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News Roundup: Things still look bleak for ZTE

A roundup of the week’s technology news including eFail, HTC’s blockchain phone, and smart nappies.

 

ZTE getting mixed messages from Washington

What a confusing week for ZTE. First President Donald Trump tweets that he and President Xi of China are working together to give ZTE “a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”

He then backtracked and said there have been no negotiations with China about trade deals. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, meanwhile, said the administration was exploring “alternative remedies” to the original ban. The House Appropriations Committee then voted to amend the ban so it can’t be renegotiated by the Commerce Department. So good to see the government is all on the same page.

In other international tech diplomacy news, the Dutch government announced this week it will no longer use Kaspersky’s anti-virus software for fear of its ties with the Russian government. To try and allay fears over government influence, Kaspersky has announced it will move its core Infrastructure from Russia to Switzerland, including customer data storage and processing and software assembly.

 

Apple funds green aluminium

Apple has partnered with Alcoa Corporation and Rio Tinto Aluminum to speed up the development of new methods to smelt aluminium which eliminate direct greenhouse gas emissions from the process.

“Apple is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are proud to be part of this ambitious new project, and look forward to one day being able to use aluminum produced without direct greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of our products.”

 

Facebook takes action

Facebook closed almost 600 million fake accounts in first three months of 2018, according to its first Community Standards Enforcement Report. It has also suspended over 200 apps that misuse customer data. Cambridge Analytica, meanwhile, has filed for bankruptcy in the US.

 

eFail

Bad week for encrypted communication. A set of vulnerabilities under the name eFail were found to affect users of PGP and S/MIME, meaning messages can be decrypted and viewed without the victim’s knowledge. Meanwhile, a new vulnerability was found within Signal’s desktop application, and malware has been found infecting Telegram’s desktop application.

 

M&A

Google Cloud has acquired Cask, Oracle has snapped up DataScience.com, HPE has bought Plexxi, Rackspace now owns RelationEdge, PayPal has picked up iZettle, Capital One has snaffled fraud alert startup Confyrm.

Xerox has cancelled plans for a merger with Fujifilm. Fujifilm is suing over the move.

Citrix is retiring the Xen and NetScaler names and replacing them with ‘Citrix’: So XenServer, for example, will become Citrix Hypervisor.

 

HTC blockchain phone

Sirin Labs has been working on a ‘blockchain phone’ for several months now and is due to ship in October. But HTC is looking to pip Sirin to the post. The Tai phone maker this week announced it was developing its own blockchain phone. The HTC Exodus device will come with a universal wallet and a built-in secure hardware enclave to support cryptocurrencies and decentralized applications, according to the Next Web.

 

Smart nappies

Today’s entry in internet-enabled devices that should not be; smart nappies. Verily, Alphabet's health unit previously known as Google Life Sciences, has filed a patent for a ‘Smart Diaper For Detecting And Differentiating Feces And Urine’. The onboard sensors would “determine whether there is poop or pee present in the diaper” and then transmit this information via Bluetooth, WiFi, or another IoT protocol.

The purpose of such a smart nappy, the patent says, would be to “limit the time a baby is wearing a soiled diaper to reduce discomfort and reduce the likelihood of the baby developing skin rash and irritation.” The ability to differentiate between solid and liquid waste would provide “enhanced functionality to caregivers who may have a different response depending on whether an individual has urinated or defecated.”

 

Snoopchain

Over the last few years, acclaimed rapper Snoop Dogg has been making inroads into the world of tech. He founded his own VC firm to invest in weed tech startups, but he’s seemingly taken a liking to playing gigs at tech conferences. He’s played for both Pure Storage and Box in recent years and this week he played at two cryptocurrency shows. It’s only a matter of time until there’s a Snoop/blockchain-related announcement. Snoopchain? Doggcoin?

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect. Writes about all manner of tech from driverless cars, AI, and Green IT to Cloudy stuff, security, and IoT. Dislikes autoplay ads/videos and garbage written about 'milliennials'.  

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