Tech News

Cheap Windows Laptops For All, Spies Manipulating The Internet, And More… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 15-07-2014

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 Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead! Read More in this new race to the bottom? We can confidently predict Apple will steadfastly refuse to get involved.

British Spies Manipulate The Internet

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 Microsoft Changes Outlined In Memo, Amazon Drones On To FAA, And More... [Tech News Digest] UK government restores data retention powers, Verizon and Netflix continue war of words, Cortana predicts World Cup winners, Netflix advertises the best job ever, and Kelsey Grammer is a grammar Nazi, but only on Twitter. Read More .

Big Names Push FCC Over Net Neutrality

Just yesterday it was revealed that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had received almost 700,000 comments New Raspberry Pi B+ Released, FCC Tallies Net Neutrality Comments, And More... [Tech News Digest] Also, Beats goes after Chinese counterfeiters before Apple sale, Hulu nabs South Park, Twitter tracks Wikipedia edits from politicians, Amazon trolls the French government, and an honest game trailer for Minecraft. Read More 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 Inc.

Is anyone other than the ISPs arguing for ending net neutrality Net Neutrality, As Explained By YouTube’s Geniuses Are you still not sure what Net Neutrality actually is? Don’t feel dumb: it’s a nuanced concept. So, we tracked down videos from some of the smartest people on the Web. Read More 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

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

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

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 Windows XP To Chrome OS, Comcast Worst Company, iWatch Rumors [Tech News Digest] Switching from Windows XP to Chrome OS, forcing Facebook Messenger, Project Ara developers, Comcast named "worst company in America," Apple iWatch rumors, and an Easter PSA from Goldieblox. Read More ), 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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  1. Cheerful
    July 16, 2014 at 2:11 am

    RE: British Spies Manipulate The Internet

    You see it on internet forums all the time. Also with comments left on "news" stories - aside from the "news" itself.

  2. michel
    July 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I can't find the Acer es1 for the price quoted in the article. On, it's 278.19. On, only one dealer (from the US) offers it - for 477.48! There's no excuse for this, the exchange rate isn't that bad. So, unfortunately, it looks like you quoted a press release without verifying.

    As for all those who insist on trashing MS not matter what they do, please, if you don't like or use Windows, go comment on articles about Mac or Linux or whatever.

    • Dave P
      July 15, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      It's $249 on the Acer website -

      So, unfortunately, it looks like you accused me of something which wasn't true ;)

    • dragonmouth
      July 16, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      "As for all those who insist on trashing MS not matter what they do, please, if you don’t like or use Windows, go comment on articles about Mac or Linux or whatever."
      You're quite right, Michel. Unless posters have something nice to say about M$, they should not post. At this point M$ needs all the positive comments it can get. After all, they DID get rid of Prancing Steve.

    • michel
      July 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Sorry, Dave, mea culpa. Unfortunately, it's not available on the Canadian website at all.

  3. likefunbutnot
    July 15, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    With consumer electronics, you get what you pay for, whether it's laptops, tablets, chromebooks, phones or A/V equipment. The proper verb to describe a $250 laptop that's priced to include a Windows license is "inflicted", and I imagine those of us in more technical career paths with become very familiar with this latest round of garbage hardware.

    • Dave P
      July 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      Having used a Chromebook as my main device for the past year I'm reserving judgement. If Microsoft is offering Windows 8.1 to these vendors for free or close to it then they could be OK. One of the $249 has an SSD, which would be a prerequisite for me.

  4. dragonmouth
    July 15, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    "Microsoft Chases Cheap With Windows" - Is M$ trying tp copy Google & Chromebooks by providing cheap laptops with crippled O/S, running only M$ subscription software?

    "British Spies Manipulate The Internet" - you mean to say that NSA is not the only agency messing with the citizens? Oh My! Even the above-reproach Brits are doing dastardly deeds on the Internet. What is this world coming to?!

    "Sotheby’s Teams Up With eBay" - Politics may make for strange bedfellows but so does business.

    "Vantablack is the new black." - I thought Orange was the new Black.

    "Confounding Comcast Cancellation Call" - that's nothing new. I remeber trying to unsubscribe from AOL years back. It was like trying to get chewing gum off your shoe on a hot day. No matter what you tried to do to remove it, some piece always kept sticking to you.

    • Dave P
      July 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      This is definitely Microsoft trying to fight off the rise of the Chromebook. I suspect they're giving Windows 8.1 away virtually for free to make it possible.

      Oh, GCHQ could be just as bad as the NSA. In fact, Snowden's documents suggest the two agencies work together on a lot of things.

      The blackest black is the new black. Spread the word.

      You know, I'm not surprised AOL was tough to get rid of. They always had that whiff about them. Perhaps the worse a company is the harder it is to leave them.