Web Excursions 2021-04-28

🌟 [Post of The Day] Changes at Basecamp

  • At Basecamp, we treat our company as a product.

  • There's no pleasing everyone. You can't — there are too many unique perspectives, experiences, and individuals.

  • No more societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account.

    • People can take the conversations with willing co-workers to Signal, Whatsapp, or even a personal Basecamp account,

    • but it can't happen where the work happens anymore.

  • No more paternalistic benefits.

    • By providing funds for certain things, we're getting too deep into nudging people's personal, individual choices.

    • as compensation, paid every employee the full cash value of the benefits for this year

    • introduced a 10% profit sharing plan

  • No more committees.

    • when we need advice or counsel we'll ask individuals with direct relevant experience rather than a pre-defined group at large.

  • No more lingering or dwelling on past decisions.

  • No more 360 reviews.

    • required peers to provide feedback on peers.

    • peer feedback is often positive and reassuring, which is fun to read but not very useful.

  • No forgetting what we do here.

    • Employees are free to take up whatever cause they want, support whatever movements they'd like, and speak out on whatever horrible injustices are being perpetrated on this group or that

Founder’s elaborations: Basecamp's new etiquette regarding societal politics at work

  • Basecamp should be a place where employees can come to work with colleagues of all backgrounds and political convictions without having to deal with heavy political or societal debates unconnected to that work.

  • No comment thread on Basecamp is going to close the gap on fundamental philosophical and political differences. And we're left worse for wear when we try.

  • If you're in doubt as to whether your choice of forum or topic for a discussion is appropriate, please ask before posting.

    • But if you make a mistake, it's not the end of the world.

    • Someone will gently remind you of the etiquette, and we'll move on.

    • This isn't some zero-tolerance, max-consequences new policy.

  • Basecamp, as a company, is no longer going to weigh-in publicly on societal political affairs, outside those that directly connect to the business.

Changes at Basecamp | Hacker News

  • chipotle_coyote, doubting: I'm giving Basecamp the benefit of the doubt and assuming they're trying to stave off the former[, which are endless battle royale political debates, rather than the latter, which are really important questions on diversification and equality issues].

    • if your goal is to try to keep company Slack channels civil and focused on work, then don't say "don't be political." Say "keep company Slack channels civil and focused on work."

    • reducesuffering, debating: “Why wouldn't you want to bring them [i.e., important social issues] up at work?” Because there is only one accepted answer. Anyone who drifts from that into the opposing side will be reprimanded, scarred for their remaining tenure at the company, and/or fired.

  • drusepth: I find 99% of political conversations at work are just pontification and/or signaling

  • paxys: Can there ever be a non-work related conversation between employees that is not a "societal and political discussion"?

    • In the past week I have spoken to coworkers about high housing costs, property taxes, EV rebates, weed legalization, homeless/drug use problem on the streets.

    • All of this is apparently a fireable offense at Basecamp?

Casey Newton’s report: Behind the controversy at Basecamp

  • Around 2009, Basecamp customer service representatives began keeping a list of names that they found funny.

    • Many of the names were of American or European origin.

    • But others were Asian, or African, and eventually the list — titled “Best Names Ever” — began to make people uncomfortable.

  • Discussion about the list and how the company ought to hold itself accountable for creating it led directly to CEO Jason Fried announcing Tuesday that Basecamp would ban employees from holding “societal and political discussions” on the company’s internal chat forums.

    • Fried’s memo was revised and updated several times; co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson followed with one of his own.

    • But both of their posts avoided discussing the actual series of events that had led up to the policies, which were related directly to the workplace.

  • Employees say the founders’ memos unfairly depicted their workplace as being riven by partisan politics,

    • when in fact the main source of the discussion had always been Basecamp itself.

  • Interviews with a half-dozen Basecamp employees over the past day paint a portrait of a company where workers sought to advance Basecamp’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by having sensitive discussions about the company’s own failures.

  • The idea of worker-led efforts on diversity issues got a frosty reception from the founders last year,

    • Hansson wanted to acknowledge the situation as a failure and move on.

    • But when employees who had been involved in the list wanted to continue talking about it, he grew exasperated.

    • Hansson’s response to this employee took aback many of the workers I spoke with.

      • He dug through old chat logs to find a time when the employee in question participated in a discussion about a customer with a funny-sounding name.

      • Hansson posted the message — visible to the entire company — and

      • dismissed the substance of the employee’s complaint.

  • When Coinbase announced its ban on internal political discussions last year, some managers I spoke with praised the move for the clarity it brought to the workplace.

  • To employees, the move was received more as a shift to willful ignorance

    • “There’s always been this kind of unwritten rule at Basecamp that the company basically exists for David and Jason’s enjoyment.”

Circumstantially related: About NearlyFreeSpeech.NET

[Note: NFS is a commonly mentioned web hosting provider which has generally favorable reception among HN community. It features a uncensored hosting experience and a brutally skeloton pricing schedule. End Note.]

Since we started back in 2002, one of the things that's repeatedly been made clear to us is that governments aren't the biggest threat to free speech. They certainly bear watching and perpetual wariness, but they're just not the source of the everyday threats to our members' ability to express themselves.


Google Promised Its Contact Tracing App Was Completely Private—But It Wasn’t – The Markup

  • Not only does the Android version of the contact tracing tool contain a privacy flaw,

  • AppCensus: “This fix is a one-line thing where you remove a line that logs sensitive information to the system log. It doesn’t impact the program, it doesn’t change how it works.”

  • Google: “We were notified of an issue where the Bluetooth identifiers were temporarily accessible to specific system level applications for debugging purposes, and we immediately started rolling out a fix to address this.”

  • The issue:

    • The signals that a phone’s contact tracing data generates and receives are saved into an Android device’s system logs.

    • hundreds of preinstalled apps like Samsung Browser and Motorola’s MotoCare on Android devices have access to potentially sensitive information that the contact tracing apps store in system logs

    • a byproduct of how the preinstalled apps receive information about user analytics and crash reports.

Google promised its contact tracing app was completely private, but it wasn’t

  • arsome, suspecting: This title is kind of exaggerated. In order to obtain this data you'd need to get the Bluetooth identifiers from the system log. In order to get the system log, you need root or adb.


Google have declared Droidscript is malware

  • ajross, providing context: So... having read through their marketing material, this is an on-device tool that opens up what appears to be most of the Android application API to at least the user of the device, and potentially to any Droidscript applications they grab from other sources, and... maybe to other apps on the device? It's not clear from a quick read how extensive the runtime control is.

    • So just right out of the gate this is defeating basically the entirety of the Play Store vetting process. Droidscript itself may not be engaged in advertising fraud, but it makes advertising fraud trivial to deploy.

    • easton, corroborating and providing context: Droidscript has support for writing custom intents, which Pythonista (and Scriptable, a JavaScript version of the same thing) do not have. A malicious Droidscript application could access other applications on the device.

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Microsoft reports strong Windows, Xbox, and cloud growth for Q3 2021

  • Even Office consumer offerings are doing well for Microsoft.

    • Office consumer products and cloud services revenue grew 5 percent this quarter,

    • thanks to Microsoft 365 Consumer subscription revenue and a big 27 percent jump in subscribers to 50.2 million.

  • Microsoft breaks down its sprawling businesses into three main buckets:

    • Productivity and Business Processes

      • contributes $13.6 billion, nearly 33 percent.

    • Intelligent Cloud

      • includes server products and Azure,

      • makes up $15.1 billion this quarter — around 36 percent

    • More Personal Computing

      • ncludes Windows, Surface, Xbox, and search, and

      • it has contributed $13 billion to Microsoft’s overall $41.7 billion this quarter. That’s around 31 percent.


Arm Announces Neoverse V1, N2 Platforms & CPUs, CMN-700 Mesh: More Performance, More Cores, More Flexibility

  • There’s definitely very large similarities between the designs

  • The original Neoverse N1 had been a derivative, or better said, a sibling microarchitecture, to the Cortex-A76, which had been employed in the 2019 generation of Cortex-A76 mobile SoCs such as the Snapdragon 855.

  • The V1 is related to the Cortex-X1 which we’ve seen in this year’s new mobile SoCs such as the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100.

  • The Neoverse N2 is related to an upcoming new Cortex-A microarchitecture which we expect to hear more about in the following few months.

  • N2 is a newer design, albeit aimed at different performance and efficiency points.

  • V1 will serve as the foundation of many new custom HPC projects

  • The Neoverse N2 is a more straightforward migration from the N1. IPC is improved by significant amounts which should result in good generational performance increases.

  • N2 products to come out only shortly after V1 products, sometime by end of this year.

    • enforces my view that we’ll probably not see much V1 designs outside of the HPC market, and that

    • Amazon and Ampere are likely to follow up with N2 based Gravitons and Altras.


Eddy Cue Wanted to Port iMessage to Android in 2013 According to Epic Deposition

  • "At the time, I think we could have made a version [of iMessage] on Android that worked with iOS," Cue said.

  • Cue had sent a message to other Apple executives in 2013 to recommend making an Android version of iMessage "an official project."

  • Others at Apple, such as Phil Schiller, were against adding the feature to Android because there wasn't a clear strategy on how to get Android users to adopt it.

  • Epic Games‌ also queried Cue about how Apple arrived at its original 30 percent cut

    • There "wasn't really any kind of ‌App Store‌" to compare to at the time, so Apple had to use other distribution methods as a guideline.

    • Cue said there was not any specific discussions around the breakdown of the 30 percent figure , such as SDK costs

  • As for Scott Forstall, Epic's questions focused on the development of the original ‌iPhone‌ and its operating system

    • whether Apple considered having an open software platform when developing iOS

    • Steve Jobs was the one who felt that iOS should never be opened up to third-party apps, and Forstall said he was the most vocal in calling for third-party app development in the ‌App Store‌. "This is discussions Steve and I had multiple times, heated ways," he said.


How macOS launches an iOS app

  • LaunchServices, which handles Finder interaction such as the launching of apps, recognises that this is an iOS app, and needs to be launched using CoreServicesUIAgent.

  • a mobile service named MIS (com.apple.mis) checks the app bundle against a blacklist, and validates it, which System Security Policy declares as forming a valid App Wrapper.

  • LaunchServices prepares to translocate the app from its current location to a hidden folder, in which it’s wrapped with a couple of Property Lists and run

    • All iOS/iPadOS apps run in macOS are translocated to work around two limitations:

      • iOS/iPadOS apps may expect to be run from a path which doesn’t contain whitespaces.

      • ensures the app’s name and path remain fixed.

    • Wrapped iOS/iPadOS apps aren’t retained indefinitely, but periodically cleaned up.

  • RunningBoard

    • a long series of assertions are handled by RunningBoard, to change its management of the app as launch progresses.

  • Sandbox and TCC

    • the app’s frameworks and any other components are scanned for malware, according to iOS Platform Policy. The App Sandbox is created and provided to the app.

  • The next of the new -board sub-systems which it works with is FuseBoard

  • FrontBoard

    • At first, FrontBoard ‘bootstraps’ the app into the background, starts a WatchDog for it, and monitors its resource allowance. The UIKit helper sub-system (com.apple.UIKit.MacHelper) is involved with this too. FuseBoard and FrontBoard connect up, and FrontBoard makes a policy for creating scenes for the app. At this stage, FrontBoard conveniently lists the processes and scenes it’s currently managing.

    • this iOS app is managed by FrontBoard as an FBApplicationProcess, and UIKitSystem app which is an FBProcess; there're other regular processes managed by FrontBoard

  • Running the app

    • CFPrefsD loads system and user preferences for the app, and it finally starts running its own code. This leads to the creation of windows, which are added to FuseBoard’s list of scenes. AppKit and UIKit helpers join in

    • The app then asks FuseBoard for a new scene

    • Final steps in the launch sequence include the creation of the menu bar as a FrontBoard scene together with UIKit MacHelper


Hot Pod: 99% Invisible sells to SiriusXM, Subscription Frenzy, Unpacking NPR's New Subscription Plan

99% INVISIBLE SELLS

  • According to the press release, the acquisition brings Mars and the entire 99PI team into Stitcher,

    • where they will continue to produce 99% Invisible and Trump Con Law and develop new podcast projects.

  • PRX CEO Kerri Hoffman noted that Mars will be personally donating $1 million from the sale to Radiotopia over the next four years

  • Since its creation just over a decade ago, 99% Invisible has been a prominent point of inspiration for those who believe in the promise of open, independent podcasting,

    • with Mars setting a strong example in building out a successful and distinctly independent middle-class media operation

    • that exists in a fluid space between for-profit and non-profit media.

  • With this sale, independent podcasting is losing one of its strongest practitioners and advocates,

    • and those worried about the viability of mid-sized independents probably have good reason to get even more worried.

  • Mars’ reasons for selling

    • I feel at sea in this business in a way that I haven’t up to this point. Everyone is trying to crack this question of how to get people to pay for premium audio…

    • my role right now is something different, which is to spend more time on the show and on making things that I love.

SUBSCRIPTION FRENZY

  • Apple Podcasts' push towards facilitating subscriptions is both a smart hedge

    • and perhaps one of the few things the platform could do without directly distorting the balance of the open podcast ecosystem on the one hand

    • and getting into an all-out podcast arms race with Spotify on the other.

  • Apple's actual podcast subscription features are somewhat surprising in their shape and terms.

  • A prohibitively high cut — doable and possibly worthwhile for established, diversified publishers but likely kneecapping for smaller shows or podcast creators just starting out.

  • Apple's stance towards who owns listener relationship

  • creators and publishers who build strong premium or freemium subscription programs over the platform won’t be able to directly communicate with listeners other than through the podcast episodes themselves.

  • adds dramatically high friction for publishers who might want to migrate

  • other points of concern in the offering.

    • be limited to distribution over the Apple Podcasts platform

    • the distribution of paid episodes through the Apple subscription feature will not be done over RSS

    • automated transcripts of episodes for machine-learning purposes, which might spook some people

  • Things are better these days, with some vendors offering smart-linking solutions,

    • i.e. tap the icon of the app you use and we’ll automatically set it up.

    • Still, there's better flow, and then there's butter flow, which is what Apple is offering here.

  • There's something to be said about the differences between a listenership built out of people who would crawl through the unpleasant experience of navigating RSS feeds to access your show and a listenership built out of people converted from a more frictionless experience

  • Spotify released key details around its own podcast subscription tools

    • a fascinating contrast to Apple

      • let creators distribute those paid listening experiences to other podcast platforms

    • other key points of differentiation

      • only be able to choose from one of three monthly price points to set for their subscription products: $2.99, $4.99, or $7.99

      • For the next two years, Spotify won't be charging

        • introduce a 5% fee for access to these tools starting in 2023,

      • users of Spotify’s iOS app who subscribe will be routed to a website for the transaction, meaning that Apple won’t take a cut of that revenue.

        • potentially introduces some friction to transactions —

        • and may give some edge to Apple Podcasts

      • expected to be able to control and maintain direct relationships with their listeners

  • Big Picture

    • direct revenue is far from a new concept in the podcast world.

      • it’s easy to identify several podcast publishers with robust membership programs,

      • It’s similarly easy to identify successful individual podcasts operating off membership support

    • Podcast advertising seems likely to remain the dominant revenue channel for the industry.

      • both Apple and Spotify seem to be largely framing these subscription pushes as being complementary additions to everything that currently exists.

      • At the very least, they'll inject a nice level of newness and novelty to the way the podcast business is currently conducted

    • Podcast advertising isn't going anywhere,

      • but its opportunities are also thought to be getting increasingly commoditized and removed from smaller shows,

      • so having more integrated subscription tools around may be a catalyst for more upstart businesses and new kinds of business formations.

  • One curious detail in the Apple announcement

    • Luminary will be a launch partner when those subscription tools roll out.

    • A lifeline, perhaps?

UNPACKING NPR'S NEW SUBSCRIPTION PLANS

  • NPR Board has approved a plan to move forward with building out new paid podcast-subscription products

    • with the purpose of “creating new revenue streams for public radio and driving membership to NPR Member stations.”

    • a single-subscription option at the show level

      • sponsorship-free versions of individual NPR podcasts that can be accessed across a range of listening platforms.

    • access to a broader sponsorship-free NPR Podcast bundle that comes attached to station membership at a certain level

  • Sucherman, NPR’s Vice President of New Platform Partnerships.

    • We’re working towards a way to continue getting to know those listeners,

    • and we’ll employ whatever techniques at our disposal

      • could be additional promos or offers for newsletters

      • discounted swag at the NPR store

    • sponsorship is still the engine of our digital platforms and we don’t expect that to change


Did Home Economics Empower Women?

  • Among the home demonstration agents whom the U.S.D.A. dispatched to rural areas and the home economists who advised school-lunch programs, many saw their job as supplanting benighted folkways with Americanizing expertise, including plain, middle-class, homogenous cuisine.

  • As Danielle Dreilinger writes in her deeply researched and crisply written new book, “The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live” (Norton),

    • “practice homes looked less like the married, heterosexual, nuclear household for which they ostensibly prepared students than the feminist communes of a later era.”

  • Home economics was a movement that emerged in the late nineteenth century with high ambitions.

    • the conference that officially heralded the discipline’s arrival was held in 1899, in Lake Placid, New York.

    • a field that sought to elevate the domestic sphere and women’s place in it by bringing science, efficiency, and professionalism to bear on household tasks

    • an auspicious time:

      • the study of nutrition

      • colleges were opening their doors to women

      • urbanization and industrialization

      • sanitation

  • Home economists offered a feminism palatable to non-feminists, a social-reform vision that highlighted personal habits.

  • these home economists had remarkable pragmatic success.

    • approaches to virtuous eating

    • clothing-care instruction labels

    • school-lunch program

  • some of the more baffling trends in home economics arose from a disconnect between the program’s designers and those it was meant to benefit.

    • Many of home ec’s leading authorities on family life never married or had children.

    • Those who did have husbands and children often employed domestic servants or enjoyed egalitarian marriages or both

    • Reducing the dreaded drudgery meant identifying other women as drudges.

  • The work of Black home economists

  • Some of what she says could be taught in home-ec classes could be taught in, for example, history classes,

    • and I’d rather shore those up at a time when the humanities are losing majors and funding.

  • Nobody need depend on the imperious style of, say, the nineties Martha Stewart—or on the know-how of their parents or high-school teachers, for that matter.

    • The new banquet of food shows and how-to videos tend to be clear on one thing: neither the cooking nor the comforting is women’s work only.