1.24 Million Cheese Wheels

Governments are asking Apple and Google to hand over your notification data. Baldur's Gate wins Game of the Year, again. Twitch is pulling out of South Korea. Google released a new AI and it is… fine?

1.24 Million Cheese Wheels

We Love Programming Notes

Hello, dear reader. I have another programming note for you. As much as I don't want to make less SKH, I will be moving to an experimental schedule of SKH being twice-weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays. I am hoping this will give me a more sustainable content schedule as I continue to work on additional projects without compromising on Stuff Keeps Happening, which remains very important to me.

If it works out better, I'm hoping to be able to improve the quality and provide slightly longer episodes. I will also still be posting clips on TikTok and Reels throughout the week in addition to misc. other content.

Thank you endlessly for your readership. Now, how about stuff?

I Would Like To Notify You…

US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) penned a letter to the US Attorney General on December 6th detailing a year long investigation his staff has done into a tip he received about Apple and Google being compelled by foreign governments to hand over information about notifications delivered to users of iOS and Android.

Here's how notifications work: when an app wants to send you a notification, they (typically) will need to reach out to Apple or Google services and say "hey, send this notification to this device." Apple or Google will then route the notification to your phone, but to do so, they need the information about where to send the notification, and from what app its coming from. They can also sometimes access the unencrypted contents of your notification.

The tip investigated by Wyden's staff states that governments, including non-US governments, have been demanding that Apple and Google hand over said notification data, which does not currently necessitate informing users about their data being accessed. In fact, the purpose of the letter is basically to say "hey, we got stonewalled by them cuz they said they aren't allowed to talk about this due to laws, so lets change those laws."

At this time, we do not have hard confirmation of this happening, but it seems more than likely, especially since it would be very easy PR to just say "we don't share user data" rather than "uh… we can't talk about that."

Baldur's Gate 3 Won, Again

Baldur's Gate 3 won Game of the Year from The Game Awards last night, finally putting to rest the months-long debate as to if it'll go to Baldur's Gate or Tears of the Kingdom.

I want to note a couple of articles that came across my feed before the award show. I think this can help explain why I think that although TOTK was an amazing game, BG3 changed people.

According to writeups from Polygon and RPS:

  • 1.3 million players have completed BG3. 1.24 million of whom were turned into a wheel of cheese at some point
  • Shadowheart is the most-picked love interest
  • Players have spent a collective 51,662 years playing BG3

TOTK was excellent for sure. Marvel of a game. But also, BG3 seemingly has created a new generation of RPG players and has created what seems like it'll be quite the long-lasting playerbase.

Well done, Larian. And while I'm talking directly to Larian Studios, don't forget to check out The Atlas Loom, a worldbuilding podcast that you should absolutely sponsor 👀

Twitch is Pulling Out of Korea

Massively popular streaming platform Twitch will be ceasing operation in South Korea, citing "prohibitively expensive" operational costs.

Korea has a policy that essentially charges streaming platforms for "last-mile" delivery of their content. Data can be expensive at scale, and delivering high definition video to millions of people constantly is a hefty task. So Korea's "sending party pays" policy says "if you're gonna send all this data over our wires, you gotta pay us." In response, Twitch has stated that this policy had prices that were "10 times more expensive than in most other countries"

This is of course devastating news for Twitch streamers in Korea who have made a career out of streaming. It's okay though because Twitch executives have clarified that this was "a hard decision".

Google's New AI is Still Very Mid?

Google announced Gemini, their new AI engine which is set to compete with OpenAI's ChatGPT.

The AI is rolling out with three tiers of usage, which I already am confused by. Seemingly its different degrees of smartness and capability. Though the more I think about it, the more hysterical (read: horrifying) the notion of "pay more money for better quality information" is.

But I don't think you need to run out and buy their highest tier yet. Or, ever. Because initial reactions to the AI have been deeply mid, while stories are coming out about Google having lied about the capabilities of the AI in their demo.

On This Day…

On this day in 1963, Pan Am Flight 214 catastrophically crashed after being struck by lightning.

The lightning strike destroyed a wing, lit the jet fuel and basically demolished the plane. It crashed so hard that the first responding officer to the scene noted that the plane engines were buried 10 to 15 feet into the ground from the force of the impact.

The details continue to get more gruesome from there so I'll cut it off at that, BUT I do want you to know that this event sparked a major overhaul of safety regulations and further studies into lightning strikes. Modern airplanes have way, way more safeguards for that now.

Here's the Weather

Source: VentuSky

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