Breakfast Briefing: Windows RT fix on the way, Google's spends $16.5m on lobbying, the anonymous social network

This morning's top reads include a fix for Windows RT, Google's lobbying power, the numbers game behind anonymous social networking and Android's greatest asset

24 Jan 2013

This morning's technology stories include Microsoft's upcoming Windows RT fix, Google's big spending to make its point, an anonymous social network and why Android's price is its biggest attraction.

Microsoft working on fix for Windows RT update glitch

Microsoft is working on a fix for an application update bug that's been affecting the operating system.

The issue means some users are unable to access the Windows Store or Windows Update, but Microsoft says it will release a fix for the problem within the next two weeks.

"Some Windows RT customers who attempted to apply January’s bulletins had issues installing updates. Specifically, impacted Windows RT devices went into connected standby mode during the download of updates from Windows Update, causing the connection to be disrupted," the company said in a statement sent to ZDNet. "We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused and are working to correct the issue; we expect to have a fix in place in the first week of February."

The fix will be for all ARM-based devices, the company said.

Google's $16.5m lobbying spend

Technology companies using a lot of cash to influence governments is nothing new, but Google's financial influence in US affairs swelled by 70% last year, with the company spending $16.5m on lobbying in the US alone.

TechCrunch details how the company - which many felt got off with a slap on the wrist in a 2012 antitrust investigation - listed an entire index of subjects it lobbied on. These included "regulation of online advertising, privacy and competition issues in online advertising" as well as Do Not Track.

The social network that uses a random number instead of names

LinkedIn and Facebook depend on users posting under their real names, but a new social network has a different idea: ensuring anonymity by assigning users a long random number.

The idea behind Social Number is that people want to create an online persona to ask odd questions, talk about embarrassing issues, or just not have to worry about privacy, says Gigaom. While the number is a nice gimmick, it’s tough to understand why the site wouldn’t let users pick an anonymous user name, rather than a hard to remember number.

"But the strangest part of the site? Users can purchase t-shirts or business cards with their Social Numbers on them, and then host meet-ups or parties where they arrive wearing their t-shirts or handing out cards, in an attempt to create anonymity in real life while talking to new and interesting people," Gigaom notes.

For Android, cheap not geek wins the day

While Apple licks the wounds inflicted on Wall Street in the wake of its results and conference call – Mac Observer looks at the reasons for last night's share price dip – Gizmodo considers why Android is proving so popular with consumers.

In short – and depressingly for tech manufacturers - it's not the quality of glossy flagship handsets that's driving the rise of Android but the fact many handsets are so cheap.

"The iPhone is universally considered good," Gizmodo argues. "A lot more Android phones are considered good enough — or, more to the point, good enough for what they cost. And it's that trait more than any new feature that's guaranteeing Google its role as Phonemaker of The People, a democratic gadget, while Apple succeeds only in cementing its grandfathered slot in the gilded pockets of the overly-discerning overclass."

Swartz suicide sparks legal review and Facebook research

The suicide of web activist Aaron Swartz continues to make waves, with Europe's digital tsar Neelie Kroes saying his death highlighted the need to change copyright laws. According to the European vice president, the fact that the material that landed Swartz in hot water was already public showed the senselessness of current laws.

"More openness can help new innovations and scientific discoveries," she said. "I would never condone unlawful activity. But in my view, if our laws, frameworks and practices stand in the way of us getting all those benefits, then maybe they need to be changed."

The comments come as research from suicide prevention group Save explores how people behave before committing suicide, by looking through Facebook data from the days leading up to their deaths. Bloomberg reports that analysis of the Facebook records could help friends and family spot tell-tale signs in advance in future.

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