Today The New Yorker unveiled a project called Strongbox, which aims to let sources share tips and leaks with the news organization in a secure manner. It makes use of the TOR network and encrypts file uploads with PGP. Once the files are uploaded, they're transferred via thumb-drive to a laptop that isn't connected to the internet, which is erased every time it is powered on and booted with a live CD. The publication won't record any details about your visit, so even a government request to look at their records will fail to find any useful information. "There’s a growing technology gap: phone records, e-mail, computer forensics, and outright hacking are valuable weapons for anyone looking to identify a journalist’s source. With some exceptions, the press has done little to keep pace: our information-security efforts tend to gravitate toward the parts of our infrastructure that accept credit cards." Strongbox is actually just The New Yorker's version of a secure information-sharing platform called DeadDrop, built by Aaron Swartz shortly before his death. DeadDrop is free software.
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vikingpower writes "The winner of this year's World Press Photo award, Paul l Hanssen, is under fire for allegedly having photoshopped the winning picture. The Hacker Factor is detailing the reasons and technicalities for the accusations. ExtremeTech also runs an item about the possible faking. Upon questions by Australian news site news.com.au, Hanssen answers his photo is not a fake. The whole story, however, is based upon somewhat thin proof: three different times in the file's Adobe XMP block; this does not necessarily mean that more than one file was used in order to obtain a composite image." Update: 05/14 20:04 GMT by S : World Press Photo says the photo is genuine.
theodp writes "Big Bloomberg is watching you. CNN reports that was the unsettling realization Goldman Sachs execs came to a few weeks ago when a Bloomberg reporter inadvertently revealed that reporters from the news and financial data provider had surveillance capabilities over users of Bloomberg terminals. 'Limited customer relationship data has long been available to our journalists,' acknowledged a Bloomberg spokesman. 'In light of [Goldman's] concern as well as a general heightened sensitivity to data access, we decided to disable journalist access to this customer relationship information for all clients.' Business Insider is now reporting on allegations that Bloomberg reporters used terminals to spy on JPMorgan during the 'London Whale' disaster; Bloomberg bragged about its leadership on this story."
DeviceGuru writes "Embedded Linux pioneer LinuxDevices.com departed from the web earlier this week. The site became a collateral casualty of the aquisition of eWEEK by Quinstreet in February 2012, as part of a bundle of Ziff Davis Enterprise assets. Quinstreet immediately fired all the LinuxDevices staffers and ceased maintaining the site. A few days ago, the site's plug was finally pulled and it is now gone from the Web, save for a few pages on the WayBack Machine. For more than a decade, LinuxDevices played a pivotal role in serving and fostering an emerging embedded Linux ecosystem, and it was well respected by the embedded Linux community at the time it was acquired by QuinStreet. Unfortunately, the site did not mesh well with QuinStreet's B2B market focus. Fortunately, its spirit remains alive and well at LinuxGizmos.com, a site recently launched by LinuxDevices founder Rick Lehrbaum."
Fortran IV writes "Randall Munroe's xkcd webcomic has done some odd things before, but #1190, 'Time,' is something special. It's a time-lapse movie of two people building a sandcastle that's been updating just once an hour (twice an hour in the beginning) for well over a month (since March 25th), and after over a thousand frames shows no sign of ending; in a few days the number of frames will surpass the total number of xkcd comics. It's been mentioned in The Economist. Some of its readers have called it the One True Comic; others have called it a MMONS (Massively Multiplayer Online Nerd Sniping). It's sparked its own wiki, its own jargon (Timewaiters, newpix, Blitzgirling), and a thread on the xkcd user forum that runs to over 20,000 posts from 1100 distinct posters. Is 'Time' a fascinating work of art, a deep sociological experiment — or the longest-running shaggy-dog joke in history? Randall Munroe's not saying."
woohoodonuts writes "The Professional & Amateur Pinball Association is creating a webchannel that will livestream content from their national circuit of tournaments ranging from Southern California to New York City. The most recent circuit tournament in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania sold out of all 400 tournament openings in less than three weeks, months in advance of the event. With several new companies in the process of creating machines and hundreds of new competitive events springing up worldwide at a record pace, is the retro silverball rising to prominence once again?"
theodp writes "Steinar Skipsnes came up with a unique way to get more women into tech. Make them up. Posing as 'Sarah Hanson,' a 19-year-old woman who claimed to have auctioned off 10% of her future income in return for $125,000 to fund her Senior Living Map startup, Skipsnes pitched the story via email to generate press coverage. It worked — VentureBeat, HuffPo, Yahoo!, AOL, GeekWire, and others took the bait. But after doubts were aired about the story, Skipsnes fessed up to concocting the too-good-to-be-true hoax about the female teen entrepreneur to appeal to the interests of the tech press. 'I started to think "what if I took the elements of what the press loves and created a story?"' Skipsnes explained. "So I did.'"
I've been really, really excited about digital video distribution lately: first Netflix greenlights jms's return to science fiction TV, and then Amazon announces their new pilots. Perhaps the decade long dearth of any good television is nearing its end! So, with that in mind, I finished up editing Slashdot for the day and sat down to watch some of these new pilots. Only to discover that Amazon has taken away my ability to watch entirely in the name of Digital Restrictions Management.
First time accepted submitter bakerharis writes with an article about Amazon's attempt to break into creating conventional television style episodic shows, but with a different model from the manistream media companies. "Amazon's foray into TV production is unique in the way it saves money. Every spring, traditional TV networks like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox order dozens of pilots and show them to focus groups. Executives pick just a handful to make into series. Then, they commission 13 episodes of each promising show, with each one potentially costing a few million dollars. Many episodes won't ever air if the first few don't attract big audiences." Amazon, instead, has created 14 pilot shows, and is letting a cross section of customers in the U.S., UK, and Germany react to them to see which shows might be worth making more of.
Nerval's Lobster writes "These days, when something in the world goes very wrong, it seems as if everybody learns about it first on Twitter and Facebook. In the minutes after homemade bombs turned the finish line of the Boston Marathon into a crime scene, terms such as #BostonMarathon shot to the top of Twitter's Trends list; across the country, office workers first learned of the attack when someone posted a message on a Facebook page. Social networks have become this generation's radio, the default conduit for the freshest information. As first responders treated the wounded and the minutes ticked past, news organizations began vacuuming up Twitter and Facebook posts from around Boston and posting it on their Websites, along with 'regular' text updates. A Vine video-snippet of a bomb going off near the finish line, knocking a runner off his feet, ended up embedded into dozens of blog postings. When a disaster strikes, and many of those same news Websites post 'live updates' that incorporate tons of social-networking posts, they face accusations of exploiting the tragedy in the name of pageviews and revenue. That's not surprising—long before 'yellow journalism' became a term, people have charged news organizations with playing up humanity's worst for their own gain. In the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings, online pundits lashed out against Mashable, The Verge, Wired, and other publications that had posted live updates, accusing them of stepping outside their usual coverage areas for cynical gain. In the following piece, a number of tech editors-in-chief, including The Verge's Joshua Topolsky and Mashable's Lance Ulanoff, talk about their approaches to covering the tragedy."
bshell writes "According to the CBC, there was a massive leak of 'files containing information on over 120,000 offshore entities — including shell corporations and legal structures known as trusts — involving people in over 170 countries. The leak amounts to 260 gigabytes of data, or 162 times larger than the U.S. State Department cables published by WikiLeaks in 2010...In many cases, the leaked documents expose insider details of how agents would incorporate companies in Caribbean and South Pacific micro-states on behalf of wealthy clients, then assign front people called "nominees" to serve, on paper, as directors and shareholders for the corporations — disguising the companies' true owners.' Makes a good read and there are some good interactive components. Perhaps Slashdot readers can figure out how the source of the leak, the D.C.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists got their hands on this data."
ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes in with an Afghanistan media success story. "I met Orner at South by Southwest, where she was hustling her latest film, The Network. The Network features a brighter side of Afghanistan's brighter side: the story of its television revolution. In Orner's opinion, it's a narrative that runs contrary to our common conceptions of a country that has spent decades in a state of war and instability. She followed Saad Mohseni, a media guru and founder of Afghan media firm Moby Group, who is credited for jump starting the nation's media transformation. Sometimes referred to as the Rupert Murdoch of Afghanistan, Mohseni, an Afghan expat and entrepreneur, explains how he and his siblings returned to Kabul from Australia in 2001, amidst the war shifting into gear. First, they launched a radio station, and by 2004 they'd shifted to television with Tolo TV, quickly turning Moby Group into the largest media conglomerate in the nation."
6 writes "Destructoid, one of the few remaining bastions of independent game journalism online, wonders what to do now that nearly 50% of their users run ad-blockers."
dstates writes "ProPublica, the award winning public interest journalism group and frequently cited Slashdot source, has published an interesting guide to app technology for journalism and a set of data and style guides. Journalism presents unique challenges with potentially enormous but highly variable site traffic, the need to serve a wide variety of information, and most importantly, the need to quickly develop and vet interesting content, and ProPublica serves lots of data sets in addition to the news. They are also doing some cool stuff like using AI to generate specific narratives from tens of thousands of database entries illustrating how school districts and states often don't distribute educational opportunities to rich and poor kids equally. The ProPublica team focuses on some basic practical issues for building a team, rapidly and flexibly deploying technology and insuring that what they serve is correct. A great news app developer needs three key skills: the ability to do journalism, design acumen and the ability to write code quickly — and the last is the easiest to teach. To build a team they look to their own staff rather than competing with Google for CS grads. Most news organizations use either Ruby on Rails or Python/Django, but more important than which specific technology you choose is to just pick a server-side programming language and stick to it. Cloud hosting provides news organizations with incredible flexibility (like increasing your capacity ten-fold for a few days around the election and then scaling back the day after), but they're not as fast as real servers, and cloud costs can scale quickly relative to real servers. Maybe a news app is not the most massive 'big data' application out there, but where else can you find the challenge of millions of users checking in several times a day for the latest news, and all you need to do is sort out which of your many and conflicting sources are providing you with straight information? Oh, and if you screw up, it will be very public."
Zaatxe writes with a bit of news about the music industry; sales are slightly up (basically flat). From the article: "The music industry, the first media business to be consumed by the digital revolution, said on Tuesday that its global sales rose last year for the first time since 1999, raising hopes that a long-sought recovery might have begun. The increase, of 0.3 percent, was tiny, and the total revenue, $16.5 billion, was a far cry from the $38 billion that the industry took in at its peak more than a decade ago. Still, even if it is not time for the record companies to party like it's 1999, the figures, reported Tuesday by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, provide significant encouragement. 'At the beginning of the digital revolution it was common to say that digital was killing music,' said Edgar Berger, chief executive of the international arm of Sony Music Entertainment. Now, he added, it could be said 'that digital is saving music.'" Because CDs aren't digital. CD sales are declining, and being replaced by the sale of lossy files. I wonder how much more money they could be making if they'd just sell folks lossless music on the open market (not just iTunes) since at least that's all that keeps me buying a CD or three a year (I own way too many CDs personally, and stopped buying music until discovering Bandcamp and easy lossless downloads rekindled my desire to find new stuff).
imac.usr writes "The Huffington Post is reporting that The Washington Post has gone through yet another round of layoffs, but this time instead of cutting editorial positions, they're apparently cutting IT positions, specifically in the mobile applications department. According to Washington, DC media blog FishbowlDC, 54 people, including the General Manager of Mobile and Director of Mobile Products, were given the axe on Valentine's Day. A particularly damning quote from the FishbowlDC article: '"[CIO and VP Shaliesh] Prakash thinks these are 'inefficiencies' – that is the exact word he uses for human beings who are not useful according to him," said a source who spoke only on condition of anonymity. "Get rid of experienced people to save money, under the garb of streamlining is the new trend inside the Post."' Given that mobile products seem somewhat more likely to succeed than printed newspapers, this seems a strange decision at best."
Bob the Super Hamste writes "On Tuesday Comcast announced that it would accelerate its acquisition of NBCUniversal and purchase the remaining 49% owned by GE for $16.7 billion. Previously GE and Comcast were expected to operate NBCUniversal jointly until mid 2014 with Comcast having the option to extend that out until 2018. So far there are not details on when the deal with be completed but the article indicates that Comcast's complete acquisition of NBCUniversal will be completed years earlier that initially thought."
Mirk writes "Academic researchers want to make their papers open access for the world to read. If they use traditional publishers like Elsevier, Springer or Taylor & Francis, they'll be charged $3000 to bring their work out from behind the paywall. But PeerJ, a new megajournal launched today and funded by Tim O'Reilly, publishes open access articles for $99. That's not done by cutting corners: the editorial process is thorough, and they use rigorous peer-review. The cost savings come from running lean and mean on a born-digital system. The initial batch of 30 papers includes one on a Penn and Teller trick and one on the long necks of dinosaurs." $99 entitles you to publish an article a year, for life. $300 nets you unlimited articles published per year.
schnell writes "The New Statesman is publishing a new in-depth article that examines in detail the seemingly paradoxical nature of WikiLeaks' brave mission of public transparency with the private opaqueness of Julian Assange's leadership. On one hand, WikiLeaks created 'a transparency mechanism to hold governments and corporations to account' when nobody else could or would. On the other hand, WikiLeaks itself was 'guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered, cultish devotion.' If WikiLeaks performs a public service exposing the secrets of others but censors its own secrets, does it really matter? Or are the ethics of the organization and its leader inseparable?"