Join or Sign In

Register for your free ZDNet membership or if you are already a member, sign in using your preferred method below.

Use your email Use Linkedin Use Facebook

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 — like how you can hack an entire company from their thermostat, and what Apple needs to compete?

1 of 10 CNET/CBS Interactive

1. Steve Ballmer approved Office for iPad, not incumbent CEO Satya Nadella

No matter what you may think of former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, whose tenure included hit-and-miss operating systems and a stagnant stock price, there's one success you can attribute to him — even if he has left the company's executive stage. Office for iPad has been the Redmond, WA.-based software giant has seen in recent months, but it wasn't the work of recently appointed chief executive Satya Nadella. As ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley , it was Ballmer who pushed ahead with the project, which she cited sources as saying it had been years in the making. 

2 of 10 CNET/CBS Interactive

2. Hackers are able to hack into networks through thermostats, air-con units

Hackers are increasingly looking to third-party apps, including air-conditioning units and thermostats, to gain full access to internal company networks, according to a report by The New York Times on Monday. The report said: "Break into one system, and you have a chance to break into them all." In many cases, around one-quarter of all data breaches were attributable to negligence on the part of third-party apps and hardware.

3 of 10 CNET/CBS Interactive

3. 'Heartbleed' bug that unraveled the internet was caused a simple programming glitch

The talking-point of the year, "Heartbleed," which in the matter of hours , after a flaw in a popular cryptography library allowed hackers to snoop on passwords and personal data. The programmer who introduced the flaw denied he inserted it deliberately, after claims were made he may have been working for a US intelligence agency. He denied this, but the flaw nevertheless led to a global security panic. Leading expert Bruce Schneier likened it to a "Spinal Tap 11" out of ten on the severity scale. Change your passwords — and the sooner the better, experts advised.

4 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

4. The top Android app? A 'fake' anti-virus app

Android has long been associated with malware issues, . But those capitalizing on the issue this week got a sore slap in the face, after the top grossing app on the Google Play app marketplace was accused of being a "scam." Dubbed "Virus Shield," many thought the app was protecting their Android-based smartphones and tablets, when in fact, according to reports, it was entirely "bogus." The app only cost $3.99, but it was downloaded more than 10,000 times, making the developer very, very rich indeed.

Screenshot: Google Play

5 of 10 Open Compute/Facebook via CNET

5. Starting your own Internet provider is really hard

If you're concerned about US government surveillance, you might think setting up your own Internet provider might be the best option. Turns out, as the folks at Ars Technica discovered, it's far more complicated to start one than widely thought. Not only do you need millions of dollars, you need a lot of lawyers to navigate the complicated myriad of legal issues that you will face as the head of your own ISP. And that doesn't even take into account the requests you might be forced to undertake if you're under the authority of the National Security Agency. 

6 of 10 Microsoft

6. Making parts of .NET open source took years, and wasn't a quick move

Microsoft's .NET development language for years has been within the company's walled garden. But alas — no more. Opening it to the public makes the platform through its partnership with mobile-tool maker Xamarin. It was touted as "one of the biggest announcements" at Microsoft's annual developer conference, Build, this week. But it took a while to get this far. Former server and cloud boss turned chief executive Satya Nadella gave the go-ahead to make more of .NET open source more than a year ago in order to make it "good for developers."

7 of 10 Apple/Samsung via Recode

7. Apple knows it has to make a larger iPhone display to compete

Samsung's testimony in its trial against Apple showed that the iPhone maker was deeply concerned about the competition — especially . While Apple stuck with the 3.5-inch and then 4-inch displays, its competitors — Samsung above all else — was developing far larger screen sizes. This caught Apple in a spin, which internal slides show, citing slowing growth rates and the concern that "consumers want what we don't have." This may be the first sign that Apple could be developing a larger 5-inch iPhone that would aim to compete with its major rivals with "phablet"-sized devices.

8 of 10 CNET/CBS Interactive

8. Around 44 percent of desktop Windows machines are still powered by XP

The end is no longer nigh. It's right here on our doorstep. Microsoft has cut off Windows XP from its security and update support system. According to the latest statistics from Net Applications, are still running the decade-old operating system. If you haven't upgraded already, you probably should.

9 of 10 CNET/CBS Interactive

9. Disabling Facebook app's location services can reduce iPhone battery drain

After many users of iOS 7, Apple's latest operating system, complained of battery drain on their iPhones, one Apple expert said that it may be . If users switch off the location-based features of the app, it could help save battery life. According to the expert, Scotty Loveless, he actually saw his iPhone battery meter increase from 12 percent to 17 percent — something he said he had never seen before.

10 of 10 CNET/CBS Interactive

10. After much speculation, BlackBerry will keep its handset unit after all

Reuters vs. BlackBerry over whether the company will ditch or sell off its handset business, which for many years was the company's bread and butter. BlackBerry CEO John Chen was as saying: "If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business." But he clarified this statement a day later, saying he was . BlackBerry remains "committed" to the handset business, he said in an interview with ZDNet on Thursday. 


Related Galleries

First look: iPhone 13 Apple event [in pictures]

Related Galleries

First look: iPhone 13 Apple event [in pictures]

Toshiba laptops through the ages

Related Galleries

Toshiba laptops through the ages

The naughty list: Tech CEOs getting coal for Christmas

Related Galleries

The naughty list: Tech CEOs getting coal for Christmas

Tech turkeys: Apple and Google dominate the year's menu of failures

Related Galleries

Tech turkeys: Apple and Google dominate the year's menu of failures

The Nightmare in Silicon Valley: 8 horror technologies that should scare you to death

Related Galleries

The Nightmare in Silicon Valley: 8 horror technologies that should scare you to death

2019's tech, security, and authentication trends
Tech chart graph stats

Related Galleries

2019's tech, security, and authentication trends

Carry on: Must-have minimalist travel gadgets in 2019

Related Galleries

Carry on: Must-have minimalist travel gadgets in 2019