Monthly Archives September 2014

Facebook Teams Up with Tech Leaders to Improve Open Source Software


Facebook recently announced they have partnered with a group of large tech companies to create TODO (Talk Openly, Develop Openly). The announcement at its @Scale 2014 conference in San Francisco revealed companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Dropbox will work together to make open source easier for everyone to use.

TODO is still only a couple of weeks old, so little has been revealed about it at this point. What we do know is the group intends to address the obstacles companies face while using open source software. The companies involved in this initiative are strong open source advocates and produce a high volume of open source tools and code. One of the main objectives of TODO is to determine which among the thousands of open source projects are high quality and well maintained. These projects will then be marked as “TODO-approved” for full scale deployment.

James Pearce, head of open source at Facebook, sheds some light on the goals of TODO in a recent blog post. “We want to run better, more impactful open source programs in our own companies; we want to make it easier for people to consume the technologies we open source; and we want to help create a roadmap for companies that want to create their open source programs that aren’t sure how to proceed,” Pearce writes.

TODO aims to provide companies outside of the Internet industry and Silicon Valley with the tools and knowledge they need to develop and maintain their own open source projects.

Millennials Shy Away from Credit Cards

Visa credit cardWhile millennials are often painted as being carefree and irresponsible, a new study indicates they may have learned a lesson or two about debt from the recent economic slowdown.

According to the, 63 percent of millennials don’t own a credit card, something most attribute to economic instability and growing student debt, while others have difficulty obtaining one.

Though declining use of credit is not something the banks like to see, students interviewed by the Daily Aztec seem to be increasingly cautious.

“It can be a good thing to help you build credit, or it can be totally evil,” one student was quoted as saying. “You have to be educated, because people charge it frivolously and get overwhelmed.”

BlackBerry Acquires UK Startup Morvirtu

blackberry logo long

In an effort to ramp up its portfolio, BlackBerry has recently acquired UK-based startup Morvitu. Its reasoning? Morvirtu’s software allows users to manage multiple phone numbers from a single device.

BlackBerry’s core base of corporate and government clients makes Morvirtu a perfect fit for the company. Morvirtu’s technology allows users to have a personal and business number on a single device, and to toggle between these profiles as desired. It would also mean the separate billing of voice, data and messaging for each number. The best part is users don’t have to carry multiple devices or SIM cards.

“Clearly this fits nicely within the strategy we have so far articulated. We are building recurring revenue streams in value-added services and providing more value to enterprises,” the head of BlackBerry’s enterprise unit John Sims said in an interview.

This acquisition provides further proof that BlackBerry’s chief executive John Chen plans to reshape the company by increasing its focus on software in the areas of mobile data security and mobile device management.


Comcast and Liberty Global Team Up to Create Global Wi-Fi Network

comcast logoComcast and Liberty Global have recently struck a deal allowing users to access each other’s Wi-Fi networks. This agreement will provide millions of new global Wi-Fi access points to customers of Xfinity internet and Liberty Global internet by 2015.

Throughout the U.S., Comcast has more than three million Xfinity WiFi hotspots. Liberty Global, under the names Wi-Free and WifiSpots, has more than 2.5 million Wi-Fi home spots throughout Europe. Both companies are working to grow their Wi-Fi footprint and agree out-of-home Wi-Fi is an essential Internet service. Their deal will allow customers a free alternative to data roaming when travelling from the U.S. to various countries in Europe, and vice versa.

“We are delighted to join forces with Comcast to begin building worldwide Wi-Fi connectivity and we hope that this will create interest from other cable operators to join us,” said Balan Nair, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Liberty Global, in an interview.

This collaboration between two internet leaders from different continents accentuates the fact customers use the same technology and same devices to access Wi-Fi all over the world, and reflects the benefits of global-scale Internet innovation. Comcast and Liberty Global plan to trial the Wi-Fi service in late 2014, going full-scale in 2015.



DataWind Launches Tablet with Free Internet

tabletBudget web access company and device maker DataWind has released its newest tablet, the UbiSlate 7Ci, which will come bundled with a year of free U.S. Internet browsing. It is the latest device in its line of what the company calls “the world’s most affordable tablets.”

The UbiSlate 7Ci is an Android tablet that comes with a dual core 1.2 GHz processor and features dual cameras — front VGA and rear at 2MP — for $37.99.

“We’re focused on driving the cost further down so that affordability is no longer a barrier to internet access,” Suneet Singh Tuli, president and CEO of DataWind, was quoted as saying. “Our mission is to deliver affordable and ubiquitous Internet access to help bring the next billion on board.

“By bundling Internet access within the cost of our products, we’re able to eliminate the need for contracts and monthly fees, and yet deliver an affordable Internet solution right out of the box.

Although the Internet bundle is only available in the United States, the tablet is available for purchase in both the U.S. and Canada.

*Source: Mississauga News

Verizon Fined for Violating Subscriber Privacy Rights

verizonIn yet another case of the telcos not looking out for customers’ best interests, Verizon has been slapped with a $7.4 million fine for failing to notify subscribers of their privacy rights. The settlement between Verizon and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was announced last week.

According to a FCC release, Verizon failed to disclose privacy rights to two million new customers and ended up using that information to market products to them. The Communications Act requires companies to obtain consent from consumers before undertaking such acts.

“In today’s increasingly connected world, it is critical that every phone company honor its duty to inform customers of their privacy choices and then to respect those choices,” said Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “It is plainly unacceptable for any phone company to use its customers’ personal information for thousands of marketing campaigns without even giving them the choice to opt out.”

Under the settlement, Verizon will have to include opt-out notices on every bill for the next three years, along with notifying the FCC of any issues with its privacy reporting system.

*Source: FCC

Google Paying Up for Children’s In-App Purchases

Federal Trade Commission Schooley MitchellGoogle is facing a massive payout to reimburse consumers who were unfairly billed for in-app purchases made by children. The tech giant has agreed to a $19 million settlement in response to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint calling the billing practice unfair.

It’s been a hot issue for some time. Families can be charged hundreds of dollars for purchases made by their children, who do not understand what they are doing when playing a game or using an app. Many have pointed the fingers at distributors that don’t put proper payment authorization steps in place as being at fault.

Along with reimbursing customers $19 million, Google will also change its billing system to prevent such errors from reoccurring.

“We’ve already made product changes to ensure people have the best Google Play experience possible,” a Google spokeswoman was quoted as saying. “We’re glad to put this matter behind us so we can focus on creating more ways for people to enjoy all the entertainment they love.”

On top of Google, Apple agreed to pay $32.5 million in a settlement back in January. And the FTC filed a lawsuit against Amazon for the same reasons in July, which is still pending.

Google introduced in-app purchases back in 2011.

*Source: Computer World

AT&T Files Suit Against Cox Communications

AT&TAT&T has been warning Cox Communications about its patent infringements for years, and has finally come to the decision to file a formal lawsuit in the State of Delaware.

In 2009 AT&T made it clear to Cox Communications that it was infringing upon eight of its patents. AT&T claims the company has not “provided substantial arguments for either non-infringement or invalidity of AT&T’s patents” or made “payments for its infringement by repeatedly delaying and rescheduling negotiations.”

Cox Communications is reportedly making billions of dollars through its use of AT&T’s patents, but has declined to pay. The eight patents deal with all parts of Cox’s business including TV, broadband Internet, telephone and more. AT&T’s Packet Loss Concealment patent license would cost Cox $1,500 in administrative fees and a minimum of $2,500 in annual licensing, based on royalties.

AT&T is calling Cox’s actions “willful and deliberate,” and has demanded a trial by jury. They are also asking to be awarded enhanced damages, attorney’s fees, and the cost of filing the suit.


Credit Card Breach Rocks Home Depot

Home Depot credit cardHome Depot is the latest retailer to be rocked by a credit card scandal, with cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs pointing the finger at the big box store as the source of the latest breach.

It’s not small potatoes – Krebs has suggested victims could have had their information scooped at most of Home Depot’s 2,200 stores, meaning it could have an even larger impact than 2013’s Target breach. It appears criminals may have accessed data from the stores’ point-of-sale terminals for several months.

On Thursday, Home Depot announced it is offering credit monitoring and identity protection services to affected customers. The chain says it has engaged two outside firms to investigate the matter, which is also being looked into by bank and government officials.

*Source: CBC

Apple Denies Responsibility for Celeb Photo Leak

Apple leakThe world has been buzzing with news of leaked nude photos circulating the Internet, which appear to be of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kirsten Dunst. Even the FBI has launched an investigation of this embarrassing cybercrime. And although many reports are placing the blame on Apple, the company claims it is not responsible.

“After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on usernames, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet,” Apple said in a statement issued Tuesday. “None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved.”

This comment is contradictory of a report published by Engadget, which said that Apple had recently fixed a bug that would have allowed hackers to gain access to a user’s private photos through iCloud accounts.

The scandal comes at an inconvenient time, just as Apple plans to unveil its newest iPhone model. Whatever the answer to this issue, Apple advises its users to take security measures and use a two-step verification process. However, some experts say that a glitch allows iCloud to be restored on a new device without having to undertake that process.

*Source: USA Today