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5 Intriguing Internet Mysteries That May Never Be Solved

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zippy72
19 hours ago
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Want a ride in a Lyft? Just sign away your right to sue if they kill, maim, rape or cheat you

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Spotted today in my Lyft app: a new set of terms and conditions that require you to "agree" to binding arbitration (an onerous condition heretofore reserved for downtrodden drivers), through which you agree to waive your right to join class action suits or pursue legal redress through the courts should Lyft, through its deliberate actions or negligence, cause you to be killed, maimed, raped or cheated -- something that, not coincidentally, Lyft is in a lot of trouble over at the moment. Read the rest

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zippy72
1 day ago
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Time to #boycottLyft
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What it's like to have Apple rip off your successful Mac app

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Companies that make successful Mac apps live in constant fear of being sherlocked -- having Apple release a feature-for-feature clone to compete with your product, bundling it in with Macos.

In June 2019, Astropad got sherlocked when Apple cloned its successful Astropad Studio and Luna Display apps in a new Macos feature that Apple called "Sidecar."

Astropad marketing director Savannah Reising describes how Apple had lionized their company and its products prior to cloning them, during a "false romance" that in which Apple "routinely invited us to demo our products at their headquarters, and offered to help us out with whatever business and engineering challenges we faced. They also ordered thousands of dollars’ worth of our hardware, and we naively thought it was because they were interested in our product. It turns out that they were… just not in the way we were thinking."

What's more, Apple had bound over Astropad with nondisclosure agreements that limited how they could speak about their sherlocking, though Reising doesn't describe what happened to those NDAs now, she's pretty frank about the experience.

As Reising puts it, in platform capitalism, your main competitors aren't "other companies creating similar products to yours" -- it's the platform itself: "if your platform provider decides to step into your domain, it’s a tough battle to position your product against a free, native feature."

Reising has some advice for surviving a sherlocking (manage the PR carefully, have other products to fall back on, go cross-platform and don't get locked in with proprietary toolchains like Apple's APIs and Objective C).

What she doesn't touch on, though, is the real remedy for this kind of anticompetitive conduct, which is not within the scope of an individual entrepreneur or firm -- it's to demand the restoration of structural separation, the once-common antitrust measure that prohibited platforms from competing with their suppliers (for example, rail companies were banned from owning freight shipping companies that competed with their customers, and banks were not allowed to own businesses that competed with the businesses they loaned money to).

Elizabeth Warren's campaign platform includes structural separation for Big Tech.

I am a donor to both the Warren and Bernie Sanders campaigns.

When you take a birds-eye view, it’s the small startups and indie devs that are pushing innovation in the tech world. It’s an imperfect synergy, though: with too much power, big tech like Apple eventually swallows up the innovators. The more sherlocking that happens, the more careful we’ll be about dabbling in Apple’s playground. And the people that pay the ultimate price are the consumers.

What To Do When You Get Sherlocked By Apple [Savannah Reising/Astropad]

(via Four Short Links)

(Image: Astropad)

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zippy72
1 day ago
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Greta Grotesk: a font based on Greta Thunberg's hand-lettered signs

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Uno's Greta Grotesk is a free font based on Greta Thunberg's hand-lettered signs.

(Image: Anders Hellberg, CC BY-SA)

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zippy72
1 day ago
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Terrified of bad press after its China capitulation, Blizzard cancels NYC Overwatch event

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Blizzard's cowardly decision to appease Chinese authoritarians by ejecting a champion player who expressed support for the pro-democracy struggle in Hong Kong has kicked off a global rebellion by the company's customers, who are furious that the firm has put its profits over an entire nation's right to self-determination and basic democratic freedoms.

The decision to capitulate to China continues to exact a price from Blizzard: now, the company has canceled a much-ballyhooed Overwatch event scheduled for NYC today, and while the company hasn't explained the last-minute cancellation, it's obvious that they fear more bad publicity from players, press and attendees.

Blizzard, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, has been struggling to contain a backlash after it punished the gamer Chung Ng Wai, known as Blitzchung. The player wore a gas mask and chanted a pro-Hong Kong slogan in a post-tournament interview, leading Blizzard to ban him from events for a year and strip him of $10,000 in prize money.

Blizzard Cancels Overwatch Event as It Tries to Contain Backlash [John J Edwards III/Bloomberg]

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zippy72
1 day ago
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Facebook will remove advertisements that are visually misleading, but not advertisements containing false statements

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Facebook has announced that it will not remove political advertisements on the grounds that the ads contain false statements:

"we do not submit speech by politicians to our independent fact-checkers, and we generally allow it on the platform even when it would otherwise breach our normal content rules.”

However, Buzzfeed discovered that Facebook absolutely will remove political ads that are misleading to the eye, or violate other technical rules. For example, a pro-Trump advertisement was removed for profanity--it included a soundbite of Biden saying "son of a bitch." Facebook also removed dozens of pro-Biden ads that featured non-interactive graphics resembling buttons like the advertisements seen above. And Facebook is likely to remove any advertisement that mentions the state of Washington:

Last year, the state of Washington sued Facebook and Google for allegedly violating its campaign finance laws by failing to maintain data on the purchasers of election ads and later adopted new laws on ad disclosures. In response, Facebook implemented a blanket ban on "ads that relate to Washington's state or local elected officials, candidates, elections or ballot initiatives."

Accordingly, pro-Warren ads were removed for mentioning Washington governor Jay Inslee.

You can see the banned advertisements uncovered by Buzzfeed here. Read the rest

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1 day ago
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