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Build-A-Bear 'Pay Your Age Day' chaos is sign of success - Business Insider
I love it when an honest, accurate, non-sensationalized headline is enough to make you laugh.

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3 days ago by rufous
Bhutan Travel: Kingdom of the Clouds Tour
My thanks to Gray Langur Tours for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Gray Langur’s Kingdom of the Clouds Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime, all-inclusive, 2-week exploration of one of the world’s least accessible, yet astonishingly forward-thinking countries. Bhutan is the the only place where “Gross National Happiness” is more important than Gross National Product, and tourism is regulated with care.

On October 16, 2018, Gray Langur Tours will return to this fascinating Himalayan Kingdom for the third annual Royal Highlander Festival. Last year’s tour was a smashing success, and guests even got to meet Bhutan’s king.

An exotic location — the last surviving great Himalayan kingdom — with truly expert guides. Check out their website and see just how amazing Bhutan is. Gray Langur was founded by Gabriel Cubbage, who until recently was the CEO of AdBlock and whom I’ve known personally for over 10 years. He’s a great guy. I would love to hear from DF readers who take this tour (or who took last year’s tour).

Availability is extremely limited. Daring Fireball readers can use the code DARINGFIREBALL for a 10% discount.

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3 days ago by rufous
Magic Leap Finally Demoed Its Headset And It Is... Disappointing - Digg
I’ve long been suspicious that the reason Magic Leap is so secretive about their actual technology is that it’s nowhere close to what they promised in their concept videos. This seems to confirm it.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that this puff piece from Wired back in December — “It’s Time to Take Magic Leap Seriously” — is not going to age well.

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5 days ago by rufous
This $39 Device Can Defeat iOS USB Restricted Mode | ElcomSoft blog
Oleg Afonin, writing for the ElcomSoft blog:

What we discovered is that iOS will reset the USB Restrictive Mode countdown timer even if one connects the iPhone to an untrusted USB accessory, one that has never been paired to the iPhone before (well, in fact the accessories do not require pairing at all). In other words, once the police officer seizes an iPhone, he or she would need to immediately connect that iPhone to a compatible USB accessory to prevent USB Restricted Mode lock after one hour. Importantly, this only helps if the iPhone has still not entered USB Restricted Mode.

Most (if not all) USB accessories fit the purpose — for example, Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter from Apple.

They think this might be tricky for Apple to fix:

Can Apple change it in future versions of iOS? To us, it seems highly unlikely simply because of the humongous amount of MFi devices that aren’t designed to support such a change. Theoretically, iOS could remember which devices were connected to the iPhone, and only allow those accessories to establish connectivity without requiring an unlock — but that’s about all we can think of.

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5 days ago by rufous
10 years of the App Store: The design evolution of the earliest apps | 9to5Mac
Michael Steeber, writing for 9to5Mac:

Few contemporary innovations have changed how we live our lives and interact with the world around us more than iPhone apps. The creators of the first 500 available at launch had the unique opportunity of shaping the design direction and interaction methods of the millions of apps created since.

To celebrate the App Store’s 10th anniversary, let’s study the visual evolution of 10 original App Store apps.

Another great look back. Steeber selected a great group of apps from 2008 that are still going strong, and perfectly illustrates their design evolutions.

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5 days ago by rufous
The App Store turns 10 - Apple
There have been a slew of retrospectives marking the 10-year anniversary of the App Store, but Apple’s own is the most interesting I’ve seen.

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5 days ago by rufous
Former Apple Employee Charged With Theft of Trade Secrets Related to Autonomous Car Project - Mac Rumors
Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

In April 2018, Zhang took family leave from Apple following the birth of his child, and during that time, he visited China. Shortly after, he told his supervisor at Apple he was leaving the company and moving to China to work for XMotors, a Chinese startup that also focuses on autonomous vehicle technology. […]

A review of recorded footage at Apple indicated Zhang had visited the campus on the evening of Saturday, April 28, entering both Apple’s autonomous vehicle software and hardware labs, which coincided with data download times, and he left with a box of hardware.

In a second interview with Apple’s security team, Zhang admitted to taking both online data and hardware (a Linux server and circuit boards) from Apple during his paternity leave. He also admitted to AirDropping sensitive content from his own device to his wife’s laptop.

All of Apple’s evidence was relayed to the FBI after the company’s Digital Forensic Investigations team discovered that at least 60 percent of the data Zhang had downloaded and transferred to his wife’s computer was “highly problematic.” The FBI, in the court filing, describes the information as “largely technical in nature, including engineering schematics, technical reference manuals, and technical reports.”

Holy shit.

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6 days ago by rufous
Apple combines machine learning and Siri teams under Giannandrea – TechCrunch
Matthew Panzarino, writing at TechCrunch:

Apple is creating a new AI/ML team that brings together its Core ML and Siri teams under one leader in John Giannandrea.

Apple confirmed this morning that the combined Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning team, which houses Siri, will be led by the recent hire, who came to Apple this year after an eight-year stint at Google, where he led the Machine Intelligence, Research and Search teams. Before that he founded Metaweb Technologies and Tellme.

The internal structures of the Siri and Core ML teams will remain the same, but they will now answer to Giannandrea.

This exactly what I expected after they announced the hiring of Giannandrea. It takes Siri and ML off Craig Federighi’s plate, and allows Giannandrea to report directly to Tim Cook.

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6 days ago by rufous
Exclusive: Apple to deploy 1Password to all 123,000 employees, acquisition talks underway – BGR
Jonathan Geller, writing at BGR:

Apple acquires an average of 15 to 20 companies a year, according to CEO Tim Cook. Of that number, we only hear about a couple, as most of these acquisitions or aqcui-hires are not consumer-facing, nor disclosed. However, we have exclusively learned that Apple is planning an interesting partnership and a potential acquisition of AgileBits, maker of the popular password manager 1Password.

According to our source, after many months of planning, Apple plans to deploy 1Password internally to all 123,000 employees. This includes not just employees in Cupertino, but extends all the way to retail, too. Furthermore, the company is said to have carved out a deal that includes family plans, giving up to 5 family members of each employee a free license for 1Password.

Great news and a resounding endorsement of 1Password for AgileBits. But if Apple thinks 1Password is this good, an acquisition seems like an obvious next step.

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6 days ago by rufous
Apple releases iOS 11.4.1 and blocks passcode cracking tools used by police - The Verge
Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:

Apple today released iOS 11.4.1, and while most of us are already looking ahead to all the new stuff coming in iOS 12, this small update contains an important new security feature: USB Restricted Mode. Apple has added protections against the USB devices being used by law enforcement and private companies that connect over Lightning to crack an iPhone’s passcode and evade Apple’s usual encryption safeguards.

Great news and an elegant solution.

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7 days ago by rufous
302 Found
Jean-Louis Gassée:

Just as old Cultures can no longer “see” their origins, Intel pushed under its consciousness the true source of the x86’s superiority: The margins it commanded through the Windows monopoly. Better manufacturing technology became Intel’s “conscious” explanation, but the truth was that in the PC era, non-Windows microprocessors simply couldn’t compete and had to settle for lower prices. The worst part of the Culture dictate is that Intel believed its own story, at least until it stopped working as interlopers such as TSMC came up with competitive technology. How else to explain their sale of their ARM-centered Xscale to Marvell in 2006?

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7 days ago by rufous
How Smart TVs in Millions of U.S. Homes Track More Than What’s On Tonight - The New York Times
Sapna Maheshwari, writing for The New York Times:

Once enabled, Samba TV can track nearly everything that appears on the TV on a second-by-second basis, essentially reading pixels to identify network shows and ads, as well as programs on Netflix and HBO and even video games played on the TV. Samba TV has even offered advertisers the ability to base their targeting on whether people watch conservative or liberal media outlets and which party’s presidential debate they watched.

The big draw for advertisers — which have included Citi and JetBlue in the past, and now Expedia — is that Samba TV can also identify other devices in the home that share the TV’s internet connection.

Creepy as hell. No thanks.

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7 days ago by rufous
Apple's AirPods and Live Listen are a revolution for the hearing impaired — Quartz
Looking forward to more stories like this once iOS 12 is out of beta.

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7 days ago by rufous
BBC - Jonathan Ross - In Search of Steve Ditko, part 1 of 7 - YouTube
Steve Ditko, the reclusive co-creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, died yesterday at 90. This documentary from around 10 years ago for the BBC by Jonathan Ross is a terrific look at his life and work.

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9 days ago by rufous
Samsung Estimates Operating-Profit Growth at 5%, Short of Expectations - WSJ
Timothy Martin, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:

Sales of the company’s latest flagship device, the Galaxy S9, have been weak, as consumers keep their phones longer and remain unimpressed with the newest options.

Lee Seung-woo, a Seoul-based analyst at Eugene Investment and Securities, expects Samsung will ship about 31 million Galaxy S9 devices in 2018. That would mark a dramatic decline from just two years ago, when the Galaxy S7 became Samsung’s best-selling phone ever, with roughly 50 million shipments.

Imagine the hysteria if flagship iPhone sales dropped 40 percent in two years.

I’m not so sure that the S9 is particularly “unimpressive” compared to previous Samsung phones so much as that other high-end Android handsets have caught up. I think what’s happening to Samsung is what many thought would happen to the iPhone circa 2013 — they’re losing sales to “good enough” phones from a dozen other Android makers from around the world. Even the high-end Android market is turning into a commodity market.

iOS is the moat that separates Apple from the pack, just like MacOS is in the PC market. Samsung doesn’t really have a moat. If anything, their proprietary software is worse than the off-the-shelf Android from Google. What’s the argument for buying an S9 instead of, say, a Pixel or OnePlus or whatever else has a great display and camera?

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9 days ago by rufous
Twitter is sweeping out fake accounts like never before, putting user growth at risk
Craig Timberg and Elizabeth Dwoskin, reporting for The Washington Post:

Twitter has sharply escalated its battle against fake and suspicious accounts, suspending more than 1 million a day in recent months, a major shift to lessen the flow of disinformation on the platform, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

The rate of account suspensions, which Twitter confirmed to The Post, has more than doubled since October, when the company revealed under congressional pressure how Russia used fake accounts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. Twitter suspended more than 70 million accounts in May and June, and the pace has continued in July, according to the data.

I understand that “monthly active users” count has been a major metric that investors have used to value Twitter. But it’s a failure of Twitter’s executive team that they allowed the company to painted into a corner where the company benefitted by looking the other way at large scale fraud because of an inflated “user” count.

Twitter’s executives should’ve started hammering home the point years ago that monthly active users is a legitimate metric, but monthly active accounts is not, and that in fact fake accounts are detrimental to the health of Twitter’s social network. Better late than never, but this should’ve started years ago.

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9 days ago by rufous
Scott Pruitt Wasn’t Corrupt Enough for Trumpistan
Rick Wilson, writing at The Daily Beast:

Donald Trump is unequivocal proof that A’s hire B’s and B’s hire C’s, and Trump hires people without the judgment, qualifications, ethical foundations, and moral stature to run an underground bum-fighting operation. Scott Pruitt’s obvious money problems should have screamed out in any background check, to say nothing of a Senate confirmation hearing.

Pruitt is a man, like so many of Trump’s claque of low-rent hoodlums, bus-station conmen, edge-case dead-enders, and caged-immigrant child porn aficionados, utterly unsuited to a role of public trust and responsibility.

I enjoy a column that works “bum-fighting” and “claque” into consecutive paragraphs.

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10 days ago by rufous
Apple Passes Over Intel in Search for Chips for a Future iPhone - Ctech
Yoav Stoler, reporting for Israeli news site CTech:

Intel will not provide 5G modems for Apple’s 2020 mobile devices, according to internal company communications reviewed by Calcalist, and people familiar with the matter. Apple has notified Intel it would not use a mobile modem developed by the chipmaker in its next-generation mobile device, Intel executives said in the communications. Further development of the modem component internally called “Sunny Peak” has been halted and the Intel team that’s working on the product will be redirected to other efforts, the executives said.

Watching Intel in the mobile space is like watching someone try to start a fire with a wet matchbook.

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10 days ago by rufous
How the Disposable Straw Explains Modern Capitalism - The Atlantic
Alexis Madrigal on the history of the disposable drinking straw. Fascinating — seriously.

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11 days ago by rufous
News media paid Melania Trump thousands for use of photos in 'positive stories only'
NBC News:

President Donald Trump’s most recent financial disclosure reveals that in 2017 the first lady earned at least $100,000 from Getty Images for the use of any of a series of 187 photos of the first family shot between 2010 and 2016 by Belgian photographer Regine Mahaux.

It’s not unheard of for celebrities to earn royalties from photos of themselves, but it’s very unusual for the wife of a currently serving elected official. More problematic for the many news organizations that have published or broadcast the images, however, is that Getty’s licensing agreement stipulates the pictures can be used in “positive stories only.”

The non-stop grift continues.

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14 days ago by rufous

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