Start up: Google swipes ad injectors, streaming v vinyl, Galaxy S6 reviewed, FTC-Google scrutiny, and more


Wait, is that from Amazon? Photo by star5112 on Flickr.

A selection of 9 links for you. None is an April Fool. (Apparently it’s necessary to say this stuff.) I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Out with unwanted ad injectors » Google Online Security Blog

Nav Jagpal, software engineer for “safe browsing”:

To increase awareness about ad injectors and the scale of this issue, we’ll be releasing new research on May 1 that examines the ad injector ecosystem in depth. The study, conducted with researchers at University of California Berkeley, drew conclusions from more than 100 million pageviews of Google sites across Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer on various operating systems, globally. It’s not a pretty picture. Here’s a sample of the findings:

• Ad injectors were detected on all operating systems (Mac and Windows), and web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE) that were included in our test.
• More than 5% of people visiting Google sites have at least one ad injector installed. Within that group, half have at least two injectors installed and nearly one-third have at least four installed.
• 34% of Chrome extensions injecting ads were classified as outright malware.
• Researchers found 192 deceptive Chrome extensions that affected 14 million users; these have since been disabled. Google now incorporates the techniques researchers used to catch these extensions to scan all new and updated extensions.


Tidal, Apple, Beyonce, and the future of streaming music » NextDraft Originals

First of two links on this. Point 8 (you should also read 1-7):

You just held a press conference with some of the biggest celebrities of our time. And the consumer buzz and press you got wasn’t even close to a Tim Cook Apple keynote. You’re in the technology business now. And we’re all in a new world. Today, product is a bigger star than any celebrity. That’s so important and so right, I’m gonna make it the chorus of this post and repeat it a couple more times. Product is a bigger star than any celebrity … Product is a bigger star than any celebrity. And in the high end tech business, we got 99 problems, but UI ain’t one. Seriously, if you think having a beef with another rapper is dangerous, try dealing with a product manager who disagrees with your vision. Here’s what the company that acquires Tidal should do to further differentiate itself…

9. Push back against the Internet-era dogma that we all hate having our music streams hosted by a human curator. That idea was never more than an assumption. And it’s one that needs to be tested. You’ll still have access to uninterrupted music when you want it. But when you want a radio station or a hosted playlist, then someone should let you hear a human voice.

True. Will Zane Lowe be the human voice on Beats?


Google and Asus announce the Chromebit, a sub $100 Chrome PC » MobileSyrup.com

Igor Bonifacic:

Thanks to Google and Asus, an entirely new type of Chrome OS computer is coming this summer. The two companies just announced the Chromebit, a $100 computer on a HDMI dongle.

Each one comes equipped with a 1.8GHz ARM Cortex-A17 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16 GB of solid state storage, Bluetooth 4.0, a dual band 802.11ac WiFi chip and a single full-size USB 2.0 port. Using its HDMI port, the Chromebit can be connected with any other HDMI-equipped monitor or television.

When it ships this summer, the Chromebit will be available in three different colours—blue, orange and grey. Google and Asus haven’t yet announced how much the unit will retail for in Canada, but based on a post on its Chrome Blog, it appears the company’s aim is to have the Chromebit cost less than $100 everywhere it’s sold. Of course, those that purchase one will still need to provide a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

So you need an HDMI monitor, mouse and keyboard. Who’s going to have those hanging around yet not have a PC?


Samsung Galaxy S6 review: the iPhone 6 has met its match » WSJ

Joanna Stern:

No, neither of the new Galaxys brings any original ideas to the evolution of the smartphone. If anything, Samsung has actually sucked out the differentiators, including the waterproof design and removable storage and battery. And Samsung still needs some schooling in the software department.

Yet with a series of improvements, the Galaxy now has a leg up on the hardware of other Android phones and the iPhone. It’s got me, a once extremely satisfied iPhone 6 owner, wishing for a better screen, sharper camera and faster charging.

One reason I probably like the new Galaxys so much—especially the white models I’ve been testing — is that the design looks like a compilation of the iPhone’s greatest hits.

Okey doke. The one thing the S6 does have: a dual-app view. Hard to pull off, but potentially useful. The cameras (S6 v iPhone 6) seem like a dead heat.

And this isn’t where the battle will be fought. It’ll be in China, and Europe.


Noah Smith on Twitter: “10/And what near-future sci-fi used to be – Neuromancer, Snow Crash, etc. – is now just called “real stuff happening in the news”.”

What with the events in Turkey.. part of a larger tweetstorm that’s worth reading at Eugene Wei’s blog.


US recording industry dips slightly, streaming and vinyl jump » Billboard

Ed Christman:

The story within digital remains intriguing. While streaming revenue jumped nearly 29% – to $1.87bn from $1.45bn – download sales fell 9.5%, to $2.64bn from $2.92bn. That means that overall digital grew by $140bn, 3.2%, to $4.5bn, up from $4.37bn in the prior year.

Looking more closely at digital streaming revenue, paid subscriptions’ value jumped to nearly $800m, via 7.7m subscribers, up 25% from 2013’s $639m in revenue and 6.2m subscribers. The RIAA also reports that ad-supported streaming services’ contribution to the overall U.S. music industry grew 34%, to nearly $295m – from $220m in the prior year – while SoundExchange distributions grew 31%, to $773.4m.

CD albums fell 12.3%, to $1.85bn from $2.12bn in 2013. Overall CD sales, on a unit basis, were down 16.3%m to 144.1m from $172.2m…

On a bright note, vinyl sales continued to grow, contributing $320.8m to the total pie, from the prior year’s total of $213.7m – a 50% growth.

Got that? Ad-supported “free” streaming generated less revenue than vinyl in the world’s largest, most connected market. (This likely doesn’t include YouTube revenues, though.)


Key senator to take closer look at FTC-Google meetings » NASDAQ.com

A key US senator plans to ask the Federal Trade Commission for information about meetings it had with Google Inc. executives during the time it was investigating the company for possible antitrust violations.

Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), who chairs the Senate’s antitrust panel, will conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine what conversations took place between the FTC and the Internet giant during the probe, people in his office said on Monday.

The senator could later expand his inquiry to include conversations people in the White House had with the FTC and Google, these people said.

A Republican senator is looking at Google’s relationship with the White House? No doubt to irk Obama, but it makes Google’s blogpost thumbing its nose at the Wall Street Journal (in which it used GIFs of babies) look both incredibly jejeune and ill-judged. Even if (as is likely) this comes to nothing, I suspect it will be embarrassing for Google to explain the post, which detailed visits to the White House by Google staff.


Criminal charges against FBI agents reveal staggering corruption in the Silk Road investigation » Forbes

Sarah Jeong describes

a sprawling case tainted by an unbelievable web of corruption. A state’s witness took the fall for an agent’s theft, thus becoming the target for a murder-for-hire—a murder that was then faked by the same agent. The Silk Road case was compromised again and again as Force and Bridges allegedly took every opportunity to embezzle and steal money. With so much bitcoin on their hands, the two had to coax various bitcoin and payments companies to help convert their ill-gotten gains to dollars. When companies resisted, investigations were launched, subpoenas were issued, and civil forfeitures were sought in retaliation.

Someone’s gotta be writing the screenplay, right? More to the point, I wonder if there was some assumption that bitcoin transactions would be anonymous on anyone’s part..


Amazon Dash Button » Amazon

Dash Button comes with a reusable adhesive and a hook so you can hang, stick, or place it right where you need it. Keep Dash Button handy in the kitchen, bath, laundry, or anywhere you store your favorite products. When you’re running low, simply press Dash Button, and Amazon quickly delivers household favorites so you can skip the last-minute trip to the store.

I know, it looks like an April Fool’s. But it isn’t – it’s real. Amazon is making it easier to order stuff directly, with a very clever, Internet of Things approach.

Next question is whether people will trust Amazon to always be the cheapest to deliver this. Miles ahead of supermarkets – though what’s to stop them doing the same? Maybe your washing machine will be festooned with buttons offering lights showing which is cheaper at any time (excluding P&P, of course).


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