If you’re looking for a moderately educational way to waste away a weekend, you could do a lot worse than playing a few games of GeoGuessr. For those uninitiated, the premise is very simple: you are presented with a Street View of somewhere in the world, and you have to guess on a map where this is in the world. There are five rounds in a game, and you receive more points the closer your guess is to the actual location.
As far as I can figure out, GeoGuessr has no official rules. These are mine.
You can take as long as you feel like on each location.
You can move around as much as you like.
You must discern everything about where you are based on what you see via the Street View area. You cannot use any outside resources — no Google, no texting your Russian friend for a translation.
If you’ve figured out what city or town you’re in or near, you may search that online to get a rough idea of where in the country you are. I find this helps speed up needless wandering through Poland or Northern Canada.
Those are the rules I play by. I find they keep the game challenging while remaining playable.
For a more difficult game, you can toss in these rules, too:
Each round has a set time limit of one, five, or ten minutes.
You cannot move around in the Street View. You may use the zoom control, but nothing else.
Finally, here are a few tips:
Pay attention to your compass.
Most of Northern Europe has similar looking highways.
If it looks like sub-Saharan Africa, it’s probably Western Australia.
If it looks vaguely Central or South American, it’s probably somewhere in Brazil.
If it looks sparse but still treed, it’s probably the Yukon.
If the signs are Cyrillic, it’s likely in the Westernmost third of Russia.
This game has been out for a year, but it’s still as much a challenging timesink as it ever has been.
[T]he responsible thing to do, from Newsweek’s perspective, would have been to present a thesis, rather than a fact. For instance, when Ted Nelson attempted to reveal Satoshi’s identity last May, he put together a video where he put forward a theory which he said was “consistent, plausible, and, I believe, compelling”. He then took a step back, and let the bitcoin community more generally come to their own conclusions about whether or not to believe him; in the end, they (generally) didn’t.
Newsweekcould have done that. It could have said “here’s a theory”, and then let the world decide. Many people would have believed the theory; others wouldn’t. And lots of us would probably have changed our minds a few times as we weighed the evidence and as Dorian’s own words came out.
But Newsweek didn’t want a theory, it wanted a scoop. And so, faced with what was ultimately only circumstantial evidence, it went ahead and claimed that it had uncovered Satoshi — that, basically, it was 100% certain.
On Friday, antivirus software company Avast announced it has detected another bad app(le): Cámara Visión Nocturna, a night-vision video recording app that has been snooping on users’ address books, scraping phone numbers, and automatically signing them up for a paid messaging service.
Softpedia notes that this app was installed by 10,000–50,000 users. Not only that, but it’s a fakey night vision app which includes Play Store screenshots showing a woman in a shower. How fucking creepy is that?
Great profile of AeroPress and Aerobie frisbee inventor Alan Adler by Zachary Crockett (via Shawn Blanc):
After a few weeks in his garage, he’d already created a prototype: a plastic tube that used plunger-like action to compress the flavors quickly out of the grounds. He brewed his first cup with the invention, and knew he’d made something special. Immediately, he called his business manager Alex Tennant.
Tennant tasted the brew, and stepped back. “Alan,” he said, “I can sell a ton of these.”
For all its brilliance, it’s really quite a simple product. It has no mechanically moving parts, and the only things which will likely require replacement are the filters, and the rubber plunger end (after a long time). It’s an inexpensive little thing which allows virtually anyone to brew a fantastic cup of coffee. It’s how I start my day, every day.
Speaking of CarPlay, Wes Miller has a question (sic):
It is yet another Apple walled garden (like Apple TV, or iOS as a whole). Apple controls the UI of CarPlay, how it works, and what apps and content are or are not available. Just like Apple TV is at present. The fact that it is not an open platform or open spec also bothers some.
I’m not really bothered by the lack of an open spec, but the extent of third party support is a giant question mark right now. It appears that the auto manufacturer gets an app for various car controls, if they so choose, and a few select third parties also have support.
But are these simply built for another target platform — that is, an iPhone, iPad, and CarPlay universal app — or are they separate apps? Is the development process like that for the Apple TV, where Apple provides a comprehensive framework and it’s simply “skinned” by the third party, or is it a blank slate? Hopefully some internet sleuths can answer all the questions I, and others, have about this.
The whole point of iCloud backups is to be easy enough for anyone and everyone to use them. They’re supposed to just work. However, Apple only provides 5GB of storage space for free. Granted, Apple doesn’t count some things, like apps, iTunes media, and Photo Stream against that storage allotment, but 5GB is still far below most peoples’ needs, and far less than what Apple’s competitors have recently been offering. What’s worse, even if you’re willing to pay extra the highest you can go is $100 for 50GB. That’s despite Apple selling devices that hold 16, 32, 64, and even 128GB of data. You literally cannot even pay to get enough storage to back up a single device much less multiple devices.
Even if Apple wasn’t able to provide free iCloud backups for every iOS device they sell — and I think that would be a huge boon — they should at least offer enough space for backups of 64 and 128 GB devices.
Watts Martin, on the bug in GnuTLS which is equal to or perhaps worse than Apple’s “goto fail” bug:
[S]oftware with few users tends to stagnate; software that becomes popular tends to keep being developed. This holds true regardless of the license and access to the source code. There are a lot of fossilized open source projects out there, and a lot of commercial products with vibrant communities. Being open source helps create such communities for certain kinds of applications (mostly developer tools), but it’s neither necessary nor, in and of itself, sufficient. And no one—not even the most passionate open source developer—ever says something like, “You know what I’d like to do tonight? Give GnuTLS a code security audit.”
The theory behind open source is that publicly-visible code ensures errors in it are also visible publicly, therefore they should be fixed faster. The reality is less encouraging.
A couple of days ago, John Gruber linked to this article from Zach Holman, reflecting on some of the crazy hacks web designers and developers had to resort to in order to have a modicum of control over the end layout of a page. Jason Kottke picked this up and added some information about the creator of the 1 × 1 pixel transparent GIF hack, David Siegel. He also linked to Siegel’s tips page circa 1997.
There’s the comically bad “Web Wonk” WordArt at the top of the page, and the banner ad asking “Are you an HTML terrorist?”. Buried in that list, though, is the famous “Single-Pixel GIF Trick” article:
HTML is a markup language, not a layout language. It isn’t meant to present a picture to the viewer. It isn’t meant to be easy to read. It is meant to be accessible. Aesthetics are not a consideration. But there are people who would like to communicate more clearly and effectively, and for us HTML is very primitive. We don’t need on-screen PostScript, what we need is a more visual flavor of HTML.
Until then, we have workarounds. My biggest workaround is the single-pixel clear GIF, which I use for spacing accurately around the page.
Designers like to talk about affordances, the property of an object that encourages a specific kind of action. Levers afford pulling, knobs afford twisting, buttons afford pushing, and so on. […]
What makes the iPad stand out from other tablet computers, and what makes it so much more appealing, is that it was designed with intimacy in mind. And I think we’re just on the cusp of discovering how that intimacy affords different kinds of behaviors, different kinds of creativity and productivity.
I’ve been reading and re-reading this piece since it was published yesterday, and I’ve been struggling to think of anything more to say. McGinley Myers nailed this one.
Kevin Roose, in a fantastic article for New York Magazine comparing the community around Bitcoin to the Seekers cult:
The uncomfortable fact for Bitcoin believers is that every major prediction they’ve made has yet to come true. And as time passes and the inevitable fizzle-out of Bitcoin becomes visible, those believers will splinter. More will drop out of the cult. And the ones who remain will only grow more convinced, more zealous, more eager to share the good news.
After all, the difference between the Seekers’ apocalyptic prediction and the Bitcoin dream is that the latter can self-fulfill. The nature of a speculative commodity like Bitcoin is that it essentially runs on hope – the more people who buy the hype, the higher the value goes, and the more firms like Andreessen Horowitz are willing to pump money into strengthening the Bitcoin ecosystem.
On April 8, Windows XP will reach the end of its support life, but it still has a 29% share of the overall operating system market. For comparison, when it reached end of life in June 2010, Windows 2000 had a market share of just 0.75%, and all versions of operating systems which identify as “Linux” had a market share of 1.01% in the same time period, according to NetMarketShare. In fact, Windows XP is still the second most popular version of Windows.
Or, rather, a how-to guide on transferring your Earthlink account to your own custom domain. (Remember Earthlink?)
It’s pretty inexpensive to move to your own domain for your email account. Domain names are around $15; while Joe Kissell recommends easyDNS and Directnic, I prefer Hover. Email services range from free (with Outlook.com and Windows Live Domains) to over a hundred bucks a year, but you’ll probably be fine with Fastmail’s $40 per year plan.
While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that people with Hotmail addresses are viewed more pitifully than Gmail users — at least, among the non-techie crowd — there are so many advantages to controlling your own domain name and email account. Switching email providers without changing addresses is reasonably easy, and it allows for full control over your email setup. Plus, it looks pretty cool.
The Samsung stunt didn’t come off without a hitch: many people were quick to note on Twitter that the Oscar host was also tweeting during the evening with rival Apple’s iPhone.
Samsung declined to comment about Ms. DeGeneres’ iPhone usage.
DeGeneres’ personal iPhone reads, to me, like a much more sincere recommendation. It feels almost like a personal recommendation, as it’s the phone she actually uses day-to-day. That goes for Ewan McGregor’s Samsung GS4, too.
It’s not that product placement is in of itself terrible, either. Notice how many Apple products you see in movies, or the cars used in “House of Cards” — these feel organic because they fit into the scene.
I’ve been a little quiet lately, working hard on a bunch of other projects. This is one of those projects. It’s called “Gestures”, and it’s a show I curated with new works from six artists:
Gestures investigates the environment of the performance: specifically, the differing but conflated roles of performer and viewer. In these works, the viewers become performers and artists, while the artists become viewers. These pieces invite participation and performance in a public space, allowing each work to unfold and complete itself through engagement and experience.
The size of GrubHub’s cut varies depending on how much the restaurant is promoted. The prospectus explains, “Restaurants can choose their level of commission rate, at or above the company’s base rates, to affect their relative priority in its sorting algorithms, with restaurants paying higher commission rates generally appearing higher in the search order than restaurants paying lower commission rates.”
Or, as we common folk call it, “bribery”.
Kidding aside, no matter how dirty this feels (and, boy, does it ever feel dirty) this is pretty standard. Looking at reviews or star ratings may not necessarily be good indicators, either, as those who wish to vocalize their complaints tend to dominate reviews. Word of mouth and recommendations from your friends are still your best bet.
On a security-related note, the New York Times’ Jenna Wortham and Nicole Perlroth looked into security breaches at startups:
Before a major breach or hole is discovered, analysts say, tech entrepreneurs take possible security risks as an accepted trade-off for building their product at a rapid pace. Stricter password requirements and airtight encryption take a back seat to user growth, convenience and feature introductions.
I kind of get this excuse, but it’s just that: an excuse. If a developer is collecting personal information, they should own that and accept the responsibilities of protecting it.
Last week, Apple released a white paper with explicit information about the security of the entire iOS stack, including hardware, firmware-level software, and other software on top of that. While I feel it’s a very approachable document for even the moderately technically-inclined, it’s a lot of information.
Happily, a number of writers have begun to distill some of the information within and present it in a much more summarized fashion. Here’s TechCrunch’s Greg Kumparak explaining iMessage’s security:
So if Apple never has your private key, how do messages arrive at all of your devices in a readable form? How do your private key(s) get from one device to the other?
Simple answer: they don’t. You’ve actually got one set of keys for each device you add to iCloud, and each iMessage is encrypted independently for each device. So if you have two devices — say, an iPad and an iPhone — each message sent to you is actually encrypted (AES-128) and stored on Apple’s servers twice. Once for each device. When you pull down a message, it’s specifically encrypted for the device you’re on.
The document also includes previously revealed technical data around the Touch ID scanner itself, which takes an 88-by-88-pixel, 500-ppi raster scan of the finger being applied, which is then transmitted to the Secure Enclave, vectorized for the purposes of being analyzed and compared to fingerprints stored in memory, and then discarded. This info, it’s worth recalling, is never transmitted to Apple’s servers, nor is it stored in iCloud or the iTunes backup of a device.
When passwords are added or changed, Apple syncs only the individual keychain items to other devices that need the update, one at a time. In other words, each keychain item is sent only to each device that needs it, the item is encrypted so only that device can read it, and only one item at a time passes through iCloud.
To read it, an attacker would need to compromise both the key of the receiving device and your iCloud password. Or re-architect the entire process without the user knowing. Even a malicious Apple employee would need to compromise the fundamental architecture of iCloud in multiple locations to access your keychain items surreptitiously.
While I think it’s ill-advised to blindly trust any company, the extent and depth of Apple’s security structure for iOS seems extremely robust. There’s a reason why jailbreaks take forever to create (and, also, why they’re closed as quickly as possible).
Put it this way: Apple doesn’t have a reason to be lax on privacy or security. They earn money by selling physical products and software to customers, not by selling personal information.
Apple has rebranded iOS in the Car as the much more syllable-friendly “CarPlay”, and launched it in Geneva. This new version has a much different interface than that shown at WWDC, as can be seen on the CarPlay page on Apple’s website. Also of note: there are third-party apps which support CarPlay; it isn’t known yet whether third-party developers require a special agreement to enable CarPlay support.
Unlike the iPod support in most cars, which is usually a glorified quarter-inch headphone jack, this is a fully-integrated system. It looks like it’ll be a hell of a lot easier to use than most in-car entertainment systems, too.
Update:MacStories has a video of Volvo’s implementation. While Volvo notes that this is controlled via the touchscreen, note that apps and things can be done via Siri instead, which is probably the less-distracting option.
So I said, in my infinite let’s-call-it wisdom, that next week’s introduction of cars which support iOS in the Car likely means that “iOS 7.1 will drop next week” as well. Of course, Mike Beasley of 9to5Mac poured some cold water on that:
While the update has been in beta for several months and could be released to the public next week, it’s also possible that the auto makers’ announcements will simply be a preview of things to come, with the software continuing to be developed on Apple’s end until a later release.
How about “iOS 7.1 will be out sometime before June”? Does that narrow it down?
[Tim Cook] looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said, “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”
It was a clear rejection of the climate change denial, anything-for-the-sake-of-profits politics espoused by the NCPPR. It was also an unequivocal message that Apple would continue to invest in sustainable energy and related areas.
For context, the National Center for Public Policy Research is an American right-wing think tank. And, also for context, Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world, not just in spite of their commitment to seemingly non-ROI-friendly things, but likely because of it. Yet, none of that matters: being environmentally responsible is just the right thing for a company to do.