Linked List: September 2023

Humane Pins Appear at Paris Fashion Week 


Coperni designers Sebastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant held their fashion week outing in a vast underground sound research centre in the heart of Paris, showcasing sporty ultra-modern styles with tech devices, the Humane Ai Pin, fastened to lapels. [...]

Paris Fashion Week runs until Oct. 3 and features brands including Chanel, Hermes and LVMH-owned Louis Vuitton.

Not one whit of information describing what the Humane pins actually do. We do see, though, that they look like toy iPhones that might come in a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Debuting at this fashion show gives me strong solid-gold Apple Watch Edition vibes from 2015 — except that Apple told us what Apple Watch actually did, and offered it in affordable aluminum models.

I don’t get it. Maybe they’ll sell them for $5,000 a pop and make them hard to obtain?

Linda Yaccarino’s Excruciatingly Uncomfortable Interview With Julia Boorstin at the Code Conference 

To the best of my recollection, I’ve never before seen an on-stage interview where the subject spent the final half of the interview pointing to her watch and repeatedly declaring that she was busy and had somewhere to go. Oof. I had to watch at 1.5× speed to get through it.

The whole interview was contentious, but Boorstin did as good a job as possible keeping it going, and asking good questions. One core tension: Musk’s week-ago declaration that he wants to make all of Twitter/X paid-subscription-only, vs. the obviousness of that being a terrible idea. Yaccarino has accepted an impossible position: pretending to run a company that she not only doesn’t actually run, but which is doing things she obviously disagrees with.

Sidenote: Yaccarino took out her iPhone and showed off her homescreen, and it’s a rather bizarre selection and arrangement of apps.

Senator Dianne Feinstein Dies at 90 

President Biden:

Often the only woman in the room, Dianne was a role model for so many Americans — a job she took seriously by mentoring countless public servants, many of whom now serve in my Administration. She had an immense impact on younger female leaders for whom she generously opened doors. Dianne was tough, sharp, always prepared, and never pulled a punch, but she was also a kind and loyal friend, and that’s what Jill and I will miss the most.

The Talk Show: ‘Who’s Heef?” 

Matthew Panzarino returns to the show to talk about the new iPhones 15.

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Writers’ Strike Ends 


Hollywood heaves a sigh of relief. The WGA and major studios and streamers have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that promises to end the 146-day strike that has taken a heavy toll across the content industry.


My thanks to Multi for sponsoring last week at DF. Multi is a new utility for MacOS that makes any app multiplayer:

  • Shared control for any app or display
  • Drawing and deep links for faster communication
  • Native app crafted to feel like a part of MacOS

Since launching a month ago Multi has seen an amazing response, in particular from the iOS/MacOS/Apple and Typescript communities — no surprise, given that Multi was built to help software teams build faster together.

It’s rather amazing: “multiplayer MacOS” is a perfect description. The team behind it would love to hear what you think, and as part of their sponsorship, Daring Fireball readers get immediate access. Every single person reading this should check it out. It’s that cool.

Yes, Virginia, NFT’s Are a Scam 


Data from the Block reveals a weekly traded value of around $80 million in July 2023, just 3% of its peak back in August 2021. So what happened? NFTs had a bull run then crashed. Hard. We now find ourselves in the midst of a bear market for NFTs, with numerous projects now struggling to find buyers following a pessimistic market outlook on their future value. [...]

Of the 73,257 NFT collections we identified, an eye-watering 69,795 of them have a market cap of 0 Ether (ETH).

This statistic effectively means that 95% of people holding NFT collections are currently holding onto worthless investments. Having looked into those figures, we would estimate that 95% to include over 23 million people whose investments are now worthless.


(Via Kevin Drum, who quips: “We all like to think we’ve gotten smarter over the years, but at least the tulip bubble folks ended up with some pretty flowers.”)

My Current Action Button Shortcut: Mute Toggle When Face Down, Otherwise Launch Camera 

In my review, I wrote about creating a Shortcuts workflow for the iPhone 15 Pro Action button that showed a menu on screen offering options to launch the Camera app or toggle silent mode. After publishing, I came up with something better:

  • If the phone is face down or in portrait mode upside-down (like, say, if it’s in my pocket), toggle Silent mode.
    • When going from silent mode off to on, vibrate the phone for feedback.
  • Otherwise, launch the Camera app.

Still requires Sindre Sorhus’s free Actions utility from the App Store, for the ability to do different things based on the current state of silent mode. (I only want the phone to vibrate when going from sound on to sound off.)

iCloud links for the two shortcuts:

Relay FM’s Live Podcastathon for St. Jude 

12 hours of nonstop fun and nonsense to raise money for one of the best causes in the entire world: curing childhood cancer and helping families affected by it. They’re already approaching half a million dollars raised this year. Don’t be cheap: give generously.

‘Warning: Update Your iPhone 15 to iOS 17.0.2 Before Transferring Data From Another iPhone’ 

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

If you are unboxing an iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, or iPhone 15 Pro Max today, make sure to update the device to iOS 17.0.2 before transferring data to the device from another iPhone, or else you might encounter issues.

iOS 17.0.2 is only available for the iPhone 15 lineup. Apple says the update fixes an issue that may prevent transferring data directly from another iPhone during the device setup process, so installing it is very important. The update should appear during the setup process, or it can be installed via the Settings app under General → Software Update if you proceeded to set up the device as new and transfer data later.

Oof, not what you want on launch day: some new iPhones running the factory-shipped version of iOS 17 are getting stuck on the Apple logo when attempting a device-to-device transfer, and then require a complete software restore. For what it’s worth, I went through the device-to-device transfer process multiple times with my review units and never hit this bug, but that’s just luck. The good news is a new iPhone 15 should offer to install the 17.0.2 update as soon as you connect it to Wi-Fi during the setup process, and that screen explicitly warns you not to proceed without updating if you plan to use device-to-device transfer.

iPhone 15 Eve 

1:00am photos outside Apple Store Walnut Street here in Philadelphia (mirrored on Threads). Video killed the radio star; pre-order killed the campouts.

As good a time as any to remind you that my recommended way of migrating from an old iPhone to a new one is the direct device-to-device transfer.

Microsoft Xbox Chief Phil Spencer Wanted to Buy Nintendo in 2020 

Michael McWhertor, reporting for Polygon on what I consider the most eye-catching of the revelations from Microsoft’s botched document upload to the FTC:

But Xbox head Phil Spencer said in 2020 — a month before Microsoft announced its plan to acquire ZeniMax and subsidiary Bethesda Softworks — that his No. 1 pick for an acquisition or merger is Nintendo. In emails leaked as part of the Federal Trade Commission’s case to block the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal in court, Spencer named Nintendo as “THE prime asset for us in Gaming.”

Spencer discussed the possibility of an acquisition or merger with Nintendo in an email with Microsoft executive Takeshi Numoto. Spencer said that he’d “had numerous conversations with the [leadership team] of Nintendo about tighter collaboration and feel like if any US company would have a chance with Nintendo we are probably in the best position.”

Two things stood in Microsoft’s way, according to Spencer: “The unfortunate (or fortunate for Nintendo) situation is that Nintendo is sitting on a big pile of cash,” and “they have a [board of directors] that until recently has not pushed for further increases in market growth or stock appreciation.”

I can’t imagine things going well for Nintendo — a company whose entire existence is based on their unique style, design, and taste — under Microsoft, a company infamous for having no taste.

And the translation for that last paragraph quoted above is that Nintendo is (a) profitable and (b) run by a board of directors who are interested not in a quick buck, but instead on stewarding the company’s continuing long-term success as a distinct and independent company.

Update: I either forgot this or never knew it, but Microsoft inquired about acquiring Nintendo back around 1999, before committing to designing and building its own hardware for the original Xbox.

The Verge: ‘Apple’s New FineWoven iPhone Cases Are Very Bad’ 

Allison Johnson, The Verge:

If I’m putting one of these cases on my phone, I’m inevitably going to scratch it on accident with a jagged fingernail edge, or it’s going to come into contact with my car keys. And when you scratch FineWoven, the results are seemingly permanent. When we first inspected the cases after picking them up at Apple Park, Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel picked one up and ran his fingernails across it five times — and that was all it took to leave a trail of indelible scuffs on the fabric. The scratches are still there a week later, no matter how many times I’ve tried “buffing” it out by rubbing my finger over it.

I’m trying to imagine what this case would be like after a year of being subjected to the dust and lint at the bottom of my purse or the stray scratches from nails and keys. God help me if my toddler ever managed to put his grubby hands on it, which he absolutely would. I just don’t see any way that this material ages gracefully. The leather cases had their problems, but when leather gets old, it at least looks nice — a scuffed, dusty fabric case will not.

I’m curious what real-world usage will look like, but that fingernail test doesn’t seem fair when comparing FineWoven to leather. One fingernail scratched across one of Apple’s leather cases or wallets will leave a permanent mark too. Perhaps it’s the case that such wear looks good on leather but bad on FineWoven.

Judging from my inbox, third-party leather case makers are very excited about Apple’s decision no longer to use it.

Update: Also worth noting is that Apple’s new FineWoven Magnetic Link Apple Watch bands are not yet available — you can’t even place a pre-order for a new watch that comes paired with one, nor a standalone watch strap. The FineWoven Modern Buckle straps are available, but not the Magnetic Link. Weird?

Google Has No Repair Option for Cracked Pixel Watch Screens 

Victoria Song, writing for The Verge:

Several Pixel Watch owners have vented their frustrations about the inability to replace cracked screens, both on Reddit and in Googlesupport forums. The Verge has also reviewed an official Google support chat from a reader who broke their Pixel Watch display after dropping the wearable. In it, a support representative states that Google “doesn’t have any repair centers or service centers” for the device.

“At this moment, we don’t have any repair option for the Google Pixel Watch. If your watch is damaged, you can contact the Google Pixel Watch Customer Support Team to check your replacement options,” Google spokesperson Bridget Starkey confirmed to The Verge. [...]

That warranty leaves owners on their own to deal with damage caused by drops or accidental strikes, and according to Google’s Store, there is no option for an extended warranty to go with a Pixel Watch. If your Pixel Watch is accidentally damaged, that’s it.

Google is not serious about hardware. It’s that simple. I hope someday they get serious.

‘Really Specific Stories’, With Yours Truly 

Martin Feld’s Really Specific Stories is a podcast series “about tech podcasting, its devoted community of producing and listening fans, and the value of a medium based on open RSS”. I never find it comfortable talking about my work, but Feld is a lovely and gracious interviewer. Previous guests include Jason Snell, Stephen Hackett, and the entire ATP triumvirate. (Did you know there’s a third guy on ATP? I learn something every day.)

Michigan Woman Rescued From Outhouse Toilet After Climbing in to Retrieve Apple Watch 

The Associated Press:

A woman was rescued Tuesday from an outhouse toilet in northern Michigan after she climbed in to retrieve her Apple Watch and became trapped. The woman, whose name was not released, lowered herself inside the toilet after dropping the watch at the Department of Natural Resources boat launch at Dixon Lake in Otsego County’s Bagley Township, state police said Wednesday in a release.

First responders were called when the woman was heard yelling for help. The toilet was removed and a strap was used to haul the woman out. “If you lose an item in an outhouse toilet, do not attempt to venture inside the containment area. Serious injury may occur,” state police said in the release.

Tim Cook had a good line in the keynote last week about people’s attachment to their iPhones and Apple Watches: “If you left either one at home, I bet you’d go back to get it.”

Home, yes. Outhouse, no.

Kolide – Device Trust for Okta 

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

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

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

Today Is Release Day for iOS 17 and Its Sibling OS’s 

MacOS 14 Sonoma is coming next Tuesday, September 26, but all the other annual new major versions of Apple’s platforms are out today: iOS and iPadOS 17, WatchOS 10 (which really rejiggers the way WatchOS is organized), tvOS 17, and the iOS 17 “firmware” variant for HomePods.

Also, today marks the availability of the new 6 and 12 TB storage tiers for iCloud+. I’m glad to see Apple offer these tiers — it’s long seemed a bit odd that a services-focused company had no tiers above 2 TB. (Disappointingly, none of the iCloud storage tiers have increased in size — the free tier remains a measly 5 GB and the $1/month plan just 50 GB.)

Twitter Competitor T2 Rebrands as ‘Pebble’ 

Paresh Dave, writing for Wired:

Pebble, a Twitter-style service formerly known as T2, today launched a new approach: Users can skip past its “What’s happening?” nudge and click on a tab labeled Ideas with a lightbulb icon, to view a list of AI-generated posts or replies inspired by their past activity. Publishing one of those suggestions after reviewing it takes a single click.

Gabor Cselle, Pebble’s CEO, says this and generative AI features to come will enable a kinder, safer, and more fun experience. “We want to make sure that you see great content, that you’re posting great content, and that you’re interacting with the community,” he says.

Pebble, heretofore known as T2, had been in a similar place as Bluesky — a would-be direct replacement/alternative to Twitter, but hamstrung for growth by being invite-only. With this name change Pebble is open to all, using a system where Twitter/X users can claim the same handle on Pebble.

I’ve had an account for months, but find myself seldom using it. If Pebble’s status IDs are sequential, there have only been about 270,000 total posts made on the platform to date. There just isn’t much action there, even compared to Bluesky. And there’s really only so much time in the day to check in with multiple very similar social networks. I think there’s room for several Twitter-like services to thrive, but not for half a dozen of them.

But also, the Pebble team made the same decision as Post, another would-be-Twitter-replacement upstart that hasn’t gained traction: they don’t have an app, only a website that you can use like an app on your phone. [Update: Post did launch web-only, but now does have an app.] Has there ever been a successful social network in the last decade that didn’t debut with an app for iOS? Bluesky’s app isn’t great, but it’s better than a PWA, and I wonder how many normal people out there just don’t trust apps that don’t come from the App Store or Google Play. And, putting trust aside, I wonder how many people even know about adding PWAs to their home screens.

It’s very telling, I think, that Meta launched Threads only as a native app for iOS and Android, and even the web app version came over a month later. That big high-profile Threads launch would have been much smaller if they’d launched web-first.

Panos Panay Is Leaving Microsoft, Just Days Ahead of Their Surface Event 

Panos Panay, on Twitter/X:

After 19 incredible years at Microsoft, I’ve decided to turn the page and write the next chapter. I’m forever grateful for my time at Microsoft and the amazing people I had the honor to make products with.

Emma Roth, reporting for The Verge:

Panay’s departure from Microsoft is somewhat abrupt. Just last month, Panay mentioned he was excited to appear at Microsoft’s special event that’s set to take place on Thursday, September 21st, where the company is poised to reveal the latest additions to its Surface lineup and “AI innovation.” However, Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw tells The Verge Panay will not appear at this week’s event.

The timing on this is so awkward, given that the Surface event — that Panay was presumably set to emcee — is just three days from now. Microsoft’s terse statement and Panos’s tone in the tweet make it seem acrimonious, but not scandalous.

And lo, Dina Bass and Matt Day report for Bloomberg: Inc. is hiring Microsoft Corp.’s product chief to run the division responsible for the voice-activated Alexa assistant and Echo smart speakers, according to people familiar with the situation. Panos Panay, an almost 20-year veteran who led Microsoft’s Windows team and was central to the company’s hardware push with its Surface computers, said Monday he’s leaving the technology giant.

Dave Limp, the longtime Amazon hardware chief, said last month that he would retire before the end of the year.

Jack Wellborn:

I have mixed opinions on Panos Panay.

Same here. Panos without question elevated Microsoft to be a major player in PC hardware, but looking back, I don’t see any of their devices as iconic. From the get-go, I always wondered how hamstrung the Surface was (and remains) by Microsoft’s need to maintain good relations with other PC OEMs.

Apple Is No Longer Selling the MagSafe Battery Pack and MagSafe Duo Folding Charger 

Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac:

Although these accessories are technically obsoleted by today’s announcements, you can still buy them on sites like Amazon (MagSafe Battery Pack and the MagSafe Duo Charger) while supplies last, if so desired.

It’s unclear if Apple plans to introduce USB-C versions of these accessories in the future, or if these products have reached their natural end-of-life anyway. It’s never quite clear how popular Apple’s iPhone accessories are, after all.

The Duo Charger was a good concept, especially for traveling, but modern iPhones are too big for it, and it didn’t support the new higher-speed charging for recent Apple Watches.

But the MagSafe Battery Pack is a flat-out great product I’m sad to see disappear, and might still be something you’d want to buy while supplies last. Travel with one, and you can charge a new iPhone 15 using either a USB-C cable (plugged into the phone) or a Lightning cable (plugged into the battery pack). Either way, the other device will get charged via the two-way MagSafe connection.

Before the MagSafe Battery Pack, Apple sold a series of battery cases for some older iPhone generations. You remember them — they looked a bit weird, because the battery part was like a pregnant hump. Apple never once released a battery case at the same time the corresponding iPhones were announced. They’d announce the iPhones in September, then release the battery packs like two months later, without fanfare. I’ve always suspected this was deliberate — that Apple did not want to announce an external battery pack or case at the same time as new iPhones to avoid the possibility of even some of the news coverage for the new iPhones suggesting that they need an external battery pack because the built-in battery is insufficient.

So, maybe Apple is simply done selling the MagSafe Battery Pack. But, even if they have a new USB-C version in the works, I’m not at all surprised that it wasn’t released last week. Let’s wait for November. I hope they do release one, because Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack is far better than the third-party ones I’ve tried (including two decent ones from Anker). Apple’s isn’t the biggest, but it’s the best because it’s the smartest. It negotiates intelligently with the iPhone when connected and doesn’t waste energy charging the iPhone past 80 percent or so. You can feel the difference in efficiency by heat alone. Third-party inductive battery packs get quite warm; Apple’s doesn’t. Also, the third-party ones seem to all be “magnetic”, not officially “MagSafe” — Apple’s sticks better too.

Why the iPhones 15 Pro Feel So Much Lighter 

Dr. Drang:

Finally, we come to Jason Snell’s surprise at how light the 15 Pro seemed when he played with it in the hands-on area. He mentioned this not only in his Macworld article, but also in the post-keynote episode of Upgrade. You wouldn’t expect a change from 206 g for the 14 Pro to 187 g for the 15 Pro would be that noticeable, but Greg Joswiak mentioned it in the keynote and Jason confirmed it. How can that be?

One answer is that people are just more sensitive than we give them credit for being. A 9–10% drop in weight may seem like a small amount to our brains but a large amount to our hands. But because it allowed me to do some simple calculations, I decided to look into another possibility.

Your ability to manipulate a phone is based primarily on its mass, but also on its moment of inertia. And since the reduction in mass when switching from stainless steel to titanium is occurring almost entirely at the perimeter of the phone, the moment of inertia should be reduced more than if the mass were reduced uniformly.

Drang, of course, shows his work. There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s something to this: the new iPhones Pro feel even lighter than the weight reduction alone would suggest.

Hermès Still Sells Leather Apple Watch Straps, But Only Through Their Own Store 

I came away from Tuesday’s keynote with the impression that, like Apple, Hermès would no longer be making leather Apple Watch straps. But that’s not the case. Apple itself is only selling Hermès watches with fabric and rubber straps, but Hermès itself still has 21 leather straps for the Series 9 Hermès watches. Apple’s keynote seemed so adamant about nixing leather that I suspect there are fans of the Hermès leather straps who are disappointed, thinking they’re no longer being produced. But I can see why Apple decided against mentioning it. I don’t think this is an awkward state of affairs, but describing it during the keynote would have been awkward.

The Verge’s 17-Minute Summary of the iPhone 15 Event 

For those of you short on time, these synopses from The Verge are great.


Alexandra Bruell and Lindsay Ellis, reporting for, I swear, The Wall Street Journal:

Employers around the country have good news for workers who dread chats about their performance: Feedback is on the way out.

Many companies, executive coaches and HR professionals are looking to erase the anxiety-inducing word from the corporate lexicon, and some are urging it be replaced by what they see as a gentler, more constructive word: “feedforward.”

I refuse to believe this is true, and if it is true, my feedback is that any company that encounters an employee who bristles at the word feedback should fire them on the spot.

Inflation-Adjusted iPhone Pricing 

There were rampant rumors pre-event that Apple was going to raise the prices for the iPhone Pro models this year, but they didn’t. They did, however, eliminate the 128 GB $1099 iPhone Max model. There’s a 128 GB iPhone 15 Pro for $999, but the entry model Max has 256 GB of storage and costs $1199. That’s $100 higher than last year’s 128 GB 14 Pro Max, but the same price as last year’s 256 GB 14 Pro Max. Turns out, inflation adjusted, this year’s prices are lower, not higher.


September 2023 cover art for Dithering, depicting a crowd of people with a “Dithering” sign in the background.

Today’s a travel day for me, flying home from San Francisco. While I’m working on a column regarding yesterday’s event, Dithering subscribers already have my short take, with an episode Ben Thompson and I recorded this morning. One spoiler: I think we ought to cut Apple some slack on that “Mother Nature” sketch.

Dithering as a standalone subscription costs just $5/month or $50/year. You get two episodes per week, each exactly 15 minutes long. I just love having an outlet like Dithering for weeks like this one. People who try Dithering seem to love it, too — we have remarkably little churn.

At Least the Word ‘Maniacal’ Fits 

CNBC has another excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk, this one telling the tale of Musk and his cousins moving thousands of servers from a data center in Sacramento to another in Portland:

“You’ll have to hire a contractor to lift the floor panels,” Alex said. “They need to be lifted with suction cups.” Another set of contractors, he said, would then have to go underneath the floor panels and disconnect the electric cables and seismic rods.

Musk turned to his security guard and asked to borrow his pocket knife. Using it, he was able to lift one of the air vents in the floor, which allowed him to pry open the floor panels. He then crawled under the server floor himself, used the knife to jimmy open an electrical cabinet, pulled the server plugs, and waited to see what happened. Nothing exploded. The server was ready to be moved.

“Well that doesn’t seem super hard,” he said as Alex the Uzbek and the rest of the gang stared. Musk was totally jazzed by this point. It was, he said with a loud laugh, like a remake of Mission: Impossible, Sacramento edition.

It’s all a bunch of yucks until it turns to yikes:

The servers had user data on them, and James did not initially realize that, for privacy reasons, they were supposed to be wiped clean before being moved. “By the time we learned this, the servers had already been unplugged and rolled out, so there was no way we would roll them back, plug them in, and then wipe them,” he says. Plus, the wiping software wasn’t working. “Fuck, what do we do?” he asked. Elon recommended that they lock the trucks and track them.

So James sent someone to Home Depot to buy big padlocks, and they sent the combination codes on a spreadsheet to Portland so the trucks could be opened there. “I can’t believe it worked,” James says. “They all made it to Portland safely.”

A profound sense of urgency is beneficial to a leader, up to a point. Despite CNBC’s framing, Musk clearly goes way past that point. This entire endeavor was absurdly and unnecessarily reckless. In addition to the privacy violations, yanking these servers out of Sacramento, against the direct advice of Twitter’s infrastructure team, directly led to months of instability for users.

Qualcomm Announces Renewed Deal With Apple for 5G Modems 

Ian King and Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is extending an agreement to get modem semiconductors from Qualcomm Inc. for three more years, a sign that its ambitious effort to design the chips in-house is taking longer than expected. Qualcomm shares surged on the news.

The new pact will cover “smartphone launches in 2024, 2025 and 2026,” Qualcomm said in a statement Monday. The companies’ agreement had been set to end this year, and the latest iPhone — due on Tuesday — was expected to be one of the last to rely on the Qualcomm modem chip. […]

“This agreement reinforces Qualcomm’s track record of sustained leadership across 5G technologies and products,” the San Diego-based chipmaker said. Though the financial terms of the new deal weren’t disclosed, Qualcomm said it was similar to the previous arrangement signed in 2019.

Funny how they announced this today, and even funnier that there’s no quote from anyone at Apple. Qualcomm, seemingly, has Apple over the barrel on these 5G modems.

Update: Keep in mind that Apple has been trying to build its own 5G modems for years now. Back in 2019 they bought Intel’s modem business — the same year they settled (effectively, losing) a lawsuit with Qualcomm. And then there was this story over the summer, where Apple accused Qualcomm of harassing Apple executives by subpoenaing them for a lawsuit filed by the FTC. These two companies do not like each other.

Oh Dear 

My thanks to Oh Dear for sponsoring last week at Daring Fireball. Oh Dear is a website monitor that offers peace of mind as a service. If you run a website and your website is down, you know what would-be visitors do: they close the tab and move on to the next site. When’s the last time you waited more than a few seconds for a site to load? If your site is monitored by Oh Dear, you’ll find out right way when it’s down, however you want to be notified — through email, SMS, Slack, webhooks, or any of a bunch of other options.

Oh Dear is not your average website monitor. They’re an all-in-one service offering complete website coverage, and of particular note for the discerning DF audience, Oh Dear is obsessive about their user interface and experience. Nerdy, yes, but beautiful too.

3D Printing Precision Titanium Components 

Apple’s event branding is often inscrutable, at least if you’re looking for embedded hints, but it strikes me that next week’s Wonderlust branding — metallic sand — is an explicit allusion to 3D printing with steel and/or titanium. This video is a good example of what’s possible — parts that would be impossible to mill from a solid block.

The Indiana Pi Bill 


The Indiana Pi Bill is the popular name for bill #246 of the 1897 sitting of the Indiana General Assembly, one of the most notorious attempts to establish mathematical truth by legislative fiat. Despite its name, the main result claimed by the bill is a method to square the circle, although it does imply various incorrect values of the mathematical constant π, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. The bill, written by a physician who was an amateur mathematician, never became law due to the intervention of Prof. C.A. Waldo of Purdue University, who happened to be present in the legislature on the day it went up for a vote.

Here’s a good summary (from modern day Purdue professor Edray Goins) of how this kook Edwin Goodwin arrived at π = 3.2.

I was reminded of this laughable legislation* by a friend commenting on the U.K. abandoning its foolhardy attempt to mandate the inspection of impossible-to-inspect end-to-end messaging. E2EE communication cannot be “scanned” for child pornography while remaining secure for all other purposes, but it would be nice if it could. Pi is not 3.2 and a circle cannot be squared, but it would nice if it were so. The U.K.’s legislation is every bit as much ignorant wishful thinking as Indiana’s was over a century ago.

That Indiana bill was not defeated, however — it was apparently merely shelved. The U.K., likewise, has not repealed the law granting them the power to effectively ban end-to-end encryption — they’ve merely declared that they will not use it — yet. That’s dangerous. This law should be rescinded, not ignored.

* From Waldo’s own account of the saga comes this gem of a quote (written in the third person), regarding an offer to be introduced to Goodwin: “A member then showed the writer a copy of the bill just passed and asked him if he would like an introduction to the learned doctor, its author. He declined the courtesy with thanks remarking that he was acquainted with as many crazy people as he cared to know.”

Amen, Dr. Waldo.

Twitter/X’s Descent Into an Antisemitic Cesspool 

David Leavitt:

Public reminder that @elonmusk wants you to falsely believe there isn’t antisemitism on X, and refuses to remove hateful comments and accounts.

Leavitt posted screenshots to two “After reviewing the available information, we want to let you know [account] hasn’t broken our safety policies” notices from Twitter’s content moderators — one for the account “@J3wsAreBad”, the other for “@gasthejews6969”. I won’t link to either account, but I checked and both are indeed active actual usernames. (J3wsAreBad’s “real” name: “✨J3wsRapeK1ds✨”.)

If you’re unfortunate enough to be working as a content moderator at Twitter, these should be two of the easiest reports of your day to deal with. You don’t even need to look at any of their tweets — both of their usernames should be sufficient on their face to just delete them. No warnings, no suspension, just nuke them. There should be no more question whether these accounts should be deleted than there is whether a turd ought to be scooped off the sidewalk. But no, these accounts are welcome on Twitter.

This has nothing to do with any sort of reasonable criticism of or disagreement with the Anti-Defamation League. This is about a big blinking “Welcome Nazis” neon sign. Antisemitism is more than just a form of bigotry and hatred, it’s a millennia-old conspiratorial crackpot worldview. And Elon Musk is seemingly sinking into it.

Rotten Tomatoes Is Rotten 

Lane Brown, writing for Vulture:

But despite Rotten Tomatoes’s reputed importance, it’s worth a reminder: Its math stinks. Scores are calculated by classifying each review as either positive or negative and then dividing the number of positives by the total. That’s the whole formula. Every review carries the same weight whether it runs in a major newspaper or a Substack with a dozen subscribers.

If a review straddles positive and negative, too bad. “I read some reviews of my own films where the writer might say that he doesn’t think that I pull something off, but, boy, is it interesting in the way that I don’t pull it off,” says Schrader, a former critic. “To me, that’s a good review, but it would count as negative on Rotten Tomatoes.” [...]

Another problem — and where the trickery often begins — is that Rotten Tomatoes scores are posted after a movie receives only a handful of reviews, sometimes as few as five, even if those reviews may be an unrepresentative sample. This is sort of like a cable-news network declaring an Election Night winner after a single county reports its results. But studios see it as a feature, since, with a little elbow grease, they can sometimes fool people into believing a movie is better than it is.

Brown also uncovers implicit payola, with a Hollywood PR firm paying small-time critics tracked by Rotten Tomatoes $50 (fifty measly bucks!) for positive reviews. My whole family has been growing ever more skeptical of Rotten Tomatoes scores for years, but we reached a breaking point earlier this year when we rented M3gan, which we all found to be a shitty movie, but scored a 93 from Rotten Tomatoes. (It has a “generally favorable” 72 from Metacritic.)

Apple Acquires Classical Music Specialty Label BIS Records 

Robert von Bahr, founder of BIS Records:

A few days ago BIS Records turned 50 years old and I am immensely proud of what our small team of people has accomplished during this half-century. BIS’s specialty, while paying our dues to the core repertoire, has been to nurture young classical artists and interesting living composers and to safeguard the musical treasure that we all represent long into the future. It is to that end that, after much careful consideration, and having just turned 80, I am excited to announce the rather momentous news that we have made the decision to become part of the Apple family.

We thought long and hard on how to maintain and build upon our prestigious history and looked for a partner who would further our mission, as well as an increased global platform to bring classical music to new audiences all over the world. Apple, with its own storied history of innovation and love of music, is the ideal home to usher in the next era of classical and has shown true commitment towards building a future in which classical music and technology work in harmony. It is my vision and my sincerest dream that we are all a part of this future.

Now this is an Apple-style acquisition. (Via Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch.)

U.K. Abandons, for Now, Legislation That Would Have Banned End-to-End Encryption 

Cristina Criddle, Anna Gross, and John Aglionby, reporting from London for The Financial Times (paywall-circumventing Twitter link):

The UK government has conceded it will not use controversial powers in the online safety bill to scan messaging apps for harmful content until it is “technically feasible” to do so, postponing measures that critics say threaten users’ privacy.

In a statement to the House of Lords on Wednesday afternoon, junior arts and heritage minister Lord Stephen Parkinson sought to mark an eleventh-hour effort to end a stand-off with tech companies, including WhatsApp, that have threatened to pull their services from the UK over what they claimed was an intolerable threat to millions of users’ privacy and security.

Parkinson said that Ofcom, the tech regulator, would only require companies to scan their networks when a technology is developed that is capable of doing so. Many security experts believe it could be years before any such technology is developed, if ever.

No, Thursday’s out. How about never — is never good for you?

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook’s parent Meta, and Signal, another popular encrypted messaging app, are among those that have threatened to exit the UK market should they be ordered to weaken encryption, a widely used security technology that allows only the sender and recipient of messages to view a message’s contents. [...]

Officials have privately acknowledged to tech companies that there is no current technology able to scan end-to-end encrypted messages that would not also undermine users’ privacy, according to several people briefed on the government’s thinking.

This isn’t the worst reporting on encryption and lawmakers’ fantasies about “backdoors only accessible by the good guys”, but it’s fundamentally misleading. End-to-end encryption’s meaning is right there in its name. There’s no dial that can be adjusted from “weak” to “strong”. There’s no option for content inspection between end points. It’s not about choosing not to allow eavesdroppers, it’s about implementing protocols where it’s technically impossible to inspect content between sender and receiver.

The actual math is far more complex, but ultimately this boils down to the U.K. acknowledging that 2 + 2 can only equal 4.

The Rolling Stones: ‘Angry’ 

Amazing video and a great new song from the world’s greatest band. So fucking good.

Horace Dediu: ‘The Value of a Customer’ 

Horace Dediu, writing at the newly refreshed Asymco:

So the picture becomes clearer. The iPhone customer is 7.4 times more valuable than the Android customer. This is more impressive than the 4× rule I had 10 years ago. The reasons are mainly that my anecdotes were from developers who sold products in the US or EU whereas expansion of smartphones to 7 billion global users has drawn in more lower spending customers.

But Apple’s base has also grown to over 1 billion users (650 million store users). This highlights that Apple has effectively grown and discriminated customers effectively. It obtained not just 1 billion customers but the best 1 billion customers.

How to discriminate effectively is the holy grail of marketing. The naïve approach is to keep prices high. But that usually only results in a “luxury” branding and a small base that tends not to grow. The alternative “premium” approach is to offer functionality and multiple tiers and distribution options and financing and merchandising. There is no simple formula.

I really enjoyed this piece, but I will quibble with “There is no simple formula”. It’s the execution that is difficult and complex. But at a high level the formula Apple has applied to make the iPhone (and iPad) the unprecedented success that they are is remarkably simple.

First, make something people care deeply about. Computers are the biggest advance in human society since the industrial revolution; revolution is a strong word but it applied then and applies again today. People care about their computers and what they do on their computers very much, and they care most about the most personal of personal computers: their phones. They use them for communication, photography, entertainment (music and video), games, and more. They carry them almost everywhere they go, all day every day, and sleep next to them.

Second, make the best version of that thing people care deeply about. The people who care the most will perceive the superiority of your product, and gladly — not begrudgingly — pay a premium for it.

Third, keep iterating, tirelessly and continuously, to improve that product year after year. Focus on aspects that cannot be copied or imitated. In the iPhone’s case, those are things such as custom chips, superior hardware components and manufacturing techniques, software frameworks decades in the making, a culture that prioritizes great design, and an ever-expanding ecosystem that keeps customers in the flock by making them happy. Build a luxury resort they don’t want to leave, not a prison they can’t leave.

Don’t prioritize being first or being cheapest. Prioritize being the best. That’s a simple strategy. It’s the execution that’s hard as hell.

Should Apple Cease Advertising on Twitter? 

Ian Betteridge:

Apple is very good at taking a stand when it’s easy. It refused to carry various small right-wing social platforms on its App Store, because the content moderation policies weren’t up to scratch. Meanwhile, Twitter gets a pass despite having no practical control over hate speech and an owner who actively encourages it.

Should we be considering boycotting Apple and other companies that advertise on Twitter? Let’s frame that another way: if you found out that a company was actively funding hate speech, would you want to buy products from them?

I know I wouldn’t.

Betteridge is without question correct that Apple is in a difficult position here. If you think it would be easy, recall last year, when Apple had drawn Musk’s ire over the App Store’s policies. As I wrote then, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

But it’s hard to imagine any other ad venue — website, billboard, magazine, TV channel — where Apple would run ads that run alongside ads like this one. No need for a statement. Just cease running ads on Twitter/X, and stop paying for these promotional “hashflags”. When inevitably asked why, respond how Apple responds best: no comment.

Little Musk Who Cries ‘Wolf’ Daily Now Claims Twitter/X Is Going to Sue the Anti-Defamation League 

Rebecca Bellan, reporting for TechCrunch:

In the newest uproar you might have missed, Elon Musk says X, formerly Twitter, will file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League. Musk accused the ADL, an organization that works to combat antisemitism, extremism and bigotry, of falsely accusing him and X of being antisemitic.

“To clear our platform’s name on the matter of anti-Semitism, it looks like we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League … oh the irony!” tweeted the billionaire celebrity on Monday.

Musk also blamed the ADL for X’s falling U.S. advertising revenue. “Our US advertising revenue is still down 60%, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by @ADL (that’s what advertisers tell us), so they almost succeeded in killing X/Twitter!” said Musk.

Musk started off this latest tirade by claiming to be pro-free speech, but “against anti-Semitism of any kind.”

Musk claims he’s going to do all sorts of crazy shit. Sometimes he actually goes through with it, like the time he said he was going to buy Twitter and take it private. Most of the time, though, he doesn’t. We need to stop reporting on what he says and focus mostly on what he does. Just two weeks ago I began using this headline play on the proverbial Little Boy Who Cried Wolf when Musk declared that Twitter/X was going to get rid of the block feature. He might still go through with that threat, but it hasn’t happened, and I suspect it won’t.

So why am I even linking to this threat against the ADL? Because what has already happened is odious and noteworthy. A weekend-long trending “BanTheADL” hashtag that not only wasn’t suppressed, but was bolstered by Musk himself. Now this “It’s all the Jews’ fault” excuse in the form of the lawsuit threat — it doesn’t really matter if Musk follows through and sues (it’d be a nonsensical suit), the damage is that Twitter’s most popular user — who happens to own it — is openly courting antisemites.

‘The MacOS App Icon Book’ by Michael Flarup 

Speaking of Kickstarter projects, Michael Flarup is working on a sequel to his outstanding The iOS App Icon Book — this one dedicated to Mac app icons. Given my interests, I’d have been delighted by The iOS App Icon Book even if it had merely been pretty good. But it’s a splendid book — carefully curated, exquisitely well-designed, and very nicely printed and bound. It’s no small trick to reproduce icons meant for screens in a printed book. The iOS App Icon Book is also very well-written and considered, particularly regarding the seminal design shift introduced by iOS 7 in 2013.

So a sibling volume dedicated to Mac app icons? Hell yes.

Studio Neat’s Keen: The World’s Best Box Cutter 

New from the dynamic duo at Studio Neat: Keen, a $95 box cutter.

Yes, a box cutter/utility knife that costs about $100. A $100 tool to replace the sort of disposable thing that costs like a $1 a pop. Until about a year ago, those disposable plastic jobbies were what I used, and I kept losing them. About a year ago, after losing track of the last one in my office, it occurred to me that I lose them because I don’t care about them. I already owned a nice keychain-sized pocket knife from The James Brand, which I love, so I bought the Palmer, their $59 box cutter. 11 months later and I haven’t misplaced it once. And I’m happier for owning it: it’s way nicer to use than any disposable I’ve ever had.

A few weeks ago, though, my pals at Studio Neat sent me a pre-production Keen. I prefer it to the Palmer in every single regard. First, it’s thinner and smaller, but in no way too small. Second, it’s easier to change the blade. But most importantly, the Keen offers a completely original design for opening and closing the blade: a spring-loaded slider. It’s so different from any box cutter design I’ve ever seen that I wondered if I’d even like it at all, let alone prefer it, because it does not lock into place. Turns out though I much prefer it. It feels both more convenient and safer, because it’s impossible to leave the blade extended while you aren’t holding it. And when released, it springs back so quickly that if you drop it, the blade will retract by the time it lands.

Pens are so cheap you can get them free at most bank counters, but many people who care spend more to get a really nice one. (Studio Neat, in fact, has you covered there as well, if you’re interested, with their Mark One and Mark Two. Me personally, I remain devoted to the $1.75 Zebra Sarasa.) A box cutter is no different. Given how many packages I receive each and every week of the year, it’s one of my most-used tools. So why not buy the best? The Kickstarter is already fully-funded, but the eventual retail price will be around $25 higher than the Kickstarter price.

See also:


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Ollie’s Arcade 

The Iconfactory:

All of us here at the Iconfactory love the classic video games we played in our youth. Many hours were spent in front of titles like Asteroids, Moon Patrol, and Battlezone, as well as cherished handheld electronic games like Mattel Football, Simon, and Merlin. Ollie’s Arcade recaptures a little bit of this magic and gives players a chance to turn their iPhone or iPad into a retro gaming experience.

Two of the games in Ollie’s Arcade — Ollie Soars and Tranquility Touchdown — were inspired by simple Easter eggs in Twitterrific, our beloved Twitter app. We polished Tranquility Touchdown, completely revamped Ollie Soars, and added an all-new third game — our own take on the classic Snake. All of Ollie’s mini-games are easy to learn and designed to be accessible for everyone. You can even play with your favorite game controller or via wireless keyboard.

Ollie Soars is free of charge; the other two games are just $2 each. What a novel idea: pay once, play them forever. Tranquility Touchdown gets so many little details from the vector graphics arcade era right.

The Talk Show: ‘Pleading the Fifth’ 

Flexibits co-founder Michael Simmons returns to the show to talk about his experience at Apple’s developer lab for Vision Pro, and his enthusiasm for the future of spatial computing.

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