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ExtraBITS for 9 February 2015

In ExtraBITS this week cloud backup service Backblaze has released the raw data from its hard drive reliability studies, Verizon is bulking up its data plans, The New York Times examines Apple’s victory over Microsoft, and President Obama has announced modest NSA reforms.

Backblaze Releases Raw Hard Drive Reliability Data — Cloud backup service Backblaze has been releasing hard drive reliability data for the past year, but now they are making public their complete data sets from both 2013 and 2014. The data comes in comma-separated values (CSV) format for each year, ready for you to plug into the statistics program of your choice. The company plans to release data for future years as well.

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Verizon Beefs Up Data Plans — Verizon Wireless has announced that its More Everything plans with data allowances of 1 to 3 GB will receive an additional 1 GB of data for the same prices (or you can remain at the lower level for $10 less per month). The carrier is also offering new 6 GB ($70), 12 GB ($110), 14 GB ($120), and 16 GB ($130) data plans. It appears that subscribers must switch plans manually to take advantage of the change.

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How Apple Beat Microsoft — At the end of the 20th century, Microsoft was the unstoppable juggernaut of computing and Apple was on the ropes. Not only did Apple recover, but it’s now twice as big as the Redmond giant. James R. Stewart of The New York Times looks at what caused Apple’s rise and Microsoft’s relative descent. In short: Apple had a better sense of vision and wasn’t afraid to cannibalize its own products.

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President Obama Announces Modest NSA Reforms — If you have followed our Keeping Up with the Snoops series, you know all about the National Security Agency’s mass collection of civilian data. Now President Obama has announced a couple of minor changes to how such data will be collected and stored. U.S. intelligence agencies will be required to delete irrelevant data on Americans, and will be allowed to keep similar data on foreigners for no more than five years. There will also be regular White House reviews of what intelligence agencies are gathering.

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