TSR on tech: your weekly news summary
|September 11, 2011||Posted by Elliot Davies under TSR on tech|
We start with some interesting business news this week, as the Arrington saga continues and Carol Bartz gets the boot from Yahoo, and then we’ve also got some security warnings, a note on the disappointing Dead Island game, and some odds and ends to do with different products, including the ten Google products you’ve now seen the last of. Then we’ll finish up with Apple being charitable, crazy statistics about global mobile connections, and a fascinating supercomputer which can predict major world events. Tally ho!
Last week saw Michael Arrington suddenly resign from his position as editor of TechCrunch, but the drama doesn’t seem to have ended there. Since then, Arrington has contacted AOL CEO Tim Armstrong about buying TechCrunch back, apparently forgetting that he sold the blog to AOL in the first place only a year ago. Sources speaking to All Things D said AOL is not inclined to sell the site back at this time, and AOL itself has stated that it will not allow Arrington to have any influence at the website, editorial or otherwise, while he is running his own venture fund. It should be very vaguely interesting to see what happens.
Carol Bartz has been fired as CEO of Yahoo, seemingly with little warning, with CFO Tim Morse becoming interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found. In return, Bartz managed to spite the company by sending an email to its staff, stating, “I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.” The fact that Yahoo’s board did not have a replacement ready is indicative of the ongoing lack of strategy at the company, although Yahoo’s stock did rise more than 6% after the announcement.
Electronic Arts has become the second largest social games company following its acquisition of PopCap (Bejewelled) and its release of the new Sims Social. However, EA is still some distance behind Zynga, which makes FarmVille, Mafia Wars and other popular games.
After all the confusion over HP’s announcements about webOS, some leaked internal memos appear to have clarified the situation. In brief, HP will be keeping the webOS software it bought by acquiring Palm for $1.2bn last year, presumably because it sees some value in it (read: patents), but it will be discontinuing its TouchPad hardware line after producing one final run to get rid of parts which have already been manufactured.
Apple has won a victory over Samsung in the German courts after the injunction preventing Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 was upheld after an appeal. Apple has also been gifted a preliminary injunction preventing Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 7.7, which has already forced Samsung to prevent it from advertising the product at the IFA show. The ban on the Galaxy Tab no longer applies to other EU countries.
Hacking & Security
The four men appearing in court this week in connection with Anonymous and LulzSec were granted an unusual bail until a hearing in November – they may use the internet so long as they do not use specific online nicknames. Christopher Weatherhead cannot use ‘Nerdo’; Ashley Rhodes cannot use ‘NikonElite’; Peter Gibson cannot use ‘Peter’, which must be somewhat inconvenient. The same ban also applies to the 17-year-old from Chester. The judge said it was “unworkable” to ban the men from using the internet entirely.
The NBC News Twitter feed was hacked this week by a group calling themselves ‘The Script Kiddies’, who posted fake messages stating that Ground Zero in New York had been attacked. These claims are, obviously, false. The same group has previously broken into the Fox News Twitter account to post messages about the supposed death of Barack Obama.
Apple has released a security update for its Snow Leopard and Lion operating systems, which revokes compromised DigiNotar security certificates. It is recommended that this update be applied as soon as possible.
Dead Island was released for the PC this week, but considerable technical problems mean that two patches have already been released and the game is still not as polished as it ought to be. Issues have been reported where adjusting the resolution will crash the game, walking over water causes a graphical glitch, and it seems that the multiplayer still does not work at all. It is worth noting that the game appears to work fine on consoles.
Google has been culling and streamlining its product line this week, removing some services entirely and rolling others into more successful services such as Chrome or Google+. Services which will no longer exist include: Aardvark; Google Desktop; Fast Flip; Google Maps API for Flash; Google Pack; Google Web Security; Image Labeler; Notebook; Sidewiki; and Subscribed Links. Never heard of any of them? Exactly.
Eric Schmidt announced that the next version of Android, called Ice Cream Sandwich, will be released in October or November. ICS is expected to bring together Android for phones (2.x) and Android for tablets (3.x) into one unified operating system. Google is also rumoured to be set to launch a new flagship smartphone at the same time as ICS, to compete with the iPhone 5.
The Guardian has released an Android version of its mobile app. Unlike the iPhone version, which uses a subscription model, the Android version is free and ad-supported. Before anyone gets upset, it is worth noting that the Guardian‘s website (including the mobile version) is free for anyone to access.
Sales of the Nintendo 3DS have gained some momentum after the handheld’s price was cut by $80, with an increase in sales of over 260% for the period following the cut. However, despite starting to outsell the original DS, the 3DS has failed to have the impact Nintendo hoped for.
Microsoft made tech headlines this week by announcing that it has developed a new hybrid boot process for its upcoming Windows 8 operating system, which should allow computers running Windows 8 on a solid state drive to boot up in as little as 10 seconds. The hybrid process uses a mixture of the traditional “cold” boot process and the hibernate feature included in some previous versions of Windows.
Tim Cook, newly appointed CEO of Apple, has begun making his mark by reintroducing philanthropy to the company. According to an email sent to staff, Apple will now match charitable donations made by its US workers, up to $10,000 annually. This is due to be expanded to Apple employees in other parts of the world, and seems only fitting for the world’s second richest company – although Apple did donate large sums to charity under previous CEO Steve Jobs, there has been a distinct lack of activity compared to other large companies.
Diaspora, the social networking project designed to be open and give its users complete control over what they share, is now sending out alpha invitations. In a blog post, the Diaspora team claimed to have influenced both Facebook and Google+ (indeed, the little-known project does look and work a lot like Google+), although how much impact they have really had is debatable. If you would like to a sign up for an alpha invitation, you can go here.
According to a forecast from Wireless Intelligence, by the end of 2011, there will be over 6 billion mobile connections in the world. For comparison, the global population will have just surpassed 7 billion at that time. The boom in connectivity has come from demand in Asia and Africa, as well as countries like China and Brazil, with around 1 billion connections added in the last 16 months alone. By the end of the year, it is estimated that the Asia-Pacific region will account for 50% of all connections.
A supercomputer running some very clever software might be able to predict major world events by analysing news articles from around the globe. So far the analysis has only been applied to historical events, such as the death of Osama Bin Laden or the fall of President Mubarak in Egypt, but creator Kalev Leetaru at the University of Illinois says it could easily be adapted to work in real-time, potentially generating better intelligence than even government services. The software works by deciding the ‘mood’ of an article, and then by mapping any locations mentioned, to generate a graph of ‘sentiment’ against time. The full article is very interesting.