Evony and Idiocracy
It’s been said that the Internet is the largest repository of utter rubbish ever. Actually, I just made that up to add to the rubbish, but either way, it’s true. The problem with all the rubbish is that it has to appear to be free even though it’s not. Therefore, making money off the rubbish is something of a challenge. A large user base of suckers willing to participate, and some even part with money is needed for this. How do you achieve that? By reaching well below what seemed the lowest common denominator. Jeff Atwood’s figured it out, and he doesn’t like it. I agree and there’s ample evidence of this happening on our news sites, but don’t think we’ve seen the worst of it yet, not by a long chalk. Thanks for the reminder to get hold of Idiocracy though, Jeff, and to install AdBlock Plus again. — Coding Horror: How Not to Advertise on the Internet — AdBlock Plus
That confusion again
Lobby groups usually strive to get a simple, clear message hammered home so as to further whatever cause they’re championing. Not so Business NZ, it appears. Phil O'Reilly's crew has come out saying telco regulation in New Zealand is bad because it stymies investment, even though regulation in New Zealand has led to an increase in investment. Therefore, we should go back to a light-handed regime as in the past, to further investment, even though said light-handed regime as in the past led to insufficient investment, less competition and higher prices for the very businesses Business NZ is breaking a lance for. Perhaps we could simplify the above message for Business NZ? How about: “not having a level playing field and ensuring the availability of earning monopoly rents in various sectors of our economy is attractive to investors looking to take advantage of such a situation”. It’s a bit long though, so perhaps FryUp readers could help out here? — Business NZ reignites telco regulation debate — Business NZ's bogus broadband report
Microsoft bings Yahoo into the fold
Bartz and Ballmer blowing billions on getting a leg-up in the online business was expected, but what will it mean for NZers? I think the answer lies in this sentence: “Under terms of the 10-year deal, Microsoft's Bing search engine and adCenter platform will power Yahoo's search-based advertising business, while Yahoo's sales team handles both companies' premium search customers. “ That means… pretty much nothing to us. Yahoo hasn’t shown much interest in NZ, so anyone hoping it’ll serve as a counterweight, fattened up with Microsoft moolah, to Google, is hoping in vain. If on the other hand Microsoft takes advantage of the fact that it has strong local presence just about everywhere and flexes its sales muscle, Google’s Marissa Mayer is right that the deal might hurt competition. Which, incidentally, is Google and Google only. — Microsoft-Yahoo deal may hurt competition, Google exec says — Devil in details of Yahoo, Microsoft search tie-up
Show your appreciation, or your email dies
It is true that sysadmins get no respect 364 days of the year. I'm warning you though... if there's no respect today, on the hallowed System Administrator Appreciation Day, I won't be responsible for the consequences. Don't be surprised if Windows runs upside down when you get to work, that's all.
Robert X Cringely
4chan welcomes AT&T to the rogue Internet
When a multi-billion-dollar telecom giant and the Internet's most notorious pranksters square off, who will win? Cringe handicaps the battle between AT&T and 4chan How does that old Jim Croce song go? You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger. And you don't mess around with 4chan. But apparently that's exactly what AT&T has done, and the fireworks have already started. 4chan is a rogue state unto itself, a loose collective of internet miscreants whose pranks are generally juvenile, sometimes disgusting, often ingenious, and occasionally hilarious. Among other things, 4chan is associated with the Anonymous campaign against the Church of Scientology, gaming Time.com's "100 most influential" geeks to land one of its leading lights at No. 1, establishing national "porn day" on YouTube, the "#gorillapenis" Twitter scam, and the LOLcats and Rickrolling memes. That's just the short list. Its only organisational principle appears to be anarchy, and if 4chan had a motto it would probably be Stick It to Da Man. Da man in the latest case is Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, who earned the group's ire after AT&T blocked 4chan's notorious /b/ image boards yesterday morning, followed by the entire site 12 hours later. (More details of a NSFW nature can be found on the Encyclopaedia Dramatica wiki.)
Last night CNN's citizen journalism site, iReport, featured a front-page story that Stephenson had been found dead in his beachfront home after an all-night cocaine binge with a bunch of male strippers. That fake story got nuked fairly quickly, but not before it found its way to Digg and elsewhere across the web. (Silicon Valley Insider has screen shots of the report.) It's widely assumed that story was planted by someone at 4chan. Though it's hard to get an accurate picture of what's really going on, it appears AT&T restored access to 4chan this morning. According to the Project AT&T message board, which was created shortly after 4chan got banned, "AT&T has lifter [sic] their ban. All rioting/'war'/protests have been suspended for the time being." But something tells me this is far from over. The next few days ought to be interesting to watch, as a multi-billion-dollar corporation takes on a decentralised anarchic collective that seems to recognise no limits on its behaviour. Even if AT&T and 4chan come to some kind of mutual agreement, this is something that's likely to happen again (and again, and again) with other collectives and other service providers. Of course, AT&T controls a lot of broadband pipe, and it can cut off anybody it wants to. This brings up the sticky issue of Net neutrality. Was 4chan breaking the law or AT&T's network, or did the company have an issue with the site's content? Until we know why the site was banned, all we can do is speculate. [UPDATE: After this story posted, AT&T published a statement regarding why it blocked 4chan, which reads in part: Beginning Friday, an AT&T customer was impacted by a denial-of-service attack stemming from IP addresses connected to img.4chan.org. To prevent this attack from disrupting service for the impacted AT&T customer, and to prevent the attack from spreading to impact our other customers, AT&T temporarily blocked access to the IP addresses in question for our customers. This action was in no way related to the content at img.4chan.org; our focus was on protecting our customers from malicious traffic. So that clears that up, I suppose. ] No matter: As innumerable spammers, scammers, pirates, and other Net scoundrels have amply demonstrated, there's plenty of bandwidth to go around. All some service providers care about is that their payments get cleared. There's effectively no way to shut down a determined group like 4chan. As Gawker's "Cajun Boy" notes: "AT&T didn't just open a can worms, they dove headfirst into a den of vipers." True dat. And they're not the only ones who are likely to get bit. Can rogue groups be stopped? Do ISPs have the right to ban whomever they feel like? Post your thoughts below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.