'Android malware must be kind of thrilling for Microsoft'
Plus: 'Young people are fed up with iPhones'
QuotW This was the week when in a rather ironic about-turn, peer-to-peer veterans decided to start a suit against companies like Google, Amazon, Dropbox and VMWare for using their intellectual property to make their cloud and virtualisation offerings.
While the US discovered that one of the devices it uses in critical infrastructures like water facilities has a weakness that could allow hackers to take control of it remotely.
This was also the week when the tech world tried out some negative marketing, with Samsung using ads in Australian newspapers that publicly celebrated its court victory in overturning the ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the country. The tagline for these rather pointed missives read:
This is the tablet Apple tried to stop.
And Microsoft started the #droidrage campaign on Twitter, promising free Windows phones for the best (or should that be worst?) stories from victims of Android malware. Security consultant Graham Cluley pointed out that it's not often Microsoft gets to go on about other tech firms' security issues:
I guess it must be kind of thrilling for Microsoft - which has endorsed the #droidrage campaign - to find the malware boot on the other foot for once. After all, they have long suffered having the Windows desktop operating system negatively compared to the likes of Unix and Mac OS X when it comes to the levels of malware infection.
However, on the very same day, a hacker discovered that Windows Phone OS had a security flaw that could let malicious persons disable the messaging system by sending an SMS, Facebook chat message or Windows Live message, so that was a short-lived moral high ground.
Sticking with phones, Nokia exec Niels Munksgaard also decided to get in on the rival-bashing the old-fashioned way, with some disparaging statements to the media. According to the Nokia Entertainment Global sales director:
What we see is that youth are pretty much fed up with iPhones. Everyone has the iPhone. Also many are not happy with the complexity of Android and the lack of security.
So naturally, all those yoofs were just waiting for Munksgaard to tell them how Apple and Android suck so they could run out and buy Nokias.
Meanwhile, Research in Motion continued to hang itself with one disaster after another, as two of its executives pleaded guilty to causing all sorts of drunken mischief and mayhem while aboard an Air Canada flight to Beijing, including chewing through their restraints. The flight was eventually forced to land in Vancouver. The Canadian prosecutor said:
The repercussions for the company as well as every single person on the plane, both financially and perhaps even emotionally, are going to be huge.
The two men have already been sacked by RIM and were ordered to pay $71,757 in restitution and got a year's suspended sentence and probation.
From the bad publicity to the good publicity, Google has announced festive funding for charities, including money to spend on educating girls, empowering people through technology, promoting science, technology, engineering and maths and... fighting slavery.
Yes, the Chocolate Factory is putting a tenth of one per cent of its revenues, around $11.5m, towards stopping slavery and human trafficking. As it said on its blog:
The bad news: there are more slaves today than at any other point in history. The good news: by returning to their villages and helping educate others, freed slaves protect hundreds of thousands of at-risk people from being tricked or forced into similar misery.
Our support will free more than 12,000 people from modern-day slavery, and prevent millions more from being victimised.
And that's not all Google wants to spend its money on - its co-founders also hoping to snaffle NASA's Hangar One to park their extensive air fleet in. The space agency wants to preserve the historic hangar, where US Navy airships used to reside, but it's being cautious about selling off two-thirds of Hangar One's floorspace to Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt. One member of the subcommittee pointed out that any restorative work on the site should be in keeping with its historical significance:
We don't want to see 'Google' in 200-foot letters on that hangar.
A co-founder of Apple also featured this week, dropping some pearls of wisdom on how to succeed in business. Steve Wozniak told radio listeners that what a company really needs to get on in this world is employees that are allowed to wear t-shirts to work.
Look at societies like Singapore where bad behaviour is not tolerated and can get you extreme punishments: Where are the creative people? Where are the great artists, where are the great musicians, where are the great writers?
All the creative elements seem to disappear. Though, of course, everybody is educated and has a good job and nice pay and a car.
Thinking for yourself is creativity and that's goes right down to what we were talking about dress, the clothing that you wear - you wear what you want to wear.
Not to be outdone, a co-founder of Microsoft was also making waves, announcing his plan to build the largest aircraft ever flown. Paul Allen wants to use a humungous aeroplane to lift bigger rockets than any before launched in mid-air and thereby deliver much larger cargoes to orbit - maybe even manned spacecraft. Allen optimistically orated:
I have long dreamed about taking the next big step in private space flight after the success of SpaceShipOne – to offer a flexible, orbital space delivery system. We are at the dawn of radical change in the space launch industry. Stratolaunch Systems is pioneering an innovative solution that will revolutionize space travel.
And finally, Wikipedia fonder Jimmy Wales was pondering a global Wiki-blackout to protest new US laws against online piracy (SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act) that are being considered by Congress. Many internet companies feel the Act puts too much responsibility for piracy on content hosts, ISPs and search engines and uses a 'guilty till proven innocent' model. Wales was attempting to gather support for a Wiki-strike from his Wikipedian masses, saying:
My own view is that a community strike was very powerful and successful in Italy and could be even more powerful in this case (referring to a similar move made by the Italian Wikipedia, which resulted in that country's parliament backing down from the law it opposed).
As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of 'Stop Online Piracy Act' is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track. ®