Start up: Euler programs, adblocking wars redux, Android M’s security measure,


At last: HTML5 iPlayer on the desktop. Only a beta for now.. Photo by Julie70 on Flickr.

You can now sign up to receive each day’s Start Up post by email. You’ll need to click a confirmation link, so no spam.

A selection of 9 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

(No, there aren’t any links about the new Google offerings – two phones and a tablet – because I couldn’t find any useful analysis of them beyond “they’re phones” and “it’s a tablet with a keyboard”. If you do want to know about them, try “The nine most important things from Google’s Nexus event” from The Verge.)

About » Project Euler

What is Project Euler?
Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems.

The motivation for starting Project Euler, and its continuation, is to provide a platform for the inquiring mind to delve into unfamiliar areas and learn new concepts in a fun and recreational context.

Who are the problems aimed at?
The intended audience include students for whom the basic curriculum is not feeding their hunger to learn, adults whose background was not primarily mathematics but had an interest in things mathematical, and professionals who want to keep their problem solving and mathematics on the cutting edge.

The first problem should feel pretty easy if you’ve done any programming. If not, give yourself a little time to solve it. (A different sort of programmer hacked its database in August.) They’re presently up to problem 527; No.528 is up on October 3.
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IAB enters publicity, engineering war against ad blockers – Special: Advertising Week 2015 » Advertising Age

Nat Ives:

The IAB has come up with code, for example, that it said will help small publishers detect consumers who show up with ad blocking activated. “We believe this script will actually help enable them in their fight just by enabling their ability to detect,” said Scott Cunningham, senior VP at IAB and general manager of the IAB Tech Lab, at a press conference during the annual IAB Mixx conference, which coincides with Advertising Week.
Related Stories

Some publishers that see ad-blocking visitors arrive greet them with dialogue boxes encouraging a change of heart or, failing that, perhaps becoming paid subscribers. But the open architecture of many web pages has allowed ad blockers to hide even those dialogue boxes, Mr. Cunningham said. The IAB is recommending that publishers switch to more secure protocols to prevent that.

Going to war with people because they’re not your customers isn’t the way to persuade them to become your customers.
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Medium: PR Newswire revisited » Business Insider

Biz Carson:

“With this [$57m funding] round we aim to make Medium the dominant pipeline for connecting quality content and conversation,” Andy Doyle wrote. “We don’t focus on page views, unique visitors, or click metrics. We don’t litter the platform with ads that are low-quality, high-clutter.”

That part is true. There are no ugly ads that flash advertising before crashing your browser.

Instead, everyone from San Francisco’s local supervisors to the White House are publishing articles, essays, and press releases, surrounded by the same swaths of white and clean fonts. The bylines are tucked away in the top left corner.

Companies may call this “content.” A lot of it looks like advertising.

And let’s face it: Medium has become a dumping ground for a different generation’s press releases.

Seems harsh, but Carson has a point. Then again, that makes Medium a pretty good “native advertising” supplier; there’s lots of other non-advertising, desirable, readable content in there. I keep finding links to it.
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New HTML5 Player beta trial for BBC iPlayer » BBC Internet Blog

James East, product manager for media playout:

Although we’ve been using HTML5 to deliver video to iOS devices for some time, until recently we felt that the consistent experience and efficient media delivery offered by Flash outweighed the benefit of moving to HTML5 on the desktop. However, we’ve been regularly evaluating the features offered by the most popular web browsers and we’re now confident we can achieve the playback quality you’d expect from the BBC without using a third-party plugin.

To opt in, visit our HTML5 Player beta page. This will allow you to set a cookie in your browser so you can access our HTML5 player on BBC iPlayer. If you clear your cookies or switch browsers, you’ll have to return to this page to re-enter the trial. You can also visit this page if you want to opt out and return to our non-beta player.

At last. Alternatively, do what I do: uninstall Flash and invoke the “developer” option in Safari (Preferences » Advanced » “Show Develop menu in menu bar”), and when you visit the BBC and it wants Flash to play a video, change the user-agent to “iPad”. (Via Stef Pause.)
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Android Marshmallow’s best security measure is a simple date » The Verge

Russell Brandom:

Android security has always faced a daunting challenge — scrambling to get users, manufacturers, and carriers in sync — but the new Marshmallow operating system has a small feature that could make a big difference in that fight. You’ll find it in the Settings menu, a header titled “Android security patch level,” followed by a date. As of that day, your device is protected with all known Android patches.

Championed by Adrian Ludwig, Google’s head of Android security, the date represents a public bet on the industry’s ability to keep Android devices updated. “It should make it really simple for users to understand the state of the device,” Ludwig says, as part of Android’s larger push toward “making sure that security information and patch level information is available to users.”

That’s going to be a good one to watch.
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You can now turn off ads on Techdirt » Techdirt

Mike Masnick:

We’ve even been approached by multiple companies who claim to offer a form of ad blocker blocker, that will either insert new ads even when users have ad blockers, or otherwise pester users with ad blockers turned on.

This seems like the exact wrong approach. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the way the RIAA and MPAA reacted to the internet challenging their business models. Rather than listen, recognize what the public wanted and adapt, they whined, screamed about ethics and went to court. And how’s that worked out for everyone? We’ve always said that those who adapt to these challenges are likely to do better, and part of that means actually listening to your fans and helping them do what they want. So that’s what we’re doing: if you choose to disable ads, you just need to go to your preferences and click a button and that should do it.

Such a smart move. Masnick has built a strong community at Techdirt, and so offering this – while pointing out gently that it costs money to run the site, and there are ways to donate – is a terrific way forward.
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The dark, scammy history of JustFab and Fabletics » BuzzFeed News

Sapna Maheshwari:

while JustFab has revenue streams befitting a unicorn, its predecessor companies were less ethereal beasts. For more than a decade, starting at MySpace’s parent company, [Adam] Goldenberg and [Don] Ressler’s customers have frequently complained of getting tricked into recurring credit card charges and fooled by deceptive advertising and misleading promises — promises the FTC said sounded “like magic pixie dust” in a warning to consumers regarding the diet product Sensa. It made more than $300 million in sales before the federal regulator intervened.

The ugly hallmarks of those past enterprises live on in JustFab: The company and its affiliates, for all their happy customers, have often been accused of deceiving shoppers who think they’re making a single purchase into signing up for a subscription that automatically charges them each month unless they opt out within a five-day window. The sites use terms like “VIP Membership” instead of “subscription,” and JustFab and Fabletics in particular downplay the options for avoiding charges each month; cancellations require lengthy phone calls.

Ugh. Inertia marketing – such a horrible, scummy business model, and doomed to failure once customers get wise. The only question is how long that will take.
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Axel Springer buys Business Insider » Re/code

Peter Kafka:

The deal values Business Insider at $442m — we had previously told you it would peg the site’s value at $560m — but Springer already owned 9% of the company, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who had previously put his own money into the company, will leave it in there. When factoring out the cash still on the books, the value comes down to $390 million. Springer will end up writing a check for $343m when the deal closes; it says Business Insider has 76 million readers and 325 employees worldwide.

However you count it, the deal sets a new mark for native digital publisher sales, previously held by the Huffington Post, which AOL acquired for $315m in 2011. While several big digital publishers have taken on financing that values their companies above Business Insider’s sale price, none of them have actually sold at those levels yet.

That’s a big vote of confidence in people carrying on reading content online. 76 million readers is substantial.
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Marissa Mayer’s take on ad blocking: ‘It hurts the Web experience’ » Digiday

Ricardo Bilton:

The Yahoo CEO told an Advertising Week audience that ads, particularly those tied to people’s interest and browsing history, actually improve the experience of using the Web rather than hurt it.

“I think that for anyone that uses their browser’s incognito mode and starts getting untargeted ads or no ads at all, the experience on the Web becomes a lot less rich. I personally think it’s a mistake to install ad blockers,” she said at an IAB event during Advertising Week in New York City on Monday. “If I have friends or family members asking if they should install them, I tell them ‘please don’t because I think that your experience on the Web will get worse’.”

As Bilton then points out, Yahoo was responsible for serving malware to millions of people through its ads for nearly a week in August. Those using adblockers will have been fine.

But, you know, tell people what they want to hear.
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