After the earthquake: Tech is a fragile lifeline in Nepal
In the first day after a devastating earthquake in Nepal on Saturday, Internet connectivity looked to be an important conduit for bypassing an overloaded telephone network. But by Monday it was clear that large-scale power outages and last-mile Internet connectivity problems were making communications very difficult. The death toll from the quake and numerous aftershocks stands at more than 3,400 people with thousands more injured. Among those killed was a high-ranking Google engineer who was one of a number of expeditioners on Mount Everest who lost their lives in an avalanche triggered by the earthquake.
One year later: Microsoft, Nokia deal bears little fruit
This past Saturday marked the first anniversary of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business, an effort to accelerate Windows Phone adoption and save the Lumia smartphone brand. But one year in, there’s no clear win, and CEO Satya Nadella—who was not an architect of the deal—faces challenges in getting the results Microsoft needs.
Nokia denies that it’s planning to manufacture phones
A report out of China that Nokia is readying a return to manufacturing phones, drew a robust denial from the Finnish company, Reuters reports. The company posted a statement reading, “Nokia notes recent news reports claiming the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China. These reports are false.” Nokia is widely expected to make some kind of play in the smartphone device market once it’s allowed to, under the terms of its deal with Microsoft.
Apple’s earnings will show the power of iPhone 6
Apple is set to release its second quarterly financials on Monday, and while it won’t break out results for its new Watch, the Wall Street Journal says, analysts expect to see sales of iPhones up 30 percent year on year, to 56.8 million units sold during the quarter. Revenue is forecast at $56.1 billion; it did $45.6 billion in the same quarter last year.
Vendor of credit card terminals has used same default password for more than 20 years
As credit-card fraud wreaks havoc on retailers, it’s emerged that a major vendor of credit card payment terminals has been shipping devices for over two decades with the same default password. Two researchers disclosed the weak security practice in a talk at the RSA conference last week. They didn’t name the vendor, but they did share the password, which a web search easily connects to Verifone. The researchers said the password remains in use on nine out of 10 terminals they see from the vendor.
Apple Watch teardown reveals unused blood oxygen sensor
The Apple Watch’s sensor may hold more health monitoring functions than Apple has revealed, including measuring blood oxygen levels, a feature that’s not enabled on the device and that Apple hasn’t talked about. That’s one of the findings from iFixIt, which disassembled an Apple Watch Sport Edition on the day the wearables started shipping to customers.
Ransomware? It’s personal, say cryptographers
The rise of malicious programs that lock up data on computers and mobile phones until a ransom is paid enrages many of us, but some of the world’s leading cryptographers are taking it personally. That’s because the malware is abusing the encryption algorithms they designed. Adi Shamir, co-inventor of the widely used RSA cryptosystem, sees the problem as a failure of the security community because there are no good products to protect against it, but he also thinks the issue is going to get worse. Today ransomware can affect your PC or your mobile phone, but it’s only a matter of time until your smart TV and other Internet of Things devices will also be held for ransom, he said.
Qualcomm will help Chinese phone vendors penetrate overseas markets
What’s good for China’s growing mobile phone business is good for Qualcomm, which sells most of the manufacturers chips and technology. It recently settled with Chinese regulators after being accused of abusing its dominance as a supplier. In an effort to build stronger relationships in the country, the Wall Street Journal reports, it has started up a group that will help Chinese vendors sell their wares overseas.
The Listen Tree is a research project that uses a transducer to play music and ambient sounds—through a living tree. Get close and you’ll hear.
One last thing
When Tom Wheeler was appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, consumer advocates expected the worst from this former top lobbyist for industry. But in the wake of Comcast’s abandoned merger with Time Warner last week, and with robust net neutrality rules on the books, it’s Wheeler’s former allies who are now wondering what happened, Bloomberg writes.