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.””
Anatomy of an Unpublished Chapter [Just TV] – Jason Mittell’s insightful post about academic publishing in general, and the challenges of balancing copyright, readership and academic reputation. I admire Jason’s decision to give up publishing a chapter in a collected edition due to the inflexible copyright demands of the publisher (including a requirement for him to remove a pre-print version on his blog); that said, at this stage of my academic career, I’m definitely not established enough to be this brave!
Terminating employees for their conduct on social media sites – Malcolm Burrows (B.Bus.,MBA.,LL.B.,GDLP.,MQLS Associate) offers some useful advice and tips about social media and the law in Australia, especially as to whether it’s legal to fire someone for social media comments made outside of work time (short answer: mostly no, but with some important exceptions).
When Facebook Says – You Have Too Many Friends [NYTimes.com] – 5000 Facebook friends: that’s your limit.
“anthropologist and Oxford professor Robin Dunbar has posed a theory that the number of individuals with whom a stable interpersonal relationship can be maintained (read: friends) is limited by the size of the human brain, specifically the neocortex. “Dunbar’s number,” as this hypothesis has become known, is 150. Facebook begs to differ. […] Facebook famously co-opted the word “friend” and created a new verb. Friending “sustains an illusion of closeness in a complex world of continuous partial attention,” said Roger Fransecky, a clinical psychologist and executive coach in New York (2,894 friends). “We get captured by Facebook’s algorithms. […] Facebook discourages adding strangers as friends, adding that only a tiny fraction of its 400 million users have reached the 5,000 threshold, at which point Facebook wags its digital finger and says: That’s enough.”
Facebook, you’ve been sent a message . . . Angry users quit over privacy fears [The Australian] – “Tens of thousands of other disaffected former Facebook fans are also due to commit mass account suicide today, which has been declared “Quit Facebook Day” in a grassroots campaign started by two tech guys, Joseph Dee and Matthew Milan. Motivating them in part are the increasing privacy concerns surrounding the world’s most popular networking site. As of yesterday afternoon, about 24,000 Facebook users had committed to leaving, according to the tally on QuitFacebookDay.com. That’s about 0.006 per cent of the site’s approximately 400 million active users. However, surveys show growing dissatisfaction with the site, with users complaining settings make it too hard to restrict who can view their personal information and too easy for them to inadvertently share details with third-party websites, which mainly use the information to better target them for advertising.”
iPad DRM endangers our rights [DefectiveByDesign.org] – The petition against Apple’s iPad (and other) DRM: "DRM will give Apple and their corporate partners the power to disable features, block competing products (especially free software) censor news, and even delete books, videos, or news stories from users’ computers without notice– using the device’s "always on" network connection. This past year, we have seen how human rights and democracy protestors can have the technology they use turned against them. By making a computer where every application is under total, centralized control, Apple is endangering freedom to increase profits. Apple can say they will not abuse this power, but their record of App Store rejections and removals gives us no reason to trust them. The iPad’s unprecedented use of DRM to control all capabilities of a general purpose computer is a dangerous step backward for computing and for media distribution. We demand that Apple remove all DRM from its devices."
12 Key Features Apple iPad lacks [SMH] – It’s 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 which will stop me buying the first release iPad (I suspect much of this will be fixed by iPad 2.0!): "1. iBooks is initially US-only 2. No built-in camera 3. No USB ports 4. No memory card read 5. Keyboard dock sold separately 6. No multi-tasking 7. No Adobe Flash support 8. Can only run Apple-sanctioned apps 9. Can only access iTunes videos and music 10. Lacks HDMI port 11. Screen is 4:3 aspect ratio, not 16:9 widescreen 12. No full GPS support"
New page in publishing turns on Apple’s offering [The Australian] – eBooks, eBooks, eBooks, OI, OI, OI: "The use of e-book readers is in its infancy in Australia but Apple’s iPad will be the harbinger of a change in the way Australians read books, says the nation’s largest independent publisher. Allen & Unwin’s digital publishing director, Elizabeth Weiss, said: "There is a buzz around. We think iPad will further stimulate interest in e-books." E-book sales – either via a PC or readers such as Amazon’s Kindle – are statistically insignificant in the $2.5 billion book market in Australia, but the industry is expecting a similar pattern to the US where, in less than two years, and during a deep recession, digital books have captured about 5 per cent of the market. "You’ll see a rapid take-up over the next six months," said Australian Booksellers Association chief executive Malcolm Neil. But he said that could result in some smaller booksellers losing market share and being forced to close."
Microsoft Releases a Study on Data Privacy Day [Microsoft Privacy & Safety] – More evidence that your web presence doesn’t ever just stay on the web: "Our study found 70% of surveyed HR professionals in U.S. (41% in the UK) have rejected a candidate based on online reputation information. Reputation can also have a positive effect as in the United States, 86% of HR professionals (and at least two thirds of those in the U.K. and Germany) stated that a positive online reputation influences the candidate’s application to some extent; almost half stated that it does so to a great extent. What we hope people take away from this research is that an online reputation is not something to be scared of; it’s something to be proactively managed. That means not just removing (or not posting) negatives, but also building the online reputation that you would want an employer (or friend or client) to find."
Google Routes Around App Store On The iPhone… Others Can Too [Techdirt] – Apps want to be free, too: "I was just recently suggesting that the massive focus on "apps" and "app stores" may be a red herring, as eventually many of those apps can be built via the web (especially as HTML 5 moves forward), without having to go through any kind of app store approval process. So it’s worth noting that, in fact, Google has done exactly that with its Google Voice app for the iPhone (doing so because of problems getting a client-side app approved by Apple)."
How-To: Read George Orwell’s 1984 on your Kindle [Make Online] – “Citizen! If you bought a copy of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-four,” (1984) for your Kindle it was deleted. It appears that the publisher changed its mind about digital versions (update, they were never allowed to publish them in the first place) and Amazon reached in and removed it from your reader. Sorry for the inconvenience! So, what to do? Let’s assume you’re going to go on a nice trip, like Australia, and you really wanted to read 1984 – once you get there, you can easily reload your Kindle with a copy of 1984.” (Yes, under Australian copyright law, 1984 is in the public domain!) [Via BBoing]
Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions [Federal Government] – “The Australian Government released the Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions paper on 14 July 2009 which outlines: * why the digital economy is important for Australia * the current state of digital economy engagement in Australia and why current metrics point to a need for strategic action * the elements of a successful digital economy * the role for the Government in developing Australia’s digital economy, and * case studies of Australians who have successfully engaged with the digital economy from a diversity of industries including content, e-health, maps, banking, education, smart technology and citizen journalism.”
SharePod – Nifty freeware application for backing up music FROM your iPod/iPhone to your PC. Especially useful if your computer dies and you want to restore your library from your iPod rather than ripping the music of 200+ CDs!
Iran – The Rebellion Network [Foreign Correspondent – ABC] – Foreign Correspondent Story: ‘The Rebellion Network’ originally broadcast 07/07/2009, reporter: Eric Campbell. A solid overview of the role of social media in the post-election protests and other social movements in Iran (with particular mention of Twitter).
Links for April 14th 2009 through April 17th 2009:
Digging up dirt: Facebook spies for hire [The Age] – “Large companies and government departments are employing a new Sydney-based company to dig up dirt on staff by spying on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube posts. SR7 specialises in “online risk and reputation management” and claims to be the only company in Australia that actively monitors social networking sites on behalf of companies. It was formed about eight months ago in response to the growing trend for people to take conversations they would have traditionally had with mates at the pub on to their social network profiles. Few people realise these seemingly private sites are still public spaces. If controversial posts leak to the media, it can lead to brands suffering immense damage to their reputations. SR7 director James Griffin said business was booming following recent public relations disasters sparked by the stupid social network behaviour of a few rogue employees.” (The golden rule: if it’s online, presume it’s public!)
Twitter activist goes into hiding [The Age] – “The woman behind the mass protests which rocked the capital of Moldova last week has gone into hiding after the so-called “Twitter Revolution” forced a recount of the general election. Natalia Morar, 25, a Moldovan who has already been banned from Russia for opposing the Kremlin, feared arrest after organising a flash mob which ended with 20,000 people storming the parliament building. Protests began after a conversation between Ms Morar and six friends in a cafe in Chisinau, Moldova’s tiny capital, on Monday, April 6, the day after the parliamentary elections. The elections brought a larger-than-expected victory for the incumbent Communist Party. Suspecting vote-rigging, “we decided to organise a flash mob for the same day using Twitter, as well as networking sites and SMS,” …With no recent history of mass protests in Moldova, “we expected at the most a couple of hundred friends, friends of friends, and colleagues”, she said. “When we went to the square, there were 20,000 people””
Twitter Gets the Oprah Treatment [Bits Blog – NYTimes.com] – “It is the universal sign of a new idea going mainstream: Oprah Winfrey is bestowing her endorsement on Twitter. The woman who can single-handedly send a new product or book flying off the shelves has just joined Twitter.” I can’t wait for Oprah’s tweet of the month … 😛
Links of interest for September 24th 2008 through September 25th 2008:
‘Heroes’ Causes BitTorrent Boom [TorrentFreak] – “An example of the BitTorrent traffic boost was reported yesterday, as Mininova got 10 million downloads in a single da. A record breaking figure, in part thanks to the debut of ‘Heroes’ and several other shows. Other BitTorrent sites report a similar increase in traffic. It’s Heroes that breaks all the records though. Our statistics show that, across all BitTorrent sites, the two episodes from Heroes’ season opening were downloaded well over a million times each – in just one day. The vast majority of the downloads come from outside the US (92%), where shows usually air weeks, months or even years later. The show was downloaded the most in the UK (15%), where the official season opening is scheduled for October 1st. Canada, France and Australia complete the top 5.” (Which is really interesting to compare with the US domestic TV viewership was down 25%.
Spore copyright control relaxed [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “Video game maker Electronic Arts has loosened copyright protection for the newest release of its game Spore. Released earlier in the month, the game received a flurry of complaints about a restriction that meant the game could only be registered to three computers. That restriction has now been raised to five computers, which the company says should account for all legitimate uses. The company has also addressed the complaint that each copy of the game only allows one player to use it. ” (A step in the right direction … a small step, I should add, but it would be Spore suicide for EA not to learn from the Amazon one-star anti-DRM protest!)
Doh! Cartoons pulled from Russian TV [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Pornographic, extremist and immoral – that’s how Russian prosecutors are describing popular US cartoons like The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park. The channel that carries them has been forced to suspend broadcasts of the offending programs pending legal action. On Wednesday (local time), a meeting of a government monitoring agency could take channel 2×2 off the air.” (I wonder how long it will take before South Park is advertised with the tagline “Pornographic, extremist and immoral – Russia”?)
Interesting links for August 21st 2008 through August 22nd 2008:
Monkey Magic – Karen Lury / University of Glasgow [Flow TV, 8.06] – Playful and engaging reading of the BBC Monkey-style BBC Opening for the Olympic Games: “A playful, irreverent choice then: a trailer that reverses a mythic journey (from West to East) and which pays overt homage to a cult TV series that was never – in any coherent sense – an ‘authentic’ reflection or interpretation of Chinese culture or mythology. … The animation itself reproduces certain static poses and a colour scheme that may have been inspired by Chinese illustration and Japanese Manga; but for Hewlett fans, this is recognisably a Hewlett world – a world that is both menacing and cute (and where ‘cute’ is revealingly close to its roots in the freakish world of the side-show). It is funny and slightly unsettling as Pigsy smirks provocatively or when Monkey opens his mouth to reveal his dirty and surprisingly sharp teeth.”
Digital futures report: the internet in Australia [CCI] – “This report provides an overview of our work, presenting results for each of the questions asked. We will also be publishing work that examines relationships between our key variables exploring, for example, differences between users with broadband access at home and those on dial-up connections and the differences that age, gender and education levels make to people’s use and experience of the internet. Analysis we have already conducted shows that broadband does make a substantial difference to peoples’ use of the internet. The internet is more highly valued by those with broadband connections and they use the internet for longer and for a greater variety of purposes. Younger people have been quick to integrate the internet into their lives, they use the internet more and particularly for entertainment.” [Full Report PDF]
Few lives left for Second Life [The Age] – “Separately, figures released by the virtual world’s creator Linden Lab in April show there are only 12,245 active Australian Second Life users, down from highs of 16,000 towards the end of last year. … Australians appear to have lost interest in Second Life and the users still there appear to be shying away from the big corporate brands. Kim MacKenzie, a PhD student at the Queensland University of Technology, centred her honours year thesis around the business applications of Second Life. She studied the Second Life bases of 20 international brands over three months last year, including Dell, Toyota, Coca-Cola, BMW, AOL and Vodafone. “They were like ghost towns,” said MacKenzie, adding that many of the users she saw on the company islands appeared to be staff members.” (A significant rebuttal of the information and argument in this article can be found at Personalize Media.
For YouTube videos, a ‘fair use’ boost [News.com] – “Copyright owners, such as NBC Universal, Warner Bros., and Viacom, were put on notice Wednesday when U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that they must not order video be removed from Web sites indiscriminately. Before taking action against a clip, copyright owners, must form a “good-faith belief ” that a video is infringing, according to Corynne McSherry, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “
Poor earning virtual gaming gold [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “Nearly half a million people are employed in developing countries earning virtual goods in online games to sell to players, a study has found. Research by Manchester University shows that the practice, known as gold-farming, is growing rapidly. Researchers say the industry, which is largely based in China, currently employs about 400,000 young people who earn £80 per month on average.” (Good article, but really, “playbourers”?)
Up, Up, and Away? Separating Fact from Fiction in the Comic Book Business [Alisa Perren / Georgia State University – Flow TV 8.06] – A timely look at the relationship between comic book sales and the blockbuster movies they’ve been driving so successfully this year: “Myth #1: Comic-Con is all about comics. From its inception in 1970 well into the 1990s, this was largely the case. However, in recent years, the Hollywood studios increasingly have focused their energies on using the annual event as a means of promoting upcoming films and television programs. … Myth #2: Since movies based on comics are all the rage, comic books must be selling like crazy.”
iTunes blocked in China after protest stunt [WA Today] – “Access to Apple’s online iTunes Store has been blocked in China after it emerged that Olympic athletes have been downloading and possibly listening to a pro-Tibetan music album in a subtle act of protest against China’s rule over the province. The album, called Songs for Tibet, was produced by an a group called The Art of Peace Foundation, and features 20 tracks from well-known singers and songwriters including Sting, Moby, Suzanne Vega and Alanis Morissette. It was released as a download on the iTunes Store on August 5 – three days before the start of the Olympics – with the physical CD launched on Tuesday this week. The Foundation provided free downloads of the album to Olympic athletes, urging them to play the songs on their iPods during the Games as a show of support.”