Month: January 2015

  • Law enforcement and 4chan doesn't mix

    Fascinating piece by Anna Merlan, on being targeted by 4chan, and then realizing what little the law enforcement really could or wanted to do. Too bad about the click-baity post title though, but the article is really worth a read despite that.

  • iOS to require less storage for updates

    Apple has released iOS 8.1.3, and this should make everyone running low on storage happy:

    Reduces the amount of storage required to perform a software update.

    Grab the update by opening the Settings app, go to General, and then Software Update.

  • On media company tech

    Austin Smith, writing about building your own content management system:

    To succeed at building your own platform, you need plenty of cash. Big media companies have access to the kind of capital required to launch a successful custom platform, but startups largely do not. Fusion, the startup-like child of ABC and Univision, is a great example of this. ABC and Univision could bankroll a BuzzFeed-style custom web platform if they wanted to — and have certainly bankrolled a BuzzFeed-style stable of journalism talent — but they opted instead to run WordPress. Likewise, Atlantic Media’s Quartz — which broke ground on reader experience and is often imitated –– picked WordPress.

    Great piece. Building your own CMS is all the craze these days, as it always has been. The difference is the amount of money these media tech/tech media startups are raising, and the general notion that you need to build from scratch to enable the media product. While I do think this can be done, and that some publishing platforms really do help then editorial workflow by opening doors to new forms of reporting, and staying out of the way, I also firmly believe that most of the time the end result is expensive crap. There’s no solid reason to bet against open source if you’re building an editorial product, unless your actual business plan is to raise a lot of money by riding the hype. You might succeed with your own CMS (and buckets of VC money), but you could just as well saved a lot of that cash by not building from scratch.

    It’ll be moot in the end, when the failures rack up, compared to the success (in terms of raising money at least) of Buzzfeed and Vox Media. Then it’ll be considered wasteful to build a CMS that is essentially a hack, more or less limited by the original idea, when there are way more mature options available for free.

  • I'm in Fireside Magazine issue 20

    I’m happy to announce that my short story, My name is Ronald by the way, is in issue 20 of Fireside Magazine. Go forth and read it, along with the rest of the stories in there.

  • Slack is the new chat

    Kiki Schirr, writing about Slack for Tech Cocktail:

    But there are also myriad secret Slacks. Like the now-passé secret groups of Facebook, these are kept relatively quiet; many members don’t even appreciate acknowledgement they exist, let alone mention of being a member. One of my secret groups is for movers and shakers in the startup world, another I’m prohibited from talking about entirely.

    The chat is making a comeback, at least with techies. Personally, I think I’ll keep using Slack for work-related things primarily.

  • People are still using stupid passwords

    People are still relying on stupid passwords, with 12345 and password topping the SplashData list once again. Recode:

    Two new passwords in the top 10 are “696969” and “batman.” Evidently those looking for an easy-to-remember password were feeling less affectionate in 2014, as “iloveyou” fell off the list.

    If you can’t manage unique and proper passwords for your various logins, just get a password manager that you can trust. I use 1Password, and to a lesser extent, the iCloud keychain.

  • The rise of the paperback

    Andrew Liptak, writing about the rise of the paperback, for Kirkus:

    Technological innovations helped as well. Silverman explains that “in the new century, the opportunity for mass-market paperback books emerged again as a result of the introduction of the high-speed roll-fed printing press.” This allowed publishers to print books far more cheaply than ever before, and combined with their distribution methods, Pocket Books was a success. Davis recounted that the publisher’s new books “practically sold themselves. Aided by an enthusiastic reception in newspapers and magazines across the country, de Graff and company did not have to go to the mountain because the mountain was coming to them.” The major publisher’s perception that their products were only valued by the wealthy was a self-fulfilling idea: The masses didn’t buy hardcover books, while the wealthy did. However, hardcovers were expensive and out of reach for most Americans, especially at the end of the Great Depression, and thus only available to those with money. Pulp magazines, a refuge for science-fiction stories, which were bought in larger quantities by the poor and middle classes in America, were largely thought to be of lesser quality, in terms of the physical book, but also that of the content. Now, with an outlet for cheap books, the American public came out in droves to purchase them.

    You might say we’re seeing something similar today, with ebooks.

  • Wired is no longer a pirate ship

    From Wired’s editor-in-chief Scott Dadlich’s memo, regarding the new, and overly stylish, offices:

    It’s an embarrassment: coffee stains on walls (and countertops and desks), overflowing compost bins, abandoned drafts of stories and layouts (full of highly confidential content), day-old, half-eaten food, and, yes, I’m going to say it, action figures. Please. WIRED is no longer a pirate ship. It’s the home of world-changing journalism. It’s the West Coast home of Condé Nast. And it’s increasingly a place where we, and our New York colleagues and owners, host artists, founders, CEOs, and advertisers.

    This sounds horrible, and like a magazine being led even further into the gray mass. The whole piece is published on The Awl, where you can be appropriately stunned, or silently applaud, in which direction the creative juices are supposed to be flowing at Wired when they’ve moved in.

  • Daily Crowdfunder is back at it

    In case you missed it, Daily Crowdfunder is back after the holiday break. Some of the most recent featured campaigns include a Conan board game that looks great, an inspiring documentary, monthly coding packages for kids, and more. Lots of goodies to come too, so check it out, and spread the word if you like what you see.

  • Elon Musk supports AI safety research with $10 million donation

    Elon Musk, of Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX fame, is concerned about artificial intelligence. $10 million concerned actually. Vox reports:

    “AI safety is important,” Musk said in the announcement. “So I’m today committing $10M to support research aimed at keeping AI beneficial for humanity.”

    The money will fund grants to research possible pitfalls of AI and examine ways to build safeguards into AI software. The money will also fund “meetings and outreach programs aimed at bringing together academic AI researchers, industry AI developers and other key constituents to continue exploring how to maximize the societal benefits of AI.”

    In other news, Musk is also considering building a Hyperloop test track in Texas. Does that guy ever sleep?

  • The next laptop isn't a laptop

    Matt Gemmell makes a solid case for the current slew of laptops, and how far we’ve come already, that we really don’t need much more than this. His laptop of choice is the 11“ Macbook Air, which I used to have (now I use the 13” retina Macbook Pro). With that in mind, this makes perfect sense (sparked by the 12" Air rumors, no doubt):

    It’s tough to see what the next step will be, though. My wish list has been exhausted. Every checkbox is checked.

    It is, really. The battery life’s there, and the computing power’s been there for years. The keyboard and trackpad are both great, as is – honestly – the value for money. The one thing that’s left to do is to slap a retina screen on the Macbook Air and it’s the perfect computer. Sure, it can be thinner and lighter, and there’s bound to be a ton of things we haven’t thought about, but then what?


  • The creator of the selfie stick

    Speaking of selfies, The Guardian thinks they’ve found the creator of the original selfie stick, Wayne Fromm.

    Now 60, Fromm stands a good chance of being remembered as “the man who invented the selfie stick”, not least because he’s the man saying that he did so. However, as he admits, people had stuck cameras on poles for years before him. Which raises the question, is a selfie stick really something you can invent? “In hindsight, it’s a simple idea,” Fromm admits. “But if you look at anything – a shoe horn, shoelaces – there’s nothing that wasn’t created by somebody … If it were not for my work over the 10 years, today’s selfie stick would not exist.”

    No word on wether he’s psychotic, although it’d be hard to fault him if that’s the case. After all, he’s not making any money from all those cheap plastic things that sells today, despite being (possibly) entitled to some of the revenue.

  • Selfie psychos

    Gizmodo’s reading academic papers:

    A study surveying the social media habits of 800 men confirmed with science what we’ve always known in our hearts—if you constantly take a bunch of selfies and post them online, you might have some mild psychological issues.

  • Windows 7 is no longer supported (sort of)

    Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7. Well, almost, because you’ll still get security updates, just nothing else. In the words of Vox, of all places:

    After 2020, Windows 7 users are expected to be totally on their own. Microsoft won’t provide support even if you want to pay for it. And if hackers find a vulnerability in the software, Microsoft won’t necessarily fix it.

    That’s quite a commitment. Microsoft are nice that way, so give thanks by not swearing too much the next time your computer reboots on you for no reason other than it thinks that you really need to install the latest Windows update…

  • Blackberry tweets from iPhone, tech bloggers get snarky

    The official Blackberry Twitter account tweets from iPhone, or at least they did once, says The Verge, with screenshotted proof. Now, I don’t believe that this means that Blackberry personnel are in fact iPhone users, but rather that the media agency they’re using need to get its shit together. Naturally, this is snark fodder for tech bloggers of all kinds, since Blackberry is something of the laughing stock these days, with its Blackberry Classic and everything. Personally, I have hard time seeing how this is news, but there you go.