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The Pichai Era: Google's New Age of Innocence?
August 13, 2015
"A" is for new Google parent company "Alphabet," for Sundar Pichai's "ascension" to CEO, and for a slimmed-down search engine company that seeks to become more "agile." Consumers may wonder if that "A" also stands for "altruism." Pichai's work ethic and congeniality helped drive his ascension to the top, and he'll need both to redirect the mounting mistrust of Google -- his greatest challenge yet.
Qualcomm Ups the Ante With Next-Gen Processor Innovations
August 12, 2015
Qualcomm on Wednesday unveiled its Adreno 5xx GPU architecture next-generation visual processing technology and its 14-bit Spectra image signal processing unit at SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles. The first two GPUs to use the new architecture, the Adreno 530 and 510, will be integrated in Qualcomm's forthcoming Snapdragon 820 and 620/618 processors. The Snapdragon 820 also will feature the 14-bit ISP.
Feds Break Up Hacker-Powered Insider Trading Ring
August 12, 2015
In two indictments unsealed by the U.S. Department of Justice in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Newark, N.J., nine people were charged in federal court with carrying out an international scheme to hack into three business newswires, steal yet-to-be published press releases, and use them to make trades that generated approximately $30 million in illegal profits.
Everybody Can Run - Not Walk - to the Rapture
August 12, 2015
With the post-apocalyptic adventure game Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, Sony may have a cult classic on its hands. The PlayStation 4 exclusive became available Tuesday. The Chinese Room, a game development studio that previously worked exclusively on PC and Mac titles, developed Everybody's Gone to the Rapture with the support of Sony and SCE's Santa Monica Studio.
Chinese Hackers May Have Burrowed Into Airlines
August 11, 2015
The China-based hacking team that has been infiltrating U.S. government and business computer systems appears to be behind two newly discovered attacks -- this time on travel reservation processor Sabre and American Airlines. Sabre confirmed that its systems -- which contain sensitive records on as many as a billion travelers -- recently were breached. American Airlines is investigating.
Now Google Knows Its ABCs
August 11, 2015
Google on Monday announced a restructuring that will make it a wholly owned subsidiary of a new umbrella company called "Alphabet." Product Chief Sundar Pichai will take over as CEO of Google, while Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergei Brin will be CEO and president, respectively, of Alphabet. Pichai "is ... the right person to lead the core Google search effort," said Covestor's Barry Randall.
The Best Videos on Facebook Could Be Stolen Property
August 11, 2015
Facebook has stolen videos for display on its site, alleged Hank Green of VlogBrothers. A whopping 725 of the 1,000 most popular videos on Facebook in Q1 were freebooted -- that is, re-uploaded to the social media network without authorization -- he said, citing a report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs. Those 725 videos accounted for about 17 billion views in the quarter, Green noted.
Hacker Demos $30 Gizmo That Unlocks Keyless Car, Garage Doors
August 11, 2015
Infamous security researcher Sammy Kamkar last week demonstrated a gadget that can intercept wireless signals to unlock cars and garage doors. Kamkar showed off the device, which cost him just $32 to make, at the DefCon conference in Las Vegas. RollJam works with a wide array of motor vehicles -- including Nissan, Cadillac, Ford, Toyota, Lotus, Volkswagen and Chrysler, according to Kamkar.
IBM to Buy Watson a Pair of Eyes
August 10, 2015
IBM last week announced a $1 billion deal to acquire Merge Health, a provider of enterprise imaging and clinical system, with the goal of giving the supercomputer "eyes." There are compelling synergies in the marriage of Merge's medical imaging and IBM's notable resources in analytics, cloud and cognitive computing, noted Jon Peddie Research's Kathleen Maher.
Gadget Ogling: Bacteria-Zapping Toasters, a Clicker for Cortana and Souped-Up Printers
August 8, 2015
In truth, the Nico Gerard Skyview Pinnacle is more an accessory than a gadget, but it's so repugnant and ridiculous that it's impossible not to include it this week. Someway, somehow, watchmaker Nico Gerard found it prudent to create a watch that can accommodate an Apple Watch on its band, mounted where the clasp is located. It starts at $9,300. The Pinnacle is colossally absurd.
Teens Find Real Friends in the Online Jungle
August 7, 2015
Teens have been using digital media to create bonds that extend well beyond playing games or tweeting, according to a study Pew Research released Thursday. Along with likes and shares and tags and retweets have come beefing, berating, trolling and blocking. Although a lot of social activity appears superficial, that's not always the case. Some long-term friendships have been forged online.
Google on Universal Right to Be Forgotten: Fuhgeddaboudit
August 7, 2015
Google last week asked French regulators to withdraw a demand to universally delist from search results links to information about French citizens who wish to be forgotten on the Internet. Any European can ask to have certain links about them removed from search results that appear in Europe, and Google will grant those requests if they meet specific criteria.
Lexus' Fancy Board Really Hovers, but It's Just for Show
August 6, 2015
Lexus on Tuesday presented the final video reveal of its Hoverboard as part of its Amazing in Motion campaign. Set to the sounds of Rudimental, pro skater Ross McGouran cruises around a Barcelona skate park on the Lexus Hoverboard. "I've spent 20 years skateboarding, but without friction it feels like I've had to learn a whole new skill," McGouran said.
Bring On the New Apple TV - Streaming Service or Not
August 5, 2015
I've been waiting for a new Apple TV from Apple for years, and I've been disappointed each time a major Apple event came and went without one. Plus, I've been waiting for Apple to come along and disrupt the cable/satellite TV bundling status quo with some sort of a la carte streaming service, also to no avail. Now I don't think that second wish matters much at all.
Microsoft Aims to Meet Gamers' Great Expectations
August 5, 2015
Microsoft on Tuesday launched the Rare Replay collection -- the best games lineup in Xbox History, according to Xbox Chief Phil Spencer -- at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. Even some loyal Xbox fans might disagree with that proclamation, but Microsoft attempted to back up its assertion with a content-rich presentation bedazzled with exclusive games.
Autodesk's Stingray Gets Into Video Game Guts
August 4, 2015
Tired of serving as just a pretty face, Autodesk on Monday announced that it's putting its muscle into the business of making video games. The new Stingray engine, introduced at the Game Developers Conference, pulls together Autodesk's efforts in the games space. Stringray is a cross-platform engine that supports Xbox One, PlayStation 4, the Oculus Rift, Windows, Android and iOS.
Gadget Ogling: Useful Smartwatches, Orbital Cameras, and an Un-Procrastinator
August 1, 2015
Dot is a smartwatch that may have life-changing implications. Rather than trying to convey information through tiny text on a small screen, Dot intends to provide visually impaired wearers with notifications through Braille. Four sets of the six dots that signify characters in the Braille system raise and lower as quickly as 100 times per second to denote four characters simultaneously.
Angry Birds 2: Freemium Clips Its Wings
July 31, 2015
Angry Birds 2 -- the 13th installment of Angry Birds and the original game's first proper sequel -- on Thursday became available for iOS and Android. The free-to-play model is a call to players beyond its base. However, those new players may slip through developer Rovio's fingers if the game's features fail to motivate them to play with real money
Commerce Dept. Caves on Security Export Rules
July 30, 2015
Some proposed federal rules on the export of security tools created a tumult in cybersecurity circles -- a tumult that's pushed the rules into limbo. The comment period for the rules, which the U.S. Department of Commerce first aired in May, ended July 20 -- and although the regulations have noble intentions, they also could have dire consequences.
Consumers Fret Over Health Wearables Security
July 29, 2015
Collecting health and fitness data through wearable devices is raising concerns among consumers about the security of that information. Twenty-five percent of more than 3,500 consumers who participated in a recent survey did not believe their personal health data was safe on fitness trackers or in health-tracking apps, reported Healthline -- and that number could be low.
AI, Robotics Wonks Urge Autonomous Weapons Ban
July 28, 2015
Leading artificial intelligence and robotics experts have issued an open letter arguing against the development of autonomous weapons. Its publication coincides with the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, which ends Friday in Buenos Aires. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is "virtually inevitable," the letter says.
Nintendo's Sleep Monitor Is More Than a Dream
July 28, 2015
A patent application published last week has revealed more information about Nintendo's plans to build out its hardware ecosystem with contactless sleep monitoring technology. The device will assess individuals' emotions by using array of microphones and cameras to keep track of the noises and movements they make while getting some shuteye, according to the description in the patent application.
What To Do if Your Car Tries to Kill You
July 27, 2015
The scary news last week was that a couple of guys demonstrated they could hack into a Jeep and take control of it. Later, more details came out that suggested you might want to avoid Chrysler cars altogether. The industry appears to be waiting for the first major catastrophic accident before putting resources into fixing this problem at the proper level.
Citibank Dinged $700M for Scamming Credit Card Customers
July 27, 2015
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last week ordered Citibank and its subsidiaries to pay about $700 million in relief to eligible consumers and a $35 million civil penalty for, in essence, scamming consumers into paying for unwanted credit card add-on products and services. This is the 10th action the bureau has undertaken against banks for deceiving consumers.

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The publication of Ashley Madison members' information online...
Is fine with me -- they're cheaters who got what they deserved.
Is a vicious crime, and the hackers should be caught and punished.
Is a frightening sign of the times -- no one and nothing is safe online.
Has nothing to do with me, and I couldn't care less.