Tech Retrospect: Heartbleed causes heartburn and Windows XP gets put to pasture
Miss a few stories this week? We'll bring you up to speed with this rundown of all the tech news.
Not a great week for Internet security, dear readers, which means it hasn't been a good week for those of us who use the Internet. The Heartbleed bug has been uncovered, which is basically a flaw on many secure Internet servers that allows other computers to access data that's supposed to be kept private. (The Webcomic xkcd has a great graphic showing how it works.) The good news is it isn't a virus or anything that you have to worry about on your personal computer.
The bad news is that this vulnerability been around for about two years now, and it still isn't entirely clear whether it was widely exploited. We did compile a long list of the top 100 sites, indicating which were vulnerable and which were fixed. Take a gander over there, but regardless we'd recommend you use this as an excuse over the weekend to change your passwords. Yes, all of them.
The fact that this bug is a part of OpenSSL, an open source security library, has caused the age-old debate about the sanctity of community code to flare up again. For his part, though, Robin Seggelmann, the one responsible for contributing the bug, says the fact that it was found and fixed shows the value of open source. Regardless of where it comes from, so long as code is written by human beings it's going to have faults. When it isn't written by human beings, hopefully that means we're all off having a grand vacation while the machines run the shop.
Samsung Galaxy S5 ships
If you're ready to explore another Galaxy, your time has come. Samsung has shipped the Galaxy S5 to most major markets around the world. Here in the US, most carriers have it priced at $200 on-contract and between $600 and $650 off, though Verizon is offering it as part of its buy-one-get-one deal. (Check out our full run-down of prices and availability.) We of course have a full review for your reading pleasure, and even a GS5 FAQ for those with more pointed questions. If you're looking for something a little more terse: it's a great phone in most regards and a nice upgrade over the GS4, but hardly groundbreaking.
T-Mobile gives tablet users free data
Big Magenta keeps on trying to upend the wireless industry, this time offering free data for LTE tablet users. This time, though, it's only a limited-time offer. Current postpaid users can add an LTE tablet to their plan for no charge, and T-Mobile will throw in 1.2GB of monthly data. Next year they'll have to start paying $10 monthly for the privilege, which is still a pretty good deal.
Dropbox launches two new products, gets hit with social media protest
It was an unusually big week for Dropbox, the cloud storage company that's lost some of its buzz in the wake of iCloud and Google Drive. The company unveiled two new major apps, the first being Carousel, an online photo album that syncs across all your devices -- just like Dropbox already does. The other is Project Harmony, which enables in-application document syncing and collaboration for things like Word documents and PowerPoint presentations.
So where does the social media protest come in? At the same time, Dropbox announced proudly that former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has joined the company's board of directors. The move was an attempt to raise the global awareness of the service (Rice was, above all, a diplomat), but many users rebelled, citing her perceived support for warrantless wiretaps. When your business involves consuming and aggregating the private files of your users, it's reasonable to think they might be sensitive about such things. Still, it remains to be seen whether the #DropDropbox movement will make a significant impact, or be just a blip in the long run.
Windows XP is dead, long live Windows
It's the end of the road for Windows XP. Microsoft shipped its last batch of updates for the silver-haired OS and said that's the end -- unless you're a big corporation willing to pay big bucks for ongoing support. The OS will keep on running like before, so if you're still rocking it old-school you don't have anything to worry about right now. But, should a major vulnerability or exploit be discovered in XP (a state that is sadly quite likely), you're on your own.
Microsoft would like for you to upgrade to Windows 8, of course, and as part of that incentive released Windows 8.1 Update to the world. It is a nicer, tidier version of the touch-friendly operating system, intended to make the experience a bit more palatable for traditional keyboard and mouse users. It still won't be quite as intuitive as XP for many users, but it's certainly a lot more secure.