I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Posts in technology:

Today’s Prize Idiot

Edward Mendelson of the The New York Review of Books seems to have decided to announce his nanoencephalitic idiocy–or is it his boundless cynicism?–to the world thusly:

[A]s everyone knows, the world-religion of the educated and prosperous in the twenty-first century is Apple, with its Vatican in Cupertino and its cathedrals in the light-filled Apple Stores that draw pilgrims gripping iPhones and iPads like rosaries. Apple’s flock is secured against heresy by censors who rule the online App Store; only applications with Apple’s imprimatur are allowed on an iPhone. Programmers risk excommunication—with all their works condemned to being listed in an Index of Prohibited Software—if they violate canon law by bypassing Apple’s banking system or ignoring its infallible doctrine. Rebellious heretics can “jailbreak” an iPhone and induce it to accept software anathematized by Apple, but a heretic’s phone is refused communion when presented for repair at the Apple Store.

I wonder: has any religion ever been defined as such only by its opponents? And: has anyone ever been hungrier for pageviews than Edward Mendelson’s shockingly soulless and potentially mentally-challenged editor?

How to Pay Internet People to Like You

Matt Honan explains:

In an era when a story’s success is defined by its impact, there are a lot of cheats. Need to boost pageviews? You could rent a botnet for $2 an hour and point many thousands of visitors to your story. But counting pageviews is old-school—”engagement” is where it’s at today. So I went to Fiverr, a service that lets you pay people $5 for all sorts of tasks. First, I paid someone to get 6,000 people to spend at least 30 seconds viewing my story. To juice social media I paid $5 for 2,000 shares on Facebook. I also put down $5 for 500 people to tweet my story and another $5 for 500 retweets of my own tweet. Money can’t buy me love? Nonsense.

This is an iron-clad plan for the acquisition of meaningless notoriety—which is great, because after Money, that’s the only thing Americans care about.

Verizon Femtocell Exploit Allows Hackers to Hear Phone Calls

Security Affairs :

Two security researchers announced that they have succeeded to transform Verizon mobile phones into spy tools to track Verizon’s users.

The security experts revealed to the Reuters agency that it is possible to hack Verizon mobile phones for surveillance purpose, the researchers will present the discovery during the next hacking conferences this summer, the DEF CON and Black Hat.

Every single device you add to your arsenal provides an additional attack vector—particularly since your data is increasingly ubiquitous, due to syncing services. Be careful out there.

Elon Musk Proposes 4,000-MPH Trains

Damon Lavrinc of Wired relates the improbable:

Elon Musk wants to revolutionize transportation. Again. The serial entrepreneur envisions a future where mag-lev trains in enormous pneumatic tubes whisk us from Los Angeles to New York in 45 minutes. Need to be in Beijing tomorrow? No problem. It’s a two-hour ride away.

It’s a great idea. Unfortunately, there’s pretty much zero chance that anyone will ever have any motivation whatsoever to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on it. I’m afraid that it might be a long, long time before our species progresses in any way which is not immediately, massively profitable to the few people holding the Capitalist purse-strings.

Pythonista Developer Ole Zorn Announces Forthcoming iOS Automation App

Ole’s announcement:

I tweeted earlier today that I’ve registered the name for a new app in iTunes Connect. It’s called Editorial, and I’ve actually been working on this for over a year now.

At its core, it’s a Markdown editor for iPad, but you can also think of it as a Pythonista spinoff, or a workflow automation tool, not unlike Automator.

I will buy this the day it is released. The screenshots seem to promise an incredible number of possibilities.

Hackers Selling Code Exploits to Governments

Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger for The New York Times:

On the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, two Italian hackers have been searching for bugs — not the island’s many beetle varieties, but secret flaws in computer code that governments pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn about and exploit.

During the Cold War, we had James Bond. Today’s spies do their work between sessions of Call of Duty, while eating Kraft Dinners bought by their mothers.

Chromebook Sales Strong on Low End of Market

Computerworld :

Computerworld – Low-cost Chromebook computers are doing very well with retailers, in stores and online, and now make up a significant share of the low end market, said market research firm NPD Group.

Chromebooks that cost $300 or less account for anywhere from 20% to 25% of monthly sales of computers in this category, reports NPD.

I have my problems with Google, and with the way they do a lot of things. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Chromebooks, though—maybe solely because I was one the beta testers of the Cr-48, but a real soft spot nonetheless. I always thought they’d sell like crazy at the right price, and thought it was a little insane when the first models were priced in the $500 range.

Android Co-Founder Says Fragmentation Is No Big Deal

Chris Smith for Techradar :

Google’s Rich Miner, the man who co-founded Android with Andy Rubin, has weighed in on the debate as to whether the mobile OS has become too fragmented.

And, somewhat unsurprisingly, he thinks it isn’t a major issue.

Alternate headline: “Prolific Defecator Claims His Feces Is Odorless”

Is the Retina iPad Mini Delayed Due to Issues With iOS 7?

Sam Oliver for Apple Insider :

China’s Economic Daily News […] said that though Apple originally planned to launch a Retina iPad mini this fall, it may be delayed until the first quarter of 2014. As such, the rumor suggests that a second-generation iPad mini will not launch this year.

I don’t normally like to bother with discussing Apple rumors, but this bit about the next-gen iPad Mini seems suggestive of a couple of things:

  • There’s really no hardware problem I can think of that might cause a delay like this; Apple has already shipped multiple retina displays at sizes / resolutions both smaller and larger than that needed for an iPad mini–so maybe there’s some kind of software problem at issue.
  • The whole reason the first iPad mini shipped without retina was the fact that iOS apps would need to be re-written for a new resolution—so they gave the screens the same resolution as the first two full-size iPads. However, now, the coming resolution independence in iOS 7 will mean that apps can be built without targeting a specific resolution, therefore paving the way for a retina iPad mini.

The above taken as givens (which may or may not be a stretch), maybe we can conclude that iOS 7, itself, will not be ready until early in 2014. What other reason would Apple have to delay the iPad mini and miss the holiday sales spike? It all just sort of adds up.

A Small Hack to Improve My Drafts/Hazel/DayOne Workflow For MacBook Users

Lorenzo of 24 Empty Bits has adapted my means of writing DayOne entries from directly within Drafts to his own needs, in a way which I thought my readers might find interesting. Rather than requiring an always-on Mac1, as my original solution does, Lorenzo’s version uses an AppleScript to send new entries into DayOne when a Mac wakes or is booted–thus preserving the proper timestamps for entries written while the Mac wasn’t running.

I’m sure this is a welcome hack for those who only have laptops. Thanks, Lorenzo.

  1. Well, not really, but it is true that the timestamps on entries written while your Mac is asleep will be wrong with my version.