FAA to allow wider use of electronic devices

The incantation is complete. The curse upon avionic equipment, placed from afar by the spirits of electromagnetic energy, has been lifted. You may now use your kindles during takeoff.

n is for the young and stupid, where n = array("love", "war", "software")

Legendary coder and blogger Dave Winer is frustrated with the New York Times because it doesn't cover technology as "seriously" as it covers other things.

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Wikipedia editor count down by a third

Tom Simonite on "the decline of Wikipedia":
The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia—and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation—has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking. ... The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage.

The horrible world of web hosting

In web hosting, service and product quality are sliced so thin that much of the business is built around $5 deals and the low standards that come with them. This pushes savvy but non-technical customers to expensive overkill such as managed hosting, or to complicated alternatives such as virtualization. Anyone who has ever gone through this whole rigmarole will understand what Marco Arment means when he writes that "Web hosting is a horrible business."

Web hosting customers are nomads. If your host hasn’t been ruined yet, just wait. Today, news broke that GoDaddy bought Media Temple. GoDaddy is a horrible company run by horrible people selling horrible products. ... If you’re a Media Temple customer wondering whether you should prepare for the worst, the short answer is: probably.

GIF: the news-friendly movie format that just works

The NYT's Sarah Lyall interviews Deadspin's Tim Burke, who uses animated GIF clips to excellent effect in posts.

Burke, 35, is known among sports journalists for his ability to capture the moment — whether as a still, a video clip or in his favored format, a GIF — better, faster, more frequently and from more sports events than just about anyone. How he does it is a matter of wonder.

Part of the secret: he's set up a 10-monitor home-office newsroom that can record from 28 sources simultaneously. Sources such as this.

Yahoo mail changes anger Yahoo mail users

In what Nicole Perlroth describes as "the online equivalent of a riot", Yahoo Mail users are revolting against recent updates to the service. Apparently they turned it into a confusing gmail clone with gaudy backgrounds and display advertising, or something.

How to fool benchmarking apps

Anand Lai Shimpi and Brian Klug trace the tricks used by electronics giants to bamboozle benchmarking apps--a practice widely associated with Samsung, but also used by at least some of its competitors. At The Observer, Charles Arthur suggests that it's time to stop trusting benchmarking apps altogether.

@tofu_product tries to write like you do

"Sometime during September, the Twitter account @tofu_product came online," writes Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic. "Its cryptic bio reads: “Tofu absorbs flavor. Follow me, then tweet at me. I'll try my best to write like you do.”"

You will soon be able to use gadgets on planes during takeoff and landing

The Federal Airline Administration's quixotic prohobition on the use of gadgets during takeoff and landing is to come to an end, reports Jad Mouawad at The New York Times. But they're digging their heels in on using internet connections, i.e. radios.

But the panel said that restrictions should remain on sending text messages, browsing the Web or checking e-mail after the plane’s doors have been closed. Passengers can do that only when the aircraft’s Wi-Fi network is turned on, typically above 10,000 feet. The use of cellphones to make voice calls, which was not part of the review, will still be prohibited throughout the flight.

A Ripple in the online payment waters

Robert McMillan on Bitcoin "maverick" Jed McCaleb, who started Mt. Gox and now offers Ripple, an alternative to the digital currency. [Wired]

After selling Mt. Gox, McCaleb started thinking more deeply about Bitcoin. He was a huge fan, but he thought he could so some things better. First, he wanted to do away with Bitcoin mining — the process by which computers on the network verify transactions in exchange for Bitcoins. Because miners are rewarded in proportion to the processing power they add to the network, Bitcoin mining has become a bit of an arms race, with very specialized and powerful computers now doing the bulk of the work. McCaleb, a 38-year-old surfer and Berkeley dropout from Little Rock, Arkansas, sees this as excessive. By his reckoning, there’s $160 million spent annually on mining the Bitcoin network, “which is insane,” he says. “And this isn’t something that’s going to go away. It just gets worse and worse.”

Blackberry prospects dim

Announcing a billion dollar operating loss, Blackberry stock trading is frozen and 4500 jobs are to be lost.

Don't want to give up on internet privacy?

Brian Fung offers a quick guide on how to stick it out. [WaPo]

Microsoft's Ballmer to retire

After 13 years at Microsoft's helm, CEO Steve Ballmer is to retire within 12 months. The search for a successor is on.

"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said in a press release. "... We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."

A committee at Microsoft will begin the hunt for a new leader. Ballmer's tenure was marked by consistent profits but weak growth, the software giant failing to keep pace with industry developments—particularly in mobile computing.

Ballmer's statement follows.

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Wireless baby monitor hacked, baby insulted

A mystery man patched into a camera-equipped wireless baby monitor, watching and yelling abuse at a child--and its parents, when they came to see what was going on. ABC's Alana Abramson reports from the intersection of ill will and appallingly insecure technology.

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Sony makes profit

Just $35m, but its strategy of going back to high-end, high-margin gear seems to be working: expect more fancy Android phones, RX-series cameras, and 4K televisions. [The Verge]