Twitter wins Oscar race

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Did James Franco smoke a blunt before the show?

Twitter is the conversation destination for event TV, and the Academy Awards is the premier TV event for Twitter. I previously wrote about smart-phone apps that meld TV and Twitter, such as IntoNow. You can tweet about going to a movie and then what you thought afterward, but there is the void in between when you are watching the movie in a darkened theater and tapping away at your mobile phone is frowned upon. But you can kick back at home on your couch and tweet, read tweets, and retweet to your heart’s content. I don’t care much about the Oscars. I like it when worthy works and artists are recognized, but the show is otherwise painful to sit through. But the Twitter Show that pours forth is quite entertaining, from the first arrivals on the red carpet till the last grumblings about how the truly best movies got ripped off. Here are some of my faves from Sunday night: More

eBay promotion to buy old iPhones extended

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I'm rich!

The eBay offer to buy old iPhones and Androids for a minimum of $200 was to end on Feb. 22, but it was extended for two weeks. I got $200 for my iPhone 3GS. I clicked a few circles on eBay and was given a FedEx shipping label to print out. I dropped my old iPhone in an envelope with the free shipping label and that was it. Yesterday I got an email from eBay saying the phone was inspected and the sale was completed (see above). eBay figured it could make a mint off of AT&T customers dumping their iPhones for the Verizon iPhone. Verizon sales are brisk, but it hasn’t been the stampede that was hyped by the media. There is plenty of speculation as to why several years of bellyaching about AT&T’s call service hasn’t translated into the anticipated rush for Verizon iPhones (see video below). As for me, I sold my old iPhone because it had turned into a paperweight. I’m happy with my AT&T iPhone 4. The $200 will likely go to Apple because Steve needs my money.

Is the data on your mobile phone safe?

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He's so dreamy!

Justin Bieber, Esq.! A real lawyer with the same name. Saw the ad on the subway tonight.

I promised to update my previous post on prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pa., asking a judge to make a local school administrator surrender the password to his mobile phone (I’m not saying cell phone anymore) in a criminal sexting case. A specialist in Information Security, or InfoSec, from the University of Pennsylvania, offered a solid read on the situation in my comments section:

If the contents of the cell phone are encrypted (depending on the type of device this can be easy or impossible) then law enforcement has no way to recover data off of the device. They require the password so they can access any data (such as saved SMS messages). There is some argument that the Fifth Amendment protects against such disclosure to the courts. The reality is that we’ve finally reached an era where consumer grade encryption is good enough to foil most law enforcement. It’s why entire countries now forbid Blackberry encryption.

Sounds about right, especially the part about countries, such as India, trying to deal with BlackBerry privacy. Thank you to Justin Klein Keane for providing that conclusive response.

The unloved orphan: Your unanswered Quora question

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How far removed must two family members be (who share the same bloodline) for their sexual relationship to no longer be considered incest?
Question added to topic Sex. 11:36pm on Friday • 0 Answers • Follow

Have you tried Quora? You go to the website, ask a question, and supposedly somebody with some knowledge on the subject will provide you an answer. Sometimes you get an answer straight from a key player, such as when the John Borthwick, the CEO of bit.ly, the URL shortener using the Libyan .ly, responded to this question: “What will happen to http://bit.ly links if Gaddafi shuts down the Internet in Libya due to protests?” So-called Q&A sites are hot, and Quora is red-hot with hype. The developers are trying to create social places with quality content, and that is a worthy goal. But can Quora avoid degenerating into a Yahoo! Answers site? That has been the biggest fear of the Quora enthusiasts. And their fear is being realized. Let us examine some unanswered Quora questions:

Is it true that Taco Bell uses a “meat hose” to create their tasty, tasty tacos? (and burritos, etc). Or is it just an urban myth?
Question added to topic Taco Bell. Jan 25, 2011 • 0 Answers • Follow

Is the diced carrot in vomit actually stomach lining?
Question added to topic Vomit. Jan 13, 2011 • 0 Answers • Follow

Has Justin Bieber been baptized?
Question added to topic Justin Bieber. 11:43pm on Sunday • 0 Answers • Follow

Kim Jong-Il looking at lesbians who look like Justin Bieber

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I never saw this mermaid movie

via Meme Generator

Tumblr is a great blogging platform for the flash-in-the-pan meme. Justin Bieber recently stirred some controversy by saying in a Rolling Stone interview that he was anti-abortion. And voila, a Tumblr called Apologist Bieber that is nothing but variations on something he said in the context of abortion and rape: “Everything happens for a reason.” Then there was the Tumblr that popped up after Arcade Fire won Album of the Year at the Grammys highlighting the dumbfounded reactions of many people after the Canadian band won the most coveted gramophone statuette. Several Tumblrs got a lot of attention last year, including one called Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things and Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber. Some mainstream media outlets are dabbling in Tumblr, such as Newsweek, and even The New Yorker. I don’t know why. More

Instagram makes crappy photos look cool

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Harvey C. "Barney" Barnum Jr.

Medal of Honor

I first noticed photo-filter and sharing apps last year when a friend started posting Hipstamatic pictures on Facebook. I tried the app myself and found it a bit unwieldy. I then tried Instagram and found it to be more intuitive – a natural fit. The charm of the app is that it makes photos look dated, oversaturated or desaturated, scratched and smudged. The various filters can make bad photos better. They can also make good photos great (in my opinion). The free iPhone app has become popular enough that developers are releasing apps to work with it. And you know you’ve really made a mark when other companies identify their products as being like yours, such as live-streaming site Justin.tv, which is working on “Instagram for video.” In December, Instagram reached 1 million users. Just to show how fast things are moving, it took Twitter two years to reach that number. More

Prosecutors want cell phone password in sexting case

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Who is Esperanza Spalding?

This former middle school vice principal with the Justin Bieber haircut (!) is accused of “sexting” two 13-year-old boys about masturbation. Prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pa., have his cell phone, but don’t have his password and have asked a judge to order Charles Hurst, 37, to surrender his password or provide an unencrypted copy of the phone’s data. He claims his cell phone was infected by the “Cabir worm” and wants his own forensic expert to analyze the phone to prove it. Prosecutors says Hurst’s phone was not susceptible to the virus, so his claim is bogus. Anyway, I’m surprised the prosecutors are asking for the password. I just assume that law enforcement is capable of getting data from a phone without a password, but maybe I’m wrong. Or there could be a legal reason why the prosecutors are asking and not a technical one. I don’t have an answer, but I’m meeting some information security types and I’ll ask. In the meantime, here’s a video of Brett Favre getting hit in the groin with a football:

Frothy signs of another tech bubble?

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The Year the Dot-Com Bubble Burst
Image: GDS Infographics via Flickr

I caught this article today about 1000Memories, which offers free online memorials for the dearly departed, getting $2.5 million in venture funding. At first I tried to figure out what this company offers that isn’t already available online. 1000Memories touts that its memorials are free and will stay up forever. Forever! And it will do so without placing advertising on the memorial pages. It seems like a good deal compared to Legacy.com, which charges people to sponsor pages (this example is for my grandmother, who passed away last year). But then I had to ask: Is this service really needed? You can create a memorial page on Facebook (this one is for a police officer killed in the line of duty in New Jersey). It’s free, too. There are ads, but they are still fairly discreet and the people on Facebook are used to them now. And that takes me back to the pledge to stay free and limit the advertising (and also not sell your information). How is this business going to make money? There’s no up-front explanation. Are the investors hoping to build a user base that becomes a valuable asset after it reaches a certain scale? Reader comments on the first article I cited revealed a serious skepticism, not just about this company but over news generally about increasing investor frenzy and sky-high valuations. More

100 million photos uploaded to Facebook – every day

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Commodore 1541 Floppy Disk Drive
Photo credit: moparx Via Flickr

The other day I wrote about the crazy names created to describe vast amounts of data, such as an exabyte. We are quickly getting to the point where the amount of data traffic and storage that currently exists is pretty ridiculous itself. New reports say 100 million pictures a day are uploaded to Facebook – for a total of 60 billion. That is triple the combined total of Flickr, Photobucket, and Picasa. Every day I search YouTube for interesting videos and I marvel at the volume of video that is added by the minute, most of which will be seen by only a handful of people associated with the uploader. Thirty-five (35) hours of video are uploaded every minute on YouTube. Less than a year ago it was 24 hours every minute. Where is all this data stored? Server farms. According to a report from Data Center Knowledge that was updated last November, Facebook has 60,000 servers, and Intel topped the list with 100,000. Facebook keeps your info in data centers in California, Virginia and Oregon, which has its own Facebook page. Don’t forget to “like” the data center. The entirety of your Facebook existence could be stored there.
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The dark arts of Google search manipulation

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Use The Google!

A new Google Translate app is now available for iPhones, and it does an amazing job (a version for Android phones was released last month). You can dictate something in English and it will show up as text (or you can type directly), then you translate what you said into another language, which can then be spoken aloud by the app. It can work in the opposite way, depending on what language is being translated.

Google has so many good, free services. I use Gmail, Google docs, maps, the RSS Reader. I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s available. The search engine, of course, is the most important. It’s still incredible for finding stuff, but it is becoming polluted by companies that have learned search engine optimization, or SEO. More

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