New year, new job for Satya Nadella. Microsoft announced this week that he’ll be its new chief executive officer, only the third CEO in the company’s history. His official bio on the Microsoft site says his hobbies are cricket and poetry. Meanwhile, a version of the company’s Windows 8.1 Update 1 software has escaped into the wild and has made its way onto various file-sharing sites around the Internet.
Microsoft is among the tech companies releasing more information about US government requests for customer data. Google, along with Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn all released reports this week. While the reports are a bit vague and don’t do into details about how much of a customer’s data has been collected or what exactly was snagged, the disclosures come after the Obama administration relaxed regulations enough so the tech giants could give their users some idea of what was going on.
Google has been doing some updates of its own. If you’re using the Google Now service on a mobile device, as well as with the Chrome beta browser on your Mac, Windows or Chromebook system, you can see your notifications appear on the computer. An update to Google Maps for iOS now includes a new feature that tells you when there’s a faster route available when you’re cruising along in Navigation mode. Android users have had this perk for a month already. The Goog also released a new Google Cast software development kit for its Chromecast streaming media stick that lets developers beam and stream their apps to the big screen. (And John Nack, a longtime Adobe product manager, blogger and Photoshop evangelist has jumped ship after 13 years and is joining Google’s digital photography group.)
In the hardware headlines, Microsoft’s Kinect motion-controller is being used to monitor the DMZ, or demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea. The controller works with special software to scan the area and identify anything that crosses into the DMZ. The program can tell the difference between animals and people and if a human is detected, an alert is sent to the nearest outpost. (Talk about an always-on system…)
For those who like to travel off the beaten path, Iridium says it’s not got a pocket-sized WiFi hotspot that can get you on the Internet all over the world with a satellite connection. The Iridium Go is due in the second quarter of this year, probably for less than $800 and will have its own Android and iOS apps. Expect raging speeds of about 20 kilobits per second and prepaid fees of about a buck a minute, but hey — you’re online in places you wouldn’t be otherwise. In other WiFi news, there’s a lawsuit brewing against Gogo, the in-flight Internet provider, brought on by people accuse the company of holding a monopoly over the sky-surfing business.
But wait, there’s more legal news! The Senate had some questions for Target CEO John Mulligan this week about that major data-security breach late last year that resulted in the theft of at least 40 million credit-card numbers. Several security experts were also on hand for the session. Mulligan also said this week that Target plans to overhaul its own credit-card system and move to the smart chip-and-PIN system by early next year.
Democrats in the US Senate and House of Representatives introduced their own net neutrality bill early this week in hopes of reinstating the FCC’s recently struck-down Open Internet rules until the agency can come up with newer better regulations. The bill, H.R. 3982, is also known as The Open Internet Preservation Act of 2014.
And finally, Apple continues to note the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer with a celebratory movie shot by 15 camera crews using 100 iPhones. Want a more personalized cinematic experience? Facebook is ringing in its first decade by giving its users Look Back, a tool that creates a personalized greatest-hits video for each user from photos and other information from their timelines on the site. Here’s hoping you’ve aged better than the Macintosh 128K.