Top 10 Technology Stories Of the Week – July 21st to July 28th, 2012
Phone company is watching…, Feds Wait Until…, p*rn movie pirate counter-sues…, bring down powerful people…, AC/DC virus…, Eavesdrop on Your Conversations…, Tokyo, Seoul, and Paris get faster…, Samsung: Apple…, RIP Andre Hedrick…, Gaming Catastrophe…1. Your phone company is watching (TED Talk with Standing Ovations)
While Senator Wyden has been banging the drum about privacy violations committed by the federal government under the FISA Amendments Act for quite some time, the rest of Congress seems perfectly content to stay ignorant and pretend that there’s no possible way that the feds might be abusing the powers that let them spy on nearly anyone without much (if any) oversight. So it’s interesting that Wyden was finally able to squeeze out of the Director of National Intelligence an admission that, oh yeah, the feds violated the 4th Amendment. As covered by the always awesome reporting by Spencer Ackerman at Wired:
3. Accused p*rn movie pirate counter-sues for defamation and millions in damages; he says he never downloaded an adult movie in his life, and he has filed an elaborate counter-suit; he wants millions of dollars in damages for defamation, emotional distress and invasion of privacy, among other things
One of the many alleged BitTorrent users to fall victim to copyright trolls in recent years has launched an impressive counterattack against a plaintiff who accused him of downloading an adult movie. Jeff Fantalis of Louisville wants millions of dollars in damages for defamation, emotional distress and invasion of privacy, plus a prominent retraction in a local newspaper. Fantalis further asks the court to rule that p*rn can’t be copyrighted as it is not a “useful art.”
4. When you make something that can bring down powerful people – powerful people will pay attention to you
Twenty-one-year-old college student Nadim Kobeissi is from Canada, Lebanon and the internet. He is the creator of Cryptocat, a project “to combine my love of cryptography and cats,” he explained to an overflowing audience of hackers at the HOPE conference on Saturday, July 14. The site, crypto.cat, has a chunky, 8-bit sensibility, with a big-eyed binary cat in the corner. The visitor has the option to name, then enter a chat. There’s some explanatory text, but little else. It’s deceptively simple for a web app that can save lives, subvert governments and frustrate marketers. But as little as two years ago such a site was considered to be likely impossible to code.
5. Iranian nuclear facilities hit by AC/DC virus that turns off automated system operations, turns on PCs at night playing ‘Thunderstruck’.
Iranian nuclear facilities have reportedly been attacked by a “music” virus, turning on lab PCs at night and blasting AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” Mikko Hypponen, Chief Researcher at Finnish digital security firm F-secure, publicly released a letter he received from an unnamed Iranian scientist. The researcher, who claimed to work for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said that another virus has struck the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran and a secret underground research facility at Fordo, southwest of Tehran.
New surveillance laws being proposed in countries from the United States to Australia would force makers of online chat software to build in backdoors for wiretapping. For years, the popular video chat service Skype has resisted taking part in online surveillance—but that may have changed. And if it has, Skype’s not telling.
7. Tokyo, Seoul, and Paris get faster, cheaper broadband than US cities: Study finds American consumers paying higher prices for slower connections
A new study from the New America Foundation suggests that the United States is lagging in the broadband speed race. The study compared high-speed Internet service in major cities around the world, and found that high-speed broadband service was dramatically more expensive and slower in the United States than in leading countries outside the United States. The authors blame these disappointing results on bad public policy.
8. Samsung: “Apple, which sold its first iPhone nearly twenty years after Samsung started developing mobile phone technology, could not have sold a single iPhone without the benefit of Samsung‘s patented technology.”
Another day, another Apple (AAPL) vs. Samsung (005930) trial. The two consumer electronics companies are preparing to do battle in San Jose, California next week, and now-public court documents shed light on the positions each firm is taking. On Tuesday, Apple told Samsung exactly what it thinks its technology patents are worth (spoiler: barely anything at all), and subsequent filings from Samsung reveal that the South Korea-based company has a few choice words for Apple as well.
Obit Andre Hedrick, a principal engineer and operating system architect at Cisco Systems and a Linux kernel contributor, has died. He leaves behind a wife, four young children and many friends. Andre made a significant contribution to personal computing history in a way few people fully realise.
Valve head—and one-time Microsoft employee—Gabe Newell has branded Windows 8 “a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space” at videogame conference Casual Connect in Seattle. The Valve boss continued, saying that in the fallout from Windows 8, “we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people.” Newell criticised Windows 8 while talking about the future of the gaming industry, and you can read everything he said at VentureBeat.