News Roundup: Privacy As The New Green, Crowdfunding Cronies And Super-Linux

A round up of the week's tech news including Snowden's asylum, the language of Twitter and Yahoo's 20th acquisition.

NSA Can’t Pay the Story To Go Away

Just as the NSA/PRISM story looked to be winding down, it’s all gone off again. Snowden has finally found asylum in Russia and even got a job offer already to work for social network VK, the NSA has been paying off GCHQ, NSA analysts take exams, oh and the NSA can track pretty much everything you do online through a program called XKeyscore, including browsing history, searches, email content , online chats, and all the metadata. Happy days. But it’s ok because, according to the Guardian, “The NSA documents assert that by 2008, 300 terrorists had been captured using intelligence from XKeyscore.”

I doubt highly that much will change within the NSA or how the US approaches data gathering, but the fallout for companies will be much more tangible. Already we’ve seen businesses in the US are suffering because less people want to do business with a country that snoops on all their data, but how companies bill themselves is likely to change. According to Forrester, Privacy is the new Green, and where once organizations billed themselves as eco-friendly, they’ll be “Do Not Track” friendly. Which is good, because Green movements can now shut up shop, since it’s ‘official’ that Cloud computing does save energy, whereas before it was all Greenwashing.

Smiles & Hearts – The Language of Twitter

The internet has done wonders for many things; eCommerce, the spread of information, Cats. However it has had the opposite effect on language; the rise of LOL-speak blights social media, comments, forums and mobiles everywhere. But it turns out that smilies (or emojis) are actually the universal language of Twitter. With each language having their own quirks when it comes to random abbreviations, it makes sense that a happy or sad faces are the most widely used and understandable. The most popular ones revolve around love, joy and sadness, showing the generally emotional and bipolar nature of the internet. Whether you think a winky face at the end of the post is actually necessary, as opposed to new kinds of punctuation,  is entirely up to you however.

Yahoo Scores 20

Upon the acquisition of eCommerce App Lexity, Marissa Mayer’s shopping spree at Yahoo! has now risen to 20 startups. They’ve come in all shapes, sizes and prices, from a few million dollars all the way up to a billion. We’ve written about the new mobile web portal the company is creating, and just two questions remain; how many more will be bought, and will the plan pay off?

The Drama of Tech

Some depressing job news now. Crack as many jokes as you want about arty types, but apparently all those dramatic Drama graduates are more likely to be in work than Tech graduates. According to a recent Georgetown University study, the unemployment rate for information systems grads is 14.7%, compared to 6.4% for theatre studies. Even computer science majors had a jobless rate of 9%. Before you ditch the computers and code for Hamlet, it doesn’t actually say if these grads are underemployed, so maybe all those thespians are working in coffee shops with some acting on the side.

Linux Is King For Super Computers

While most of us normal peons make do with your standard Windows or Mac computer, supercomputers want something a bit different. According to the Linux foundation, that little Penguin is the undisputed king of supercomputers.  “At last count, all of the top 10 computers and 476 of the total list ran the Linux operating system. After first appearing on the list in 1998, Linux has consistently dominated the top 10 over the past decade and has comprised more than 90% of the list since June 2010.”

Meanwhile, Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo has been banned from the super-secret  networks of the intelligence & defence services of Australia, the US, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand, over fears about hacking. Following on from similar banning orders against Huawei and ZTE, essentially this is another is a case of Western spy agencies being worried about the Chinese government having backdoor access to Chinese firms, and so being only marginally racist in banning them. Their concerns are perfectly legit, they need to ensure total security, but surely they should be checking every piece of hardware that they buy, regardless of who made it, especially since a large selection of hardware is manufactured in China anyway?

Bitcoin Gets Some Big Boy Pants, Gets Banned

Another up and down week for Bitcoin. After rumours circulated that the currency was banned in Thailand, it turned out not to quite be the case. It shut down the Bitcoin Co. Ltd. exchange, but more due to hazy laws about the whole idea, and a lack of proper licencing. So it’s more a case of waiting until Thailand knows what to make of digital currencies and how to legislate them, rather than an outright ban. In other news, the Bitcoin movie we told you about last week has been pulled from Kickstarter. Probably for the best if you ask us.

On the good news side of things, Bitcoin continues to grow up and mature. Firstly, a self-regulatory body has been set up by Bitcoin industry types. The Committee for the Establishment of the Digital Asset Transfer Authority, or DATA, aims to work with regulators and policymakers to create a bit more cohesion in the ragtag world of cryptocurrencies, and features various CEOs of Bitcoin companies backing it. Whether self-regulation will work is hazy at best, but a unified voice always helps. Meanwhile, in an effort to get more users on board, you will soon be able to get a Bitcoin debit card, which is quite cool & exciting.

Crowdsourcing Copycats & The Return of the Segway

We’ve been doing lots of interviews with entrepreneurs trying to make it big. Those published already range from Cloud providers, Security types and even some funky new smartmouse contraptions. But it seems all this Crowdfunding has a bit of a seedy underbelly. While organizing a future interview, we accidently uncovered a project on a fundraising site that the creators knew nothing about. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring you more on that story in the near future, but this doesn’t seem to be an isolated case; the massively successful 3D printer we wrote about only last week was the victim of a dodgy clone within a day of our article going live.

Meanwhile in China, some keen investor has sunk $2 Million into bringing the Segway back from the dead and onto the pavements of China. As to whether PowerUnionTech’s Windrunner will avoid the metaphorical cliff of doom, however, who knows.

Bang with Farms

Farmville maker Zynga announces $15.8 million loss, with a declining user base. Words With Friends maker sues shamefully successful casual sex app Bang With Friends over trademark infringement. Connection? Rumours that talks have been going on for months were denied by BWF CEO Colin Hodge, claiming he was “blindsided” by the announcement. Will the outcome improve Zynga’s rapidly declining prospects? Probably not, but it might make them feel better.

The Ultimate Sacrifice - In The Name Of Spectrum Allocation

Quote of the week goes to Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, who, after his company lost out to a rival over bandwidth allocation, lectured government officials for 50 straight minutes and said he was “prepared to die” in order to get his message across. Though clearly dedicated, I fear he may be the only one willing to make that kind of sacrifice over spectrum allocation. So dedicated is he, that he once threatened to set himself on fire inside the Japanese Post- and Telecommunications Ministry over a telecoms license. Mental.

Sex & Religion

Bit of an old story I missed, but relevant to all the porn censoring UK PM David Cameron is pushing for. According to Symantec, you’re now actually more likely to catch a computer virus from visiting a church website than surfing for porn. The reasoning? Pornographers are experienced IT pros with an interest in getting customers to come (no pun intended) back, and so need to keep their sites as virus-free as possible. And since in the UK we apparently send more internet traffic towards porn than we do to social media or shopping sites, they’re seemingly doing a good job of it (still no pun intended).