Start up: the American iPhone?, China’s dying satellite, Snapchat’s filter fiddle, spammer jailed, and more

Sure, he’s good with a light sabre. But can Star Wars denizens read and write? Photo by Eva Rinaldi on Flickr.

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A selection of 12 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

The all-American iPhone • MIT Tech Review

Konstantin Kakaes:

»imagine that Apple persuaded one of its Chinese manufacturers to open factories in the United States or did that itself. Could it work? Apple could profitably produce iPhones in America, as some high-end Mac computers are produced, without making them much more expensive. There’s a catch, though, that undermines Trump’s and Sanders’s arguments. This becomes clear if you carry our thought experiment to its most extreme conclusion.

«

It’s impossible because the US just doesn’t have the infrastructure or labour force to offer the factories and supply chain close enough to make this viable at the volumes in which Apple offers the iPhone. You can make some of them, but not all of them.
link to this extract

 


With watchOS 3, Apple Watch gets a do-over • Six Colors

Jason Snell:

»I wear an Apple Watch every day and I can’t tell you how excited I am at the prospect of using watchOS 3. It’s truly Apple’s second take on how the Apple Watch should work, based on a year of real-world use by millions of people.

It’s tough to admit that you were wrong. With watchOS 3, that’s what Apple is doing on numerous fronts. I get why someone might have thought that using the watch’s side button as a gateway to a miniature contacts list was a good idea, but in practice it was readily apparent to be a misguided use of one of the device’s only physical controls. watchOS 3 admits the mistake and re-tasks that button for something far better: a dock of important apps, already loaded and ready to run.

Sometimes you’re wrong because you have an idea that you think will work, but it just doesn’t come together or mesh with the way people want to use your product. I think that’s what happened with the Friends button. Reality collided with that vision, and reality has won. (Full credit to Apple here: I thought it was distinctly possible that they’d double down and try to tweak the Friends view rather than kill it.)

«

Definitely; I can count the number of times I’ve used the “contacts” side button during the past year on the hands of two hands.
link to this extract

 


How Yahoo derailed Tumblr • Mashable

Seth Fiegerman:

»Top Yahoo executives clashed with Tumblr, or just flat out confused employees. On one occasion, an executive overseeing Karp and his division perplexed employees by saying he thought Tumblr had the potential to “create the next generation PDF,” according to multiple sources. At other times, a top Yahoo sales exec spoke down to Tumblr’s advertising team and pushed aside a beloved leader, according to multiple employees. Tumblr staffers fled by the dozens, cutting into the company’s momentum and morale.

Yahoo tried to make things right a year later by separating the ad teams again, but the damage was done.

Tumblr has fallen out of the top 100 list of free iOS apps in the U.S. as of the beginning of June, according to data from AppAnnie, an app analytics service. Research firm eMarketer projects that “the gap [in users] between Tumblr and its competitors will widen through 2020.”

In short, Tumblr is no longer the hot new thing for consumers – or marketers.

«

It’s a familiar story, well-told by Fiegerman. Not even Mayer has been able to stop Yahoo’s careening ad culture, which drives all before it into the sea.
link to this extract

 


Is Snapchat stealing for its filters? • The Ringer

Molly McHugh:

»Since discovering the Snapchat filter that resembled her work, Mykie has become an advocate for other artists in a similar position. But she’s still attempting to work with Snapchat. “Most recently their support team has not responded to my tweets [as well as tweets from others] wanting answers on this recurring issue,” she told me via email. “I also filed a report through the app with my particular case when the filter first appeared and their response was that they ‘Don’t believe that the filter infringes any copyright.’ That would ultimately be up to a judge to decide if the work had been altered enough to count as a new work.” As in Pinal’s case, the filter disappeared soon after Mykie posted evidence of the app’s copycat work to her Instagram feed.

Graphic artists have long seen their work lifted and reused in various ways — a Target T-shirt here, an Urban Outfitters print there. Artist Lois van Baarle says that Snapchat repurposed her work as a sticker, which she noticed “purely by coincidence” while installing the app for the first time.

«

Snapchat subsequently responded, basically fessing up. It’s the usual Silicon Valley saying – better to ask forgiveness than permission.
link to this extract

 


Chinese borrowers told to post nude photos as collateral • FT.com

Lucy Hornby:

»Chinese loan sharks are demanding nude photos as collateral from female borrowers which can be used for blackmail if they fall behind on their repayments.

The aggressive tactics are an example of the drastic debt recovery measures that are being employed in the slowing Chinese economy.

The democratisation of finance in China via peer-to-peer lenders and the vast shadow banking system, with interest rates sometimes topping 30%, have proved an inflammatory mix and fuelled a surge in souring loans.

Female college students in the southern province of Guangdong were told to hand over naked photos of themselves holding their ID cards, with lenders threatening to make them public if they failed to repay their microloans, according to the Nandu Daily, the local newspaper.

While these loans were brokered on Jiedaibao, the P2P online lending platform denied direct involvement as the two parties subsequently agreed terms over another channel. “This is an illegal offline trade between victims and lenders who did it by making use of the platform,” a representative said when contacted by the Financial Times.

«

link to this extract

 


Verizon Moto Z Moto Mods pricing details leak: definitely not cheap • Tech Times

Alexandra Burlacu:

»The leak surfaced on Reddit, purportedly showing the Moto Mods’ prices as listed on the My Verizon app. According to the screenshots posted on image-hosting website Imgur, the alleged Moto Mods prices are as follows:

The Insta-Share Projector will apparently require a hefty investment of $299, the TUMI Wireless Charging Power Pack will cost $99, the TUMI Power Pack will be $89, the JBL SoundBoost will cost $79.99, while the Kate Spade shell will retail at $79.

In other words, it seems like none of the Moto Mods will be cheaper than $79, which basically shuts down any expectations of affordable modules for the Moto Z.

LG already received criticism over its pricing scheme for the LG Friends modules for the G5 flagship, but Motorola fans hoped the Moto Mods would be more decently priced.

The Insta-Share projector, for instance, sounds like a decent gadget for a smartphone although it only has a 50-lumen projection output and a 1,100 mAh battery, but at $300 it seems awfully overpriced.

«

This stuff always looks expensive compared to the phone; that’s how integration works out. (That’s also why Project Ara hasn’t got a hope of being affordable.)
link to this extract

 


Guccifer 2.0 DNC’s servers hacked by a lone hacker • GUCCIFER 2.0

»Guccifer may have been the first one who penetrated Hillary Clinton’s and other Democrats’ mail servers. But he certainly wasn’t the last. No wonder any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC’s servers.

Shame on CrowdStrike: Do you think I’ve been in the DNC’s networks for almost a year and saved only 2 documents? Do you really believe it?

Here are just a few docs from many thousands I extracted when hacking into DNC’s network.

They mentioned a leaked database on Donald Trump. Did they mean this one?

«

One always wonders about people who refer to themselves in the third person. But these look pretty legit. (I’d be wary of downloading them even so unless you’re certain of your antivirus.)
link to this extract

 


“Spam King,” who defied nearly $1B in default judgments, sentenced to 2.5 years • Ars Technica

Cyrus Farivar:

»A Las Vegas man known as the “Spam King” was sentenced Monday to 2.5 years in federal prison. He pleaded guilty last year to one count of fraud.

The federal judge in San Jose, California also ordered Sanford Wallace to pay over $310,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors wrote that by his own admission, Wallace executed “a scheme from approximately November 2008 through March 2009 to send spam messages to Facebook users that compromised approximately 500,000 legitimate Facebook accounts, and resulted in over 27 million spam messages being sent through Facebook’s servers.”

«

Wallace is spam-famous back to the 1990s; constantly annoying, not giving a damn about anyone. Even 36 months isn’t going to make much difference, I’d wager. There’s a book extract about him here.
link to this extract

 


Introducing the Internet Creators Guild • Medium

Hank Green, “internetainerpreneur”:

»I started paying my bills with YouTube money around the time I hit a million views a month. My content was admittedly low budget and “views” isn’t necessarily the best metric (what it means changes drastically based on platform), but I want you to take a guess at how many YouTube channels now get more than a million views a month? A couple hundred? A thousand?

How about 37,000.

For context, Facebook has 12,000 employees.

At 100,000 views a month, you’re still making a fairly significant bit of income from YouTube. If you can do it consistently, about $2,500 per year. How many people hit that barrier this month?
300,000.

Gone are the days when every successful creator got their own New York Times profile. Nowadays, professional internet creator is just another job…a job that thousands of new people have every month. If “internet creator” were a company, it would be hiring faster than any company in silicon valley…

…There is no system for protecting creators, many of whom have no experience in any industry, let alone the notoriously cut-throat entertainment industry. I’m ten years into this and I kinda can’t believe that there’s still no centralized organization representing creators.

«

link to this extract

 


Amazon’s high hopes for Echo sales • The Information

Amir Efrati:

»Amazon is hoping to sell as many as 10 million of its voice-activated Echo devices next year, which would make it a roughly $1 billion hardware business, according to a person with direct knowledge of the projections.

That would be an increase from the 3 million units Amazon hopes to sell this year—a number that was projected before the beginning of the year, said the person, who doesn’t have access to actual sales figures. That’s up from 1 million devices Amazon is thought to have sold in the latter half of 2015, after it became widely available in the US. Amazon hasn’t released sales figures for the device.

As a comparison, Apple’s video-streaming device Apple TV sold 25 million units between its 2007 launch and the end of 2014, Apple has said. Google’s cheaper video-streaming device, Chromecast, sold 10 million during its first year and a half on the market, starting in mid-2013.

The 10 million mark is one that Amazon believes will open the floodgates for the voice-controlled speaker category, this person said. That would help the broader “smart home” industry because such a speaker can act as a hub to control other web-connected devices in the home.

But Echo will soon face more competition.

«

To hit that 10m mark, Amazon would have to start selling outside the US, and until it starts working in languages other than English, that would mean its only real target market would be the UK. I’m not sure about the level of demand for this.
link to this extract

 


When will China’s ‘Heavenly Palace’ space lab fall back to earth? • Space.com

Leonard David:

»A Chinese space lab is bound to come back to Earth relatively soon, but when and where this happens is a matter of debate and speculation.

For example, some satellite trackers think China may have lost control of the uncrewed 8-ton (7.3 metric tons) vehicle, which is called Tiangong-1. That’s the view of Thomas Dorman, who has been documenting flyovers of the spacecraft using telescopes, binoculars, video and still cameras, a DVD recorder, a computer and other gear.

“If I am right, China will wait until the last minute to let the world know it has a problem with their space station,” Dorman told Space.com. [See photos of China’s Tiangong-1 space lab]

“It could be a real bad day if pieces of this came down in a populated area … but odds are, it will land in the ocean or in an unpopulated area,” added Dorman, an amateur satellite tracker who has been keeping tabs on Tiangong-1 from El Paso, Texas since the space lab’s September 2011 launch. “But remember — sometimes, the odds just do not work out, so this may bear watching.”

«

link to this extract

 


Most citizens of the Star Wars galaxy are probably totally illiterate • Tor.com

Ryan Britt:

»Attack of the Clones sees Obi-Wan Kenobi go to the Jedi Library, but again, this research facility seems less about books and more about pretty colors, interactive holographic maps, etc. The amount of actual reading even someone like Obi-Wan does is still limited. Now, I imagine Jedi can probably read and are taught to read, as are rich people like Princess Leia and Padme Amidala and Jimmy Smits. But everything in Star Wars is about video chat via holograms, or verbal communication through com-links. Nobody texts in Star Wars!

It seems like this society has slipped into a kind of highly functional illiteracy. Surely, for these cultures to progress and become spacefaring entities, they needed written language at some point. But now, the necessity to actually learn reading and writing is fading away. Those who know how to build and repair droids and computers probably have better jobs than those who can’t. This is why there seems to be so much poverty in Star Wars: widespread ignorance.

The idea of education becoming obsolete due to cultural changes isn’t without a science fiction precedent. In the Star Trek pilot “The Cage,” Vina speaks of a culture that “forgets how to repair the machines left behind by their ancestors.” I’m postulating that the same thing happened with literacy in the Star Wars galaxy. People stopped using the written word, because they didn’t need to, and it slipped away from being a commonly held skill.

«

If the Star Wars films were documentaries, this would make sense. But they’re films, and a scene showing someone texting is high up there with the most boring things to show. Film is all about “show, don’t tell”; reading is about tell.

It’s an interesting point though about what a functionally illiterate society *might* look like, though. (Via Charles Knight.)
link to this extract

 


Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida:

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