Translating technological terms throws up some peculiar challenges
Ibrahima Sarr, a Senegalese coder, led the translation of Firefox into Fulah, which is spoken by 20m people from Senegal to Nigeria. “Crash” became hookii (a cow falling over but not dying); “timeout” became a honaama (your fish has got away). “Aspect ratio” became jeendondiral, a rebuke from elders when a fishing net is wrongly woven. In Malawi’s Chichewa language, which has 10m speakers, “cached pages” became mfutso wa tsamba, or bits of leftover food. The windowless houses of the 440,000 speakers of Zapotec, a family of indigenous languages in Mexico, meant that computer “windows” became “eyes”.
The app market is becoming a mature, developed industry, with vastly increased commoditization compared to its early days. Competition is ubiquitous, relentless, and often shameless, even in categories that were previously under-the-radar niches. Standing out requires more effort than ever, yet profits are harder to come by than ever. Full-time iOS indie developers — people who make the majority of their income from sales of their apps, rather than consulting or other related work — are increasingly rare.
: Marco Arment (creator of Instapaper and early Tumblr CTO) wonders if the heyday for app makers is over even when Apple and Google have paid out a combined $15B
to developers in the last 12 months.
: Apple, IBM in massive enterprise hardware, software partnership
Tech behemoths Apple and IBM announced a partnership Tuesday that could make Apple—traditionally a consumer brand—a major player in the business market.
IBM said it would create a class of more than 100 business applications exclusively for iPhones and iPads to run on Apple's iOS platform. In return, IBM will sell Apple's products with 100 industry-specific apps to its clients worldwide. [more inside]
In March 2012, legendary animator Glen Keane
sent out a letter to his colleagues at Walt Disney Animation Studios that outlined his resignation
from the House of Mouse, where he'd worked for over 38 years on beloved Disney characters like Ariel, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and the Beast. His departure left many Disney fans wondering what was going to happen to the great master, whom many believe is one of the greatest character animators alive today, and for a while it seemed that his retirement might be permanent.
Last week, however, Keane debuted his first hand-drawn animated short, Duet
, which he produced with Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group in San Francisco.
As you might expect, it's an absolutely breathtaking artistic and technical achievement
. And it hasn't even been released in its final interactive mobile format yet. [more inside]
John Chen's Plan to Save Blackberry Over all, Chen wants BlackBerry to transform itself from being a “mobile technology company” that pushes handset sales to “a mobile solution company” that takes a broader approach to serving the mobile computing needs of its customers. Remaining in the handset business is important—for now, at least. “I think devices are still one component of the solution,” Chen says. “The question is, Do we need to be in the device business? That remains to be seen.”
Estonia, with a population of 1.3 million, might just have the most technologically forward-thinking government around
Thomas Baekdal writes on How In-app Purchases Have Destroyed The [Game] Industry
We have reached a point in which mobile games couldn't even be said to be a game anymore. Playing a game means that you have fun. It doesn't mean that you sit around and wait for the game to annoy you for so long that you decide to pay credits to speed it up. And for an old geezer like me who remember the glory days of gaming back in the 1990s, it's just unbearable to watch.
Drew Crawford answers
See, in the in-app purchase model actually predates phones. It predates video game consoles. It goes all the way back to the arcade, where millions of consumers were happy to pay a whole quarter ... to pay for just a few minutes.
The Year of the Crush: How the Radically Unfair Candy Crush Saga Took Over Our Lives
We are clearly drawn to structured entanglements with chance. We use rules and money to define the stakes, and we use cards or dice or candies not as generators but as channelers — mediums — of the chance we believe is already out there, secretly running the show. Despite whatever other beliefs we have about fate or God or a deterministic universe, we often act as if luck is quite real in our daily lives. Candy Crush Saga has capitalized on this to become the mobile game of the year. Not the best, nor the worst, but the mobile game that dominated the charts, that succeeded at free-to-play in a way that will be studied for years, that penetrated the wider culture and came to stand in for all of addictive, time-wasting mobile gaming in 2013. And yet Candy Crush is not simply game of the year in the way that Stalin was once Time’s Person of the Year. It’s a genuinely compelling game that fully commits to radical unfairness. In fact, this is the primary source of its appeal.
Japan and other Asian countries have moved from SMS to smart phone messaging apps,
with great success for all.
Inside the fall of BlackBerry:
How the smartphone inventor failed to adapt. [more inside]
"Green party politician Malte Spitz sued to have German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data that he then made available to ZEIT ONLINE. We combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the internet." -- The end result is an interactive map of Malte Spitz's movements over six months from 31st August 2009 to 27th February 2010
as an example of what you can do with telephone meta data.
(a group led by Microsoft, Oracle and Expedia) has filed a complaint
[PDF] with the EU claiming that
Google has a monopoly in the mobile market and is using its mobile position
to force its other products on users.
Why the collision of big data and privacy will require a new realpolitik
The paper, entitled Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility, took an anonymized dataset from an unidentified mobile operator containing call information for around 1.5 million users over 14 months. The purpose of the study was to figure out how many data points — based on time and location — were needed to identify individual users. The answer, for 95 percent of the “anonymous” users logged in that database, was just four.
Visitors to, and other non-residents in, North Korea are now able to tweet and instagram, as mobile data services are gradually opened up
. (Probably) the first tweet sent in this way appeared earlier today
. [more inside]
Garmin, the well-known navigation company also makes bike computers. Today they unveiled a GPS-enabled bike computer that adds bluetooth to pair with your phone (and piggyback on your network connection). The resulting product video
featuring Garmin's pro team riders is a little Hollywood and a little silly showing riders competing virtually against each other but paints a pretty impressive picture for real-time stats, weather, maps, and data sharing among cyclist friends. More at Wired's Gadget blog
and a complete review at the DC rainmaker
An iOS application developer has come up with an extreme way of fighting software piracy—by auto-posting "confessions" to its users' Twitter accounts.
"...Enfour, the maker of a variety of dictionary apps, is auto-posting tweets to users' accounts to shame them for being pirates. But the auto-tweeting seems to be affecting a huge portion of its paid user base, not just those who actually stole the apps." Follow-up
. A personal account: Can’t spell “pirate” without “-irate”: on DRM and punishing the customer [more inside]
"In 1911, the Saenger Brothers
, Abe and Julian, operators of a drug business at Louisiana and Milam streets, decided to enter the amusement field. They were impressed with [Shreveport movie theatre operator E.V. Richards] and induced him to join them in their new field of endeavor ... In 1912 the Saenger Amusement Company was organized with Saenger Brothers, E.V. Richards and L. M. Ash as the stockholders. Richards continued as manager and an expansion policy was adopted which linked Texarkana
, Monroe and Alexandria with Shreveport
and thus formed the first Saenger chain
of theatres in this area ... The company moved to New Orleans where the Strand Theatre
, a building of magnificent modernity
, was formally opened on July 4, 1917 ... In 1924 the company again inhaled deeply before exhaling a new record of expansion that established branches in 12 southern states. In 1926 and '27 further expansion took the company into Cuba, Jamaica, Panama and Costa Rica. During the expansion peak 320 theatres were involved in the holding company." Sadly, few remain. [more inside]
Wireless Emergency Alerts
(WEA) are a new service from U.S. weather service and FEMA. Starting in June, they will send a text message with a strange tone to your mobile device if you are in range of a Tornado Warning, Tsunami Warning or other major event (in the U.S. only). Major events include "Presidential Alerts." You do not need to sign up. Washington Post Capital Weather Gang
has a few more details.
Met Police to extract suspects' mobile phone data
[BBC] The Metropolitan Police, covering Greater London, are set to expand their search powers by making it standard practice to swipe contact details, call logs, and texts off of the mobile phones of anyone in custody - and retain
that data - regardless of whether the suspect ends up charged with a crime or not. Clearly not everyone is over the moon about this, seeing it as the latest sign of the steady erosion of communications privacy in the UK
and a potential breach of human rights law.
In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough of one another if we can use technology to keep one another at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right. The flight from conversation.
A new initiative recently proposed by the Royal Canadian Mint proposes to create the MintChip, a digital currency that’s similar (to BitCoin), but is backed by the Canadian government.
Aiming to become “the digital equivalent of the coins we use every day,” in the Canadian Mint’s own words, the MintChip will target micro- and nano-transactions conducted both online and offline, whether at the physical point of sale, on mobile devices, or among peers. Via
Understanding Mobile Spectrum
(NY Times video) - A short video explaining mobile spectrum and the debate. A graphic
that also explains. As the FCC plans to license spectrum previously used by TV broadcasters, FCC Chair Genachowski tries to convince the dubious
. Mobile carriers say we are going to have a spectrum crunch
. Technical details at the excellent FCC Spectrum Dashboard
Twitter is being used as a crime-fighting tool by a tech-savvy village chief in Kenya. Francis Kariuki, the administrative chief of Lanet Umoja, has used the micro-blogging site for everything from tracking down missing sheep to stopping home invasions.
"The Secret Gestural Prehistory of Mobile Devices
is cultural anthropology. It seeks to recover those moments of intuitive prehensile dexterity, when the famous and the ordinary alike felt the unconscious desire to occupy their hands for an as yet unknown purpose. Like Roy Neary's obsession with the image of Devil's Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), this gesture was vague, uncanny and compelling. It is the intimation in images of a gestural second nature to come." [more inside]
Adobe has partnered with Google to develop PPAPI
, codename "Pepper", a modern API for browser plugins. New versions of Adobe Flash will be released only as part of Google Chrome
for the Linux platform. The last version of the Flash plugin for mobile browsers will be 11.1, according to the newest Flash roadmap
, released today.
, the web browser engine used by Safari and Chrome, turning into IE6
? Concern is growing that reliance on proprietry CSS features
marked by vendor prefixes
could be breaking the web
The Newspaper Map
: browse thousands of local, regional and national newspapers from around the world, based on geographical location. Filter and translate languages, see newspaper archives back to the early 19th century, and find fourth estate Twitter and YouTube feeds. A mobile version
is also available. via
Cheating at exams is hardly new, but last week a user on Yahoo Chiebukuro
in Japan (Yahoo Answers) audaciously posted questions
online during university entrance exams and received answers before the exams were over
. [more inside]
A complete guide to digital security for advocates and human rights defenders (and for you too!). It includes all the info and tools you'll need for anything related to personal digital security.
: Tools and tactics for mobile advocacy.
: Everything you need to make and distribute your own media.
: Set up you NGO using free and open-source software. [more inside]
Inside Google's Age of Augmented Humanity
. Wade Roush of Xconomy interviews Google researchers working on speech recognition
, machine translation
, and computer vision
. [CEO Eric] Schmidt talked about "the age of augmented humanity," a time when computers remember things for us, when they save us from getting lost, lonely, or bored, and when "you really do have all the world's information at your fingertips in any language"—finally fulfilling Bill Gates' famous 1990 forecast. This future, Schmidt says, will soon be accessible to everyone who can afford a smartphone—one billion people now, and as many as four billion by 2020.... It's not that phones themselves are all that powerful, at least compared to laptop or desktop machines. But more and more of them are backed up by broadband networks that, in turn, connect to massively distributed computing clouds (some of which, of course, are operated by Google). "It’s like having a supercomputer in your pocket," Schmidt said in Berlin. "When we do voice translation, when we do picture identification, all [the smartphone] does is send a request to the supercomputers that then do all the work."
According to official Chinese stats, make of them what you will, there are now 457 million internet users in China
. They are said to include 450m who have broadband, and 303m who use mobile internet. 304m play online games, 140m use online banking, and 63m microblog. These users are estimated to spend an average of 18 hours a week online. As a benchmark, the current US population is estimated at 312m