Start up: Samsung’s US chance, Google’s RTBF extension, hacking Isil, bionic feels!, and more

The world of professional bridge is struggling with accusations of cheating. But how do you prevent people communicating in code, if they can communicate? Photo by jaxx2kde on Flickr.

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

Sizing the US opportunity for Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 edge » Kantar Worldpanel

Carolina Milanesi:

»By the end of January [2016], the Galaxy S6 represented only 9% of Samsung’s installed base in the US, and the Galaxy S6 edge a mere 2%. The Galaxy S5 remained the most popular device in the installed base, representing 21.5% followed by the Galaxy S4 – now a three-year-old phone – at 14.2%.

Between February 2015 and January 2016, only 26% of Samsung smartphones in use were upgraded. This creates a huge opportunity for Samsung to persuade consumers it is time to upgrade to the new devices.

Of the 26% of Samsung devices that were upgraded, the greatest percentage (27.5%) chose the Galaxy S5, 26.2% the Galaxy S6: 9.4% the Galaxy Note 4: 7.9% the Galaxy Note 5: and 5% the Galaxy S6 edge. The rest of the upgrades were divided among 33 different models, demonstrating how wide the Samsung offering remains in the US market, despite all the attention being given to its flagship products.

Only 3.6% of current Galaxy S6 owners said they are planning to upgrade their smartphone in the next 12 months. This should not worry Samsung, however, as we have shown that a significant opportunity remains among owners of older phones, making them a much easier target for the Korean brand.

«

Suggests that the S6 and S6 Edge really weren’t a big hit, as the S4 has a higher share than both together.
link to this extract

 


Dirty hands » The New Yorker

David Owen, with a fantastic piece about cheating in the world of professional bridge:

»When Brogeland made his first announcement, his evidence against Fisher and Schwartz consisted solely of what he believed to be a collection of suspicious hands; he still didn’t know how they might be exchanging information. A few days later, he created a new Web site, called Bridgecheaters.com, and posted three YouTube videos from the 2014 European Team Championships, which Fisher and Schwartz’s team had won. Each video had been shot from a camera mounted near the table. It showed all four players, as well as the table paraphernalia of modern tournament bridge: four bidding boxes (containing each player’s pre-printed bidding cards); a felt-covered bidding tray (on which the players place bidding cards before sliding it back under the screen); and a plastic duplicate board (a flat, rectangular box in which four pre-dealt hands have been delivered to the table). Brogeland asked for help from other players, and the search for evidence immediately became a collaborative international project.

«

As you read it, you realise that every human element in bridge – speaking, coughing, card movement, any physical movement – makes it feasible to create a code to cheat; the only way to prevent it would be to have people playing via screen, without words or gestures. Which would take away everything that might make it fun.
link to this extract

 


Google finally extends right-to-be-forgotten rules to all search sites, including dot-com » Ars Technica UK

Kelly Fiveash:

»Google has responded to European Union data watchdogs by expanding its right-to-be-forgotten rules to apply to its search websites across the globe.

In 2014, search engines were ordered by Europe’s top court to scrub certain listings on their indexes. Google—which commands roughly 90 percent of the search market in the EU—claimed at the time that such measures amounted to censorship of the Internet.

However, the landmark European Court of Justice ruling in fact stated that search engines were required to remove links that are old, out of date or irrelevant, and—most significantly of all—not found to be in the public interest.

Indeed, the right-to-be-forgotten may seem evocative to privacy campaigners, but as the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has previously stated, “there is no absolute right [under the ruling] to have information removed.”

«

Google’s blogpost on the topic says “We’re changing our approach as a result of specific discussions that we’ve had with EU data protection regulators in recent months”. No mention of the swingeing fines the regulators threatened.
link to this extract

 


Bionic fingertip gives sense of touch to amputee » Reuters

Matthew Stock:

»A bionic fingertip has given an amputee the sensation of rough or smooth textures via electrodes implanted into nerves in his upper arm.

Scientists from EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and SSSA (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy) successfully allowed amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen to receive this sophisticated tactile information in real-time.

The research, published in science journal eLife, says Sørensen is the first person in the world to recognize texture using a bionic fingertip connected to electrodes surgically implanted above his stump.

The nerves in Sørensen’s arm were wired to a machine with the fingertip attached to it. The machine then controlled the movement of the fingertip over pieces of plastic engraved with different textures, either rough or smooth. When the fingertip moved across the plastic, its sensors generated an electrical signal which was translated into a series of electrical spikes that mimic the language of the nervous system. This was then delivered to Sørensen’s nerves.

«

Odd – and a little sad – how little of the billions washing around Silicon Valley are being used to set up companies to do things like this.
link to this extract

 


AlphaGo defeats Lee Sedol in first game of historic man vs machine match » Go Game Guru

You probably heard the news that Google’s DeepMind system AlphaGo beat the best player in the world. Here are the reactions of the pros (“9p” means “9-dan professional”, ie the highest level):

»Lee Changho 9p said,  “I’m so shocked by AlphaGo’s play!”

Meanwhile Cho Hanseung 9p remarked, “AlphaGo is much stronger than before, when it played against Fan Hui 2p! When Google said the odds were fifty-fifty, it seems they weren’t joking. I still can’t believe its performance even though I just saw it with my own eyes.”

In a post-game interview, Lee Sedol was visibly startled by AlphaGo’s strength. “I was so surprised. Actually, I never imagined that I would lose. It’s so shocking. Regarding the game, I got off to a bad start and AlphaGo played well right until the end. Even when I was behind, I still didn’t imagine that I’d lose. I didn’t think that it would be able to play such an excellent game. I heard that the DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis said that he respects me as a Go player, but I have great respect for both of them [referring to Demis Hassabis and Eric Schmidt] for making this amazing program. I also respect all the programmers who helped to make AlphaGo.”

«

The second game should finish around 0800 GMT on Thursday.
link to this extract

 


Exclusive: 1736 documents reveal ISIS jihadists personal data » Zaman Al Wasl

»Zaman Al Wasl has exclusively obtained the personal data of 1736 ISIS fighters from over 40 countries, including their backgrounds, nationalities and hometown addresses.

The document that branded by ISIS as confidential is shedding the light on the inner circle of the de facto a state which has its own institutions and official documents as well data bank.

Two thirds of ISIS manpower are from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. 25% of ISIS fighters are Saudis, the data disclosed.

While Turkish fighters are taking the lead among ISIS foreign fighters, French fighters come next.

Syrians are just 1.7 % of the total number of fighters. The Iraqis make 1.2.

Expert told Zaman al-Wasl that Iraqis and Jordanians can make the backbone of ISIS but most of them are based in Mosul and ISIS-controlled areas in Ramadi.

The most notably that ISIS fighters do not know the real names of their fellow fighters since they used to have code names, or names de guerre, and for security issues they have been obliged to follow high ranks of secrecy.

The documents have been written and organized by the General Administration of Borders, and ISIS commission that tracks all Jihadists data.

The data document is including 23 fields, starting with the Jihadist’s first name, last name, code name, date of birth and nationality. The jihadist who cross the the Islamic State’s borders for the first time is ought to acknowledge the Borders Administration everything about himself, even what he wants to be in ISIS, a fighter or a suicide bomber.

«

Hacking is damned annoying thing.
link to this extract

 


Maybe we could tone down the JavaScript » fuzzy notepad

Alex Munroe is kinda annoyed about pages which insist on a ton of Javascript:

»These aren’t cutting-edge interactive applications; they’re pages with text on them. We used to print those on paper, but as soon as we made the leap to computers, it became impossible to put words on a screen without executing several megabytes of custom junk?

I can almost hear the Hacker News comments now, about what a luddite I am for not thinking five paragraphs of static text need to be infested with a thousand lines of script. Well, let me say proactively: fuck all y’all. I think the Web is great, I think interactive dynamic stuff is great, and I think the progress we’ve made in the last decade is great. I also think it’s great that the Web is and always has been inherently customizable by users, and that I can use an extension that lets me decide ahead of time what an arbitrary site can run on my computer.

What’s less great is a team of highly-paid and highly-skilled people all using Chrome on a recent Mac Pro, developing in an office half a mile from almost every server they hit, then turning around and scoffing at people who don’t have exactly the same setup. Consider that any of the following might cause your JavaScript to not work:

• Someone is on a slow computer.
• Someone is on a slow connection.
• Someone is on a phone, i.e. a slow computer with a slow connection.
• Someone is stuck with an old browser on a computer they don’t control — at work, at school, in a library, etc.
• Someone is trying to write a small program that interacts with your site, which doesn’t have an API.

«

And he’s only just getting started.
link to this extract

 


How the smartphone shapes millennials’ online activities » Global Web Index

Chase Buckle:

»From a marketing perspective, the term Millennial is increasingly becoming synonymous with mobile. And for good reason – almost 90% own a smartphone and these internet users clock up on average over 3 hours per day online via mobiles (rising to over 4 hours in Latin America and the Middle East). That means they’re spending up to 5x longer per day online on mobile than older age groups.

Understandably, this enthusiasm for smartphones is having a huge impact on their online activities. Our latest research shows that Millennials overwhelmingly cite smartphones as their most important device for getting online, and we’re seeing more-and-more staple internet activities take place on mobile.

«

What I notice about the above graphic is that in the past month, about 76% used a search engine on mobile – and (slightly) more used a social network. By contrast on desktop, it would probably be 100% and 100%. Plus these are the millennials; for those who are older, both uses will be less. That search engine use is Google’s problem on mobile: lots of people don’t do search on a daily basis on mobile.
link to this extract

 


We need to save online journalism from ad blocking – and here’s how » Alphr

James O’Malley:

»Historically, journalism has had two major sources of income: Advertisers and readers. But now publishing is being squeezed from both ends. Thanks to the internet, and the explosion in ‘content’ (that’s what we call it now), people are very reticent to pay to read news, like they would have done for a print newspaper. And now thanks to ad-blockers, fewer people are looking at the adverts.

So what to do? How can a business model be found that will make journalism pay? Is there anything that can save this noble trade?

Bizarrely, the solution to this problem has already been invented. Six years ago. By one of the last people you’d expect to have an interest in paying people for their work.

Flattr was co-founded in 2010 by Peter Sunde, who is better known as one of the co-founders and former spokesperson for The Pirate Bay. Given that his website is responsible for distributing huge swathes of pirated content, you can’t help but wonder if Flattr was his attempt at atonement.

Flattr is a “microdonation” platform. The idea is that you sign up and allocate a fixed amount of cash to pay in every month – say £10 for the sake of argument – and then if you’re reading an article online that you like, you can click the “Flattr” button nestled amongst the existing social media sharing links. At the end of the month, your £10 is then divided up between the publishers of the articles that you’ve chosen to flattr. So if you flattr two articles, they earn £5 each. If you flattr ten, then each gets a pound. And so on.

The genius is that it solves the biggest problem with any micropayment system: Friction.

«

Neat idea. The problem now is just adoption by publishers and readers (and getting users of adblockers to see it in the first place).
link to this extract

 


Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida:

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