'Don't be evil' has long been Google's motto, enshrined in its code of conduct while the firm casually rebuffs a litany of Right to be Forgotten requests and antitrust probes, while eroding individual privacy down to a wafer-thin margin.
But since Google created its own parent company in the form of Alphabet, the motto now applies only to the core divisions of the search firm, such as YouTube and Android, while other areas have a new set of rules to follow.
Revealed on its investor pages Alphabet's code of conduct includes rules dictating that employees should "avoid conflicts of interest", "obey the law" and the pithy "ensure financial integrity and responsibility".
"Employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries and controlled affiliates should do the right thing - follow the law, act honourably and treat each other with respect," it said.
We could extrapolate from this that Alphabet's employees are now allowed to be evil so long as it is legal. Somewhere someone is rubbing their hands in glee.
X, Alphabet's experimental division, also falls under this new code of conduct, and those with an active imagination could foresee a future of drones and driverless cars doing what they please on public highways, given that it is now legal for them to do so.
Alphabet also offers its senior members a kind of get-out-of-jail clause just in case they act evilly and against the law.
"Any waivers of this code for directors or executive officers must be approved by our board," the code of conduct said.
There are clear demarcations between the rules to which Google and Alphabet employees must adhere, notably over pets. Google has declared itself pro-canine: "We like cats, but we're a dog company."
Alphabet has no preference on pets, but will no doubt frown on employees bringing in endangered white rhinos, what with their movement strictly prohibited.
Perhaps this could see a strong separation in the division. Google may end up sporting a workforce of nice yet reckless do-gooder dog lovers, akin to the calamity prone Wallace of Gromit fame.
While Alphabet's future ranks could be formed of disciplined, cat-stroking evil geniuses, adept in working legal loopholes. Think lawyers merged with Connery-era Spectre Bond villains.
30 Sep 2015
Brevity is a lovely thing. Short sentences are sweet. A few words often trump many. This is why Twitter is a beloved social platform. Users are limited to a mere 140 characters per post, so their public ravings can be kept concise and clear.
Vitriol-spewing racists and misanthropes are kept relatively in check, while the annoyingly positive and smug show-offs are limited in their scope to ram words down your newsfeed.
This includes a new product that does away with the 140-character limit, and could enable people to post long-form content on Twitter.
People can already post images of long blocks of writing to bypass the limit, but such a workaround is not commonly used by the average Twitterer posting updates on their meals or raging against the UK's rail and transport services.
Twitter has already made moves to support longer comments when retweeting links, so the move to allow lengthier self-expression in general is not entirely unsurprising.
It would also appear that Dorsey is keen on exploring other changes to Twitter, even if his tenure in the hot seat is temporary.
"People have been very precious at Twitter about what Twitter can be and how much it can be evolved," a current senior employee told Re/code. "Having Jack come in and say it's OK makes all the difference in the world."
Dorsey may have his eye on expanding Twitter's reach beyond that of celebrities, brands, online extroverts and cynical media types, but many may oppose the idea of expanded tweets. Such a change could prompt a deluge of manifesto-length musings, rants, views and pontification, eroding the rapidly digestible nature of short tweets.
One could argue that these rumoured plans might turn Twitter into more of a Facebook-like platform. Mark Zuckerberg's social network sports a user base of around 1.5 billion people, so perhaps aping it a little is not such a bad thing for Twitter.
Animation is usually associated with pens, paper, iMacs and hipsters, not cloud computing and desktop virtualisation specialists.
But a tie-up between Citrix and animation technology company Nimble Collective has seen the firms work together to develop a platform that enables the animation community to create and distribute cartoons and animated videos through a cloud service.
Nimble Collective co-founder Jason Schleifer said the cloud platform has been designed to make access to animation technology available to small firms and individuals who don't have the resources of large animation houses.
"It actually takes about 500 artists an entire year to create one hour of animated content, which is amazing. It's incredible that studios can get all those people to work together to create this. It takes extreme collaboration and a lot of infrastructure," he explained.
"But what about the hundred thousand animation students that graduate every year? What about the small teams of people that want to create something and get it out in the world but don't have the resources, money or infrastructure to make that happen?"
Rex Grignon, president of Nimble Collective, outlined the company's ambitions: "We're here to help the small guy, to help independent artists get their film made. That's our mission."
Using Citrix technology, including the firm's WorkspacePod, the Nimble Collective cloud platform allows animators to tap into high-power graphics tools through a web browser rather than having expensive and extensive IT systems located in their workspace.
By using a cloud platform, multiple animators can work together on an film or project without needing to be in the same office or even the same continent.
Once an animation project is compete, it can be easily spread across the world through social networks such as YouTube and Facebook, allowing animators to showcase their work without needing the support of a major film studio.
At Citrix's Synergy 2015 conference in Orlando, Nimble Collective took to the stage during the opening keynote speech and demonstrated how the software works in real time, and presented a short animation based on unusual animal facts, which can be seen in below.
Nimble Collective might be using Citrix technology to create a cloud platform, but less tech-focused companies have also tapped into the virtualisation giant's products. Aer Lingus used Citrix desktop and app virtualisation to help the airline's planes create paperless cabins.
16 Jun 2014
A number of UK tech heroes have been recognised in the Queen's honours list and rewarded for their work in the industry.
The Honours were announced last week and saw a decent number of industry types given gongs. Knighted and commended were games developers and pioneers, industry figureheads and entrepreneurs.
David Braben, of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the creator of classic PC game Elite, was awarded an OBE.
"Heartfelt thanks to all those that have sent congratulations on my OBE. This award is for all of us at Frontier that have worked very hard," he said on Twitter.
Braben is one of Raspberry Pi's founding trustees. Earlier in June, during an event at Buckingham Palace, the Foundation was able to reveal that it had shipped three million Raspberry Pi units.
Also awarded the OBE is Dr Paul Hawkins, the sports technology pioneer whose work led to the creation of ball-tracking kit Hawk-Eye. The technology will be used at the tennis championships in Wimbledon this summer.
Belinda Parmar, campaigner and founder of the Lady Geek group, also received an OBE, and was commended for her services to women in technology.
"Thank you so much for all your OBE congratulations," she commented. "This award is for all of you who tirelessly work to get more women in tech."
Prosthetic limb pioneer Dr David Gow was awarded the CBE, his work on the I-Limb hand and his services to upper-limb prosthetics. Alastair Lukies, founder of Monitise, was also appointed a CBE.
Today, Toyota recalled 30,790 of its Prius hybrid cars in the UK because of a software glitch. While no accidents or injuries have been caused by the fault, we couldn't help but wonder what the implications for the I, Robot-style future of self-driving cars might be.
Toyota's issue is in the software that controls the car's hybrid system, specifically the boost converter, which is used when the car is accelerating hard from a standstill. In order to prevent overheating caused by the software pushing the car components too hard, drivers would see their cars operating at reduced power or may even find themselves grinding to a halt.
In order to fix the problem, owners will have to take their vehicle to a local Toyota dealership for a 40-minute software upgrade.
This is fairly upsetting for us at V3. While we don't own any Priuses ourselves, it does put our fantasy future of self-driving cars in jeopardy. Let's face it, Toyota's boost converter is probably a darn sight simpler than software that chooses whether you crash into your neighbour's garden fence or not.
A minor prang – or one serious accident – caused by software problems will surely spell the end of self-driving cars before they've properly begun. No doubt lawmakers and car manufacturers will insist the actual driver should be paying attention at all times, but humans are – for the most part – lazy. And yes, while passenger aircraft fly on autopilot for most of their journeys, their human pilots are (hopefully) awake, alert and ready to respond to any technical failures. The bleary-eyed car driver sipping their coffee on the way to work might not be quite so attentive.
A software update can't undo you writing off your car, or worse. It'll be fascinating to see how this is handled by car makers in the future.
By V3's Michael Passingham, who doesn't even trust auto-correct
Google may have killed off its Reader platform, but users who are looking for another way to manage their news feeds got welcome news from Digg.
The link-sharing site said that its own version of Reader is beginning its rollout to some users.
The RSS Reader feature will be offered as part of the Digg app for iOS. iPhone and iPad users will be able to access the feature and import their feeds from their Google accounts. Additionally, the company has begun to roll out beta versions of the Reader application to users who participated in a survey programme.
Users can also sign up to participate in the beta by adding their name to a waiting list.
“This beta version is aimed first and foremost at Google Reader users looking for a new home in advance of its imminent shutdown,” the company explained.
“Once you connect your Google Account, you’ll find all of your feeds and folders set up and ready to go.”
The decision by Digg to launch its own Reader came after Google revealed that it would be discontinuing its RSS aggregator of the same name. The company said that with interest in RSS readers waning, the project was no longer worth continuing.
Given the early response to Digg's project, however, Google might have been a bit hasty in declaring the death of Reader.
CharityBuzz is offering bidders the chance to have a cup of coffee with Apple chief executive Tim Cook. Bids are currently at $210,000 for the once and a lifetime chance to drink coffee with the guy who introduced the iPhone 5.
So far, 58 bidders have jumped on the chance to spend quality time with Cook. Those interested in the having a cup of Joe with Cook have until 14 May to make their dreams come true.
For those bidders who may try to milk their time with Cook, be warned that the coffee chat will last no longer than an hour. According to the auctions terms, Cook will not have coffee with anymore than two people and the winning bidder must supply their own travel to Apple HQ.
The auction brings up an obvious question. What would you talk about with the leader of Apple? Would you ask him about Steve Jobs? Whether the iWatch is for real? Can you have tea instead of coffee? There are just so many topics to cover and so little time.
No matter what the winning bidder talks about, the winning funds go to a good cause. All proceeds from the auction will go to the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. The group works to increase human rights around the globe.
Hopefully, Tim Cook's charitable nature extends to other past and present Apple executives. V3 looks forward to the day when former Apple chief executive John Sculley offers charitable souls the chance to spend a weekend with him.
Sculley is well renowned for firing Steve Jobs and selling sugar water. Perhaps Sculley could offer someone the chance to hang out for a total of two days in his derelict mansion.
For those unaware, Sculley's mansion is known as a design oddity that puts aesthetics over functionality. Architecture Digest called Sculley's mansion, "the architectural equivalent of the Apple III" and "the worst piece of design they have ever seen".
During your stay with Sculley you could be delighted with stories of the Newton PDA, Macintosh Portable, and what it's like to yell at Steve Jobs.
Communications with the International Space Station and Nasa briefly went offline.
According to Nasa, the loss of contact occurred during an update of the stations communications control software. The crew was eventually able to regain communications by switching controls to a backup computer.
During the communications blackout, the station's team was only able to communicate with Earth when orbiting above Russian ground stations every 90 minutes. Communications were down for about a three hour period in total.
The International Space Station was housing a six member crew at the time of the disconnection. Three Russian cosmonauts, two US astronauts, and a Canadian space explorer are reported to currently be on the station.
This isn't the first time that the space station and its crew have lost communications with Nasa. In 2010, the station and Nasa lost communications for about an hour.
Both cases highlight the annoyance of software updates. Whether you're working IT for a start-up or a scientist on the International Space Station, software updates are a chore.
Of course, if you do work IT at a start-up the chance that your update leaves you stranded in space is rather slim. That being said, if you do work at a start-up that could possibly leave you stranded in space: find new work immediately.