Nick Summers

Stories by Nick Summers

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    Are Videogames More Than Just Fun and Games?

    Blowing a zombie's head off with a sniper rifle is one of life's simple pleasures. But is it art? Videogames have become a massive industry, bringing in tens of billions annually and occupying more than an hour of 8- to 18-year-olds' time each day, but the medium struggles for recognition.
  • Greene Threatens Sarah Palin as Worst Speaker in Politics

    Alvin Greene, the surprise Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina, has a way with words. It’s the way, though, of Sarah Palin and George W. Bush—a tortured relationship with the English language that prevents him from making his points, and that says to voters he may not be up to the job.
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    The Story About the Demise of New York City

    If you’ve been jonesing for a work of tragic reportage about the demise of an American city ever since The Wire went off the air, this is the book for you. It’s an exhaustively researched—and reargued—history of the fires that consumed New York in the late 1960s and ’70s.
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    AT&T Axes Unlimited-Data Plan

    Struggling to keep up with the pace of smart-phone adoption in the United States, AT&T announced that it will eliminate its unlimited-data plans for the devices and replace them with a two-tiered system.
  • Yahoo Tries to Avoid Google's Mistakes

    In February, Yahoo got to watch with schadenfreude as Google drove its new Buzz social network straight over a cliff with inadequate privacy controls. Now Yahoo has decided it wants to head for pretty much the same cliff, just with a slightly firmer grip on the wheel....
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    Could China Suicides Hurt Apple's Image?

    The spate of troubling suicides at Foxconn Technology Group, a major Chinese manufacturer of consumer electronics, presents a problem for companies like Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell—and their gleaming, precision-engineered reputations.
  • 'We Need to Train an Army of Ninja Cats': GOP Web Site Gets Punk'd

    When the GOP unveiled a new web site, 'America Speaking Out,' it promised to "change the way Congress works by proposing ideas for a new policy agenda." Visitors are invited to make their own suggestions in four broad categories. But all those visitors haven't been playing by the rules.
  • Stocks Open Sharply Down on Korean Tension

    Stocks across the globe opened dramatically lower today in response to North Korea's reported threat to take military action against South Korea, as well as deepening worries over the Bank of Spain's bailout of a major bank. ...
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    As Facebook Takes a Beating, a Brutal Movie Is Set to Make Things Much Worse

    On Oct. 1, The Social Network, an Aaron Sorkin–penned movie about the site's controversial founding, hits theaters. A draft screenplay circulating now is a brutal read. Based on Ben Mezrich's 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires, it portrays Zuckerberg as a borderline autistic, entirely ruthless conniver. Nothing sways public opinion like a movie—and this scorcher could counteract the entire body of good press Facebook has received till now.
  • Did Hewlett-Packard Pay Too Much, Too Little, or Just the Right Amount for Palm?

    Is $1.2 billion a lot or a little for Hewlett-Packard to pay for Palm? With the acquisition, HP gains an instant foothold in the mobile Internet market—but it ain't much of one. Palm's webOS devices aren't exactly where it's at in the mobile space. The Pre and Pixi have been well reviewed, but they've failed to catch on in the marketplace. They haven't captured consumers' hearts like the iPhone; they haven't become an indispensable business tool like the BlackBerry; and they haven't gotten anywhere in the great big middle of the market, like Android handsets have. The Pre simply hasn't been the resurrection Palm hoped for. Only 408,000 of the company's phones were sold last quarter.That's poor performance, until it's compared with HP's position, which was . . . none at all. The company that has pioneered ...
  • Twitter Begins Taking Ads From Starbucks, Best Buy, Virgin America—and You?

    Promoted Tweets launched because Twitter-friendly companies are worried that their updates are getting lost almost as soon as they're posted, amid the site's 50 million, and counting, tweets per day. But average users care about getting their "message" out too. While Starbucks may pay $1 million to have a "Free Frappucinos today!" tweet promoted to everyone who searches for "coffee," there may also be 1 million Twitterers willing to pay $1 each to have their own tweets promoted to their followers....
  • Kindle's Lame iPad Dis: 'Easy to Read, Even in Bright Sunlight'

     "Sweetie, I know you just dumped me for a guy with more money, bigger muscles, a faster car, and great hair. But remember, I, uh ... I have the complete collection of state quarters. That counts for something, right? Right?" On its home page, Amazon's ads for the Kindle—the grayscale, static screen, no-apps-or-Internet Kindle—are reduced to grasping at straws.
  • In Net Neutrality Ruling, the Bad Guys Win—for Now

    Net neutrality isn't a fair fight. It's an abstract issue concerning whether Internet service providers can treat different kinds of data in different ways, and to understand it, people mainly look to see who's on which side of the battle. That turns out to be, in the pro camp, innovative Internet companies like Google and Yahoo, who have playful logos and give you stuff for free, versus scary cable megaliths like Comcast, a.k.a. the guys who gouge you monthly and schedule installation appointments for eight-hour windows. It's the wide open future of the Internet versus roadblocks and toll-taking. There may not be a clearer good-guys/bad-guys fight in all of technologydom. There's a third player, too, a kind of white knight—the Federal Communications Commission's baby-faced new chairman, Julius Genachowski. A college and law-school chum of President Obama's, Genachowski has made net neutrality one of his signature issues, viewing it as a part of...
  • Newsweek Renews Its Love Affair With Tumblr

    Fishbowl NY has a nice and lengthy interview this week with Newsweek's Mark Coatney, the senior articles editor who helms the magazine's Tumblr blog. Writes Fishbowl: One of the first major publications to make its presence felt on ...
  • The New Rules of Business From 37signals

    It's the kind of outcome most entrepreneurs only dream of. Last September, the financial-planning startup Mint.com was acquired by Intuit for $170 million-earning its founder a reported $20 million. As the kudos poured in, another Web entrepreneur, Jason Fried, assailed Mint in a blog post for selling out to a corporation it could have taken down. "Is that the best [we] can do?" Fried wrote. "Become part of the old generation? How about kicking the s--t out of the old guys?"...
  • Opera Dares Apple to Reject Its Browser From the iTunes App Store

      On a desktop computer, your choice of browser says a lot. Using the copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer that came with your PC screams "novice"—even though recent versions of IE are much improved, the program is still a symbol of an Internet that was slow, buggy, and insecure. Switching to Chrome or Firefox or Safari says you're Web savvy, care about speed and security, and want complex web apps to perform at their best.On the iPhone, you have no such choice of browser. The device comes with a mobile version of Apple's Safari, and that's it. Pretty much everyone is fine with that—it's a functional and minimalist app that does an amazing job of squeezing full Web pages onto the iPhone's 3.5-inch screen. Now Opera Software, a Norwegian company that has long been an also-ran in the desktop browser wars (its market share is less than 3 percent), is trying to inject some competition in the mobile space. This week, Opera submitted a mobile version of...
  • In Google-China Fight, an Unstoppable Force Meets an Immovable Object

    China's decision today to block access to Google's search sites represents a dramatic, but perhaps inevitable, escalation in the conflict between the open search service and the closed government. (UPDATE 12:35 p.m.: Google spokesperson Christine Chen said in an email to NEWSWEEK that while the full site is not currently blocked, "certain sensitive queries" are. The special status page that Google set up to monitor the China situation will be updated soon, Chen said.)...
  • Facebook's All-Out Assault on Google's Numbers

    It's easy to get numbed by the traffic stats for Facebook: more than 400 million users, the average user spends 55 minutes a day on the site, 3 billion photo uploads per month. At some point the stratospheric numbers just start to run together. Maybe that's why seeing a new metric in visual form, via this chart from Hitwise, stopped me in my tracks:  The headline around the Web was that, for the first time, Facebook had eclipsed Google as the most-visited site in the U.S. for a full week. Previously, Facebook had hit No. 1 on a few big holidays, like Christmas and New Year's Day. That makes sense—everyone is home and uploading photos from that digital camera Santa left under the tree, or furiously untagging photos from the night before (respectively). But for the week ending March 13, the biggest holiday I could find was Registered Dietitian Day. It's clear from the chart above that Facebook's days of needing major events to eke past Google are over.This isn...
  • To Steal or Not to Steal?

    On March 18, 1990, two thieves stole $500 million in art from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—including works by Degas, Manet, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. None have been seen since (their frames hang empty). Art theft may sound glamorous, but such high-class crimes rarely pay.
  • Oscars Ad Hints at How Apple Will Position the iPad

    Last night's Oscars broadcast was interminable even by Oscars standards, but viewers who managed to stay awake were rewarded with Apple's first advertisement for its iPad tablet device. Since this is an Apple ad, no frame of this can go unexamined. Before you cry "Hype!", believe me when I say this level of attention to detail is warranted. Look, this is a company that reportedly refuses to display no-smoking signs in its United Kingdom stores—even though they are required by law—because they interfere with Apple's minimalist approach to decor. Jobs would rather pay the fine of £50 per store per day than allow anything to pollute the Apple experience.With that in mind, a few noteworthy things emerge from this debut ad, and they tell us how Apple is beginning to build gadget lust for this particular product. First, ignore the shiny toy and focus on the background. The point is: there is one. Instead of the stark white void in which all iPhone ads are based,...
  • Let's Talk About the 1995 NEWSWEEK Piece That Says the Internet Will Fail

    What's the most wrong you've ever been?I mean really wrong. Not, like, getting-the-capital-of-Illinois wrong. Not predicting-the-Mets-to-win-the-World-Series wrong. I am talking wrong wrong, a realm of inaccuracy known not even by Columbus (when he thought he'd reached the Indies) or the guys who thought New Coke was a good idea.What I'm saying is that there's wrong ... and then there’s Clifford Stoll’s NEWSWEEK essay about the Internet from 1995. Let's get this over with. Here is a list of things Stoll calls "baloney" on—each and every one of which has a thriving utility in 2010:telecommutinginteractive librariesmultimedia classroomselectronic town meetingsvirtual communitiestaking a computer to the beachgetting books and newspapers onlinee-commerce, online shopping, and e-paymentsbooking airline tickets and restaurant reservationscybersexStoll also complains at length that it is nigh on impossible to use this Internet contraption to find the...
  • 'Kneber' Attack Shows Extensive Vulnerability of Corporate Computer Networks

    Some 75,000 computers at 2,500 corporations around the world have been compromised by a botnet attack that has been in progress for more than a year, according to a Virginia-based security firm. NetWitness, which published the data on its Web site and whose findings were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, said that it first detected the scheme in late January, after its security software discovered a 75-gigabyte cache of stolen data....
  • Why Google Will Keep Playing Fast and Loose With Your Privacy

    In December, a delegation from Google visited the NEWSWEEK offices to make the case that the search giant was bullish on privacy. They touted recent decisions to reduce the length of time that Google stores users' search histories, new measures to anonymize data, and other considerations meant to improve users' peace of mind as they entrust the company with more and more of their personal information. Welcome changes, all. ...