new web technologies

Technically Scary: Halloween Costumes For The Modern Geek


Surf the techno-Zeitgeist this Halloween with the latest costumes out of Silicon Valley. They're sure to wow—or alarm—your trick-or-treating technophile friends.  

Apple's Hair Force One

With his luxurious grey hair and affable smile, Apple's VP of wear is the man every girl wants ... as her dad. No wonder he's the guy Apple trusts at its product unveilings. Father knows best! 

Snapchat's Ghost As A Hobo (GoBo!)

Snapchat photos are supposed to be as ephemeral as the ghost in the company's logo. But after "The Snappening," when hackers dumped hundreds of thousands of Snapchat pics purloined from a third-party app, the $10 billion company claimed it couldn't afford to secure its API.  Spooky!

Comcast Customer Corpse

Attempt to cancel your Comcast cable service and you may find your life slipping away the customer service representative tasked with retaining your patronage. Such was the fate of Ryan Block and Veronica Belmont in July, whose battle went viral after Block posted an audio sample of the stress-inducing conversation on SoundCloud.

Uber Recruiter

Uber Recruiter Spy Halloween Costume.

Uber takes corporate espionage to a whole new level with Operation Slog. Undercover agents are armed with burner phones to hail Lyft cars and a five-point pitch to convince Lyft drivers to defect. This costume is a great alternative if you want to play 007 super spy but can't afford the tux rental. 

#GamerGate

Sexism! Misogyny! Ethics! Threats of violence! Video games! It's GamerGate! This year's hottest Internet dust-up combines all the worst aspects of Internet culture with all the ugliest impulses of human nature (to achieve maximum redundancy). And it makes a great last-minute costume to boot! Cover yourself in rotten refuse and go! That's pretty much GamerGate in a rank, festering nutshell.

Ello, The Social Network Of Mystery

Sure, you could be obvious and make a black-and-white cardboard smiley face, but even the Ello logo is too obvious if you really want to be the new social network nobody understands. Instead, just dress entirely grayscale, including your "Hello, my name is Ello" sticker tag. You'll be instantly cool at that hipster Halloween party. Everyone will want to know you, even if they aren't sure why.

Illustrations by Nigel Sussman for ReadWrite


Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 02:02:05 -0700
Author: :: Category: Play



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AT&T Ruins Apple’s SIM Bid In War On Carrier Choice


Apple’s first SIM just had its first arrow slung at it: AT&T has locked down the company’s new Apple-Made SIM cards in its newest line of iPads. 

Typically SIMs, the teensy ID cards that allow a device to be used on a cellular network, come from the carriers. But Apple now makes its own, presumably so that the devices can be used on any network.

See also: What's Apple Going To Do With All Its Loose Ends?

However, customers purchasing the iPad Air 2 or the iPad mini 3, the first to carry these SIM cards, won't have that freedom if they buy from AT&T. The carrier has locked the Apple SIM down, effectively shackling them to its network. Macrumors was the first to report this news, and an Apple support document was recently updated, confirming it.  

AT&T did not immediately respond to ReadWrite’s request for comment. 

Photo by MIKI Yoshihito


Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:42:42 -0700
Author: :: Category: Mobile



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Why Open Source Is Becoming A Big Developer-Recruiting Tool


Most companies are just coming around to the idea that open source can help lower costs and boost innovation within their organizations. But Web companies like Netflix, Twitter and Facebook understand that open source can be more: a powerful weapon for recruiting and retaining top engineering talent.

See also: The Reasons Businesses Use Open Source Are Changing Faster Than You Think

If we believe that developers are the "new kingmakers," then the companies able to source the best developers will win. That means open source is the new ante for even getting into the developer recruiting game.

You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Chains

For years organizations largely constrained their developer productivity, hemming them in by withholding access to hardware and software. But something has changed in the last few years, which Digital Ocean CEO Ben Uretsky highlights:

[D]evelopers were at the mercy of their employer’s capital. But that’s changed.... With software being free and readily available, the sole ball-and-chain left shackled to the ankles of developers was hardware. With the development of the cloud market, developers had a newfound stray dog freedom.

Fortunately, developers haven't done "stray dog" sorts of things with that freedom. Instead they're hard at work within lines of business, building apps often in spite of IT. No wonder Gartner says 38% of technology purchases already happen outside IT, which number will jump to 50% by 2017.

The developer inmates, in other words, increasingly run the enterprise asylum. But how well they run it may hinge on your ability to recruit them.

Open Source Your Recruiting

Which is why I found James Pearce's presentation at OSCON (transcribed by Remy DeCausemaker) earlier this summer so interesting. Pearce heads Facebook's open-source efforts, which is a big job given that Facebook could well be the world's largest open source company. He shared a few data points on Facebook's open source efforts:

[There are] 200 active projects at Facebook, with 10 million lines of code. Many hundreds of engineers working on these, with over 100,000 followers and 20,000 forks. We contribute to a wide range of projects (i.e. The kernel, mercurial, D, etc). We've even open sourced the designs of our data centers and machines in the Open Compute project.

Even this belies just how much open source code Facebook uses and contributes. For every Cassandra (a NoSQL database) that Facebook develops and open sources, it also heavily contributes to an existing project like MySQL. But Facebook also "tries to scale" open-source projects that interest it, and does a lot of fiddling to that effect, as has been the case with MongoDB storage engines

See also: Open Source Projects Need More Than Good Code—They Need Marketing

This culture of open source permeates Facebook. So much so, in fact, that it serves as a beacon to developers who want to work somewhere that unfetters their freedom to tinker, as Pearce notes:

We asked our employees..."Were you aware of the open source software program at Facebook?" Two-thirds said "Yes", and one-half said that the program positively contributed to their decision to work for us. These are not marginal numbers, and I hope, a trend that continues. A large number of those people said their experience using our projects in the open helped them get ramped up prior to being hired. That is a huge win for our company. This is important part of why open source is valuable to [Facebook].

For Facebook, then, open source is not "naive ideology," but rather is "like the breeze from an open window; it keeps things from going stale," both in terms of code and in terms of people.

Set Your Developers Free

Facebook is onto something here, and it's similar to what Netflix and others have done. Netflix, as I've written, "is looking for the best and brightest developers, and knows that the best developers generally want to be involved in open source."  

Twitter? Chris Aniszczyk, Twitter's head of open source, lists core operating principles that closely resemble Facebook's own ethos:

As he told me over Twitter, this isn't about peace, love and Linux, but about self-interest:

Guess what? It's in your self-interest, too. The best software today, from Hadoop to Android, is open source. The best developers—those people that will make or break your business—are also focused on open source. 

Set them free. Just like Facebook. Just like Twitter. Just like Netflix.

Lead image by Marcin Wichary


Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:16:07 -0700
Author: :: Category: Hack



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Whether you're a journalism student wanting to learn security tips not taught in college classrooms, or a pro at keeping communications secure, the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to make your activities online even safer from prying eyes.

The EFF's new project called Surveillance Self-Defense is a collection of tools and resources broken down into specific resource "playlists" for both computer types and the people using them. These include: Mac user, human rights defender, student journalist, online security veteran, and a security starter pack for newbies.

Each playlist includes a step-by-step guide for protecting and securing your private communications. Most start with a introduction to threat modeling, or understanding what information you want to protect and from whom. From there, the guides cover various other tools and services for particular situations, like "Things To Consider When Crossing The U.S. Border," in the human rights defender playlist.

The EFF's SSD project also features a collection of tutorials to help people encrypt their phones, use PGP for different operating systems, and how to pick the best virtual private network. 

See also: NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: Keep Their Hands Off Our Data

The organization's guide doesn't claim to protect people from every credible threat, but it does a good job of delineating what technologies and services are the most helpful and necessary to protect data from hackers or adversaries.

After the Edward Snowden revelations, ongoing data breaches and personal information leaks, people are increasingly conscious of how and what they share online. Privacy hardware tools that aim to make data protection safe and simple have sprung up on the scene, just as quickly as their usefulness is debunked.

With EFF's suite of tools and resources, even the most novice user can begin to take steps to secure their data, and begin communicating with friends and colleagues in a safer, more indestructible way.

Lead photo by JD Hancock on Flickr


Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:41:48 -0700
Author: :: Category: Web



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Apple Sent Porn To A Developer To Prove His App Could Be Used To Find Porn


Pornographic content is forbidden in the Apple App Store, but Apple seems to be OK with sending porn to developers who submit their apps for review, according to one who received an inappropriate pic. 

"It turns out Apple thought the best way to tell us our app could be used to surf porn was to surf for porn using our app," Carl Smith, a Florida developer for nGen Works, wrote in a blog post on Medium (NSFW link). 

The email, which Smith shared with ReadWrite, appears to be from the Apple app review team and includes an attached photo of a man's genitalia, but no warning of the enclosed content. This is the kind of thing that can create a hostile work environment for nGen employees whose jobs necessitate reading emails from Apple. 

See also: The Majority Of Porn In The United States Is Viewed On Smartphones

Smith suggested a number of alternatives he thought Apple could have used to indicate a concern about explicit content. The team could have sent nGen Works a search term to try, or even warn in advance what the emailed photo was of. Instead, Smith said the developers who opened the email had no warning that it would be graphic.

“What I want from Apple is for them to address the issue and put a policy in place that prevents an App store reviewer from sending pornographic images as an example of a issue," he said. "They could have easily masked out the bad part of the photo or told us a phrase to search. At the very least warn someone before they open the attachments that they aren't safe for work.”

“Specifically, we noticed your app contains objectionable content at time of review. Please see the attached screenshot/s for more information,” the Apple review team email reads, before offering a downloadable file that turned out to be the genitalia photo in question.

Smith said solution is hypocritical of the company. Of course nGen's app, which allows users to enlarge, save, and search for Instagram photos, would be capable of browsing any photo that exists on Instagram already.

“This is a double standard,” Smith told ReadWrite. “If I type bad words into Safari I am going to see bad things. So I think Apple needs to address that.”

Smith said he doubted Apple’s “upper echelons” would approve of this action, and encouraged readers to spread the word.

We’ve contacted Apple for a comment on this allegation.

Photo via Shutterstock


Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:00:53 -0700
Author: :: Category: Mobile



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