Tag Archives: Technology news

Hackers prank Tupac hoax on PBS website

Business news from the Ascentive team

PBS officials say hackers have cracked the network’s website and posted a fake story claiming dead rapper Tupac Shakur was alive in New Zealand. LulzSec, the hacker group that claimed responsibility for the prank, are said to have acted in response to a recent “Frontline” investigative news program focusing on the whistleblower site WikiLeaks. PBS confirmed Monday that the website had been hacked. The phony story had been taken down as of Monday morning. It had been posted on the site of the “PBS NewsHour” program, which is produced by WETA-TV in Arlington, Va.

Anne Bentley, PBS’ vice president of corporate communications, said in an email that erroneous information posted on the website has been corrected. The hackers also posted login information for two internal PBS sites: one that media use to access the PBS pressroom and an internal communications website for stations, she said. She said all affected parties were being notified.

David Fanning, executive producer of “Frontline,” said he was learning of the hacking early Monday, nearly a week after the program aired its “WikiSecrets” documentary about the leak of U.S. diplomatic cables to the WikiLeaks website. The documentary, produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, generated criticism and debate on the program’s website in recent days from those sympathetic to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and from those who thought the program was fair, Fanning said. “Frontline” producers hear impassioned responses all the time, Fanning said. Having a group attack the PBS website over a news program was unusual but “probably not unexpected,” he said. “From our point of view, we just see it as a disappointing and irresponsible act, especially since we have been very open to publishing criticism of the film … and the film included other points of view. This kind of action is irresponsible and chilling.”

A group calling itself LulzSec (aka The Lulz Boat on Twitter) claimed responsibility and posted links to other hacks, including a video apparently taunting the network. Taunting messages were also posted on the group’s Twitter page targeting the PBS program “Frontline.” One message said the group recently saw the “WikiSecrets” show and was “less than impressed.”

PBS ombudsman Michael Getler wrote about the “WikiSecrets” documentary in his weekly column Thursday, saying it had generated only a handful of complaints, though he had expected more mail from viewers. “This may be a good thing for Frontline if it suggests that most viewers found the program to be in keeping with Frontline’s reputation for fair yet tough reporting,” Getler wrote. Getler raised some questions about the reporting in the program but said he found the questioning by interviewer Martin Smith to be “tough but proper.”


Google I/O 2011 Highlights

Highlights at this year’s Google extravaganza from the Ascentive team.   Held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco announced a ton of interesting tech developments on the horizon.  Here are a few of our favorites:

The Chromebook

Google first announced their nondescript Cr-48 Chrome OS Notebook back in December of 2010 but the production version, now called Chromebook, was just announced at Google I/O 2011. The idea is the same as the original in that it’s basically a barebones computer that runs Google Chrome OS. In many ways the philosophy is a lot like Apple’s iPad in that the hardware takes a backseat to the user experience. Google is selling a Chrome interaction platform, not a traditional notebook. The Chromebook features built-in security, “all day battery”, and multiple connectivity methods that keep the hardware always connected. The production version now sports an unnamed Intel dual core CPU that should give it a much more polished feel than the CR-48 pilot program. External file storage now works, and unlike on the Cr-48, users can plug in a camera or SD card and the Chromebook will mount it automatically. The connectivity of Chromebooks allows users to always have access to their personal cloud. The file manager works in the browser like another tab, but features most modern file manager features, like specifying default apps for certain file types.


Fully offline Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs

With the launch of Chromebooks this summer, will release Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs with offline access. Google’s Sundar Pichai revealed at the conference that Google has internally been using offline versions of their three most popular apps for months now. In addition to this move, Google is no longer supporting Google Gears as Chrome gains many of the same features via HTML5. Pichai also noted that there are already hundreds of apps in the Chrome Web Store with offline access. And that includes almost every game in the store. This, on top of the built-in 3G connectivity is all vital to ensure the vitality of Chromebooks, Pichai noted.


Chrome Web Store goes International, 5% Flat Fee

The Chrome Web Store is going international to all of Chrome’s 160 Million users over the web, available in 41 languages around the world. In addition to this, there will be a 5 percent flat fee to use these app within Chrome, with developers keeping 95% of revenue.

Android Market Overhaul

The web version of Android Market now features a dozen new lists that showcase various applications, including ‘Trending’ and ‘Top Grossing’ lists. Android Market will start suggesting apps based on your previous downloads, and the Android team is taking a more active role in flagging the best apps. The client version of Market on Android devices is also getting an update that will include many new discovery features.

New Study reveals Facebook’s influence on the News

Tech News from Ascentive

According to a new study on the flow of traffic to the Web’s 25 largest news destinations, the social network Facebook is influencing what news gets read online, as Facebook users have to ability to use the network to share and recommend content. The study was released on Monday by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The Pew report is based on an analysis of Internet traffic data compiled by the research firm Nielsen Co. during the first nine months of last year.

The popular social network site is responsible for 3 percent of traffic to the 21 news sites that allowed data to be tracked, according to the study’s co-author, Amy Mitchell. Five of the sites studied got 6 percent to 8 percent of their readers from Facebook.

The referrals to the news sites typically came from links posted by friends on Facebook’s social-networking site or from Facebook’s “like” buttons, which Facebook encourages other websites to place alongside their content, usually through the use of a plugin.

Although Facebook is making a substantial impact on the news, according to the report, the single biggest source remained Google, which accounted for an average of 30 percent of the traffic as people used the search engine to find topics and stories. For some sites, the Drudge Report was the top source. However, Facebook and other sharing tools are empowering people to rely on their online social circles to point out interesting content. Google uses an automated formula to help people find news. Facebook is at the forefront of this shift because it has more than 500 million worldwide users, more than any other Internet service built for socializing and sharing.

“If searching for the news was the most important development of the last decade, sharing the news may be among the most important of the next,” the Pew report said.

Pew examined data from various Internet research sources, such as Nielsen Co., ComScore and Hitwise, during the first nine months of 2010. The study focused on the top 25 general interest news sites, including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, AOL News, Reuters, Yahoo News, and Google News. The study found an average 77 percent of the traffic came from “casual users” who visited just once or twice a month. And in 34 percent of those visits, users spent from one to five minutes on the site per month.

The study also found that 25 to 29 percent of the audiences for the top news sites have bachelor’s degrees, compared with 21 percent of general Internet users. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the BBC, the Boston Globe and SFGate.com had the highest percentages of users with post-graduate degrees.

Also of note, according to the researchers from Millward Brown Optimor, Facebook’s brand has grown in value to $19.1 billion, an increase of over 246 percent as compared to last year.

LinkedIn hits One Million Users

Technology News from Ascentive:

Free business social networking site LinkedIn has announced that it has reached one hundred million users. LinkedIn registered users to create a professional profile visible to others. Through the site, individuals can then maintain a list of known business contacts, known as Connections. LinkedIn users can also invite anyone to join their list of connections. The company also offers free advertiser-supported services, in addition to premium services which cost from $5 to $200 per month. Job listings on LinkedIn costs $95.

The company was founded in the Mountain View, California by Reid Hoffman, Jean-Luc Vaillant, Konstantin Guericke in 2002, and officially launched in May 2003. One of a handful of “social networking” companies in 2003 to get venture funding, LinkedIn operates under the notion that people want to keep their professional networking separate from their personal social behaviors.

Linkedin reached profitability in 2006 when it claimed 5 million visitors. The site grew to 85 million members in October of last year, and hit 90 million members when the company filed it’s S-1 to go public earlier this year. There were nearly two billion people searches on LinkedIn in 2010.

According to a recent article at Mashable, CEO Jeff Weiner claims that LinkedIn is now growing at a rate of one member per second, and ” is fundamentally transforming the way people work,” a resource that’s instrumental to professional networking online. In addition to Weiner, the company’s management team is comprised of executives from Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, TiVo, PayPal and Electronic Arts.

LinkedIn’s site is currently used in over 200 countries and territories around the world, with more than half of LinkedIn’s users coming from outside of the U.S. (44 million in the U.S., 56 million outside of the U.S.) LinkedIn is currently available in six languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. LinkedIn’s fastest-growing country is Brazil, with 428% growth year-over-year. Brazil is followed by Mexico (178% year-over-year), India and France.

Currently 17.8 million LinkedIn users are members of the network’s Groups and 1.2 million post comments to Groups weekly. There are now over 2 million company pages, with eBay, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, EMC and Campbells as the most represented companies on the network based on the number of employees that are on LinkedIn. There are now 1.3+ billion connections between LinkedIn’s members and 79+ million job transitions/changes tracked on the network. As of January 2011, LinkedIn counts executives from all 2010 Fortune 500 companies as members; its hiring solutions were used by 69 of the Fortune 100 companies as of December 31, 2010.

Currently Headquartered in Mountain View, LinkedIn also has U.S. offices in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Omaha, Neb. International LinkedIn offices are located in Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Paris, Sydney, Toronto and Mumbai, India. LinkedIn started off 2011 with about 1,000 full-time employees located all around the globe, up from around 500 at the beginning of 2010. The Company’s valuation is estimated to be nearing 3 billion dollars.

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