Top News for January 23, 2014

NSA

Here are today's top stories from Tech News Today for January 23, 2014:

  1. The NSA’s collection of Americans’ phone records is illegal. At least that’s the conclusion of a 238-page report issued today by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. They said even section Section 215 of the Patriot Act doesn’t allow what the NSA is doing. Read more at washingtonpost.com.

  2. When it comes to accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment, the big question on everyone's minds is, WHAT WILL GOOGLE DO? At least that's what Jarar Malik, a Bitcoin early adopter, asked several major tech companies, including Google. Malik says he was told by Google Senior VP of Ads and Commerce, Sridhar RaMAS-wamy, that Google is indeed thinking about how it can use Bitcoin. A Google Wallet executive then ask Malik to serve as a moderator on a Google survey posing the question “What would I want to do with Bitcoin?” Apple doesn’t even allow Bitcoin clients in its iOS app store, but Google does in the Google Play Store... so you can thank the search giant for helping the crypto-currency movement gain credibility. Read more at reddit.com.

  3. Apple may choose ads for you based on your mood. A new patent published today reveals Apple’s invention for figuring out what kind of mood you’re in, then serving up ads accordingly. One truly fascinating fact about the patent is that mood is determined in part by heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline level, perspiration, body temperature. Apple has recently been hiring scientists and specialists in the medical sensor field. The patent also checks your mood through the camera and facial expression recognition software. Read more at appleinsider.com.

  4. All hail Clippy, he's back! Sort of. Microsoft has added a "tell me what you want to do" field in the top toolbar of its Office Web Apps. Type in what you want to do, and the feature will either tell you how to do it, or actually do it for you, depending on which option you select. Microsoft announced other new features, too. Read more at cnet.com.

  5. A startup called Fitmob launched today. The company lets you use their smartphone app to join fitness classes with names like “Twerkout Conditioning” and “Weapons of Ass Reduction” The classes don’t involve gyms or weights, and they’re cheap: Just $5 per class if you attend three per week. But if you’re lazy or busy and attend only one, the cost is $15 -- so there’s an incentive to work out often. Right now, the startup has only five personal trainers, and exists only in San Francisco. But the company just received $9.75M in Series A funding spread the concept across the US and eventually, the world. Read more at techcrunch.com.

  6. Allergies are no fun. But help is on the way from Japan’s Thanko, which developed this ridiculous hazmat hood called the USB Pollen Blocker. Wait, USB? That’s right! As with so many goofy Thanko products, The nylon hood’s filtered air-intake fan is powered when you plug it into your PC’s USB port. Pollen relief will cost you $38. Read more at rocketnews24.com.

For insight, analysis, and discussion of these topics and more, check out Tech News Today for January 23, 2014.