Episode 24 News: Cautionary Tales

Who’d have thought Gmail drafts and online privacy would be tangled up in the current US military sex scandal that’s rolling through the news cycle like that big boulder bearing down on Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark? For anyone who still thinks Webmail accounts are a good cover for anonymous online activities, InformationWeek’s “Petraeus Fallout: 5 Gmail Security Facts” is worth a read. The Google Transparency Report, which counts user data requests from courts and government agencies, also adds perspective.

Speaking of courts, a judge in the United Kingdom has found Apple’s apology to Samsung less than sincere and ordered the Cupertino crowd to cough up some bucks for bad behavior. Also shaking things up on the Apple campus: Scott Forstall, who handled the iOS platform over at Apple, is parting ways with the company early next year.

Microsoft has its own personnel changes — Windows and Windows Live president Steve Sinofsky is leaving the company, an announcement made in the same week as the modest sales (so far) of the company’s new Surface tablets and Windows 8 system. Although Apple’s Mountain Lion is clawing
Windows 8
in the upgrade race, some executives still think Windows tablets will eventually outpace Android devices, as the flat system of choice for businessfolk — once they get some apps, that is.

Tablets still continue to be the object of affection for many people, including Linux lovers who have successfully gotten Ubuntu Linux up and running on the Google Nexus 7 tablet. Development is still early, but signs point to the Ubuntu desktop software making a concentrated the jump to mobile devices over the next few years. Ubuntu has appeared on other devices before, including Android smartphones with multi-core processors and a Samsung Chromebook. A TV set-top box version is also in the works. For those keeping track of the animal code names, the next version of the often-updated Ubuntu system, version 13.04, has been dubbed Raring Ringtail.

Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone sold out in less than an hour after it went on sale across the pond — a bit of good news for a company that may be facing a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission for stacking the search-results deck with its own services. (But YouTube is cleaning things up: the the site is weeding out about 60 percent of its channels from last year.)

For those still firmly gripping their BlackBerry phones in hand amidst the onslaught of Android phones, iPhones and Windows Phone handsets, the future is on the way. Research in Motion is planning a January 30th, 2013, launch event for its BlackBerry 10 operating system.

While the BlackBerry platform has gotten shoved aside by those other phones in recent years, many people still hang on to it for the BlackBerry Messenger service, which, like Apple’s iMessage system, has taken a big bite out of text-message volume over the wireless carrier networks. In fact, a new report shows that old-school SMS text messaging in the U.S. is in decline for the first time. But no matter how you direct your text traffic, be sure to do it safely and not in traffic. As a TV sage use to say, “Let’s be careful out there.” Same goes for using Webmail, making apologies and unlocking the bootloader on your Nexus 7 so you can Penguinize your Google tablet.

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