Breakfast Briefing: Microsoft pays developers to make Windows 8 apps, Google's closed web, Fish Pi

Today's tech treats include Microsoft's pocket money for Windows Store developers, Google search angers critics and how a Raspberry Pi could cross the Atlantic

Stewart Mitchell
20 Mar 2013

Today's tech stories include Microsoft's desperate push to populate its app stores, Google's introspective web search, and the Raspberry Pi taking on the Atlantic. Plus, a security researcher reveals the devices that shouldn't be hooked up to the internet, but are.

Microsoft: Dear devs, please write apps for Windows

Microsoft is trying to convince people to write apps to help it populate its Windows 8 app environment, offering $100 for apps accepted between now and the end of June. Although the developers can create up to ten apps for both the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store, with a potential $2,000 windfall for that hard work, GeekWire questions whether there will be much response.

The piece is even more scathing of the type of apps that such a paltry amount will garner, citing a former Microsoft Phone manager's take on paying for apps. "Paying developers to target your platform is a sign of desperation," the former Microsoft employee said. "Doing so means developers have no skin in the game. A platform where developers do not have skin in the game is artificially propped up and will not succeed in the long run."

Google keeping it in house

The Next Web has an interesting take on the evolution of Google, highlighting how the web giant increasingly attempts to keep search engine users within its own ecosystem. In one example involving a "bracket" widget for a US basketball competition search, Google referred to no outside sites on its initial results page, meaning the company had a monopoly on the information presented.

"Google has gone from measuring its success by how quickly it could get you off its search page to how long it can keep you with in the Google ecosystem," The Next Web believes.

Fish Pi to take on Atlantic

The BBC reports how the Raspberry Pi continues to adapt itself to people's imagination, documenting a project to put the mini computer at the heart of a model boat set to cross that Atlantic. The Fish Pi is already being kitted up as a 30cm proof of concept model, and is currently waiting for its software before going into tests.

Once complete, the team of enthusiasts plans to build a 1.7m boat to take on the open ocean, with the Raspberry Pi taking charge of navigation, communications and engine controls.

Botnet census exposes mass security weaknesses

The insecurity of internet-connected devices has been exposed by a security researcher that took over hundreds of thousands of devices with a simple trawl of the web using basic preset passwords. The researcher built a benign botnet to the tune of 420,000 machines, which he then used to look for other web-connected weaknesses. The results are scary.

"A lot of devices and services we have seen during our research should never be connected to the public internet at all,” the unnamed researcher reported, according to CNet. "As a rule of thumb, if you believe that 'nobody would connect that to the internet, really nobody', there are at least 1,000 people who did. Whenever you think 'that shouldn't be on the internet, but will probably be found a few times' it's there a few hundred thousand times. Like half a million printers, or a million webcams, or devices that have root as a root password."

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