An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including yet another trip, Ello, Steve Ballmer's crusade against iPads, a new Blackberry, the FBI fears device encryption, and a new BASH exploit threatens UNIX like it's 1979.
Next week: San Francisco
Sometimes, it's just like this. I spend a week in Las Vegas, have a week of downtime at home, and then I'm off to San Francisco for Microsoft's Windows briefing early next week. It's going to be a busy couple of days with several meetings on Monday, the briefing and a live Windows Weekly appearance on Tuesday, and then back home early the next morning. So I don't see any big chances for a meet-up, though if anyone is interested in coming to Petaluma on Tuesday—Windows Weekly starts at 1pm PT—you are more than welcome. –Paul
"Ello is a new advert-free social network is aiming to recruit disgruntled Facebook users"
The catch? There are only 17 users.
Steve Ballmer replaces Clippers' iPads with Surfaces
You can take the Steve Ballmer out of Microsoft. But you can't take the Microsoft out of Steve Ballmer, apparently. The newly-minted owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team issued his first meaningful decision about the team: It's time to replace those terrible iPads and replace them with Windows-based Surface tablets. "Most of the Clippers [are on] Windows, some of the players and coaches are not," Mr. Ballmer told Reuters. "And [Clippers coach] Doc [Rivers] kind of knows that's a project. It's one of the first things he said to me: 'We are probably going to get rid of these iPads, aren't we?' And I said, 'Yeah, we probably are'." But Ballmer is classy enough to wait until the off-season: Given the Clippers' crazy season last year the last thing they need now are more distractions. Am I the only one missing this guy?
"The Week Microsoft Lost Relevancy"
If you had to guess about the reason that this happened this week, what would you guess? That it was because Microsoft paid the NFL for use Surface devices and some on-air announcers called them iPads? Probably not. Because that happened over three weeks ago.
New Blackberry is no Hail Mary Pass(port)
Blackberry announced a new smart phone handset this week. No, really. They did. And it's a passport-sized, um, Passport, a squarish phone with a hardware keyboard. But this phone isn't make or break for the company, and it knows that its future is in services, not hardware. So executives from the firm have said explicitly that if this one fails, which of course it will, Blackberry will simply cancel the device and move on. Which, when you think of it, isn't exactly the best way to advertise a new device. But then this is the company whose best news this year is a smaller-than-expected loss.
"Microsoft features Russell Wilson, Seahawks players in new Surface ad"
If I understand curses, that means he'll soon bow out with a season-ending injury.
The FBI is freaking out about always-on device encryption on iOS, Android
Which is how you know it's a great idea. According to an article in the Washington Post, FBI Director James Comey has reached out to Apple and Google to make its case for building controls into their smart phone systems that would allow law enforcement to break past device encryption with a warrant. Asked Comey, "why would these companies market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law?" So I think we can reach a happy middle ground here. Take away all that military gear that the US government basically gave local police departments. And you can have your back door.
New BASH exploit threatens safety of everything from Macs to ... well, Macs
A newly discovered bug in BASH, a command line shell that's been present in virtually every UNIX- and UNIX-like system since the late 1980's has security researchers in a tizzy. Nicknamed "shellshock" for what I assume are obvious reasons, the vulnerability gets a "10 out of 10" for severity, according to security researchers, and can allow an attacker to basically gain "full control over the target environment." So UNIXers are racing to fix the bug. But Apple says that "the vast majority" of its Mac users—which are using a UNIX-based OS X system—are "safe by default." And why wouldn't anyone trust Apple at this point?
But Wait, There's More
Buy the books!
I'm trying to change the book publishing model, and would appreciate your support: Windows 8.1 Field Guide is available directly from me for only $2 in PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats. And it is now available on Amazon Kindle for $4.99 too. I also have other free and inexpensive e-books available too, including Windows Phone 8 Field Guide (free from that site, or available from both Kindle and Nook too) and the in-progress Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide.