The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Wednesday, July 1

Court says NSA can keep collecting phone records... Vandals cut cables again... Leap second largely trouble-free

Court says NSA can keep collecting phone records even after Congress told it to stop

The National Security Agency just doesn't want to stop collecting records of U.S. telephone calls. Congress told it to stop -- but left a loophole in the USA Freedom Act so the courts could let it carry on. Now a U.S. surveillance court has approved a request from the FBI to extend the telephone records dragnet until Nov. 29. As the judge noted in his order: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Vandal cuts cable after opening manhole: FBI looks into it

The FBI is investigating another incident of damage to fiber-optic cables in the Bay Area. A vandal is reported to have opened a manhole in Alameda County and cut three cables. A separate incident in Portland, Oregon, also resulted in cables being severed, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Leap second poses few problems... except in Brazil

Traffic flows on the Internet were barely inconvenienced by the leap second introduced to keep electronic clocks in sync with the earth's gradually-slowing rotation yesterday. Although the different approaches to dealing with the leap second had the potential to disrupt communications between servers and routers, just half a percent of the world's networks -- many of them in Brazil -- suffered problems, and most were quickly back on line, PC World heard.

Zuckerberg's online Q&A goes offline because people liked it too much

And another outage: When Marc Zuckerberg took questions from an audience of Facebook friends, his company's servers struggled to cope. The problem was "an overload of likes," one employee told the New York Times, which managed to catch some of Zuckerberg's answers before the servers buckled.

Amazon wants to make cryptography simpler for app developers

Potentially saving the world from another online security disaster like last year's Heartbleed, Amazon Web Services has released as open source a cryptographic module for securing sensitive data passing over the Internet. The software, s2n, is a new implementation of Transport Layer Security (TLS), a protocol used to encrypt data between browsers and web servers.

Cisco plans to buy security-as-a-service provider OpenDNS

Cisco Systems has offered to buy Internet security service provider OpenDNS in order to beef up its Security Everywhere initiative. With its cloud-based service, OpenDNS prevents customers from connecting to IP addresses associated with criminal activity, botnets and malicious downloads.

Microsoft could write off two-thirds of the $7.9 billion it spent on Nokia's phone division

After buying Nokia's mobile phone business for $7.9 billion, Microsoft write off up to $5.5 billion of that as early as today, Computerworld reports. Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft exec who left to lead Nokia and returned to Microsoft after the acquisition, was ousted last month.

Say 'R': Industry forms consortium to help diagnose meaning of data

Microsoft, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle are among the companies forming a new consortium to support the R language, an open-source environment for statistical computing and graphics. The R Consortium will be hosted by the Linux Foundation.

Watch now

Google's cute little self-driving cars are now allowed on the streets around Mountain View. Catch a glimpse of them in the wild with IDG.TV.

One last thing

It's the title of an essay in BusinessWeek explaining programming to non-programmers in BusinessWeek: What is code?

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