Da Notch

Over at The Verge (from last month), Nick Slatt thinks Google failed to justify the Pixel 3 XL’s massive notch:

You may hate notches, and I may be preaching to the choir here by complaining about Google’s. But I don’t hate them. In fact, I’m a fan if the trade-off is for some features I enjoy, and I’m completely ambivalent to the existence of screen cutouts from an aesthetic standpoint, up until a certain point. I’ve used an iPhone X since it first came out; I never noticed or really cared about the notch when I first switched, and I still don’t today. I’m using an iPhone XS as I write this. But a notch should, at the very least, serve some purpose. It should have a good reason to be there, and Google didn’t really have a strong one to offer yesterday.

This is really simple. The iPhone X immediately made all pocket computers without edge-to-edge displays look outdated.

That’s all the reason any company needs to make a device with a notch and an edge-to-edge display. After I bought my iPhone X last year, I remember going back to my iPhone 6 Plus and being shocked how weird and outdated the old, rectangular screen looked.

In fact, let’s give credit where it’s due to the first device with a notch and an edge-to-edge display: The Essential Phone. It was announced 4 months before the iPhone X dropped in 2017.

Although the Essential Phone was first-to-market with a notch, it’s unlikely its existence would have put much pressure on Apple if they had released a rectangular-screened iPhone X given the Essential Phone’s shitty sales and subsequent folding.

I don’t think many people outside the geek community even knew of the Essential Phone’s existence.

A, B, C, D – Always Be Collecting Data

It turns out that Facebook could in fact use data collected from its Portal in-home video device to target you with ads:

Facebook announced Portal last week, its take on the in-home, voice-activated speaker to rival competitors from Amazon, Google and Apple.

The biggest question surrounding the device: Why should anyone trust Facebook enough to put Facebook-powered microphones and video cameras in their living room or kitchen? Given Facebook’s year of privacy and security issues, privacy around the device — including what data Facebook collects and how it’s used — has been an important part of the story surrounding Portal.

That’s why we need to update our reporting.

Last Monday, we wrote: “No data collected through Portal — even call log data or app usage data, like the fact that you listened to Spotify — will be used to target users with ads on Facebook.”

We wrote that because that’s what we were told by Facebook executives.

But Facebook has since reached out to change its answer: Portal doesn’t have ads, but data about who you call and data about which apps you use on Portal can be used to target you with ads on other Facebook-owned properties.

Shocking! A company making money through targeted ads based on the profiles of over 2 billion active Facebook users might use that data to help their bottom line.

The longer Facebook is around the creepier it reveals itself to be.

The Dirtiest Block in San Francisco

Over at The New York Times, Thomas Fuller reports on the 300 block of Hyde Street, the dirtiest block in San Francisco:

Just a 15-minute walk away are the offices of Twitter and Uber, two companies that along with other nameplate technology giants have helped push the median price of a home in San Francisco well beyond $1 million.

This dichotomy of street crime and world-changing technology, of luxury condominiums and grinding, persistent homelessness, and the dehumanizing effects for those forced to live on the streets provoke outrage among the city’s residents. For many who live here it’s difficult to reconcile San Francisco’s liberal politics with the misery that surrounds them.

I live in San Francisco and the income gap is staggering.

I’ll concede that the 300 block of Hyde Street is the dirtiest in the city, but there are many neighborhoods covered by entire lengths of sidewalk full of pitched tents, with homeless people staggering about.

For years I’ve darkly joked living in San Francisco feels like I’m in an episode of The Walking Dead. It’s hardly a hyperbolic statement.

Update: This Times article has over 1,000 comments. Here’s one from Patrick Ecker:

There’s an app the city has for reporting homeless encampments and
other quality of life issues, called 311.

In the month of August ALONE, I reported about 600 encampments. SIX
HUNDRED. And on September 1, there was ZERO noticeable difference. I
emailed the mayor, my police captain (Gaetano Caltagirone), and my
supervisor (Rafael Mandelman). I heard back from Rafael (who is
generally very responsive), but not the mayor’s office or the police.

I have a wife and son, and I worry every day for their safety.

Banksy Painting Self-Destructs

Banksy Painting Self-Destructs After Fetching $1.4 Million at Sotheby’s:

LONDON — The British street artist Banksy pulled off one of his most spectacular pranks on Friday night, when one of his trademark paintings appeared to self-destruct at Sotheby’s in London after selling for $1.4 million at auction.

The work, “Girl With Balloon,” a 2006 spray paint on canvas, was the last lot of Sotheby’s “Frieze Week” evening contemporary art sale. After competition between two telephone bidders, it was hammered down by the auctioneer Oliver Barker for 1 million pounds, more than three times the estimate and a new auction high for a work solely by the artist, according to Sotheby’s.

“Then we heard an alarm go off,” Morgan Long, the head of art investment at the London-based advisory firm the Fine Art Group, who was sitting in the front row of the room, said in an interview on Saturday. “Everyone turned round, and the picture had slipped through its frame.”

The painting, mounted on a wall close to a row of Sotheby’s staff members, had been shredded by a remote-control mechanism on the back of the frame.

So great.

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Art

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LG’s “hybrid” smartwatch

Engadget’s headline: LG’s first hybrid smartwatch is mix of ambition and compromise

Ok, that smartwatch represents neither ambition nor compromise, that’s called shitty design. It looks like something a freshman year product design student would turn in for their first assignment.

You’re not convinced yet? Check out this tweet from Avi Greengart showing the flapping watch hands in action. That’s straight up hilarious.

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Chinese spies, comprimised supply chains, and hacked servers.

The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies:

One country in particular has an advantage executing this kind of attack: China, which by some estimates makes 75 percent of the world’s mobile phones and 90 percent of its PCs. Still, to actually accomplish a seeding attack would mean developing a deep understanding of a product’s design, manipulating components at the factory, and ensuring that the doctored devices made it through the global logistics chain to the desired location—a feat akin to throwing a stick in the Yangtze River upstream from Shanghai and ensuring that it washes ashore in Seattle. “Having a well-done, nation-state-level hardware implant surface would be like witnessing a unicorn jumping over a rainbow,” says Joe Grand, a hardware hacker and the founder of Grand Idea Studio Inc. “Hardware is just so far off the radar, it’s almost treated like black magic.”

But that’s just what U.S. investigators found: The chips had been inserted during the manufacturing process, two officials say, by operatives from a unit of the People’s Liberation Army. In Supermicro, China’s spies appear to have found a perfect conduit for what U.S. officials now describe as the most significant supply chain attack known to have been carried out against American companies.

Are we living in an action movie with Bruce Willis?

Categories:

Technology

Donald Trump, self-made liar and thief.

A solid piece of investigative journalism from The New York Times on the “self-made” empire of Donald Trump:

President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.

But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

Just another reminder that Donald Trump is a liar and a thief.

Categories:

Business, Finance, Tromp

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Monster in the Closet

Despite the economic recovery, student debtors’ ‘monster in the closet’ has only worsened:

Ten years after the 2008 financial crisis, there are headlines of record low unemployment and a booming economy. Yet one area has only worsened over the decade and threatens that recovery: student debt. Average debt at graduation is currently around $30,000, up from $10,000 in the early 1990s. The country’s outstanding student loan balance is projected to swell to $2 trillion by 2022, and experts say a large portion of it is unlikely to ever be repaid; nearly a quarter of student loan borrowers are currently in a state of delinquency or default. Because of these loans, many Americans are unable to buy houses and cars, start businesses and families, save or invest.

Wall Street gets fat bailouts but not students. Seems totally fair to me.

Categories:

Education

Venom McGregor

Tom Hardy based Venom character on Conor McGregor:

Tom Hardy has discussed his decision to base a Venom character on Conor McGregor, telling RTÉ Entertainment it was largely because the Irish MMA fighter “wants to have a scrap with everybody”.

Hardy makes it clear the character traits he’s based off of McGregor he’s internalized along with an amalgam of other characters.

Don’t expect to watch the movie and see him mimicking Conor.

Categories:

Film

Instagram co-founders step down.

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are stepping down:

Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re now ready for our next chapter.

We’re planning on leaving Instagram to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.

We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next.

—Kevin Systrom, Co-Founder & CEO

You don’t need to read headlines to know kids have been ditching Facebook in record numbers for quite a while now. Most of the social media action is on Instagram (owned by Facebook) and Snapchat.

The departure of the Instagram co-founders isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, but at the same time no platform lasts forever.

Huawei the Copycat

Huawei has replaced Samsung as the top Apple Ripoff Artist. Let’s also not forget they’ve been caught trying to pass off DSLR pictures as phone camera samples.

But for now, check out Huawei’s latest nova 3 phones compared to the iPhone X Apple released just last September:

Huawei doesn’t stop at copying the hardware. They copy the product photography styles and angles too.

But why stop there? Why not copy the wallpaper styles too:

I wouldn’t be able to feel proud of my work if all it entailed was reacting to what other people made and trying to copy it as closely as possible.

Yesterday was Apple’s Keynote where they announced the new iPhone Xs. I’m curious how long it will take Huawei to update their own product line to match.

Categories:

Influencer

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