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alcatel-pixi

Alcatel wants to get involved in every mobile platform, including Palm OS if reports are true. Today, the French mobile provider announced the Alcatel Pixi, capable of running Android, Windows Phone or Firefox OS.

Similar to most Alcatel smartphones, various models are available: 3.5-inch 3G-only model and 4-inch, 4.5-inch and 5-inch 4G-models. All four are capable of running all three platforms, despite rather underwhelming internals.

Android, Windows Phone and Firefox OS are the three main open mobile platforms for Alcatel to work on, even though Android is the obvious first choice for most users, followed rather far behind by Windows Phone. Firefox OS has not even surpassed the 1 percent mark yet, putting it in the realm of Symbian and BlackBerry.

Offering the same device to users with three different operating systems gives more choice, for users who prefer Windows Phone or Firefox OS.

The only difference on the external between the three models is the hardware buttons—on Firefox OS there is a single button in the middle; on Android there is three Lollipop style buttons, and Windows Phone features the classic three button setup.

Alcatel Pixi will come in a variety of colors, including red, green, black, silver, yellow, blue and pink. It is not clear the price for each model, and whether Alcatel will add an extra price for one platform.

It looks like Alcatel will add its own skin to the Android version, but Windows Phone and Firefox OS will both remain stock, since manufacturers cannot customize the design of the platform.

Alcatel is one of the upcoming giants in the mobile industry, alongside Xiaomi, Micromax, Vivo and Oppo. The difference is Alcatel has a few decades of networking experience behind them, and a few billion dollars to push its own products.

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fred-wilson

Social media has been a prominent feature of the internet over the past decade, as more startups and companies try to crack the perfect way to connect with friends, family and random strangers.

Facebook and Twitter appear to be nearest to optimal for large scale social networking, while apps like Instagram,YouTube, Foursquare, and Pinterest offer niche social experiences in photos, videos, location and media.

According to prominent internet investor Fred Wilson, “the social media phase of the Internet ended” in 2014, and it is now the time of messaging. Wilson claims social media ended a few years ago, but in 2014 it was even more prominent.

The acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook for $19 billion accelerated the rate of growth in the messaging market, alongside the major growth of apps like WeChat, Facebook Messenger, LINE and Snapchat.

There is another change happening in the technology world: the amount of user information people and organizations hold. Services like Snapchat, Yik Yak and Facebook’s new service Rooms all work by allowing anonymity.

Several other trends are bound to take the internet by storm in the next few years, according to Wilson the “rental economy” will continue to grow, with services like Uber and Airbnb leading the charge in this field.

File names also disappeared with the growth on Dropbox, Spotify, Netflix and Kindle, removing the need to download and move storage around in a computer. This is questionable, considering anyone on PC still has to live with file names for games and applications.

Outside of the internet, Wilson cites the duopoly on mobile as a stable entity, which will most likely not change in the next few years. Google needs to work on making sure its own vision of Android is realized in China, especially by Xiaomi who is fast becoming the most important mobile company.

The changes in 2014 from Wilson are less about 2014 and more about the changes in tech over the course of five years, just starting to show in 2014.

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comcast

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is focusing a large effort in sorting through comments and documents related to Comcast and Time Warner Cable, to make sure the impending merger is in the public interest and will not be a deterrent to innovation in the broadband market.

A new report from MarketWatch might shed some light into the current situation, when it comes to customer satisfaction. Comcast and Time Warner Cable ranked worst in customer satisfaction, in a long list of U.S. corporations.

Time Warner Cable’s internet service was ranked the first, followed by its TV service, then Comcast’s own internet service. It paints a rather dismal picture of both companies.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) also ranks Comcast and Time Warner Cable at the bottom of customer satisfaction, showing it is not one poll rating the companies poorly, but the whole of the American standards agency.

Comcast has always been ranked very poorly on customer satisfaction, recently acquiring a VP for customer satisfaction to try and fix some of the issues. It does not look to have worked, given the continuation of many anti-consumer Comcast support ethics.

Time Warner Cable seems to be even worse than Comcast however, failing on multiple levels to provide adequate service or support to the customer. It is bizarre that the company continues to maintain high amounts of customers, considering some users are pleading for municipal or Google Fiber services to arrive.

It is unclear how much the FCC sources material from customer satisfaction polls, the commission most likely already knows the poor reputation both companies have with customers.

However, the FCC may see these polls as grounds for not accepting the merger, especially since Comcast is essentially buying a worse branch of itself. Comcast has argued that improvements will be made once the merger happens, but the public is not buying the sales pitch.

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China’s Great Firewall Blocks Gmail

google-china

China has finally muted Gmail, after fighting with Google’s web service for six months. Disruptions started in June this year, forcing Gmail users in China to access the email service through protocols.

Microsoft Outlook and Apple’s Mail portals have been the only way for Chinese users to utilize Gmail in the past six months, but on Friday all traffic to Gmail from China went silent, showing a complete shut-down.

It has not been confirmed if Google pulled Gmail out of China, or if the Chinese government decided to block the last bit of traffic. The China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the Chinese government has not censored Gmail, and will continue to work with any foreign business.

Considering the Chinese government continues to deny the ‘Great Firewall’ between China and the rest of the world, it is no wonder the Foreign Ministry has not announced anything to do with Gmail.

Google has always had a conflicted relationship with the Chinese government, dropping the search engine in 2011. Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin is not a fan of the censorship, and is said to be a big part of why Google does not do business in China.

Still, some Google services remain in China, mostly those that cannot be censored by the Chinese government.

The Chinese government has been even more forceful against U.S. internet companies in the past year, making sure all laws are followed online, by companies inside and outside of Mainland China.

Even though Google shows no signs of working with the Chinese government, Facebook is trying to court the government to allow the social network back into the country. Facebook could potentially grab 800 million users in China, if it manages to return to the country.

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Lizard Squad Ruins Christmas For PSN and Xbox Live Gamers

lizard-squad

Lizard Squad is back ruining the fun for gamers, this time taking down the PlayStation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live (XBL) on Christmas Day, ruining new gifts for millions of gamers.

The attack effected all PSN and XBL users, potentially hitting over 100 million users on all Xbox and PlayStation platforms. Lizard Squad managed a dual attack on the platforms, shutting them both offline on Christmas Day.

Microsoft managed to get its XBL service back online in under a day, but Sony took over three times as long to fix the issue. Complaints were rampant on Christmas Day, as Sony’s lackluster support tried to calm the storm.

Lizard Squad used heavy DDoS tactics to shut down PSN and XBL, similar to its other attacks. In an interview, one Lizard Squad member claims the attack is not hard to achieve, and speaks more to the lack of security paid for by Microsoft and Sony.

Hopefully, Lizard Squad will remain quiet now it has taken down both platforms, especially with the increased hostility from other hacking collectives. The attack on gamers has irked Anonymous, a large hacking collective capable of shutting down government sites.

Sony has faced two major attacks in the past month, although the Lizard Squad attack is the least worrisome of the two. The other attack, focused on Sony Pictures, managed to steal 100TB of data—now available on the internet.

It is unclear what Sony is doing wrong in the cyber security field, but it continues to be a large target for hackers. In 2011, LulzSec managed to break into PSN and steal 100 million usernames and passwords, uploading them onto the internet.

Sony may be the focus of a U.S. investigation into the recent hacking scandals, and could be hit with severe penalties for lack of cyber security, hurting its own employees and customers.

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the-interview

North Korea’s involvement in the Sony Pictures attack is still up for debate, even if U.S. officials have already revealed North Korea to be the prime attacker candidate.

Security experts still do not see a strong connection between North Korea and the hacking group #GOP. In an interview with The GuardianCaroline Baylon—a research associate in cyber security at Chatham House—claims North Korea is probably not behind the attack.

Baylon debunks most of the “evidence” connecting North Korea to the Sony Pictures hack.

The attack code used in the hack looks similar to South Korean hacks last year—which North Korea is blamed for—but as Baylon mentions attack code is bought and sold regularly.

The implementation of the attack code used on Sony Pictures has to come from an advanced organisation or a state-sponsored group. China, Russia and Iran have all shown the capability to use this attack code, but North Korea has not used it.

#GOP has uploaded the files en masse, damaging Sony Pictures reputation and exposing various secrets. It is not normal for a state-sponsored group to do this, and makes it even more likely ex-employees wanted to get back at Sony.

Considering in the first leak, the #GOP claimed to have worked with an internal ally to hack the system, it further removes North Korea from the conversation. It is highly unlikely North Korea and a Sony Pictures employee would be able to contact one another.

Still, North Korea is not known for its diligence when it comes to hacking and tends to be more forthright than other countries. If the #GOP shows anything, its that those behind the attack want to see complete change at Sony Pictures.

The Interview will be made available, after a week of protest over Sony Pictures and cinema owners dropping the movie.

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google-news

Google News has been removed from Spain, following the new licensing law on headlines in the country. The Spanish Newspaper Publishers Association (AEDE) wanted to receive payment for every news story aggregated, but Google didn’t agree.

It is not the first time old media has misunderstood Google News and tried to scrape even more revenue from the news aggregator, but similar to when this happened in Germany, Google moved out of the country until publishers asked them to return.

viewership-google-news

On the first day without Google News, publishers are seeing a 15 percent view drop in news stories nationwide. The same happened to Axel Springer in Germany, losing 40 percent of its viewers after pulling out of Google News.

It could get even worse for Spanish news organisations, since Google News is a good indexing tool for the search engine. Once new big stories start getting low search ranking, organisations might see over half of their reader-base gone.

At a time where advertising is pinnacle and the more eyes a news story gets, the better, it is rather odd for the Spanish publishing association to throw away the best traffic source. Google News does not make any revenue currently, making it a free-to-use property.

Analysts expect big dips in Spanish internet views over the next few months, and it will not stabilise as Google News is a consistent source of viewership. Unless the AEDE make some deal with Google, then publishers will most likely try to break the pact.

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Sony Pictures Hires Lawyer To Silence Press

sony_pictures_logo

Sony Pictures has hired lawyer David Boies, in an attempt to silence press reporting on the #GOP hack. For almost a month, Sony Pictures has been facing relentless leaks, on everything from new movies, to business contracts, to private emails.

The private emails look to be the worst part, mostly because executives cannot keep opinions of actors/actresses to themselves. Emails have slandered Michael Fassbender, Kevin Hart, Angelina Jolie and other actors on the payroll.

As investigative journalist dig up more material, more stories will be published. The question is, does Sony Pictures’ legal threat hold up in court?

The answer is no, even though it might force Sony to void any contracts with the news organization. Journalists are allowed to view stolen material, as long as they had no involvement in the theft. This has come up in a few court cases over the past 10 years, and all accounts have went the journalist’s way.

A few years ago, Gizmodo acquired an iPhone 4 before the official release, and posted a story online showing the prototype device. Apple did not win the court case, but they did blacklist Gizmodo from future Apple events.

Unfortunately, no outlet paid for the information on the Sony Pictures leak, it is being uploaded on the web by the #GOP group. Also, it is not one organisation who is the root cause of the leaks, thousands of blogs have wrote about Sony Pictures.

The message from David Boies did go out to The New York Times and other big media in the U.S., but not much will change and this already seems like a blanket warning, without any sort of legal power.

The #GOP has warned Sony Pictures it will release a “Christmas gift” with more information, taken from the internal systems. The group has also asked employees who do not want to be featured to send their business address and name.

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