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Southwest Airlines Has Fallen Apart

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Amy Qin, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, and Steve Lohr, reporting for The New York Times:

Thousands of travelers were stranded at U.S. airports on Monday as a wave of canceled flights — many of them operated by Southwest Airlines — spoiled holiday plans and kept families from returning home during one of the busiest and most stressful travel stretches of the year. The cancellations and delays one day after Christmas left people sleeping on airport floors, standing in hourslong customer service lines and waiting on tarmacs for hours on end.

The problems are likely to continue into Tuesday and later this week. As of Monday night, about 2,600 U.S. flights scheduled for Tuesday were already canceled, including 60 percent of all Southwest flights.

Bill Gurley, on Twitter:

The crazy thing about this is that throughout my lifetime, Southwest has been the VERY best airline when it comes to execution. Unquestionably. The leader. Which makes this all the more surprising. Interested to hear how it all happened. Sorry for all those stranded.

I too was surprised to see Southwest handling this so badly. For the last decade or so I’ve mostly flown American, because they have such a dominant position in Philadelphia and I’ve racked up a slew of points and status with them. But before that I flew on Southwest frequently, and was always impressed by their combination of low prices, great execution, and their outstanding, very friendly customer service. One time I missed a flight home to Philly from Chicago, and I expected it would be a hassle — and expensive — to get rebooked. Instead, I was on the phone for no more than five minutes, and they rebooked me on the very next MDW-PHL flight for no charge. I don’t think that would have happened with any other airline. Southwest also has, in my experience, the very best flight attendants in the industry.

From what I’ve gathered, Southwest’s problem this week is a combination of an outdated scheduling system and their generally high efficiency. They keep roughly 90 percent of their planes in service all day every day, but that means when something unexpected happens — like this past week’s weather across the country — the entire system is susceptible to falling apart. They now effectively need to “reboot”, and that might take an entire week. In normal times, Southwest is better than its competitors because they operate differently; now those differences have grounded most of their fleet. They cancelled a staggering 2,600 flights yesterday, 2,400 today, and 2,300 (and counting) for tomorrow. And keep in mind that part of Southwest’s efficiency is that their flights generally fly full — that adds up to over 300,000 stranded passengers per day this week. They expect only to be up to 1,500 flights by Friday — just one third of their usual schedule. Mind boggling chaos.

This is going to be a brutal reputational hit. It’s been a difficult week for all U.S. airlines, but only Southwest has completely fallen apart. Delays are one thing, but being stranded for days on end while other airlines are functioning is hard to forgive.

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satadru
14 days ago
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SWA is the reason we have the brain-dead 737Max and its derivatives. The organization embodies the cost-saving mindset that has destroyed the American commercial airframe industry, and it's hard to feel bad for the company getting its just desserts.
New York, NY
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FTC Chair Lina Khan on the Problems With Noncompetes

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Lina Khan, in an essay for The New York Times:

When you add it up, the evidence to date suggests that noncompetes suppress wages, reduce competition and keep innovative ideas from breaking into the market. One study even found that noncompetes lead to higher prices for consumers by reducing competition in the heavily concentrated health care sector.

I think she makes a compelling case that noncompete agreements reduce competition, and competition is what drives a fair economy.

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satadru
14 days ago
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New York, NY
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Was Salesforce’s Acquisition of Slack a Bust?

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Angus Loten writing for The Wall Street Journal:

When Salesforce Inc. bought the messaging application Slack for $27.7 billion almost two years ago, it said the marriage would “transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world.” Corporate technology buyers so far aren’t impressed, analysts said.

The acquisition sought to capture the fast-growing market for communications and collaboration software during the Covid-19 pandemic, as employers sent workers home and shifted to remote systems.

Today, companies in the market for customer-relationship management software — Salesforce’s signature product — don’t appear to be swayed one way or another by the addition of messaging and collaboration features, said Liz Herbert, a vice president and principal analyst at information-technology research firm Forrester Research Inc.

“We don’t really see, when it comes to Slack, any pent up demand from Salesforce’s base for a tool like that,” Ms. Herbert said. “It really hasn’t become something compelling,” she said.

I’ll go to the mat arguing that Slack is better-designed and better-implemented than Microsoft Teams. But to make a very broad analogy, I think Slack is to Teams today where Mac OS was to Windows in the mid-1990s: better designed, for sure, but not in a way that makes a difference to the corporate IT decision makers and bean counters who are making the call on which platform to use.

The key is not merely to be better, on some vectors. The key is to be better on the vectors that people with purchasing power care about. Missing this has been the death knell for many good products. One difference between the iPhone and Mac is that the iPhone came of age at the cusp of the “bring your own device to work era”, so factors that appealed to individuals (looks cool, fun to use) outweighed factors that might have swayed traditional corporate IT purchasers (low price, “standards”).

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steingart
26 days ago
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Written by someone that hasn't had to use either. Teams is such hot garbage, and slack is actually useful. People choose to use slack, people are forced to use Teams.
Princeton, NJ
satadru
14 days ago
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New York, NY
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The future of ZFS on Ubuntu desktop is not looking good

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Last year, Ubuntu developers pushed to remove Zsys from Ubuntu’s Ubiquity installer. This is an integral tool Ubuntu created to make it easier to manage and maintain ZFS-based installations. In a bug report they bluntly noted that ‘priority changes’ in the desktop team meant Zsys was no longer something they want to “advertise using”.

[…]

As of writing, Zsys remains available in the Ubuntu archives but development of it isn’t looking healthy. Canonical’s contributions effectively fall off a cliff circa April 2021 based on GitHub commits, with only a trivial tweak made in April of last year.

Daily builds for the upcoming Ubuntu 23.04 release come with a brand-new installer that has been built using Flutter to Canonical’s exact needs. But guess what this new Ubuntu installer does not include? An option to install Ubuntu on the ZFS file system.

I thought the Linux world had settled on Btrfs as the “ZFS-like” file system for the platform, and had no idea Canonical had even been working on giving users the option to install to ZFS. With Btrfs already being the default on e.g. Fedora for a while now, it seems that is a better route to go for Ubuntu and other distributions than trying to make ZFS work.

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satadru
14 days ago
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Zsys is dead, but systems which were installed with zfs root using the zsys equipped installer work fine with zsys uninstalled...
New York, NY
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★ App Store Rejection of the Week: Ice Cubes, a Splendid New Mastodon Client

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In the early days of Twitter I wrote a piece titled “Twitter Clients Are a UI Design Playground”. That playground dried up within a few years because Twitter locked the gates. Part of what made Twitter such a great platform for new iPhone clients was the nature of Twitter itself — a timeline of small posts is optimal for consumption on a small screen. But an essential aspect was that Twitter’s APIs were open.

Today, Mastodon’s explosive growth in the face of Twitter’s collapse has made it a new UI playground, especially so on iOS. I’m following — and using — at least half a dozen excellent new iOS Mastodon clients, each of them distinctive.1 Mastodon has that small-nugget timeline nature as Twitter, but is a truly open platform. There are no limits to what developers can choose to do with the Mastodon APIs. There are, however, limits to what iOS developers can deliver to users: App Store review.

Ice Cubes is a very fun new Mastodon client, written in SwiftUI, from Thomas Ricouard. It works great on iPhone and iPad, and while I wouldn’t call it a good Mac client yet, it is surprisingly credible on the Mac for a cross-platform app designed for the iPad. I’d call its Mac status promising. It is open source and has an open TestFlight beta (which is how I’ve been using it).

But in what can only be described as both Kafkaesque and, alas, all-too-familiar — the Ice Cubes 1.0 submission to the App Store has been held up in limbo for an entire week. The hamfisted faceless reviewer(s) looking at Ice Cubes are repeatedly rejecting it for utterly nonsensical reasons, primarily violating guideline 4.2.2, “Minimum Functionality”:

We noticed that your app only includes links, images, or content aggregated from the Internet with limited or no native iOS functionality. Although this content may be curated from the web specifically for your users, since it does not sufficiently differ from a mobile web browsing experience, it is not appropriate for the App Store.

It is now six days — a week! — after that initial rejection and Ricouard is still banging his head against Apple’s orifice. Seven rejections in six days. It’s enough to make one start pricing Pixel phones.

Ice Cubes is not just a Mastodon client. It is a good and rich one, fully embracing iOS’s platform-specific design idioms and features. You can jump on the TestFlight beta and experience it for yourself, but it’s easy to see just from the screenshots. For chrissake just look at the app icon. It is the complete opposite of a thin wrapper around a web app — it is truly native, painstakingly designed, and built using Apple’s avowed framework of the future, SwiftUI. It exemplifies what Apple encourages developers to do, and is exactly the sort of app that makes the iPhone, iPad, and Mac the platforms what they are. Native apps are what make Apple’s platforms stand apart, yet the App Store reviewer(s) repeatedly rejecting Ice Cubes apparently think iOS and Mac users are better off using the same cross-platform web apps available on Android and Windows and Chromebooks.

I don’t generally call for anyone to be fired, but an App Store reviewer who cannot see how Ice Cubes “differ[s] from a mobile web browsing experience” is an embarrassment to the company, and providing fodder for every frustrated developer who thinks Apple has completely lost its way as a company and platform steward that respects the work of independent developers.

iPhone Twitter clients were the shining lights of that design playground a decade ago. The best interfaces to Twitter, on any platforms, were all native apps on the iPhone and Mac. We’re now on the cusp of a new frontier with Mastodon, and it’s Apple’s utterly clueless bureaucratic App Store reviewers who are doing their best to lock the new playground’s gates before they even open.

Postscript: Unsurprisingly, about two hours after I published this, Ice Cubes was approved by the App Store. If you’re using Mastodon, you absolutely should check it out. And if you’re not using Mastodon, you should consider checking that out, too. It’s where the all the good action from Twitter is going.


  1. Alas, there is not a single even tolerable Mac client yet. That’s a dark story unto itself. ↩︎

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satadru
14 days ago
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New York, NY
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Portland Startup to Mine Artisanal Bitcoin Using Only Slide Rules and Graph Paper

jwz
1 Comment and 5 Shares
"Herbal notes."

"We feel that crypto has abandoned the early days of organic blockchain crafting when bored math geeks would mine 10 Bitcoins in an afternoon and then blow it all on IPAs and pizza later that night," said 26-year-old Hash & Moon co-founder Cody Silas.

"Today's Bitcoin investor is savvy and looking for a hand-crafted crypto currency to launder money or pay to have someone eliminated. We are the only hyper-locally sourced, sustainable option for that."

His co-founder Oliver Heath said their approach cuts down the giant carbon footprint of Bitcoin servers with more sustainable ways to play into fashionably legal crypto-Ponzi schemes.

"Dedicated crypto-mining computers use as much electricity in one year as the entire country of Argentina," said Heath. "Our approach gets back to the basics, using bearded mathematicians sitting at a desk cranking out answers to artificial problems, powered 100 percent by avocado toast, ethically sourced kombucha and acai bowls."

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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christophersw
7 days ago
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Baltimore, MD
satadru
14 days ago
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New York, NY
mkalus
35 days ago
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iPhone: 49.287476,-123.142136
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1 public comment
fxer
13 days ago
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Of course Ken Shirriff actually did that

http://www.righto.com/2014/09/mining-bitcoin-with-pencil-and-paper.html?m=1
Bend, Oregon
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