Taking a break

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I’ve been pretty inactive with this blog lately and wasn’t sure what I’d post next. But the announcement that Steve Jobs was resigning as CEO of Apple seemed like a good peg for me to say I’ll be away for a while. I have some ideas for projects I want to do, including possibly using my experience here to rethink this blog or doing something completely different. It was all an exercise for me to learn the discipline of posting on a regular basis, and hopefully making some of those posts useful for readers. So I’m off for at least a few weeks. I may sneak back here if something compels me while I’m pondering my next move.

In the meantime, check this out: 10 things you probably didn’t know about Steve Jobs.

Cheers.

One writer declares Google+ a failure. He’s wrong.

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I posted a version of this on Google+ yesterday. It was a response to an article published on the Forbes website: “A Eulogy for Google Plus.” This morning it was listed as the 4th most popular article on the site. “Most popular” is not an accurate description. The author got excoriated in the comments section for being lazy and clueless. I won’t argue with that, but the piece did compel me to think through where Google+ stands now. Let’s start here:

Google Plus is a failure no matter what the numbers may say.

25 million users in barely a month is nothing to sneeze at. Google Plus holds the honor of being one of the fastest growing websites in history, and these early numbers had analysts screaming that Facebook would be all but dead in a few more months.

I have read a ton of stuff about Google+ since its unveiling at the end of June. I have not, however, read “analysts” or anybody else scream (or whisper) such a thing. I have put myself on the record saying I believe Google+ will eventually overtake Facebook. I could be wrong, but that’s way down the road. More

Get paid to walk around and take pictures with your iPhone

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Finally, my iPhone will start making me some money! How? Gigwalk. It’s a relatively new app that I learned about from an article in the Los Angeles Times, so it’s been around a bit and earned some high-profile, credibility-establishing attention. That’s important for something promising to make you money. How does it work? You download the app, sign up through Facebook or create your own login, then start looking for gigs. I live in Philadelphia in Center City, and there are hundreds of available gigs. What are the gigs? They can vary, but it seems the vast majority involve visiting a business and taking pictures and answering some questions about the place. The gigs pay from $3 to $90, but most of the ones I clicked on were in the $5 to $7 range. However, as you gain experience and prove to be reliable, more lucrative gigs await. Maybe! Here’s what a user had to say to the Times: More

How many spam accounts are following you on Twitter?

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Sometime last week, @YukoFinnegan923 started following me on Twitter. A few days later, she stopped following me. Y U NO FOLLOW ME YUKO? I just now tried to find the account and it no longer exists. Fortunately, I took a screenshot of @YukoFinnegan923 from “Minneapolis, MN” while that cutie still existed. I already knew it was a spam account. That bit.ly URL still works and goes to mycheapjobs.com. The website offers an assortment of Internet tomfoolery, such as backlinks to gin up you search-engine optimization (SEO) results, sites with 1,000 Google +1′s built-in, Twitter accounts with 500 followers at the ready, etc. I’ve long been fascinated by the ways people are tricked by the Internet. Recently, Newt Gingrich’s hapless presidential campaign was accused of buying twitter followers. Gingrich’s campaign denied it. The former Speaker of the House got his 1.3 million followers legitimately, his campaign said. Some reporters and pundits also scoffed. But then a new a people-search site, PeekYou, claimed it had researched Gingrich’s Twitter account and found only 8 percent of his followers were human. Douglas Main at Popular Mechanics wrote an excellent piece about trying to figure out what number of followers anybody has are spam or phony. I decided to do a little investigating of my Twitter followers. More

Say Hello to the spokesman for LulzSec

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Image credit: Tim Bradshaw, via Instagram

Jake Davis, 18, lives in a mobile home – a “hut” declared the Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper – on an island in the northernmost reaches of Scotland. From that unlikely outpost, Jake allegedly served as the spokesman for Lulz Security, or LulzSec, until he was arrested last week. I say allegedly, but his fellow travelers in LulzSec and Anonymous have a made a good show of conceding that it is him and have launched a campaign to “Free Topiary.” As far as I know, Davis hasn’t conceded anything, but he surely didn’t indicate any denials when he made his first court appearance on Monday. He showed up with a copy of the book “Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science.” In court, he “grimaced when [the prosecutor] mispronounced the name LulzSec as ‘Luke Sec.’” When he left the courtroom after being released on bail, he donned sunglasses and posed briefly for photographs. More

Tango Down: Topiary arrested, or maybe not?

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The morning started with news of stock volatility for eBay, parent company of PayPal, which was the subject of a boycott launched by hacktivist group Anonymous. Turned out that the entire stock market was jittery, mainly because the clowns in Washington were yanking America’s chain on the debt ceiling stand-off. But Anonymous was back in the news a few hours later when British authorities announced they had arrested an 18-year-old on an island in the far-northernmost reaches of the United Kingdom. They had taken down “Topiary,” the entertaining spokesman for LulzSec, which was an offshoot of Anonymous. So they had a key figure of LulzSec/Anonymous in custody. Or did they? More

Anonymous launches boycott of PayPal

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Last night, Anonymous, through its @AnonymousIRC Twitter account, launched a boycott of PayPal. Unlike previous campaigns, Anonymous did not organize a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, which overloads a website and causes it to crash. This time, as one supporter described it, they were launching a DBoS (Distributed Boycott of Services). Backstory: Anonymous launched a DDoS attack on PayPal in December when the online-payment site refused to let users donate to WikiLeaks. Last week, the FBI announced the arrest of 14 people it said participated in that campaign. On Monday, the student newspaper at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas reported that one of its students, Mercedes Renee Haefer, 20, was one of the 14 arrested. On Monday night, @AnonmousIRC tweeted a link to another story purportedly showing a picture of Haefer. Her name had been reported before, and her attorney was quoted as comparing her to Daniel Ellsberg, who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Maybe it was the photo – a webcam shot of an attractive young woman wearing headphones – that got Anonymous fired up. Ironically, a face to sympathize with. @AnonymousIRC retweeted people who said they had closed their PayPal accounts and shared screencaps to prove it. More

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