August 11, 2020

Snippet: Amazon Reveals ‘Confidential’ Podcast Plan in Mass Email; Shows Must Agree Not to Disparage Amazon ☍

Todd Bishop for GeekWire:

Amazon Music and the tech giant’s Audible subsidiary plan to offer podcasts from third-party content providers directly on their platforms, significantly expanding their audio offerings and going head-to-head with Apple, Google, Spotify and others major podcast distribution platforms.

But first, they’ve got a PR mess to deal with.

The company disclosed the plans on Monday in a mass email to podcast content producers, including journalists and media organizations that cover Amazon, declaring that the information about its podcast plans were “confidential” without following the standard practice of first securing their agreement to treat the message as confidential. […]

Then came the real mess. Podcasters who clicked through to submit their shows discovered this clause in the content license agreement that’s a requirement to participate in the program: “Your Content may not (a) include advertising or messages that disparage or are directed against Amazon or any Service; …”

I’m not surprised. Amazon has every right to do this, but it’s not a good look. I think back to when I did a podcast (the content was much like this site), Amazon would come up in the news from time to time—does that mean we couldn’t discuss unfavorable topics about Amazon?

Snippet: U.S. ‘Clean Network’ Campaign Attempts to Wall Off Chinese Hardware, Software, and Cloud Services ☍

Jane Li for Quartz (via Nick Heer):

Under the expanded initiative, which focuses on five areas, “untrusted” Chinese telecom carriers, apps, and cloud service providers including Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu will be prevented from storing or processing US user data, being downloaded from US app stores, or connected to the US telecom system. Moreover, Chinese smartphone makers such as Huawei will be prevented from pre-installing or offering downloads of some US or foreign apps. Undersea cables that connect the US to the global internet will also be scrutinized by the US government.

While the announcement does not give a timeline of the initiative or explain whether it is compulsory for American entities to comply, the announcement is an escalation of the country’s efforts to divide the internet between China and the US. Most recently, the US has made a series of threats to ban Chinese apps including TikTok and WeChat, citing their threats to national security. TikTok will either have to be sold to a US company such as Microsoft, or face shutting down by the Sept. 15 deadline given by the White House. A growing number of US allies are also following suit in choosing to exclude Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei from their 5G networks.

Heer’s post on Pixel Envy gets at so much of the bullshit around these policies. While I can appreciate the national security aspect, how about we start at home first with our telecom carriers, apps, and cloud service providers? We have plenty of American companies involved with the whole process doing creepy, shady things with zero accountability. How many have taken a laissez-faire attitude about policing misinformation when the pandemic struck the United States?

We don’t have a useful, functioning FCC. Most of the people in our government have proven time and time again that they don’t understand technology as a whole. Plus, if China decides to respond to some of this useless posturing, it could have bad effects for American companies, but no one seems to think of the consequences there.

August 5, 2020

Snippet: Phil Schiller Advances to Apple Fellow ☍

Apple PR:

Apple today announced that Phil Schiller will become an Apple Fellow, continuing a storied career that began at Apple in 1987. In this role, which reports to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Schiller will continue to lead the App Store and Apple Events. Greg (Joz) Joswiak, a longtime leader within the Product Marketing organization, will join the executive team as senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

August 3, 2020

Snippet: Astronauts Use AirDrop to Solve Issue During Spaceflight ☍

Zac Hall for Space Explored (via Six Colors):

The issue with updating the digital timeline app was later determined to mostly likely be caused by a caching issue when saving an update. SpaceX eventually requested that astronaut Doug Hurley take screenshots of his day timeline as a backup in case his app experienced the same caching issue. Then each astronaut was instructed to briefly turn on wifi to enable the iPad’s AirDrop feature for wirelessly sending the screenshots between iPads.

No, it’s not a promotional tie-in with second season of For All Mankind.

July 17, 2020

Snippet: NWSL Fans Are Online, Organized, and Refuse to Be Ignored ☍

Nicole Wetsman for The Verge:

Despite being arguably the best and most competitive women’s professional soccer league in the world and home to global stars like Rose Lavelle, Christine Sinclair, and Debinha, coverage of the NWSL is limited. Women’s sports receive only 4 percent of sports media coverage overall, and in May 2020, only 7 percent of sports stories in major US newspapers focused on women, according to an analysis in the sports newsletter Power Plays. Two prior attempts at a women’s pro league in the US, both of which folded after three seasons, faced similar issues. Major sports outlets seemed to only pay attention if something was going wrong.

Without mainstream attention, NWSL fans and supporters have turned to social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter to build their own coverage and push for the type of recognition and attention they know the league needs. “The league has never really been on TV. So you’re watching games online,” says Meg Linehan, who covers the NWSL and the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) for The Athletic. “If I’m going to look up something about women’s soccer that I don’t know, honestly, sometimes my first stop is still the Twitter search bar.”

I’ll be honest, I was not expecting to see a story about the NWSL come across my RSS reader this morning (and it’s been awhile since I’ve written about it here). I’ve been enjoying the Challenge Cup, as it’s been a nice distraction from our current hellscape. CBS’s presentations have been really well done (aside from The Glare™), and it’s looking like the whole thing can be categorized as a success.

There’s been some ridiculous fun on Twitter and Reddit during games that probably seems even better due to just a little bit of quaran-time madness setting in. The fact that so much of the fandom feels generally pleasant, and even that the commentators are getting into it gives it a unique feel that I doubt we’ll see with the other bubbled-sports when they start soon.

In the meantime, if you’re curious, the knockout round has just started today and the #1-seeded North Carolina Courage were eliminated by the #8-seeded Portland Thorns. The Courage were the 2018 and 2019 champs, so it’s kind of like if the New England Patriots or Golden State Warriors got eliminated early. CBS All Access has a free trial, so you can check out the remaining games and the final will be on regular CBS (despite not really liking the new branding, I’m still pulling for the Reign).