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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 August 30th 2010 through September 6th 2010:
- The future of the internet: A virtual counter-revolution [The Economist] – A good overview article which looks at the potential “balkanisation” or fragmenting of the internet into different walled gardens of various sorts. The article focuses on three trends: national governments asserting their power in various ways to regulate their citizens’ access to the web; big IT companies building different walled gardens, from Facebook’s social network to Apple’s regulated iOS and App store; and lastly the push to by big internet providers for tiered internet provision and the push back in the form of net neutrality. (This is a short but useful overview of these issues for teaching purposes.)
- Computers as Invisible as the Air [NYTimes.com] – Useful historical reminder: “The personal computer is vanishing. Computers once filled entire rooms, then sat in the closet, moved to our desks, and now nestle in our pockets. Soon, the computer may become invisible to us, hiding away in everyday objects. A Silicon Valley announcement last week hinted at the way computing technology will transform the world in the coming decade. Hewlett-Packard scientists said they had begun commercializing a Lilliputian switch that is a simpler — and potentially smaller — alternative to the transistor that has been the Valley’s basic building block for the last half-century. That means the number of 1’s and 0’s that can be stored on each microchip could continue to increase at an accelerating rate. […] This is the fulfillment of Moore’s Law, first described in the 1960s by Douglas Engelbart & Gordon Moore, which posits that computer power increases exponentially while cost falls just as quickly”
- Stephanie Rice apologises for ‘offensive Tweet’ [TV Tonight] – “Channel Seven personality and Olympic swimmer Stephanie rice has apologised for a comment she made on her Twitter feed which has been branded as homophobic. After the Wallabies’ win over the Springboks in South Africa on Saturday night, Rice tweeted; “Suck on that f**gots”, adding; “Probs the best game I’ve ever seen!! Well done boys.” Rice has since removed the comment and apologised. “I made a comment on Twitter last night in the excitement of the moment,” she told news.com.au. “I did not mean to cause offence and I apologise. I have deleted it from the site.” Former NRL player, openly gay Ian Roberts slammed her actions. “She is an idiot and anyone who continues to endorse her as an athlete is an idiot as well,” he said. “And I say that with a very sad tone in my voice. What a fool.””
- YouTube Deal Turns Copyright Videos Into Revenue [NYTimes.com] – “Last month, a YouTube user, TomR35, uploaded a clip from the AMC series “Mad Men” in which Don Draper makes a heartfelt speech about the importance of nostalgia in advertising. Viewers wouldn’t notice, but that clip also makes an important point about modern advertising — YouTube is an increasingly fruitful place for advertisers. In the past, Lions Gate, which owns the rights to the “Mad Men” clip, might have requested that TomR35’s version be taken down. But it has decided to leave clips like this up, and in return, YouTube runs ads with the video and splits the revenue with Lions Gate. Remarkably, more than one-third of the two billion views of YouTube videos with ads each week are like TomR35’s “Mad Men” clip — uploaded without the copyright owner’s permission but left up by the owner’s choice. They are automatically recognized by YouTube, using a system called Content ID that scans videos and compares them to material provided by copyright owners.”
- Google’s Earth – William Gibson / Op-Ed Contributor [NYTimes.com] – An insightful and engaging look at today’s cyberspaces and Google’s Earth from William Gibson, over 25 years after he coined the term cyberspace: “We have yet to take Google’s measure. We’ve seen nothing like it before, and we already perceive much of our world through it. We would all very much like to be sagely and reliably advised by our own private genie; we would like the genie to make the world more transparent, more easily navigable. Google does that for us: it makes everything in the world accessible to everyone, and everyone accessible to the world. But we see everyone looking in, and blame Google. Google is not ours. Which feels confusing, because we are its unpaid content-providers, in one way or another. We generate product for Google, our every search a minuscule contribution. Google is made of us, a sort of coral reef of human minds and their products.”
- Introducing Wikileakileaks.org: Your Source for Wikileaks [Valleywag] – Gawker Media try and turn the transparency tables on Wikileaks’ secretive founder Julian Assange by setting up “Wikileakileaks.org: your source for Wikileaks-related secrets, documents and rumors!” The site aims to be an anoymous clearing house for Wikileaks-related material. While there is some merit on turning transparency back on its secretive champions, this also smacks of pettiness since, as Gawker admit, they’ve been blacklisted by Assange after an unfavourable reporting.
- Facebook’s now trying to trademark the word ‘face’ [Chicago Breaking Business] – It gets sillier: “Facebook, which has gone after sites with the word “book” in their names, is also trying to trademark the word “face,” according to court documents. But the social networking site has met with a familiar foe. As TechCrunch first reported, Aaron Greenspan has asked for an extension of time to file an opposition to Facebook’s attempt. Greenspan is the president and CEO of Think Computer, the developer of a mobile payments app called FaceCash. Greenspan, also a former Harvard classmate of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, claimed he had a hand in developing the social networking giant. The case was settled last year. In an interview with CNNMoney.com, Greenspan said the two extensions he filed now give him until September 22 to oppose the “face” trademark attempt. The original deadline was June 23.”
Links for February 2nd 2010 through February 3rd 2010:
- Technology Blamed For Bad Grammar Despite Total Lack Of Causal Evidence [Techdirt] – Sometimes, you just have to blame the journalism: "We were just recently reporting on yet another in a very long line of studies that showed that instant messaging and texting was actually helping kids have better writing skills. So, it was interesting to see an article published up in Canada (thanks to Marcus Carab for sending this in) that claimed a study "proving" that Twitter and texting was causing grammar and spelling problems for students. But, if you read the details of the article, they don’t say that at all. It’s entirely made up by the reporter."
- Charlie Brooker – How To Report The News [YouTube] – An outstanding video which demonstrates how many tv news reports are put together. (Language warning!)
- Tablet [The Chromium Projects] – Early visualisations of the proposed Google tablet (gPad?) driven by the Chrome OS. It’s a long way from built, but the timing of these "visual explorations" is sure to irk Apple. And, to be honest, I’d prefer Chrome OS over Apple’s locked-down App store options!
- Attorney-General Michael Atkinson vows to repeal election internet censorship law amid reader furore [Adelaide Now] – An important backdown on censoring political speech online in South Australia: "Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has made a "humiliating" backdown and announced he will retrospectively repeal his law censoring internet comment on the state election. After a furious reaction on AdelaideNow to The Advertiser’s exclusive report on the new laws, Mr Atkinson at 10pm released this statement: "From the feedback we’ve received through AdelaideNow, the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all MPs and all political parties is unduly restrictive. I have listened. "I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively." Mr Atkinson said the law would not be enforced for comments posted on AdelaideNow during the upcoming election campaign, even though it was technically applicable. "It may be humiliating for me, but that’s politics in a democracy and I’ll take my lumps," he continued in the statement."
- iPad Hardware Reveals Potential Slot for Camera – A built-in webcam would counter a lot of the initial iPad design bashing (and would make it a lot more attractive as a travel-device instead of a netbook): "Perhaps we haven’t learned everything about the iPad just yet. Could an iPad with a camera be in the near future? Mission Repair, a company that fixes broken Apple products, apparently got their hands on some iPad parts. Their pictures showed off the internal frame, which curiously enough has a small hole on the top of the frame. When the Mission Repair team took a camera out of a MacBook and placed it inside the iPad’s top hole, it fight right in."
- Aussies play on through the gloom [Sydney Morning Herald Blogs] – "For the first time, Australians spent over $2 billion on video gaming in 2009, a new record for the industry. Publishers and distributors were ecstatic by the growth of 4 per cent given the much publicised financial crisis. The increase was in stark contrast to the declines seen in most other Western markets, which analysts have blamed on the music genre slump and a lack of innovation in the industry, as well as the GFC. Nintendo continued its dominance of the industry: two thirds of all hardware sold during 2009 in Australia was Nintendo-branded."
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