136: War and Peace


00:00:00   I'm glad Honda's perfect.

00:00:02   Wow.

00:00:03   It doesn't even take premium fuel.

00:00:08   Yeah, so this is about bringing the iPhones in for the crescent moon problem and the various

00:00:13   experiences people had and what the Apple geniuses asked them to do to their phone and

00:00:18   what happened to the phone when it was taken into the back room and all sorts of stuff

00:00:21   like that.

00:00:22   So one theme was some people are super angry that we don't know this stuff.

00:00:28   Like it makes me so angry to hear you talk about genius stuff that you don't know about.

00:00:33   It's like, yeah, we don't know.

00:00:34   And then plenty of people tell us.

00:00:36   Like that's kind of how the show works.

00:00:38   We say, "I wonder what does happen in the back room."

00:00:40   And then a bunch of Apple geniuses anonymously email us and tell us what happens in the back

00:00:43   room.

00:00:44   So that was one theme.

00:00:45   And by the way, I can relate to that.

00:00:47   When you hear people talking about stuff on a podcast and you know the answer, but no

00:00:52   one on the show knows the answer because you're an Apple genius or a former Apple genius and

00:00:56   You hear the people thinking, "I wonder if it's this."

00:00:59   Like all of us offered various ideas of what it could be or whatever.

00:01:03   So that can be frustrating, but that's also part of the fun of podcasting.

00:01:06   The second theme that I saw emerge from the very large volume of feedback we got from

00:01:11   Apple Geniuses X.

00:01:12   Apple Geniuses are people who are Apple Genius adjacent.

00:01:16   They were all cagey about what their jobs were, and they all wanted to be anonymous

00:01:20   for the most part.

00:01:21   was that things are actually slightly different

00:01:24   from Apple Store to Apple Store.

00:01:26   We got email from geniuses in different countries,

00:01:30   in different states in the United States,

00:01:33   and they all describe what their store does.

00:01:35   And there's a commonality,

00:01:36   like we'll get to that when we get to the answers.

00:01:38   There is an answer to all of our questions last time,

00:01:40   but some stores were like,

00:01:42   "Our store tends to do this,

00:01:43   "except occasionally we do that.

00:01:44   "Our store always does this and doesn't do it."

00:01:46   Like subtle differences in policy

00:01:48   that I assume are like maybe at the discretion

00:01:51   of the store manager or just kind of like

00:01:53   what they tend to do, other people delving into details

00:01:56   of how the geniuses are rated by their managers

00:02:00   based on certain metrics that have to do with

00:02:02   how they choose to do discretionary things.

00:02:04   Anyway, I was surprised at the variety,

00:02:07   at how much things can vary from store to store.

00:02:09   And these are not things that the people writing in

00:02:11   presented as things that might vary.

00:02:13   The only way we discovered that they vary

00:02:15   is by the sheer volume of feedback.

00:02:17   you know, oh, like these five people said they always do this,

00:02:19   and these four people said they always do something slightly different.

00:02:22   And all those people are not presenting that as a thing that they think varies.

00:02:24   They think like all Apple stores do this, but they actually do vary a surprising amount.

00:02:29   And that kind of matches up with, you know, the experience even just that you two had in terms of,

00:02:34   if I bring it in at the end of the day and the store is going to close,

00:02:36   maybe they'll give me a replacement phone instead of trying to repair,

00:02:40   or they'll just tell me to come back the next day, you know,

00:02:42   or if you, you know, if you have iOS 9 or a beta on it,

00:02:45   the machine can't replace it, so they do that.

00:02:47   Lots of variations from store to store.

00:02:50   But anyway, we're not really interested in,

00:02:52   I'm interested in the variations

00:02:54   'cause I find it interesting that there is apparently

00:02:58   so much discretion from one store to the other.

00:03:00   But the common stuff is what we're gonna try

00:03:02   to get to in the feedback, so one of you

00:03:03   can try summarizing the answers

00:03:06   to all of our questions from last week.

00:03:07   - All right, let me take a stab at this very quickly.

00:03:08   So the general theme seems to be

00:03:11   that the reason that a genius will ask you

00:03:14   turn off Find My iPhone. There's a couple of reasons actually. Number one, it's to prove

00:03:18   that that is your phone. And you haven't stolen the phone and, you know, claimed that something

00:03:25   is broken or perhaps something is broken, and you're trying to get a perfectly functional

00:03:30   phone out of the deal. So the most obvious answer was, we want you to prove that it's

00:03:35   indeed yours. Subsequent to that, if it comes that they need to replace the phone, according

00:03:42   to the geniuses, if I understood them correctly, they, the activation lock is tied in some

00:03:48   way shape or form to Find My iPhone. And so if they screw something up or something is

00:03:54   just fundamentally broken and they need to give you a new phone, they're going to want

00:03:58   to recycle or remanufacture is the word I heard used a lot, remanufactured the phone

00:04:06   that you've just given up. And they can't do that unless Find My iPhone is off because

00:04:10   because they have no back door to this.

00:04:12   - I think that summary's accurate.

00:04:14   The most common reason we heard cited

00:04:15   was proof of ownership for a reason,

00:04:18   because apparently people bringing in stolen phones

00:04:20   and going through this whole thing

00:04:21   or intentionally breaking part of it,

00:04:23   like opening it up and disconnecting the home button

00:04:25   and bringing it in saying,

00:04:26   "Oh, the home button doesn't work with stolen phones,"

00:04:28   was apparently a very common thing.

00:04:30   So that is the primary reason

00:04:33   is you're proving you're on the phone.

00:04:34   And then the other reasons I'm still a little bit fuzzy on,

00:04:37   but we got a lot of,

00:04:38   What you summarized is the common answer, I think.

00:04:40   All right.

00:04:40   So that's the Find My iPhone portion.

00:04:42   Now, the passcode was interesting.

00:04:46   I didn't realize the order of operations

00:04:50   that happens once my phone disappeared

00:04:52   to get the crescent moon repaired.

00:04:56   So apparently what happens is they go to the back room,

00:04:59   and they use this little clampy thing that

00:05:04   has suction cups on it to peel apart the phone once they've

00:05:07   removed the couple of screws that are on the bottom of it.

00:05:10   Then they replace the screen, and with the screen is the touch ID sensor and a bunch

00:05:14   of other things.

00:05:15   I don't remember the list off the top of my head.

00:05:17   But the key is, then they put it into this big black calibration machine.

00:05:22   And they are not allowed, or told anyway, not to give you your phone back unless you

00:05:26   pass calibration.

00:05:28   And apparently the way you pass calibration is, among other things, they put an app on

00:05:32   your phone temporarily that interacts with the calibration machine in order to calibrate

00:05:36   the screen and make sure the screen is working.

00:05:38   Now this is important because they can't put this app on your phone or do any of those

00:05:41   other things without you having either given them your passcode or just taken off the passcode.

00:05:47   So they run this thing through, they run your phone through this calibration machine just

00:05:50   to make sure everything's functional.

00:05:51   And if it passes calibration, you get your phone back that has a new screen, new touch

00:05:55   ID, et cetera.

00:05:56   If it doesn't pass calibration, then they'll just hand you a new phone and say, "Be on

00:06:01   your way."

00:06:02   said that we also permit customers to decline giving us the passcode with the

00:06:06   expectation that we'll perform this functionality check with the customer.

00:06:09   Some of the geniuses who said this said that they trusted the machine more than

00:06:13   like checking the functionality with the people. I would trust the machine more

00:06:16   too, especially for screen calibration type stuff. It's not clear to me

00:06:20   whether that can work with the passcode off or not. I think there's some feedback

00:06:23   related to that in there. But anyway, you would think that we'd be nailing this

00:06:26   down, but there are subtle differences between all the feedback that we got and

00:06:30   And you can't tell the subtle differences are significant or just differences in phrasing or whatever, but bottom line in the passcode is

00:06:36   they want to make sure that if they change something about your phone that all the stuff that's supposed to work still works.

00:06:43   And the other thing I just wanted to clarify a little bit is when I said an app with the calibration machine

00:06:48   I may have the details a little wrong about that.

00:06:50   I think we had heard talk of a custom ROM or a custom firmware.

00:06:55   We've heard talks, a talk from the feedback that it was an app.

00:06:59   The point just being that something happens on your phone that interacts with this machine

00:07:03   in order to make sure everything works right.

00:07:05   All right, anything else on the repair things?

00:07:09   I don't have anything else.

00:07:10   I feel like all we have done is initiated another torrent of clarifications from geniuses,

00:07:14   which is fine.

00:07:15   How about this?

00:07:16   Why don't we just say right now we're not going to be talking about this anymore?

00:07:19   So please, you don't have to even email us about it.

00:07:20   We're done with this topic.

00:07:21   Please, for the love of God.

00:07:22   Well, I mean, I don't think there's anything more productive to get out of it because we

00:07:26   wondered why they want you to have Find My iPhone, and I think we got a solid answer

00:07:30   on that to prove that you own it.

00:07:33   And then the passcode stuff and the other things, and when you get a new phone and when

00:07:36   you get a replacement and all that other stuff, I've got enough information to understand

00:07:40   what they're doing.

00:07:42   I don't think we implied that there was anything sinister going on.

00:07:44   I think we were just wondering, and I don't think there's anything sinister going on,

00:07:48   so I think we're all satisfied on that front.

00:07:50   Marco still wants the ability to, you know, this one person said they have, basically

00:07:55   the ability to test everything without having you unlock your thing with a passcode.

00:08:01   But anyway, that's – we'll probably get clarification on that.

00:08:06   I think I probably won't be able to help following up on that.

00:08:09   You know, I totally withdraw my argument just because I don't want to get any more mail

00:08:11   about it.

00:08:12   I'm so done with this topic.

00:08:13   Just –

00:08:14   Hold on, we're not there.

00:08:15   One quick – I just wanted to say thank you to the geniuses that did write in.

00:08:17   As much as we're joking, I, for one, and I think I speak for at least John, I for one

00:08:24   appreciated hearing all of this.

00:08:28   And I know a lot of you, and I'm not trying to be funny, I know a lot of you probably

00:08:31   felt like that was a risky thing to write into us and share any sort of information.

00:08:36   So I speak for all of us, even those of us who are grumbling, in saying thank you for

00:08:41   what you have already written.

00:08:42   But I agree, I think we've got the gist now.

00:08:45   So thank you.

00:08:46   All right, Marco, what would you like to talk about?

00:08:48   - Anything else?

00:08:49   (laughing)

00:08:50   So let's quickly, very fast,

00:08:53   this is how you do follow-up, guys, very fast follow-up.

00:08:55   (laughing)

00:08:56   Last episode, we talked about the live photos mode

00:08:59   on the 6S.

00:09:00   I said that it was most likely dumping the entire sensor

00:09:04   at 12 megapixels in a very fast burst to make those videos.

00:09:08   You can see in John Gruber's review,

00:09:11   which is excellent, you should read it,

00:09:12   that the resolution is substantially lower than that.

00:09:14   It is not dumping it at 12 megapixels for the video.

00:09:16   It's basically taking a lower resolution video,

00:09:19   it's like 1440 by something,

00:09:21   and it's one of those things like it looks fine on the phone

00:09:24   I wouldn't even say it looks good on the phone.

00:09:26   It looks fine on the phone.

00:09:28   On any more inspection than that,

00:09:31   any larger viewing or any close viewing,

00:09:34   it does not look very good,

00:09:35   but it looks good enough on the phone.

00:09:37   - Does it look good enough on the phone?

00:09:38   I don't know. (laughs)

00:09:39   - It is a very weird feature.

00:09:41   I think it's cool.

00:09:43   I think it's an interesting idea,

00:09:46   but the quality is not amazing.

00:09:48   And it's not gonna be for preserving things in high def.

00:09:55   It's gonna be for a ha ha funny look at this moment

00:09:58   surrounding kind of things.

00:10:01   If you want to actually have video of something,

00:10:04   just shoot video.

00:10:05   It looks way better when it's in video mode.

00:10:07   - One way or another, I am really, really excited

00:10:11   and amp to see this because I really think this could be extremely cool.

00:10:16   A lot of times when I'm taking pictures with either my phone or my big camera, I really

00:10:22   wish I had either context or even just a crappy still from a half second before I actually

00:10:30   hit the shutter.

00:10:31   And I'm really, really excited to see this.

00:10:34   I think it should be really cool.

00:10:35   Now, it may end up that I get my iPhone 6s, which by the way is in Louisville, not that

00:10:40   I've been looking. I will get my iPhone 6s, try it, and think it's crap, but I don't know.

00:10:46   I'm really excited for it, and it just occurred to me, I am not saying that just because I

00:10:50   want to sound enthusiastic about something. I genuinely am enthusiastic and excited about

00:10:55   this.

00:10:56   Yeah, for me, I'm most excited, reading all these reviews and everything, I'm most excited

00:10:59   about 3D Touch, honestly. And also, the performance increase was way bigger than I expected.

00:11:05   Yeah, my goodness. I feel like they talked about it, but I don't know. When you see it

00:11:08   in the keynote or special event.

00:11:10   - Well, I mean, every year they say,

00:11:11   "Now it's even, you know, it's 20% faster, 80% faster."

00:11:14   But, you know, usually, a lot of times,

00:11:16   they cherry-pick that metric to be like the maximum

00:11:19   and in reality, it's maybe only 30% faster,

00:11:22   which is still great for one year

00:11:23   of semiconductor advancement,

00:11:25   especially compared to the world of PCs and Macs.

00:11:27   But this is one of those years where, you know,

00:11:30   some years it makes a bigger jump than others

00:11:32   and this is one of those years

00:11:33   where it's a noteworthy big jump.

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00:13:58   So big week Marco

00:14:02   - Yeah, you know what, we might as well go right to

00:14:06   the main controversy of the week.

00:14:08   The colored activity rings.

00:14:10   - I don't get why that's such a big friggin' deal.

00:14:14   Like, I don't like that it's color,

00:14:16   but I seriously am like, whatever.

00:14:19   But man, the internet's upset.

00:14:21   - Is it only color on the modular face?

00:14:24   - No.

00:14:24   - I think--

00:14:25   - Is it simple or the other one, that it's color as well?

00:14:29   - It's on utility, where it's color.

00:14:30   - That's the one.

00:14:31   Yeah, and that's what everyone's mad about

00:14:32   because Utility, which is the face I use

00:14:34   and I have the activity ring on it,

00:14:36   Utility is, well it was previously,

00:14:40   a very kind of restrained design.

00:14:42   It really, you could have called it simple.

00:14:44   Like it is a very simple design

00:14:46   if you don't crap it up with a bunch of stuff.

00:14:48   It is a very good design and many people are very upset

00:14:52   about the activity rings now being these bright colors

00:14:56   that match their colors in the activity app

00:14:58   rather than the previous monochrome version.

00:15:02   - Gotta say the upgrade experience, so watchOS,

00:15:05   it's watchOS 2, right?

00:15:06   - Yeah.

00:15:07   - I was very confused by it,

00:15:08   'cause first of all I tried to do it at work,

00:15:09   and that didn't work because the watch

00:15:11   wants to be connected to the charger,

00:15:12   and of course I don't have my watch charger work,

00:15:14   so fine, I wait 'til I get home and do it.

00:15:16   But I did like the phone part of it then

00:15:17   where it downloads the OS, right?

00:15:19   I get home and I put my watch on the charger,

00:15:22   and I let it do the update and it goes long,

00:15:24   and then I come back later, looks like it's all done,

00:15:26   and I pick up my phone in the watch app

00:15:29   and I'm not sure if it's done.

00:15:31   So I go back into like the updates thing or whatever

00:15:33   and it says, everything is up to date, 1.0.1.

00:15:36   You've got 1.0.1, all good.

00:15:38   I'm like, what do you mean 1.0.1?

00:15:41   Why is it, it says there's no updates

00:15:43   and I'm all up to date and the version is 1.0.1?

00:15:46   Is that talking about the version

00:15:49   of the Apple watch app on the, I don't know.

00:15:51   I was super confused.

00:15:52   Anyway, all I did was pick up my watch

00:15:53   and turn the dial and see time travel go

00:15:54   and basically say, "Oh, there you go, it's installed."

00:15:57   So I do have watchOS too, but I was confused by that.

00:16:01   What is that?

00:16:02   If you did it too, did you discover

00:16:04   what the 1.0.1 is referring to?

00:16:06   - Well, that was the previous version.

00:16:07   It's just a bug in the watch app,

00:16:08   which it wouldn't be the first one.

00:16:11   - All right.

00:16:12   - Fair enough.

00:16:14   I mean, again, I don't like the colors on the activity rings

00:16:17   on the, which one did you say it was?

00:16:20   - Utility. - Utility.

00:16:21   I keep wanting to say simple.

00:16:22   - I mean, I looked at it too, and I was, you know,

00:16:24   'cause I use utility and I thought,

00:16:26   you know, this really is now a much less elegant

00:16:30   looking face than it was before.

00:16:32   However, I also do use the activity rings pretty heavily.

00:16:37   It's one of the most common reasons I look at my watch face.

00:16:40   And so when I first saw it, I thought,

00:16:42   ah, what a terrible mistake, those are so garish,

00:16:44   and they are, but then I went for a dog walk.

00:16:47   And on the dog walk, usually I would open the watch,

00:16:52   or I would look at the watch, it would wake up,

00:16:54   and usually I would tap the activity rings in the corner

00:16:56   to launch the full activity app

00:16:58   to check how I was doing in that app

00:17:00   because the rings on the watch face

00:17:01   either wouldn't have updated yet

00:17:03   or it would be kinda hard to see

00:17:05   when I was in motion on this big walk

00:17:07   and there's these little tiny rings.

00:17:09   And now with the colors, it is easier to see how I'm doing

00:17:12   because when I'm doing a big walk or something,

00:17:15   one of the rings can get ahead of the others

00:17:17   and sometimes you can't quite tell

00:17:19   whether it's the orange one or the green one.

00:17:21   And so you gotta look more closely to really know.

00:17:25   And now with these new colors, it makes it very clear.

00:17:27   So what I find now is that I don't have to launch

00:17:31   the activity app anymore.

00:17:32   I can just glance at it with the colors

00:17:33   and I can see how I'm doing with the green ring.

00:17:37   So it actually works for me.

00:17:39   And I really hate to say that because I really don't like

00:17:42   the way it looks, but it does work better for me.

00:17:44   - Anything else going on this week for anyone, Marco?

00:17:48   - I don't think so.

00:17:49   I mean, I'm working on some overcast upgrades.

00:17:52   - Are we really not gonna talk about this?

00:17:53   'Cause I don't carry the way.

00:17:54   - Nah, we can talk about it.

00:17:55   We can talk about it.

00:17:56   - We're going to.

00:17:58   It will happen.

00:17:59   - Okay, so, Peace, your content blocker

00:18:02   that we talked about last episode,

00:18:04   it became extremely popular.

00:18:06   You had a change of heart.

00:18:08   You pulled it, and the internet got really,

00:18:10   really upset about it.

00:18:12   I will start by saying, I think it's kind of ridiculous

00:18:17   how upset the internet got about it.

00:18:19   It bothered me quite a lot,

00:18:21   and I really have nothing to do with this, really at all.

00:18:24   But I got bothered by it because I feel like

00:18:28   the internet wholly and entirely overreacted

00:18:32   over a decision that was not easy for you to make

00:18:36   and quite literally cost you a ton of money.

00:18:40   - Well, it didn't cost them any money in the end, right?

00:18:43   It cost them time, obviously.

00:18:44   He spent all his time making this app,

00:18:46   and then it was all for nothing.

00:18:48   I get, let me, maybe cost is a poor choice of words.

00:18:51   What I mean to say is--

00:18:52   - I lost money on the icons and the SSL cert,

00:18:55   the domain name.

00:18:56   - All right, so here's something I didn't know

00:18:58   until this all went around that got clarified for me

00:19:01   by asking questions about it.

00:19:02   My previous understanding about how refunds worked

00:19:07   was that if someone bought an application for a dollar

00:19:11   and Apple issued them a refund,

00:19:14   they would still want 30 cents

00:19:15   from the person who made the app.

00:19:17   In other words, if every single person who bought your application asked for a refund,

00:19:21   you would still have to pay Apple 30% of the total revenue from your application.

00:19:26   Apparently that changed some point in the recent past.

00:19:28   Marco, do you know, like, an exact date?

00:19:30   So people have said that over the years.

00:19:33   The thing is with, I mean, it's probably different on the Mac App Store where the prices are

00:19:37   usually a lot higher.

00:19:38   On iOS, though, the number of refunds that happen, typically on iOS, is usually so low.

00:19:44   I mean, most days I get, from Overcast,

00:19:47   I'll get whatever thousand or hundred or tens of buys,

00:19:51   and then you'll have one or zero or two refunds.

00:19:56   It'll be a massive difference.

00:19:58   And so it's the kind of thing

00:20:00   that almost all iOS developers never have to think about.

00:20:03   Therefore, I've never looked into it,

00:20:04   and therefore, I don't know if that was ever true.

00:20:07   - Yeah, anyway, the new system, as Marco can confirm,

00:20:10   is when Apple issues a refund,

00:20:13   Marco doesn't owe Apple any money for that particular purchase.

00:20:16   Like all the money goes back to the person who paid for the application and that's that.

00:20:20   So in theory, and as we'll find out in practice, if for example every single copy of an application

00:20:26   that was purchased was completely refunded, the developer gets zero dollars and everyone

00:20:30   who bought it gets the exact amount that they paid back.

00:20:33   So it's a complete clean slate ignoring Marco paying for the development of the application

00:20:37   and SSL certificates and icons and all that other stuff or whatever.

00:20:39   So that is the current situation.

00:20:40   And I'm happy to hear that because I remember hearing back in the old days about refunds

00:20:45   saying, "Oh, that's pretty harsh that Apple still demands the 30%," or whether that was

00:20:50   an intentional policy or a side effect of the system that they had or whatever.

00:20:55   It's usually not a big deal because refunds are infrequent.

00:20:58   But in a strange situation like we had here where many applications were purchased and

00:21:03   all refunded, that could have ended up being even more costly.

00:21:06   But it's nice that that wasn't the case.

00:21:09   Yeah, if it becomes the case, believe me, I will notice and I will let you know.

00:21:15   So the other thing most people don't understand about, and you can't really blame them, developers

00:21:21   know this, nerds who know developers know this, but regular customers, why would they

00:21:25   even have any need to know this?

00:21:27   Developers can't issue refunds.

00:21:29   They just can't.

00:21:30   Like if you sell an application on the App Store and someone asks you for your refund,

00:21:33   you literally cannot give it to them.

00:21:34   There's nothing you can do.

00:21:35   There's no button you can press to say, "Here's your money back."

00:21:38   Apple can issue refunds. That's stupid and it has been the case forever and you know every time stuff like this comes up

00:21:46   We all reflect once again about how Apple owns the customer and the developer doesn't

00:21:50   We don't know the customers names. We don't know the customer, you know, the people who sell applications can't respond to customers comments

00:21:55   Don't know who they are in some respects. That's good. It's like oh Apple is isolating you keeping your privacy blah blah

00:22:00   But on the other hand developers cannot issue refunds. So a lot of the people who are angry

00:22:05   Justifiably is like I bought an application for a whole three dollars and I'm really mad about it

00:22:09   Anyway, and it's obviously not gonna be supported because it was pulled and the developer won't give me a refund which is true

00:22:15   But he can't give you a refund. He literally cannot I'm sure I don't know

00:22:19   I asked Marco this is first question for Marco

00:22:21   If there was a big button that you could have pressed to refund everybody when you decided to pull the app

00:22:26   Would you have pressed it?

00:22:27   Maybe I would have I would have definitely considered it. I mean one of the weird things about the way this was done

00:22:33   So, I'll get into why I pulled the app, you know, once we get off this topic, I will

00:22:38   actually give people what they're looking for, which unfortunately I already did and

00:22:42   it's a really boring story.

00:22:44   The story is what I wrote.

00:22:46   But anyway, I'll elaborate if you want.

00:22:49   But no, so to refunds for a second, you are right so far, the way you said it, we don't,

00:22:55   I mean, I wouldn't even gotten the, you know, assuming that the sales had gone through

00:22:58   and had not been refunded, I wouldn't even have the money until like a month and a half

00:23:03   from now.

00:23:04   Yeah, but like if there was a way in Apple's system to basically say, "Oh, give all that

00:23:06   money back," like the customers gave the money to Apple, and if you could push a button that

00:23:10   made Apple give the money back to them, like it would never appear in any of your statements

00:23:13   that would just be like, "Oh, plus this amount, oh, minus this amount," and then your statement

00:23:17   a month and a half from now would be like zero dollars.

00:23:18   Right, right.

00:23:19   I mean, if, so if they gave me the control, then I would have really considered doing

00:23:24   that.

00:23:26   It does really suck that I am actually now losing money on this, on this project rather

00:23:32   rather than making some money, but I also,

00:23:34   it was a weird dilemma of like,

00:23:37   do I keep all or any of this money that I,

00:23:41   you know, whoever doesn't claim a refund,

00:23:43   do I keep any of it, and then Apple made this decision

00:23:46   for me, they sent me an email, like I got an email

00:23:49   from iTunes Connect, whenever it was, yesterday afternoon,

00:23:52   whatever day it was, I've lost track of all meaning of days,

00:23:56   but whenever it was, they sent me an email saying,

00:23:58   because you pulled your app,

00:23:59   we are refunding all the customers.

00:24:02   And it almost looked like a form email.

00:24:06   You could tell that it was, you know,

00:24:07   somebody filled in like three words in it.

00:24:10   But they decided to do that, most likely because

00:24:14   I was directing over 10,000 people to their refund form.

00:24:18   (laughs)

00:24:19   Like I was seeing over the last couple of days,

00:24:22   there were, I think at my last count,

00:24:23   it was something like 13 or 15,000 people

00:24:27   who had been issued refunds

00:24:29   the regular process. And what that process is involves doing some kind of live chat agent

00:24:36   thing with somebody at iTunes. So this was a…

00:24:40   Steve McLaughlin You cost Apple money too.

00:24:43   John

00:24:59   I messed up, simple as that.

00:25:01   So I decided, given the situation I'm in,

00:25:03   where I've already done that mistake,

00:25:05   how do I resolve this mistake in the best way possible?

00:25:07   And had I been given the option to issue everybody

00:25:10   bulk refunds, I probably would have done it.

00:25:14   I can't say definitely, yes I would have,

00:25:16   because it was such a rush, I don't even know.

00:25:20   I honestly don't know.

00:25:21   But I had considered it, and I had asked some friends,

00:25:24   I had asked some friends, is this possible

00:25:26   to bulk cancel all these things and bulk refund them.

00:25:30   And everyone I asked, I asked a handful of people

00:25:32   and they all said, "I don't think that's possible."

00:25:34   Because most of the time the way the iTunes store works

00:25:37   is this total black box and it's all in Eddy Cue's team

00:25:42   and Eddy Cue's team has enough to do.

00:25:44   If there's one department within Apple

00:25:48   that has way too much on their plate,

00:25:50   it's Eddy Cue's department.

00:25:51   And so I thought, especially in regards to the iTunes store,

00:25:55   This is this old infrastructure that often does not work incredibly well with things

00:26:01   like iTunes Connect errors and stuff like that.

00:26:03   The idea of asking them to make an exception for you sounds so ridiculous to almost anybody

00:26:09   who's involved in this because they know asking them to just make the basic functionality

00:26:14   work every day is enough work for them.

00:26:16   That's hard enough.

00:26:18   Anyway, so I didn't, I was not given the option

00:26:22   to bulk refund everybody, but I am kinda glad it happened

00:26:27   because it resolved a lot of problems.

00:26:30   Even though it was weird that they didn't ask first,

00:26:36   but I'm not surprised, and it is kind of nice

00:26:40   that I didn't have a choice in the matter,

00:26:42   because then I didn't have to make that choice.

00:26:44   - So related to that, and part of the reason

00:26:46   why someone who purchased the application

00:26:48   would be annoyed. I mean there's a lot of reasons. So if you purchase it, since Marco

00:26:53   can't issue you a refund and since he had no way to do a bulk refund, what you were

00:26:57   doing was directing people, please go request a refund. Because it's the only way you're

00:27:01   going to get one. You have to ask Apple. And that process is annoying. And it's like, oh,

00:27:04   you know, buying the app is easy. You just tap a button on your phone. Getting your refund

00:27:08   seems like a hassle. I don't know how to do it. Now I got to like look on Apple's site.

00:27:11   How do I do refunds? Marco will link you to the forum. Do I have to fill this out? Do

00:27:13   I have to go to the chat thing? It's a hassle. So that's inconvenient. If you want your $3

00:27:18   back thing to me, but why would you want your $3 back?

00:27:20   Well, what people are basically doing is like,

00:27:21   the app is pulled, obviously there'll be no further

00:27:23   development of the app, but the question is,

00:27:25   and a lot of people have this question,

00:27:27   will the application continue to work?

00:27:30   I bought it, I installed it, it's on my phone,

00:27:33   Marco pulls it from the store,

00:27:34   which means no new people can buy it.

00:27:35   What does it mean about the copy of Peace

00:27:37   that is on my phone right now?

00:27:39   Will it continue to work?

00:27:40   If I get a refund, will it continue to work,

00:27:42   or will it be deleted from my phone?

00:27:44   If I don't ask for a refund, how long will Peace work

00:27:46   before it just breaks entirely?

00:27:48   - Right, so the answer is, as far as I know,

00:27:53   it doesn't affect the logical mark on your account

00:27:58   that says you bought it.

00:27:59   So you are still able to have it, run it,

00:28:03   I think you're able to restore it.

00:28:05   The way I deleted it was I didn't actually delete

00:28:09   the entry out of iTunes Connect.

00:28:10   I just set the availability date to be as far

00:28:12   into the future as it would let me.

00:28:14   I don't know the defined details of how that worked

00:28:16   and so, I've had it works and so,

00:28:18   I'm not gonna promise anything there,

00:28:19   but I think it should allow restores and everything.

00:28:21   Anyway, as for it functioning,

00:28:25   once you have it installed,

00:28:27   it will continue to function

00:28:29   until something in iOS makes it stop working.

00:28:33   It will though, stop getting updates from Ghostery

00:28:37   sometime in the future.

00:28:38   Right now, it is still able to get updates.

00:28:40   These are gonna be somewhat costly for me to run

00:28:42   if a lot of people keep the app installed,

00:28:44   so I might stop that,

00:28:45   I'm going to stop that eventually, because now that everybody has gotten a refund on

00:28:50   it, that also makes it easier for me to say, "Well, you know what? In a few months, if

00:28:55   I decide to shut down the updater and stop paying for all that bandwidth and hosting

00:28:59   for that operation, then I feel okay doing that then." So I'm going to shut it down

00:29:05   at some point, but I haven't yet. And when that happens, the app background updates to

00:29:09   to get new definitions from my server.

00:29:12   So eventually it'll become less effective over time

00:29:17   as new ad servers and new trackers start existing

00:29:21   on the web that it doesn't know about.

00:29:23   So that's how it will eventually break.

00:29:25   Or some iOS update comes out and says,

00:29:28   "Well, now you have to be on our new 128-bit processor

00:29:32   "by this date, and if you're not,

00:29:33   "we're gonna cut you out of the store."

00:29:34   As far as I know, I don't think they've done

00:29:36   any permanent breaking changes that would, say,

00:29:39   rule out an iOS 4 app from still running today.

00:29:42   I don't think that's the case.

00:29:44   All that is a very long way of saying,

00:29:47   if you wanna keep Peace installed,

00:29:49   and if, for whatever reason, Apple does not remove it

00:29:52   off your phone, and it's any kind of botch-restore operation

00:29:55   or weird thing like that, as far as I know,

00:29:57   it should continue to work for a long time.

00:30:00   - All right, let's, I think Jon and I both have

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00:31:51   - John, any other questions immediately about peace?

00:31:54   - Yeah, are we gonna get into the good stuff?

00:31:56   We've just covered--

00:31:57   Let me get into the why.

00:31:59   I'll tell you the story of how this came to be.

00:32:02   Is that good?

00:32:03   - Well, can we just cover a couple of,

00:32:05   something right off the bat.

00:32:07   Can we just admit that it was just a complete glorified,

00:32:12   well-executed money grab?

00:32:13   That's absolutely what happened, right?

00:32:15   - The most unsuccessful money grab in the history of play.

00:32:19   - Yeah, I'm really bad at money grabs, apparently.

00:32:21   (laughs)

00:32:23   Yeah, so anyway.

00:32:26   No, what actually happened was Apple paid me off.

00:32:28   That was my best, the best theory I heard

00:32:31   was that Apple paid me off to pull the app.

00:32:34   Now, Apple, who made this content blocking API,

00:32:38   who clearly wanted people to use it

00:32:40   for ad and tracking blockers.

00:32:41   - They just wanted you to block pictures of cats, Marco.

00:32:44   - Who, I was also making them a lot of money.

00:32:47   (laughing)

00:32:48   'Cause they're 30%, 30%'s a lot, you know.

00:32:51   So that I think by far was my favorite theory.

00:32:56   That yeah, of course, yeah, Apple paid me off

00:32:58   to take this down.

00:32:59   For what exactly?

00:33:01   To make them lose money and go against

00:33:02   all their strategy goals?

00:33:03   Yeah, that makes sense.

00:33:05   No, I mean the fact is no one paid me anything.

00:33:06   I'm now losing money on this because all the refunds

00:33:09   got issued so I'm gonna lose a few thousand dollars on it

00:33:12   but oh well, that's the risk I took.

00:33:13   So what happened was over the summer,

00:33:19   So we had the content blocker announcement at WBCC.

00:33:24   And in fact, John and I are actually in the session video.

00:33:27   There's one of the shots that pans over to the audience

00:33:31   and there's a clip of me and John,

00:33:34   I think we're clapping at one of the things

00:33:35   that was said or whatever.

00:33:37   - That's how I knew you were making a content blocker.

00:33:38   It's like, "Margo's in this session.

00:33:40   "He never gets the things that I go to.

00:33:42   "He's making a content blocker."

00:33:43   Didn't wanna say anything.

00:33:44   - And I hadn't decided right then

00:33:46   whether I was going to do it or not,

00:33:47   but I knew right then it was going to be a big deal

00:33:50   and a big market and I wanted to use one.

00:33:53   And that is usually a pretty good recipe

00:33:55   for me to want to make an app.

00:33:57   And the reality is I also want to keep doing Overcast

00:34:02   as my primary app.

00:34:05   And so I wasn't going to tackle a new app

00:34:08   that I thought was going to be a massive time sink.

00:34:11   And so content blockers are so easy to make.

00:34:15   I mean, really, the one I made that briefly did

00:34:20   very, very well, and then the ones that are there now,

00:34:24   this is probably the most money for the least effort

00:34:27   that has ever been possible in the App Store.

00:34:29   And it's, you know, soon enough,

00:34:31   it'll be diluted by tons and tons.

00:34:33   But I thought on day one, there would be way more

00:34:38   in the market than there were.

00:34:39   - Yeah, I couldn't make one.

00:34:40   That's how easy it is to, because it's like one API

00:34:43   that if you go to the session, you're like,

00:34:44   this is how it works, and then it's just down to the data.

00:34:47   Right, that's it.

00:34:48   - And so the data is, yeah, the code part of it

00:34:52   is ridiculous, people asking me to open source it,

00:34:55   you don't understand how little code there is here.

00:34:56   It is, it's incredible, especially because like,

00:34:59   the extensions that I added, all they do

00:35:02   is bring up Safari View Controller.

00:35:03   It's like, I don't even write the mini browser.

00:35:05   Like, there is so little code in the app.

00:35:08   Anybody can make these, the only limitation

00:35:10   is what the heck you use for the data,

00:35:13   for the rules of what to block.

00:35:14   That is the only hard part.

00:35:16   And the fact is there's tons of publicly available lists

00:35:21   and databases that you can use.

00:35:22   - And you can even like, I'm assuming this is the case,

00:35:25   and I expected to see more of these.

00:35:26   I haven't really looked into content blockers that deeply,

00:35:29   but couldn't you have it so that someone enters a URL

00:35:32   from which to pull data in a format that you specify?

00:35:35   Like it could be, like the app could come with no data

00:35:38   and say, "Well, this is a content blocker,

00:35:41   "and it works like this,

00:35:42   and it expects its data to be in this format,

00:35:44   so type a URL here of a file that I can pull

00:35:49   that will be in that format and I will parse it

00:35:51   and that will be your content blocker.

00:35:52   And maybe you'd have like a default one

00:35:53   that pulls like a content blocker

00:35:54   that blocks like two big ad networks or something like that.

00:35:57   Isn't that something you could do as well?

00:35:59   - Yeah, I mean, the data you have to give them

00:36:02   is just a list of rules expressed in JSON.

00:36:06   And so you can get that JSON from anywhere.

00:36:08   You can include it in the app,

00:36:10   you can build it on demand.

00:36:11   and the way I was doing it so you'd have dynamic rules.

00:36:14   It doesn't matter, you can get it from anywhere,

00:36:15   it doesn't matter.

00:36:16   - And you can make up your own format

00:36:18   that's just like type a bunch of host names

00:36:19   if you wanted to make a super simple one.

00:36:21   I'm actually surprised more people didn't do that

00:36:22   because that is really the least amount of work you can do.

00:36:24   You make a trivial application that uses one API

00:36:27   and maybe even you go the extra mile

00:36:28   like Marco didn't do the little extensions

00:36:30   that bring up the Safari View Controller.

00:36:32   - And I should just say right now,

00:36:34   I said there's not a lot of code in here.

00:36:36   A lot of people have said the right thing to do

00:36:39   is for me to open source it.

00:36:40   A, I disagree, I'm not obligated to open source it.

00:36:43   B, my arrangement with Ghostery is that I'm just giving it

00:36:47   to them and they can do whatever they want with it,

00:36:48   so it's no longer mine and that's fine.

00:36:52   The fact is if you want to reproduce this,

00:36:54   it is not a lot of work to make another app like this.

00:36:58   It really is very, very easy.

00:37:00   The only hard part is the data and that is very hard.

00:37:04   - And then you have to pay someone to make the icons

00:37:05   or you could shamelessly copy Marco's icons.

00:37:07   - No, I don't copy mine.

00:37:08   No, go to Louis Mantia.

00:37:09   I'm just saying like what the, what the, what the million ripoff applications, the same

00:37:14   kind of applications that put like pictures of Mario into their games and stuff, like

00:37:18   they'll just copy it exactly.

00:37:20   Yeah, if you want to get icons made, go to Parakeet, it's great. I'll put the link in

00:37:24   the show notes because they're awesome, they do great work. You can copy my design or don't

00:37:27   copy my design. Anyway, so the thing is, all summer I was thinking, you know, I should

00:37:38   really do this because I have like, A, it seems like there will be a market. Now again,

00:37:43   I was assuming from the beginning that it would be a very crowded market right from

00:37:47   day one and that somebody like Adblock Plus, like some well-known brand in ad blocking

00:37:54   that had way more exposure and visibility and user base than I could ever muster, that

00:38:00   they would be there on day one and would just own the whole market.

00:38:03   And why do you think they don't?

00:38:04   Are they just not paying attention to WWDC?

00:38:07   Just not like, you know, because we all knew content blockers were going to be a big thing,

00:38:11   but maybe that gets lost in the WWDC news?

00:38:14   You would think, I don't know.

00:38:16   I agree with you.

00:38:17   I totally thought that on day one of the store there would be a million content blockers

00:38:22   because they are so easy to make and there are so many places where you can get lists

00:38:26   from and you can do the thing, like I said, and not even include lists.

00:38:29   And when I found out you were making one, I'm like, well, that's pretty good because

00:38:34   in the sort of, even if there are tons of them coming out because they're easy to make,

00:38:38   how do you get yourself heard above the noise and people who are going to install iOS 9

00:38:43   on day one, like, you know, and who are into, who know that there are content blockers and

00:38:48   who are going to be looking for ones on day one, you have better access to them than a

00:38:52   lot of other things.

00:38:53   Maybe even better access to those people than a big company like the thing that makes Adblock

00:38:57   Plus because you travel in Mac nerd circles and Mac nerds read your blog and listen to your podcast or whatever. So

00:39:03   if your goal is to

00:39:05   Try to sell a lot of content blockers being there on day one with the content blocker with a name that people recognize

00:39:11   Was a good play and you know and it was it turns out

00:39:16   That you know, there was a good play a lot of people bought it

00:39:19   you ended up being number one paid app in the App Store and

00:39:22   And there weren't a lot of other ones too, and I don't quite understand why either, other

00:39:26   than maybe they were just, everyone else was asleep at the switch.

00:39:28   - Yeah, I mean like, at the Loop, they tried to, they were publishing this list that was

00:39:32   being updated, and even at, like on launch, there were only something like six entries

00:39:38   on it, and only like two or three of them were really getting any traction on the charts.

00:39:42   I mean, I was really surprised by how few there were.

00:39:45   Anyway, and by the way, going back, I think one of the reasons why the big companies like

00:39:49   like Adblock Plus didn't go there,

00:39:51   or haven't gone there yet,

00:39:52   is because iOS content blockers are very, very limited.

00:39:55   They don't have access to what's being browsed.

00:39:58   All you do is you provide a list of rules

00:40:01   and regular expressions to say block things that match this.

00:40:04   But you are not being,

00:40:06   your code is not being called on every page load,

00:40:10   or it's not being notified on what's being loaded.

00:40:12   And you can't do things like inject your own scripts,

00:40:15   do your own tracking from your site.

00:40:16   Like, you have no access to the way things are.

00:40:20   And these big companies, like Adlog Plus, like Ghostery,

00:40:24   they have, you know, the business arm of those companies

00:40:27   usually needs some kind of access or analytics

00:40:30   or tracking, humorously, of what you are,

00:40:35   what you're browsing and what things are being included

00:40:37   on this page, what ads are being shown,

00:40:39   what trackers are being loaded.

00:40:41   Almost all these big companies have arrangements like that

00:40:43   in some way, shape, or form.

00:40:45   Some of them are kind of questionable.

00:40:47   I think Ghosteries is pretty safe.

00:40:49   The way it works, I explain that in the post,

00:40:51   their business model I don't think

00:40:52   is something to be concerned about.

00:40:54   The whole acceptable ads thing on AppBlocks Plus

00:40:56   is I think more, a little squishier.

00:40:59   It doesn't matter.

00:41:01   Fact is, that I think is why these big companies

00:41:04   weren't there on day one.

00:41:06   - Actually, now that I think about it,

00:41:07   that actually kind of makes sense because,

00:41:10   I understand that their business model doesn't work on it,

00:41:11   but you're like, oh, well, why wouldn't they just

00:41:13   do exactly what you did and sell an app for $3 and make a whole bunch of money.

00:41:17   And I think the answer is probably that even though it's a lot of money for a one-person

00:41:21   developer for a big company, they're like, "Well, paid apps, they can make a little money

00:41:28   in a burst and then that's it.

00:41:29   There's no recurring revenue and we can't support our main business model."

00:41:33   So basically they're passing up what they consider to be chump change.

00:41:37   What is significant to one person, I don't know how many people work for these bigger

00:41:39   companies but presumably a lot more than one person, like that it just didn't seem worth

00:41:44   it to them.

00:41:45   So that might explain why the really big companies didn't do it.

00:41:48   They want, you know, they want huge numbers, they don't want like something that would

00:41:52   be significant to an individual, and especially if it's not recurring.

00:41:57   But then it's like why didn't someone else, another single person developer, just give

00:42:04   it a shot?

00:42:05   Like there were so few of them that when people were making lists on iOS 9 launch day, like

00:42:09   here are all the iOS 9 content blockers.

00:42:11   There was two things on the list

00:42:12   and yours wasn't even included

00:42:13   because of the five hour delay getting it on the store.

00:42:15   It was like Crystal, Purity.

00:42:17   - Purify. - Purify.

00:42:19   - Yeah, one blocker, blocker with an R.

00:42:22   - Yeah, they started trickling in,

00:42:23   but to be able to have them in a list

00:42:25   that fits on a single screen,

00:42:27   man, not a lot of people made content blockers.

00:42:29   - Right, so that was surprise number one

00:42:31   was that there were so few.

00:42:33   Surprise number two was that mine topped the chart,

00:42:37   at least the paid chart.

00:42:38   Crystal was free on day one and got,

00:42:40   I think the guy said it was like 100,000 installations

00:42:42   and then he made it paid on day two.

00:42:45   And I think now it's number one,

00:42:46   but anyway, doesn't matter.

00:42:48   And you're right, I mean, the kind of money

00:42:50   that was coming in, it's great for an individual.

00:42:53   If you have a big staff, it's questionable,

00:42:56   if it's worth going against your business interests.

00:43:00   - And then you'd have to support that.

00:43:01   Say you're a big, well-known company,

00:43:03   it's like, oh, I make my little burst of money from it

00:43:05   and maybe a little bit trickles in from it,

00:43:06   but it's not significant to my bottom line.

00:43:08   And then I have to continue to pay some contractor

00:43:11   to make sure the app continues to work

00:43:12   and make sure whatever server is serving the data file

00:43:15   that gets updated, it just might seem like a hassle

00:43:17   to the big companies.

00:43:18   - Exactly, so anyway, going through the summer,

00:43:21   as I'm thinking about building this,

00:43:22   and I really didn't spend a lot of time on it.

00:43:25   Most of the summer was spent thinking about how to do it.

00:43:28   And I formed the idea of the structure of the app,

00:43:32   these extensions it would have,

00:43:33   how that would work and everything, and that'd be great.

00:43:35   I wasn't really writing a lot of code until kind of the middle of the summer when I started

00:43:39   playing with the various block lists that exist out there and various hosts files. I

00:43:45   started emailing the people who maintained them, asking if I could license them for use

00:43:48   in a paid app because most of them are for non-commercial use only, so you have to get

00:43:53   a separate license. So I started that kind of negotiation and discussions. But the original

00:43:58   version of it that I made that I was running for at least a few weeks over the summer on

00:44:04   on my own phone, it was much simpler.

00:44:07   All it did was block all third-party JavaScript.

00:44:12   That actually works surprisingly well.

00:44:15   Like, one rule, just block all third-party JavaScript.

00:44:19   I'm not entirely sure I would recommend that people do this,

00:44:22   but if your main goal, if you're willing to tolerate

00:44:25   a lot of things being broken, and you're willing to go

00:44:29   through the process of making the exception,

00:44:30   or whitelisting, or opening up without content blockers,

00:44:33   If you're going to go through that process a lot,

00:44:36   that gets you most of the way there.

00:44:38   I would say just blocking all third-party JavaScript

00:44:42   gets you 80% of the way there.

00:44:44   (laughing)

00:44:45   That's really, it's kind of sad how much that gets you there.

00:44:48   And all these big databases and everything,

00:44:52   their strengths are mainly in getting it more to the point

00:44:56   where it blocks the ads without making anything break

00:44:58   or with making very few things break.

00:45:01   But if you just wanna block all the ads

00:45:02   and occasionally have to open something up

00:45:05   in the unresearched view, just block all JavaScript,

00:45:08   that works fine.

00:45:08   And so, all summer I was doing that,

00:45:10   and towards the reason this problem attracted me

00:45:13   in the first place, again, was because I knew

00:45:16   there was gonna be a market for it, I wanted to use it,

00:45:19   and I had the idea of how to do it my way.

00:45:21   I thought, I did think at the time,

00:45:25   you know, I wonder if I'm gonna get in trouble

00:45:28   for making an ad blocker, like I wonder if people

00:45:30   are gonna get mad at me if I make an ad blocker.

00:45:32   I did think about that, but in the excitement

00:45:35   of solving this problem in a way that I thought

00:45:37   was very good, like I was very proud of this work.

00:45:41   And so in the process of like kinda ramping up

00:45:43   and seeing how it turned out, seeing how good it was

00:45:46   on my phone, even with just that JavaScript rule,

00:45:48   I kinda got lost.

00:45:51   The idea of I wonder what people are going to think

00:45:55   and if anybody's gonna be mad about this,

00:45:57   that got pushed to the back of my head

00:45:59   because I was so driven by and happy

00:46:02   about how nicely the app was turning out.

00:46:05   And so I was focused on totally the wrong things.

00:46:08   I was focused on, I'm very proud of this nice app I made

00:46:13   that is making me very happy on my phone,

00:46:16   and I sent it to some friends later on,

00:46:18   and they, it was making them very happy,

00:46:20   so it's like, I was so caught up in that,

00:46:23   that I didn't go back and rethink,

00:46:26   like, you know, maybe I should do this.

00:46:27   And then what happened was,

00:46:29   in an effort to try to make it better,

00:46:32   'cause at first, again, I said,

00:46:34   running it for me with just the no third-party

00:46:36   JavaScript rule, that worked okay,

00:46:38   but I wasn't necessarily sure that that was gonna be

00:46:41   a good enough product to attach my name to,

00:46:44   because it's like, this is really great if you're a nerd

00:46:46   and you don't care about reloading a lot of things

00:46:49   a couple times to make them work properly.

00:46:51   So that's when I started looking at licensing

00:46:55   one of these other databases, and I couldn't find a good one

00:46:59   until I tried Ghosteries, and then I tried that,

00:47:02   it was amazing, so I contacted them,

00:47:04   I didn't think they would even say yes,

00:47:06   and then they did say yes, and it turns out

00:47:07   they're actually really nice and easy to work with,

00:47:09   and really fast to get things together,

00:47:10   which I was not expecting any of these things

00:47:12   from a company as big as them,

00:47:14   but they were really, really easy and nice to work with.

00:47:18   So I worked with them, and we met,

00:47:21   their office is right here in New York,

00:47:22   So we met in person, we arranged and we did the whole database, the contract, everything

00:47:27   else.

00:47:28   So then my mind, for those last few weeks before the launch, as this was all getting

00:47:33   in place, my mind was all about that.

00:47:36   And about like, "Okay, now we're on this train, this has inertia, we're going, this

00:47:40   is going to happen."

00:47:41   Once I signed that contract, I'm like, "This is going to happen."

00:47:43   And I never went back to re-evaluate, "Should I do this?

00:47:47   Do I want to be the person who owns the ad blocker?

00:47:52   Do I want to be in charge of an ad blocker?

00:47:55   I stopped evaluating that.

00:47:57   Once I got on this train of like,

00:48:01   this app is really good and now I have someone else's data

00:48:03   in it and I deal with them to keep going with it

00:48:05   and it's even better with their data.

00:48:07   I was so excited about how good the app was,

00:48:09   I never went back and rethought that initial decision

00:48:12   to even make it in the first place.

00:48:13   Also, honestly, I made the same mistakes with the magazine.

00:48:18   Which, that was a much less interesting story.

00:48:20   But when I made the magazine, I was so tied up

00:48:23   with the idea of making this cool magazine app

00:48:26   that looked really nice and worked well

00:48:27   and was way better than all the other newsstand apps

00:48:29   that I forgot to really truly evaluate

00:48:33   what it would be like to have to publish an issue

00:48:35   of a magazine every two weeks indefinitely.

00:48:38   And that's a lot of work.

00:48:40   And it's really hard to make the economics work.

00:48:43   And I kind of brushed those aside

00:48:44   'cause I wanted to make this cool app.

00:48:46   And so I made the same mistake here,

00:48:47   with different consequences, different downsides,

00:48:51   where I was so enthralled with the app,

00:48:54   with the technical side of it,

00:48:56   that I didn't adequately think about, you know,

00:49:00   so I didn't think ahead to be like,

00:49:02   all right, in six months, do I want to be spending

00:49:05   half or more of my time being the guy

00:49:08   who runs this big ad blocker?

00:49:09   - Casey, this is where you jump in

00:49:11   with the Jurassic Park quote

00:49:12   that you have off the top of your head.

00:49:15   - I do?

00:49:16   - Marko, do you have it?

00:49:17   - No.

00:49:18   - The chat room will have it in about seven seconds.

00:49:20   Continue.

00:49:21   - That he spared no expense?

00:49:23   - No.

00:49:24   That's good though, great movie.

00:49:25   - All right, well, sorry.

00:49:27   I've got nothing.

00:49:28   - Chat room's got it.

00:49:29   - Mark was so preoccupied about whether or not

00:49:31   he could make an app,

00:49:32   they didn't stop to think whether he should.

00:49:34   - Right, exactly.

00:49:35   Or rather, I stopped really early on to think

00:49:37   and then I was like, well, let me try it.

00:49:39   - So when you thought about it before you got into

00:49:41   like the whole, I'm making deals with Ghostery,

00:49:44   I'm happy with the app,

00:49:45   whatever, but when you thought about it before that,

00:49:46   Before all of that, you said,

00:49:48   "I'm gonna make a content blocker."

00:49:49   What did you, what was your thinking like?

00:49:52   'Cause you gave yourself the green light.

00:49:54   You thought about it very early on

00:49:57   before you decided you were gonna do this,

00:49:58   and you said, "You know what I am gonna do?"

00:49:59   Was it based mostly on the fact that you wanted to run one?

00:50:04   This is before anyone had run one.

00:50:05   You hadn't made one, they didn't exist,

00:50:07   but you're like, "I want to run one."

00:50:08   Is that why you're making, you know?

00:50:11   Like, take us back to that thinking

00:50:12   before you got caught up in sort of

00:50:14   the momentum of making the app.

00:50:16   - Right, I mean, I absolutely want to run one.

00:50:18   As soon as I had the very early prototype

00:50:20   of the app on my phone with the just

00:50:22   no third party JavaScript rule,

00:50:24   as soon as I had that on my phone

00:50:25   and saw the massive difference it made in browsing speed,

00:50:29   and also, I really do object to tons

00:50:32   of web advertising and tracking.

00:50:34   I think what the web publishing world has done,

00:50:38   and I blame the publishers.

00:50:40   A lot of people, you know,

00:50:41   I don't wanna get too far into this,

00:50:42   'cause if you wanna hear more about the, you know,

00:50:45   why this debate is so complicated.

00:50:46   This week's episode of Back to Work

00:50:48   is really good on that topic.

00:50:49   Merlin and Dan talked at length about this whole thing

00:50:52   and covered a lot of angles.

00:50:53   'Cause it really is a very complex problem.

00:50:56   It is not a simple yes/no kind of thing.

00:50:59   They covered a lot of it.

00:51:00   But just briefly, I do wanna make clear,

00:51:04   I'm gonna still use an ad blocker.

00:51:06   And I'm still going to advocate that people block things

00:51:10   that they don't think are acceptable.

00:51:12   What changed in my mind and what really started bothering me

00:51:16   is that I don't want to be the person in charge

00:51:20   of making this decision for everybody.

00:51:23   I don't wanna be the enabler necessarily.

00:51:25   I don't wanna be the arbiter of what is good

00:51:27   and what is bad 'cause the problem is,

00:51:29   you say block, first of all,

00:51:32   I wanna clear up right up front the idea of,

00:51:36   well, I just wanna block tracking but not ads.

00:51:40   that's BS because ads are tracking.

00:51:43   Like you can't, while there are very, very few ads,

00:51:48   like The Deck recently published their new privacy policy

00:51:51   where they explicitly say,

00:51:53   "We will not do any tracking from The Deck.

00:51:55   "We're disturbing these static images," or whatever.

00:51:57   But that is really,

00:51:58   there are almost no advertising networks

00:52:01   that will claim that, that will guarantee that,

00:52:03   and that actually do that.

00:52:05   So the fact is, if you are saying,

00:52:08   I want to block tracking but not ads.

00:52:10   That is not really an enforceable thing.

00:52:14   In order to block almost any tracking,

00:52:17   you have to block almost all ads.

00:52:19   That's simple, it's simple as that.

00:52:21   You have to block ads to block tracking.

00:52:24   Furthermore, if you really want to block more tracking,

00:52:28   you also have to block things like social embeds

00:52:30   because Facebook and Twitter and Google+,

00:52:32   all these things, Amazon, all these links,

00:52:34   these things that are embedded in people's sites,

00:52:36   plus one this on Facebook,

00:52:38   thumbs up this on Twitter, whatever.

00:52:39   I know those are backwards, I don't care.

00:52:41   All those things are also tracking

00:52:42   because the social companies are some of the biggest

00:52:45   tracking companies in the world.

00:52:47   So you also have to block social embeds.

00:52:50   And what about embedded YouTube videos?

00:52:52   Google's tracking those.

00:52:54   Like, there's a lot, if you really wanna block tracking,

00:52:57   there's a lot you have to block.

00:52:59   So the fact is, this is very, very complicated.

00:53:01   It's a very much a gray area,

00:53:03   but you can't have it both ways.

00:53:06   If you say you object to being tracked

00:53:10   or you say you object to bad ads

00:53:12   or you try to whittle it down and say,

00:53:15   well, I wanna block ads but not yours, yours are good.

00:53:19   It becomes very, very hard to actually do that,

00:53:22   to actually manage that because it's usually,

00:53:24   usually you're asking for something that isn't possible

00:53:27   or you're asking for a distinction

00:53:28   that doesn't really exist.

00:53:29   - Had you thought about this angle at all

00:53:32   before embarking on creating the application, as in when I make this application, when I

00:53:40   use it, I'll set it up so I like how it works, but then I will sort of de facto be, even

00:53:46   if it's just by the defaults that I include in the application, be deciding what everyone

00:53:51   who uses my application sees on the web, and therefore I am sort of like the linchpin of

00:53:57   of some subset of the number of iOS users,

00:53:59   like Marco controls whether this group of users

00:54:03   sees this kind of ad on this site,

00:54:05   because he sets the default for his application

00:54:07   that happens to be populated.

00:54:08   Had you thought about that at all,

00:54:09   or had it not measured your mind?

00:54:11   Or if you did think about it,

00:54:11   how did you think that was gonna shake out?

00:54:13   - I really didn't think that much about these distinctions.

00:54:19   The only thing I thought of when I was making the app was,

00:54:22   Ghostery's data is tagged with,

00:54:26   This is one of the reasons why

00:54:27   GhostReach database is so good.

00:54:28   You can see this when you use the desktop plugin.

00:54:30   Each of the entries is tagged, so it'll say

00:54:32   like what it blocks on this page, and you can see,

00:54:34   oh, it blocked, you know, Google page sense or whatever,

00:54:37   ads, comma, ads, comma, tracker.

00:54:40   It blocked the deck, ads.

00:54:41   It blocked Adobe Omniture, tracker.

00:54:43   And it tags each entry with whether it's an ad,

00:54:46   a tracker, a social widget, font, comment,

00:54:48   you know, whatever the categories it has.

00:54:51   So I could have very easily made an option

00:54:53   right in the app that said, you know,

00:54:56   check mark, block ads, check mark, block trackers,

00:54:59   and have you toggle those separately from each other.

00:55:01   But again, I think that's a false distinction

00:55:03   because the fact is, if you say you don't wanna be tracked,

00:55:06   you have to block ads, simple as that.

00:55:09   So anyway, so I really hadn't thought

00:55:13   about the reality of me being the center.

00:55:14   I thought, you know, up until a few weeks

00:55:17   before the thing launched, I was just doing

00:55:19   my JavaScript thing and didn't have

00:55:21   any distinction whatsoever.

00:55:22   And that's, I think, almost more defensible.

00:55:26   If you say third-party JavaScript is a problem,

00:55:29   because the reality is, most of the problems

00:55:33   with web tracking and creepiness and bad ads,

00:55:37   if you just block third-party JavaScript,

00:55:40   that is a very defensible, practical thing

00:55:43   that you should consider doing,

00:55:45   because that is kind of why these trackers

00:55:48   on the web can be so powerful,

00:55:49   because you can embed a script tag on millions of different publisher sites and your server

00:55:56   is called from the user's browser and you're able to run code, arbitrary code, on the user's

00:56:02   browser and have access to the DOM, the browser, the hardware access that's now being exposed

00:56:06   through all the web APIs. All this crazy stuff you have access to through these third party

00:56:11   embeds, you as the creepy ad company or whatever, and you can track everything. And the fact

00:56:15   is if people saw what is possible, like if you're on the fence about whether you want

00:56:21   to block tracking, if you see like the kind of, it is so creepy what publishers are able

00:56:30   to see. They're basically watching, they can watch an individual's every move. They

00:56:34   can see when you scroll, they can see where your mouse cursor is, they can see what you

00:56:37   hover over and how long you hover over it and how long you look at something. They can

00:56:40   see everything. If you block cookies or if you block third party, you know, third party

00:56:45   from other sites or whatever,

00:56:46   there's almost nothing you can do,

00:56:47   including setting the do not track header,

00:56:50   there's almost nothing you can do to prevent them

00:56:52   from identifying you uniquely.

00:56:55   Because even if you disable cookies and everything else,

00:56:58   they can identify what your phone's battery capacity is

00:57:01   through the new battery level APIs.

00:57:03   They can set different kinds of cookies through Flash

00:57:06   or through databases, WebDB kind of stuff.

00:57:09   There's so many, they can just analyze

00:57:12   your browser's request headers

00:57:14   And just combining that with your IP address,

00:57:18   and they can generally get pretty unique with that.

00:57:20   I mean, it is so easy to track you

00:57:24   and to uniquely identify you between multiple sites.

00:57:29   The only thing you can really do

00:57:31   is block third-party embeds.

00:57:33   Now, and so let me get to what Gerb just said in the chat.

00:57:37   So what if publishers then just proxy the JavaScript

00:57:40   through their servers?

00:57:42   Good question.

00:57:44   So first of all, and this is a whole topic

00:57:46   that we can get to of like, you know,

00:57:48   what happens if all this ad blocking does become so big

00:57:51   that publishers have to change where they do things

00:57:53   and, you know, the things they change to might be worse.

00:57:56   And in some ways they will be.

00:57:57   But the major thing holding this back right now

00:58:00   is ease and trust.

00:58:04   Publishers usually don't have big tech teams

00:58:07   and whatever tech teams they're doing are busy.

00:58:10   They're busy doing the crazy CMS stuff,

00:58:13   trying to accommodate some crazy stuff

00:58:15   the sales people sold on Advertiser

00:58:16   for like a one-off kind of thing.

00:58:18   That's what the tech teams are busy doing at big publishers

00:58:21   and they're usually not very big teams.

00:58:22   So to have those tech teams do any custom work

00:58:26   that involves running more things through their software

00:58:29   and through their servers and through their domain names,

00:58:32   that's unlikely to happen in a lot of publishers.

00:58:35   Secondly, the issue of trust.

00:58:38   And the fact is the advertisers and the publishers

00:58:42   and the visitors, we all hate each other.

00:58:44   (laughing)

00:58:46   The advertisers don't like the publishers either,

00:58:48   because publishers try to rip them off.

00:58:50   And so, the advertisers don't usually trust the publishers

00:58:54   to say how many people viewed something.

00:58:57   If you proxied everything through the publisher's server,

00:59:00   then the advertiser, or the advertising network,

00:59:03   has no way to verify that those were real hits

00:59:05   that came from real unique people.

00:59:07   The publisher could fake that data back to the advertiser,

00:59:10   and enough people would that you might get,

00:59:13   you might get like the big sites could agree to do that,

00:59:16   like New York Times could do that,

00:59:18   but you wouldn't see something like Google AdSense

00:59:20   where like this common thing that's on tons of sites,

00:59:22   you wouldn't see something like that

00:59:23   going to that kind of model because it just,

00:59:25   it couldn't be trustworthy back to the advertiser.

00:59:26   So that's not gonna happen.

00:59:28   Anyway, going back before I get too far

00:59:31   into the post-release thing, so I released this thing,

00:59:34   not thinking it would be a problem,

00:59:38   And then as the success rolled in and as I started,

00:59:42   as I hit number one, and as money started rolling in,

00:59:46   big money started rolling in,

00:59:48   I started getting a lot of attention

00:59:51   that I really was not prepared to get.

00:59:53   And I didn't want to be the face of this war.

00:59:57   You know, I felt, and I used a war metaphor

01:00:00   in my polling post, and I do wanna recognize

01:00:03   that I'm using these metaphors extremely lightly,

01:00:05   because this is all very much first world problems,

01:00:08   and this is nothing like what real war is.

01:00:11   So I really want to use these metaphors extremely loosely

01:00:14   and with that giant disclaimer ahead of it.

01:00:16   But I almost felt like I was an arms dealer.

01:00:19   You know, like there's this war going on

01:00:22   and these two sides really don't like each other

01:00:24   and are trying to do whatever they can to disagree

01:00:27   and a lot of casualties happening

01:00:29   and I was the arms dealer that was enabling that.

01:00:32   And yeah, if I pull my app, somebody else will step in.

01:00:36   They already did.

01:00:37   somebody else can step in and can become the arms dealer.

01:00:39   So it's gonna happen anyway, let them be the arms dealer.

01:00:43   I didn't want to do that,

01:00:44   I didn't want to be in that position.

01:00:45   And I just, I didn't expect the scale of it.

01:00:50   I didn't adequately question how I would feel about it,

01:00:54   you know, late enough in the process.

01:00:56   I was so taken by how great the app turned out

01:00:59   and how great the Go through Data Ace was working

01:01:02   that I didn't put enough thought into

01:01:04   do I really want to be doing this.

01:01:06   And then all the requests started rolling in of,

01:01:08   well, you know, this is really terrible for everybody,

01:01:11   but if you just make these changes,

01:01:13   and everybody had different changes,

01:01:14   and they were all very complex.

01:01:16   And I started, it was going to be that

01:01:19   Peace was going to,

01:01:20   it was going to have to replace Overcast completely.

01:01:24   It was, I was no longer going to be a podcast app maker.

01:01:27   I would have had to be a full-time ad-blocking app maker,

01:01:32   dealing with the full-time realities

01:01:34   of being in that position, of being that arms dealer,

01:01:38   being that arbiter of what is acceptable and what's not.

01:01:41   And the fact is, I don't know anything

01:01:44   about that business at all.

01:01:47   I've only even used an ad blocker

01:01:49   for like three or four months.

01:01:50   I've barely even used them for that long.

01:01:53   I was totally unprepared to be in this role.

01:01:57   And once I was faced with the reality

01:01:59   of what this role is like, I realized,

01:02:02   oh, I really don't like this.

01:02:03   this is really uncomfortable.

01:02:05   I was having trouble sleeping for those,

01:02:07   I mean it was only a few nights before I pulled it,

01:02:11   but I was having trouble sleeping,

01:02:12   I was really kind of upset all day, all night.

01:02:15   I mean it was, I really did not know what to do.

01:02:18   I just realized that I had gotten in way too deep.

01:02:22   I was way in over my head.

01:02:24   I had not thought it through enough,

01:02:26   and I had found myself in a very powerful position

01:02:32   that I really didn't want that power,

01:02:36   in an industry that I really didn't want to be in,

01:02:39   being the face of a war

01:02:42   that I really did not want to be the face of.

01:02:45   That's what happened.

01:02:46   - So, just to ask the question that a lot of people

01:02:49   have asked on Twitter and in the chat room,

01:02:51   even though I know what the answer is,

01:02:53   was the fact that peace blocked ads on Marco.org

01:02:57   a factor in any of your decisions?

01:02:59   - No, I don't make that much money from those ads.

01:03:01   It's fine.

01:03:02   No, not at all.

01:03:03   And it does block at them, right?

01:03:04   Oh yeah.

01:03:05   You run peace on Marco.org, your website, it blocks the ads on it.

01:03:08   And you know that, and it did not affect any of your decisions.

01:03:11   I thought it would be a massive dick move if I didn't.

01:03:13   Right.

01:03:14   I mean, that's maybe because if you know, like, all the different things that you do,

01:03:20   you make overcasts, you've got the podcast, you've got a website, and they all kind of

01:03:24   contribute to the stuff that you do.

01:03:26   But it has seemed to me in recent years that your website, although it used to be much

01:03:31   more important, is now less important.

01:03:34   So maybe people who only know your sort of public face from – I mean didn't you stop

01:03:38   selling sponsorships for the website recently?

01:03:41   Like a year ago or more.

01:03:43   It was a while ago.

01:03:44   Anyway, yeah.

01:03:45   I think people have the wrong impression and think of you – think of like Marco.org as

01:03:50   the same thing as like DerekFireball.net as in like Marco.org is the main thing and then

01:03:54   and you do these podcasts on the side

01:03:55   and you make software on the side or whatever.

01:03:57   But at various times,

01:03:58   the balance between the things you do has changed.

01:04:00   But anyway.

01:04:01   - I barely even write on my side anymore.

01:04:03   - Tell me about it.

01:04:04   - Yeah.

01:04:05   Yeah, you, you're even worse than me.

01:04:07   - I'm winning.

01:04:08   - You are.

01:04:09   - I'm winning.

01:04:09   - No, but I mean, yeah, the fact is,

01:04:11   if the deck canceled my membership over this,

01:04:16   that wouldn't have,

01:04:17   threatening to do that wouldn't have been enough,

01:04:18   which they didn't,

01:04:19   but threatening to do that would not have been enough

01:04:22   for me to make this decision.

01:04:23   I made this decision with almost no input.

01:04:25   I asked almost nobody.

01:04:27   I did actually run it, a lot of the theories are

01:04:29   that John Gruber somehow sat on me to force me to do this.

01:04:32   The only person who knew before I pulled the app

01:04:36   that I was going to pull the app,

01:04:37   besides Ghostery and my wife,

01:04:39   the only other person that I told was John Gruber.

01:04:42   And because he's a smart guy.

01:04:45   And so I ran up by him as kind of a sanity check.

01:04:49   Like, am I totally insane here?

01:04:51   And I didn't want to ask a lot of people,

01:04:54   but I did ask him, 'cause he has a lot of thoughts

01:04:56   on this issue, and he said that I should keep it up.

01:05:01   He told me to leave it, like he said, don't do it.

01:05:05   He said, wait, you're being rash, think this through,

01:05:08   you probably don't want to do this.

01:05:10   So the theory that he somehow got to me,

01:05:13   I don't know, like a horse head on the bed,

01:05:15   (laughs)

01:05:16   the theory that he got to me is completely wrong.

01:05:18   The fact is, I made the decision before talking to him about it.

01:05:22   I ran it by him.

01:05:23   He told me, "Don't do it," and then I did it anyway.

01:05:27   So that's what happened.

01:05:30   And you know, once, and Ghostery was great.

01:05:31   I mean, I thought that was going to be a problem going to them and being like, "Hey, never

01:05:35   mind."

01:05:36   You know, right after all this.

01:05:38   But they made their own post.

01:05:39   I don't want to speak for them, but we were all on the same page.

01:05:41   It was fine.

01:05:42   And they were, again, so incredibly easy to work with.

01:05:46   Like, "Yeah, okay."

01:05:48   It was so easy.

01:05:49   That's what happened before and during.

01:05:53   And so I don't know how much I wanna talk about

01:05:57   what I think about ads today.

01:05:59   I mean, I already ranted about how ads and trackers

01:06:01   are the same thing, 'cause they are.

01:06:02   I will say that I think the biggest problem

01:06:06   that web publishing faces is that the things they're doing,

01:06:11   hmm, how do I say this nicely?

01:06:14   I would say journalists are kind of like,

01:06:17   I've had this problem with academics as well,

01:06:20   and probably because I was a terrible student

01:06:22   and had generally terrible experiences

01:06:24   with schooling growing up,

01:06:26   but academia puts itself in a really pious position,

01:06:31   and some of that is deserved, but a lot of it isn't.

01:06:35   In a lot of ways, they're just people

01:06:37   with the same flaws as everyone else.

01:06:39   The role they serve is in some part special and necessary

01:06:42   and in some part just a business.

01:06:44   And so journalism, I think you can say

01:06:47   all the same things about.

01:06:49   It is, it does serve a critical role in society, sometimes.

01:06:54   Most of the journalism taking place today

01:06:57   is not providing value really,

01:06:59   or not providing enough value.

01:07:01   It's really a hard business,

01:07:04   because if you're in the business,

01:07:05   like I thought it was kind of ironic,

01:07:09   forgive me if I'm misusing that word, the ironic police,

01:07:12   but it was kind of ironic that my post

01:07:17   in which I said that I was pulling the app,

01:07:21   somebody screenshotted on Techmeme that it was,

01:07:24   there were like a hundred other posts from news sites

01:07:29   that were basically just rewrites of it,

01:07:31   just valueless, bad rewrites of it.

01:07:34   That didn't even get the right point out of it, of course.

01:07:38   My experience with journalists personally

01:07:40   has been mostly mediocre to negative.

01:07:43   I have said many times in the past

01:07:45   that talking to journalists is like talking to the police.

01:07:48   Ideally don't.

01:07:49   They have different goals than you

01:07:52   and they have lots of incentives

01:07:54   that might be misaligned from your incentives

01:07:56   and that you, in my experience,

01:07:58   I've been very frequently misrepresented

01:08:01   and I've had my quotes very frequently used

01:08:03   out of context and against me

01:08:04   or as weapons to fight a cause that I wasn't representing.

01:08:08   So I've had a lot of mediocre experiences

01:08:11   or negative experiences with journalists

01:08:13   because there's this attitude in the business

01:08:16   that they are untouchable,

01:08:19   that they must be automatically supported by society

01:08:24   somehow that what they're doing has infinite value.

01:08:26   And the fact is then, I write this post

01:08:28   and I see the hundred useless rewrites

01:08:31   that most sites published about.

01:08:33   I mean, some sites had original content

01:08:35   that was interesting and interesting perspectives.

01:08:37   Most didn't.

01:08:39   There's a massive oversupply of journalism,

01:08:43   of publishing on the web.

01:08:45   Ad blockers have existed for a long time.

01:08:48   People have been blocking ads for a long time.

01:08:50   Ad rates have been going down for a long time,

01:08:54   especially display ads on websites.

01:08:56   Design decisions have been being made by data

01:09:00   for a long time.

01:09:01   There's this infectious culture of data people

01:09:04   that drives me nuts.

01:09:05   The analytics and data,

01:09:07   That, all those things are euphemisms for tracking.

01:09:11   And so this culture drives major decisions at publishers,

01:09:15   including what analytics they're going to have

01:09:17   on their site, what trackers they're going to embed,

01:09:19   how they're going to track you,

01:09:20   what they're going to track,

01:09:21   who they're going to sell your data to.

01:09:23   This culture of we're gonna track everything, that's okay,

01:09:27   we're gonna make all of our design decisions

01:09:29   based on data and A/B testing and everything,

01:09:32   that has infected the industry so, so badly.

01:09:35   And by the way, all this applies to apps as well,

01:09:38   but what apps can do is different,

01:09:39   and then we'll get to that possibly some other time.

01:09:41   The combination of the data people

01:09:44   plus publishing just being so hyper-competitive,

01:09:49   so over-supplied, and ad rates being so bad

01:09:53   leads to an environment where publishers are just desperate

01:09:58   because, as I said, the economics are hard.

01:10:00   They're really hard.

01:10:02   If you have a staff of more than zero,

01:10:06   if you're just yourself working,

01:10:08   a lot of people can make money themselves enough to survive.

01:10:12   But once you start supporting a staff,

01:10:14   like if you're big enough to have an HR department,

01:10:17   I think that's a good barrier.

01:10:19   If you're so big like that

01:10:20   and you're trying to make it in publishing,

01:10:21   it's really hard to do.

01:10:24   This environment, this atmosphere of difficult economics,

01:10:27   decreasing ad rates, it's creating this environment

01:10:30   where bad behavior, like embedding tons of trackers

01:10:33   and doing creepy things to your data,

01:10:35   is only going to increase.

01:10:37   It is prevalent now, it's only going to increase,

01:10:40   and the fact that, or the idea that journalism

01:10:44   needs to be supported by society no matter what,

01:10:47   despite all of this garbage,

01:10:49   I don't think is a valid argument,

01:10:50   and I think that there's really fault on both sides here.

01:10:54   The attitude from publishers seems to be

01:10:56   that they are helpless in this fight,

01:10:57   that, well, it's not our problem,

01:10:59   it's what the advertisers do and we have to use them,

01:11:02   then that's your problem, you know?

01:11:04   Then that's your fault, you are choosing to do this,

01:11:07   you are selling me to them.

01:11:09   So this is a hard problem.

01:11:13   It is not going to be solved anytime soon.

01:11:16   It's as much ad blockers fault as the decline

01:11:20   of the music sales were Napster's fault.

01:11:23   That's a contributing factor,

01:11:25   but it's not really the root problem.

01:11:28   And I think any discussion of ad blockers

01:11:32   that comes over the next months and years

01:11:34   as the economics of the surrounding world

01:11:36   continue to crumble,

01:11:39   a lot of it's gonna be blamed on ad blockers,

01:11:40   but the reality is it's much more complicated than that.

01:11:43   And I really think journalists and publishing companies

01:11:46   are looking at it completely the wrong way.

01:11:48   They're looking at it really in a way

01:11:49   that buries their heads in the sand.

01:11:51   They're saying, "Well, it's your fault.

01:11:52   "You're blocking our ads," whatever.

01:11:54   The real problem is them.

01:11:55   The real problem is that they are adding things to their sites and tracking things and shoving

01:12:01   in ads and arbitrary code. They are allowing themselves and advertisers to do really creepy

01:12:07   things in the name of money and data. That's problem number one. Problem number two is

01:12:13   that many of them are doing work that they assume has value, that might have less value

01:12:20   they think. Like taking my blog post and rewriting it for your audience, how much value does

01:12:27   that have really? Like are you adding much there? Should people be paying you for that?

01:12:32   I don't know. I think they're in trouble. I think they're really looking at it the

01:12:37   wrong way. And I don't want to seem like too anti-publisher here because there's

01:12:41   a lot of them that are really good. But there's also a lot of them that are going to be having

01:12:45   a really hard next few years, and I think they're gonna

01:12:49   blame ad blockers, but the reality is this was happening

01:12:54   with or without ad blockers.

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01:15:53   - What did you learn from all this, from the peace thing?

01:15:55   And I mean this not to beat you up,

01:15:57   but clearly this did not go the way you thought

01:16:00   it was going to go, and clearly--

01:16:02   - It was a disaster.

01:16:03   - Right, and I think what a lot of people lost sight over

01:16:07   you pulled "Peace" was that that—it was going to be a long-term fix, but it was a

01:16:16   short-term, increased disaster. Like, you were not making things easier on yourself,

01:16:23   at least for the first few days, by pulling "Peace." And I'm curious, you know, what

01:16:29   did you learn from this experience, and maybe even from the magazine? You've made a few

01:16:33   parallels with that experience. What have you learned?

01:16:36   I'd like to say that I learned not to tackle apps

01:16:39   without thinking them through,

01:16:41   but the reality is I'm probably gonna make that mistake

01:16:43   again in the future.

01:16:44   (laughs)

01:16:45   I'm just gonna hopefully pick better ones.

01:16:47   What can I say?

01:16:49   I like making stuff and I got carried away,

01:16:51   in both of those cases, I got carried away with,

01:16:54   you know, first of all,

01:16:55   underestimating how much work they would be,

01:16:57   and then second of all, not thinking forward enough,

01:16:59   like, do I really want to be this thing full-time?

01:17:04   because that can and probably will happen

01:17:06   to a lot of these things.

01:17:08   I thought peace was gonna be a really simple thing

01:17:12   that, especially since I outsourced the data to Ghostery,

01:17:15   I thought it would be effectively no upkeep.

01:17:19   I did not think it was going to do that well.

01:17:22   I didn't think I'd become the face of ad blocking,

01:17:24   and I didn't think through what it meant,

01:17:27   what it would mean for it to be widely used,

01:17:31   and what it would mean to put myself in that position

01:17:33   and whether I wanted to be in that position.

01:17:35   And the reality is, I'm not made for that.

01:17:39   I'm not made for this business.

01:17:40   I'm made for occasionally talking about it on podcasts,

01:17:44   but I'm not made for actually being in it,

01:17:49   for being involved, for being a major decision maker,

01:17:51   for the politics, for the pressure,

01:17:53   for possibly being sued.

01:17:55   I mean, we don't know.

01:17:56   I mean, ad blockers could get sued.

01:17:58   There's all these things that could happen.

01:17:59   And I didn't want to be in that business,

01:18:03   that I just wanted to make a cool app

01:18:05   and then get back to my podcast app.

01:18:08   And the fact is it isn't that simple.

01:18:10   And success makes it especially not that simple.

01:18:13   - So you could have done that, like physically speaking,

01:18:16   it could have been no upkeep,

01:18:17   'cause you had to deal with the ghost tree,

01:18:18   you could have made the app,

01:18:19   you could have never modified the application again

01:18:21   except to keep it running,

01:18:22   and just continue to serve the ghost tree.

01:18:24   Like that was a possibility.

01:18:26   It's not as if there was something specifically

01:18:29   about this application that required

01:18:30   a tremendous amount of upkeep, right?

01:18:33   - Yeah, it's more that I thought the problem

01:18:35   was way simpler than it really was.

01:18:37   I really thought that just having this master on/off switch

01:18:41   and a handful of options below it would be enough

01:18:44   to solve the problem, and the reality is that's not enough.

01:18:47   Like any app, I mean, when I made Bugshot,

01:18:50   whenever it was, two years ago?

01:18:51   Yeah, two years ago, when I made Bugshot,

01:18:53   I thought the same thing,

01:18:54   that this is gonna be a simple little thing,

01:18:55   I'm gonna spend a week on it,

01:18:58   and then I'll use it, my friends will use it,

01:19:01   maybe I'll sell a couple thousand copies.

01:19:02   And in Bugshot's case, that's exactly what happened.

01:19:06   But even on day one, it was like, well,

01:19:09   gotta fix this bug, this feature request,

01:19:11   it's coming in a lot, I really should address that,

01:19:13   it wouldn't be that much work.

01:19:14   And so it starts eating more and more time,

01:19:17   and eating more and more of your attention.

01:19:19   The idea of just releasing an app out there,

01:19:22   and that's the end of it,

01:19:24   is something that I keep falling into.

01:19:26   That is one of the biggest lessons I have to learn here,

01:19:28   is like, when I had these little ideas

01:19:30   for little side apps, it's very hard to make those stay little side apps, to really

01:19:39   make them not take that long, not take away a lot of time from my primary app, which right

01:19:43   now is Overcast, and I expected to be that for a long time. I keep thinking I can do

01:19:49   more than I really can in a day or at a time. That is the main problem here. I have a lot

01:19:55   of things I want to do. I have a lot of ideas I want to work on, but I really need to first

01:20:01   question A) how much time they will actually take, probably way more than I think of ongoing

01:20:08   time, and then B) do I really want to be there? What if it succeeds? Then I'm that person,

01:20:15   then I'm in that business. Do I really want to be there?

01:20:17   See, I think what I see at the center of this is like, again, I get back to the idea that

01:20:22   You could have made peace the way it was, made sure it could work as iOS is updated,

01:20:26   but never add another feature to it, never change a thing on it, never update the icon,

01:20:30   never like, "That's it."

01:20:31   You do the app, you make it, you leave it on the store, it is for sale, you never make

01:20:35   any other changes to it.

01:20:37   That is a thing you could do, but I think the problem is, is like, "Oh, I think these

01:20:40   applications are going to require this update."

01:20:42   They don't require the update, they only require it because you feel bad about having an application

01:20:47   that you know could be better in the million ways that everyone suggests to you.

01:20:50   And so you feel compelled to, like with Bugshot, you're like, you know, those people have a

01:20:54   point.

01:20:55   It would be better if it had this feature that beer.

01:20:56   And this actually would be a cool idea.

01:20:58   And it just, you can't, you can't, you can't abide by having an application on the store

01:21:02   that you made that is in some ways a representation of you.

01:21:06   Like this is my work, this is the type of thing that I made.

01:21:08   And then just never touch it again.

01:21:09   Like that sounds like it would be torture for you to be forced to put out an application

01:21:13   and say the only thing you're allowed to do is application from now on.

01:21:16   You're not allowed to do any work on it except if it breaks because of an OS update.

01:21:19   and then you do the minimum to get it working again

01:21:21   and that's it.

01:21:22   You can't add features, you can't change the behavior,

01:21:23   you can't update the icon, you can't make it more efficient,

01:21:26   you can't do anything with it, right?

01:21:28   And it seems like you are constitutionally incapable

01:21:31   and I think most developers are constitutionally incapable

01:21:34   of doing that because it would just eat at you.

01:21:36   You'd be like, but it's not good,

01:21:38   it's not as good as it could be, it could be better,

01:21:41   or I think I made a mistake with this,

01:21:43   or these features should be different,

01:21:45   or even just for your own purposes,

01:21:46   you'd be like, you know what,

01:21:47   the way I had this thing set up,

01:21:49   It's not even working for me anymore.

01:21:50   I can't even use my own app

01:21:51   because I'm not allowed to change it.

01:21:52   So that I think is at the core here

01:21:54   because I know there are a lot of developers

01:21:56   like who, you know, these places that just churn out

01:22:00   thousands and thousands and thousands of applications

01:22:02   with, you know, fleets or developers,

01:22:04   they're fire and forget.

01:22:05   It's like application goes out into the world

01:22:06   and makes whatever money it's gonna make,

01:22:07   it will never be revisited, right?

01:22:09   But that is not how you are,

01:22:11   you don't feel good working that way

01:22:13   so you never will work that way.

01:22:14   And so that's why it's basically impossible

01:22:16   for you to ever have an app like that

01:22:18   that you just say, oh, I'll just make this app,

01:22:20   and it will just sit on the store making money,

01:22:22   and I'll never look at it again.

01:22:25   - Yeah, I think you're exactly right.

01:22:26   I mean, I can't do that.

01:22:28   I am not able, whatever I think will happen

01:22:33   before it happens, when the time comes, I am not able,

01:22:37   like, the morning that I decided to pull it,

01:22:41   I decided to pull it mid-morning,

01:22:44   before that, I was sitting down to start work,

01:22:47   I had Xcode open, I had peace there,

01:22:48   and I was starting to work on the 1.1 update

01:22:50   that would add all these, you know,

01:22:52   granular settings and all this crap people wanted.

01:22:54   And I'm like, you know, that's when I started thinking like,

01:22:56   I really don't want to do this.

01:22:58   Like this is really, I'm not happy maintaining this app.

01:23:02   I can't handle the heat.

01:23:03   I would like to get out of the kitchen, please.

01:23:06   Like I cannot handle this heat.

01:23:08   And why am I, like, I wanna be shipping over Cast 2.0.

01:23:11   What the heck am I doing doing this app

01:23:14   that is making me hate myself.

01:23:19   And one of the problems is, it was bringing in good money.

01:23:23   It's really hard to turn that down.

01:23:25   A lot of people wouldn't be able to turn that down.

01:23:27   I was fortunate that I have other sources of income.

01:23:30   I have made money in the past, so I could,

01:23:34   I had to ask my wife, of course, like, am I crazy here?

01:23:37   But I, you know, the fact is,

01:23:41   it was really hard to turn that away.

01:23:44   once it was working, but that should give you some idea

01:23:48   of how bad I felt about it.

01:23:50   Like, that I really, really did not want to be

01:23:55   in that business once I was in it.

01:23:57   Once I was in it, I was like, oh no, this is not for me.

01:24:00   I can't handle it.

01:24:02   I mean, being in the ad blocking business

01:24:06   feels like being in the piracy business.

01:24:09   You know, and please, I don't wanna hear from people

01:24:11   about this comment, but, you know,

01:24:14   'cause it isn't the same, it isn't a direct,

01:24:18   perfect metaphor, but there's a lot of overlap.

01:24:20   That being in the ad blocking, piracy, ad blocking,

01:24:24   these are things that lots of people want.

01:24:28   Lots of people won't admit they want it,

01:24:29   but they want it anyway.

01:24:31   Lots of people do it and don't talk about it,

01:24:33   and it's no big deal.

01:24:34   There are some legitimate reasons to do those things

01:24:38   that aren't just you want things for free,

01:24:40   Like there's actually legitimate reasons

01:24:41   for people to pirate things sometimes.

01:24:43   And there's, I think, very many legitimate reasons

01:24:45   to block ads.

01:24:45   But the fact is they kind of live in the same world

01:24:48   of things that are either illegal or kind of close,

01:24:52   you know, kind of in a gray area.

01:24:54   It's a tricky area to define morals and standards around.

01:24:59   And so making your living from an ad blocker,

01:25:04   it kind of feels like work,

01:25:06   it kind of feels like profiting off of piracy

01:25:09   or I don't know, I wonder if like,

01:25:11   I wonder like if people who work for porn sites

01:25:13   feel any weirdness about it, like any sleaziness or,

01:25:17   I don't know, I don't know what that industry's like either

01:25:18   but I suspect it might have some similar issues

01:25:22   of like some people just don't wanna be associated

01:25:26   with that kind of industry, you know?

01:25:27   And so I think ad blocking, it's one of those things

01:25:29   where it is questionable, it is potentially risky,

01:25:33   there's people getting hurt somewhere along the way,

01:25:37   like it's kind of tricky to stomach.

01:25:40   And I think there's a reason why most people

01:25:44   who make ad blocking software are not like prominent

01:25:49   indie personalities in public.

01:25:52   Like I don't know the people who make the other

01:25:54   ad blockers at all, I've never heard of them.

01:25:57   It's fine.

01:25:58   They probably would not be exposed to as much crap

01:26:02   as what I was getting because I put myself

01:26:05   out there in the public.

01:26:06   I have a very public persona in this industry

01:26:10   and among the press, which sometimes I really regret.

01:26:14   And this is one of those times,

01:26:16   where it's really hard to handle.

01:26:19   But this is the business made for anonymous companies

01:26:23   and people who don't mind the heat.

01:26:26   It's made for them and I'm neither of those things.

01:26:29   - So for all the people who are angry,

01:26:30   like my anger about this thing,

01:26:32   if I could speak to those people for a moment

01:26:35   still listening to the show and didn't rage quit because now they're super angry at Marco.

01:26:39   There's a couple aspects to that. First, I think it's reasonable for people to be angry because

01:26:46   Marco did inconvenience a lot of people who had to go get a refund before the big thing happened.

01:26:51   And also, it's this sort of feeling of betrayal, like I'm buying this thing because I trust the

01:26:57   things that Marco makes and now that the trust has been betrayed. So there is a fundamental screw-up

01:27:02   on Marco's part, underlying all of this. And understandably people are angry about it. And,

01:27:07   you know, Marco knew that that anger would be coming, and I think you accept that, yeah,

01:27:11   no, like, the short-term pain for long-term gain, it's best to just rip off the band-aid now,

01:27:15   people are going to be angry at you, and that's just something you're going to have to deal with,

01:27:19   right? Obviously it goes over the line when people get really mean about it, but whatever, like,

01:27:23   there's that aspect of it. And I don't think that's, you know, that's, I think that's part

01:27:29   of your decision making because I think although you may anyway the second thing is that the

01:27:33   people the other thing people are angry about you know they're angry spins out all sorts of

01:27:37   directions and it's like how did you make an ad blocker and not understand that you didn't want

01:27:43   to be a person who makes an ad blocker and I think you've done a good job explaining that now but I

01:27:47   think your blog post about it explains it even better particularly in the title and that you're

01:27:52   like how dumb does this guy have to be he spends the whole summer making an ad blocker he puts it

01:27:56   out there and then one day later he goes, "You know what? I don't want to make an ad blocker."

01:28:00   They block ads, right? Like, somehow you didn't understand how ad blockers work. And my take on

01:28:06   it based on your blog post and everything you said is that you understood that you were going to make

01:28:10   an ad blocker, you wanted to use an ad blocker, you still do want to use an ad blocker, and you

01:28:15   made one that you liked, which is, you know, like you said, your MO for doing things. An application

01:28:18   that you think is going to be popular that you yourself want to use that you can develop,

01:28:22   That's the formula for making an app, right?

01:28:24   Yeah.

01:28:25   And so you made the thing.

01:28:27   And when it came out, the thing you didn't anticipate

01:28:29   was the fact that-- not the fact that it blocked ads,

01:28:32   but it was like making an ad blocker

01:28:34   and having it block ads.

01:28:35   All that worked the way you hoped, and it's great.

01:28:37   What you didn't anticipate was how you would feel about being--

01:28:41   how you'd feel about being the person who made an ad blocker.

01:28:44   And people who think that you should

01:28:47   be able to predict how you'll feel about something

01:28:49   that has not yet happened are asking too much, I think,

01:28:53   of, you know, like, you say, I really want to be,

01:28:57   I don't know, like, the manager at the store that I work out.

01:29:01   I really want to be married.

01:29:03   I really want to, you know, get a tattoo.

01:29:07   I really want to learn to fly a plane.

01:29:09   I really want to be an accountant.

01:29:11   Until you actually do all those things,

01:29:12   you can have predictions about how much

01:29:14   you're gonna like it.

01:29:14   Are you really gonna like being a manager?

01:29:17   Are you actually gonna like learning to fly a plane?

01:29:20   You know, all those things.

01:29:21   You say you wanna get married once,

01:29:23   you're sure you wanna get married to this person?

01:29:24   A lot of people change their mind about that,

01:29:26   about half of them.

01:29:27   You know, like, you may think, you know,

01:29:30   like, it's like, didn't you understand

01:29:32   what it would be like to be manager?

01:29:33   You see the manager every day.

01:29:34   You know what managers do.

01:29:35   It's not like it's a mystery.

01:29:37   And then when you're saying you're the manager now,

01:29:39   now you're not happy,

01:29:40   sometimes you just don't know how you're gonna feel

01:29:42   about doing a thing until you actually do it.

01:29:44   And that's a mistake.

01:29:45   We all make that mistake in various sizes.

01:29:48   Hopefully, most of us don't make those mistakes

01:29:50   in the public eye, but sometimes you do, right?

01:29:52   And so, the way I frame what Margo has done here

01:29:57   is that he didn't correctly predict

01:30:00   how he would feel about something.

01:30:01   It's not an intellectual thing

01:30:02   where he didn't understand the consequences

01:30:04   or that all the grand conspiracy theories

01:30:07   that we don't wanna get into,

01:30:09   is that, like you said in your thing,

01:30:10   it didn't feel good to you to be doing this.

01:30:12   Everything else was working exactly as you predicted.

01:30:14   Like you thought it would sell,

01:30:16   could potentially sell a lot because you're prominent

01:30:19   and it's a thing that people want

01:30:20   and it was working more or less the way you wanted

01:30:22   and your friends that you tried out were working well

01:30:24   and it worked well for you, all working exactly.

01:30:26   But other things made you feel bad

01:30:29   about having the thing there.

01:30:30   And so what you did was made the decisions,

01:30:31   I feel bad if I want out of this feeling,

01:30:35   make feelings stop now please.

01:30:37   And the consequence of doing that

01:30:40   was making a bunch of people angry

01:30:41   and they're justified and they're angry

01:30:43   'cause you screwed up, but you fixed it as fast as you could,

01:30:45   and like I said, it's like ripping off the Band-Aid.

01:30:48   The worst thing you could have done

01:30:49   is him and Han feel bad about this for weeks and weeks,

01:30:51   and then pull it.

01:30:52   That would have been terrible,

01:30:53   'cause it would have been even more money,

01:30:55   even more people pissed,

01:30:56   and it would have been the same situation

01:30:57   of you still would have had no way to bulk refund them,

01:30:59   and they would have to, even more people going through that,

01:31:01   it would just, you made the best

01:31:05   of many possible bad decisions

01:31:07   at the time you had to make it.

01:31:08   And that bad decision doesn't absolve you of everything,

01:31:10   But I think people who don't forgive,

01:31:15   who are very angry and would just say,

01:31:18   I don't have to say it, that's too high of a standard.

01:31:22   What you're basically saying is,

01:31:23   my public figures can never make a mistake.

01:31:25   You can't hold people to that, I mean, I guess you can.

01:31:29   You can just say, well, this mistake,

01:31:30   this is one mistake too far, and now I'm never gonna,

01:31:33   I'm never gonna listen to anything Marco says again.

01:31:35   I will never trust him again.

01:31:36   I mean, it is a minor betrayal of trust,

01:31:38   and you can decide that's not good.

01:31:39   But I think it's unrealistic just to think that anybody is ever going to fulfill, you

01:31:46   know, like they're never going to do what Marco did, which is basically not correctly

01:31:50   predict how they would feel about something.

01:31:52   I don't know.

01:31:53   I'm not going to say that people should or shouldn't be angry or whatever.

01:31:57   It just, from my perspective, in the grand scheme of things, if I try to point myself

01:32:02   wherever, it's so understandable as a thing that happens to all of us, and it just happened

01:32:07   to Marco on a grand scale in public,

01:32:09   which is credit for Marco

01:32:10   and credit for everyone else involved.

01:32:12   - Yeah, I mean, and you know, to be clear,

01:32:15   I really messed up.

01:32:16   Like, I made a huge mistake.

01:32:18   But my huge mistake was launching the app.

01:32:20   It was not pulling it.

01:32:21   Pulling it was my solution to the mistake.

01:32:24   The mistake was launching it.

01:32:26   That I should have seen some warning signs ahead of time

01:32:30   that you know I don't wanna necessarily be in this business

01:32:32   or I won't be able to handle the heat.

01:32:33   I should have seen those warning signs.

01:32:35   And I didn't, because I was blinded by the idea

01:32:37   of this cool app that I just made

01:32:39   that I thought was working really well

01:32:40   and that I was very proud of.

01:32:42   So I did make that mistake,

01:32:45   but the mistake was launching it.

01:32:47   Once the idea got in my head,

01:32:49   I was feeling miserable for the two and a half days

01:32:52   or whatever, and then once the idea got in my head

01:32:55   that, you know, wait a minute, I can just end this,

01:32:58   I can just pull it down and get myself out of this.

01:33:01   And I knew it was gonna be really messy.

01:33:02   I knew that it was gonna be a problem with Apple,

01:33:05   it was gonna be a problem with all the customers.

01:33:08   You know, part of the reason why the app launched so well

01:33:12   and grows so quickly is because I've been building

01:33:16   my reputation for years and my audience for years.

01:33:20   And I knew that there was gonna be a major cost to that.

01:33:25   That I have lost a lot of people.

01:33:28   The next time I do anything, even when Overcast 2 ships,

01:33:31   hopefully sometime soon, the next time I release anything,

01:33:35   or ask people to buy or look at anything,

01:33:39   I've lost a lot of the reputation I built over the years now

01:33:43   that a lot of those people will no longer buy it.

01:33:45   They won't look at it.

01:33:46   I'm gonna be hearing about this in emails,

01:33:49   in comments, in tweets for years.

01:33:52   And people are still making butter coffee jokes at me.

01:33:54   I mean, I'm gonna hear about this for years.

01:33:57   - The other aspect of it,

01:33:58   not to pile on with all the bad things about it,

01:34:00   but the people who applauded your decision,

01:34:02   I've seen a lot of people who are like,

01:34:05   my respect for you, Marco, has increased

01:34:06   for you doing this thing or whatever.

01:34:07   Subset of them are happy about it

01:34:10   because they think ad blocking is not ethical.

01:34:12   And when they hear this podcast,

01:34:13   they say, guess what guys, Marco didn't pull it

01:34:15   because he's against ad blocking.

01:34:16   - Right. - Right?

01:34:17   And so they're like, oh, well, hmm.

01:34:21   So then maybe you lose those people too.

01:34:23   There's still, I hope, the majority of the people

01:34:25   who applaud this decision understand

01:34:27   this is a person who made a mistake in public

01:34:30   and fixed it decisively as fast, as quickly as possible.

01:34:34   And like, you know, and again, once you've made the mistake,

01:34:38   you can't unring that bell.

01:34:39   You did ship the app, but like the worst thing you could do

01:34:41   is just like, oh, I don't know, leave it out there

01:34:44   for a week, two weeks, and then just like,

01:34:47   it was like two days, right?

01:34:48   I don't, I think that is--

01:34:49   - It was one night, one full day, and then one morning.

01:34:53   So it was a total of about 48 hours or 36 hours or something.

01:34:56   And like, so as soon as I decided that morning,

01:35:00   I decided while having my morning coffee

01:35:01   and talking to my wife, we were talking

01:35:03   and I was like, I really wanna get out of this.

01:35:05   I wanna be done with this.

01:35:07   It was down within an hour and a half of that decision

01:35:11   because the only thing I had to do

01:35:13   was I had to look at my contract with Ghostery,

01:35:17   make sure I even could do this,

01:35:19   and then I wanted to call and ask them.

01:35:21   And the CEO of Ghostery, super nice guy,

01:35:24   was on a plane coming back from Germany during that time.

01:35:27   But he had wifi.

01:35:29   So we did this all over email on his in-flight wifi.

01:35:32   I was bothering him on his plane trip

01:35:34   because I'm like, we gotta talk right now.

01:35:36   I gotta get out of this business.

01:35:38   The app was pulled within an hour and a half

01:35:40   of me deciding that this is what I wanted to do.

01:35:43   And I would've even done it sooner.

01:35:45   I just wanted to make sure

01:35:46   I wasn't gonna be sued by anybody.

01:35:47   But it, believe me, I did not take that decision lightly.

01:35:52   And it would've been way more profitable,

01:35:56   if I got to keep the money,

01:35:57   it would've been way more profitable

01:35:58   to just sit on it for a while.

01:36:00   And you know, that's, the thing is,

01:36:04   what a lot of people don't understand,

01:36:07   you know, when Tumblr sold, I said that, you know,

01:36:11   I didn't make yacht and helicopter money, which is true,

01:36:14   but that I now have, I have enough of a cushion now

01:36:18   from the Tumblr sale that I don't need

01:36:21   to take every opportunity I get to make money

01:36:24   if it's something that I don't feel good doing

01:36:26   or they don't feel comfortable doing

01:36:27   that I don't really want to be working on. I can pick and choose now. And when I was

01:36:32   writing that, what I was actually talking about was making a podcast app. Because at

01:36:37   the time, podcast apps were way smaller than they are today. Podcasting was way smaller

01:36:42   than it is today. And I really wanted to work on a podcast app, but I knew it probably wouldn't

01:36:47   make as much money as Instapaper was making or as anything else that I could do more generally

01:36:52   would make. But the fact is, I am, I'm able now, I'm fortunate enough that I can make

01:37:01   a decision that is against my best financial interests, but that is for my own mental health

01:37:06   and for long-term reputation and for, you know, avoiding problems in my life, avoiding

01:37:13   burnout, keeping time for my family, etc. I can make decisions like this and I had to

01:37:21   to make one of those decisions for this, to preserve myself.

01:37:25   I'm a programmer, I'm a geek.

01:37:27   I like working on hard technical problems.

01:37:29   And ad blocking is not a hard technical problem,

01:37:31   it is actually a very, very, very easy technical problem,

01:37:34   combined with a really, really messy, tricky,

01:37:39   political, guilt-ridden problem of classifying sites

01:37:45   and dealing with what is right and what is wrong

01:37:48   and what is good and what is bad

01:37:50   and all of these impossible to solve decisions,

01:37:53   that's the ad blocking business.

01:37:56   And dealing with really, really angry people all the time.

01:38:00   That is what this business is.

01:38:03   It's really gross to me.

01:38:05   And again, I didn't think that through.

01:38:08   My mistake was launching it, not canceling it.

01:38:11   - So I think the subset of people who,

01:38:13   I've really made the people who were applauding you

01:38:15   because they thought you had a change of heart

01:38:16   about ad blocking, which you have not.

01:38:18   - No, I just didn't want to be the one doing it.

01:38:20   - Right, so the remaining people who applaud your decision

01:38:24   basically for basically showing,

01:38:27   sticking to your principles,

01:38:28   doing the decision that is bad for you,

01:38:31   but doing it, again, ripping off the Band-Aid quickly

01:38:33   instead of doing it slowly, right?

01:38:35   I'm trying to think of what distinguishes those people

01:38:38   from the people who will now never forgive you.

01:38:40   And I think what it comes down to,

01:38:42   as it very often does in these things, is empathy,

01:38:44   because the people who applaud your difficult decision

01:38:49   to have that feeling, what you have to do

01:38:51   is empathize with the person.

01:38:52   Like imagine yourself in that situation.

01:38:54   Imagine that you had made a mistake.

01:38:56   You had launched an application that you realized

01:38:59   you don't want to be the person who makes that application.

01:39:01   And it's too late now and you know that any course of action

01:39:06   is going to make a bunch of people unhappy

01:39:08   and it's gonna cost you money,

01:39:11   it's gonna cost you reputation or whatever.

01:39:13   If you can empathize with that,

01:39:14   if you can put yourself in Marco's shoes and say,

01:39:17   boy, that must have really sucked because, you know,

01:39:19   I like, compared to your life,

01:39:21   I remember when I made a mistake and miscalculated

01:39:23   how much I would like doing X and Y,

01:39:24   and then after the fact I found myself stuck in it,

01:39:26   and then you're stuck with like, well,

01:39:28   do I have to just, you know, well, I'm in it now,

01:39:30   I just gotta get through it, or can I just, you know,

01:39:33   imagine for example, you took a new job,

01:39:35   and on the first weekend you go,

01:39:37   I've made a terrible mistake.

01:39:38   This, I am not happy at this job,

01:39:40   I will never be happy at this job.

01:39:42   Do you quit after working there for a week?

01:39:43   They're gonna be like, that guy, we hired that guy

01:39:45   and he quit in the first week.

01:39:46   Don't hire him, he's flighty, he doesn't know what he wants.

01:39:48   Like, that's a mistake, you should not have taken that job.

01:39:50   I bet that's a mistake that people can relate to, right?

01:39:52   Anyway, empathy is what separates the people,

01:39:55   people who are able to empathize with your situation,

01:39:58   say, boy, I feel bad, I've been in a similar situation,

01:40:00   so I understand what it's like,

01:40:02   and what I know the decision he had to make was hard

01:40:04   and all his decisions were crappy,

01:40:06   and it feels bad to have people angry at you

01:40:08   for justifiable reasons.

01:40:11   And therefore they say, now Marco,

01:40:13   my esteem for you has risen

01:40:15   because I understand what you were like.

01:40:18   And the thing you just mentioned about Tumblr

01:40:21   and being able to make podcast applications

01:40:23   and not having to do Instapaper

01:40:25   past where you wanted to and stuff like that,

01:40:27   that really hurts empathy

01:40:29   because people don't have empathy

01:40:31   for people who are financially more well off

01:40:34   than they do in general.

01:40:35   Like that is a theme, not that it's,

01:40:37   it's not saying all people, but anyway.

01:40:39   It is sometimes difficult to put yourself

01:40:41   in the shoes of somebody who you think doesn't have

01:40:44   what you think is one of your main sources

01:40:46   of problem or concern.

01:40:48   If you worry about money a lot,

01:40:50   and you think I'm a good, smart, hardworking person,

01:40:55   and this guy doesn't have to worry about money at all,

01:40:59   and how is he any better than me,

01:41:02   it's harder to have empathy.

01:41:03   It's like how can you, like all your problems,

01:41:05   whatever your problems in your life,

01:41:07   and you, Marco, in your life,

01:41:08   they say, "Well, Marco may have stubbed his toe,

01:41:11   But if I had his money, I wouldn't care about toe stubbing.

01:41:14   You know what I mean?

01:41:14   Like it's very popular to turn down the empathy dial

01:41:19   when somebody is more successful than you

01:41:21   or has something that you want

01:41:23   as if that whitewash is everything.

01:41:24   Famous people, like he's a celebrity.

01:41:26   Well, like I have no empathy for, you know,

01:41:29   name a celebrity.

01:41:33   I was gonna say Tom Cruise,

01:41:34   but that's all tied up in Scientology.

01:41:35   I don't wanna go down that rat hole.

01:41:36   But anyway.

01:41:37   - How about Donald Trump, another rat hole?

01:41:39   - No.

01:41:40   (laughing)

01:41:41   Julia Roberts, you can say mean things about her,

01:41:44   well she's rich and famous.

01:41:45   If I was rich and famous,

01:41:46   nothing anyone could ever say would bother me.

01:41:48   Or like, I don't have any sympathy for her,

01:41:50   she is just the most, she's beautiful,

01:41:53   she's rich, she's famous.

01:41:55   It's very easy to not have empathy

01:41:56   when you feel that about people.

01:41:58   And so that I think is a factor

01:42:00   in exactly how angry people are about what you did,

01:42:04   because they feel like they can't put themselves

01:42:09   in your shoes.

01:42:10   They can't, they think that, you know,

01:42:12   that they have to think that everything you do

01:42:14   is sort of Machiavellian and made to maximize your profit

01:42:18   or there is a conspiracy theory

01:42:20   or you are taking advantage of your position of privilege

01:42:23   to screw other people, like have no thought

01:42:26   for the people who bought your application,

01:42:27   all you want, all you care about is your feelings

01:42:29   and so on and so forth.

01:42:30   Like I get that, I see, and I see that playing out

01:42:34   and this is a perfect sort of little crucible

01:42:37   for that to play out because it is a legitimate mistake,

01:42:40   but it's a small mistake in terms of like impact

01:42:43   on an individual, right?

01:42:45   It's $3.

01:42:45   Like, I don't wanna get into all of like, you know,

01:42:47   arguing with the people who are angry.

01:42:48   Feel free to be angry.

01:42:49   Like you were inconvenienced in a minor way,

01:42:51   but some people are just so angry that it's as if

01:42:54   you had like foreclosed on their house

01:42:56   and kicked them out on the street.

01:42:58   It's like, seriously guys.

01:42:59   - Oh yeah, I mean, I got some,

01:43:01   one guy threatened to sue me.

01:43:03   That was interesting.

01:43:04   - Yeah, now you should see how much lawyers charge.

01:43:06   It's more than $3, I think.

01:43:07   - Yeah, no, but seriously,

01:43:10   one of the lessons I'm taking away from this,

01:43:12   besides the previously expressed lessons

01:43:14   about reconsidering what the heck I'm doing before I do it

01:43:17   and whether I want to be in the businesses

01:43:19   I'm trying to be in,

01:43:20   'cause it's like reconsidering what if this succeeds?

01:43:24   That's obviously the number one lesson

01:43:26   that I have learned from this.

01:43:27   But down the list somewhere,

01:43:29   one of the additional lessons I've learned from this,

01:43:32   do I really want to be allowing people

01:43:36   to hold me hostage over three dollars?

01:43:39   Because that's, you know, the attitude,

01:43:43   there's a psychological thing,

01:43:45   I probably heard about it from Merlin,

01:43:47   Merlin's where I get all my psychology news,

01:43:49   but there's some kind of thing where like people are

01:43:52   way, way more reactive and feel way worse about a loss,

01:43:57   like feeling like they had something taken from them

01:44:01   than a missed gain.

01:44:03   So if you said like, you know, I'm gonna give you $3.

01:44:06   Oh, no, I'm not.

01:44:07   You know, they don't feel as bad about that

01:44:09   as if you take $3 from them.

01:44:12   There's something like that.

01:44:13   Forgive me if I'm butchering this.

01:44:14   - Yeah, it's loss aversion.

01:44:16   - Yeah, there you go.

01:44:17   - You can look it up.

01:44:19   I think that's the Google term.

01:44:20   You just go to loss aversion.

01:44:21   Tons of studies trying to put people

01:44:23   in comparable situations and saying how the people

01:44:24   felt really bad about the negative thing,

01:44:28   but not so bad about the lack of the positive thing

01:44:30   of equal magnitude.

01:44:31   - Right, there you go.

01:44:32   So we'll link to that in the show notes

01:44:33   for anybody who wants to read the correct version

01:44:35   of the thing I just butchered.

01:44:36   But right now, I give people opportunities like that

01:44:40   where by putting this app out there,

01:44:43   I said, "Please give me $3."

01:44:46   And in exchange, you will get this app,

01:44:48   and of course, then most people implicitly assume

01:44:51   that you will therefore have this app be free

01:44:53   and updated forever as they're able to give me that $3.

01:44:56   And so that's why they got so angry

01:44:58   when I pulled it two days later,

01:45:00   they then perceived that I had stolen that $3 from them.

01:45:04   The things that were said to me by so many people,

01:45:08   mostly on Twitter, you couldn't pay that person $3

01:45:12   to go tell a stranger that.

01:45:14   Like, if somebody came up to you on the street

01:45:17   and was like, "Hey, I'll give you $3,"

01:45:18   if you go over there and tell that person

01:45:21   just this horrible thing about themselves,

01:45:23   like just, "Oh, you're such a jerk,

01:45:25   "no one's ever gonna love you again,"

01:45:27   would you do that for $3?

01:45:29   But people get so into this thing that like,

01:45:32   they really, it's like they're holding you hostage

01:45:34   with their expectations and they feel like

01:45:37   they really have this over you that,

01:45:39   that you owe me this massive thing for my $3.

01:45:43   And the fact is, I don't think I wanna give people access

01:45:47   to me that way anymore.

01:45:49   I don't think I want to give you the chance

01:45:51   to hold me hostage for that $3 anymore.

01:45:54   Because you know what?

01:45:55   I don't want your $3 badly enough.

01:45:57   It's not worth it.

01:45:58   So I'm gonna reconsider things I'm doing

01:46:01   with that in mind.

01:46:03   And I don't know how it's gonna play out yet,

01:46:05   but that was another bit of perspective I gained from this,

01:46:09   that you know what,

01:46:10   if that's how you're gonna treat your money,

01:46:14   then I don't want it.

01:46:15   - Yeah, the amount of just unbelievable bitterness

01:46:20   over this $3, I remain stunned,

01:46:24   and I find it kind of comical,

01:46:25   because I think to myself, I go to,

01:46:29   and this is just an example,

01:46:30   but I go to football games at my wife's alma mater

01:46:33   at the University of Virginia.

01:46:35   - No, do you mean soccer or football?

01:46:37   - No, football, like the one that is actually fun to watch.

01:46:41   (laughing)

01:46:42   Don't email me.

01:46:43   Oh, God. - Finally,

01:46:44   you're taking the email from this episode, not me.

01:46:45   - Yeah, seriously, no, don't email me.

01:46:47   I know that American football is much slower.

01:46:49   It was just a joke.

01:46:50   Everybody calm down.

01:46:51   Anyway, the point I'm driving at is

01:46:52   I go to these American football games

01:46:55   and a soda at these football games is, I believe,

01:46:59   three or four dollars.

01:47:00   A bottle of water, I'm pretty sure, is either 250 or $3.

01:47:03   That's a bottle of water.

01:47:06   - But it doesn't matter.

01:47:07   It's a whole different context, a whole different context.

01:47:09   - It's just ridiculous to me, but it is, and you're right,

01:47:13   but it's $3 for a bottle of water

01:47:15   that I'm literally pissing away in an hour, literally.

01:47:20   And these people, some of these replies that you got,

01:47:23   just unbelievably disproportionately, and I think that's the real crux of it here,

01:47:28   disproportionately angry over the money. Not all of them, I mean John went over a

01:47:33   lot of this before and he's right, but some of them are just disproportionately

01:47:36   angry about three dollars. And so my first thought was, okay, was there was a

01:47:40   time when I had no freaking money, just none, where going to McDonald's and

01:47:45   getting myself like a Big Mac was a special treat. And yes, I know that's

01:47:48   terrible for me, blah blah blah, I don't need to hear about it. At the time, going

01:47:51   McDonald's and getting myself a Big Mac was a special treat, and I only allowed myself

01:47:55   that once a week at most. And I genuinely had to think about whether that $7, whatever

01:48:01   it was, was worth spending. And even then, I don't think I would have gotten this upset

01:48:06   over a $3 loss, which ends up, as it turns out, not being a loss at all. And I think

01:48:11   Jon really hit the nail on the head earlier when he said, "People just don't have enough

01:48:16   empathy. And these people seem to think that you, Marco, are this infallible person that

01:48:23   never makes a mistake and it's bull if you--if it's just completely wrong that--that you

01:48:28   might have made a mistake and clearly--I mean, you are infallible, so this must be a money

01:48:32   grab. This is--this is insane. There's no other explanation. And I just--people need

01:48:36   to relax and understand that if people make mistakes and $3 probably isn't going to be

01:48:44   the end of the earth on your $800 iPhone.

01:48:47   - But see, they have the wider context.

01:48:48   The people who are the most mad know the context.

01:48:50   They know a lot of copies of this sold.

01:48:52   They know that the total amount

01:48:53   is much more than their $3.

01:48:55   And what they're really angry about

01:48:56   is this guy who doesn't need money as much as them

01:48:58   is getting a bunch of extra money,

01:48:59   and that makes them have less empathy for Marco.

01:49:01   It's not as if they just write him off as like,

01:49:02   "Oh, because I hate everybody who's richer than me?"

01:49:04   No, all I'm saying is that for the people who are angry,

01:49:07   it lessens their ability to empathize

01:49:09   because they feel like this very good thing

01:49:12   is happening to Margo and this minor bad thing is happening to me, but this minor bad thing

01:49:17   is like Steve Jobs.

01:49:18   Like, if I can shave one second off the boot time of this computer, if millions of people

01:49:22   use this computer, you're saving millions of seconds every time people boot up.

01:49:26   It's at scale, and they do the scale, and I'm like, "Yeah, my $3 isn't a big deal, but

01:49:30   he stole $3 from thousands and thousands of people.

01:49:33   He's basically a thief, and this guy doesn't even need the money, and it makes me even

01:49:36   more angry."

01:49:37   And to some degree, that's how people feel about all businesses.

01:49:40   has seen the person who's angry at the person serving them coffee at a coffee shop or you

01:49:46   know or at a store or whatever and they're out like a dollar fifty or whatever because

01:49:50   they wouldn't accept their return because it was like all sales final and like a stick

01:49:53   of gum or something they're like you know what I'm never coming to this coffee shop

01:49:57   again and whether that's true or not like they're willing to say you know this entire

01:50:02   business you know you this is not an ethical business you should have let me return this

01:50:07   stick of gum like it's the principle it's not the dollar fifty it's the principle that

01:50:10   you are not an ethical business, I'm never going to, you know, that's the power they

01:50:13   have as a consumer and the whole, you know, customer is always right thing.

01:50:16   We've all seen people get angry about that.

01:50:19   And in that case, it's like the poor cashier is like, you know, just trying to do the job,

01:50:23   they don't own the place or whatever, the brunt of this.

01:50:26   Or someone who works at like a fast food place, they don't control the policies of the store,

01:50:29   they're just trying to do their job, they get yelled at.

01:50:31   But for the most part, those businesses are like faceless entities that people can be

01:50:35   indignant and angry about.

01:50:36   or even just think of like airlines where there's more legitimate reasons to be angry

01:50:41   like I've been delayed a day from my destination and you know I got a ticket on this flight

01:50:47   but now you know you oversold it and I have to check my back like whatever.

01:50:51   Being mad at businesses is a thing.

01:50:53   It just so happens in Marco's case that he is the business.

01:50:55   It's a one-man business, there's a public face and it's not just like he's not Ronald

01:50:59   McDonald he's the actual he's not just a figurehead he actually does all the pushing of buttons

01:51:04   on keyboards too.

01:51:07   And so it's a bummer for Marco, but that attitude is not unique to Marco, but it's exactly the

01:51:13   same thing in the way that when people are really angry that the place wouldn't accept

01:51:17   their return to their stick of gum, they're not thinking about the store's feelings, because

01:51:21   the store is the man.

01:51:23   And this is, you know, it's like it's a big faceless entity, it might as well be the government.

01:51:27   Marco is the man, in the bad way.

01:51:30   The bad man.

01:51:31   And so they're like, "The man is sticking it to me.

01:51:33   The man is taking three dollars from thousands of people, and the man is screwing us all

01:51:39   over."

01:51:40   And so it's easy to get self-righteous and indignant and angry at the man, and you don't

01:51:43   spend a lot of time empathizing with the man and saying, "How does the man feel?

01:51:48   Does the man sad?

01:51:49   Does the man make a mistake?

01:51:51   Does the man make a mistake, and now he has to do something that he knows is going to

01:51:56   make people even more angry at him?"

01:51:58   And so anyway, that's the divide.

01:51:59   Some people are able to empathize and understand.

01:52:03   Some people mistakenly thought that Marco is now against ad blocking.

01:52:06   And some people were less able to empathize and were super angry about it.

01:52:11   And I think all this will pass.

01:52:12   I think we've covered all the positive negatives that come from it.

01:52:16   We all make mistakes.

01:52:19   It's a bummer.

01:52:21   We do what we can.

01:52:22   Hopefully we'll all learn from this.

01:52:24   We can learn by proxy through Marco's mistakes.

01:52:26   Marco can learn from his mistakes.

01:52:28   and we can all move forward together

01:52:30   and finally get Overcast 2.0 out there.

01:52:32   If you ever stop reviewing podcast microphones.

01:52:35   - This is a really good one actually tonight.

01:52:37   Thanks a lot to our three sponsors this week,

01:52:38   Squarespace, Igloo, and MailRoute,

01:52:40   and we will see you next week.

01:52:42   (upbeat music)

01:52:45   ♪ Now the show is over ♪

01:52:47   ♪ They didn't even mean to begin ♪

01:52:50   ♪ 'Cause it was accidental ♪

01:52:51   ♪ Accidental ♪

01:52:52   ♪ Oh, it was accidental ♪

01:52:54   ♪ Accidental ♪

01:52:55   ♪ John didn't do any research ♪

01:52:57   Marco and Casey wouldn't let him, cause it was accidental.

01:53:02   It was accidental.

01:53:05   And you can find the show notes at ATP.FM.

01:53:10   And if you're into Twitter, you can follow them at

01:53:15   C-A-S-E-Y-L-I-S-S, so that's Casey List M-A-R-C-O-A-R-M

01:53:24   ♪ Anti-Marco, Armin, S-I-R-A-C ♪

01:53:29   ♪ USA, Syracuse, it's accidental ♪

01:53:33   ♪ It's accidental ♪

01:53:35   ♪ They didn't mean to ♪

01:53:37   ♪ Accidental ♪

01:53:39   ♪ Accidental ♪

01:53:40   ♪ Tech podcast ♪

01:53:42   ♪ So long ♪

01:53:45   - Forgot the most important question.

01:53:47   Are you going to make a peace fracture?

01:53:50   - Oh yeah, a lot of people have asked this.

01:53:53   No, I'm not planning to right now.

01:53:56   I mean, maybe I'll change my mind in the future

01:53:57   once it hurts less, but right now it's too painful.

01:53:59   I can't do it.

01:54:00   - What you should do is order the fracture,

01:54:02   but then keep it for a day and throw it away.

01:54:04   (laughing)

01:54:06   [laughter]

01:54:08   (beep)

01:54:10   [ Silence ]