How I targeted the Reddit CEO with Facebook ads to get an interview at Reddit

Chris Seline:

I decided I would target the CEO of Reddit with Facebook ads.

But how? I didn’t have a big budget so I needed to be clever.

It turns out the Reddit CEO had a public Facebook profile, so I could go there to see details about him. Where he lived. What he was interested in. I took that info to the Facebook platform to help narrow down the campaign. But I didn’t want everyone to click on it, just one person. So I custom tailored the ad to directly target the one person I wanted to read it.

I applaud Chris’ initiative here. Incredibly clever to figure out how to get in front of a difficult to reach person via a highly personalized Facebook ad. His strategy worked. Read the post for the details.

As to how much Chris spent:

The ad reached 197 people. 4 People clicked on it. One of them was the CEO of Reddit. I spent a total of $10.62.

Steve Huffman, CEO of Reddit, saw my ad, clicked on it, read (probably skimmed) my article, and liked it well enough to send a note to Reddit HR to contact me about a position.

Mission accomplished.

Clever as this is, I can’t help but see a stalker/creepy side to this story as well. The thought that someone could use information easily available on the internet to build a low cost ad that is almost guaranteed to reach the targeted individual seems custom made for a stalker. Or for someone trying to win an election.

I tried to watch a video of a puppy and accidentally sent every photo I’ve ever taken to Google

Jason Koebler, Motherboard:

When Google Photos was announced in 2015, I downloaded it. I had no intention of giving every photo I’ve ever taken to Google—which categorizes them, runs them through image recognition and facial recognition algorithms, makes weird algorithmic slideshows out of them, and adds them to its massive photo database—but I wanted to try it out in any case. I quickly realized it was not for me, but I did not delete the app.

And:

I texted him asking to see a picture. He responded with a video that he uploaded to Google Photos. Because I had Google Photos installed on my phone, it tried to open in the app. You cannot use Google Photos on iOS—even to view photos that have been shared with you—without granting the app access to all the photos on your phone. Because I was drunk, and because I wanted to see the puppy, I changed my app permissions. I watched the video (very cute, embedded below), the band started, I put the phone in my pocket.

You know what happened next. All his photos went up to Google’s servers, and went through the AI analysis that all photos go through.

Two sides to this. First, obviously, Jason made a mistake giving Google Photos permission to access his photos. Google Photos asked, as it should.

That said, this is the text of the alert Google Photos put up:

Google Photos needs access to your photo library to show photos in the app

Reading Jason’s piece, I don’t get any sense that Google Photos notified him that they were going to start uploading his photos to the Google servers, to start AI-analyzing them.

Should Apple require a finer grain notification when something like this happens? Or, at the very least, should Google recognize that this is a major change in the equation, let the user know that permission to show you a photo from another user gives them permission to suck up and analyze all your photos.

Playing detective, hunting down the truth about that Google Duplex restaurant

Start off by reading John Gruber’s take on the fact or fiction of Google Duplex AI calling a restaurant and making a reservation.

Lot’s of interesting details here. Almost like a crime drama. Was the Google Duplex demo genuine? Was it staged?

Was the restaurant called without prior notice? If so, was a phone call recorded without prior consent?

From the Digital Media Law Project:

California’s wiretapping law is a “two-party consent” law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.

It’s possible the demo was genuine and the Duplex team didn’t think this through. Seems to me more likely that this was staged, showing off technology that certainly exists, at least in pieces. And if it was staged, that call seems likely to have been recorded with the restaurant’s permission.

Also worth reading is the Twitter thread that shows John Gruber reaching out to followers to help figure out which restaurant was the one in question. Here’s the start of the thread. I found the whole thing fascinating.

And for dessert, here’s Google Duplex calling your parents.

The most sophisticated piece of software/code ever written

This story was at the top of hacker news this morning. It’s a fascinating read, even if you know nothing about programming. And it’s a riveting true story. I’m convinced this would make a fantastic movie.

I didn’t quote any of it because it’d be hard to do so without including spoilers. But read it to the end. Fantastic.

Strategy Analytics: Apple shipped 600,000 HomePods, Amazon smart speaker market share drops to 43.6%

According to Strategy Analytics:

  • Apple sold 600,000 HomePods last quarter.
  • Amazon sold 4 million smart speakers.
  • Google sold 2.4 million smart speakers.

Amazon’s marketshare dropped to 43.6%. Apple’s is at 6%, though without an entry level product, the percentage of unit sales doesn’t mean much.

I’d be very interested in:

  • The same chart, but showing percentage of revenue.
  • The same chart in one year.

Samsung Apple hating ad brings notch-guy back, this time with a kid

[VIDEO] This ad screams spite, taking on the iPhone 6 and “battery throttling”. Nothing in the ad makes a case for the Galaxy S9 being better than anything remotely recent from Apple. They also brought back the guy with the notch haircut, this time with a kid.

I just found the ad (video embedded in the main Loop post) puzzling and dark, not at all clever or entertaining. Just me?

Lathe simulator

Pick your material, press and hold the spacebar to start the lathe spinning, then click and move the mouse to start cutting.

Have not figured out how to get this to work on my iPhone. Please ping me if you work that out.

But on my Mac? Surprisingly satisfying.

Apple exploring North Carolina, Northern Virginia for new campus

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

The Washington Post says Apple has explored opening a campus for 20,000 employees in Northern Virginia, an area Amazon is also considering for its new campus.

And:

Separately, the Triangle Business Journal says that Apple is considering establishing its new campus in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. Research Triangle Park, a 22 million square foot research park, has become an attractive site for tech companies and is known as North Carolina’s technology hub due to its proximity to NC State, the University of North Carolina, and Duke University.

And:

North Carolina news site WRAL says that its sources believe Apple is close to announcing a deal that could bring up to 10,000 new jobs to North Carolina. Many of those jobs are “high-tech research and development jobs.”

This is me parsing here, but this is from Apple’s original announcement:

The company plans to establish an Apple campus in a new location, which will initially house technical support for customers.

And the WRAL North Carolina article mentions “high-tech research and development jobs.” Is it possible Apple will be pursuing two different campuses? Or will the campus host a blend of high tech R&D as well as tech support?

Regardless, I’d expect some housing speculation in the winning location.

The fascinating history of the “orchestra hit”

[VIDEO] This is an amazing walk through history, from Stravinsky all the way to Bruno Mars, all connected by that same sample, known as the orchestra hit. Terrific video (embedded in the main Loop post), learned a lot, lots of great musical samples, too.

[Via Kottke.org]

YouTube Music, a new music streaming service, is coming soon

YouTube blog:

YouTube Music is a new music streaming service made for music: official songs, albums, thousands of playlists and artist radio plus YouTube’s tremendous catalog of remixes, live performances, covers and music videos that you can’t find anywhere else – all simply organized and personalized.

And better search:

YouTube Music search works even if fans don’t know exactly what they’re looking for … we’ll find it if they describe it (try “that hipster song with the whistling”) or give us some lyrics (try “I make money moves”).

And:

While fans can enjoy the new ad-supported version of YouTube Music for free, we’re also launching YouTube Music Premium, a paid membership that gives you background listening, downloads and an ad-free experience for $9.99 a month. If you are a subscriber to Google Play Music, good news, you get a YouTube Music Premium membership as part of your subscription each month.

To me, the branding is confusing, but the access to the tremendous catalog of things you can only find on YouTube is compelling. Will user posted content be included?

For example, will this video of Dave Grohl and his daughter Violet performing Adele’s “When We Were Young” be included in the mix? If so, will uploaders be compensated in the same way as when their videos are watched?

Apple and Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Today is the 7th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (the third Thursday each May).

Apple customized their home page to embrace the occasion and, at the same time, announced that they are teaming up with leading educators for blind and deaf communities across the US to bring accessible coding to their schools.

From the official press release:

Beginning this fall, schools supporting students with vision, hearing or other assistive needs will start teaching the Everyone Can Code curricula for Swift, Apple’s powerful and intuitive programming language.

And:

“Apple’s mission is to make products as accessible as possible,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We created Everyone Can Code because we believe all students deserve an opportunity to learn the language of technology. We hope to bring Everyone Can Code to even more schools around the world serving students with disabilities.”

Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean played fingerstyle on guitar

[VIDEO] This is a brilliant performance (embedded on the main Loop post). Sounds like there’s some extra acoustic drumming going on in the background but, as far as I can tell, it’s all Alexandr Misko’s fingerwork.

That bassline has been stuck in my brain for days now. Also worth a read, the production notes on the song’s Wikipedia page. Fascinating.

How to get rid of a persistent macOS Messages badge icon

This happens to me periodically, both on iOS and macOS. Lasts through restarts, eventually goes away all on its own. Read all the way to the end (it’s short) for the thing that solved this for Glenn. Tucking that away in my brain for the next time it happens.

Mount St. Helens eruption: Never-before-published photos

From the Mount St Helens Wikipedia page:

Mount St. Helens is most notorious for its major 1980 eruption, the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale caused an eruption that reduced the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,363 ft (2,549 m), leaving a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles (2.9 km3) in volume.

Someone just found a set of 34 slides, from photos taken on a plane circling the volcano as it erupted. These never-before-published photos are worth a look.

To me, the most amazing thing about this event is how, in the space of a few days, an almost perfectly conical mountain was practically leveled.

[VIDEO] Test run of an in-glass fingerprint sensor

[VIDEO] Marques Brownlee shows off an in-glass fingerprint sensor and compares its performance side-by-side with an iPhone 8 and Touch ID.

There’s a lot to love about this video (embedded in the main Loop post) but, for me, the highlight is Marques explaining just how the OLED reflection process works, how it shines the screen at your finger and uses the bounced light to detect your fingerprint.

Beautifully done.

Microsoft plans low-cost tablet line to rival iPad

Bloomberg:

Microsoft Corp. is planning to release a line of lower-cost Surface tablets as soon as the second half of 2018, seeking a hit in a market for cheaper devices that Apple Inc. dominates with the iPad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Microsoft has tried this before. The software giant kicked off its consumer-oriented hardware push in 2012 with the launch of the original Surface RT. At the time, it was priced starting at $499. After the tablets didn’t resonate with consumers and product reviewers, Microsoft pivoted to the more-expensive Surface Pro, a line which has gained steam and likely contributed to demand for a pro-oriented iPad, which Apple launched in 2015.

The Surface RT was the first generation Surface and was hamstrung by performance issues. If Microsoft truly is going to build something to rival the 2018 education iPad and its $329 list price, performance has to be better than their first kick at the can.

I own and regularly use the $329 iPad. It is fast, I’ve never noticed a bit of lag with the Apple Pencil, and the screen is excellent. There’s nothing about the $329 iPad that says budget to me. If Microsoft is going to play at that level, they have to offer a similar experience.

The new AI-powered Google News app is now available on iOS

I’ve been playing with this news app. An interesting approach, very customizable. If you download it, be sure to tap the “…” icon next to each story for more options.

This is especially valuable in the For You tab, where it lets you select “More stories like this” and “Fewer stories like this”. Helps the app learn your prefs.

Note that the app requests access to your location. Presumably, this is to help customize the local stories feed. But I felt uncomfortable enabling that access. A comment on the times we live in, I think.

Steve Jobs anecdotes from pioneering game dev John Carmack

First things first, from John Carmack’s Wikipedia page:

Carmack was the lead programmer of the id video games Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Rage and their sequels. Carmack is best known for his innovations in 3D graphics, such as his Carmack’s Reverse algorithm for shadow volumes. In August 2013, Carmack took the position of CTO at Oculus VR.

And:

Carmack and Kang married on January 1, 2000 and planned a ceremony in Hawaii. Steve Jobs requested that they postpone the ceremony so Carmack could attend the MacWorld Expo on January 5, 2000. Both declined and made a video instead.

Carmack had a rollercoaster of a relationship with Steve. Follow the headline link and just dive in. I found it a fascinating read.

Another life saved by Apple Watch

South China Morning Post:

An alert from his smartwatch prompted 76-year-old Hongkonger Gaston D’Aquino to go to hospital, even though he was feeling fine. It turned out his coronary arteries were almost completely blocked.

And:

“I told the doctor I don’t know why I’m here, but my watch tells me I have an elevated heart rate. He says, ‘Are you feeling anything?’ I said no, I feel fine, I’m feeling all right, nothing’s wrong.”

Hooked up to an electrocardiograph machine – which records the heart’s electrical activity – he learned something was wrong. He was immediately referred to cardiologists.

“I told them about the Apple Watch giving me this reading, and they told me that the watch gives pretty accurate readings,” says D’Aquino. After batteries of tests over the next three days, “they told me that out of the three main coronary arteries, two were completely blocked, and one was 90 per cent blocked.”

Stories like this roll in on a regular basis. To me, this is just a taste of the health benefits that are coming down the pike. Apple’s combination of a massive ecosystem and customer base, along with massive R&D funding give it a distinct advantage in this space.

While people might complain about Siri, they will flock to Apple Watch and the Apple ecosystem if they recognize that the device on their wrist can actually save their life.

[VIDEO] Tim Cook on his meeting with Trump

[VIDEO] This is a snippet from a longer interview Tim did on Bloomberg’s The David Rubenstein Show. The full interview will be released in June. The video is embedded in the main Loop post.

Apple Music continues its #OneNightOnly campaign with free Shawn Mendes concert

Following up on their Dr. Dre event at the O2 Academy Brixton in London back in March, Apple Music announced a free Shawn Mendes concert for this Thursday evening:

https://twitter.com/AppleMusic/status/996049405294862336

The concert will be hosted by Zane Lowe at the Hollywood Ford Theaters in Los Angeles, with a live Q&A to follow.

California DMV: Apple self-driving fleet now up to 55 vehicles

Serhat Kurt, macReports:

Apple Apple now has 55 vehicles and 83 drivers under its permit to test autonomous vehicles, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said in an emailed response to questions.

And:

Apple has the second highest number of self driving cars after GM Cruise,which as 104 vehicles, as of now.

I find it surprising that Apple has more self-driving vehicles than Waymo. From the Waymo Wikipedia page:

In 2018, the company placed separate orders for “thousands” of hybrid-drive Pacifica minivans and 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric sedans. The vehicles are intended to help launch ride-hailing services in various cities, enough to accommodate hundreds of thousands of riders each day.

That aside, it is interesting to watch Waymo (owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet) roll out their vision, while Apple, per tradition, keeps its cards closely held.

Woz on the importance of HP in the creation of Apple

For many years, Woz has maintained a series of email lists to pass along news stories, technology he finds interesting, favorite jokes, things like that. A few days ago, Woz shared a link to a brilliant article about Hewlett Packard and the HP-35 calculator.

Jump to the main Loop post for Woz’s comments on this article (used with permission) and some nuggets about the creation of Apple. […]

A review from early 2008: “The Apple iPhone will only ever be a bit player”

This is just such a fun read, “claim chowder” (to borrow from John Gruber) at its best:

The geeks have all bought one and many have got theirs unlocked. The Nike wearing Soho crowd have splurged the cash. The wannabes and the I-must-have-that crowd have weighed in, swapped networks and got their devices. But that’s it. There’s a ton of people all sitting staring at the iPhone and — SADLY — (this is the bit that’s winding me up), turning their backs and walking away. I could name you 20 people, right now, that I know personally, who WOULD have an iPhone if they were marketed at a more reasonable price — 100 pounds maximum — and were unlocked to work on any network. But those 20 people won’t. They’re staying exactly where they are, back in the old world. Or, actually, back in the real world.

Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC (and, er, the Google offering) are safe. The iPhone, on the current trajectory, will only ever be a number 4 or number 5 device.

To be fair, Ewan MacLeod was not alone in that opinion. Steve Jobs saw what no one else could see. He knew. And he made it happen.

And Ewan clearly got on board, as evidenced by this tweet from last week:

https://twitter.com/Ew4n/status/993920014150447106

[Via Eric Jackson via Aaron Block]

Android has it, iOS needs it: Copy two-factor codes from text message

Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge:

If you use two-factor authentication to secure your accounts, you’re probably used to this process: type in your password, wait for a text messaged code to arrive, memorize the code, and then type it back into the login prompt. It’s a bit of a pain.

Absolutely. Happens a lot. And this describes the process pretty well. Android has a fix:

In the new update, Messages will detect if you’re receiving a two-factor authentication code. When it does, it’ll add an option to the notification to copy the code, saving a step.

This is a step in the right direction. When a two-factor text is received, a copy button appears at the same time. Tap it, then paste it into the prompt.

It’d be nice to see this in iOS. But even better, it’d be nice to avoid the codes in the first place. The purpose of the codes is to prove that you have access to a verifying device. The codes themselves exist purely to give you a way to “move” the verification from the second device back to the original.

But iOS already does such an excellent job communicating between devices. I can copy on my iPhone, paste on my Mac, for example. And if the code is coming in on the same device that made the request, well that’s even easier.

What I’m suggesting is that Apple/Google work to create a verification service that eliminates all the friction. If I request a code on my Mac, popup a verification text message on my iPhone and, worst case, just make me tap “Yep” on an alert to verify the code, or “Nope” to let them know I didn’t make the request.

No reason for me to copy/paste or type in a number. Tap “Yep” and I’m in. Let the verification handshake happen in the background. Any reason this can’t be done?

Apple ad blends everyone from Season 1 of Carpool Karaoke

[VIDEO] At first blush, this ad looks like it was filmed in a super stretch limo. But of course, that’d be logistically impossible. To me, this blending of scenes from each episode of Carpool Karaoke’s first season is seamless and impressive.

Worth watching the ad (embedded in the main Loop post), just to see if you can spot any clues on how this was all pulled together.