Start up: Scrivener on iOS!, how Twitter should improve, Skype’s odd cloud move, Windows 10’s data problem, and more

Android tablets: where are they going? Photo by fsse8info on Flickr.

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

It’s here! Scrivener for iOS is now available! • The Cellar Door


Scrivener for iOS is now available for sale on the App Store. At the time of writing, it is not yet showing up in searches on the App Store, as it can take several hours for Apple’s records to update. However, you can find it by following this link:

If you tap on the above link on your iOS device, it will take you to Scrivener in the App Store.


This isn’t a 99p thing – but Scrivener is a terrific app on desktop for longform writing of all sorts, and beta testers have had good words to say about this.
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Skype finalizes its move to the cloud, ignores the elephant in the room • Ars Technica

Peter Bright:


As well as addressing certain constraints of the peer-to-peer network, the new cloud-based system is used to underpin various other Skype features. For example, on the peer-to-peer network file transfers required the recipient to be present and to accept the transfer (with the file subsequently transported directly between the clients). File transfers on the new network go via the cloud, allowing fire-and-forget transfers, even to recipients that are temporarily away. This also allows a file to be downloaded by multiple recipients, or by the same recipient on multiple systems, without needing it to be retransmitted from the sender each time. The new voice and video messaging capabilities operate similarly, using cloud storage to hold voice and video messages even when the receiving client isn’t available.

New clients, including both the new UWP Windows client and the new Linux and Web client are built for the new network.

But what is most telling here is not what Microsoft’s blog post says. It is what it doesn’t say.

The Ed Snowden leaks raised substantial questions about the privacy of services such as Skype and have caused an increasing interest in platforms that offer end-to-end encryption. The ability to intercept or wiretap Skype came as a shock to many, especially given Skype’s traditionally peer-to-peer infrastructure. Accordingly, we’ve seen similar services such as iMessage, WhatsApp, and even Facebook Messenger, start introducing end-to-end encryption.

The abandonment of Skype’s peer-to-peer system can only raise suspicions here.


This is odd, given how robustly Microsoft fought to defend email stored on a server outside the US from US examination. But it’s also inarguable: the cloud-based system is worse than a peer-to-peer one for security.
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Firefox to banish hidden Flash files – and kill off sneaky ad snoopers • The Register

Shaun Nichols:


Firefox will in the coming months automatically block invisible Flash content that users cannot see when loading a page, says Mozilla as it continues its campaign against Adobe’s plugin.

This should protect netizens from dodgy webpages that load hidden malicious Flash files that attempt to infect their computers with malware or perform similar devilish deeds.

It should also kill off unseen content that pointlessly drains devices’ battery lives. The open-source browser maker will also automatically block advertisers’ Flash scripts that snoop on surfers to make sure they are not blocking or ignoring ads.

This is ahead of a 2017 update that will see Firefox block all Flash content by default – meaning users will have to manually click on the Flash content to confirm that they want to view it.

Websites are urged to move from Flash to HTML5 for their multimedia content wherever possible. According to Mozilla, its browser has encountering fewer crashes since sites have started serving HTML5 media rather than Flash.


Still too slow. Flash honestly isn’t necessary except in a few edge cases. Try it: delete it from your desktop/laptop; if a site asks for it, change your browser agent to “iPad”. You’ll be fine.
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Windows 10 personal data collection is excessive, French privacy watchdog warns | PCWorld

Peter Sayer:


Windows 10 breaches French law by collecting too much personal information from users and failing to secure it adequately, according to the French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL).

Some of the privacy failings identified can be remedied by users willing to delve deep into the Windows 10 settings, but one of the commission’s gripes is that better privacy should be the default setting, not one users must fight for.

CNIL served Microsoft with a formal notice on June 30, giving it three months to comply with the law, but only made it public on Wednesday.

The commission conducted seven tests of the data sent back to Microsoft by Windows 10 in April and June of this year. Among Microsoft’s faux pas was the collection of data about all the apps downloaded and installed on a system, and the time spent on each one, a process CNIL said was both excessive and unnecessary.


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US Army Special Forces to dump Galaxy Note II for iPhone 6S because iPhones are “faster” • Android Police

David Ruddock on that story from yesterday:


In what I am tempted to say may be the stupidest news I’ve read all morning (give me an hour, though, I just grabbed my coffee), the US Army’s Special Operations Command is allegedly dumping its current Nett Warrior embedded tactical smartphone solution – a 4-year-old Galaxy Note II – for an iPhone 6S. Because, and I quote DoDBuzz’s source here, the iPhone is “faster; smoother. Android freezes up.” Wait, you’re telling me a smartphone that’s four years old trying to run a specialized government app isn’t very fast or stable? I am shocked, sir – simply taken aback!


When you put it like that.. why didn’t the US SOC go with the newer Galaxy Note?
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What I want out of Twitter • Whatever

John Scalzi, in February 2016: T


witter’s major issue, as everyone except apparently Twitter’s C-bench knows, is that there are a bunch of shitheads on it who like to roll up to whomever they see as targets (often women and/or people in marginalized groups) and dogpile on them. That’s no good.

I get my own fair share of jerks trying to make my Twitter existence miserable, so over time I’ve developed some strategies to trim those down. The problem here is that they require me to be an expert Twitter user, and do things like use a Twitter client with more features than the native web/mobile interface, and also simply to make rules in terms of interaction that don’t involve Twitter at all (see: the Scamperbeasts Rule). It also requires me to have a certain level of “don’t give a fuck” attitude, which fortunately I have.

But then, I’m a well-off straight white dude, and I can laugh off some mouth breather saying stupid things to me. If I were a woman and getting a constant stream of rape and death threats, I’m not sure I could do that, and I’m not sure that I should be required to be an “expert” user not to have to see this stuff. More to the point, this shit exists on Twitter because the assholes know it’s hard to filter it out; they know their target has to see it first to block or mute it.

I think it’s fine if Twitter’s philosophy is that everyone, including complete shitbags, have a right to an account on the service. But I think it would be useful if Twitter also incorporated into its philosophy, far more robustly than it has, that everyone is allowed to decide who is allowed to impinge on their time, and timeline.


He has some excellent suggestions, including filtering based on account age (new ones don’t show through) and shared mute/block lists.
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As global tablet market tumbles, PC brands develop survival tactics to cope • ABI Research


Downward trends in tablet shipments, with Apple and Samsung YoY shipments falling from 62% to 54% as the market shrinks, are forcing PC brands to strategize survival tactics for their product portfolios, finds ABI Research. While Amazon and Huawei will focus on tablets despite the dwindling figures, not all vendors share this mentality. Dell and HP, for instance, made the decision to shy away from the tablet market and will instead concentrate on providing 2-in-1 systems based on Windows.

“Amazon and Huawei may successfully buck the trend, but each company is taking a drastically different stance on how to best accomplish this,” says David McQueen, Research Director at ABI Research. “Amazon managed to move away from raising revenue through hardware to recurring digital content sales, but Huawei, and even Lenovo for that matter, are instead looking to form a wider product suite that includes tablets in addition to their legacy PC and smartphone products.”

Xiaomi also plans to follow in Huawei and Lenovo’s footsteps, recently announcing a tie-up with Microsoft to ship Microsoft Office and Skype on Xiaomi’s Android smartphones and tablets.


Notable in yesterday’s Microsoft results: “lower revenues from patent licensing”, ie from Android vendors. Wonder if the Office/Skype inclusion is the quid pro quo – and if it is, how well it’s converting. I can’t imagine many Xiaomi customers eagerly signing up for an Office subscription.
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Exploring the App Store’s top grossing chart • MacStories

Graham Spencer:


Diving in a little deeper, we can see that the IAPs offered range from $0.99, all the way up to $399.99.1 Unsurprisingly, a large proportion of the IAPs are in the $0.99-$19.99 price range. But you’ll also notice huge spikes at $99.99, $49.99, and $29.99.

Games dominate the Top 200 Grossing charts, representing an overwhelming majority of 68% of the apps. The next closest is Social Networking at just 11% and comprised mainly of various dating apps. This is followed by Music at 7% (a mix of music streaming and music creation apps) and Entertainment at 5% (a variety of streaming video apps, mostly).


I really hope Spencer was able to do this in an automated fashion. Note that this barely overlaps with the introduction of Pokemon Go. And the $400 IAP? A “forever subscription” to Headspace.
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Google DeepMind AI to be in all of Google’s data centres by end of 2016 • Business Insider

Sam Shead:


Google has adopted a DeepMind AI system in several of its data centres over the last few months as a way of reducing the amount of energy the server farms consume. However, the full extent of Google’s plans for the software are only just becoming clear.

“It [DeepMind’s AI] will be in the entire fleet by the end of the year,” DeepMind cofounder Mustafa Suleyman told Business Insider on Wednesday. “That will result in a 15% reduction on energy used every year by the entire data centre fleet.”

…every time a user engages with one of [Google’s[ services, a server is spun up and heat is produced that ultimately needs to be removed by an energy-consuming cooling system.

In order to lower the energy consumption of Google’s cooling systems, DeepMind analysed five years worth of Google data centre records that have been collected by sensors measuring variables like temperature, compute load, air pressure, and fan speed.

“We used that to predict what the optimal settings are for controlling the cooling system, which can be thought of as a very complex air conditioning unit that tries to extract heat from the data centre.”

After looking at the data, Google’s self-learning algorithm was able to figure out the best times to use the cooling fans. “We can optimally turn up the fan when we need to and not waste energy on over cooling when we don’t need to,” said Suleyman.


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1 thought on “Start up: Scrivener on iOS!, how Twitter should improve, Skype’s odd cloud move, Windows 10’s data problem, and more

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