GoPro ski jump video

What’s especially cool about this video is the effort they’ve put into removing the mount from the shot. Notice how the view moves ever so slightly up when he’s sliding down and there’s only sky behind him. After the jump the view moves down again. All the way through, they could’ve just kept cropping the top of the helmet where mount is. Think it adds an eery unrealness to the shot. Nice.

Fingerprint snap back

You know what I thought when Apple announced the iPhone 5s and confirmed it having a fingerprinter sensor? “Jesus Christ, the amount of virtual ink that’ll be spilled in deploring the sensor and how easy it will be to fake ones fingerprint.”

Alas, of course, we didn’t even have to wait for the phone to actually in people hands. Or fingers.

Here’s Cory Doctorow:

More interesting is the prediction that phone thieves will lift their victims’ fingerprints and use them to bypass the readers. As German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble discovered, you leak your fingerprints all the time, and once your fingerprint has been compromised, you can’t change it. (Schauble was pushing for biometric identity cards; playful Chaos Computer Club hackers lifted his fingerprints off a water-glass after a debate and published 10,000 copies of them on acetate as a magazine insert).

Also:

“Fingerprints can be a useful addition to security but their value depends highly on the type of fingerprint reader and how it is being used – for example, the best use of a fingerprint is to provide a convenient way to unlock something in a medium to low security scenario,” Mr Rogers said.

First of all, “medium to low security” compared to what? A pin?

Next, since the sensor won’t work with a dead, a.k.a. chopped off finger, I’d imagine it’s really difficult to, but not impossible, to simply lift a copy of a fingerprint and use it to open the phone.

Rich Mogull has a pretty comprehensive analysis of the technology and using fingerprints for authentication.

The Touch ID sensor in the iPhone 5s is a capacitive reader, embedded in the home button. That was a good choice on Apple’s part, since capacitive scanners are more accurate and less prone to smudgy fingers, and can’t be faked out with a photocopy of a fingerprint.

And:

But the real reason is that using fingerprints creates better security through improved usability. Most people, if they use a passcode at all, stick with a simple four-digit passcode, which is easy for an attacker to circumvent with physical possession of your iPhone. Longer passphrases, like the obscure 16-character one I use, are far more secure, but a real pain to enter repeatedly. A fingerprint reader, if properly implemented, provides the security of a long passphrase, with more convenience than even a short passcode.

While I welcome Doctorow’s, and others’, pessimism in introducing new security measures and being critical of technologies such as fingerprint readers, I’d also welcome them to not just criticise, but also offer better alternatives.

I don’t think we’ll see many cases of people fingers being chopped off. If for no other reason, then for that charges on ‘nicking a phone’ are quite a bit less serious than on ‘bodily mutilation’.

A chainsaw, leg and iPhone

photo 4Some six years ago, my dad cut himself with a chainsaw. Accidentally. Right under the knee. It took a good five, six weeks to heal properly.

A few weeks ago he did it again but luckily this time he had an iPhone in his trouser pocket. Turns out, the metal frame around the iPhone works pretty well for stopping the chain and prevented it from eating into his quadriceps.

It reminds me of a story of a U.S. Army soldier in Iraq was shot but the bullet was stopped by his iPod. True, this isn’t quite as dramatic as being shot but he is a keen marathon runner and if he wasn’t able to run for a while, everyone would suffer.

photo 2

So. Leg saved by an iPhone. Big deal. But what’s even cooler is that the iPhone still works perfectly. Even the headphone jack, which is in the corner where it took the hit, still works. No loss of mobile or wifi signal. Pretty incredible.

(The Husqvarna chainsaw he used does have a mechanism that stops the chain from moving when you release the trigger. He had been operating the saw for some three hours which results in the chain loosening, which in turn keeps the chain stopper from working.)

Seven minutes to get you fit

Seems like every day we get a new bit of research saying that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the best way to increase and maintain a good level of fitness. Often these exercises take the form of stationary cycling or track running with 20-seconds on maximum effort, 10 seconds rest. (When I’ve not been running for a few weeks, I normally do a few 4 x 1000m interval sessions and that gets me right back where I left off.)

The New York Times reports on a straight forward routine that only requires a chair and a wall (and your own bodyweight) to do. It’s a circuit of 12 different exercises performed back-to-back in seven minutes.

The exercises should be performed in rapid succession, allowing 30 seconds for each, while, throughout, the intensity hovers at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10, Mr. Jordan says. Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant. The upside is, after seven minutes, you’re done.

While I’m really not thinking about giving up running, I don’t do enough strength training. This looks like a good routine to try out.

Mass following leads to poor experience

I was cleaning out dead or quiet accounts from the list I follow on one of my Twitter accounts and noticed something that perhaps isn’t really that surprising: many of the accounts that were following almost 2000 other users were quiet with no activity to speak of. Many of them seemed like genuine accounts with perhaps a few hundred followers themselves.

Reason why one would follow up to 2000 users is simple: you hope they follow back. But the problem is that this ruins the experience of using Twitter. Instead of being a stream tweets that are more or less highly curated, it’s suddenly becomes a cacophony of random noise.

Hashtags and conferences

I largely agree with Daniel Victor on that hashtag-free tweets are more aesthetically pleasing and that we should avoid using them. Or at least put more thought into when we use them.

I’d like to add a little idea I’ve had on using hashtags in conferences. Hashtags are handy in connecting small groups of people but I think there’s an alternative.

Twitter should treat hashtags at the start of a tweet the same way as it does @replies, hide from your main feed unless you follow that specific person or hashtag in this case.

#LearningFest Just arrived, who else is here?

This way you could freely be a little more vocal at these events but and at the same time not piss off those followers who don’t care about premier education events. I know people are self conscious about this; I’ve seen some start separate conference accounts to allow machine gun tweeting without the ill side effects.

Problem is that Twitter will never make that change. Large part of their valuation is based on how ubiquitous the hashtag has become. “Oh, by the way Simon Cowell, fewer people will now see #xfactor as we’re cleaning up the system to make it more user friendly”. No. Never gonna happen.

But fear not, solution is already here.

I suggest that next time you’re at a conference you do this instead:

@LearningFest Just arrived, who else is here?

This way only those who give a damn will see it. Chances are that if you’re at that conference, you’ll have followed the account. You can always mention before hand that “I’ll be at @LearningFest, follow to hear the latest” so your other followers can keep up if they care enough.

Other obvious benefit is that now it’s easy to find out what the event is you’re talking about. So often you see a hashtag but struggle to find out what the context or event is.

I guess hastags are the new punchline.tumbler.com—or punchline.com as it used to be at the turn of the century. You know, back when we use to say things like “you’re a dumbass dot com”? I’m not saying I’ll never use one but as Victor suggest, I’ll be more considerate when using them.

How piracy destroyed Battle Dungeon

While the internet tubes get lubed and ready for what will probably be the biggest piracy event to date, here’s the story on how piracy made one game shut its servers.

However, when you release a multiplayer game that requires account creation to play you suddenly get a much clearer picture. The answer? Around 90% of our signups were coming from pirated copies of our game.

Battle Dungeon: Risen is the reworking of the original title as a single player game and it’s available in the App Store.

Via MacRumors.com

iPad Air will most likely sell for £249 ($299)

I’ve been sitting on this screenshot for a while. Since the iPhone 5 announcement event, in fact.

It’s from the first few minutes of Apple Store UK coming back online after the event. Look at the iPad section and ‘from’ price. At the time, and still today, iPad pricing starts at £329 for the iPad 2. I think the screenshot shows the price that Apple at least at the time was thinking for the yet-to-be-announced iPad Air. £249.

(For the record, you can download the screenshot that was taken on my iPad, here. That’s the untouched, RAW file downloaded using Image Capture.)

Couple of things. First, how could Apple accidentally update the iPad ‘from’ price to a wrong one? It’s probably because they at some point might have planned on announcing the iPad Air in September and this price got stuck on one the website content templates that were consequently activated on the 12th September. Easy mistake to make.

But £249? Isn’t that more than what Google is selling the Nexus 7 for and what Kindle Fire costs? Yes it is and it doesn’t matter.

When has Apple ever intentionally competed on price? Never. After the original iPad came out, other tablet makers were unable to either match Apple’s spec or the price. The iPad was, and still is, unbeatably cheaper but I don’t think this is what they are going for; the price is a side product of an immaculate design and perhaps more importantly, the amazing scale they’re made at.

iPad Air isn’t trying to get into the sub-£200 game but it will establish what consumers are to expect from a sub-8 inch tablet.

Why Apple should buy Vimeo

With iOS 6, Apple is getting rid of yet another link with Google; the Maps app which has always been made by Apple but uses data from Google Maps will start using Apples own proprietary map tiles and directions.

Still, one well known Google property remains on the first home screen: YouTube.

Signs were there early on in February when Mountain Lion was first previewed to a few journalists. OS X is taking good part of iOS and one of those elements is the share button. In ML you’ll be able to share content to different services much like you can on an iPhone or an iPad. But videos, you can only share to Vimeo, not YouTube. This might obviously change by the time 10.8 is released but I think it send a pretty stern message: there is nothing Apple needs from Google.

After becoming a father just over a year ago I’ve shot a lot of little videos of our son. Email isn’t great for sharing files like that so I most often just upload them to YouTube as an unlisted video and send the link to my family. System supported service for uploading videos to is essential, even more so than for photos.

What’s stopping them? I don’t think Vimeo ‘is not for sale’. Any venture capital funded company that doesn’t have a clear path to turning large enough profits to bring a good return for its investors, is for sale. At the right price.

Biggest problem there is is the sheer scale of iOS; 365 million users* would definitely put an unpresented strain on the service. What better way then than to test how well it scales by incorporating it in a smaller product like OS X Mountain Lion?

UPDATE: After reading this again, I realised I didn’t clearly answer the question. Reasons are that 1) Vimeo on its own won’t be able to scale fast enough and 2) Apple is all about integrated services that it has full control over.


*Devices sold as of June 2012