App Store rewards “crap” apps – and developer


A software engineer who wrote what he calls a “terrible” and “crap” app in less time than it typically takes to eat lunch has since watched it shoot to the top of Apple’s App Store, where it’s now generating over $200 an hour despite being a free download.

22-year-old High Gloss has worked on more than 20 other iPhone apps for an iPhone software developer…In just 20 minutes, he wrote Sound Grenade, which is currently listed third under the top free apps, in the wild card category of “Utilities”.

The goal of my app was to create a tool for people to annoy others,” Gloss wrote in a blog entry at his website. He set a one-hour time limit to write and upload it to Apple. “The end product was Sound Grenade, which is a really terrible app, one button turns a sound on or off, period. For 20 minutes’ work, I thought it would be interesting to take the ride.”

“You can imagine my shock when I checked the App Store page on the first day to see 50 glowing reviews. Two days later, another 50 reviews. Five days later, Sound Grenade is in the top ten free apps almost everywhere in the world.”

Gloss said he’s troubled by how popular “crap” can be on the App Store, calling it “a sad state of where the world seems to be at.” However, he still had high praise for the App Store concept. “I really enjoy the App Store, I think it is amazing,” the New Zealand-based programmer said. “If you know what you’re looking for, you can find an app and download it either paid or free in a very minimal amount of time from almost anywhere in the world.”

At first, Sound Grenade was completely free. Once it entered the Top 50, High said he decided to switch to an ad-supported model. Now, after processing a million ad requests in 24 hours, the app is generating upwards of $200 per hour in clickthrough revenue.

I love his final quote: “Every idea that I don’t do, for being too rubbish or stupid, could have been in the top 100.”

Peak viewing time for porn? Sunday morning. WTF?

Analysis of viewing figures shows peak demand for FilmOn’s “naughty movies” was around 11AM on Sunday.

By contrast, internet analysts Hitwise found that usage of video sites peaked on Sundays but more traditional adult sites experienced a dip.

Sundays, it said, was the top day for visits to internet shopping and social networking sites.

Explaining the film viewing data, Alki David, founder of FilmOn, said: “The data applies to both men and women and it certainly poses the question about what has happened to the traditional ‘day of rest’ in Great Britain.”

Different genres of downloaded videos peaked on different days; “family viewing” films experienced a peak on Wednesdays, while sport-related titles showed a Saturday spike in sales.

This chimes with Hitwise’s figures across all sport-related sites, which have a pronounced peak on Saturdays around 50% higher than any other day of the week. This, according to Hitwise research director Robin Goad, is likely driven by football fans.

I think the wife and kids have gone to church or to visit gran – and dad’s left home alone “to catch up with what’s on the Web”.

Great Britain’s snigger-worthy place names

When ordering things by telephone, Stewart Pearce tends to take a proactive approach to the inevitable question: “What is your address?”

He lays it out straight, so there is no room for unpleasant confusion. “I say, ‘It’s spelled ‘crap,’ as in crap,”‘ said Pearce, 61, who has lived in Crapstone, a one-shop country village in Dartmoor, for decades.

In the scale of embarrassing place names, Crapstone ranks pretty high. But Britain is full of them. Some are mostly amusing, like Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worchestershire; and Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire.

Others evoke images that may conflict with the efforts of residents to appear dignified when, for example, opening bank accounts.

These include Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; and Thong, Kent. And, in a country that delights in lavatorial humor, particularly if the word “bottom” is involved, there is Pratts Bottom, in Kent, doubly cursed because “prat” is slang for buffoon…

“Sniggering at double entendres is a loved and time-honored tradition in this country,” Carol Midgley wrote in The Times of London. Alluding to a slang word for “idiot,” she added: “Half the reason for traveling to the Orkney Islands is to get your photo taken next to the road sign for Twatt.”

I’m as guilty as anyone else when it comes to schoolyard double-entendre. I think I’ve given up on most of what I’ve photographed over the years and returned to a New Mexico specialty, road and street signs with amusing grammatical and spelling errors.

Cosmic Rays deep underground reveal secrets of upper atmosphere

Cosmic-rays detected half a mile underground in a disused U.S. iron-mine can be used to detect major weather events occurring 20 miles up in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, a new study has revealed.

This remarkable study shows how the number of high-energy cosmic-rays reaching a detector deep underground, closely matches temperature measurements in the upper atmosphere (known as the stratosphere). For the first time, scientists have shown how this relationship can be used to identify weather events that occur very suddenly in the stratosphere during the Northern Hemisphere winter. These events can have a significant effect on the severity of winters we experience, and also on the amount of ozone over the poles – being able to identify them and understand their frequency is crucial for informing our current climate and weather-forecasting models to improve predictions.

What they observed was a strikingly close relationship between the cosmic-rays and stratospheric temperature – this they could understand: the cosmic-rays, known as muons are produced following the decay of other cosmic rays, known as mesons. Increasing the temperature of the atmosphere expands the atmosphere so that fewer mesons are destroyed on impact with air, leaving more to decay naturally to muons. Consequently, if temperature increases so does the number of muons detected.

Continue reading

Pope’s march to the Right includes Holocaust-denying bishop

“Bacon sandwiches for everyone!”
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

The Vatican said the pope issued a decree lifting the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops who were thrown out of the Roman Catholic Church in 1988 for being ordained without Vatican permission.

The four bishops lead the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), which has about 600,000 members and rejected modernizations of Roman Catholic worship and doctrine…

One of the four bishops, the British-born Richard Williamson, has made a number of statements denying the full extent of the Nazi Holocaust of European Jews, as accepted by mainstream historians.

In comments to Swedish television broadcast Wednesday, he said “I believe there were no gas chambers” and only up to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, instead of 6 million…

Pope Benedict has already made several gestures of reconciliation to the schismatic group, including allowing the unconditional return of the old-style Latin Mass.

That move also angered Jews because the ceremony includes a Good Friday prayer for their conversion.

The rationales for Williamson’s bigotry and foolishness are the same as for any similar sophistry denying historic fact and record. The crime now extends to a Pope who would rather have his followers paying dues – than leading anyone to an understanding of horrific crime.

Transition to Capitalism in Russia killed millions

Daylife/AP Photo by Tom Mihalek

Rapid and widespread privatization in several former states of the Soviet Union and post-Communist East European countries in the early 1990s contributed to rising mortality rates, particularly in Russia, according to a study.

The report…vary from country to country, depending on the pace of privatization, the official response to unemployment and the level of support from social organizations.

They wrote that “rapid mass privatization as an economic transition strategy was a crucial determinant of differences in adult mortality trends in post-communist societies.” The effect of privatization, they added, was “reduced if social capital was high. These findings might be relevant to other countries in which similar policies are being considered.”

The report asserts that in the early to mid-1990s in countries undergoing post-Soviet transformation, there were more than three million premature deaths and the region lost at least 10 million adult males. Even though the governmental and economic transitions occurred nearly two decades ago, “only a little over half of the ex-communist countries have regained their pre-transition life-expectancy levels.”

The contrast between Russia and other countries – notably the Czech Republic and Poland – is striking because Poland was one of first East European countries to introduce the “shock therapy” model, which aimed to speed up the transition from a centralized state-run economy to a capitalist one. Despite the immense upheaval, it did not lead to higher mortality rates, possibly because of strong social institutions but also because Poles could emigrate or rely on the large Polish diaspora to support them.

In the Czech Republic, mass privatization was handled on an enterprise-by-enterprise basis and in a more measured way than in Russia, which underwent sweeping, nontransparent privatization. The impacts were entirely different.

I saved this one for the weekend. You may have a bit more time to reflect upon history and politics.

I think Russians would have been better served if Gorbachev listened to peers like Deng Xiaoping instead of Esalen Institute dreamweavers and rote cowboys like Aganbegyan. The former certainly understood the fragility of a war-level transition. The latter two still are stuck into John Wayne politics and magic bullets.

Society and economics are more complex than stolid ideologues ever seem to imagine – whether they be Stalinists or neocons. I had arguments about transitions to a market economy from the time of Leontiev until well after the first of Deng’s historic experiments. They were no less confrontational than trying to get a Bible Belt Republican to comprehend Keynes 101. Or evolution.

RTFA. Track down the original report [I haven’t – yet] and read that and wander through the details. It’s certainly hard, though, to deny mortality statistics.

Implants trigger immune system response against tumors

Bioengineers at Harvard University have shown that small plastic disks impregnated with tumor-specific antigens and implanted under the skin can reprogram the mammalian immune system to attack tumors.

The research — which rid 90 percent of mice of an aggressive form of melanoma that would usually kill the rodents within 25 days — represents the most effective demonstration to date of a cancer vaccine.

Harvard’s David J. Mooney and colleagues describe the research in the current issue of the journal Nature Materials.

“Our immune systems work by recognizing and attacking foreign invaders, allowing most cancer cells — which originate inside the body — to escape detection,” says Mooney… “This technique, which redirects the immune system from inside the body, appears to be easier and more effective than other approaches to cancer vaccination.”

The implants developed by Mooney and colleagues are slender disks measuring 8.5 millimeters across. Made of an FDA-approved biodegradable polymer, they can be inserted subcutaneously, much like the implantable contraceptives that can be placed in a woman’s arm…

The implants could also be loaded with bacterial or viral antigens to safeguard against an array of infectious diseases. They could even redirect the immune system to combat autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, which occurs when immune cells attack insulin-producing pancreatic cells.

Bravo! Another means and method of attacking killer disease. This one is so logical as to be confounding. Why hasn’t someone tried this approach before? How many pathogens might be defeated in this manner?

Flotsam timber washes ashore in Kent – insurers whinge

Police and coastguards today feared a repeat of the chaotic scenes of scavenging when the container ship Napoli ran aground in 2007, after “a massive amount of timber” lost from a Russian ship started to wash up on the Kent coast…

The majority of the wood is still strewn in a seven-mile timber slick in the Channel. Some may eventually be washed up as far north as the Essex coast, the agency said.

Insurers for the ship have appointed contractors to recover the wood. They are working alongside teams from Thanet council to remove the washed-up wood. It has been gathered into piles and is guarded by police.

It’s flotsam, folks. Coppers have no grounds for arrest.

The Dover coastguard watch manager, Gordon Wise, urged beachcombers to stay away.

It’s been immersed in salt water for three days and it’s untreated timber. It’s not going to be good for anything, other than burning,” he told Kent Online.

Apparently, there’s no one on hand who knows a damned thing about wood, either. I was a “coaster” all my early years – often making a bit of money on the side from shelves and tables I constructed from driftwood. Lovely stuff – the longer it had been in the water the better.

Settlement reached over scratched iPod nanos. Whoop-de-doo!

Daylife/Getty Images

Cast your mind back to the golden yesteryear of 2005. George W. Bush had started his second term; Million Dollar Baby had come away with the Academy Award for Best Picture; and the English cricket team won the Ashes. Oh, right, and Apple introduced a brand new kind of iPod, the iPod nano, to replace its previous best-selling model, the iPod mini.

Unfortunately, some unlucky consumers who jumped headfirst into the pool of first-generation Apple products found themselves the owners of iPod nanos that were rather easy—okay, let’s say very easy—to scratch and otherwise damage. Turns out that some of those nanos escaped the factory without the protective coating that should have been on the front.

They felt they were forced to turn to legal action to get their problem addressed. And now—more than three years after those poor iPods got themselves all cut up—a settlement has been reached, and Apple’s writing checks to the tune of $15 (if Apple sent you a free slip case as a result of your complaints) or $25 (if you didn’t get a case).

In order to be a valid member of the settlement class, you have to have bought a first-generation iPod nano with an uncoated front—you can find out by entering your serial number on the serial number website. Then just sit back and wait for the money to slooooowly roll in.

In this litigious society, it’s easy to waste more time trying to get more than you were offered – than if you just walk away with a reasonable offer in the first place. Poisonally, I’ve been treated well by Apple warranties.