Breakfast Briefing: the economy of crapware, why Thunderbolt remains niche, Fedora 18 lands

16 Jan 2013
Breakfast briefing

Today's tech news features stories about crapware, Intel's Thunderbolt, Fedora, Google's Project Glass, zero-day flaw sales, and more.

Today's top tech stories include a look at the troubling economics behind crapware and the zero-day black market, how Intel is slowing progress for Thunderbolt, and the latest version of Fedora brings dual-boot options to Windows 8 machines.

A curse on crapware

We know that when we buy a new PC, or install many cheap or free utilities that they often come with crapware, not only a pain but also a potential source of security and privacy problems. ZDNet takes a look at the economy behind these annoyances, where companies as apparently straight-laced as Oracle make cash by installing software most people don't want.

"Oracle is actually making money and cheapening your web browsing experience by automatically installing the Ask toolbar, which in turn tries to change your default search engine and home page," ZDNet points out, and with venture capitalists seeing this as a growth area for developers, it's hard to imagine the crapware disappearing any time soon.

Thunderbolt stuck in a niche

ArsTechnica probes the complicated reasons behind the slow growth of interconnect Thunderbolt, pointing out that licensing costs have hampered the technology, although it is spreading to PCs after starting life solely in the Apple camp.

Ars cites high prices as one reason holding back the technology, but claims that Intel (Thunderbolt's driving force) has also hampered progress by picking and choosing which hardware makers it wants to work with. The result is a shortage of compatible kit, which continues to put off some PC manufacturers in a chicken and egg scenario.

Fedora 18 rolls off slow production line

The Register reports on the latest version of Linux distro Fedora being ready to roll. The software has been delayed twice, but finally brings compatibility with UEFI Secure Boot, which means users can now dual-boot between Linux Fedora and Windows 8 on new hardware. However, despite the promise, early users have reported problems making dual boot work.

Google's Project Glass seeks developer input

Google has announced its next move in the world of wearable computing, calling the developers that have already signed up for the $1,500 Glass Explorer Edition into mission control to get hands on with devices.

According to All Things Digital, the developers for the spectacle styled devices can look forward to "two days of full-on hacking" to see what uses they can come up with for the hardware.

The secret economy of zero-day flaws

The rise of the zero-day vulnerability black market is the focus of a Slate article that poses questions about the ethics behind selling software weaknesses to governments or private groups instead of reporting them to the developers for a fix.

Part of the problem, however, lies with the relatively low rewards offered by software companies compared to the top-dollar prices that potential attackers are willing to pay. The piece quotes experts that are critical of "lame rewards on offer" that lead to "an increasing number of skilled hackers keeping their research private to sell it to governments".

Photo of the day: Jessops gallows humour

A wag at the now closed Jessops in Liverpool had a pithy parting shot – via Twitter - for all the customers who opted to buy online instead of in the photography company's stores. No hard feelings, then.

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