Newley's Notes

NN 198: Amazing Oregon — Instagram’s War on Likes — ‘Hide the Pain Harold’ Dishes — Dubious Doggos


👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

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🇺🇸 Anasuya and I are back in Delhi after a brief trip over the Diwali break to visit my dad, step-mom and siblings in…scenic Eastern Oregon!

💯 It was a fantastic trip: chilly fall weather, stunning countryside landscapes, and – best of all – time to catch up with family and friends. I’ve been posting some photos on Instagram – I’m @Newley – with more to come.

📍 Let me tell you: going from Delhi (population 20 million or so) to Pendleton, Oregon (population about 16,000) is nothing if not eye-opening, in a good way!

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

⚖️ 1) Facebook Feared WhatsApp Threat Ahead of 2014 Purchase, Documents Show [WSJ]

“In the months before acquiring WhatsApp in 2014, Facebook Inc. executives described the messaging service and others like it as a threat to the company’s core business, offering potential evidence to regulators in the U.S. and Europe that are pursuing antitrust probes into the social-networking company.”

👍 2) Instagram will test hiding likes in the US as soon as next week [The Verge]

“In tests that have rolled out so far, likes are hidden from public posts in the Feed, on the web, and in profiles. However, you should still be able to see how many likes a post gets — it’s only other people that won’t be able to. ”

💽 3) I Got Access to My Secret Consumer Score. Now You Can Get Yours, Too. [New York Times]

“Little-known companies are amassing your data — like food orders and Airbnb messages — and selling the analysis to clients. Here’s how to get a copy of what they have on you.”

🕵️ 4) Inside the Phone Company Secretly Run By Drug Traffickers [Vice]

“All over the world, in Dutch clubs like the one Kok frequented, or Australian biker hangouts and Mexican drug safe houses, there is an underground trade of custom-engineered phones. These phones typically run software for sending encrypted emails or messages, and use their own server infrastructure for routing communications.”

🏦 5) Viral Tweet About Apple Card Leads to Goldman Sachs Probe [Bloomberg News]

“A series of posts from David Heinemeier Hansson starting Thursday railed against the Apple Card for giving him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got.”

📮 6) In France, Elder Care Comes with the Mail [New Yorker]

“Every day except Sunday, postal workers inform the program’s subscribers, through an app, if their elderly relatives are ‘well’: if they require assistance with groceries, home repairs, outings, or ‘other needs.’”

😑 7) Experience: my face became a meme [The Guardian]

“Nine years ago, I did a reverse image search on a photograph of me and was shocked to discover it had become a meme. People online thought my smile, combined with the look in my eyes, seemed terribly sad. They were calling me ‘Hide the Pain Harold.’

🍷 8) Useful infographic: a taste map of different types of wine [Reddit via WineFolly]

🔭 9) Mindblowing interactive: The Size of Space [ Agarwal]

🐾 10) Dog video of the week: Human what’s happening here. [Reddit/aww]

💡 Quote of the week:

“For writers it is always said that the first twenty years of life contain the whole of experience – the rest is observation.” – Graham Greene

What’s new with you? Hit reply to share your news or just say hi.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley's Notes

NN197: Google Buys Fitbit – WhatsApp Attack – Accent Explainer – Conan’s Presser

2019 11 05abstract

Photo by Jared Verdi on Unsplash

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

⌚ 1) Google to Buy Fitbit, Amping Up Wearables Race [WSJ]

“Google reached a deal to buy wearable fitness products company Fitbit Inc. for roughly $2.1 billion, a move that intensifies the battle among technology giants to capture consumers through devices other than smartphones.”

🇮🇳 2) Indian Activists Targeted in Alleged WhatsApp Attack Demand Answers [WSJ]

“‘It makes me wonder whether our very own government was behind it,’ said Degree Prasad Chauhan, an activist who has worked alongside Ms. Gera and was also informed that he was targeted.”

📹 3) Emotion recognition is China’s new surveillance craze [Financial Times]

“The technology, which is being rolled out at airports and subway stations to identify criminal suspects, is the latest development in crime prediction systems in the world’s largest surveillance market, which already relies on facial and gait recognition, eye tracking and crowd analysis.”

🔍 4) U.S. opens national security investigation into TikTok [Reuters]

“The U.S. government has launched a national security review of TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co’s $1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media app, according to three people familiar with the matter.”

🏠 5) I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb [Vice]

“While searching for the person who grifted me in Chicago, I discovered just how easy it is for users of the short-term rental platform to get exploited.”

🥫 6) The first map of America’s food supply chain is mind-boggling [Fast Company]

“Our map is a comprehensive snapshot of all food flows between counties in the U.S.—grains, fruits and vegetables, animal feed, and processed food items.”

🌊 7) Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows [New York Times]

“The new research shows that some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by midcentury. Southern Vietnam could all but disappear.”

🗣️ 8) Video: Accent Expert Explains How to Tell Accents Apart [YouTube]

“Have you ever had a hard time telling the difference between an Aussie and a Kiwi accent? Dialect coach Erik Singer breaks down the subtle differences between a few commonly confused regional accents. ”

🌌 9) Photo: The Milky Way Reflected in the World’s Largest Mirror []

“I love this photograph by Peruvian photographer Jheison Huerta. It’s a shot of the Milky Way above the Salar de Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia.”

🎤 10) Conan the hero dog holds a press conference on ‘SNL’ [CNN]

“Conan, the dog who chased down the leader of ISIS, got his own press conference on this week’s episode of ”Saturday Night Live."

💡 Quote of the week:

“No man can ever be secure until he has been forsaken by Fortune.” – Boethius

What’s new with you? Hit reply to share your news or just say hi.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley's Notes

NN196: Zuckerberg in DC; TikTok Clubs; Kindle Hacking; Doggo Lifeguards


Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

⚖️ 1) Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Rebuffs Calls for Tighter Controls, Saying Free Speech Must Be Preserved [WSJ]

"In a rare policy speech that will likely stir further debate over his company’s role in politics and global social movements, Mr. Zuckerberg said he worries that “increasingly today across the spectrum, it seems like there are more people who prioritize getting the political outcomes that they want over making sure that everyone can be heard.”

Bonus take: Mark Zuckerberg Still Doesn’t Get It [New Yorker]

👩‍🎓 2) Student tracking, secret scores: How college admissions offices rank prospects before they apply [Washington Post)]

“When one student visited the site last year, the software automatically recognized who she was based on a piece of code, called a cookie, which it had placed on her computer during a prior visit. The software sent an alert to the school’s assistant director of admissions containing the student’s name, contact information and details about her life and activities on the site…”

👂 3) Google chief: I’d disclose smart speakers before guests enter my home [BBC News]

“‘Does the owner of a home need to disclose to a guest? I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.’”

🕺 4) High Schools to TikTok: We’re Catching Feelings [New York Times]

“The embrace of the app at this school is mirrored on scattered campuses across the United States, where students are forming TikTok clubs to dance, sing and perform skits for the app — essentially drama clubs for the digital age, but with the potential to reach huge audiences. ”

🔧 5) Kindle Hackers Are Disabling Tracking and Ads [Medium/OneZero]

“A community of amateur and seasoned hackers have figured out how to tinker with Kindles to make the experience a little more ‘theirs,’’ reconfiguring them with unapproved fonts and bypassing the ads Amazon injects into cheaper versions of the e-reader.”

⚠️ 6) Unprecedented movement detected on California earthquake fault capable of 8.0 temblor [Los Angeles Times]

“A major California fault capable of producing a magnitude 8 earthquake has begun moving for the first time on record, a result of this year’s Ridgecrest earthquake sequence destabilizing nearby faults, Caltech scientists say in a new study released in the journal Science on Thursday.”

📱 7) Using Old Cellphones to Listen for Illegal Loggers [New York Times]

“Used cellphones, powered by solar panels, upload audio data. It is analyzed in real time by artificial-intelligence software capable of distinguishing the sounds of chain saws, logging trucks and other telltale audio signatures of illegal activity. The software then sends rangers instant alerts…”

🧘‍♂️ 8) Are the Tech Bros Who ‘Dopamine Fast’ Full of Sh-t? [Mel Magazine]

“A typical dopamine fast involves abstaining from electronic devices, the internet, books and magazines, sex and masturbation, food, music, podcasts and all other stimulants. For seriously committed fasters like Sinka, it also includes drastically minimizing conversation and interaction with other people. ”

📸 9) Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards showcase remarkable animal drama [CNet]

“Chinese photographer Yongqing Bao has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 title for The Moment, a photo showing a Tibetan fox apparently about to lunge at a startled, marmot that seems almost human.”

🆘 10) Man pretends to drown to see if his dog would save him [Reddit/r/videos]

📖 Book I’m Currently Reading

Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman.

💡 Quote of the week:

“The reader lives faster than life, the writer lives slower.” – James Richardson

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley's Notes

NN195: Apple/Google/NBA Hong Kong Blowback; Instagram Sleuthing; Mac Protips; Adorable Golden Retrievers

2019 10 16horizon

Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

🇭🇰 In last week’s missive I mentioned the escalating unrest in Hong Kong. That has continued, but there’s been a new twist: U.S. companies are getting drawn into the protests. Read on for more.

Other tech-related stories in this week’s NN: Facebook, Trump, and that Biden ad; a New Yorker longread on Amazon by Charles Duhigg; power-tips for Mac users, and more.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

⚠️ 1) Shot: Apple, Google Pull Hong Kong Protest Apps Amid China Uproar [WSJ]

“The swift removal of these apps will likely help lower the two tech giants’ risk of running afoul of the Chinese government and upsetting consumers in the country. But it leaves the companies open to criticism outside of mainland China that they are siding with Beijing in the contentious debate over Hong Kong’s future.”

🏀 2) Chaser: The Houston Rockets Were China’s Team. Then a Hong Kong Tweet Happened [WSJ]

“The impact from a tweet by Houston general manager Daryl Morey in support of antigovernment protesters in Hong Kong quickly spread to the NBA as a whole.”

🗣️ 3) Facebook’s Hands-Off Approach to Political Speech Gets Impeachment Test [New York Times]

Saying a Trump video ad "made false accusations, CNN immediately refused to air the advertisement. But Facebook did not, and on Tuesday, the social network rejected a request from Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign to take it down, foreshadowing a continuing fight over misinformation on the service during the 2020 election as well as the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

🔮 4) Tech-related longread of the week, by Charles Duhigg: Is Amazon Unstoppable? [New Yorker]

“Politicians want to rein in the retail giant. But Jeff Bezos, the master of cutthroat capitalism, is ready to fight back.”

🧰 5) Master your Mac with these 18 power tips [Fast Company]

“The trusty macOS you use every day hides powerful features – some old, some brand-new – that can make your experience more productive and enjoyable. ”

🕵️‍♀️ 6) Coleen Rooney accuses Rebekah Vardy of leaking stories to Sun [The Guardian]

“Coleen Rooney has claimed to have caught another footballer’s wife passing her private information to the Sun, after apparently running an elaborate sting operation that involved placing false stories in the tabloid newspaper.”

⏱️ 7) Eliud Kipchoge Dashes Past 2-Hour Marathon Barrier In Assisted Event [NPR]

“Three-time Olympic medalist Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours, clocking in at 1:59:40 as he passed the finish line Saturday morning in Vienna, Austria.”

🇮🇳 8) Rana Dasgupta: The Best New Indian Novels [Five Books]

“Right now, extremely interesting things are happening in Indian literature…Today, English-language publishing is seeking a much greater diversity of voices.”

🗡️ 9) Japan ninja student gets top marks for writing essay in invisible ink [BBC]

“Eimi Haga followed the ninja technique of ‘aburidashi’, spending hours soaking and crushing soybeans to make the ink. The words appeared when her professor heated the paper over his gas stove.”

😍 10) Dog’s reaction to a new puppy [Reddit/aww]

📖 Book I’m Currently Reading

Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman. I am familiar with many of the concepts he writes about, having heard so much about this book over the years, but have never delved into it – until now!

💡 Quote of the week:

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius


"What’s happening in Ecuador is not the fault of Maduro…I don’t move my mustache and topple governments. I’m not Super Mustache…” – Nicolás Maduro

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley's Notes

NN 194: Hong Kong Unrest; Leaked Zuckerberg Audio; Boris: SEO Guru?; Dog Joins Sax Solo

2019 10 07hongkong

Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

🇭🇰 A big story this week: After several months of protests in Hong Kong, the unrest is escalating.

Here’s what’s up:

😷 As my WSJ colleagues report, the government on Friday enacted British colonial-era emergency measures – for the first time in 52 years – to try to prevent protesters from wearing masks (allowing them to conceal their identities).

That evening demonstrators once again:

After the law was announced, lawlessness returned in many districts around the city as clashes broke out between police and protesters. Demonstrators set fires outside subway entrances and vandalized Chinese banks, while police fired volleys of tear gas in several areas.

The city’s subway operator, MTR Corp. , in explaining the shutdown, cited destruction and arson in multiple stations and said some of its staff had been injured. A 14-year-old boy was shot in the leg by police in the northern district of Yuen Long, local media reported.

The demonstrations continued over the weekend, with the subway, banks, shopping malls and stores closed.

For a big picture look at why this all matters – apart from the human toll, of course – I suggest this WSJ story: For China’s Xi, the Hong Kong Crisis Is Personal.

The unrest has divided Hong Kong’s seven million people and undermined its role as a politically stable international financial center and conduit for capital in and out of China. It has damaged the “one country, two systems” formula that allowed the city to retain many freedoms after Chinese rule was restored in 1997."

What comes next? Watch this space…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🗣️ 1) All Hands on Deck [The Verge]

“In two hours of leaked audio, Mark Zuckerberg rallies Facebook employees against critics, competitors, and the US government.”

Here’s the full transcript.

💻 2) Microsoft debuts latest Surfaces, previews dual-screen models [Axios]

“Microsoft updated its Surface laptops and 2-in–1 tablet/laptop hybrid devices on Wednesday, while also previewing two foldable dual-screen devices due out next year.”

💰 3) Shot: TikTok’s owner had $7 billion in revenue for the first half of the year [CNBC/Reuters]

“ByteDance, which was loss-making in the first-half, also posted a profit in June and was confident of making a profit in the second half of the year…”

🇨🇳 4) Chaser: “This is peak China 2019” [Twitter: @mbrennanchina]

“Eating crabs ordered on your phone and delivered to your door in half an hour while scrolling through TikTok videos using the inbuilt gesture control on a Huawei phone.”

🖐️ 5) Ready, text, go: typing speeds on mobiles rival keyboard users [The Guardian]

"People who tapped out messages with a single finger managed on average only 29 words per minute (wpm), but those who mastered the two-thumb technique hit a blistering 38wpm, only 25% slower than an average typer on a full-sized Qwerty keyboard.

🤔 6) Is Boris Johnson really trying to game Google search results? [Wired]

“One theory is that Johnson is trying to downplay negative news coverage of events by seeding news stories into Google search results by using similar phrases and key terms that are more positive.”

🗳️ 7) How A Big Enough News Story — Like Impeachment — Could Warp The Polls [FiveThirtyEight]

“If partisans on one side of a political question respond to a survey more readily than partisans on the other side, you can get a polling error. ”

🌆 8) Video: Airview of color Beijing, 1949, by USSR journalist… [Twitter: @Tongbingxue]

💯 9) Gary Laderman, religion professor at my alma mater, Emory University: Why I’m Easy: On Giving Lots of A’s [Chronicle of Higher Education] (Thanks, Miles!)

“The best compliment I have ever received was from a pre-business Korean student who somehow managed to take three of my courses. I asked for an honest take on my reputation, and he told me: ‘Your classes are the easiest, but I also learn the most.’

🐕 🎷10) Video: dog sings along with saxophonist. [Facebook/Gloria Jurado]

“Las maravillas de la música y nuestro mejor amigo.” (“The wonders of music and our best friend.”)

📖 Book I’m Currently Reading

The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age,” by James Crabtree. Almost finished. Savoring every page. This will be on my list of must-read India books for sure when folks ask for recommendations.

💡 Quote of the week:

“Truth – more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality – is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.” – Ray Dalio

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,