PTJ 122 News: Hyper Holidays

Will the drama of the Sony Pictures, North Korea and a certain Massive Network Hack every end? After announcing last week it was canceling the theatrical release of The Interview, Sony said on Tuesday that it was making the picture available to theaters who wanted to start showing it on the original Christmas Day release date. That was Tuesday. On Monday of this week, Internet access to, from and within North Korea, went dark for about nine hours in a complete network failure and was still unstable at least a day later.

opBack in the USA, Sony is still trying to get itself back together. At least one Sony employee has spoken to the press about what it was like to work in a place that suffered a catastrophic breach (hint: not fun) and in a sternly worded letter, the company has threatened to sue Twitter unless it removes the accounts of people who’ve been shared data leaked from the hack. The beleaguered entertainment company has also said to be working with crisis manager Judy Smith, a consultant and inspiration for the Olivia Pope character on the ABC drama Scandal.  It’s apparently that bad.

It’s been a bad year for corporate IT departments.  A report in The New York Times this week says the massive hack of JPMorgan bank earlier this year might have been blocked if one server on the company’s very large network had been upgraded to handle two-factor authentication.  Hackers were reportedly able to get into the network after swiping the login credentials from a bank employee.

mac updateMeanwhile, Apple isn’t leaving it to sysadmins or mere users to update their Macs. While the company usually pushes out its patches and pesters with popups to install them, an update to fix a vulnerability in the system’s network time protocol was delivered over the Internet and automatically installed. (In other Apple news, the company has recently added a Tumblr blog and an Instagram account for iTunes.)

If you use Facebook, you’ve probably gotten a message from the site about the yet-again revamped privacy policy that goes into effect in January 2015. In a nutshell, the letter describes a new tool called Privacy Basics and some other modifications to the policy.

failThe proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable has been given a time out. The Federal Communications Commission paused its regulatory review of the $45 billion dollar deal this week when it discovered that thousands of requested documents from Time Warner were improperly withheld from the agency and another 31,000 did not get submitted properly due to “vendor error.” The FCC sent a letter to Time Warner, Comcast and Charter Communications saying it was going to “stop its informal 180-day transaction clock until January 12, 2015.”

lyricsMany of us have looked up song lyrics on the web for various reasons, but if you use Google for the search, you just may get those lyrics back at the top of your results page in that Knowledge Graph area. Not every song-lyrics search out there returns Google’s own results, but for those that do, you also get a link to the Google Play store for the full set and a link to buy the corresponding song. Google’s intentions may be a bit transparent there, but not as crystal-clear as the latest version of its own Transparency Report that tracks government requests for information. In a post on the Google Public Policy Blog, legal director Trevor Callaghan reports that from June to December 2013, Google received 3,105 government requests to remove 14,637 pieces of content.

The Hyperloop, the Elon Musk futuristic mass-transit project we talked about on the show last year could be moving farther from fantasy and closer to fact. JumpStartFund, the project’s developers have released a 76-page white paper detailing the current state of the system. The project’s managers are also thinking that the Hyperloop could be a reality within 10 years. Buckle up.

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Roberto Orci is not going to be sitting in the director’s chair for Star Trek 3, but Deadline.com and a few other Hollywood publications are reporting that Jason Lin — known for his work on the Fast & Furious franchise — will be taking over on the third film. It’s due out in July 2016, just in time for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek‘s first broadcast in September 1966.

NASA’s Orion space capsule is home for the holidays. After its post-orbit splashdown in the Pacific on December 5th, the capsule took a week-long cross-country roadtrip back to Cape Canaveral, arriving on December 18th. Scientists are digging into the data collected during its trip around the Earth, and NASA has released images and video taken by the Orion capsule as it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere.

The VentureBeat site claims Amazon is working on an update for its epic fail of a smartphone. No comment from Amazon, but the Fire Phone 2 is rumored for 2016. The six people who bought the original Fire Phone will probably be due for an upgrade by then.

810And finally, even though that hotly anticipated Fire Phone 2 may not be out next year, Mashable as a story on five smartphone innovations that are coming out in 2015. The predictions are based on the arrival of Qualcomm’s powerful new Snapdragon 810 processor and what it can do for the smartphone experience. If the predictions hold up, we’ll be using these powerful new phones as PCs and gaming consoles when we’re not enjoying their superior video and audio capabilities. It’s something to look forward to in the new year, along of course, with the return of Orphan Black on BBC America in April and Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December.

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