Top News for January 29, 2014

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Here are today's top stories from Tech News Today for January 29, 2014:

  1. President Obama called for patent reform in his state of the union speech last night. Congress is currently haggling over the details of the Innovation Act, which is supposed to end some types of patent trolling. Read more at washingtonpost.com.

  2. Google's 3-year antitrust probe brought on by European regulators may finally be over soon. The company had been accused of favoring its own products in its search results over its competitors. Now, Reuters sources say Google offered big concessions to the European Commission to settle once and for all. Previously, the commission threatened Google with handing over 10% of its 2012 revenue, which could have been about five billion dollars. Read more at reuters.com.

  3. And suddenly, cars are becoming iBeacons. A cool, one-hundred dollar gadget called the Automatic smart driving assistant. You can buy it on the Apple online store and other places. It works with both iPhones and Android phones. Once you plug it into a car’s data port, you can use the smartphone app to monitor car performance through Bluetooth. It also remembers where you parked the car and performs other small jobs. iBeacon, of course, is Apple’s new wireless location system. The Automatic iBeacon update turns existing Automatic gadgets -- turns whole cars, really -- into iBeacons. Read more at automatic.com.

  4. Do you use Gmail? If so, Google wants YOU to go check your spam folder. The company included it in an apology notice about a glitch that occurred last week, which the company said is now definitely, positively, for sure fixed, but here's what happened - an error happened January 15th and January 22nd not only deleted some messages entirely, but routed others into the spam folder. In some cases, it seems normal deleting and spam-filtering were applied to the wrong incoming messages. Google hasn't revealed how many users were affected, but you certainly don't want to miss your big payout from that Nigerian prince. Read more at theverge.com.

  5. We talk a lot about NSA snooping, Chinese industrial espionage and Google tracking for the purpose of serving up relevant ads. But another issue is the casual harvesting of personal data by just about everyone. Free flashlight mobile apps collect location data -- that sort of thing. Now, The Register reporter Richard Chirgwin was shopping on IKEA’s online store and using their Kitchen Planning tool and noticed an amazing notice flagged by Google’s Chrome browser. It informed him that IKEA’s app can quote: access all data on your computer and the websites you visit unquote. Firefox didn’t display the notice when he tried the tool in that browser. Read more at theregister.co.uk.

  6. Mixology is an art form few of us have time to master. But don’t worry. Help is on the way. The company that makes Absolut vodka and Chivas whiskey is developing a smartphone-controlled cocktail mixer. It’s called The Gutenberg Project because the computer-controlled booze dispensers are shaped like books, and go together like they’re in a library. To make a drink, you simply choose the mixed drink of your choice from the Gutenberg app, which guides you through other ingredients and garnishes. When the containers run low, they prompt you to re-order them through the app for home delivery. Getting hammered has never been easier. Read more at businessinsider.com.

For insight, analysis, and discussion of these topics and more, check out Tech News Today for January 29, 2014.