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Bytes: What’s new in tech

The future of video chat; New iPhone around the corner; A security lesson from Snowden

The future of video chatGet ready to Skype in 3-D, said Leo Kelion in BBC.co.uk. As the video chat service celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, the news surfaced that Skype has been developing 3-D screens and 3-D video capture. “We have it in the lab, we know how to make it work,” said Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Skype, Mark Gillett. But while 3-D TVs and computer monitors make delivering a 3-D image relatively easy, capturing one is a trickier technical challenge. “You have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them, and point them at the right angle,” Gillett said. Skype’s commitment to 3-D technology will likely depend on its take-up on television, where there are signs that consumer enthusiasm is flagging.

New iPhone around the cornerThe next generation iPhone could be out in a matter of weeks, said Timothy Stenovec in HuffingtonPost.com. Apple is expected to release the newest model of its touch-screen smartphone this month, and tech blogs have been abuzz over rumors that the iPhone 5S will come in several new colors, including a gray called “graphite” and a gold called “champagne.” The company is also expected to offer a new, cheaper handset called the iPhone 5C. Users of previous iPhone models may find an upgrade easier than in the past: Last week Apple rolled out a trade-in program that allows customers to apply the value of their old handset toward a new one.

A security lesson from SnowdenHow did a low-ranking system administrator like Edward Snowden manage to “pull off a classic insider attack” on the National Security Agency? asked Sean Gallagher in ArsTechnica.com. It looks suspiciously like the NSA had lax access rules, and all companies should take notice. Snowden was apparently able to obtain secret documents far beyond his security clearance by gaining access to the user credentials of higher-ranked NSA officials and impersonating them online. Allowing such access “is a classic bad move in network security.” Internal monitoring tools are available that would have raised a red flag if a user from NSA headquarters in Maryland logged in, say, from Hawaii. But “instead of using automated systems, the NSA apparently depends on an army of system administrators for its internal defenses—administrators like Edward Snowden.” Companies should not allow their “sysadmins” similar superpowers.

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