Weekend tech reading: Google's lost social network

By on December 9, 2012, 1:33 PM

Google's lost social network Last October, while hundreds of protesters were encamped in Zuccotti Park, a handful of people occupied a glass building in downtown Washington, D.C. Wearing sheepish grins and business-casual attire, the 99% they were not; one demonstrator said he worked for Grover Norquist. "GOOGLE: DON'T MARK ALL AS READ," pled a poster outside the Internet company's D.C. headquarters, where the aggrieved customers had assembled. That week, on the heels of launching its long-awaited social network, Google was to make significant -- and feature-breaking -- changes to Reader, an RSS news aggregator launched in 2005. BuzzFeed

Gabe Newell: living room PCs will compete with next-gen consoles Steam's Big Picture mode was just the first step: according to Valve boss Gabe Newell, you'll be able to buy a living-room-friendly PC package next year. Speaking to me during a brief interview on the red carpet at the VGAs last night, Newell said Valve's current goal was to figure out how to make PCs work better in the living room. He said the reaction to Steam's TV-friendly Big Picture interface has been "stronger than expected," and that their next step is to get Steam Linux out of beta and to get Big Picture on that operating system, which would give Valve more flexibility when developing their own hardware. Kotaku

How corruption is strangling U.S. innovation If there's been one topic that has entirely dominated the post-election landscape, it's the fiscal cliff. Will taxes be raised? Which programs will be cut? Who will blink first in negotiations? For all the talk of the fiscal cliff, however, I believe the US is facing a much more serious problem, one that has simply not been talked about at all: corruption. But this isn't the overt, "bartering of government favors in return for private kickbacks" corruption. Instead, this type of corruption has actually been legalized. And it is strangling both US competitiveness, and the ability for US firms to innovate. Harvard Business Review

Why Apple got a 'made in U.S.A.' bug Apple's decision to make some of its computers in the United States may be a positive for American jobs. It is certainly a marker of where much of the global computer industry has gone. Today, rising energy prices and a global market for computers are changing the way companies make their machines. Hewlett-Packard, which turns out over 50 million computers a year through its own plants and subcontractors, makes many of its larger desktop personal computers in such higher-cost areas as Indianapolis and Tokyo to save on fuel costs and to serve business buyers rapidly. The NY Times

Persuasive games: Wii can't go on, Wii'll go on What is Nintendo really attempting to do with the Wii U? Game designer and researcher Ian Bogost, in the latest installment of Persuasive Games, looks for the answer. For a century and a quarter, Nintendo has devoted itself to an unspoken mission: making games safe, stripping them of their risk and indecency. The company started as a hanafuda playing card manufacturer in the late nineteeth century. Like most gambling, hanafuda was closely tied to organized crime, and the term yakuza, the Japanese word for an organized crime mafia, finds its origin in that game. Gamasutra

Fitness by design ...The first generation to have built their careers on the Internet is slouching towards middle age. The market is now full of smart, wearable devices that passively observe, record and communicate your daily activity and even the quality of your sleep. Shoes will "talk back to you", telling you how far you've run or how high you've jumped. Scales wirelessly communicate your weight. On the receiving end, easy tools record the things that can't yet be passively measured, like the kind of food you're eating or your mood. The theory goes: if you have the data, you can experiment with the outcome. Domus

The rise and fall of Jeremy Hammond: enemy of the state On a cold day in mid-December 2011, a hacker known as "sup_g" sat alone at his computer -- invisible, or so he believed. He'd been working on the target for hours, long after the rest of his crew had logged off: an epic hack, the "digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb," as it later would be described, on the servers of a Texas-based intelligence contractor called Strategic Forecasting Inc. Stratfor served as a sort of private CIA, monitoring developments in political hot spots around the world and supplying analysis to the U.S. security establishment. Rolling Stone

How Windows tech support scammers walked right into a trap set by the feds Three weeks ago, Jack Friedman got a call from a man with an Indian accent claiming to be from the Windows technical team at Microsoft. Friedman, a Florida resident who is my friend Elliot's grandfather, was told by "Nathan James" from Windows that he needed to renew his software protection license to keep his computer running smoothly. "He said I had a problem with my Microsoft system," Friedman told me. "He said they had a deal for $99, they would straighten out my computer and it will be like brand new." Ars Technica

Ubuntu spyware: what to doOne of the major advantages of free software is that the community protects users from malicious software. Now Ubuntu GNU/Linux has become a counterexample. What should we do? Proprietary software is associated with malicious treatment of the user: surveillance code, digital handcuffs (DRM or Digital Restrictions Management) to restrict users, and back doors that can do nasty things under remote control. Programs that do any of these things are malware and should be treated as such. Free Software Foundation

U.S. patent office declares 'the Steve Jobs patent' entirely invalid on non-final basis For the second time in less than two months, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a first Office action tentatively declaring a key Apple multitouch patent invalid. In late October, a first Office action in a reexamination proceeding stated the preliminary conclusion that all 20 claims of Apple's rubber-banding (overscroll bounce) patent are invalid. FOSS Patents

The past, present, and future of bionic eyes Next-generation bionic eyes are practically here today. Imagine a blind person’s real-world conundrum trying to shop for one -- they could schedule surgery for Nano Retina’s implant today and see their daughter’s wedding in 576-pixel clarity, but it would cost them their life’s savings. The Nano Retina 5000-pixel device could be ready tomorrow, or in another six months… and would be much more affordable. ExtremeTech

The making of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City As Rockstar's open-world classic arrives on iOS to mark its tenth anniversary, we look back to its creation with company president and GTA: Vice City executive producer Sam Houser. Here, he recalls the films, TV shows and music that inspired the game and the legacy it leaves behind -- and why Ray Liotta thought he was a "fucking lunatic". Edge

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