Oct 172012
Thinking about Twitter and Learning

Twitter icon upside downApologies for the lack of posts but I’ve been traveling and did a lengthy talk at the Sloan Conference on Online Learning on the potential of Twitter to reinvent the traditional paradigm of learning and foster a new mode of academic discourse. I’m fascinated by Twitter – and by the resistance to it by so many faculty in higher education. It seems acceptable for their own professional development but far less use it in learning environments for students.

I’ve also been playing around with Dalton Caldwell’s project App.net, a user-supported platform that was funded through KickStarter a few months back.… Continue reading

Oct 052012

The first debate dissected by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show: one candidate seemed like he was on Ambien and the other appeared to have tried caffeine for the first time in his life. As Politicalwire says, priceless. Obama looked like a loser even when he was silent and if history is any guide to the power of image in the debates, that’s devastating. If Nixon appeared sinister and Carter seemed defensive, Obama looked like he just didn’t want to be there.… Continue reading

Oct 052012
Politician Attacked for Online Gaming
Colleen Lachowicz’s self-created identity, Santiaga

Colleen Lachowicz’s self-created identity, Santiaga

You knew this was bound to happen – a politician linked to online gaming and their virtual persona. In a way, it’s odd that it took so long given the number of people playing World of Warcraft (WOW) and other online games as some might decide that being a politician is a useful real life role. But as people live part of their lives in online games, political opponents will try to turn their online personas against them in elections.… Continue reading

Oct 012012
Political ad: John Dennis goes after Nancy Pelosi and Zombies

John Dennis campaigns against Nancy PelosiThis political ad by John Dennis (R) in his battle against Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has to be one of the most bizarre ever. Pelosi and zombies seem to be the ultimate target here. I’m not at all clear how effective this might be – or even the intended demographic – Republicans? Independents? Former Pelosi voters? I just don’t know.

Dennis is a sharp Libertarian so he is both to the left and right of Nancy Pelosi on the political spectrum.… Continue reading

Sep 292012
Pussy Riot Interview
Pussy Riot - Nadya Tolokonnikova enters the courtroom vowing resistance.

Pussy Riot – Nadya Tolokonnikova enters the courtroom vowing resistance. (GQ Magazine)

GQ magazine has a fascinating interview with two of the three jailed members of Pussy Riot, the feminist punk collective in Russia. Charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”  - an absurd charge – for a guerrilla performance in a cathedral, a sham trial resulted in a two year jail sentence despite international protests.

Michael Idov was able to get questions to Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova, Maria “Masha” Alyokhina, and Yekaterina “Katya” Samutsevich through their lawyers.… Continue reading

Sep 292012
TSA Theft - Caught with the Find My iPad App

TSA Theft of iPadHere’s some great (if basic) TV investigative journalism of TSA theft of an iPad from an ABC News investigation of the Transportation Security Administration. This sting operation involved “accidentally” leaving iPads behind at airport security areas and seeing if they were returned. It was easy to execute as ABC News used nothing more than the Find My iPad App.

It’s pretty funny when the audible alert goes off inside the TSA agent’s home.

Really no surprise here given that in less that ten years some 381 TSA agents have been fired for theft – which makes you wonder how many are getting away with it.… Continue reading

Sep 262012

I usually don’t post crash videos like this of a truck crash (they’re everywhere on the Web) but this particular one is remarkable. From Russia, a near head-on collision that sends the driver of one truck through his windshield with his blanket. And he’s thrown out, well, not gracefully, but almost like a practicing gymnast stepping off the pummel horse at the end of a routine. And yes, he walks away from the incident, a little dazed but completely intact.

The accident was caught by a dashboard cam, which is starting to appear more frequently as it can resolve insurance claims for accidents.… Continue reading

Sep 262012
Spyware on Rent to Own Laptops Photographed Users Undressed, Having Sex

Showplace Rent to Own Computers included spyware

Seven companies settled spyware charges with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for offering rental computers that included spyware to photograph users without their consent. The FTC charged the maker of the software, DesignerWare in Pennsylvania, and seven companies with recording keystrokes, taking photographs of users and using the laptop webcams to record any activity within view, including users undressing, their intimate activities and a few having sex.

The media seems to have downplayed this story but read just one paragraph from the actual FTC settlement document:

Detective Mode to record data every two minutes until prompted to stop doing so.

Continue reading
Sep 242012
Toy Train in Space - Dad Sends Young Son's Toy Train Aloft

Toy train goes to space - at least to the stratosphereThis is so touching – a father sending his 4 year old son’s toy train in space, attaching an HD camera to video the trip, and then recovering the train through GPS. It’s no small achievement but much easier than it would have been a decade ago. All that was needed was the dearly beloved toy train, a weather balloon, an old iPhone for the GPS, and a HD camera.

The father, Ron Fugelseth, sent it up on an hour-long, twenty-seven miles (across the ground) flight and after recovering the camera, set the video to music.… Continue reading

Sep 232012

Say what you will about South Korean rapper PSY’s Gangnam Style video, but will probably have over 250 million views by the time you read this and interest hasn’t faded yet. The video is a strange sequence of moves, a horse-riding like dance that combines odd scenes – trash blown in his face, dancing on a tour bus, in a car park building, singing on a toilet, in a horse stable, and on it goes.

You don’t need to understand Korean to enjoy the entertaining PSY or the repetitive chorus of the song that has become the surprise viral hit.… Continue reading

Sep 212012
Losing Battle: More Magazines Publish Nude Photos of Kate

Kate and William greeted by topless islanders

The effort to block the spread of nude photos of William and Kate’s vacation in France is doomed to fail, and frankly, the significance of nudity all depends on its context as the Duchess so easily saw on the remaining days of their tour. The topless photos of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, continue to spread with their publication by a gossip magazine in Denmark, Se och Hoer, following on the heels of their sister magazine in Sweden.

Legal Action

In France, the magazine Closer was fined and ordered to hand over all copies of the photos:

A French court ordered a magazine publisher to hand over all digital copies of topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge within 24 hours and blocked furtherpublication of what it called a “brutal display” of William and Kate’s private moments.

Continue reading
Sep 202012
NASA's Curiosity Photographs an Eclipse on Mars
Eclipse on Mars: NASA image of Phobos grazing the sun's disk

Eclipse on Mars: NASA image of Phobos grazing the sun’s disk

The NASA rover Curiosity is just getting its work underway, but photographing a lunar eclipse on Mars has to stand out as a remarkable achievement. Think about the technical challenges here – besides safely landing this one ton hunk of metal and technology on the martian surface:

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, dispatched to determine if the planet most like Earth in the solar system could have supported microbial life, has taken on a second job – moonlighting as an astronomer.

Continue reading
Sep 192012
Romney Video - The Wheels Come off the Campaign
Romney teleprompter meme

(source: allhatnocattle.net)

As the full Romney video of the infamous fundraising dinner talk is released, the campaign is in damage control mode. While the rest of the video is not as damning as the initial clips released, it does nothing to help his case and even adds a few other choice lines to an already full platter of them.

The main sign a campaign has derailed when figures in your own party turn against you. Here’s a selection of Republican barbs from Politico in an article by Katie Glueck, “The right’s many attacks on Mitt Romney“. Continue reading

Sep 182012
Romney Campaign Reels from Secretly Recorded Video

Romney video and quote

Whatever your political view, the Romney campaign is not in good shape this week. With rumors of a dysfunctional campaign staff and the too-quick remark on foreign policy, the secretly recorded video may prove to be one of those classic campaign moments, the kind that remain in the public’s consciousness for years to come.

A few have rushed to Romney’s defense, including Herman Cain, Erick Erickson of redstate.com, and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. But you know things are in turmoil when major figures criticize their party’s candidate; Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, said that Romney’s remarks were “stupid and arrogant” and David Brooks argued that:

It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other.

Continue reading
Sep 182012

It’s probably just sheer luck that this voyeuristic ad appears now, but fitting in a week of news over hidden cameras and people caught unawares. It’s an effective ploy and while not the best dialogue, there’s a few choice lines.

The ad is from Benefit Cosmetics and uses a fake police officer (a “resident beauty officer”) to write “tickets” to pedestrians on the street for “beauty infractions and makeup crimes.”

Continue reading

Sep 172012
Nude Photos of William and Kate - The End of Privacy
Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wave to staff as they leave Hospis Malaysia, the largest hospice in the country, in Kuala Lumpur September 13, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Samsul Said

Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wave to staff as they leave Hospis Malaysia, the largest hospice in the country, in Kuala Lumpur September 13, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Samsul Said

As if there were not enough problems with the nude photos of William and Kate in the French magazine Closer, the Italian magazine Chi published 18 images over 19 pages on Monday of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. While it’s an issue for the Royal Family, there are more basic privacy issues that affect us all.… Continue reading

Sep 162012
Webcam Dating Blackmail

Webcam Blackmail in FranceWith everything new that technology offers, someone figures out a way to scam people out of money – the latest being webcam dating blackmail. This involves using a webcam to record a video of someone disrobing and threatening to post it online. Definitely an upgrade over the old Nigerian 419 scam (which most of us still probably receive but automatically route to the delete folder).

Usually, it’s a young woman coming on to a man and recording him as he takes off his clothes.… Continue reading

Sep 152012
Muhammad Video - Public Drama and Hidden Drama
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is escorted in a Los Angeles County Sheriff's vehicle from his home by officers in Cerritos, California

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is escorted in a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s vehicle from his home by officers in Cerritos, California. September 15, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman

As protests and demonstrations continue throughout the Arab world in reaction to the Muhammad video (I still will not dignify it with the term “film” or “movie” as some do), a number of developments and articles are worth noting. But most striking – outside of the scenes of the violence in the streets – are two unfolding dramas: the questioning of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who may be the individual behind the video and the hidden drama of the Egyptian government as it negiotiates the complexities of creating a democracy.… Continue reading

Sep 132012
The Inflammatory Muhammad Video - A Story that Gets Even Stranger

Who is sam bacile?

The story behind the inflammatory Muhammad video, Muslim Innocence, gets stranger and stranger after the awful events in Libya and the demonstrations in Cairo which are now spreading to Yemen, Sudan and Tunisia. People are trying to uncover the identity of  the mysterious pseudonymous writer-director, Sam Bacile, who may or may not be an Israeli real estate mogul (whoever he is, he is now in hiding). An analysis of the video reveals that the controversial parts were dubbed in during post-production and now the actors are speaking out against the project.… Continue reading

Sep 122012
Has Apple Become Boring?
Apple CEO Tim Cook will introduce the iPhone 5 on Wednesday. Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle / SF

Apple CEO Tim Cook will introduce the iPhone 5 on Wednesday. Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle / SF

As we wait for the Apple product launch on Wednesday, it’s worth reading a contrarian view by Dan Lyons, creator of the “Fake Steve” blog that ran until January 2011. Dan has always had a sharp eye for Apple’s moves and the expectations for the new iPhone and possibly a new iPad (perhaps even a mini) are high.

The stakes are high for Apple since the iPhone generates 70% of its profits.… Continue reading

Sep 112012
A Death this Morning - NYC Subway

NYC Subway accidentThis morning, at the NYC subway 14th Street station, a woman died.

I missed seeing it directly as I was a few seconds too early and further along the platform. But close enough, and too close for the aftermath – a disfigured, crumpled body underneath one of the subway cars toward the rear of the train.

I stayed for some minutes, pointed out the body to the crew and cops who just arrived. I realized – curiously they did not – that it would be easier to find by crossing over to the downtown platform where it was easily visible.… Continue reading

Sep 092012
News International Phone Hacking Scandal Continues

Murdochs testify

A while back, the Murdoch’s News International phone hacking scandal was almost daily news. While it’s front page status has given way to the Olympics, a self-destructing euro zone and other matters, it still continues, especially with the recent news that some 230 additional claims will be filed. All one can conclude from this is the staggering depths to which the News of the World (NOTW) went to hack into peoples phones. No wonder James and Rupert Murdoch shut the paper down – there was much more going on than they wanted the public to know.… Continue reading

Sep 092012
Viktor Hertz - Honest Corporate Logos

Viktor Hertz Apple Logo Redesigned

Viktor Hertz is doing some fascinating work with corporate logos – redesigning them as an honest expression of what the companies are (at least partially) about. Inventive and fun to encounter, they stick with you, perhaps because they reveal something you already know, but just don’t associate with the actual logo. It’s as if the logo is turned against itself, becoming starkly honest instead of offering the illusion that underpins our relationship with the company.

Hertz is a graphic designer and artist from Uppsala, Sweden.… Continue reading

Sep 062012
Convention Speeches, Elections and Social Media

Twitter Political Index

The complex relationship between elections and social media continues its rapid evolvution during 2012 election. Where we once measured media interest in TV viewers, we increasingly look to data in social media to assess interest in a supporter or candidate’s performance. Of course not everyone uses Twitter and other social platforms, but the immediacy of the feedback makes them all but impossible to ignore.

Witness the current assessment of the speeches at the Republican and Democratic conventions.  If  Ann Romney speech generated a little over 6,000 tweets a minute, Mrs.… Continue reading

Sep 052012

Here’s a novel way to get up close to Newtown Creek, the notoriously polluted body of water in NYC (Queens) that is now a superfund site. While there are finally plans for a clean-up, authorities still have to work out who is paying the cost, so don’t expect any major changes soon. But with a nature walk on the banks and a new art project, you can see all you’ll ever want to see of the water itself with the Newtown Creek Armada.… Continue reading