Here we go again: Last week, the Federal Communications Commission announced its latest stab at finding constitutional rules for governing the Internet. Critics called the new proposal a “two-tier” system with high-speed fast lanes for those who can pay and slower connections for those who can’t — all decidedly problematic for the concept of net neutrality. In a rebuttal to detractors, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler posted a defense on the FCC’s website. Mr. Wheeler is scheduled to testify in front of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications this month.
The proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal continues to draw its own detractors. Univision exec Randy Falco said the merger of the two cable companies could be “bad for Hispanic audiences” and was a “cause for concern.” Comcast owns NBC Universal, which owns Telemundo, the second-biggest Spanish-language TV network after Univision. Comcast quickly released a statement denying any bad things will happen. As part of its preparations for acquiring Time Warner Cable, Comcast announced a deal with Charter Communications this week too. (The Comcast corporate communications department must be awfully tired these days. )
Netflix announced that it has struck a speed deal with Verizon Communications, not unlike its agreement with You Know Who. By getting direct access to Verizon’s network for a fee, Netflix streams should improve for those customers.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s phone business is now complete. The new division is now called Microsoft Mobile, but future devices will likely get a new brand that is called neither Microsoft Mobile nor Nokia. In other Microsoft news, the company just upped its online storage allotment for its OneDrive for Business customers from 25 gigabytes to 1 terabyte. There is currently a standalone version of OneDrive for Business is available as a $5-per-month option with the Office Online Web-based productivity suite.
In hardware news, Apple has upgraded the processor in its lightweight-but-don’t-call-it-a-netbook laptops in the MacBook Air line and knocks $100 off the starting price tags.
Now for the Security portion of this blog post. Microsoft has confirmed a rather gaping vulnerability in all versions of its Internet Explorer browser. The security research firm FireEye found this latest zero-day exploit, which it said could be used with Adobe Flash files to execute remote code. As a result of all this, government computer security teams in the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden have advised users to stop using IE and switch to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox until Microsoft addresses the issue.
The Apple Developer site recently had its own massive security issue that made the personal information of its members accessible. A white-hat found the issue and contacted the 9to5Mac.com site, which out up an in-depth post on the exploit after Apple filled in that security pothole. That is the correct sequence of events, folks.
One final note of security concern: Wired has a story about how the Heartbleed bug affects the Internet of Things and it’s worth a read if you’re into that Big Picture sort of view.
In an announcement to its investors this week, Yahoo announced its plans for a couple original long-form video programs, plus two new shows with Katie Couric and a new Live Nation channel for streaming concerts. As it did with the technology part of its site, Yahoo has also launched a digital magazine-style version of Yahoo Travel.
AT&T said it plans to launch a high-speed 4G LTE-based in-flight connectivity service for airline passengers for fast broadband in the air. AT&T said its new network could be available as soon as late next year. Hopefully, it will feel faster than dial-up on those long flights. The stock for Gogo, the current big player in inflight Internet, dropped 18 percent after AT&T made its announcement.
The executive behind Google+ is leaving the company, which has at least one tech blog setting the egg timer on Google’s often-forgotten social network. A representative for Google representative has denied the demise of Google+. In brighter news for the company, Google’s self-driving cars have now logged more that 700,00 miles on their own and according to a post on the official Google blog, the auto-autos are mastering the art of city driving, at least around Mountain View, California. A video on the blog shows a Google car navigating a variety of situations without mayhem.
News from the Land of Obsolete Technology: 60 Minutes found that that part of the computer system responsible for controlling the launch of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles depends on data loaded from 8-inch floppy disks, which most likely makes the storage media older than some of the Air Force personnel working down in the silos. Air Force officials said the system is extremely safe and secure but some upgrades and budget request are on the way.
The Legend of the Landfill turned out to be true. Video archeologists digging in the New Mexico desert found a large festering pile of Atari’s old E.T. cartridge game, just as it had been whispered about for more than 30 years. The dig was part of a documentary called Atari: Game Over, that will be released through the Microsoft’s Xbox console later this year.
And finally, the cast of “Star Wars, “Episode VII” was officially announced this week. The movie opens galaxywide on December 18, 2015. Until then — and as always this time of year — May the Fourth be with you.