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.
bigbrotherwatch 
yesterday
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="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELIZA">Eliza</a>, online and <a href="http://www.masswerk.at/elizabot/">ready to listen to your problems</a> now.
eliza  ai  psychology 
3 days ago
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="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/07/android-market-share-smartphone-users-google-apple">Not a surprise</a>.
android  data  mobile 
7 days ago
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 
8 days ago
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="http://naofumi.castle104.com/how-the-automobile-industry-can-be-disrupted/">Via Naofumi Kagami</a>.)
china  electric  automation 
9 days ago
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 
9 days ago
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 
9 days ago
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 
10 days ago
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.
xiaomi 
10 days ago
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 
10 days ago
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 
10 days ago
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?!
14 days ago
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.
14 days ago
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…
14 days ago
Commons:Deletion requests/File:Macaca nigra self-portrait.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
<b>Keep</b> I think a reasonable comparison would be if an animal had access to some kind of art supplies or raw materials (or maybe just some poop) and created some kind of "artwork" of this. Would the first human to come across this artwork own the copyright to it? What if the human left the supplies there? I think in both cases, the human does not own the copyright, and thus this should be in the public domain.


A glimpse at how the sausage that is Wikipedia is made
14 days ago
Sony shows off new curves with its 4K Bravia S90 TV >>> Pocket-lint
The Bravia S90 will come in 65-inch and 75-inch sizes which, curved around your face, should create a cinema-like experience at home. -- COMMENT -- Please could we stop with the curved TVs? It's like 3D all over again, but even more expensive and possibly less useful.
14 days ago
Apple details 'Siri for Mac' desktop virtual assistant in new patent application >>> Apple Insider
Like the current iteration of Siri, limited to iOS, Apple's desktop version is able to process natural speech and text input to perform actions like completing tasks, inputting and retrieving data, conducting searches and more. Further, the filing points out that commands are to be taken in context based on deduced user intent. In other words, Siri for desktop will use speech recognition to decipher and remembering contextual clues. -- COMMENT -- We might be more inclined to talk to a computer in the home, but then sat in front of a keyboard you can probably get more done quickly with a few key commands than running through voice prompts, even if it is a natural language chat.
14 days ago
Wireless Charging, at a Distance, Moves Forward for uBeam >>> NYTimes.com
“This is the only wireless power system that allows you to be on your phone and moving around a room freely while you’re device is charging,” Ms. Perry said in an interview. “It allows for a Wi-Fi-like experience of charging; with everything else you have to be in close range of a transmitter.” -- COMMENT -- There's talk that this could reduce the need for decent sized batteries, but given most smartphones can't make it more than two days, that spells disaster for anyone who's wants to use their phone while traveling. A decent idea, though.
14 days ago
Piracy police arrest Nottingham man, 20 >>> BBC News
The sites taken down by City of London Police do not offer pirated content themselves, but rather offer tools that allow users to connect to illegal services such as the Pirate Bay and similar torrent sites.

"Internet users have sought ways to continue to access the sites by getting round the blocking put in place by the ISPs," said Kieron Sharp, director general of Fact.

"This operation is a major step in tackling those providing such services."​​

-- COMMENT -- Proxy sites are set for the chop. They've been targeted for a while, but it seems they've stepped up their action.
14 days ago
Google buys chat app that spies on you to serve ads >>> Wired UK
The tech giant confirms it has acquired Emu, a startup that offers a kind of instant messaging tool. The price was not disclosed, but Google's interest in the company isn't hard to divine: Emu has built a system that can monitor chats, infer what people are talking about, and insert relevant links -- including ads. - COMMENT - Rather suspicious, but probably right. Google is a massive ad company after all.
14 days ago
Review: iKettle, the iPhone-controlled kettle for gadget-loving tea drinkers >>> 9to5Mac
To switch the kettle on, you just touch the large power button in the main app screen. As with the physical control, it defaults to 100C.

Once the kettle has boiled, the kettle base bleeps and the iPhone app displays a notification.

--- Remote controlled kettle. You still have to actually get up and pour the water out though.
15 days ago
UK regulator proposes crackdown on misleading Facebook and Twitter ads >>> Engadget
Blogs, social networks and photo and video services are all in the FCA's crosshairs, as it looks to crack down on companies that rely on misleading messages like "Join us now and we promise you'll make a 758% profit on your first stock investment" to sign up new users. --- Advertorials seem to be the primary focus for a lot of advertising companies. Will new rules hamper them?
15 days ago
Latest Moto 360 images show off the secret charger for the first time >>> Android Central
The charger is unlike any that we've seen so far for a smartwatch. It appears to cradle the Moto 360 with the watch face pointing outwards – so, still looking at you while its charging – with the power cable plugging in round the back.

It seems to confirm the watch will be metal cased too. Should LG and Samsung be worried?
15 days ago
Best Apple employee name ever? Sam Sung... and now you can buy his business card >>> Pocket-lint
Sam Sung is a former employee of Apple and sees the funny side of it himself. So much so that when one of his old business cards fell out of a book he had picked up, he decided to auction it on eBay for charity. After all, you are very unlikely to see the words Sam Sung and Apple on the same business card anywhere else.

It's for charity. And seems oddly fitting given the recent white flags over patents outside the US between Apple and Samsung.
15 days ago
Your Locker of Information for CryptoLocker Decryption >>> FireEye Blog
We developed a decryption assistance website and corresponding tool designed to help those afflicted with the original CryptoLocker malware. Through various partnerships and reverse engineering engagements, Fox-IT and FireEye have ascertained many of the private keys associated with CryptoLocker.  Having these private keys allows for decryption of files that are encrypted by CryptoLocker.

---- Like a locksmith bailing you out when you lock yourself out of your house. Good on them.
15 days ago
Foursquare 8.0 review: the ultimate food-finder | The Verge
To beat Yelp and Google, however, Foursquare’s going to have to do more than educate the masses about the virtues of its technology. It’s going to have to prove that the 5 billion check-ins and 55 million tips it’s gathered are enough to fuel the best recommendation engine. This is the goal of Foursquare 8.0, launching today for iPhone and Android. The new app cuts through Foursquare’s massive corpus of data to answer one question: what if your food-finding app knew your favorite restaurants, but also your favorite foods?
15 days ago
US Wi-Fi Report July 2014 - OpenSignal
This report takes a look at the speeds available on public networks in the United States; comparing room price to performance on hotel networks; looking at Starbucks’ switch from AT&T Wi-Fi to Google; and finally putting the speeds of various stores’ Wi-Fi networks in context with the cellular speeds offered by national network operators in the US.


It seems our rule of thumb that "the more you pay for a hotel room, the worse the wifi" isn't actually true.
15 days ago
Trustev Blog » Will chip-and-PIN cards in the US mean more e-commerce fraud?
But “Card Not Present” (CNP) fraud — typical for e-commerce — is a different story. Evidence shows that CNP fraud often increases as EMV cards are introduced, presumably because fraudsters don’t just give up their life of crime, but often switch to other approaches. Business Insider covered this issue in May, and the time for EMV in the US is getting closer.


If you have a stolen credit card, you can still buy stuff with it. Just not in person.
15 days ago
BBC News - Icann bids to stop Iran web domain seizure
The attempt to grab the domains is part of a court case begun by the families of four Americans injured in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 1997 for which Hamas claimed responsibility.
17 days ago
Europe envies how the U.S. procures tech, but it may lack the military might to mimic it - The Washington Post
This is "procurement activism," says Weiss, pointing to the fact that such iconic American companies as IBM, Boeing and Texas Instruments had defense industry bodies as their first big customers. Defense and intelligence dollars, Weiss details, fertilized the creation of everything from the Internet to Silicon Valley to the U.S. semi-conductor industry.
17 days ago
Hotel FInes Brides As A Joke - Business Insider
This morning, The New York Post's Page Six reported that the Union Street Grand House in Hudson, New York, had a policy on its website that said they fine wedding guests $500 if they leave negative reviews about the hotel online.

The story spread like wildfire, and lots of people went to Yelp to leave angry one-star comments about the way the USGH runs its business.
17 days ago
Electric Objects: A Computer Made for Art by Electric Objects — Kickstarter
There's more art on the Internet than in every gallery and museum on Earth.

But many of these beautiful objects are trapped. They’re trapped inside of devices like our phones, our tablets, our TVs, our laptops — devices designed for distraction, living between texts, tweets, football games and emails from work. 

So we wanted to make a new way to bring art from the Internet into your home.
17 days ago
I Want It, and I Want It Now — It’s Time for Instant Gratification | Re/code
Six minutes later, there’s a car in my driveway. I flail to find some flip-flops and go downstairs to greet the driver, who pulls my order from an insulated bag and cooler in his passenger seat. It’s not like he has a whole pantry in there; I picked two of the four items on the SpoonRocket menu that day.
17 days ago
Two men convicted for keeping 'truly disturbing' porn on their mobile phones - Mirror Online
Both men said they had received the content from an unknown source, and had been unable to watch it all due to feeling "sickened". The videos and image were later recovered by police after they stopped the defendants, both from Essex, in London in January on an unrelated matter.
17 days ago
Armenia: Citizens urged to write Wikipedia entry each - BBC News
The national campaign - One Armenian, One Article - aims to raise the number and quality of articles in the Armenian language and promote the culture, an ad on EU Armenia TV says.

It could even be competing with Georgia and Azerbaijan in the Wikipedia stakes.

Maybe we need something like this for the coverage of notable female figures from science and history? One man, one woman. Ok, the slogan needs work.
21 days ago
HTC's profit up, but no sign of recovery just yet >>> CNET
The Taiwan-based mobile device maker on Thursday reported (PDF) revenue of NT$65.1 billion ($2.2 billion), down from the NT$70.7 billion it generated during the same period last year. While that was a disappointment, the company was able to boost its profit to NT$2.3 billion ($76.5 million) after taxes.

Lower revenue, higher profit. A leaner HTC we have on our hands, but is that enough to keep it on the straight and narrow?
21 days ago
Dark net drugs adverts 'double in less than a year' - BBC News
The number of listings offering illegal drugs for sale on the "dark net" appears to have more than doubled in less than a year, BBC News has learned.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) closed down the original online illegal drug market, Silk Road, in 2013.

But new figures suggest the trade has actually increased since then.

And other research indicates one in four British drug users has accessed hidden websites.

COMMENT - Close one down, a dozen spring up in its place. Where have we heard that one before?
21 days ago
Microsoft and pals applaud UK's 'Google Review' copyright move >>> The Register
The rest of Europe should follow the UK’s example and get rid of copyright levies, says an EU trade group representing Microsoft, Apple, Samsung and thousands of others.

Bashing a large competitor, whatever next.
21 days ago
Martha Stewart: Why I Love My Drone | TIME
Last year, while celebrating my birthday in Maine, I was given a drone fitted with a high-definition camera. After a quick introduction to the mechanics of operating the contraption and a few words about its idiosyncrasies, I loaded the appropriate app on my iPad and went down to the beach.


Well that was unexpected.
21 days ago
Bet you didn’t notice this tiny but revealing Facebook design change - Quartz
Facebook just made a barely perceptible change to its website. The notification icon at the top of its navigation bar is an image of a small globe, which used to show North and South America, no matter where you logged in from. Americans (and people looking at the iPhone app) still get that view, but now users in Asia, Africa, and Europe see an icon of the Eastern Hemisphere.

Cute.
21 days ago
8 reasons that Bitcoiners are the worst possible advert for Bitcoin - Us Vs Th3m
<blockchain>Bitcoins: they get knocked down, then they get up again, but you’re never going to keep them down! Well, at least according to their insanely passionate fanbase (probably including members of Chumbawumba, let’s face it), who are convinced we should all give up boring old pounds and dollars, and use their exciting new cyber-money instead.</blockchain>

Bitcoin fans: you aren't helping
21 days ago
Why Does Google Employ a Pro-Slavery Lunatic?
It's now difficult to tell if Justine Tunney is a real person or not. Reading her Twitter and blog, she seems like some sort robot intelligence, an artificial entity designed to offend and disgust. No person can be this awful, right? Is it an act? A long-con of hardcore trolling? At a time when anti-tech resentment is at a high, can someone possibly be this brazen?


One school of thought says "don't feed the trolls". Another says "this is dangerous and should not be ignored".
22 days ago
Johnny Dronehunter Does Exactly That In This Insane Shotgun Silencer Ad | Motherboard
"In the not too distant future," the video's description reads, "privacy is a thing of the past. Undeniable rights degrade like the paper they were written upon, and Big Brother has a constant eye on you and your family." At which point, only a "determined man and an unequaled weapon"—Johnny Dronehunter and the Salvo 12, I assume—can save you.


Yes, it's an ad for a shotgun silencer (shotguns can, apparently, be silenced). But guaranteed: in five years, you'll wish shooting drones out the sky was legal.
22 days ago
Amazon’s new attack on Hachette touts the benefits of cheaper e-books - The Washington Post
In a post on its company's forums Tuesday, Amazon said that it would like to see most e-books priced at $9.99, rather than the common $14.99 or $19.99 prices that publishers set for digital copies of their books. Amazon argued that while it doesn't want every e-book to be set at $9.99, using that price for the majority of digital books would benefit customers, publishers and Amazon itself.


Hachette, unsurprisingly, does not seem to feel that "let's lower the price of books" is a good selling point.
22 days ago
Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin — Wikimedia blog
We’re fortunate that millions of people all over the world support the work of the Wikimedia Foundation through donations. It has always been important to the Foundation to make sure donating is as simple and inclusive as possible. Currently, we accept 13 different payment methods enabling donations from nearly every country in the world, and today, we’re adding one more: Bitcoin.


Surprising it's taken this long, really.
22 days ago
What's a group selfie? Usie (pronounced uss-ee)
"Usies are a growing trend that I think have far more social value than selfies," said Michal Ann Strahilevitz, a professor of marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco who studies consumer behavior. "It's magical capturing moments we share with other people."

Definitely the worst of all possible worlds.
22 days ago
Banking Ikea Style Puts Billionaire’s Model to Test - Bloomberg
In “Flappy Saver,” a knock-off of the popular mobile game Flappy Bird, the player best able to navigate hurdles such as jewelery stores and shoe shops wins the highest score by protecting savings stored in a flying piggy bank.


Truly we live in the worst of all possible worlds.
22 days ago
Wladimir Palant's notes: Which is better, Adblock or Adblock Plus?
On Chrome, two popular ad blockers are currently available: AdBlock and Adblock Plus. Despite the confusingly similar names, they are completely unrelated projects. I am in charge of the latter, yet people will occasionally ask me whether I would recommend AdBlock or Adblock Plus to them.

The AdBlock wars get nasty.
22 days ago
Tor security advisory: "relay early" traffic confirmation attack | The Tor Blog
We know the attack looked for users who fetched hidden service descriptors, but the attackers likely were not able to see any application-level traffic (e.g. what pages were loaded or even whether users visited the hidden service they looked up).


This may or may not be related to a cancelled talk on Tor attacks at Black Hat 2014.
22 days ago
How to get a good rating from your Uber driver
While most drivers noted that truly bad experiences are few and far between, almost everything about being a good, responsible passenger can be boiled down to ‟don’t be an asshole.”


"Don't be an asshole" IS a fairly good rule.
23 days ago
Anti-Surveillance Camouflage for Your Face - The Atlantic
CV dazzle is ostentatious and kind of rad-looking, in a joyful, dystopic way. The first time I saw it, three years ago, I found it charismatic and captivating. Here was a technology that confounded computers with light and color. Since then, more and more people have learned about the technology. Harvey has contributed op-art about dazzle to The New York Times and enthusiasts have held facial dazzle parties. After documents from the Snowden tranche revealed the NSA had harvested an enormous database of faces from images on the web, CV dazzle seemed all the more urgent.


If nothing else, the pictures are worth a click
23 days ago
Co-op readies hi-tech trolleys to improve customer service >>> Marketing Magazine
Selected Co-op stores are trialling the new scheme, which prompts shoppers at various points in-store to answer questions about the layout, the ranges and products on offer. More general questions will quiz consumers on issues such as sustainable food, youth unemployment and localism. - Comment - Do you want a survey with your chicken drumsticks?
23 days ago
Nvidia quadruples display resolution by stacking two cheap LCD panels on top of each other >>> ExtremeTech
Nvidia researchers have used a fantastically straightforward approach to quadruple the effective resolution and double the refresh rate of cheap, off-the-shelf LCD panels: Stacking them on top of each other. - Comment - Why didn't we think about that? Sounds stupidly simple, but highly complex all at the same time.
23 days ago
Achievement Unlocked: Mars rover sets off-world driving record >>> SlashGear
NASA’s Opportunity Rover has set the human record for off-world driving distance this week. This record was previously held by the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 rover, whose record was smashed as Opportunity kicked out 25 miles (40 kilometers) of driving. Any opportunity to one-up our space-race comrades, that’s what we like! - Comment - Only 10 years into a 90 day mission...
23 days ago
Piracy police hijack ads on copyright-infringing websites >>> CNET
To avoid that, a firm called Project Sunblock checks the content of websites, and has now been recruited by PIPCU to target dodgy sites. - Comment - Project Sunblock, only in Britain.
23 days ago
Is Big Pharma Testing Your Meds on Homeless People? — Matter — Medium
If you’re looking for poor people who have been paid to test experimental drugs, Philadelphia is a good place to start.


Rather puts "OKCupid experiments on its users" into perspective.
23 days ago
The history of information
This timeline of the history of information has some outstanding rabbit-holes: multiple entries on the history of magnetic card readers, Plimpton 322 (a cuneiform tablet called "the most famous original document of Babylonian mathematics"), and a whole series on crimes, forgeries, and hoaxes.


Get lost in this for half an hour.
23 days ago
If TaskRabbit Is the Future of Employment, the Employed Are Fucked
As of two weeks ago, the company no longer uses the bidding system. Each Rabbit is pegged at an hourly rate, accessible only via smartphone, and expected to be available immediately, a la Uber. If you can't commit to a task within 30 minutes, it moves on to someone else, reassigned via computer. Tasks that don't fall within generic categories like moving, cleaning, or food delivery are discouraged. Rabbits are matched with people looking for help via yet another mystical algorithm, removing whatever personal connection eager users enjoyed.

Comment: So TaskRabbit is… a temp agency. But it's probably got a higher valuation than your typical temp firm.
24 days ago
Teen’s Samsung Phone Bursts Into Flames While She’s Sleeping | Betabeat
Like all of us, 13-year-old Ariel Tolfree is addicted to her cell phone, so she keeps it tucked under her pillow while she’s sleeping. But, last week, the battery on her Samsung Galaxy S4 apparently overheated and bursted into flames in the middle of the night.


Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh.
24 days ago
Star.21 is a £19 fitness tracker that aims to permanently change your attitude to health >>> The Inquirer
"Most Fitness Bands today do not work because the novelty is short lived" said Oaxis CEO, G-Jay Yong. "Our human brain is capable of rewiring itself in 21 days to establish new neural pathways. Through 21 days of repetitive actions, the long lasting healthy habits can be formed." – COMMENT - £19 for 21 days. Worth a shot I guess, but could just end up being yet more landfill.
24 days ago
3D holograms that track you around for any viewing angle are here >>> Pocket-lint
The artwork was named Help Me Obi, for the Star Wars fans out there, and offers a 360-degree view. The floating baby might freak you out at first but watch on in the video to see how the image follows the position of the viewer. – COMMENT – Clever stuff, but mass market? Not any time soon. Do people actually want holograms still? Might be good for video conferencing, Star Wars style.
24 days ago
Dear Instagram >>> Bolt
We know it's a great name, because we chose it last year when we set out to build a better mobile voice and messaging experience.

We've worked really hard since then building the Bolt brand and technology to where it is today. Please don't destroy all that effort. - COMMENT - Complaints before its even announced. Is that a new record?
24 days ago
EU gives the green light to Apple's $3 billion acquisition of Beats >>> TUAW
In addition, Apple and Beats Electronics are not close competitors because the headphones they sell differ markedly in functionality and design. Moreover, even after the transaction, a large number of global competitors such as Bose, Sennheiser and Sony would remain. - COMMENT - The EU's fine with it, not sure Bose is. Also has to go through US regulators, so not quite done yet.
24 days ago
Printer & Scanner Reviews, Ratings & Comparisons: Want a 3D-Printed Bobblehead? Amazon Can Help
The online retail giant is embracing the 3D printing phenomenon with a new Web store where you can find more than 200 3D-printed products available for purchase. Most of the items in the store range from around $40 to $100, including cufflinks, bobble head figurines (pictured) wine glass holders, and fashion accessories like pendants, earrings, and necklaces. – COMMENT - So, tat and jewellery then. Some of them even have a limited number ready to ship. Pretty sure that's not quite how 3D printing is meant to work. Printed on demand, surely? Anything else is just selling normal stuff that just happens to be printed.
24 days ago
PantryChic's Bluetooth ingredient dispenser is for lazy, type-A bakers >>> Engadget
Meet PantryChic, an airtight food canister that dispenses ingredients into a digital scale, so that you never even have to break out a measuring cup. - COMMENT - Internet of things gone too far, or not far enough depending on how you look at it.
24 days ago
US falling behind Europe on electronic payments /Euromoney magazine
A large gulf is emerging between the US and Europe as Americans remain wedded to cheque payments and signature credit cards, while an efficient standardized payment systems takes root in the single market.

If Europe ever gets its own Google-scale web firm, it's hard not to see this distinction being at the heart of the competitive advantage.
25 days ago
Hold the Phone: A Big-Data Conundrum - NYTimes.com
Laura Trucco, a Ph.D. student in economics at Harvard, followed a hunch. She wanted to see whether my experience was unique. But how? When people become frustrated with a slow phone, she reasoned, they search Google to figure out what to do about it. So, in theory, data on how often people search for “iPhone slow,” as provided by Google Trends, can measure the frustration globally. (Data for only the United States show similar results.)

Because this data is available weekly, she was able to cross-reference these searches against release dates of new phones. The charts show the results, which are, to say the least, striking. In the top chart, there are six distinct spikes, and they correspond to releases of new iPhones.


Alternative interpretation: your phone feels slow when you're bombarded with advertising for a new, faster phone.
25 days ago
SpaceX’s lawsuit against the Air Force is gaining steam - The Washington Post
A federal judge has ordered a review of a U.S. Air Force contract to put dozens of military satellites into orbit. The contract, which was awarded to longtime federal partner United Launch Alliance, is being contested by SpaceX over claims that the bidding process was non-competitive.


Capitalism! In! SPAAAACE!
25 days ago
Apple Confirms Purchase of Book Recommendation Maker BookLamp | Re/code
BookLamp, for its part, posted a statement that says its service “will no longer be available as our company evolves its mission.”

Its present mission, apparently, being to make its way to Cupertino and do whatever Apple says to do. Before being snapped up by Apple, the company had a “book genome project” that aimed to analyze books content and style and provide those that liked one book or author with recommendations for other books that might be of interest.


Discoverability in the iBookstore is fairly terrible, so this technology could be put to good use.
25 days ago
Instagram Accidentally Leaks Ad for Their Second Snapchat Ripoff | | Betabeat
Last night, Instagram leaked word of an app called “Bolt,” a new, unanticipated photo messaging service. Considering Instagram is owned by Facebook, this adds Bolt to the growing portfolio of Facebook’s messaging services, which include Messanger, WhatsApp, Slingshot and Instagram.

Facebook really likes trying to get Snapchat's users.
28 days ago
Guests refuse to leave Airbnb host's house - CNN.com
So, if unwanted strangers won't leave, just call authorities and have them booted out, right?
That's where Tschogl's nightmare really begins.
In California, renters who occupy a property for more than 30 consecutive days are considered full-time tenants on a month-to-month lease with rights to occupancy protected under the state's tenant law.

Reminder: if you rent your house to someone for two months, you're a landlord.
28 days ago
Alleged Sony Xperia Z3 Images Leaked >>> Ubergizmo
The images do not tell much concerning what is underneath the hood for the smartphone, but it does point to what the exterior will be like should the Xperia Z3 hit the market, boasting of rounded edges instead of the flatter and sharper edges that are found on the Sony Xperia Z2. - COMMENT - The sides look remarkably like the Xperia Z Ultra, which is certainly not a bad thing. If it's as thin and well built, Sony could have a winner here. Let's hope it's slightly smaller than the Z2.
28 days ago
Pirate Bay Launches Mobile Site, Teases More Expansions >>> TorrentFreak
Over the years the Pirate Bay site has undergone many changes to make it harder to shut down. The tracker was put into retirement, torrents were traded in for magnet links, and the site moved its servers to the cloud. - COMMENT - Pirates go mobile.

What remained the same, however, was the site’s general appearance and its lack of support for mobile devices.
28 days ago
Twitter's staff male-dominated >>> BBC News
The data released by Twitter on Wednesday showed that, overall, only 30% of its staff were female. The data followed a trend among tech companies that showed an under-representation of women.
28 days ago
Sony to pay up to $17.75 million in 2011 PSN hacking settlement >>> Ars Technica
The lengthy settlement agreement (PDF) offers a number of benefits to users affected by the breach: a free downloadable PS3 or PSP game (from a selection of 14 titles), three PS3 themes (from a selection of six), or a three-month subscription to PlayStation Plus. Users who took advantage of Sony's "Welcome Back" promotion back in 2011 can choose one of those benefits, while those who didn't get a free game back then can choose from two of the three benefits. - COMMENT - That didn't take long at all.
28 days ago
Josh Topolsky of The Verge Is Joining Bloomberg >>> NYTimes.com
In joining Bloomberg, which had been seen as a lucrative but not necessarily cutting edge destination for reporters and editors, Mr. Topolsky is bucking the trend of young, web-native journalists leaving established media brands for smaller, more nimble start-ups. – COMMENT - Something in those old media companies, then?
28 days ago
This MP Wants People Who Steal World Of Warcraft Weapons To Be Punished Like Real-Life Thieves
Mike Weatherley, who is also David Cameron’s chief advisor on intellectual property, asked ministers to consider new laws so that “people who steal online items in video games with a real-world monetary value receive the same sentences as criminals who steal real-world items of the same monetary value”. The Conservative MP, who himself plays the fantasy role-playing game Warcraft, told BuzzFeed that players sometimes spend large amounts of real world money on in-game items.

The far more pertinent question for most, of course, would be whether conventional property rights can be extended to digital downloads from sites such as iTunes or Amazon. That would obviously affect criminals who steal accounts – but it would also pose thorny questions for the companies who sell such digital property, and have got used to being able to impose restrictions on their use and sale.
29 days ago
NVIDIA's new Shield is a tablet built for gaming >>> Engadget
Shield Tablet dumps the original Shield's 5-inch screen in favor of a bigger 8-inch, 1080p display, swaps the original Tegra 4 in favor of K1 and drops the controller bit entirely. Should you wish to pair a controller with Shield Tablet -- and NVIDIA thinks you should -- the company's making one (it's even got WiFi Direct for lower latency than Bluetooth), but it's totally optional and doesn't come packed in with the tablet. So, what is this thing? Who is it for? And is it any good? – COMMENT - Android gaming isn't quite as big as it is on the iPhone and iPad, mainly because developers have struggled in the past to deal with the various device specifications. The original Shield was great, let's hope the tablet is too.
29 days ago
The Foursquare Blog — A brand new Foursquare, with a brand new logo and look, is almost ready for you
Everyone explores the world differently – guided by their own unique tastes, their friends, and the people they trust. Local search has never been good at this. It doesn’t get you, and, as a result, everyone gets the same one-size-fits-all results. Why should two very different people get the same recommendations when they visit Paris? Or the same list of places when they’re looking for a bar? We’re about to change that. In a couple weeks, we’re rolling out a brand new version of Foursquare that’s all about you. Tell us what you like, and we’ll be on the lookout for great places that match your tastes, wherever you are.


The first part of the Big Foursquare Relaunch was splitting the app in half, moving checkins over to the new Swarm app. This is the second half. But they've got an uphill struggle, after existing users rebelled over the change.
29 days ago
You can try Apple's OS X Yosemite beta starting from tomorrow >>> TechRadar
The beta is totally free but you'll need to sign up over on Apple's site. Remember though, this is still in development, so you can expect a few bugs and crashes.

In fact, Apple recommends installing it on a secondary Mac in case, you know, you've just got one lying around. - COMMENT - You do have a spare Mac, right? Still, it'll be interesting to see what's genuinely useful in all that new stuff.
29 days ago
Surprise: Snapchat's most popular feature isn't snaps anymore | The Verge
Snapchat says that its most popular feature is now its most public, least ephemeral one: Stories. Snapchat tells The Verge that more Stories are now viewed per day than snaps. One billion Stories are viewed per day, the company says, up from 500 million just two months ago. If you’re not familiar, Snapchat’s Stories feature launched late last year and lets users create compilations of snaps that last 24 hours. Stories are only be viewable by friends, unless you change a setting to let anyone who adds you view your Stories.


Watch out for Facebook's new "Tales" feature, coming soon to Slingshot.
29 days ago
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