Start up: spotting comment trolls, stopping piracy Of Thrones, where’s Android One?, and more


Try putting those on Bittorrent, suckahs. Photo by Jemimus on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Scientists develop algorithm that can auto-ban internet trolls » The Stack

Martin Anderson:

The study found that on CNN the studied trolls were more likely to initiate new posts or sub-threads, whilst at Breitbart and IGN they were more likely to weigh into existing threads.

The report does not exonerate host communities of all blame for troll behaviour, finding that immediately intolerant communities are more likely to foster trolls:

“[communities] may play a part in incubating antisocial behavior. In fact, users who are excessively censored early in their lives are more likely to exhibit antisocial behavior later on. Furthermore, while communities appear initially forgiving (and are relatively slow to ban these antisocial users), they become less tolerant of such users the longer they remain in a community. This results in an increased rate at which their posts are deleted, even after controlling for post quality.”

Seems mostly accurate, apart from calling breitbart.com a “political hub”. I’d go for “troll-employing troll magnet”, personally.


Game Of Thrones leak and watermark: a stupid tracking system » bru’s blog

The first four episodes of game of thrones leaked nearly 36 hours ago. They have been extensively downloaded, and the only tracking set up HBO seemed to be a watermark in the bottom left corner of the screen. Once blurred, it is useless. This impresses me. It’s 2015 and all you’re using is a “confirm you’re deleted” + “your copy is watermarked” for protection? There are simple schemes that would have allowed HBO to track the leak.

The idea is very simple: make each copy unique in a non-visible way.

Seems like the editing to create unique copies would be a hassle. Not sending them out (by getting people to come in to previews?) might be simpler. But there would be geographic reasons against that. No matter what, though, it only delays the piracy by 36 hours or so. That’s the bigger problem.


BOMBSHELL: MUSL employee might have rigged Hot Lotto computerized drawing » Lottery Post

Prosecutors countered this motion by claiming they have a “prima facie,” or at first glance, case that Tipton tampered with lottery equipment.

In their reply to the defense’s motion, prosecutors argued that Tipton’s co-workers said he “was ‘obsessed’ with root kits, a type of computer program that can be installed quickly, set to do just about anything, and then self-destruct without a trace.” The prosecution claimed a witness will testify that Tipton told him before December 2010 that he had a self-destructing root kit.

Prosecutors also argued in their reply that Tipton was in the draw room on Nov. 20, 2010, “ostensibly to change the time on the computers.” The prosecution alleged the cameras in the room on that date recorded about one second per minute instead of how they normally operate, recording every second a person is in the room.

“Four of the five individuals who have access to control the camera’s settings will testify they did not change the cameras’ recording instructions; the fifth person is Defendant,” the prosecution wrote.

Someone’s writing the screenplay already, yes? The accused bought a ticket that won $14.3m.


What’s Become of Android One? » CCS Insight

Peter Bryer is an analyst:

our checks indicate that Android One has had a limited direct effect on the market, despite initial enthusiasm for the programme. Sales of Android One-based smartphones began more than half a year ago in India, but volumes don’t stand out.

The first Android One products came from Karbonn, Micromax and Spice, with more familiar brands expected to begin adopting the platform. Acer, Asus, HTC, Lenovo and Panasonic were among the smartphone manufacturers listed by Google as partners in the project, but this interest appears to have stalled.

The fading momentum of Android One is an indication of the expanding selection of equally well-specified, low-cost smartphones and tablets in emerging markets. Hundreds of models are available at $100 or below — a once impossible price band has become very ordinary.

The standard having been set, others have matched it. All works for Google. But see later…


Flipkart’s move to dump mobile site could hit Google » WSJ

Rolfe Winkler:

Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart has decided it doesn’t need to rely on the Web to lure shoppers, dumping its mobile site and pushing visitors to its app. That move may spell trouble for the future of Google ‘s cash-cow search engine, which relies heavily on links to shopping sites.

Smartphone users that go to the mobile websites of either Flipkart or its sister site Myntra no longer see the same virtual store shelves as when they visit those sites from a personal computer. Instead they see a message to download the sites’ mobile apps.

The problem for Google is that a large percentage of its ad business is driven by paid links that direct users to e-commerce sites. But mobile apps are walled gardens unto themselves, unconnected by links to the broader Web.

A general problem, but if it starts happening early in countries like India, that is a problem for Google.


Brazil’s iPhone investment falls short on promises of jobs, lower prices » Reuters

Brad Haynes:

The Brazilian iPhone was meant to mark a new era.

When Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group agreed in April 2011 to make Apple products here, President Dilma Rousseff and her advisers promised that up to $12 billion in investments over six years would transform the Brazilian technology sector, putting it on the cutting edge of touch screen development. A new supply chain would be created, generating high-quality jobs and bringing down prices of the coveted gadgets.

Four years later, none of that has come true.

Foxconn has created only a small fraction of the 100,000 jobs that the government projected, and most of the work is in low-skill assembly. There is little sign that it has catalyzed Brazil’s technology sector or created much of a local supply chain.

Not quite clear where the blame lies – high expectation by Foxconn, local taxes or local culture.


Formal charges may be next in Europe’s Google antitrust inquiry » NYTimes.com

James Kanter and Conor Dougherty:

Some experts say that Mr. Almunia’s unsuccessful strategy makes further attempts to settle the case without formal charges unlikely.

“Given the history of failed attempts to reach a commitment decision, I just don’t see what she would gain from going down this route again, unless Google has promised more concessions that we don’t know about,” said Liza Lovdahl-Gormsen, the director of the Competition Law Forum at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.

Without formal charges, Ms. Lovdahl-Gormsen said, “Google might try to buy themselves time by offering commitments that are unlikely to be accepted by the commission, and that it knows won’t be accepted by the market, simply because it does not want to be faced with the instrument of torture — the statement of objections.”

Expect news on Wednesday.


My voice is my passport: Android gets a “Trusted Voice” smart lock » Ars Technica

How secure is this system? We’re wondering the same thing. The popup when you enable “Trusted Voice” warns that the feature is not as secure as a traditional lock screen and that “Someone with a similar voice or a recording of your voice could unlock your device.” We’d love to test it out, but it hasn’t rolled out to any of our devices yet—we only know about it thanks to a report from Android Police.

Android Police hasn’t given it any scrutiny (none of its devices – even Nexuses – seem to have got it.) The commenters on AP don’t seem enamoured, though, pointing out how easy it would be to spoof (as Google itself admits). So there’s now pattern, PIN, face and voice unlock, and also “trusted device” (Android Wear). Flexibility is good, but they aren’t all equally robust, which feels like a problem.


2 thoughts on “Start up: spotting comment trolls, stopping piracy Of Thrones, where’s Android One?, and more

  1. Easiest way to track GoT episodes would be for the creators to pick a single frame and hide a QR style code in there somwhere. Alternatively, pick a single pixel (or section of pixels) in a series of frames and hide a binary number on it (change the color slightly for 1, normal color for 0).

    Both techniques can be automated and canot be found by reviewers without insane amounts of post processing effort and many different copies of each episode.

    • Yes, many different tweaks could be (relatively) easily automated. My favorite would be having transitions between scenes stretched or accelerated a frame. Still have the issue of unique distributions, tho.

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