Month: June 2017

Big scoop for Mike Isaac, New York Times:

Travis Kalanick stepped down Tuesday as chief executive of Uber, the ride-hailing service that he helped found in 2009 and that he built into a transportation colossus, after a shareholder revolt made it untenable for him to stay on at the company.

Mr. Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential.

And a rather excellent piece from the Financial Times’ Alphaville blog:

Uber Technologies Inc is an eight-year-old taxi company based in San Francisco. Its backers include some of the world’s smartest technology investors, like Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The company is at a crossroads. We are looking for a chief executive to replace our famously aggressive founder, who remains on the board and retains a ton of voting rights. Candidates will need to demonstrate experience in putting lipstick on pigs, putting out dumpster fires and leading businesses as they pivot from ‘hot mess’ to ‘performatively woke’.

Just a week ago, Kalanick took what was then a “leave of absence” of indeterminate length; now, he’s out. But unfortunately, even though he’s no longer CEO, Kalanick will still be on the board and, therefore, in a position of power. I’m sure that Uber’s culture has been created from the top down, and Kalanick’s continued board membership, voting rights, and founder status allow him to still be a figurehead for the company.

If he is involved in picking a replacement that is a good “cultural fit”, I doubt there will be many substantive changes. Uber’s internal culture is aptly named — it’s like a toxic mold, and will persist so long as any trace of it remains at the company. They can go through the motions of implementing Eric Holder’s recommendations, but nothing will make a real difference until their people commit to a completely different mental perspective.

Update: It’s worth pointing out that, while Uber has faced constant controversy since it launched, you can draw a direct link between Susan Fowler’s February post and Kalanick’s ousting.

Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu, Gizmodo:

If you’re daydreaming about buying a home or need to lower the payment on the one you already have, you might pay a visit to the Quicken Loans mortgage calculator. You’ll be asked a quick succession of questions that reveal how much cash you have on hand or how much your home is worth and how close you are to paying it off. Then Quicken will tell you how much you’d owe per month if you got a loan from them and asks for your name, email address, and phone number.

You might fill in the contact form, but then have second thoughts. Do you really want to tell this company how much you’re worth or how in debt you are? You change your mind and close the page before clicking the Submit button and agreeing to Quicken’s privacy policy.

But it’s too late. Your email address and phone number have already been sent to a server at “,” which is owned by NaviStone, a company that advertises its ability to unmask anonymous website visitors and figure out their home addresses. NaviStone’s code on Quicken’s site invisibly grabbed each piece of your information as you filled it out, before you could hit the “Submit” button.

Quicken is just one of over a hundred websites known by BuiltWith that use NaviStone. This technique seems completely unethical to me, but NaviStone isn’t the only company providing tracking services for partially-completed form data: FormStack — which cites Delta Airlines, Netflix, Twitter, and Stanford as clients — highlights their version of the feature on their website. Gravity Forms, a popular WordPress plugin, has available a partial entries add-on. FormRescue has on its homepage a demo of cancelling a form entry and being opted into an email marketing list — something that’s entirely illegal in Canada.

Some of this functionality is optional, such as the Gravity Forms add-on and the FormStack functionality. But you, as a user, would never know which websites you visit are using scripts like these to disclose your partially-completed form entries to third parties without your explicit consent.

The last time anyone wrote about Apple’s “plumbers”, that I can recall, was in 2009, when Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz called them the “Gestapo” in his usual tone of moderation and subtlety.

Today, though, William Turton of the Outline has the big scoop:

A recording of an internal briefing at Apple earlier this month obtained by The Outline sheds new light on how far the most valuable company in the world will go to prevent leaks about new products.

The briefing, titled “Stopping Leakers – Keeping Confidential at Apple,” was led by Director of Global Security David Rice, Director of Worldwide Investigations Lee Freedman, and Jenny Hubbert, who works on the Global Security communications and training team.

I can’t wait for Thurton to have leaked to him the audio from the investigation into this leaked anti-leaking audio. Got that? Good.

If you’ve been following Apple for any length of time, you might have noticed how little leaked for WWDC this year, as compared to previous years. Specific details — seven tweeters and a woofer, a Mac Pro-esque design, and so on — of the HomePod were known beforehand, but that sort of thing tends to come from the supply chain. In recent years, though, the balance between supply chain leaks and corporate leaks has apparently changed:

However, Rice says, Apple has cracked down on leaks from its factories so successfully that more breaches are now happening on Apple’s campuses in California than its factories abroad. “Last year was the first year that Apple [campuses] leaked more than the supply chain,” Rice tells the room. “More stuff came out of Apple [campuses] last year than all of our supply chain combined.”

I wonder if Apple is including in this the prerelease peek of the black Milanese Loop band, the prerelease ads for the iPhone 7, and the framework leak of the TouchBar-equipped MacBook Pros. Other than those secrecy blunders, it still seems like the vast majority of leaks originate on the assembly line, even recently.

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch:

PayPal announced this morning a plan to speed up money transfers between its service, Venmo and users’ bank accounts for those with supported MasterCard and Visa debit cards. This new “instant transfers” service will be available at a rate of $0.25 per transaction, and will deliver funds in a matter of minutes, instead of the day or so it typically takes when using PayPal or Venmo.

PayPal has been operating in the peer-to-peer payments business for nearly two decades, but the company has been more recently challenged by a number of newcomers, like Square Cash, for example, whose key advantage has been the ability to “cash out” to your bank account instantly.

PayPal says that they’re going to launch this ahead of the peer-to-peer Apple Pay support arriving with iOS 11, which will presumably launch in September. One of the hangups of peer-to-peer Apple Pay — when compared to, say, Square Cash — is that transferred funds sit on a virtual spending card in Wallet, instead of being immediately sent to a connected bank account.

No word on whether instant transfers, as with pretty much all of the popular peer-to-peer payment apps, will be a U.S.-only feature; I certainly hope it will launch worldwide. I still use PayPal for a few things, and I appreciate any way I’m able to treat it as a silent bridge between my bank account and places where I send and receive money.

Two years ago, John Siracusa announced that he would no longer be writing his book-length MacOS reviews. After he stopped, Andrew Cunningham and Lee Hutchinson kept up the tradition while Cunningham was also writing equally thorough reviews of every version of iOS since iOS 7.

It doesn’t sound like he’ll be writing any more of his longform reviews. I’ll miss them, but I’m sure his writing over at the Wirecutter will be equally fastidious.

The era of big data breaches isn’t stopping — if anything, it seems to be getting worse. In April last year, the Telegraph reported that 50 million Turkish citizens’ details were leaked. At around the same time, the Rappler noted the leak of 55 million Philippine voting records, which was followed shortly by news of over 90 million Mexicans’ voting records.

Now, this, from Dan O’Sullivan of UpGuard:

In what is the largest known data exposure of its kind, UpGuard’s Cyber Risk Team can now confirm that a misconfigured database containing the sensitive personal details of over 198 million American voters was left exposed to the internet by a firm working on behalf of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in their efforts to elect Donald Trump. The data, which was stored in a publicly accessible cloud server owned by Republican data firm Deep Root Analytics, included 1.1 terabytes of entirely unsecured personal information compiled by DRA and at least two other Republican contractors, TargetPoint Consulting, Inc. and Data Trust. In total, the personal information of potentially near all of America’s 200 million registered voters was exposed, including names, dates of birth, home addresses, phone numbers, and voter registration details, as well as data described as “modeled” voter ethnicities and religions.

This echoes a leak of of the information of 191 million voters from December 2015, but this is even worse with the inclusion of ethnicity and religion data, which can be used to target specific individuals. You know all those tech companies promising not to assist with the creation of a so-called “Muslim registry”? Even without Facebook’s enormous data set, this is the next closest thing.

Heather Yamada-Hosley of Lifehacker tried Lyft’s new Shuttle service:

I take Lyft or Lyft Line a couple times a week, usually because I’m traveling with other people and it’s the same or cheaper (and much, much cleaner, faster, and more pleasant) than taking public transportation. But Lyfts can add up fast and Lyft Line, while less expensive, can take you out of your way and make your travel time much longer.

Lyft Shuttle addresses both those issues by having you walk to a nearby pick up spot, get in a shared car that follows a pre-designated route, and drops you (and everyone else) off at the same stop. So, basically, you share a ride with other people (most of the time) so your ride price is lower, but you know exactly how long the ride will take because you’re on a pre-designated route.

Raphael Orlove of Jalopnik had basically the same thought as, well, most Lifehacker commenters:

Lyft is testing out a new service called Lyft Shuttle, which runs at a lower cost than its usual it’s-not-a-taxi app, but runs on a preset route picking up at preset stops. You may be familiar with this concept already, as in other parts of the world that are not Silicon Valley, this is known as a “bus.”

Apart from the sheer absurdity of Lyft claiming innovation to investors by copying and pasting ideas from Manchester in 1824, this seems like an insidious attempt at privatizing public transport. That’s a problem because the goals of public transport — to provide transportation to everyone regardless of income or mobility — tend to run counter to the goals of private companies. Most transit systems in the United States and around the world don’t turn a profit, and that’s okay. We all subsidize them because their goal is for all of us to use them. Besides, it’s better than public transit being subject to the whims of Silicon Valley investors.

I hear the public transport system in San Francisco isn’t very good, so it’s tempting to argue that Lyft could provide healthy competition. But one reason that Bay Area transit isn’t very good is that it’s desperately underfunded — in part because many tech companies based in the region, including Lyft, are engaged in various tax avoidance strategies.

Lyft and their investors can do whatever they want with their money and time. If they want to reinvent the bus, they should go for it. But they should also be contributing their fair share so that everyone may have equal access to safe, reliable, and fast public transportation.

Update: Brian Feldman, New York magazine:

… To spell it out for the tech crowd, what is annoying about Lyft’s new project, to those of us who ride buses, is that it describes and re-creates an underfunded and underappreciated public service as a revolutionary new endeavor. No one doubts that autonomous driving, if and when it actually arrives, will change how buses are operated. But that would happen regardless of Lyft’s invention, or reinvention, of the bus.

I use public transit extensively. I love the idea of making it easier and better to use for everyone. I dislike the idea of making it a VC-subsidized expensive private enterprise operating out of San Francisco.

Kate Moore, Buzzfeed:

Ever since the glowing element had been discovered, it had been known to cause harm; Marie Curie herself had suffered radiation burns from handling it. People had died of radium poisoning before the first dial painter ever picked up her brush. That was why the men at the radium companies wore lead aprons in their laboratories and handled the radium with ivory-tipped tongs. Yet the dial painters were not afforded such protection, or even warned it might be necessary.

That was because, at that time, a small amount of radium — such as the girls were handling — was believed to be beneficial to health: People drank radium water as a tonic, and one could buy cosmetics, butter, milk, and toothpaste laced with the wonder element. Newspapers reported its use would “add years to our lives!”

But that belief was founded upon research conducted by the very same radium firms who had built their lucrative industry around it. They ignored all the danger signs; when asked, managers told the girls the substance would put roses in their cheeks.

The biggest difference between women working in chip manufacturing today and the “radium girls” is that the latter were paid well. That doesn’t excuse the toxicity of the work nor the industry’s lies, but it suggests we’ve gone backwards: not only are women once again encouraged to work in a particularly dangerous industry without adequate protections, they’re not even being compensated for the hazards.

(Via Andrew.)

Cam Simpson, Bloomberg:

In 2010 a South Korean physician named Kim Myoung-hee left her assistant professorship at a medical school to head a small research institute in Seoul. For Kim, who’s also an epidemiologist, it was a chance to spend more time on the public-health research she’d embraced as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard five years earlier.

In her new post, a series of cancer cases in South Korea’s microelectronics industry drew her interest, including one particular episode that had caught the public eye: Two young women working side-by-side at the same Samsung Electronics workstation and using the same chemicals contracted the same aggressive form of leukemia. The disease kills only 3 out of every 100,000 South Koreans each year, but these young co-workers died within eight months of each other. And their disease was among those most clearly tied to carcinogens. Activists discovered more cases at Samsung and other microelectronics companies, mostly among young women. Industry executives denied any link.

Kim began compiling and analyzing occupational-health studies about semiconductor workers worldwide, a body of work that had drawn little attention in South Korea despite the industry’s importance there. She found 40 different works published by 2010, and virtually every one mentioned exposure to toxic chemicals. “I had no idea that this is a chemical industry, not the electronics industry,” she says.

This is a heartbreaking story. It’s not news that the electronics manufacturing industry is dangerous; it is news that this danger was known in the United States, but was moved overseas when it became undeniable. Instead of making electronics production safer after studies proved the risks, though, companies simply transferred those risks onto underpaid young women and buried the true cost of their role in the chip production process.

Lisa Cumming, Vice:

Now, the age of locked-to-carrier phones is ending in Canada: if you buy your phone, you’ll be able to use it wherever you want, full stop.

As of Dec. 1, carriers can no longer charge an “unlocking fee” to unlock your phone. Moreover, all newly purchased devices must be unlocked from the get-go, according to new regulations from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the federal telecommunications regulator, which came out on Thursday. Last year, telecoms made more than $37 million charging people to unlock their devices, according to a CBC report.

This is an especially important decision in Canada’s oligopolic carrier market. Unfortunately, there are no regulations from the CRTC that prevent carriers from raising their prices to compensate, which is likely what will happen. Because of Canada’s geography and various laws designed to make sure adequate cellular access is not confined to major cities, there’s very little chance this situation will change while the infrastructure is privately owned and operated. Therefore, the CRTC ought to consider proposals to nationalize cellular infrastructure and allow carriers to resell it.

Apple’s prior attempt at a home audio system famously didn’t sell particularly well, but the thought and consideration that went into it indicates that this was a product of real passion and care. Check out the ridiculously thick battery door and the near-seamless body. No matter how much I appreciate the premium quality of today’s aluminum and glass Apple products, a part of me will always miss the glossy white plastic era, and the iPod Hi-Fi might be the truest expression of its ideals.

Debby Wu, Nikkei’s Asian Review:

iPhone assembler Wistron, a smaller rival to Hon Hai Precision Industry and Pegatron, on Wednesday confirmed that waterproof and wireless charging will be incorporated into the new 5.5-inch iPhones to be launched later this year.

“Assembly process for the previous generations of [iPhones] have not changed much, though new features like waterproof and wireless charging now require some different testing, and waterproof function will alter the assembly process a bit,” [Wistron Chief Executive Robert Hwang] told reporters after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday.

A couple of things of note here. First, Hwang probably got a cracking phone call this morning from Cupertino, and how much would you have loved to be in an Apple SVP’s office when that happened?

Second, Wu says that this concerns the “new 5.5-inch iPhones”, which is curious. Does that mean it’s coming to a new generation of iPhone 7 Plus models — a sort of iPhone 7S Plus? Does that exclude a presumed non-Plus iPhone 7S? Or does she mean that the screen size of the so-called iPhone 8 is 5.5 inches?

Also, an observation: all the way back in September of 2012, I was convinced that Apple wouldn’t implement wireless charging until it was truly wireless. A charging mat or magnetic puck might be cool, but they offer little convenience over plugging a cable into a device. Apple seems to think the same thing — they don’t call the charging setup used by the Watch “wireless charging” — they call it a “magnetic charging cable”.

I doubt the CEO of Wistron is dropping any real hints here, and I have no idea if the new iPhone will sport truly wireless charging, in the same way we think of every other use of the word “wireless”. But I’m looking forward to a day when I can simply pop my iPhone onto my nightstand like I do my glasses and book, go to sleep, and wake up to a charged phone, without a second thought.

Just before WWDC, if you’ll remember, I had a little argument with myself about the nature of encryption for iCloud backups. I was specifically interested in the nature of iMessages within iCloud backups because, as noted by Joshua Kopstein of Vice, Apple has the keys to their own backup system:

It turns out the privacy benefits Apple likes to talk about (and the FBI likes to complain about) basically disappear when iCloud Backup is enabled. Your messages, photos and whatnot are still protected while on your device and encrypted end-to-end while in transit. But you’re also telling your device to CC Apple on everything. Those copies are encrypted on iCloud using a key controlled by Apple, not you, allowing the company (and thus anyone who gets access to your account) to see their contents.

That’s set to change with this year’s round of operating system updates. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Vice:

During an interview with Apple blogger and Daring Fireball’s owner John Gruber, Federighi said that the company has figured out a way to do syncing while still remaining unable to read your iMessages. Here’s what he said (this exchange is around the 01:05:30 timestamp in the video):

“Our security and encryption team has been doing work over a number of years now to be able to synchronize information across your, what we call your circle of devices—all those devices that are associated with the common account—in a way that they each generate and share keys with each other that Apple does not have.”

“And so, even if they store information in the cloud, it’s encrypted with keys that Apple doesn’t have. And so [users] can put things in the cloud, they can pull stuff down from the cloud, so the cloud still serves as a conduit—and even ultimately kind of a backup for them—but only they can read it.”

It isn’t clear how they’re doing this, nor is it clear whether this only applies to iCloud syncing of messages or all iCloud backups.

Rather than accepting the fact that he wasn’t the first person to come up with email, and that Mike Masnick has every right to mock him publicly, Shiva Ayyadurai has resorted to petulant, Trumpian bullying tactics to try to buy his way into history, and bury any publication that dares to publish the facts. Even if Ayyadurai loses his frivolous, fact-bending lawsuit, he might still put Techdirt out of business; meanwhile, Techdirt effectively loses either way. It’s shameful.

Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica:

Charles Thacker, one of the lead hardware designers on the Xerox Alto, the first modern personal computer, died of a brief illness on Monday. He was 74.

The Alto, which was released in 1973 but was never a commercial success, was an incredibly influential machine. Ahead of its time, it boasted resizeable windows as part of its graphical user interface, along with a mouse, Ethernet, and numerous other technologies that didn’t become standard until years later. (Last year, Y Combinator acquired one and began restoring it.)

Thacker also helped demonstrate the viability of a tablet-style computer — something bigger than a PDA with PC-like capabilities — when he worked on prototypes for Microsoft’s Tablet PC project in the late 1990s.

Jake Swearingen, New York magazine:

Fellow Xerox engineer Alan Kay had the idea for what he called a “Dynabook,” — a computer with the form factor of a book that would be permanently networked, allowing for its contents to be continuously updated. Thacker took the idea and ran with it, eventually migrating to Microsoft where he worked on their Tablet PC, released in 2002. Again, while Microsoft’s version of the tablet was not a success, it laid the foundation for tablet computers to come — including, of course, the iPad.

That’s a life well lived.

Riccardo Mori:

I’m a terribly budget-conscious customer, alas, but even if I weren’t, the thing that irritates me the most is how certain components of many Mac base configurations look purposefully unappealing to induce people to upgrade them right away, thus spending more money. I mean, a spinning 5400rpm hard drive in a retina iMac, in 2017? I had a 5400rpm hard drive when I purchased my 12-inch PowerBook G4 more than 13 years ago. Eight gigabytes of RAM in the high-end 27-inch Retina 5K iMac, aimed at customers whose needs very likely demand a bare minimum of 16 GB of RAM? Laptops with a non-upgradable 128 GB SSD? All this with base model configurations that aren’t exactly cheap from the start. It doesn’t strike me as treating your customers respectfully.

This situation feels like a repeat of the longstanding 16 GB entry-level capacity for iOS devices: it’s clearly inadequate. I don’t know what hardware Apple’s executive team uses, but I doubt any of them could honestly recommend that someone should buy an iMac today with a spinning hard drive. Solid state storage might be far too expensive to put in every iMac, but they could at least start with a Fusion Drive which, yes, would eat into margins, but it would be the right thing to do.

By the way, I think that executive test is a good way to benchmark the value of product configurations. I could imagine Tim Cook or Phil Schiller using a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 256 GB SSD; I couldn’t imagine either of them being happy with the base-level 128 GB model.

Adam C. Engst, TidBits:

Thinking about buying one of Apple’s just-updated iMacs? You’ll want to pay close attention while configuring them because you could end up with a worse configuration for the same price depending on how you start, or you might pay more for the same configuration. Alert reader Yasuhiro Sugawara of Sugarwater Brothers deserves the credit for identifying these quirks in Apple’s online store.

I assume these quirks are related to Apple’s affinity for upgrade pricing ending in –00, but it would be helpful if the online store could suggest Macs of the same price in a better configuration.

Vice’s Brian Merchant has a new book coming out about the iPhone’s origins. Called “The One Device”, it will apparently chronicle the development and production on the tenth anniversary of the iPhone’s release. The Verge published an excerpt from the book this morning and it seems to contain a number of inaccuracies or mixed messages.

There are little things amiss. For example, on the “Project Purple” codename:

Why Purple? Few seem to recall. One theory is it was named after a purple kangaroo toy that Scott Herz — one of the first engineers to come to work on the iPhone — had as a mascot for Radar, the system that Apple engineers used to keep track of software bugs and glitches throughout the company.

The mascot for Radar is not a kangaroo; it’s either an anteater or an aardvark because, well, they eat bugs. This is really tiny detail, but it’s the kind of thing that makes me question the depth of research afforded to this book. The Radar mascot is well-known even outside of Apple, particularly in the broader development community.

But then there are bigger things, like Tony Fadell’s on-the-record claim that Phil Schiller demanded a hardware keyboard during planning meetings:

He “just sat there with his sword out every time, going, ‘No, we’ve got to have a hard keyboard. No. Hard keyboard.’ And he wouldn’t listen to reason as all of us were like, ‘No, this works now, Phil.’ And he’d say, ‘You gotta have a hard keyboard!’ ” Fadell says.

Apparently, one of those meetings became particularly heated:

“We’re making the wrong decision!” Schiller shouted.

“Steve looked at him and goes, ‘I’m sick and tired of this stuff. Can we get off of this?’ And he threw him out of the meeting,” Fadell recalls. Later, he says, “Steve and he had it out in the hallway. He was told, like, Get on the program or get the fuck out. And he ultimately caved.”

John Gruber:

So I’ll just say this: this story about Phil Schiller pushing for a hardware keyboard comes one source (so far — if anyone out there can back that up, my window is always open for little birdies), and that one source is the guy who admittedly spent over a year working on iPhone prototypes with a click wheel interface.

Phil Schiller also denies Fadell’s story. Very few people were privy to meetings about the iPhone in 2005, so this will likely remain a he-said-he-said standoff, unless Steve Jobs’ ghost wants to chime in.

For what it’s worth, Merchant’s book will probably be an entertaining read. I’m certainly going to check it out. As usual with ostensibly secret-spilling books about Apple, though, it should be enjoyed with an elevated level of skepticism.

Update: Tony Fadell says that the anecdote about Schiller isn’t correct. But Merchant quotes him directly in the excerpt published on the Verge, so something isn’t adding up here. Either the writer completely botched Fadell’s quote — which raises serious questions about the accuracy of the entire book — or Fadell dramatized it while being interviewed and wishes to walk back from an exaggerated recollection.

Matt Gemmell’s full-time computer is his iPad, so he has some thoughts on the big changes coming in iOS 11:

The presence of a persistent dock, for example, changes the whole language of the machine. It’s no longer a phone-like launcher, with app sessions sitting on top; it’s a task-focused device, where you can arbitrarily branch to other areas as you wish. The Home screen has been demoted from its hub status, and instead it becomes the Mac’s Launchpad, to which it gave its look and functionality.

Drag and drop, with cross-app persistence, multiple non-modal sessions, and multi-touch adding and stacking, is an example of what iOS and the iPad should be all about: showing how we can not only replicate sophisticated desktop-era interactions on a touch device, but even improve upon them by being freed from the tyranny of the pointer.

Aurélien Che’s recording of stacking multiple kinds of objects and being able to drop them individually really indicates the power of upgrading an old computer paradigm for a device that you can directly manipulate with your fingers. It has been a long time coming, but it’s extraordinary.

Gemmell also posted a slow-motion video of scrolling on his new iPad Pro. It’s so smooth that it makes the 60 Hz display of his old Pro look like a basic animation, rather than pushing the webpage up and down. I hope ProMotion comes to every single one of Apple’s devices, but I’d especially like to see it on the Apple TV — potential technical limitations aside, it would allow movies to be shown at their correct frame rate.

Heather Somerville and Joseph Menn, Reuters:

Chief Executive Travis Kalanick told employees on Tuesday he will take time away from the company he helped to found, citing the need to grieve for his recently deceased mother and to work on his leadership skills, according to an email from Kalanick seen by Reuters.

Kalanick, 40, did not say how long he would be away from Uber, the ride-hailing firm that he helped turn into the world’s most valuable venture-backed company, but has run into problems due to its rough-and-tumble approach to regulations and its own employees.

“During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company,” Kalanick wrote in his email. “I will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions, but I will be empowering them to be bold and decisive in order to move the company forward swiftly.”

Progress — to some degree or another. Not only does Kalanick need to deal with a family tragedy — and rightfully so — the time off should allow the company to start putting in place the recommendations from the report by Eric Holder and Tammy Albarrán. Their suggestions include everything from limiting Kalanick’s power and responsibilities, to reducing a workaholic culture by rescheduling catered dinners to an earlier time.

While Kalanick says that the leadership team will be running Uber while he’s absent, there seem to be very few people left on that team. Who, exactly, is going to be running the company?

Update: Yahoo Finance was sent a copy of the audio from the all-hands internal meeting announcing Kalanick’s leave (autoplaying video warning):

While speaking, Huffington pointed out that Uber was adding a woman to its board, Wan Ling Martello.

“There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board,” she said.

“Actually what it shows is it’s much likely to be more talking,” Uber board member David Bonderman said.

This happened seven minutes into a meeting addressing pervasive sexism within the company. Seven minutes is all it took for one of the assholes in charge of the company to make a sexist remark. Kalanick may be absent, and many of his ilk may have left the company, but their rotten attitudes remain.

Update: Now Bonderman is off the board. Who knows — maybe they are serious about clearing out all the assholes.

Therese Fessenden of the Nielsen Norman Group:

In 2004, we wrote about the most hated advertising techniques based on research conducted by Christian Rohrer and John Boyd. Online advertising has changed significantly since then, giving us plenty of new formats to test and new questions to ask. With that, we decided to run a study to determine which advertising techniques are most disruptive and detrimental for the modern user experience.

We conducted a survey with 452 adult respondents from the United States who were not employed in an IT- or marketing-related industry. In this survey, participants were shown 23 wireframes corresponding to different types of advertisements and rated how much they disliked them on a scale of 1 to 7.

You won’t be surprised by anything in the top five, but you may be surprised by how many respondents were not as bothered by retargeted ads as most other formats.

When you think about how many of these ad techniques can often be found on the same webpage, it’s no surprise that ad blocking is on the rise. It’s beyond the scope of this survey, but I’d be interested to see some research into the acceptability of anti-blocking techniques, and how likely they are to create paying subscribers or disable ad blockers.