Phones On Planes, Sockpuppeting, Female Geeks, Lulu Larks [Tech News Digest]

Today in Tech News Digest, planes may soon be full of people using their cellphones, Wikipedia tries to stop sockpuppeting, Samsung is told to pay up, female geeks are on the rise, Microsoft is rumored to be interested in buying Winamp, Opera 18 is released, Microsoft turns to eBay to sell its hardware, and a potentially sexist app is talked up by the New York Times.

U.S. Considers Cellphone Use On Planes

The United States is considering allowing people to make and receive cellphone calls on flights. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be proposing allowing passengers to use their phones once a plane has reached an altitude of 10,000 feet. Making calls will still be banned during takeoff and landing, however the use of devices for other purposes has already been approved in the U.S. and Europe.

The use of cellphones during flights has been banned in the skies above the U.S. since 1991, but this was mainly due to safety concerns. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently stated that cellphones do not pose a safety hazard to planes, so the question of whether to allow their use during flights is more about the potential nuisance aspect for other passengers.

Opinion on the matter appears to be split, with an FAA survey showing 51 percent against the change and 47 percent in favor of the change. This is likely to be those who want the opportunity to make phone calls versus those who think it will turn flights into nightmares of raised voices and overheard conversations.

Wikipedia Calls Out Sockpuppeting

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The Wikimedia Foundation has sent a cease-and-desist to Wiki-PR, with the former accusing the latter of sockpuppeting on Wikipedia. The Texas-based PR firm stands accused of creating multiple fake accounts and either creating or editing Wikipedia entries for its clients. Wikipedia works because it offers an unbiased account of everything it covers. Therefore any paid advocacy editing, as is alleged here, runs counter to the website’s terms and conditions.

Samsung Owes Apple

Samsung owes Apple another $290 million, after a jury ruled in the Cupertino-based company’s favor in the latest twist in the ongoing legal battle over design patents. Apple had requested $380 million, while Samsung wanted to pay just $52 million. This brings the total award to date up to around $930 million.

Any hopes that this means it’s all over can be quickly dashed, however, as another trial dealing with new products and different patents is due to begin in March 2014. I’m sure we will all be glued to the edge of our seats for that one.

Female Geeks On The Rise

Women have filled 60 percent of the new jobs created in the technology sector in the U.S. during 2013. According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics females have filled around 24,000 of the 39,000 jobs created through September of this year. There has long been a big difference between the number of males and females working and getting employed in the technology industry, and this is the first time women have led the way in terms of new hires in over a decade.

Whether this is more to do with changing attitudes towards gender roles in society or purely the fact that more females are interested in traditionally male dominated careers is open to debate. There has certainly been an increase in the number of women willing to come out as geeks in recent years, as the music video embedded above demonstrates.

Microsoft To Buy Winamp [Rumor]

Yesterday we learned that Winamp, the long-loved music service, was being killed off by AOL. But all, it seems, is not lost. According to TechCrunch, Microsoft is bidding to buy Winamp and Shoutcast (a streaming media platform) from AOL for an undisclosed sum of money. This is merely a rumor at present, and neither party has commented on the possible deal. But fans of whipping the llama should keep all their fingers and toes crossed.

Opera 18 Released

Opera 18 has been released for both desktop and Android platforms. The latest version of the popular Web browser adds a slew of new features to the mix. On desktop these include WebRTC, getUserMedia, and themes, while the user interface has been redesigned on the Android version to better cater to users of tablets and smartphones with larger touchscreens.

Microsoft Opens eBay Store

With the holiday season, and the manic shopping that is an integral part of it, kicking off, Microsoft has opened its own eBay store. The Microsoft Store on eBay, to give it its full (and utterly uninspiring) title, will sell Microsoft hardware both new and used. The question is will the new range of Google-baiting ‘Scroogled’ merchandise make it onto the Microsoft Store on eBay?

Lulu Lets Women Rate Men

And finally, women now have the opportunity to rate male Facebook friends thanks to an app named Lulu. This rather one-sided app has been around for a while, but with a lengthy write-up in the New York Times it’s suddenly being talked about everywhere. In a nutshell Lulu invites women to rate men they know in different categories using a limited range of hashtags.

This is, unsurprisingly, a rather controversial app seeing as it lets women attach a score to men without any sort of opt-in or right to reply. The New York Times doesn’t mention the potential controversy surrounding Lulu, something picked up on by former tech blogger Jason Kincaid. Would the New York Times give so much coverage to an app which allowed men to anonymously rate women? I personally suspect not, but feel free to disagree in the comments section below.

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks

Image Credit: Joshua Davis

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