Shared posts

31 Jul 15:23

Here are 2 fonts that make your emails readable — and 2 you should never use

by Shana Lebowitz

staring at computer screenIn an ideal world, your email recipients would be moved more by the substance of your message than its aesthetic value.

But according to a recent article in Bloomberg, designers think certain fonts make a better impression in professional communications.

Here are two fonts they recommend using:

  • Georgia: Each letter written in this font has an additional stroke at the end. So it’s generally easier to read the individual characters.
  • Verdana: The shape of the letters in this font is more open than in fonts like Arial. There’s additional space between letters, and the spacing is more even.

Here are two fonts they suggest not using:

  • Helvetica: The letters are too close together, a type designer told Bloomberg. That makes it hard to read.
  • Arial: Font designers say it has “ambiguous” letter shapes (as in, the letters “b” and “d” are the same shape in reverse) that make it hard to read multiple words in a row.


email fonts

Arial and Helvetica are default fonts in many popular email clients, including Gmail and Apple Mail, but most font designers change the settings.

Meanwhile, one designer that spoke to Bloomberg advocates that organizations change their default font settings in order to make it easier for employees to read email.

SEE ALSO: 14 email etiquette rules every professional should know

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's what your handwriting reveals about your personality

27 Jul 19:42

The music you like says a lot about how your brain processes information

by Lydia Ramsey

girl listening to music headphonesConfession: I've recently started getting into country music — a genre of music that used to make me want to change the radio station as fast as possible.

But as uncharacteristic as it is for me to delve into that genre, it makes sense for the way I react to the world around me, according to a recent study published in PLOS ONE.

In the study, researchers found that the types of music you like are linked to the way you process information.

The study was based off the idea that there are two ways people respond to their surroundings:

The first way is called empathizing, where someone is socially apt and can easily interact with those around them. The second way, called systemizing, describes a less sociable way of interaction where the individual interacts with others based on a pre-set notion of how they think they should act.

For example, when asked by a friend if their new hair cut looks good, a systemizer would tell the truth without considering their friend's feelings while an empathyzer would fudge the truth and saw what they thought would make their friend feel good. This type of systemizing is more common in men than women, according to a 2005 study.

In fact, this hypothetical haircut situation is one of the pyschological questions that psychologists from the University of Cambridge asked about 4,000 study subjets, who were recruited through a Facebook app.

First, the participants took a survey that asked psychological questions to determine whether they empathize, systemize, or had a balance of the two. To figure that out, participants answered questions like "I always get emotional while watching movies" with strongly disagree, disagree, agree, or strongly agree.

To rule out predispositions to certain types of music, they asked the participants to evaluate 50 songs from 26 genres and subgenres.

They found that empathic people tended to like mellow, unpretentious or contemporary tunes such as Norah Jones' "Come away with me" or Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah." This kind of music included country and folk songs, which is most likely where my recent obsession with country music factors in.  

The songs could express negative emotions or be a trendy techno song — the empathizers were into it. But, ask the empathizers to listen to punk or heavy metal, and their reactions weren't as favorable.

Systemizing people, on the other hand, tended to like high-energy music that conveyed positive emotions. Songs with a fair amount of complexity, like a complicated piece of classical music. People whose answers didn't have a clear distinction between systemizer or empathizer tended to have a mix of both music tastes.

Here's a graph of what kind of music empathizers (Type E), systemizers (Type S) or balanced (Type B) liked. The more positive the score, the more that group of people liked that particular musical characteristic. The more negative the score, the more people of certain groups disliked that musical characteristic.


The mean age of the people involved in the study were around their mid-twenties, but some participants were as old as 61. The researchers controlled for gender and age. Even with gender and age playing a role, the connection between empathizer/sympathizer type and taste in music was still strong.

Knowing what types of music people like based on how they process information could be important information for companies like Spotify and Apple Music. "By knowing an individual's thinking style, such services might in future be able to fine tune their music recommendations to an individual," lead researcher David Greenberg said in a news release.

Interested in seeing if your thinking style matches your taste in music? Here's a quiz that can help you determine whether you empathize, systemize, or do a little of both.

READ NEXT: Science says these 2 personality traits predict whether you'll be a successful leader

CHECK OUT: Scientists discovered the personality trait that creative geniuses often share

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How much sex you should be having in a healthy relationship

15 Jul 13:29

An Iranian blogger who spent 6 years in prison has a dire warning about the future of the web (AAPL)

by Rob Price

Hossein Derakhshan

An Iranian blogger has described what it was like being introduced to the internet for the first time after spending six years in prison and why we should be worried about the changes that have occurred in the last decade. 

Nicknamed the "blogfather" for his work in advocating for the blog format, Derakhshan was one of Iran's most high-profile bloggers, and lived in Canada for eight years prior to his return to Iran in 2008 and subsequent arrest and sentencing. "I opened my laptop and posted to my new blog. This, though, was the first time in six years. And it nearly broke my heart," he writes in a piece for Matter.

Hossein Derakhshan was sentenced to 19 years in prison in November 2008 for "conspiring with hostile governments, spreading propaganda against the Islamic system, spreading propaganda in favour of counter-revolutionary groups, blasphemy, and creating and managing obscene websites," according to the BBC. He was finally released in November 2014, and quickly found that the internet was very different than before he was put behind bars. 

"Six years is a long time to be in jail, but it's an entire era online," he said, noting the "seismic shift in how people consume media."

Derakhshan's blog had an audience of 20,000 people each day in 2008, but even he points out how sparse the social media landscape was at that time: "There were no real apps, certainly not how we think of them today. There was no Instagram, no SnapChat, no Viber, no WhatsApp. Instead, there was the web, and on the web, there were blogs: the best place to find alternative thoughts, news and analysis," Derakhshan writes. 

After his release, Derakhshan discovered that social networks were now king. As a result, the internet was profoundly more "linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking," much like television, he says.

Hyperlinks have become devalued, as Facebook and its rivals try to encourage users to spend more time on its site. We're currently seeing the clearest indication of this trend yet, with Mark Zuckerberg's social media giant now natively hosting news articles on its platform so its users never have to venture to the outside web.

This nominally provides a smoother experience for users, but Derakhshan fears this is to the detriment of what the web was originally designed as, and what it could be. The reliance on algorithmic "streams" to provide relevant information to users "doesn’t just make vast chunks of the Internet biased against quality — it also means a deep betrayal to the diversity that the world wide web had originally envisioned."

He goes on: "The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking."

This reliance on social media is a constant concern for those in the media, who risk effectively surrendering their means of distribution to the opaque algorithms of private tech companies. Facebook in particular is responsible for upwards of 50% of traffic for many media companies. 

However, Derakhshan's concerns relate more to the experience of the web for the users themselves. The malaise he identifies is similar to what is known as the "filter bubble" the phenomenon where Google, Facebook, etc.'s algorithms identify what a user (apparently) likes and uses that to guide what content it shows them — thereby hiding vast swathes of content deemed uninteresting, placing the user in a "bubble." 

Read Hossein Derakhshan's full article here »

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: No Instagram, no Twitter, no Facebook — there's basically NO internet in Cuba

13 Jul 14:41

Facebook's chief security officer follows Steve Jobs' lead and calls for an end to Adobe Flash

by Cale Guthrie Weissman

Kill Adobe Flash guns

In 2010, Steve Jobs famously wrote a pages-long manifesto about why he would not allow Adobe Flash to work on Apple mobile devices.

"We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods, and iPads by adding Flash," the Apple CEO firmly stated.

Five years later, further clues backing up Jobs' security warning continue to persist. Now, Facebook’s new chief security officer, Alex Stamos, has stated publicly that he wants to see Adobe end Flash once and for all. 

On Twitter this weekend Stamos — formally of Yahoo, now at Facebook — tweeted the following: 

It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day.

— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) July 12, 2015

Stamos' call for the end of Flash likely has to do with a great deal of new Flash-related revelations. Following the highly-publicized Hacking Team hack, which saw a major surveillance company’s files completely leaked online, a slew of new vulnerabilities have been disclosed relating to Adobe’s Flash player. 

Adobe has patched these issues, but still more vulnerabilities continue to arise. In fact, as soon as Adobe announced it had patched a few issues, more were disclosed — at least 20 were discovered in the last week alone.

Adobe has been actively working to fix these issues, but Flash seems to be extremely targeted by hackers and it’s likely to not stop. It has been going on for years.

Security blogger Graham Cluley agrees with Stamos. He writes, "The truth is that the company would probably gain a lot more respect from the internet community if it worked towards this ultimate fix for the Flash problem, rather than clinging on to the belief that it might be able to one day make Flash secure."

People in this camp believe the answer to be for Adobe to kill off the player, but with ample warning. This is because not only do most major browers support the player, but many smaller companies' entire web programs rely on Flash.

But once a 'kill-off date' is announced, everyone can transition toward more secure and open options like HTML5. Facebook, for instance, uses both Flash and HTML5, depending on browser preferences.

Of course, if such a end-of-life date for Adobe Flash were to be announced, it would certainly cause a lot of tumult. Smaller companies and organizations without the resources of Facebook-like behemoths would have to totally rethink their web design.

But perhaps a clean break with a fair amount of warning is the only way to make for a safer internet. At least that’s what people like Stamos think.

SEE ALSO: One company thinks Hacking Team's massive breach may bring about some good

SEE ALSO: The insane ways your phone and computer can be hacked — even if they're not connected to the internet

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How to use Google Maps when you have no phone service

24 Jun 09:44

The one crucial reason Apple Music and Spotify can never replace your music collection

by Rob Price

Vinyl record shop

There is a fundamental problem with music streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music.

It's not that streaming music often fails to properly value artists' work — although there have been grumblings about the amounts paid out by Spotify to rights-holders for years.

And it's not the overall cost of a lifetime of a streaming service, although Apple founder Steve Jobs hated streaming services for exactly this reason. In one of his famous keynote speeches, he once railed against the idea of "renting" music, arguing that you end up paying for your favourites songs thousands of times over.

It's not even the limited selection of music on there, although even the best and most comprehensive streaming service is unable to acquire the rights to everything you might want to listen to.

Permanence is everything.

Let's imagine for a second, that Spotify goes on living for another 30 years. That's a pretty long time for any company to stick around — especially in an industry as volatile and prone to disruption as the intersection of music and technology.

Barring any unfortunate accidents, that would make me 53 when the company finally closes its doors in 2045. And then what happens? My entire music collection, painstakingly built over three decades of careful listening — gone forever.

daniel ek spotify 1Music is not like a film, or a book, that you consume perhaps half a dozen times at most. It makes up the backdrop to your life. Whether it's the early teenage freedom that accompanied The Killers' "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine," or the "Indecision" by Sampha soundtracking a period of listless post-graduation melancholy — music is linked to almost every major moment of my existence. And just listening can take me back at any moment.

When you're "renting" your music, the problem isn't that you're paying for your favourite music thousands of times over. It's that you have no control over it. You could lose it at any time, through no fault of your own. In 20 years, CEO Tim Cook's successor at Apple could decide the company needs to tighten its belt, and wipe out 100 million people's libraries overnight. That uncertainty undermines music's most powerful quality — that it's a concrete link to the past.

Of course, the alternative — owning your music — has its own problems. It's expensive, and takes up significant amounts of storage space. Music streaming also offers powerful convenience — so much so that I'll admit that I will sometimes use Spotify when I'm out and about.

And, with owned music, there's always the risk that you lose the hard drive your collection is stored on — and with it your years of careful work. Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal et al don't have this problem (though the risks can be mitigated through careful backing up).

So, yes, ownership of music isn't perfect. But ultimately, when I'm old and looking back upon my life, I'll want my music collection more than ever. And the custodianship of that is not a responsibility I'm willing to grant Apple — or anyone else.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Elon Musk's life story is more incredible than fiction

18 Jun 18:46

5 surprising lessons a psychologist learned from interviewing killers for 20 years

by Chris Weller

mentally disturbed

James Garbarino has made a living crawling into people's psyches.

Which is to say, he interviews criminals before appearing as a witness to give expert testimony in their trials.

Earlier this year, the Loyola University psychologist published a book tying these experiences together, entitled "Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My Twenty Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases." 

We spoke to Garbarino to get a better sense of the side of killers that most people never see.

Here are the lessons:

1. Murderers rarely fit the mold of "monsters."

In sitting down with stone-cold killers, Garbarino says he's learned that underneath the many layers of violent and sociopathic tendencies is usually a person who simply needs help.

"If you can sit across from them as another human being, their humanity can be striking," he said.

On one occasion, he interviewed a man who by anyone else's definition would have been terrifying, but revealed to Garbarino that he cries himself to sleep most nights. 

Oftentimes, Garbarino says these moments get him seeing the world from the murderers' point of view, understanding their thought processes and sensing the moral dilemmas they've faced on the path leading up to the crime.

Which leads into the next fallacy...

2. There's no such thing as a "senseless killing."

Each crime has its own logic, Garbarino says. Even if the outside world can't see it.

That doesn't absolve criminals of the horrible things they do, he concedes. But it should help illuminate an important back story lurking in the criminals' psychology. Maybe he can understand where things went wrong.

Garbarino offers the example of a gang initiation. Upon entering the gang, many inductees prove their worth by killing a random victim. They're told to give the victim a choice between getting stabbed to death or getting shot. 

"That is so far from a choice that any of us would have to make," Garbarino says. 

Ultimately, that distance makes it harder for people to understand how high the stakes really are. Kids typically join gangs for protection, but the barriers to entry are so grisly and gruesome that the general public only sees the effect.

By then, any cause — however justified to the criminal — is irrelevant.

3. Murderers are profoundly damaged.

It isn't evil that drives people to kill. Instead, killers are driven by devastating histories of trauma, Garbarino says. 

In each interview he conducts, Garbarino asks the criminal a set of 10 questions designed to learn about abuse, domestic violence, and other perils of childhood. Formally, the diagnostic test is known as the Adverse Childhood Experience scale.

Most of the general population will score a 0 or  1 — the healthiest scores you can get.

"When I ask these questions of guys in these murder cases, it's rare that you get anybody less than eight," Garbarino says. "And it's very common to get nine or ten."

Garbarino likens the experience to shark attacks. No one would fault a 25-year-old who can't walk because he got his leg torn off by a great white when he was five and never received physical therapy or a prosthesis, he says. Many murderers go through the same debilitating hardships.

"For a lot of these guys, it's as if they've had psychological shark attacks. It takes a big hunk out of you," he says. "And I think it has to be taken into account in understanding why the violence happens and what to do for and about the guys who do it."

4. The worst criminals can be the most capable of change.

Garbarino says the magnitude of the crime doesn't always predict how responsive a murderer will be to rehabilitation. Especially for adolescents, it isn't farfetched to describe several violent years as a "high-stakes phase." 

"I don't mean to trivialize the crime, but there is a sense in which it's phase-like or stage-specific," he says. 

In the book, Garbarino recounts the story of a teenager who plotted a Columbine-like school massacre. Prosecutors wanted to try him as an adult, which would have tacked on decades to his sentence for numerous counts of pre-meditated murder. But Garbarino successfully pushed for him to be tried as a juvenile.

As a result, the teen went back to high school after only a couple years, joined the army, rose through the ranks, got married, and had a family.

"He got through that crazy phase," Garbarino says, "and instead of [the state] spending millions of dollars to incarcerate him, he became an upstanding citizen. And that is possible more times than people realize."

5. Evaluations are incredibly draining.

"It takes a toll on the professionals who enter into these lives, to sit with so much suffering and so much trauma," Garbarino says.

He says he finds himself turning to his spiritual life to help cope. Without it, he fears he'd succumb to "vicarious traumatization" and basically absorb pieces of the tragedies that he hears about.

"I didn't set out to do this," he says, pointing to his initial international work with underprivileged children. "In fact, after the first five years I had to take a break for a year because it was just too much, and I re-approached it later on."

SEE ALSO: 11 Ex-Criminals Who Completely Turned Their Lives Around

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 7 Psychology Tricks To Influence People And Get Exactly What You Want

11 Jun 04:00

Your phone knows how many steps you take per day, shouldn't your doctor?

The rise of health apps has made it possible to chart your steps, heartbeat, and sleep patterns, but the availability of this constant stream of information has yet to reach patient electronic health records. In a commentary published on June 11 in Cell Systems, Harvard researchers argue that these mobile devices could rapidly reshape the practice of medicine. The first steps though will be creating standards that can enforce cross-platform communications.
29 May 13:58

The biggest drug dealer on the internet has been sentenced to 10 years in prison

by James Cook

SuperTrips Silk Road dealer

Cornelis Jan Slomp, the Dutch man who became the biggest seller of illegal drugs on deep web marketplace The Silk Road, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday, the Chicago Sun Times reports. 

Slomp sold MDMA, ecstasy, cocaine, Benzodiazepine, amphetamine, LSD, and marijuana in vast quantities on The Silk Road, working from his home in Holland and using the account name "SuperTrips."

What made Slomp such a big target wasn't the range of drugs that he sold (lots of deep web sellers offer a variety of items), but the sheer amount that he was able to sell. The Chicago Sun Times reports that Slomp boasted on his seller profile on The Silk Road that he had "big stockpiles of product, you literally cannot empty me out."

Vocativ called Slomp "the Pablo Escobar of Silk Road" due to his high level of sales. It says that he received 385,000 bitcoin for his drugs, worth around $170 million (£111 million). That's higher than any other seller on The Silk Road.

In 2013, Slomp was arrested after a arriving Miami, ready to get into his rented Lamborghini. Court documents show that investigators discovered his fingerprints on DVD cases used to ship drugs in 2012, and had managed to track him down.

The man behind SuperTrips pled guilty to selling drugs in 2014, and accepted a plea agreement for a more lenient sentence than the maximum of 40 years that he could have faced, the Chicago Tribune reported. He told US prosecutors that he was prepared to testify against alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht, but ultimately was not called as a witness.

The Chicago Sun Times reports that Slomp told US District Judge Matthew Kennelly on Thursday that he felt “ashamed and embarrassed" of his crimes, and received a 10-year sentence. He went on to tell the judge that "I don’t think any of this could have happened without the anonymity of the Internet." It was recommended that Slomp serve his time in a Dutch prison.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 5 cool tricks your iPhone can do with the latest iOS update

29 May 12:02

Al Qaeda's strategy in Syria is working

by Armin Rosen

Jolani nusraAbu Muhammad al-Jolani, the head of Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, granted an exclusive interview to Al Jazeera Arabic this week, sitting in an ornate chair with his back to the camera and a hood covering most of his face.

The group he leads, Jabhat al Nusra, is perhaps the most powerful and effective fighting force in the Syrian opposition and is currently playing a decisive role in the rebel movement's gains in northern Syria.

As former Israel Defense Forces intelligence officer and Terrogence analyst Waleed Rikab explained to Business Insider, Nusra has a strategy of gradually co-opting more secular or nationalist Syrian rebel groups, both by making itself an indispensable battlefield ally and by exhibiting a willingness to cooperate with non-jihadist or non-Islamist opponents of the Assad regime.

The Jolani interview shows just how much that strategy has paid off — for both Nusra and the broader Al Qaeda network.

In the interview, Jolani took a conciliatory approach to Syria's minorities, vowing not to actively persecute the country's Christian and Druze populations. On the Alawites, the minority religious sect to which Syrian president Bashar al Assad and many of his top lieutenants belong, Jolani said that he didn't consider Alawites to be his "brothers," but claimed that he had no current desire to carry out genocidal reprisal attacks.

He eschewed Takfirism, or the radical Islamist idea that all individuals who do not adhere to strict, fundamental Islam should be killed, even if they consider themselves to be practicing, observant Muslims. He said explicitly that Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri had prohibited Nusra from using Syria as a base to plan and execute attacks against western targets, meaning the group has been ordered to focus its efforts solely around the Syria conflict.

Al Qaeda Nusra Front

In the interview, Jolani tries to make Nusra seem like a reasonable alternative to Assad, but without backing down from its Al Qaeda affiliation or permanently repudiating more extreme aspects of jihadist ideology. The interview shows that Nusra — and, by extension, al Qaeda — has a plan to edge into the mainstream of the Syria conflict and thus into any post-Assad political dispensation.

It's evidence that Al Qaeda has a sophisticated long-game — and it's playing it effectively.

"Jolani is communicating to the audience and to his own supporters that Nusra is a revolutionary force inside of Syria that's fighting for the Syrian people and that isn't directly concerned with the West, except to express its condemnation that the west has effectively chosen the wrong side in the Syria war," Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, explained to Business Insider.

According to Cafarella, Nusra has "undertaken an effort to create an image of greater tolerance" as part of Jolani's larger effort to "consolidate Nusra's position a the forefront of emerging rebel governance, particularly in northern Syria."

Nusra isn't moderate in any sense: The group would like to establish an emirate in Syria that could eventually become part of a larger, Al Qaeda-ruled caliphate. And it wants to use that emirate — which would be ruled along fundamentalist Islamic grounds — as a jumping-off point for attacks on both neighboring secular governments and the West.

Nusra's has stayed attuned to local concerns and delayed the implementation of its more radical and alienating policies. In doing so, the group has co-opted the Syrian civil war into Al Qaeda's global program.

"Nusra believes very much in the acquisition of local support as a precondition for the emergence of the Islamic emirate," says Cafarella. Compared to ISIS, which has already declared a caliphate, Nusra is "patient and willing to scale its behavior in order to avoid alienating the population."

Syria Control Map 22 MAY 15One of the interview's more ominous glimpses into the dangers of this long-term strategy related to the flag placed prominently on a table between Jolani and his interviewer. According to Cafarella, the miniature banner included Al Qaeda's name, and described Nusra as "the Al Qaeda franchise in Al Shams [the Levant], Jabhat al Nusra."

At at time when Nusra is at its strongest, and has positioned itself as one of the Syria conflict's most important actors, the group could gain a degree of international acceptance, and open the way for more pragmatic cooperation with the international community, if it ditched or otherwise toned down its Al Qaeda affiliation.

Instead, its top leader is flaunting his Al Qaeda connections in a high-profile television interview.

The Syria conflict is one of the main drivers of Al Qaeda's resurgence, and the war is enhancing the prestige of a terrorist network that President Barack Obama once said had been "defeated." Its leaders in both Syria and Pakistan understand that the next phase of Syria's destructive, 4-year-long conflict will likely play out to their advantage.

SEE ALSO: The FIFA arrests show how far Qatar has fallen

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 70 people were injured while filming this movie with 100 untamed lions

21 Jun 13:01

Artist Makes Everyday Objects Completely Unusable

by Tomas

Switzerland-born Italian artist Giuseppe Colarusso has a strange fetish for making everyday objects totally unusable. Each of the objects in Colarusso’s pictures are strange, and more than being useless, they would even cause you problems if applied in everyday life: from Egyptian hieroglyphs on a keyboard to a square rolling-pin, or an ordinary hammer with an electrical plug to a table tennis racket with a whole in the middle.

It sometimes takes time to understand what you’re seeing and what’s the catch, and that way every pictures becomes a bit of a puzzle to solve.

“With these images I try to smile and think,” says Colarusso. Looks like his imagination is way out of the box!

Website: (via ufunk)

..Or Extremely Useful Like This All-in-one Spray Can

Or These Coffee Cans

Artist Makes Everyday Objects Completely Unusable originally appeared on Bored Panda on June 21, 2013.

  1. oversized-objects-romulo-celdran-thumb45 Oversized Everyday Household Objects
  2. things-with-faces-thumb45 26 Faces in Everyday Objects
  3. food-art-sarah-illenberger-thumb45 Creative Food Art by Sarah Illenberger
  4. anamorphic-portrait-bernard-pras-thumb45 Massive Optical Illusion Made of Recycled Objects
23 May 03:05


18 May 20:43

A computer student LOVES using Windows 10 on a new 2015 MacBook (MSFT)

by Julie Bort
Maxim Bange

Nice piece :-)

Alex King

Alex King, a computer science student at Pacific Northwest bought the 2015 12-inch MacBook about a month ago.

He likes to play Windows PC games so he promptly loaded Windows 8.1 on it using a feature called Bootcamp, which lets a Mac switch back and forth between Windows and OS X.

A few days ago, he thought, what the heck? He'd try the as yet-unfinished preview version of Windows 10, and surprise!

He found the user interface in Windows 10 often worked faster and smoother on the Mac than OS X.

He writes:

Here's the real kicker: it's fast. It's smooth. It renders at 60FPS unless you have a lot going on. It's unequivocally better than performance on OS X, further leading me to believe that Apple really needs to overhaul how animations are done.

... So maybe it's ironic that in some regards, the new MacBook runs Windows 10 (a prerelease version, at that) better than it runs OS X. But it's a testament to two things: Apple's fantastic MacBook hardware, which is forward-thinking yet surprisingly agile; and Microsoft's excellent Windows software ...

To be fair, King did have to do some doctoring before he got Windows 10 to work perfectly on the Mac.

For instance, he had to install some special trackpad software (he recommends Trackpad++) and re-run the installation of drivers (a step that Microsoft recommended he skip during the initial installation). He documented the process in detail on his blog.

And, also to be fair, he found that the unfinished Windows 10 software did have some bugs:

Windows 10 is still very much beta software, and sometimes it has slowdowns that don’t seem otherwise characteristic of its performance.

But all told, he was so delighted with how well Windows 10 worked on the new Mac, he heartily recommends it:

I'm excited to keep Windows 10 installed on this machine, both now as a preview, and later once the final version is installed. Even hardened OS X diehards owe it to themselves to give it a try.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's how Floyd Mayweather spends his millions

14 May 18:49

edwardspoonhands: treblesketch-abscond: Wait no stop One time...



Wait no stop

One time I forgot what mirrors were called so, instead, said “Face Window.”

Raw toast gets me every time.

14 May 15:11

Things in space don’t behave like you expect (bi-stable...

Things in space don’t behave like you expect (bi-stable intermediate moments of inertia).

27 Apr 19:51

Why this man is teaching people how to write malware for Macs

by Natasha Bertrand and Michael B Kelley


Patrick Wardles says that he "drinks the Apple juice."

At the same time, the director of research at Synack, Inc. recently gave a presentation at the elite Infiltrate hacking conference in Miami Beach detailing "exactly how to practically create elegant, bad@ss OS X malware."

So why would a professional hacker who says he loves Apple want to design damaging code that could corrupt some of his most beloved products?

"OS X malware is already an unfortunate reality," Wardle told Business Insider. "By revealing methods that adversaries are likely already using — and illustrating how these techniques can trivially bypass Apple and 3rd-party security products — we can hopefully encourage open dialogue and ideally improve the situation to become more secure."

When asked why Apple has not done more to address these security issues itself, Wardle replied that Apple may simply be resting on its laurels since Apple products are more secure by default and the company is not losing any money yet.

"One well-known anti-virus vendor I spoke to recently said that while the Windows version of their anti-virus product has built-in problem-solving capabilities, their OS X version does not yet," Wardle said. "They were quick to point out that this is because current OS X malware is not as advanced as Windows malware, so they didn’t really see the need."

Wardle believes this ad-hoc approach to detecting Apple malware is misguided, however, as there are likely advanced OS X security holes out there that just haven't been found yet.

"My hope is to show how easy it is to create more advanced OS X malware to prod us along toward better security," Wardle said. He did just that at the recent RSA Security Conference in San Francisco.

.@patrickwardle wrote his own malware to see if a variety of anti-malware could detect it — they all #failed #RSAC

— Dan Reshef (@dreshef) April 23, 2015

Less safe than most think

Many people love their Apple products because they believe they are immune to the kinds of viruses that have long plagued Windows. To a certain extent, that is true — there haven't been any major OS X worms (while Windows has been hit with several). But Wardle argues that's not entirely accurate.

unnamed 1"Just because you have a Mac computer doesn’t mean you are any more secure than your Windows counterparts," he said.

"You should still always strive to adhere to standard security practices — i.e., keep your computer updated and don’t download or run software from untrusted sources."

Wardle claims that Apple's past attempts to fix its various security holes were not advanced enough.

On his way home from Infiltrate, Wardle realized he could bypass Apple's fix for a vulnerability known as "rootpipe" and get the highest levels of privileges even on a fully patched OS X computer.

"Yes they patched rootpipe, but I was able to side-step their patch," he explained. "Similarly, I was able to bypass Gatekeeper [an anti-malware feature of the OS X operating system] and build a downloadable image that contained unsigned code which would allow the unsigned code to run, even though Gatekeeper is designed to prevent this."

Wardle reports security issues to Apple every time he encounters one, and he believes they are actively working to remedy the situation and patch the flaws.

'I don't want the Chinese to hack me'

Beyond problems that require a fix from Apple, Wardle discusses another issue: "Legitimate functionality of the OS can be abused by a local attacker/malware to be more stealthy/elegant/effective."

Detailing that issue is important so that governments and companies are aware of more sophisticated attackers.

"This [Wardle's] type of exploit research is vital to advancing the science of both offense and defense," security expert Dave Aitel, CEO of Immunity, Inc., told Business Insider at Infiltrate.

"Most of the time companies only become aware of serious or complex vulnerabilities through the research community, while at the same it’s likely that nation-states have already detected these same vulnerabilities — China, Russia, US and other big countries have large offensive research teams and capabilities."

For Wardle, it comes down to: "I don't want the Chinese to hack me."

chinese hackers china cyberProtecting again hacker using legitimate code is tricky because "it’s not really Apple’s fault when legitimate things get abused" and "‘fixing’ them would likely break a lot of legitimate code," Wardle said.

"Once an attacker has gotten access on your computer or installed malware, you’ve gotta assume its game over," Wardle said. "If attacker’s were a little more stealthy and abused legitimate features of the OS more, their malware would be harder to detect."

Consequently, the best thing Apple could do is make some broader security improvements that would make it harder to abuse OS features.

"For example, the OS could say, ‘if you’re an Apple signed process, I'm not going to allow you to load any unsigned dynamic libraries," Wardle said, referring to the digital 'libraries' that hold files for apps on Macs.

Wardle says he is striving to be a part of the solution while also pointing out the problems. At RSA, he released some free security tools of his own.

"These are simply the tools I run on my personal Mac to help keep it secure, and I figured I should share," Wardle said. "People seem to be responding positively so far — we're almost at 10,000 cumulative downloads."

Check out Wardle's Infiltrate presentation >

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's what it takes to be President Obama's right-hand man

23 Apr 09:13

Microsoft is bringing Solitaire back to Windows 10

by Tom Warren

Despite admitting games like Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts "have a devoted following," Microsoft chose to remove them from Windows 8. While overhauled and modern versions were available in the Windows Store, there’s nothing quite as nostalgic as navigating to Start > Programs> Accessories > Games, and finding the classic Windows games. Microsoft is now bringing back Solitaire as a built-in game on Windows 10. It’s the same modern version from Windows 8, but you no longer have to search around the Windows Store to find it and play.

It’s a similar decision to the return of the Start Menu, bringing back features Windows users are familiar with. Only Solitaire is back as a built-in app so far, and that may even change by the time...

Continue reading…

10 Apr 14:08

Three models made a must-watch video that's blowing up on Facebook with over 200 million views and counting

by Taylor Lorenz

Australian comedy group SketchShe's "Bohemian Carsody" video raked in over 20 million views on YouTube, and now the trio of models slash stand up comics have returned with a new hit. 

Their latest video, "Mime Through Time," features the three girls decked up in period-style outfits as they sing songs from throughout the past 75 years. 

They belt out tunes by everyone from Britney Spears to the Beatles, and even strip down naked for their final act.
SketchsheThe video has already proved a smash hit. It currently has over 19 million views on YouTube and hundreds of millions more on Facebook.

SketchsheIt's an impressive feat considering the three women only joined forces in December. Shae-Lee Shackleford,28, Lana Kington, 25, Madison Lloyd,27, are all members of the same modeling agency and became fast friends.

SketchSheThey decided to get together and film the hilarious videos in Shackleford's father's driveway and had no idea the enormous attention they would receive. 

'The fact that we've had people writing to us from around the world... I don't think there's been a country or continent that hasn't reached out and written to us to say they loved it," Shackleford tells the Daily Mail.

SketchsheHowever, despite international attention and a Los Angeles press tour, their filming methods are still very DIY. "The first time we had a bra in the car so we taped the iPhone to it and propped it up that way, but this time we upgraded to a block of wood, but it's still very dodgy," Shackleford says.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why 16 million fans are obsessed with this 24-year-old from Hawaii doing impersonations on YouTube

12 Apr 01:42

This 2-year-old disc jockey is becoming a phenomenon in South Africa

by Amanda Macias and Associated Press

dj aj toddler south africa

At first it seems like a fluke — a 2-year-old playing with the knobs and buttons of a sophisticated music system. Yet, the pint size boy is in control of the beat of the bass-heavy house music. He is South Africa's youngest disc jockey, DJ AJ.

At a shopping mall appearance, a crowd gathers around the young boy as he bops his head to the beat, his large headphones slipping off. Adults whip out their cellphones to capture the moment while children just stare.

dj aj toddler south africaOratilwe Hlongwane is still learning to put together words but the toddler is already able to select and play music from a laptop and has become a viral phenomenon on South Africa's social media.

His mother, Refiloe Marumo, credits his father's decision to buy an iPad for his then unborn son.

Glen Hlongwane planned to download educational apps to speed up his child's education.

Hlongwane, a gymnastics coach and aspiring DJ, also downloaded a disc jockeying app for himself.

At about a year old, DJ AJ learned how to manipulate the gadget. Not satisfied with number recognition games, he began to fiddle with his father's DJ app.

"Whatever he was doing with the mixer, turning the knobs, the timing of him doing what he was doing was like so good and he knew where the effect button was and he was fading in and fading out," his father told CCTV Africa.

The parents were blown away when their son, still in diapers, repeated what he had learned on the app on actual DJ equipment, playing with sound effects and bouncing between songs. A cellphone video of him playing went viral and now DJ AJ has nearly 25,000 Facebook fans.

south african toddler djHis newfound fame has brought special appearances and sponsorship deals many older DJs dream of.

But celebrity has also brought some criticism as some accused his parents of abuse and profiting from their child's precocious ability.

"I'm not going to exploit my kid," said his father. DJ AJ's parents will not allow him to play in clubs or at parties.

dj south africaHlongwane and Marumo are adamant that they will not force their son to be a DJ when he grows up, but say they believe his affinity for electronic equipment will probably decide his future.

Hongwane said: "I can see a future Bill Gates here."

Here is a video of DJ AJ:

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This is what happens to your brain and body when you check your phone before bed

07 Apr 12:56

Microsoft Lumia 640 arriveert in de eerste Nederlandse winkels

by (Tim Wijkman)
De begin maart tijdens het Mobile World Congress gepresenteerde Microsoft Lumia 640 is vandaag gearriveerd in de eerste Nederlandse winkels. De smartphone biedt een ongekend goede prijs / functionaliteitverhouding.
22 Mar 18:27

The one important thing everybody needs to understand about Google

by Matt Rosoff

Larry Page Google

A lot of people think Google Search is like a map: An objective guide to the best and most important material on the internet.

It's not.

Google Search is the most important product of a very wealthy and successful for-profit company. And Google will use this product to further its own commercial ends. 

This became clearer than ever this week when the Wall Street Journal uncovered an internal FTC report saying that Google was illegally using material from other web sites, like TripAdvisor and Amazon, directly in its search results.

When those companies complained, Google threatened to remove them entirely from the search listings.

The FTC report suggested suing Google for antitrust, but Google made some changes to its practices — importantly, it let companies opt out of letting Google show their content directly in search results — and the FTC commissioners voted to drop the investigation in 2013. 

But it's an interesting and rare insight into how Google actually works, versus how you might think it works.

Google's challenge with search

First of all, for all we hear about self-driving cars and Internet balloons and Android and YouTube, search is still Google's most important business today. By far.

In 2014, Google booked $45 billion in advertising revenue from its own sites, out of $66 billion total.

The company won't break out how much of that is first-party ad revenue is Google Search versus other products, but by all accounts it's the vast majority — Google's only other massively popular web site, YouTube, reportedly booked "only" $4 billion last year. This is why the people who work on search and search ads at Google are still considered rock stars at the company, according to many people who work there.

Google actually has a very tough set of technical and business challenges with search. It has to make Google Search as useful as possible, otherwise people will stop using Google and turn to alternatives – not just Microsoft's Bing, which has struggled to gain market share despite being perfectly good on most kinds of searches, but alternatives like Amazon for product search or Yelp for restaurant search. This risk is higher with smartphones, where people are increasingly using apps on their smartphones rather than a search engine in their computer's web browser.

Sometimes, Google has a legitimate case that its own products offer better answers than the web at large — there's no reason to force users to click to another web site to answer a question like "Who's the president of Albania?" 

At the same time, Google wants people to use its other products, where it also sells ads.

The end result of this difficult balancing act? In general, Google is taking more and more information that it provides itself and putting it at the top of its search results. 

This graphic shows the difference between Google search results in 2008 (left) and 2012 (right).

Google Search Results Pages in 2008 versus 2012

Google has used other tricks over the years, too, like putting Google users' reviews ahead of reviews from third-party sites like TripAdvisor (as long as the person searching was signed in to Google).

google yelp

A lot of competitors, particularly Yelp, have been complaining about these kinds of tactics for a long time. While US officials have so far stopped short of formally calling Google Search a monopoly or filing formal charges in this area, it now looks like Europe will soon file charges.

Why shouldn't Google do whatever it wants with search?

Is this fair? Do we need really governments to monitor and control Google's search results?

It's sort of like when Microsoft was being investigated by the US Department of Justice for bundling its own web browser, Internet Explorer, with Windows. Steve Ballmer reportedly said during the trial that Microsoft should be allowed to bundle a ham sandwich with Windows — after all, Windows was a Microsoft product, not some kind of public utility.

That was true until the antitrust case went to trial and a judge found in 2000 that Microsoft Windows was a monopoly product, and that Microsoft had used that monopoly power to exclude competitors. The precise legal reasoning is more complicated — antitrust is complicated — but the basic takeaway here is that governments can rule that certain products are so important, and so dominant, that they're no longer exclusively under the control of the company that creates them.

The Microsoft case eventually went through appeals and the company suffered fewer restrictions than the first judge, Thomas Jackson, originally imposed. But his "findings of fact" were really important: They paved the way for dozens of antitrust lawsuits by US state attorneys general and private companies like Sun, RealNetworks, and IBM. Microsoft had to pay billions in settlements before the fallout receded.

This is what Google desperately wants to avoid. If a government body issues a formal legal ruling that Google Search is an anticompetitive monopoly that needs to be regulated, it opens the floodgates.

google google search

Just remember what Google is

Regardless of whether Google faces new charges, the thing to keep in mind is that Google is a for-profit company. Its products have to be good, otherwise nobody will use them. But they also serve the larger business goals of the company.

Android isn't just a mobile operating system that Google decided to give away to anybody who wanted to use it. It's also a way for Google to make sure that nobody else dominates mobile browsing, where they might be tempted to guide people away from Google's search engine and ads.

Chrome isn't just an attempt to build a faster, better web browser. It also gives you lots of ways to search Google, plus offers many subtle encouragements to stay signed into Google services at all time (if you want those personalized bookmarks on top of your Chrome browser, you need to be signed in), which in turn helps Google target search results and ads just for you.

Every Google product should be viewed through this lens. Last week's revelations make this clearer than ever.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 14 things you didn't know your iPhone headphones could do

12 Feb 19:00

The 20 best board games of 2014, finalists from Board Game Geek

by Charlie Hall

The community at, known hobby games tastemakers, have announced this year's nominees for board game of the year. If you're a fan of the hobby, or interested in learning more, this is a great place to start.

BoardGameGeek is a massively popular gaming resource and online community, made up of board and hobby games fans. Every year the community votes on the Golden Geek Awards, celebrating the best games of the year in many categories, broadly including board games, role-playing games and video games. This year's board game of the year category is crowded, with 20 nominees.

Alchemists - A strategy game for 2-4 players where each takes the role of a "budding alchemist" trying to discover the secrets of their "mystical...

Continue reading…

24 Jul 20:24

Here's What Comes After Generation Z

by Christina Sterbenz

kid with iPhone

You've heard all about Millennials or Generation Y, the tech-savvy youngsters who were born in the 1980s and came of age around the turn of the millenium.

And retail strategists are already paying attention to Generation Z, the post-1990s generation that doesn't remember a world before the tech boom.

But what comes after Z? Clearly someone didn't think this through, but now an answer is emerging.

Futurist, demographer, and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle is leading the campaign to call anyone born after 2010 a part of Generation Alpha.

Alpha kids will grow up with iPads in hand and never live without a smartphone and the ability to transfer a thought online in seconds. These massive technological changes, among others, make Generation Alpha the most transformative generation ever, according to McCrindle.

"In the past, the individual had no power, really," McCrindle says. "Now, the individual has great control of their lives through being able to leverage this world. Technology, in a sense, transformed the expectations of our interactions."

Coining "Generation Alpha"

It all started when McCrindle and his team started wondering what comes after Z.

In 2005, McCrindle's group ran a national survey in Australia asking respondents to think up potential names themselves. "Alpha" emerged and seemed like a natural fit, considering science disciplines, such as meteorology, often move to the Greek alphabet after exhausting the Roman alphabet or Arabic numerals.

While possibilities like Gen Tech, Digital Natives, and Net Gen have been posed, many have unofficially dubbed the group "Generation Alpha." McCrindle, for one, hopes it sticks.

Everyone under the age of 5 falls into the Alpha category, as does anyone born in the next 15 years, what McCrindle considers the usual span of a generation. Unlike previous generations, which have used technology, Alphas will spend the bulk of their formative years completely immersed in it.

"Even new technologies have been transformed," McCrindle says. "It's not just email — it's instant messaging. It's not just sharing a document online — it's a Prezzi or a YouTube video."

A Demographic Shift

Shifts in global population will also affect Generation Alpha's experience. For example, as early as 2028, India could surpass China as the most populous country in the world, according to United Nation's recent data.

"Generational labeling has been a Western phenomenon," McCrindle says. Consider Baby Boomers, named for those born in the U.S. during the post-World War II "baby boom." And "teenager," a term coined in the mid-20th century.

Such labels are a much newer concept in developing countries, which may lag behind in both population and technology, creating less variety between generations. 

In Generation Alpha's time, however, "India and China will become the center of gravity," McCrindle notes. Countries who have experienced less development until recently will naturally experience a more pronounced generation gap with Alpha.

With better technology and more people to fuel its growth, children in these countries will trade some of their traditional, Eastern values for more tech-savvy and global ideas, McCrindle explains. 

The Biggest Leap Ever

This new climate of connectivity makes the leap from Gen Z to Alpha the largest in history, according to McCrindle — even bigger than than from Baby Boomers to Gen X, who experienced the invention of computers. 

For Baby Boomers, the newest computers were still mechanical and manual. They required effort and knowledge of programs to use. "But what we have with social media is a shift from the auditory and visual to the kinesthetic process," McCrindle explains. "The platform may stay the same, but it's gone from a computer with a keyboard to one with a touchscreen."

Alphas will also interact for the first time with these technologies at much younger ages than any other generation. Now, many teenagers don't wear watches because they use their cell phones for telling time, McCrindle notes. Imagine what Alphas will or won't wear or do because of their attachment to tech.

"They don't think about these technologies as tools," McCrindle says. "They integrate them singularly into their lives."

SEE ALSO: 15 Facts About Millennials And The Economy Everyone In Business Should Know

Join the conversation about this story »

08 Aug 09:43

iPhone 6 Clone Passed Off as Real Product to Street-Goers in Prank Video [iOS Blog]

by MacRumors

While Apple next-generation iPhone is still over a month away from being announced, a number of clones from various companies have hit the market to try and capitalize on customer anticipation. In a video posted to his channel, YouTuber Jonathan Morrison took Goophone’s “i6″ clone to Hollywood Boulevard to see if people would see the Android-based device as a real iPhone 6.

Individuals were told that the clone was the iPhone 6 and came with a number of new features, including an eight-day battery life, an “A10″ processor, and a high-resolution 8K sapphire display with 3D capabilities. Most people in fact believed those features, with one man proclaiming the phone felt “super fast” and another saying that the display “looked much clearer” than the display on his iPhone 5s.

At one point, a young individual in a crowd asks “How many milliamps does it have?” Morrison replies with “7,000″, causing the person to respond “How does that fit in there?!” Others were also told about additional features, with one woman believing that the phone’s photos were too high of a resolution for its screen, and a man in awe over the claimed “26-core” processor.

After being asked about Apple’s efforts in comparison to Samsung’s, one man even claims that the device is “really great” and that Apple has “caught up with this one.” Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel pulled a similar prank on Hollywood Boulevard last month, with his team showing pedestrians a $20 Casio watch and claiming it to be Apple’s long-awaited iWatch.

The post iPhone 6 Clone Passed Off as Real Product to Street-Goers in Prank Video [iOS Blog] appeared first on AIVAnet.

15 Jul 14:06

Chrome Is Ruining Your Windows Laptop Battery (GOOG)

by Dylan Love

Screen Shot 2014 07 15 at 9.59.33 AM

Ian Morris writes on Forbes that Windows users who prefer Google's Chrome web browser are inadvertently ruining their computer batteries. The problem lies in what's called a "system clock tick rate."

By default, a Windows PC tick rate is set to 15.625 milliseconds, meaning the processor "wakes up" and looks for work to do about 64 times per second. But running Chrome resets the tick rate to 1 millisecond — the processor is now up and looking for work 1,000 times per second.

Here's how Morris explains what this is all about:

What is a clock tick anyway, and why does it matter? In an OS like Windows, events are often set to run at intervals. To save power, the processor sleeps when nothing needs attention, and wakes at predefined intervals. This interval is what Chrome adjusts in Windows, so reducing it to 1.000ms means that the system is waking far more often than at 15.625ms. In fact, at 1.000ms the processor is waking 1000 times per second. The default, of 15.625ms means the processor wakes just 64 times per second to check on events that need attention.

According to Microsoft, such a drastic change in system clock tick rate can increase power demands by up to 25%, and your laptop battery is left carrying that burden. And because a tick rate is universal, it only takes one application messing with it (Chrome) to affect it system-wide.

Surprisingly, little ol' Internet Explorer is savvy enough to adapt its tick rate. Casual browsing inside of IE that's full of idle time will leave the rate unaffected at 15.625 milliseconds. Start playing a video on YouTube and it will adjust the rate to 1 millisecond for smooth media playback. By contrast, Chrome on Windows sets the rate up high and leaves it there until you close the browser.

The only real "solution" to this problem for now is to close Chrome and adopt another browser. Internet Explorer and Firefox do not have this problem.

Morris calls for those who want Google to doing something about it to "star" the issue in the company's bug tracking system. Click here, then click on the star at the left to light it up.

Screen_Shot_2014 07 15_at_9_54_03_AM


SEE ALSO: Boston Dynamics's Robot Dogs Are Already Training With The US Marine Corps

Join the conversation about this story »

08 Jul 12:35

PS4 fails to impact Japanese console market

by Emily Gera

PlayStation 4 consoles made a minimal impact on Japan's console market, according to data released by Tokyo-based magazine Enterbrain and translated by consultant Dr. Serkan Toto.

The Sony console, which launched in Japan in February following its release in the West, saw revenue of 706.3 million yen during the first half of 2014 — only a slight increase from the 663.9 million yen earned during the first half of 2013.

According to data from Media Create, the PlayStation 4 has failed to sell more than 10,000 units in a single week in over two months in Japan. This places the console behind both Wii U and PlayStation Vita in popularity.

Continue reading…

07 Jul 11:12

Command & Conquer multiplayer is saved following GameSpy shutdown

by Emily Gera

Fans of the Command & Conquer series have launched a new multiplayer server for a number of games in the strategy franchise following the shuttering of GameSpy's servers earlier in the year.

C&C: Online is a free emulation of the original GameSpy servers for the Command & Conquer games affected by GameSpy's closure. This includes Command & Conquer: Generals, Command & Conquer: Zero Hour, Command & Conquer 3, Command & Conquer: Kane's Wrath and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.

Those interested can sign up for free by registering with Revora.

Fifty titles from Electronic Arts, including those from the Command & Conquer series, were affected by the termination of GameSpy's hosting service.

GameSpy Technology, a service that provides...

Continue reading…

07 Jul 10:39

A new Kinect for Windows is coming, and this is why you should care

by Tom Warren

Microsoft’s second Kinect for Windows sensor is arriving on July 15th for $199, and it’s aiming to take things even further away from gaming. While Kinect’s early usage was boosted by the Xbox 360, developers haven’t enthusiastically supported Kinect on the Xbox platform ever since. Instead, Kinect has become extremely popular with Windows developers. The latest Kinect for Windows sensor takes the same form as the Xbox One’s version and it’s practically the same. Compared to the previous version, it now features a higher fidelity sensor with a 1080p camera, a larger field of view, and better skeletal tracking.

Developers have been calling out for reduced latency and improved finger tracking, and Microsoft has largely answered those...

Continue reading…

03 Jul 11:24

The Web We Lost

Update: A few months after this piece was published, I was invited by Harvard's Berkman Center to speak about this topic in more detail. Though the final talk is an hour long, it offers much more insight into the topic, and I hope you'll give it a look.

The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we've lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be.

So here's a few glimpses of a web that's mostly faded away:

  • Five years ago, most social photos were uploaded to Flickr, where they could be tagged by humans or even by apps and services, using machine tags. Images were easily discoverable on the public web using simple RSS feeds. And the photos people uploaded could easily be licensed under permissive licenses like those provided by Creative Commons, allowing remixing and reuse in all manner of creative ways by artists, businesses, and individuals.
  • A decade ago, Technorati let you search most of the social web in real-time (though the search tended to be awful slow in presenting results), with tags that worked as hashtags do on Twitter today. You could find the sites that had linked to your content with a simple search, and find out who was talking about a topic regardless of what tools or platforms they were using to publish their thoughts. At the time, this was so exciting that when Technorati failed to keep up with the growth of the blogosphere, people were so disappointed that even the usually-circumspect Jason Kottke flamed the site for letting him down. At the first blush of its early success, though, Technorati elicited effusive praise from the likes of John Gruber:
[Y]ou could, in theory, write software to examine the source code of a few hundred thousand weblogs, and create a database of the links between these weblogs. If your software was clever enough, it could refresh its information every few hours, adding new links to the database nearly in real time. This is, in fact, exactly what Dave Sifry has created with his amazing Technorati. At this writing, Technorati is watching over 375,000 weblogs, and has tracked over 38 million links. If you haven’t played with Technorati, you’re missing out.
  • Ten years ago, you could allow people to post links on your site, or to show a list of links which were driving inbound traffic to your site. Because Google hadn't yet broadly introduced AdWords and AdSense, links weren't about generating revenue, they were just a tool for expression or editorializing. The web was an interesting and different place before links got monetized, but by 2007 it was clear that Google had changed the web forever, and for the worse, by corrupting links.
  • In 2003, if you introduced a single-sign-in service that was run by a company, even if you documented the protocol and encouraged others to clone the service, you'd be described as introducing a tracking system worthy of the PATRIOT act. There was such distrust of consistent authentication services that even Microsoft had to give up on their attempts to create such a sign-in. Though their user experience was not as simple as today's ubiquitous ability to sign in with Facebook or Twitter, the TypeKey service introduced then had much more restrictive terms of service about sharing data. And almost every system which provided identity to users allowed for pseudonyms, respecting the need that people have to not always use their legal names.
  • In the early part of this century, if you made a service that let users create or share content, the expectation was that they could easily download a full-fidelity copy of their data, or import that data into other competitive services, with no restrictions. Vendors spent years working on interoperability around data exchange purely for the benefit of their users, despite theoretically lowering the barrier to entry for competitors.
  • In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites, instead of being dependent on a few big sites to host their online identity. In this vision, you would own your own domain name and have complete control over its contents, rather than having a handle tacked on to the end of a huge company's site. This was a sensible reaction to the realization that big sites rise and fall in popularity, but that regular people need an identity that persists longer than those sites do.
  • Five years ago, if you wanted to show content from one site or app on your own site or app, you could use a simple, documented format to do so, without requiring a business-development deal or contractual agreement between the sites. Thus, user experiences weren't subject to the vagaries of the political battles between different companies, but instead were consistently based on the extensible architecture of the web itself.
  • A dozen years ago, when people wanted to support publishing tools that epitomized all of these traits, they'd crowd-fund the costs of the servers and technology needed to support them, even though things cost a lot more in that era before cloud computing and cheap bandwidth. Their peers in the technology world, though ostensibly competitors, would even contribute to those efforts.

This isn't our web today. We've lost key features that we used to rely on, and worse, we've abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world. To the credit of today's social networks, they've brought in hundreds of millions of new participants to these networks, and they've certainly made a small number of people rich.

But they haven't shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they've now narrowed the possibilites of the web for an entire generation of users who don't realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be.

Back To The Future

When you see interesting data mash-ups today, they are often still using Flickr photos because Instagram's meager metadata sucks, and the app is only reluctantly on the web at all. We get excuses about why we can't search for old tweets or our own relevant Facebook content, though we got more comprehensive results from a Technorati search that was cobbled together on the feeble software platforms of its era. We get bullshit turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself.

We'll fix these things; I don't worry about that. The technology industry, like all industries, follows cycles, and the pendulum is swinging back to the broad, empowering philosophies that underpinned the early social web. But we're going to face a big challenge with re-educating a billion people about what the web means, akin to the years we spent as everyone moved off of AOL a decade ago, teaching them that there was so much more to the experience of the Internet than what they know.

This isn't some standard polemic about "those stupid walled-garden networks are bad!" I know that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and the rest are great sites, and they give their users a lot of value. They're amazing achievements, from a pure software perspective. But they're based on a few assumptions that aren't necessarily correct. The primary fallacy that underpins many of their mistakes is that user flexibility and control necessarily lead to a user experience complexity that hurts growth. And the second, more grave fallacy, is the thinking that exerting extreme control over users is the best way to maximize the profitability and sustainability of their networks.

The first step to disabusing them of this notion is for the people creating the next generation of social applications to learn a little bit of history, to know your shit, whether that's about Twitter's business model or Google's social features or anything else. We have to know what's been tried and failed, what good ideas were simply ahead of their time, and what opportunities have been lost in the current generation of dominant social networks.

So what did I miss? What else have we lost on the social web?

A follow-up: How we rebuild the web we lost.

27 Jun 23:30

Practicing immoral behavior in a game may make you more morally sensitive, study says

by Samit Sarkar

The conventional wisdom about violent video games is that playing them can desensitize you to the violence in question, leaving you less able to care about those immoral acts in the future. New research indicates that the exact opposite may be true.

A study led by Matthew Grizzard (photo below), assistant professor in the department of communication at the University at Buffalo, reaffirmed previous research saying that committing immoral acts in games can cause players to feel guilt. Moreover, the study found that players would become more sensitive to the specific moral codes that they violated while playing — and according to Grizzard and his co-authors, that may eventually lead players to practice prosocial behavior (that is,...

Continue reading…

26 Jun 22:06

These Photoshopped Portraits Show How People Define Beauty In 19 Different Countries

by Aaron Taube


In an effort to get a glimpse of how the world thinks about beauty, the journalist Esther Honig sent out a photo of herself to graphic designers in more than 20 countries.

Their task: to edit the photo to make Honig look "beautiful" — however the designer defined the term.

The results are telling. Each photo represents the personal and cultural beauty standards of the designer, with the American editor giving Honig bright blue eyes and long hair, and the Israeli designer darkening her eyes and skin.

You can read more about the project at Honig's website. Click below to see photos from the 19 different countries she's posted so far.

Here's Honig's original photo.

And here's how she was photoshopped in Argentina.


See the rest of the story at Business Insider