Thursday, April 9, 2009

Clueless AP Can't Figure Out It's Own YouTube Channel

It's no news that professional journalism, especially of the print variety, is in an ever desperate crisis. The failing economy has only exacerbated the crisis as well as the desperation.

That desperation becomes ever more apparent as the brain trust at the top of mainstream news organizations lashes out at the market, grasping for a stronghold that will preserve what has already disappeared. The more desperate the move, the more evident it becomes that the (old, white, male) leadership of these organizations is completely lost in the (not so new anymore) Internet reality and are, in fact, the largest barrier to their organizations' survival.

Witness this demonstration of ineptitude by the Associated Press:

In its quest to become the RIAA of the newspaper industry, the A.P.’s executives and lawyers are beginning to match their counterparts in the music industry for cluelessness. A country radio station in Tennessee, WTNQ-FM, received a cease-and-desist letter from an A.P. vice president of affiliate relations for posting videos from the A.P.’s official Youtube channel on its Website.

The AP's official channel on YouTube.

Which displays codes for embedding the videos.

A feature that can be turned off.

What is more clueless—not knowing how to operate your own YouTube channel, attacking your affiliate for using it, or not even being aware that you have a YouTube channel? And then to think that it'd be a good idea to emulate the strategy of the music labels? You know, because that's worked out so well.

At what point do the shareholders (or members, in the case of the AP) of these organizations realize that top management is in the deep weeds and should be relieved from the angst of trying to navigate out of it?

Congrats to local journalists Trace Sharp and Christian Grantham on breaking this story and achieving national (even international) coverage of it.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Microsoft plays catch up to MobileMe with My Phone

Wow. What a mess. Sort of like Apple's MobileMe, but not. My Phone will sync Windows Mobile settings, contacts, calendar data and photos, and provide a web interface for accessing and editing that data. It will even back up and restore the entire device via the cloud. And it's free.

But, unlike MobileMe, it doesn't push updates immediately when they're made and doesn't sync at all with desktop apps like Outlook, Vista Mail or Vista Calendar. It also has no integration with Live Hotmail, so users with a Microsoft email account won't be able to sync their contact data with My Phone.

"If you have Windows Live installed on your phone," the company's site notes, "it will synchronize your Windows Live contacts with the Windows Live web site, and My Phone will synchronize your other contacts to your account on the My Phone web site."

But not with each other?

Better yet, if you need to sync with Microsoft Exchange for work, then forget about My Phone, as you can only do one or the other.

So, uh, which sync should I use? Beats me. Get an iPhone. Or an Android gPhone. Or a Palm Pre. Even a RIM Blackberry.

Oh, if that wasn't enough, it appears that the service is not based on Microsoft's Live Mesh and Windows Azure, the cloud computing platform Microsoft is gearing up to provide to third party developers, or on Microsoft Exchange. So it's yet another Microsoft platform that doesn't interoperate with the others. Nice. Great way to get those developers on board.

If this doesn't encourage people to drop Windows Mobile for some other smartphone platform, I dunno what will. In typical Microsoft fashion, though, look for major improvements with the next major release in a year or six.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Fingerprints Can Reveal Drug Use, Medical History

Watch what you touch people. Might be time to bring gloves back into fashion.

A careless touch could be all police or insurance companies need to determine not only your identity, but also your past drug use, if you've fired a gun or handled explosives, even specific medical conditions.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Battered, but not broken: understanding the WPA crack

You may have heard recently that the WPA security protocol for WiFi had been cracked. Well, sort of. To be sure, it has been compromised, but you might be just fine and you should definitely continue to use WPA if WPA2 is not available in your wireless router.

And while we're on the subject, under no circumstances should you rely on WEP for wireless encryption unless you have absolutely no other choice and you firmly believe that abstinence-only education works.

Tews pointed out that "if you used security features just for preventing other people from using your bandwidth, you are perfectly safe," which is the case for most home users. Someone can't use this attack to break into a home or corporate network, nor decipher all the data that passes.
Read on as Glenn Fleishman at Ars Technica provides all the nerdy details.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

AT&T gives free WiFi access to iPhone users

AT&T seems to have finally pushed the button—prematurely clicked a few times earlier this year—and granted iPhone subscribers the same free access to its national WiFi hotspot network that DSL, fiber, laptop 3G, and business subscribers already receive. The company posted a revised WiFi hotspot network page this morning, and reportedly texted some iPhone users with the new info.
I've also heard that Boingo offers free WiFi service for iPhones, something that would be handy at many (most?) airports. Further, I've heard that you can access said Boingo service on your laptop by using Firefox with the useragent set to iPhone. I wonder if this trick would work at Starbucks....


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NashMash Adds Opt-Out Options

Today, the developers of NashMash over at 365 Creative have added a variety of opt-out options for people whose accounts end up on their list of Nashville area Twitter users. Among the options are: not being followed when the bulk follow is processed, not being included in the new randomizer that displays a Nashville Twitter profile at random, not being available to be the featured user of the day, and, lastly, not being included on the public list.

While this is a drastic improvement over the prior situation, I would much prefer to see this as an opt-in list rather than opt-out. This is especially true for accounts that are marked private and I hope that the developers will consider making at least this change. I do like the granularity in the opt-out choices, as they provide reasonable options for finding a comfortable level of participation.

Clearly, the developers are looking to retain as many people as possible on the list, but given the amount of ill will generated yesterday, I'm surprised that they haven't issued a more public statement. A simple post to the website explaining their intentions and apologizing for the inadvertent public launch of the service might go a long way to ensuring that people don't opt-out in droves. It might even gain them some support. Nonetheless, I do appreciate them providing information about the service to me and their willingness to post comments here.

What say you?


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NashMash Releases Frankentwitter on Unsuspecting Nashville Twitterverse

Late yesterday, local Nashville developer 365 Creative released a new Twitter mash-up that quickly generated strong reactions among Nashville users of the Twitter service. Dubbed NashMash, the service allows a Twitter user to follow all the users located in Nashville in one step. That's 1652 new contacts at last count. And countless updates added to the user's Twitter stream.

A few people who enjoy having lots of followers, or who like to follow a lot of people, have reacted positively. A large number of others have reacted with great disdain at the volume of new followers and the notices that come with them. I haven't talked with anyone who submitted their credentials to the service, but I've heard about some negative reactions to the resulting deluge of updates and text messages and frustration at not being better forewarned about what was going to happen to them. [UPDATE: Twitter user andi37206 used NashMash today and certainly had a strong reaction to the results.]

I've been told by one of the developers behind the service that they have stopped processing new requests for now. Once Twitter catches up with the follow requests in queue, we should see an end to the inundation of new followers and notices. I'm also told that the auto-follow feature was developed as a proof-of-concept for a separate commercial application that they envision for Twitter. (I should also note that this person was my source for suggesting the service be called Frankentwitter. Kudos to them for understanding that they released a monster and for having some self-deprecating humor about it.)

Before the service is restored, if it is restored, I would encourage the developers to add at least the following improvements:

  1. Do NOT include protected accounts in the list of accounts that will be followed. (For the most part, these people are not interested in unknown followers, so why provoke them.)

  2. Provide an easy mechanism for people to opt-out of being on the list of accounts to be followed. (Even better, make the list opt-in, as Dave Delaney has done with his Official Nashville Twitter List.)

  3. Explain more clearly that by using the service you will be adding a very large number of accounts to your Twitter feed. (The current instructions aren't very clear on this point.)

  4. Provide a mechanism to undo all the follow requests. (I don't know how this would even be possible, especially without un-following all of the people you were following before you bulk-added the others, but good luck to the person who wants to manually un-follow 1600 people.)

  5. Do NOT initiate the follows with notifications turned on. (Oh, man, I can't imagine how many text messages are generated by 1652 Twitter users.)
Please add your suggestions and feedback in the comments.