London Output Area Classification >> DataShine
If you live in London, find out which of eight different "tribes" (city vibe, urban elites, etc) you belong to, based on data from the 2011 Census. A fabulous use of the London Data Store's data, and a great use of free data.
opendata  freeourdata 
october 2014
Fake news sites are using Facebook to spread Ebola panic >> The Verge
<blockquote class="quoted">here’s a scary story bouncing around Facebook, accruing hundreds of thousands of likes: the small town of Purdon, Texas, has been quarantined after a family of five was diagnosed with Ebola. The story is a total hoax, put out by a deeply cynical site called the National Report. But to the 340,000 people who saw it pop up in their news feed, it looked real enough to share.

"We’ve seen stories on satire sites — fake news sites — getting tremendous traction because they feed on people’s fears," says Craig Silverman, the founder of <a href="">Emergent.Info</a>. "It’s really becoming an epidemic now."

There's satire, and then there's plain crap. Emergent, though, is neither - it's truly useful.
satire  news  emergent 
october 2014
Trim Enabler and Yosemite >> Cindori
Trim Enabler was a useful app to enable third-party SSDs on Macs using older versions of Mac OS X. But: <blockquote class="quoted">In OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), Apple has introduced a new security requirement called kext signing. (A kext is a kernel extension, or a driver, in Mac OS X)

Kext signing basically works by checking if all the drivers in the system are unaltered by a third party, or approved by Apple. If they have been modified, Yosemite will no longer load the driver. This is a means of enforcing security, but also a way for Apple to control what hardware that third party developers can release OS X support for.

Since Trim Enabler works by unlocking the Trim driver for 3rd party SSD’s, this security setting prevents Trim Enabler to enable Trim on Yosemite.

Not good news if you've got a third-party SSD drive - which has for years been one of the best ways to "refresh" an older machine. Beware.
mac  trim  yosemite 
october 2014
Why #Gamergaters piss me the f*** off >> Medium
Ex-NFL player and longtime videogame player Chris Kluwe: <blockquote class="quoted">So many people are playing games now that they are popular culture. They are not going away. All sorts of cool things, that I like, are now things that a whole bunch of other people like! There’s enough space now for people to make games that are strange and disturbing and maybe highlight a different perspective of the world, because gaming is no longer a niche activity, it’s something that everybody does. There is room for art in video games. That’s awesome!

That's about the longest passage without the sort of swearing that would have Malcolm Tucker raising his eyebrows in appreciation. (If you imagine it spoken in Peter Capaldi's angry voice it's even better.) Make the time to read it.
games  gamergate 
october 2014
How bad UX killed Jenny >> Medium
Jonathan Shariat: <blockquote class="quoted">Jenny, as we will call her because the patient's name was never shared, was a little girl who had previously been in the hospital ward for cancer for four years and was discharged. Then a while later she relapsed and had to be given a very strong chemo treatment medicine. This medicine is so strong and so toxic that it requires pre-hydration and post-hydration for three days with I.V. fluid. However, after the medicine was administered, three nurses were attending to the charting software to enter in everything required of them and make the appropriate orders, missed a very critical piece of information. Jenny was supposed to be given 3 days of I.V. hydration. But the three nurses, with over 10 years experience, were too distracted trying to figure out the software they were using, they completely missed it.

When the morning nurse came in the next day, she had died of toxicity and dehydration. For two shifts, she had missed her hydration and all because the three, very good nurses, were stuck trying to figure this out…

The screenshot he posts is indeed a nightmare of user-hostility. Worth remembering: poor interface design can be literally lethal.
ux  health  design 
october 2014
How big data is unfair >> Medium
Moritz Hardt on the limits of "big data": <blockquote class="quoted">Ironically, Gilian Tett is well known for reporting on the failure of such things as “multi-variable equations” in the wake of the financial crisis, but she is perplexingly quick to accept that multi-variable equations are neutral and therefore fair, because the “computer experts” (whatever that means) at the police station asserted them to be so.

My goal is not to belabor this one example. Instead I’d like to refute the claim that “machine learning is fair by default”. I don’t mean to suggest that machine learning is inevitably unfair, but rather that there are powerful forces that can render decision making that depends on learning algorithms unfair. Any claim of fair decision making that does not address the technical issues that I’m about to discuss should strike you as dubious.
bigdata  algorithm  culture 
october 2014
Supreme Court asked to make it clear that APIs are not copyrightable >> Techdirt
Mike Masnick: <blockquote class="quoted">of course, CAFC [Court of Appeals for the Federal Court, which ruled that APIs are copyrightable] is not the final stop in the line (even if some patent trolls wish it were). As was fully expected, Google has now <a href="">asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal</a> on the case. Google's <a href="">petition</a> is a good read highlighting the "disarray" in the various different circuits about whether or not copyright law applies to APIs. The law itself (<a href="">Section 102(b)</a>) is pretty explicit: "In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work." Many of us clearly think that APIs fit under this as a system or method of operation. But, others disagree.

These are the embers of Oracle's lawsuit against Google claiming that Android infringed both patent and copyright. The patent side fizzled; now Oracle needs a result on API copyrightability. If it gets it, the case would come back to life.
api  oracle  google  lawsuit  copyright 
october 2014
Here’s why public Wi-fi is a public health hazard >> Matter
Maurits Martijn: <blockquote class="quoted">In his backpack, Wouter Slotboom, 34, carries around a small black device, slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes, with an antenna on it. I meet Wouter by chance at a random cafe in the center of Amsterdam. It is a sunny day and almost all the tables are occupied. Some people talk, others are working on their laptops or playing with their smartphones.

Wouter removes his laptop from his backpack, puts the black device on the table, and hides it under a menu. A waitress passes by and we ask for two coffees and the password for the WiFi network. Meanwhile, Wouter switches on his laptop and device, launches some programs, and soon the screen starts to fill with green text lines. It gradually becomes clear that Wouter’s device is connecting to the laptops, smartphones, and tablets of cafe visitors.
security  hacking  wifi 
october 2014
KnowYour4: Four Numbers Can Predict Your Risk of a Heart Attack
Total cholesterol, HDLcholesterol, blood pressure and smoking. That's all. (Many people probably only know one of those; most, only two.)
october 2014
Japan adopts "right to be forgotten" >> EPIC
<blockquote class="quoted">A Japanese court has ordered Google to delete about half of the search result for a man linked to a crime he didn't commit. Judge Nobuyuki Seki of the Tokyo District Court said that the search results "infringe personal rights," and had harmed the plaintiff. A recent poll also found that 61% of Americans favour the EU Court of Justice decision regarding the right to be forgotten. And Canada is now debating the establishment of a similar legal right.

Only <em>half</em> the search results?
google  rtbf 
october 2014
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review: a superior device gives a glimpse of computing’s future >>
Farhad Manjoo: <blockquote class="quoted">the Note 4 has a stylus, which Apple fans have long argued was proof of its inferiority. They’re wrong; despite Steve Jobs’s objections, the stylus is a handy tool for manipulating such a big phone, and after using the Note, I often found myself missing it when I went back to the iPhone.

With the Note, Samsung is aiming for something transformative, a device that is more than just a big phone: The Note 4 feels like an ambitious effort to reach for the future of computing, in which our phones are more useful and powerful than PCs, and in which we barely bother with any other kinds of computers.
samsung  phablet 
october 2014
The future of the culture wars is here, and it's Gamergate >> Deadspin
Kyle Wagner: <blockquote class="quoted">In many ways, Gamergate is an almost perfect closed-bottle ecosystem of bad internet tics and shoddy debating tactics. Bringing together the grievances of video game fans, self-appointed specialists in journalism ethics, and dedicated misogynists, it's captured an especially broad phylum of trolls and built the sort of structure you'd expect to see if, say, you'd asked the old Fires of Heaven message boards to swing a Senate seat. It's a fascinating glimpse of the future of grievance politics as they will be carried out by people who grew up online.

You can ignore the Gamergate-related stuff, but it's that last sentence which makes this piece worth reading.
journalism  gaming  gamergate  culture 
october 2014
Ireland to abolish controversial ‘double Irish’ tax arrangement >> The Guardian
<blockquote class="quoted">The arrangement, which has drawn the wrath of the US Senate as well as the Republic’s EU partners, helped global corporations to move most of their taxable revenue from an operating firm in Ireland to an Irish registered firm in an offshore tax haven.

Bowing to pressure from international criticism, Irish finance minister Michael Noonan confirmed during his budget speech to the Dáil on Tuesday that the tax arrangement would be ended fully within four years.

The fallout from this on a number of companies' profits is going to be fun to watch.
ireland  tax 
october 2014
My take on Google+ today >> Chuqui
Chuq von Rospach has run a bird photography group on Google+ for some years, but has seen a falloff in participation: <blockquote class="quoted">One thing I wanted to know was whether this stagnation I’ve seen was a problem in this group, or more widespread. So I’ve spent a couple of weeks of evenings digging into communities across G+ looking for ones I thought were interesting and doing more than “post pictures and plus them” type interactions.

Frankly, while those kind of groups exist, they’re really rare, and the admins put a lot of work into building the interactions within the group because it’s clear for them G+ doesn’t make it easy for them, either. So it’s not how we’re running the group, it’s how G+ is designed. Mostly, what I found was a lot of empty groups without anyone managing them, full of spam, wallpaper reshares and low value crap.

It’s incredibly hard to find groups where there’s real conversation and discussion. For the record, discovery on G+ is ludicrously bad. I can’t even tell it I only want to see groups in English, so there are many nights the list of “Communities you might like” were in Russian, or Korean, or Japanese, or in random languages I couldn’t identify. One night G+ insisted I really wanted to see middle-aged singles dating groups, another night it was race cars, and another night my recommendation list was full of groups of nothing but groups of animated gifs of cats and dogs and other cute stuff. Kawaii! Seriously, the crap I do in the name of research…

My takeaway from all of this; Google doesn’t really give a damn about communities. They put them out here, and then basically ignored them. Discovery is terrible — I think those recommended lists are effectively random pulls from the database. it’s amateur stuff.

He wonders if photographers, who were enthusiastic adopters of Google+, have begun to withdraw from it. But if so, where have they gone now?
october 2014
Free Wi-Fi on city buses and buildings as Oxford gets super connected >> Oxford City Council
<blockquote class="quoted">The City Council has secured funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to deliver Wi-Fi on buses and free to enter buildings as part of the Super Connected Cities programme.
The city's two main bus operators, Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach, will have installed Wi-Fi on virtually all buses within the Oxford Smart Zone by the end of November.

In addition, Super Connected Oxford will also make available a Wireless concession in the streets of the city and Wi-Fi Hotspots in free to enter public buildings by April next year. Residents and visitors to the city can expect to enjoy free Wi-Fi in all City Council community centres, libraries and museums such as The Ashmolean and Museum of Natural History.
oxford  wifi 
october 2014
Snapchat can't stop the parasite apps that screw its users >> WIRED
Andy Greenberg: <blockquote class="quoted">even if Snapchat users’ data was accessed via someone else’s servers, that doesn’t make the breach any less of Snapchat’s problem, says security researcher Adam Caudill. He’s been reverse engineering Snapchat’s API to demonstrate exactly the problem of rogue third party apps for years. “Your average developer can build something in a day’s time that interacts with Snapchat’s API and saves everything that comes through it,” Caudill says. “Quite honestly, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner.”

Caudill first warned Snapchat in 2012 that he had analyzed its API and could build a pirate app that stripped out its time-deletion features. “Given the nature of the application, I suspect unofficial clients are unavoidable…especially as the service grows in popularity,” he wrote at the time.

How do you prevent, in perpetuity, a third-party app with the correct login details from accessing your server?
snapchat  hack 
october 2014
Stop supporting Gamergate >> The Verge
T.C.Sottek: <blockquote class="quoted"><a href="">as Peter Frase wrote in Jacobin</a>, there’s a reactionary right-wing flavour to all of Gamergate’s desperate yelling. (Liz Ryerson was the first to thoroughly document this extremism.) "Some gamers would like it both ways: they want everyone to take their medium seriously, but they don’t want anyone to challenge their political assumptions or call into question the way gamers treat people who don’t look and think like them," Frase wrote. "They hate and fear a world where games are truly made by and for everyone."

What gives Gamergate power and momentum is its extremist conservative obstinacy; it is a reactionary movement against progressive voices that hoodwinks typically apolitical game players by convincing them of some harm that doesn’t actually exist, like they are losing their right to free speech, or their hobby is being killed by an anti-gamer conspiracy. Once you’ve insinuated something like that, whether or not it’s true, it’s easy to get a lot of people on your side; a closely related project is to get people hyped up about people stealing votes to justify racially and politically biased ID laws, even though voter fraud in the United States is a mythical boogeyman.
october 2014
The amazing progress of LEDs, in one chart >> Vox
<blockquote class="quoted">Everyone knows about Moore's law, which says that the number of transistors in a computer chip (and, therefore, its computing power) doubles every 18 to 24 months. It has a less famous cousin called <a href="'s_law">Haitz's law</a>. It says that every 10 years, the power of LED lighting packages will increase by a factor of 20, while the cost of these packages, per unit of illumination, will fall by a factor of 10.

The law is named after Roland Haitz, who made the forecast in 2000. And so far, the industry has actually exceeded his expectations…

Recently progress has accelerated, so that you can now get LED packages that produce 1,000 lumens of light. If current trends continue you'll be able to buy 10,000-lumen LED lights in a few years.

For comparison, a 100-watt incandescent light bulb produces around 1,700 lumens. So LED lights are becoming nearly as bright as conventional lighting sources.

We should all be lighting our homes with LEDs very soon.
led  lighting  haitz 
october 2014
The Empire reboots >> Vanity Fair
Huge in-depth profile and history of Gates, Ballmer, Nadella and Microsoft: <blockquote class="quoted">“The worst work I did was from 2001 to 2004,” says Ballmer. “And the company paid a price for bad work. I put the A-team resources on Longhorn, not on phones or browsers. All our resources were tied up on the wrong thing.” Who shoulders the blame is a matter of debate, but the fact is neither Ballmer nor Gates stopped the failure from happening, even as almost everyone else saw it coming.

Ballmer likes to note that the lines of authority were not clear, which is part of what makes thinking about his tenure complicated: “Before I became C.E.O., I felt pretty completely responsible for the company,” Ballmer says. “And I didn’t feel completely in charge until Bill left [entirely in 2008].” It is a well-known part of Microsoft history that Ballmer and Gates fought bitterly during the first year of transition. Among other things, when an engineer was displeased with Ballmer, he’d go to Gates. Some Microsoft employees from that era refer to Ballmer and Gates as “Mom and Dad,” and recall that no one knew which parent was in charge.

microsoft  ballmer  gates  nadella 
october 2014
Windows 10: You've got questions, I've got answers >> ZDNet
Ed Bott with seven (already) frequently-asked questions, including "OMG DID YOU KNOW IT HAS A KEYLOGGER??"
october 2014
Trouble at the Koolaid Point >> Serious Pony
Kathy Sierra, who has (wearily) been experiencing online harassment since 2005, on how social media is now enabling and amplifying it: <blockquote class="quoted">The hater trolls are looking for their next dopamine hit. If you don’t provide it, they’ll try harder. But the escalation to get a response from you? That’s not even the worst escalation problem.

The more dangerous social-web-fueled gamification of trolling is the unofficial troll/hate leader-board. The attacks on you are often less about scoring points against you than that they’re trying to out-do one another. They’re trying to out-troll, out-hate, out-awful the other trolls. That’s their ultimate goal. He who does the worst wins.

Which may explain the slow, steady increase in both frequency and horror of online harassment. What was mostly drive-by nasty comments in 2001 then progressed to Photoshopped images (your child on a porn image is a particularly “fun” one), and what’s after images? Oh, yeah, the “beat up Anita” game. And what’s left when you’ve done as much digital damage as you can?

Real-life damage. 

It's an important essay, which has a simple offering for its solution: "be nice". Everyone's capable of it.
twitter  gender  feminism  harassment 
october 2014
Adobe ebook DRM secretly builds and transmits a dossier of your reading habits >> Boing Boing
<blockquote class="quoted">The latest version of Adobe's Digital Editions, a DRM system widely used for ebooks, gathers enormous amounts of sensitive personal information about its users' reading habits and transmits them, in the clear, to Adobe.

Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader used a network monitor to watch what Digital Editions 4 did after he installed it, and caught the software exfiltrating an unencrypted file containing an index of all the books in his library to Adobe. Adobe did not respond to Hoffelder's request for comments. Hoffelder has supplied a <a href="">copy of the file that DE4 built</a> and transmitted from his computer. It should be pretty straightforward to replicate this on your own computer if you'd like to verify Hoffelder's findings.

Hoffelder says: "Adobe is gathering data on the ebooks that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order. All of this data, including the title, publisher, and other metadata for the book is being sent to Adobe’s server in clear text."
adobe  drm 
october 2014
Samsung's days of massive smartphone-driven earnings over on iPhone, Xiaomi challenge: analysts >> Financial Express
<blockquote class="quoted">Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's profit is seen weakening further in the third-quarter, underscoring the downturn in its market-leading smartphone business and piling pressure on the firm to deliver a revamped product lineup.

Analysts forecast the world's largest smartphone maker, which is due to give its July-September earnings guidance on or around 7 October, to show its worst operating profit in nearly three years, with a slow recovery seen starting in the fourth quarter.

And for the first time in more than three years, Samsung's semiconductor business could bring in more profits in the quarter than its erstwhile cash-cow handset business, some analysts say.
"What's expected now is for the company to hit bottom and gradually recover, but we have now seen smartphone-related earnings peak," Korea Investment Trust Management fund manager Baik Jae-yer said.

The mean of analysts' forecasts is a 45% fall to 5.6trn won (about $5.28bn). Samsung's semiconductor division last generated more profit than the mobile division in the second quarter of 2011, when Samsung shipped a total of just under 70m phones (of which 17m were smartphones).
samsung  profit 
october 2014
Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest >> The New Yorker
Simon Parkin: <blockquote class="quoted">Depression Quest eschews the usual characteristics of most video games: there is no victorious ending and, as the developers warn in the preamble text, the game “is not meant to be a fun or light-hearted experience.” It is, instead, one of a growing number of video games that hopes to broaden the medium’s subject matter with depictions of life’s darker aspects. That Dragon, Cancer, which will be released later this year, is an autobiographical game about living with a terminally ill child (David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, the director of “Call Me Kuchu,” are filming a documentary about the Green family’s journey while the game is in development). In Hush, you play a displaced Darfuri child trying to retrieve water while avoiding janjaweed militia patrols.

This group of games shares few similarities with Super Mario’s spatial-reasoning puzzles and Call of Duty’s shooting-gallery tests of reaction speed, typical attributes of video games that dominate the medium. Some of the hatred directed at Quinn has come from video-game enthusiasts who think that the darker themes are not suitable for video games, which they believe should be playful and primarily focussed on entertaining.

Rolls the whole topic (including #g_m_rg_t_) into one neat piece. Quinn has, you realise, been going through a quest of her own too.
games  gamergate  quinn 
october 2014
Microsoft unveils the future of Windows >>
<blockquote class="quoted">The early technical preview of Windows 10 demonstrates new levels of flexibility, navigation and familiarity through the Windows experience. Features include these:

• Expanded Start menu. The familiar Start menu is back, providing quick one-click access to the functions and files that people use most, and it includes a new space to personalize with favorite apps, programs, people and websites.

• Apps that run in a window. Apps from the Windows Store now open in the same format that desktop programs do. They can be resized and moved around, and have title bars at the top allowing users to maximize, minimize and close with a click.

• Snap enhancements. Working in multiple apps at once is easier and more intuitive with snap improvements. A new quadrant layout allows up to four apps to be snapped on the same screen. Windows will also show other apps and programs running for additional snapping, and it will even make smart suggestions on filling available screen space with other open apps.

• New Task view button. The new Task view button on the task bar enables one view for all open apps and files, allowing for quick switching and one-touch access to any desktop created.

• Multiple desktops. Instead of too many apps and files overlapping on a single desktop, it’s easy to create and switch between distinct desktops for different purposes and projects — whether for work or personal use.

The Start menu won the cage match with Windows RT. (Also, proofreading: saying "Features include these:" is prolix. "Features include:" would be perfect.)
september 2014
Uber Optics >> The Awl
Matt Buchanan: <blockquote class="quoted"><a href="">This post on Uber's blog almost feels like a parody</a>. Surely, no modern, wealthy society—say, one in which an app-powered "your own private driver" service might thrive—would force professional, full-time teachers to also drive cars in order to make a living, nor would anyone celebrate that it was happening. Certainly you wouldn't expect corporations to rush to attach themselves to the phenomenon. And yet. Something, something, teachers, free markets, living wages, man.

The problem with Uber self-seriously announcing that it "provides teachers with the flexibility and opportunity they need to continue creating a foundation of excellence for students across the country" is ultimately a matter of tone, not the literal fact that teachers are using Uber to supplement their incomes. (Lots of teachers work summer jobs!) Had Uber tweaked the language the slightly, with a pinch of outrage—"Every day teachers are asked to do more with less, constantly faced with new challenges and limited resources, and it astounding that they have to use Uber to generate those resources"—it would seem almost righteous, rather than crassly exploitative of the ills of the American education system.
uber  randian 
september 2014
The European Commission is not about to fine Apple; nor even to accuse the company of anything >> Forbes
Tim Worstall: <blockquote class="quoted">There has been no finding of fact and no finding of illegality. That just isn’t the way that European Commission investigations work. Just not how they do their public policy.

The FT claimed:
Apple will be accused of prospering from illegal tax deals with the Irish government for more than two decades when Brussels this week unveils details of a probe that could leave the iPhone maker with a record fine of as much as several billions of euros.

Preliminary findings from the European Commission’s investigation into Apple’s tax affairs in Ireland, where it has had a rate of less than 2 per cent, claim the Silicon Valley company benefited from illicit state aid after striking backroom deals with Ireland’s authorities, according to people involved in the case.

This simply isn’t so. And over and above the error concerning the content of the reports there is no possibility of a fine upon Apple whatsoever. For in cases of illegal state aid there never is a fine levied upon the company or recipient of such aid. The government that allowed or paid out the aid must recover it, that’s true, but there’s no fines over and above that even if there’s a finding of said illegal aid. Again, this just isn’t how the Commission undertakes its public policy on these matters.

Damn fact-based reporting.
apple  ec  tax 
september 2014
iPhone 6 and 6 Plus bend test >> Consumer Reports News
<blockquote class="quoted">Apple applies 25 kilograms (slightly more than 55 pounds) of force to an iPhone 6 Plus to test flex. What does 55 pounds mean in context? Using our Instron, we found that it's approximately the force required to break three pencils.

Consumer Reports' tests pushed the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus much further than 55 pounds. We started light, applying 10 pounds of force for 30 seconds, then releasing the force. Then we increased the force in 10-pound increments, noted when the phones first started to deform (that's what our engineers call it) and stopped the test for each phone when we saw the screen come loose from the case.

The results: all the phones we tested showed themselves to be pretty tough. The iPhone 6 Plus, the more robust of the new iPhones in our testing, started to deform when we reached 90 pounds of force, and came apart with 110 pounds of force. With those numbers, it slightly outperformed the HTC One (which is largely regarded as a sturdy, solid phone), as well as the smaller iPhone 6, yet underperformed some other smart phones.

Throughout most of our test, the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 bent, then recovered completely from each step up in force. But at 130 pounds, the case of the G3 fractured. At 150 pounds of force, the Note 3's screen splintered and it stopped working.

The iPhone 6 turns out to be weaker under this test than the 6 Plus. And slightly stronger than the this year's HTC One M8.
bendgate  iphone 
september 2014
Everything you need to know about the Shellshock Bash bug >> Troy Hunt
<blockquote class="quoted">Remember Heartbleed? If you believe the hype today, Shellshock is in that league and with an equally awesome name albeit bereft of a cool logo (someone in the marketing department of these vulns needs to get on that). But in all seriousness, it does have the potential to be a biggie and as I did with Heartbleed, I wanted to put together something definitive both for me to get to grips with the situation and for others to dissect the hype from the true underlying risk.

And when he says definitive, he is.
security  linux  shell  bash  shellshock 
september 2014
'Bendgate' video: is it fake? Questions over editing >> Pocket-Lint
Elyse Betters: <blockquote class="quoted">It's worth mentioning that one of the most popular videos from yesterday, which reportedly showed an iPhone 6 Plus bending with little pressure applied, appears to be edited in a way that might reveal the video is a fake.

Notice the video shows the iPhone 6 Plus drastically bending at 1:40 minutes, and the time on the phone at that point displays 2:26 PM. The man in the video then proceeds to explain around 2:35 minutes into the video that he just finished bending the phone with his thumbs.

But there's one problem with that version of events: The iPhone 6 Plus he supposedly "just" bent displays the time - 1:59 PM - around 2:45 minutes into the video, roughly 27 minutes before the smartphone is shown succumbing to little pressure.
bendgate  iphone  fake 
september 2014
Brain Corporation offers a way to train robots by demonstration, not coding >> MIT Technology Review
<blockquote class="quoted">Izhikevich’s startup, Brain Corporation, based in San Diego, has developed an operating system for robots called BrainOS to make that possible. To teach a robot running the software to pick up trash, for example, you would use a remote control to repeatedly guide its gripper to perform that task. After just minutes of repetition, the robot would take the initiative and start doing the task for itself. “Once you train it, it’s fully autonomous,” says Izhikevich, who is cofounder and CEO of the company.

Izhikevich says the approach will make it easier to produce low-cost service robots capable of simple tasks. Programming robots to behave intelligently normally requires significant expertise, he says, pointing out that the most successful home robot today is the Roomba, released in 2002. The Roomba is preprogrammed to perform one main task: driving around at random to cover as much of an area of floor as possible.
robotos  programming 
september 2014
Now you can quickly share the best parts of your GoPro videos, with BrightSky Labs’ App ’10’ >> TechCrunch
<blockquote class="quoted">The 10 app was created to reduce the friction GoPro users currently have when finding and editing videos to share. Currently, anyone who attaches a GoPro to their snowboard, surfboard or any other device usually ends up waiting until they get home and upload videos to their computers before being able to access them. Then they have to go through the trouble of sorting through all the content they recorded for just the choice bits and cut them down before uploading them to YouTube or other networks.

BrightSky Labs hopes to simplify that process, which they believe will make for a lot more shareable and shared GoPro content making its way online. The 10 app makes it simple for extreme sports enthusiasts to finish recording, check out the videos they’ve recorded, and get right back to the slopes or the surf, or whatever it is they’re being extreme on.
september 2014
iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus hit India’s grey markets, prices touch Rs 140,000 for the 64GB iPhone 6 Plus >> BGR India
<blockquote class="quoted">Apple will be launching the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in India on October 17. With less than a month to go for the official launch, the smartphones have hit India’s grey markets, with prices touching a ridiculous Rs 140,000 for the iPhone 6 Plus 64GB variant.

In Delhi’s grey markets, the 16GB variant of the iPhone 6 is priced as much as Rs 80,000. The bigger iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, is retailing at Rs 120,000 for the 16GB variant, and Rs 140,000 for the 64GB variant.

Last year, before the iPhone 5S was officially launched, it too hit the grey markets in India. It retailed for around Rs 75,000 for the 16GB variant, and the rare gold colored variant was available for as much as Rs 115,000.

Rs 140,000 is about £1,400; the iPhone 6 Plus 64GB retails for £699 in the UK.
iphone6plus  india 
september 2014
Mandatory Google+ Gmail integration quietly shelved >> WordStream
<blockquote class="quoted">Rumours of the decoupling of Google+ and Gmail first surfaced in the spring. Google, unsurprisingly, hasn’t exactly gone out of its way to shout about the change from the rooftops, instead choosing to quietly shelve the mandatory integration which had previously been in place since 2012.

Although the change means that new Gmail users will no longer be forced to sign up for Google+, they’ll still have the option to do so, as you can see in the image above.

Conscious uncoupling?
google  google+ 
september 2014
FBI investigating death threats against Feminist Frequency creator Sarkeesian >> Polygon
<blockquote class="quoted">The FBI is investigating death threats and online abuse that Feminist Frequency's Tropes vs Women in Games creator Anita Sarkeesian says drove her out of her home last month, a San Francisco police spokesperson confirmed to Polygon.

San Francisco police public information officer Albie Esparza told Polygon that Sarkeesian had filed a report with the police department about the threats she received online and that the police department handed the information to the FBI for investigation.

Esparza declined to release any other details, saying that doing so could compromise the investigation or the safety of the victim. He also noted that the FBI is the primary agency handling the case. An FBI spokesman told Polygon that the bureau's policy is to neither confirm nor deny any investigation they may be conducting.

Other parts of the story suggest the FBI is taking a lot of notice of what's going on.
gamergate  fbi 
september 2014
Apple throws down privacy gauntlet >> American Civil Liberties Union
Chris Soghoian, principal technologist, on the privacy protection in iOS 8: <blockquote class="quoted">This was a big step for Apple, and one that likely required significant engineering work. What is so interesting and smart about this move is that rather than telling the government that they no longer want to help the government, they re-architected iOS so they are unable to help the government. Think of it as Apple playing a game of chicken, and the company has just thrown the steering wheel out of the window.

That's something that's going to be difficult for most tech companies to do, because so many of them have built their businesses around access to user data. If the companies can search and analyze that data, they can be forced to turn it over to the government. Apple's business model—selling expensive, luxury hardware to consumers—gives them the freedom to lock themselves out of access to their customers' data. Apple doesn't care what you store on your phone as long as you buy a new one every two years.

Although today's announcement is certainly big news, in many ways, it is far less significant than Apple's success in delivering end-to-end encrypted text, voice and video communications to the hundreds of millions of people using iMessage and FaceTime. To date, these apps have been advertised as free and easy ways for people to stay in touch with loved ones and family. However, the company could and should start advertising them as a much more secure alternative to regular telephone calls and text messages.
privacy  security  apple  google 
september 2014
Bomb threat targeted Anita Sarkeesian, Gaming awards last March >> Kotaku
<blockquote class="quoted">An anonymous e-mailer threatened to blow up a bomb at the Game Developers Choice Awards this past March unless the hosts rescinded an award recognizing feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, the organizers of the event have confirmed to Kotaku.

"We can confirm that approximately 25 of GDC's organizers received an anonymous email early in the morning of Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 during GDC 2014," the organizers said in a statement.

"The email stated the following: 'A bomb will be detonated at the Game Developer's Choice award ceremony tonight unless Anita Sarkeesian's Ambassador Award is revoked. We estimate the bomb will kill at least a dozen people and injure dozens more. It would be in your best interest to accept our simple request. This is not a joke. You have been warned.'"

The threat merited the attention of the San Francisco Police Department's Explosive Ordinance Disposal Division, which sent officers and bomb-sniffing dogs to the Moscone Center, where GDC is held.

That's not even the scariest thing Sarkeesian has had to deal with. Read the piece and consider how you would hold up.
gamergate  sarkeesian 
september 2014
Satya Nadella explains the "mobile" in "mobile first, cloud first" >> Windows IT Pro
Paul Thurrott: <blockquote class="quoted">In an appearance at an annual luncheon at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce — <a href="">which was nicely transcribed by Geekwire's Todd Bishop, thank you very much</a> — Mr. Nadella was asked what he was doing to improve Windows Phone's market share, which is in the very low single digits and shows no signs of improving anytime soon.

Nadella didn't talk about "making the market" for Windows Phone. He didn't explain that many new hardware partners have signed on with Windows Phone thanks to "zero dollar" licensing in 2014, and that their devices would improve matters. He didn't vaguely speak of future synergies between Windows Phone and "big" Windows. Instead, he offered up a surprising response.

He said that Windows Phone's market share doesn't matter.
windows  nadella  mobile 
september 2014
iPhone 6 screens demystified >> PaintCode
<blockquote class="quoted">Few days ago, Apple introduced iPhone 6 Plus. The new iPhone substantially changes the way graphics are rendered on screen. We've made an infographic to demystify this.

This may be one of the only occasions where an infographic actually does the job it's required to with no wasted drawing or words.
ios  iphone  design  screen 
september 2014
Why Apple didn’t use sapphire iPhone screens >> TIME
Tim Bajarin: <blockquote class="quoted">Many have suggested that the decision not to use sapphire was the result of manufacturing issues – that with more time, Apple would have used sapphire screens for the iPhone 6. As I looked closer at the Apple announcement, and after looking more at the benefits and drawbacks of sapphire, it seems that Apple had good reasons to go with ion-strengthened curved glass (Gorilla Glass) instead of sapphire.

While sapphire has been hyped as an alternative screen cover for smartphones, the continued use of strengthened glass has less to do with production issues and more to do with what smartphone manufacturers know about consumers, their preferences and, more importantly, how people actually use phones and what they’re willing to pay for them.

By the way, some reports stated that up until a few weeks before the iPhone announcement, Apple was going to use sapphire but dropped it because of yield issues. This is not true.
iphone  sapphire 
september 2014
Yes, we’re being bought by Microsoft >> Mojang
<blockquote class="quoted">Why did you sell Minecraft?
Minecraft has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance. Though we’re massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big.

As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.

There are only a handful of potential buyers with the resources to grow Minecraft on a scale that it deserves. We’ve worked closely with Microsoft since 2012, and have been impressed by their continued dedication to our game and its development. We’re confident that Minecraft will continue to grow in an awesome way.

Jay Rosen <a href="">describes</a> this blogpost as "about as reassuring as a ransom note."
minecraft  microsoft 
september 2014
Google to unleash Android on emerging markets >>
<blockquote class="quoted">Amid the noise from the relentless stream of expensive flagship smartphones that have been launched in recent weeks by Apple and others, Google has been quietly setting its sights on a much larger market of consumers who have yet to buy their first smartphone.

The US technology group will this week set out to establish the smartphone standard for the next billion mobile phone users in emerging markets by launching a low-cost platform in partnership with local manufacturers.

In New Delhi on Monday, Google will reveal the first handsets to be produced as part of the initiative that has become a personal project for Sundar Pichai, the Chennai-born boss of its operating system Android.
google  androidone 
september 2014
How Google’s autonomous car passed the dirst US state self-driving test >> IEEE Spectrum
Mark Harris (who revealed how Google wanted California to pass its self-driving car based on computer modelling): <blockquote class="quoted">IEEE Spectrum has now obtained the driving log of this test, and e-mails referring to it, under Freedom of Information legislation. Some of this information is not new. For example, Nevada officials shared that the Google’s autonomous Toyota Prius passed the test almost immediately. What has not been revealed until now, however, is that Google chose the test route and set limits on the road and weather conditions that the vehicle could encounter, and that its engineers had to take control of the car twice during the drive.

Mostly self-driving. Also, <blockquote class="quoted">Before the test, Google had written: “It will be hard to anticipate if the proposed demonstration will encounter several important environmental conditions: rain, snow/ice, fog, and heavy crosswinds. Additionally, the vehicles currently do not operate in snow, ice, or dense fog.”

Snow not a hazard in Las Vegas in May. It was 31C.
google  selfdrivingcar  charlesarthur 
september 2014
What the watch industry thinks of the Apple Watch >> WatchesbySJX
In general, they don't think it's much of a threat. It's a "techno-toy". Might want to bookmark this one.
apple  awatch 
september 2014
Apple iOS 8 addresses iOS surveillance and forensics vulnerabilities >> Jonathan Zdziarski's Domain
Zdziarski presented a paper on iOS 7 at a recent conference pointing to potential vulnerabilities. Now he's looked at iOS 8: <blockquote class="quoted">It appears that the threat of persistent wireless surveillance – my biggest concern – has been sufficiently addressed in iOS 8. Apple has also greatly reduced the exposure of Apple devices to commercial forensics tools. While I’m not yet sure how Apple now controls access to these deeper functions, it does appear that they have been better protected from abuse. Props and thanks to Apple for tackling a very complex and subtle problem that was difficult to explain.

With respect to forensics, please be aware that this does not affect law enforcement’s ability to send a device into Apple to be partially dumped as per their law enforcement process. It also does not prevent law enforcement from obtaining warrants to obtain copies of your iCloud data or other data stored on Apple servers. It does, however, protect you from a number of third party tools which can be abused by third parties to illegally invade your privacy. Consider that only recently, such “law enforcement” tools were used by hackers to steal nude photos out of celebrities’ iCloud accounts.
ios8  hacking 
september 2014
From Shane Dawson to Jenna Marbles: online stars rewriting fame >> Variety
<blockquote class="quoted">The biggest YouTube star is Felix Kjellberg, a 24-year-old Swede known as PewDiePie to his 29 million subscribers, whom he delights with daily videos in which he simply plays videogames while cracking jokes. Kjellberg recently revealed that his channel grossed $4m in ad revenue in 2013.

“The biggest stars in the space aren’t making the same type of money that traditional celebrities are,” said Brent Weinstein, head of digital media at UTA. “But they’re catching up.”

Moreover, there is a “long tail of digital creators” who make higher incomes than the rank-and-file of traditional actors, Weinstein said. According to YouTube, several thousand channel partners earn six-figure incomes through the vidsite.

WME digital agent Avi Gandhi said he’s seeing an increasing number of online stars making seven figures a year, with some approaching eight. As the ad business — which has had 70 years of buying on TV — starts figuring out that the Internet is a missed opportunity, even more dollars will pour into the ecosystem. “These digital stars, a lot of them, have online audiences bigger than TV shows,” Gandhi noted.
media  instagram  youtube 
september 2014
Amazon updates its app to 5.0 with Instant Video Streaming app >> Android Police
<blockquote class="quoted">Amazon has finally (finally!) brought its Prime Instant Video service to Android devices with an Instant Video app available through its own app store.
The news comes as part of an update to version 5.0 of Amazon's own app in the Play Store, which sees a broader content shift - the new Amazon app allows users to access Amazon's entire digital catalog, meaning that - besides instant video content - users can shop for (and install) apps from Amazon's app store. This ostensibly makes the Amazon App Store app obsolete, though the old app will still need to hang around on your device to verify apps that use Amazon's optional DRM system. Whether this will change in the future is unclear.
amazon  prime 
september 2014
Customer update on payment breach >> Home Deport
<blockquote class="quoted">Last Tuesday, September 2, we disclosed that we were investigating a possible breach of our payment data systems. We want you to know that we have now confirmed that those systems have in fact been breached, which could potentially impact any customer that has used their payment card at our US and Canadian stores, from April forward. We do not have any evidence that the breach has impacted stores in Mexico or customers who shopped online at
We apologize for the frustration and anxiety this causes our customers.
We also want to emphasize that you will not be responsible for any fraudulent charges to your accounts, and we’re offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to any customer who has shopped at a Home Depot store in 2014, from April on.

The actual title of the page on which this appears is "Statement 1". These breakins are wonderful for the identity protection services in the US.

Here's more: anyone who paid using NFC (card or phone) won't have to worry. As <a href="">Dave Birch explained in 2010</a>: <blockquote class="quoted">If you scan my Barclays debit card, the data that you get from the contactless interface is not sufficient to create a cloned EMV card (contact or contactless) because it's a DDA (dynamic data authentication) card and you need the private key to forge it. The data isn't sufficient to create a cloned magnetic stripe card because it gives up the ICVV and not the CVV. The data isn't sufficient to use the card online because it doesn't give up the CV2. So all you can get, even if I don't notice you waving a POS terminal an inch from my arse, is the name, card number and expiry date (none of which are secret).
security  payments 
september 2014
NVIDIA launches patent suits focused on Samsung Galaxy phones, tablets >> NVIDIA Blog
<blockquote class="quoted">This is an important day for NVIDIA. For the first time since starting this company 21 years ago, we have initiated a patent lawsuit.

This afternoon, we filed patent infringement complaints against Samsung and Qualcomm with both the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and the US District Court, in Delaware. You can see our press release here, and the complaints <a href="">here</a> and <a href="">here</a>.

We are asking the ITC to block shipments of Samsung Galaxy mobile phones and tablets containing Qualcomm’s Adreno, ARM’s Mali or Imagination’s PowerVR graphics architectures. We are also asking the Delaware court to award damages to us for the infringement of our patents.

Claims Samsung and Qualcomm are using Nvidia technology without a licence. Apple, Microsoft, and now Nvidia: who else is suing Samsung?
samsung  nvidia  patent 
september 2014
Google to refund consumers at least $19m to settle FTC complaint it unlawfully billed parents for children’s unauthorized in-app charges >> US Federal Trade Commission
<blockquote class="quoted">Google has agreed to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging that it unfairly billed consumers for millions of dollars in unauthorized charges incurred by children using mobile apps downloaded from the Google Play app store for use on Android mobile devices. Under the terms of the <a href="">settlement, Google will provide full refunds – with a minimum payment of $19m – to consumers</a> who were charged for kids’ purchases without authorization of the account holder. Google has also agreed to modify its billing practices to ensure that it obtains express, informed consent from consumers before charging them for items sold in mobile apps.

Apple <a href="">had to repay $32.5m</a> in January.
google  iap  refund 
september 2014
The people camping outside the Apple store want more than the iPhone 6 >> Quartz
Zach Wener-Fligner: <blockquote class="quoted">Four people have already lined up to buy the next versions of the iPhone, which aren’t expected to go on sale for another 16 days. But they aren’t really there for iPhones: They are being paid by companies hoping to glom onto the expected frenzy.

Joseph Cruz and Brian Ceballo arrived in front of Apple’s glass cube on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday, August 31. They brought tarps, chairs, sleeping bags, and lots of T-shirts for BuyBackWorld, an online electronics retailer. BuyBackWorld is picking up their food bill for the three-week urban campout. The company is also paying for the iPhone 6 of their choice, assuming that’s what Apple unveils at its event next week and begins selling, as expected, on Friday, Sept. 19.
apple  iphone  queue 
september 2014
Blocking consumer choice: Google's dangerous ban of privacy and security app >> Electronic Frontier Foundation
Following the previous reports: <blockquote class="quoted">Why is Disconnect Mobile being targeted? The problem lies in the fact that many online advertisers participate in this sneaky tracking in order to build up reading profiles of users for marketing purposes, whether users have opted in or not. As a result, Disconnect Mobile blocks these types of ads — even though ad-blocking is incidental to its primary goal. Because of this, Google has deemed Disconnect Mobile to be “interfering” with these sneaky third-party services — services its users don’t want. In other words, Google appears to be interpreting its rules to mean that "apps that interfere with Google's business model" will be banned, rather than "apps that interfere with user security and privacy." By removing this app from the Play Store Google is putting its users at risk and sending the message that it cares more about its bottom line than its users' security.

You can still get it for iOS...
google  tracking 
september 2014
Two Factor Auth List >> Twofactorauth
A handy list to have by you if you're wondering whether a service supports 2FA. (Though that's not the end of the security story, of course.)
security  2fa 
september 2014
Update to celebrity photo investigation >> Apple
<blockquote class="quoted">After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved. 

To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification.

So the "iBrute" attack on Find my iPhone wasn't involved. In hacking cases, it's usually best to start with the least complex explanation - social engineering and password hacks - than complex attacks.
apple  hacking 
september 2014
The Road Ahead >> AnandTech
Anand Lai Shimpi, founder of the site: <blockquote class="quoted">after 17.5 years of digging, testing, analyzing and writing about the most interesting stuff in tech, it’s time for a change. This will be the last thing I write on AnandTech as I am officially retiring from the tech publishing world. Ryan Smith (@RyanSmithAT) is taking over as Editor in Chief of AnandTech. Ryan has been working with us for nearly 10 years, he has a strong background in Computer Science and he’s been shadowing me quite closely for the past couple of years. I am fully confident in Ryan’s ability to carry the torch and pick up where I left off. We’ve grown the staff over the course of this year in anticipation of the move. With a bunch of new faces around AnandTech, all eager to uphold the high standards and unique approach to covering tech, I firmly believe the site can continue to thrive for years to come.

He's <a href="">going to Apple</a> to do an unspecified job.
anandtech  apple 
september 2014
A failed experiment: how LG screwed up its webOS acquisition >> Gigaom
Janko Roettgers: <blockquote class="quoted">[The Consumer Electronics Show] CES was approaching quickly, and LG’s engineers [in Korea] ran out of time trying to make their complicated interface work, so the decision was made to go with the webOS launcher instead in order to have anything up and running at all.

“We got lucky,” said one member of the original webOS team, who like others in this story declined to be identified by name.

I’ve been told that this anecdote was symptomatic of many of the struggles the webOS team was facing across all parts of its operation, including engineering. Despite repeated requests, LG never hired more engineers for the Silicon Valley group. Instead, it put them at the mercy of engineers in Korea who were beholden to their local management, and frequently built features that the webOS team didn’t ask for, or worse, had long fought against.

On the engineering side, the webOS team also struggled with a culture clash of sorts that pitted company politics against its attempt to simplify the company’s smart TV platform. Sources told me that LG had a policy in place to reward managers with bonuses or even promotions if their features were part of the final product. The result was a constant feature bloat, as everyone tried to add on one more thing.
ux  smarttv  lg 
august 2014
The End of Gamers >> Dan Golding
<blockquote class="quoted">When, over the last decade, the playing of videogames moved beyond the niche, the gamer identity remained fairly uniformly stagnant and immobile. Gamer identity was simply not fluid enough to apply to a broad spectrum of people. It could not meaningfully contain, for example, Candy Crush players, Proteus players, and Call of Duty players simultaneously. When videogames changed, the gamer identity did not stretch, and so it has been broken.

And lest you think that I’m exaggerating about the irrelevance of the traditionally male dominated gamer identity, <a href="">recent news confirms this</a>, with adult women outnumbering teenage boys in game-playing demographics in the USA. Similar numbers also often come out of <a href="">Australian surveys</a>. The predictable ‘what kind of games do they really play, though—are they really gamers?’ response says all you need to know about this ongoing demographic shift.

Golding's starting point is the ongoing misogyny around women who play, write or analyse games. See also Andrew Todd's article below. Something is going very wrong. (Via Mary Hamilton.)
games  sexism 
august 2014
Video games, misogyny, and terrorism: a guide to assholes >> Badass Digest
Andrew Todd on video gaming's problem with women: <blockquote class="quoted">I have a friend who plays a lot of Call of Duty. He’s a brilliant comedian whose name you’ll probably know in the future, though I won’t mention it here. One of his favourite aspects of the game is verbally abusing other players - he LOVES it. It’s another game within a game. But it doesn’t matter if you’re the funniest or cleverest abusive dick on a server - you’re still being an abusive dick, and you’re still perpetuating a problem that has visibly grown way past that comparatively innocent context and into actual terrorism.

There’s no reputable research that states violent video games create violent video gamers, but I’d be curious to see whether they create abusive ones. At this point, abuse and harassment are as ingrained into gamer culture as headshots and killstreaks - but the difference between the two is that while the violence is fake, the abuse is real.

This is an intriguing suggestion that seems worth pursuing. The focus though of Todd's piece is rampant misogyny: <blockquote class="quoted">The ultimate, hilarious irony to these douchebags’ worldview is that they claim to want gaming to be taken seriously. In their blinkered eyes, women are ruining gaming, because in their blinkered eyes, change that benefits anyone other than them is inherently bad. But feminist criticism can only be a boon to the games industry.
games  gaming  feminism  culture 
august 2014
A month with the iPhone 5s: impressions from an Android user >> AnandTech
Joshua Ho: <blockquote class="quoted">this may be the real difference that matters when comparing iOS and Android. While Android and iOS are largely similar in features, there is a fundamental divide in the way the two OSes are designed. At its core, iOS is designed with average users in mind. As a result, there’s a strong emphasis on making things “just work” and hiding information that would simply confuse and frustrate people that don’t care about the underlying hardware and software. Android at its core is targeted at those that want to have the full PC experience on their phone, and as a result there’s much more information and low level functionality for those that want it. However, this can easily be frustrating and confusing for the end user.
An excellent characterisation (though it's ironic that it should be the expensive phones that cater to "average users").

<blockquote class="quoted">However, the differences remain, and understanding this is as simple as looking at how equivalent features are implemented. For example, location services in iOS are binary in nature, and can only be turned on and off globally or for each application. In Android there’s noticeably more nuance. Location can be done only by on-device GPS, or by using WiFi/cell tower location, or by using both. In addition, it’s possible to view GPS data such as per-satellite SNR [signal to noise ratio] and number of satellites used and in view.
This seems to overlook that location services are <em>completely</em> binary in Android: either on or off, with no way to revoke it if an app demands it. And it's hard to think the number of people who need per-satellite SNR would fill a bus.

Meanwhile, many of the iOS omissions Ho raises - lack of intents-style app interaction, no detail on background app usage, lack of detailed camera controls - are introduced in iOS 8. Perhaps if he had waited for a month... (Thanks @GambaKufu for the link.)
ios  android  anandtech 
august 2014
Introducing a more powerful Dropbox Pro >> Dropbox blog
New sharing controls, new safeguards if you lose your device, and: <blockquote class="quoted">We don’t want you to worry about choosing the right plan or having enough space. So today, we’re simplifying Dropbox Pro to a single plan that stays at $9.99/month, but now comes with 1 TB (1,000 GB) of space.

UK: £7.99/month or £79/year.
dropbox  pro  online  storage 
august 2014
What happened to Motorola >> Chicago magazine
Ted Fishman: <blockquote class="quoted">[Motorola Mobility chief operating officer Rick] Osterloh gives a short speech. He feels good about the future of Motorola Mobility and of Chicago, he says. The company’s growth rate, he claims, would be the envy of any startup: “Motorola Mobility shipped 6.5 million devices in the first quarter of the year, up 61 percent over the [same quarter] last year.”

What Osterloh doesn’t mention is that those devices represent a paltry 2 percent of the global market for smartphones. Or that Motorola Mobility lost $198 million in the first quarter of 2014. Or that its losses just since Google took over have totaled more than $1 billion, even as the company has cut some 17,000 workers.

Osterloh then cedes the podium to a dapper Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had helped convince Google brass to move the business downtown from suburban Libertyville. “Motorola Mobility will act as a major economic engine,” Emanuel declares, “bringing 2,000 jobs to the city.”

No one, least of all the mayor, acknowledges the elephant in the room.

Excellent corporate history - which also explains Motorola's key role in Android's success.
motorola  business  charlesarthur 
august 2014
Hewlett-Packard recalls notebook computer AC power cords due to fire and burn hazards >>
<blockquote class="quoted">This recall involves Hewlett-Packard’s LS-15 AC power cord. The power cords were distributed with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers and with AC adapter-powered accessories such as docking stations. The power cords are black in color and have an “LS-15” molded mark on the AC adapter end of the power cord.

HP has received 29 reports of power cords overheating and melting or charring resulting in two claims of minor burns and 13 claims of minor property damage.
Sold worldwide between September 2010 and June 2012. This is a US and Canada recall, but if you have one it would be wise to contact HP: there were about 6m made of which 5.6m went to the US, leaving plenty more outside it.
hp  compaq  recall 
august 2014
L.A. Unified halts contract for iPads >> LA Times
<blockquote class="quoted">LA schools Supt. John Deasy suspended future use of a contract with Apple on Monday that was to provide iPads to all students in the nation's second-largest school system amid mounting scrutiny of the $1-billion-plus effort.

The suspension comes days after disclosures that the superintendent and his top deputy had especially close ties to executives of Apple, maker of the iPad, and Pearson, the company that is providing the curriculum on the devices. And an internal report that examined the technology effort showed major problems with the process and the implementation.

"Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple Inc.," Deasy wrote in a memo sent to the Board of Education on Monday.

"Not only will this decision enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances, it will also give us time to take into account concerns raised surrounding the [project]," Deasy wrote.

(Thanks @pxr4t2 for the link.)
education  technology  apple  ipad 
august 2014
Android phones hit by 'ransomware' >>
Nicole Perlroth: <blockquote class="quoted">Now those same criminals are taking their scheme mobile, successfully infecting Android devices at disturbing rates. In just the last 30 days, roughly 900,000 people were targeted with a form of ransomware called “ScarePackage,” according to Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security firm.

“This is, by far, the biggest US targeted threat of ransomware we’ve seen,” said Jeremy Linden, a senior security product manager at Lookout. “In the past month, a single piece of malware has affected as many devices in the US, as a quarter of all families of malware in 2013.”

In addition to ScarePackage, Mr. Linden and a team at Lookout have also been tracking another strain of ransomware dubbed “ColdBrother,” or “Sypeng,” which not only locks users out of their device, but can take a photo from the device’s camera, can answer and drop phone calls and search for banking applications on the device.

And in just the last three weeks, Lookout discovered a new form of ransomware called ScareMeNot, which has already managed to infect more than 30,000 Android devices.

Victims get infected with the ransomware through a method known as a “drive-by download” in which they simply need visit a website — in some cases a pornography site — to inadvertently download the ransomware onto their machine. In other cases, they download the ransomware by downloading fake apps that masquerade as popular services such as Adobe Flash or an anti-virus product.

Once infected, it is very difficult to remove.
ransomware  android  malware 
august 2014
Amazon will acquire Twitch for more than $1bn >> Re/code
<blockquote class="quoted">Google had been in talks to acquire the company, but that deal died, according to the source. Amazon then entered the picture and completed what is one of its biggest acquisitions to date, this person said.

For the uninitiated, Twitch is a platform for making and talking about videos of videogame play. About a million users a month record themselves playing videogames, while the rest — pegged at 50 million unique viewers in July — watch and comment on the videos. In January, Twitch reported that 58% of its viewers spent more than 20 hours per week on the site. It originated as an offshoot of a general-purpose live video site,, but in time surpassed its original home; earlier this month, Twitch said would shut down.

Amazon’s past video efforts have been more like Netflix than Twitch, with a library of streaming movies, TV shows and original series that have thus far failed to mount much of a challenge to Netflix. Bringing the videogame streaming site into the fold arms it with a totally new vertical of YouTube-style user-generated content, since anyone is able to broadcast his or her games to Twitch for free.

One big question: Will Amazon let Twitch operate as a standalone business as Facebook did with Instagram and as Google, according to a source, had contemplated doing with Twitch? Or will Amazon try to integrate it into its current video business in some way?

Either way, the Seattle-based online retailer likely has its eyes on the site’s video advertising potential, since it mostly attracts young men, who are an attractive but hard-to-reach shopper demographic.

Read on for something Amazon is doing that will be a good fit with this purchase.
amazon  twitch 
august 2014
The rumoured iOS screen fragmentation >> Rusty Rants
Russell Ivanovic (whose Shifty Jelly does podcasting apps for iOS and Android: <blockquote class="quoted">What does this mean in practice? It means iOS developers will now have to do more work than their Android counterparts in order to support the increased variation in iOS screens. The best tools for that exist in iOS 8, which also makes it likely a lot of apps will go iOS 8 only to avoid the manual layout pain. It’s not all bad news though, this might actually result in better large screen iOS apps vs their Android counterparts. This is because on the 5.5″ iPhone there would be more content being shown, rather than everything just being bigger.
ios  android  screen 
august 2014
Apple can't hide from a 20-year-old reporter >> Columbia Journalism Review
Michael Rosenwald: <blockquote class="quoted">The best-sourced reporter covering Apple Inc., one of the world’s most secretive companies, is a 20-year-old junior at the University of Michigan. His name is Mark Gurman. He makes more than six figures a year as senior editor and scoop master at, a news outlet most people have never heard of. In the interest of truth, which Gurman is known to pursue with almost religious zeal, it should be noted that he sometimes types stories in class.

Gurman’s scoops, beginning in high school, have included stories about Apple’s foray into tablets, new phone designs, the arrival of Siri, the dropping of Google maps, how Apple stores operate, how new operating systems work and look, and, most recently, how the company plans to integrate health and fitness tracking into its devices.
Aged 20? Reminiscent of <a href="">Nick Ciarelli</a>, who was at Harvard and ran the long-gone Think Secret, which was sued by Apple.
gurman  apple 
august 2014
New Big Brother Watch team announced >> Big Brother Watch
<blockquote class="quoted">Just months before Big Brother Watch’s fifth anniversary, we can today announce the new leadership team, following the departure of Nick Pickles, who left the campaign in May to join Twitter as UK Public Policy Manager.

Emma Carr is to take up the role of Director, whilst Renate Samson is to become Chief Executive.

Deserved promotion for Carr.
august 2014
Artificial intelligence and psychology: the computer will see you now >> The Economist
<blockquote class="quoted">When faced with tough or potentially embarrassing questions, people often do not tell doctors what they need to hear. Yet the researchers behind Ellie, led by Jonathan Gratch at the Institute for Creative Technologies, in Los Angeles, suspected from their years of monitoring human interactions with computers that people might be more willing to talk if presented with an avatar. To test this idea, they put 239 people in front of Ellie (pictured above) to have a chat with her about their lives. Half were told (truthfully) they would be interacting with an artificially intelligent virtual human; the others were told (falsely) that Ellie was a bit like a puppet, and was having her strings pulled remotely by a person.

Familiar to anyone who recalls <a href="">Eliza</a>, online and <a href="">ready to listen to your problems</a> now.
eliza  ai  psychology 
august 2014
How long do Android phones last? >> Benedict Evans
Modelling from the "daily activations" and the new "monthly active users" figures given out by Google (and so only applicable for "Google Android" outside China): <blockquote class="quoted">These are (to repeat) approximate numbers, but it seems clear that Android phones remain in use for well below the 24m average for the market, and during the peak growth period the replacement rate was closer to one year. The chart [below in the original post] compares what a 24m replacement cycle would have looked like compared to Google's own numbers. [Active users would have been significantly higher at each data point on the graph shown at I/O.]

The cycle clearly seems to be lengthening, but it's not clear yet how much.

Meanwhile, we don't have comparable data for iPhones, but the fact that around a third of the active base is on the iPhone 4 or 4S does rather speak for itself: if anything the iPhone is on longer than 24 months, especially if you take 2nd hand into account (though quite a lot of that second-hand seems to be exported to emerging markets, complicating the picture). 

This has some interesting ecosystem implications. It looks like the Android ecosystem has to sell significantly more phones than Apple to get the same number of active users. This is probably good for the OEMs (presuming the replacements are not people switching away from Android to iPhone), but less good for Google. Ironically, Apple might prefer it to be the other way around as well - it would probably prefer you buy a new phone every year. But this makes comparing market share problematic - it looks like a given number of iPhone unit sales might mean more customers than the same number of Android unit sales. 

So sales market share might not directly reflect installed base. <a href="">Not a surprise</a>.
android  data  mobile 
august 2014
The mobile OS paradigm >> Learning by Shipping
Steve Sinofsky (formerly at Microsoft, where he oversaw Windows 8): <blockquote class="quoted">During the transition from mini to PC, the low price and low performance created a price/performance gap that the minis thought they would exploit. Yet the scale volume, architectural openness, and rapid improvement in multi-vendor tools (and more) contributed to a rapid acceleration that could not compare.

During the transition from character-based to GUI-based PCs many focused on the expense of extra peripherals such as graphics cards and mice, requirement for more memory and MIPs, not to mention the performance implications of the new interface in terms of training and productivity. Yet, Moore’s law, far more robust peripheral support (printers and drivers), and ability to draw on multi-app scenarios (clipboard and more) transformed computing in ways character-based could not.

The same could be said about the transition to internetworking with browsers. The point is that the ancillary benefits of these architectural transitions are often overlooked while the dialog primarily focuses on the immediate and visible changes in the platform and experience…

The transition to the mobile OS platforms is following this same pattern. For all the debates about touch versus keyboard, screen-size, vertical integration, or full-screen apps, there are fundamental shifts in the underlying implementation of the operating system that are here to stay and have transformed computing.
sinofsky  paradigm  mobile 
august 2014
A window into China's low-speed electric vehicle revolution >> Autoblog
Charlie Paglee: <blockquote class="quoted">The cheapest low-speed EVs sell for $2,000 while a top-of-the-line vehicle can sell for $12,000. Luxury models include power steering, power brakes, heating and air conditioning. Keep in mind that a cheap new gasoline automobile sells for only $5,000 in China. Low-speed EVs in China are usually based on a welded steel frame with a stamped steel body on top. These vehicles combine automobile design practices from the 1930's with modern manufacturing processes to produce the cheapest electric vehicles in the world. Bodies are stamped using low-cost, low-volume stamping dies and then cut using three-dimensional laser cutting robots.

An entire stamped steel body for an electric vehicle can now be tooled up for less than $1 million, which is incredibly cheap and unheard of in the automobile industry outside China.

Top speed 38mph, range 60 to 100 miles. (<a href="">Via Naofumi Kagami</a>.)
china  electric  automation 
august 2014
OnePlus asks women to participate in degrading contest to get a smartphone >> The Verge
Jacob Kastrenakes: <blockquote class="quoted">OnePlus is calling it the "Ladies First" contest, and it's basically as awful as it sounds. To say nothing of the fact that the prize is merely the opportunity to buy a phone at full price, the entire conceit is that the male fans of OnePlus are honoring women by voting on them. "In true gentlemen fashion and because chivalry is not dead, we are giving the lovely ladies of OnePlus a chance to skip the invite line," OnePlus staffer Jerry writes. Jerry introduces the contest by writing that "OnePlus wants to give a shout out to the few but beautiful female fans in our community."
women  tech 
august 2014
May 2010: Halloween XII: The Reckoning >> Jake Hamby
This dates from May 2010. Hamby previously worked for Danger - the phone company that was bought by Microsoft, where he had a terrible experience. Having left it (and joined Google's Android team), he looked back: <blockquote class="quoted">it's in the mobile space where Microsoft has most completely fallen down. One thing I learned about myself from the whole Kin ordeal was that I truly have a great deal of identification with the stuff that I'm working on. If I don't think there's a purpose and a meaning behind the code I'm writing, then I become very upset. Now a company like Google would tend to think that being passionate about making the best possible product is probably a good trait to have in a software engineer, but it's a genuine disadvantage at a company like Microsoft, where all is politics, and the middle management is utterly adrift.

Let me just say that I think that Steve Ballmer is a clown and a buffoon, and he has no idea just how utterly pointless the whole "Windows Phone 7" exercise is. Good luck with that, dude, but I don't see it having any more of a chance than Kin did (i.e. slim to none). The rest of the mobile industry has already routed around your flavor of brain damage, and I hate to break it to you, but I'm pretty sure that your remaining handset and carrier partners are pretty much just humoring you at this point.

His remarks about astroturfing are eye-opening too.
microsoft  mobile 
august 2014
The invisible elephant in the room >> dave_bryant:
<blockquote class="quoted">The dirty little secret I haven’t seen anyone else raise—in fairness, possibly because it isn’t well-known outside publishing circles—is that a good part of a physical book’s cost is not in the printing and binding. Most people, I suspect, would be greatly and unpleasantly surprised by how much of a book’s cost (not its price, I should add) is fixed, regardless of final format.

Why? Because it’s the labor, not the ink and paper, that makes up that fixed cost. The writer, editor, proofreader, and typesetter—at least—put in the same number of hours on a book, regardless of whether it’s a hardback, a paperback, or an e-book. They still need to get paid, and they sure as hell are not going to accept less money just because people don’t value a digital product as much as they do a physical one. I certainly won’t put up with it.

There are differences, of course. The incremental cost of a digital copy is, practically speaking, near zero once a publisher’s electronic distribution is set up, and that is the basis of the argument that e-books should be cheaper. Moreover, the labor costs of the print house are gone along with the physical costs.

All well and good, but just because a book is easier to get doesn’t mean it will sell better. A publisher (even a self-publisher) still has to estimate how many copies he or she thinks people will buy, and base the cover price on that estimate.

Amazon's "lower the ebook price from $14.99 to $9.99, you sell 74% more ebooks" argument conveniently overlooks that if those extra ebook buyers are drawn from would-be $14.99 paperback buyers, the total revenue falls by 30%, even while ebook revenue rises by 16%.
amazon  ebook 
august 2014
China smartphone maker Xiaomi apologizes for unauthorized data access >> Yahoo News
<blockquote class="quoted">Xiaomi Inc said it had upgraded its operating system to ensure users knew it was collecting data from their address books after a report by a computer security firm said the Chinese budget smartphone maker was taking personal data without permission.

And the in-depth examination of MIUI begins.
august 2014
Beware of US-based tech support scams >> Malwarebytes Unpacked
<blockquote class="quoted">Most people associate tech support scams (AKA the fake Microsoft support call) with technicians sitting in a crowded and buzzing boiler room somewhere offshore.

Indeed all of the tech support scams we have tracked so far were with companies located either in Mumbai, Kolkata or elsewhere in India. But last month, we stumbled upon fake warning pages urging users to call a number for ‘emergency tech support’.

When we rang the number, we were surprised to hear that the technician sounded American. It turned out that their company was based in ‘the sunshine state‘ of Florida, USA.

The FTC walloped a number of Indian companies doing this, so the American ones shouldn't expect to last long.
scam  windowssupport 
august 2014
For the love of open mapping data >> TechCrunch
Steve Coast, as OpenStreetMap hits its tenth year: <blockquote class="quoted">There were other people who were trying to do open mapping, but they maybe two mistakes. One is they concentrated on the shiny stuff: the editor and the website and so on. I focused on making the backend work. That wasn’t quite as much fun to work on. The other projects also wanted to limit you in some ways. They’d say you can map whatever you want, but it has to be in England, or it has to be footpaths. What we did was say: hey, it’s open source for everything. That made it relevant to everyone.
openstreetmap  mapping 
august 2014
Did Valve just soft-launch the Source 2 engine? | Polygon
Valve appears to have stealthily soft-launched the long-awaited Source 2 game engine alongside the overnight release of Workshop Tools for Dota 2, Dota modders are suggesting.

Where Source 2 comes, Half Life 3 surely follows. Right? Right?!
august 2014
Remote Control Your Friends With Video App Sup | TechCrunch
You send a Sup request to one or a few friends, inviting them to turn on their phone’s camera and starting showing you their life. If one accepts within five minutes, you get pinged back saying they’re ready to Sup. Re-open the app and you’ll then get a silent, live video feed from them that lasts 10-seconds, but you can tap “Mo’ Time” if you don’t want the stream to end.

Please stop making apps. Please. Just stop.
august 2014
Why is YouTube so into Vice News? | Digiday
The hot media company, focused on being “the Time Warner of the streets,” according to its brash CEO, has put many of its chips on Vice News. The news channel, relaunched in December, is all about multiplatform distribution, including a deal with HBO. On the Web, Vice has turned to Google-owned YouTube as the linchpin of its distribution strategy.

Vice and Google, sitting in a tree…
august 2014
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