TWIT 836: Brian's OS

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

I disagree with @MikeElgan about the problem being the CSAM on the phone, the problem is the possible mission creep, going forward. They have opened the flood gates on the dam, by offering CSAM checking, but it could be used for other things going forward, depending on what pressure is put on them.

LGBT images in Romania? Anti-government content, just about anywhere, but especially in China, Saudi Arabia, Iran?

That is why they shouldn’t open the flood gates by moving CSAM checking onto the local device.

Germany has tried many times to get its Staatstrojaner (State Trojan) installed on every device in the country, but, luckily, the Constitutional Court has rejected it as unconstitutional at every turn. This will certainly put a gleam in their eye.


With regard to the IBM clone industry being the success of the platform, it could so easily have gone the othe way. There were plenty of Apple II clones, from Pear, Pineapple and Microprofessor, for example. But Apple managed to sue them into oblivion.


I’m with @MikeElgan with regards to Google reducing pay, if you move to a cheaper area.

In the UK and Germany, this has always been the case. I worked in London for a while and, while I was working there, I got “London weighting” added to my salary. This was additional money to cover traveling expenses or renting in London.

A friend did well out of it. He moved from north England to the south, the relocation included compensation for selling his 2 bedroom house up north - the company made up the 75% extra needed to get an equivalent sized house in the south.

He was then pushed back up north. No additional money this time, but moving expenses converted. Selling the 2 bed in the south for him a 5 bed house in the north. A couple of years later, they moved him back down south, he ended up with a 5 bed house worth half a million!

In Germany, I moved from Munich in the south to a small town in the north. I took a 25% pay cut, but I was still better off.

My rent went from 1300€ a month for a small flat to 450€ a month for a large studio flat. These days, even if you offered me 50% more, I wouldn’t move back to a big city. The quality of life is much better here, close to the old town centre, but walking distance to the local river and forest. Clean air and little traffic.

1 Like

Threatening to cut (or actually cutting) someone’s salary is a very sticky wicket. It will definitely leave them feeling under appreciated, and that they’re no longer being paid what they’re worth. They will at minimum become disgruntled and more likely will immediately start looking for a better paying job somewhere else (or at least a better paying job within the same company.) All this leads to lower quality and quantity of production, lots of churn inside the company (which costs money in new hiring and training costs) and leads to key skills and IP walking out the door. Salaries have been mostly stagnant for decades, while these large companies have raked in literally trillions… it’s time to cut CEO pay back to no more than, say, 20 times normal employee pay, and share the wealth with the people who actually do the work that the company profits from.

1 Like

My mind is boggled by Mike Elgan’s point about $110k being “barely getting by” in some parts of California.
Looking at to Cupertino, where the median home (with 3 Bed, 2 Bath) newly listed on Zillow is $1.79 million, or about $50k a year on a 30-year mortgage, assuming the “normal” mortgage rules apply to loans of that size.

I happen to live in a 3 Bed, 2 Bath home in the Midwest. I paid about 8% of that price, a few years ago.

For that reason, among others, I think it’s very very generous for companies like Google to cap the salary cut at 25% if you elect to work remotely.

1 Like

It hasn’t been handled well, but the reality is, if you live or work in one of the big metropolitan areas, a large part of your salary covers cost of living there.

Google, and other employers, need to make it clear, what part of your salary is for the cost of living based on where you work. If you move to a cheaper location, it is obvious that the cost of living subsidy will be reduced.

In the UK we have had the so-called “London weighting” for over 50 years - I received it in the early 80s and again in the mid 90s for those periods of time, where I was living or working in London or its commuter belt.

For Google to suddenly turn around now and tell employees that if they work in a cheaper region, part or all of that subsidy will fall away, whilst being technically correct, have gone about it wrong, because the employees were not aware that a large part of their salary was to compensate for them having to live in or near Silicon Valley.

Whilst this is obvious for people who have worked in different regions, I expect this obvious reality is hard to accept for those that have never had to deal with it.

The thing is, if they start looking for new jobs at companies in the area where they want to live, they will find they are offered a lot less, probably less than Google are offering after removing the Silicon Valley subsidy.

I expect other Silicon Valley companies will also now start doing the same thing and if the user states they want to work from home, oh and home is in Oregon, they will not get as much as if they were living in SV and going into the office each day.

As I said, I took a large pay cut to live where I now live, but I was happy to do it and I am, materially and mentally, much better off now than when I was living in a big city with a larger salary - because I was spending much more than 25% more on accommodation than I am now. Likewise, the slower pace of life outside of work is also worth more than the pay cut to live here.

People need to reevaluate their priorities and actually look at where the want to live. If the average salary where they want to live is $30,000 and Google is going to cut their salary from $100,000 to $75,000, they are going to be doing very well out of the deal! They might not be able to afford the mansion on the hill above the town, but they can live a damned sight better than they would for $100,000 in Silicon Valley. (Round numbers used make things simple, Oregon was the first remote, countryfied state that sprang to mind.)

1 Like

Exactly. When I worked in the UK, I lived on the South Coast for most of it and bought a 3 bedroom house in a small estate on the outskirts of Southampton, direct on the New Forest. The house was relatively cheap (55K). Just before I moved, I sold up and I had to move to a new office, just outside London. At the time (2001), the rent for the 49M² flat was over 1,300UKP a month “cold” (without utilities), compare to my mortgage on the old house, which was about a third of that.

The flat I moved to outside Munich, Germany was 1,100€ a month “warm” and was nearly twice the size, in Munich itself, I would probably have had a flat the equivalent to the one in England for that price. I move up north to the country half a decade later and my rent dropped by around 60%, yet the flat was bigger and better situated.

Whilst it has been poorly communicated by Google, I think these people need to reevaluate their lives, look at where they are planning to live and think about the reduced pay in context to where they are planning to live.

Google should certainly have discussed this and could have presented it better, phasing it in over time, changing their salary structure to show exactly how much was “Silicon Valley weighting” and phase the change in over a couple of years, for existing employees, for example.

But, at the end of the day, the employees have a choice, they can face the reality of earning less, if they are living in a cheaper region, or they can go back to Silicon Valley and work in the office.

1 Like

My cost of living is my business and my business alone. If I can’t get a wage to support how I want to live, I won’t take the job as offered. I am not taking the job because of where it will allow me to work, I’m taking the job because I want to put my skills to work at a job I hope to enjoy at a salary that makes me feel valued. Like it or not, people measure their worth by their salary, and they don’t take into account the fact that the job requires them to spend too much money on cost of living. Additionally, cost of living is an adjustable thing, some people would be okay living in the next city over and having a long train commute if it meant they could lower their costs. Other people will live in a group setting (shared house or apartment) if that is what suits their situation (presumably when they’re young and starting out.) All of these decisions are personal, and are none of the company’s damned business. Additionally, you signed an employment contract when you started with the company, and it stated your wages. They can’t break this contract without jeopardy, so they’d have to fire all these people and then offer them the same job at the lower wage and hope they’ll accept it.

In falling down a rabbit hole about Digital Research and Microsoft’s DOS, I read that SCP’s 86-DOS sort of did a Google/Java move in copying the API. I suspect if they had the money and determination to fight back then, they might have won.

I understand. But you will still have at least that level of “live” after the pay cut, in many cases, a better life work balance, because the cost of living will be much lower, so you can afford much more on much less money and you will have more time to enjoy it.

Where I can work is a huge factor for me. It outweighs the actual salary. Job satisfaction + location are more important than the final salary. As I said above, I happily took a large pay cut in order to have a better life, whilst still getting the same job satisfaction.

A friend was offered a 60% pay rise to move to Frankfurt last year. He did the calculations and worked out, that he would actually be financially worse off, if he took the job!

As I said last week (and again, above), Google were wrong to make this a fait accompli. It needed to be properly discussed and phased in.

I agree, how you spend the money and how you live is your own business. But companies still have to compensate people heavily for having to work in expensive areas, because the cost of living is expensive, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise if you want to work in a place with lower average income and therefore lower cost of living, that the compensation package will be reduced in accordance.

This has nothing to do with your value to the company and everything to do with the cost of living being higher, if you work in the large towns. If you decide to commute 3 hours a day, so you can get a house for 50% less than in the vicinity of the office, that is your choice. If you actually work where the houses are 50% less, then expect a lower compensation package.

This is how business has worked for hundreds of years and is common in most national and multinational businesses I’ve worked at. If they move you to an expensive area, you get extra compensation, if they move you to a cheaper area, you lose that extra compensation.

It is just that Google’s staff are deciding for themselves to live in cheaper areas and to work from home, so they have to live with the consequences. As I said, Google needs to be clear about how much of your salary is cost of living weighting for working in Silicon Valley, like most other national and international companies outside SV already do.

The employees have a choice, salary + SV weighting and go into the office in SV or move elsewhere and lose the SV weighting. But until Google changes its terms, it can’t just say, oh, and SV weighting was 25% of your salary… They need to justify that and phase it in over time, for those that want to move away and work from home.

It is only logical and fair, what they are offering (long term), but how they offered it isn’t right (short term).

1 Like

Will someone please tell Leo that Salesforce does NOT own Salesforce Tower, and had nothing to do with its construction or design?

Thanks for the correction. I seriously had no idea. They’re the primary tenant, of course, and it was Marc Benioff’s idea to put the dancers in the top.

I’m pretty sure the people of SF blame Salesforce for it, even if they didn’t actually build it.



The German government is getting in on the CSAM discussion now… Surprisingly, it is strongly against Apple’s move to put CSAM recognition on the iPhone and strongly urge them to rethink their position and remove it.

The German Government committee “Digital Agenda” sees it as a dangerous precedent that undermines the trust in private communications.

They say Apple should remove it due to foreseeable problems for the company, as well as the information society.

Digital Agenda chairman Manuel Höferlin (FDP): CSAM is the :

“größte Dammbruch für die Vertraulichkeit der Kommunikation, den wir seit der Erfindung des Internets erleben” (The biggest dam burst for the trust in communications, that we have seen since the invention of the Internet.)

“Every scanned content destroys the trust of users, that their communications are not being monitored. Without trusted communications, the Internet will become the biggest surveilance instrument in history.”

That is hartes Tabak, as they say in Germany (strong stuff or literally strong tobacco). But hardly surprising, coming from a country that suffered under to heavy surveillance regimes in the last century.

Very nice analysis from someone involved in NCMEC reporting. Not very complimentary about Apple’s public statements though.

I surmise one reason they do it in the phone is so the image is not unencrypted in whole on any server located in any nation state. But why would server-side scanning of your files be preferable to scanning on the phone? Even in this case where it’s just a hash. Say apple calculated a hash of your image and sent that hash to an apple server in Cupertino. Why is that preferable?

As for whether Apple is suddenly now more vulnerable to a nation state’s laws forcing them to write and deploy privacy-busting code, why now? Apple ships millions of lines of code to the iPhone. Why is it now that these nations will hypothetically feel they have the power to twist apples arm into doing something nefarious? This risk was already there and exists for every phone manufacturer. And for every app you install. Yet checking for uploaded child porn is a step too far down the slippery slope.


Neither are acceptable. The problem is any processing on the phone. It has nothing to do with CSAM itself, but the principal that doing the scanning on the phone breaks the phones integrity.

If I have already given up control of the files (uploading them to the cloud), I have no expectation that they cannot be seen by the hoster - unless I encrypt them myself, before I upload them.

Until now, “what you do on your phone, stays on your phone” was Apple’s key selling point on privacy, compared to Android. Now they are saying that is no longer the case.

Because, until now, Apple has said it wasn’t possible and refused to do it. Now they have proven that they can easily do it.


I want my device to have a certain level of loyalty to me. Its operating system should not actively act against my interests, and should attempt to prevent apps running on it from acting against my interests. Ideally, the response of the OS/device vendor to a demand from a third party to do things against my interests is “we have no capability to do that, or it’s mathematically impossible”. Apple previously took exactly that position in response to the FBI and appeared ready to litigate an order to create such a capability.

A file storage/sharing service running on someone else’s computers is a little different. I typically expect such a service to take some steps to prevent use for illegal purposes, such as checking for the presence of known-criminal content in unencrypted files stored on their computers.

Apple is now trying to split the difference. They want my device to act against my interests by checking whether I’m using it to commit a crime, but only if I’m uploading said crime to Apple’s servers. On one level, these have the same effect, but Apple’s approach crosses the bright line between my device and theirs.

The bright line may sound abstract and philosophical to some, but there’s an important consequence: the technical ability to scan the phone for any content and report it to Apple is now present. Apple cannot truthfully respond that mathematics precludes it or that the operating system doesn’t have a mechanism to provide that capability.

Once this door is open, it’s not a question of if it will be used for other purposes, but when.

1 Like

What impact will deep fake technology have on the criminal justice system? We all know the human memory isn’t always reliable so, if we can’t rely on CCTV or phone records to tie someone to a particular crime, then the presumption will probably have to be guilty because it’ll be next to impossible to prove your innocence which is not a world I particularly want to live in.
I have a duel SIM feature phone, made by Doro, which is meant for seniors but thats irrelevant. Although you can only change the battery, as far as I know, but it does have screws on the back so, maybe, it is fully repairable so I can’t help feeling that, if we all care about the environment as much as we say, we’d all go to using feature phones as our daily driver. That might send a message to all these companies to let them know that we care about using tech that isn’t environmentally damaging.

Apple would still have to co-operate with you and I could easily see them taking the attitude of “we’ll do it for child porn and terrorism, but not for you” although it probably would get them banned by that government

And if that market is important enough, they won’t do it. At the end of the day, they are still a for-profit.