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Twitter changes how 'block' works, makes it more of a mute button (update: changes reverted after backlash)
Bryant is African American but spent several years as a kid living in Italy, where his father played after his NBA career ended. Bryant speaks fluent Italian and his upbringing in Europe was the crux of Brown's criticism
Brown was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1971, but is also well-known for his activism. When Hall asked him about Bryant, Brown said, in part, "He is somewhat confused about culture, because he was brought up in another country so it doesn't quite fit what's happening in America." Read more...More about Entertainment, Nfl, Nba, Videos, and Sports
A lot happens on Lifehacker every week, and elsewhere in the world. We created the podcast to easily share our top stories, favorite tips and downloads, and answer your questions. 2013 was our second year and we grew quite a bit, thanks to your continued listening and feedback. Here are the most listened-to episodes throughout the year.
When a roving security robot called the K5 was unveiled late last week by a Silicon Valley startup called Knightscope, the company went a little nuts with its monikers. The press release described the machine as "R2-D2 meets Robocop." But Knightscope founder and CEO William Li said he prefers "R2-D2 meets Batman."
That's not it either, really. After seeing it in action, I can confirm that the K5, which is shaped like a 5-foot-tall bullet, has very little in common with the Dark Knight. It doesn't exactly leap into action wearing a cape to prevent a crime; it has a hard enough time figuring out whether a human being has drawn a gun. (Li laments that it's very easy to get false positives with children's toy guns.) Read more...More about Robots, Tech, and Us
Bing broadens Snapshot to include TED Talks, famous speeches and more straight from the results page
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The YouTube account RobBlissCreative uploaded a video called "Chicago's Magical Piano" earlier Thursday, earning more than 200,000 views. The video, supposedly sponsored by Amtrak, captures travelers in Chicago's Union Station playing with a remote-controlled piano, dancing and performing duets.
About two hours after it was shared on Reddit, a user named schwagro claimed in the comments that the video was fake. Schwagro posted a link to a notice about an Amtrak casting call for a video in Chicago's Union Station with a "magical piano around Christmastime that seems to be truly alive." Read more...More about Viral Videos, Christmas, Chicago, Amtrak, and Piano
Dell Ventures has announced a $300 million “Strategic Innovation” venture fund to invest in startups that have a focus on areas, such as storage, next-generation data-center technology and mobile. The deal follows the company’s news today of a global sales relationship with Dropbox. The two pieces of news together show Dell’s deepening focus on storage as a key part of its enterprise strategy.
The fund is Dell’s second in the past year. Last year, the company invested $60 million in its Fluid Data Storage fund, also intended to invest in promising storage startups. The fund was created to complement Dell’s core technology with a bent on data center infrastructure. The company keeps most of its investments private. Ones it does discuss include Mirantis, a provider of OpenStack cloud and open source application infrastructure, as well as Skyera, a solid-state storage company.
With its funds, Dell makes investments with other venture capitalists and strategic investors. It acts as a board advisor and resource for the companies. Those resources might be technical, business counsel or market strategy assistance.
The news follows the announcement this morning that Dell will offer Dropbox for Business to its customers. Dropbox for Business is the company’s enterprise offering that it has focused on with considerable attention over the past several months. Last month it announced a deal with Salesforce. Dropbox will also be coming pre-installed on a selection of Dell devices. The company is also integrating Dropbox for Business into Dell Data Protection solutions.
Dell killed its relationship with EMC in 2011 and has been rebuilding its storage business ever since. Focusing on storage is part of its shift from a PC maker to a company that has a deeper focs on enterprise services. The company has made several acquisitions in the past two years, including Wyse Technology.
Using acquisitions to develop intellectual property is one approach large IT companies take. Building a venture fund to invest in innovative startups also has deep precedent in the enterprise as a way for companies to build their capabilities.
For example, in October SAP Ventures announced a new venture fund (SAP Ventures II) valued at $650 million, bringing its total investment arm to about $1 billion.
(Feature image via George Pankewytch on Creative Commons)
Update: This morning Microsoft re-confirmed that BUILD is coming back to San Francisco, mirroring what it announced, and then pulled yesterday. The company gave shoutouts to “Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Azure, Windows Server, [and] Visual Studio” in its post.
Microsoft today announced – and then removed – the date and location of its next BUILD developer conference, which will again take place in San Francisco, on April 2nd, 2014. Tickets will go on sale on January 14th of that year.
That Microsoft is hosting the event in San Francisco for the second time running is no accident. Though I have repeatedly asked the company to return to this city, I doubt that my requests and constant jokes concerning mud, a certain tent, and an awkward visit to Microsoft’s campus mattered either. Instead, I think that the use of San Francisco as the location of its developer event for the second time in a row simply underscores that Microsoft understands that it has lost an entire demographic of developers, and that to win them back it has to play in their backyard.
Also it’s just reasonable to host your developer event where your competitors do: Apple and Google don’t host I/O and WWDC in this city for no particular reason.
Last year BUILD, like the other two conferences, sold out, though Microsoft later released another tranche of tickets. I heard rumors that they had expected to sell slightly more before doors opened, all told. Whatever the case, the event went well.
Microsoft, working to unify its various platforms under a pat Windows aegis, has to better convince developers that its platform is worth building for. So, back to San Francisco it comes.
NBC has been embroiled in a season-long controversy over the lack of diversity of Saturday Night Live's cast, but now the network appears to be taking steps to remedy the backlash
Producers held auditions this week to hire a black female cast member who would join the show's lineup in January, an SNL spokesperson confirmed to MashableSNL hasn't had a black female comedian since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007.
"All told we’ve seen about 25 people," SNL's Lorne Michaels told The New York Times. "A lot of the people we saw are really good. Hopefully we’ll come out of the process well."
Gabrielle Dennis from BET series The Game posted a Twitter photo, below, featuring the women who SNL invited to audition. Simone Shepherd, another actress at the auditions, also posted the same photo on Instagram, later tweeting it with the message, "The hilarious BLACK women who just rock the SNL audition. #WeJustMadeHistory": Read more...More about Entertainment, Tv, Diversity, Snl, and Saturday Night Live
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When comparing breads, wheat gets the gold star of health—and it earns it. But now that we've got fortified breads, the health experts at Examine.com argue that you can get the whiter variety along with near-equal health benefits. Here's why.
With this new feature, will Instagram now go head to head with Snapchat?
The two apps have many more similarities than they did even 12 hours ago, and it appears Facebook is hoping Instagram can compete with Snapchat. (Don't forget, Snapchat turned down a reported $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook just last month, $2 billion more than Facebook spent on Instagram.)
How closely do the photo-sharing apps match up? We've done a side-by-side comparison, Instagram on the left, Snapchat on the right. Read more...More about Apps, Photo Sharing, Messaging, Instagram, and Social Media
Aereo wants to solve its legal issues with a winner-take-all meeting with broadcasters at the highest court in the land. To the winner go the digital spoils.
The streaming television company said today that it has decided not to oppose a recent petition brought by CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox to the Supreme Court that requests Aereo be shut down for violating copyright law.
Aereo streams local TV broadcasts to subscribers online and provides a cloud-based DVR service to record programs for later viewing. The company has been the subject of aggressive legal action by broadcasters and professional sports leagues, namely the National Football League and Major League Baseball. Read more...More about Business, Media, Tv, and Apps Software
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Update: Twitter has reverted the changes to blocking functionality that it made earlier today. After the changes, an outpouring of negative user feedback appeared on Twitter, blogs and other services. We hear Twitter executives began hashing this one out in internal discussions almost immediately after negative sentiment started to rise and Reuters reported that an emergency meeting was held to discuss the changes.
Twitter obviously made these changes for a reason, and both statements given to us by Twitter and things that we’ve heard indicate that there were many requests made to eliminate the ‘blocked’ notice. Specific accounts of reprisals in response to a blocked person being notified of being blocked spurred this change.
But at this point it appears that at least some re-thinking of the feature is in order, and Twitter appears to be choosing to roll these changes back for now until it can come up with a system that works for the majority of users.
Either way, Twitter deserves some credit for responding quickly and decisively to revert what was obviously a very unpopular change.
Here is Twitter’s statement, courtesy of VP of Product Michael Sippey:
Earlier today, we made a change to the way the “block” function of Twitter works. We have decided to revert the change after receiving feedback from many users – we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe. Any blocks you had previously instituted are still in effect.
In reverting this change to the block function, users will once again be able to tell that they’ve been blocked. We believe this is not ideal, largely due to the retaliation against blocking users by blocked users (and sometimes their friends) that often occurs. Some users worry just as much about post-blocking retaliation as they do about pre-blocking abuse. Moving forward, we will continue to explore features designed to protect users from abuse and prevent retaliation.
We’ve built Twitter to help you create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. That vision must coexist with keeping users safe on the platform. We’ve been working diligently to strike this balance since Twitter’s inception, and we thank you for all of your support and feedback to date. Thank you in advance for your patience as we continue to build the best – and safest – Twitter we possibly can.
Original article follows:
Twitter has introduced a new blocking policy that is materially different from the one that they’ve had in the past. Blocked users can now see your tweets while logged in and continue to follow you on the service, allowing potential harassers or abusers to continue to track your updates on the network, even though you’ve explicitly blocked them.
This greatly reduces the effectiveness of some aspects of the block functionality on Twitter and opens the door for those who have been harassed or stalked on social networks to have their updates monitored more easily. Blocked users can now retweet your tweets, fave them and RT them while logged into their account.
TechCrunch spoke to Twitter about the changes, and the company says that the change, which does not notify or alert the person you’ve blocked in any way, was done to prevent a scenario of retaliation. The company said that they had seen situations where users, once they discovered that they had been blocked — because they could no longer view tweets or interact with tweets — would find other ways to attack or harass the blocker or even be spurred to greater abuse.
Twitter says that another reason for the change is to better communicate to users that ‘blocked’ does not mean ‘invisible’ and that your information is still public.
This new method means that the only way to prevent someone from following you or interacting with your tweets is to make your account completely private. This will prevent anyone you block from seeing your tweets.
While we doubt Twitter had anything but good intentions here, changing blocking because a blocker might be antagonizing or inciting someone they’ve blocked just by blocking them will likely not sit well with victims of harassment.
It’s worth noting that you could previously view the public tweets of users that had blocked you while logged out of the service — and by visiting a profile page. But now they can do it while logged in and interact with them. If you’ve blocked them, you will not see these interactions, but others will, and those you have blocked will still be able to fave tweets, for instance, and see those in a list of tweets that they’ve faved.
This new blocking method is more of a mute filter that prevents you from seeing any tweets or interactions from a blocked follower. But those interactions still happen. In some ways, this new method is actually a more accurate picture of what happens with a Twitter account when you block someone. They could always see your tweets and manually RT them to their followers by copying and pasting text. Now, however, they can do so within the constructs of Twitter — you just cannot see them. Though their followers and anyone searching for your name can.
Twitter notes that those tweets may also show up in your searches.
Here is the current blocking policy:
If you block another user, you will no longer see:
- The user in your follower list
- Any updates from that user in your Home timeline, including any of their Tweets that were retweeted by accounts you follow
- Their @replies or mentions in your Connect tab
- Any interactions with that user’s Tweets or account (i.e., favorites, follows or Retweets) in your Interactions or Activity tabs
Twitter also notes the following:
If your account is public, blocking a user does not prevent that user from following you, interacting with your Tweets, or receiving your updates in their timeline. If your Tweets are protected, blocking the user will cause them to unfollow you.
And here’s the previous policy:Blocked users cannot:
- Add your Twitter account to their lists.
- Have their @replies or mentions show in your mentions tab (although these Tweets may still appear in search).
- Follow you.
- See your profile picture on their profile page or in their timeline.
Privacy note: If your Tweets are public (i.e., not protected), they will still be visible on your public profile page to anyone, regardless of whether they have a Twitter account or not.
We do not send notification to a user when you block them, but because they will no longer be able to follow you, they may notice that they’ve been blocked.
The changes to Twitter’s policy may indeed prevent some immediate knowledge that a user has been blocked, though they didn’t get a notification before and still won’t get one now. It could cause a lag between the time that they get blocked and when they realize it — but the scenario by which this could prevent retaliation once discovered gets blurrier.
Many Twitter users who have been abused and who undergo continuous harassment on Twitter — especially women — will likely not be pleased that their tweets can now be easily favorited and re-tweeted within the confines of Twitter’s platform. Yes, their tweets were never truly private because Twitter is a public service — but a policy that makes it easier to interact with tweets and add commentary to them (even if it’s not visible to you, personally) seems like it’s missing the point.
At first glance, this sounds like this means the number of nefarious attacks is up, but Incapsula actually notes that the bulk of growth in this number is due to what it calls “good bots.” Visits from certified agents from search engines and similar tools increased from 20 percent to 31 percent, for example. According to Incapsula, many search engines have lately increased their sampling rates. In addition, the SEO tools that try to help websites rank higher once they are crawled, also now often visit sites more often than ever before.
About a third of bots, the company argues, are malicious, but thanks to Google’s Penguin update making comment spam relatively useless as an SEO technique, the number of spam bots has decreased from 2 percent in 2012 to just 0.5 percent this year.
What’s up, though, is the number of bots that try to impersonate a real use. Incapsula believes most of these are “automated spy bots, human-like DDoS agents or a Trojan-activated barebones browsers.”
One thing to note here is that Incapsula gathered this data by looking at stats from its own 20,000 customers. The companies that sign up for the kinds of security services the company offers may not be exactly representative of the Internet as a whole. Not every site, for example, has to deal with regular DDoS attacks and needs Incapsula to mitigate these. Still, the company’s data clearly shows that the number of bots is on the rise, though the numbers for your own site will likely be quite a bit different.