The Daring Fireball Linked List

Howard Stern, Interviewer Extraordinaire 

David Segal, writing for The New York Times:

What I didn’t appreciate, until hearing Mr. Murray lay bare his deepest anxieties, is that since settling in to his new home on satellite radio, which he did in 2006, Mr. Stern and his show have gradually taken on an improbable new dimension. Scattered among the gleefully vulgar mainstays are now long, starkly intimate live exchanges — character excavations that have made Mr. Stern one of the most deft and engrossing celebrity interviewers in the business and a sought-after stop for stars selling a movie or setting the record straight.

“He’s truth serum,” said the comedian Amy Schumer, who has been on the show four times in the last five years. “It’s like you’re under contract to be totally honest in there, and even though it’s being broadcast, it feels super intimate and protected, even though you definitely aren’t.”

By all accounts, the metamorphosis has been slow — the result of a combination of therapy, his second marriage, mainstream acceptance and a sixth sense Mr. Stern has about how to evolve with the times.

“I couldn’t have done the show I’m doing now 20 years ago,” Mr. Stern said over the phone. “I’ve changed a lot. I’d be sort of pathetic if I’d reached this point in my life and I hadn’t. How else do you have longevity? There are so many guys who started out with me in radio, who have disappeared, because they can’t broaden their view of what entertainment should be, or get in touch with what they find to be exciting and fun and funny.”

Really good piece.

Apple Music Buys ‘Carpool Karaoke’ TV Series 

Cynthia Littleton, reporting for Variety:

“We love music, and ‘Carpool Karaoke’ celebrates it in a fun and unique way that is a hit with audiences of all ages,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services. “It’s a perfect fit for Apple Music — bringing subscribers exclusive access to their favorite artists and celebrities who come along for the ride.”

The most recent installment with first lady Michelle Obama and Missy Elliott has grabbed nearly 32 million views on YouTube since July 20. “Carpool” segments to date have generated more than 800 million views, according to CBS.

Apple is definitely getting into content.

Apple Q3 2016 Quarterly Results 

iPad revenue is up, services are up, everything else is a bit down. But the overall results are slightly better than expected.

Benedict Evans on the iOS-Android Platform War 

Benedict Evans:

The smartphone platform wars are pretty much over, and Apple and Google won. But it’s interesting, in passing, to note the final score, and think about what it means.

Interesting back-of-the-envelope math, including a somewhat eye-opening conclusion about how many more Google Android phones than iPhones are in use today worldwide.

Google Phone App Now Identifies Spam on Nexus and Android One Devices 

Google:

Spam callers be gone! Today, we’re beginning to update your Google Phone app with spam protection on Nexus and Android One devices to warn you about potential spam callers and give you the ability to block and report these numbers. If you already have Caller ID turned on, spam protection will be available on your phone once your app updates to the latest version.

I’ve been getting two or three spam calls a week lately. Would love this on iOS.

Update: Looks like I’m in luck: I completely forgot that this feature is already in iOS 10. I’m running the iOS 10 betas on iPad, but not on iPhone yet.

Verizon Announces $4.8 Billion Deal for Yahoo’s Internet Business 

Vindu Goel, reporting for the NYT:

Verizon, seeking to build an array of digital businesses that can compete for users and advertising with Google and Facebook, announced on Monday that it was buying Yahoo’s core internet business for $4.83 billion in cash.

The deal, which was reached over the weekend, unites two titans of the early internet, AOL and Yahoo, under the umbrella of one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies. Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion last year. Now it will add Yahoo’s consumer services — search, news, finance, sports, video, email and the Tumblr social network — to a portfolio that includes AOL as well as popular sites like The Huffington Post.

Good luck with that.

In an interview, Ms. Mayer said, “I plan to stay. I love Yahoo and I want to see it into its next chapter.” But she and Tim Armstrong, the chief executive of AOL, said it had not yet been decided if she would have a role at the company after the deal closed in early 2017.

If she is terminated, she will be due severance of about $57 million. If she received that payout, her total compensation from Yahoo for her service so far would be about $218 million, according to the compensation research firm Equilar.

Translation: She’s gone.

WSJ: ‘Apple Taps Bob Mansfield to Oversee Car Project’ 

Big scoop from Daisuke Wakabayashi:

Until recently, Mr. Mansfield — who, along with design chief Jony Ive, was one of the few executives to appear in Apple’s carefully-crafted product announcement videos — had all but retreated from the company aside from the occasional visit, these people said. Earlier this month, employees at Apple noticed in the company directory that all the senior managers on the car project were now reporting to Mr. Mansfield, they said.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on personnel matters. Mr. Mansfield didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

As sure a sign as any that the car project is full steam ahead, and totally serious.

Neil Young’s PonoMusic Store Goes Offline as It Switches Content Providers 

If not for this article in Billboard, would anyone have even noticed?

The Talk Show: Special Bullying Venue 

New episode of my podcast, with special guest Glenn Fleishman. Topics include security vulnerabilities on MacOS and iOS, ransomware, counterfeit products and outright fraud on Amazon, and online harassment and “free speech”.

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Squarespace 

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The Last VCR Will Be Produced This Month 

Ananya Bhattacharya, writing for Quartz:

Japan’s Funai Electronics, which makes its own electronics, in addition to supplying companies like Sanyo, will produce the last batch of VCR units by July 30, Nikkei reported (link in Japanese). The company cites difficulty in obtaining the necessary parts as one of the reasons for halting production.

It can take a surprisingly long time for a technology to go from obsolete to truly dead.

Part Two of Elon Musk’s Master Plan for Tesla 

Elon Musk:

So, in short, Master Plan, Part Deux is:

  • Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
  • Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
  • Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
  • Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it

Cogent read. Musk is a remarkably clear thinker. He’s often compared to Steve Jobs, and rightly so in many ways, but they sure aren’t alike in terms of revealing plans for the future.

Stephen Colbert’s Killer Week 

Some great stuff this week broadcasting live, after each night of the Republican National Convention. Jon Stewart’s desk piece last night was vintage Stewart, and Laura Benanti’s impression as Melania Trump was great. And we saw the return of Colbert’s conservative pundit alter ego.

NBA to Move All-Star Game to Protest North Carolina Bathroom Law 

Just in time for tonight’s finale of the Trumpster fire that is this year’s Republican National Convention.

The New Glif 

I’ve mentioned Studio Neat’s Glif camera mount for the iPhone many times before. It’s always been a great product. But now they’re launching an all-new version, and it looks really clever — it works with any size phone, in both portrait and landscape, and has additional mounts for things like microphones and hand grips. Their Kickstarter campaign is already funded, but I say pre-order yours now and put this project way over the top.

Nintendo’s Stock Has Doubled in Value Since Pokemon Go’s Release 

Yet another sign that the market, collectively, acts impetuously, but amazing nonetheless.

Birkenstock Quits Amazon After Counterfeit Surge 

Ari Levy, reporting for CNBC:

Plagued by counterfeits and unauthorized selling on the online shopping site, the sandals company will no longer supply products to Amazon in the U.S. starting Jan. 1. Additionally, Birkenstock won’t authorize third-party merchants to sell on the site, according to a letter the company sent to several thousand retail partners on July 5.

The memo, from Birkenstock USA CEO David Kahan, was obtained confidentially by CNBC.com.

“The Amazon marketplace, which operates as an ‘open market,’ creates an environment where we experience unacceptable business practices which we believe jeopardize our brand,” Kahan wrote from the company’s U.S. headquarters in Novato, California. “Policing this activity internally and in partnership with Amazon.com has proven impossible.”

Amazon has a real problem on its hands.

iOS Gets Thicker 

Luke Wroblewski posted an interesting side-by-side comparison of the Today view, Control Center, and standard sharing sheets in iOS 7 and the iOS 10 public beta. Much less transparency, more solid shapes in place of outlines, and more use of color. Wroblewski attributes this to Jony Ive’s “receding presence” at Apple. I do not agree. I think these changes were inevitable, no matter Ive’s day-to-day involvement with UI details. iOS 7 went to an extreme (remember the crazily thin weights of Helvetica Neue in the betas that summer?). A gradual thickening and increase in UI affordances (more buttons that look like buttons, card-like things that look more like cards; more discernible on and off states) seemed like the obvious course.

For what it’s worth, I really like the UI changes in iOS 10, on both the iPhone and iPad. This is the sort of thing that takes years of refinement to achieve. It wasn’t feasible for a 9-month project like the iOS 7 redesign to debut with this level of refinement.

Amazon’s Fraudulent Seller Problem 

Remember last week’s link about Chinese counterfeits polluting Amazon’s inventory? They have another problem: outright fraud. Emily Heller:

Tried to buy a doormat and here’s what arrived: a piece of foam with a photo of the thing I wanted printed on it.

Here’s an even more ridiculous example.

XKCD: Free Speech 

Good bookmark for those who persist in arguing that Twitter booting harassers from their service is an abridgment of “free speech”.

I will add: Expressing controversial or even unpopular opinions is one thing, and Twitter should remain open to that. Harassment is something else entirely, and Twitter should have zero tolerance for it. Empathetic human beings can tell the difference. Bullies, on the other hand, conflate the two. Milo Yiannopoulos getting kicked off Twitter had nothing to do with his conservative politics and everything to do with his leading a hate mob of racist misogynists.

I understand the concern that if Twitter starts suspending accounts for one thing (harassment), they might start suspending accounts for the other (expressing controversial opinions). That’s why Twitter’s solution needs to involve actual human beings. Rational people should have tolerance for ideas that offend them. No one should be asked to tolerate personal abuse.

‘The Internet Is Turning Us All Into Sociopaths’ 

Archived 2012 piece from the now-defunct The Kernel:

What’s disturbing about this new trend, in which commenters are posting what would previously have been left anonymously, is that these trolls seem not to mind that their real names, and sometimes even their occupations, appear clamped to their vile words. It’s as if a psychological norm is being established whereby comments left online are part of a video game and not real life. It’s as if we’ve all forgotten that there’s a real person on the other end, reading and being hurt by our vitriol. That’s as close to the definition of sociopath as one needs to get for an armchair diagnosis, though of course many other typical sociopathic traits are also being encouraged by social media.

Well-said. But the kicker is the byline.

(Via Charles Arthur.)

Dollar Shave Club: ‘Our Blades Are Fucking Great’ 

I’d seen this before and remember liking it, but Ben Thompson implored readers to re-watch it in his aforelinked piece on Dollar Shave Club’s $1 billion acquisition by Unilever, and I have to concur with his assessment: it’s one of the best product introduction videos of all time. 90 seconds long and not a word or moment is wasted.

Dollar Shave Club and the Disruption of Everything 

Ben Thompson:

Probably the most important fact when it comes to analyzing Unilever’s purchase of Dollar Shave Club is the $1 billion price: in the world of consumer packaged goods (CPG) it is shockingly low. After all, only eleven years ago Procter & Gamble (P&G) bought Gillette, the market leader in shaving,for a staggering $57 billion.

To be sure Gillette is still dominant — the brand controls 70 percent of the global blades and razors market — but there is little question that Dollar Shave Club is a much better deal, in every sense of the word. Understanding why Dollar Shave Club was cheap means understanding why its blades are cheap, and understanding that means understanding just how precarious the position of P&G specifically and incumbents generally is in the emerging Internet economy.

Fantastic piece — Thompson makes a strong case that the seemingly unrelated creation of Amazon Web Services and YouTube a decade ago created the opportunity for Dollar Shave Club to disrupt a titan like Gillette.

Exploring the App Store’s Top Grossing Chart 

Fascinating analysis and data visualizations by Graham Spencer, writing for MacStories:

One of the most striking things you’ll notice when browsing the Top 200 Grossing apps is that they are virtually all offered as free downloads. In my survey, just three apps were paid apps upfront; Minecraft (#33, $6.99), Grindr (#95, $0.99), and Facetune (#183, $3.99). The other 197 apps were free to download.

I knew intuitively that most top-grossing apps were free downloads with in-app purchases, but I wasn’t expecting the results to be so overwhelming.

(Also: What a remarkable game Minecraft is. Its staying power is amazing, and it is standing in lone opposition to the IAP-ification of mobile games.)

‘See if You Can’t Leave Me About a Good Inch From Where the Zipper Ends … Right on Back to My Bunghole’ 

Worth a re-link, for the sake of some politics we can all agree on: Lyndon Johnson ordering pants.

Twitter Permanently Suspends Milo Yiannopoulos 

Charlie Warzel, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Twitter has banned one of its most notoriously contentious voices. On Tuesday evening, the microblogging service permanently suspended the account of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, a day after he incited his followers to bombard Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets.

“People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,” a company spokesperson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. “But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”

This is being framed by Yiannopoulos’s supporters as suppression of free speech. These people are very confused about free speech. It’s simple: Yiannopoulos has the right to say and write whatever he wants. But Twitter is not a public resource. In the same way that a coffee shop or restaurant should never allow someone (let alone a mob of people) to harass other patrons, Twitter should not allow it on their service.

So kudos to Twitter for standing up to this troll. But it shouldn’t take a celebrity to drive Twitter to action. Twitter needs to systematically boot harassers at every level.

Joanna Stern on Amazon’s $50 Blu R1 HD Phone 

Joanna Stern, writing for the WSJ:

In life, you get what you pay for.*

*Exceptions: Costco wine, $1 New York City pizza and the Blu R1 HD smartphone, now sold by Amazon for $50. In those cases, the quality of the product far exceeds your low expectations.

Yes, you read that right, there’s an Android 6.0 smartphone that costs less than family dinner at the Olive Garden. It’s cheap, but it’s not, you know, cheap.

There’s a reason for that. Even though Amazon sells the R1 HD for as little as $50, on the open market it starts at $100. Why the discount? Ads. Sorry, “special offers.” Which are ads.

This is a much more Amazon-like phone than the Fire Phone was, and I suspect, more likely to be a success.

Drudge Report: Roger Ailes Leaves Fox News With $40M Parachute Amid Harassment Probe 

Katherine Krueger, writing for TPM:

The conservative link aggregator site Drudge Report reported Tuesday afternoon that Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was leaving his post as an investigation into Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment of employees is underway.

While the site’s signature blaring siren landing page featured the breaking headline, no source was immediately provided.

It would be hard to overstate the influence Ailes held over modern political discourse here in the U.S. Fox News changed the country, and Ailes was Fox News.

As for Drudge’s source — it has to be Rupert Murdoch, or one of his sons.

Update: 21st Century Fox statement on Twitter:

21CF statement: Roger is at work. The review is ongoing. The only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement.

But The New York Times reports that his tenure is all but over.

The Safe Haven of False Equivalence 

Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann, writing for Vox:

In April 2012, we created a major stir in the political world with a long piece in the Washington Post Sunday Outlook section called, “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.” It was adapted from our book published days later, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, and this was our money quote:

The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier in American politics — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

As scholars who had worked for more than four decades with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, we faced a ton of scorn from sitting Republican lawmakers and outside observers for making this argument — and denial from most of the mainstream media. For reporters, professional norms and concerns about accusations of partisan bias dictated that the parties be treated equally, whatever the underlying reality. The safe haven of false equivalence led the press to ignore one of the most consequential developments in contemporary American politics: the radicalization of the Republican Party.

Particularly apt after the opening night of the Republican convention, which saw multiple speakers calling for the opposing party’s candidate to be “locked up”, Russian-style, and an opening benediction — a prayer — that described the opposing party as “enemies”.

‘The Secret History of Mac Gaming’ 

Richard Moss is raising funds to publish what sounds like an amazing and beautiful book, on the history of Mac gaming. Just the list of interviews brings back a flood of memories. The book is at 61 percent of its funding goal as I type this — I’d love to see the DF audience push it over the top.

Update: Now fully-funded. Great news. Can’t wait to read this book.

Trump’s Ghostwriter Speaks 

Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker:

And so Schwartz had returned for more, this time to conduct an interview for Playboy. But to his frustration Trump kept making cryptic, monosyllabic statements. “He mysteriously wouldn’t answer my questions,” Schwartz said. After twenty minutes, he said, Trump explained that he didn’t want to reveal anything new about himself — he had just signed a lucrative book deal and needed to save his best material.

“What kind of book?” Schwartz said.

“My autobiography,” Trump replied.

“You’re only thirty-eight — you don’t have one yet!” Schwartz joked.

“Yeah, I know,” Trump said.

“If I were you,” Schwartz recalls telling him, “I’d write a book called ‘The Art of the Deal.’ That’s something people would be interested in.”

“You’re right,” Trump agreed. “Do you want to write it?”

U.S. Army Special Operations Switching From Android to iPhone 

Matthew Cox, reporting for DoD Buzz:

The iPhone 6S will become the end-user device for the iPhone Tactical Assault Kit — special-operations-forces version Army’s Nett Warrior battlefield situational awareness tool, according to an Army source, who is not authorized to speak to the media. The iTAC will replace the Android Tactical Assault Kit.

The iPhone is “faster; smoother. Android freezes up” and has to be restarted too often, the source said. The problem with the Android is particularly noticeable when viewing live feed from an unmanned aerial system such as Instant Eye, the source said.

When trying to run a split screen showing the route and UAS feed, the Android smart phone will freeze up and fail to refresh properly and often have to be restarted, a process that wastes valuable minutes, the source said.

“It’s seamless on the iPhone,” according to the source. “The graphics are clear, unbelievable.”

Apple couldn’t write a better story themselves.

GlaxoSmithKline to Use ResearchKit for Clinical Research 

Caroline Chen and Alex Webb, reporting for Bloomberg:

GlaxoSmithKline Plc has started a rheumatoid arthritis study using Apple Inc.’s ResearchKit, marking the first time a drugmaker has used the health system for the iPhone to conduct clinical research.

Glaxo wants to record the mobility of 300 participants over three months and will also ask the patients to input both physical and emotional symptoms, such as pain and mood. The app Glaxo created from ResearchKit comes with a guided wrist exercise that uses the phone’s sensors to record motion, giving the drugmaker a standardized measurement across all users. The company will use the results to help design better clinical trials.

I’m curious if they’ll supply participants with loaner iPhones. Or will they only choose participants who already have iPhones?

Update: A little birdie involved with this project says that for this survey, it’s a bring-your-own device situation, and they’re only recruiting participants who can run the app on their own iPhones.

SoftBank Group Nears Deal to Buy ARM Holdings 

Leslie Picker, reporting for the NYT:

SoftBank is nearing a deal to acquire ARM Holdings, the British semiconductor company, said two people briefed on the matter who asked not to be named discussing private information. […]

ARM, which designs chips and parts of chips, had a market capitalization of about $22 billion as of Friday’s close. ARM would be one of SoftBank’s largest acquisitions ever.

CNBC tweeted the price: “more than $32 billion”.

Apple Begins Rolling Out iTunes Match With Audio Fingerprint to Apple Music Subscribers 

Jim Dalrymple:

This is, in fact, the same version of iTunes Match that iTunes users could pay for as a separate subscription since Apple began offering it years ago. I am one of those users. However, all subscribers to Apple Music will get the new version of iTunes Match at no extra cost. This update also means that all Matched songs will download DRM-free.

If you are a current iTunes Match subscriber and subscribe to Apple Music, you can let your Match subscription lapse when it comes up for renewal and still receive the same benefits. If you don’t subscribe to Apple Music and still want the benefits of iTunes Match, hold on to your subscription.

I’m sure there are reasons for the way things are, but from the outside, combining iTunes Match and Apple Music should have been there from day one. It would have made transitioning so much easier and more compelling.

The Talk Show: ‘Mumbles and Grunts’ 

John Moltz returns to the show. Topics include parenting thoughts on controlling the amount of time our kids spend playing games and watching YouTube and Netflix, why Google’s apps for iOS are better than their apps for Android, Chromebooks in schools, Windows Phone’s bright future, Pokemon Go, and more. We also insult the driving abilities of people from Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Canada.

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Notebook From Zoho 

My thanks to Zoho for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Notebook, their new app for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android. It’s a graceful, well-designed, beautiful alternative to Evernote. Notebook uses a few simple metaphors. At the top level are notebooks, which have a huge assortment of cover options. Inside notebooks are cards, with four types: text, pictures, audio recordings, and to-do lists. It’s all very obvious and well structured, and they make great use of gestures to do things like pinch cards together to put them into a stack within a notebook.

It’s a free download, and absolutely worth checking out. A lot of thought and care went into the design and implementation of this app.

Turkey’s President Gives an Interview via FaceTime in the Middle of a Coup 

Matt Novak, writing for Gizmodo:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just gave an interview via FaceTime. The country is in chaos following a military coup that’s still ongoing. The military has declared martial law and is censoring the media networks but Erdogan was on CNN Turkey remotely with a broadcaster holding up her phone facing the cameras. Welcome to the 21st century.

Related: “Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Blocked in Turkey During Reported Coup Attempt”.

Nick Heer on Apple’s Aging Mac Lineup and Slumping Sales 

Nick Heer, writing at Pixel Envy:

MacRumors’ own buyers’ guide shows a “Don’t Buy” indicator below every Mac except the MacBook. Of the current lineup, fully half of all Macs — the Mac Pro, the Retina MacBook Pro, and the MacBook Air — are the most stale that those products have ever been. […]

The Mac Pro hasn’t been substantially updated since the new cylindrical model launched in December of 2013. The pro Macintosh situation is so dire that some designers and developers, like Mike Rundle and Sebastiaan de With, have opted to deal with the moderate hassle of building a “hackintosh” in order to get the performance they need for their work. Critical products like the MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro are well over a year old, too.

Something unusual is certainly going on. We have to get updated MacBook Pros and Mac Pros soon (September?), right?

I don’t think, though, that the MacBook Air will ever get another update. I think it only exists to occupy the sub-$1000 price range until Apple can sell a year-old MacBook for $899. I wouldn’t be shocked if they rolled out a minor speed-bump update to the MacBook Airs, but I don’t expect them to. The future is just MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

Eddy Cue on ‘Skinny Bundles’ of TV Channels, Translated 

Peter Kafka, writing at Recode:

Apple has spent years trying to assemble a “skinny bundle” of TV channels that it could sell directly to consumers. Last year it tried it again. So it was surprising to see Eddy Cue, Apple’s top media exec, tell the Hollywood Reporter today that this isn’t something he’s particularly interested in.

“As a matter of fact, I’m not a big fan of the skinny bundle,” he said, and then went on to argue that the real problem with TV isn’t that people are paying too much for channels and programs they don’t want, but that the tech they use to watch TV isn’t good enough.

Again, this doesn’t square with Apple’s longstanding efforts — led by Cue — to deliver a skinny bundle. I asked Apple to explain the cognitive dissonance, and they referred me back to the Hollywood Reporter piece. So now that we’re done with that exercise, I’m going to suggest that there are some things Cue would say differently if he were speaking to someone privately, instead of in an on-the-record interview.

Here’s my translation.

I think Kafka has this nailed.

Casting Call for Apple’s Upcoming Reality Show, ‘Planet of the Apps’ 

I thought this was weird when it was announced back in March, and I still think it’s weird. Weird too that the website for the show doesn’t mention that Apple itself is a co-producer of the show.

New Ransomware Takes Your Money, Deletes Files Anyway 

Charlie Osborne, writing for ZDNet’s Zero Day:

The malware claims to encrypt victim files, throws up a landing page and demands 0.2BTC before piling on the pressure by claiming that for each click made on the compromised system which is not related to payment, files are deleted.

This, however, is a complete lie.

“There is no longer honor amongst thieves,” Talos noted. “Ranscam simply delete victims’ files, and provides yet another example of why threat actors cannot always be trusted to recover a victim’s files, even if the victim complies with the ransomware author’s demands.”

I’ll bet this really pisses off the “honest” ransomware thieves.

An Open Letter From Technology Sector Leaders on Donald Trump’s Candidacy for President 

Huge list of signatories:

We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy  —  and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.

Meanwhile, Facebook board member Peter Thiel will be speaking at the Republican National Convention, supporting Trump.

Gizmodo Reviews the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin 

Alex Kranz, writing for Gizmodo, wins the award for most presumptuous sentence of the week:

Apple take note, this is what people are actually looking for in a laptop under a thousand bucks.

It’s fascinating how many times MacBooks are mentioned in this review, and yet it doesn’t even mention that the industrial design is a complete rip of Apple’s. MacBooks are simply the standard all PC laptops are measured against.

My take on this Samsung laptop: it sounds like the thick heavy MacBook Pros from like five years ago. Any laptop thick enough for an Ethernet port is too thick.

Google’s Project Fi Now Offers High Speed Data Abroad 

This is a great plan: $10/GB, in the U.S. and abroad. No SIM-swapping nonsense — you just use your phone as usual.

The catch: it’s still only available for three phones.

CNBC: Amazon’s Chinese Counterfeit Problem Is Getting Worse 

I never buy anything labeled “fulfilled by Amazon” — I don’t trust it.

Pokemon Go Drives Nintendo Shares Up 

Pavel Alpeyev and Yuji Nakamura, reporting for Bloomberg:

The company has added more than $7 billion in market value since last week’s debut of a new smartphone app for its Pokemon fantasy monster character franchise. The game, which lets users track down virtual monsters in their vicinity, has topped the free-to-download app charts for Apple in the U.S. and Australia since its release on July 7, according to market researcher App Annie.

Nintendo’s shares responded with their biggest intraday jump since at least 1983, when the stock started trading in Tokyo, climbing as much as 25 percent on Monday. Investors are taking Pokemon’s early success as a sign of things to come for a company that has yet to commit the most popular characters from its Mario or Zelda franchises to mobile gaming apps.

Top-grossing app in the App Store, and the topic of the week (lighthearted topic, at least) on social media.

I’ve been advocating for Nintendo to fully commit to making games for mobile since 2013 (parts one and two). I just re-read both pieces and they both hold up really well. I hate to say it (OK, I love to say it), but it looks like I was right. A few highlights:

Another common refrain I’ve heard this week is that Nintendo’s games are utterly dependent on hardware controls. No argument here that some games are better with real D-pads and physical buttons. (I can’t recall ever once truly enjoying a D-pad style game on the iPhone.) But there are other types of games that are better without D-pads and buttons.

Pokemon Go is a perfect example of this. It’s nothing like a DS game. It’s perfectly native to the phone. Nintendo is the perfect company to take the features and limitations of phones and redefine what mobile games can be.

And:

A kid asking “What’s a Nintendo?” may sound preposterous to the ears of an adult weaned on Mario and Zelda, but trust me, put an iPad Mini and a 3DS on a table next to each other, and most kids today will reach, if not jump, for the iPad. If you don’t see that as an existential threat for Nintendo, there’s nothing I can say that will change your mind. A Nintendo that doesn’t make games for iOS is a Nintendo that doesn’t reach today’s kids; a Nintendo that doesn’t reach today’s kids is a Nintendo with no future.

Keep your eyes open for teenagers and pre-teens using a DS rather than a phone. You’ll have a hard time finding one.

Speaking of Apple and Accessibility 

Katie Dupree has a nice feature at Mashable on 22-year-old Jordyn Castor, who has been blind since birth and now works as an accessibility engineer at Apple:

For Castor, Braille is crucial to her innovative work at Apple — and she insists tech is complementary to Braille, not a replacement.

“I use a Braille display every time I write a piece of code,” she says. “Braille allows me to know what the code feels like.”

In coding, she uses a combination of Nemeth Braille — or “math Braille” — and Alphabetic Braille. Castor even says that with the heavy presence of tech in her life, she still prefers to read meeting agendas in Braille.

“I can see grammar. I can see punctuation. I can see how things are spelled and how things are written out,” she says.

It’s no surprise, but interesting nonetheless, how many of the engineers who work on accessibility features at Apple are themselves users of those features.

Algoriddim: 2016 Apple Design Award Winner 

My thanks to Algoriddim for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They founded the company 10 years ago with the goal of making DJing easier and accessible to everyone. This year they made djay Pro fully accessible for the visually impaired, and as a result, received an Apple Design Award. More remarkable: djay already won an ADA back in 2011. I can’t recall an app that won two ADAs within five years.

If you haven’t already, watch the Apple Design Award video from last month, starting just before the 54m:30s mark. An Apple accessibility engineer who is blind demoed djay Pro, with a very personal story about how his vision declined when he was a teenager, and how he wanted to be a DJ, and how the digital revolution in the DJ world had passed him by until Algoriddim came along. If it doesn’t move you, you’re not hooked up right.

It’s an amazing app, and one of the best examples of a pro app that’s way better suited on an iPad than it ever could be for a Mac.

Jason Snell on the MacOS Sierra Public Beta 

Good advice on whether and how you should install it, and what to look for once you do.

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