One Infinite Return Loop

This post is by M.G. Siegler from 500ish - Medium

The return policy for new Apple Watch bands is just loopy

Last week, following the Apple Watch event, I grabbed my iPad to order a new Series 6. Is it a no-brainer buy? It doesn’t seem like it if you have a Series 5, but Apple does allow you to trade in that device at a relatively high value. And they have a new 0% interest mechanism to finance the Watch on a monthly basis if you have an Apple Card. Look, these are the excuses I use to justify my hopeless addiction. Moving on…

I thought it would be a pretty straight-forward process to buy the Watch. Because it has been in the past. At the same time, the process has also been getting more complicated over time, as more options have been added. Size. Material. Finish. Color. Cellular. Bands. The paradox of choice is definitely coming into play. So I used another forcing function: which version would ship to me the fastest?

Admittedly, this is probably not the best way to pick a fashion accessory you’re going to wear every day. But again, it’s an addiction. Get new Apple thing and get it as quickly as possible. Rinse. Repeat.

There I was, going through the ordering flow, when it hit me. Specifically, nine options hit me right in the face, in terms of band sizes for one of the new Loop options. Behold: a new level of complexity.

Obviously, I had absolutely no idea what size I was for the Loop. Apple has a measure you can print out to give you a sense. But this is 2020 not 2002; my printer is just this side of non-existent.¹ I do have one, but by the time I went downstairs to turn it out, connect to it, and print out this tool, I would be the fool sitting there with a November ship date.

Thinking on my feet, I quickly pivoted to a different type of band. One of the tried and true ones that I knew would fit. I definitely want one of the new Loops, but I figured it would be better to get one when I can figure out the correct size in an Apple Store — if and when we can ever go to Apple Stores again — and not give my neurosis the pleasure of agonizing over the concern that I picked the wrong size.

Anyway, this was a very smart non-decision decision as it turns out. Because as Juli Clover points out today, those people who chose the wrong Loop size with their brand new Apple Watch and wish to replace it have to… send back their entire Apple Watch and get a new one. This is for serious. And it is insane.

Yes, we get it. Apple sells the Watch pre-packaged with certain models and bands tied together. So they’d like you to return them together as well. One SKU out, one SKU back in. But not only is this not customer-friendly, it’s arguably hostile to your best customers. Those who are buying on day one in a hurry. Like me. And others.

It’s wild that Apple didn’t think through this scenario. They were going to be offering the most complicated decision yet with the Watch — because if you choose the wrong Loop size, the device won’t fit, and if it doesn’t fit, or is even just too loose, many of the features don’t work well. You know, like the blood oxygen reader. The core new feature of the device.

Customers need to get the sizing right. And Apple just created a whole new complication when it comes to getting that sizing right. And they did so in the middle of a pandemic which is keeping people out of stores. So… you better hope you have a printer and that the measure you print is accurate. Also that you have the time to print out a measure. Which you don’t if you want your Apple Watch this year.

Apple, don’t be loopholes. Allow people — your most fervent fans, who buy your products on day one, no less — to return their new Loops that don’t fit for another. Better still: ship them a better size immediately if they say the one they picked doesn’t fit and let them return the other later. Or, if you must, ship them a back-up band — the standard one is fine — until such a time that you can meet new Loop demand.

This is all obvious customer service stuff. It’s not what’s best for the bottom line, of course. But ultimately, it may be if it means pissing off one less customer who really wanted a new Watch on day one and because of our current crazy world, bought one that doesn’t fit, and now much ship back the entire thing to be replaced months in the future.

No, I can’t believe I wrote 800 words about this either.

¹ I mean, how on Earth did Apple not do an AR experience to help you measure? Apple even has a whole measurement app for this built into iOS! I’m sure it’s not easy to do on your wrist, but come on: printing something out?!

One Infinite Return Loop was originally published in 500ish on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Venture Capital Chairman Conned Investors Says Acting US Attorney – Lawfuel

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Venture Capital Chairman Conned Investors Says Acting US Attorney  Lawfuel


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

September is almost over. Two hundred and five days have passed since I started isolating during this pandemic. As someone who loves traveling, it has been challenging to stay in place. Six months later, I have begun to feel comfortable with the idea of not going anywhere. 

It has allowed me to read and explore new topics — from climate change to the science of materials to the future of food. The time saved from not being in motion allowed me to connect with some smart brains rethinking our future and what we need to do to live with all the swamping changes. 

Maybe that is why I am a little less interested in the political drama around TikTok — which feels like a reality TV show at times. The wall to wall coverage of such issues is distracting us from the real problems we face as a society. While the media has always been attracting attention, it has now become the hunger games of eyeballs. The manufactured outraged and narrative-driven coverage is nothing more than taking toying with attention for the sake of profits.

The New York Times (which is as hypocritical as every other media entity) recently wrote about Jeff Zucker, head of CNN, who has cynically used Donald Trump to boost his network ratings. You read the story, and you come to a conclusion — for the media establishment, it is all one big reality show. Every bit of news and non-news is atomized to the point that it takes more time to comprehend a story than it takes to churn it out. 

The pandemic and pandemic politics have only revealed that we live in an information environment that is often dehumanizing and devoid of values. Anger, fear, and divisiveness have become the common themes in the words and images that flow into the stream of our lives. The best thing to do is to restrict your news consumption to a handful of publications. I have written about this in the past, and you can read it here. And get off the social platforms — they don’t deserve the importance we accord them. 

September 21, 2020. San Francisco

Exposing Your Face Isn’t More Hygienic Way to Pay

This post is by Jon Callas from Deeplinks

A company called PopID has created an identity-management system that uses face recognition. Their first use case is as a system for in-store, point of sale payments using face recognition as authorization for payment.

They are promoting it as a tool for restaurants, claiming that it is pandemic-friendly because it is contactless.

Nonetheless, the PopID payment system is less secure than alternatives, unfriendly to privacy, and is likely riskier than other payment alternatives for anyone concerned about catching COVID-19. On top of these issues, PopID is pitching it as a screening tool for COVID-19 infection, another task that it’s completely unsuited for.

Equities issues

It’s important that payment systems not disadvantage cash payments, which have the best social equity. Many people are under-banked and in hard times such as these, many people use cash as a way to help them manage their budgets and spending. Cash is also the most privacy-friendly way to pay. As convenient as other systems are, and despite cash not being contactless, we need to protect people’s ability to use cash1.

PopID is a charge-up-and-spend system. To lower their costs, PopID has its users charge up an account wn ith them using a credit card or debit card, and payments are deducted from that. Charge-and-spend systems are good for the store, and less good for the person using them; they amount to an interest-free loan that the consumer gives the merchant. This is no small thing: Starbucks, PayPal, and Walmart all have billions in interest-free loans from their customers. This further disadvantages people with budgets, as it requires them to give PopID money before it is spent and keep a balance in their system in anticipation of spending it.

PopID also requires their customers to have a smartphone for enrollment-by-selfie, which disadvantages those who don’t have one.

To be fair, these issues are largely fixable. PopID could allow someone to enroll without a phone at any payment station. They could allow charge-up with cash, and they could allow direct charge2. But for now, the company does not offer these easy solutions.

Fitness to task

Looking beyond its potentially fixable perpetuation of systematic inequalities, it’s important that a system actually do what it’s intended to do. PopID is pitching it as a pandemic-friendly system, providing both contactless payments and as a COVID-19 screening device, using the camera as a temperature sensor. Neither of these is a good idea.

Temperature scanning with commodity cameras won’t work

PopID promotes their system as a temperature scanning device for employees and customers alike. Temperature screening itself has limited benefit, as around half the people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

Moreover, accurate temperature screening is expensive and hard. PopID is not the only organization to promote cheap face recognition with COVID-19 screening as the excuse. In reality, the cheap camera in a point-of-sale terminal is both inaccurate and intrusive as Jay Stanley of the ACLU describes in detail.

There’s a wide range in the accuracy of temperature-scanning cameras, in normal human body temperature across a population, and even an individual’s temperature based on time of day and their physical activities. Even the best cameras are finicky, not working accurately if people are wearing hats, glasses, or masks, and require the camera to view only one subject at a time.

Speeding up a sandwich shop line does help prevent COVID-19, because we know that spending too much time too close to other people is the primary mode of transmission. But, temperature scanning along with payment doesn’t help people space themselves out or have shorter contact.

Face recognition raises COVID-19 risks

PopID pitches their system as good during the pandemic because it is contactless. Yet it is worse than payment alternatives.

PopID’s web site shows a picture of a payment terminal, with options to use contactless payment systems such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. Presumably, any contactless credit card could be used. Additionally, a barcode system like the one Starbucks uses is contactless.

PopID point-of-sale terminal

PopID’s point of sale terminal

Any of these contactless payment alternatives are much better than PopID from a public health standpoint because they don’t require someone to remove their mask. The LA Times article comments parenthetically, “(The software struggles at recognizing faces with masks.)”

Indeed, any contactless payment system has less contact than using cash, yet even cash is low-risk. Almost all COVID-19 transmission is through breathing in virus particles in droplets or aerosols, not from fomites that we touch. Moreover, cash is easy to wash in soapy water.

This is a big deal for a supposedly pandemic-friendly system. The most recent restaurant-based superspreading event in the news is particularly relevant. A person in South Korea sat for two hours in a coffee shop under the air conditioning, and spread the disease to twenty-seven other people, who in turn spread it to twenty-nine other people, for a total of fifty-six people. And yet, none of the mask-wearing employees got the virus.

This is particularly relevant to PopID; a contactless system that makes someone take off a mask endangers the other customers. Ironically, if a customer sees a store using PopID, they better be wearing a mask because PopID is requiring them to come off momentarily. Or they could just shop somewhere else.


PopID brings in new security risks that do not exist in other systems. They have the user’s payment information (for charging up the payment store), their phone number (it’s part of registration), name, and of course the selfie that’s used for face recognition. There’s no reason to suppose they’re any worse than the cloud services that inevitably lose people information, but no reason to think they’re better. Thus, we should assume that eventually a hacker’s going to get all that information.

However, being a payment system, there is the obvious additional risk of fraud. PopID says, “Your Face now becomes your singular, ultra-secure ‘digital token’ across all PopID transactions and devices,” yet that can’t possibly be so.

Face recognition systems are well-known to be inaccurate as NIST recently showed, particularly with Black, Indigenous, Asian and other People of Color, women, and also Trans or nonbinary people. False positives are common and in a payment system, a false positive means a false charge. PopID says they will confirm any match through the verification process of asking someone their name. To be fair, this is not a bad secondary check but is hardly “ultra-secure.” Moreover, it requires every PopID customer to tell the whole store their name (or use a PopID pseudonym).

Lastly, PopID doesn’t say how they’ll permit someone to dispute charges, an important factor since the credit card industry is regulated with excellent consumer protection. In the event of fraud, it’s much easier to be issued a new credit card than a new face.

The end result is that PopID’s pay-by-face is less secure than using a contactless card, and less secure than cash.


PopID is an incipient privacy nightmare. The obvious privacy issues of an unregulated payment system that knows where your face has been is only the start of the problem. The LA Times writes:

But [CEO of PopID, John] Miller’s vision for a face-based network goes beyond paying for lunch or checking in to work. After users register for the service, he wants to build a world where they can “use it for everything: at work in the morning to unlock the door, at a restaurant to pay for tacos, then use it to sign in at the gym, for your ticket at the Lakers game that night, and even use it to authenticate your age to buy beers after.”

“You can imagine lots of things that you can do when you have a big database of faces that people trust,” Miller said.

Nothing more needs to be said. PopID as a payment system is a stalking horse for a face-surveillance panopticon and salable database of trusted faces.


PopID is less secure and less private than alternative forms of payment, contactless or not. It brings with it a lot of social equity issues that negatively impact marginalized communities. Moreover, any store using PopID and thus requiring other people to remove their masks to pay is exposing you to COVID-19 that you would not otherwise be exposed to.

Most alarmingly, it is also an insecure for-profit surveillance system building a database of you, your face, your purchases, your movements, and your habits.

  1. This is a complex issue in that we all intuitively think of money as dirty, and in pandemic times, this is even more on everyone’s mind. However, the evidence at this writing (September, 2020) is that exposure through touch is possible but not common, while transmission through breath is the way almost all transmission occurs. ↩︎

  2. Yes, these potential fixes are in tension with each other. If someone using the system wants to be cash-only, they’re going to have to have a pre-paid balance in the system. In the other direction, direct-charge system has higher costs to PopID, but that’s their business issue, and not the customer’s. ↩︎

Trump Puts TikTok Deal in Doubt: The Information’s Tech Briefing

This post is by The Information Staff from The Information

It’s rare to see M&A end up in complete confusion, as the TikTok deal now seems to be, but then again, it’s rare for M&A to be driven by President Trump. His comments to Fox News Monday morning that TikTok would be “totally controlled by Oracle…and if we find that they don’t have total control then we’re not going to approve the deal” suggests that Trump hasn’t been, um, paying attention to the details. 

Oracle is buying just 12.5% of TikTok, and as we noted on Sunday, the biggest shareholder in TikTok Global once it is separated from ByteDance now looks likely to be Zhang Yiming, the CEO of ByteDance. So not only does it not look like Oracle will have “total control,” it seems it won’t have any control. Chances are, the current CEO will continue to run things. 

ALSA Ventures Closes US$59 Million European Biotech Venture Capital Fund – Mirage News

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ALSA Ventures Closes US$59 Million European Biotech Venture Capital Fund  Mirage News

After bagging $20 million in February, this is what Bruce Stronge has learnt about raising venture capital –

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After bagging $20 million in February, this is what Bruce Stronge has learnt about raising venture capital

China-focused Northern Light Looks to Raise $375m for New VC Fund – Caixin Global

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China-focused Northern Light Looks to Raise $375m for New VC Fund  Caixin Global

Adding streaming to a 4K projector

This post is by rich from Tong Family

Today just about all television have a smart client that is typically Android based, this makes it easy to get the big streaming services without having to add any more boxes. But if you bought a projector that’s barebones many of these do not have anything like that mainly for cost reasons so all you get is some video inputs (typically HDMI. So you need something to handle streaming and input. Here are some good choices:

Use your laptop

Well the simplest thing to do is to find an HDMI cable and hook it up to your laptop. The main problem here is convenience, you have to plug your laptop in somehow and then you don’t want to leave it there.

Get a streaming box

The nvidia shield is nice if you also have streaming content and supports 4K. There are Two choices. If dont play games the smaller one is fine.

This basically adds a “TV tuner” to your projector. They basically have an HDMI port on one end and then a WiFi connection and some sort of remote control (typically with a tiny remote). There are 3-4 choices here for a minimal box that doesn’t take up much space particularly in a small apartment. Ideally you want something that just sits on the same table as your mini projector and is dedicated and assuming you want the usual suspects of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ all in 4K:

1. nVidia Shield. This is probably the best of the bunch as it has a real processor and runs Android. It also has 4K, HDR and all the other goodies. It is reasonably small particularly their “Shield TV” version. It does run Kodi which is nice if you want to stream content from your laptop easily. And supports Androidcasting. Most folks won’t want the nVidia Shield Pro, so get the Shield TV which is just the tuner. The main limit here of course is that you don’t get Apple+ if you want that content.

2. Apple TV 2020. I would wait for a tick on this one. They have a 4K version now is great. And with HDR etc. but v6 is out soon and will hopefully be cheaper than $199 or have a really fast processor for games. It definitely the best user experience and AirPlay 2 is great. Get a HomePod or two for speakers for real convenience in the Apple ecosystem. It has all the usual streaming partners and Apple+. You don’t get Kodi for instance, so don’t use this if you have local content,.

3. Roku Stick Plus. The roku is cheap and a decent value for 4K and HDR but it doesn’t have Dolby Vision. So it’s the budget choice although the user interface is a bit clunky. And it even has Apple TV. You could also get the Amazon Fire if you like but it has an even more confusing interface and of course is biased towards Amazon content.

4. If you are a real gamer, the other choice is the xBox Series X which is coming out now. It is way bigger, but has 4K gaming and of course all the streaming options (except Apple)

The post Adding streaming to a 4K projector appeared first on Tong Family.

Company Profile for Finch Capital – Business Wire

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Company Profile for Finch Capital  Business Wire

Finch Capital’s Report: State of European FinTech 6 Months Post Lock Down: Stable Today but Prepare for 2021 Fall Out – Business Wire

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Finch Capital’s Report: State of European FinTech 6 Months Post Lock Down: Stable Today but Prepare for 2021 Fall Out  Business Wire

Downing Venture Capital Head Cops To $8M Ponzi Scheme – Law360

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Downing Venture Capital Head Cops To $8M Ponzi Scheme  Law360

Managing an internal Network 2002

This post is by rich from Tong Family

Well, it does seem like a network at home has gotten really complicated. Our house has over 30 different IP devices alone and trying to manage all of them is definitely not easy. Here are some notes:

  1. Moving to Power over Ethernet using 802.11af. Lots of new devices support it, in particular the Unifi collection of devices. This is really convenient because you don’t need to find power for things like access points or cameras or just about anything that just needs 5V. In fact, you can even buy an POE convertor that gives 5V USB from the 48V POE which is great for lots of small devices and even supports USB C. The voltage is limited at 10W, but it’s very handy.
  2. Unifi POE 24/48 250/750W Switch. If you are going Unifi, then they now have a managed switch that you can use with Dream Machine. That is really convenient. One of the nice things about using Unifi is that if you have an old 24V old style AP, it actually will supply that power as well as the standard 48V power. Also the amount of power have been changing from POE to POE+ to POE++. POE or 802.3af was 48V with 13W to the client and done in 2003, 802.3at in 2009 raised that to POE+ at 25W at 48V. Finally in 2018 to 51-71W to the device. At that level, you can power a laptop from POE! That’s one reason why the latest switches are rated up to 750W in drawn power across 48 ports.
  3. Link Aggregation Protocol or Channel Bonding. We use a 10-year old Netgear 48 port POE but while hard to setup it’s becoming really important as devices like 802.11ac Wave 2 allows over 1Gbps Wifi and Synology support 2Gbps over two Ethernet ports. Finally someday, with Docsis 3.1, you can have more than 1Gb Internet. But making this work isn’t easy. You have to configure your switch and tell it which two ports to bond together. Then in the server, like Synology, you go to Control Panel/Network and turn on Channel Bonding using 802.11ad to control it. The benefit is that at the end, you can two different clients going to a single server. Each sees only 1Gb, but the server can handle 2Gbps.
  4. Move to 2.5Gbe over Cat 5e, 5Gbe over Cat 6 with Unifi XG6 POE. Probably the coolest thing thought is that with the new 802.3bz, you can now use the existing Cat 5e in most houses and run it at 2.5Gb. Then if you have a local room, then use Cat 6a to get 10Gb or Cat 6 for 5Gb. This is going to be really great for video and other processing. Of course this means you have to upgrade your clients to support it. MacBook’s don’t have this, but if you have a PC or a Mac Pro, then you (Anandtech) get a special switch like the Buffalo LXW 10G2/2G4 that has two 10Gb and four 2.5Gb ports. And then you need a motherboard with 2.5G/10G capability and either Cat 5 or Cat 6a

The post Managing an internal Network 2002 appeared first on Tong Family.

Numerous Indian-Origin Students Selected in HBS’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, Rock Executive Fellows, and Venture Capital Partners – India New England

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Numerous Indian-Origin Students Selected in HBS’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, Rock Executive Fellows, and Venture Capital Partners  India New England

Trump’s TikTok Deal Is Still an Unresolved Mess

This post is by Louise Matsakis from Feed: All Latest

The president’s ban on WeChat has also hit a roadblock.

Who Agrees with Apple?

This post is by Keith Teare from Stories by Keith Teare on Medium

Israeli Pain Monitoring Startup Medasense Raises $18M in Series C Round – PRNewswire

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Israeli Pain Monitoring Startup Medasense Raises $18M in Series C Round  PRNewswire

Daily Crunch: This TikTok deal is pretty confusing – TechCrunch

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Daily Crunch: This TikTok deal is pretty confusing  TechCrunch

How to Watch Tesla’s Battery Day Event—and What to Expect

This post is by Daniel Oberhaus from Feed: All Latest

After months of delays, Tesla’s much-hyped Battery Day is finally upon us. Here’s what the company might reveal.

Orlando investors fund startups and raise money after pandemic slowdown – Orlando Business Journal

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Orlando investors fund startups and raise money after pandemic slowdown  Orlando Business Journal