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Readers unsubscribing from r/news after Reddit drama following terrorist attack

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Reddit drama is a popular topic on this blog. With so much content being produced every day, sites like Reddit and Digg helped filter and verify relevant stories. Dubbed “the front page of the internet”, scanning the top stories of Reddit gave readers a glimpse of what was really popular around the web.

So it was something of a surprise when waking up this morning, and hearing of the terrible attack in Orlando, that there was little mention of the event on Reddit’s top news section. In fact the moderators of r/news seemed to be deleting posts and comments at an alarming rate. Other sub-reddits on the site picked up the slack, and discussions surrounding this tragedy were had on less than appropriate political and reaction forums.

Officially, this censorship was enacted to help focus discussion on the one major post used to consolidate discussion. This might have been understandable, as when news breaks like this, one would imagine a popular sub-reddit would be inundated with submissions. On a top post, the moderators of r/news claimed they were being brigaded by other communities seeking to spread an agenda of conflict with hate speech comments and posts.

/r/news was brigaded by multiple subreddits shortly after the news broke. This resulted in threads being filled with hate speech, vitriol, and vote manipulation.

We did a poor job reacting to the brigades and ultimately chose to lock several threads and then consolidate other big threads into a megathread.

Brigades are still underway and there is still a lot of hate speech prevalent in the threads.

While there were absolutely some less than civil comments being submitted, it’s somewhat disturbing to see a “kill it with fire” approach to post moderation. Eliminating all mentions of the shooters affiliation with terrorist organizations, and even disrupting discussions where folks were sharing information on emergency responses and pleas for blood donations.

Yet again we see the problems inherent to a business model which depends heavily on volunteer labor. Moderators of a news forum totaling almost 9 million subscribers are not paid. Building a small fiefdom, we see that either those individuals in charge are easily co-opted by outside interests, or are in a position of power where they can easily run an agenda. Adding gas to this fire, when questioned about these policies, one moderator for r/news not-so-helpfully suggested that a person seeking an explanation to this censorship should “kill yourself”.

I6duX4rIt would seem that posting about blood donations or questioning the mods is hate speech, but this moderator’s response to the situation has garnered no public disciplinary reaction.

These situations have become a bit more frequent of late for Reddit. We saw similar policing of content following the New Years Eve sexual assaults in Germany. The official response claiming protections against hate speech, yet using tools to recover banned and deleted comments finding little evidence for such draconian moderation.

In the wake of this story, a number of smaller “news” sub-reddits have been created to spread information, and in response to the initial backlash, r/news has reversed some of its policy on banning stories. Still, its not surprising to see the subscriber base for r/news slowly eroding. Over the time its taken to write this editorial, we’ve seen roughly 2500 people remove r/news from their feeds. That still puts r/news at around 8.9 million followers, but this debacle has certainly delivered all of Reddit a black eye.

If you can’t find relevant news on “the front page of the internet”, what is Reddit good for?

 

DirecTV Introduces BYO Internet Content Streaming Later this Year

directv logoThe future of multimedia is becoming more fluid. Consumers seek to stream content to any screen, at any time, anywhere they want.
With AT&T and DirecTV joining forces, it would make sense that the content offered through a satellite TV company would eventually find its way to home internet and mobile streaming devices.
Three new options will be delivered to subscribers later this year, and all three options are internet service agnostic. Regardless of carrier or ISP, media will be accessible to TVs, computers, phones, and tablets. The most basic option will be ad supported with limited content options, but higher tier plans (dubbed affordable by DirecTV reps) will allow for more access and content mobility. h
“We are looking at these offerings differently than others in the market. We often hear from customers who want more content from streaming services, or who can’t get or can’t afford a traditional pay-TV service,” said John Stankey, CEO – AT&T Entertainment Group.
Pricing and availability will be announced later this year. Full details on specific plan options in the press release below.

Continue reading DirecTV Introduces BYO Internet Content Streaming Later this Year

AT&T Revives Unlimited Data for AT&T TV Subscribers

ATT logoAs we’ve seen another carrier struggle recently with unlimited video streaming, and the Net Neutrality implications of throttling or degrading performance for network stability, AT&T looks to be returning to a business model consumers will understand easily: Unlimited Data.

Of course there’s a small catch. Unlimited data plans will be offered as part of a bundled service with AT&T TV (formerly DirecTV).

Earlier this week, Big Blue took the wraps off of their new Unlimted plan for DirecTV, AT&T TV, or U-Verse TV subscribers. They’ll pay $100 a month for the first phone, additional phone lines will cost $40, and the fourth phone line will be free.

It’s an exciting move. Instead of cherry picking a handful of individual services or apps, a fully bundled AT&T customer will have few restrictions on streaming any content they desire. As of now, the only limit appears to be a vaguely worded footnote that at 22GB of usage in a month “reduced speeds may apply”. How that might be enforced is still unseen, but it’s a fairly healthy chunk of mobile data for folks looking to move up from plan that often start users off around 10GB per month.

You can read the full AT&T press release below.

Continue reading AT&T Revives Unlimited Data for AT&T TV Subscribers

What a $600 Oculus Rift Means for the Future of Virtual Reality

Back in October of 2015, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey responded to rumors that Rift would cost $350. To help mitigate any potential pricing backlash, Luckey told reporters that their VR headset would cost more than $350, but would be roughly in that ballpark.

Now that Rift is available for pre-order we know what that ballpark is. It’s $599 before taxes, shipping, and it includes and XBOX controller, but not the Touch tracking controller. We can be fairly certain that most people weren’t expecting this price point when we were told that $350 was too low but in the ballpark, and the Reddit Oculus and VR subreddits are awash with angry members decrying the headset as too expensive.

Screenshot (8)Sticker Shock

I’ve never much been a fan of how gadgets are valued online. I find the discussion pretty toxic when geeks try and grade something as being “worth it”. The second that phrase pops up, you can almost always find a radical justification for why someone isn’t going to buy a product.

I would buy this bleeding edge piece of technology if it instantly came with one hundred games, did my dishes, had month long battery life, and only cost $17 and a half a ham sandwich. Then it would be worth it for the monies.

While the above is an exaggeration, the tone of this kind of commentary often lands just shy of “a company failed me by making a product too expensive for me, so I will punish them by not buying said product”. I think it’s a defense mechanism. It’s not that the individual is cheap, or they can’t afford it, they would totally buy the thing IF it were worth it. Totally…
Continue reading What a $600 Oculus Rift Means for the Future of Virtual Reality

Lenovo Intros Thinkpad X1 YOGA with OLED Screen

Lenovo has been a longtime champion of multi-mode computing for Windows portables, and their Yoga line is their most visible product demonstrating a mix of laptop and tablet features.

Unveiling a new Thinkpad at CES, the X1 Yoga builds on their history of ultra-thin laptops, while adding their signature 360 degree screen hinge, and featuring the first OLED display in a convertible computer. I’ve been a long time fan of OLED displays on phones, as you get intense contrast, inky blacks, and vibrant colors. Happily at this 13″ screen size, the X1 Yoga will be arriving with a Quad HD screen, a resolution of 2560 x 1440.

Expect business grade build quality, powered by an Intel Core (up to i7 vPro) with options for up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage when it’s released later this year.

New Year, New You Contest: Fitness Accessories Giveaway! FitBit Charge and LG Tone Active Headphones!

Let’s work together to make our New Year’s resolutions happen! I’m giving away a FitBit Charge, an LG Tone Active BT Headset, and a CoolGear beverage infuser courtesy of my pals at AT&T! Check out the contest widget below for more details on how you can win some cool gear to get your 2016 started off right!

somegadgetguy new year new you contest 2016 fitbit charge lg tone active bt headphones att

New Year, New You Contest: Fitness Accessories Giveaway! FitBit Charge and LG Tone Active Headphones!

Happy Holidays from SomeGadgetGuy

For those of you waking up to a bevvy of gadgets and gizmos under the tree, I hope you got EXACTLY the glowing rectangle you’ve been wanting. And for all my readers, this holiday season, my hope for you is that you are safe, warm, well fed, and spending time with people you care about.

Happy Holidays!

Tag Heuer Ramps Production to Meet Luxury SmartWatch Demand

Was a high price tag the critical component missing from Google’s Android Wear sales strategy? If recent reports from Tag Heuer are any indication, apparently consumers were concerned that these new wearable tech pieces weren’t expensive enough.

Bloomberg is reporting that the Louis Vuitton owned brand completely underestimated the demand for their new Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch, which is clad in Titanium and Sapphire and powered by Google’s OS. It’s a sexy watch body and a rubber strap with a price tag starting at $1500. It’s aiming above the mid-range pricing for Apple’s steel and sapphire smartwatch.

We’ve seen a number of tech companies trying to solve the fashion problem of strapping tech to your wrist. Offerings from LG, Huawei, and Motorola have failed to find significant traction beyond the tech fans already buying into the Android ecosystem however.

The thing we geeks never seem to understand though, is the idea of style which a consumer might be willing to pay more for. Apple is one of the few tech companies managing this transition from “Geek” to “Chic” as they morph into a lifestyle brand. The Apple Watch was years late to the smartwatch game, but easily overtook the market in its first year of existence.

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We geeks might rant about the technology in competing watches being overly similar when comparing processors and screen resolution. If two gadgets have the same guts, shouldn’t they have the same price? I’ve gotten into visceral arguments with people using that argument, dogmatically ignoring things like build quality. Sure, two tablets might have the same processor, RAM, and storage. Though when one tablet is made out of plastic, and another is made out of injection molded magnesium, we should expect a price difference.

Again, we see this toxic “worth it” discussion coming from the techies. “It doesn’t do enough for the price.” “It’s not worth it for the monies.” “I would buy it if it magically read my mind, did my dishes, walked my dog, and only cost a half a ham sandwich.”

Watches though aren’t really technology products anymore. They used to serve a very practical purpose, at a glance delivery of the time, but now are fashion statements. No amount of functionality will convince someone to strap one on if it clashes with their sense of style. In this day and age, the label on the product often helps define what that style is.

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Tag Heuer expected production of 1200 watches a week would be sufficient to meet demand. They’re so far behind that even after ramping up production to 2000 units a week, they don’t expect that they’ll be able to re-open online sales until May or June of 2016. It’s overly cynical to suggest that people just waited until they had a higher price tag to throw money at a product. When showing off an expensive fashion product, the Tag Heuer name carries a lot more recognition from peers than the Huawei name. That kind of “exclusivity” isn’t particularly valued by people looking to make a statement.

Fitness trackers are flourishing, people understand their function, it’s hip to be improving your health, and people can overlook the gym style as there’s no expectation that you’ll wear a Fitbit with a pair of slacks or a suit.

Did Android Wear just need the name? Does the Louis Vuitton company have the reputation to start carving out a more legitimate niche for wearables?