April 6 – 13, 2013

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This week’s headline story: Bitcoin – A Wild, Unregulated Digital Currency

bitcoin-600x400A new kind of currency gained national attention this week when it was discovered that the Winklevoss twins, who you may remember as the Olympic rowers who claim to be the legal owners of Facebook, own around $11 million of the stuff. Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not managed by any government or central authority. It was created by a group of hackers in 2009 and is managed by a system of servers called bitcoin miners that track bitcoin transactions, and produce and sell 25 new bitcoins every 10 minutes. Yes, people pay real cash for bitcoins. One bitcoin goes for around $120. They are likely to go up in value in 2017, when bitcoin miners are programed to reduce production by 50 percent.

Because they are unregulated, bitcoins provide individuals with the ability to perform all kinds of transactions “off the books.” As many as 70,000 bitcoin transactions can occur in any given day. As you might guess, a good percentage of those transactions are for illegal goods or gains. However, bitcoin advocates are quick to point out that many, many perfectly legal transactions occur in bitcoin every day. The Winklevos twins and others like them believe that bitcoins represent the first true global currency. Other financial analysts call bitcoins a Ponzi scheme and a bubble waiting to burst leaving investors broke. Serious investors are beginning to invest in bitcoins on the chance that the currency might just take off and make a fortune for early investors.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • New technologies from AT&T and Japan’s NTT dramatically increase the distance that data can travel through long distance fiber-optic connections. The new breakthrough will help telecom companies cope with the anticipated surge in data use—projected at 30 to 40 percent a year, by increasing the throughput of undersea fiber optic cables.
    AT&T Researchers Set a Long-Haul Data Record [Tech Review]
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley leaders have teamed up to form a political-focused group named Fwd.us (pronounced “forward us”). Forward Us is committed to reform U.S. immigration policy so that talented, skilled immigrants are provided a path to citizenship. It also calls for higher standards and accountability in schools and increased focus on learning about science, technology, engineering and math. The end goal is to address the shortage of science, technology and engineering professionals in the U.S. to allow the country to advance economically.
    Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Gets Political [NewsFactor]
  • An online survey of around 3,000 respondents by VitalSmarts found that 78 percent of users believe online incivility is rising, and 2 in 5 users have blocked, unsubscribed or unfriended someone over an argument conducted via social media.The firm recommends keeping an eye on the use of offensive words, pausing to keep emotions in check, pointing out areas of agreement before noting the disagreements, and taking emotional conversations offline.
    Rising Rudeness in Social Media, Study Finds [NewsFactor]
  • Verizon and other wireless carriers have altered their privacy policies to begin selling member location data anonymously. The huge data sets show where people live, work, and play and should yield some valuable information for businesses, city planners, health professionals, and others. The move also provides carriers with a new sources of revenue.
    How Wireless Carriers Are Monetizing Your Movements [TechnologyReview]

and in Information Security news this week…

  • The latest security patch from Microsoft has caused some Windows 7 PCs to crash and not recover. “We’ve determined that the update, when paired with certain third-party software , can cause system errors,” said Dustin Childs, group manager of Response Communications for Microsoft Trustworthy Computing. Microsoft advises that Windows 7 users uninstall the update to revert to the pre-patch state.
    Windows Security Patch Killing Some PCs [NewsFactor]

and in Tech Industry news…

  • The PC market is down 13.9 percent compared with the year-ago, the steepest decline ever in a single quarter. Some analysts are blaming the decline on Microsoft’s new Windows 8 which some say not only failed to stimulate the market, but actually may have effectively killed it.
    Did Win 8 Kill the PC Market? Worst Quarterly Drop Ever [NewsFactor]
  • Google Glass is coming! The head-mounted computer will be released within a month and will cost $1500.
    Google Glass Shipping Within a Month — for $1,500 [NewsFactor]
  • Facebook has begun charging its users to send messages to individuals outside their friends list. It now costs $1 per message to send a message to a non-friend’s inbox. In the UK Facebook charges $15 per message to message celebrities. The new policy is intended to reduce spam, while making Facebook some money.
    Spam Attack? Facebook’s $1 Message Charge Expands [NewsFactor]
  • LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, has purchased mobile newsreader app Pulse. The acquisition indicates LinkedIn’s aspirations to become the go-to resource for industry-specific news on mobile devices.
    LinkedIn’s Mobile Strategy Gets a Pulse [Ecommerce Times]

and finally….

  • Google has created new policies that allows its members to decide what happens to their data when they die. Google members can choose whether to delete their data after three, six, nine or 12 months of account inactivity. Alternatively, users can designate a digital next-of-kin to receive their data. The new policies provide users with privacy after death, and also address the immense amount of data that is accumulating online.
    How Long To Let a Digital Life Linger? Google Lets You Pick [NewsFactor]

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