February 4 – 10, 2013

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This week’s headline story: FCC Proposes Robust National Wi-fi Networks

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 10.28.09 AMThe Federal Communications Commission is proposing the creation of free, powerful Wi-Fi networks that could dramatically change wireless access to the Internet in the U.S. The plan would be the first of its kind for any country. Compared with existing Wi-Fi networks, the FCC networks would have greater penetration through walls and over hills, would be able to travel much further, and would make Wi-Fi available throughout virtually every city and many rural areas. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that “freeing up unlicensed spectrum is a vibrantly free market approach that offers low barriers to entry to innovators developing the technologies of the future, and benefits consumers.” As you might guess, the proposal is raising strong objections from the existing wireless carriers and cable operators.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • The Amber Alert system, designed to notify citizens of child abductions, has been extended to cell phones. The next time a child is abducted near you, your cell phone ma y shriek to life with an alert text message. Amber Alert messages have already taken tens of thousands of people by surprise. There is concern that, while the system is useful in catching abductors, the messages sent to cell phones are vague on details. One Amber Alert message stated “Emergency Alert: Amber Alert. An Amber Alert has been issued in your area. Please check local media. “FEMA officials said they are aware of the confusion the Amber Alerts have caused and are working with the U.S. Department of Justice to include more information in the text messages.
    Shriek! Texts on Missing Kids Startle Cell Users [NewsFactor]
  • The Federal Trade Commission has released a major report on mobile privacy in which it makes a number of recommendations to the industry. A key recommendation is that companies consider offering a Do Not Track mechanism for smartphone users, so that users could choose to opt out of having their path through apps or the Web reported to ad networks or other third parties.
    FTC Tackles Mobile Privacy with New Report [NewsFactor]
  • The use of social media during the Super Bowl was up significantly this year. Trendrr reports that there were 47.67 million instances of social-media engagement during the game this year, up from 17.4 million last year, and only 3.1 million in 2011.
    Super-Social Engagement Set Record for Super Bowl [NewsFactor]
  • The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, have found that 69 percent of online adults use some kind of social networking site like Facebook, compared with 47 percent in September 2009. It also discovered that 61 percent of current Facebook users say they have felt the need to take periodic long breaks away from Facebook.
    Need to Take a Break from Facebook? You’re Not Alone [NewsFactor]
  • Cisco is predicting that mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold over the next four years as more and more devices become connected.Cisco Predicts 13-Fold Mobile Data Traffic Increase by 2017 [NewsFactor]

and in Information Security news this week…

  • After recent reports of China-based cyber-attacks against The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Department of Energy told employees in an e-mail that its systems, too, had been infiltrated.
    Energy Dept. Reportedly Latest Target of Hackers [NewsFactor]
  • Twitter has admitted that 250,000 of its user accounts may have been hacked last week. “This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident,” said Bob Lord, Twitter’s director of Information Security, writing in a blog post. “The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked.”
    Twitter Hack ‘Not the Work of Amateurs’ [NewsFactor]
  • A hacker broke into several e-mail accounts belonging to friends and family of former President George W. Bush. A wealth of personal photos, correspondence, home addresses, and other sensitive information were exposed on the website The Smoking Gun. The intrusions have prompted a criminal investigation, according to published reports.
    Bush family privacy shattered after e-mails, photos exposed online
    [Ars Technica]

and in Tech Industry news…

  • It looks as though Blackberry is hoping to gain market share by taking a stance to protect its user’s privacy. The company has begun issuing notices to application developers — and consumers — anytime it finds an app approved for distribution in its BlackBerry World online store that collects more data than users might think. Blackberry’s new phones running it’s latest OS are expected to be available in the US around mid-March.
    Sneaky Apps Beware: BlackBerry Is Watching [NewsFactor]
    New BlackBerry Scheduled for Mid-March U.S. Release [NewsFactor]
  • Amazon has received patent No. 8,364,595 for a “secondary market in digital objects.” The patent describe an electronic marketplace for used e-books, music, video, computer applications and other digital content. So soon, you may be able to sell your old, unwanted ebooks, digital music, movies, and apps on Amazon.
    Save Those Old Music Files, Content Markets Are Brewing [NewsFactor]
  • Industry researcher Canalys has released a new report which concludes that worldwide PC shipments have increased by 12 percent year-over-year for the fourth quarter. What’s unique about the report is that it includes tablets as PCs, while other similar reports that don’t include tablets conclude that the PC market is slowly drying up. So if tablets are PCs, then PCs are thriving and Apple is king.
    If Tablets Are PCs, PCs Are Thriving and Apple Is King [NewsFactor]
  • Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet computer is now available to U.S. consumers. The surface has a 10.6-inch screen and includes an optional Type Cover keyboard dock that doubles as a case. The tablet comes in models with 64GB and 128GB of storage, and runs the full version of Windows 8 – unlike its predecessor that runs the more limited Windows 8 RT.
    Microsoft Surface Pro goes on sale Saturday [Computerworld]
  • Sony is poised to unveil the next PlayStation game console on Feb. 20, a date that would give the Japanese electronics company a head start over Microsoft ‘s expected announcement of an Xbox 360 successor in June.
    New PlayStation Announcement To Trump Microsoft [NewsFactor]
  • Amazon has come up with it’s own form of currency: Amazon coins, and is using it to promote its Kindle Fire. The company plans to give Kindle Fire users tens of millions of dollars’ worth of free Amazon Coins to spend on apps in the Amazon Appstore. One Amazon Coin equals one penny of value. Who knows, perhaps perks will expand to purchases of other products on Amazon.
    Kindle Fire Users to Get Pennies From Heaven [ecommerce times]

and finally….

  • We often hear about private companies going pubic – for example Facebook’s initial public offering made headlines last year. We rarely hear about public companies going private. This week Michael Dell made headlines by signing a leveraged buyout agreement worth $24.4 billion, to purchase the company that he founded in his Texas dorm room. Roger Kay, senior analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, says that taking Dell private “will shelter the company from Wall Street while it makes its potentially ungraceful transformation from supplier of commodity PCs over to full-line enterprise solutions provider.” Microsoft is pitching in $2 Billion to help.
    A $24.4 Billion Bet on Dell’s Future [NewsFactor]
    Dell Hightails It Into Private Territory [Ecommerce Times]

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