News Roundup: Green Clouds, Cuban Twitters and April's Fools

Green Clouds

Although it sounds like a new name for the smog invading London this week, Green Clouds are something we should all be aiming for. IT now accounts for around 10% of global energy consumption, and we here at IDG Connect like writing about the environmental impact of the industry. We've even done a very interesting report on Green IT . Greenpeace do too, and have just released their latest report into how Green the major Cloud brands are. Apple and Facebook do well while Amazon, Twitter and Oracle fair badly.


The usual dose of NSA headlines…

-          US Intelligence Chief admits NSA conducted warrantless searches.

-          The NSA kept really close tabs on Angela Merkel, and hacked into German satellite communication providers.

-          The NSA spied on 122 world leaders.

-          Almost every email, call and text in Iraq was monitored by the NSA.

-          RSA and the NSA were really deeply in cahoots.

-          Businesses are becoming very sceptical of the Cloud because of these revelations.

-          Apparently the NSA isn't evil, at least according to one Libertarian.

-          The US asks LinkedIn for more data than any other country by far.


Not directly NSA-related but still in the same vein is the news that the US developed a ‘Secret Twitter' in Cuba. The network, called "ZunZuneo" (Cuban slang for a hummingbird's tweet), was built by the U.S. Agency for International Development, gained 40,000 users, and would ‘introduce political content to try to inspire spontaneous demonstrations.' How subversive of them.

The $1 CEO

Despite being one of the richest men in the world and flexing his political muscles with various lobbying groups, Mark Zuckerberg is trying to look all humble with the news he was only paid $1 last year. While that might seem harsh, he did cash in on $3 billion in Facebook stock and get an extra $650,000 on travel & security expenses. So not quite the $1 CEO then. Maybe the ‘$3, 650,000,001 CEO' just didn't have the same kind of appeal.

On the subject of money, Twitter have just bought 'social TV' firm SecondSync, while Tesco-owned Big Data firm Dunnhumby has bought Sociomantic Labs.

April Fool's Goes Techie

April Fool's has taken on a whole new life in the digital age. Techies especially enjoy getting in on the action. Google did their usual range of pranks including selfies, emojis, Pokemon and the Hoff. Microsoft gave the iconic Clippy a new lease of life, while ISP Review and CafePress ripped on the Orwellian habits of governments. There were also a couple of chuckles to be had around African Internet, Bitcoin and Virtual Reality.   

Elsewhere there was some hardware pranks from Ocado, Nokia, Swiftkey, and a host of others. Pocket-Lint created the Google Glass monocle, Orbotix created the SelfieBot, and the Reg said the BT tower would be 3D printed. We had wearables and gesture tech from Twitter and Readit, as well as smartgloves from Samsung and HTC. Cats and other animal-related jokes came courtesy of LinkedIn, Opera, iinet and Samsung again. Most are good for a laugh or two, but there are some that are so believable they could be testing the water for a genuine release later in the year.

Verbatim - Balloons, Blood, Holy Wars and Death Threats

Providing internet to ‘the next billion' has been billed as a philanthropic aim to help improve people's lives. But the argument has turned a bit nasty this week after Mark Zuckerberg claimed his Drones are better at providing internet than Google's Balloons. The Facebook announcement didn't mention Project Loon by name, but how many other internet companies are peddling internet-providing balloons?

Last week we wrote about Facebook buying VR startup and Kickstarter star Oculus for a mighty $2 billion. This week the company's founder said he was surprised quite how much vitriol was thrown their way. "We expected a negative reaction from people in the short term," Palmer Luckey said in a Reddit post. "We did not expect to be getting so many death threats and harassing phone calls that extended to our families."

Box CEO Aaron Levie gave a nice rebuttle to some online haters recently. "How does he [Levie] feel watching DFJ and USVP laugh to the bank after ten years of sweat, blood, and tears?" was the question posed on Quora. "So far, I have yet to bleed while building Box,"Levie replied. "And honestly, if anyone is regularly bleeding while building a software company, I would have some serious questions about their strategy and if they're executing properly."

The Steve Jobs quote files keep on doling out the occasional odd insight into the Apple man. This week we learned that back in 2010, Jobs declared 2011 to be the year of "holy war against Google." Anyone get the feeling Jobs would have been a mean general in Medieval times?

Politics, Phones and Kim Dotcom

Having gained enough signatures to become a legitimate party, Kim Dotcom's Internet Party has outlined its plans over creating a government-sponsored digital currency. "It would just be treated as we would normal transactions," said Party chief executive Vikram Kumar. "Whether a transaction happened in New Zealand dollars, US dollars, Bitcoins or any other digital currency, we should focus on the transaction and include that in our taxation systems."

Meanwhile the Guardian has created a list outlining which phones various world leaders use. Want to be like Obama? Get a Blackberry. François Hollande your idol? iPhone 5. They even include the ever photogenic Kim Jon-un and his favoured HTC device. Sadly they don't include China's first lady and trend-setter Peng Liyuan, who has made ZTE's Nubia Z5 cool after ditching her iPhone 5. Scandalous.

‘ull Coin

It's not just Kim Dotcom getting in on the government-backed Cryptocoins. We've already covered Iceland's Auroracoin, and now there's HullCoin, a digital currency for the Yorkshire-based City of Culture. Elsewhere, the Central Bank of Colombia has declared that ‘Bitcoin is not a currency,' while the San Jose Earthquakes football team have followed other sporting teams and embraced the medium.

Meanwhile, the CEO of a Bitcoin startup has claimed that in a decade, one bitcoin will be worth somewhere between half a million dollars to one million dollars. Wences Casares, the CEO of Xapo, maybe be suffering from a case of over-optimism after his company raised $20 million, and seems to be ignoring the fact that BTC's value has been slowly declining for a while now. Current value per coin: $450.

The best news though, is that Bitcoin is now cool enough to be considered art. German artist Kuno Goda has taken inspiration from a certain Mr. Warhol and created a screen of 200 Bitcoins. While not revealing how much it sold for, Kuno admitted it went for less than the equivalent value in BTCs.

Tech-Based Cartography

Apparently Google Maps gets Africa wrong. This isn't a new thing; due to various reasons an accurate flat map of the world is difficult and so maps are often skewed. The best thing to do is embrace the Map of the Internet 2.0. We covered the first version when it came out, and this new version has a few extra islands and things on it. Or if you prefer the clean lines of the London Underground map maybe the Tube Map of the Internet is more your thing. 


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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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