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Today in Tech News Digest, Flappy Bird is no more, Edward Snowden’s methods are revealed, the Moon may be mined, EA’s decidedly dodgy Dungeon Keeper ratings system is exposed, Pinterest updates its mobile website, and Shingy the Digital Prophet is a hit.
Flappy Bird Flies The Coop
Installed Flappy Bird last week. Died repeatedly. Deleted same day. Now feeling remarkably prescient AND smug. #nailedit
— dwight silverman (@dsilverman) February 10, 2014
Flappy Bird is no longer available to download, with the game’s creator Dong Nguyen deciding to pull the game from the iOS and Android app stores. Flappy Bird was released back in May 2013, but gained notoriety after being featured on a popular YouTube channel and consequently shared on social networking sites.
By the end of January Flappy Bird was a mainstream hit sitting atop the free game charts on iTunes and Google Play. By the time Nguyen removed the game on Sunday (Feb 9), it had been downloaded by more than 50 million people. Those who hadn’t yet succumbed to the lure of this maddeningly difficult game have now missed the opportunity to ever experience it.
The reason behind the removal of Flappy Bird remains mystifyingly unclear. In a series of tweets, Nguyen explained that he “cannot take this anymore,” but denied it was due to “legal issues.” He also refused to sell the game to interested parties, but promised to “still make games.” Flappy Bird is thought to have been bringing in $50k a day in advertising revenues, making this decision absolutely bewildering.
Snowden Used A Web Crawler At NSA
officials “familiar with investigation” say Edward Snowden used a web crawler to collect millions of docs unchallenged. #awesomesecurity
— Sean Gallagher (@thepacketrat) February 9, 2014
The trove of secret documents stolen by Edward Snowden when he worked at the NSA have revealed shocking levels of spying being conducted on ordinary members of the public. And it has now been revealed that he grabbed this treasure trove of information using nothing more sophisticated than a run-of-the-mill “Web crawler“ similar to Googlebot.
The crawler works by scouring the Web for particular search phrases, following link after link until it gets to the good stuff. This calls into question the NSA’s own security measures, especially as this is the organization in charge of preventing classified information falling into the hands of foreign agencies and individuals. Then again, they’re unlikely to be actually in the building as Snowden was.
Private Companies Want To Mine The Moon
— CJ Adapon (@mynameiscaaaarl) February 10, 2014
Private companies could soon be mining the Moon to “prospect for and utilize” its resources. And NASA is keen to offer its expertise and experience to these commercial ventures. This sounds like a well-worn plot from any number of sci-fi movies, all of which end badly for humanity, but the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown program (CATALYST) is real and happening.
While individual countries cannot lay claim to the Moon thanks to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the United Nations, private organizations could conceivably do so in pursuit of the rare substances thought to be in abundance on Earth’s satellite companion. Which is a rather unsettling thought for anyone but the greediest of individuals.
EA Fixes Dungeon Keeper Ratings
EA stands accused of trying to game the system by only allowing positive ratings for Dungeon Keeper to appear on Google Play. When the Android version of Dungeon Keeper asks players to rate the game, it gives them two options: ‘1-4 Stars‘ and ‘5 Stars‘. Clicking ‘5 Stars‘ takes players to Google Play, but clicking ‘1-4 Stars‘ takes players to a submission form that goes straight to EA.
The company has tried to defend this system, but the lies fed to Polygon aren’t exactly convincing. EA isn’t exactly well-regarded amongst gamers, winning the “Worst Company In America” accolade twice in a row, and continually failing to deliver the experience gamers deserve and expect. Dungeon Keeper may be a free-to-play title, but that doesn’t excuse this behavior.
Pinterest Updates Mobile Website
The worst thing about Pinterest is that you plan your entire wedding and then realize ‘OMG I’M EIGHTEEN WHAT AM I DOING.’ #pinterestprobs
— Rachel (@rachelerinkarl) February 10, 2014
Pinterest has given its mobile website a fresh lick of paint, bringing a cleaner look to and many of the features previously limited to the full site. The company suggests that the makeover means it doesn’t matter if you have the dedicated Pinterest apps or not, though that would obviously be preferable. This redesign comes hot on the heels of the news that its mobile apps account for 75% of Pinterest usage.
Shingy Is ‘Digital Prophet’ At AOL
And finally, some guy called Shingy has become a minor celebrity over the weekend, as news of his existence spreads across the Internet like a virus. His real name is David Shing, and he’s the “Digital Prophet” for AOL. That’s his official job title. No, seriously.
We don’t need to waste too many words talking about this strange little man with a made-up job at the dinosaur that is AOL, because Valleywag has done so already. Reading it should make you feel better about your own job, which, regardless of how unsatisfying it may be, is a lot more worthwhile than this guy’s job.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.
Image Credit: Eduardo Fonseca