The Scale-Up Edition Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Advanced Password Technology Is Making Your Phone Easier For Police To Search, by Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic

As the market adapts to this new convenience, Jackson said, people will, perhaps unwittingly, shift away from passcodes, invisibly changing the stakes of our risk calculus. Continuous authentication, like face recognition before, is a massive scaling-up of processing power, and a showcase for the potency of artificial intelligence. If only our privacy and legal protections could scale up at a similar pace.

It Looks Like Apple Fixed A Problem With 'Manipulation' On The Top Podcast Charts, by Kif Leswing, BusinessInsider

"To my eyes, which hasn't looked at the Apple Podcast platform in a good while, the charts felt distinctly… broken," Nicholas Quah wrote in his newsletter, Hot Pod, a sort of "Paris Review" for the mattress-ad set.

On Tuesday, however, the problem seemed to be fixed: Serial was back to No. 1, closely trailed by Joe Rogan's show and other brand-name podcasts.

Apple didn't respond to an emailed request for comment on Monday, while the charts were still showing an odd ranking, or on Tuesday, after the issue seemed to have been fixed.

Apple Has Acquired Danish Startup Spektral, Focused On Real-Time 'Green Screen' Technology, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Spektral has developed a technology that can intelligently separate people and objects from their original backgrounds in photos and videos, and overlay a new background, resulting in what is called a "cutout." The solution is driven by deep neural networks and spectral graph theory.

Making It Right

CBC Video Claims Apple's Repair Policies Are Abusive, But 'Proof' Falls Far Short, by Mike Wuerthele and Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Rossmann is also very talented at his work, and is incredibly successful. We have sent people emailing us about a difficult or expensive repair to his shop to get a second opinion. But, the CBC's implication that Apple should source repair technicians at each store with that level of talent is ludicrous, and if Apple did it, it would remove any economy of scale that the company holds by using a depot for component-level repair.

Report Details Apple’s Struggles To Tackle iPhone Repair Fraud In China, Which Cost Apple Billions Of Dollars A Year, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The Information is reporting today on Apple’s five-year struggle to tackle iPhone repair fraud. The scheme centres around crime gangs who were buying or stealing iPhones, removing valuable parts like CPUs and screens, and then claiming their devices were broken at Apple Stores and getting the Genius to replace them under warranty. The parts were then sold on.


Apple now requires all warranty iPhone replacements to be sent off to special repair centers that can do more rigorous testing. Apple even added security measures to its iPhone components, including invisible dyes on batteries, and coating iPhone CPUs in special waterproof sealants that are tuned to specific wavelengths.

The Cybersecurity World Is Debating WTF Is Going On With Bloomberg’s Chinese Microchip Stories, by Jason Koebler, Joseph Cox, and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

The prospect of this kind of attack is very real, but the fact that both Bloomberg and the companies named in the story are doubling down is confusing everyone, and a sign that we are probably not done hearing about this story anytime soon.


Apple Launching Season 2 Of Carpool Karaoke For Free Through The TV App Starting October 12, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Apple has today published a new video on its YouTube channel sharing that season two of Carpool Karaoke: The Series will be available via the TV app for free.


Why Is Xiaomi’s Fitness Tracker Detecting A Heartbeat From A Roll Of Toilet Paper?, by Xinmei Shen, Abacus

And just because it’s detecting heart rates on other objects doesn’t necessarily mean it’s inaccurate at detecting your own heart rate. The biomedical engineer pointed out to us that the software is designed for one purpose: To detect a heart rate from a human wrist. They were likely never designed to detect whether they were strapped to a human wrist or a roll of toilet paper, because, uh, who’d do that?

Alexa, Should We Trust You?, by Nicholas Pollock, The Atlantic

Ultimately, virtual assistants could ease us into the kind of conformity L’Engle warned of. They will be the products of an emotion-labeling process that can’t capture the protean complexity of human sentiment. Their “appropriate” responses will be canned, to one extent or another. We’ll be in constant dialogue with voices that traffic in simulacra of feelings, rather than real ones. Children growing up surrounded by virtual companions might be especially likely to adopt this mass-produced interiority, winding up with a diminished capacity to name and understand their own intuitions. Like the Echo of Greek myth, the Echo Generation could lose the power of a certain kind of speech.


If I have learned anything in my years of therapy, it is that the human psyche defaults to shallowness. We cling to our denials. It’s easier to pretend that deeper feelings don’t exist, because, of course, a lot of them are painful. What better way to avoid all that unpleasantness than to keep company with emotive entities unencumbered by actual emotions? But feelings don’t just go away like that. They have a way of making themselves known. I wonder how sweet my grandchildren’s dreams will be.

Myth Busting Banksy, by Jason Bailey, Artnome

I believe Banksy’s people (Pest Control) let Sotheby’s know something was up but saved the details for the great reveal. Score one for Banksy, though there are many other ways he could have protested if they wanted to make the point without benefiting financially from the protest.

Time will tell, but this appears to be a “lose, lose” scenario for Sotheby’s. If they were complicit in staging this, they have effectively turned one of the most prestigious auction houses into a bad episode of Storage Hunters. They lose credibility in an industry where credibility is all that matters. If they were not complicit, they look disorganized, unprofessional, and gullible, at best.

Bottom of the Page

Remember Apple once boasted having pro customers working inside the company so that Apple can make better computers?

Maybe it's time to buy a few game studios and house them inside Apple Park too, so that Apple can make a better Apple TV?


Thanks for reading.