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  • There’s gold to be made in techno-pessimism

    Andrew Keen is probably one of the best known techno-pessimists and his services as a speaker are in high demand. Keen has spent many years lamenting the fall in quality of our culture because of amateurs rewriting our encyclopedias (Wikipedia) and competing with high quality TV (Youtube videos of skateboarding cats) and the decline of professional journalists and editors (and the rise of blogs). His book Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today's user-generated media are destroying...

  • Lies, damned lies: social media stats lessons from the Woolies whistleblower

    In his autobiography, Mark Twain quotes former British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, saying “Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.'” What has been happening over the last few months on Twitter has one thinking the same thought. What exactly is true? And how are statistics manipulated to make a company (or person) look good or bad? The veracity of numbers was again highlighted when US vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan,...

  • It’s official: Instagram is now part of Facebook

    Hipsters, it is my duty to inform you that we are now officially in the Instagram's Facebook era. We've known that the massively popular social image sharing app was heading to Zuckerberg's company since April, but now the deal has closed and Facebook has officially welcomed Instagram to the big blue team. There has been a lot of speculation about what Facebook will do with the artistic image sharing app, and its users have raised concerns that it would simply become a part of Facebook's existing photos offering. But in an official blog post, Facebook's vice president of engineering Mike...

  • Woolworths disables Facebook wall: cites ‘hate speech’

    South African retail giant Woolworths has disabled its Facebook wall after facing a barrage of accusations that its hiring policies discriminated against white people. Earlier this week, a blogger (who may or may not be South Africa's biggest online fraud) accused Woolworths of posting "racist" job ads on its website. Some of Woolworths’ job adverts state that the company is only seeking to hire non-white applicants for certain positions. Employment regulations in the country require any company that employs over 50 people to structure its workforce according to race, gender and disability. This prompted a social media shit-storm. People...

  • Do you really prefer Bing? Microsoft thinks so

    Ask someone to look something up on Bing and they'll generally roll their eyes at you. It's just not where you go when you want to search for something. That's Google's job and it does it better than anyone else. Except it might not. Microsoft claims that in a series of blind tests people preferred Bing by a ratio of almost 2:1. The tests are part of the Redmond-based giant's Bing It On challenge. The campaign essentially apes the Pepsi Challenge, which the soft drink company has been running since 1975. In the challenge you get five searches, with...

  • How Javascript is creating a web development renaissance

    It's a good time to be a web developer. As someone who's been building web applications since the 90s, I can happily say that I don't think the future of the web has ever looked rosier. There are a number of reasons for that, but chief among them I believe is the recent renaissance in the JavaScript language. JavaScript is the often maligned, ubiquitous language that all browsers run to perform dynamic, 'client-side' behaviour on web pages. It is often maligned because it is lacking in some areas, unusual in others and downright confusing in a few more. It was...

  • Does democracy die when governments are enemies of the internet?

    In recent months much attention has been drawn to the Indian government's cracking down on ISPs in an attempt to disrupt the flow of 'sensitive information'. The rationale behind blocking over 300 websites and heavily limiting SMS services is due to the fear of fueling existing tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims as fabricated images of violence and rumors started circulating. The Indian government also threatened some media websites with legal action if certain content wasn't removed and asked Google and Facebook to 'doctor' their sites so that sensitive content would not be made available. According to the Google Transparency Report...

  • CdTDroid, father of AndroidME, talks custom builds

    So in the second of my 'Interview with the Developer' series I ask ROM developer CdTDroid, Chris Turner, a couple of questions. A little background, CdTDroid is from New Zealand, and it’s definitely something I’ve noticed on the forums, the Kiwis and Aussies really do like their Android customised. I’ve experimented with a few of the custom ROMs out there for the Nexus Prime, and I must admit that CdTDroid’s AOSP Light, is my favourite by some distance. That said, this is one dev who doesn’t like chilling out, he maintains three different ROMs and their accompanying threads, impressive. Read more...

  • Easily embed entire streams of tweets with Twitter’s new tool

    Because we are the type of website which is likely to embed tweets where and whenever possible, it's nice to know that Twitter is making the whole sharing process even easier. There are situations where one tweet isn't enough: what if you'd like to embed a whole stream of tweets on your website? Previously, the way to do it involved a lot of copying and pasting or the use of a curation tool like Storify... but thanks to a new update, it's become a simpler process. Twitter's product manager Brian Ellin announced (via an official blog post) that the social...

  • Busted: Nokia caught cheating on Lumia 920 promo video

    Well now, this is a little bit awkward. Nokia has been caught out using a different camera in wait for it... its promo video for the new Nokia Lumia 920. As The Next Web points out, using simulated images in mobile phone ads isn't all that uncommon. Thing is, they tend to come with warning labels saying something along the lines of "on-screen images simulated". The Nokia video not only leaves you to assume that it's the 920 doing the shooting but also has big bold text purporting to show how brilliant the phone's image stabilization feature...

  • Foxconn compensates for labour shortages with forced ‘internships’

    Just when you thought Foxconn's reputation couldn't get any shadier. The manufacturing giant is reportedly recruiting students from nearby universities for two month internships in a bid to address labour shortages ahead of the launch of the upcoming iPhone 5. According to Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily, thousands of students were forced into the company's factories after classes were suspended at the beginning of the semester. Students from a university in Huai'an in Jiangsu Province say they pitched up for school one day only to be driven to a Foxconn factory to begin working on the production line. In return...

  • Why Julius Malema now owns his largest spoof account

    Former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema has been the butt of a number of internet jokes and parodies in the South African online space. Now though he can lay claim to his largest spoof Twitter account. That’s right, since 30 August Julius Malema has owned @julius_s_malema, which offered a mixture of tongue-in-cheek and factual diary-style entries, along with its 200 000 plus followers. We first reported that the account’s owner was looking strike a deal in which he would hand it over to Malema and the then ANCYL spokesperson back in 2010. That was shortly after Malema...

  • Measuring the global web: which country comes out top?

    It seems that Sir Tim Berners-Lee has just quantified the web. While the idea of developing a system to measure the value and impact of the great WWW would appear to be equal parts awe-inspiring and difficult to most people, its father (and the World Wide Web Foundation) has risen to the challenge and released the first ever global web index. What exactly is the web index? Well, it's huge (and almost entirely funded by Google). The index is a measure of the web's social, political and economic impact and an assessment of the level connectivity and infrastructure in...

  • Eric Schmidt: 1.3m Android device activations a day

    At any big tech launch, the product is the main attraction. But given that Motorola's launch event tonight was the first since the company was bought by Google, it was inevitable that eyes would be on Eric Schmidt. The news from the Google hot shot was hardly surprising, but worth repeating if only to get a glimpse of the sheer scale of the Android ecosystem. According to Schmidt, there are 1.3-million Android device activations every day. Of that 1.3-million, 70 000 are just tablets. Not bad considering Google was so late to enter the space. Those daily numbers mean...

  • The poor pavlova: Woolworths hit by social media abuse over ‘racist’ job ads

    Retail brand Woolworths found itself the target of a virtual storm of social media hate recently after posting what users are calling "racist" job ads on its website. The latest victim (aside from its social media management team) seems to be a pavlova recipe. Users have taken to the South African company's Facebook page to complain about the company's policy, announce they will be boycotting their stores and to suggest that its Facebook fans rather switch to supporting its competitors. Posts on unrelated topics like a video of how to make strawberry pavlova have been inundated with comments like...