Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Morning Brief: Barnes & Noble announces its own newsstand for the iPad, to come; NYT profiles Anonymous hackers; the sad spectacle of U.S. politics

It's a bit hard sometimes to figure out what is in the mind of tech companies that announce products way in advance of their actual launch – which sometimes happens and sometimes not. I guess the temptation to yell "hey, lookee here, we're doing something, too" is just too strong.
Barnes & Noble yesterday fell into the same trap by announcing that "soon" iPad owners will be able to access newspapers and magazines from its NOOK newsstand on their iPads. I guess you'd call it a slap back at Apple which has forced retailers like B&N to strip out their direct buy links from their apps, making them dedicated reader apps rather than marketplaces.

“Millions of iOS device owners have downloaded our free NOOK apps, and with our upcoming NOOK for iPad update, our customers will have access to one of the largest digital collections of interactive magazines and top newspapers through a highly advanced, seamless reading experience,” said Jamie Iannone, President of Digital Products, Barnes & Noble in the company's announcement.

Now all they need is to actually update the app.

The New York Times today profiles those arrested in the Anonymous hacker episodes. The article is fairly depressing: those arrested are typically young, politically committed, and hardly what you would call hard core hackers.

One of those interviewed, Drew Phillips, said that when the FBI came knocking on his door his response was “What, did I download one too many movies?” Now Phillips is facing up to 15 years in jail for their activities which included hacking into the website Paypal in retaliation for the company cutting off donation processing for WikiLeaks.

One of those arrested, Keith Downey of Jacksonville, Fla., said “I need to set up a donation Web site for my legal expenses. I definitely will not use PayPal.”

So why exactly did the President take to the airwaves yesterday? His speech made him look weak the same way Rep. Boehner always looks orange. Obama pleads for compromise (again) while the opposition goes on its merry way.

In the end, no is now talking about higher taxes on the wealthy (they win again), Obama has offered up cuts that will effect the poor and the middle class, while the Republicans simply want a big club to strike at the President.

Politics has become like a new version of American Idol where all the contestants NOT chosen to appear on television are the ones on their screens; where the audience, no matter their political persuasion, get to laugh and throw things at those on television. Tell me this whole this whole thing wasn't thought up by someone in programming at Fox.