What's Now: Society's to blame for the pilfering of Twitter

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Twitter, Google Apps, TechCrunch -- Why can't everyone be to blame for that hack?

The morning after the morning after... • Watching TechCrunch spool out those 300-odd documents lifted from Twitter has been fascinating; the two companies have been talking throughout the process about what is and isn't reasonable to reveal. Very socially-networked of them, as TheNextWeb points out. (Or, says Biz Stone, not.) Now, whom shall we keelhaul for all this?

Writing for PC World, Seth Weintraub blames Google Apps, and he's trailed by a cloud of people blaming cloud computing. Jack Margo at eWeek tried to drag Chrome OS into this. Sam Diaz at ZDNet would like everyone to not start blaming Google or the cloud.

The victim's blaming itself, sort of. InformationWeek's Michael Hickins thinks we should blame TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, arguing that he went too far by publishing the material, and that he should step down. Ryan Tate at Valleywag says Arrington hasn't gone far enough. Lori MacVittie at Web 2.0 Journal blames that pre-Web tech, e-mail (and account self-service options).

Your reporter's suggestion? Blame the person who hacked in and stole the files -- but freakin' fire the nitwit who allegedly made the password "password" -- truly, conduct unbecoming a techie. (Why be crueler to the employee than the hacker? Philosophers and Megadeth fans are directed for further explanation to the tale of the frog and the scorpion.)

Symbian gets in on the mobile-apps fun

Thursday, July 16, 2009 • Why should Apple and Palm and RIM and Nokia and Samsung and... well, it must have looked to Symbian like everyone else really was having all the fun, so it has announced a program to encourage applications development and a more orderly system of distribution. It's actually a middleman project of sorts -- the Symbian Horizon program will evaluate programs offered unto it and decide which are good enough to be offered to existing Symbian apps stores.

Are Microsoft and Yahoo finally on the cusp of an ads deal?

Week of July 20, 2009 • Rumors come and rumors go, but the rumors about an imminent advertising deal between Microsoft and Yahoo were especially thick on the ground Thursday. Neither side's talking to anyone, not even Kara Swisher at All Things D. But various sources (including Swisher) say Microsoft would hand responsibility for the search advertising business to the smaller firm (along with several billion dollars for foster-care expenses). And if this attempt at nuptial bliss fails, as so many have? That's it, forget it, no mas... just as they always say.

R.I.P. Popfly: Not social enough

August 24, 2009 > Back in 2006, Microsoft thought it was on to something with a concept called the mashup -- an online application made up of bits and pieces of other online applications fit to suit one another, whose purpose was...well, a bit of a mashup, for lack of a better word. Perhaps the "community" would come up with a great purpose.

The following year, the company launched Popfly, with the idea of inciting developers to create interesting...things that would be distributed to a multitude of computers using the Silverlight platform (and the Mono platform on Linux). For example, maybe an app could monitor a Twitter feed for things that looked like addresses, and the app could display their location on a map using Virtual Earth. Sounds like a start of something.

What Popfly ended up being notable for was games, making it a Silverlight counterpart to the Flash-based Miniclip.com. Here in one of the more noteworthy efforts of the past few years is the Popfly game "Sarah Palin Moose Hunt," where all the targets are defenseless wildlife, and your choice of weaponry is pretty much infinite. (Kind of an understandable pastime for Microsoft employees.)

But in a sad little announcement yesterday, Microsoft's John Montgomery announced the Popfly service would be shutting down in August, without much explanation. Evidently it was one of those mashups that just could not solidify enough to withstand the current economy.

Friday's tech headlines

The Register

• Is the hardware out to get you? Sadly, it's possible -- as Dan Goodin reports, all these peripherals and gadgets with embedded Web interfaces are insecure as heck. (We're slated to learn more at Black Hat, but this is great reading while we wait.)

• Martin Sutherland, the guy selling data-mining tech to MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, thinks anyone framing the debate over personal data privacy in terms of collections is "immature." Don't just sit there feeling sorry for the Brits on this one; Sutherland's firm, Detica, is looking to get into the US market.

• The state treasurer of Arizona claims that his name magically showed up on the TSA no-fly list after his old boss, Janet Napolitano, took over the agency. Revealing the gentleman's name would deprive Reg writer Austin Modine of a magical moment of snark, so you'll just have to go see for yourself.

TechCrunch (absolutely no Twitter-related content edition)

• Google is promising a "brand new shiny interface" for Google Docs in the near future, and while they prep for launch some features could behave a little strangely. MG Siegler is just positive the timing has nothing to do with Microsoft's Office 2010 plans.

San Jose Mercury News

• Mike Cassidy's column tells the story of HopeLab, a nonprofit tech incubator that hit the big time recently with an invitation to the White House to tell its story. One of the outfit's main product testers took his daddy with him to meet the President -- fair enough, since he's 12.

• The San Mateo Coroner's Office has released its findings concerning the drowning death of Rajeev Motwani, Stanford computer science professor and inspiration to, among many others, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Sadly, alcohol was a contributing factor.


• Leah Betancourt from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a thought-provoking guest editorial on whether crowd-funded news is the future of journalism. (Confidential to N. Mook: The redesign would look dreadful with tip jars. Forget it.)

• Google Health would be pleased to store a copy of your advance directive for you. (Your advance directives, though I'm sure you're smart enough to have made yours out already, are the instructions as to what to do if you're in medical straits such that you can't communicate your wishes re treatment and so forth.) Adam Ostrow wants to know if you'd feel comfortable giving Google that data.

• Spymaster, not content to clutter up Twitter, went live on Facebook last night. Your reporter is hoping for some sort of crossover with the equally ubiquitous Mafia Wars -- and no survivors.

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