Tech Today w/ Ken May

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Harvard economics professor Sendhil Mullainathan takes a look in the New York Times at interesting correlations between the release dates of new phones and OSes and search queries that indicate frustration with the speed of the phones that people already have. Mullainathan illustrates with graphs (and gives plausible explanations for the difference) just how different the curves are over time for the search terms “iPhone slow” and “Samsung Galaxy slow.” It’s easy to see with the iPhone graph especially how it could seem to users that Apple has intentionally slowed down older phones to nudge them toward upgrading. While he’s careful not to rule out intentional slowing of older phone models (that’s possible, after all), Mullainathan cites several factors that mean there’s no need to believe in a phone-slowing conspiracy, and at least two big reasons (reputation, liability) for companies — Apple, Google, and cellphone manufacturers like Samsung — not to take part in one. He points out various wrinkles in what the data could really indicate, including genuine but innocent slowdowns caused by optimizing for newer hardware. It’s an interesting look at the difference between having mere statistics, no matter how rigorously gathered, and knowing quite what they mean. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

tsu doh nimh (609154) writes KrebsOnSecurity looks at a popular service that helps crooked online marketers exhaust the Google AdWords budgets of their competitors.The service allows companies to attack competitors by raising their costs or exhausting their ad budgets early in the day. Advertised on YouTube and run by a guy boldly named “GoodGoogle, ” the service employs a combination of custom software and hands-on customer service, and promises clients the ability to block the appearance of competitors’ ads. From the story: “The prices range from $100 to block between three to ten ad units for 24 hours to $80 for 15 to 30 ad units. For a flat fee of $1, 000, small businesses can use GoodGoogle’s software and service to sideline a handful of competitors’ ads indefinitely.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ever had the urge to peek at your friends’ phone screens, whether it’s to learn about their favorite apps or simply pry into their digital lives? Well, you can now do that without having to either strike up an awkward conversation or get overly nosy. PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and the HVF crew have launched Homer , an iPhone app that lets you share your app picks with fellow users. All you do is take screenshots of your home screens and submit them; Homer scans the pictures and identifies the apps, making it easy to compare them with pals in your contacts or on social networks. As you’d hope, there’s some privacy features baked in. Besides the voluntary nature of screen captures, you can hide individual apps you’d rather keep a secret — you don’t have to share your Tinder addiction with the rest of the world. There’s no mention of Homer versions for other platforms (or people outside the US, for that matter), but you can try it today if you have both an iPhone and an unquenchable curiosity about your buddies’ mobile habits. Filed under: Cellphones , Internet , Mobile Comments Via: GigaOM Source: App Store , HVF Labs

Bose accuses Beats of using patented noise-cancelling tech

Posted by kenmay on July - 27 - 2014

Bose Corp. filed a lawsuit on Friday that accuses popular headphone maker Beats Electronics of infringing upon several of its patents. The suit claims that Bose lost sales because Beats—which Apple announced it would acquire for $3 billion in May—used patented noise-cancelling technology in its Studio and Studio Wireless headphone lines. Beats’ products that allegedly use the technology “can also be used for noise cancellation when no music is played, a feature that Beats also advertises,” the suit states. “Thus, Beats specifically encourages users to use the infringing functionality. Beats advertises no method to turn off features that cause end users to directly infringe.” Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

MojoKid (1002251) writes The ongoing battle between Netflix and ISPs that can’t seem to handle the streaming video service’s traffic, boiled over to an infuriating level for Colin Nederkoon, a startup CEO who resides in New York City. Rather than accept excuses and finger pointing from either side, Nederkoon did a little investigating into why he was receiving such slow Netflix streams on his Verizon FiOS connection. What he discovered is that there appears to be a clear culprit. Nederkoon pays for Internet service that promises 75Mbps downstream and 35Mbps upstream through his FiOS connection. However, his Netflix video streams were limping along at just 375kbps (0.375mbps), equivalent to 0.5 percent of the speed he’s paying for. On a hunch, he decided to connect to a VPN service, which in theory should actually make things slower since it’s adding extra hops. Speeds didn’t get slower, they got much faster. After connecting to VyprVPN, his Netflix connection suddenly jumped to 3000kbps, the fastest the streaming service allows and around 10 times faster than when connecting directly with Verizon. Verizon may have a different explanation as to why Nederkoon’s Netflix streams suddenly sped up, but in the meantime, it would appear that throttling shenanigans are taking place. It seems that by using a VPN, Verizon simply doesn’t know which packets to throttle, hence the gross disparity in speed. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Early detection is the best tool to fight cancer, but biopsies can be painful and inconclusive. New research shows a simple blood test can detect cancers by blasting white blood cells with UV and seeing how they respond. Painless, universal cancer detection could be a drop of blood away. Read more…

Not everything is bigger in Texas. The gargantuan LED display housed in the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium , and the even the slightly more humongous display in the Houston Texans’ stadium , have just been displaced by the mega-jumbotron debuting today in Jacksonville. Read more…

Nate the greatest (2261802) writes with news made public Friday that Apple has acquired a little known ebook company called Booklamp, a small Idaho-based ebook startup which is best known for the Book Genome Project. First shown off to the world in 2008, this project was conceived by Booklamp founder and CEO Aaron Stanton as a way of analyzing a book’s pacing, dialog, perspective, genre, and other details in order to identify a book’s unique DNA. Booklamp has been using the tech to sell various services to publishers, tech companies, and the like, but Booklamps’s existing contracts were apparently cancelled earlier this year. According to one industry insider the deal happened in April, but Apple managed to keep the news under wraps until just last night. No one knows for sure how Apple will use booklamp but there is speculation that Apple could launch an ebook subscription service similar to the week-old Kindle Unlimited, or they could just use Booklamp to drive ebook recommendations in what some are speculating is the world’s second largest ebookstore. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Russia Posts $110,000 Bounty For Cracking Tor’s Privacy

Posted by kenmay on July - 25 - 2014

hypnosec writes: The government of Russia has announced a ~$110, 000 bounty to anyone who develops technology to identify users of Tor, an anonymising network capable of encrypting user data and hiding the identity of its users. The public description (in Russian) of the project has been removed now and it only reads “cipher ‘TOR’ (Navy).” The ministry said it is looking for experts and researchers to “study the possibility of obtaining technical information about users and users’ equipment on the Tor anonymous network.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The new American Dream was going so well: drop out, make an app for sending emojis that disappear after 5 seconds, and collect your check. But it turns out the app gold rush is broken for almost everyone. Read more…