News Roundup: Sympathy for Facebook, World of Spycraft and McAfee's Identity Crisis

Facebook – The Great Sympathisers

The ‘Like’ button may have constitutional protection, but that doesn’t mean the cries for a ‘Dislike’ button will ever get quieter. Facebook though have ignored this and instead experimented with a ‘Sympathize’ button. Designed to appear if a status update involved a negative emotion like "sad" or "depressed" from Facebook's fixed list of feelings, ‘Like’ would be relabelled ‘Sympathize.’  The Guardian pointed out grown-up feelings shouldn’t be reduced to a mere button, while Daily Dot came up with a fun list of buttons we need more. From a business point of view, a ‘Buy’ button akin to Amazon’s 1-Click would be clever, but from a personal one I’m more in favour of ‘Disagree but don’t want to get into.’

NSA Headlines- Month 6

Spying, spying everywhere!

-          NSA cites Reagan-era executive order to justify phone data collection.

-          NSA has been infiltrating World of Warcraft and tracking you with cookies.

-          NSA chief says he’d be failing America if he stopped all that spying.

-          The FBI spy on you through your webcam, Italians are being spied on by the US embassy.

-          The NSA is OpenSource, but still getting IBM sued, while paper may be making a comeback.

-          Tech firms, Authors and Whistleblowers all sign letters for change.

-          Snowden gets Guardian person of the year, Time runner-up and says the NSA isn’t quite as bad as East German Stasi.

-          Morale of NSA workers is down, activists with banners not helping.

-          Obama defends NSA, but says things might need to change.

Gamifying Security and Cognitive Apps

The dudes at DARPA are always coming up with cool stuff. If I was a clever lad I’d be researching all sorts of cool time/space travelling type things. Their latest idea is introducing gamification for finding software vulnerabilities. Called Verigames, it lets people play games and identify potentially problematic chunks of code at the same time.

Another cool step in the universe is the idea of Cognition-as-a-Service (CaaS). According to GigaOM, “CaaS will enable every app to become as smart as Siri in its own niche,” creating properly clever and interactive apps. Also cool but not quite as clever is Microsoft’s new Telepathwords; a nice little service that predicts your password as you type it in. Recommended if you keep getting hacked and think adding a 1 at the end will solve things.

Not so fun is the news that Bots now account for 61% of web traffic. That figure, calculated by Incapsula, marks a 21% rise on last year. It begs the question about what people still do online; when Facebook, Porn, and Youtube viewing is taken into account, doesn’t that just leaving online shopping left?

China’s XP Woes

That pesky Windows XP apocalypse is drawing ever closer. One country unhappy about this is China. The State Copyright Bureau of China’s government says Microsoft is putting users at risk of serious security threats, according to TechInAsia, and wants an extension of support for the OS. A request to which Microsoft has replied, “No.” They should follow Poundland’s example. On the plus side, all these upgrades are keeping business sales of PCs a lot healthier than their consumer counterparts. Hopefully the end of Windows 7, currently due in 2017, will be a less dramatic affair.

In other Microsoft news, the latest candidate to be considered for the soon to be vacant CEO position is Qualcomm’s Steve Mollenkopf, according to Bloomberg.


So despite, or perhaps because of, the news that a third of Yahoo’s revenue comes from a partnership deal with Microsoft, the shopping spree continues. Live concert streaming platform EvntLive and video streaming app QuickIO are both now a part of the Yahoo! paddock,  and there are rumours that Reddit’s favourite image site will be joining too. According to Business Insider, the two are in serious talks and have been for months, presumably so Marissa Mayer can get her hands on all those young affluent Redditors.

Mystery Tech

- Aldi has become the latest high street brand to join the tablet race with its very own low cost Medion Lifetab, which sold out pretty sharpish despite its terrible name. Meanwhile, amidst all those ‘Death of the PC’ headlines, people in India are sticking to their guns – 78% of people think there is still some way to go before the tablet becomes the primary computing device, according to a new survey.

- Nokia is showing no sign of hiding away in a corner of Microsoft’s warehouse after pictures of a rumoured Nokia/Android phone was leaked online. Project Normandy is set to be a Nokia Asha replacement with its own custom Android OS. In return, Microsoft are rumoured to be wanting a Samsung Windows Phone. And after one man had his Samsung catch fire while charging - which Samsung tried to hide, badly - Nokia came out on Twitter to offer him a Lumia as a replacement. How nice of them.

-Despite all the high tech stuff that goes on within the walls of the NSA, it seems the rest of the US Government isn’t quite up to scratch. According the NY Times, the United States government’s daily journal which publishes executive orders and the like still relies on Floppy Disks for much of its work. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a computer with a Floppy drive, can you?

-I suspect there are many Instagramming hipsters who have only seen or used Floppies as ironic jewellery. But it seems all the super futuristic tech hasn’t quite taken hold yet either. According to YouGov, only a third of people are aware of NFC tech, and a fifth of those have actually bothered to use it. Google Glass doesn’t fare much better; only 40% of people can identify Google Glass when shown a picture.

Slowbursting Bubble for Bitcoin?

Lots of news about the world’s favourite cryptocurrency- very little of it good.

-          Ernst & Young don’t think Bitcoin should be seen as a currency for at least 50 years, and PayPal’s president agrees.

-          Korea rejects Bitcoin as a currency, while the EU isn’t backing its use.

-          One expert thinks Bitcoins will lose 99% of their current value by June, and Apple have removed a popular Bitcoin app from its store.

-          Users trying to track the stolen Sheep money were led on a wild goose chase.

-          It seems the 1% still exists in the realm of Bitcoin after some researchers found that less than 1,000 people own half of all Bitcoins.

-          The Daily Mail adds a nice dashing of smut to the story.

Some good news…

-          There’s a new kind of cryptocurrency based on a dog meme - Dogecoin.

-          Former Spice Girl Mel “Scary Spice” B has joined Snoop Dogg in accepting BTCs for her latest musical feast for the ears. Hear the atrocity here [or listen to something good instead].

-          Silicon Valley is getting involved and sunk $25 million into Coinbase.

Responsible, Strategic, Effective Bollocks

The corporate world is full of marketing speak, buzzwords and empty phrases. LinkedIn have scoured profiles for words that show up most often, and ‘Responsible’ is the biggest load of pish that swamped the social network in 2013. Other buzzwords include ‘Strategic’, ‘Creative’ and ‘Effective’. Retired bollocks from last year includes ‘Experimental’, ‘Motivated’ and ‘Specialized’. At least none of them have the gall to put ‘Honest & Original’ though.

McAfee’s Identity Crisis

Though John McAfee and McAfee software are no longer a partnership, and haven’t been in a long time, it’s hard to mention one without the other sometimes. So it’s not too surprising when the company’s CMO Penny Baldwin said in a recent interview with Adweek that over time we will see “massive change in activation points like packaging and names.” It’s more spurring it’s taken them this long to be honest. Was John mad? Not at all, quite the opposite in fact. “It seems that the big honchos at McAfee Corp.  have decided to set me free once and for all from the negative impact that our shared name has brought to my brand and image,” he wrote in a recent blog. So happy is he that he is running a contest to help them find a new name. The reward for the winner? One full year subscription of Norton Antivirus Software and dinner with the man himself. Answers on a postcard.



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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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