Linked List: March 2023

The Talk Show: ‘The Skin of Your Pants’ 

Daniel Jalkut returns to the show to talk about AI chat, new emoji, and Apple Music Classical.

Sponsored by:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
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Remembering Alex Hay, the Maker of Toolbox Pro 

John Voorhees, writing at MacStories:

I have some sad news to share with the MacStories community. Recently, Alex Hay, the developer of Toolbox Pro and other apps, passed away after a battle with cancer. [...]

The news of Alex’s passing reached us just as Federico and I were finalizing our plans for Automation April, leaving us shaken. Our reactions were the same: to use Automation April, an event that brings all corners of the Apple automation community together to remember and honor Alex’s memory.

So, with his family’s blessing, we’re dedicating Automation April 2023 in memory of Alex Hay, a brilliant and beloved member of the automation community who was taken from us far too early at the age of 36. MacStories is also making donations to the American Cancer Society and Cancer Research UK in Alex’s name, and we’d love it if you would join us in making a donation using the links above too.

If you’re ready for a gut punch, here’s Hay on Reddit just a few weeks ago, lamenting the too-far-in-the-future release date for the upcoming game Starfield. Fuck cancer.

I can’t say I knew him well, but I’d interacted with him a few times, and know he was a longtime DF reader. His apps Toolbox Pro and Logger for Shortcuts are my two favorite Shortcuts utilities. (I’ve always been a printf() debugger and that’s what Logger enables for Shortcuts hacking.)

Dedicating MacStories’s annual Automation April in Hay’s honor is a splendid idea, as is using it to raise money for cancer research.

Update, August 2023: Snailed It Development:

We’re truly honoured to be able to announce that we have taken over development of Toolbox Pro, Logger for Shortcuts, and Nautomate. All three apps were originally developed by indie developer Alex Hay before he tragically passed away back in March after a battle with cancer.

Alex was a well loved member of the indie development community, featuring on numerous podcasts and articles. He was always known as being a kind and generous man, being willing to share his time and knowledge with anyone who asked.

More Support for Breaking Out Apple Passwords Into a Standalone App 

Dan Moren at Six Colors:

Unlike Cabel, however, I would like Apple to implement some sort of family sharing feature for Passwords. I share a bunch of logins with my wife, and while I can share them with 1Password, there’s an additional hurdle to getting someone on a third-party app that requires their own account, etc. Especially as we shift more and more to passkeys, where traditional methods of sharing will be impractical, it’s more important that Apple make it easier to share credentials.

When I linked to Cabel Sasser’s entreaty for breaking Apple Passwords out of a Settings panel and into a proper standalone app, I didn’t mention sharing, but I agree with Moren: sooner rather than later, Apple ought to support family sharing for passwords and other security credentials. Sasser’s line about sharing:

The idea is not to replace third-party password apps, as I do not wish a Sherlocking on anyone. Those apps should, and currently do, offer more features than Apple ever will, like cross-platform support, team/family password sharing, etc.

But sharing is too important to ignore, especially at the small scale of family sharing. Let’s face it, when we talk about Apple sherlocking* apps in this space, we’re really just talking about 1Password. There are other credible password managers but 1Password is the one that Mac and iOS users care about. But I think it’s clear that 1Password themselves have moved in an enterprise direction. Apple Notes added robust small-scale sharing years ago and hasn’t sherlocked the market for third-party notes apps. I think the same would be true for passwords.

* The DF Style Guide Desk is making a call: it’s time to lowercase the verb sherlock.

Apple Wins Appeal Against UK’s Decision to Investigate Its Mobile Browser 


Apple Inc won its appeal against the decision by Britain’s antitrust regulator to launch an investigation into its mobile browser and cloud gaming services, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) ruled on Friday.

Regulator the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) opened a full investigation in November into the dominance of Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google in mobile browsers, and the possibility of the iPhone maker restricting the cloud gaming market through its app store.

Apple argued that the CMA had “no power” to launch such a probe because it did so too late. Its lawyer Timothy Otty earlier this month said that the market investigation should have been opened last June at the same time the CMA published a report on mobile ecosystems, which found the two tech giants had an “effective duopoly.”

The CAT endorsed Apple’s argument, saying that in declining to take action at that time only in the expectation of receiving further powers it might well be said that the CMA “erred in law”.

Seems like a technicality, but still, in my opinion, the correct result.

‘Old Yankee Stadium’s Rise and Fall: The Complete Story of “The House That Ruth Built”’ 

Dayn Perry at CBS Sports, in a magnificently comprehensive look back at the original Yankee Stadium, which opened 100 years ago:

On April 18, 1923, it was a brisk 49 degrees in New York City, a spring in name only. The wind whipped up dust from the dirt roads and vacant lots abutting the ballpark that now rose from the planed-out soil of city plot 2106, lot 100. Those same winds whirled the eight-foot copper baseball bat that served as a weathervane from atop the in-play flagpole in center field. There had been a farm there, granted to John Lion Gardiner just prior to the Revolutionary War, and then a sawmill, and the surrounding sweeps of land seemed more suited to just that — an old farm or sawmill — rather than what now scraped the sky.

And what loomed above, three decks high, was a concrete-and-steel colossus unexampled in sports and certainly baseball. The forging of the stadium at 161st and River displaced 45,000 cubic yards of Bronx soil. Then it devoured 20,000 yards of concrete; four million feet of lumber; 800 tons of re-bar; 2,200 tons of steel beams and channels and angles and plates; 13,000 yards of topsoil and 116,000 square feet of Merion Bluegrass sod; one million screws of brass.

It was not the first stadium to be raised up in the medium of modern construction materials, but it was the most hulking, the most impossible-seeming. Unlike Wrigley, Fenway, Shibe, Crosley or others of the prior generation, Yankee Stadium defied words like “cozy” or “intimate” at every grand angle. In that way, it augured a coming era in which ballparks would no longer tuck into their existing neighborhoods but rather barge in with shoulders wide and arms akimbo. The original design of Yankee Stadium of course reflected some geographic limitations, but its final presence looked and felt like an unyielding one. Yankee Stadium was big and bad like its warrior-poet Babe Ruth — like its titular hometown nine soon would be — and it authored a reimagining: that the “ballpark” could be elevated and sprawled into the realm of “stadium.” And so it was the first ballpark to be called a stadium.

The second-finest ballpark ever built.

‘The Yankees Cap Goes Viral in Brazil: “Is It Basketball?”’ 

Jack Nicas, reporting for The New York Times from Brazil on the nation’s most popular headgear:

More than any other sports paraphernalia, the Yankees cap has become its very own fashion trend, unmoored from the sport or the team it represents. Lifted by starring roles in hip-hop videos, celebrity endorsements and collaborations with Gucci and Supreme, the hat has gone fully global, crossing borders to lands where mentions of Babe Ruth and Aaron Judge will elicit blank stares — never mind trying to explain the “Evil Empire.”

This week, the Yankees start playing meaningful baseball once again, and Yankees fans in New York will pull on the caps to show their allegiance. But to many others in places like Brazil, China and Nigeria, the interlocked NY insignia will remain simply a classic piece of Americana, a status symbol, or a generic — perhaps chic — emblem of the West.

“The logo is super stylish and, I think, sophisticated,” said Natalia Monsores, 40, while checking out a wall of Yankees hats in a luxury-mall shop owned by New Era, the Buffalo, N.Y., company that makes the official Yankees caps. “It’s the symbol of the brand, right? New Era,” she replied when asked what the logo meant. “You’re sending a sign: ‘I’m wearing something quality.’”

Super stylish and something quality, indeed.

“It’s American football? Or is it a brand?” said Carlos Henrique, 20, hawking Yankees caps off a metal rack he was carrying on Rio’s Ipanema Beach. Either way, it was his best seller. “I just know it calls attention,” he said. “And it looks good on everyone.”

Someday soon, one can hope, it will look good on Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout.

Opening Day, Bronx-Style 

Bryan Hoch, reporting for MLB:

There were familiar chants of “M-V-P!” as Aaron Judge strode toward home plate in the first inning on Opening Day, digging his right cleat across the dirt of the batter’s box as he prepared for his first official at-bat since being named the 16th captain in Yankees franchise history.

It took all of two pitches for Judge to pick up where he left off. Having eclipsed Roger Maris’ single-season American League record with 62 home runs last year, Judge belted the Majors’ first of 2023, powering a Logan Webb sinker over the center-field wall at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees cruised to a 5-0 win over the Giants on Thursday.

Opening Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year.

In addition to Judge’s homer and Gerrit Cole’s 11 strikeouts, the game also marked the debut of 21-year-old rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe, the youngest player to start on Opening Day for the Yankees since Derek Jeter. No shame in losing to the Yankees, Giants fans. (Giants starter Logan Webb struck out 12 and gave up only 4 hits in 6 innings — a hell of a good outing that looks crooked on the scoreboard.)

Speaking of King Charles III, I’ve been meaning to link to this:

“The design was inspired by King Charles’s love of the planet, nature, and his deep concern for the natural world,” said the former Apple design guru, who is more usually associated with sleek tech designs of equipment such as iMacs and iPods.

The logo, to be used for events over the coronation long weekend in May, features a rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock - emblems from across the United Kingdom.

It’s in contrast to the very stark design of the new King Charles stamps revealed this week, which has no crown or decoration.

It’s a lovely mark — one that should clearly stand the test of time. It would have looked good 100 years ago and should look good 100 years from now.

Disney: 1, Ron DeSantis: 0 

Remember that story a few weeks ago about Florida governor Ron DeSantis stripping Disney of its de facto control over the 27,000 acres of land encompassing Walt Disney World, as political retribution for Disney’s public opposition to Florida’s anti-gay education legislation? The New York Times reports:

Over the past two months, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has repeatedly declared victory in his yearlong effort to restrict the autonomy of Disney World, the state’s largest employer. “There’s a new sheriff in town,” he said numerous times, including at a news conference last month on Disney property, hours before appointing a new, handpicked oversight board.

Nobody seemed to have paid attention, however, to an important detail: Disney had been simultaneously maneuvering to restrict the governor’s effort. In early February — at a public meeting held by the previous, Disney-controlled oversight board — the company pushed through a development agreement that would limit the new board’s power for decades to come.

And now, the governor’s appointees, having belatedly discovered the action, are none too pleased. “It completely circumvents the authority of the board to govern,” Brian Aungst Jr., a member of the new council, said on Wednesday at the group’s second meeting. “We’re going to have to deal with it and correct it.”

The agreement is effective for perpetuity. It uses contractual language known as a “royal lives” clause: “Shall continue in effect until twenty one (21) years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England living as of the date of this declaration.” (The royal language quickly spawned numerous internet memes, striking people as odd in a matter involving a theme park that is home to Cinderella’s castle.)

The people who run Disney are pretty smart, and Ron DeSantis seems pretty dumb, so I’m not surprised at how this turned out. I don’t know what to make of this “royal lives” clause other than that it’s funny as hell.

Trump Indicted 

The New York Times:

A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Donald J. Trump on Thursday for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, according to four people with knowledge of the matter, a historic development that will shake up the 2024 presidential race and forever mark him as the nation’s first former president to face criminal charges.

The felony indictment, filed under seal by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, will likely be announced in the coming days. By then, prosecutors working for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, will have asked Mr. Trump to surrender and to face arraignment on charges that remain unknown for now. [...]

He will be fingerprinted. He will be photographed. He may even be handcuffed.

And the former president of the United States of America will be read the standard Miranda warning: He will be told that he has the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.

That’s one.

WWDC 2023: June 5–9 

As most of us expected, last year established the new template: the conference developer sessions are entirely online, but Apple is hosting an in-person “special event” at Apple Park to view the morning keynote and afternoon State of the Union. (Pro tip if you attend: wear sunscreen.)

OS Updates: iOS 16.4, MacOS 13.3, WatchOS 9.4, tvOS 16.4, and More 

I’m linking here to Michael Tsai’s roundup of links pertaining to iOS (and iPadOS) 16.4, but Apple has pretty much released updates to all of their platforms, all the way down to HomePods and the Studio Display.

Some of the features that particularly interest me:

  • Mastodon links now get unfurled preview cards in Messages, Mail, and Notes, just like Twitter links.

  • The new “architecture” for the Home app is available again, after being briefly available but then pulled due to bugs in iOS 16.2. It’s a one time upgrade for any homes you’ve set up in Home that is supposed to make everything you do faster and more reliable.

  • New emoji, but still no “chef’s kiss”. We need to band together and make a chef’s kiss emoji happen.

  • “Voice isolation” — a feature previously available to VoIP apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp — is now available for regular old fashioned cellular phone calls on iPhone. I’m not sure how normal people would ever discover this, though — the interface to turn it on or off is in Control Center, when you’re on a call. Seems to me it ought to be in the interface for the call itself in the Phone app, like the controls for switching the audio output.

Apple Pay Later Launches 

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today introduced Apple Pay Later in the U.S. Designed with users’ financial health in mind, Apple Pay Later allows users to split purchases into four payments, spread over six weeks with no interest and no fees. Users can easily track, manage, and repay their Apple Pay Later loans in one convenient location in Apple Wallet. Users can apply for Apple Pay Later loans of $50 to $1,000, which can be used for online and in-app purchases made on iPhone and iPad with merchants that accept Apple Pay. Starting today, Apple will begin inviting select users to access a prerelease version of Apple Pay Later, with plans to offer it to all eligible users in the coming months.

From the small print:

Starting today, randomly selected users will be invited to get early access to a prerelease version of Apple Pay Later via Wallet and through their Apple ID email. Apple Pay Later is available in the U.S. for online and in-app purchases on iPhone and iPad.

I’m curious how slow this initial randomized rollout is going to be, but it makes sense to open it up cautiously.

One note that I either didn’t know, or had forgotten, is that Apple Pay Later is only available for online purchases — either on the web or in iOS apps. I guess that makes sense — competing services like Affirm, Klarma, and Afterpay are only available for e-commerce transactions too (I think?). I just never before thought of online Apple Pay being different from brick-and-mortar retail Apple Pay.

As I wrote back in June, after Apple Pay Later was announced at WWDC last year: “Apple Pay Later appears to simply be in the business of allowing users to split purchases into multiple payments, interest-free, with complete privacy.” I’d say Apple’s advantages in this market are privacy, convenience, and a very well-designed interface within Wallet to manage and track your payments.

‘Apple Passwords Deserve an App’ 

Cabel Sasser:

We all know that Apple has nice built-in password management in macOS and iOS. But very, very few people know that Apple’s passwords can also:

  • Autofill any 2FA verification codes, which you easily can add by scanning QR codes!
  • Keep a “Notes” field where you can add extra data, like 2FA backup codes, for each password!
  • Import passwords exported from another app, like 1Password!

(And it all syncs across your devices, for free?!)

Very few people know these things because Apple tucks all of their important password features away in weird little Settings panels, instead of in a Proper Real App. I think this is a mistake.

Passwords are productivity, not preferences.

I understand the tension within Apple on this front. iOS already has so many apps that many people complain about how many apps are in the system, so Apple is very conservative about adding new apps. But password management is really important, and Apple’s password/security team has done an outstanding job over the years building a reliable trustworthy system. Effectively, there already is an Apple Passwords “app”, but it’s buried inside Settings. There are a lot of nerds who don’t even know that Apple’s built-in password manager can handle 2FA verification codes, because people have a totally reasonable assumption that Settings, as sprawling as it is, only contains ... settings. Not features.

So count me in with Sasser: Apple should break these features out into a discrete Passwords app, and they should launch a marketing campaign to raise awareness of it. I’ve been using the built-in password management in iOS and MacOS (and iCloud for syncing) for years, and last summer I switched all of my 2FA verification codes to it too. It’s a great system, especially if you use Safari as your web browser. But the biggest reason it isn’t used more is that zillions of people don’t even know it’s there.

If Tips is worth a standalone app, surely Passwords is too.

(As a postscript, it’s also possible that you know this feature exists within Settings, but don’t know that it offers full import and export options, because those commands are tucked away in a “···” menu. You can import from, say, 1Password, and export everything back to 1Password.)

Apple TV+ ‘Friday Night Baseball’, Season 2 

Apple Newsroom:

This season, “Friday Night Baseball” welcomes an exceptional group of broadcast talent to the announcer booths, including Wayne Randazzo (play-by-play), Dontrelle Willis (analyst), Heidi Watney (sideline reporter), Alex Faust (play-by-play), Ryan Spilborghs (analyst), and Tricia Whitaker (sideline reporter). Game assignments for announcers will be shared on a weekly basis.

That’s a completely different lineup of broadcasters from last year. But the biggest change from last year is that the games aren’t going to be made available free-of-charge — you’ll need an active TV+ subscription to watch. That’s not surprising, but it’s worth noting.

“Friday Night Baseball” will be produced by MLB Network’s Emmy Award-winning production team in partnership with Apple, bringing viewers an unparalleled viewing experience. Each game will feature state-of-the-art cameras to present vivid live-action shots, and offer immersive sound in 5.1 with Spatial Audio enabled. “Friday Night Baseball” will again utilize drone cameras for beautiful aerial stadium shots, as well as player mics and field-level mics to immerse fans in the gameplay and stadium atmosphere. Fans in the U.S. and Canada will also have the option to listen to the audio of the home and away teams’ local radio broadcasts during “Friday Night Baseball” games.

On that last point, here’s Jason Snell:

One of the biggest complaints people had last year about Friday Night Baseball — and let’s be honest, it’s a complaint about any sport with a strong local announcer base that’s then broadcast to a single national audience using a neutral set of announcers — is that people couldn’t hear the voices they knew and loved while watching the game. Apple has addressed this issue by letting users switch over to audio from home or away radio broadcasts. (This is also a feature of Apple’s MLS streaming package, though right now I believe it’s home radio only.)

Years ago I tried getting this experience manually: when the Yankees were playing on national TV, I’d turn the sound off on my TV and listen the Yankees’ radio announcers (John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman) via the MLB app on my phone. It was so tricky to get the timing just right that I gave up on it. Having it as a perfectly-synced option for Friday Night Baseball is a breakthrough feature.

Bonus factoid, via Jayson Stark at The Athletic (paywalled, but here’s an archive link just in case you need it):

The only other change this season involves games televised by MLB Network and Apple TV+. For those games, viewers will get a live look at MLB’s replay center. And if a replay decision in those games warrants more explanation, a former umpire, such as Brian Gorman or Dale Scott, will explain the verdict — while doing their best and most eloquent imitations of former NFL and college basketball official Gene Steratore.

A few years ago, at the invitation of the MLB Advanced Media team, I got to see the replay center in New York. I wasn’t allowed to go in the room, but could see inside through large windows. It’d be fun to see it during games, and it’s a great idea to have former umpires available to explain these verdicts. That’s worked out well for the NFL.

Tad Friend’s 2016 Profile of Sam Altman for The New Yorker 

I remember reading and enjoying this profile of Sam Altman that was published in The New Yorker in October 2016, but I stumbled across it again over the weekend, and read it with new eyes. When published, Altman was running Y Combinator, and the profile largely focuses on that. But OpenAI — then new and mysterious — was mentioned quite a bit, and those are the bits that struck me now:

A.I. technology hardly seems almighty yet. After Microsoft launched a chatbot, called Tay, bullying Twitter users quickly taught it to tweet such remarks as “gas the kikes race war now”; the recently released “Daddy’s Car,” the first pop song created by software, sounds like the Beatles, if the Beatles were cyborgs. But, Musk told me, “just because you don’t see killer robots marching down the street doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned.” Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana serve millions as aides-de-camp, and simultaneous-translation and self-driving technologies are now taken for granted. Y Combinator has even begun using an A.I. bot, Hal9000, to help it sift admission applications: the bot’s neural net trains itself by assessing previous applications and those companies’ outcomes. “What’s it looking for?” I asked Altman. “I have no idea,” he replied. “That’s the unsettling thing about neural networks — you have no idea what they’re doing, and they can’t tell you.”

OpenAI’s immediate goals, announced in June, include a household robot able to set and clear a table. One longer-term goal is to build a general A.I. system that can pass the Turing test — can convince people, by the way it reasons and reacts, that it is human. Yet Altman believes that a true general A.I. should do more than deceive; it should create, discovering a property of quantum physics or devising a new art form simply to gratify its own itch to know and to make. While many A.I. researchers were correcting errors by telling their systems, “That’s a dog, not a cat,” OpenAI was focussed on having its system teach itself how things work. “Like a baby does?” I asked Altman. “The thing people forget about human babies is that they take years to learn anything interesting,” he said. “If A.I. researchers were developing an algorithm and stumbled across the one for a human baby, they’d get bored watching it, decide it wasn’t working, and shut it down.”

To my mind, OpenAI’s GPT chat passes the Turing test. Artificial general intelligence is nascent, to be sure, but it’s no longer in the future. It’s the present.

Apple Watch as a Post-Steve-Jobs Product 

Two weeks ago I wrote a column in response to a Financial Times story about Apple’s forthcoming AR headset, and one objection I raised was the FT’s claim that “The headset will be Apple’s first new computing platform to have been developed entirely under his leadership. The iPhone, iPad and even Watch were all originally conceived under Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011.”

I called it a retcon to give Jobs credit for it. Here’s a piece that backs it up, a behind-the-scenes profile by Brad Stone and Adam Satariano for Bloomberg Businessweek back in September 2014, published just after Apple unveiled the Apple Watch at the keynote event for the iPhone 6:

With an Apple Watch wrapped around his hand brass-knuckle style, Ive reveals that the project was conceived in his lab three years ago, shortly after Jobs’s death and before “wearables” became a buzzword in Silicon Valley. “It’s probably one of the most difficult projects I have ever worked on,” he says. There are numerous reasons for this — the complexity of the engineering, the need for new physical interactions between the watch and the human body — but the one most pertinent to Ive is that the Apple Watch is the first Apple product that looks more like the past than the future. The company invited a series of watch historians to Cupertino to speak, including French author Dominique Fléchon, an expert in antique timepieces. Fléchon says only that the “discussion included the philosophy of instruments for measuring time” and notes that the Apple Watch may not be as timeless as some classic Swiss watches: “The evolution of the technologies will render very quickly the Apple Watch obsolete,” he says.


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Gurman: Apple Presented Headset at Top 100 Meeting 

Mark Gurman, in his Power On column at Bloomberg:

There was a momentous gathering at Apple Inc. last week, with the company’s roughly 100 highest-ranking executives descending on the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. The group, known as the Top 100, was there to see Apple’s most important new product in years: its mixed-reality headset. [...]

But this time was different. Earlier demonstrations were lower-key affairs, meant to show progress and secure the headcount needed to keep going. The latest preview took place in the Steve Jobs Theater, Apple’s biggest showcase, suggesting that a public unveiling is getting close. The executives attended the event ahead of heading to their annual offsite, held at a resort in Carmel Valley, California.

The demonstrations were polished, glitzy and exciting, but many executives are clear-eyed about Apple’s challenges pushing into this new market.

The New York Times: ‘At Apple, Rare Dissent Over a New Product: Interactive Goggles’ 

Tripp Mickle and Brian X. Chen, reporting for The New York Times:

The headset looks like ski goggles. It features a carbon fiber frame, a hip pack with battery support, outward cameras to capture the real world and two 4K displays that can render everything from applications to movies, two of the people said. Users can turn a “reality dial” on the device to increase or decrease real-time video from the world around them. [...]

Because the headset won’t fit over glasses, the company has plans to sell prescription lenses for the displays to people who don’t wear contacts, a person familiar with the plan said.

This seems like an impediment to an impulse purchase, especially in the U.S., where corrective lenses require an up-to-date prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. And won’t this make it tricky to share a headset between multiple people? If it really costs $3,000, I suppose that’s the biggest impediment to an “impulse” purchase.

During the device’s development, Apple has focused on making it excel for videoconferencing and spending time with others as avatars in a virtual world. The company has called the device’s signature application “copresence,” a word designed to capture the experience of sharing a real or virtual space with someone in another place. It is akin to what Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, calls the “metaverse.”

The chicken-and-egg problem here is that everyone you’re “copresencing” with needs an Apple headset too.

The device will double as a tool for artists, designers and engineers, tracking them as they draw freely in space in image-editing applications and tracking hand gestures for the editing of virtual reality films. Lastly, it will function as a high-resolution TV with custom-made video content from Hollywood filmmakers such as Jon Favreau, the director of Iron Man.

The key sentence in the story is this:

Some internal skeptics have questioned if the new device is a solution in search of a problem.

The RIAA v. Steve Jobs 

Paul Kafasis, writing at the Rogue Amoeba blog:

Earlier this month, however, we heard a chilling story. It comes from the Podfather himself, Adam Curry, who was instrumental in helping podcasts take off in the mid-2000s. He’s also a long-time Audio Hijack user and supporter, one who provided us with many helpful suggestions in the early years. Recently, Adam gave an interview detailing his efforts to modernize the podcasting format. Therein, he told a story about the origins of podcasts in iTunes, and a conversation he had with Steve Jobs circa 2005.

Amazing story. Curry himself added this note, on Twitter:

His actual words were “fuck them”.

Intel Co-Founder and Semiconductor Titan Gordon Moore Dies at 94 


Intel and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced today that company co-founder Gordon Moore has passed away at the age of 94.

The foundation reported he died peacefully on Friday, March 24, 2023, surrounded by family at his home in Hawaii. [...]

Pat Gelsinger, Intel CEO, said, “Gordon Moore defined the technology industry through his insight and vision. He was instrumental in revealing the power of transistors, and inspired technologists and entrepreneurs across the decades. We at Intel remain inspired by Moore’s Law and intend to pursue it until the periodic table is exhausted. Gordon’s vision lives on as our true north as we use the power of technology to improve the lives of every person on Earth. My career and much of my life took shape within the possibilities fueled by Gordon’s leadership at the helm of Intel, and I am humbled by the honor and responsibility to carry his legacy forward.”

Walden Kirsch, in a remembrance published by Intel:

Of the countless tech industry titans Silicon Valley has minted over the past six decades, Gordon Moore stood alone. He was “easily the most beloved,” wrote biographer Michael Malone.

Moore was utterly unlike Robert Noyce and Andy Grove. Those two were the bigger-than-life personalities with whom Moore joined in 1968 to create Intel — what Malone, in his now-classic book The Intel Trinity, called “the world’s most important company.”

By all accounts, Moore was neither brash nor in-your-face like Grove. Nor was he charismatic and high-energy like Noyce. The “law” that bears his name was not self-proclaimed, but popularized by a Cal Tech professor in the mid-1970s. As one measure of his modesty, Moore once confessed to biographer Leslie Berlin that he was “embarrassed to have it called Moore’s Law for a long time.”

Joe Pepitone Dies at 82 

Bruce Weber, writing last week for The New York Times:

For most of his career, Pepitone undermined his own gifts with his rambunctious and self-destructive behavior. He had money problems and marital problems. His night life began after night games; he drank with and without his teammates and was no stranger to drugs. He claimed at one point to have turned Mantle and Whitey Ford on to marijuana, and in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine in 2015, he recalled that when he was with the Cubs, fans in the bleachers would throw packets of joints and cocaine at him in the outfield, and he would hide them in the ivy that covered the stadium wall.

“Used to be I was always the first person at the ballpark, and the first one to leave; next thing you know, people are wondering why I’m hanging out at the ballpark so long,” Pepitone told Rolling Stone. When the manager, Leo Durocher, asked him what he was doing hanging around, he would say he was going to get a rubdown from the trainer.

“Then I’d be out in center field with my shorts on, looking through the ivy to find my dope,” he said. “I loved Chicago!”

Love this quote from the Mick:

“I wish I could buy you for what you’re really worth,” Mantle once said to him, according to the website, “then sell you for what you think you’re worth.”

Devin Coldewey on Amazon Killing DPReview 

Devin Coldewey, writing at TechCrunch:

The team’s knowledge, acumen and extensive objective testing contributed to reviews that famously reached near-comical lengths at times, but that was because shortcuts simply were not taken: You could be sure that even minor models were getting not just a fair shake, but the same treatment a flagship model received. Its back catalog of camera reviews and specs is an incredible resource that I have consulted hundreds of times. [...]

Somehow Amazon never really found a way to capitalize on this one-of-a-kind asset, and DPReview has carried on over the years more or less untouched, to the point where it seems possible its parent company forgot they owned them. It’s hard not to see the opportunities that present themselves when you own one of the world’s leading expert voices on a major category, but perhaps unsurprisingly, no one thought to invest in and integrate DPReview closely with Amazon’s other properties. It isn’t the first time the left hand and right hand have been incommunicado at that company.

Despite being a very longtime devotee of DPReview, as I noted yesterday, I actually never noticed (or, perhaps, long ago forgot) that Amazon had acquired them in 2007. That acquisition didn’t change the content or quality of DPReview’s coverage at all — they certainly didn’t turn into a shill, just trying to sell kit available at Amazon.

Welcome Back, Hipstamatic 

Remember Hipstamatic, the original retro filter camera app for iPhone? At its peak in 2012, photographer Ben Lowy shot the cover image for Time magazine using it. Hipstamatic never really disappeared, but it seemingly lost relevance.

Well, they’re back — recognizable, for sure, but different. New: a photo-sharing social network, ad-free, algorithm-free, and monetized only by a paid membership tier. Hipstamatic co-founder Lucas Buick, on Product Hunt:

But why bring back Hipstamatic now, after it faded from popularity over a decade ago? The answer lies in the growing dissatisfaction with the current state of social media. The recent controversies surrounding Facebook and Meta, as well as concerns over data privacy and the addictive nature of technology, have sparked a desire for something different.

Hipstamatic represents a return to the roots of mobile photography, a time before algorithms and AI ruled the day. It’s a reminder that technology can be used for fun and creativity, not just profit and engagement. The app’s member-supported community is proof that there are people out there who still value genuine connections and the simple pleasure of taking and sharing photos.

I dig it. Not sure about the fact that photos posted to Hipstamatic expire after 4 weeks, but that’s certainly different. Worth installing on your iPhone just to get that icon on your Home screen.

Update: What I love about Hipstamatic is how ambitious it is, UI-wise. Or perhaps better put, how ambitious it remains. There’s an exuberance the app wears on its proverbial shirt sleeve. It unabashedly tells you, from your first impression down to the smallest details in its settings, that it’s supposed to be fun. When people speak of Apple’s foundational iOS 7 redesign a decade ago, the primary adjective bandied about is flat. iOS 7 certainly did get flat. But in hindsight, I’d argue that the operative adjective is whimsy. iOS 1—6 were full of whimsy, iOS 7 took it all out, and the entire industry followed Apple’s lead. Everything everywhere looks like iOS 7 today: Android, MacOS, Windows, the web. Hipstamatic’s re-launch is a statement that whimsy and fun and panache have their place in UI design, and I am happy to co-sign.

Recommended: ‘‎Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman’ 

Is this a U2 special with Letterman emceeing, or a Letterman special featuring Bono and The Edge playing stripped down versions of some of U2’s best songs? Yes. It felt perfectly balanced to me. Funny but not a comedy, wonderful music but not at all a concert film. More like this, please.

(Would love to see Letterman do this with Mick and Keith, Page and Plant — or, my god, Paul and Ringo.)

Microsoft Loop : Notion :: Teams : Slack 

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

Microsoft is now letting anyone preview Microsoft Loop, a collaborative hub offering a new way of working across Office apps and managing tasks and projects. Much like Notion, Microsoft Loop includes workspaces and pages where you can import and organize tasks, projects, and documents. But what sets the two apart is Loop’s shareable components that let you turn any page into a real-time block of content that can be pasted into Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Word on the web, and Whiteboard.

Loop components are constantly updated and editable for whoever they’re shared with. Imagine a table that you’re working on with colleagues; you can drop that as a Loop component into a Teams message or Outlook email, and any edits to the table will be reflected wherever it’s embedded or shared.

For some reason I’m having flashbacks to a college internship, when I had to read the spec for OpenDoc. It was like a phone book in size but less readable.

Microsoft Loop is designed with collaboration and co-creation in mind. The main interface looks a lot like Notion, a workspace app that is used by Adobe, Figma, Amazon, and many other businesses.

Is Loop a Notion rip-off, or simply in the same space? As ever with Microsoft, they are unafraid to copy. Teams doesn’t just do similar things as Slack — it looks like Slack. Likewise, Loop looks like Notion. I’m not a Notion user so I’m not super-familiar with it, but Loop feels very similar. Loop has the same “::” grippy indicator for dragging components on a page up and down to reorder them, and more tellingly, the same “just type /” slash key trigger for shortcuts. But Slack uses slash the same way and Microsoft copied Slack years ago with Teams.

Notion makes it easy to share a page as a public website (Hipstamatic’s relaunch press release that I linked to an hour ago is on Notion); Loop doesn’t seem to have that feature. Both Notion and Loop are only available on the web on the Mac, but both do work in Safari. [Update: Whoops, wrong, Notion does offer desktop apps for Mac and Windows from their website, but it’s an, err, notional “app” at best — really just an Electron wrapper around their web app. Still, though, we regret the error.] Microsoft’s ChatGPT-powered Bing chat not only doesn’t work in Safari, it requires the bleeding-edge “dev” builds of Edge. [Correction: Bing Chat does work in Safari, but you need to set the user agent string to Edge in Safari’s Develop menu.] Notion has mobile apps for iOS and Android, and Microsoft does too, albeit in beta. Notion’s AI assistant, curiously enough, is more advanced. (Microsoft’s Copilot is coming to Loop, but seemingly isn’t available there for me yet.) I asked Notion’s AI “What are the differences between Notion and Microsoft Loop?” and got a reasonable answer — impressive considering that Loop was only announced today.

If you create software that gains traction in work environments, it’s inevitable that Microsoft is going to follow.

Amazon Layoffs Will Shut Down Camera Review Site DPReview After 25 Years 

Andrew Cunningham, reporting for Ars Technica:

Amazon has plans to lay off at least 27,000 workers this year, including 9,000 that were announced in an internal email Monday morning. One unexpected casualty: Digital Photography Review, also known as DPReview, is losing its entire editorial staff, and the site will stop publishing on April 10.

The announcement post, written by DPReview General Manager Scott Everett, says that new pieces will continue to be posted through April 10, and “the site will be locked” afterward. It’s unclear what will happen to the site’s content afterward — the post promises only that the site’s articles “will be available in read-only mode for a limited period afterwards.” [...]

Founded in November 1998, DPReview is one of the few active review sites as old as Ars Technica. Amazon purchased it in 2007, and the site’s team has been located in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle since 2010.

The “DP” in “DPReview” stands for “digital photography”. The site is so old that that was necessary, because in 1998 most pro and prosumer photography equipment still revolved around shooting on film. DPReview went all-in on digital photography at a time when many photographers were deeply skeptical of its potential, because the technology was nascent. I’ve bought a fair amount of photography kit over the last 25 years, and never once bought a camera or lens without first reading and watching what DPReview had to say about it. I just bought my first new standalone camera in years a few weeks ago — the Ricoh GR IIIx — and DPReview’s review was the one that sealed the deal for me.

Layoffs are brutal, always, but it feels especially cruel that Amazon is noncommittal regarding keeping DPReview’s content around in perpetuity. Why only keep it available “for a limited time”? How much could it cost to just keep it around forever? Did they even try to sell it? How about letting the staff take over the site as part of their severance?

Widgetsmith Hits 100 Million Frigging Downloads 

“Underscore” David Smith:

Widgetsmith has just achieved a remarkable milestone, surpassing 100 million downloads since its launch in September 2020. A number that I can’t really wrap my mind around. A number larger than the population of all but 14 countries (🤯).

I was very conflicted about whether I should share and observe this milestone publicly. I am by nature a very shy, quiet person and not one to seek the spotlight.

Ultimately I decided to share this milestone for two reasons: Gratitude and Community.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, truly. Widgetsmith is proof that you just never know when something is going to really resonate and take off. Smith is a very talented developer (and designer) with a bunch of successful apps, but Widgetsmith in particular is a genuine sensation. Just like Smith, 100 million downloads is a number I can’t even get my head around.

‘aCropalypse’: Android and Windows Bugs Allow Cropped-Out Content From Screenshots to Be Recovered 

Simon Aarons:

Introducing acropalypse: a serious privacy vulnerability in the Google Pixel’s inbuilt screenshot editing tool, Markup, enabling partial recovery of the original, unedited image data of a cropped and/or redacted screenshot. Huge thanks to @David3141593 for his help throughout!

David Buchanan:

The bug lies in closed-source Google-proprietary code so it’s a bit hard to inspect, but after some patch-diffing I concluded that the root cause was due to this horrible bit of API “design”:

Google was passing "w" to a call to parseMode(), when they should’ve been passing "wt" (the t stands for truncation). This is an easy mistake, since similar APIs (like POSIX fopen) will truncate by default when you simply pass "w". Not only that, but previous Android releases had parseMode("w") truncate by default too! This change wasn’t even documented until some time after the aforementioned bug report was made.

The end result is that the image file is opened without the O_TRUNC flag, so that when the cropped image is written, the original image is not truncated. If the new image file is smaller, the end of the original is left behind.

I ran a few cropped screenshots from my Pixel 4 running Android 13 through their proof-of-concept tool, and some of them revealed quite a bit of cropped-out content.

And it’s not just Android: Buchanan today discovered that Windows 11 and 10 have a similar bug.

Solid State Volume Buttons and Mute Switch on iPhone 15 Pro Models 

Chance Miller, writing for 9to5Mac:

Earlier this month, 9to5Mac exclusively reported that the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro will have new unified volume buttons and a new “pressing type” mute button. Now, freshly-leaked CAD files have corroborated our report and offered a closer look at the new design.

This year’s phones will adopt new solid-state buttons with haptic feedback, similar to the Home button introduced with iPhone 7. This means that the buttons will no longer have moving parts and will identify the pressure level to work.

I trust Apple on this, because they absolutely nailed it with the iPhone 7 home button. That button was better than the buttons that actually clicked. Same thing for Apple’s modern trackpads — their simulated haptics clicks are better than the old trackpads that actually clicked. But I’m damn curious about two things:

  • How will the mute switch work? It’s a real benefit that you can discern the current state of the mute switch by feel alone, while the iPhone remains in your pocket or purse. (And lo these many years later, I still remain baffled that among all the umpteen design elements that Android phones have copied from iPhones, no popular or even semi-popular Android phones have ever had hardware mute switches. Not even Nothing, whose first phone unapologetically apes the iPhone frame.)

  • How will these haptic buttons work with cases? And gloves? Is pressure sensitivity enough? Or will iPhone 15 cases need to have pass-through capacitive buttons?


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

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

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

Tim Urban on ‘Social Authoritarianism’ 

Tim Urban, on Twitter:

We can illustrate this by comparing how people react to an upcoming talk by a speaker they disagree with. High-rung thinkers find a lot of value in having their beliefs challenged. Low-rung thinkers, not so much. But only the idea supremacist tries to cancel the event.

Low-rung thinkers may not be great at learning, but as long as they don’t prevent others from learning, it’s fine. Even the social bully is fine — they only hurt people who choose to be their friend.

But idea supremacy is a direct affront to the workings of a liberal society.

A short thread, but a good one. If you refuse to listen to people you disagree with, let alone try to prevent them from even speaking, how do you even know you disagree with them? Perhaps because I was young at the time, I often think back to Bob Dole’s “nightmares of depravity” broadside against popular movies and music in 1995, when he began his campaign for president:

Natural Born Killers, the story of a couple on a killing spree as they cross the country, was one example of films and recordings cited by Mr. Dole as “nightmares of depravity” for their depictions of gratuitous sex and violence. He also attacked the film True Romance and the rap groups Cannibal Corpse, Geto Boys and 2 Live Crew. Aides to Mr. Dole said he had not seen the movies he cited but had read about them and had also read offending rap lyrics.

The thing that got me then and still gets me now is that Dole had not seen the movies. Railing against a movie you haven’t seen is more offensive to me than the actual contents of any movie could be.

Anyway, Urban’s Twitter thread is promoting his new book, What’s Our Problem: A Self-Help Book for Societies, which is at the top of my reading pile.

Apple’s ‘Hello Yellow’ TV Commercial 

Speaking of TV commercials for camera phones, Apple’s new 30-second spot for the iPhone 14’s new yellow color features a protagonist who does nothing with his iPhone other than use it as a camera.

Samsung Responds, Hand-Wavingly, to Fake Moon Photos Controversy 

Jon Porter, The Verge:

Samsung has published an English-language blog post explaining the techniques used by its phones to photograph the Moon. The post’s content isn’t exactly new — it appears to be a lightly edited translation of an article posted in Korean last year — and doesn’t offer much new detail on the process. But, because it’s an official translation, we can more closely scrutinize its explanation of what Samsung’s image processing technology is doing.

There’ve been a couple of follow-ups on this since I wrote about it a few weeks ago. Marques Brownlee posted a short video, leaning into the existential question of the computation photography era: “What is a photo?” Input’s Ray Wong took umbrage at my having said he’d been “taken” by Samsung’s moon photography hype in this Twitter thread.

Here’s a clarifying way of thinking about it. What Samsung is doing with photographs of the moon is fine as a photo editing feature. It is not, however, a camera feature. With computational photography there is no clear delineation between what’s part of the camera imaging pipeline and what’s a post-capture editing feature. There’s a gray zone, to be sure. But this moon shot feature is not in that gray zone. It’s post-capture photo editing, even if it happens automatically — closer to Photoshop than to photography.

Where I draw the line is whether the software is clarifying reality as captured by the camera or not. Is the software improving/upscaling the input, or substituting the input with imagery that doesn’t originate from the camera? Here’s a snippet of a debate on Twitter, from Sebastiaan de With (at the helm of the Halide camera app account):

One can argue “Well, it’s the moon, it’s always the same” — and perhaps that’s true, but the issue is with photographic accuracy. In-fill should be informed by underlying input data and shape the output image; you can argue output shouldn’t reshape the input this significantly.

And that’s my point. What if the moon weren’t the same? What if it gets hit by a large meteor, creating a massive new visible-from-earth crater? Or what if our humble friend Phony Stark blows tens of billions of dollars erecting a giant billboard on the surface of the moon, visible from earth, that reads “@elonmusk”? A photo of the moon taken with one of these Samsung phones wouldn’t show either of those things, yet would appear to capture a detailed image of the moon’s surface. A camera should capture the moon as it is now, and computational photography should help improve the detail of that image of the moon as it appears now. Samsung’s phones are rendering the moon as it was, at some point in the past when this ML model was trained.

And that’s where Samsung steps over the line into fraud. Samsung, in its advertisements, is clearly billing these moon shots as an amazing feature enabled by its 10× optical / 100× digital zoom telephoto camera lens. They literally present it as optically superior to a telescope. That’s bullshit. A telescope shows you the moon as it is. Samsung’s cameras do not.

‘Hating Everyone Everywhere All at Once at Stanford’ 

Ken White, writing at The Popehat Report:

Associate Dean Steinbach and her ilk are campaigning to undermine free speech legal and social norms, striving to make someone’s subjective reaction to speech an unquestionable justification for suppressing it. Academic freedom is under state assault and she’s busily undermining it and telling students they have a right to shut people up.

Stanford, and schools like it, are shitting the bed over controversial speakers. Decide that students can shut down speeches they don’t like, if you want to take that path. If not, protect speakers from disruption and have the students escorted out if they shut down a speech. Don’t half-ass it and then apologize afterwards.

And students. Students think that they should be able to dictate which speakers their peers invite, who can speak, what they can say, and who can listen. They’re not satisfied with the most free-speech-exceptionalist system in the world that lets them respond to speech by assembling, protesting, and reviling people of authority like Judge Duncan. They demand the right not just to speak, but to control the speech of others. That’s straight-up thuggish, an aspiration born of a fascist soul. These are law students. They are training to express themselves for a living. If their view is “we can’t respond to awful speech, we can only stop it from happening,” then they’re going to be terrible lawyers.

I wish this historical gallery of hardware from Sony were 10 times larger. I just love their older stuff. Gun to my head, I think I’d choose Sony’s ’60s/’70s aesthetic over Braun’s. And how have I never before heard of Sony’s HB-101 “HITBIT MEZZO” personal computer? Gorgeous.

(Via Tim Van Damme.)

Meanwhile, Over in Chromebook Land 

Monica Chin, continuing to do yeoman’s work reviewing crummy laptops for The Verge:

The only time I heard fan noise was when I was trying to stream a Spotify playlist overtop the aforementioned load while running an external display. The keyboard was often warm, and the keys in the center occasionally toed the “uncomfortable” line, but nothing caught fire.

But the biggest problem I had was with battery life. Two and a half hours. That’s how long this device lasted me to a charge on average, running the workload I described above at medium brightness. I certainly got longer than this in some trials, especially those that were lighter on the Android apps, but I am fairly confident that, if this were my personal device, I would need to charge it two, maybe three times per day.

Runs hot and gets just 2.5 hours of battery life for $999. Who is buying these things?

Microsoft Introduces 365 Copilot, Their AI Chat Integration for Office 

Jared Spataro, “corporate vice president, modern work & business applications”,* on the Microsoft blog:

Copilot is integrated into Microsoft 365 in two ways. It works alongside you, embedded in the Microsoft 365 apps you use every day — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams and more — to unleash creativity, unlock productivity and uplevel skills. Today we’re also announcing an entirely new experience: Business Chat. Business Chat works across the LLM, the Microsoft 365 apps, and your data — your calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings and contacts — to do things you’ve never been able to do before. You can give it natural language prompts like “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy,” and it will generate a status update based on the morning’s meetings, emails and chat threads.

With Copilot, you’re always in control. You decide what to keep, modify or discard. Now, you can be more creative in Word, more analytical in Excel, more expressive in PowerPoint, more productive in Outlook and more collaborative in Teams.

Hard to predict how these AI-powered features are going to play out, but it feels like they’re soon going to be table stakes. An accurate, concise, automatically generated summary of a meeting you missed — that feels undeniably useful.

* What a mouthful of a job title. Why not just “vice president, business applications”? “Corporate” seems unnecessary, and “modern” even more so. Is there a VP for out-of-date business applications too? Someone who’s still in charge of updating the DOS versions of Word and Excel?

WSJ: ‘U.S. Threatens Ban if TikTok’s Chinese Owners Don’t Sell Stakes’ 

John D. McKinnon, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

The Biden administration is demanding that TikTok’s Chinese owners sell their stakes in the video-sharing app or face a possible U.S. ban of the app, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move represents a major shift in policy on the part of the administration, which has been under fire from some Republicans who say it hasn’t taken a tough enough stance to address the perceived security threat from TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius — a multiagency federal task force that oversees national security risks in cross-border investments — made the sale demand recently, the people said.

Trump was against TikTok too, but didn’t get this done. (And he tried, corruptly, to work a deal to hand TikTok over to Larry Ellison.) Banning TikTok or forcing the CCP to sell it makes sense both on national security grounds and as tit-for-tat trade policy. China effectively imposes an infinite tariff on U.S. social networks — none of them are available there. The U.S., to date, has imposed a 0 percent tariff on TikTok.

‘The Apple II Age’ 

Upcoming new book by Laine Nooney:

Skip the iPhone, the iPod, and the Macintosh. If you want to understand how Apple Inc. became an industry behemoth, look no further than the 1977 Apple II. Designed by the brilliant engineer Steve Wozniak and hustled into the marketplace by his Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, the Apple II became one of the most prominent personal computers of this dawning industry.

The Apple II was a versatile piece of hardware, but its most compelling story isn’t found in the feat of its engineering, the personalities of Apple’s founders, or the way it set the stage for the company’s multi-billion-dollar future. Instead, as historian Laine Nooney shows, what made the Apple II iconic was its software. In software, we discover the material reasons people bought computers. Not to hack, but to play. Not to code, but to calculate. Not to program, but to print. The story of personal computing in the United States is not about the evolution of hackers — it’s about the rise of everyday users.

Did I preorder a copy immediately? Come on, you know the answer.

Colorado Catholic Group Bought App Data That Tracked Gay Priests 

Michelle Boorstein and Heather Kelly, reporting for The Washington Post:

A group of conservative Colorado Catholics has spent millions of dollars to buy mobile app tracking data that identified priests who used gay dating and hookup apps and then shared it with bishops around the country. [...]

One report prepared for bishops says the group’s sources are data brokers who got the information from ad exchanges, which are sites where ads are bought and sold in real time, like a stock market. The group cross-referenced location data from the apps and other details with locations of church residences, workplaces and seminaries to find clergy who were allegedly active on the apps, according to one of the reports and also the audiotape of the group’s president.

Sherman said police departments have bought data about citizens instead of seeking a warrant, domestic abusers have accessed data about their victims, and antiabortion activists have used data to target people who visit clinics.

But Bennett Cyphers, a special adviser to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization, said the Burrill story was the first time he had heard of a private group buying commercial data and using it against a specific individual.

Makes me wonder how often this technique is being used to blackmail people. This group was targeting gay priests to out them; they could have just as easily blackmailed them.

OpenAI’s GPT-4 Teaser Video 

A tangential detail regarding this 3-minute video: despite including people from Microsoft talking about their partnership with OpenAI, of the dozens of laptops shown, all of them are MacBooks.

Facebook to Lay Off 10,000 More Employees 

Mark Zuckerberg, in a company-wide memo:

Here’s the timeline you should expect: over the next couple of months, org leaders will announce restructuring plans focused on flattening our orgs, canceling lower priority projects, and reducing our hiring rates. With less hiring, I’ve made the difficult decision to further reduce the size of our recruiting team. We will let recruiting team members know tomorrow whether they’re impacted. We expect to announce restructurings and layoffs in our tech groups in late April, and then our business groups in late May. In a small number of cases, it may take through the end of the year to complete these changes. Our timelines for international teams will also look different, and local leaders will follow up with more details. Overall, we expect to reduce our team size by around 10,000 people and to close around 5,000 additional open roles that we haven’t yet hired.

Keep in mind that Facebook’s headcount increased 2.4× (from 36K to 87K) between 2018 and 2022.

Leaner is better

Since we reduced our workforce last year, one surprising result is that many things have gone faster. In retrospect, I underestimated the indirect costs of lower priority projects.

It seems like someone should have bought Zuckerberg a copy of Fred Brooks’s The Mythical Man Month a few years ago.

‘BlackBerry’ Trailer 

Not a documentary, but a fictionalized telling of the rise and fall of BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion. Sort of like Titanic, we know how it ends, but sometimes knowing the ending makes for a more compelling story. (Glenn Howerton as Jim Balsillie is unrecognizable.)

FTC Finalizes Order Requiring Epic Games to Pay $245 Million for Tricking Users Into Making Unwanted Charges 

The Federal Trade Commission:

The Federal Trade Commission has finalized an order requiring Epic Games, the maker of the Fortnite video game, to pay $245 million to consumers to settle charges that the company used dark patterns to trick players into making unwanted purchases and let children rack up unauthorized charges without any parental involvement.

In a complaint announced in December as part of a settlement package with Epic, the FTC said that Epic deployed a variety of design tricks known as dark patterns aimed at getting consumers of all ages to make unintended in-game purchases. Fortnite’s counterintuitive, inconsistent, and confusing button configuration led players to incur unwanted charges based on the press of a single button. The company also made it easy for children to make purchases while playing Fortnite without requiring any parental consent. According to the FTC’s complaint, Epic also locked the accounts of customers who disputed unauthorized charges with their credit card companies.

Sure would be great if Apple were forced to allow these guys to run an entire app store for iOS.

Petey: ChatGPT App for Apple Watch 

Briefly known as “WatchGPT” but now renamed to Petey (because the App Store is cracking down on apps with “GPT” in their names, as it’s a registered trademark of OpenAI), this is a simple, super easy-to-use ChatGPT app for Apple Watch by Hidde van der Ploeg. I’ve been using it for a week or so and it’s occasionally been genuinely handy, especially if you keep it on an easily-accessed watch face complication. With other devices, you can just search the web for answers to questions. Oftentimes, when you ask a question to Siri, you get redirected to a web search. But if all you have handy at the moment is your watch, a web search is useless. Petey gives good answers to a lot of questions. I dig the simple aesthetic too — using SF Mono for the type gives the app an appropriately robotic feel.

$5 one-time purchase in the App Store. Worth it. (Privacy policy: “The developer does not collect any data from this app.”)

Noam Chomsky: ‘The False Promise of ChatGPT’ 

Noam Chomsky, Ian Roberts, and Jeffrey Watumull, in an essay for The New York Times:

It is at once comic and tragic, as Borges might have noted, that so much money and attention should be concentrated on so little a thing — something so trivial when contrasted with the human mind, which by dint of language, in the words of Wilhelm von Humboldt, can make “infinite use of finite means,” creating ideas and theories with universal reach.

The human mind is not, like ChatGPT and its ilk, a lumbering statistical engine for pattern matching, gorging on hundreds of terabytes of data and extrapolating the most likely conversational response or most probable answer to a scientific question. On the contrary, the human mind is a surprisingly efficient and even elegant system that operates with small amounts of information; it seeks not to infer brute correlations among data points but to create explanations. Is 25 Years Old Today and Jason Wrote About It 

Jason Kottke:

My love for the web has ebbed and flowed in the years since, but mainly it’s persisted — so much so that as of today, I’ve been writing for 25 years. A little context for just how long that is: is older than Google. 25 years is more than half of my life , spanning four decades (the 90s, 00s, 10s, and 20s) and around 40,000 posts — almost cartoonishly long for a medium optimized for impermanence. What follows is my (relatively brief) attempt to explain where came from and why it’s still going.

A thought that occurred to me when Jason was on my podcast this month (you should listen! — it’s one of my favorite episodes ever): at 25, is over one-quarter as old as The New Yorker magazine, which was founded in 1925. I’ve grown up thinking The New Yorker had been around “forever”. That makes ... one-quarter of “forever” old? My mind boggles.

Congratulations, my friend. Here’s to 25 more.

Meanwhile, Over in PC Laptop Land 

Monica Chin, reviewing a $2,000 configuration of the Dell Latitude 7330:

For one, I only averaged three hours and 35 minutes of battery life, which would be a big problem even if everything else about this device was incredible. But even while on power, I could feel the thing chugging toward the higher end of my workload. For example, while I was operating a second screen over Thunderbolt, loading some files from external drives, running a few downloads, and trying to work over that in 20-ish Chrome tabs, the Latitude had visible slowdown. I don’t see this as an unrealistic office workload, so that’s concerning.

A $2,000 laptop that gets under 4 hours of battery life and slows down under nominal use. Jiminy.

Facebook on NFTs: Never Mind 

Molly White:

In a Twitter thread, Meta (formerly Facebook) Head of Commerce and Fintech Stephane Kasriel announced that they would be “down digital collectibles (NFTs) for now to focus on other ways to support creators, people, and businesses”. Meta had only launched its support for NFTs in Facebook and Instagram partway through last year — a bit late to the NFT craze, which had largely cooled by that point.

Mark Zuckerberg had once talked about eventually using NFTs for Meta’s metaverse projects, suggesting that eventually “the clothing that your avatar is wearing in the metaverse, you know, [could] be basically minted as an NFT and you can take it between your different places”. It sounds like that plan may no longer be on the table now.

David Zaslav Might Be Stupid 

Sharon Knolle and Scott Mendelson, reporting for TheWrap:

Warner Bros. Discovery is pushing forward with a plan to drop “HBO” from the name of its flagship streaming service HBO Max. That decision for the long-planned rebranding of the combined HBO Max and Discovery+ services was partially informed by the company’s belief that “the HBO name turns off many potential subscribers,” Bloomberg reported on Thursday and TheWrap independently confirmed.

The name change is meant to signal that the service will not just be HBO Max with Discovery content, nor will HBO Max be ported over to Discovery+. “Max” is the leading contender, though Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said on a recent earnings call that the new name would be officially unveiled April 12. [...]

When HBO became an award-winning juggernaut in the ’90s with “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos,” the catchphrase used in its marketing was, “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” A new motto could well be: “It’s not HBO. It’s Max.”

Changing the name of the streaming service to just “Max” has been rumored for months, and it sounds just as stupid now as it did then.

‘Can You Believe We Have to Talk About This Shit Again?’ 

David Dayen, writing for The American Prospect:

The first words out of the mouth of Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) when I talked to her on Sunday were: “Can you believe we have to talk about this shit again?” She was referring to a conversation we had in 2018, when she was still just a financial expert and a candidate for Congress, about S.2155, which I call the Crapo bill, a reference to its co-author (Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo) and its underlying contents. [...]

The most important part of the Crapo bill was Section 401, which increased by fivefold the threshold for enhanced regulatory standards, from $50 billion in assets to $250 billion. Silicon Valley Bank’s CEO, Greg Becker, lobbied explicitly for this change. It meant that banks under $250 billion would not be subject to additional stress tests and heightened capital and liquidity requirements. SVB topped out around $200 billion, after growing rapidly in the past few years. [...]

So you have depositors that either didn’t know the first thing about risk management, or were bribed by the bank into neglecting it. And you have a bank that didn’t have a chief risk officer for close to a year, that put their entire risk management on autopilot and got blindsided by interest rate–fueled losses. “Interest rates do two things, they go up and down. SVB did not foresee and manage properly that inevitable thing,” Porter said.

U.S. Treasury: All Silicon Valley Bank Depositors Will Have Access to All of Their Money Starting Tomorrow 

The Department of the Treasury:

The following statement was released by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen, Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome H. Powell, and FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg:

Today we are taking decisive actions to protect the U.S. economy by strengthening public confidence in our banking system. This step will ensure that the U.S. banking system continues to perform its vital roles of protecting deposits and providing access to credit to households and businesses in a manner that promotes strong and sustainable economic growth.

After receiving a recommendation from the boards of the FDIC and the Federal Reserve, and consulting with the President, Secretary Yellen approved actions enabling the FDIC to complete its resolution of Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, California, in a manner that fully protects all depositors. Depositors will have access to all of their money starting Monday, March 13. No losses associated with the resolution of Silicon Valley Bank will be borne by the taxpayer.

Taxpayers aren’t on the hook because SVB has assets greater than its deposits — they simply don’t have liquid assets to cover them. Sanity prevails. They say there are no atheists in a foxhole, but there are more of them than there are libertarians in a bank run. Thank jeebus we have a sane president.


My thanks to Kolide for sponsoring last week at DF. Right now, “Zero Trust” is in serious danger of becoming an empty buzzword. The problem isn’t just that marketers have slapped the Zero Trust label on everything short of breakfast cereal — it’s that for all the hype, we don’t seem to be getting any safer.

At the heart of Zero Trust is a good idea, but the way most companies execute that idea is incomplete. Specifically, most security practitioners forget that device compliance is a crucial element of Zero Trust. Kolide solves the device compliance element of Zero Trust for companies that use Okta. Kolide’s premise is simple: if an employee’s device is out of compliance, they can’t log in to their cloud apps until they’ve fixed the problem. And instead of creating more work for IT, Kolide provides instructions so users can get unblocked on their own.

Kolide works across your Mac, Windows, and even Linux devices, with mobile support coming soon. To learn more and see their product in action, simply visit their website.

The Talk Show: ‘Fine Hypertext Products’ 

Jason Kottke returns to the show to celebrate the 25th anniversary of

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Not From The Onion, I Swear: the WWE Is Trying to Legalize Betting on Pro Wrestling 

Alex Sherman, reporting for CNBC:

WWE is in talks with state gambling regulators to legalize betting on high-profile matches, according to people familiar with the matter.

WWE is working with the accounting firm EY to secure scripted match results in hopes it will convince regulators there’s no chance of results leaking to the public, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Accounting firms PwC and EY, also known as Ernst & Young, have historically worked with award shows, including the Academy Awards and the Emmys, to keep results a secret.

Betting on the Academy Awards is already legal and available through some sports betting applications, including market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings, although most states don’t allow it. WWE executives have cited Oscars betting as a template to convince regulators gambling on scripted matches is safe, the people said.

The idea that any state might legalize betting on pro wrestling reminds me of this great bit from Vegas Vacation. Clark Griswold, down on his luck and down to his last few dollars, starts playing sketchy games in a sketchy casino — “Coin Toss”, “Rock Paper Scissors”, etc. He loses the last of his money at “Pick a Number” — you guess a number between 1 and 10, then the “dealer” tells you whether it’s the same number they were thinking of. I don’t see how betting on pro wrestling would be any different.

(Via Matt Levine, who quipped, “Oh man, I am so excited to write about this insider trading case in like a year.”)

Marc Rubinstein: ‘The Demise of Silicon Valley Bank’ 

The best explanation of what happened to Silicon Valley Bank is this piece by Marc Rubinstein at Net Interest:

“When you’re not working, what do you do to de-stress?”

That was the last question Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, fielded at an investor conference on Tuesday this week.

“Cycling is my advice,” he replied. “Living in Northern California and being on the peninsula. That’s just — I think it’s the best bike-riding cycling in the world, period.”

Three days later, Becker’s bank is in receivership.

Now that’s a lede.

Rubinstein links to this piece at another Substack site, Nongaap Investing, which points to a boy-that-sure-looks-bad-in-hindsight oddity in SVB’s corporate governance: the bank did not have a Chief Risk Officer for most of 2022:

In particular, the most interesting disclosure is the company didn’t have a Chief Risk Officer for much of 2022, and (from what I can gather) doesn’t explicitly communicate this to shareholders until the 2023 Preliminary Proxy is filed on March 8, 2023.

This non-disclosure immediately makes me wonder what caused former Chief Risk Officer Laura Izurieta to leave the role and create such a glaring hole in risk oversight during such a critical time. [...]

Given that Ms. Izurieta sold $4 million worth of shares in December 2021 just before the company would approach her to begin discussions regarding her transition out of the Chief Risk Officer role, I can’t help but wonder if she realized the bank’s balance sheet was a ticking time bomb when she sold the stock.

The optics look pretty bad.

Pretty bad indeed.

Matt Levine on SVB: ‘Startup Bank Had a Startup Bank Run’ 

Matt Levine, unsurprisingly, wrote a great column on Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse. He predicts the FDIC will succeed in finding a bigger buyer to buy SVB and make all depositors whole — both because SVB should still be worth enough to buy at such a price, and because otherwise, the results could be catastrophic industry-wide:

I would also guess — not investing or banking advice! — that the answer will also turn out to be higher than $188 billion, which is the total amount of deposits plus FHLB advances. I say this not because I have done a detailed analysis of SVB’s assets but because it seems bad for the FDIC to wind up a big high-profile bank in a way that causes significant losses for depositors, including uninsured depositors. There was a run on SVB in part because there hasn’t been a big bank run in a while, and people — venture capitalists, startups — were naturally worried that they might lose their deposits if their bank failed. Then the bank failed.

If it turns out to be true that they lose their deposits, there could be more bank runs: Lots of businesses keep uninsured deposits at lots of banks, and if the moral of SVB is “your uninsured transaction-banking deposits can vanish overnight” then those businesses will do a lot more credit analysis, move their money out of weaker banks, and put it at, like, JPMorgan. This could be self-fulfillingly bad for a lot of weaker banks. My assumption is that the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, and the banks who are looking at buying SVB all really don’t want that. If you are a bank looking at buying SVB, and you do a detailed analysis of its assets and conclude that they are worth $180 billion, and you come to the FDIC and say “I will take over this bank and pay the uninsured depositors 95 cents on the dollar,” the FDIC is going to look at you and say “don’t you mean 100 cents on the dollar,” and you are going to say “oh right yes of course, silly me, 100 cents on the dollar.”

Maybe I’m wrong about that, but if I am it’ll be bad!

The Financial Times, Two Weeks Ago: ‘Silicon Valley Bank Profit Squeeze in Tech Downturn Attracts Short Sellers’ 

The Financial Times had Silicon Valley Bank’s problem nailed, two weeks ago (non-paywalled mirror of the story at Financial Post):

Silicon Valley Bank, the Californian institution central to financing U.S. startups, is facing scrutiny over an investment decision made at the peak of the tech boom that is squeezing its profitability just as the industry faces its worst downturn in decades. [...]

But some analysts, shareholders and short sellers point to another problem of its making: a move to put US$91 billion of its assets into a poorly performing bond portfolio that has since amassed an unrealized US$15 billion loss. [...]

While interest rates were low, several big banks parked more deposits into government debt accepting the lower rate of return during a time of economic uncertainty However, SVB’s relative exposure far exceeds its peers. It had US$120 billion of investment securities — which include its US$91 billion mortgage-backed securities portfolio — at the end of 2022, far exceeding its US$74 billion total loans.

By comparison, Bank of America had US$863 billion of debt securities, including US$633 billion of held-to-maturity assets, less than its approximate US$1 trillion of loans and leases. San Francisco-based First Republic, SVB’s closest rival in Silicon Valley, had US$55 billion in investment securities including US$28 billion of held-to-maturity debt securities, compared to US$167 billion in total loans.

Remarkably prescient reporting.

Reddit Post Seemingly Proves That Samsung’s Galaxy S-Series ‘Moon Photos’ Are Fake, and They’ve Been Blatantly Lying About Them 

“ibreakphotos”, on Reddit:

Many of us have witnessed the breathtaking moon photos taken with the latest zoom lenses, starting with the S20 Ultra. Nevertheless, I’ve always had doubts about their authenticity, as they appear almost too perfect. While these images are not necessarily outright fabrications, neither are they entirely genuine. Let me explain.

There have been many threads on this, and many people believe that the moon photos are real (Input) — even MKBHD has claimed in this popular YouTube short that the moon is not an overlay, like Huawei has been accused of in the past. But he’s not correct. So, while many have tried to prove that Samsung fakes the moon shots, I think nobody succeeded — until now.

Here’s how he proved Samsung’s moon photos are a scam: he started with a high-res photo of the moon, downsized it to just 170⁠ ⁠×⁠ ⁠170 pixels, and applied a gaussian blur. He then displayed that image, upscaled, on his computer monitor and used a Galaxy S-series phone (he doesn’t say which model) to take a picture of that blurry circle on his display. The phone turned that image into this.

Have to say I’m surprised both Raymond Wong and Marques Brownlee were taken in by this. These “amazing” moon photos seem impossible optically, and, more tellingly, no one is able to get these Samsung phones to capture similarly “amazing” 100× zoom images of random objects that aren’t the moon.

Anything Samsung ever claims that seems too good to be true should be assumed to be a blatant lie. They’re a corrupt company with a corrupt culture.

Roku Had $487 Million in Silicon Valley Bank 

Ross A. Lincoln, reporting for The Wrap:

In financial documents filed Friday, Roku disclosed that it had approximately $487 million held by Silicon Valley Bank, the Northern California financial powerhouse that failed this week, sending shockwaves throughout the region’s economy.

That number, Roku says, represents approximately 26% of its cash and cash equivalents, and the company will be able meet its pending financial obligations for at least “the next 12 months and beyond.”

From Roku’s filing, linked above:

The Company’s deposits with SVB are largely uninsured. At this time, the Company does not know to what extent the Company will be able to recover its cash on deposit at SVB.

The Best Yellow Computer Ever 

Perhaps the new yellow iPhone 14 will someday take the crown, but I doubt it. The Banana Jr. 6000 was just too good.

Silicon Valley Bank Is Shut Down by Regulators in Biggest Bank Failure Since Global Financial Crisis 


Financial regulators have closed Silicon Valley Bank and taken control of its deposits, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced Friday, in what is the largest U.S. bank failure since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.

The collapse of SVB, a key player in the tech and venture capital community, leaves companies and wealthy individuals largely unsure of what will happen to their money. [...]

The FDIC’s standard insurance covers up to $250,000 per depositor, per bank, for each account ownership category. The FDIC said uninsured depositors will get receivership certificates for their balances. The regulator said it will pay uninsured depositors an advanced dividend within the next week, with potential additional dividend payments as the regulator sells SVB’s assets.

Whether depositors with more than $250,000 ultimately get all their money back will be determined by the amount of money the regulator gets as it sells Silicon Valley assets or if another bank takes ownership of the remaining assets. There were concerns in the tech community that until that process unfolds, some companies may have issues making payroll.

To say this is shocking is an understatement. This just shouldn’t happen to a bank. To make a long story short (and to be honest I’m cribbing this from a summary my pal Ben Thompson wrote in a private group chat), SVB took in a ton of cash during the COVID bubble, and because they couldn’t make money loaning that money at the time, they bought a bunch of corporate bonds and mortgage-backed securities. The problem is they bought those securities when interest rates were still at historical lows. Today, with higher interest rates, those securities are underwater — they’d lose a fortune selling them now before maturity. SVB would’ve been fine if they’d been able to let those securities mature for their full 10 years (or whatever the terms were). But withdrawals are up because startups are having trouble raising money, so SVB did an equity raise to fill the gap, but screwed up — to say the least — by announcing the equity raise before it was officially completed. At this point their stock tanked, the equity partner pulled out, and their customers started a run on the bank — and a bank run was the one thing SVB couldn’t withstand. Within 24 hours they went from “having a bad quarter” to “failed bank”.

Some of SVB’s customers might be in trouble, at least momentarily: even a 100-employee company needs millions in the bank to make payroll, pay rent and utilities, etc. Larger companies, much more. $250K in deposit insurance is a drop in the bucket for most of SVB’s business customers. Everyone is assuming that some big bank will buy SVB and make all depositors whole, but until that happens, it’s an open question. If there is no buyer and SVB is liquidated, there’s no way uninsured deposits will be made whole.

See Also: Good thread from economist Justin Wolfers.

Facebook Is Working on a Twitter Competitor Codenamed ‘P92’ That Will Be Interoperable With Mastodon 

Deepsekhar Choudhury and Vikas Sn, reporting for Moneycontrol:

Meta, the parent firm of Facebook and Instagram, is hashing out a plan to build a standalone text-based content app that will support ActivityPub, the decentralised social networking protocol powering Twitter rival Mastodon and other federated apps, people familiar with the matter told Moneycontrol.

The app will be Instagram-branded and will allow users to register/login to the app through their Instagram credentials, they said. Moneycontrol has seen a copy of an internal product brief that elaborates on the functioning and various product features of the app.

To be sure, it’s not clear whether this app, codenamed P92, is still at an idea-stage or the development has begun on the app. A source close to the development said that it is still a work-in-progress.

Hours after Moneycontrol broke the story, Meta has confirmed the development in a statement: “We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates. We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests” a Meta spokesperson said.

Casey Newton at Platformer:

Details about the project are scant. The product is still in its earliest stages, sources said, and there is no time frame for it being released. But legal and regulatory teams have already started to investigate potential privacy concerns around the app so they can be addressed before launch, we’re told.

Adam Mosseri, who runs Instagram, is taking the lead on the project, sources said.

No sarcasm intended: I love this idea. Federate with Mastodon via ActivityPub and let people do it using their existing Instagram IDs. Keep it clean and simple and destroy what’s left of Twitter.

Augmented Reality Ski Goggles 

Jason Kottke:

The other day on the chair lift, my kids and I were talking about our top skiing speeds (me: low 40s, them: 50+) and one of us mentioned that it would be cool if your current speed was shown on a heads-up display in your goggles. So this morning I went looking for AR ski goggles and of course they exist. Here are a pair of demo videos from Sirius (made by Oostloong) and Rekkie.

These goggles include features like real-time speed, clock, temperature, friend finding/tracking, wayfinding (directions, compass, elevation), HD recording, and phone notifications. Skiing is a natural use for AR — you’re wearing the bulky goggles for safety anyway, so you can hide all the necessary tech in there without lookingridiculous, and taking your mittens on and off to check the time or send/read texts is annoying.

The demo video for the Sirius goggles is particularly impressive. And the use case is simply incredible: skiers are already wearing bulky goggles.

WhatsApp, the Dominant Messaging Platform in the U.K., Tells the Government to Bugger Off Regarding Legislation That Would Ban End-to-End Encryption 

Shiona McCallum and Chris Vallance, reporting for the BBC News:

WhatsApp says it would rather be blocked in the UK than undermine its encrypted-messaging system, if required to do so under the Online Safety Bill. [...]

The government said it is possible to have both privacy and child safety.

Cryptographers and privacy experts agree that end-to-end encryption is the only way to guarantee privacy. Dum-dum elected officials around the globe have a persistent “it must be possible” fantasy that it’s possible to create an encryption system with backdoor keys that would only be available to “the good guys”.

Undermining the privacy of WhatsApp messages in the UK would do so for all users, Mr Cathcart said.

“Our users all around the world want security - 98% of our users are outside the UK, they do not want us to lower the security of the product,” he said. And the app would rather accept being blocked in the UK.

“We’ve recently been blocked in Iran, for example. We’ve never seen a liberal democracy do that,” he added.

It’s not even a matter of willingness. It’s not technically possible for WhatsApp or Signal or iMessage or any platform that’s end-to-end encrypted to use some weaker backdoor-able encryption on a country-by-country basis. The platform is either truly end-to-end encrypted or it’s not. They can’t just flip and switch and let U.K. WhatsApp users use an entirely different non-E2E protocol. The principled stand in the name of cryptographically guaranteed privacy isn’t happening now, in response to this deeply misguided legislation — it happened at the outset of these platforms, when they were designed from the ground up with E2E.

Google Is Expanding VPN Service to All Paid Google One Subscribers 

Speaking of Google One features, here’s Juli Clover at MacRumors:

Google today announced that its Google VPN feature is expanding to all Google One subscribers, instead of being limited to those who subscribe to the Premium 2TB Google One plan.

VPN by Google One is designed to mask a user’s IP address, preventing sites and apps from collecting that information for location tracking and monitoring activity across the web. It also offers protection from hackers and network operators, similar to any other VPN.

With this change, storage space is the primary differentiating factor between Google One plans. The basic plan offers 100GB of storage, while the Premium plan offers 2TB. There’s also a free tier with 15GB of storage, but it does not include VPN access.

Using a VPN does prevent sites and apps from tracking or monitoring you. But your VPN provider can see every site you visit, and every app you use (other than apps that never do anything on the internet). VPN usage data is so lucrative to a surveillance advertising company that just a few years ago, Facebook was paying users aged 13 to 35 up to $20 per month to use their “Facebook Research” VPN app. A VPN app from Google is a hard pass for me.

Magic Eraser Comes to ‘Other Phones’ 

Philip Michaels, writing for Tom’s Guide:

If you’re not familiar with Magic Eraser, it made its debut with the the Pixel 6 in 2021, allowing you to easily remove unwanted people and objects from images. Select Magic Eraser, and the tool’s computational smarts will identify things for removal. If you agree with those suggestions, all you have to do is tap them. If you had something else in mind, just draw a circle around it with your finger, and Magic Eraser will make the offending object disappear.

While the Magic Eraser tool is now part of the Google Photos app for iPhone, it’s still tied to Google One. To put it another way, if you want to keep any changes that Magic Eraser makes to your photos, you’ll need to sign up for a Google One membership, with subscriptions starting at $1.99/month for 100GB of storage.

A few months ago I noticed a new TV commercial campaign from Google for its Pixel phones. They start with a narrator saying “Did you know Google makes a phone?”* The next line, in most of the spots: “Sure it’s beautiful, but it does things other phones can’t do.” And then the primary feature they show is ... Magic Eraser. Here’s a 15-second spot that only shows Magic Eraser.

Then Google ran a 90-second Super Bowl spot for the Pixel — starring Amy Schumer, Doja Cat, and some guy from the Milwaukee Bucks — and the whole thing was about Magic Eraser. It’s enough to make you think that the Pixel marketing team had no idea Google was going to make Magic Eraser available to “other phones”.

“It does things other phones can’t do” is a good slogan. “It does things other phones won’t be able to do until the end of this month”, not so much.

* This is a good hook for a Pixel ad campaign because I think it’s true that most Americans don’t know that Google makes phones. But it’s rather embarrassing that most Americans don’t know that Google makes phones given that the original Pixel debuted in 2016, and Google’s Nexus line of phones debuted in 2010. You’ve got a serious marketing problem when you’re 13 years in and see the need for a “Did you know we do this?” campaign.

‘Finally’ Indeed 

I hope you’re well-stocked with popcorn, because you’re going to need a lot of it. Dominion Voting Systems, opening its reply brief in support of its motion for a summary judgment against Fox “News” (PDF):

Finally. Fox has conceded what it knew all along. The charges Fox broadcast against Dominion are false. Fox does not spend a word of its brief arguing the truth of any accused statement. Fox has produced no evidence — none, zero — supporting those lies. This concession should come as no surprise. Discovery into Fox has proven that from the top of the organization to the bottom, Fox always knew the absurdity of the Dominion “stolen election” story. Now, having failed to put in any evidence to the contrary (because no such evidence exists), Fox has conceded the falsity of the Dominion allegations it broadcast.

That concession is no small thing. Thirty percent or more of Americans still believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. The heart of that lie remains the false conspiracy theory that Fox legitimized and mainstreamed starting on November 8 — that Dominion stole the election, using secret algorithms in its software originally designed for a Venezuelan dictator. Because of these lies, Dominion now may be “one of the most demonized brands in the United States or the world.” Dominion employees still endure threats and harassment. So it matters that Fox in private ridiculed — and never believed — the lie. And it matters that Fox has now in this litigation conceded these allegations were false.


Fox seeks a First Amendment license to knowingly spread lies. Fox would have this Court create an absolute legal immunity for knowingly spreading false allegations — lies — for profit, regardless of how absurd the lies are, regardless how many people in the chain of command know the lies are false, and regardless how many people are hurt — so long as the false claims are “newsworthy.” Fox proffers a completely made-up “rule,” contrary to decades of jurisprudence since New York Times v. Sullivan. As Judge Nichols ruled in rejecting MyPillow’s analogous argument that the First Amendment provides “blanket protection” from defamation for statements about a “‘public debate in a public forum,’” “there is no such immunity. Instead, the First Amendment safeguards our ‘profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,’ by limiting viable defamation claims to provably false statements made with actual malice.”

Panic Launches Playdate Catalog 

Speaking of Playdate, Panic has news:

Arriving with the latest Playdate OS and also available at, Catalog is our curated store for neat Playdate software.

It’s launching with new games, and some previously released favorites.

Christa Mrgan hosted a fun video with a tour of the new games (and other news — see below). My favorite so far is Shaun Inman’s Word Trip, a deviously simple fast-paced word game, and Carve Jr. and Skew both look graphically ambitious and fun.

Panic is (finally!) nearing the finish line fulfilling pre-orders, but supply chain costs and inflation have led them to raise the price of a Playdate from $179 to $199 — but the new price isn’t going into effect until next month. I adore my Playdate (and have lost untold hours in particular to Zipper, an extraordinary game by Bennett Foddy in Playdate’s Season One collection). If you’ve been on the fence about buying one, you might as well get it now, at the original price. Then blow the $20 you saved on games in the Catalog.

‘Six Colors, but Really Just One Color and It’s the Yellow iPhone 14’ 

Apple sent a bunch of reviewers the new yellow iPhone 14 (the yPhone? No? OK, I’ll drop it…), and Jason Snell, bedecked in yellow, went all-in with a livestream video. Serendipitously, I posted some photos on Mastodon while Snell was streaming. My take: “Yellow iPhone 14 is a nice cheery fun yellow, but a very different nice cheery fun yellow than Playdate.”

As Snell points out, Apple has been releasing mid-cycle new colors for the iPhone (and iPhone cases) for the last 4 or 5 years. They do the same thing with Apple Watch bands each spring — Basic Apple Guy has a nice gallery of today’s new band lineup. There’s nothing new technically to review — just the colors. Apple’s strategy is obvious: with an annual schedule for truly new iPhones (and watches) each September, releasing new colors in March gives them a legitimate reason to keep using one of the most powerful words in marketing — new — for a product that is, by the breakneck standards of the phone industry, no longer all that new.

Bonus Case Review: Apple also sent me the new olive green silicone case for iPhone 14. Combined with the yPhone (OK, OK, I’ll stop, I swear, that’s it) it makes for a nice Oakland A’s-y vibe. I think the purple case they sent Snell probably makes for a better combo though.

‘We Are Very, Very Close to Being Able to Ignore Trump Most Nights. I Truly Can’t Wait. I Hate Him Passionately.’ 

Aaron Blake, reporting for The Washington Post:

Tuesday brought yet more documents in Dominion Voting Systems’ high-stakes lawsuit against Fox News over Fox’s handling of claims that Dominion’s voting machines helped rig the 2020 election.

The documents come after Dominion recently detailed how Fox executives and hosts privately derided the stolen-election claims even as the network chose to air them anyway — often credulously — in the name of appealing to its Trump-supporting viewers. [...]

While Fox’s hosts and executives clearly worried about alienating Donald Trump, it’s become abundantly clear that it wasn’t so much about personal affection as a cold business decision. Repeatedly in the exhibits and depositions, they are shown deriding Trump. In a Nov. 19, 2020, email, Rupert Murdoch appears to describe Trump and Rudy Giuliani as “both increasingly mad.”

He adds of Trump: “The real danger is what he might do as president. Apparently not sleeping and bouncing off walls! Don’t know about Melania, but kids no help.” In his deposition, Murdoch not only disputed Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen, but he also agreed when asked whether Trump was a “sore loser.”

Dominion’s lawsuit is the gift that keeps on giving. The quote in my headline for this post? That’s from a message sent by Tucker Carlson, and that’s what he really thinks of Trump.

As for Trump’s own team spirit:

In a Dec. 22 email, Lachlan Murdoch relayed [former New York Post editor in chief Col] Allan’s summary of a conversation with Trump.

“Col says POTUS was dismissive of Georgia race when he saw him on Friday,” Lachlan Murdoch said. “He basically said Republicans shouldn’t vote because it’s all rigged anyway. And if he can’t win no one should.”

Finally, I agree with Donald Trump about something.

Bertrand Serlet, Microsoft Employee 

My “Hey, how come you don’t hear about ex-Apple folks launching startups?” musing in the previous item reminded me that I never linked to this news from January. Kyle Wiggers, reporting for TechCrunch:

In December, reports suggested that Microsoft had acquired Fungible, a startup fabricating a type of data center hardware known as a data processing unit (DPU), for around $190 million. Today, Microsoft confirmed the acquisition but not the purchase price, saying that it plans to use Fungible’s tech and team to deliver “multiple DPU solutions, network innovation and hardware systems advancements.” [...]

Fungible was launched in 2016 by Bertrand Serlet, a former Apple software engineer who sold a cloud storage startup, Upthere, to Western Digital in 2017, alongside Krishna Yarlagadda and Juniper Networks co-founder Pradeep Sindhu. Fungible sold DPUs that relied on two operating systems, one open source and the other proprietary, and a microprocessor architecture called MIPS to control flash storage volumes.

“The Fungible DPU was invented in 2016 to address the most significant problems in scale-out data centers: the inefficient execution of data-centric computations within server nodes,” Fungible wrote in a statement on its website. “We are proud to be part of a company that shares Fungible’s vision and will leverage the Fungible DPU and software to enhance its storage and networking offerings.”

The Fungible team will join Microsoft’s data center infrastructure engineering teams, Bablani said.

Bertrand Serlet at Microsoft — albeit quietly — is an outcome I certainly wouldn’t have imagined circa 2006, when he skewered the then-still-in-beta Windows Vista on stage at WWDC. Maybe the funniest 4 minutes of an Apple keynote ever.

Humane Raises Another $100 Million, Announces Partnerships With Microsoft and OpenAI, But Their Products Remain a Mystery 

Aaron Tilley, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

The husband and wife co-founders were longtime Apple executives who departed in 2016. Mr. Chaudhri was the former director of design for Apple’s human interface team, which focuses on the user experiences of Apple’s devices. Ms. Bongiorno was a director for Apple’s operating system.

Patrick Gates, a former senior director of engineering at Apple, is also an early employee at Humane, where he serves as chief technology officer. The $100 million round was led by Kindred Ventures and included participation from Microsoft, among others. OpenAI Chief Executive Sam Altman, who was an early investor in Humane, also joined in the new round. The company previously raised two rounds of financing totaling $130 million.

As part of a fundraising announcement Wednesday, the company said it would be working with Microsoft to power Humane’s cloud services. Humane would also be partnering with OpenAI to integrate its AI technology into the Humane device.

Here’s Humane’s press release. Most interesting to me isn’t the additional funding — though it is worth noting they’re up to $230 million total and this is their third round and the still haven’t shipped anything — but the partnership with Microsoft. Apple, I am reliably informed, wants nothing to do with Humane. Bongiorno and Chaudhri did not leave on good terms, with Chaudhri in particular being perceived as taking excessive personal credit for work done by a larger team. I don’t know if that’s true or not, only that that’s how he’s seen, by some, in Cupertino.

I mean, it’s hard to imagine Apple investing in any startup making consumer computing devices. Apple acquires smaller companiesfrom time to time”, but they seemingly don’t nurture them through investments. And when Apple does acquire smaller companies, they tend to do so quietly (Beats being the exception that proves the rule). Humane doesn’t seem like a company looking for a humble quiet acquisition.

I remain keenly interested in whatever it is Humane is building. The mere fact that they’re both founded by ex-Apple executives and staffed by numerous ex-Apple employees makes them rather unique. It’s been gnawing at me lately that there have hardly been any companies at all founded by former Apple employees in the modern post-NeXT-reuinification era. There’s Tony Fadell’s Nest — but who else? I expected something new, eventually, from Scott Forstall, for example, but it’s now a full decade after his ouster, and he’s remained out of the game.

Humane is the exception. And so we wait.

Bonus Content: A 2021 investor pitch slide deck from Humane leaked a while back. I have an extremely low-res samizdat copy of a few of the slides. Might as well stop hoarding it. Who knows if the gadget described in the deck bears any resemblance to what they might eventually ship, but the deck describes something akin to a Star Trek communicator badge, with an AI-connected always-on camera saving photos and videos to the cloud, and lidar sensors for world-mapping and detecting hand gestures. (The “What is it?” slide says it’s a “Cloud connected sight enabled AI platform with server side app echo system.” That’s not really helpful to me because I don’t know what an “app echo system” is. Perhaps it was a typo and they meant ecosystem?) Humane’s patent filings describe a laser projection system for displaying a visual UI on, say, the palm of your hand, but I never put much stock into patents turning into actual products. What companies make, they patent; but what they patent usually isn’t made.

Love Letters From Letterboxd 

How about this for Letterboxd hitting the big time: the Oscars filmed a bunch of this year’s nominees reading comments from Letterboxd reviews. It’s like the nice, kind version of Jimmy Kimmel’s “mean tweets” recurring segment. Very cool. (Via Matthew Buchanan.)

Elon Musk Is Watching His Back; His Security Guards Are Watching Him Poop 

Re: Halli Thorleifsson’s quip about Elon Musk not going to the restroom by himself, the context is this report from Marianna Spring at BBC News, primarily about harassment and CSAM content moderation falling apart:

In San Francisco, the home of Twitter’s headquarters, I set out to look for answers. What better place to get them than from an engineer — responsible for the computer code that makes Twitter work. Because he’s still working there, he’s asked us to conceal his identity, so we’re calling him Sam.

“For someone on the inside, it’s like a building where all the pieces are on fire,” he revealed. “When you look at it from the outside the façade looks fine, but I can see that nothing is working. All the plumbing is broken, all the faucets, everything.” [...]

The level of disarray, in his view, is because Mr Musk doesn’t trust Twitter employees. He describes him bringing in engineers from his other company — electric car manufacturer Tesla — and asking them to evaluate engineers’ code over just a few days before deciding who to sack. Code like that would take “months” to understand, he tells me.

He believes this lack of trust is betrayed by the level of security Mr Musk surrounds himself with.

“Wherever he goes in the office, there are at least two bodyguards — very bulky, tall, Hollywood movie-[style] bodyguards. Even when [he goes] to the restroom,” he tells me.

Sounds like a fun job.

Apple’s Mid-Cycle Color Refresh: Yellow iPhones 14 and 14 Plus 

Judging by the photos, it’s a fun bold yellow. The only vibrant color other than Product Red. No mid-cycle new color for the 14 Pro models this year.

Phony Stark Stiffed Amazon on Twitter’s AWS Bill, So Amazon Threatened to Pull Its Ads 

Erin Woo, reporting for The Information (paywalled, alas):

Elon Musk is running into an obstacle in his relentless drive to cut costs at Twitter: some of the same vendors that Twitter is squeezing to save money are also its advertising clients.

As recently as last month, Twitter sales and marketing staff were told by their colleagues that Amazon had threatened to withhold payment for advertising it runs on Twitter because the social network for months refused to pay its Amazon Web Services bills for cloud computing services, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

The ad threat may have had an impact. A couple of weeks ago, Twitter paid AWS $10 million for cloud services it used, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what Twitter owes AWS based on a long-term contract the companies struck, said a person familiar with the situation. [...] Twitter’s shortfall on what it is supposed to have spent on AWS services, under a five and a half year contract signed in 2020, is now at least $70 million. And Amazon has resisted renegotiating the contract, the person said.

It’s a lot easier to bully around smaller companies, and stiff them on their bills. Not so much a bigger company. Renegotiating a contract like this is like asking to renegotiate your poker bet after you’ve lost the hand. I would imagine the negotiations have been going something like this:

Twitter: We’d like to renegotiate our AWS contract.

Amazon: Fuck you, pay us.

Twitter: But we’re not utilizing...

Amazon: Fuck you, pay us.

Twitter: OK, but can we...

Amazon: Fuck you, pay us.

iPhone Gaining in Popularity Worldwide, Especially With Younger People 

Jiyoung Sohn, reporting last week for The Wall Street Journal (News+ link):

Consumers around the world are increasingly choosing Apple Inc.’s iPhones over high-end Android smartphones, with younger users seen as pushing the company toward the level of dominance in the market globally that it has enjoyed in the U.S.

In Samsung’s backyard, where the brand’s Android smartphones have held sway, Apple’s clout has been growing since the company opened its first store in South Korea in 2018. Apple now has four stores in the country, where its mobile-payment system Apple Pay will soon become available for the first time.

Around 52% of people age 18 to 29 in South Korea were using an Apple smartphone as of 2022, up from 44% two years earlier, according to polls by Gallup Korea. Samsung’s share of this age group slipped to 44% from 45% in that time, the polls showed. For all older age groups, Samsung phones remain most prevalent.

I did not know that Apple is beating Samsung in Korea in a key demographic like 18–29 year olds.

One bright spot for Samsung is that it is leading the foldable-smartphones category it helped pioneer. Sales of foldable phones represent less than 1% of the smartphones shipped worldwide today, but their increased popularity could boost Samsung’s future position in the premium category, analysts say. Apple has yet to announce any plans for foldable phones.

How is it a “bright spot” to lead a category whose sales round down to zero?

Medium’s Mastodon Server Opens Up 

Alex Benzer, director of product at Medium:

A few weeks ago, we announced that Medium is embracing short-form writing by launching our very own Mastodon server at Starting today, we’re opening up access for our member community. If you’re a Medium member, you can create an account on

It’s fascinating to see Medium enter the Mastodon game. For one thing, amongst Medium’s co-founders are Ev Williams (who also served as Medium’s CEO for most of its existence) and Biz Stone — two people who were at Twitter at the beginning. Williams also served as one of Twitter’s numerous CEOs.

Second, Medium is a commercial company, having raised, according to CrunchBase, $163 million (so far). To my knowledge no company with such resources has started a public Mastodon instance to date. I am very uncomfortable with the fact that nearly all Mastodon servers are free-to-use volunteer efforts, funded by voluntary donations. That’s not sustainable. I suspect a lot of Mastodon servers that seem to be thriving today won’t be around in 5 years, taking all of their posts with them. I don’t feel great about the fact that Medium is venture-backed, either, but they do charge $5/month or $50/year for a membership. I like paying for the services I use. Twitter is free to use and look how that’s gone.

Third, “” is a cool-ass domain name. If I weren’t already all-in with my @[email protected] account, I’d be tempted to start here. As every good introduction to Mastodon makes clear, it’s confusing and tricky to choose which server to sign up on. Medium’s strikes me as a good one.

Japanese Messaging Platform Line Adds ChatGPT, Gets 200,000 Users in Three Days 

I’m linking here to a news article from PR Times, written in Japanese, but you can get the gist of it using Safari’s built-in translation feature. (What an amazing feature, by the way. Science fiction from my childhood come to life.) ChatGPT speaks and understands Japanese, but uptake in Japan has been hampered, apparently, because you need to speak English to sign up.

Line is the dominant messaging platform in Japan, and last week they added ChatGPT. You just add “AI Chat-kun” as a friend and start chatting. Up to five messages per day are free, and you can upgrade to unlimited messages for ¥680/month (about $5).

(Via Chris Vasselli.)

A Short Story About the Mac App Store 

Cabel Sasser, on Mastodon:

A short story. We once submitted Untitled Goose Game to the Mac App Store. It was rejected by the reviewer because they thought you couldn’t skip the credits. (?!?) We explained that you could skip the credits by holding space. It was then rejected for something else and at that point we just gave up and never bothered to resubmit. Fin

Untitled Goose Game, of course, is one of the funnest and most original games of the last decade. And Panic is a company that has made a couple of decent Mac apps over the years.

The Rogue Amoeba Historic Screenshot Archive 

Paul Kafasis, writing at the Rogue Amoeba blog, celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary:

For many years, noted Mac collector Stephen Hackett has done wonderful work with the MacOS Screenshot Library. The library offers screenshots of the Mac’s operating system dating back to the Mac OS X Public Beta in 2000, and we’re such fans that Rogue Amoeba has sponsored it for several years now. It‘s often helpful as a reference, but it’s also simply enjoyable to look back at the way things once were.

Amazingly, Rogue Amoeba’s own story dates back nearly as far as Mac OS X’s. We opened our virtual doors in 2002, and since then, we’ve shipped nearly 1,000 different versions across our product lineup. Given that amount of history, we thought it would be both useful and fun to document our own products.

Late last year, we asked Stephen if he’d help us spin up our own archive. He was up for the challenge, so we provided him with a pile of important releases, and he set to work documenting them with his array of old Macs. When Stephen was done, he provided us with a large collection of screenshots, sorted by product and version.

Our team then curated these images and built a way to show them off. We created galleries for each product and dug up details and stories about each individual update. It was a lot of work, but the end result feels weighty, a worthwhile repository of much of our company’s history.

This is just wonderful. A few thoughts:

  • Be careful if you’ve got work on your plate today. You can lose an hour or two with this gallery, easy.
  • In hindsight it’s surprising to me how quickly Mac OS X’s pinstripes faded away. In my memory, those strong pinstripes were there for an entire era, but in reality, they started fading with each major Mac OS X release after 10.0, and by 2004 were gone.
  • I really miss UI design that made controls obvious. Clear affordances. All buttons obviously buttons, all text input fields obviously text input fields. Pop-up menus that are obviously pop-up menus (today’s MacOS 13 is chock full of pop-up menus that only reveal themselves as pop-ups when you hover over them). 20 years ago we bent over backwards to make the purpose of every control as obvious as possible; the style today is to make everything look like flat static text.
  • Depth and texture in UI are good things. Our displays have never been better suited to displaying color and fine detail, but our UI themes today look like they were designed for output on a crummy old laser printer or something.
CPAC Speaker Michael Knowles Calls for Transgender People to Be ‘Eradicated From Public Life Entirely’ 

Peter Wade and Patrick Reis, reporting for Rolling Stone:

The right’s war on queer and trans people took center stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference as Daily Wire host Michael Knowles on Saturday called for the eradication of “transgenderism.”

During his speech on Saturday, Knowles told the crowd, “For the good of society … transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely — the whole preposterous ideology, at every level.”

Knowles subsequently claimed that “eradicating” “transgenderism” is not a call for eradicating transgender people and demanded retractions from numerous publications, including Rolling Stone.

Erin Reed, a transgender rights activist and writer, tells Rolling Stone that it’s an absurd distinction. There is no difference between a ban on “transgenderism” and an attack on transgender people, she says: “They are one and the same, and there’s no separation between them.”

The tweet linked above is from Knowles, pointing to an earlier version of the same Rolling Stone story, and reads, “This headline is libelous, and I demand a retraction.”

Keith Olbermann, in a reply to Knowles’s tweet:

You should get the fuck off the stage and apologize, asshole. This statement is your life from here on in.

Shove your hatred and bias and Nazi dreams up your ass, Motherfucker.

Olbermann took the words right out of my mouth. It’s sophistry to argue that transgenderism can be “eradicated from public life entirely” without eradicating transgender people. Eradicate is a Nazi word — one step away from exterminate — and totally means completely, absolutely, entirely. Watch the video. This is Nazism, and the only proper response to Nazis is to punch them.

Roku Doesn’t Support IPv6 and It Might Be a Big Deal 

“DingleBog3899” on the Roku community forum (emphasis added):

Our tribal network started out IPv6, but soon learned we had to somehow support IPv4 only traffic. It took almost 11 months in order to get a small amount of IPv4 addresses allocated for this use. In fact there were only enough addresses to cover maybe 1% of population. So we were forced to create a very expensive proxy/translation server in order to support this traffic.

We learned a very expensive lesson. 71% of the IPv4 traffic we were supporting was from Roku devices. 9% coming from DishNetwork & DirectTV satellite tuners, 11% from HomeSecurity cameras and systems, and remaining 9% we replaced extremely outdated Point of Sale (POS) equipment. So we cut Roku some slack three years ago by spending a little over $300k just to support their devices.

First off I despise both Apple and that other evil empire (house of mouse) I want nothing to do with either of them. Now with that said I am one of four individuals that suggested and lobbied 15 other tribal nations to offer a new AppleTV device in exchange for active Roku devices. Other nations are facing the same dilemma. Spend an exorbitant amount of money to support a small amount of antiquated devices or replace the problem devices at fraction of the cost.

Now if Roku cannot be proactive at keeping up with connectivity standards they are going to be wiped out by their own complacency. Judging by the growing number of offers to replace their devices for free their competitors are already proactively exploiting that complacency. When we approached Apple to see about a discount to purchase a large number of their devices, for the exchange, they eagerly offered to supply their devices for free.

Seems weird to say you despise a company that supplied a Native American tribe with a slew of free Apple TVs, but the fact that he’s not an Apple fan makes it all the more telling that they went with Apple TVs as their solution. I wonder what the deal is with Roku not supporting IPv6? Is it just something they haven’t gotten to, or have they somehow engineered a tech stack that only works on IPv4?


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

Kolide offers a more nuanced approach than MDM solutions to setting and enforcing sensitive data policies. Their premise is simple: if an employee’s device is out of compliance, it can’t access your apps. Kolide lets admins run queries to detect sensitive data, flag devices that have violated policies, and enforce OS and browser updates so vulnerable devices aren’t accessing data.

To learn more and see Kolide in action, visit

Josh Marshall: ‘The Deep Archeology of Fox News’ 

Josh Marshall, writing at TPM:

The evidence emerging from the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News has the quality of liberal fever dreams. What’s the worst you can possibly imagine about Fox? What’s the most cartoonish caricature, the worst it could possibly be? Well, in these emails and texts you basically have that. Only it’s real. It’s not anyone believing the worst and giving no benefit of the doubt. This is what Fox is.

In a moment like this it’s worth stepping way, way back, not just to the beginning of Fox News in 1996 but to the beginning of the broader countermovement it was a part of and even a relatively late entry to.


One of the things that is clear from the very start of the conservative movement was a basic failure to quite understand the thing they rallied themselves against, the history that in Bill Buckley’s famous phrase he was standing athwart and yelling “Stop!” None of the organizations that the right took issue with — the think tanks, the news publications, the movie studios, the nonprofits, the book publishers — were ideological, let alone partisan, organizations. When the founders of modern conservatism looked at CBS News they saw the shock troops of liberalism and the Democratic Party. Same with Brookings and the Washington Post and all the rest. And when they went to build their own versions of these institutions they patterned them off their own cartoonish understandings of how these operations functioned. The idea that institutions like CBS News or The New York Times were, whatever their faults and unexamined biases, fundamentally rooted in an ethic of news gathering and reporting was really totally lost on them.

In a broad sense it all comes back to Stephen Colbert’s iconic line from his Colbert Report alter ego: “It is a well known fact that reality has a liberal bias.” U.S. conservatives couldn’t/can’t see that, or refuse to see it, and instead operate on the assumption that all journalism — and science — that points toward liberal conclusions is ideological. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously quipped, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” The foundational element of the modern U.S. conservative movement is that facts and opinions are interchangeable, that their opinions not only can trump our facts, they do, purely by the force of their convictions. Whoever shouts loudest wins, not whoever presents the best evidence.

Hence the other defining difference between Fox News and all non-rightwing TV news organizations: anger. Put partisanship and ideology aside. The anchors at other news channels are dispassionate; the anchors on Fox are angry, and they drum up anger amongst their viewers. You could see this difference best if you didn’t understand English. The anger is palpable and it never ends. Their product is outrage, not edification. They were angry under Clinton, Obama, and now Biden, yes. But they were just as angry under George W. Bush and Donald Trump. The feelings over facts worldview demands it, but it is to the detriment of us all.

Be sure to watch the video clip Marshall includes in his column, of Tucker Carlson speaking at the CPAC conference in 2009. It’s an utterly different Carlson than the one who today leads Fox News. He argued then, correctly, that conservatism needs fact-first news organizations. He almost got booed off the stage. The rest is history.

Dow Claimed to Be Recycling Used Sneakers; Reuters Used AirTags to Prove They Weren’t 

Joe Brock, Yuddy Cahya Budiman, and Joseph Campbell, reporting for Reuters:

At a rundown market on the Indonesian island of Batam, a small location tracker was beeping from the back of a crumbling second-hand shoe store. A Reuters reporter followed the high-pitched ping to a mound of old sneakers and began digging through the pile.

There they were: a pair of blue Nike running shoes with a tracking device hidden in one of the soles.

These familiar shoes had traveled by land, then sea and crossed an international border to end up in this heap. They weren’t supposed to be here.

Five months earlier, in July 2022, Reuters had given the shoes to a recycling program spearheaded by the Singapore government and U.S. petrochemicals giant Dow Inc. In media releases and a promotional video posted online, that effort promised to harvest the rubberized soles and midsoles of donated shoes, then grind down the material for use in building new playgrounds and running tracks in Singapore.

Remarkable reporting by Reuters. After donating 11 pairs of sneakers (all of which contained hidden AirTags) at different drop-off spots in Indonesia, they flew all over Asia to track them down, and found most of them in used clothing stores. None of the 11 pairs were turned into exercise paths or playgrounds, as Dow claimed they would be. Not only is the whole greenwashing initiative by Dow an apparent scam, it’s illegal in Indonesia. And don’t miss the video — it’s really good, but, alas, ends a bit like Chinatown.

Great gumshoe reporting, in both the literal and figurative senses.

EU Antitrust Regulators Narrow Apple Antitrust Probe, Zeroing in on Anti-Steering 

Paul Sawers, reporting for TechCrunch:

The European Commission (EC) has confirmed a previously issued preliminary view that Apple’s so-called “anti-steering” practices, which prevent developers from informing users about alternative payment options, constitutes unfair trading practices.

However, in a refined Statement of Objections sent to Apple and published for the public today, the EC also said that it’s dropping an additional anti-trust charge against the tech giant around the issue of how Apple imposes its own in-app purchase (IAP) payment technology on music-streaming service providers. It wrote:

Today’s Statement of Objections clarifies that the Commission does no longer take a position as to the legality of the IAP obligation for the purposes of this antitrust investigation but rather focuses on the contractual restrictions that Apple imposed on app developers which prevent them from informing iPhone and iPad users of alternative music subscription options at lower prices outside of the app and to effectively choose those.

Sometimes the system works. I’ve thought all along that most of the EC’s probe against Apple was overreaching (the stuff about opening up IAP in particular), but Apple’s anti-steering provisions are wrong and either already are illegal or should be made illegal.

Joe Rossignol at MacRumors:

In a statement shared with MacRumors, an Apple spokesperson said the company is “pleased” that the Commission has narrowed its case:

Apple will continue to work with the European Commission to understand and respond to their concerns, all the while promoting competition and choice for European consumers. We’re pleased that the Commission has narrowed its case and is no longer challenging Apple’s right to collect a commission for digital goods and require the use of the In-App Payment systems users trust. The App Store has helped Spotify become the top music streaming service across Europe and we hope the European Commission will end its pursuit of a complaint that has no merit.

Spotify no longer allows customers to subscribe through its iPhone app. A message in the Premium tab of the app informs customers that they “can’t upgrade to Premium in the app” and says “we know, it’s not ideal.” The tab does not provide any information or external links related to subscribing on Spotify’s website.

The same has been true with Netflix’s app for years. Download it and it has a very obvious button to Sign In, but if you don’t already have a Netflix account, there’s almost no indication what to do to sign up. I wrote about this back in 2019 — you can tap the small “Help” button in the corner and call Netflix on the phone and someone will tell you the answer: that you need to sign up on Netflix’s website.

Putting the legality of Apple’s anti-steering rules aside, I think they make the company look spiteful and petty. They certainly aren’t in the interest of users. Apple is only really Apple when they put the user first. Apple makes gobs of money by selling hardware and software and services that provide people with the best experiences in the world. Anything like this that’s purely about making more money at the expense of the user experience is like a malignant tumor growing on the side of the true Apple. By going after these anti-steering provisions, the EC is doing Apple a favor, despite the fact that some of Apple’s executives can’t see it. The EC might excise that tumor for Apple.


Of course the best way to skewer a cartoonist is with a comic strip. Sublime work by Ruben Bolling.