Pizza Emoji
by Brandon Butler
Rumor: No More E-Waste with Your New iPhone 7/1/2020

Dieter Bohn at The Verge:

Over the weekend, lots of sites reported that Apple analyst Ming-chi Kuo is claiming that the iPhones due to be released later this year won’t have chargers or EarPods in the box. If you want to know what most tech bloggers thought of the rumor, you can head over here to see all the tweets, almost all of which amount to “that sounds like a bad, user-hostile thing to do.”

I say good: drop the in-box charger (but I have a couple requests).

I’m with Bohn on this one: Good. There is nothing user-hostile about not including a thing in the box everyone already has.

The iPhone story two years ago was, “Apple’s iPhone sales are flat because Apple has run out of new people to sell iPhones to.” And it’s true. There are no more “new” smartphone customers. It’s no longer a matter of selling consumers something totally new, it’s getting them to upgrade. And if they’re upgrading their iPhone 6S to the iPhone 11S, why are they in need of yet-another wall charger or cheap headphone set?

Even upgrading from Android to iPhone, the old Samsung or Moto or Pixel charger is probably still going to work.

So now the iPhone story is, “Apple’s not including a wall charger in the box, despite everyone already probably owning more than one.” But think about the big positives that can come from not needing to produce something most people will immediately dispose of. Steven Yang, the CEO of Anker (which sells chargers and cables) says of e-waste:

[Say] every smartphone has a charger with it. We had 1.5 billion smartphones that shipped last year. ... That’s only for phones. When we have tablets, laptops, power drills, [and more], we estimate a total of four billion chargers (were shipped last year). We estimate about 300,000 tons of e-waste just from these in-box chargers.

If Apple is not including a charger in the box to increase their margins, the pure side effect of this is a massive environmental positive, and I’m really okay with that. My headline is at least partially true, and if these charges and earbuds don’t end up in a landfill, they’re left to rot in a box, but then you’ve spent energy and resouces to produce drawer clutter. Why are we in favor of producing drawer clutter?

And remember, the iPhone SE (2) still includes a charger. This is the high end iPhone 11S/12 — the next $1,000 smartphone — that won’t include a charger. The consumers most likely to be buying a $1,000 smartphone already have a charger — or multiple chargers — ready to go. They don’t need more.

The people acting upset by this rumor are the same people who were upset when Apple didn’t include a floppy drive on the iMac and removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. These are the people who can’t imagine a future in technology beyond 1.44 megabytes at a time. This is ultimately Apple positioning itself for the future, either for the next charging technology, or the next evolution in smartphone design, or both. Apple isn’t a company that allows the bean counters to run product design. This is the company that sells a $50,000 professional computer and marketed one of the first $1,200 smartphones. And Apple is a 1.5 trillion dollar company. Apple doesn’t need to adjust their margins by $10 to make a profit — trust me, they’re making plenty of profit. If this rumor is true, and I suspect it is, this is about Apple positioning themselves for something even bigger — next year.

Reddit Bans r/the_donald 7/1/2020

Reddit:

All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith. We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity. The community has consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average (Rule 1), antagonized us and other communities (Rules 2 and 8), and its mods have refused to meet our most basic expectations. Until now, we’ve worked in good faith to help them preserve the community as a space for its users—through warnings, mod changes, quarantining, and more.

Reddit banned several other subs, most of which were inactive.

In a quote to reporters, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said:

“I have to admit that I’ve struggled with balancing my values as an American, and around free speech and free expression, with my values and the company’s values around common human decency.”

That’s really the crux of it: These social networks are a mess of vile and filth, and the CEOs seem proud of creating that mess. Because if they weren’t, they’d be doing what Steve Huffman is doing: a little soul searching, not to justify the hate spewing across their networks, but to recognize their values don’t align with what their networks are allowing. It’s time for Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey to grow a spine and clean up their mess.

US Senators Again Trying to Break Encryption, Making Everyone Less Safe 6/27/2020

Jim Salter for Ars Technical, ‘Graham, Cotton introduce yet another attempt to torpedo encryption’:

On Tuesday, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced yet another bill attempting to poke holes in data encryption, called the Lawful Access To Encrypted Data Act. This bill follows previous US efforts to weaken encryption, including March’s proposed EARN IT Act and demands made by US Attorney General William Barr in his 2019 keynote address at the International Conference on Cyber Security.

A press release from the Senate Judiciary Committee — which is chaired by Graham — describes the bill as “a balanced solution that keeps in mind the constitutional rights afforded to all Americans, while providing law enforcement the tools needed to protect the public from everyday violent crime and threats to our national security.“ It goes on to emphasize — in both bold and italic text — that the bill would “only“ require service providers to grant law enforcement a back door after a court issues a warrant. [...]

Unfortunately, as is typical for these resolutions, Graham’s expressed ideas don’t adhere to technological reality. In order for a service provider to “honor and assist“ law enforcement investigations in the way Graham demands, it would necessarily — and fatally — have to compromise the very encryption it offered in the first place. [...]

Ars Technica, as usual, has the best coverage of this train wreck of legislation from elected officials who don’t understand how computers work and don’t want to learn. If a bill like this becomes law, encryption worldwide would be severely broken, and everyone would be less safe. Read the rest of the article, this is an important one.

Tenet Movie Delayed Again 6/26/2020

Pamela McClintock for The Hollywood Reporter, ‘Christopher Nolan’s Tenet Delays Release to Mid-August Amid Spike in COVID-19 Cases’:

In a blow for the planned revival of the box office next month, the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has been delayed again from July 31 to Aug. 12 because of a surge in COVID-19 cases. [...]

Last week, cinema circuits said they will be up and running by mid- to late-July, but that could now change because of the surge in cases and the lack of big summer event pics.

In addition to Tenet being delayed, Disney has delayed Mulan to late August.

This had to happen. Cases of COVID-19 are rising across the country. The government’s response to the pandemic has been disastrous and tens of thousands are dying unnecessarily. I still see people in California walking around in public, shopping in stores, without a mask.

I don’t think this will be the last time these films are delayed. Unless the government resets and shuts everything down again, cases will continue to rise and Tenet could very well get pushed into 2021, along with the rest of the movies scheduled for release in 2020.

Facebook Willfully Allows Climate Change Misinformation on their Platform 6/25/2020

From Emily Atkin at Heated, ‘Facebook creates fact-checking exemption for climate deniers’:

Facebook is "aiding and abetting the spread of climate misinformation,” said Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist at Drexel University. “They have become the vehicle for climate misinformation, and thus should be held partially responsible for a lack of action on climate change.”

Brulle was reacting to Facebook's recent decision, made at the request of climate science deniers, to create a giant loophole in its fact-checking program. Last year, Facebook partnered with an organization, Science Feedback, that would bring in teams of Ph.D. climate scientists to evaluate the accuracy of viral content. It was an important expansion of the company's third-party fact-checking program.

But now Facebook has reportedly decided to allow its staffers to overrule the climate scientists and make any climate disinformation ineligible for fact-checking by deeming it "opinion."

Disgusting. The fossil fuel industry behind this bullshit intends to use Facebook’s platform to spread misinformation to the pubic, all in the guise of “opinion.” This is Mark Zuckerberg at it again; he just doesn’t seem to give a shit about society or our planet. How anyone can use his website, knowing what we know about him, baffles me.

Atkin goes onto explain how this occurred (spoiler: Zuckerberg’s an idiot) and how Facebook’s fact checking is supposed to work. A well written although maddening report of one of the largest social media platforms willfully ignoring climate scientists and allowing the spread of bullshit.

Disney Announces Princess Tiana is Moving into the Briar Patch 6/25/2020

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Today we are thrilled to share a first glimpse of a project Imagineers have been working on since last year. Splash Mountain – at both Disneyland park in California and Magic Kingdom park in Florida – will soon be completely reimagined. The theme is inspired by an all-time favorite animated Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog.” We pick up this story after the final kiss, and join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure – featuring some of the powerful music from the film – as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.

Tiana is a modern, courageous, and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what’s really important. It’s a great story with a strong lead character, set against the backdrop of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. In 1966, Walt himself opened New Orleans Square when it became the first new “land” added to Disneyland park, so it feels natural to link the story and the incredible music of “The Princess and the Frog” to our parks.

A great, timely announcement from Disney. I would expect Splash will not be re-opening along with the rest of the park.

Speaking of, the re-opening of Disneyland has been officially delayed as California has not provided Disney with the official go-ahead. As far as I’m concerned, Disneyland should remain closed until COVID-19 cases in CA are at or near zero. Other entire countries have reduced cases to zero, so can California.

I Keep Getting Fingerprints on My MacBook Screen 6/24/2020

I can’t stop looking at that new Mac Control Center. The buttons are so big. I’ve never seen anything designed like that for a mouse pointer. They look just like the buttons on your favorite touch devices, but the Mac doesn’t have a touch screen, and Apple has said they’re not adding one. What gives?

Isn’t it obvious? Apple’s making a Mac with a touch screen. In fact, I’d wager in about two year’s time, all MacBooks and iMacs will have touch screens built in.

macOS 11 is designed to be used with a touch screen. Check out those redesigned menus. File, Edit, View, Go. You just tap— sorry, click on File to reveal the generous line spacing. You don’t need need that much space between menu items for A) good clicking or B) good design. Mail, Photos, Safari, Pages, all of their buttons and UI elements look designed for a finger. Maybe this is a finer tipped finger than iOS was originally designed for, but we’ve had fourteen years of becoming experts on touching user interfaces. Even if the buttons are smaller than they would be on an iPhone screen, the screen on a MacBook is bigger — there’s room for error built-in there.

And now we get the news that iOS apps are coming to the Mac and will run (on Apple silicon processors) without any re-design needed for a mouse or trackpad. They demoed the game Monument Valley, which includes lots of interaction with the screen, tapping and swiping to manipulate the environment. That’s not fun with a mouse. And some apps, like Notability or Procreate, just don’t make any sense on anything but a touchscreen.

The writing is on the screen. Apple has said for years they aren’t adding a touch screen to the laptop, but I think they’ve finally changed their minds on the idea.

When I’m using my iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard, I find it’s often easier to reach up and touch what I’m looking at. Although not always as precise, it’s a faster, more natural motion, and I prefer it. And now, after a few months with my iPad and Magic Keyboard, I find myself doing the exact same thing when working on my MacBook, often with comical results. I’ll reach up and press on the screen. I’ll wait. Nothing happens, so I try again. And still nothing. “What the heck,” I wonder aloud. I press the screen a third time. And then: “Oh.” And I sheepishly move back to the trackpad. And I know I’m not the only one: I suspect there are many MacBook screens inside Apple Park with fingerprints on them.

But while I think a MacBook with a touch screen is a given, I think there are many unknowns. Will it be a traditional MacBook, or will it be a “flip-book” like design where the MacBook becomes a pseudo-tablet? Will Apple Pencil work with the screen? Will the screen be detachable from the keyboard? Will it use Face ID? 1

A few weeks ago I wrote:

MacOS and iPad OS feel like two distance celestial bodies — like the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies — destined to merge in the distant future. We can already see some early collisions — keyboard shortcuts in iPadOS 13.5, Catalina’s super lockdown of the Desktop — and while Apple claims they envision two distinct platforms, hardware and software changes. A year ago no one was predicting an Apple-designed scissior-switch keyboard for the iPad, but here I am, typing on it.

I feel we just skipped a few millions years closer to that celestial merger.

I miss working on my MacBook; but I love having a touch screen when working. I know a lot of people have a MacBook with a touch screen on their wish lists, and I think Apple is going to make all of our wishes come true this Winter. The iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard are all the proof anyone needs that a keyboard under a touch screen is the best way to compute.

Hamilton Will Be Censored (Slightly) on Disney+ 6/23/2020

Julia Alexander for The Verge:

Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda announced on Monday that in order to bring [Hamilton] to Disney Plus, he and his team had to come up with ways of eliminating the offending word. They ended up muting the “fuck” in “I get the fuck back up again” during “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” and covered another use of the word with a record scratch in the lyric “Southern motherfucking Democratic Republicans” in “Washington On Your Side.”

In February, Manuel also told The New York Times’ Kyle Buchanan that if they had to “mute a word here or there to reach the largest audience possible, I’m okay with that, because your kids already have the original language memorized,” adding that he didn’t “think we’re depriving anyone of anything if we mute an f-bomb here or there to make our rating.”

I wanted to link to The Verge article here because Julia Alexander provides some spot-on context for how a PG-13 or R rating is determined by the MPAA. Disney won’t allow anything higher than a PG-13 rating on the streaming service (although it’s fine that there are pistol duels and people dying and affairs). Other than dropping these two “fucks” from the film, the otherwise entire Broadway production will be here on July 3rd.

And here’s the trailer.

From WWDC 2020 6/22/2020

I liked the WWDC 2020 virtual presentation format this year. I like that Apple was required to try something new, and I think it worked really, really well. So well, in fact, I’d love to see more keynotes just like this. The keynote was pre-recorded with unique views of the Steve Jobs Theater and Apple Park. I liked getting to zoom around Apple Park and I appreciated the tight editing and lack of “pause for applause” moments that most Apple keynotes endure. This was a well made, well edited, and well presented keynote of Apple’s future software and hardware offerings.

A few interesting takeaways from the keynote:

Apple has officially announced the transition of their Macs from Intel to Apple silicon (that’s Apple’s placeholder name for the new ARM SoCs). Macs with Apple silicon will be shipping by the end of the year. A Mac mini running the iPad’s A12Z will be shipping as a DTK for $500 to registered developers starting this week.

According to the About this Mac window of the development build of macOS running on Apple silicon, this is now macOS 11. It appears 10.15 will be the final version of OS X, first released almost 20 years ago. I’d actually wondered if Apple would take this opportunity of transitioning to new hardware to update the OS version, and they have done just that.

With so many translucent menus and sidebars, I wonder what kind of embedded GPU power this new OS will require. I’m guessing a lot of older, 5+ year old Macs will not be seeing macOS 11 as an update option. I am seriously unsure of my MacBook Pro 2015’s upgradability. And, if I do upgrade, what kind of performance hit am I going to take with it? Update: On Apple’s Big Sur Preview page, way at the bottom, are the supported systems. Most systems from 2013 are supported, including the MacBook Pro. That essentially means most Macs purchased in 2013 will get at least eight years of OS updates, and Apple could very well extend that support to nine years with macOS 11.1 or macOS 12 or whatever they end up calling it next year. You won’t find many PC laptops getting continued support from their manufacturers eight years down the road.

Make no mistake, Apple said this macOS redesign was the largest since Aqua, and they’re right. This is a huge overhaul of every pixel on the screen. It will hopefully get some fine tuning before public release this Fall, but it does look beautiful. It borrows heavily from iOS (which borrowed heavily from macOS, so cycle, circle, etc) and includes iOS’s widgets and the Mac’s take on control center. Apple is clearly saying something here about their user interface going forward: iOS is our design core. If something needs to be designed on another platform, we’re taking design cues from iOS.

And in a lot of ways, this is the right way for Apple to be approaching it. iOS is by far the most popular operating system in the world. If your first Apple device is an iPhone, and for many people it is/was, then it makes sense to turn on your next new Apple device, probably a Mac, and be greeted by a familiar and recognizable user interface. Is there room to improve on iOS? Yes, there is. But iOS, evolved from the Mac, is now evolving the Mac. The apprentice has become the master.

In that regard, Apple is doubling-down on Catalyst apps on the Mac, bringing Messages and Maps into the Catalyst fold. I definitely saw some groans on Twitter when that was announced. I’ll admit it, when I saw Maps and Messages demoed with those awkward sidebars and iPad-like UI, I thought, “huh, those look like Catalyst apps.” And then Apple proudly revealed they were, in fact, built from Catalyst.

But Apple also announced Macs with Apple silicon will be able to run iOS and iPadOS apps natively on macOS, and showed off a few games and apps. The apps should just automagically work and need no updates from devs.

Apple also showed off a little bit of gaming on the new Apple silicon, and it looked... fine? It’s impossible to tell on a live stream, and they could have just said “gaming looks amazing” and gotten the same message across. It’ll really be up to game developers if they want to port their games to the Mac now. They’ve tried before and it has never really caught on.

The iPhone home screen is getting some updates via widgets, which feels a bit meh as far as innovations after 14 years of status quo. Can't wait to see what changes are coming to the next home screen update in 2034. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t see any need to make any significant updates to the home screen or multitasking of iPadOS (at least, they didn't announce anything). I worry about the iPad’s future if Apple is just okay with the Springboard/home screen and multitasking features as-is. Maybe this was always planned as a stability year for iOS/iPad OS, and a feature year for macOS, and 2021 will bring the iPad some much needed usability improvements.

Apple also threw up a slide of all the new iOS features they didn’t have time to talk about (despite the virtual keynote ending nine minutes before noon) but one of these new features is the ability to change the default browser and email client. I think it’s very telling of Apple not wanting to implement this by their reluctance to speak about it. After fourteen years of tapping a link and having Safari or the Mail app open, you can now choose whatever you want to open in their place.

And watchOS has sleep tracking and hand washing tracking now, so that’s something. I expect if Apple Watch has any additional surprises they will be hardware related and won’t be announced until the Fall.

AirPods Pro are getting some new surround sound abilities in a future software update, as well. However, no new AirPod models were announced. AR/VR wasn’t menmtioned, either. The term LiDAR was never once mummbled or even appeared on a slide. No HomePod news, either.

In fact, no specific new hardware announcements at all, aside from Apple silicon. As with many WWDCs, this is a focus on what the developers need, as well as a little something for consumers and bloggers to get excited about over the next few months. Apple hype season has officially begun.

PS5 Digital Edition 6/20/2020

The PlayStation 5 was revealed by Sony last week and I’ve been thinking a lot about that Digital Edition, which lacks a disc drive but is otherwise identical to the (regular?) PS5.

I’ve heard it called a surprise, but I’m wondering if it was more of a “finally” type of announcement.

I realize many people in the US don’t have broadband connections, and I know many of the major platforms still see up to 60% of sales in physical discs, so I don’t think it was likely for any console to abandon their disc drives entirely. However, many US households do have always on broadband, and I’d be surprised if Sony doesn’t market the PS5 Digital Edition almost exclusively online.

I’d also be surprised if the Digital Edition didn’t cost at least a hundred dollars less than the disc drive edition.

Sony makes more money on a digital sale than on a physical disc sale. If they sell directly through their online store, they don’t have to give a cut of the profits to Amazon, or Target, or Walmart, or Best Buy. Cut out the middle man and reap the profits (30% of the sale price, according to IGN). And gamers who are watching eSports or playing online are already more likely to have the broadband connection necessary to download the games. If Sony can lock these gamers into an online-only distribution service (and subscribe them to the PS Plus service with a free trial), they stand to make back their money on the console’s discounted price and much more over the next five to seven+ years.

In the lifespan of my PS4, which I purchased in 2014, I’ve owned and played two games on disc: The first was GTA5, which came in a bundle with the console. The second was Red Dead Redemption 2, which I picked up on sale at Wal-Mart about a year ago, then resold when I was bored of it. And to be honest, the process of buying that game on sale at Walmart was a real pain. When I saw The Last of Us Part II (likely my last hurrah on the PS4) available for pre-order on the PS Store, I immediately clicked buy, knowing I’m guaranteed to have the game downloaded and playable at 9 p.m. PDT Thursday. If you bought the game from Amazon you likely wouldn’t receive it until mid-day Friday, assuming your delivery isn’t delayed. And I definitely remember the days of trying to pre-order a game disc online only to discover they’d sold out of the pre-orders. I’ve never had a digital pre-order sell out on any platform.

One caveat on buying from Sony’s PS Store: They don’t offer refunds, period. But then again, if you peel the shrink wrap off your physical game box you’re unlikely to return it, either, although you could resell it and make back some of your money. Over the years, I’ve just learned to do my research and read the reviews before pre-ordering any new types of games. (Part II’s are usually safe for pre-ordering.)

I suspect this won’t be a difficult decision for most gamers. They can simply look to their bookshelf to decide if the disc drive is something they’ll want in their next console. Personally, I find the convenience of digital downloads, the lack of a bookshelf full of game cases, and the (assumed) discounted console pricing reason enough for me to order the PS5 Digital Edition. And while you might be able to think of several reasons why you personally would find the disc drive in the PS5 beneficial (watching Blu-ray movies, borrowing games, buying used games) it just doesn’t fit my minimalist lifestyle and values. The lack of a disc drive isn’t going to change the PS5’s size (which looks enormous) or weight or graphics quality, but it’s a concession to how I live my life and play my games that I find a disc drive unnecessary and easy to leave behind to the consoles of the previous decade.

PG&E Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter 6/19/2020

Kate Cox at Ars Technica:

California utility firm Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges that it was responsible for the deaths of more than 80 people in a massive 2018 wildfire caused by its equipment.

The fire, known as the Camp Fire, began in November 2018 when two PG&E power lines came into contact with nearby dry brush, sparking flames. Eighty-five people died in the fire, which also destroyed 18,800 structures.

Their punishment?

A federal judge on Tuesday approved the company’s $59 billion reorganization plan. That plan includes settlements with insurers and local governments as well as $13.5 billion in settlements to victims of wildfires for which PG&E was responsible. Half of the settlements to individuals, however, will be paid in company shares instead of cash, after which victims would own almost 21 percent of the company. That could expose survivors to future liability, The Wall Street Journal reports, if the company once again ends up facing criminal or regulatory penalties for failing to make good on safety commitments.

That’ll teach ‘em.

AMC’s Political Controversy 6/19/2020

Yesterday California announced that when in public spaces, everyone is expected to wear a mask.

Arnold Schwarzenegger via Twitter:

”This is 100% the right move. This will help us beat this terrible virus. The science is unanimous - if we all wear masks, we slow down the spread and can reopen safely. It’s not a political issue. Anyone making it a political issue is an absolute moron who can’t read.”

AM-effectively-immediately-AMC-will-no-longer-play-any-Universal-movies-in-any-of-our-theaters-C” CEO Adam Aron yesterday on why masks are optional at his theaters:

“We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy. We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary.”

CEO Aron today after "listening to our guests":

“As we reopen theaters, we now will require that all AMC guests nationwide wear masks as they enter and enjoy movies at our theaters. The speed with which AMC moved to revise our mask policies is a reflection of our commitment to the safety and health of our guests.”

As far as CEO’s go, this guy must have bumbling and coward printed right on his business card. I can only assume he still has a job because AMC’s board has realized this ship has sunk and replacing Aron won’t do any good, so might was well sit back and popcorn.gif.

It is Now Mandatory to Wear a Mask in California 6/19/2020

From the California Department of Public Health:

The California Department of Public Health today released updated PDF guidance that requires Californians to wear a face covering in high-risk settings. A growing body of scientific research has shown that people with no or few symptoms of COVID-19 can still spread the disease and that the use of face coverings, combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing, will reduce the spread of COVID-19.

"Science shows that face coverings and masks work," said Governor Gavin Newsom. "They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy."

Suit up.

Phil Schiller: No Changes to the Rules for Hey 6/18/2020

Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch:

In a brief call today about Basecamp’s Hey email app from the iOS App Store, Apple’s Phil Schiller told me that there would currently be no changes to its rules that would allow the app to continue to be offered.

“Sitting here today, there’s not any changes to the rules that we are considering,” Schiller said. “There are many things that they could do to make the app work within the rules that we have. We would love for them to do that.”

Phil Schiller didn’t have to call up TechCrunch and defend Apple’s position on this, but he did. I like that about today’s Apple.

Panzarino goes on to write:

As far as to why Apple would look at a situation like this and not see an obvious minefield, I believe that it internally thinks that it is doing the right and just thing. It built the platform, it deserves to profit from that platform which does contribute enormous economic impact to both digital and physical sectors. And there are indisputable security and privacy benefits to Apple controlling the payments platform.

Instapaper and Overcast creator/developer Marco Arment, via Twitter:

Let’s be clear, Apple: in addition to the $100/year developer fees and any search ads we buy, we add value to your highly profitable hardware FAR beyond the 30%.

I don’t like that today’s Apple has a really tough time reading a room. 30% sounds high, and this business model feels dated. I buy iPhones and iPads because of apps like Overcast and Ulysses and Bear. If these apps decide the cost of business (both financial and personal sanity) is too high and just give up, I’m not sure what my next phone would be.

Hey could just add a shitty little POP3 client with minimal email functionality and the app would get approved. Schiller says as much in the TechCrunch interview. But I get the feeling the Basecamp guys have it in their heads they’re in the right.

This whole situation is a mess; WWDC20 is going to be an interesting event.

Splash Mountain 6/17/2020

It’s not a “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” day on Splash Mountain. There have been calls for Disney to re-theme the ride and remove the Song of the South songs and animatronic characters from the popular attraction.

I like the theme. I haven’t seen Song of the South in my adult life, but I know a lot of the songs, and I like them. Of course, in researching this post I learned that “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” may have been inspired by a racist pre-Civil War folk song, “Zip Coon.”

But I still like the music, and I still like the theming, and I still think it needs to be re-themed.1

Sure, I’ll miss hearing “Zip” after coming down the flume and turning the bend into the riverboat finale (which seems broken more often than not — maybe the fact they can’t keep these animatronics from the 70’s working for more than a day is another good reason to say good-bye to Br’er Rabbit) but I try to picture myself at The Happiest Place on Earth, seeing a towering icon in front of me that was based on stereotypes meant to degrade and humiliate me, and I can’t help but feel a little sick and angry. Disney can do better.

Side rant: I’ve always held that Disneyland should have been swapping out dark ride interiors every decade or so. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride could have become a taxi ride through New York with Oliver and Company, and Peter Pan’s Flight could have become a soaring Magic Carpet Ride with Aladdin over Agrabah. Yes, these are beloved rides, but only because us aging Disneyland fans have rode them dozens or hundreds of times for the last 65 years. Imagine what a Moana or Big Hero 6 dark ride could have been to this newest generation of Disney-fan. They don’t know much about the kid with the nose, but they love that ice princess. Disneyland can’t survive if they aren’t willing to do a little recycling in the space they have. What’s a kid born in 2050 going to think of the Alice ride when VR gaming is the standard?

My point is, this could be an exciting opportunity2 for Disney to turn something old into something new. Nothing about the core of Splash Mountain — not the name (which was named after Tom Hank’s mermaid movie Splash), not the flume, not the logs, not the water aspect — has the slightest relationship to the Song of the South film. Many of the animatronics were recycled from the recently closed America Sings attraction and don’t appear in the film. There’s no argument that can be made that a log flume ride requires songs and characters from a 1946 live-action/animated hybrid film with heavily racist stereotypes and overtones.

The Princess and the Frog has been heavily recommended as the new theme for Splash Mounatin, and the art and characters and songs for that film are wonderful — a large part of the film even takes place on the water! And The Princess and the Frog on a flume ride would be a thrilling way to celebrate black lives at Disneyland, with the New Orleans land theming extended way out into Critter Country. (That name will probably have to go, but I’m sure Pooh and Tigger won’t mind.)

As Walt used to say, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” Let’s use that imagination on Splash Mountain 2.0 and make something better, something filled with Disney magic, something that doesn’t break down every week, and something celebrating black lives matter.

Apple Tells Basecamp’s New Email Service Hey to Pay Up or Else 6/16/2020

David Pierce at Protocol, ‘A new email startup says Apple’s shaking it down for a cut of its subscriptions’:

The app sat in the queue for review, then in the "under review" status for far longer than usual. Then Waugh got a phone call. The Apple reviewer said he was calling because the new app hadn’t resolved the issue with rule 3.1.1. The issue had been escalated internally, and Apple had determined it was a valid rejection — the only way to move forward would be to implement Apple’s payments system. And not only that: Waugh was told that Apple would like a commitment and a timeline for implementing the payment system, or Apple might be forced to remove Hey from the App Store entirely.

When Waugh and Basecamp pointed out that there were many other apps — even email apps like Spark or Edison — that allowed users to log in to their existing accounts without signing up through Apple, the reviewer told them they wouldn’t discuss other apps. And that was that.

Hey has followed the Netflix/Spotify/Edison route but was called out by Apple for reasons no one seems to understand. Apple is trying to draw some sort of arbitrary distinction between a business app, which doesn’t need to follow this rule, and a consumer app. But John Gruber at Daring Fireball makes a strong point:

By sheer coincidence, before this controversy erupted I switched (at least temporarily) my public contact address for Daring Fireball to my @hey.com email address. I’m paying for Hey using the same company credit card I use to pay for Basecamp. How is that not a business service? I’m sure as shit reporting it to my accountant that way. Who exactly is paying $100/year for email service and not using it for business in some way?

This is making the rounds Tuesday evening and by Wednesday it’ll be front page news on every Apple and tech website. It’s already at the top of Techmeme. This is really bad publicity. Earlier today the EU opened dual anti-trust investigations into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay, and Apple won’t agree to send Tim Cook to Washington to testify in Congress’s anti-trust probe.

Reed Albergotti and Tony Romm for the Washington Post today, ‘Tinder and Fortnite criticize Apple for its App Store monopoly’:

“Apple is a partner, but also a dominant platform whose actions force the vast majority of consumers to pay more for third-party apps that Apple arbitrarily defines as “digital services,” Match Group said in a statement, adding Apple “squeezes industries like e-books, music and video streaming, cloud storage, gaming and online dating.”

“We’re acutely aware of their power over us,” the company added.

Hey’s developer, David Heinemeier Hansson:

"There is never in a million years a way that I am paying Apple a third of our revenues," Heinemeier Hansson told Protocol. “That is obscene, and it’s criminal, and I will spend every dollar that we have or ever make to burn this down until we get to somewhere better."

More history on this ridiculous, consumer- and developer-hostile rule 3.1.1. from Ben Thompson at Stratechery.

Whatever small amount of money Apple is making from their 30% cut of app store prices can’t be worth the bad PR and anti-trust nightmares to follow. This is literally the easiest PR problem for them to solve. And all of this bad news is on the eve of Apple’s first virtual WWDC on Monday.

Tenet Movie Delayed 2 Weeks By Warner Bros. 6/12/2020

Rebecca Rubin for Variety, ‘‘Tenet,’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Push Back Theatrical Releases’:

“Tenet,” Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated espionage thriller, has pushed back its theatrical debut by two weeks, ending months of speculation about whether or not the $200 million tentpole would hold onto its mid-July release date.

Two weeks. What was the thought process at Warner Bros. on a two week delay? The original release date for Tenet was July 17th — if that date sounds suspiciously familiar, it’s the same date selected to re-open Disneyland and DCA.

Warner also announced that on July 17th they’ll be re-releasing Nolan’s previous blockbuster, Inception, which also happens to be the film’s tenth anniversary. (Seems like a lot happens on July 17th. Could be a glitch in the matrix.) Releasing Inception would make for a good barometer of sorts in testing audience interest in leaving their houses to see a movie.

I can’t imagine that Warner Bros. is naive enough to believe that COVID-19 is suddenly going to disappear from the US population in those extra two weeks, and I am still furious at Christopher Nolan for pushing so hard for his movie to be released next month. He genuinely seems more concerned for his movie than for the lives of his “fans” and fellow movie goers.

I’ve never hoped for a movie to bomb as much as I hope Tenet does, only because a financial flop means Americans were smart enough to stay home.

Wonder Woman 1984 is also seeing a big delay, from August 14th to October 2nd, but why? If Warner Bros. is confident enough in forcing Tenet into theaters in July, why delay WW84? I can only imagine they’re not expecting enough people to actually go to the theater to fill all the available seats for two films, so they’re giving audiences one movie at a time. They could also be trying to stack the deck in Nolan’s favor by making Tenet the only ticket in town.

Well, not the only ticket. On the Disney side of the multiplex, Mulan is still scheduled for release on July 24th, and if the Resorts open as planned on July 11th and 17th, I don’t see Disney postponing the film again.

I hope Mulan flops, too. I’m also equally unhappy with Disney for releasing a movie for kids in theaters during a pandemic. If this country had competent leadership we wouldn’t be prioritizing movie theaters over the lives of our citizens.

WWDC20 Keynote and Lineup Announced 6/11/2020

Apple has announced the WWDC20 Special Event Keynote starts June 22 at 10 a.m. PDT and will be streamed live on apple.com, the Apple Devleoper website, the Developer app, the Apple TV app, and YouTube and in China on Tencent, iQIYI, Bilibili, and Youku. From Apple’s Newsroom:

Now in its 31st year, WWDC20 will be the biggest WWDC to date, bringing together the global Apple developer community of more than 23 million in an unprecedented, virtual way, from June 22 to 26. Apple today shared the WWDC20 lineup, including keynote and Platforms State of the Union timing, and information on how developers can learn about the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS, and engage with Apple engineers.

Following the Keynote at 2 p.m. will be the Platforms State of the Union address, proving a deep dive into the operating systems by Apple lead engineers. Apple also announced engineering sessions, new developer forums, and by appointment 1-on-1 developer labs.

On a personal note, I was planning to attend my first WWDC this year. While I’ll be watching this keynote from home — just like every other year — I’m excited to see how Apple presents the keynote in this new format. I can’t imagine it’s just Tim & Co. on stage in front of an empty auditorium. There’s so much potential here to make this a really unique keynote presentation and (because it’s Apple) my expectations are high.

NBA Might Be Quarantining Reporters Inside Disney World 6/11/2020

Robert Silverman at The Daily Beast, ‘The NBA Might Lock Reporters Inside Its Disney ‘Bubble’ for 3.5 Months’:

When the NBA resumes its 2019-20 season this summer, it won’t just be the players, team employees, and league officials who’ll be sequestered at Walt Disney World for several months. According to a Professional Basketball Writers Association memo, a select group of reporters could be locked inside the Disney bubble for at least three-and-a-half months—with no option to re-enter if they exit quarantine.

Pizza Emoji is excited to announce it is now exclusively providing coverage of basketball and nothing else.

Disneyland Sets Reopening Date 6/10/2020

The Disneyland Resort has set their reopening date for July 17th, 2020. Details are few at this point, but according to the site:

Upon reopening, certain parks, hotels, restaurants, attractions, experiences and other offerings will be modified or unavailable, will have limited capacity and will be subject to limited availability or even closure, and park admission and offerings are not guaranteed.

Like with Disney World, reservations will be required and parades and fireworks won’t be happening. New ticket sales and Annual Passport sales and renewals will also be postponed until further notice.

The word “mask” appears nowhere on this page, but it doesn’t matter: Masks or not, going to Disneyland during a pandemic is an even worse idea than going to a movie theater. And trust me, spending a day in the Southern California sun with a mask over your mouth is not going to be very fun, for cast members and guests alike.

Disneyland’s reopening news comes the same day the US has confirmed 2 million cases of COVID-19.

Daring Fireball’s ARM Mac Transition Speculation 6/10/2020

I don’t like writing about rumors, but the ARM Mac transition is happening, and it’s almost certainly being announced at WWDC — when else could it be announced? — so here is John Gruber’s speculation on what to expect:

There’s been some reasonable speculation that Apple might use ARM chips only for portable Macs and consumer desktops, and stick with high-end Intel chips for pro desktops, but I think that’s simply based on our never having seen Apple even try its hand at high-performance chips. If you’re going to switch, switch.

If you want to see how this is going to play out, just rewatch Steve Jobs’s 2005 announcement of the PowerPC-Intel transition. As I wrote back in 2018, it’s uncanny how similar the explanation could be: Apple’s in-house ARM-based chips offer vastly superior performance-per-watt compared to Intel’s, and Apple has ideas for future Macs that they can’t build without that superior performance-per-watt. All computers benefit from superior performance-per-watt, not just portables. That was the story in 2005, and it should be the story in 2020.

There are other reasons too. It’s cheaper for Apple to make its own chips than to buy Intel’s. They already make a $400 iPhone that out-benchmarks a $3,000 top-of-the-line MacBook Pro in single-core CPU performance. That’s bananas when you think about it. And there is a cross-platform developer story. With one consistent set of system-on-a-chip designs, all software for all Apple platforms can target the same Metal APIs for the GPUs, and the same neural engine APIs for machine learning and AI tasks.

The rumor mill currently leaves some big questions unanswered, though.

I think Gruber is spot on, especially when it comes to moving the entire line of products to ARM. It doesn’t make sense to split the line, and when you really think about it, most of the popular apps, from Photoshop to Office, have for years been written for different processors — PowerPC and Intel in the 90’s/early 00’s, and today for Intel and Apple’s A-series ARM processors already in iPhone and iPad. Apple’s biggest benefit in going to Intel in ‘05 was improved power and battery life. The fact that Photoshop was now able to run on the same CPU architecture was a happy accident; in no way did it make the transition for anyone easier.

Gruber touches briefly on a very interesting idea in the footnote of this post. He doesn’t name it, but a device that straddles the Mac and iPad — the MacPad — would be a very interesting device. I don’t think this is as simple as macOS on an iPad Pro or iOS on a MacBook, but I think a true merging of both hardware and software that brings the best of both worlds into a single device. A Finder-like filesystem, iOS gesture controls, AppleScript or Shortcuts+, full screen apps and full keyboard support, and Pro apps like Xcode and Final Cut Pro.

MacOS and iPad OS feel like two distance celestial bodies — like the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies — destined to merge in the distant future. We can already see some early collisions — keyboard shortcuts in iPadOS 13.5, Catalina’s super lockdown of the Desktop — and while Apple claims they envision two distinct platforms, hardware and software changes. A year ago no one was predicting an Apple-designed scissior-switch keyboard for the iPad, but here I am, typing on it.

But speaking a little closer to present day: If Cook doesn’t do the “About this Mac...” reveal at the end of the keynote showing the Mac was running on an ARM CPU, I’m going to be pretty upset.

TV Show COPS is Canceled 6/9/2020

Will Thorne for Variety:

“Cops” has officially been canceled at Paramount Network.

Good.

Movies Theaters are Planning to Reopen in California This Week 6/8/2020

Pamela McClintock for The Hollywood Reporter, ‘California Mulls Reopening Movie Theaters on June 12 With Restrictions’:

Movie theaters in California could begin reopening as early as June 12 with strict social distancing measures in place for the first two weeks, according to a plan being considered by the state that was shared with The Hollywood Reporter.

Cinemas have been closed across the country since March 20 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Anxious theater owners — and Hollywood studios — are expected to be given the go ahead to flip on the lights later this week by California Gov. Gavin Newsom's office. This means that Warner Bros. may still be able to launch Christopher Nolan's Tenet in cinemas on July 17 as originally planned.

I get it, there's a lot of pressure to get businesses reopened, but going to a movie theater this summer is a really, really dumb thing to do.

It feels like many in the US have just accepted COVID-19 as another deadly fact of life, like wildfires in California or hurricanes in Florida. Except that nobody has to die from COVID-19. It’s totally preventable by having a little patience, common sense, and self-control. I read in the news, how they just casually say, “there’ll be flare ups here or there” but there don’t have to be flare ups. I don’t know why the US is so eager to run out and get sick. Just stay inside a little longer and don’t die. It’s so easy.

As for Tenet, I’ll be renting it whenever Warner Bros. decides that their customer’s lives are more important than pleasing the dangerously insane CEOs of American movie theaters.

IBM Exiting Facial Recognition Business 6/8/2020

Ina Fried at Axios, ‘IBM is exiting the face recognition business’:

In a letter to members of Congress on Monday, IBM said it is exiting the general-purpose facial recognition business and said it opposes the use of such technology for mass surveillance and racial profiling

“IBM no longer offers general purpose IBM facial recognition or analysis software,” CEO Arvind Krishna said in the letter. “IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency.”

Good for IBM. When you have shareholders and a stock price, this kind of decision isn’t easy, but this is the right decision.

DC Mayor Renames Street in Front of White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” 6/6/2020

The Washington Post:

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed a street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and had the slogan painted on the asphalt in massive yellow letters, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets.

City officials said the actions Friday were meant to honor demonstrators who are urging changes in law enforcement practices after the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in the custody of Minneapolis police.

“There was a dispute this week about whose street it is, and Mayor Bowser wanted to make it abundantly clear whose street it is and honor the peaceful demonstrators who assembled Monday night,” said John Falcicchio, the mayor’s chief of staff.

Mayor Bowser — what a name! And that street is beautiful.

Update: As noted by The Verge, Apple Maps has been updated with the new paint job.

Don’t Drink the Bleach 6/5/2020

Beth Mole at Ars Technica:

Americans are doing more housecleaning and disinfecting amid the COVID-19 pandemic and many are turning to wild and dangerous tactics—like drinking and gargling bleach solutions.

The CDC noticed a spike in poison control calls a few months ago — this is all from before Trump suggested people inject bleach into their bodies to fight COVID-19 — and setup an online survey to test common household cleaning knowledge and practices.

The most common risky practice was washing fruits, vegetables, and other foods in bleach solutions. A total of 19 percent said they did this. From there, 18 percent said they used household cleaners—not hand soap—to wash their hands and/or other body parts. Ten percent said they misted themselves with household cleaners and disinfecting products.

Here’s where I started to gag a little while reading:

And 4 percent of people reported gargling or drinking household cleaners, soap solutions, and bleach solutions.

It’s difficult to say if this is out of general stupidity or desperation or fear or some mixture. I will admit to being an obsessive hand-washer (using hand soap!) back in April as the fear, uncertainty, and doubt was beginning to reach peak levels, but I never felt the need to bleach myself. I’m honestly not sure what people are thinking when they gargle or drink bleach.

Many of the survey takers also did not know you should never mix bleach with hot water, vinegar, or ammonia, yet “82 percent reported that they strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that they knew how to clean and disinfect their home safely.”

AMC in Substantial Doubt of Remaining in Business 6/5/2020

Frank Pallotta for CNN:

AMC Theatres, the world’s biggest movie theater chain, said on Wednesday that it has “substantial doubt” it can remain in business after closing locations across the globe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The theater chain, which closed its theaters earlier this year, expects to have lost between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion in the first quarter.

AM-effectively-immediately-AMC-will-no-longer-play-any-Universal-movies-in-any-of-our-theaters-C” also reported they are generating “effectively no revenue.”

Keep in mind Universal wasn’t the last studio to offer a home video release of films originally scheduled for theaters. Warner did this with Scoob and Disney is doing this with Hamilton in just a few weeks. No peep from “AM-effectively-immediately-AMC-will-no-longer-play-any-Universal-movies-in-any-of-our-theaters-C” CEO Adam Aron on additional Warner and Disney studio bans.

You Can Already Change Your Default Search Engine, But Almost Nobody Does. Is that Google’s Fault? 6/5/2020

Gerrit De Vynck at Bloomberg:

U.S. federal and state authorities are asking detailed questions about how to limit Google’s power in the online search market as part of their antitrust investigations into the tech giant, according to rival DuckDuckGo Inc.

Gabriel Weinberg, chief executive officer of the privacy-focused search engine, said the company has spoken with state regulators, and talked with the U.S. Justice Department as recently as a few weeks ago.

Justice Department officials and state attorneys general asked the company about requiring Google to give consumers alternatives to its search engine on Android devices and in Google’s Chrome web browser, Weinberg said in an interview.

The option to search with DuckDuckGo exists in Chrome — even on Android — it’s just a matter of getting millions of people to choose an alternative search engine. Most people don’t know what a “search engine” is to begin with, so you have to explain what this is and why it’s beneficial to use DuckDuckGo or something else.

For the vast majority of users, they tap on what they’re given. But if Google did prompt users with a choice of Google or DuckDuckGo on their “Google” phones, which do you think they’ll pick? They’ll assume Google is the “right” choice since it’s a “Google” phone.

This isn’t an antitrust/monopoly issue. This is a lack of education and tech-apathy on the part of consumers. Google gets a head start by being the default search on Android and iOS devices, but the option to change it is already there. People don’t use it.

I think everyone should switch to DuckDuckGo. Google isn’t preventing anyone from doing so, and I have tech-savvy friends who prefer Google and keep it as their default search, despite knowing how to switch. Slapping Google with an anti-trust lawsuit isn’t going to make people care about their search engine. That requires a lot of very difficult and very time consuming consumer education.

Tim Cook: “Speaking Up on Racism” 6/4/2020

Tim Cook, in a letter “Speaking up on racism” on Apple.com:

While our laws have changed, the reality is that their protections are still not universally applied. We’ve seen progress since the America I grew up in, but it is similarly true that communities of color continue to endure discrimination and trauma.

I have heard from so many that you feel afraid — afraid in your communities, afraid in your daily lives, and, most cruelly of all, afraid in your own skin. We can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor, and life.

Trump Attacks Peaceful Protestors for Photo Op at Nearby Church, Bishop is Outraged 6/1/2020

Kevin Liptak and Sarah Westwood for CNN:

With the constant sound of helicopter blades overhead and a steady succession of bangs from nearby Lafayette Park, Trump declared himself an “ally of all peaceful protesters.”

But as he was speaking, peaceful protesters were being urgently dispersed outside the White House gates by police using rubber bullets, tear gas and flash bangs. Several protesters were seen pouring water into their eyes to ease the gas’s sting.

Later, Trump walked across the park to St. John’s Episcopal Church, a house of worship used by American presidents for more than a century that was partially burned in a Sunday evening protest.

“We have the greatest country in the world,” Trump said in front of the church, holding a Bible and surrounded by aides, including national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Attorney General Bill Barr, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, chief of staff Mark Meadows, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

He remained at the boarded-up building for a matter of minutes before returning inside the White House.

Trump engaged peaceful protesters with rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash bangs so he could walk across the street for a three minute photo op. The video on CNN of him speaking about being an “alley of peaceful protesters” while next to him a live feed of police attacking protestors who are sitting and kneeling is remarkable.

Anderson Cooper:

What the president doesn’t seem to know or care is that the vast majority of those protesting, they too are calling for law and order. A black man killed with four officers holding him down, a knee to the neck, for more than 8 minutes, nearly three minutes of which he was no longer conscious for, that’s not law and order. That’s murder. Stopping and frisking a young black man simply because he’s a young black man. That’s not law and order. The killing of George Floyd, Eric Garner, the torture of Abner Louima, that’s not law and order. The president seems to think that dominating black people, dominating peaceful protestors, is law and order. It’s not. He calls them thugs. Who’s the thug here?

Later, Cooper talked to the Bishop of Trump’s church photo op, Bishop Mariann Edgar Buddy, who said via the phone on CNN:

The president just used a bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our churches stand for. And to do so, he sanctioned the use of tear gas by police officers in riot gear to clear the church yard. I am outraged. The president did not pray when he came to St. John’s, nor did he acknowledge the agony of our country right now, and in particular that of the people of color in our nation, who wonder if anyone in public power will ever acknowledge their sacred worth and who are rightfully demanding an end to four hundred years of systemic racism and white supremacy in our country.

I wonder who’s bible he was holding.

Update: Here's the headline from the Washington Post: "Police gas, force out peaceful protesters so Trump can pose for photos at a church".

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