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Hurricane Sandy wikipedia

With more than twice the number of edits than any other contributor, Ken Mampel has a reasonable case to call himself the principle Hurricane Sandy Wikipedia editor. However, problems can arise when a single man — particularly one that denies the existence of global warming — takes charge of such a large page. Mempel took it upon himself to delete any mention of global warming from the entry, and was successful in keeping the article global warming-free until the evening of November 1st. Popular Science profiles Mempel, revealing a man obsessed with accuracy, speed, and grammar, who unfortunately let his personal views obscure the impartial truth that Wikipedia is supposed to stand for. After much discussion between editors, a two...

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fun-games-36

Every time I see a photo sharing app come across the transom, the same question crosses my mind: what about trolls and porn? A game we saw yesterday, Pictorious, asks you to take pictures of items in order to get likes from friends and strangers. Additionally, sites like Pinterest have to act like Soviet censors in order to prevent dirty hot porn from taking over. The threat of someone ruining a good thing is everywhere, and in a world of socially connected apps, trolling is the norm.

If you’ve played online video games recently, you’ll notice that trolling is arguably more virulent and nasty than even a Goatse pic popping up on Instagram. The folks at Penny Arcade along with some major players in the gaming industry have released a video detailing various ways to stop trolling and if you’re a community manager or programmer, it deserves a look.

In short, nastiness in games happens because there are no consequences. The folks at PA say “we’ve given the school bully access to the intercom system” and the bully gets to say whatever he wants. Although many apps are barely popular enough to warrant an audience let alone trolls, this concept is still important to keep in mind.

The solution is fairly simple: persistent muting and earned rights within the game. If a player is consistently mean, the other players can shut him during the entire game and, more important, the troll needs to know he’s being muted. Second, voice chat or commenting should be a privilege earned through play, not a default option. Freedom of speech be damned: this is a game, not parliament.

The same can be said for trolls in social networks. Pinterest, for example, did the right thing by offering accounts only through invitation. It increases the value of the account, for one, and it ensures only friends of friends end up in the mix. Arguably, I’m kind of a jerk on Pinterest but I’ve never pinned anything nasty. I’m more likely to respect a community when I see others respecting it.

Earning the right to “play” is also important. Whether you’re using Facebook or Draw Something, there should be some way to earn real control over the environment through dedication. This doesn’t mean you gamify your SoLoMo application using best-of-breed badging and Tweetstream techniques. That’s bullshit. Give people something valuable for being nice, like the ability to take part in a world-wide conversation.

Our own comments, if you’ve noticed, went from massive lists of invective and slurs against mothers all over the world to a quiet conversation. Why? Because Facebook comments ensured that people had to earn the right to talk and they also were held accountable for their words. You’re less likely to say “YOU SUCK DIE IN HELL APPLEDICK” when your picture and name are above the post. Anonymous commenting has its place but not in a place that is trying to curate a positive experience.

Give the video a look and take some of its advice to heart. It’s not just applicable to gaming. It’s applicable anywhere two or more people congregate and don’t want to be bothered by nihilists.

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WalkMe

A Tel Aviv startup, WalkMe, aims to do for your website what your UX team should have already done: make it easier for your users to understand. The service creates little pop-up bubbles over various points in order to lead your users through a typical interaction, be it a bank website or a complex social tool.

These aren’t videos that run in the corner. Instead, every time you complete an action the system pops up a new bubble for the next step. These interactive bubbles will also help correct mistakes in input.

Founded by Dan Adika, a former software designer for HP, the site offers free demo plans as well as more complete plans for enterprise customers. The system also handles usage analytics. Adika calls his company a provider of “turn-by-turn GPS-style directions.” The product is completely modifiable on the fly and easy to add to any web page. You can also add tips in multiple languages.

Pricing ranges from 1 cent per “interaction” to $99 a month for multi-language support. The company also supports self-hosted solutions.

It’s kind of funny, actually: the very people who could really use WalkMe – namely purveyors of horribly complex or ill-begotten websites – probably will avoid it thinking that it adds a layer of complexity they can’t handle or understand. However, when attached to a financial site or a complex checkout page, a service like WalkMe would be a boon.



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Screen Shot 2012-04-02 at 9.27.20 AM

It’s hard being a hacker’s darling. Pastebin is a dox dumping site – as well as a useful tool for programmers and writers who want to share a piece of text or store it for later – and it is facing what could be a termed a problem of popularity. Because groups like Anonymous have used the service to dump sensitive information, the company has been banned in Turkey and Pakistan and, more important, has become the target of DDOS attacks by kiddies who want to test their exciting new scripts. The result? A company that is, by all metrics, growing, now needs to spend money and solicit volunteers to protect itself from its biggest fans.

After a BBC story noted Pastebin’s problems, the site’s owner, Jeroen Vader, received a number of offers to help police the site for free. The monitors will pull down questionable content when users report seeing it using the site’s interface.

“Exactly how many people will be hired is not known yet. What is surprising is the amount of offers that I received in the mail since the publishing of the BBC article. It’s quite amazing how many people are willing to help out as volunteers,” he said.

He said Pastebin is seeing 17 million unique visitors per month and that he’s getting more DDOS attacks than he currently can handle. “Fighting these certainly is no fun,” he said. His goal is to create a space that is used more for code and text sharing than information dumps.

Anonymous isn’t happy with this move, recommending its minions use a Pastebin clone, PasteBay, instead. PasteBay claims to be uncensored and unmonitored, something that I’m less inclined to trust than a dude who is just trying to run a legal business by working within the confines of international law.

Owner of #Pastebin plans to hire moreStaff toHelp police"sensitive information"posted to the site. bbc.com/news/technolog… (use #pastebay)


Anonymous Sweden (@AnonOpsSweden) April 02, 2012

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Brin-blues

Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin has expressed interest in retiring “in a year or so” to take up the intense study of blues guitar, sources inside Google say. The decision places the company at a crossroads in terms of management succession and a replacement is already being groomed.

Brin has been learning blues guitar from a number of major players including Eric Clapton (who was given $40,000 for a series of three lessons in a Palo Alto park), Keith Richards, and Ralph Macchio.

Those closest to Brin noticed a change in the billionaire as he began toting his electric guitar, a Fender Stratocaster he called “Beulah,” to many staff meetings along with a portable Pignose amp he had attached to his belt. He traded a number of riffs with VP Marissa Mayer at a recent off-site all-hands meeting that Brin called in order to show off how he learned to play Cocaine. Mayer is an accomplished slide player and plays at Mountain View clubs under the stage name “Lady M&M.”

Brin’s decision is an open secret at the company. “He has a little belt clip for the amp. It’s one of those small ones that runs on batteries. It’s on his waist most of the day. That’s where he used to carry his Blackberry,” said one Google exec who asked to remain anonymous. Brin has been known to grab his guitar during meetings and wail out a long, expressive series of notes evoking the concepts of hard-travelin’, women who done him wrong, and the green light being Brin’s baby and the red light being his mind.

He has led a joint Google/NASA project to identify Robert Johnson’s crossroads and has hooked up small, sensitive microphones to Google Self-Driving Cars that prowl the Southern states in order to pick up snippets of “real” music played at fish frys, juke joints, and honky-tonks.

In a leaked memo, Brin explained that the pressures of Google have become too much and that “don’t be evil” doesn’t mean “don’t be soulful.” Brin plants to quit by 2015 and “maybe go down to Baja” to listen to real “people’s music” and then move to Nashville where he will open a small recording studio focused on roots acts.

“I’m going down the road feeling bad,” wrote Brin in the email. “And I ain’t gonna be treated this way.”

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Sentry_Eugene_01

It’s hard to forget that scene in the Graduate when the young, confused Benjamin is approached by a family friend who tells him the future in two words: sentry guns. Now you, too, can enter this lucrative world with Project Sentry, an open source tracking sentry gun system that uses a webcam to scan the scene and take down your prey.

Built by Rudolph Labs, this project involves a sturdy tripod, an airsoft or paintball gun (or real gun) and a PC. The PC uses a webcam to scan the scene and reports back when there is movement. When the sensor finds a target, it can stick to it and fire at will. It can even anticipate where the target will move, ensuring a steady stream of hot lead during your autonomous sentry operations.

The parts list, without computer, is about $110 and the makers warn that the project could take a bit of time:

) It’s going to take up all your free time. This will take a lot of effort, probably a few afternoons to build it, then some more work to get it set up with your computer. And, if you are a truly inspired person, you won’t want to stop tweaking and personalizing it after it is finished.

Remember: if you don’t do it right, it’s not worth doing at all, so make sure your first sentry gun is your best one. Show your future employers that you have the gumption, the know-how, and the sociopathic desire to anonymously gun down everything in your path with an unfeeling robot. It’s the only way to make it in the world these days.

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Looking for an apartment is usually pretty simple: you go on Craigslist, find three apartments that look like they’ve been used to chop up beeves, and then move in with your buddy whose roommate made meth in the basement. At least that’s how it worked for me a few years ago. Now, however, you have stuff like RentSocial.

RentSocial is the front end for Yield Technologies property management systems. Yield, for example, makes a product called RentSentinel for property managers to handle renter rolls for large buildings. By plugging into this existing install base, Yield has been able to create a rental research site with real-time updates from each apartment complex, thereby allowing you to find other people who live in a complex you’re looking at or, barring that, read reviews of places people have lived.

This, in turn, allows considerably more control over your house-hunting. You can find apartments based on good reviews and star ratings and you can share the apartments with friends. You can also create a private “conversation” about a particular building, thereby allowing your parents and friends to get in on the hunting action.

RentSocial launched today and is already connected to over 5,000 rental properties across the country (and soon in Canada). Even if you don’t feel like sharing your apartment hunt with your friends, you have to admit their strategy of selling both B2B and B2C is pretty ingenious. I spoke with Eric Broughton and Andy Hamilton, both of Yield, about their new product and how hard it is to find an apartment without rats.

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TEDxBigApple - John Geraci - The Disruptive Future of Cities

John Geraci on disruption in our modern cities - he asks whether we want a better kind of horse, or an entirely new ride?, and argues that the city of the future needs to be fast, cheap, and out of control. John is an innovator and entrepreneur who thinks about how to make life in cities better with technology. He co-founded the local blog startup Outside.in, created grassroots civic improvement site DIYcity, and is now General Manager of faberNovel NYC. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Wired, Popular Science and more. AboutTEDx, x=independently organize event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
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