PTJ 119 News: Feminist Hacker Barbie Needs That Wireless Spectrum For Her Robot Army

The Federal Communications Commission is certainly keeping itself  busy when it’s not mulling Net Neutrality. The agency reached an agreement with T-Mobile on Monday that makes Big Pink accurately show consumers when their connections are being throttled. The FCC’s first wireless spectrum auction since 2008 has some ready customers. The auction has already generated $30 billion, which is about three times more than anticipated.

And yes, there’s still no decision on net neutrality at the moment, but Chairman Tom Wheeler is already facing reality. “Look, the big dogs are going to sue, regardless of what comes out,” said Mr. Wheeler. “We need to make sure we have sustainable rules. That starts with making sure we have addressed the multiplicity of issues that come along and are likely to be raised.” (Just think of it as CYA for the FCC here in the USA.)

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Federal Aviation Administration is preparing a set of new rules for commercial drones that could give them their corner of the sky at last. More worrisome at the moment, however, are those increasing reports of non-commercial drones flying too close to airplanes and helicopters, so expect that issue to get addressed before too long.

robotK5We’ve got robot butlers and vacuum cleaners and now Microsoft is testing out robot security guards in its Silicon Valley campus. The Knightscope K5 autonomous robots will be on the market next year, are equipped with thermal imaging, chemical sensors, license-plate and facial-recognition software. It can patrol a perimeter much like a human security guard. The K5s are about five-feet tall and look a little bit like while plastic Daleks, so really, what could go wrong?

Meanwhile, the European Union is expected to vote this week to break up Google’s business. Also in business news: Aereo has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Samsung is reportedly considering changes to its executive leadership team after sales of its Galaxy S5 smartphone fell short of expectations by 40 percent.

If you visit Apple’s online store within the next week or so, you’ll be seeing red. No, not over the premium prices, but (RED), the world organization to fight AIDS in Africa. Over the next two weeks, Apple will be donating the proceeds from certain products to the global fund. On Monday, World AIDS Day, the company will donate a portion of every item sold.

applered

The antivirus company Symantec was the first to discover a lurking piece of malware called Regin that’s a suspect in sophisticated cyber attacks against the European Union and a Belgian telecom company for the past several years. Agencies from United States and the United Kingdom are the main suspects behind Regin, according to some security experts.

The computer networks at Sony Pictures were reportedly hacked and rendered so unusable that employees were warned not to connect to the company’s corporate network or to check their work email. The group Guardians of Peace is claiming responsibility, saying it will leak confidential documents unless its undisclosed demands are met.

If you need to kill some time this long holiday weekend, check out the new Pew Research Internet Project study called What Internet Users Know About Technology and the Web and take a quiz that tests your Web IQ. Go on, you know you love those online quizzes.

babsA book published in 2010 called Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer recently caught the eye of author and screenwriter Pamela Ribon. However, the book’s plot turned out to be so demeaning to not only women in technology — but women in general — that it quickly became a viral virtual skeet target. Ms. Ribon kicked things off with a post on her own blog called “Barbie [Bad Word] It Up Again” and the story revved up. Mattel yanked the title and even issued an apology on Facebook saying the book was four years old and didn’t reflect the Barbie brand’s vision.

But then something great happened. Casey Fiesler, a PhD student in Human-Centered Computing at Georgia Tech, (who also happens to be writing her dissertation on copyright and online remix communities), rewrote the book with a positive, empowering message and posted her version online. Kathleen Tuite, a computer science PhD student at the University of Washington, stepped it up and and built the Feminist Hacker Barbie, a text editor that allows people to add in their own delightfully profane new captions for the illustrations in the original book and post them online under the hashtag #FeministHackerBarbie. As Ms. Fiesler noted, a major theme of the remix community is “If you don’t like the narrative, change it!” And that’s exactly what they did.

forceAnd finally, StarWars.com has confirmed that 30 theaters around the country will be showing an 88-second teaser trailer of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens starting this Friday, November 28th. This is not the first time word of a way-advance trailer has been announced, as Star Wars fans also lined up to see a trailer for The Phantom Menace back in November 1998. Don’t fret if you can’t get to the movies this weekend or don’t live in a trailer-worthy city, as the teaser will go wide and hit theaters everywhere in December. And how much you wanna bet that thing will be online somewhere by lunchtime Friday?

(UPDATE: It was. And the fans have already begun to dissect it.)

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