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Catching Up (10/17)

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Groupon's Red Flags Were Missed. User Research Gone Astray. The Building Windows 8 blog offers some fascinating insight into Microsoft’s research and design processes.

User Research Gone Astray

Take the recent post on improving Windows Explorer. It begins with a discussion on how Windows Explorer is used today. Through telemetry data — “based on hundreds of millions of individuals opting in to provide anonymous data about product usage” — Microsoft finds that the top 10 commands make up 81.8% of use, and that these commands (e.g., paste, properties, copy) are primarily accessed through the contextual menu. The development team combines this with customer feedback on the top requested features, and uses this to justify the changes from Windows 7… …to the design below.

Pollution concerns force shutdown at MacBook Air supplier. Shipments will 'inevitably be affected' Metal casing supplier Catcher Technology has partially shutdown a plant in eastern China, following environmental complaints made to the local government by area residents, says the Wall Street Journal.

Pollution concerns force shutdown at MacBook Air supplier

Hacked! - Magazine. As email, documents, and almost every aspect of our professional and personal lives moves onto the “cloud”—remote servers we rely on to store, guard, and make available all of our data whenever and from wherever we want them, all the time and into eternity—a brush with disaster reminds the author and his wife just how vulnerable those data can be.

Hacked! - Magazine

A trip to the inner fortress of Gmail, where Google developers recovered six years’ worth of hacked and deleted e‑mail, provides specific advice on protecting and backing up data now—and gives a picture both consoling and unsettling of the vulnerabilities we can all expect to face in the future. On April 13 of this year, a Wednesday, my wife got up later than usual and didn’t check her e‑mail until around 8:30 a.m. The previous night, she had put her computer to “sleep,” rather than shutting it down. When she came back to her desk, half an hour later, she couldn’t log into Gmail at all. Research in Motion Pins Hopes on Its Next OS. Starting Tuesday, the company will hold its annual conference for software developers in San Francisco.

Research in Motion Pins Hopes on Its Next OS

Normally, the conference, with sessions like, “Alice.js: A Lightweight Independent CSS Engine,” would grab little attention. But this conference is for the developers RIM must persuade to build the apps for the next generation of BlackBerrys and PlayBook tablets. Can We Just Admit That It's Insane When Microsoft Has A 'Licensing Program' For Someone Else's Products? There have been a string of similar "deals" announced recently (though we do wonder about the details), but Microsoft has announced that Qanta is the latest company to "license" its usage of Android and Chrome.

Can We Just Admit That It's Insane When Microsoft Has A 'Licensing Program' For Someone Else's Products?

Here's Microsoft's quote on the subject: "We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Quanta, and proud of the continued success of our Android licensing program in resolving IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome devices in the marketplace. " Let's sit back and consider the sheer insanity of this entire effort. Microsoft is going around, trying to get lots of companies to buy licenses to Google's products, when there is simply no evidence that those products infringe on any Microsoft patents. Search Algorithms with Google Director of Research Peter Norvig. Google Artificial Intelligence in Search As you will see in the transcript below, this discussion focused on the use of artificial intelligence algorithms in search.

Search Algorithms with Google Director of Research Peter Norvig

Peter outlines for us the approach used by Google on a number of interesting search problems, and how they view search problems in general. This is fascinating reading for those of you who want to get a deeper understanding of how search is evolving and the technological approaches that are driving it. The types of things that are detailed in this interview include: The basic approach used to build Google TranslateThe process Google uses to test and implement algorithm updatesHow voice driven search worksThe methodology being used for image recognitionHow Google views speed in searchHow Google views the goals of search overall Some of the particularly interesting tidbits include: Teaching automated translation systems vocabulary and grammar rules is not a viable approach.

Interview Transcript. Press Info - iPhone 4S First Weekend Sales Top Four Million. CUPERTINO, California—October 17, 2011— Apple® today announced it has sold over four million of its new iPhone® 4S, just three days after its launch on October 14.

Press Info - iPhone 4S First Weekend Sales Top Four Million

In addition, more than 25 million customers are already using iOS 5, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, in the first five days of its release, and more than 20 million customers have signed up for iCloud®, a breakthrough set of free cloud services that automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and push it to all your devices. iPhone 4S is available today in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK, and will be available in 22 more countries on October 28 and more than 70 countries by the end of the year. “iPhone 4S is off to a great start with more than four million sold in its first weekend—the most ever for a phone and more than double the iPhone 4 launch during its first three days,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.

iCloud transition off to a rocky start for MobileMe, family users. Price of Bitcoin Still Dropping, Falls Below the Price of Mining. By Adrianne Jeffries 10/17/11 10:04am Share this:

Price of Bitcoin Still Dropping, Falls Below the Price of Mining

Bill Gross wants to take on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Entrepreneur Bill Gross is already famous in technology circles for developing the search-related keyword advertising model that Google has since made billions by perfecting.

Bill Gross wants to take on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

Now, he is launching a content-focused social network called that will compete not just with Google’s new social platform Google+ but with Twitter and Facebook too, and link-sharing sites like Reddit and Digg as well. Does the world need another social platform for sharing content? Gross says that it does, and that his connections with content companies will help succeed — but the odds are stacked against him. Gross may be well known to some as the guy who created the first version of Ad Words, which he did at a company called GoTo — later renamed Overture, and eventually acquired by Yahoo for $1.6 billion in 2003.

More recently, however, he has become infamous for his somewhat tense relationship with Twitter. 4chan's Chris Poole: Facebook & Google Are Doing It Wrong.