Start up: Dropbox dumps Mailbox, what mobile adblocking?, life after viral fame, and more


Ridge Racer: maybe blame it for all that waiting around for games to load. Photo by Peter π on Flickr.

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A selection of 10 links for you. They really are. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Dropbox is shutting down its Mailbox and Carousel apps » The Verge

Chris Welch:

Dropbox is doing away with Mailbox, the email app it acquired in March 2013, and Carousel, the company’s attempt at a standalone photo management app. The company says that it’s making this decision now to focus more directly on the primary Dropbox app and the collaborative features it’s known for. “The Carousel and Mailbox teams have built products that are loved by many people and their work will continue to have an impact,” wrote Dropbox’s founder/CEO Drew Houston and CTO Arash Ferdowsi in a blog post. “We’ll be taking key features from Carousel back to the place where your photos live — in the Dropbox app. We’ll also be using what we’ve learned from Mailbox to build new ways to communicate and collaborate on Dropbox.”

The Verge’s usual incisive reporting which simply repeats available facts, and doesn’t try to widen the discussion, or bring in expert views, or put it into context. So I’ll try: Mailbox shutting suggests it’s either a bust (not enough users), or a money-loser – same thing, really, and Dropbox needs to focus on how it is going to stop just being a feature that any OS offers for free (Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud Drive) because if that’s the case, it hasn’t got a business in the long term.
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The ‘Loading Screen Game Patent’ finally expires » Electronic Frontier Foundation

Elliot Harmon:

The first Sony PlayStation was introduced in 1994. Its graphical capabilities blew predecessors like the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo out of the water, but it had one big disadvantage. It replaced the game cartridges of the previous generation with CD-ROMs. When you booted up a PlayStation game, you had to wait for the console to load game data from the disc into its own memory. And that. Took. For. Ever. Watching a loading screen was boring, especially when you were used to the instant gratification of cartridge games.

Namco’s Ridge Racer addressed the problem by including a second game, the 80s classic Galaxian. It took no time at all for a PlayStation to load Galaxian. Suddenly, the player wasn’t thinking about how boring it was to wait for a game to load; she could have fun playing Galaxian while the console took its time loading Ridge Racer. If she beat Galaxian before Ridge Racer was done loading, she’d be rewarded in Ridge Racer with access to some in-game bonuses.

What’s the big deal? Namco thought of loading screen games first, so they earned the patent, right? Well, let’s look at how U.S. law defines a patentable invention.

According to the law, a person isn’t entitled to a patent if the claimed invention already existed when the application was filed or would have been obvious to someone skilled in the relevant technology area. The idea of playing a small game while the larger one loads has been around for a very long time. In 1987, many years before Namco filed its patent application, Richard Aplin created Invade-a-Load, a utility for developers who wrote games for the Commodore 64 computer.

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X marks the spot that makes online ads so maddening » The New York Times

Sydney Ember:

Annoying ads have become problematic for Anthony Martin, a 32-year-old consultant for a project management firm who sat in Bryant Park on a recent Monday afternoon, iPhone 6 in hand. He had moved to New York not long ago, he said, and was using a smartphone app to determine the best subway routes. But as soon as the app loads, ads take over his screen — first a banner ad on the bottom, then a full-screen ad. No amount of desperate jabbing does the trick.

“Sometimes I miss a stop,” he said. “Especially with fat fingers.”

Industry executives say it is quite likely that publishers and mobile developers are deliberately building ads that are hard to escape or shut down.

“The ones that are incredibly invasive are designed to be that way,” said Brian Gleason, the global chief executive of Xaxis, a media and technology company owned by the advertising giant WPP.

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The mobile adblocking apocalypse hasn’t arrived (at least not yet) » Nieman Journalism Lab

Madeline Welsh, Joseph Lichterman and Shan Wang:

Even sites with unusually high desktop blocking rates — think German sites, or technology sites — aren’t seeing huge numbers on mobile. About a quarter of all Internet users in Germany use an adblocker, but the percentage is even higher for some sites like Golem, a German-language tech site that’s seen an outright majority of its users blocking.

“As far as I can remember, it’s always been an issue for us,” said the site’s editor-in-chief, Benjamin Sterbenz. “As soon as adblock software was available, our readers installed the software and experimented with it. I’m sure that a lot of our readers also contributed to the development of adblocking software.”

But compared to adblocking on desktop, Golem readers using adblocking technology on mobile is in the single digits. Though it saw a little bump in September with the release of iOS 9, it’s otherwise remained constant, which Sterbenz said surprised him.

At Ars Technica, the Condè Nast-owned tech site, about 6% of mobile users block ads, “which is just a bit higher than what it was previously,” Ken Fisher, the site’s founder and editor-in-chief said in an email. On desktop, about 30% of users block ads, he said.

Odd, in light of the preceding.
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Virtual reality studio Baobab raises 6 million to be Pixar of VR – Business Insider

Jillian D’Onfro:

After leaving Zynga, [CEO of startup Baobab, Maureen] Fan spent the next year using her free time to learn as much as possible about virtual reality. She finally left her job in March to cofound Baobab Studios with Eric Darnell, who directed DreamWorks movies “Antz” and the “Madagascar” franchise.  

With big ambitions, the duo started attracting top talent from the likes of Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Twitch. The team’s combo of hardcore technologists working with top-tier storytellers convinced investors to put $6 million behind the studio’s cause last week. The Series A round came in part from million from HTC and Samsung Ventures, both of which have their own virtual reality devices, the Vive and Gear VR. 

Fan tells Business Insider that the studio plans to release its first short films made specifically for virtual reality early next year.

“We’re inventing a new cinematic language,” she says. For example, she explains, in VR you can’t cut-away from the action — the whole story has to flow together without switching perspectives — and need to find ways to guide the viewer to look where you want them to, since it will be possible to look around at a whole virtual world. 

VR is going to get really interesting in the next couple of years, and the content producers v content platforms issue is going to be highlighted again.
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Tencent blocks Uber on WeChat, so what ‘fair play’ can we expect in China? » South China Morning Post

George Chen:

Global car-hailing app Uber and its local rival in China, Didi Kuaidi, are de facto in a business war, after Tencent, a key investor of Didi, decided to remove Uber from one of the most powerful online marketing platforms in the world’s No 1 internet market.

What’s the key takeaway of the story here for other foreign businesses if they are considering doing or expanding business in China? It’s getting more difficult to make money in China, especially when you have to compete with local monopoly players.

The news that all Uber’s WeChat accounts had been removed by Tencent, the parent and owner of WeChat, China’s most popular real-time messaging app, where many businesses have set up accounts to promote products and services and engage with customers, shocked the technology world over the weekend. Tencent said it blocked Uber on WeChat, affecting Uber’s online services in at least 16 Chinese cities, because of “malicious marketing”, something Uber denied.

The power of the default messaging platform.
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10 viral sensations on life after internet fame » NY Mag

Clint Rainey:

Internet fame comes on like an earthquake, with little warning. In a matter of hours, a video can go viral and be viewed 50 million times. Then it (usually) recedes into a very long, thin afterlife. Here, nine YouTube sensations whose lives were upended briefly in the past decade (plus one from the prehistoric web era, before YouTube made its debut in 2005) speak about this odd, relatively new kind of fame. Most embraced the experience, seeing where it would take them. Some ended up in dark places. A couple have made it their living and found themselves with new careers. Others stepped away, opting out of the flame wars. Pay attention: Someday, the accidental celebrity could be you.

Terrific idea, and choices; the child from “Charlie bit my finger” may be the most predictable yet peculiar of all.
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Microsoft will not fix power management issues with new Surface devices until next year » Thurrott.com

Paul Thurrott is mad as hell and he’s.. well, he has to take it:

As I’ve said on the podcasts several times now, and wrote in the review excerpt below, Surface Book (and apparently Surface Pro 4) just don’t go to sleep properly.

Well, here’s the really bad news. Microsoft won’t fix this problem … until sometime next year.

“The ‘standby’ battery life is an issue we are working on and have been working on,” a Microsoft Surface Engineering Team program manager identified only as “Joe” explains in the company’s support forums. “We can put the processor into a deeper sleep state than it is currently set to. We couldn’t do it at RTM for a variety of reasons, power management is a very hard computer science problem to solve especially with new silicon. Currently it is not in the deepest ‘sleep’ that it can be so there are wake events that would not otherwise wake it. We will have an update for this issue sometime soon in the new year.”

I don’t mean to rip on an individual, as I usually save my ire for faceless corporations, but … “a very hard computer science problem to solve”? Seriously?

My advice to Microsoft is to not ship products for which you have not yet fixed “a very hard computer science problem.”

There is a workaround, though, involving making it always Hibernate rather than Sleep. Not ideal though. (Thanks @Avro105 for the link.)
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New software watches for licence plates, turning you into Little Brother » Ars Technica

Cyrus Farivar on open-source tech for automatic licence plate reading (ALPR) – known in the UK as ANPR (N for numberplate):

For the last six months, the two-man team behind OpenALPR has built this software and given it away for free, largely as a way to draw attention to their other paid services: a cloud-based $50 per camera per month solution that includes “high-speed processing” and “priority tech support.” The company also offers a $1,000 per camera per month “on-premises” version that integrates with an existing (usually government) network that has qualms about outsourcing data storage.

OpenALPR notes its software “will work with any camera that supports MJPEG streams. This includes visible-light and infrared cameras. The camera and optics should be configured such that the license plates are clearly legible in the video stream.”

Matt Hill, OpenALPR’s founder, told Ars that this is a good way to level the playing field and mitigate the need for long-term retention.

“I’m a big privacy advocate as well — now you’ve got LPR just in the hands of the government, which isn’t a good thing. This brings costs down,” he said.

On the government side, there have been incidents where police-owned LPR misread and led to dangerous confrontations. Some cities have mounted such cameras at their city borders, monitoring who comes in and out (case in point: the wealthy city of Piedmont, California, which is totally surrounded by Oakland). And again, the data associated with LPRs (plate, date, time, location) is often retained for months or years.

This feels a little like the total constant surveillance of Dave Eggers’s “The Circle”.
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HP exits low-cost tablet market in product shakeup » PCWorld

Agam Shah:

If you’re looking for a low-priced tablet from HP, you soon will not be able to find one.

HP is exiting the low-end tablet market amid declining prices and slowing demand. Instead, the company will focus on detachables, hybrids and business tablets at the higher end of the market.

“We are going to focus where there is profitability and growth and will not chase the low-end tablet market. We are focusing on business mobility to deliver tablets built for field service, education, retail and healthcare,” said Ron Coughlin, president for personal systems at HP.

HP has already stopped listing many low-end Android tablets on its website. The remaining lower-end products — the US$99 HP 7 G2 tablet and $149 HP 8 G2 tablet — have been out of stock for months, and it’s likely they won’t be available again. They are however still available through some online retailers at cut-rate prices.

The least expensive tablet on HP’s site is now the $329.99 HP Envy 8 Note tablet with Windows 10. HP has Windows on most tablets now, with only a handful running Android.

Wonder if this will become a trend. Obviously it will for enterprise sales – but might it also be the way to lure back disaffected Windows PC customers?
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida:

Start up: Android Wear on iOS, will Slack kill Dropbox?, India v Google, after the adblockers, and more


One other piece of technology – besides the lifejackets and boat – probably kept them alive. Photo by Irish Defence Forces on Flickr.

A selection of 9 links for you. Blimey, it’s September (here at least). I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Android Wear now works with iPhones » Official Google Blog

David Singleton, director of engineering for Android Wear:

When you wear something every day, you want to be sure it really works for you. That’s why Android Wear offers countless design choices, so you can find the watch that fits your style. Want a round watch with a more classic look? Feel like a new watch band? How about changing things up every day with watch faces from artists and designers? With Android Wear you can do all of that. And now, Android Wear watches work with iPhones.

Android Wear for iOS is rolling out today. Just pair your iPhone (iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, or 6 Plus running iOS 8.2+) with an Android Wear watch to bring simple and helpful information right to your wrist.

Key problem – and I think it will be a problem – is that it won’t be able to show reply to iMessages on the Wear watch. And iMessage is a huge part of using an iPhone (demonstrated by the volume sent each day), and, in my experience, the Apple Watch. The picture in the blogpost shows Google Hangouts; if you’re that dedicated to Hangouts, you’ll be on Android. Also: no third-party (Android Wear, nor, obviously, iOS) apps. Harry McCracken has a useful rundown – mostly of what it doesn’t do on iOS – at Fast Company.

So this might goose Android Wear watch sales a little, but I don’t see it lasting.
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Dropbox: the first dead decacorn » Thoughts from Alex Danco

Slack (the workplace collaboration tool) is going to kill it, Danco reckons:

The problem for Dropbox is that our work habits are evolving to make better use of what’s available; specifically, the awesome power of the internet. And on the internet, the concept of a ‘file’ is a little weird if you stop and think about it. Files seem woefully old-fashioned when you consider organization tools like Evernote, task management tools like Trello, and communication channels like Slack. Files are discrete objects that exist in a physical place; the internet is … pretty much the opposite of that. And while it made sense that the birth and early growth of information and the internet would contain familiar, old-school ideas and organizing systems, and some point the other shoe was bound to drop. To me, Slack feels like the first truly internet and mobile-native productivity platform – especially as it expands beyond messaging and into workflow automation, helper bots, and who knows what else. Dropbox might be the pinnacle of file management, but Slack is the beginning of what comes next.
  
I don’t think files are going to completely disappear; not anytime soon, anyway. They’ll certainly still exist as data structures, deep inside our servers and our phones, for a very long time – and yet most people will be indifferent to their existence. I’m pretty sure Dropbox’s multi-billion dollar valuation isn’t an anticipation of this new reality – it’s simply a projection of our current world, played in fast-forward. This is gravely shortsighted. Dropbox may not be the first Unicorn to slide slowly and then quickly towards irrelevance and death – but it’ll happen.

Having used Slack, I can believe a lot of that. If you haven’t used Slack, you’ll be harrumphing at this. (People who still put music and video files onto SD cards to slot into their phones will be incredulous.) It’s just a matter of time.
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India’s competition authority charges Google with rigging search results; Flipkart, Facebook corroborate complaints » The Economic Times

Deepali Gupta:

Flipkart, Facebook, Nokia’s maps division, MakeMy-Trip.com and several other companies have corroborated complaints that US Internet giant Google abused its dominant market position, in their response to queries raised by the Competition Commission of India.

Based on the responses from 30 businesses spanning search, social networks, ecommerce, travel and content sites, the CCI director-general last week filed a report that accuses Google of abusing its dominant position to rig search outcomes, both the actual search result as well as sponsored links. This marks the first case globally where an antitrust body is formally raising such charges against Google.

Flipkart’s complaint – that its position in organic results varied on how much it spent on ads with Google – is an eye-opener; often whispered, never made part of a complaint.

The list is comprehensive; if anything, Google faces more fires here than in Europe. What’s not clear is how determined, and meticulous, the CCI is. Anyone know? Google has to respond by September 10.
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Adobe aims to bring Photoshop to mobile masses with upcoming app » CNET

Stephen Shankland:

“Project Rigel is designed and built in a way that serves the needs of professionals familiar with retouching tools on the desktop, but more so for people not familiar with Photoshop tools like content-aware fill or spot healing,” Manu Anand, Adobe’s senior product manager for digital imaging, said in an interview at Adobe’s offices here. “It democratizes them and makes them easier to use.”

The app itself has a touchscreen interface, with a menu of editing options across the bottom, pop-out tool adjustments on the left side and a strong zoom ability to offer precision when selecting areas of an image with fat fingertips. It’s even got face recognition technology that Photoshop for PC lacks, a feature that identifies facial features then lets people enlarge or tilt eyes or raise the corners of a subject’s mouth to emphasize a smile.

Bringing Photoshop to the mobile masses is crucial for Adobe as it tries to adapt its business to modern computing trends. The company has no desire to suffer Microsoft’s fate, being largely left behind by the meteoric rise of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, the software that powers nearly all smartphones and tablets.

Not sure Adobe gets a choice there. It has clung on to the desktop with Flash, and it’s hard to see how Photoshop is really that relevant for mobile; it feels like overkill. (Adobe has a large, unseen-by-consumers business in web measurement too.)
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A 21st-century migrant’s essentials: food, shelter, smartphone » The New York Times

Matthew Brunwasser:

The tens of thousands of migrants who have flooded into the Balkans in recent weeks need food, water and shelter, just like the millions displaced by war the world over. But there is also one other thing they swear they cannot live without: a smartphone charging station.

“Every time I go to a new country, I buy a SIM card and activate the Internet and download the map to locate myself,” Osama Aljasem, a 32-year-old music teacher from Deir al-Zour, Syria, explained as he sat on a broken park bench in Belgrade, staring at his smartphone and plotting his next move into northern Europe.

“I would never have been able to arrive at my destination without my smartphone,” he added. “I get stressed out when the battery even starts to get low.”

Not a thing one would have been likely to forecast even five years ago. GPS and WhatsApp are now essential.
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Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 5 » Business Insider

Lisa Eadicicco:

After spending a week switching between the two, here’s what I came away with. 

• Both phones are gorgeous, but with the Note 5 you get a slightly larger screen packed into a phone that’s the same size as the iPhone 6 Plus.
• The Note 5’s screen displays colors more vibrantly than the iPhone, but it’s not any sharper than the iPhone’s screen even though it’s a higher spec.
• The iPhone is still much more simple to use than Samsung’s phone.
• The Note 5’s S Pen feels natural and the multiwindow feature is useful, but Samsung’s version of Android is still too cluttered for me.
• Both phones take excellent photos. It’s a win-win here, but, as is the case with the Note 5’s display, its camera also sometimes exaggerates color. 

She also liked the Note’s split screen, and found the pen useful too.
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The mobile video ad lie » Medium

Rob Leathern found a page apparently with no video ads on the NY Post was loading 10MB. But how?

The large JPG files I referenced earlier make up the majority of the payload of this page — and are coming from the images.fusevid.com domain. Here again are those example1 and example2 of the image files.

Remember, I didn’t see any video content nor any video ads at all. If there is not willful fraud here, loading ads in the background that are impossible to see, then at the very least it is ‘user-hating’ irresponsible behavior to have a 10+mb payload with hundreds of http calls in a mobile browser.

Many publishers simply must have a sense that something nasty is going on — when their users complain about slow page loads on mobile web — but they either don’t have the tech savvy and/or more likely, they won’t ask questions about how their site could possibly be monetizing as well as it is when simple math indicates that their users aren’t watching that many video streams. Many simply turn a blind eye.

Ad industry insiders talk about “improving viewability” — but make no mistake, these are likely not mistakes made by inexperienced workers — just as mobile ads that pop up iTunes Store pages for mobile app installs are not casual errors — this is an industry that persists by helping already-fraught businesses like newspapers and online publishers survive at the expense of the advertisers who supposedly help us users have free content.

Is it any wonder desktop ad blocking has been on the rise, and many iOS users are excited at the prospect of using content blocking in iOS9 to get rid of mobile ads? The industry has only itself to blame.

I find these stories – which are growing in volume – fascinating. This is a boil that the internet community is looking to lance with vigour.
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Life after content blocking » Monday Note

Jean-Louis Gassee:

What are the smaller publishers to do?

Displaying their outrage by posting “Access Denied” when reached by an “offending” browser won’t work.

Some very specialized sites, such as Ben Thompson’s Stratechery and Ben Bajarin’s TechPinions, are able to generate membership revenue because the quality of their content — sober analysis versus mere reporting — makes it worth the price of subscription.

But these are exceptions. Too many sites are just echo chambers, they rewrite news releases, add strong adjectives and adverbs, and a bit of spin. Competition for attention, pageviews, and advertising dollars drives them to shout from the rooftops. If they don’t want to disappear or be rolled up into a larger entity to “optimize expenses”, they’ll have to get us to pay for their content.

This is much easier said than done. It’s difficult to conjure up a picture in which we’ll have subscriptions to most of the sites we graze today in their ad-supported form.

An alternative to subscriptions for content we may or may not actually “consume” is pay-as-you-go. In principle, this isn’t very different from what we do when we buy an episode of Breaking Bad. We gladly pay $2.99 to watch what we want, when we want, and without ads.

This works well for TV shows, but it doesn’t easily translate to websites.

I do foresee a number of those middling sites selling up to others which reckon they can make a go of it.
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We have no interest in competing with Apple: John Sculley of Obi Worldphone » Business Today

Interviewed by Manu Kaushik:

[Inflexionpoint chief executive] Neeraj [Chauhan] and I sat down. I asked him why he thought there’s an opportunity for us to go into this industry. He said that we have skills of distribution and supply chains, we know how to negotiate with various vendors, and we can run on a different business model.

At the same time, we were looking at the opportunity of buying BlackBerry. We were approached by the Canadian government. We have big operations in Toronto with another one of our companies. They said that we would like to keep BlackBerry a Canadian company and would you consider acquiring it. We studied BlackBerry’s business practices. We realised that they had 7,000 people in their handsets division at that time. That was incredible number of people. There’s no way you can make money with that. Eventually, BlackBerry pulled the auction [down]. They brought a talented CEO to run the company John Chen. They should have brought him in three years earlier.

But it opened our eyes. I asked Neeraj how many people you would need to run BlackBerry’s handset business. He said that he could do it with hundreds of people.

Via Charles Knight, who adds: “You have to wonder who else in Canada they approached.” It’s probably a long list.
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Start up: dual-app iPads?, Pebble’s cash call, improving S6 battery life, Chromebook sales and more


S6 discharging too fast? This might sort it. Photo by AndyArmstrong on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Future of iPad: dual-app viewing mode, then J98/J99 ‘iPad Pros,’ multi-user support » 9to5Mac

Mark Gurman:

Facing slowing growth for the first time since the iPad’s 2010 debut, Apple is working on several significant software and hardware updates to reinvigorate the tablet over the next year. Apple is developing a dual-app viewing mode, 12-inch iPads codenamed “J98″ and “J99,” as well as support for multi-user logins, according to sources briefed on the plans. First planned for debut last year, the split-screen applications feature for the iPad could be introduced as soon as June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, while multi-user login support and the 12-inch iPads will apparently arrive later…

In Gurman we trust. He’s never told us they’re working on a TV. And these improvements would help the iPad in businesses, which is the next frontier for tablet penetration.


Adult dating site hack exposes millions of users » Channel 4 News

Geoff White:

Channel 4 News has been investigating the cyber underworld, discovering which websites have been hacked and exposing the trade in personal information of millions of people through so-called “dark web” sites.

The investigation led to a secretive forum in which a hacker nicknamed ROR[RG] posted the details of users of Adult FriendFinder. The site boasts 63 million users worldwide and claims more than 7 million British members. It bills itself as a “thriving sex community”, and as a result users often share sensitive sexual information when they sign up.

The information of 3.9m Adult FriendFinder members has been leaked, including those who told the site to delete their accounts…

…The front page of Adult FriendFinder, which is based in California, features photos of dozens of attractive young women. Yet the hacked data, contained in 15 spreadsheets, reveals how few females appear to use Adult FriendFinder.

Among the 26,939 users with a UK email address, for example, there are just 1,596 who identified as female: a ratio of one woman to every 16 men.

How.. unsurprising.


Rumor has it that Pebble is on the rocks even with $18m in the bank » TechCrunch

John Biggs:

Smartwatch maker Pebble seems to be in some trouble. According to sources close to the company, the company is having trouble maintaining its growth and has turned to a Silicon Valley bank for a $5 million loan and $5 million line of credit. Valley VCs have been turning down the company’s requests for new capital.

Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky offered no comment.

Actually this feels like cashflow: it has to commit factory time to make those watches, and VC money isn’t what it needs; it needs a line of credit to pay for that. Whether it’s in trouble is a different question. I’d be surprised if it were.


Few business takers yet, but ​Chromebook sales grow to 7.3 million this year » ZDNet

Liam Tung:

The number of the low-cost Google-powered laptops sold this year is on track to grow 27m, up from 5.7m units in 2014 to 7.3m in 2015, research from analyst house Gartner shows.

The Chromebook’s growth contrasts markedly with the shrinking global PC market. However, sales of the devices remain heavily skewed towards the US and within that market, they’re largely used in schools, despite growing interest from consumers in the country.

In 2014, the US accounted for 84% of all Chromebooks sold, with 60% of sales coming from education, 39% from consumers, and 1% from business.

Last year, noting signs of growing interest among businesses for Chromebooks, Gartner forecast that by 2017 sales to the education sector could rise to over 6m units, driving total sales for the year to 14 million laptops sold.

Its outlook for the next two years is more conservative, with the analyst predicting shipments to rise to 7.9m by 2016, suggesting growth of under 10% for next year.

This in a market of about 300m PCs per year. Not the dramatic displacement that had been expected. Chromebooks began in 2009. Do they really offer too little utility, or are people too wedded to Windows even though cloud services would serve them fine?


Not so fast: connected cars could cause data traffic jams » Reuters

Eric Auchard:

Traffic jams in the future could cause potentially dangerous data snarl-ups as cars packed with entertainment, safety and navigation features vie for airwaves with smartphones, tablets and networked features in other vehicles, according to a study.

By 2024, mobile networks will see machine-to-machine (M2M) connections jump 10-fold to 2.3 billion from 250 million in 2014. Half these links will be automotive, said the study published on Thursday by Machina Research.

On the roads, about one in five vehicles worldwide will have some form of wireless network connection by 2020, or more than a quarter of a billion connected vehicles, according to a forecast from technology research firm Gartner.


This one tweak could boost battery life on your Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge » ZDNet

My ZDNet colleague, Matthew Miller, bought and then returned a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. He liked the phone, but in the end, the poor battery life he experienced was a deal-breaker.

That’s the same problem Business Insider’s Antonio Villas-Boas found after using a Galaxy S6, essentially the same handset but without the curved edge displays, for a month. Villas-Boas learned that one single setting solved his battery life issues, however.

“I switched off Google Now, Google’s digital assistant, and my battery life skyrocketed to last me about 36 hours on a single charge with relatively decent usage, including music streaming, but without using Bluetooth or GPS. I charge it every night, but I usually have just under 50% battery left before I go to bed.”

That’s interesting for a few reasons. First of all, if it addresses the short run-time on a single charge, the setting change provides a reasonable workaround for Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge owners.

Second, there’s something else going on with Google Now on these particular handsets: The always listening feature of Google Now stopped working on these two handsets for many people in the middle of April. Google is aware of the problem, publicly noting on April 23 that it is actively working on a solution.

Some suggestions that Google Now is optimised (somehow) for Qualcomm processors; the S6 and S6 Edge uses Samsung’s own Exynos. That’s a problem is Google Now is killing the battery, though.


The clock is ticking for Dropbox » Business Insider

Eugene Kim, with a good investigative piece:

After coming out of Y Combinator in 2007, Dropbox hit 100 million users by 2012, and 300 million by 2015. That rapid growth made some people feel like they’d already made it. “There wasn’t that sense of ‘We haven’t won yet,'” this former employee says.

This person also tells us that DfB growth was “not stellar” as of the middle of last year.

Another person who left Dropbox last year said that the company has become noticeably slower as it’s gotten larger. (Dropbox went from 500 to 1,200 employees in the past 12 months.)

For example, a simple team change request had to go through multiple HR managers, creating a culture of heavy “process” that many engineers dislike.

In fact, in one of the internal surveys that asked if the engineers felt they were empowered to perform at full potential, almost half of them said “No,” according to this person.

What’s Dropbox’s USP?


Myntra sales dip 10% in app-only mode, rivals Amazon, Snapdeal, eBay to play safe for now » The Economic Times

Varun Jain:

Myntra.com, India’s largest online fashion retailer, has seen a 10% drop in sales since it shut its website and turned a mobile app-only etailer last week. The company, owned by Flipkart, had factored in such a decline and hoped to return to the level of sales prior to the move in the coming weeks, according to a source. Its closest rivals, Snapdeal and Amazon, however, said they had no plans to wind up their websites and focus only on mobile phone users.

“Our data shows that there are still many customers who use PCs to shop online. We do not want to force our customers to use one specific medium to shop on Snapdeal,” a Snapdeal spokesperson said.

The app-only approach seems to follow this logic: if you’re dependent on web visits for traffic and hence revenue, you’re vulnerable to someone who has better SEO or the vicissitudes of the dominant search engine. Better therefore to build up a loyal audience on the app, and drive people there through advertising.