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Software

Missing Files Blamed For Deadly A400M Crash 253 253

An anonymous reader writes: Think you had a bad day when your software drivers go missing? Rejoice, you get to live! A fatal A400M crash was linked to data-wipe mistake during an engine software update. A military plane crash in Spain was probably caused by computer files being accidentally wiped from three of its engines, according to investigators. Plane-maker Airbus discovered anomalies in the A400M's data logs after the crash, suggesting a software fault. And it has now emerged that Spanish investigators suspect files needed to interpret its engine readings had been deleted by mistake.This would have caused the affected propellers to spin too slowly causing loss of power and eventually, a crash.
Android

The Tricky Road Ahead For Android Gets Even Trickier 344 344

HughPickens.com writes: Farhad Manjoo writes in the NYT that with over one billion devices sold in 2014 Android is the most popular operating system in the world by far, but that doesn't mean it's a financial success for Google. Apple vacuumed up nearly 90 percent of the profits in the smartphone business which prompts a troubling question for Android and for Google: How will the search company — or anyone else, for that matter — ever make much money from Android. First the good news: The fact that Google does not charge for Android, and that few phone manufacturers are extracting much of a profit from Android devices, means that much of the globe now enjoys decent smartphones and online services for low prices. But while Google makes most of its revenue from advertising, Android has so far been an ad dud compared with Apple's iOS, whose users tend to have more money and spend a lot more time on their phones (and are, thus, more valuable to advertisers). Because Google pays billions to Apple to make its search engine the default search provider for iOS devices, the company collects much more from ads placed on Apple devices than from ads on Android devices.

The final threat for Google's Android may be the most pernicious: What if a significant number of the people who adopted Android as their first smartphone move on to something else as they become power users? In Apple's last two earnings calls, Tim Cook reported that the "majority" of those who switched to iPhone had owned a smartphone running Android. Apple has not specified the rate of switching, but a survey found that 16 percent of people who bought the latest iPhones previously owned Android devices; in China, that rate was 29 percent. For Google, this may not be terrible news in the short run. If Google already makes more from ads on iOS than Android, growth in iOS might actually be good for Google's bottom line. Still, in the long run, the rise of Android switching sets up a terrible path for Google — losing the high-end of the smartphone market to the iPhone, while the low end is under greater threat from noncooperative Android players like Cyanogen which has a chance to snag as many as 1 billion handsets. Android has always been a tricky strategy concludes Manjoo; now, after finding huge success, it seems only to be getting even trickier.
Medicine

MIT Developing AI To Better Diagnose Cancer 33 33

stowie writes: Working with Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT has developed a computational model that aims to automatically suggest cancer diagnoses by learning from thousands of data points from past pathology reports. The core idea is a technique called Subgraph Augmented Non-negative Tensor Factorization (SANTF). In SANTF, data from 800-plus medical cases are organized as a 3D table where the dimensions correspond to the set of patients, the set of frequent subgraphs, and the collection of words appearing in and near each data element mentioned in the reports. This scheme clusters each of these dimensions simultaneously, using the relationships in each dimension to constrain those in the others. Researchers can then link test results to lymphoma subtypes.
Advertising

Consumer Groups Bemoan Google's "Deceptive" Ads for Kids In FTC Complaint 92 92

Mark Wilson writes A number of consumer groups have filed a complaint with the FTC suggesting that Google is targeting children with 'unfair and deceptive' ads in YouTube Kids for Android and iOS. A letter signed by Children Now, Consumer Watchdog, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and others says that ads are displayed in a way that would not be permitted on broadcast or cable television. The letter makes three main complaints about the app. The first suggests that Google mixes programming and ads, while another says that the relationship between Google and the manufacturers of advertised products is not clear. The groups ask for the FTC to take action to stop the advertisements. Also covered by The Verge and VentureBeat; here's the complaint letter.

Comment Re:The App Store stuff is more interesting (Score 1) 269 269

I think the 47% you're thinking of is sales last quarter or the North American breakdown. I remember seeing the 47% vs 46% cited, but only recently, and I remember it was not the overall figure. Worldwide, Android is sitting at something like 76.6% (it dropped 2% after the iPhone 6, and that translated into a 2% jump for Apple to 19.7%). The mobile profit numbers are inverted and wider though ;)

Beyond that, I agree with the rest of your post. I think one of the points the article was trying to make though was that standing out is difficult. Even if you make a quality app, one that most people would be willing to pay a reasonable amount, it lost in the sea of crap. Which goes back in part to your point about the knock-offs -- they're getting as much prominence as you, and they're cheaper, so why wouldn't someone try that first?

It seems clear that everyone would benefit from a system that pushed quality to the top of the search list, but so far no one has figured out a way to make that happen reliably.

Comment The App Store stuff is more interesting (Score 5, Insightful) 269 269

At least in the fourth article, the one posted. I read the first three and found them to be largely unconvincing. I think you can like the flat look or not, like Material Design (barely mentioned, but brought up a few times) or not, and that's cool. But one of the main thrusts of his argument in the first three articles was that the defense of these designs was riddled with 'artspeak', a nonsense language used to dissuade criticism. I don't dispute it; I like Material Design (Android user here) but having watched the Material Design sessions from I/O 2014, I definitely got annoyed at all the 'artspeak' going on from the lead guy at Google (Duarte I think his name is). What's funny is that what rubbed me the wrong way about him was how 'Apple-ish' he sounded, so go figure.

But back to the first three articles -- they seemed riddled with a different kind of 'artspeak'. Churlishing comparing the simplish people imagery from Google with Children's books and comparing Apple's design to the child who can paint like Pollock didn't feel particularly high-brow.

Still, the over-arching point that I felt was useful was that criticism is not well-received at Apple (or Google from the sounds of it). That's a point worth dwelling on, especially since Apple in particular has the reputation of having the 'zealots' come out in force whenever anyone says anything ill of Apple. It was quite interesting to hear in the fourth article that -- unless I misunderstood it? -- there's someone at Apple whose job is to rile up the crazies when they get wind of that kind of thing on the interwebz.

But ultimately, the discussion about the problems of the App Store is more interesting. The 'race to the bottom' is something anyone with half a brain can see, and anyone who's a developer looks at that and must feel some gnawing fear. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like we're all pushed to mobile (if you're not on mobile, you're out of touch!) and when I look at the market, it gives me the willies. I don't think the Google Play Store is doing any better in that regard either. Worse, I don't have the foggiest idea of how to correct the problem, not even one that would take Herculean effort from either company to employ.

Nintendo

Nintendo To Announce Virtual Boy 2 68 68

SlappingOysters writes Nintendo has officially unveiled the development of its next home console, codenamed the NX. This article at finder puts forward the case that Nintendo will be stepping back into the virtual realty game with a follow-up to its ill-fated 1995 peripheral, the Virtual Boy. It would be going head-to-head with the Vive, Project Morpheus and the much-rumoured, not yet announced, Microsoft VR unit.
Google

Google+ Divided Into Photos and Streams, With New Boss 146 146

An anonymous reader writes It seems Google+ will see some significant changes under new boss Bradley Horowitz. Google+ will be separated into different products: Photos and Hangouts will be split out, and the social part is now called "the stream". From the article: "Google+ has taken a lot of criticism — notably the infamous 'ghost town' knock that it's devoid of users and concerns about Google's attempts to force its relevance by tying it in with functions like search results and YouTube comments. But Google executives have denied the 'ghost town criticism over and over. In part that's because the company used Google+ to describe more than just its Facebook-esque service for posting and commenting — the part now called Streams. For Google, Google+ also has been the "social spine" that unifies Google users' activities under a single unified identity."

Comment Hold On (Score 5, Insightful) 271 271

If I'm reading the article correctly, the information that says that ads in the Facebook style are far more effective than Google's comes from...a study by Facebook. Gee, that seems totally unbiased and could in no way be slanted by them to help them convince potential advertisers to sign up. All of this seems very bizarre after reading -- for years -- about how the Facebook ad model is so deeply flawed.

Businesses

Layoffs Begin At Daybreak Games 54 54

jjohn24680 writes There are several sources who are reporting layoffs at Daybreak Games (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) today. Notable layoffs include Linda "Brasse" Carlson (former Global Community Relations Lead) and Dave Georgeson (former Director of Development / Franchise Director for Everquest, EverQuest II, and EverQuest Next / Landmark). This post from Daybreak Games has some additional information as well.

Comment Re:Nice troll (Score 1) 579 579

I'll admit that I don't use any of those apps, so I can't say -- I would have assumed that they would open the default browsers of the system -- but maybe they do it in-app.

That said, I'd expect the big guys like Twitter or Facebook to upgrade to the newer component for that very reason -- someone gets hacked the user experience will fault Twitter or Facebook (and this case, with some good cause). Still, I hadn't thought of those cases, so maybe that does make this more dangerous than I thought!

Comment Re:Nice troll (Score 4, Insightful) 579 579

Also a point that gets largely glossed over is that this only affects apps that use Webview as a widget -- browser apps like Chrome or Opera aren't affected because they've updated themselves to use Chromium (or something else). This may affect 60% of Android users, but what percentage of those are using the browser inside an app to visit random sketchy websites? I'm guessing the actual user base at risk is quite small.

The way this is reported it sounds like if you use Chrome on anything south of 4.4, you're IN GRAVE MORTAL DANGER OF TEH HACKZ.

Comment Re:Marketing? (Score 1) 239 239

I actually heard some good things about it. Not 'This is the End' good, but not far off. I think the problem is that it would entirely disrupt the narrative the poster or writer is trying to convey if The Interview is anything but awful tripe. I doubt it will be winning any Oscars, but I've heard nothing from people who've actually see that suggests that its worse than decent, and it might even be pretty good.

Comment They're overstating the effect (Score 3, Interesting) 237 237

I was a conference, GeoWeb I think it was, in 2008. It was for web-based GIS (Geographic Information Systems), basically cartography & the web. This was maybe a year or two after Google bought out Keyhole, and Michael Jones (I think it was him) from Google was there. Also, Google had just released Chrome so there was a lot of discussion about it. I wanted to pick Jones' brain about some KML eccentricities because I had just written a KML reader & writer. I had to wait behind about five other people who just wanted to talk to him because he was from Google.

One conversation though sticks out. Some guy (who seemed somewhat sycophantic for some reason) was going on & on about how Chrome was going to change the world because it was from Google, and they'd make sure it was awesome and because they could use their influence to make sure everyone used it. I remember that Jones cut him off there (sounding more than a little annoyed) and he told the guy (paraphrasing): "Google can't make anyone use anything we write. The search engine lets us put anything we create in front of their eyes at least once -- that's it. If they try it, it has to live or die on its own merits, we can't force people to try or use it."

Comment Re:...the best photographers were older people... (Score 1) 97 97

I'm going to have to disagree with you as well :)

My brother started taking photography seriously when he was living in Japan for a year. Within a year he went from being general capable (I can take a picture and that's it) to being fairly expert. Enough that he considered briefly making a living doing photography. He credits a lot of that rapid growth to getting instant feedback. Yes, people just taking pictures willy nilly and & looking at the results by itself does not make for fast skill building. But I would suggest that for someone who is interested in the craft, it is impossible to not see that immediate feedback -- even if you still need to fire the picture up in a power editor to be 100% sure -- versus taking pictures in a black hole and not seeing the results for hours at a minimum is an incredibly faster iterative cycle.

If the same people who grew up fascinated with cameras & photography thirty years ago had the digital cameras of today when they started out, there is no doubt at all that they would have become the experts they eventually became much, much, MUCH faster.

But obviously it has to be something a person cares about and invests the time to learn. Learning about composition, aperture, exposure & white balance are all important things, but they're things you can learn about a hell of a lot faster when you can do it in the field and see theory put into practice before your very eyes.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (10) Sorry, but that's too useful.

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