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Uber Hustles to Buff Up Its Image
August 29, 2014
Uber is attempting to polish its image with a defense of its driver recruitment tactics following publication this week of accounts of sabotage, dirty tricks and generally ruthless behavior toward Lyft and other competitors in the ride-sharing space. "We want to make sure everyone has access to Uber's unmatched economic opportunity," Uber's "Craig" innocently said in a blog post.
American Airlines Veers Out of Orbitz
August 28, 2014
American Airlines this week withdrew its flight content from Orbitz Worldwide's websites, which include Orbitz.com, ebookers.com and CheapTickets.com. The companies are locked in a booking fee dispute. They have clashed on this issue before, and it is also a brewing source of discontent between the airlines and Orbitz's competitors, such as Expedia.
TWC Bungle Could Jeopardize Comcast Merger
August 28, 2014
Time Warner Cable suffered a massive service outage in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, leaving an unknown number of its nearly 12 million customers nationwide without service for hours. "As of 6 a.m. ET, services were largely restored ... . As of 8 a.m., all services were back to normal," said TWC's Eric Mangan. Well, not quite all -- Downdetector's statistics showed outages continued.
A Big Honking iPad Could Roll Right Over Apple's Speed Bump
August 27, 2014
While the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is working to establish itself as the perfect tweener device between tablet and laptop, one hot rumor suggests that Apple's answer for more working space on an iPad will come in the form of a bigger screen -- 12.9 inches of touch-sensitive glory. The rumor comes from Bloomberg, which vaguely cited "people with knowledge of the matter."
California Lays Down the Kill-Switch Law
August 27, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a bill requiring that anti-theft measures be incorporated into all smartphones sold within California. It doesn't specify the particular technologies used to enable that capability, but it does require that the feature, also known as a "kill switch," give smartphone users the ability to remotely disable their devices in the event they're lost or stolen.
Gadget Ogling: A New Nook, a Good (M8), a Lock With No Key - and Music, Music, Music
August 26, 2014
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook conflates lots of different things: It's an Android tablet designed for reading, made by Samsung for Barnes & Noble. That might seem confusing, and I'd agree. It's essentially a branded version of the Galaxy Tab 4 with an e-commerce focus. Specifically, there's a Barnes & Noble Newsstand app, with games, movies and books on offer.
China to Go Its Own OS Way
August 26, 2014
China is developing a homegrown operating system that could be ready as soon as October as part of an effort to wean itself from Western-made software, according to a Sunday report from the government news agency. The new operating system first will appear on desktop devices and then be extended to smartphones and other mobile devices in three to five years.
NSA Shares Its Data Wealth
August 26, 2014
The United States National Security Agency secretly shares the communications data it has amassed over the years with nearly 24 U.S. government agencies using a search engine resembling Google Search, according to documents released by Edward Snowden. That's more than 850 billion records of phone calls, emails, cellphone locations and Internet chats.
Sony DDoS Attack May Have Been Smokescreen
August 25, 2014
Sony's PlayStation and Sony Entertainment networks were taken down over the weekend by a distributed denial of service attack. The hackers, who call themselves the "Lizard Squad," also forced authorities to divert a plane Sony Entertainment president was on by tweeting that there might be a bomb on board. A hacker with the handle "FamedGod" later claimed responsibility for the DDoS attack.
Google Autocomplete's Brushes With Libel
August 25, 2014
Can an automated Google feature that ostensibly helps users with a search be a basis for libel? Courts in Germany, Italy and Hong Kong have had to field that question. Google's position is that there is no human intervention, and that its algorithm is based merely on what others have searched for, or strings of words in indexed pages. Autocomplete predictions are just possible search terms.
Comcast Really Does Hate Its Customers
August 25, 2014
We were treated to the customer support call from hell earlier this month when a couple of well-connected bloggers taped their call to Comcast attempting to disconnect from the service and posted it online. Apparently there has been a sequel. The clear lesson -- particularly from the second call -- is that if you talk to Comcast support you need to record the call if you don't want to get screwed.
Security Researchers Lay Bare TSA Body Scanner Flaws
August 22, 2014
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration, part of the Department of Homeland Security, has spent more than a billion dollars on full-body scanners designed to strengthen airport security. It turns out that at least one model of scanner in use for four years -- the Rapiscan Secure 1000 full-body scanner -- easily could have been foiled by a savvy bad actor.
'iWatch' Could Be Late for a Very Important Date
August 22, 2014
Apple may be forced to postpone the launch of the hotly anticipated "iWatch" or health band, perhaps pushing it back to 2015. It apparently is facing wide-ranging production issues involving components, system design, manufacturing, and integration between hardware and software. Holy macaroni. Of course, it should be noted that Apple has never said that it would deliver anything of the sort.
SoundCloud to Run Ads, Share the Loot
August 22, 2014
SoundCloud on Thursday launched On SoundCloud, a program that will facilitate advertising on the site. Membership initially is by invitation only; SoundCloud will roll it out to a select number of artists. It later plans to bring on more advertisers and make the program available to the general membership. The announcement sparked a mixed response. "Really dude?" wrote "creator 1,000,001. "Ads?"
Is Open Source an Open Invitation to Hack Webmail Encryption?
August 21, 2014
In a move influenced by Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA's email snooping, Yahoo and Google last week announced that they were cooperating on end-to-end encrypting their webmail products. While the open source approach has proven its value over and over again, the idea of opening up the code for security features to anyone with eyeballs still creates anxiety in some circles.
Netflix Ponies Up for Better TWC Net Connection
August 21, 2014
Netflix on Tuesday announced that it has signed an interconnection agreement with Time Warner Cable, marking the fourth such deal the content provider has signed with a major Internet service provider. Netflix in recent months has signed similar agreements with Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. News of the agreement has raised fresh concerns about the future of Net neutrality.
Banks Bemoan Feds' Plan to Publish Complaining Consumers' Stories
August 20, 2014
The banking industry is up in arms over the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's plan to publish consumer complaint narratives about financial institutions on the Web. Consumers would have to opt in to have their complaints published. The CFPB would strip out all personally identifiable information. The idea is to expand the existing database to include the customer's narrative.
Google May Start Grooming Little Googlers
August 19, 2014
Google may soon allow kids under 13 to have their own personal accounts on services such as YouTube and Gmail. Under the new system, parents would be able to set up accounts for their children, control their use of those accounts, and regulate the information collected about them. "You could say that Google is just recognizing reality," said the Local Search Association's Greg Sterling.
Twitter Experiment Elicits Howls of Disapproval
August 18, 2014
Twitter's latest tinkering with its members' timelines appears to be ticking off more than a few tweeters. The experiment opens timelines to tweets members' followers have tagged as favorites, as well as to some popular tweets gleaned from their followers' timelines. "Changing the rules of engagement for users without notice is very Facebookian of you Twitter," tweeted Peter Singer.
Apple Lays Down Law on Toxic Chemical Use
August 14, 2014
Apple on Thursday reiterated its commitment to safe working conditions in its supply chain, and announced stricter rules for the use of benzene and n-hexane, two toxic chemicals. It also published its Regulated Substances Specification, pointing out that it sets occupational exposure limits for the two toxic chemicals that follow standards bodies' recommendations.
Freedom Act Leaves IT Sector at Risk for Spy Program Costs
August 14, 2014
A recent U.S. Senate proposal to curb the impact of electronic surveillance conducted by the NSA could enhance privacy for citizens and benefit businesses as well. However, major information technology companies that help the government collect telecom and Internet data still will be vulnerable to the substantial costs of working with the NSA, even if the proposed bill becomes law.
Snowden Blows NSA's MonsterMind
August 13, 2014
The NSA is working on a new program codenamed "MonsterMind" that will automate the monitoring of traffic patterns on the Internet to look for attacks, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed. When it detects an attack, MonsterMind will automatically block it from entering the U.S. cyberinfrastructure. It also will automatically fire back at the server from which the attack was launched.

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