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Mobile World Congress 2015, or Why Your Smartphone Is Crap
March 02, 2015
Don't you just love big industry events like Mobile World Congress? I mean, you've had whole weeks to enjoy the new phone you got last quarter, and now you'll hear about a bunch of incredibly wonderful stuff that will make that new phone look like your grandmother's favorite car -- you know, the one she fell in love with in the 1960s. Unfortunately, I'm not going to make things better.
Gadget Ogling: Scooting Around, Scratching Wood, Knocking on Doors
February 28, 2015
Even for someone endlessly in awe of our ability to traverse continents in just a few hours, traveling is increasingly a chore. Anything I can add to trips to make them even a touch more enjoyable is nothing to sniff at. A suitcase with a built-in, motorized scooter may be just what I need to freshen up journeys. Warning: It's carry-on size, but it's far beyond typical carry-on luggage weight.
Report: Most Insurance Customers Are Fed Up
February 27, 2015
If you dislike your insurance company, you are not alone: Worldwide, less than 30 percent of consumers have positive experiences in dealing with their insurers, according to Capgemini's World Insurance Report 2015. North America saw the largest decline in satisfaction -- 8.3 percentage points. Positive customer experience ratings for Generation Y fell the most in North America -- 10.9 percent.
FCC Comes Through on Net Neutrality
February 27, 2015
The FCC has adopted new open Internet rules by a 3-2 vote along party lines. The rules, which affect both wired and wireless access, prohibit broadband providers from unreasonably interfering with efforts of consumers and edge providers to reach each other. The Internet is "simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Government Spies Came Up Dry, Says Gemalto
February 26, 2015
SIM card maker Gemalto, whose networks reportedly were breached by hackers from the United States National Security Agency and the UK's GCHQ, on Wednesday said the spies got nothing. The hackers stole cryptokeys for millions of SIM cards, according to The Intercept, which cited documents released by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Gemalto denied any SIM cryptokeys had been stolen.
Malicious Emailers Find Healthcare Firms Juicy Prey
February 26, 2015
Healthcare providers have garnered growing interest from hackers in recent months. More evidence of that trend appeared last week in a report on email trust. An email that appeared to come from a healthcare company was four times more likely to be fraudulent than an email purportedly from a social media company like Facebook, one of the largest creators of email on the Internet, Agari found.
Customer Tech Support: Don't Go It Alone
February 26, 2015
You may have heard of a company called Geek Squad, but what about PlumChoice or SupportSpace? Even if you don't know their names, you may very well be doing business with them right now. Who are they? PlumChoice, SupportSpace are both relatively small companies that do business with larger companies, providing top-shelf tech support services to customers.
Court Sticks It to Apple in $533M Patent Case
February 25, 2015
Apple must pay patent licensing firm Smartflash US$532.9 million for infringing three patents. U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who presided over the case in Tyler, Texas, ordered Apple to pay the penalty after a federal jury in Texas found that the company's iTunes software infringed on the patent holder. That jury took eight hours to decide Apple willfully used Smartflash's patents without consent.
Net Neutrality: All Over but the Shouting?
February 25, 2015
After well over a year of bitter, often highly partisan debates, and despite dissension within its ranks and opposition from industry groups, the United States Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to vote in favor of rules enforcing Net neutrality. The commission wants to regulate ISPs like common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
Yahoo CISO, NSA Chief Slug It Out Over Security Backdoors
February 25, 2015
Yahoo CISO Alex Stamos on Monday confronted NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers over the United States government's plan to require built-in backdoors in hardware and software made by American companies. The exchange took place at the New America Foundation's cybersecurity conference. Building backdoors into cryptography is "like drilling a hole in the windshield," Stamos said.
Open Source vs. Proprietary Firms on the IoT Battleground
February 25, 2015
A battle is brewing over control of the Internet of Things marketplace. Consumers see only convenience and extensions to their always-on mobile devices. Product makers see a pathway to streaming data that can be monetized from buyers' connections. Will history repeat itself, as open source begins to take on the current, yet unsustainable, walled-garden core of the IoT?
FTC, Private Sector Lock Horns Over Consumer Data Protection
February 25, 2015
The major headline hacking event of 2014 involved data theft at a highly visible enterprise: Sony Pictures. Perhaps just as significant in e-commerce security was a 2014 federal court ruling which allows the FTC to continue penalizing commercial firms for failure to protect consumer data from hackers. That decision has been challenged, and in early March the FTC and its opponent will square off in court.
Google Puts Blogger Porn Under Wraps
February 25, 2015
Google will place a privacy curtain around sexually explicit images and video on its Blogger platform if users fail to remove the content of their own volition by March 23. The measure falls short of outright censoring the content or terminating users. However, it does restrict access to the owner or admins of the blog and the people with whom the owner has shared it.
How Apple Will Sell a Watch That No One Really Needs
February 24, 2015
There has been a lot of discussion lately of where and how Apple will sell the Apple Watch -- through high-end luxury department stores in Paris, for example, or through special new displays inside of Apple Stores, guided into existence by fashion genius Angela Ahrendts. Finding new ways to present the watch is important, but how will Apple actually trigger a buy decision?
Citizenfour's Oscar Highlights National Divide Over Snowden
February 24, 2015
Citizenfour, a film documenting interviews director Laura Poitras conducted with whistle-blower Edward Snowden, won the Oscar for best documentary Sunday. The talks took place as Snowden blew the lid off the United States National Security Agency's surveillance activities. The award highlights the divisions in the U.S. over Snowden's actions and the question of national security.
Government Spies Steal SIM Card Cryptokeys
February 23, 2015
The United States' National Security Agency and British spy agency GCHQ have hacked into the internal computer network of Gemalto, the world's largest maker of SIM cards, and stolen the cards' encryption keys, according to information in files leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Gemalto makes about 2 billion SIM cards a year, and sells them to 450 major wireless network carriers worldwide.
The Apple/Tesla Dream Team
February 23, 2015
We've seen a lot of speculation this week on the Apple car -- everything from Apple building its own car from scratch to its buying or merging with Tesla. Like many, I think the best path would be an Apple/Tesla combination, but since I doubt Tim would want to work for Musk or Musk for Tim, the only real option would be an office of the CEO for both firms.
AT&T Puts a Price on Privacy
February 23, 2015
Users who want to sign on to GigaPower by AT&T, the carrier's 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service that just become available in Kansas City, Missouri, have an interesting choice. They can pay $70 with the understanding that their online movements will be tracked for commercial purposes -- or they can pay an additional $29 a month to avoid the monitoring.
Gadget Ogling: Jewelry Gets Inky, Toys Get Brilliant, Remotes Get Beautiful
February 21, 2015
L!ber8's Tago Arc is aimed at the fashion conscious or those who like to use their jewelry to tell the world a little more about themselves. It has an e-ink screen, which is controlled using an NFC-enabled smartphone -- sorry, iPhone owners -- to let wearers switch up the design on the fly. Ordinary users can purchase a variety of looks, while budding Stella McCartneys can create their own.
Changing Sales Behaviors Through Creative Compensation
February 20, 2015
The idea of using incentives to drive business behaviors is not a new one. It happens in all areas of business, but it's most obvious in sales, where compensation is tied to performance. This is the most basic type of incentive, and it's used to get people who sell for a living to sell. However, other incentives can drive behaviors more complex than simply selling.
Google Rails Against Proposal to Give Feds Remote Hacking Authority
February 20, 2015
Google is fighting a proposed amendment to Rule 41 of the U.S. Criminal Code that might allow authorities to hack into computers abroad. The amendment seeks to empower a magistrate in a district where activities related to a crime may have occurred to issue a warrant for remote search of computers, as well as seizure or copying of their files, under certain circumstances.
A123 Lawsuit Asserts Apple in Cahoots With Its Ex-Engineer
February 20, 2015
Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems earlier this week filed a lawsuit against Apple in a Massachusetts Superior Court in Middlesex County. A123 also sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop its former employee, Mujeeb Ijaz, from violating his non-disclosure and non-compete agreement. Ijaz had moved to Apple to apply his skills as an auto-battery engineer.
Making Sense of the Muddled In-Home Entertainment Market
February 20, 2015
The global access and entertainment services marketplace continues its pace of dramatic change, as broadband services achieve new levels of penetration and speed worldwide. Emerging markets are experiencing rapid growth, as many homes obtain high-speed broadband services for the first time. Pay TV is seeing a similar pattern in global growth.
LoopPay Deal Rolls Samsung Into Mobile Pay Arena
February 19, 2015
Samsung has purchased mobile payments firm LoopPay to create its own digital wallet. LoopPay's contactless magnetic secure transmission technology works with magnetic stripe readers. "The one major advantage LoopPay/Samsung has over NFC and Google/Apple Pay is that currently it does not require a separate terminal to accept payments," noted Copper Mobile's Andrew Stern.

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