Breakfast Briefing: Twitter "cripples" Windows 8 app, Bill Gates buys batteries, counting bug bounty costs

12 Nov 2012
Breakfast Briefing

Today's tech news includes a Windows 8 app falling victim to Twitter's new rules and Bill Gates' latest venture

To start the week we hear how online universities could change education, more complaints over Twitter's API clampdown and Bill Gates buys into batteries. Plus, the best way to smuggle a file? In a cake.

Twitter clampdown "cripples" Tweetro

Twitter's campaign against third-party apps has made another enemy for the company after Tweetro said it had been "crippled" by the social network's 100,000 user restrictions introduced earlier this year.

According to the developers, the app saw a surge in demand after Windows 8 launched, pushing it past the limit and effectively breaking the app. The Verge points out the company is seeking answers from Twitter, claiming it has been cut off ahead of the March 2013 D-Day set by Twitter.

Gates gets a buzz from batteries

Bill Gates is putting some of his significant financial clout behind a project to improve battery technology, with a view to making green energy sources more useful. The Financial Times reports that Gates had found out about the MIT project during a web-cast lecture from the university, although convincing the programme manager the messages that followed were from Gates and not a student prankster proved difficult. The liquid metal battery is poised to go into production in 2014, aimed a creating grid-scale storage to bank energy from solar- and wind-powered generators for when they are not producing electricity.

The costs and benefits of bug bounties

Wired poses the question of how much value companies get from paying out rewards to security researchers that spot flaws in their software. With millions spent of bug bounties, the article considers whether the web is fundamentally safer because of the programmes, or whether it's merely a matter of keeping up appearances.

"The mere fact that you have a bounty program shows you have a certain amount of [security] maturity, because it would be too expensive otherwise," said says Chris Wysopal, co-founder and CTO of software testing company Veracode. "You could have your application reviewed by a third party for the price of just five bugs you might pay out for in a bounty program."

Political prisoner makes point with patisserie

The idea of hiding a file in a cake might be a prison escape cliché, but it was given a new spin when a political prisoner wanted to smuggle a film out of Iran. Blogger Terence Eden spotted the story of how Iranian director Jafar Panahi smuggled a film, This Is Not A Film, out of the restrictive country and off to Cannes while under house arrest. Charged with "propaganda against the regime" and unable to use the internet openly, Pahani concealed the file on a cake-encrusted 32GB microSD card. Frustratingly, the story gives no detail on the type of cake.

How the web could reshape education

The web may have sounded the death knell for high street stores such as Comet, and changed the face of car insurance, but according to a leading technologist, the world of education could be next.

Sebastian Thrun, a one-man brains trust formerly with Google and Stanford University, has launched Udacity, an online university that he hopes will give free access to education for anyone over the web. In The Guardian, he discusses how web projects could reshape the education landscape. "Pay thousands of pounds a year for your education?," the piece ponders. "Or get it free online?".

The motivation might be to improve third-world education, but given the UK's tuition fees, it could find strong demand here, too.

Apple told to pay Samsung's legal costs

Apple's show of petulance in publishing that half-baked apology over its patent case with Samsung is getting costlier. After publishing an apology it was later forced to correct, and then pushing the words of contrition to the bottom of the Apple homepage using Javascript, The Verge reports a judge has ordered the company to bear Samsung's costs. The ruling hopefully brings the curtain down on the whole sorry affair.

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