Linked List: May 2023

U.S. Pay-TV Subscriptions Fall to Lowest Levels Since 1992 

Speaking of the demise of regional sports networks, here’s Todd Spangler reporting for Variety:

As streaming video continues its ascendancy, cable, satellite and internet TV providers in the U.S. turned in their worst subscriber losses to date in the first quarter of 2023 — collectively shedding 2.3 million customers in the period, according to analyst estimates. [...] With the Q1 decline, total pay-TV penetration of occupied U.S. households (including for internet services like YouTube TV and Hulu) dropped to 58.5% — its lowest point since 1992, two years before DirecTV launched as a new rival to cable TV, according to Moffett’s calculations. [...]

Google’s YouTube TV was the only provider tracked by MoffettNathanson that picked up subs in Q1, adding an estimated 300,000 subscribers in the period (to reach about 6.3 million) and netting 1.4 million subscribers over the past year. [...]

Pay TV is suffering from what Moffett calls “the impoverishment cycle,” in which higher sports-broadcast fees have driven retail prices higher — thereby fueling cord-cutting and forcing distributors to increase prices to compensate. Even ESPN, one-time stalwart of the traditional ecosystem, has conceded that there will be a day when a la carte streaming is a viable option, Moffett noted.

It’ll be interesting to see how much YouTube TV growth is juiced by NFL Sunday Ticket later this year.

Reddit API Pricing Would Cost Apollo Developer $20 Million Per Year 

Christian Selig, developer of the splendid Reddit client Apollo:

I’ll cut to the chase: 50 million requests costs $12,000, a figure far more than I ever could have imagined.

Apollo made 7 billion requests last month, which would put it at about 1.7 million dollars per month, or 20 million US dollars per year. Even if I only kept subscription users, the average Apollo user uses 344 requests per day, which would cost $2.50 per month, which is over double what the subscription currently costs, so I’d be in the red every month.

I’m deeply disappointed in this price. Reddit iterated that the price would be A) reasonable and based in reality, and B) they would not operate like Twitter. Twitter’s pricing was publicly ridiculed for its obscene price of $42,000 for 50 million tweets. Reddit’s is still $12,000. For reference, I pay Imgur, a site similar to Reddit in userbase and media, $166 for the same 50 million API calls.

Selig does some ballpark math and estimates that Reddit currently generates about $0.12 in revenue per month per active user. The average Apollo user would cost $2.50 per month in API fees — 20× higher.

Right now Apollo is free to use, but offers a Pro tier with a slew of additional features and fun stuff for a one-time payment of $5, and an Ultra tier with even more for a $13/year subscription. If Reddit goes through with this API pricing, Apollo’s free and Pro tiers would be unsustainable, and the Ultra subscription would have to cost at least $50 or $60 per year.

Matt Birchler on Apple and Gaming 

Matt Birchler:

I would not be surprised if No Man’s Sky releases for Apple’s VR headset on day one, and it gets lots of press as it will likely be one of the few games there at launch, but I don’t think it’s an indication of Apple really “getting” gaming in a meaningful way.

Personally, I just don’t think Apple has it in them to get high end gaming to click on their platforms. Yes, they make a ton of money on iOS games, but poke your head into the App Store top charts and you can pretty clearly see they’re making that money on shitty free-to-play games that rely on whales to spend absurd amounts of money on gems and tokens and whatever else.

Let’s put aside revenue as a measure of a platform’s success in gaming — the free-to-play phenomenon skews that. But even putting aside money as a measuring stick, it’s clear that the iPhone is the premier mobile gaming platform. There are way more good iPhone-only games than Android-only ones. Are there any good Android exclusive games at all?

The question is: will Apple’s XR platform be like the Mac and Apple TV, where gaming is an afterthought, or will it be like iOS? I wouldn’t bet on the headset turning Apple into a top-tier platform for immersive VR games, but I wouldn’t bet against it either. It’s a chance to start fresh.

The opportunity is massive: PC and console gaming is considered more “serious” than mobile gaming not just because the games are bigger and the devices more powerful, but because you play them on bigger screens. Nintendo’s Switch proves that — the Switch is way less powerful than any recent iPhone, but way more “serious” because you can play it on your TV. (And yes, of course, because Nintendo’s first-party titles are unique and extraordinarily good.)

VR gaming has the potential to be far more immersive than anything you play on a TV or PC monitor. Someone will crack that nut eventually.

Bally Sports Fails to Pay the San Diego Padres, Loses Broadcast Rights 

Alden Gonzalez, reporting for ESPN:

Diamond Sports Group has decided not to pay the San Diego Padres their latest rights fee, a monumental development that will revert the team’s broadcasting rights to Major League Baseball and establish precedent for an uncertain, rapidly evolving landscape.

Diamond, the Sinclair subsidiary that operates under the name Bally Sports, skipped its payment to the Padres a couple of weeks ago and had until the end of its grace period on Tuesday to make the team whole and maintain their long-term agreement. Choosing not to meant Tuesday’s game against the Miami Marlins was the last Padres game under the Bally Sports umbrella. Moving forward — starting Wednesday, continuing through the end of the season and resuming in perpetuity — MLB will air Padres games through its streaming service and on different cable channels.

The regional sports network collapse draws nigh. Jason Snell:

It sure feels like a milestone moment in the future of sports broadcasting — and the unwinding of the exclusivity of cable TV for sports broadcasting.

‘Boycott Target’ Song Tops iTunes Charts 

Shannon Thaler, reporting for The New York Post:

Staunch alt-right rapper Forgiato Blow is topping iTunes charts with his new song, “Boycott Target,” but claims Apple’s censorship is “keeping it off the radar.” The song — featuring fellow rappers Jimmy Levy, Nick Nittoli and Stoney Dudebro — was released on May 25 in response to Target’s Pride-themed clothing for children. [...]

The track has hit No. 1 on iTunes’ most popular chart across all genres, and sits above songs by Taylor Swift and Luke Combs that are in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively.

Speaking of signs of rising fascism in the U.S. This is so goofy I thought it was a parody (“Stoney Dudebro”?), but it’s not.

Forbes: TikTok Creators’ Private Financial Information Stored in China 

Alexandra S. Levine, reporting for Forbes:

Over the past several years, thousands of TikTok creators and businesses around the world have given the company sensitive financial information — including their social security numbers and tax IDs — so that they can be paid by the platform. But unbeknownst to many of them, TikTok has stored that personal financial information on servers in China that are accessible by employees there, Forbes has learned.

TikTok uses various internal tools and databases from its Beijing-based parent ByteDance to manage payments to creators who earn money through the app, including many of its biggest stars in the United States and Europe. The same tools are used to pay outside vendors and small businesses working with TikTok. But a trove of records obtained by Forbes from multiple sources across different parts of the company reveals that highly sensitive financial and personal information about those prized users and third parties has been stored in China. The discovery also raises questions about whether employees who are not authorized to access that data have been able to. It draws on internal communications, audio recordings, videos, screenshots, documents marked “Privileged and Confidential,” and several people familiar with the matter.

In testimony before Congress earlier this year, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew claimed U.S. user data has been stored on physical servers outside China. “American data has always been stored in Virginia and Singapore in the past, and access of this is on an as-required basis by our engineers globally,” he said under oath at a House hearing in March.

TikTok should be banned in the United States, and Chew should be charged with perjury. This is not complicated.

WSJ: ‘Why You’re Losing More to Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip’ 

Katherine Sayre, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+):

Blackjack, a fast-paced card game, historically paid out a ratio of 3:2 when a player hit 21 on the first two cards. That means a gambler wins $15 for every $10 bet. Now, many blackjack tables on the Strip pay out at 6:5, which means that same $10 yields only $12.

John and Kristina Mehaffey, owners of gambling-news and data company Vegas Advantage, have been cataloging these changes since 2011, walking miles-long routes through casinos to record the number of blackjack and roulette tables set outside of VIP areas.

According to the Mehaffeys’ data, more than two-thirds of blackjack tables on the Strip currently offer 6:5 payouts, as opposed to 3:2.

6:5 blackjack should be illegal. I mean that. I don’t understand what the gambling regulators in Nevada are doing that this is permissible. What I’ve seen in recent years is that all of the lower-limit tables have 6:5 payouts, and to get real blackjack, with 3:2 payouts, you need to play at tables with $50 minimums, sometimes $100 on weekends.

Update: My own home state of Pennsylvania mandates 3:2 blackjack payouts by law. Who would ever have thought you’d get a better legal game of blackjack in Philadelphia than in Las Vegas?

Spotting and Fighting Fascism in America 

Heather Cox Richardson:

Beginning in 1943, the War Department published a series of pamphlets for U.S. Army personnel in the European theater of World War II. Titled Army Talks, the series was designed “to help [the personnel] become better-informed men and women and therefore better soldiers.” On March 24, 1945, the topic for the week was “FASCISM!” [...]

The War Department thought it was important for Americans to understand the tactics fascists would use to take power in the United States. They would try to gain power “under the guise of ‘super-patriotism’ and ‘super-Americanism.’” And they would use three techniques:

First, they would pit religious, racial, and economic groups against one another to break down national unity. Part of that effort to divide and conquer would be a “well-planned ‘hate campaign’ against minority races, religions, and other groups.”

Second, they would deny any need for international cooperation, because that would fly in the face of their insistence that their supporters were better than everyone else. “In place of international cooperation, the fascists seek to substitute a perverted sort of ultra-nationalism which tells their people that they are the only people in the world who count. With this goes hatred and suspicion toward the people of all other nations.”

Third, fascists would insist that “the world has but two choices — either fascism or communism, and they label as ‘communists’ everyone who refuses to support them.”

It’s downright spooky how this pamphlet from 80 years ago describes Trumpism and the MAGA movement to a T. Here’s the original pamphlet. (Via Kottke.)

iCloud’s ‘My Photo Stream’ Feature Is Shutting Down This Summer 

Stephen Hackett, writing at 512 Pixels:

Photo Stream is one of the original components of iCloud, and was kept around even after iCloud Photo Library launched in 2014. Here’s how Apple pitched the feature when iCloud was new.

Michael Tsai:

You can see why they are consolidating on iCloud Photos, but Photo Stream had some appealing features that will be lost. First, you could backup/sync an unlimited amount of data (for a limited time). There was no need to worry about upgrading your account temporarily or having photo storage crowd out storage for other apps. Second, you could access recent photos and videos on all devices without having to store everything in the cloud.

Web Roulette – A Swipeable Randomized Web Browser 

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

If mindlessly browsing the internet is your preferred way to combat boredom and waste time, the indie app makers behind to-do list app Clear and game Heads Up have a new product you’ll want to try: Web Roulette, a mobile web browser app for iOS built for the short attention spans of the TikTok era. With the debut version out now, you can add your favorite websites or choose from its suggestions, then swipe through the sites to see what’s new or shake the app for a surprise webpage when boredom strikes.

The team says the idea initially struck them as something of a joke. But they soon realized the idea of a ‘swipeable,’ shakable web browser that delivered our daily hits of dopamine may actually have merit.

“I mean, this is actually how I spend much of my time browsing the web — I bounce back and forth mindlessly and semi-randomly between my favorite sites, hoping for something fresh. Maybe there’s something here?,” explains Impending founder and designer Phill Ryu.

I’ve been beta testing Web Roulette for a week or two and it’s just plain dumb fun. In the early days of the App Store (and before that, the early days of the web), it was common for people to come up with a dumb fun idea that could be made in a week or two. Web Roulette exemplifies that ethos. It’s not useful, per se, but it’s not useless either. But it’s mainly just fun. I’m so glad to see that coming back.

See also: This fun launch video on TikTok — interrupted by a special guest. And this tweet with a sketch of the team’s original concept. I love comparing “here’s the napkin sketch of the original idea” to the shipping product.

‘Lisa’s Final Act 

Trailer for a new documentary from The Verge:

Sabotage, hired goons, and a landfill in Utah: this is a story about the life, death, and afterlife of Apple’s most pioneering computer, the Lisa. A major inspiration for the Macintosh, Steve Jobs championed the Lisa, then turned against it. In Lisa’s Final Act, The Verge unearths a new spin on this tale. We discover the outsider who gave the maligned computer another chance… before Apple closed the door on the Lisa forever.

Full documentary debuts tomorrow.

Update: Right on schedule, the full 30-minute documentary is out.

‘Succession’ Finale 

Alan Sepinwall, writing for Rolling Stone:

A lot happens over the course of the 90-minute Succession series finale, “With Open Eyes.” Alliances are made, broken, and made again. Votes happen, fortunes rise and fall, losers become winners, and vice versa.

For all intents and purposes, though, the only part that matters is a five-minute sequence toward the end.

I’m always wary of recency bias, but at the moment I’d put Succession in the hall of fame for the best TV shows ever. Four great seasons, a rich ensemble of vivid memorable characters, never a bad episode, and a truly great finale.

See also: Sepinwall’s ranking of the top 25 characters on Succession, from least to most despicable.

The Talk Show: ‘One True HIG’ 

Neil Jhaveri, founder and lead developer of Mimestream, the terrific new native Mac email client for Gmail, joins the show to talk about email, Mac apps, and indie software development.

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Adam Engst: ‘Why I Use Mimestream for Gmail’ 

Adam Engst, writing at TidBITS:

Where Mimestream shines is in its attention to visual form and functional detail — the small interface elements and features that make working with email feel familiar, fluid, and fast. I spend hours per day in email, and while I’m willing to tweak my working habits slightly to match what an app can do, I prefer it to accommodate my idiosyncrasies.

For instance, I seldom delete messages. My Google account has plenty of space, and Gmail’s performance doesn’t degrade with massive email stores, so I prefer to keep everything for posterity and focus my attention on unread and starred messages. So it’s vital that my email client supports that approach rather than pushing its own concept of Inbox Zero or whatever philosophy it might have.

I can’t predict what refinements and affordances will make working with your email a joy, so I want to share some of what I find compelling about Mimestream. Many of these aren’t unique, they’re just very well done, and the result is that using Mimestream feels like driving a well-engineered automobile instead of a low-end car that feels like it was assembled from cheap, off-the-shelf components.


My thanks to Kolide for their continuing sponsorship support here at DF — they sponsored Daring Fireball last week, and they were the presenting sponsor at this year’s The Talk Show Live From WWDC. They’re a great company with a great product.

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

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

WordPress Turns 20 

It’s funny what gains traction for the long haul, and what turns out, in hindsight, to be a flash in the pan. I, for one, never would have predicted that WordPress would grow to become, by far, the most popular CMS in the world, and the foundation of a thriving company whose primary goal is making the web a better platform.

Mimestream 1.0 

After a few years in public beta, Mimestream 1.0 is out, and it’s fantastic. Mimestream is a Mac email client specifically for Gmail. They’ve got plans to expand to iOS, and plans to perhaps expand to IMAP (and JMAP) email accounts in the future, but as it stands today, Mimestream does one thing and does it incredibly well: it’s a true Mac app for Gmail. It’s both a great Mac app and a great Gmail client. $5/month or $50/year, with a two-week free trial.

Jason Snell:

Apple Mail is free. Gmail in a browser window is free. But after two years with Mimestream, I couldn’t put down my credit card fast enough.

Mona: Mastodon Client for Mac and iOS 

I quipped yesterday that I thought Ivory for Mac wasn’t just the best Mac Mastodon client, but the only good one. A bunch of readers chimed in to endorse Mona, by Junyu Kuang, as a good Mac client. I had tried Mona a while back, and found it lacking in numerous ways on the Mac, but I took another look yesterday and my readers are correct: it’s a very solid Mac client now. Free to try, $10 to go “pro” on any one platform (Mac, iPhone, iPad), and just $16 to go pro on all three. Those are introductory prices that are going up on June 1.

Platformer: ‘Inside Twitter’s Failed Space Launch’ 

Zoë Schiffer and Casey Newton, reporting for Platformer:

Spaces are hosted on Twitter’s own servers and servers rented from Amazon Web Services. AWS servers for Spaces are “insanely underprovisioned” relative to the need for them, according to a former employee who worked on the project.

On Wednesday, the lack of servers led to a predictable series of cascading failures. In the run-up to the event, engineers expected that Spaces would be able to accommodate hundreds of thousands of users. But too many people joined the first stream simultaneously, and the app kept crashing as a result.

Musk’s own Twitter app crashed repeatedly during the event, we’re told. Musk, who uses the employee-only build of the app known as Earlybird, was said to be furious afterward.

I’m sure he was.

Inside the largest Slack and Discord channels of former tweeps, the mood after DeSantis’ botched announcement was nothing short of jubilant.

I’m sure it was.

Texas Monthly Profiles Tapbots Founders Paul Haddad and Mark Jardine 

Speaking of Tapbots, here’s Andrew Logan writing for Texas Monthly:

Amir Shevat, Twitter’s former head of product for the developer platform, who lives in Round Rock, was responsible for ensuring that the tools Twitter provided independent software developers using the platform met their needs. He said about 17 percent of engagement on Twitter, historically, was through third-party apps, which played a vital role in defining Twitter’s identity.

To my knowledge no one at (or formerly at) Twitter has ever revealed that before. Obviously the overwhelming number of Twitter users only ever used Twitter’s own first-party clients. The reason third-party clients were so important to Twitter, though, is that Twitter power users were drawn to them.

Jardine said he has received positive feedback on the initial launch of Ivory, which he admits was released without all the features he wanted to include. Users being excited about his work is uplifting, he said. But that’s not what entirely motivates him. “Without [Ivory], we have no business,” Jardine said. “There’s a lot of pressure riding on it.”

Despite the pressure, Haddad seems to be thriving in this brave new world. “I’m not at the whims of a dictator anymore,” he said.

Amen to that.

Ivory for Mac 

Now shipping in the Mac App Store: Tapbots’s Ivory for Mac. I’ve been using it in beta for a few months, and don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s not just the best Mac Mastodon client, it’s the only good one that exists. $15/year just for the Mac client, but the real deal is Ivory’s $25/year “universal” subscription for Ivory across both MacOS and iOS.

Ivory for Mac is written using Catalyst, but it by no means is just Ivory for iPad with a few tweaks. (If that’s what it were, Tapbots could have shipped it months ago, when Ivory for iPhone and iPad shipped.) Ivory for Mac is a Mac app. But, numerous Catalyst-isms show through. System-wide Services menu items don’t work. Smart punctuation (automatic curly quotes and proper em-dashes when you type two hyphens) only work when you type slowly. Some views scroll via standard keyboard shortcuts (space/shift-space, Page Up/Page Down), but some don’t. A lot of these are things that I consider shortcomings in Apple’s Catalyst framework — the whole point of Cocoa from 20+ years ago is that standard controls get standard behavior out of the box, relieving developers from the drudgery of making simple expected platform-standard features work. Catalyst isn’t like that — or at least isn’t like that yet.

But this is Ivory for Mac 1.0. Progress during beta testing was steady, and knowing Tapbots’s high standards, I’m quite sure will continue to be. And on the whole, Ivory for Mac as it stands today is not just a glass of ice water in hell, it’s a whole pitcher. If you use Mastodon on a Mac, you’re nuts if you don’t try Ivory.

See also: John Voorhees’s review at MacStories.

Tetris on a Chicken McNugget 

There hasn’t been a decent Tetris game for the Mac in decades, but now you can play it on a Chicken McNugget. What a world. (Via Kottke.)

Discord Adds Support for Markdown 

I hate to complain as Markdown continues its march to world domination,* but it’s really dumb that Discord added syntax for underlining (and ugly syntax at that). The only reason underlining should be used today, in any context, is to indicate hyperlinks. Any other use of underlining should be considered a typographical faux pas.

* Where by hate I of course mean love.

‘DeSantis Blows Up on the Launch Pad’ 

Taegan Goddard, writing at Political Wire on Ron DeSantis’s much-ballyhooed campaign launch on Twitter Spaces yesterday:

In the end, the event had all of the appeal of a glitchy conference call.

Politics aside, the event was humiliating for Elon Musk and Twitter. The space crashed on the server side several times, and it crashed the Twitter app on my iPhone at least 6 or 7 times. And even when it finally got going, the audio quality was terrible.

Bungie Teases the Return of Marathon 

There were hints about this last fall, but now it’s official: Bungie is reviving Marathon:

Marathon is currently in development for playstation 5, xbox series x/s, and pc with full cross play and cross save.

This news either evokes some strong feelings and memories, or you were not a Mac gamer in the ’90s. I get it, but it seems downright criminal that the Mac isn’t on their platform list.

2023 Apple Design Award Finalists 

Always an interesting perusal. Apps on my iPhone that made the list: Flighty, Camo, and Knotwords. Oh, and Universe — a very ambitious website/store builder for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Steve Jobs Demos the Macintosh for Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf at Sean Lennon’s 9th Birthday Party in 1984 

If I’ve seen these snapshots before, I’d forgotten them. Extraordinary how casual they are, sitting on the floor in a cramped bedroom like teenagers. Nice find from the gang at Poolsuite. (Andy Hertzfeld tells a bit of the backstory to this in “A Mac for Mick” at his Folklore site.)

Tickets for The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2023 

On sale now:

Location: The California Theatre, San Jose
Showtime: Wednesday, 7 June 2023, 5 pm PT (Doors open 4 pm)
Special Guest(s): Yes
Discount Student Ticket Pricing: Available

Video of the show will, of course, be published at the end of the week, but will not be livestreamed. If you want to watch live, be there or be square. I am, I will admit, nervous — I am anything but a natural stage performer — but so very excited to be back in the big theater for the first time in four years. (!) It’s a beautiful space, and I do so enjoy meeting the readers and listeners who attend. The enthusiasm from the audience is always palpable, and so energizing. All year long, as I write and record podcasts, I know I have a big audience out there. But man, when I walk out on stage at the WWDC live show, I can feel it. It’s quite a thing.

I can’t wait to see you there. Should be a good one this year, too.

Adobe Adds AI Generative Fill to Photoshop 

Pam Clark, writing for the Adobe Blog:

We are thrilled to announce that the Photoshop (beta) app has released Generative Fill, the world’s first co-pilot in creative and design workflows, giving users a magical new way to work. Generative Fill is powered by Adobe Firefly, Adobe’s family of creative generative AI models. Starting today, Photoshop subscribers can create extraordinary imagery from a simple text prompt.

This brings two imaging powerhouses together — Photoshop and generative AI, enabling you to generate content from inside Photoshop with a text prompt and edit it with Photoshop’s comprehensive range of tools to create extraordinary results.

“Extraordinary” is no exaggeration. Just amazing stuff.

See also: This 5-minute video on Adobe’s YouTube channel, and this thread on Twitter from Adobe’s Scott Belsky.

More see also: Rands gets some mind-blowing results in 30 seconds; a mind-blowing 18-minute tour of the feature on YouTube by Aaron Nace at Phlearn.

The Verge: The 5 Biggest Announcements at Microsoft Build 2023 

All five items on The Verge’s list are AI-related, topped by an AI-powered personal assistant (named Copilot, natch) built into the Windows 11 task bar.

How many AI announcements will Apple have at WWDC?

CNN Fucked Around With Trump’s Town Hall, Now Finding Out 

CNN — now owned by Warner “Bros” Discovery, who, as I’ve mentioned, are morons — is learning the same thing as Twitter: there’s no mainstream audience for right-wing media, and no mainstream tolerance for insurrectionists or their sympathizers. Two weeks ago they embarrassed themselves by handing over a prime time hour of TV to Donald Trump. WBD CEO (and Biff-Tannen-in-glasses lookalike) David Zaslav bragged, “Republicans are back on the air.”

Now, reports Justin Baragona at The Daily Beast:

More than a week after CNN’s disastrous town hall with former President Donald Trump, the negative impact the fiasco had on the network’s ratings is coming into clearer focus. Last week, the cable news pioneer suffered its lowest-rated week since June 2015, averaging just 429,000 total daily viewers from Monday-Friday. CNN was also down double digits compared to the same week last year in both total viewership and in the key advertising demographic of viewers ages 25-54. MSNBC more than doubled CNN’s daily audience, drawing 976,000 total viewers, while Fox News averaged 1.4 million. [...]

Since the town hall, CNN has seen several of its weeknight hours — including Anderson Cooper — fall behind Newsmax, the fringe-right channel that has surged since Carlson’s ouster. And on Friday night, the channel’s much-hyped interview show hosted by Chris Wallace averaged only 224,000 total viewers at 10 p.m., drawing 60,000 fewer viewers than Newsmax’s offering.

Losing to Newsmax. Jiminy.

Charlie Warzel: ‘Twitter Is a Far-Right Social Network’ 

Charlie Warzel, writing for The Atlantic:

Twitter has so fully assumed the role of a far-right platform that it might be killing its competitors. When Parler shut down in April, its parent company noted that “no reasonable person believes that a Twitter clone just for conservatives is a viable business any more.” Left unspoken is the reason: Twitter has become a right-wing echo chamber.

If Musk weren’t too preoccupied lapping up approval from trolls, reactionaries, and Dogecoin enthusiasts — a few of the constituencies left on his site that still seem to adore him — the Parler statement should worry him. Right-wing alt-tech platforms may attract investors and a flood of indignant new users with persecution complexes, but they are, ultimately, bad businesses.

A fairer headline would be “Twitter Is a Far-Right-Friendly Social Network”, but that’s enough to be a problem.

I still check in on Twitter, but with each passing week, less and less. It’s not fun, it’s hard to use without Tweetbot, and the new algorithm that puts paying Twitter Blue users’ replies at the top of every thread has ruined political Twitter. It’s like letting people suffering from incontinence try on all the pants in a store before anyone else.

And the right-wing veer is most obvious in the ads that I see. (And I now see a lot of them — one every 3–4 posts.) Almost all of them are for no-name gimmicks and gadgets, the sort of crap that used to be sold at the mall at Spencer Gifts or in the middle of the night on cable TV commercials.

One of the few exceptions I see is Apple, which continues to place ads on Twitter.

The Talk Show: ‘No False Humidity’ 

Special guest: Jason Snell. Topics: Headset, headseat, headset. And no baseball talk other than how games might look in VR. Also: Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad, and GM’s dumb decision to drop CarPlay.

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Today Is the Launch of Max, and It Sucks Even More Than I Thought It Would 

Sigmund Judge, on Twitter:

Max launches today, and with it brings yet another chapter in the battle between Warner/Discovery executives and Apple TV customers.

@StreamOnMax switches away from Apple’s native video player in the continued pursuit of creating an inferior product...

I told you these Warner “Bros” Discovery executives are morons. On all the good platforms, you have to install an altogether new app. Why not just update the existing HBO Max app with (yet another) a new name and icon? Because they’re morons. (Even better: when I launch the old HBO Max app on my Apple TV, it doesn’t tell me anything about the new app — it just shows an error screen saying “Something went wrong.”)

This much moronity I expected. But it gets worse. As Judge documents, with the new app they’ve once again dropped tvOS’s excellent native video player for a custom video player that utterly sucks: “up next” support in the TV app is now broken or missing, HDR and frame-rate match are gone, the new video player doesn’t support the Siri remote’s jog support, no picture-in-picture, and no support for the wonderful “What did they just say?” feature (speak that to your Siri remote and the video jumps back 10 seconds or so and temporarily enables subtitles).

HBO Max was a really good tvOS app. Max is a poor one.

YouTube Pitching Advertisers on Unskippable 30-Second Ads for TV Content 

Todd Spangler, reporting for Variety:

YouTube’s biggest ad innovation for 2023? It might be borrowing a well-worn page from old-fashioned linear TV.

At the YouTube Brandcast upfront event Wednesday in New York, execs announced the introduction of 30-second unskippable ads in top-performing YouTube content on TVs — you know, just like the commercials that have run on broadcast and cable networks for decades. YouTube also will start testing new “Pause Experiences” for YouTube on TV screens, showing an ad when viewers pause a video akin to the pause ads Hulu first bowed four years ago.

I bring this up on my podcast often, but it never ceases to depress me that 20 years ago, when TV-watching first became computerized through DVRs like TiVo and ReplayTV, one of the primary selling points was the ability to fast-forward through commercials. Computers made watching TV not just a little better, but a lot better. That’s what computers can do. That’s why we love them.

Now though, in the streaming era, more and more we’re seeing streaming apps making commercials unskippable. They’re making TV watching not just worse but a lot worse. That’s also what computers can do. That’s why we hate them.

No surprise which side of this Google is on.

Save the Date: The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2023 

Location: The California Theatre, San Jose
Showtime: Wednesday, 7 June 2023, 5:00 pm PT
Tickets: First batch goes on sale Tuesday 23 May
Special Guest(s): For me to know and you to find out
Previous Shows: On YouTube

(Next batch will go on sale later in the week.)

Leaked EU Document Shows Spain Wants to Ban End-to-End Encryption; Other EU Countries Hanging Their Hopes on Impossible Solutions 


Spain has advocated banning encryption for hundreds of millions of people within the European Union, according to a leaked document obtained by Wired that reveals strong support among EU member states for proposals to scan private messages for illegal content.

The document, a European Council survey of member countries’ views on encryption regulation, offered officials’ behind-the-scenes opinions on how to craft a highly controversial law to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in Europe. The proposed law would require tech companies to scan their platforms, including users’ private messages, to find illegal material. However, the proposal from Ylva Johansson, the EU commissioner in charge of home affairs, has drawn ire from cryptographers, technologists, and privacy advocates for its potential impact on end-to-end encryption. [...]

Of the 20 EU countries represented in the document leaked to WIRED, the majority said they are in favor of some form of scanning of encrypted messages, with Spain’s position emerging as the most extreme. “Ideally, in our view, it would be desirable to legislatively prevent EU-based service providers from implementing end-to-end encryption,” Spanish representatives said in the document.

If the EU goes ahead with this, I think it means the end of services like WhatsApp, Signal, and iMessage in the EU. There’s no way to architect a messaging system that uses E2EE in some regions and doesn’t in others. The only way to comply would be to rearchitect these systems to not use E2EE anywhere. Signal certainly wouldn’t do that. Apple wouldn’t either.

Denmark and Ireland expressed support for scanning encrypted messengers for child sexual abuse material while also endorsing the inclusion of wording in the law that protects end-to-end encryption from being weakened. The ability to do this would rely on the invention of technology that can scan encrypted messages for illegal content without altering or breaking the security features offered by encryption — a feat cryptographers and cybersecurity experts have said is technically impossible.

It is technically impossible. There is no he-said/she-said debate here. The cryptographers are correct and the lawmakers are so ignorant that they’re proposing a fantasy. It’s a downwind effect of Arthur C. Clarke’s famous maxim that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic: the technology of E2EE is so far above the heads of lawmakers and law enforcement officials that they feel free to demand magic solutions. “Just nerd harder.”

The Netherlands, however, stated that this would be possible through “on-device” scanning before the illegal material is encrypted and sent to its recipient. “There are … technologies which may allow for automatic detection of CSAM while at the same time leaving end-to-end encryption intact,” the country’s representatives stated in the document.

Somewhere in Cupertino, a head bangs against a desk.

Facebook Fined $1.3 Billion for Violating EU Data Privacy Rules 

Adam Satariano, reporting for The New York Times:

Meta on Monday was fined a record 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) and ordered to stop transferring data collected from Facebook users in Europe to the United States, in a major ruling against the social media company for violating European Union data protection rules.

The penalty, announced by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, is potentially one of the most consequential in the five years since the European Union enacted the landmark data privacy law known as the General Data Protection Regulation. Regulators said the company failed to comply with a 2020 decision by the European Union’s highest court that Facebook data shipped across the Atlantic was not sufficiently protected from American spy agencies.

But it remains unclear if or when Meta will ever need to cordon off the data of Facebook users in Europe. Meta said it would appeal the decision, setting up a potentially lengthy legal process.

A billion here, a billion there, and soon enough you’re talking about real money.

Neeva, Upstart Search Engine, Shuts Down 

Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vivek Raghunathan, writing on the Neeva blog:

In early 2022, the upcoming impact of generative AI and LLMs became clear to us. We embarked on an ambitious effort to seamlessly blend LLMs into our search stack. We rallied the Neeva team around the vision to create an answer engine. We are proud of being the first search engine to provide cited, real-time AI answers to a majority of queries early this year.

But throughout this journey, we’ve discovered that it is one thing to build a search engine, and an entirely different thing to convince regular users of the need to switch to a better choice. From the unnecessary friction required to change default search settings, to the challenges in helping people understand the difference between a search engine and a browser, acquiring users has been really hard. Contrary to popular belief, convincing users to pay for a better experience was actually a less difficult problem compared to getting them to try a new search engine in the first place.

I tried Neeva, briefly, but it never stuck for me. Part of the problem, even if you’re open to trying new search engines — clearly a big if — is that there’s a bit of a renaissance at the moment in new search engines. I’d been using DuckDuckGo as my default for years, but about six months ago I switched to Kagi, and so far I haven’t looked back. I pay $10/month for Kagi. A paid search engine! Good search results and absolutely zero clutter from ads or paid placement. They’ve also got a GPT-backed search that includes up-to-date results and works very fast.

A Twitter Bug Is Restoring ‘Deleted’ Tweets and Retweets 

James Vincent, writing at The Verge:

Earlier this year on the 8th of May I deleted all my tweets, just under 5,000 of them. I know the exact day because I tweeted about it.

This morning, though, I discovered that Twitter has restored a handful of my old re-tweets; interactions I know I scrubbed from my profile. Those re-tweets were gone. I remember surveying my bare timeline with satisfaction before thinking, “great, time to draw attention to myself.” But now they’re back. You can see them by scrolling down my timeline past May 8th, with even more appearing if you select “tweets with replies.”

Twitter is far from alone being a service where “deletion” needs dick quotes around it. This bug is bad and likely will soon be fixed, but the persistence of ostensibly deleted tweets is a profound design flaw.

(The nightmare scenario: a bug that exposes DMs — which infamously are not encrypted — publicly.)

Leaks Regarding Instagram’s Purportedly Imminent Twitter-Like App 

Lia Haberman, writing at ICYMI:

Codename: P92, Project 92 or Barcelona, as it’s been alternately called.

Tagline: “Instagram for your thoughts.”

All new details have surfaced based on secret calls Meta has been having with select creators, hinting at a potential release in late June. Here’s what I’ve been told by a creator who met with Meta.

The decentralized app is built on the back of Instagram but will be compatible with some other apps like Mastodon:

  • There’s a single sign-on with your IG username and password
  • You can sync up with your existing followers
  • Your handle, bio and even verification will carry over from IG
  • Users on other apps will be able search for, follow and interact with your profile and content

Sounds like it’s ActivityPub-compatible, which is how it will be possible to federate with Mastodon instances.

Recommended: ‘Chimp Empire’ 

Chimp Empire is a four-part (an hour-ish each) documentary about two rival chimpanzee groups in Uganda. It’s one of the best, most enjoyable, most engaging, and most informative cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. My wife and I devoured it. It’s extraordinarily beautiful and compelling. It’s a story about two warring groups, replete with interesting characters and compelling drama. Scheming, backstabbing, loyalty, social climbing, bravery, cowardice. It’s all there.

The question my wife and I kept asking ourselves was, How the hell did they capture this remarkable footage? It couldn’t be fake, but it seemed utterly impossible how close the camera crews got to the chimps — including while the two tribes fight. Netflix has a behind-the-scenes video and story that explains how this was even possible:

While it would normally be impossible to capture the intimacy of warring chimps in the wild, the filmmakers benefited from an environment long marked by human activity — thanks to a constant swarm of researchers. “It took 25 years to reach the point where we can walk out and be near the chimps. We’re humans, so the chimps just see us as an extension of the presence that’s been in the forest for years,” Reed told Netflix.

This familiarity allowed the camera crew to capture Chimp Empire’s most stunning scenes. But up-close encounters were still just as bizarre as you might expect.

“I remember suddenly being aware that the Ngogo chimps were all around. It’s like being on The Truman Show or something — you feel like you’re on a set, because you can’t quite believe they’re real,” Reed said. “They’re so human, you know that they’re assessing you in the same way that you’re assessing them. You can’t quite believe that they accept you into their world. You go where they go, but they make all the decisions. The only thing you can control is where you turn your cameras, or whether you keep up with the action. It’s quite humbling, and I quite like it. The only thing you can do is put yourself in the best position possible to record what they’re doing.”

If you’ve got Netflix, start watching Chimp Empire tonight. If you don’t have Netflix, sign up for a month just to get Chimp Empire. Just watch it first, then read the behind-the-scenes stuff.

In Transition to Micro-LED, Apple Is Attempting to Reduce Its Reliance on Samsung for Displays 

Lauly Li, reporting for Nikkei Asia:

Apple is getting involved in the mass production of next-generation displays to lessen its reliance on rival Samsung and increase its own control over the supply of a key component, Nikkei Asia has learned. Taking a hands-on approach to production is a stark contrast to the iPhone maker’s usual approach of providing display makers with screen specifications and leaving the actual production to them. [...]

Displays are one of the most expensive components in all of Apple’s devices. Since the American company first introduced OLED displays on its iPhone in 2017, its reliance on Samsung Display for the screens has only grown. To reduce that dependence and gain price-bargaining power, Apple tried to bring in other suppliers, namely LG Display and China’s display champion BOE Technology, but they lag the South Korean leader in terms of technology and quality stability, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.

“Apple has spent at least $1 billion on the R&D and samples for micro-LED technologies in the past nearly 10 years,” said one of the people who has been directly involved in the project for years. “It wants to secure more control over the next-gen display technologies for its future products.”

Apple’s relationship with Samsung is one of the most interesting in all of tech. On the consumer side, Samsung has been Apple’s only serious rival for high-end phones for almost the entirety of the smartphone era. But for certain chips and especially displays, Samsung has been one of Apple’s most essential suppliers. So I think it’s quite obvious why Apple would try to take display development into its own hands. Imagine if Apple had a display technology lead analogous to its performance-per-watt chip technology lead.

From the Cook Doctrine: “We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.”

(I’ve also long wondered how much effort Apple is putting into developing its own camera sensors.)


My thanks to Onin for sponsoring last week at DF. Onin is a free iPhone keyboard app that puts your calendar right in your keyboard. Or is it a calendar app that adds a keyboard? Whichever way you want to look at it, it’s a very clever idea. Most people only add a fraction of their events they work out in a messaging app in their calendar. With Onin, you can check your availability, add new events, and even share invites — right inside any app where you use the keyboard. It works with all your existing calendars (after granting it access), in all your apps, and is end-to-end encrypted.

It’s free and fun — I say check it out.

‘Die of Boils, Mr. Sparky Car’ 

Back in November, David Simon left Twitter and signed off with this exquisite essay:

I know there are many who found neither decorum nor dignity in the blunt ugliness of what for me was very much a bit of decade-long performance art. There I was in the gutter, trading spit and flinging sewage. Well, yes, but it was fun. And if you came correct, we could argue, perhaps even laugh, as many new friends came to understand. But if you came to play, we played. I’m from Baltimore, where The Dozens are an American cultural artform like any other.

An aggrieved bystander once called the act graceless. I readily agreed:

“This is Twitter. There is no grace. None. Here in an orgy of organized disinformation and trollery, our republic has come to die. There is no teaching the fuckmooks and deplorati. Go down swinging. Use every cruel word. Invoke their mothers. Lather them with contempt. Enjoy.”

In need of an outlet while the WGA strike continues, he’s back. (And hell yeah I just invoked “Learn Spelling” on trollery, deplorati, and especially fuckmooks.)

Mark Gurman Recaps His Reporting on Apple’s Upcoming XR Headset and He’s Sticking With the Front-Facing Display for Googly Eyes 

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:*

Other key figures in Apple’s top ranks, such as Craig Federighi, senior vice president for software engineering, have also kept their distance and seemed wary of the headset, according to people familiar with the project. Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president for hardware technologies, has privately been a skeptic, likening it to a science project. Internally he’s warned that building the high-performing chips needed for the device could distract from new iPhone chips, which would probably drive more revenue.

That’s some legitimately juicy gossip. But I’m not sure how Federighi, the head of all software at Apple, could keep any distance at all from Apple’s first major new software platform since the iPhone.

Srouji’s group did end up developing some of Apple’s most advanced chips to date for the headset, while iPhone speed gains have indeed slowed in recent years.

Well of course Srouji’s group developed advanced chips for the headset. Where else would the chips come from? “Well Tim, Johny is skeptical about this project, so I guess we’ll commission all the custom silicon designs from Qualcomm.

And comparing benchmark results for iPhones vs. Android phones, I’d love to know what speed gains have slowed. It seems like nonsense to me. If anything, Apple’s A-series chips are further ahead of the competition than ever in both raw performance and performance-per-watt.

In an attempt to keep headset wearers engaged with the real world, the device will have an outward-facing display showing their eye movements and facial expressions. Apple regards this feature as a key differentiator from enclosed VR headsets. One person familiar with the device says the exterior screens allow people to interact with a headset wearer without feeling as if they’re talking to a robot.

I’ll buy this front-facing display rumor if there’s a Cylon mode.

Otherwise I’ll stick with my previous understanding that this is an internal joke that has been taken as real; that it would look goofy, not humane; and that even if it didn’t look goofy, it would make no sense to add the financial cost of an outward-facing display to an already-expensive device, and even less sense to incur the battery-life drain of powering that external display on an already-battery-life-constrained device.

OpenAI Releases ChatGPT App for iOS 

OpenAI, in a postscript to their iOS app announcement:

P.S. Android users, you’re next! ChatGPT will be coming to your devices soon.

Are Android users next, or are they last? Is there anyone else in line?

Anyway, I guess Fred Wilson isn’t an advisor to OpenAI?

New EU Cryptocurrency Rules Make Exchanges Liable If They Lose Customers’ Assets 

Ashley Belanger, reporting for Ars Technica:

Today, the European Union approved a comprehensive set of cryptocurrency regulations seeking to lay the groundwork for how crypto is regulated globally. The rules — which make providers liable if they lose investors’ crypto assets — will go into effect in 2024 across 27 EU member states.

The EU’s muscular regulation regime finally lands on a worthwhile target.

CNBC: ‘Google to Save Money on Employee Laptops, Services, and Staplers’ 

Jennifer Elias, reporting for CNBC back in early April (sorry — I’m cleaning up old open tabs):

Among the equipment changes, Google is pausing refreshes for laptops, desktop PCs and monitors. It’s also “changing how often equipment is replaced,” according to internal documents viewed by CNBC.

Google employees who are not in engineering roles but require a new laptop will receive a Chromebook by default. Chromebooks are laptops made by Google and use a Google-based operating system called Chrome OS.

It’s a shift from the range of offerings, such as Apple MacBooks, that were previously available to employees. “It also provides the best opportunity across all of our managed devices to prevent external compromise,” one document about the laptop changes said.

Google has this backwards. They should force all their engineers to use Chromebooks, and let everyone else continue using MacBooks. Maybe then they’ll turn ChromeOS into something useable for real work.

Google employees have also noticed some more extreme cutbacks to office supplies in recent weeks. Staplers and tape are no longer being provided to print stations companywide as “part of a cost effectiveness initiative,” according to a separate, internal facilities directive viewed by CNBC.

“We have been asked to pull all tape/dispensers throughout the building,” a San Francisco facility directive stated. “If you need a stapler or tape, the receptionist desk has them to borrow.”

A Google spokesperson said the internal message about staplers and tape was misinformed. “Staplers and tape continue to be provided to print stations. Any internal messages that claim otherwise are misinformed.″

Please tell me they haven’t dismantled the slides.

Disney Pulls Plug on $1 Billion Development in Florida 

Brooks Barnes, reporting for The New York Times:

In March, Disney called Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida “anti-business” for his scorched-earth attempt to tighten oversight of the company’s theme park resort near Orlando. Last month, when Disney sued the governor and his allies for what it called “a targeted campaign of government retaliation,” the company made clear that $17 billion in planned investment in Walt Disney World was on the line.

“Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said on an earnings-related conference call with analysts last week.

On Thursday, Mr. Iger and Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park and consumer products chairman, showed that they were not bluffing, pulling the plug on a nearly $1 billion office complex that was scheduled for construction in Orlando. It would have brought more than 2,000 jobs to the region, with $120,000 as the average salary, according to an estimate from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Vote for Republicans, they’re good for business.

Porsche Adds Support for Apple Maps EV Routing 

Chance Miller, 9to5Mac:

Porsche is signing on to be the second EV maker to officially adopt support for EV routing in Apple Maps. This means that Porsche Taycan drivers can now use Apple Maps via CarPlay, signaling Porsche’s continued commitment to CarPlay as other automakers abandon Apple’s platform.

It’s not other automakers plural. It’s just one: GM.

But I’m sure GM knows better than Porsche.

Follow-Up on GM’s ‘Edsel’ Pipe Dream for Tens of Billions in Annual Services Revenue: Apple Makes Most of Its Services Revenue From the App Store 

In my piece yesterday digging into the numbers on GM’s plan to generate $20–25 billion in annual subscription services revenue by the end of the decade, I originally neglected to mention (but have since added) the single largest source of services revenue for Apple: the App Store. Here’s Kif Leswing reporting for CNBC in January this year:

On Tuesday, Apple said it has paid $320 billion to developers, up from $260 billion as of last year, a jump of $60 billion. Developers receive between 70% and 85% of gross sales, depending on if they qualify for Apple’s reduced rate.

If all developers paid a 30% cut to Apple, Apple’s App Store grossed more than $85 billion in 2022, based on a CNBC analysis. If Apple’s commissions were all 15%, the App Store’s estimated gross would come in lower, around $70 billion.

I’m not quite sure how to square these estimates with Apple’s figures from their quarterly reports — according to Apple’s reports, the company only booked a total of about $80 billion in services revenue for 2022. And we know from the Apple v. Epic lawsuit that 70 percent of App Store revenue comes from gaming.

[Wait wait wait I figured it out: My bad for misreading the numbers (which I think were confusingly described). I mistakenly thought Leswing was saying that Apple’s commissions were $70-85 billion last year. That’s not what he meant and that’s obviously far too high. But the math is really rather simple. $320 billion is the sum of Apple’s cumulative payments to developers from 2008 to 2022. $60 billion is what Apple paid to developers in 2022. Duh. Of course they didn’t pay $320 billion last year alone. So let’s assume that Apple’s average commission from App Store purchases is 25 percent, which seems both fair (given that 70 percent of App Store revenue comes from gaming and in-app purchases carry a 70/30 split) and makes the math really easy for last year. With $60 billion in payments to developers in 2022, Apple’s take was $20 billion. So about one quarter of Apple’s services revenue comes from App Store commissions — that squares perfectly with a common sense estimate. (Also: the fact that almost 20 percent of the App Store’s cumulative revenue was generated last year alone goes to show just how much it’s still growing.)]

How in the world does GM CEO Mary Barra think they’re going to replicate anything like this? Why drop support for the much-liked CarPlay — a feature Apple says 79 percent of new car buyers in the U.S. want — to chase a pipe dream? I can’t put it better than James Dempsey quipped on Mastodon: “It’s like CurrentC, but for cars!”

But it’s even worse than that, because at least the CurrentC consortium’s ill-fated scheme to avoid supporting Apple Pay at brick-and-mortar retail stores came at a time when Apple Pay was nascent. Back in 2014 a survey never would have found that 79 percent of U.S. shoppers wanted Apple Pay support at the register. GM is making this move now, after CarPlay has become both standard and liked by an overwhelming majority of buyers — including GM’s own customers.

Pew Research Center: ‘Majority of U.S. Twitter Users Say They’ve Taken a Break From the Platform in the Past Year’ 

Pew Research Center:

A majority of Americans who have used Twitter in the past year report taking a break from the platform during that time, and a quarter say they are not likely to use it a year from now, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted about five months after billionaire Elon Musk acquired the site.

The saving grace for Twitter might be that people don’t always follow through with what they tell pollsters. They might answer honestly with what they think they’ll do, or should do, but they don’t really know what they will do. Commission a poll in December and ask people how many books they plan to read next year, or how often they plan to hit the gym, for example.

But with that caveat out of the way, this survey is pretty damning. A lot of Twitter users no longer enjoy Twitter, and Twitter is meant for enjoyment. Musk’s only hope is that people will continue using Twitter even if they don’t enjoy it, and I don’t see that happening. Facebook gets away with that to a large extent because so many people feel obligated to use it to stay in touch with family and friends. Twitter doesn’t carry any sense of obligation.

Elon Musk Defends Anti-Soros Tweets in Bananas Interview on CNBC: ‘I’ll Say What I Want’ 


Elon Musk told CNBC’s David Faber on Tuesday that he doesn’t care if his inflammatory tweets scare away potential Tesla buyers or Twitter advertisers. “I’ll say what I want, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it,” said Musk, who owns Twitter. Musk has for years tweeted controversial items, including conspiracy theories and comments his critics have called broadly discriminatory.

His defense came after Musk caught renewed criticism for a tweet in which he likened liberal billionaire and Democratic donor George Soros to X-Men villain Magneto, a Jewish Holocaust survivor.

“He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity,” Musk tweeted Monday.

There are some moments in this video interview that are just cringe-inducing. Even just the awkward pauses. (Faber, to my mind, did a hell of a job — Musk is obviously a very difficult person to interview.) I’m starting to get real Bobby Fischer vibes from Musk — a genius, yes, but descending into conspiratorial hateful madness. But Fischer became a recluse; Musk is one of the most prominent people in the world.

Jason Snell on Final Cut and Logic for iPad 

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

Final Cut Pro for iPad seems to be a subset of the Mac version. You can start on iPad and move to Mac, but the migration won’t work the other way, and a bunch of features from the Mac just aren’t there on the iPad.

This is disappointing. Yes, the lack of feature parity is unfortunate — but perhaps a bit understandable? But as someone who rarely uses those pro-level features, it’s also frustrating to realize that even my simple projects won’t be portable in case I need to leave home and run off somewhere with an iPad.

Logic Pro users can roundtrip between Mac and iPad, but as Snell points out, not if you’re using any Audio Unit plugins that are Mac-only.

The lack of roundtripping with Final Cut is disappointing, but I agree with Snell that it’s understandable. Presumably, roundtrip support between iPad and Mac is forthcoming, and requires engineering work that isn’t yet finished — either in iPadOS itself or in Final Cut Pro for iPad (or both). But what would we prefer? To wait for months or another year for Final Cut to hit iPad? After waiting this long, Apple wouldn’t release Final Cut for iPad now if they didn’t think it was a viable product as it stands, even without roundtrip project support with the Mac.

Don’t miss my favorite part of Snell’s piece, where he describes how productive he is editing podcasts on iPad with Ferrite Recording Studio because it has rich support for multitouch. It’s a perfect example of Steve Jobs’s guiding maxim for the iPad when he introduced it in 2010: that it needs to be able to do some things better than either the iPhone or Mac.

Drudge Hints That Laura Ingraham Is Next on Fox News’s Shitcan List 

Alex Griffing, writing for Mediaite:

The Drudge Report dropped a siren-blaring scoop on Wednesday announcing an imminent shake-up at Fox News, eventually reporting that Sean Hannity will take over at 8 p.m.

“WORLD EXCLUSIVE: FOXNEWS SETS NEW SCHEDULE” read the headline from Matt Drudge on the highly-trafficked website he founded. Drudge eventually updated that headline to note Hannity’s new gig as well as report both Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld would be heading to prime time.

Watters currently hosts one of Fox’s top-rated shows at 7 p.m. while Gutfeld hosts a highly-rated late-night show at 11 p.m. — both co-host Fox’s top-rated program The Five at 5 p.m. Hannity, meanwhile, broke the record for longest-running cable news prime time host in April of 2022, eclipsing Larry King at 25 years, six months, and 15 days.

“FOXNEWS is preparing to announce an ambitious new schedule, the Drudge Report has learned, a schedule where ever hour of primetime will change!” Drudge reported. “TOP SOURCE TELLS DRUDGE: ‘IT’S OUR BOLDEST AND MOST FEARLESS LINE-UP EVER’…”

Ingraham isn’t mentioned by name, but there are only three prime-time hours, so if they go to Hannity, Watters, and Gutfeld, she’s following Tucker Carlson out the door. Tomorrow will mark six years since Roger Ailes’s death. It feels like Fox News was running on autopilot since then — but the Murdochs have woken from their slumber and are shaking things up.

‘You Either Know or You Don’t Know’ – and Dianne Feinstein Does Not Seem to Know 

Jim Newell, writing for Slate under the headline “A Brief, Concerning Conversation With Dianne Feinstein”:

I asked her how she was feeling.

“Oh, I’m feeling fine. I have a problem with the leg.” A fellow reporter staking out the elevator asked what was wrong with the leg.

“Well, nothing that’s anyone concern but mine,” she said.

When the fellow reporter asked her what the response from her colleagues had been like since her return, though, the conversation took an odd turn.

“No, I haven’t been gone,” she said.


“You should follow the — I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”

When asked whether she meant that she’d been working from home, she turned feisty.

“No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” she said. “Please. You either know or don’t know.”

After deflecting one final question about those, like Rep. Ro Khanna, who’ve called on her to resign, she was wheeled away.

Feinstein’s months-long absence from the Senate has been one of the biggest political stories (and jokes) of the year. Her senescence is truly sad at a personal level, but the U.S. Senate, ostensibly the greatest deliberative body in the history of democracy, is no place for a person who doesn’t know where she’s been for the last three months. Anyone on her staff or in her family who isn’t urging her to resign ought to be ashamed.

Elon Musk Hires New Twitter CEO: NBCUniversal Ad Chief Linda Yaccarino 

Lillian Rizzo, reporting for CNBC:

NBCUniversal global advertising chief Linda Yaccarino has resigned to join Twitter as its next chief executive. Twitter owner Elon Musk confirmed the hire in a tweet Friday.

“I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” Musk tweeted. He said she “will focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design & new technology.”

He added, “Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app.”

I wish Yaccarino luck, truly. But the CEO needs to run the company, and I find it unlikely that she’s going to have that authority with Musk running “product design and new technology”.

Tim Cook is an obvious example of a non-product person who is very successfully leading a product-first company. But while Cook is not a product designer or product visionary, there is zero question within Apple that Cook is the boss. The buck stops at Cook’s desk — including on product decisions.

Sidenote: I noticed about two weeks ago that Musk has largely stopped referring to Twitter by name and instead saying “this platform”. Months ago he changed the name of the holding company from “Twitter Inc.” to “X Corp.”. The fact that he largely refers to it now as “this platform” makes me think he’s going to rename it X sooner rather than later. Seems crazy to me to throw away the Twitter brand name though, so maybe “X” will just be to Twitter what “Meta” is to Facebook and “Alphabet” is to Google. But also: Musk does crazy things. Throwing away the entire Twitter brand would be less crazy than his buying it in the first place.

Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple ‘Well Prepared’ for Headset Announcement at WWDC 

Tim Hardwick, writing for MacRumors:

In a brief report posted to Medium on Monday, Kuo wrote that the headset’s announcement next month “bodes well” for the supply chain share price, with the analyst touching on five of the device’s components that — apart from assembly — represent its “most expensive material costs” in his view.

Those include the 4K micro-OLED displays, dual M2-based processors, the headset casing, 12 optical cameras for tracking hand movements, and the external power supply. These components are being supplied by Sony, TSMC, Everwin Precision, Cowell, and Goretek, respectively.

Pricing on the headset is expected to begin somewhere around $3,000. Perhaps with that in mind, Apple won’t aim it at general consumers to start with, but will instead position it as a device for developers, content creators, and professionals. Apple expects to sell just one headset per day per retail store, and it has told suppliers that it expects sales of seven to 10 million units during the first year of availability.

Kuo doesn’t mention the purported $3,000 price in his report, but a price like that would certainly jibe with an expectation that they might sell only one unit per day per store for this model. One part of me says that’s just crazy expensive for an entertainment gadget. Another part of me says that if it really is going to cost that much, it must be much more than an entertainment device — it must be useful for some forms of work too.

The original Macintosh in 1984 cost $2,500 — inflation-adjusted that’s about $7,500 today. If it’s amazing, $3,000 isn’t absurd.

But I also keep thinking back to rumors that the original iPad was going to start at $1,000, and it instead debuted with an entry price of $500.


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

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

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

Heather Armstrong, Writer of ‘’, Dies of Suicide at 47 

Alex Williams, The New York Times:

Heather Armstrong, an explosively popular web writer and entrepreneur who, with her website Dooce, was hailed as the queen of the so-called mommy bloggers for giving millions of readers intimate glimpses of her joys and challenges in parenthood and marriage, as well as of her harrowing struggles with depression, died on Tuesday at her home in Salt Lake City. She was 47.

Her death was announced on her Instagram channel. Pete Ashdown, her longtime partner, said the cause was suicide. He said he had found her body in the home.

Unspeakably sad. Nothing but love and warm thoughts for her children, family, and friends.

(If you are in crisis, please call, text, or chat with the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. There is hope and there is help.)

Imran Chaudhri’s Humane Demo at TED 

I’m rooting for Humane, but honestly, I just don’t get it from what I see here.

Apple Launches Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad 

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today unveiled Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad. Video and music creators can now unleash their creativity in new ways that are only possible on iPad. Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad bring all-new touch interfaces that allow users to enhance their workflows with the immediacy and intuitiveness of Multi-Touch. Final Cut Pro for iPad introduces a powerful set of tools for video creators to record, edit, finish, and share, all from one portable device. Logic Pro for iPad puts the power of professional music creation in the hands of the creator — no matter where they are — with a complete collection of sophisticated tools for songwriting, beat making, recording, editing, and mixing. Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad will be available on the App Store as subscriptions starting Tuesday, May 23.

Both apps are priced the same: $5/month or $50/year, with a one-month free trial.

We’ve all been waiting for these two apps to come to iPad, and at a glance, both of them look very good. Subscription pricing is interesting, and makes me wonder if the Mac apps are going to switch to that too. And a sidenote, releasing/announcing these apps now makes me think that next month’s WWDC keynote is chockablock with other announcements.


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.

Clarence Thomas Corruption Scandal Gets Worse 

Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, and Alex Mierjeski, reporting for ProPublica:

In 2008, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas decided to send his teenage grandnephew to Hidden Lake Academy, a private boarding school in the foothills of northern Georgia. The boy, Mark Martin, was far from home. For the previous decade, he had lived with the justice and his wife in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Thomas had taken legal custody of Martin when he was 6 years old and had recently told an interviewer he was “raising him as a son.”

Tuition at the boarding school ran more than $6,000 a month. But Thomas did not cover the bill. A bank statement for the school from July 2009, buried in unrelated court filings, shows the source of Martin’s tuition payment for that month: the company of billionaire real estate magnate Harlan Crow. […]

“You can’t be having secret financial arrangements,” said Mark W. Bennett, a retired federal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton. Bennett said he was friendly with Thomas and declined to comment for the record about the specifics of Thomas’ actions. But he said that when he was on the bench, he wouldn’t let his lawyer friends buy him lunch. […]

“This is way outside the norm. This is way in excess of anything I’ve seen,” said Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, referring to the cascade of gifts over the years.

Painter said that when he was at the White House, an official who’d taken what Thomas had would have been fired: “This amount of undisclosed gifts? You’d want to get them out of the government.”

Just breathtaking corruption. And Thomas’s response is basically, “Fuck you.”


May 2023 cover art for Dithering, depicting two girls having fun on a swing set.

Yours truly and Ben Thompson’s podcast — two episodes per week, 15 minutes per episode. Not a minute less, not a minute more. If you’re not listening, you’re missing out. $5/month or $50/year. We’re now in our fourth year, and we’ve had remarkably little churn — people who subscribe to Dithering tend to stay subscribed, which warms my heart. It’s a fun show and everyone loves the enforced brevity and regularity.

Bonus: At the end of March we started a Dithering group in Wavelength, the new private group messaging app I started advising earlier this year. It’s sort of an unofficial perk and an experiment. Subscribers can find the link to join the group in the show notes for each episode. We had no idea how this group would go, but it’s been wild. As of this typing there are over 2,900 members, and activity every day across a wide range of threads. I believe it’s the single largest group on all of Wavelength. (I just tonight told the story there of the piece of shit 2021 Kia Sorento I was bamboozled by Hertz into renting for a road trip to Boston this week, to pick my son up at the end of the college year.) It’s a nice, smart, fun little community.

Ford CEO Jim Farley Seems Very Happy That GM Is Dropping CarPlay 

Great 3-minute clip from Joanna Stern’s interview with Ford CEO Jim Farley at the WSJ’s Future of Everything Festival. She asks him about GM’s plan to drop CarPlay from their future EVs, and Farley starts by saying “Yeah, how about that?” and laughing.

Farley says, “The interior has to be really well done. But in terms of content? We kind of lost that battle 10 years ago. So get real with it, because you’re not going to make a ton of money on content inside the vehicle. It’s going to be safety/security, partial autonomy, and productivity in our eyes. [...] 70 percent of our Ford customers in the U.S. are Apple customers. Why would I go to an Apple customer and say ‘Good luck!’? That doesn’t seem customer centric.”

Farley and Ford have it exactly right. New car buyers, even from mainstream brands like Ford, are overwhelmingly iPhone users — exactly as Apple bragged at WWDC last June, and what iPhone users want in their cars is CarPlay. If anything, Farley is being kind to GM and GM CEO Mary Barra when he says their message to iPhone users is “Good luck” — it’s really more like “Fuck you.” And again, the most telling part of the whole exchange is the way Farley laughs at the start. You really have to hear it — his laugh implies a certain I can’t believe our good fortune that GM is doing this. It’s enough to make you think Mary Barra is a mole from Ford, planted to steer would-be Chevy buyers into Ford dealerships.

If you’re asking how it can be that 70 percent of Ford’s customers are iPhone users when the iPhone has maybe just over 50 percent market share in the U.S., the key is new car buyers. The Android masses are buying used cars, either because they don’t have the budget for a new car or because they don’t care about buying nice things (or both). So even a non-luxury brand like Ford has an overwhelming majority of customers with iPhones.

New York Times Obituary for Katie Cotton 

Richard Sandomir, writing for The New York Times:

Katie Cotton, who as Apple’s longtime communications chief guarded the media’s access to Steve Jobs, the company’s visionary co-founder, and helped organize the introduction of many of his products, died on April 6 in Redwood City, Calif. She was 57.

Her death, in a hospital, was confirmed by Michael Mimeles, her former husband. He did not give a cause but said that she had experienced complications from heart surgery she underwent a few years ago.

Not sure what took a month, but it’s a nice obituary, with quotes from Walt Mossberg, John Markoff, and other writers who covered Apple.

“She was formidable and tough and very protective of both Apple’s brand and Steve, particularly when he got sick,” Walt Mossberg, a former technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, said in a phone interview, referring to Mr. Jobs’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2004. He added: “She was one of the few people he trusted implicitly. He listened to her. She could pull him back from something he intended to do or say.” Mr. Jobs died in 2011 at 56. [...]

“When Steve came back, he didn’t just put key engineers in place,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, said. “He put the right people in place to lead us around the company, and Katie was a big part of that.”

Cotton retired from Apple almost a decade ago, but Apple’s comms still bear her mark. She built a team and a culture.

‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’ Passes $1 Billion in Global Box Office Revenue 

Rebecca Rubin, reporting for Variety:

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is officially the first film of the year to cross the coveted $1 billion milestone at the global box office.

As of Sunday, after 26 days of release, the animated video game adaptation, from Universal, Illumination and Nintendo, has grossed $490 million in North America and $532 million internationally. It’s only the fifth movie of pandemic times to join the $1 billion club, following Spider-Man: No Way Home, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion and Avatar: The Way of Water.

I realize box office numbers like this aren’t inflation-adjusted, but it’s rather incredible — no pun intended — that The Super Mario Bros. Movie has grossed far more than any movie from Pixar (whose list is topped by The Incredibles 2 at $600 million). This is no ding against Pixar, but simply speaks to how valuable and beloved the Nintendo character franchise is worldwide.

What a coup it is for Universal to score this partnership with Nintendo for their theme parks. When comparing Universal’s parks to Disney’s, the gaping hole has always been Disney’s menagerie of beloved characters for kids — Mickey and friends, and an ever-growing list of new characters from new movies (including Pixar’s recent rich library). Universal had jack squat* for toddlers and grade schoolers. Now, they have Super Nintendo World, which like Pixar’s stuff appeals just as much to adults as it does toddlers.

Update: OK, my bad: my original link above was for U.S. domestic box office numbers. Worldwide, Pixar has 4 films that have grossed over a billion: Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4, Toy Story 3, and Finding Dory. My point though isn’t about which movies made the most money, but rather to assert that the Nintendo characters are that big of a deal. And of course it makes a ton of sense that Pixar has a few films in that rarified $1 billion box office stratosphere.

* In Orlando, Universal’s Islands of Adventure park has Seuss Landing, but as much as I adore Seuss’s books, his characters don’t have anything close to the sort of appeal Disney’s and Nintendo’s do. Part of Seuss’s appeal is that his style is slightly creepy. And Universal has let that whole Seuss Landing get sun-bleached over time — it’s looked disregarded, if not almost abandoned, for years.

20 New Games Added to Apple Arcade 

Off the top of my head, my single biggest complaint about Apple today is their role profiting from, and promoting, addictive pay-to-win games in the App Store. Yet simultaneously they’re building up an impressive, wide-ranging library of games that never have any in-app purchases at all with Apple Arcade. For $5/month, Apple Arcade has gone from “a pretty good deal” to “a veritable bargain”.

The Downfall of Brydge 

Chance Miller, reporting for 9to5Mac:

Brydge, a once thriving startup making popular keyboard accessories for iPad, Mac, and Microsoft Surface products, is ceasing operations. According to nearly a dozen former Brydge employees who spoke to 9to5Mac , Brydge has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs within the past year after at least two failed acquisitions.

As it stands today, Brydge employees have not been paid salaries since January. Customers who pre-ordered the company’s most recent product have been left in the dark since then as well. Its website went completely offline earlier this year, and its social media accounts have been silent since then as well.

The whole report is a hell of a read. Impressive original reporting from Miller and his colleagues at 9to5Mac. Here’s just one gut punch among many in the story:

In December, Brydge held its annual Christmas party at a local restaurant. [Co-CEOs] Mander-Jones and Smith had set a budget for the party, the people said, and they stuck to that budget. At the end of the night, one of the CEOs put his card down for the bill. His card was declined, and a Brydge employee paid the bill instead, the people said.

The Union Representing Apple Store Workers in Maryland Wants to Prompt Customers for Tips on Purchases 

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Workers at Apple Inc.’s unionized store in Maryland are asking for higher pay and additional time off, along with changes that could affect the company’s tightly controlled retail experience, such as letting customers tip employees.

The employees, represented by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, are conducting negotiations with Apple on Wednesday and Thursday. Their latest proposal calls for raises of as much as 10%, as well as major changes to the outlet’s vacation policy, bereavement leave and overtime. [...]

The workers’ negotiators also want Apple to adopt a tipping system, letting patrons offer gratuities in increments of 3%, 5% or a custom amount for in-store credit-card transactions.

“This will allow thankful patrons the ability to express gratitude for a job well done without any obligations,” the union wrote Apple. “All monies collected through this manner would be dispersed to members of the bargaining unit biweekly based on any hours worked.”

Higher pay and better vacation/holiday/leave policies are exactly the sort of things the union should ask for.

But this tipping proposal is so antithetical to Apple’s customer-first retail experience that it feels like a joke, or that the union negotiators have never even been in an Apple Store. They might as well ask for employees to be allowed to vape while working. Asking for something like tipping — on very expensive products, no less — plays right into the hands of those who argue that retail store unionization is not aligned with the interests of customers.

Stores that pay employees by commission create an obvious incentive for salespeople to pressure customers into purchasing items they don’t need or aren’t entirely comfortable with. Prompting for tips on retail sales is just a backdoor commission.

Apple Q2 2023 Results 

Jason Snell at Six Colors:

Apple announced its latest quarterly results on Thursday. The company posted $94.8 billion in revenue, down slightly from the year-ago quarter but — at least to my eyes — not down as much as we might have expected.

Mac revenue was, as expected, down 31 percent to $7.2 billion — the lowest quarter of Mac revenue since 2020. iPad was down 13 percent to $6.7 billion, the lowest iPad revenue quarter since 2020. iPhone was up 2 percent to $51.3 billion, which given the downward trend elsewhere was pretty impressive — it was a Q2 record for iPhone revenue.

Services revenue soared to an all-time record of $20.9 billion, up 5 percent. Wearables was down by one percent, to $8.8 billion.

See also: Six Colors’s transcript of Tim Cook’s prepared statement and Apple’s Q&A with analysts. I thought it was interesting which shows and movies from TV+ Cook chose to highlight:

During the past quarter, fans tuned in to incredible new series like “Shrinking” and “The Big Door Prize” and got to welcome “Ted Lasso” back into their homes for a third season. Movies like “Tetris” are captivating viewers with many more to come, including Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” later this year.

Three years since its launch, Apple TV+ programming has been celebrated across the globe with over 1,450 nominations and more than 350 wins. Recently, we were thrilled to cheer on “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse,” which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

This season of our historic 10-year partnership with Major League Soccer is well underway. With MLS Season Pass, we’ve created the ultimate destination for soccer fans, offering subscribers the ability to watch every match with no blackouts. And with baseball season in full swing, Apple TV+ subscribers can watch their favorite teams with a return of Friday Night Baseball.

Sidenote: Two weeks ago IDC projected Mac sales as being down 40 percent year-over-year, which shows how large IDC’s margin of error is.

‘Nice Twitter Handle You Have There. Would Be a Real Shame if Something Happened to It.’ 

Bobby Allyn, reporting for NPR:

In an unprompted Tuesday email, Musk wrote: “So is NPR going to start posting on Twitter again, or should we reassign @NPR to another company?”

Under Twitter’s terms of service, an account’s inactivity is based on logging in, not tweeting. Those rules state that an account must be logged into at least every 30 days, and that “prolonged inactivity” can result in it being permanently removed.

Musk did not answer when asked whether he planned to change the platform’s definition of inactivity and he declined to say what prompted his new questions about NPR’s lack of participation on Twitter.

“Our policy is to recycle handles that are definitively dormant,” Musk wrote in another email. “Same policy applies to all accounts. No special treatment for NPR.”

This is a shakedown, pure and simple. What a message to big brands and celebrities: stop posting to Twitter and they’ll reassign your longstanding username.

It’s bizarre that Musk thinks this might prompt NPR to start posting to Twitter again, when the only rational reaction is to feel assured that walking away from Twitter was the right move.

The Onion: ‘Netflix Condemns WGA Strike for Putting Future Show Cancellations Behind Schedule’ 

The Onion:

Emphasizing the negative effects the recent union action would have on the company, Netflix officials condemned the Writers Guild of America strike Tuesday for putting future show cancellations behind schedule. “We have dozens of shows already stuck in the early stages of the preproduction process, but this strike will cause significant delays in our eventual scrapping of those projects,” said Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, who added that preventing work that writers had committed over a year of their lives to from becoming fully realized creations that the streaming platform could kill before they ever saw the light of day was unconscionable.

Nailed it.

The Browser Company Is Building a Swift Development Toolchain for Windows 

Hursh Agrawal, cofounder of The Browser Company (makers of the upstart browser Arc, which for now is Mac-only):

We’re sprinting hard to get Arc onto Windows in 2023 — exact timing still 🤐!

His tweet has a two-minute video that outlines a tremendously ambitious plan:

  • Swift on Windows (compiler, debugger)
  • VSCode integration, Swift bindings for WinAppSDK
  • Porting Arc to Windows

If they pull it off, they’ll ship a toolchain to develop cross-platform Mac/Windows apps, programmed in Swift using VSCode. I have my doubts about whether this is possible from a small team, and I have different doubts about whether this would be a good way to write good Mac apps. So I’d ignore this for now — but for the fact that Arc itself is very interesting, and very much real.

It’s not for me, but it really has a bunch of innovative, original ideas for a web browser. They’ve proven that they can ship. So I say godspeed.

You Can Register Domain Names in iOS’s iCloud Settings 

I knew that iOS 16 introduced support for custom domain names for iCloud+ Mail — bring your own domain name but use iCloud as your email provider and web interface. Here’s a thing I only learned today though: you can register new domain names right in iOS 16’s Settings app: iCloud Account → iCloud → iCloud Mail → Custom Email Domain.

In their support document, Apple states:

A third-party registrar handles the sale of each domain. For billing or refund issues, contact them for support.

For me (screenshot) that’s Cloudflare (whose caching and SSL services I use for Daring Fireball — fantastic company). Not sure if that’s true worldwide, or if Apple has other registrar partners in other countries.

NYPD Is Encouraging New Yorkers to Plant AirTags in Their Cars for Theft Recovery 

NYPD chief Jeffrey Maddrey, on Twitter:

The 21st century calls for 21st century policing. AirTags in your car will help us recover your vehicle if it’s stolen. We’ll use our drones, our StarChase technology and good old fashion police work to safely recover your stolen car. Help us help you, get an AirTag.

Juli Clover, at MacRumors:

In an accompanying press conference on Sunday, New York City mayor Eric Adams said that the city will provide 500 free AirTags to car owners. According to CBS News , the AirTags are available to residents in Castle Hill, Soundview, and Parkchester, as these areas have seen a 548 percent increase in stolen Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

This is a case where, ideally, you’d want FindMy (or Apple’s Tracker Detect app for Android) not to notify a potential thief that they’re being tracked by an unknown-to-them AirTag. But we can’t have it both ways. There’s no magic way to mark your AirTag as not being used for stalking.

One spitball idea: Apple could license AirTag technology to be built into third-party products. With cars, they could make it part of the CarPlay system — have an AirTag integrated with the dashboard console system.

Update: I forgot that Apple does license FindMy this way: VanMoof e-bikes have FindMy support. I was reminded of this today by a DF reader who found his stolen bike this week using it.

Apple Releases Rapid Security Response Updates for iOS 16.4.1 and MacOS 13.3.1 

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

Apple today released Rapid Security Response (RSR) updates that are available for iPhone and iPad users running the iOS 16.4.1 update and Mac users running macOS 13.3.1. These are the first public RSR updates that Apple has released to date. [...]

iOS Security Response 16.4.1 is available through the standard Software Update mechanism in the iPhone or iPad Settings app, but is a quick update, requiring just a couple of minutes to download the update and then a quick restart for the install process. The macOS update can be installed through System Settings.

I’ve seen a few of these RSR updates while running beta versions of iOS, but I suspect those were all just tests from Apple of the RSR delivery and update mechanisms. It’s a great new mechanism for Apple, but one that they’d only use for truly significant bugs — ones they realize are being actively exploited in the wild, or could be to deeply detrimental effect.

Update: Seems a little weird that today’s RSR updates aren’t listed yet on Apple’s security updates page. In recent years Apple has been very diligent about updating this page upon the release of security updates. These new RSR updates seem to exist outside this documentation system for now.

Twitter API Pricing Prompts WordPress to Drop Automated Twitter Posting 

From the official blog of Jetpack, an official WordPress plugin from Automattic:

Twitter decided, on short notice, to dramatically change the terms and pricing of the Twitter API. We have attempted to work with Twitter in good faith to negotiate new terms, but we have not been able to reach an agreement. As a result, the Twitter connection on Jetpack Social will cease to work, and your blog posts will no longer be auto-shared to Twitter.

You will still be able to share your posts to Twitter manually by pasting the post link into the body of your tweet.

In addition, you can still auto-share your posts to Tumblr, Facebook, and Linkedin. In the near future, we are adding the ability to auto-share to Instagram and Mastodon.

Twitter’s new API pricing is exorbitant, starting at $42,000/month for 50 million tweets. I get the feeling that there are a lot of “enterprise” Twitter API users whom Elon Musk believed would definitely pay these prices, who instead are saying “We are definitely not paying these prices.” Musk thinks Twitter is indispensable. Doesn’t seem like almost anyone else does.

This is a perfect case: Twitter was getting far more value out of Wordpress blogs being able to auto-share new posts than vice-versa. Now those tweets just won’t go out.

Update: Here’s another good example: the MTA (New York’s transit authority) will no longer post status updates to Twitter. If they’re not paying, who is?