Happy Saturday, everyone! While many things in the world are very bad today, if you were on the Internet last night, you probably caught wind of a pretty cool historic moment in college basketball: UMBC — University of Maryland, Baltimore County — knocked off the overall number one seed in the annual NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament in an absolute landslide.
So, naturally, I absolutely had to find the tech angle here, and if you owned a smartphone, you probably saw a series of extremely excellent tweets from UMBC’s twitter account, which went absolutely ballistic last night. So, we wanted to recognize the other star of the show: UMBC’s twitter account. You probably would too if, as a 21-point underdog, beat what most consider the best team in the country. Most tweet compilations are not great, but this one is very great.
University of Virginia was absolutely crushed during the second half of the game after dominating the world of college basketball for the entire regular season and throughout the conference tournament on the way to the overall number one seed — a system in place where teams are placed in the tournament based on favorable matchups as a reward for their performance. The system is still ripe for upsets, and there have been a lot this year, but this one is arguably one of the biggest upsets of all time.
So, without further ado:
it's actually a chesapeake bay retriever, but we appreciate the love
The Galaxy S9 is the best Android phone out there, but it’s not faster than the iPhone X when it comes to benchmarks and intensive tasks. That’s right, the A11 Bionic chip is still miles ahead of the competition in 2018. But the competition has gotten so good over the years that the Galaxy S9+ can actually outperform the iPhone X in some real-life usage tests.
That’s something we didn’t necessarily see coming, but it finally happened. Samsung’s latest flagship handset beat the most recent iPhone — and this wasn’t even the most powerful Galaxy S9+ you can purchase.
Let’s revisit the “rules” of these real-life speed tests. You take two or more phones that you want to compare, you connect them to the same wireless network, you install the same apps and arrange them in the same order on the home screen, and then you run two different app launch “laps.”
The first lap shows you how fast each phone loads applications, while the second lap focuses on how fast an app is reloaded from memory. In other words, the test tries to replicate real life smartphone usage, where you’d be switching between various apps during the day, including web apps that load almost immediately, as well as more resource intensive apps like games.
YouTube channel EverythingApplePro, which does this sort of test every time a new smartphone launches, has completed its Galaxy S9+ vs. iPhone X test. The winner is — and I’m surprised it actually happened — the Galaxy S9+.
The iPhone X wins the first lap only because it can process 4K videos faster than the Galaxy S9+. But Samsung’s phone, powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, does exceptionally well. What really helps the Samsung phone is the significant bump in memory. The Galaxy S9+ has 6GB of RAM compared to the iPhone’s 3GB — the Galaxy S9 only has 4GB of RAM. That extra RAM lets the Samsung phone breeze through opening apps from memory, and it’s something we saw happen with the Galaxy Note 8 last year and other phones that pack more RAM than Apple’s iPhones. Also of note, iOS 11 has had memory management issues since it was first released.
The video shows benchmark tests for both phones, including Geekbench 4 (where iPhone X wins) and Antutu (where the Galaxy S9+ scores better). It also looks at single-app load times, boot time, biometrics performance, and wireless data speeds, with the Galaxy S9+ doing extremely well in all of them.
We’ve praised Apple’s iPhone performance in the past, as older iPhones would consistently outperform brand new Snapdragon and Exynos-powered Galaxy phones in similar tests. This time around, the Galaxy S9 is the clear winner, and I wonder how the Exynos 9810 version does. It sure looks like Apple has some fixing to do if the most powerful mobile chip out there can’t really prove it’s the best in these tests. Watch the full clip below.
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Kalanick, who took the witness stand for the second time on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, has fielded much of the attention from Alphabet’s legal team. Alphabet is eager to convince the jury that the overly ambitious, often-competitive Kalanick worked with a former engineer, Anthony Levandowski, to bring over trade secrets from the company’s self-driving arm, Waymo.
Alphabet is suing Uber for allegedly conspiring with Levandowski to bring over self-driving trade secrets from Waymo to Uber to help accelerate Uber’s slow-to-develop autonomous efforts. The company filed the lawsuit after discovering Levandowski downloaded 14,000 files before leaving Waymo to start a self-driving trucking startup, Otto, which Uber later acquired.
Uber calls the lawsuit baseless and says no files ever made it to the company.
While Waymo works hard to point the finger at Kalanick specifically, saying his winner-take-all attitude fueled a burning desire to beat Google at all costs, Uber, on the other hand, is keen on painting Kalanick as an executive passionate about solving transportation problems, especially those related to self-driving.
“When we first got started, imagine like six people being around a table and that’s your whole team,” Kalanick said when Uber attorneys asked what it was like to be the CEO of Uber. “Day in and day out you just dream what Uber could be. But as it grew you just have this huge thing. 15,000 people in basically every city in the world. Your job goes from being the team of six in the trenches … to empowering literally thousands of teams of six.”
Kalanick, as he testified, was not the rapacious executive Waymo portrayed. Quite the contrary, he said. His was a story of betrayal on a number of fronts. He was betrayed by Alphabet CEO Larry Page and, eventually, by Levandowski, who he called “a brother from another mother.”
According to Kalanick, when it came to Alphabet — which is an investor in Uber — he was the slighted younger brother eager to work with his “big brothers,” Alphabet CEO Larry Page and chief legal counsel David Drummond.
Kalanick says he wanted badly to work with Alphabet and Page on self-driving cars. Email evidence presented at the trial, indeed, shows Kalanick attempting to contact Page and set up a meeting with him about rumors he heard that Alphabet would be operating a competing ride-share service instead of working with Uber.
In fact, Kalanick testifies, it was Page, not him, whose decisions were fueled by a competitive nature. After making multiple attempts to work on a self-driving ride-hail network with Alphabet, Kalanick and Uber acquired a team of engineers from Carnegie Mellon University to start their own driverless efforts in 2015.
Page, Kalanick said, was “super unpumped” about that.
“Larry made it clear he was upset we were doing autonomy,” Kalanick said.
“Larry was upset we were doing his thing,” Kalanick also said.
That’s why Kalanick said he thought there was a possibility Alphabet might sue Uber over its acquisition of Otto, co-founded by a number of Waymo engineers, including Levandowski.
Page was “upset” Uber was poaching Alphabet engineers, Kalanick explained.
“He kept saying, ‘You’re taking our people and you’re taking our IP,’” Kalanick tesified.
That raises an important question that will likely come up time and again as the trial continues: How do you ensure people are not bringing the ideas or intellectual property that they have in their head from their former employer to their current employer?
According to Kalanick, he conceded he was in fact recruiting Alphabet engineers, but said “people are not IP.”
It turns out Levandowski had a similar concern. As part of his agreement to sell his company to Uber, he and his co-founder Lior Ron required that Uber protect them against any litigation that came out of “bad acts” committed or other issues before the deal occurred.
But Kalanick says he had little knowledge of what either the acquisition agreement or the indemnification agreement said. After all, he was the busy executive of a 15,000-person company with little time to read through documents like the agreement to acquire Otto and the accompanying agreement to protect Levandowski and his team from any lawsuits.
That he didn’t read through important documents pertaining to a transaction that was valued at around $ 590 million is an odd admission to make under oath. Especially since, as Waymo’s attorney pointed out, Kalanick signed both those documents.
Kalanick said he trusted his legal team to handle the formal matters related to acquiring Otto. But, that’s not to say he didn’t deliver his own warning to Levandowski. According to a due diligence report cybersecurity firm Stroz Friedberg put together on Otto before Uber acquired it, Kalanick told Levandowski he didn’t want any information to get to Uber. Levandowski said he had discs with Waymo information on it, the report says, and Kalanick told him to destroy the discs.
Uber contends none of those files made it to Uber and eventually fired Levandowski for not cooperating with the suit a few months after Waymo filed it.
When asked how he felt about Levandowski now, Kalanick said: “Look, this has been a difficult process … This makes it not as great as what we thought it was at the beginning.”
It’s time for the most powerful companies in digital media to stop playing dumb, Brown says.
Starting in her 20s as the editor of Tatler Magazine in London, Tina Brown rode a wave of print magazines to become one of the most influential people in the media. She tells a good portion of that story in her new no-holds-barred memoir, “The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983 – 1992.”
But after editing Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and the short-lived Talk magazine (which was financed by Harvey Weinstein), Brown moved her editing online, founding the Daily Beast in 2008. On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, she explained why she left that publication after six years, and why the new power players in media — tech companies like Google and Facebook — have left her feeling frustrated.
“I am very angry and upset about the way advertising revenue has been essentially pirated by the Facebook-Google world, without nearly enough giveback — no giveback, really — to the people who create those brilliant pieces that are posted all over their platforms,” Brown said. “It’s high time they gave back to journalism.”
She proposed the creation of a “huge journalism fund” for local media, even though she doubts that that would ever happen.
“They have no interest, I realize that,” Brown said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, we’re not a media company, we’re a platform.’ Okay, well, guess what? When you don’t have human beings who have judgment, who have taste, who have a sense of responsibility, you can have any old Russian hacker dishing it out to the American public.”
“Opinion-forming, influential content, it’s very hard to find and support and have an impact with,” she added. “People don’t know what’s important or where to find it. So it doesn’t wash to say, ‘There’s so many transactions, everybody can find it.’ It’s a needle in a haystack for so many people.”
On the new podcast, Brown said she’s also concerned about how the global reach of social media platforms could over-amplify voices that don’t represent how most people feel, or shouldn’t be the loudest in the room.
“A flash mob can suddenly form very, very quickly around a person, and wow!” Brown said. “Suddenly, their reputation is shredded, and they’re sent spinning by the dissent of a thousand people writing abusive stuff about them. It’s a frightening thing, actually. It can lead to a lot of stress and dangerous emotions, and ultimately could lead to violence.”
“You know, I think we’ve also seen the empowering of a lot of delinquent voices, in a sense,” she added. “In the past, [they] would be some crazy person muttering in a bar. All of a sudden, there’s a huge community around those voices and they have influence and power and they can multiply, and that adds to the toxicity of the culture.”
If journalists are looking for hope among the tech giants of Silicon Valley, Brown said, their best bet might be Apple.
“Steve Jobs was a topographer himself, he always cared about design,” she said. “There’s a sense of excellence there that has always been about rejection of the mediocre. I am hoping that they might step in to do something really good in journalism.”
If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:
Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Everyone is mad at Twitter again, this time over the company’s decision to verify Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville this past August.
Twitter verifies all kinds of accounts it considers “of public interest,” including celebrities, athletes and journalists (hi!). A Twitter verification — visible by a small blue checkmark next to a user’s name — is what Twitter uses to confirm someone’s identity so that others know they are hearing from the realLeBron James, for example, not an impersonator.
Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon
But Twitter’s verification system has also become a status symbol over the years, in part because the group of verified users on Twitter is a very small portion of the overall user base. While the literal meaning of a check mark was about verifying identity, having a check mark has also evolved into a pseudo endorsement from the company — a confirmation that Twitter valued someone as important.
Which is why people got upset on Wednesday when Twitter verified Kessler, a move that, in the minds of many, legitimized a white supremacist.
Twitter is now admitting its system is flawed.
“Our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered,” CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted Thursday morning. “And we failed by not doing anything about it. Working now to fix faster.”
We should’ve communicated faster on this (yesterday): our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered. And we failed by not doing anything about it. Working now to fix faster. https://t.co/wVbfYJntHj
It’s unclear what the solution is. Twitter’s user guidelines allow for anonymous accounts, and anonymous users have been a big part of Twitter’s identity and culture since the company’s founding. (Facebook, for comparison, requires users to use their “authentic name” on the social network.)
Twitter’s verification issues are the latest in a string of policy-related decisions that have created animosity with its users. First was Twitter’s controversial decision to temporarily suspend actress Rose McGowan from the service for tweeting about her alleged sexual assault, and then its retroactive decision to ban Russian news outlet RT from advertising on the service only after it was made public that RT may have been involved in trying to influence last year’s U.S. presidential election.
Correction: This story originally mentioned known white supremacist Richard Spencer as the verified user that prompted Twitter’s response. Spencer is also verified, but that decision was made previously.
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As the founder and director of an organization dedicated to unmasking the shady actions of governments and public officials, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange seems to be unusually preoccupied with insignificant shit like getting a fake “verified” badge on Twitter or offering tips how to stare at the eclipse. In a similar vein, earlier today Assange took to Twitter to vent his frustrations about the “tropes” so-called “journalists” have been spreading about him. What he notably took offence with were the “cretinous” claims that his asylum abode in the Ecuadorian embassy in London was actually a ‘basement’ – or a ‘cupboard.’ Following a…