Paper the app vs Facebook Paper

A company named FiftyThree makes an iPad sketching app called Paper. Imagine their surprise last week when Facebook announced their new app, Paper.

App hits top of App Store after Shark Tank appearance

Cycloramic takes a 360 degree panoramic photo, hands-free, using vibration to rotate the phone. The panorama is stitched together using software and Cycloramic is protected via a utility patent. It’s been around for a while and, before the appearance had 660,000 downloads, made about $175K.

Google Chrome allows malicious sites to eavesdrop via your computer mic

I have always been a little paranoid about my computer’s web cam and microphone. Here’s yet another reason why.

A user visits a site, that uses speech recognition to offer some cool new functionality. The site asks the user for permission to use his mic, the user accepts, and can now control the site with his voice. Chrome shows a clear indication in the browser that speech recognition is on, and once the user turns it off, or leaves that site, Chrome stops listening. So far, so good.

But what if that site is run by someone with malicious intentions?

Most sites using Speech Recognition, choose to use secure HTTPS connections. This doesn’t mean the site is safe, just that the owner bought a $5 security certificate. When you grant an HTTPS site permission to use your mic, Chrome will remember your choice, and allow the site to start listening in the future, without asking for permission again. This is perfectly fine, as long as Chrome gives you clear indication that you are being listened to, and that the site can’t start listening to you in background windows that are hidden to you.

When you click the button to start or stop the speech recognition on the site, what you won’t notice is that the site may have also opened another hidden popunder window. This window can wait until the main site is closed, and then start listening in without asking for permission. This can be done in a window that you never saw, never interacted with, and probably didn’t even know was there.

To make matters worse, even if you do notice that window (which can be disguised as a common banner), Chrome does not show any visual indication that Speech Recognition is turned on in such windows – only in regular Chrome tabs.

This is scary.

Apple execs on the Mac at 30

MacWorld’s Jason Snell spoke with Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Bud Tribble, vice president of software technology, and Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, about the Mac’s thirty years of evolution.

Pixelmator 3.1

Enjoy incredibly fast and powerful editing of high-quality pictures. Fully optimized for the new Mac Pro, Pixelmator makes image editing completely seamless. Leveraging the full power of dual-GPU architecture, Pixelmator now supports 16-bit per channel images for the first time.

There are so many changes in this new version, including the ability to order prints and many other features. Great update.

Chinese internet traffic redirected to small Wyoming house

On Tuesday, most of China’s 500 million Internet users were unable to load websites for up to eight hours. Nearly every Chinese user and Internet company, including major services like Baidu and, was affected.

Bold move to counter Yale’s blocking of a student course selection web site

A few days ago, I posted about two students at Yale (Harry Yu and Peter Xu) who built a student course selection web site that was far superior to any of the official tools offered by Yale. Yale shut them down.

On Friday, Mary Miller, Dean of Yale College, posted an official response to the controversy. In addition, a Yale student offered up his own replacement solution that is sure to stoke the controversy.

Yale students made a better version of their course catalogue. Then Yale shut it down.

A major challenge in registering for classes is working out schedule conflicts from overlapping classes, finding a solution that allows you to take the classes you need to take while sprinkling in courses you’d love to take or maximizing your sleep schedule. This is a complex problem with a lot of moving parts. Most universities offer, at best, some primitive calendaring solutions, even though the ability to optimize your schedule based on specified priorities is eminently solvable using software.

Two Yale students did their fellow students a huge solid by building a nice little system. It became quite popular. Then Yale shut them down.

iOS 7 now installed on 78% of active Apple devices

Last Friday, we posted a link to a graphic that detailed the process HTC goes through to vet new versions of Android. The multi-company hoops that need leaping, as well as the incredible number of devices that need to be tested, are both barriers to adoption of new Android revs and contributors to fragmentation.

Apple has announced their latest adoption rates for iOS 7. 78% is a huge number.

The new telemarketing robot who swears she’s not a robot

This is comedy gold. A telemarketer called a Times reported trying to get him to sign up for health insurance. He sniffs out that she appears to be software driven (as opposed to a human reading from a complex script) and sets out to prove this.

Leaving Chrome for Safari on iOS

Federico Viticci wrote an in-depth article about why he left Chrome and returned to Safari on his iOS devices. One comment I’d like to add to his piece is about using Reading List. I’ve been using Safari’s built-in read later feature too and I kind of like it. I suppose it’s as much for the convenience of having my saved articles available across all devices as it is for the feature itself. I do use Instapaper and have the apps, but sometimes it’s just easier to have everything in one app.

Apple II DOS source code available for download

This is where it all started for me, my first exposure to Apple. The first bit of money I ever made was writing a game called Library Adventure for the Apple II. Much of the code was written with peeks (to access hidden bits of the OS) and pokes (to hide our own stuff for later retrieval) in memory. We used packages from PenguinSoft and Beagle Brothers. Pulled many all nighters and had a grand old time.

Now the Computer History Museum and Digibarn Museum have released the Apple II DOS code into the wild (non-commercial use only). Here’s the link if you want to grab a copy for yourself. As of this writing, the server returned an internal error. I suspect the servers have been overwhelmed with requests.

. Such sweet memories.

Apple details upcoming features of iWork

Many people have been concerned about the features removed from the latest version of iWork. Apple posted a support note detailing the features that will return in the next six months.

Organizing your desktop

Lex Friedman asked me to participate in this story for Macworld. My desktop is usually a mess.

The road to OS X Mavericks

Peter Cohen for iMore:

It was a long road to OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Mac OS X was first introduced as a public beta (codenamed Kodiak) in September of 2000, and beta it was – a radical departure from Mac OS 9, both in look (introducing the “Aqua” interface) and in operation. Mac OS X was built on a UNIX foundation, and was more closely related to the NextStep operating system that had been developed by NeXT, the computing company Steve Jobs founded between stints running Apple.

This brought back some memories.

More than a million kids sign up for the Hour of Code

Kids around the world are signing up for the Hour of Code, an effort by to demystify the art of programming, to bring more young folks into the field. Their mantra is “Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.”

The official video, shown below, features people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, Jack Dorsey, Ruchi Sanghvi, and many many more. A worthy cause.