Month: January 2023

Karissa Bell, Engadget:

The “restrictions” section of Twitter’s developer agreement was updated Thursday with a clause banning “use or access the Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.” The addition is the only substantive change to the 5,000-word agreement.

The change confirms what the makers of many popular Twitter clients have suspected in recent days: that third-party Twitter services are no longer permitted under Elon Musk’s leadership.

There it is: nearly a week after disconnecting popular third-party clients without explanation or warning, Twitter has officially killed dozens of independent developers’ businesses. As I wrote earlier this week, it comes a little more than a year after Twitter began encouraging the development of third-party clients again. The Iconfactory put it well: it “didn’t expect to be writing [about the end of Twitterrific] so soon, though, and certainly not without having had time to notify you that it was coming”.

A disappointing move, made in a predictably disorganized and disrespectful way. This is how you ruin trust and soil a legacy. I do not know what this is like for you, but for the first time in sixteen years, I do not have a Twitter client in the dock on my Mac or on the first home screen of my iPhone.

Update: Tapbots says goodbye to Tweetbot.

The release candidate for iOS 16.3, available today for developers and rolling out next week, expands availability of Advanced Data Protection to customers worldwide. As I already had a beta version of that version on my iPhone, I figured I could take the opportunity and upgrade all my devices to the latest versions of their respective operating systems so I could enable ADP. But I hit something of a snag with my iPad, which was full.

If I told you its capacity — just 32 GB — that probably would not surprise you. But I store precious little on it: aside from a couple of movies and a small music cache, there is nothing on it. iPadOS consumes about seven of those gigabytes, which makes the product’s advertised capacity feel a bit disingenous, but I should have lots of space available. When I checked the iPad Storage menu, I saw the biggest source of my disk space problems: over 11 GB used by Messages.

This makes no sense. I do not often use Messages on my iPad. I have iCloud for Messages enabled, so my device should only be downloading messages and attachments as needed. It works that way on my iPhone, on which only 4 GB is consumed by Messages; on both my Macs, the Messages library folder is about 30 GB large, which is probably a complete archive.

You can change how long of an archive should be retained by Messages by changing the “Keep Messages” options in its settings. You can select from “30 days”, “1 year”, or “Forever”; I have it set to the latter. When you change that setting to a shorter timeframe, the following warning message will appear:

This will permanently delete all text messages and message attachments from your device that are older than 30 days [or “1 year”, if that is the option selected].

As written, this sounds like it is a way to control the cache of messages downloaded to your device. If “30 days” is selected, you should see only the past month’s worth of messages on your device and anything older than that will need to be downloaded on demand. But it is so much worse than that: because it syncs, it actually erases all messages in iCloud older than thirty days — permanently. This is the only warning you will get.

It arguably makes sense. iCloud for Messages is merely a syncing service — it will, in theory, match the state of your messages across all devices. But iCloud for Messages also kind of works like an ad hoc backup control: my iPhone clearly only has a subset of the messages on either of my Macs, but when I search for something, it will return results going back at least ten years. This works as expected. Whatever was happening on my iPad does not.

The “was” is important because there are no controls for managing iCloud for Messages. There is no way to purge the local cache from one device without those changes syncing across all devices. The only way I was able to install this software update was to restore my iPad and set it up from scratch. Yes, you can point and laugh at my iPad’s puny storage capacity, but it is a device Apple sold and officially continues to support. It should not work like this.

I see three problems here, all of them consequential but one clearly more serious than the others:

  1. iCloud for Messages has local caching bugs which can sometimes retain too much local storage for the device’s capacity, thereby preventing software updates.

  2. There are no ways to manually control a local iCloud for Messages cache. Apple has attempted to create a set-it-and-forget-it feature and, to its credit, it mostly works that way. But when it does not, there is no recourse.

  3. It is far too easy to permanently destroy user data. The warning which appears is unclear and its action does not match what is written.

I am not the first to write about these problems and I could swear I have mentioned them before — but I cannot find anything in my own archives. Steven Troughton-Smith pointed out the local caching bug, while Michael Tsai raised the lack of control. This could have been a catastrophe for my Messages history; I read plenty of stories today about people losing important memories because they changed this setting expecting it to only affect local copies.

I filed a bug report, of course.1 But I wanted to write this in the hopes it will appear in a web search, too, because I had a hard time finding a clear answer before asking. Changing the “Keep Messages” setting will affect what is stored across all devices if you use iCloud for Messages, and there is no way to undo it. If you set a shorter retention time, you will delete data in iCloud without any way of restoring it.

  1. FB11955286. ↥︎

As previously mentioned, Apple announced a new HomePod model today, which it insists on referring to as the “HomePod” instead of a “HomePod Mini Max”. You might think I am being stupid — and I am — but this thing is closer to the Mini on the inside despite looking like the original model on the outside.

John Voorhees, MacStories:

The new HomePod has two fewer tweeters at five compared to the original’s seven. No mention is made of direct and ambient audio beamforming in the tech specs for the new HomePod, although it does support Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos, which is a nice addition. The latest HomePod has four far-field microphones compared to the original’s six too.

In addition to the temperature and humidity sensor, the new HomePod also features an accelerometer and will support Sound Recognition later this spring with a software update. It’s not clear whether that software update will work with the original HomePod or not.

The new HomePod is also getting a WiFi upgrade with 802.11n support. The new model also includes a Thread radio and Ultra Wideband chip, which the original did not.

I am not sure I would frame 802.11n as an “upgrade” — the original model supported 802.11ac. It is closer to the HomePod Mini’s specs including its use of an S-series SoC from the Apple Watch instead of an A-series chip, and its inclusion of a temperature and humidity sensor which Apple is finally activating in the Mini.

This strikes me as a risky launch. I am sure it sounds great and works as expected, flaky Siri and all, but it is $300. That is just $50 less than the original model sold for before it was discontinued. Who was in the market for the HomePod but for it being $50 too expensive? Moreover, this launch comes on the tail end of stories of smart speakers being under-used. If all you want it for is typical voice control stuff, why not get the Mini? You could get three of them for the price of a single HomePod.

Weird product. I wonder how it will fare the second time around. I like the shout-out to Steve Steigman’s “Blown Away” in the video, at least.

Update: Sebastiaan de With has a great idea to make this product more interesting. A blue Dalmatian print would look great, too.

Patrick McGee, Financial Times:

The supply chain ranking turned out to be an early indication of a profound shift in operations at Apple, which held the No.1 spot for the next seven years. In that time it became the world’s most valuable company, while placing itself at the centre of geopolitical tensions.

O’Marah began to learn that Apple was not really “outsourcing” production to China, as commonly understood. Instead, he realised that Apple was starting to build up a supply and manufacturing operation of such complexity, depth and cost that the company’s fortunes have become tied to China in a way that cannot easily be unwound.

McGee in a companion article about the difficulties Apple is facing in its attempts to extricate itself:

Apple’s dilemma on China is over two decades in the making, going to the foundation of its global success. For Cook, it’s personal. The operations guru was the architect of Apple’s China-oriented supply chain strategy, earning a reputation for obsessing over details that transformed its end-to-end management into the envy of the tech world.


China, according to some estimates, has more factory workers than Vietnam has people. The number of rural migrant workers in the country was 293mn in 2021, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, versus an entire population of 100mn in Vietnam.

Jenny Chan, co-author of Dying for an iPhone, which details the lives of Foxconn workers who assemble Apple products, points out that China’s labour infrastructure is uniquely supported by the state. At times it is all but mandatory, she says, with villagers and students bussed in to lend hands.

Allow me to embarrass myself for a paragraph. It is important for everyone to have a dream podcast project in their back pocket, right? That is a normal thing to think about, right? Anyway, mine was ambitiously something like “Parts Unknown” but for technology. I wanted deeply researched longform stories about the complex iteractions of computers and society. I will never make it.

But the reason I wanted to do that kind of a show is for this very pair of articles to exist. Lots has been written about Apple and its supply chain, yet precious little to this extent and with this contemporary framing. It is a thorny subject that often puts Tim Cook at its centre. The treatment of workers in China is often abhorrent; Apple often distances itself from those labour conditions by stressing the third-party nature of its manufacturing contracts despite working hand-in-glove with them. For twenty years, this has been among the most shameful aspects of Apple’s business.

Even if Apple’s management was not embarrassed by its frequent deference to government in an attempt at diplomacy — and it should be — it seems ashamed of its difficulty in a shortage of some iPhone models in its most important quarter. I wish it felt more like the former was the reason for rumours about its attempts to find manufacturing bases elsewhere, but I am afraid it is the latter.

Brandon Bigley, writing about that short pro-themed video toward the end of today’s M2 Mac announcements:

It’s a great ad that gets to the heart of why I’ve found Apple’s computing lineup so exciting since making my own switch way back when: It all feels frictionless due to the attention given to nuances like battery life. The big question for viewers, extrapolated out, is that if this laptop can cater to three super-users and survive an entire day’s workload on a single charge, can you even imagine what’s possible for yourself?

Apple’s M-powered MacBooks have redefined what it means to have “all-day battery life”. When I can encode video and edit photos without having to think about finding an outlet, it adds capabilities which cannot be expressed in terms of speeds and feeds. It feels powerful.

Sara Fischer, Axios:

Retail trading platform Robinhood is launching an independent media brand called Sherwood that will be led by veteran tech editor and media entrepreneur Joshua Topolsky.


“It’s a significant, long-term investment,” Topolsky said when asked about Robinhood’s commitment to the new outlet. There are “a lot of resources being dedicated to this project.”

I am guessing a broadly 1980s aesthetic from Code and Theory with lots of colour, a launch portraying it as “weird” and “trying something new”, some kind of storytelling gimmick, and a lifespan frustratingly short for the talented staff he will hire. Just a spitball.


Apple today announced M2 Pro and M2 Max, two next-generation SoCs (systems on a chip) that take the breakthrough power-efficient performance of Apple silicon to new heights. M2 Pro scales up the architecture of M2 to deliver an up to 12-core CPU and up to 19-core GPU, together with up to 32GB of fast unified memory. M2 Max builds on the capabilities of M2 Pro, including an up to 38-core GPU, double the unified memory bandwidth, and up to 96GB of unified memory. Its industry-leading performance per watt makes it the world’s most powerful and power-efficient chip for a pro laptop. […]

As rumoured, today brought some new Macs. The M2 and M2 Pro Mac Minis replace the Intel and M1 Mac Mini models, and there are some new versions of the MacBook Pro, too.

In addition to the above press release, these new chips were introduced in a mini keynote-style video. It includes a couple of fun videos showing how these new Macs perform with real-world users.

Yining Karl Li:

Last month, Apple asked Sam Cannon, Matt Puchala, and I what we could each make on the new M2 Max MacBook Pro on a single battery cycle. This was super fun and working with Sam and Matt and was super inspirational!

I am interested to see how these Macs perform absent the context of an Apple ad. Based on the difference between the standard M1 and M2, it seems like the advantages may perhaps be in efficiency more than they are in pure performance.

Stay tuned; I hear this is not the only Apple announcement for the week.

Georgia Wells and Stu Woo, Wall Street Journal:

The talks with U.S. officials and lawmakers have become more urgent for TikTok in recent months as federal and state politicians made moves to ban the app on government-issued devices. Congress is also considering a bill that would ban TikTok in the U.S. Lawmakers cite concerns that Beijing could access U.S. users’ data on TikTok, or shape what Americans see on the platform — accusations that the company has denied.

TikTok is hoping that details of its planned reorganization — and promised measures to ensure oversight of its content-recommendation algorithms — will convince potential allies in Washington of its ability to operate independently of its parent company, China-based ByteDance Ltd., according to the people familiar with the discussions.

Even if TikTok can prove it is a truly independent company without a single lingering connection to ByteDance, will regulators and China hawks be convinced? TikTok has not done itself any favours by admitting it lied about monitoring journalists in an attempt to discern their sources.

Chase Miller, 9to5Mac:

Apple could be making its first announcement of 2023 as soon as tomorrow, sources say. The company is holding Mac-related briefings with influencers and select members of the press this week, and an announcement could be made via Apple’s Newsroom website on Tuesday…

I did not trim anything off the end of this paragraph; that is just the weird 9to5 house style.

Stephen Hackett:

My money is on M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pros and an M2 Mac mini, all announced via press release.

Sounds like a new HomePod might be in the cards, too. It is a little early in the year for new hardware, but I like how the rumours and speculation have already begun for 2023.

Craig Hockenberry:

What bothers me about Twitterrific’s final day is that it was not dignified. There was no advance notice for its creators, customers just got a weird error, and no one is explaining what’s going on. We had no chance to thank customers who have been with us for over a decade. Instead, it’s just another scene in their ongoing shit show.

But I guess that’s what you should expect from a shitty person.

About a year before the acquisition of Twitter was closed, the company was reacquainting itself with third-party developers, including those which make general-purpose clients. It has been days since those developers have been kicked off the platform in a deliberate and targeted manner. Twitter has yet to offer any explanation or even a public acknowledgement of this change. Why should anyone trust its management?

Ryan Broderick:

But the comic “On Fire,” by KC Green, two panels of which became the meme probably better know as the “This Is Fine” dog, is a bit different. It has a known creator and it was created with an intended purpose and it has, in many ways, grown over time and in a way that is totally in line with its original meaning. In other words, it’s piece of art and has aged exactly like all good pieces of art. Though, that doesn’t make its legacy simple to deal with.

In a recent Tumblr post, Green reflected on a decade of “On Fire,” and explored some of the bizarre existential questions that come from being the sole originator of a piece of internet canon. “When a work gets as big as this has, is it still yours,” Green asks. “I got lucky being able to ride it out a little. But it’s not perfectly in my grasp.”

You know that Iconfactory post I just linked to? Look at the illustration.

The Iconfactory:

Last night at about 7:30pm PST, Twitterrific customers started reporting problems accessing Twitter via the iOS app.

News quickly spread on Twitter and Mastodon that a wide range of third party apps like Twitterrific, Tweetbot, Echofon, and many others had been disabled. Strangely, Twitterrific for macOS continues to work normally. We cannot say for certain why some clients are unaffected, but it seems possible that there is a new (seemingly unstated and unannounced) policy that is only being applied to apps with large numbers of users.

It has now been about eighteen hours since some third-party Twitter clients began throwing errors without any public communication from its mercurial owner, any of the official company accounts, or — apparently — any private news to developers. The apps I most often use no longer appear in my connected apps list.

Given Twitter’s ownership, I am not surprised by the lack of an announcement or even acknowledgement of this problem, but I am concerned. Is it a bug? Is it deliberate — a way to force people to use the official app with ads and its algorithmically-sorted timeline? Is it related to the API vulnerability that reportedly led to the disclosure of personal data for hundreds of millions of Twitter users, a claim which Twitter disputes? It sure feels like it could be any of these options. While fears about Twitter’s sudden demise were overstated, it sure looks from the outside like the foundations of the platform are crumbling.

Update: According to Erin Woo of the Information — as summarized by Abner Li of 9to5Google and John Gruber — this move was made deliberately but without any public communication. It is offensive to developers to leave them in the dark, and shows the contempt the new management has for many of Twitter’s most ardent and supportive users.

Adam Chandler:

Some of my gripes with Maps on iOS 16:


Guides, they are prominently featured on the floating tile where you would search but I truly don’t know why. I’ve tried to use them but I don’t really care what a famous chef likes to eat when she’s in Atlanta. I’m nowhere near Atlanta.

For once, a criticism about Apple Maps that has nothing to do with its points-of-interest data.

I have been meaning to write about Guides for a while and this jogged my memory. Apple says “Guides help you find amazing things to see and do in cities around the world” which sounds, to me, like a way to explore my city or at least stuff in my general area. But the first Guide suggested for me when I pull up the search card is “National Parks Perfect for Stargazing”, which only contains parks in the United States. The others are similarly international.

It took me a while to find any Guides for Calgary — where I live — because there is no way I can see to search for them. In addition to the random assortment suggested on the search card, there is a massive list sorted by creator, and select cities can be found on an Explore card — but Calgary is not one of those cities. However you might see Guides listed on the results card if you search for a city. That is, if I want to find suggestions for great pasta spots in Calgary, I need to search for the city I live in and then scroll down the card to find relevant guides. I find that unintuitive, to say the least.

Right now, Guides in Maps feels like an unrealized marketing idea instead of a user-facing feature which means it is, as Chandler writes, more intrusive than helpful. Most of the time, I just want to know when a local business is open and how to get there. Anything that makes it feel like those tasks are secondary is unwelcome.

Marques Brownlee:

As I’ve already mentioned, these smartphone cameras are so much [about] software now that the photo that you get when you hit that shutter button isn’t so much reality as it is this computer’s best interpretation of what it thinks you want reality to look like.


When you snap that photo on your phone, you’re not necessarily getting back a capture of what was really in front of you. They’re really bending it, in many ways. The iPhone’s “thing” is: when you take a photo, it likes to identify faces and evenly light them. It tries every time.

Sebastiaan de With in his November review of the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera system (previously linked):

This is a ‘clever’ step in iPhone photography processing: since it can super-rapidly segment the image in components, like human subjects, it can apply selective adjustments. What matters is the degree of adjustment and its quality. I was a bit disappointed to find that this adjustment seems to be equally heavy-handed as the previous iPhone: I have honestly never seen it make for a better photo. The result is simply jarring.

Federico Viticci:

That’s precisely the issue here. The iPhone’s camera hardware is outstanding, but how iOS interprets and remixes the data it gets fed from the camera often leads to results that I find … boring and uninspired unless I manually touch them up with edits and effects.

The camera system in the iPhone XS was the first time Apple marketed its computational photography efforts with Smart HDR and, perhaps not coincidentally, it was also the first time I can remember there being complaints about over-processed images. The quirks kept coming: last year, the New Yorker carried an article about unnatural-looking iPhone photos.

Michael Tsai:

I wish Apple would offer a way to adjust how aggressive the processing is and/or bring back the Keep Normal Photo option.

Maybe I should be using a third-party camera app, but I haven’t seen this particular option in Halide — I don’t want to save huge RAW files — and there’s still no true way to change the default camera app.

After I watched Brownlee’s video, I wondered if it would make sense for someone to create a third-party camera app focused on having a lighter touch on processed images. I do not know enough about the camera APIs to understand if this is plausible. But, interestingly, there is a setting in Halide to save only processed HEIC photos, and there is another setting to turn off Deep Fusion and Smart HDR; Deep Fusion is Apple’s term for improving texture and detail in lower-light photos. That gets partway toward what I want to see.

I tested the effects of this setting by taking two photos on my iPhone 12 Pro in Halide: one with the “Smartest Processing” toggle on, and another of the same scene with it switched off. I found turning it off creates a situation that is the worst of both worlds: the dynamic range and detail of photos is noticeably compromised, but photos are still passed through the same overly aggressive noise reduction system as any other image. In a photo of my unlit dining room against a nearby window, the wood grain of the table was evident in the photo with the “Smartest Processing” turned on, as was the crisp edge of the table top. When “Smartest Processing” was turned off, the table was rendered as a brown smear and the edge was uneven. Images with “Smartest Processing” turned on sometimes appear oversharpened, but they are overall a better interpretation of the scene.

I also tested this with some photos of my partner, including in dramatic light. I did not see the bizarre face flattening that Brownlee saw, but the highlights in each example were handled in ways where neither the “Smartest Processing” version nor the less processed version appeared correct.

The problems do not appear to be a form of overprocessing as much as they are unnatural or unexpected results of processing. Deep Fusion is great; Portrait Mode, as an option, is often excellent as well. But some of the selective enhancements made by the iPhone — the way it slices a scene into individual components for separate adjustments — sometimes fail to resolve in a satisfying final photo. Again, I tested that one toggle in Halide on my iPhone 12 Pro, and there are probably major differences in photos from any more recent iPhone. There are also many components of the iPhone’s image processing pipeline that have nothing to do with that toggle. However, the same kinds of complaints are being raised by iPhone 14 Pro users, and it has a larger high-resolution sensor and lots more processing power.

I am on an approximately three-year iPhone upgrade cycle and, so, I hope Apple relaxes its unnatural photo processing engine in the 15 Pro models. There is a vast middle ground between the completely unprocessed RAW images nerds like me enjoy working with and the photos produced by the default Camera app. There is room to create images with more character that are better representations of the scene. Sometimes, the imperfections in a photo — the grain, some slightly blown-out highlights, white balance that is way too warm — are what gives it an emotional quality, and trying to smooth those things out can make it feel sterile and inhuman.

Computers are good at taking very precise instructions literally, and there are many ways in which the digital versions of things are superior to their analogue counterparts. But that does not always make them better. It is tangential, but I am reminded a little of the problem of iTunes’ shuffle function, which would always play songs as jumbled as a computer’s random number generator could determine. However, users hated when two songs from the same artist would play back-to-back because it felt less random. So Apple introduced Smart Shuffle, which decreased randomness to create a more varied experience that felt completely random. Sometimes, the result to strive for is the one that is not technically correct but feels the most correct.

I have once again been on an “Only Connect” binge, through which I learned about PuzzGrid. You can play the wall round in user-submitted games. My only complaint is the vast gulf between the best “Hard” games, which are often not as difficult as you might expect, and the wildly difficult “Fiendish” ones. Otherwise, it follows the same rules as the show and is a truly delightful find. It was difficult to stop playing today.

Kyle Wiggers, TechCrunch:

In December, reports suggested that Microsoft had acquired Fungible, a startup fabricating a type of data center hardware known as a data processing unit (DPU), for around $190 million. Today, Microsoft confirmed the acquisition but not the purchase price, saying that it plans to use Fungible’s tech and team to deliver “multiple DPU solutions, network innovation and hardware systems advancements.”

According to the press release, the Fungible team will be joining Microsoft. Not interesting enough? Here is the kicker paragraph:

Fungible was launched in 2016 by Bertrand Serlet, a former Apple software engineer who sold a cloud storage startup, Upthere, to Western Digital in 2017, alongside Krishna Yarlagadda and Juniper Networks co-founder Pradeep Sindhu. Fungible sold DPUs that relied on two operating systems, one open source and the other proprietary, and a microprocessor architecture called MIPS to control flash storage volumes.

I think that means Bertrand Serlet is joining Microsoft. Yes, that Bertrand Serlet, in case you got your Bertrands Serlet mixed up and, for some reason, decided to call him “a former Apple software engineer” instead of “the Microsoft Aero fan”. (Via Elle.)

Frank Landymore, Futurism:

CNET, a massively popular tech news outlet, has been quietly employing the help of “automation technology” — a stylistic euphemism for AI — on new wave of financial explainer articles, seemingly starting around November of last year.

In the absence of any formal announcement or coverage, it appears that this was first spotted by online marketer Gael Breton in a tweet on Wednesday.

Red Ventures, which owns CNet, is doing the same on a couple of other publications it owns including Bankrate and its subsidiary However, its disclosure is more transparent on articles from the latter. Red Ventures should use a similar acknowledgement elsewhere instead of burying it on the author profile page.

Update: CNet posted a massive correction to the fundamental concepts in its article about compound interest, even though these generated stories are apparently reviewed by a real person before publication.

Ken Klippenstein, the Intercept:

Highway surveillance footage from Thanksgiving Day shows a Tesla Model S vehicle changing lanes and then abruptly braking in the far-left lane of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, resulting in an eight-vehicle crash. The crash injured nine people, including a 2-year-old child, and blocked traffic on the bridge for over an hour.

I have seen an awful lot of people blaming this crash on the cars behind the Tesla following too closely. But watch the video carefully: the Tesla moves from the second lane into the first at low speed, cutting off the first car involved in the crash from about four or five car-lengths. It appears the Tesla driver was using one of its autonomous systems at the time; there are conflicting reports about which erroneously named option — of “Autopilot” and “Full Self Driving” — was engaged.

Jason Torchinsky, the Autopian:

This isn’t news to people who pay attention. It’s been proven since 1948, when N.H. Mackworth published his study The Breakdown of Vigilance During Prolonged Visual Search which defined what has come to be known as the “vigilance problem.” Essentially, the problem is that people are just not great at paying close attention to monitoring tasks, and if a semi-automated driving system is doing most of the steering, speed control, and other aspects of the driving task, the human in the driver’s seat’s job changes from one of active control to one of monitoring for when the system may make an error. The results of the human not performing this task well are evidenced by the crash we’re talking about.

I think it’s not unreasonable to think of Level 2 driving as potentially impaired driving, because the mental focus of the driver when engaging with the driving task from a monitoring approach is impaired when compared to an active driver.

I think this argument is worth considering. These semi-autonomous systems are playing the same sort of trick as ChatGPT: they offer a convincing but shallow impression of a competent driverless car without any broader context to fall back on.

Hari Kunzru, Harper’s:

Ironically, the digital frontier of the Nineties, which for a while was the great hope for exit, was enclosed by men like [Peter] Thiel, who have created a landscape of corporate walled gardens that hasn’t fulfilled the utopian potential of the early internet. The dreams of collaborative software building, universal privacy guaranteed by strong encryption, autonomy, chosen community, and an escape from scarcity — in short, the professed ideals of West Coast libertarianism — have taken a back seat to the imperative to track, extract, and monetize. Instead of a global consciousness, we have a giant machine for selling ads. Since the internet is no longer the delirious, much-desired outside, the space of libertarian freedom must apparently be redefined yet again. Thiel’s aristocratic characterization of exit as an escape — not from a place or from the state, but from politics and the “unthinking demos” — explains much of the chaos of today’s public scene, not just in the United States, but around the world.

As Kunzru writes, the cost of those — like Thiel — who wish to exclude themselves from society while reaping all its benefits is borne by the rest of us.

Brian Krebs: begins by asking for your name, address, SSN and birthday. After I supplied that and told I wanted my report from Experian, I was taken to to complete the identity verification process.

Normally at this point, Experian’s website would present four or five multiple-guess questions, such as “Which of the following addresses have you lived at?”

[Jenya] Kushnir told me that when the questions page loads, you simply change the last part of the URL from “/acr/oow/” to “/acr/report,” and the site would display the consumer’s full credit report.

Oh come on. This is an elementary error for any gated service to make, let alone one with as much information as is held by a credit reporting agency like Experian. In the wake of the Equifax breach, Experian was running ads promoting its identity theft protection services — promises that are laughable in the wake of this vulnerability.