Space exploration and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

As some of you may have noted, the weekly roundups in tech tend to focus on consumer technology and the sties that most people use. It’s because I think that as technology continues to pervade our lives, it is best to know what they are, what they do and what they could do. But every once in a while, I come across fringe technological advances that are literally the stuff of science fiction – these are the “whoa” moments. This blog has always been a way for me to keep track of those “whoa” and “a-ha” moments and share them.

I could, of course, once again remind you to keep your digital life secure as the Sony hack keeps on unravelling, which US officials believe to have originated from North Korea. Actually, let me do that again: if you can, always turn on two-factor authentication in any service that you use. Although, Apple’s two-factor authentication could be the death of your digital life if your account has been hacked and you lost your recovery key, according to this post from NextWeb.

As the Internet keeps on getting hacked, meanwhile in space, NASA emailed a wrench to astronauts in space. Or, to be precise, NASA emailed a digital file of what a wrench should be, which was then 3D printed in space. Also, Elon Musk’s SpaceX will attempt to land its Falcon 9 on an ocean platform to showcase precision landing capabilities. On that note, if you want to reflect on the bigger picture of what could be in space exploration, here’s a beautiful short film by Erik Wernquist, narrated by Carl Sagan.

“I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.” (Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, quoted in the film)

Wanderers – a short film by Erik Wernquist from Erik Wernquist on Vimeo.

Here are this week’s weekly roundup in tech and retail:

In tech:

  1. Global Internet authority ICANN gets hacked after employees gave up credentials in phishing attacks in November
  2. Apple news: BBC releases documentary on “intolerable” and “dangerous” conditions in Apple’s supply chain; Apple dodges $1B iPod antitrust class-action lawsuit
  3. Google news: Google moved its end-to-end email encryption tool to GitHub to encourage developer scrutiny; Google to release Android version for cars in 2015; Google condemns Project Goliath, a secret campaign from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to revive SOPA legislation
  4. Instagram deletes spam accounts and loses 18M+ followers; company is now valued at $35B by Citigroup
  5. Sony hack revelations: Snapchat has plans for a music feature, acquired QR scanning and iBeacon startup for $50M, Vergence Labs, maker of eyeglass video cam for $15M, and live video/voice app startup AddLive for $30M; Sony also cancelled global release of the movie “The Interview” following threats from the hackers

In retail:

  1. American Apparel fires its controversial CEO/founder Dov Charney and names Paula Schneider as the new CEO; shares surge as takeover speculations emerge
  2. Avon formally pleads guilty to bribing Chinese officials, will pay $135M
  3. Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Walmart to pay $188M in class-action lawsuit over workers’ compensations
  4. Amazon rolls out Prime Now delivery service in one zip code in New York, delivery could be as little as one hour
  5. Puma names Rihanna as the new creative director

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