On iMessage Spam

Marco Tabini, writing for Macworld:

Is Apple’s iMessage the new favorite tool of spammers worldwide? A widely-quoted recent article written by Wired’s Robert McMillan suggests it is, even going so far as to claim that iMessage “is being taken over by spammers.”

Largely based on an interview with security analyst Tom Landesman, McMillan states that, thanks to a few enterprising fraudsters who have figured out a way to take advantage of Apple’s networks, iMessage accounts for some 30 percent of all mobile spam, and that the company’s efforts at stemming the onslaught of unwanted messages are moving too slowly to catch up with the spammers.

But is the problem really that dire? A closer look at the numbers suggests that the iMessage spampocalypse may be a ways off yet.

I’m lucky to not have gotten any spammy iMessages, but if I ever do I’ll be sure to report it to Apple.

On Christopher Thomas Knight

Michael Finkel for GQ, “The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit”:

When, said Perkins-Vance, was the last time he’d had contact with another person?

Sometime in the 1990s, answered Knight, he passed a hiker while walking in the woods.

“What did you say?” asked Perkins-Vance.

“I said, ‘Hi,’ ” Knight replied. Other than that single syllable, he insisted, he had not spoken with or touched another human being, until this night, for twenty-seven years.

I read this story last night, and was completely enthralled. It’s a fascinating piece; very well written too. And Maine winters — in remote parts of the state especially — seem brutal. I’m amazed Knight lived through them for almost 30 years.

Regarding Twitter Tweaking Users’ Timelines

Stephen Hackett, in response to Twitter’s decision to tweak users’ timelines with popular tweets:

My Twitter timeline is relevant and interesting to me because I set it up. Twitter’s genius is that people can build their own experiences; I don’t want an algorithm made by a hipster developer interfering with that.

One more reason to not use Twitter’s official app, despite the cool new stuff they’re experimenting with.

What drives me nuts is when I see retweets of tweets that I myself have already shared. I see this happening all the time: someone I follow tweets something cool, I retweet it, then see someone else I follow — who mutually follows that person — retweet that exact tweet, and I see it in my timeline. It drives me fucking crazy.

NFL Wants Super Bowl Acts to Pay to Perform

Sam Richmond, writing for FanSided:

The league is now asking potential acts for the 2015 halftime show if they would be willing to pay to perform, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal also reports that the NFL is down to three possible performers: Katy Perry, Rihanna and Coldplay.

Good luck with that.

On #Ferguson

David Carr, writing for the New York Times:

For people in the news business, Twitter was initially viewed as one more way to promote and distribute content. But as the world has become an ever more complicated place — a collision of Ebola, war in Iraq, crisis in Ukraine and more — Twitter has become an early warning service for news organizations, a way to see into stories even when they don’t have significant reporting assets on the ground. And in a situation hostile to traditional reporting, the crowdsourced, phone-enabled network of information that Twitter provides has proved invaluable.

[...]

News organizations learned about the arrest and harassment of their reporters on Twitter and were able to take steps to get them out of jail. In the meantime, important information continues to flow out of Ferguson. As much as any traditional wire service, Twitter spread the remarkable work of David Carson, a photographer at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch who managed to take pictures despite being pushed around by both the police and the protesters.

There is a visceral quality to Twitter that can bring stories to a boiling point. Ron Mott, an NBC correspondent and a social media skeptic, watched Twitter turn up the heat on Wednesday and tweeted, “As powerful as our press have been through years of our democracy, social media raises temp on public officials like never before.”

My timeline as of late is just full of tweets about the situation in Ferguson, and rightfully so. The behavior of the police department there is reprehensible; citizens and journalists alike are being unfairly oppressed. This shit needs to stop.

As for Twitter, I’ve long maintained that it’s become a invaluable source of news for me; it’s where I get the majority of breaking news — in fact, I learned of Robin Williams’s suicide last week via retweets. I think the news aspect is the main reason for my spending so much time in Tweetbot on my iOS devices (particularly on my iPhone): I check my feed constantly out of fear that I’ll miss something important, and I don’t want that. (For context’s sake, you need only to read this piece I wrote a few years ago to see just how dramatically my views on Twitter have changed. It’s incredible.)

See also: this story by Matthew Panzarino for TechCrunch on how Twitter affects live coverage of sports, framed in context of this year’s World Cup. It’s a great complement to Carr’s piece.

(via John Gruber)

‘The Most Fascinating Profile You’ll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup’

Mat Honan for Wired, in a good profile of Slack founder Stewart Butterfield:

Slack is so beloved that some companies have begun mentioning it as an employment perk alongside on-site massages and bottomless bacon-tray Fridays in their job listings. Like: We have a dry cleaning service, an ice cream parlor, and… Slack.

We at Constellation.fm have used Slack for a while now, and it’s great.

(via Daring Fireball)

Andrew Kim’s Leica T Review

Kim writes for Minimally Minimal:

To truly understand the T, you have to fit into the type of photographer that the camera really aimed at. You have to know what you’re doing but the camera is also going to be underpowered for a pro. It’s a niche product for a specific consumer but also aesthetic preference. If you like smooth, neutral images over purely detailed, plastic ones and hate dealing with ugly, complex interfaces, this may be the camera for you. It sure is for me.

An effusive review of an absolutely beautiful (and expensive) camera, replete with stunning photos.

(via Shawn Blanc)

‘He Shared With Her His Firmest Handshake, Like I Taught Him’

Paul Ford, “How to Be Polite”:

Politeness buys you time. It leaves doors open. I’ve met so many people whom, if I had trusted my first impressions, I would never have wanted to meet again. And yet — many of them are now great friends. I have only very rarely touched their hair.

Great read.

(via Daring Fireball)

‘Stop Being a Tourist’

Thomas Ricker, writing for The Verge:

I consider “tourist” to be the filthiest of words. It’s the curse I grumble when caught behind pedestrians walking without purpose on big-city sidewalks. But I differentiate between explorer and tourist: the former being someone that travels to an unfamiliar place to learn about it, the latter a barbaric asshat driven by the desire to document his very existence. The “I was here” photographer with a penchant for flashing a peace sign.

I’ve lived here in the Bay Area my entire life, but only have I lived in San Francisco a few months. In that time, though, I feel like I’ve gotten to know a lot about the city as if I were a native San Franciscan. I’m even able to tell a tourist from a local, for the most part. My girlfriend and her mom have worked a lot to acclimate me to the city, and I feel like I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge in a short period of time. I’m comfortable with navigating our Richmond neighborhood on my own, as well as taking the bus through Golden Gate Park and to downtown.

Speaking of the bus, SF Gate has a nice slideshow on the best Muni routes for seeing San Francisco. I’ve been on a few of these lines, and have seen most of them around town. Paying $2 to tour the city via public transit sure beats paying more for a ticket on those ginormous tour buses that are all over the place.

Apple Publishes Company Diversity Numbers

Tim Cook, in a statement regarding Apple’s diversity statistics:

Inclusion and diversity have been a focus for me throughout my time at Apple, and they’re among my top priorities as CEO. I’m proud to work alongside the many senior executives we’ve hired and promoted in the past few years, including Eddy Cue and Angela Ahrendts, Lisa Jackson and Denise Young-Smith. The talented leaders on my staff come from around the world, and they each bring a unique point of view based on their experience and heritage. And our board of directors is stronger than ever with the addition of Sue Wagner, who was elected in July.

I receive emails from customers around the world, and a name that comes up often is Kim Paulk. She’s a Specialist at the Apple Store on West 14th Street in Manhattan. Kim has a medical condition that has impaired her vision and hearing since she was a child. Our customers rave about Kim’s service, and they say she embodies the best characteristics of Apple. Her guide dog, Gemma, is affectionately known around the store as the “seeing iDog.”

As I tweeted, I’d love to see more tech companies — Apple included — to share more data on employees with disabilities as well. Inclusion and diversity is more than about race and women; people with disabilities matter too.

Be sure to watch the video at the top of Apple’s page on diversity. Great stuff.