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Bet You Wish You'd Installed a Blender in a Cooler Lid
July 16, 2014
The hottest crowdsourced hit of the summer is the Coolest Cooler, an unassuming party cooler that features a built-in ice-crushing blender, a removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a USB charger, an LED lid light, a gear tie down, super wide wheels for dragging it over sand, a bottle opener, a divider to help keep your margarita ice separate from your sandwiches, and a knife built into the lid.
Comcast Rep Tears Into Fleeing Customer 'Like a Pit Bull on a Pork Chop'
July 15, 2014
Comcast on Tuesday was scrambling to repair the damage after a phone representative's rude treatment of a couple trying to disconnect their service went viral, thanks to a recording posted on the Web. The couple -- former Engadget editor Ryan Block, now at AOL, and his wife, TV host and writer Veronica Belmont -- called Comcast over the weekend and asked to cancel their service over the phone.
Is Firefox in a Fix?
July 14, 2014
It's been difficult to hear ourselves think here in the Linux blogosphere lately, what with all the distractions that have been thrown our way. We've had the NSA casting aspersions on Linux users; we've had the IRS looking askance at FOSS. We've even had the well-respected Tor Project sucked into a lawsuit over revenge porn, of all things. Ready for the latest?
Aereo Aims to Make Lemonade From Supreme Court's Lemons
July 11, 2014
After the Supreme Court appeared to deliver a death blow to Aereo, it has latched onto a part of the Court's decision in an effort to stay alive. The Court determined that Aereo flouted copyright rules by retransmitting programming without a license. Aereo let users watch broadcast TV over the Internet for a monthly fee. Its goal was to give consumers greater TV-viewing flexibility.
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.
Can I Get My Reputation Back?
July 09, 2014
Ray Donovan was U.S. Labor Secretary under Ronald Reagan and a colorful figure. During his tenure he was indicted by a Bronx, N.Y., grand jury on corruption charges stemming from a contract to build a subway line. The trial involved unions and the mob and was automatically sensational. The verdict turned on whether a construction company got a contract due to mob influence.
Europeans Want Right to Be Forgotten - but Not for the Other Guy
July 08, 2014
Marie Antoinette may not have been too far off the mark when she intoned the immortal line, "Let them eat cake." When it comes to the right to be forgotten, it seems Europeans want both to have their cake and eat it. They are now up in arms over Google's having deleted links to various news stories from search results in Europe, calling the action part of a backroom campaign to change the law.
Reading Rainbow Finds Pot of Gold
July 07, 2014
Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter campaign hit a significant milestone last week: It not only raised the $1 million it originally sought to create a Web version of the popular children's television show within the first 24 hours of the campaign, but also wrapped the 35-day effort with an additional $4.4 million for a grand total of $5,408,916 in donations. The project was organized by LeVar Burton.
'Extreme' Computing and Other Linux-World Problems
July 07, 2014
Well another Independence Day has come and gone here in the land of stars and stripes, causing at least some in the tech blogosphere to turn their thoughts toward freedom. "Digital independence day: Your guide to DIY, open-source, anonymous free computing" was one offering, for example. "It's Time for IT Pros to Declare Their Technology Freedom" was the thought du jour at another outlet.
The Social Media Fraud
July 07, 2014
I spent much of last week talking about Facebook's infamous study of nearly a million customers and the company's attempts to make half of those customers happier and the other half more depressed. Setting aside how insanely stupid it was for Facebook to do this is the fact that with social media, isn't social the real problem? Could the entire segment be a fraud?
Google's in the Mood for Songza
July 02, 2014
Google has acquired music-streaming service Songza, adding to its portfolio of streaming media properties. Songza provides custom music playlists intended to match whatever situation listeners find themselves in, effectively providing a fitting soundtrack to their lives. Users select playlists based on time of day, genre, current activity or ambiance.
Yahoo Saves Greendale in 'Community' Rescue
July 02, 2014
Fans of the sitcom Community have cause to celebrate after Yahoo renewed the show for a sixth season. Creator and showrunner Dan Harmon has signed on, along with seven core cast members. The season will have at least 13 episodes and will air weekly starting this fall. NBC ran the show, which centers on the fictional Greendale Community College, for five seasons before canceling it.
Emotional Backlash Unlikely to Unsettle Facebook
July 02, 2014
It's unlikely that Facebook's psych experiment that turned some 700,000 of its users into involuntary lab rats will hurt its brand or advertising revenue. However, Facebook's research on the emotional impact of content in the News Feeds of its members has unleashed a torrent of criticism. Facebook has faced this kind of outrage before, though, and the results have almost always been the same.
Land of the Free, or Home on the Open Range?
July 01, 2014
Here in the Linux community, there's never any shortage of opportunities to wax philosophical about the success of our favorite operating system. After all, the traditional -- read: proprietary -- model had nothing to do with it, strictly speaking, so FOSS fans can't be blamed for wanting to extol the virtues of the free and open source model instead.
Google Gives Orkut Users Eviction Notice
July 01, 2014
Google on Monday announced that it is bidding farewell to Orkut, its first attempt at a social network, which saw fair international success before Facebook took over the scene. Launched in 2004, Orkut provided a place for users to display profiles, hang out and connect with others. The site gained popularity outside the U.S., particularly in Brazil and India.
YouTube Adds More Tools to Creators' Belts
July 01, 2014
YouTube last week announced the addition of new bells and whistles for videographers, apparently to encourage them to create more high-quality content. Among the new tools is a creator studio smartphone app for viewing analytics and managing channels, among other things. An updated audio library offers thousands of royalty-free sound effects, along with more free songs.
Supreme Court Turns Deaf Ear to Google's Street View Appeal
June 30, 2014
The Supreme Court has declined Google's appeal of a lower-court ruling in a class-action lawsuit that alleges it violated federal wiretap laws with its Street View cars. The court left in place a decision the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down in September. The appeals court declined to dismiss the case, ruling that Google was not exempt from liability under the federal Wiretap Act.
Manipulative User Research Earns Facebook a Shiner
June 30, 2014
Once again, Facebook is embroiled in a controversy over privacy. This time, hackles have been raised by publication of a study for which the company manipulated the News Feeds of nearly 700,000 subscribers. The study concluded that negative messages on social networks make people sad, and positive ones make them happy -- and those feelings can spread through a social network to third parties.
In 'The Internet's Own Boy,' the Good Guy Doesn't Win
June 27, 2014
The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, a documentary directed and produced by Brian Knappenberger, is opening at theaters and online this weekend -- and re-opening wounds about the subject and his suicide. The film is a reminder that often the good guy doesn't win, said tech analyst Rob Enderle. "If you are going to fight this fight, be aware it will get really ugly."

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