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News Roundup: Sexual harassment, Amazon logistics and witchcraft anti-virus

A roundup of the week’s tech news including McAfee the Cyber-Libertarian, IoT rectal thermometers and Bowie’s unicorn.

Women in the Valley

Another week, another depressing headline about women in tech. According to a new survey of 200 women working in the tech industry for at least 10 years, 60% suffered unwanted sexual advances, mostly from their bosses, and most of those who reported the incident were dissatisfied with the resultant course of action.

NSA

-          The NSA really doesn’t want to talk about its colouring book.

-          UK MP Theresa May says the UK doesn’t do mass surveillance, something which the public are apparently now ok with.

-          Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo! are all not ok with the UK’s proposed “Snoopers Charter”.

-          Dutch Police claim they can hack encrypted Blackberrys.

-          French authorities considered, then decided against, banning strong encryption. Hooray.  

McAfee the Cyber-Libertarian

Although he seemingly doesn’t understand how his own Apple Watch works, US Presidential candidate Jeb Bush has this week revealed his cyber-security policies.

“We can't trust someone as our next president who didn't take cybersecurity seriously when she was secretary of state,” wrote Bush the third, promising more accountability, increased cyber-enforcement capabilities, and greater innovation.

Rival candidate John McAfee, however, was not impressed. The cyber-security expert – who is now running for the Libertarian party nomination rather than under own Cyber Party banner – accused Bush of showing “an utter lack of understanding of what is really happening in the cybersecurity world.”

“If his understanding of our position is as described in his policy statement,” he wrote in Business Insider, “then our best move is to immediately surrender to the Chinese or the Russians and hope for mercy.”

Elsewhere McAfee has recently warned people off Bitcoin and blamed the US government for creating ISIS.

M&A

Apparently private companies with a valuation of less than $1 billion but with the potential to reach that figure are now called “Foals”, rather than just “companies”.

Amazon has acquired French delivery company Colis Privé, IBM now owns IRIS Analytics, Accelerite has purchased Citrix’s CloudPlatform, Pivotal Software has bought UX design firm Slice of Lime, Microsoft has snapped up Event Zero’s Skype technology, Digital Currency Group has splashed out for Bitcoin new publication CoinDesk, and Startups.co has snaffled business education site Zana.

Raytheon has spun out its cyber-security products, Websense and StoneSoft into a new company, ForcePoint. Lexmark is considering breaking up the company, Check Point and CyberArk are rumoured to be looking at a merger, and Yahoo! is reportedly investigating selling off its web business. The biggest rumour of all this week is that Apple may be interesting in acquiring at least part of Time Warner Inc.

Amazon logistics

As well as an eCommerce, cloud and streaming giant, it seems Amazon will soon be a massive worldwide logistics company in the near future. Jeff Bezos’ organization already has an air cargo operation, its own fleet of trucks, and one eye on drone delivery, but now the company is getting into ocean shipping. Amazon’s Chinese unit has registered to operate as an ocean freight forwarder in the United States, meaning not only would the company be able to control the shipping of its own goods, but would be able to provide ocean freight services for others too. This would allow Amazon to ship products directly from Chinese factories to shoppers as well as act as courier for third parties.

HoloLen-ovo

There’s no shortage of entries into the smartglasses market these days: aside from Google Glass, there’s Opta-Invent, Baidu, Alto Tech, Telepathy, MadGlass, Vuzix, Carl Zeiss, Osterhout Design Group, Epson, Daqri  and of course Microsoft, just to name a few. And now, according the company's Chief Technology Officer, Lenovo could soon be entering the fray.

”We’re comfortable with bringing these kinds of things to market as customer demand grows,” Peter Hortensius told the IDG News Service. While it’s not a nailed on commitment, Hortensius added that Lenovo wants to be a part of the fast-growing AR & VR markets and would have no problems developing its own AR technology.

More Alphabet reshuffles

Google[x], the division based on developing “moonshots”, is the latest unit to have a rebrand. The division is now simply known as “X” and has a new logo, and will be far more accountable for the projects it’s working on.

Following the success of Google Cardboard, the company has now created a whole Virtual Reality division. Expect more virtual tours and branded headsets in the coming months.

Drones

Commercial drones are yet to be a thing due the fact you can’t fly beyond line of sight, but that hasn’t stopped a race to become the first “commercial drone airport”. Up until now, North Dakota’s Grand Sky has claimed to be the first, but now it has competition in Nevada from the excellently-named Eldorado Droneport. Since both are currently under construction, it’s a straight race to the title.

Elsewhere, the head of Google’s drone delivery project predicts its drone delivery service will be ready within the next one to three years if the tech industry and the FAA can work together.

Is the IoT jumping the shark?

Three Internet of Things gadgets that don’t need to be: The IoT talking rubber duck. The insecure IoT doorbell. The IoT rectal thermometer. Just because you can put internet-enabled microchips into things, doesn’t always mean you should.  

Retiring too soon

We would all like to retire early, but few of us can. Unless you work in technology. According to a new study from Randstad Technologies, half of all tech workers in the UK plan to retire early. Headlines about IT skills shortages are pretty common already, but expect them to soar once all the baby boomers have shuffled off the Costa del Sol.

Cyber-witchcraft

Cyber-security can be a very dull subject. Well done to Vice then, who found an original take the subject. Reverend Joey Talley is a Wiccan witch who offers alternative tech support, exorcising malware from computers using spells and tokens. Expect her to be acquired by Raytheon soon.

Phantom vibrations

Ever had your phone in your pocket and been SURE you felt it vibrate? You’re not alone. According to new research, nine out of 10 people suffer from “phantom vibration syndrome”. Apparently this is due to “learned bodily habits.”

“People then perceive other sensations such as movement of clothing of muscle spasms as vibrations from your mobile, but it’s just a hallucination,” said Dr Robert Rosenberger, philosopher and assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Bowie and the Unicorn

The world lost David Bowie this week. As well as great music, the man was more than a bit tech-savvy. During the late 90s/early 2000s, Bowie was part of a technology company called UltraStar, which ran an Internet Service Provider called BowieNet. At its peak, the service – which offered exclusive Bowie content as well as access to the web – had around 200,000 users and a valuation of around $818 million (over $1 billion in today’s money, meaning Bowie owned a tech unicorn).

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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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