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EFF Launches Write-to-Congress Tool
July 17, 2015
Email has made communicating with elected officials easy, but a new tool from the Electronic Frontier Foundation is going to make it easier yet. Democracy.io allows you to send an electronic missive to your U.S. representative and senators with a minimum of clicks. Typically, you'd have to go to your legislators' websites separately to make your views known.
Google May Goose Mobile Device Impulse Buys
July 15, 2015
Google on Wednesday announced that it is giving tablet and smartphone users more purchase options in an effort to respond to shoppers' "micro moments." Mobile devices influenced about 28 percent of in-store sales in the U.S. last year, noted Jonathan Alferness, vice president of product management for Google Shopping. However, "it's way too hard to buy things on your phone," he added.
Social Networks Funneling More News
July 15, 2015
News consumption on Facebook and Twitter has increased significantly in the last two years, according to a report from the Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation. Sixty-three percent of Twitter and Facebook members surveyed said they got news from those social networks. For Twitter, that's an 11 point increase from 2013, when 52 percent of its members said they got news there.
Flash Furor Grows Despite Adobe's Latest Fix
July 15, 2015
Three new vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player have been reported over the past two weeks, triggering a storm of protest and leading Mozilla and Google to ban the plug-in from their Firefox and Chrome browsers. "It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day," Facebook CSO Alex Stamos tweeted Sunday.
Waiting for the Internet of Things
July 14, 2015
Despite all the attention being given to the extraordinary opportunities promised by the Internet of Things, many software and technology vendors are still waiting for demand to match the predictions. Security concerns are the most common inhibitor to IoT initiatives, industry surveys suggest, but a number of other factors likely are getting in the way of IoT deployments as well.
Haters Force Leadership Change at Reddit
July 13, 2015
The haters have won at Reddit, forcing the ouster of interim CEO Ellen Pao and her replacement by cofounder Steve Huffman. Board member Sam Altman, who led a $50 million investment round in the firm, on Saturday announced Pao's resignation and Huffman's appointment, lashing out at the campaign against Pao. It was "sickening" to see some of the things Redditors wrote about Pao, he said.
Tech Tools to Make Your Next Move Less Painful
July 13, 2015
My wife and I just completed a move from California to Oregon, and it was far less painful than it could have been, thanks to technology. It used to be incredibly painful to move. While a lot of the pain is still there, technology has advanced a lot since we last moved -- about 18 years ago -- and at least some parts of the process now are far easier.
Microsoft's New Groove
July 12, 2015
Microsoft's Music app, formerly known as "Xbox Music," will sport a makeover when it arrives rebranded in Windows 10 as "Groove," the company announced earlier this week. Groove's dancing partner will be the all-new Movies & TV app. "Groove Music Pass" will replace "Xbox Music Pass" as the name of the $10-a-month premium streaming service. The apps will be a go on July 29.
Facebook Gives News Feed a Tune-Up
July 10, 2015
Facebook on Thursday slammed the hood, wiped its hands, and introduced the latest set of upgrades to its News Feed engine. The all-new 2015 Facebook News Feed gives users more control over the content they see when they cruise the world's largest social network. The new tools allow users to set their top friends, and content from those accounts will be given preference over others.
Raging Redditors Roar for Pao's Resignation
July 7, 2015
More than 208,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao to step down. Many Redditers fear Pao will run Reddit into the ground, the petition claims, noting that alternative sites have sprung up in recent months and received vast amounts of traffic. The immediate cause of the unrest was last week's dismissal of Victoria Taylor, Reddit's director of talent.
Is Isolating the Internet Key to Bulletproof Security?
July 7, 2015
With so many cybersecurity pros drowning in an ever-rising tide of hack attacks on their computer systems, an emerging approach to defending those systems may be the life preserver they've been looking for. The approach doesn't involve beefing up perimeter defenses, carefully scrutinizing network traffic, or applying analytics to employee behavior.
The Art of E-Commerce Site Search
July 6, 2015
Providing an effortless shopping experience is a key driver to the success of any e-commerce business. E-commerce search is a big factor in this experience and when done right can provide a significant competitive advantage. An effective on-site search experience leads to higher sales and increased customer loyalty. A substandard search experience can lead to the permanent loss of a customer.
FBI Hunts SF Bay Area Fiber-Optic Cable Cutters
July 2, 2015
The FBI for the past year has been on the hunt for people slashing fiber-optic cables throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The FBI called for the public's assistance in June, after 10 attacks had taken place. The 11th occurred on Tuesday, when someone severed cables used by Wave Broadband. "We have been in consultation with the FBI," said Wave Broadband spokesperson Mark Petersen.
Reviewers Sing Apple Music's Praises
July 1, 2015
Apple rolled out its new subscription music streaming service Tuesday, and it has been getting mostly raves from reviewers. "Apple has built a handsome, robust app and service that goes well beyond just offering a huge catalog of music by providing many ways to discover and group music for a very wide range of tastes and moods," wrote Walt Mossberg for Re/code.
Faster, Cheaper Fiber Could Rev Up Internet
June 30, 2015
Researchers have found a way to significantly improve the performance of fiber networks, which could lead to benefits for both consumers and Internet service providers. Information in fiber optic cables degrades with the distance it travels. When you try to increase the speed at which the data is traveling by boosting the power in the network, degradation gets worse.
Microsoft Is Looking More Like the House Nadella Built
June 30, 2015
Some aspects of CEO Satya Nadella's vision for Microsoft are becoming more clear. For one thing, the company's interest in advertising is seriously on the wane. Microsoft reportedly has handed off most of its digital advertising sales business to AOL. Microsoft will retain control of its search advertising sales, however, and Bing will replace Google as the engine powering AOL's consumer searches.
Yelp Study Blasts Google for Screwing With Search
June 30, 2015
Google has been tampering with the responses its search engine gives to queries and, as a result, has been hurting social welfare, alleges a survey conducted by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, and Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and former FTC advisor. Yelp sponsored the research. The team last week sent a paper reporting the results to the European Commission.
Cisco Erects 6 Pillars for the IoT
June 29, 2015
Cisco on Monday launched Cisco IoT System -- a new Internet of Things initiative comprised of 15 products geared toward improving device interoperability. As many as 50 billion devices and objects could be connected to the Internet by 2020, the company forecast, yet today more than 99 percent of things in the physical world currently are unconnected.
Internet Players Wrestle with Proposals to Prevent Capture
June 24, 2015
The Internet is run by a bunch of geeks sitting in a darkened space, lit only by the glow from LED screens, right? That Hollywood image may be how the general public perceives what it takes to send and receive emails, deliver apps, enable electronic transactions, and store great gobs of data. There is much more to operating the Internet, however, including a challenging management environment.
Apple Knuckles Under to Taylor Swift
June 23, 2015
Apple has given in to a demand from pop diva Taylor Swift to pay royalties to owners of music streamed by its Apple Music service. "We hear you, @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," tweeted Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple's content stores. "Apple will always make sure that artist[s] are paid." Cue's tweets might resolve the firestorm Swift ignited over the weekend.
US Internet Handoff Generates Sparks in Congress
June 19, 2015
The U.S. government has played a central -- perhaps critical -- role in the development of the Internet. Currently the U.S. retains a stewardship position in the worldwide operation of the Internet through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the Commerce Department. That stewardship is slated to end, however.
Google Takes It to the Streets
June 18, 2015
Google last week announced the formation of a new company that will develop technology to improve city life for residents, businesses and governments. Google has teamed up with Dan Doctoroff -- former Bloomberg CEO and ex-deputy mayor of economic development and rebuilding for the City of New York -- to advance the effort. Doctoroff will be CEO of Sidewalk Labs, which will be based in New York.
Nintendo's E3 Direct Gives It to Fans Straight
June 17, 2015
Nintendo allayed the fears of some gamers in Tuesday's E3 Direct presentation, assuring them that long-term projects have not been scrapped. Many fans and analysts had been expecting the company to close the pipeline of games designed for its current hardware as it gears up for a new console. However, the main focus of E3 Direct was the near term -- that is, the second half of this year.
San Jose to Dabble With Smart City Tech
June 16, 2015
The city of San Jose, California, recently decided to undertake an Internet of Things pilot project. Under a deal finalized last month, anyCOMM, will deploy WiFi sensors on 166 streetlights, to collect data on traffic, sense movement on the streets, turn off streetlights when sidewalks and roads are empty, detect ground shifts and send earthquake warnings, and act as WiFi hotspots.

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