Tech News

Tech News and Analysis from around the web

Kaya Yurieff / The Information:
TikTok unveils a task force to tackle hate speech and plans to open up its research API to civil society groups, after complaints over Israel-Hamas videos  —  TikTok is preparing a slew of initiatives to defuse growing complaints that antisemitism and other hate speech has proliferated in videos about the Hamas-Israel war.

Chris Dolmetsch / Bloomberg:
A US judge sentences Gene Levoff, the ex-Apple lawyer who pled guilty to insider trading from 2011 to 2016, to four years of probation; Apple fired him in 2018  —  - Gene Levoff was sentenced to four years of probation Thursday  — Judge said the Stanford Law graduate already lost his career

Kyle Wiggers / TechCrunch:
Toronto-based ContactMonkey, which offers an internal communications tool that integrates with Outlook, Gmail, and more, raised a $55M Series A led by Updata  —  Email is quite profitable, as it turns out.  Or rather, email communications software is.  —  Today, ContactMonkey …

Moose the cat sits in Grandma's lap while Lionel the dog keeps her feet warm.

Hayden Field / CNBC:
Q&A with IBM CEO Arvind Krishna on AI's business uses, Biden's EO, rolling out WatsonX in July 2023, growing IBM's AI business, falling behind in AI, and more  —  - IBM is angling hard for an AI comeback story, and CEO Arvind Krishna is counting on a recent pivot to enterprise AI tools in order to get there.

Maxwell Zeff / Gizmodo:
X rolls out xAI's snarky, anti-woke chatbot Grok to X Premium+ users; X CEO Linda Yaccarino describes Grok as “the ultimate ride or die”  —  Select users with X Premium Plus received access to the AI starting Thursday.  —  Elon Musk's snarky, anti-woke chatbot, Grok …

Jay Peters / The Verge:
Meta rolls out tags on Threads, offering support for multiple words and spaces, and no # symbol; posts can only have one tag and the tag view is the search view  —  Tags — basically hashtags with a twist — are now rolling out globally on Threads, Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced on Thursday.

Taylor Soper / GeekWire:
Seattle-based Rhythms, which plans to use AI to analyze companies' patterns, such as monthly reviews and weekly meetings, comes out of stealth with a $26M seed  —  Seattle tech veteran Vetri Vellore is launching a new startup with a big vision to help companies improve their productivity …

Annie Palmer / CNBC:
Amazon tests a $9.99/month grocery subscription service for Prime members, offering unlimited Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh grocery delivery on orders over $35  —  - Amazon is betting members of its Prime program will want to pay a separate monthly fee for unlimited grocery delivery on some orders.

Sources: Ganesh Venkataramanan, who led Tesla's Dojo supercomputer project for five years, left Tesla in November; Tesla executive Peter Bannon now leads Dojo  —  Venkataramanan, who has lead the Dojo project for the last five years, left the company last month, the people said …

Annie Palmer / CNBC:
Amazon tells customers that the company plans to stop accepting Venmo as a payment method on January 10, 2024, after rolling out Venmo support in October 2022  —  - Amazon will no longer allow users to pay with Venmo beginning Jan. 10, according to a notice sent to users.

Kyle Wiggers / TechCrunch:
Users say Google's Gemini Pro is loath to comment on potentially controversial news topics, fails to get basic facts right, and struggles with some coding tasks  —  This week, Google took the wraps off of Gemini, its new flagship generative AI model meant to power a range of products …

I'm following my old programming buddy in FeedLand, on Automattic, via Bluesky. This is the kind of stuff I build. Chains of formats and servers where the interop goes where you want it to. A bell-ringer. bing!

Wall Street Journal:
Sources: Montenegro Justice Minister Andrej Milovic has privately said he plans to extradite Do Kwon to the US rather than South Korea to face criminal charges  —  Alexander Osipovich and Marko Vešović  —  Montenegro's top justice official has privately said he plans …

Mackenzie Hawkins / Bloomberg:
TSMC and Arizona labor unions reach a deal covering foreign workers and more, to resolve labor disputes that have dogged TSMC's fab construction site in Phoenix  —  - Agreement covers workforce training, safety, foreign workers  — TSMC widely expected to get federal money for $40 billion site

Duncan Riley / SiliconANGLE:
Microsoft announces a major security leadership reshuffle as part of its Secure Future Initiative, replacing Bret Arsenault with Igor Tsyganskiy as Global CISO  —  Microsoft Corp. has announced a significant shakeup of its security team, with its long-time leader being put into a new role …

My old friend Chuck Shotton just showed up on Bluesky.

I love Chuck. We've been through a lot together over a long time.

We had a ton of fun in the early days of the web on the Mac. Chuck wrote the HTTP server we all used. And he loved Frontier, so we made our products work incredibly well together.

Those were the days! 😄

Anyway, of course I immediately followed Chuck in Bluesky, but then I realize, I can also follow him in FeedLand because thanks to John Spurlock, we have feeds for every freaking Bluesky user.

Spurlock is a gifted programmer, like Chuck, who thinks creatively and doesn't mind priming the pump of a bootstrap, something Chuck and I have done many times in the past. (Chuck is an largely uncredited contributor to the bootstraps of RSS, XML-RPC, podcasting, object databases, content management systems, hey pretty much everything I've worked on since 1994 or so.)

Okay, now I get to the point.

I want to build with confidence on the feed connection with Bluesky. Today I know the ability to subscribe to a Bluesky RSS 2.0 feed is there, but will it be there in the future? I would feel better if the feed support were built-into Bluesky, part of its basic feature set. Another very simple API that gets ideas out of Bluesky and anywhere feeds go, which is, as you know, everywhere.

Feeds should be the baseline of compatibility between social media platforms.

Working with Spurlock, we have given Bluesky a huge headstart, a lead in what I hope will be a race to feed support in all the social media apps, to hook them up to the worldwide feed bus. It's a way to get interop without having to concede that any comprehensive API is the winner. Think of RSS 2.0 support at the TCP of social networking, offering a LCD compatibility to a world that desperately needs one.

And then after we have that, we can talk about the format of the data we're sending over this network. We have some work to do there too, but luckily the capabilities and limits of RSS 2.0 are a perfect match here.

In summary, the reason we want it is so we can do more with confidence with Bluesky, integrate it into more systems.

The reason the Bluesky people should want it is that it offers a way to interop with all social nets, that will take almost no effort on their part, and there's no guesswork, we already know how to make feeds that will work pretty much everywhere, and it lets them take the lead in what will be an important way to communicate on the net.

And the reason it's good for all of us is we can start viewing the web once again as a fully supported writing environment, and let the writers of the world get to work on solving all our problems (of which we have many) and get the freaking technology out of their way.

Think of it as the feed-iverse, it's easier and more low-level than the fed-iverse, and can be implemented in a weekend. And it's fun!

A corrollary to the textcasting philosophy is that I should be able to use any writing tool I like to post to the web, and have it flow where ever I want. The idea of being forced to use a teeny little edit box to write my wonderful prose is as silly as bunding a word processor with a printer, and forcing you to use that editor if you want to print it with that printer. If I sent you a document written for my Brand X printer but you had Brand Y, sorry -- you can't read it. I'm at the point in my life where I have to explain to young folk how great things were when I was their age, but it's true in this case, when I was in my 20s and 30s, there were simple standards for text, and you could print documents produced by any writing tool on any printer. And as a result a wide variety of writing tools and editors were available, and there was lots of innovation in a very short period of time because everyone had competition they could learn from and had to keep up with. Now there's no reason for Twitter, Facebook, Threads, Instagram, Bluesky, Mastodon or whatever to improve their editors because after all you don't have any choice. That's another important facet of textcasting that we borrow from podcasting -- lots of ways to create and lots of ways to listen mean things can get better. With lock-in, they can't.

Twitter poisoned our minds with the idea that by taking away the basic features of writing on the web they were encouraging people to write shorter, better, more to-the-point posts and that would make communication on the web like poetry. It was a very zen-like mystical idea, and totally wrong complete bullshit. And it's still repeated as if it were gospel -- it's a typical response when I beg for a standard that is more realistic, that incorporates the basic features of web writing: simple styles, links, optional titles, enclosures, the ability to edit and unlimited length. The fallacy of this response is that you are free to write however you want, if you feel your ideas are better communicated in short messages, go ahead. I want to use all the tools in my writing. And if you don't want to read all that I write or any of it, there are tools that make that easy. So everyone wins, and you don't have to try to impose your ideas of religiously pure writing on anyone but yourself.

We could make this election a literary expo. Get the great apocalypse scifi and poliscifi authors to write a daily installment of what President Trump and his governing mafia will be doing on 1/20/25 on 1/20/24. Every day a new atrocity in serial form. A textcast. Finally something worth writing about.

Recreating Twitter is boring. One of these ventures that's trying to do that should blow the doors off the whole thing, and get rid of every limit. Just support writing and reading and get on with it.