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Amazon's Echo Plays Hard to Get
November 07, 2014
Amazon on Thursday announced Echo, a speaker with a built-in voice-activated personal digital assistant. Think of a cylindrical Bose SoundLink Mini married to Siri, Cortana or Google Voice -- or heck, living in sin with all three. Echo can conduct Web searches, add items to your to-do list, let you play streaming music, and give you news and weather reports, among other things.
Facebook's Voter Turnout Efforts: Good, Bad or Pointless?
November 05, 2014
In the run-up to Tuesday's mid-term elections, suspicions were rife about the possibility of Facebook influencing the outcome. Facebook had joined Google, Twitter and other high-tech companies in urging people to vote, but skepticism about its motives ran high. In previous elections, it had turned its call to voters into sociological experiments, tweaking its approaches for different groups.
The Trouble With Facebook's Tor Link
November 05, 2014
Facebook recently announced that it was providing access directly over the Tor network. Its purpose was to let users access Facebook without losing the cryptographic protections provided by the Tor cloud. Facebook is providing an SSL certificate which cites its onion address. It will add onion address support for its mobile site later. The Tor link will work only in Tor-enabled browsers.
Monster Tiptoes Onto Twitter
November 05, 2014
Monster Worldwide last week announced that it was rolling out a beta of a social recruitment ad platform, starting this Thursday. Monster Social Ads uses Twitter's Ads API to serve tailored job listings to Twitter users, based on career attributes such as occupation or industry type. A number of U.S. companies have signed on for the beta, including eBay, T-Mobile and UPS.
Dropbox, Microsoft Gang Up on Google
November 04, 2014
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a strategic partnership with Dropbox -- only eight days after announcing unlimited cloud storage for Office 365 subscribers in a move widely seen as a frontal attack on Dropbox and Google. The companies will integrate their services forphones, tablets and the Internet, so that users can access and collaborate on Office files either from Dropbox or Microsoft Office.
iPad Pro Rumor Comes Up for Air
November 04, 2014
Rumors of a larger-screen iPad 'Pro' have been floating around since early this year. Most have suggested variations on a supposed 12.9-inch screen size. As soon as they rise, though, they're buried by another news wave. The latest to surface is a report in a Japanese tech blog. The upcoming iPad Pro reportedly will have a 12.2-inch screen and not the more widely rumored 12.9-inch screen.
Are There Too Many Forks at the FOSS Table?
November 03, 2014
Halloween has come and gone here in the Northern reaches of the Linux blogosphere, but for those of us paying attention, few things could be more frightful than the bloodshed now occurring in Debian's civil war. The streets of the blogosphere are filled with smoke; conversations are getting drowned out by the din of gunfire; and glasses are perpetually rattling down at the Punchy Penguin Saloon.
YouTube Warms to Subscription Model
October 30, 2014
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki this week said that her team was in the early stages of exploring a new subscription business model. Wojcicki didn't offer any specific details, but she did suggest that one option might include an ad-free service. That would be a big change from YouTube's current advertising-only approach. At some point, people won't want to see ads, Wojcicki said.
Battered Aereo Takes a Couple More Blows
October 28, 2014
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan last week granted broadcasters' request for a temporary restraining order against Aereo. This is the latest setback for the would-be cable-killer service, which was suspended following a Supreme Court ruling this summer. Aereo had utilized small dime-sized antennas to capture over-the-air TV signals and stream the content to subscribers over the Internet.
Technology Taxes Come at a Steep Cost, Report Finds
October 28, 2014
Slapping taxes on information and communication technologies can cost countries more money than it brings in, says a study by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Most of the countries imposing high taxes are lower- or middle-income nations in Africa, South Asia and America. The report's release coincides with protests in Hungary over the government's plan to tax ISPs.
Debian's Civil War: Has It Really Come to This?
October 27, 2014
Well it seems no matter how loudly we here in the Linux blogosphere try to hum a happy tune or discuss cheerful FOSS matters, we just can't seem to drown out the shouts and screams coming from those standing too close to the Systemd Inferno. Stand back, people! It's dangerous! The embers, of course, had been hot for some time already before the blaze flared sky-high a few months ago.
Amazon Sticks It to Google Chromecast
October 27, 2014
Amazon on Monday introduced the Fire TV Stick, a new streaming-media device that can connect to an HDTV's HDMI port and deliver video content from Amazon Prime Instant Video, as well as Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN, YouTube, Spotify, Vevo, Pandora and A&E. It also can be used to play games. New and existing Amazon Prime customers can pre-order the Fire TV Stick for $19 through Tuesday.
Ello Sets Its Ad-Free Promise in Stone
October 23, 2014
Ello on Thursday made its ad-free philosophy official by incorporating it into a new company charter. Now converted to a public benefit corporation, the social network has stipulated not only that it will never make money from selling ads or user data, but also that any new owners will have to comply by those terms as well, in the event it's ever sold.
Kickstarter Puts Kibosh on Tor-Based Router Funding
October 21, 2014
Kickstarter on Friday suspended a crowdfunding campaign for Anonabox, a portable networking device designed specifically to run Tor. The campaign for the privacy-minded router, which launched earlier last week, was wildly successful. In just a few days, it reportedly garnered more than $600,000 in pledged funds from thousands of backers. The Kickstarter goal for the $45 device was just $7,500.
FOSS and the Fear Factor
October 20, 2014
In a world that's been dominated for far too long by the Systemd Inferno, Linux fans will have to be forgiven if they seize perhaps a bit too gleefully upon the scraps of cheerful news that come along on any given day. Of course, for cheerful news, there's never any better place to look than the Reglue effort, run by longtime Linux advocate and all-around-hero-for-kids Ken Starks.
Gadget Ogling: Apple vs. Google, a Bossy Activity Tracker, and Feeling Your Path
October 18, 2014
There was plenty of focus on the cameras at Apple's presentation, as it tries to promote the tablet as an ideal viewfinder for taking high-quality images, while adding iPhone features like time-lapse and burst mode. However, the new push of iPad photography is just encouraging even more people to look foolish by taking photos with their tablet in public. This is a plague.
BBC to Preserve Memory of Its 'Forgotten' Articles
October 17, 2014
The BBC will publish and continually update a list of its published articles that were removed from Google searches under Europe's "right to be forgotten" rule. David Jordan, director of editorial policy and standards for the BBC, announced the move. The decision is a reaction to the EC ruling that search engines must remove "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" links upon request.
Netflix Drives Into a Ditch
October 17, 2014
Netflix stock closed Friday at $357, up slightly from the depths it plummeted to earlier this week. Shares fell almost 25 percent in premarket trading on Thursday -- more than $110 a share -- to $338. The plunge followed news of weak subscriber growth in its third quarter. Netflix reported $1.2 billion in Q3 revenue, which was up 38 percent from the same period a year prior.
Tide Starts to Turn Against Gamergate's Women-Hating Campaign
October 17, 2014
Backlash against the #Gamergate movement escalated several notches this week, thanks to high-profile newspaper reports and a public statement from the Entertainment Software Association. "Threats of violence and harassment are wrong," the ESA said. "They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community -- or our society -- for personal attacks and threats."
And Now for Something Completely Different
October 13, 2014
Well it's a good thing we here in the Linux community had a refreshing and refocusing break recently, because last week it was back onto the hot coals once again. The Systemd inferno -- which Linux Girl is starting to think of as "The Blaze That Must Not Be Named" -- has spread even further, your trusty reporter is dismayed to report, extending now to encompass the entire FOSS community.
Tech Execs Issue Dire Warnings on Impact of NSA Surveillance
October 10, 2014
The NSA's wide-ranging surveillance of people's communications worldwide is hitting America's high-tech industry hard, said panelists on Wednesday at a roundtable held by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden in Palo Alto, California. Wyden set the tone from the start: "This is going to cost America jobs." Several foreign governments are planning to build domestic Internets.
One Way Around the Mobile Net Neutrality Conundrum
October 09, 2014
Verizon Wireless may be bitterly regretting the challenge Verizon made to the FCC's Net neutrality rules. There's little doubt competing wireless providers are. Verizon in 2010 sued the FCC over its mandate that ISPs treat all Internet data the same. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this year agreed with Verizon and struck down the rules. Now the FCC is putting it all back on the table.
Don't Look Now, but Ads Are Coming to Snapchat
October 09, 2014
Ads soon will arrive on Snapchat. However, they will not target individual users. Rather, they'll appear in a more generalized fashion within the service's Snapchat Stories feature among shared photos and videos, CEO Evan Spiegel said Wednesday. A new service for disappearing content and ads, called "Snapchat Discovery," reportedly also is in the works for launch this year.
Facebook Sharpens Audience Network Targeting
October 08, 2014
Facebook on Tuesday further opened its Audience Network to third-party developers and publishers. It debuted the platform in April, positioning it as a mobile monetization tool that would leverage Facebook's 1.5 million advertisers and the millions of users who sign into apps using their Facebook credentials. The platform is now available to developers and publishers around the world.

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