Trapped by barricaded killer in New Jersey, woman posts online updates

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Photo credit: Stephanie Savas

On Thursday, a man in a Ewing Township, New Jersey, shot and killed another man reportedly over a parking space. Wayne Voorhees fired multiple shots from his second-floor unit at the Versailles Apartments in a nearly eight-hour stand-off with police. Stephanie Savas was in an apartment alone in a neighboring building inside the complex and, she said, unaware that others had been evacuated. She shared her situation with friends on Facebook. Then she decided to write about her situation on Reddit, the popular online community, and the post took off, garnering hundreds of replies, and sparking a controversy about whether she was faking it. A moderator in the forum flagged the post as a suspected fake. The red flag was lifted, but the post has yet to be confirmed as true. I decided to investigate. More

Tracing the origin of online photos with TinEye

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 Photo credit: Mohammed Abed

I saw this photo on Reddit with the only description being a one-word thread title: “War.” The top commenter in the thread said it was a picture of an Israeli white phosphorous attack. I wanted to find out for myself rather than take an Internet commenter’s word as the truth. I ran the photo through TinEye, the image search engine, and got 90 results. Thankfully, one of the sources was The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. The article highlighted compelling photography from 2009. This picture was taken in Gaza and was indeed documentation of an Israeli attack:

This photograph shows white phosphorous shells being fired by the Israeli military into a school building where civilians were sheltering in classrooms.

I mentioned TinEye in my previous post, but I wanted to highlight it here. No every search is successful. More often you will simply discover that a photo is all over the Internet. But in this example, I didn’t have to rely on an anonymous commenter. Also, I wasn’t checking the background because I had an interest in whether or not it involved Israel. I was curious because it is an incredible photograph.

The Internet is trying too hard

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 (Above) My unfunny attempt to modify the now-famous Situation Room photo.

I was going to write about how the news of Osama bin Laden’s death developed Sunday night on Twitter, especially since I happened to be browsing tweets when the first word of the “10:30 p.m.” announcement appeared. But Twitter has eliminated the time-stamp feature for tweets, so now I can’t figure out the exact sequence of events that night. I hope Twitter brings that feature back.

In the meantime, I want to complain about something: There are too many people trying to create Internet memes, including myself. On Monday, a photograph was posted on the White House Flickr account showing President Obama and others in the White House Situation room watching the bin Laden raid. Within an hour, altered versions of the image began showing up on the Internet. The first ones I saw featured the frowning flower girl from Friday’s royal wedding, a surprised cat, sad Keanu Reeves, and Rick Astley. In my opinion, none were particularly clever or funny. More

Cloud Computing, like you, will have bad days

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Beanstalk to the Cloud

Questions about the reliability of cloud computing emerged again this week when Amazon’s cloud-computing services suffered an outage that partially or completely disrupted Foursquare, Reddit, Hootsuite, Quora, and hundreds of other online services. The New York Times echoed the concerns that some businesses had as a result of the outage: “Amazon Malfunction Raises Cloud Computing Doubts.” The article also quoted an industry executive who had an apt observation:

The Amazon interruption, said Lew Moorman, chief strategy officer of Rackspace, a specialist in data center services, was the computing equivalent of an airplane crash. It is a major episode with widespread damage. But airline travel, he noted, is still safer than traveling in a car — analogous to cloud computing being safer than data centers run by individual companies.

“Every day, inside companies all over the world, there are technology outages,” Mr. Moorman said. “Each episode is smaller, but they add up to far more lost time, money and business.”

This weeks outage only affected a tiny percentage of all the users of cloud-computing services. Netflix, for example, relies on the same Amazon data services and suffered no problems. I didn’t have trouble accessing my Gmail or my photos on Facebook. All that stuff is in the “cloud.” I was waiting for a good explanation about what happened at the Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) center in northern Virginia, but I’ve decided I probably wouldn’t really understand the technical stuff anyway (excessive re-mirroring of Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes?). There will be outages in the future. Businesses will suffer. I will be irritated that I can’t get into Reddit or whatever is down. These things happen. Your computer will break. You’ll have trouble connecting to the Internet. Your car will break down. You deal with it. The problem at Amazon will be fixed. New problems will pop up, there and elsewhere. Of course, you can choose to avoid cloud services. Or you can be like Microsoft, which is spending $8.64 billion this year in cloud research and development.

Reddit’s dysfunctional charm

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I’m not a Reddit guy…yet. But it’s hard to avoid the creative, entertaining, and sometimes informative overflow that comes from this community. Plunge yourself into the realm of “subreddits,” where you can spend hours exploring topics such as Advice Animals, Today I Learned (TIL), Ask Reddit, First World Problems, or Pics. It all came crashing down yesterday, when Amazon’s cloud computing services suffered an outage that impacted Reddit, Foursquare, Quora, Hootsuite, and a number of other websites. This was my favorite tweet from a Reddit user confronting the reality of the situation:

I woke up this morning and found Reddit was still experiencing problems. In the title of this post, I said Reddit has a “dysfunctional charm.” Reddit was also down last month. It is notoriously underfunded. Just take a look at its headquarters in these photos. You apparently can see three of Reddit’s four employees. And yet it has ONE BILLION pageviews a month. I’m rooting for Reddit. I want it to flourish. Even when it was really down yesterday, it maintained a sense of humor (note No. 4):

Is Digg dead? Do you still listen to podcasts?

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Podcast!

When I got my first iPod – iPod! – Nano (okay, not the original iPod), I subscribed to Leo Laporte’s “This Week in Technology” podcast and to “Diggnation.” From the latter, I learned about Digg.com. I never got into it, but millions of others did. I did enjoy Digg founder Kevin Rose in the podcasts trying out beers and talking tech. It was cool. Then I had some changes in my life that eliminated much of my commute, and my podcast listening time. Last year, Digg made the news with a much reviled redesign, which turned into a boon for Reddit, which has now eclipsed Digg in relevance. On Thursday, Michael Arrington at TechCrunch noted that Rose was hardly using Digg himself anymore. Well, does mark Zuckerberg really use Facebook that much? I think he has bigger fish to fry than updating his FB status. But then it was reported Friday that Rose had resigned from Digg. More

Hawk Eating Pigeon in Philly

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I found this YouTube video a day after it was posted and it had less than 30 views. I linked to it on Twitter and Facebook and it got a few more views that way. Then I decided to see what would happen if I submitted it to BuzzFeed, a popular viral site. Within a day, the video was zooming into the thousands. I also gave the video a boost on Reddit. It was an interesting experiment to see what goes viral and how. As I write this, the video has nearly 30,000 views.