The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Thursday, July 9

NYSE down but it's no cyberattack... Microsoft slims down phone business again... IBM makes world's smallest chips

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

NYSE halts trading as IT systems go down... but it's no cyberattack

Trading on the New York Stock Exchange halted for over three hours Wednesday due to unspecified computer problems. The exchange quickly ruled out a cyberattack, which means there are likely to be red faces in the NYSE IT department when the cause is uncovered.

Microsoft lays off 7,800 staff as it dials down its smartphone ambitions

A little over a year after buying Nokia's smartphone division, Microsoft is laying off all but one-sixth of the division's staff, and writing off $7.6 billion, almost all of its purchase price. CEO Satya Nadella reportedly never liked the acquisition, set in motion by his predecessor Steve Ballmer, and now plans to slim down the bewildering array of Lumia phones the company makes, more tightly integrating them with Windows 10.

IBM makes world's smallest chips - but has no plans for mass production

There have been fears that 'Moore's Law" -- predicting the inexorable shrinking of microchips -- would stall as the laws of physics made it impossible to make them any smaller. The New York Times reports that IBM has staved off that day -- for the time being -- with new chips the smallest features of which are just 7 nanometers apart, made using a mix of silicon and germanium, another semiconductor. IBM recently sold its last chip fab to GlobalFoundry, so it's hard to say who will be the first to use this new technique, or when. Chip manufacturers today are working on the transition from 14nm to 10nm production lines.

Manhattan DA gives the lie to FBI bluster over encryption risks

The FBI wants backdoors into encrypted devices and communications; encryption experts say that's a really bad idea. But how big a problem does encryption pose in law enforcement investigations? Manhattan's District Attorney Cyrus Vance told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that in the nine months or so since Apple upgraded the full-disk encryption of iOS 8 so it couldn't provide law enforcers the keys, iPhones running iOS 8 turned up in 92 cases, and 74 of them were locked. The DA's office handles around 100,000 cases each year, so around one case in 1000 involved an iPhone from which law enforcers were locked out -- but, said the DA, none of those investigations were stymied by the lack of access, Wired reported.

Quip takes on Microsoft Office with desktop apps for Windows, Mac

As Microsoft moves its desktop office app users to the online service Office 365, its cloud-based competitor Quip is heading the other way with the launch of desktop app versions of its wordprocessing and spreadsheet services. Quip's new app is another swing at Microsoft Office's dominance of the productivity suite market, which has already seen market share eaten away by Google Apps and Google Docs.

Patch your Flash Player: Hacking Team's secret weapon is now public knowledge

Adobe Systems was forced to rush the release of a Flash Player update after an exploit for a previously unknown vulnerability was leaked on the Internet and quickly adopted by cybercriminals. It's been publicly known since Tuesday, when security researchers found an exploit for it among corporate files leaked from a surveillance software developer called Hacking Team. The exploit was likely used by Hacking Team's customers, who are mostly government agencies, to silently install the company's surveillance software on their targets' computers, but now it's in the hands of a different bunch of miscreants.

Watch now

If you thought there was nothing left to say about the Apple Watch, here's The Joy of Tech's review of it.

One last thing

While Wednesday's three-hour stock market outage is nothing to be scared of, it's yet another reminder of how dependent we are on software, one way or another. And that, says Zeynep Tufekci over at Medium, is something to be scared of.

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