In the news: 5 tech news stories worth another look

Debbie Thomson

Debbie Thomson monitors technology industry developments and recaps five tech news stories from July 1-15 that stood out to her.

The first rule of Reddit? You don’t mess with its many loyal moderators.

Hundreds of the online message board’s most popular communities, or “subreddits,” were used to protest the mysterious firing of Victoria Taylor. Reddit’s ex-communications director was considered integral to the popularity of the “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) subreddit. As AMA’s administrator, she coordinated logistics for interviews that allowed users to ask questions of high-profile public figures.

Taylor’s departure was met with big time backlash: Moderators set their Reddit boards to private, barring users from entering. That’s a big deal for a site attracting 160 million visitors each month.

“It’s like getting to a theme park and having half the rides closed, and users are wondering just what on earth is going on,” Forbes reported.

CEO Ellan Pao took to Reddit with a brief apology that started with “We screwed up.” She later resigned, Mashable reported.

Perhaps Pao should have done an AMA — like her replacement, co-founder Steve Huffman.

What else made this round-up? Read on:

Practice patience

Are you patient? If you’re eagerly awaiting the launch of Windows 10, you’re about to find out.

Microsoft’s new operating system debuts on July 29. But the plan calls for a release “in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th,” Terry Myerson, the company’s executive vice president of operating systems, wrote in a July 2 blog post.

The first wave of recipients will be Microsoft’s five million Windows Insiders. How long everyone else has to wait is unknown.

According to CNET: “It seems, then, that Microsoft is hoping to continue fine-tuning Windows 10 as it gets out to the wider world, sticking initially to the safer embrace of the Windows Insiders who have been combing through and helping to spruce up each new test version.”

Technical difficulties

Shortly before noon on July 8, trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) came to a halt. Technical trouble, not a cyber-attack, caused the problem that lasted more than three hours.

According to SC Magazine, the NYSE rolled out a software release the night before.

“Customers began connecting after 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning and experienced communication issues between customer gateways and the trading unit that had the new release,” the report said. “The determination was that NYSE and NYSE MKT customer gateways were not loaded with the proper configuration compatible with the new release.”

United Airlines experienced internal technical difficulties, too.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in this New York Times video that neither incident appeared to result from a “nefarious actor.”

The music’s over

Going off the grid isn’t easy. And two fugitives found out the hard way — when their Spotify and Netflix accounts gave them away.

Yes, after seven months on the run, Colorado couple Peter Barr and Brittany Nunn were caught thanks to streaming music and movies. A search warrant enabled investigators to track the Spotify account to an IP address in Mexico, according to the Verge.

The couple’s whereabouts were soon determined. A package was traced to the husband and wife, enabling authorities to close in.

“It's a clever tactic and a reminder of how many modern services can quietly give away a user's location,” the report said.

A ‘small’ development

Take a good look at your fingernails. They’re the size of a new IBM creation: “the semiconductor industry’s first 7nm (nanometer) node test chips with functioning transistors.”

In everyday English, it is one of the world’s most powerful computer chips — perhaps the most powerful. It can house 20 billion transistors, and power everything from the smartphone to a spacecraft.

“Industry experts consider 7nm technology crucial to meeting the anticipated demands of future cloud computing and Big Data systems, cognitive computing, mobile products and other emerging technologies,” the IBM press release said.

The New York Times put the chip’s size in context: A strand of DNA is 2.5nm.

Development of the chip didn’t come cheap. It’s part of a $3 billion investment