- Software in 2014 (Tim Bray) — a good state of the world, much of which I agree with. Client-side: Things are bad. You have to build everything three times: Web, iOS, Android. We’re talent-starved, this is egregious waste, and it’s really hurting us.
- Making Systems That Don’t Suck (Dominus) — every software engineer should have to read this. Every one.
- IBM Struggles to Turn Watson Into Big Business (WSJ) — cognition services harder to onboard than seemed. It smells suspiciously like expert systems from the 1980s, but with more complex analytics on the inside. Analytic skill isn’t the problem for these applications, though, it’s the pain of getting domain knowledge into the system in the first place. This is where G’s web crawl and massive structured general knowledge is going to be a key accelerant.
- Reading This May Harm Your Computer (SSRN) — Internet users face large numbers of security warnings, which they mostly ignore. To improve risk communication, warnings must be fewer but better. We report an experiment on whether compliance can be increased by using some of the social-psychological techniques the scammers themselves use, namely appeal to authority, social compliance, concrete threats and vague threats. We also investigated whether users turned off browser malware warnings (or would have, had they known how).
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.
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.
Here's a couple of Big Questions that may take generations to answer
I spend a lot of time on this blog focused on the very short term issues regarding mobile. Is Apple better than Android. Will Blackberry survive? What’s the best strategy in Candy Crush? But sometimes you need to pull up to 30,000 feet and look at some of the bigger questions, such as:
What are the real long-term health effects of cell-phones? Wearable mobile technology has only been around for a few decades, and in true widespread use for less than 10. Are there health risks to having an RF transmitter that close to your head for long periods of time? More importantly, are there effects on offspring to carrying a two watt transmitter in close proximity to your reproductive organs for 18 hours a day? This is even more significant for women, where the effect would be cumulative from birth, since eggs are carried for a woman’s entire lifetime. Short term studies have shown mixed results, but lifetime exposure hazards are hard to gauge when the technology itself is so new. We really didn’t understand the cost to society of lead in our gasoline until half-a-century after its introduction. A decade of data on cell phones is unlikely to hold all the answers to the scope of the potential problems.
R GUI, Drone Regulations, Bitcoin Stats, and Android/iOS Money Shootout
- Deducer — An R Graphical User Interface (GUI) for Everyone.
- 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)
- Bitcoin Stats — $21MM traded, $15MM of electricity spent mining. Goodness. (via Steve Klabnik)
- 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.
Brace yourself: Address exhaustion is coming
IPv6 is the global warming of the computer industry, an impending disaster that most folks don’t seem to be taking as seriously as they should be. We’re well into the exhaustion phase of the IPv4 address space, but most ISPs are still dragging their heels on supplying the wider protocol to the end user.
Recognising Hand Gestures, Drone Conference, Stubbornly Open Codes, and Remote Mobile Display
- An Interactive Machine Learning System for Recognizing Hand Gestures (Greg Borenstein) — a mixed-initiative interactive machine learning system for recognizing hand gestures. It attempts to give the user visibility into the classifier’s prediction confidence and control of the conditions under which the system actively requests labeled gestures when its predictions are uncertain. (an exercise for his MIT class)
- First Drone Conference Takes Off (Makezine) — forgive them the puns, Lord, for they know not what they do … uble intendre. Write-up fascinating beyond the headline. Dr. Vijay Kumar of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering spoke about socially positive uses for aerial robotics, such as emergency first responders. Dr. Kumar’s work focuses on micro aerial vehicles. He explains that, “size does matter.” As robots get smaller, mass and inertial is reduced. If you halve the mass, the acceleration doubles and the angular acceleration quadruples. This makes for a robot that is fast and responsive, ideal for operating indoors or out, and perfect for search and rescue missions in collapsed buildings or around other hazards.
- Standing Up to Mississippi (Carl Malamud) — yesterday we received a Certified Letter from the Attorney General’s Special Assistant Attorney General demanding that we remove these materials from the Internet and all other electronic or non-electronic media. There was no email address, so I proceeded to prepare a 67-page return reply with Exhibits A-L. I thought folks might be interested in the 7 steps of the production process. Give to his Kickstarter project, folks!
- Open Project (PDF) — A lightweight framework for remote sharing of mobile applications. Sounds like malware but is Google Research project.
Velocity 2013 Speaker Series: A Sneak Peek With WebPagetest and Appurify
Now that more companies have basic mobile strategies in place, they are turning their attention to the issue of performance.
Mobile developers are thinking about how fast their apps and mobile webpages load and—more importantly—what they can do to make them faster. Consumers have little patience for slow loading apps and their expectations are only going to get more stringent. This expectation likely contributed to Apple making changes so that apps on iOS 7 load 11% faster than on iOS 6.
The challenge is that measuring performance for mobile is not as easy as it is for web. Many of us have used tools like WebPagetest to assess website performance across different browsers/locations and pinpoint areas for improvement but fully functional, equivalent tools don’t exist yet for the mobile space.
This has left mobile developers ill equipped to create the highest-performing mobile apps and websites.
Thanks NSA, you've spoiled mobile crowdsourcing for everyone else!
The continual drip-drip-drop of NSA secrets, courtesy of Monsieur Snowden, has provided many of us with a new piece of daily entertainment. But as much fun as it can be to see No Such Agency’s dirty laundry being aired in public, it has a real and lasting affect on how consumers are going to see interacting with their mobile devices. Specifically, it could provide a major setback to the new universe of applications that use crowdsourced data.
There are lots of examples of highly successful apps that are essentially just aggregations of user-provided data. Yelp comes to mind immediately, but another good example is Waze. In both cases, users are providing the service with some fairly private information, where and when they were at a particular location. Waze is even more sensitive, because it is also recording your speed, which might be a bit higher than the posted limits.