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Today in Tech News Digest, the activities of the NSA are branded “illegal,” Microsoft posts record revenues, Apple celebrates the Mac turning 30, Hunter Moore is arrested, Facebook and Princeton argue over who will survive the longest, Twitter celebrates ‘A Year On Vine’, and the Top Gear test track is added to Google Street View.

NSA Phone Data Collection Branded “Illegal”

The program which saw the NSA (National Security Agency) collecting data from millions of phones worldwide NSA Tracking, Pony Passwords, Reversible USB, Santa Trackers [Tech News Digest] NSA Tracking, Pony Passwords, Reversible USB, Santa Trackers [Tech News Digest] NSA is tracking us all, Pony Botnet snags 2 million passwords, next-gen USB to be reversible, Beats Music launch date, Valve joins Linux Foundation, PopUp Archive launched, and two Santa trackers go into battle. Read More has been branded “illegal” by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The data collection was further described as having a “minimal” effect on counter-terrorism efforts.

The watchdog has compiled a lengthy 238-page report that was obtained by The New York Times. The recommendations contained within it go a lot further than those suggested by U.S. President Barack Obama. The main takeaway contained in the conclusion is that “the board recommends that the government end the program.” Which is pretty damning.

Microsoft Posts Record Revenues

Microsoft has posted record revenues of $24.5 billion for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2013. This is 14 percent more than the same quarter last year. The main reason for the record revenues was a strong performance in the Devices and Consumer segment, with both Xbox and Surface devices selling well. Yes, the Surface.

Say what you like about Microsoft, but the company still has more money coming in than it knows what to do with. Unfortunately it still doesn’t have a replacement for outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer Who Should Replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO? [We Ask You] Who Should Replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO? [We Ask You] Within the next 12 months Steve Ballmer is going to retire as CEO of Microsoft. Someone will have to try and fill Ballmer's sizeable shoes and stage presence, but who will be taking over? Read More .

Mac Turns 30

The Mac, or Apple Macintosh as it was once called, is 30 years old today (Jan. 24, 2014). Several websites are celebrating the anniversary by charting the history of the Mac, but the best read has to be Macworld’s enlightening interview with Apple execs Phil Schiller, Bud Tribble, and Craig Federighi.

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The interview closes with Schiller promising, “the Mac keeps going forever, because the differences it brings are really valuable.” And there we all were thinking the iPhone and iPad were killing computers.

Revenge Porn Baron Arrested

Hunter Moore, whose alleged ownership of a revenge porn website saw him branded “the most hated man on the Internet” has been arrested and indicted. According to TIME, Moore is accused of conspiracy to “access a protected computer without authorization to obtain information for private financial gain,” as well as other offenses.

For the uninitiated among you, revenge porn usually involves explicit images uploaded without the consent of the person involved. Hunter Moore was arrested on the same day as Canadian pop princess Justin Bieber. Which surely counts as a modern-day miracle powerful enough to turn even the most hardened atheist into a Belieber believer.

Facebook Vs. Princeton

Princeton and Facebook are currently embroiled in a lighthearted row packed full of laughs. Last week, Princeton researchers published a study [PDF link] which showed how Facebook would lose 80 percent of its users by 2017. It was widely reported amongst the tech press but was, ultimately, a load of baloney.

Facebook’s own data scientists have now published a study showing how, using the same methodology, Princeton will have no students left by 2021. Oh, and there will be no air left by 2060 either. Facebook and Princeton we can live without, but air is rather more important.

Twitter Celebrates ‘A Year On Vine’

Today (Jan. 24, 2014) marks the first birthday of Vine 10 Unique Vine Users You Should Totally Be Following 10 Unique Vine Users You Should Totally Be Following If you're still getting into the groove of the new social app by Twitter, check out some users you simply have to follow. Read More , Twitter’s video app for those with short attention spans. To mark the occasion Twitter has launched a new page called ‘A Year On Vine‘ showcasing the most memorable videos uploaded to the service over the past 12 months. Amazingly, there are few cats involved. Which is disappointing.

Top Gear Test Track On Google Street View

And finally, the Top Gear test track is the latest unique location — amongst a host of unique locations 10 Curiously Geeky Virtual Tours You Can Take On Google Street View 10 Curiously Geeky Virtual Tours You Can Take On Google Street View Set your bowlines free and travel. Why not use Google Street View to combine the best of travel and geek-dom. Pack your bags then for these ten geeky virtual trips. Read More — to be added to Google Street View. The video above shows some behind the scenes action of the Google Street View car recording panoramic views of the Top Gear test track while the Stig does donuts in a Mercedes Benz. My life is now complete.

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.

Image Credit: EFF Photos

  1. Bud
    January 24, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    The sooner Facebook AND Yahoo disappear............THE BETTER !!!

  2. Tom W
    January 24, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Yet another agency is condemning the actions of the NSA, which is definitely good, but I get the impression that this will only really be over when Snowden gets amnesty. Pretty much everyone who reviews the data revealed by Snowden's leaks has said that the current practices should end, which means that Snowden should be labelled a hero for doing what no-one else was prepared to do.
    There's a typo, just so you know. Where it says "The watchdog has compiled a lengthy 238-word report", it should be "page" instead of "word".

    Apple Macs may keep going forever, but they never seem to gain any significant traction in the computer market. But I guess that America's richest company doesn't really care about market share as long as the money keeps coming in.

    • Dave P
      January 24, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      I just cannot see Snowden getting amnesty, no matter how tough the penalties imposed on the NSA are. There are too many people in the U.S. who will always see him as an enemy of the state.

      Thanks for pointing out the typo. It's been fixed now. These are written late at night when ther brain isn't always working as well as it should do!

    • Tom W
      January 25, 2014 at 1:05 am

      I must admit, I'm not that optimistic that Snowden will get amnesty. But it's just so illogical that everyone from the advisors, to the watchdogs, to the president himself, are saying "This stuff that the NSA is doing is bad, it's imperative that we stop it", without admitting that no-one would know or care that it was happening if Snowden didn't do what he did. The secret court that was supposed to control the data flow and keep the NSA in line was essentially handing out rubber stamps blindfolded.

      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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