TechNews Pinboard #485

2017: AI’s Coming Out Party

E-Comerce Times – Artificial intelligence will be having a big coming out party in 2017. While there are plenty of opportunities in this space for workers, executives, investors and partners, not every company that uses the term “AI” in its marketing will become a serious winner in the field.

5 Big Predictions for Artificial Intelligence in 2017

MIT Technology Review – Expect to see better language understanding and an AI boom in China, among other things.

Why connecting all the world’s robots will drive 2017’s top technology trends

The Conversation – If you want to make predictions for the future, you need to find the trajectory of events in the past. So to work out what shape digital technology will likely take next year, we should look back to the major developments of 2016. And the past year’s developments point to a 2017 shaped by the next phase of virtual and augmented reality, the emergence of an internet for artificial intelligence and the creation of personalised digital assistants that follow us across devices.

Driverless New Year: Self-Driving Startups To Watch in 2017

CES: 5 Things To Watch at the Biggest Tech Show of the Year

NewsFactor Network – Virtual reality/augmented reality are poised to be the rabbit everyone chases at the upcoming CES 2017 trade show in Las Vegas — a massive consumer electronics extravaganza that opens Jan. 5.

How to Think Like a Futurist

MIT Technology Review – Some technological trends fizzle out while others overturn everything. Author Amy Webb explains how she discerns which ones will go in which direction.

The Robotic Grocery Store of the Future Is Here

MIT Technology Review – Swarm robotics, autonomous delivery vehicles, and machine-learned preferences will help deliver your food faster.

Bitcoin Rides the Uncertainty Wave

E-Comerce Times – The price of bitcoin soared to a new three-year high on Monday, surpassing the US$1,000 mark for the first time, in response to economic and geopolitical uncertainty in China following the U.S. presidential election.

How much are you worth to Facebook? A free tool now provides the answer

CORDIS – It is a well-known fact that Facebook is more than a social media channel. Each year, the company makes about 4 billion dollars in advertising revenues. What people advertising on Facebook did not know until now, however, is how much profit their own activity actually generates.

The Making of Virtually Real Art With Google’s Tilt Brush

New York Times – Google is calling on dozens of artists, animators and illustrators to serve as Artists in Residence for the VR painting app, Tilt Brush.

Study: carpooling apps could reduce traffic 75%

MIT CSAIL – Transportation studies put the annual cost of congestion at $160 billion, which includes 7 billion hours of time lost to sitting in traffic and an extra 3 billion gallons of fuel burned. One way to improve traffic is through ride-sharing – and a new MIT study suggests that using carpooling options from companies like Uber and Lyft could reduce the number of vehicles on the road 75 percent without significantly impacting travel time.

Britney Spears Is Not Dead; Sony Blames Hackers for Tweet

NewsFactor Network – “Sony Music Entertainment’s Twitter account was compromised. This has been rectified,” it said. “Sony Music apologizes to Britney Spears and her fans for any confusion.”

Why Is There No Fake News on LinkedIn? Its Editor Explains

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#467 July 5, 2016 – Hummingbad Attacks Android

This week’s headline story: Hummingbad Attacks Android

android_malwareNew malware named Hummingbad, has targeted and infected over 85 million Android devices. Researchers have tied the malware to Yingmob, a Chinese advertising and analytics company. Once it successfully infects and sets up a rootkit on Android devices (giving it full administrative control), Hummingbad generates as much as $300,000 a month for Yingmob through fraudulent app installs and ad clicks. Not only that, but by infecting thousands of new devices each day, Yingmob can then use those devices in a botnet, enabling the group to launch more targeted attacks against businesses and government agencies, or even sell the access it has gained on the black market. This is the first example of a supposedly legitimate organization investing in malware development as a business tool to sustain and grow the company.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Zuckerberg Funds Andela To Train Elite Developers Across Africa [NewsFactor]
    Several years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife Priscilla Chan created a limited liability company named ChanZuckerberg with the goal of “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” This week ChanZuckerberg made its first major investment in a young startup company called Andela. Andela aims to train highly skilled software developers across Africa who can then work remotely for companies around the world. The two-year-old company, raised $24 million in Series B funding led by the ChanZuckerberg initiative.

in Information Security News…

  • Millions of Health Records Appear for Sale on Dark Web [NewsFactor]
    A hacker on the dark web, using the name “thedarkoverlord,” is offering to sell a database with more than 9.3 million patient records for 750 Bitcoins, valued at around $485,000. The hacker’s market listing claimed the plaintext data belonged to “a large insurance healthcare organization in the United States.” No healthcare organization has yet confirmed the loss of the data.
  • White Hat Hacker Nabs Database of Terror Suspects [NewsFactor]
    A database containing the names of people suspected to be involved in terrorism and organized crime has been obtained by a white hat hacker who is deciding what to do with it. The records belong to World-Check Risk Screening, an organization that helps clients screen for heightened-risk individuals and entities globally to help uncover hidden risks in business relationships and human networks. That includes details about people and organizations suspected to be involved in money laundering, organized crime and terrorism.

and in Tech Industry News…

and finally,

  • Cyborg locusts with tattooed wings can sniff out bombs [Engadget]
    Researchers from the Washington University in St. Louis have found a new use for locusts. A three-year $750,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research, is enabling the researchers to implant electrodes into the insects brains, tattoo the bugs’ wings with biocompatible silk, and strap on little transmitter backpacks, transforming the big bugs into bomb-sniffing robots. The robobugs can be driven like a drone, and their highly sensitive antennae used to sniff out bombs much more accurately than robots in use today.


#449 February 29, 2016 – Apple fights court order

This week’s headline story: Apple fights court order

applefbiThe ongoing dispute between Apple and the federal government has left the country evenly divided over which side to support. An Ipsos poll found that just under half of Americans (46 percent) support Apple’s opposition to the court order demanding that the tech giant create software to bypass the security of its iPhone for the FBI. Thirty-five percent disagreed with the company’s decision to fight the demands, and 20 percent didn’t have an opinion. Apple is scheduled to testify in Congress tomorrow that unlocking the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters would leave hundreds of millions of Apple device owners vulnerable to cybercriminals and other hackers.

Other Headline News…

  • Zuckerberg To Press on with Internet Access Despite Setback [NewsFactor]
    Indian regulators are blocking Mark Zuckerberg’s attempts to bring free Internet to the unserved masses in India. They have banned software from Zuckerberg’s campaign called Free Basics, because it provides access only to certain pre-approved services — including Facebook — rather than the full Internet.
  • Google Eyes San Francisco for Gigabit Fiber Service [NewsFactor]
    Tech giant Google might be learning an important lesson about where it installs high-speed fiber: Go where the cabling is. The company has announced plans to take advantage of existing but unused cabling in San Francisco to bring the high-speed fiber service to some residents in that city.
  • Mercedes replaces robots with people on its assembly line [Engadget]
    Mercedes-Benz is replacing some of its high-tech workers with real live humans. As it turns out, robots can’t keep up with the degree of customization that the automaker offers on its S-Class sedans. Mercedes head of production Markus Schaefer says”We’re saving money and safeguarding our future by employing more people.” Mercedes is still using robots but in situations where they work alongside humans instead of being confined behind glass.

in Information Security News…

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and in Tech Industry news…

  • Fitbit Leads Surge in Wearable Sales [Ecommerce Times]
    Fitbit has grown to be the most popular wearable device on the market. The Fitbit fitness band makes up about a quarter of the entire Worldwide Wearable Device market, with the Apple Watch coming in second with about 18 percent. The wearable market grew 171.6 percent over the course of 2015.
  • Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton is as understated as ever [Computerworld]
    For those into hacking hardware, there’s a new Raspberry Pi circuit board that’s been released. The Pi 3 has a 64-bit chip, wi-fi, Bluetooth, and a double-clocked GPU, yet it’s backwards-compatible with older models, and costs a mere $35.
  • Facebook Gives Marketers a Blank Canvas [Ecommerce Times]
    Watch for more flashy ads coming to your smart phone thanks to Facebook. The social media giant released a new tool for marketers called Canvas. Using Canvas, marketers can develop fast-loading graphically-intense advertisements that pop up when an ad is tapped in the Facebook Newsfeed.

Nov 17 – 23

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This week’s headline story: The Beginning of the End of US Phone Network

1New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is pushing for a massive overhaul of communication networks in the U.S. — from old copper lines to Internet-based technologies. Over the past two decades, voice and data traveling over US telecommunications networks have all become digitized. Where once, analogue voice signals dominated the lines, today, digital data traffic dominates. It simply no longer makes sense to maintain old analogue-based technologies. In fact, it is costly to maintain those old network technologies that only serve as bottlenecks to the flow of digital data. Wheeler and others believe that transitioning to purely digital networks could result in a significant economic boost for the U.S.. Others worry that the transition will benefit the telecom companies at the expense of their customers, and possibly disenfranchise people in rural areas.

Transitioning to a Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP network, is a costly undertaking. This is particularly true in rural areas where long expensive fiber optic cables are hard to justify for the comparatively small amount of use they would get. Naturally the telecom companies hope to fund the upgrades with higher fees to consumers or government subsidies. But ultimately, the upgrades will benefit the telecom companies by reducing their costs, so some feel that the telecom companies should incur the bulk of the costs of the upgrade.

These are just a few of the issues that the FCC will confront at its January meeting where it hope to develop recommendations regarding the upgrade. Wheeler says that methods of informing and protecting consumers will be a major area of focus.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • Yahoo to Tie Up Data With Neat Encryption Bow [Ecommerce Times]
    Engineers Plan a Fully Encrypted Internet [MIT Review]
    The revelations about NSA-engineered government snooping provided by documents leaked by Edward Snowden are spurring efforts to bolster the protection of online consumer data with encryption. Yahoo has announced that it will extend the 2048-bit encryption planned for Yahoo Mail across its entire network of sites and services in order to protect data from snooping government agencies. Meanwhile the Internet Engineering Task Force, or IETF, that governs much of the technology on which the Web is built, is working frantically to add encryption to the http protocol so that all web traffic can become encrypted.
  • LG Smart TVs May Spy On Users [NewsFactor]
    Are you concerned about your privacy online and on your cell phone? Well you can add your TV to the list. LG Electronics is looking into claims that its smart TVs violate user privacy settings and send data on user viewing habits around the world. The claims come from a technically-minded blogger who says that he has evidence that data packets containing his family’s TV, and movie viewing habits were collected by LG.
  • FCC May Permit Cellphone Yakking on Flights [Ecommerce Times]
    Now that the FAA has ruled that using electronic devices during take-offs and landings is safe, the FCC is considering mobile phone use. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced Thursday that the commission is considering changing its rules regarding the use of cellphones and mobile broadband in an effort to offer consumers more flexibility when flying. The rule change would allow fliers to use cellphones and mobile broadband services, including for voice calls, after an airplane reached an elevation of 10,000 feet.
  • The Secret Ingredient in Computational Creativity [MIT Tech Review]
    Can computers be creative? IBM thinks so. The company has built a computational creativity machine that produces results that a knowledgeable human would consider novel, useful and even valuable—the hallmarks of genuine creativity. Read all about it using the link in the show notes.

and in Information Security news this week..

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and in Tech Industry news…

  • Samsung Crowns Galaxy Gear Most Popular Smartwatch [Ecommerce Times]
    Samsung claims Galaxy Gear smartwatch sales exceeded 800,000 in the last two months, but it is unclear how many of the watches are actually on consumers’ wrists. If Samsung has indeed sold that many smartwatches, and not simply shipped that many to retailers, it would make Samsug the reigning king of the latest wearable computer category. Among its Intern-connected features, the Samsung Galaxy Gear works hand-in-hand with a Samsung Galaxy smart phone to alert the wearer to incoming messages, and providing a means to open the message for viewing on the corresponding Samsung Galaxy phone.
  • Debit Card Brings Google Wallet Offline [Ecommerce Times]
    Google is hoping to jump-start its eWallet app by providing debit cards. Now users of Google Wallet, can get a free debit card that can be used to pay for items from their Google Wallet account, with no fees attached. Google is interested in getting users onboard with its eWallet application as it would provide the company with much more information about its user’s personal habits and interests.
  • Jury Tips Toward Apple With $290M Samsung Penalty [Ecommerce Times]
    A federal jury in California has decided that Samsung Electronics must pay Apple US$290 million in damages for infringing five of its patents.
  • Apple Reportedly Buying Company Behind Kinect Tech [NewsFactor]
    Apple has purchased the company responsible for developing Microsoft’s Kinect game controller. Kinect allows users to interact with Microsoft’s Xbox console using hand or body motions. It is not clear if Apple is interested in getting involved with the technology or simply wants to keep it out of its competitors hands.
  • Xbox vs. PlayStation: Beginning of the End for Consoles? [MIT Technology Review]
    The next generation of game consoles are now on store shelves. Sony’s PlayStation 4 launched in the U.S. a little over a week ago, while Microsoft’s Xbox One went on sale just last week. These are the first new game console offerings from the two companies in seven years! The consoles are a technological leap over their predecessors in both processing power and screen resolution. Each has a powerful external camera that facilitates facial recognition and motion control. Sony’s focus is on the core “gamer” while Microsoft’s more expensive Xbox One has a broader aim, acting as an HDMI-enabled set-top box as well as offering a vast array of non-game apps, from streaming TV and movie services to a camera-enabled fitness program.

and finally…

  • Google Opening Hardware Showrooms [newsFactor]
    Google is opening showrooms in six American cities: Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Paramus in New Jersey. The six are in addition to at least two showrooms, previously announced, that are being built on barges. Unlike the barge showrooms, the city-based showrooms will be so-called pop-up stores, in that they have a limited lifespan for the holidays. Named Winter Wonderlabs, they will present Nexus 7 tablets, Chromebook computers and Chromecast dongles for video streaming.

Sept 20 – 28

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This week’s headline story: Google’s New Algorithm

new-google-algorithmHappy birthday Google! The Internet giant turned 15 years old last week. In celebration of its birthday, Google held a press conference at the Menlo Park, Calif., garage where Google was launched, announcing a new search algorithm called “Hummingbird.” With Hummingbird, Google search results become more useful and relevant, especially when you ask Google long, complex questions such as “who were the best jazz musicians in the 20th century?” and “how does butter compare to olive oil?”

“Google is trying to embrace natural language search more fully, especially as more people start to use voice search via their smartphones,” notes Ken Saunders, president of Search Engine Experts. “As a result, search queries get longer and use more words.” Google is betting that smartphone users will prefer Google’s search technology over Apple’s Siri. In addition to improving search for Android users, a new improved Google search app that utilizes Hummingbird will be available for iPhone and iPad users in mid-October.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • Back in the year 2000, 7 years after the first web browser was released, only half of the U.S. population was using the Internet. Today 85 percent of the US population is online. The remaining 15 percent are not offline due to the digital divide or some form of social injustice. They are mostly offline by choice. The Pew Internet & American Life Project estimates that 92 percent of offline adults are not interested in using the Internet and email and won’t become interested in the future.Little Interest in Internet Among the Offline 15 Percent [Ecommerce Times]

and in Information Security news this week…

  • Los Angeles Unified School District officials have halted a $1 billion program aimed at putting iPads in the hands of every student in the nation’s second-largest school system. The locked down, custom designed iPads, intended to be used only for schoolwork, were hacked within a week, providing students with access to social media, streaming music, and everything else online.High School Students Breach School iPads’ Security [NewsFactor]

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Apple has once again broken sales records, selling 9 million new iPhone 5s and 5c models in just three days after the launch on Sept. 20.How Apple Really Set New iPhone Sales Records [NewsFactor]
  • Apple iOS7’s new iTunes Radio service is fast becoming the most popular music streaming service on iOS 7with more than 11 million people using the service.11 Million People Already Using iTunes Radio [NewsFactor]
  • Amazon has released the Kindle Fire HDX tablet. The 3rd generation Kindle Fire comes in 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions with an HDX display, a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, more memory and dual stereo speakers. It also includes free 24x7x365 tech support. Amazon is able to sell its new tablet at only slightly higher than cost, undercutting competitors like the iPad, due to Amazon’s ability to make money from selling content like books, music, movies, and software.Amazon’s Fire HDX Could Torch the Competition [Ecommerce Times]
  • Google is opening its Google Shopping Express service to shoppers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Google Shopping Express is a premium service that offers free same-day delivery from chain stores, including Whole Foods, Target, Office Depot and Walgreens.Google Makes It Official With Same-Day Delivery Debut [Ecommerce Times]

and finally…

  • Blackberry has agreed to an intent-to-purchase $4.7 billion deal that would take it private. Fairfax Financial Holdings, which already owns about 10 percent of the smartphone maker, has signed a letter of intent to pay $9 a share in cash for the company.BlackBerry Signs Letter of Intent, May Sell for $4.7 Billion [NewsFactor]

Sept 15 – 21

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This week’s headline story: New iPhones are Here!

iphone-5sThe tech news that captured the most attention this week was Apples release of the iPhone 5c and 5s. Sales of the new iPhones are expected to surpass 5 million in their first week, putting the new models equal to releases of previous iPhones. The 5c is a lower priced plastic iPhone that comes in a rainbow of colors. The iPhone 5s is more powerful with a new fingerprint scanning feature that unlocks the phone. The phones come with the new iOS 7 which was also released as an upgrade for prevoius versions of the iPhone and iPad. Millions of iPhone and iPad users hammered the Apple website Thursday to download the new OS. iOS7 is a significant departure from previous versions of iOS with a new look and feel, and new features that include

  • a Control Center for quick access to common functions
  • a Notification Center for easy access to incoming communications, calander appointments, and to-do items
  • streamlined multitasking
  • improved camera features
  • and Airdrop to share photos, videos, contacts and other data with other iPhone users.

iOS 7 has quickly risen to be the top mobile operating system in use today.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • Vitor Pamplona is about to shake up the eye-care industry. He’s invented a device called the Netra-G, that costs a few dollars to make, and performs the same function as a $5,000 instrument called an autorefractor used by eye doctors. The Netra-G looks like toy binoculars that connect to a mobile phone. Using the Netra-G app, the gadget is able to measure the refractive error of the eye, resulting in a prescription for eye glasses or contact lenses. Talk about disruptive technologies!When Smartphones Do a Doctor’s Job [Technology Review]
  • The United Kingdom now has a Massively Open Online Course platform of its own called FutureLearn. Developed by the UK’s Open University, FutureLearn currently offers 20 courses, with many more coming from 21 UK universities, plus Trinity College Dublin and Monash University in Australia. FutureLearn courses are available for anyone in the world to take for free. The FutureLearn platform is cross-platform and can be utilized on PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. It has a “rich social architecture” which makes it easy for students to discuss class topics and help each other with problems. Check it out at enters global online university race [BBC]
  • Getting through security at the airport might soon become faster, smoother and more secure thanks to Google Glass. The airport industry IT group SITA has developed applications for Google Glass that will automate the task of comparing photo IDs, boarding passes, and passenger faces to clear passengers more quickly and detect terrorists more accurately.How can airports and airlines use wearable technology to enhance the passenger experience? [Future Travel Experience]
  • Google is working on new technology that could do away with third-party cookies, the data packets deposited on your computer that allow advertisers to track your online activities. Google’s anonymous identifier for advertising, or AdID, would replace third-party cookies providing advertisers with anonymous data. The goal is to improve users’ privacy while ensuring the Web remains economically viable.Google May Ditch Cookies as Online Ad Tracker [NewsFactor]

and in Information Security news this week…

  • The new iPhone S has been out less than a week, and already there is a contest to hack its revolutionary fingerprint-based security system. Apple has billed Touch ID as an innovative way to securely unlock your iPhone with the touch of a finger. Built into the home button, Touch ID uses a laser cut sapphire crystal, together with the capacitive touch sensor, to take a high-resolution image of your fingerprint and intelligently analyze it to provide accurate readings from any angle. All of this happens right on the device so that fingerprint data is kept private. The person or team that can circumvent the new biometric system will win a prize package that includes $10,000 from venture capital firm IO Capital.Hacking Contest Targets Apple Touch ID [NewsFactor]
  • A hacker disguised as a maintenance engineer, attempted to install a rogue piece of hardware onto a computer at a London branch of the Spanish bank Santander. If successful, the trick would have provided a hacker group with access to millions. 12 suspects have been arrested.Bank Hacking Plot Shows New Cybercrime Potential [NewsFactor]
  • Microsoft is officially investigating public reports of a vulnerability and admits it is aware of targeted attacks that attempt to exploit the zero-day flaw in Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9. The company has released a workaround known to prevent hackers from exploiting the software.Microsoft Pushes Workaround for IE Emergency [NewsFactor]
  • In this age of corporate cyberspies and government snoops, several start-up companies are betting that you will be interested in protecting your communications with strong encryption. Wickr, a free app that encrypts text, voice and video messages, leaves no trace of your cybermusings on servers or on the device. Start-ups Silent Circle, Koolspan and Seecrypt offer systems that use encryption to lock down cellphone calls and e-mails.Tech Startups Predict Encryptions To Go Mainstream [NewsFactor]

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Google is now offering its Quickoffice app for free. Quickoffice, which was acquired by Google a year ago, allows users to view, create or edit Microsoft Office Excel, Word and PowerPoint files on an iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet. The move is likely to cause some unrest at Microsoft.Google Offers Quickoffice for Free [NewsFactor]
  • Microsoft has made enhancements to Bing that include an updated look for the homepage, new functionalities and an increased emphasis on Bing as a platform rather than just results from a search box.Bing Search Engine Gets a Modern Makeover [NewsFactor]

and finally…

Sept 1 – 7

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This week’s headline story: More from Edward Snowden

edward_snowdenFrom his hideout in Russia, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has released more top secret government documents to the Washington Post. The latest leaked documents reveal that the U.S. intelligence community utilizes one fifth of its $52.6 billion annual budget to fund cryptography-related programs and operations. These programs make it possible for the NSA to decrypt just about any information flowing over the Internet including business and bank transactions, email and other communications.

The leaked documents also reveal that the U.S. intelligence services carried out 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011 in what was the leading edge of a clandestine campaign to embrace the Internet as a theater of spying, sabotage and war. Under one extensive cyber-effort code-named GENIE, U.S. computer specialists broke into foreign networks and placed them under surreptitious U.S. control. The report indicates that China was among the top targets of cyber operations carried out by U.S. intelligence services.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

and in Information Security news this week…

  • Father of the Internet and chief Internet evangelist for Google, Vint Cerf, says that the Internet needs a “cyber fire department” to tackle online issues that arise so that risks found on websites or services do not spread. Cerf argues that like a fire brigade a response force would help protect those without the means to defend themselves.Internet needs ‘cyber fire department’ to protect web users, claims Vint Cerf [v3]
  • Researchers at the International Computer Science Institute and UC Berkeley want teens to understand how much private information can be gleaned from their social media updates. Specifically, they hope teens will learn that the metadata accompanying a casual tweet or photo on Instagram can be used to “cybercase” a person’s home, a technique commonly employed by robbers to discover the best time to break into a home. Backed by a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the researchers have built a privacy app called Ready or Not that shows a heat map of 30 days’ worth of geographic coordinates taken from a user’s Twitter or Instagram account. The group has also posted a website that teaches ten principles of social media privacy at

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Microsoft is purchasing handset maker Nokia for $7.2 billion. The purchase highlights the struggle that the Finnish handset maker has experienced since its switch to developing Microsoft Windows smartphones. The purchase provides Microsoft with Nokia’s thick portfolio of patents, and tighter integration between software and hardware. Microsoft stock fell 4.6 percent after the news, but Nokia’s stock increased by 47%. In related news, Verizon announced it would pay Vodafone $130 billion for the 45 percent of Verizon Wireless that it didn’t already own. That makes Verizon Wireless roughly 40 times more valuable than Nokia.Microsoft Takeover of Nokia Fans Fears in Finland [NewsFactor]

    The Numbers in the Microsoft-Nokia Deal Are Telling [MIT Technology Review]

  • A company named Oyster is using the Netflix subscription model for ebooks. For $9.95 a month, the Oyster mobile app provides unlimited access to over 100,000 ebooks. The new service is currently only available for iPhone via invite.Oyster Takes a Crack at E-Book Subscriptions [Ecommerce Times]
  • Apple is holding a press event this Tuesday to announce the iPhone 5S. Invitations for the event featured colorful polkadots hinting at a wide range of colors for the new iPhone.Colorful Invites to Apple Press Event Mean… [NewsFactor]

and finally…

Do you MOOC?

MIT’s open-source online learning platform, MITx has launched its first course. The course is an electrical engineering course titled Circuits and Electronics and has 90,000 students enrolled on campus and off. MITx is MIT’s latest experiment in MOOC – Massively Open Online Course where anyone in the world with an Internet connection can enroll in an MIT course to view lectures, work on projects, and take exams. Stanford is offering five new MOOCs with classes beginning March 19th. The courses are Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Natural Language Processing, Cryptography, Game Theory, and Probabilistic Graphical Models. Enrollment is currently at 335,000 students registered.

First course offered by MITx begins [MIT News]
Stanford offers more free online classes for the world [Stanford Report]

Kodak Downsizes

Kodak, the company synonymous with photography, is fighting its final battle to stay in business. Established in 1880, Kodak is associated with inexpensive cameras, film, and film processing. Kodak’s problems began with the birth of digital cameras. Suddenly the public no longer needed to have film developed, which was the company’s the primary source of income. Kodak changed its focus from developing film, to selling cameras, and online photo services. Unfortunately, Kodak went digital too late to compete effectively with already established digital photo services. A few weeks ago, Kodak filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This week, the company announced that it will stop manufacturing cameras, pocket video cameras, and picture frames. The company is hoping it can survive by focusing on photo kiosks, printers, Facebook apps, online galleries, camera batteries and accessories.

Facebook Files for IPO

After years of rumors and speculation, Facebook has finally filed for a public stock offering. Facebook plans to raise $5 billion in an initial public offering, or IPO. The price the stock fetches is anticipated to value Facebook at somewhere between $75 and $100 billion, making hundreds of Facebook employees instant millionaires.

Facebook’s annual profit of $1 billion in 2011 doesn’t actually support such a high valuation. Investors will be gambling on the value of the data Facebook collects on its over 800 million users. And a gamble it is, since privacy legislation at home or abroad could have a profound impact on what Facebook can do with the information it collects. As Facebook goes public, it will be under more pressure to increase profits, and is bound to push the limits of its user’s tolerance regarding privacy.

As Facebook goes public, it is obligated to disclose previously private information about how the company is run. Founder Mark Zuckerberg is clearly the man in charge at Facebook, and plans to continue being the primary decision-maker after the company goes public. He describes Facebook’s approach to product development as “The Hacker Way” – a process involving continuous improvement and iteration.