iFive: Skype iPhone Video on Verizon, Experia vs. American Airlines, Bank Loophole Censoring, Stuxnet’s Success, Eternal Plane

The holiday weekend is over, folks–reality snaps back in place for a week, and here’s the early news to get you back on track:

Julian Assange must’ve had a complicated Christmas, under high-tech house arrest. But apparently he scored one very big Christmas gift: A $1.5 million book deal with Random House about the WikiLeaks affair, due in 2011. It’ll help his legal fees and possibly to keep the site alive. On with the news:


1. Check this out for hot gossip: Several Skype rumors popped up over the weekend about iPhone video calling plans–but none as “leaky” as this one. Skype’s popped up a help page, splashed with the Skype logo and a Verizon one, saying “how do I make video calls with Skype for iPhone?” CES in a few days, folks…

2. After some odd tussling between Orbitz and American Airlines (since the airline seems to be maneuvering to block middlemen in sales of its services, and potentially strong-arming Orbitz’s business unfairly), the battle has escalated: Experia, a much bigger entity, has now made it harder to find AA flights–for the same anti-competitive reasons.

3. Remember the Stuxnet virus? It may actually demonstrate that 2010 is the year viruses got politically serious: Reports are now suggesting it may have wrecked over 1,000 nuclear centrifuges in Iran, which is an incredible sabotage success for a few lines of code. The trick was to play with the motor speeds, apparently–burning them out in situ.

4. Cambridge Uni is making a bold stiff-upper-lipped free-speech stance, and is refusing to censor a student’s research. The U.K.’s banks demanded the action after a researcher’s thesis revealed big security holes in the chip-and-PIN security system used on credit cards instead of signatures. Rather than fix their system, they tried to bully one of Britain’s oldest academic institutions.

5. Zephyr, a solar-powered ultra-light automatic device built by U.K. defense firm QinetiQ, was just awarded three world records for a flight earlier in 2010: It beat a Global Hawk for longest flight of any UAV, and won the longest flight and highest altitude (70,000 feet) of its middle-weight class. Why’s it exciting? Because as well as war-fighting, Zephyr’s a test-bed for flying cell phone masts, which could dynamically re-deploy to cities during the day to make your dropped calls a thing of the past.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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