TheSunnyMag: The Prism Files & Human Resources Tip from Al Qaida

As always, TheSunnyMag, a weekly collection of beautiful stories from around the world is here. The week before last saw the expose of PRISM, the US government’s secret program to monitor millions of Americans and people from other. We’ve collected a list of stories that piece the puzzle together. Besides, there are a list of amazing stories from around the web which includes an opinion piece by Julian Assange and an award winning piece on why India can’t feed its hungry. Have a good read.

The Prism Files

BigBrother-YourCountryNeedsYou.jpgNSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily: The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries. More here.

U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program: The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post. More here.

PRISM by the Numbers: A Guide to the Government’s Secret Internet Data-Mining Program: One day after The Guardian revealed that the U.S. government has been secretly collecting call log data from millions of Verizon customers, The Washington Post reported Thursday that the government’s monitoring of American’s data goes much, much deeper. The FBI and the National Security Agency are mining the servers of the country’s biggest technology companies for the purpose of hunting spies and terrorists. The program, code-named PRISM, is massive in scope and involves web services that many Americans use every day. Read more.

Intel Director Sets Record Straight on PRISM, Sort Of: Following a two-day storm of media headlines and company denials, he-saids and he-saids, the director of national intelligence has entered the fray to release a statement setting the record straight on the nature of its PRISM program, sort of. “PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program,” U.S. Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, wrote in the three-page statement (.PDF) released late today. More here.

Edward Snowden, NSA files source: ‘If they want to get you, in time they will’ Source for the Guardian’s NSA files on why he carried out the biggest intelligence leak in a generation – and what comes next. Read here.

Why Edward Snowden Is a Hero: Is Edward Snowden, the twenty-nine-year-old N.S.A. whistle-blower who was last said to be hiding in Hong Kong awaiting his fate, a hero or a traitor? He is a hero. (My colleague Jeffrey Toobin disagrees.) In revealing the colossal scale of the U.S. government’s eavesdropping on Americans and other people around the world, he has performed a great public service that more than outweighs any breach of trust he may have committed. Like Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who released the Pentagon Papers, and Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician who revealed the existence of Israel’s weapons program, before him, Snowden has brought to light important information that deserved to be in the public domain, while doing no lasting harm to the national security of his country. More here.

GadgetVice

The iOS and Android Two-Horse Race: A Deeper Look into Market Share: Over the past four years, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have been locked into a two horse race for mobile OS ownership. In the past year, there has been a lot of focus on the rise of Android and its lead in device market share. More recently, many analysts started questioning the true value of Android’s market share especially in the high-end smart phone and tablet markets. At Flurry, we felt that it was important to take a step back and look beyond straight device or activation numbers to simply understand what market or markets are being contested.  More here.

What happened with iOS7? Did Apple fall victim to design by committee? Read here.

Entrepreneuring

The Sickening Feeling: I’m writing after years months here – mostly due to lack of inspiration to scribble anything worthy enough for you to keep your reading attention. But today was different. Today I’m leaving my cozying up and spilling something which I’d kept within myself for 5 years. May be few close ones know but 99.99% of you reading don’t. It’s about “the sickening feeling” of running low on personal cash. Yes for some, you might have been there and for some not. But there’s always of back story to everything. More here.

They Acquire, Acquire, Acquire While We Build, Build, Build: Today, Salesforce announced their biggest acquisition to date: ExactTarget – revenue under $300 million, accumulated losses of over $60 million over 3 years – for $2.5 billion. Here is the interesting part: ExactTarget, which competes with our Zoho Campaigns product, has about 1600 employees, while all of Zoho Corp has about 1600 employees. By way of comparison, Salesforce has nearly 10,000 employees, and they are adding those additional 1600 employees today. With all that headcount, they still don’t have the breadth and depth of Zoho. At our annual Zoholics event last week we launched 3 new products (Zoho Pulse, Zoho Vault and the very handy Zoho Leads mobile app), and also announced numerous enhancements to the entire Zoho suite of offerings. More here.

Inside The Secretive Manhattan Dinner Party Where Deals Are Made: The scene: A sprawling, museum-like Upper West Side apartment. Massive. The rare Manhattan residence that you sincerely could get lost in. The winding halls are filled with fantastic wall-spanning works of cubist and modernist and other -ist art, broken up by more than a few giant bronze sculptures. More here.

The Story Behind the Lacoste Crocodile Shirt: Frenchman René Lacoste was a superstar tennis player. In 1926 and 1927, he was ranked number one in the world, and during his tennis career, he won seven Grand Slam championship tournaments. But he found the attire associated with the sport restrictive. Tennis whites, as they were called, consisted of a white, long-sleeved button-down shirt, long pants and a tie. It was a lot of clothing to wear when racing to the net to make an overhead shot. Read more.

The Silent Killers of Startup Growth: Building a startup into a successful high-impact company is not easy – it is hard no matter where in the world the founding team may be located or which geography is targeted. It is even harder in India, despite the macro outlook almost always looking rosy – 1+ billion people, strong economic growth, emerging market/BRIC, technical expertise, many underserved needs etc. More here.

Life Hack

Experts Rule: 15 Ways To Establish Authority in Your Field: If your business is about you and you’re building a personal brand, then it’s essential that you look for ways to stand out against the competition by establishing authority in your field. The process starts by providing helpful information to your target audience—content that appeals to their wants, needs, and challenges. Following are ways that you can stand out and make an impact within your field. More here.

The Big Picture

The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’: “THE New Digital Age” is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas. Read more by Julian Assange in The New York Times here.

Total World Debt Load at 313% of GDP: $223.3 trillion: The total indebtedness of the world, including all parts of the public and private sectors, amounting to 313% of global gross domestic product. Advanced economies tend to draw attention for their debt at the government and household levels. But emerging markets are gathering debt at an increasing pace to drive their economic development. More here.

Why Can’t India Feed Its People? It was 1958, my father was still a child, and India was running out of food. That year’s wheat crop had slumped by 15 percent, the rice harvest by 12 percent, and prices in the markets were soaring. Far from his village in eastern India, ships loaded with wheat were steaming toward the country, part of Dwight Eisenhower’s plan to sell surplus grains, tobacco, and dairy products to friendly countries. All India Radio gave daily updates on the convoys, and the army barricaded ports in Mumbai and Kolkata against the hungry crowds.  More here.

Misc

The al-Qaida terrorist who was told he must do better: Mokhtar Belmokhtar didn’t take phone calls, he never filed expenses, he missed meetings – no wonder his bosses tried to rein him in. It’s just that he worked for a terror organisation. More here.

How the ‘Forbes India’ editors were forced out: The abrupt exit last week of the top four editorial heads of the business magazine Forbes India, including of its editor Indrajit Gupta, has swung the spotlight once again on the questionable—but rarely ever questioned—human resources (HR) policies and practices in Indian media houses. More here.

HardCode

Hacking into the Indian Education System: In the last several weeks, in a time wedged awkwardly between the end of my college finals and my summer internship, I’ve been exposed to some information that left me quite flabbergasted. It started about a month ago. It was a very important day in the lives of two of my juniors and close friends, Sumit Shyamsukha and Ronak Shah. It was the day their board examination marks, the ICSE and the ISC respectively, were to be released. To put this in context to our non-Indian readers, the ICSE is a 10th grade national examination and the ISC is its 12th grade counterpart. I am not aware of the exact numbers, but I believe the board who holds these examinations, ambiguously named CISCE, is the second most popular board of education in India, after the CBSE. Around 150,000 students take the ICSE and around 65,000 take the ISC from in and around India. More here.

8 E-Commerce SEO Tips Gathered From A Decade Of Consulting: In the comments of my last column about how I doubled e-commerce revenue for clients by focusing on user intent, readers asked for some more specific e-commerce SEO tips that they could apply in their own client work. Today’s article shares some valuable lessons gathered over a decade of SEO work for e-commerce clients. These 8 e-commerce SEO tips have the power to transform any online business and boost profits. More here.

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