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A selection of 13 links for you. Luckily. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.
In a post published Thursday, the website Queer Europe detailed how easy it is to find any Grindr user’s location using an app called Fuckr, which employs a technique called “trilateration” to find users. Fuckr, which can be downloaded for free and is not affiliated with Grindr, is built on top of unauthorized access to Grindr’s private API, or “application programming interface,” which provides Fuckr with information in Grindr’s database.
Grindr is not deliberately revealing the locations of its users. But the “incredibl[y] high level of precision” of the distance data Grindr collects and shares allows apps like Fuckr to pinpoint users’ whereabouts, according to security researcher Patrick Wardle.
GitHub, which has hosted the Fuckr repository since it was released in 2015, disabled public access to the app shortly after the Queer Europe post published, citing Fuckr’s unauthorized access to the Grindr API. However, dozens of “forks” (modified versions) of the app are still available on GitHub. Queer Europe also confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the Fuckr application remains operational and can still make requests for up to 600 Grindr users’ locations at a time. Neither Grindr nor Github responded to request for comment about Fuckr’s takedown.
Leaky apps are so 2010.
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the Gini coefficient can be applied to inequality in any set of numbers you like, from the number of storks in each country to the body weights of a family of hippos. For example: authoritative data on sexual activity in the UK are available from Natsal-3, the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. Natsal-3 reports the number of opposite-sex partners we say we’ve had in our lives, and the number of times we say we’ve had heterosexual sex in the past four weeks. (It will surprise nobody to hear that men and women make rather different claims, so I’ve averaged their responses.)
Since I know you may be curious, I have made my own calculations, based on these data. For 35-44 year olds, the Gini coefficient of recent sexual activity is 58%. The Gini coefficient of lifetime opposite-sex partners is lower: 50%. Both are much higher than income inequality in the UK.
Nor are these figures driven by a few outliers with thousands of partners. When it comes to the bedroom, we don’t need to consider extremes to witness considerable inequality: many perfectly ordinary people have had only one sexual partner, or none, and many perfectly ordinary people have had at least 10. Bigger variations exist in income, but only at the extremes of distribution.
Of course, while one can measure income and sex using the same statistical method, that does not mean the moral or political implications are comparable. Most of us wouldn’t mind having more money, but it is far from obvious that we all want more lovers. Who has the time?
Thoughts and observations on Apple’s iPhone XS/XR and Series 4 Apple Watch introductory event • Daring Fireball
AIRPOWER: I wrote about AirPower’s absence earlier this week. What I’ve heard, third-hand but from multiple little birdies, is that AirPower really is well and truly fucked. Something about the multi-coil design getting too hot — way too hot. There are engineers who looked at AirPower’s design and said it could never work, thermally, and now those same engineers have that “told you so” smug look on their faces. Last year Apple was apparently swayed by arguments that they could figure out a way to make it not get hot. They were, clearly, wrong. I think they’ve either had to go completely back to the drawing board and start over with an entirely different design, or they’ve decided to give up and they just don’t want to say so.
I’d love to see an analysis from someone who knows about Qi charging (which Apple uses) on why AirPower was overreaching, but I can completely believe that this has turned out to be too risky because of heat. In the meantime you could always get this wireless charging mouse mat ($39, one-week shipping) – which looks quite a lot like AirPower.
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Seeing another company strip the headphone jack off its devices is definitely disappointing. For OnePlus, it’s another move that feels like a continuation of the OnePlus 6 strategy: removing the features that makes the phone unique. Compared to the OnePlus 5T—one of our favorite devices of last year—a lot has changed for this year’s edition. The company went from a metal device with slim bezels and a headphone jack to a fragile all-glass device, yet another notch design, and now no headphone jack.
What’s crazy is that the company knows exactly how much its customers do not want this. Before the OnePlus 6T, the company was one of the few still shipping a 3.5mm jack in its devices. And in the run up to the OnePlus 6’s launch, Pei ran a poll on Twitter asking his followers how much they valued a headphone jack. The results were overwhelming. An overwhelming 88% of the 19,000 participants said they wanted the headphone jack.
Of course, this was done to promote the OnePlus 6, which had a headphone jack, but at some point in the last six months OnePlus decided this feedback wasn’t important. The supposed tradeoff is more battery life, which is definitely something we’ll test when the OnePlus 6T comes out.
Now that using a pair of normal headphones is significantly more annoying (you’ll need to carry around a dongle), OnePlus probably hopes you’ll pick up a pair of its new Bluetooth headphones, or perhaps you’d be interested in the new wired USB-C headphones that are also on the way.
While the lack of a headphone jack is disappointing, at least the rest of the OnePlus 6T is looking interesting. OnePlus is a lessee of Oppo’s manufacturing line, and usually OnePlus devices are based on an existing Oppo design. Rumor has it the OnePlus 6T will be based on the Oppo R17, which has a unique teardrop-shaped camera cutout instead of the boring iPhone X-style notch that everyone else is using. When all you’re putting in the notch is a front-facing camera, it turns out it can be really small.
Pei has run Twitter polls since 2016 on this, and they’ve all shown support for a headphone jack at or above 85% (receiving 8,047, 9,589 and most recently 19,374 votes total). Looks like you’re getting a pair of Bluetooth headphones, everybody. (Would you honestly trust USB-C headphones? Also, ugh, wires.)
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Google built A prototype of a censored search engine for China that links users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, thus making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries, The Intercept can reveal.
The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, was designed for Android devices, and would remove content deemed sensitive by China’s ruling Communist Party regime, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.
Previously undisclosed details about the plan, obtained by The Intercept on Friday, show that Google compiled a censorship blacklist that included terms such as “human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize” in Mandarin.
Leading human rights groups have criticized Dragonfly, saying that it could result in the company “directly contributing to, or [becoming] complicit in, human rights violations.” A central concern expressed by the groups is that, beyond the censorship, user data stored by Google on the Chinese mainland could be accessible to Chinese authorities, who routinely target political activists and journalists.
Even Apple’s much-criticised (but locally necessary) storage of iCloud data from its Chinese users doesn’t include their search history.
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“It never crossed my mind” that North Koreans operated an IT business online, said Donald Ward, an Australian entrepreneur, when shown that a programmer he hired to redesign a website, who he thought was Japanese, was actually part of a North Korean crew operating in northeastern China, near the city of Shenyang.
The Journal discovered the Shenyang business after reviewing computers and other devices belonging to a North Korean operative arrested in Malaysia for suspected involvement in last year’s murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother. A car that ferried the alleged killers away from the Kuala Lumpur airport was registered to the North Korean operative, according to Malaysian investigators. The operative, who denied wrongdoing, was deported.
The operative’s electronic devices showed he had communicated with the Shenyang group about money-making ventures for North Korea, using vocabulary found only in the north’s dialect of the Korean language.
For North Korea, finding new business ventures has been crucial since the United Nations last year tightened sanctions and banned the country’s coal exports in a bid to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons and missile programs. The U.S. Treasury Department warned in July that North Koreans working abroad were selling IT services and hiding behind front companies and the anonymity provided by freelancing websites. The report offered few specifics. The Treasury on Thursday sanctioned two Russian and Chinese technology firms as revenue-generating fronts for North Korea.
Interviews with clients, plus records on Freelancer.com, help detail at least tens of thousands of dollars earned by the Shenyang group. In total, North Korea may be pulling in millions from software development with numerous fake social-media profiles, say experts who track North Korean activity. The group took payment from clients and subcontracted the jobs to programmers world-wide who say they were cut out without compensation.
“It’s a big chunk of change” for North Korea, said Andrea Berger, a North Korea specialist at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif.
Given how miniscule North Korea’s economy is (smaller than Samsung Electronics’s quarterly revenues, according to some estimates), Berger’s not exaggerating at all.
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Chinese brands handset profit crossed US$2bn for the first time ever in Q2 2018 • Counterpoint Research
According to the latest research from Counterpoint Market Monitor Q2 2018 (April-June), Global handset profits grew 4% annually in Q2 2018 mainly due to Chinese brands, which were aggressive with their flagship offerings. Their combined profits crossed US$2bn for the first time, contributing to almost a fifth of the total handset profits.
Chinese brands are planning on to entering new price tiers in the premium segment. Brands like OPPO, vivo and Huawei have tweaked their design language by adding new features, at a time when overall innovation within smartphones was already reaching its peak. Examples include the vivo Nex (Ultra Full View Display with in-display fingerprint), OPPO Find X (Ultra Full View Display) and Huawei’s P20 Pro (Triple camera).
We expect the average selling price of smartphones will further increase, driven by developed markets. However, smartphone volumes are likely to be flat as consumers are now keeping smartphones for longer. This will have implications for OEMs’ revenue as OEMs are looking to maximize their profits by increasing their average selling price and entering new price tiers. Only vertical integrated companies, in such a scenario, are well poised to capture the trends.
I think that Apple, Samsung and Huawei all count as “vertically integrated” in that they all design their own chips. Counterpoint reckons 99% of profit was owned by five companies (Apple, Samsung, Huawei, OPPO+vivo [one company], Xiaomi). And then “the remaining 1% of total industry profit was distributed among more than 600+ handset brands.” Of course, quite a few of those made losses – Sony, HTC, LG…
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“A customer bought these movies, they’re gone, and he’s only getting a couple rentals in return?”
Indeed, dig deeper into Apple’s Terms of Service, and you’ll see that it quietly warns that you may not be able to re-download content if it’s “no longer offered on our Services.” It’s not hard to see why headlines like “Apple can delete the movies you purchased without telling you” started spreading around the web.
But take a closer look at da Silva’s tweet, and there’s something interesting going on. Apple Support thinks he’s in Canada, while da Silva’s Twitter profile and LinkedIn show he’s from Australia. That’s a rather large geographical difference.
When we reached out to da Silva, he clarified the disparity: he moved to Canada, roughly nine months ago, after purchasing the films in Australia. Not only is that two separate countries, it’s two separate iTunes Store regions. Perhaps Canada doesn’t offer those films anymore, and that left him unable to access them in his new location?
…But there’s another possibility: Perhaps da Silva still has access to the Australian versions of these movies, but not the Canadian ones?
That’s certainly what Apple seemed to be hinting when we asked the company about it this weekend. Apple said:
“Any movies you’ve already downloaded can be enjoyed at any time and will not be deleted unless you’ve chosen to do so. If you change your country setting, some movies may not be available to re-download from the movie store if the version you purchased isn’t also available in the new country. If needed, you can change your country setting back to your prior country to re-download those movies.”
Sure, Apple’s statement doesn’t say exactly what happened to da Silva’s movies, or admit that Apple Support may have made a mistake when parsing the original response. But it clearly states that the company doesn’t delete movies without your permission – and that you should even be able to re-download movies from your “prior country” if they’re not available in the new one…
…Indeed, those movies may still be stored in da Silva’s Australian account — but he can’t easily switch back to the Australian region to download them again… The reason da Silva’s missing movies got so much attention: they seemingly revealed Apple wouldn’t stand by its customers if the studios tried to pull their films. We now know it’s premature to say anything like that.
Remember how The Outline is struggling? That link is to an Outline story. They didn’t talk to Apple or da Silva, who now acknowledges he fell into a “licensing crack”.
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This startup CEO says that Apple is using ‘alternative facts’ to market the new Apple Watch • Business Insider
“We were watching [the announcement], and we were surprised,” Gundotra said. “It was amazing, it was like us being on stage, with the thing we’ve been doing for 7 years,” referring to AliveCor’s product for detecting atrial fibrillation (AFib), a tough-to-spot heart disorder that manifests as an irregular, often quick heart rate that can cause poor circulation.
“Although when they said they were first to go over-the-counter, we were surprised,” he continued. “Apple doesn’t like to admit they copy anyone, even in the smallest things. Their own version of alternative facts.”
The fact that a huge tech giant is entering their corner of health-tech validates AliveCor’s approach, Gundotra said. “I commend them, it’s the very mission we’ve been on,” he said, saying making ECG readings more accessible is “insanely important” and “will save lives.”
One key difference that will distinguish AliveCor from the Apple Watch is price, says Gundotra: AliveCor’s hardware starts at $99. The new Apple Watch Series 4 with ECG hardware — it won’t be enabled until later this year, through a new app, Apple said — costs $399. Many people who need at-home ECG are price sensitive, he says.
“Ours is $99, theirs is $399, our sales popped yesterday, big time,” he said.
Gundotra is also hopeful that his company’s expertise in machine learning and branching into other conditions will help it fend off trillion-dollar competitors. Earlier this week, AliveCor received “breakthrough status” at the FDA for its work detecting hyperkalemia, a potassium disorder.
“We love that Apple is validating AFib; just wait until you see what AliveCor is going to do next,” he said. “We were a great restaurant in a remote section of town, and someone just opened a giant restaurant right next to us, bringing a lot more attention.”
An embedded tweet in the story by Christina Farr explains: though AliveCor is OTC, a doctor reviews the first ECG to “unlock” it (within 24 hours). Apple’s FDA clearance means it can be used right away.
Airware makes a cloud sofware system that helps enterprise customers like construction companies, mining operations, and insurance companies reviewing equipment for damages to use drones to collect and analyze aerial data. That allowed companies to avoid using expensive helicopters or dangerous rigs with humans on harnesses to make inspections and gauge work progress.
One ex-employee asked “How do I get my options sent to me on paper so I can burn them all in a fire?”
Founded in 2011 by Jonathan Downey, the son of two pilots, Airware first built an autopilot system for programming drones to follow certain routes to collect data. It could help businesses check rooftops for damage, see how much of a raw material was coming out of a mine, or build constantly-updated maps of construction sites. Later it tried to build its own drones before pivoting to consult clients on how to most efficiently apply unmanned aerial vehicles.
While flying high, Airware launched its own Commercial Drone Fund for investing in the market in 2015, and acquired 38-person drone analytics startup Redbird in 2016. In this pre-crypto, pre-AI boom, Airware scored a ton of hype from us and others as tried to prove drones could be more than war machines. But over time, the software that shipped with commercial drone hardware from other manufacturers was good enough to make Airware irrelevant, and a downward spiral of layoffs began over the past two years, culminating in today’s shutdown. Demonstating how sudden the shut down is, Airware opened a Tokyo headquarters alongside an investment and partnership from Mitsubishi just four days ago.
You’d think that focussing on the software would be enough, but clearly not.
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Call this “ode to the shadow”, my attempt to rescue that wonderful, often elusive species, which has been pushed aside lately with such increasing and ruthless neglect by slider-happy photographers who banish it from existence in their images.
You know what I’m talking about. You see it every day. On Twitter, on Facebook, and especially on Instagram. Photos with such incredible, brilliant and dynamic colors that look like they’ve been cooked. Pictures with drippy, over saturated hues; like cotton candy that’s been slathered with an entire bottle of maple syrup. Google “Fantasy Art” and you’ll see the exact same tonal blueprint.
It took me awhile to figure out why I can’t stand that stuff. No, it’s not that weird alien-like edge glow that floats around the subject, or even cosmic tones that peg the gamut meter full tilt. It’s the fact that you can see everything. Nothing is hidden.
Yes, there’s some well executed HDR out there, but to me, most HDR photography, whether it’s done with a plug-in or by slamming the software sliders all the way to the right, is nothing more than sugar. Spoon fed sugar that’s shoveled right into your mouth.
It delivers calories with no work. A payoff with no effort. In every way, it’s just like that godawful, heavily compressed, crossover pop garbage that pours forth from the country stations. Noone really like that stuff, but the radio keeps playing it.
Whatever happened to subtlety? To innuendo? To suggestion?
Whatever happened to shadows…?
Whether it’s bad HDR or bad country music, if you give the viewer or listener EVERYTHING in the same level of volume, color, tone and brightness, you leave nothing to the imagination.
Some lovely photos here. And he has a point.
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The CoinsBank Blockchain Cruise, chartered to take cryptocurrency die-hards from Barcelona, to Monaco, to Ibiza, and then back, was in its fourth day, and a highly billed event had managed to drag a few likely hung over attendees out from their below-deck cabins. Jimmy Song, a venture partner at Blockchain Capital LLC, was to argue the relative merits of Bitcoin (BTC). Early Bitcoin adoptee and Bitcoin Cash evangelist, Rover Ver, was to speak on behalf of Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
Bitcoin Cash was born following a 2017 Bitcoin hard fork, and despite BTC’s and BCH’s shared history, the two cryptocurrencies and their respective boosters have become the blockchain’s very own Montagues and Capulets — each disparaging the other at every conceivable opportunity, with both sides lobbing accusations of fraud and deception.
It was perhaps to be expected that the debate wouldn’t go smoothly, but just how quickly it went off the rails surprised even those in attendance.
Song, cowboy hat atop his head and microphone in hand, attempted to introduce the format of the event — a “Lincoln-Douglas style debate” — but was soon interrupted by Ver.
Shouts of “no Roger” emanated from the crowd, as Ver told the audience to “calm down.”
It quickly spun out from there, with Song repeatedly telling Ver to “sit down” as Ver angled for the microphone.
“Do you want to debate me or not,” Song demanded. “OK then sit down,” he repeated as he stood behind the podium.
Also on the cruise was the writer Laurie Penney, who I’m pretty sure doesn’t know anything about bitcoin, but will have no doubt been mansplained to within an inch of her life. I’m very much looking forward to her writeup.
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“we are being used more like what you would find in Washington Square Park. You walk into Washington Square Park and there’s a bunch of people who, when I walk in, there’s a bunch of people there who are not expecting me to walk in and aren’t expecting me to do the things that I intend to do and might see it out of the corner of their eye and might come over and listen or interact or whatnot. In that public square, there’s all these things that happen and some are amazing, and some are stupid, and some are silly, and some are really terrible. There’s a guy in the corner with a megaphone broadcasting his thoughts and then he recognizes you and he says, “Jay, get the hell over here. You’re a terrible person and I hate you,” and all these other things. And it’s completely directed at you.
“And at that point, people recognize it and they tell him to stop, or the park stewards or police come over and say, “Here’s a warning and if you keep attacking this one person who doesn’t want it and is not even paying attention to you, then you’re out.” So that action right there was not neutrality, it was being impartial to the conduct and with an eye towards more of the collective, with an eye towards like, “We need to make Washington Square Park something that people actually want to be at and recognize that there’s going to be people who choose unhealthy behaviors and we’re going to at least demonstrate what is not healthy and what could be healthier.”
“I do believe health is a value that we’ve chosen to make a singular objective, and we value health in public conversation, but in order to do it correctly, we need to do it with a principle of impartiality, which means that we’re not going to do on the basis of bias or prejudice or favoring one account over another for improper reasons. Where we have failed in that is to be transparent around how we write our rules and how we enforce them.”
He then goes on to describe how they’re trying to measure that “health”. One can’t help but think that zapping tweets coming from Russian IP addresses would make a big contribution.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified