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Facebook Internet Project: The Skies Have It
March 31, 2014
Facebook last week announced more detailed plans to bring affordable Internet access to every person on the planet. Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, revealed some fresh details about the work Facebook's Connectivity Lab is carrying out to build drones, satellites and lasers geared to providing connectivity for everyone as part of the Internet.org initiative.
US Judge: Free Speech Protects Baidu's Beijing-OK'd Results
March 28, 2014
A Manhattan judge ruled that a Chinese search engine's practice of restricting free speech is, wouldn't you know it, protected by free speech. Chinese Internet company Baidu won the dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit filed by activists who objected to its, shall we say, selective search results, which adhere to the government's notoriously limited view of what is and isn't acceptable.
Bitcoin Fans Rejoice in IRS Ruling
March 27, 2014
The U.S. will tax bitcoin and other virtual currencies as property, the IRS said Tuesday. Virtual currency will be treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes, and transactions in virtual currency will be subject to general tax principles. Taxpayers who receive virtual currency as payment for goods or services must calculate that payment at the currency's fair market value in U.S. dollars.
Microsoft Launches Public Cloud in China
March 27, 2014
Microsoft is now offering general availability of its Azure cloud service in China, becoming the first multinational company to provide public cloud services in the Middle Kingdom. Microsoft is partnering with 21Vianet, a Chinese data center services provider, a marriage that likely helped appease Beijing officials. Until now, all major cloud providers in China have been Chinese.
Bioprinting, Part 2 - The Ethical Conundrum
March 27, 2014
Nearly 120,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list for an organ transplant that may save their lives, according to the American Transplant Foundation. "In the short term, we need many more people to register to be a potential organ donor," said Jordan Miller, assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice University.
Is Google Thwarting Android-x86 Development?
March 26, 2014
Has Google been spreading FUD to discourage computer makers from using an Android OS retooled to run on legacy computers? The maintainer of the Android-x86 Project has suggested that the Justice Department should investigate whether Google has been interfering with adoption of the open source code his community is developing. The FOSS development world is hardly free of rivalry and power plays.
Obama, Legislators Tackle Bulk Surveillance Issue
March 25, 2014
The political frenzy over the NSAy's collection of Americans' bulk telephone metadata is escalating, with both the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee announcing plans to introduce legislation to regulate the practice. The White House's proposal reportedly would require phone companies to store the data and provide it under a court order.
China Seeks Answers About NSA/Huawei Report
March 25, 2014
China's government is asking the U.S. to explain itself -- and to knock it off with all the cyberespionage -- following reports that the National Security Agency has had its way with Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The NSA reportedly penetrated Huawei servers to monitor communications among company executives, and to gain access to the dealings of Huawei customers.
Twitter Bags Encryption Program
March 25, 2014
Twitter rose to notoriety by being the place where people spilled the minutiae of their lives, but there are times when its users don't want everyone online to see what they're thinking. For those occasions, there's direct messaging. When direct messages are sent by one tweeter to another, there's a certain expectation of privacy there -- even though little is done to protect those messages.
Rumor vs. Reality in Silicon Valley, Part 1
March 25, 2014
Like most small, inbred communities, Silicon Valley encourages and thrives on gossip, even when it's of little substance. In popular-speak, Valley gossip has a "low signal to noise ratio," but the rumor mill is vibrantly alive despite that shortcoming -- partly due to venture capitalists, whose efforts parallel the day-to-day business of technology.
An Indecent Proposal: Microsoft and Red Hat?
March 24, 2014
Good ideas can arise in virtually countless ways, but sometimes all it takes is someone to ask the simple question, "What if?" That, in fact, is just what happened in an article at GigaOM recently, though it wasn't until several weeks later that the idea proposed began to pick up steam. What was said idea, you might ask? "Why Microsoft should just pack it in and buy Red Hat."
Microsoft Does Some Scroogling to Catch a Thief
March 24, 2014
Microsoft, which has been mocking Google's searching of Gmail subscribers' emails with its "Scroogled" campaign, is fielding criticism for having itself searched the email of a Hotmail user. The search was conducted after Microsoft found that an employee, Alex Kibkalo, who worked for it in Lebanon, had stolen proprietary code and shared it with the Hotmail user, who is a blogger.
NSA Lifts Middle Finger to Middle Kingdom
March 24, 2014
Oh, there have been some good National Security Agency revelations. Like the one about the NSA tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone. Or the one about the NSA planting agents inside World of Warcraft, or impersonating Facebook in a global quest to spread malware. Delicious as all those stories are, however, last weekend's NSA bombshell may take the cake.
Netflix, Comcast Spar Over Net Neutrality
March 24, 2014
Although they previously came to an arrangement regarding stronger broadband service delivery, Netflix and Comcast last week sparred over the issue of Net neutrality in a public forum. Net neutrality -- or "open Internet" -- is the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers and governments. ISPs should not give preferential treatment.
Haunted Empire - Biased Author or Biased Readers?
March 24, 2014
What really surprises me about the book Haunted Empire, which predicts the decline of Apple, isn't that Apple fans don't like it. That's a given -- Apple fans only want positive books and stories. It is the level of effort that has gone into killing it, and how much that apparently has accelerated sales. There is an old saying: The only thing better than bad publicity is no publicity.
Chinese State Media Prompts Amazon to Close Store
March 21, 2014
China's state media seems to have the ear of U.S. tech companies. Amazon's China unit closed down a third-party store after state media criticized Amazon for selling fake cosmetics. Amazon's China unit took the accusations seriously, it said, promising to "strengthen the process of scrutiny." The fake-product accusations were floated on China Central Television.
Earth Narrowly Missed Solar Blasts in 2012
March 20, 2014
Enormous solar blasts, which possessed the potential to wreak havoc on electrical grids and satellites, barely missed Earth in 2012. The near-misses, revealed by researchers Wednesday, would have been akin to the 1859 Carrington Event, the largest solar storm ever recorded. While there were no satellites to cripple back then, the storm knocked out telegraph systems across the U.S.
Why Didn't Fliers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Call or Text?
March 20, 2014
There has been quite a bit of speculation on the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but many important questions have not been answered. One that many people are wondering about is this: Why didn't anyone on board that plane call or text message anyone? During the last week I have appeared on many news shows -- NBC, CNN with Wolf Blitzer, FOX News with Megyn Kelly, and an assortment of others.
Report: NSA Listens to International Calls From the Past
March 19, 2014
The National Security Agency reportedly possesses a system that enables it to record telephone calls -- all telephone calls -- in a foreign country, and review conversations for up to a month after they took place. The system is said to be akin to a time machine, allowing for retroactive snooping on foreign targets. Billions of calls are stored in a 30-day rolling buffer.
Horvath Hurls Harassment Charges in Fiery GitHub Exit
March 17, 2014
Adding fuel to the debate over the treatment of women in tech, Julie Ann Horvath, a developer at GitHub, has stormed out of her job, accusing the company of ignoring harassment in the workplace. One of the company's three cofounders and his wife had persistently intimidated her, and an engineer had repeatedly ripped out her code after she turned down his advances, Horvath claimed.

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