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Zuckerberg Talks His Way Into Chinese Hearts and Minds
October 24, 2014
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went on stage at Tsinghua University in Beijing Wednesday for a 30-minute Q&A session, the audience expected him to do what foreigners generally do: Utter a few words in Mandarin to acknowledge their culture, then depend heavily on translators. Instead, Zuckerberg elicited gasps of approval from the audience when he spoke in Mandarin all the way.
Space Explorers Hole Up in Hawaii to Simulate Life on Mars
October 23, 2014
The third in a series of four simulated missions to Mars planned by NASA kicked off last week at a remote site on the Hawaiian island of Mauna Loa. A six-person team, comprising the Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation 3 mission, is inhabiting a dome for an eight-month study of the human factors that contribute to astronaut crew function and performance over time.
Is Amazon a Robber Baron or a Robin Hood?
October 23, 2014
Amazon's tactics in its ongoing battles with content publishers are fast becoming a bone of contention. The company has delayed distributing content from companies it's tussling with over content price points or its cut of the take. It's been steering customers to other publishers, at times overtly. Amazon's actions have given rise to speculation that it might perhaps be getting too powerful.
FTC Snags Soltani for Chief Technologist Role
October 22, 2014
Privacy expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ashkan Soltani will be the FTC's new chief technologist, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced Tuesday. "Ashkan is well qualified and was an excellent choice for the agency," said Ginger McCall, an associate director with the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Soltani will succeed Latanya Sweeney in the position beginning in November.
Kickstarter Puts Kibosh on Tor-Based Router Funding
October 21, 2014
Kickstarter on Friday suspended a crowdfunding campaign for Anonabox, a portable networking device designed specifically to run Tor. The campaign for the privacy-minded router, which launched earlier last week, was wildly successful. In just a few days, it reportedly garnered more than $600,000 in pledged funds from thousands of backers. The Kickstarter goal for the $45 device was just $7,500.
Black Box Keeps Cybersnoops in Dark
October 21, 2014
Following Edward Snowden's revelations about indiscriminate government snooping on U.S. citizens, many Net surfers would like to find a way to lower their visibility on the Internet. There are a number of tools in cyberspace that can help a soul do that, but they can take time and savvy to set up. That's why Kerry Cox launched the Sierra Project, which he hopes to fund through Kickstarter.
BBC to Preserve Memory of Its 'Forgotten' Articles
October 17, 2014
The BBC will publish and continually update a list of its published articles that were removed from Google searches under Europe's "right to be forgotten" rule. David Jordan, director of editorial policy and standards for the BBC, announced the move. The decision is a reaction to the EC ruling that search engines must remove "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" links upon request.
Tide Starts to Turn Against Gamergate's Women-Hating Campaign
October 17, 2014
Backlash against the #Gamergate movement escalated several notches this week, thanks to high-profile newspaper reports and a public statement from the Entertainment Software Association. "Threats of violence and harassment are wrong," the ESA said. "They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community -- or our society -- for personal attacks and threats."
Debate Simmers Over Facebook, Apple Egg-Freezing Benefit
October 16, 2014
Facebook and Apple, companies already known for their generous employee benefits, are raising the bar even more by paying for egg-freezing services for their female employees. Facebook began covering up to $20,000 in these expenses at the start of the year, and Apple will beginning covering them at the start of next. At first blush, it seems to be a typical high-tech perk.
Wireless Carriers Could Take a Shine to Ad-Blocking
October 14, 2014
Shine Technologies may well upend the Net neutrality issue with the launch of AdSight, an ad-tracking product in development. AdSight reportedly will allow carriers to monitor the ads being delivered over their pipes. The data provided will be very granular, including who the ads are from and the level of individual ad impressions. The technology also will be able to block ads selectively.
The Double Irish Jig Is Up
October 14, 2014
Apple and other multinational companies that have been exploiting the notorious Double Irish tax loophole for years will have to look elsewhere for a comparable tax dodge. The Irish government's budget, presented on Tuesday by Finance Minister Michael Noonan, closes the loophole. The country's residency rules have been amended to require that all companies registered in Ireland be tax residents.
Snapchat Hackers Could Be Prosecuted for Child Porn Offenses
October 13, 2014
Private videos and pictures shared between tens of thousands of Snapchat users -- possibly as many as 200,000 -- were posted online by hackers over the weekend in an episode dubbed the "Snappening." Much of the content is sexual, including many nude photos -- some possibly of minors. The hackers appear to have gone for maximum embarrassment and humiliation with this particular breach.
When Computers Get a Right Brain
October 13, 2014
IBM is massively increasing its commitment to Watson, which was evident at last week's IBM Think Forum. IBM recognizes that if it can get a product that thinks first, then it can again take absolute control over the technology market, and every other company will be chasing it again. It is making some impressive headway, and the firm that succeeds at this will change the world.
Microsoft CEO Flip-Flops on Women Trusting Equal Pay to Karma
October 10, 2014
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has come under fire for comments he made on Thursday suggesting that women should trust in karma rather than ask for pay raises. "It's not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along," Nadella told a mostly female audience at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.
Tech Execs Issue Dire Warnings on Impact of NSA Surveillance
October 10, 2014
The NSA's wide-ranging surveillance of people's communications worldwide is hitting America's high-tech industry hard, said panelists on Wednesday at a roundtable held by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden in Palo Alto, California. Wyden set the tone from the start: "This is going to cost America jobs." Several foreign governments are planning to build domestic Internets.
One Way Around the Mobile Net Neutrality Conundrum
October 09, 2014
Verizon Wireless may be bitterly regretting the challenge Verizon made to the FCC's Net neutrality rules. There's little doubt competing wireless providers are. Verizon in 2010 sued the FCC over its mandate that ISPs treat all Internet data the same. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this year agreed with Verizon and struck down the rules. Now the FCC is putting it all back on the table.
AT&T Will Fork Over $80M for Mobile Cramming
October 09, 2014
AT&T Mobility will pay $80 million for refunds to consumers who were unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges in a practice known as "mobile cramming," the Federal Trade Commission announced on Wednesday. AT&T billed customers for hundreds of millions of dollars in subscription charges -- typically in increments of $9.99 per month -- levied by other companies.
Look, Ma! No Hands... Crunch!
October 08, 2014
Those wonderful hands-free communications capabilities now available in automobiles may carry the promise of making driving safer, but they're not fulfilling it, according to two studies conducted jointly by the University of Utah and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And forget about using your iPhone's Siri in the car, even hands-free -- it might endanger your life.
DEA Lifts Woman's Identity, Creates Fake Facebook Page
October 08, 2014
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reportedly co-opted a woman's identity to create a fake Facebook page as a ruse to investigate suspects. The agency posted racy pictures of the woman, then known as "Sondra Prince," as well as a photo of her young son and niece, to the sham page. The photos were taken from her cellphone, which DEA had seized when Prince was arrested in connection with a drug ring.
Systemd Dev Slams FOSS Culture
October 07, 2014
The open source community is "quite a sick place to be in," said Red Hat engineer and Systemd developer Lennart Poettering. "The open source community is full of [assh*les], and I probably more than most others am one of their most favorite targets," Poettering added. "I get hate mail for hacking on open source. People have started multiple 'petitions' .... asking me to stop working.
Feds Seek Advice on Privacy Tech Spending
October 07, 2014
Various U.S. government agencies have been conducting research on how best to meet the challenge of privacy in the digital age, with investigations of a wide range of technology issues including encryption, data tagging, sensors, healthcare records and clinical informatics. As useful as this research eventually may become, the fragmented nature of these efforts poses a problem.
The Importance of Being FOSS
October 06, 2014
It's a fact of life in virtually every community that there will be countless daily distractions -- news announcements, controversies, squabbles -- that take up the majority of our time and energy, leaving little for the big picture. The Linux community is no exception. That's why it was such a relief to see a post recently that struck directly to the core of all that is FOSS.
Intel Pulls Ads Under Pressure From Angry Antifeminist Gamers
October 06, 2014
Intel confirmed that it pulled its advertising from a gaming website and community hub after it received feedback from its customers. Intel takes customer feedback very seriously when it relates to contextually relevant content and placements, the company reportedly said. However, the fact that Intel pulled its ads from Gamasutra is just one part of a story that involved a coordinated campaign.
Apple Shrinks Market for Stolen iPhones
October 02, 2014
Apple on Thursday closed a gap in its efforts to combat mobile device theft with the announcement of a service for checking the Activation Lock status of its iPhone, iPad and iPod product lines. The Find My iPhone Activation Lock requires that an owner's Apple ID and passcode be entered into an iOS device before Find My iPhone can be turned off or the device can be erased or reactivated.

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