The Computer-Revolution Edition Friday, January 27, 2017

Vanishing Point: The Rise Of The Invisible Computer, by Tim Cross, The Guardian

One of the most powerful technological forces of the past 50 years, in other words, will soon have run its course. The assumption that computers will carry on getting better and cheaper at breakneck speed is baked into people’s ideas about the future. It underlies many technological forecasts, from self-driving cars to better artificial intelligence and ever more compelling consumer gadgetry. There are other ways of making computers better besides shrinking their components. The end of Moore’s law does not mean that the computer revolution will stall. But it does mean that the coming decades will look very different from the preceding ones, for none of the alternatives is as reliable, or as repeatable, as the great shrinkage of the past half-century.

Bookish Hacker Finds Holes In Amazon, Apple, Google Epub Services, by Darren Pauli, The Register

Bug hunter Craig Arendt has reported vulnerabilities in major eBook readers including those from Apple, Google, and Amazon. [...] "[I] applied a familiar XXE pattern to exploit services and readers that consume the epub format [and exploited] vulnerabilities in EpubCheck, Adobe Digital Editions, Amazon KDP, Apple Transporter, and Google Play Book uploads," Arendt says. [...]

The named vendors have applied patches preventing the possible information disclosure and denial of service conditions.

What Would Happen If You Never Took Your Earbuds Out?, by Steve Rousseau, Digg

Keeping your earbuds in might save your ears from clogging up with earwax, but as a long-term strategy it’s just not a good idea. Earbuds don’t let anything in, but they also don’t let anything out. “It tends to trap moisture, it tends to accumulate debris underneath it,” says Lalwani. “So over time, what that’ll do is cause infections where the earplug sits.” Depending on how dirty and wet your ears are, this could happen within a matter of weeks.


Apple Support App Now Available In 22 Countries, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The official Apple Support app for iPhone and iPad launched in additional countries this week, including but not limited to Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The Gear You Need To Make Your iPad Your Only Computer, by David Pierce, Wired

Still, the iPad needs a little help to reach its full potential. You’ll need a few accessories, a little training, and some time to adjust to your new normal. Trust me when I say it’s a good thing that you can’t have 46 apps running simultaneously, and that you’ll only miss your super-duper file explorer app for a few days. You’ll soon realize that your computer doesn’t have to be complicated or clunky after all.

This iPhone App Can Do Your Kid's Homework, by John Patrick Pullen, Time

Just like a teenager, the artificial intelligence backing Socratic began by learning algebra. Bhansali's team had to write an algorithm that could analyze a photo of a math problem and solve it. Then, working with teachers, the company had to develop a layer of instruction to explain to users how to solve the problems in a step-by-step manner. That way, the app is doing more than just providing answers — it's helping students learn how those answers were found.

A Deep Dive Into HandBrake And Video Transcoding, by Rob Griffiths

An ideal rip would be one that happens in seconds, saves into a 10KB file, and has quality matching the original. The reality, though, is far from the ideal. Ripping a movie involves making trade-offs between those three competing measures: Maximizing any one measure requires some sort of tradeoff with one or both of the other measures.

After ripping so many DVDs and Blu-rays over the years, I was curious about how HandBrake and Don Melton’s Video Transcoding tools handle those tradeoffs, so I decided to do some testing.

Hands On: Air Display 3.0.3 Turns Your iPad Into A Wireless Second Screen For Your Mac, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Air Display's big advantage is this wireless ability, and it mostly works well. Once you've set it up the first time and it's running away, your iPad does indeed act as a second screen to your Mac. It's an extension of your desktop or it's a mirror of it: the choice is yours. Move your Mac cursor to the side of your main screen and it appears on the iPad.

Banktivity 6 For Mac Adds Workspace, Tags, Quick Reports, And More, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Banktivity 6 introduces Workspace, a new feature that enables customers to view any account, budget, report or other view side by side.


Apple Extends Developer Promotion For Free $100 App Store Search Ads Credit Until March 30, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple is extending the introductory offer for App Store Search Ads until March 30, for developers who have yet to use the program.


Apple's International iTunes Business Moves To Ireland On Feb. 5, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

After managing Apple's overseas operations since 2004, the Luxembourg branch will cease to be on Feb. 4. [...] The transfer comes amid rising tensions between Apple, Ireland and the European Union.

Apple Faces Lawsuit Over Song Sampled In iPhone Ad, by Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

Persuasions lead singer Jerome Lawson is the plaintiff in the new suit against Apple—but it isn't a copyright case. Rather, Lawson has said use of his voice in the ad violates his right of publicity under California state law.

The $99 Billion Idea: How Uber And Airbnb Won, by Brad Stone, Bloomberg

Both startups offered age-old ideas (share a vehicle, rent your home) with new twists and fostered a remarkable degree of openness among strangers. And both companies have been generating nearly nonstop controversy in every urban market they enter. They’ve come to represent, at least to some, the hubris of the techno-elite. Critics blame them for destroying the basic rules of employment, exacerbating traffic, ruining neighborhoods, worsening housing shortages, and generally bringing unrestrained capitalism into liberal cities. Airbnb and Uber didn’t anticipate this degree of pushback, which might have undone less zealous, more circumspect entrepreneurs.

So how did it all happen? How did each company maneuver past entrenched, politically savvy incumbents to succeed where others had failed? How much of their success was luck?

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Have a happy New Year.


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