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FBI Director Comey Gives Apple and Google a Tongue-Lashing
September 26, 2014
FBI Director James Comey on Thursday strongly criticized Apple and Google for hardening information stored in smartphones by encrypting data, making it inaccessible to law enforcement even with a court order. The FBI has had conversations with both Apple and Google over the encryption features, Comey said, although he personally was not involved in those talks.
Amazon Takes a Leap of Faith With 'Transparent'
September 26, 2014
With the launch on Friday of its latest original series, Transparent, Amazon may be signaling its intention to challenge Netflix in the streaming video market. Amazon already has earned praise for its original programming, but it hasn't reached the critical or audience success of Netflix offerings such as House of Cards or Orange Is the New Black.
Apple Dismisses Bendgate
September 26, 2014
Apple has been plagued by two iPhone 6 issues in recent days: 1) an update to its iOS 8 operating system wound up disrupting cellular connectivity and disabling the Touch ID fingerprint reader to unlock it; and 2) numerous reports surfaced in mainstream and social media that it bends. About the iOS 8 issue, Apple has been most apologetic. On the reports of the iPhone 6 bending? Not so much.
Apple Redoubles Efforts to Fix iOS 8 Glitches
September 25, 2014
Apple on Thursday announced it's preparing iOS 8.0.2 -- which will include a fix for problems triggered by iOS 8.0.1 -- and plans to release it in the next few days. In a rare move, Apple on Wednesday suspended downloads of iOS 8.0.1, which aimed to fix problems uncovered after the launch of iOS 8. What's more, it recommended a downgrade for owners of Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Self-Driving Car Security: No Room for Error
September 25, 2014
Walk into any electronics store and you will find antivirus software from companies like Norton, ESET, McAfee and Kaspersky. In the last few years, the risk has spread from our computers to our smartphones and our tablets. The next thing we will have to protect may be our cars -- and our lives could depend on it. We used to think the computer was the only device that needed virus protection.
The Dark Side of Apple Design: From Antennagate to Bendgate
September 25, 2014
When Apple -- which is clearly one of the world's best companies at design -- makes a misstep, it's amplified by a wild combination of user dismay and hater glee. Because there are millions of users and many haters, a design flaw can turn into an instant public relations tornado. Enter Bendgate, featuring the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apparently, carrying them in your pocket can make them bend.
Comcast Blasts TWC Merger Foes
September 25, 2014
Comcast on Tuesday lashed out at critics of its $45.2 billion bid for TWC, accusing Discovery Communications of making "extortionate demands." Netflix also drew Comcast's ire. The proposed merger is in the public interest, Comcast maintained. "It is not extortion to demand that Comcast provide its own customers the broadband speeds they've paid for," said Netflix spokesperson Cliff Edwards.
iPhone 6 Bendgate: The End of Tight Jeans?
September 24, 2014
Another new Apple product, another "-gate" debacle. This time, it's bendgate. On the heels of the release of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets earlier this month has come an uproar over an unexpected weakness: In short, when stashed in a pocket of a tight pair of pants, the iPhone 6 Plus bends -- and it doesn't return to its original shape when removed.
Pants on Fire, Schmidt Tells Climate Change Denier ALEC
September 23, 2014
Google on Monday publicly denounced the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council for lying about climate change. "We funded them as part of a political campaign for something unrelated," Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told a caller to NPR's Diane Rehm Show. "I think the consensus within the company is that was sort of a mistake. We're trying to not do that in the future."
Will the Beats Go On?
September 23, 2014
Apple appears to be planning changes for the Beats Music streaming service, following its $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics in May. Information from sources supposedly in the know indicated the company was planning to discontinue the service, according to one report, but Apple indicated the rumor was "not true." It's possible that Apple is planning to rebrand the service, however.
EMC Swings Its Partners in Rumored Deal Talks
September 22, 2014
Intrigue is thick surrounding EMC these days. The story line goes something like this: An activist shareholder is pressuring EMC to sell itself to companies that might be interested in acquiring the data storage giant. The list of possible suitors is short -- the two names that keep circulating are HP and Dell. EMC apparently has been discussing merger possibilities with HP for a year or more.
Apple Fills iOS 8 Security Basket to Brim
September 19, 2014
With data thefts and cybersnooping making headlines daily, security has started to capture the attention of the disciples of the digital lifestyle -- and if the latest version of iOS is any indication, it's catching the attention of Apple, too. Along with nifty features like Hand Off and Family Sharing, iOS 8 contains a number of significant security and privacy enhancements.
Google Brings Hamster-Eating Into Sticks-and-Stones Brawl With News Corp.
September 19, 2014
News Corp. and Google have lashed out at each other as the EU reconsiders the terms of its proposed antitrust settlement with the latter. News Corp. essentially accused Google of nefarious behavior in a letter to the European Competition Commissioner over the EU's proposed antitrust settlement with Google. Perhaps the irony of the situation hit Google hard.
FCC Chews on the Mobile Net Neutrality Question
September 17, 2014
The FCC on Tuesday hosted a roundtable discussion on the possibility of Net neutrality rules being applied to mobile networks. Participants in the talk included representatives from The Center for Media Justice, Consumers Union and CTIA. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this year suggested that the 2010 rules, which exempted mobile services from Net neutrality provisions, should be reconsidered.
Wall Street Strings Taut as Alibaba Edges Toward IPO
September 15, 2014
Alibaba's forthcoming IPO will have a significant impact on Yahoo, but it's not likely to cause many ripples in the U.S. e-commerce market overall. Although this one deal will make Yahoo more money than it has made in years of struggling, it could lead to its demise as an independent entity. "It would only take about $6 billion to control Yahoo," said Covestor's Barry Randall.
Is It Time to Cleave Linux in Two?
September 15, 2014
Fires may be easy to start, but putting them out is a different matter. Case in point: the Systemd inferno. What started a few weeks ago as a relatively straightforward controversy over an oft-debated technology Visit the VMware Tech Center has now virtually blown up in Linux fans' faces. The latest flareup? None other than the suggestion that Linux be split in two.
Apple Pay Rings Opening Bell in Banks vs. Retailers Match
September 15, 2014
Apple's unveiling last week of its Apple Pay NFC mobile payments system has triggered a clash between banks and the retail industry. Apple has lined up support from banks and credit card companies, but Best Buy and Walmart have said they will not support Apple Pay, according to reports. Instead, they will go with a competing mobile wallet application, CurrentC.
Feds Wielded Baseball Bat to Win Yahoo's NSA Cooperation
September 12, 2014
The Obama administration threatened Yahoo with fines of $250,000 daily if it wouldn't comply with demands to hand over user information to the NSA, Yahoo has disclosed. Yahoo had filed suit against the demands in 2007, citing the Fourth Amendment. "They basically said you must do this thing that you don't want to do or we'll put you out of business," said ITIF's Daniel Castro.
Gadget Ogling: It's Raining Apples
September 12, 2014
It's usually around here that I introduce the column and tease the agenda, but since absolutely nothing happened in the gadget world this week, I'm going to take it easy. Oh, wait -- sorry. Apple happened. Welcome to a special edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly peek at just-announced gadgets. Of course, the big topic is Apple's iPhone 6 and its first wearable, the Apple Watch.
Verizon May Launch Have-It-Your-Way Internet TV
September 12, 2014
Verizon in the first half of next year will launch an Internet TV service that offers a selection of custom channels as well as a bundle of content from the Big Four networks, according to reports. Represented in the mobile-minded bundle will be not only content from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, but also millennials-focused programming from DreamWorks Animation's Awesomeness TV.
Apple's New iPhones: Ho-Hum and Controversial Too
September 11, 2014
Apple's new iPhones didn't take center stage at this week's big event. "The fact that they are ho-hum is interesting in itself," said Nick Spencer, a senior practice director at ABI Research. "Apple is now a company that follows rather than leads." Apple is "at least 18 months late with a large screen device," he pointed out, and its Apple Pay mobile payment feature is "not exactly new."
If Google Were French
September 11, 2014
Europeans are relentlessly attacking Google: A German official called for its breakup, a French minister charged it was a threat to sovereignty, and a publisher compared it to a dragon, according to a report. Really? I would have thought the euro and the draconian austerity program needed to keep it functioning threatened sovereignty more than Google.
The Fortune 500 Crowdfunding Conundrum
September 11, 2014
Marvell recently launched its Kinoma Create construction kit for consumer electronics on Indiegogo. Should a $6.5 billion company turn to crowdfunding to raise money? Are large companies drying up a source of funding that otherwise would be available to startups? Is that morally reprehensible? "Ethics is a personal set of standards and beliefs," noted marketing prof Larry Chiagouris.
Millions of Gmail Users Victims of Latest Password Heist
September 11, 2014
About 5 million Gmail usernames and passwords have been published on a Russian bitcoin security forum as a text file. Sixty percent of the 4.93 million credentials in the file were valid, claimed the poster, who used the online handle "tvskit." The information reportedly was dumped on several Russian cybercrime forums and shared through a variety of peer-to-peer services.

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