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FTC Goes After Amazon for Fleecing Kids
July 11, 2014
The FTC has filed suit against Amazon over billing kids for unauthorized in-app purchases that in many cases they did not know they had made. The suit accuses Amazon of violating Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. The FTC is seeking a court order requiring Amazon to refund victims for the unauthorized charges.
New IoT Group to Get Devices Talking Among Themselves
July 11, 2014
Half a dozen companies this week launched the Open Interconnect Consortium to define the connectivity requirements and improve the interoperability of the 200 billion devices that will make up the Internet of Things by 2020. The consortium aims to define a common communications framework based on industry standard technologies, regardless of form factor, operating system or service provider.
Nadella Spells Out Microsoft's Bold Ambitions
July 10, 2014
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Thursday mapped out his vision for the company's future, emphasizing cloud and mobile computing, in a letter to all employees. "More recently, we have described ourselves as a 'devices and services' company. While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy," Nadella wrote.
Report: NSA Stalked Prominent Muslim Americans
July 10, 2014
It's been known for years that the U.S. National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have targeted Muslim Americans. What hasn't been widely known is that their targets included lawyers and some who have served the United States at the highest levels. Five highly prominent Muslim Americans were listed on an NSA spreadsheet called "FISA recap."
TSA Kills Dead Devices' Ticket to Ride
July 08, 2014
In a move that's bound to raise the power management consciousness of air travelers, the TSA on Sunday announced a ban on electronic devices that won't power up before they're carried onto a plane. During the security examination conducted by TSA officers before passengers board a plane, travelers may be asked to power up some electronic devices, the agency said.
Blackbaud Weaves New Data Services Into eTapestry
July 07, 2014
Blackbaud recently upgraded its cloud-based eTapestry fundraising application with tools addressing what seems to be a perennial problem in CRM -- dirty data. The ultimate goal of the upgrades for the application, which is designed for nonprofits, is to improve the quality of donor information. The upgrade does that via two new enhancements integrated from Blackbaud's Target Analytics division.
NSA's Eyes Trained Less on Terrorists Than on Average Joes and Janes
July 07, 2014
Nine out of 10 people whose information is being collected by the NSA are Americans who have nothing to do with people targeted by the agency. Data provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden includes some information pertaining to terrorist activities and possible threats to U.S. national security, as well as a few successes in antiterrorist work.
Civil Liberties Board Takes Heat for NSA Spying Report
July 03, 2014
The U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has come under fire for its latest report on NSA surveillance. The report essentially says collection of information under Section 702 of FISA "has been valuable and effective in protecting the nation's security and producing useful foreign intelligence." However, because certain aspects of its implementation have raised privacy concerns.
Dell's Latitude 12 E7240 - in and Beyond the Office
July 03, 2014
A confluence of recent events has gotten me thinking about laptops. First, IDC and Gartner released PC market surveys that suggest a significant slowing in the declines plaguing PC sales for the past few years. Then last week, due to "stronger than expected demand for business PCs," Intel said it was raising Q2 and full-year revenue and gross margin expectations.
T-Mobile's Legere Sputters Over FTC's Cramming Accusations
July 02, 2014
T-Mobile's efforts to market itself as the un-carrier that puts customers first may be impacted by the FTC's allegations that it has engaged in "cramming" -- charging consumers for services offered by third-party companies without their knowledge or consent. T-Mobile's fiery CEO, John Legere, dismissed the FTC complaint as "unfounded and without merit."
Salesforce.com, Philips Launch Health Cloud Revolution
July 01, 2014
Salesforce and Philips last week announced they had teamed up on a cloud computing initiative designed to transform existing healthcare platforms. The companies plan to create an open cloud-based healthcare platform that will allow everyone from software developers to health insurance companies to connect and exchange information via Salesforce's health cloud.
Google's GAL Makes Glowing I/O Debut
June 27, 2014
One of the many notable things to come out of Google's I/O conference this week was the announcement that 40 new auto industry companies representing 25 brands had joined the Open Automotive Alliance, which Google formed earlier this year. Google also unveiled Google Automotive Link, or GAL, which works like Apple's Carplay, along with an Android Auto software development kit.
Red Hat's Acquisition-Fueled Climb to the Cloud
June 26, 2014
Red Hat is famous for focusing squarely on a market and technology and building success from there, as it did with Linux. However, the company increasingly has diverged from its roots and historical laser focus on the enterprise x86 server market. The overarching theme and identity of Red Hat is still open source software, but the main driver for the company clearly is now cloud computing.
Show Season Observations
June 25, 2014
Not that the shows ever end, but as I regain my spot on the ground, I have a few observations from the many shows that I have been to or read about over the last eight weeks. First, if you think that cloud platforms are simply a nice alternative to software licenses, you should think again. It's human nature to apply new technologies to old problems, and that's what such an approach really does.
No Unanimity in Reactions to SC's Unanimous Software Patent Decision
June 25, 2014
When the U.S. Supreme Court issues a unanimous decision, it's easy to conclude that it must be right on the facts, right on the law, and right in applying the law to the facts. So what's not to like about its recent 9-0 ruling in a software patent case? The decision was spot-on -- or at least nearly spot-on, according to Victoria Espinel, president and CEO of the Business Software Alliance.
Five9 Adds Social, Mobile to Its Cloud Call Center Repertoire
June 23, 2014
Five9 has introduced Summer Release 2014, the latest version of its cloud contact center software. The company's first major release since its 8.1 launch last year, it follows Five9's acquisition of SoCoCare, a social engagement and mobile customer care provider. SoCoCare's feature set is part of the basis for the new release. As a result, Summer Release 2014 is now a multichannel desktop app.
Tide Turns in Favor of Crime-Fighting Smartphone Kill Switches
June 23, 2014
In the wake of overwhelming evidence that the kill switch Apple introduced in iOS 7 last year has reduced iPhone thefts, Google and Microsoft have agreed to follow suit. SF D.A. George Gascon and NY A.G. Eric Schneiderman, who have spearheaded the battle to implement smartphone kill switches, last week announced that the next versions of Android and Windows Phone will include a kill switch.
White House Tilts Toward Public-Private Cybersecurity Cooperation
June 23, 2014
The Obama administration and the private sector -- often at odds over the regulation of everything from telecom issues to software protection to the environment -- apparently agree that a major issue dealing with cybersecurity should be addressed on a cooperative basis, largely free of federal regulation. The White House recently signaled its tilt toward a cooperative and voluntary approach.
The Amazon Fire Phone's Mayday Effect
June 20, 2014
Amazon unveiled its Fire Phone this week, sparking wide interest, if not acclaim. The Fire Phone comes with some innovative features: a dynamic perspective display made possible by six cameras that track the user's head and eye movements; and Firefly, an intelligent assistant that can give Apple's Siri a serious run for its money. Then there is Mayday, a support service feature.
The Maker Faire Gets the Obama Bump
June 19, 2014
Hopeful tinkerers and entrepreneurs gathered Wednesday on the White House lawn to showcase their innovative ideas at the Maker Faire. The Maker Faire brings together students, educators, artists, engineers and innovators who have an invention or an idea about how to make something. Billed as "The Greatest Show (and Tell) On Earth," the Maker Faire got its start in the Bay Area.

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