Well this post has been sitting as a draft since the end of last summer. I started classes again, so now seems like a good time go over notes from last time!
On learning a new skill
It’s almost commonplace in Seattle, for people to have read or remembered the story of The Boys in the Boat. The book tells the history of the University of Washington rowing team that competed in the Berlin Olympics in 1936. It captures the feel of the sport through the teamwork, bonds, and drive of those on the UW crew, but also recounts what life what like in Seattle years ago.
This made quite the ruffle today when Google transferred the domain duck.com to the privacy focused search engine DuckDuckGo.
Google’s ownership of Duck.com was previously a source of frustration for DuckDuckGo, when it would redirect users to Google’s rival homepage instead of DuckDuckGo. Google kindly tried to clear up this confusion in July by adding a DuckDuckGo link to the page. Visiting Duck.com now redirects users straight to DuckDuckGo.
The New York Times released a report (with some fancy graphics) detailing location data use by apps for advertising, outside the main purpose of the app. Only 10 apps were covered in depth, but the findings reveal how some advertising companies aggregate location data from apps.
It is increasingly difficult to trust someone calling from a phone call you don’t recognize. Not only are scammers calling from numbers that seem to be in your area, but they are also impersonating family members in distress.
The dirty little secret about elder exploitation is that almost 60 percent of cases involve a perpetrator who is a family member,according to a 2014 studyby Lachs and others, an especially fraught situation where victims are often unwilling, or unable, to seek justice. Such manipulation sometimes involves force or the threat of force
This trick has been around for a while, but there are new defenses available to guard against the scam.
On Feb. 5, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, an industry body, put into effect “the first uniform, national standards to protect senior investors.” It now requires members to try to obtain a trusted contact’s information so they can discuss account activity. It also permits firms to place temporary holds on disbursements if exploitation is suspected.
Interesting idea; a two person authentication for account transactions, but it still may be easy to beat the system.
Loewy, who left her job as a prosecutor in 2014 to join EverSafe, a startup that makes software to monitor suspicious account activity, is underwhelmed by the industry projects.
“They may say they’re focused on it, but they aren’t really doing much more than training employees,” she says. “Exploiters know what they’re doing. They take amounts under $10,000 that they know won’t get picked up by fraud and risk folks at banks. And they steal across institutions over time.”
In his post Nobody is immune to ads, Georges Abi-Heila explores the psychology of how humans react to the barrage of brands and ads we see every day.
There’s no scientific consensus on the number of ads we’re exposed to daily, as estimates vary from a few hundreds to thousands. Why is it so hard to get a reasonable figure? Because it depends on a variety of factors that greatly affect the final result (sorted by level of importance):
What is considered an ad? Including brand labels and logos can increase 10x the final result. Think about every time you pass by a brand name in a supermarket, the label on everything you wear, the condiments in your fridge, the cars on the highway… Where does the subject live? The denser your living environment, the more ads you’re exposed to as companies fiercely compete for your attention (and, ultimately, your wallet). Visual pollution is one of the drawbacks of living in big city… What is the subject’s job? During work hours, a hotel receptionist sees a lot less ads than a truck driver which is less exposed than a social media manager.
Want to see an interesting example? Have an iPhone? Ignore for a moment all the brands you see from the icons on your home screen, this one is more subtle. What does it say in the top left corner?
It made him sad, he told me, to see people build things that destroy their own societies, but he works every day to maintain an academic distance and remind himself that humans are just animals. “Part of it is really coming from seeing humans as apes, that this is how they behave,” he said, adding, “They’re chimpanzees. They’re sapiens. This is what they do.”
. . .
“It’s just a rule of thumb in history that if you are so much coddled by the elites it must mean that you don’t want to frighten them,” Mr. Harari said. “They can absorb you. You can become the intellectual entertainment.”
. . .
He told the audience that free will is an illusion, and that human rights are just a story we tell ourselves. Political parties, he said, might not make sense anymore. He went on to argue that the liberal world order has relied on fictions like “the customer is always right” and “follow your heart,” and that these ideas no longer work in the age of artificial intelligence, when hearts can be manipulated at scale
The trick for putting an end to our anxieties, he suggests, is not to stop worrying. It’s to know which things to worry about, and how much to worry about them. As he writes in his introduction: “What are today’s greatest challenges and most important changes? What should we pay attention to? What should we teach our kids?”
The Exponent podcast is back! And there’s a lot of news regarding pressure to change existing App Store pricing models.
it seems incredibly worrisome to me anytime any company predicates its growth story on rent-seeking: it’s not that the growth isn’t real, but rather that the pursuit is corrosive on whatever it was that made the company great in the first place. That is a particularly large concern for Apple: the company has always succeeded by beingthe best; how does the company maintain that edge when its executives are more concerned with harvesting profits from other companies’ innovations?
Developers receive 88% of revenue. There are no tiers or thresholds. Epic takes 12%. And if you’re using Unreal Engine, Epic will cover the 5% engine royalty for sales on the Epic Games store, out of Epic’s 12%.
I believe that one reason podcasts have exploded is that they carry so much friction: They’re long and messy, they often take weeks or months to produce, they’re hard to clip and share and skim — and as a result, they’re calmer, more human, more judicious, less crazy-making.
Writing . . . is full of friction. It’s hard and slow, and the words on the page fall short of the music and clarity I imagined they’d have. But it is, in the end, rewarding. It’s where I have at least a chance to create something worth creating. The work is worth it.