this is scary
Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart
An 18-year-old Chinese woman was reportedly electrocuted to death after her iPhone 4S charger exploded while she was sleeping.
Her sister made the tragic discovery after she smelled plastic burning in her sister’s room, Shanghaiist reports. When she walked into the room, she found a melted iPhone next to her and several burns across her legs, hands and neck. Medical experts confirmed that she died of electrocution.
Apple in Your Eye
Attendees at the EuSecWest-sponsored World Security Professional Summit in Amsterdam are participating in a contest called Mobile Pwn2Own. Contestants are, yes, basically revealing that our mobile devices can be easily pwned by someone with the know-how. Quell your bubbling phone fanboy or fangirl rage right now: it looks like both Androids and iPhones are vulnerable. The Next Web describes the Android pwnage, which was partially done, by the way, via near-field communication, or NFC:
One Phone to Rule Them All
Was it really only yesterday that we watched with muted glee as Apple fanboys everywhere lost their shit over a phone that is only mildly different from its now much cheaper predecessor? My, how time flies.
The iPhone 5 is slightly lighter and slightly longer than the iPhone 4s, but apparently even Apple fans can’t really discern the difference. Jimmy Kimmel brought an iPhone 4s out on the streets of Los Angeles and told everyone he encountered that it was an iPhone 5.
Flickr just released its quarterly stats report, which reveals a few fun facts. Did you know that there are now 7.2 billion photos on Flickr, with users uploading 2,500 new photos a minute? Did you know that there are 228,207,499 Creative Commons-licensed photos on Flickr?
Most interesting, though, were the stats about camera choices among Flickr’s community. The most popular camera is the iPhone 4, followed by the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, followed by the iPhone 4S, followed by the Canon EOS Rebel T2I and Nikon D90.
That’s a lot of play for the iPhone 4’s 5-megapixel camera and the iPhone 4S’s 8-megapixel camera on a site that attracts a lot of professional photographers as well as amateurs who take themselves pretty seriously.
IN WHICH APPLE FIXES SOMETHING
Zooey Deschanel’s girlish wiles have been used to hawk everything from cotton to cosmetics in the past. But now Apple is employing the hipster darling to sell you on the notion of upgrading to a robotic assistant on that computer in your pocket. So what if the iPhone 4S doesn’t have 4G, did you see those lashes??
While we refuse to believe Ms. Deschanel’s apartment is anything but the paragon of DIY domesticity (she uses Siri to remind her to clean), rest of the spot goes for the obvious signifiers of the star’s retrograde appeal (i.e. Elvis and all-American comfort food).
On Tuesday, we noted that while iPhone voice-activated assistant Siri can’t help you find an abortion clinic in New York City—once called The Abortion Capital of America by New York magazine—it can help you find a gun store downtown, in a city with some of the most restrictive gun controls in the country. Apple didn’t respond to our query of why this was, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has finally spoken on the matter.
Megan Carpentier of Raw Story recently noted that Siri is having trouble telling users where to find abortion clinics, and not about abortion clinics in the middle of the Bible Belt, or in the frozen tundra of Alaska. We’re talking about places like New York City and Washington D.C. which, as you can imagine, might have a few of these places. We wanted to test this theory out. Maybe Siri just isn’t a fan of Megan’s? Or maybe Siri is being moody.
Know what we found?
AI Phone Home
Did you go out and early-adopt yourself a new phone with a capricious new ladyfriend who talks dirty to you when you push the right buttons (literally)? Well, about your new investment: it sucks. Technically speaking, it’s the speakers. They’re broken, and they were probably delivered to you that way.
The Tao of Steve
Jordan Mechner, creator of the wildly-popular Prince of Persia video game, had a rather genius idea this week.
“Since I got my iPhone 4S, I’ve been intrigued, fascinated and alarmed by Siri’s fast-growing capabilities. I thought it would make sense to introduce her to my psychotherapist, Eliza,” Mr. Mechner blogged.
AI historians know Eliza better as a computer program, written by MIT’s Joseph Weizenbaum in the mid-60’s, that was one of the first examples of natural language processing. True obsessives would also note that Eliza failed the Turing Test, which means it isn’t actually artificially intelligent. Rather it uses pattern-recognition to processes users responses to scripts, most famously DOCTOR, which simulates a Rogerian pyschotherapist. (Guess Freud fell out of favor in the 60s?)
Business Insider put up a post today introducing folks to Wolfram Alpha, the “mind-blowing intelligence service that powers Siri.” How quickly the kids forget!
Wolfram Alpha actually went live back in 2009, and roughly oh about 98.7 percent of the press at the time had some version of WOLFRAM ALPHA: GOOGLE KILLER WHA??!!!. That’s because Wolfram Alpha bypassed scanning keywords for natural language search.This was before Ashton Kutcher invested in Blekko, before Steve Ballmer even previewed Bing online.