Numlock News: March 4, 2020 • Mario Bros, Wind Energy, iPhone Slowdown
By Walt Hickey
Apple agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle a suit that accused it of deliberately slowing down older iPhones as it introduced new models. The company will pay up to that sum — for comparison, the equivalent of the budget for 1.66 seasons of The Morning Show on Apple TV+ — to avoid costly litigation as part of a class action suit. The preliminary settlement has Apple paying $25 per iPhone, a minimum total payout of $310 million, though Apple still denies wrongdoing and simply wants to avoid litigation costs. The software update deliberately slowed down older phones, which the company said was to preserve the older batteries, but some consumers argue is a clear attempt to push them into buying new iPhones. The $25 per phone is pretty good, according to the lawyers, as damage experts put the maximum possible injury per phone at $46.
The successes of Sonic the Hedgehog and Pokémon Detective Pikachu have suddenly made the on-screen adaptation of popular video games not seem like a financially doomed proposition anymore, and a new poll found that Americans are intrigued by the possibility of similar adaptations. Fully 44 percent of Americans are somewhat or very interested in a new Super Mario Bros film, meaning that I can only assume the other 56 percent of American are aware of the 1993 film and know exactly how bad this can go. I have to say, the poll’s findings are somewhat fascinating in what they’d adapt (Tetris had 28 percent! Tetris!) over other, more plausibly cinematic properties (Halo had 26 percent). Grand Theft Auto got high marks from the 34 percent of people presumably unaware of the role and power of the MPAA, and The Legend of Zelda garnered 31 percent interest among respondents, which I think we can all agree is great news for Timothée Chalamet.
A new report from the National Association of Counties found that 65 percent were logging average connection speeds lower than the FCC definition of broadband. They analyzed the results of 99,000 speed tests from 2,391 counties to determine that many were unable to clear 25 megabits per second of download or 3 mbps of upload. It’s also not just the rural counties one might imagine when thinking about lack of available high-speed internet: in 77 percent of small counties, 51 percent of medium-sized counties and even 19 percent of large counties, average connections were sub-25 mbps. It’s even worse on phones: on the 35,085 cellular connection tests, 76 percent of counties failed to hit broadband. FCC broadband maps are notoriously buggy: if an ISP offers broadband service to one household on a census block, that entire census block is counted as having broadband coverage.
YouTube may not be a violent, radicalizing cesspit but it does contain several violent, radicalizing cesspits, and getting its head around that problem has been a challenge to say the very least. When they remove a video, YouTube will field an appeal, but most of the time those appeals fail. From October 2019 to December 2019, YouTube removed 2 million channels — about 80 percent of them were spam — and a little over 5 million videos. About half of the videos were nuked because they were spam, 15 percent removed over child safety concerns, and 13 percent for nudity. About 60 percent of them were removed before the video collected any views, and the vast majority in general were removed automatically. The chances of getting a video reinstated are definitely lower than the chances a ban’s upheld: of those removals, 109,000 were appealed by the creators. Of those appeals, 23,000 were reinstated.
The global market for “incident and emergency management” was $75.5 billion in 2017, essentially catering to those in weather-vulnerable areas on one end of the spectrum and outright preppers on the other end. But emergency preparedness is a fairly reasonable concern, most of the time, ideally well ahead of the onset of the emergency one is preparing for, not spontaneously raiding the supermarket for milk, eggs and bread and Wet Ones because you realized the only disinfectant in reasonable quantities in your apartment is Evan Williams whiskey. By 2025, that market for emergency prep is set to expand to $423 billion, and you can already see the preparedness kits going mainstream, whether they’re for sale at Costco and Pottery Barn or being hawked by influencers on Instagram. the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for what it’s worth, suggests that Americans should be able to be self-sufficient for three days after a disaster, though 60 percent of Americans have no emergency plans in place. As an Eagle Scout, but more importantly a New York millennial raised on a steady diet of 9/11, Hurricane Sandy and Battlestar Galactica, emergency preparedness is important to me, which is why I keep enough coffee and liquor on hand in my apartment to last an entire college semester.
In February fully 61.2 percent of Germany’s net public electricity generation came from renewable energy sources, with wind energy alone providing almost half the generation in the month. Of the 45.12 terawatt hours generated by the German power sector, 27.63 terawatts came from renewables. That share destroys the record set in March 2019 of 54 percent renewables. Wind specifically accounted for 20.8 terawatts, or 45.8 percent of the overall mix, a decisive beat of the 34.7 percent set last March. On over a dozen days, the renewables accounted for more than 70 percent of the mix.
Even though Americans are eating out more than ever, it’s not always at restaurants. While The NPD Group tracks five kinds of restaurants — fine dining, midscale, casual, retail, and quick service — that last group, fast food, now has 62 percent of the revenue pie, while full service restaurants are seriously struggling. While NPD says restaurants are closing, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says they’re opening, rising from 526,387 locations in 2015 to 568,870 in 2019, a churn many smaller shops — 70 percent of American restaurants are owned by individuals rather than operating companies or investors — are finding difficult to endure. Though the overall tide is projected to rise — the National Restaurant Association projects annual sales will grow to $1.2 trillion by 2030, up from $863 billion last year — only the larger ships seem able to handle it.
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