News Roundup: French Emails, Bleeding Hearts And Losing Our Religion

A round up of the week's tech news including Project Loon’s Round the World Trip, The End of XP and 5 Year Old Hackers.

The 6pm Email Ban

The English say many things about the French, but they’ve had a bit of a good idea this week. A new agreement has been signed by employers' federations and unions that effectively means they are banned from accessing work emails after 6pm. Or so the narrative went. As RudeBaguette pointed out, it’s going to be very tricky to actually enforce, and in reality it’ll probably just help some of those ‘always-on’ people relax a bit. In other news though, President Holland is bored of people playing Flappy Bird when he’s talking and has banned phones in cabinet meetings.

RIP XP

XP is dead. Take a moment, gather yourself, and embrace Windows 8. Or so it should be. But nearly a quarter of Windows users are still on the now-retired system, even if a very small percentage did jump ship at the least minute. Both UK and US governments are paying to keep support going, while businesses all over the world are probably wishing they could afford to do the same. Will it ever really end?

Heartbleed

If there was a Windows XP apocalypse, it was overshadowed by the news about the Heartbleed apocalypse. Rated 11 on a scale of 1-10 by one security expert, it means hackers can get all sorts of data through a flaw in OpenSSL encryption. While the major sites have fixed the problem [you can check which ones haven’t here], it’s still a good idea to change your passwords. Questions over the dangers of Open Source have surfaced, Wired wondered if the NSA took advantage, while the guy who accidently created the vulnerability back in 2011 has admitted he made a big blunder. 

In other news, there’s now an ethical hacker who’s younger than the iPhone. 5-year-old Kristoffer Von Hassel from Cali found out a way of logging into his dad’s Xbox account without needing a password. His dad, who works in IT security reported the flaw and the kid is now listed on the company’s Acknowledgments page and was given four games and a year-long subscription to Xbox Live. How cute.

Losing My Religion, And My Wife

Repent, heathens, for the web is sinful and wicked. New research apparently shows that ‘the increase in internet use in the last two decades has caused a significant drop in religious affiliation.’ Though there’s a difference between causation and correlation, it’s an interesting claim, and a few hours on some of the more questionable parts of the web may lead to a few more believers.

Heathen or not, it also looks like the internet is bad for your relationships. A study from the University of Missouri claims ‘active Twitter users are more likely to experience Twitter-related conflict in their romantic relationships, which in turn leads to other relationship issues like emotional or physical cheating, breakup, and even divorce.’ Stay off the internet people, it’s clearly full of evil.

Holy Acquisition Batman!

Tech Funding is the highest it’s been since 2001, according to CB Insights. And with all that cash floating around there’s bound to be plenty of M&A spending this year.

Microsoft release its own version of Siri, news breaks that Apple has bought speech recognition firm Novauris. Coincidence? Probably not. If neither Siri nor Cortana are your thing, worry not, for there’s now an Open Source alternative called Jasper.

Twitter’s new Facebook-esque makeover has caused a stir. I don’t mind it, I doubt Turkey’s Prime Minister is a fan, but what about you? But either way, their acquisition of Android Screen-lock startup Cover could be a sign the company wants to make their own Facebook Home equivalent, which is much more terrifying.

Other acquisitions this week include the Indiegogo winner and home automation startup BlackSumac being bought by iControl, IBM buying Cloud marketing platform Silverpop, Criteo acquired AdQuantic and Amazon snapping up digital-comic-book company Comixology.

In other selling news, Blackberry CEO John Chen reportedly told Reuters that he would be willing to sell the device segment of the company if it continued to haemorrhage money. "If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business," he said. Chen later published a clarification on the BB site saying his words were taken out context and that he has no intention of selling off or abandoning this business any time soon.‎ So nothing has changed.

Around The World In 22 Days

Mark Zuckerberg may not be a fan, but the balloons of Google’s Project Loon are having adventures of Jules Verne proportions. The company says one of its balloons just completed “a lap around the world in 22 days and has just clocked the project’s 500,000th kilometre as it begins its second lap.” Apparently the balloon ‘enjoyed a few loop-de-loops over the Pacific Ocean before heading east on the winds toward Chile and Argentina.’ Rumours about Facebook’s drones will be entering the Red Bull Air Race are soon to spread.

NSA

The usual dose of NSA headlines…

-          The NSA spied on human rights workers

-          The US isn’t in favour of the EU’s Euro-centric Cloud ideas.

-          The NSA is getting loads and loads of Freedom Of Information requests.

-          You can now peruse the NSA leaks yourself with a new database of the revelations.

-          But Angela Merkal isn’t allowed to see what the NSA have on her file.

-          Your in-flight Wi-Fi is probably still being monitored.

In other news, last Friday was 404 Day – a day designed to highlight censorship in in public libraries and public schools. So yeah, I’m doing my bit; Don’t bow down to censorship!

The agency behind the “Cuban Twitter” we told you about last week have come under fire from Congress. One senator called the whole idea “dumb, dumb, dumb.”

Will.I.Buy A Smartwatch?

Despite not taking the world by storm like some predicted, analysts are still predicting the Wearables market will be big business in the next 3-4 years. All this promise might by why the ever-busy Will.I.Am is getting in on the action. "I don't carry my phone anymore; I just use this, [this] is my phone," he said while on the talk show Alan Carr: Chatty Man. Later Tweets suggest a July reveal date.

It seems like not even Will.I.Am could save the faltering Google Glass, however. A new survey found 72% of Americans cited privacy concerns as the main reason for not wanting the smart glasses on their face.