Twitter Released a Sparkle Icon



Twitter has released a sparkle icon that you can tap to switch between the latest and top Tweets in your timeline. It is currently available on iOS, and will be coming soon to Android.

BuzzFeed News reported that users on iOS can tap a new icon (represented by the sparkle emoji) in the top-right hand corner of the Twitter app to see the most recent tweets in their timeline. This is more efficient than having to go into settings to switch between algorithmic and reverse-chronological timelines.

Twitter is intending to remove the settings option that allowed users to fully opt out of “top tweets.” The default timeline view (algorithm) is called “Home”. The reverse-chronological timeline is called “Latest Tweets”.

I think Twitter made a good decision to give users the option to see reverse-chronological tweets in their timeline. I find it annoying to have tweets be posted out of chronological order. It makes it harder for me to figure out what people are talking about.

Personally, the feature I’d most like to see Twitter add is one that would entirely remove all the accounts I’ve blocked from my view. It is obvious that Twitter’s system is aware of which accounts I’ve blocked. Why can’t it use that information to filter out those accounts when I look at a trending topic or a popular hashtag?

The sparkle icon that puts my timeline in reverse-chronological order will appease me for now, and I will start using it. But, I’m going to need more than “sparkle” to improve my Twitter experience.


Blubrry Achieves Podcast Statistics Certification Industry First!



Blubrry Achieves Certification

My company Blubrry Podcasting has made history as the first podcast-hosting service provider to have its podcast stats certified by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab for Podcast Measurement Compliance. My team has spent the better part of the past 5 months going through the audit and certification.

There is nothing like having your entire code-base and processes examined line by line in code review and all the other task of fraud prevention etc.. My team at Blubrry has put in an incredible amount of work to get here. Remarkably nothing really changed with our codebase and processing that has been locked down for the past 5 years.

It’s ironic there were calls that the podcast measurement space was the wild wild west by supposed leaders in the space, who were themselves running on measurement systems that were not in compliance with the guidelines agreed to by the IAB committee that they participated in.  Yet the code Blubrry has had in place since 2005 and tweaked throughout the years and locked down in 2013 was the same exact codebase that meets the certification standards from the IAB podcast measurement v2.0 guidelines we helped craft along with 31 other companies that were adopted in 2017.

We already know who the bad players are out there, who to date has done little to correct the overcounting their platforms are notorious for. and they will likely do little to come into certification compliance until they are forced to. My team, come the first of the year will be meeting with media buyers and explaining their podcast measurement options.

Certification for all Podcasters

Blubrry is unique in the space as our system is “platform agnostic” and we can integrate certified stats for podcast hosting companies and media buyers that are looking to become certified or those media buyers that need a way of auditing the campaigns they are running with the various companies that do not have their own measurement system or free ride on services like ours.

We have been working towards guaranteeing a level playing field for a long time and I truly feel that our podcast statistics platform is going to expedite the space in getting there due to the flexibility of the platform in measuring nearly every show in the podcasting space if desired. The download is and will remain king for the foreseeable future, unlike the streaming space there are too many independent players to guarantee that we will ever get the client-side measurement in place in any meaningful way. A key takeaway is that our Podcast measurement platform is open to all podcasters regardless of where they host their media.

Advertising CPM’s to Increase.

Additionally CPM’s should rise as the over-reporting that has occurred by some networks will now be adjusted to certified guidelines and the value that advertisers have been getting from the space will increase even though the download stats are lower on most platforms.

We know that there are other companies attempting to become certified, and that will not come without major pain as adjustments will have to be made to their measuring algorithms.  This is the gold standard. There is no substitution to certification of compliance, Ad buyers, networks, podcast hosting platforms, and podcasters now have an audited, validated, certified platform ready to serve them.”

The certification audit included reviews of our platform architecture, filtering, file threshold levels, identity, aggregate uniques, metrics generation, website player reviews and recommendations, disclosures and external audit of the code line by line. More than 50,000 podcasters have trusted Blubrry stats for 13 years, whether they host with Blubrry or not.


Amazon to stop shipping CRaP



Seems Amazon is tired of losing money on CRaP and will be forcing vendors to pay for shipping. They are purportedly putting a strong arm on companies like Coke to ship items like SmartWater on their own dime. Only Amazon would get away with this kind of demand. But really who buys SmartWater online and have it shipped to there home. Lots happening here on the home front actual chaos is in progress and I am trying to stay ahead of it all.

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Google has “Effectively Ended” Project Dragonfly



Google had been working on a project called Dragonfly, which was being developed as censored search engine that would be used in China. The decision comes after hundreds of Google employees called on the company to cancel the project.

The Intercept has a very detailed article about what Project Dragonfly was. It was a very secretive project that relied upon data gleaned from 265.com, a Beijing-based website.

The controversy over Dragonfly is largely because it was being built as a censored search engine. From the Intercept:

The dispute began in mid-August, when The Intercept revealed that Google employees working on Dragonfly had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine, which was designed to block out broad categories of information related to democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest, in accordance with strict rules on censorship in China that are enforced by the country’s authoritarian Communist Party government.

I’m certainly not the first person to say this, but it bears repeating. If Google were to create and launch Dragonfly in China, it would not stop there. The existence of a tailor-made censored search engine for one country could influence other countries to demand that Google create a highly censored search engine for them – blocking whatever that government chooses to censor.

The existence of Project Dragonfly is dangerous and disturbing. The Intercept points out that Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, appeared before Congress and stated that “right now” there were no plans to launch Dragonfly. That doesn’t mean it is gone for good, and we need reporters to continue to monitor the situation.


Jingle All The Way with a Bluetooth Bauble Speaker



Looking for the final decoration to finish off dressing your O Christmas Tree? Well take a look, or rather a listen, to the Accelerate Holiday Tunes bauble with Bluetooth speaker. Connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth and instead of a Silent Night you’ll be Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. The decoration comes in four different colours – Red, Gold, Green and Silver Bells.

The 200 mAh battery will Jingle Bells for about two hours before needing a charge via the supplied USB cable. There’s a microUSB charging port on the back and it takes a similar amount time recharge. You could go for a Sleigh Ride while you’re waiting.

Avoiding a Blue Christmas is straightforward. Hold down the power button to put the bauble into pairing mode and look for HOLIDAY TUNES in the Bluetooth settings of your smartphone. Once paired up, any music played on the phone from Spotify, Amazon Music, iTunes, etc. will come out the Holiday Tunes bauble. It’s not worth Driving Home for Christmas just to hear the music but the sound quality’s better than you’d imagine. There’s a hanging loop for putting the bauble on the tree.

The Holiday Tunes bauble is available from Amazon.co.uk, priced at around GB£12-£15 (the price changes a little). You may find it cheaper in store too – try Home Bargains. It’s kitsch Christmas fun so even if it’s a White Christmas and It’s Cold Outside, you’ll have a Holly Jolly Christmas with your favourite tunes.

More in the YouTube video below. It really is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Disclaimer: This was a personal purchase.


Facebook Bug Exposed 6.8 Million Users Photos to Apps



Facebook revealed more bad news about the lack of security on its platform. In a post on its Developer News site, Facebook notified developers that a photo API bug was discovered that “may have affected people who used Facebook Login and granted permission to third-party apps to access their photos.”

Currently, we believe this may have affected up to 6.8 million users and up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers. The only apps affected by this bug were ones Facebook approved to access the photos API and that individuals had authorized to access their photos.

The bug “potentially” gave developers access to photos shared on Marketplace or Facebook Stories. It also impacted photos that people uploaded to Facebook but chose not to post.

How is that possible? According to Facebook, “if someone uploads a photo to Facebook but doesn’t finish posting it… we store a copy of that photo so the person has it when they come back to the app to complete their post.” Personally, I think that’s kind of creepy.

Facebook users who have “potentially” been impacted by this bug will be notified via an alert on Facebook. That notification will direct them to a Help Center Link where they will be able to see if they’ve used any apps that were part of the bug.

I think Facebook should have made a publicly available list of those apps that everyone could see – even if they weren’t affected by the bug. It would have been more transparent. Facebook’s post does not give any information about how users can learn which of their photos were affected, or by which specific apps, or what those app developers are doing with the photos.

Facebook recommends that users log into any apps with which they have shared their Facebook photos to check which photos the apps have access to. That’s good advice in general. It doesn’t solve the problem, though.


Texting Tax in California #1334



A Texting Tax in California will most likely be showing up on your mobile bill. The state has decided that residents of California should be taxed for texting as a way to squeeze more cash out of its citizens. Call me not surprised in the least as this action is exactly the kind of thing that the state would do. Very late start to the show tonight had to celebrate a birthday.

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