Episode 64: Now with tongue detection

Download: Episode 64.

This week Audrey and I chat about Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub, Apple’s WWDC announcements, why you may not want to engage in witness tampering using WhatsApp, and Tesla autopilot’s role in a fatal crash earlier this year.

Show Notes

Community Announcements

Community Event Planning, 2nd Edition

Our Kickstarter for the 2nd edition of Community Event Planning was funded. Thank you to all our amazing backers!

We’re publishing an expanded and updated version of our guide to running community-focused conferences, with new material on diversity. In addition to writing from our own expertise, we’ll be interviewing other event organizers from our technology community to share their best practices. Creating community events is a an ongoing conversation, and we all learn from each other. The Kickstarter ran through end of day on May 31st.

Now Broadcasting LIVE most Fridays

We broadcast our episode recordings LIVE on most Fridays at 10am PT. No broadcast June 29. Mark your calendars and visit recompilermag.live to tune-in.

We love hearing from you! Feedback, comments, questions…

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You can leave a comment on this post, tweet to @recompilermag or our host @christi3k, or send an email to podcast@recompilermag.com.


CHRISTIE: Hello and welcome to The Recompiler, a feminist hacker podcast where we talk about technology in a fun and playful way. I’m your host, Christie Koehler.

Okay, we should be on air.

AUDREY: Great. Hello.

CHRISTIE: Hey, Audrey. This is the live recording for The Recompiler podcast Episode 64. We’re recording on June 8th, 2018. This week, we’re going to chat about Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub, some announcements that Apple made at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference, why you may not want to engage in witness tampering using WhatsApp or maybe at all for that matter, and then there’s an update on that really fatal crash with Tesla with a car that was using autopilot. But for some announcements, what have we got, Audrey?

AUDREY: All right. We have a couple of upcoming events that we are happy to be sponsoring and involved with. One of them is DevOpsDays Portland. It’s happening September 11th through 13th in Portland, as it says. DevOpsDays is a worldwide series of technical conferences covering topics of software development, IT infrastructure, and the intersection between them. There’s a really strong human element to the conversation that happens there that I really like. I don’t want to call it soft skills because it’s the really essential stuff of interpersonal interactions, communication, things like that. And DevOpsDays Portland has in my experience just done a great job of servicing those kinds of conversations. So we have a 20% off discount code that you can use. I believe there are still tickets available. And if you tune in in a few weeks, we’re going to be doing a drawing for a ticket to give away too.

CHRISTIE: Oooh, so RECOMPILERFRIENDS is the 20% off discount code, all one word. And then we have Open Source Bridge which Audrey and I have teamed up again to organize a year 10 conference to be the final year.

AUDREY: The grand finale.

CHRISTIE: Grand finale. So we’ll have a one day unconference to wrap up the conference, celebrate the conference, talk about sort of what’s next.

AUDREY: Reflect on all of the ways that open source has changed and our understanding of open source has changed over the past 10 years which I think we’re going to get into in a little bit here.

CHRISTIE: Yeah. There’s this concept of citizenship still apply.

AUDREY: And citizenship is very politically fraught to talking about in the United States in a way that I didn’t appreciate 10 years ago.

CHRISTIE: It’s June 29th is when that’s happening and we do have a limited space. So, if you want to go, get your tickets. And we just announced that we’ll be having free onsite child care during the day. So if you want to take advantage of that, we need to know by the 15th. So go ahead and let us know. Buy a ticket and let us know. And then Audrey, it’s not in our show notes but I think mentioning that we funded… you all awesome supporters successfully funded our Kickstarter for the second edition of Community Event Planning.

AUDREY: Yeah, we went over our total which is always really exciting to see. And as Christie knows, yesterday we were talking through our plan for the book and how we’re going to get started on that. So I’m really excited this is coming together.

CHRISTIE: And if you didn’t have a chance to participate in the Kickstarter but still want a copy of the book, that will be a thing that will be possible at some point. So stay tuned.

AUDREY: I may even have that set up by the time this gets published.

CHRISTIE: All right. So last Sunday as I was hopping on a plane to go to San Francisco, there started being rumors or was it rumors the day before and then it was starting to be confirmed. Anyway…

AUDREY: I think Sunday is when people started to hear about it.

CHRISTIE: Okay. So Microsoft is acquiring GitHub for a mind boggling sum of 7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. And oh, was there a lot of discussion and feels about this.

AUDREY: Now that I’ve said Sunday, I feel the need to correct myself because I’m remembering I talked to somebody who works at GitHub on the Friday before, and asked if there was a lot of…you know, basically if everyone is freaking out over Slack. And the friend said, “Well, no. We’re waiting.” It seemed like people had a lot of different kinds of feelings, and that hearing it going into the weekend was kind of awkward.

CHRISTIE: It was one of those cases where I think the rumors…someone published a thing on Saturday or Sunday saying it seems like Microsoft’s going to acquire GitHub and then it was actually confirmed on like early Monday, I think.

AUDREY: Yeah, they made the announcement first thing on Monday.

CHRISTIE: Presumably, a lot of people found out they were becoming Microsoft employees like over the weekend through Twitter which that wouldn’t leave me with the greatest feeling.

AUDREY: No. And it’s not like this doesn’t ever happen. The company I used to work for got acquired by Amazon and a friend of mine who was still there when it happened was, I think, got [inaudible] when the announcement was made.

CHRISTIE: I think that’s the worst almost.

AUDREY: So it was kind of weird. I think some folks texted like, “So, just so you know…” I think there’s these negotiations that companies are making and those big organizations that can be hard to figure out the right time.

CHRISTIE: Right. And I was kind of delighted because I tweeted back in January about this happening not because I had any insider knowledge but just because it seemed like a thing that was likely.

AUDREY: Yeah, there were a lot of ways that it seemed kind of obvious, I think.

CHRISTIE: And so, what was your initial reaction to this, Audrey?

AUDREY: I don’t know. I mean, I guess what I thought at first was that GitHub really has had this big leadership problem. A lot of different flavors of leadership problems. And so one thing that they regain here is being bought up by a company that, I mean this also had leadership problems but at least has quite a structure to draw from, and GitHub started off with this idea of having a flat hierarchy. And just generally what I’ve heard gives me the impression that they’ve struggled to transition out of that.

CHRISTIE: So maybe they’ve had some organizational scaling issues.

AUDREY: Just organizational issues, period.

CHRISTIE: They’re getting a new CEO who’s seems like a pretty decently respected open source figure, was the founder of the Xamarin.

AUDREY: Can you spell it?

CHRISTIE: As soon as I Google it. It’s X-A-M-A-R-I-N. That’s the company that the new CEO of GitHub founded. And I’ve forgotten their name, of course.

AUDREY: I’m sure it will be in the show notes.

CHRISTIE: Nat Friedman. And of course, that Xamarin project was another acquisition of Microsoft. To me, it seems like another not only a big step, a huge step but another step in this sort of ongoing continuum of Microsoft embracing open source.

AUDREY: Right. That’s something that I think we’ve been hearing about for a while that Microsoft has made a significant transition from being a company that tried to put open source alternatives out of business in a lot of ways to a company that’s sort of decided to envelop it instead.

CHRISTIE: I don’t think this pretends doom for the GitHub as we know it. I think that it’s probably in Microsoft’s best interest at least for the foreseeable future to keep a lot of what makes GitHub the platform popular among developers to keep that the same.

AUDREY: I agree.

CHRISTIE: I think we’ll probably see things, like they might add some authentication. I feel like in the last year, they changed the Skype authentication to Windows Live or, I don’t know what it’s called.

AUDREY: Which has had some weird effects for me searching for people in Skype that suddenly there’s a much bigger database of folks that are in there with different kinds of Microsoft accounts.

CHRISTIE: I’m hoping it won’t be as clunky as what they did with Skype. I’m hoping that the GitHub blog one will actually kind of stay first class.

AUDREY: I don’t think that they have a big reason to change anything that’s going on there technically. I mean, the big stuff obviously, there’s lots of internal components that are being worked on. But I do think that what it gives is just a kind of stability to this thing that everyone has become very heavily dependent on.


AUDREY: It shows us that GitHub probably won’t go out of business and take all our code.

CHRISTIE: Because GitHub hasn’t been profitable. It’s been running on venture capital this entire time. And that’s not something that you can do indefinitely.

AUDREY: Although I think there are companies that try.

CHRISTIE: I do think we’ll probably at some point see more tighter integration with [inaudible] or whatever. And I’m betting that behind the scenes, there will be a lot of work with it. I’m not too familiar with GitHub’s enterprise offerings but I can imagine that those customers will maybe end up using more Microsoft products or something like that.

AUDREY: And adding things like Visual Studio integration maybe to share some UI and some visualization. I could see things like that happening, too.

CHRISTIE: And it’s interesting too because now they have ownership of Atom and I think the entire Elektron project which given how many desktop apps…

AUDREY: Are making use of Elektron, yeah.

CHRISTIE: It’s kind of a big deal.

AUDREY: I hadn’t thought about that. That’s interesting. All the public commentary I’ve seen from employees has been positive. From employees obviously there are lots of GitHub users that have different feelings.

CHRISTIE: GitLab leveraged the incidents to drive new sign ups. Now whether or not they drove any new paid sign ups, I think is a…

AUDREY: I saw that folks were getting a server error that they were getting kind of swamped.

CHRISTIE: I found it pretty interesting that people were always, like there’s still this leftover mindset, or it’s not left over but I mean they were automatically rushing to migrate to GitLab who is also venture funded.

AUDREY: It’s a pretty [inaudible] response and not very thought through in terms of what it actually means. I think that there’s a bigger issue here about the centralization of this kind of tool anyhow. What I heard from people, I didn’t look into this in detail, but I heard people saying that they’d originally set up GitLab with a self-hosted kind of version and that that’s not being supported anymore or new sign ups aren’t being allowed that way. And I think that we do have this bigger question of what does it mean to centralize everybody’s pull request system, everybody’s [inaudible] into a single service.

CHRISTIE: What’s hard about that though and I feel like this is what we always come back to is part of what made GitHub so popular was the centralization. Having one place for everybody to go is partially why everybody goes there.

AUDREY: But also I don’t think that at the time they started, that you could have pointed somebody else to another UI that did a thing similar aside from the social aspects. I don’t think that there’s been like really great options in terms of those components.

CHRISTIE: You mean they didn’t have a competitor at the time?

AUDREY: Yeah. Or I am certain that there are things that you could go find and deploy but it’s just that there was this really obvious problem that they were solving that extends beyond, like I said, the social interactions on GitHub which weren’t something that I paid a lot of attention to at first. They weren’t a big factor for me.

CHRISTIE: Right. And I think that’s where Paul Ford’s article about this really makes a lot of sense. There’s this thing in here. I pulled this out because I thought it was really a good encapsulation. It says: the way you truly win big in software is to take something deeply abstract, weird, and confusing than put an interface on top that makes it look like the most normal thing in creation. This is actually where it was going when we were talking about Facebook and emotional labor, where that kind of…maybe it’s not the same problem but to me, it’s a similar problem, that taking something deeply abstract, weird, and confusing and then making it seem very normal. To me, there’s a kind…maybe it’s not exactly emotional labor but to me, it’s a parallel or a very similar type of thing and that’s where I was going [inaudible].

AUDREY: The social labor. I mean, there’s probably a better term for it. But all of that thing of knowing when birthdays are and updating people, all that kind of stuff keeping track of where your second cousin lives anyhow.

CHRISTIE: I did find it interesting that some of the commentary I saw was, “Oh, they should have set up a foundation.” I have a Twitter thread in response to that, that I can link to in the show notes. But it did kind of crack me up because in a way, there already was a foundation for the underlying technology. What was missing was that making something deeply abstract, weird, confusing and then making it user friendly. And that is something that open source foundations have generally not done. We generally have needed a company to do that.

AUDREY: And I think Paul Ford’s article really gets into why that matters with git. I think he does a good job of explaining that. I pulled out this one quote just because I thought it was really funny. He’s talking about how if you’re using git and this becomes your default way of doing things and he’s describing sort of a hypothetical conversation between programmers. He says, “Why do we pretend that there’s any canonical version of anything? (Because we have to make money.) Git acknowledges a long-held, shared, and hard-to-express truth which is that the world is ever shifting and nothing is ever finished.” But bringing this tool to programmers I think has also revealed to us something about the way that we work. And the way that we share information.

CHRISTIE: That work is distributed, that there’s many different versions, that it’s always being built upon.

AUDREY: And that different users may have differing needs of it. One of the most transformative things that GitHub did is that they shifted the idea of forking a project, forking an open source project from something that you do in the midst of an argument, something that is almost offensive to do.

CHRISTIE: And drastic.

AUDREY: And drastic. They shifted that into something that is a normal consequence of working on code together.

CHRISTIE: Right. I hadn’t thought about that. They normalized it. It’s routine now.

AUDREY: And the impact of that is that people do make the kinds of customizations that they need to when their goals differ from the project owners. They do get in there and fix bugs on abandoned projects and pick them up again without a formal handoff of ownership. There are a lot of positive benefits to this.

CHRISTIE: That’s really interesting. Now I’m really wondering about the decision making that went into using that terminology or if they just didn’t think about it because that’s kind of a big deal.

AUDREY: My impression is that they didn’t because it’s the literal thing that you’re doing. And I don’t think that we saw a lot of…I don’t think that anybody reconsidered the terminology when they started implementing this stuff.

CHRISTIE: So it was framed purely in the technical sense, not in the social sense.

AUDREY: But again, the consequence of making it easy to do and something that was all in the same platform is that, again, it just becomes the default way of doing things, like if you want to contribute to a larger project and you don’t have commit access, what do you do? You fork it. You post it on your own repo. It stays linked up and you make all of your changes on your own version of it and then push things upstream. And you get a way to manage both sets of those things.

CHRISTIE: Okay. Anything else about Microsoft and GitHub?

AUDREY: No, I think it’s generally a good thing to see as much as I don’t love there being five companies that own everything.

CHRISTIE: Right. At least it’s five and not one.

AUDREY: Not one.


AUDREY: There may be some final Highlander thing that’s going to happen here but give it at least 10 years.

CHRISTIE: What does that final Highlander thing, for some of our listeners on the show?

AUDREY: Highlanders like a group of people fighting it out because there can only be one.

CHRISTIE: Oh, okay. I see what you mean. I think of all the big tech companies that have this much capital, I’m glad it was at Microsoft. That would have been my choice, I think.

AUDREY: Oh, yeah. If it had been Oracle…

CHRISTIE: Yeah, Oracle had been horrible. I don’t think Google would have been good. And I wouldn’t be surprised if like GitHub acquires GitLab later on or something.

AUDREY: Well, Google had Google Code and they killed it.

CHRISTIE: But didn’t they replace it with anything?

AUDREY: I don’t think so. I mean, maybe there’s something about like involved with their Cloud services.

CHRISTIE: They’re investors in GitLab too.

AUDREY: Oh, okay.

CHRISTIE: Their venture arm is. I feel like this thing about Manafort is almost overshadowed by the news that broke after we talked about content yesterday about the New York Times reporter and in that case Signal is being used. But I haven’t had a chance to track all that down. But I just kind of wanted to mention it.

AUDREY: I haven’t seen this yet.

CHRISTIE: I’ll send you the links. But in this case, so Paul Manafort who’s been on house arrest, which seems like a very privileged status to begin with, has been indicted for witness tampering. And so, they’re trying to revoke his house arrest or his bail and get him back in jail. But the thing that stood out for me about this is that he was using WhatsApp and Telegram to try and communicate with these witnesses. And in the filing, it’s indicated that there were two ways that they were able to see the messages. One of them was that the witnesses just handed over the messages. So it’s another thing of like the security is only as strong as the weakest link.

AUDREY: Then it makes sense in this context that if you were trying to negatively influence somebody’s behavior, that maybe actually having a record of that is bad.

CHRISTIE: And then apparently, there was a backup of the message activity in iCloud. And I don’t know if this is known for sure but there’s indications that they may have gotten access to that messages through that.

AUDREY: Like subpoenaed Apple?

CHRISTIE: Or had access to one of the devices or something.

AUDREY: He gave us some good examples of…I think what you’re about to say is that there’s all these things around the security of the communication channel.

CHRISTIE: Right. Situational awareness, yeah.

AUDREY: And the thing that we call sometimes security culture, do people handle information in a secure way?

CHRISTIE: Right. And just simply telling someone, “Oh, use WhatsApp, Use Signal,” without helping them increase their situational awareness may yield results that are less than optimal. Now in this case, Manafort probably deserve to get caught. So I’m not saying that, I’m just…yeah.

AUDREY: There are ways that you don’t necessarily want to be good at the security for various reasons. But I was thinking about this over breakfast this morning and thinking about how in legal cases, in civil cases, there is this problem of discovery being used for harassment. We’ve been seeing this with the lawsuit against Google that happened last year. And I was thinking about how this kind of [inaudible] usefully in a couple of ways to think about what we put on the record, what we put potentially on the record and how, again, that these secure communication channels still, there’s holes in the overall security of it because there is something that’s been recorded in whatever way.

CHRISTIE: Right. So you’re specifically talking about a case where people were posting to internal message boards and they had an expectation that those would stay internal, but through the process, one, other employees were leaking that in general but then through the process of discovery, it actually became part of the public record.

AUDREY: And that I think it’s important to think about who is a party to your conversation in the first place. Is that being recorded in any format? Is that a conversation that really should be happening over that kind of a channel? Or with particularly fraught things, is it better to talk face to face or just over the phone over voice? And that it’s good for us to think about the data that happens when we communicate.

CHRISTIE: Yeah and it’s really tough, especially we work a lot of remote. And I mean, you and I are close together geographically, but there’s people I work with that I’m not close to. And even picking up the phone, it’s pretty easy to record phone calls, video calls or calls made over the computer.

AUDREY: Sure, yeah.

CHRISTIE: I put the Signal link in here. We can talk about it next time. I’ll put in the show notes too, so folks would know what I’m talking about. So the other thing, I do not necessarily think that Microsoft-GitHub thing was just random timing because I do think it overshadowed possibly a little bit WWDC which was also this week.

AUDREY: Right. The GitHub and Microsoft thing really overwhelmed any other conversation for about three days.

CHRISTIE: Right. And usually, the week of WWDC or the other…usually when Apple makes announcements, the tech media is very focused on that. And so, their World Wide Developers Conference, did you get caught up on the stuff they announced?

AUDREY: Not in general. Just a couple of things that you had pointed out when we were planning.

CHRISTIE: So it’s all software feature updates. They talked a lot about what’s coming to iOS, what iOS 12 I guess is what we’re up to, and what’s coming to Mojave which is the next version of Mac OS. What? That’s going to be…is that going to be 10.14, I guess.

AUDREY: Yeah, that sounds right.

CHRISTIE: So there’s some improvements to Siri. There is a new version of the ARKit, the Augmented Reality Kit. There’s something called Memoji which I think is only an iPhone X thing which you can somehow turn your face into an emoji.

AUDREY: They’re like an animated personalized thing.

CHRISTIE: I’m not at a point where I spend a grand on a phone to do this. Can you use anyone’s iPhone X? Do we just need to find one person that we can make Memojis of ourselves?

AUDREY: I don’t know. We should ask around.

CHRISTIE: And it will come with tongue detection?


CHRISTIE: That’s just what it said. Wired says, “Both Animoji and Memoji also come tongue detection. So have fun with that.” I think it means you can like stick out your tongue.

AUDREY: Oh, okay. Not that like you can lick your phone.

CHRISTIE: I think so. And I had the exact same thought when I first saw that because somehow, I was also reading about the iWatch updates. And so, I was like, “Is that so you can use your iWatch if your hands aren’t free? Like you stick your tongue out?” I was very confused.

AUDREY: I think once or twice, I’ve used my nose to touch something on the phone, but licking it just sounds like too much.

CHRISTIE: I don’t think my phone is particularly sanitary. Group chat on FaceTime. Oh, a big thing that they’re adding to iOS 12 is better control over notifications and a reporting feature about how much you’ve been using your phone and for how.

AUDREY: I did see something about that, that they were building in some features meant to help people log out more.

CHRISTIE: And I also saw people talking about that some of the parental controls, you can monitor what apps your kids are in and set limits, some updates to photos. I don’t really pay attention to the Apple TV updates because I don’t have those things and I don’t want to tempt myself into buying those things. I really like the idea of a watch and I tried to wear my nice watch should I have, but I’m always taking it off because it starts to bug my wrist. And I’m pretty sure I would do the same thing with an Apple Watch and potentially leave it somewhere.

AUDREY: I finally bought a watch for the first time in years and I’m definitely not wearing it every day. But I finally realized that I need something with a second hand. It’s just a pain to do it on your phone.

CHRISTIE: But one of the big things that caught my attention is that they’re adding a…this seems like it’s still kind of in the rumored status but they’re adding a feature that called the USB Restricted Mode meaning that when you have this on, you’ll have to unlock the phone in order to access anything that’s plugged into lightning. They’re kind of a USB accessory even though it’s into the lighting port. That’s a little confusing.

AUDREY: I guess because USB is the other end of it.

CHRISTIE: Yeah. So why this is significant is because that company, GrayShift that we talked about that has the iPhone unlocking device, that works through the lightning port. So if the phone won’t even recognize a thing plugged into it unless you unlock your phone, then they can’t use that to try to figure out what the passcode is.

AUDREY: And the article sounded like the feature has been in the works awhile, but what Apple is trying to figure out is inappropriate delay before this feature kicks in. Is a week too much? Is an hour enough so that it doesn’t prevent normal use but does make it hard for law enforcement.

CHRISTIE: It seems like they’re narrowing down in on the hour which I think seems like it makes sense. So, I think that’s good news.

AUDREY: When we talked about it before, we thought that Apple would probably take steps to prevent that kind of unlocking, that it’s really in their best interest to continue to put user security first even when it comes in conflict with law enforcement.

CHRISTIE: It does make me wonder for servicing a phone, if you don’t know the passcode or if you’ve forgotten it, I don’t know if they can restore a phone.

AUDREY: It may increase the number or the likelihood that you have to wipe a phone and start over.

CHRISTIE: But don’t you have to plug a phone in to wipe it? Oh, no, no! Duh! If you guess the password wrong 10 times in a row, it wipes. Is that what you mean?



AUDREY: If you have that turned on.

CHRISTIE: Right. I also noticed they do a lot of their diagnostics over Bluetooth or NFC, too. And then one other thing I did want to mention is that they announced a bunch of security and privacy features for Safari. So it says it will now block tracking from comment fields and “share” or “like” buttons.

AUDREY: [Inaudible].

CHRISTIE: This little snippet I’m reading on Wired doesn’t say either way. I’ll have to go look at it a little further. And Mojave will also include new features to fight fingerprinting, a technique data companies use to track users based on identifying the computers. And then apps on iOS will now need explicit permission to use the camera, microphone, location, data, mail, messages, and more. I thought that was already the case. I’m a little confused that. That got my attention enough that periodically I keep trying to make Safari my everyday browser and I’m back to doing that. I think I’ve figured out a way, with the exception of maybe a few things like Zotero or something that requires that doesn’t have a Safari thing, I think I can do most of what I want to do on Safari.

AUDREY: There are definitely some things that are still Chrome only.

CHRISTIE: One of the things I thought was one of those, it turns out I could do some AppleScript. I was like, “Oh, okay.” Anything else about Apple? I was kind of hoping for some hard news.

AUDREY: I think that they save a lot of that for Fall and kind of like the back-to-school announcements that they do. Some of that stuff comes out in September. There is one other bit that you’d highlighted though about how they’re making progress toward having a system for iOS apps to be deployed on Macs.

CHRISTIE: Oh, yes.

AUDREY: For developers to be able to do that. And I thought that it makes sense. It definitely speaks to the ways that we’re doing a lot of things across platforms. We’re using a lot of things across platforms. It sounds like they’re putting a lot of thought into how that should work. It also feels to me like it pushes toward good software development practices to have separation of layers to be running a backend API that’s well-defined and not have an app that tries to do everything right on the phone.

CHRISTIE: That’s a good point. I hadn’t thought about that. I wonder if that means eventually we won’t have to buy the desktop app and the iOS app.

AUDREY: It’s a little weird how that works now. And I guess there may be some way that the company can [inaudible] one from the other.

CHRISTIE: I think this is probably…for apps that have done that, they’re really complicated. I think that kind of merger will take a very long time if it happens. But for new things that are being developed, that would be nice.

AUDREY: And that’s what I mean about the backend too, like there are possibly two different UIs that make sense on touch versus the desktop. But encouraging app developers and companies working on this to really think about that separation, I just think it’s really good and there might be a nice side effect of this.

CHRISTIE: This just happened on [inaudible], they released the 3.0 version on iOS and the desktop version is going to trail by months. And there’s database schema changes. Like they’ve done it in a way that you can still sort of use the desktop app but you won’t see all of the same features.

AUDREY: Huh! That sounds like a pretty complicated tradeoff.

CHRISTIE: Yeah. Okay. So it’s a little sad stuff. But the NTSB released their preliminary report on that fatal Tesla crash that happened…was it back in March? It was earlier this year in the Bay Area where the autopilot was on and the car went into one of those barriers, that’s like when a lane is going to split off on the highway, one of those barriers.

AUDREY: That it had even appeared to accelerate into the barrier.

CHRISTIE: Yeah. So there’s a couple of thing that stuck out for me. One of them was that cruise control was on. And so the car had been behind this slower moving car. That car ended up in a different lane. And so at the time of the crash, the other car was accelerating presumably to hit that cruise control target. That stood out to me. It turns out that the driver’s hands were on the steering wheel for like more amount of time than I think Tesla sort of let on in their initial portrayal of the accident.

AUDREY: And they tried to play it like the driver had heard a warning and ignored it. And the actual crash data doesn’t support that. That any warning he heard was long before the crash.

CHRISTIE: Yes. Another really big thing stood out for me here is just the issue of the fire that was created by damage to the batteries. Did this stick out for you, Audrey?

AUDREY: Yeah. What it made me think of is on TV, cars explode when they crash all the time. But that isn’t actually very common in real life because they’re designed to not do this.

CHRISTIE: Thank goodness.

AUDREY: To have the battery case crack open so that the whole thing can catch on fire.

CHRISTIE: But it says the big fire at the scene…and I don’t know if the driver died from burn injuries or from other injuries. I mean, he hit that barrier going pretty fast. But it also says, “The crash created a big battery fire that destroyed the front of the vehicle. Fire Department applied approximately 200 gallons of water and foam over a 10-minute period. The car was towed to an impound lot, but the batteries weren’t finished burning. A few hours after the crash, the battery was still emanating smoke and audible venting.” I’m not sure what that means. Is that like sizzling or something?

AUDREY: Maybe.

CHRISTIE: Five days later, the smoldering battery reignited requiring another visit from the fire department.

AUDREY: That just sounds so hazardous.

CHRISTIE: So hazardous.

AUDREY: And they were able to look a little bit more at the barrier, and how the previous crash that had knocked into the barrier affected the fatality of the incident.

CHRISTIE: Right. It’s something like a week earlier, someone had hit that. And so the safety, sort of like an airbag, if it gets deployed, you have to replace the whole thing. You can’t do it twice, and so the barrier had been damaged.

AUDREY: Basically pre-crumbled, so there wasn’t anything to give.


AUDREY: It just sounds like there are multiple things that went wrong here and Tesla’s still trying to downplay responsibility.


AUDREY: Oh, I just wanted to say that I did appreciate that the NTSB does seem to be looking at the way that the programming affects these things. They’re not just taking it for granted but looking at how the cruise control played into it. And there was this steering thing too that I expect that they’ll be able to look at a little bit more. Why was the vehicle steering in the way that it was.

CHRISTIE: So NTSB is doing its job. Yay for federal regulatory oversight.

AUDREY: Federal safety agencies that are still employed and working.

CHRISTIE: I think we’re to things we love on the internet this week.

AUDREY: Awesome.

CHRISTIE: What have you got, Audrey?

AUDREY: I saw the other week a link to these cuckoo clocks. Have you looked at them yet?

CHRISTIE: Oh, yeah.

AUDREY: They’re sort of designed to look like Brutalist apartment blocks. Brutalist architecture is something that I really did not like as a kid. And I have come to appreciate something about the squareness of it and the sort of smoothness of these designs. And I just thought it was really cool that somebody made clocks.

CHRISTIE: I like how little these satellite dishes stuck on them. Can you actually buy these or are these just sort of in an art gallery sort of thing?

AUDREY: Let’s see. It mentions artist, and I think they might be at a gallery exhibition. But there’s also photos on the link. And yeah, they have like little house plants. It’s not just that they’re made to look like these very severe apartment buildings. They actually look very homey and [inaudible].

CHRISTIE: What I really want is a video of one of them actually doing its thing. Because we had a cuckoo clock growing up and I actually wanted one for a long time. They’re really expensive.

AUDREY: Probably because the mechanics of them.

CHRISTIE: Yeah, and the ornateness. But there’s all these moving parts. And I think different things happen at different parts of the hour or different hours of the day. But I haven’t seen a video of these. Clocks are pretty fascinating.

Okay. Oh, I was almost going to sign off. I hadn’t done my thing.

AUDREY: Yes Christie, what is your favorite thing on the internet this week?

CHRISTIE: There’s this post on Hyperallergic which I don’t know what this website is. But it’s about a book that just came out of Mario Del Curto who’s a photographer and basically retraced the steps and took a bunch of photographs at a seed bank founded by Nikolai Vavilov who actually died during World War II. And it has this intersection of several things I like – photography, botany, and seeds and plants and then history. The photos are really cool. They show activity at the seed bank today and it’s great. There’s these cabinets with all these little drawers and they’re all labeled. And the part of my brain that really likes collecting and organizing is so happy. And if you’re one of those kinds of people that like that stuff and really misses card catalogs, you’ll know what I’m talking about with these photos. So, it’s kind of a cool post and then if that’s interesting to you, then you can go check out the book too. The photos are really gorgeous, ones that they’ve included in the post.


CHRISTIE: Okey dokey. There’s one here too of…when I first saw this in a botanical garden, I was just like, “What?” Because when you’re doing seed collection, you often put these little sock things over the plant head, whether that’s to keep pollen off of it or to keep pollen on it or to collect the seeds. And there’s this one photo here of like a whole bunch of things that have all these little socks on them. It’s called Seeds of the Earth: The Vavilov Institute.

I think that’s our show.

AUDREY: All right.

CHRISTIE: We’re going to skip a couple of weeks here in June because the schedule is just really busy, so we won’t do a live podcast next week but we’ll be back the week after that. Thanks, Audrey, for joining. Thanks everyone for listening. We’re going to sign off.

AUDREY: All right. Bye.

CHRISTIE: And that’s a wrap. You’ve been listening to The Recompiler Podcast. You can find this and all previous episodes at recompilermag.com/podcast. There you’ll find links to individual episodes as well as the show notes. You’ll also find links to subscribe to The Recompiler Podcast using iTunes or your favorite podcatcher. If you’re already subscribed via iTunes, please take a moment to leave us a review. It really helps us out. Speaking of which, we love your feedback. What do you like? What do you not like? What do you want to hear more of? Let us know. You can send email feedback to podcast@recompilermag.com or send feedback via Twitter to @RecompilerMag or directly to me, @Christi3k. You can also leave us an audio comment by calling 503 489 9083 and leave in a message.

The Recompiler podcast is a project of Recompiler Media, founded and led by Audrey Eschright and is hosted and produced by yours truly, Christie Koehler. Thanks for listening.