October 31, 2014

#GamerGate tries to bring Gawker Media out of business

I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before: GamerGaters going after publications, Gawker Media in particular. From a Vox piece:

How will Operation Baby Seal manage this trick? It’s not particularly clear (and, I should say here, the operation seems unlikely to succeed for sheer logistical reasons), but it mostly involves having aggrieved gamers send bunches and bunches of complaint emails about Gawker Media sites violating Google and Amazon’s terms of service. (Yes, the #GamerGate folks read the terms of service.) The examples are to be drawn from this wiki, which collects a bunch for easy collation into form letters.

KotakuInAction began as a way to mock Kotaku, Gawker Media’s video game publication, for its aspirations toward discussion political aspects of video games, so the grudge between #GamerGate and the company runs deep. But Operation Baby Seal is truly a new level of loathing. The movement seems less to want to expose ethical lapses at this point and more to drive sites it doesn’t agree with from the face of the Earth.

So I guess Vox is up next? These tactics hit on the publications themselves, but as long as they’re complying with their ad terms, they should be just fine. And if they’re not, if Amazon or Google kicks them out because there’s validity to the claims of the GamerGaters, then what’s the problem? This stunt might even bring something good with it, despite the intentions.

October 30, 2014

Tim Cook

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple (for those of you living under a rock), is gay:

For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

Two things:

  1. This is a strong piece. Tim Cook tells it like it is, in his point of view obviously, bit by bit. It means a lot, more to some, no doubt, but still a lot.
  2. Trying to brush this under the carpet, to be flippant about this piece, or say that it shouldn’t be necessary to say these things is belittling the struggle of minorities. There’s no doubt in my mind that these things need to be said, over and over again, eapecially by celebrities and powerful people like Mr. Cook.

Publishing this shows great integrity. It’s not chance that this is the man that gets to lead Apple. Well done.

October 29, 2014

Serious Drupal 7 vulnerability

There’s a nasty Drupal security issue that, well, this is how bad it is:

Automated attacks began compromising Drupal 7 websites that were not patched or updated to Drupal 7.32 within hours of the announcement of SA-CORE–2014–005 – Drupal core – SQL injection. You should proceed under the assumption that every Drupal 7 website was compromised unless updated or patched before Oct 15th, 11pm UTC, that is 7 hours after the announcement.

If you’re running a Drupal 7 based website, you need to read this now, and take this seriously.

Nintendo finally turns a profit again

Would you look at that, some positive news from camp Nintendo! The Verge:

Nintendo’s financial situation hasn’t improved dramatically, however the growing sales numbers have helped the company break even in terms of operating income and report a net profit of 14.3 billion yen (roughly $130 million) once foreign exchange gains are factored in as well. What’s more, Nintendo forecasts having a profitable year overall with further improvements in sales anticipated as the holiday season ramps up.

The reason is the excellent Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, moving a lot of consoles. This is well deserved, because if you’re into traditional video games, the Wii U is a great choice. I’m not so sure where the (equally excellent, albeit painfully low-res) Nintendo 3DS fits in, despite the new version. Nintendo’s not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot.

The things between tweets and essays

We’re a lot of people who seems to enjoy, or at least miss, blogging. I’ve got my own thoughts on blogging as a term, but that’s a different post. For this one, I just wanted to quote Gina Trapani’s new blogging rules:

If it’s a paragraph, it’s a post. Medium-sized content gets short shrift these days. Don’t go long. One or two paragraphs count. Then press publish.

Andy Baio’s on the same track, and I found both of these post via Six Colors, where Steven Snell’s been publishing under the same conditions from the beginning. It’s refreshing to see and read.

I obviously agree. The whole redesign of TDH.me, and the mixture of short quote and comment posts, and the essays, shows that well enough. Thing is, we’re not in this alone, there are others who’ve been blogging like this for years, of recently returned to it. Someone less pressed for time than me can probably put together a pretty exhaustive list. Maybe this also heralds the return of the Webring, or at least the Blogroll, wouldn’t that be great?

Verizon’s SugarString gagged

Verizon’s tech site SugarString is banning net neutrality and surveillance issues, so long as they pertain to the US. The Daily Dot:

News of Verizon’s publishing venture and its strict rules first came to light to multiple reporters through recruiting emails sent last week by author and reporter Cole Stryker, who is now the editor-in-chief of SugarString. (Stryker has also previously contributed to the Daily Dot.) I was one of the reporters who received that email. The premise and rules behind the site were explained to me in a series of messages throughout the day. I declined the job offer.

Other reporters, who asked not to be named, have confirmed that they have received the same recruiting pitch with the same rules: No articles about surveillance or net neutrality.

This is obviously icky as hell, but come on, you had to see this coming, right? The lesson is to not trust so-called news outlets funded by questionable interests. There’s no way SugarString’s reporting can be trusted, because who knows what other Verizon interests, and partners, it might protect?

Record sales are down

Forbes, reporting on record sales in 2014 thus far:

In 2014, not a single artist’s album has gone platinum. Not one has managed to cross that million sales mark.

One album has managed to sell over a million copies so far this year, but it’s a soundtrack. The ever-popular Frozen soundtrack may slowly be working its way down the charts, but it is by far the best selling collection this year. Though it doesn’t have any marquee names on it—those that are usually expected to sell the best—the soundtrack has managed to move 3.2 million copies so far, and with winter coming, that number is sure to rise.

Sign of the times. Digital music sales are down, streaming’s growing in popularity, and a million records are a shitload of sales as it is. Billboard’s got more SoundScan numbers, where we learn that CDs are also down, but vinyl’s still up by large numbers.

October 28, 2014

Remember Rotten.com?

The Daily Dot remembers Rotten.com:

Rotten was the original shock site, a place where you could see images of people hit by trains, self-immolation, the gory aftermath of car crashes, failed suicide attempts, dismemberment, botched executions, orange juice enemas, and perverse pornography. These images—many of them reader-submitted, many fake or doctored—became Internet folklore. Rotten, for better or worse, is one of my first memories of the Internet.

I remember that cesspool too, never my scene, but it’s interesting to think about what it preluded.

October 26, 2014

Twitter acquires Twitpic

Twitter acquires Twitpic, says the latter in a post.

We weren’t able to find a way to keep Twitpic independent. However, I’m happy to announce that we have reached an agreement with Twitter to give them the Twitpic domain and photo archive, thus keeping the photos and links alive for the time being. Twitter shares our goal of protecting our users and this data. Also, since Twitpic’s user base consists of Twitter users, it makes sense to keep this data with Twitter.

This is obviously a PR move on Twitter’s behalf. After the easily ridiculed turn of events surround Twitpic, the whole thing smells of a mercy thing. I hope Twitpic’s happy wih this, and that this whole mess is done and over with now.

October 25, 2014

Ubuntu turns ten

Ubuntu, the Linux distro for humans, according to the old slogan, is celebrating ten years. Ars Technica has a nice retrospective on Canonical’s Windows alternative.

Today, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, estimates that there are 25 million Ubuntu users worldwide. That makes Ubuntu the world’s third most popular PC operating system. By Canonical’s estimates, Ubuntu has roughly 90 percent of the Linux market. And Ubuntu is poised to launch a mobile version that may well send those numbers skyrocketing again.