The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Consumer]
2015-04-21 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Consumer , 62 references

This story amuses me...

On Tuesday, April 21, Google is making a major update to its mobile search algorithm that will change the order in which websites are ranked when users search for something from their phone or tablet. 

The algorithm will start favoring mobile-friendly websites (ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit whatever screen they're viewed on) and ranking them higher in search. Websites that aren't mobile-friendly will get demoted. 


Look, mobile is reality.  I use my phone more than my desktop, simply because my phone is with me even when I'm on the throne smiley

So here's the deal -- many web sites are ridiculously stupid in how they display on small screens.  It doesn't have to be this way, but it is.  Many even go further and won't look reasonable on anything other than big 24" 1920 pixel or better monstrosities on desktops, which is a further sin.

Google sells ads.  Ads only are worth money to advertisers if you see them.  Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Google would pay attention to whether your site pays any attention at all to mobile usability.

Yes, this means no flash.  It means using viewport.  It means paying attention to the sizing and placement of the elements on your page and for many pages it means having context-sensitive displays that only load and display on mobile devices -- or those with modest display sizes.

If you don't take the time to do that why should you get the benefit of mobile users?

Just because you're a small business doesn't mean you get to be stupid without cost.

PS: The Market Ticker is mobile friendly and has been for a long simply isn't that hard.

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Back in January I wrote:

The worst part of mass-market items is just that -- they're mass-market.  That is, a vector found in such a device opens up destructive capability across thousands or even millions of homes and businesses at once.

Consider just the benign one -- an attempt to drive your utility bill to the moon.  Simply wait until your "thermostat" indicates you're not at home for an extended period of time (more than 24 hours), signalling that you're probably on vacation.  Then ramp the inside temperature up to 99 degrees and hold it there, effectively locking your heating system "on" -- when it's 20 below outside.


There are of course many other examples.  An electronically-controlled ice-maker in an internet-accessible refrigerator.  Lock the water valve on, flood the house.  Same deal with a washer.  Yes, you can turn the water off to the house when you go on vacation or are gone for more than 24 hours -- how many people do?  Few to none, and yet occasionally not doing so leads to bad outcomes from a simple hose failure.

I'm anticipating some sort of attack like this in the not-so-distant future, and when it comes it's going to shine a whole new light on those nice "cloud" mass-market devices and services offered to the American Sheeple.

And now we have this:

Home gateways that are the nerve centers for connected homes could be exposing them to forays by malicious hackers and other online adversaries, according to a study by the firm Veracode.*

The company, which specializes in application security, published a study of six common Internet of Things hubs for the home. Veracode researchers found significant security vulnerabilities in each of the devices that could be used to facilitate robberies or invasions of privacy, the company said. The findings suggest that companies selling technology for the connected home are not putting security at the top of their priorities list, Veracode says.

One of the devices was an interface to garage door openers.

Your garage door is reasonably secure with a modern "clicker."  The reason is that the code "rolls", so an attempt to record and play back your door being opened won't work.  People generally do not lock their garage-to-house door, and generally don't need to provided the opener code is secure.  With a reasonably-secure opener true forced entry (and a fair bit of damage) is required to get into a house that has its garage door down in this fashion.

Not any more!  If you can "command" the interface to open the garage door you can then walk right in and steal everything inside and not only will there be no sign of forced entry the thief can park his car in the garage and conceal it while loading up!

Now that is special.

"Open the garage door Hal, I wanna rob this place......"



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If you missed the previous installments let me just throw this out there: If you can still find one of these (the '16s are hitting the lots) go buy it if you like a modern, reasonably-full-sized sedan.  The 2016's primary change, and the one that would keep me from buying it, is the "integrated" entertainment system.  This means that your option to remove and replace it if you don't like it for whatever reason has been taken from you, and if it breaks out-of-warranty you're into Mazda for big money to replace it.  No thanks; I insist that the entertainment system in my vehicle be of a reasonably-standard form factor and be user replaceable even if I choose not change it out, as was the case for the Jetta.

I've now clocked over 32,000 miles on mine; other than routine oil and filter changes it's required nothing.  While the oil filter is in the usual (bottom of the engine) location and thus you have to get under the car to change it Mazda was polite enough to provide the room to get a gallon ziplok around it that goes above the filter base while removing it.  This means you can do "no mess, zero spill" oil changes in your garage with a bit of thought which I appreciate.  The air filter element was dirty enough to warrant replacement at 30k; within my normal expectations and the cabin air filter was also changed out.  The factory tires have perhaps another 15,000 miles in them; another couple of oil changes (when I rotate them) and they'll be due for replacement.  My sole complaint remains that those tires are a bit loud on the highway; I'll be looking to put something other than the Advan A83s on when they wear out, although they continue to be reasonably-impressive for stock all-season tires.  Brake wear is nominal; it appears that I'm roughly halfway to contemplating brake pad replacement.  And.... that's it.

Incidentally the ECU's "learning" in this vehicle is pretty impressive.  With a good data logger (which I now have) you can obtain a damn good idea of what the vehicle is doing in real-time (much like you can with the VCDS software for VWs) and I've discovered something very interesting -- when the ECU is reset (say, by a battery pull) you will find that until it re-learns you're down a solid 20HP (and 20ft/lbs of torque!) or thereabouts.  It doesn't take long to get its feet back under it but this is quite the statement in terms of how adaptable modern engine controls really are and how much difference it can and does make.

In addition the amount of data that the ECU has access to is quite impressive in this vehicle, including things you don't usually see -- such as oil temperature.  This makes a full instrumentation package that, for example, could display on your entertainment screen quite possible.  I'm going to start thinking about this and whether it's worth it; I'd love to fabricate up a custom LCD-display pod to go on the A-Pillar and then configure up a nice set of strip displays there but the problem with doing it is that modern cars all have airbags in the A-Pillar and as a result if you wreck attaching anything to that cover risks eating it in a crash.  (I always chuckle when I see some Boy Racer that has put one of these gauge pods on that cover; those kids are, of course, the most-likely to want that airbag protection as they frequently have things go wrong!)

I continue to post up right near 34mpg lifetime in terms of fuel economy.  At nominal freeway speeds I'm seeing around 36-37, depending on how leaded my foot is.  The aftermarket stereo system I put in continues to perform admirably and I've also added a dashcam with concealed wiring, which was easy to do on a tap from the (switched) lighter outlet.

If you're interested in my previous articles on the car the ones that remain open to access beyond the 30-day cut-off are here:

Early Impressions -- Mazda 6

Interesting Observations After A Month With The Mazda 6

2015 Mazda 6 - The 3,000 Mile Odyssey

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