Send as text message in iOS 10

Michael Tsai:

I found several forum posts, but the only solution seems to be to temporarily turn off iMessage, which seems like a terrible solution because it means that you won’t be able to receive iMessages from anyone else in the interim. Worse, the iMessages will look to the sender like they got delivered because they’ll still go to your Mac or iPad.

Ideally, there would be a way to simply start a new conversation using SMS even though there is an iMessage account associated with that phone number.

I absolutely agree. A text message is preferred when reception is spotty, and this whole thing gets very confusing when your talking to someone who has an iMessage account separate from their phone number and a phone number with SMS.

Mike Pence went to see Hamilton

From the New York Times:

As the play ended, the actor who played Aaron Burr, Brandon Victor Dixon, acknowledged that Mr. Pence was in the audience, thanked him for attending and added, “We hope you will hear us out.”

I don’t support this – Mike Pence is a paying customer to a see a play, and he should be treated by the establishment as equally as possible. Even if the message is fairly innocuous, I don’t think this was a classy move to do without Mike Pence’s approval. However, with regards to:

When Mr. Pence entered the Richard Rodgers Theater in Manhattan, he was greeted with a mix of clapping and booing, according to theatergoers who posted on Twitter.

While I don’t support this treatment of the vice-president elect, I think this is a fair expression of the theater-goers First Amendment rights – if Mike Pence is free to express his anti-gay beliefs, which he is and he should be, he also must face the public, especially metropolitan, opposition to these views.

Donald Trump and the Paris Accord

Donald Trump has appeared to or has been characterized as pulling back on his promises to “build a wall”, “drain the swamp”, “lock her up”, and more. But if there’s any campaign promise I want him to pull back on, it’s not implementing the Paris Accord. From Democracy Now!:

As Democracy Now! broadcasts from the U.N. climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco, we report that nearly 200 nations have agreed on a proclamation that declares implementation of the Paris climate accord to be an “urgent duty.” This comes just over a week after the election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to pull the United states out of the Paris Agreement and has called climate change a Chinese-created hoax. Meanwhile, climate activists staged protests targeting corporate sponsors of the climate talks.

Even if there were a plausible case for skepticism in man-made global climate change, the gamble of potentially making large swaths of land uninhabitable and unarable is not worth the risk.

iPhones send call history to Apple if you’ve enabled iCloud

The Intercept reported via a digital forensics firm that iPhones with iCloud enabled send user’s call history to Apple servers:

Russian digital forensics firm Elcomsoft has found that Apple’s mobile devices automatically send a user’s call history to the company’s servers if iCloud is enabled — but the data gets uploaded in many instances without user choice or notification.

“You only need to have iCloud itself enabled” for the data to be sent, said Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft.

This can be justified. Apple do a number of things with your phone call: they allow you to answer calls on any of your devices, they allow third parties to make VoIP calls that look and feel like normal phone calls, for instance. Apple’s response:

“We offer call history syncing as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices,” an Apple spokesperson said in an email. “Device data is encrypted with a user’s passcode, and access to iCloud data including backups requires the user’s Apple ID and password. Apple recommends all customers select strong passwords and use two-factor authentication.”

It is still technically accessible to law enforcement via a subpoena, but granted, I believe this is true anyway given that carriers would happily provide call logs too. The mistake Apple made here is not in the actual behavior of the phone, but in the disclosure to users. This should have been made clear to the user, or at least found in their famously long agreements.

ProPublica exposes professors being hired by corporations to justify their mergers.

The most straightforward example of corporate purchase of academic economic research in their favor that ProPublica found was Dennis Carlton:

Dennis Carlton, a self-effacing economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and one of Compass Lexecon’s experts on the AT&T-Time Warner merger, charges at least $1,350 an hour. In his career, he has made about $100 million, including equity stakes and non-compete payments, ProPublica estimates. Carlton has written reports or testified in favor of dozens of mergers, including those between AT&T-SBC Communications and Comcast-Time Warner, and three airline deals: United-Continental, Southwest-Airtran, and American-US Airways.

This is the elitism that is the source of America’s growing populism, with academic class gorging themselves on corporate-funded and government subsidized hit-peice publications that justify decisions that benefit that same academic, political, banker, and corporate class. The politicians making the most noise about this are hugely popular: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ron Paul, and Donald Trump come immediately to mind. ProPublica continue:

In addition, politicians such as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren have criticized big mergers for giving a handful of companies too much clout. President-elect Trump said in October that his administration would not approve the AT&T-Time Warner merger “because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

The merge has the same affect as trade deals: while it’s true that a broad view of the economy shows that there’s more capital in the system, it disproportionally benefits the rich and punishes the poor. Democrats and Republicans alike have been increasingly cozy with ex-corporate interest “independent” lobbyists which later become politicians themselves before getting hired by a corporation again. Obama in 2008 had a populist message, and moving to 2016 he’s become everything people didn’t vote for: bigger trade deals and bigger mergers and acquisitions:

A late Obama administration push to scrutinize major deals notwithstanding, the government over the past several decades has pulled back on merger enforcement.

The rest of the article explores how Apple’s iBooks price fixing scandal and the AT&T/Time Warner deal are examples of being technically advantageous to the United States on grounds that while the customers face a bigger burden, the corporation can take advantage of efficiencies to deliver more value to shareholders. And if this difference is net positive, they argue, it is a good merger. But this is false because empowering the people at the base of the economy with competition for cost and features is better for more people and has broader positive economic effects. When consumers have more money, they can afford more, take a chance at starting a business, have a kid, and many more positive outcomes. But when a very narrow group of executives, politicians, and academics funnel more money into their accounts by taking advantage of efficiencies in economics of scale, they’re actually delivering capital to where it is least needed. ProPublica conclude:

Today, AT&T’s much grander takeover of Time Warner will be an early test case for president-elect Trump, who feuded during the campaign with CNN, a Time Warner property.

If Trump blocks the deal, I hope it’s the first in a series of good decisions; if he allows the deal, he’ll have completely repudiated his claim that he’ll “drain the swamp.” Ideally, the populist liberals and conservatives in all the branches of government can unify to fight this establishment corporatism.

Facebook promises its users more censorship

Facebook via TechCrunch:

We take misinformation on Facebook very seriously. We value authentic communication, and hear consistently from those who use Facebook that they prefer not to see misinformation. In Newsfeed we use various signals based on community feedback to determine which posts are likely to contain inaccurate information, and reduce their distribution. In Trending we look at a variety of signals to help make sure the topics being shown are reflective of real-world events, and take additional steps to prevent false or misleading content from appearing. Despite these efforts we understand there’s so much more we need to do, and that is why it’s important that we keep improving our ability to detect misinformation. We’re committed to continuing to work on this issue and improve the experiences on our platform.

It’s amazing how straightfacedly and unironically this VP admits to and endorses censorship, as though they have some unique access to the truth, like the solution to Trump getting elected is even more media control. But to their point, it’s their platform, and they can control the flow of information all they want, to me it’s another reason not to use Facebook.

It should’ve been President Sanders

While the result of the presidential election is upsetting to me on grounds of many of my personal beliefs – namely, that anthropogenic climate change is an existential threat to humanity, that everyone should be allowed to live the life they want with whoever they love, that a country as wealthy as the United States should guarantee its citizens healthcare as a human right, among others – I’m pleased because it was a triumph for democracy.

The reason the Republicans won is that even though almost every establishment figure was wary of Trump, when the results of their primary came in, Republicans did the right thing for democracy and accepted it, however reluctantly or reservedly. Contrastingly, the Democrats impeded Sanders at every step of the way, preemptively blaming him for Clinton’s loss, threatening him, slandering him, and otherwise fudging their primary to the favor of Clinton. Is it any surprise then that it resulted in a candidate that no one wanted. Before you demonize me and profess your passion for Clinton, consider that Trump didn’t win so much as Clinton lost. Look at the voter turnout of 2008, 2012, and 2016, and you’ll see that it shows that Republicans had a typical showing, and that no Democrats came to the polls. Even if some people are passionate about Clinton, the Democratic primary still failed to pick a popular candidate because establishment politicians forced their candidate through with super delegates, manipulation of the media, and threats, and these people are the ones responsible for letting Trump win.

If Democrats continue to blame third-party candidates, “Bernie-bros”, the FBI, Russians, WikiLeaks, whoever, for the failing of their top-down chosen candidate to garner popular support, they’ll continue to lose elections. If Democrats continue to retort to Republicans concerns about terrorism and immigration with “that’s racist”, they’re not going to convince voters as much as they’re going to silence them, because even if it’s true it’s an unpersuasive argument. This will only distort the polls, fail to convince people, and the Democrats will continue to lose election. If the Democrats continue to garner “right side of history” support using identity politics, they’ll alienate rural and suburban people who vote on economic and foreign policy issues, and they’ll continue to lose elections. Before you label me or any Trump voter a racist, which is the type of moralizing blame-shifting that’s losing Democrats elections, consider that the Rust Belt and Bible Belt voters chose Obama, an anti-establishment populist Democratic, twice over a white conservative establishment figure. Those people aren’t white supremacists, they’re the backbone of our country, and if Democrats continue to treat democracy with contempt, it won’t matter that the Democrats automatically get 55 delegates from California, they’ll continue to lose elections.

I’m pleased with the result of the election despite being upset with the winner because Democrats deserved to lose for their blatant disregard for the will of the people, the only legitimate source of power.

Self-hosted content versus centralized third-party services

Andy Baio via Ben Brooks

Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.

While I may cross-post some content to Apple News, Medium, and other services as they spring up — I won’t cross post everything and I certainly don’t trust those sites to ever be more than a passing fad. Having my own site gives me complete control to do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want. I don’t understand why people ever want it any other way.

This is right on the money: I haven’t been on the Internet as a browser or producer for even a fraction of its total life, and I’ve still seen the rise and fall of many websites. MySpace, Digg, Friendster … there is no reason to believe that the trendy publishing platforms of today will be around tomorrow, in fact quite the contrary. While I take this to be an argument against using these services and have no desire to change, I do suspect that this is a somewhat selfish and hermetic Internet existence, where many people would argue Internet introverts have a lot more to gain from centralized platforms than they’re giving up. Specifically, because it’s centralized, the audience is centralized, discovery is easier, and the value of the interactions that happen while the site is live far outweigh the risks of losing that data or ability once the service invariable tanks, either by shutting down or with some insipid monetization scheme.

Perhaps, perhaps not.

More Samsung recalls

NBC News via John Gruber:

Samsung has one more fire to put out: The South Korean company announced on Friday that it was recalling 2.8 million top-load washing machines, following reports of “impact injuries” that included a broken jaw.

The problem stems from unbalanced drums, which can separate from the washer and generate enough internal force to cause other parts of the washer to detach — and, in some cases, be launched out of the machine.

Samsung is also the subject of an August lawsuit from owners who said their machines “explode during normal use.” via Macrumors via /r/apple

Apple was No. 1 by a mile in smartphone operating profit in Q3. Among major vendors, Samsung was No. 2 in smartphone profits with a tiny 0.9% share, he said. Money-losers in the smartphone business last quarter included LG and HTC […].

Perhaps Samsung should cut their losses, play to their strengths, and enter the very lucrative munitions industry. Snark aside, I’m amazed they turned any profit at all after their Note 7 debacle, and in the interest of healthy competition I hope they rebound quickly. I’d still argue their biggest problem isn’t their exploding phones, it’s their operating system, if they had an OS that could even shine a light on iOS in terms of battery efficiency, their batteries wouldn’t need to be nearly as big or would last twice as long.