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Technology

Bloomberg: ‘NSA Knew about Heartbleed Bug for Two Years’

nsa heartbleedAnd things were going so well with the National Security Agency’s community relations repair after the Snowden ballyhoo. No? Oh, then never mind. Let’s just pile on because this report is so many shades of crap.

Last week, the technology community were flipping its lid because of a nasty virus called “the Heartbleed bug.”

In essence, if you have any presence on social media, you may want to change your passwords, like now (check out this nice breakdown from the sages at Mashable). At any rate, it skeered a few million people and it turns out the NSA may have known about this thing — and exploited it for its benefit — for two years.

Whoops.  Read more

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Samsung Takes Things Too Far, Upsets the White House with Red Sox Selfie

ortiz selfiePerhaps you’ve seen the latest addition to the celebrity selfie digital photo album: Red Sox superstar (according to our resident Sox expert, Liz Mitchell) David Ortiz and President Obama. The photo was taken during a White House visit by the team. Ortiz pulled out his phone to snap a pic with the President, which is nothing out of the ordinary. But it turns out that Ortiz is a spokesperson for Samsung, the maker of the smartphone on which the photo was taken. While Ortiz and some members of the team knew that there was a promotional tie to this particular selfie, the President did not.

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Hey, Look: Apple Wrote a Press Release!

shutterstock_119879914Today in Not Really News news, the sight of a rare release from the folks at Apple this morning inspired us to comb through the company’s “PR library” to review the sorts of announcements that its team deems release-worthy.

Like all releases, these range from the noteworthy (today’s Developers Conference news) to the mundane (iTunes radio available in Australia), the strategically significant (China Mobile adds iPhone to its network) to the poppy (Beyoncé “shatters” digital sales record).

Unlike many of the releases we get each day, these don’t contain any particularly flashy hooks or “pay attention to me” tricks–yet each one inspires a predictable wave of headlines across every relevant blog.

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Top 10 Tech Brands Survey Marks Decline in Apple’s Reputation

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Strategy Analytics‘ ConsumerMetrix service just released its latest ranking of top tech companies by brand preference, and the findings come as less of a surprise than a confirmation of challenges ahead for the world’s best-known producers of gadgets.

While readers have to purchase the full report, the release itself includes some points that sound good for Samsung…and bad for Apple.

Full list after the jump.

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Apple Promises More Diversity in Its Emoji Department

iOS-Emoticon-300x300In case you thought MTV had lost its cultural influence, think again. This week Apple’s communications department agreed with the youth network and its unofficial spokesperson Miley Cyrus: the emoji family needs to diversify.

Inspired by Baby Daddy star Tahj Mowry’s Twitter lament over the lack of explicitly African-American emojis, MTV’s Joey Parker emailed CEO Tim Scott about the issue and got a response from the top of the PR team. Worldwide corp comms VP Kate Cotton wrote:

“Tim forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms.  There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”

No word on how or when this change will come about, but we just know that it will be a generation ahead of us.

While we admire Apple’s responsiveness and its desire to better serve its incredibly diverse fan base, we have a few emoji questions of our own…

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President Obama Stuck in the 80s, Causing Serious PR Issues for BlackBerry

breakfast club

Coming to a White House near you.

By now, if you have any inkling of interest in politics, you have discovered the one thing that sets President Obama apart from all other gentlemen of his ilk — his serious embrace of the greatest decade in the history of ever. Of course, I’m referring to the 1980s.

This school of thought first became popular during the final presidential debate of 2012 — Obama V. Romney: This boring crap is getting personal! The famous quip was over foreign policy and Romney hearkening back to a better day of the Cold War. To wit, Obama replied, “The 1980s are calling and they want their foreign policy back.”

Well, thanks to his choice in outdated fashion and technology, the president may be causing bad PR too.

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New Gmail Extension Allows You to Be Even More OCD Over Pitches

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So last month while we were sleeping, Google released a new Chrome/Gmail extension called Streak that allows you to see when recipients read your outgoing emails.

We’re a little glad that we didn’t hear about it upon release, because the appropriate adjectives used to describe it include “horrifying” and “creepy.”

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Startups Like Airbnb Are Getting Better at Addressing Viral Scandals

airbnbAllow us to overgeneralize in writing that tech startup founders can sometimes come across as…what’s the word…aloof. Arrogant. Condescending.

Maybe all that adulatory media coverage goes to their heads. The point, as Valleywag reminds us every day, is that they don’t always respond to challenges in the most effective or sympathetic way.

Yet a PandoDaily post this week argues that companies like Uber and Airbnb are getting better at crisis communications, and we have to agree.

You probably read the viral story about one Airbnb client whose apartment served as the set for a “XXX Freak Fest” (NSFW). Rather than dismiss his complaint as the cost of doing business, the company changed his locks, paid for his hotel stay and wired him thousands of dollars to cover the literal clean-up cost.

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Scratch-and-Sniff Internet Is Here. Interested?

oPhone

Technology gets nice PR, but this may take it too far.

Meet the oPhone: the iPhone’s drunk crackhead cousin.

The technology is designed to provide an olfactory sense to the Internet, but is this something you really want? It is for Harvard professor and researcher David Edwards, whose cracked team of students developed a technology that will allow scents to be passed through a text message, phone call, or social media via a Bluetooth-capable smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Food Network, please pick up the white courtesy phone…

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Are You Drunk Enough to Join This ‘Niche Network?’

No, that’s not a trick question…or is it?

The almost-too-clever LIVR (as in “liver failure”) requires users to attach a breathalyzer to their smartphones—and only those with blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit may proceed.

Why would you want to join such a network? We’ll let its supposed creators (who do not in any way embody certain longstanding stereotypes) explain:

We can’t quite agree that “our best ideas are found at the bottom of a glass”, and we almost hope this app is a joke—the breathalyzer itself has us leaning toward “SXSW stunt pitch that worked.”

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