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Google EU fine: investors not worried
Sara Salinas, reporting for CNBC:

Google was hit with another fine from EU antitrust regulators Wednesday, and investors didn’t bat an eye.

The stock rose 2 percent by the end of trading, outpacing Apple and Microsoft for the day and adding nearly $17 billion to the company’s market value. Google was fined about one-tenth of that amount by the European Commission on Competition early Wednesday.

Investors don’t care about cash, they only care about future growth. Fines like just don’t matter to Google or Facebook. Write a check, stay the course.

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14 hours ago by rufous
Apple to Release AirPods With New Coating and Black Color in the Spring - MacRumors
MacRumors, a month ago: “Apple to Release AirPods With New Coating and Black Color in the Spring”:

Apple is planning to release AirPods that feature a new surface coating, wireless charging, and a black color option, according to a report from Taiwanese Economic Daily News.

There are no black AirPods, and there is no new coating or texture. MacRumors is a great publication, but I don’t get why they run headlines that report rumors as facts.

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15 hours ago by rufous
AirPods, the world’s most popular wireless headphones, are getting even better - Apple
Apple Newsroom:

The new Apple-designed H1 chip features custom audio architecture to create a revolutionary audio experience and improved synchronization. H1 allows AirPods to deliver up to 50 percent more talk time compared to first generation AirPods. Switching between devices while listening to music on iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad is more seamless than ever with two times faster connect times. For the first time, AirPods now feature the convenience of “Hey Siri” making it easier to change songs, make a call, adjust the volume or get directions simply by saying, “Hey Siri.”

Curious why it’s the H1 and not the W2.

The new AirPods are $160 with a Lightning case, and $200 with a case that charges via either Qi-compatible charging pads or Lightning. That inductive charging case is available by itself for $80 and works with first-generation AirPods.

They require MacOS 10.14.4 and iOS 12.2, both of which are still in beta. Presumably this means the release versions will come out Monday.

Sure would be neat if there were a single charging pad you could buy to charge your iPhone, AirPods and even Apple Watch all at once.

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16 hours ago by rufous
Stadia: a new way to play
Phil Harrison, vice president and GM of Google Stadia:

Using our globally connected network of Google data centers, Stadia will free players from the limitations of traditional consoles and PCs.

When players use Stadia, they’ll be able to access their games at all times, and on virtually any screen. And developers will have access to nearly unlimited resources to create the games they’ve always dreamed of. It’s a powerful hardware stack combining server class GPU, CPU, memory and storage, and with the power of Google’s data center infrastructure, Stadia can evolve as quickly as the imagination of game creators.

They have a custom game controller too, which from the outside looks a lot like a Sony Dualshock. The innovation is that the controller isn’t a peripheral to a local device — it connects by Wi-Fi to the Stadia cloud.

Streaming high-performance games over the internet sounds like something that could never compete with a local device, but no less an authority than John Carmack vouches for it in principle.

It’s worth pointing out too that this is a very Google-like strategy, where your device doesn’t really matter, only the cloud service.

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yesterday by rufous
The first iPhone prototype: an exclusive look at Apple’s red M68 - The Verge
A fascinating bit of computing history. I sure am curious about the person who owns this, though — seems like it would be a hard thing for most engineers to walk out of the building with.

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yesterday by rufous
Today is iMac day: Apple announces new models with faster processors and graphics - Six Colors
Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

What this means is that these new iMacs have closed a bit of the gap between the highest-end iMac and the lowest-end iMac Pro. You’ll need to pay extra in configurable options, but the highest-end eight-core iMac should creep close to iMac Pro territory in terms of processor and graphics performance.

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yesterday by rufous
iMac gets a 2x performance boost - Apple
Nothing radical here — no T2 chip or anything that makes them *look new. Just faster CPUs from Intel and faster GPUs (including Vega options) from Radeon. This is an industrial design that deserves to last years. The displays don’t need to be improved. These speed bumps are just what the doctor ordered.

If there’s one disappointment for me with these updated iMacs, it’s that the low-end configurations still ship with spinning hard drives — either as the sole storage device or as part of a Fusion drive. I get it — SSDs cost a lot more than hard drives. But SSDs are just so much better in every regard other than price. I think this decision goes hand-in-hand with the lack of a T2 subsystem, though — no iOS device has ever shipped with support for hard drives. The iMac Pro can have a T2 because the iMac Pro is SSD only, so the T2 can depend on solid state storage for its boot partition. I’d wager heavily that non-Pro iMacs won’t get T-whatever security subsystems until they go SSD-only.

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yesterday by rufous
Daring Fireball: Apple Releases New A12-Based iPad Air and iPad Mini
The best way to think of today’s new iPads is not as an updated iPad Air and updated iPad Mini. The new iPad Air isn’t based on the old iPad Air — it’s an update to the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. (It even works with the same cover and keyboard peripherals.) And the new Mini is really just a smaller version of the new iPad Air — they could have just called them both “iPad Air” and had one be mini-sized and one regular-sized, similar to how the two sizes of iPad Pro have the same product name. As far as I can see, there is no difference between the new iPad Air and iPad Mini other than size.

When it debuted in 2012, the iPad Mini was both the small iPad and the low-cost iPad. Today, the low-cost iPad is the $329 9.7-inch just-plain no-adjective iPad. The new iPad Mini is a full-fledged peer to the new iPad Air technically. It’s all about the size. (And there are no old iPad Minis hanging around in the product lineup at lower prices.)

Looking at tweets and reader emails today, it seems like the most confusing thing about these iPads is why they use the original Apple Pencil instead of the new Apple Pencil 2. It’s obviously not ideal, but I suspect the explanation is multi-factor:

The Pencil 2 requires an iPad with flat sides for the magnetic charging and pairing.

The flat sides of the newest iPad Pros go hand-in-hand, design-wise, with the edge-to-edge (or “edge-to-edge” if you prefer) round-corned displays, and Face ID instead of Touch ID. Those things all add to the price of iPad Pros.

In theory Apple could have given these new iPads flat sides just to support the new Pencil, sticking with the square-cornered display, larger chin and forehead, and Touch ID — but that’s not how Apple rolls. Such design elements are integrated with the whole.

If Apple had wanted the new Pencil 2 to work on all new iPads, they would’ve had to put a Lightning plug on the new Pencil in addition to supporting conductive charging and pairing. But that’s really not how Apple rolls — that would have ruined one of the things that makes the new Pencil so much nicer than the old Pencil. Better to have a messy product lineup where some new iPads only support the new Pencil and others only support the old Pencil than to have a messy new Pencil.
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2 days ago by rufous
Don’t write code.Blow clients’ minds with GravityView. - GravityView
Use WordPress? GravityView is the solution your WordPress clients need.

Your clients have custom workflows and the need to manage form submissions. GravityView makes this easy.

“If you are trying to create a custom feature on your site, there is no better plugin than GravityView. The versatility of the plugin and the patient support by the team made it possible for me to realize my project.”
- CoffeeAutonomy Brewers’ Club

Your clients will buy you a drink after you show them GravityView’s impressive functionality.

“We have become innovators in our field since utilizing GravityView…this was the best investment we made when starting our business.”
- Collin Hackett, Hackett Funeral Homes

Even better? GravityView comes bundled with the best WordPress form plugin, Gravity Forms — just for DF readers.

Try GravityView risk-free, and start impressing your clients today

PS: Check out GravityView’s music video — it’s by Jonathan Mann, the guy who did the ATP theme song. It’s amazing.

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2 days ago by rufous
Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system | The Seattle Times
Dominic Gates, reporting for The Seattle Times:

As Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.

But the original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA for a new flight control system on the MAX — a report used to certify the plane as safe to fly — had several crucial flaws.

Absolutely scathing. The Seattle Times contacted both the FAA and Boeing with details of its reporting four days before the crash in Ethiopia.

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2 days ago by rufous
Accidental Tech Podcast: 317: We’re Customers Too
Terrific interview, including a hilarious anecdote about Schiller’s on-stage stunt at Macworld Expo in New York in 1999.

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2 days ago by rufous
The Talk Show ✪: Ep. 246, With Special Guest Matthew Panzarino
Matthew “Hondo” Panzarino returns to the show. Topics include WWDC 2019, the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, Apple and privacy, the Boeing 737 Max, and Disney’s upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy Edge theme park lands.

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4 days ago by rufous
Two-thirds of all Android antivirus apps are frauds | ZDNet
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for ZDNet’s Zero Day:

An organization specialized in testing antivirus products concluded in a report published this week that roughly two-thirds of all Android antivirus apps are a sham and don’t work as advertised.

The report, published by Austrian antivirus testing outfit AV-Comparatives, was the result of a grueling testing process that took place in January this year and during which the organization’s staff looked at 250 Android antivirus apps available on the official Google Play Store.

How many do-nothing “antivirus” apps are in the iOS (and Mac) App Store though? Seriously — search for “antivirus” in the iOS App Store and look at the results. All sorts of “cleaners” and “security” apps that are placebos at best, and who knows what (especially if they offer VPNs) at worst. Some of them actually claim to be “antivirus” — especially on the Mac App Store. How would that actually work given App Store sandboxing rules?

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5 days ago by rufous
www.washingtonpost.com
Anthony Faiola, writing for The Washington Post:

Around the globe, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for decades represented the gold standard for air safety — a regulator whose decisions, particularly on American-made aircraft, boosted the confidence of plane travelers in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, as well as London, Rio de Janeiro and Beijing.

Yet since Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash shortly after takeoff — the second 737 Max to go down in less than five months — foreign observers have watched Washington’s handling of the crisis with mounting alarm. Critics at home and abroad are blaming, at best, erratic decision-making and, at worst, domestic commercial interests, for what many of them decry as a flawed U.S. reaction. […]

The outcome, critics say, has undermined American credibility as the pacesetter for global aircraft standards, while potentially ushering in an era in which international regulators — particularly those in China and Europe — assert growing clout. The global response now stands in contrast to 2013, when foreign aviation authorities largely followed the U.S. lead in dealing with a rash of battery problems that led to the temporary grounding of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Keep in mind that the FAA hasn’t had a commissioner for over a year, after Trump nominated his own personal private jet pilot for the role and the Senate rightly laughed at the notion. This is a real-world consequence of Trump’s — and his supporters’ — rejection of the notion of expertise and the importance of staffing the federal government with experts.

For all his bluster to the contrary, Trump is ceding global leadership to China and the EU.

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5 days ago by rufous
Bloomberg - Are you a robot?
Sarah Frier, in a cover story for Bloomberg Businessweek*:

Unfortunately, the reporting system they described, which relies on low-wage human moderators and software, remains slow and under-resourced. Facebook could afford to pay its moderators more money, or hire more of them, or place much more stringent rules on what users can post — but any of those things would hurt the company’s profits and revenue. Instead, it’s adopted a reactive posture, attempting to make rules after problems have appeared. The rules are helping, but critics say Facebook needs to be much more proactive.

“The whole concept that you’re going to find things and fix them after they’ve gone into the system is flawed — it’s mathematically impossible,” says Roger McNamee, one of Facebook’s early investors and, now, its loudest critic. McNamee, who recently published a book titled Zucked, argues that because the company’s ability to offer personalized advertising is dependent on collecting and processing huge quantities of user data, it has a strong disincentive to limit questionable content. “The way they’re looking at this, it’s just to avoid fixing problems inherent with the business model,” he says.

I absolutely love the magazine cover. I despise the custom text selection color they’ve chosen for the article on the website, which is — I swear — only 10 percent lighter than the pure black background.

* Bloomberg, of course, is the publication that published “The Big Hack” in October — a sensational story alleging that data centers of Apple, Amazon, and dozens of other companies were compromised by China’s intelligence services. The story presented no confirmable evidence at all, was vehemently denied by all companies involved, has not been confirmed by a single other publication (despite much effort to do so), and has been largely discredited by one of Bloomberg’s own sources. By all appearances “The Big Hack” was complete bullshit. Yet Bloomberg has issued no correction or retraction, and seemingly hopes we’ll all just forget about it. I say we do not just forget about it. Bloomberg’s institutional credibility is severely damaged, and everything they publish should be treated with skepticism until they retract the story or provide evidence that it was true.

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6 days ago by rufous
WWDC19 - Apple Developer
One fun annual tradition is examining the poster art for WWDC and trying to surmise if it hints at anything that’s going to be announced. I’ll make one guess based on this year’s art: system-wide dark mode in iOS 13.

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6 days ago by rufous
Apple to host annual Worldwide Developers Conference June 3-7 in San Jose  - Apple
Apple Newsroom:

Apple today announced it will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose from June 3 through June 7 at the McEnery Convention Center. Now in its 30th year, Apple’s biggest event will bring together the world’s most innovative and creative developers. […]

Developers can apply for tickets today through March 20 at 5 p.m. PDT through the WWDC website. Tickets are issued through a random selection process, and developers will be notified of their application status by March 21 at 5 p.m. PDT. Developers and Apple enthusiasts everywhere can live-stream the conference on the WWDC app for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV as well as through the Apple Developer website.

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6 days ago by rufous
Several Boeing 737 Max 8 pilots in U.S. complained about suspected safety flaw | Airlines | Dallas News
Cary Aspinwall, Ariana Giorgi, and Dom DiFurio, reporting for The Dallas Morning News:

Pilots repeatedly voiced safety concerns about the Boeing 737 Max 8 to federal authorities, with one captain calling the flight manual “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient” several months before Sunday’s Ethiopian Air crash that killed 157 people, an investigation by The Dallas Morning News found.

The News found five complaints about the Boeing model in a federal database where pilots can voluntarily report about aviation incidents without fear of repercussions. […]

The disclosures found by The News reference problems with an autopilot system, and they all occurred during the ascent after takeoff. Many mentioned the plane suddenly nosing down. While records show these flights occurred in October and November, the airlines the pilots were flying for is redacted from the database.

This, more than anything else I’ve read, makes me think it is the right decision to ground these planes pending an investigation. Here the key part of one of the pilot’s reports:

This description is not currently in the 737 Flight Manual Part 2, nor the Boeing FCOM, though it will be added to them soon. This communication highlights that an entire system is not described in our Flight Manual. This system is now the subject of an AD.

I think it is unconscionable that a manufacturer, the FAA, and the airlines would have pilots flying an airplane without adequately training, or even providing available resources and sufficient documentation to understand the highly complex systems that differentiate this aircraft from prior models. The fact that this airplane requires such jury rigging to fly is a red flag. Now we know the systems employed are error prone — even if the pilots aren’t sure what those systems are, what redundancies are in place, and failure modes.

I am left to wonder: what else don’t I know? The Flight Manual is inadequate and almost criminally insufficient. All airlines that operate the MAX must insist that Boeing incorporate ALL systems in their manuals.

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7 days ago by rufous
Boeing 737 Max Flights Banned by U.S. After Other Countries Ground Planes - The New York Times
Ian Austen and Selam Gebrekidan, reporting for The New York Times:

President Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States was grounding Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft, reversing an earlier decision by American regulators to keep the jets flying after a second deadly crash in Ethiopia.

The order came hours after Canada’s transport minister said that newly available satellite-tracking data suggested similarities between the crash in Ethiopia and another accident last October. In a statement released after Mr. Trump’s announcement, the F.A.A. also cited “newly refined satellite data” as supporting the decision to ground the jets. […]

The accidents have put Boeing on the defensive. The 737 Max is Boeing’s best-selling jet ever and expected to be a major driver of profit with around 5,000 of the planes on order. Its shares have fallen about 13 percent this week.

I’m not sure how to bet on how this is going to turn out. My gut feeling has been that these two crashes were flukes, and that the similarities between them were just a very unfortunate coincidence. Trump rage-tweeting about the complexity of newer aircraft seemingly put the FAA into a position where they had to ground them, though. And I can definitely see the argument that an overabundance of caution is called for.

I also wonder what this means for non-“Max” Boeing 737s — how many air travelers will be spooked just because they sport the 737 name?

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7 days ago by rufous
Encyclopedia Netflixia: Translating Warner Media's Robert Greenblatt - Six Colors
Jason Snell:

In the aftermath I’ve seen lots of folks stepping up to defend Encyclopedia Britannica(!) and Netflix. Maybe Greenblatt’s statement isn’t the most artfully worded. If you want to point and laugh, Nelson style, you can. Netflix is wildly successful… it’s not just a brand, it’s a powerful cultural force, the kind that can fill thrift stores after the launch of a show about de-cluttering, when it’s not winning multiple Academy Awards.

But I think I understand what Greenblatt is getting at.

Interesting counterpoint to my short take the other day. I think what Greenblatt was trying to say is that Netflix doesn’t have a premium brand, not that they don’t have a brand, period. I think that’s still very debatable, but not ridiculous.

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9 days ago by rufous

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