Facebook ad pranking, Samsung’s design wars, Wirelurker arrests, web: alive or dead?, and more


1952 Illustrated Food Ad. This is not targeted to you at all. Honest.

A selection of 11 links for you. Do not spray on pets. I’m on Twitter as @charlesarthur. Do ping me links, opinions, etc.

Pranking my roommate with eerily targeted Facebook ads >> My Social Sherpa

Brian Swichkow:

I don’t do anything half-assed and he knew that. So about two months later I was experimenting with different ways to use Facebook’s Custom Audience targeting and having quite a bit of success. I was using a list of about 10,000 people and getting some of the highest click-throughs I had seen in a long time. Being a fan of the Mythbusters where they believe that anything worth doing is worth overdoing – I asked myself how I could take this to the next level. I realized that stepping things up a notch was actually stepping them down a notch in this case and I asked how targeted I could make my audience. I said to myself, “What if I only had like five people in an audience? What if I only had one person in an audience? … I should test this … I should test this on my roommate.”

The amazing thing here is the cost of doing it. You’ll have to read the article. Try guessing how much first though.


Pearl: the Compact Mirror Battery Project that started on Kickstarter but ended with Indiegogo >> Daniel Chin

Pearl™: Compact Mirror + USB Rechargeable Battery Pack was originally a Kickstarter project that was supposed to run from November 10 to December 3, 2014. In less than 48 hours since the project launched, it raised over $41,000, surpassing its $30,000 funding goal.

Then all of a sudden, we were informed by Kickstarter that our project was suspended due to a DMCA copyright infringement claim. It is a ridiculous, unfounded and fraudulent claim which Kickstarter did not bother to verify with us.

The allegations in the blog post are serious. One wonders how much of this goes on and simply never surfaces. Kickstarter doesn’t come out of it looking much good.


Alleged creators of WireLurker malware arrested in China >> SecurityWeek.Com

Three individuals suspected of being involved in the creation and distribution of a recently uncovered piece of malware referred to as “WireLurker” have been arrested and charged, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security said on Friday.

The suspects, identified by their surnames as Wang, Lee and Chen, were taken into custody on Thursday based on information provided to law enforcement authorities by the China-based security company Qihoo 360 Technology.

WireLurker, a threat designed to target devices running Mac OS X, iOS and Windows, was recently uncovered by Palo Alto Networks. The network security firm’s researchers identified a total of 467 malicious OS X apps which by mid-October had been downloaded by Chinese users over 350,000 times from an app store called Maiyadi. Cybercriminals distributed the threat by packaging it with popular games and applications.


Ditto creator says Samsung phones are “crammed with complexity and redundant features” >> PhoneArena

Parallel to the launch process of Ditto, the simplest notifications wearable device there is, its product designer Bob Olodort opened up about his small-time gig as a consulting designer at Samsung. He told VentureBeat that he’d pay the Korean chaebol a visit four times a year and show them “elegant, innovative phone designs” – each one “optimized to provide an ideal set of features for a […] target customer” and an example of “simplicity and elegance”. So why are our faithful Samsung phones the exact feature-stuffed opposite of this fine concept? 

Olodort has the blunt answer: “They would louse it up by putting in everything — that’s their style at Samsung. A few young Samsung engineering managers would each add their own pet features. Later, the carriers Samsung sold to would insist on another set of features. Pretty soon the phones would be crammed with complexity and redundant features.” Unsurprisingly, the simplicity-obsessed Oledorf left to do his own thing.

This is hardly news to anyone who’s tried a Samsung smartphone. It sounds much like LG’s approach to Smart TV – every manager is desperate to get their own pet project in.


What happens when pirates play a game development simulator and then go bankrupt because of piracy? >> Greenheart Games

Old (well, from April 2013) but good. Greenheart Games intentionally uploaded a cracked version of their game to torrent sites:

The cracked version is nearly identical to the real thing except for one detail… Initially we thought about telling them their copy is an illegal copy, but instead we didn’t want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers. So, as players spend a few hours playing and growing their own game dev company, they will start to see the following message, styled like any other in-game message:

“Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.”

Slowly their in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt.

The online responses are predictably hilarious as pirating players complain without irony that piracy is hurting the profitability of the pirated game they’re playing.

Apposite today with PCalc developer James Thomson noting that around 70% of the copies of his app in use on iOS are pirated. (The suggestions for how to fix that – read the tweet replies – are quite fun.)


How Apple creates leverage, and the future of Apple Pay >> stratechery by Ben Thompson

I hadn’t come across BATNA – Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement – before, which Thompson uses earlier in this piece to explain how Apple uses what it has to succeed in negotiations, and then in new spaces such as Apple Pay:

Presuming this works out as well for Apple as I expect it to, there are two key lessons to be drawn. First, all of Apple’s leverage ultimately – either directly or indirectly – stems from consumer loyalty, which itself is based on Apple’s focus on the user experience. Second, the reason why Tim Cook so confidently called out Apple Pay as a new category is that he knew it was an area where Apple could bring that leverage to bear, just as they did in music and telephony. This is in marked contrast to the Apple TV, which is still a hobby: TV remains a much stronger business that is far more resistant to disruption than most people in tech appreciate, and until Apple has a means of obtaining leverage it will only ever remain so.


Welcome to the “Million Smartphone Club” of India >> Counterpoint Technology

Looking at India’s burgeoning smartphone market in Q3 2014:

The growing need for consumers flocking to the internet using mobile phones coupled with rapidly declining average selling price (ASP) of smartphones has been the key drivers of uptake of smartphones in India. The declining smartphone ASPs is as a result of proliferation of firstly not only local brands entering a price-war but also the highly price-competitive Chinese brands such as Xiaomi or Lenovo entering the Indian market. These brands are employing cost-effective distribution strategies such as online e-commerce channels to keep the costs fairly low in order to gain price competitiveness which is a boon to consumers

India smartphone market still has a room for vendors to grow exponentially as it expands deeper beyond urban India. However going forward only the vendors need to find faster and innovative ways to reach out to the end consumer. We estimate that going forward three out of four smartphones in the country will be 3G smartphones.

The idea that American icon Motorola would effectively be saved by selling into India would have seemed weird even a couple of years ago. Now it’s a major player there.


The web is dying; apps are killing it >> Wall Street Journal

Christopher Mims:

even the Web of documents and news items could go away. Facebook has announced plans to host publishers’ work within Facebook itself, leaving the Web nothing but a curiosity, a relic haunted by hobbyists.

I think the Web was a historical accident, an anomalous instance of a powerful new technology going almost directly from a publicly funded research lab to the public. It caught existing juggernauts like Microsoft flat-footed, and it led to the kind of disruption today’s most powerful tech companies would prefer to avoid.

It isn’t that today’s kings of the app world want to quash innovation, per se. It is that in the transition to a world in which services are delivered through apps, rather than the Web, we are graduating to a system that makes innovation, serendipity and experimentation that much harder for those who build things that rely on the Internet. And today, that is pretty much everyone.

Mims’s article has come in for a lot of rejoinders and rebuttals – such as this one on Quartz. But just because an app has a web view, does that mean you’re using “the web”? The navigation idea is all different. And in the end, you almost always end up still inside the app.


Twist: A ultra-portable universal adapter for your MacBook by Oneadaptr >> Kickstarter

What is Twist?

Twist is a universal adapter with four optional USB ports designed to work with the MacBook adapter. It offers much more functions than the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit and makes charging your mobile devices much easier. 

Note that this Kickstarter isn’t live yet; I was sent the link over the weekend (but tried at once to order some). I like the idea of it. I’m hoping to get some to test, but I’d have already put my money in if that hadn’t happened. I particularly like the idea of not having to scoop up multiple plugs and cables when leaving a hotel room; and the bright yellow model would be hard to miss as you check you’ve got everything.


10 cities visualized by how cleanly their streets are laid out >> Co.Exist

Artist Steve Von Worley plots cities according to their orderliness.

One can guess, without seeing them, that younger cities (such as those in the US) will score highly because they are so new, so that they existed when horse-drawn traffic already did. London and especially Tokyo look like a mess, but you also have to consider geography – particularly height and rivers.

That said, what would a city developed now look like in these terms?


Samsung hunts next hit with internet push as phones fade >> Yahoo Finance

To demonstrate the Internet of things, the company is using its Samsung Innovation Museum, a glass-walled building across from its headquarters, about 30 miles south of Seoul. The five-story, 11,000 square-meter structure looks a bit like New York’s Guggenheim museum, painted almost entirely in white with words carved into the walls: ‘smart living’ and ‘inspiring others.’

In an open space on the second floor, booths stand side by side. Each is decorated with different interiors to show off connected life in hotels, planes, shopping malls or living rooms.

In the hotel booth, you can check in by pressing a key-patterned button on an Android smartphone without having to wait in line. Upon entering the room, the window blinds automatically roll up and the television turns on.

In the booth for home technology, lights, appliances and a robot vacuum cleaner are all connected online to mobile phone app. The idea is you can flick on the lights, warm the oven or even clean your living room from your phone before you come home. Samsung has started offering a rudimentary version of the service in Korea and will expand it globally.

This might be me being stupid, but why would you want to turn the lights on before you get home? Isn’t that what we have switches for? As to turning on the TV when you go into the room, what if you don’t want the TV on and the blinds rolled up? So many assumptions and so much effort that is more easily solved through simple human action.


One thought on “Facebook ad pranking, Samsung’s design wars, Wirelurker arrests, web: alive or dead?, and more

  1. Pingback: Start up: Roombas v dogs, native v web redux, Intel’s mobile loss, Samsung slims, and more | The Overspill: when there's more that I want to say

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