News Roundup: HP's divorce, Loon-acy in India, and cyber-sexuals

A roundup of the week’s tech news including stereotyping emojis, techy graphic novels, and Dell selloffs

A roundup of the week’s tech news including stereotyping emojis, techy graphic novels, and Dell selloffs

Introverts and cyber-sexuals

“Prevalent stereotypes describe software engineers as socially inept introverts that are single-mindedly focused on computers.” Psychologist Timo Gnambs didn’t shy away from admitting there’s a stereotype around IT types when writing in the Journal of Research and Personality, but is it true?

Assessing 19 existing studies for the “Big Five” personality traits - openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism –and compared them to programming aptitude, Gnambs found intelligence, openness to experience and conscientiousness were the three main traits of good software programmers.

Hacking has been in the news a lot recently. But have we been getting the motivation for cyber criminals wrong all along? According to cyberpsychology expert Mary Aiken, it’s Freud, not money. “A Freudian psychoanalytic approach to hacking conceptualises hacking in Freudian terms as a cyber-sexual urge to penetrate. And there are castration complex overtones in terms of being cut off from the network as well.”

Loon-acy in India

India may be fighting Mark Zuckerberg’s attempts to bring his walled-off internet to the masses, but that doesn’t mean others can’t come in and try to bridge the digital divide. Alphabet is reportedly in discussion with the Indian government to bring its internet-providing Project Loon balloons to the country. “We had a meeting with Google,” Ajay Kumar, a secretary in India’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology, told the WSJ. “The matter is under consideration.” It was announced last week that Project Loon would be coming to Indonesia.

HP finalizes its divorce, and Dell sells off software

HP’s split into two companies was made final this week. “We’re leaving behind a company that was very large, running two businesses that were very different,” Former HP CEO and now HPE CEO Meg Whitman told the New York Times. “We’re creating two new big companies, not bite-sized morsels, with real capabilities to change things.”

In the first day of trading, HP Inc. (the PC & printer half) saw its shares rise a healthy 14% while Hewlett Packard Enterprise (datacentre hardware and services) fell over 5%. And FYI: you may not call Hewlett Packard Enterprise “HP Enterprise”. The company doesn’t like that.

Dell, meanwhile, could be looking to sell off large swathes of the company to finance its merger with EMC. According to Reuters – citing “people familiar with the matter” – Michael Dell’s company is looking to sell some $10 billion worth of assets which could include Quest Software, SonicWall, AppAssure and/or Perot Systems.


After much back and forth between Microsemi and Skyworks, semi-conductor manufacture PMC-Sierra has opted to accept Skyworks’ takeover bid.

IBM has acquired hybrid cloud specialist Gravitant, Microsoft has bought Mobile Data Labs, Raytheon-Websense has snapped up StoneSoft from Intel, AVG now owns Broadcom, Akamai has taken over security firm Bloxx, Chinese investment firm Godin Holdings has purchased luxury British phone maker Vertu, and Atos has snapped up Unify.

Elsewhere, Adobe has bought Digital Analytix from ComScore, digital writing company Anoto has acquired digital pen startup Livescribe, application monitoring service New Relic has purchased infrastructure monitoring service Opsmatic, and Neosem has snapped up Flexstar.


You might remember that SAP CEO Bill McDermott recently lost an eye in a nasty accident involving stairs and broken glass. The resulting experience with doctors, hospitals and the like has led him to push his company deeper into the healthcare industry. “Doctors in my case were sending each other dictation to each other’s cell phones,” he said in an interview. “The first responders, the doctors and the nurses were all wonderful, but they are too pressed, the retina guy couldn’t talk with the cornea guy.”

John McAfee is taking the “I’ll get everyone with tattoos to vote for me” idea super seriously in his bid to become US President. Not only has he done an interview in Inked magazine, he’s also got a Liberty Bell surrounded by his campaign slogan of “Privacy. Freedom. Technology.” tattooed on his chest while being interview by Forbes.

Would we already have an Apple iCar if Steve Jobs were still alive? Possibly. ”We had a couple talks, and this was in 2008, about if we were to build a car, what would we build? What would a dashboard be? What would seats be? How would you fuel or power it?” Nest founder and former Apple exec Tony Fadell recently told Bloomberg. ”At the end, it was always like, we’re so busy, we’re so constrained... it’d be great to do it, but we can't.”

Amazon may be posting profits these days, but that’s almost entirely down to Amazon Web Services, and many wonder how much AWS would be worth as a standalone company. ”We conclude that a 2017 revenue multiple of 10x seems fair for AWS, which given our 2017 AWS revenue estimate of $16 billion implies a valuation of $160 billion,” Deutsche Bank said in a note this week. ”Measured by revenues, AWS is approximately 6x larger than its biggest rival Microsoft Azure and is arguably the greatest disruptive force in the entire enterprise technology market today.”


The usual dose of NSA & privacy-related headlines


-          MI5 has been securely collecting phone data for years

-          The UK government may try and ask US tech giants to give them backdoors to their encryption systems

-          Two artists enjoy messing with the NSA using antennas that open broadcast messages

-          Hacking Team are still offering services despite being hacked themselves

In the UK, a draft version of the Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snooper’s Charter) has been released. The proposed rules would require ISPs to store the history of every website (but not individual pages) visited by every individual on every device in the UK.

Aside from the moral outcry from privacy advocates, the cost and storage requirements for such rules have been called into question. Ed Snowden wasn’t impressed either, called the bill “the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West.”

Bitcoin lives!

2015 hasn’t been the kindest year to Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency had seen its value drop to almost $200 - from a record $1,100 back in 2013 – but this week has rallied and reach almost $500 at one point. Reasons behind the rally could include greater use in China and positive noises being made by financial institutions.

An optimistic study from Magister Advisors suggests that Bitcoins could be the sixth largest global reserve currency by 2030. Based on interviews with 30 leading bitcoin companies, the study suggest the cryptocurrency would be on par with the Swiss franc or the Australian dollar. J.P. Morgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimons isn’t so keen. “Virtual currency, where it’s called a bitcoin vs. a U.S. dollar, that’s going to be stopped,” he said at this week’s Fortune Global Forum. “No government will ever support a virtual currency that goes around borders and doesn’t have the same controls. It’s not going to happen.”

In other news, Bitcoin is getting its own Unicode symbol. The new BTC symbol will make talking about Bitcoins as easy as typing a “£” or “$” and no doubt force editors around the world to rethink their style guides.

Reinforcing stereotypes

The world apparently communicates almost entirely in emjojis nowadays. Not wishing to be left behind, marketing geniuses working in the Finnish government have created a series of stereotype-reinforcing emojis to celebrate the nation’s heritage. Images revealed so far show a Nokia 3310, a headingbanging metalhead and some naked people in saunas. Expect other countries to follow shortly.

iTunes novel

The terms and conditions of most sites are pretty mammoth at the best of times. The Ts and Cs of Apple’s iTunes, however, reads like a novel and contains some 20,000 words. Cartoonist Robert Sikoryak has decided to make reading them a bit more exciting and has created iTunes Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel: 94 pages of Steve Jobs reading out the text, each page paying tribute to a different comic artist. Sikoryak said he created the project essentially as a joke. “I was thinking, “What would be an interesting thing to adapt [into a graphic novel]?” And I made a joke to someone that: “I should do the iTunes agreement.” And the more I thought about it, I realized, I had to do it,” he told the Observer. “I could have easily done Amazon’s ‘Conditions of Use,’ but I was lucky in choosing Apple in that its Terms and Conditions are famously long and unreadable. And I had a great lead character in the Steve Jobs I’m appropriating.”

A roundup of the week’s tech news including stereotyping emojis, techy graphic novels, and Dell selloffs