Start up: SXSW’s silencing problem, the Strava bicycle thief, Apple claims Android switchers, Google gets chippy, and more

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

Vox Media and The Verge will not attend SXSW unless it takes harassment seriously » The Verge

After the organizers of the SXSW conference canceled an anti-harassment panel due to alleged Gamergate-related “threats of violence,” Vox Media is reevaluating its participation in the SXSW conference. Vox, the parent company of The Verge, says it will not be participating in this year’s conference unless changes are made.

This is quickly going to turn into a big problem for SXSW (which made a stupid decision in the first place) unless it reinstates the panels; you can see more organisations making the same stand, until not withdrawing comes to look like supporting Gamergate’s lunatic fringe (which is basically all of it).
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The superconductor that works at earth temperature » MIT Technology Review

The world of superconductivity is in uproar. Last year, Mikhail Eremets and a couple of pals from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, made the extraordinary claim that they had seen hydrogen sulphide superconducting at -70 °C. That’s some 20 degrees hotter than any other material—a huge increase over the current record.

Followers of this blog will have read about this work last December, when it was first posted to the arXiv. At the time, physicists were cautious about the work. The history of superconductivity is littered with dubious claims of high-temperature activity that later turn out to be impossible to reproduce.

But in the months since then, Eremets and co have worked hard to conjure up the final pieces of conclusive evidence. A few weeks ago, their paper was finally published in the peer reviewed journal Nature, giving it the rubber stamp of respectability that mainstream physics requires. Suddenly, superconductivity is back in the headlines.

It’s not going to be in use in a hurry – it requires gigantic pressures to form the material – but it’s significant because liquid nitrogen, which is cheap and plentiful, has a temperature of -96C.
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Douglas Adams live on stage with Pink Floyd » YouTube

For Douglas Adams’s 42nd birthday his friend David Gilmour gave him the opportunity to join Pink Floyd on stage during their 1994 tour live at Earls Court in London. Douglas played rhythm guitar on the tracks Eclipse and Brain Damage. While it was always known by Douglas’ family that the concert had been filmed by someone in the audience, the tape of the event could never be found. That is, until now.

That’s 21 years ago today! Adams wasn’t some random person; he was very accomplished and had a huge guitar collection. If you still think “oh, it’s only playing a guitar on a stage” – ask yourself how you’d fare playing football as one of Chelsea, Arsenal, etc. And they have 10 other players, unlike a band.
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Google is leading a ‘chip development effort’ that could turn the heat up on Apple » Business Insider

Alexei Oreskovic and Jillian D’Onfro:

new job listing shows Google is seeking a “multimedia chip architect” who can “lead a chip development effort” and “work with other engineers to take chip to product shipment.”

The phrasing of the job posting suggests Google is about to get a lot more serious about designing, and perhaps even building, its own chips, following in Apple’s footsteps.

The job posting comes from the company’s Pixel team, which recently announced its high-end productivity tablet, the Pixel C, a person close to the matter tells Business Insider.

Apple bought an entire chip design company. Google’s hiring a couple of people?
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Thieves use Strava and other sites to find homes with expensive bikes » Sticky Bottle

Police forces are warning cyclists who use ride-sharing sites and apps – such as Strava – that thieves are now searching them to identify houses with expensive bikes to rob.

Ireland is in the middle of what can only be described as a bike-theft epidemic; with the rate of bikes being stolen now higher than ever and increasing faster than any other crime type.

Most of the bikes being stolen are taken from the streets; after their owners have ridden into urban areas and locked them up.

The Garda [Irish police force] has reacted by conducting a number of specialist policing operations, but they have only just begun and their success or otherwise is still unclear.

Aside from on-street thefts, there have been countless cases of cyclists with expensive racing and training bikes being targeted in their homes.

Location-awareness considered harmful.
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Siri’s next trick needs to be multitasking » number23

Philip McDermott on how Siri’s “modal” – interrupt-everything-stop-for-this – interaction model needs to evolve:

Imagine this: you are browsing recipes in Safari and want to save one to your recipes collection. Right now, you can say: “Hey Siri, add this to my recipes note” and the link will be appended to the end of your note entitled Recipes. While this is, let’s be honest, pretty impressive, why stop there? Why should you not carry on scrolling through the website while you carry out this task? You can multitask, your touch-input methods can multitask: why not your voice input?

Another example: you’re writing in a text editor on your iPad, and you remember something for later: “Hey Siri, remind me to take the recycling out when I leave the house later”. But why stop the flow of writing while Siri listens and acts?

Why indeed? Especially as Siri is always listening.
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Google Brings Podcasting to Play Music Streaming Service, Android » Re/code

Mark Bergen:

The Alphabet company is getting ready to open a dedicated home for podcasts on its Google Play hub. Today the company is letting podcast creators upload shows to Google Play Music, its streaming service; it says listeners will be able to listen to those shows “in the coming months.” It will be, remarkably, the first native app for podcast listening on Android in the content market where Apple carries disproportionate weight.

But Google isn’t just trying to create more Serial fanatics on Android. No, it wants to reach people that have never listened to podcasts. And it wants to broaden its media offerings in the fight with Apple, the frequent go-to platform for media producers.

In so doing, Google plans to use radio shows to bolster its plan to deliver media tailored for the listener’s interests, activities, even moods. That directive is evident in the product’s lead: Elias Roman, co-founder of the streaming service Songza, whose main schtick was building these contextual playlists before Google acquired it last year.

There isn’t (wasn’t) a native podcast app on Android; how will this affect third-party makers of podcast apps? Is Google getting into that space, or leaving it to them?
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Making sense of Dell + EMC + VMware » Business Insider

Jamie McGurk, Stephen McDermid, Vishal Amin, Irvin Chan from Andreessen Horowitz explain how “the python can swallow the cow”:

The ultimate question is — will it work? Are all these financial acrobatics going to deliver on the promise of the Dell-EMC deal as the two companies walk a high-altitude tightrope?

We’re not sure what else companies on the backside of their growth curves can do when competing with more nimble competitors, other than to consolidate, split, or restructure. We have players like IBM and Microsoft aggressively acquiring new companies to make a shift to new platforms as their core businesses decline; HP and others bifurcating themselves into more focused, slimmer, and presumably more agile players with streamlined operations so they can better address secular platform shifts; and now, we have Dell + EMC (+ VMware) consolidating their businesses to stay competitive in a rapidly changing world.

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Apple earnings lifted by iPhone sales in China » WSJ

Daisuke Wakabayashi:

[Tim] Cook said many iPhone consumers still haven’t upgraded to the larger-screen iPhone. He says about two-thirds of iPhone’s customer base before the first batch of larger iPhones were introduced in 2014 haven’t upgraded to newer models.

At the same time, Apple said it is winning over customers from rivals. Mr. Cook said 30% of consumers who bought an iPhone replaced a smartphone running Google Inc.’s Android operating system during the quarter. He said this is the highest rate of Android “switchers” that Apple has ever measured.

Apple said it sold 48.04m iPhones in the July-September quarter, compared to 39.27m units a year earlier; that’s 22% growth at a time when the smartphone market growth has been slower. That 30% figure is remarkably high: it suggests 14m switchers from Android. Perhaps those are buyers in China. It doesn’t make sense for the 30% to be “buyers new to iPhone”, because that suggests 70% from Windows Phone, BlackBerry and featurephones. (Might be, but seems to stretch it.)
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