Category Archives: news

Trove is Shutting Down



Trove says FarewellTrove is a news aggregator that collected stories from thousands of sources, including the big publications and smaller niche blogs. Readers were able to pick the stories that were considered to be the most share-worthy. It functioned like a community of people who were picking out, and sharing, news that interested them.

Trove recently posted a blog titled “Goodbye from Trove”. The blog post said that the Trove team has been integrated with SocialCode. Trove.com and its corresponding apps will be shutting down, forever, on December 16, 2015.

SocialCode posted their own blog which stats that the Trove team will be integrated into the SocialCode team. It also says:

Specifically, we will integrate Trove’s technology and engineering, design, business operations and product teams to accelerate the development of software and services to deliver large-scale advertising campaigns across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.


Reddit to Launch News Site



Reddit logoFor years, social sharing message board Reddit has carried the tagline “The Front Page of the Internet.” Thanks in part to Reddit’s “upvoting” system, which allows users to push items they like to its front page, Reddit has become a reliable source for bringing interesting things to a wider audience.

With this history in mind, Reddit will launch a dedicated news site. Cleverly called Upvoted, the new site will consist of a mixture of different topics, handpicked by a dedicated editorial team. Upvoted itself will actually work quite different from Reddit. Upvoted won’t have a user voting system of its own, nor will it allow for public comments.

The launch of Upvoted is being seen by many as an opportunity to make Reddit more “friendly.” Not just to users but also to advertisers. Reddit has had somewhat of a checkered past, having been embroiled in a number of controversies. Many of its users view Reddit as an “anything goes” zone, where they can post whatever they want. But this mentality can be problematic, as it may offend other users or drive potential sponsors away who don’t want to be associated with Reddit’s Internet drama.

Upvoted launches Tuesday, October 6th. The site is currently showing only a login screen on a protected WordPress page.


Reddit Announces New Anti-Harassment Policy



In the wake of concerns regarding abuse and harassment on social networking site Reddit, the company has adopted a new anti-harassment policy with stricter rules and consequences for abusive activity.

reddit-logo-01-674x501A survey of 15,000 Reddit users in April found that negative and offensive content is the number one reason why users avoid the site and encourage their friends to do the same. In a recent statement, interim CEO Ellen Pao said, “The community wants these improvements… We believe less harassment means more participation, leading to more free expression, better conversations, and better communities.”

Since its creation in 2005, Reddit has been a haven for free expression on the web. Although the site’s openness has provided artists, satirists, and enthusiasts of nearly any topic under the sun, this anything-goes nature has also made the site a hotspot for trolling and cyber abuse. Subreddits promoting revenge porn (the practice of getting “revenge” by posting of sexually explicit images of someone without their consent), child pornography, and other illegal activities have popped up, casting a dark shadow over Reddit’s reputation.

Reddit banned child pornography in 2012; they again updated their policy in February to ban “involuntary pornography” such as revenge porn. With these new changes, Reddit has broadened their policy by defining “harassment” as:

Systematic and/or continued actions to torment or demean someone in a way that would make a reasonable person (1) conclude that Reddit is not a safe platform to express their ideas or participate in the conversation, or (2) fear for their safety or the safety of those around them.

Under the new policy, users can report abusive content by emailing Reddit moderators, who can remove inappropriate content and ban offending users.

Reddit continues to recognize the importance of free speech, stating that the updated policy “will have no immediately noticeable impact on more than 99.99 percent of our users.” The company hopes to make Reddit a safe, inspiring place to share and interact without the underlying threat of abuse and harassment.


Annoying Advert In News Story



Newspapers. I know that you are having a tough time of it at the moment, but here’s a way to make sure that I never visit your website and never buy your newspaper ever again. It’s easy, just insert an advert into a news story and force me to click on it before you show me the rest of the story.

Here’s what you get at the start of the story.

Annoying Advert

After clicking on the correct answer, you now get the rest of the story and an inserted promotional video. How annoying is that? Even worse, you have to click on the correct answer. Clicking on a wrong answer gets you further patronising information about the programme.

Annoying Advert 2

You can check it out for yourself here.

Goodbye Belfast Newsletter – as “the world’s oldest continuously published English publication”, you should know better.


Layoffs and Reorganizing at Electronic Arts



EA Logo Just when you think you’ve heard the last bit of bad news from Electronic Arts (EA), more is revealed. On March 18, 2013, CEO John Riccitello resigned from the company. His position was temporarily taken over by Chairman Larry Probst, who was a previous EA chief executive.

Riccitello’s resignation was probably not a huge surprise to many. EA has had a history of difficulties with their games. In June of 2012, Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) went “free to play”. Shortly after that, EA stopped reporting the number of subscribers the game had (which is never a good sign). Earlier this year, EA gained a lot of negative attention after the fiasco that followed the launch of SimCity. Many gamers were frustrated by the problems with the game, and felt that EA took too long before it acknowledged the problems or tried to fix them.

This month, EA announced that it will be retiring three of the games that are currently available through Facebook. Those games are: The Sims Social, SimCity Social, and Pet Society. They will be gone, forever, as of June 14, 2013. EA has been suggesting that players try out some of the Facebook games made by PopCap (which EA owns) instead.

Today, Kotaku reports that EA has done some layoffs, and is streamlining some of its divisions. Kotaku has published a memo from Larry Probst that was sent to workers while the layoffs were occurring. Here’s a piece of that memo that was released on the EA blog

In recent weeks, the executive team has been tasked with evaluating every area of our business to establish a clear set of priorities, and a more efficient organizational structure. This process has led to some difficult decisions about the number of people and locations needed to achieve our goals.

The workforce reductions which we communicated in the last two weeks represent the majority of our planned personnel actions. We are extremely grateful for the contributions made by each of these individuals – they will be missed by their colleagues and friends at EA.

Other portions of the memo note that Andrew Wilson will take on leadership at Origin (which EA owns). The Vancouver Sun reports that PopCap Vancouver and Quicklime Games studios are shutting down as part of the restructuring at EA. This resulted in some layoffs. Some PopCap Vancouver employees will be placed in jobs at other PopCap or EA studios.


Need to cross China quickly? There’s a train for that



bigstock-High-Speed-Train-18755

China loves its high-speed rail lines. Now the country is boasting that it is even faster and cheaper to go from one end to the other, with the “longest” high-speed rail line in the world — a staggering 2,298 kilometer stretch of metal that reaches from north to south across the nation.

The new trains move at 186 mph and run between  Beijing in the north and Guangzhou in the south. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the ride will still take eight hours, but that is much faster than the previous twenty that this journey used to entail.

Plus there is an added bonus — the $139 price tag for a ticket to go the distance is considerably cheaper than flying. although it does still take more time than traveling by air. Still, a slightly slower journey at a much-discounted price represents real competition. Now, if only services like this would come to the United States, where our infrastructure is in great need of a serious upgrade.

Image High Speed Train by BigStock


The increasingly bizarre world of John McAfee



There is perhaps no need to bore you with past details because by now all of you likely know the saga of John McAfee, the creator of McAfee anti-virus. He has been living on an island along the coast of Belize for the past five years, but recently ran into a bit of trouble there. McAfee hasn’t actually been charged with murder, contrary to what many assume. He is simply wanted for questioning, although the implications are there.

While on the run for the past few weeks in his adopted homeland, McAfee has kept an active blog which is entertaining and sometimes quite strange. In fact, the blog is now pushing a “Boycott Belize” promotion.

This week he surfaced across the border in Guatamala where he filmed a video that was posted to YouTube. He was also arrested there and is being held in prison, from which he is still blogging.

“I am in jail in Guatemala.  Vastly superior to Belize jails.  I asked for a computer and one magically appeared.  The coffee is also excellent.”

“I just spoke with the duty officer at the Embassy who said there is nothing that they can do.  I asked to be returned to the States, and again … nothing they can do.”

“I’ve been reading posts (There’s no TV here).  One poster asked, in a kindly way, whether I felt like killing myself.  My reply: “I enjoy living, and suicide is absurdly redundant.  The world, from the very begining, hurls viruses, accidents, hungry animals, defective DNA — and uncountable more – in an attempt to kill us. It always succeeds. Suicide is simply aiding and abetting.” My spirits are brighter.”

Where will this made-for-TV-movie plot twist to next? Given his ramblings it’s very hard to say. Is he guilty? I am not a judge or even an experienced legal analyst. Is all of this fascinating? There I can emphatically say YES!

Image: John McAfee Facebook page


World Leaders In Their Underpants



North Korea's Kim Jong-un

I’m generally not a big fan of politicians. There’s too many of them, they’re overpaid and they get their job through a blind popularity contest. At least with X-Factor and Pop Idol, the contestants have to show what they’re skilled at before we vote for them.

So it was with much glee that I came across World Leaders in their Underpants which literally strips politicians, dictators and royalty to their underwear. Created by cartoonist Nick Hilditch, he’s drawing his way through the world’s countries and now has over 120 of the world’s most powerful people in their smalls. All in the best possible taste of course. Regrettably, he’s not yet disrobed either the USA’s President or the UK’s Prime Minister so you’ll have to sign up to Nick’s RSS feed, follow @understates or like on Facebook to await their arrival. I’m told by Nick that Iraq is next.

The perfect antidote to Newsweek, Time and The Economist!

Picture courtesy of Nick Hilditch.


VPN Usage On The Rise Where Internet Surveillance Increases



Young Swedes Going Covert On Internet With VPNs

As lawmakers across the globe attempt to pin down a wriggling Internet with rules aimed at stemming file sharing between users (but, curiously, increasing file sharing between governments and corporations), among other things, there appears to be a growing movement towards purchased privacy by the Internet community – particularly the younger folks.

TorrentFreak shared a study this week done by a research group from Lund University in Sweden showing a significant increase in the number of 15 to 25 year-olds buying and using VPN (virtual private network) services – some 40% more since late 2009.

As TorrentFreak points out, Sweden’s Internet community faces a unique strain of web surveillance with its spacious bandwidth and status as homebase to The Pirate Bay – the leading location on the Internet for getting things for free. That puts a lot of eyes on the Internet users of Sweden and, according to Lund University’s Cybernorms research group, 700,000 Swedes are paying for VPN services designed to hinder access to – and surveillance of – their online activities.

Compared to 500,000 Swedes using VPNs in 2009, the demographic pushing the nearly 30% increase in users looking to limit snooping on their web behaviors are young people in the 15 to 25 year-old age bracket. That demo comprises 15% of the total and is up by about 10% from 2009.

It’s not hard to see the pattern. As surveillance (by governments and private entities like Facebook and Google and other Internet entities) continues to heighten under the guise of hunting for file sharers, the technology to prevent such snooping will not only get better, but more people will be willing to shell out a few bucks for it.

If interested in learning more about VPNs, TorrentFreak put together a great list of which VPN providers actually do what they claim, and which ones don’t.

Image: VPN Net from BigStockPhoto.com


World Wide Web Turns 19 Today



Okay, that headline is a bit misleading because World Wide Web, or W3, is actually older than 19, but on April 30, 1993 it officially entered open-source.  That was probably the biggest open source project in history and it was instituted by the “father of the internet”, Tim Berners-Lee while working at CERN in Switzerland.

Berners-Lee, in 1989, wrote the original proposal to use hypertext to “link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will”.  When the project was released to the public domain on this day in 1993 the official document announcing it referred to it as “a global computer networked information system”  It went on to state that “CERN’s intention in this is to further compatibility, common practices, and standards in networking and computer supported collaboration”.

The original browser, simply called “World Wide Web” is still available for download today.  The file size is measured in kilobytes, as opposed to today’s browsers which are many times that size.