Weekend news roundup: Curiosity’s software update, Netflix CEO buys Facebook shares, Google Doodle creators

13 Aug 2012

The head of the mast on the Curiosity rover. Image by NASA

In our trawl through some of the technology news from the weekend, NASA is updating software on its Mars Curiosity rover, Netflix’s CEO buys US$1m in Facebook shares, India’s government moves to the cloud, Google Doodle creators are revealed, and more.

Curiosity rover gets ‘over the air’ software update on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars recently, is receiving a long-distance software update the US space agency is calling ‘a brain transplant’, TechRadar reported.

The computers on Curiosity have been equipped with software tuned to landing on the planet’s surface, but the new software update will enable the rover to explore.

The upgrade activates the robotic arm and will include improved image processing software to help Curiosity avoid oncoming objects.

The software update, which is occurring during a series of steps that began Friday, is due to be completed today.

Netflix CEO buys US$1m in Facebook shares

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has given a thumbs-up to Facebook by buying about US$1m  of its stock, the Press Association reported.

Facebook’s stock has fallen nearly 45pc since it first sold public shares to investors at US$38 in May. It was one of the most-anticipated IPOs, but investors have been questioning its ability to keep increasing its revenue.

Purchases by company executives or directors are typically considered a vote of confidence in the company. Hastings is Facebook board member.

A regulatory document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission recently shows Hastings bought nearly 48,000 shares at US$21.03 each.

India’s government to move critical data to cloud

India’s central government is to migrate critical information infrastructure on the cloud at a time when private enterprises are still coming to grips with cloud computing, The Economic Times reports.

India’s department of information technology is planning to set up a national cloud-based network that connects all state data centres, which would make that the backbone of national e-governance plan, which when completed would deliver government business services to citizens via the internet.

In effect, each of the 28 states and seven union territories will now have a private cloud of their own. The department of IT has invited proposals from companies like HP, IBM, Cisco and Dell to set up and maintain private clouds in each state. The move may cost the centre less than Rs 100 crore, and will help the exchequer prevent wastage of money on duplication of resources.

Microsoft to patch 14 vulnerabilities

Microsoft said it will patch at least 14 vulnerabilities next week, including four in Internet Explorer (IE), making it three months in a row that the company has plugged holes in its browser, PC World reported.

Of the nine updates set for 14 August, five will be labelled ‘critical,’ the most serious of the four ratings Microsoft uses. The other four will be pegged ‘important,’ the next-lower threat ranking.

In the advanced notification of this week’s updates, Microsoft outlined patches for Exchange, the email server software used by most companies, and SQL Server, the database that runs many corporations’ internal and external processes, including powering websites and providing workers with everything from business intelligence to financial information.

Who’s behind the Google Doodles?

A handful of ‘doodlers’ who sit in a small office in California are the brains behind the artistic “doodles” that occasionally replace the Google logo on the internet search giant’s homepage, BBC News reported.

Some of the Doodles, which are seen by millions of internet users, are put together in a few hours. Others can take several months to complete.  

The team’s “creative lead”, Ryan Germick, says he doesn’t dwell on the idea of his work being viewed by such a mind-boggling number of people.

“Human brains are not built to understand how hundreds of millions of people interpret something. For me it’s more about seeing if I can make my colleagues laugh, or learn a new technique. Then I’ve done my job.

“We just make sure we are representing art and technology in the best possible way.”

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