Exponent Podcast: Inverted Pyramids – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
via Stratechery by Ben Thompson

On Exponent, the weekly podcast I host with James Allworth, we discuss AWS, MongoDB, and the Economic Realities of Open Source.

Listen to it here.
IFTTT  stratechery 
5 hours ago
Why Spider-Verse has the most inventive visuals you’ll see this year! | fxguide
The secret behind the Spider-Verse look

FXGuide:

The film’s genus lies in two key choices: firstly, the film makers did not hide away from the fact that there have been so many different tellings of the Spider-Man story previously, but rather embraced it. Secondly, they designed an original comic book visual style unlike any other film. Together these elements have been perfectly combined to produce a surprisingly original film that delivers the most inventive visuals seen this year.

This is amazingly informative. Each section of the article starts with a panel that shows off a specific technique, then digs into what went into making that look so compelling.

What a great movie.

[H/T @brisance]

∞ Read this on The Loop
ifttt  rss 
6 hours ago
iPhone XS Smart Battery Case Review | iMore
from Daring Fireball

I got mine this morning. First impressions:

It’s thick and heavy, but for a practical reason. It packs a big battery. I’m writing this at 10p and my iPhone is still at 100 percent. The case is on the cusp of depletion, but I had only gotten it up to 75 percent before unplugging it. It’s a much more clever design than the previous one. Texture- and button-wise, it feels exactly like Apple’s regular silicone cases.

One note: mine arrived with 0 percent charge. From what I’ve seen, so is everyone else’s. Apple products usually arrive with some usable amount of battery charge, but I think something is different about standalone batteries, as opposed to batteries built into devices. Apple.com’s ordering page even states that standalone lithium-based batteries can only ship by ground, not air. At 0 percent, it wouldn’t charge when placed on a Qi charger. I had to charge it via Lightning for a bit first, then it worked on the Qi charger as expected.

If you want a battery case, I feel certain Apple’s is the one to get. But if you only need a portable charger occasionally, I think an external battery pack is still the way to go — if only because it’ll charge any device.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
19 hours ago
www.washingtonpost.com
from Daring Fireball

Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, reporting for The Washington Post:

U.S. regulators have met to discuss imposing a record-setting fine against Facebook for violating a legally binding agreement with the government to protect the privacy of its users’ personal data, according to three people familiar with the deliberations but not authorized to speak on the record.

The fine under consideration at the Federal Trade Commission, a privacy and security watchdog that began probing Facebook last year, would mark the first major punishment levied against Facebook in the United States since reports emerged in March that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, accessed personal information on about 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

The penalty is expected to be much larger than the $22.5 million fine the agency imposed on Google in 2012. That fine set a record for the greatest penalty for violating an agreement with the FTC to improve its privacy practices.

It could be 10 times the $22 million fine levied against Google and it wouldn’t make Facebook bat an eyelash or regret anything. The company needs to be broken up.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
20 hours ago
Google to pay $40 million for Fossil's secret smartwatch tech - new products incoming
from Daring Fireball

Paul Lamkin, writing for Wareable:

The Fossil Group and Google have exclusively revealed to Wareable that Google will pay Fossil $40 million to buy intellectual property related to a smartwatch technology currently under development.

The deal, which will see some of Fossil’s R&D team joining Google, will result in the launch of a “new product innovation that’s not yet hit the market”. That’s according to Greg McKelvey, EVP and chief strategy and digital officer of the Fossil Group, who also stated to us that he sees the deal as transaction, rather than an acquisition.

Apple Watch isn’t mentioned once in the article, but this deal is all about Apple Watch’s success. Pixel Watch, anyone?

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
yesterday
Facebook's internal documents about how it made money off children to be releasedReveal
from Daring Fireball

Nathan Halverson, reporting for Reveal:

“In nearly all cases the parents knew their child was playing Angry Birds, but didn’t think the child would be allowed to buy anything without their password or authorization first,” according to an internal Facebook memo. The memo noted that on other platforms, such as Apple’s iPhone, people were required to reauthorize additional purchases, such as by re-entering a password.

A Facebook employee noted that children were likely to be confused by the in-game purchases because it “doesn’t necessarily look like real money to a minor.” Yet the company continued to deny refunds to children, profiting from their confusion.

In one of the unsealed documents, two Facebook employees deny a refund request from a child whom they refer to as a “whale” — a term coined by the casino industry to describe profligate spenders. The child had entered a credit card number to play a game, and in about two weeks racked up thousands of dollars in charges, according to an excerpt of messages between two employees at the social media giant.

The transcript Reveal obtained is jaw-dropping. A 15-year-old ran up $6,500 in in-game charges and Facebook refused the request for a refund.

Facebook is a criminal enterprise.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
yesterday
time.com
from Daring Fireball

Tim Cook, in an op-ed for Time:

Last year, before a global body of privacy regulators, I laid out four principles that I believe should guide legislation:

First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to strip identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge — to know what data is being collected and why. Third, the right to access. Companies should make it easy for you to access, correct and delete your personal data. And fourth, the right to data security, without which trust is impossible.

Steve Jobs in 2010: “Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for — in plain English, and repeatedly.”

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
yesterday
Sprint to Stop Selling Location Data to Third Parties After Motherboard Investigation - Motherboard
from Daring Fireball

Joseph Cox, writing for Motherboard:

Last week, Motherboard revealed that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint had been selling their customers’ real-time location data that ultimately ended up in the hands of bounty hunters and people unauthorized to handle it. Motherboard found this by purchasing the capability to geolocate a phone for $300 on the black market. In response, AT&T and T-Mobile said they were stopping all sales of location data to third parties.

Nearly a week later Sprint has committed to doing the same, in a statement to Motherboard.

“As a result of recent events, we have decided to end our arrangements with data aggregators,” a Sprint spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.

It’s an outrage that this happened in the first place, and should be investigated by authorities. But the fact that the carriers quickly moved to stop the practice shows the power of investigative journalism. Kudos to Motherboard.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
yesterday
Signal v Noise exits Medium – Signal v. Noise
from Daring Fireball

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Beyond that, though, we’ve grown ever more aware of the problems with centralizing the internet. Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.

Hear hear. New design for SvN looks great, too.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
yesterday
Trump Must Be a Russian Agent; the Alternative Is Too Awful | WIRED
from Daring Fireball

Garrett Graff, writing for Wired:

In short, we’ve reached a point in the Mueller probe where there are only two scenarios left: Either the president is compromised by the Russian government and has been working covertly to cooperate with Vladimir Putin after Russia helped win him the 2016 election — or Trump will go down in history as the world’s most famous “useful idiot,” as communists used to call those who could be co-opted to the cause without realizing it.

At least the former scenario — that the president of the United States is actively working to advance the interests of our country’s foremost, long-standing, traditional foreign adversary — would make him seem smarter and wilier. The latter scenario is simply a tragic farce for everyone involved.

My guess is it’s a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B — that Russia has something on Trump and he’s a useful idiot. Graff makes a good point, though — we’re still far from knowing the whole story, but we already know enough that it’s not possible for Trump to come out of this clean.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
2 days ago
Facebook Algorithms and Personal Data | Pew Research Center
from Daring Fireball

Paul Hitlin and Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center:

Facebook makes it relatively easy for users to find out how the site’s algorithm has categorized their interests via a “Your ad preferences” page.1 Overall, however, 74% of Facebook users say they did not know that this list of their traits and interests existed until they were directed to their page as part of this study.

When directed to the “ad preferences” page, the large majority of Facebook users (88%) found that the site had generated some material for them. A majority of users (59%) say these categories reflect their real-life interests, while 27% say they are not very or not at all accurate in describing them. And once shown how the platform classifies their interests, roughly half of Facebook users (51%) say they are not comfortable that the company created such a list.

Facebook issued this statement to The Verge regarding Pew’s research:

We want people to understand how our ad settings and controls work. That means better ads for people. While we and the rest of the online ad industry need to do more to educate people on how interest-based advertising works and how we protect people’s information, we welcome conversations about transparency and control.

Allow me to translate from outright lies to the obvious truth:

We do not want people to understand how our ad settings and controls work. If more people understood what we track about them and how to control it, more people would block it, and we’d make less money.

Skim the comments on The Verge story and most of them are along the lines of the first one: “You’d have to be pretty dense…” — i.e. that the majority of Facebook users who don’t understand what Facebook is doing to track them are stupid. This reminds me of arguments about user interfaces. When regular people are confused by or don’t understand something, there’s a segment of the tech savvy world that sees the problem as the people being too stupid. The real problem is that the products are too hard to understand. The problem with users not understanding what Facebook tracks about them is not that the people are stupid, it’s that Facebook purposefully obfuscates what they do to keep regular people in the dark.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
2 days ago
Facebook’s own employees appear to be leaving 5-star Amazon reviews for the Portal camera - The Verge
from Daring Fireball

Kevin Roose, on Twitter:

Speaking of coordinated inauthentic behavior, what are the odds that all these 5-star Facebook Portal reviewers on Amazon just happen to have the same names as Facebook employees?

Facebook confirmed the three reviews were written by employees, but claimed it wasn’t a coordinated campaign. Chaim Gartenberg, at The Verge:

Facebook is a huge company with thousands of employees, and even with internal communications, it’s easy to see how a few employees just weren’t aware of a request to not post reviews. But it’s incredible how blatantly deceptive the practice can be: Chappell’s review, which claims rather disingenuously that he has “historically not been a big Facebook or other social media user,” but also “took a chance and got 4 Portals and 1 Portal plus for the family,” isn’t a great look for the company. There’s a reason why Amazon bans the policy in the first place.

Three reviews does not make for a coordinated campaign. But it shows what type of people choose to work for Facebook when one of the reviews starts with “I have historically not been a big Facebook or other social media user.”

Anyone who buys one of these Portal cameras is out of their minds.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
2 days ago
Teams can track stats in-game with new NHL app
from Daring Fireball

Greg Wyshynski, reporting for ESPN:

“There are two stat types across the board that every coaching staff said that, without question, helped them make in-game moment decisions: Time on ice and faceoffs,” Foster said. “With time on ice, you want to manage your top players to make sure they have gas in the tank at the end of the game, or if they’re coming back from an injury.”

For both ice time and faceoffs, the app offers something that the coaches uniformly requested from the NHL: easy-to-read displays. Faceoff success or failure is depicted as a series of green circles with check marks or red circles with X’s, and faceoff percentages can be broken down by where they were held and against whom.

This app with live stats replaces paper printouts, which team staffers would scamper to get into coaches’ hands as quickly as possible.

Interesting contrast, too, to Major League Baseball, which has had iPads in the dugout since 2016, but which expressly forbids those iPads from being online. Whatever stats are on those iPads at the start of the game are the only stats available during the game. This NHL system is all completely live.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
2 days ago
302 Found
from Daring Fireball

Steven Sinofsky:

CES 2019 is a kind of year that sort of screams “we’re ready for the products that really work.” In that spirit, CES 2019 is a year where products are close, but seem a product manager iteration away from being a product that can reach a tipping point of customer satisfaction and utility. Products work in a “thread the needle” sort of way, but a lot of details and real life quickly cause things to become frustrating.

This feeling for me is part of the cycle of CES. I like to think of it as the universal remote problem — everything starts to work but to really work you long for that one simplified control point. The challenge is making that while all the other pieces are still moving. That’s the nature of Consumer Electronics (tech in general) which is that there are many parts moving at different velocities and in slightly different vectors — it means sometimes we go through phases where we seem really close.

I’ve still never attended CES, but if I ever do, my goal would be to do what Sinofksy does in these annual reports — to try to see the forest for the trees, to gauge the gestalt of the tech world at this moment. Figure out what is nonsense (e.g. 3D TV mania a few years ago) and what is a legit trend (voice driven interfaces today).

Sinofsky does this really, really well. It’s a long read but CES is a big show.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
2 days ago
How Facebook’s P.R. Firm Brought Political Trickery to Tech - The New York Times
from Daring Fireball

Jack Nicas, reporting for The New York Times back in November:

When Tim Miller, a longtime Republican political operative, moved to the Bay Area last year to set up a public relations shop, he brought with him tradecraft more typical of Washington than Silicon Valley. […]

Definers quickly found plenty of business, from start-ups like Lyft, Lime and Juul to giants like Facebook and Qualcomm, the influential chip company that was in a nasty legal fight with Apple over royalties, according to five people with direct knowledge of Mr. Miller’s work who declined to be named because of confidentiality agreements.

While working for Qualcomm, Definers pushed the idea that Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, was a viable presidential candidate in 2020, according to a former Definers employee and digital records. Presumably, it was an attempt to chill the cordial relations that Mr. Cook had cultivated with the Trump administration.

I am to understand that Qualcomm’s underhanded PR tactics came up at the all-hands meeting this month, and that Tim Cook did not mince words regarding Qualcomm’s ethics.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
2 days ago
Facebook's '10 Year Challenge' Is Just a Harmless Meme—Right? | WIRED
from Daring Fireball

Kate O’Neill, writing for Wired:

But let’s play out this idea.

Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you’d want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people’s pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart — say, 10 years.

Sure, you could mine Facebook for profile pictures and look at posting dates or EXIF data. But that whole set of profile pictures could end up generating a lot of useless noise. People don’t reliably upload pictures in chronological order, and it’s not uncommon for users to post pictures of something other than themselves as a profile picture. A quick glance through my Facebook friends’ profile pictures shows a friend’s dog who just died, several cartoons, word images, abstract patterns, and more.

In other words, it would help if you had a clean, simple, helpfully labeled set of then-and-now photos.

I think it’s very fair to say we should all assume the worst with Facebook all the time now. That’s I posted my 10-year challenge to Twitter instead of Instagram.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
2 days ago
Say hello, new logo | The Official Slack Blog
from Daring Fireball

I don’t like this at all. It’s so generic. Slack’s old identity had at least three good things going for it: they owned the letter “S” (much like how Netflix owns “N” — something Netflix has doubled-down on as their identity has evolved), they owned the “#” hash mark, and most uniquely, they owned plaid. When you saw plaid with those primary colors on a white background, you thought Slack. And plaid isn’t part of any sort of design trend right now. Slack simply owned plaid, to such a degree that Slack company socks — which simply used colors and plaid, no “Slack”, no “S” were necessary to make it instantly obvious these were Slack socks — became coveted swag.

I guessed before this blog post even revealed it that their new identity was done by Pentagram. What Slack needed was a refinement of their existing design. Identify what was good, fix what was bad. What Pentagram seems to do these days, though, is throw babies out with the bath water. They only build new identies, they don’t tweak existing ones. There is nothing that says Slack to me about this new identity — no hash mark, no “S”, no plaid. And what they’ve replaced it with is generic. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but there’s nothing quirky or charming or distinctive about it either. Just another sorta-Futura-ish geometric sans serif and a mark that doesn’t look like anything and makes for an utterly forgettable app icon.

Was there anything about Slack’s previous identity worth building upon? I say yes, quite a bit actually. Pentagram said no. Slack lost something very valuable today.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
3 days ago
Mounting evidence suggests Trump fears Putin due to compromising info
from Daring Fireball

Tom Nichols — longtime conservative Republican — in USA Today, regarding last weekend’s news regarding Trump’s meetings with Vladimir Putin:

This is not normal, in any way. As things stand, more people in the Kremlin than in Washington know what Trump said to Putin. It is almost certain that there are readouts and analyses of Trump’s discussions with Putin — but that for now, they are in Russian.

Finally, it is exhausting but nonetheless necessary to point out again the titanic hypocrisy of the Republican Party and of Trump’s apologists in the conservative media. If President Barack Obama had shredded his notes of a meeting with the Iranian president, or if Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager were sitting in jail for lying about meeting a Chinese business associate — and alleged intelligence officer — to share polling data, that alone would have been enough for the GOP to impeach everyone from the president to the White House chef.

And Democrats would not have accepted Obama confiscating his interpreter’s notes or Clinton’s campaign conspiring with the Chinese. Democrats are partisan, of course, but their partisanship has very clear limits. The Republicans, and only the Republicans, have crossed the line where they put party above country. History will not look kindly upon them — or those who voted for them.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
3 days ago
www.washingtonpost.com
from Daring Fireball

Jonathan O’Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, reporting for The Washington Post:

Last April, telecom giant T-Mobile announced a megadeal: a $26 billion merger with rival Sprint, which would more than double T-Mobile’s value and give it a huge new chunk of the cellphone market.

But for T-Mobile, one hurdle remained: Its deal needed approval from the Trump administration.

The next day, in Washington, staffers at the Trump International Hotel were handed a list of incoming “VIP Arrivals.” That day’s list included nine of T-Mobile’s top executives — including its chief operating officer, chief technology officer, chief strategy officer, chief financial officer and its outspoken celebrity chief executive, John Legere. […]

By mid-June, seven weeks after the announcement of the merger, hotel records indicated that one T-Mobile executive was making his 10th visit to the hotel. Legere appears to have made at least four visits to the Trump hotel, walking the lobby in his T-Mobile gear.

This is such outrageous bullshit — so blatantly, patently unethical — that it’s hard to believe Republicans just accept this. The hypocrisy could not be thicker. Of course there’s always been and always been a partisan slant to congressional oversight of the president. But this isn’t shades of gray. This is acceptance of “anything goes”.

The president of the United States should not own hotels. (They made Jimmy Carter sell his goddamn peanut farm before taking office.) If the president owns hotels (which he shouldn’t), he shouldn’t own one right down the street from the White House. If the president owns hotels, and owns one in Washington (which he shouldn’t), at the very least nobody with business before the administration should spend a nickel at that hotel.

When posed with such a blatant conflict of interest, a situation that is clearly a form of de facto bribery, no one should be asking, “Well, is this president a Democrat or a Republican?”

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
3 days ago
Turning Type Sideways | News, Notes & Observations | Hoefler & Co.
from Daring Fireball

Jonathan Hoefler:

This month, researchers made official something that typeface designers have long known: that horizontal lines appear thicker than vertical ones. At left, a square made from equally thick strokes; at right, the one that feels equally weighted, its vertical strokes nearly 7% thicker than the horizontals. This phenomenon, central to typeface design, has implications for the design of logos, interfaces, diagrams, and wayfinding systems, indeed anywhere a reader is likely to encounter a box, an arrow, or a line.

Published in the journal Vision, this peer-reviewed paper confirms that most people overestimate the thickness of horizontal lines. This is the very optical illusion for which type designers compensate by lightening the crossbar of a sans serif H, an adjustment that’s easily revealed by looking at a letter sideways.

Good advice:

Design not for what we expect to see, but for what we actually believe we’re seeing.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
3 days ago
The Pure American Banality of Donald Trump’s White House Fast-Food Buffet | The New Yorker
from Daring Fireball

This photograph should go down as the definitive image of the Trump administration.

(Also worth noting: Rosner’s note on pluralizing “Filet-o-Fish”.)

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
3 days ago
Apple launches Smart Battery Case for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR | iMore
from Daring Fireball

Lory Gil, writing for iMore:

For anyone that’s been waiting for Apple’s Smart Battery Case for the latest and greatest X series of iPhone, your wait is over. Apple just launched a new version for all three in the current model iPhone X line, that the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

This year’s model also supports Qi wireless charging. So, you can set it and forget it and your case and iPhone will charge at the same time.

The Smart Battery Case can be charged with and USB-PD compatible chargers (not included in the box), which will improve charging time significantly.

I didn’t hate the humpback design of the old Smart Battery Case the way some people do, but this clearly looks more elegant. What isn’t obvious from Apple’s photos is how the Lightning ports align. I think what’s going on is that because the cases are much thicker at the bottom, the case’s Lightning female port is behind its internal male jack. The old Smart Battery Case needed a chin because the Lightning connectors were on top of each other. I also don’t see any holes for audio from the speakers to pass through.

Interesting too that the whole thing works with Qi — keep your phone in the case and put it on a charging pad and both will charge. That has to be pretty complicated engineering-wise.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
3 days ago
Instagram caught selling ads to follower-buying services it banned – TechCrunch
from Daring Fireball

Scathing investigative report by Josh Constine for TechCrunch:

Instagram has been earning money from businesses flooding its social network with spam notifications. Instagram hypocritically continues to sell ad space to services that charge clients for fake followers or that automatically follow/unfollow other people to get them to follow the client back. This is despite Instagram reiterating a ban on these businesses in November and threatening the accounts of people who employ them.

A TechCrunch investigation initially found 17 services selling fake followers or automated notification spam for luring in followers that were openly advertising on Instagram despite blatantly violating the network’s policies.

At the time Facebook acquired Instagram, Instagram was by far the nicest social media experience I’d seen. It is now quickly descending into a cesspool of crap. I fully expected Facebook to Facebook-ify Instagram, but it’s sad watching it happen. It seems to be accelerating in the wake of the departure of co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger — again, surprising no one.

This bit from Constine’s report is funny:

This led me to start cataloging these spam company ads, and I was startled by how many different ones I saw. Soon, Instagram’s ad targeting and retargeting algorithms were backfiring, purposefully feeding me ads for similar companies that also violated Instagram’s policies.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
4 days ago
The Talk Show ✪: Ep. 240, With Special Guest Ben Thompson
from Daring Fireball

Special guest Ben Thompson returns to the show. Topics include Apple’s horrible no good very bad earnings warning, the Chinese market, Apple’s push toward services for revenue growth, antitrust issues regarding the App Store, and more.

Brought to you by these fine sponsors:

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 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
4 days ago
DuckDuckGo Taps Apple Maps to Power Private Search Results
from Daring Fireball

DuckDuckGo:

We’re excited to announce that map and address-related searches on DuckDuckGo for mobile and desktop are now powered by Apple’s MapKit JS framework, giving you a valuable combination of mapping and privacy. As one of the first global companies using Apple MapKit JS, we can now offer users improved address searches, additional visual features, enhanced satellite imagery, and continually updated maps already in use on billions of Apple devices worldwide.

With this updated integration, Apple Maps are now available both embedded within our private search results for relevant queries, as well as available from the “Maps” tab on any search result page.

I have more to say about this, but I wanted to link to the announcement as soon as it was up. This is huge news (particularly for DuckDuckGo) and really interesting for Apple strategically.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
4 days ago
United Is Telling Staff To Be Nice To Apple Employees - One Mile at a Time
from Daring Fireball

A letter to pilots from the United rep who manages their account with Apple, obtained by One Mile at a Time:

As we enter into another 3-year contract renewal negotiation this coming January with Apple, your partnership is key in demonstrating to Apple how United differentiates itself from the competition. Overall, Apple continues to grow revenue on United more than 20 percent annually and keeping them happy while traveling on United is critical to the success of many of our SFO routes. Thanks again for going above and beyond, your efforts make a positive impact to the strong and growing partnership between Apple and United.

If you spent $150 million a year on United, you’d probably get nicer treatment, too. And the letter shows that United’s real competition for Apple’s business are the foreign carriers:

Your professionalism and dedication to enhancing the customer service experience for Apple Global Services customers by hand delivering personalized ‘thank you’ cards helps us compete and win against the foreign flag carriers especially in the very competitive US-Asia market.

50 seats a day between SFO and Shanghai is just a jaw-dropping number. That’s 25 Apple employees flying home and another 25 heading over every single day.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
4 days ago
German court throws out Qualcomm's latest patent case against Apple | Reuters
from Daring Fireball

Reuters:

A patent lawsuit filed by Qualcomm Inc against Apple Inc was thrown out by a German court on Tuesday, in a reversal for the U.S. chipmaker after it won a recent court ban on the sale of some iPhones in the country.

The regional court in the city of Mannheim dismissed the Qualcomm suit as groundless in an initial verbal decision, saying the patent in question was not violated by the installation of its chips in Apple’s smartphones.

“We are happy with the decision and thank the court for their time and diligence,” Apple said in a statement. “We regret Qualcomm’s use of the court to divert attention from their illegal behavior that is the subject of multiple lawsuits and proceedings around the world.”

These court cases are so tedious to follow, but the effects are real. Until this ruling Apple was forced to removed the iPhone 7 and 8 from sale in Germany — very popular products in a very big market.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
4 days ago
302 Found
from Daring Fireball

Jean-Louis Gassée, on Apple’s earnings warning:

I have a hard time believing that the $29 limited time offer had a significant impact on Apple’s numbers. Did Apple replace hundreds of thousands of batteries? I doubt it. At 100 replacements per Apple Store times 500 stores, that’s 50K happy customers and only $50M in missed new iPhone revenues. I’d have to be off by a factor of 10 — half a million iPhone battery upgrades, one thousand repairs per Apple Store — to approach a mere $500M in missed revenue.

[Update: My battery upgrade discussion above is wrong in two ways.

As readers pointed out, my numbers estimate might be too low.

And… the error might not matter. Apple had full knowledge of battery replacement numbers when issuing its Nov 1st guidance.]

I’m pretty sure Gassée’s back-of-the-envelope estimate of the number of batteries replaced was way too low. During Apple’s all-hands meeting January 3, Tim Cook said Apple replaced 11 million batteries under the $29 replacement program, and they’d have only anticipated about 1-2 million battery replacements normally. (The fact that Cook held this all-hands meeting was reported by Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, but the contents of the meeting haven’t leaked. Well, except for this nugget I’m sharing here.)

But Gassée’s second point still stands: the battery replacement program ran all year long, so even if it was more popular than Apple originally expected, why wasn’t it accounted for in guidance issued on November 1 — 10 months after the program started? My guess: the effect of the battery replacement program on new iPhone sales wasn’t apparent until after the iPhone XR and XS models were available. A few million extra iPhone users happy with the performance of their old iPhones with new batteries — who would have otherwise upgraded to a new iPhone this year — put a ding in the bottom line.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
4 days ago
Start Up No.980: the vitamin D myth, how smart TVs pay, Brexit’s paranoid fantasy, where Apple stumbled, and more | The Overspill: when there's more that I want to say
from Daring Fireball

Rowan Jacobsen, writing for Outside:

In November, one of the largest and most rigorous trials of the vitamin ever conducted — in which 25,871 participants received high doses for five years — found no impact on cancer, heart disease, or stroke.

How did we get it so wrong? How could people with low vitamin D levels clearly suffer higher rates of so many diseases and yet not be helped by supplementation?

As it turns out, a rogue band of researchers has had an explanation all along. And if they’re right, it means that once again we have been epically misled.

These rebels argue that what made the people with high vitamin D levels so healthy was not the vitamin itself. That was just a marker. Their vitamin D levels were high because they were getting plenty of exposure to the thing that was really responsible for their good health — that big orange ball shining down from above.

The oldest mistake in the book: conflating cause and effect.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
4 days ago
procreate.art
from Daring Fireball

Procreate is a beautiful, fast, and powerful painting app made for creative professionals. It gives you all the tools you need to create quick sketches, inspiring paintings, and detailed illustrations, no matter where you are.

Along with the huge range of pro features like fully customizable brushes and high resolution, multi-layered canvases, you can now experience the brand new QuickShape. This groundbreaking tool helps you create perfect geometry, just like magic.

For just $9.99 it’s yours forever, with regular feature-rich updates and most importantly, no subscriptions. Whether you’re a creative professional or just starting out, Procreate has everything you need.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
5 days ago
United Airlines takes down poster that revealed Apple is its largest corporate spender - 9to5Mac
from Daring Fireball

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

United Airlines has released a statement following the circulation of a tweet that showed Apple as its largest account, spending $150 million on flights every single year.

In a statement to Kif Lewswing, United Airlines said that the information was displayed as part of a (intended to be) private project that has since been discontinued. […]

Big companies don’t like details like this being public knowledge, even if there isn’t anything too sensational about a big corporation buying a lot of flights for its employees.

“Don’t like details like this being public knowledge” — I’ll go out on a limb and guess that’s an understatement for Apple.

It’s no surprise that a lot of Apple employees fly back and forth to Shanghai, but 50 seats every day is a lot.

 ★ 
ifttt  daringfireball 
5 days ago
Twitter
No experience is ever a waste. If one day I'm in a cafe & a kid runs in screaming, "HELP! DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO T…
from twitter_favs
6 days ago
Twitter
Republican Party:
👏🏻 ALL 👏🏻 TAXES 👏🏻 ARE 👏🏻 THEFT 👏🏻

Also Republican Party:
You worked 80 hours this week, but we’…
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6 days ago
Twitter
It's hilarious that some people who found my thread yesterday assume I'm just learning to program. It's not so hila…
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7 days ago
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