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Black Friday May Be Losing Its Mojo
November 26, 2014
Some $13.1 billion in sales are anticipated this Thanksgiving weekend across all manner of channels, from mammoth shopping centers to online retailers to local shops and pop-up stores. Consumers are eager to score the best bargains, of course, while retailers want nothing more than to attract shoppers to their venues and keep them there for as long as possible this weekend.
'Elegant' Regin Malware Linked to Brits, NSA
November 25, 2014
A sophisticated malware program called "Regin" has been used in systematic spying campaigns against a range of international targets since at least 2008, Symantec reported. Regin is a backdoor-type Trojan with a structure that displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen in malware. "It's a beautiful piece of architecture," said Scott Borg, CEO of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.
Musk Hints at Tesla, BMW Tie-Up
November 24, 2014
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk reportedly has engaged in talks with BMW to partner on the production of electric batteries, as well as other technologies for electric vehicles. Musk reportedly said that the companies might collaborate to develop advanced batteries and lightweight components including carbon fiber body parts in an interview published Sunday.
Firefox Sheds Google for Yahoo
November 21, 2014
Mozilla on Wednesday announced that Yahoo would replace Google as its global default search option, in a move that has set the tech media abuzz. Pointing out that Google has been the Firefox global search default since 2004, Mozilla painted the move as seizing the opportunity to review its competitive strategy and explore its options when the agreement came up for renewal this year.
Will Apple's Next iPhone Capture DSLR Quality With 2 Lenses?
November 20, 2014
The Apple rumor mill never stops spinning, and even though the iPhone 6 is barely here and the next version ages away, the most interesting rumor is the chance that the next iPhone will make a huge leap forward with its camera -- possibly using two lenses to produce DSLR-quality images. The rumor comes from John Gruber of Daring Fireball via an episode of The Talk Show podcast.
WhatsApp Battens Down the Hatches
November 19, 2014
WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption and enabled it by default in the latest version of its Android messaging application, partner Open Whisper Systems announced Tuesday. The new feature taps Open Whisper's open source TextSecure encryption protocol to ensure that only a conversation's participants can read the messages they exchange. WhatsApp itself won't be able to decrypt the messages.
Google Glass May Be Saved by Obscurity
November 19, 2014
Whatever happened to Google Glass? In the early days, people got punched in bars, bounced from movie theaters, and pulled over in cars for wearing them, and some establishments outright banned "glassholes" from their premises. Google claimed the white "Cotton" beta model sold out when it held a one-day sale of Google Glass Explorer for United States residents at $1,500 a pop in April.
Uber Exec Floats Digging Up Dirt on Journalists
November 19, 2014
Uber Senior Vice President of Business Emil Michael last week said, in comments he apparently thought were off the record, that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to investigate the personal lives of journalists who reported negatively on the company. He reportedly singled out one journalist, PandoDaily Editor in Chief Sarah Lacy.
GOP Caught With Fingers in the Twitter Jar
November 18, 2014
The Republican Party and at least two outside political-spending groups reportedly used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data in the months leading up to this year's midterm elections. One of the accounts was named after the fictional West Wing character Bruno Gianelli, who attempted to fund campaigns with possibly unethical cash.
US Marshals Have Their Own Cellphone Data Slurpfest
November 18, 2014
The United States Marshals Service reportedly is grabbing data from thousands, if not millions, of Americans' cellphones using high-tech devices deployed on five Cessnas. The aircraft operate out of at least five metro-area airports and apparently can cover most of the U.S. population. They are equipped with DRT boxes, popularly known as "dirtboxes," made by a subsidiary of Boeing.
When Microsoft Went A-Courting
November 17, 2014
FOSS fans perhaps may be excused if they've felt a bit confused over the past few days. Dizziness, headaches and vertigo also have been common. What strange new ailment is this, you might ask? Well, it's no ailment -- but that doesn't mean it's any simpler to remedy. The cause is none other than the news that Microsoft is open sourcing .Net and also expanding it to run on Linux and Mac OS.
Facebook Lubes PR Gears to Dampen Privacy Worries
November 14, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced Privacy Basics, a set of interactive guides to answer the most commonly questions about how users can control their information on its site. It also aired proposed updates to its terms, data policy and cookies policy; improvements to ad targeting; and expansion of user control over ads. "This is mostly a messaging exercise," said tech analyst Rob Enderle.
Who Knew Tim Cook Would Fight for the American Way?
November 14, 2014
Ninety-one percent of Americans believe they have lost control of their personal information -- and many also don't trust companies that buy, sell, barter, and combine their habits and activities to better "serve" -- aka "manipulate" -- them, a recent Pew Research survey found. Along similar lines, they don't particularly trust governments either.
Amazon, Hachette End E-Book Squabble
November 13, 2014
Amazon and publisher Hachette on Thursday made peace after months of slugging it out toe to toe over e-book pricing, which split the authors' community and saw Amazon pulling some Hachette authors' books off its promo list and slowing delivery of others. Neither company disclosed the specific terms of the deal. However, Hachette will have the right to set the price of its e-books.
Americans Flip-Flop on Personal Data Privacy
November 13, 2014
Despite the publicity about Edward Snowden's controversial leaks, only 43 percent of 607 English-speaking adults surveyed in January had heard a lot about government surveillance efforts, and another 44 percent had heard a little, according to the Pew Research Internet Project. However, 80 percent of the respondents registered concern about government surveillance of communications.
FCC Chair Asserts Independence in Net Neutrality Fracas
November 13, 2014
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has responded to the White House's proposal for Net neutrality rules by reasserting his agency's independence in a meeting with executives of Google, Yahoo and other Internet companies following President Obama's Monday call to action. The president urged the FCC to ensure Net neutrality by interpreting Title II of the Telecommunications Act to govern ISPs.
Bankrupt Sapphire Supplier Blasts Apple in Court Document
November 12, 2014
GT Advanced Technologies, in a document made public last Friday, alleged that it "incurred losses ... due to Apple's inordinate control over GTAT's liquidity, operations ..., and decision making." The U.S. Bankruptcy Court of New Hampshire unsealed the document, in which GTAT CEO Daniel W. Squiller accuses Apple of using a "bait and switch" strategy in its dealings with the company.
Obama Bangs Drum for Net Neutrality
November 10, 2014
President Obama on Monday leaped into the controversy surrounding Net neutrality, calling on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to ensure and protect it. "I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting Net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online," he said.
Texting Drivers Willing to Play With Fire
November 10, 2014
Texting while driving is dangerous. We know that intuitively; we know it because the statistics say so; we know it because we have seen any number of public service announcements warning of its hazards. A whopping 98 percent of respondents in a recent survey of people who text at least once a day acknowledged the danger of texting while driving -- yet most admitted to doing it anyway.
The Law Scores a Victory Against Dark Net Denizens
November 07, 2014
Europol on Friday announced that agents from ICE, the FBI and Eurojust have taken down more than 400 cybercrime services accessible via the Tor browser. They include the dark market Silk Road 2.0. Its operator, Blake Benthall, was arrested, along with six Britons. Europol coordinated the effort. "Almost all crime now has an international nexus," noted ICE Special Agent Gary Hartwig.
Verizon, AT&T Are Watching You
November 05, 2014
The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week renewed its protests against Verizon Wireless' and AT&T's use of supercookies that can't be deleted or disabled to track customers' mobile Web-browsing activities without their knowledge. The carriers' tracking isn't new -- Verizon has been using these supercookies for two years. However, that has not been generally known.
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.
Microsoft Kicks Windows 8 to the Curb
November 04, 2014
Microsoft on Friday ended retail sales of Windows 8, meaning that the only way the much-maligned operating system will be available from now on is preinstalled by PC vendors. Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate are no longer available at all as of Oct. 31, either for direct purchase or preinstalled. Both Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8 remain available preinstalled.
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.

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