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S.E.C. Is Said to Subpoena Tesla After Elon Musk’s Take-Private Tweet - The New York Times
from Daring Fireball

The New York Times:

Federal securities regulators have served Tesla with a subpoena, according to a person familiar with the investigation, increasing pressure on the electric car company as it deals with the fallout from several recent actions by its chief executive, Elon Musk.

The subpoena, from the Securities and Exchange Commission, comes days after regulators began inquiring about an Aug. 7 Twitter post by Mr. Musk, in which he said he was considering converting Tesla to a private company. In the post, he said that the financing for such a transaction, which would probably run into the tens of billions of dollars, had been “secured.” […]

It has become clear since then that neither Mr. Musk nor Tesla had actually lined up the necessary financing aside from having preliminary conversations with some investors.

Maybe nothing will ultimately come of this, I don’t know. But Musk has gotten himself in serious trouble with his impulsive tweet.

When I linked to a Business Insider story about this a few days ago, a bunch of readers emailed to complain that the reporter behind that piece, Linette Lopez, is biased against Tesla and on the side of Tesla short-sellers. Others emailed to ask why I’m “against” Tesla.

I’m not against Tesla. I think they’re an amazing and fascinating company and their cars are outstanding and quite possibly without peer. I’ve never heard of Lopez before, so she may well be on the side of Tesla short-sellers. That doesn’t mean her report on this was wrong. All of this can be true: Tesla has great technology and makes great cars, the company may have a bright future, and Elon Musk is a visionary. But all of that can be true and Musk may have committed securities fraud by tweeting that he’d secured funding to take the company private when he had done no such thing.

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12 hours ago by josephschmitt
Exclusive: Motorola P30 Renders and Specifications leak, comes with a Notch – AndroidPure
from Daring Fireball

They even ripped off the default wallpaper. Do “designers” at Motorola even list the job on their resumes or do they work in anonymous shame?

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ifttt  daringfireball 
13 hours ago by josephschmitt
Why Apple had a secret meeting with app developers in New York to discuss the App Store - INSIDER
from Daring Fireball

Interesting story by Kif Leswing for Business Insider, regarding a private meeting Apple held with indie developers in New York last year:

The new way Apple wanted to promote: Instead of users paying for apps once, they’d pay on a regular basis, putting money into developer coffers on a regular schedule. Apple would still get a 30% cut of the subscription’s cost, but if a customer continued to subscribe after a year, Apple’s cut would go down to 15%.

At the meeting, Apple underscored that the app model was changing. The meeting touched on topics including launching, customer acquisition, testing and marketing, engagement, retention, monetization, and paid search ads.

An Apple representative said at the meeting that paid apps represent 15% of total app sales and is on the decline, according to a person who was there who did not want to be identified to maintain their relationship with Apple.

Up front paid apps are going the way of the dodo. Whether you think that’s good or bad, it doesn’t matter. That’s where things are going.

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yesterday by josephschmitt
Penn Jillette, In Conversation
from Daring Fireball

Penn Jillette, in a terrific interview with David Marchese for Vulture:

Q: But why is the audience willing to get emotionally engaged even after you’ve explicitly said the trick is done with thread?

A: It’s because there’s a secret that I would like to take credit for uncovering: The audience is smart. That’s all. Our goal when we started was “Let’s do a magic show for people smarter than us.” No other magicians have ever said that sentence. I hated the whole idea that some smarmy motherfucker who couldn’t get laid was out there saying, “I can do this; you can’t.” So when Teller and I first got together I said, “I want to do a magic show that’s honest and has complete respect for the audience.” And when you start being honest with the audience, they start to play a game within themselves. Here’s an example that kills me: People who have just talked to Teller will come over to me after the show and say, “I think it’s great that Teller never says anything.” Internalizing a counterfactual is just something people can do.

I absolutely love Penn and Teller. I’ve seen their show in Vegas at least four times, maybe five, and I never tire of it because it’s exactly what he says it is. Honest and respectful of the audience’s intelligence. And damn entertaining.

(A few years ago, I was chosen from the audience by Teller to go on stage for a trick in which they made my iPhone disappear. It wound up inside a plastic bag inside a dead fish inside an ice box under an audience member’s seat.)

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yesterday by josephschmitt
Bribes, Backdoor Deals, and Pay to Play: How Bad Rosé Took Over | Bon Appetit
from Daring Fireball

Victoria James, writing for Bon Appétit:

My introduction to pay to play occurred after I’d just published a book on rosé. I was approached by one of the top three rosé brands. They were looking to partner with me and Piora, the since-closed Michelin-starred restaurant where I was the wine director. A few emails were sent before the in-person shakedown. At the tiny restaurant, I was bombarded with drop-ins from these reps trying to strong-arm me into representing their brand. The deal was that they would give me a couple thousand in cash to be an ambassador, and I would have to buy their rosé to pour by the glass for the summer. If I needed to make better margins, like making $10 off a glass of rosé versus making $5 off a glass of rosé, they also offered to drive by and drop off a couple of cases of free product. Horrified, I turned down the deal.

Sommeliers around New York have told me they’ve been offered incentives from big brands too. Wineries will come into the restaurant and swipe their credit cards, theoretically expensing a meal. In reality, the swipe is a bonus, with no meal actually taking place. Other sommeliers mentioned that brands will drop off a free case of wine or offer to supplement the somm’s income with funds from their bosses. Someone even called it “mafia-style shit”.

What a racket — and unsurprising that the stuff the big brands are pushing is mediocre at best.

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yesterday by josephschmitt
Samsung Galaxy Watch hands-on: Steady progress but few thrills
from Daring Fireball

Samsung is sticking with round faces — you certainly can’t call these ripoffs of Apple Watch. But I think that’s a mistake for a digital watch. At 42 and 46mm, both sizes are much larger (and heavier) than Apple Watches. Because Apple measures its watches vertically, they sound closer in size than they actually are. A 42mm Apple Watch is 36mm wide, and a 38mm Apple Watch is just 33mm wide. Apple remains the only company making smartwatches for women and men with small wrists.

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2 days ago by josephschmitt
Twitter
‘But the Plans Were on Display…’: https://t.co/3c5uJ4Vhgs

— Daring Fireball (@daringfireball) August 13, 2018
FavoriteTweet  daringfireball 
2 days ago by mjtsai
Funding not secured: Musk's explanations about taking Tesla private does not work - Business Insider
from Daring Fireball

Linette Lopez, writing for Business Insider:

Elon Musk has written a blog post explaining why he said last week on Twitter that he might take Tesla private at $420 a share. “Funding secured,” he declared in the tweet.

But after reading Musk’s new post, the only conclusion to be drawn is that funding was, in fact, not secured. And that could spell serious trouble for Musk.

Isn’t it abundantly clear that Musk’s tweet was reckless, and the last week has been Musk and Tesla’s board of directors desperately trying to do damage control?

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2 days ago by josephschmitt
Apple Removes Group FaceTime From iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, Says It'll Launch Later This Year - Mac Rumors
from Daring Fireball

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

In release notes for both macOS Mojave and iOS 12, Apple says the feature has been removed from the initial releases of macOS Mojave and iOS 12 and “will ship in a future software update later this fall.”

With the release of iOS 11, Apple also ended up delaying several features that were initially announced as part of the update until later in the year, including Apple Pay Cash, AirPlay 2, and Messages in iCloud, three significant iOS 11 features that did not come out until months after iOS 11 launched.

Right about now is the time when Apple needs to cut any features that won’t be ready in time for the iPhone launch next month.

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2 days ago by josephschmitt
Quote by Douglas Adams: “But the plans were on display…”“On display? I ...”
from Daring Fireball

From Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

“But the plans were on display…”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

DF reader Brian Ashe sent this, correctly pointing out that it pretty much nails Google’s approach to turning off location tracking.

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2 days ago by josephschmitt
McFeely: West Fargo man victim of 'vomit fraud,' and his wife found the video to prove it | WDAY
from Daring Fireball

Interesting story from Fargo, North Dakota:

“Vomit fraud” is a growing problem in many parts of the country. The Miami Herald reported this summer that multiple Uber passengers are filing lawsuits after drivers falsely charged passengers, claiming they had to clean up vomit, urine, blood and other bodily fluids.

The Marquarts also discovered the police treat the fraud as a civil matter instead of a criminal one because of the way the ride services write user agreements, so they don’t investigate. The Marquarts learned Lyft doesn’t appear overly concerned its drivers are committing fraud. They also don’t believe drivers who get caught face any repercussions.

Great detective work in this story, proving the Lyft driver had faked the “vomit”.

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2 days ago by josephschmitt
AP Exclusive: Google watches your movements, like it or not
from Daring Fireball

Ryan Nakashima, reporting for the Associated Press:

Storing your minute-by-minute travels carries privacy risks and has been used by police to determine the location of suspects — such as a warrant that police in Raleigh, North Carolina, served on Google last year to find devices near a murder scene. So the company will let you “pause” a setting called Location History.

Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you’ve been. Google’s support page on the subject states: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

That isn’t true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.

The saga of Apple Maps’s launch is long and complicated, but Google’s desire to track our location was at the heart of it. Apple wanted new features like turn-by-turn directions and vector graphic map tiles; in exchange, Google wanted iOS to allow Google to track user location more pervasively.

“If you’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” Mayer said. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.”

Google says it is being perfectly clear. […]

To stop Google from saving these location markers, the company says, users can turn off another setting, one that does not specifically reference location information. Called “Web and App Activity” and enabled by default, that setting stores a variety of information from Google apps and websites to your Google account.

Google is saying, with a straight face, that it’s perfectly clear that disabling the feature named “Location History” does not prevent Google from tracking your location history. There’s nothing surprising about this, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t shameful.

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2 days ago by josephschmitt
Magic Leap Headset Test Drive:Off Your Phone and Into Your World - WSJ
from Daring Fireball

Joanna Stern, writing for The Wall Street Journal:

The Lightwear glasses make digital objects sometimes look so real that they play tricks on your mind. I certainly didn’t think the flying robot I placed in the corner was genuine, yet the steam coming out of his jets looked like it was from a tea kettle. During one demo, I picked up an actual chess piece just to confirm it wasn’t another illusion.

What makes Magic Leap’s objects so believable is how they fit into our world. Cameras and other sensors in the headset scan surrounding objects and surfaces — from your arms to the chair’s armrest. When I placed a virtual orange fish between two actual couch pillows, it swam back and forth between them.

Fun video, too (as usual).

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5 days ago by josephschmitt
Daring Fireball: Reuters’s Curious Sourcing on Doug Field Joining Project Titan
from Daring Fireball

I don’t break a lot of news, it’s just not what Daring Fireball is about, or what I’m interested in. But, once in a while, I get my hands on a scoop, like last night’s piece about former Tesla engineering head Doug Field returning to Apple to work with Bob Mansfield in the Titan group. The news was [quickly picked up by dozens of other outlets][tm], almost all of whom graciously credited me (or just “Daring Fireball”, which is fine) with (a) breaking the news that Field was back at Apple, and (b) with the specific news that Field is working with Mansfield in the Titan group. Apple confirmed to me only that Field was back at Apple. That Field has joined Titan — though unsurprising given his experience working with Mansfield and at Tesla — came from my own unnamed sources.

This Reuters story by Stephen Nellis, however, presents itself as original reporting:

Doug Field, who stepped down as the senior vice president of engineering at Telsa Inc last month, is returning to Apple Inc, Apple told Reuters on Thursday.

Field will be working with Apple executive Bob Mansfield, who has been heading up Apple’s self-driving car program, Project Titan. Field and Mansfield previously worked together on engineering Apple’s line of Mac computers.

My piece was published at 11:13p EDT; Nellis’s Reuters story was published 12:39a. Note too that the “Apple told Reuters on Thursday” attribution is only in the first paragraph. There is no attribution for the information in the second paragraph. Apple would not confirm that to me, just two hours prior, and though it’s certainly possible that Nellis had his own independent sources for that information — hundreds of employees within Apple were aware of Field’s return — there is no “according to sources familiar with the situation” attribution.

Also, Field’s previous employer was Tesla, not Telsa.
ifttt  daringfireball 
5 days ago by josephschmitt
Twitter
[Update: I wonder if this is less about Infowars specifically and more about Apple being reluctant to draw attention to their total control of the App Store. https://t.co/Qz3VRTROdB]

— Daring Fireball (@daringfireball) August 10, 2018
FavoriteTweet  daringfireball 
5 days ago by mjtsai
Daring Fireball: Doug Field Returns to Apple After Leaving Tesla
from Daring Fireball

Here’s some interesting hiring news I’ve heard through the little birdie grapevine:1 Doug Field — who left Tesla in May after overseeing Model 3 production — has returned to Apple, working in Bob Mansfield’s project Titan group. Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr confirmed with me only that Field has returned to Apple, but no one should find it surprising that he’s working on Titan.

Field previously worked at Apple as a VP of Mac hardware engineering before leaving for Tesla 2013. So he spent years working closely (and successfully) with Mansfield on Mac hardware, and spent the last few years as senior VP of engineering at the world’s premiere electric carmaker. That makes Field a seemingly perfect fit for Titan.

I wouldn’t read too much into any single hire, and the employee exchange program between Apple and Tesla continues to flow in both directions. But I think it’s an interesting hire, primarily because it suggests to me that Apple still has an interest in making actual vehicles, despite reports that the company has scaled back the project to merely make autonomous systems for inclusion in vehicles made by other companies. That rumor never really made sense to me anyway — Apple’s modus operandi has always been to make the whole widget. Apple makes products, not components. Field returning to Apple also suggests to me that under Mansfield’s leadership, the Titan project has regained its footing after its infamously rocky start.

And you have to love the idea of any project being led by guys named Bob and Doug, eh.

Mixed metaphor, I know, but I’m going with it. ↩︎
ifttt  daringfireball 
6 days ago by josephschmitt
Opinion | Rules Won’t Save Twitter. Values Will. - The New York Times
from Daring Fireball

Kara Swisher, in her new column at The New York Times:

I am down with Mr. Dorsey on the part about different viewpoints being expressed in a civil and even moderately testy way. There’s some value, after all, in force-reading all those opinions on whether a Colorado baker should make gay people cake or not. But the loosey-goosey way that he and Twitter’s rolling series of leaders have run the platform over the years (you can read all about that in Nick Bilton’s telenovela of a book, Hatching Twitter) has turned it from what could have been an unprecedented discussion and news platform into the last big refuge of the repugnant.

So it’s somewhat odd for Mr. Dorsey to be lecturing the rest of us about principles at this moment of high agitation, brought on in no small part by the twitchy, meaner-than-ever screamfest of Twitter itself.

While principles and rules will help in an open platform, it is values that Mr. Dorsey should really be talking about. By values, I mean a code that requires making hard choices — curating your offerings, which was something Apple got made fun of for doing, back when it launched the App Store, by the open-is-best crowd.

I agree with every word of this, and it’s exactly why I think Apple’s decision to remove Infowars’s podcasts from the iTunes directory but allow their app to remain in the App Store doesn’t hold water.

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ifttt  daringfireball 
6 days ago by josephschmitt
Apple Defends Its Decision To Allow Infowars In The App Store
from Daring Fireball

John Paczkowski, writing for BuzzFeed:

On Apple’s podcast platform, Infowars was presented with an easily reviewed episode list — a concrete thing that could be used to support a determination that its content was/wasn’t in violation of the company’s policies. The Infowars app is different. It streams video broadcasts, which means they are ephemeral in the app and on Apple’s platform. That the same episodes are readily available on the Infowars site doesn’t matter. In order for Apple to act on a violation, there needs to be evidence that one occurred on its platform. Simply put: If Jones has violated the company’s rules, it has yet to catch him in the act.

This distinction could explain why Apple was so quick to remove almost all of Infowars’ podcasts in the first place. Given that the company didn’t host the podcasts to begin with, the removal was technically not a content purge and something more akin to removing a link. In other words, Apple’s enforcement, which caused tech’s biggest platforms to follow suit, was something of a content moderation sleight of hand — a cosmetic change rather than an actual deletion.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this the last few days. I suspect that Paczkowski has it right, that Apple is more willing to remove a podcast because iTunes doesn’t host podcasts — it’s just a directory. Whereas if they remove the app there’s no way around it. I think this distinction is weak sauce though — iTunes isn’t technically a gatekeeper to podcasts, but the truth is that the iTunes podcast directory is the de facto standard index of podcasts. Getting de-listed from iTunes is a huge deal.

The web is the world’s open platform. The fact that the App Store is a closed platform that Apple controls is a feature, not a bug. If Apple removed the app, Infowars’s website would still work in Safari. It really doesn’t make sense to me that Apple would de-list the podcasts but not remove the app that contains the exact same content. And as Paczkowski reports, in the aftermath of this highly-publicized kerfuffle, Infowars’s iOS app has risen from 47th to 3rd in the “News” category. To me it would make more sense to have kept both the podcast and the app than to remove one but not the other.

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6 days ago by josephschmitt
Apple Orders Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney Comedy Straight to Series – Variety
from Daring Fireball

Joe Otterson, reporting for Variety:

Apple has given a straight-to-series order to a half-hour scripted comedy from Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, Variety has learned.

The series is set in a video game development studio, with McElhenney also attached to star in addition to writing and executive producing alongside Day. The series marks the duo’s first collaboration as writers since “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” McElhenney co-created “It’s Always Sunny” with both he and Day starring and serving as executive producers on that show.

It’s Always Sunny is one of my favorite shows. What I find particularly interesting about this deal is that if this new show is anything like It’s Always Sunny, Apple is not shying away from R-rated original content.

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ifttt  daringfireball 
6 days ago by josephschmitt

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