The Speed-So-High Edition Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Little-known iPhone Feature That Lets Blind People See With Their Fingers, by David Pogue, Yahoo

A few years ago, backstage at a conference, I spotted a blind woman using her phone. The phone was speaking everything her finger touched on the screen, allowing her to tear through her apps. My jaw hit the floor. After years of practice, she had cranked the voice’s speed so high, I couldn’t understand a word it was saying.

And here’s the kicker: She could do all of this with the screen turned off. Her phone’s battery lasted forever.

Ever since that day, I’ve been like a kid at a magic show. I’ve wanted to know how it’s done. I’ve wanted an inside look at how the blind could navigate a phone that’s basically a slab of featureless glass.

The Surprising, Creepy Things Algorithms Can Glean About You From Photos, by Andreas Weigend, Slate

Many of the algorithms being developed will improve our lives—helping us to make better decisions about our personal relationships, work lives, and health by alerting us to signals we are not yet aware of. The problem comes when others have access to this data, too, and make decisions about us based on them, potentially without our knowledge.

Taking a photo or video in public isn’t illegal, nor is taking one with a person’s permission. It’s also not illegal to upload the file or store it in the cloud. Applying optical character recognition, facial recognition, or a super-resolution algorithm isn’t illegal, either. There’s simply no place for us to hide anymore.

Post CIA Leak, Intel Security Releases EFI Rootkit Detection Tool, by IDG News Service

Intel Security has released a tool that allows users to check if their computer’s low-level system firmware has been modified and contains unauthorised code.

The release comes after CIA documents leaked Tuesday revealed that the agency has developed Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) rootkits for Apple’s Macbooks. A rootkit is a malicious program that runs with high privileges, typically in the kernel, and hides the existence of other malicious components and activities.


iOS Podcast Apps Review Roundup: Castro 2.3, Overcast 3, And Pocket Casts 6.5, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Each of these three alternatives to Apple’s Podcast app has its strengths, and unlike some app categories, in which many apps produce similar results, you can examine the differences to figure out which appeals most to you.

For some people, Castro lacking any silence-slicing option is a non-starter. While I love that feature in Overcast, the podcast app I used the longest, Castro 2’s triage feature won me over and I cope with a few extra seconds here and there.

Because each of these apps is made by independent developers, teams that range from one person to a handful, your suggestions for features to add are more likely to be taken seriously, and each new release from these companies reference the most-asked-for changes and additions that their users want.

Overcast 3 Review: iOS Podcast App Adds A Queue And Perks Up Its Interface, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

Overcast 3 is the final icing on a cake that’s been perfected over three years. All of the tiny flaws coupled with the inability to create a simple queue have been reworked. Improvements at this point are only about massaging the app rather than achieving a new apotheosis.

Food Genie Review: The Perfect Restaurant Selection Tool, by Jake Underwood, MacStories

Food Genie cuts the unnecessary back-and-forth by offering random suggestions based on criteria set by the user. Through location data, restaurant identification and a spinning wheel of food, your next set of weekend dinner plans can be a lot less stressful.


Inside The Cruellest RollerCoaster Tycoon Park Ever Created, by Wesley Yin-Poole, Eurogamer

Beverley P is stuck in a maze. She's spent the last 50 years toiling away near its entrance. Starving, thirsty and exhausted, Beverley ekes out a desperate, endless existence, alone and without hope. If she were able to talk, she might whisper: "kill me".

Regina F. managed to make it past Checkpoint 1, and is currently circling Checkpoint 2. 47 years after she began her journey through the maze, there is a sliver of hope that she may find the exit. But she still has a long way to go; there are five checkpoints in total. Miserable, exhausted and desperate for a drink, Regina soldiers on. Maybe, in another 50 years, she'll have reached the half-way point.

Is this the most evil RollerCoaster Tycoon creation ever? Probably.

These Failed Apps Discovered A Hidden Rule Of The Web, by Miranda Katz, Backchannel

At their height, Secret and similarly anonymous apps like Yik Yak and Whisper were hailed as the future of social media — an antidote to the real-name controversies on Facebook and the highly polished, hyper-curated look of Instagram. Anonymous apps harkened back to the bare-bones message boards that brought early internet culture to life, but reinvented them for the social network age. Yet despite a collective $200 million in funding, anonymity has remained a kind of kryptonite for social apps. The reason is simple: An online social network serves one purpose, to connect people. Without names attached, people’s words become either mean — or meaningless.

Breaking Down The Father On BBC Being Interrupted By His Children, by Ben Thompson, Medium

I’m sure there are plenty of videos that have gone viral faster, but given that my Twitter feed is a mix of journalists, tech analysts, and NBA folks, there seemed to be a special resonance to a video of a father in South Korea commenting on the removal of once-President Park Geun-hye, only to be interrupted on live TV by his kids breaking into his home office.

If I might say so myself, I am uniquely qualified to break this video down: I’ve been on TV from a home office, I have children, and, crucially, I am a man (who like Robert E Kelly, our protagonist, lives in Asia). As you will see, that is the key to understanding how this went down.