Everything I have read about the Apple Watch looks nice. But there's a killer drawback:
I like to wear my watch all the time, including at night and while swimming.
Everything I have read about the Apple Watch looks nice. But there's a killer drawback:
I like to wear my watch all the time, including at night and while swimming.
For some inane reason, Facebook still uses Bing as its default translater. When someone, in my case typically a former student, writes something in a foreign (by which I mean non-English) language, I am given the option to click on "translate" and Facebook gives me a truly horrid, unintelligible Bing translation. Most of the time I have no idea what the translation means, and most of the time I am too lazy to copy and paste the posting into a Google translater.
One thing about Google is that the programmers use adaptive techniques. They are constantly improving their search engine and their translater. So when you put something from a non-English language into their translater, you get a reasonable translation from Google. Google constantly improves itself, which is why it has been so successful.
Bing, however, seems to have a zero or really bad adaptive mechanism. The translations Bing offers are just as bad today as they were a year or two ago. They do not seem to care that the translations make no sense and are of no value to Facebook readers.
I'm surprised that Bing hasn't gotten better. I'm at least as surprised that Facebook hasn't dumped Bing for the Google translator.
I'd never heard of it until about a week ago, but it is clear from this article [via Jack] that I suffer from nomophobia.
Brought about by such triggers as a lost phone, poor reception, interrupted coverage, dead batteries, or lack of account credit, the condition — known as nomophobia — is characterized by the disproportionate “discomfort, anxiety, nervousness, or anguish caused by being out of contact with a mobile phone or computer,” ...
“Generally speaking, [nomophobia] is the pathological fear of remaining out of touch with technology,”....
Like internet addiction, it is a modern malady, arising from changes the mobile phone has made to human habits, behaviours, identity, and “common ways of perceiving reality.”
Sure, I'm addicted to the internet. I have been for decades. In fact, one reason I put off getting a smartphone several years ago was that I knew I would be on it a lot of the time. My signs of nomophobia:
Google often has fun with its various maps. I recall some directions that suggested swimming to Japan or jetskiing to China. But check this out [via MA]:
Travelling from the Brecon Beacons to Snowdon in Wales would take 21 minutes by dragon.
Riding Nessie between Fort Augustus and Urquhart Castle, which sit on Loch Ness in Inverness, Scotland, would take 28 minutes - four minutes faster than taking the bus.
Punting between Magdalene College and Mathematical Bridge in Cambridge takes 45 minutes, versus 18 minutes on the UNI4 bus.
While Magdalen College to Wolfson College on a punt in Oxford, weaving around the River Cherwell, takes 1 hour 32 minutes.
And it takes 1 hour 16 minutes to travel along the M4 between Windsor Castle, and Buckingham Palace.
Dragon travel is shown on this map:
Wow, the computer/cyber criminals are really sophisticated and nasty. The distributed denial of service attacks on Typepad have been horrendous. And now Ebay has been hacked.
eBay's morning just went from bad to worse. The e-commerce site confirmed Wednesday that its corporate network was hacked and a database with users' passwords was compromised. While eBay says there is no evidence that users' financial information was accessed in the hack, the company is telling all users to change their passwords.
I haven't used ebay much in the past few years, but I did go to their site and change my password (which, I might add, was different from all my other passwords).
I find that when I'm on a plane or train, my noice-cancelling headphones are a wonder. Even if I don't listen to any music or podcasts, the noise canceling dramatically reduces my discomfort and maybe even reduces stress levels.
Here is another reason to wear them [via MA]. They will likely make the food taste better.
[S]eparate research revealed the sort of noise we are subjected to inside aircraft cabin affects taste buds, reducing our sense of saltiness and sweetness - and increasing crunchiness.
To test the theory, 48 diners were blindfolded and fed sweet foods such as biscuits or salty ones such as crisps, while listening to silence or noise through headphones at Unilever's laboratories and the University of Manchester.
Each volunteer rated the foods for flavour and said how much they liked them.
Background noise led to the foods being rated less salty or sweet. They were also perceived as more crunchy.
I'm not at all sure I believe this. And I'll grant that carrying over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones is just another thing to worry about on an airplane. But often the bother is worth the effort.
Apple seems to be betting that the nominal price elasticity of demand for the iPhone6 will be even less than it was for the initial offerings of the iPhone 5C and 5S. Or so it seems. There are rumours the price will be $100 higher for the new version of the iPhone when it becomes available in the fall. From Slate:
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek says, “Our checks indicate Apple has started negotiating with carriers on a $100 iPhone 6 price increase. ....
There are two ways to look at this if you’re Apple.
On the one hand, an internal presentation from Apple last year showed that people around the world want cheaper phones with bigger screens. This suggests it needs to cut the price and bump screen size.
However, Apple believes it’s not really susceptible to the pricing pressure of Android phone-makers. The iPad, for example, was originally going to sell for $400, but Apple figured people would pay $100 more, and it was right.
If, in fact, market conditions have changed such that customers who want a new iPhone really want one (even more than customers really wanted the earlier versions), then it will be a profitable move for Apple charge more for their new iPhones.
Econo-geek speak: If they are right, the intersection of the MR and MC curves will occur at a lower q/t, but their revenues will rise and their total costs might even decline. The implication is that Apple is guessing that if they price the iPhone6 the same way they priced the 5s, they would be in or mighty close to the inelastic portion of the demand curve [granting truckloads of assumptions].
This is not from The Onion or other similar sites. [via Jack]
I can imagine many thoughts, feelings, comments. I'll abstain.
Canada Revenue Agency has shut down public access to its tax-filing data amid reports of a major security flaw in a commonly used code for login services. ...
Ms Eclectic and I both received the following email from a friend this morning. We'd read about this scam, so we didn't believe it:
Sorry to bother you this time but this seems to me more than a dreadful ill-luck for me and my family.I am in Simferopol (UKRAINE) right now for a short vacation and unfortunately i ran out of cash, i have tried to access my credit card from the cash machines here but it keeps saying network errors.
I also tried to withdraw funds from my own bank account here but the lady at the paid desk informed me that i can't withdraw from my account here in a foreign country,wondering if i could get a quick loan of ($2,550 USD) from you to clear some little things here and also take a cab to the airport i promise to refund it as soon as i get back home later this week.
I anticipate your response .
It is addressed as it came from her firstname.lastname@example.org, but when you click on reply, it goes to an account at yahoo with a slight misspelling of her name.
If you receive something like this, write separately (i.e. do not click "reply") to check with your friend and let them know about the scam.
I don't ordinarily post or link to YouTube videos anywhere: not here, in email, or on Facebook. Yet this is the second one I've posted to the blog today. And (horrors) I don't always Rick Mercer's humour.
But this video is hilarious and worth the minute and a half it takes to watch it. It very clearly explains why, beginning in late February or early March, Environment Canada always says the temperature will rise above freezing to +1C on the 7th day of the seven-day forecast [via RedHen and MsEclectic].
I love the line that "Pretty much everything beyond five days is like throwing darts." That line reveals a clear, intuitive understanding of confidence intervals. See this, for example (including the comments!):
It looks as if the prices of micro SD cards are falling precipitously ... again. About a year ago I bought a Class 10 (i.e. pretty fast) 64gb micro SD card for about $70, but look at these prices from Amazon.com. Wow!
At least those were the prices when I looked. And the links are fixed now (I hope).
Addendum: Of course the prices at Amazon.ca are around $50 or so. :-(
According to surveys reported in The Atlantic, 23% of the surveyed adults in the US did not read a single book last year.
Without question, the American bookworm is a rarer species than two or three decades ago, when we didn't enjoy today's abundance of highly distracting gadgets. In 1978, Gallup found that 42 percent of adults had read 11 books or more in the past year (13 percent said they'd read more than 50!). Today, Pew finds that just 28 percent hit the 11 mark.
The article tries to downplay the influence of TV and the internet, but I don't see why. I know many, many young adults who don't read books. They read a lot, online, but they don't read books. Alas, in some instances, not even their assigned textbooks.
And given the wealth of material available for information and entertainment (and, yes, education) via other media, I will be surprised if the number who read books doesn't continue to decline.
There are rumours, possibly in the long-shot category, that Apple will finally be bringing out a phablet: a smartphone that is larger than any they currently produce but smaller than even the iPad mini. In other words, one suspects that competition in the smartphone market from Nexus/Google, LG, and Samsung, all of whom produce larger phones than the iPhone, is sufficiently eroding Apple's sales that Apple has to acknowledge (and produce for) this sizeable niche in the market. From the Christian Science Monitor:
[A]ccording to the Chinese news site Huanqiu, Apple is at work on its first-ever phablet – a handheld device that splits the difference between a small tablet and a large smart phone. Huanqiu (big hat tip to the team at BGR) alleges that the Apple phablets would debut in May, months before the launch of the next iPhone, and would feature an A8 processor and a 5-inch-plus display. (For comparison's sake, the iPhone 5S has a 4-inch display, while the iPad Mini, the smallest Apple tablet, has a 7.9-inch display.)
...Especially in Asia, where the phablet market is up 600 percent from the same time last year, plus-sized smart phones are incredibly popular. A range of companies, from Asus to Nokia, offer phablets. Bob O’Donnell, the founder of Technalysis Research, recently estimated, in an interview with Forbes, that 175 million phablets will be sold worldwide in 2014.
That's the kind of demand, presumably, that Apple would like to exploit. ....
I have not had my smartphone stolen, but I know several people who have.
In one case, the person was walking in a European city with his suitcase in one hand, holding his phone in the other hand texting with his thumb (i.e., he did not have a tight grip on the phone). Someone just ran by and grabbed it. My friend couldn't run fast while carrying his suitcase, and he didn't want to set the suitcase down to chase the thief.
In another case, someone left her smartphone on a school desk. She wandered away, and when she returned, it was gone.
Here is one other relevant incident not involving smartphone theft: The only time I have ever been pick-pocketed was in Madrid. In preparation for traveling there, I had read warnings about pickpockets, and so I had my passport and wallet in my front pockets and had my hands on top of them. But while I was in a crowded market, someone stole my transit pass from my rear pocket.
These three incidents all highlight the advice in this article [via MA]:
One of the best ways to prevent smartphone theft is to keep an alert hand on the device at all times. Don't loosely hold your smartphone as you lollygag down the sidewalk. Keep a firm grip and keep it close to your body. Better yet, leave it concealed in an interior pocket.
I don't always follow this advice. Often, while returning from theatre or music rehearsals late at night, I walk through one of the dodgier parts of downtown, texting or checking my email. I do keep a firm grip on the phone, I don't "lollygag down this sidewalk" at those times, and I tend to put it in a front pocket at times when I feel wary of my surroundings, but I could probably use more care in those situations.
But here is some additional good advice about things to do now, before the phone is stolen:
In case of theft, you'll want to know your smartphone's serial number and model number. Both are usually listed under the "settings" tab or imprinted on the back of the device. Importantly, smartphones also have a unique device identification number, known as an International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI).
The IMEI is a 15- to 17-digit numerical code assigned to each smartphone by manufacturers. It allows carriers to remotely disable your smartphone when you contact them [source: MPDC].
The carrier can also enter your smartphone's IMEI into a national database that tracks stolen smartphones. All major carriers in the U.S. participate in this database, as do a few international carriers. This database feeds into the Global System for Mobile (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service networks [source: Rouse].
To learn your smartphone's IMEI, dial *#06# and the number will appear on the screen. If your phone is an older model, this may not work. However, you can also turn your phone off, remove the battery and record the IMEI under the label. Be sure to keep the information in a different location than your smartphone [source: Wollan].
You should also install a tracking app. For iPhones, you can try Apple's Find My iPhone. Or, if you have iOS 7 installed on your iPhone, you can remotely launch Activation Lock if your phone is stolen. This technology prevents thieves from erasing your phone's data or disabling location apps. It also prevents thieves from restoring or reactivating your smartphone [source: Friedman]. For Android smartphones, there are several third-party apps including Where's My Droid and Lookout [source: Wollan].
If your smart phone is stolen, call the police and give them the serial and IMEI numbers and any locations identified by your phone's tracking app.
Cryptolocker. Stiff punishment is called for. From the BBC (via Jack):
A virulent form of ransomware has now infected about quarter of a million Windows computers, according to a report by security researchers.
Cryptolocker scrambles users' data and then demands a fee to unencrypt it alongside a countdown clock. ...
Dell suggested PCs be blocked from communicating with the hundreds of domains names it had flagged as being linked to the spread of Cryptolocker, and it suggested five further steps the public and businesses could take to protect themselves:
- Install software that blocks executable fields and compressed archives before they reach email inboxes
- Check permissions assigned to shared network drives to limit the number of people who can make modifications
- Regularly back-up data to offline storage such as Blu-ray and DVD-Rom disks. Network-attached drives and cloud storage does not count as Cryptolocker can access and encrypt files stored there
- Set each PC's software management tools to prevent Cryptolocker and other suspect programs from accessing certain critical directories
- Set the computer's Group Policy Objects to restrict registry keys - databases containing settings - used by Cryptolocker so that the malware is unable to begin the encryption process
No, I haven't been hit by it. Things like this really make me angry though.
By now most of you have seen the WestJet Christmas Miracle video. It involved marvelous planning and was a great promotion on their part. If you haven't seen it, go here and read about it and watch it either at that link or in the youtube video below. It looks as if the folks at WestJet had a ball planning and carrying out the surprise.
After you have watched the video once or twice, then watch the video about why and how they did it (it's a lot of PR fluff, but has some things of interest).
But then be sure to watch what are called the bloopers. They aren't really bloopers; they're more like cutting-room snips. But they add to the joy and understanding of the entire event. Check out how they dealt with the woman who wanted a ring for Christmas! Too bad that scene didn't make final the cut for the main video.
Does anyone know: what did WestJet do about the people who said they wanted a new car for Christmas?
Several times in the past year, I have been asked to complete forms that ask for:
Each time I fill in my correct date of birth. But then when it comes to filling in my age, I write "<90". One person good-naturedly chided me about this answer, to which I replied in my best curmudgeonly voice something like, "You got my birthdate. Tell your computer to do the arithmetic." [grumble grumble harumph grumble]
I took this quiz recently and scored 72, which (according the scoring) means I am an "Extroverted Ambivert". I guess that means I'm a blend of these two general character types:
What does it mean if a person spends all their time blogging and on Facebook?
[Addendum: as others have pointed out, I do plenty of other things with my time as well.]
I have tried replacing my laptop with an iPad or phablet (and keyboard) and storing files in the cloud. Several times. It seems it should work, but it doesn't for me. Matt Yglesias says most people aren't quite there either.
One problem is that I don't like the iPad software supposed equivalents to my laptop software. E.g., I don't like the "conversation" version of gmail, but that's all that seems available in the gmail app on iPad.
Another problem is that storing and using files from the cloud will take some learning for me.
It will probably happen at some point. Just not yet.
And vice versa, I suppose.
My evidence is only circumstantial, but here goes:
Joe Kissell runs down the issues. The problems for most users will be that Mail takes a significant time to display messages in the Inbox and other mailboxes — here "significant" could be more than a day, even a several days, depending on the number of messages stored.
Mail, it appears, is reindexing folders and performing other tasks, but doesn't tell the user. Depending on user's Gmail settings, it could be downloading gigabytes of already read messages.
For longtime Mac power users, AppleScripts written for Gmail accounts will likely be broken with this initial move to Mavericks Mail. Some mailboxes will be reported as empty but have messages in them. Ordinary rules are also having problems, according to some reports.
Megan Lavey-Heaton at TUAW mentions problems with Smart Folders in Mail after updating.
Put all these things together and it is certainly conceivable that the problem with gmail under Mavericks was "engineered". But that would be stupid on Apple's part because the gmail users who have suffered will blame Apple, not Google.
At any rate, I hesitated before installing Mavericks on my MacBook. But since I use gmail only via a browser and have done my best to shutdown and not use Apple MacMail, I'm not anticipating any problems.
This latest virus is maddening. I really hope the people who started this and operate it are punished severely. The details provided by The University of Regina (I think it applies only for PCs, but I'm not sure about that):
There are more details at Snopes.
There is currently a 'Crypotolocker' ransomware virus circulating that permanently encrypts all the files on your computer then demands a fee for the key to access the files. It also encrypts any documents that you have write access to on connected network and Novell drives. The virus is sent as an attached file on an email, and once you open the attachment it runs immediately. At the moment the only way to get the files back is either use a file restore if there was a backup or pay the fee.
As always, please be very cautious when opening attached files in your email. For this particular virus, the subject of the email is often something simple and seemingly benign like "Subject: Scanned Image from a Xerox WorkCentre". An example of the email we have seen on campus is at the bottom of this message, with Subject: "Last Month Remit" with an attached .xls Excel spreadsheet.
Some virus scanners are not able to detect this virus, so be sure to update your virus scanning software regularly to ensure that your system is protected as new updates become available.
As I posted several days ago, I am not at all pleased with iOS7. Since that posting there have been some serious additional problems that have come to light:
This second problem has not yet been addressed by Apple and seems to affect a substantial number of people.
Apple’s latest and greatest operating system is making people sick – literally.
The animations and transitions added to iOS 7 have unexpectedly been making people nauseous and giving them motion sickness.
The issue is so prevalent, in fact, that it has an entire message thread filled with complaints on Apple’s forums, first spotted by The Verge, and complaints have been building on Twitter as well.The main source of the problem appears to be the zooming animation added in the recent upgrade.
Examples abound at the Daily Mail site linked above.
More silliness and non-functional glitz from from a highly paid designer that actually makes the product worse. What was Apple thinking? That silly glitz would help them in the smartphone wars with Samsung?
And what is with all the beta testers of iOS7? Are they not critical enough? Are they insensitive to poor designs?
Usually I am more cautious, and I wait a few days to read user reactions before installing iOS updates. For example, I never installed iOS6 on my iPhone (when I had one) because I wanted Google maps to be the standard app for my phone.
I should have waited before changing the iOS on my iPad yesterday. If I had waited, I would have seen this from Forbes [ht Jack], outlining some of the basic problems with iOS7.
I use my iPad for reading ebooks and scripts, for playing a few games when I'm bored, and for checking my email and Facebook at times. I am not a heavy user. In fact I mostly use it at night when I'm not on my computer. I gather others use their iPads this way, too.
My complaints about iOS7 are similar to those in the Forbes piece:
Regular readers of EclectEcon know I am not enamoured of Android, and the bizarre inability to turn off only some of the notifications on my Note2 really irritates me often. I have been eagrely awaiting the day that Apple would see the light and bring out a larger iPhone.
With iOS7, I'm less eagre.
Update: Yassir wrote in a comment on Facebook:
His suggestion works well for me.
"If you have trouble reading the fonts in iOS 7, go to Settings > General > Accessibility, then touch the switch for Bold Text and also the Increase Contrast switch right below it. It will require a restart of your iPhone/iPad, but now reading should be a lot easier"
Have you ever watched the clerk at a fast food place or a server at a mid-level restaurant? They use touch-screen computers to send the orders to the kitchen, track inventory, compute bills, etc.
In a world in which so many people have tablets and smartphones, there is no reason customers cannot do this work themselves. It may take some getting used to, but good design with smooth interfaces should make it all work with the result that window clerks and servers will be less in demand as they are replaced by touch screens.
It is happening gradually now [ht Jack]:
If it pays to use touch screens on a partial level, watch for it to become even more prevalent for ALL transactions, especially if the minimum wages for food-service workers are raised by gubmnt.
Get ready to order dessert at Chili’s on a tablet–just look out for your sticky fingers. Brinker, which owns and operates the Chili’s and Maggiano’s brands, will be installing tablets on each table in its 823 operated Chili’s restaurants by March 2014, though the company says its servers will play a critical role in its new wireless experience.
Those tablets, provided by Texas firm Ziosk, will allow customers to order drink refills and desserts as well as play interactive games in what is an overall “reimaging” of Chili’s restaurants’ design, says Krista Gibson, senior vice president of brand strategy at Brinker International.
What you can’t do, at least initially, is order appetizers and your main course.
Restaurants make more money when customers can order dessert and coffee and then get out of there faster, and the Ziosk allows customers to pay by credit card on the tablet. A green LED light then notifies the serving staff that a group has paid and can leave without fuss. In tests, Chili’s found that half of customers opted to pay through the device and even more during busy workweek lunch hours.
But the device is supposed to really make money when groups, especially families, pay $0.99 to play games like trivia on the device while they sit. The system pays for itself, Mulinder says, if enough guests, at least a tenth of customers, opt into such “premium” content.
Sometimes we go into a situation with such strong prior beliefs about the truth (or the state of the world or whatever) that even very strong evidence that contradicts those priors doesn't persuade us. As a long-time academic and supposed scholar, I'd like to hope that doesn't happen very often with me, but I expect it does. [For more on the use of prior beliefs in statistical analysis, see this and the related links on Bayes.]
But here is a pretty impressive example from Slate.
This morning, out of nowhere, Public Policy Polling revealed to the world that it had polled the Colorado recalls, been on the money, but failed to release it. "In a district that Barack Obama won by almost 20 points," wrote PPP's Tom Jensen, "I figured there was no way that could be right and made a rare decision not to release the poll."
I expect that PPP could not possibly believe their poll results were accurate. So rather than report what they feared was flawed and what might sully the reputation of their firm, they chose instead not to report the results.
Well, at least this way they can say, "Our polling techniques are better than we thought they were."
According to several news releases, iOS7 will take over the swipe up and swipe down commands. Grrrr. From the Telegraph (via MA):
A new way to access search
The ability to search on the iPhone and iPad has been around for a while, however, iOS 7 will introduce a new way of accessing it.
Simply swiping down on the homescreen will open a search box and the keyboard, allowing you to search without having to swipe to a dedicated screen as in previous versions of the software.
Swipe up to close Apps
Like in previous versions of iOS, double clicking the home button at the bottom of the phone will show all of the Apps that are currently open.
Simply swipe up on the screen to close the app.
One of my favourite e-readers on my iPad is Stanza, and one of the many reasons I like it so much is that I can swipe up to brighten the screen and swipe down to dim the screen.
iOS6 buggered things up for Stanza for awhile, and Stanza had to redo their app. And now Stanza will have to redo their app once again.
[and meanwhile, of course, Apple has still not addressed the segment of the market that would like a larger phone]