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News Roundup: Tech Neck, Wi-Fi Plagues and MWC coverage

MWC

This week saw Barcelona turn into a tech tourist haven, as thousands descended for the Mobile World Conference. Unsurprisingly lots of shiny new phones were on show. The interesting ones included Nokia’s new Android device, Boeing’s super secure phone, the not-quite NSA proof Black phone, the e-Ink Yotaphone and Fujitsu’s smart AR glove.

Not that this slew of new phones have a chance to be successful after new figures from IDC are predicting the end of the Smartphone boom. Growth in sales is predicted to halve from 39% to 19% this year, and by 2018 will be a mere 6.2%. While growth is growth, it doesn’t bode well for the little guy if Apple and Samsung have an almost complete duopoly; this nice graphic shows they’re the only two companies making a profit, while the rest are making a loss.

Internet (Read: Facebook) For All

Speaking at MWC was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who basically admitted that his plan to get the next billion people online was just a ploy to get people on Facebook. "We want to create a dial tone for the internet," he said, and admitted his Internet.org group was aiming to convince more people to get data plans and use Facebook services. Or just take over the world. Be wary if he buys a volcanic island-cum-secret lair near you any time soon. 

Facebook also announced that it’s killing the barely acknowledged @facebook.com email addresses, and instead will be rerouting messages sent to them straight into your inbox. Because that’s what people want, more spam from an email address they didn’t ask for, want, or know about.

Social Politics & Love

The nice researchers over at Pew have recently been turning their attention to the internet and how it impacts our lives. Last week they showed off how politically isolated people are on Twitter, basically only talking to and interacting with people on ‘our’ side of the fence.

This week they found that people generally look at the internet with fondness. More than ¾ of people in the US think the internet has been good for society and almost 100% say it’s been good for them. So it’s not surprising that most said they would struggle to give up using the internet. But despite this, over half of people say it wouldn’t be very hard to give up social media. Maybe there’s hope for the selfie-obsessed Instagramming masses yet.

In other social media news, the Naoki Hiroshima owner of the @N Twitter handle who had it stolen from him has been given it back by the company. And dating apps apparently work in Antarctica after a couple found each other on Tinder. Bebo, the long forgotten Tween social network, had made a comeback app that is kind of like video Snapchat, but not. Other apps that should not be this week include a Baby-selfie app and a contact list that stalks your friends’ social media accounts to tell you where they are at all times.

Windows/Blackberry

Not a lot of good news for Microsoft. It’s been well over a year since Windows 8 came out, but the company’s latest OS has sold 100 million fewer copies than Windows 7 did at the same point in its release cycle. Meanwhile in China a group of web companies, including Tencent, Sogou and Kingsoft, have come together and plan to provide protection for Windows XP users in the People’s Republic for a few years. And Ford is ditching Microsoft for Blackberry for its in-car infotainment systems. Meanwhile Blackberry CEO John Chen has said he’d accept WhatsApp-sized bids for BBM. Sadly though I doubt it’s going to happen anytime soon.

An Update on Silicon Valley as the 51st State

I always enjoy pointing out how daft some of these Silicon Valley types can be, and the guy who thinks the place should be its own state is king among them. Sadly, Tim Draper’s plan has reached the next stage and is now gathering signatures.

Acquisitions

Tech is now the biggest source of wealth in the world. So it’s no surprise there’s been plenty of acquisition money changing hands lately. Apple have bought Burstly, Google acquired fraud detection startup Spider.io, Workday have got their hands on analytics company Identified, and Oracle are to buy data management startup BlueKai. Apparently domain name specialist Melbourne IT now has a monopoly in the domain name space in Oz after buying its biggest rival, Netregistry, and Walmart is buying recipe tech startup Yumprint in another example of ‘Why Every Company Is Becoming Tech-Centric’.

Wi-Fi Plague & Science Paper Lies

Researchers at the Scouse University of Liverpool have created a new computer virus, one that can spread via Wi-Fi like a "common cold." It seeks out Wi-Fi access points that still use the default admin password and then steals data and spreads out to other easy to access machines. Scary.

In other news, over 100 science papers have been taken offline after they were found to be gibberish written by computer programs to prove how rubbish academic journals could be. Point proven, I think.

The Spy That Voyeured On Me

The usual dose of NSA headlines…

-          GCHQ has being spying on you when you’re naked in front of your webcam, and destroying reputations and using dirty tricks.

-          The NSA bugged German officials after they were told to stop spying on Merkal, and has set up shop in Mexico.

-          The NSA is not Made of Magic, but criminals will soon be using their methods.

-          NSA chief says better cyber security is needed, but so is cyber-spying.

-          Reformists don’t like the idea of the FBI handling lots of data.

-          RSA, the company found to be working with NSA, says NSA needs change.

-          Mr. Facebook says the government blew it, but tech community is closer.

-          The NSA-proof Blackphone isn’t actually NSA-Proof.

-          Ed Snowden will testify before an EU committee, and Neelie Kroes has some things to say about the NSA.

 

Bitcoin Is Dying, Long Live Dogecoin

So the biggest Bitcoin exchange in the world has filed for bankruptcy, while a lawmaker in the US is trying to get the cryptocurrency banned. Counter this with the fact Dogecoin is still going strong to the point you can buy a house with it, could we soon be seeing a reversal of fortunes in our digital currencies?

Tech Neck

“Is your smartphone giving you wrinkles?” ran the headline on the Daily Mail. Apparently some plastic surgeons have noticed an increase of wrinkly necks and are attributing it to ‘tech obsessives’ and their smartphone use. The Reg, the fashionistas that they are, also ran the story and recommended a scarf as a cheap alternative. Now I know wealth and intelligence don’t always correlate, but surely some of the people rich enough to afford this kind of surgery still read books and magazines right? Even if just to look at the pictures. Is it just regular old ‘Wrinkly Neck’ then or does that have a special name? 

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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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