Welcome to a new edition of the Monday Tech Roundup, and before starting things off, May the Fourth be with you. Today is that day where you find out the neighbor you recently added on Facebook is a Star Wars fan and you are able to tolerate them just that little bit more. This week, a great innovation in batteries is just around the corner, Microsoft announces Continuum for Phones while Android has a malware crisis.
Elon Musk set to solve energy crisis
Tesla boss Elon Musk last week announced a bold plan to build ultra-efficient and powerful rechargeable batteries that could transform how we use energy, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and dramatically reduce greenhouse gases.
So why should IT or technology users care? Well, because it can transform how we use portable devices, and perhaps eventually make the ever-growing data centers truly green.
The two new batteries are the progeny of Musk’s experience with Tesla, the popular electric supercars manufacturer. Batteries aren’t by themselves green as it takes energy to charge them but Musk’s Powerwall Home Battery and the Powerpack (aimed at businesses) are charged by solar panels. If needed they can also get juice from conventional power grids.
On the IT side, power is at a crisis level. Data centers grow ever larger, and the electric costs are through the roof. This is especially true of metro areas where the rental costs are also exorbitant. This has led some companies to move data processing to the cloud, but that, in turn, can bring performance issues, data control concerns and unaccounted for costs.
While almost insanely ambitious, it will take a while before the Musk technology becomes truly revolutionary. The initial versions focus largely around backup power and low-stress daily applications.
The technology and the very idea will spark, hopefully, a race for even more efficient batteries that are charged through renewables. This has the ability to change everything and open development up to areas that have been mired in poverty and despair.
Microsoft wants smartphones to be better PC replacements
If the smartphone replaces the PC, at least for some uses, Microsoft would prefer it be a Windows smartphone. Most mobile devices are a compromise when it comes to running productivity apps. Ever try to edit a 10,000 cell spreadsheet or 3,000 document on your Nokia? It’s no picnic. Even web surfing is a real bother unless the site is already mobile optimized.
Microsoft hopes to change all that by making the mobile experience exactly the same as the PC – except way smaller! To do so, Windows 10 has a new feature called Continuum for Phones that automatically adapts Window to various device sizes. You’ll even be able to connect a keyboard, mouse and monitor to your phone and have a true PC experience.
Android has malware crisis
The true state of Android security is the source of some controversy. In a recent disclosure, Google said that less than 1% of Android-based phones were hit with malware last year. But that good news is belied by the fact that nearly half of these same devices are vulnerable to a particular rogue app that replaces a legitimate app with itself. Now a new report has surfaced saying that 17% of Android apps are actually malware. Confused? We thought so.
The new report found some 700,000 malicious Android apps. Fortunately about a third of these are just designed to smother you with ads. But one app is actually ransomware that encrypts all your information and won’t let it loose until you pay up. One tip – stick to getting your apps from the app stores which are generally vetted.
Google searches for password security answer
Password theft is an easy way for hackers to get all your info – including credit card numbers and everything they need to steal your identity. Google, which uses your one password to do everything from getting mail to writing a best-selling novel on Google Docs, has a new way to keep your password safe. If you use the Chrome Browser it will warn you when a phishing attack has purloined your password, and caution you to replace it.
One feature that seems cool, but could make things worse, is a warning that reminds you to use different passwords for different services. The theory is that once a hacker gets one password, they can use it to crack multiple apps. The downside is ending up with a multitude of passwords, most of them complex, and it’s no easy feat to keep track of them. Using a password manager will surely help, just don’t print them all out and tape them to your monitor!