The Daring Fireball Linked List

Hollywood Reporter: ‘Dr. Dre Filming Apple’s First Scripted Television Series’ 

Michael O’Connell and Lesley Goldberg, reporting for The Hollywood Reporter:

Apple is making its first original television show. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the technology giant is backing a top-secret scripted series starring one of its own executives, Beats co-founder and rap legend Dr. Dre.

Multiple sources say the 50-year-old mogul is starring in and executive producing his own six-episode vehicle, dubbed Vital Signs, and the production is being bankrolled by Apple. The series likely will be distributed via Apple Music, the company’s subscription streaming site, but it’s not clear if Apple TV, the iTunes store or other Apple platforms (or even a traditional television distributor) will be involved. Apple and a rep for Dre declined to comment.

If only this news had broken before I had Eddy Cue on my podcast. Interesting to think about how Apple would (will?) charge for exclusive content. Making it free for Apple Music subscribers is one idea, but if that’s the case, why did they call it “Apple Music”? What if it’s free for anyone with Apple TV?

It doesn’t sound very Disney-like, either:

While technically a half-hour, the show is not a comedy. Instead, it is described as a dark drama with no shortage of violence and sex. In fact, an episode filming Monday and Tuesday this week featured an extended orgy scene. Sources tell THR that naked extras simulated sex in a mansion in the Bird Streets neighborhood of Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills.

The Talk Show, With Very Special Guests Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi 

Drop what you’re doing and find a pair of headphones: my guests on this special episode of my podcast are Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi. It’s a wide-ranging discussion, and includes a bunch of interesting scoops: the weekly number of iTunes and App Store transactions, an updated Apple Music subscriber count, peak iMessage traffic per second, the number of iCloud account holders, and more.

If you’re new to the show, you can subscribe via iTunes or RSS.

This special episode was sponsored exclusively by Meh.com.

Gravitational Waves Explained 

Fun follow-up to today’s big news — a cartoon explaining how gravitational waves work.

Gravitational Waves Exist: The Inside Story of How Scientists Finally Found Them 

Great piece by Nicola Twilley for The New Yorker on the team that made this discovery:

Just over a billion years ago, many millions of galaxies from here, a pair of black holes collided. They had been circling each other for aeons, in a sort of mating dance, gathering pace with each orbit, hurtling closer and closer. By the time they were a few hundred miles apart, they were whipping around at nearly the speed of light, releasing great shudders of gravitational energy. Space and time became distorted, like water at a rolling boil. In the fraction of a second that it took for the black holes to finally merge, they radiated a hundred times more energy than all the stars in the universe combined. They formed a new black hole, sixty-two times as heavy as our sun and almost as wide across as the state of Maine. As it smoothed itself out, assuming the shape of a slightly flattened sphere, a few last quivers of energy escaped. Then space and time became silent again.

NYT: Pandora Is Said to Have Held Talks About Selling Itself 

Leslie Picker and Ben Sisario, reporting for the NYT:

Pandora Media, the largest Internet radio service, has held discussions about selling the company, according to people briefed on the talks. […]

For Pandora, it would be a curious time to sell. Its shares are yielding a market value of $1.8 billion, down from more than $7 billion two years ago. The stock has fallen more than 60 percent since October.

Pandora has the largest number of users for music streaming, but the competition is encroaching. Spotify is said to be arming itself with another $500 million in capital, and Apple Music recently surpassed 10 million paying users. Pandora’s users peaked at 81.5 million at the end of 2014, declining to 78.1 million in the third quarter.

The streaming business is cutthroat.

Time Inc. Acquires Myspace 

Lara O’Reilly, reporting for Business Insider:

Time Inc., the owner of Time, Fortune, and People magazines, has acquired Viant, the parent company of Myspace. Joe Ripp, chairman and CEO of Time Inc., described the acquisition as “game changing” in a press release.

What year is it?

American Pharoah’s Second Life as a $200k-a-Night Stud 

Fascinating feature by Monte Reel for Bloomberg on the business and process of putting champion thoroughbred horses out to stud:

The verb to use in polite company is “cover.” The stud covers the mare. Or: About 11 months after she was covered, the mare gave birth to a healthy foal.

The deed itself, here in the hills of Kentucky horse country, is governed by strict rules. Section V, paragraph D of The American Stud Book Principal Rules and Requirements is clear: “Any foal resulting from or produced by the processes of Artificial Insemination, Embryo Transfer or Transplant, Cloning or any other form of genetic manipulation not herein specified, shall not be eligible for registration.” No shortcuts, no gimmicks. All thoroughbreds must be the product of live, all-natural, horse-on-horse action.

There are some guys in this industry with really, really weird jobs.

(Via Dave Pell’s excellent NextDraft.)

Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein’s Theory 

Dennis Overbye, reporting for the NYT:

A team of physicists who can now count themselves as astronomers announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prophecy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago (Listen to it here.). And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.

More generally, it means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.

Remarkable science, and a testimony to Einstein’s extraordinary genius.

Don’t skip the video — it’s wonderful.

The Talk Show: ‘Anthropomorphic Human Bowel’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Ben Thompson. Topics include last Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 (and its mostly terrible commercials), Tim Cook’s tweet with a photo he took from the sidelines post-game, Twitter’s algorithmic timeline and the state of today’s Google- and Facebook-dominated online advertising industry, Yahoo’s gloomy prospects, and more.

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Comparing Tech Companies by Revenue and Profit Per Employee, 2015 

Two tweets from Dustin Curtis that tell a big story.

Donald Trump’s ‘The Art of the Deal: The Movie’ 

Long-thought lost, but recovered by Ron Howard. Looking forward to watching this tonight.

(Interesting sidenote: “For the best viewing experience, get the Funny Or Die app for Apple TV.”)

Google AMP Launch Looms 

George Slefo, reporting for Advertising Age:

In short, AMP is like a diet version of HTML. It is extremely fast and incredibly quick when it comes to loading. JavaScript is essentially non-existent, for now at least, and images won’t load until they’re in the user’s view. AMP will also deliver content much faster because it will be cached via the cloud, meaning Google won’t have to fetch it from a publisher’s site each time a request is made.

The end result is a near instantaneous content delivery system.

Sounds great.

Come launch, publishers will be able to track analytics and sell ads. Solutions for paywalls were put into place Tuesday. And, crucially, Google will favor AMP sites over others with the same search score in the results it shows consumers, said Richard Gingras, senior director, news and social products at Google.

Hmm.

Update: Rafe Colburn:

Does Google AMP offer any advantage (other than reduced effort) over building something yourself with the same goals as AMP?

What if it doesn’t even involve reduced efforts. What about a site that already delivers clean HTML markup, minimal-to-no JavaScript, and images that load on demand (or, cough, a site with few-to-no images)? Why would Google favor an AMP site over such a site in search results?

Amazon’s Updated AWS Service Terms 

Lengthy, as you’d expect for the terms of service for something like AWS. I’ll simply draw your attention to section 57.10, near the end.

A UX Designer’s Review of iPad Pro 

Amanda Somers:

Starting with an inspiration phase we would look for imagery online while we sketch and hash out rough ideas. After sketching, erasing, sweeping up eraser dust off our desks and repeating that a dozen times, we would draw iPhone or iPad sized screens on paper to eventually fill with promising candidates from our sketching session. After a couple iterations we usually share a version for a design review. […]

iPad Pro eliminates eraser dust and stacks of unnecessary paper sketches. Now we are able to copy and paste a sketch we’ve done, erase parts we don’t like and iterate on top of that. From there, we can simply Airdrop the sketch to our computers.

It’s easy for many people to forget just how much design and illustration work still happens on paper — iPad Pro and Apple Pencil seem to be moving the needle on this.

Vector Networks, an Alternative to Paths 

Evan Wallace:

Before I co-founded Figma my background was in game development, not in design. I remember being very surprised when I first encountered modern vector editing tools. Many of the interactions felt broken. Why couldn’t you just manipulate things directly? Why did connecting and disconnecting stuff only sometimes work? Is this the best we can do?

The pen tool as we know it today was originally introduced in 1987 and has remained largely unchanged since then. We decided to try something new when we set out to build the vector editing toolset for Figma. Instead of using paths like other tools, Figma is built on something we’re calling vector networks which are backwards-compatible with paths but which offer much more flexibility and control.

I have never been able to make heads or tails out of Illustrator’s vector design tools. (R.I.P. Freehand.) The Figma designers have come up with something truly novel — looking forward to trying this.

Free as in Frightening 

From a Wired profile of Android founder Andy Rubin:

Rubin is typically tight-lipped about his plans — he refused to comment, for instance, on a recent report in The Information that he’s building a new Android phone. When pressed, he says he is in fact working on a dashcam, which he plans to give away in exchange for its data — potentially allowing Playground to build a real-time visual map of the world. And he has other ideas, he says, “that I’m not willing to talk about.”

I like the Engadget piece on this: “Android Creator Andy Rubin Is Making a Free Dashcam: You’ll Just Have to Give Up Its Data in Exchange.”

That’s one hell of a “just”.

Getting Ahead vs. Doing Well 

Seth Godin:

One unspoken objection to raising the minimum wage is that people, other people, those people, will get paid a little more. Which might make getting ahead a little harder. When we raise the bottom, this thinking goes, it gets harder to move to the top.

After a company in Seattle famously raised its lowest wage tier to $70,000, two people (who got paid more than most of the other workers) quit, because they felt it wasn’t fair that people who weren’t as productive as they were were going to get a raise.

They quit a good job, a job they liked, because other people got a raise.

This is our culture of ‘getting ahead’ talking.

This is the thinking that, “First class isn’t better because of the seats, it’s better because it’s not coach.” (Several airlines have tried to launch all-first-class seating, and all of them have stumbled.)

Teenagers and Snapchat 

BuzzFeed’s Ben Rosen interviewed his 13-year-old sister to learn how she uses Snapchat:

I’m mesmerized. What’s even the point of sending snaps to each other if you don’t look at them? Am I crazy? That seems so unnecessary. Still, this is adult-brain talking. If I wanted to be one of the teens, I needed to just accept it and press on.

ME: What does Dad say when he sees you doing this?

BROOKE: Parents don’t understand. It’s about being there in the moment. Capturing that with your friends or with your expression. One of the biggest fights kids have with their parents is about data usage.

ME: Really? Because you’re using too much?

BROOKE: Yeah. This one girl I know uses 60 gigabytes every month.

ME: 60 GIGS?!?!? Is that for real??

BROOKE: Yeah. [laughs]

ME: Wow. OK, what else do you do during the day?

BROOKE: I look at the new filters. Those are VERY big. I’ve only bought about three of them, but there are new ones, like, every day.

ME: How often are you on Snapchat?

BROOKE: On a day without school? There’s not a time when I’m not on it. I do it while I watch Netflix, I do it at dinner, and I do it when people around me are being awkward. That app is my life.

The Reality of Missing Out 

Ben Thompson:

But remember the adage: it’s the customers that matter, and from an advertiser’s perspective Facebook and Twitter are absolutely comparable, which is the root of the problem for the latter. Digital advertising is becoming a rather simple proposition: Facebook, Google, or don’t bother.

Arriving at San Francisco 

Speaking of typography and new typefaces, Nick Keppol of MartianCraft has put together an epic two-part series analyzing Apple’s new San Francisco UI font system. (Part one is a little less about San Francisco in particular and more about the fundamentals of typography in general.)

Operator — New Monospace Typeface From Hoefler & Co. 

New from Hoefler & Co.: “a monospace typeface, a monospace-inspired typeface, and a short film about type design”. Jonathan Hoefler:

In developing Operator, we found ourselves talking about JavaScript and CSS, looking for vinyl label embossers on eBay, renting a cantankerous old machine from perhaps the last typewriter repair shop in New York, and unearthing a flea market find that amazingly dates to 1893. Above is the four-minute film I made, to record a little of what went into Operator, and introduce the team at H&Co behind it.

I heard that Hoefler & Co. were working on a monospace typeface a few months ago, and the result is everything I expected: distinctive, attractive, and practical. The script face for the italics is a little wild, but why not go a little wild on the italics in a monospace typeface? (Meta note: I’m posting this from MarsEdit with Operator Mono as my editing font.)

Roger Goodell’s Unstoppable Football Machine 

Great feature by Mark Leibovich for the NYT Magazine on Roger Goodell and the state of the NFL:

And yet, everyone wants a piece of the Shield. Put it on TV, and people will watch; put it on a jersey, they will wear it. The N.F.L.’s total revenue in 2015 ($12.4 billion) is nearly double that of a decade earlier ($6.6 billion). The price of television ads during the Super Bowl has increased by more than 75 percent over the last decade. This year’s conference championship games set yet another viewership record for the league: 53.3 million people watched the A.F.C. game on CBS; 45.7 million watched the N.F.C. game on Fox. Goodell talks constantly about ‘‘growing the pie,’’ finding new revenue streams and ways to make the N.F.L. a ‘‘year-round’’ experience rather than just during fall and winter. He has said he wants the N.F.L. to achieve $25 billion in gross revenue by 2027. No league is as relentless when it comes to growth and making cash for its billionaire cartel. It’s reminiscent of a shark that will die if it doesn’t keep moving and ripping little fish to shreds.

Just to put that in context with my regular beat, Apple booked over $233 billion in revenue in its 2015 financial year. The NFL is a pervasive, overwhelming cultural force in the United States, but Apple is almost 20 times bigger financially. It’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, for sure, but it helps put into perspective just how big Apple has gotten.

Super Bowl 50 and the Denver Broncos’ Defense 

Michael Rosemberg, writing for Sports Illustrated:

I’m sure we can all agree, right?: The story of Super Bowl 50 was Denver’s defense. Broncos cornerback Chris Harris said “the game plan was so simple” — don’t blitz too much, gang up on the run — and so is this story.

Denver’s defense dominated Cam Newton and the Panthers in a 24–10 victory. Forget the total yards, which were 315–194 in Carolina’s favor, and forget that Carolina had 10 more first downs. It was obvious by halftime that Carolina’s offense, which led the league in scoring, was overmatched.

I had Carolina winning in a blowout. That didn’t work out so well.

An Old-School Reply to an Advertiser’s Retro Threat 

Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway has written the best “go fuck yourself” piece I’ve seen in a long time.

Flash-Free Video in 2016 

Scott Wolynski and Flavio Ribeiro, writing for the NYT Open blog:

At the beginning of this year, we officially turned off Flash support for VHS, the New York Times video player. We now use HTML5 video technology for all video playback on desktop and mobile web browsers.

This might have happened eventually no matter what, but the fact that this is happening now is because of the iPhone, iPad, and Apple’s steadfast refusal to allow browser plugins on iOS.

The Apple Watch Got Marco Arment Hooked on Mechanical Watches 

Marco Arment:

A big part of that joy, for me, is that this isn’t like anything else in my life, and the difference is refreshing.

Most of my work and hobbies involve technologically cutting-edge digital electronics reliant on complex, inconsistent software, with a typical lifetime of a few years at most. Almost everything else I use and make is effectively disposable.

This is a huge part of the appeal of mechanical watches for me. No electricity. Just mechanics. They’re tangible in a way that software never can be.

For similar reasons, I still read most books on paper.

Igloo 

My thanks to Igloo for once again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Igloo is an intranet you’ll actually like. It can help your company or team share information and collaborate in one unified space — from any device.

Igloo knows love doesn’t happen overnight, so they’ll let you try Igloo free of charge — forever.

‘Error 53’ 

Christina Warren, writing for Mashable:

What is Error 53? Well, it basically turns your iPhone into a brick. Why? Well it all ties into the Touch ID sensor on your phone. […]

The problem occurs when an unauthorized repair center replaces a home button. At first, the phone might work — with everything, including Touch ID, seeming perfectly fine.

But as soon as you go to update to a newer version of iOS (or you attempt to restore your phone from a backup), the software checks to make sure the Touch ID sensor matches the rest of the hardware. If it finds that there isn’t a match, your phone is basically bricked.

It seems very reasonable to me that iOS should check for a trusted Touch ID sensor. But, if the sensor can’t be trusted, clearly the whole phone should not be bricked — it should simply disable Touch ID and Apple Pay. And, obviously, it should inform the user why. Putting up an alert that just says “Error 53” is almost comically bad.

Microsoft, Nokia, and the Burning Platform 

Evan Blass, writing for VentureBeat:

When Microsoft acquired Nokia’s Devices and Services division in late 2013 and began integrating the storied Lumia brand into its offerings, it was hailed by Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer as “a bold step into the future — a win-win for employees, shareholders, and consumers of both companies.” Since then, Microsoft has folded much of its $7.5 billion acquisition into other divisions of the company, laid off thousands of former Nokia employees, slashed its output of smartphones per year, and eventually wrote off the entire purchase in a $7.6 billion impairment charge. Fast forward to early 2016, when we will soon see a quiet launch of what’s widely believed to be the final Microsoft Lumia-branded handset, the Lumia 650.

The most amazing part of this whole saga is that Nokia was worth only $7.5 billion in 2013. In 2000, they had a market cap of $245 billion.

Spencer Hall: ‘I Won the Super Bowl in a McLaren 570S’ 

Nice take on what it’s like to drive a $190,000 sports car.

Update on That Atlanta House Where Dozens of Missing Phones Think They Are 

Kashmir Hill, following up on this story from a few weeks ago:

Maynor thinks it’s possible that an app seeking to better locate a phone might take the IP-based location and then look next to a mapping database of wireless devices it knows in the area; with little to choose from there, it may be locking onto Lee and Saba’s router as the closest to the IP-chosen location and then pinpoint them as the exact location of the phone.

But he’s still uncertain. Maynor says he feels like Sherlock Holmes trying to solve this tech mystery.

“These are theories and I am trying to prove them. It’s like that Conan Doyle quote, ‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth,’” said Maynor. “But I’m still not satisfied. I want to find more of a smoking gun. We need to know what app people are using to find their phones and then look at what databases they’re relying on for location.”

Completely tangential sidenote: Longtime DF readers will recall Dave Maynor’s name.

Fred Wilson Criticizes Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for Waiting to IPO 

Biz Carson, writing for Business Insider:

“I agree with Bill Gurley on this. Man up! Woman up! Fucking do it! Don’t be chicken!” Wilson ranted, referring to another outspoken VC.

One company in Wilson’s crosshairs is Uber, the ride-hailing company valued at more than $62 billion in the private market. Its CEO, Travis Kalanick, does not appear to be in any hurry to take the company public. Kalanick sees an Uber IPO as being a few years off still, and has compared its situation to being like an eighth-grader while people are telling them to go to the prom.

Wilson, who isn’t an investor in the company, doesn’t buy it. “He’s wimping out. That should be a publicly traded company,” Wilson said.

A VC upset that a company is not going public, thus preventing other VCs from reaping huge profits? Shocker.

Tim Cook Holds Company-Wide Town Hall 

Mark Gurman, 9to5Mac:

In the days following Apple’s record Q1 earnings announcements, Apple CEO Tim Cook and other top Apple executives held a Town Hall meeting at the Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino to reveal new announcements and take attendee questions.

Multiple sources in attendance at the event said that Cook as well as newly appointed Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams each spoke and made announcements and teases related to new employee benefits, future iPad growth, Apple Watch sales, future retail stores in China, Apple Campus 2, and the future product pipeline. […]

Lots of interesting tidbits, including the fact that Apple Watch sold better in its first holiday quarter than the original iPhone did in 2007.

He also touched upon the new Cupertino Apple Campus 2, noting that Apple employees will likely first begin moving into the new campus by the end of January 2017. He emphasized how important the new theater will be in giving Apple flexibility to hold larger events on its own campus versus relying on places in San Fransisco or San Jose. Cook reportedly called the new campus a “gift” to the future of Apple employees.

It occurs to me that next month’s Apple Event might be the last one ever held in the small theater on Apple’s existing campus.

Louis C.K. on Why He Charged $5 for the First Episode of ‘Horace and Pete’ 

Louis C.K.:

So why the dirty fuckballs did I charge you five dollars for Horace and Pete, where most TV shows you buy online are 3 dollars or less? Well, the dirty unmovable fact is that this show is fucking expensive.

The standup specials are much more containable. It’s one guy on a stage in a theater and in most cases, the cost of the tickets that the live audience paid, was enough to finance the filming.

But Horace and Pete is a full on TV production with four broadcast cameras, two beautiful sets and a state of the art control room and a very talented and skilled crew and a hall-of-fame cast. Every second the cameras are rolling, money is shooting out of my asshole like your mother’s worst diarrhea. (Yes there are less upsetting metaphors I could be using but I just think that one is the sharpest and most concise). Basically this is a hand-made, one guy paid for it version of a thing that is usually made by a giant corporation.

I watched the first episode. It’s a really unusual show. On the surface level, it feels very familiar, with a cast of well-known actors and a very traditional old-school multi-camera look and feel. Horace and Pete looks like an old CBS show, in particular, to my eyes.

But what the characters do and say, and what is going on in their lives, is nothing at all like traditional TV. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition — familiar comfort-food in terms of how it looks, but unconventional in terms of what is actually going on.

In just two words: “dystopic Cheers”.

Amazon’s Retail Store Plans Go Beyond Books 

Jason Del Rey, reporting for Recode:

Amazon will indeed open up more bookstores, but it also plans to eventually unveil other types of retail stores in addition to bookstores, according to two sources familiar with the plans. It’s not yet clear what those stores will sell or how they will be formatted, but the retail team’s mission is to reimagine what shopping in a physical store would be like if you merged the best of physical retail with the best of Amazon.

So they’ll start with books, then expand to other products. Sounds familiar.

Yours Truly on Josh Topolsky’s ‘Tomorrow’ Podcast 

What I like about doing podcasts with Josh is that we disagree on so much — it’s fun, and he always makes me think.

Music Memos Is a Songwriter’s Best Friend 

Dave Wiskus, writing for iMore:

If Voice Memos are Post-Its — a quick and dirty tool to make sure I didn’t forget an idea — then Music Memos is a sketchbook. This is where I start the songwriting process, and every part of the app is designed to help facilitate the process and, most shockingly of all, guide me to the next step in fleshing the song out. […]

Music Memos has so many other tricks up its sleeves that I almost feel like someone at Apple has been reading my dream journal. An app for recording song ideas that uses a robust tagging system is something I’ve personally wanted to build for a long time, but throw in a guitar tuner, chord and tempo detection, exporting to GarageBand, and magical automatic backing instruments, and the dream becomes borderline pornographic.

I’m not a songwriter, so the app isn’t useful to me personally, but I’m really impressed by the design of this app. It is attractive, well-organized, simple, and thoughtful. And judging by Dave’s take (and Serenity Caldwell’s), it’s genuinely useful and solves a heretofore unsolved problem.

So all is not lost when it comes to Apple putting out high-quality apps.

Mossberg: Apple’s Apps Need Work 

Walt Mossberg:

But there’s more than just metal, glass, and silicon to these products. Apple’s built-in software is a huge part of the experience, and has been since the company introduced the first Mac in 1984. Whether it’s the operating systems or the core apps, a major aspect of what makes both users and reviewers value Apple products is software that melds power, reliability, and ease of use. “It just works!” was a favorite Steve Jobs phrase.

In the last couple of years, however, I’ve noticed a gradual degradation in the quality and reliability of Apple’s core apps, on both the mobile iOS operating system and its Mac OS X platform. It’s almost as if the tech giant has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to these core software products, while it pursues big new dreams, like smartwatches and cars.

In particular, Mossberg singles out iTunes (on the desktop), Mail, and iCloud sync issues.

Uber Rebrands 

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick:

Have you ever looked at someone’s hairstyle and thought “oh my, you peaked in the 1990s?” Well that’s a bit how I feel about Uber’s look today. It’s not just that we were young and in a hurry when we replaced our red magnet logo with today’s black badge four years ago. It’s that we were a fundamentally different company. […]

So today, we’re excited to roll out a new look and feel that celebrates our technology, as well as the cities we serve.

The new logo mark feels like a solid improvement over the old. It feels familiar, but sturdier. Everything else they’re doing with this refresh seems like a bunch of nonsense. I just don’t get it. I think it’s fine for a company as young as Uber to start over from scratch with their brand. It’s risky, because Uber is already pretty well known, but, if you decide you need a change, the sooner you do it the better. But their new brand doesn’t make for a cohesive whole. It doesn’t feel like a new version of the old Uber brand, and it gives me no sense of what the new Uber brand feels like.

I concur with Armin Vit (writing at Brand New):

The bigger issue with the redesign — far more troubling — than the logo redesign is the app icon. In this case the app icon gets more action than the logo itself. That’s the first interaction from most users. If I wasn’t a fan of the curl in the “U” of the old logo I was even less of a fan of the inward serifs of the old icon. But, hey, it was a “U” for Uber and it was shiny like the badge on the grill of a car. The new icon is completely unidentifiable in any way as Uber other than it saying “Uber” underneath. Let’s assume that it’s a matter of being used to poking on that icon for the last five or six years and that we just need to get used to poking at this new one but, even then, it seems like this is an icon for something else altogether. I don’t think there is enough strength in the bit as the principal (and literal) touchpoint. Having a separate icon for drivers that looks even less like anything doesn’t help the cause of establishing a consistent, recognizable mobile environment.

Update: Everyone I know thinks of Uber as the company whose app you use to hail a car to drive you somewhere. Uber has greater ambitions than that. That’s fine. But they created this new brand to fit with their ambitions, and as a result, it doesn’t fit with what everyone who uses them thinks of them right now. Compare and contrast to Amazon. Amazon has expanded to major new initiatives like developer web services and online streaming of video. But along the way they never broke the original brand that says “This is where you go to buy books”. This new Uber brand (and especially the app icon) does not say “This is what you use to hail a ride.”

Uber’s new icon looks like a logo for Cyberdyne Systems.

Draplin Design Co.: ‘Pretty Much Everything’ 

I got a sneak peek at this back in September, when I visited DDC’s Portland headquarters with a few friends. Chock full of great design work and hilarious prose. You should get this book.

Apple Press Event: March 15 

John Paczkowski, BuzzFeed:

Apple has finally set the date for its first big event of 2016: The Ides of March.

Sources in position to know tell BuzzFeed News the company has chosen March 15 as the date it will show off a handful of new products.

Among the devices Apple plans to unveil are the next generation version of the iPad Air and a new smaller iPhone. Approximately the same size as the iPhone 5s, this smaller iPhone will feature a 4-inch display and a faster chip. Also on board: Support for Apple Pay, the company’s mobile payment service. A selection of new Apple Watch bands is also expected.

Matthew Panzarino and Mark Gurman are both reporting the same date.

The Imperious Elon Musk 

Back in September, Stewart Alsop wrote a post on Medium telling Elon Musk “he should be ashamed of himself” because the launch event for the Tesla Model X started late and Alsop didn’t get to actually see a Model X.

In response, Musk has cancelled Alsop’s $130,000 order for a Model X. I love this guy. Sure, it seems a little childish, vindictive, and petty. But it’s fun to watch.

Reporting Scandal at The Intercept 

Betsy Reed, editor of The Intercept:

The Intercept recently discovered a pattern of deception in the actions of a staff member. The employee, Juan Thompson, was a staff reporter from November 2014 until last month. Thompson fabricated several quotes in his stories and created fake email accounts that he used to impersonate people, one of which was a Gmail account in my name.

An investigation into Thompson’s reporting turned up three instances in which quotes were attributed to people who said they had not been interviewed. In other instances, quotes were attributed to individuals we could not reach, who could not remember speaking with him, or whose identities could not be confirmed. In his reporting Thompson also used quotes that we cannot verify from unnamed people whom he claimed to have encountered at public events. Thompson went to great lengths to deceive his editors, creating an email account to impersonate a source and lying about his reporting methods.

This sort of scandal can sink a publication. Seems like The Intercept is handling this as best they can, by getting out in front of it.

But it gets even stranger: in an email sent to Gawker, Thompson says:

I’ve been undergoing radiation treatment for testicular cancer and, since I no longer have health insurance, I’ve been feverishly struggling and figuring out how to pay for my treatment. All of this, of course, has taken up my time and energy; except for the few moments I’ve spent searching for some relief.

With regards to verifying the comments, I’m in STL undergoing treatment, again, and not in NY, thus I lack access to my notebooks (which I took for most stories) to address these matters. Moreover, after finally looking over the notes sent to me, I must say this: I had a habit of writing drafts of stories, placing the names of ppl I wanted to get quotes from in there, and then going to fetch the quotes.

Dealing with a serial fabulist is so hard. Does he really have cancer? I hope not, and if he does, I of course wish him well. But what The Intercept is alleging goes far beyond getting the names wrong of sources he quoted — and being ill is no excuse for it.

MacRumors Scoop on iPhone 7 Design 

Eric Slivka, writing for MacRumors:

Apple’s iPhone 7 isn’t expected to launch until the usual September timeframe, but we’re starting to get our first hints of what we might be able to expect for the new device. According to a source who has provided reliable information in the past, the iPhone 7 body will appear very similar to the design used for the iPhone 6 and 6s, with two significant exceptions.

The first involves the rear camera, which protrudes slightly on the iPhone 6 and 6s. On the iPhone 7, the camera is said to sit flush with the rear casing, enabled by a thinner camera module. Recent rumors have indicated Apple is considering equipping the iPhone 7 Plus with a dual-lens rear camera, but the smaller iPhone 7 is expected to include a more traditional camera.

I hate that damn camera bump, so it’d be great to see it go. But man, I’m going to be disappointed if the 5.5-inch model gets the new two-lens camera and the 4.7-inch one does not.

LG’s First-Ever Super Bowl Ad 

As with many Super Bowl ads, I feel like they would’ve gotten more bang for their buck by just setting fire to a few million dollars in cash and putting the video on YouTube.

On Apple’s Share Price 

Kirk Burgess:

Fancy owning Apple Inc, the entire company, for no money down? Well if the current share price level doesn’t go any higher, in less than 8 years time someone will be able to pick up the company effectively for free.

Duke Unranked in Associated Press Top 25 for First Time in More Than Eight Years 

First Alphabet passes Apple as the most valuable company in the world, now this. Not a good day for Tim Cook.

Alphabet Passes Apple as World’s Most Valuable Company 

Jack Clark, reporting for Bloomberg:

Google reported profit and sales that topped estimates, lifted by robust sales of online ads and tighter cost controls, putting parent Alphabet Inc. on track to overtake Apple Inc. as the world’s most valuable company.

The results, reported for the first time under a new structure that separates Google’s main search and advertising operations from riskier investments, show that fourth-quarter revenue, excluding sales passed on to partners, rose 19 percent to $17.3 billion. That exceeded analysts’ average projection for $16.9 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit, before certain items, was $8.67 a share, beating the prediction for $8.08. […]

The shares of Mountain View, California-based Alphabet rose as much as 9.4 percent in extended trading. The stock advanced 1.2 percent to $770.77 at the close in New York, giving the company a market capitalization of $523.1 billion, compared with $534.7 billion for Apple.

I saw this coming a few weeks ago.

Update: To be clear, Alphabet’s closing price today left it around $11 billion behind Apple, but their stock is way up in after-hours trading (what Bloomberg calls “extended trading”).

The Talk Show: ‘Hopped Up on Holiday Juice’ 

This week’s episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Matthew Panzarino. Topics include Apple’s quarterly financial results, rumors of Apple working on VR handsets and “wireless” charging for iPhones, Bezos charts, and more.

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‘All Hail Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon”’ 

Cinephilia and Beyond goes deep on Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, one of my very favorites among favorites:

What is now considered one of Stanley Kubrick’s most accomplished films, as well as an example of innovative, audacious filmmaking at its best, was almost given birth to by accident. After Kubrick’s dream of making Napoleon crumbled into pieces, he used this studious research and shifted his ambitions and talent into William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1844 novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon. The story of an unscrupulous Irish scoundrel who marries into high society and advances in the aristocratic society of 18th century England proved an ideal ground for the master to exhibit his storytelling powers. With the significant help of his director of photography John Alcott, Kubrick created a cinematic world that could be most easily described as a moving 18th century painting. Giving its best to avoid using electric sources of artificial light, relying on the illuminating power of candles and natural lighting, investing enormous effort into costume design, Barry Lyndon looks genuine through and through. Moreover, it leaves the impression of actually being comprised of works of art taken down from the walls of some filthily rich British nobleman.

Includes links to the (very curiously formatted) screenplay, and American Cinematographer’s two March 1976 articles on John Alcott’s photography.

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