News Round-up: February 21st-28th

It’s been a busy week out there on the political, business, and info trail. Let the round-up for Feb 28th begin!

To begin with, I hope everybody has heard about the political uprisings in Libya and Bahrain and has noted the involvement of social media in both of them. Trying to surmise the conflicts with just a few links seems insuperably naive, but I’d welcome any great stories that you’ve come across in the comments section.


1. 80% of college admissions departments check applicants’ facebook pages  according to a recent Kaplan survey.

Yep, time to take down those pictures of you when you visited your friends at Berkeley and burned an effigy of Leland Stanford with the guys from the math department. Facebook is fun (er… maybe), but just keep your private stuff private and you should be fine.

2. Mac goes disk-less with their new operating system… and has problems.

Good news for bleeding edgers and developer types: you can now give the Lion version of OS X a spin! But will it, you know, actually work? According to TechCrunch, you may have some problems heading your way with the download-only option if your connection to the App Store goes ka-blooey.

Will this lead to the end of the CD / DVD era? I say no, considering that flash drives are still a pain for a lot of people, but some folks say yes over at the house that Arrington built.

Which, of course, is the same one Huffington just bought.

Also: The Verizon Iphone 4 has death grip issues, and the new Macbook Pros use ridiculous thunderbolt technology to data transfer faster. Get your high-speed I/O on.

3. Google Bomb links murder to abortion.

Using an algorithmic method to contextually link search results together, abortion showed up as #2 when users searched for “murder” this week. Google has been trying to work out this bomb issue for awhile, which has traditionally been a merry prankster way of undertaking a social protest. Remember the GW Bush “miserable failure” search result?

Boing Boing stated: “However you feel about abortion, this Wikipedia page is pretty clearly not the second-most relevant document regarding murder on the entire English-speaking World Wide Web.”

4. Readability lets users know that it’s not cool with Apple’s new subscription policy.

Readability, a neat little app that streamlines the web for readers who want their stories without the fat, was not really feeling the new Apple subscription model. They… also… uh… made it known that they thought it was greedy and had themselves a little break-up with Cupertino’s finest.

However, the ball is now back up in the air as the app, which resembles more of a SaaS venture than a publishing experiment, has been re-submitted to Apple.

The winner here? Android developers. But will Google’s gambit carry the day?

If things don’t work out with Apple and R-uh, we can always use this next app on FB to track their status… or can we?!?!

5. Breakup Notifier gets 3.6 million users; also gets shut down by Facebook.

Want to see if that pale, cute shaggy-haired guy in your Monday evening class is single again? Well there’s no longer an app for that if you’re hoping to do it via Facebook.

Yep, Facebook put the kibosh on this fun little stalker-tastic app before things got too wild. But man, weren’t we all waiting for this? Who else feels bummed? All of that tracking by pen and paper… gah.

SUNDAY EARLY EDIT: Programmer Dan Loewenhurz has turned around and launched The Crush Notifier on Facebook.

6. The most high-dollar domain name in the universe?

Apparently somebody in Germany owns it. Didn’t Chevy Chase teach us that this is a number in German?

(Boy I hope most of you have watched National Lampoon’s European Vacation)

7. Foursquare approaches 7 million users.

Wow. Almost seven million people have embraced Foursquare. An interesting factoid from this article states “user ID numbers don’t quite match up to the network’s actual number of user accounts.” Does this mean that beta testers weren’t cleared out?

Spin-off apps have popped up, of course. Use this one and find out where you were a year ago.

8. Google Removes Facebook’s phone directory Sync from the Nexus S.

Google’s recent round of updates to the Gingerbread system included removing the ability to take the phone contacts from your Facebook page and add them to your phone’s contacts. Could this be indicative of more skirmishes between networks, providers, phone companies, developers, and programmers? We’re certainly seeing a lot of beef lately.

To be fair, Google’s explanation did include a lot of sensible stipulations as to why the phone would suffer problems with the contacts, such as when you shut your facebook down to prevent Harvard from denying you, but these could all be seen as plausible deniability efforts if you’re a conspiracy theorist.

Like, um, some of us.

9. Goldman Sachs tosses $70M to AppSense.

Goldman Sachs just threw 70 mill at Appsense, a backend system designed to, well, make my old job a whole lot less annoying. Dig the descriptor from this article:

“User virtualization is a way of managing all user-specific information (think: user-based corporate policy, personalized settings, user rights management and user-introduced applications) independent of the desktop, and applying this information on-demand into any desktop. This essentially enables IT departments to standardize the corporate desktop build, automate desktop delivery and easily and securely migrate users to new desktops.

Now those may send like little steps that should be taken every day by concerned and dedicated tech teams, but it’s all a huge and colossal time suck which often kills as many as it saves in the computer department. Granted, the logistics challenges inherent in such a rollout still mean that a lot of thought has to go into this, but if you’re IT budget is up to snuff and you don’t support every platform under the sun you should be STOKED.

10. Google re-works search algorithm to battle content farms.

The battle continues!! Google is trying to knock spam-tastic content farms out of the box by re-engineering their search algorithm. This one should change a lot of search results on the web. 11.8%, even!

11. A big-time AOL exec is out.

Continuing the shakeups at AOL, David Eun has left the reservation. Techcrunch was snarky, of course, but restructuring is always… um… extraordinarily annoying. Will we see more people jumping ship or being lead out of the building as AOL continues to shift their model to a sexier, newer type of service?

12. LinkedIn joins Twitter in cools-ville;  gets blocked in China.

Wow, more social protest news! According to Renmedia, LinkedIn was being used to organize protests and has thus joined Twitter (and, I assume, “fun”) in the Chinese government’s “banned” box. Dig it.

13. Yahoo! shuts down something else. Again.

Yahoo has announced that they will be shutting down the MyBlogLog analytic tracking service. Yahoo has recently been “sunsetting” a lot of their services, and several others may be on the chopping block. I’m still wondering if is finally going to get the axe.

14. Paypal stops and re-starts donations to Bradley Manning.

After a temporary account freeze, alleged Wikileaks source Bradley Manning can again receive paypal donations from supporters. He is currently awaiting a court martial, and his legal bills are estimated to hit the 6 figure range by the time all is said and done. Oddly enough, this happened the same week that Julian Assange lost his fight to avoid extradition.

15. Almost half of America uses Facebook, and 7% of Americans use Twitter.

Curious? Then check out this study.


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