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News Roundup: Internet for all, Drone airspace and Windows 10

A roundup of the week’s tech news including Cheeseburgers, Nokia VR and Obama-approved supercomputers

Internet for everyone!

Facebook may be used by half of the internet’s global population and aim to make Virtual Reality a new aspect of social media, but that’s not enough. Everyone in the world needs the internet, and soon!

Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org project celebrates its first anniversary this week. The controversial service has launched in 17 countries and has made it easier than ever for mobile operators to join its initiative through a new partner portal.

Facebook also showed off its first completed Aquila drone. These 737-sized unmanned, solar-powered, internet-providing UAVs promise to hover at altitudes of 60,000 to 90,000ft for up to 90 days, beaming down high-speed internet to the people below.

Google’s Project Loon, however, is a couple of steps ahead. From next year the internet-providing balloons will be deployed across Sri Lanka, giving the entire nation broadband access.

Windows 10

You might have heard that Microsoft released a new version of Windows this week. There’s been a lot of predictions, speculation and guesswork about what the new OS will do for the company. But in the mean-time Windows 10 has seen a healthy 14 million downloads in the first 24 hours, a good sign that this won’t be a new Windows 8 debacle.

There was some confusion from people about Windows 9, Solitaire being freemium and Mozilla’s CEO not being happy about choice and control, but overall times seem good for Satya Nadella & Co.

Nokia VR

Last week there were rumours abound that Nokia Technologies – the bit of Nokia that Microsoft didn’t buy and isn’t buying Alcatel-Lucent – was going to get into the Virtual Reality space. Predictions assumed this would be in a headset guise, and the rumours were half right. Nokia is indeed making a push into VR, but via a 360-degree camera called the Ozo. So where people were predicting the Finnish giant would be competing with the likes of Oculus and the rift, it seems instead GoPro is Nokia’s target incumbent.  

Verbatim

Google recently decided that mandatory Google+ registration was a bad idea and is removing the need to join the search giant’s ghost town of a social network. You can read why the service failed – from the mouths of people who worked at Google – over at Business Insider. Apparently the service was controversial internally, built to solve the company’s own internal problems and didn’t move quickly enough to mobile.

What does ERP stand for? “Enterprise Resource Planning”? Nope. “Expense, Pain, Regret,” according to Sage, the UK’s leading Expense, Pain, Regret vendor.

You may have heard about the Jeep that was remotely hacked, causing a recall of over a million cars. One security expert warns this will be just the tip of the iceberg. “The security of vehicle software is now a safety issue, and manufacturers will need to adapt to treat it as such,” said Tim Erlin, director of security at Tripwire. “While new update methods can be built into new vehicles, there are millions of cars already on the road to consider as well. This won’t be the last patch we see for a car near you.”

Poor Kim Dotcom. He just can’t catch a break. “I'm not involved in Mega anymore,” he told Slashdot. “The company has suffered from a hostile takeover by a Chinese investor who is wanted in China for fraud.”

“As a result of this and a number of other confidential issues I don't trust Mega anymore. I don't think your data is safe on Mega anymore. But my non-compete clause is running out at the end of the year and I will create a Mega competitor that is completely open source and non-profit, similar to the Wikipedia model. I want to give everyone free, unlimited and encrypted cloud storage with the help of donations from the community to keep things going.”

NSA

The usual dose of NSA-related headlines…

-          The NSA will start deleting the data it has been collecting from November.

-          The White House won’t be giving Ed Snowden a pardon.

-          Peru is adopting data retention laws.

-          Google is ignoring a French ruling demanding Right to be Forgotten is applied worldwide.

-          Not long after a report claimed Pakistan was adopting NSA-styled intelligence operations, the country has banned Blackberry’s server operations.

M&A

As of this week, there are now 124 unicorns in the world. That’s a lot more billion-dollar companies than there are actual unicorns in the world. Maybe we should change the name to reflect their relative abundance. Warty Pig or Giant Squid?

HP has acquired Platform as a Service business Stackato from ActiveState, Autotask has bought vowel-hating Cloud sharing startup Soonr, ARM has snapped up Israeli IoT security firm Sansa, NTT has snapped up Indonesian data center operator PT Cyber CSF, and South Africa’s Datatec has purchased the snappily-named Advanced Technology Integration Group.

Another crowdfunding story is over. Ouya, the Android-based gaming console that raised over $8 million on Kickstarter, has seen its software and staff joined Razer. The company has been struggling for a while – even despite a $10 million investment from Alibaba.

I can haz cheezburger? Google reportedly asked that question to Impossible Foods – makers of a plant-based burger – along with several hundred million dollars in an effort to acquire the company. The Information reports that IF turned down the offer because they felt it was too low.

Trucks, cars & drones

Is Apple teaming up with BMW for Project Titan, its iOS©-branded autonomous car? BMW says No. Oh well, plenty of other things going on. 

Daimler’s self-driving trucks are due to start being tested in Germany later this year. This will no doubt go down horribly with Europe’s protest-happy lorry drivers. Expect protests not dissimilar to the anti-Uber demonstrations before long.

Meanwhile truck company Workhorse has decided to move into the drone business and debuted the Horsefly; an automated octocopter that lives on top of the traditional truck’s roof and delivers parcels on the go.

Amazon, as well as working on a new crowdfunding storefront and a drive-thru retail store, wants your airspace. The eCommerce giant – pushing hard to bring drone-based delivery to the masses - has called for a UAV-specified airspace below normal planes at a height of 200 to 400ft.

All these drones flying around are going to be hard to manage, which is why some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech firms are coming together to create air traffic control systems for the little blighters. Details are light at the minute, but could be an interesting project.

And finally, for some reason, Samsung is working on a selfie-drone that follows you around taking pictures of you. Perfect for people who like the idea of being followed by the paparazzi but haven’t quite reached that level of fame yet.

Obama vs Supercomputers

President Obama saw the most recent list of the world’s top 500 Supercomputers, saw China was doing better than the US, and decided enough is enough. The POTUS has issued an Executive Order establishing the National Strategic Computing Initiative. The result? The US aims create the world’s first exascale computer.

Half-Life Wear

“You know what tiny smartwatch screens are good for? 1st person shooters.” If you think that statement makes sense, you’ll approve of the modders who managed to shoehorn the original Half-Life onto an Android-powered LG G Watch: screen size 1.65-inch.

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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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