Search for “follow the money”

It’s Wednesday. Happy hump day. And happy quinquennial World Statistics Day.

The Franklin Park Zoo has a new addition. Very cute.

If you search for something in Safari on your iPhone, the default search engine is Google. Probably most searches are done this way and it’s a highly profitable arrangement for both Apple and Google. It’s also the focus of an antitrust probe.

When politicians want to seem genuine they eat fake food. Because that’s what real people eat. (Joe Biden seems to go to Dairy Queen a lot.)

What, exactly, is an “Electoral Intrusion?” And capitalized, no less. I guess we’ll find out on Sunday night.

And, what year did the word psychobabble appear? If you guessed 1975, you would be not wrong. (The Merriam Webster Time Traveller is a good way to waste a little bit of time.)

Vanilla nut taps

Tuesday, October 13th. It’s Ada Lovelace Day, a woman ahead of her time.

There were 765 cases reported in Massachusetts yesterday. The numbers are starting to climb. Let’s hope they even out.

It’s easy to laugh at us Bostonians. But we’re laughing too. There’s just enough truth in these bits to make them uncomfortably funny.

Bellow, Updike, Roth. All gone. But Don DeLillo, at 83, is still writing great American novels. His latest book, The Silence, will be available later this month. It may be his last. He talked to David Marchese (on a landline.) It’s a great interview: “Do you read any websites? No, I don’t. My wife has a computer, but no, I don’t have any interest in that.” Amazing. Love that throwback attitude.

Farmers are not doing as well as they were four years ago. Trump trade wars and embargoes have put them on their heels. But some shamelessly well placed subsidies ahead of the election just might help to ease the pain.

And there’s an Apple event later today, mostly focused on new iPhones. But you never know. Dan Moren tells us what we can expect.

Buyers market

A sleepy, foggy Sunday morning. It’s Sam Adams‘ birthday. He’s 298 years old.

Time to pick the apples.

John Puma, COO of Places For Less, a cloud-based apartment rental broker, wrote a piece for Commonwealth Magazine on eliminating apartment rental broker fees in Boston. Places For Less does charge a fee but it’s structured differently and charged to landlords, not prospective tenants. This is a space ripe for disruption.

Widgetsmith, an app that allows you to extensively customize your iPhone screens and icons, is the #1 app on the App Store. Here’s my new slightly customized home screen. Nice and simple. (And very (maybe too) blue.)

Others have been much more creative than I have. You can even change default icons by attaching them to Shortcuts. The app is a great success. And you know what they say about imitation being a form of flattery? In this case imitations are more thievery than flattery and, as John Gruber notes, Apple needs to do more to prevent this kind of ripoff.

This NYT headline and sub tell you what you need to know about the coming fall and winter: World Nears Grim Milestone of a Million DeathsThe number of lives lost daily has been rising through most of August and September, and new hot spots keep emerging. The U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico account for more than half of the total.

And Octoberfest is upon us. But this year will be different -of course. For one thing, we’ll be making our own pretzels.

Generally displeased

Happy Friday. Rosh Hashanah begins tonight.

School custodians will be working their butts off this fall. Once the students return, high-touch areas in schools will need to be cleaned multiple times over the course of the day. And for school nurses, life is about to become much more complicated.

After the 2016 election, many people were concerned. Would Trump become more presidential? Was there anything to this Russian business? What was fake and what was real? There were no clear answers at that time but it did occur to me then that there was a good ‘canary in the coal mine’ to watch for: the Generals. Mostly Republican but usually non-partisan, they have to navigate through a changing political landscape over long careers, so they value discretion. They also tend to be principled and patriotic with a strong sense of what it takes to be a good leader. So, watch the Generals, I thought. It might be instructive. And here we are.

The New York Times is reporting that Iranian hackers have found a way to defeat app-based encryption on Android phones, giving them the ability to view information in Telegram and WeChat. Apparently malware, disguised as an Android app, was used to gain the access.

iOS 14 became available for download this week. If your iPhone is set for automatic updates you probably already have it installed. Here are the big new features and here are some smaller, more hidden improvements. And if privacy is important to you, this update sets new marks in protecting your data. Even in Iran.

And speaking of WeChat, it, and TikTok are banned in the US starting Sunday. There will be tears.

Chained to a tree

A hazy Wednesday. Happy birthday to Peter Falk and Lauren Bacall.

Scott Kearnan is prepared to bundle up and eat outside all winter to keep the local restaurant scene afloat. The Boston Licensing Board is onboard as well, at least through December.

Melnea Cass is a cut-through for cars, and for that it works well. Maybe too well. People drive way too fast through the neighborhood going from the Southeast Expressway to the medical area, Northeastern, and points west. For pedestrians and cyclists in the neighborhood, it’s no bargain. Besides the speedy traffic, the walking/biking paths are rutted and cracked because of tree roots and snow removal is difficult for the same reason. A complete redesign is needed. Alternatively, the city could just leave things the way they are. That would be bad for the neighborhood but good for commuters. I can’t imagine how the narrative on this got flipped. Now city councillors are calling for a hearing on environmental racism and lawyers in the AG’s office are lecturing the city on the benefit of trees. I guess no good deed goes unpunished.

It’s iPhone software update day. iOS 14 should be ready for download at about 1 this afternoon on the east coast.

Health care spending is down and profits are up. But that hasn’t stopped health insurance providers from pushing for higher premiums in the next year. Get ready for an 8% increase. Ouch.

And with more new options for going into space opening up, NASA needs a method to choose which astronauts get to go. Did I hear someone say ‘reality show!’?