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Digital Culture Links: July 12th 2011

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

  • China’s first ‘virtual property’ insurance launched for online gaming sector [Global Times] – “A Chinese insurance company has unveiled a new type of “virtual property” insurance that might be the first of its kind in the world. The new service, tailored for online game players, was jointly launched by Sunshine Insurance Group Corporation and online game operator and manufacturer Gamebar. The two companies agreed to create the virtual property insurance amid an increasing number of disputes between online game operators and their customers, often related to the loss or theft of players’ “virtual property” such as “land” and “currency.” Over 300 million people engage in online gaming in China, and these players sometimes become involved in arguments with game operators due to the loss of property.” [Via]
  • First lesson of viral video: No monkey business [Online Video News] – “Apes with assault rifles are just a bad idea: That’s the lesson 20th Century Fox wanted to convey with a viral video it published on YouTube last week. The video shows a group of soldiers from an unidentified African country having some fun with a chimpanzee. Then one of the soldiers hands the ape an AK-47, and the animal takes aim at the soldiers. The clip is a viral video ad for the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie, complete with a semi-authentic and amateurish look and some subtle branding that identifies it as content of the “20th Century Fox Research Library.” And so far it has been a success, if you only measure view counts: The video has attracted more than 4.5 million views since being published last Wednesday. But a look at the YouTube comment section tells a different story: A substantial number of commenters take the opportunity to drop the n-word, compare black people to monkeys or publish other kinds of racial slurs.”
  • Fifty Million [Matt Mullenweg] – On July 11, 2001, Worpress “passed over 50,000,000 websites, blogs, portfolios, stores, pet projects, and of course cat websites powered by WordPress.” That’s a lot! 🙂
  • Smartphone Adoption and Usage – 11 July 2011 [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – “In its first standalone measure of smartphone ownership, the Pew Internet Project finds that one third of American adults – 35% – own smartphones. The Project’s May survey found that 83% of US adults have a cell phone of some kind, and that 42% of them own a smartphone. That translates into 35% of all adults. […] Some 87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their handheld, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day. When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer.” [Full Report PDF]
  • Apple App Store: 15 Billion Downloads & Counting [Mashable] – “Apple’s App Store has generated 15 billion downloads since its launch in July 2008, Apple has announced. The App Store now offers more than 425,000 apps, 100,000 of which are created specifically for Apple’s tablet, the iPad. Apple has paid developers more than $2.5 billion to date. Given Apple’s 30/70 revenue split with app developers, that means Apple itself has netted more than $1 billion directly from app sales. In January 2010, the App Store surpassed 3 billion downloads, and in January 2011, Apple announced that the App Store surpassed 10 billion downloads. It took Apple’s App Store only six months to jump from 10 billion to 15 billion downloads.”
  • Zynga Launches PrivacyVille, a Gamified Version of Its Privacy Policies [Inside Social Games] – Gamification of Zynga’s privacy policy! “As Zynga edges closer to its initial public offering, the social game developer seems concerned with educating the masses both on social game revenue models and on the actual fine print of social game privacy policies. Today, the company announces PrivacyVille, an interactive walkthrough of its privacy policies that rewards participants with zPoints to spend in gift network RewardVille. The experience can be clicked through in about two minutes, with each structure on the CityVille-like map representing a different component of Zynga’s privacy policy. The tutorial text seems to stress to readers that Zynga will collect players’ information from Facebook and from mobile devices and share it with third-party service providers, the legal system in the case of a court ordered disclosure, and with other players in cases where a player’s icon displays a link back to their Facebook account.”
  • Natalie Tran: Down Under’s Top YouTuber Considers Her Next Move [Forbes] – Quick profile of Natalie Tran, the person behind Australia’s most subscribed to YouTube channel (communitychannel): “Around the world, young adults like Natalie Tran are facing a key moment in their lives: they’ve been graduated from university and are examining the success and failures of their academic years to decide which direction to take their careers. It’s just that most of those students have not built an international fan-base at this point. Tran, 23, has. The Sydney, Australia resident recently received her Digital Media degree from the University of New South Wales. I hope she got at least one high mark for this fact: Tran is Australia’s most-subscribed-to YouTuber. Over the past five years, her “communitychannel” has amassed nearly 1 million subscribers and her videos have garnered nearly 400 million upload views. Reasons: Smart, funny, quirky, beautiful. Why complicate matters?”
  • Google Realtime goes dark after Twitter agreement expires [VentureBeat] – “Google has taken its powerful Realtime search product offline after a 2009 agreement to display up-to-the-minute Twitter results expired. The shutdown of Realtime comes just as Google is in the process of rolling out Google+, its new social networking initiative that competes with Twitter. Google said it planned to relaunch Realtime search after retooling it and adding in Google+ results. “Since October of 2009, we have had an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results through a special feed, and that agreement expired on July 2,” Google told Search Engine Land. “While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google. Our vision is to have google.com/realtime include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources.””
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Curtin’s Internet Filtering and Blocking

How much does your educational institution filter the internet, especially if you’re at tertiary level (because K-12 filtering has other issues attached to it)? I ask because in my recent shift to Curtin, I’ve discovered the joys of university-level internet filter, something that didn’t happen at my previous institution.  The list of blocked or click-thru site (ie not completely blocked, but having a warning message asking if you really need this website) seems to alter week to week. This morning, every time I want to visit Twitter, Plurk, Facebook or even a wordpress.com blog, I have to click through a warning page; every time I reload, I have to click through a warning page.  Apart from being highly frustrating, I’m currently redesigning several units which are thematically linked by the concept of web presence; almost everything I want students to look at will have these warnings on the Curtin network.  I wonder how many students will get frustrated and give up on the unit?  This morning’s blocks so far …





Ironic Update: The first attempt to upload this blog post from my work computer led me to discover that even this website is blocked now:


I wonder what sort of hoops I’m going to have to jump through to try and fix this? 🙁

Update 2: Most of the blocking seems to have magically stopped as suddenly as it began about 12 hours ago so, being generous, I’d like to believe this was an accidental blocking … I’d really like to believe that …

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Upgrades, Deletions, Apologies … and a Little Anger

404Visitors to this blog may have noticed many things broken or not got anything but a 404 for the last 12 hours. My apologies – most is now fixed, but let me explain. Last night, about 5 minutes before I went to bed, I got this email:

from: “support@secureserver.net” <support@secureserver.net>
subject: Update [Incident ID: 2110748] – Information Regarding Your Account for tamaleaver.net

Support Staff Response

Dear Sir/Madam,
It has come to our attention that your tamaleaver.net hosting account is running a vulnerable version of wordpress. This has caused an attacker to upload malicious content to your hosting account. We have removed the malicious content and have disabled the vulnerable script.
To prevent further attacks, we request that you update your version of wordpress as soon as possible. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Advanced Hosting Support

I was a little surprised since I was running 2.1.3 which, to the best of my knowledge, was fine (and I was not running the buggy 2.1.1). However, I figured I’d check in the morning what had been deleted – I presumed a script that wasn’t part of the standard WordPress world, so that was fine. However, to my horror this morning when I checked, I found that “support” (and I use the term very broadly) had done at least two things: deleted my entire wp-admin directory, and deleted a number of image files (the reason for which I can’t even begin to fathom). As a result, this blog has been rather stuffed for the last 12 hours. Since it was broken anyway, I’ve now upgraded to WordPress 2.2 and got almost everything back and running. However, a month’s worth of uploaded images were deleted, and I’ve not backed up since the end of April, so they can’t be recovered (thus, if you find a blog post with an image missing … primarily from posts in May 2007, this is why; I’ll try and replace them at a later stage.)

So, sorry for the downtime, if I had any control over it I’d promise it wouldn’t happen again! That said, the support folk at secureserver (whom GoDaddy use) will be getting a rather frank email about the over-deletion of my files, and, more to the point, a request to exactly what they think happened since I’ve seen no evidence myself of any malicious content.

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Delicious Dilemmas

Sadly, that title means dilemmas in using del.icio.us and WordPress together, not dilemmas in deciding my next dessert! 🙁 For over a month now I’ve been using del.icio.us’ “Blogging: daily blog posting” tool to create daily posts containing my del.icio.us bookmarks in the preceding 24 hours. These posts are timed to occur at 0 GMT (8am my time), but I noticed on Saturday morning, despite a number of bookmarks waiting to appear, none did. Nor did my Sunday post arrive. So, checking del.icio.us, I found this error notice:

results:Running at Sun Apr 15 00:31:03 2007 GMT<br>Fetched 1 items.<br>posting error was: 408 Request Timeout <br>

My first concern was that WordPress had a new issue, but since I was still using 2.1.2 (and had been for more than a week, with successful posts during that time), I looked at GoDaddy (my hosts) which produced a rather intricate and inexplicably complex maze, but in the end no errors could be found in WordPress or my database. So, next I tried to install WordPress 2.1.3 since it has a bug-fix for what they call a “major XML-RPC issue”, which might have stopped del.icio.us talking to my installation of WordPress. No improvements there. Then digging deeper into the WordPress forums I found this thread – WP 2.1.3 slow performance – in which a number of people talk about slowdowns using the 2.1 versions of WordPress but, probably not coincidentally, most are using GoDaddy. So, I phoned GoDaddy support who, after 20 minutes – and putting me on hold for at least 15 of those minutes – I’m told that there’s nothing wrong at their end; their servers are running ‘optimally’, as is my database. Also to my surprise, the support guy had never heard of del.icio.us. (And, I should add, even using Skypeout, calling the US for 20 minutes from Australia isn’t the cheapest thing to do.) Finally, I’ve gone back to del.icio.us and tried to run a slightly different daily blog posting request, but still I get the same error!

So, the short version of this story is: no daily links until I can figure out what’s going on (and, to be frank, I think I’ve exhausted my technical knowledge). If anyone has advice or an alternate way to automate daily del.icio.us summary posts in WordPress, that’d be most welcome. (However, I have tried postalicious and that just times out!). Help!

Update (Monday, 9am): Despite all my failed attempts, my link-posts returned on Monday morning; I have no idea why, but I should know better than to question by now!

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