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Hack’n’play: 23 February 2015

Here’s the fourth hack’n’play post for you to enjoy! Read the first hack’n’play post to learn what this is about.

The links in these posts do not in any way reflect the opinion or endorsement of Jolla, indicate any kind of future or directions of Jolla products, except to summarise more or less interesting happenings in the industry, tools or websites.

Stratechery: Apple’s New Market
“I am always confused when discussions about integration and modularity are reduced to questions about who makes the operating system. After all, the idea of integration and modularity have traditionally been concerned with industrial production and supply chains. Henry Ford, for example, in order to meet demand for his Model T, vertically integrated to the point where the company owned rubber plantations in Brazil to provide the raw material for tires; General Motors in part upstaged Ford through a more modular approach that allowed for more customization and differing levels of quality.”

Aiming to Ease App Discovery, Apple Pairs With Pinterest
“There are more than 1.4 million mobile applications in Apple’s App Store. This is a good thing for Apple’s customers, because the choices are practically endless. This is also a bad thing for Apple’s customers, because the choices are practically endless.”

Book: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
“Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways.”

Google Is Shutting Down Google Helpouts, Its Expert Video Chat Service
“The idea with Helpouts has been to leverage Google’s identity tools, payment technologies and online video service in order to provide web users with both free and paid advice and support sessions covering a range of topics. Today, the Helpouts website continues to work, offering sessions on topics like Photography, Parenting, Fashion and Beauty, Cooking and much more. Unfortunately for Google, much of this sort of advice is already available for free on its other video site, YouTube”

PowerSpy: Location Tracking using Mobile Device Power Analysis
“Modern mobile platforms like Android enable applications to read aggregate power usage on the phone. This information is considered harmless and reading it requires no user permission or notification. We show that by simply reading the phone’s aggregate power consumption over a period of a few minutes an application can learn information about the user’s location. Aggregate phone power consumption data is extremely noisy due to the multitude of components and applications simultaneously consuming power. Nevertheless, we show that by using machine learning techniques, the phone’s location can be inferred. We discuss several ways in which this privacy leak can be remedied.”

Worried Sick
“Expectations can make you ill. Fear can make you fragile. Understanding the nocebo effect may help prevent this painful phenomenon.”

WSJ: Apple cut watch health features due to erratic sensors
“Apple apparently wanted its smartwatches to focus heavily on health-related features, but the company was forced to changed direction mid-development. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company originally envisioned a device that can monitor heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels (based on the conductivity of the skin). Unfortunately, the sensors they tested just didn’t pass muster, which isn’t entirely surprising, since we’ve reviewed plenty of wearables with patchy heart rate monitors in the past. The company’s engineers found that hairy arms, dry skin and even how tightly the watch is worn can affect the results, and they didn’t find a solution in time.”

Another Cute Measurement Equipment
“The proposed solution comes as an extension for the BeagleBone Black (the ACME Cape), designed to provide multi-channel power and temperature measurements capabilities to the BeagleBone Black (BBB). It comes with power and temperature probes integrating a power switch (the ACME Probes), turning it into an advanced all-in-one power/temperature measurement solution.”

Book: The Internet is Not the Answer
“Informed by Keen’s own research and interviews, as well as the work of other writers, reporters and academics, The Internet is Not the Answer is an urgent investigation into the tech world – from the threat to privacy posed by social media and online surveillance by government agencies, to the impact of the Internet on unemployment and economic inequality.”

We Need to Break the Mobile Duopoly. We Need a 3rd Mobile OS
“We already know that there are two dominant mobile operating systems out there. But the current situation doesn’t really allow anyone to experiment, not without going through the interests and lenses of the two dominant players — Apple and Google.”

Deep Speech: Scaling up end-to-end speech recognition
“We present a state-of-the-art speech recognition system developed using end-to-end deep learning. Our architecture is significantly simpler than traditional speech systems, which rely on laboriously engineered processing pipelines; these traditional systems also tend to perform poorly when used in noisy environments. In contrast, our system does not need hand-designed components to model background noise, reverberation, or speaker variation, but instead directly learns a function that is robust to such effects. We do not need a phoneme dictionary, nor even the concept of a “phoneme.” Key to our approach is a well-optimized RNN training system that uses multiple GPUs, as well as a set of novel data synthesis techniques that allow us to efficiently obtain a large amount of varied data for training. Our system, called Deep Speech, outperforms previously published results on the widely studied Switchboard Hub5’00, achieving 16.0% error on the full test set. Deep Speech also handles challenging noisy environments better than widely used, state-of-the-art commercial speech systems.”

How to Develop the Situational Awareness of Jason Bourne
“There’s a scene at the beginning of The Bourne Identity where the film’s protagonist is sitting in a diner, trying to figure out who he is and why he has a bunch of passports and a gun stashed in a safety deposit box. Bourne also notices that he, well, notices things that other people don’t.”

Sony SmartEyeglass Developer Edition
“Imagine true augmented reality. Imagine a world of knowledge in front of your eyes. Imagine never not knowing, always having your hands free. Imagine SmartEyeglass. SmartEyeglass includes unique holographic waveguide technology, which enables super thin augmented reality lenses with high transparency and excellent brightness.”

Corning says its upcoming glass ‘approaches’ sapphire in scratch resistance
“A few months ago, Corning unveiled the latest revision of its signature Gorilla Glass. Yet again, the company claimed to have produced a stronger glass that’s more resistant to common drops and accidents that your smartphone can experience in everyday use. Since it’s still so new, only a tiny list of manufacturers (including Samsung) are using Gorilla Glass 4 at this point, but Corning is already looking ahead to what’s next. Today, as reported by CNET, the company announced Project Phire, a new product that promises to combine Gorilla Glass 4’s damage resistance with “scratch resistance that approaches sapphire.””

Surrounded by sound: how 3D audio hacks your brain
“On a crisp afternoon late last year, I made my way to Manhattan’s Upper East Side to meet Edgar Choueiri, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University. Choueiri also heads the school’s 3D Audio and Applied Acoustics lab, and over the last decade, he has dedicated his time to the development, application, and refinement of binaural recording systems — a century-old method of audio recording that captures lifelike 3D audio in picture-perfect fidelity.”

This Search Engine Wants More Human Input
“Does the ever-increasing volume of digital information demand a more powerful search interface? One that allows for more complex queries to be formulated, and supports instances where the information being sought out is not necessarily something the user is aware of when they begin tapping on the keyboard?”

Duckspeak Vs Smalltalk: The Decline of the Xerox PARC Philosophy at Apple Computers
“But the story of the tensions and synergies between visionaries and businessmen elides a few interesting details about what was going on, and why, at Xerox PARC at the time. Gladwell’s version of history features a nimble entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, capitalizing on an idea the value of which a monolithic company, Xerox, can’t see. But the story of Apple and Xerox PARC is also that of a design philosophy meant to empower people diverging into one meant to entertain them or to sell them things.”

Got sick kids? Take their temp with Wishbone and your phone
“With both of my kids now in high school, it’s been a long time since the days of taking a crying baby’s temperature. I still remember it though, trying — and generally failing — to get a squirming, cranky child to hold still while trying to use an in-ear or oral thermometer. There’s no need for any of that with the Wishbone, a smart thermometer that can scan for a body temp in just a few seconds.”

The gig economy won’t last because it’s being sued to death
“If Uber, Lyft, and others don’t stop relying on contract workers, business could crumble. Is it time for a new definition of employee?”

ELC 2014 presentations
“Here are the presentations from ELC 2014. Some videos are available, courtesy of the fine folks at Free Electrons, Frank Rowand and Tim Bird of Sony Mobile Communications”. Several interesting talks there, such as SailfishOS relevant like “The #qt/#wayland/#systemd/#btrfs-phone….the Jolla Phone” and “Productizing Telephony and Audio in a GNU/Linux (Sailfish OS) Smartphone”


Carsten Munk

Carsten Munk

Chief Research Engineer at Jolla. Works with all sorts of strange things to bring you future SailfishOS devices and innovation for them. Passionate about open source and transparency in development.

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