Weekend in tech: Web innovator, activist Aaron Swartz dies at 26

By on January 13, 2013, 1:21 PM

Aaron Swartz, tech prodigy and internet activist, is dead at 26 Aaron Swartz, the brilliant young software programmer and Internet activist who inspired awe and reverence from leading figures in the technology world, died in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday, his family said in a statement. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging. Swartz was 26 years old. A computer prodigy, Swartz co-authored an early version of the popular Internet tool RSS at age 14 and would later become an early leader of Reddit, the social website that has become a locus of Internet activism. Time

Can Meg Whitman reverse Hewlett-Packard's free fall? On Jan. 16, Hewlett-Packard plans to hold a ribbon-cutting to show off an overhauled customer meeting center at its headquarters in Palo Alto. A year in the making, the complex creates a striking first impression. The off-white 1980s-vintage entryway has been updated with an ultra-modern look -- lots of open space and blue lighting. Peer through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and you see that the space has been rebuilt around an old, bending oak tree in the middle of a courtyard: William Hewlett and David Packard planted it there back in the 1960s. BusinessWeek

AMD's Su says engineers transitioning from PC culture A senior executive at Advanced Micro Devices said the chipmaker's plan to expand beyond the struggling PC market has involved a difficult shift in company culture but is well under way. Lisa Su, AMD's Senior Vice President and General Manager of Global Business Units, told Reuters at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas that veteran engineers who for years have specialized in designing PC chips based on Intel's "x86" architecture are warming to new ways of doing things. Reuters

Introducing Vireio Perception (3D Driver for Oculus Rift) Today I introduce Vireio Perception, a Virtual Reality 3D driver designed specially for the Oculus Rift. Some of you may have been following the work I've been doing in the DIY section, for others this may be the first you hear of this. Anyway, Perception is basically a new stereo 3D driver with 3DOF head-tracking. Although only a handful of titles are supported at the moment, the experience you get with the driver is something that is not possible with current 3rd party options. MTBS3D

How did Lenovo become the world’s biggest computer company? Lenovo started humbly. Its founders established the Chinese technology firm in 1984 with $25,000 and held early meetings in a guard shack. It did well selling personal computers in China, but stumbled abroad. Its acquisition of IBM’s PC business in 2005 led, according to one insider, “to nearly complete organ rejection”. Gobbling up an entity double its size was never going to be easy. But cultural differences made it trickier. The Economist

Disruptions: design to propel technology forward Last year, at Apple’s event to announce the iPad Mini, I was wandering around the gadget petting zoo the company sets up after each product unveiling. As I turned a corner, I bumped into Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, who immediately wanted to show me something."Nick, just look at this," Mr. Cook said as he held the miniaturized iPad in the air, brushing his hand along its edge as if he were about to perform a magic trick. The NY Times

IBM's Watson gets a 'swear filter' after learning the Urban Dictionary Watson, the name for IBM's supercomputer best known for crushing "Jeopardy!" contestants at their own game, briefly went from "smart" to "smart ass" with the help of the Urban Dictionary. According to Eric Brown, an IBM research assistant and the "brains" behind Watson, he and his 35-person team wanted to get IBM's supercomputer to sound more like a real human. IBTimes

Printable, flexible, rechargeable, non-toxic zinc batteries could challenge lithium The familiar button battery is the workhorse of small electronics. While it is likely to continue to power our existing watches and calculators for a little while, it has become the limiting factor for many key design points of these devices. Like a shipping container in a world of instant messaging, it has no future. ExtremeTech

Why is Google Fiber the country’s only super-speed Internet? Google Fiber was supposed to be a shaming exercise. But any shame felt by the country’s big-name ISPs has yet to produce the sort of ultra-high-speed internet services we’ve all been hoping for. In 2010, Google announced that it would bring a 1,000 megabit (1 gigabit) per second fiber internet service to one lucky American city. Wired

1998’s most intriguing OS, 15 years later: Hands-on with Haiku alpha 4 Haiku is not only a Japanese short poem with a defined structure -- it's also the name of an open-source recreation of BeOS, an alternative operating system originally developed in the mid-1990s. It was the brainchild of Jean-Louis Gassée, a flamboyant, enthusiastic manager and head of Apple France. Ars Technica

Outside it's America: a BioShock Infinite interview I spent an evening with BioShock Infinite last month, and after playing a few hours into the game I met with the game's writer, Drew Holmes, to talk about what I'd seen and played. 1UP

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