Technology

Technology

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.

A Look Back at Digital Music Piracy in the 2000s

Abhimanyu Ghoshal, writing at TNW:

What was particularly interesting back then was the wide range of ingenious methods people used to share tunes. Back in the day, people went beyond simply hosting music on public-facing websites, and instead, found ways to send and receive tracks directly with other internet users. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and take a look at some of the ways people grew their music collections in the late 90s and early 2000s.

How Much of the Internet Is Fake?

Max Read, writing for New York Magazine:

How much of the internet is fake? Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”

Wonderful.

Twitter Is Relaunching the Reverse-Chronological Feed

Casey Newtom, writing for The Verge:

Twitter is offering users another escape hatch from its ranked timeline. The company said today that it will introduce a prominent new toggle in the app to switch from the ranked timeline to the original, reverse-chronological feed. The company says the move comes in recognition of the fact that Twitter is often most useful in real time, particularly during live events such as sports games or the Oscars.

How YouTube Built a Radicalization Machine for the Far-Right

Kelly Weill, writing for The Daily Beast:

YouTube has become a quiet powerhouse of political radicalization in recent years, powered by an algorithm that a former employee says suggests increasingly fringe content. And far-right YouTubers have learned to exploit that algorithm and land their videos high in the recommendations on less extreme videos. The Daily Beast spoke to three men whose YouTube habits pushed them down a far-right path and who have since logged out of hate.

We built all these tools, we wrote the code to keep people engaged, to keep them watching and clicking ads, and pushed it out into the world without ever thinking about the consequences. The other day I opened up YouTube in a browser I never use, via a VPN in incognito mode, and it was about six videos before I started getting recommended anti-feminism shit from known bigots. This is bad.

Tumblr to Ban Adult Content

Tumblr will ban all “adult content” from their platform beginning on December 17th:

Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay — so long as sex acts aren’t depicted — and so are breastfeeding and after-birth photos.

Instagram Adds “Close Friends” Feature

Instagram has introduced a new “close friends” feature:

To use the new feature, open up the Stories camera and take a photo or video. After you finish your shot, you’ll notice a new green circle with a white star in it. Tap it, and you’ll be brought to the close friends list where you can add people to your inner circle. Instagram will suggest friends to you based on the people you interact with most, or you can use a search box to finish your list. In testing, people typically added around two dozen people, says Robby Stein, product lead at Instagram.

Apple Event Roundup

The Verge has a pretty good roundup of the Apple announcements today:

After a busy fall announcement season, Apple has unveiled what’s expected to be the last of its hardware refreshes this year with the introduction of a new iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. All new devices are available for preorder today with a ship date of November 7th. Here’s a look at them all.

That new iPad sure looks great.