News Roundup: Ride-hailing is the new hot tech trend

A roundup of the week’s technology news including smartphone market saturation, Silicon Valley skiing, and Steve Jobs’ CV.


Every company is a software taxi company

Once upon time, the narrative was about every company becoming a software company; releasing APIs, services, apps, things like that. Apparently, the new narrative is ‘every company can make money from taxi services’.

This week saw Sony announce it’s planning to develop an AI-led taxi-hailing system, Bosch acquire ridesharing startup SPLT and establish a ‘connected mobility services’ unit, and CityMapper is swapping its bus plans for minibus car-pooling.


Smartphone saturation

We hit the point of PC saturation long ago. Even the slightest uptick in sales is newsworthy. And now we might well have hit the point of smartphone saturation. Global sales of smartphones recorded its first ever decline in Q4 of 2017, according to Gartner. This drop, according to research director Anshul Gupta, was down to “a lack of quality ‘ultra-low-cost’ smartphones” to drive upgrades from feature phones, and users keeping their devices for longer.


Security headlines

  • Intel has been hit with 32 lawsuits over Meltdown and Spectre, including two from its own shareholders.
  • UK spy agencies are still on friendly terms with Huawei, unlike the US.
  • China reportedly spied on communications at the Chinese-built African Union’s headquarters. China denies the allegations.
  • Hackers can steal data from even Faraday Cage air-gapped computers (if they pre-install malware on it).
  • McAfee claims cybercrime cost the global economy $600 billion last year.


Silicon Valley Skiing

Who can ski better; robots or the people that code them? Last week a group of robots gently swerved down a mild incline. This week a Silicon Valley coder completed possibly the tamest freeski halfpipe in Olympic history.

US-born Elizabeth Swaney – a software engineer recruiter in the Bay Area – was eligible to represent Hungary through her grandparents, and enable to compete simply because the competition pool is so shallow. It seems if 30 can enter, even you’re the worst entree out of 28, you can still compete on the world’s stage.

Shockingly she did not qualify for the final. Despite her lack of adventure on the pipe, she was “really disappointed” about not featuring. She still hoped others would follow in her footsteps (but not in the gaming the system bit).

“I really hope to inspire others in Hungary to take up freestyle skiing and I hope that contributes to a greater number of people out there freestyle skiing.”

The Hungarian Ski Federation was less than enthusiastic: “The situation was mainly caused by the qualification system and few participants. It is a fact that we have not seen Elizabeth in action the last year, we realised her level at the Olympics. She self-funded her preparation & qualifying.”



Samsung has snapped up the Opera Max browser and rebranded it to Samsung Max, and has acquired Komfo from Sitecore.

Wikipedia is closing its Wiki Zero service, Twitter has discontinued its Mac desktop app, and Nuance is shutting shop on its Swype keyboard.

Nokia’s health business is definitely doomed, according to an internal memo. But at least it’s launching a Smart Cities platform.

Spotify is definitely looking to get into the hardware game.


Send me a postcard

Has anyone got a clue how Facebook can reduce the chance of foreign enemies buying ads to influence elections? Answers on a postcard, please. No, literally.

The Social Network plans to use postcards sent by U.S. mail to verify identities and location of those who purchase U.S. election-related advertising on its site.


S3 has a problem

Does it count as a breach if a company leaves all its data wide open to the world? According to Skyhigh Networks, 7% of all S3 buckets have unrestricted public access, while 35% are unencrypted. The problem of misconfigured Amazon S3 buckets has seen organizations such as Verizon, Booz Allen Hamilton, the WWE foundation, and the NSA all leave sensitive data exposed.

There is no shortage of homebrew tools designed to scan the web for exposed buckets, but a new site called BuckHacker is looking to be the Shodan of S3 buckets and highlight if data is in danger. Even the BBC is now reporting that security researchers are posting “friendly warnings” to users who are exposed.

Last year it tried to throw some Machine Learning at the problem with AWS Macie; a tool designed to automatically discover and protect sensitive data stored in AWS, but that clearly hasn’t cut it. Amazon has now made S3 bucket permissions check-free for all users in an attempt to try and stem the negative headlines.


Maersk says no to autonomous container ships

While cars grab the headlines, vehicles of almost every type are quickly gaining autonomous features. Maersk’s CEO Soren Skou, however is doubtful that automation will ever come to the container ship space.

“Even if the technology advances, I don’t expect we will be allowed to sail around with 400-meter long container ships, weighing 200,000 tonnes without any human beings on board,” he said. “I don’t think it will be a driver of efficiency, not in my time.”

Given that Skou is only 53, he’s clearly pouring water on the efforts of companies such as Rolls-Royce and Yara International, who are looking to deliver autonomous ships within the next decade.


Drone strike

A drone has caused a helicopter to crash. The FCC confirmed that a helicopter struck a tree and crash landed near Daniel Island, South Carolina, after reportedly swerving to avoid a drone. Luckily there were no injuries. An investigation is under way, but reports are suggesting it was a DJI model of UAV.


1 old Steve Jobs resume = 50 iPhone Xs

The Cult of Steve Jobs is alive and well. A CV written by the Apple founder will go up for auction next month. The single page resume from 1973 has an estimated value of $50,000. One has to wonder how much one of his turtleneck jumpers would go for if a bit of paper can go for fifty grand.


Holy Hackathon

Did you know the Vatican has a CIO? Not only that, but the Holy City is having its first hackathon. The VHacks hackathon – due to take place 8th-11th March - will be centred around ‘using technology to overcome social barriers’. According to TNW, the idea did not have to be pitched to the Pope. Who I guess is like the board and CEO of the Vatican.  


Nintendo’s latest Linux tablet

Have you ever looked at a Nintendo Switch and thought; “I’m bored of Zelda and Cardboard games, I wish I could use that as a fully working Linux tablet.”? No? Well, now you can anyway.

Hacking group fail0verflow has shared a video of a Switch running a full Linux distro including working web browser. The group claim this is thanks to a bootrom bug that can’t be patched and doesn't require a modchip to execute.


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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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