Brewing, here’s something delightful: a behind-the-scenes look at San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib. Turns out they use a little salt in the preparation. Pro tip: it’s not on the menu, but the creamed corn is perfect.

Anchor Brewing Is Shutting Down After 127 Years 

Jess Lander and Caleb Pershan, reporting sad news for the San Francisco Chronicle:

San Francisco institution Anchor Brewing Co., the godfather of steam beer, is shutting down after 127 years. The brewery was “losing millions of dollars a year,” said Anchor spokesperson Sam Singer. “Economic pressures have made the business no longer sustainable.”

Anchor has already brewed its final beer at the historic Potrero Hill brewery — “there’s no steam coming out of the brewery now,” said Singer — and notified the brewery’s 61 employees of the shutdown early Wednesday morning. The brewery’s taproom, Anchor Public Taps, will continue operating until at least Aug. 1, possibly longer.

The news comes one month after Anchor announced it was halting national distribution and discontinuing its beloved Christmas Ale, which it has produced since 1975. When Japanese beer giant Sapporo purchased Anchor in 2017, the company was already “in the red,” according to Singer, who said that revenue is down by two-thirds since 2016. The pandemic was especially challenging for the brewery, added Singer, as it typically sells most of its beer through bars and restaurants. The brewery attempted to expand its retail distribution but was “unable to break through in a big enough way,” he said.

What a shame. “Drink local” is always good advice, and Anchor Steam in San Francisco was always delicious. I’m not sure why they ever distributed Anchor Steam nationally, though — it was one of the worst-travelling beers I’ve ever had. Local and fresh: delicious. Trucked to the east coast: meh. Before I tried it in San Francisco I always wondered what the fuss was about.

I knew something was wrong when they debuted their absurd redesign. Whatever was wrong, it sure as shit wasn’t their distinctive brand packaging.

From the DF Archive: Instagram’s Launch 

Yours truly, on the day Instagram launched (6 October 2010):

Slick new camera app for the iPhone, with a great UI, cool filters, and a built-in photo-sharing social network. Or maybe it’s a photo-sharing social network with a free iPhone client.

The app is nice, but I can’t see why I’d use the sharing service instead of Flickr.

Points to me for considering it noteworthy on launch day, but demerits for wrongly seeing it as a camera app with photo-sharing on the side. (I do still maintain my Flickr account.)

Apple Opens Store on WeChat 

No Apple action on Threads yet but Reuters reports some social media platform news:

Tencent’s WeChat said on Tuesday that iPhone maker Apple had opened a store on its social media platform, marking an expansion of the U.S. firm’s retail channels in the world’s second largest economy. The announcement by WeChat, China’s dominant messaging app which also provides e-commerce, livestreaming and payment services, said users would be able to buy Apple products including iPhones, iPads and Macs from the store.

China’s smartphone sales in the first quarter fell 5% year on year, marking the lowest first-quarter sales figure for the country since 2014, according to data from Counterpoint Research. However, during the quarter Apple recorded a 19.9% share of the Chinese smartphone market — its biggest since 2014 — as it increased sales by 6% year-on-year in a declining market, the research firm said.

WeChat’s “everything app” dominance in China has no equivalent here.

Update: Noel Philips, who reviews airlines on YouTube, ran into a problem trying to fly into Shanghai, because they wanted him to process his transit visa using WeChat — but Philips theretofore hadn’t even heard of WeChat. It really is an everything app.

Apple Accounts on Threads 

Zac Hall at 9to5Mac:

Have you seen an account claiming to be Phil Schiller on Threads? 9to5Mac has confirmed that the account belongs to the actual Apple Fellow himself.

So Schiller is there (and actively posting), but no Joz and no Tim Cook yet. Amongst Cook’s big five CEO cohorts, Satya Nadella is the only other one who isn’t there yet. Zuckerberg (natch), Sundar Pichai, and Andy Jassy are all there, along with Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

Brand-wise, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are there, along with, of course, Facebook and Meta. Microsoft’s account is active and playful. Apple is far and away the biggest corporate brand in the world that doesn’t yet have a primary company account, but they do have accounts for Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, Apple News, and Apple Books — but none of those accounts has posted yet. No Apple TV account yet.

(Speaking of brand accounts, if anyone at Threads/Instagram is reading this and can tell me what I need to do to claim @daringfireball — which is not available, but not the name of an active account — let me know.)

Microsoft’s $75 Billion Acquisition of Activision Moves Closer as Judge Denies FTC Injunction 

Jordan Novet, reporting for CNBC:

A federal judge in San Francisco has denied the Federal Trade Commission’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Microsoft from completing its acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard.

The deal isn’t completely in the clear, though. The FTC can now bring the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and the two companies must find a way forward to resolve opposition from the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom.

The deadline to close the deal is next week, but the market expects it to happen:

Activision Blizzard shares reached a session high and 52-week high of $92.91 per share after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued the decision. Microsoft had agreed to buy the game publisher for $95 per share. Activision Blizzard stock ended Tuesday’s trading session at $90.99 per share, up 10%.

This is another case where the Biden FTC is barking up the wrong tree. Microsoft is a major player in video games, to say the least, but Xbox is the third-place console, and Microsoft has made a legally-binding commitment not just to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years, but to bring the franchise to Nintendo Switch.

The Talk Show: ‘Tape Deck Dongle’ 

Joanna Stern returns to the show. Topics include the launch of Threads, Apple’s Vision Pro, and iPhone/iCloud device security. Also, some accidental car talk.

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The App Store Turns 15 

Phil Schiller, on Mastodon:

Happy 15th Birthday App Store 🎂

BasicAppleGuy had a fun idea for a thread: screenshots of the first apps you downloaded from the store. (In the App Store app, tap your account avatar, then tap “Purchased” to get a list of all apps you’ve downloaded. They’re listed in chronological order, so just scroll to the bottom.)

My first eight, in order: Super Monkey Ball, At Bat Lite, iTunes Remote, AIM, The New York Times, AP Mobile, To Do, Texas Hold’em.

See also: Craig Grannell:

I’m writing a piece on the App Store turning 15, and I couldn’t find a list of the original ~500 App Store apps and games from 11 July 2008, which I thought was strange. @jamesthomson, whose PCalc was there from the start, suggested we might be able to crowdsource this, for posterity and future research.

Nylas for Email and Calendar APIs 

My thanks to Nylas for sponsoring DF last week. Nylas allows you to seamlessly integrate your users’ emails, calendars, and contacts right in your own application. Nylas enabled you to launch critical features way ahead of schedule by spending less time on email and calendar infrastructure, and more time on your product roadmap. Leverage Nylas’s SDKs, CLI, and code templates to reduce time spent building so you can focus on your customers.

Nylas is trusted by over 250,000 developers (and counting). Check out their website to see how it works, including just how simple their JSON APIs are to integrate. Click here to launch for free today, connecting up to 10 accounts with no credit card required.

Le Monde: ‘France Set to Allow Police to Spy Through Phones’ 

Le Monde:

French police should be able to spy on suspects by remotely activating the camera, microphone and GPS of their phones and other devices, lawmakers agreed late on Wednesday, July 5. Part of a wider justice reform bill, the spying provision has been attacked by both the left and rights defenders as an authoritarian snoopers’ charter, though Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti insists it would affect only “dozens of cases a year.”

Covering laptops, cars and other connected objects as well as phones, the measure would allow the geolocation of suspects in crimes punishable by at least five years’ jail. Devices could also be remotely activated to record sound and images of people suspected of terror offenses, as well as delinquency and organized crime.

It’s unclear from this article whether the law would simply allow police to try to do this, using security exploits to plant malware on targets’ devices, or if France is going to mandate that all devices include back doors to enable it. Either way, good luck with that. The way the article is written, it’s made to seem that the police have the technical ability to just do this. They don’t.

GQ Shits the Bed 

Will Sommer, reporting for The Washington Post:

In an unusual step, GQ magazine removed an article critical of powerful media executive David Zaslav from its website just hours after it was published Monday, following a complaint from Zaslav’s camp. [...] At one point, Bailey compared Zaslav to tyrannical “Succession” patriarch Logan Roy. “In a relatively short period of time, David Zaslav has become perhaps the most hated man in Hollywood,” Bailey wrote.

A Zaslav spokesman complained to GQ about the story soon after it was published, according to people close to the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve confidences. By early afternoon on Monday, the magazine had made extensive edits to the story. [...]

Bailey told The Washington Post that, after GQ made the changes, he asked editors to remove his byline. He said an editor told him that GQ would not keep an article on its website without the author’s name. By Monday afternoon, the article was removed entirely from the site.

Humiliating cowardice on the part of GQ’s editors. The original article was harsh but accurate. It had some zingers, yes, but it was mostly just a factual list of the actual shitty and stupid things Zaslov has done since he took the helm of the newly combined Warner Bros Discovery conglomerate. Why would GQ do this? There’s a wee bit of a bad smell with this:

GQ has a corporate connection to Warner Bros. Discovery. The magazine’s parent company, Condé Nast, is owned by Advance Publications, a major shareholder in Warner Bros. Discovery. Advance Publications did not respond to a request for comment.

But over at Variety, Tatiana Siegel uncovers the stench:

GQ editor-in-chief Will Welch is producing a movie at Warner Bros. titled “The Great Chinese Art Heist,” which is based on a 2018 GQ article by Alex W. Palmer. [...] Sources say Welch was involved in the discussions surrounding the removal of Bailey’s initial story and made the call to pull the revamped story, which ran some 500 words shorter than the published version. Those same sources say Warner Bros. Discovery complained about the initial story to two GQ editors, one of whom was Welch.

MrBeast Trolls Elon Musk on Threads 

Truly a singular genius. It’s hard to imagine a funnier giveaway stunt than this.

Twitter Is Threatening to Sue Meta Over Threads, Meta Executives Threaten to Piss Their Pants Laughing 

Max Tani, reporting for Semafor:

On Wednesday, Instagram parent company Meta introduced Threads, a text-based companion to Instagram that resembles Twitter and other text-based social platforms. Just hours later, a lawyer for Twitter, Alex Spiro, sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg accusing the company of engaging in “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”

Good luck with that.

Spiro accused Meta of hiring dozens of former Twitter employees who “had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information.”

He also alleged that Meta assigned those employees to develop “Meta’s copycat ‘Threads’ app with the specific intent that they use Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property in order to accelerate the development of Meta’s competing app, in violation of both state and federal law as well as those employees’ ongoing obligations to Twitter.”

It’s comical to think that Meta needed engineers from Twitter to build Threads. Like Twitter is a model of reliability and stability, and Meta’s platforms don’t serve an entire order of magnitude more users. Even more comical:

Andy Stone, Meta’s communications director, told Semafor that Twitter’s accusations are baseless. “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing,” he said.

Even if ex-Twitter employees were working on Threads, Elon Musk fired them. It’s not illegal to hire people fired by a competitor. Would be kind of wacky if it were. This letter is so transparent: Musk is threatened by Threads and jealous of the mountain of media attention it’s getting, so he’s lashing out. Commanding his lawyer to send a silly letter like this feels like a Trump move, no exaggeration.

Mastodon’s FAQ on Threads 

Eugen Rochko, founder and CEO of Mastodon:

Today, Meta is launching its new microblogging platform called Threads. What is noteworthy about this launch is that Threads intends to become part of the decentralized social web by using the same standard protocol as Mastodon, ActivityPub. There’s been a lot of speculation around what Threads will be and what it means for Mastodon. We’ve put together some of the most common questions and our responses based on what was launched today.

What strikes me about this FAQ is that nearly every question has no basis in reality. It’s calming the irrational fears of people who view Facebook as a corporate bogeyman. Having written quite a bit recently about Threads joining the open fediverse, I can vouch that these fears are real, insofar as people really do think Threads is somehow going to steal their data, or that Facebook is somehow going to show ads to people on Mastodon servers, but those fears have no more basis in reality than worrying about monsters who live under your bed.

Here’s the one that really matters:

Will Meta embrace-extend-extinguish the ActivityPub protocol?

There are comparisons to be made between Meta adopting ActivityPub for its new social media platform and Meta adopting XMPP for its Messenger service a decade ago. There was a time when users of Facebook and users of Google Talk were able to chat with each other and with people from self-hosted XMPP servers, before each platform was locked down into the silos we know today. What would stop that from repeating? Well, even if Threads abandoned ActivityPub down the line, where we would end up is exactly where we are now. XMPP did not exist on its own outside of nerd circles, while ActivityPub enjoys the support and brand recognition of Mastodon.

Custom Domain Names as Bluesky Handles – Fun Feature, and Now a Business Model 

From the official Bluesky (pro tip: rhymes with brewski and Russki) blog:

We believe that there must be better strategies to sustain social networks that don’t require selling user data for ads. Our first step in another direction is paid services, and we’re starting with custom domains. While setting up a custom domain to use with Bluesky and the AT Protocol is fairly straightforward, it does require some familiarity with domain registrars and DNS settings. Yet, over 13,000 users have already either repurposed domains they already owned to use as handles, or purchased a domain solely because of Bluesky. Domains have so much potential as a personalized way to customize identities and as a decentralized way to verify reputation that builds off the existing web. For example, U.S. Senators have used the domain to verify their identity on Bluesky without our involvement, and a third-party developer built a web extension that checks if websites are linked to an AT Protocol identity. The possibilities are wide in the domain-as-a-handle space.

We’re partnering with Namecheap, a popular domain registrar, to offer a service for easy domain purchasing and management. With this, people can set a custom domain as their handle on Bluesky and the AT Protocol in under a few minutes.

Making it a built-in feature and a source of recurring revenue for the Bluesky company — legally, a public benefit corporation — is a great idea. Using a custom domain name as your handle is one of the best features of Bluesky and the AT Protocol, and it really is rather simple. But by building it in as a feature, Bluesky can make it super simple, and remove the possibility of error.

In Bluesky’s settings (which are relatively concise), go to “Change Handle” under “Advanced”. Then tap (or click) “I have my own domain.” On the next screen enter the domain name you own and wish to use in the top field, and Bluesky will show you the domain and value to enter at your registrar. I’m using “”, but you can just as easily use a subdomain like “”. The Daring Fireball account on Bluesky will be “” — I could have used “” for my personal account. A publication like, say, The New York Times could allow reporters to each have official Bluesky accounts like “”. Verification, in a sense, is built in.

Then just go to your domain registrar and create an entry of type “TXT” using the domain and value you copied from the Bluesky app. Wait a few minutes for the change to propagate and your custom domain is now your Bluesky handle. Here’s a screenshot from my settings at Google Domains.

Instagram’s Threads App Was Briefly Listed on Google Play Over the Weekend 

Threads, the ActivityPub-compatible Twitter clone from Instagram, briefly (and presumably inadvertently) was listed in the Google Play Store over the weekend. The app itself wasn’t available, but Alessandro Paluzzi captured screenshots. The icon is plain but clever: a thread in the shape of an “@”. It’s showing up in the Play Store in Europe, too.

That Threads is seemingly very close to launching makes Twitter’s rate-limiting all the more baffling. Twitter users want an alternative, and Elon Musk is now actively pushing them away. (Dave Lee, in a column for Bloomberg, dismisses Mastodon in a single painful sentence: “One of them, Mastodon, saw a big spike in users this weekend, but can’t shake its reputation as being overly complex for non-techy users.”)

Update: Threads is now pre-listed in the App Store, marked as being available on this Thursday, July 6. Here’s the icon. Shit’s getting real.

Mashable: ‘Twitter’s API Keeps Breaking, Even for Developers Paying $42,000’ 

Matt Binder, reporting for Mashable:

According to developers paying Twitter, since the switch over to Elon Musk’s paid API subscription plans, Twitter’s API has experienced frequent issues that make it extremely difficult to run their apps.

Twitter’s API issues have frustrated developers in each of Twitter’s new API access tiers. Those with Basic or Pro plans — paying $100 and $5000 a month for API access, respectively — have experienced unannounced changes to their plans, numerous bugs, and often receive zero customer support. And developers shelling out for Twitter’s Enterprise API Plan, which starts at $42,000 per month, are experiencing sudden outages and disappointing service considering the money they’re paying.

“Everything used to work fine before we started paying half a million per year,” shared one developer in a private Twitter developer group chat shared with Mashable.

This is how Twitter is dealing with paid services. At this point, choosing to pay for Twitter Blue as a user looks about as smart as buying a ticket for OceanGate’s next submarine.

The CEO Who Isn’t in Charge of the Company 

Matt Levine, in his Money Stuff column:

Well, look, if I were the newly hired chief executive officer of a social media company, and if the directors and shareholders who brought me in as CEO had told me that my main mission was to turn around the company’s precarious financial situation by improving our position with advertisers, and if I spent my first few weeks reassuring advertisers and rebuilding relationships and talking up our site’s unique audience and powerful engagement, and then one day my head of software engineering came to me and said “hey boss, too many people were too engaged with too many posts, so I had to limit everyone’s ability to view posts on our site, just FYI,” I would ... probably ... fire ... him?

I mean I suppose I might ask questions like “Is this because of some technological limitation on our system? Is it because you were monkeying with the code without understanding it? Is it because you tried to stop people from reading the site without logging in, and messed up and stopped them from reading the site even when they logged in? Is it because you fired and demoralized too many engineers so no one was left to keep the systems running normally? Is it because you forgot to pay the cloud bills? Is it because deep down you don’t like it when people read posts on our site and you want to stop them, or you don’t like relying on ad revenue and want to sabotage my ability to sell ads?” Those are all interesting questions, and I suppose having the answers would help my new head of software engineering fix whatever this guy broke. But no matter what the answers are, this guy’s gotta go. If you are in charge of the software engineers at a social media site, and you make it so that people can’t read the site, that’s bad.

The only way you wouldn’t fire the head of software at Twitter would be, say, if he owned the company.


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CEO Linda Yaccarino’s Vision for Twitter 2.0: Sound-On Video Ads 

Hannah Murphy, reporting for The Financial Times:

Twitter’s new chief executive, Linda Yaccarino, is preparing a series of measures to bring back advertisers who had abandoned the platform under Elon Musk’s ownership, including introducing a video ads service, wooing more celebrities, and raising headcount.

The former NBCUniversal advertising head, who started as chief executive on June 5, is seeking to launch full-screen, sound-on video ads that would be shown to users scrolling through Twitter’s new short-video feed, according to three people familiar with the situation.

That sounds just lovely. Now I’m definitely going to pay for a Twitter Blue account. I just love sound-on video ads. Hopefully they’ll intersperse them between every 2 or 3 regular tweets.

Everything Continues to Be Going Just Great at Twitter 

Ivan Mehta, reporting for TechCrunch:

Over the weekend, Elon Musk limited the number of tweets users can read in a day, which he said was to prevent data scraping. While this measure has affected all Twitter users, TweetDeck users in particular are today reporting major problems, including notifications and entire columns failing to load.

Musk initially enforced read-limits of 6,000 daily posts for verified users and 600 daily posts for unverified users. Hours later, he increased these limits to 10,000 tweets and 1,000 tweets, respectively. Given that TweetDeck loads up multiple tweets through various columns simultaneously, it’s likely that the effects of the read restrictions are amplified within TweetDeck.

Needless to say it’s rather nutty that a business whose primary revenue stream is advertising would institute rate limits at all, let alone severe limits that typical users bump up against in about 20 minutes of browsing. Musk’s thinking, one presumes, is that this is the masterstroke that will prompt people to sign up for Twitter Blue at $8-11/month.

The bigger, more fundamental change Musk instituted over the weekend is making it such that tweets aren’t visible unless you’re logged in to a Twitter account. This broke all sorts of things. Messaging apps (like Apple’s Messages) can no longer render preview cards for tweets, for one thing. Closer to home, it broke the @daringfireball auto-posting account. More amusingly, as documented by Sheldon Chang, this change completely broke Twitter itself — some part of the Rube Goldberg-ian machine that assembles users’ timeline feeds was itself subjected to these rate limits, so Twitter wound up DDOSing itself. It’s like a gasoline company instituting rations that stranded its own fleet of tanker trucks.

From its inception through this weekend, Twitter has been like blogging, insofar as tweets being public. You visit the URL for a tweet, you see the tweet. Now it’s a walled garden, like most of Facebook, available only to logged-in users. I suspect this change will prevent the Internet Archive from caching tweets, too. That just sucks.

WSJ: ‘Goldman Is Looking for a Way Out of Its Partnership With Apple’ 

AnnaMaria Andriotis, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

The Wall Street firm is in talks with American Express to take over its Apple credit card and other ventures with the tech giant, according to people familiar with the matter. Goldman went public with plans to scale back its consumer business late last year, but it appeared committed to the Apple relationship. The bank recently extended the partnership through the end of the decade, agreed to support Apple’s “buy now, pay later” offering and launched a bank account with the tech company.

Now it is in talks to offload those businesses and its credit-card partnership to Amex, according to people familiar with the discussions. A deal with Amex isn’t imminent or assured, people familiar with the conversations said, and it could take a while to transfer the partnership in any case. Apple would have to agree to a transfer. The tech company is aware of the talks, which have been ongoing for months, the people said. [...]

In January, Goldman disclosed that it had lost about $3 billion on the consumer-lending push since 2020.

It’s unclear how much of Goldman’s losses in their consumer banking foray are attributable to the Apple Card specifically, but Sridhar Natarajan reported for Bloomberg* back in January that it’s the source of most of their losses:

The division’s $1 billion pretax loss reported for 2021 was mostly tied to the Apple Card, people with knowledge of the numbers said. And about $2 billion in 2022 mainly stems from the Apple card and installment-lending platform GreenSky, the people said.

How you lose money issuing credit cards that charge usurious interest rates is beyond me. Not quite in the territory of Donald Trump somehow losing money while running casinos, but it’s up there. Are they issuing Apple Cards to deadbeats? (Apparently, yes: they’ve been issuing a lot of cards to people with bad credit.)

If Goldman does bail, AmEx would be as good a partner as any for Apple: they know how to deliver a premium experience and turn a good profit doing so.

* You know.

Astra Carta Seal 

LoveFrom Serif in action, again:

The Astra Carta seal was designed by Sir Jony Ive and his team at the creative collective LoveFrom.

The design complements the Terra Carta seal, using the same typography and St Edward’s Crown. The structure is similarly defined by sacred geometry, overlaid with astronomical motion and heavenly bodies.

The animation is rather hypnotic. Somehow both busy and peaceful. (And the actual document — the Summarium — is entirely set in LoveFrom Serif as well.)

Humane Reveals Product Name: ‘Ai Pin’ 


Humane, Inc. today announced its first device will be called the Humane Ai Pin, the latest detail to be revealed ahead of its launch later this year. The Humane Ai Pin is a new type of standalone device with a software platform that harnesses the power of AI to enable innovative personal computing experiences. [...] Humane’s first device will be powered by an advanced Snapdragon platform from Qualcomm Technologies. [...]

Dev Singh, Vice President, Business Development of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. commented: “We are proud to be collaborating with Humane and that this first-of-a-kind clothing-based wearable device will be powered by Snapdragon. Humane’s Ai Pin will deliver a superior AI experience and feature an assortment of on-device AI capabilities. Its revolutionary and sleek form factor is packed with powerful performance so that it can make sense of real-time contextual information and provide the wearer with a new and exciting experience. We cannot wait to see where they take this device.”

We’ll have to take Singh’s word for it that the form factor is “revolutionary and sleek”, as they still aren’t showing it.

David Pierce at The Verge:

Humane continues to be mysterious about how the Ai Pin works, what exactly it will do, and even what it looks like. (Most mysterious of all: why in the world is “AI” not capitalized? What is “Ai?” Am I supposed to pronounce it like “eye?” I am confident this will infuriate The Verge’s copy desk and me in equal measure for years to come.)

The Daring Fireball Style Desk is on break for the extended U.S. holiday weekend, and hasn’t yet issued a ruling.

The Password Game 

Another dose of old-school internet fun from Neal Agarwal.