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‘But the Plans Were on Display…’

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From Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

“But the plans were on display…”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

DF reader Brian Ashe sent this, correctly pointing out that it pretty much nails Google’s approach to turning off location tracking.

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joelowrance
100 days ago
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satadru
85 days ago
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Somewhat unrelated, perhaps one of the best descriptions of privilege ever put onto paper is Hitchhiker's description of having a towel:

'More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase which has passed into hitch hiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is."'
New York, NY

Does Google’s Duplex Violate Two-Party Consent Laws?

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Devin Coldewey, writing for TechCrunch:

“It may be possible with careful design to extract the features you need without keeping the original, in a way where it’s mathematically impossible to recreate the recording,” Kortz said.

If that process is verifiable and there’s no possibility of eavesdropping — no chance any Google employee, law enforcement officer, or hacker could get into the system and intercept or collect that data — then potentially Duplex could be deemed benign, transitory recording in the eye of the law.

That assumes a lot, though. Frustratingly, Google could clear this up with a sentence or two. It’s suspicious that the company didn’t address this obvious question with even a single phrase, like Sundar Pichai adding during the presentation that “yes, we are compliant with recording consent laws.” Instead of people wondering if, they’d be wondering how.

This is one scenario I’m imagining for Google’s [complete refusal to answer any questions][a] related to the Duplex phone calls it has released — that they were actual Duplex calls to actual businesses (the one to Hong’s Gourmet almost certainly was, in my opinion), recorded without consent. Someone who works at the one restaurant we know Duplex called told Mashable they weren’t aware in advance.

This wouldn’t send anyone to prison, but it would be a bit of an embarrassment, and would reinforce the notion that Google has a cavalier stance on privacy (and adhering to privacy laws).

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joelowrance
187 days ago
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Slooooooow week in Apple news.
steingart
187 days ago
No shit. Oof.
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‘Nobody Is Going to Buy It’

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Keris Lahiff, writing for CNBC:

Fiercer competition and an inflated belief in its own products are among some of the challenges facing the world’s largest company, according to BK Asset Management’s Boris Schlossberg.

“I do think they’re in trouble. I think they’re making a huge mistake,” Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy, told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Tuesday. “They’re basically betting on the fact that high expensive products can be sold at this point and it’s clearly becoming evident that everybody has caught up to them in the marketplace.”

Schlossberg’s concerns over Apple pricing resurfaced ahead of the launch of its Siri-connected artificial-intelligence home device, the HomePod. With a $349 price tag, its latest product is far more expensive than its major competitors, including Amazon’s Alexa-equipped Echo or Google’s Home Mini.

“Nobody is going to buy it at the price that they’re putting it out right now because the functionality of those products is just nowhere near as great as it needs to be relative to the price difference,” said Schlossberg.

Noted for future claim chowder.

HomePod is one of the most interesting new Apple products in years, insofar as I really don’t know how it’s going to sell. If most people see it as a direct competitor to Amazon Echos and Google Home dinguses, HomePod might be in trouble, because it’s a lot more expensive and has fewer features. But Apple has been positioning it as, first and foremost, a high-quality music player. The Siri-as-personal-assistant/smart-home-controller is secondary to audio quality. If there’s a market for that, HomePod could clean up. $350 is a low price in the audio world.

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joelowrance
301 days ago
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They've been positioning it as a high quality music player? News to me, and I thought I was paying attention.
bricker
301 days ago
All of the promo stuff last year was trumpeting its 7 speakers and some custom audio “shaping” adaptation it will do based on room geometry, so I think Gruber’s characterization is fair.
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jhamill
300 days ago
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Apple has been positioning the HomePod? Nobody I know even knows it exists.
California

Google Disables Button on Home Mini in Response to Privacy Bug

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Matt Weinberger, writing for Business Insider:

Google is permanently disabling a feature on the forthcoming Google Home Mini smart speaker after a reviewer discovered that it was surreptitiously recording his conversations without his knowledge or consent.

The issue, Google says, was that the button on top of the device was faulty and would sometimes activate on its own. In response, Google acknowledged the bug and issued a software update that would disable that button for all users while it explored a long-term fix.

I try not to play the “What if this were Apple?” card often, but come on. This is ludicrous.

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wmorrell
403 days ago
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“Oh, so advancing speech recognition technology by decades with a massive training corpus of candid speech is considered evil now?” — some Google engineer, probably. Yes I know they officially quit using the “don’t be evil” motto years ago.
joelowrance
404 days ago
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I'm probably naive,but if it was Apple? I'd believe it actually was an accident.
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Steven Levy: ‘How Apple Is Putting Voices in Users’ Heads — Literally’

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Steven Levy:

My conversation with Mathias Bahnmueller started as pretty much all my phone interviews do. “Can you hear me?” he asked, and I replied affirmatively. Then I asked him the same question. His answer was yes — he could hear me very clearly. And this was a tiny miracle.

That’s because Bahnmueller suffers from hearing loss so severe that a year ago he underwent surgery to install a cochlear implant — an electronic device in the inner ear that replaces the usual hearing mechanism. Around a million patients have undergone this increasingly mainstream form of treatment, and that’s just a fraction of those who could benefit from it. (Of the 360 million people worldwide with hearing loss, about 10 percent would qualify for the surgery.) “For those who reach a point where hearing aids no longer help, this is the only solution,” says Allison Biever, an audiologist in Englewood, CO who works with implant patients. “It’s like restoring a signal in a radio station.”

With this new integration, the iPhone transmits directly to the cochlear implant. It’s like a bionic ear:

Merging medical technology like Apple’s is a clear benefit to those needing hearing help. But I’m intrigued by some observations that Dr. Biever, the audiologist who’s worked with hearing loss patients for two decades, shared with me. She says that with this system, patients have the ability to control their sound environment in a way that those with good hearing do not — so much so that she is sometimes envious. How cool would it be to listen to a song without anyone in the room hearing it? “When I’m in the noisiest of rooms and take a call on my iPhone, I can’t hold my phone to ear and do a call,” she says. “But my recipient can do this.”

I’m a sucker for a good accessibility story.

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joelowrance
476 days ago
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internetionals
476 days ago
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Apple really is one of the most accessibility oriented device and software makers around.
Netherlands

Group Led by Laurene Powell Jobs Acquires Majority Stake in The Atlantic

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Gillian B. White, reporting for The Atlantic:

David G. Bradley, the chairman and owner of Atlantic Media, is announcing this morning that he is selling a majority stake in The Atlantic to Emerson Collective, an organization led by philanthropist and investor Laurene Powell Jobs. Bradley will retain a minority stake in The Atlantic and will continue as chairman and operating partner for at least three to five years. In a letter to his staff, Bradley wrote that Emerson Collective will most likely assume full ownership of The Atlantic within five years.

Reminds me of Jeff Bezos’s acquisition of The Washington Post — a wealthy steward who can bankroll essential and good journalism.

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joelowrance
480 days ago
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...or Chris Hughes' acquisition of The New Republic
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