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Things I’ve found interesting – 21 September

This update is bought to you by Apple, Apple and more Apple. And did I mention there’s some Apple?

Why banks are buying in to Apple Pay. It’s pretty amazing Apple has managed to get the banks to pay them to add a feature to their phones.

After 30 years, Macworld is no longer a magazine. I’m really sorry to see Macworld go. End of an era, etc, and proof of how hard it is for print brands to make the transition to online — although Macworld actually did a pretty good job of that.

The Apple Watch and the battle of fashion and functionality. Apple’s transition from a technology company to a fashion and lifestyle one is going to be one of the most interesting narratives of the next couple of years.

Apple hires Gap’s number two marketer. When I said that Apple is becoming a fashion and lifestyle company, I really meant it. It’s going to drive the geeks crazy.

Revolutionary User Interfaces, Part 2. Everything – everything – about the Apple Watch depends on the interface. Can Apple hit a home run of revolutionary interfaces three times running?

Philips debuts headphones that connect via Apple’s Lightning port. The only question which matters: does using Lightening as an interface allow them to do something different from the standard audio port?

Apple reportedly building-out Boston Siri team. The big question about Siri: Will Apple stick with the current way that Siri works, where you have to ask it to do something, or will it change to become more like Google Now or Cortana, and sometimes pre-empt what you want?

Reddit is a failed state. Harsh, but fair.

Between Google and Apple, the smartwatch wars are over before they’ve even begun. It must really piss Microsoft off that it pioneered smart watches, but gets neither the credit nor the profits.

So Bill Gates has this idea for a history class… What Gates is doing is awe-inspiring.

Destiny review: The future of games remains locked in the past. I’m not sure about Destiny. It’s a strange mix of MMORPG, first-person shooter, and PvP. It’s kind of intriguing, but I’m not sure about the longevity.

Why terrorists probably won’t hijack Google’s driverless cars. To which we might add, “yet”.

The next small thing. Does Apple know what the Apple Watch is for? Probably not, yet. But it’s betting a lot of money it’s the next big thing.

 

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Stuff I’ve found interesting this week – 7th September

This week’s collection of things I’ve found interesting… including (unsurprisingly) lots and lots of Apple stuff…

Marc Newson to Join Jony Ive on Apple’s Design Team. The most important news of the week in Apple-land, and I’m including whatever the company launches on Tuesday. Newson is a rock-star designer. Make no mistake, he’s not going to Apple just to work on a watch. It means Apple has a lot more consumer products up their sleeves for the coming years.

iCloud Flaw Not Source of Celebrity Photo Leak. Rich Mogull is the go-to guy for all things related to Mac security, and his report on the celebrity picture leak is the definitive articles.

The iPhone 6: From Louis Vuitton to Chanel: Excellent thinking from Ben Thompson on what Apple might be announcing this week.

Inside Apple: A who’s who of the iWatch: Apple really had been plundering the world of high- end fashion for talent. More great information which indicates that Ben Thompson is right.

We can’t let tech giants, like Facebook and Twitter, control our news values: Algorithms are becoming more and more important in determining what we read, but they are not value-free. Its time we started making Silicon Valley take responsibility for its algorithms.

Google says Android Wear about to get even smarter. I’ve actually enjoyed using a Google Wear watch, although it’s obviously a product which has been released a little before it’s ready. However, one thing Google is good at is iterating, and hopefully Wear will get much better quickly.

Samsung releases Note Edge. For no reason that I can work out, this has a screen with a curved edge. Why? Probably just because they could.

14,000 Chesterfield Students to Receive Chromebook Laptops. I keep reading articles like this, which indicates to me that the Chromebook is getting some traction in schools. And I can understand why.

Anthologies in Scrivener. Some good advice from Matt Gemmell on how to use Scrivener to create anthologies of shorter works. Matt’s anthology is available from Amazon, and you should buy it.

If the world was a village. “There are 14 global trillion dollar industries and mobile has the potential to invade, change, and impact them all.”

Meet the $79 ‘Chromecast Killer’ From Microsoft. I thought we were done with the whole “X killer” line in tech journalism? This doesn’t feel like it will dent Chromecast sales, either.

Samsung announces world’s first Android-based printer. Because you’ve always wanted a printer which was full of crapware AND susceptible to malware.

How To Use Facebook’s New Privacy Feature That Prevents You From Accidentally Sharing With The Wrong People.

Because of all the crap things it did when it had under a billion users (all those years ago), there’s probably no company on the planet which is more aware of privacy than Facebook.

Algorithms Are Invading Your Twitter Stream, And Resistance Is Futile. And just as when Facebook made the change from a reverse chronological list of posts to an algorithmically determined one, most users will actually either not notice the change, or like it. Like it or not, Twitter has a growth problem and a retention problem. Will this solve it? Maybe. But they have to do something.

What #Twitter could do.  Twitter has a growth problem, and Azeem has some smart advice on what itcould do to get over it.

Why is “libertarian” Uber sponsoring San Francisco’s giant police militarization conference? Answer: Because most people who call themselves “Libertarian” really mean “liberty for me to get rich, and a government which will stop the plebs getting part of the pie.”

Writers, Coders and the Markdown landgrab. I absolutely agree with Adam’s point here: If Markdown had looked anything like the description of “Standard Markdown”. I’d never have started using it. Simplicity is not a bug.

Three months with the Surface Pro 3: Using it more and less than expected. “I think the lack of keyboard usage might be the biggest ‘discovery’ for me as I have been a proponent of buying one from the on-set of the Surface family. Even the majority of Microsoft’s commercials feature the tablet with the additional keyboard; their marketing makes it seem like it is a required peripheral.” Did I mention I bought one?

What was fake on the Internet this week: Betty White, Twitter ‘filtering,’ and that photo of Darren Wilson. Yes, this is worth reading every week – because every week the same old false memes go round… and round… and round…

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Stuff I’ve found interesting this week – 31 August

Technology

Seeing Through the Illusion: Understanding Apple’s Mastery of the Media. The prodigy writes a long and very interesting look at Apple PR and the way it works. My own experience of Apple PR is more or less a decade out of date, but a lot of what Gurman says here chimes.

Apple wearable won’t ship till early 2015. As plenty of others have noted, this makes sense for two reasons: it’s a new product category, and hence preannouncing won’t mean the Osborne effect. Second, developers will need time to build support. Oh, and of course it will really hurt any other company selling wearables over Christmas.

L.A. Unified halts contract for iPads. Lots of people are going to read into this that iPad is struggling in education. However, really this is all about the tendering process the district went through, which – it’s alleged – was skewed towards the iPad rather than other options.

Lenovo N20p Chromebook review: This $329 model stands out for its 300-degree hinge. When the only original thing about a product is a hinge, you know it’s not that interesting. This is another run-of-the-mill Chromebook, but with the difference that you can fold it into a shape which makes it unusable for anything except watching video.

Two weeks later: My switch from Outlook to Gmail. David Gerwitz is surprised to find that Gmail is a better email experience than Outlook. I’m not: Gmail has been built to deal with email as it exists in 2014, not as it was in 1998. Things have moved on, and Gmail, with its tabs which hide promotional mail and updates, makes dealing with email easier.

Google release 64-bit Chrome for Mac. If this means Chrome no longer sucks quite so much battery life out of my Mac, I might even go back to using it.

Broadwell chips heading to Chromebooks. My Haswell-based Dell 11 already gets me around 11 hours of battery life, so I’m really interested to find out what a Broadwell-based device could do.

Q&A: An Apple critic with plenty to say. Lengthy and interesting interview with John Siracusa, one of the most genuinely-knowledgeable journalists writing about Apple. John doesn’t write a lot, but what he does write is vital reading.

Your iPhone & iPad are ready to get to work with new apps for Docs, Sheets, & Slides. You can now use Google’s apps on iOS to edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. Not as well as Office for iPad will, of course, but for lightweight use it’s pretty good.

Dropbox increases its pro storage to 1tb for $10 a month. Not a huge surprise, given that both Google and Microsoft charge the same. I wonder if it means Apple will follow suit with iCloud?

How to email notes and ideas into Scrivener. Scrivener is an amazing application for any long-form writing, and this technique really helps to link it up to other apps.

Media

Pinterest Adds New Analytics Dashboard to Entice Future Advertisers. Pinterest is a massive referred of traffic to a lot of websites – Buzzfeed claims it refers more than Twitter – but up till now its analytics capabilities have been pretty lacklustre.

The Times of India just instituted a bizarre Twitter and Facebook policy. Reporters have a choice: hand over control of their personal social media accounts to the publication, or never post links to their own reporting. Huh?

Why Everyone Is Obsessed With E-Mail Newsletters Right Now. Quick answer: because it’s social media that puts the user firmly in control. Also because some very smart people are writing them.

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Wait a second, what am I paying journalists for?

The Indie gets all overexcited about some pictures of the “iPhone 6”. Only one problem…

Update: Eagle-eyed readers have pointed out that the image posted by China Telecom is concept art rather than leaked promotional material. The picture fits with everything we know about the iPhone 6 so far – but lets wait for the official launch before we get too excited.

I though the idea was that we paid reporters to be eagle-eyed, rather than printing any old shit and then expecting readers to do the checking for us? 

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Because journalism

So, so true:

These stories are the best kind of rumors, because they are absolutely unverifiable. Whether the next-gen iPhone is “delayed” or not is immaterial to the substance of this report. If the iPhone is delayed, rumor blogs have something to point to and say, “See? We told you so.” If the iPhone isn’t delayed or in short supply, this story will gather digital dust on Google’s cached servers, but no human will ever care about it again. It almost doesn’t even matter if this article is true or not, and we’ll never know for sure one way or another. Fun!

Because journalism. Or rather, because pageviews.

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Stuff I’ve found interesting this week

In homage to Stefan Constantinescu’s brilliant TabDump, every Sunday I’m going to try and write a summary of all the content I’ve come across over the week and link to it. If you’re not a TabDump supporter you should be – Stef does a brilliant job of finding the best content on a daily basis, and I recommend you subscribe.

Google Says HTTPS Is A Ranking Signal, But It’s Not Really. A big thing for the SEO world, but as this article lays out it’s not worth the hassle of moving to HTTPS just to keep in Google’s good books. Of course, there’s other good reasons for doing so.

With A Twitter Card Tweak, Now You Can Design Your New Acura In A Tweet. Twitter is gradually increasing the functionality available in Twitter Cards, which have come a long way since they were just a picture pulled from URL metadata.

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: what are the differences?. The answer: Virtually nothing. I think the Samsung’s design is much smarter though. And no, I’m not that interested in the Moto 360.

Inside Google’s Project Tango tablet. A tablet which only someone who doesn’t like tablets could love. Actually, Tango looks interesting, but it’s a classic example of the kind of project which emerges from Google every now and then: engineering fantasies, rather than real consumer products.

Inside the sneaky, surprisingly large world of rogue Chrome extensions. 130 outright malicious extensions is 130 too many, particularly given Chrome is supposed to be a secure platform. But the more than Chrome becomes an operating system rather than a browser, the more issues like this are going to arise.

Inside Apple’s Internal Training Program. From a couple of weeks ago, but if you haven’t read it it’s well worth it. Great work from Brian X Chen.

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Twitter and free speech

There’s been a big debate today on Twitter about whether the company is right to remove images of the death of James Foley, the journalist beheaded by ISIS. On one side of the debate has been Mathew Ingram, who posted his points on GigaOm. I think, though, I agree with Derek Powazek on this:

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Nuclear Regulator hacked “by foreign power”

Nice exclusive for Nextgov. Not your common or garden ID theft, but definitely a common or garden spearphishing attack:

Nuclear Regulatory Commission computers within the past three years were successfully hacked by foreigners twice and also by an unidentifiable individual, according to an internal investigation.

One incident involved emails sent to about 215 NRC employees in “a logon-credential harvesting attempt,” according to an inspector general report Nextgov obtained through an open-records request.

There’s plenty of information held by the likes of the NRC which would be very useful to foreign governments, but also to the kinds of hackers who sell data like this on the black market. And the malware they deployed doesn’t sound particularly complicated.

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Security update for Safari out

Apple’s released an update for Safari which fixes some security stuff:

Apple has released security fixes for vulnerabilities in its Safari web browser which left users open to attacks from cyber criminals.
The fixes relate to Safari 6.1.6 and Safari 7.0.6 and are available from the Apple support page now for OS X Lion v10.7.5, OS X Lion Server v10.7.5, OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.5 and OS X Mavericks v10.9.4.
The bugs exist in Safari’s WebKit and, according to Apple, mean that “visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution”.

Unfortunately, they’re not telling us what’s been fixed:

It is currently unclear whether the vulnerability is actively being exploited by hackers, as Apple has a steadfast policy of not commenting on security issues.
“For the protection of our customers, Apple does not disclose, discuss or confirm security issues until a full investigation has occurred and any necessary patches or releases are available,” reads Apple’s security policy.
F-Secure security researcher Sean Sullivan told V3 the firm is yet to see any evidence the vulnerabilities are being actively exploited, but voiced his frustration with Apple’s lack of detailed information on the issues being fixed.
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if Apple did something useful like provide a severity rating for its updates? I’m not seeing any chatter about the reliability of these vulnerabilities. It’s true that ‘arbitrary code execution’ is never a good thing – but it might not work enough of the time to be worth an attacker’s effort – or then, perhaps it is,” he said.

 

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