Links for July 21st 2011 through July 26th 2011:

  • Bradley Horowitz – Google+ – Google addresses a number of the concerns arising from the ‘real names’ policy in Google+. Not all the issues are resolved by a long shot, but Google+ is in trial mode and many solutions seems forthcoming. Also: “MYTH: Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account. When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won’t be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you’ll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on. (Of course there are other Google-wide policies (e.g. egregious spamming, illegal activity, etc) that do apply to all Google products, and violations of these policies could in fact lead to a Google-wide suspension.)”
  • iPad Book Apps Hobbled: Only Existing Account-Holders Can Use The Apps, Google Books Booted [TechCrunch] – Apple takes 30%, or your app dies: “At the beginning of the year, Apple said it wanted 30% of everything sold through the iPad platform. You could sell almost anything – books, downloadable content, magazines, pictures of kittens – but, according to their subscription rules, everything had to go through Apple itself and you could not, in short, go out to a web page to complete the transaction. That promise – to shut down external web stores on the iPad – has been fulfilled and the Nook, Kindle, Kobo, and Google Books apps have just been either drastically changed or removed from the App Store entirely. Nook, Kindle, and Kobo now have no access to the web-based bookstore and you can no longer create accounts in the app.”
  • Not rocket science – Angry Birds boss puffs his chest at Fortune tech conference [News.com.au] – Convergence in action: “Peter Vesterbacka, the chief marketing officer of Angry Birds creator Rovio, outlined the company’s ambitions last week at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference at a Colorado ski resort. … downloads of the addictive Angry Birds game had hit 300 million. Angry Birds involves catapulting cartoonish birds into fortresses built by egg-stealing green pigs but Mr Vesterbacka said Rovio was “not a games company”. “What we are building is a next generation entertainment franchise,” he said. “I think we’re the fastest growing consumer franchise ever.” Mr Vesterbacka said Rovio had acquired an animation studio and started producing two-minute animated Angry Birds shorts, and a full-length movie was two or three years away. “We’re working on new Angry Birds experiences,” he said. “We’ll expose a bit more of the Angry Birds story.” The Rovio executive said the company’s next project was its first book. “It’s the Angry Birds cookbook,” he said.”
  • Does Google+ hate women? [Bug Girl’s Blog] – As Google’s new social network Google+ matches Facebook in demanding that users only use their real (legal) names, a host of issues emerge for people who have good and legitimate reasons to use anonymity or pseudonymity online (including those who wish to address hate, abuse and other crimes without explicitly naming names or having that cemented to their online selves). Importantly, too, as Google+ is linked to Google in general, declaring a real name (or your age) on Google+ can end up forfitting other Google services, such as GMail, which can be a much larger issue.
  • NYU Prof Vows Never to Probe Cheating Again—and Faces a Backlash [The Chronicle of Higher Education] – “A New York University professor’s blog post is opening a rare public window on the painful classroom consequences of using plagiarism-detection software to aggressively police cheating students. And the post, by Panagiotis Ipeirotis, raises questions about whether the incentives in higher education are set up to reward such vigilance. But after the candid personal tale went viral online this week, drawing hundreds of thousands of readers, the professor took it down on NYU’s advice. As Mr. Ipeirotis understands it, a faculty member from another university sent NYU a cease-and-desist letter saying his blog post violated a federal law protecting students’ privacy.”
  • Start-Up Handles Social Media Background Checks [NYTimes.com] – “Companies have long used criminal background checks, credit reports and even searches on Google and LinkedIn to probe the previous lives of prospective employees. Now, some companies are requiring job candidates to also pass a social media background check. A year-old start-up, Social Intelligence, scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years. Then it assembles a dossier with examples of professional honors and charitable work, along with negative information that meets specific criteria: online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity. “We are not detectives,” said Max Drucker, chief executive of the company, which is based in Santa Barbara, Calif. “All we assemble is what is publicly available on the Internet today.””

Links for June 30th 2011 through July 4th 2011:

  • Google Chrome hits 20% global share as Microsoft continues browser slide [Network World] – “Google Chrome’s rise in popularity has been remarkably fast and it’s just hit a new milestone: more than 20% of all browser usage, according to StatCounter. Chrome rose from only 2.8% in June 2009 to 20.7% worldwide in June 2011, while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer fell from 59% to 44% in the same time frame. Firefox dropped only slightly in the past two years, from 30% to 28%.”
  • Angry Birds film takes off [guardian.co.uk] – “An Angry Birds movie is slingshotting its way into development with the announcement that former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel has been recruited as a special adviser by Rovio – the mobile game company that developed the popular pig-popping franchise. “There has been so much chatter about an Angry Birds movie, but it’s now real,” Maisel told Variety. “The process is starting now.” Maisel, who was responsible for shepherding mega-hits such as Iron Man to the big screen while at Marvel, said he was interested in the “emotional connection” that players have with the Angry Birds characters.”
  • Australian Social Trends, Jun 2011 – Summary data released in the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2011 about social and cultural trends in Australia (as measured by a variety of stats). Useful for lectures.
  • Exclusive: Myspace to Be Sold to Specific Media for $35 Million [AllThingsD] – MySpace purchase price in 2005: $580 million.
    MySpace sale price in 2011: $35 million.
    NewsCorp: not winning.
  • Chinese faked photograph leaves officials on street of shame [The Guardian] – “For government officials in Huili, a distinctly modest county in a rural corner of south-west China, attracting national media coverage would normally seem a dream come true. Unfortunately, their moment in the spotlight was not so welcome: mass ridicule over what may well be one of the worst-doctored photographs in internet history. The saga began on Monday when Huili’s website published a picture showing, according to the accompanying story, three local officials inspecting a newly completed road construction project this month. The picture certainly portrayed the men, and the road, but the officials appeared to be levitating several inches above the tarmac. As photographic fakery goes it was astonishingly clumsy.” [Gallery of photoshop ‘responses.]
  • ‪Credit Is Due (The Attribution Song)‬‏ [YouTube] – Nina Paley’s excellent short video explaining why copying WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION is plagiarism. (And why that’s wrong.) Surely this clip will find its way into first-year university lectures everywhere!
  • Bitcoins [Rocketboom] – Molly on Rocketboom makes a valiant, if slightly confused, effort to explain Bitcoins.

Links for May 14th 2011 through May 25th 2011:

  • Lady Gaga Fans Swamp Amazon for a Cut-Rate Copy of a New Album [NYTimes.com] – “Lady Gaga has made herself a paragon of pop ambition and a spokeswoman for equal rights, but on Monday she became an unwitting symbol for something else: the pitfalls of cloud computing. “Born This Way” (Interscope), her new album, arrived with a blitz of marketing, and Amazon surprised the singer’s fans by offering a one-day sale of the MP3 version of the album for 99 cents, a full $11 less than its price at iTunes, the Web’s dominant music retailer. The discount was widely seen as a way for Amazon to promote its new Cloud Drive service, which allows users to store music files on remote servers and stream them over the Internet to their computer or smartphone. But Amazon may have underestimated the zeal (or thrift) of Lady Gaga’s fans. By early afternoon the company’s servers stalled, and many users were unable to download or listen to the album in full. Frustrated customers quickly took to Twitter and to Amazon’s user review page for “Born This Way.” “
  • Lady Gaga’s $0.99 Album Download Overwhelms Amazon [Mashable] – “Lady Gaga fans were delighted Monday to learn that they could download her new album, Born This Way, from Amazon for a mere $0.99 — until, of course, technical difficulties set in. Downloads of the album are delayed, leaving folks unable to get the entire album immediately upon purchase. Amazon issued the following statement: “Amazon is experiencing high volume and downloads are delayed. If customers order today, they will get the full Lady Gaga, Born This Way album for $0.99. Thanks for your patience.” However, the damage has already been done, as users are meting out one-star ratings in droves, most of which deal with Amazon’s slow service as opposed to the quality of the music …”
  • How to Use Your Android as a Photo Tool + Top 10 Apps | Photojojo – Good list of current, useful Android photo apps. Still no Instagram, but getting close.
  • Zuckerberg: Kids under 13 should be allowed on Facebook [Fortune Tech] – Mark Zuckerberg wants under-13s to be legally able to join Facebook due to the educational value of social networking. There are much better spaces online and offline, to learn these lessons! “Zuckerberg said he wants younger kids to be allowed on social networking sites like Facebook. Currently, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mandates that websites that collect information about users (like Facebook does) aren’t allowed to sign on anyone under the age of 13. But Zuckerberg is determined to change this. “That will be a fight we take on at some point,” he said. “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.” But just how would Facebook’s social features be used by younger children? “Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process,” Zuckerberg said. “If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.””
  • Angry Birds: 200m downloads are the tip of the mobile gaming iceberg [guardian.co.uk] – “The Angry Birds phenomenon shows no sign of slowing up. Developer Rovio Mobile says that the franchise has now generated more than 200m downloads across all platforms, with its latest incarnation Angry Birds Rio racking up 35m since its launch in March. Depending which report you read, Rovio is now making preparations for an IPO sometime in the next two to three years, or planning to launch location-based services around the Angry Birds brand. The company’s executives also have a fairly transparent strategy of talking Rovio up as a potential Disney. Angry Birds is now a cross-platform success, with a big share of its last 100m downloads coming from Android devices …”
  • How Viral PDFs Of A Naughty Bedtime Book Exploded The Old Publishing Model [Fast Company] – Did the massive online distribution of a ‘pirated’ PDF lead to satirical kids book for adults _Go The Fuck To Sleep_ hitting the #1 spot on Amazon’s book sales list even before the official publication date? Looks like it.
  • NCIS, Idol Top TVGuide.com’s List of the Most Social Shows [TVGuide.com] – A TVGuide.com (of 1586 people) reports significant use of social media to discuss TV shows both before, during and after, although conversations during shows being the least active of these three periods. Twitter users are more likely to talk about the shows they are watching (50% of the time) than Facebook users (35% of the time). More results and graphs at the TVGuide website.(This survey was conducted in April 2011 on TVGuide.com, with 1,586 respondents. )

Links for April 29th 2011 through May 12th 2011:

  • Millions of Facebook users under 10 [The Age] – “Some 7.5 million of the 20 million US minors who used Facebook in the past year were younger than 13, and a million of them were bullied, harassed or threatened on the site, an American study shows. More than 5 million Facebook users were aged 10 or younger, and they were allowed to use Facebook largely without parental supervision, the State of the Net survey by Consumer Reports found.”
  • chrome-angry-birds [Nelson’s Weblog] – Angry Birds comes in HTML5, too! “One of Google’s big announcements this week was the launch of Chrome Angry Birds, a port of the hugely popular mobile game to Google’s browser. But calling it “Chrome Angry Birds” is missing the point because what’s really interesting is that it’s a real-time multimedia cross-platform HTML 5 app. It runs fine in MSIE 9 and Firefox on Windows (sound and save games included) and I’ve heard reports it works in Safari on Macs, too. And because the game is based on open browser technologies, we can easily pull it apart and see how it’s built just like we’ve been pulling apart web pages since 1993 via the magic of “view source”. [Play.]
  • Chromebook – Google partners to release Chromebooks, cloud-centric computers which boot amazingly fast are are designed to operate with everything in and from the cloud. Built upon the Chrome ‘browser’ (or OS) technology.
  • Introducing Music Beta by Google [YouTube] – Google introduces “Music Beta”, their entry into the cloud music services, allowing individuals to upload their music collection, then use Google or Android to stream that music to portable and fixed devices. (Currently invitation-only and US-only.)
  • Zynga goes Gaga! Lady Gaga and Zynga team up to celebrate new album “Born This Way” [Zynga] – Well, Zynga and Gaga get points for an original combination of media elements, at least: “Lady Gaga and Zynga today announced a partnership to launch the mega-artist’s new album “Born this Way.” Launching May 17, the first-of-its-kind program gives “little monsters” throughout the world a first listen to exclusive un-released songs from the upcoming when they visit GagaVille, a uniquely designed neighboring farm in FarmVille (There will be unicorns and crystals. Enough said.). The full album also comes bundled as a free download with the purchase of a special Zynga $25 game card, available exclusively at Best Buy. The program reaches across Zynga games and across platforms. Words With Friends, the popular mobile social game available iPhone, iPad, as well as Android devices, will feature a daily “Words with Gaga” contest …”
  • Google Launches Movie Rentals on Android Market: Online Video News [GigaOm] – Android rentals: “Google announced a new cloud movie service for Android that will be available as part of the Android Market. At its Google I/O developers conference Tuesday, the company said the service will have “thousands of movies available,” with titles including Inception, The King’s Speech and Despicable Me, and rentals starting at $1.99. Users will be able to rent titles on the Android Market’s website and then watch them on the web, stream them to Android devices and even download them to play on the go where no network connectivity is available.”
  • Watching Together: Twitter and TV [Twitter Blog] – “Last week, Twitter enjoyed its widest television integration to date via the live coverage of the royal wedding, as Chloe Sladden from our media team discusses on the Twitter Media blog. During the wedding, users interacted with ABC News’ coverage by using the hashtags #RoyalSuccess and #RoyalMess to voice their opinion about the events unfolding in London. They shared their thoughts with CNN by including the hashtag #CNNTV in their Tweets, causing #CNNTV to trend early in the event. And as audiences around the world watched the events live on TV, they posted millions of Tweets, peaking at 16,000 Tweets per minute between 5 and 6 a.m. EST. The royal wedding is just one example of how real-time Twitter integration can enhance TV coverage and help drive viewership …” [ Related YouTube clip: http://youtu.be/Jc8TQppzORE ]
  • Obi Wan Obama, Bin Laden’s Death, and Tumblr [Unmuzzled Thoughts] – Kelli Marshall looks at the memes and reactions emerging on Tumblr after US president Barack Obama announced that long saught terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden had been killed by US forces in Pakistan. (The post includes a useful archive of images.)
  • Corporate Rule of Cyberspace – Slavoj Žižek [ Inside Higher Ed] – Slavoj Žižek Vs Cloud Computing: “To put it simply, Steve Jobs is no better than Bill Gates: whether it be Apple or Microsoft, global access is increasingly grounded in the virtually monopolistic privatization of the cloud which provides this access. The more an individual user is given access to universal public space, the more that space is privatized. Apologists present cloud computing as the next logical step in the “natural evolution” of the Internet, and while in an abstract-technological way this is true, there is nothing “natural” in the progressive privatization of global cyberspace. There is nothing “natural” in the fact that two or three companies in a quasi-monopolistic position can not only set prices at will but also filter the software they provide to give its “universality” a particular twist depending on commercial and ideological interests.”
  • South Korea bans youngsters from playing online games after midnight [News.com.au] – “Young South Koreans will be banned from playing online video games later than midnight after lawmakers passed a new curfew law. Yonhap news agency reported the new law – which bans anyone under 16 from playing online into the early hours – was passed by lawmakers worried about growing levels of addiction to gaming among youngsters. Gaming companies fiercely contested the legislation but the Youth Protection bill passed late Friday.”
  • Superman threatens to renounce US citizenship [Books | guardian.co.uk] – “After years of declaring he stood for “truth, justice and the American way,” Superman has provoked the ire of rightwingers by threatening to renounce his US citizenship. In the latest issue of Action Comics, which went on sale on Wednesday, the Man of Steel decides to take the step after he intervenes in a protest against the Iranian government. After the Islamic regime brands his non-violent protest as an act of war taken on behalf of the US president, the DC comic hero says he will renounce his citizenship before the United Nations. “I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of US policy,” he says. Although Superman never actually renounces his citizenship in the story, conservative commentators reacted with disgust.”
  • Instagram Spawns a Photo Ecosystem [NYTimes.com] – “Instagram, the social-meets-photos app for the iPhone that transforms plain cellphone pictures into vintage-looking works of art, has attracted millions of users. In recent months, it has also begun to draw entrepreneurs who are eager to capitalize on its growing popularity. In particular, people are creating services that revolve around bringing Instagram photos, typically viewed on a phone screen, into the real world. Keepsy lets people quickly build a photobook of their favorite Instagram pictures and share it on Facebook and Twitter. They can then print a hard copy of the photobook for about $30. There is also Postagram, which lets its users mail a postcard created from an Instagram photo to a recipient of their choice for 99 cents. And Hatchcraft will frame favorite Instagram pictures in hand-carved bamboo shadow boxes that can be hung on a wall.”

Links for April 5th 2011 through April 12th 2011:

  • Logies 2011: Twitter Banned [The Age] – “When Australian television’s biggest stars walk the Logies red carpet on May 1, there will be one notable absence. This year, Twitter is not invited to the party. Having snaffled back-to-back awards for Most Attention-Seeking Performance in 2009 and 2010, Twitter has been effectively blackballed by organisers of this year’s awards. Invitations to the ceremony at Crown carry, in very small print, the words: ”Please note, mobiles will not be permitted. Your co-operation is appreciated.”” Unsurprisingly, tweeting celebs and followers alike are unimpressed.
  • Google ‘to boost spend on original YouTube content’ [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Broadcast YourTV just doesn’t have the same ring to it: “Google is strengthening its relationship with Hollywood and online programme-makers in an attempt to reposition YouTube for the rise of internet-connected TV. The world’s most popular video website will invest tens of millions of dollars in professionally-produced original programming as more viewers watch YouTube from their living room. Google is also reported to be planning a “major overhaul” of YouTube this year, with the introduction of channels for topics such as arts and sports. About 20 of these channels would feature several hours of professional programming a week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move would represent a big shift away from the user-generated video that made YouTube the third most-popular site on the planet.”
  • ‘School asked us to airbrush class photo,’ company says [The Age] – “A photographic company that digitally altered the school portraits of six Melbourne students says the girls’ college at the centre of the controversy specifically requested for the images to be airbrushed. Parents were outraged yesterday when their daughters returned home from Our Lady of Sion College in Box Hill with school photographs that had been touched up to change hairstyles, hide ears and eliminate earrings. Several students’ had their ponytails removed, while one parent, Mary, said her 16-year-old daughter had hair drawn across her ears and ended up sporting a ridiculous ‘‘bouffant’’. ‘‘It didn’t even look like her in the end, it just didn’t look like her at all,’’ said Mary, who did not want to reveal her name to protect the identity of her daughter. ‘‘My daughter said to me, ‘What was wrong with me mum? Why did they need to do that?’ It’s just sending the wrong message to the girls. Their self-esteem isn’t the best at that age.’’”
  • Amazon’s new Cloud Drive rains on everyone’s parade [Technology | The Observer] – A solid piece which explains why Google, Apple and the music companies are probably feeling a little threatened by Amazon’s new Cloud Drive and, more importantly, the CloudPlayer which makes Amazon purchased music or any other music you own accessible on smartphones and other mobile media devices as streaming media.
  • ‘Angry Birds Rio’ a Big Hit: 10 Million Downloads in 10 Days – “Angry Birds fans can’t get enough of the bird-hurling application and game franchise from mobile developer Rovio. Angry Birds Rio, the latest iOS and Android edition of the game, features a theme based on the upcoming FOX animated motion picture Rio. The app saw ten million downloads in its first ten days after release. The milestone metric spans all free and paid versions available in the App Store, Android Marketplace and Amazon Appstore. The stat was first announced on Rovio’s Twitter account.”

Links for March 21st 2011 through March 25th 2011:

  • Record Industry: Limewire Could Owe $75 Trillion – Judge: “Absurd” [Crunch Gear] – “… this is beyond ridiculous. This is… sublime. The record companies suing Limewire were asked to estimate the damages that should be paid by the file-sharing service. Their estimate? $400 Billion on the low end, and at the high end — $75 trillion dollars. That’s more than the GDP of the entire world. The judge, in a refreshing stroke of good sense, deemed these potential damages “absurd” and the plaintiff’s approach “untenable”. The $75tn figure relies on an interpretation of copyright law that provides statutory damages for each instance of copying, and with the numbers of downloads and individual songs the industry is alleging, the money adds up quickly. Even the $400bn figure is certainly grossly inflated, however “conservative” it may appear to Virgin, Atlantic, Sony, and so on. It was decided that an interpretation of copyright law enabling the music industry to sue for more money than they’ve made in the history of recorded music was necessarily wrong…”
  • Troll jailed for posting child porn on tribute pages for dead children [News.com.au] – A MAN charged over Facebook vandalism for plastering child pornography over sites set up to pay tribute to two slain schoolchildren has been jailed. The Brisbane District Court was told Bradley Paul Hampson, 29, posted offensive messages and photographs on Facebook “RIP tribute” pages for a 12-year-old boy stabbed at a Brisbane school and a nine-year-old Bundaberg girl abducted and murdered in February last year. Hampson, of Tarragindi, on Brisbane’s southside, today pleaded guilty to two counts using a carriage service, the internet, to cause offence and one each of distributing and possessing child exploitation material between February 14 and June 4 last year. […] Judge Kerry O’Brien jailed Hamspon for three years, but ordered he be released after serving 12 months. Judge O’Brien ordered Hampson be placed on a two-year probation order upon his release from jail.”
  • Tweeting with the telly on [BBC News] – Twitter TV – it can be more than just #qanda! “The days of families reverentially gathered around the box may be long gone but the doom-mongers who said that on-demand would kill linear TV completely may also be somewhat off the mark. A new generation of viewers is watching what has been dubbed social TV – a synthesis between TV and social networking. A recent study from marketing agency Digital Clarity found that 80% of under-25s used a second screen to communicate with friends while watching TV and 72% used Twitter, Facebook or a mobile app to comment on shows. Currently it is little more sophisticated than watching TV with one eye on Twitter or Facebook, but that is beginning to change as TV executives start to experiment with greater social networking integration. In New Zealand, TVNZ has just launched a new youth channel which sees Facebook heavily integrated to create an interactive entertainment and music show.”
  • Amazon Appstore: what does it mean for developers? [guardian.co.uk] – Amazon launch their new Android App store. Testimony to the choice available on an open system. However, launching it US-only seems ridiculous. Rovio’s ‘Angry Birds Rio’ is free for the first day of Amazon’s App Store, but no one in the US can ‘buy’ it (ie download it) at all. Not a terribly auspicious start. (Oh, and Apple are going to sue them for use of ‘App’ in the name of their App Store.)
  • Piracy: are we being conned? [The Age] – A thoroughly research article which rebukes some of the ridiculous claims in several recent industry-backed “piracy” scare reports: “This month, a new lobbying group, the Australian Content Industry Group (ACIG), released new statistics to The Age, which claimed piracy was costing Australian content industries $900 million a year and 8000 jobs. The report claims 4.7 million Australian internet users engaged in illegal downloading and this was set to increase to 8 million by 2016. By that time, the claimed losses to piracy would jump to $5.2 billion a year and 40,000 jobs. But the report, which is just 12 pages long, is fundamentally flawed. It takes a model provided by an earlier European piracy study (which itself has been thoroughly debunked) and attempts to shoe-horn in extrapolated Australian figures that are at best highly questionable and at worst just made up.”
  • Google accuses China of interfering with Gmail email system [The Guardian] – Google vs China, round two: “Google has accused the Chinese government of interfering with its popular Gmail email system. The move follows extensive attempts by the Chinese authorities to crack down on the “jasmine revolution” – an online dissident movement inspired by events in the Middle East. According to the search giant, Chinese customers and advertisers have increasingly been complaining about their Gmail service in the past month. Attempts by users to send messages, mark messages as unread and use other services have generated problems for Gmail customers. In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Japan, Google set up an application to help people find relatives and friends lost in the disaster. This service too seems to have been compromised. “Relating to Google there is no issue on our side. We have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail,” said a Google spokesman.”

Links for March 2nd 2011 through March 8th 2011:

  • Angry Birds is coming to Facebook, which means it has now pretty much conquered the entire world [News.com.au] – I’m genuinely curious how a hugely popular single-player game will deploy the social dynamics of Facebook in when Angry Birds is re-engineered as a social game: “ANGRY Birds will be flinging itself onto Facebook next month, the makers of the hugely popular game said today. Finland-based Rovio Mobile told tech magazine Wired UK that the Facebook version of Angry Birds will include new aspects of gameplay. “There will be completely new aspects to it that just haven’t been experienced on any other platform,” said Rovio chief executive Mikael Hed. “The pigs will have a more prominent role.””
  • Angry Birds – Letters from the Front Lines [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency] – “Dearest Martha, It has been some time since I’ve had the opportunity to write you, perhaps seven or eight levels. The green pigs have fortified their defenses and there seems to be no end to this madness. They are an industrious lot who have remarkable construction skills in spite of their lack of arms or legs. They’re a formidable enemy but I still envision the day we can bring our eggs home safely. Keep the nest warm for me, Yellow Bird” There’s a lot more where that came from! 🙂
  • Twitter Spoils the Oscars Party for Channel Nine [Mapping Online Publics] – “In addition to their massive global TV audience, the 2011 Academy Awards also featured the #Oscars hashtag for the first time, of course, encouraging even more discussion of the Oscar ceremony on Twitter. And discuss they did – globally, over 500,000 tweets were posted during the marathon five-hour live event of the red carpet arrivals and awards ceremony, peaking at nearly 2500 tweets per minute during the tongue-in-cheek ‘best movie’ song montage. […] what’s especially interesting from our perspective in Australia is the local takeup of Twitter to discuss the Oscars. With ‘spoilers’ about winners and losers being posted on Twitter and other social media sites, it’s now almost impossible not to be aware of the Oscar results well before they reach our screens in the evening – which means that local viewers may still watch the delayed telecast to catch the full pomp and circumstance of the Academy Awards, but the party’s already over by then.”
  • German minister quits amid plagiarism scandal [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Germany’s popular defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has announced his resignation a month after being stripped of his doctoral title over accusations of plagiarism. […] The suave aristocrat, who can trace his family back to the 12th century and whose wife is a direct descendent of the 19th century “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck, had been dubbed “Baron Cut-And-Paste” and “Zu Googleberg” by the media. […] the plagiarism row, which broke after a law professor close to the opposition went through his doctoral thesis, was what finally broke him. Internet sleuths set up a wiki, or collaborative website, to comb through the 475 pages, concluding that more than two-thirds of the dissertation contained evidence of unattributed copying.”
  • Bloody battle over Mortal Kombat ban as critics decry ‘broken’ classification system [The Age] – Australian Video Game Classification: Still Broken, Still Confusing Everyone. “Warner Bros. is appealing a ban on one of the most anticipated game releases of the year, Mortal Kombat, as the federal government’s censors defend their decision to ban Mortal Kombat while allowing a sexy spanking game to be classified PG. Earlier this week it was revealed that the Classification Board had given Mortal Kombat a “refused classification” rating due to its violent gameplay, effectively banning it from sale in this country unless the publisher, Warner Bros., submits a more toned-down version. At the same time, a new risqué title for the Wii, We Dare, is due for release tomorrow and has been given a PG rating despite the game promoting spanking, stripping and sexual partner swapping. The Australian Christian Lobby said the We Dare decision showed the classification system was “broken”. Even the game’s publisher, Ubisoft, says the game is intended for an “adult” audience.”
  • Charlie Sheen Joins Twitter [The Age] – Could the whole Sheen meltdown be part of a campaign to sell a brand of milk? (I’m joking … I think?)
    “Charlie Sheen has once again become an advocate for chocolate milk consumption in his much-anticipated debut on Twitter this morning. The troubled actor, who has been racking up a phenomenal 100,000 followers an hour after joining the micro-blogging site overnight, posted a Twitpic of himself in a kitchen holding a bottle of flavoured milk. Last month the Hollywood bad boy received a round of applause from a university baseball team in California when he offered some anti-drug advice during a congratulatory speech. “Stay off the crack. Drink a chocolate milk,” Sheen said at the time. In an apparent reference to that, the dairy fan posted on Twitter a photograph of himself, the milk and porn star Bree Olson, one of two “goddesses” who lives with him in his Los Angeles home. Olson is pictured holding organic “Naked” juice.”

Links for March 1st 2011:

  • Should an employer ever require your social media passwords as an employment condition? [eGov AU] – “At least one state agency in the US, Maryland Division of Correction, recently started requiring employees to provide their personal Facebook password and allow their employer to scrutinise their account as a condition of continued employment. Apparently this request wasn’t illegal – although it breaches Facebook’s usage policy (which could mean the employee loses their account). The rationale given by the employer was that they needed to review the contents of the account as part of the employment contract. A video of one staff member asked to provide his personal Facebook password is below. […] A number of law enforcement agencies have also apparently begun requesting this information as part of their recruitment process, as reported by USANow in the article, Police recruits screened for digital dirt on Facebook, etc. […] Should employers be allowed to request your passwords?” My answer: absolutely not!
  • Your view from the #Oscars stage [Twitter Media] – “The 83rd Annual Academy Awards captured the country’s attention on Sunday night, but ABC’s cameras didn’t provide the only view. This year’s show was a new kind of 360-degree event, with:
    * a camera-snapping, live-tweeting host;
    * an official hashtag on air; and
    * a big, sustained second-screen conversation on Twitter.
    First: whatever you thought of his hosting, there’s no question that James Franco broke new ground with his tweeting. […] And all together, that represents a brand-new kind of event experience: one where viewers get to experience it from every vantage point, from even the stage itself. And the experience went both ways, because Franco got to hear what the viewers at home were saying, too; his account was mentioned 63,737 times during the show. Second: an official #oscars hashtag appeared on air twice—once near the beginning of the telecast and again near the end: Now, we know that when a hashtag shows up on TV, it causes a surge of Tweets.”
  • Auto-Tune the News Rocks the Oscars: Online Video News [NewTeeVee] – “I’m probably not the only one who was ready to fall asleep halfway through the show during last night’s Oscars telecast, but then it happened: Anne Hathaway and James Franco joked slightly awkwardly about this being “the year of the movie musical,” only to wake up the audience with an awesome auto-tune mash-up, featuring Harry Potter pals Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Woody from the Toy Story franchise, Justin Timberlake playing Sean Parker and Twilight’s Edward, Jacob and Bella. […] The video wasn’t just a tribute to the YouTube auto-tune mash-up phenomenon, though; it was actually produced by none other than the Gregory Brothers, best known for Auto-Tune the News and their Songify This videos. Asked about the collaboration, Evan Gregory told me via email: “The producers of the broadcast reached out to us and asked us to do a piece. Then we collaborated with them over a period of several weeks to pull it together.””
  • 5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 years [Dan Schawbel – Personal Branding – Forbes] – While I don’t agree with all of these points, it is a useful indicator of how central web presence will be in terms of employment now and even more so in the future:
    “5 reasons why your online presence will replace your resume:
    1. Social networking use is skyrocketing while email is plummeting
    2. You can’t find jobs traditionally anymore
    3. People are managing their careers as entrepreneurs
    4. The traditional resume is now virtual and easy to build
    5. Job seeker passion has become the deciding factor in employment”
  • Gmail back soon for everyone [Official Gmail Blog] – Apparently it was “0.02%” of gmail accounts that were temporarily deleted – still tens of thousands of accounts. Google sound confident all data will be back, soon, but that’s an awfully big scare, especially given how stable and reliable Gmail has appeared in the past compared to other cloud email services (yes, Hotmail, I’m looking at you!).
  • Many Gmail Users Can’t Find Their Messages [Google OS] – Woah: Google has (accidentally?) deleted “0.08%” of all gmail accounts. That must be hundreds or thousands of accounts! While I love Gmail, it’s this sort of accident that reminds us all how precarious data in the cloud can be. Google are in the process of restoring these accounts, but even a few days with none of your email or email account would cause real challenges for most people! (Actually the BBC note that this might mean up to 150,000 Gmail accounts!!)
  • iiNet again slays Hollywood in landmark piracy case [The Age] – “The giants of the film industry have lost their appeal in a lawsuit against [Australian] ISP iiNet in a landmark judgment handed down in the Federal Court today. The appeal dismissed today had the potential to impact internet users and the internet industry profoundly as it sets a legal precedent surrounding how much ISPs are required to do to prevent customers from downloading movies and other content illegally. The film studios had sued iiNet arguing that, by not acting to prevent illegal file sharing on its network, it was essentially “authorising” the activity. “I have concluded that the appeal should be dismissed,” Justice Arthur Robert Emmett said in court this afternoon…”
  • Filmed on a phone, spy movie takes out junior Tropfest award [WA Today] – Tropfest under-15 winner shot the whole film on an iPhone: “Simeon Bain cites the 2010 blockbuster Inception as the motivation for his own film, for which he won the Tropfest film festival’s Trop Jr prize this year. Like Inception, Simeon’s film, Imagine, follows the story of a skilled spy, but that is where the similarities end. Simeon’s film was much cheaper, costing $70 to make over three days, and being shot entirely with a mobile phone. ”I was between cameras,” Simeon, from Gisborne, said. ”I was on the verge of getting a new one, and my old camera just wasn’t good enough, so I decided to use my iPhone instead. Filming with a phone has its benefits, because it requires very little set up and it’s highly portable.””
  • What is ‘The Streisand Effect’? [YouTube] – Quirky little video which actually explains the Streisand Effect very clear (short version: attempts to censor information online often lead to that information becoming a lot more popular and viewed!).
  • Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings Every User Needs to Know [Mashable] – Useful list of privacy settings every Facebook user should be aware of.
  • How Angry Birds really took off: 200m minutes a day spent playing it [SMH] – Fluffy article on the development of Angry Birds, but it does highlight the importance of the Apple App Store as a reliable single portal for developers: “Rovio needed a solution and the iPhone provided one. After the phone’s launch in 2007, Rovio realised that their industry was about to change completely. For the first time, users from all over the world would be able to download games from the same place: Apple’s online App Store. So a manufacturer only had to produce one version of a game, reducing costs dramatically.”

Links for January 28th 2011 through February 1st 2011:

  • Apple Moves to Tighten Control of App Store [NYTimes.com] – Apple’s Walled Garden App Store is building even Bigger Walls: “Apple is further tightening its control of the App Store. The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store. Apple rejected Sony’s iPhone application, which would have let people buy and read e-books bought from the Sony Reader Store. Apple told Sony that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple, said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division. The move could affect companies like Amazon.com and others that sell e-book readers that compete with Apple’s iPad tablet and offer free mobile apps so customers can read their e-book purchases on other devices. An iPad owner, for instance, has not needed to own a Kindle to read Kindle books bought from Amazon. That may now change.”
  • Intel warns of $1bn cost of chip fix [Technology | The Guardian] – Ouch! “The chipmaker Intel has halted shipments of its new Sandy Bridge processors and says it will have to spend a total of $1bn (£600m) fixing a fault, delaying hundreds of new PC models for up to three months and potentially stifling growth in the personal computer market. Launched early in January, the Sandy Bridge chip combines standard processing and graphics units on a single die. But Intel said today it had found flaws in a support chip, called Cougar Point, which would have led to failures over time in connections to hard drives and DVDs. The fault will upset production on more than 500 computer models that were to have used the processors. That in turn will hit the PC industry, which has already been suffering from slowing growth in the US and other regions last year. It could also open the door to Intel’s longstanding rival, AMD, which has a similar processor, named Fusion. After the news AMD shares jumped by 5% in early trading in New York, while Intel shares slid by 1.5%”
  • Wary of Egypt Unrest, China Censors Web [NYTimes.com] – “In another era, China’s leaders might have been content to let discussion of the protests in Egypt float around among private citizens, then fizzle out. But challenges in recent years to authoritarian governments around the globe and violent uprisings in parts of China itself have made Chinese officials increasingly wary of leaving such talk unchecked, especially on the Internet, the medium some officials see as central to fanning the flames of unrest. […] two of the nation’s biggest online portals — blocked keyword searches of the word “Egypt,” though the mass protests were being discussed on some Internet chat rooms on Monday. The use of “Egypt” has also been blocked on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Censoring the Internet is not the only approach. The Chinese government has also tried to get out ahead of the discussion, framing the Egyptian protests in a few editorials and articles in state-controlled news publications…”
  • Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions [NYTimes.com] – “About a year ago, the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia, collaborated on a study of Wikipedia’s contributor base and discovered that it was barely 13 percent women; the average age of a contributor was in the mid-20s, according to the study by a joint center of the United Nations University and Maastricht University. Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women. Her effort is not diversity for diversity’s sake, she says. “This is about wanting to ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be,” Ms. Gardner said in an interview on Thursday. “The difference between Wikipedia and other editorially created products is that Wikipedians are not professionals, they are only asked to bring what they know.””
  • Google unveils Web-free ‘tweeting’ in Egypt move [AFP] – “Google, in response to the Internet blockade in Egypt, said Monday that it had created a way to post messages to microblogging service Twitter by making telephone calls. Google worked with Twitter and freshly acquired SayNow, a startup specializing in social online voice platforms, to make it possible for anyone to “tweet” by leaving a message at any of three telephone numbers. “Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground,” Google product manager Abdel-Karim Mardini and SayNow co-founder Ujjwal Singh said in a blog post. “Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service — the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection,” they said.”
  • Man jailed over anti-semitic video [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “A 39-year-old Perth man has been sentenced to three years’ jail for posting an anti-semitic video on the internet. Brendon Lee O’Connell is the first person in Western Australia to be convicted under the state’s racial vilification laws. A jury found him guilty last week of six offences. O’Connell posted a video on YouTube showing him insulting a young Jewish man in 2009. The video also showed O’Connell standing in front of the Perth Bell Tower telling Jews their days were numbered.”
  • Facebook launches mobile deals [BBC News] – In a very clear challenge to FourSquare: “Facebook is launching a service that lets British users earn discounts from high street businesses. Users who visit participating shops can log in from their mobile phones to receive rewards. Companies, meanwhile can use Facebook Deals as a virtual loyalty card or coupon system. The social network has already lined up promotions with several businesses including Starbucks, Debenhams and mobile network O2. The service ties into Facebook Places, an add-on for mobile phones that launched in 2010 as a way for users to share their location with friends. Users who login to Places via the dedicated Facebook app for the iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android system can update their whereabouts – or “check in” – whenever they visit a variety of shops, restaurants and other venues. With Deals, users will not just be able to tell other people their location, but can also take advantage of any special offers that the retailer has.”
  • Android overtakes Symbian in smartphone sales [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Google’s Android overtook the long-time market leader, Nokia’s Symbian, as the world’s most popular smartphone platform in the fourth quarter, according to the research firm Canalys. In total, 32.9m phones running Android were sold to retailers and mobile networks in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared with Symbian’s total sales of 31m in the quarter, the researcher said. In a press release, Canalys noted that Nokia had however retained its lead as the single biggest smartphone vendor, with a 30.6% share of phones shipped. The rise of Android to the top of the smartphone sales chart indicates the popularity of the free operating system with vendors, which do not have to pay a licence fee to use it on their phones.”
  • Angry Birds Go Hollywood [NYTimes.com] – “Angry Birds, the cellphone game that has turned into a cultural phenomenon with 75 million downloads and counting, is lending its wings to a 20th Century Fox movie. To promote the April 15 release of “Rio,” an animated film starring two rare macaws, Fox and Rovio, the small Finnish company behind Angry Birds, said on Friday that Rovio would release Angry Birds Rio. The special edition of the game – the original Angry Birds are kidnapped and taken to Rio – will be made available in March. The announcement was made at an only-in-Hollywood press event on the Fox lot in Los Angeles. As a quartet of Brazilian bongo drummers pounded away on their instruments and reporters guzzled drinks made with Brazilian rum, Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, broke the news.”
  • Amazon Kindle e-book downloads outsell paperbacks [BBC News] – “Amazon has announced that in the US it sold more e-books for its Kindle device than it sold paperback books in the last three months of 2010. […] Amazon announced that in the US since the start of the year it had sold 115 e-book downloads for every 100 paperback books, even excluding its downloads of free books. But it stressed that sales of paperback books were also growing. “Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this year,” said Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. “So this milestone has come even sooner than we expected – and it’s on top of continued growth in paperback sales.” It has not said how many of its Kindle devices it has sold, but did say that they had overtaken the final book in the Harry Potter series to become the top-selling item in Amazon’s history.”
  • Egypt cuts off internet access [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Egypt appears to have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country from late on Thursday night, in a move that has concerned observers of the protests that have been building in strength through the week. “According to our analysis, 88% of the ‘Egyptian internet’ has fallen off the internet,” said Andree Toonk at BGPmon, a monitoring site that checks connectivity of countries and networks. “What’s different in this case as compared to other ‘similar’ cases is that all of the major ISP’s seem to be almost completely offline. Whereas in other cases, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were typically blocked, in this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISPs to stop routing all networks.””

Links for January 10th 2011 through January 18th 2011:

  • Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales: App stores a clear and present danger [TECH.BLORGE.com] – Interesting: “The app store model is a more immediate threat to internet freedom than breaches of net neutrality. That’s the opinion of Wikipedia chief Jimmy Wales. According to Wales — who was quick to stress he was speaking in a purely personal capacity — set-ups such as the iTunes App Store can act as a “chokepoint that is very dangerous.” He said such it was time to ask if the model was “a threat to a diverse and open ecosystem” and made the argument that “we own [a] device, and we should control it.””
  • Wikipedia – an unplanned miracle | Clay Shirky [The Guardian] – “Wikipedia is the most widely used reference work in the world. That statement is both ordinary and astonishing: it’s a simple reflection of its enormous readership; and yet, by any traditional view about how the world works, Wikipedia shouldn’t even exist, much less have succeeded so dramatically in the space of a single decade. The cumulative effort of Wikipedia’s millions of contributors means you are a click away from figuring out what a myocardial infarction is, or the cause of the Agacher Strip war, or who Spangles Muldoon was. This is an unplanned miracle, like “the market” deciding how much bread goes in the store. Wikipedia, though, is even odder than the market: not only is all that material contributed for free, it is available to you free; even the servers and system administrators are funded through donations.”
  • YouTube mobile video viewing surges [The Age] – “YouTube has said it is serving up more than 200 million videos daily to smartphones and other internet-linked mobile devices. News of the milestone came as the Google-owned video-sharing service began routing Vevo music videos from artists such as Lady Gaga and U2 onto smartphones powered by newer versions of Google-backed Android software. “As the world goes mobile and more people watch videos on their smart phones, we expect more partners will take advantage of these new mobile advertising capabilities and make more of their content available across more devices,” YouTube mobile product manager Andrey Doronichev said in a blog post. Android smartphones running on “Froyo” or newer versions of the mobile operating software will be able to access Vevo’s music video library using a free YouTube application, according to Doronichev.”
  • MySpace to shut Australian office [The Age] – “MySpace looks set to close its Australian office as part of its move to cut 500 jobs – or nearly half its staff – potentially setting the stage for a sale of the social network owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.MySpace chief executive Mike Jones said in a statement today that the company would enter into strategic local partnerships to manage advertising sales and content in Australia, with details of partners yet to be finalised. He said the company would retain a core international team to work with partners. It is understood that all Australian positions within MySpace are under review with some opportunities for relocation to other divisions.”
  • MySpace cutting global workforce by half [BBC News] – Ouch: “Struggling MySpace is cutting almost half of its global workforce. The social networking website is getting rid of 500 positions, or 47% of its employees. The announcement comes as MySpace continues to be eclipsed by Facebook, and as it tries to reinvent itself as an entertainment website. MySpace was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation for $580m (£372m) in 2005, but it has struggled to make money for its parent company. Mike Jones, MySpace’s chief executive, said the job cuts were “tough but necessary”, and had been taken to put the website on the path towards growth and profitability.”
  • ‘Angry Birds’ Exec Calls Android Too Complex [Angry Birds World] – “Those who use the Android might wanna whip some “Angry Birds” out on Peter Vesterbacka, the head of business development in North America for Rovio. While there’s a free version of “Angry Birds” for Android users available, a 99-cent version for the iPhone is a huge success. And the iPhone will continue to be “the No. 1 platform for a long time from a developer perspective.” Question is: why? Apple has “gotten so many things right. And they know what they are doing and they call the shots.” Android, too, is growing, he said, “But it’s also growing complexity at the same time.” While there are many devices and carriers that use Android, “device fragmentation (is) not the issue,” Vesterbacka said, “but rather the fragmentation of the ecosystem. So many different shops, so many different models. The carriers messing with the experience again. Open but not really open, a very Google-centric ecosystem. And paid content just doesn’t work on Android.””
  • Celebrities plugging products on Twitter could face legal action [Perth Now] – “As if they aren’t raking in enough money or freebie gifts, greedy British celebs are rapidly utilising the perk power of a new cash cow – their Twitter accounts. However, there could be consequences. Dozens of celebrities, including actress Liz Hurley and singer Lily Allen, face possible court action over claims that they are endorsing products through their Twitter accounts without declaring that they have been paid by the companies concerned, reports the Daily Mail. Celebs who fail to mention that they have a financial interest in ‘plugging’ goods online could be contacted by the UK’s consumer watchdog in the coming weeks. The crackdown has been ordered by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading, which has the power to take offenders to court.”