Talking tech since 2003

You know what they say about the best-laid plans. We collected our top stories of the week this past Thursday so that we could complete the companion video by our Sunday deadline (it’ll be up a bit later this afternoon), and Friday wound up giving us a monster of a story in President Obama’s NSA speech. We also got some bad news from Nintendo on Friday, with the company cutting its sales forecasts for the Wii U by 70 percent. I encourage you to check both of those stories out.

Now, on to the Wrap-up.

Google Nabs Nest for $3.2 Billion in Cash

Google’s smart home cred just increased by several factors; the company announced this past week that it planned to acquire smart thermostat and smoke detector company Nest in a $3.2 billion, all-cash deal. There are a bunch of different angles you can examine this acquisition from, and from most of them, Google stands to benefit. The company puts itself in a position to collect even more information on Google users. It also brings some folks on board who know how to design good-looking products. And many of Nest’s employees once worked at Apple, so you know the acquisition has to have Cupertino all riled up.

Court Rules Net Neutrality Rules are Invalid

Net neutrality rules put in place by the FCC to ensure equal treatment of all Internet traffic are now in serious jeopardy. A court ruled this week that those rules were invalid, as the FCC was treating ISPs like Comcast and Verizon as “common carriers,” when, in actuality, they are not. So rules that apply to such carriers can not be enforced against those providing Internet access. This means a company like Comcast could give preferential treatment to one company’s Internet traffic over another company’s traffic. The FCC may have some other tools in the box that can keep the spirit of the rules in place, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.

edward-snowdenLeaked Snowden Documents Reveal Government Can Spy on Computers Using Radio

Your computer isn’t connected to the Internet, so the government can’t spy on it, right? Wrong. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, and the investigatory work of The New York Times, the government reportedly has the capability in place to monitor computers that aren’t even connected to the Internet. This is done using radio chips implanted into USB sticks and cables that are connected to the machines. The government can then track those machines using radio waves. This story did not come up in President Obama’s NSA speech, interestingly enough.

Facebook Acquires Branch for $15 Million

Branch is a company that focuses on “content-specific discussions and link-sharing,” and it’s now a part of Facebook after a $15 million deal made this past week. Facebook will likely use Branch to build out discussion features on Facebook; more specifically, a product called “Facebook Conversations” that we don’t really know much about at this point. We’ll be keeping an eye on the Branch folks inside Facebook, as well as any word from Facebook itself on when the new Facebook Conversations product will be available.

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