ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

I’ve been ill over the Christmas period with man flu and a stomach bug; but have been using my current recovery time to at least keep reading.

Researchers Made Google’s Image Recognition AI Mistake a Rifle For a Helicopter | WIRED – interesting implications for black SEO

Daring Fireball: Marzipan – makes more sense than the original Guzman article on a future merging of iOS and macOS

The strange story of “Extended Random” – A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering – you can deploy a cryptographic backdoor, but it’s awfully hard to control where it will end up

The politics of social status: economic and cultural roots of the populist right – Gidron – 2017 – The British Journal of Sociology – Wiley Online Library – the answers may lie on the ‘supply side’ of political competition, where recent movements in party platforms have made the populist right more attractive to many voters. A convergence over the past three decades in the economic platforms of the centre-left and centre-right toward the right have reduced the appeal of the centre-left to the working class. In this context, many voters now complain that no one speaks for them. At the same time, parties on the populist right have moved their economic platforms to the left, making them more plausible providers of jobs and social protection. Moreover, in order to mount distinctive appeals at a time when the differences between parties on economic issues has narrowed, many parties have put more emphasis on identity or values issues, which often draw middle-class voters to the left but working-class voters to the right

Huawei executive detained on suspicion of taking bribes | HKEJ Insights – it is worthwhile bearing in mind that Huawei is a big ass company, so the odds of at least some employees being bent is a sure thing, just on the scale of numbers. It isn’t necessarily proof that the company is rotten. Huawei has its cultural foibles but corruption isn’t necessarily one of them

Behind the Fall and Rise of China’s Xiaomi | WIRED – interesting analysis of how Xiaomi made mixed retail / e-tail strategy and smart home products pull their business

Apple Took the Lion Share of Smartphone Industry Profits in Q3 2017 at Close to 60% – Patently Apple – there are many ways to cut this data. Apple is still doing well, Samsung has made big strides to get back into the game over the last year and the largest Chinese manufacturers are still living on thin margins of $15 per handset. Huawei’s numbers are likely to be mixed. The Honor handsets will have a much lower margins and so pull down Huawei’s aggregate value.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Baidu accuses former staffer of stealing autonomous car technology | FT – interesting case. Presumably it must involve technology outside the scope of the Apollo open source software project

Inexperience is hurting digital content: DeVries global CEO | PR | Campaign Asia – PR agency line of ‘engagement’ with everything – which shows a lack of understanding around effective marketing communications a la Byron Sharp and the Ehrenburg-Bass Institute work. Interesting what they are doing in China, but needs more nuance

Iced tea maker soars 500% after pivot to blockchains | FT – yep things are as messed up as this looks

Apple Plans Combined iPhone, iPad & Mac Apps to Create One User Experience – Bloomberg – my big concern would be around UX and design

Amazon Puzzles Over the Perfect Fit—in Boxes – WSJ – with e-commerce do you need the packaging to market the product on the shelf anymore? (paywall)

Volkswagen ad to interrupt other brand advertising – interesting brand dynamics

Apple, CALEA and Law Enforcement – Lawfare  – Apple is consistently making choices to protect users privacy and security. In the face of the kinds of attacks we’ve been seeing, from the “hack in a box” that Chinese criminals were selling to the sophisticated hacking Jupiter’s VPN, the better security is on phones and in communications, the better off we all are. So while Nick is right on the current vulnerability in iMessage, he has it wrong on both on Apple’s legal obligations under CALEA and how easy it would be for the company to accommodate law enforcement’s demands.

Alexa skills top 25,000 in the U.S. as new launches slow | TechCrunch – I guess its a limitation around the ‘type’ of knowledge taught. There are all kinds of restrictions over IP – so no movie dialogue quotes or sports results for instance unless you are ESPN or a film studio

Merry Christmas and all that jazz


Hidden information design

I’ve stared at UK mainline railway station departure boards at many times over the years. I am usually fixated on the platform number and whether it will leave on time. So it was only this week that I picked up on the little train ideogram as a footnote at the bottom of each destination on Euston station’s display.


The diagram flips, this was the dominant image.  It shows:

  • How many carriages are on the train
  • How full of reserved passengers each carriage is (A, B, E and J are very full).
  • Which coaches are first class (KJHG)
  • A cup periodically flashed over coach C to show that was where the shop / takeaway cafe was

It would be interesting to see if this data was available in API form for apps or web service usage and what could be done with it.


Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week.

I am currently working my way through a few different books, including Steve Coll’s forthcoming book Directorate S. Coll is a former journalist and academic. He is has written a number of non-fiction books on central Asia and companies such as Exxon. His research is exhaustive which is why my galley copy is a bit of a door stop. More later on my thoughts.

Directorate S Human by Nature are a relatively new streetwear brand. This football shirt caught my eye; a logo that skirts perilously close to the wrath of New Balance. And the geometric pattern looks like a blown up version of the ‘leaf design’ 1990-92 Manchester United away shirt, but at the same scale as the ‘vee’ motif on the 1991-1993 Arsenal away shirt.

human by nature

In order to get into the Christmas season I have been listening to this Amerigo Gazaway seasonal mixtape

I also love listening to this seasonal mix that used to be played in the much missed Hideout boutique throughout the holiday season

I can recommend Lo and Behold: Reveries Of A Connected World by Werner Herzog who gives an iconoclastic history of the internet and where it is taking us. It is currently available on Netflix.