Sometimes you have an idea, and the universe delivers. Hotel WiFi Speed Test let’s you speed test and search hotels by their internet speed, something I was wishing existed just last week. Since I work primarily on the road, I would pick fast internet over pretty much any other amenity a hotel could possibly offer. Speedspot also offers similar info. It’s funny how sometimes the less expensive hotels often have much better internet — I think this is because they try to do less with captive proxies and such.
I’ve been enjoying a new-to-me app called Blinkist, which is basically summaries of interesting non-fiction books. The summaries are really well-written, and I enjoy reading them as refreshers even when I’ve read an entire book already. Many business or non-fiction books I read would have been better as an article, and you can tell when a publisher has encouraged an author to pad the book a bit so they can sell it for more, and the Blinkist version often satisfies my curiosity there. And finally there’s some I read that just whet my appetite for more, and I end up ordering the full book. I ended up subscribing to the service for $50/yr.
Do you know what the Fermi Paradox is? Take 20 minutes to read this article and I promise you’ll never look at the stars the same way again.
Grist.org, the environmental journalism non-profit I’m on the board of, has received a Knight Foundation grant to “allow newsrooms to better measure audience engagement, beyond clicks and page views, by creating an open-source WordPress plugin that will measure ‘attention minutes’ to determine how long users are interacting with content.” I’m excited to see what they come up with, and that it will be open source, perhaps it’s something we can incorporate into Jetpack down the line. If hacking on that sort of thing and saving the planet is interesting to you, Grist is hiring WordPress developers.
Propublica has a piece on
canvas fingerprinting done by the ad service that uses the trojan horse of sharing buttons, AddThis: Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block. Regardless of the usefulness of this particular technique, which seems to not be effective enough to stick around, services like AddThis and ShareThis will always spy on and tag your audience when you use their widgets, and you should avoid them if you care about that sort of thing. That’s why we put sharing buttons into Jetpack that are much more privacy (and performance) friendly.
You can now count on a “Snowden Sunday” every few weeks: some jaw-dropping revelation that if you had suggested it a few years ago people would have dismissed you as a tin-foil-hat-wearing paranoid. Now the hardest part is not becoming numb. Here’s the latest from The Washington Post: In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are. Bonus: CIA employee’s quest to release information ‘destroyed my entire career.’
iOS 8 WebKit changes finally allow all apps to have the same performance as Safari. I was just asked about the future of the mobile web at last night’s WP talk in Singapore. (Which had about 300 people there, great turnout!) There are still a lot of issues for the open web in a closed mobile world, but things like this are a great step in the right direction. Another reason I can’t wait for iOS 8. Hat tip: Matt Bumgardner.