From the Editors
Best in Blogs: NFL Refs and Nook Tablets Teach About Subs (or Not), Facebook Nukes Fake Friends, Holidays Keep the Net Safe
Just in time for spoiling only part of the current football season, the real referees are coming back. "Rejoice, NFL fans," says Deadspin. "After 48 regular season games that nearly brought the National Football League to its knees and turned the league's officiating into a recurring national joke, the NFL and the referees union have agreed to a new eight-year deal and the officials will be back on the job." Things were getting hairy, and the episode provides an abject lesson in when it's ok (and not) to accept substitutes. The inexperienced fill-in refs made mistakes early and often. Says Deadline Hollywood: "The officiating farce became a fiasco during Monday night's game between Seattle and Green Bay when 2 replacement refs standing side-by-side made opposite calls resulting in a Seattle win on a questionable touchdown." Daily Kos adds: "All it took was scab officiating that actually deteriorated to the point where a Las Vegas casino offered refunds on bets on Monday night's game." Talk about piling on. The recurring national joke part was handled ably by Jon Stewart, who noted that the labor dispute getting Americans upset "was not the Chicago teachers' strike. And not the riots at the Foxconn factory in China" but the football thing, as Mediaite reports. Jon and his non-brother Patrick Stewart did a sketch where Patrick pretended to be a sub for cast member John Oliver as the "senior replacement correspondent."
The hot-as-lava digital tablet war may teach us a different lesson on when substitutes are acceptable. Barnes & Noble this week unveiled the Nook HD and bigger Nook HD+ tablets, which are big leaps over the older Nooks. Says Geek.com: "In every way the Nook HD and HD+ are a significant upgrade over the Nook tablet, but more than that give Amazon some serious competition just weeks after the Kindle Fire HD was announced." Mashable adds: "Amazon shocked many with the $299 starting price for its 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, but Barnes & Noble beat it with the 9-inch Nook HD+ at $269. Of course, there's also the 800-pound tablet gorilla in the room: the iPad." Yes, in a reader survey at Mashable, more tableteers said they'd choose the iPad and Kindle Fire than the new Nook HD, but the newcomer did get support. Engadget has a hands-on review of the new Nook HD, noting it has no camera but the "highest resolution display on a 7-inch tablet," which "looks quite nice when you're watching one of those hi-res movies from the newly announced Nook Video." The new tab is sure to win some fans and market share - as a decent substitute for the reigning competitors - though Gizmodo wonders whether having the best display will be enough and concludes "well, maybe."
Some "Pages" on Facebook lost thousands of so-called fans this week (in FB lingo "Pages" are things you can like but not "friend") but this time it wasn't a horrendous security or privacy breach. Facebook is purging bogus user accounts, TechCrunch says, so those nonexistent people who pretended they liked things are headed back to the netherworld from whence they came. TC says the purge of fake accounts means fewer spam friend requests and comments, and a reduced risk of being scammed." Hey, Joan Jett sang it best: you've got nothing to lose when you lose fake friends. But repercussions of the fake-account scrub are being felt in the world of people who use bogus names as an innocent hobby. Among the purged were FB users using the last name "cosplay." ChicagoNow tries to explain: "Cosplay is short for 'costume play.' Cosplayers dress as characters from sci-fi, fantasy, video games, and more. Many cosplayers used alternate Facebook accounts to display their art... until now. Cosplayer Caleb A. lost '2 years' worth' of photos, memories, and friend connections. " Sob. There's such a fine line between pretending and faking. Over on Twitter, it's been reported that 27 percent of the top Twitter accounts' followers are fake, and fake celebrity accounts are popular. Laughspin reports that Twitter has suspended the account of someone who, for some ungodly reason, was pretending to be Bill Nye (the TV science guy). The account had 200,000 followers. But the 22-year-old genius pretending to be Bill Nye says: don't worry, he still has another dumb-ass Twitter account where "I write it from the perspective of a 15 year-old from Ecuador who only tweets about Dragonball Z." Wow. Can we just issue a blanket WTF for this whole section?
And lastly, it looks like holidays are good for something besides overeating: Internet security. Naked Security reports that on 2012 dates including Earth Day, Independence Day, and Mardi Gras, there were tremendous dips in the measured volume of website denial-of-service attacks. The theory is that people turned off home computers that have been hijacked to operate as attack bots. "If everyone turned off their computers each night, it might not just be good for the environment because of the lower levels of energy being consumed ... it could also mean a reduction in botnet attacks," the site says. In fact, why wait? Turn it off now.