Tech News Today 262

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Tech News Today
Episode 262

Tech News Today 262: Internet In A Briefcase

The latest on the hacker wars, is Facebook falling, US funding secret Internets, and more.


Top Stories

  • Facebook Sees Big Traffic Drops in US and Canada as It Nears 700 Million Users Worldwide
  • Facebook (Kinda) Disputes Slowdown Estimates, But Declines to Give Actual Stats
  • Available Data Shows Facebook User Numbers Growing Quickly, or Slowly, or Falling
    • Facebook reached 687 million monthly actives by the start of June, according to our Inside Facebook Gold data service.
    • But overall growth has been lower than normal for the second month straight
    • The company gained 11.8 million more people over May, following 13.9 million over April. In contrast, it grew by at least 20 million new users over the typical month in the past 12
    • US lost nearly 6M users [Possibly related to FB crackdown on underaged accounts? - ia]
    • UK, Norway & Russia, loss of 100,000+ each [if I'm reading that right]-
    • Canada dropped 1.52M user
    • Inside Facebook's comprehensive survey of multiple reporting sources, shows confusion over whether the US is or is not losing Facebook subs, but indicates a stronger trend towards decline in the UK and Canada. Going forward, we’ll be watching closely to see what longer-term trends emerge. Bugs in the Facebook advertising tool that we draw this information from, seasonal changes like college graduations, and other short-term factors, can influence numbers month to month and obscure what’s really happening.
    • Facebook: From time to time, we see stories about Facebook losing users in some regions. Some of these reports use data extracted from our advertising tool, which provides broad estimates on the reach of Facebook ads and isn’t designed to be a source for tracking the overall growth of Facebook. We are very pleased with our growth and with the way people are engaged with Facebook. More than 50% of our active users log on to Facebook on any given day.
  • Why Microsoft has made developers horrified about coding for Windows 8
    • Micrsoft's insistence that developers use HTML5 and javascript for immersive apps in Windows 8 has a lot of developers upset.
    • Ars Technica has a comprehensive article going into depth into the history of MS jerking around developers
    • It wouldn't make sense for MS to toss out .NET and everything else their developers have built experience in

Discussion Stories

  • Foreign government allegedly behind cyberattack on IMF
  • Government 'may have hacked IMF'
  • IMF Breached by Sophisticated Hack Attack
    • Sources told Bloomberg, and researchers told BBC that the attack has the hallmarks of a nation-state sponsored attack
    • Sources told NYT the attack lasted several months
    • IMF board members were reportedly briefed on the attack Wednesday, but there was no public announcement of the attack. Staff were told that suspicious file transfers were detected two weeks ago, and that these were linked to a compromised desktop computer within the IMF. Likely due to spear phishing.
    • They were also reassured that there was no evidence that personal data was taken or that they would be victims of fraud.
    • As a precautionary measure, the World Bank shut down its network connections to the IMF.
    • Does not seem to be connected to the RSA hack"

Hacker Wars

  • U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors
    • New York Times reports the US State dept. is backing several projects to create stealth cell nets and Internet services.
    • Internet in a suitcase got a $2 million State Department grant. Based on mesh networking. the suitcase would include small wireless antennas, which could increase the area of coverage; a laptop to administer the system; thumb drives and CDs to spread the software to more devices and encrypt the communications; and other components like Ethernet cables.
    • Financing stealth wireless networks to be used in places like Libya
    • 50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country.
    • Tales of buried Chinese cell phones in hills on North Korea's border
    • Story details independent efforts as well. Some mesh networks some not.
    • Bluetooth used for file sharing in Iran. State department funding might pave way for expansion of this into a limited Bluetiooth mesh network of sorts.
    • By the end of 2011, the State Department will have spent some $70 million on circumvention efforts and related technologies, according to department figures

  • Please Hold: How Fast Do Top Internet Retailers Respond to Customers?
    • Study by STELLAService, which used a network of full-time mystery shoppers to evaluate each site, making more than 1,200 interactions via phone and email.
    • ranked first when it comes to the shortest average amount of time that customers have to wait on hold before talking to a live customer service representative (6 seconds)
    • (ODP) earned first place for responding to customer emails fastest (48 minutes)
    • Only one company, (DIS) ranked among the top 10 for both speediest email support (1:47:40) and phone support (12 seconds)

News Fuse




"Hi TNTers,

Reference your call for an aviation professional to comment on electronic interference in aircraft, I'd like to pipe up and say that I have all the answers...

Unfortunately in my 17,000 + hours of flight time I can't say that I've had one incident attributable to a personal electronic device. I can, however, speak to the significance of the iPad in today's airliner.

The Airline industry has traditionally been slow to adapt to new technology for a couple of reasons but the bottom line is money. The airline industry operates on extremely thin profit margins, especially in the U.S. where deregulation of the route structure in the 70's led to decreased revenue, and increased operational regulation (and bureaucracy) has led to skyrocketing expenses. It costs money to certify new technologies and if there is no benefit to the carriers bottom line it's not going to happen.

So along comes the iPad. I know that Iyaz thinks that all pilots should be Jean Luc Picard but even the Captain of the Enterprise has a full support staff including Engineering, Communications and Security. We fill all those rolls and need reference material for the job. (Buy me an adult beverage on my next Bay Area layover and I'll tell you all about it.) The airlines have been looking at ways to digitize the manuals and charts that we as pilots use. An aircraft based solution needed to be implemented slightly differently in different types of aircraft requiring a costly certification process and very costly equipment for each aircraft type. The equipment also has to be adapted to the ways the different companies operate.

The advantages are many, however. The yearly savings on paper and ink alone are staggering and the digital delivery process makes for a much more efficient operation. Then comes the #1 cost to an airline. Fuel. The more an airplane weighs the more power it takes to stay aloft and the more fuel it burns. Those flight bags we carry around may not seem like much but they are pretty heavy, they add up and they are always on the airplane despite Iyaz's trepidation.

The IPad is an elegant solution. It is not part of the aircraft so certification difficulties and expense are dramatically decreased. The iPad is widely supported and is intuitive to use and light. It can replace my whole flight bag! I can also use it to Skype home on layovers as well as enjoy my favorite TWIT Network programming or listen to an Audible audiobook. I'm so happy with my iPad I could kiss Steve Jobs on the mouth. I won't....but I could. Thanks for the work you do. We appreciate you.

Best Regards, Vic the Texas Rancher Pilot."

  • Summary of the super-long email:
    • Airlines are slow to adapt new tech.
    • iPad is great for manuals b/c pilots (like everyone else) need reference material like charts and manuals.
    • iPad has lots of advantages like replacing the pilot's flight bag which reduces fuel costs.

"Hey TNT crew,

In Friday's "shady" episode, you discussed Microsoft partnering with regional content providers in the US for Xbox Live TV. I was all too excited when this was announced at E3 but, upon hearing the name Comcast, my first thoughts went to their practice of data caps.

Currently my Comcast service has a ""monthly data usage allowance"" of 250GB and per Comcast, ""you should know that the vast majority - around 99% - of Comcast customers use significantly less than 250GB per month."" Well, since last November, our family has been attempting to use more online video outlets, including Comcast's on Xfinity TV, and have significantly breached this level, averaging in the range of 320-350GB per month. Now our family, total of 6, is larger than most but, with online watching of TWiT, Hulu, Netflix, Xfinity and other website added to online game play from a variety of smart phones, iPad, PCs, Xbox, and Wii, the addition or migration of standard TV viewing would put any normal family easily over such caps.

One item in particular that caught my attention was the reference on one TWiT show that since the Xbox can stream in HD, Netflix shows will default to that format if available and thus, increase the size of the download stream. If the Xbox Live TV service would also default to HD levels whenever possible, could that also push past any cap levels at an accelerated rate?

To note, so far we haven't received any communication from Comcast about our usage and any possible penalties, so I'm guessing their either monitoring the traffic and not seeing anything illegal or they haven't figured out a real enforcement of these allowances yet. Just to be safe, I'll leave this email somewhat anonymous just in case they’re listening.

Thanks for the show, CakeWolf Placerville, CA"



  • sb -6
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Production Information

  • Edited by: Jason
  • Notes:
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