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Sony DDoS Attack May Have Been Smokescreen
August 25, 2014
Sony's PlayStation and Sony Entertainment networks were taken down over the weekend by a distributed denial of service attack. The hackers, who call themselves the "Lizard Squad," also forced authorities to divert a plane Sony Entertainment president was on by tweeting that there might be a bomb on board. A hacker with the handle "FamedGod" later claimed responsibility for the DDoS attack.
Nextdoor Offers Digital Path to Neighborliness
August 25, 2014
A mother in Walnut Creek, California, recently placed an expensive order for baby formula and diapers that never arrived. Subsequent investigation showed that the package had been delivered but snatched from her doorstep. That's a common enough story in this era of e-commerce, but this one has a happy ending. The woman turned to a social network for help.
Google Autocomplete's Brushes With Libel
August 25, 2014
Can an automated Google feature that ostensibly helps users with a search be a basis for libel? Courts in Germany, Italy and Hong Kong have had to field that question. Google's position is that there is no human intervention, and that its algorithm is based merely on what others have searched for, or strings of words in indexed pages. Autocomplete predictions are just possible search terms.
Twitter Tromps on Spammers
August 25, 2014
Twitter has reported success with its BotMaker spam-prevention system. Because Twitter operates in real time, BotMaker is designed to work fast to eliminate spammers. Its main goals are to bar spam accounts from being created, to reduce the time they spend on Twitter if they do show up, and to reduce Twitter's reaction time in responding to spammer workarounds that bypass its protection systems.
SoundCloud to Run Ads, Share the Loot
August 22, 2014
SoundCloud on Thursday launched On SoundCloud, a program that will facilitate advertising on the site. Membership initially is by invitation only; SoundCloud will roll it out to a select number of artists. It later plans to bring on more advertisers and make the program available to the general membership. The announcement sparked a mixed response. "Really dude?" wrote "creator 1,000,001. "Ads?"
Hack Day Produces Oculix, a Mind-Blowing Trip Through the Netflix Catalog
August 21, 2014
A team of Netflix programmers merged the company's videos with the virtual reality capability offered by the Oculus Rift headset as a fun project on Netflix Hack Day. The Oculix media app lets users browse a floating 3D Netflix video catalog using head turning movements and hand gestures. Once a selection is made, the user can watch the video in a VR theater setting.
Dropbox's Mailbox Lands on Mac Desktop
August 20, 2014
Dropbox, which acquired Mailbox last year, on Tuesday announced the availability of a Mac-only desktop beta version of the program. The beta is free, but you need a "betacoin" to download it. Betacoins are being emailed to existing users of the program, as well as people who sign up at the Mailbox website. Desktop Mailbox has a number of new features not found in its mobile doppelgangers.
Google May Start Grooming Little Googlers
August 19, 2014
Google may soon allow kids under 13 to have their own personal accounts on services such as YouTube and Gmail. Under the new system, parents would be able to set up accounts for their children, control their use of those accounts, and regulate the information collected about them. "You could say that Google is just recognizing reality," said the Local Search Association's Greg Sterling.
Google Straps On Jetpac to Take Search to New Heights
August 19, 2014
Google has acquired Jetpac, according to a statement that appeared Friday on the Jetpac website. Jetpac is the creator of a handful of apps, including City Guides, which analyzes Instagram photos and then automatically creates guides based on the collected data. That information gives users a lot of search options. Not only can they find coffee shops, for example -- they can find the hippest.
Facebook Adds Training Wheels for the Humor-Impaired
August 19, 2014
Facebook has begun labeling some of the satirical news articles that appear in users' news feeds with a tag designed to prevent readers from mistaking the content for genuine news. The social network's "[Satire]" tag is apparently part of an experiment that's been under way for a month or so. The rules for its application don't seem to be entirely clear.
Twitter Experiment Elicits Howls of Disapproval
August 18, 2014
Twitter's latest tinkering with its members' timelines appears to be ticking off more than a few tweeters. The experiment opens timelines to tweets members' followers have tagged as favorites, as well as to some popular tweets gleaned from their followers' timelines. "Changing the rules of engagement for users without notice is very Facebookian of you Twitter," tweeted Peter Singer.
Loving Linux: Ain't Nothin' Like the 1st Time
August 18, 2014
You never forget your first love, and that appears to apply just as well to Linux as to relationships in real life. To wit: "What was your first Linux distro?" is the title of a recent "Voice of the Masses" poll, and throughout the blogosphere the nostalgic reminiscences have been pouring forth ever since. Some 100 bloggers proclaimed their first Linuxy loves in the poll's comments.
The New Golden Age of TV
August 15, 2014
Over the top, or OTT, video-streaming service Netflix has been doing something right. Netflix snagged 15 prime-time Emmy nominations for its original series, including best drama for House of Cards and best comedy for Orange Is the New Black. The company launched in 1997 as a DVD-by-mail service and successfully transitioned into becoming the leading online video service.
Twitter to Review Toothless Policies on Cyberharrassment
August 15, 2014
A deluge of hateful tweets after the suicide of actor Robin Williams earlier this week forced his daughter Zelda to publicly quit Twitter and Instagram. "We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter," Del Harvey, the company's vice president of trust and safety, said in a prepared statement. Twitter has suspended "a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules."
Vevo Music Videos Get Pinned
August 14, 2014
Pinterest said Wednesday that it has signed a deal that will allow users to create boards that include their favorite Vevo music videos. They now will be able to share, search for and watch Vevo videos on Pinterest, as well as pin videos to Pinterest straight from Vevo.com or the Vevo iOS app. The move is an indication that Pinterest is serious about providing a broader social platform.
If the Internet Could Speak: 'I'm Melting! Melting!'
August 14, 2014
Millions of users were unable to access the Web Tuesday, according to reports. The websites of eBay, Amazon, Autotrader, LinkedIn, Time Warner and Verizon were among those hit. The problem is due to a combination of factors: router configuration; the explosive growth of connected devices; and IPv4 running out of addresses. "The industry faces many limitations," said tech analyst Rob Enderle.
Snowden Blows NSA's MonsterMind
August 13, 2014
The NSA is working on a new program codenamed "MonsterMind" that will automate the monitoring of traffic patterns on the Internet to look for attacks, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed. When it detects an attack, MonsterMind will automatically block it from entering the U.S. cyberinfrastructure. It also will automatically fire back at the server from which the attack was launched.
FOSS' Documentation Dilemma
August 11, 2014
Hang around for any length of time in the seedy bars and watering holes of the Linux blogosphere, and you'll soon realize that certain topics tend to recur with surprising frequency. The most obvious example, of course, is the Year of Linux on the Desktop -- a topic scientists have determined will surely outlive us all. The latest example to rear its head? FOSS documentation.
Joining Forces to Harness the Internet of Things
August 08, 2014
A rising tide of interest has sparked a series of competitive moves among the widening array of software and technology providers vying for a share of the rapidly expanding IoT market. As with previous major IT industry trends, the enormous promise of the IoT has driven a growing number of large and small players to rebrand and reposition their product and service offerings.
Secure Sites to Get the Google Bump
August 07, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced that it has begun factoring websites' use of HTTPS into its search rankings, resulting in more favorable results for those that use the security-minded protocol. Use of the protocol still is considered just a minor factor, though, affecting fewer than 1 percent of global queries and carrying less weight than high-quality content.
Wikimedia Blasts Europe's 'Right to Be Forgotten'
August 06, 2014
The Wikimedia Foundation has released its first-ever transparency report -- and along with it a protest against Europe's "right to be forgotten" law. Wikimedia is the nonprofit owner of Wikipedia and other sites. "Denying people access to relevant and neutral information runs counter to the ethos and values of the Wikimedia movement," wrote Wikimedia attorneys Geoff Brigham and Michelle Paulson.
Beating the Bushes for the Best Linux Browsers
August 04, 2014
Browsers have been a hot topic lately here in the Linux blogosphere, not just because of all the woes plaguing Tor in recent weeks, but also because of the increasingly worried mumbling about Firefox's future. It's been difficult to discern where a FOSS fan should turn, so it was with great relief that Linux Girl recently came upon an article dedicated to that very topic.
Hotel Bites Internet - Internet Bites Back
August 04, 2014
Online reviews are a modern-day fact of life for any company operating in the hospitality industry, but an Internet maelstrom erupted when one hotel's surprising response to that reality was brought to light. Namely, the Union Street Guest House in upstate New York threatened to charge those who booked wedding parties at the venue $500 for every bad review posted online by any of their guests.
Cops Snag Child Pornography Suspect, Thanks to Gmail Scan
August 04, 2014
A routine scan of a Texas man's Gmail by Google has led to his arrest on child pornography possession and promotion charges. John Henry Skillern, 41, of Houston was arrested by police July 30 following a tip by Google to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He has been charged with one count each of child pornography possession and child pornography promotion.

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