Weekend tech reading: Facebook's midlife crisis

By on March 17, 2013, 10:30 AM

Welcome to Facebook's midlife crisis Does Facebook know how to get old? At a Facebook developer event in Austin on Sunday, the company's golden children weren't so sure. Many of the people there either ran or represented companies that make Facebook apps. A rep for King.com, whose Candy Crush Saga is the most popular app on Facebook with over 40 million monthly players -- nearly one in 20 in the entire world -- stood at a small table with a demo on his iPad Mini. Some asked him for advice; most chatted for a moment and returned to the crowd to pitch their own apps. BuzzFeed

Whither whistleblowing: Where have all the leaking sites gone? On February 3, 2013, Balkanleaks released the "Buddha dossier," a massive trove of secret documents from the national police archive. The cache was the Bulgaria-based transparency site's most significant release so far this year. It underscored suspicions that the country’s prime minister, Boyko Borisov, had ties to organized crime. The biggest reveal was that Borisov was floated in the mid-1990s as a possible informant against his alleged and widely assumed contacts in the world of Bulgarian organized crime. Ars Technica

Alt textarguing about videogames is the cheapest entertainment of all Have you ever known a couple that had been together for a long time, that spend all their time together, but who squabble so thoroughly and viciously that you wonder how they go an hour without grappling each other off a cliff, much less decades? Well, if that couple could get a look at the ongoing love-hate relationship between gamers and the game industry, they'd say "Look, just break it off already, OK? This relationship is going nowhere." However, it’s only going to get worse. Wired (criticism of this article)

'The Thing' Redialed: how a BBS changed the art world and came back from the dead One day in November of 1991, Wolfgang Staehle found himself at his studio, the basement of a former gallery in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood accessible through a hatch on the front stoop. With no art left on the walls, his contemporaries busy pursuing their own careers, and a recession settling in, he switched on a computer and brought to life "The Thing," an electronic bulletin board system (BBS). It would become a kind of social project, he hoped... The Verge

This story stinks In the beginning, the technology gods created the Internet and saw that it was good. Here, at last, was a public sphere with unlimited potential for reasoned debate and the thoughtful exchange of ideas, an enlightening conversational bridge across the many geographic, social, cultural, ideological and economic boundaries that ordinarily separate us in life, a way to pay bills without a stamp. Then someone invented "reader comments" and paradise was lost. The Web, it should be said, is still a marvelous place for public debate. The NY Times

The Internet is a surveillance state One: Some of the Chinese military hackers who were implicated in a broad set of attacks against the U.S. government and corporations were identified because they accessed Facebook from the same network infrastructure they used to carry out their attacks. Two: Hector Monsegur, one of the leaders of the LulzSac hacker movement, was identified and arrested last year by the FBI. Although he practiced good computer security and used an anonymous relay service to protect his identity, he slipped up. And three... CNN

The end of the hangup "Can I use my telephone to call Grandma?" my daughter asks. She means the Western Electric model 500 we bought at an antiques store at her insistence -- a curiosity that is now more household sculpture than communication appliance. The model 500 is the most common telephone set ever made, issued by Bell Systems from the 1950s through their divestiture in 1984. A black, desktop phone with a heavy handset and an angled rotary dial face: it's iconic, the archetype of "telephone." Or at least it used to be. The Atlantic

Apple debuts 'Why iPhone' webpage to tout why people love iPhone, slam Android On the eve of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 launch, Apple and its marketing chief Phil Schiller spoke with mainstream news publications to slam Android and iPhone competitors. Now, following the launch of the new Samsung device, Apple has opened up an entire new web page to tout why people have loved the iPhone for so many years and to seemingly throw some negative claims against Android and Samsung devices. 9to5Mac

Samsung GS4 launch: tone-deaf and shockingly sexist Dear Samsung: What just happened? In the middle of a red-hot conversation about women in technology, the resurgence of the equal-pay discussion, and Sheryl Sandberg reigniting the very concept of feminism in America, Samsung delivered a Galaxy S4 launch event that served up more '50s-era stereotypes about women than I can count, and packaged them all as campy Broadway caricatures of the most, yes, offensive variety. CNET

The world has no room for cowards It's not often that one has the opportunity to be the target of a cyber and kinetic attack at the same time. But that is exactly what’s happened to me and my Web site over the past 24 hours. On Thursday afternoon, my site was the target of a fairly massive denial of service attack. That attack was punctuated by a visit from a heavily armed local police unit that was tricked into responding to a 911 call spoofed to look like it came from my home. Krebs on Security

Refurbished 4th-gen iPads and iPad Minis hit the Apple Store If you've been lusting after Apple's latest tablet offerings but couldn't muster the funds to snag one, you just might have your chance now. Seemingly a rite of passage for Apple products, the Cupertino company is now offering the iPad Mini and the 4th-gen iPad for slightly cheaper prices as refurbs. Depending on the model, they're on sale for anywhere from six to ten percent off. Engadget

Why are QTE's so popular? Ah, the dread quick-time event. We may have to blame Shenmue for its wide adoption, though of course something like Dragon’s Lair used the same mechanic. They’re everywhere. They are one of the simplest game mechanics there is. And I have done my share of bashing on them too. What is a QTE and why do big AAA tentpole titles love them? Raph Koster

L.A. in 2013 (as predicted in a 1988 Time Magazine piece) On April 3, 1988, the Los Angeles Times Magazine pub­lished a 25-year look ahead to 2013. This year, USC pro­fess­or Jerry Lock­en­our is us­ing the series of art­icles in a gradu­ate en­gin­eer­ing class he teaches. L.A. Times

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