Chromebooks outsold Macs worldwide in 2020, cutting into Windows market share – GeekWire

New numbers show 2020 was the first year that Chromebooks outsold Macs, posting impressive market share gains at the expense of Windows. Computers powered by Google’s Chrome OS have outsold Apple’

Source: Chromebooks outsold Macs worldwide in 2020, cutting into Windows market share – GeekWire

Just once, I want to see these graphs and sales figures omit corporate purchases from the data. I’m certain that Dell, HP, and Lenovo could provide numbers that show shipments to end users and, say, Best Buy and Target, vs bulk corporate orders. Then we’d see how people actually vote with their own personal dollars.

IDC, along with Gartner and others, have been doing this forever. The whole point of these articles is to cast aspersion on Apple’s influence in the computer market. As Microsoft-funded outfits (you can’t convince me otherwise), they’re never going to change.

Speaking of boosting the numbers with corporate purchases, the increase in Chromebook numbers in this graph is directly related to schools purchasing them for at-home use in remote “learning.” And they suuuuuck. Both of my sons have them, and they are just terrible, awful things to work with. You couldn’t pay me to believe that anyone would buy one for personal use. A person would buy a cheap iPad over a Chromebook, 100 times out of 100.

And don’t even get me started with the bat-crazy mish-mash of unrelated web sites my boys have to navigate to do “online” school. It’s a disaster. I mean, I know that the educational software world is way behind, but… dang. I really hope this area of the economy gets some serious investment, now that Covid has made everyone aware of just how bad it is.

After 25 years of seeing this lie about market share numbers, I wonder if it’s possible for me to run down someone inside the big 3 PC manufacturers who could provide a breakdown in their figures for personal vs. corporate or school use…

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New York State to Revolutionize Antitrust

The Amazon H2Q fight in 2019 woke up the anti-monopolists in New York. Now they are moving forward with a new stronger trust-busting law.

“Too Much Power in Too Few Hands” – An Interview with Senator Michael Gianaris:

Senator, first of all, thanks for talking to me. I’ll start with a simple question. Do we have a monopoly problem? And if so, can you frame the issue in terms that anybody could understand?

Sen. Gianaris: The best way I can put it is that there is too much power in too few hands. This concentration of power creates the opportunity for corruption, and not just corruption in the traditional sense, although it creates that opportunity as well. But it just corrupts the way the marketplace is supposed to work. It diminishes competition, and it squashes small and medium sized players, who can’t compete with not just the size of the biggest players, but the tactics that they’re using and their reach into multiple aspects of economic life.

For goodness sake, they are reaching into multiple aspects of governmental life, and they’re trying to dictate to governments how we should be making our decisions. And we saw it, of course, with Amazon’s second headquarters situation. They created a bidding war amongst local governments! And you saw it again, with Amazon trying to change the makeup of Seattle City Council because they weren’t happy with a proposal to help homeless people.

This power is changing the very nature of our democracy and our economic democracy, to have so few people making all the decisions.

Source: New York State to Revolutionize Antitrust (emphasis mine)

This is the key to the issue. As a theme, in my writing, I’ve complained that government regulatory power has been “captured” by corporations through campaign contributions. But here’s a guy who’s campaign does need the kind of money that Amazon can give him through a PAC. He’s a state senator, with a very comfortable seat. He can speak up. And he’s asking the right question: who’s in control?

People who seek office presumably have a mind to, you know, govern. And the money that Amazon throws around is routinely taking that power out of their hands. We need more people like Senator Gianaris who stop this bribery for control, and tell the people running Amazon, “No.” No, you can’t have this, if it means that we have to set aside ethical concerns. No, you can’t have this, if you intend to abandon your implied social responsibility to the people you employ or the city in which you run your business.

If we are going to avoid the currently-predictable, grim meathook cyberpunk future of a world of corporate states, this and this alone is the motivation that can put a stop to the trend: elected representatives with a long-term view who act like adults, and tell whining, spoiled toddlers no.

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I miss the old internet | Science Fiction and Fantasy World

I could say that Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Google helped ruin the internet, but really it was that everyone started using it. The internet used to be a haven for nerds, geeks, artists, and bohemian misfits until the cool kids crashed it. Now the internet is dull and stale and overly commercialized.

Source: I miss the old internet | Science Fiction and Fantasy World

Me too, random internet dude. Me too.

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The State of Social Media

Caught this today on an image sharing site, with the title “Failed the History Class.” Really? Let’s look at it.

We get one sentence which casts the situation hard to one side. Then another statement that casts the situation hard to the other side. Except that the truth lies somewhere in between. Libya was part of Italy at the time. Morocco was part of France (and part of Spain). The Philippines were part of the US. Vietnam was France. Burma was the UK. Ethiopia was Italy. Most of the other “2nd-world” countries still had such close ties with one of the legacy empires of England, France, and Spain that it’s probably unfair to call them independent.

Every country was involved in World War II to some degree, so it’s appropriate to say that the thing was independent of “whiteness.” But Germany started it, and they’re about as white as it gets. Italy joined in right away, and I guess Italians fit the description of “white” as the Left intends it. But then Japan jumped in, and they’re anything but Anglo or Christian or anything that even hints at “whiteness,” so it’s a strong counterpoint.

Almost immediately after the war was settled, the Cold War began, and America and the Soviet Union — both “white” for the purposes of this discussion — battled over global supremacy. And you could certainly admit that the OP saying that it was a fight to see who could “fuck up the world the most” wasn’t far off the mark. Both countries spent the next 60 years fighting for dominance in strange places, setting up and knocking down regimes in the so-called 3rd world, and engaging in espionage all around the planet. The result has been a lot of money spent, and a lot of lives lost, without much change in the global order. All of this effort could be considered “white,” if we’re fair about it.

Really, World War II was about getting Germany, Italy, and Japan to settle down, but the real war over control of this planets resources has continued to this day. Now that Russia and the United States have backed off the Middle East a little, China is ramping up efforts to take over everything in the South Pacific and the Chinese peninsula. Definitely not “white.” There will be another World War. If left to run its natural course, you can easily predict that whoever is left on the planet will fight for decades over control of what’s left standing.

Anyway, my point is that #SocialMediaIsDestroyingSociety. All day long, on every social media site, these kinds of exchanges are happening. Both sides feel they are right. Everyone involved pats themselves on the back for making such a good point. No one in the middle cares. No one is swayed. No one learns anything. No one is educated. Which side here “failed history class?” Both, if you ask me.

Any actual, global or societal problem or situation is far too complicated to wrap up in 140, or even 280, characters, and I’m really tired that Twitter and Facebook have managed to hypnotize society into thinking that this sort of discussion matters to anything other than their advertising revenue. It just forces everyone to grow up thinking that you gain identity by simplifying your thinking to 280 characters, and identifying with the hardest of takes, and these are both ingredients in the recipe for the doom of society.

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Loki and Portal

A long time ago, Valve released a little indie game called Portal, and took the gaming world by surprise. They followed it up with a sequel that expanded the world in awesome ways. I mean, it had J. K. Simmons voicing “Cave Johnson,” a legendary video game character with some truly memorable lines. Anyway, the game was filled with stick figures, like this:

In a small way, they actually helped you understand what was going on, by giving you a little expectation of what was coming in the chamber signs, once you understood the “language”:

Now there’s a new MCU series about Loki on Disney+. It introduces the Time Variance Authority to the universe, which was, in fact, a thing in the print comics, which I was never exposed to. The TVA uses a retro-futuristic style that has elements that look like Portal’s stick figure man.

It’s so similar, I wonder if Disney has had to pay Valve for the rights.

Anyway, I am absolutely loving Loki. It has even more promise than Wandavision, and that’s saying something.

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Excel E-Sports. Not a Joke

So, a long time ago, I found this, and thought it was hilarious.

Today, I found this, and discovered that the Excel e-sports “scene” is actually a thing.

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iOS 15, Humane

Apple could help us set conditions for how and when we use certain apps.

This way, we could set boundaries for ourselves, on our own terms.

For example if you’re struggling to use Tinder responsibly, you could create a condition that you can only use the app while FaceTiming with a friend.

Source: iOS 15, Humane

There are some really interesting ideas here. I think Apple could make some hooks in the OS to support a 3rd-party app to implement them.

Comments from the HN thread about this:

And its followup:

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Kinda a big announcement – Joel on Software

I took a few stupid years trying to be the CEO of a growing company during which I didn’t have time to code, and when I came back to web programming, after a break of about 10 years, I found Node, React, and other goodies, which are, don’t get me wrong, amazing? Really really great? But I also found that it took approximately the same amount of work to make a CRUD web app as it always has, and that there were some things (like handing a file upload, or centering) that were, shockingly, still just as randomly difficult as they were in VBScript twenty years ago.

Source: Kinda a big announcement – Joel on Software

It’s hard for me to express just how deeply wrong I find this to be, but I suppose that’s because I take it as an almost personal insult. Here’s a smart, driven guy who probably just became a (near) billionaire with the sale of a site devoted to programming Q&A, and yet, in my opinion, he’s completely out of touch with modern web development. I really resent this gaping hole in the collective knowledge of programmers on this planet.

I’ve been using Rails for 15 years now. I’ve used it to make dozens of applications. It is perfectly suited for making CRUD web apps. It was designed from the ground up to do so, and avoid the grunt work of other programming stacks, specifically Java. Unfortunately, Spolsky is not alone of his ignorance about it. I see lots of programmers singing the praises of Javascript, who dismiss Rails, usually because of its convention-over-configuration approach, but nothing can compare to the productivity of using Rails to write a CRUD web application. Nothing. It’s not even close. He’s absolutely right that Node and React offer no advantage over any other legacy option like Java or .NET. I went down the whole Java/Spring/Angular hole for one ill-fated project, and it’s a freakish, byzantine nightmare. The difference between the two stacks is so stark that I have to assume that people who make these kind of comments are completely oblivious to the fact that Rails exists at all.

Take file uploads for instance. Rails has had easily-configured and power capability from several hugely popular gems since (at least) the 3.x days. The stack has had its own implementation since 5.x. Either way, just configure a couple of lines in an initializer, pick a provider, enter your bucket name and API key, and then it’s literally just a few lines of code to add a file attachment to your model.

Spolsky continues to rant:

The biggest problem is that developers of programming tools love to add things and hate to take things away. So things get harder and harder and more and more complex because there are more and more ways to do the same thing, each has pros and cons, and you are likely to spend as much time just figuring out which “rich text editor” to use as you are to implement it.

This is the continuing, enduring beauty of Rails. They continue to add things to the stack, like file uploads, but they do so in a way that makes them optional. If you want them, it’s, like, 3 lines of configuration, and you’re rolling. A rich text editor, as it turns out, is another perfect example. There has been a popular gem to provide the WordPress editor for a long time now, but Rails started shipping a native rich text editor in 6.x, if you want it. I’m using it in a significant way in a production application right now. I added it well after the site was launched, but it was easy, and it’s terrific.

Today we’re pleased to announce that Stack Overflow is joining Prosus. Prosus is an investment and holding company, which means that the most important part of this announcement is that Stack Overflow will continue to operate independently, with the exact same team in place that has been operating it, according to the exact same plan and the exact same business practices. Don’t expect to see major changes or awkward “synergies”. The business of Stack Overflow will continue to focus on Reach and Relevance, and Stack Overflow for Teams. The entire company is staying in place: we just have different owners now.

This is where I get worried. An investment and holding company paying $1.8B to buy a site like Stack Overflow is going to want to recoup its investment, and make more money in the future. In the old days, they used to say that investments needed to start making money in 7 years. I’m not clear that this old rule of thumb still applies, and SO is a private company, so we can’t see a balance sheet, but does anyone think that “SO for Teams” is making $250M a year? Big M&A announcements like this always say the same things about keeping the product the same. Let’s revisit this in a year, and see where we really stand.

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Amazon Faced 75,000 Arbitration Demands. Now It Says: Fine, Sue Us – WSJ

Companies have spent more than a decade forcing employees and customers to resolve disputes outside the traditional court system, using secretive arbitration proceedings that typically don’t allow plaintiffs to team up and extract big-money payments akin to a class action.

Now, Amazon. AMZN -0.06% com Inc. is bucking that trend. With no announcement, the company recently changed its terms of service to allow customers to file lawsuits. Already, it faces at least three proposed class actions, including one…

Source: Amazon Faced 75,000 Arbitration Demands. Now It Says: Fine, Sue Us – WSJ

Not even Amazon can afford to keep enough lawyers on hand to continue the arbitration game. They have become a victim of their own size. Hilarious.

Someone on HN dug into the actual court proceedings, and found an epic comment from the judge.

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Barcode Scanner app on Google Play infects 10 million users with one update – Malwarebytes Labs

In a single update, a popular barcode scanner app that had been on Google Play for years turned into malware.

Source: Barcode Scanner app on Google Play infects 10 million users with one update – Malwarebytes Labs

“Barcode Scanner” had 4+ stars in 74,000 reviews. Instead of making a statement as to the trustworthiness or usefulness of the application, it became a giant target; a vulnerability to exploit by taking over the application’s distribution, and then putting a trojan into it.

Every significant review system is being gamed to the point of being unusable, and yet stories about not being able to trust them keep being reported as if this were somehow noteworthy. For every one of these stories that rises to a thread on HN, how many other small time vendors are getting screwed by someone who is willing to pay a room full of people in some 3rd-world country to tarnish their competitors’ products?

“Apps” and “algorithms” seem to be driving literally everything about society now. I don’t think this is a good thing, nor do I see the trend reversing. These giant black boxes now control the levers of modern society, and the companies that own them get to hide behind their “terms of service” to avoid any responsibility for the damage being done.

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LinkedIn, as a site, at this point, is at best “weird,” if not downright user hostile. The problem with all of these web 3.0 businesses (because of capitalism in general) is that they keep growing until they absorb everything that touches on their core product, ruining the thing that made them interesting to begin with.

It would seem that someone could take up building what LinkedIn started out to be, before it became “Facebook, FOR BUSINESS!”, and then just let it run, to collect the money from recruiters, and leave it alone. Is it even possible to do? Is there no one who could build a lifestyle business on this idea, and not try to take over the world?

I suppose you’ll tell me that the network effects are already effectively preventing entry into the market, and anyone ruthless enough to punch through that barrier would, by nature, want to try to take over the world. And, even if they didn’t want to, eventually, if successful, someone would throw enough money at them to get them to part with it, and be absorbed by the Borg anyway.

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