Tag: new york times

Tech reporting becomes more negative

A  new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) claims that tech reporting was not what it used to be and is now a lot more negative.

The report was based on textual analysis of 250 articles from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post from 1986 to 2013.

Generally the ITIF found that in the 1980s and 1990s, coverage of technology was largely positive, but this changed from the mid-1990s to 2013, when more negative reports covering the downside of technology, its failure to live up to its promises, and potential ill effects, started to appear.

The ITIF thinks that there has been a significant increase in the number of civil-society organisations and attention-seeking scholars focused on painting a threatening picture of technology. Another reason is that news organisations are under increased financial pressure, and thus, reporters may have less time and fewer resources to dig deep into technology issues.

“Since media outlets generate revenue from page views, they have an incentive to pursue alarmist stories that generate clicks.”

Daniel Castro, ITIF’s vice president and the report’s co-author, said: “The way the media portrays any given issue shapes public opinion about it, and that in turn shapes the course of policymaking. So, it is important to ensure that technology coverage airs diverse perspectives without giving any side more weight than is warranted. If technology reporting continues with the trend we’re seeing toward pessimistic — and in some cases technophobic — critiques, it will likely spur policymakers and the public to support even more unnecessary, unwarranted, or unwise policy interventions.”

That still does not explain why the US tech press has its nose firmly planted in the bottoms of key tech companies, particularly Apple. But then, I am just being negative.

Apple sells out key ally to the Chinese

tim-cook-apple-ceoWhile the New York Times has faithfully acted as Apple’s unpaid press office and sacrificed its credibility as a technology source, it seems that the fruity-cargo cult has sold it out at the first opportunity.

Apple has removed the New York Times news apps from its app store in China following a request from the Chinese authorities.

It purged both the English-language and Chinese-language apps from the iTunes store in China just before Christmas.

The request comes as the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s top internet regulatory body, has called for greater media scrutiny, citing fears of social disorder, moral harm and threats to national security.

New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Reuters that the request by the Chinese authorities to remove our apps is part of their wider attempt to prevent readers in China from accessing independent news coverage by The New York Times of that country.

It has asked Apple to reconsider its decision, after all Apple owes it more than a few favours. Apple claims that the app is in violation of local regulations, so  it does not matter how many glowing reviews the paper writes on the iPhone 7 it is not going to get into China.

The Chinese government has blocked The Times’ websites since 2012 when it actually did it job and ran a series of articles on the wealth amassed by the family of Wen Jiabao, who was then prime minister.

Ironically apps from CNN, The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, were still available in the app store.


Tame Apple Press bullying Samsung

back2thefutureone84Apple’s minions at its favourite tech magazines are wading into Samsung for being unable to identify the fault which sank the Note 7.

For those who came in late, Samsung stopped producing its Note 7 after a recall failed to stop the phones overheating.  Now Apple’s free PR units based at newspapers like the New York Times re wading in claiming that Samsung’s goods are dangerous because it could not identify the fault.

The Times coverage was deliberately “inflammatory” making shedloads of references to the phones “exploding” or “blowing up” when in the only cases where the fault appeared the phones melted.

But even while the Times was saying that, it had to admit that it was not that Samsung did not know what caused the problem, simply that it was refusing to tell anyone the cause. This is a slightly different issue.  One can imagine a whinging Apple fanboy hack talking to Samsung PR and threatening that if Samsung does not spill the beans he will write a story saying that Samsung does not know the cause of the overheating.

The Times went even further and suggested that no one should buy Samsung goods because they all might develop faults. That should teach them for stomping on Apple’s turf.

What is more likely is that Samsung does know the cause, and it is somewhat terminal for its design teams.

Phone Arena found some specs which were from the Korean safety body which examined the first phones to overheat. They found that the battery was too big and the thin design was pushing all the thin metal frame onto the battery. The second battery was smaller but the design was still pressing against it and so the problem had not gone away.

Samsung could not change the design or the battery and therefore had to recall the lot.

What is more surprising is that Phone Arena’s story has been ignored by the Tame Apple Press as it falls over itself to promote the iPhone 7 against all rivals.  It is true that Samsung did stuff up, the Note’s problems should have been spotted long before it got into the shops. When the first faults appeared it was logical to think that it was the oversized battery, but they should have checked the design was not a factor.

However, it is equally difficult to see how any phone maker could have done much that was different and it is certainly not fair that the Tame Apple Press are behaving like tossers.

Tsar Putin’s hackers take down US newspapers

putin gunHackers believed to be working for Tsar Putin have carried out a series of cyber breaches targeting reporters at The New York Times and other US news organisations.

The FBI has been looking at a number of similar intrusions and believe that Russian intelligence is likely behind the attacks. They appear to be part of a broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organisations.

US intelligence officials believe the picture emerging from the series of recent intrusions is that Russian spy agencies are using a wave of cyber-attacks, including against think-tanks in Washington, to gather intelligence from a broad array of non-governmental organizations.

News organisations are considered top targets because they can yield valuable intelligence on reporter contacts in the government, as well as communications and unpublished works with sensitive information.

There is concern that Tsar Putin is trying to game the US elections in favour of his chum Donald Trump. A lot of Trump’s business finance comes from Putin’s oligarch mates and the thinking is that Putin can see a few advantages in having a US president who owes him money.


New York Times pulls Paris encryption story

6a00d8341d417153ef010535fdd087970b-800wiFor a while now the New York Times has blotted its street cred by printing Apple adverts pretending they are news, but it appeared that when it did the same thing for government spooks, it got out of its depth rather fast.

Earlier this week it ran a story which claimed that the Paris attackers were able to get away with their diabolical deeds because they used encrypted communications which the government could not spy on.

The story was straight from the hymn book that government spooks and their right-wing government cronies have been chanting from for ages. Namely that to protect people from terrorists, government spooks need encryption keys.

However there was one problem with the story – it was untrue.

On Sunday, the Times published a story citing unidentified “European officials” who told the outlet the attackers coordinated their assault on the French capital via unspecified “encryption technology.”

The “Euro officials” said it was unclear whether the encryption was part of widely used communications tools, like WhatsApp, which the authorities have a hard time monitoring, or something more elaborate.

The story was pulled and all references to the word and now a second story replaces it with the word “encrypt” removed. Politico published a story Sunday quoting Belgium Interior Minister Jan Jambon naming PlayStation 4 as a difficult communication platform to “decrypt”. French authorities said they confiscated at least one of the video game consoles from one attacker’s belongings.

“’The most difficult communication between these terrorists is via PlayStation 4,”’ the minister said, three days before the terrorist attacks in Paris. ‘”It’s very, very difficult for our services — not only Belgian services but international services — to decrypt the communication that is done via PlayStation 4.’”

But the PS4 method of communication is not really encryption. It forces spooks to monitor in game conversations or coded methods like spelling words with dropped items or shooting walls. These are hard to monitor.

But what the New York Times and its ilk are unaware of is that there are moves afoot in the intelligence community to get the government to reverse its stance on mass surveillance using Paris as an excuse.

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said he suspects the Paris attacks will weigh heavily on the encryption fight.

“I think what we’re going to learn is that these guys are communicating via these encrypted apps, the commercial encryption, which is very difficult, if not impossible, for governments to break, and the producers of which don’t produce the keys necessary for law enforcement to read the encrypted messages,” Morell said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.

“We need to have a public debate about this,” he continued. “We have in a sense had a public debate — that debate was defined by Edward Snowden, and the concern about privacy. I think we’re now going to have another debate about that — it’s going to be defined by what happened in Paris.”

Amazon and New York Times in handbag scrap

rampage-black-friday-mainAmazon is having a handbags at dawn duel with the New York Times over a story it ran about how working for the online bookseller is a nightmare.

Two months ago the New York Times penned a yarn about Amazon’s workplace culture and  the tough work environment.

Amazon has been hitting back. Jay Carney, Amazon’s SVP of global corporate affairs, swung back at the newspaper and said it failed to adhere to journalistic standards, noting that the article in question relied heavily on anecdotes from former Amazon employees and didn’t provide enough context.

Carney specifically refuted the accounts of four employees who were quoted in the Times article. It appeared that he was prepared to get nasty too. For example one of the Times quoted employees, Bo Olson, resigned from Amazon after he was caught trying to defraud vendors.

The executive editor at the Times, Dean Baquet, swung his handbag back a few hours later saying that Carney merely challenged the four employees’ credibility, but did not dispute the article’s overall findings.

Carney didn’t try to argue that Amazon is a great place to work, nor did he repudiate the Times’s characterization of its workplace as “bruising.” He specifically took aim at a handful of employees who provided anecdotes to the Times under their real names.

Baquet pointed out that Olson denies any allegations of fraud.

NY Times sticks up for Apple's iPhone 5S

Apple is getting some great press from the New York Times defending its iPhone 5S.

With signs that the “budget” iPhone 5C is not going to do so well, Apple is pinning its hopes on the “flagship” 5S launch.  Sure, Apple has managed to get a queue started outside some of its stores for the 5S, but it is being populated by the usual hardcore Apple nutjobs who would queue for the opening of an envelope if it had an Apple stamp on it. 

A source at a US wireless carrier told Reuters that the level of inventory Apple has said it would provide for the 5S and 5C on launch day and in the week after launch is very disappointing.  The idea is that Apple is hoping to create the impression of a sell-out by only sending out fewer phones.  The Reuters source said pre-orders are “not overwhelming” either.

Part of the problem is that there is no compelling reason to pay over the odds for either of the phones. The 5S has a fingerprint reader on board as its “killer app” but this has been lampooned as pointless and actually a pretty bad idea for keeping biometric data private.

Faced with this disaster in the making, the NY Times’ David Pogue has defend Apple’s latest gadget. 

Pogue wrote, speaking about the fingerprint reader: the “best part is that it actually works – every single time, in my tests. It’s nothing like the balky, infuriating fingerprint-reader efforts of earlier cellphones. It’s genuinely awesome; the haters can go jump off a pier”.

So in his expert technical opinion the finger printer reader works, which is encouraging, and if you don’t like it you can kill yourself. 

“It’s a terrific phone. The price is right. It will sell like hot cakes; the new iPhones go on sale Friday,” he said.   

He wrote that while competitors include phones that are equally beautiful and can take spoken commands without your having to press a button, that doesn’t mean the iPhones have been overtaken.

“The iPhone’s ecosystem is a deal-sweetening perk — the best apps; the best-stocked online stores for music and movies; smooth synchronizing of your calendars, addresses and even photos among Apple phones, tablets and Macs; and enough cases and accessories to reach from the landfill to the moon,” Pogue wrote.

All this contrasts nicely with the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg. Mossberg wrote a generally favourable review calling the fingerprint reader simple and reliable. But he noted that the gadget would inexplicably prompt him for a password when swiping a finger to make purchases, which he blamed on a bug.  Clearly this was not a bug seen by Pogue, who would presumably tell Mossberg to kill himself over that remark.

Mossberg reminded Apple fanboys that if they owned the iPhone 5 they had absolutely no reason to buy the iPhone 5S unless they specifically wanted the fingerprint reader. Who, other than David Pogue, would want that?

Intel profits fall as convergence hits PC sales

Wall Street drew a deep breath, and muttered to its collective self when Intel announced that its profits were down 27 percent in the last quarter yesterday evening.

No one expected good news from Intel’s results and everyone had been expecting a dismal fourth quarter.

The company reported  a net income of $2.5 billion, down 27 percent from $3.4 billion, a year earlier. Revenue fell three percent to $13.5 billion from $13.9 billion.

Of course, the New York Times  blamed Intel’s poorer showing on the fact that Apple had killed the PC with its glorious, and mythical mobile revolution. It pinned this view on the fact that the Intel CEO cryptically said that the PC business was evolving and form factors are going to blur.

In fact it is more likely to be the poor economic situation in the key business regions of Europe and North America. The PC technology has not changed much so companies have saved cash by not upgrading.

Intel’s figures were not that bad considering. Net income was higher than analysts expected.

What worried them was that Intel projected lower revenue and pressure on its profit margins for 2013. Many hoped that Intel would say that it expected things to get better.

In the last six months, shares of Intel have fallen about 18 percent.

Intel said it would spend $18.9 billion on research and development, along with marketing and administrative costs, in 2013. This is a significant increase, as two years ago Intel spent $16 billion on those things, increasing that amount to $18.2 billion last year.

This seems to suggest that its strategy is to come up with new products to wow the market.

What is interesting is that Intel’s figures did not appear to have been improved by Microsoft’s release of Windows 8. This is because the software adoption did not require the purchase of new machines. In fact Otellini did not even mention Windows 8, but given responses from retailers to our sister publication Channel Eye we were not surprised.

Otellini talked up Ultrabooks, saying that there were now 140 types of the lightweight laptops on the market. He said that the number of styles and different ways they use things like keyboards and touch screens, he said, would make it harder to tell a PC from a tablet.

This year Intel will introduce a new chip, Haswell, which will help in the production of lightweight machines that have longer battery life.

Intel continued to make money on its server chips, particularly for those in data centres. Fourth-quarter sales to data centres were $2.8 billion, an increase of four percent from a year earlier, Otellini said. 

New York Times drops BlackBerry app

The New York Times has decided that shunting its content to RIM users is a waste of time.

Despite the Times’ obsession with Apple, it had produced an official app for BlackBerry users can no longer use the official New York Times app to read news stories over their devices.

The move is being seen as more proof that Research In Motion is doomed as a the smartphone once considered the main tool for business people.

It pulled the app along with one for the Palm Pre so it shows how much importance it places on RIM readers.

New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Reuters that the usage of the RIM app had dropped.

She said the company has not ruled out developing an app for devices that will run on RIM’s BlackBerry 10 which is due out early next year.

It is possible that the number of RIM users is declining, as the company failed to move to its BlackBerry 10 fast enough and is flogging comparatively elderly technology.

However we are talking about the New York Times, which often acts as Apple’s unpaid press office so it is hard to see if there were many RIM based readers there in the first place.

BlackBerry users can still read the New York Times over their phones via the newspaper’s website so it is not clear why they would want an app anyway. The New York Times website admits that its mobile website offers “a more complete New York Times experience” than the NYTimes native app anyway. 

Finance hacks read from same book of phrases

Keep at least one eye open for the financial pages of the FT, the New York Times and the BBC, University College Dublin, because if they go low on verbs and nouns you can expect a stock market bubble.

As part of his Computer Science MSc at the university, Aaron Gerow ran 18,000 online posts from the news outlets through computers for closer analysis. He found that verbs and nouns from the finance reporters “converge in a herd-like fashion” just before a stock market bubble. Then, when it’s over, the words resemble Scotch Mist and disperse.

Professor Mark Keane, who was involved in the project, examined three top stock markets.

Looking at the DJI, the NIKKEI-225 and the FTSE-100, researchers noticed that writing trends tend to correlate closely with the indices. 

In other words, it means financial hacks leaf through the same book of phrases: each of the papers repeating phrases independently of each other like “stocks rose again,” “scaled new heights” or “soared”. 

Pre-2007 stock crash the papers were full of the phrases.  Keane says in a statement the phrases “also appear to refer to a smaller-than-usual set of market events – presumably because of an increased fixation on a number of rapidly rising stocks.”

The official terminology for the trends is what Keane calls “verb convergence” and “noun convergence”. Basically, it pin points when financial journalists are agreeing with each other through their use of language.

Keane tells TechEye: “The most common verb phrase in positive language are ones about stocks rising or indices rising.  

“In negative instances, phrases using fall are most common; expect where the fall is a good one for example, inflation.

“Obviously, the verb would be used with a particular stock name or specific index. “