Opinion

Anthony De Rosa

Apple’s event causes mass disruption

Anthony De Rosa
Jun 6, 2011 20:29 UTC

The biggest takeaway from today’s Apple announcements at their annual worldwide developers conference was how many companies they’ve just disrupted.

Hey Blackberry, you know that your BBM that many find to be the sole reason they stick by your side instead of bolting for a shiny new iPhone. Say hello to iMessage. Start a conversation on your iPhone and continue it on your iPad. If you still want to talk to your friends tied to their Blackberries, there’s always What’s App.

So Dropbox, you’ve been one of the most useful apps I’ve come across in quite some time. My files auto-synced in the cloud, I barely have to think about it. I move effortlessly from one machine to another and my stuff is right there, a click away. Welp, I’ve got some bad news for you. iCloud. 5 gigs of storage and get this, it’s free. Well, unless you’ve got some non-iTunes music you wanna sync. That’s gonna set you back $25 a year. Cmon, that’s a fraction of the money you’ve stolen from artists and those poor multi-millionaire music executives (if any of them still exist anymore.)

What else? Instapaper, a brilliant app by former lead developer for Tumblr, Marco Arment was just replaced by a feature in Apple’s Safari browser, called “Reading List” which stores what you’re browsing for offline reading later, and syncs it across both your iOS devices and your Mac. Poor guy. His reaction on Twitter was priceless.

If Larry David is a social assassin, what does this make Steve Jobs?

Some companies were disrupted in a positive way. Today was Twitter’s lucky day. Apple just built in Twitter integration at the base level of iOS5. Enter your Twitter credentials in your iOS device settings and you’re set. No need to log into Twitter again for most of the apps you regularly use.  Shoot something with your iPhone or iPad camera? Bam, send it to Twitter. Tired of having to keep logging into Twitter on  Safari? No longer. Same goes for YouTube,  Maps, and your contacts.

How Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account could have been hacked

Anthony De Rosa
Jun 2, 2011 14:56 UTC

Anthony Weiner is about as uncensored online as he is offline. But is he really bold enough to post a photo of himself sans pants over a Twitter account?

I’m less interested in the politics of the matter than the technical evidence that could show whether the congressman sent the photo himself or if it was sent by someone else. Over the weekend, I posted my analysis on the authenticity of the photo behind the scandal. Weiner’s friend and former “freeloading” roommate, Jon Stewart, used my post from the other day on The Daily Show to illustrate some of the methods for how the congressman could have had his account hacked. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Every photo tells a story

Within just about every digital photo, there are clues left behind called “metadata” that identify the make and model of the camera used, the time the photo was taken and sometimes even the location the photo was taken at. I ran one of the earlier photos that Anthony Weiner had taken through several tools (here is one you can try yourself) that look at the “exif data” within the photo. Here was the result from this photo:

Friends, lovers, investors and the messy world of disclosure

Anthony De Rosa
May 17, 2011 16:39 UTC

Michael Arrington, the bull in the china shop that is the tech industry, recently revised his 2009 proclamation that he would divest himself from the companies he was covering and stop investing in startups to avoid a conflict of interest. In his revision, he announced he has begun investing in startups again and rationalizes it by making the investments public record. This has led to cackles from his peers, most notably from Kara Swisher who pointed out the hypocrisy of his boss Arianna Huffington to allow Arrington to be the sole exception to her policy of not allowing her employees to invest in the companies they cover.

Investments, however, are just one component of what can lead to a conflict of interest. I would submit that a far bigger conflict that goes unspoken and leads to much worse journalism are the relationships writers have with the people they cover. Friends, lovers and acquaintances muddle who gets covered and how they are treated by the people covering them. I can speak with some degree of seeing this with my own eyes when it comes to the New York tech startup beat and the founders they cover. Many of the same people writing about these startups are good friends with the principals, and the nearly flawless fawning coverage reads more like an extended arm of their public relations group than anything resembling real journalism.

On top of that you have people who hop between being journalists and working as either advisers or evangelists who participate in promotional events for products. The conflict of being an adviser or an evangelist is obvious, diluting the person’s journalistic ethics and their ability to be impartial.

Google raises Internet appliances from the dead

Anthony De Rosa
May 11, 2011 20:31 UTC

A decade ago, we wondered what happened to the product that Google just announced. The Chromebook, Google’s version of a netbook, finally has the ecosystem and infrastructure to support it. Many have declared the PC age on its deathbed, with mobile on the verge of overtaking its marketshare. Google simply believes the PC will evolve, into the cloud and beyond local based storage.

Google will make their notebooks, running entirely on their Chrome OS, available in June, partnering with Acer and Samsung for the hardware and Verizon for connectivity. Samsung will charge $425 for a Wifi only version and $499 for one that includes 100MB data service. Acer’s version will cost “$349 and up.”

The notebook has virtually zero boot time — hit power and you’re on. The battery is said to last an entire day. Your files, entirely in the cloud and accessible anywhere, have built-in security. Updates to software, purchased in the Chrome App Store, will be automatic.

Is this the end of Skype as we knew it?

Anthony De Rosa
May 10, 2011 17:03 UTC

The first time I used Skype I was in awe. The video quality, the effortlessness it allowed me to see and hear my family far away over my laptop computer screen was magic. It was even more magical when I tried it on my iPhone — a Dick Tracy moment. And it was more impressive than FaceTime because it allowed me to talk to anyone with Skype, not just with those who had an iPhone.

Today, Skype will likely begin to be lost in the maw that is Microsoft. Sure, Microsoft still remains one of the most valuable companies this country has ever produced but aside from the XBox, it hasn’t been on the leading edge of innovation in many years. Apple, Google and companies like Facebook and Twitter are seen at the forefront of the digital age. Microsoft, in comparison, seems like the once great star athlete, a Michael Jordan attempting to regain some glory by playing minor league baseball.

The best case scenario here is that Microsoft rolls Skype into a product like Kinect, which hasn’t quite taken the world by storm, and becomes a simple, easy to use videoconferencing device for the living room, that takes us beyond just hunching over our computers to interact with our friends who are far away.

Bin Laden death breaks on twitter

Anthony De Rosa
May 2, 2011 13:41 UTC

It began with the White House announcement that President Barack Obama would make a statement at 10:30pm ET. The speculation on Twitter was that this was either going to be a major update on events in Libya or that Osama Bin Laden had been captured or killed. Below is the twitter stream starting from last night with some comments in between that give it context.


[View the story "Timeline to History : Bin Laden Death Breaks on Twitter" on Storify]

Fear, loathing and apathy about digital security

Anthony De Rosa
Apr 27, 2011 17:19 UTC

Is Facebook just an elaborate direct marketer’s masterwork? Should I think twice before using my existing Twitter account to log into various services all around the web? Should I be worried about handing my credit card over to Sony? These and other perfectly valid and  simultaneously conspiracy theoretical ideas tend to float in and around my head from time to time. The big scare du-jour, is if Apple’s iPhone and Google’s mobile OS, Android, are tracking and archiving our every movement.

A journalistic tennis match on this topic took place over the course of the last few days. First, this is old news. Apple responded to congress regarding this almost a year ago. Digital forensics specialists have known you could track locations on iOS devices for some time, and have used the data to assist law enforcement. Alex Levinson, an RIT student, even published a research paper and subsequent book last December detailing data acquisition techniques for iOS products, like the iPhone and iPad. He says that Apple is not collecting the data.

The Wall Street Journal added Google to the mix, citing that Apple is not alone in the practice of collecting user information. Julia Angwin at the Journal claims that not only are Apple and Google collecting the data and storing it locally on the phone, but they actually regularly transmit their locations back to Apple and Google. The endgame? Angwin believes they’re racing to build a massive database of location information in order to tap the $2.9 billion market for location-based services. Today, Apple seemed to indicate that was part of their plan, as they revealed they’re building a crowd-sourced traffic service.

Traditional media’s refusal to enter the link economy

Anthony De Rosa
Apr 13, 2011 14:28 UTC

Blogger ethics tend to be better than traditional journalism ethics when it comes to linking to sources. It’s actually far more likely you won’t find a single link in any articles in most mainstream news publications online. Sometimes they may even write out the source, but won’t link to it.

Here’s an example of where the New York Post cites TV Newser and Mediaite, but refuses to link to either. Both Newser and Mediaite are generous with links to their sources. Apparently the New York Post is a common offender. The Post has gone so far as to have allegedly admitted, by way of correspondence from one of their reporters, that they in fact have a policy to not credit blogs (or anyone else) if they can verify independently after they’ve been tipped off from the source they choose not to cite. Other parts of News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch’s empire, which includes the Post, may have the same policy as well.

Recently, NBC New York used a good deal of their reporting from a post written by NYC The Blog, which does excellent coverage of stories that often fall between the cracks, and does so with great detail. The author of the post originally did not bother to mention his source, then added the mention, but has yet to link to it.

The next great tech bubble emerges

Anthony De Rosa
Mar 24, 2011 20:30 UTC

photo.PNGAn application that wasn’t even in the app store a week ago just raised $41 million.

We’ve reached the point where simply the idea of an app is now enough to raise multi-million dollar capital. Were any of these folks around back in 2000? Certainly some lessons have been learned the first time around. Most investors and companies are avoiding the same mistakes but that hasn’t prevented plenty of head scratching deals to emerge in the last few months.

The app, called Color, is a photo sharing application that allows you to post and view images by people in the same proximity as each other.

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