Cheap Windows Laptops For All, Spies Manipulating The Internet, And More… [Tech News Digest]
Also, the big Web companies fight for net neutrality, Sotheby’s and eBay join forces, scientists have too much time on their hands, a reason to buy a smartwatch, and proof that cancelling Comcast is a complete nightmare.
Microsoft Chases Cheap With Windows
Those people seeking a cheap computer will likely be spoilt for choice in the near future, with Microsoft announcing that several affordable Windows laptops are incoming. The Acer Aspire ES1 is already available for $249, while Toshiba has a $249 option due out by the end of the year. Meanwhile, HP has a range of “Stream” devices on the way, with prices ranging from $99 to $199.
While announcing the affordable Windows machines during the 2014 Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner said, “We are going to participate at the low-end. We’ve got a great value proposition against Chromebooks, we are not ceding the market to anyone.”
The question is, will Google retaliate with a cheaper or more capable Chromebook in this new race to the bottom? We can confidently predict Apple will steadfastly refuse to get involved.
British Spies Manipulate The Internet
NEW: Hacking online polls and other tactics GCHQ uses to manipulate the internet https://t.co/CONEjDSNF9
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 14, 2014
Another day, another revelation into how the security services are affecting our everyday lives. This one concerns British spies working at GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) who, according to documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, regularly manipulate the Internet.
As detailed by The Intercept, the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) allegedly has the capability to “change [the] outcome of online polls,” enact the “disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content,” “artificially increase traffic to a website,” and launch a “distributed denial of service using P2P,” amongst other things.
This document has been revealed at a time when the British Government is rushing through legislation giving them greater surveillance powers over ordinary citizens .
Big Names Push FCC Over Net Neutrality
Just yesterday it was revealed that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had received almost 700,000 comments about its plans to end net neutrality. It has to be assumed most of these are rallying against the plans, as is the Internet Association, which, according to Reuters, “represents three dozen web companies such as Google Inc, Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc.”
Is anyone other than the ISPs arguing for ending net neutrality at this point? Feel free to be the voice of dissention by airing your views in the comments section below.
Sotheby’s Teams Up With eBay
Sotheby’s and eBay are getting back int bed together, which is like Liz Taylor remarrying Richard Burton, only with a gavel.
— Josh Spero (@joshspero) July 14, 2014
Auction house Sotheby’s has teamed up with online auctioneers eBay, with many of the former’s offline auctions due to be streamed on the latter’s website. This means eBay’s customers could potentially bid on fine wines and ever finer art. As long as they have sufficient funds in their PayPal account, presumably. The New York Times has all the details.
Scientists Create The Blackest Black
— Boing Boing (@BoingBoing) July 14, 2014
British scientists have created a new material that’s being described as the blackest black ever seen. Or rather, not seen. Vantablack, as the material is called, absorbs “all but 0.035 percent of visual light,” meaning the human eye cannot determine shapes, folds, or contours within the material. Unfortunately, it could be a long time before Vantablack is used for one of Chanel’s little black numbers.
Finally, A Reason To Buy A Smartwatch
— Vishal (@vishalpanchal85) July 15, 2014
You may have been wondering why on earth anyone would buy a smartwatch right now thanks to the dearth of apps. However, you can wonder no more, as GigaOM has found a free watch face for Android Wear that turns any smartwatch into the LCARS operating system from Star Trek. Now we all want a smartwatch, don’t we?
Confounding Comcast Cancellation Call
And finally, for all its pros and cons, living in a capitalist society means you should be able to cancel a service at will if you find a better, or cheaper, alternative. In fact, the “why” isn’t important, it’s just a basic right to take your custom elsewhere.
Unfortunately, not all companies or customer service reps have read this section of the manual. So when tech journalist Ryan Block tried to disconnect from Comcast (voted the worst company in America ), he had a harder time doing so than he expected. He started recording the conversation after 10 minutes, which means he has the patience of a saint.
Your Views On Today’s Tech News
Are you interested in cheap Windows laptops? Will you be buying a smartwatch? Is the Comcast call the worst customer service you have ever heard?
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: Andrew Writer via Flickr
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