Start up: Musk’s strange takeover, Apple’s cloud escapees, Gawker v Thiel redux, the Trump question, and more

Blade Runner: Sean Young and Harrison Ford in a Polaroid
Yes, OK, but what about the typography in the film? Photo by kaytaria on Flickr. (Where you can see a ton more Blade Runner Polaroids – all including Sean Young.)

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A selection of 14 links for you. Yes, they are. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Tesla makes offer to acquire SolarCity • Tesla Motors

Elon Musk:

»in March 2015, we launched Tesla Energy, which through the Powerwall and Powerpack allow homeowners, business owners and utilities to benefit from renewable energy storage.

It’s now time to complete the picture. Tesla customers can drive clean cars and they can use our battery packs to help consume energy more efficiently, but they still need access to the most sustainable energy source that’s available: the sun.

The SolarCity team has built its company into the clear solar industry leader in the residential, commercial and industrial markets, with significant scale and growing customer penetration. They have made it easy for customers to switch to clean energy while still providing the best customer experience. We’ve seen this all firsthand through our partnership with SolarCity on a variety of use cases, including those where SolarCity uses Tesla battery packs as part of its solar projects.

So, we’re excited to announce that Tesla today has made an offer to acquire SolarCity.

«

Guess who is a big shareholder in SolarCity?
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April 2016: Elon Musk supports his business empire with unusual financial moves • WSJ

April 2016:

»Since October 2014, SolarCity Corp. has tried to lure individual investors to the solar-power business by pitching $214m of what it calls “solar bonds” through the company’s website.

The biggest buyer by far, though, was rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies Inc., including $90m of $105m sold last month.

The bonds were an “excellent investment,” billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk said in an interview. And he knows more about the companies than anyone. Mr. Musk is their largest shareholder, the chairman of SolarCity and chief executive of SpaceX.

«

Hmm.
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Former Apple engineers escaped to create their own cloud startup • Recode

Arik Hesseldahl:

»One group of Apple network engineers led by Jason Forrester, now SnapRoute’s CEO, was detailed to a skunkworks effort to, as one source familiar with the assignment put it, “build something they couldn’t get from any existing networking vendor” — software that was powerful enough to meet Apple’s industrial-grade networking needs, but also flexible enough to allow frequent on-the-fly changes to respond to shifting demands.

As the work progressed, Forrester and his team chafed at their hidden role in the behemoth project. “Slowly, our desires to share our ideas with the world began to overshadow the thrill of working for Apple,” he wrote. They left their jobs last year and started SnapRoute.

SnapRoute makes software that helps companies manage their cloud systems, whether those systems are internal or external. Right now, if a company is overwhelmed with a sudden demand, such as a suddenly popular new app bringing in unprecedented numbers of photo uploads, it’s expensive and slow to change how the network works. SnapRoute’s software makes that switch quicker and cheaper.

The 20-person startup emerged from stealth mode last week with $4.5 million in venture capital investments led by Lightspeed Ventures.

«

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Well….Google just announced at SMX that the 3-pack is going to start… • Google+

Joy Hawkins:

»Well….Google just announced at SMX that the 3-pack is going to start containing an ad soon. So instead of the 3-pack it’s going to be 1-ad + 2 organic listings. Yes, the ones right on Google search (not the expanded pack). Be prepared to try to get clients in the top 2 instead of the top 3!

«

Translation: in local search on mobile/desktop, there will be an ad (or two) above the maps, and then two organic results. Here’s a screenshot.

It’s the only way for Google to keep growing its ad revenues as mobile becomes bigger but the number of searches on it don’t grow.
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Disdain for Gawker and praise for Thiel at Facebook’s stockholders meeting • BuzzFeed News

Alex Kantrowitz:

»Facebook shareholders (at least the ones not named Mark Zuckerberg) didn’t have a say in Peter Thiel’s reelection to Facebook’s board Monday, but it didn’t seem to matter. At Facebook’s annual stockholders meeting, shareholders applauded Zuckerberg’s move to reelect the controversial board member. Some even cheered Thiel on in his campaign to destroy Gawker.

Thiel is at once funding lawsuits against Gawker, a Facebook publishing partner, and serving as a delegate for Donald Trump, who after the Orlando shooting suggested the children of Muslim immigrants are a security threat to the United States. These positions, to some, may appear to conflict with Facebook’s mission “to make the world more open and connected.” Especially since Facebook is a critical source of traffic to publishers like Gawker, and publishers help fill Facebook’s News Feed with high-quality content. But to Zuckerberg, whose majority voting share means he has absolute power over these decisions, and to those in attendance, Thiel is still the right guy for the job.

«

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You won’t be able to sue the next Gawker • Medium

Cody Brown:

»If [Peter] Thiel is successful in destroying Gawker, he will martyrize them. The Hollywood movie that will come from this a few years from now is amazing to imagine. Social Network — The Sequel. Staring Jesse Eisenberg, Hulk Hogan, Donald Trump, and a series of tech billionaires with egos as thin as egg shells.

I now feel hesitant to bring up a point like this in a public forum. So many of those I know in the heart of Silicon Valley are thoughtful, deeply intelligent, interesting people but this is their blind spot. They have funded or built massive new institutions of social change without much scrutiny but the scrutiny is finally coming and they don’t know how to handle it. They will cut you out or block you for even engaging. Paul Graham and a partner at Andreessen Horowitz unfollowed after I made a few tweets in support of Gawker. A single email from any of these guys could torpedo my next round of funding. I have more to lose than to gain by putting my name next to this.

And that’s the point.

If the price of dissent in Silicon Valley is too high, dissent will find a darker avenue. The next ValleyWag is likely to be more like WikiLeaks. It could be anonymous. It could be outside the jurisdiction of The United States. And it could use all the shiny tools of the web, Tor, bitcoin financing, Zeronet, the blockchain, to exist above the law.

«

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Apple unlikely to make big changes for next iPhone • WSJ

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Eva Dou:

»The biggest planned change in this year’s phones is the removal of the headphone plug, which will make the phone thinner and improve its water resistance, said people familiar with that matter.

The Lightning connector will serve double-duty as a port for charging the phone and for connecting headphones, they said. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he expects the new iPhone to be one millimeter thinner than the current iPhone.

Apple plans bigger design changes for 2017, the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone. Those changes could include an edge-to-edge organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, screen and eliminating the home button by building the fingerprint sensor into the display, according to people familiar with the matter.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

«

So there will have to be some Extra Thing to make it worth plugging headphones into your Lightning connector. And as has been asked, how do you charge while listening to music?
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Moto X designer will soon be ex Moto designer • The Verge

Vlad Savov:

»Jim Wicks, the man responsible for the celebrated designs of the 2013 Moto X and 2014 Moto 360 smartwatch, is leaving the former Motorola after 15 years of loyal service. Having joined Motorola in 2001 after design lead roles at Sony and Sapient, Wicks was part of the leadership team that stayed on during the tumult of being taken over by Google and sold on to Lenovo. But this year has seen the Motorola name phased out from public use and Rick Osterloh, the previous chief of the company, departing to head up a new hardware unit at Google. Wicks is now following suit and moving into academia, joining Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute as a full-time faculty member.

«

As I’ve said before, I think Motorola won’t make another Android Wear smartwatch. It’s dead, Jim. The gutting of Motorola – well, that’s corporate life.
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Facebook scraps in-video links to other sites • BBC News

»Video-makers can still add a link to the text that appears at the top or bottom of native video posts. However, this does not appear if the video is being watched in full-screen mode, and will therefore be missed if a user is allowing one clip to auto-play after another.

A “click for more” link does still appear superimposed over videos viewed on PCs.
However, it now makes the clips appear larger rather than directing users to third-party websites, as had been the case before.

Many broadcasters – including the BBC – upload shortened versions of their material in order to direct audiences to the full versions on their own sites.

Others, such as al-Jazeera’s AJ+ service, are content to build awareness for their brands by making clips for the social media platform without trying to send users to their sites.

Facebook itself has an incentive to discourage audiences from leaving as this allows it to show them more ads.
“This is further evidence that having eaten the audiences for newspapers, Facebook is now keen to stifle the audiences for broadcasters,” commented Roy Greenslade, professor of journalism at City University London, and a former editor of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Times.

«

Facebook is becoming an inescapable gravity well for publishers.
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Now examining: Blade Runner • Typeset In The Future

Dave Addey goes into another of his deliciously detailed examinations of the fonts, symbols and typefaces (those are different, right?) in this iconic film. Previous efforts have looked at Moon and Alien. The latter was, like this, directed by Ridley Scott, and Addey notices something odd in an early scene when Deckard gets into a VTOL “Spinner”:

»The Spinner’s landscape-orientation TV shows a display that may be familiar to regular TITF readers:

This ENVIRON CTR PURGE display is identical to the one we saw in Alien, just before the Nostromo exploded :

As if that wasn’t enough self-plagiarism, Ridley Scott also steals a second display from his earlier sci-fi masterpiece.

«

There’s your lunchtime reading sorted.
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Refugee rescue app pulled from App Store after it is outed as fake • The Guardian

Alex Hern:

»An app which purported to offer aid to refugees lost in the Mediterranean has been pulled from Apple’s App Store after it was revealed as a fake.

The I Sea app, which also won a Bronze medal at the Cannes Lions conference on Monday night, presented itself as a tool to help report refugees lost at sea, using real-time satellite footage to identify boats in trouble and highlighting their location to the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (Moas), which would provide help.

In fact, the app did nothing of the sort. Rather than presenting real-time satellite footage – a difficult and expensive task – it instead simply shows a portion of a static, unchanging image. And while it claims to show the weather in the southern Mediterranean, that too isn’t that accurate: it’s for Western Libya.

The app was developed by Grey Group, an ad agency in Singapore that’s part of global advertising giant WPP.

«

Read on for complete and absolute bull spouted by Grey’s executive creative director about “algorithms”. Shameful, and shameless.
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How Is Donald Trump going to quit? • Gawker

Ashley Feinberg lays out four scenarios, of which this one – during the convention – strikes me as possible:

»Remember, absolutely everything Donald Trump does is about A) creating an appearance of having won and B) getting as much positive attention as humanly possible. To succeed in this scenario, Trump needs something huge to take everybody’s mind off the fact that he’s backing out of the presidency. Trump needs to announce Trump TV.

Or the Trump News Network or Trump Broadcasting or Der Stürmer or whatever he decides to call it. This way, Trump gets to turn the Republican National Convention, where virtually every media outlet in the nation has gathered, into a press conference for the launch of his very own television network.

As Vanity Fair pointed out, his whole campaign has basically been building to this point. His constant bashing of the media certainly must mean he thinks he can do it better. And to his credit, Trump does have a knack for commanding a national audience. Why bother being President, a job he neither wants nor is qualified for, when he can do the only part he actually enjoys (screaming things on television) for the rest of his life?

«

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The weird story behind the Trump campaign’s $35,000 payment to ‘Draper Sterling’ • ThinkProgress

Judd Legum on money paid to a company that oddly has the same name as the famous fictitious ad guys:

»[Jon] Adkins co-founded the medical device company with Paul Holzer, a former Navy Seal and current medical student at Dartmouth. Holzer was involved in Charlie Baker’s run for governor in 2014 — he ran the campaign’s “voter contact strategy.” He was also part of the “management and strategy team” for Missourians For John Brunner, a candidate for governor.

Trump paid an additional $3,000 each to Holzer and Adkins in May for “field consulting.” Holzer listed Adkins’ home as his address.

This is when things get interesting.

The only other apparent public mention of Draper Sterling effectively accuses it of being a scam that helps perpetrate legally questionable activity.

It comes from an FEC complaint against an entity called “Patriots For America,” a federal super PAC seeking to influence the Missouri governor’s race. The complaint, filed on May 12 by an economics professor named Aaron Hedlund, alleges that Patriots For America listed no receipts or disbursements on its FEC filings, yet sent out direct mail.

It also highlights an unusual debt of $56,234 to “Draper Sterling LLC” for “business consulting.” Hedlund describes the debt as “mysterious,” “highly unusual” and a potential violation of the law.

«

There’s usually something a bit fishy around presidential campaigns, but this is just weird. I find the Trump campaign’s (“campaign’s”) shenanigans endlessly fascinating because it’s like a clown car being driven on a Formula 1 circuit. Bits are flying off all over the place.
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Missing the boat in music • Asymco

Horace Dediu:

»how does a 15 million user base in 1 year compare with the growth rate for the incumbents Spotify and Pandora?

The following graph shows the ramps for Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music since their moments of market entry. The accumulation of users by Apple looks to be the fastest yet.

This is, of course, due to a maturing use case. Apple did not have to educate people to the notion of music as a subscription. It could just announce it and users would discover it and just sign up, especially if they were already iCloud subscribers and had a credit card attached to their iTunes account.

But that’s the whole point. Apple did not have to move first in music subscriptions. It did not even have to move second or third. When it did move it could just skim the market and add to its already healthy Services revenue (orange line in the first graph above.) Missing the boat in music in this case meant capturing all the value quickly and with minimal expense.

Fundamentally, Apple’s entry into music subscriptions was a sustaining effort. Streaming sustained Apple rather than disrupting it. The difference may seem merely one of semantics, but it is also the difference between life and death for a challenger. Meaning matters.

«

Some discussion in the comments about whether streaming is a disruptive innovation after all, rather than sustaining. My own comment there is that it depends on surrounding preconditions, which have taken years to come right.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified.

Start up: mobile phones still safe, Clinton’s email screwup, Apple Store life, Facebook everywhere, and more


You can study first dates using economics. Ask about their STDs! Photo by Thomas Hawk on Flickr.

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A selection of 13 links for you. There you are. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Cellphone radiation is still safer than viral science stories • Mashable

Jason Abbruzzese:

»Here’s the study’s title: “Report of Partial findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley® SD rats (Whole Body Exposure)

And here’s a summary from Mashable science editor Andrew Freedman: “The partial results show that exposing large doses of radiation over about two years to male rats can cause unusually high rates of two specific kinds of tumors. But the comparison to humans is a question mark and comparison even to the control group of rats is problematic because of abnormalities in that group. There are a lot of statistical oddities in the study.”

And now, a selection of headlines from various outlets that covered the study.

«

They’re all terrible misrepresentations. Survival in the control group of males was lower than in the exposed group of males. So.. mobile phones make you live longer?
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Why Google and Boston Dynamics are parting ways • Tech Insider

Danielle Muoio:

»In 2015, Google attempted to take control of the robotics groups to learn what they were working on and how it could be translated into a consumer product, the former employees said.

“That’s when we first started seeing Google…actually trying to have leadership structure over all those robotic groups,” one former employee said. “Where they’re saying, ‘Okay, what do you do? Are you mobility, are you vision?’ …. and grouping them and directing them toward a commercial product space.”

It’s still unclear what exactly Google wanted in terms of a consumer product. One former employee said Google wanted an easy-to-use robot that could help with basic tasks around the house. One idea pitched was that it would roam around on wheels, which could arguably be seen as more consumer friendly than a complex, legged robot.

Boston Dynamics, given that it was born out of the MIT Leg Lab, was rubbed that wrong way by that concept.

«

Word is that Boston Dynamics is being sold to Toyota.
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Clinton’s email shenanigans sure don’t look like an honest mistake • Bloomberg View

Megan McArdle:

»Today is the day that so many of us have been waiting for: The State Department’s Office of Inspector General has released its report about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state. The report does not uncover any smoking guns – no records of Clinton saying “Heh, heh, heh, they’ll never FOIA my e-mails NOW!!!!” – what it does lay out is deeply troubling. Even though her supporters have already begun the proclamations of “nothing to see here, move along.”

It lays to rest the longtime Clinton defense that this use of a private server was somehow normal and allowed by government rules: It was not normal, and was not allowed by the government rules in place at the time “The Department’s current policy, implemented in 2005, is that normal day-to-day operations should be conducted on an authorized Automated Information System (AIS), which “has the proper level of security control to … ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information.”

It also shreds the defense that “Well, Colin Powell did it too” into very fine dust, and then neatly disposes of the dust…

… it isn’t minor. Setting up an e-mail server in a home several states away from the security and IT folks, in disregard of the rules designed to protect state secrets and ensure good government records, and then hiring your server administrator to a political slot while he keeps managing your system on government time … this is not acceptable behavior in a government official. If Clinton weren’t the nominee, or if she had an R after her name rather than a D, her defenders would have no difficulty recognizing just how troubling it is.

«

Clinton really, really screwed this up.
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Q&A with an Apple Store worker: ‘yes, it’s like a cult’ • Business Insider

Jim Edwards had a long chat with an ex-Apple Store employee, who has tons of fascinating detail, including this:

»BI: You were at Apple for four years. Why couldn’t you become a store manager?

A: It’s very difficult at Apple. We had between five and eight store managers during my time at the store, of varying kinds. Only one of them had started at Apple the rest had been recruited from elsewhere. From, say, Dixons or HMV.

BI: Why don’t they promote from within? Surely the regular sales staff are the most knowledgeable?

A: That was a hugely contentious issue. They did try to fix that with a “Lead and Learn” programme, where you train on the shop floor by acting as a manager without being a manager. We had some great people on the shop floor, people who had been there for five years, who were selling more than anyone else. But they were still just specialists or experts [two of the lowest ranked positions at Apple].

BI: So why is Apple not promoting these people?

A: I don’t know. It was controversial, hence the “Lead and Learn” programme. But as far as I’m aware — and I’m still in contact with these people — no-one on this programme has been promoted to manager. There are other jobs in-store that can earn you more money, but they’re technical jobs, like working at the Genius Bar, which a lot of people absolutely hated because you’re dealing with really angry customers.

«

Tons more in there. Worth the time.
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Facebook wants to help sell every ad on the web • WSJ

Jack Marshall:

»Facebook has set out to power all advertising across the Internet.

To that end, the social network and online advertising company said Thursday it will now help marketers show ads to all users who visit websites and applications in its Audience Network ad network. Previously Facebook only showed ads to members of its social network when they visited those third-party properties.

The change is a subtle one, but it could mean Facebook will soon help to sell and place a much larger portion of the video and display ads that appear across the Internet. The change will also intensify competition with Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Google, which dominates the global digital-advertising market, and a wide range of other online ad specialists.

“Publishers and app developers have some users who aren’t Facebook users. We think we can do a better job powering those ads,” said Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook’s ads and business platform.

«

1.6bn people on Facebook; 3.2bn people using the internet worldwide. Room to grow.
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How many stories do newspapers publish per day? • The Atlantic

Robinson Meyer:

»The [New York] Times says it publishes several hundred stories from the Associated Press or other wire services online every day, but almost all of them expire and go offline after a few weeks. The number of wire stories that make it to the print paper—about 13 per day—hasn’t changed significantly since 2010.

At The Wall Street Journal, the set-up is different. Because the Journal’s online content more closely mirrors what makes it into the paper, it publishes only about 240 stories per day. That’s both online and in print. About seven wire stories per day make it into the paper.

At the Journal, the number of stories per day has fallen more significantly than at other venues. Five years ago, the paper published about 325 stories per day. A spokeswoman told me that the recent drop in Wall Street Journal stories per day can be explained by the fact that the paper integrated its own newsroom with the Dow Jones wire service in 2013.

«

Wolfgang Blau, formerly at the Guardian and now at Conde Nast, has a comment on this, including this dangerous observation:

»journalism – just like search, social or e-commerce, but with a delay – is now globalizing and will be dominated by publishers whose home base is already large enough to make it there, i. e. the US or China. The British model of having to expand into the US just to finance their domestic operation (Daily Mail, Guardian) is doomed…

«

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Does online media have a political agenda? • Parsely

Conrad Lee:

»A couple of months ago, Journalist Nicholas Kristof wrote a controversial op-ed column in The New York Times about how “The Media Helped Make Trump.” In the piece, he argued that the $1.9 billion in free publicity that the media has given Donald Trump so far during this election cycle has provided him with a platform from which to spew “outrageous statements that [draw] ever more cameras — without facing enough skeptical follow-up questions.” In the aftermath of Kristof’s piece, readers and journalists fervently debated the veracity of his claims.

Because we work with media sites around the world to help answer questions about how readers are responding to content, Parse.ly is in a unique position to provide insight into this particular debate. We analyzed more than one billion page views across more than 100,000 articles to figure out which of the last five remaining major U.S. Presidential candidates were getting the most attention both from reporters and readers.

PLAY WITH OUR DATA

The results surprised us, suggesting that while journalists seem to be preoccupied with covering Trump, the public is not especially interested in reading about him.

«

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The celebrity privacy case that exposes hypocrisy of Silicon Valley power brokers • The Guardian

Evgeny Morozov:

»Silicon Valley’s elites hate such intrusion into their personal lives. Had they worked for any other industry, their concerns would be justified. But they work for an industry that tries to convince us that privacy does not matter and that transparency and deregulation are the way to go. Since they do not lead by example, why shouldn’t their hypocrisy be exposed?

If tech elites are so concerned about privacy, they can start backing initiatives such as the right to be forgotten. Why can’t Thiel – a backer of the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual gathering of the world’s dissidents where the Human Rights Foundation awards the Václav Havel international prize for creative dissent – help us to make sure that embarrassing content, taken out of context and now enjoying worldwide circulation thanks to social networks and search engines, is easier to manage?

This won’t happen, as the right to be forgotten undermines the very business model – grab whatever data is available – on which the untaxed riches of Silicon Valley are built. In Thiel’s ideal world, our data flows freely and the tech companies can hoover it up as they see fit. Should someone else pry into our lives, disclosing intimate details and making money out of it, then it suddenly becomes a crime against humanity.

A world where the tech elites have all the privacy that they want while the rest of us have to either accept living in public or invest in market solutions like online reputation systems is a world that rests on foundations that are so hypocritical and so ridiculous that they must be exposed.

«

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Google steps up pressure on partners tardy in updating Android • Bloomberg

Jack Clark and Scott Moritz:

»Smaller Android phone makers didn’t even attempt the monthly goal [for security updates to Android]. HTC Corp. executive Jason Mackenzie called it “unrealistic” last year. Motorola previously tried to get handsets three years old or newer patched twice a year. It’s now aiming for quarterly updates, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Google is trying to persuade carriers to exclude its security patches from the full series of tests, which can cost several hundred thousand dollars for each model, according to an executive at a leading Android handset maker.

“Google has come a long way since Stagefright,” said Joshua Drake, a senior researcher at mobile security firm Zimperium. But it’s still a struggle because some carriers don’t treat security as a priority, while phone makers have other incentives, such as selling new devices, he added.

Google is using more forceful tactics. It has drawn up lists that rank top phone makers by how up-to-date their handsets are, based on security patches and operating system versions, according to people familiar with the matter. Google shared this list with Android partners earlier this year. It has discussed making it public to highlight proactive manufacturers and shame tardy vendors through omission from the list, two of the people said. The people didn’t want to be identified to maintain their relationships with Google.

“Google is putting pressure on,” said Sprint’s [vp of product development Ryan] Sullivan, who has seen data that Google uses to track who is falling behind. “Since we are the final approval, we are applying pressure because our customers are expecting it.”

«

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On Peter Thiel and Gawker • Elizabeth Spiers

Spiers was the founding editor of Gawker (2002-3) which “was mostly interested in insider media stuff, and even then, it just wasn’t that scandalous”; now she’s a venture capitalist. She has never met Thiel, but thinks his acts in going after Gawker might worry future co-investors or entrepreneurs working with him:

»he would have been someone I’d have been curious to meet, in part because I am convinced that he’s smart, provocative, and thinks in a very long term way about big thorny problems.

But there’s interesting-fun-mercurial and there’s the kind of mercurial where you start to worry about being anywhere near the blast radius when the person blows up, for of being completely incinerated — maybe even unintentionally. And that’s where I wonder what he’s like as an investor in situations where he’s actively involved. If you have a disagreement with him, is the result a reasonable adjudication of the conflict, or is there always a possibility that even small things could result in total annihilation?

And because I know there’s someone somewhere reading this and thinking “well, what the fuck is wrong with total annihilation when someone screws you over?”, here’s what I’d say: there’s a reason why proportionality is an important concept in the ethics of warfare and I think there’s a parallel here. I don’t want to go into Just War Theory/jus en bello rules of engagement or whether it’s a morally correct military doctrine, but if we didn’t largely hew to it, we could easily end up in a “because we can” cycle of foreign policy that allows wealthy powerful nations to catastrophically and relentlessly attack weaker ones for minor offenses. Disproportionate response facilitates tyranny.

«

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When journalism gets confused with cyberbullying • Medium

Kristi Culpepper:

»What I do find interesting, however, is that so many journalists clamored to Gawker’s defense. Most non-journalists that I converse with were delighted to see Gawker taken down so spectacularly. Gawker is a morally repulsive publication — and not Larry Flynt repulsive, but let’s utterly destroy some random person’s life for giggles repulsive.

Gawker relishes abusive content and most of the time does not care if the claims they are making about people can be verified. We aren’t talking about a publication that stops at publishing celebrity nudes and sex tapes without permission, but that publishes videos of a woman being raped in a bathroom stall in a sports bar despite her begging them not to. Contrary to what several of the reporters in my Twitter feed have suggested, Gawker does not have a reputation for “punching up.” They just punch.

I think reporters’ displays of support for Gawker in this case raises a lot of questions about ethics in journalism and demonstrates an overarching decline in editorial standards as traditional media competes with online venues. The test of journalism should be whether reporting or writing serves a public purpose. It says a lot about the state of journalism that public interest is now confused with arbitrary victimization and cyberbullying. There are pre-teens on Facebook with more professional restraint.

«

Culpepper describes herself as a “bond market geek” (so hardly a hedge fund owner or billionaire), and points to the fact that it was Gawker which published the ironic tweet by a PR boarding a plane and turned it into a job- and career-destroying experience, besides plenty else.

That said, print publications have done plenty of mad damage to people too.
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The market failure of first dates • Priceonomics

Sarah Scharf:

»While not rocking the boat may seem like ideal strategy for getting a second date, [economist Dan] Ariely argues that sticking to neutral topics (haven’t we all been on a date where the weather was discussed ad nauseum?) creates a “bad equilibrium”—an outcome where both sides converge, but neither side is pleased with it.

In an experiment he ran with online daters, subjects were forced to eschew safe topics in their messages and only throw out probing, personally revealing questions like “How many lovers have you had?” or “Do you have any STDs?”

The result? Both sides were more satisfied with the outcome. So the next time you find yourself on a “boring” date, the solution may be to push the envelope—and converge upon a new equilibrium.

«

This economic look at why and how dates work is great. (Note: I haven’t been on a first date for more than 20 years but am guessing stuff hasn’t really changed.) the next article in the series is how Subaru targeted lesbians to get a foothold in the US market. I’m agog.
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Jawbone stops production of fitness trackers • Tech Insider

Steve Kovach:

»It’s been over a year since Jawbone has released a new flagship fitness tracker. Despite entering the wearables market almost five years ago, Jawbone has failed to gain any significant market share in the space. FitBit and Apple currently dominate.

Jawbone raised a new $165m round of funding in January. The company’s CEO Hosain Rahman told Tech Insider a few months ago that the company plans to use that money to develop clinical-grade fitness trackers.

«

Jawbone is also looking to sell its speaker business. It’s cashing in its chips in the consumer space and heading upmarket, having been driven out of business at the low end. Wearables is consolidating fast: there have been a number of purchases of smaller companies by larger ones in adjacent spaces.
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Start up: blocking Trump,dissecting Pencil, evaluating Uber, and more


“Hey, I can’t find our product marketing guy in here either!” Photo of an HTC Vive wearer by pestoverde on Flickr.

You can now sign up to receive each day’s Start Up post by email. You’ll need to click a confirmation link, so no spam.

A selection of 11 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Apple Pencil teardown » iFixit

We’ve caught sight of more chips at the other end, so we ditch the battery and move to the fun stuff—like the teeeny logic board!

This little board is folded in half to make the most of the minimal space. Clever!

What is this—a logic board for ants? Not quite, but weighing in at a whopping 1.0 gram it’s definitely the smallest we’ve ever seen.

Really, really tiny engineering.
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IBM Watson Trend pegs Apple Watch as hottest holiday gift » Apple Insider

Neil Hughes:

IBM on Wednesday launched a new app and service called Watson Trend, which forecasts what consumer products will be popular this holiday season based on online chatter. Currently dominating the list: the Apple Watch.

IBM Watson Trend is a free download from the iOS App Store, designed for both iPhone and iPad. It uses IBM’s supercomputer technology to read and interpret millions of reviews, expert blogs and social media conversations to determine what gifts people are talking about.

By far the most popular device on the list is the Apple Watch, which has maintained a “trend score” above 90 (out of 100) since mid-August. With a perfect score of 100 as of Wednesday, the Apple Watch has a score nearly double that of the next closest product: Samsung TVs.

Of course, the Watson algorithm simply says that users are talking about the Apple Watch, not necessarily buying it. Apple’s actual hottest selling product is the iPhone lineup, which observers expect to sell nearly 80m units in this quarter alone.

Isn’t in the UK app store >:-| but is on the web too. The only phone in the list on Thursday night was the iPhone 6S, at a trend score of “3” out of 100. Hm.
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Sky News broadcasts first 360-degree virtual reality news report on migrants crisis » UK Press Gazette

Dominic Ponsford:

Sky News has broadcast its first virtual reality news report: Migrants Crisis, The Whole Picture.

The report has been produced with technology from Jaunt Inc and uses a camera with multiple lenses to take a 360-degree moving image.

This can be then viewed with a smartphone placed inside a Google Cardboard VR viewer, which costs around £15.

It’s the future; mark it in your diary for future reference.
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Gawker’s Kinja retreat is more evidence publishers struggle as tech companies » Digiday

Ricardo Bilton:

Gawker the tech company is back to being just Gawker the media company.

Alongside the news that it’s shifting its coverage to focus on politics, Gawker said that it’s also abandoning its pipe dream of licensing its publishing and commenting platform Kinja to other media companies. The shift away from the licensing model made sense, “given the competition that exists from technology companies devoted entirely to that challenge,” wrote CEO Nick Denton. Gawker, will, however, continue to use the platform for its own sites.

Gawker called itself a tech company for the same reason that the likes of BuzzFeed and Vox Media do: Compared to the sky-high valuations and thick margins of tech companies, media companies make for bad investments. The “media-company-as-tech-company” narrative made for better PR story than an actual business model.

“The idea of selling tech to other publishers is probably foolhardy at best,” said Todd Sawicki, CEO of Zemanta, a firm that amplifies content ads. “It’s like fighting a land war in Asia. If your goal is to sell tech to other publishers, I would question that from the start.”

Harsh, but fair. I could never see how anyone would want to buy Kinja – the price of commenting and publishing platforms has long since fallen to zero, since (or possibly before) WordPress 1.0.
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VBB-Livekarte

Fascinating live map of public transport in Berlin. Notable too because the map is from OpenStreetMap, not Google. (Via Benedict Evans.)
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Magic Leap poaches HTC Vive’s executive director of global marketing ahead of launch [exclusive] » UploadVR

Will Mason:

In an exclusive interview with UploadVR, Gattis said that his decision came down to two things, the technology’s potential and how close that potential was to being realized.

“I think what struck me so much about Magic Leap was the quality of the technology and seeing how far along it was. I knew there was a great vision but I didn’t know how far along the technology was and how close it is to becoming real and commercial,” he says. “That was the biggest takeaway for me, how it advanced and how quickly it has gotten to the point it is at now.”

One of the things that makes Gattis’ hire as the Director of Product Marketing so interesting is it suggests that the company may be getting close to finally pulling back the veil on what they have been working on. Recently, Magic Leap began speaking a little bit more about its technology now that it has moved out of the R&D phase and into the “transitional stage for presenting a new product.”

“Do you want to work at our gigantically VC-funded company on the west coast, or for that dwindling company which is laying people off?” Tough recruiting pitch, eh.
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Boom: the Return » Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff:

the recently-released iPad Pro seems to have the much-awaited USB3 capability on its Lightning connector. It does ship with a Lightning-to-USB2 cable, though, and USB3 capability isn’t mentioned in the tech specs.

The main objection to this actually happening is that Lightning, with its 8 pins, doesn’t have enough pins to support the standard USB 3 specification. This is, again, the old assumption that Lightning cables are “just… wires leading from one end to the other”.

To restate what I posted previously, if you actually look at the USB3 pinout, there are the two differential pairs which Lightning already has, and one additional pair for USB2 compatibility. So a legacy wire-to-wire USB3 cable would need 9 pins — but, remember, Lightning connectors don’t work that way!

In other words, if you plug in an old Lightning-to-USB2 cable into an iOS device, the cable itself already has to convert the two differential pairs to USB2’s single pair. So, no need to have the extra legacy pair on the Lightning connector itself — a future Lightning-to-USB3 cable will generate that as well, and use the two high-speed pairs when plugged into a USB3 peripheral. The current pinout is, therefore, quite sufficient.

So.. USB3 for free? Seems good. What’s the delay, then?
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What is Sky Q, when is it coming and how can I get it? » Pocket-lint

Luke Edwards and Chris Hall:

The Sky Q Mini box is your gateway to viewing Sky content in other rooms. This connects to your main Sky Q box, either by Wi-Fi or via powerline networking, letting you use your electrical wiring to carry the information between boxes. Powerline networking is built-in across Sky Q devices, which works if you also subscribe to Sky broadband and have the Sky Q Hub installed.

The Sky Q Mini box also only supports up to full HD, but it can work as a Wi-Fi hotspot, expanding your Sky Broadband connection. Again, this is reliant on a Sky Q Hub. It is possible to use the Sky Q TV service and the Mini boxes using a separate internet service provider, but you cannot use them as Wi-Fi extenders or through powerline connectivity.

You’ll get full access to all the Sky Q features through the Mini box, be that live TV, watch recordings stored on the main Sky Q or Silver boxes, or view on demand content.

Sky Q touch remote: The new remote adds touch, so there will be less button pressing and more swiping to help you get around. It’s also a Bluetooth remote, so there’s no need for line-of-sight, perfect for those who want to hide the Sky Q box out of sight.

It also features a built-in microphone, and in the future it will be offering voice as a search option, helping you quickly find your content.

Sky, clearly, begs to differ with the notion that “the future of TV is apps”. It’s going pretty strongly for the integrated viewing approach. It’s also adept at staying just in line with peoples’ expectations for how they want to consume content.
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Quarter: Apple Pencil Dock and Protective Cap by Jason Lim » Kickstarter

Neat and cheap idea for how you keep the Apple Pencil from vanishing: plug it in to the device. Come on, Jony Ive, your team’s falling behind.
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Analyzing 1.1bn NYC taxi and Uber trips, with a vengeance » Todd W. Schneider

Schneider grapples with the amazingly detailed yellow taxi data – pickup and dropoff points (seriously – who cares about privacy, eh?) – and compared it with “green taxi” (non-Manhattan) and Uber trips:

Uber has grown dramatically in Manhattan as well, notching a 275% increase in pickups from June 2014 to June 2015, while taxi pickups declined by 9% over the same period. Uber made 1.4 million more Manhattan pickups in June 2015 than it did in June 2014, while taxis made 1.1 million fewer pickups. However, even though Uber picked up nearly 2 million Manhattan passengers in June 2015, Uber still accounts for less than 15% of total Manhattan pickups:

Queens still has more yellow taxi pickups than green taxi pickups, but that’s entirely because LaGuardia and JFK airports are both in Queens, and they are heavily served by yellow taxis. And although Uber has experienced nearly Brooklyn-like growth in Queens, it still lags behind yellow and green taxis, though again the yellow taxis are heavily influenced by airport pickups:

Uber is clearly expanding the market, which is not what the narrative might lead you to expect.
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Trump content blocker for iOS » Trump Trump

Trump-free browsing. Block links, images and websites related to the word Trump. Why would you want anything Trump on your iPhone? Banish Trump from the web. The easiest way to make Trump go away for good. No need to manually edit blacklists, rules, etc. Filter Trump out of your life.

I think everyone can agree that this is A Good Thing.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: