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Thursday - December 18, 2014
minecraft-story-mode
Minecraft's story will begin unfolding next year, and the game's fans will drive the narrative. There could be "lots of contradictory things thrown out there before they settle on something cool," said gaming analyst Lewis Ward, but "from a marketing standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world for the community to be catered to on the level of, 'you guys are going to write this.'" [More...]

Thursday - December 18, 2014
Privacy's future appears muddy at best, judging from a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center. More than 2,500 Internet experts and analysts were narrowly divided on whether policy makers and technology innovators would create a secure, popularly accepted and trusted privacy-rights infrastructure by 2025. [More...]

Thursday - December 18, 2014
bmw-self-parking-car
BMW has come up with an electronic version of slapping your horse on the rump and sending it off -- and then whistling when you need your ride again. Its Remote Valet Parking Assistant doesn't do all the driving for you, but it does relieve you of one of its most tedious aspects: parking the car. Just don't let your smartwatch battery wear down, or you may have to whistle to get it back. [More...]

Wednesday - December 17, 2014
sony-interview-cancellations-rogen-franco-kim-jong-un-north-korea
The Interview may be a huge exception to Hollywood's rule that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Moviegoers may not be curious enough about the comedy to risk becoming victims of a terrorist attack -- whether carried out by North Korea, the Guardians of the Peace, or some crazy person who's caught up in the uproar. Maybe Sony should try an online launch or send it straight to DVD. [More...]

Wednesday - December 17, 2014
A group of some 150 companies last week moved closer to eliminating the bane of many an online user: the ubiquitous password. The FIDO Alliance, which counts among its members Microsoft, PayPal, Google, Bank of America, Visa and MasterCard, released version 1.0 of its open specifications for strong authentication on the Internet without the use of passwords. [More...]

Wednesday - December 17, 2014
google-cardboard-virtual-reality
Google's Cardboard virtual reality viewer would have been a worthy April Fool's Day joke, but the cheap gizmo actually works, and developers actually are working to create content for it that goes beyond gimmickry. "Google Cardboard and its SDK open up possibilities for any developer to be the one that brings a unique experience to VR," noted Strategy Analytics' Eric Smith. [More...]

Tuesday - December 16, 2014
skype-translate
Microsoft has launched a new tool that could make the world smaller than ever. The Skype Translator so far only works with the English and Spanish languages, but others likely will be added over time. One of the biggest concerns over this service is accuracy. "How could someone detect or catch it if a mistake is made in the translation?" wondered San Diego State professor Mark Ballam. [More...]

Tuesday - December 16, 2014
On behalf of Sony Pictures Entertainment, high-powered attorney David Boies has sent a letter to several news outlets demanding that they refrain from publishing stories based on material hackers recently stole from the company and that they destroy the pilfered data. The letter to the news organizations claims the stolen information is "protected under U.S. and foreign legal doctrines." [More...]

Monday - December 15, 2014
The Internet should be a basic human right, but access to it is increasingly unequal around the globe, said World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee last week. The Web has the potential to be a great equalizer, he asserted, but only "if we hard-wire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and Net neutrality into the rules of the game." [More...]

Monday - December 15, 2014
This has been an interesting quarter. After Andy Grove left, Intel often seemed to struggle with its place in the world and seemed at odds with the computing OEMs. Now, though, it seems more and more like it did when it was 20 years younger. It's not alone, either. Microsoft, which seemed to have forgotten why there were OEMs, suddenly is acting much more like the firm we knew in the early 90s. [More...]

Saturday - December 13, 2014
aura-wireless-christmas-tree-lights
One holiday tradition that would be easy to give up would be the obligatory untangling of the tree lights. Aura has come up with a wireless lighting solution that dispenses with jumbles of cords, missing and broken bulbs and burned-out fuses. Also, you get to place each bulb just where you'd like it. It's a nice idea, though some more established lighting firm may go one better and eclipse Aura. [More...]

Friday - December 12, 2014
iowa-drivers-license-mobile-app
Iowa will be the first state in the U.S. to allow drivers to display their license on a mobile device instead of the traditional plastic card. The plan has raised some concerns over privacy, security, and even the physical safety of drivers who might be suspected of reaching for a gun when all they're doing is grabbing their phone. The Iowa DoT intends to develop a plan to address those and other issues. [More...]

Friday - December 12, 2014
Apple and IBM have delivered the first batch of enterprise-class apps for iOS, rolling out 10 apps that cover key industry verticals like banking and finance, travel and transportation, retail, insurance, telco and government. The companies have pledged to deliver more than 100 such apps. The apps are the first proof point in the "unprecedented" partnership. [More...]

Friday - December 12, 2014
google-play-myfitnesspal-netflix-frozen-gear
Netflix, where House of Cards rides high, was the top-ranked entertainment app on Google Play in 2014. MyFitnessPal ranked first among health apps, and Facebook scored as the top social network. Frozen claimed No. 1 among movies, and its soundtrack was the top-selling album. The Walking Dead led the TV pack, suggesting Google Play's audience is nothing if not diverse. [More...]

SPOTLIGHT ON SECURITY
No Respite for Sony
Friday - December 12, 2014
Since the hacker group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" announced its attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment late last month, things have gone downhill for the company. After confidential documents were leaked to the Internet over several days, a denouement of sorts was reached last week, when a security company examining the stolen data discovered nearly 50,000 Social Security numbers. [More...]

Thursday - December 11, 2014
The Pirate Bay, which was closed down following a raid by Swedish police on Tuesday, appears to have found safe haven on a Costa Rican domain. The site, which gained notoriety for hosting pirated movies and music files, has been raided repeatedly by the Swedish police. Its founders have been arrested and convicted of copyright infringement, and two are currently behind bars. [More...]

Wednesday - December 10, 2014
blackphone-app-store
The Blackphone -- a smartphone dedicated to private communications -- likely won't gain much traction outside of a niche base of users. Still, if it's to be of much use to them, it needs to run apps that are just as privacy-minded. Blackphone intends to open its own app store in order to fill that need. Whether it can stock its shelves and attract customers are the big questions. [More...]

Wednesday - December 10, 2014
The United States National Security Agency, which is known for monitoring landline, Web and cellphone communications worldwide, reportedly also targets wireless carriers. Documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA has monitored more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators worldwide since 2010. [More...]

Tuesday - December 9, 2014
facebook-search
Facebook finally has made it possible to use keywords to search its database for a particular post, vastly increasing the usefulness of the site. The move is "long overdue," said Ignite Social Media's Jim Tobin. "Graph Search never really reached its potential ... . When you have billions of pieces of content, not being able to find them is a usability problem." [More...]

Tuesday - December 9, 2014
samsung-gear-vr
Samsung is offering a virtual reality headset that mainstream users might find both affordable and entertaining -- if they could obtain enough content to make it worthwhile. "The real weakness of VR at this point isn't hardware-based," noted IDC's Lewis Ward. "It's software- and content-based. There's nowhere near enough content for Gear VR or any other VR headset platform to hit critical mass." [More...]

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