Sunday, October 5, 2014

Boot up: clickthroughs measured, new cybersquatters, iPhone 6 display numbers

A screenshot of Quinn's Depression Quest. A screenshot of Zoe Quinn's Depression Quest. Photograph: /Zoe Quinn

A burst of 10 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Advanced Web Ranking has released a study showing fresh data on the click-through-rate from Google's organic search results. The data was taken from Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries reports from large accounts back in July 2014.

On average, 71.33% of searches resulted in a page one Google organic click. Page two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks. On the first page alone, the first five results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%.

In 2006, the AOL data showed that the first page got 89% of results. So people may be going further for clicks - or tweaking searches. The new study is available as a PDF (linked in the article.)

Katharine Byrne:

Ultimately, the Amazon Fire Phone is a deeply frustrating and woefully misconceived handset. Apart from being a cynical money-making machine for Amazon, its clunky OS is difficult to use and offers no benefit over Android or iOS. The Dynamic Perspective display is a needless gimmick and its Firefly camera isn't good enough to rival services elsewhere. It's also expensive, even if you do get a free year of Amazon Prime thrown in as a vague sweetener. It's not broken per se, but you should avoid this at all costs.


Any business that allows customers to pay with a credit or debit card is also required to adhere to another set of standards known as the PCI security standards. Established by the top players in the payment card industry—VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and JCB International—the standards require businesses to encrypt credit and debit card data any time it's stored on a business's network or crosses the public internet. The standards don't require companies to encrypt card data while it's in transit on the company's own network or as it's sent to an external processing company as long as the data is transmitted over a private network. But smart companies do secure these internal channels anyway to prevent intruders on their internal network from sniffing the data as it travels.

But even when companies encrypt data on their internal network, there are moments in the transaction process when the card data is exposed. During a brief period after the cards are first scanned, the account number and accompanying data sit in the POS system's memory unencrypted while the system determines where to send it for authorization. That's where the RAM scraper comes in.

Fully encrypted contactless payments can't come quickly enough.

Only 11 of the 71 brands (15%) in our research have registered across all four domains (or have them appear on the block/collision list): Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, BMW, Shell, Siemens, iPhone, Rolex, Chanel and Hermes.
56 of the 71 brands (79%) have at least one of their brand-related domains registered by a private individual that do not appear to be associated with the brand.
37 (52%) of the 71 brands have at least two registered by private individuals - suggesting that, despite the popularity of these gTLDs, over half of the brands will have to take defensive moves if they want to regain lost domains.
In the two generic TLDs, 4% of the domains are still available for registration, compared to 29%  in the geo-TLDs. A sign that third-party registrants are looking more towards generics when registering brand terms?

New gTLDs are a boon to registries and those looking to cybersquat, but seriously - when was the last time you used a .info or .aero site intentionally?

The unsealed indictment—which was returned by a federal grand jury in April—alleges that starting in 2011, the four men targeted Microsoft and stole "Log-In Credentials, Trade Secrets, and Intellectual Property pertaining to its Xbox gaming system," specifically the still-in-development Xbox One.

The four men also allegedly turned to Epic Games and used SQL injection attacks "and other incidents of unauthorized access" like stolen passwords to pilfer "unreleased software, source code, and middleware" from the upcoming Gears of War 3 title.

The indictment goes on to say that Valve, Activision, and Zombie Studios were also broken into by the four men throughout 2011. Then the men apparently tried to up their game. "Beginning in or about October 2012, the United States Department of the Army was the victim of unauthorized access to and trespass into one of its protected computer networks that resulted in the theft of confidential data valued at more than $5,000." A Department of Justice press release accused the men of stealing Apache helicopter training software built by Zombie Studios for the US Army.

Eventually, the lulz have to end.

The iPhone 6 uses a 4.7", 1334×750 LTPS (low temperature polysilicon) TFT LCD at 326 ppi (pixels per inch); the panel suppliers are LG Display, Japan Display and Sharp. The iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5", 1920×1080 LTPS TFT LCD at 400 ppi; the panel suppliers are LG Display and Japan Display. The iPhone 6 panels use several new technologies, such as:

• Negative IPS (in-plane-switching) liquid crystal mode, which enhances contrast ratio
• A thinner color filter with new green elements, which enhances color gamut
• An ultra-slim LGP (light guide plate) in the backlight unit, which reduces thickness
• Two-in-one LED chip package in the backlight unit for higher brightness
• New BEF (brightness enhancement film) structure that combines two films in one, which enables higher brightness and reduced thickness

The use of new technologies and materials in the iPhone 6 displays entail production challenges for the panel makers. Shipments of iPhone 6 panels started at the end of June, and panel makers have been working to improve production stability and yield rate.

The panel makers need to ramp up production quickly, as we estimate that Apple has ordered more than 100m iPhone 6 panels for 2014.

Details apart, there's a prominent name not in that list of panel suppliers - which has been the same since 2012.

Today we're introducing a brand new app to the Office portfolio. Say hello to Sway! Sway is an entirely different way to express yourself and bring your ideas to life. When your ideas are born, you want to explore, visualize and share them—quickly and easily, wherever you happen to be, and on whatever device you have. You want your ideas to be understood. Sway helps you do just that. It's a new way for you to create a beautiful, interactive, web-based expression of your ideas, from your phone or browser. It is easy to share your creation and it looks great on any screen. Your ideas have no borders, edges, page breaks, cells or slides. Your mind is a continuous canvas, and Sway brings this canvas to life. Sway helps you focus on the human part: your ideas and how they relate to each other. Sway takes care of the design work—a Sway is ready to share with the world as soon as it is born.  With today's announcement and Sway Preview, we are just starting our journey with Sway and want you to help us shape its future.

Hard to know if this is the next Google Wave or the new PowerPoint, but you'll definitely be sick of the word "sway" if you read all through the blogpost in one sitting. Invite-only at present.

Simon Parkin:

Depression Quest eschews the usual characteristics of most video games: there is no victorious ending and, as the developers warn in the preamble text, the game "is not meant to be a fun or light-hearted experience." It is, instead, one of a growing number of video games that hopes to broaden the medium's subject matter with depictions of life's darker aspects. That Dragon, Cancer, which will be released later this year, is an autobiographical game about living with a terminally ill child (David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, the director of "Call Me Kuchu," are filming a documentary about the Green family's journey while the game is in development). In Hush, you play a displaced Darfuri child trying to retrieve water while avoiding janjaweed militia patrols.

This group of games shares few similarities with Super Mario's spatial-reasoning puzzles and Call of Duty's shooting-gallery tests of reaction speed, typical attributes of video games that dominate the medium. Some of the hatred directed at Quinn has come from video-game enthusiasts who think that the darker themes are not suitable for video games, which they believe should be playful and primarily focussed on entertaining.

Rolls the whole topic (including #g_m_rg_t_) into one neat piece. Quinn has, you realise, been going through a quest of her own too.

The Lacoon Mobile Security research team has discovered a new mRAT it calls "Xsser mRAT." The Xsser mRAT specifically targets iOS devices, and is related to Android spyware already distributed broadly in Hong Kong.

A link to the Android spyware, disguised as an app to help coordinate Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong, was sent as an anonymous message to Whatsapp users there on Thursday. In its investigation of that spyware, Lacoon uncovered the Xsser mRAT hosted on the same Command and Control (CnC) domain with the project being named Xsser. Though called Xsser, this is not related to an XSS attack.


The iOS device needs to be jailbroken in order to be infected. Then with Cydia installed, the repository would be need to be added and then the package could be installed.

The "must be jailbroken" requirement may not be that unusual in Hong Kong and China. (The Android RAT doesn't require the device to have been rooted.) Lacoon reckons it's the work of a "nation state". See if you can think which nation states might want to spy on Hong Kong protesters...

Four years ago to the day, Microsoft sued Motorola over Android. A few days later, Motorola sued Apple. Disputes between Oracle and Google, Apple and HTC, as well as Nokia and Apple were already ongoing. In early October 2010 I decided to focus on smartphone patent disputes (as a blogger and as a consultant). I saw some key IP issues that had to be resolved, and I thought it would take about a year and a half for most of these to be sorted out. A year and a half is roughly the time an ITC investigation used to take.

48 months later, Motorola still hasn't taken an Android patent license from Microsoft, though more than two dozen other companies have. After more than 40 months of litigation, Samsung still hasn't paid Apple a cent. Nor has Motorola, which agreed on a ceasefire with Apple, but not on a license deal. And Oracle v. Google ceased to be patent dispute about two years ago when Oracle decided to rely exclusively on copyright, which worked out so well that Google is now on the losing track and will presumably file a last-resort petition with the Supreme Court next week.

In other words, the smartphone patent wars mostly achieved nothing except bad reputations and embarrassing court disclosures of internal documents. Though Microsoft has benefited handsomely from those licences - which earned more than Windows Phone licensing.

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