5 Tech Observations to Start Your Day 122914

Welcome to the final week of 2014. Here are five technology news stories, insights, gossip, chatter and thoughts to start your day for Monday, Dec. 29, 2014.

Actually, today's update involves 11 items...

11. Carefully Timed Delivery: The NSA declassified a range of compliance errors on Christmas Eve. The documents detail the NSA's own failures to operate within the law, according to TechCrunch. The document dump arrived while most Americans and privacy rights activists were celebrating the holidays rather than keeping tabs on Uncle Sam.

10. Cloud Dollars for Entrepreneurs: EdX -- the online education platform backed by MIT and Harvard -- is offering $1000 in Amazon Web Services credits for students that complete the Entrepreneurship 101 or 102 courses. Here's who is eligible

9. Thank You: My daily routine goes something like this... Climb out of bed and scan my inbox to see what's on readers' minds. Then, summarize those inbox leads while adding my own spin in this blog. What a cool way to start each day. My biggest challenge? Finding a good "coffee" image to go with this blog entry.

8. Have You Seen My Puppy?: Yes, cops can use fake Facebook accounts to lure suspects, according to a federal judge's ruling. Facebook has been pushing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrator to stop impersonating users on the social network, notes CNN Money. But the feds haven't backed down.

7. Thumbs Down: If you write apps that leverage fingerprints in some way, beware. The Chaos Computer Club, Europe's largest hacker association, claims it can reproduce fingerprints from your public photos. Suddenly, touch based security could be called into question. But at least the "bad" news involves proactive demonstrations rather than re-active hacks involving Global 2000 businesses.

6. Goodbye, Rex: And so it's finally officially. The New York Jets have fired Coach Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik. I'm pretty excited. We're only a GM, coach, quarterback, offensive line and two cornerbacks away from a playoff run.

5. Big Expectations: Xiaomi is the world's most valuable tech startup -- with a valuation of $46 billion. Never heard of the company? Perhaps that's because they aren't based in Silicon Valley. Rather, Xiaomi is a Chinese smartphone maker. While the lofty valuation certainly raises some concerns about a tech bubble, Xiaomi is another healthy reminder that Apple, Google and other U.S. "giants" face an uphill battle in China -- which just blocked Gmail access, by the way.

4. Android Wear: Want some examples of good mobile apps for smart watches? GottaBeMobile offers these 10 Android Wear examples. I'm not suggesting they're awesome apps. But at least the list starts to give you a feel for where the wearable market could be going...

3. From Worst to First?: Assuming IBM shares don't somehow rally in a big way over the next few days, IBM's stock will be the worst performing Dow Jones Industrial Average member of 2014. Thanks to a range of cloud, mobile and big data moves, I'm starting to wonder if IBM shares have bottomed out. Could this Dog of the Dow regain its bark in 2015? I'm starting to think the answer is yes. So I purchased some IBM stock ahead of the New Year. 

2. Beantown Startups: What were the top 10 Boston-area venture capital deals of 2014? Alas, After Nines Inc. didn't make the list (we're sticking with our bootstrap strategy). But if you take a look at the top 10 list you'll notice most of the Boston-area startups focus on cyber security; healthcare IT and/or data management/data storage.

1. Holiday Schedule: A quick reminder. After Nines Inc. is closed for the holiday, reopening on Monday, Jan. 5. Our blog will have minimal (if any) updates, based on my morning caffeine intake and family obligations. Our daily newsletter will only distribute if the blog has been updated. Have a great holiday and wonderful New Year.

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