Autumn views


As we travel down the information superhighway, with the fall foliage season in all its glory, new stories in technology are unfolding—good, bad, sometimes ugly, but always colorful. For example…

Edward Snowden speaks about online security, or lack thereof, in technology products, and explains how encryption protects our freedom (good).

Microsoft shows a preview of Windows 10 (good?), while CEO Satya Nadella opens his mouth and inserts his foot (bad!).

Apple is poised to continue refreshing their product line, after an extremely successful iPhone 6 launch. Is there a surprise lurking in the company’s cryptic invitation to its October 16 event? (Could be very good.)

Meanwhile, an erstwhile Apple supplier, GT Advanced Technologies, is going bankrupt and may sue Apple (ugly).

These stories and more in this week’s post. We do the legwork, so you don’t have to.

Edward Snowden speaks…

There are many among us who think that Edward Snowden betrayed his country—the United States of America—when he leaked an enormous amount of classified data. Others claim Snowden is a patriot, alerting Americans that their government has been spying on them.Edward_Snowden-2

Either way, Snowden risked a great deal to take the actions he did. He’s currently in exile, a man without a country, living for the time being in Russia. In absentia, Snowden has had criminal charges, including espionage, filed against him by the U.S. government. He would certainly be arrested if he re-entered the U.S.

This week, Snowden was interviewed by the New Yorker as part of an annual event sponsored by the magazine.

Snowden ranged far and wide in the one-hour interview. Among his statements, Snowden said that encryption is good, and for those Americans who say they don’t need encryption because they have nothing to hide, “When you say, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ you’re saying, ‘I don’t care about this right.’ You’re saying, ‘I don’t have this right, because I’ve got to the point where I have to justify it.’ The way rights work is, the government has to justify its intrusion into your rights.”

The entire interview is worth a look.

Number 9 has gone missing

It’s no secret that, after the debacle that was Windows 8, Microsoft has been working furiously on the next version of Windows. Reportedly, the new operating system will be designated Windows 10. A technical preview is available for download.

WindowsCyan_WebThe number 9, apparently, is not enough of a break from the past, I’m guessing. Will number 10 be a charm?

Early indications are mixed, but Microsoft is reportedly restoring the Start button. What was old is new again, or something like that.

Open mouth, insert foot

Meanwhile, the purveyor of all things Microsoft, Satya Nadella, waxed philosophically at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference.

Unfortunately, he provided evidence that he may be out of touch when it comes to women’s concerns in the work place.Satya_Nadella

Moderator Maria Klawe, a computer scientist and president of Harvey Mudd College, asked Nadella for advice for women who were uncomfortable asking for a raise.

Here’s what he said: “It’s not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along. And that, I think might be one of the additional superpowers that quite frankly women who don’t ask for a raise have. Because that’s good karma, it’ll come back. Because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust, that’s the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to, and in the long term efficiency things catch up.”

It’s a superpower not to ask for a raise…ah…OK. Klawe told Nadella on stage that this was one of the few things she disagreed with him about. Apparently, so did many of the attendees at the conference. One female attendee was quoted as saying “I don’t believe in karma. Karma is not going to pay my rent.”

Nadella quickly backtracked, apologizing and admitting he answered the question completely wrong. Ya think?

What’s in store at Apple?

Apple aims to keeps its momentum going with an October 16 media event at its Cupertino headquarters. Rumor has it that the company will update its iPad line, but its only been a year since the last iterations of the iPad, the Air and the Mini with Retina Display.


So what might Apple be referring to in the cryptic invitation it sent out to industry and media representatives: “It’s been way too long…”?

New iMacs, a new Mac Mini, maybe a long-awaited update of its Apple TV? The company will be live-streaming the event, and I for one will be checking it out.

Two is the loneliest number

Speaking of Apple, as we’ve seen over the years, partnering with Apple can be fraught with challenges, but the payoff can be huge. Just ask Chinese company FoxConn, which manufactures the iPhone 6 (and its predecessors).

GT-Advanced-logoSo all was sweetness and light last November when GT Advanced Technologies signed an agreement with Apple to manufacture synthetic Sapphire for, at the time, mystery products to be named later.

Last week, less than a year later, GTAT said it is ready to pack it in. The company filed for bankruptcy and says it plans to shut down operations in its Arizona and Massachusetts plants.

In its filing with the courts, GTAT called the contract with Apple “oppressive and burdensome.” For its part, Apple said it was “surprised” at the GTAT filing, and said it would work with Arizona officials to preserve the jobs that could otherwise be lost by the bankruptcy.

There’s lots of speculation about what went wrong, but the most logical explanation is that GTAT could not deliver enough Sapphire, or delivered Sapphire that was not of sufficient quality, to be used in the recently released iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. Apple held back a planned payment, and this put GTAT over the edge.

Given that Apple has reportedly already sold 20 million of the new phones, that 20 million Sapphire screens that GTAT did not sell to Apple, leaving the company perhaps with a lot of useless inventory. That’s never good for a manufacturing company.

Hawks 1, Drones 0

No, that’s not the score of a minor league hockey game. It’s the result of a quad-copter drone invading the air space of what looks to be a red-tail hawk. And the entire, albeit brief, contest was captured by a camera mounted on the drone.hawk_attack

Hawks are notoriously protective of their air space, particularly mother hawks protecting their nests. Given that quad-copter drones are noisy and a bit ungainly, the hawk in question was having none of it.

You can check out the video on YouTube, here.

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