White House goes mobile
Did you miss President Obama’s State of the Union speech? Not if you had an iPhone or iPod Touch. A week before the speech, the White House unveiled an iPhone app that streamed content from the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address to Apple’s handheld users. The up-to-date content it provides includes news, briefs, events and live-streaming coverage of the President and other White House officials. Other features of the app include instant access to the White House blog, photos, and full videos of recent speeches and press briefings. You can download the application for free at Apple’s iTunes store. Not an iPhone or iPod Touch user? The White House also has plans to launch mobile.WhiteHouse.gov soon. This mobile-ready version of WhiteHouse.gov will be functional for any Internet-enabled mobile device, including many other phones.    — Katie Serignese

Your backdoor is open
Security expert Bruce Schneier found an especially troubling aspect of Google’s recent retreat from China. Google’s Gmail service was hacked by the Chinese, which surprises nobody. But what was unsettling was that the Chinese were able to exploit built-in backdoors in Gmail and other Google services, seizing control that was inadvertently handed to them. The Chinese also took advantage of Google’s data retention policies to spy on dissidents. The result: Hackers had full access to electronic communications, and perhaps more, as these backdoors and data retention policies are not just limited to Gmail. Nor are they just limited to Google itself; Schneier contends that these backdoors, built to comply with American law, are found all over electronic services that we use, such as in banks. Your data is already open to being compromised by snoopers, official, criminal or otherwise. It’s times like these that make stuffing your money under your mattress seem like a sound idea.    — Adam LoBelia

Microsoft’s Cambridge crib
Microsoft has nifty digs in Cambridge. The facilities house a growing branch of Microsoft research, and Microsoft employees work in an open environment, without walls between workstations. Managers also work among the rank and file. There is an adjacent facility called NERD that is open to the public; anyone can book the space for meetings and events. Microsoft keeps the lights on. It has state of the art conference rooms and random Surface PC meeting areas. I was told that a local Java user group meets at NERD. Call it “goodwill” or a PR ploy, but hotels are a luxury during these tough economic times. NERD might be a nice alternative for cash-strapped user groups and clubs. Check it out if you are in the Boston area.    — David Worthington

White noise as background
Everyone works in his or her own way. When I am writing, I like to play some music; usually clicks and whistles, as my wife refers to my favorite types of music. Other folks I’ve met work best with headphones on so that their music cannot escape and infect others. Still other people I know work best when sitting two inches from their laptop, headphones on, and an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation streaming onto their screen. I can’t really work when anyone is talking, much less Captain Picard, but then I can see the appeal of listening to his soothing voice and calm commands under fire. As time goes by, there is a steady increase in the number of working options available to most people. It’s getting to the point where just about anyone can work from home, and with that option comes the option to co-work, or to go to a coffee shop or public space to get things done. There’s something that makes it easier to work when you are surrounded by the almost deafening click clack of other people typing. And that’s a sound that is also music to my ears.    — Alex Handy