Warriors: Five Pints 14 2

Technology

The New Scientist tells us about research into Social Networks which knows when censors delete online posts:

The system was able to spot, with 85 per cent accuracy, when censorship was taking place on a wide scale. Upon detecting the resulting change in network shape, the system could be programmed to send an alert to activists or protesters, say, to warn them that the authorities were tampering with their posts.

More of this sort of thing.


People

Christine Buckley, one of the first willing to speak out about institutional abuse in Ireland recently died.

As a teenager, she tried to smuggle a letter to newspapers exposing cruelty at the orphanage but she was found out.

Her punishment was a beating by a "sadistic" nun that left her needing 100 stitches in her leg.

Vale Christine Buckley, a great woman of Ireland.


The Media

In light of more recent stories, easily broken using data alone about Australia’s shameful concentration camp on Manus Island in PNG, Andrew Elder’s piece from January on the lack of journalistic initiative on Nauru is particularly damning:

Australia detained thousands of asylum-seekers on Nauru from 2001 to 2008, and again since 2012. It had been an Australian dependency for decades: politically that ended in 1968 but economically it has never not been the case. The country has a matrilineal social system. The most popular sport on the island is Australian Rules football. Why there wasn’t at least one, just one Australian reporter, stationed there during that time, is an indictment of the initiative of Australia’s media.


Football

I loved this intriguing dissection of Steven Gerrard by Ken Earlys :

Some of those Manchester United players were better than Gerrard in some aspects…None could match Gerrard’s all-around ability, his combination of skill, athleticism, and big-game impact. Scoring goals is the most difficult thing in football. Gerrard has scored 183 for club and country, more than Giggs (181), Scholes (169) or Beckham (146).

He’s the only player to score in the final of the FA Cup, League Cup, Uefa Cup, and Champions League. He’s collected more individual Player of the Year awards than all of the Class of ’92 put together.

I’m unapologetically a Liverpool and Steven Gerrard fan, but I’d trade all those successes of his in just to see a League winners medal around his neck.

It’s time.


Entertainment

Recently the Ad hoc podcast geeked out on Blade Runner.

Yes, my first time was pan and scan on VHS too.

Highly recommended for some excellent insights, not just on the movie, but on Ridley Scott’s creative process and the technology of the time.

Five Pints 14 1

Music

"To call it Punk Rock is rather like describing Dostoevsky as a short-story writer"

A review of Television’s Marquee Moon by Nick Kent from the NME from 1977.

“…an album for everyone whatever their musical creeds and/or quirks…This music is passionate, full-blooded, dazzlingly well crafted, brilliantly conceived and totally accessible to anyone who has been yearning for a band with the vision to break on through into new dimensions of sonic overdrive and the sheer ability to back it up…"

One of my enduringly favourite pieces of music. Seeing them live last year was a joy and far exceeded the expectations one might have of a 70′s rock and roll band who might be on a superannuation tour.

Scients

In the Smithsonian Mag they give you Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap. Apparently the US Food and Drug Administration claims antibacterial products are no more effective than soap and water, and could be dangerous.

evidence that children with prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever. Scientists speculate that this could be a result of reduced exposure to bacteria, which could be necessary for proper immune system functioning and development.

We use this stuff in our home, for the convenience as much as anything. Mind you if we decide to stop I wouldn’t miss the piles of it all over the sink from the litres used each time small children wash their hands.

Freedom of Information

Irish website The Story recently described how modernising legislation would Kill Freedom of Information in Ireland.

if passed, amendments to the FOI Bill 2013 proposed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (mean) Freedom of Information is dead.

TheStory.ie will, in all likelihood, cease all FOI requests. And we will not seek funding from the public to support an immoral, cynical, unjustified and probably illegal FOI fee regime. We will not pay for information that the public already pays for. We will not support a system that perpetuates an outrageous infringement of citizen rights. The legislation was gutted in 2003 and it is being gutted again. More generally the number of requests from journalists from all news organisations in Ireland will fall as a result of these amendments, and the resulting efforts to shine a light on the administration of the State will certainly deteriorate. And secrecy will prevail.

The more politicians and the establishment lock information down, the more it makes some people curious to find out why. And yet, the politicians never learn in their quest for the perfect bureaucracy.

Technology

In light of the news that Neil Young’s Pono Kickstarter is more than fully funded, here’s a recent piece questioning its point.

Most instruments do not output such frequencies, and almost no microphones, speakers or headphones work significantly above the normal human audio range either.

I love Neil Young, but despite the Kickstarter success, I think he’s wasting his time with his Happy Cow device.

Football

Sure I’m dyed the red of Kenny Dalglish’s shirt since the time I saw him score the winner in the European Cup Final to bring old big ears home for the second year running, but this great piece about the challenges in a relationship across the Liverpool Everton divide from the website associated with one of my favourite podcasts is The Anfield Wrap, is great stuff for any football fan.

Warning, Don’t read if you happen to be married to a Liverpool fan

…and support Everton.


PostScript: I share a lot of links on twitter, but as with much to do with that platform, most of them get lost in the stream. I’ve experimented, with some IFTTT related disasters, using tumblr as a clearing house for more easy access. Shamelessly inspired by the recent launch of 5at5daily by Stilgherrian, I’ve decided to resurrect Franksting’s Five Pints to try and pick the best of these links and publish them here for posterity.

Link

Unlike Rands, I’m not looking to get high.

This is a reminder not to let a digital world full of others’ moments deceive you into devaluing your own. Their moments are infinite – yours are finite and precious – and this New Year I’m wondering how much we want to create versus consume.

But what if Rands is wrong? I personally don’t put up 82 Facebook updates and 312 tweets to get high, but rather because that’s actually my downtime.

Perhaps to do more writing on this blog, which I didn’t often enough in 2013. I need to use the act of writing for relaxation just as I do when using twitter, watching a great movie or doing the washing up.

I’m not sure I’ll get a Builders High, but if it makes more more relaxed, that’ll do.

Link

In his 11 sure signs you’ve been hacked post, Roger Grimes writes

Most malicious hacking originates from one of three vectors: unpatched software, running Trojan horse programs, and responding to fake phishing emails. Do better at preventing these three things, and you’ll be less likely to have to rely on your antimalware software’s accuracy — and luck.

For at least two of the three vectors Grimes mentions, the long held belief is that awareness and endpoint security will help the customer offset the threat. But the opposite appears to be the case, the more protection software we give the user, the less likely they are to rely on their own wiles.

Is the challenge for the Security industry then to focus on certain less obvious to the customer prevention opportunities rather than the more lucrative and overt cure of endpoint anti-virus which has been so valuable to the industry for so long? It’s going to be hard to leave the money on the table, especially when so many have been conditioned to accept that anti-virus is to a computer as a saddle is to a horse.

The reward is likely to be a happier, more confident customer, and a refocus on where the puck is going to be rather than where it was last year.

Link

Can’t really add much to Danah Boyd’s logical argument:

Rather than trying to protect teens from all fears and risks that we can imagine, let’s instead imagine ways of integrating them constructively into public life. The key to doing so is not to create technologies that reinforce limitations but to provide teens and parents with the mechanisms and information needed to make healthy decisions.

Link

There’s also a subtle but noticeable color change in the blue bubbles, drawing attention away from them towards the new information coming onto the stage.

writes Khoi Vinh in his post about swiping from the right in iOS7 messages threads to get the time stamp.

While I love that time stamps are now available on demand – a bugbear in previous versions – the changes in the blue actually appear to indicate some form of context to help with focus.

The most recent message is always dark blue, but as you scroll back through the thread the incoming messages darken as they approach the centre of the screen.

Link

In the torrent of the billions of words already written about Touch ID very, very few people have really understood just how revolutionary this really is.

This great post on Quora about the secure enclave on the new A7 chip in the iPhone 5s, from someone who clearly knows what they are talking about, makes a mockery of those who harp on about how Innovation has Stopped at Apple without Steve Jobs.

In the minds of the people who use that line; Innovation == Something I can see or feel.

If you are thinking of listening to, reading, hiring, or even working with people who use this line of logic, reconsider. It’s clear they have no idea what they are talking about.

Link

Recently I’ve switched phones and have noted that many of the calls I’m making have an almost perfect clarity. I speculate the number HD Voice capable handsets is burgeoning.

In his post Worse is Human, David Heinemeier Hanssen of 37Signals and Ruby on Rails fame writes,

Don’t be so eager to iron out all the flaws.

There’s something too perfect about HD Voice calls, despite making it easier to follow and understand your conversant, which to me feels otherworldly, robotic, inhuman.

Perhaps it’s time to introduce a new HD Voice compression algorithm that reintroduces some of the warmth of the human voice. Flaws and all.

Unroll me from my email pain

You know how when you sign up for anything online these days, you almost always get opted in to some kind of mailing list. And while service like the excellent Mailbox app for Gmail helps you manage the torrent of email so much easier today, services like Unroll.me go that step further.

Want to keep getting emails from some services? Add them to your daily rollup and you’ll get the full list in one email every day.

Want to unsubscribe from some random thing you forgot you signed up for? It’ll do that for you in one click.

The only concern is giving even more personal data to yet another company. But if you know your mail is being constantly harvested by Google anyway, the trade off of convenience to privacy is so far into the convenience aisle, I’m comfortable. For now.

And, you know, inbox zero.

The iPhone 5c, an iPod Mini for our generation

It only took 26 months after the iPod launched for Apple to bring out the Mini, and while its three times longer since the iPhone launched, is the iPhone 5c their attempt to address a similar market opportunity with the the iPhone?

The Mini, when launched, had a quarter the storage of the third generation iPod, but still sold for just $50 (or around 20%) less. The Mini immediately helped Apple attract a new audience. By the end of 2004 Apple had sold four times as many iPods in that year than they had previously.

The iPhone 5c is priced at a similar discount, and while it is, in effect, the same form factor as the 5/5s but with a different outer coating, it’s hard for me not to draw parallels with the Mini.

Smartphones are mainstream now, 3G/4G networks are ubiquitous, no longer are younger people wanting to be dependant on their parents buying them a cheap dumb phone or a dodgy Android handset to stay in touch. And with the advent of iMessages, FaceTime Audio AND video, what better way to stay in touch with your friends than with a brightly coloured iPhone 5c that matches your “individuality”. Sure you can do that with the iPod Touch, but who wants to be dependant on a Wifi connection when you are out and about?

The iTunes Music Store was launched in early 2003, and with its introduction later that year on Windows and the advent of the cheaper, fun Mini just a few months later, it quickly grew into a major business in it’s own right and, as we know, a key driver for the ongoing sales of iDevices into the iPhone generation.

While the App economy has more than matched the Music store in the five years since it launched, the threat to its ongoing success from competitive devices and markets exists now in ways the iPod never faced.

Apples perceived recent weakness has been in a lack of innovation in hardware and in online services. While the former is patently laughable, the latter is probably true. There are however many great services enabled through iCloud, especially if you have a number of Apple devices. And apparently these are about to get so much better in iOS7. Perhaps the 5c allied to iTunes Radio is the Mini to the iTunes Music Store as the iPhone 3GS was to the App Store?

In some ways Apple are pivoting, the iPhone is huge and highly profitable, but this year for the first time its growth stalled and the average selling price declined. The 5c is likely an attempt to both widen the appeal of the brand, especially in growing Asian markets, but to carve out a new segment of its own globally. It has been pointed out that the hero device in their marketing was the 5c rather than the technologically advanced 5s.

In about a years time, once they reach the next iteration the 5c and its plastic case will be ripe for a huge price drop. Considering the broad reach of cellular networks there’s surely a possibility this will hasten the demise of the iPod Touch. It will certainly be interesting to see if a new iPod Touch model appears any time this year.

In any event it is sure to get the technologies only currently in the 5s which will allow whatever creative services are created around Motion sensors and the interesting new features of iOS7 to be brought, in a more mature state, to a wider market.

The 5c might just be an opportunity Apple saw to both lower their costs and produce what is effectively a 5 in Plastic, while creating the perception of a new device. It doesn’t appear to be a bold move by Apple, but they’ve always shown themselves to work at their own pace and not at that set by those who write the Apple Should linkbait.

So it might just be a herald for the mainstreaming of the iPhone as the the Mini and the Nano were for the iPod in preparation for the iPhone. The technology media tell us that Next Big Thing has been coming to replace the iPhone ever since it was launched, so perhaps it’s almost ready to go?