Welcome back to 5Things, the weekly newsletter where I share 5 things that I thought were interesting this week! Last week, we talked a lot about SpaceX, and I’m happy to say SpaceX is featured this week too!
I normally put the articles in chronological order, but this week they are in the order that I found them online. It’s been an interesting week.
1. Google Photos: Pay to Edit
Google announced that advanced editing features already available on its Pixel phones will now be available to all Google Photos users- provided that you subscribe to the company’s Google One program. Google has been trying to monetize Google Photos for along time now, recently removing the free unlimited at reduced quality photo backup service. Now, backing up photos counts against the 15 GB quota given to free Google accounts.
Google Photos is probably the best and easiest way to back up photos on an iOS or Android device, and as a result, Google probably stores a couple of terabytes worth of photos. I understand Google’s position here, but what did they expect? They should have had plans in place to handle the phone photos of millions of consumers.
Further Reading: Google Photos gets new paywalled editing features for Google One subscribers – The Verge,
2. Microsoft Tried to Buy Pinterest
According to a report by The Financial Times, Microsoft tried to acquire Pinterest. As I’ve discussed in a previous blog post, Microsoft wants a social network to show of its massive cloud computing muscle. When news that the Trump administration was planning to force the sale of TikTok’s North American operations, Microsoft jumped at the opportunity. A social network like Pinterest or TikTok require massive amounts of server space for user content. Microsoft’s Azure is already a very popular cloud hosting provider, but if they were able to brag that you could host your site on the same servers that hosts TikTok and LinkedIn, I’m sure many businesses would be convinced to make the switch. While Azure is probably ready to host a social network, I’m not sure if Microsoft is ready to serve as moderator. They’ve been mostly unscathed in controversy about social media moderation, and acquiring a social network would drop them directly into the crazy world that is moderating content.
Pinterest reportedly turned down the offer, but I think that Microsoft will either create their own social network or acquire (another) one within the next 5 years.
Further Reading: Microsoft tried to acquire Pinterest, FT reports – The Verge, Microsoft reportedly considered acquiring Pinterest – CNet
3. Facebook (smart)Watch?
Reportedly, Facebook is developing a Facebook Watch. no, not the YouTube competitor…
According to multiple reports, Facebook is working on a Facebook branded smartwatch. While this isn’t the first or strangest hardware to come out of Facebook, it is a new direction for the company. Facebook has had many attempts at hardware, from the “Facebook Phone” to Oculus headsets to Portal video calling devices. When Facebook acquired Oculus, I guess their intent was using the technology to bring virtual rooms to life. The Portal is meant to connect friends and family through video calling. But a Facebook smartwatch? What can be gained from that? Facebook’s (stated) mission is to connect the world through technology. I understand how Oculus (maybe) and Portal accomplish this mission, but a smartwatch? I’m stumped! Time will tell if it actually comes to market, but I have a feeling that we don’t know everything there is to know about this project yet.
Further Reading: Facebook Working on Smart Watch to Compete With Apple Watch – MacRumors Forums, Facebook is secretly building a smartwatch and planning to sell it next year – The Verge
4. SpaceX nabs a launch from SLS
NASA decided to move a launch from the behind-schedule Space Launch System to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. The SLS program is many years overdue and many millions over budget. Following a failed “green-run” test in January, NASA decided to move the launch of elements of the Lunar Gateway to a Falcon Heavy rocket. The Lunar Gateway is a permanent uninhabited outpost orbiting the Moon designed to facilitate missions to the Moon’s surface. For now, the components will launch to lunar orbit and wait for a mission. This launch is scheduled for 2024, so the SLS might be ready to launch the humans to inhabit the Lunar Gateway by then.
Here’s why this is significant. The SLS, the pride and joy of NASA, is way behind schedule. Design work began in 2010 and concluded in 2014. Ever since then, the rocket has seen delay after delay. Originally planned to be ready in 2018, the rocket has been slated to launch every year after. Many in the space enthusiast community believe in the future of the SLS, but I just can’t see it. With SpaceX and Blue Origin developing rockets that can produce similar or greater results than the SLS, I can see the program being cancelled after only a few launches. Reusability is the way to go, and because SLS isn’t reusable, it can’t come close to the price of a SpaceX rocket. Current figures point to a cost of $2 billion per launch of the SLS when a Falcon Heavy can do the job for just a few hundred million dollars. I would love to see the SLS launch, but I’m just not convinced of it’s longevity.
Further Reading: NASA picks SpaceX Falcon Heavy for $332M mission to launch lunar Gateway components in 2024 – TechCrunch, SpaceX just got a big contract to launch two pieces of a future Moon space station – CNN Business, Charlie Bolden says the quiet part out loud: SLS rocket will go away – Ars Technica
5. Change Your Password and Update to Windows 10
After a water treatment plant in Florida was targeted by an attacker, the FBI warns that anyone still using Windows 7 should immediately update to a newer supported version of windows. The incident was not caused by a specific unpatched bug in Windows 7, but the FBI warns that Windows 7 machines are vulnerable to similar attacks because the OS is no longer receiving security updates.
The FBI also warns that remote access tools like TeamViewer can be used to launch devastating attacks. TeamViewer itself isn’t the problem here, the problem is rather misconfigured security settings that allow hackers easy access. In the case of the Florida attack, the same password was used by multiple team members across multiple accounts. As a result, the hacker needed to gain access to the password on one app to gain access to every system.
Moral of the story: update Windows and don’t use the same password twice!
Further Reading: Following Oldsmar attack, FBI warns about using TeamViewer and Windows 7 – ZDNet
Thanks again for reading 5Things, let me know what you thought in the comment section below. Let me know if you like this format of if there is something else I should try!
I publish 5Things every week, you can view previous issues here