Money Stuff Podcast

I’ve been a fan of Matt Levine’s Money Stuff newsletter for the past few years. Today I learned that he and Katie Greifeld have started a new weekly conversational style Money Stuff Podcast based on his recent Money Stuff articles. In the first episode, Katie and Matt discuss a hot fund for private stocks, a clever/illegal crypto trade and super users of US government data. Also there’s some fake Cormac McCarthy.


Tesla’s Cybertruck has a serious problem that only a complete redesign can fix

From Jesus Diaz writing for Fast Company, “Tesla’s Cybertruck has a serious problem that only a complete redesign can fix“:

The problem, according to Musk, is the bright metal construction and predominantly straight edges mean that even minor inconsistencies become glaringly obvious. To avoid this, he commanded unparalleled precision in the manufacturing process, stating in his email that “all parts for this vehicle, whether internal or from suppliers, need to be designed and built to sub 10 micron accuracy. That means all part dimensions need to be to the third decimal place in millimeters and tolerances need [to] be specified in single digit microns.” Drawing a comparison to everyday products known for their precision, Musk added, “If LEGO and soda cans, which are very low cost, can do this, so can we.”

The cybertruck is not made from LEGO blocks or soda cans. It’s just not feasible to have such tolerances on parts that are so big and non-uniform at production scale. I suspect we’ll continue to see the truck’s release date pushed back as each deadline comes whooshing by until they admit defeat and do a redesign.

At least it’s bulletproof:

culture technology

The Amazing World of DAK Catalogs

Cabel Sasser spent 10 years preparing this blog post. It’s a deep dive into the Golden Age of direct to consumer catalogues.

For a decade, I’ve been snapping up copies of a certain gadget catalog, one by one, when they’re up for auction. Collecting and waiting.
The catalogs were disposable, and that means not many people kept them. But, to me, they tell a critically important story of the golden age of electronics, gadgets, copywriting, and sales.
They deserve to be preserved.
And I’m the guy to do it.

The closest thing I had growing up, was the Consumers Distributing magazines.

ethics Google

Google Alters Search Queries

Because of the recent antitrust case against Google, this story about the search giant altering search queries in order to make more money has come to light. It’s almost too much to believe:

Megan Gray writing for Wired:

There have long been suspicions that the search giant manipulates ad prices, and now it’s clear that Google treats consumers with the same disdain. The “10 blue links,” or organic results, which Google has always claimed to be sacrosanct, are just another vector for Google greediness, camouflaged in the company’s kindergarten colors.

Google likely alters queries billions of times a day in trillions of different variations. Here’s how it works. Say you search for “children’s clothing.” Google converts it, without your knowledge, to a search for “NIKOLAI-brand kidswear,” making a behind-the-scenes substitution of your actual query with a different query that just happens to generate more money for the company, and will generate results you weren’t searching for at all. It’s not possible for you to opt out of the substitution. If you don’t get the results you want, and you try to refine your query, you are wasting your time. This is a twisted shopping mall you can’t escape.

Google dropped the “Don’t be evil” motto when it changed its name to Alphabet but apparently hasn’t been living up to their new motto, “Do the right thing”.

Update: It has been noted that this is an opinion piece and the sources haven’t necessarily been vetted. Google’s statement via platformer:

Google does not delete queries and replace them with ones that monetize better as the opinion piece suggests, and the organic results you see in Search are not affected by our ads systems.


Two Ways to Improve Gmail

Dave Winer posted to ask if anyone had a suggestion on how to quickly create new email addresses that can be forwarded to his main address. I wrote him with a suggestion and at the same time realized I’ve never posted the techniques((I first learned about these features in a Gmail Blog post from 2008.)) here.

Gmail has a feature where you can add a + to the end of your email address and create a new address that goes to your original address. For example, will appear to the service you are signing up for as a different address than but they both go to my inbox.

The only downside is that some services see the + as being not a valid email address.

The other feature I want to highlight is that gmail ignores periods. Mail sent to or will both arrive in my inbox. Same with Gmail doesn’t care about the periods but each iteration is a different email address to the service you are signing up for.


How Google Reader was Killed

After 10 years, the question is still being asked: Who killed Google Reader? by The Verge’s David Pierce:

Of course, Google did kill it. (Google didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story.) Reader’s impending shutdown was announced in March of 2013, and the app went officially offline on July 1st of that year. “While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined,” Google SVP Urs Hölzle wrote in a blog post announcing the shutdown.

Google tried its best to bury the announcement: it made it the fifth bullet in a series of otherwise mundane updates and published the blog post on the same day Pope Francis was elected to head the Catholic Church. Internally, says Mihai Parparita, who was one of Reader’s last engineers and caretakers, “they were like, ‘Okay, the Pope will be the big story of the day. It’ll be fine.’ But as it turns out, the people who care about Reader don’t really care about the Pope.” That loyal following Hölzle spoke of was irate over losing their favorite web consumption tool.

I’m still mad but at this point I’m not sure I would even want them to revive it. Netnewswire is my reader of choice.

Art artificial intelligence Photography

Adobe Releases Photoshop’s AI Generative Fill

Adobe has announced a new Beta version of Photoshop that comes with generative AI technology.

Pam Clark, writing for the Adobe Blog:

We are thrilled to announce that the Photoshop (beta) app has released Generative Fill, the world’s first co-pilot in creative and design workflows, giving users a magical new way to work. Generative Fill is powered by Adobe Firefly, Adobe’s family of creative generative AI models. Starting today, Photoshop subscribers can create extraordinary imagery from a simple text prompt.

This brings two imaging powerhouses together — Photoshop and generative AI, enabling you to generate content from inside Photoshop with a text prompt and edit it with Photoshop’s comprehensive range of tools to create extraordinary results.

I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with DiffusionBee running Stable Diffusion and yet this one from Adobe blows me away by how fast and awesome it is. Even if working on Photoshop itself is not your thing, don’t miss the examples.

Music technology

Why Music Festivals Sound Better than Ever

As this video explains, line array speakers in sound system design have revolutionized audio quality in live music events. Dave Rat, a sound engineer and sound system designer who has provided audio for Coachella since 2001, explains the differences between point source and line array speakers and how the latter has helped improve the even distribution of sound across large festival areas. Additionally, advancements in technology, such as laser range finders and 3D mapping, have helped sound designers create precise and targeted sound systems, minimizing sound bleeding and creating a better experience for festival-goers. Next time I’m at a concert, I’m going to notice the speaker arrangement and appreciate how far we’ve come in sound design.

artificial intelligence backmasking

ChatGPT on Backmasking

GPT-3 (short for “Generative Pre-training Transformer 3”) is a state-of-the-art language generation model developed by OpenAI. It is designed to generate human-like text by predicting the next word in a sequence based on the words that come before it. I’ve been excited about the capabilities of ChatGPT and the ease at which one is able to generate human sounding responses to questions on obscure topics. I was also intrigued when I found out what it could do to explain how a specific section of code works.

Here is its quick response when I asked it to tell me about backmasking:

Backmasking is a recording technique in which a message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forwards. This technique has been used by artists in various genres of music, from rock to hip hop, to add hidden meanings or subliminal messages to their music.

Some people believe that backmasking can have a powerful and even dangerous influence on listeners, particularly when it comes to subliminal messages that are meant to manipulate the listener’s thoughts or behavior.

However, the effectiveness of backmasking as a means of influencing the listener is a topic of much debate. Many scientists and experts have conducted research on the topic and have found that, while it is possible for subliminal messages to be processed by the brain, they do not have the power to significantly change someone’s thoughts or actions.

In addition, the use of backmasking as a means of subliminal messaging has been largely debunked by the scientific community. While it may be possible to hear a backwards message when a track is played in reverse, the brain is not able to comprehend and process the message in the same way it would a message that is played forwards.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence supporting the power of backmasking, the technique remains a controversial and interesting topic in the world of music and popular culture. Some people continue to believe in the power of backmasking, while others see it as a harmless and even humorous gimmick.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it is important to approach the topic of backmasking with an open mind and to be aware of the limitations and limitations of this recording technique.

While it’s still early days as far as GPT-3 taking my job as a teacher, I also checked out what it could write up for lesson plans for grade five health class and it was impressive. It does play fast and loose with the facts however — I was asking about world record information and it remixed some real world divers and their records.

I would warn users that just like the complacency that can overcome drivers in a “full self-driving car”, the facts gleaned from GPT-3’s responses should be considered with the same dose of skepticism one would apply to secret backward messages. Not everything you hear, read, or see, is as legitimate as it appears.

artificial intelligence Photography video

The Follower

Using open source cameras and AI, Dries Depoorter created a website that creates clips of the exact moment instagram photos were taken.

From Dries’ site:

How does this work?

  1. Recorded a selection of open cameras for weeks.
  2. Scraped all Instagram photos tagged with the locations of the open cameras.
  3. Software compares the Instagram with the recorded footage.

It makes me wonder what the world will be like as AI begins to enable more and more of these types of projects. It’s exciting and terrifying.

(via Six Colors)