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Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails for Gmail Ads

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Mark Bergen, reporting for Bloomberg:

Google is stopping one of the most controversial advertising formats: ads inside Gmail that scan users’ email contents. The decision didn’t come from Google’s ad team, but from its cloud unit, which is angling to sign up more corporate customers.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google Cloud sells a package of office software, called G Suite, that competes with market leader Microsoft Corp. Paying Gmail users never received the email-scanning ads like the free version of the program, but some business customers were confused by the distinction and its privacy implications, said Diane Greene, Google’s senior vice president of cloud. “What we’re going to do is make it unambiguous,” she said.

This is terrific news. Not just because it’s a good policy change in and of itself, but I take it as a sign that Google’s leadership is starting to realize how much damage they’ve done to the company’s reputation by playing fast and loose with their users’ privacy.

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jimwise
2 days ago
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reconbot
2 days ago
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New York City
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Windows 10... still suboptimal

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It's just not good enough

I've been buying and trying to use a number of Windows 10 machines. In the past year, I've bought a Yoga 910, ThinkPad T460p, and a Surface Pro 4 i7. I can't live with any of these machines like I live with my iPad or my Mac.

It's mostly the little things.

Wireless

The Windows machines just seem to lose their wireless device. Once every week or two, I'll open the machine and the machine won't be able to find its wireless device. I have to reboot the device. I live in my apps (browser tabs, LastPass, IntelliJ, etc.) for long periods of time. If I have to reboot, I have to re-enter passwords, recreate REPL sessions, etc. It's a real productivity killer.

Power

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jimwise
4 days ago
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yup...
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Here’s the Dashcam Footage of the Philando Castile Shooting

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I don’t know what to say about this. Philando Castile had been pulled over because he and his girlfriend “looked like” people who had been involved in a robbery. Nevertheless, for the first minute it’s an ordinary traffic stop, with both officers able to get a good look at Castile and his girlfriend. Then Castile tells one of the two officers that he has a gun in the car:

Castile, calmly: Sir, I have to tell you I do have a firearm on me.

Officer, calmly: Okay, don’t reach for it then.

Officer loosens gun and pulls it halfway out of its holster.

Castile, calmly: I’m, I, I was reaching for…

Officer, deliberately: Don’t pull it out.

Castile, calmly: I’m not pulling it out.

Girlfriend: He’s not…

Officer, panicky: Don’t pull it out!

Officer fires seven gunshots in two seconds.

Officer, panicky, nearly in tears: Don’t pull it out. Don’t move. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Don’t move. Don’t move.

I’m not a cop. I don’t know what it’s like to be a cop. But it’s hard to believe this had to happen. It’s dusk, so there’s enough light to see by. The other officer on the scene is calm the entire time, with his hands up around his chest. He doesn’t seem to think Castile presents any threat. And even if the first officer was being overly cautious, surely having his gun drawn and ready to fire was sufficient. Nothing in this scene makes it look like he had a good reason to fire when he did.

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jimwise
5 days ago
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A Long Sleep

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https://books.google.com/books?id=tYpJAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA7

Canadian science writer Grant Allen’s 1889 essay “Seven-Year Sleepers” contains an eye-opening passage:

A certain famous historical desert snail was brought from Egypt to England as a conchological specimen in the year 1846. This particular mollusk (the only one of his race, probably, who ever attained to individual distinction), at the time of his arrival in London, was really alive and vigorous; but as the authorities of the British Museum, to whose tender care he was consigned, were ignorant of this important fact in his economy, he was gummed, mouth downward, on to a piece of cardboard, and duly labelled and dated with scientific accuracy, ‘Helix desertorum, March 25, 1846.’ Being a snail of a retiring and contented disposition, however, accustomed to long droughts and corresponding naps in his native sand-wastes, our mollusk thereupon simply curled himself up into the topmost recesses of his own whorls, and went placidly to sleep in perfect contentment for an unlimited period. Every conchologist takes it for granted, of course, that the shells which he receives from foreign parts have had their inhabitants properly boiled and extracted before being exported; for it is only the mere outer shell or skeleton of the animal that we preserve in our cabinets, leaving the actual flesh and muscles of the creature himself to wither unobserved upon its native shores. At the British Museum the desert snail might have snoozed away his inglorious existence unsuspected, but for a happy accident which attracted public attention to his remarkable case in a most extraordinary manner. On March 7, 1850, nearly four years later, it was casually observed that the card on which he reposed was slightly discoloured; and this discovery led to the suspicion that perhaps a living animal might be temporarily immured within that papery tomb. The Museum authorities accordingly ordered our friend a warm bath (who shall say hereafter that science is unfeeling!), upon which the grateful snail, waking up at the touch of the familiar moisture, put his head cautiously out of his shell, walked up to the top of the basin, and began to take a cursory survey of British institutions with his four eye-bearing tentacles. So strange a recovery from a long torpid condition, only equalled by that of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, deserved an exceptional amount of scientific recognition. The desert snail at once awoke and found himself famous. Nay, he actually sat for his portrait to an eminent zoological artist, Mr. [A.N.] Waterhouse; and a woodcut from the sketch thus procured, with a history of his life and adventures, may be found even unto this day in Dr. [S.P.] Woodward’s ‘Manual of the Mollusca,’ to witness if I lie.

This appears to be true: Samuel Peckworth Woodward’s 1851 Manual of the Mollusca contains the portrait above, marked “From a living specimen in the British Museum, March, 1850,” and James Hamilton’s 1854 Excelsior describes the snail’s return to life: “The specimen was immediately detached, and immersed in tepid water. After the lapse of a period not exceeding ten minutes, the animal began to move, put forth its horns, and cautiously emerged from its shell. In a few minutes more it was walking along the surface of the basin in which it was placed. The last time it had exercised its locomotive faculty was in the sandy plains of Egypt, not far from the banks of the Nile.”

Hamilton says it spent the rest of its existence in a glass enclosure, feasting on cabbage and taking an eight-month nap in 1851. It died finally in March 1852. “Such was the end of the Egyptian snail, and it was with some feeling of regret that its death was recorded.”

(Via Metafilter.)

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jimwise
8 days ago
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Ten on Comey, Etc.

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You’ve heard of “hot takes”? Well, let me give you some cold takes, where the Comey hearing is concerned. A few points, some light and minor, some heavy and major. 1) Comey said, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” I hope so too. That would help clear up who’s telling the truth and who’s not. But I want to focus on the word “Lordy.” It reminded me of “Lawzy.” My great-aunt -- and great aunt -- said it now and then. I never heard anyone else say it -- until the first President Bush said it. I was amazed, and thrilled. My aunt
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jimwise
10 days ago
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caneylan
9 days ago
the article linked in 10) is worth the read too.
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★ The 2017 iPad Pros

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I’ve spent the last week using a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and this is, in many ways, the easiest product review I’ve ever written. There are several significant improvements to the hardware, and no tradeoffs or downsides. There is no “but”.

  • Display: The new iPad Pros have the best displays of any computer I’ve ever seen. True Tone plus ProMotion is simply terrific. (The first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro didn’t have True Tone; with these new models, the only noticeable difference between the 12.9- and 10.5-inch models is the size.) You really do have to see the 120 Hz refresh rate in person — and play with it while scrolling content on screen — to get it. You can actually read text as it’s moving during a scroll. It’s not as significant as the jump from non-retina to retina, but it’s in that ballpark.

  • Pencil: The latency of the Apple Pencil on a first-generation iPad Pro is the best I had ever seen for any stylus on any device at any price. The latency of the Apple Pencil on the new iPad Pro is so much better — so much closer to ink-on-paper imperceptibility — that you have to try it to believe it. It’s the one thing that really makes the first-gen iPad Pro feel “slow”.

  • Size: The increase in size is perfect. The footprint for a “regular” iPad has, until now, remained unchanged since the original iPad in 2010. That 9.7-inch display size was nearly perfect. This 10.5-inch display size is better though. Apple said during the keynote that typing on the on-screen keyboard is surprisingly better given just a bit more room, and I agree. And typing on the Smart Keyboard cover is way better than on last year’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro. In hand it doesn’t feel bigger at all. It feels like there were no trade-offs whatsoever in increasing the display size and overall device footprint. Part of that is because the weight has remained completely unchanged. I have had zero problems — not one — with the decreased bezel area. Apple’s inadvertent touch detection game is on point.

  • Battery: Battery life is great, as expected.

  • Performance: Apple’s in-house chip team continues to amaze. No one buys an iPad because of CPU benchmarks, but the new iPad Pro’s CPU performance is mind-boggling. Forget about comparisons to the one-port MacBook — the iPad Pro blows that machine out of the water performance-wise. The astounding thing is that the new iPad Pro holds its own against the MacBook Pro in single-core performance — around 3,900 on the Geekbench 4 benchmark for the iPad Pro vs. around 4,200–4,400 for the various configurations of 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros.1 Multi-core performance has effectively doubled from the first generation of iPad Pro. That sort of year-over-year increase just doesn’t happen anymore, but here we are. The new iPad Pro gets a multi-core Geekbench 4 score of around 9200; the brand-new Core M3-based MacBook gets a multi-core score of around 6800. Again, this isn’t why people buy iPads — the iPad took off like a rocket in 2010 back when it was way slower (way way way slower) than even the slowest MacBook — but I think it is vastly underappreciated just how significantly Apple’s chip team is pulling ahead of the industry, especially Intel.2


All that said, the real story of these new iPad Pro models can’t be told today, because that story is iOS 11. I think iOS 11’s iPad-focused features are the entire reason why Apple waited until WWDC to unveil them. They could have held an event for them back in April, when they released the new starting-at-just-$329 9.7-inch iPad, but if they did, the only new software they could have demoed was Clips. I love Clips, but it’s just a fun little tool and doesn’t show off anything particular to iPad compared to iPhone.

Again, the new iPad Pro hardware is almost too good to be true, but the iPad story Apple unveiled last week is iOS 11.

It’s not fair to review a product running a developer beta of the OS — let alone the first (and generally buggiest) beta. So let’s stop the “review” right here: the new iPad Pros running iOS 10.3.2 are the best iPads ever made. You shouldn’t hesitate to buy one today, and if you do, you should wait until iOS 11 ships in the fall to upgrade, or at the very least wait for a non-developer public beta of iOS 11 this summer before upgrading.

But if you are reckless enough to install the iOS 11 beta on the new iPad Pro? Holy smokes is this better. I used the iPad Pro for a full week with iOS 10.3.2 because that’s the product that’s shipping, but after upgrading to iOS 11 beta 1 this morning and using it to write this entire review,3 I’m just blown away by how much more useful this machine is, and how much easier it is to work with 5 or 6 apps at a time.

I would never recommend running a beta of any OS on any device that’s used for production purposes, so don’t take this as such, but for me personally, I can’t see going back to iOS 10.3.2 on any iPad that can handle it. It feels like a hand has been untied from behind my back, and this amazing hardware has finally been allowed to run free.


  1. You can browse Geekbench’s database of results for Mac and iOS↩︎

  2. Apple’s A10X chip is so high-performing that I think it’s put Apple in a slightly uncomfortable position marketing-wise. They can’t brag about it fully without making Intel (and by implication, their own MacBooks) look bad, and Intel remains an important partner for Apple. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the most impressive iPad demo during the keynote (and the one that contained the most bragging about its performance compared to PCs) was done by a third-party developer — Ash Hewson of Serif, demonstrating Affinity Photo — not Greg Joswiak or anyone else from Apple. ↩︎︎

  3. Full disclosure: I went back to my Mac to write these 3 footnotes. That’s due more to the byzantine way I mark footnotes up than any limitation inherent to iOS vs. MacOS. But it feels worth noting. ↩︎︎

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jimwise
13 days ago
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