? All Tech Radio Episode 393
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  • Data collected by Apple to improve its voice-driven Siri service is anonymized and kept on the company's servers for up to two years before it is discarded. The disclosure was made by Apple to Wired after privacy advocates called on the company to reveal exactly what information it knows and keeps about users. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the anonymized data is collected solely to improve the service, and that the company takes customer privacy very seriously. After six months, the random number is no longer associated with the saved clip, but the audio file may be saved for up to two years in total for what Wired said are "testing and product improvement purposes." However, if a user turns off Siri on their device, their randomized identifier is deleted, along with any data associated with it.
  • Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (or CISPA) is making its way through Congress with the House passing the Act last Thursday. The final vote in the House was 248-168, as 42 Democrats voted for the bill, while 28 Republicans voted against it. It still needs Senate approval, and President Barack Obama has indicated he'll possibly veto CISPA if it comes to his desk. Both sides of Congress would need to muster a two-thirds majority vote to override the president's veto, which would seem unlikely in the current political atmosphere of Washington. At the heart of CISPA is a Fourth Amendment issue which reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." CISPA is designed to let the federal government work with private companies to fight hackers and cyber-criminals in and outside of the United States. As part of the effort to detect cyber threats, private companies could voluntarily share with the government data about Internet users. As could be predicted, the lobbying firms for CISPA representing corporations who would profit from this legislation outspent those opposing CISPA 140-1.
  • Google Inc. (GOOG), operator of the world's largest Internet search engine, was fined 145,000 euros ($189,230) by a German regulator for collecting wireless-network data by its cars taking photos for the Street View service. Google's cars from 2008 to 2010 captured the data, including contents of e-mails, passwords, photos and chat protocols, Hamburg data regulator Johannes Caspar said in an e- mailed statement today. He had reopened the probe after prosecutors dropped a related criminal case last year. "In my view, this is one of the biggest data protection rules violations known," said Caspar. Google's "internal control mechanisms must have severely failed."
  • The new war is in ultra-low powered chips, and the company is years behind. Intel's response to ARM was the ATOM series of processors, but they were stuck trying to power a heavy and bloated Microsoft OS, while ARM had custom designed operating systems that extended battery life, and created an entirely new market. This year the two companies are destined to meet in the middle, and it will be a pivotal moment in the history of computing. Intel has announced its plans to compete with the current crop of dirt cheap ARM based devices, and to the winner goes the spoils. Intel's decision to take on the low end market isn't without precedent, but it's also a moving target. The price point for computing has been falling faster than industry costs, and now the company finds itself scrapping with the competition for a low margin market they aren't even sure they want. Outgoing CEO Paul Otellini understands the value of winning against ARM, but it remains to be seen if his successor shares his passion.
  • Google Now was first introduced last year as part of the Jelly Bean version of Android. Generally regarded as a more comprehensive alternative to Apple's Siri, the popular personal assistant feature was largely expected to hit iOS devices and Chrome sometime this year, but now new evidence suggests the search giant might be going for an even wider rollout as it bakes the functionality into the Google.com home page. References to the feature were spotted by the Google Operating System blog on a test page for the search engine containing several mentions scattered throughout the code, including the following introduction: "Get started with Google Now. Just the right information at just the right time." It's not clear how Google Now will look on desktops compared to the Android app, but the code suggests users will be able to set and edit their home and work locations as well as their current location, and customize what to display through the use of "cards" -- the service currently supports over 25 different card types, including friends' birthdays, restaurant reservations, boarding passes, news, events and so on. Bringing Google Now cards to the Google homepage would mark a stark departure from the minimalist approach the company has usually taken. That said, even if Google Now indeed makes it outside of the mobile landscape, we imagine the feature won't be forced upon all users but rather be presented an option for those who want a more customized experience -- sort of a modern version of the soon to be shut down iGoogle.
  • First, Apple took on Amazon's Kindle tablets with the launch of the iPad Mini. Amazon has been selling its Kindle Fire tablets at production costs hoping to make profits only through selling apps. Apple's iPad Mini did take away some of the sheen away from the Kindle tablets with record numbers being sold in the few months since its launch. Now, if rumors are to be believed, Microsoft is too planning a Window 8 Tablet that will take on the iPad Mini and the rumored Microsoft has been really slow in jumping onto the tablet production market and now it seems that Microsoft is finally showing some intent to breakthrough a market that is mostly dominated by Apple. Microsoft has finally dropped an official confirmation that it is indeed working on a tablet below 10 inches. The announcement revolutionizes on how we perceive Microsoft. Microst products have over the years been associated with products of 'an era gone by'. Now, with Windows 8 receiving mixed reviews, Microsoft has in its true essence managed to break a bit into the PC and tablet market again.
  • The Facebook fan page for Pittsburgh Tactical Firearm, the owner of which has been running a giveaway contest for an AR-15, has been inexplicably closed - along with a second page that the owner started as a replacement for the first. "I still don't know what's going on," gun shop owner Erik Lowry said in The Blaze. He noticed the page was shut three days ago after hundreds of the page's 27,000 followers called and emailed to ask what had happened. He tried to put up a replacement page, but that one was shut down, too, he said, in The Blaze. Mr. Lowry said he's since asked Facebook officials for an explanation - at least 100 times - but to no avail, The Blaze reported.
  • A recent AV-TEST study "Search Engines as Malware Providers", which involved over 40 million sites and spanned 18 months, concluded that Bing was responsible for delivering "five times as many websites containing malware as Google." Published on April 12, AV-TEST's findings did not prompt an immediate response from Microsoft despite their alarming nature. The software giant waited until April 19 to refute the German company's claim regarding the world's perennial number two search engine's affinity for malware. In a post on the official Bing blog Friday, the company responded by calling into question the technique deployed by AV-TEST for this study, arguing that the security research firm's results are not reflective of the actual threat posed to a real user, as it did not do any actual searching on Bing, but instead "used a Bing API to execute a number of queries and downloaded the result to their system for further analysis." "By using the API instead of the user interface, AV-TEST bypassed our warning system designed to keep customers from being harmed by malware," wrote David Felstead, Senior Development Lead, Bing,
  • Apple's so-called "iPhone mini" could grab 11% of the low-end smartphone market within its first year on the shelves. In the worst-case scenario, the budget iPhone could cannibalize about 30% of existing iPhone sales, according to AppleInsider. According to Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, Apple's low-cost iPhone is likely to launch in September with a price tag of around $300. This phone would carry a gross margin of 30% for Apple, compared to 55% for existing models. The budget iPhone's rumored release is being billed as a way to satisfy customers in developing nations who wish to spend less on smartphones. We've heard quite a bit about this phone over the past few months, including various concept designs.
  • Google Earth should come with a motion sickness warning: The virtual globe now supports Leap Motion's 3D motion controller. Users can swoop, dive, glide, and navigate the earth with simple hand gestures in the updated Google Earth 7.1, which rolled out today in celebration of Earth Day. Explorers will have to wait until next month, though, to begin flying around the globe since the Leap Motion Controller doesn't start shipping until May 13. "While you're flying around the globe, take a minute [to] zoom out to outer space," the Google Earth team said in a Google+ post. "We've updated the star field and Milky Way to bring added realism (and fun) to space exploration."

email from listeners:

  • Kris from LA asks "Will Google Glass be 3d, and will it fry my brain?"