Pizza Emoji
by Brandon Butler
The Atlantic: The Election That Could Break America 9/25/2020

Barton Gellman for The Atlantic, ‘The Election That Could Break America‘:

Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.

Trump’s invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before.

Maybe you hesitate. Is it a fact that if Trump loses, he will reject defeat, come what may? Do we know that? Technically, you feel obliged to point out, the proposition is framed in the future conditional, and prophecy is no man’s gift, and so forth. With all due respect, that is pettifoggery. We know this man. We cannot afford to pretend.

Amazon’s new Luna game streaming service isn’t a native iOS app 9/24/2020

Jessica Conditt at Engadget:

Luna is what happens when you take the subscription model of Prime Video, mash it up with Twitch, plug that into Amazon Web Services, and wrap it all in an Alexa-powered gamepad. In short, Luna is Amazon’s cloud gaming platform, and the latest rival to Microsoft’s xCloud and Google’s Stadia. It goes live in early access in October, subscriptions start at $5.99 a month, and players in the US can sign up today to receive an invite via Amazon. […]

With Luna, Amazon has discovered another way to circumvent Apple’s App Store fees. Luna is a progressive web application (PWA), which means it’s actually a browser-based program masquerading as a native iOS app. You’ll download the PWA from the Luna website, and the resulting icon on your iPhone’s home screen will function like a shortcut to Amazon’s cloud gaming portal on the web. 

Wow, if this is actually playable, I’ll be really impressed. You know what doesn’t impress me? Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, which is constantly stuttering when playing Prime movies. Yeah, movies from Amazon’s streaming service, playing on Amazon’s streaming device, stutter every ten minutes. It’s super annoying. I get why Amazon makes and sells it — it’s a $30 super cheap device to get people to watch and buy Prime movies, but I also think it’s wrong to sell such a terribly underpowered device. But I digress. If Amazon can pull off a streaming web app on the iPhone, and allow me to play a game like Control with no lag? Yeah, I’d probably pay $6 a month for that.

So Microsoft, Sony, Google, and Amazon all offer streaming gaming options now. Who’s next?

New social network Telepath wants to make the internet nicer 9/24/2020

Biz Carson for Protocol:

The rules of the new social network Telepath are simple: Be kind. Don’t be mean. No harassment, and no fake news. The existential question for Telepath will be whether that’s easier said than done. […]

Telepath is beginning to dole out invites Thursday to people who want to bring back the feel of the early internet conversations over mutual interests without the fear of being doxxed, harassed or trolled. People sign up to follow different conversation networks, from funny tech memes at #TechHumor to conversations about failing companies on the #Deadpool network, or smaller groups talking about subjects such as the HBO show “Lovecraft Country” or Chinese investment in Africa. 

In a landscape of social networks, Telepath stands out because it’s more about your interests than who you know, and it requires real names for the conversations. It’s also positioning itself as a kinder, more inclusive network by making a point to establish ground rules and moderation up front. There’s also a sense of timeliness to it, with conversations ranging from Supreme Court nomination guesses to Miami Heat rookie Tyler Herro’s win over the Celtics. Telepath also deletes all posts after 30 days.

Color me intrigued, but highly skeptical of this working. I gotta say, though, the idea of deleting posts after thirty days made me tingle with excitement. I signed up for one of the early invites; if I get in, I’ll be sure to give it the old tire kick.

Facebook employees upset over missing snacks 9/24/2020

Casey Newton for The Verge, ‘Mark in the Middle‘:

For years, Mark Zuckerberg has faced criticism that Facebook is bad for democracy.

Employees want him to take a harder line against the Trump Administration. His user base wants him to do the opposite.

In a summer’s worth of leaked audio recordings obtained by The Verge, you can hear Facebook’s CEO trying to hold the center.

In 2020, Facebook would be roiled by a global pandemic, internal protests over racial injustice, a deeply polarizing election, and the ongoing threat of multiple state and federal investigations into antitrust and privacy. But on the morning of July 16th, Mark Zuckerberg found his workforce asking for something else: their missing office snacks.

A major sell to candidates is our office perks include free food, read the question, which had ranked near the top of questions asked that week in an internal poll. And now, with work from home, we’ve lost a huge financial part of our package. What is the plan on this?

This is probably the clearest look I’ve seen at how Facebook operates and functions. The best part of this are those internal recordings Newton was able to get: The Verge has ingeniously embedded a play button next to the quotes, so you can actually hear Zuckerberg answer the questions in his own voice. This is really an outstanding piece of reporting and an outstanding use of the web, something a traditional newspaper or book could never do.

Related: Casey Newton is starting his own paid, $10/month newsletter called Platformer.

Two Geese, One Untitled Game 9/24/2020

The PlayStation Blog has a post from Nico Disseldorp from House House, developer of the amazingly fun Untitled Goose Game. A new update to the game (out now on all systems!) allows for a local two player game, with two geese wrecking havoc on the poor townsfolk. From the blog post:

After the game’s release last year, we had an opportunity to do some more work on the game. One of our favourite things about the response to the game was how many people were playing together with their friends, watching or taking turns. So we decided that the most exciting thing for us would be to add that second goose into the game.

In this post I want to share with you what it was like to add a two player mode into a game that didn’t originally have one. Both in terms of what kind of work we had to do, and how it turned out once it was finished.

When it came to adding a new goose to the game, there were a few big things we had to do, and lots and lots of small things.

Remember, this update is available for all systems, so grab a friend and a couch and start honking.

Epic, Basecamp, Spotify form the Coalition for App Fairness 9/24/2020

Erin Griffith for the New York Times:

For months, complaints from tech companies against Apple’s and Google’s power have grown louder. […]

Now these app makers are uniting in an unusual show of opposition against Apple and Google and the power they have over their app stores. On Thursday, the smaller companies said they had formed the Coalition for App Fairness, a nonprofit group that plans to push for changes in the app stores and “protect the app economy.” The 13 initial members include Spotify, Basecamp, Epic and Match Group, which has apps like Tinder and Hinge.

“They’ve collectively decided, ‘We’re not alone in this, and maybe what we should do is advocate on behalf of everybody,’” said Sarah Maxwell, a spokeswoman for the group. She added that the new nonprofit would be “a voice for many.”

Amazon announces new indoor security drone from Ring 9/24/2020

TechCrunch:

It’s a drone that flies autonomously throughout your home, to provide you with the view you want of whatever room you want, without having to have video cameras installed in multiple locations throughout your house.

The Always Home Cam is a diminutive drone that can be scheduled to fly preset paths, which you lay out as a user. The drone can’t actually be manually flown, and it begins recording only once its in flight (the camera lens is actually physically blocked while it’s docked) — both features the company says will help ensure it operates strictly with privacy in mind. Always Home Cam is also designed intentionally to produce an audible hum while in use, to alert anyone present that it’s actually moving around and recording.

Whoever created this has never owned a pet.

Matthew Panzarino helpfully tweets a photo that shows the actual scale of this thing. It’s huge.

Disney’s new postponed release schedule, including the MCU 9/24/2020

Variety has a look at Disney’s and other studio’s postponed film release schedules. Now that Tenet has officially bombed at the US box office, the studios are pushing nearly everything back to next year. The MCU is heavily affected due to the way the films are connected, with Black Widow seeing a new May 2021 release (over a year after the original 2020 date). This pushes back the rest of the MCU, as Variety notes:

Due to the interconnected nature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Black Widow’s” move shifted back other installments in the superhero franchise. “Eternals,” a comic book adventure about a super-powered alien race, will debut on Nov. 5, 2021. It was previously dated for Feb. 12, 2021. Chloé Zhao directed the film, which stars Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan and Kumail Nanjiani.

Nanjiani endorsed the move on Twitter, saying “Marvel made the right and responsible decision.”

“Nothing is more important than health & lives,” he wrote. “I can’t tell ppl to go to a movie theater until I feel safe going to one.”

After Nolan’s cries to basically release Tenet and let God sort it out, Kumail’s take on prioritizing human life is a refreshing change of pace.

Quibi, the hot new video streaming service no one is talking about, except on tech blogs 9/22/2020

David Pierce writing for the Protocol Source Code newsletter today:

Quibi is on the market, The Wall Street Journal reported. It’s considering all options: an acquisition, a SPAC-enabled public listing, maybe even raising more money. Either way, Quibi’s clearly in trouble. It’s fighting a patent lawsuit, hasn’t had a show that’s really permeated culture, and sure isn’t helped by a pandemic that undermined its business model by keeping everybody at home for the first six months of its existence.

Pierce lists a few potential buyers, like Verizon (“Nobody loves a big-name, flailing company more than Verizon!”) but then reveals this eye-opening fact about Quibi I did not know:

There’s (at least) one significant downside to buying Quibi: It doesn’t own its content. It has seven-year licenses on all its shows and movies, but after two years creators can “reassemble” them and run them elsewhere.

Let’s read that again: Quibi spent $2 billion and owns nothing but a stuqid name and some code. Who invested in this?

Xbox One X sales up over 700%, also pre-orders for the Xbox Series X started today 9/22/2020

Yeah, you can probably see from the headline what happened here, but let’s spell it out: Microsoft made two Xbox consoles with nearly identical names, one is for presale (the Series X) and one has been for sale for a few years (the One X). Twitter user @AndrewAlerts noticed the Amazon sales rank for the One X was up 747% at one point today, the same day the Series X went on pre-order.

I’m guessing Amazon will be processing a lot of Xbox returns in the coming weeks. And/or there will be a lot of sad kids on Christmas. Either way, what a crummy naming scheme Microsoft has chosen for their Xbox line. What’s wrong with Xbox, Xbox 2, Xbox 3, Xbox 4, etc?

Facebook will act if US descends into chaos 9/22/2020

Ars Technica, ‘Facebook vows to restrict users if US election descends into chaos‘:

Facebook has said it will take aggressive and exceptional measures to “restrict the circulation of content” on its platform if November’s presidential election descends into chaos or violent civic unrest.

Nice of Facebook to wait until the chaos erupts before acting. Also, um, 200,000 dead and a president saying he’d create an executive order to prevent his opponent from being president, and the chaos hasn’t started yet? Gonna be an interesting 42 days. Vote.

200,000 coronavirus deaths in America 9/22/2020

Sam Baker for Axios, ‘U.S. reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths‘:

The coronavirus has now killed 200,000 Americans, according to Johns Hopkins data. […]

And deaths keep coming — we’re averaging roughly 830 per day — even as the country increasingly sees the pandemic as background noise, as live sports resume and schools reopen and interest in news about the pandemic wanes.

Vote.

TikTok and WeChat Aren’t Banned, Yet 9/21/2020

Kim Lyons for The Verge:

President Trump said Saturday he had given a deal between TikTok, Oracle, and Walmart his “blessing,” prompting a one-week delay from the Commerce Department on TikTok’s ban. And a judge in California issued a preliminary injunction blocking the administration’s WeChat ban.

Nintendo 3DS line has been discontinued 9/20/2020

Kotaku:

Today [two days ago], the official Japanese page for the Nintendo 3DS series, which includes the 2DS, announced that the consoles are no longer being manufactured.

The Nintendo DS first released in 2004, into a world without iPhones. The 3DS was released in 2011. That’s really the end of an era.

Growing up is hard to do 9/19/2020

Over the last week I’ve been transferring Pizza Emoji onto a new blogging backend and a new server. You may have seen some errors over the last few days, but I’m glad you didn’t give up on me and the site.

Welcome to the new Pizza Emoji.

I knew Pizza Emoji couldn’t last long with the current setup: a half finished PHP script and no MySQL database to speak of. Technically you can build a site with just PHP, but it’s a struggle to get automated features, like an RSS feed, working. And posting was a mostly manual process. For the last few months I made equal efforts in adding in a SQL backend and also looking for an entirely new, off the shelf blogging platform. I wanted something under active development, affordable for a small, low trafficked website that doesn’t make money, and was lightweight and simple. I found the first two in WordPress, but WordPress is anything if lightweight and simple. Still, it checked a lot of my boxes so I spun up a new server and installed WordPress.

After a few hours of tinkering I discovered I could simply copy and paste a significant amount of HTML and CSS from my old design directly into WordPress’s template system. Even the JavaScript for the mobile menu just worked. And some little headaches, like Favicons, were completely handled by a quick drag and drop into a WordPress window. This really impressed me, and I began to understand how WordPress works. This understanding, as basic as it was, provided me with a lot of reassurance that I’d be able to figure the rest of this stuff out with a little effort. (Learning some basic PHP on the old site also really helped ease the transition.)

Of course, some bits of WordPress didn’t let me do exactly the thing I wanted (at least, not that I could figure out) like sizing my images for the [Features] page, but WordPress lets me add in those kinds of images by switching to an HTML editor and typing the HTML tags in directly.

I also discovered functions.php, which is like a WordPress configuration setting page. This lets me make a lot of changes to how WordPress works, from disabling its built-in emojis to customizing page titles and even getting some basic Google Analytics running (sorry, more on that below).

By Sunday night I decided WordPress would be the new backend for Pizza Emoji. And it helped that I’ve watched Jason Snell at Six Colors and Bruce Schneier at Schneier on Security both very recently make the switch to WordPress — that kind of “I use it myself” endorsement holds a lot of weight with me.

Problems appeared Monday evening as I was trying to move the domain — WordPress’s admin page doesn’t like Cloudflare’s flexible SSL and was stuck in a redirect loop for a few hours. Then I accidentally broke MySQL and had to do some reinstalls. Once I felt the new server and WordPress install were working as intended, I began the long process of manually copying in my old posts into the new backend. This gave me an opportunity to review old posts, fix old links, and take a look at what I thought was working and what could be improved for future blog posts.

It took about a week of part time work to import everything, but we’re now fully running on the new server and WordPress backend. Phew.

Some fun facts for the original Pizza Emoji:
The entire site’s code, images, and first year of posts could fit on a 1.4MB floppy disk.
The “engine” of the site, from the first bracket to the final </HTML>, was 143 lines, including comments (I use a lot of comments) but excluding CSS.
The stylesheet was another 366 lines, or one line (that’s a joke for you web designers).
The original color scheme of the site had three or four colors; the attempt was to make it look like a pizza, with a brown background for the crust, and the words the cheese, naturally. This was an eyesore and I quickly settled on a minimalist three color scheme: white background, black font, and a nice orange for the header and logo.
Pizza Emoji has been on four servers in it’s slightly longer than one year of existence; two of the previous servers were abandoned when I broke some core Debian/PHP/MySQL function. I learn best by breaking things; backup your data!
The logo was created by me in the great Mac app Acorn. The original logo was the HTML tag &#9787; or this:

And as always, thanks for reading.

Tencent gets scrutinized by Trump admin 9/18/2020

Hot on the heels of WeChat’s US ban, the app’s owner Tencent is getting scrutinized by the Trump administration over how they use American’s personal data. Owen S. Good for Polygon:

The Trump administration wants to know more about U.S. video game companies’ involvement with China’s Tencent Holdings, whose relationships with American firms includes full ownership of Riot Games, a significant minority stake in Epic Games, and publishing deals with Activision Blizzard. […]

Tencent is the world’s largest video game vendor, but its U.S. holdings are not limited to just that marketplace. It also has stakes in Reddit, Discord, and Snapchat maker Snap Inc.

While personal data is important, I might be more concerned with the influence many of these games and services have on (young) American’s lives. This, combined with TikTok, potentially gives China a lot of political power in the US. Does that mean we should be banning World of Warcraft? Probably not, but I would definitely support an investigation into these companies’s relationship with Tencent.

TikTok, WeChat downloads banned starting Sunday 9/18/2020

Jason Koebler for Vice with the winning headline of the day, ‘Trump Protects TikTok Users’ Security By Cutting Them Off From Security Updates‘:

The Trump administration announced Friday that WeChat and TikTok will be banned from American app stores on Sunday night, in one of the dumbest possible outcomes of an exhausting, unnecessary saga. 

Banning WeChat will cut people off from their loved ones in China, a particularly cruel move during a pandemic that all but prevents international travel. TikTok users, meanwhile, will continue to be able to use the app until November 12, but the app will be removed from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, meaning new users will be unable to download the app, and TikTok parent company ByteDance will be unable to issue patches or updates to the app. 

Meanwhile, TikTok can continue to operate into November while Oracle works out their deal with ByteDance, made possible by the corruption of the Trump Administration, but the apps will be removed from download on Sunday. TechCrunch:

The U.S. Commerce Department has now announced the details of how it will enforce the shutdown of TikTok and WeChat in the country, after announcing in August plans to do so by September 20 over national security concerns. The news is structured along two dates, September 20 and November 12. Both apps and their app updates will no longer be distributed in U.S. app stores as of September 20. But TikTok  specifically gets an extension on how it operates until November 12.

That not only keeps it up until after the November 3 U.S. election, but leaves the door open for it to complete a complicated deal with Oracle and partners to take control of its U.S. operations without an interruption in service.

But while TikTok can continue to work past the Sunday, WeChat is forbidden from “any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization.” Basically, firewalled.

If you think that doesn’t sound fair at all, let me refer you to my earlier statement: corruption.

Facebook’s Gross VR Headset Requires a Real Facebook Account, and Moderates You in VR 9/17/2020

Sam Machkovech for Ars Technica reviews Facebook’s new VR headset, with the headline, ‘We do not recommend the $299 Oculus Quest 2 as your next VR system‘:

The long-rumored (and recently leaked) Oculus Quest 2 is here, in my home, on my face. I received it earlier this month, along with news that this would be Oculus’s cheapest “all-in-one” VR system yet: starting at $299 and shipping on October 13.

That’s one hell of a price for cutting-edge VR. But it comes at a cost.

Part of that comes from Facebook’s aggressive policy about making Facebook social media accounts (whose terms of service revolve around a “real name” policy) mandatory to use new Oculus VR headsets, including the Quest 2. Let me be blunt: that is a terrible idea. Attachment of a social media account and its massive Web of personally identifying data (as accumulated by everything from service log-ins to average Web-browsing cookies) to computing hardware (VR headsets, phones, computers, TVs, etc) is quite frankly an irresponsible move on Facebook’s part.

If that’s the beginning and the end of this review for you, I do not blame you.

That really was the end of the review for me, although I skimmed further down and read Machkovech’s attempts to use a fake “burner” Facebook account. He writes that if you sign in and buy software with a fake account and the account is flagged, unless you can prove it’s under your real name, you’ll lose all of your purchased software. You can’t even side-load apps onto this thing without a Facebook account. What a killjoy.

There’s even “invisible moderators” tracking everything that happens within the VR spaces; if someone issues a report against another person, all recordings from in that space, including yours, even if you weren’t involved in the report, are sent to Facebook and stored forever. Gross.

That price point is really appealing, but these privacy issues are a bummer, and I can’t support a company actively involved in the continued ruination of our society.

Tatiana Maslany Cast as She-Hulk 9/17/2020

From Variety, ‘She-Hulk Disney Plus Series Casts Tatiana Maslany in Lead Role‘:

The series centers on lawyer Jennifer Walters (Maslany), cousin of Bruce Banner, who inherits his Hulk powers after she receives a blood transfusion from him. Unlike Bruce, however, when she hulks out Jennifer is able to retain most of her personality, intelligence, and emotional control.

What a great pick for She-Hulk.

How Apple Watch Measures Blood Oxygen 9/17/2020

Nicole Wetsman for The Verge, ‘Apple Watch’s blood oxygen monitor is for ‘wellness,’ not medicine‘:

Most oxygen sensors, including Apple’s, measure the amount of oxygen in your blood using light. These devices are called pulse oximeters, and they typically clip on to your fingertip. A standard version sends both red and infrared light through the finger, where there’s lots of blood close to the surface. A protein in the blood absorbs more infrared light when it has oxygen and more red light when it’s doesn’t. A sensor on the other side of the finger calculates how much of each type of light travels through, providing an oxygen reading.

Apple Watch measures light reflections, which can be less accurate with lower levels of blood oxygen. So Watch users should treat the readings as more of a curiosity than a medical diagnosis?

I really thought, when they were playing that intro video about the woman with diabetes, that Apple was announcing diabetes monitoring. For a lot of these specialized health issues, that Apple should offer more specialized devices that sync with the Watch or iPhone, like an insulin pump or a blood pressure cuff. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but neither is the HomePod, if we’re being honest.

CDC Director says face mask trumps vaccine, idiot president says dumb things 9/16/2020

From Axios:

CDC director Robert Redfield suggested in a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that face masks are “more guaranteed” to protect against the coronavirus than a vaccine, citing the potential for some people to not become immune to the virus after receiving the shot.

Redfield says in the video:

“I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine. Because the immunogenicity may be 70%, and if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This face mask will.”

Meanwhile, Trump is contradicting Redfield, suggesting that “he didn’t understand the question” and that a vaccine will be more effective. Except there are no vaccines today, but plenty of masks.

Why is Trump so anti-mask? Imagine visiting a dentist anytime prior to 2020 and the dentist doesn’t wear a mask while working on your teeth. You’d never go near that dentist office again! Probably a good idea not to re-elect this president, too.

Time Flies: New Watches and iPads, Apple One bundle, and Fitness+ 9/15/2020

The Verge has a recap of all of the major announcements from Apple’s Times Flies event today, including the new Apple Watch Series 6, the new iPads, and the new Apple One bundle with the new Fitness+.

Overall, a fairly low key, and unexciting event. I think a lot of this has to do with the regular, clock-like release schedule Apple has created for itself over the last fifteen years. It’s hard to be surprised by a clock. The release of so many products — especially products like an iPad, which when you look at it is just a big screen, or an Apple Watch, which is just a tiny screen — that are so commonplace — almost mundane — barely warrant a press release.

I think Apple still has a lot to surprise and delight us with; I just don’t think the iPad and Watch are the things to do it.

And I’ll admit: I wanted to see a new AirPod category, a smaller, cheaper Apple TV, a HomePod mini, and finally AirPower (it’ll happen, someday). The products I was ready to spend money on today never appeared.

Next month should get us the iPhone, possibly some of the above hardware, and maybe the first Apple silicon Mac. Maybe.

I am tempted to try that Fitness+, but I don’t own an Apple Watch, and I’m not sure I want to buy one just so I can jump around in front of my iPad. That, too, was a big let down, although in retrospect I should have expected a fitness service to require the Apple Watch.

But there was one huge surprise today that I don’t think anyone saw coming: iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are both releasing tomorrow.

Watch Certified Young Person Paul Rudd Rap About Face Masks to Millennials 9/15/2020

Paul is lit af. (via YouTube.)

Jessica is an Asshole 9/15/2020

Albert Burneko, with another good one from the new Defector, ‘Be On Time For Things‘:

Here’s something Jessica V. says in the Slate blog:

I have no need to try to be on time for most things. I embrace the orderlessness.

I want to leave room for the possibility that Jessica is being funny, here; that she is winking; that she is making a joke out of her tardiness by framing it as some kind of conscious life choice. The way that, when someone points out that you have a glob of food stuck to your chin, you might make a joke out of it by saying, “I’m saving that for later.” The alternative—the absolute only alternative—is that Jessica is an asshole. A shorter and infinitely more honest way for her to express the above sentiment would be to say “I am an asshole.”

One hundred percent agree.

Venus Might Contain Life, Keyword: Might 9/14/2020

The New York Times:

High in the toxic atmosphere of the planet Venus, astronomers on Earth have discovered signs of what might be life.

The astronomers, who reported the finding on Monday in a pair of papers, have not collected specimens of Venusian microbes, nor have they snapped any pictures of them. But with powerful telescopes, they have detected a chemical — phosphine — in the thick Venus atmosphere.

A huge discovery, if verified, but a lot of work remains. Best to be “appropriately cautious” here.

But a really beautiful photo of Venus at the top of the Time’s story.

US Customs Doubles Down on “Not an Apple” Seizure 9/14/2020

Chris Welch, following up on his report from last night:

In a statement to The Verge, a US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson has defended the agency’s seizure of 2,000 pairs of OnePlus Buds at JFK airport on August 31st. […]

“Upon examining the shipment in question, a CBP import specialist determined that the subject earbuds appeared to violate Apple’s configuration trademark. Apple has configuration trademarks on their brand of earbuds, and has recorded those trademarks with CBP,” the spokesperson said. Configuration trademarks cover the general appearance of a product, if you were wondering. “Based on that determination, CBP officers at JFK Airport have seized the shipment under 19 USC 1526 (e).”

As Welch points out in the article, cheap AirPod clones can be found in almost any store in the US, so what triggered the seizure of OnePlus’s buds?

That’s Not an 🍎 9/14/2020

Chris Welch for The Verge:

US Customs and Border Protection tonight tweeted that its officers had “recently seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong, valued at $398K had they been genuine.” There’s also this press release on the situation, which praises CBP officers for “protecting the American public from various dangers on a daily basis” and says that “the interception of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP officers daily.” 

The only problem is, based on the agency’s own photos, the seized products appear to be legitimate OnePlus Buds — transported in a box that plainly says as much.

Everyone’s having fun with this, including OnePlus.

We Should All Be Lucky Enough to Live in a Dome Home 9/13/2020

From Kelsey McKinney for the new Defector, writing on a dome home to give your life purpose:

The dome home is an absolute mess and I want it very badly. The whole thing is built like an angular, ugly, snowglobe. It is built atop a first floor made of concrete with eight sides as wide as they are high, like one of those mid-2000s bangles you bought at Forever 21. The dome part is made of triangles tilted together into a geometric turtle shell shape. Were it not covered in shingles, brown and flat like a pile of leaves, it would look like one of the playground structures a kid in my elementary school class fell off of and broke his arm. The windows are placed at uneven intervals and the railing on the porch is clearly much newer than the porch itself. There is one giant pentagon window, though, which seems to be convex and I imagine would cast rainbows on the ceiling of the dome in the late afternoons after it rains. 

Only $90k. A steal!

Daring Fireball Explains the ARM Sale 9/12/2020

With ARM Holdings close to being sold to Nvidia for $40 billion, you might be wondering why Apple never made a grab at it. After all, Apple and Nvidia aren’t on the best of terms, and Apple uses ARM in iPhones, iPads, and now Macs.

But Apple was never interested in buying ARM Holdings, and John Gruber at Daring Fireball explains why in a very clear and concise three sentences:

Apple’s chips do use the ARM64 instruction set, but I believe Apple already has a perpetual license for that. Apple does not license chips or chip designs from Arm — Apple’s chips are its own designs, which is why they offer performance unlike those of any other Arm licensee. This too is why Apple wasn’t interested in itself acquiring Arm Holdings: Arm’s business is about licensing technology to other companies; Apple’s business is about keeping its technology for itself.

Makes sense.

“This is deadly stuff” 9/10/2020

In a taped conversation with Bob Woodward, when he spoke to Trump on a February 7th phone call, Trump admitted to the deadliness of COVID-19:

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air.

Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said.

This, from the man who incites race riots, stokes fears of caravas of gangs entering the country, and encourages shootings and violence, but he doesn’t want to cause a panic. Yup, sure.

Bob Woodward’s book “Rage” is the #1 best seller on Amazon and is available for pre-order.

Microsoft Surface Duo Reviews 9/10/2020

The reviews are out for the new dual-screen Microsoft Surface Duo phone, and… they are dubious:

Dieter Bohn for The Verge:

There are more than enough problems here to keep me from recommending it.

Brain Heater for TechCrunch:

There are other pragmatic considerations with the design choices here. The book design means there’s no screen on the exterior. The glass and mirror Windows logo looks lovely, but there’s no easy way to preview notifications. 

Scott Stein for CNET:

The shift from single to dual screen hasn’t been magical at all. It’s been a struggle.

Julian Chokkattu for Wired:

The Duo is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855, the flagship chip that was in dozens of 2019 Android phones. I know it’s capable of offering a relatively smooth experience, so it’s clear the problems lie with software optimization.

Sam Rutherford for Gizmodo, and one of the most favorable reviews I read:

This Surface Duo is for people who have dreamed of having real multitasking on a phone, and are willing to put up with growing pains to experience that for themselves. […] Even with its flaws, the Surface Duo is already an incredibly powerful business phone. [But] there’s little excuse for a phone this expensive to have image quality this bad.

MKBHD on YouTube:

Practicality is clearly suffering to achieve this form factor.

This is incredibly disappointing. The consensus is clear: the Duo’s hardware is really impressive, but the software is a mess. I like The Verge’s wrap-up:

But like that first Surface, there are more than a few glimmers of vision and potential in the Surface Duo. Microsoft has the clearest, strongest vision for a new direction in mobile computing that I’ve seen this year, but picking a direction and getting to the destination are still two different things.

I think the real mistake Microsoft made with the Duo phone was trying to paste their dual-screen/multitasking hacks on top of Android. Yes, Android has an ecosystem of apps, but none of them are designed to work on a dual screen phone. And Android apps for tablets are terrible. If Microsoft is truly committed to this dual screen vision for the long-term, they should create a dual-screen OS based (lightly) on Windows. There’s no rush: They can limp along with Android for the Duo 2 or even the Duo 3, but if Microsoft is really, honestly, committed to a mobile device — and these days, you kind of have to be, right? — the Windows Duo OS needs to happen.

Defector 9/10/2020

Tom Ley for new sports and culture website Defector:

That’s the story of how we arrived at this point, but if you want to truly understand why we are doing this, you need to widen the scope a little bit. The full story is about more than just an irascible staff of writers reacting flippantly to a memo they didn’t like. It’s a story about what will and won’t be tolerated, both by those with the power to shape the present and future of the media industry, and by those who bear the consequences of how that power is wielded.

These were the people who quit Deadspin ten months back. I’m really happy to see that they’ve been able to create a site they own and are proud of.

Xbox Series X and S Launching November 10 9/10/2020

Kyle Orland for Ars Technica:

Microsoft has finally revealed a $499 “estimated retail price” for its top-end Xbox Series X. That system will launch alongside the $299 Xbox Series S on November 10, the company confirmed this morning.

Microsoft is also expanding its existing “All Access” subscription program to give customers access to its next-gen hardware with no upfront cost. Qualifying players who commit to a $25/month subscription for the Series S (or $35/month for the Series X) for two years get the console as well as access to all the games available on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (and its attendant xCloud streaming options).

I’m liking that All Access subscription; it makes the Xbox into an “impulse-buy” kind of console. I wonder if Sony has any response to this for the PS5.

Also, the size of that heat sink in the exploded graphic looks huge. Hard to say without a banana for scale, but it’ll be interesting to see the tear downs of this thing. But I love the design of both the X and S.

Microsoft is making it hard to say no to an Xbox.

Apple Face Mask 9/10/2020

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has developed masks that the company is beginning to distribute to corporate and retail employees to limit the spread of Covid-19. […]

The company, which confirmed the news, said it conducted careful research and testing to find the right materials to filter the air properly while not disrupting the supply of medical personal protective equipment. Apple will start sending the Apple Face Mask to staff over the next two weeks.

Not for sale to the public, except on eBay.

Wolfwalkers 9/8/2020

One of my favorite animation studios, Cartoon Saloon, the makers of The Secret of KellsSong of the Sea, and The Breadwinner, has a new animated feature coming to Apple TV+ later this year: Wolfwalkers.

From the synopsis:

In a time of superstition and magic, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn Goodfellowe, journeys to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last wolf pack. While exploring the forbidden lands outside the city walls, Robyn befriends a free-spirited girl, Mebh, a member of a mysterious tribe rumored to have the ability to transform into wolves by night. As they search for Mebh’s missing mother, Robyn uncovers a secret that draws her further into the enchanted world of the Wolfwalkers and risks turning into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.

The trailer for the film (via YouTube) is great.

Tenet Flops During Pandemic Theatrical Release 9/7/2020

Rebecca Rubin for Variety:

After months of delays, Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic “Tenet” finally arrived in U.S. theaters and generated $20.2 million over Labor Day weekend. Ticket sales, though difficult to dissect given the uncharted waters of the coronavirus era, are roughly in line with expectations for a new release during a pandemic.

Remember, Trolls World Tour made $100 million in three weeks in Premium VOD (online rentals) for Universal. And that was a movie that one wanted to see.

Robert Pattinson Tests Positive for COVID, The Batman Filming Delayed Again 9/3/2020

Vanity Fair:

Robert Pattinson is said to have tested positive for the coronavirus, causing filming of The Batman to be halted just days after the superhero drama resumed work at studios outside of London.

Warner Bros. would not comment on any individual worker’s health, sharing only this statement: “A member of The Batman production has tested positive for Covid-19, and is isolating in accordance with established protocols. Filming is temporarily paused.” Vanity Fair confirmed through a highly placed source that Pattinson was the individual who became sick.

Get well soon, Batman.

Mario Kart Live 9/3/2020

Nintendo announced a bunch of Mario-themed games for the 35th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros. today. One of the more incredible games that was announced was Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for the Nintendo Switch. In Home Circuit, you race an actual physical Mario-in-a-kart around your living room, while on your Switch screen is an AR view of the race, including the other virtual racers. I’ve been playing Mario Kart games all my life, but I never imaged this would be possible. This is a video (via YouTube.) you have to watch.

An Education in Gaming the Algorithm 9/2/2020

Monica Chin for The Verge:

Simmons watched [her son] Lazare complete more assignments. She looked at the correct answers, which [online education platform] Edgenuity revealed at the end. She surmised that Edgenuity’s AI was scanning for specific keywords that it expected to see in students’ answers. And she decided to game it.

Now, for every short-answer question, Lazare writes two long sentences followed by a disjointed list of keywords — anything that seems relevant to the question. “The questions are things like… ‘What was the advantage of Constantinople’s location for the power of the Byzantine empire,’” Simmons says. “So you go through, okay, what are the possible keywords that are associated with this? Wealth, caravan, ship, India, China, Middle East, he just threw all of those words in.” […]

Apparently, that “word salad” is enough to get a perfect grade on any short-answer question in an Edgenuity test.

I think I would have enjoyed taking exams back in high school if I’d be using something like Edgenuity. Being able to game the stupid AI for an easy grade? What’s not to love? I especially love that this kid’s mom is not only poking at this AI grading system, but also encouraging her son to poke at it and tweeting about it, too. 

But she’s also asking a valid point: Aside from the basic lesson that AI’s are still kind of dumb (Hey, Siri!) and easily hackable, what is her son learning in his history class? Trying to cram a bunch of ancient names and dates into a teenage brain doesn’t seem like a winning strategy. I mean, I probably had to actually memorize some of this Byzantine empire junk, but I honestly don’t know, as I can’t remember a single thing from my high school history classes. I can’t even remember the classes!

Ride & Learn on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway 9/2/2020

Disney Park’s Blog:

You hear that train whistle? Engineer Goofy is inviting you aboard Runnamuck Railroad for a magical experience in Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

This fun, family-friendly adventure opened earlier this year inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort – marking the first ride-through attraction in Disney history featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. In this new “Ride & Learn” video, step inside the park’s Chinese Theatre and into Mickey and Minnie’s cartoon world. With Goofy at the controls, what could possibly go wrong? 

This looks like a really fun ride. And these “ride & learn” videos are fun — you get to virtually ride the ride, and learn some neat facts along the way. And don’t forget — Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens at Disneyland in 2023!

Pizza Emoji’s 1st Anniversary 8/31/2020

Today is the one year anniversary of Pizza Emoji!

And what a year it’s been. I didn’t set out to start a blog six months before a worldwide pandemic, but here we are. If you’ve been a reader, thanks for reading! If this is your first visit, add a bookmark and come back soon.

I’ve had a lot of fun writing Pizza Emoji, working on the site design, and improving my linux server administration skill set. I’m looking forward to the next year of Pizza Emoji, because there’s so much left to do, like getting the RSS feed working!

Incredibly, Pizza Emoji doesn’t ask for your money, doesn’t track you and sell your data, and doesn’t run ads. I’m not sure what kind of business model that is, but it doesn’t seem like a very good one from my end. Maybe someday I’ll find a way to make money from writing, but not today. So instead, I thought maybe I could ask something of my Pizza Emoji readers. I promise it won’t cost you a dime and it might save someone’s life.

I think everyone wants to be a superhero. Super powers are cool, and when I see Spider-Man swinging around New York City in the comics and movies, that just looks like the best thing ever. Spidey and Co. are also out there saving lives, but you don’t need to be bitten by a radioactive spider to be a life saving super hero.

Every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, and every ten minutes, someone dies from a blood cancer. For many people with leukemia and lymphoma, getting a bone marrow donation from a compatible donor is their only cure.

Today, donating bone marrow is nearly painless, and the vast majority of donations are actually peripheral blood stem cells, which are donated by IV. The donor’s blood is pumped out one arm, passes through a machine that filters out the blood-forming cells, then pumps the blood back into the other arm. For actual surgical bone marrow donation, it’s a quick out-patient procedure that may leave a little bruising for a few days. But the biggest issue is finding a donor: if the donor’s family members aren’t a compatible match, doctor’s turn to “the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world,” Be the Match.

Be the Match works to find compatible bone marrow donors for patients diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. By becoming a donor, you’re literally saving someone’s life.

And like I said, there’s no cost to you: Be the Match pays for travel to the hospital, meals, and even a hotel if you need to travel out of town. But the absolute best part? That’s the life saving. Because if you are called to donate, it means you were matched with somebody suffering from a terrible illness. And all you have to do is give a little marrow to save their life. You know, super hero stuff.

If you’ve never signed up for Be the Match, it’s free and easy: they’ll send you a little swab kit, you swab your mouth, send it back, and they’ll do the rest. If you match with someone, they’ll let you know. They especially need people of color, so please consider signing up, and getting your friends and family to sign up, too. And should you ever decide to leave the registry, it’s an easy opt-out process.

And remember, the actual donation, should you be called, is nearly painless and often involves a few hours hooked up to an IV.

Even if you can’t donate marrow for whatever reason, but you’ve got some money, consider a financial donation. You’re still a hero in my comic book.

I signed up for Be the Match about a decade ago; I’ve never been called to donate marrow, but I’ve donated financially. And this isn’t one of those paid posts: I just wanted Pizza Emoji’s first anniversary to be a little special, and what’s more special than saving someone’s life?

I know, there are so many charities that need your help, but this is one of the few charities that you can make a donation to without spending a cent. Thousands of people of all ages, children, teenagers, and adults, are searching the registry everyday in the hope of finding a match. You could Be the Match they need to save their life.

Thanks for reading.

Olivia Wilde Directing Not-So-Secret Spider-Woman Film 8/30/2020

From Deadline:

Sony Pictures is not only growing its slate of its Universe of Marvel Characters but is building on the female characters at the center of it, and looks to have landed one of the most sought-after female directors in Hollywood. Sources tell Deadline that Olivia Wilde has closed a deal to direct and develop a secret Marvel film project revolving around a female character in the universe. While not confirmed, it is expected that the story will be centered on Spider-Woman.

This is last week’s news but I never posted about it. Spider-Woman is a safe but technically vague bet as to the identity of this character, especially considering Wilde’s spider emoji tweet. The real question is: which Spider-Woman? Jessica Drew and Gwen Stacy are the two most likely secret identities, with my money being on Gwen as Ghost-Spider. We’ll find out for sure in a couple of years.

Wilde, for her part, directed last year’s Booksmart. Go see it. Based on that movie, I can see her putting together a very human story of an awkward teenage superhero dealing with friend drama and supervillains.

And! Also from Deadline: ‘Captain Marvel 2: Candyman’s Nia DaCosta To Direct Sequel‘!

Vox: The Summer Without Blockbusters 8/30/2020

Alissa Wilkinson writing for Vox, ‘The summer without blockbusters’:

“We can all just sit here on Earth, wait for this big rock to crash into it, kill everything and everybody we know,” Bruce Willis’s Harry Stamper says to his fellow oil drillers in Armageddon. “United States government just asked us to save the world. Anybody want to say no?”

Sure, we nodded, back in 1998. Makes sense. The US government wants some ordinary guys to go into space and save the planet. The fictional version of the government had issued a similar call two years earlier, in 1996, when Independence Day’s President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) personally led a fighter jet attack on an alien saucer. And then again in 1997, when a pair of American secret agents dressed in black — one of whom was a former NYPD officer — saved the galaxy from another extraterrestrial threat.

Not so much in 2020. The very reason Americans — and the rest of the world — couldn’t go see any new blockbusters this summer has to do with American failure. And that failure spans all levels, from the White House to average citizens, in the face of a humanity-threatening virus. As the summer of 2020 has worn on, and other economies have warily but safely reopened around the world, the US has looked less and less like a leader and more and more like an ostrich with its head buried deep beneath the dusty ground.

And so, strangely, the dearth of Hollywood blockbusters in 2020 perfectly illustrates where the US stands in the world at the end of a long, maddening summer. Because it’s a story that’s not just about a commercial product that wasn’t shipped to customers at home and abroad; it’s a story about what the American blockbuster stands for, the myths it weaves, and the place in our collective cultural consciousness it occupies.

Chadwick Boseman Dies 8/28/2020

Variety, ‘Chadwick Boseman, ‘Black Panther’ Star, Dies at 43’:

Walt Disney Co. chairman Bob Iger said, “We are all heartbroken by the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman — an extraordinary talent, and one of the most gentle and giving souls I have ever met. He brought enormous strength, dignity and depth to his groundbreaking role of Black Panther; shattering myths and stereotypes, becoming a long-awaited hero to millions around the world, and inspiring us all to dream bigger and demand more than the status quo. We mourn all that he was, as well as everything he was destined to become. For his friends and millions of fans, his absence from the screen is only eclipsed by his absence from our lives. All of us at Disney send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family.”

Mark’s Mess 8/28/2020

Last week Facebook made the decision not to take action against the Kenosha Guard Facebook page, an illegal terrorist group in Wisconsin, which was issuing a “call to arms” against protestors upset over the shooting of Jacob Blake. But then two people were murdered by some dumb kid with an assault rifle who’s not old enough to vote, drive, gamble, enter a strip club, watch porn, rent a hotel room, rent a car, or enter a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant without an adult present, but can own and carry an assault rifle in the United States of America. But I digress.

After the shooting, Facebook eventually took the page and the accounts of these so-called militants (slash-terrorists) down, but the damage to the community and to Facebook was already done. According to a statement provided to The Verge, Facebook said they “have not found evidence on Facebook that suggests the shooter followed the Kenosha Guard Page or that he was invited on the Event Page they organized.”

But apparently some Facebook employees were less than happy with this explanation from Facebook, and called out CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a company wide meeting on Thursday. According to Ryan Mac at Buzzfeed:

Frustrated Facebook employees slammed CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday during a companywide meeting, questioning his leadership and decision-making, following a week in which the platform promoted violent conspiracy theories and gave safe harbor to militia groups. The billionaire chief executive was speaking via webcast at the company’s weekly all-hands meeting, attempting to address questions about violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the QAnon conspiracy that has proliferated across Facebook. […]

Zuckerberg said not taking down the page earlier was “An operational mistake”:

The company did not catch the page despite user reports, Zuckerberg said, because the complaints had been sent to content moderation contractors who were not versed in “how certain militias” operate. “On second review, doing it more sensitively, the team that was responsible for dangerous organizations recognized that this violated the policies and we took it down.”

Some employees didn’t find Zuckerberg’s answer very satisfying:

“We need to get better at avoiding mistakes and being more proactive,” one [Facebook employee] wrote. ”Feels like we’re caught in a cycle of responding to damage after it’s already been done rather than constructing mechanisms to nip these issues before they result in real harm.”

In a separate article on Buzzfeed, Mac and Pranav Dixit report on comments Zuckerberg made regarding Apple’s App Store:

“[Apple has] this unique stranglehold as a gatekeeper on what gets on phones,” Zuckerberg said to more than 50,000 employees via webcast. He added that the Cupertino, California–based company’s app store “blocks innovation, blocks competition” and “allows Apple to charge monopoly rents.”

I would honestly argue that Facebook has done more harm to technology and to the world at large more so than Apple’s gatekeeping of the App Store. Zuckerberg can call Apple out for being a bad gatekeeper all he wants; I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. But until Facebook can clean up their social network, remove the conspiracy theories and the misinformation and the calls for violence, I don’t think Zuckerberg has much of a leg to stand on.

Apple Terminates Epic’s App Store Account 8/28/2020

Filipe Espósito at 9to5Mac:

As previously warned by Apple, Epic’s App Store account has now been terminated due to the Fortnite developer knowingly violating App Store policy. Epic Games still had a few apps available for iOS aside from Fortnite, and they were all removed today.

Apple’s full statement:

We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s response:

Apple’s statement isn’t forthright. They chose to terminate Epics account; they didn’t *have* to.

Apple suggests we spammed the App Store review process. That’s not so. Epic submitted three Fortnite builds: two bug-fix updates, and the Season 4 update with this note.

The note says:

Fortnite build v14.0 with the new Season 4 has been uploaded though App Store Connect.
This build continues to offer customers the choice of in-app purchases through either Apple’s payment solution or through Epic direct payment. Epic is submitting this version in case Apple wishes to restore Fortnite to the App Store in time for Season 4 launch.

This is like someone walking into your home, they steal your stuff and kick your dog, and then say, “You didn’t *have* to call the cops!” Epic has clearly violated App Store policy, knowingly and repeatedly.

Epic didn’t *have* to submit a build of Fortnite that broke Apple’s rules. Apple didn’t *have* to charge a 30% fee on in-app purchases. Epic didn’t *have* to agree to Apple’s App Store terms. This is just stupid whinny bullshit from a CEO — and it’s embarrassing.

Rooting for the users 8/27/2020

Jason Snell at MacWord, ‘Epic versus Apple? I’m rooting for the users‘:

So what should happen? I guess it depends on what side you’re on. I’d like Apple to loosen up on its App Store restrictions, without sacrificing security and safety. I’d like Apple to let reputable companies process payments for digital goods directly, but I don’t want to pause every time an app asks me for money in fear that it’s a scam.

Above all else, I think that Apple has brought this scrutiny upon itself by failing to adapt to the times. When the App Store was formed, Apple was a much smaller company and the iPhone only had the beginnings of being a hit. Now Apple is a behemoth and the iPhone is one of the most popular products of our lifetimes, but sometimes it acts as if it’s a scrappy upstart that desperately needs to hold on to as much money and control as it possibly can. In 2008, its policies seemed straightforward and even innovative—and in 2020 those same policies seem cruel and tone-deaf and even greedy. […]

But just as Apple’s status quo isn’t necessarily great for users, an Epic victory wouldn’t necessarily be one, either. If a court opens holes in the App Store and prevents Apple from closing them, it might cause positive change and unfortunate side effects.

Whatever happens here, it should be the users that win. I’m not sure what that win looks like exactly, but Snell’s crystal ball says, “Easier, Better, Safer, and Secure,” and I like that win a lot.

Idiots Going to the Movies 8/26/2020

Manori Ravindran for Variety, ‘’We’ll Do Anything to See ‘Tenet”: Meet the Fans Taking Flights for Christopher Nolan’s Latest’:

Though 65% of cinemas across the globe are now open, according to Gower Street Analytics, some international fans keen to see rare 70MM IMAX screenings of the film, and Americans in states with shuttered movie theaters […] are willing to cross state and country lines to be among the first to see “Tenet” on the big screen. […]

Another Los Angeles-based fan set to take flight for “Tenet,” who spoke to Variety on the condition of anonymity, likens the experience to “Star Wars” fans camping out for tickets, or Apple users queueing for new iPhones. “It’s stupid, yes,” says the 30-year-old university administrator who’s flying to Salt Lake City over a long weekend, “but it’s something I’m interested in.”

Except those camping out for Star Wars tickets or new iPhones weren’t doing it during a deadly pandemic. I’ve stood in long lines at Disneyland because that’s something I’m interested in; the difference is this anonymous idiot is risking the continued spread of this life-threatening disease at a time when a thousand Americans are dying every day.

Chris Nolan should be asshamed of himself for encouraging this behavior.

Kevin Mayer calls it quits 8/26/2020

Rita Liao at TechCrunch:

Kevin Mayer, the chief executive of TikTok, announced on Wednesday that he is resigning, just over 100 days after the former Disney executive joined the world’s largest short video app in mid-May. […]

“We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin’s role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision. We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well,” said a TikTok spokesperson in a statement to TechCrunch.

The New York Times reported earlier that Mayer announced his decision in a note to employees as TikTok came under pressure from the Trump administration over its links to China. Mayer “did not anticipate the extent to which TikTok would become involved in tensions between China and the U.S.,” sources told the Financial Times, and the executive “didn’t sign up for this.”

Mayer was the former Disney exec who helped make acquisitions like Marvel and FOX happen, and was heavily involved with the launch of Disney+. He came to TikTok with the intention of selling the government on the idea of TikTok and easing tensions between the two; I can’t imagine he was thrilled with the possibility of either A) having his company banned from the US or B) working for Microsoft. But Mayer won’t have any issues finding another role, he’s a very smart and well liked guy.

Facebook whines that it can’t spy on iOS 14 users anymore 8/26/2020

Facebook:

Today, Facebook shared how we’re addressing Apple iOS 14 changes, which includes not collecting the identifier for advertisers (IDFA) on our own apps on iOS 14 devices. This is not a change we want to make, but unfortunately Apple’s updates to iOS14 \[sic] have forced this decision. We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14, and, despite our best efforts, may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future.

Translation: “For years we’ve been abusing the privacy of our products [the Facebook users], but Apple’s new iOS 14 updates protects user privacy so well that, despite our best efforts to sneak around Apple’s protections, we may be unable to continue this abuse of our products [the Facebook users] in the future.”

UpdateArs Technica has lots more details on tbe changes to iOS 14 that are upsetting Facebook and how Facebook has abused their products [the Facebook users] in the past.

Here, Facebook, is the world’s smallest violin. Do you hear it?