Short Takes: December 24, 2013

Short Takes: December 24, 2013

An often irreverent look at this very short week's other news

An often irreverent look at this very short week's other news, including a holiday respite, Paul Allen's latest real estate deal, Samsung phones with security troubles, Microsoft's Nokia deal runs into a snag in China, and Edward Snowden declares "mission accomplished." Hey, nothing bad after happened after saying that.

Time off for good behavior?

Just a heads-up that I'll be taking the holiday week off and that I will return on Monday, January 6, 2014. WinInfo will resume January 2, 2014. Off course, "off" is relative. I'll still be working on my books and will post to the SuperSite for Windows here and there. Happy holidays! --Paul

Fun headline of the week: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen sells private island for $8 million

You just can't make this stuff up. While most of us are concerned about mortgage payments or rent, Microsoft co-founder has slightly ... different ... concerns. But fear not, he removed one area of stress from his life this week, selling a private island in northwestern Washington State for $8 million. Which seems like a perfectly reasonable sum. For an island. Plus, it was on the market for 9 years and Allen originally was asking $20 million for it. I just hope he has other islands to fall back on.

Security researchers say Samsung handsets are ... gasp ... vulnerable

It will perhaps surprise absolutely no one that Android phones, as the successor to Windows PCs as the mass market personal computing devices of choice, are vulnerable to attack thanks to their open nature and massive popularity. And it will surprise perhaps just a few less of you that Samsung, as the world's largest maker of both Android handsets and smart phones overall, is itself a bit of a security black hole. At least that's the word from cybersecurity researchers at Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who say that the firm's best-selling device, the Galaxy S4, ships with a vulnerability that could allow malicious software to track emails and record data communications. If that doesn't sound like familiar language to you, then you weren't even sort of paying attention to PC news over the past 15 years. Make no mistake: Android is the new Windows. And this is the dark side of that success.

Microsoft's purchase of Nokia hits snag in China: They're not interested in real competition

With all of the world's major antitrust agencies signing off on Microsoft's purchase of the good parts of Nokia, it seems that the software giant is steamrolling towards it's ... wait, what? You say China, that bastion of good business due diligence is doing what now? According to a report in the Global Times, China's Ministry of Commerce is taking "a more prudent approach than usual" when it comes to approving Microsoft's purchase of Nokia. Apparently, Chinese mobile phone makers such as Lenovo, Xiaomi, and ZTE have raised concerns about the transaction because it could result in them paying higher patent licensing fees on each handset they sell. And no, not because of Microsoft: The company that will go forward as Nokia is retaining its patents and is considering monetizing them better. I'll allow the reader to mull over the irony and hypocrisy of the Chinese government trying to protect foreign companies from forcing them to actually pay for anything, but I will say this: What these companies are really afraid of is competition on equal footing. Period.

Edward Snowden: "Mission accomplished"

Uber-leaker Edward Snowden this week said in an interview with the Washington Post that he's "already won" in his battle against Washington D.C. secret mongers because of public outrage against the NSA. And yes, he really did use the "mission accomplished" language, which shows he doesn't understand irony. "For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished," he said. I'm just happy to see the guy doesn't use a Mac. Because outside of Hollywood, the good guys use PCs.

But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and the Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. And check out my free e-books, Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8, Paul Thurrott’s Xbox Music, and the currently in-progress "Windows 8.1 Book," which I'm now writing—and publishing as we go—with Rafael Rivera.

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