What’s new in tech
The case against Google
Google’s Chrome browser is the “Web’s biggest snoop,” said Geoffrey Fowler inThe Washington Post. In just a week of recent internet surfing, “I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker ‘cookies’” that Google uses to know what sites you’ve visited. These cookies are the reason “a pair of pants you look at in one site end up following you around in ads elsewhere.” But Google’s trackers were stalking me on websites that I had thought were private, like Aetna and the Federal Student Aid site. Chrome is even sneakier on your Android phone, where it sends your location to Google every time you conduct a search. There are ways to adjust the privacy settings, “but it’s much easier to switch to a browser not owned by an advertising company.”
When ‘smart’ homes go haywire
A video from General Electric showing customers how to reset their smart light bulbs went viral last week, said Rick Clough in Bloomberg.com. Social media lambasted how a simple product “may be too sophisticated for its own good.” First, a voice tells you to turn off the light for five seconds. Then turn it on for eight seconds. Off for two seconds. On for another eight seconds. Then repeat that procedure four more times. Then, “if the bulb flashes three times, it worked.” If not, you probably did something wrong in the sequence. Or “you have a slightly different bulb that requires an entirely different procedure.” Quipped one YouTube commentator, “Imagine turning [it] on for only seven seconds the last time.” The dizzying instructions underscored that some of the home technology “supposed to make our lives easier” isn’t quite there yet.
Microsoft still takes no breaks
Bill Gates, 63, still doesn’t believe in vacations, said Connie Loizos in TechCrunch.com. Gates’ “hard-core,” vacation-free approach in Microsoft’s early years is legendary; you might imagine that over the years he’d have tempered his views. Not so. Asked at a conference whether he’d come to believe in taking breaks, Gates said he had not—and certainly “not in a company’s earliest years.” Working without a vacation is just one of the sacrifices a company has to make in its early years. Gates’ biggest regret, it turns out, was not working harder, “taking his eyes off the ball and allowing Google to develop Android” and create the leading phone operating system. That, says Gates, “was a natural thing for Microsoft to win.”