Tech News

Tech News and Analysis from around the web

Manish Singh / TechCrunch:
Qualcomm Ventures says it will invest $97M in Reliance Jio Platforms to acquire a 0.15% equity stake  —  Qualcomm has become the latest high-profile investor in four-year-old Reliance Jio Platforms, which has raised more than $15.7 billion in the past 12 weeks from as many investors.

One of the best commercials ever. I love great commercials.

BTW, I'm really crusing through Brockmire. It's depraved, fascinating, well written and acted. It has a couple of awkward moments, but Hank Azaria is a great actor. You totally get lost in the character.

Poll: "Which site do you respect most for TV and movie reviews?"

I want a system where voters have buddies, like sponsors in a 12-step program, who they commit to voting, and they engage on Election Day and make sure they do. They escort each other to vote. We should have drills. What an incredible demonstration that would be.

There's a great scene in the movie Monster where the lead character interviews for a job in a local bank. She's had a hard life, no job history or résumé. The bank officer explains:

  • "When the beach party is over you don't get to say, you know what, I think now I'd like to have what everyone else has worked their entire life for. It doesn't work that way."

That's the speech the virus is giving to the Republican governors of Texas, Florida, Arizona and all the other states that are collapsing under the weight of the virus after re-opening before they did the hard work of getting the virus under control.

The predictable thing happened. The pandemic exploded.

The analogy to the main character of Monster is pretty close to perfect. The governors may have been naive, as she was, but life doesn't care about that. You have to pay the price before you get the prize.

Charlize Theron in Monster.

The plan

First there's no question the schools will not open in the fall.

We should stop discussing it. It's out of the question. What may happen is they will try to open the schools in a few of the Republican states, and close them within a few days as the rate of infection goes even higher. Cause and effect. You do something stupid and a week later the infections go up, two weeks later the hospitalizations go up and two weeks after that, the death rate goes up.

In this dimension the virus is totally predictable. Opening the schools in a month, with such a high density of infections, is suicidal on both the individual and societal level.

New Covid cases per million.

Here's the plan we would be executing now if we had competent management. I'm not inventing this, it's the protocol they used in China, Vietnam, Singapore, New York, basically everywhere, to defeat the virus. This was a known method back in March. I first heard about it on the Daily podcast.

  1. Nationwide lockdown until the rate of new cases is flat and near the baseline.
  2. Meanwhile stand up national testing and contact tracing. Open source the data so the public can help analyze it. Also useful for teaching the kids, at home, what's going on.
  3. Create a network of places to isolate newly infected Americans. Hotels, convention centers, college dorms, schools.
  4. Once all that has happened we can open the schools.


How bad is it out there? Leah in the Florida panhandle writes, "Any state whose residents keep coming to Florida on vacation will keep getting a taste of it. We’re having our busiest tourist season ever this summer. No masks. No social distancing. A fresh batch comes every Saturday to stay a week. Here’s Publix Watercolor, always packed."

Publix in Santa Rosa Beach, FL.

Bottom line: Until you go through the pain, then the hard work of containing the virus, it's suicidal to re-open the schools. Even if the government tells us we have to commit suicide, the people won't do it. We will learn. The disaster will explode, but we will learn.

Meanwhile teach the kids at home that they're living the consequences of having a poorly educated electorate. Help them study the math and science of viral infections. And study the history, as it's happening.

Nellie Bowles / New York Times:
Chris Larsen, a co-founder of Ripple, is paying for the installation of a private network of over 1,000 security cameras across San Francisco to fight crime  —  Chris Larsen knows that a crypto mogul spending his own money for a city's camera surveillance system might sound creepy.

Yogita Khatri / The Block:
Public records show that the US Secret Service awarded a four-year contract in May to Coinbase to use its blockchain analytics software, worth $183,750 in total  —  Crypto exchange Coinbase is providing its blockchain analytics software to the U.S. Secret Service, according to a public record obtained by The Block.

Christopher Mims / Wall Street Journal:
An overview of how data-driven tech and analytics are reshaping Hollywood's creative development process and market research during the pandemic  —  Coronavirus and the era of stay-at-home binge-watching is accelerating the entertainment industry's reliance on analytics and data to target …

Jake Slobe / Clay and Milk:
Iowa-based Growers Edge, which provides a range of data-driven fintech and analytics tools for the agricultural industry, has closed $40M Series B  —  Growers Edge has announced the close of a $40 million Series B round of financing to accelerate the development of its financial technology products …

Aroon Deep / MediaNama:
Zomato says its FY 2020 revenue was $394M, up 105% YoY, and EBITDA loss reached $293M vs. $277M in FY 2019, as Zomato Gold/Pro had 1.7M subscribers as of March  —  “While FY19 saw hyper-competition between four well-funded food delivery players, FY20 ended with a two player market structure …

Elise Reuter / MedCity News:
Evidation Health, whose tech helps aggregate health data from wearables and other sources for virtual clinical trials, raises $45M Series D led by B Capital  —  Evidation Health, a startup that provides technology for virtual clinical trials, raised $45 million in series D funding.

Arjun Kharpal / CNBC:
China's biggest chipmaker SMIC, a key player in the country's semiconductor ambitions, kicked off a $6.6B share sale on Tuesday in Shanghai  —  - SMIC, China's biggest chipmaker, kicked off a major 46.28 billion yuan ($6.6 billion) share sale on Tuesday.  — The contract semiconductor manufacturer …

Ian Walker / Kotaku:
Ubisoft announces multiple senior executive departures, including its chief creative officer and Canadian studios head, amid company-wide misconduct allegations  —  Serge Hascoët has resigned as Ubisoft's chief creative officer after weeks of damning accounts of sexual misconduct throughout …

Leah Rosenbaum / Forbes:
Telemedicine service Doctor on Demand raises $75M Series D led by General Atlantic, bringing the total raised to $240M  —  Although many industries have suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic, telemedicine is one sector that isn't slowing down.  The demand for virtual doctor's appointments …

Jason Koebler / VICE:
A look at the gray market around repairing ventilators, where technicians use homemade dongles and software secretly shared within the community  —  As COVID-19 surges, hospitals and independent biomedical technicians have turned to a global grey-market for hardware and software …

Catalin Cimpanu / ZDNet:
Mozilla suspends Firefox Send file-sharing service after reports malware operators use it to host and send links with malicious payloads to potential victims  —  Mozilla has temporarily suspended the Firefox Send file-sharing service while it adds a Report Abuse mechanism.

Christopher Dring /
Microsoft's Phil Spencer claims asking studios to make games for Xbox Series X that will also work on Xbox One at launch won't hinder the potential of Series X  —  “Held back is a meme that gets created by people who are too caught up in device competition”

Catalin Cimpanu / ZDNet:
Linux team approves new terminology to replace terms like “master/slave” and “blacklist/whitelist” for new Linux kernel source code and associated documentation  —  Linux creator Linus Torvalds puts stamp on proposal to use neutral language in kernel code and documentation.

First thanks to Allen Wirfs-Brock for his comments on the evolution process for JavaScript. I wanted to let his ideas settle in for a couple of days before responding.

  • I applaud the rule of "don't break existing code." We had the same rule in the RSS world. It was very controversial with some. They wanted to break it. That's what the big debate was about. On one side, mine, trying to maintain continuity, because I and others were developing and deploying software to users that built on RSS. We couldn't afford to change things just for the sake of change. And we had a lot at stake in preserving simplicity, because that kept the barrier to entry low. The more different ways there were to do something, the harder it would be to enter the market, and the leaders could become complacent. We've all seen how markets stagnate when the leaders are protected. I didn't want to see that happen.
  • We had the same rule in the Frontier world . We called it Rule 1, and it was simply this: Don't Break Users. As a joke Rule #1a was: Don't Break Dave. That was meant to tell the team this was personal. If my code was broken, I would probably raise my voice. The rule came about because the guy who was working on the core code would routinely break the upper-level code. To him, the core was never finished, and all the work we were doing at upper levels was just to test his stuff. So he didn't really feel it. I think that's true of many other developers. They don't get that the people who build on their tech are skilled in ways they can't comprehend (and of course vice versa). That's the power of layering tech. It becomes virtually impossible without the No Breakage rule. And you can see it in the market. Good ideas from previous generations are nowhere to be found in today's systems. Because someone wiped the slate clean without any idea how much had been built on it.
    • BTW there's a great story about this in Soul of a New Machine. They were shocked when they saw real people using their product. They had never imagined it, and it felt wrong to them.
  • I have another rule -- "One way of doing something is better than two, no matter how much better the second way is." This is a variant of the famous XKCD cartoon, and of Postel's robustness principle. Postel says be conservative in what you send. I say one way is better than two. Applied to JavaScript, adding the arrow syntax was a mistake. It didn't add any new expressive power to the language, and it meant anyone who needs to read code (i.e. everyone who develops) now has to understand two ways of doing the same thing. Even worse, newbies now have to learn two ways, and they have to learn when to use which way, and all the explaining avoids the truth -- it really doesn't make a difference.
  • "One way is better than two" is another instance of Worse Is Better. Stop trying to make it better. Because that just makes it worse. Good postulates are true from every angle.
  • Another story I like to tell is when we were working on the names for things in XML-RPC the rule was we had to come up with the worst name for each element. So if you thought you had a better name, everyone would laugh. Heh, we don't want that. It's in the groundrules. 💥
  • BTW, I also always use the first form for defining functions, although when I was new to JS, I sometimes used the second form. But the vast majority of my codebase uses form 1.
  • Thanks for the pointer to eslint. It's on my list of things to explore. Right now I have my JS profile committed to memory. But I should formalize it.
  • See also: Rules for standards-makers.

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai / VICE:
Signal's new feature that allows users to store certain data on their servers for recovery purposes has some security experts threatening to stop using the app  —  The popular encrypted app is now going to store your contacts in the cloud.  Experts are worried this compromises users' privacy.

Try to give people who have earned the benefit of the doubt, the benefit. Save outbursts of anger for when there's a real need to alert the other person to imminent danger. Try to not be offended. You want a more civil net? Be the change you wish to see in the world.

One more thing, my disappointment with the EFF, as I discussed yesterday, is that they started off with the hippie ideal, the three founders were immersed in it, but as the EFF grew, they let billionaire monopolists set the agenda. I wanted them to tell the story of podcasting as it was created, by following the grain of the web, not by throwing huge money and installed base at the idea. Sometimes soft power is the way to get something done. They wouldn't even listen, that's how little respect they have for the individual. Why should they, the most I can contribute is a few thousand, Google can contribute millions. Imagine what Bernie Sanders would say. The EFF is a prime example, imho, of flower children losing their way.

On NPR this morning a question that has a simple answer, but no one can seem to find it. How did the flower children of the 60s become the Boomers of the 90s and 00s? Not a good question, because that isn't what happened. Hippies were a very small part of the Boomer generation. George W. Bush is a Boomer, but not a hippie, then or now. And sure, some hippies didn't drop out, but then a bunch of them did. My uncle, for example. He really did live the dream of the hippies. As I read the Lies book, I come to appreciate that there are people applying the scientific method to history, and not accepting the simple and wrong stories of heroes and villains, weak and strong, the savages and the civilized. BTW, some of the hippies became programmers. That's a whole other thread to pick up. That's why the freedoms of the net and the web persist to this day. A fair number of people believe in them, still, and follow the grain, instead of trying to build forts.

Today's song: Can't find my way home.

New version of LO2 this morning with a few minor fixes. As before if you spot problems, please report them here.

Alexa loves the Grateful Dead too.

The EFF started, 30 years ago today, with the right idea, defending speech on the then-nascent net. I gave them $5000 at startup, but ultimately they sold us out to the big tech companies. Now we need a new EFF to reign in the original EFF.

I blogged about my first break with the EFF in 2005. Subsequently I objected to how they defended podcasting from a patent troll, and ultimately the effort to give control of the web to Google, that was the absolute last straw.

They are no longer defending electronic freedom, they are protecting the rich monopolists. Ugh.

The problem with journalism exposed in the age of Trump is they don't do anything. You say oh they're not supposed to. Voice from nowhere, etc. But they rarely carry stories of people who do things. Mostly Trump. Occasionally #BLM or but just for a while. That's it. Why does it matter now? Because we've been needing to do things since November 2016. We figure it out when it's too late. It's a repeating pattern. Maybe we need national activism more than we need journalism? We need something different or else we're hosed.

Why doesn't Dr Fauci have a daily briefing carried by all the networks. Okay we know Trump wouldn't let him, and as long as he's employed by the US govt, Trump can probably stop him. But what if Fauci decided he would be more effective outside of government? Who would bankroll such a venture, as a public service? #savemylife