Start up: Samsung ChatON going off, USB apps for iPad, the ‘uncanny valley’ for algorithms, Sony hack history, and more


Bitcoin mining: significantly lower health and safety risk than other forms.

A selection of 10 links for you. Wipe off excess. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Apple, is USB allowed now? >> Medium

Matt Ronge, pointing to Duet Display, which lets you use an iPad (via Lightning) as an extra screen for a Mac running 10.9 or better:

For the past year, we’ve been working on an app (launching early 2015) that turns your iPad into a graphic tablet for your Mac (like a Wacom tablet). Our app at its core also streams video content from the Mac to the iPad, so we were very interested in USB connectivity early on in our project.

We knew that using USB instead of Wifi was a decision we had to make early on, as it would completely change our direction of development. USB offers a reliable, low latency connection which is 100x better than any wireless technology (especially with Yosemite experiencing serious Wifi reliability issues).

We were also very hesitant to build a business around a decision Apple may change on a whim. So we submitted an app to test the waters, would Apple allow an app that requires USB? An Apple representative called us and informed us USB connectivity was not allowed.

Duet Display looks like it could be fun, though one usually wants a bigger display – but if you had an 11in Macbook Air, a full-size iPad would almost double your screen size, and improve the resolution a lot.


Our tactics for Gamergate are outdated >> Space Channel 6

Brianna Wu:

For me, personally, I intend to keep lessening the amount I’m posting and writing about Gamergate. Everyone knows they are very sexist, very unhealthy individuals. Thanks to my Patreon, GSX’s full time staffer will document this behavior for law enforcement leaving me free to speak out for change in the industry and make inclusive games.

My suggestion to people rightly outraged about this movement, is to ask yourself what you currently want to accomplish. It’s my suggestion that it would be most helpful to shift the conversation back to representation in the industry. I think the gains in raising awareness of Gamergate have diminished, while the threat of giving the lunatic fringe the attention they desire has stayed the same.

To be blunt, I’m not sure endlessly talking about Gamergate does anything anymore.

I’m not sure it did past the second month. Idiots enjoy being idiots, and won’t be dissuaded from that track.

Topsy suggests a gradual dimunition in the number of tweets on this topic from 50,000 to 20,000 over the past month (and bear in mind that the obsessives tweet many, many times per day).


BuildZoom office burglary – $5000 reward – update!! >> BuildZoom

David Petersen of BuildZoom, from which equipment was stolen:

After our story was covered on ABC 7 News, we were contacted by a nearby startup that was burglarized on July 6th and July 13th. Comparing footage, it’s clear that the same person broke into both offices.

Update 2: It appears that this woman is breaking into SF startups with a Doorking / DKS code entry system. She has obtained a master key and is able to enter any office with this system.

Update 3: We believe we have identified the burglar. It’s a local San Francisco woman who has been convicted of similar crimes in the past. An acquaintance of hers emailed with photographs and additional information. It certainly looks like her.

Someone with a master key for office doors in SF? That’s a problem.


Facebook’s popularity among teens dips again >> Bloomberg

A report yesterday by Frank N. Magid Associates Inc. found that the portion of 13- to 17-year-old social-media users in the U.S. on Facebook slipped to 88% this year from 94% in 2013 and 95% in 2012. In the same period, Twitter and messaging applications rose in popularity in that age group, the study showed.

The Menlo Park, California-based company first warned a year ago that teens weren’t using its website as often as before. Facebook stopped discussing teen usage on its earnings calls after last year’s disclosure alarmed investors. While the issue was all but forgotten as the company’s advertising revenue reached new highs, it’s a bigger concern now, according to Tero Kuittinen, a managing director at Magid in New York.

“You look at Facebook and you say, ‘Wow, something really changed in 2014,’” Kuittinen said. “If kids are starting to use so much of their daily time on messaging apps, surely it’s going to hurt somebody.”

Among 13- to 17 year-olds, Twitter usage climbed 2 percentage points to 48%, according to the report. While more people use Facebook and its messaging app than any competitor, its user base tends to be older, with 55% of Facebook Messenger users being 37 or younger. By the same measure, 86% of Snapchat Inc.’s users and 83% of Kik Interactive Inc.’s users are under 37.

Seems reasonable to think that messaging apps are pulling teens away from Facebook.


2015: the year we get creeped out by algorithms >> Nieman Journalism Lab

Zeynep Tufekci:

It turns out computers have a built-in “uncanny valley” (that creepy feeling android robots generate when they kind of look human). Just like we don’t want robots too human-shaped — we want them to know their place — it turns out we aren’t too happy when our computers go from “smart” (as in automating things and connecting us to each other or information) to “smart” (as in “let me make that decision for you”).

Algorithmic judgment is the uncanny valley of computing.

Algorithms (basically computer programs, but here I’m talking about the complex subset that is being used to calculate results of some consequence, which then shape our experience) have become more visible in 2014, and it turns out we’re creeped out.

Tufekci is super-smart, and always ahead of the curve.


htmlwidgets: JavaScript data visualization for R >> RStudio Blog

Today we’re excited to announce htmlwidgets, a new framework that brings the best of JavaScript data visualization libraries to R. There are already several packages that take advantage of the framework (leaflet, dygraphs, networkD3, DataTables, and rthreejs) with hopefully many more to come.

An htmlwidget works just like an R plot except it produces an interactive web visualization. A line or two of R code is all it takes to produce a D3 graphic or Leaflet map. Widgets can be used at the R console as well as embedded in R Markdown reports and Shiny web applications.

This looks terrific (if you’re into R.)


Bitcoin’s collapse is worse than the ruble’s >> Quartz

Matt Phillips & Melvin Backman:

Why the collapse in bitcoin?  One of the clearest answers seems to be that it’s gotten harder to use bitcoin for some of its less savory uses, such as dodging taxes and buying drugs. Governments increasingly are trying to clamp down on the “dark web” sites where bitcoin quickly was the cryptocurrency of choice. Collapses of large, unregulated bitcoin exchanges — such as Mt. Gox — have done little to instill confidence in the currency either.

Mt Gox was a key reason for the start of the collapse. Yet the nearer Bitcoin gets to its 2011/12 levels, and the more people are using it (thus ironing out the speculative element), the more it looks like a really useful product. The implications of the blockchain are fascinating.


Absolute Sownage >> Attrition.org

Over the last two months, the multi-national Sony Corporation has come under a wide range of attacks from an even wider range of attackers. The backstory about what event prompted who to attack and why will make a mediocre made-for-TV movie someday. This article is not going to cover the brief history of hacks; readers can find details elsewhere. Instead, the following only serves to create an accurate and comprehensive timeline regarding the recent breaches, a cliff notes summary for easy reference.

Starts in April 2011, by the end of which we were up to 21. Current count: 24.


Why the sharing economy could be the internet’s most divisive revolution yet >> The Guardian

By me, on the “sharing economy” companies such as Uber and AirBnB:

what would happen if an Airbnb guest was harmed by fire, or a carbon monoxide leak – a constant concern for hotels. Airbnb’s site says owners “should” make sure they have a functioning CO detector and are following gas safety regulations. But although the money for any stay is paid via Airbnb, Robinson says he doesn’t know who would be responsible if someone were injured that way.

“I’m not a lawyer,” says [Patrick] Robinson [AirBnbB’s public policy director in Europe]. It seems surprising that the eventuality hasn’t come up in business meetings, but Robinson declines to discuss it.

It’s a scenario that has exercised insurance companies, which are wrestling with the question of who is liable in a collision involving a car being driven on an Uber journey, or one of the other car rental services, or a complaint involving Airbnb clients. Premiums might rise, or need extra tweaking.

I still find it surprising if AirBnB hasn’t discussed – and even worked out a plan – for the eventuality of poisoning or death at one of its lets, given that it receives the payments for them.


Samsung says ‘cya’ to ChatON smartphone messaging app >> WSJ

Samsung is closing ChatON, for which it claims a “user base” of over 200m users. To which everyone else says: O RLY? And they used it so much you’re closing it?

“Samsung’s failure in messaging apps is endemic of a broader struggle for the company in software and services,” said Rajeev Chand, managing director at Rutberg & Co., a San Francisco-based investment bank that focuses on the mobile industry.

Mr. Chand said he was puzzled by Samsung’s inability to parlay its massive handset sales into at least some traction in software and services, calling it “the defining issue for the company’s long-term success.”

“If they don’t succeed in apps and software, Samsung has a very large risk of being relegated to an increasingly shrinking-margin company,” he said, referring to the recent gains that low-cost Chinese and Indian competitors have made in handset sales in recent months.

Add in this from April:

Strategy Analytics, a Newton, Mass.-based research firm, said in a report Tuesday that U.S. users of Samsung’s devices spend little time on its own messaging, music and voice-activated applications including apps like ChatON, the South Korean company’s answer to services like WhatsApp, Line and Viber.

The report said that U.S. users of Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4 smartphones logged an average of six seconds per month using ChatON, compared to more than 11 hours per month on Facebook and about two hours per month on Instagram.

Six. Seconds. This is Samsung’s problem, writ large (or small). By contrast, Apple failed with Ping – but that was a social media app built on top of iTunes, itself a successful Apple-owned platform; iTunes remained. Samsung is left with nothing.

And it was always reluctant to give any hard numbers about ChatON. The irony is that ChatON is going to remain open for slightly longer in the US – apparently that’s one of the busier places.

Even more fun: at the end of November, Samsung categorically denied that it was going to close ChatON. Denials, eh?


Corrected: the author of the Gamergate post is Brianna Wu, not Anita Sarkeesian. Apologies, and thanks to Ron Hayter.

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