Shared posts

02 Oct 16:41

Warning People Is A Bad Idea

by Richard Millington

If you lend a friend some money one week and he won’t lend you some money the next, you wouldn’t feel happy.

Your trust has been violated.

But what is trust?

Trust is the belief in indirect reciprocity. You might give something to a group/another person in the belief that they will help you later on. This helped groups survive in hunter-gatherer times. Everyone pooled resources and the group was stronger for it.

However, if a group is filled with too many takers, people will hoard resources instead of sharing. In modern times, this means knowledge, social support, or tangible objects (such as money).

Experts had a taker who constantly violated the group’s norm of indirect reciprocity. He asked for help, but never gave any. He contributed negative emotional states, but never tried to help others through theirs.

We shouldn’t accept this in our social groups any more than we would accept it in our friendship circles.

A group with too many takers simply can’t survive for long. The trust crumples.

You could warn the individual, but they would react negatively.

If you warn them, they will get defensive. If you begin with a warning, they can’t change their behavior unless they implicitly admit their previous behavior was wrong. Not many people want to do that.

It’s far better to take the opposite approach. Use positive language. Create a clear reason based upon noble goals. Make it personal between people.

For example:

“Hey Mike,

I’ve been following your posts for a while.

I think you’re holding back a little and you’re more of an expert than you might think.

We have a few posts that would really benefit from you sharing some of your expertise.

Would you mind helping some people out? I’d really appreciate it”

The goal here is to make it a positive, not a negative. It’s to create a reason (help people). And it’s to make it personal between us. To say no, he has to say it directly to me – he’s not willing to help us out.

And some people will ignore the message. Some will only do it once. But if it works just a handful of times, it’s worth doing.

p.s. We’re now just 39 days away from our FeverBee SPRINT event. If you want to learn a lot of advanced community skills from 14 world-class experts and ourselves, I hope you will join us at:

02 Oct 15:45

What would a "fat tweet" look like?

I had a few minutes to spare this morning and decided it would be worth it to see what a Fat Tweet might look like, one that has room for more than 140 chars, that doesn't force you to click a link to see the rest.

This is what I came up with...

I think you can figure out how it works.

If you think this destroys the utility of Twitter, I'd like to know how.

02 Oct 17:10

Photo Extensions on El Capitan

by Federico Viticci

Jason Snell has tried a few photo editing extensions on OS X El Capitan:

Like the built-in editing tools, you can actually stack multiple extensions while editing a photo, so you can combine third-party editing extensions with Apple’s own tools to get exactly the image that you want to see. However, each extension edits a “burned-in” version of your photo, so you can’t edit a photo with three extensions and then go back and turn off the first of the extensions. Instead, you’d need to revert back to the original photo (which is always retained by Photos) and start again from the beginning. You can also use the editing tools built in to Photos on images that have already been edited by an Extension, so you can really mix and match. You just don’t get the always-undoable, always-editable flexibility you get when you stick entirely to the native editing tools in Photos.

A good roundup, with some extensions I'll have to try out.

02 Oct 17:22

Apple Leather and Water

by Federico Viticci

Greg Koenig has been running some (unscientific) tests on Apple's Leather Loop band:

So far, this chunk of strap has been through 4 different soak cycles. Three of those cycles were a 10 minute soak, followed by air drying at room temp. The latest cycle was a full 8 hour overnight soak. Drying takes about 3 hours.

The result? The leather shows zero visible signs of damage, zero texture change. As far as these (again, unscientific) tests are showing, the leather on Apple's Loop band is essentially waterproof.

(Make sure to read his disclaimer.)

Anecdotally, my Leather Loop band has been through showers, sea water, rain, and sweat. I took basic care of it, and it's exactly like the day I bought it. One of my favorite Watch bands.

02 Oct 15:02

Breaking The Page

We’ve been thinking about electronic books, and what comes after them, for decades. We’ve got lots of important (albeit difficult) thinking about the nature and practice of reading – Barthes, Derrida, Bolter, Landow, and much else. We’ve got lots of invaluable research on actual reading practice with actual ebooks, much of it capably reviewed by Cathy Marshall in her Reading And Writing The Electronic Book. Little of this body of knowledge finds its way into this book, and the book provides almost no guidance to those hoping to learn more than it contains.

Peter Meyer loves books, but when he talks about the sorts of books he reads, his interests do not seem notably broad -- memoir, thrillers, history of science, anthropology, cookbooks -- and his reading style apparently relies heavily on skimming. He’s an inspiring graphic designer and some of his ideas for implementing graphical tables of contents and overviews – a concept introduced in Intermedia (van Dam, Meyrowitz, Yankelovoch, Landow) back in the mid-1980s -- look great. He’s big on reader’s dashboards; on the one hand, his dashboards look nicer than the sort of thing people have been doing in Tinderbox for the past decade, but then, those Tinderbox dashboards actually work.

In one chapter, Meyer (rightly) eviscerates the design of front matter in the eBook implementation of the elegant Maine Summers Cookbook. What he overlooks is the purpose of the elegant design in the print edition. That purpose, simply, is to sell the book, to coax the shopper in the bookstore to plunk down $30. If matching the blue of the endpaper to the blue of the table of contents convinces the reader that “care has been taken here, and the authors, like you, have sophisticated good taste,” then that helps achieve the goal. Ebooks aren’t sold in stores, they don’t have to compete for attention on the shelf, and by the time the reader is browsing through an ebook, the sale is pretty much made: they’re kicking the tires or checking their wallets. Design serves a purpose, the purpose of cookbook design is to sell the book, and for ebooks that purpose is best addressed on the Web page, not between the virtual covers.

Meyer adores Christoph Niemann’s Petting Zoo. So do I. I doubt it's a model for the future of books, though there’s a trace of Petting Zoo in The Sailor’s Dream. This leads to a focus on books for young children, books with sound tracks, books that have something

even greater than these individual bleeps and warbles. How the app’s sounds – its action-specific effects, its ambient background – feel integrated with the visual composition are key to the pleasure it delivers.

If I follow this – a misfortune has happened to this sentence, but we can make allowances – this is orthodox McLuhan, except McLuhan would have noticed that we’ve stopped talking about a book and begun to talk about a visual composition with a sound track, which may be a very good thing indeed, but whatever it is, it’s not going to be teaching you about partial differential equations. Julian Opie’s moving electronic portraits are fascinating, but they’re not books.

“I choose books in a fairly pell-mell fashion,” Meyer explains. I can imagine people – Nick Hornby, say, or Michael Dirda – choosing books in a way that recalls a bustling upscale thoroughfare, but I think Meyer really means “haphazard” or “helter-skelter”. “Fairly” doesn’t buy us anything, and “fashion” isn’t quite right, either. “I buy a lot of books” might have served.

Meyer isn’t particularly interested in links. I am. That’s a disappointment. The disinterest isn’t argued or discussed, so there’s not much to say.

This is a crippled book, a book whose author has compressed and simplified ideas until they are nearly unrecognizable. Some of the ideas are interesting, though like the Reader’s Dashboard we might learn more by building and using the thing than by merely talking about it. Some ideas are small and esoteric: yes, front-matter in eBooks is a mess, but the people who can do something about that are a small professional fraternity; there’s not much point in complaining to us, especially not when you’re a publishing consultant and you can complain to the people in a position to address the problem.

Many ideas in Breaking The Page will be familiar to people who know the literature. The literature isn’t always accessible and integrative reviews are always very welcome, but it would help to know where things come from and -- more important still -- to engage previous writers rather than simply erasing them. Instead of mixing McLuhan with some warmed-over Bolter, why not roll up your sleeves, show us what the master said, and show us why the master was wrong?

02 Oct 00:00

A tumor stole every memory I had. This is what happened when it all came back


Demetri Kofinas, Quartz, Oct 04, 2015

This is an excellent article in its own right, but additionally offers an interesting glimpse into the formation and recovery of memories. What I found most interesting was that memories can be formed without their being perceived (of course, it takes a misbehaving tumour to make this happen), and additionally, that when the memories are finally rediscovered, they're "a type of freak-show journey through a wasteland of aberrant experience over which I had no control" where one memory follows another over and over until the associative trail is exhausted. I think remembering and experiencing are two sides of the same phenomenon, and this account reinforces that belief.

[Link] [Comment]
01 Oct 14:56

Instapaper Liked: Luxury ecommerce service BigAppleBuddy brings new tech to Canadian consumers

Want to get that cool tech that's not available in Canada yet? There's a new service than can help #cdntech — Jeff Jedras…
02 Oct 15:20

What’s up with SUMO – 2nd October

by Michał

What have you been up to this week, SUMO warriors? We have some news and announcements for you, so start reading before the weekend sweeps us all away from our screens!

Welcome, New Contributors!

If you joined us recently, don’t hesitate – come over and say “hi” in the forums!
Don’t forget that if you are new to SUMO and someone helped you get started in a nice way you can nominate them for the Buddy of the Month!

Contributors of the week

  • A group nomination to all the people who keep being awesome and supporting millions of users around the world :-) If you are reading these words… this most likely means YOU!

Last SUMO Community meeting

Reminder: the next SUMO Community meeting…

  • …is going to take place on Monday,5th of October. Join us!
  • If you want to add a discussion topic to upcoming the live meeting agenda:
    • Start a thread in the Community Forums, so that everyone in the community can see what will be discussed and voice their opinion here before Monday (this will make it easier to have an efficient meeting).
    • Please do so as soon as you can before the meeting, so that people have time to read, think, and reply (and also add it to the agenda).



Support Forum

  • Some details from the last SUMO Day:
    • 45 participants: 32 for Firefox, 5 for Firefox for Android, 2 for Firefox for iOS
    • 93% issues replied to in 24 hours, 96% in 72 hours (FF, FF OS and FF iOS)
    • 37% issues replied to in 24 hours and 87% in 72 hours for FF for Android
    • Once again – HUGE thanks to all participants! You rock!
  • Save the date: the next SUMO Questions Day is coming up on the 8th of October.

Knowledge Base

  • The tracking protection articles will be revised and finalized by mid-October, depending on the coordination with Legal and Product teams.
  • If you want work with us directly on the Knowledge Base as an intern, take a look at this Outreachy opportunity.


  • (for Android) The documentation for version 42 has started, and a dot release for 41 took place as well.
  • (for Desktop) Version 41 has landed! Head over to our forums to learn more and discuss.
    • There has been a general increase in the number of browser hanging cases, so expect to see users reporting problems of that type. Yes, Farmville 2 is unfortunately affected, as well.
That’s all for now. May you have a great weekend! We all hope to see you refreshed, rested, and relaxed on Monday.
P.S. Don’t forget that we’re on Twitter… where we recently passed the 500 follower mark! Thank you!
02 Oct 00:00

Receive Files into Your Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive


Tony Vincent, Learning in Hand, Oct 04, 2015

I've used this service before and will probably use it again. In a nutshell, it enables you to create a place where people can send files to our cloud storage accounts (like, say, Dropbox) without having to give out credentials to your cloud storage account. They simply send to DropItToMe and this service sends it to your cloud storage.

[Link] [Comment]
02 Oct 14:26

Fun With Telemetry: URL Suggestions

by Mark Finkle

Firefox for Android has a UI Telemetry system. Here is an example of one of the ways we use it.

As you type a URL into Firefox for Android, matches from your browsing history are shown. We also display search suggestions from the default search provider. We also recently added support for displaying matches to previously entered search history. If any of these are tapped, with one exception, the term is used to load a search results page via the default search provider. If the term looks like a domain or URL, Firefox skips the search results page and loads the URL directly.


  1. This suggestion is not really a suggestion. It’s what you have typed. Tagged as user.
  2. This is a suggestion from the search engine. There can be several search suggestions returned and displayed. Tagged as engine.#
  3. This is a special search engine suggestion. It matches a domain, and if tapped, Firefox loads the URL directly. No search results page. Tagged as url
  4. This is a matching search term from your search history. There can be several search history suggestions returned and displayed. Tagged as history.#

Since we only recently added the support for search history, we want to look at how it’s being used. Below is a filtered view of the URL suggestion section of our UI Telemetry dashboard. Looks like history.# is starting to get some usage, and following a similar trend to engine.# where the first suggestion returned is used more than the subsequent items.

Also worth pointing out that we do get a non-trivial amount of url situations. This should be expected. Most search keyword data released by Google show that navigational keywords are the most heavily used keywords.

An interesting observation is how often people use the user suggestion. Remember, this is not actually a suggestion. It’s what the person has already typed. Pressing “Enter” or “Go” would result in the same outcome. One theory for the high usage of that suggestion is it provides a clear outcome: Firefox will search for this term. Other ways of trigger the search might be more ambiguous.


03 Oct 05:26

My feminist marriage

by Bruce Byfield

Marriage is viewed uncomfortably by many feminists. For years, women placed themselves at a significant disadvantage when they married, and, even now, marrying means a constant battle against traditional assumptions. In fact, many would question if a feminist marriage – a marriage that attempts to practice gender equality, legal or common law – is even a possibility between a man and a woman.

I happen to be in a position to say that it is possible. One of the proudest boasts is that I practiced feminist marriage for thirty years, and with considerable success.

In fact, if my partner Trish had not died unexpectedly young, I would still be married today.

Much of my pride in the accomplishment I shared with Trish is that feminist marriage was hard work. No sooner had we married than people started treating us differently. Suddenly, we were much more acceptable to each other’s families. Friends who had known us for years assumed we would immediately settle down to having a family, and filling traditional roles.

Fortunately, neither of us was conventional enough to be heavily influenced by such expectations, but, all the same, resisting them often took more energy than we expected – although we did enjoy confounding those expectations whenever possibly. At times, we even took a gleeful satisfaction in educating people by going against those stereotypes.

For many couples who want to practice feminist marriage, division of domestic labor is the largest problem. Notoriously, many men cannot get in the habit of doing their share. For us, however, this was never much of a problem.

For one thing, my mother returned to work when I was late elementary school, so I was more prepared to take on my share of responsibilities than most men.

More importantly, by consulting our preferences and the patterns of our lives, we soon talked out any difference. I was a student when we married, and for much of our life together I worked freelance. Usually, I was home long before Trish, and, since I like cooking, having me in charge of meals was only sensible, especially if we were going to eat before eight or nine o’clock. Similarly, Trish did the driving, so maintaining the car fell largely to her. The tasks neither of us cared to do, we compromised on – for instance, Trish turned out to dislike doing the dishes less than I did, while I tolerated vacuuming better than she did. A few tasks, like doing the laundry, fell to whoever happened to need it done at a given moment.

We never found such decisions difficult, because both of us from the start had a commitment to living up to our ideals of a partnership. Part of that ideal was to talk about everything as frankly as possible, even what seemed obvious, just in case what seemed obvious to one of us was not obvious to the other. Early on, we each agreed as well that displays of temper were inappropriate toward the major person in our lives. As a result, we rarely argued – not because we never disagreed, but because we were committed to finding a civilized solution. Also, by the time we reached the point where we might have argued, we generally had long ago agreed how we would handle it.

Still, others’ assumptions were always there. When someone would note that our division of labor was non-traditional, we took to paraphrasing Lloyd Alexander, noting that while some work was called women’s and some was called men’s, the work itself never cared who did it. What mattered was that the work got done. Most of the time, the comment ended the discussion.

Of course, the expectations annoyed us. However, unlike modern feminists, who are fond of saying that their role is not to educate, we did take it upon ourselves to teach – or at least confound – whenever possible. When we were at a restaurant and the waiter handed me a sample of the wine, I would pass it to Trish to taste as well, and we would both discuss it before we both nodded acceptance. At the end of the meal, Trish would pay (not that it mattered, since the money came from the same credit union account). Sometimes, we would make a great Three Musketeers-like display of Trish holding the door for me, or presenting me with flowers on my birthday. These lessons might have been spoiled by the fact that both of us would end up giggling, but, we would quote Utah Phillips and say that people had to learn these things somewhere, and giggle more.

Once, we were sitting in the university pub, and I expressed the opinion that children probably benefited from having a parent at home. A woman who had come late to the conversation immediately accused me of sexism – then, with what I can only call a smile of vicious delight, instead of siding with her, Trish pointed out that I had stated earlier than I was expecting to arrange my life so that half the time I was the parent at home. As things happened, we never brought a pregnancy to term, but I did arrange my working life so that I could have been a hands-on parent.

Breaking these expectations was a way to get some of our own back on those who wanted us to act traditionally. Instead of exploding in anger or exasperation, we gave them a teachable moment (and ourselves a moment of amusement).

Our marriage was not a matter of us against the world. However, it had something of that flavor. You might say more accurately that it was our beliefs against the world’s, and that we were allies in a shared cause.

Yet, however our marriage is described, its success was undeniable. People meeting us after we had been together for twenty five years thought we were a new couple after seeing us together in public. At Trish’s memorial service, several speakers mentioned the strength of our marriage, and I took some comfort in hearing that several nieces considered us an example for them to live up to. So if you accuse me of filtering memories through nostalgia and grief, you are wrong.

What I have described was real enough, if rare, and we both realized how lucky we were to have it. Except we knew that luck had little to do with it. It was hard work and ideals that was responsible. To me, there is no question whatsoever: marriage in defiance of convention made me a better feminist, and what we built is one of the accomplishments of my life.

03 Oct 05:35

Spanish Banks and the city

mkalus shared this story from 500px:.

October 2, 2015 at 10:31PM
via 500px <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>
03 Oct 13:54

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.— Maurice Switzer (this is a really famous ABRAHAM LINCOLN quote. Maurice Switzer may have uttered these words but this is not his original quote. FYI)


03 Oct 14:54

Configuring Prosody and Conversations For Pictures in Group Chats

by mobilesociety

Supported-xmpp-featuresWhile most features of Prosody and Conversations for XMPP messaging are straight forward there is one feature that is very popular in other IM systems that requires a bit of manual tweaking to set-up: Pictures in Group Chats.

To be able to post pictures that are shown automatically in a group chat in Conversations, the server needs to support XMPP extension XEP-363, "HTTP File Upload". If you have a Prosdoy server at home a corresponding module can be added without too much difficulty. I haven't seen widespread support on public servers yet, with being a notable exception. If you know of others supporting the feature, please consider leaving a comment below. If you are with a public server you can check in Conversations if it is supported by going to "Manage Accounts", clicking on the account that is active at the moment, go to the "..." in the top right corner menu and select "Server Info". That brings up a list that shows which XMPP features are supported by the server. The screenshot on the left shows the features supported by my server, with XEP-363 being the important one for pictures in group chats.

To install the http_upload module in Prosody, have a look here. Once done and Prosody is restarted, support will be indicated in Prosody in the "Server Info" overview. After that there is one more hurdle to be overcome. As it could be potentially dangerous to automatically load in a message stream, Conversations restricts this to pictures that are sent via HTTP links from known contacts. For pictures received from other contacts, only the URL from which they can be downloaded is shown. A long-press on the URL will then download the picture on demand. By default, chat groups created in Conversations are anonymous so even if you know others communicating in a group, Conversations can't identify them and hence only the link shows up. So to see pictures in a chat group instead of links, the group needs to be set into "non-anonymous" mode before participants are added. In this regard, security is a bit in the way of usability I'm afraid.

One other thing is important to remember: As group chats are not end-to-end encrypted (yet), pictures are uploaded to the XMPP server and are stored there in the clear. TLS still protects the conversation so nobody can eavesdrop in a public and open Wi-Fi hotspot. That's probably enough for most people but one should be aware of the fact and always remember that an unencrypted copy is stored for a while on the server. But from what I hear a solution is already in the works.

02 Oct 18:00

How to change system fonts on Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge Plus

by Android Beat
Love it or hate it, there is no way you can ignore TouchWiz when you buy a Galaxy Note 5 or the Galaxy S6 edge+ — the very latest flagship devices from Samsung. The Korean company has definitely made improvements to its user interface this year by trimming down the bloat and speeding things up. Continue reading →
02 Oct 02:27

Read Later Zero

A few weeks ago, I set out on a mission to get my Pocket queue under control. I was creeping up to 2,000 unread items and I knew that there were things in there I actually wanted to read, and that it could be a more useful tool for me. Last weekend, I achieved Pocket 0. Here's how:

"Read Later" is an Inbox

I don't know if all of the people who refer to Inbox Zero have ever watched Merlin's talk or how they practice it, but I've gotten quite good at my Gmail version of it. My system is simple: using a combination of stars and not-in-email lists (Todoist, issues, etc) I keep everything out of my inbox following a triage session (which I do a few times per day).

For "read later", I currently use Pocket (although, I own Instapaper too) which has similar features - and is supported on all of my devices (making capture very easy).

Triage regularly

I put the Pocket app on the home screen of my iPhone, and enabled the 'unread count' badge. Those who know me (and have ever seen my phone), know that I'm fairly obsessive about eliminating those little red circles. This helped me form a habit to process a bunch of my Pocket inbox whenever I had a few free moments.

My goal was to triage (note: this doesn't mean read) 100 articles per day. I set Pocket to show me the oldest first so I could work my way through the backlog.

Be relentless. If you're like me and want to consume ALL THE INFORMATION, there are probably articles in your list that are no longer relevant. Delete them.

Process and Purge

It may be that you have hundreds of unread articles in your read later queue that are all things you just want to read for the sake of reading. For me, however, I found that my backlog consisted of several types of articles that I was able to skim and act upon to remove them from the queue:

  • Restaurant / cafe reviews - if they sound good, I added them to my foursquare todos.
  • Interesting apps - I download to try later (side note: google play is so much nicer for this than launching iTunes...)
  • Research for a specific project - I send the article to the relevant Evernote notebook (still not 100% sold on this one).

Finally, a lot of my queue tends to be technical articles (performance tricks, coding techniques, new releases, etc). The thing is, without a specific project associated, there isn't anything actionable for these. Currently, I tag them with the language/framework/etc and archive (skimming first if they're quick). In theory, they're still in my archive for someday. In reality, things change quickly and I'm far more apt to just search when I need to know.

Everything else - which is long form articles that I actually just want to sit and read - gets "favorited".

Now, when I get the chance to sit and read, I open Pocket to my "favorite" queue and enjoy!

30 Sep 18:18

Google’s Dave Burke wasn’t joking when he said the Nexus 6P has a great camera

by Igor Bonifacic

When Google announced the Nexus 6P yesterday, Dave Burke, the company’s vice-president of engineering, used a lot of superlatives to describe the smartphone camera he and his colleagues were about to ship.

“[This is] the best camera we’ve ever put into a Nexus device,” he said at one point early in the keynote, before adding, “the 6P can produce stunning images even in the toughest of lighting conditions.”

It turns out it doesn’t look like he was exaggerating.

After the presentation, Burke took to Twitter to share several photos and videos captured with the Nexus 6P. He showed some of these during the keynote, but viewing them through Google Photos now (as opposed to the artifact-heavy affair that was Google’s YouTube livestream), it’s obvious the presentation didn’t do the 6P’s camera’s justice.

Nexus 6P Photo The photos shared by Burke — and featured throughout this post — are rich in detail, showing beautifully captured images.

Responding to questions from other Twitter users, Romain Guy, the Google employee who took the photos, said he made minimal touch ups to the shots he took. In many cases, he limited himself to adding a filter or adjusting the brightness of a photo. He also noted that he shot the photos at full-auto, allowing Marshmallow’s new camera software handle details like exposure length.

Nexus 6P photo However, perhaps more stunning is the slow motion video Burke subsequently shared. Captured at 240 frames per second, the video shows a hummingbird making its way toward a bird feeder. With so many frames to work with, it’s possible to see all the subtle movements the Hummingbird makes while in flight. The effect, to say the least, is stunning.

Though you don’t even need to take Burke’s word on it. DxOMark, one of the foremost online authorities on camera sensors and lenses, gave the 6P’s rear-facing camera a score of 84, a score second only to the S6 edge’s exceptional camera. In fact, the website called the 6P a “serious contender for mobile photographer.”

Nexus 6P photo 3

We’ll have to wait until we get our own hands on Google’s latest flagship phone to render a final judgement, but it looks like the days of Nexus smartphones shipping with substandard cameras are long past.

Related link: Google’s new Nexus camera app features slow motion video and Smart Burst

01 Oct 23:43

How Scientific American makes its infographics - Storybench

02 Oct 02:28

So Upset

Peeple may be a hoax or a stunt. See the reporting at Snopes.

If it is in fact not real, then I’ll be relieved, but also quite angry at the jerks who put it on. I can’t think of a good reason.

But for now I take it at face value.

* * *

I’ve never in my life written an email to a high-up person at Apple. I was upset enough today to write an email to Tim Cook.

I kept it as short and clear as I could. I was tempted to say something like “Hey — long-time happy Mac developer here!” but I kept myself, and everything extraneous to my actual message, out of it.

* * *

Hi Tim,

You may be aware of this not-yet-released app Peeple which is, essentially, Yelp for people — that is, it’s for rating and commenting-on other people.

That’s creepy, but the worst part of it is that you can be added — and rated and commented-on — without your consent.

Ella Dawson made some great points about how dangerous this is:​2015/10/​01/why-peeple-​is-dangerous-​to-survivors-​and-really-anyone/

Were Apple to make any kind of public statement that explained that it wouldn’t accept apps for rating and commenting-on people where people can be added without their consent, I would appreciate it. I’m sure many people would.

Thanks in advance for any consideration you give this.


02 Oct 03:42

Apple’s Updated Privacy Website

by Federico Viticci

Apple updated its Privacy website earlier this week with new details on iOS 9 and El Capitan. Matthew Panzarino writes:

If you click your way through it, you’re going to see a product that looks a lot like the pages that are attempting to sell you iPhones. There is a section that explains Apple’s philosophy; one that tells users in practical terms how to take advantage of Apple’s privacy-and security-related features; an entire section on government information requests; and, finally, its actual privacy policy.

Some of the highlights for me, as I didn't know these details before:

To make it even easier to get to just the right spot in your favorite app, we’ve built support for deep linking into iOS. A user can tap a link and it will open in the corresponding app if the app has been installed and supports deep linking. We do not associate this with your Apple ID, and Apple does not know which links you tap.

On HomeKit:

Apple does not know what devices you’re controlling, or how and when you’re using them. Siri only associates your HomeKit devices with your anonymous Siri identifier, not you personally. Apps supported by HomeKit are restricted by our developer guidelines to using data solely for home configuration or automation services. Data related to your home is stored encrypted in the keychain of your device. It’s also encrypted in transit between your Apple device and those you’re controlling. And when you control your accessories from a remote location, that data is also encrypted when it’s sent. So HomeKit doesn’t know which devices you’re controlling or how you’re using them.

On Siri's suggestions:

Certain features do require real-time input from Apple servers. For example, event addresses and a user’s location are sent to Apple so that we can provide accurate Time to Leave predictions that take into consideration traffic and local transit schedules. Information like a user’s location may be sent to Apple to provide localized suggestions as well as relevant news and search results. When we do send information to a server, we protect your privacy by using anonymized rotating identifiers so that searches and locations can’t be traced to you personally. And you can disable Location Services, our new proactive features, or the proactive features’ use of your location at any time.

One thing's for sure – Apple is going all-in on protecting privacy and user data as much as possible.

02 Oct 07:59

Some Samsung Galaxy S7 variants will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chipset

by Rajesh Pandey
A report from South Korea’s Electronic Times claims that Samsung will be using Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 820 chipset in the Galaxy S7. The publication cites unnamed industry sources and says that variants of the Galaxy S7 that will be sold in China and the United States will be powered by the Snapdragon 820 chipset. Continue reading →
02 Oct 08:38

News: new partnership will see Beacon-enabled Taxis in major cities across the UK

by Roland Banks

Here’s an interesting bit of news that we stumbled across recently…

Proxama, the mobile proximity marketing experts and provider of end-to-end payment solutions for card issuers, recently announced an exclusive, long term partnership with Ubiquitous. Ubiquitous is the UK’s largest provider of taxi advertising and the relationship will significantly extend the Proxama Network of beacons, enabling messages to be delivered to an engaged audience experiencing times of dwell.

The Proxama Network connects consumers to brands via their smartphones using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons. The partnership will plan to install up to 4,000 beacons into taxis in London and across other major cities including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham, meaning that passengers can receive context-relevant messaging, as they travel to their destinations.

The team at Ubiquitous has more than 80 years’ combined experience in taxi advertising, with Managaing Director, Andrew Barnett personally having more than 35 years. Over the past decade Ubiquitous has pioneered UK taxi advertising and has created many of the media opportunities that are available to brands today, from internal Tip-Seats to fully wrapped ‘Livery’ taxis, complete with NFC and passenger Wi-Fi. Ubiquitous operates taxi advertising in all of the UK’s key cities and is therefore the natural partner to introduce the next innovation in black taxi advertising.

Beacon Enabled Taxis

During the course of one year, each London taxi is estimated to make around 4,500 journeys, principally around central London locations, rail stations and London’s airports – similar journeys are experienced in other UK key cities. London’s regular taxi users tend to have high personal income, are smartphone and tablet enabled and are likely to be middle-management and above – in short, a very desirable group and one which brands very much seek to reach. This new Proxama Network represents an opportunity not only for Ubiquitous’ clients to send contextually relevant messages to passengers’ smartphones, but will be relevant to all app-based clients seeking a beacon network that engages with high value consumers, across a long dwell time.

Based on data from existing beacon networks, Proxama anticipate that 24% of consumers that receive ‘in-the-moment’ content-relevant notifications will click-through to the app. This is a significantly higher response than other forms of mobile advertising.

Andrew Barnett, Managing Director, Ubiquitous comments: “Being the first company to put beacons into black cabs at scale is consistent with our innovative track record and I am delighted to be working with Proxama who are quickly establishing themselves as pioneers in this market. For all brands, the opportunity to connect with their customers through proximity marketing, in a high dwell-time setting such as the back of the cab, provides a unique one-to-one moment in which there is the time to respond to messages and offers.”

Jon Worley, CEO of Proxama marketing division comments, “This is an excellent high profile partnership for us and one which we believe is extremely well suited to proximity marketing. The average cab journey lasts around 20 minutes in London and is a natural time for people to engage with their smartphone for messages and new content. We look forward to seeing the customer reaction.

Our network of beacons has grown rapidly across London since the beginning of the year. Advertisers are now able to make use of the Proxama Network which covers London buses, airports and black cabs, with further expansion planned across multiple sectors.”

So there you have it, the future of taxis in the UK appears to be the ability to summon a car via a smartphone and then get bombarded with (hopefully relevant) ads while you’re on the journey. If the offers and messages are relevant and timely, I suppose consumers will find the technology enhances their journey. If you want to just flake out in the back of a cab after a big night out however, you can always turn off your phone…

02 Oct 06:47

The price of the Internet of Things will be a vague dread of a malicious world

by Rui Carmo
Click on the image to zoom in

A little on the pessimistic side, but sobering.

02 Oct 08:39

Amazon – Sledgehammer

by windsorr

Reply to this post

RFM AvatarSmall






Amazon’s embargo on Apple and Google is self-defeating.

  • Amazon’s latest move further highlights that it has still not yet really understood what the ecosystem has or how to conquer it.
  • Amazon has decided to prevent the sale of media streaming devices that do not work well with its own Amazon Prime service from its retail website.
  • Amazon said that it is important that all streaming players interact well with its own streaming service in order to prevent confusion for its customers.
  • The devices affected are Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast both of which are optimised to run their own services rather than those of Amazon.
  • Other devices like Roku, Xbox and PlayStation will be unaffected as they all are compatible with Amazon Prime.
  • The fact that only 20% of its customers use the Amazon Prime service leads me believe that its concern around customer confusion is simply a smokescreen for its real motive.
  • I believe that this motive is to encourage customers to spend as much of their Digital Lives with Amazon as possible, understand them better and thereby sell them more products and services.
  • The problem is that its approach remains so haphazard that I continue to believe that it has not really understood what the ecosystem is or how to win it.
  • It is curious to note that both Apple and Google support Netflix which in many ways is just as threatening as Amazon Prime.
  • However, Amazon intends to grow beyond just media streaming and in that guise it does represent a threat to both Apple and Google.
  • This is why I believe that Amazon Prime is not present on Apple TV or Chromecast although it is available on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
  • The problem with Amazon’s approach is that the days of walled gardens are long gone as users have already refused to be forced to use inferior services.
  • These days it is all about enticing users to join one’s community and then providing great Digital Life services so that they stay.
  • This is why Amazon’s sledgehammer approach to promote Amazon Prime over Apple TV and Chromecast is very likely to backfire.
  • If Amazon Prime were to offer a superior service then users would all want to use it, which in turn would force Apple and Google to support it.
  • Instead this approach implies that Amazon is doing everything it can to prevent users from accessing what very well may be superior services from its competitors.
  • This further supports my view that Amazon does not really understand what the ecosystem is or how to win it.
  • By bundling its ecosystem in with free shipping becoming a member of Amazon’s ecosystem costs $99 before one has even purchased a device.
  • I have long believed that this will continue to fundamentally limit Amazon’s user numbers and thereby the value of its ecosystem.
  • Consequently, Amazon needs to split the free shipping piece out of Prime such that users who don’t want free shipping can participate.
  • Amazon’s coverage of Digital Life remains poor and its understanding of the importance of an integrated and consistent experience is also very limited.
  • Consequently, as it stands today, Amazon offers very little threat to Apple and Google and I doubt that this move will have little impact on the shipments of Apple and Google media streaming devices.
  • Amazon’s strategy in the ecosystem continues to look like a series of expensive random experiments throwing mud at the walls to see what sticks.
  • Unfortunately, without joined up thinking around the entire ecosystem, very little is likely to stick.
  • At 315x 2015E PER (GAAP), Amazon’s share price is pricing in an enormous improvement in profitability which is by no means guaranteed.
  • I would prefer Microsoft and even Apple or Google over Amazon as a position for the digital ecosystem.
02 Oct 12:15

This is RexBlog, not Rex Block

by Rex Hammock

Typically, I think it’s amusing when I discover something named Rex. (Like hotels, for instance.) This isn’t one of those times.

It doesn’t sound good. (However, it does sound like a great name for an ad-blocking app.)

News Item (via: CNBC) | Hurricane Joaquin and Rex Block to Bring Life-Threatening Floods

Explainer | [via: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (PDF)]

In meteorology, blocking happens when centers of high pressure and low pressure set up over a region in such a way that they prevent other weather systems from moving through. While the block is in place other systems are forced to go around it.

Blocks can remain in place for several days, resulting in monotonous weather for locations under the block.

The “rex block” is named after Dr. Daniel F. Rex, who discovered and analyzed the pattern in 1950. Dr. Rex was a Commander in the Office of Naval Aerology and one of the founding members of today’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

Rex blocks are characterized by a high pressure system located immediately north of a low pressure system. These systems are usually analyzed aloft, around heights of ten to twenty thousand feet above the ground.

Air circulates clockwise around the east and south sides of the high to the north, and then turns to the south to go around the west and south sides of the counterclockwise-turning low to the south. Because the flow of the air is basically north-south, there is very little eastward progression of the system.

Rex Block Weather

Unsettled, stormy weather is usually found near the low pressure while dry conditions are typical with the high pressure. Strong, particularly persistent rex blocks can cause flooding in the southern part of the block and short-term drought in the north.

(Thanks: Lewis)

02 Oct 12:58


by chris-roos

Friday 02nd October, 2015

Chris Roos by Chris Roos

Week 350 - Interesting links

Utter Disregard for Git Commit History

I found this interesting as I think it gives some insight into GitHub’s preferred workflow which focuses much more on the pull request and much less on individual commits. CR

“Merge pull request” Considered Harmful

In contrast to the link above, one of the ActiveMerchant maintainers explains how he’s moved away from using GitHub’s “Merge pull request” button and toward using git am to apply the commits from a pull request. I find it interesting that he puts the commits straight into master rather than modifying them in a local branch and then merging that. CR

The git pickaxe

Phil explains how good commit messages make it possible to use the git pickaxe to efficiently find information about a line of code. I think this is really useful but it’s something you can easily lose if you prioritise the pull request over individual commits (as suggested in Zach’s post). CR


This is the latest open-source product from HashiCorp and claims to be the “successor to Vagrant”. I like the sound of having all the applications on my development machine in their own local virtualized development environments, although I do wonder whether there’s a noticeable performance penalty.

Using the same toolchain to manage deployments also sounds appealing - apparently it uses Terraform under the hood, which was something Tom H mentioned at the last Show & Tell. JM

Tom Taylor: Interviewed about his CityCyclist app

I enjoyed reading about how CityCyclist works and how Tom built it. JM

Ruby Virtual Machine Internals and Investigating Variable Scope

I wasn’t very interested in the actual example in this article, but I was interested to see how easy it is to obtain the YARV VM bytecode instructions for a bit of Ruby source code using RubyVM::InstructionSequence’s .compile and #disassemble methods. JM

Apache nifi

Looks like it might offer an open-source alternative to the now dead Yahoo! Pipes, although I’m not sure anyone is offering a hosted version as yet. JM


I’m a big fan of Tim Harford’s More or Less and I like the sound of this book of his which argues that the world has become far too unpredictable and profoundly complex for ready-made solutions and expert opinions:

Instead, we must adapt – improvise rather than plan, work from the bottom up rather than the top down, and take baby steps rather than great leaps forward.

Sounds like a book politicians should be reading. JM

Lakeland 50 legend: Harry Johnson

A little inspirational link to finish with: Read an interview with 80 year old Harry who finished the Lakeland 50 race this year (50 miles of the Lake District taking in around 3000m of ascent). I love the support he receives as he comes over the finish line. CR

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus. comments powered by Disqus

This is the Free Range blog. We write stuff on our personal blogs too, but this is where the good stuff is.

02 Oct 12:00

Inner Vision for the weekend of October 2, 2015

by Gregory Han
You've got the right car for the long haul road trip. Now where to go? Outside lists nine of America's best car touring roads.

You’ve got the right car for the long-haul road trip. Now where to go? Outside magazine lists nine of America’s best car touring roads.

There’s a plentitude of sites (including our own) that recommend and rate just about everything made by mankind. But just as important as “what to buy” is knowing what’s possible using the products you’ve purchased. Inner Vision is a weekly digest connecting the dots between great everyday objects and the cultures and techniques behind living well with them.

Learning works best when you disengage executive thinking, the part of the brain that makes conscious decisions.

Learning works best when you disengage executive thinking, the part of the brain that makes conscious decisions.

Flexible Thinking: Science proves Yoda was right when he guided his impatient padawan, “Do or do not. There is no try.” The fastest learners are able to turn off the impediment to learning: overthinking.

The $3,000 Savings Plan: “Every time Jody Avirgan and his fiancée receive a crisp, green $5 bill—whether getting back a five in change, finding it on the floor, whatever—they put it into a seemingly innocuous coffee can.” This is officially my new vacation savings plan.

Into the Wild … Prepared: What to bring, what to leave home? This is the question backpackers have to ponder when balancing weight and preparedness. Adventuring expert Andrew Skurka put together a comprehensive checklist for packing for emergencies, including what, why, and how much.

Thrift store butter knives can be reshaped and sharpened into one-of-kind steak knives.

Thrift-store butter knives can be reshaped and sharpened into one-of-kind steak knives.

Butter Course: For those of you who like to make instead of buy, a handful of flea-market or thrift-store butter knives offers the potential for an affordable and unique gift for another (or yourself). Our pick for best steak knives comes highly recommended, but anything you make yourself is tops in our book.

On the Road: “At home, you’re conditioned to get to the point and get things done, to favor goals and efficiency over moment-by-moment distinction. On the road, you learn to improvise your days, take a second look at everything you see, and not obsess over your schedule.” A favorite excerpt from Rolf Potts’s Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel.

Boring, Yet Productive Advice: We all hope to become more productive. It’s sort of an American obsession, if not dogma. But maybe we’re mistaking quantity for quality, measuring our personal and professional lives with a metric that eventually becomes counterproductive if the goal is happiness. Chris Bailey of A Life of Productivity came to this very conclusion after 12 months of experimenting with all varieties of productivity-maximizing techniques. His conclusion: Don’t do more, do it better.

Two hours in a pickling brine can expedite the ripening process of an avocado without affecting the taste.

A few hours in a pickling brine can expedite the ripening process of an avocado without affecting the taste too much.

Ripen Avocados Fast: A hard avocado is like an uncooked potato—great potential unrealized. The impatient and hungry can help expedite the ripening process of the green fruit by bathing slices in a pickling brine for about 2 hours. The result is a softer and creamier avocado, with only a slight hint of vinegar. Sounds great for adding into tacos or salads…

In Stability: Even years later—long after my heydays of curbside grinds and pickup hoops games—yesterday’s ankle injuries occasionally like to remind me of my past transgressions. Rolled ankles have a habit of lingering around, becoming weaker as the Band-Aid of youth fades away. But these four targeted exercises can help strengthen for a lifetime of stability.

This Message Sponsored By…: The Wirecutter’s very own Casey Johnston makes several salient points over at The Awl about how ad blocking is sort of like using anti-bacterial hand wash or antibiotics for a minor ailment today; tomorrow they’ll likely prove ineffective. In the future ads will evolve immunity or disguise themselves to look like editorial content.

There’s an App for That:  The evolution of the desk, from 1980-2015. The funny thing is, my home office resembles 1980 more than 2014 at the moment.

Got an interesting story, link, resource, or how-to you think we should check out for consideration for our next issue of Inner Vision? Drop us a line with the subject “Inner Vision” and we’ll take a look!

02 Oct 13:22

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Android 5.1.1 update now available in Canada

by Ian Hardy

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 was expected to receive the update to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop this month and it looks like it’s now rolling out to some users.

So far, Bell and Telus customers have reported seeing update notifications — coming in around 640MB in size — with other carriers expected to follow.

The Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update brings a number of improvements to the Note series, including performance and battery improvements, and a number of bug fixes courtesy of the base Android 5.1 codebase.


If you’re not seeing a download notification, manually check for it via Menu > Settings > About Device > Software Update > Update.

Related Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review

(Thanks Kevin!)

02 Oct 11:28

What Ruins a Photograph? Learning How to Get the Image You Want

by Bill Booz

Today’s cameras, from smartphones, compact and mirrorless cameras, to entry-level dSLRs, on up to pro camera bodies, can capture excellent images. Little photographic experience or expertise is needed to get wonderful shots of your vacation activities, family gatherings, or whatever you choose to focus your camera on. However, every once in a while you find you get duds. And that is usually when folks look at the back of their camera or view a just captured image in their smartphone’s image collection, scratch their head, and ask, “Why?”

You can keep on snapping shots with whatever camera you use and just accept the duds, that you think are “good enough,” or you can learn why you’re getting the duds and improve your odds. In other words, you may be that person who wants to get more “keepers” from your image captures. It’s one thing to get an image of your friends in front of a gorgeous backdrop scene where your friends are dark and barely recognizable, but it is quite another thing to share that image and expect viewers to be impressed by it. They won’t be. They can barely recognize anyone in the picture. Another type of shared image that drives me crazy is one in which a couple is standing in front of a tourist attraction or a tree and the tourist attraction or tree are perfectly focused but the couple is the slightest bit out of focus. And here’s the classic one: you have a wonderful shot of your friend, but there’s a pole coming out of her/his head.

Sound familiar? These “bad” images don’t have to happen. Just by learning a little bit about light and how your camera works, you can avoid the first two problems. By learning to pause before pressing the shutter button, examining the whole frame, then moving your subject or yourself, you can avoid the third.

I will be honest. This first of three posts is a bit self-serving, as I would like you to sign up for some tutoring sessions with me (see links below) so I can help you become more familiar with your camera, whether it’s a smartphone, compact, mirrorless, or dSLR. I do more than that, though. I also teach you – at your own pace with your camera – how to control how your camera exposes images. However, not everyone wants to or can take a class or a tutoring session. I get it. So, let me share the simple solutions to my three “bad” photo examples.

Exposing Your Subjects Properly

Don't accept "bad" images and share them with your friends! Just a few changes in settings will get you a "better" image!

Don’t accept “bad” images and share them with your friends! Just a few changes in settings will get you a “better” image!

Your camera has a light meter in it that reads the light coming through your camera’s lens. Though most modern, digital cameras have several metering modes, most are set, by default, to the mode called something like “matrix” or “evaluative.” In this mode, the camera meter collects light information (i.e., how much, how little) from all parts of the scene and averages it to determine how to expose the scene. So, if you are shooting in Auto or Program modes, the camera will select exposure settings based on the information from the meter. In my example above, where your friend was standing in front of a bright scene that’s filling a large part of the camera frame, the meter chooses settings that underexpose the scene, thinking it needs tame down all that bright light. The result? Your friend is so underexposed that he or she is unrecognizable!

The solution? You need to make your camera realize that what you care about in the scene and want to expose correctly is your friend and not the background. How do you do that? (1) Find how to change your camera’s metering mode to Spot or Center-Weighted Mode; (2) use your camera’s built-in flash to “fill-in” some light to expose your friend so he/she is now visible; or, (3) move in very close to your friend, take an exposure reading of your friend’s face, note the shutter speed and aperture, move back, set your camera to Manual shooting mode, dial in the shutter speed and aperture from previous reading, and take the shot. Though this last method may seem complex, it is not and is, actually, the best of these three choices!

In a future post, I’ll address the other two “bad” photograph problems and how to avoid them. Check back soon!

If you would be interested in virtual tutoring sessions using either Skype or Google Hangouts, please drop me and e-mail or leave a private message to me on Facebook or Google+.

Please leave me questions or comments on my Facebook page ( or on Google+ ( I look forward to interacting with you!

Check out my free eBook on Mastering Your Camera’s Priority Modes: Download and enjoy!

In addition to offering scheduled, hands-on photography classes periodically, I am also available to do one-on-one tutoring or small group lessons designed to meet YOUR needs and what you want to learn in the area of photography, using flashes, or the use of Apple products and software. Give yourself the gift of learning:! And check out my tutoring bundle: as well. A PDF of my brochure is at

01 Oct 21:30

Using to infer gender in a LinkedIn network

by Rick Klau
A month or so ago, I got to wondering whether there was any way to determine the gender of my LinkedIn network. Surprisingly, LinkedIn doesn't even ask for gender on sign-up, so I couldn't just pull the info directly from LinkedIn. And I didn't need a 100% accurate solution – I just wanted a directionally-useful metric.

After doing a bit of Googling, I found, a nice little API that gives you a best guess for a gender if you give it a name. If you send it this string:
you get back this result:

In other words, believes with 100% confidence that "richard" is a male name. (From Genderize's documentation, the count "represents the number of data entries examined in order to calculate the response.")

I have more than 2,300 connections on LinkedIn, so getting a breakdown of everyone's gender was going to be too time-consuming. Instead of doing the names one at a time, I signed up for a developer account and paid for up to 100,000 queries/month. (For more than a handful of queries, will rate-limit you; with a developer account, you get an access token that bypasses the rate limits.)

With an access token, here are the steps I used to get a breakdown of my LinkedIn network's gender split:

  1. Export LinkedIn connections
  2. Import the file into a Google Sheet
  3. Delete everything but the first name field ("Given Name")
  4. In a separate column, create a a URL string that appends the contents of the Given Name column to a tokenized URL that includes your access token. For me this looked like:
  5. In a new column, use Google Sheets's "ImportHTML" function to execute the query represented in the adjacent column:
  6. Step 5 creates several columns, as Google Sheets will bring in the query results into the spreadsheet; unfortunately, it does not properly split the gender result into its own columns. Create a new column and use the "Split" command to break the string [gender:"female"] into separate cells, then use "CountIF" to count how many times the word "female" appears in your worksheet. Divide that number by the total number of rows in your spreadsheet, and you have your % of female contacts.
(If I was a better programmer, I could have built a simple Python script using's API to do this automatically. Maybe someone who reads this will want to build it? Let me know!)