Government personnel agency takes background check system offline for background checks
Hoping to avoid a third strike against it, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has taken offline a system used for performing background checks on potential new hires. The agency discovered a security flaw in the web app, E-QIP, while auditing its IT systems after two spectacular hacks resulted in the theft of personnel records of millions of government employees and the security clearance questionnaires of many others. There is no evidence the flaw was exploited, OPM said Monday, but it will keep the system offline for up to six weeks while it checks it out.
Supreme Court denies Google request in Java infringement case
The U.S. Supreme Court effectively gave Oracle the go-ahead to charge licensing fees for Java in Android on Monday, when it declined to hear Google’s appeal of a May 2014 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In that decision, the appeals court ruled that Java APIs used by Google were covered by copyright. Java creator Sun Microsystems initially welcomed Google’s 2007 announcement that it would use Java in Android, but the relationship soured after Oracle purchased Sun in 2010.
Uber buys mapping tools from Microsoft...
After buying mapping startup deCarta in March, Uber has acquired a chunk of mapping technologies from Microsoft’s Bing unit. Around 100 Microsoft employees will move to Uber, which will also gain a data center and cameras allowing it to collect its own street-level imagery and other mapping data, according to TechCrunch.
... and appears to be spending money like water
Uber’s operating loss exceeds its revenue, according to documents provided to potential investors and seen by Bloomberg News. The company made an operating loss of $470 million on revenue of $415 million, it apparently told investors to whom it hopes to sell up to $1.2 billion in convertible bonds.
Bruised by past mistakes, tech firms brace for ‘leap second’
Computerized clocks around the world will pause for a moment late Tuesday to squeeze in an extra second. The leap second, as it’s called, is needed to keep Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in line with solar time. The two get out of whack due to changes in the earth’s rotation, and 25 leap seconds have been added to clocks since 1971. But the last leap second in 2012 took some IT companies and other firms by surprise, and caused websites including LinkedIn and Reddit, as well as Qantas’ passenger reservation system, to crash.
PayPal says it won’t robocall users without permission after all
Microsoft’s parental controls let kids browse more than they should, less than they’d like
Microsoft is introducing some draconian limits on kids’ PC use with an update to its Family Safety controls, now rebranded as Microsoft Family. The old version allowed parents to set multiple periods during which their offspring could play on the PC—say an hour each before breakfast and after dinner—but now Microsoft is restricting the programming to just one session per day. Add that to the recent bug that allowed kids to browse sites not on the whitelist defined by their parents, and it’s no wonder some are upset.
With free streaming for 90 days, Apple Music launches in U.S. today
Apple is offering free music streaming in the U.S. from today, starting the 90-day countdown to when it starts billing users $10/month. The Wall Street Journal wonders whether such services are changing us as much as they are changing the music industry.
IBM’s Watson will finally have something to trade weird recipe ideas with next year, when Sereniti Kitchen’s Cooki goes on sale. It’s a robot chef for those who don’t have time to cook—but who do have time to fill, chill, load, unload and wash or recycle the many plastic tubs in which the ingredients are stored. See it in action on IDG.TV.
One last thing
From the Department of We Told You So: It was in 1998 that seven security experts from a group called L0pht Heavy Industries told the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs of their concerns about the security of the Internet and the many devices connected to it. The Washington Post has the story on what’s happened to them—and to the Internet— in the 17 years since that warning.