December 24 – 31, 2012

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This week’s headline story: Top Tech News of 2012

All of the technology news agencies have published their list of the top tech news stories of 2012. You can read several by using the links in the show notes. According to the articles, 2012 will be remembered as

  • the year Microsoft launched Windows 8, creating a unified system across PCs, tablets, and mobile phones,
  • it was the year of BIG DATA – a term that became the tech buzzword of the year, as companies struggle to analyze and utilize zettabytes of the data generated by consumers online,
  • it was the year of the Massively Open Online Course or MOOC – the other tech buzz-term of the year, starting with just a few colleges offering a few courses to dozens of colleges offering thousands of courses online for free,
  • 2012 was the year Facebook went public, with an over-inflated stock price which eventually stabilized at a little less than half its original price,
  • it was the year that the Stop Online Piracy Act known as SOPA was stopped with the help of massive online protests,
  • it was the year Apple, Samsung, Amazon, and others released smaller 7″ tablets,
  • it was also the year Microsoft released its own tablet named Surface,
  • 2012 was the year Apple maps launched and failed,
  • and the year of Apple vs. Samsung in a seemingly never-ending copyright court battle,
  • it was the year Instagram took off
  • and Nintendo took the next step in console gaming with the released of the Wii U
  • 2012 was the year of the first social-media-focused presidential election
  • it was the year “mobile went global” with global smartphone shipments increasing by 45 percent over 2011,
  • and the year Samsung became the dominant mobile phone manufacturer, pushing Android to the top of the mobile OS market

That’s 2012 in a nutshell. 2013 promises to be an amazing year for tech innovation, so be sure to stay tuned.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich has employed over 40 engineers and scientists to construct the next generation humanoid robot. Roboy is a tendon-driven robot, so it will move almost as elegantly as a human. Roboy will be covered with “soft skin,” making interacting with him safer and more pleasant. Roboy’s birthday is scheduled for sometime in September.
    Advanced humanoid Roboy to be ‘born’ in nine months [Kurzweil]
  • The huge demand for Netflix movies on Christmas eve, crashed Netflix servers and left many looking for alternative sources for entertainment. The outage reflects poorly on Amazon and its cloud computing service on which Netflix depends. While Netflix is blaming Amazon for the outage, some analysts think Netflix should be responsible for its own servers.
    Grinch Hits Netflix on Christmas Eve; Net Services Blamed [NewsFactor]
    When Amazon Fails, the Buck Stops at Netflix [Ecommerce Times]
  • The 20-year-old man responsible for the horrific murder of 27 people — including 20 children — in Newtown, Conn., was reportedly a fan of first-person shooter games. That fact has caused game companies to tread lightly these days. Game maker, Electronic Arts has removed links from its “Medal of Honor” Web site, to makers of real weapons who partner with EA to have their weapons featured in the game.
    EA Removes Gun Vendor Links on Medal of Honor Site [NewsFactor]
  • The Pew Research Center reports that the number of consumers aged 16 and over who read e-books rose from 16 percent to 23 percent over the course of 2012. During that same period, the number who read printed books fell from 72 percent to 67 percent.
    More Americans Are Turning Page to E-Books, Pew Survey Finds [NewsFactor]
  • While the number of murders in NYCity reached a record low in 2012, theft is on the rise. The culprit? The iPhone! Criminals swiped 3,890 more iPhones, iPads and other Apple products this year than they did last year.
    iPhones Blamed for N.Y. Crime Wave [NewsFactor]
    Murder rate in New York City hits a record low with 414 homicides in 2012 [NYDaily News]

and in Information Security news this week…

  • A new Android phone spam attack has been discovered. The mobile malware arrives as a text message offering free versions of popular games. When launched it infects the phone with software that spews thousands of virulent text messages to live phone numbers each day. The malware can ring up quite a phone bill for users that don’t have unlimited texting.
    Beware: Android Virus Uses Phone To Spread Spam [NewsFactor]
  • McAfee is predicting that the development and deployment of increasingly sophisticated ransom-ware technologies that will “lock up” a phone or tablet and threaten to keep it that way until a ransom is paid, will be a prominent trend in 2013.
    McAfee Says Beware of Ransom-Ware Attacks in 2013 [NewsFactor]
  • Iran has reported a number of new cyberattacks aimed at industrial computer systems used at power plants and other industries, as well as at a Culture Ministry information center. Iran is implicating the US and Israel in the attacks.
    Iran Reports Attacks on Computer Systems [NewsFactor]
  • China’s new leadership apparently shares its predecessors’ anxiety about the Internet’s potential to spread opposition. China’s legislature has taken up a measure that would require all users to register online with their real names, so all activity can be more easily traced to the responsible individual.
    China Tightening Controls on Internet [NewsFactor]
  • Newly released documents reveal a secret NSA program named Perfect Citizen, which conducts “vulnerability exploration and research” against the computerized controllers at “large-scale” utilities including power grids and natural gas pipelines. It is assumed that the program is used to test the strength of the U.S. critical infrastructure, and to search for vulnerabilities in the systems owned by U.S enemies.
    Revealed: NSA targeting domestic computer systems in secret test [cnet]

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Google Apps is beginning to win big adoptions at Microsoft’s expense. Several large global companies and organizations have recently switched from Microsoft Office to Google Apps. The list includes the Swiss drug maker Hoffmann-La Roche, where more than 80,000 employees are now using Google Apps, and the U.S. Department of the Interior, where 90,000 use it. Google Vice President Amit Singh, head of the tech giant’s Enterprise unit, says that Google’s current goal is to win over the 90 percent of Microsoft Office users who don’t require advanced word processing features. Meanwhile, Google plans to continue improving its online apps by adding more features to better compete with Microsoft Office.
    Google Aims to Snag 90% of Microsoft Office Users [NewsFactor]
    Microsoft Hit by a Bolt from Google’s Cloud [NewsFactor]
  • A rumor too interesting to pass up, provided by Tech163.com, claims that supply chain sources have leaked details about a collaboration between Apple and Intel to create an iWatch – a wrist watch that is Bluetooth-enabled with a 1.5-inch OLED display.
    Apple, Intel Rumored Working on an iWatch [NewsFactor]

and finally….

  • Callie Schweitzer, director of marketing at Vox Media, is in trouble with the Zucherberg family for posting a private photo on Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg’s older sister, Randi, posted a family photo for her friends to view on Facebook, and Callie, thinking it was a public photo, shared it with her 40,000 Twitter followers. Randie called the move “way uncool” and chastised Callie for the social faux pas. Randi tweeted about digital etiquette. She wrote, “Always ask permission before posting a friend’s photo publicly. It’s not about privacy settings, it’s about human decency.” Lesson learned.
    Zuckerberg’s Sister Learns Facebook Privacy the Hard Way [NewsFactor]

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