Weekend takeaway: 10 tech stories you need to read right now

6 Feb 2015

Ten nuggets of knowledge to take away for the weekend, including GCHQ cyber snooping has been declared unlawful, Twitter CEO to slay the trolls, and nerdy image puts girls off computing.

1. GCHQ’s snooping on UK citizens entirely unlawful – tribunal

The UK’s Government Communications Headquarters’ (GCHQ) snooping on citizens using information passed down from the US National Security Agency (NSA) was entirely unlawful, according to a tribunal.

The UK’s Investigative Powers Tribunal (IPT), established to allow people to come forward and reveal instances where they believed their government was unlawfully monitoring their own private communications, passed down the judgment.

2. Girls put off computing by nerdy, geeky image, says Google global prize winner

Irish software research centre Lero has won a global prize from Google for its innovative approach to teaching girls from 14 years of age how to code.

3. Twitter CEO says it’s time to take action and slay the trolls

In fairy tales, trolls hide under bridges, in the 21st century, they haunt the bottom half of the internet, lurk behind social media profiles, and generally cause distress. And Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has had enough.

4. Marketers can’t measure return on investment from social media (infographic)

The majority of Irish marketers say they can’t measure a return on investment from social media. Twitter has emerged as the most effective social media marketing platform, while Facebook has the numbers.

5. Ireland excels at manufacturing and education in Global Innovation Index

Ireland is No 2 in the world for manufacturing and sixth for education, according to the latest Bloomberg Global Innovation Index. Overall, Ireland is ranked 21st in the world for innovation.

6. Emotive robot helpers could soon be roaming care homes

A team of researchers has developed its first prototype of a helper robot that could assist the elderly and infirmed people, as well as show emotion and empathy.

7. IBM’s Watson gets an upgrade to understand speech and recognise objects

IBM’s Watson supercomputer has five new strings to its powerful digital bow after it received its latest upgrade, which includes text-to-speech and visual recognition.

8. US Navy robot SAFFiR could soon be firefighting on the seven seas

The US Navy could soon be sending humanoid robots into the battlefield after recent tests proved successful on its firefighting robot.

9. Music labels get 73.1pc of payouts from streaming services while artists get almost zilch

Music labels get to keep 73.1pc of payouts from streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer, according to new figures from French music trade group SNEP, leaving very little for artists after tax.

10. First images of Pluto from New Horizons probe

It’s been a long time coming, but US space agency NASA’s New Horizons probe has returned its first photos of Pluto as the spacecraft made its approach from a distance of 203m km away.

Online food order image via Shutterstock

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