3… 2… 1… Liftoff!

14th August, 2015 — Laura Kalbag

Screenshot of the Heartbeat app on OS X showing messages and notifications working

This week Aral has been working non-stop on Heartbeat, and we’ve finally been able to share our hard work…

The Ind.ie Pre-Alpha is live!

It’s been a long eight months since our crowdfunding campaign ended. But we’ve now delivered on our pledge to our supporters. The Heartbeat pre-alpha is now open to all our Independence and Democracy supporters, and anyone can access the source.

It’s early days, and we’re iterating all the time. There are bugs, it falls over, but it’s also getting better and better. We’ve already had some wonderful feedback.

“Today is the day that the mud-slingers, vaporware-accusers and general negative whingers can STFU and see what these talented and principled individuals have been working on all this time”—Bob Summerwill

“Enjoying conversations, sharing photos online that you know is not being listened to for marketing is liberating indeed @indie well done” —@adamprocter

Thank you, Bob and Adam! We’re so grateful to all our supporters and everyone else who helped us get to this point.

Alphabet Soup

This week Google announced that it’s creating a new umbrella company called Alphabet. Google, the Internet branch of Alphabet products, will now be separate from Nest, Fiber, and other companies previously under the Google name.

Why are they doing this? Google suggested it might maintain a startup-like structure… It wouldn’t have any tax implications… But research by Russell Brandom on The Verge suggests that corporations separate out their companies to reduce liability:

“That bizarrely intricate subsidiary structure means that, if Disney World were abruptly destroyed by murderous animatronic robots, Euro Disney would be nicely shielded from the resulting legal fallout. By the same token, if Project Wing started wreaking havoc on the nation’s air traffic control systems, the rest of the moonshot projects could continue unaffected. It’s not likely to happen, but these are the nightmares that keep corporate lawyers awake at night, and nested subsidiaries are the product of those sleepless nights.”

It also means that individual Google corporations could raise independent funding or go public with a project like Google Auto without it affecting any other projects.

Alexander Howard of the Huffington Post had an interesting point on the corporate philosophies. After “Don’t be evil” and “You can make money without doing evil”, there’s now no mention of evil in the Alphabet corporate philosophy.

Google: “Don’t be evil”
Alphabet: “Evil is just one of our businesses”

More on the demise of the web ad

As we get closer to the predicted September release of Apple’s iOS 9, there’s more talk of the demise of the web ad. This week Marco Arment wrote about The ethics of modern web ad-blocking. He explained that some people say running ad-blocking software is violating an implied contract between the reader and the publisher. However a contract implies choice:

“All of that tracking and data collection is done without your knowledge, and — critically — without your consent. Because of how the web and web browsers work, the involuntary data collection starts if you simply follow a link. There’s no opportunity for disclosure, negotiation, or reconsideration. By following any link, you unwittingly opt into whatever the target site, and any number of embedded scripts from other sites and tracking networks, wants to collect, track, analyze, and sell about you.”

Netzpolitik Update

Last week we covered the two Netzpolitik journalists, Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister, who were charged with treason in Germany. In case you missed it, those charges have now been dropped.

“The chief prosecutor’s office said it now accepted the justice ministry’s assessment that Netzpolitik did not leak state secrets.”

Now the journalists want to know if they were victims of surveillance, as part of the almost three-month-long investigation.

The latest in the forum

There’s a lot of Heartbeat chatter in the Ind.ie forum, but also talk about licenses, alternatives to spyware, and good book recommendations. You should stop by to say hello.