10 tech things we didn't know a week ago

Behind on the news and hungry for more? Here's what we learned this week — from webcam hacking, net neutrality, and all the things that are cheaper to buy than WhatsApp.
1 of 10 Brad Weber/Wikimedia Commons

1. Iceland is cheaper to buy than WhatsApp

Earlier this month, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion in cash and stock, with another $3 billion to be vested by its employees over the next few years. It turns out that the total $19 billion figure for the mobile instant messenger is one of the biggest acquisitions of the year — and one of the biggest Silicon Valley has ever paid out.

So what's cheaper to buy for $19 billion? Iceland is cheaper to buy than WhatsApp, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $13.7 billion for 2012. It's not surprising considering less than one-third of a million people live there, but still an impressive financial feat nonetheless. You could even throw in a Large Hadron Collider with it.

2 of 10 CNET

2. Up to 11 percent of NSA webcam images are "explicit"

Britain's GCHQ, with the help from the U.S. National Security Agency, have hacked into millions of webcams connected to Yahoo Messenger and downloaded snapshots every five minutes.

According to the documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden to The Guardian, between 3 and 11 percent of the images were considered "explicit." Those images are, in layman's terms, photos of people's birthday suits — if you catch the drift. Perhaps more interestingly is that the American and British intelligence agencies found that figure to be "surprising." 

3 of 10 CNET

3. Even the best Apple engineers can accidentally screw up SSL

In a day and age where everyone is paranoid about U.S. and U.K. government surveillance, Apple began to feel the heat when it slipped through an iPhone and iPad update to fix a flaw that allowed man-in-the-middle attacks, even through SSL encrypted pages. Apple was also slow to fix the flaw on the Mac, which was left vulnerable for four more days. 

The culprit? A duplication of a "goto fail;" line, that negated other code. Some suggested it was implanted in there. Those who weren't wearing tinfoil hats on their heads realized it was more likely human error from code merging.

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4. Netflix actually pays Comcast for better streaming

Net neutrality in the U.S. is dead — at least for now. Popular television streaming service Netflix agreed earlier this week to pay Comcast to ensure its video content streams quickly, even though Netflix will not receive any preferential treatment. It comes at a time where heavy bandwidth companies, such as TV streaming services, are fighting for fairness over the Internet pipes. 

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5. iTunes, Spotify, YouTube aren't financially great for musicians

YouTube may be the place where up-and-coming stars reach out for fame, but along with iTunes and Spotify, it may not be worth the labor of love put into it — at least on a financial level.

According to The Guardian, in the past year, about 8 percent of musician Zoe Keating's income came from streaming services. In spite of the near half-million streams from Spotify, she earned just $1,764. And 1.9 million views on YouTube? Expect a paltry $1,248. The full spreadsheet can be found from her Twitter page.

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6. Half of all Wikipedia edits are made by bots

There's no doubt Wikipedia editors work hard to battle the vitriol, the graffiti, and the occasional defacement from vandals and the like. But, it turns out much of the work is carried out by automated scripts and servers.

A new study determined about 46 percent of all edits on the online crowdsourced encyclopedia was conducted by "bots," but varied depending on which language version the researchers monitored. Wikipedia researchers said it's one of the keys to the site's success by fixing grammar and simple spelling mistakes.

7 of 10 Adam Hill/Wikimedia Commons

7. Forget the 'dark web': You can buy a gun on Facebook

Facebook may still be the go-to place to show off snaps from the streets and the latest gossip from school or work, but it also has a darker side, according to reports. First featured in VentureBeat, one reporter was able to obtain a firearm in just 15 minutes, with dozens of pages set-up to buy the illegal weapons. 

8 of 10 stevenafc/Stock.xchng

8. Here's why some XP users refuse to upgrade

Windows XP is dead. Long live Windows XP! At least, it will be soon. We are rapidly approaching April, where the 12-year-old operating system will be put out to pasture by Microsoft in favour of newer Windows' versions. It's not to say that there are some who will need to have their install disc prised out of their cold, dead hands, though. 

This week we got an inside look at some of the reasons why some are sticking to their guns. Not least, some are likening the end-of-support to the "Y2K" bug, and the difficulty in upgrading to Windows 7, for instance, because existing apps simply won't run.

9 of 10 Subhashish Panigrahi/Wikimedia Commons

9. Things you didn't realize a 3D printer could make

3D printers can be used to create small replaceable parts for broken machines, candy structures, and even body parts. But some of the little-known creations from these next-generation printers were put on display earlier this week. From parts of buildings to pharmaceuticals, clothing and cars, organs and prosthetics, there really is almost no bounds to what can be chucked in and churned out. 

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10. Facebook will no longer change your privacy settings when you die

What happens to our Facebook profiles once we pass away? It's the eternal question for our modern social lives. According to the social network, Facebook will now leave a deceased user's profile page as it was before — with privacy settings intact. Before, it would turn into a "memorial" account that could only be viewed by friends.

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