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FTC Goes After Amazon for Fleecing Kids
July 11, 2014
The FTC has filed suit against Amazon over billing kids for unauthorized in-app purchases that in many cases they did not know they had made. The suit accuses Amazon of violating Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. The FTC is seeking a court order requiring Amazon to refund victims for the unauthorized charges.
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.
Microwave Will Count the Calories in Food You Nuke
July 10, 2014
While the ever-expanding class of wearable fitness devices out there can tell users how many calories they've burned while undertaking any particular activity, realistic estimates of calories taken in have been few and far between. Enter a new microwave oven currently in the works at GE Global Research that will tell users just how much energy is included in the meal they're about to consume.
Report: NSA Stalked Prominent Muslim Americans
July 10, 2014
It's been known for years that the U.S. National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have targeted Muslim Americans. What hasn't been widely known is that their targets included lawyers and some who have served the United States at the highest levels. Five highly prominent Muslim Americans were listed on an NSA spreadsheet called "FISA recap."
Tim Cook's New Apple World Order
July 10, 2014
Apple is shaking out to become a very different sort of Apple, one suddenly more inclusive than ever before. The question for the rest of this year is if all this inclusion will really lead to innovation. For Tim Cook, this idea seems to have a whole new meaning for Apple -- the notion may be trickling into the very way that Apple is now approaching its entire business.
Tor Embroiled in $1M Revenge-Porn Lawsuit
July 09, 2014
Texas attorney Jason L. Van Dyke recently filed a lawsuit against nude-photo-sharing site Pink Meth and included the Tor Project among its defendants. Pink Meth is an "involuntary pornography" site, the suit charges, enabling users to post nude photos for the purposes of getting revenge on those pictured. It's accessible only to users who have downloaded Tor's anonymity-minded software.
Apple Fails to Get Little I Robot Off Siri's Back
July 09, 2014
The Beijing First Intermediate Court ruled against Apple in a case that pitted it against a Shanghai-based firm and the country's State Intellectual Property Office's Patent Review Committee. The court found that the intellectual property rights of Zhizhen Internet Technology, a company that holds a patent for a voice-controlled digital concierge called "Little I Robot," were valid.
LG G Watch Rides In on 1st Android Wear Wave
July 08, 2014
LG has launched its Android Wear-powered G Watch around the world. It can be ordered from Google Play and purchased at retailers in the United States, Canada, France, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Japan and South Korea. In 15 other countries -- including Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and New Zealand -- the device will be available only from retailers.
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.
Tiny Spectrometer Tells You Exactly What You're Eating
July 08, 2014
For all those who have wondered about the ingredients in their lunchtime burrito, Consumer Physics is gearing up to release a handheld device designed to provide the answer. Dubbed "SCiO," the device is a tiny spectrometer that can scan food, medicines and plants to determine their molecular composition. SCiO can deliver nutrient values and evaluate ripeness and spoilage levels.
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.
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?
Rumor: Microsoft's Smart Band Will Play Well With Others
July 03, 2014
Microsoft is said to be preparing the launch of a wearable fitness device that will be compatible with the iOS and Android platforms, as well as Windows Phone. While the device likely will display the time, along with notifications from the user's smartphone, the form factor is expected to be a wristband rather than a smartwatch. The band reportedly will function mainly as a fitness tracker.
Shame on Facebook
July 03, 2014
Do you remember those snotty little kids who didn't seem to understand the difference between right and wrong? You know, the little brats who thought the rules didn't apply to them. The kids who thought they could get away with whatever they wanted -- rules were for somebody else. Well, that seems to be a fitting description of Facebook, as it repeatedly breaks customer trust.
Despite Apple's Aperture Fumble, the Photos for OS X End Goal Could Win It All
July 03, 2014
There's a lot riding on Apple's new Photos for Mac OS X app. At WWDC, Apple briefly showed off an early version of its upcoming Photos app, which will integrate with iCloud and the iOS 8-based Photos app with the iCloud Photo Library service. Naturally, this plan raised some questions, and late last week, Apple revealed that it has stopped developing new features for Aperture and iPhoto.
Microsoft's Threshold: Low Expectations but High Stakes
July 02, 2014
As the anticipated April 2015 launch of Windows Threshold draws closer, Microsoft is tightening up its features. One of the OS Group's main goals in the design and development of Threshold is to make it more palatable to Windows 7 users, it seems. New features aimed at desktop users who may or may not use touch input are expected. The new OS may or may not be called "Windows 9."
T-Mobile's Legere Sputters Over FTC's Cramming Accusations
July 02, 2014
T-Mobile's efforts to market itself as the un-carrier that puts customers first may be impacted by the FTC's allegations that it has engaged in "cramming" -- charging consumers for services offered by third-party companies without their knowledge or consent. T-Mobile's fiery CEO, John Legere, dismissed the FTC complaint as "unfounded and without merit."
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.
California Embraces Bitcoin
July 01, 2014
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a measure that legalizes the use of bitcoins and other virtual currencies in the state. The law repealed previous legislation that specified only "lawful money of the United States" could be used in California. "Modern methods of payment have expanded beyond the typical cash or credit card transactions," the new law states.
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.
Salesforce.com, Philips Launch Health Cloud Revolution
July 01, 2014
Salesforce and Philips last week announced they had teamed up on a cloud computing initiative designed to transform existing healthcare platforms. The companies plan to create an open cloud-based healthcare platform that will allow everyone from software developers to health insurance companies to connect and exchange information via Salesforce's health cloud.
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.

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