Weekend news round-up: Apple’s cable deal, the coder generation

24 Mar 2014

CoderDojo co-founder James Whelton at Slane Castle last year

In our weekend news round-up: Apple deal with Comcast in negotiations, the CoderDojo revolution is in full flight, Target hack inspires a Hollywood movie, and it’s a Turkey shoot as PM takes aim at Twitter.

Apple gets its TV house in order

Apple may finally be nearing a breakthrough content deal for its Apple TV product, as well as striking a deal to ease web congestion, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The tech giant is in discussions with US cable giant Comcast.

“The discussions between the world’s most valuable company and the nation’s largest cable provider are still in early stages and many hurdles remain. But the deal, if sealed, would mark a new level of co-operation and integration between a technology company and a cable provider to modernise TV viewing.

“Apple’s intention is to allow users to stream live and on-demand TV programming and digital-video recordings stored in the ‘cloud’, effectively taking the place of a traditional cable set-top box.

“Apple would benefit from a cable-company partner because it wants the new TV service’s traffic to be separated from public internet traffic over the ‘last mile’ – the portion of a cable operator’s pipes that connect to customers’ homes, the people familiar with the matter say. That stretch of the internet tends to get clogged when too many users in a region try to access too much bandwidth at the same time.”

No ghost to give up at Apple

Continuing with Apple, The New York Times said that despite a book entitled Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs by Yukari I Kane suggesting the tech giant is on its knees in the vacuum following the death of co-founder Steve Jobs, it’s pretty much business as usual at the California company.

“The technology industry is brutal, and Apple, like any other company, could fail. But the fact that Apple has gone four years without some category-defining new product isn’t evidence that Apple has lost its way. Instead, it mainly proves that Apple under Mr (Tim) Cook is operating just like Apple under Mr Jobs.

“That should be reassuring to anyone who cares about the future of the company.”

The coder generation

The Guardian featured a charming interview with CoderDojo co-founder James Whelton and recounted how the coding classes have become a global phenomenon.

“Their success comes from working with a generation of children who have had access to computing since they were a young age, while at the same time not having to adhere to traditional classroom teaching structures,” said Whelton. Some of the measurements of the clubs’ successes are how previously insular or isolated children come out of their shells in the classes, he said.

“Screw creating the next Mark Zuckerberg. I want to see kids who become passionate about programming and go into medicine and politics, go into whatever field and use their skills to solve problems there and completely revolutionise it. I think that is infinitely more powerful to our society,” Whelton said.

Target hack inspires Hollywood movie

The Hollywood Reporter reported that the journalist who exposed the Target security breach is to be the subject of a major Hollywood movie.

“Sony has picked up the rights to The New York Times article ‘Reporting From the Web’s Underbelly,’ which focused on cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs. Krebs, with his site KrebsonSecurity.com, was the first person to expose the credit-card breach at Target that shook the retail world in December.

“Richard Wenk, the screenwriter who wrote Sony’s high-testing big-screen version of The Equalizer, is on board to write what is being envisioned as a cyberthriller inspired by the article and set in the high-stakes international criminal world of cybercrime.

Escape Artists’ Steve Tisch, Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal are producing, as are Todd Hoffman and Richard Arlook. David Bloomfield will executive produce.”

Wage-fixing cartel in Silicon Valley bigger than first thought

PandoDaily reported that Apple and Google’s notorious wage-fixing cartel involved dozens more companies and affected around 1m employees.

“Confidential internal Google and Apple memos, buried within piles of court dockets and reviewed by PandoDaily, clearly show that what began as a secret cartel agreement between Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s (now-chairman) Eric Schmidt to illegally fix the labour market for hi-tech workers, expanded within a few years to include companies ranging from Dell, IBM, eBay and Microsoft, to Comcast, Clear Channel, Dreamworks, and London-based public relations behemoth WPP.

“All told, the combined workforces of the companies involved totals well over a million employees.”

It’s a Turkey shoot as PM bans Twitter

The Washington Post has reported that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strengthened his Twitter ban by instituting an IP-level block against the social network.

“When the block was first implemented, most internet service providers appeared to be using DNS redirects to show users inside Turkey a page citing various court orders Twitter had not responded to as justification for the ban. DNS, or the domain name system, is sort of like a phone book for the internet – it translates a URL into the numbers of IP addresses so browsers can access the internet. Local ISPs were essentially changing the record in their digital phone books and redirecting many people in Turkey who were attempting to access Twitter to a different destination.

“But this redirection could be circumvented by changing the record manually and relying on a different DNS server. In Turkey, many users turned to public DNS servers, including some operated by Google – in fact, the records for those DNS servers ended up in protest graffiti widely shared online. But earlier Saturday, the local Hurriyet Daily News reported that most, if not all, DNS options were blocked – including Google’s.

“And now, researchers are reporting that Twitter is blocked at the IP level within Turkey.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years