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Tech News and Analysis from around the web

Olivia Carville / Bloomberg:
A look at TikTok's role in spreading the “blackout challenge”, leading some kids to choke themselves to death, as critics say the company could be doing more  —  “Sissy's tangled!”  —  The 5-year-old boy's panicked cries echoed down the hallway of the Arroyos' three-bedroom clapboard house in Milwaukee.

As you may recall, I had the lens in my right eye replaced on Monday. Simple outpatient deal. The result is amazing. Everything is so sharp and clear, colors so vivid. I had been living in a visually foggy and blasé world, now it’s the other extreme, a total acid trip.

Alex Cranz / The Verge:
Amazon Kindle Scribe review: great battery, display, and accessories, but lackluster notetaking, outdated document syncing and software, and small writing delay  —  Amazon's biggest Kindle ever is also the first to let you pair it with a stylus for note-taking.

Financial Times:
A UK court rules Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, Luno, and other exchanges must give customer details to an unnamed UK exchange to track down $10.7M in stolen funds  —  Six exchanges ordered to disclose customer details to help trace funds overseas  —  A London court has ordered cryptocurrency …

It happened for newly logged-in users at startup, as FeedLand loads for the first time.

The first thing the app does is load the user's appPrefs.json file -- it fails, of course -- it hasn't been created yet. It's not an error, although in the JavaScript console it looks like one.

The code as originally written allows for this, but I added something on Nov 8, as part of the Your Feed feature, code that copies something from the place that doesn't exist yet to a place that does, without checking. Boom.

This meant that the rest of the startup code didn't run. The app is sitting there waiting for the first-time user to do something. Everything is blank, none of the commands work, and yet two of them persevered, and reported the problem.

The second report provided a screen shot of the JavaScript console, which pointed me to the problem, almost by accident -- he didn't realize that was the problem, because there were two errors reported before it (as noted above those aren't real errors). If the screen shot had been slightly shorter, I would've been pulling my hair out looking for a needle in the haystack. Instead it pointed exactly to the problem, the code had a comment providing the date it was introduced (Nov 8), and sure enough the first report came after that change. We had tested this functionality at least a dozen times before Nov 8 without problems, so the first time I wrote it off as cosmic rays. Not a good call Dave, in retrospect. A very bad call actually.

Anyway, since the problem cures itself as soon as they get a good logon, it simply wasn't repeatable. But this time, having a theory about where the error was, and I had a virgin Twitter account ready for the test -- I logged in and it was fixed, which I could see as I stepped through the code in the debugger.

But -- I should have tried to repeat it after the first report. But I guess I didn't want to believe the problem was as bad as it was, and I didn't feel like searching for the needle. However if I had done it, presumably I would have looked in the JavaScript console and seen what the problem was and a few hundred more people would have had a good initial experience with FeedLand, instead of the really awful one they actually had.

Many apologies to the people who endured this, it is so freaking embarrassing. I am sorry this happened.

Oy. I have to do better.

Jackie Davalos / Bloomberg:
Memo: DoorDash plans to lay off around 1,250 employees, aiming to curb expenses; sources say that represents around 6% of its workforce  —  DoorDash Inc. is laying off about 1,250 people in an effort to rein in expenses, according to a company memo from Chief Executive Officer Tony Xu viewed by Bloomberg.

Tom Matsuda / The Block:
Brussels-based crypto market maker Keyrock raised a $72M Series B led by Ripple, following a €4.3M Series A in October 2020  —  - Ripple has led a $72 million Series B funding round into digital asset market maker Keyrock.  Six Fintech Ventures and Middlegame Ventures also participated in the round, which closed in September.

Gregory Zuckerman / Wall Street Journal:
Sources detail Alameda's early years, starting in fall 2017, as SBF shrugged off concerns about risky investments, leading several employees to quit in 2018  —  ‘We ended up not really knowing how much money we even had,’ one former employee says  —  Why FTX Picked the Bahamas, and What Happens Now to the Crypto Hub

Ariel Shapiro / The Verge:
Spotify releases Wrapped 2022 for users, adding a “music personality” feature, and says Joe Rogan, Emma Chamberlain, and others were its top podcasters  —  Spotify Wrapped is here, and with it, a slew of year-end charts, data, and graphics ripe for sharing.

Manish Singh / TechCrunch:
The European Central Bank says that bitcoin is “rarely used for legal transactions” and is on the “road to irrelevance”, without citing any strong data points  —  European Central Bank officials alleged on Wednesday that bitcoin is “rarely used for legal transactions …

Juliana Liu / CNN:
Chinese state media: a five-day COVID-19 lockdown in Zhengzhou, home to Foxconn's iPhone plant, has been lifted; an analyst says disruptions cost Apple $1B/week  —  Hong Kong CNN Business —  The central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, home to the world's largest iPhone factory …

Financial Times:
A look at China's growing interest in the open-source Risc-V chip architecture after US sanctions, including enlisting Alibaba and Tencent to help design chips  —  Chinese government steps up push to use Risc-V in move aimed at boosting domestic production of semiconductors

Nikkei Asia:
Sources detail Huawei's plans to stealthily build a domestic chip supply chain with partners in Beijing, Wuhan, Qingdao, and Shenzhen, investing over $55.8B  —  Battered by sanctions, Huawei leads the way in stealthily building a domestic semiconductor supply chain

Financial Times:
SpaceX's Starlink increases the price for new Ukrainian customers to $700, far above the $385 cost from earlier in 2022; monthly subscriptions rise to $75  —  Cost of communications devices made by Elon Musk-owned SpaceX set to rise due to Russian assault on electricity grid

Emily Nicolle / Bloomberg:
Emboldened by FTX's collapse, the disgraced founders of Terra, Celsius, and Three Arrows Capital have reemerged, offering their thoughts on SBF, FTX, and more  —  Welcome to Bloomberg Crypto, our twice-weekly look at Bitcoin, blockchain and more.  If someone forwarded this to you, sign up here.

Josh Horwitz / Reuters:
Analysis of Apple's supply chain data shows 44% to 47% of suppliers were China-based between 2014 and 2019, dropping to 41% in 2020 and 36% in 2021  —  Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) wide exposure to Chinese manufacturing, notable both for its low costs and rising risks, has receded since the COVID-19 pandemic began …

Financial Times:
Interviews detail FTX and SBF's lavish spending, aided by minimal internal controls, including $300M+ on Bahamas real estate and chartering Amazon deliveries  —  When crypto exchange FTX moved its headquarters to the Bahamas from Hong Kong last year, employees discovered that Amazon did not deliver to the island.

A lot of people think I'm too old to ship a product as good as one I shipped N years ago. Those same people think you're rude if you insist that you have done that. I think they get angry, one or two have made fun of me, as if I'm a fool. It's not really very fair or friendly, even though these people may think they're friends. I can think of a dozen people who think I'm rude because I acted like FeedLand is a breakthrough. Or maybe they didn't like the way I said it? Hmm. I wonder how else you could. I've been through this loop over and over. As long ago as 1989 I was thought to be finished as a software dev. I wish it would get easier once. Just once. If I keep beating the drum, I guess when people see I'm not giving up, they might have a look? I'm not giving up, btw. 😄

I learned how to use the web from reporters in 1994. I volunteered to run the SF newspaper strike website, and they were shooting me articles from all over the country, in HTML, and telling me how they wanted them published. Most important -- preserve the links. It was an incredible time of learning and fun and working together. That's when I'm happy, making software for people who have a vision.

A good reason to keep a Twitter account.

Mastodon's scaling is an unknown at this point. And it's growing very quickly.

Had this thought just now when I couldn't get through to either of the instances I frequent.

At least think of Twitter as a backup.

This morning my vision is weird, slightly flawed, but on the whole much better than it was before the surgery yesterday.

The thing I like about the end of 2022 in this part of the internet. My toys are very much on-topic now, after many years of being aggressively ignored by those in-the-know.

I kept wanting to say this. I've been counted out many times only to rise again. Sometimes even I believe that bullshit. I'll keep digging until I can't dig no mo.

A publishing tool that only works with their editor is locking you in.

There are three ways to get content into the Mastodon flow: 1. Activity Streams. 2. The Mastodon API. 3. Feeds.

I guess getting my eye fixed has helped me see more clearly. 💥

Reading some stuff I wrote in 2007 and 2010, I was saddened by how much my blog changed for the worse in a few years, because I was trying to fit into Google Reader's idea of what a blog post was, which was not my own view. I wrote posts of all lengths, some with titles, on their own pages, and others just a sentence or two or a paragraph, many on the same page. They used to coexist in one flow, and it was great! All of a sudden there was a fork, on one side you had to use Twitter and the other side you could use blogging software, on one side you were locked in and in the other you had choice. We've been suffering this division since 2006 or so. But we're in a really good place now because we could rejoin the two flows, and let writers decide how much writing each idea deserves, not a random limit imposed years ago without any clear idea of why. Right now please everyone think about what the world would be like if we had blogs and tweets flowing through one pipe. All kinds of new ways of visualizing flows will develop, the boundaries will melt. You can have it all, I promise, as a software developer. As a writer, we'll learn how to play with length without having to edit to fit an engineer's idea of how writing works. It's as if a geek said to a painter you can only create on a 140 pixel canvas. You could make good art that way, but think of all the art you can't make. I promise, you will be inspired by the new kinds of software we make. Most people using computers today have never been around for a blue-sky boom, where all the rules that were holding us back are gone in an instant. We are there right now folks, let's make the most of the moment.

I was looking for links to prior eye surgeries, on the left eye. Not a good story. I started with decent vision, and a left-eye floater freaked me out. An eye surgeon said they could get rid of it, they did, but there was a new dead spot in the middle of my left eye. This surgery, in 2007, has given me crappy vision since then. Finally I had to get the lens in my right eye replaced, that's what was done today. After this, when the dust settles, my vision should be closer to what it was after the first surgery. The lesson: when a doctor says they can fix a condition, find out in advance if the cure is worse. A floater, I learned later, is harmless. Your brain gets used to and and factors it out, you stop seeing the floater after a while. The best thing to do is wait it out. Bigger lesson: if you can avoid surgery, avoid it.

Dear friends -- I got my right eye fixed today. Was it worth it? Well I had a good all-afternoon nap, so that was pretty good. Now my vision sucks in a new way, but the how-to guide says it'll clear up in a day or two, at most a week. At times the colors are intense, like I imagine an acid trip to be, and some light reflects off objects like a Fourth of July sparkler. I think this is just foreign material being assimilated into human material. Was it worth it? Hmmm. I'll let you know. But I'm pretty sure it was. Your faithful correspondent -- Davey.