News Roundup: Severed Finger Biometrics, 'Like'-ing Human Rights and Billion Dollar Tweets

Appy Apple Days

So the iPhone 5S, 5C, and iOS 7 were released this week. There was jubilation, tears, delays in downloading and shortages of handsets. And some smug people went wild and got GTA V as well.

Despite the concern of many, the public was reassured that severed fingers would not in fact unlock your phone, but if you so desired you could set it recognise your big toe, as well as a cat's paw. And for everyone worried about the NSA getting hold of your biometric data, you could just not get an iPhone? Just saying.

And inevitably with a new iOS comes the hoard of new apps; much the same as the old ones, but more aesthetically suited to Apple’s new anti-skeuomorphic design. According to Gartner, mobile app downloads will have reached 102 Billion by the year’s end, and 268 billion by 2017. But in case you think it’s all Angry Birds and Snapchat downloads, a new report is claiming the app economy accounts for nearly 800,000 new jobs across EU in the last five years. And only half of them in Lewisham Tech City.

Mark Zuckerberg – Granter of Human Rights

So in the same week Forbes revealed Mr. Facebook has increased his wealth by a third since last year, a judge in the US has now given the Facebook ‘Like’ constitutional protection under the First Amendment. Zuckerberg’s other project,, also released a 70-page white paper on Monday, outlining how they plan to provide web access to everyone. I applaud their intentions, but I still don’t see the internet as a human right, just an enabler of one. It makes me sad when people answer surveys saying they’d give up pretty much everything and their dog for web access.

In other Mark Zuckerberg side-project news,, the political lobbying group he set up earlier in the year, recently released some stats on what they’ve been up to. According to TechCrunch, it drove 33,500 calls to Congress this summer and a total of 125,000 actions including social media shares. So overall, it’s doing its bit, but isn’t majorly impressive.

Twitter’s Billion Dollar Tweet

And following in Facebook’s footsteps, Twitter have announced plans for their own IPO, via the medium of tweeting. Early details are sketchy, but it’s thought the company could end up being worth between $10 and $15 billion.

NSA – Lost in Translation

More NSA stories- it’s a fairly endless trickle so here goes:

-Brazilian hackers attacked NASA instead of the NSA, while Brazil plans to circumvent the US’ influence over the web.

- There is no NSA backdoor for Linux systems, but the NSA does buy Zero-day info from a French firm, while also hacking French networks.

-The NSA uses man in the middle attacks, and gives Israel raw data it collects. And monitors credit card transactions.

- The man who owns the domain name is selling email addresses at $100 a pop and Kim Dotcom does not trust US companies.

The UK: Divided in more ways than one

Bad news all round for tech in the UK. Aside from all the iPhone & GTA statuses, it seems we have the start of a major skills shortage. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills issued a report predicting the digital sector would need 300,000 workers over the next decade to “maximise its full potential”. It looks like the old North/South divide is still as alive as it ever was too; Age UK did some number crunching and found older people in Surrey were more than twice as likely to have web access as those in Tyne & Wear. Do the right thing people; get Granny & Granddad online.

The NHS meanwhile has the proud title of owning the 'the biggest IT failure ever seen', after the parliament's public spending watchdog published a report that found the project went more than £3 billion over budget. The estimated total bill is looking to be around £9.8 billion. They clearly didn’t read any of IDG Connect’s white papers on proper project management beforehand.

Drunken Gesture Hardware

Some cool hardware news of late. Adobe has announced the excellently named Project Mighty and Project Napoleon, a smart pen and smart ruler scheduled for a 2014 release. HP has unveiled a new laptop with built-in motion control sensor. A former Apple man said the company was working on similar products to Google Glass but scrapped them due to time constraints.

Best of all however, was the news that Intel labs has created a microprocessor that runs on Wine. They chose a nice red, if you’re so inclined, but they didn’t specify vintage. The labs eventual aim is to create super low power processors that don’t compromise on performance.


Despite all the talk of failing and being sold off, Blackberry refuses to give up. They may be soon cutting 40% of the workforce, but they’ve just released a new phablet, the Z30, and is launching a BlackBerry Messenger app on Android and iOS this weekend. All very sound ideas. But probably too little, too late.

Get With the Times

Earlier this month I had a big rant about how Tech Is Ruining Language. I mentioned that kids and older people are increasingly speaking different languages, and some new research has come out proving my point. Of the 1,000 parents Disney surveyed, 66% no clue what their kids were talking about online. Buy more dictionaries people, and hit your kids with them until they talk proper.

In some other internet-ruining real-life news, it apparently only takes 224 tweets for new couples to fall in love. Us youngsters fall head over heels in less than half the time it took the over-55s – 163 text messages, 70 Facebook messages, 37 emails and 30 phone calls. It somehow ruins the romance to quantify love in such a way, don’t you think?

Freedom! For a minute at least

Iran has a very public dislike of the internet. But for a brief while, people were able to access the likes of Twitter and Facebook without the use of VPN software.  Sadly this was not a bold step towards removing censorship, but just a technical glitch. New president Hassan Rohani has called for reduced internet restrictions, but people shouldn’t expect any sort of big changes overnight.

Can’t Keep a Good Man Down

John McAfee provides a near endless supply of headlines. This week though, many worried that he had come to an end after a report circulated that the former security software man died at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas as the "result of a suspected cocaine and alcohol fuelled binge". The news probably came as a big surprise to the man himself, who Tweeted the next morning that the reports were probably not true. 



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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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