Winamp presses stop

Growing up, Winamp was synonymous with digital music, though it eventually fell behind the pack. If you’re feeling nostalgic, Ars has an excellent article on Winamp that I highly recommend.

After 15 Years Of Whipping The Llama’s Ass, Winamp Shuts Down

Winamp is shutting down. The website and all of Winamp’s web services will shut down on December 20 and the desktop player will no longer be available for download.

Wikipedia battles PR company offering paid editing services on site

I totally advocate entrepreneurial efforts, but I don’t think that trying to undermine the integrity of Wikipedia is the right way to do it.

Wikipedia Sends Cease-And-Desist Letter to 300-Strong Sockpuppet Army

Wikipedia has been battling the sockpuppet army since 2012, when one editor discovered five editor accounts being used for fluffy, PR-type writing that is not supposed to appear on Wikipedia. More than 250 accounts, allegedly controlled by Wiki-PR, have since been deleted.

Wiki-PR charges between $500 and $1,000 to have articles written and then $50 a month for ongoing “page management” services.

Cupid Media Dating Website hack exposes 42 million plaintext passwords

With reports of security breaches becoming increasingly common, it’s pretty insane (and downright irresponsible) to store user passwords in plaintext.

On related security news, GitHub has also been resetting passwords for many user accounts as there has been a significant account hijack attack launched on the site.

Hack of Cupid Media dating website exposes 42 million plaintext passwords

The compromise of 42 million passwords makes the episode one of the bigger passcode breaches on record. Adding to the magnitude is the revelation the data was in plaintext, instead of a cryptographically hashed format that requires an investment of time, skill, and computing power to crack.

Gaming company fined for turning gaming machines into Bitcoin drones

With Bitcoin’s value fluctuating wildly, not to mention hitting some incredible highs, it’s not surprising that some engineers will decide that illegitimately mined Bitcoins are the way to go.

Gaming Company Fined $1M for Turning Customers Into Secret Bitcoin Army

E-Sports Entertainment Association (ESEA) — which lets serious CounterStrike players face each other down in anti-cheat modes — infected about 14,000 of its customers with the code, which ended up mining about 30 bitcoins over two weeks last spring.

Pencil by FiftyThree is a beautiful stylus

I already own a Wacom Bamboo and Adonit Jot and I’ve been drooling over the Adonit Jot Evernote edition stylus recently, but this is the stylus I want for Christmas.

Putting Pencil to Paper: FiftyThree debuts the best iPad stylus yet

Today, the company has finally thrown its hat in the ring with Pencil, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) stylus for tablets. FiftyThree’s first hardware device ships today in two models: walnut hardwood, for $59.95, and aluminum “graphite,” for $49.95. The walnut model has built-in magnets, like the Applydea Maglus, so you can stick it to an Apple Smart Cover, or to your fridge. Each Pencil also has an “eraser” on its top, so when you flip it over, Paper automatically activates its eraser tool. The device comes with an extra tip and eraser, and also ships with Paper’s full range of digital brushes, like the watercolor brush, which usually retail for $1.99 each (or $6.99 as a pack) inside the app.

Apple invests heavily in solar power

Environmentalists will love the fact that Apple is moving in this direction. While large companies like Facebook and Google are looking into it as well, not forgetting that Facebook is building a data center in Iowa that will be fully powered by wind energy, it’s good to see Apple take such an initiative.

Special report: Apple’s ground-breaking bet on its clean energy infrastructure, with exclusive photos

In an unprecedented move — and one that hasn’t yet been repeated by other companies — Apple spent millions of dollars building two massive solar panel farms and a large fuel cell farm near its data center. These projects and are now fully operational and similar facilities (owned by utilities) have cost in a range of $150 million to $200 million to build. Apple’s are the largest privately-owned clean energy facilities in the U.S. and more importantly, they represent an entirely new way for an internet company to source and think about power.

One of the quirky parks of this setup is how Apple is going to keep the grass trimmed nicely.

Apple manages the grass under the panels in a variety of ways, but one of those is a little more unusual. Apple works with a company that ropes in sheep that eat the grass on a portion of the solar farm; when the sheep finish grazing on one spot, they’re moved to the next.

It’s a more sustainable option than running gas-powered mowers across the farm, and also has the added benefit that sheep can get into smaller spaces and up close to the panels. Some companies use goats to eat grass on plots of land, but goats could chew on the farm’s wiring and solar panel parts.

New China reform plan to reinforce the Great Firewall

Wall Street Journal reports that China plans to tighten internet control.

“Following the increasing power of online media, Internet media and industry management has lagged far behind the quick changes that have come with its development. In particular [we] face the rapid growth of social networking and instant communication tools, like Weike and WeChat, which disseminate information rapidly, have a large influence and broad coverage, and have a strong ability to mobilize society,” the explanation in part reads.

The statement goes on to add “how [we] strengthen the legal system and public opinion guidance, guarantee the orderly spread of information online, national security, and social stability, has already become a real and prominent problem.”

Yahoo to join Google in encrypting traffic between data centers

Google has already moved to get this in place, so it’s not surprising that Yahoo is following suit. The good news is that Microsoft seems to have plans to encrypt traffic between its data centers too. The race for privacy is on.

Yahoo Will Follow Google In Encrypting Data Center Traffic, Customer Data Flow By Q1 ’14

The announcement today comes in the wake of Google making similar moves (which began last year). Google began encrypting the traffic between its data centers after the exposure of a joint NSA-GCHQ program known as MUSCULAR, which outlined a system in which it spliced itself into communications between the company’s servers to gather data on surveillance subjects. The MUSCULAR project also targeted Yahoo directly, as shown in government documents obtained by Edward Snowden and exposed by The Washington Post.

Steve Ballmer admits he was part of the problem at Microsoft

The Wall Street Journal interviews Steve Ballmer about his exit from Microsoft.

“Maybe I’m an emblem of an old era, and I have to move on,” the 57-year-old Mr. Ballmer says, pausing as his eyes well up. “As much as I love everything about what I’m doing,” he says, “the best way for Microsoft to enter a new era is a new leader who will accelerate change.”

Ballmer was not forced out according to the report.

The board’s beef was speed. The directors “didn’t push Steve to step down,” says Mr. Thompson, a longtime technology executive who heads the board’s CEO-search committee, “but we were pushing him damn hard to go faster.”

Investors, too, were pushing for transformation. “At this critical juncture, Wall Street wants new blood to bring fundamental change,” says Brent Thill, a longtime Microsoft analyst at UBS AG. “Steve was a phenomenal leader who racked up profits and market share in the commercial business, but the new CEO must innovate in areas Steve missed—phone, tablet, Internet services, even wearables.”

Ballmer was convinced that he had to change the company culture.

Qi Lu, an executive vice president, submitted a 56-page report on applications and services. Mr. Ballmer sent it back, insisting on just three pages—part of a new mandate to encourage the simplicity needed for collaboration. Mr. Lu says he retorted: “But you always want the data and detail!”

Mr. Ballmer says he started to realize he had trained managers to see the trees, not the forest, and that many weren’t going to take his new mandates to heart.

“At the end of the day, we need to break a pattern,” he says. “Face it: I’m a pattern.”

Ballmer decided to step down.

At the board’s June meeting in Bellevue, Wash., Mr. Ballmer says he told the directors: “While I would like to stay here a few more years, it doesn’t make sense for me to start the transformation and for someone else to come in during the middle.”

So far, this decision has been positive for Microsoft and Ballmer, whose Microsoft shares appreciated by $1.7 billion since announcing his retirement.

Michael Bloomberg shares how he got rich

Politicker writes about Michael Bloomberg’s secret to success.

“I’ve always said to my kids, ‘You have to like what you see in the mirror and you shouldn’t worry about what other people say,” said Mr. Bloomberg, returning to a favorite topic during an appearance this morning on his weekly WOR radio show with John Gambling

“Yes, you have to be nice and polite and there’s a common sense and a sensitivity. You don’t insult people and that sort of thing. But you’ve gotta do what you think is right … And in the end, I’ve always believed that is a formula for success,” he continued. “People say, ‘Oh, you know, you’re wealthy now, you have the luxury of saying things that you want to say.’ Um, how do you think I got wealthy? I really believe that.”

Steve Jobs springs to mind as someone who succeeded thinking the same way.