Steve Jobs would have given iOS 11’s design an ‘F’

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Apple’s newest mobile operating system, iOS 11, comes out today, and Steve Jobs probably would’ve been super pissed if he were still alive.

HackerNoon’s Ryan Lau has posted a comprehensive breakdown that calls attention to all the ways iOS 11’s design is flawed. From misaligned titles and margins to inconsistent design elements, it would appear Apple’s slipped up on the details.

For almost everybody (including myself), you probably wouldn’t notice the tiny things Lau highlights in his story.

He points out things like how the titles aren’t perfectly aligned with the search bar in apps like Mail and Notes, and how the Watch app’s dark color scheme isn’t consistent with any of Apple’s other apps. He also points out other small details like the search bar bumping up against the status bar.

But these are all things designers who pride themselves on sweating the little details do actually notice and care about. And it bothers them greatly. These are literally the types of flaws that keep designers at night. In other words, Steve Jobs, a known perfectionist who always paid attention to the smallest details, wouldn’t have let this slip by him.

Jobs, himself a huge design nerd, was famous for caring about things nobody else would notice.

Jobs, who was a self-professed design nerd, was famous for caring about the types of details nobody else would notice.

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back,” he famously said in his official biography. “For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

He obsessed over calligraphy and typography and applied the balance of all of these things into Apple’s software. 

In 2008, Jobs called up Vic Gundotra, ex-Vice President of Engineering at Google, who was attending religious services to complain about a design error… in the Google logo. 

Per Gundotra’s Google+ post on the tale:

“So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I’ve already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow” said Steve. 

“I’ve been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I’m not happy with the icon. The second O in Google doesn’t have the right yellow gradient. It’s just wrong and I’m going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?”

Yes, Jobs freaked out over a shade of yellow that was wrong on somebody else’s logo. That was the high standard he held Apple to.

These imperfections could very well get patched up in upcoming updates to iOS 11, but mark our words, he never would’ve let this happen on his watch.

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Wikileaks Publishes “Spy Files Russia” Detailing Russia’s Mass Surveillance System

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Perhaps in an attempt to refute recurring allegations that it has traditionally focused on exposing only US state secrets, if not being an outright covert and subversive Moscow front, today Wikileaks released a new cache of documents which it claims detail surveillance apparatus used by the Russian state to spy on Internet and mobile users. It’s the first time the organization has leaked material directly pertaining to the Russian state.

The full datadump can be found here.

In its summary of the cache of mostly Russian-language documents, Wikileaks claims they show how a long-established Russian company which supplies software to telcos is also installing infrastructure – with the government’s blessing – that enables Russian state agencies to tap into, search and spy on citizens’ digital activity, suggesting a similar state-funded mass surveillance program to the one utilized by the U.S.’s NSA or by GCHQ in the U.K. (both of which were detailed in the 2013 Snowden disclosures).

And speaking of, shortly following the publication, another famous whistleblower, one also exiled and currently residing in Russia, Edward Snowden tweeted "Plot twist: @Wikileaks publishes details on Russia’s increasingly oppressive internet surveillance industry."

To be sure, arguments have already broken out on Twitter suggesting that Wikileaks/Assange is trying to deflect from charges that it is a front for the Kremlin by finally dumping "something" on Russia. (see this tweet comment thread as one example). Making matters more complicated, it’s not possible at this point to verify the value or veracity of the latest Wikileaks document release.

The documents published today by Wikileaks (there are just 34 “base documents” in this leak) relate to a St. Petersburg-based company, called Peter-Service, which it claims is a contractor for Russian state surveillance. According to Tech Crunch, the company was set up in 1992 to provide billing solutions before going on to become a major supplier of software to the mobile telecoms industry.

Wikileaks writes:

The technologies developed and deployed by PETER-SERVICE today go far beyond the classical billing process and extend into the realms of surveillance and control. Although compliance to the strict surveillance laws is mandatory in Russia, rather than being forced to comply PETER-SERVICE appears to be quite actively pursuing partnership and commercial opportunities with the state intelligence apparatus.

 

As a matter of fact PETER-SERVICE is uniquely placed as a surveillance partner due to the remarkable visibility their products provide into the data of Russian subscribers of mobile operators, which expose to PETER-SERVICE valuable metadata, including phone and message records, device identifiers (IMEI, MAC addresses), network identifiers (IP addresses), cell tower information and much more. This enriched and aggregated metadata is of course of interest to Russian authorities, whose access became a core component of the system architecture.

One of Wikileaks’ media partners for the release, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that the documents cover “an extended timespan from 2007 to June 2015”, and describes the contents as “extremely technical”. It also caveats that the documents do not mention Russia’s spy agency, the FSB, but rather “speak only of state agencies”, a formula it asserts “certainly includes law enforcement, who use metadata for legal interception”. It also says the documents do “not clarify what other state apparatus accesses those data through the solution of the St. Petersburg company”.

Wikileaks says that under Russia law operators must maintain a Data Retention System (DRS), which can store data for up to three years. La Repubblica reports that Peter-Service’s DRS stores telephone traffic data and “allows Russian state agencies to query the database of all stored data in search of information” — which it specifies can include calls made by a certain telephone company’s customer; payment systems used; the cell phone number to which a user is calling.

“The manuals published by WikiLeaks contain the images of interfaces that allow you to search within these huge data fields, so access is simple and intuitive,” it adds.

Some technical details:

  • According to Wikileaks, Peter-Service’s DRS solution can handle 500,000,000 connections per day in one cluster. While the claimed average search time for subscriber related-records from a single day is ten seconds. “State intelligence authorities use the Protocol 538 adapter built into the DRS to access stored information,” it adds.
  • Peter-Service has also apparently developed a tool called TDM (Traffic Data Mart) — which allows the database to be queried to determine “where users’ data traffic is stored in order to understand visited sites, forums, social media”, as well as how much time is spent on a certain site and the electronic device used to access it.
  • Wikileaks describes TDM as “a system that records and monitors IP traffic for all mobile devices registered with the operator”,  and says it maintains a list of categorized domain names — “which cover all areas of interest for the state. These categories include blacklisted sites, criminal sites, blogs, webmail, weapons, botnet, narcotics, betting, aggression, racism, terrorism and many more”.
  • “Based on the collected information the system allows the creation of reports for subscriber devices (identified by IMEI/TAC, brand, model) for a specified time range: Top categories by volume, top sites by volume, top sites by time spent, protocol usage (browsing, mail, telephony, bittorrent) and traffic/time distribution,” it adds.

Wikileaks points to a 2013 Peter-Service slideshow presentation (it says this also appears to be publicly available on the company’s website), which it claims is targeted not at telco customers but at state entities such as Russia’s FSB and Interior Ministry (despite this document apparently being in the public domain) — in which the company focuses on a new product, called DPI*GRID; which it says is a hardware device for Deep Packet Inspection that takes the form of “black boxes” apparently able to handle 10Gb/s traffic per unit.

Wikileaks adds that “the national providers are aggregating Internet traffic in their infrastructure and are redirecting/duplicating the full stream to DPI*GRID units. The units inspect and analyse traffic (the presentation does not describe that process in much detail); the resulting metadata and extracted information are collected in a database for further investigation. A similar, yet smaller solution called MDH/DRS is available for regional providers who send aggregated IP traffic via a 10Gb/s connection to MDH for processing.”

Wikileaks also makes a point of noting that the presentation was written “just a few months after Edward Snowden disclosed the NSA mass surveillance program and its cooperation with private U.S. IT-corporations such as Google and Facebook”.

“Drawing specifically on the NSA Prism program, the presentation offers law enforcement, intelligence and other interested parties, to join an alliance in order to establish equivalent data-mining operations in Russia,” it adds — sticking its boot firmly back into U.S. government mass surveillance programs.

The full release can be found here.

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A 40-year study finds Generation Z is avoiding sex, alcohol, and driving like never before

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gen z teenagers

Today’s teenagers don’t seem to care much about hitting the open road, scoring a six-pack with a fake ID, or asking their peers out on dates.

According to a new study from psychologists Jean Twenge and Heejung Park, teenagers instead prefer to sit at home, say no to drugs and alcohol, and scroll through a litany of social media apps.

The study, published in the journal Child Development, analyzed survey responses from 8.3 million teenagers given between 1976 and 2016. Overwhelmingly, today’s teens were found to be less likely to drive, work for pay, go on dates, have sex, or go out without their parents.

"This isn’t just about parenting," Twenge told Business Insider. "It’s also about teens themselves and the economy and fertility rates and people living longer."

Of course, since the study’s conclusions are based on personal survey responses, the findings may not apply broadly to all of Gen Z. There are also bound to be members of the generation for whom the traits don’t apply, as with any demographic study.

But Twenge chalked the findings up to an overall shift in the way society has operated. She is the author of "iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood." The book explores the conditions in which today’s youth are being raised. Contrary to popular belief, Twenge said, teens aren’t lazy or square — they’re a product of their environment like every other generation.

In the mid-20th-century, she said, people adopted what evolutionary psychologists call a "fast-life strategy." Lifespans were shorter, work was more imperative, and so kids grew up relatively quickly without as much supervision from their parents. By the year 2000, though, the US had taken up a "slow-life strategy." People were living longer, resources were more abundant, and people started raising their kids to stay kids longer.

Because there seems to be less of a need for modern teens to become adults, Twenge and Park’s research suggests that today’s 18-year-old more closely resembles a 15-year-old of the 1970s or ’80s.

However, one of the most disturbing characteristics of Generation Z, or "iGen" in Twenge’s parlance, is that suicide rates have now surpassed homicide rates. Twenge believes smartphones may play a crucial role. Gen Z is the first generation to be raised according to this slow-life strategy as smart phones became prominent. (Its members, after all, are the first to have no concept of life without the internet.) Instead of working or playing outside, teens are more likely to feel isolated and tethered to their devices.

"Today’s teens may go to fewer parties and spend less time together in person, but when they do congregate, they document their hangouts relentlessly — on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook," Twenge wrote recently in The Atlantic. "Those not invited to come along are keenly aware of it."

But getting rid of smartphones shouldn’t be parents’ first goal if they want to safeguard their kids’ mental health. As per the study’s findings, Twenge said the first goal should be encouraging independence. If kids are more concerned with working or getting involved in their community, they’ll naturally have less idle time to fill with their smartphone.

At the same time, not all of Gen Z’s traits are problems that need to be solved, she said, like the lower incidences of drinking and sex.

"Let’s have those go to zero," she said. "That would be just fine."

SEE ALSO: 26-year-old ‘echo boomers’ are running wild in America — here’s what they’re all about

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here’s where the most hate crimes occur in the US — it’s not where you think

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Proof of Space: BitTorrent Creator Publishes Eco-Friendly Mining Paper

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BitTorrent developer Bram Cohen has published a new white paper that envisions an eco-friendly alternative to bitcoin’s energy-intensive proof-of-work computational process.

Dubbed “proof-of-space,” the method relies on disk space rather than computational power as the main resource for mining (the process by which new transactions are added to a blockchain) creating what is claimed to be a less ecologically damaging and more economical alternative to proof-of-work.

Cohen spoke to CoinDesk back in March about his efforts to develop the solution, work that set the stage for this week’s white paper release.

The paper, “Beyond Hellman’s Time-Memory Trade-Offs with Applications to Proofs of Space,” outlines the use of proof-of-space to establish a mining process that requires less energy (and the natural resources to produce it). Because of the reduction in energy requirements, as well as the reliance on pre-existing hardware, the proposed method is aimed at making mining accessible to anyone with a computer.

As the paper explains:

“The idea is to use disk space rather than computation as the main resource for mining. As millions of users have a significant amount of unused disk space available (on laptops etc.), dedicating this space towards securing a blockchain would result in almost no waste of resources.”

Under the proof-of-space system, miners allocate some of their unused disk space to the network, with the probability of successfully mining a block being proportional to the amount of space allocated divided by the total capacity of the network.

In addition to Cohen, the white paper credits Hamza Abusalah, Joël Alwen and Krzysztof Pietrzak from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Danylo Khilko from ENS Paris and Leonid Reyzin from Boston University as authors.

It still remains to be seen, however, whether the paper will serve as the basis for a new cryptocurrency, with Cohen telling CoinDesk in March that he doesn’t see much need to create a new one.

“For the most part there shouldn’t be the need [to launch new coins],” he said, adding:

“But I have this idea about underlying mining and how it works that does make it inherently different.”

Hard disks image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

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