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The Bigs Are Starting to Accept the Unimaginable – Talking Points Memo
Josh Marshall, writing at TPM:

Sometimes it’s specific, some kind of corrupt alliance; other times it’s amorphous, some kind of inexplicable hold Putin has over Trump by force of personality. But the kind of people who never said this kind of thing are saying it now. Somehow the President is compromised. Putin has something on him; or he has tempted his avarice with something. But there’s simply no innocent explanation for what we’re seeing.

That’s the shift. The Monday press conference made cautious, prominent people start to come to grips with the reality that Donald Trump, as crazy as it sounds and as difficult as it may be to believe, is under some kind of influence or control by a foreign adversary power, whether by fear or avarice or some other factor.

As yet, there’s little difference of behavior from elected Republicans. And I don’t expect any. What veteran foreign policy or diplomatic hands say on CNN is not the most important thing. But I think they are indicators of a change, a change of perception I expect is occurring among many who can’t yet speak.

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1 hour ago by rufous
'Fortnite: Battle Royale' Has Made Over $1 Billion As It Completely Dominates Video Game Streaming
Erik Kain, writing for Forbes:

Epic Games continues to dazzle the world of video games with the runaway success of the company’s free-to-play game Fortnite: Battle Royale. According to a new report from research firm SuperData, the game has now made over $1 billion since its release in October, 2017.

That’s roughly on par with a blockbuster movie like The Last Jedi. And remember, Fortnite is free-to-win: you can download and play completely free of charge and be at no disadvantage. Epic makes money only from selling cosmetic features like player skins and (I swear) dance moves. It’s fun and fair to play for free, and they charge money to make it a little more fun while keeping it fair for all.

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1 hour ago by rufous
MacBook Pro 2018 : Apple reconnaît en interne le vrai rôle du clavier modifié | MacGeneration
Interesting find by French site MacGeneration. Here’s the article in English, via Google Translate. (Side note: holy shit is Google Translate getting good — this still isn’t quite natural, but there are entire sentences with complex structure and punctuation that read perfectly.)

Here’s the relevant passage from the Apple service document MacGeneration obtained, which was in English:

Keyboard and Keycaps

The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. The procedure for the replacement has also changed from the previous model. Repair documentation and service videos will be available when keycaps parts begin shipping.

This is what I thought all along: the new third-generation keyboard was designed to better in every way, quieter and more durable, but Apple, for legal and/or marketing reasons, has decided only to tout that the new design is quieter.

For what it’s worth, I’ve heard from a little birdie or two that my take is correct. Whether this design does make the keyboards more durable and reliable, only time and real-world use will tell. But they were designed to be.

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2 hours ago by rufous
Twitter
What a great hire for Apple. Serenity is one of the best writers on the Apple beat, with such a distinctive style, and she has gone from good to great as a podcaster. Lucky for me, she was just on my show just a few weeks ago. Will be a while before she is again (probably?).

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3 hours ago by rufous
iOS 12 developer beta 4 requires device to be unlocked before connecting any USB accessories
Andrew O’Hara, AppleInsider:

The change in the latest beta of iOS 12 is building on USB Restricted Mode which disables the Lightning port of an iOS device one hour after last being unlocked. The Lightning port could still be used for charging, but no accessories would be able to function until unlocked.

In the fourth developer beta of iOS 12, a passcode is required any time a computer or USB accessory is connected.

Before the change, authorities or criminals would have an hour since last unlock to connect a cracking device, like the GreyKey box. Now, they don’t have that hour, making it that much more difficult to brute force a password attempt into a device.

So much for this loophole being hard for Apple to close.

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23 hours ago by rufous
Mark Zuckerberg: The Recode interview - Recode
From a 90-minute podcast interview:

> **Zuckerberg:** Let me give you an example of where we would take > it down. In Myanmar or Sri Lanka, where there’s a history of > sectarian violence, similar to the tradition in the U.S. where you > can’t go into a movie theater and yell “Fire!” because that > creates an imminent harm. > > The principles that we have on what we remove from the service > are: If it’s going to result in real harm, real physical harm, or > if you’re attacking individuals, then that content shouldn’t be on > the platform. There’s a lot of categories of that that we can get > into, but then there’s broad debate. > > **Swisher:** Okay. “Sandy Hook didn’t happen” is not a debate. It > is false. You can’t just take that down? > > **Zuckerberg:** I agree that it is false. > > I also think that going to someone who is a victim of Sandy Hook > and telling them, “Hey, no, you’re a liar” — that is harassment, > and we actually will take that down. But overall, let’s take this > whole closer to home… > > I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the > Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end > of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that > down because I think there are things that different people get > wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong, > but I think— > > **Swisher:** In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be, > but go ahead. > > **Zuckerberg:** It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the > intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, > I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak > publicly. I’m sure you do. I’m sure a lot of leaders and public > figures we respect do too, and I just don’t think that it is the > right thing to say, “We’re going to take someone off the platform > if they get things wrong, even multiple times.”

I’m sorry, but it is not hard at all to impugn the intent of Holocaust or Sandy Hook deniers. Not hard at all. The idea that these people are wrong but are making honest mistakes in good faith is nonsense. Facebook’s stance on this is genuinely detrimental to society. They’re offering a powerful platform that reaches the entire world to lunatics who previously were relegated to handing out mimeographs while spouting through a megaphone on a street corner.

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yesterday by rufous
Undercover Facebook moderator was instructed not to remove fringe groups or hate speech - The Verge
Nick Statt, writing for The Verge:

The undercover journalist detailed his findings in a new documentary titled Inside Facebook: Secrets of the Social Network, that just aired on the UK’s Channel 4. The investigation outlines questionable practices on behalf of CPL Resources, a third-party content moderator firm based in Dublin, Ireland that Facebook has worked with since 2010.

Those questionable practices primarily involve a hands-off approach to flagged and reported content like graphic violence, hate speech, and racist and other bigoted rhetoric from far-right groups. The undercover reporter says he was also instructed to ignore users who looked as if they were under 13 years of age, which is the minimum age requirement to sign up for Facebook in accordance with the Child Online Protection Act, a 1998 privacy law passed in the US designed to protect young children from exploitation and harmful and violent content on the internet. The documentary insinuates that Facebook takes a hands-off approach to such content, including blatantly false stories parading as truth, because it engages users for longer and drives up advertising revenue.

Shocker.

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yesterday by rufous
European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Antitrust: Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google's search engine
European Commission press release:

The European Commission has fined Google €4.34 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search.

That’s the largest fine in EU antitrust history.

In particular, Google:

has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google’s app store (the Play Store);

made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and

has prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google (so-called “Android forks”).

My first take on this is that Google ought to be able to do these things. I largely disagreed with the US antitrust case against Microsoft back in the ’90s too, and in broad strokes the charges are remarkably similar. Bundling IE with Windows and declaring the browser to be part of the OS was a big part of that case. I think it’s right that a modern OS has a built-in system browser.

What gets me, though, is Google’s decade-long hypocrisy about Android being “open”. What a pile of horseshit.

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yesterday by rufous
James Bond™ Aston Martin DB5 - 10262 | Creator Expert | LEGO Shop
Among other gadgetry, it sports revolving number plates, retractable machine guns, and even a working ejector seat.

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yesterday by rufous
Amazon continues to profit from the sale of white-supremacist propaganda, report says - The Washington Post
Tracy Jan, reporting earlier this month for The Washington Post:

Shoppers can purchase Amazon.com merchandise displaying symbols of white supremacy, such as a swastika necklace, a baby onesie with a burning cross, and a child’s backpack featuring a neo-Nazi meme, all in contradiction of the retail giant’s policy against selling products that promote hatred, according to a new report from two watchdog groups.

Trump argues that The Washington Post is, under Jeff Bezos’s ownership, a propaganda mouthpiece for Amazon. It simply doesn’t register with Trump that Bezos would even consider allowing the Post to remain utterly editorially independent.

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yesterday by rufous
Uber executive Hornsey resigns in email to staff following discrimination probe | Reuters
Salvador Rodriguez, reporting last week for Reuters:

Uber Technologies Inc’s Chief People Officer Liane Hornsey resigned in an email to staff on Tuesday, following an investigation into how she handled allegations of racial discrimination at the ride-hailing firm. […]

They alleged Hornsey had used discriminatory language and made derogatory comments about Uber Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Bernard Coleman, and had denigrated and threatened former Uber executive Bozoma Saint John, who left the company in June.

“This person ultimately was the reason behind (Saint John’s) departure from Uber,” the anonymous employees said in an email, referring to Hornsey.

Saint John joined Uber from Apple Inc in June, 2017 but left only a year later to join Endeavor, the parent company of several talent agencies. She declined to comment, telling Reuters by phone: “I don’t have anything to say about my experience there.”

I thought it was curious when Saint John left Uber after just one year. Uber’s company culture remains disgraceful.

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2 days ago by rufous
Steve Jobs told Rupert Murdoch Fox News is an “incredibly destructive force” | 9to5Mac
Steve Jobs, in a 2010 conversation with Rupert Murdoch, in which Jobs told Murdoch he was “blowing it with Fox News”:

“The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people. Fox has become an incredibly destructive force in our society. You can be better, and this is going to be your legacy if you’re not careful.”

I thought this was interesting in light of my comments yesterday regarding the power that Murdoch, by way of Fox News, holds over Donald Trump’s presidency.

This line from Jobs — “The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive” — is truly the best summary of Trumpism I’ve seen. Trump supporters aren’t conservatives, they just want to see the liberal world order burn down.

(Thanks to Chloe Deguzman.)

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2 days ago by rufous
Michael Tsai - Blog - macOS 10.14 Mojave Removes Subpixel Anti-aliasing
I was a huge fan of sub-pixel anti-aliasing back in the day (and in fact still have it enabled on 10.13), but it matters far more on non-retina displays than retina ones. I think it’s proper for Apple to focus on retina displays — and iOS has never supported sub-pixel anti-aliasing, which I can only guess factored into this decision with the introduction of UIKit apps running on MacOS — but they’re still selling the non-retina MacBook Air. I won’t issue a final judgment until Mojave actually ships, but I suspect most Air users are going to think this makes text look blurrier.

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2 days ago by rufous
The Great Apple MacBook Pro Cover Up | iFixit
Sam Lionhart, writing for iFixit:

Here’s an inflammatory take for you: Apple’s new quieter keyboard is actually a silent scheme to fix their keyboard reliability issues. We’re in the middle of tearing down the newest MacBook Pro, but we’re too excited to hold this particular bit of news back:

Apple has cocooned their butterfly switches in a thin, silicone barrier.

I think it’s a stretch to call this a “cover-up” or “inflammatory”, but it certainly gives credence to the theory that improved reliability was in fact a major design goal for this keyboard.

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2 days ago by rufous
Michael Tsai - Blog - Supporting This Site
Michael Tsai:

I’ve been told this is overdue, but I’d like to ask you to help support this site financially. This is optional. I’m not creating a paywall, and I don’t want you to feel guilty if you aren’t able to help. But if you enjoy what I’m doing here, please consider joining via Patreon.

To be clear, I see this site as a labor of love. I’m not interested in making it more commercial or in giving up software development. I would like to keep it going more or less as it’s been: a personal site with a regular posting schedule. However, the writing does consume a substantial amount of my time, and I’m hoping that patronage will help me to justify that.

Tsai has long been one of my favorite bloggers and Mac developers. I conducted a long interview with Tsai back in 2003 — still an interesting read today. His blog is simply great, period — just look at how many great links are on his homepage right now — but where he truly stands apart are the times he assembles links to commentary from dozens of people on complex stories. Here’s a great example from last week on the updated MacBook Pros. I’m happy to support his continuing work.

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2 days ago by rufous
Do you really need to properly eject a USB drive before yanking it out? | Popular Science
Rob Verger, writing for Popular Science:

Pull a USB flash drive out of your Mac without first clicking to eject it, and you’ll get a stern, shameful warning: “Disk Not Ejected Properly.”

But do you really need to eject a thumb drive the right way?

Probably not. Just wait for it to finish copying your data, give it a few seconds, then yank. To be on the cautious side, be more conservative with external hard drives, especially the old ones that actually spin.

That’s not the official procedure, nor the most conservative approach. And in a worst-case scenario, you risk corrupting a file or — even more unlikely — the entire storage device.

This is terrible advice. It’s akin to saying you probably don’t need to wear a seat belt because it’s unlikely anything bad will happen. Imagine a few dozen people saying they drive without a seat belt every day and nothing’s ever gone wrong, so it must be OK. (The breakdown in this analogy is that with seat belts, you know instantly when you need to be wearing one. With USB drives, you might not discover for months or years that you’ve got a corrupt file that was only partially written to disk when you yanked the drive.)

I see a bunch of “just pull out the drive and not worry about it” Mac users on Twitter celebrating this article, and I don’t get it. On the Mac you have to do something on screen when you eject a drive. Either you properly eject it before unplugging the drive — one click in the Finder sidebar — or you need to dismiss the alert you’ll get about having removed a drive that wasn’t properly ejected. Why not take the course of action that guarantees data integrity?

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2 days ago by rufous
Apple, Google cashed in on Pizzagate-offshoot conspiracy app
NBC News:

An app promoting a conspiracy theory featuring Hillary Clinton and a child sex ring lingered at the top of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store for months, with both tech giants receiving a cut of the revenue in the process.

The app, called “QDrops,” sends alerts about a conspiracy theory called Qanon, an offshoot of the “pizzagate” fiction that claimed Clinton was running a child sex trafficking ring out of the basement of a Washington pizza shop that didn’t even have a basement. Like many conspiracy theories, Qanon got its start on 4chan, an anonymous posting site that is a seedbed for extreme thought and a large number of online subcultures.

Apple removed the QDrops app from its app store on Sunday after inquiries from NBC News.

There’s a fine line between “right-wing news” and “dangerous conspiracies”, but App Store reviewers are there to make those calls. This is not a good look for Apple.

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2 days ago by rufous
Apple celebrates World Emoji Day - Apple
Apple Newsroom:

More than 70 new emoji characters are coming to iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac later this year in a free software update. The new emoji designs, created based on approved characters in Unicode 11.0, include even more hair options to better represent people with red hair, gray hair and curly hair, a new emoji for bald people, and new smiley faces that bring more expression to Messages with a cold face, party face, pleading face and a face with hearts.

Apple is having some fun with their executive bio page too.

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2 days ago by rufous
The Worst Case Scenario Has Been Obvious for a While – Talking Points Memo
Josh Marshall, writing at TPM:

There is no reasonable explanation for the simple facts we see other than that Russia has some kind of hold over President Trump.

I know that sounds wild and I have a very hard time sometimes quite believing it myself. But it’s so overwhelmingly obvious that we need to get real with ourselves and recognize what is happening. I don’t know what the specific details are. I don’t know whether Russia has some compromising information on the President, whether they have enticed him with personal enrichment. I truly don’t know. But none of the standard explanations — truculence, trolling, anger over questioning the legitimacy of his election — none of them remotely add up as an explanation. In the future, when we know more details, we will have a difficult time explaining how any serious people continued to think there could be an innocent explanation.

I don’t think it’s the infamous pee tape because even if real, the pee tape might not sink Trump. I think it’s money — that Trump’s entire company, and therefore his personal wealth, is held afloat entirely by Russian money and Putin could pull the plug on it with a snap of his fingers. But whatever it is, it seems clear there’s something they’ve got on him.

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2 days ago by rufous
Fox Host Calls Trump’s Presser Performance ‘Disgusting,’ ‘Wrong’ – Talking Points Memo
TPM:

During his Fox Business Network show Monday, host Neil Cavuto called President Donald Trump’s failure to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Russian interference in the 2016 election “disgusting,” saying that the presser “set us back a lot.”

“That made it disgusting. That made his performance disgusting,” Cavuto said of Trump’s refusal to even criticize the Russian President. “Only way I feel. Not a right or left thing to me. It is wrong.”

I’ve been thinking for a few months now that the most powerful person in the world isn’t Trump or Putin but Rupert Murdoch. If Fox News turned against Trump — not against Republicans, not against conservatives, but only against Trump and his family — it would sink Trump’s presidency within months. Politically, Trump couldn’t breathe without the support of Fox News. Rupert Murdoch could make that happen.

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2 days ago by rufous

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