News Fuse for October 31, 2013

NSA

Here are today's top 10 stories from Tech News Today for October 31, 2013:

  1. The Washington Post reported another Edward Snowden leak yesterday, describing project MUSCULAR, a joint operation of the US's NSA and UK's GCHQ. The project allegedly taps fiber optic cable's between data centers for Google and Yahoo. If ture, this would allow the spies to see almost all data used by the two services, as they sync data centers across four continents. It also has the advantage of being outside the US, therefore not subject to laws prohibiting domestic surveillance. Meanwhile if you were wondering what Snowden's doing for Vodka money in Russia these days, his lawyer announced he starts work in November for a major Russian website that remains unnamed. Somebody will leak it though I'm sure. Read more at washingtonpost.com.

  2. IDC reports that the iPad is the #1 tablet in the world, but its market share is now 29.6% in Q3 of this year. In Q3 of 2012, Apple had a whopping 40.2%. Samsung is still #2 with 20.4% of the world's stage. Rounding out the top three is the Transformer-loving Asus with 7.4%. Read more at thenextweb.com.

  3. AT&T's efforts to gain more marketshare Europe by acquiring local telecoms could be affected by recent leaks of NSA surveillance data, European officials tell The Wall Street Journal. AT&T is implicated along with Sprint and Verizon in the government's data collection: the FISA Amendments Act allows the NSA to request all phone metadata records from the companies. "We'd need to have a concrete discussion to make sure that European data wouldn't be leaving Europe," one official tells the Journal. Read more at theverge.com.

  4. Pandora is now available on Google's Chromecast dongle. An update to Pandora's Android and iOS mobile apps will now include a "Cast" button, which will allow for one-touch streaming to the TV. Pandora users can stream to Chromecast from Android smartphones and tablets as well as iPhones, but not yet iPads. The company says iPad support is coming soon. Read more at theverge.com.

  5. The US FAA announced today it will allow use of portable electronic devices during takeoff and landing, as long as they are in airplane mode. Airlines have to submit a plan to comply with the new regulations, so don't expect to be able to do this right away, but the FAA expects most implementations to be in place by the end of the year. There are also a few models of airplanes not proved to be tolerant of devices and in low visibility conditions you may be asked to turn off your device. Delta hopes to have its plan in place and ready by November 1. Read more at techcrunch.com.

  6. Facebook reported its quarterly financials and 49% of its advertising revenue came from mobile usage; that's an increase of 8% from the last quarter. Facebook's total advertising revenue was $1.8 billion. Facebook’s desktop advertising revenue fell $26 million from the second to third quarter. Looks like that little social network is going to make it. Read more at techcrunch.com.

  7. Steam's active accounts rose 30% over the last year to 65 million according to Valve. One contributing factor is Valve's most popular game DOTA 2 with more than 500,000 daily peak concurrent players. In comparison, Xbox Live has reported 48 million accounts while Sony's PlayStation Network claims 110 million. Read more at theverge.com.

  8. Sprint has introduced Sprint Spark, an enhanced LTE service it says will deliver "unprecedented speeds" to its cellphone users. The company demoed the service running at 1Gbps, but the company says customers can expect "50-60 Megabits per second (Mbps) peak speeds today with increasing speed potential over time." The first Spark-supported phones, Samsung's Galaxy Mega and Galaxy S 4 mini and LG's G2, will be available on Sprint's network on November 8th. Read more at engadget.com.

  9. Cisco announced Wednesday it is open-sourcing its H.264 video codec implementation and released a plugin that allows third-party developers to use H.264 without paying any licensing costs. GigaOm reports Mozilla will add H.264 to the Firefox browser in the first half of 2014. The Internet Engineering Task Force is meeting in Vancouver next week to decide on a default codec for WebRTC, the standard that allows video communication over the Internet without special software. Google has been pushing it's VP8 codec for the standard. Cisco has invested a lot of money in software and hardware that relies on H.264 and would like it to last until H.265, VP9 or Daala take over, which is many years down the road. Read more at gigaom.com.

  10. Remember that wacky Hyperloop rail system that Elon Musk proposed? Well according to a new company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a prototype of the Hyperloop will be ready by 2015. The company published a two year timeline of the project. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies also announced partnerships with a number of companies including Ansys, which created some of the first software simulations of the Hyperloop. Read more at nbcnews.com.

For insight, analysis, and discussion of these topics and more, check out Tech News Today for October 31, 2013.