Web Excursions 2021-09-16

Matt Levine on the SEC case against App Annie

  • Your hedge fund is in the business of getting “edge.”

    • It wants to know things that other people do not know, in order to buy the stocks that will go up.

  • Another way to get edge, quite popular these days, is to buy “alternative data.”

    • The car-counting is a classic story of alternative data,

    • but the way alternative data mostly works in practice is that a lot of people use apps on their mobile phones, and

    • everyone involved in the mobile app business is harvesting data and frantically selling it to each other and to hedge funds.

  • [The collection and sale of app usage data as alternative data is fine if] everybody has consented to the use of their information, so you can use it freely.

    • If at any point in that chain — which can have more or fewer links than I wrote in the previous paragraph — someone doesn’t give permission,

      • then the data is misappropriated.

    • If you use that data in your trading, you are insider trading, trading based on misappropriated material nonpublic information.

    • Also the person doing the misappropriating — the person passing along data without permission — is also engaged in insider trading, if they know that you’re going to be using it to trade.

  • Yesterday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought a pretty important enforcement action against a company called App Annie Inc. and its former chief executive officer, Bertrand Schmitt;

    • Schmitt and App Annie settled for about $10 million.

    • App Annie got data from apps and sold it to hedge funds

      • without using best practices of fully informed consent

  • Basically if you are a company with an app, you can use an App Annie product for free to, like, see how good your app is

  • App Annie provides a free analytics product called “Connect” to companies that offer apps,

    • including public companies, which enables those companies to track how their apps are performing.

    • As a condition of their use of Connect, those companies provide App Annie with their app store credentials

      • to allow App Annie to collect their confidential app performance metrics (“Connect Data”).

    • App Annie tells Connect users that

      • it will generate estimates of app performance using their Connect Data,

      • but that it will only use Connect Data in aggregated and anonymized form to generate those estimates.

  • App Annie’s business model relied on selling estimates of how apps belonging to certain companies were performing.

    • App Annie sold these estimates through a paid subscription product called “Intelligence,”

  • these “estimates” worked like this:

    • App Annie used aggregated anonymous data from the apps it tracks to build a statistical model of how apps with certain characteristics perform.

    • It used that model to generate an estimate of how each particular company’s app performed.

    • Then it checked that estimate against how the app actually performed, which it knew, from collecting that app’s data, and corrected the estimate to reflect the actual performance.

  • To make these manual alterations, the Delivery Team looked at confidential Connect Data, including public company app performance data.

  • App Annie created a manual process

    • whereby a “Delivery Team,” which consisted of a subset of App Annie engineers based in Beijing, China,

    • made manual alterations to estimates

      • generated by the statistical model

      • before they were delivered to Intelligence subscribers.

  • if you are a hedge fund lawyer, now you are on notice that you should be asking your alternative data providers some tougher questions.

The American Style of Quotation Mark Punctuation Makes No Sense

  • There are different ways of combining quotation and punctuation marks.

    • In the American style, you almost always put periods and commas inside the quotation marks:

    • In the British style, you put periods and commas outside the quotation marks,

      • unless they are part of a complete sentence that is fully contained between the quotation marks:

  • Since a period marks the end of a sentence, it should not be placed before marking the end of the quotation

  • You can compare this with

    • nested or hierarchical structures, or with

    • stacks, or even with

    • first in, first out methods of computing, systems theory or asset management.

  • Under any comparison, the British style will seem preferable to the American.

    • You resolve the nested item first, before resolving the parent.

  • [The only exception is when] what is being quoted is a full sentence.

    • [where] We are placing the period to mark the end of the inner, quoted sentence.

Chapter 5. Hacker Writing Style

  • Hackers tend to use quotes as balanced delimiters like parentheses, much to the dismay of American editors.

  • It is counter-intuitive to hackers to mutilate literal strings with characters that don't belong in them.

  • Given the sorts of examples that can come up in discussions of programming, American-style quoting can even be grossly misleading.

    • When communicating command lines or small pieces of code, extra characters can be a real pain in the neck.

Apple CPU Gains Grind to a Halt and the Future Looks Dim as the Impact From the CPU Engineer Exodus to Nuvia and Rivos Starts to Bleed In

  • Apple in general was very clammy about the A15 comparison in the new iPhone reveal.

    • Instead of comparing it to the previous generation like they usually do, they opted to compare to ambiguous “competitors.”

  • The CPU is claimed to be 50% faster than the competition

    • while GPU is claimed to be 30% or 50% faster

      • depending on whether it is 4 cores or 5 cores.

  • The most important thing to note is that the CPU gains are identical from the A12 to A14 as they are from A12 to A15.

    • The GPU gains are quite impressive with a calculated 38.5% improvement.

    • This is larger than the A13 and A14 improvements combined.

  • They are sticking with a 16 core NPU which is now at 15.8 TOPs vs 11 TOPs for the A14.

  • the system cache has doubled to 32MB.

  • [We] also believes Apple moved to LPDDR5 from LPDDR4X

  • They state the new iPad mini has a 40% faster CPU and 80% faster GPU versus the previous iPad mini which contained the A12.

    • These are performance gains are generally paltry despite a huge increase from 11.8B transistors to 15B.

    • Furthermore, with next year’s A16 on the N4 process rather than N3, gains look to continue to slow.

  • Apple is clearly investing their transistor budget in the non-CPU aspects of the SOC.

    • Fixed function and heterogenous compute reign supreme.

  • The brain drain continues and impacts will be more apparent as time moves on.

    • As Apple once drained resources out of Intel and others through the industry, the reverse seems to be happening now.

    • In 2019, Nuvia was founded and later acquired by Qualcomm for $1.4B.

      • Apple’s Chief CPU Architect, Gerard Williams, as well as over a 100 other Apple engineers left to join this firm.

    • Rivos Inc, a new high performance RISC V startup which includes many senior Apple engineers.

  • We believe Apple had to delay the next generation CPU core due to all the personnel turnover Apple has been experiencing.

    • Instead of a new CPU core, they are using a modified version of last year’s core.

  • Regardless of the paltry CPU gains and potential core architecture delays, Apple is still the leader in performance per watt.

    • With Intel design teams starting to get back on track,

    • AMD executing almost flawlessly, and

    • Qualcomm coming in soon like a hammer with Nuvia cores,

    • we aren’t sure if this lead will be sustained.

  • The A11 to A12 generation was seen as Apple starting to asymptote out on gains with only a 15% gain, and

    • the A13 to A14 looked even more weak with 8.3% gains, but now with no CPU gains,

    • let's cross our fingers and hope the A16 brings a large architectural change.

Apple Watch Series 7 Tidbits

  • As noted by Steve Troughton-Smith, the CPU in the S7 chip carries the same t8301 identifier as the CPU in the previous S6 chip, which explains why Apple's performance claims are unchanged relative to the S6.

  • With the Apple Watch Series 5, Apple included the S5 chip that carried the same CPU as its predecessor but with the addition of a gyroscope

  • With the larger display on the Series 7, the S7 chip is likely to have been tweaked to continue providing customers with all-day battery life while still powering the larger, more advanced display.

Designing Beautiful Shadows in CSS

  1. Creating a cohesive environment by coordinating our shadows.

    1. Each element on the page should be lit from the same global light source.

    2. The box-shadow property represents the light source's position using horizontal and vertical offsets.

      • To ensure consistency, each shadow should use the same ratio between these two numbers.

    3. As an element gets closer to the user, the offset should increase, the blur radius should increase, and the shadow's opacity should decrease.

    4. You can skip some of these calculations by using our intuition.

  2. Using layering to create more-realistic shadows.

  3. Tweaking the colors to prevent “washed-out” gray shadows.

Web Excursions 2021-09-15

Microspeak: Persona by Raymond Chen

  • A persona is a way of giving a concrete manifestation to a customer segment.

  • when you join a product, you need to learn who their customer personas are,

    • so you can understand this sort of shorthand when it arises in documents or meetings.

  • Within the product teams, it was common to refer to the persona as a real person.

    • Instead of saying, “How would our typical home user feel about this?”

    • we would ask “How would Abby feel about this?”

Nikhil Kothari's Weblog : Applying personas

we have three primary personas across the developer division:

  • Mort, the opportunistic developer,

    • likes to create quick-working solutions for immediate problems and

    • focuses on productivity and learn as needed.

  • Elvis, the pragmatic programmer,

    • likes to create long-lasting solutions addressing the problem domain, and

    • learn while working on the solution.

  • Einstein, the paranoid programmer,

    • likes to create the most efficient solution to a given problem, and

    • typically learn in advance before working on the solution.

Persona (user experience) - Wikipedia

  • A persona, (also user persona, customer persona, buyer persona) in user-centered design and marketing is

    • a fictional character

    • created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.

  • Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation,

    • where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of specific segments.

  • In most cases, personas are synthesized from data collected from interviews with users.

Web Excursions 2021-09-14

On the Link Between Great Thinking and Obsessive Walking by lithub.com

  • Darwin’s best thinking, however, was not done in his study.

    • It was done outside, on a lowercase d–shaped path on the edge of his property.

    • Darwin called it the Sandwalk.

    • Today, it is known as Darwin’s thinking path.

  • He would pile up a mound of flints at the turn of the path and

    • knock one away every time he passed

    • to ensure he made a predetermined number of circuits

    • without having to interrupt his train of thought.

  • JeanJacques Rousseau once said, “There is something about walking which stimulates and enlivens my thoughts.

    • When I stay in one place I can hardly think at all;

    • my body has to be on the move to set my mind going.”

  • Dickens wrote, “The road was so lonely in the night,

    • that I fell asleep to the monotonous sound of my own feet, doing their regular four miles an hour,”

    • “Mile after mile I walked, without the slightest sense of exertion, dozing heavily and dreaming constantly.”

The Apple v. Epic Decision

  • while I do think Apple’s anti-steering provision is anti-competitive, this injunction is an odd outcome of this specific case, and a source of much confusion about what this decision was actually about.

  • Supreme Court precedent is extremely skeptical that there are single brand markets, and

    • the primary exception (Eastman Kodak) is only applicable if customers are unaware of aftermarket limitations at the time of purchase.

    • In fact, customers are not only aware of Apple’s walled garden policies, but it is in fact a selling point for the iPhone,

      • which means customers know what they are getting into when they choose the iPhone over Android.

  • The strong distinction Judge Gonzales Rogers draws between games and non-gaming apps:

    1. given this market definition, this case was only about mobile games.

      • That is good news for app developers who have their own antitrust complaints about Apple’s policies, and

      • also a reason for Apple to not take this ruling as a complete endorsement of their policies.

    2. Second, this ruling does suggest that Apple ought to — and now has the judicial imprimatur to — treat games differently than other apps.

      • so much of the company’s App Store troubles have come from applying rules and regulations

        • that are appropriate for games to other areas of the App Store that are totally different, and

        • now the company has license to come up with two sets of rules for two different markets.

  • a larger problem in many tech markets: the tendency towards duopoly, which often lets one company cover for the other acting anti-competitively

    • [Apple & Google’s duopoly in the mobile app distribution market] isn’t the only duopoly:

      • Google and Facebook jointly dominate digital advertising,

      • Microsoft and Google jointly dominate productivity applications,

      • Microsoft and Amazon jointly dominate the public cloud, and

      • Amazon and Google jointly dominate shopping searches.

    • And, while all of these companies compete, those competitive forces have set nearly all of these duopolies into fairly stable positions

      • that justify cooperation of the sort documented between Apple and Google,

      • even as any one company alone is able to use its rival as justification for avoiding antitrust scrutiny.

  • the intellectual property to which Apple is entitled to receive a commission is more narrowly defined:

    • Apple’s IAP is a secured system which

      • tracks and verifies digital purchases, then

      • determines and collects the appropriate commission on those transactions.

    • In this regard, the system records all digital sales

      • by identifying the customer and their payment methods,

      • tracking and accumulating transactions; and

      • conducts fraud-related checks.

    • IAP simultaneously provides information to consumers

    • IAP is not the App Store app or the payment processing or any other discrete offering, but rather the totality of its digital e-commerce system

    • “IAP”as Apple’s overall commerce system is different from “in-app purchases” that are purchases made in an app.

      • Apple is justified in requiring IAP for in-app purchases.

  • Judge Gonzales Rogers’ argument is not that Apple has to allow different payment options within an app — that is Apple’s right to control, and even mandate —

    • but rather that Apple can’t stop a developer from telling users that they can go outside the app to another platform to acquire digital content.

  • the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of anti-steering provisions in a case about American Express’s policies;

    • Gonzales Rogers made a good argument that this situation is different, but that is open to interpretation

  • Apple may also appeal that the decision considers violations under the UCL separately from violations under federal antitrust law,

    • the company already argued in court that Judge Gonzales Rogers should not do so

    • and while Judge Gonzales Rogers took particularly scathing interest in Apple’s anti-steering provisions during CEO Tim Cook’s testimony, they were not a major focus of Epic’s case.

  • Apple won on almost every count but one, but that one has the potential to cause Apple a fair bit of trouble.

    • Games have always been a vector for scams and abuse;

    • it would have been much better (and profitable) for Apple to keep tight control of the category while giving ground elsewhere.

    • Now it has to deal with a blanket injunction and critics who still don’t think it is enough.

The Future of the App Store

  • Here’s what I think we’ll end up with:

    • Most apps will be required to also offer IAP side-by-side with any external methods.

    • Only “Reader apps” will be exempt from this requirement.

    • Apple will have many rules regarding the display, descriptions, and behavior of external purchases,

      • many of which will be unpublished and ever-changing.

      • App Review will be extremely harsh, inconsistent, capricious, petty, and punitive with their enforcement.

    • Apple won’t require price-matching between IAP and external purchases.

  • The result won’t look much different than the status quo:

    • Many games will offer both IAP and external purchases,

      • with the external choice offering a discount, bonus gems, extra loot boxes, or other manipulative tricks

      • to optimize the profitability of casino games for children

        • (commissions from which have been the largest portion of Apple’s “services revenue” to date).

  • External purchase methods will evolve to be almost as convenient as IAP

    • (especially if Apple Pay is permitted in this context), and

    • payment processors will reduce the burden of manual credit-card entry

      • with shared credentials available across multiple apps.

  • The payment-fraud doomsday scenarios argued by Apple and many fans mostly won’t happen,

    • in part because App Review will prevent most obvious cases,

    • but also because parents don’t typically offer their credit cards to untrustworthy children;

  • I don’t expect side-loading or alternative app stores to become possible, and I’m relieved, because that is not a future I want for iOS.

  • When evaluating such ideas, I merely ask myself, “What would Facebook do?”

    • As a user, a multiple-app-store world sounds like an annoying mess;

    • as a developer, it terrifies me.

    • Apple’s App Store is the devil we know.

      • The most viable alternatives that would crop up would be far worse.

  • Apple is entitled to run their platform mostly as they wish,

    • with governmental interference only warranted to fix market-scale issues

      • that harm large segments of commerce or society.

Web Excursions 2021-09-13

Reading Dante’s Purgatory While the World Hangs in the Balance

[Dante’s] medieval theology isn’t much consolation to a modern nonbeliever, yet his art and its truths feel more necessary than ever: that greater love for others is an antidote to the world’s barbarities, that evil may be understood as a sin against love, and that a soul can’t hope to dispel its anguish without first plumbing it.

That saga of translation resembles the slopes not so much of Mount Purgatory as of Mt. Everest, littered with the debris of the climbers who have attempted to summit, some coming closer than others. But reaching Dante’s Heaven by following faithfully in his footsteps isn’t possible in English, which lacks the luxuriance of rhyme native to Italian.

A Comprehensive Breakdown of the Epic v. Apple Ruling

  • Epic made 10 claims against Apple.

    • Most of them depended significantly on

      • Apple having an unfair monopoly under either the federal Sherman Antitrust Act or

      • California’s antitrust-focused Cartwright Act.

    • And although the ruling is sympathetic toward several of Epic’s underlying arguments, nearly all its claims were dismissed.

  • “Apple is only saved by

    • the fact that its share is not higher,

    • that competitors from related submarkets are making inroads into the mobile gaming submarket, and,

    • perhaps, because [Epic] did not focus on this topic.”

  • A seventh claim said iOS was an “essential facility” that Apple had unfairly denied access to.

    • But Epic didn’t seriously argue this claim, and

    • for mobile app developers, Rogers says web apps and other digital platformsprovide a reasonable (if not ideal) distribution alternative.

  • [Rogers] specifically calls out a lack of competition as an issue.

    • “The point is not that ... Apple provides bad services. It does not,”

    • “The point is that a third-party app store could put pressure on Apple to innovate by providing features that Apple has neglected.”

  • She’s generally receptive to Epic’s suggestion that Apple could review and notarize iOS apps for security but allow distribution through other sources, similar to macOS.

    • “Even though unrestricted app distribution likely decreases security,

    • alternative models are readily achievable to attain the same ends even if not currently employed.”

  • Rogers admittedly finds “no basis” for the specific 30 percent rate,

    • despite Apple hiring a consultant to testify about the value of its patents.

    • (As mentioned previously, the ruling is full of dunks on the expert witnesses.)

    • But she says Apple is still entitled to license that intellectual property for a fee of some sort, and

      • requiring developers to use Apple’s payment system “accomplishes this goal in the easiest and most direct manner.”


  • She also says IAP isn’t a standalone product,

    • so Apple isn’t illegally tying it to the App Store,

    • which nixes two more Sherman and Cartwright Act claims.

  • The ruling says Apple’s situation is “distinctly different” from another case

    • that let American Express use anti-steering rules for brick-and-mortar merchants,

    • because even in that scenario, merchants can still say they also accept Visa and MasterCard.

  • Even if developers could entirely stop using the IAP system,

    • “Apple could still charge a commission on developers.

    • It would simply be more difficult for Apple to collect that commission.”

    • The Court presumes that in such circumstances that Apple may rely on imposing and utilizing a contractual right to audit developers annual accounting to ensure compliance with its commissions.

  • She also dismisses the claim that Apple’s contract was “unconscionable” —

    • in other words, one-sided enough to “shock the conscience.”

    • (“These are billion and trillion dollar companies with a business dispute,” the ruling notes dryly.)

On what constitutes a “video game”

  • “The court need not reach a conclusive definition of a video game or game because by all accounts, Fortnite itself is both externally and internally considered a video game.”

    • Fortnite markets itself as a game, and even if CEO Tim Sweeney considers it the basis for a larger metaverse

    • (in case you were wondering, “the court generally finds Mr. Sweeney’s personal beliefs about the future of the metaverse are sincerely held”),

    • the metaverse as a product “remains in its infancy.”

  • As for the definitions introduced by witnesses, “unfortunately, no one agrees and neither side introduced evidence of any commonly accepted industry definition.”

    • That includes Sweeney’s claim that a game “involves some sort of win or loss or a score progression,” as well as

    • Apple app review head Trystan Kosmynka’s claim that “games have a beginning, [and] an end,” and “there’s challenges in place.”

  • “The court concludes that video games include a diverse and eclectic genre of games, that are tied together at minimum through varying degrees of interactivity and involvement from a game player.”

  • Ultimately, “the court leaves the thornier further questions of what is properly included and excluded in the definition of a video game to the academics and commentators.”

Web Excursions 2021-09-12

Language Log » Decolonizing Chinese fonts by probing the past

  • Julius Hui, the font designer, wants to revolutionize Chinese typography by hearkening back to a time before modern (say, the last four or five hundred years) fonts for typesetting.

  • I find this article to be curiously counterintuitive

    • That would be like telling designers of modern fonts for northern European languages

      • to go back to the 4th-century pre-Gothic script of Ulfilas (or Wulfila)

      • to develop a "revolutionary" new script for English or

    • for designers of modern fonts for southern European languages

      • to go back to the uncial majuscule script of roughly the same time period

      • that was used for Greek and Latin.

  • He is so fixated on traditional calligraphic excellence

    • that he seems conceptually unable to advance to a new level

    • of reenvisioning the shapes and forms of Chinese characters to suit the new [digital] media

      • the difficulty of deciphering the strokes of characters used in [] digital media, especially those characters that have more than 12 strokes

      • the calligraphic flourishes (hooks, turns, elongated dots, etc.) that tend to fill up what white space they may have between strokes

  • The mother of one of my graduate students spends hours each day writing out Buddhist sutras with a ball point pen

    • which I would consider a purer form of writing characters than doing so with a brush,

      • where so much of one's attention is devoted to ornamentation and embellishment,

      • whereas she is content to concentrate on the abstract essence of writing itself

Revolutionary type: Meet the designer decolonizing Chinese fonts - Rest of World

  • Hui said that the point of the project is not just an exercise in aesthetics,

    • but an attempt to “decolonize” Chinese type.

  • He intends to take it back to its roots before the influence of Japanese designers,

    • and to free it from the cultural gravity of the mainland,

      • where even typefaces come under the purview of the state.

  • His research and dedication to the history of Chinese typography is, improbably, a revolutionary act.

    • “I think all typefaces should have a ‘traditional Chinese feel,’” Hui said.

  • Type and the way characters have been portrayed has always been political in China.

    • It was practiced only by scholars and aesthetic tastes were at the whim of emperors.

    • calligraphers would paint in styles the emperors liked,

      • who would not only collect works, but also produce their own.

    • By the start of the Qing dynasty, the favored style was called guan’geti.

      • sterile; the “smother[ing of] the artistic spontaneity and irregularity of Chinese calligraphy.” (via Peiran Tan at The Type)

  • The shift to digital media in the 2000s drove another evolution, to what Hui calls “fat and blocky” characters.

    • “A kind of modernizing impetus briefly took a chokehold on digital Chinese type designers,” [Hui] said.

    • “[The designers] were, in a way, enamored with the software’s numerical possibilities,

    • and wanted to maximize a typeface’s legibility and uniformity.”

    • Microsoft YaHei and its traditional Chinese equivalent, JhengHei

  • [Ku MinCho] raised 20,450,840 Taiwanese dollars ($71,660), 511% of its original goal.

  • [Why no SimpChi ver.]

    • While both China and Taiwan have their own sets of how characters are to be officially written, only China’s is compulsory —

      • digital fonts have to be certified by the China Electronic Standardization Institute.

    • “I’d rather work in markets I understand first,” Hui said.

    • “I also think Taiwan and Hong Kong will be enough for my company’s survival;

    • I don’t want to deal with those problems [on the mainland].

    • Maybe later, if I need to, I’ll deal with it.”

嘖嘖 | 空明朝體|當文字開始呼吸,繁體中文的寧靜變革


geizhals.eu EU

Geizhals – Tech Product Price Comparison and Tracking | Hacker News


One of their most impressive features is how many product attributes they track and allow you to filter for. E.g. for mainboards you can filter for support for all generations of Ryzen CPU + at least M.2 slots + BIOS flashback (allows you to do BIOS updates without a CPU or RAM) + at least one USB-C + built in IO shield + at least 12 VRM phases + WiFi 6 + in stock

What Does It All Mean?: A Look at Judge Gonzalez Rogers' Decision in the Epic Versus Apple Trial - MacStories

  • I find Epic’s legal tactics distasteful.

  • However, I also think Apple’s restraints on communications between developers and app users

    • are an example of overreaching

    • that unduly stifles competition in the name of protecting users.

  • Still, on balance, I’m pleased with the Court’s decision.

    • You can argue about whether Judge Gonzalez Rogers overstepped the bounds of her authority by imposing a nationwide injunction based on state law.

    • That’s the sort of remedy that I think is more appropriately the purview of federal legislators.

    • However, I’m also glad to see additional pressure brought to bear

      • that I hope will result in meaningful changes to the App Store for all developers,

      • and that doesn’t reward Epic’s questionable legal tactics.

Loading more posts…