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Monday, December 10, 2012

Twitter Adds Photo Filters in Battle With Instagram

So many filters, so little time.

Twitter on Monday announced a new feature that will allow people to edit photos and apply photo filters from within Twitter-built applications.

In a blog post on the company's Web site, Coleen Baik, a senior designer at Twitter, said that sharing photos has been an important part of the Twitter experience.

“Starting today, you'll be able to edit and refine your photos, right from Twitter,” Ms. Baik wrote. “The latest versions of Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android introduce a few new ways to enhance the images you tweet.”

As I first reported last month, Twitter has been hard at work on filters for some time, hoping to allow people to bypass other photo-sharing services, like Instagram, now owned by Facebook.

Last week Instagram eliminated the ability of its users to share images directly within Twitter. The two companies, once friends, are now direct competitors.

The Twitter app will offer eight filters, which the company said would include black-and-white and a vintage look, and come with a “bird's-eye view” mode that shows in a grid view ho w a photo would change. People can also crop and enhance images from within the app.

Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner, a technology research firm, said Monday's announcement was no suprise given the popularity of filters with today's smartphone-using consumers.

“Twitter is more valuable to most users than other filtering services, such as Instagram,” Mr. Gartenberg said in an e-mail. “Lack of allowing content to flow where users want it to flow means consumers will choose the service of greater value.”

One of the main reasons the company is using its own filters is because of the company's Very Important Tweeters, known internally as V.I.T.'s, who are usually celebrities and media personalities. Until now, most V.I.T.'s have taken photos with other apps, including Instagram, where they have larger followings. With the latest addition, Twitter hopes to keep those people inside its own service.

Twitter's photo filters were built by Aviary, a company that offers software to mobile and Web developers.

BlackBerry Phones Get Free Calls Over Wi-Fi

By using Research In Motion's exclusive data network, the BlackBerry Messenger service, or BBM, has long allowed its users to avoid texting charges from their wireless carriers. On Monday, RIM added dodging voice charges to BBM's list of features.

RIM introduced an upgrade for BlackBerry phones that will allow their owners to make free calls to anywhere in the world through Wi-Fi connections. As with all things BBM, the catch is that the person on the other end of the call must also be a BlackBerry user, a group which is declining in the United States.

RIM has long maintained close ties to wireless carriers. Jan Dawson, a telecommunications analyst with Ovum, said that free calling through BBM Voice was unlikely to undermine that relationship. He said that locations with Wi-Fi usually have conventional landline phones already providing an alternative to wir eless voice calls. When that's combined with a trend toward flat-rate wireless billing plans from carriers and the fact that the new service only works between BlackBerrys, “that will relegate it to a very small minority of overall calling scenarios and therefore carrier impact will be minimal,” Mr. Dawson wrote in an e-mail.

He added: “On the other hand, if Apple ever does something like this on the iPhone, that might have a much bigger impact.”

In a statement, John Walls, a spokesman for CTIA, the wireless industry trade group, suggested that the new feature might be a gain for the industry.

“Wireless carriers are operating tens of thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots around the United States, and consumers are the beneficiaries of such innovative solutions that are the result of a competitive, responsive industry,” he wrote.

The upgrade, which is being offered at no charge, is for current BlackBerry models. While the company's announcement did n ot indicate what it has planned for the BlackBerry 10 phones, which will be unveiled at the end of January, it has said that the version of BBM for those phones will include several new features.

TimesCast Media+Tech: Concern Over Apps for Kids

An update in the battle over children's privacy online. Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. Bloomberg weighs bidding on Financial Times.

Gmail Goes Down, Office Workers Panic

Some Gmail users had trouble starting the work week Monday.

Google's e-mail service was inaccessible for many users Monday morning, for both personal and business accounts. Google said it was a global service disruption. Chrome, Google's browser, was also crashing in some instances.

Google reported on its site that the problem was resolved by afternoon. But the outage highlights the downside of relying on information stored only in the cloud of the Internet, particularly for businesses that pay to use Google Apps, including Gmail, Docs for word processing and Drive for file storage.

Last week, Google said it would begin charging small businesses, not just big ones, to use Google Apps in the workplace. (On Thursday, the same day it made that announcement, Gmail also crashed.) Businesses pay $50 per employee each year for the services. Google is also betting on cloud-based applications with its Chrome operating system.

But the ease of accessing e-mail and other services from any Internet-connected device quickly becomes a burden when there is a service problem, as Gmail users discovered Monday.

Minutes after Gmail went down, Twitter lit up with posts from people who were frustrated by the outages.

“C'mon @gmail, you're not supposed to crash! Can't get my work done! Error 502??,” wrote one user, by the name of Blairez.

Others fretted about the inability to do work.

Kyle Judah, who runs an education start-up called RecoVend, wrote, “Negative productivity while GMail is down and causing Chrome to crash every few minute s.”

For others, the glitches underscored the degree of dependency on Google for their day-to-day lives.

“Moral: dont put all your emails in one account,” advised one user by the name of GreyGenes.

Still, many were able to keep a sense of humor about the disruption.

“Maybe this is what the Mayans meant about the end of the world?” cracked one Twitter user under the handle Possessionista.

The service disruption was not complete. For some people, Gmail was accessible on smartphones or certain browsers, but not on others, including Google's own Chrome browser.

Japanese Manufacturers Rescue Chip Maker Renesas

When a 9.0-magnitude quake knocked out one of the Renesas Electronics Corporation's chip-making factories in northeastern Japan last year, Toyota Motor and other manufacturers dispatched hundreds of workers to help get the plant running again.

On Monday, some of Japan's largest manufacturers pitched in again, contributing to a government-led bailout worth 150 billion yen ($1.8 billion) for the struggling chip maker. The effort underscores the importance of the company's advanced microcontroller chips to Japanese industry and the reluctance to give the technology to foreign firms.

In a statement, Renesas said the government fund, the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, would provide most of the aid. Eight Japanese manufacturers â€" including Canon, Nikon, Nissan, Panasonic and Toyota â€" will contribute roughly 12 billion yen. The capital injection will help Renesas increase spending on the advanced microcontrollers used in cars and electronic devices, the company said. To prop up its finances, Renesas had requested an additional 50 billion yen from the government.

While Renesas, which based in Kawasaki, staged a swift comeback from the quake and tsunami that struck Japan last year, it has been less successful in dealing with competition from rivals like Samsung Electronics of South Korea.

Elpida Memory, a Japanese manufacturer of dynamic random access memory chips, filed for bankruptcy protection in February. Elpida is now being acquired by the American chip maker Micron Technology, based in Boise, Idaho.

In August, reports that the American private equity firm K.K.R. had offered to invest as much as 100 billion yen in Renesas sent the company's shares soaring. But it also raised concerns about foreign control of a company that supplies many of Japan's leading manufacturers.

Japan's reliance on Renesas stems, in part, from the company's legacy. In 2003, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric merged their s emiconductor businesses to form Renesas Technology. Then in April 2010, Renesas merged with NEC Electronics, the former semiconductor division of NEC, to create the current company.

As a result, manufacturers, which once employed different preferred chip suppliers, ended up buying products from the newly merged Renesas. Along with automotive microcontrollers, Renesas also supplies specially tailored chips for electronics companies like Canon and Ricoh.

With Japan's major manufacturers facing tough competition and a slowing global economy, Renesas has struggled to turn a profit. For the 12 months through March, Renesas expects to report a net loss of 150 billion yen, after losing 62.6 billion yen in the period a year earlier.

In the bailout plan announced on Monday, Renesas said it would sell 1.25 billion new shares priced at 120 yen to the fund and the Japanese manufacturers, giving them a 69 percent stake in the chip maker. That price represents a deep dis count from the company's closing price of 308 yen on Monday in Tokyo.

The aid package comes on top of 161 billion yen in syndicated loans Renesas secured from four Japanese banks in September, and a separate 97 billion yen it previously received from banks and its major shareholders. In return for that previous support, Renesas has promised to sell or close 8 of its 18 plants in Japan within three years, and to eliminate more than 7,000 jobs.

Shares in Renesas rose 3 percent in Tokyo before the announcement on Monday. The company has lost 35 percent of its market value this year.

Robotic Gadgets for Household Chores

Robotic Gadgets for Household Chores

BERLIN - Joseph Schlesinger, an engineer living near Boston, thinks robotic toys are too expensive, the result of extravagant designs, expensive components and a poor understanding of consumer tastes. So this year, Mr. Schlesinger, 23, began to manufacture an affordable robot, one he is selling for $250 to holiday shoppers.

His creation, the Hexy, is a six-legged, crablike creature that can navigate its own environment and respond to humans with a hand wave or other programmable gesture. Mr. Schlesinger said he had been able to lower production costs by using free software and by molding a lot of the plastic parts locally in Massachusetts, not in China.

Since setting up his company, ArcBotics, in suburban Somerville, Massachusetts, Mr. Schlesinger has built a backlog of more than 1,000 orders. His goal, he said, was to become “the Ikea of robotics.”

“I think the market for consumer robotics is poised to explode,” said Mr. Schlesinger, a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. “We are only at the beginning.”

Since the 1960s, robots have assumed major roles in industrial manufacturing and assembly, the remote detonation of explosives, search and rescue, and academic research. But the devices have remained out of reach, in affordability and practicality, to most consumers.

That, according to Professor Andrew Ng, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Stanford University in California, is about to change. One big reason, Mr. Ng said, is the mass production of smartphones and game consoles, which has driven down the size and price of robotic building blocks like accelerometers, gyroscopes and sensors.

On the edges of consumer consciousness, the first generation of devices with rudimentary artificial intelligence are beginning to appear: entertainment and educational robots like the Hexy, and a line of tireless household drones that can mow lawns, sweep floors, clean swimming pools and even enhance golf games.

“I'm seeing a huge explosion of robotic toys and believe that there will be one soon in industry,” said Mr. Ng, an associated professor of computer science at Stanford.

The most advanced robots remain exotic workhorses like NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover, which cost $2.5 billion, and the LS3, a doglike robot being developed for the U.S. military that can carry a 400-pound, or 180-kilogram load more than 20 miles, or about 30 kilometers. The mechanical beast of burden, whose price is not public, is being made by a consortium led by Boston Dynamics. In Menlo Park, California, engineers at Willow Garage, a robotics firm, are selling the two-armed, 5-foot-4 inch (1.63-meter) rolling robot called the PR2 for $400,000.

A video on Willow Garage's Web site shows the PR2 fetching beer from a refrigerator, which while an engineering and programming feat, is an expensive way to get beer.

“I think we're still some years away from useful personal robots making pervasive appearances in our homes,” Mr. Ng said.

Right now, for the masses, there is the CaddyTrek, a robotic golf club carrier that follows a player from tee to fairway to green through tall grass, up 30-degree slopes and in snow, for as many as 27 holes on a single charge. Players wear a remote control on their belts, which acts as a homing beacon for the self-propelled cart, which trails six paces behind the player.

Golfers can also navigate the robotic cart, which is made by FTR Systems, to the next tee while they finish putting.

“Someone ran up to me last week and said that my golf cart had broken free and was rolling through the parking lot,” said Richard Nagle, the sales manager for CaddyTrek in North America and Europe. “Most people just stop and stare. They're not used to this.”

FTR Systems does not disclose the proprietary technology it uses to power the CaddyTrek, which sells for $1,595, but Mr. Nagle said sales of the robot carriers had been strong, and the company had been rushing to meet orders in the United States and Europe.

A version of this special report appeared in print on December 10, 2012, on page B8 of the New York edition with the headline: Robots Are Nearing Reach of Consumers.

Windows 8\'s Clarity Problem

A modest suggestion to Microsoft: Next time, more verbs.

Last week I was lent a Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, a high-end ultrabook running Windows 8. In many ways, it is an impressive machine, with a clear screen, a fast Intel processor and a great keyboard.

The touch screen is clever, with both responsive glass and software that uses motion from different sides of the screen in different ways: swipe down from the top to open Web pages, from the right to get to the Start page or do a search, from below to enter an address, and from the left to go to a preceding screen. The product costs over $1,000 and weighs too much, so I wouldn't get it, but I'm not the target customer anyway.

This is not a product review, however. It's an observation about how Microsoft presents itself to the consumer, which may say a lot about how Microsoft still sees itself.

I wanted to write an article with the Lenovo, using an online document program. After three tries I was unable to download a Chrome browser (a pretty serious problem in its own right, considering how much trouble Microsoft had over hampering access to Netscape), so I wasn't able to get at Google Drive in a form that would allow offline composition. Fortunately I found enough places with Wi-Fi that I could stay connected and do the work.

That evening I was at dinner with Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft's server and tools business. “You should have just used our online service through Skydrive,” he said, referring to Microsoft's online storage service.

I pointed out that this was not intuitively clear from the Windows 8 look: Instead of saying “write” or “store,” the icon says “Skydrive.” Instead of offering activities, Microsoft is assuming that buyers are up on all of its products, and clear on how to begin using them.

It is leading with its brand names, thinking along the lines of corporate functions, rather than thinking about what people want to do. Similarly, instead of an icon saying “browse the Web,” there is one labeled “Internet Explorer,” admittedly a better known product. Other icons, like “mail” and “maps,” are clearer, though they do favor Microsoft versions of these products.

Google has recently made a similarly confusing move, changing the name of “Docs” in Gmail to the more branded, and vague, “Drive.” It may be in the interests of these tech companies to think of storage as a generalized online activity to which many applications apply, but there is no need to mystify the consumer.

Microsoft did not have to follow Google's bad lead here, and repeat the longtime flaw in Silicon Valley of building things for other engineers, instead of building them for regular people.

It used to be a nagging problem, when personal computers came with cumbersome manuals. As we move to an online computing world of consumer-driven services, however, it's better to think in terms of actions and outcomes, not arcane product names.

Mobile Video Calling Creates a New Frontier

Mobile Video Calling Creates a New Frontier

Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

The offices of Tango Mobile, whose free video calling service has 80 million active users.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - The next competition in technology is your face - anywhere, anytime.

As the cameras and screens of smartphones and tablets improve, and as wireless networks offer higher bandwidth, more companies are getting into the business of enabling mobile video calls.

The details vary from one service to the next, but the experiences are similar: from anywhere in the world with a modern wireless network, a smartphone's screen fills with the face of a friend or relative. The quality is about the same jerky-but-functional level as most desktop video. Sound is not always perfectly synced with the image, but it is very close. The calls start and end the same way, by pressing a button on the screen.

Mobile video calling has risen so quickly that industry analysts have not yet compiled exact numbers. But along the way, it is creating new business models, new stresses on mobile networks and even new rules of etiquette.

“All the communications - social messages, calls, texts and video - are merging fast,” said Eric Setton, co-founder and chief technology officer of Tango Mobile, whose free video calling service has 80 million active users. An additional 200,000 join daily, Mr. Setton said.

Once an interesting endeavor for a few start-ups like Tango, mobile video has caught the attention of big companies. Apple created FaceTime and made it a selling point for the iPad.

In September, the company made FaceTime available on cellular networks instead of limiting it to Wi-Fi systems, almost certainly in response to increasing consumer demand.

Last week, Yahoo purchased a video chat company called OnTheAir. And in 2011, Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for Skype, a service for both video and audio-only calls. Though most people use Skype on desktop and laptop computers, the software for the service has been downloaded more than 100 million times just by owners of phones running Google's Android mobile operating system. Microsoft built a service for its Windows 8 mobile phone that lets people receive calls even when Skype is not on.

Google, which has more than 100 million people a month using its Google Plus social networking service, now offers more than 200 apps for its video calling feature. It says it is interested not in making money on the applications, but in learning more about them so it can sell more ads by getting people to use its free video service, called Hangouts. Hangouts can be used for two-person or group calls, or for a video conference with up to 10 people.

“On a high level, Google works better when we know who you are and what your interests are,” said Nikhyl Singhal, director of product management for Google's real-time communications group. “Video calling is becoming a basic service across different fronts.” While Mr. Singhal is an occasional user, he said, his 4-year-old daughter “is on it every day.”

Don't expect video calling to improve productivity. Tango uses the same technology that enables video calls to sell games that people can play simultaneously. It sells virtual decorations like balloons to drop around someone's image during a birthday call (both parties see the festive pixels). Google says some jokey applications on Hangouts, like a feature that can put a mustache over each caller, seem to encourage people to talk longer.

Currently, popular two-way games like Words With Friends on Facebook work by one player making a move and then passing the game over to the other player, not watching moves as they are made. Another promising area is avatars, like cartoon dogs and cats, that mouth speech when a user wants to have a video call but does not want to be seen.

The prospect of having to appear on-screen at any given moment might sound like a nonstarter for people who worry about bad hair days. But in fact, using mobile devices for video calls may be less bother than it seems.

“There may be natural inhibitions to being seen, but when I'm on a mobile device I'm out and about, so I'm more likely to be presentable,” said Michael Gartenberg, a consumer technology analyst at Gartner. “How people use this remains to be seen, but they are starting to expect it.”

Yet a new etiquette for mobile video calls is already emerging. People often text each other first to see if it's O.K. to appear on camera. Video messages sent in the text box of a phone, like snippets of a party or a child's first steps, are also useful precursors to video conversations. Mr. Singhal said making avatars for users of Hangout would be “an extraordinarily important area” as well.

The greatest challenge for the business may not be getting more consumers to use the service, but making sure the service works. Most phones have slight variations in things like camera placement and video formatting from one model to the next. “A camera can show you upside down if you load the wrong software on it,” said Mr. Setton of Tango.

As a result, the 80 engineers among Tango's 110 employees have adjusted their software to work on more than 1,000 types of phones worldwide. The top 20 models have more than a million customers each, but the complexity of building software for a wider range of phones has made it hard for new mobile video companies to enter the field, Mr. Setton said.

Tango's average video call used to last six minutes, Mr. Setton said, but when the company started adding other applications to go with the videos, like games and designs that float over people, the average call length rose to 12 minutes.

Brian X. Chen contributed reporting.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 10, 2012, on page B6 of the New York edition with the headline: Mobile Video Calling Creates a New Frontier.

Daily Report: The Browser Wars Are Back

Many consumers are not so sure what a Web browser is. But these programs have become a crucial business for tech companies like Google and Microsoft, Claire Cain Miller reports in Monday's New York Times. That is because they are now the entry point not just to the Web but to everything stored online, like Web apps, documents and photos.

And as the cloud grows more important, both for businesses and people, the browser companies are engaged in a new battle to win our allegiance that will affect how we use the Internet.

It's an echo of the so-called browser wars of the 1990s, when Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator fought for dominance on the personal computer. This time, though, the struggle is shaping up to be over which company will control the mobile world - with browsers on smartphones and tablets. Entrenched busine sses are at stake. Google's browser-based business apps, for instance, threaten Microsoft's desktop software.

“Twenty years ago, we didn't know how the Internet was going to get used by people, and we for sure didn't know about mobile or tablets,” said Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the first major browser, Netscape Navigator, and an investor in Rockmelt, a browser start-up. “Mobile is a whole new level of reinvention, so it feels like we're in the most fertile time of invention since the early '90s.”

Browsers give Web companies more control over how people use their products, and data about how people use the Web, which they can use to improve their products and inform advertisers. Faster browsing leads to more Web activity, which in turn leads to more revenue for Web companies - whether searching on Google, or shopping on Amazon.com, which built a Kindle browser, Silk.

As Mr. Andreessen put it, “Why let something be between us and our users? Let 's have as much control of the user experience as we can have; make sure our services are wired in.”

In Pursuit of McAfee, Media Are Part of Story

In Pursuit of McAfee, Media Are Part of Story

Late last month, the editor in chief of Vice magazine, Rocco Castoro, joined by a photographer, Robert King, managed to secure a plum exclusive: an invitation to travel along with the fugitive tech millionaire John McAfee.

John McAfee, the antivirus software pioneer, in a Reuters interview in Guatemala City last week.

Years earlier, Mr. McAfee had relocated to a Colonel Kurtz-like compound in the jungles of Belize, surrounding himself with armed guards and multiple young lovers. Then, with reports that he was a “person of interest” in the death of a neighbor, Mr. McAfee had gone on the lam. Last Monday, after several days of surreptitious travel, Mr. Castoro and Mr. King posted their first dispatch. It bore the smirking headline, “We Are With John McAfee Right Now, Suckers.”

The gloating was short-lived, however. Within minutes, a reader noticed that the photograph posted with the story still contained GPS location data embedded by the iPhone 4S that took it, and sent out a message via Twitter: “Check the metadata in the photo. Oooops ...” Vice quickly replaced the image, but it was too late. “Oops! Did Vice Just Give Away John McAfee's Location With Photo Metadata?” a Wired.com headline asked. The article included a Google Earth view of the exact spot the picture had been taken - poolside at the Hotel & Marina Nana Juana in Izabal, Guatemala.

Soon, the Guatemalan police were with John McAfee. This weekend, he is in their custody and is expected to be extradited to Belize, where he faces questioning in connection with the murder of Gregory Faull, a 52-year-old American who was his neighbor. Mr. McAfee's lawyers are appealing his extradition.

The Vice debacle was just one colorful twist in the relationship between the press, which is always willing to indulge a colorful subject, and Mr. McAfee, who was always eager to bend news coverage to his often inscrutable ends. I first wrote about Mr. McAfee five years before, when he was merely a colorful software pioneer - an apparently clean-living citizen who courted the press mainly to promote his favorite pastime, flying ultralight aircraft. Since then, his life had taken several darker turns. I had only just published a long piece about his purported connections with Belizean drug gangs on the Web site Gizmodo when I received a curt e-mail from a police official in Belize on Nov. 11, “It may interest you to know that there was a murder yesterday in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye and McAfee is the prime suspect.”

I passed the information along on Twitter and on Gizmodo and the news took on a life of its own. “It was on all kinds of Tumblr sites, people were talking about it on Twitter, and that fueled a lot of the professional media to say, ‘O.K., everyone's talking about this, we should have a story on it, too,' ” said Mat Honan, a senior writer at Wired who has written about the case.

Mr. McAfee went into hiding with a 20-year-old girlfriend, but it was hiding of a uniquely visible kind. Within 36 hours, he began an aggressive campaign to court and spin coverage of his story. He started by calling Joshua Davis, a Wired writer who had spent the summer reporting on a profile for the magazine's January issue, and fed him fresh details of life on the run every few hours. Mr. Davis passed along his minute-by-minute updates via Twitter and daily blog posts.

News media around the world were rapt: it wasn't just that Mr. McAfee's name was stubbornly familiar, a relic of the early days when computer users installed his software to keep viruses away. “A tech millionaire, an exotic Central American locale, murder, the possibility of drugs - the story just has everything,” says Nathalie Malinarich, world editor of the BBC News Web site.

Wired had a problem, though. The murder and Mr. McAfee's flight had made Mr. Davis's print article obsolete before it could even hit newsstands. Wired and Mr. Davis updated the material and repackaged it into an e-book that has sold more than 22,000 copies, at one point reaching No. 1 on the Nonfiction Kindle Singles list.

Mr. Davis's exclusives did not last long. As the week went on, Mr. McAfee granted phone interviews to more reporters (though none to me, with whom he's declined to communicate since my first Gizmodo piece). Then he set out to spread his message across new electronic platforms. He started a Twitter account and, with the help of a cartoonist he had befriended in Seattle, a blog. To keep the story fresh, Mr. McAfee kept upping his media exposure and the outrageousness of the tales he told. He arranged face-to-face interviews- a Financial Times journalist first, followed by CNN's Martin Savidge. (Both were told to wait in p ublic places and then were driven to meet Mr. McAfee in locations unknown to them.) Then, in the ultimate act of bravado, he invited Vice's journalists to tag along.

For reporters, a McAfee exclusive guaranteed a rich share of readers and viewers and social-networking interest. But many found the favor an ambiguous blessing. Mr. McAfee seemed to understand the dynamics of journalism well enough to know which assertions reporters would pass along without double-checking or qualifying - like his claim that he had eluded the police by burying himself in sand and positioning a box over his head - even as his self-created narrative veered ever further into the surreal.

“As soon as reporters start to think, ‘Wait a minute, we're sort of jeopardizing our objectivity and reputation for this guy,' he'll just burn them, and go to the next one,” says the Gizmodo writer Joel Johnson, who found himself cut off after publishing an article Mr. McAfee did not like. “That's what he did to me, that's what he's done to a lot of journalists, and he's going to do it to the Vice guys, if he hasn't done it already.”

Vice seemed to remain in Mr. McAfee's good graces even after the freedom-endangering gaffe. After the secret of his location spread across the Internet, Mr. McAfee quickly went online to claim that the data leak was in fact an intentional piece of misdirection. Mr. King, the Vice photographer, supported the claim on social media. This amounted to following up an “egregiously stupid action with a far worse one,” Mr. Honan wrote in a Wired post later last week, “King apparently lied on his Facebook page and Twitter in order to protect McAfee.”

In a statement, Vice said it would not comment about its reporting in the McAfee case.

“The flight we chronicled was from the start filled with misinformation, rumors, social-media-fed myths, outright lies and overall total weirdness,” the magazine said. “Despite many media outlets' obvious glee in damning us immediately, Vice has decided to wait and talk to the people on our team who were actually on the ground and who could therefore tell us what actually went down and not just buy into the same rumors, myths and madness that this story has consisted of from the start.”

Indeed, while Mr. McAfee seems determined to drag out his drama as long as he can, some of the journalists who have covered him say they have had enough. “People try to behave ethically,” said Mr. Johnson, who wrote his final post on Mr. McAfee three weeks ago. “And he milks that out of them until they get to the point where they're like, ‘You know what, you're just nuts.' ” He adds, “I know as a journalist I can't say that, so I've got to get out of this story.”

A version of this article appeared in print on December 10, 2012, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: In Pursuit of McAfee, Media Are Part of Story.