App Store Commoditization

Making money in a crowded App Store: it’s dog eat dog and Spy vs Spy by Richard Gaywood laments what everyone knows: Apps and especially games on Apple’s iTunes generally cannot cost more than 99 cents. Price them higher, and customers will just wait for the inevitable price drop they have been trained to expect. … Continue reading “App Store Commoditization”

Comment Spam and Other Annoyances

If you’re running a weblog you have no doubt seen thousands of nonsensical comments (hopefully caught by filtering) whose sole purpose is to put a spam link in the sender address. Greg Stevens’ enlightening article Revealed: the grubby world of comment spam describes GScraper, a commercial program that automates their creation. You type in some … Continue reading “Comment Spam and Other Annoyances”

Reviews for Sale

Self-published writers proliferate, thanks to the Internet, but they face one big problem: How do you attract readers’ interest without a big publisher’s name recognition and marketing budget? David Streitfeld’s The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy examines the simplest though least ethical solution. Nobody expects online reviews to be a fountain of truth, but … Continue reading “Reviews for Sale”

The Internet Archive

Matt Simon’s recent article Alexandria 2.0 traces the history of the Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine, vast public data repositories established by millionaire Brewster Kahle. The non-profit organization maintains mirror servers in San Francisco and Alexandria, and accepts donations of both money and all forms of content. Its goal is to make as much … Continue reading “The Internet Archive”

WinRT vs C# Overload Resolution

Browsing the Application Compatibility notes for the new .NET Framework 4.5, I noticed a very odd entry concerning Math.Ceiling and Math.Floor: Change: When you use .NET for Windows Store apps, C# may have difficulty with overload resolution when the Math.Ceiling or Math.Floor method is passed an integer. Impact: Source code may not compile successfully, or … Continue reading “WinRT vs C# Overload Resolution”

The Lack of Flying Cars

David Graeber’s essay Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit opens with a complaint that should resonate with all science fiction fans: Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any … Continue reading “The Lack of Flying Cars”

Search with DuckDuckGo

Tired of Google’s global tracking & filtering empire? The fledgling search engine DuckDuckGo aggregates results from Microsoft Bing and other non-Google sources, but more importantly does not store or transmit any personal data, including your search terms. At your next search DuckDuckGo won’t know what you have searched for last time, nor will it tell … Continue reading “Search with DuckDuckGo”

Content Creation Without Publishers

For the longest time, spreading writing and music was a slow and expensive process. Writing had to be duplicated by clerks; music and other performance art had to be transmitted in person or in writing. Authors required generous patronage or considerable fame to enjoy widespread reproduction of their works, and usually derived no income from … Continue reading “Content Creation Without Publishers”

Hacking the Cloud

As cracking passwords and encryption by technical means is getting harder, the employees in charge of security become the weakest links in the chain. Social engineering hacks use a combination of publicly available data and expert bluffing to tweak confidential data out of customer service personnel. “Are you the LOD today?” contestant J.C. asked as … Continue reading “Hacking the Cloud”

Ubiquitous Robot Surveillance

Charlie Stross’s recent speech How low (power) can you go? is a fascinating and terrifying glimpse into a future where tiny computerized sensors have become ubiquitous thanks to ever-greater circuit density (Moore’s Law) and energy efficiency (Koomey’s Law). Stross performs back-of-the-envelope calculations for all his projections to ensure they are somewhat realistic, but in the … Continue reading “Ubiquitous Robot Surveillance”