The father-and-son photography team of Horst and Daniel Zielske caused a stir in September when their show, "Megalopolis Shanghai," opened at MKG, a museum in Hamburg, Germany. But it wasn't the sort of stir any artist could relish. Another German photographer, Peter Bialobrzeski, accused the pair of ripping off two images from his highly acclaimed series "Neon Tigers"—right down to the luminous, Blade Runner-like glow that was the "Neon Tigers" signature.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Tefal Quick Cup Boils Water Faster Than You Can Read This Abnormally Long Headline That We Are Stretching Out OK Done [Gadgets]
Does the ability to heat eight ounces of water in three seconds interest you? Then take a look at this Teal quick Cup, which produces hot (we're not sure if it's near boiling) water by spinning the cold water you pour in around the spiral heating element. Not only is it fast, it's supposedly more efficient than a standard kettle or hot water heater because it only needs to be "on" for those three-ish seconds. Useful for your instant cups of tea or filling up a bathtub the dumb way. [Quickcup via Giz Mag via Boing Boing Gadgets]
Posted by Augustine at 8:12 AM
Filed under: Digital Cameras
Posted by Augustine at 8:07 AM
Filed under: LaptopsSSDs around here, but getting one the legit way currently involves poking a rather large hole in your wallet -- so we were pretty interested to see how a jury-rigged SSD built using that CompactFlash-to-SATA adapter we spotted a while back would hold up. While we probably would have sprung for something a little larger than the 4GB drives used in the test, the results are pretty encouraging: DIY SSD drives were overall faster than the 1.8-inch traditional drive found in the MacBook Air, and even a little faster than the VAIO TZ's 64GB SSD. The drives were bested by a 7200rpm 2.5-inch drive and a 128GB SATA SSD, as you'd expect, but what we weren't expecting was the negligible hit on power consumption -- it looks like SSDs really don't use less power, as the unchanged battery life of the SSD MacBook Air hinted. Still -- you know we want one. Check out all the results and a little howto action after the break.
Posted by Augustine at 7:49 AM
Filed under: WirelessYes sir, you're looking at a tiny 4.5 x 23 x 14-mm USB Bluetooth adapter with a hearty 100-meter range. It's also Bluetooth 2.0+EDR so you can expect to push a data rate of up to 3Mbps. Princeton's 10-meter adapter released in August now looks like school on Sundays -- no Class 1. Look for the PTM-UBT4 to hit Japan and beyond for ¥2,980 (about $28) later this month.
Posted by Augustine at 7:39 AM
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Louvered shutters may not be everyone's idea of a great time, but Damian Savio's spangly, light-up version sure is mine. The 23-year-old industrial design student designed them for his final-year show at the University of Western Sydney. Using OLEDs and advance transparent Photovoltaic Nanoscale technology, the Lightway shutters allow the sunlight in during the day, whilst storing energy in solar cells to power the crazy lights at nighttime. Suddenly I feel like I want to party.
Posted by Augustine at 8:57 AM
Posted by Augustine at 8:55 AM
Filed under: Cellphones
Posted by Augustine at 8:50 AM
Filed under: Home EntertainmentSamsung -- not satisfied with people using their TVs and set top boxes to, y'know, watch TV -- has announced its See'N'Search set-top box. Separate from its Media Center Extender and RSS-enabled HDTVs, this box pores over channel guide info and closed caption metadata to find and suggest accompanying video or websites from the internets to go with your episode of Bold & the Beautiful. This is better than actually getting up and using a computer to find Youtube spoofs, because it's automatic, and accessible via the remote's "More Info" button, which can then send said info to a phone or PC via Wi-Fi. With a press release short on details of how this tech will get out of Samsung's R&D center and into our home theater, we're not throwing out our HTPCs just yet.
Posted by Augustine at 8:47 AM
I am a big fan of using reputation as the central measure of spam. Reputation means many things to many people, but I am using the word in the context of an aggregated measure of many inputs taken together to establish a message senders' reputation. That's how a company I'm invested in, Return Path, does it. They are the leader in email whitelisting and deliverability. Their premise is simple. Measure every known mail sender's (ip address) reputation based on a slew of inputs, including complaint rates, unsubscribe compliance, e-mail send volume, unknown user volume, security practices, identity stability, etc and create a Sender Score. Once you know a sender's reputation (sender score), you can provide a host of services to mail senders and recipients that help both sides make sure that users get the mail they want and don't get the mail they don't want.
Facebook is mimicking that approach with the viral marketing channels in its Facebook platform. Inside Facebook reported yesterday that Facebook has rolled out a reputation system that dynamically determines how many notifications and invitations a Facebook app can send per user per day. Right now, it's relatively crude and relies upon the following items:
- Your historical invitation acceptance rate
- Whether your application overrides the user's choice to invite no friends, but instead forces users to invite friends
- Additional undisclosed factors that "reflect the affinity users show for the application as a whole"
Like everything Facebook does, this system will evolve and get better and more sophisticated. But the bottom line is this. If you use best practices, play by the rules, don't upset users, and deliver percieved value, you'll get to send more. If you don't, you'll get to send less.
I think this is a very smart move by Facebook that will result in a better experience for everyone.
Posted by Augustine at 8:45 AM
Monday, February 11, 2008
As if we needed yet more evidence that trying to fight piracy is a futile exercise, just look at the case of a company called MediaDefender. The company acts on behalf of media companies to monitor and sabotage the sharing of movies, music, and video games on peer-to-peer networks. It seeds BitTorrent, for instance, with fake files to try to make P2P file-sharing a hassle and annoyance. Last September, a hacker fought back by uploading to BitTorrent internal e-mails and documents outlining MediaDefender’s tactics, rendering them much less effective.
For a blow-by-blow, on how the teenage hacker compromised MediaDefender’s own defenses and why he felt compelled to disseminate its secrets on the Web, read Dan Roth’s story “The Pirates Can’t Be Stopped” in Portfolio. (In case you have not seen it, the story has been out for a few weeks). The hack ended up increasing MediaDefender’s costs by 28 percent, including nearly $1 million in legal fees and “service credits” it had to offer to unhappy media customers. Here’s an excerpt from the story, which shows how exposed the company became to the righteous teenager (who refers to the company as Monkey Defenders):
One file contained the source code for MediaDefender’s antipiracy system. Another demonstrated just how deep inside the company they had gone. This file featured a tense 30-minute phone call between employees of MediaDefender and the New York State attorney general’s office discussing an investigation into child porn that the firm was assisting with. (MediaDefender refused to comment for this story.) The phone call makes clear that the hackers had left a few footprints while prowling MediaDefender’s computers. The government officials had detected someone trying to access one of its servers, and the hacker seemed to know all the right log-in information. “How comfortable are you guys that your email server is free of, uh, other eyes?” an investigator with the attorney general asked during the call.
“Oh, yeah, yeah, we’ve checked out our email server, and our email server itself has not been compromised,” the MediaDefender executive said.
But, of course, it had.
“In the beginning, I had no motivation against Monkey Defenders,” Ethan tells me. “It wasn’t like, ‘I want to hack those bastards.’ But then I found something, and the good nature in me said, These guys are not right. I’m going to destroy them.”
And so he set out to do just that: a teenager, operating on a dated computer, taking on—when his schedule allowed—one of the entertainment world’s best technological defenses against downloading.
The story also has some good details on how MediaDefender went after the Pirate Bay.
It’s a cautionary tale for media companies everywhere. Treat file-sharers like pirates, try to clamp down on them, and they’ll always find new ways to fight back. There are too many of them. They are smarter than the media companies and the industry’s digital lapdogs. Treat them like consumers, and they’ll respond better.
(Photo via Casey West).
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Posted by Augustine at 7:57 AM
The idea of a “tip jar” on blogs and other content sites to help bring in a few extra dollars has been around for years. Donations and payouts are generally made through PayPal, and there are a number of plugins for various blogging platforms to make the process easier.
New Y Combinator startup TipJoy is designed to make it even easier to get people to click that tip button. Readers are not required to create an account or have a PayPal account to leave a tip, so there is little friction to them getting started. If they want to leave a tip they just click the button and type in their email address. I’ve added a tip button below to show how it works - any money we receive we’ll be distributing back to other bloggers who add the button, and/or donating to charity.
If you leave a tip as a new user, you start to build up an account debit. You can eventually pay that off via PayPal (TipJoy keeps 2%), although no one comes after you if you choose to skip out on the bill. You can also start to ask for tips on your own site, and anything people leave for you offsets what you’ve given to others.
The TipJoy site shows popular sites that have received a lot of tips, and you can also send any URL or email a tip directly as well. As a tipper, you can choose the amount you’d like to tip by default (starting at ten cents). Then, every time you click the tip button on a participating site, that amount is added to your bill.
If you want to cash out of your tips you can choose to either receive an Amazon gift card or donate the amount to charity. For now, you can’t receive cash since the company wants to avoid becoming a regulated money transfer service. In the FAQs they suggest they’ll be adding this functionality eventually.
I like the service because it creates a network around the idea of tipping for content. Users are both tippers and tippees, keeping a balance that they pay off eventually. I also like the fact that people don’t have to pay off that bill. It creates an interesting psychology where people find it very, very easy to leave the tip, and then may feel guilted into paying off the bill. At the very least, TipJoy is an interesting human psychology experiment.
The service has a number of options for integrating buttons and graphics on to the site. I imagine they’ll be adding plug-ins and other tools as well over time.
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Posted by Augustine at 7:54 AM
Tel Aviv/San Francisco based Nuconomy (part of the recent Israeli Web Tour in California) is aiming to give publishers a lot more information about what’s happening on their sites than Google Analytics currently offers. CEO Shahar Nechmad says he wants to give people insights that are usually only available to sites that can pay thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars per month, from service providers like Omniture, WebTrends and Coremetrics.
But Nuconomy is also approaching analytics in a new way to try and put more meaning into the data that is thrown back at users, meaning that in many ways it will be more useful than even those hugely expensive alternatives. Dan Farber took an early look at them last year and wrote a little bit about the approach. In general, though, they’re moving beyond the simple page view model to measure different types of activities. And they are digging a lot deeper on both the user side and contributor side.
Beyond The Page View: Correlation and Contribution
For example, Nuconomy is designed to consider the impact of widgets, Ajax, Flash, mobile, etc., which don’t generally show up in page view metrics. And they are also measuring everything on both a contributor level (think analytics by author in a blog) and user level (people on the site).
Correlation is a big party of Nuconomy, which shows how things on the site affect other things. Do more posts/articles mean more page views? Does one author get more comments but less page views? How do photo uploads affect the number of comments? And so on. See image above for how it is presented.
Another feature that helps sites measure contributors is a ranking formula, set by the publisher. Page hits, ratings, comments and other metrics can be weighted differently to come up with an overall algorithm to compare authors.
Two Way API
Nechmad says that existing analytics services don’t do anything to help sites make changes, or provide direct input into decisions. Possibly Nuconomy’s most important feature is a two way API, allowing your site to make changes automatically depending on input from the service. Today humans have to view the data, analyze it and then make changes based on that. With Nuconomy, changes can be made without humans slowing things down.
Nuconomy is currently in private beta, although it is being tested by some of the largest portals and publishers in Israel. They are opening up another 400 slots for beta testers today. Integration is through the API or via a simple java embed. They are also planning to release a Wordpress plugin in the next month or so. During the beta period Nuconomy is free. Eventually they will charge a small fee for sites with more than a couple of million unique visitors per month.
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Posted by Augustine at 7:53 AM