Breakfast Briefing: Anonymous in exile, pairing connections for maximum speed, Apple patent setback
Today in tech, we look at stories about Anonymous, Kickstarter, Apple, Google, comment threading, and infographic spam
To round off the week, we look at the case of Anon on the run (not starring Eric Idle or Robbie Coltrane), a Kickstarter project to double up on Wi-Fi speeds, another Apple patent spat, and how SEO spammers are behind online infographics.
Anon on the run
Ars Technica has a long piece telling the tale of Christopher Doyon, the self-styled "Commander X", the only known Anonymous affiliate to flee into exile from the US. It’s a bizarre tale of IRC chats and DDoS attacks, forest camps and grizzly bears, and it paints a rather confused picture of a storyteller who seems more in love with the ideals of activism than with the harsh realities.
"He is Supreme Commander of the PLF, scourge of tyrants, a voice for Anonymous, a man behind a mask, a cyber knight tilting his lance on behalf of the downtrodden — or he is a hyperbolic homeless hacker in love with the overwrought tones of his own press releases, a quote machine for journalists, a grown man playing at grand titles and in love with secret societies." You decide.
"Multiple connections, maximum speed"
Kickstarter has produced some tantalising products, and the latest is Connectify Dispatch - a piece of software that claims to let you "connect to multiple internet connections for their combined speed and reliability". By that we’re talking two Wi-Fi connections at once for double the speed - as long as you have two adapters - or maybe having a 3G dongle connected for instant back-up should your Wi-Fi go down.
It’s not a new concept, but we’ve not really seen anybody manage this kind of thing consistently and reliably, so you can colour us very interested. We’ve asked Connectify for a review code, so look out for our hands-on thoughts in the near future.
Jury finds Apple iPhone breaches three patents
Reuters reports that a jury has found that Apple's iPhone breaches three patents owned by a holding company called MobileMedia, although damages have yet to be determined. The patents, which include camera technology, were picked up by the holding company in 2010, which bought them from Nokia and Sony, who both own shares in the MobileMedia.
All sounds normal. "Our goal is really to license these patents broadly to the market," a spokesperson for the company said.
Google's mapping motivation
Google's mapping app for iPhone, launched yesterday, raised a few eyebrows as it appeared to help arch-rival Apple compete against Android and Motorola handsets. Wired, however, reports that Google's motivation was merely to get more people onto its services in a bid to sell ads, which is one reason the company implores iPhone users to sign in when using the service.
"Google doesn’t particularly care what operating system you use to view its ads or engage with its sites; it just wants to pull you in," Wired argued. "Google pumps money into Android mainly to ensure that companies like Apple and Microsoft can’t push its properties off of smartphones."
Losing the plot with threaded discussions
The way online discussions are organised is a topic that inspires surprising levels of fanaticism, with some preferring a simple linear historical timeline approach and others being fans of threaded replies nested with the original post they relate to – it's a dialogue impasse. Coding Horror has a well-argued piece on the drawbacks of threads, but ultimately concludes that they only can be useful in very small doses. The piece argues that one of the reasons Twitter, for example, works so well is that conversations are largely standalone, even if they relate to earlier topics.
"This idea that tweets – and thus, conversations – should be mostly standalone is not well understood, but it illustrates how Twitter got the original concept so fundamentally right," Coding Horror argues. "That's why it can get away with the terrible execution."
Infographic link to spammers
That clever infographic that's doing the round could be nothing more than a clever piece of SEO manipulation. A report by IT World reveals much about the underbelly of online SEO tactics and how some companies offer free infographics to blog as lead generators for companies wanting to sell their wares. The report investigated one organisation – OnlineSchools - behind impressively professional creations that are offered for free to bloggers if they link back to the company's site.
"The worst part is the site’s reason for existence: lead generation," IT World claims. "It exists solely to capture information about people who are in the market for online college degrees, and to sell that information to as many parties as possible."