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Google Isn’t the Company That We Should Have Handed the Web Over to

Put simply:

This is a company that, time and again, has tried to push the Web into a Google-controlled proprietary direction to improve the performance of Google’s online services when used in conjunction with Google’s browser, consolidating Google’s market positioning and putting everyone else at a disadvantage. Each time, pushback has come from the wider community, and so far, at least, the result has been industry standards that wrest control from Google’s hands. This action might already provoke doubts about the wisdom of handing effective control of the Web’s direction to Google, but at least a case could be made that, in the end, the right thing was done.

Why should you care? For reasons like this (emphasis mine):

For no obvious reason, Google changed YouTube to add a hidden, empty HTML element that overlaid each video. This element disabled Edge’s fastest, most efficient hardware accelerated video decoding. It hurt Edge’s battery-life performance and took it below Chrome’s. The change didn’t improve Chrome’s performance and didn’t appear to serve any real purpose; it just hurt Edge, allowing Google to claim that Chrome’s battery life was actually superior to Edge’s. Microsoft asked Google if the company could remove the element, to no avail.

In any other industry, we’d call that grounds for antitrust lawsuits.

Microsoft isn’t blameless, either. They opted to take the easy way out and Firefox will likely have to pay the price:

By relegating Firefox to being the sole secondary browser, Microsoft has just made it that much harder to justify making sites work in Firefox. The company has made designing for Chrome and ignoring everything else a bit more palatable, and Mozilla’s continued existence is now that bit more marginal. Microsoft’s move puts Google in charge of the direction of the Web’s development. Google’s track record shows it shouldn’t be trusted with such a position.

At the end of the day, one thing’s clear: competition is good. We see it in all walks of life. With Microsoft turning tail and succumbing to the Chrome overlords, they’re admitting they don’t care about the openness of the Web… just their market share and numbers.

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Stratechery: IBM’s Old Playbook

Ben Thompson, writing at Stratchery:

This is the bet: while in the 1990s the complexity of the Internet made it difficult for businesses to go online, providing an opening for IBM to sell solutions, today IBM argues the reduction of cloud computing to three centralized providers makes businesses reluctant to commit to any one of them. IBM is betting it can again provide the solution, combining with Red Hat to build products that will seamlessly bridge private data centers and all of the public clouds.

IBM believes their play to staying relevant in the “cloud” era, if you’ll call it that, is to acquire RedHat. Good luck to them. The tweets about the acquisition are fantastic:

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CBC Uncover: Escaping NXIVM

Thanks to Jason Kottke, I came across CBC Uncover: Escaping NXIVM:

NXIVM calls itself a humanitarian community. Experts call it a cult. Uncover: Escaping NXIVM is an investigative podcast series about the group, its leader Keith Raniere and one woman’s journey to get out.

This is a great podcast and if you liked Serial, Making a Murderer, and others like it, definitely check it out. It’s available on just about every podcast platform you can think of.

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The NY Times: How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’

Killer reporting from Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner over at The New York Times:

 

Mr. Rubin was one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct. In two instances, it ousted senior executives, but softened the blow by paying them millions of dollars as they departed, even though it had no legal obligation to do so. In a third, the executive remained in a highly compensated post at the company. Each time Google stayed silent about the accusations against the men.

Shocker. However you interpret this, Rubin denied the coercion on Twitter, but not the payments.

The article goes into detail about a host of other accounts too:

In 2013, Richard DeVaul, a director at Google X, the company’s research and development arm, interviewed Star Simpson, a hardware engineer. During the job interview, she said he told her that he and his wife were “polyamorous,” a word often used to describe an open marriage. She said he invited her to Burning Man, an annual festival in the Nevada desert, the following week.

Um, creepy?

At Mr. DeVaul’s encampment, Ms. Simpson said, he asked her to remove her shirt and offered a back rub. She said she refused. When he insisted, she said she relented to a neck rub.

“I didn’t have enough spine or backbone to shut that down as a 24-year-old,” said Ms. Simpson, now 30.

A few weeks later, Google told her she did not get the job, without explaining why.

…She said the official asked her to stay quiet about what had happened, which she did — until Mr. DeVaul’s public profile began rising in articles in The New York Times and The Atlantic.

I don’t want to spoil too much of this. Just read it. It’s really good.

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The Painted World of Red Dead Redemption 2

From Polygon:

Now we’re getting somewhere. Cameras and photographs are just one way of seeing the world, a way that in so many regards does not reflect the way that we see. But there are other ways of creating an image, and Garbut’s explanation of Red Dead Redemption 2’s philosophy of lighting, well, paints a picture, if you’ll pardon the expression.

“[We] looked to reality, we looked to the places that we were riffing from. […] However, there were certain areas like lighting where there were some direct inspirations. Owen Shepherd, our lighting director, looked to the pastoral and landscape painters like Turner, Rembrandt and American landscape painters from the 19th century such as Albert Bierstadt, Frank Johnson, and Charles Russell.”

In my opinion, that’s not where Red Dead Redemption 2’s painterly influences stop, but it’s a great place to begin.

This is a great piece by Arthur Gies and the images are stunning. I started playing RDR2 last night when it opened up at midnight EST (9pm at my home) and the visuals are simply stunning. The game is almost 100GB in size and after seeing some of the scenes capes so far in the game, it’s totally worth it. 

(featured image: Red Dead Redemption 2, courtesy of Rockstar by way of Polygon)

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Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography