Tech Retrospect: A new Surface and another major hack

Microsoft unleashed the Surface Pro 3, and it's indeed better than before. Also, eBay got hacked, and a dude walked on the ceiling. Here's your week in review.

Is the third time the charm? That's the question many were asking after this week's launch of the Surface Pro 3, the third major iteration in Microsoft's solution for your post-PC lifestyle. The new Surface is thinner, lighter, faster, yet comes with a bigger screen -- 12 inches, with a 2,160x1,440 resolution. A new Type Cover has a significantly improved trackpad, and the overall experience is far more polished.

But it's still very much a Surface, and nothing has changed significantly enough to really make people rethink the franchise. It's a great device, very well-made and precision-crafted. But if the previous iterations didn't do it for you, I'm not convinced this one will. You can read more on my take if you like; check out the comprehensive review from CNET's Dan Ackerman; and, if you're keen, go ahead and order yours. They start at $799.

Surface Pro 3
Sarah Tew

Oh, and if you were looking forward to a Surface Mini, you weren't alone. Rumors are that it was pulled just days before this week's press conference announcing the new Pro. Will it be seen in the future? We shall see.

eBay hacked, millions of accounts exposed

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eBay

Hey, remember that time when you changed all your passwords after the Heartbleed attack? Well, funny story -- it's time to do it again. Well, for your eBay account, anyway. The company announced this week that its servers had been accessed by hackers, exposing the personal information of 145 million accounts. The bad news? They gained access to home addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and passwords. The good news? They did not get bank information or credit card numbers, and those passwords were encrypted. However, that doesn't mean they're safe forever, so you know what to do.

Watered-down Freedom Act passes

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Image via C-SPAN

The overwhelming power of the NSA, as allowed by the Patriot Act, was to finally be toned down by the so-called Freedom Act, which would among other things restrict broad, bulk data collection. This week the Freedom Act passed, but the organizations that had previously supported it pulled their support before its launch. Sadly, the bill had been significantly toned down, theoretically still preventing bulk collection, but littered with enough loopholes to allow plenty of opportunity for en masse sweeps. It's another step in the right direction, but a disappointingly small one.

Google becomes world's most valuable brand

Google

In a development that got pundits frothing but had little impact in the real world, Google was donned most valuable brand in the world by Millward Brown, a research company that loves stimulating debates such as these. Big G was valued at $159 billion worldwide, trumping Apple, which now slots in at $148 billion. Millward pinned the success on Google's experimentation in a variety of product categories. IBM still ranks third, while Microsoft clicked in at No. 4.

440,000 Nest Protect smoke alarms recalled

Nest Protect
The Nest Protect Lindsey Turrentine/CNET

I'm sorry to report that Nest's attempt at creating a smart smoke alarm is coming across as a bit remedial, if you ask the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. All 440,000 Protects sold have been officially recalled. The problem relates to the "wave" feature, which lets you disable the alarm simply by waving your hand. Turns out, people might just be waving their hands in the case of a real emergency. Now, you don't have to actually return your fancy new detector. If you update it over Wi-Fi you're good to go. This recall, it seems, is to raise the profile of the issue and to encourage everyone to do the same. So, if you haven't yet, now would be a very good time -- after you change your eBay password, that is.

There was also talk of Google selling ads that would display on the Nest thermostat, but that unsavory suggestion was quickly batted down by Nest CEO Tony Fadell. Thank goodness.

Merriam-Webster gets a slew of techie terms

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Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Concerned about the gradual degradation of the human language by an onslaught of tech terms? You might want to skip down. Merriam-Webster has announced a series of new entries including, wait for it, "selfie," "tweep," "hashtag," and "crowdfunding." Times crossword puzzlers, prepare yourselves.

DIY Magneto shoes let normal man walk on ceiling

Finally, since it's time for a little more X-Men action in theaters this week, I leave you with this video of a man walking on the ceiling in DIY Magneto shoes. Why, you ask? Why not, I say. Have yourselves a lovely weekend.

 

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