The Top Tech Stories Bite Sized!

So Happy New Year. Again there have been some really interesting technology stories that I think you might be interested in. This is taken from the general pattern of conversation in the tech world last month. I will as always bite-size them so they do not bore the reader – so let’s get started!

 

IBM Take on Amazon

IBM and Microsoft plan to challenge Amazon AWS cloud services by opening a number of their own ‘soft cloud’ data centers. This may sound a bit advanced news wise, but it means that the cost of apps, games and storage may drop as competition can only be a good thing.

 

Hacking Group offer their services for Bitcoin

Well there is no finer demonstration of a hack team than taking down Sony and Microsoft gaming networks. Now their skills and ‘botnets’ (thousands of infected computers under their control through malware/viruses) are available to the public hell-bent on bringing down business websites. According to TechRadar

“Lizard Squad, the hacker group behind the DDoS (distributed denial of service) that prevented millions of gamers worldwide of playing on Sony’s PSN and Microsoft’s Xbox Live, have come up with a new tool that could well make the lives of webmasters a little more difficult. The entity released a new service called LizardStresser, one that allows anyone to launch their own DDoS attacks on any websites for anything between $6 (about £4, AU$7) to $500 (about £330, AU$570) with the latter offering 30,000 seconds of DDoS. The site is currently offline with a message stating “Switching servers… will be back online soon – All paid accounts will receive one week bonus as compensation”. The service can only be paid by Bitcoin for now, with Paypal coming later.”

This is I feel just the beginning of what will become an industry of remote ‘protection rackets’.

Be afraid – if you have malicious competitors! Be very afraid!

 

 Get ready for the Quantum Dot

Quantum Dot Technology.

(Image Source: Wikipedia).

CES ‘The Consumer Electronics Show 2015’ will feature something interesting in screen Technology. It is called The Quantum Dot. Although the science behind this is not new, the use of it to save energy in in consumer monitors and TV screens is. Rather the explain it it is easier to quote IEEE Spectrum:

“Quantum dot technology promises to be an even better backlight than LED. Here’s why. A TV picture is made up of pixels (picture elements), each with red, green, and blue subpixels. In an LCD TV and most LED TVs, the LCD display creates those colors by filtering white light. (Typical LED TVs use white LEDs—actually blue LEDs coated in a yellow phosphor—on one or two edges of the TVs. What manufacturers call LCD TVs use fluorescent tubes behind the screen.) White light, however, doesn’t just contain the pure red, green, and blue that make up the TV image; it contains pinks, and yellows, and oranges and other extras that get through to slightly change the red, green, and blue tones.  And the better the filters are at blocking these extraneous colors, the less light makes it to your eye—not an efficient way to create a bright picture. Some LED TV manufacturers in the past addressed this problem by using red, green, and blue diodes instead of white ones; this, however, turned out to be too costly and too power-hungry an approach.”

Basically it is a clever thing that will save power on your TV screens – that’s about as easy an explanation as I can muster. But it will be everywhere soon so now you know what it is at least!

 

Instagram upset Justin Bieber as he loses half his followers!

Instagram has decided to delete spam accounts. Justin Bieber is probably upset too because he just went from most followed person on Instagram to not. Kim Kardashian has taken that title.

The thing with social networks is if you have a Twitter or Facebook account and are relatively well known its a pretty fair guess that half of your followers are bots looking for crumbs, or bot followers bought by the celebrity in question from ‘follower farms’ in Asia. Twitter is probably the worse. You are not as popular as you think! If Twitter follows suit there could be some very crushed egos! Boo-hoo(!) poor Justin…

 

Sextortion!

A new word ‘Sextortion’ is one to remember! This comes from Filipino sex workers (amongst others) who create fake relationships with western men (in general) and get them to have ‘cyber-sex’ and then turn on them and use the videos(and/or screen-grab photos) as blackmail! This is nothing new in actuality.

The Guardian reports:

Eight victims have contacted West Midlands police in recent months after being instructed to pay thousands of pounds into offshore bank accounts. Officers say the blackmailers lured men into online video sex chats and then sent screengrabs to them along with demands for cash. One man faced a demand for $5,000 (£3,000) from offenders who threatened to email images to his girlfriend and his daughter. The offenders usually target their victims on social media sites such as Facebook and through conversations on Skype or FaceTime. Detective constable Stefan Ashton, of West Midlands police, said: “Since January we’ve seen a rise in the number of these offences in the West Midlands, with victims in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Dudley, Walsall and Coventry. “In most of the cases, the videos have not actually been distributed, but it’s nevertheless been an absolutely horrendous ordeal for the people involved, who are understandably very worried about the consequences of such images and videos being posted online. “The damage in the cases where the footage was shared with the victims’ Facebook friends cannot be underestimated – they are clearly devastated. The blackmailers are calculated and malicious and have complete disregard for the people they’re exploiting.”

As we all know about ex-lovers releasing videos and images for revenge or money. Some very famous people have suffered this indignity when their ‘home videos’ were released to the net. But this has now moved up a gear. Now there are what are in effect call centers, baiting gullible men (and women) via social networks for the sole aim of extortion. You have been warned!

 

And finally!

 

Google News pulls out of Spain and calls their bluff!

This was quite brilliant really. To cut a long story short the spanish news press wanted money from Google for reprinting excerpts on their ‘Google News’ service in Spain. Google offer this service for free and do not make any money from it. It is probably like this site in that Fair Use and stating sources is perfectly legal. However, this was not good enough for the Spanish so Google simply said, “Adios!” Now they are likley to regret this as it sent a lot of traffic to their news websites – now that tap was shut off.

BusinessTech put it like this:

“In a statement, the search giant said the new law makes the Google News service unsustainable and that it will remove Spanish publishers from Google News sites worldwide and shut down this service in Spain on 16 December. The move also means readers in Latin America and around the globe will no longer find links to articles from any Spanish news publishers on Google News. The change to the copyright law, which is set to take effect in January, only applies to news aggregation sites such as Google News or domestic rival Meneame. It does not prevent Google users in Spain or elsewhere from reading snippets of the same stories when they look up news in Google search results, where Google stands to capitalise by selling ads alongside news stories that turn up. “The new law requires publishers to charge Google News for showing even the smallest snippets of their content — whether they want to charge or not,” the company said. Google News displays no advertising and makes no revenue from the service, it noted. Google’s action caps a decade of acrimony with news publishers who blame the search giant for revenue and readership declines. The company maintains that it sends millions of clicks that allow news sites to make money via online advertising.”

When you are as big as Google, the only damage you do is to yourself when you behave in such a petulant way Spain. You lose!

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