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March 11th, 2014
07:22 PM ET

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Passport Mystery Solved

Authorities have identified the two passengers who used stolen passports to travel on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Both are Iranian men. Neither is believed to have any terror link, easing initial fears that foul play could be behind the plane's disappearance.

Earlier in the day, Malaysian officials identified the first passenger as 19-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, who they believe was trying to emigrate to Germany.

But why were stolen passports used on the missing airliner? And how deep is the airport security flaw it exposes?

Earlier, I talked to Phil Robertson, Deputy Director Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. He contextualizes why Mehrdad would use a stolen passport to reach Germany.

Robertson says that after the Green Revolution in Iran, “There were many Iranians who fled to Malaysia. Malaysia is a country where you can get visa-free entry for many Middle East passports. And so a significant number of asylum seekers from Iran did end up in Malaysia."

As for what the incident says about airport security and screening in Malaysia, Robertson says, "It's very interesting. I was a bit surprised to see people with stolen passports elude security at the Malaysia airport. That's one of the more effective and efficient airports in Southeast Asia."

Click on to hear more from Robertson including his thoughts on whether the two men were part of a human smuggling operation, and the thriving trade for stolen passports in Southeast Asia.

March 7th, 2014
02:22 PM ET

Who is the brains behind Bitcoin?

The original paper that proposed Bitcoin is credited to a "Satoshi Nakamoto."

It was widely assumed to be a pseudonym for the team of coders behind the virtual currency.

But then, came this - a blockbuster Newsweek cover story, written by Leah McGrath Goodman, that names Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto as "the mystery man behind the crypto-currency."

The report has generated a lot of controversy, especially among members of the Bitcoin community who say the evidence is insufficient and circumstantial.

And since the revelation, Mr. Nakamoto himself has denied any link to the virtual currency.

So is he truly the brains behind Bitcoin?

That was the first question I posed to Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman…

February 26th, 2014
02:20 PM ET

Outrage in Hong Kong after editor attack

There is shock and outrage in Hong Kong after the brutal stabbing of a veteran newspaper editor.

Kevin Lau, a journalist in Hong Kong known for his tough reporting on China, is fighting for his life after a knife attack by an unknown assailant.

Last month, Lau was sacked as the editor of the Ming Pao newspaper, stirring public outcry about press freedom in Hong Kong.

Many of Lau's supporters feared his departure reflected Beijing's efforts to limit press freedom and influence independent media in semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

After the knife attack, Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung was quick to condemn the violence.

Meanwhile, journalists are stunned that such an attack would take place in Hong Kong - an international media hub that has supported free reporting across the political spectrum.

Click on to hear the concerned reaction from journalist Tara Joseph, the President of the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong.

February 26th, 2014
08:26 AM ET

Samsung on "cruise control" with GS5, but shines with Gear Fit

Samsung's latest flagship smartphone is out. The reviews are in. And the reaction is...

Meh.

"What you're seeing here is a Samsung that's very much on cruise control," says Chris Ziegler, deputy managing editor of The Verge.

"It's an evolution of the S4, not a whole new phone. There were some of us who were hoping they would take a little bit of a leap here, go to an aluminum body, maybe a new user interface, but really it's just an evolved S4."

Compared to its predecessor, the S5 has a bigger screen, a better camera and a faster processor.

There's also a fingerprint sensor built into the home button, just like what you find in the iPhone 5s.

But one big change in the Galaxy S5: there's a built-in heart rate sensor. Does that score points for Samsung?

"The fact that they included a heart rate sensor in the GS5 really isn't surprising when you consider fitness is a buzzword in mobile now," Ziegler tells me.

Along with the Galaxy S5, Samsung unveiled three smartwatches at the Mobile World Congress – the Samsung Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo, and the Gear Fit.

For Ziegler and his fellow editors at the Verge, the slender and form-fitting Gear Fit stole the limelight at the big reveal in Barcelona.

 "Of the new smartwatches that they showed yesterday, that would be the winner for sure," says Ziegler.

Click on for the full interview.

February 21st, 2014
09:44 AM ET

What's the big deal with WhatsApp?

So Facebook purchases the mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock.

And the world raises a collective eyebrow.

Yes, the app has over 450 million monthly active users. But is it truly worth it?

According to Silicon Valley insider Om Malik, the answer is yes... if you're Mark Zuckerberg.

Malik tells me, "What seems like an insane amount of money is not insane when you feel a little worried about the long-term prospects of the company."

Click on to hear more about why Facebook forked up so much money for WhatsApp, and to see how the app's key metrics compare to its rivals.

February 6th, 2014
01:59 PM ET

Cybersecurity not "only for the nerds"

You might not worry a lot about cybersecurity, but it's an issue that affects everyone online.

Militaries and governments see cyberattacks as serious threats.

Businesses and individuals can be impacted by data theft. In fact, just last month, 20 million South Koreans had their personal data stolen in a colossal breach.

Why is this happening? And how can we protect ourselves?

I recently spoke with P.W. Singer, Director of The Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution. He's also co-author of the newly released book, "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What everyone needs to know."

Singer says one factor behind the wave of recent major data breaches is something he calls the "Cybersecurity Knowledge Gap." It refers to political and business leaders tasked with managing cybersecurity but are themselves not cyber-literate.

"This gap is across the board," says Singer." And it's because we have an attitude that - as one White House official said - this is a domain 'only for the nerds.'"

"But we're all on cyberspace, we all depend on it, so we can't treat it as an issue for the I.T. crowd."

In a time of rising security breaches, cyberweapon development, and cyber-exposure as more devices get online, Singer is calling for a fundamental shift in attitude to embrace better "cyber hygiene."

"We teach our kids regular hygiene not just to protect themselves but everyone else they connect with during the day," he says.

"We need the same attitude when it comes to cyber hygiene and our collective responsibility at the global level all the way down to individual citizens and netizens."

It may start with updating your password or upgrading your firewall - just one step forward and away from an age of rising cyber insecurity.

February 5th, 2014
09:36 AM ET

Zuck: Facebook's code to success

Ten years ago, only students at Harvard University could use "The Facebook."

Today, Facebook has more than 1.2 billion monthly active users and, according to Alexa, is the second most popular website in the world after Google.

So how did the social platform achieve such incredible success?

Founder Mark Zuckerberg offered this insight (on Facebook, of course): "We just cared more about connecting the world than anyone else. And we still do today."

But "The Facebook Effect" author David Kirkpatrick goes one step further, crediting Zuckerberg himself for the company's stellar performance.

Kirkpatrick, then a journalist with Fortune magazine, first met Zuckerberg in September 2006 at a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.

"He walked in and I said to myself, 'I'm wasting my time. He's so young. He's a baby,'" Kirkpatrick recalls. "But then he opened his mouth and I started listening to what he said and it was so extraordinarily big picture, long-term, visionary, and confident.

"I realized I seldom heard anyone with such a big picture, positive, and long-term view of what he engaged in. And it made me confident he would have extraordinary success."

January 31st, 2014
03:35 AM ET

Saving Nintendo

Nintendo is in trouble.

It's hard to disagree with that after it slashed its forecast for Wii U sales from 9 million to just 2.8 million. Less dramatic but perhaps just as troubling: It also cut its forecast for its market-leading 3DS handheld. Nintendo now expects to sell 13.5 million of them, down from the 18 million they originally expected.

But what's up for debate is how Nintendo can climb out of this hole. By far the most common solution suggested: Nintendo should put games like Mario and Zelda on smartphones and tablets.

I disagree.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Games • General • Personal musings • Technology
January 29th, 2014
02:04 PM ET

Beijing ups the pressure on foreign media

Just last month in Beijing, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden lamented the lack of press freedom in China.

Despite such high-profile criticism, Beijing has increased its pressure on foreign correspondents in China.

China is refusing to renew a visa for New York Times reporter Austin Ramzy, the second Times reporter in 13 months to be forced out of the country.

It follows what the paper says is "the latest sign of official displeasure" with their 2012 report on the vast wealth of then-premier Wen Jiabao's family.

Is the visa holdup payback for critical coverage of China's political elite?

"It will certainly feed suspicion that it's retribution for the content of their coverage," says Peter Ford, President of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China and Beijing Bureau Chief for the Christian Science Monitor.

For more on the various ways China is putting the pressure on foreign correspondents, watch the video report above.

January 27th, 2014
10:36 PM ET

She made the Macintosh smile

happymac

Anyone with an older Mac probably knows this icon: A boxy all-in-one computer with a simple smiling face on screen.

Like all good symbols, the Happy Mac serves multiple purposes. The official reason it exists is to tell you that your Macintosh has begun the process of booting up without error.

More than that, the Happy Mac was a symbol of intent from Apple: This computer is friendly. It doesn't have an impenetrable interface filled with text you don't understand. The Mac has pictures. And it's smiling at you!

Susan Kare was the graphic designer who created the Happy Mac. She spoke to us about the process behind that and many of the other icons that made the original Macintosh so different to any computer before it.

FULL POST

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