Archive for October 2015

So why is Android development slower?

That’s a very good question. We’ve been speculating about this for a long time, and what we’ve managed to figure out is that it’s a combination of a couple of factors:

  • Just more code – applications for Android are written in Java, which is simply a more verbose language
  • Emulators are slower – Android emulators are just slower than iOS simulators.
  • Fragmentation – more devices to test against, more potential vendor-specific bugs
  • XML layouting – on Android, layouts are primarily written manually in XML, so WYSIWYG techniques are used less than on iOS.

Source: Android development is 30% more expensive than iOS. And we have the numbers to prove it! — Infinum

The Future of News Is Not An Article

One of the impacts of treating articles as singular monoliths is that it’s very hard to combine knowledge or information from more than one article after it’s been published. Doing any kind of synthesis, getting answers to questions that cut across time, getting a sense of aggregate knowledge around a topic — all of these acts still depend on a human being reading through multiple articles and doing that work manually.

The biggest underlying shift in conceiving of the future of news as something more than than a stream of articles is in the implied distinction between ephemeral content and evergreen content. There has always been a mixture of the two types in news reporting: An article will contain a narrative about the event that is currently occurring but also will contain more evergreen information such as background context, key players, etc. But the reliance on the form of the article as the atomic unit of news means that all of that information has essentially been treated as ephemeral. A news organization publishes hundreds of articles a day, then starts all over the next day, recreating any redundant content each time. This approach is deeply shaped by the constraints of print media and seems unnecessary and strange when looked at from a natively digital perspective. Can you imagine if, every time something new happened in Syria, Wikipedia published a new Syria page, and in order to understand the bigger picture, you had to manually sift through hundreds of pages with overlapping information? The idea seems absurd in that context and yet, it is essentially what news publishers do every day.

Source: The Future of News Is Not An Article | nytlabs ? Research, thoughts, and process from The New York Times R&D Lab

Apple’s market share of desktop computers is nearing 17 percent

The landscape is changing, however. Apple’s market share of desktop computers is nearing 17 percent. OS X, Apple’s operating system, is popular with consumers and enterprises, making it a more interesting target for hackers.

 

….The jump in OS X malware also still pales in comparison to Windows.

“If you put all of the Mac malware that we’ve seen, and you combine those numbers for the history of OS X, basically it is less by a significant amount than the amount of Windows malware you will see in an hour,” 

Source: Is Apple’s security honeymoon on OS X ending?

On Apple’s Insurmountable Platform Advantage

One of Steve Jobs’ biggest legacies was his decision to stop relying on 3rd party semiconductor companies and create an internal silicon design team.3 I would go so far as to argue it’s one of the three most important strategic decisions he ever made.

In 2007, when Steve Ballmer famously declared “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance”, Jobs was off creating a chip design team. If you study unit economics of semiconductors, it doesn’t really make sense to design chips and compete with companies like Intel unless you can make it up in volume. Consider the audacity back in 2007 for Apple to believe it could pull this off. How would they ever make back the R&D to build out a team and pay for expensive silicon designs over the long run, never mind design comparative performing chips? Well today we know. Apple makes nearly 100% of the profit in the entire smartphone space.

It is – in fact – these chip making capabilities, which Jobs brought in-house shortly after the launch of the original iPhone, that have helped Apple create a massive moat between itself and an entire industry.

Source: On Apple’s Insurmountable Platform Advantage | steve cheney – technology, business & strategy

On Apple’s Insurmountable Platform Advantage

The truth is the best people in chip design no longer want to work at Intel or Qualcomm. They want to work at Apple. I have plenty of friends in the Valley who affirm this. Sure Apple products are cooler. But Apple has also surpassed Intel in performance. This is insane. A device company – which makes CPUs for internal use – surpassing Intel, the world’s largest chip maker which practically invented the CPU and has thousands of customers.

This pedigree that Apple developed now has a secondary powerful force: portable devices serve as the reference platform whereby all chip design starts. Components from the smartphone market now power almost all other markets, giving Apple’s in-house team a comparative advantage as they enter new product categories, like wearables and electric cars.

Source: On Apple’s Insurmountable Platform Advantage | steve cheney – technology, business & strategy

Carriers are Making More From Mobile Ads than Publishers Are

Consumers pay 16.6x more in data costs than top 50 news sites are making in ad revenue

Source: Carriers are Making More From Mobile Ads than Publishers Are — Medium

Negotiations (Ad Blocking)

Many content providers (horrible term, but it’s useful) are squarely targeting the mass audience who desire only momentary distractions. That means low-value content that’s usually not unique, and that means there’s no credible monetary value proposition for the reader. Thus, passive monetisation is needed, in the form of ads – which only erode the reading experience, and indeed further damage any sense of the content’s own value.

When it then comes time for the reader to make a decision about continuing to visit the site in the face of aggressive advertising and blocker-blocking, well… it’s an easy choice. You just go somewhere else instead.

Ad-serving sites are being faced with a crisis entirely of their own making. They defined their own value – and their terms of engagement – right from the start.

Now, as ever, those assumptions are coming back to bite them.

Source: Negotiations – Matt Gemmell

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

Volkswagen didn’t make a faulty car: they programmed it to cheat intelligently. The difference isn’t semantics, it’s game-theoretical (and it borders on applied demonology).

Regulatory practices assume untrustworthy humans living in a reliable universe. People will be tempted to lie if they think the benefits outweigh the risks, but objects won’t. Ask a person if they promise to always wear their seat belt, and the answer will be at best suspect. Test the energy efficiency of a lamp, and you’ll get an honest response from it. Objects fail, and sometimes behave unpredictably, but they aren’t strategic, they don’t choose their behavior dynamically in order to fool you. Matter isn’t evil.

But that was before. Things now have software in them, and software encodes game-theoretical strategies as well as it encodes any other form of applied mathematics, and the temptation to teach products to lie strategically will be as impossible to resist for companies in the near future as it has been to VW, steep as their punishment seems to be. As it has always happened (and always will) in the area of financial fraud, they’ll just find ways to do it better.

Environmental regulations are an obvious field for profitable strategic cheating, but there are others. The software driving your car, tv, or bathroom scale might comply with all relevant privacy regulations, and even with their own marketing copy, but it’ll only take a silent background software upgrade to turn it into a discrete spy reporting on you via well-hidden channels (and everything will have its software upgraded all the time; that’s one of the aspects of the Internet of Things nobody really likes to contemplate, because it’ll be a mess). And in a world where every device interacts with and depends on a myriad others, devices from one company might degrade the performance of a competitor’s… but, of course, not when regulators are watching.

The intrinsic challenge to our legal framework is that technical standards have to be precisely defined in order to be fair, but this makes them easy to detect and defeat. They assume a mechanical universe, not one in which objects get their software updated with new lies every time regulatory bodies come up with a new test. And even if all software were always available, cheking it for unwanted behavior would be unfeasible — more often than not, programs fail because the very organizations that made them haven’t or couldn’t make sure it behaved as they intended.

So the fact is that our experience of the world will increasingly come to reflect our experience of our computers and of the internet itself (not surprisingly, as it’ll be infused with both). Just as any user feels their computer to be a fairly unpredictable device full of programs they’ve never installed doing unknown things to which they’ve never agreed to benefit companies they’ve never heard of, inefficiently at best and actively malignant at worst (but how would you now?), cars, street lights, and even buildings will behave in the same vaguely suspicious way. Is your self-driving car deliberately slowing down to give priority to the higher-priced models? Is your green A/C really less efficient with a thermostat from a different company, or it’s just not trying as hard? And your tv is supposed to only use its camera to follow your gestural commands, but it’s a bit suspicious how it always offers Disney downloads when your children are sitting in front of it.

None of those things are likely to be legal, but they are going to be profitable, and, with objects working actively to hide them from the government, not to mention from you, they’ll be hard to catch.

If a few centuries of financial fraud have taught us anything, is that the wages of (regulatory) sin are huge, and punishment late enough that organizations fall into temptation time and again, regardless of the fate of their predecessors, or at least of those who were caught. The environmental and public health cost of VW’s fraud is significant, but it’s easy to imagine industries and scenarios where it’d be much worse. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that the avoidance of regulatory frameworks on Internet of Things won’t have the kind of occasional systemic impact that large-scale financial misconduct has accustomed us to.

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

Google ‘Customer Match’ means your email address is now for sale to the highest bidder

Google is close to rolling out a tool named “Customer Match” which, it appears, will combine a logged-in Google account with any email address handed by a customer to a retailer to create lists of addresses to target specific users with marketing material.

Source: Google ‘Customer Match’ means your email address is now for sale to the highest bidder – 30 Sep 2015 – Computing News