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You Have 24 Hours To Review This, Go!

Okay, I've read almost all the iPhone X reviews at this point. As with movies, I typically don't like
First Draught
You Have 24 Hours To Review This, Go!
By M.G. Siegler • Issue #103 • View online
Okay, I’ve read almost all the iPhone X reviews at this point. As with movies, I typically don’t like to read reviews before I actually experience something for myself, but the whole strategy around the review roll-outs was weird enough this time around that I simply had to read them. 
First, all of us who decided to pre-order an iPhone X last week had to do so without reading a single review (beyond the brief hands-on stuff after the event last month). Second, Apple only gave a handful of people the typical week-long access to the device for their reviews. One of those was Steven Levy, who got to publish ahead of everyone else. Others included several YouTubers, who did videos yesterday. And Mike Allen, who writes the (fantastic) Axios AM newsletter. All of these make some sense to varying degrees (well, except maybe Mike Allen, as much as I love him) but the roll-out of these reviews is still weird. 
Even more so when you consider that Apple gave all the remaining “regular” reviewers just 24 hours with the device before lifting the embargo on reviews. That’s insane. I just don’t see how that benefits anyone: Apple, the reviewers, or most importantly, the public. It’s stupid.
The cynic would suggest this is the movie studio not allowing a film to be screened before it opens (always the sign of a crap movie). But the reviews are actually quite good! It’s just that most reviewers are (rightfully) saying, “we haven’t had enough time with this thing” to truly review it. 
And when you read Matthew Panzarino’s review – one of the lucky few who did get a full week with the device – you’re left even more dumbfounded because he clearly notes that it’s weird and even a little frustrating to use the device for the first few days because it’s so different from the previous generations of the iPhone. It’s only after about a week that it not only feels “normal” to use, but better to use. Apple must know this, of course. And they went with this strategy anyway. So weird. 
Anyway, I’ll get my (256 GB “Space Gray”) iPhone X on Friday with the rest of the masses. As is always the case these days, I’ll use the thing for a while before giving my take. Maybe I’ll post some quick thoughts first somewhere, but certainly not after just a day. That’s insanity. 
Drinking: a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale 🎃

The Machines Won, Then Lost To New Machines
I’ve linked to various stories about DeepMind and AlphaGo over time. The latest bit from The Economist:
The result is a program that is not just superhuman, but crushingly so. Skill at Go (and chess, and many other games) can be quantified with something called an Elo rating, which gives the probability, based on past performance, that one player will beat another. A player has a 50:50 chance of beating an opponent with the same Elo rating, but only a 25% chance of beating one with a rating 200 points higher. Mr Ke has a rating of 3,661. Mr Lee’s is 3,526. After 40 days of training AlphaGo Zero had an Elo rating of more than 5,000—putting it as far ahead of Mr Ke as Mr Ke is of a keen amateur, and suggesting that it is, in practice, impossible for Mr Ke, or any other human being, ever to defeat it. When it played against the version of AlphaGo that first beat Mr Lee, it won by 100 games to zero.
Remember when folks thought it would be decades before machines would be able to beat humans at this complex game? That was after some thought machines might never be able to. Now those machines are so far ahead that they’re lapping the machines that dominated the humans. And continuing to get better. It is both exciting and a little terrifying in the way that all truly profound things are. 
Who Wants To Be A Hundred-aire?
Everyone reading this is playing HQ, right? It’s pretty amazing. A live trivia game is hardly anything new – dating back to not only television, but radio! – but it’s very well done. And it feels like one of those things that is right place/right time. Here’s Nick Statt on it:
In a grander sense, HQ looks a lot like the future promised by “original video content,” the one every tech and media company under the sun has been desperately searching in the dark for. The app is simultaneously a TV show, a mobile game, and an advertising and product giveaway platform. It has the ephemerality of live television, the reach of an iOS app, and the universal draw of a game show trivia contest. It’s precisely the type of video product tech companies like Facebook and Snapchat and media conglomerates like Verizon have been looking for. And it arrived seemingly out of nowhere and blew up pretty much overnight.
I actually think it goes one step beyond that too. So much of technology in recent years has been about allowing us to connect on our own time, remotely. Perhaps counterintuitively, HQ works because it forces everyone to be playing the game at the exact same time. It’s thrilling in a way that no other social service is this vein is. 
It reminds me of what I liked about Beats 1 when it launched. It went against the “on demand” grain and focused on getting everyone listening to the same thing, at the same time. 
We’ll see where they take HQ – created by some of the team behind Vine, RIP 🌱😢 – but it feels like there’s a lot to do here without doing the easy thing and diverging from the everyone-live-at-the-same-time path.
Anyway, check out HQ here (iOS only currently).
Kicking the Balls
Lastly, I think we’re far enough removed from the U.S. men’s soccer team’s disgraceful failure to qualify for the World Cup to link to this brutal piece by Brian Phillips:
Christian Pulisic, the 19-year-old who’s currently the 357th anointed savior of American men’s soccer, played pretty well. The rest of the team? Well, I’d say it was like watching a group of vacationing dentists try organized sport for the first time, but there are reasons to fear dentists. Dentists know how to hurt people.
It’s just so pathetic that a country as large and athletic and diverse (not to mention wealthy) as the U.S. can’t put together a team to even qualify to compete in the World Cup. Everyone should be fired.
Especially because, while we all debate all the madness surrounding American football, soccer is going to matter a lot more over the next 50 years. I know everyone always says this, but again, timing is right
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M.G. Siegler

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