News Roundup: BaselWorld, Pirate Party, and Clippy erotica

A roundup of the week’s tech news including drones, wind turbines & self-driving cars

An understated smartwatch revolution at BaselWorld

Before BaselWorld – the watch industry’s answer to CES or Mobile World Congress – we were promised that smartwatches would be a ‘hot topic’ at the event. Instead the opening Q&A panel seemed unimpressed and dismissive of the fact there’s a whole new segment of their industry. 

The biggest news of the weekend was Tag Heuer finally releasing some details about its own smartwatch. The Swiss company is partnering with Intel and Google to create an Android Wear version of its Carrera watch.

Also announced at the event was a series of traditional watches with smart features - powered by the same team behind the likes of Jawbone - from Mondaine, Alpina and Frederique Constant, along with new devices on show from Kairos and Vector, but there was no word from Fossil about a delivery date for their planned smart device. Will.i.Am announced a partnership with Gucci for his poorly-received Puls watch, and also tried to make the word ‘fashionology’ acceptable. It’s not.


Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina has yet to confirm whether she’ll run for President, but is definitely making it clear what kind of soapboxes she’d be standing on if she did. As well as confirming she is staunchly pro-life, Fiorina re-affirmed her stance as the GOP’s Anti-Hilary. “If I am the [Republican] nominee, Benghazi and the ‘email-gate’ and her entire track record will be the issue in the 2016 campaign,” she told Fox News. “Titles are not accomplishments. I’ve had a lot of titles – they’re just titles, they’re just positions. What counts is what have you done? What have you accomplished? And in particular what have you, Mrs. Clinton, accomplished on behalf of the American people? Have you kept us safer? No. What have you accomplished honestly on behalf of women and girls, which she talks a lot about?”

Senator Rand Paul, meanwhile, is trying to round up up some tech support ahead of his run at the GOP nomination. Speaking at South by Southwest, he reaffirmed that he’s against the NSA’s mass surveillance, and uses apps like Snapchat to talk to younger voters. How trendy.

Back in the UK, Chancellor George Osborne announced his 2015 budget plan. In terms of tech, Osbourne said his proposed “Google Tax” would come into force from April, as well as promising money for research and development in driverless cars, Internet of Things and digital currencies.

Finally, the Pirate Party in Iceland is now a major political force. A new poll from Icelandic research firm MMR has ranked Píratar as the country’s most popular political party. Another poll recently conducted by Iceland's largest newspaper, Fréttablaðið shows the Píratar would come second in an election. “To be completely honest, I don’t know why we enjoy so much trust, we are all just as surprised, thankful and take this as a sign of mistrust towards conventional politics,” Birgitta Jonsdottir, leader of the Píratar, told Visir. “Traditional politics have not shown progress and people are tired of waiting for change. It is good that people are rejecting corruption and hubris.”


The usual dose of NSA-related headlines.

-          SAP says that just because it sells to governments, that doesn’t mean it has backdoors.

-          Cisco sends equipment to empty houses to avoid the NSA installing backdoors in their stuff.

-          The NSA was targeting Canadian banks & telecoms companies.

-          There’s even NSA malware in SPAAACE.

-          The US government threatened to cut off intelligence to Germany if they gave Ed Snowden asylum.

-          The CIO of the White House says “All browsing activity should be considered private and sensitive.”

-          GCHQ advises organizations on how to avoid security leaks.

-          The EU would like the US to respect its privacy more.

-          Amnesty says most people are against government spying, and Pew says some of them have actually done something

-          Ed Snowden made a video call to SXSW and called for the tech elite to carry on the fight against spying, and in another interview warned that spies are now targeting IT guys.

-          Australia is edging closer to mass surveillance and bulk data collection.

-          Bloomberg says Kaspersky Lab is working with Russian spies, Kaspersky says they work with lots of governments.

Facebook has released the latest version of its Government Requests Report. Requests were up, with the US leading the way with over 14,000 requests. India came second with over 5,000 and UK third with over 2,000. Meanwhile Amazon are unlikely to start revealing their equivalent data.


Lots and lots and lots of M&A stuff this week. Also another investor says there’s a tech bubble.

In the social media world, Twitter has acquired live-streaming developer Periscope, Facebook has bought eCommerce search site The Find, and LinkedIn has snapped up recruitment software startup Careerify.

Elsewhere Opera has bought VPN provider SurfEasy, Autodesk has purchased design startup Modio, Cheetah Mobile has snaffled MobPartner, Lookback has acquired Quickcast and Rakuten has taken over eBook company OverDrive. Fastback Networks has acquired Sub10 Systems, OpenDNS now owns BGPMon, Ericsson has taken over Sunrise Technology, and Orange has bought Cloudwatt.

Non-tech firms buying tech this week sees KPMG acquiring security firm First Point Global, Raytheon in talks to buy security firm Websense and Forbes has bought mobile camera app Camerama.

Google’s big ideas, drones & self-driving cars

Google’s Project Loon is coming along nicely. But if you thought that was the only piece of sky-tech flying the blue, red, yellow and green flag of Google, think again. The search giant is also working on flying 84-foot wind turbines. Speaking at SXSW, Google X's Astro Teller said they look like planes, each equipped with eight propellers and tethered; once at 450 meters up, the plane starts doing large circles in the sky, which turns the plane's propellers and generates energy.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently put forth the rules it would like to see applied to small drones from 2017. The FAA would allow small drones of under 55 pounds to fill the sky for business purposes. The FAA has also announced this week that it has approved Amazon’s plans to test its drone delivery service.

However in the UK, the House of Lords has warned that while drones could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, “just one disastrous accident” could ruin it all, and all civilian drones should be registered on a central database. Meanwhile, a new group called Drones For Good are campaigning to improve the often bloodied image of drones in the public eye.

There’s also been lots of chatter about self-driving cars lately. Google want a self-driving car on the road within five years, Elon Musk says more like five months. The Tesla chief also said this week that self-driving cars could eventually lead to a ban on human drivers. The fact that Google removed manual steering wheels and brakes from their cars because people are not a "reliable backup" kind of echoes that sentiment. Oddly enough Lyft CEO Logan Green – whose whole business is built around people hiring drivers - doesn’t think people will buy them.


“Password” may still be most popular password, but people who run their fingers along keyboards aren’t much better. An analysis of leaked passwords found that an alarmingly large number of people think just using the likes of “qwertyuiop,” “poiuytrewq” or “1qaz2wsx” means they’re secure. But it doesn’t take a genius to work out keyboard patterns. Don’t to it people.

Clippy Erotica

Ever dreamed that instead of asking about you writing a letter, Clippy would instead wonder if you wanted to take this to the bedroom? Well now you can. A man by the name of Leonard Delaney has turned Microsoft’s cute mascot into an object of lust with his latest Kindle book, “Conquered by Clippy: An Erotic Short Story.” “When I was a young boy, I was lonely and lost, but my mother brought me a computer with Microsoft Word,” Delaney told the Daily Dot. “Clippy appeared to me—with kind eyes and a steel shoulder to cry on, he listened to my prayers. He was a powerful and sensual presence in my life.” Judging from the overwhelmingly positive reviews, it looks like it could be a wildcard for the Booker Prize.


A few weeks ago we told you that the mighty Metallica sold out and performed at a corporate shindig hosted by Salesforce.com. Well now you can listen to the whole gig for free. Just go to the Metallica live vault and download the whole 90 minute gig. Rock on.


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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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