Start up: more PC decline, apps for 2016, the OLED iPhone delay, cars that snitch, and more


Discover the epidemiology of the people who support him. Photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com, on Flickr

A selection of 11 links for you. See how they shine! I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

2013: Back to where they came from » number23

Nigel McDermott, writing in December 2013:

The iPhone spawned the iPad which spawned numerous other tablets, and we now live in a world where an iPad will do 90% of the tasks 90% of home PC users. This is not to say that the PC is dead. Far from it. The PC is the best tool for many, many tasks, but the majority of those tasks are associated with work, not leisure. The PC is the ideal tool to be used in many workplaces for years to come. And yes, I’m talking about Windows PCs with mouse and keyboard input: this paradigm is actually fantastic for many productivity tasks, that are just horrendous when carried out on touch screens or machines held in one hand. Even the ecosystem that has grown up with them, the enterprise market, is in many ways a mature and solid setup, that like the sub-optimal “design” of the mammalian eyeball, is actually quite fit-for-purpose.

The thing is about the PC: we just don’t need one at home anymore. Consoles and set top boxes provide us with amazing gaming and entertainment. Tablets and smartphones provide us with much better ways to consume news, knowledge and information, and to communicate and remotely socialise. These devices all do what they were designed to do where for years the poor PC had to limp along, doing it’s best. It’s time to give it a break.

I’m not calling time on the PC: I’m just saying it’s time for the PC to go back to the office.

Now read on…
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Worldwide PC shipments will continue to decline into 2016 as the short-term outlook softens » IDC

“Despite the substantial shift in spending and usage models from PCs toward tablets and phones in recent years, very few people are giving up on their PC – they are just making it last longer,” said Loren Loverde , Vice President, Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research. “The free upgrade to Windows 10 enables some users to postpone an upgrade a little, but not indefinitely. Some consumers will use a free OS upgrade to delay a new PC purchase and test the transition to Windows 10. However, the experience of those customers may serve to highlight what they are missing by stretching the life of an older PC, and we expect they will ultimately purchase a new device. As detachable systems become more compelling (including attractive new Wintel designs), some volume will go to detachable tablets rather than traditional PC form factors, which will cut into the PC growth rate, but still supports the PC vendors and ecosystem.”

While detachable tablets are expected to grow quickly, they are still a relatively small part of the market. As a reference, combining detachable tablets with PCs would boost growth by roughly 3 percentage points – this would result in a trend of declining volume from 2012 to 2015, followed by about 1% growth in 2016 and slightly higher gains in subsequent years.

The balance is shifting toward commercial buyers again. But the forecast is for a 10% drop compared to 2014, to about 277m shipped (excluding Surface Pro and similar).
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Google will show live orchestra, opera, and theater performances in 360 degrees » The Verge

Now you can watch your next opera from the comfort of your couch. The Google Cultural Institute today announced that it is partnering with 60 global performing arts institutes to bring live, 360-degree performances to desktop and mobile users worldwide. Partners include the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK, and the initiative should help make the arts available to those who would otherwise never have the opportunity to see such great work.

It’s not quite VR, but it’s like a stepping stone towards it.
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Dailymotion hit by malvertising attack as perpetrators ‘up their game’ » The Register

John Leyden:

Malicious adverts spreading malware managed to make their way onto popular French video streaming site Dailymotion. The infection involved a rogue ad and JavaScript that ultimately directs surfers to sites harbouring the Angler Exploit Kit (EK).

The practical upshot was that Windows users running out-of-date software, such as older versions of Adobe Flash, would be infected with either the Bedep trojan or ad fraud malware, or maybe both.

The attack was spotted by security software firm Malwarebytes, which reports that the bogus advertiser behind the attack took great pains to disguise its origin and purpose.

So familiar now, it’s like hacking of sites. (Thanks “Arthur Arkwright” in comments on an article here.)
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Top app predictions of 2016: from tvOS and Google Now on Tap, apps are eating the web » App Annie Blog

Every company that has an app is a publisher and apps are the new normal to deliver content, entertainment, utility, productivity, commerce, transportation, etc. 2016 promises to be another exciting year of developments and launches.  Our analysts predict the top 10 app trends to watch for in 2016:

• Google Now on Tap: Deep linking and contextual discovery to ease app discovery
• eSports: Set to become an emerging revenue stream for game publishers
• Messaging: Cultural factors to maintain messaging divide between the East and the West
• Online-to-Offline (O2O) Services: Asia primed for a wave of consolidation because of challenging unit economics
• Productivity Apps: New input methods to spur app innovation
• Financial Services: Retail banks face “death by a thousand cuts”
• tvOS: Set to unlock the smartphone as a powerful second screen device
• YouTube Red: Catalyst for indie long-form content
• Wearables: Watch for vertical-specific and enterprise use cases
• Augmented And Virtual Reality (AR/VR): Major content players to spur initial adoption, but still more hype in 2016

There’s a report you can download too.
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Apple’s long, winding road to OLED and what it says about the next four iPhones » Forbes

Mark Rogowsky:

Back in 2013, when CEO Tim Cook was trash talking OLED, essentially the only supplier worldwide was Samsung. At the time, Apple and Samsung were in a blood feud over patents and even if the two companies weren’t at odds, the Korean giant lacked the production capacity to supply even the then smaller iPhone market. With the iPhone 6 due in 2014, there was simply no way Apple could offer OLED with just one realistic volume supplier — and one it didn’t much care for.

The massive success of that model, though, had the ironic effect of ensuring there’d be no OLED in the iPhone 7, what we’re calling the model due in the autumn of 2016. In the time since 2013, LG has emerged as an important OLED supplier, both in televisions and smartphones but not at iPhone-like volumes. To supply the iPhone 7 with OLED screens, Apple would need to know that somehow more than 50 million could be ready by the upcoming spring — just a few short months from now. They’d need at least that many more before the year was over. While Apple might have been ready to switch to OLED, which has now surpassed the quality of its still-excellent LCD screens, it couldn’t until the supply chain caught up.

Rogowsky explains really well why the gigantic supply chain Apple relies on simply can’t move quickly enough to just put OLED in right away. Which ought to be a problem for Apple – yet it managed to ride out not having larger screens for at least one year, and arguably two.
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Apple fixes iPhone battery life – at a price » One Man & His Blog

Adam Tinworth:

The battery case, which charges with the phone, claims to over double double the talk and data life of the device – which mobile journalists who work in the field regularly will recognise as a huge boon:

Charge your iPhone and battery case simultaneously for increased talk time up to 25 hours, Internet use up to 18 hours on LTE, and even longer audio and video playback.* With the Smart Battery Case on, the intelligent battery status is displayed on the iPhone Lock screen and in Notification Centre, so you know exactly how much charge you have left.

Of course, it would be nice if the phone itself lasted longer, but this isn’t a bad solution for £79. It’s certainly more practical than the external battery bank I’ve been using up until now.

Twitter said OMG FUGLY – and it’s certainly not an aesthetic marvel (but battery packs tend not to be). I doubt Apple cares; this is meant for people who just want more battery life. (Though if it came in colours, it would sell even more.)

Entertainingly, Apple doesn’t specify the power capacity of the case.
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Car turns driver in for hit-and-run » WPBF Home

Becky Sawtelle:

Police responded to a hit-and-run in the 500 block of Northwest Prima Vista Boulevard on Monday afternoon. The victim, Anna Preston, said she was struck from behind by a black vehicle that took off. Preston was taken to the hospital with back injuries.

Around the same time, police dispatch got an automated call from a vehicle emergency system stating the owner of a Ford vehicle was involved in a crash and to press zero to speak with the occupants of the vehicle.

The person in the vehicle, Cathy Bernstein, told dispatch there had been no accident, that someone pulled out in front of her and that she was going home. She said she had not been drinking and didn’t know why her vehicle had called for help.

Police went to Bernsteins’s home on Northwest Foxworth Avenue and saw that her vehicle had extensive front-end damage and silver paint from Preston’s vehicle on it. Bernstein’s airbag had also been deployed.

Oh, but that isn’t even the best of it. Read the rest. So, will self-driving cars use automatic numberplate readers to tell on vehicles that hit them? Add in dashboard cams, and that should be the end of disputes over crashes.. shouldn’t it?
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The smartphone is eating the TV, Nielsen says » Fortune

Mathew Ingram:

Nielsen calls its report the Comparable Metrics report, because it’s the first time the measurement company has tried to combine equivalent ratings for usage of traditional TV and radio with the use of streaming services like Netflix, mobile devices, and web services like YouTube.

The company also takes pains to point out (PDF) that many comparisons of video viewing online through services like YouTube or Facebook confuse the measurement of actual audiences — in the sense of people watching a video for multiple minutes at a time over an hour or more—with the measurement of transitory viewers who are only present for a few seconds or more.

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Why do Donald Trump and others get away with lying? » CNN.com

A number of writers were asked about this, and Douglas Rushkoff’s answer resonates:

no matter how fact-filled the Internet gets, without context there’s no way to really evaluate any of these supposed truths. A purported fact will spread more for its ability to inflame than its relation to the truth. On the Internet, information streams can be isolated, almost meaninglessly decontextualized triggers — or, worse, as elements in a feed algorithmically configured by a social media platform to keep users clicking and spreading.

Where news organizations may be trying to assemble a version of truth for their readers, social media platforms care only about views, clicks, favorites and retweets. And in such an environment, the most inflammatory triggers – the most outlandish claims to truth – easily surpass the boring old truths we need to address. A video of a decapitation gets more play than the exodus of a million desperate refugees. The unfounded accusation that Jersey City Muslims cheered the collapse of the World Trade Center spreads further than the real fear Muslims have of an America increasingly hostile to their existence here.

That’s because without anyone else to contextualize these claims, we fit all these loose facts into our personal, almost dreamlike mythology for how the world works. It’s a disorganized, impulsive and unconscious set of connections we draw – and the perfect palette for those depending on the darker side of human nature for traction and their personal gain.

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Who is the average Donald Trump supporter? » Medium

Rob Leathern, who has lots of experience in using data for ad targeting, used Facebook’s Audience Insights tool to figure out the detail. (Obvious underlying assumptions: that Facebook is representative of the US population, and Trump supporters, and that these are the right queries to use.)

Here are some selected characteristics of the 10–15 million people that Facebook identifies as fans of Donald Trump, or his campaign. I compare the incidence of each row with the overall incidence across the entire US Facebook population and show a red negative score if Trump fans are underrepresented in that population, or a green positive score if Trump fans tend to overindex for that characteristic. Take a look below:

There’s much, much more; it’s a strange rabbit hole. But the broader idea – using Facebook Audience Insights to analyse presidential candidates’ support – is very clever. (You can do the same for technology devices, of course.)
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified.

Start up: Dropbox dumps Mailbox, what mobile adblocking?, life after viral fame, and more


Ridge Racer: maybe blame it for all that waiting around for games to load. Photo by Peter π on Flickr.

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A selection of 10 links for you. They really are. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Dropbox is shutting down its Mailbox and Carousel apps » The Verge

Chris Welch:

Dropbox is doing away with Mailbox, the email app it acquired in March 2013, and Carousel, the company’s attempt at a standalone photo management app. The company says that it’s making this decision now to focus more directly on the primary Dropbox app and the collaborative features it’s known for. “The Carousel and Mailbox teams have built products that are loved by many people and their work will continue to have an impact,” wrote Dropbox’s founder/CEO Drew Houston and CTO Arash Ferdowsi in a blog post. “We’ll be taking key features from Carousel back to the place where your photos live — in the Dropbox app. We’ll also be using what we’ve learned from Mailbox to build new ways to communicate and collaborate on Dropbox.”

The Verge’s usual incisive reporting which simply repeats available facts, and doesn’t try to widen the discussion, or bring in expert views, or put it into context. So I’ll try: Mailbox shutting suggests it’s either a bust (not enough users), or a money-loser – same thing, really, and Dropbox needs to focus on how it is going to stop just being a feature that any OS offers for free (Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud Drive) because if that’s the case, it hasn’t got a business in the long term.
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The ‘Loading Screen Game Patent’ finally expires » Electronic Frontier Foundation

Elliot Harmon:

The first Sony PlayStation was introduced in 1994. Its graphical capabilities blew predecessors like the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo out of the water, but it had one big disadvantage. It replaced the game cartridges of the previous generation with CD-ROMs. When you booted up a PlayStation game, you had to wait for the console to load game data from the disc into its own memory. And that. Took. For. Ever. Watching a loading screen was boring, especially when you were used to the instant gratification of cartridge games.

Namco’s Ridge Racer addressed the problem by including a second game, the 80s classic Galaxian. It took no time at all for a PlayStation to load Galaxian. Suddenly, the player wasn’t thinking about how boring it was to wait for a game to load; she could have fun playing Galaxian while the console took its time loading Ridge Racer. If she beat Galaxian before Ridge Racer was done loading, she’d be rewarded in Ridge Racer with access to some in-game bonuses.

What’s the big deal? Namco thought of loading screen games first, so they earned the patent, right? Well, let’s look at how U.S. law defines a patentable invention.

According to the law, a person isn’t entitled to a patent if the claimed invention already existed when the application was filed or would have been obvious to someone skilled in the relevant technology area. The idea of playing a small game while the larger one loads has been around for a very long time. In 1987, many years before Namco filed its patent application, Richard Aplin created Invade-a-Load, a utility for developers who wrote games for the Commodore 64 computer.

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X marks the spot that makes online ads so maddening » The New York Times

Sydney Ember:

Annoying ads have become problematic for Anthony Martin, a 32-year-old consultant for a project management firm who sat in Bryant Park on a recent Monday afternoon, iPhone 6 in hand. He had moved to New York not long ago, he said, and was using a smartphone app to determine the best subway routes. But as soon as the app loads, ads take over his screen — first a banner ad on the bottom, then a full-screen ad. No amount of desperate jabbing does the trick.

“Sometimes I miss a stop,” he said. “Especially with fat fingers.”

Industry executives say it is quite likely that publishers and mobile developers are deliberately building ads that are hard to escape or shut down.

“The ones that are incredibly invasive are designed to be that way,” said Brian Gleason, the global chief executive of Xaxis, a media and technology company owned by the advertising giant WPP.

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The mobile adblocking apocalypse hasn’t arrived (at least not yet) » Nieman Journalism Lab

Madeline Welsh, Joseph Lichterman and Shan Wang:

Even sites with unusually high desktop blocking rates — think German sites, or technology sites — aren’t seeing huge numbers on mobile. About a quarter of all Internet users in Germany use an adblocker, but the percentage is even higher for some sites like Golem, a German-language tech site that’s seen an outright majority of its users blocking.

“As far as I can remember, it’s always been an issue for us,” said the site’s editor-in-chief, Benjamin Sterbenz. “As soon as adblock software was available, our readers installed the software and experimented with it. I’m sure that a lot of our readers also contributed to the development of adblocking software.”

But compared to adblocking on desktop, Golem readers using adblocking technology on mobile is in the single digits. Though it saw a little bump in September with the release of iOS 9, it’s otherwise remained constant, which Sterbenz said surprised him.

At Ars Technica, the Condè Nast-owned tech site, about 6% of mobile users block ads, “which is just a bit higher than what it was previously,” Ken Fisher, the site’s founder and editor-in-chief said in an email. On desktop, about 30% of users block ads, he said.

Odd, in light of the preceding.
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Virtual reality studio Baobab raises 6 million to be Pixar of VR – Business Insider

Jillian D’Onfro:

After leaving Zynga, [CEO of startup Baobab, Maureen] Fan spent the next year using her free time to learn as much as possible about virtual reality. She finally left her job in March to cofound Baobab Studios with Eric Darnell, who directed DreamWorks movies “Antz” and the “Madagascar” franchise.  

With big ambitions, the duo started attracting top talent from the likes of Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Twitch. The team’s combo of hardcore technologists working with top-tier storytellers convinced investors to put $6 million behind the studio’s cause last week. The Series A round came in part from million from HTC and Samsung Ventures, both of which have their own virtual reality devices, the Vive and Gear VR. 

Fan tells Business Insider that the studio plans to release its first short films made specifically for virtual reality early next year.

“We’re inventing a new cinematic language,” she says. For example, she explains, in VR you can’t cut-away from the action — the whole story has to flow together without switching perspectives — and need to find ways to guide the viewer to look where you want them to, since it will be possible to look around at a whole virtual world. 

VR is going to get really interesting in the next couple of years, and the content producers v content platforms issue is going to be highlighted again.
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Tencent blocks Uber on WeChat, so what ‘fair play’ can we expect in China? » South China Morning Post

George Chen:

Global car-hailing app Uber and its local rival in China, Didi Kuaidi, are de facto in a business war, after Tencent, a key investor of Didi, decided to remove Uber from one of the most powerful online marketing platforms in the world’s No 1 internet market.

What’s the key takeaway of the story here for other foreign businesses if they are considering doing or expanding business in China? It’s getting more difficult to make money in China, especially when you have to compete with local monopoly players.

The news that all Uber’s WeChat accounts had been removed by Tencent, the parent and owner of WeChat, China’s most popular real-time messaging app, where many businesses have set up accounts to promote products and services and engage with customers, shocked the technology world over the weekend. Tencent said it blocked Uber on WeChat, affecting Uber’s online services in at least 16 Chinese cities, because of “malicious marketing”, something Uber denied.

The power of the default messaging platform.
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10 viral sensations on life after internet fame » NY Mag

Clint Rainey:

Internet fame comes on like an earthquake, with little warning. In a matter of hours, a video can go viral and be viewed 50 million times. Then it (usually) recedes into a very long, thin afterlife. Here, nine YouTube sensations whose lives were upended briefly in the past decade (plus one from the prehistoric web era, before YouTube made its debut in 2005) speak about this odd, relatively new kind of fame. Most embraced the experience, seeing where it would take them. Some ended up in dark places. A couple have made it their living and found themselves with new careers. Others stepped away, opting out of the flame wars. Pay attention: Someday, the accidental celebrity could be you.

Terrific idea, and choices; the child from “Charlie bit my finger” may be the most predictable yet peculiar of all.
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Microsoft will not fix power management issues with new Surface devices until next year » Thurrott.com

Paul Thurrott is mad as hell and he’s.. well, he has to take it:

As I’ve said on the podcasts several times now, and wrote in the review excerpt below, Surface Book (and apparently Surface Pro 4) just don’t go to sleep properly.

Well, here’s the really bad news. Microsoft won’t fix this problem … until sometime next year.

“The ‘standby’ battery life is an issue we are working on and have been working on,” a Microsoft Surface Engineering Team program manager identified only as “Joe” explains in the company’s support forums. “We can put the processor into a deeper sleep state than it is currently set to. We couldn’t do it at RTM for a variety of reasons, power management is a very hard computer science problem to solve especially with new silicon. Currently it is not in the deepest ‘sleep’ that it can be so there are wake events that would not otherwise wake it. We will have an update for this issue sometime soon in the new year.”

I don’t mean to rip on an individual, as I usually save my ire for faceless corporations, but … “a very hard computer science problem to solve”? Seriously?

My advice to Microsoft is to not ship products for which you have not yet fixed “a very hard computer science problem.”

There is a workaround, though, involving making it always Hibernate rather than Sleep. Not ideal though. (Thanks @Avro105 for the link.)
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New software watches for licence plates, turning you into Little Brother » Ars Technica

Cyrus Farivar on open-source tech for automatic licence plate reading (ALPR) – known in the UK as ANPR (N for numberplate):

For the last six months, the two-man team behind OpenALPR has built this software and given it away for free, largely as a way to draw attention to their other paid services: a cloud-based $50 per camera per month solution that includes “high-speed processing” and “priority tech support.” The company also offers a $1,000 per camera per month “on-premises” version that integrates with an existing (usually government) network that has qualms about outsourcing data storage.

OpenALPR notes its software “will work with any camera that supports MJPEG streams. This includes visible-light and infrared cameras. The camera and optics should be configured such that the license plates are clearly legible in the video stream.”

Matt Hill, OpenALPR’s founder, told Ars that this is a good way to level the playing field and mitigate the need for long-term retention.

“I’m a big privacy advocate as well — now you’ve got LPR just in the hands of the government, which isn’t a good thing. This brings costs down,” he said.

On the government side, there have been incidents where police-owned LPR misread and led to dangerous confrontations. Some cities have mounted such cameras at their city borders, monitoring who comes in and out (case in point: the wealthy city of Piedmont, California, which is totally surrounded by Oakland). And again, the data associated with LPRs (plate, date, time, location) is often retained for months or years.

This feels a little like the total constant surveillance of Dave Eggers’s “The Circle”.
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HP exits low-cost tablet market in product shakeup » PCWorld

Agam Shah:

If you’re looking for a low-priced tablet from HP, you soon will not be able to find one.

HP is exiting the low-end tablet market amid declining prices and slowing demand. Instead, the company will focus on detachables, hybrids and business tablets at the higher end of the market.

“We are going to focus where there is profitability and growth and will not chase the low-end tablet market. We are focusing on business mobility to deliver tablets built for field service, education, retail and healthcare,” said Ron Coughlin, president for personal systems at HP.

HP has already stopped listing many low-end Android tablets on its website. The remaining lower-end products — the US$99 HP 7 G2 tablet and $149 HP 8 G2 tablet — have been out of stock for months, and it’s likely they won’t be available again. They are however still available through some online retailers at cut-rate prices.

The least expensive tablet on HP’s site is now the $329.99 HP Envy 8 Note tablet with Windows 10. HP has Windows on most tablets now, with only a handful running Android.

Wonder if this will become a trend. Obviously it will for enterprise sales – but might it also be the way to lure back disaffected Windows PC customers?
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida:

Start up: Samsung pays on patents, smartphone sales slow, Toshiba to sell PC arm?, and more


“Madam, I’m afraid that following the Galactic Depression I can’t give you a mortgage no matter what clothes you wear.” Photo by leg0fenris 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 10 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

LVMH’s TAG Heuer to step up smartwatch production to meet demand » Bloomberg Business

Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer will increase production of its smartwatch in coming months after receiving requests from retailers, agents and subsidiaries for some 100,000 timepieces, according to LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE’s watch chief.

TAG Heuer aims to make 2,000 pieces per week, up from a current 1,200, Jean-Claude Biver said in an e-mailed response to questions. Online sales of the Connected Watch will be suspended probably until May or June to give priority to physical stores, he said.

At $1,500 each, that’s revenue of $150m.
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The economics of Star Wars: Modeling and systems risk analysis suggest financial ruin for the Galactic Empire » Phys.org

Erika Ebsworth-Goold:

First, [Zachary] Feinstein [PhD, assistant professor of electrical and systems engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis] modelled the galactic economy by estimating the price of both Death Stars, using the most recently completed aircraft carrier in the American fleet as a measuring stick.

Comparing the price ($17.5bn) and size (100,000 metric tons of steel) of the USS Gerald Ford with an estimated size of both Death Stars, the price tag for the Empire was astounding: $193 quintillion for the first version; $419 quintillion for the second, though manageable in comparison to the $4.6 sextillion Galactic economy.

In the movies, both Death Stars are destroyed within a four-year time span, which would have been a staggering economic blow to the Imperial financial sector. To prevent a total financial collapse would require a bailout of at least 15%, and likely greater than 20%, of the entire economy’s resources.

“The most surprising result was how large the economic collapse could be,” Feinstein said. “Without a bailout, there was a non-negligible chance of over 30% drop in the size of the Galactic economy overnight—larger than the losses from the Great Depression over four years (from peak to trough).

“Episode 7: A New Quantitative Easing”.
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Samsung announces payment of $548m to Apple but reserves right to seek reimbursement » FOSS Patents

Florian Müller (who has been following all the zillions of patent rows forever):

on Thursday afternoon local California time, Apple and Samsung filed a joint case management statement with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in which Samsung says it has “has made arrangements to complete payment to Apple.” It is now waiting for Apple’s original invoice, and if that payment arrives before the weekend by Korean time, it will send $548m to Apple by December 14.

So, approximately four months before the fifth anniversary of its original complaint, Apple will physically receive money from Samsung.

Not in nickels, either.
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Worldwide smartphone market will see the first single-digit growth year on record » IDC

According to a new forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC ) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker , 2015 will be the first full year of single-digit worldwide smartphone growth. IDC predicts worldwide smartphone shipments will grow 9.8% in 2015 to a total of 1.43bn units. IDC updated its previous forecast to reflect slowing growth in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), Latin America, and Western Europe. The slower growth is expected to intensify slightly over the 2015-2019 forecast period and is largely attributed to lower shipment forecasts for Windows Phone as well as “alternative platforms” (phones running operating systems other than Android, iOS, and Windows Phone)…

…”With the smartphone market finally slowing to single-digit growth, maintaining momentum will depend on several factors,” said Ryan Reith , program director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “The main driver has been and will continue to be the success of low-cost smartphones in emerging markets. This, in turn, will depend on capturing value-oriented first-time smartphone buyers as well as replacement buyers. We believe that, in a number of high-growth markets, replacement cycles will be less than the typical two-year rate, mainly because the components that comprise a sub-$100 smartphone simply do not have the ability to survive two years. Offering products that appeal to both types of buyers at a suitable price point will be crucial to maintaining growth and vendor success.”

“As shipment volumes continue to slow across many markets, consumers will be enticed by both affordable high-value handsets as well as various financing options on pricier models,” said Anthony Scarsella , Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phones team.

Say it again: “the components that comprise a sub-$100 smartphone simply do not have the ability to survive two years”.
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Review: Microsoft’s Surface Book » iTnews

Juha Saarinen:

GeekBench 3 rated the single core processor score at 3480 and the multicore equivalent at 7165. This is quicker than the iPad Pro, which managed 3220 and 5442 in the single and multicore tests respectively, but a comparison between the two is difficult due to different processor architectures and Windows 10 and Apple iOS 9.1 being very dissimilar in how people use them: Windows 10 for instance allows full file system access, but iOS 9.1 doesn’t.  

You won’t be disappointed with the performance of the Surface Book in the vast majority of scenarios.  

You will, however, pay a premium for the tablet/laptop functionality: my AUD$4199 review unit is a good chunk’o’change. You could buy a top of the range 13-inch MacBook Pro with similar specs as the Surface Book and have change left for an iPad mini 4 as a companion tablet. 

Staying on the Microsoft side of the fence, the Surface Pro 4 top dog model has the same 512GB sized storage, 16GB RAM, is lighter, has a Core i7 processor but a slightly lower resolution PixelSense screen and no secondary graphics card – it costs $3580 with the Type keyboard cover, and runs Windows 10 just fine.

I thought Saarinen had transposed the numbers in that price, then saw the following paragraph. The prices translate to US$3,040 for that review unit and US$2,590. Clearly Microsoft doesn’t want to lose money on hardware any more. But at those prices, it’s really not going to sell in any appreciable numbers.
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Access denied » The Awl

John Herrman on the problem for various media that follows the way “access” to big stars, and politicians, and everyone, is being short-circuited by social media:

As did pundits with Trump coverage, [Kotaku’s Stephen] Totilo diagnoses the specific problem correctly, I think: Ubisoft and Bethesda were probably upset about Kotaku leaking or being critical of their products, and cut off access as a result. This is, in his words, “the price of games journalism.”

But the post’s secondary conclusions—that Kotaku rejects the idea of a games press that is a “servile arm of a corporate sales apparatus” and that this change in some way vindicates its prescient and recently implemented plan to “embed” reporters in games, rather than treating the games as objects to be reviewed—hint at a bigger worry. It’s not just that game companies might be mad at Kotaku, it’s that at the same time, they need it less than ever. What good is a complex website with a few million viewers spread across hundreds of games in a world where a company can just release a couple hours of gameplay footage of its own, or hand over a title to a YouTuber or a Twitch celebrity who’ll play nicely in front of millions of viewers?

link to this extract


Transformation at Yahoo foiled by Marissa Mayer’s inability to bet the farm » The New York Times

Farhad Manjoo:

Yahoo’s fumbled foray into TV only highlights Ms. Mayer’s strategic failure. Instead of making a single big bet [of buying Netflix in 2012 when its share price was one-tenth its present level] that might have focused the company on something completely different and potentially groundbreaking, Ms. Mayer staked out a lot of small and midsize positions, rarely committing to anything early enough to make a difference. For Ms. Mayer, original programming was just one of dozens of products in a portfolio that remains too complex to understand.

So, too, were other projects that could have been at the center of Yahoo’s new mission. In the time that Ms. Mayer has been at the helm, Facebook has invested heavily in messaging apps that could define the future of communication. Google and Apple, anticipating the eventual decline of text-based search queries, have tried to create predictive, voice-based search engines that also catalog all the content inside apps. Pinterest is pioneering a new kind of online commerce, while Instagram, Snapchat and Vine are working on new ways to tell collective narratives through video.

Under Ms. Mayer, Yahoo has had a hand in many similar initiatives, but it hasn’t led in any of these areas.

“Inability” should probably have been “unwillingness” (Manjoo won’t have written the headline), but the analysis is spot-on.
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Japan’s Toshiba, Fujitsu in talks to merge loss-making PC units – sources » Yahoo Finance UK

Makiko Yamazaki and Reiji Murai of Reuters:

The emergence of tablets and other devices as well as fierce competition has pushed Japanese PC divisions into the red. At the same time, Toshiba is under pressure to restructure in the wake of a $1.3 billion accounting scandal while Fujitsu has seen PC profitability slip away as a weaker yen has inflated the cost of imported parts.

Combining PC operations would create a company with around 1.2 trillion yen ($9.8bn) in sales and give greater economies of scale that would help with procurement costs. But analysts see prospects of a return to past days of thriving sales as slim given that the two account for just 6 percent of global PC sales.

“It is uncertain whether or not the new integrated company could recover international competitiveness,” said Takeshi Tanaka, senior analyst at Mizuho Securities.

A combination would come on the heels of Sony Corp hiving off its PC business into unlisted Vaio Corp last year. Some domestic media reported that Vaio would also be part of the new venture but a spokeswoman for the company denied it was in talks with any firm about its PC operations.

That $9.8bn is an annualised revenue figure for both companies’ PC divisions – though there may be other products in there. (Their accounts don’t split out PC revenues directly.) For comparison, Asus and Acer each had annualised PC revenues of $8.5bn in 2014.
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Design: meet the internet — Figma Design » Medium

Dylan Field:

When we started working on Figma, we knew it was possible to build a fast and stable graphics tool in the browser, but we had no idea how hard it would be. From vector rendering to font layout to a million performance edge cases, getting here hasn’t been easy. Designers have high expectations for a tool they rely on every day! After dogfooding Figma internally for the past eighteen months and working closely with alpha customers, I’m confident we’ve reached this high bar.

While the technical achievement of building a vector based UI design tool in the browser is exciting, I’m even more excited by the collaborative possibilities we’re starting to unlock. Whether you’re sharing a design with a link, giving contextual feedback or setting shared brand colors for your team to use, Figma makes it easy to work with your team.

If you can do it in a browser it isn’t real work, of course.
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Wearable technology in the car » Canadian Automobile Association

Mark Richardson:

Jeffrey Macesin says he was changing the music playing through his car speakers when the Montreal police officer pulled him over and charged him with distracted driving.

The music was coming from his iPhone and wired into the car’s stereo, but the phone was tucked away in his bag, out of sight. In fact, he was using his Apple Watch to change the track, another potential new distraction in a world increasingly crowded with them.

Macesin says he was astonished by the ticket, which carries a $120 fine in Quebec and four demerit points.

“I understand (the officer’s) point of view,” he told CTV in May, “but the fact is, he thought I was using my phone and I wasn’t using my phone – I was using my watch. I tried explaining this to the guy and he just ignored me. I told him I’d see him in court.”

I sent Macesin numerous requests for a chat but he didn’t respond – maybe his lawyer told him to keep quiet. But he acknowledged in outtakes to CTV that his left hand was on the wheel – the same arm that wears his new Apple Watch – and he was tapping on the watch dial with his right hand to change tracks when the officer saw him from an overpass. The Apple Watch was connected wirelessly to his iPhone and controlling its functions.

The actual charge is that he “drove a road vehicle using a hand-held device equipped with a telephone function,” and his argument against it, he said, is that a watch is not “hand-held” – it’s worn on the wrist. “That’s where it gets really controversial,” he said to CTV. “Is it? Is it not? But I think this needs to be talked about.”

Similar to the Google Glass driving ticket case (which was dismissed)?
link to this extract


Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida:

Start up: streaming runs dry?, the absent unicorn, Watch myths and more


“Waddya mean, you lost my shareholder pass?” Photo by Wired Photostream on Flickr.

A selection of 10 links for you. We counted. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Losses point to bleak future for music streaming services » FT.com

Robert Cookson:

The future appears bleak for companies whose sole business is music streaming. An increasing number of investors and people in the record industry expect that digital music distribution will be dominated by a few large, cash-rich technology groups — in particular, Apple, Google and Amazon.

“When you have the likes of Apple fighting against you, it becomes very difficult to survive,” says Mark Tluszcz, chief executive of Mangrove, the venture capital firm and one of the original investors in Rdio. It sold its shares several years ago after concluding that no matter how many subscribers the streaming service managed to attract, it would never be able to turn a profit.

“As a streaming platform, your relative value is nil, because you don’t own the content,” he says. “This is not a good business to be in.”

The fundamental challenge for streaming services is that they are largely at the mercy of music copyright holders — including Sony Music Entertainment, Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group. These three record companies alone control about three-quarters of the $15bn-a-year global recorded music market.

To stand a chance of attracting a large number of subscribers, a streaming service must offer a broad catalogue of songs from all three major record companies.

Related: Coldplay keeping new album (released today, Friday!) off any streaming service offering a free tier. So won’t be on Spotify, but will be on Apple Music (presumably) and Tidal.
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Why companies are switching from Google Apps to Office 365 » CIO

Mary Branscombe notes that Office 365 seems to have passed Google Docs on some measures:

The simplicity of Gmail and Google Docs clearly appeals to some users, but as one of the most widely used applications in the world, the Office software is familiar to many. “When you put these products into companies, the user interface really matters,” McKinnon says. “For email, the user interface really matters. Google Apps is dramatically different from Office and that’s pretty jarring for people who’ve been using Outlook for a long time. It’s like it beamed in from outer space; you have to use a browser, the way it does conversations and threading with labels versus folders, it’s pretty jarring.”

And it’s hard to use Outlook with Google, many customers report. “Some companies, they go to Google and they think they are going to make it work with Outlook; what they find out when they start using the calendar is that it just doesn’t work as well with the Google Apps backend as it does when you’re using Office 365. The user interface is so important that it pulls them back in. Even if you like the Google backend better, you have thousands of users saying ‘what happened to my folders?’”

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Swift is open source » Hacker News

That’s Swift, the language that Apple introduced in June 2014 – having kept it a complete secret – and said it would make open source by the end of this year. The above link goes to the discussion about it having done that. There’s also this page on the language’s forward evolution.

Sure that Andy Rubin will tweet about this really soon.
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Ballmer chides Microsoft over cloud revenue disclosures and apps plan » Bloomberg Business

Dina Bass:

Ballmer said he has discussed the issue [of the non-disclosure of profit margins and total sales from cloud products] with the company and that after almost two years out of the CEO job, he can’t even guess what these numbers are.

“We enjoy a regular dialogue with Steve, and welcome his input and feedback, as we do from our other investors.” said Chris Suh, Microsoft’s general manager for investor relations.

Ballmer also criticized Nadella’s answer to an audience member questioning the lack of key apps, like one for Starbucks, on the company’s Windows Phone. Nadella responded by citing the company’s plan to appeal to Windows developers by allowing them to write universal applications that work on computers, phones and tablets, targeting a larger array of devices than just Microsoft’s handsets that have just a single-digit share of the mobile market.

“That won’t work,” Ballmer commented as Nadella spoke. Instead, the company needs to enable Windows Phones “to run Android apps,” he said.

Chris Suh’s comment is basically “sod off”. At this rate Ballmer is destined to become Microsoft’s Steve Wozniak (as portrayed in the film Steve Jobs, rather than as in real life).
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Engadget unveils redesign focused on technology’s effect on society » WSJ

Lukas Alpert:

Launched in 2004, Engadget’s audience had begun to decline in recent years, Mr. Gorman said. Despite that, advertising revenue has remained steady, said Ned Desmond, general manager of AOL Tech.

“Revenue has been fine for quite a while,” he said. “Of course it is a better scenario when your audience is growing again in a sustainable way. Advertisers appreciate that.”

As the site increasingly began to focus on broader tech issues earlier this year, traffic has begun to tick back up. Unique visitors to the site in October were up 25% compared with same month last year at 10.8 million, according to comScore Inc. By comparison, rival CNET was slightly down in October year-over-year at 32.2 million. Traffic to the Verge jumped 27% in the same period to 19.8 million.

Overall, the tech media space has become very crowded in recent years, making it harder to stand out.

That “audience declined but advertising revenue stayed the same” suggests more ads being thrown at people, which could make them go away faster. Changing the editorial position seems to be the way to reverse that. But the “social impact” space could get crowded fast too.
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Why are there no unicorns …. or are there? » Pulling on the corkscrew of life

Dr Mike Ward tried to puzzle out the answer to a question I posed on Twitter: since we have deer with bilateral horns, and rhino with central “horns” (you’ll see why the quotes are there), why don’t we have horses or deer with central horns, ie unicorns?

The ancestors of modern deer also had tusks. Later they evolved horns and their tusks withered away as their horns grew. I see no reason – in principle – why deer or antelope (or other ungulates) could not have evolved to grow (say) only their left horns and why that single horn could not (with a slight asymmetrical deformation in skull development) have moved over towards the centre of the head. Such a “unicorn” would not be quite symmetrical but, given that they have helical horns, unicorns aren’t really symmetrical either.

In fact, thinking about it, I don’t really see why – if the horn were composed of two fused halves (like the swordfish “bill”) – we couldn’t have had a “unicorn” with a single untwisted horn.

Evolutionary advantage in lacking a horn, or lack of it in having a horn, might have played a part. Or sheer dumb lack of happenstance? Your views welcome.
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December 2010: mobile OS – what is in store for the future? » Nota Bene: Eugene Kaspersky’s Official Blog

In December 2010, Kaspersky (the antivirus guy) offered a bet:

And now for a bit of a global long-term forecasting.

What’s the story going to be with mobile operating systems in the future? In say around five years?

I’m ready to bet that – if the current manufacturers of mobile phones don’t change their strategies – the mobile OS market in the five years perspective will be split up as follows:

80% – Android
10% – iPhone OS
10% – all the Others.

Pretty much dead on: actual figure for 2015 is 78/14/8, via Gartner. Read his post for his reasoning; when he made the bet, Android had 6% share, iOS 14, and others 80%. (He celebrated being right the other day.)
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This Ford can drive itself in motorway traffic and park while you wait » IB Times

Alistair Charlton:

Called Traffic Jam Assist, the first system works alongside the car’s cruise control and uses cameras and radar to monitor road markings and surrounding traffic. When driving in stop-start traffic on a busy motorway, the feature can be switched on via the steering wheel; it then takes control of the steering, brakes and accelerator.

Shown off for the first time in Germany, the system will keep the car in the centre of your lane, a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and below the speed limit (which the driver sets before switching the system on). It also works, unlike current cruise control systems, after the car has come to a halt, with it setting off again to keep up with the flow of the traffic…

…Next up is Remote Park Assist, an upcoming feature which will let car owners park in tight spaces without even being in the car. They park near the space, step out, then use the car fob to tell the car to park itself. The system works in reserve too, so drivers can extract their car from a tight space if someone has parked too close to them. Again, this system is also available on the new 7-Series, but Ford will bring it into the hands of drivers on a much lower budget.

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Leaked documents reveal Dothan police department planted drugs on young black men for years, district attorney Doug Valeska complicit » The Henry County Report

Jon B Carroll:

The Alabama Justice Project has obtained documents that reveal a Dothan Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigation was covered up by the district attorney. A group of up to a dozen police officers on a specialized narcotics team were found to have planted drugs and weapons on young black men for years. They were supervised at the time by Lt. Steve Parrish, current Dothan Police Chief, and Sgt. Andy Hughes, current Asst. Director of Homeland Security for the State of Alabama. All of the officers reportedly were members of a Neoconfederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels “racial extremists.” The group has advocated for blacks to return to Africa, published that the civil rights movement is really a Jewish conspiracy, and that blacks have lower IQ’s . Both Parrish and Hughes held leadership positions in the group and are pictured above holding a confederate battle flag at one of the club’s secret meetings.

Depressing.
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My favourite Apple Watch myths » Horace Dediu

Apple Watch was released April 10th 2015. Eight months later we are holding the first Apple Watch conference. To kick off the discussion, here are my favorite myths about this new product.

These aren’t obvious, except when you read them. I particularly liked this one:

Myth 8: The Watch has a weak battery
I’ve never gone a day with less than 50% battery remaining. Since we need to recharge ourselves once a day, the watch conforms to our biology. Unless you sleep far away from a source of electric power, the Apple Watch has enough battery life.

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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none noted.

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.

Start up: Gravity’s mystery CEO, Android audio latency, Engadget v Wikipedia v AI, and more


The Pill – so well-known and powerful it only needs the noun to describe it. Photo by Beppie K on Flickr.

Haven’t you heard? You can receive each day’s Start Up post by email. None of this “web” nonsense. (You’ll need to click a confirmation link, so no spam.)

A selection of 10 links for you. Aren’t they pretty. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

The CEO paying everyone $70,000 salaries has something to hide » Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Karen Weise does a wonderful job of just checking the damn facts about Dan Price, the guy who cut his own salary and raised his staff’s to $70,000 on 13 April:

In a follow-up interview in mid-November, I pressed Price about the inconsistency. How could what he told me about being served two weeks after announcing the raise be true when the court records indicated otherwise?

“Umm, I’m not, I have to look,” he said. The court document, I said, definitely says March 16. “I am only aware of the suit being initiated after the raise,” he replied.

“The court record shows you being served on March 16 … at 1:25 p.m.,” I said. “And actually, your answer to it was dated April 3,” also before the pay hike.

“I am only aware of the suit being initiated after the raise,” he repeated. I asked again how that could be, saying the declaration of service shows Price was served with the complaint, the summons, and other documents, “that you are a male, who is white, age 30, 5-feet-8-inches, medium height, dark hair.”

He paused for 20 seconds. “Are you there?” he asked, then twice repeated his statement that he was only aware of the suit being initiated in late April. “I’d be happy to answer any other questions you may have,” he added.

That’s not the end of it either. There’s deeper stuff to come.
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Android audio latency in depth: it’s getting better, especially with the Nexus 5X and 6P » Android Police

Martim Lobao:

In a study published by the Audio Engineering Society, researchers attempted to determine the lowest latency detectable by different kinds of musicians…

What they found was a set of values below which absolutely no kind of delay or artifact was detected at all. With an 80% confidence level, this value was at least 28 ms for keyboards, whereas for drums, guitars, and bass, it was 9 ms, 5 ms, and 5 ms, respectively. Predictably, the lowest value found was for vocals, where singers only began to notice some slight artifacts at around 2 ms.

Using this data, we drew up another chart to compare these values with several Nexus devices running different versions of Android, as well as the iPhone 6, the iPad Air 2, and human reaction times to various kinds of stimuli. The red and green dashed lines represent the typical thresholds for detecting audio lags and for perceiving audio artifacts, respectively.

While it’s clear that OS updates play a large role (perhaps even the most important one), not everything can be attributed to software alone. Devices with older hardware like the 2013 Nexus 7 still have a latency of 55 ms, compared to the 15 ms on the Nexus 9 — and yet both are running Android 6.0. On the other hand, the Note 5 is roughly on par with the Nexus 5, even though the former runs Lollipop and the latter runs Marshmallow.

Audio latency is a perennial “it’ll get better next time, honest” challenge for Android. What the graph clearly shows is that every iOS device runs under the “detectable lag” threshold, and that every tested Android device runs above that same threshold. (Lobao calls this “unfortunate” and “an unfair advantage”, as though iOS were somehow cheating.)

Lobao pulls out some excellent examples of what the real-world effect of different delays sound like, such as this from SoundCloud.
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Doing real design work on an iPad » Subtraction.com

Khoi Vinh (who works at Adobe):

Some folks may have little tolerance for hoop jumping at all when OS X is so powerful and precise, and many people I talk to find my desire to go all iPad all the time to be somewhat pointless. But it’s more than an academic exercise to me; I genuinely enjoy using my iPad more than my MacBook. It’s lightness and portability is a joy, and its nimbleness—I can use it in portrait or landscape, with or without a Bluetooth keyboard, seated, standing or even walking—makes it right for almost every usage scenario. I also like its ability to run iOS apps because that’s what I’m thinking about in my day-to-day work more than anything; it’s invaluable to me to be embedded in the native environment and mostly free from accessing desktop apps.

I’ve already written a column about the “real work” conundrum for next Sunday’s Tech Monthly in The Guardian. Notable how articles like this are cropping up more and more.
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Samsung pulls out of cameras in the UK, cites decline in interest » Pocket-lint

Rik Henderson:

Samsung has confirmed to Pocket-lint that it will phase out the sale and marketing of digital cameras, camcorders and related accessories in the UK.

The company had been rumoured to be considering such a move on a global scale, with some suggesting that it would make a formal announcement during the CES trade show in Las Vegas in January. However, in response to such speculation in September, Samsung replied that it would be continuing with production of cameras and lenses.

It just won’t be selling them in the UK anymore, it seems.

First PCs, now this. Hard to think anyone is buying digital cameras or camcorders in appreciable numbers any more.
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I taught a computer to write like Engadget » Engadget

Aaron Souppouris:

Building on this, you can seed Engadgetbot with an idea by adding some “primetext” that it’ll build a sentence or paragraph from. A few examples, with the primetext in italics:

A display with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, for all it’s worth, is an excellent companion at $200.

The problem with Android is one that affects the search to find a standard chipset for Android.

The problem with iPhone is products of the same section and everything is closer than one of the plungentications.

Some of those sentences are more prescient than others, and I don’t know where it learned “plungentications” from, but structurally all of these sentences are perfect. An RNN certainly can’t replace an Engadget writer, but an RNN can definitely form sentences like an Engadget writer.

Definitely. I can see it getting its own blog pretty soon.
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Despite privacy scare, Adele smashes secondary ticketing » MusicAlly

Stuart Dredge:

Coldplay’s six UK dates had 17,631 tickets available across the three secondary sites; Rihanna’s six UK gigs had 9,290 tickets available; and Adele’s 12-concert run had 649 tickets for secondary sale.

Or to put it another way, the average number of secondary tickets per Coldplay gig was 2,939, compared to 1,548 for Rihanna and just 54 for Adele:


Sources: Seatwave, GetMeIn, StubHub – evening of 1 December 2015

Even with caveats – Adele is playing arenas while Coldplay and Rihanna are playing stadiums, and StubHub had no Adele tickets available at all – those figures are startling.

The promise by Adele’s management that “the resale of tickets will not be tolerated” appears to have been followed through with action that hugely restricted the secondary market for the most-anticipated tour in years – Songkick said more than 500,000 people registered on Adele’s website for the pre-sale.

What action? “Songkick provided the opportunity to allow fans to register, and to use its proprietary technology to identify touts, reduce their ability to purchase tickets when advance sales commenced on December 1 and to cancel as many tickets appearing on secondary ticketing sites as possible,” claimed that company’s statement.

No further details have been given, but we suspect there’s a bigger story in that “proprietary technology to identify touts”.

Adele’s manager later said that 18,000 “known or likely touts” had been deregistered before presales, and more than 100 tickets cancelled after appearing on secondary sites. Chalk another one up to Adele and her management.

Wonder if they’ll share the “known or likely” list with other sites and/or artists?
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The Pill versus the Bomb: what digital technologists need to know about power » Medium

Tom Steinberg:

The oral contraceptive pill doesn’t, at first glance, appear to have the same visceral connection to power as a bomb or an engine. And yet as a technology that shifts power around it is perhaps unmatched.

This is because the Pill allowed women from the late 1960s onwards to control their own fertility, which allowed them to postpone marriage, postpone the birth of their first child, and turn these advantages into more education and greater involvement in the employment markets. Put together this gave women with access to the pill relatively greater power than they had before, both through greater earnings and through greater ability to choose how to live their own lives.

But what is most interesting to me about the nature of this technological power shift is that it did not dissipate as the technology became ubiquitous.

…Like a diode, the power of the Pill only flows one way.

(Emphasis in original.) Steinberg, who set up MySociety, and was a technology adviser to the 2010-2015 coalition in the UK, is now looking for people who’ve got comparable power-spreading technologies.
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Nokia’s Ozo VR camera marks a rebirth for the phone giant » WIRED

Maurizio Pesce:

The Ozo is set to be unveiled on November 30 in Los Angeles, and expected to cost around $50,000. That’s about three times the price tag of the GoPro Odyssey. However, while the GoPro’s footage must still be assembled in laborious post-production processes, the Ozo can generate a full 360-degree stereoscopic video in real time. Thanks to HD-SDI connections on the body, the camera can stream 1.5 Gbps of compressed RAW footage to store data from the streams from the eight lens, broadcast full 360-degree panoramic video, and also stream a low-res feed for monitoring. The camera is Wi-Fi enabled, too, allowing filmmakers to control the system remotely in real time while shooting.

Nokia’s bold move into virtual reality is a clear statement that the Finns are still alive, and that they’re more interested in the projected $150bn dollar VR industry than they are in the mobile handset industry.

It’s less a “rebirth” – Nokia’s network business has been doing OK – than a new direction, but the point about the VR industry compared to the handset business is a good one. And this is clearly aimed at content producers, a smart move.

So… when does Apple update Final Cut Pro to handle VR? Or will it introduce something entirely new?
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Wikipedia deploys AI to expand its ranks of human editors » WIRED

Cade Metz:

With his new AI project — dubbed the Objective Revision Evaluation Service, or ORES — [senior research scientist at the Wikimedia Foundation, Aaron] Halfaker aims to boost participation by making Wikipedia more friendly to newbie editors. Using a set of open source machine learning algorithms known as SciKit Learn—code freely available to the world at large—the service seeks to automatically identify blatant vandalism and separate it from well-intentioned changes. With a more nuanced view of new edits, the thinking goes, these algorithms can continue cracking down on vandals without chasing away legitimate participants. It’s not that Wikipedia needs to do away with automated tools to attract more human editors. It’s that Wikipedia needs better automated tools.

“We don’t have to flag good-faith edits the same way we flag bad-faith damaging edits,” says Halfaker, who used Wikipedia as basis for his PhD work in the computer science department at the University of Minnesota.

In the grand scheme of things, the new AI algorithms are rather simple examples of machine learning. But they can be effective. They work by identifying certain words, variants of certain words, or particular keyboard patterns. For instance, they can spot unusually large blocks of characters. “Vandals tend to mash the keyboard and not put spaces in between their characters,” Halfaker says.

I CAN TYPING confirmed as fact. Next step: get the AI to write the Wikipedia articles. (Step after that: humans stop bothering to read Wikipedia?)
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The Surface Phone you’ve always wanted is happening » Windows Central

Daniel Rubino:

Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed that the rumored Intel-powered Windows 10 phone slated for May 2016 has been cancelled. Instead, an all-new flagship phone lead by Panos Panay and the team of engineers that built the Microsoft Surface and Surface Book has been given the green light. Slated for a release in the second half of 2016 this may be the long-wished-for Surface phone. Here is what we know and what we don’t.

What we know:
1) it’s about five years too late.
2) that’s all, really. It doesn’t matter if it’s a super-amazing premium flagship able to cure cancer while landing on the moon. Nobody (to a sufficiently good approximation) will buy it.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida:

Start up: EFF accuses Chromebooks, Public Enemy in Focus!, OnePlus’s iPhone extra, and more


Remember when these weren’t standardised on phones? It wasn’t long ago. Photo by dankit 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 12 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Google deceptively tracks students’ internet browsing, EFF says in FTC complaint » Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a complaint today with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Google for collecting and data mining school children’s personal information, including their Internet searches—a practice EFF uncovered while researching its “Spying on Students” campaign, which launched today.

The campaign was created to raise awareness about the privacy risks of school-supplied electronic devices and software. EFF examined Google’s Chromebook and Google Apps for Education (GAFE), a suite of educational cloud-based software programs used in many schools across the country by students as young as seven years old.

While Google does not use student data for targeted advertising within a subset of Google sites, EFF found that Google’s “Sync” feature for the Chrome browser is enabled by default on Chromebooks sold to schools. This allows Google to track, store on its servers, and data mine for non-advertising purposes, records of every Internet site students visit, every search term they use, the results they click on, videos they look for and watch on YouTube, and their saved passwords. Google doesn’t first obtain permission from students or their parents and since some schools require students to use Chromebooks, many parents are unable to prevent Google’s data collection.

Yes, we have been here before. Are we just inured to this stuff, as we are to millions of peoples’ details being stolen in hacks?
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Thunderbird “a tax” on Firefox development, and Mozilla wants to drop it » Ars Technica

Andrew Cunningham:

You might know Mozilla primarily for its Firefox browser, but for many years the company has also developed an e-mail client called Thunderbird. The two projects use the same rendering engine and other underlying technology, but Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker has announced that Mozilla would like to stop supporting Thunderbird, calling its continuing maintenance “a tax” on the more important work of developing Firefox.

“Many inside of Mozilla, including an overwhelming majority of our leadership, feel the need to be laser-focused on activities like Firefox that can have an industry-wide impact,” Baker writes. “With all due respect to Thunderbird and the Thunderbird community, we have been clear for years that we do not view Thunderbird as having this sort of potential.”

Translation: nobody pays to appear in Thunderbird. It’s a money pit.
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Flash, HTML5 and open web standards » Adobe

“Corporate Communications”:

While standards like HTML5 will be the web platform of the future across all devices, Flash continues to be used in key categories like web gaming and premium video, where new standards have yet to fully mature. Moving forward, Adobe is committed to working with industry partners, as we have with Microsoft and Google, to help ensure the ongoing compatibility and security of Flash content. In that spirit, today we are announcing that we are working together with Facebook to help ensure Flash gaming content on Facebook continues to run reliably and securely. As part of this cooperation, Facebook will report security information that helps Adobe improve the Flash Player.

This does not sound to me like “Adobe tells people to stop using Flash” – a statement that The Verge made without bothering to actually speak to anyone at Adobe. Instead the writer just leaned on his own interpretation of this (ambiguous) blogpost.

Meanwhile, in the comments on The Verge’s article, people tell it to stop using Flash for its videos. Just like Flash, irony is not quite dead.
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Introducing Microsoft PowerApps » The Official Microsoft Blog

Bill Staples, cor vp, Application Platform:

What is the cause of this business app “innovation gap” [on mobile]? Working closely with our customers, we have identified three key problems:

1) Not enough skilled mobile developers. Gartner predicts, “through 2017, the market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organization capacity to deliver them.*” There simply aren’t enough skilled developers to keep up with demand for business app scenarios.

2) Business data proliferation. Business data has proliferated spanning on premises systems and beyond the firewall to SaaS clouds. With data stored in many systems, it is difficult to connect to and consume related data from within an app.

3) IT agility and app sharing. Mobile app distribution typically happens through app stores, or through mobile device management, governed by IT.  This creates inherent friction in getting apps onto employee phones.

Today, we’re excited to introduce Microsoft PowerApps as a unique solution to these problems. PowerApps is an enterprise service for innovators everywhere to connect, create and share business apps with your team on any device in minutes. And PowerApps helps anyone in your organization unlock new business agility.

For employees,

• Quickly create apps that work on any device using a Microsoft Office-like experience, templates to get started quickly and a visual designer to automate workflows.
• Use built-in connections, or ones built by your company, to connect PowerApps to cloud services such as Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, Dropbox and OneDrive and on-premises systems including SharePoint, SQL Server, Oracle databases, SAP and more.
• Share PowerApps like documents. It’s as simple as typing an email address and your coworkers can take advantage of an app you created.
For developers and IT professionals,
• PowerApps includes Azure App Service for employee-facing apps, so native web and mobile apps get into employee hands faster than ever.
• Build additional data connections and APIs to any existing business systems, thus empowering any users in your organization to create the apps they need.
• Data security and privacy controls are respected by PowerApps, so you can manage data access and maintain corporate policies.

Are these basically web apps? Seems that way.
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A new way to save data with Chrome on Android » Google Chrome Blog

Tal Oppenheimer, product manager:

Accessing mobile websites on a slow connection can be frustrating: it can eat up your data, and it takes work to keep track of your usage. With that in mind, we created Data Saver mode in Chrome, which reduces the amount of data used when you visit a webpage.

Now, we’re updating this mode to save even more data – up to 70 percent! – by removing most images when loading a page on a slow connection. After the page has loaded, you can tap to show all images or just the individual ones you want, making the web faster and cheaper to access on slow connections.

First implementations in India and Indonesia. I recall this being an option in (desktop) Mosaic, and then Netscape, in the days of dialup. Isn’t now, of course.
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Android phone maker OnePlus launches ‘Sandstone’ iPhone case just in time for Christmas » TechCrunch

Jon Russell:

OnePlus has put its signature sandstone finish into a case that’ll house an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s.

Why, you ask?

I have my own thoughts — it’s a fun promotion for publicity (like this story) and also a way to raise the brand among Apple customers — but OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei told TechCrunch that is a gesture for those in the world who are “stuck” with iPhones.

“Although most of my friends have converted to the OnePlus family, there’s still a hand full stuck with iPhones. This is for them. I think a lot of OnePlus fans can relate,” Pei said in a statement.

Priced at $19.99/£15.99. As David Barnard points out, maybe it’s because there’s more profit to be had from iPhone accessories than Android phones. (It’s true – accessories often carry margins of 50% or better, compared to Android phones, which now struggle to get past single digits.)
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Sheffield fan gives Public Enemy a lift to their arena gig in his Ford Focus – The Star

Dan Hobson:

A Sheffield photographer became chauffeur to the stars after a taxi gaffe left rap legends Public Enemy stranded – moments before their arena performance.

Gig snapper Kevin Wells had to ‘fight the power’ of traffic in his Ford Focus to get rappers Chuck D, Flavor Flav and entourage to the Motorpoint Arena ahead of their show with The Prodigy.

Simply awesome. Love it. And read about what happened as the car came through Attercliffe.
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Leaving the Mac App Store » Sketch Blog

There are a number of reasons for Sketch leaving the Mac App Store—many of which in isolation wouldn’t cause us huge concern. However as with all gripes, when compounded they make it hard to justify staying: App Review continues to take at least a week, there are technical limitations imposed by the Mac App Store guidelines (sandboxing and so on) that limit some of the features we want to bring to Sketch, and upgrade pricing remains unavailable.

We should also add that this move is not a knee-jerk reaction to the recent certificate expiration problems that affected so many Mac App Store customers. However, in light of what happened, we can’t help but feel vindicated in our decision that the Mac App Store is not in our customers’ best interests right now.

The lack of upgrade pricing and trials could burn the Mac App Store to the ground if Apple doesn’t listen and act. Sketch could be the first of a stampede if its business isn’t hurt by this move – and there’s no reason to think it will.
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Distraction is hurting your career » Middle Class Tech

Curt Robbins:

About ten years ago, my wife and I did the cord cutter thing, before anyone was familiar with the term or it was a trending topic. Removing Time Warner Cable from our home saved us $95 a month (which has added up to about $11,000 at this point, more than enough to pay for my fancy British speakers). More important, it also eliminated the obnoxious ads that used to emanate from our TV and derail our thoughts.

Next, I quit playing the radio in my car. In fact, I’ve never played the radio in my current vehicle. As a music lover, it was easy to fall back on compact discs or plugging in my iPod. This freed time to think about career strategies and current projects or listen to educational podcasts, leveraging that valuable and quickly accumulating commute time…as opposed to being mentally jostled by mediocre voice actors trying to sell me carpeting or tires.

But what about those pesky web-based ads, like the stuff you see on Facebook and other sites?

Yeah, you know where it’s going. The idea that ads (especially the TV ones) are intrusive and annoying seems to occur to surprisingly few Americans. Or is that just my impression? It’s the form of cultural appropriation that feels most objectionable, yet also most subtle.
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Samsung Electronics names new smartphone head as heir apparent makes mark » Reuters

Samsung Group said 54-year-old Dongjin Koh will take over as president of the mobile communications business from 59-year-old J.K. Shin, who will remain head of the overall mobile division for Samsung Electronics and focus on long-term strategy and developing new growth businesses.

The move diminishes Shin’s influence on the mobile business as the former cash-cow battles to reverse a slide in its market share to rivals like Apple, Huawei and Xiaomi.

“While it’s true that Shin delivered remarkable performance in the past, it’s indisputable that the Galaxy S6’s results fell short of expectations so a new leader was needed,” Hansung University economics Professor Kim Sang-jo said.

“Today’s appointments appear to acknowledge the need to develop a management system that can more proactively respond to challenges from Xiaomi and other Chinese companies.”

The group’s annual announcement of management changes also saw another top executive moved into a strategic role, with TV and appliances division chief Yoon Boo-keun shifted out of the day-to-day operations of the appliances business.

Shin was in charge of the mobile business since 2009; he took Samsung to mobile glory, but arguably his heritage will be the futzed years of the S5 and S6.
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iPhone 6S/6S Plus launch echoes 5S launch » CIRP

CIRP does relatively small samples (n=300) for US iPhone buyers, but its data tends to reflect what subsequently turn out to be general trends there. In this case it found that about 30% of iPhones being sold after the 6S/Plus launch were the older ones; compare that to the 5S launch in 2012, when 36% bought the 4S or 5C (there was no iPhone 5 to buy).

But there’s also this:

Android owners accounted for a larger share of iPhone buyers after the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus launch (26%) compared to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch (12%) (Chart 2). Android owners accounted for a similar percentage of iPhone buyers (23%) at the iPhone 5S launch.

Previous Operating System of iPhone Buyers (last three launches)
CIRP 2015 iPhone 6 Android moves

“The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus launch attracted a greater percentage of Android owners compared to a year ago,” said Mike Levin, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP. “This says a little more about the very hot iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch, which motivated more iPhone upgrades than in previous years. The share of buyers coming from the Android platform for this launch more resembles the long-term trend in Android and iOS switching.”

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Phone Finder Results for 2.5mm and 3.5mm headphone jacks » Phone Scoop

You know all the rumblings about Apple abandoning the 3.5mm headphone jack in a future iPhone? About how that would be a classic abandonment of hardworking families (or something) that will let the enemy win?

Via R. Travis Atkins, here’s what you get when you search for phones with 2.5mm headphone jacks or 3.5mm headphone jacks.

It turns out that Apple helped standardise the 3.5mm jack on smartphones; everyone from Samsung to Palm to Kyocera and so on was using the non-standard 2.5mm jack.

Or has everyone forgotten how Sony Ericsson phones and Nokia phones all had totally non-interchangeable, non-standard connectors for their headsets and power?
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida:

Start up: truths about music, neural nets for you, PC v iPad, Apple Watch abandonment, and more


Saturn’s rings. What if they were around Earth instead? We have pictures. Photo by alpoma on Flickr.

Lots of other people have already signed up to receive each day’s Start Up post by email. Unless that’s where you’re reading it. Remember how you clicked a confirmation link to avoid spam?

A selection of 10 links for you. Ooh look, December already (where I am, anyway). I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

The running list of things that I hate hearing about the music business » Medium

Ethan Kaplan has a fine (and growing) list, of which this is an example:

There are two forms of intelligence that will help you find music: machine and human. Music discovery companies target the type of music listener who’s heuristics will always yield better results from the machine. They bring enough probabilism to bear to ensure good outcomes from collaborative filtering.

This is not most people. Most people won’t have inputs such as “post punk from Boston between 1980 and 1984 who toured along side but not with R.E.M.”

Most people have inputs like “something inoffensive that won’t bother me and that my kids won’t fight about.” For most people the music discovery engine that matters still has an actual name. It always did. It may be Keith McPhee [music supervisor on the Tonight Show] or Kevin Weatherly [SVP of programming at CBS] or Bob Pittman [CEO of iHeartMedia, formerly ClearChannel].

It isn’t and never will be the name of that latest startup.

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Apple Music comes to Sonos on December 15 » BuzzFeed News

John Paczkowski:

Sonos will let people access Apple Music’s For You, My Music, New, and Radio — basically everything but “Connect,” a social feature intended to link artists with their fans. The focus is curated streaming, which Sonos co-founder and CEO John MacFarlane says drives most of the music listening that occurs on Sonos speakers these days.

“Well over 90% of the music people listen to on Sonos speakers is from streaming services,” MacFarlane told BuzzFeed News. “We think Apple Music is going to be a catalyst that will raise that percentage even higher. What we’ve found is that as Sonos owners discover streaming services like Apple Music they use the local collections they have on their home computers and cell phones less and less.”

For Sonos, which has long offered a robust menu of streaming music services that includes everything from Spotify to Tidal, the addition of Apple Music seems a no-brainer, particularly since its Beats Music predecessor had been available on Sonos since January of 2014 until it was shut down on November 30. So why wait? Why did Apple not offer Apple Music right out of the gate? “It’s important to get the integration right the first time out,” [Apple software and services veep Eddy] Cue told BuzzFeed News. “Apple has a high bar for this stuff; So does Sonos. Apple Music isn’t even six months old yet, so this really did not take much time at all.”

Here’s the signup for the beta. Personally, this is the Christmas present I really want.
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Application-ready deep neural net models » Deep Detect

Below are a range of deep neural network models that are free, even for commercial use in your applications. These models have been trained over images for a range of domains. Thus they should accomodate a range of applications, from fashion item recognition to sports and gender classification.

This page lists a growing list of available models, along with information on how to use them and how they were built.

If you have a business of any appreciable size which works on data, I’d suggest you should be investigating what a neural network could do. Even the simple result on the page is remarkable.
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Apple Watch and dissatisfaction » Tech.pinions

Ben Bajarin on the results from a Wrist.ly survey of people who gave up using their Watch:

Here are the top five reasons this group gave for giving up on the Apple Watch.

The most insightful part of this particular question was the follow on, fill in the blank area where 300 people who took the survey wrote a comment about the product. I read through them all and a number of things stood out. The biggest theme in the critiques was about performance. Many thought the Apple Watch was too slow, particularly around data retrieval and third party apps. The other was about battery. Many commented on their desire to have the watch face be visible at all times and not have to charge daily. Another interesting thread in the comments was the high number of people who said they would have liked it more if it was more independent from the iPhone. This is a similar thread to comments from our larger Wristly panel of satisfied owners. Another common thread I saw from this group was the price. Many who commented suggested the price was too high and we know from this panel 65% of those who responded bought a Sport. This indicates that even $349 felt too expensive for the value for this group.

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What would Earth’s skies look like with Saturn’s rings? » The Planetary Society

Illustrator and author Ron Miller specializes in, among other things, incredible visualizations of other worlds. He has rendered the surface of Titan, peered into black holes for Discover magazine, and designed a Pluto stamp that is currently hurtling toward the far reaches of our solar system aboard the New Horizons spacecraft.

Now, Miller brings his visualizations back to Earth for a series exploring what our skies would look like with Saturn’s majestic rings. Miller strived to make the images scientifically accurate, adding nice touches like orange-pink shadows resulting from sunlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. He also shows the rings from a variety of latitudes and landscapes, from the U.S. Capitol building to Mayan ruins in Guatemala.

We’ll start with Washington, D.C. and work our way southward.

These are very beautiful, and thought-provoking, images. Wish that a film like Interstellar had used something like them. (Is there a film of Ringworld in production? If not, why not?)
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Six Features That Allow Your PC To Do More Than Your Phone » About.com

Hilarious advertorial from Intel. See what you make of the six things, which are

• it offers a much larger screen
• It has uncompromised performance
• You don’t have to worry about paying for data
• It doesn’t skimp on software
• It’s upgradable and expandable
• There’s no middleman

Any of these alone could raise a laugh, but my favourite may be “you don’t have to worry about paying for data”. Intel magically makes data appear? Love it. Now let’s move on to our next entry…
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Can the MacBook Pro replace your iPad? » Fraser Speirs

Yes, you did read that headline correctly:

Despite their far greater size, and consequently weight, there is no MacBook Pro model that gets better battery life than the iPad Pro. You have to wonder about the efficiency of the Intel platform. The MacBook Pro line also requires device-specific chargers. Although most recent models use the MagSafe 2 connector, each model comes with its own rating of charger. Compared to the iPad Pro’s use of the widely-available Lightning connector and its ability to charge from small battery packs, this significantly reduces your chances of being able to just borrow a charger for a quick top-up when out and about. Not to mention the fact that none of those increasingly-common public charging lockers support MagSafe 2.

While we are on the subject, let’s talk about ports. The designers of the MacBook Pro seem to have gone port-crazy. The MacBook Pro takes up a lot of space on the sides of the device for ports that most people will likely not use very often: SD Card readers, HDMI connectors and even dual thunderbolt ports. Having multiple ports that do the same thing is probably confusing for many users, which is likely why you see newer designs like the 2015 MacBook moving closer to the iPad approach to connectivity with a single port for power and peripherals.

There’s a point at which trolling (and satire) are indistinguishable from real life. This is one of those times.
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BlackBerry exits Pakistan to avoid state’s email monitoring » Bloomberg Business

Faseeh Mangi:

BlackBerry Ltd. said it’s shutting its Pakistan operations to avoid allowing authorities in the nation to monitor its main business enterprise server and e-mail messages.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority notified the country’s mobile phone operators in July that BlackBerry’s BES servers would no longer be allowed to operate for security reasons, Marty Beard, chief operating officer at BlackBerry, said in a blog post on Monday. “The truth is that the Pakistani government wanted the ability to monitor all BES traffic.”

The regulator is still in talks with BlackBerry and “hopefully it’ll be sorted out,” Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Chairman S. Ismail Shah said by phone. The discussions will go on for a month and could be extended, he said.

Going to leave 5,000 BES customers there high and dry. What do Apple and Google do there, though?
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US Retail Black Friday report 2015 » IBM Commerce

Lots of data, such as:

• Consumers balance mobile and desktop shopping: consumers continued to shop via their mobile devices — mobile traffic exceeded desktop, accounting for 57.2% of all online traffic, an increase of 15.2% over 2014. Mobile sales were also strong, with 36.2% of all online sales coming from mobile devices, an increase of nearly 30% over last year.

• Tablets outspend desktops: for the first time, tablets’ average order value of $136.42 exceeded that of desktops, which ended the day at $134.06. Smartphone shoppers spent $121.06 per order, an increase of 4.3% over 2014.

• Smartphone shoppers dominate: smartphones remained the Black Friday shopper’s device of choice. Smartphones accounted for 44.7% of all online traffic, 3.5x that of tablets at 12.5%. Smartphones surpassed tablets in sales, driving 20.6% of online sales (up nearly 75% over 2014) versus tablets at 15.5%.

Of course tablets aren’t used for “real work”. Also some data about iOS/Android split in spending terms – which goes as you might expect.
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Lost in music: the world of obsessive audiophilia » The Guardian

Jonathan Margolis:

although I have been immersed in this world for 25 years, I still don’t quite know who buys the stuff. Hi-fi stores are often in modest, ordinary towns and suburbs. Who is it in Crewe that is spending the price of a very nice new car on speaker wires?

Some of the enthusiasts, of course, are the rich and famous. Douglas Adams had a system in his Islington home that reputedly cost £25,000. The crime writer Ian Rankin is an aficionado, having been a hi-fi reviewer in the 1980s. Celebrity physicist Brian Cox reportedly loves “high end” hi-fi. And the internet says Frank Zappa was big on it, along with Clint Eastwood and Hugh Laurie – and that Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has a system by Naim, a Salisbury manufacturer.

In a proper hi-fi dealer, Richer Sounds included, you can buy a good system of parts from various manufacturers for as little as £1,000. The bits won’t match, though – heaven forbid they should look nice. None of it will have what hi-fi men call WAF – Wife Acceptance Factor.

Yep this is a thing. Non-ironic. I believe.

Women broadly have too much sense to be audiophiles…

…my wife believes hi-fi is the male version of wrinkle cream – dubious claims, expensive prices, results only apparent to the buyer.

I think his wife is right on the money.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: