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Japan to Fire Off Emails in Event of Incoming Missile
March 31, 2014
Starting April 1, Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency will send email alerts to residents' phones should North Korea start lobbing missiles. The messages would be sent using the nation's already-functional J-Alert, a free system designed to notify people about earthquakes and tsunamis. The missile-warning service is aimed specifically at those who use NTT Docomo, KDDI au and Softbank Mobile devices.
Apple Patent Addresses Texting-Walking Risk
March 28, 2014
Texting and walking can be dangerous, but Apple could be aiming to make it less so, judging from a patent awarded Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Apple has found an innovative way to use an electronic communication device's camera to continuously capture and present video images as background within a text-messaging session, suggests its Transparent Texting patent application.
US Judge: Free Speech Protects Baidu's Beijing-OK'd Results
March 28, 2014
A Manhattan judge ruled that a Chinese search engine's practice of restricting free speech is, wouldn't you know it, protected by free speech. Chinese Internet company Baidu won the dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit filed by activists who objected to its, shall we say, selective search results, which adhere to the government's notoriously limited view of what is and isn't acceptable.
Candy Crush Fails to Melt Wall St.'s Heart
March 27, 2014
Investors didn't share the same excitement for King Digital Entertainment stock as Candy Crush fans do for the mobile game, sending King shares down nearly 16 percent in Wednesday's disappointing first day of trading. It slipped a further couple of percentage points on Thursday. King's stock debuted at $22.50, but dropped 15.6 percent to close at $19 -- this year's worst first day drop for an IPO.
Bitcoin Fans Rejoice in IRS Ruling
March 27, 2014
The U.S. will tax bitcoin and other virtual currencies as property, the IRS said Tuesday. Virtual currency will be treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes, and transactions in virtual currency will be subject to general tax principles. Taxpayers who receive virtual currency as payment for goods or services must calculate that payment at the currency's fair market value in U.S. dollars.
Microsoft Launches Public Cloud in China
March 27, 2014
Microsoft is now offering general availability of its Azure cloud service in China, becoming the first multinational company to provide public cloud services in the Middle Kingdom. Microsoft is partnering with 21Vianet, a Chinese data center services provider, a marriage that likely helped appease Beijing officials. Until now, all major cloud providers in China have been Chinese.
eBay Board Pumps Up Volume in PayPal Clash
March 27, 2014
eBay's board of directors this week urged shareholders to reject Carl Icahn's plan to spin off PayPal as a separate company. "Our shareholders and our customers are best served by keeping PayPal and eBay together," the board said in a letter to investors. "No other payments competitor has achieved PayPal's success -- because no other competitor has had a commerce platform like eBay."
Is Google Thwarting Android-x86 Development?
March 26, 2014
Has Google been spreading FUD to discourage computer makers from using an Android OS retooled to run on legacy computers? The maintainer of the Android-x86 Project has suggested that the Justice Department should investigate whether Google has been interfering with adoption of the open source code his community is developing. The FOSS development world is hardly free of rivalry and power plays.
Facebook Makes Unreal Acquisition
March 26, 2014
Facebook has agreed to acquire Oculus VR, maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming hardware. Facebook will pay around $2 billion for the company. That figure includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock, valued at $1.6 billion based on recent average trading price. There is a provision for an additional $300 million earnout based on performance.
Rocket the Vote! NASA Asks People to Vote on New Space Threads
March 26, 2014
NASA is asking people to vote on their favorite design for the outer shell of the new Z-2 spacesuit. While the Z-2 models may descend from their Apollo 13-style ancestors, there are some decidedly 21st Century twists. The "Biomimicry" design, for example, has a reptilian flare; "Trends in Society" has a more everyday look -- at least, as far as spacesuits go.
Disney Snaps Up Maker to Court Millennials
March 26, 2014
Disney this week announced it would acquire Maker Studios, a provider of short-form videos, for at least $500 million -- a number that could go up if Maker meets performance targets. Maker's videos account for more than 5.5 billion monthly views on YouTube -- it has 380 million subscribers. Among its more than 55,000 YouTube channels are the popular Epic Rap Battles of History.
Obama, Legislators Tackle Bulk Surveillance Issue
March 25, 2014
The political frenzy over the NSAy's collection of Americans' bulk telephone metadata is escalating, with both the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee announcing plans to introduce legislation to regulate the practice. The White House's proposal reportedly would require phone companies to store the data and provide it under a court order.
China Seeks Answers About NSA/Huawei Report
March 25, 2014
China's government is asking the U.S. to explain itself -- and to knock it off with all the cyberespionage -- following reports that the National Security Agency has had its way with Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The NSA reportedly penetrated Huawei servers to monitor communications among company executives, and to gain access to the dealings of Huawei customers.
Apple, Comcast Wade Into Streaming Content Talks
March 24, 2014
Apple and Comcast reportedly are discussing a streaming-TV service that will go through an Apple set-top box. Apple apparently wants the service to be treated as a managed service, meaning it will run on cabling separate from that used for public Internet access. "I seriously doubt Comcast will agree to a deal, said Mukul Krishna, digital media senior global director at Frost & Sullivan.
Microsoft Does Some Scroogling to Catch a Thief
March 24, 2014
Microsoft, which has been mocking Google's searching of Gmail subscribers' emails with its "Scroogled" campaign, is fielding criticism for having itself searched the email of a Hotmail user. The search was conducted after Microsoft found that an employee, Alex Kibkalo, who worked for it in Lebanon, had stolen proprietary code and shared it with the Hotmail user, who is a blogger.
Netflix, Comcast Spar Over Net Neutrality
March 24, 2014
Although they previously came to an arrangement regarding stronger broadband service delivery, Netflix and Comcast last week sparred over the issue of Net neutrality in a public forum. Net neutrality -- or "open Internet" -- is the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers and governments. ISPs should not give preferential treatment.
Haunted Empire - Biased Author or Biased Readers?
March 24, 2014
What really surprises me about the book Haunted Empire, which predicts the decline of Apple, isn't that Apple fans don't like it. That's a given -- Apple fans only want positive books and stories. It is the level of effort that has gone into killing it, and how much that apparently has accelerated sales. There is an old saying: The only thing better than bad publicity is no publicity.
Alibaba Takes Tango for a Whirl
March 21, 2014
Alibaba is putting some skin in the mobile-messaging game with a $215 million investment in Tango; the companies announced the funding on Thursday. Mobile messaging apps are hot. Facebook recently scooped up WhatsApp for $19 billion, and Japanese e-commerce titan Rakuten recently acquired Viber for $900 million. Tango is a cross-platform app -- Android, iOS, Windows Phone, PC and Mac.
Chinese State Media Prompts Amazon to Close Store
March 21, 2014
China's state media seems to have the ear of U.S. tech companies. Amazon's China unit closed down a third-party store after state media criticized Amazon for selling fake cosmetics. Amazon's China unit took the accusations seriously, it said, promising to "strengthen the process of scrutiny." The fake-product accusations were floated on China Central Television.
Earth Narrowly Missed Solar Blasts in 2012
March 20, 2014
Enormous solar blasts, which possessed the potential to wreak havoc on electrical grids and satellites, barely missed Earth in 2012. The near-misses, revealed by researchers Wednesday, would have been akin to the 1859 Carrington Event, the largest solar storm ever recorded. While there were no satellites to cripple back then, the storm knocked out telegraph systems across the U.S.

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