Also, Samsung unveils new Galaxy Alpha, Twitter gives verified users the VIP treatment, Reddit cracks down on journalists using and abusing it, and the most stunning timelapse video you’re ever likely to see.
The NSA Is Developing A Malware Killer
Just discovered an NSA backdoor in my kids’ Etch a Sketch.
— Chris Sacca (@sacca) August 11, 2014
The National Security Agency (NSA) is currently developing a cyber defense system designed to recognize and neutralize malware aimed at the United States by foreign powers. The program, called MonsterMind, would work completely autonomously, and could be used to launch retaliatory strikes against those responsible. This is just one of the revelations to emerge from an epic Wired interview with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In the same interview, which is punctuated with some massively pretentious photographs, Snowden claims he left digital footprints for the NSA to follow so that investigators would know which files he had copied. His intent was to give the agency time to minimize the risk to national security and understand he was a whistleblower rather than a spy.
Snowden also suggested that the NSA was responsible for knocking out Syria’s access to the Internet in 2012. The Syrian Government and the rebels it was fighting against both blamed each other for the Internet blackout. However, according to Snowden, the NSA was responsible while they were, rather ironically, trying to install malware onto hardware belonging to Syria’s main ISP. Because foreign malware is bad, while American malware is good. Obviously.
Microsoft Makes Bing More Conversational
I don’t know who, what, why or how the default search engine on my Safari became Bing but: well played. First time i laughed all day long.
— BUTT STUFF WEREWOLF (@mattfraction) August 12, 2014
Microsoft has updated Bing so that it’s more conversational than ever before. Taking its cue from Cortana, Microsoft’s mobile digital assistant, Bing will now understand follow-up questions to your original search.
As an example, Microsoft uses Barack Obama, suggesting, “You can ask ‘who is the president of the united states,’ we will show you the answer. From there you might ask, ‘who is his wife’ or ‘how tall is he.’ Bing maintains the context and keeps the conversation moving forward.”
Cortana is not only powered by Bing but rumored to be baked right into Windows 9. So any meshing of the two services makes a lot of sense. Bing is already a legitimate alternative to Google, and this new feature only helps up its usefulness.
Samsung Unveils New Galaxy Alpha
Samsung has unveiled its latest smartphone, one which takes a leaf out of Apple’s book by offering style over substance. The Samsung Galaxy Alpha has a smaller screen than the flagship Galaxy S5 and only offers mid-level specs. However, it’s thinner, lighter, and has an iPhone-baiting metal finish, which makes it a pocket-friendly alternative for those who value aesthetics above everything else.
Twitter Treats Verified Users Like VIPs
Twitter is making it easier for the haves to hang out with other haves and ignore the have nots. https://t.co/5AKgNkQl2H
— dan (@dcseifert) August 13, 2014
Hot on the heels of Facebook giving celebrities the VIP treatment comes Twitter doing the same thing. Verified users have been granted two new Twitter features: alerts when other verified users follow them, and the option to view their list of verified followers. This is in addition to verified users being afforded the opportunity to filter mentions of their name, as introduced in 2013.
It seems that on social networks, as in real life, being famous pays dividends. And screw the proles.
Reddit Rolls Out Pressiquette Rules
Reddit has rolled out new guidelines for journalists it’s calling Pressiquette, a portmanteau of the words “press” and “etiquette.” The Pressiquette, as first noticed by The New York Times’ Mike Isaac, is a response to writers and bloggers increasingly using Reddit as a source for content.
There is nothing particularly controversial in the Presiquette, with simple requests to ask the OP for permission to repost their content and respecting subreddits as their own self-contained communities. However, we suspect things could get messy if BuzzFeed and the like refuse to respect these new rules. Who is bringing the popcorn?
Paris Timelapse Comprises 40k Photos
And finally, while most people take plenty of photos while on holiday, few possess the time and energy required to turn them into a timelapse video. And even those who do would struggle to pull off a timelapse video as beautiful as this one. This isn’t surprising though, as it took a guy named Paul Richardson 400 hours and 40,000 photographs to pull this off. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Your Views On Today’s Tech News
Do you support the NSA in its fight against malware? Would you ever consider ditching Google in favor of Bing? Do you have any interest in the Samsung Galaxy Alpha?
Let us know your thoughts on the tech news of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Image Credit: Raido via Flickr