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Code/red: A Rackin', Frackin' Yosemite Open Beta

Plus, Surface Mini’s untimely end, Apple’s massive R&D spend and the first volley of Amazon Fire phone reviews.


  • Angie’s List, Facebook and Qualcomm all report earnings.

Apple to Turn a Million Visitors Loose in Yosemite

Fall is coming early for a legion of hardcore Mac users. Tomorrow, Apple will release its first public beta of OS X Yosemite, offering one million willing guinea pigs the chance to test the operating system months ahead of its general public release. This is the third time Apple has offered a limited consumer beta for a major OS release. The first was a decade ago ahead of the original OS X launch, the second was last April, when Apple opened its Beta Seed program for Mavericks.

Foursquare Rearranges Deck Chairs …

… Verge applauds new deck chair design.

Coroner’s Report: Surface Mini Strangled in Crib

Remember the mysterious Surface Mini? The diminutive and unannounced Microsoft tablet that figured so prominently in the Surface Pro 3 user guide? Microsoft pretty much confirmed its existence and ill-starred fate in the Surface breakout portion of its fourth-quarter earnings report yesterday: “Current year cost of revenue included Surface inventory adjustments resulting from our transition to newer generation devices and a decision to not ship a new form factor.”

Apple Pads R&D Budget With New “Holy Crap, We Need to Disrupt Something Else, Quick!” Fund

Walter Piecyk, BTIG Research: “The ramp of R&D expense is a good indicator that Apple is working diligently on something new. R&D investment topped 4 percent of revenue, a level it has not reached since 2006, in the quarters before the first iPhone launch. In absolute terms, Apple is investing $420 million more per quarter than it was just a year ago.”

YouTube Music Head Retention Plan Astonishingly Ineffective

YouTube has lost its second head of music in less than a year. Chris LaRosa, a four-year YouTube veteran, is leaving the company Friday. His departure follows that of Nikhil Chandhok, who bailed on YouTube last fall after overseeing its paid music subscription and live-streaming efforts.

Point/Counterpoint: Bullying Customers Is Not Our Policy vs. Oh, Yes It Is

Comcast on its customer service rep from hell, July 15, 2014: “The way in which our representative communicated … is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives.”

Comcast Chief Operating Officer Dave Watson, July 23, 2014: “The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do.”

Insert Lame “Lukewarm Fire Reviews” Joke Here

With Amazon’s new Fire phone headed to market on Friday, the first reviews of the device began publishing last night, and they suggest that it’s not the “delighter” that CEO Jeff Bezos claims, but a too-late-to-market smartphone for compulsive shoppers supported by largely useless gimmicks. Here’s what the reviewers are saying about it:

  • Walt Mossberg, Re/code: “I consider the Amazon Fire phone no more than an interesting first step. In my tests, I found its big new features less useful than I expected, and sometimes outright frustrating.”
  • Farhad Manjoo, the New York Times: “An indistinct slab of glass and plastic, the Fire phone looks more like a minimalist prototype than a finished product.”
  • Brad Molen, Engadget: “By no means is the Fire a horrible phone, but it’s a forgettable one.”
  • David Pierce, The Verge: “Amazon’s first smartphone is a series of interesting ideas in a package that is somehow much less than the sum of its parts.”
  • Geoffrey Fowler, The Wall Street Journal: “The Fire is the grown-up equivalent of a nine-year-old riding a bike with his hands in the air. ‘Look, Ma, no hands!’ It’s a neat gimmick, but it won’t get you very far.”

Captain’s Log, Stardate 2014.7.22: This Facebook Mentions App Blows

William Shatner: “When you install the Mentions App you cannot proceed further until you follow another one of their other ‘celebrity’ accounts. The first person on the list I was given was George Takei (rolling my eyes.) … I’m not quite sure why Facebook released this app for ‘celebrities.’ It seems to be ill conceived.”

Point/Counterpoint: Get Ready for One Windows vs. Wait, That Wouldn’t Make Sense at All

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: “We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: “Our SKU strategy will remain by segment, we will have multiple SKUs for enterprise, for OEM, and end-users. … My statement was more to do with how we are bringing teams together to approach Windows as one ecosystem very differently than we ourselves have done in the past.”

Cloudy With a Chance of Mayflies

Gwen Pearson, Wired: “This week Wisconsin-ites were treated to a mayfly emergence. Just how many mayflies are there? Enough that they show up on weather radar.”

Off Topic

Impressionist Lewis Macleod reads “Little Red Riding Hood” (site not suitable for those with an aversion to creative profanity).

Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments and Bug-a-salts to, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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