Weekend news round-up

30 Aug 2010

A quick glance at some of the technology stories breaking in the weekend press

Irish kids will have to ‘nerd up’

The Sunday Independent carried an interesting report on the jobs we’ll need for the future and the unavoidable truth that kids will need to embrace their inner geek.

We can’t compete with China or India for cheap labour — so our teenagers need to be nerded up. Bad skin and glasses should be positively encouraged

AT the moment they are just gawky youths in hoodies or Ugg boot-wearing bottle blondes with a taste for too much orange makeup — but today’s 15-year-olds will be the drivers of our economy in 2020… if they are pointed in the right career direction.

After the economic splatterfest, one can only hope that the jobs market in a decade will be vastly different to the current mess with its near 14 per cent unemployment rate. It certainly looks as if careers in auctioneering, hotels, commercial property development and financing and other property-related pursuits may be a bust as we switch to building wind farms or horsing out thousands of new iPhone apps.

Did CAO hackers get access to private data?

The Sunday Tribune reported that the hackers who attacked the CAO website the very week that students were awaiting their college places may have accessed people’s private data, including details of candidates’ names, CAO application numbers and birthdates, may have been obtained by those behind last week’s cyber attack, the Sunday Tribune understands.

While the CAO maintained it has a “very high level of confidence” that “none of the malicious attacks” which caused its system to temporarily shut down got through to its detailed database, it issued some 22,000 applicants with new passwords following a second wave of attacks on the site last Wednesday.

The CAO’s operations manager, Joseph O’Grady, confirmed that ordinarily, any individual seeking to reset their password via the website would have to enter their CAO application number, date of birth and their email address.

This suggests that whoever masterminded the cyber attack could have had access to this information, as otherwise they would not have been able to force the website to issue new passwords.

Newspaper scales back to go digital

The New York Times reported that innovative newspaper USA Today is to focus more heavily on its digital operations. It said the history of USA Today is full of firsts for the newspaper business: the first general-interest national paper of its kind, the first to use color widely in charts and photographs and once first in the number of copies printed each day. But lately the paper has lost its grip on the national media market. Its advertising revenue has collapsed. Its circulation has plunged — last year it forfeited its title as the nation’s most widely circulated newspaper on weekdays to The Wall Street Journal.

Faced with this dour reality, USA Today announced on Friday the most extensive reorganisation in its 28-year history. The paper will eliminate about 130 jobs, or 9 percent of its work force, and shift its business model away from the print edition that has become ubiquitous in airports, hotels and newsstands across the country.

The paper’s focus will now be on its digital operations. It will emphasize breaking news on its Web site, aiming to post articles within 30 minutes of a breaking news event. It will create a stand-alone sports edition called USA Today Sports. And it will shift more of its resources toward making content more available in digital form, an effort to win a larger share of the tablet and mobile phone news market.

Is the Earth just six degrees from annihilation?

The Sunday Tribune carried an apocalyptic glimpse into the future and explored the various doomsday scenarios for the world if the world’s temperature rises just six degrees. In a report entitled ‘Six Degrees from Annihilation’ the story reported how the planet is running a dangerous fever. The first six months of 2010 (which includes the prolonged cold snap in Europe and parts of the US) is now officially the hottest half-year since records began. In fact, the 11 hottest years since accurate global recording began in 1880 have all been in the last 13 years.

Last month’s ‘State of the Climate’ report from the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration states that global warming is, quite simply “undeniable”. If at this stage you find yourself still doubting climate science, you may also want to re-think whether evolution, plate tectonics and atomic theory may also be elaborate hoaxes, since these too are scientific theories developed, tested, challenged and reappraised by thousands of professionals in the field over decades.

Google continues on social networking splurge

The New York Times reported how Google continues to expand its social expertise with the acquisition of Angstro, a small social networking start-up.

Angstro builds apps to easily exchange information among social services across the Web, pulling in data from social sites including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Its co-founder, Rohit Khare, said in a blog post on Friday that he had joined Google, presumably to work on a rumored social network project. Google, which is staying mum about its social ambitions, confirmed the acquisition and hiring of Mr. Khare but would not comment on which product he would be working on.

“While our work here may be done, the struggle for open, interoperable social networks is still only just beginning, and I’m looking forward to working on that in my new role at Google,” Mr. Khare wrote.

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