johndmartiniii writes: "Jack Shafer's column this week at Slate.com gives a perspective on modern journalism different from the one we usually hear regarding declining print news agencies. Rather than destroying the industry, Shafer argues that technological advances in publishing have only served to keep journalism alive, as long as journalists and news bureaus were willing to evolve as well. From the article: 'Technology, culture, business, and audience tastes are always in flux, making it the job of writers young and old to grab the best available tools and get to the business of chronicling the world. The cheap tools and affordable devices the average Joe has at his disposal to produce precision journalism and distribute it around the world are enough to make the reporters of yesterday sob in envy. It's the difference between digging ditches with a spade and excavating a canal with dynamite.'"
johndmartiniii writes: "Farhad Manjoo has a review of Firefox 3.5 at Slate.com this week. From the article:
"Lately I've been worried about Firefox. Ever since its debut in 2004, the open-source Web browser has won acclaim for its speed, stability, and customizability. It eventually captured nearly a quarter of the market, an astonishing achievement for a project run by a nonprofit foundation. But recently Firefox seemed to go soft." The worried tone in the beginning of the review gives way to excitement over the HTML5 features being implemented, saying that thus far Firefox 3.5 "offers the best implementation of the standard--and because it's the second-most-popular Web browser in the world, the new release is sure to prompt Web designers to create pages tailored to the Web's new language.""
johndmartiniii writes: "Microsoft is preparing to release a beta version of an anti-virus program called "Morro". It will apparently lack many of the features of full security suites by companies such as McAffee and Symantec and focus only on virus detection and removal. In this case it is probably best to attempt to do one thing and try to do it well rather than a bunch of tasks. This is Microsoft's second attempt to move into the virus removal game. Perhaps it will be more successful than their OneCare offering last year."
johndmartiniii writes: "New Scientist has a story about a Richard Wisemann's Twitter-based study in paranormal psychology. He asked Twitter-users to send him responses based on psychic questions like "Where am I right now?" and "What am I looking at?" Each of the four tests conducted returned negative results. Interesting method or practical joke on parapsychology fanatics everywhere?"
johndmartiniii writes: "Ubuntu has apparently partnered with Unison to bring "the first fully-unified communications software" to both Ubuntu Server Edition as well as the Desktop Edition in the form of a beta
Canonical indicated in the news feed at Ubuntu.com that this partnership would present a truly viable alternative to Microsoft Windows, Office and Outlook. It is a bit too early to tell. The link in the news posting had no actual software at Ubuntu's site and at Unison there was a download link, but none for a Debian software package. There is a "unison" package in the Ubuntu repositories, but beware: it is not the same software. The repo "unison" is a file-sync program, not a "fully-unified communications software." Ouch. This might make new or fledgling Ubuntu users a little hesitant to try it out. I suppose only time will tell."
johndmartiniii writes: "The ChaCha human-aided search service has announced that they will be cutting the pay of their "guides" by 50% on August 14th, according to TechCrunch. This seems to have caused an uproar at the forums used by the Guides. The change may cause a huge exodus of the humans inside this Mechanical Turk, leaving ChaCha without enough guides to meet their apparently ever-increasing demand. The company has indicated to its current army of searchers that it will be switching to a "performance-based system" for deciding payment levels. The current rate of $0.20 per assisted search doesn't seem like a great deal as it is, but a 50% pay cut is a 50% pay cut. The ChaCha Official Guide Blog responded to the uproar with this post.
The "guides" are all "private contractors," according to ChaCha's guide manual. What would Slashdotters do if someone they were contracting for informed them of a 50% cut in their previously agreed-upon rate?"
johndmartiniii writes: "Apparently, there is a massiveprotest being mounted against the Church of Scientology. The group, ANONYMUS or project Chanology—depending on who you ask, has been using viral marketing—who isn't?—to get out their message and the plans for the protest.
This could be fascinating, or totally lame. I can only imagine the landslide of litigation in response to "slander" on such a grand scale. And where is Tom Cruise on this?"
johndmartiniii writes: "I am about to move out of the United States, and do quite a bit of traveling in the process. I have a notebook that I really like, but whose case I don't really trust to take the knocks it might receive in traveling. I have looked into all sorts of reinforced cases and sleeves and such, but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about retrofitting some sort of rugged reinforcement. My particular concern is that the lid of this machine seems particularly prone to bending.
johndmartiniii writes: "This and severalolderarticles identify concern that the traditional security measures taken against Islamic terrorist groups are not effective when it comes to the internet. While I certainly do not endorse use of the internet for recruiting fanatics to be involved in these groups, I wonder what the free-speech cost will be when the hammer comes down on this sort of thing.
Will laws spell out more clearly the violations necessary to take down sites or track the data of users? Or, will laws like the USA_PATRIOT act simply be utilized for these scenarios as well? This is a bit scary for researchers (like yours truly) who troll Jihadi websites and forums looking for data which may be help us gain insight into the motivations behind violent actions taken by members of extremists. Who is to say that we will not start detaining them as well?
I am trying not to argue for a slippery slope—obviously not a sound argument—but that certainly doesn't help to assuage any anxiety I might have over ever-increasing surveillance, and how it can be misused."