Archive for January, 2019

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone is currently, courtesy of the Israeli government and friends, visiting Israel. This is a first-hand account of his experiences and may — as a result — not fully comply with Wikinews’ neutrality policy. Please note this is a journalism experiment for Wikinews and put constructive criticism on the collaboration page.

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Dr. Yossi Vardi is known as Israel’s ‘Father of the Entrepreneur’, and he has many children in the form of technology companies he has helped to incubate in Tel Aviv‘s booming Internet sector. At the offices of Superna, one such company, he introduced a whirlwind of presentations from his baby incubators to a group of journalists. What stuck most in my head was when Vardi said, “What is important is not the technology, but the talent.” Perhaps because he repeated this after each young Internet entrepreneur showed us his or her latest creation under Vardi’s tutelage. I had a sense of déjà vu from this mantra. A casual reader of the newspapers during the boom will remember a glut of stories that could be called “The Rise of the Failure”; people whose technology companies had collapsed were suddenly hot commodities to start up new companies. This seemingly paradoxical thinking was talked about as new back then; but even Thomas Edison—the Father of Invention—is oft-quoted for saying, “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

Vardi’s focus on encouraging his brood of talent regardless of the practicalities stuck out to me because of a recent pair of “dueling studies” The New York Times has printed. These are the sort of studies that confuse parents on how to raise their kids. The first, by Carol Dweck at Stanford University, came to the conclusion that children who are not praised for their efforts, regardless of the outcome’s success, rarely attempt more challenging and complex pursuits. According to Dweck’s study, when a child knows that they will receive praise for being right instead of for tackling difficult problems, even if they fail, they will simply elect to take on easy tasks in which they are assured of finding the solution.

Only one month earlier the Times produced another story for parents to agonize over, this time based on a study from the Brookings Institution, entitled “Are Kids Getting Too Much Praise?” Unlike Dweck’s clinical study, Brookings drew conclusions from statistical data that could be influenced by a variety of factors (since there was no clinical control). The study found American kids are far more confident that they have done well than their Korean counterparts, even when the inverse is true. The Times adds in the words of a Harvard faculty psychologist who intoned, “Self-esteem is based on real accomplishments. It’s all about letting kids shine in a realistic way.” But this is not the first time the self-esteem generation’s proponents have been criticized.

Vardi clearly would find himself encouraged by Dweck’s study, though, based upon how often he seemed to ask us to keep our eyes on the people more than the products. That’s not to say he has not found his latest ICQ, though only time—and consumers—will tell.

For a Web 2.User like myself, I was most fascinated by Fixya, a site that, like Wikipedia, exists on the free work of people with knowledge. Fixya is a tech support site where people who are having problems with equipment ask a question and it is answered by registered “experts.” These experts are the equivalent of Wikipedia’s editors: they are self-ordained purveyors of solutions. But instead of solving a mystery of knowledge a reader has in their head, these experts solve a problem related to something you have bought and do not understand. From baby cribs to cellular phones, over 500,000 products are “supported” on Fixya’s website. The Fixya business model relies upon the good will of its experts to want to help other people through the ever-expanding world of consumer appliances. But it is different from Wikipedia in two important ways. First, Fixya is for-profit. The altruistic exchange of information is somewhat dampened by the knowledge that somebody, somewhere, is profiting from whatever you give. Second, with Wikipedia it is very easy for a person to type in a few sentences about a subject on an article about the Toshiba Satellite laptop, but to answer technical problems a person is experiencing seems like a different realm. But is it? “It’s a beautiful thing. People really want to help other people,” said the presenter, who marveled at the community that has already developed on Fixya. “Another difference from Wikipedia is that we have a premium content version of the site.” Their premium site is where they envision making their money. Customers with a problem will assign a dollar amount based upon how badly they need an answer to a question, and the expert-editors of Fixya will share in the payment for the resolved issue. Like Wikipedia, reputation is paramount to Fixya’s experts. Whereas Wikipedia editors are judged by how they are perceived in the Wiki community, the amount of barnstars they receive and by the value of their contributions, Fixya’s customers rate its experts based upon the usefulness of their advice. The site is currently working on offering extended warranties with some manufacturers, although it was not clear how that would work on a site that functioned on the work of any expert.

Another collaborative effort product presented to us was YouFig, which is software designed to allow a group of people to collaborate on work product. This is not a new idea, although may web-based products have generally fallen flat. The idea is that people who are working on a multi-media project can combine efforts to create a final product. They envision their initial market to be academia, but one could see the product stretching to fields such as law, where large litigation projects with high-level of collaboration on both document creation and media presentation; in business, where software aimed at product development has generally not lived up to its promises; and in the science and engineering fields, where multi-media collaboration is quickly becoming not only the norm, but a necessity.

For the popular consumer market, Superna, whose offices hosted our meeting, demonstrated their cost-saving vision for the Smart Home (SH). Current SH systems require a large, expensive server in order to coordinate all the electronic appliances in today’s air-conditioned, lit and entertainment-saturated house. Such coordinating servers can cost upwards of US$5,000, whereas Superna’s software can turn a US$1,000 hand-held tablet PC into household remote control.

There were a few start-ups where Vardi’s fatherly mentoring seemed more at play than long-term practical business modeling. In the hot market of WiFi products, WeFi is software that will allow groups of users, such as friends, share knowledge about the location of free Internet WiFi access, and also provide codes and keys for certain hot spots, with access provided only to the trusted users within a group. The mock-up that was shown to us had a Google Maps-esque city block that had green points to the known hot spots that are available either for free (such as those owned by good Samaritans who do not secure their WiFi access) or for pay, with access information provided for that location. I saw two long-term problems: first, WiMAX, which is able to provide Internet access to people for miles within its range. There is already discussion all over the Internet as to whether this technology will eventually make WiFi obsolete, negating the need to find “hot spots” for a group of friends. Taiwan is already testing an island-wide WiMAX project. The second problem is if good Samaritans are more easily located, instead of just happened-upon, how many will keep their WiFi access free? It has already become more difficult to find people willing to contribute to free Internet. Even in Tel Aviv, and elsewhere, I have come across several secure wireless users who named their network “Fuck Off” in an in-your-face message to freeloaders.

Another child of Vardi’s that the Brookings Institution might say was over-praised for self-esteem but lacking real accomplishment is AtlasCT, although reportedly Nokia offered to pay US$8.1 million for the software, which they turned down. It is again a map-based software that allows user-generated photographs to be uploaded to personalized street maps that they can share with friends, students, colleagues or whomever else wants to view a person’s slideshow from their vacation to Paris (“Dude, go to the icon over Boulevard Montmartre and you’ll see this girl I thought was hot outside the Hard Rock Cafe!”) Aside from the idea that many people probably have little interest in looking at the photo journey of someone they know (“You can see how I traced the steps of Jesus in the Galilee“), it is also easy to imagine Google coming out with its own freeware that would instantly trump this program. Although one can see an e-classroom in architecture employing such software to allow students to take a walking tour through Rome, its desirability may be limited.

Whether Vardi is a smart parent for his encouragement, or in fact propping up laggards, is something only time will tell him as he attempts to bring these products of his children to market. The look of awe that came across each company’s representative whenever he entered the room provided the answer to the question of Who’s your daddy?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Toll New Zealand has announced that it will keep the Overlander train service but on a reduced timetable, the service was initially due to stop service September 30. Toll said that they reached the decision because of the huge amount of public support the train service received, including a 16,000 person petition.

The Overlander will originally run for only three days a week; Friday, Saturday and Sunday during winter on the original timetable. But during summer through to autumn the service will run seven days a week. Toll hopes that this will cover all the needs of its patrons.

David Jackson, Toll NZ CEO, said: “We have had tremendous support from the regional councils and will consider an upgraded service option and offering alternate packages aimed at both domestic users and the tourist market.”

Jackson said: “The continuation of the Overlander allows Toll to look at other funding options. We want to explore options that may be open to us to achieve this with the support and input of various interested parties. We especially appreciate the support of the regions to assist with marketing.”

The decision comes days after the New Zealand Government announced that they will not provide financial assistance.

“Over the next few weeks we will be speaking to key people with the aim being of putting in place a clear plan for the positive development of the Overlander. Clearly it cannot remain in its current format so change will be fundamental for its survival. Reducing the services will allow us to perform refurbishments on the existing carriages and it [is] expected that this work will be completed by the start of the summer season.”

Sue Morris, district mayor for Ruapehu, said: “The decision to save the Overlander is a relief. It’s hugely important, it’s our future. We are relying on the train to continue for a tourist option here, we’re about toursim in the Ruapehu District, it’s about bringing 13,000 passengers here.”

The Manning Group has a proposal out for electro-diesel trains running two times a day and stopping eight times between Auckland and Wellington. Tom Manning said: “[I am] pleased Toll is looking at upgrading options for the Overlander and I am still open to working with the company to bring better trains to the network.”

Sunday, November 13, 2005

This article is part of the seriesAsia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2005

Complete Coverage

  • World Trade, Bird Flu to be discussed at 2005 APEC
  • More from APEC: EU not backing down
  • 20,000 South Koreans take to the streets to protest APEC
  • Farmers clash amidst high security at APEC summit in Sth Korea

20,000 labour activists in South Korea joined a union-organised protest in the streets of downtown Seoul on Sunday to express opposition to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum currently underway in the southeastern port city of Busan.

The APEC summit of Pacific Rim leaders will include US President George W. Bush. The two-day APEC summit, expected to bring together 21 regional leaders, opens officially on November 18 in the South Korean port city of Busan. The APEC agenda includes discussions on how to enhance global free trade.

Protesters’ placards declared “No Bush visit” and “No APEC”, demanding a revision of domestic labour laws to improve conditions for temporary workers. Police lined the protest route, using buses to block streets as protesters marched close to the US embassy and the presidential Blue House. City police officials said there were no reports of violence.

The rally was organised by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the second-largest labour organisation in South Korea.

“APEC is playing the vanguard role of spreading new liberalism in trade which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer,” said O Jong-Ryul, head of the People’s Action against APEC — another of the protest organising groups. The activists said APEC had become a tool for US multinationals seeking to expand their dominance in the world market “under the pretext of trade liberalization.”

The rally was held after the death of a South Korean farmer, who allegedly committed suicide on Friday morning to protest the free trade and opening of the South Korean agricultural market.

The rally cut off downtown traffic and caused severe congestion. No serious crashes were reported.

Some 80 protest leaders said they would organize regular street rallies throughout the week of APEC meetings. The KCTU intend to hold another rally in Busan on Thursday, in opposition to further trade liberalization and investment regulations.

Activists hope to bring 100,000 protestors into the streets to oppose the summit. They call on the government to provide all citizens with access to free medical care and education and to address the problem ofincreasing South Korean wealth disparity.

“We will fight aggressively at the national rally on November 18 against the Busan APEC Summit and open Busan International People Forum by gathering all Korean progressives including workers, farmers and students,” said a KCTU spokesperson.

Busan police said the rally would not disturb the meeting. “The police will also increase the number of personnel from some 7,000 to 22,000 and station more armored cars to prevent any violent protests,” an official said.

A spokesman for the port city of Busan, Steve Tang, said 37,000 officers from South Korea’s national intelligence service, police, military, fire service, coast guard and customs were on high alert for APEC.

The National Police Agency has banned nearly 1000 foreign activists from entering the country before the APEC summit, and is closely monitoring 350 activists. Further measures include a no-fly and no-vessel zone within a 7km radius of the APEC venue retreat.

The city’s police, have been on emergency duty since October 19.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

David S. Touretzky, prominent free speech activist and critic of Scientology, discussed his opinions on the recent Internet backlash against the Church of Scientology in an interview with former Scientologist and Wikinews reporter Nicholas Turnbull. The recent conflict on the Internet between critics of Scientology and the Church has been spurred on in declarations by a nebulous Internet entity using the name Anonymous that the Church of Scientology “will be destroyed”. Anonymous has directed recent protests at Scientology centres across the world, which have attracted significant numbers of individuals supporting the cause. In recent e-mail correspondence with Wikinews, a representative of the Church of Scientology declared that the Church considers the activities of Anonymous to be illegal, and that Anonymous “will be handled and stopped”.

Touretzky, a research professor in artificial intelligence and computational neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, has been a prominent critic of the Church of Scientology since mid-1995, and has been protesting against Scientology vociferously since then; he has also run websites that publish material that Scientology wishes to keep suppressed from the public eye, such as extracts from Scientology’s formerly-confidential Operating Thetan (OT) materials. Touretzky views the actions of the Church of Scientology as being “a threat to free speech”, and has endured harassment by the Church of Scientology for his activities.

The Church of Scientology continues to suffer damage to its public reputation through increased exposure on the Internet and vocal protests by Scientology critics such as Prof. Touretzky. A recent event that focused intense attention on Scientology’s totalitarian attitude was the leak of an internal Church of Scientology propaganda video to the Internet video sharing site YouTube, in which celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise spoke heavily in Scientology’s jargon and stated that that “we [Scientology] are the authorities” on resolving the difficulties of humanity. The declaration of war by Anonymous followed shortly after this leak, in the form of a video posted to the Internet.

The ongoing dispute, cast by some as Scientology versus the Internet, brought Scientology terms such as “SP” (Suppressive Person, an enemy of Scientology) and “KSW” (Keeping Scientology Working) into general usage by non-Scientologists from the late 1990s onwards; increased attention has been drawn to Scientology by the release of the Cruise video in addition to media coverage. This focus has caused an even greater propagation of these terms across the outside world, as Touretzky comments in the interview.

Wikinews asked Prof. Touretzky about the impact that the activities of Anonymous will have on Scientology, the public relations effect of the Tom Cruise video, the recent departure of individuals from the Church of Scientology’s executive management, the strategies that Anonymous will employ and Touretzky’s experiences of picketing the Church.

Victoria Wyndham on Another World and another life

Posted by: in Uncategorized

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Victoria Wyndham was one of the most seasoned and accomplished actresses in daytime soap opera television. She played Rachel Cory, the maven of Another World‘s fictional town, Bay City, from 1972 to 1999 when the show went off the air. Wyndham talks about how she was seen as the anchor of a show, and the political infighting to keep it on the air as NBC wanted to wrest control of the long-running soap from Procter & Gamble. Wyndham fought to keep it on the air, but eventually succumbed to the inevitable. She discusses life on the soap opera, and the seven years she spent wandering “in the woods” of Los Angeles seeking direction, now divorced from a character who had come to define her professional career. Happy, healthy and with a family she is proud of, Wyndham has found life after the death of Another World in painting and animals. Below is David Shankbone’s interview with the soap diva.


  • 1 Career and motherhood
  • 2 The politics behind the demise of Another World
  • 3 Wyndham’s efforts to save Another World
  • 4 The future of soap operas
  • 5 Wyndham’s career and making it as a creative
  • 6 Television’s lust for youth
  • 7 Her relationship today to the character Rachel Cory
  • 8 Wyndham on a higher power and the creative process
  • 9 After AW: Wyndham lost in California
  • 10 Wyndham discovers painting
  • 11 Wyndham on the state of the world
  • 12 Source

Florida man charged with stealing Wi-Fi

Posted by: in Uncategorized

Update since publication

This article mentions that Wi-Fi stands for “Wireless Fidelity”, although this is disputed.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

A Florida man is being charged with 3rd degree felony for logging into a private Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) Internet access point without permission. Benjamin Smith III, 41, is set for a pre-trial hearing this month in the first case of its kind in the United States.

This kind of activity occurs frequently, but often goes undetected by the owners of these wireless access points (WAPs). Unauthorized users range from casual Web browsers, to users sending e-mails, to users involved in pornography or even illegal endeavours.

According to Richard Dinon, owner of the WAP Smith allegedly broke into, Smith was using a laptop in an automobile while parked outside Dinon’s residence.

There are many steps an owner of one of these access points can take to secure them from outside users. Dinon reportedly knew how to take these steps, but had not bothered because his “neighbors are older.”

Wikinews Shorts: January 20, 2008

Posted by: in Uncategorized

A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, January 20, 2008.

Former Indonesian president Suharto, 86, is now moving and speaking softly, doctors say. He was admitted to Pertamina Hospital in Jakarta on January 4 after suffering multiple organ failure.

“He is fully conscious, he can follow instructions and answer our questions in a weak voice,” Dr. Jusuf Misbach said. “He scratched himself and raised his hands. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

Mardjo Soebiandono said that Suharto would be given physiotherapy, but he also stated that his condition is still considered critical.

According to doctors, Suharto’s blood pressure is now stable, his heart and lungs are functioning better, and infections are being treated with antibiotics.

Preparations for a state funeral had begun last week when Suharto developed pneumnonia and sepsis. He was given only a 50:50 chance of survival.

Related news

  • “Former Indonesian president, Suharto in critical condition” — Wikinews, January 5, 2008


Major power outages in Zimbabwe and Zambia left many without services such as electricity, water, and mobile phone connections for much of Saturday and Sunday.

The blackout reportedly hit the two nations almost simultaneously on Saturday evening. In Zambia, the power was restored eight hours later, but residents of Zimbabwe had to wait until Sunday afternoon for power.

Officials in Harare said the cause of the blackout was a fault that “tripped” the power grid, while some in Zambia blamed “turbine problems” at one of the country’s hydroelectric dams.

40% of Zimbabwe’s power is imported from neighboring countries like South Africa. As the power situation in South Africa has also been worsening, state utility company Eskom announced it will stop supplying power to Zimbabwe and other countries in order to meet domestic needs.


Francis Joyon of France completed his maritime journey around the globe in a 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes, and 6 seconds, breaking Ellen MacArthur‘s record by 2 weeks. He sailed the world’s oceans in a trimaran of his own making.

The journey began November 23 in the port of Brest. Joyon then sailed under the tip of Africa and across the Southern Hemisphere before making his way back to France.

MacArthur was there to greet him when he landed on shore. “I’m really happy for him, proud of him,” she said. “He was very fast, he played really well, and he really deserves this record.” MacArthur had previously beaten Joyon’s record in 2005.

“The speed part, the sailing passion part, that’s extraordinary. But what is the strongest of all is having precious moments when you can be in harmony with the planet, with the elements. That is what will stay with me,” Joyon said.

Related news

  • “Ellen Macarthur sets round the world solo sailing record” — Wikinews, February 7, 2005


Friday, December 30, 2005


  • 1 Richard Niyonsaba
  • 2 Denial of food
  • 3 Background and Criticisms
  • 4 Sources

The Australian Centre for Languages, a company which has a multi-million dollar contract with the Australian government to provide refugee services, has been accused of breaching its duty of care following the death of a chronically ill child and allegations of failing to provide three women in their care with food.

New Zealand Government to unbundle local loop

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Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The New Zealand Government has announced that it would require Telecom to unbundled the local loop to provide “faster and better broadband Internet services.” New Zealand used to be the only country in the OECD to have investigated unbundling the local loop and then rejected it. This means now that any Internet service provider in New Zealand can create their own plans / speeds for New Zealanders. The shock announcement, due to a leak of the plan to Telecom, saw the stock lose over NZ$2 billion over the New Zealand, Australian and American listings.

Wikinews Shorts: February 5, 2007

Posted by: in Uncategorized

A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, February 5, 2007.