Tech News

General Mills Facebook Fail, Nearby Friends Ads, Oculus Rift Grandmother [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 21-04-2014

Today in Tech News Digest, General Mills backtracks, DPLA expands, Facebook targets ads, videophones celebrate birthday, HTC speculates on optical zoom, Google Trends emails, and Oculus Rift proves its worth.


General Mills Apologizes Over ToS Debacle

General Mills has backtracked on its revised Terms of Service which appeared to prohibit customers from suing the company after enjoying any kind of interaction. General Mills apologized, reverted to its old terms, and suggested its intentions were “misunderstood.

As we reported on Friday (April 18), General Mills’ new ToS vaguely suggested that any interaction as insignificant as a Facebook Like meant users gave up their right to sue the company Facebook Likes Brands, Siri Superpowers, Twitter Parody Police Raid [Tech News Digest] Why you should stop liking brands on Facebook, Siri secures superpowers, Facebook finds Nearby Friends, shocking Lumia 2520 sales, Office Online in Chrome, and a Twitter parody gone wrong. Read More . There was even the suggestion that the ToS were so broad that even buying a product from General Mills was enough to prompt “forced arbitration.

General Mills acted quickly to diffuse the situation, with a blog post genuflecting to its customers. The company maintains there was never any intention to ban people from suing, but the PR manager still felt the need to say “sorry we even started down this path.

Perhaps the reporting was wrongheaded on this occasion, with the New York Times exaggerating the truth. Regardless, this shows how careful companies need to be when changing their Terms of Service, and how social media means a situation can all-too-quickly spiral out of control.

DPLA Announces New Partnerships

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has celebrated its one-year anniversary by announcing six new partnerships. As reported by Ars Technica, these partnerships will add content from the California Digital Library, the Connecticut Digital Archive, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the US Government Printing Office, Indiana Memory, and the Montana Memory Project.


The DPLA is designed to be a platform pulling together the archives from a range of libraries across North America. In addition to the new partners, the New York Public Library, which has been a partner since the beginning, is increasing the size of its DPLA archive from 14,000 to 1 million items.

Facebook’s Nearby Friends Used For Ads

Users should be aware that utilizing Facebook’s new Nearby Friends feature Facebook Likes Brands, Siri Superpowers, Twitter Parody Police Raid [Tech News Digest] Why you should stop liking brands on Facebook, Siri secures superpowers, Facebook finds Nearby Friends, shocking Lumia 2520 sales, Office Online in Chrome, and a Twitter parody gone wrong. Read More means the social network will be tracking location histories and using them “for advertising or marketing.” Facebook isn’t doing so yet, but will be in the future.

The new Nearby Friends feature, which lets you track the location of your friends in real-time, is rolling out to iOS and Android over the next few weeks. But as TechCrunch discovered, this isn’t something that people who are worried about constantly being tracked will want to use. And surely no one wants to be tracked, do they?

Videophones Are 50 Years Old

The ease with which we can all have face-to-face video chats using Skype, Google Hangouts Tips On Planning & Holding Effective Meetings With Google Hangouts With today's Internet technology, holding online meetings can be both efficient and cost-effective especially if you pre-plan them and make use of time-saving tools. For the last couple of months I've participated in online meetings... Read More , and FaceTime Don't Forget You Can Make & Receive FaceTime Calls on Your Mac Apple's FaceTime is seen in many of its commercials, but some Mac users may not realize that the application is also available for use on their desktop computer. Read More means it’s easy to forget how enticing such possibilities were just a few decades ago.


This weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the first ever videophone, with April 20, 1964, being the date which Bell’s Model 1 Picturephone debuted at the World’s Fair in New York. Users had to sit perfectly still and pay the equivalent of $610 for a 15-minute conversation.

Little surprise then that it didn’t take off. Still, as the video embedded above shows, the concept inspired Stanley Kubrick to feature the technology in 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. Remember how far we’ve come the next time you inanely chat to someone on camera about nothing in particular.

HTC: Optical Zoom Coming To Smartphones

HTC is predicting that optical zoom will come to smartphones within two years. Speaking to Vodafone, HTC’s Symon Whitehorn suggests that the lack of optical zoom is what differentiates smartphone cameras 10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier "Does your phone have a camera on it?" said no one since 2005. Nobody even asks how many megapixels your phone's camera has anymore. With the ubiquity of smartphones today, and the resolution of the... Read More from digital SLRs Hands On With Your DSLR: Best Camera Tips For The Amateur Photographer From Youtube There are umpteen resources on learning how to photograph. And believe me; it is as easy to get drowned in the quicksand of learning as it is to be buoyant with nuggets of wisdom. Photography... Read More .

He said, “I think we’re looking at about 18 months to two years until that lens barrier begins breaking down and it becomes much harder to justify buying a dedicated camera outside of specialist or nostalgia reasons.


This is, of course, merely a prediction, but it has to be assumed HTC is working on bringing optical zoom to its smartphones for Whitehorn to suggest such a thing. Let us know what you think of this development in the comments section below.

Email Notifications For Google Trends

Google is now offering email notifications for Google Trends Catch The Buzz: Google Trends Offers Email Notifications Stay in the know with email notifications for Google Trends. You can now subscribe to your favorite search topics, "hot trends" for any country, and the U.S. monthly top charts. Read More , which shows what people are searching for on the Web. You can subscribe to particular topics, track the trends across countries, or see what has been popular over a certain amount of time.

Oculus Rift Helps Dying Grandmother

And finally, Oculus Rift clearly has some uses beyond gaming Oculus Rift Will Change Gaming Forever The StarTrek Holodeck - the epitome of a virtual immersive environment - has been a sci-fi dream for far too long now. A week ago, Oculus launched a Kickstarter project for a $300 consumer VR... Read More , as proven by the way in which the virtual reality headset was used to help a housebound grandmother experience the outside world once more. There is no happy ending, unfortunately, but this is still a heartwarming use of future technology.

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

Image Credit: Hans Gerwitz via Flickr


Related topics: Facebook, Google Trends.

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  1. SSK
    April 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Facebook, you have earned my temporary respect. I stress on temporary.

  2. SSK
    April 21, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Isn't Samsung's smart camera already a camera with optical zoom?

    • Dave P
      April 21, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      They're cameras, not phones. HTC is talking about putting optical zoom as standard on ordinary smartphones.

  3. palu
    April 21, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Im not a lawyer, but do theses arbitrary ToS actually hold up in court? Dont people have basic rights, that cannot be terminated by a signed document or any other action (in this case, costumers were supposed to be legally bound by buying a product or just "liking" them!!! Hows that legal?)

    • Dave P
      April 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      My understanding is that in Europe this would be illegal, but in the U.S. it's perfectly legal. These are the sort of things that can and are challenged, but by sticking them into ToS that very few people even give a cursory glance, the company gains the upper hand.