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News Roundup: Selling Your Digital Soul, The Loch Ness Mapster and London's ArisTechcracy

Time’s Tech Stars and London’s ArisTechcracy

It’s that time of year again when Time list the 100 most important people in the world. Amongst the world leaders, sports stars, actors and Beyoncé were a fair few tech types. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Nest’s Tony Fadell, Uber’s Travis Kalanick Jawbone’s Hosain Rahman all featured, as did China’s big tech titans Pony Ma and Jack Ma. Whistleblower Ed Snowden also got a mention. No young, good-looking, IDG Connect tech journalists were featured unfortunately.

If that wasn’t enough ego-stroking, London’s Evening Standard recently ran a piece on the big players around Tech City. That’s fine, even if it didn’t include anyone from Lewisham Tech City. But I take exception at it hailing them as ‘The Aristechcracy - The Knights of the Roundabout,’ which is surely the worst Tech/King Arthur pun combo ever.

Selling Your Digital Soul

Ever wondered how much you’re worth? For the right price people are willing to part with almost any bit of themselves, whether soul, organs, or even virginity. But what about our Digital Soul? Turns out it’s worth about £300. According to Wired, “Dutch student Shawn Buckles has auctioned all his personal data to the highest bidder and earned a grand total of €350 (£288).” The ‘Soul’ included personal records, location records, medical records, train travel patterns, personal calendar, emails, social media chats, consumer preferences, browser history and "his thoughts". Not exactly on par with Faust or Robert Johnson though, is it?

NSA

The usual dose of NSA-related headlines…

-          The NSA was accused of exploiting the Heartbleed bug for years, but denies this.

-          A study seems to back up the NSA’s innocence, but doesn’t stop White House plans to let the NSA use similar flaws for its own purposes.

-          Police managed to spy on all of Compton with something that sounds a lot like a drone.

-          Banksy has created a not so subtle dig at the GCHQ

-          Vladimir Putin says the internet originally was a "CIA project" and "is still developing as such."

-          A new study shows governments are unsurprisingly responsible for the vast majority of online spying.

In Russia, VKontakte CEO Pavel Durov is looking to do a reverse-Snowden and leave Russia for more friendly climes. Leaving the social network amid claims about the government nebbing in, he’s posted on Facebook asking where he and 12 other engineers should settle permanently to build new projects “with privacy and freedom of speech in mind.”

Money, Acquisitions & Tech Bubbles

Not content with owning an army of balloons, Google have taken a leaf out of Facebook’s, er, book, and bought itself a drone army. The company have bought Titan Aerospace, makers of solar-powered drones, and stepped up the war to provide internet access to the most remote areas possible. On a related note, the US military is planning to do a similar thing with its old spy planes.

Other recent acquisitions include Zebra Technologies spending an impressive $3.5 billion for Motorola's enterprise business, Facebook have bought fitness-tracking app Moves, and Twitter have swallowed up social data analytics firm Gnip.

In other money news, new figures show Apple dominates the Silicon Valley revenue rankings. According to the San Jose Mercury News' SV150 annual ranking the company makes more than the next two, HP and Google, combined. Meanwhile Google have topped the Tech lobbying list after spending $3.82 Million lobbying in the first quarter or this year.

Also, we are definitely now in a Tech Bubble, because this guy said so.

XP Not Gone or Forgotten

XP is still retired, but the IRS, Chinese government and most of Cuba are pretending otherwise and sticking with the ancient OS for at least a little bit longer. A new study from Avast claims that over a quarter of XP users don’t plan on ever switching.

While there hasn’t been any news of XP-related disasters, the Heartbleed flaw is still causing a few hiccups. Canada’s Revenue Agency said information on about 900 people had been leaked because of it, while the CTO of Akami said we can expect a few more such leaks in the near future.

God’s Chosen Coin

Bitcoin remains newsworthy, despite its value dropping repeatedly. This drop isn’t a big deal, according to Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle. "The early technologies were crude, but they served the basis for worldwide commerce," Allaire said of the internet, circa 1994. "We're at this point in evolution. These transformations take a long time."

The man Newsweek claimed invented Bitcoin is back in the news, this time thanking supporters who have given him $23,000 worth of the virtual currency.  But he’ll soon be forgotten, as the real Satoshi Nakamoto has been found. Maybe. The latest sap to be fingered is Nick Szabo, a blogger with some previous in the digital currency realm. Sadly there was no media frenzy or car chase this time.

Meanwhile Israel has become the latest country to get a national coin, while according to Wired the world’s first Bitcoin Debit Card is almost here. And Ireland now has a politician that accepts Bitcoin donations.

Loch Ness Mapster

He’s eluded some of the maddest scientists in the land for decades, but has Ole’ Nessie been found by the engineers at Apple? Well, no. But that didn’t stop a lot of people getting very excited. Some satellite pictures of Loch Ness in Apple’s Maps app showed what seemed to be a monster-like object in the water, but turned out just to be to a boat and its wake. Oh well. Maybe Bigfoot will show up in someone’s selfie soon.

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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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