November 25, 2015

The real problem with gaming on Android

Prune developer Joel McDonald, in a comment to Polygon:

In fact, from a developer’s perspective, Android has been the most pleasing experience of any of the platforms I’ve released on, not to mention that the players have been great,” he continued. “But as a dev you’ve also got to take the platform’s particularities into account. One thing I knew going into it was that the ‘unpaid install’ rate would likely be around 95 percent and this is exactly what I’ve observed. In a lot of cases the smart thing to do is to convert your premium game to be free-to-play on Android, but that just didn’t make sense for Prune, nor was it something that I was personally interested in.

Emphasis mine. The Polygon piece, written by Ben Kuchera, is about switching from Android to iOS because the games launch faster there. While true, the more pressing matter at hand is the piracy, and the fact that this will lead to more crappy/greedy free-to-play business models. This means that there are no premium, pay once and play, games to pirate, but also none to enjoy. From a gamer’s perspective, this can’t be a good thing.

November 23, 2015 is now open source is now open source, which is incredibly cool.

The new codebase, codenamed “Calypso,” moves away from MySQL and PHP. It’s built entirely in JavaScript, and communicates with only using our REST API. This means the new is a browser-based client for our API, just like any other application built on top of it — lighter, faster, and more flexible for a mobile-focused world.

This is just the beginning, folks. The WordPress REST API will power the web, be it in a browser or in apps, mark my words.

November 22, 2015

The rise and fall of .ly

Some light Sunday reading about the rise and fall of the .ly domain, at Priceonomics:

In April 2004, some 12,400 domains ending in .ly disappeared. The British company managing it had disappeared, too, and for a time nobody knew what to do. According to Bridle, “some but not all” of the domains came back online within a few days, and one “Dr. Hosni Tayeb” sent a cryptic email to all domain holders communicating, in broken English, that everything was fine: “Thank you very much for your concern about .ly cc TLD. People do care around!”

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    Life is hard for Dirk, who’s stumbling through the wasteland. Out here, far from his family, Dirk makes acquaintances that lead him upon a path he didn’t know he yearned for.

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November 17, 2015

The advertising bubble

Hard words about the online advertising bubble, from Maciej Ceglowski:

The prognosis for publishers is grim. Repent! Find a way out of the adtech racket before it collapses around you. Ditch your tracking, show dumb ads that you sell directly (not through a thicket of intermediaries), and beg your readers for mercy. Respect their privacy, bandwidth, and intelligence, flatter their vanity, and maybe they’ll subscribe to something.

This route is not wrong, it would even make it easier to manage content blockers since the ads wouldn’t be laden with third party spy scripts. However, it does require a sales organization capable of reaching not only ad buyers, but premium ones at that. That costs a lot of money, which has to be earned by even more ads. It’s never as easy as it sounds, is it?

Taking the iPad on the road

There’s no doubt it my mind that the iPad is enough for most people, and it has been for quite some time. Updates to iOS, especially the introduction of extensions in iOS 8, and the Split View/Side View updates in iOS 9, has made being productive with an iPad easier. That, and the apps, which are getting better and better all the time. With the iPad Pro, which I’m using to type this, eyes are once again on the iPad as a potential alternative for the traditional PCs, or at least as a laptop replacement. I’ve got a lot to say on the matter, but for now, I urge you to read Thaddeus Hunt’s three part blog post series on how he took an iPad Air 2 on the road, while still performing his duties as a freelance web designer: Part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Oh, and some shameless promotion while I’m at it. I’ll have some initial thoughts on the iPad Pro in the next issue of my newsletter, RE:THORD. It’ll be out soon, so if you’re not subscribing, now’s the time.

This generation knows magic glass

Ben Bajarin, writing about the iPad Pro, but also touchscreen devices in general:

There is truly something happening with this generation growing up spending the bulk, if not all, of their computing time using mobile operating systems and doing new things with new tools. Being the techie that I am, I was a bit disheartened that my twelve-year-old was getting more out of the iPad Pro and pushing it further limits than I was. But she is a part of the mobile generation after all. For them, the future will look quite different and the tools they use to make that future might look quite similar to the iPad Pro.

This is a good point, and something to take to heart if you’re among those who believe that there’s a place among the mainstream for traditional personal computers in the future. No matter if they’re iPads or iPhones or Androids – it’s all magic glass.

November 15, 2015

Instagram, the blogging platform

Kyle Chayka, making the argument for Instagram as an alternative blogging platform, in the New Yorker:

Instagram, a minimalist, mobile-focused app for sharing photos, might seem like a strange place to keep a public diary. Facebook, which aggressively positions itself as an ongoing digital record of your life, comes across as a more natural place to share updates and idle musings. But the Rock’s not alone: People are increasingly turning toward Instagram not just as a place to post filtered photos, but to spill their lives and thoughts into the captions as well.

The term “blogging” is as broken as even. Sure, a photo and a few words can definitely be blogging, but it might just as well be an elaborate photo caption. We used to talk about photo blogging way back, that’s a more suitable term to what’s described in the afore linked article. It matters little, what’s interesting is how we use the services available for our publishing needs.

November 9, 2015

The problem with GPG

Speaking of security and hacks, Moxie Marlinspike pretty much nails the problem with GPG:

Looking forward, however, I think of GPG as a glorious experiment that has run its course. The journalists who depend on it struggle with it and often mess up (“I send you the private key to communicate privately, right?”), the activists who use it do so relatively sparingly (“wait, this thing wants my finger print?”), and no other sane person is willing to use it by default. Even the projects that attempt to use it as a dependency struggle.

This is true for PGP too.

(GPG is for encrypting email using keys, basically an open alternative to PGP. All email should be encrypted, but in reality, it’s just too much of a hassle for most people, me included.)

Anti-ad blocker hacked

Ars Technica, reporting on the hack of analytics firm PageFair:

The compromise started in the last few minutes of Halloween with a spearphishing e-mail that ultimately gave the attackers access to PageFair’s content distribution network account. The attacker then reset the password and replaced the JavaScript code PageFair normally had execute on subscriber websites. For almost 90 minutes after that, people who visited 501 unnamed sites received popup windows telling them their version of Adobe Flash was out-of-date and prompting them to install malware disguised as an official update.

One of those sites were the Economist, as is widely reported. Third party scripts and services is a forgotten security hazard today. Probably more so than ever, since PageFair is an anti-content blocker. From their about page:

We started PageFair because we personally experienced the damage adblocking can do to a website. While we recognize that visitors need to defend themselves from distracting, intrusive, inappropriate, disingenuous or malicious advertising, the rise of adblocking is now leading to the death of quality free websites.

Add PageFair to a service you should block, for your own safety.

November 8, 2015