Archive for January 8, 2022

Saturday, January 8, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Why “utf8” in MySQL Is Not UTF-8

Florian Köhler (via Ken Harris):

For whatever reason, a few months later, in September 2002, a MySQL developer decided to push a one-byte commit UTF8 now works with up to 3 byte sequences only to the repository and change the allowed bytes from six to three.

Since then, the character set called utf8 has been a crippled and proprietary variation as it neither conforms to the old nor the new definition (RFC 3629) of UTF-8. The misleading name still causes issues today.


To remediate this mistake MySQL added the utf8mb4 charset in version 5.5.3. utf8mb4 fully implements the current standard. Now utf8 is an alias for utf8mb3 and will be switched to utf8mb4.

Update (2022-01-13): See also: Hacker News.

Programmatic Podcast Ads

Ashley Carman:

All the industry’s major players have, over the past two years, acquired companies focused on one feature: inserting ads into podcasts.


The industry is sprinting toward this programmatic advertising future. However, there are some obstacles along the way, and podcasters are already running into them. The Verge has identified multiple examples of programmatic advertising going wrong, according to sources who asked to remain anonymous over concerns of fraying industry relationships. Ads are showing up in places they shouldn’t, signaling not so much a death knell for the effort, but more of a warning that if the trend continues, early trust between podcast networks and tech companies could fall apart.


Prior to this programmatic movement, most podcasters and their sales teams peddled host-read ads baked into a show, meaning they were read, included, and never taken out of an episode. That changed with dynamic ad insertion, which still could work as a host-read ad, but instead of living in a show forever, the ads switched out, hence the “dynamic” wording. Then came programmatic, which relies on dynamic ad insertion with an automated twist. The big idea is advertisers can buy a number of impressions targeting a certain audience, and the ad serving technology will automatically carry out the order across shows and networks, finding the best audience for that marketing at the best price.

Via Marco Arment:

Old-fashioned podcast ads (baked-in host reads) have had better CPMs, stronger response rates, and higher audience trust than almost any other form of advertising for over a decade.

And large podcast companies threw that world away for… a worse outcome.

John Gruber (tweet):

Even when the “right” ads are dynamically inserted, the ads are inevitably going to be bad. We know how this story ends because we all use the web and can see with our own eyes the quality (and oppressive quantity) of “ad tech” advertising.


“The ads are part of the product” succinctly sums up my thinking, and saves me from writing an extended rant.


But without a model for advertising in RSS, most websites — particularly big websites from established media companies — stopped publishing RSS feeds. Podcasts avoided that fate because the sponsorship model, typically with hosts reading the ads, took root across the entire field.


Norton 360 Now Comes With a Cryptominer

Brian Krebs (Hacker News):

Norton 360, one of the most popular antivirus products on the market today, has installed a cryptocurrency mining program on its customers’ computers. Norton’s parent firm says the cloud-based service that activates the program and allows customers to profit from the scheme — in which the company keeps 15 percent of any currencies mined — is “opt-in,” meaning users have to agree to enable it. But many Norton users complain the mining program is difficult to remove, and reactions from longtime customers have ranged from unease and disbelief to, “Dude, where’s my crypto?”

Yes, really. My guess is that with most GPUs and electricity providers this would not even be profitable for the user.

See also: Bruce Schneier.


Lawsuit Alleges Google Paid Apple to Stay Out of Search

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, quoting Bernstein (via Dave Mark, Hacker News):

We now forecast that Google’s payments to Apple might be nearly $15B in FY 21, contribute an amazing ~850 bps to Services growth YoY, and amount to ~9% of company gross profits.


We have noted in prior research that GOOG is likely paying to ensure Microsoft doesn’t outbid it. That said, with payments likely to approach $18 – $20B in FY 22, it not implausible that Google could revisit its strategy.

Tim Hardwick:

Google’s agreement with Apple in the search and advertising markets has been in place for over a decade, but with Google’s search engine dominance coming under increasing scrutiny in recent years, Bernstein analysts believe the agreement could face a regulatory risk.

Tim Hardwick (tweet, Hacker News):

Apple has an agreement with Google that it won’t develop its own internet search engine so long as Google pays it to remain the default option in Safari, a new class action alleges.

Filed in a California court earlier this week against Apple, Google, and their respective CEOs, the lawsuit alleges the two companies have a non-compete agreement in the internet search business that violates US antitrust laws.


The class action also alleges that Google pays Apple annual multi-billion-dollar payments based on an agreement that Apple won’t launch its own competing search engine, and that the non-compete agreement includes plans to actively suppress smaller competitors and acquire actual and potential competitors.

Nick Heer:

This is one hell of a lawsuit; you can read the complaint here (PDF). Unlike many antitrust suits, it does not argue solely that Google’s presence as the default browser on all of Apple’s platforms — and its multibillion-dollar annual payments for its position — is illegally hampering competition. Rather, it claims that Apple has agreed not to develop a search engine to avoid giving Google any competition. It also says that Tim Cook derived personal bonuses based on this agreement.

Jeff Johnson:

The Search Preferences in Safari for Mac contains a list of search engines, such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Google, from which you can pick one as your default search engine. But what if you want to use multiple search engines in Safari? It turns out that you can! The same preference pane also contains a little known feature, Enable Quick Website Search.


When you click the “Manage Websites…” button, you see a list of sites. You can remove any sites you want from the list, but unfortunately you can’t add any sites from this menu. You have to visit a site and search for something, then hopefully Safari will save that site in the list.