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News Roundup: Tech City Ignorance, Smart Chopsticks and eWaste Shame

A roundup of the week’s tech news including plenty of fancy new tech, encouraging the kids and The Queen.

What’s a Tech City?

You can talk about tech hubs all you want, but apparently the politicians meant to be encouraging them haven’t got a clue they exist. According to the Adam Smith Institute, half of UK MPs have never heard of Tech City [nee Silicon Roundabout]. The study looked at how effective MPs thought various policies were on helping entrepreneurs in the country, but the study just highlighted how in the dark some of these political types really are.

Back in the tech world, M&A action has been relatively quiet compared to the summer shopping spree we’ve seen in the last few months. Samsung has acquired mobile cloud printing company PrinterOn, Hootsuite has bought Brightkit and Teradata now owns cleverly-named Hadoop consulting firm Think Big Analytics.

Elsewhere Daimler are another non-tech company entering the tech fray with the double acquisition of RideScout and myTaxi, AVG has snapped up mobile security company Location Labs, LogMeIn now owns Meldium, Acronis has bought cloud backup company BackupAgent and Cryptzone has got its hands on Hisoftware.

In other news, TwitPic is to close after a lawsuit from Twitter over the name. “A few weeks ago Twitter contacted our legal [department] demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API,” said founder Noah Everett in a blog post. Strange Twitter left it so long, perhaps they grew tired of people using TwitPic instead of uploading straight to the site?

Back in July we told you that US-based mobile wallet provider Isis is planning on a name change to avoid any unwanted associations with the terrorist group. This week the company revealed the new name to be Softcard. Funny how unwanted associations can generate so much publicity.

NSA

The usual dose of NSA headlines:

-          The US State Department doesn’t think the Snowden leaks should mean countries force companies to store data locally.

-          A former top NSA official says the Snowden leaks have 'Clearly’ helped ISIS.

-          The NSA is being sued by 22 organisations for violating their First Amendment rights.

-          You can get NSA-themed playing cards on Kickstarter.

-          GCHQ protesters are gross and drink pee to represent piss-taking data surveillance.

Greentech

Greenpeace is known for banging on the doors of tech companies until they start going green. The NGO’s new Green Gadgets report paints a pretty grim picture; Toxic eWaste is predicted to grow to 65.4 million metric ons in 2017. The report names and shames the likes of Samsung, Sony and Panasonic while praising companies such as Nokia and Apple. Luckily some companies don’t need any nudging to clean up. Baidu has announced a partnership with the UN to help deal with eWaste in China while Intel is slowly making progress towards having a conflict-free supply chain.

Verbatim – The Queen vs Selfies

Jared Leto likes to have his fingers in many pies; acting, singing, tech investment. This week he made an appearance at BoxWorks, where he admitted that his best investment so far was Nest, the smart home startup Google bought for a few billion dollars not too long ago. It probably made him very rich.  Anyone jealous?

Former Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is back in the press again, this time calling out wearable tech. "I feel that wearables are a hard sell," he told Cnet. "They are go-betweens for your smartphone but are an extra piece and need special advantages that the smartphone doesn't have, in my opinion.” Then went on to subtly say how great an iWatch would be.

Conflicting messages have been coming out of Iran lately. On the one hand you’ve got Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi calling high-speed wireless internet “un-Islamic” and violating “human and moral norms,” while on the other, President Hassan Rouhani is saying that it is vital for the younger generations to have internet access. Maybe they’re having disagreements over data roaming fees?

New tech trends often confuse the older generation (I remember trying to explain the internet to my Grandad once, not sure it all went in) and it seems the Queen is no exception. Apparently our Liz told the US ambassador Matthew Barzun that she finds selfies strange and that she misses eye contact.

Despite being an avid user, it seems Miley Cyrus isn’t a fan of social media. “You know what hurts your brain? Googling yourself. You know what hurts your brain? Instagram. You know what hurts your brain? Reading comments on Facebook,” The former Hannah Montana said this week.

Encouraging the kids

Seems like UK parents might be coming round to the idea of kids being interested in tech. A new study from Virgin Media found that Tech Entrepreneur and App developer were the fourth and fifth most popular careers parents wanted their kids to have, behind Doctor, Engineer and Lawyer.

Virgin was also in the news this week for its password preferences. Apparently its latest update means you’re not allowed to use naughty words. You like “Bollocks” as a password? Tough titties. 'Wankers'? Bugger off.

Another study from the UK shows we Brits are about as keen on self-driving cars as we are on Google Glass. A survey of over 1,000 British motorists from Auto Trader found 95% had concerns about safety and half wouldn’t buy one at all. People did like the idea of lower fuel bills though.

Tis The Season for New Tech

Apparently desperate to try and usurp the inevitable Apple hype, companies across the world have been showing off their latest techy wares. Baidu debuted its Google Glass-competitor the Baidu Eye and a pair of smart Chopsticks, Sony showed off its own Glass-rival, Samsung demoed it’s new VR headset, Dyson revealed its robot vacuum cleaner and there were plenty of phones and smartwatches too. 

Best of all however is KFC’s Fried Chicken keyboard. Giant drumstick USB stick? Finger licking good.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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