Report: Apple CEO Tim Cook engineered a secret $275 billion deal with China

From The Information, but captured n this article by ArsTechnica:

The nonbinding, five-year deal was signed by Cook during a 2016 visit, and it was made partially to mitigate or prevent regulatory action by the Chinese government that would have had significant negative effects on Apple’s operations and business in the country.

Damning if true. There really should be a law against this, and I’m kind of shocked there isn’t. I doubt the current congress would have the balls to pass a law that would prevent companies from taking what accounts to payola from the chi-coms. And even if they did, El Presidente Idiota surely wouldn’t have the cojones to sign it.

Twitter eschews free speech for arbitrary censorship rules

Rasputin look alike Jack Dorsey hadn’t even given up his parking space before new Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal rolled out a new policy that states:

Under our private information policy, you can’t share the following types of private information or media, without the permission of the person who it belongs to:

home address or physical location information, including street addresses, GPS coordinates or other identifying information related to locations that are considered private;

identity documents, including government-issued IDs and social security or other national identity numbers – note: we may make limited exceptions in regions where this information is not considered to be private;

contact information, including non-public personal phone numbers or email addresses; 

financial account information, including bank account and credit card details; and

other private information, including biometric data or medical records.

NEW: media of private individuals without the permission of the person(s) depicted. 

It’s that last entry that will be viewed as the nail in the proverbial coffin of Twitter as a platform for free speech. Now, of course this rule will be applied unequally. The entity this is most likely directed at is Project Veritas. The guerrilla journalist outfit has made their bones by getting people on camera saying and doing things that are either illegal, unethical, or just contrary to their public positions.

Of course, this rule will also put the legacy media in the crosshairs. Imagine the example of a news outlet running the mugshot of an apprehended criminal. Do you think the criminal will give permission to have that image circulated? Or consider the recent Kyle Rittenhouse shootings and trial. Under Twitter’s new policy, the sharing of the Kyle Rittenhouse videos that showed him on the night of the shootings in Kenosha could be pulled down if Rittenhouse himself objected to their sharing.

Of course, this rule will be applied unevenly and with extreme prejudice to those that Twitter doesn’t like, namely, conservative voices. If you think I’m overhyping this, then consider this scenario.

Rewind to the summer of 2016. Twitter updates their rules to include this new provision. Along comes October, and the Access Hollywood “grab them by the p@ssy” tape is leaked to the press in an attempt to stop the Trump campaign. Do you honestly think Twitter would ban posts that use that media? Of course not.

This rule will stand to only further exemplify how Twitter applies it rules inconsistently, and 99 times out of 100, with malice towards those it disagrees with.

Personally, I think it’s great. I see it as Twitter slitting its own throat and for one can’t wait until it drowns in the blood of its hypocrisy. I’ve long contended that Twitter is a garbage platform run by garbage people giving other garbage people phony cachet and existing solely as an echo chamber for said garbage people to spew garbage things.

Any policy update they make that hastens their arrival at the Myspace funeral home, the better.

Dorsey ditches Twitter gig.

Did he leave on his own or was he pushed out? Doesn’t matter much, as Parag Agrawal, former CTO, is now the CEO.

Apple announces “Self Service Repair” program: parts and tools for customers

In a move that caught just about everyone off guard, and that is surely intended to head off any “right to repair” bills, Apple today announced a new repair program for customers. The “Self Service Repair” program makes parts, tools and manuals available to customers. At first the program will support iPhone 12 and 13 models, followed soon after by M1 Macs. It will start in the US early next year and expand to other countries throughout 2022.

From the PR:

Creating greater access to Apple genuine parts gives our customers even more choice if a repair is needed,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “In the past three years, Apple has nearly doubled the number of service locations with access to Apple genuine parts, tools, and training, and now we’re providing an option for those who wish to complete their own repairs.”

Customers looking to repair their devices will purchase replacement parts, tools and manuals through a new online store. When the repair is completed, the user will send the defective part back to Apple and receive a credit. From the PR:

To ensure a customer can safely perform a repair, it’s important they first review the Repair Manual. Then a customer will place an order for the Apple genuine parts and tools using the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store. Following the repair, customers who return their used part for recycling will receive credit toward their purchase.”

Of course, the devil is always in the details. How much these self service repairs will cost end users remains to be seen.

Still, this is a huge course correction for Apple and a mammoth win for right to repair.

Tesla software update adds Waypoints

Tesla has started rolling out version 2021.40.5, which adds waypoints to navigation. This feature has been one of the most requested features over the last few years. From the release notes:

Add a new stop to your route by tapping the “+” icon on the navigation search button and searching for a destination, or selecting a pin on the map.”

You can monitor the adoption of the new release over at TeslaScope.

Nikon Z9: Flagship camera dispenses with the shutter

Nikon has been hyping the release of their new Z series flagship ‘Z9’ for weeks now. Much was already known about the specs of this camera – 8K 30 (at launch with 8K 60 coming in a firmware update in 2022), 4K 120, 45 megapixel stills, 20 fps shooting at full size, 120 fps shooting at 11 megapixel in JPEG. But the two details that were revealed today were the biggest – first, the Z9 doesn’t have a mechanical shutter. Now, all mirrorless cameras have the ability to shoot via an electronic shutter. But the Z9 is the first serious mirrorless camera to dispense with the mechanical shutter altogether.

One of the main reasons the mechanical shutter continues to live in most mirrorless cameras is something called “rolling shutter”. It’s a phenomena that occurs when shooting with an electronic shutter and the camera is panned while shooting, resulting in the contents being skewed during the pan. This is essentially due to the camera processor not being fast enough to process the data being fed from the shutter properly. Mitigating rolling shutter in stills and especially video is the holy grail on the path to eliminating the mechanical shutter. The benefit of dropping the mechanical shutter are immense. The mechanical shutter is one of the most fragile parts of the camera, and is one that usually has a rated lifespan of actuations before it becomes inoperable and needs to be replaced. So dropping the mechanical shutter should make the camera easier to manufacture and give it a longer lifespan.

The other detail that was a bit of a surprise was the price. $5499. While this is about $1000 more than the Sony Alpha A9 II, of which this camera will be competing with, it is also a more ‘pro’ offering in terms of body ergonomics and features. Most people (myself included), expected this camera to be a good $1000 more, since the D6 – which this camera is intended to replace – costs $6499. And it costs $500 less than the comparable Canon R3. So bravo to Nikon.

Time will tell if the Nikon Z9 will convince pro shooters to stay with Nikon. But if Nikon can manage to produce enough of these, I suspect they will have a hit with pro stills shooters and pro video shooters alike.

M1 MacBook Pro Review Round Up

The new M1 Pro/M1 Max MacBook Pros are starting to reach customers, and the review embargo has been lifted. I ordered a 14″ model on launch day, and should have it sometime next week. Until then, here’s a bunch of reviews from others.