Start up: more Google tax, LinkedIn’s problem, Apple’s 1970s fix, and more

HTC’s Vive pricing is surprisingly low. Is that good? Photo by theAV club on Flickr.

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A selection of 11 links for you. Just like that. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

LinkedIn problems run deeper than valuation » TechCrunch

Daniel Kimmelman, noting how the site’s stock has plummeted, sees other problems:

»LinkedIn is not, in fact, a business network — individuals on LinkedIn represent themselves, not their businesses. And as LinkedIn’s content is mostly user-generated, the incentive is for the users to produce material that promotes themselves.

This creates a conflict. Most people aren’t looking to change jobs all the time. Instead, they want to communicate and build relationships. However, because LinkedIn’s revenue streams and design restrict typical business forms of communication and facilitate paid ones, most interactions on the platform are low-frequency and one-directional in nature, such as recruitment offers and sales pitches.

As a result, LinkedIn is now, at best, a business card holder. At worst, it’s a delivery service for spam.


link to this extract


Google’s new SERP layout: the biggest winners and losers » Search Engine Land

Larry Kim on Google’s new layout, which puts four ads above the organic search results and gets rid of the ones on the side:

»As always, Google is a zero-sum game. For everyone who wins, someone must lose. In that spirit, I’ve compiled a list of the four biggest winners and losers as a result of Google’s new desktop ad layout so far.

The proof is in the data. I looked at WordStream customer data (thousands of accounts across all industries) and determined that side and bottom ads account for just 14.6% of total clicks.

As Alistair Dent noted in his post analyzing iProspect UK clients, ads in the top positions get 14x higher click-through rate than the same ad on the same keyword on the right side.

It’s also important to remember that this change only impacts desktop, which now accounts for less than half of all searches. So, really, this will impact 7.3% of queries.


Those low numbers for side clicks suggests that people saw them as ads, whereas they don’t with the ads sitting on the top.
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Google unpaid taxes: France seeks €1.6bn from search giant » BBC News

»French authorities have demanded that Google pays €1.6bn ($1.8bn; £1.3bn) in unpaid taxes.
The figure is substantially more than the £130m the search engine agreed to pay in back taxes to UK authorities.

However, France’s AFP news agency reported that Google might be able to negotiate and may not pay the full sum.

The company’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, is visiting Paris and was due to meet the France’s economy minister Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday night. It is not clear if they will discuss the tax issue.

Earlier this month, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin ruled out striking a deal with the US company.

Google would not comment on reports of the tax demand and French officials said the matter was confidential.


link to this extract


Who hit you, HP Inc? ‘Windows 10! It’s all Windows 10’s fault’ » The Register

Chris Williams:

»HP Ink – the PC and printers half of the Hewlett-Packard split – has blamed Windows 10 for a ho-hum quarter of declining sales.

“Windows 10 is a tremendous operating system platform,” HP Ink CEO Dion Weisler told analysts and investors on a conference call on Wednesday afternoon. “But we have not yet seen the anticipated Win10 stimulation of demand that we would hope for.”

Weisler was speaking about an hour after his company published the financial figures [PDF] for the first three months of its fiscal 2016 year. It’s HP Ink’s first quarter as a standalone company since the Great HP Split of 2015.

We were told Microsoft’s software hasn’t, so far, apparently, spurred enough people into buying HP-branded PCs. Well, that may explain the 13% fall in the company’s personal systems revenues. But how about its printers, though? People love printers, right? Always buying them. Always having fun on cold Sunday evenings reinstalling drivers. Unjamming the paper trays. Buying new cartridges. Revenues fell 17 per cent. Ah.


HP Inc (as it’s formally called, but HP Ink is much better) is a ship let loose and quietly coasting towards oblivion.
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How to disable ads on your Windows 10 lock screen » How-To Geek

Chris Stobling:

»If you’re like me, you might have opened up your Windows 10 laptop today only to see a giant ad for Square Enix’s Rise of the Tomb Raider plastered across your login screen. This is the work of the “Windows Spotlight” feature in your Personalization settings, and thankfully, you can turn it off for good.


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What does it take to be a “bestselling author” on Amazon? $3 and five minutes » Observer

Brent Underwood:

»I would like to tell you about the biggest lie in book publishing. It appears in the biographies and social media profiles of almost every working “author” today. It’s the word “best seller.”

This isn’t about how The New York Times list is biased (though it is). This isn’t about how authors buy their way onto various national best-seller lists by buying their own books in bulk (though they do). No, this is about the far more insidious title of “Amazon Bestseller”—and how it’s complete and utter nonsense.

Here’s what happened in the book industry over the last few years: As Amazon has become the big dog in the book world, the “Amazon Bestseller” status has come to be synonymous with being an actual bestseller. This is not true, and I can prove it.


I added the “on Amazon” part to the headline, because it’s not in the original, and that’s misleading – as misleading as Amazon’s “bestseller” lists. Amazon’s bestseller lists on pretty much every product are indicative of nothing more general than what is selling best on Amazon; it doesn’t tell you about national or other trends, for the most part.

But what Underwood describes is pretty dire. He also wonders why Nielsen Bookscan doesn’t include ebooks. As I understand it, that’s because Amazon won’t share the data. It’s all Bezos charts as far as the eye can see.
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HTC Vive pricing lower than expected » Digitimes

Max Wang and Steve Shen:

»HTC has set the price for the consumer edition of its first virtual reality (VR) headset, the HTC Vive, at US$799, which is much lower than market expectation of US$1,500.

HTC will take pre-sale orders globally on February 29 with full commercial availability starting early April, the company said.

The Vive, which is bundled with SteamVR, will be delivered as a complete kit allowing users to instantly jump into a fully immersive virtual environment using two wireless controllers, 360 degree tracking and room scale movement sensors, HTC added.


I don’t see this ending well for HTC. It needs revenue, and moreover it needs profitable revenue. Selling at a lower price might juice the market, but at present it can command a premium price simply because it’s new. Google Cardboard, Samsung VR? They’re cheap. Oculus Rift is a competitor, and its bundle costs $1,500.
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In 2016, 14% of users are blocking ads » Medium

Rob Leathern:

» is building an adblocking service to help consumers, and we also give major websites tools to measure the rate at which users are blocking ads on their pages.

Below is a summary of data we’ve collected anonymously from over 30 million users from 1/1/16 to 2/13/16. We plan to release more aggregate information in the near future, especially to understand the many differences between mobile and desktop ad blocking. On this latter point for now I will only say that desktop adblocking is approximately 10x more prevalent than mobile adblocking (for the time being).


11.7% in the US; 16% in the UK. Poland, Ukraine, Greece, Czech Republic are way above, in the 25-30% range.
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Apple files motion to dismiss the court order to force it to unlock iPhone » Techcrunch

Matthew Panzarino:

»Apple’s reasoning in the brief rests on three pillars. First, that forcing Apple to write code that weakens its devices and the security of its customers constitutes a violation of free speech as protected by the Constitution.

Second, that the burden the FBI is putting on it by requesting that Apple write the software and assist in unlocking the device is too large. Apple argues that it would have to create the new version of iOS, called GovtOS, which requires coding, signing, verification and testing. It would then have to create an FBI forensics laboratory on site at its headquarters and staff it. The burden would then extend to what Apple views is the inevitable onslaught of additional devices that would follow after the precedent was set.

In addition to free speech, Apple argues that the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process clause prohibits the government from compelling Apple to create the new version of iOS. Apple argues that there is no court precedent for forcing a company to create something new, like GovtOS.


Covered the First Amendment element here previously.

Or read the whole filing.
link to this extract


Latest iOS 9.3 beta unbricks iPhones affected by ‘January 1, 1970’ date bug » Mac Rumors

Juli Clover:

»The most recent beta of iOS 9.3, provided to developers and public beta testers earlier this week, fixes a bug that caused 64-bit iPhones and iPads to be disabled or “bricked” when the date was set to January 1, 1970.

Discovered in mid-February, the “1970” bug occurs whenever an iOS device’s date is manually set to 1970, resulting in a continuous reboot cycle. Speculation has suggested the reboot loop is the result of an integer underflow that causes the iPhone to reset the date to the maximum value, a huge number that iOS devices may be unable to process.

With iOS 9.3 beta 4, the date on the iPhone or iPad can’t be set beyond December 31, 2000 at 7:00 p.m. ET, which equates to 1/1/01 at 12:00 a.m. GMT. That effectively puts an end to the 1970 bug, which was used to trick some people into bricking their devices.


God Apple is being so BORING. First it fixes “error 53”, then it let people carry on using the Pencil to navigate on the iPad Pro, and now this.
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Health » Google DeepMind

»We have been collaborating with some of the UK’s leading kidney experts at the Royal Free Hospital London to co-design and pilot a mobile app, called Streams, which presents timely information that helps nurses and doctors detect cases of acute kidney injury. AKI is a contributing factor in up to 20% of emergency hospital admissions as well as 40,000 deaths in the UK every year. Yet NHS England estimate that around 25% of cases are preventable.

Consultant Nephrologist and Associate Medical Director for patient safety at the Royal Free Hospital London, Dr Chris Laing, who helped design the app and oversaw two initial pilots at the Royal Free, said:

“Using Streams meant I was able to review blood tests for patients at risk of AKI within seconds of them becoming available. I intervened earlier and was able to improve the care of over half the patients Streams identified in our pilot studies.”


Really interesting. AI is a sort of “rising tide” technology: you don’t notice it changing your world, until the world is utterly changed and you find yourself thinking “however did we cope before?”
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: not all Nissan LEAF cars have remote access for operating their air conditioning or checking their battery. (Thanks, Richard Burte.)

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