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AT&T May Be Suiting Up to Battle Comcast
May 13, 2014
AT&T has been negotiating to buy DirecTV for close to $50 billion, based on reports that surfaced Monday. The deal, which has not been confirmed by the companies, could close within a few weeks. The current option on the table, according to anonymous sources, would be largely a stock trade but it would include some cash, with AT&T offering in the low- to mid-$90s per share for DirecTV.
Twitter Introduces an 'I Can't Hear You' Button
May 13, 2014
Twitter has launched a new feature that gives people the power to silence fellow tweeters without having to unfollow them. The feature is designed to give users more control over what pops up in their daily feeds. If someone mutes a follower, the muted user's tweets and retweets won't show up in the muter's feed, and notifications about that user's activity will not appear.
Psychologist: Search Results Could Sway Elections
May 13, 2014
Search engines could have a profound influence on voters, according to psychologist Robert Epstein, whose recent study chronicles the impact of what he dubbed the "search engine manipulation effect." Epstein has not produced any evidence that search engines intentionally manipulate elections. Even so, he claims the phenomenon is legit. This is not a new topic for Epstein.
FCC Chair Changes Tune on Net Neutrality
May 12, 2014
The chairman of the FCC reportedly is changing a proposal for regulating Internet traffic in response to a wave of dissension against the idea. Chairman Tom Wheeler had proposed a new "Net neutrality" plan that would allow ISPs to negotiate with companies that use the Internet to provide services to end customers in order to grant preferential treatment of their data in exchange for fees.
Linux Pros' Top Command Line Secrets
May 12, 2014
It was a relatively quiet week here in the Linux blogosphere, giving residents a long-overdue opportunity to enjoy a few Tequila Tux cocktails and take stock of all the FOSS-related happenings that have taken place over the past few weeks. Among the highlights were the awarding of the IEEE Computer Society's 2014 Computer Pioneer Award to none other than Linus Torvalds.
Samsung Invests $2B in Biopharmaceuticals
May 12, 2014
Samsung is investing at least $2 billion in... biopharmaceuticals? With this foray into the drug industry, Samsung hopes to become a major player in biotechnology, which is expected to be a booming industry in coming years. A key component of this play is so-called biosimilars -- cheap versions of brand-name biotechnology drugs that no longer are protected by patents.
Netflix Newbies Hit With Steeper Price
May 09, 2014
Netflix is hiking subscription fees for new users of its streaming video service effective immediately, while current members will have a grace period before they must start paying the increased rates. Subscribers in the U.S. and Canada will fork over an extra dollar a month, with the fee jumping to $8.99. Existing subscribers will pay their current fees for two years.
Breaking Down the Crazy Apple-Buying-Beats Riff
May 09, 2014
The hottest -- and possibly craziest -- tech rumor of the week is, hands down, that Apple is in negotiations to acquire Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion. Based on a single report, the story has been fanned into a raging inferno faster than a wildfire on a hot August day. Unfortunately, the only cited source for the rumor is "people familiar with the deal."
Building an Internet of Things Ecosystem
May 09, 2014
One of the geographic regions asserting itself as an epicenter of technology innovation focused on the rapidly evolving Internet of Things is the Boston area. To bring greater attention to the widening array of area companies pursuing new business opportunities in the IoT market, the region recently hosted a series of IoT events, anchored by Axeda's annual Connexion conference.
Nintendo Won't Include Gay Characters in Sim Game
May 08, 2014
Nintendo won't include same-sex romantic activities in English editions of an upcoming life simulator game. The company has faced pressure, including a fan-fueled social media campaign, to let users have gay relationships in Tomodachi Life, a game whose characters are modeled after real people. The company never meant for the game to be a "social commentary," Nintendo of America said.
Windows Phone's Secret Weapon: Customization
May 08, 2014
Despite coming from one of the world's most well-known tech companies, Microsoft, Windows Phone has a freakishly odd smartphone branding problem. From what I see out there, most consumers barely know what a Windows Phone is or how it works or why they might want one. Business users tend to be more aware of it, but they often end up choosing an Android smartphone or even an iPhone instead.
Alibaba's Treasure May Not Open Doors for Yahoo
May 07, 2014
The market is waiting with bated breath to see the exact size of Alibaba's IPO, but investors in Yahoo, which owns about 23 percent of Alibaba's stock, don't seem impressed. Yahoo's shares closed Wednesday at $34.07, down 6.6 percent. Yahoo's stake is worth about $26 billion based on the fair value of about $109 billion Alibaba assigned to its shares in March.
Alibaba Files for Much-Anticipated IPO
May 07, 2014
Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba filed an initial public offering prospectus Tuesday, inching closer to what could be the biggest technology IPO in history. Alibaba Group handles 80 percent of all online commerce in China; it processed some $250 billion worth of transactions for 231 million users in 2013. The company's market value has been estimated as high as $200 billion.
ISPs Put the Squeeze on Content Distributors, Level3 Charges
May 06, 2014
Six major ISPs providing residential broadband services are refusing to augment their networks unless content providers pay more, according to Level3. Five of them are in the U.S. and the last in Europe. While Level3 has not named them, it has repeatedly mentioned writing to AT&T about broadband throttling. The six "are deliberately harming the service they deliver to their paying customers.
Google Now Could Turn E-Commerce on Its Ear
May 06, 2014
Google on Monday announced it is rolling out a new feature for Google Now that aims to blend the brick-and-mortar and online retail worlds. Available now for Android phones, the feature notifies users when they're physically near a store that might have a recently searched-for item available. The feature doesn't go so far as to inform the user whether the item currently is in stock.
The Tangled Web of IoT Security
May 06, 2014
The Internet of Things, or IoT, consists of "uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure," according to Wikipedia. The IoT is "the network of physical objects accessed through the Internet," according to Cisco Systems. In addition to there being no clear definition of the IoT, estimates vary widely about the number of unique devices it includes.
Facebook's $2B Baby Oculus Denies Rival's Rights Claims
May 06, 2014
A simmering conflict between Oculus, a virtual reality startup Facebook bought last month for $2 billion, and ZeniMax Media began to boil Monday. ZeniMax las week claimed one of its former employees, John Carmack, improperly shared some of its tech with Oculus for use in its Rift virtual reality headset, which is touted as having the power to bring VR to the masses.
OnSip Invites Customers to Push Its Buttons
May 05, 2014
Amazon's Mayday button has intrigued CRM industry users as well as consumers. Introduced about a year ago, Mayday is a button customers can press on their mobile devices to get service or tech help. Salesforce.com last month debuted its version of Mayday. Now other tech providers are introducing variations on the theme. One such company is OnSIP, which has just debuted InstaCall.
Amazon Rolls Its Shopping Carts Onto Twitter's Turf
May 05, 2014
Amazon is now allowing consumers to add items to their shopping cart simply by sending a reply on Twitter. Users who connect their accounts on the two services can add a product they see in a Twitter link to their Amazon shopping cart simply by replying to the tweet with the hashtag #AmazonCart -- or #AmazonBasket in the UK. The feature is available only in the U.S. and the UK at present.
Pinterest's Guided Search Finds Needles in Haystacks
April 29, 2014
Pinterest last week announced Guided Search, a new search engine for navigating its particular type of content -- user-provided pins, which now number around 30 billion, and an array of around 750 million boards. Guided Search is designed to help users discover pins they were not necessarily looking for, but that might interest them. For now, the feature is available only on mobile.

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