"android" entries

Upward Mobility: Predictions for 2014

All predictions are for entertainment purposes only!

It is a generally accepted requirement that all technology pundits attempt a yearly prognostication of the coming 12 months. Having consulted my crystal ball, scryed the entrails of a falcon, and completed a 3 day fasting ritual in a sweat lodge set up inside a Best Buy, I will now tempt the Gods of Hubris and make my guesses for the year in mobile.

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The Snapchat Leak

4.6 million phone numbers, is one of them yours?

The number of Snapchat users by area code.

The number of Snapchat users by geographic location. Users are predominately located in New York, San Francisco and the surrounding greater New York and Bay Areas.

While the site crumbled quickly under the weight of so many people trying to get to the leaked data—and has now been suspended—there isn’t really such a thing as putting the genie back in the bottle on the Internet.

Just before Christmas the Australian based Gibson Security published a report highlighting two exploits in the Snapchat API claiming that hackers could easily gain access to users’ personal data. Snapchat dismissed the report, responding that,

Theoretically, if someone were able to upload a huge set of phone numbers, like every number in an area code, or every possible number in the U.S., they could create a database of the results and match usernames to phone numbers that way.

Adding that they had various “safeguards” in place to make it difficult to do that. However it seems likely that—despite being explicitly mentioned in the initial report four months previously—none of these safeguards included rate limiting requests to their server, because someone seems to have taken them up on their offer.

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Update Mobility: The Year in Mobile

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

As the end of December approaches, it’s time to take a look at the year that was. In a lot of ways, 2013 was a status quo year for mobile, with nothing earthshaking to report, just a steady progression of what already is getting more, um, is-y?

We started the year with Apple on top in the tablet space, Android on top in the handset space, and that’s how we ended the year. Microsoft appears to have abandoned the handset space after a decade of attempts to take market-share, and made their move on the tablet space instead with the Surface. In spite of expensive choreographer board room commercials, the Surface didn’t make a huge dent in Apple’s iPad dominance. But Microsoft did better than Blackberry, whose frantic flailing in the market has come to represent nothing so much as a fish out of water.

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Four short links: 5 December 2013

Four short links: 5 December 2013

R GUI, Drone Regulations, Bitcoin Stats, and Android/iOS Money Shootout

  1. DeducerAn R Graphical User Interface (GUI) for Everyone.
  2. Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap (PDF, FAA) — first pass at regulatory framework for drones. (via Anil Dash)
  3. Bitcoin Stats — $21MM traded, $15MM of electricity spent mining. Goodness. (via Steve Klabnik)
  4. iOS vs Android Numbers (Luke Wroblewski) — roundup comparing Android to iOS in recent commerce writeups. More Android handsets, but less revenue per download/impression/etc.
Comment: 1

WORA Can Be Better Than Native

Targeting the highest common denominator

Some would claim that native is the best approach, but that looks at existing WORA tools/communities, which mostly target cost saving. In fact, even native Android/iOS tools produce rather bad results without deep platform familiarity. Native is very difficult to properly maintain in the real world and this is easily noticeable by inspecting the difficulties we have with the ports of Codename One, this problem is getting worse rather better as platforms evolve and fragment. E.g. Some devices crash when you take more than one photo in a row, some devices have complex issues with http headers, and many have issues when editing text fields in the “wrong position”.

There are workarounds for everything, but you need to do extensive testing to become aware of the problem in the first place. WORA solutions bring all the workarounds and the “ugly” code into their porting layer, allowing developers to focus on their business logic. This is similar to Spring/Java EE approaches that addressed complexities of application server fragmentation.

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Comments: 2

Upward Mobility: Microsoft’s Patent Arsenal Is Full of Blanks

Why innovate in the product space, when you can leech money instead?

It is with some amusement that your humble servant read this week of Microsoft’s lucrative business licensing their patents to Android handset makers. How lucrative? Evidently, over two billion dollars a year, five times their revenue from actual mobile products that the company produces. What is harder to discover, unless you do a lot of digging, is what the Android vendors are actually licensing. You have to dig back into the original suit between Microsoft and Motorola to find a list of patents, although they may have added to their portfolio since then through further acquisitions. The thing is that, unlike many parts of the software industry, the cellular portion actually has some valid patents lurking around. Cell phones have radios in them, and there are continual improvements in the protocols and technologies used to make data move faster. As a result, it is a perfectly reasonable assumption to make that Microsoft has acquired some of these cellular patents, and is using them as a revenue stream. Unfortunately, a look at the Motorola suit patent list tells a different story. Read more…

Four short links: 8 November 2013

Four short links: 8 November 2013

Android Crypto, Behaviour Trees, Complexity Cheatsheet, and Open Source Game Theory

  1. An Empirical Study of Cryptographic Misuse in Android Applications (PDF) We develop program analysis techniques to automatically check programs on the Google Play marketplace, that 10,327 out of 11,748 applications that use cryptographic APIs (88% overall) make at least one mistake.
  2. Introduction to Behaviour Trees — DAGs with codey nodes. Behavior trees replace the often intangible growing mess of state transitions of finite state machines (FSMs) with a more restrictive but also more structured traversal defining approach.
  3. P vs NP Cheat Sheetthe space and time Big-O complexities of common algorithms used in Computer Science.
  4. Game Theory and Network Effects in Open Sourcedelicate balance of incentives go into the decision for companies to Open Source or close source their software in the midst of discussions of Nash Equilibria. Enjoy.
Comments: 5
Four short links: 4 November 2013

Four short links: 4 November 2013

Glass Games, Dopplr Design, Free Android, and Shameful Security

  1. A Game Designer’s Guide to Google Glass (Gamasutra) — nice insight that Glass is shovelware-resistant because input is so different and output so limited. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. Be Polite, Pertinent, and Pretty (Slideshare) — design principles from Dopplr. (via Matt Jones’s memorial to Dopplr)
  3. Replicant — free software Android. (via Wired)
  4. Femme Fatale Dupes IT Guys at Government Agency (Sophos) — story of how a fake LinkedIn profile for a pretty woman reflects as poorly on security practice as on gender politics.
Four short links: 30 October 2013

Four short links: 30 October 2013

Offline Javascript, Android Coding, Stats Fails, and Stream Data

  1. Offline.js — Javascript library so web app developers can gracefully deal with users going offline.
  2. Android Guideslots of info on coding for Android.
  3. Statistics Done Wrong — learn from these failure modes. Not medians or means. Modes.
  4. Streaming, Sketching, and Sufficient Statistics (YouTube) — how to process huge data sets as they stream past your CPU (e.g., those produced by sensors). (via Ben Lorica)
Four short links: 21 October 2013

Four short links: 21 October 2013

Android Control, Privacy Eluded, Design Challenges, and "Watson, What's This Lump?"

  1. Google’s Iron Grip on Android (Ars Technica) — While Google will never go the entire way and completely close Android, the company seems to be doing everything it can to give itself leverage over the existing open source project. And the company’s main method here is to bring more and more apps under the closed source “Google” umbrella.
  2. How to Live Without Being Tracked (Fast Company) — this seems appropriate: she assumes that every phone call she makes and every email she sends will be searchable by the general public at some point in the future. Full of surprises, like To identify tires, which can come in handy if they’re recalled, tire manufacturers insert an RFID tag with a unique code that can be read from about 20 feet away by an RFID reader..
  3. method.acComplete 50 challenges. Each challenge is a small, design related task. They cover theory and practice of one specific design subject. Challenges are progressively more difficult, and completing them gives you access to more intricate challenges.
  4. IBM Watson’s Cancer Moonshot (Venture Beat) — IBM is ready to make a big a bet on Watson, as it did in the 1970s when it invested in the emergence of the mainframe. Watson heralds the emergence of “thinking machines,” which learn by doing and already trump today’s knowledge retrieval machines. I for one welcome the opportunity to be a false negative.