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February 13, 2013

This Week's Issue: A Close Council Race in Burlington; Privacy Concerns Over License Plate Readers

021313coverGrab a bottle of your favorite spring water and sit down with this week's print or digital edition of Seven Days, featuring these news and politics stories...

Read it all on the new Seven Days app for iPad and iPhone.

February 04, 2013

Vermont Video Game Developers Look to Legislature for Support

Photo (73)Political gamesmanship is common at the Statehouse, but on Wednesday, legislators played games of a different kind. That afternoon, a group of local video game developers set up their iPads and gaming consoles in Room 11, and invited lawmakers to stop by and play. 

It took some convincing — more than one onlooker muttered comments along the lines of "I don't play these things but my kids and grandkids do" — but eventually some of them got in the game.

Montpelier Mayor John Hollar took a turn at Swamp Talk, a word game developed by Montpelier-based programmer Chris Hancock. Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) learned the finer points of Overflow from Zach Bohn of Birnam Wood Studios. And Montpelier voice-over artist Jackie Weyrauch convinced Treasurer Beth Pearce to try Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, a console game Weyrauch worked on with Insomniac Games. 

Photo (74)Organizers of the pop-up Statehouse arcade included members of the Vermont Video Game Developers' Association, along with students and faculty from Champlain College and representatives from the Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation. They hoped to raise the profile of the local gaming scene and convince lawmakers to support it.

The $52 billion-a-year industry presents a big economic opportunity for Vermont, these advocates claimed in a press conference in the Cedar Creek Room earlier in the day. Pollina kicked off that gathering. He told reporters that the video game industry provides "clean jobs" that appeal to young workers. He wants the state to do more to attract those workers here.

"The way we market our ski areas is the way we should be marketing our digital economy," Pollina said. 

Continue reading "Vermont Video Game Developers Look to Legislature for Support" »

January 17, 2013

This Week's Issue: A Biomass Battle; The Revolving Door Spins Again

Cover-011613In this week's print edition of Seven Days, which you can read on your iPhone or iPad with our new free app...

December 12, 2012

This Week's Paper: Burlington's Library Becomes a Haven for the Homeless; Use Your Smartphone to Fight Illegal Dumping

LM-FletcherFree-1Here's the newsy stuff in this week's commemorative 12/12/12 edition of Seven Days...

Library photo by Matthew Thorsen

December 04, 2012

UPDATED: Bloomberg TV Barges In on Burlington's #BTV Hashtag, Twitter Chaos Ensues


Savvy Burlington-area residents have long used the hashtag #BTV to consolidate local content on Twitter, from the mundane (sunset pictures and lunch updates) to the serious (emergency management during storms). But #BTV is a simple hashtag that could stand for many things, and it's come under threat before — chiefly from users talking smack about state-run TV stations in Bahrain, Botswana and other B countries. (See "Burlington Meets Bahrain: When Twitter Hashtags Collide" from 2011 for more about that.)

But today, hashtag-jacking reached new heights when Bloomberg TV barged in. This did not go over well with Burlingtonians.

The news network had tried to use #BTV before, notably to collect Hurricane Sandy photos last month. But those tweets never caught enough traction to overwhelm Burlington content — until today, when the network pledged to use #BTV-tagged tweets in its iPad app while it aired a lunch-hour interview with President Barack Obama. Unfortunately for Vermonters, Obamarama trumped the Queen City, at least for a little while.

(Quick side note if you're new to Twitter and/or hashtaggery: No one "owns" a hashtag, so it's not like Burlington residents can complain to Twitter about having their hashtag swiped. A hashtag is really little more than a search archive of the tweets that include it. That's why Burlington locals were worried that their content would be utterly overwhelmed by Bloomberg TV's 105,000+ followers.)

The only way to fight back when someone jacks your hashtag? Flood it with your own content. This inspired a lovely round of trolling from Burlington Tweeters — which, in full disclosure, was egged on by this professional Twitter jockey. Below is a Storify showing the chronology of the great #BTV hashtag war of 2012, with political tweets on one side and gratuitous Lake Champlain photos on the other.

Continue reading "UPDATED: Bloomberg TV Barges In on Burlington's #BTV Hashtag, Twitter Chaos Ensues" »

November 30, 2012

Morning Read: Leahy Privacy Bill Sails Through Judiciary Committee

MorningreadRemember back when everybody was wigging out about Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) allegedly pulling a switcheroo and swapping out a bill that would increase electronic privacy for one that would erode it?

As you may recall, CNET's Declan McCullagh reported last week in a thinly-sourced story that Leahy had "quietly rewritten" legislation originally intended to require law enforcement officials to obtain warrants before accessing old emails. Citing anonymous sources, McCullagh reported that Leahy had flip-flopped and planned to back a new version of the bill "giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law."

Well, Vermont's senior senator put that rumor to rest Thursday when he presided over a unanimous Senate Judiciary Committee voice vote strengthening email privacy rules, as the New York Times reports:

Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the committee, was an architect of the 1986 law and is leading the effort to remake it. He said at the meeting on Thursday that e-mails stored by third parties should receive the same protection as papers stored in a filing cabinet in an individual’s house.

“Like many Americans, I am concerned about the growing and unwelcome intrusions into our private lives in cyberspace,” Mr. Leahy said. “I also understand that we must update our digital privacy laws to keep pace with the rapid advances in technology.”

Continue reading "Morning Read: Leahy Privacy Bill Sails Through Judiciary Committee" »

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