[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Speaking of The Guardian, it’s now the last week of April and they still haven’t issued a retraction of their grievously irresponsible story alleging a “backdoor” in WhatsApp from January. Zeynep Tufekci, in an open letter signed by dozens of security/cryptography experts:

Unfortunately, your story was the equivalent of putting “VACCINES KILL PEOPLE” in a blaring headline over a poorly contextualized piece. While it is true that in a few cases, vaccines kill people through rare and unfortunate side effects, they also save millions of lives.

You would have no problem understanding why “Vaccines Kill People” would be a problem headline for a story, especially given the context of anti-vaccination movements. But your series of stories on WhatsApp does the same disservice and perpetrates a similar public health threat against secure communications.

The behavior described in your article is not a backdoor in WhatsApp. This is the overwhelming consensus of the cryptography and security community. It is also the collective opinion of the cryptography professionals whose names appear below. The behavior you highlight is a measured tradeoff that poses a remote threat in return for real benefits that help keep users secure, as we will discuss in a moment. […]

Since the publication of this story, we’ve observed and heard from worried activists, journalists and ordinary people who use WhatsApp, who tell us that people are switching to SMS and Facebook Messenger, among other options–many services that are strictly less secure than WhatsApp.

The Guardian has stretched this out for three months, so it looks like they think they can run out the clock on it. Shameful — this should be an everlasting hit to their credibility.

[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Jessica Davies, reporting for Digiday:

A Guardian News and Media spokesperson confirmed the removal, and issued the following statement to Digiday: “We have run extensive trials on Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News to assess how they fit with our editorial and commercial objectives. Having evaluated these trials, we have decided to stop publishing in those formats on both platforms. Our primary objective is to bring audiences to the trusted environment of the Guardian to support building deeper relationships with our readers, and growing membership and contributions to fund our world-class journalism.”

But:

Meanwhile the Guardian’s use of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, the rival to Instant Articles, seems to be going strong. In March the Guardian presented at AMP Conf, a two-day conference hosted in New York, where it revealed that 60 percent of the Guardian’s Google-referred mobile traffic was coming via AMP.

Follow that link, though, and it doesn’t sound like The Guardian is getting much out of AMP:

AMP pages are 2 percent more likely to be clicked on and clickthrough rates on AMP pages to non-AMP pages is 8.6 percent higher than they are on regular mobile pages, according to Natalia Baltazar, a developer for the British newspaper, who presented at AMP Conf, a two-day conference hosted by Google taking place in New York City March 7-8.

Hello

Apr. 24th, 2017 10:09 pm
regisjr: (Default)
[personal profile] regisjr posting in [community profile] 2017revival
Name: Regis
Age: 38 
Location: Outcrop, PA

Describe yourself in five sentences or less:   I am a kid trapped in a 38 year old gay man's body. Bing bipolar doesn't help. I live with my Dad and it has it's ups and downs. Then there is my Family I speak about but rarely see because I seem to be the black sheep of my family.

Top 5 fandoms:  Star Wars, Friday the 13th, yaoi, Marvel Comic Movie Universe and A Nightmare on Elm Street

My last three LJ posts were about: Hot Guys and Rambling nonsense about my life... so far.

How often do you post? Almost every day

How about commenting? I try my best...

A GIF to describe how your day has been today so far:
[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

New ad-free news site from Jimmy Wales, with professional journalists and Wikipedia-style volunteers working side-by-side. Terrific idea, and there’s a great launch video by Sandwich Video and Kirby Ferguson that explains the concept well.

[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Ben Einstein has a nice tear-down of Juicero’s $399 juicer:

Our usual advice to hardware founders is to focus on getting a product to market to test the core assumptions on actual target customers, and then iterate. Instead, Juicero spent $120M over two years to build a complex supply chain and perfectly engineered product that is too expensive for their target demographic.

Imagine a world where Juicero raised only $10M and built a product subject to significant constraints. Maybe the Press wouldn’t be so perfectly engineered but it might have a fewer features and cost a fraction of the original $699. Or maybe with a more iterative approach, they would have quickly found that customers vary greatly in their juice consumption patterns, and would have chosen a per-pack pricing model rather than one-size-fits-all $35/week subscription. Suddenly Juicero is incredibly compelling as a product offering, at least to this consumer.

[Sponsor] Outlier

Apr. 24th, 2017 07:42 pm
[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by Daring Fireball Department of Commerce

Radical quality clothing. Obsessively sourced raw materials. Designed for performance, durability and movement. Do more and own less. WWW.OUTLIER.NYC

Invisible 3 Update

Apr. 24th, 2017 07:20 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Invisible 3 is running a little behind the schedule I’d hoped to meet. It turns out that coordinating between two editors takes more time than one editor doing it all himself. Who’d have guessed?

Mary Anne and I have 13 essays and 3 poems contracted thus far. We’ve got one revision to look over, and two rewrites we’re waiting to receive. We’re also missing a few author bios I need to follow up about.

Cover art is mostly done, but I need to confirm those last few names before we can finalize that.

We’ve sent the contents off to the person who will be writing the introduction for this volume.

My hope is that when I get back from Buenos Aires and have had a day or two to recover, we’ll be able to announce a tentative release date (I’m guessing May or June, but I reserve the right to be wrong in that guess) and move forward with the cover reveal.

I’m very happy with what we have so far, and I can’t wait until we’re able to share it with you.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

★ Judging Apple Watch’s Success

Apr. 24th, 2017 10:28 pm
[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Mike Murphy, writing for Quartz, “Two Years After Its Launch, the Apple Watch Hasn’t Made a Difference at Apple”:

Apple’s biggest launch since the iPad in 2010, the Apple Watch was expected to be a hit: Given the massive financial success of the iPhone, it stood to reason that a companion device might be something customers craved.

Not so much. Apple has never shared hard numbers on how many wearables it has sold, and doesn’t even break out Watch sales in its quarterly earnings report. Instead, the device is bundled into Apple’s “Other products,” which the company says includes, “Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats products, iPod and Apple-branded and third-party accessories.”

These articles come out like clockwork every 3 months, as Apple’s earnings report draws near. Apple told us they were not going to report hard numbers on Apple Watch right from the start, six months before it shipped. They want to keep them secret for competitive reasons.

Two years and two iterations after its launch, the Apple Watch has not proven to be as indispensable as the iPhone, or even as lucrative as the Mac, the iPad, or Apple’s services businesses. It’s unclear whether an iPhone-like overhaul, or attempts to market the watch directly to athletes or millennials, will ultimately make a difference.

(“Two years and two iterations after its launch” — I don’t know if that’s a mistake, if Murphy is counting WatchOS releases, or if he’s counting Series 1 as a full hardware iteration. But it’s sloppy writing. Most people would surely agree that there’s been only one iteration since launch, the Series 2 watches released last September.)

The nut of every “Apple Watch is a dud” story is the fact that it’s clearly not an iPhone-size business. But that can’t be the only measure of success. The iPhone is the biggest and most successful consumer product in the history of the world. Nothing compares to the smartphone market, and it’s possible nothing else will in our lifetimes. You and I may never again see a product as profitable as the iPhone — not just from Apple, but from any company in any industry. Or maybe we will. It’s a complete unknown.

But if Apple gets it into its head that they should only work on iPhone-sized opportunities, it would paralyze the company. In baseball terms, it’s fine for Apple to hit a bunch of singles while waiting for their next home run. According to Apple, they had more watch sales by revenue in 2015 than any company other than Rolex, and Apple’s “Other” category, which is where Watch sales are accounted for, had a near record-breaking holiday quarter three months ago, suggesting strongly that Watch sales were up over the year-ago holiday quarter.

These two facts are both true: Apple Watch sales are a rounding error compared to the iPhone, and Apple Watch is a smash hit compared to traditional watches and other wearable devices.

Request for help

Apr. 24th, 2017 06:26 pm
herself_nyc: (Default)
[personal profile] herself_nyc posting in [community profile] style_system
Could one of you kind souls link me to the page where I can set the style for my reading page and posting page? I set it to Lynx, which I hate, and can't recall now how I did that.

Thanks!
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
I've come across this a fair bit the last few days (can't think why it's been coming up *rolleyes*), and as it's a big frustration for LGBT+LDs I thought I'd better post about why.

Lots of people high up in the campaigns department at LDHQ think it's great to say that "we achieved equal marriage". They think that because we campaigned for equal marriage, and the Same Sex Marriage Act passed, we should trumpet our achievement. They think that calling it Same Sex Marriage is bad "framing" and Equal Marriage sounds better*.

The problem is that although we did campaign for equal marriage, we didn't get equal marriage. Here is a list of some of the things that remain unequal:
  • The Spousal Veto was a part of the Same Sex Marriage Act and actually made things worse for trans people. It's not extant in Scotland, but still applies in England, Wales and Northernn Ireland.

  • Likewise, to get a gender recognition certificate prior to the Same Sex Marriage Act, if you were married, you were forced to have your marriage annulled, even if your spouse was supportive. These stolen marriages have never been restored, despite Same Sex Marriage now being legal.

  • Same sex spouses do not enjoy the same pension rights as mixed sex spouses. This is obviously unequal.

  • The church of England and the church in Wales are legally prohibited from performing same sex marriage ceremonies. This is manifestly unequal for same sex couples who are adherents to the state religion.

  • Adultery and non-consummation. To commit adultery, you must have vaginal intercourse with a member of "the opposite sex". Yup, not only is the strict gender binary embedded in law, but so is the necessity for PIV to happen for it to count as sex. This is... problematic for people who do not adhere to the strict one man, one woman, no genderqueer people model of relationships. Non-consummation of marriage and adultery both rely on PIV sex. And sure, reasons you might split up don't apply at the moment of marriage, but not every marriage will last, and equity in the divorce courts is surely a consideration before we start calling it equal marriage?

  • The special requirements for registering premises for the conduct of non-CofE religious same-sex marriages are more restrictive than for opposite-sex marriages in religious premises. If the premises are shared by several small denominations - which is often the case with evangelical, African and pro-LGBT churches - every last one of the faith organisations which share the premises has to give their permission for the premises to be used for same-sex marriages. In effect, anti-gay churches have a veto over pro-gay churches.

  • There's no humanist marriage in England and Wales (despite the best efforts of the lovely Julian Huppert) - which affects both mixed sex and same sex couples, but still means that humanists are second class citizens (unless they live in Scotland). Equal marriage should be equal for all beliefs (and lack thereof) as well as for all genders and sexualities.
Now, imagine you are one of the people who is affected by one of these things. Imagine you have been faithful to your partner for decades, and you've finally been allowed to marry under this legislation, and you retire loving and happy, only to discover that your pension rights are not equal.

Imagine you are a trans person, and your spouse has been supportive all along, and first you had your marriage stolen because that had to happen for you to get your gender recognition certificate, and when that happened you got a civil partnership because that was the best that was available and you loved your spouse, and then when same sex marriage came in you had to get married for a third time to convert your civil partnership into a marriage, and you'd meantime been supporting other people going through transition and the spousal veto had applied to some of those people... How would you feel in that situation if you were told that we'd achieved Equal Marriage?

Imagine you were the chair of an LGBT+ campaigning organisation. Imagine trying to persuade people that there are still inequities that need to be corrected, that people are still suffering injustices that need to be righted, that work still needs to be done, when everybody says but we achieved Equal Marriage, didn't we? What are you fussing about?

Imagine trying to persuade other LGBT+ people to vote for your party, when they can look at what your party is saying about "equal marriage" and think but they are completely tone deaf to the actual concerns of LGBT+ people, or else they would know that 'equal' marriage is nothing but!

For anybody, in any of those situations, Lib Dems trumpeting we achieved equal marriage! is going to feel like a proper slap in the face. It's going to feel like the inequalities and injustices that you suffer do not matter to Lib Dems. Equal Marriage, as framing, makes a very ugly picture indeed if you are suffering from one of the unequal effects of the Same Sex Marriage Act.

Please, please, please, for the love of Cthulhu, if you are a Lib Dem, stop saying we achieved equal marriage. We achieved same sex marriage. There's still a way to go before it's equal. Our leader gets this. Please get it too.



* NB: Our Glorious Leader is not one of these people, and completely gets everything I am posting about here, and that's yet another reason why I get annoyed with partisan Labour types going BUT TIM HATES THE GAYS!!!!! at me. Apart from anything else the conflation of gay rights and LGBT+ rights is infuriating.

CleanEmail

Apr. 24th, 2017 08:50 pm
[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

If you’re looking for an alternative to Unroll.me, CleanEmail looks like a good choice:

Here at CleanEmail, we are committed to your security and privacy. In short: we don’t keep, sell, or analyze your data for the purposes beyond our public features. Read below for more details.

They don’t have to sell your personal email data because they charge an honest price for their service.

jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
To expand on the point in the previous post, is it right that electrons bend round corners, like sound etc? Aka diffraction? This is how electron microscopes work, right?

That means that a probability wave is an actual thing, right, not a description of a particle? Does it?

But if so, how can anyone cling to the idea that they're a particle with a particular position. Particles don't do that. Do they?

And yet, there's massive amounts of effort to come up with interpretations of quantum mechanics that retain the "in a particular position" idea. Or the idea of hidden variable theory seems to be that the electron is in multiple places at once, but when you finally measure it, it was predetermined what value you were going to find[1]. If you've *already accepted* the multiple-places-at-once thing, AND the wave-physically-exists thing, what do you gain by assuming it then suddenly stops doing that at some unspecified point?

[1] "Predetermined" to avoid the "spooky action at a distance" problem, of, if you have a probability wave describing *two* particles (say, emitted in opposite directions with opposite spin), and measure them waaaaaaay far apart, how do they "know" what value to take to ensure they end up opposite, when there's no way for a signal to travel between them. Leaving aside the absurdity of a "hey, collapse this way" message even if it were slower than light.
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
Hypothesis 1: Electrons are tiny objects that have a specific position

Evidence: If you bounce something off an electron it hits the electron in one place. For all the talk of "in multiple places at once", you never shoot something at an electron, it bounces off the electron, and it bounces off the electron *somewhere else*.

Evidence: There's always a particular number of electrons. You never have two and a half electrons.

Hypothesis 2: Electrons are waves

Evidence: If you have an electron "orbiting" an atom, it's not at a particular place, it's smeared out over a whole sphere (or sphere-ish shape?) round the electron aka "an electron shell". Indeed, if you have two electrons in an electron shell, I don't know if you can even tell them apart, just that there's two. In metal, ALL the electrons are ALL OVER. They really don't have a particular position.

Evidence: If you fire one at a corner of an object, they diffract round it (is that right??)

Evidence: If you fire one through one or two narrow slits, you get interference bands, where "electron from here" and "electron from *here*" combine to give a dark band of "no electrons detected". This happens to waves. It does not happen to objects.

Hypothesis 3

This takes longer to explain. Imagine you have an object, but its position isn't certain, you're doing a calculation like, "if there's an x% chance it's here, and a y% chance it's there, and it bounces off this, then it might be anywhere along this line with a chance proportional to the distance..." etc. We do that all the time instinctively. But we mostly expect that the object actually *is* in one particular place, we just don't know what it is.

Suppose that instead of a mathematical convenience, what an electron *actually is* is a probability distribution like that, except for:

(a) When something interacts with it, it interacts with one point in the distribution chosen with the relative likelihood of that point, and from then on only that matters. Except if the other particle is of uncertain distribution too, then you get a probability distribution over both of them, until you actually check at least one of them.

(b) The probability distribution changes obeying equations which mostly describe a particle moving in a straight line (or a curve according to a force acting on it), except that it's all continuous, and if you have a sharp corner, the probability spreads out round it (as if the particle's path was bending).

(c) The probability not only has a magnitude, it has a direction (usually represented as a complex number, where the actual probability is the magnitude). If two probabilities have opposite signs, they cancel out. And it changes as it moves, analogous to wave oscillating, eg. light consisting of electric field waxing while a magnetic field wanes, etc.

The third point (c) is par for the course for waves: waves almost always involve something oscillating in both directions away from a rest point. But it's very spooky to see with things that look like particles: if there's a 5% chance of an electron hitting this particular point on a screen having gone through slit A, and a 5% chance of an electron hitting this particular point having gone through slit B, what's the chance of it hitting that point at all? Well, it might be 10% or it might be 0% or it might be somewhere between, depending

Evidence: Everything above in both previous hypotheses

Evidence: Everything behaves like a particle even if you didn't expect it (eg. light has photons)

Evidence: Everything behaves like a wave even if you didn't expect it (eg. you can fire small molecules through slits and see them do wave-like things like interference).

Evidence: The cancelling-out thing. You can construct this out of specific particles with clearly defined values (qubits) in building a quantum computer, and this is exactly how you find probabilities behaving. (Right?)

Correct me?

Is (b) really true? That's what it looks like from what I've read. But is that basically accurate?

If not, where have I gone wrong?

If so, it seems such an obvious "this is how we know these probability thingies actually exist" why isn't it front and centre in more explanations?

Is the description of probabilities right?

Conclusions

Hopefully I will think myself through some more examples. But this is the major point to get your head around first with quantum mechanics.

I think everyone would say the first two hypotheses are more natural. But they don't fit the evidence. The third hypothesis fits ALL the evidence, even though the hypothesis itself looks screwy.

And as far as I can tell, physicists still argue about which parts of this are actually there, and which are mathematical descriptions of something else, but agree that if you take Hypothesis 3 and just assume everything works like that, then you get all the right answers.

One for the Thumbs

Apr. 24th, 2017 07:23 pm
[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

Siskel and Ebert had it right. The two critics were forced to provide star ratings for their newspapers, but when they created their own TV movie-reviews show, they famously boiled the whole thing down to thumbs up and thumbs down. And they were critics who reviewed hundreds of films a year! If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for the rest of us — and for the algorithms fed by our sentiment.

👍

[syndicated profile] daringfireball_feed

Posted by John Gruber

John Voorhees, reporting for MacStories:

Today, Apple announced that it is reducing the commissions it pays on apps and In-App Purchases from 7% to 2.5% effective May 1st. The iTunes Affiliate Program pays a commission from Apple’s portion of the sale of apps and other media when a purchase is made with a link that contains the affiliate credentials of a member of the program. Anyone can join, but the Affiliate Program is used heavily by websites that cover media sold by Apple and app developers. […]

With ad revenue in decline, affiliate commissions are one way that many websites that write about apps generate revenue, MacStories included. Many developers also use affiliate links in their apps and on their websites to supplement their app income. This change will put additional financial pressure on both groups, which is why it’s especially unfortunate that the changes are being made on just one week’s notice.

Everything about this strikes me as strange, including the mere one week notice and the severity of the cut. It’s not a small reduction — it’s effectively been cut by two thirds. Note too that Apple is only reducing the affiliate commission for apps and in-app purchases — movies, music, and books are all still at 7 percent.

I ask: Why? I can almost always see logic behind Apple’s decisions, even when I don’t agree with them. But not this one.

Update: I should add that I don’t have any skin in this decision, personally. I don’t use affiliate codes when linking to apps here at DF, and I’m no longer in Amazon’s affiliate program either. I think we did use affiliate codes at Q Branch to get a commission on links to Vesper, but that’s over now.

A Warwick Weekend

Apr. 24th, 2017 05:56 pm
sally_maria: (Here and There)
[personal profile] sally_maria
Last weekend it was time for the Tolkien Society AGM again, and this year we were visiting Warwick. It's actually not that far from here - less than an hour away, but therefore I'd never actually visited the town, only the castle, and that longer ago than I care to think about.

It's actually a very interesting town, with quite a few historic buildings and museums, and I wouldn't mind going back again to see more of them.

First of all, I was trying to meet up with [personal profile] wellinghall, [personal profile] adaeze and Little Star at lunchtime on Friday, at the Thomas Oken's house tea rooms. It was well worth a visit, if only for the unexpected member of our party...

Warwick 2017
click through for the rest of my photos.

Other highlights of the weekend included )

Hello, hello!

Apr. 24th, 2017 02:13 pm
nanslice: ([FFXV] mom and dad)
[personal profile] nanslice posting in [community profile] 2017revival
Name: Nan
Age: 31
Location: Southeastern USA

Describe yourself in five sentences or less: Hello, I am Nan! I'm a fandom oldbie (having been in fandom since I was 13), an artist (both traditional and digital), a fangirl (I'm a shipper, is what I'm saying here), a writer (both original and fan), and perpetually sleepy.

Top 5 fandoms: I'm a perpetual fandom butterfly and once I've been fannish about something, chances are I'll eventually go back to being fannish about it in the future. Right this moment, I'm particularly fannish about Final Fantasy (specifically XV although VIII and XII are also faves), BBC Sherlock, Yuri on Ice, the MCU, and Fire Emblem (currently playing Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest and Niles is 100% my husbando).

I mostly post about: Fandom stuff (what I'm working on, new comms and challenges here on DW, fic/art recs), art stuff (fan/original, traditional/digital), and Real Life annoyances. If I have a particularly nice day, I'll probably talk about that.

I rarely post about: I don't really post a lot about politics. I don't post a ton about social justice (I believe in it, of course, it's just not a focus on my journal).

My last three posts were about: Noctis/Prompto fanart, communities and art, and that AO3 meme that's been going around.

How often do you post?: Practically daily, lmao. I post a lot.

How about commenting?: I comment as much as I can! I think I do an okay job. Commenting, for me, is an important part of creating a community and that's basically what we're trying to do here on DW, right? :3

A gif to describe your day so far:

Money and Government

Apr. 24th, 2017 06:07 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
The UK takes in 34.4% of GDP as tax*. This is a bit less than the EU average (35.7%), about 6% less than Germany (40.6%), and a chunk less than the countries at the top end (Sweden at 45.8%, France at 47.9%, Denmark at 50.8%).

Is this the major source of the UK being awful at providing a safety net at the moment? Or are there other things that play a significant part in exacerbating the situation?

And are those figures comparable? In the UK that 34.4% has to cover the vast majority of healthcare, while in Germany healthcare looks to be largely on top of that - which would have an effect there (Although that would make the overall figures even higher in Germany).

I'm not actually sure how much I trust the figures in this case either. That page has the USA at 26%, whereas the figures here show total US taxation as either 18% (Federal), or 42% (Federal, State, and Local).


*All figures from here.

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