Investigative journalist Nick Davies holds forth on the phone-hacking scandal at News of the World. Few things could cast the need for ethics into sharper relief.

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Why I Cancelled My Hulu Plus Account

Hulu Plus LogoUnlike a lot of people out there I’ve had my laptop hooked up to my TV for years. I’ve gone through a variety of ways to watch my favorite programs over that time and I must confess that Hulu Plus has left me cold.

I was very excited about a paid version of Hulu, not because I enjoy spending money but because I loved the idea of seamless integration with my iPhone and my Playstation 3 (which I mainly use as a media server) . Alas that integration is no where ready for prime time.

Hulu Plus is the paid version of Hulu. It’s two stated points of differentiation are being able to playback over multiple devices and access to full seasons of current shows. In my opinion it would be more than worth the $7.99 a month if the playback were smooth. It is not. Far from it in fact.

In almost two months of trying it out I was not able to watch a single thing without the video hanging up repeatedly. This was especially true when the commercials would come on. Personally I do not object to a few 15-30 second commercials in my programs, after all they do need to generate revenue to continue the service.

What I do object to is the fact that as often as not viewing gets held up, sometimes for over a minute at a time, as the commercial has problems loading. This was true on a number of devices:

  • PC running Vista, PC Running Win7 (tested in Firefox, Chrome, and Explorer on each one)
  • iPhone 4 running the current iOS
  • Playstation 3

If Hulu can get the bugs out of it I’ll happily resubscribe to the service, but at this point the interface is just not robust enough to charge for.

 is the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC

Image: Hulu Plus Logo / Fair Use: Reporting


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An Update

Our recent domain issues seem to be near resolution now. Hopefully SocialGumbo.com and SocialGumbo.net will be fixed and aimed back here. In the meantime please update your links and addressbooks by changing links from SocialGumbo.com to socialgumbo.com.

Thank you for your patience!

 is the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC


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Never Forget

HUrricane Katrina and the Failure of the New Orleans Levees

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K+4: The Day The Levees Failed

remember

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failwhalePeople all over the world experienced an outage the like of which we have not seen since the days the Fail Whale became a pop culture image. Twitter went down hard, no Fail Whale, no API access from third party services like HootSuite and Tweetdeck, nothing. Hours of nothing.

@djmatao LOL. Denial of Service attack caused millions of Twitter users to suddenly become — productive!

It seems the service, which has been growing at an astounding pace, was subject to a Denial-of-Service attack. Things seem to be back up as of now but word from twitter is that they are still fighting it. In an interesting note I’ve noticed that Facebook slowed to a crawl and Livejournal was completely inaccessible for and hour or two this morning as well. While there is nothing to link these events and no word of a DDOS attack from either company it still makes for a rough time in the social sphere. [Edit: Livejournal confirms DDOS attack. - Loki]

It does illustrate the persistence of early impressions. Twitter has had an amazing 98%+ uptime since its growth really started to balloon yet the spectre of the frequently sighted Fail Whale looms over it even yet. This is a DDOS attack, something completely different.

I cannot guarantee this will continue t work with the issues twitter is having, but here is a real time stream of tweets talking about “denial of service”:


Update:

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Fail Whale illustration by @yiyinglu

 


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shovelI’m sure many readers are already familiar with Digg, the socially promoted news website. I’m also sure that regular users of Twitter make up a significant number of those people as well. This post is for everyone, but most especially those in the crossover category.

You see, when you send a link over twitter you want it as short as possible. With only 140 characters to work with space is at an obvious premium. There are a variety of services, including Digg that provide URL shorteners. Bit.ly, Ow.ly, and TinyURL being a few others (I use ow.ly because it is integrated with HootSuite which is my preferred twitter management tool).

Not all link shorteners are alike, and Digg’s has just crossed a line as far as I am concerned. You see they have enacted what I see from a professional standpoint as a rather shady new wrinkle in the way their service works. You see if you are a non Digg user or a logged out Digg user following their short URLs drop you on a page within the Digg website rather than going to the link in question.

I’m sure this is capturing a lot of extra hits for Digg, but in a fashion that I find ethically questionable. Be aware that if you use Digg’s short URL’s you will be losing a large percentage of the incoming traffic those links should produce.

Mashable’s Pete Cashmore has a nice column about this which points out the fact that you may not always know when your favorite application is using Digg:

The move has many implications which are sure to irk Digg’s most valuable source of traffic and content: the publishers. Not only is Digg diverting traffic away from publisher sites, but many Twitter applications added Digg URL support on the assumption that Digg URLs would always work the same way as Bit.ly, TinyURL and the rest.

For instance, Tweetmeme, the service we use at Mashable to allow people to retweet posts, rotates through multiple URL shorteners including Digg. In some cases, people trying to share our stories will unknowingly be directing their followers to Digg instead of this site.

Updates to Cashmore’s original column include a twittered response from Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) where he says he was not aware of this due to being on vacation and will look into it. That response was made yesterday and as far as I know there has been no further news since.

I will say that I will not be using Digg or its services in the near future while I wait to see what happens. I certainly hope that Rose changes this practice, but only time will tell.

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unitedOnce upon a time there was a country artist named Dave Carroll who flew United Airlines while on tour with his band. You may have heard about this from his appearances afterwards o MSNBC among other places. He had a bad experience, and received bad service.  Then comes the twist: he wrote a song about it and the hits just keep coming. On YouTube that is…

The short form as taken From Mr. Carroll’s website:

In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise.

The complete story evokes images in my mind of my experiences dealing with FEMA . A deliberately designed runaround set up to frustrate people into giving up justified claims. It has that same feeling of corporate obfuscation that every American knows and dislikes.  Read all the gory details.

As a guitarist myself, although one lacking talent, this just made me cringe. What made me cringe even more was the lost opportunity. You see, if this had been handled well United would not be looking at three songs (dangerously infectious things, songs) about how much they suck.

Today everyone has the ability to make their opinions known about bad experiences. Thanks to social media these stories and reviews can reach an amazing number of people very, very rapidly. Imagine the expressions on the faces of United’s board of directors upon seeing this:

Then Taylor Guitars added a video in support of Carroll:


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