Technology

Technology

Playdate: The New Handheld Video Game System

Panic, a company known for their Mac and iOS software, has announced the Playdate, a new handheld video game system:

Playdate is both very familiar, and totally new. It’s yellow, and fits perfectly in a pocket. It has a black-and-white screen with high reflectivity, a crystal-clear image, and no backlight. And of course, it has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C, and a headphone jack. But it also has a crank. Yes, a crank: a cute, rotating analog controller that flips out from the side.

It also includes a full season of original games, at no extra charge, delivered each week to the system — games in all sorts of genres that are all hopefully surprises.

This looks adorable. Panic is a Portland based company that has their office not that far from where I live; I walk by their customizable sign all the time. The company is also one of the main reasons I started using a Mac after discovering their editor Coda, which was basically revolutionary to me at the time. This little video game system looks like a whole lot of fun and I wish them the best of luck.

Spotify’s Postal Address Insanity

Josh Centers, writing at TidBITS:

Apparently, Spotify requires address verification to try to ensure that all family members are in the same household, so presumably, those addresses need to be entered identically. Did my wife type out the word “bypass” in our address, or did she use an abbreviation? Did she put our box number on the first or second line? Wanting to make sure I got it right, I asked her to check the address format on her account.

Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS?

Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler, writing at Motherboard:

In separate discussions verified by Motherboard, that employee said Twitter hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians.

The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda, he argued.

AI-Produced Music Raises Copyright Questions

Dani Deahl, writing at The Verge:

AI is capable of making music, but does that make AI an artist? As AI begins to reshape how music is made, our legal systems are going to be confronted with some messy questions regarding authorship. Do AI algorithms create their own work, or is it the humans behind them? What happens if AI software trained solely on Beyoncé creates a track that sounds just like her? “I won’t mince words,” says Jonathan Bailey, CTO of iZotope. “This is a total legal clusterfuck.”

I’m filing this article in the “things I wasn’t even thinking about earlier but now can’t stop” folder.

YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant

Mark Bergen, writing for Bloomberg:

Wojcicki and her deputies know this. In recent years, scores of people inside YouTube and Google, its owner, raised concerns about the mass of false, incendiary and toxic content that the world’s largest video site surfaced and spread. One employee wanted to flag troubling videos, which fell just short of the hate speech rules, and stop recommending them to viewers. Another wanted to track these videos in a spreadsheet to chart their popularity. A third, fretful of the spread of “alt-right” video bloggers, created an internal vertical that showed just how popular they were. Each time they got the same basic response: Don’t rock the boat.

Zane Lowe on Why Apple Music Is ‘In the Storytelling Business’

Zane Lowe sat down with Music Business Worldwide to talk about Apple Music and various other topics:

Well the artist, first and foremost, has to create an environment which offers a 360 degree creative experience for fans before we even think about how to collaborate with that [and] help them build their story.

An artist like Billie Eilish thinks in sounds, she thinks in colors, she thinks in visuals, she thinks in collaborations, she thinks in all kinds of different forms of creativity. When you’re dealing with an artist like that, it opens all these other areas that you can help build things around.

Music Labels Sue Charter, Complain That High Internet Speeds Fuel Piracy

Jon Brodkin, writing at Ars Technica:

The music industry is suing Charter Communications, claiming that the cable Internet provider profits from music piracy by failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who illegally download copyrighted songs. The lawsuit also complains that Charter helps its subscribers pirate music by selling packages with higher Internet speeds.

While the act of providing higher Internet speeds clearly isn’t a violation of any law, ISPs can be held liable for their users’ copyright infringement if the ISPs repeatedly fail to disconnect repeat infringers.

Instagram Is the Internet’s New Home for Hate

Taylor Lorenz, writing at The Atlantic:

Instagram is teeming with these conspiracy theories, viral misinformation, and extremist memes, all daisy-chained together via a network of accounts with incredible algorithmic reach and millions of collective followers—many of whom, like Alex, are very young. These accounts intersperse TikTok videos and nostalgia memes with anti-vaccination rhetoric, conspiracy theories about George Soros and the Clinton family, and jokes about killing women, Jews, Muslims, and liberals.

Inside Garageband

Amy Wang, writing at Rolling Stone:

Patrick Stump was livid. On a lurching tour bus rigged with a wobbly Jenga tower of recording equipment, the singer and Fall Out Boy frontman had been trying to lay down demos for the band’s second album — it’d been hours, fiddling with rubber cords and finicky software — and nothing was working well together. Stump can still precisely recall the panic in the moment he finally finished the rough sketch of a song only to see the whole apparatus glitch and crash on his computer. “I just lost it, screaming in the back of a bus,” Stump tells Rolling Stone, a decade and a half later. “When you’re being creative, you just want to get your idea out. When you’re composing, time is everything, because you’re thinking the second guitar has to do this and the background vocals are going to do this and you just want to get it all out as quickly as possible. I thought: I’m not going to be able to do this.”

Madly clicking around on his laptop in search of a new route, Stump happened to open one of its pre-loaded programs. While he’d heard of Garageband, a piece of free software shipped with all Mac computers, he’d thought it was more toy than tool — and no one else was giving it much attention then, in the early 2000s. “But I opened it that first time and never looked back,” says Stump, who talks about the software with a particular fondness, as if remembering his meeting with an old friend. “I just started recording, without having to learn a new program, which was always one of the scariest things about music.”

I really enjoyed this article looking at the 15-year history of Garageband.

MySpace Says It Lost Years of User-Uploaded Music

Shannon Van Sant, writing at NPR:

MySpace — the once-dominant social media platform that was largely subsumed by Facebook — may have lost a decade’s worth of music uploaded by users, the company says. […] According to several media reports, it posted a message on its site recently reading, “As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from MySpace. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Spotify, Google, Pandora, Amazon Go to U.S. Appeals Court to Overturn Royalty Increase

Jem Aswad and Chris Willman, writing at Variety:

Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon have teamed up to appeal a controversial ruling by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board that, if it goes through, would increase payouts to songwriters by 44%, Variety has learned. […] Sources say that Apple Music is alone among the major streaming services in not planning to appeal — as confirmed by songwriters’ orgs rushing to heap praise on Apple while condemning the seemingly unified front of the other digital companies.

Fuck You And Die: An Oral History of Something Awful

Taylor Wofford. writing at Motherboard:

I find Twitter’s situation to be of their own making. They never concretely set out a set of rules. When I first started the forums, I wrote four pages of rules and a catch-all at the end: If there’s something else we don’t like, we’re going to ban you. We have every right to ban you and that’s it. With Twitter, they never defined anything. They never said what’s allowed, what isn’t allowed, what will happen. They just kind of floated around. If something got really out of hand they would get rid of it, but since they had no concrete rules, they had no active moderation, people didn’t know what was or what wasn’t allowed. They dug their own grave and now they’re way too far into it to dig out.[…]

It was an insane amount of work. You’re trying to do your best to make the place better and you’re getting shit on constantly. There’s just no way to win, so you just do your best to enforce the rules that everyone agreed on and hope that some lunatic who got banned doesn’t try to post your address, which has happened to most of them.

I’m not sure how many of you remember Something Awful or the internet in the early 2000s, but as someone that ran a website and forum during that period, I related to a lot of this article. I never spent much time around these specific forums, but faced many of the same challenges at AP.net.

Facebook Wants Up to 30% of Fan Subscriptions

Josh Constine, writing at TechCrunch:

Facebook will drive a hard bargain with influencers and artists judging by the terms of service for the social network’s Patreon-like Fan Subscriptions feature that lets people pay a monthly fee for access to a creator’s exclusive content. The policy document attained by TechCrunch shows Facebook plans to take up to a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue minus fees, compared to 5 percent by Patreon, 30 percent by YouTube, which covers fees and 50 percent by Twitch.

It took me a weekend to build my own using Stripe. I firmly believe you should own the most important parts of your business and the membership system is how we can continue to exist as a publication. The idea of giving 30% to Facebook? Fuck all the way off.

Spotify Purchases Gimlet and Anchor

Spotify has purchased Gilmet, the podcast company, and Anchor, a podcast producing platform:

Based on radio industry data, we believe it is a safe assumption that, over time, more than 20% of all Spotify listening will be non-music content. This means the potential to grow much faster with more original programming — and to differentiate Spotify by playing to what makes us unique — all with the goal of becoming the world’s number one audio platform.

Spotify wants to be the YouTube of audio.

FuckJerry’s Success Is Instagram’s Failure

Brian Feldman, writing for New York Magazine:

The past few weeks have been rough for Elliot Tebele. Tebele is the morally compromised founder of Jerry Media, a media firm founded in 2015 that is the outgrowth of an Instagram account called @fuckjerry. @fuckjerry is a “meme account,” shorthand for a social media account that screenshots funny tweets and freeboots (rips and reuploads) viral videos. To put it another way, @fuckjerry is an account that steals jokes and other content from other users and monetizes it. Instagram, the billion-dollar Facebook subsidiary, has been aware of the account for years and has done nothing to curb its theft of intellectual property.

Twitter Launches New Design

Twitter has a new web interface:

The social network has started rolling out a previously teased web redesign that, for starters, boasts a much simpler look — the three-column view is gone in favor of a simpler (not to mention more vivid) two-column layout. It’s thankfully about more than cosmetics, even if it doesn’t have everything users might like.

Spotify to Introduce “Block/Mute” Feature

Tom Warren, writing at The Verge:

Spotify is getting ready to enable a block feature in its apps to mute artists you don’t want to hear from. Spotify is currently testing the “don’t play this artist” feature in its latest iOS app, and The Verge has been able to test the new block functionality ahead of its release soon. The feature simply lets you block an entire artist from playing, so that songs from the artist will never play from a library, playlist, chart list, or even radio stations on Spotify.

AT&T Says It’ll Stop Selling Your Location Data

After a report earlier this week that the location of almost every phone in the United States could be bought, the carriers are saying they’ll stop doing that:

AT&T said Thursday it will stop selling its customers’ location data to third-party service providers after a report this week said the information was winding up in the wrong hands.

The announcement follows sharp demands by federal lawmakers for an investigation into the alleged misuse of data.

T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T Are Selling Customers’ Location Data

Joseph Cox, writing for Motherboard:

Nervously, I gave a bounty hunter a phone number. He had offered to geolocate a phone for me, using a shady, overlooked service intended not for the cops, but for private individuals and businesses. Armed with just the number and a few hundred dollars, he said he could find the current location of most phones in the United States.

The bounty hunter sent the number to his own contact, who would track the phone. The contact responded with a screenshot of Google Maps, containing a blue circle indicating the phone’s current location, approximate to a few hundred metres.

The bounty hunter did this all without deploying a hacking tool or having any previous knowledge of the phone’s whereabouts. Instead, the tracking tool relies on real-time location data sold to bounty hunters that ultimately originated from the telcos themselves, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, a Motherboard investigation has found. These surveillance capabilities are sometimes sold through word-of-mouth networks.

Holy shit. This is outrageous.