News Roundup: Tweeting Women, the New Cookie and the Collapse of Apps

A roundup of the week’s tech news including Kanye West, Millionaires online and DellCoin.

Women in Tweet

More diversity reports have been released this week, this time from Twitter and Pinterest. Twitter fares about the same as other Silicon Valley giants with 30% of its overall workforce female (but a lowly 10% in the tech department and 21% in leadership roles) and about 60% of the entire workforce are white. Pinterest meanwhile – the Social Network used predominately by women – boasts a 40% female workforce (although 19% in leadership and only 21% in tech departments).

This is a subject Pinterest’s Tracy Chou is keen to talk about, and to encourage discussion, has set up a spreadsheet detailing the number of female software engineers at various startups and big tech companies. Again the numbers aren’t good. Women make up about 16% of engineers from 150 startups. The only company with more than 100 engineers and more than 20% females is ThoughtWorks. Dropbox, Mozilla and Yelp’s engineering workforces are only 8% women, Github’s is 6%. Not cool guys.


The usual dose of NSA headlines

-          All this spying is unconstitutional, according to one former State Department official.

-          The NSA denies there’s any passing around of people’s nudie photos.

-          Dutch spies can use NSA-collected data after a new court ruling.

-          A security expert has claimed Apple purposely put backdoors in its iOS software. Apple has responded saying it’s not true.

-          The Open Rights Group is looking to block the new UK DRIP act, while two MPs are looking to sue their government over it.

-          The founder of Snowden-approved SpiderOak has spoken out – His company has seen a lot of growth lately and feels that "Privacy is a right, not a privilege."

-          The US government needs to help restore trust in US tech companies, according to the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

-          A new survey shows people want the spying/privacy imbalance readdressed.

-          Ed Snowden likes to spend his time promoting privacy tools, and hackers should think like 'worst people on Earth' to outwit the NSA.

-          Internet maverick Kim Dotcom says his new Internet Party will “abolish mass surveillance.”

Italy vs. Google, Russia vs. IBM

The fightback against US tech is still ongoing. The Italian data protection regulator has given Google 18 months to change data use practices or face fines and more legal troubles, while it joined Yahoo! and Microsoft in meeting with European data protection authorities over the ‘Right to be forgotten’ ruling.

Russia’s aggressive anti-US stance was reiterated this week after the country’s lower house of parliament are said to be working on bill that requires government agencies and state-run enterprises to give preference to local providers of software and hardware, according to Bloomberg. The likes of IBM, HP and others are said to make billions of dollars from Russia, so this ruling could be bad news. And Russian government has decided to take on Tor now as well with a reward of $114,000 to anyone who can crack the online anonymity tool.

Facebook Furore No More And The New Cookie

The fallout from Facebook’s emotional study seems to have evaporated. In the company’s latest earnings call, Mr. Z said people in the US now spend 40 minutes per day on his site. If backlash these days is a couple of days of bad press and no adverse effect on numbers, expect more experiments to come, right?

Meanwhile, scientists at the University of Illinois have decided to start doing its own (consensual) News Feed tests. They found that over 60% of people didn’t actually know algorithms did any feed filtering, and were upset about it. Result? People tweaked their feeds more and spent an increased amount of time on the site.

The latest unauthorised experiment on the internet is the appearance of a new kind of cookie. Called canvas fingerprinting, this tracker tells a visitor’s web browser to draw a hidden image, and the (almost) unique result is your fingerprint. That’s fine, but what researchers discovered is that social sharing tool maker AddThis has installed this on thousands of sites, ranging from the White House to YouPorn. Apparently the company didn’t tell the sites it was testing its code on because “we conduct R&D projects in live environments to get the best results from testing.” Adblock Plus got in on the news claiming its browser plug-in gave you protection.

The Inevitable Collapse of Mobility

VisionMobile has just released its latest Developer Economics report detailing the cashflow behind the app economy. According to its figures, nearly a quarter of all apps don’t make any money and a further quarter make less than $100 a month. The report says that 64% of Android developers fall below the “app poverty line” of $500 per app per month, while the top 1.6% of developers make more than $500,000. The 1% exist everywhere don’t they?

Google is reportedly buying game live-streaming site Twitch for $1 billion and has definitely acquired DrawElements, Yahoo! has continued its spree with the arrival of analytics firm Flurry, LinkedIn has got its hands on Bizo, Teradata now owns both Revelytix and Hadapt and Dassault Systemes is to buy Quintiq.  Elsewhere Docker has bought Orchard, Getinge has acquired Cetrea, Software Europe has bought Workforce Metrics, IgnitionDeck has snapped up both Fundify and CrowdPress and Avast now own Inmite.

Kanye West recently weighed in on Apple’s acquisition of Dr. Dre’s Beats, essentially claiming it only did it because Samsung signed a deal with Jay-Z. "There would have been no Beats deal without the Samsung deal. It showed the number one company the importance of connecting with culture," West said. He also had some views on Instagram. "I said to [Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom], why don't you let us redo Instagram?” Wonder if West works in Java or HTML5?

Wear vs. Glass vs. Shoes

So Google Glass continues to get a bashing in the press. Despite Reddit and eBay releasing Glass apps, a new survey shows just 9% of people would be willing to buy the device if it cost $750 on its release. The future it seems belongs to the smartwatch, with news that apps made for Android Wear already outnumber Glass apps after just a few of weeks. Uh-oh.

Nevermind, why don’t you go for a stylish Smartshoe from India instead? The Bluetooth-enabled sneakers link with Google maps and vibrate to tell users when and where to turn on the way to their destination. In another nifty bit of invention, Motorola have revealed digital tattoos that can unlock your Moto X. Cool.

Millionaires and Their Apps

There’s been a few interesting studies out lately. A Spectrem Group survey of 1,300 millionaires found that these rich swines prefer to use Facebook and LinkedIn over Twitter. Maybe they don’t like mixing too much with the common people. Meanwhile another study found that with the exception of The Star and The Sun, people feel Twitter and Facebook are the least impartial news providers, and don’t trust them as news sources.

A study by the New Forest National Park Authority found that kids feel neglected by their parents because of tech. Almost 70% of kids surveyed said their parents spend too much time on their phone, iPad or other devices, while almost as many parents feel the same way about their kids. The lesson? Put down the tech and go outside people.


Dell is now accepting Bitcoin payments, making it one of the largest companies in the world to accept the payment, and may well lead the way for other tech companies to do the same. Meanwhile the city of New York has passed strict BTC regulations and Ecuador has banned them outright and may be looking to set up a state cryptocurrency instead. And in a surprising bit of research, Latin Americans are apparently the most avid fans of the digital currency.

Tech Crimes Against Music

“Weird Al” Yankovic has finally reached No.1 on the US charts, thanks to a little help from business buzzwords. Parodying Crosby, Stills & Nash’s ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,’ Al’s ‘Mission Statement’ is full of business jargon about leveraging core competencies and holistic synergy and reads like the majority of your daily meetings.

Meanwhile Microsoft have taken crimes against music to a new level with ‘Click it and I Note it’. A parody of LMFAO’s ‘Sexy and I Know It,’ the OneNote Engineering Team clearly have no shame. Watch if you dare.


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Rant: The Internet of Things Is Nothing New »
Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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