IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 20 April
Stranded travellers turn to Twitter for help | Daily Mail won't charge for online news
The Irish Examiner says that Twitter is proving to be an invaluable information highway, intelligence database and agony aunt for those affected by the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. The micro-blogging site is helping people to get home, lending a sympathetic ear to stranded travellers, sharing technical aviation data and providing a real-time notice board with second-by-second updates on the volcano. Eurocontrol, an agency responsible for the coordination of European airspace, now has its own Twitter account, providing maps and regular updates on the ash cloud's progress. Heathrow Airport issued an apology to all customers via Twitter.
On a related note, the Irish Times says an online message sent by an Irishman seeking two people to share a taxi from Barcelona to Cherbourg ended up with over 50 people sharing a bus on Monday night. Aidan O'Connell from Cork was among hundreds of Irish people using social media to find alternative routes home as volcanic ash continued to paralyse air transport across Europe. He sent a tweet at 10am on Monday after organising a taxi to drive for 13 hours for his parents-in-law to catch the ferry in Cherbourg at lunchtime on Tuesday. "I put it on Twitter and within three or four minutes we got requests. We changed the cab to a 25-seater minibus and later to a 55-seater minibus."
Staying with news of the ash cloud, the Irish Independent reports that giant screens and Skype will be on standby at the Town Hall Theatre in Galway to ensure audiences will be able to hear and see their favourite international writers at this year's Cuirt Festival of Literature, even if flights remain grounded. Booker winners Roddy Doyle and Anne Enright will open the festival. Colum McCann and Joyce Carol Oates are due in Galway from the US in the next few days, while Debra Treisman, the fiction editor of The New Yorker, is also expected to travel to the literary festival. If anyone can't make it in person, facilities will be in place to allow them participate via Skype.
The Wall Street Journal says that attackers who breached Google's systems last year got access to the software code that authenticates users of Google's e-mail, calendar and other online programs, according to a source. This person said the attackers gained access to Google's computer code by compromising a workstation used by a Google engineer. Google, which disclosed the attacks in January, opted to shut down its censored search service in China following the incident. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the company's initial statement on the attacks, which said that some of the company's intellectual property was stolen and that it believed the attack originated from China.
In other news of Google, the paper also says that privacy officials from 10 countries have sent the internet giant a letter demanding that it build more privacy protections into its services. The letter was signed by officials in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the UK. The letter scolds Google for what it describes as a range of privacy abuses, from inadequate protections in its Buzz service to its procedures for retaining the images it gathers for Street View. A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the content of the letter saying, "We have discussed all these issues publicly many times before and have nothing to add to the letter."
According to the Financial Times, Chinese PC maker Lenovo is to launch its first smartphone next month, based on Google's Android operating system. Called LePhone, the device includes push e-mail. Lenovo executives said the gadget would come with hundreds of applications tailor-made for the Chinese market. "We are ready for a fight with the iPhone," said Liu Chuanzhi, Lenovo chairman.
The paper also says that Daily Mail & General Trust has told investors that it will not ask its readers to pay for general news content, but only for mobile access and "niche content". In direct opposition to the stance taken by Rupert Murdoch, who plans to charge for access to the Times and Sunday Times from June, Martin Clarke, publisher of Mail Digital, told investors: "Readers will not pay to consume general news on the web." Clarke said that while a paywall might make a little money, the company's advertising-based strategy would make a lot.
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