Today in Tech News Digest, an Internet Explorer flaw, government-built social networks, Netflix as a cable channel, ComiXology in-app purchases, Cortana hates children, a Codecademy makeover, and E.T. found in the desert.
Internet Explorer Suffers Critical Flaw
A new vulnerability is affecting Internet Explorer users. Follow these steps exactly: 1. Stop ever using Internet Explorer End of steps.
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) April 28, 2014
A serious security flaw has been discovered in all versions of Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s much-maligned Web browser. The zero-day vulnerability is present in Internet Explorer 6 through 11 and could allow hackers to gain access to users’ computers.
Microsoft issued a security advisory regarding the issue, in which it says it’s “aware of limited, targeted attacks.” These are taking the form of drive-bys, where users are tricked into visiting malicious websites which trigger the attack.
The U.S. tech giant is working on fixing the issue, with patches likely to be rolled out soon. However, no patch will ever arrive for Windows XP now that Microsoft has ended support for the aged operating system.
Internet Explorer users are advised to switch to an alternative browser until this vulnerability is patched. Or, at the very least, download the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) and employ the utmost common sense when browsing the Web.
The U.S. Built Multiple Social Networks
sometimes wish that i didn’t have social networks or a smartphone.. i would be so much more focused on things that actually matter
— A (@alexd3luca) April 27, 2014
At the beginning of April we learned that the U.S. Government was behind ZunZuneo, a Twitter-like social network in Cuba set up to stir unrest in the communist country. It turns out ZunZuneo was just one of many such initiatives.
As reported by the New York Times, the Obama administration recently revealed the nature of these programs, which operated in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, and dozens of other countries around the world.
Unlike ZunZuneo, many, but not all, of these U.S. Government-mandated social networks have been run with the knowledge and cooperation of foreign governments. All were designed to allow the younger generations in these countries to connect with each other, and hopefully be better versed in the idea of democracy.
Netflix Becomes A Cable Channel
My cable has too many channels and it’s confusing. I prefer netflix. #firstworldproblems
— jarel roxas (@J_Roxas) April 28, 2014
Netflix, which is often seen as the mortal enemy of traditional media, has inked a deal with three cable companies to bring its service to set-tops boxes. The companies in question, RCN, Grande Communications, and Atlantic Broadband, will integrate Netflix into their services.
David Isenberg, chief marketing officer for Atlantic Broadband, explained to the Washington Post, “If you’re an RCN customer, perhaps in the D.C. area you would pick up your remote control, you would tune to Channel 450, and there you’d find Netflix. You’d select it and that’ll launch the Netflix app.”
These three cable companies aren’t major players — with only around 500,000 customers between them — but this is still an important step in getting Netflix accepted by traditional media corporations.
ComiXology Removes In-App Purchases
Amazon has broken my heart with its murder of Comixology. The new setup is unusable for me. :(
— Brad Wardell (@draginol) April 28, 2014
Just weeks after purchasing ComiXology, Amazon has updated the iOS app to remove the capacity for in-app purchases. Comic book fans could previously purchase comics directly through the app, but will now be directed to the website in order to checkout.
This means Amazon avoids giving Apple a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases. The Android app has also been updated to avoid paying Google any fees, but in-app purchases are still allowed thanks to Google’s less-draconian policies.
Microsoft’s Cortana Hates Children
Cortana wants me drunk. pic.twitter.com/dkoGfWG7W7
— Jon Smile (@blessthejon) April 28, 2014
Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri, is not able to communicate with children under 13 years of age. This, according to a posting on a Microsoft forum, is due to “Cortana’s highly personalized approach” and Microsoft’s “efforts to comply with COPPA [Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act].” Parents looking to buy a Windows Phone handset for their offspring should bear this in mind.
Codecademy Gets A Makeover
I bet the @Codecademy founders hate it when people pronounce it “Code Academy”
— rothgar (@rothgar) April 23, 2014
Codecademy, the popular learn-to-program platform, has undergone a complete makeover. The new layout is clean, minimalistic, and responsive, but the changes are more than just skin-deep, with new ways of learning and building portfolios also included.
Atari’s E.T. Game Unearthed In Desert
And finally, the urban legend that Atari dumped millions of copies of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 in a desert in Alamogordo, New Mexico, has just been proved to be true thanks to documentary-makers funded by Microsoft.
The story goes that Atari dumped the unsold stock in 1983 as it was on the verge of going bust. Copies of the game, which was almost unplayable thanks to being made quickly to tie in with the movie, have been dug up as part of a documentary looking at the history of video games. And they’ll probably soon turn up on eBay.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.
Image Credit: Jorgen Kesseler via Flickr