Rich Stroffolino

Thoughts on Microsoft, Arm, and Macs

A few thoughts on Microsoft’s recent AI-PC and Surface announcements:

  1. It’s weird to describe the new Surface Laptop as “outperforming” the MacBook Air. I know the Apple Silicon launch gave that laptop new performance chops, but the Air set the consumer laptop standard for years before that with middling Intel chips. It was a success because it nailed the fundamentals, namely great battery life, the right form factor, and a great trackpad. Microsoft must be confident in its performance because it isn’t claiming the Surface laptop will be thinner, lighter, offers better web-browsing battery, or a brighter screen.
  2. To the Surface Laptop’s credit, it looks great, has better I/O (a card reader on the 15-inch version!), offers removable SSDs, and doesn’t think variable refresh rates is a pro-level feature.
  3. It seems like the moment is here for Windows to succeed on Arm processors. Microsoft has it’s OEM ecosystem all ready to fire with Arm as a platform. More importantly, the software support will be there too.
  4. Let’s assume that Microsoft and its OEMs have figured out a killer Arm platform. Let’s take better performance than Apple’s M3 as a given. Great. Apple definitely got a lot of people to upgrade Macs with the release of M1. But did it actually move any market share? It doesn’t seem like it. Apple grew PC market share about 1.5% from 2015 to 2023. There’s much more variability within the Windows OEM ecosystem quarter to quarter than what Apple could achieve with a breakthrough processor. So even if it’s framing this as a blow to Apple, Microsoft… doesn’t care?
  5. The bigger question is what does this new class of Windows PC look like in the next 2-4 years. I imagine the first generation of these machines will all be very similar, based on the same platform with virtually the same components. Will this just be OEMs waiting on Qualcomm’s chip release cadence? Will x86 PCs become budget options that you’re mad your parents bought at Best Buy without calling you first? Apple may still have a distinct advantage with product selection simplicity. Although as said about, none of that really seems to translate to market share.
  6. I keep thinking about this.
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Intel’s chip making business lost $222 a second in 2023.

I enjoy that the Verge’s AI content policy is to only include it sarcastically on Brother laser printer posts.

“Instagram founders' news app acquired by Yahoo” is the most ignoble form of death.

I continue to be impressed by 404 Media. Full text RSS is definitely a feature I’d pay for.

I was very tempted to get this two-year lease deal on an Hyundai Ioniq 6. I’ve been wanting to get an EV and this would be the perfect secondary car to test the waters for a limited time. Problem is there are currently only 6 listed for sale within 300 miles of my house (which has a bunch of fairly large markets, like Chicago, Indy, Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburgh), and all of these seem to have already left dealer lots. Looks like my EV dreams will have to wait.

Also the entire process of contacting any dealer is a hellscape.

Extremely good vibes on the CISO Series Week in Review with Gerald Auger. He brought the Simply Cyber crew in the chat, super fun time. Also I may have solved IOT security in the episode.…

I can buy Topo Chico hard seltzer and mixers in Cleveland, but not regular Topo Chico

A display case of Topo Chico tonic water

The launch of Threads is proof that Meta can keep shipping good usable products. But I often don’t like engaging with it on a very personal level. It suffers from the “birthday” problem, where friends and family find one of your interests and then that’s all you ever get for gifts for the rest of time. I know if I mention something I enjoy, Threads default feed will soon serve it back to me, with a heaping of engagement bait influencers on top. So I keep it pretty chill and use its algorithmic feed for internet zeitgeist stuff.

Considering how easy it is to compost coffee and paper filters, I’m glad to see Keurig finally removing K-cup landfill waste with their new Alta system. But let’s not delude ourselves into seeing this as just another way to make a proprietary coffee pod, the environmental optics are gravy.

It’s amazing how little space in my head is left for this social network. Saw that X is doing articles and was amused how little it mattered to me.

Making Sense of Nikon Buying RED

With Nikon buying the cinema camera maker RED, I was trying to research what this deal would mean. Certainly it gives Nikon access to a new market. While professional DSLRs/mirrorless cameras have had a place in movie production for decades, they can’t be rigged out like a proper cinema camera. It’s a market that’s projected to grow long term, even if relatively small.

I was trying to get a picture of what this market looks like. Looking at Canon, Fuji, and Sony, they don’t break out cinema cameras from their respective imaging segment revenue. So we have to assume their standard mirrorless offerings makes up the vast majority of revenue (otherwise they’d crow about it). Arri, Blackmagic, and RED are all private, so we don’t have a sense of how big those businesses are.

The analyst report I linked above is paywalled, but it lists the market at around $300 million in 2022. Nikon’s imaging unit generated about $500 million in revenue in its latest earnings report. So this isn’t going to move the needle too much for their bottom line. But given that I expect the margins on RED cinema cameras are significant, it plays well with the overall strategy. Nikon noted its imaging unit was the only part of its business that saw increasing operating profit on the year, due to the shift to higher end cameras. In that vein, cinema cameras make sense to pad those profits.

The acquisition also helps the optics of where Nikon is as a brand. While certainly respected, they’ve definitely been late to the mirrorless camera video revolution, where Sony and Canon dominate. Getting a respected brand like RED aboard, with devotees like MKBHD helps change that perception.

Camera manuals are never not great

The lunatics at Lomography made a new 110 camera

Lomography often gets chided by some in the film photography community. The rub is usually something like they make cheap overpriced cameras for hipsters and rebrand Kodak films at a markup. And while the company’s brand is more focused on casual and experimental users, I think this whole perception does a grave disservice to their place in the film community.

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The company just released a new 110 film camera. It is not overstating it to say that the 110 film format only still exists because of Lomography. They are the only company producing the film at scale. Up until now that kept old 110 cameras in use. But now they are helping to keep the camera supply available. And while the cameras aren’t dirt cheap, the prices seem fair for a brand new camera with warranty with a decent amount of features. And just look at it! Lomography has never lacked for style, but the Lomomatic 110 looks a step above their usual efforts.

As I said in my review of the Lomo LC-A 120, Lomography continues to invest significantly in R&D, on both the film and camera supply side. The past few years have seen an explosion of DIY and 3D printed camera. These are great, but rarely come with something like a warranty, and often still rely on vintage lenses or other parts to really work. 110 film might not be my thing, but it’s really impressive to see Lomography invest significantly in what can only be described as a niche within a niche.

I’ve got something of a soft spot of 110 cameras. My family wasn’t into photography, so we had a number of these simple 110 point and shoots growing up. The whole format wreaks of nostalgia for me. I remember playing with one, firing the shutter with the back open to see how quickly it would open and close.

Two years ago I pledged to focus on buying new cameras as a way to further support these efforts. This almost necessitated I go with Lomography. I’ve bought the LC-A 120 and LomoGraflok (to use with my Cameradactyl Rex). I’m now more focused on trying to reduce my camera kit for more focus, I’m more than happy to keep supporting this company, especially when I see them investing like this. I’m assuming this makes some sort of business sense for them, but I’m grateful for these film lunatics.

Linux Desktop Marketshare Hits 4%

Saw this report of Linux desktop marketshare hitting 4%, up 1% in less than a year. Curiously it doesn’t mention the Steam Deck, the hit gaming handheld that runs a version of Arch Linux. The article mentions reasons for the Linux marketshare increase that don’t seem to hold water:

The rise in Linux’s popularity can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the open-source nature of Linux has made it a favored choice among developers, IT professionals, and tech enthusiasts who appreciate the flexibility and control it offers.

Additionally, the security and stability of Linux have been key selling points, making it an attractive option for both personal and professional use.

None of that is wrong, but also has been true for 20 years. The reason it jumped from 3 to 4% so quickly seems directly tied to millions of Steam Decks now in the wild.

I always find Steam’s user survey more interesting for these kind of figures. While skewed toward Windows gaming, we still see Linux with more marketshare than macOS. Unsurprisingly, Arch remains the post popular single distribution.

Made this as part of a game to choose which Disney princess or villain would make the best CISO. Running a live stream of the CISO Series cybersecurity game show at 1pm ET, here’s the link if you want to join. Chatroom determines the winners for most games, should be a fun time!

So it turns out buying white label IoT devices from anonymous Chinese firms isn’t the best idea for your privacy. Not that being an established brand means you’ll do much better in terms of security architecture. Remember what Wyze, Eufy, and Ring did?

But this example seems like another level of ineptitude. Not only are the vulnerabilities trivial (you can war dial URLs to get access to camera images), but the vulnerability comes from across anonymous cheap brands sold at various outlets. This will make messaging difficult because it’ll be a bulk list of brands you don’t know.

This is the memorial that TinyLetter deserved. I never used the service as a writer. Arguably I joined it just off-peak in 2017 to do a newsletter of family photos. But I deeply appreciated it’s dead simple interface, purpose, and lack of any kind of upselling. It’s incredibly rare to find a fully functional online platform that doesn’t try to sell you something. TinyLetter didn’t just deemphasize any commerce considerations, it lacked them completely. There was no mechanism to buy a service through it. Of course, this it certain to be on Intuit’s chopping block eventually.

Libraries are the last video store

Not that we need another example of why libraries rule, but I recently realized it’s the last place I can go to get an experience of going to a video store. Growing up the Cleveland Public Library system always had VHS movies to rent, but the selection was spotty with usually only a single copy, so you’d be on a waiting list for anything popular. Years ago my local library bought up the movie collection of a local video store going out of business. So in an instant you had multiple copies of pretty current DVD and VHS releases. Impressively, they’ve kept up their acquisitions. I recently picked up the Barbie Blu-Ray. They had several copies across formats. I can keep it for three weeks rather than pay for a month of Max to watch it (or pirate it). My five-year old daughter doesn’t know quite what to make of the shelves packed with movies, although she was disappointed in their lackluster Pixar collection.

SBOMs for AI Models

Talking a lot on the CISO Series about software bill of materials, or SBOMs, as a way to get more visibility into the software supply chain. Interesting to see a bit of that same concept applied to AI models. SBOMs suffer from a lack of quality and standardization, and I’m not sure putting something similar on a blockchain changes that.

Where Did CNET's Search Go?

CNET was one of the foundational sites for me in my early interneting. It had high-volume and high-quality articles across the tech landscape. It was early to web video (even when my dial-up did not allow me to enjoy it without an hour long buffering session) and podcasts. I learned how to build a PC from one of their videos and solved a lot of tech support challenges.

But in the 2010s it largely fell out of my browsing habits. The home page, once a place of discovery, was bloated with pop-up videos. I’d read a few articles of note in my RSS feed but much more frequently looked at other options. The Verge, among many other sites, once derided for using “bloggers,” now turning out top tier journalism in CNET’s nadir.

The struggles of CNET under CBS Interactive ownership aren’t anything new. Essentially I like the work from a lot of their staff, but it became packaged in an increasingly unpalatable site. But one thing CNET offered that no other site could touch is their long track record of coverage. Internet Archive has captures of the site back to 1996. That’s an incredible resource and a proud legacy.

However that is getting increasingly difficult to access. I recently tried to look up past winners of “Best of CES” awards. These used to be handled by CNET, before being handed to Engadget in the early-2010s. This came after the site took back an award from Dish because CBS was suing it.. But there doesn’t appear to be a comprehensive list of winners by year, either from CNET, Engadget or the CTA.

So I decided to put that list together, just for my own edification. Engadget doesn’t have a great search, but it’s usable enough. However I noticed on CNET that there is no search box anymore. It’s not at the top of the page or in the footer. It doesn’t appear on the site map. goes to a 404 page. When did this happen?


I assumed the loss of search must have happened when the site launched a big redesign in 2022. Or maybe when Red Ventures bought the company in 2020. Oddly, the death of search at the company followed neither of those milestones, at least directly.

After some digging on the Wayback Machine, I found that the search icon disappeared from the top of CNET’s homepage way back on May 24, 2019. This didn’t actually kill search, just made it invisible from the front page, the search page was still online and seemingly functional. The actual loss of search functionality came much later, under Red Venture’s ownership. The search page started returning 404 pages as of November 15, 2022. The Wayback Machine only indexed the page twice since then, with the same result.

It’s not too surprising CNET turned off search. It’s the same site that also planned to delete archives to improve it’s SEO. While it might be easy to get nostalgic in CNET’s place in tech media history, clearly that’s not a priority for its current ownership.

Maybe there still is search at CNET, but it is completely obscured to someone actively looking for it. I even tried creating an account on the site, which seemingly doesn’t do anything. I didn’t even get an account confirmation email. But it didn’t reveal search to me. If I missed it, please let me know.

Interestingly, CNET France, CNET Japan, and CNET Korea all feature search on the top of their homepages. CNET Germany redirects to ZDNet.

Glad to see Samsung guaranteeing seven years of OS updates on it’s latest Galaxy flagship phones. It’s still at a slight disadvantage to Pixel and iPhones in that these OS updates won’t be day of release (I think). But it means the biggest Android OEM is taking away one of Apple’s biggest advantages. Now let’s bring these kind of updates to their more affordable phones.

HIPB Finds Fresh Emails

Troy Hunt just added a new data breach to Have I Been Pwned that includes 33% unique email addresses, ones that haven’t been indexed on the site before. A good reminder that HIBP is an amazing service for the community and to get friends and relatives to sign up for email alerts. Guess how I found out about this new leak…

Yamaha Remembers the QY-Series Glory

Yamaha just announced an interesting little groovebox, the SEQTRAK. It’s billed as an OP-Z competitor, and I get it based on looks. I love that it comes in fun colors and has plenty of encoders (knobs). Little sad no velocity sensitive buttons but that’s par for the course. It’s got a good selection of effects, and supports stereo samples, but initial look that the sequencer might be a little basic compared to what you can get on the Elektron Model series.

Need to see how the companion app looks, I always assume that means the device doesn’t stand up on it’s own as well. If nothing else, the UI will either require attaching the phone app or a lot of button combos to remember. Biggest difference with the OP-Z is there’s no ability to integrate this into modular arrangements. That required an expansion module for CV control on the OP-Z, but still a notable capability.

Overall it looks really fun and at the $400 launch price, damn competitive. At that price it’s just a little more expensive than Teenage Engineering’s recent hit, the KO2 sampler. The SEQTRAK gives you dedicated synth engines, a mixer, per-track and master effects, and way more sampling memory for about $100 more. It’s probably still as much of a synth mom/dad musical curiosity than serious music making tool. But as an avowed member of that class, I’m glad there are more options at better price points. If nothing else I trust Yamaha’s product QC way more than Teenage Engineering at this point.

The Internet Archive is always kind of amazing. Just a 50TB free upload with no notice and everyone can access it.