Is Bluetooth holding back Apple’s AirPods? We asked the man who made them

But there’s a catch, as far as I can see it – a bottle-neck that’s been preventing real qualitative leaps in the sound of wireless headphones essentially since wireless headphones came into being. I’m talking about Bluetooth, of course, which almost all wireless headphones, including AirPods, rely upon and which doesn’t have the data rate for hi-res or even lossless audio. I ask Geaves whether the use of Bluetooth is holding back his hardware and stifling sound quality.

“Obviously the wireless technology is critical for the content delivery that you talk about”, he says, “but also things like the amount of latency you get when you move your head, and if that’s too long, between you moving your head and the sound changing or remaining static, it will make you feel quite ill, so we have to concentrate very hard on squeezing the most that we can out of the Bluetooth technology, and there’s a number of tricks we can play to maximise or get around some of the limits of Bluetooth. But it’s fair to say that we would like more bandwidth and… I’ll stop right there. We would like more bandwidth”, he smiles.

Oh you know what’s coming. Other than the ruin of my credit card, that is.

Chinese Police Hunt Overseas Critics With Advanced Tech

In an audio recording she also provided, the police told her via her father’s phone that they knew her account was being used from Australia. Her distraught father instructed her to listen to the police.

Three weeks later, they summoned him again. This time, calling her via video chat, they told her to report to the station when she returned to China and asked how much longer her Australian visa was valid. Fearful, she denied owning the Twitter account but filmed the call and kept the account up. A few months later, Twitter suspended it.

After an inquiry from The Times, Twitter restored the account without explaining why it had taken it down.

If Twitter initially took down her account based on Chinese, despite her (and her account) being outside Chinese jurisdiction, it would be marvelous. Marvelous as in “yes, of course, it’s all about platform policy, no need for the actual law to get into it, please believe us”.

How leaded fuel was sold for 100 years, despite knowing its health risks

No single quote from this one as it deserves to be read fully. It’s an amazing instance of dangers being clear from very early on but everyone involved pretending otherwise for roughly a century, with media and scientists being used and/or ridiculed. Has there ever been a time when scientists haven’t been ridiculed? And what does exactly say about us? I mean, other than being pretty liberal in our interpretation of “having problems with authority figures”?

OpenSea bans NFT projects selling flipped Bored Ape Yacht Club avatars

PAYC announced its launch in early December with a loose mission statement promoting decentralization and denigrating “rich douchebags” who had (allegedly) taken over the original ape market.

As serious endeavours do.

Somewhat ironically, PAYC and PHAYC have since fought on Twitter over which one is the authentic Bored Ape Yacht Club ripoff, with PAYC’s founder referring to PHAYC as a “cash grab fraud project.” PHAYC charged people to mint its apes, and CoinDesk reports that it took in around 500 ETH (or around $1.8 million) in sales. By contrast, it says PAYC earned around 60 ETH (or roughly $225,000) from its paid sales.

“Somewhat ironically”.

Both projects may be in legally dicey territory. It’s common for NFT lineups to copy each other’s art styles or use similar names. But Yuga Labs owns the copyright on its ape images, and PAYC and PHAYC have were booted from OpenSea apparently for violating its rules against copyright infringement.

Copyright law aka “not the blockchain” to the rescue.

Google and Tech Rivals Tap Cash Reserves to Realize Cloud Ambitions

The investments underscore how tech companies’ robust cash flows give them a big edge over smaller competitors in selling cloud infrastructure services, the core business of providing rented, remote computing power and storage. Those companies can afford the huge infrastructure investments necessary to build multibillion-dollar data centers and subsidize the costs of moving clients to their cloud systems—helping explain why three companies control two-thirds of the market.

A Google Cloud spokesman said that it has largely won customers with its capabilities, adding that investments are part of their strategy. “In certain instances, Google pursues investments and partnerships in attractive growth areas, which is a common practice across many companies within the enterprise industry,” he said.

This is as grey as it gets, as certain tactics are only illegal based on certain circumstances and contexts and already being huge when employing them tends to determine where the line is. Which explains the vagueness in Google’s response. They’re not obscuring what they’re doing but they make sure to not elaborate on why they’re doing it.

“Play-to-earn” and Bullshit Jobs

By blurring the line between “player” and “worker”, the game has effectively built a Ponzi scheme with built-in deniability. Sure, some users will be net gainers and other users will be net losers, but who am I to say the net losers aren’t in it for the joy of the game? The same could be said about online poker or sports betting, to be sure, but we would rightfully recoil if those were positioned as a way to lift people out of poverty.

Blurring the line between “player” and “worker” is not about gaming, I hope this much is clear.

Not only can Axies be banned, the rules of battle that govern the value of their skills can change. As co-creator Aleksander Leonard Larsen told Odd Lots:

“[…] right now a lot of the game logic is off-chain, so that means that we already as a game studio can make many many changes, right. We can also, let’s say if we want to buff certain skills, make them stronger, weaker, we can do that of course. And we’re very transparent [about it]”

In fact, the trajectory of the game has been to become less decentralized over time:

“When we created Axie, pretty much everything was on-chain […] and we were following that decentralized ethos. Over time what we realized is that building a product based on these very heavy constraints is almost impossible, especially if you want to reach the masses. […] We had to sacrifice parts of decentralization.”

According to current the poster child of P2E, the initial dream is impossible, some central control is inevitable and tweaking mechanics has ramifications that go beyond gameplay, possibly affecting one’s livelihood in cases.

Ultimately, in-game labour is just a re-branding of gameplay designed to be dull enough that rich players will pay to outsource it to poor players. In spite of being presented as the future of work by some venture capitalists, the incentives just don’t make sense. Floors don’t have to be swept in the metaverse unless they’re designed to need sweeping.

Not how VCs present this approach as the future of work, not gaming.

Korean government tells Apple and Google stores to take down P2E games

That was quick. You know why? Because there’s Game Management Committee in the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.

Ruling party to issue NFTs for fundraising in presidential election

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is set to become the world’s first political party to issue non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for fundraising in a presidential election, according to DPK presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung’s campaign committee, Sunday.

Then again, sometimes Korea is going too fast.

Cortana with Sandeep Paruchuri

A very interesting look behind the scenes.

One of the admins kept a notebook with all the key information and interests of the person she looked after – this inspired the team to give Cortana a digital ‘notebook’ which stored any personal information that was available for Cortana to see and use. Users could review the notebook and remove anything they didn’t want Cortana to have access to – this was a transparent privacy model that put users in control and I’m sorry it didn’t become an industry standard for personal AI.

I remember having read about the notebook approach way back when but I had totally forgotten it. I have to say I like the sound of that as it’s not just a bunch of permissions, but also a proper listing of specific knowledge the system has of you —assuming the system works as intended— a listing you can amend from a central location, instead to going through a sea of knobs after starting a preferences/settings safari. I would love to see this concept explored more thoroughly.

Around this time in Spring 2013, marketing also became involved, and insisted that Cortana be given a personality and a sense of humour. Their plan for a public name was Alyx, because it was so pronounceable – Cortana had always been intended as a code name, not a public-facing name. But the name Cortana leaked (someone discovered the string in a beta product) and the bloggersphere went nuts. More than a million people signed a petition demanding that they ship it with the name Cortana. The marketers decided it wasn’t sensible to burn bridges with their nascent influencer group, so (after a minor negotiation with Halo) the name stuck.

When Microsoft went with Cortana, we all basically assumed it was the obvious choice, due to the fact that part of the market was already familiar and fond of the video game inspiration for the digital assistant. But it seems it was the market, not Microsoft, that thought of that choice as no-brainer. They were shooting for “Alyx” while Steve Ballmer was pushing for… Bingo. Yep. Not a “product person”. At all.

‘We had to play games to ensure that we could ship in Windows Phone 8.1,’ Sandeep tells me. ‘For example, we’d sneak in new features as bug fixes, or we’d hijack the commercialisation releases for further features or polish. We did outrageous things, like turning up to release committee dressed in onesies so that they’d laugh and let our feature in.’ This stunt allowed them to get Cortana’s voice back into the release.

Onesies.