Netflix is rolling out a button that lets you skip the opening credits on some television shows. This week some Twitter users spotted a “skip intro” button that appears when you hover over the title sequence for shows including Netflix originals House of Cards and Iron Fist, and Mad Men (a third-party show). Both those shows open each episode with the title sequence, making it unclear whether you’ll be able to skip title sequences in shows with cold opens.
The first mention of the button we could find is in a Reddit post from 22 days ago. So far, the button has only been spotted on the web. Rolling it out more broadly would require app updates on the many platforms where Netflix is available. We’ve reached out to the company asking for...
The testers said the samples, which were breaded and deep-fried, tasted similar to traditional chicken, noting that many would eat it again.
The reaction was likely well received by Memphis Meats, which aims to bring the clean chicken and other meat products to market by 2021.
The company, and other start-ups like it, have previously produced clean beef. In fact, Memphis Meats debuted a clean meatball in Feb. 2016.
“We aim to produce meat in a better way, so that it is delicious, affordable and sustainable,” Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, said in a statement. “We really believe this is a significant technological leap for humanity.”
The WSJ reports that its not just start-ups aiming to change the way meat is produced. Tyson Foods set up a venture-capital fund to invest in lab-roan meat, while Hormel Foods has said the technology could be a long-term option.
But the prospect of using lab-grown meats to feed the masses isn’t something that will happen anytime soon. In fact, the WSJ reports that one pound of Memphis Meat chicken costs $9,000. By comparison, chicken breast sold in grocery stores currently averages $3.22/pound.
I suspect it would go faster than this. A lot of this has to do with the inability to produce it at large scale. If they can do that, then the price should come down quickly. The only variable will be the feedstock.
Funding efforts to fight climate change is “a waste of your money,” the director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney said in a press conference today. But Mulvaney is dangerously wrong: in fact, experts say that that the economic costs of climate change are so massive that delayed action, or inaction, is the most expensive policy option out there.
Doesn't mean you or he is necessarily wrong though. I am not super read up on the paris agreement. But it seems clear to me that we can mitigate a lot of cost by properly preparing for climate change instead of sticking our heads in the sand. Paris agreement or no.
Last month at the Code Media conference, Apple’s Eddy Cue was interviewed by Recode’s Peter Kafka about a variety of subjects. The trailer for “Planet of the Apps” seemed to get the lion’s share of the attention immediately afterward, but I was intrigued by what he said about podcasting:
I think there’s a huge resurgence in podcasting. And it’s exactly what customers want because it’s the ability of listening to something on demand when you want. And that’s exactly what it’s about. Can we do more and will we do more? Absolutely…. We’re working on new features for podcasts. Stay tuned.
I’ll grant you, Cue didn’t say much about podcasting. He was cryptic as any other Apple executive on stage at a non-Apple event might be. But I care a lot about podcasting—it makes up a surprisingly large share of my income these days—and Apple’s place in the podcasting world has always been a strange one. It has been a prominent player for well over a decade, but a strangely passive one. So much so that last year a bunch of prominent podcasters complained to the New York Times that Apple wasn’t doing enough to help them.
Cue’s remarks at Code Media could easily be interpreted as mumbly marketing-speak by an executive who doesn’t have anything to say. But I take Cue at his word that Apple is “working on new features for podcasts,” and that the company has noted the huge resurgence of podcasting. I suspect that, after more than a decade of slumber, Apple’s about to become much more active on the podcasting front.
A decade of podcast curation
Apple holds such a prominent place in podcasting because, very early on, it embraced the medium as a way to improve what was available for the iPod. In June 2005—at the very predecessor to the Code Media conference, All Things D—Steve Jobs demonstrated podcast integration with iTunes, as a part of iTunes 4.9. Now you could subscribe to a podcast in iTunes and sync episodes directly to your iPod—a process that seems barbaric today, but was a delightful innovation 12 years ago.
Key to Apple’s strategy was its creation of a large and relatively open directory of podcasts. Three years before the App Store, Apple repurposed the iTunes store infrastructure to build a global podcast directory. Anyone could submit their podcasts to Apple’s directory and, once approved, those podcasts would remain in the directory more or less forever. And it’s been pretty much this way ever since. At some point Apple provided podcasters with some back-end tools to make publishing and promoting their podcasts in the directory a bit more hands-on; it was a scattershot process, but in recent years it’s rolled those tools out to a much broader audience of publishers.
Other than adding some podcasting-related features to GarageBand (which it stripped out of a later version), Apple hasn’t been particularly active in the realm of podcasting. There’s a small iTunes team that promotes podcasts in the iTunes interface, and those promotions can be very helpful in acquiring new listeners. Apple’s release of an iOS app for listening to podcasts, and its bundling of that app with releases of iOS, was a huge step forward in both the visibility of the format and the curation being done in iTunes.
After 12 years, Apple’s directory is the definitive directory of podcasts. You don’t have to be in iTunes to be a podcast, but most podcasts are in iTunes. Other directories exist, but iTunes is the big fish. Google’s trying to build one, sort of, with Google Play Music—but Apple has a decade head start. Even third-party podcasting apps tend to use Apple’s directory data, either as their entire directory or as a verification tool for their own homebuilt podcast databases.
Apple looms large in the world of podcasting, but in all this time, it hasn’t really changed its basic approach from what it was in 2005: A simple, open directory of podcast submissions with a set of curated pages to help people find new podcasts to listen to.
When Eddy Cue says Apple is “working on new features for podcasts,” he might not be indicating a change from Apple at all. He could simply mean that there are some new features coming to the Podcasts app that will make it better. But I suspect that Apple’s planning on some larger moves, given the increased popularity of podcasting and the leverage Apple has built up over a decade.
So, shifting into pure speculation mode, here are some things that Cue could be talking about when he promises new features for podcasts:
What Apple won’t do: Provide a lot of user data
This is, I suspect, what every podcasting startup wants. Unlike the web, where user behavior can be closely measured and quantified, podcasting is a bit of a mystery. In general, we know that you downloaded a file—and that’s it. To know more, you need to be inside of the apps that people use to listen to podcasts.
Apple’s Podcasts app might be the most popular single piece of podcast-listening software out there today; if Apple were to measure how its users listen to podcasts and then shared that data with the publishers of podcasts, it could be revolutionary to our understanding of how podcasts work. Podcasters (and podcast advertisers) could know how many downloads lead to plays, how deep most listeners get into any given episode, and whether people listen to or skip the ads. It would be a flood of data, and most modern digital publishers say they love data.
Consider me skeptical. While I’m frustrated by the lack of detail and consistency about podcast listenership—I’ve got a podcast that regularly hits 30,000 downloads by one measurement and 20,000 by a different one—I’ve see what the flood of user data has done to the world of web publishing. Most web data is used to justify reducing ad rates and increasing the invasiveness of advertising.
Besides, if an advertiser is happy with the result it receives on a podcast that claims 20,000 listeners, doesn’t that mean the advertiser is paying the right price? If it turned out that same podcast only had 10,000 listeners for a regular episode, it wouldn’t change the result. In fact, you could argue it shows that podcasts are that much more effective at connecting with an audience. But someone else might use that data to argue for a 50 percent rate cut for the podcast instead. More data doesn’t generally improve the quality or price of advertising.
I’m also dubious about what anyone would do with that level of data. For more than a decade I’ve been flooded with page-view data, and I have ignored most of it and focused on using my judgment to make good stuff. In aggregate, it could be useful to find out when people tune out podcasts, whether certain podcast topics or lengths are more or less successful, and what makes podcast advertising successful versus unsuccessful. But the day to day drone of stats? On the web, you just let it fade into the background, because there’s too much data and a lot of it is conflicting.
I doubt Apple will do anything that increases individual surveillance on the habits of its users, and then shares that with third parties, because that’s not what Apple does. While this is the progress that many commercial podcasters say they want, I don’t think it’s likely to happen.
What Apple might do: Support paid podcast subscriptions
There is a technical barrier to making money from podcasts: They have to be free. The podcast and RSS format make it essentially impossible to charge for podcasts and protect them with passwords, as you can to subscription websites. You can make your podcast feeds secure-ish via obscurity, but a dedicated person can find their way to the crown jewels. Right now if a podcaster wants to wall off content—whether it’s new podcasts, back episodes, or everything—the only real choice is to use a separate app. I listen to “Presidents are People Too” in the Audible app, and “Offices and Bosses” in the Stitcher Premium app for these reasons.
But I know a company with a whole lot of credit-card numbers and a great facility at taking payments on the internet, including subscription payments. Apple could potentially build a paid podcast subscription system, using Apple’s payment infrastructure and its podcast-playing apps, and open it to all podcast publishers. Listeners would still need to download a specific app—Apple’s app—but they could mix the free podcasts in Apple’s catalog with the ones they’re paying for.
This one feels a whole lot more likely to me. Yes, it means that Apple’s podcast directory would shift from its current emphasis on the open standards of RSS to a hybrid model that also features limited-access content. But if Apple wanted to encourage the commercial growth of the podcast world, it would be entirely within its powers to make it happen.
Of course, for an approach like this to work, Apple might need to expand its podcast-playing empire a little bit, which takes us to…
What Apple might do: Expand across platforms
For Apple to get podcast publishers on board with paid podcast subscriptions, it’s going to need to answer the questions about users on non-Apple platforms, most notably Android. The answer here is for Apple to create a version of the Podcasts app for Android, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it did. There’s already Apple Music on Android—why not Podcasts, too? Google Play Music’s support for podcasts is weird, and while there are a few good Android-based podcast players out there—Pocket Casts comes to mind—combining standard podcast functionality with the ability to get access to new, subscriber-only podcasts could be a winner.
iTunes for Windows already exists, but it would be great if Apple created a standalone Podcast app for Mac and Windows alike. Failing that, how about a Podcasts web app that syncs subscription status with mobile players? It works pretty well in Overcast today, and Apple’s upped its iCloud game lately. It could happen.
What Apple will probably do: Keep iterating on app and curation
Beyond offering subscriptions, the Podcast app could get better, with better speed adjustment settings and automatic silence removal. It’s a pretty solid basic player today, but there’s always room for improvement. Maybe it’s time to add chapter support?
There’s never going to be an ultimate solution to the problem of giving people good suggestions about what kinds of podcasts they might like, but I expect that Apple will always keep pushing in this direction, both with curated features like the ones currently in the Podcasts section in iTunes, and algorithmic lists tailored to individual listeners. Maybe there’s some intelligence to be gleaned from Apple Music’s equivalents to these features.
If I had to place a bet on a major change in Apple’s approach to podcasting, I’d place it on adding money to the equation. It’s an area Apple knows well, and it’s already got many of the pieces in place to quickly bring on publishers and create its own library of premium, subscription-only audio programs. All while taking its traditional 30 percent cut, of course, at least for the first year. And if it does that, I’d be surprised it it didn’t offer a version of its Podcasts app on Android, too, just to make publishers confident that they’ve got all their bases covered.
It would be the first major change in how Apple has approached podcasting in the 12 years of the iTunes podcast directory. But after 12 years of inaction, maybe Apple finally feels it’s time for podcasting to become more than just a hobby.
For well over a decade I have written that we are past the point of no return on climate change. My reasoning was that hothouse gasses already in the atmosphere or which were for sure going to enter the atmosphere given our lack of action, were enough to trigger massive carbone and methane releases.
We’ve seen that methane, which accounts for only 14 percent of emissions worldwide, traps up to 100 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a 5-year period. This means that even though carbon dioxide molecules outnumber methane 5 to 1, this comparatively smaller amount of methane is still 19 times greater a problem for climate change over a 5 year period, and 4 times greater over a 100 year period.
Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers. A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth—an expanse the size of Alabama…
…Similar large-scale landscape changes are evident across the Arctic including in Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia
There is no way we are avoiding near worst case scenarios for climate change without aggressive geo-engineering (completly unproven, and requires political willpower). We will see temperature increases in some parts of the world which are currently highly populated make those places uninhabitable outside of air conditioning. We will see changes in rainfall patterns which will cause large areas which are currently agricultural powerhouses to fail; an effect which will be compounded by the fact that we have vastly drained and polluted our groundwater in prime agricultural areas.
Later on we will see vast rises in the ocean level. Virtually every city sitting on the seashore today will be gone in a hundred years, some a lot sooner.
This stuff is baked into the cake. It is essentially unavoidable. It has been effectively, politically, unavoidable for quite some time now.
Do not expect political, economic and social arrangements you favor to survive this. The waves of refugees will be magnitudes larger than those currently shaking the Middle East and Europe. There will be water wars; people will not sit still while they are dying, they will fight. Some of those wars will involve, at the least, the use of tactical nukes.
Capitalism, Democracy, the Chinese Communist Party, etc… any system and group of people who can reasonably be blamed for this, will likely be on the block. When hundreds of millions to billions start dying, they will not go easy into that long dark night, no, they and those they leave behind will look for people and ideologies and organizations to blame, and they will find them in plenty, because everyone and everything in power has failed to prevent an entirely forseen and largely preventable disaster.
Our failure will not be considered acceptable to those who pay the bill, and our “capitalism” and “democracy” and “corporations” and “free trade” and everything else you can think of will be on the block, liable for destruction.
This is coming on faster than many expected. Added to ecosphere collapse, the current cyclical capitalist sclerosis, and vast arsenals, it is going to be immensely damaging.
If you aren’t old, or sick, you’re going to suffer some of this. If you’re young, you’re going to suffer a lot of this, assuming you aren’t an early casualty.
So it is. So it shall be. We were warned, we chose not to act, because corporations needed profits or something.
So be it.
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