Technology


Technology

PaymentKit: How Apple Lets Some Air Out of this Pressure Cooker

2nd September 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Matt Birchler, on the improvements he wants to see regarding payments in apps:

Simply, I want Apple to allow third party payments in apps. This does not have to turn the App Store into some sort of hellscape where card details are stolen on the regular and no one wants to buy anything anymore because it’s so bad.

E-commerce has grown a ton over the last decade, and it’s grown almost as much in the past 6 months all over again. People buy things online all the time, and modern tools allow merchants to collect that data securely. I’d love to see that come to the App Store, but in ways that only Apple can do.

I like everything he proposes here, especially a “PaymentKit” API, which would allow some form of conformity to a standard, while offering a greater level of freedom to app developers. Mainly because other payment platforms would be able to offer their own options as SDKs to app developers, giving them and the end customers more choice.

Just adding this framework wouldn’t mean an immediate fix to the issue regarding payments inside apps. However, it would lay the groundwork needed for a more competitive marketplace. And with more competition, there will be an incentive to offer a better solution for developers and customers.

Technology

The Lopifit "Electric Walking Bike"

1st July 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

I just came across this product via an Instagram post, and I just had to share it. I just can’t stop laughing about it.

Caption

It’s a bike that’s designed for exercise. Specifically high-cardio workouts. But instead of just making a normal bike that people can read, they’ve taken out the seat and pedals, and put a treadmill in the middle! So it’s not an “electric walking bike” like they claim, it’s a treadmill scooter. Which now I think about it, is no better than just walking!

Who even comes up with these ideas?

Technology

How To Remove YouTube Tracking

30th June 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Dries Buytaert:

After some research, I discovered that YouTube offers a privacy-enhanced way of embedding videos. Instead of linking to youtube.com, link to youtube-nocookie.com, and no data-collecting HTTP cookie will be sent. This is Google’s way of providing GDPR-compliant YouTube videos.

(via Daring Fireball)

I was completely unaware that this GDPR-compliant version of YouTube embeds were available. But, seeing as it makes no sense to use the standard embed when this one exists, I’ve made changes to my site so all YouTube embeds will automatically use the -nocookie version.


Just in case this helps anyone else add this to their blog, RavanH posted a code snippet on the WordPress.org forums to make WordPress shortcodes automatically convert YouTube embeds.

Technology

A Better Computer

5th June 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Matt Birchler, introducing his new YouTube channel:

Today I’m excited to introduce my new YouTube channel, A Better Computer. This channel will be devoted to helping you make the computer in front of you, whether it be an iPhone, and iPad, or PC, better than it was before; we want to make it a better computer.

It’s not just another tech YouTube channel though, the idea is that the videos will be short, but highly produced, and have a very limited scope. For example, alongside the trailer for the channel, there are already three great videos to watch:

My favourite so far has to be the most recent one, about making tasks smaller in order to get more done. Since this is something I’ve been doing myself for a while, and I’ve always found it to be a very effective way to get big chunks of work done. Because for me personally, while I want to complete big tasks, the idea of them usually puts me off. But if I split the one big task into various small tasks that can be individually actioned, then it’s so much easier to make progress, and eventually complete it.

As you can tell, A Better Computer is going to be one great YouTube channel, so I definitely recommend subscribing.

Web

Speed Test by CloudFlare

29th May 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

I just came across a new speed test tool (via The Newsprint), and it’s certainly the most detailed and responsive one I’ve seen.

It’s made by CloudFlare, and has the simple name of Speed Test. You can find it at speed.cloudflare.com.

Unlike Speedtest.net, it loads instantly, and there’s no delay until your internet connection is tested. Which is something that always annoyed me when visiting Speedtest.net.

The speed or instantaneous testing aren’t the only benefits. It’s also packed full of data. Have a look at my screenshot below, to see the type of stuff you can test.

(You may worry that I’ve shared my location. Rest assured that this data isn’t even close to being accurate.)

Technology

Trading Standards Squad Targets Anti-5G USB Stick

28th May 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Rory Cellan-Jones, writing for BBC News:

Trading Standards officers are seeking to halt sales of a device that has been claimed to offer protection against the supposed dangers of 5G via use of quantum technology.

Cyber-security experts say the £339 5GBioShield appears to no more than a basic USB drive.

This story is incredible in so many ways.

Especially when you get to this:

Each of these USB keys costs £339.60 including VAT, though there is a special offer of three for £958.80.

But, at first sight, it seems to be just that – a USB key, with just 128MB of storage.

“So what’s different between it and a virtually identical ‘crystal’ USB key available from various suppliers in Shenzhen, China, for around £5 per key?” asks Ken Munro, whose company, Pen Test Partners, specialises in taking apart consumer electronic products to spot security vulnerabilities.

And the answer appears to be a circular sticker.

Technology

Twitter Starts Testing a Feature That Limits Who Can Reply to Your Tweets

20th May 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Suzanne Xie, writing at the Twitter Product Blog:

Twitter is where you go to see and talk about what’s happening. But sometimes, unwanted replies make it hard to have meaningful conversations. (Ahem, reply guys.) Since last year, we’ve been working to give people more control over their conversations starting with the ability to hide replies. We also began trying out new ways to start conversations with casual, fleeting thoughts. And now, we’re testing new settings that let you choose who can reply to your Tweet and join your conversation.

Twitter also posted a short video showing off how the feature would work:

So tweets will (for the small percentage of users that can access the feature) have three options regarding who can reply: everyone, only people you follow, or only people you mention in the tweet. That seems to make sense, and they are probably the most common options you’d want if you wanted to limit replies.

It does seem slightly odd though, in that you would be able to have a public Twitter profile that no-one can reply to. However, as soon as you mention someone in a tweet, they can reply, since that’s allowed on all three options. SO at least you won’t be able to troll people, and at the same time stop them from replying.

Well, no matter happens with this idea, I’m personally all for Twitter experimenting with features such as this. And also the mentioned “fleeting tweets” idea, that interesting me as well. Surely one’s going to stick eventually?


Update: Since seeing a thread between Twitter and NASA, the benefits of this feature have clicked my head. Since you’ll be able to limit who replies to each tweet, your threads can stay perfectly clean!

App

NHSX Looking Into Apple/Google Solution for Contact Tracing App

6th May 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Tim Bradshaw, Sarah Neville, and Helen Warrell, writing at Financial Times:

Health chiefs in the UK have tasked a team of software developers to “investigate” switching its unique contact-tracing app to the global standard proposed by Apple and Google, signalling a potential about-turn just days after the NHS launched its new coronavirus app.

Maybe they’re finally getting the message, that their custom solution will not work? Just like I mentioned before?

That’s not the only bit of news from this article though, with more details emerging on the app. That is it being developed by a Swiss IT development company named “Zuhlke Engineering”, with a 6-month contract worth £3.8m.

They’re said to be doing this as a two-week time boxed technical spike. Which is basically a period of time allocated to evaluate a new technology/implementation. Then after the spike (evaluation) is complete, more work can be planned, estimated, and carried out.

I’m just glad they’re open to switching to the more practical Apple/Google implementation.

Apple

This Keyboard Isn’t Really Magic

6th May 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Greg Morris:

I know Apple marketing is great but we need to have a little chat about the Magic Keyboard because I think they may have sold you a lie. You see, despite it being pretty great the keyboard Apple sold you isn’t really magic.

I am not sure what you expected to happen when you attached a keyboard complete with backlight keys and a trackpad to an iPad but it was never going to turn it into a Mac. The way that some people have spoken about the keyboard seems that they expected some kind of OTA update once you connected it, and that the iPad all of sudden wasn’t an iPad anymore.

Greg talks a lot of sense here about the situation with the iPad. Where a huge number of people use it, enjoy using it, and get a lot done on it. However, there are people that try to use it, discover it isn’t for them, then tell the rest of the world that it’s not good for anyone.

Technology

Turns Out Some Children Own a Smartphone

4th February 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Zoe Kleinman, writing for BBC News:

The amount of young phone owners doubled between the ages of nine and 10, which Ofcom dubbed “the age of digital independence”.

In addition, 24% of 3 and 4-year-olds had their own tablet, and 15% of them were allowed to take it to bed.

This doesn’t seem to bad to me. A smartphone gives people access to the vast quantities of information available on the internet, entertainment in the forms of games, videos, etc. and also a tool for communication with their friends and parents.

But there’s always at least one quote in these types of articles, to try and prompt a bit of outrage. Here we have one about not recognising the difference between the real world and online:

“I’m conscious that for these children who have never known a world without the internet, in many respects their online and offline worlds are indistinguishable.”

And also one trying to prompt outrage at the suitability for content on the internet for children:

“We are seeing around half of 12-15 year olds saying they have seen hateful content online, and an increase in parents who are concerned about it,” said Yih-Choung Teh.

I think the problem is not that children have access to mobile computing devices, but rather some parents tend to think that they don’t need to control their child’s usage of such devices. You look after them in the physical world, so surely you’d expect to do the same in the digital world.

Back before smartphones were a thing, people grew up without constant access to the digital world. But now they are so ubiquitous, it’s obvious that more younger people will have access to smartphones, and especially the vast internet. I think the responsibility falls on the shoulders of both the parents, the education system, and also the various content platforms.

However, I don’t think the fact that children use the internet, means that the entire web needs to be child friendly.

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