Jared White Photo of Jared

Expressively publishing on the open web since 1996.
Entranced by Portland, Oregon since 2017.

Links

Time Exclusive: OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour

I’ve been sounding the alarm for some time now that #generativeAI is exploitive, but I was primarily considering the ways in which these large learning models rely on scraping online content without the consent of its human authors. Now we learn the uncomfortable truth that these popular tools built by OpenAI such as ChatGPT were made possible by the exploitation of third-party low-wage workers in parts of the world Silicon Valley would rather us Euro-centric netizens not know too much about.

Gross.

But hey, this is going to be Big Tech’s next Big Thing, so what’s a few poor African souls with faltering mental health in light of Western Capitalism. Hmm, I wonder what ChatGPT thinks about this single-minded pursuit of the almighty dollar, ethics be damned… (Don’t ask.)


Major Tesla Shareholder Thinks Elon Musk Should Be Replaced As CEO

While it’s conceivable that Elon will soon appoint a new CEO of #Twitter and get back to focusing mostly on Tesla, I wouldn’t bet 2c on it. Elon is the ultimate poster child for an unhealthy addiction to social media and reveling in his status as “the main character” — frankly I don’t see any indication he’s ready to step away from the day-to-day.

If I were a major shareholder of Tesla, I too would be furious. Elon’s actions are not only damaging to the business of Tesla internally, but to the reputation of the company. Many people, myself included, have switched from viewing Tesla as an aspirational brand to regarding it as anathema. Major structural changes would need to happen at Tesla, including but not limited to firing Elon Musk and bringing on a new CEO, for any of this to turn around.


‘Andor’ Is the Best ‘Star Wars’ Since ‘The Last Jedi’

OK, so not everyone’s going to dig this headline (I don’t hate The Last Jedi personally, but I don’t exactly love it either). That comparison aside, I and I think a lot of the rank and file Star Wars nerds out there have really and truly enjoyed Andor. It’s certainly one of the best #scifi #tvshows in recent memory, and unlike most of the other Disney SW content, that’s almost in spite of Andor being part of the Star Wars franchise.

It’s just great storytelling, pure and simple. With adult themes and expert world-building—along with an amazing and awe-inspiring takedown of fascist ideology which speaks poignantly to the present zeitgeist—this is a show that deserves to be taken seriously. There are a few very specific moments in Season 1 which to my mind elevate the entire art form, and it’s largely due to top-quality acting (though it’s definitely an ensemble cast, Stellan Skarsgård gives a standout performance) and a rock-solid script—NOT some whiz-bang effects and orchestra swells (although it’s not entirely devoid of action-adventure-style rousing moments either).

Perhaps Andor won’t be to everyone’s taste across the broader fandom, but I can tell you right now: THIS is the kind of Star Wars I like. More please.


The Best of Tangerine Dream

Over on the website for my “alter ego” electronic music act Yarred, I’ve started posting every day (until the end of the year!) all about my favorite works by #synthmusic maestros Tangerine Dream. I elaborated a bit about my long-time obsession with this band on the first installment about the brilliant 1980 album Tangram.

I know TD may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have any interest whatsoever in electronic music, you should be at least familiar with their role in the rise of synthesizers in popular music. As I wrote in the linked article above:

“Talk to any electronic music legend of recent years and ask them what they think about Tangerine Dream. Go ahead. You many not have heard of TD, but I guarantee most of your heroes have.”


Patreon is laying off 17 percent of its workforce and closing offices

I’m genuinely sorry about all the people having to leave Patreon, and I wish them well in their new job search.

All right, so let’s roll back the clock and evaluate what I posted on Twitter in April 2021:

Today I found out Jack Conte has fired a bunch of people at the behest of former Instagram bigwig who became Patreon’s Chief Product Officer in January. Obviously “the big rewrite” is now underway.

First of all, changing your development priorities = firing a bunch of people is ridiculous. It’s the cookie-cutter mentality in tech. Oh, we need React developers now. Oh, we need Swift developers now. Oh, we need Kubernetes DevOps experts now. Oh, we need…

If you can’t adequately train the people who already work for you how to adapt to changing requirements, your org is fundamentally broken. Conte insists Patreon’s doing great financially, they just have some new ideas. OK. SO THEN WHY FIRE ANYBODY @#&%!#%?!

Secondly, I’d missed the memo that the former Head of Product of Instagram’s “Home experience” (aka “Feed, Stories, Ranking, Video, Profile and Interactions”) is now in charge of Patreon UX.
That revelation alone is firing planet-sized alarm bells in my head.

And it continues on from there… I was not a happy camper!

Needless to say, it’s now been well over a year later and Patreon genuinely sucks. 😒 The iOS app doesn’t feel noticeably nicer or more appealing in any way compared to before Mr. Instagram Julian Gutman took over, and the desktop web app now looks like a crappy knockoff of old Facebook. Most of the design on my large macOS display is blank nothingness. None of the UI has any character or personality whatsoever. (Remember when Patreon looked like this? Now it’s a dry corporate Silicon Valley VC desert.)

Patreon started out feeling like an indie product: by indies, for indies. Now they’re having to peer under sofa cushions looking for loose change in an effort to placate their VCs. It’s exhausting. I begrungingly support a tiny handful of creators still on the platform. I’d much rather pay them directly.

Look, I’m sure Jack Conte’s heart is in the right place and he means well. But I have ZERO confidence in the future of Patreon. They should have never hired Julian Gutman, and they should have never taken ridiculous piles of VC money. Bad moves, plain and simple.

Next obvious question: who will rise up and take Patreon’s place, only this time actually stay indie and forever feel indie and support nobody but indies? (VCs Begone!) Inquiring minds want to know!


iPhone 14 Pro Display Panels Reveal New Pill-and-Hole Design Replacing Notch

My favorite #iPhone since the iPhone 5 has been the iPhone 12 mini. I think #Apple knocked it out of the park with the 12 line-up in general, largely due to its industrial design and iPhone 5/iPad Pro-style flat edges. Plus having a small phone again really rekindled my love affair with this product category.

So I’ve been sad hearing the rumor mill pontificate that the mini size will be going away due to middling sales numbers. However, the flip side to all this is I’ve never been a fan of the notch. Sure I understand why it’s there, and it doesn’t bother me in daily usage. Yet it’s always felt like a hack, a necessary evil, a stain on an otherwise “perfect” form factor.

The pill-and-hole design brings us much closer to perfection. There’s no visual interruption along the edges of the display. It feels much more symmetrical, especially in landscape orientation. Obviously I can’t come to a final conclusion without seeing the final product in the flesh (assuming the rumors are true), but I’m far more impressed by the mockups so far than with the iPhone X-era notch.

If that’s the new design language of the iPhone 14 Pro, I’m afraid I’ll have to kiss my mini goodbye and embrace the bigger size once again. The pill-and-hole styling is simply irresistible.


I'm not interested.

This excellent tweet by Hector Martin sums up the bewildering lack of understanding many people—including the (likely) new owner of #Twitter, Elon Musk!—seem to have around the moderation of online speech.

Obviously I don’t want government goons arriving on your doorstep to haul you away if you’re just spouting off racist / homophobic / transphobic / misogynistic (etc.) garbage. You certainly have the right to be a trash human. However, you do not have the right to invade an online space I’ve chosen to participate in which purports to follow specific moderation rules. Twitter has been such a space as an independent company running an independent service on the web. If you don’t like it, well guess what? Run your own space! No one’s stopping you.

If Twitter is going to change its rules to make it “OK” to post hate speech on its service, then the people who are targets of that speech along with their allies will pack up and leave…which ironically results in less “free speech” on the platform in totality. “Let everyone express themselves freely in the public square” …and eventually you will find that the only people left in that square are the trolls.

Good luck with that.


Colors: Where did they go? An investigation.

This lengthy essay featuring reams of historical context and various theories on why so many modern movies & TV shows are noticeably desaturated along with a brown/amber or blue/green color wash is a must read. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about. And it’s interesting Emily St. James mentions the The Matrix Resurrections as a startling counter-response to this trend (and to the original Matrix trilogy for that matter) because that really struck me as well…though didn’t surprise me in the least—I fully expected the new movie to feel as much like sense8 as its direct predecessors.

I’m now on record saying I have a great love for a highly-colorful aesthetic—though apparently even in this new digital world (and perhaps even more so because of it), so many filmmakers feel like the way to look more “cinematic” is to desaturate everything and avoid any significant colors popping out of the image. I can only hope more and more creators in the industry start to realize they can—and at times most definitely should—embrace vibrancy without fear of professional blowback.

#movies #tvshows


Nomadland Won Best Picture at the Golden Globes and I Had No Idea

I’m running a microblogging experiment over at HEY World (the new light-weight blog platform intetgrated with the HEY email service). I’ve published this and a couple of other posts since March began. Having fun so far! #website #writing #movies


Ready to Join the Movement to Restore Speed, Simplicity, and Elegance to the Web?

I understand that to some of my readers, my new business website will come across as a bunch of incomprehensible techno-babble. Don’t worry—if that’s the case, you’re not my target demographic. 😄 This site is by a developer, for developers. My goal is to connect with like-minded people and organizations who are building the future of the web. Ping me if you fit the bill!


Electric vehicles close to ‘tipping point’ of mass adoption

I have no doubt we will soon reach the point where buying a car that is not electric is seen as a true head-scratcher. I, for one, intend to run my current Mazda gas-powered vehicle (all paid for) into the ground…and then buy an electric car. I simply couldn’t imagine spending a single nickel on any product which consumes fossil fuels.


Apple hid an AR Easter egg in its September event announcement

This is really fun! (Click the Easter Egg link in the article while on your iPhone/iPad.)

Putting on my speculation cap, here’s what I’m hoping to see on the 9/15 #Apple event:

  • #iPadPro inspired #iPhone 12 (duh)
  • Cheap iPad but with new Pro styling
  • “AirPhones”
  • More affordable Watch options
  • Teaser (or beyond!) of first Apple Silicon #Mac
  • A new app surprise of some kind (Terminal for iPadOS? 😎)
    • (Honestly Logic and/or MainStage for iPadOS would be pretty sweet. FPC X would be a stretch, but a man can dream…)


Apple TV+ Review Roundup

I am having a really difficult time getting excited about Apple TV+. I think at the end of the day I just don’t like the idea of Apple, the computing devices company, becoming a Hollywood-style entertainment studio. It smacks of the 90s when Microsoft was trying to be all things to all people. I’m more understanding of Amazon doing TV shows…Amazon has always been a company that sells media to people (starting with books).

However, there is another new Apple service I’m very, very happy with: Apple Arcade. I’ll have to write up a whole article about it soon…


Many Americans are unsure about a number of digital topics

Well, another equally valid headline would have been Many Americans are unsure about a number of topics. 😜

Sereiously though, of interest to me is the stat that only 29% of those interviewed correctly identified #Facebook as the owner of both Instagram and WhatsApp. This is hugely problematic not only from the perspective of consumers understanding their choices around smartphone app usage, but it’s a major issue for Facebook as well. Facebook’s brand has become tarnished in recent years, yet it continues to move towards tighter integration of WhatsApp and Instagram into the Facebook platform and ecosystem. However, this could end up backfiring as people increasingly question their usage of the more “positive” apps which have escaped some of the ire directed at Facebook.

Every time I talk with a friend or colleague about how I’m not on Facebook but still use Instagram, I immediately add “yeah I know, it’s still part of Facebook.” Most of the time the folks I talk to know this already, but most of the folks I talk to are fairly digitally savvy. Farther afield, I fear a great many people just have no idea that even when they’re using Instagram or WhatsApp, the buck still ends with Zuck.


Apple’s 2020 iPhones will be all-OLED

Assuming anything anyone knows about next year’s iPhones is even remotely accurate: I sure hope the OLED display technology Apple plans to use has been much improved in the color department. Every time I look at the iPhone XS line at the Apple store, the way text looks on light backgrounds really bothers me. It’s one of the reasons I’m quite happy with my LCD-sporting iPhone XR.

(Although…with the upcoming release of iOS 13 featuring Dark Mode, maybe the color shifting of OLED won’t be as noticable because I’ll often be reading light text on dark backgrounds.)


Next Page