Lately, the Heartbleed bug has been wreaking havoc on the Internet. Has your Facebook or Twitter account been affected? In this edition, read about updates on Microsoft and SAP’s Cloud ambitions. Also, get to know about some offbeat applications of technology, from taking pictures with contact lenses, to news editing robots.
The heart bleeds
Last week, the IT world got a very nasty wakeup call; an emergency security advisory from the OpenSSL project warning about an open bug called "Heartbleed." "It's probably the worst bug the Internet has ever seen," said Matthew Prince, CEO of website-protecting service CloudFlare. The bug exploits a built-in feature of OpenSSL called heartbeat, and could be used to pull a chunk of working memory from any server running their current software.
The Verge reports that Canada's taxpayers may be the first victims of the Heartbleed bug. According to the Canada Revenue Agency, 900 Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) were stolen by hackers exploiting the security vulnerability. The catastrophic bug that has already bitten Yahoo Mail, the Canada Revenue Agency, and other public websites also poses a formidable threat to end-user applications and devices, including millions of Android handsets, security researchers warned.
The drones are coming
Earlier we had reported on Amazon’s investment in drones, now Google has acquired solar-powered drone maker Titan Aerospace to ramp up plans to deliver wireless Internet access to remote parts of the world. The 20-person company will remain in New Mexico for the foreseeable future. The deal furthers Google's efforts to deliver Internet access to remote regions of the world.
Google's acquisition of Titan comes several weeks after rival Facebook announced plans to build solar-powered drones and satellites capable of beaming Internet access to underdeveloped parts of the world. A few weeks before Google’s announcement, press reports said that Facebook was in discussions to acquire Titan.
Google’s modular mobile
Google has launched the Project Ara development, where the plan is to create a "grayphone" – a barebones, customizable exoskeleton that initially comes with little more than a screen, a frame and a WiFi radio. The devices should only cost US$50 and would sold at convenience stores. From there, users would be able to customize their device however they want. These additional pieces would be sold as a small square or rectangular block, called a module, which can be slid into and out of a phone's skeleton depending on what its owner wants and needs — Google is even expecting to see some nontraditional cellphone parts pop up, such as an incense burner, according to the Verge.
Google has also invented a new smart contact lens with an integrated camera. The camera would be very small and sit near the edge of the contact lens so that it doesn’t obscure your vision. By virtue of being part of the contact lens, the camera would naturally follow your gaze, allowing for a huge range of possible applications, from the basis of a bionic eye system for blind and visually impaired people, through to early warning systems (the camera spots a hazard before your brain does), facial recognition, and superhuman powers (telescopic and infrared/night vision).
Transformation at Microsoft
Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella is making swift changes. First, he announced Office for iPad, releasing a touch version of Office for Apple’s tablet before Microsoft had a touch version of Office for Windows. Then during Build, Microsoft’s conference for developers, Microsoft announced that Windows would be free for all devices with 9-inch or smaller screens. Basically, Windows is free to tablet- and phone-makers, just as Android is free to device-makers. In between those two announcements, Nadella enacted a mini-reorganization at Microsoft, shuffling the executive ranks.
Effective April 3, Microsoft also renamed its Windows Azure public cloud platform to Microsoft Azure. This is part of an overall transformation into a "devices and services" company, according to the Register.
SAP goes Cloud
SAP is putting its entire business applications suite online and selling the lot through subscription. The on-premise giant last week announced SAP Business Suite via the SAP Hana Enterprise Cloud service. Underpinning the service is Hana, SAP’s in-memory database technology. Subscriptions are a huge deal for SAP. The world's largest maker of business software became a multi-billion dollar business by charging customers hefty license fees to buy its software and then to receive ongoing maintenance and periodic updates, according to the Register.
A robot editor-in-chief
There's something a little different about the editor for The Guardian's new monthly US print edition: there isn't one! Set to launch Wednesday, #Open001 is being created using a proprietary algorithm rather than people. The 5,000 paper run will be available for free at several advertising agencies.
Articles are selected from the paper's online edition, based on how they performed on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. This isn't even the first time The Guardian has replaced people with our digital overlords. It's already putting out a weekly print edition in London called "Good Long Read" using the same algorithm.