Elon Musk and Twitter

Elon Musk, in a letter to Twitter chairman Bret Taylor and filed with the SEC:

I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.

However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.

As a result, I am offering to buy 100% of Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54% premium over the day before I began investing in Twitter and a 38% premium over the day before my investment was publicly announced. My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.

Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.

As of April 4th 2022, Musk already owns 9.1% of twitter shares, and turned down a seat on their board which would have limited him to being allowed to own no more than 15% of the company, he did say yes at first, then backtracked and said no.

The day after the SEC filing, the Twitter board responded with a poison pill. This is basically the board’s way of saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The poison pill consists of a new “shareholder’s rights plan” to give certain shareholders the right to purchase more stock if Musk or another buyer attempts to seize control. And it signals that Twitter’s board intends to fight Musk’s bid to take sole ownership of the company.

Also, Musk isn’t trying to buy Twitter to make money, he wants to open source the company’s algorithm, and frame the whole takeover as a crusade to protect free speach.

If this doesn’t pass, then he’s also threatened to pull his shares due to a lack of confidence in the company’s current leadership, which could see Twitter’s share price tank for a little bit before going back up.

But if the proposal does pass, we could also see a number of accounts leaving the platform in protest as well, so should be interesting.

Update: in a deal valued at $44 billion, Musk and the board have reached a deal that, if it goes through, will see him as the new owner.

Marco Arment on redesigning Overcast

The Overcast Redesign: Part One – Marco.org
marco.org

Overcast’s latest update (2022.2) brings the largest redesign in its nearly-eight-year history, plus many of the most frequently requested features and lots of under-the-hood improvements. I’m pretty proud of this one.

For this first and largest phase of the redesign, I focused on the home screen, playlist screen, typography, and spacing. (I plan to revamp the now-playing and individual-podcast screens in a later update.)

The app looks nicer and feels faster, I’ve been using overcast since it was first released way back in 2014 for all my podcast listening and this update is impressive.

Apple: “An update on AirTag and unwanted tracking”

An update on AirTag and unwanted tracking
Apple announced it has identified even more ways to update AirTag safety warnings and help guard against unwanted tracking of people and property.
www.apple.com

Apple Newsroom’s update on AirTags and malicious tracking:

Every AirTag has a unique serial number, and paired AirTags are associated with an Apple ID. Apple can provide the paired account details in response to a subpoena or valid request from law enforcement. We have successfully partnered with them on cases where information we provided has been used to trace an AirTag back to the perpetrator, who was then apprehended and charged. […]

New privacy warnings during AirTag setup: In an upcoming software update, every user setting up their AirTag for the first time will see a message that clearly states that AirTag is meant to track their own belongings, that using AirTag to track people without consent is a crime in many regions around the world, that AirTag is designed to be detected by victims, and that law enforcement can request identifying information about the owner of the AirTag.

Addressing alert issues for AirPods: We’ve heard from users who have reported receiving an “Unknown Accessory Detected” alert. We’ve confirmed this alert will not display if an AirTag is detected near you — only AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, or a third-party Find My network accessory. In the same software update, we will be updating the alert users receive to indicate that AirPods have been traveling with them instead of an “Unknown Accessory.”

These two points are the biggest points here, “Unknown Accessory Detected” alerts have been a frustration for some people.

Open source developer corrupts widely-used libraries, affecting tons of projects

Open source developer corrupts widely-used libraries, affecting tons of projects
The sabotaged versions produce an endless string of illegible text.
www.theverge.com

A developer appears to have purposefully corrupted a pair of open-source libraries on GitHub and software registry npm — “faker.js” and “colors.js” — that thousands of users depend on, rendering any project that contains these libraries useless.

While it looks like color.js has been updated to a working version, faker.js still appears to be affected, but the issue can be worked around by downgrading to a previous version (5.5.3).

Bleeping Computer found that the developer of these two libraries, Marak Squires, introduced a malignant commit (a file revision on GitHub) to colors.js that adds “a new American flag module,” as well as rolled out version 6.6.6 of faker.js, triggering the same destructive turn of events. The sabotaged versions cause applications to infinitely output strange letters and symbols, beginning with three lines of text that read “LIBERTY LIBERTY LIBERTY.”

[…]

The story doesn’t end there, though. Bleeping Computer dug up one of Squires’ posts on GitHub from November 2020, in which he declares he no longer wants to do free work. “Respectfully, I am no longer going to support Fortune 500s (and other smaller sized companies) with my free work,” he says. “Take this as an opportunity to send me a six figure yearly contract or fork the project and have someone else work on it.”

Squires’ bold move draws attention to the moral — and financial — dilemma of open-source development, which was likely the goal of his actions. A massive number of websites, software, and apps rely on open-source developers to create essential tools and components — all for free. It’s the same issue that results in unpaid developers working tirelessly to fix the security issues in their open-source software, like the Heartbleed scare in 2014 that affected OpenSSL and the more recent Log4Shell vulnerability found in log4j that left volunteers scrambling to fix.

This is an interesting situation, and I can see Marak move opening up a can of worms across the industry, but introducing changes that create infinite loops in software using your library just doesn’t seem a good way to go about things.

Judge orders Apple to allow external payment options for App Store by December 9th, denying stay

Judge orders Apple to allow external payment options for App Store by December 9th, denying stay
The stay is denied.
www.theverge.com

Epic v. Apple judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers says Apple must comply with an order to let developers add links and buttons to external payment options, denying the company’s motion for a stay. “Apple’s motion is based on a selective reading of this Court’s findings and ignores all of the findings which supported the injunction,” her new order reads.

Judge Gonzalez Rogers issued her order after a Tuesday hearing concerning the blockbuster antitrust lawsuit, which Fortnite publisher Epic Games filed in 2020 and which went to trial this year. During the hearing, Apple said it needed more time to rewrite its anti-steering policies — rules that bar app developers from linking to payment methods besides the iOS App Store.

“This will be the first time Apple has ever allowed live links in an app for digital content. It’s going to take months to figure out the engineering, economic, business, and other issues,” said Apple attorney Mark Perry. “It is exceedingly complicated. There have to be guardrails and guidelines to protect children, to protect developers, to protect consumers, to protect Apple. And they have to be written into guidelines that can be explained and enforced and applied.”

[…]

Apple says it plans to appeal to the Ninth Circuit for a stay, since it didn’t get one from Judge Gonzalez Rogers. “Apple believes no additional business changes should be required to take effect until all appeals in this case are resolved. We intend to ask the Ninth Circuit for a stay based on these circumstances,” writes an Apple spokesperson.

Apple arguing the need the time for “substantial engineering” to allow people to start adding buttons and links to outside payment methods hasn’t really been their best argument either.

Eight Things Apple Could Do to Prove It Actually Cares about App Store Users

Eight things Apple could do to prove it actually cares about App Store users
Mind the store
www.theverge.com

When you spend money in Apple’s App Store, the company generally takes a 30 percent cut — one that adds up to an estimated $19 billion per year. Apple’s currently in the fight of its life to prove to judges, government regulators, and its own developers that it deserves those dollars, but not everyone’s buying it anymore.

Over the past seven days alone, South Korea declared its disbelief on the global stage, passing a landmark bill that could keep Apple and Google from directly collecting their 30 percent cut, and may inspire other governments to do the same. Developers also expressed their rage at an Apple press release, where the company spun its agreement to settle a lawsuit for $100 million as a $100 million fund for developers — while quietly promising 30 million of those dollars to the lawyers and enacting no truly significant changes. The CEO of Hopscotch shared her story of how Apple’s App Store review team repeatedly gaslit her, insisting there was an issue with the well-liked kids coding app that didn’t actually exist.

On Wednesday, Apple made a slightly more significant concession for (big) developers, and as Nick Heer writes, the company seems to have momentarily dropped its smug tone. But we don’t need to get into complex developer negotiations to point out the head-bangingly obvious ways Apple is falling down on the job.

While the company claims the App Store is “curated by experts,” that it is “a safe and trusted place to discover and download apps,” and that it holds apps to “the highest standards for privacy, security, and content,” the company’s own emails paint a different picture. They show that Apple knew for years about the exact kind of egregious scams that bilk iPhone users out of millions of dollars, long before our report, and yet they keep failing to stop them from invading the App Store.

It bears repeating: Apple is the most valuable and profitable company in the world. The company currently makes $10,000 every second on average, $3,600 of which is profit, a large portion of which comes from the App Store itself. (The App Store alone has been a bigger business than the Mac or iPad since 2016, see #10 here.)

If Apple wanted to change this system, it could. But I expect Apple will only be dragged kicking and screaming into a world with a more functional App Store, because it seems incapable of taking the blindingly obvious steps that might better protect its users — again, despite being the most valuable and profitable company in the world.

Here are eight to start.

I’ll leave it to you to go read the 8 things but I agree with all 8, Apple needs to do some damage control and build better relations.

Facebook shouldn’t be allowed to buy Giphy, says UK regulator

Facebook shouldn’t be allowed to buy Giphy, says UK regulator
Facebook’s deal to buy the GIF search engine Giphy should be unwound due to competition concerns, according to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.
www.theverge.com

15 months ago, Facebook said it was buying the popular GIF search engine Giphy for about $400 million. Now the acquisition may be a bust, thanks to an antitrust probe by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.

In a preliminary findings report published Thursday, the CMA said the deal should be unwound because it will “negatively impact competition between social media platforms.”

The CMA’s reasoning for wanting to block the Giphy deal is as follows:

“Millions of posts every day on social media sites now include a GIF. Any reduction in the choice or quality of these GIFs could significantly affect how people use these sites and whether or not they switch to a different platform, such as Facebook. As most major social media sites that compete with Facebook use Giphy GIFs, and there is only one other large provider of GIFs – Google’s Tenor – these platforms have very little choice.

The CMA provisionally found that Facebook’s ownership of Giphy could lead it to deny other platforms access to its GIFs. Alternatively, it could change the terms of this access – for example, Facebook could require Giphy customers, such as TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat, to provide more user data in order to access Giphy GIFs. Such actions could increase Facebook’s market power, which is already significant.”

Putting aside the logic that someone would switch to using Facebook because of GIFs (I love GIFs as much as the next person, but come on), the CMA argues that Giphy was in the process of building up an ads business that would have competed with Facebook. It claims that Facebook made Giphy end those plans after it announced the deal, thereby reducing competition in the marketplace.

Facebook has refuted this idea in past submissions to the CMA, citing internal documents it and Giphy both submitted to the agency for the probe. In May, Facebook wrote in a filing to the watchdog that Giphy had “no meaningful audience of its own” and was already “reliant on Facebook for a significant proportion of its user traffic.”

[…]

Whether Facebook is allowed to buy Giphy or not, the scrutiny on this deal shows how Facebook’s era of social media-related acquisitions may be over. Its more recent $1 billion acquisition attempt for Kustomer, a customer service platform for businesses, is under antitrust review in multiple countries and could also be blocked. The only types of acquisitions that Facebook has been able to get away with in the last few years are related to its augmented and virtual reality efforts.

Drew Devault: “In praise of PostgreSQL”

Drew Devault:

After 25 years of persistence, and a better logo design, Postgres stands today as one of the most significant pillars of profound achievement in free software, alongside the likes of Linux and Firefox. PostgreSQL has taken a complex problem and solved it to such an effective degree that all of its competitors are essentially obsolete, perhaps with the exception of SQLite.

For a start, Postgres is simply an incredibly powerful, robust, and reliable piece of software, providing the best implementation of SQL.2 It provides a great deal of insight into its own behavior, and allows the experienced operator to fine-tune it to achieve optimal performance.

It supports a broad set of SQL features and data types, with which I have always been able to efficiently store and retrieve my data. SQL is usually the #1 bottleneck in web applications, and Postgres does an excellent job of providing you with the tools necessary to manage that bottleneck.

Fish and Brewis

Fish and Brewis is a favourite traditional dish from Newfoundland (my home province), it’s a dish that combines Fish, Potatoes, pork, Hardtack, onions, butter and salt.

What you need

  • 4 loaves hard bread
  • 2 lbs cod fish
  • 6 -8 potatoes
  • 1 cup salt pork (or pork belly), finely diced
  • 2 cups onions, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup water
  • Hardtack:
    • 4 -5 cups flour
    • 2 cups water
    • 3 teaspoons salt

How to make it:

We’ll start with the hardtack as that has to be made first:

  1. Mix the flour, water and salt together, and make sure the mixture is fairly dry.
  2. Roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness, and shape it into a rectangle.
  3. Cut it into 3×3 inch squares, and poke holes in both sides.
  4. Place on an un-greased cookie or baking sheet, and cook for 30 minutes per side at 375
  5. When it’s done, you’ll want to let it dry and harden for a few days, just out in the open. When it has the consistency of a brick, it’s fully cured. Then simply store it in an airtight container or bucket.

To prepare for eating, soak it in water or milk for about 15 minutes, and then fry in a buttered skillet. You can eat it with cheese, soup or just plain with a little salt added. Any way you do it, it’s delicious!

Now, let’s make the rest:

  1. Soak hardtack overnight in cold water
  2. Soak cod overnight in large pot of water as well.
  3. In the morning, drain cod water and soak with fresh water.
  4. Once you are ready to cook, place potatoes in the same pot as the cod and simmer gently until cooked
  5. Remove from heat and drain.
  6. Heat hardtack slowly until it comes to a boil and drain.
  7. There are two toppings with Fish and Brewis: Drawn butter and Scrunchins
  8. Drawn Butter:
    1. Melt butter
    2. Add onions and fry until soft
    3. Add Water, bring to a boil and then add flour to thicken.
  9. Scrunchins:
    1. Place salt pork (or pork belly) in frying pan.
    2. Heat over medium heat until grease is drawn from the salt pork.
    3. Add onions and then cook until tender.
  10. Serve and enjoy.

Google will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to offices

Google will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to offices
Starting with US workers “in the coming weeks.”
www.theverge.com

Google will require that employees be vaccinated before they’re allowed to return to the company’s offices, CEO Sundar Pichai announced today in a letter obtained by The New York Times.

The announcement marks Google as one of the first major technology companies to require that employees be vaccinated before they return to work. The news comes as part of a new wave of vaccination requirements this week, spurred by the Biden administration reportedly planning to announce a requirement for federal workers to either be vaccinated or face frequent testing for COVID-19 sometime on Thursday.

Google’s vaccination requirement will reportedly apply to workers at US offices “in the coming weeks” and to other regions “in the coming months,” per the NYT.

Additionally, Google will be delaying its official return to offices from sometime in September to October 18th, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spike across the United States. It joins Apple, which also postponed the end of its remote working policy to “October at the earliest” over similar COVID concerns.

This isn’t really a surprise, it’s really only a matter of time before other companies follow the same decision before going back to offices.