Links: Nexus 9, Nexus Player, the homeless near San Jose, concrete failure, and more

concrete fissure texture
Concrete fissure texture by Grégory Legeais, on Flickr

A selection of 8 links for you. Use them wisely. Comment at the end if you want. I’m on Twitter as @charlesarthur.

Low post >> All this

Chicago-based Dr Drang (who one suspects is a civil engineer) came home to find the basketball post outside his house had blown over, because:

The post was almost all rust, with little if any competent steel left. This kind of rusting at the bases of posts and poles is pretty common. Water runs down and collects in little crevices, where the rusting initiates. In this case, the soil around the post, combined with the buried concrete in which the post was embedded, conspired to keep moisture in contact with the post, accelerating the corrosion process. A more common problem is hollow poles that don’t allow drainage of the moisture that collects inside. These are insidious failures because the steel rusts from the inside out, giving no visible indication of how far it’s progressed until the pole falls over.

Read on, though, to find out how steel and concrete aren’t actually very good playmates, and why old bridges look like they do underneath.


Nexus 9 review: a little better on paper than in practice >> Android Police

David Ruddock, in a review that struggles to find anything good to say:

Anyway, for example, if I’ve been sitting in Chrome reading a few articles for 10 or 15 minutes and go to pull up the multitasking UI, there can be a delay of anywhere from 2-4 seconds before it appears. The home button, too, will occasionally exhibit similar lag, though that’s nearly gone with the OTA I think. Or sometimes I’ll pull up the recents menu, then hit home, and the launcher is gone and takes a couple seconds to come back. There’s one correlating factor I notice when I have these problems, too: the Nexus 9 gets warm. The SoC sits at the top of the device just behind the speaker grille, and it gets warmer a lot more often than I’d expect. Just browsing web pages can noticeably heat it up.

Lots of reviewers seemed to have this problem with a hot spot on the Nexus 9. Shouldn’t that be a solved problem by now on tablets?


Amazon Prime members can now enjoy free unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos >> Amazon Media Room

Amazon today introduced Prime Photos, the newest benefit for Prime members, which provides free unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive. Most people have a lifetime of birthdays, vacations, holidays, and everyday moments stored across numerous devices. And, they continue to create billions of photos every year. Now, Prime members have a simple, secure place to store them all for free. Starting today, members can securely store their existing photo collections, automatically upload new photos taken and access them anytime, anywhere, at no cost. Members can start using the Prime Photos benefit today by visiting http://www.amazon.com/primephotos.

Clever: effectively letting you hold your own photos to ransom if you don’t stick with Prime. The storage and bandwidth will be much, much cheaper for Amazon than the profit it makes from Prime.


Send SMS from your Mac… in 2002 >> O’Reilly Archives

Via @lrs on Twitter, a reminder that Apple had the “new” (in Yosemite) function of sending SMS to people straight from the desktop in 2002 – but inexplicably killed it with the 10.5 release of OSX:

Although Apple has done a good job supporting Bluetooth technology, not much has been done to educate users about what it can do. Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the little nifty Address Book (in Mac OS X) has built-in Bluetooth functionality that allows you to send and receive SMS (Short Message Service) messages through your Bluetooth-enabled phone, all via your computer!

Everything old is new.


Riffsy raises $3.5m for GIF Keyboard on iOS >> Inside Mobile Apps

Mobile app company Riffsy has announced it has raised $3.5m in seed funding for its GIF Keyboard app on iOS devices. The funding round was led by Redpoint Ventures, and will help Riffsy transform the process of sending animated images to friends into one that’s as simple and “everyday” as sending emojis. To date, Riffsy has passed 500m monthly GIF views.

I use Riffsy and like it a lot (it’s here). I could see it becoming a social app which could easily go viral; if it could work out its monetisation method correctly, it could do OK.


Inside San Jose’s largest homeless encampment, the Jungle >> San Jose Mercury News

Keeping body and soul together is a daily struggle for Mama Red and her neighbors, but a close observation of the Jungle makes obvious why it – and nearly a hundred smaller places like it around the city – keep rising again despite San Jose’s efforts to knock them down.

The Jungle works for the people who live there, providing a sense of community, a support network, even a meager livelihood. The Jungle has its own crude system of governance, with order often maintained vigilante-style, residents say. “Any time people break the rules, they’re asked to leave,” said a longtime inhabitant, known as Giggles. “As much as we don’t like rules, you have to have them.”

Most of the people who live there didn’t choose to be homeless, but now that they are, the Jungle meets their most basic needs.

After a failed flower shop in Felton swept away the last of her savings, Mama Red — she declined to give her full name – took care of a friend’s invalid mother until the woman died. With no place to turn, she tumbled into the social safety net and wound up in a homeless shelter for several weeks. That was 13 years ago, the last time Red lived indoors.

Just as a reminder, here’s Google co-founder Larry Page, in the FT on Saturday: “The idea that everyone should slavishly work so they do something inefficiently so they keep their job – that just doesn’t make any sense to me. That can’t be the right answer… Even if there’s going to be a disruption on people’s jobs, in the short term that’s likely to be made up by the decreasing cost of things we need, which I think is really important and not being talked about.”

The Jungle is 18 miles away from Mountain View.


iOS 8 Share extensions will *only* show up if they explicitly support *all* of the provided activity items · Issue #5 · tumblr/ios-extension-issues >> GitHub

Here’s how we think this should work, using the Tumblr app as an example:

The user long-presses on a photo
We put the image data, the posts’s URL, and maybe a text summary of the post, all in the activity items array
We’d expect share extensions that support either image data or URLs or text to all show up in the activity controller
What actually happens is that only share extensions that explicitly support images and URLs and text will show up.

Hard to figure out if this is something which Apple should tweak, or where developers just have to knuckle under and roll with. (The latter will probably happen.) That said, I’ve found Extensions on iOS 8 to be just right – not too many, not too intrusive.


Google’s Nexus Player: more prototype than finished product >> Ars Technica

Ron Amadeo on the Asus-built $99 (+$40 gamepad) device:

Unfortunately for Google’s living room ambitions, the Nexus Player isn’t very good. Despite the company’s experience with Google TV, the Nexus Player and Android TV are first-gen products with lots of first-gen problems. The hardware/software combo flops on many of the basics—such as playing video smoothly—and doesn’t deliver on any of the compelling experiences “Android on your TV” would seem able to provide. Apps and games are presumably supposed to be the big differentiator here from the Chromecast and Apple TV, but the Play Store interface is clunky and, instead of 1.4m Android apps, you get access to about 70. It’s also pretty buggy…

…Given the emphasis on apps, that 8GB of storage is a disaster, though. After the OS and pre-installed apps, you’ve got about 5GB of storage free out of the box. Let’s install some games! Modern Combat 4 (a generic first-person shooter) is 1.9GB, Asphalt 8 (a racing game) is 1.3GB, The Walking Dead: Season 1 is 1GB… and we’re nearly out of space…

…The app selection here, though, is really sparse. You would think the whole point of Android on your television would be to have a decent chunk of the 1.4 million Android apps on your television, but Android TV has about 70 apps.

This will no doubt improve quickly, but if Android TV does gain a lot more apps, it will become more difficult to use because the “Play Store” on Android TV is awful. There’s no search, no top lists, and no free or paid filters. There are five categories you can browse though—and that’s it.

It always feels as though Google is in a rush to get these TV-related products out of the door, and it shows. Nobody is cleaning up in TV devices. Why not take the time to get it right?


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