334: One Hobart!, Apple vs TSMC, Meta Cuts, Google Kills Stadia, Henry Singleton & Apple IPO, Cloudflare e-SIMs, DALL-E 2, and Three-Body Problem on Netflix
"TSMC’s people were like: 'They can do that?!'"
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.
—Christopher F. Chabris
💪 A little over a year ago, I developed adhesive capsulitis in my right shoulder (see edition #256 for more details), which basically meant that when I tried to raise my arm up high, my shoulder stayed all bunched up and didn’t extend properly. That’s why they call it “frozen shoulder”.
Putting weight on it hurt, so no pull-ups for a year+.
I recently had an injection (ultrasound-guided arthrographic distension) that made a huge difference, and I’d say that I’m 95% back to normal.
These past couple weeks, I’ve started doing pull-ups again (most days with my oldest boy, trying to get him in the habit of working out young, something I never had growing up).
It was a bit sad to see that I had lost all progress in a year, but I’m now back to about 7 full pull-ups in a row, so I’m getting there. My previous record was 11, but now I’d love to blow past that and get to 20.
We’ll see. Never give up, never surrender!
📈🏆 When I created this thing on a whim on July 20, 2020, because I was looking for a hobby, I saw that Byrne Hobart’s (💚💚💚💚💚 🥃 ) excellent The Diff had 12,000 subscribers.
That number seemed — wow! — impossibly high. I thought, “maybe someday”.
Well, that day is 🅣🅞🅓🅐🅨!
We’ve reached the milestone of ONE HOBART together.
I don’t know what it means. It’s not really a destination, nothing changes, it’s one of those markers by the side of the road. But once in a while, it’s good to take the time to appreciate how much pavement is behind us and what putting one foot in front of the other again and again can do.
So huzzah! 🥃
Thank you for being here! 💚
Next step, TWO HOBARTS! ✌️
🎬🍿🤖 I’ve been having fun creating posters for movies that don’t exist in StableDiff. I kind of like this one for ‘Admiral Adama’:
The only problem is, now I kinda want to watch it… 😕
🖼 🎨🤖 DALL·E 2 is now available to everyone:
OpenAI: Starting today, we are removing the waitlist for the DALL·E beta so users can sign up and start using it immediately. More than 1.5M users are now actively creating over 2M images a day with DALL·E
You get 50 credits for free (each credit generates 4 images that are variations on your prompt), and then credits regenerate at a rate of 15/month.
This part of the announcement was most intriguing:
We are currently testing a DALL·E API with several customers and are excited to soon offer it more broadly to developers and businesses so they can build apps on this powerful system.
I wonder where this API will pop up…
And I’d love to know how many GPUs these projects use.
If DALL-E already had 1.5m users on the open-beta, how many will they have now that it’s fully open? That’s gotta be a lot of GPUs for inference, but also a bunch to train and retrain their models (I know they use Azure cloud).
Then add Midjourney and other similar projects (I guess you can count StableDiffusion GPUs too, even though they mostly aren’t in the cloud). That’s got to be a ridiculous amount of compute, and growing really rapidly!
And I didn’t even mention large language models like GPT-3 (when is 4 coming out?), Megatron, LaMDA, etc.
💚 🥃 For the price of one alcoholic drink, you get 12 emails per month (plus 𝕤𝕡𝕖𝕔𝕚𝕒𝕝 𝕖𝕕𝕚𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤 and podcasts!) full of eclectic ideas and investing/tech analysis.
That’s pennies per edition for the Serendipity Engine!
If you make just one good decision per year because of something you learn here (or avoid one bad decision — don’t forget preventing negatives!), it'll pay for multiple years of subscriptions (or multiple lifetimes).
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Business & Investing
🇹🇼 Apple reportedly rejects TSMC’s price increase 🍎🐓
Looking at the machine-translation of this Economic Daily News piece, it looks like TSMC asked Apple for a 3% price increase for its 3nm node, and Apple rejected it (I’m sure TSMC’s people were like: “They can do that?!”):
Originally, the industry rumored that the price of Jiqi will increase next year, the range is different according to the process, about 6% to 9%, but then it was rumored that there was a negotiated correction, the increase from 3%, and the mature process rose by 6%. However, the latest rumor is that large customer Apple has expressed its refusal to raise prices.
Apple is TSMC's largest customer, with an estimated revenue share of more than 25%.
I wonder how the game of chicken will end. 🍗
Apple clearly needs TSMC, but it’s a bit like the thing about how if you owe the bank $1 million, *you’re* in trouble, but if you owe the bank $1 billion, *the bank* is in trouble.
Apple is such a big customer — and not just a normal passive customer, but a partner that helped them get to where they are now — that there would be a lot of pain on both sides if something ever happened to the relationship.
I have no doubt that they’ll work something out, it’s win-win for them. But the pushback by Apple does show how leverage is shifting around, especially now that Nvidia turns out to have bought too much capacity from TSMC, changing the overall demand dynamic…
Now if only the cycle turning could somehow rapidly free up plenty of capacity for automakers to stop being semiconductors-limited anymore, that’d be great, m’kay 🙏
Facebook Meta cuts budgets & headcount for first time
In what would be the first major budget cut since the founding of Facebook in 2004, Zuckerberg said the company will freeze hiring and restructure some teams to trim expenses and realign priorities. Meta will likely be smaller in 2023 than it was this year, he said.
He announced the freeze during a weekly Q&A session with employees, according to a person in attendance. He added that the company would reduce budgets across most teams, even those that are growing, and that individual teams will sort out how to handle headcount changes. That could mean not filling roles that employees depart, shifting people to other teams, or working to “manage out people who aren't succeeding”.
“I had hoped the economy would have more clearly stabilized by now,” Zuckerberg said. “But from what we're seeing it doesn't yet seem like it has, so we want to plan somewhat conservatively.”
Kind of wild to see the shares trading where they were in early 2017. Just a year ago, I would never have guessed it would get that bad for the company, even if headwinds were foreseeable.
Zuckerberg said Thursday that the company would be “somewhat smaller” by the end of 2023. (Source)
Google shutting down cloud gaming service Stadia 🎮 ☁️
This market is really forcing everyone to look at expenses line by line…
[W]hile Stadia's approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn't gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service.
We’re grateful to the dedicated Stadia players that have been with us from the start. We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Players will continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023
Making some lemonade: 🍋🍋🍋
The underlying technology platform that powers Stadia has been proven at scale and transcends gaming. We see clear opportunities to apply this technology across other parts of Google like YouTube, Google Play, and our Augmented Reality (AR) efforts
🍏 Henry Singleton owned 2.4% of Apple at IPO
I keep forgetting about that one and being surprised when I re-stumble on it:
There’s got to be some things that he invested in with his personal money that were never made public.
I wish there was a good biography of him (I have ‘Distant Force’, and it’s definitely not that).
Friend-of-the-show Tren Griffin (🦀) pointed out this 1981 Fortune article that has a bit more detail:
It turned to reality recently when Apple Computer went public at $22 a share. Venture capitalist Arthur Rock, who invested $57,600 in the company three years ago, ended up with stock worth $14 million; Teledyne Chairman Henry Singleton’s investment of $320,800 blossomed into $26 million.
From a different source:
Singleton was walking on the street (in 1977) and he looked in a store window and saw an Apple computer," said Flaherty. "He said it was like seeing the Model T. He immediately bought it and called up Arthur Rock and said we have to get involved with Steve Jobs."
🤖🛒🥬🥕 Machine Learning at the Checkout Aisle
Looking at announcements about ever more sophisticated self-checkout devices (using loads of sensors and machine learning models — think of Amazon Go as the maximalist version of this, but few will go that far near term) got me thinking about the amount of compute that will be used by every store — grocery, convenience, big box, hardware, etc — in the coming years.
It would’ve seemed really sci-fi to someone 20 years ago if you could’ve told them (or blew someone’s mind 50 years ago).
Oh yeah, the 7-11 down the street is using an array of sensors and processors with the FLOPS of what used to be a supercomputer used to do theoretical physics and simulaate nuclear weapons not that long ago.
h/t reader Fredo (👋) for making me think of this
🇨🇦 Ontario looking to delay shutdown of Pickering nuclear station ☢️
Finally some good news!
The Ontario government will ask the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for an extension to run the aging Pickering nuclear plant until 2026 to cover a looming shortage of electricity [...]
The extension request has been widely rumoured in electricity circles for months and comes amid increasing pressures for electrification of vehicles, home heating and other burners of fossil fuels to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change. [...]
At the same time, nuclear plants at Darlington, east of Pickering, and the Bruce facility on Lake Huron are refurbishing some of their reactors in stages, leaving less power available for the grid (Source)
If Pickering shuts down, most of that power will be replaced by natural gas.
The power plant, which is the second largest nuclear power plant in Canada after Bruce, “produces about 16% of Ontario's power and employs 3,000 workers”.
(that’s 3,000 *good* long-term jobs, not migrant solar panel installers that get $25/hr to work on a project installing panels made in China for a few weeks and then go away leaving almost no jobs for maintenance)
Pickering nameplate capacity: 3,114 MW (2019 capacity factor: 87.07%)
Dr. Chris Keefer: “I'm very encouraged to see a move towards extending & refurbishing the Pickering. Just this two year extension would keep 10 million tons of CO2 out of our atmosphere & save Ontarians upwards of 800 million dollars by not burning natural gas to replace its 3GWs of zero CO2 output”
Science & Technology
⛅️ Cloudflare Zero Trust e-SIM for Mobile Devices 📲
This is really cool and innovative.
Seems like it could have really wide applicability in the corporate world where mobile devices are increasingly a weak point (SIM spoofing and such to break 2FA authentication, etc):
we’d like to introduce you to the Cloudflare SIM: the world’s first Zero Trust SIM [...] another layer of defense at a different level of the stack, making life even harder for those who are trying to penetrate your organization. With the Zero Trust SIM, you get the benefits of:
Preventing employees from visiting phishing and malware sites: DNS requests leaving the device can automatically and implicitly use Cloudflare Gateway for DNS filtering.
Mitigating common SIM attacks: an eSIM-first approach allows us to prevent SIM-swapping or cloning attacks, and by locking SIMs to individual employee devices, bring the same protections to physical SIMs.
Enabling secure, identity-based private connectivity to cloud services, on-premise infrastructure and even other devices (think: fleets of IoT devices) via Magic WAN. Each SIM can be strongly tied to a specific employee, and treated as an identity signal in conjunction with other device posture signals already supported by WARP.
It’s a new on-ramp into their zero trust ecosystem.
With the Cloudflare SIM, mobile is now treated as just one more way that traffic gets passed around your corporate network.
I have no ideas if others are working on this, but I don’t think many companies have the stack of products/services/platform required to do a good job of securing things end-to-end on both sides.
Everything you could possibly want to know about dietary protein (the biochemistry, impact on muscle-building, health, longevity, plant vs animal sources, optimal amount vs RDA, etc) 🥩💪🧓🏻
Wow that’s a long title. I don’t have anything left to say down here… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
‘Methane leaking from Nord Stream pipelines likely to be biggest burst of the potent greenhouse gas on record, by far.’ 💨
The Nord Stream pipeline leaks that were pumping huge volumes of methane into the Baltic Sea and atmosphere could discharge as much as five times as much of the potent greenhouse as was released by the Aliso Canyon disaster, the largest known terrestrial release of methane in U.S. history. It is also the equivalent of one third of Denmark’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions
It’s obviously bad for other reasons, but also this.
The Arts & History
‘Three-Body Problem’ Adaptation coming to Netflix in 2023
I haven’t read them yet, but Liu Cixin’s books are one of the most talked-about modern sci-fi series, so the source material certainly seems promising, and the fact that it’ll be run by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss is also a good sign:
Some of the actors set to star in the project include Benedict Wong (The Martian, Doctor Strange), Eiza González (Baby Driver), as well as John Bradley and Liam Cunningham of Game of Thrones fame. Considered a modern sci-fi masterpiece, The Three-Body Problem was first published in China in 2008. It took another six years before the novel arrived in the west, and it subsequently became the first Asian novel to win a Hugo Award. Cixin and Ken Liu, who translated two of the novels in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy into English, are consulting on the live-action adaptation.
Netflix signed Benioff and Weiss to a lucrative $200 million deal in 2019.
h/t my friend JPV
Dall-E is so much fun to mess around with, thank you for alerting us that it's available to the public!