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Comment Not only the features (Score 1) 85

just rip off any other successful app and cha ching!

The problem is that the features aren't the only reason SnapChat is successful.
It's not like the kids are there only for the emoji-stickers, face-tracking "doggy-face" filters, and "don't over-think you posts, it's for ephemeral consumption" agument...
(Though these are part of the reason why Snapchat started to get popular).

Now there's also a set of network and anti-network effect into play.

The kids are currently flocking to Snapchat because that where all their friends are already on.
And the kids are also flocking to Snapchat because it's explicitely NOT facebook, i.e.: it's *NOT* where their parents are, and neither the teachers, nor all the other people they with whom they don't want to be on the same network and in front of which they don't want to be embarrassed.

i.e.: At the current point of time, Snapchat not being Facebook IS one of the main reason of it's popularity.

- Facebook trying to acquire Snapchat to avoid getting over-taken by it (like they've done in the past with Instagram, WhatsApp and any other popular platform) was their only hope, but they didn't manage to catch that boat.
- Facebook trying to integrate Snap-like features in their offering is not going to help them much. It's going to help them retain some of their current (ageing) user base. (Those who are already there and might be interested in the features : I've seen it on Instagram).
But it's not going to help re-capture the current "new generation", those are already building their network elsewhere.

For once, Zuckerberg is at the receiving edge of the network effect.

Comment Different organs (Score 3, Insightful) 69

Giving a dead serious response to an obvious joke, but...

How about caramel, or blueberries, or carrots, or ketchup, or seafood.....

The tongue is an extremely limited organ in sensing capacity.
Basically it can detect sweet (presence of small molecule with a surface vaguely shaped like glucose), salt (basiclly "there are ions here"), acid/sour (simplistic pH) and umame (detects if there are animo acids in the mix).
that's about it.
and due to their function "satly" (basically a ion flux) and "pH" (bascially a specialised ion flux) are the easiest to simulate with electrodes (cause a flux of electricity, i.e.: ions when in a liquid medium like saliva), so that's why they went for "shitty cheap lemonade" (basically citric acid/citrate sodium with some tasteless yellow dye) instead of anything else more complex.

The organ which is responsible to detect that caramel is in fact caramel and not only sweet with a touch of salty is the nose.
(In addition of sampling air as it goes by (= sense of smell), the nose can sample small molecule that are present inside the mouth cavity and diffuse to the nose thorugh the back or over the humid surface (= sense of taste, complementing what the tongue is doing).
There are a huge amount of different receptors, enabling you nose to detects the shape of an incredible amount of different small molecules (usually some fatty acids, but lots of others too).

To create a realistic simulation of blueberry flavor you'll need to stimulate all the various receptors inside the nose that detects shapes present on the various volatile component found in blueblerries.
(Which is incidently what the food industry is also trying : find a few dead cheap stuff, that stimulates the nose in the right way to make you things you're tasting which has spent time growing on plant being taken care of, instead of tasting whatever was the cheapest compatible chemical)

In theory, there's no fundamental technological reason why it shouldn't work, given a sufficiently fine electrode matrix, that can pinpoint the various chemical receptors precisely enough (it's "just" an engineering problem).
(There's no new hidden tech to be discovered in doing it).

In practice, it's going to be extremely complex just to build and test the appropriate electrode array. It's going to cost a lot, not bring anything new to research, and not do anything that can't already be done much cheaper and simpler by blowing the correct dosage of small chemicals into the nose.

And over all, TFA is also a measure of the gullibility of the brain : giving a liquid that is more or less the correct colour (yellow. done by LEDs here or by adding color dyes in the industry) and vaguely stimulates the taste buds in the right way (salty acidic) and the person will be fooled into thinking that they are drinking lemonades made out of actual lemons.
(Which is incidently, again, what the food industry is doing, but with chemicals instead of electronics. Can't get the blueberry mix precise enough ? Well... add some deep blue/purple paint, make sure it's sweat and a bit acidic and you're goign to fool enough gullible customers. Some of them have never even seen an actual blue berry anyway, they won't notice).

Comment Head of Vecna (Score 5, Funny) 56

I guess this is slightly on-topic.

From Steve Jackson Games website....

Many years ago (back when we all were still playing D & D), I ran a game where I pitted two groups against each other.

Several members of Group One came up with the idea of luring Group Two into a trap. You remember the Hand of Vecna and the Eye of Vecna that were artifacts in the old D&D world where if you cut off your hand (or your eye) and replaced it with the Hand of Vecna (or the Eye) you'd get new awesome powers? Well, Group One thought up The Head of Vecna.

Group One spread rumors all over the countryside (even paying Bards to spread the word about this artifact rumored to exist nearby). They even went so far as to get a real head and place it under some weak traps to help with the illusion. Unfortunately, they forgot to let ALL the members of their group in on the secret plan (I suspect it was because they didn't want the Druid to get caught and tell the enemy about this trap of theirs, or maybe because they didn't want him messing with things).

The Druid in group One heard about this new artifact and went off in search of it himself (I believe to help prove himself to the party members...) Well, after much trial and tribulation, he found it; deactivated (or set off) all the traps; and took his "prize" off into the woods for examination. He discovered that it did not radiate magic (a well known trait of artifacts) and smiled gleefully.

I wasn't really worried since he was alone and I knew that there was no way he could CUT HIS OWN HEAD OFF. Alas I was mistaken as the Druid promptly summoned some carnivorous apes and instructed them to use his own scimitar and cut his head off (and of course quickly replacing it with the Head of Vecna...)

Some time later, Group one decided to find the Druid and to check on the trap. They found the headless body (and the two heads) and realized that they had erred in their plan (besides laughing at the character who had played the Druid)...The Head of Vecna still had BOTH eyes! They corrected this mistake and reset their traps and the Head for it's real intended victims...

Group Two, by this time, had heard of the powerful artifact and decided that it bore investigating since, if true, they could use it to destroy Group One. After much trial and tribulation, they found the resting place of The Head of Vecna! The were particularly impressed with the cunning traps surrounding the site (one almost missed his save against the weakest poison known to man). They recovered the Head and made off to a safe area.

Group Two actually CAME TO BLOWS (several rounds of fighting) against each other argueing over WHO WOULD GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF! Several greedy players had to be hurt and restrained before it was decided who would be the recipient of the great powers bestowed by the Head... The magician was selected and one of them promptly cut his head off. As the player was lifting The Head of Vecna to emplace it on it's new body, another argument broke out and they spent several minutes shouting and yelling. Then, finally, they put the Head onto the character.

Well, of course, the Head simply fell off the lifeless body. All members of Group Two began yelling and screaming at each other (and at me) and then, on their own, decided that they had let too much time pass between cutting off the head of a hopeful recipient and put the Head of Vecna onto the body.

SO THEY DID IT AGAIN!... [killing another PC]

In closing, it should be said that I never even cracked a smile as all this was going on. After the second PC was slaughtered, I had to give in (my side was hurting)...

And Group Two blamed ME for all of that...

Submission + - About 90% of Smart TVs Vulnerable To Remote Hacking Via Rogue TV Signals (

An anonymous reader writes: A new attack on smart TVs allows a malicious actor to take over devices using rogue DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting — Terrestrial) signals, get root access on the smart TV, and use the device for all sorts of nasty actions, ranging from DDoS attacks to spying on end users. The attack, developed by Rafael Scheel, a security researcher working for Swiss cyber security consulting company Oneconsult, is unique and much more dangerous than previous smart TV hacks. Scheel's method, which he recently presented at a security conference, is different because the attacker can execute it from a remote location, without user interaction, and runs in the TV's background processes, meaning users won't notice when an attacker compromises their TVs. The researcher told Bleeping Computer via email that he developed this technique without knowing about the CIA's Weeping Angel toolkit, which makes his work even more impressing. Furthermore, Scheel says that "about 90% of the TVs sold in the last years are potential victims of similar attacks," highlighting a major flaw in the infrastructure surrounding smart TVs all over the globe. At the center of Scheel's attack is Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV), an industry standard supported by most cable providers and smart TV makers that "harmonizes" classic broadcast, IPTV, and broadband delivery systems. TV transmission signal technologies like DVB-T, DVB-C, or IPTV all support HbbTV. Scheel says that anyone can set up a custom DVB-T transmitter with equipment priced between $50-$150, and start broadcasting a DVB-T signal.

Comment It also sucks your cap (Score 1) 205

[H*R's and Weebl's] solution was to put the toons on youtube for HTML5 compliance. It works, but it kills their easter eggs.

The size penalty of rendering the vectors to pixels also kills viewers' monthly download quotas.

Comment Re:But can it app apps? (Score 1) 205

and coding is annoying if I don't plug in an external keyboard.

I figured that much. But there are people in Slashdot's comment section who claim that a tablet with a USB or Bluetooth keyboard could replace most or all uses of those 10" laptops that were sold from 2008 to 2012, including lightweight programming.

Submission + - Flaws in Samsung's 'Smart' Home Let Hackers Unlock Doors and Set Off Fire Alarms (

TrustedLocksmithPeac writes: A SMOKE DETECTOR that sends you a text alert when your house is on fire seems like a good idea. An internet-connected door lock with a PIN that can be programmed from your smartphone sounds convenient, too. But when a piece of malware can trigger that fire alarm at four in the morning or unlock your front door for a stranger, your “smart home” suddenly seems pretty dumb.

Comment Re:Didn't they opt themselves out? (Score 1) 303

That's standard. Pretty much every law that's passed has a clause at the end exempting Congress from having to obey the law.

This is a bit different though. The browsing history of Congresscritters while in Congress may be exempted. But their home Internet connection falls under a local ISP's purvey, so their history could be harvested under the new law.

Comment Re:How? (Score 1) 303

The problem is most ISPs in the U.S. are government-granted monopolies. So there is no competition, no alternative ISP for people to switch to if they're upset that their ISP has decided to sell their browsing history. And without the pressure of outraged customers switching to a competitor, there's no reason other than principle for a company not to sell the data.

Comment Re:Still clinging to iPhone limitations (Score 1) 100

I'd prefer a thicker phone too (I had to add a case to my Nexus 5 to make it thicker because I kept dropping it). But I believe the reason Samsung got rid of the removable battery was because too many people were killing their phone in the water. The Galaxy S5 was waterproof and had a removable battery. But that required the back cover be removable with a big gasket around its edge. People weren't placing the cover on properly, so the gasket wouldn't seal and the phone would leak and die when placed underwater.

These people complained and demanded replacement phones, blaming Samsung's design for the problem instead of blaming their own failure to make sure the back cover was properly closed. So Samsung did the logical thing and eliminated the back cover as a failure point in their waterproofing.

Comment Re:Then what for vector animations now? (Score 1) 205

With ios and android the osk is fully automatic

Not always. At my day job, we have a Samsung tablet with a barcode scanner to scan EANs on product packaging and Code 128 barcodes on warehouse bins. But because Android sees it as a Bluetooth keyboard, it doesn't automatically pop up the on-screen keyboard when it becomes necessary to key in things that aren't barcodes.

Comment HTML5 killed Flash (Score 1) 205

The Apple fans will say Jobs and Apple did. But while Apple complained about Flash and threw temper tantrums over it, they never offered anything to replace it (at least not alone). HTML5 (along with Javascript and CSS) is what replaced Flash and kiled it.

The only reason Flash ever became a thing was because web designers were begging the W3C to add multimedia capability to the HTML spec. The W3C saw the web as a medium of information exchange (the way Berners-Lee originally envisioned it was a way for researchers to exchange journal articles they'd authored). They saw the requests for multimedia capability as the petty desires of advertisers and marketers. You see, photos and text you can scan and grok as quickly as you want in whatever screen format you want. Audio and video are limited to the speed and format that the creator sets. So the W3C saw adding multimedia capability to HTML as counter to the web's original design goal.

Then web designers discovered this little thing called Flash. It was an artist's tool for transmitting animation over slow Internet connections (here's a YouTube version if your browser doesn't support Flash anymore). Instead of retransmitting redundant information like video does, it transmits backgrounds, scalable vector graphics, and sprites just once, and lets you animate them with on the client side. That's all it was designed to do - help artists create animation. It was never designed to be a multimedia web platform.

But since the W3C refused to give web designers the hammer they asked for, the designers grabbed the closest thing they could find which resembled a hammer and started to hammer away with it. Flash began to be used for multimedia - animated websites, ads, and movies. That's why it was so full of security holes. The guys who wrote Flash never imagined it would become The Global Standard for creating multimedia websites. They thought they were just making a simple way for artists to create animation that could be transmitted over 56 kbps dialup lines, and didn't give any thought to security.

By the mid-2000s (long after the tech bubble), the problems with Flash were becoming clear. The W3C still refused to budge from their anti-multimedia stance, so the web browser developers themselves got together and began coordinating a way to add multimedia capability to HTML to help replace Flash. They came up with what eventually became HTML5 when the W3C finally relented. All this was going on years before Jobs wrote his "Thoughts on Flash" letter, but because those in the print media were widely ignorant of any of this, they mistakenly saw Jobs as the impetus behind the switchover. To repeat what I constantly seem to have to tell Apple fans, just because the first place you ever saw something was on an Apple product, does not mean Apple invented it. (Here's pinch to zoom in 1988!)

Outside of the whirlwind of controversy over web security, Flash continues to live on in its original intended design purpose, and rather successfully at that.

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