High-tech hot topics: Gawker password breach, Apple Mac App store, Google Voice Search

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The Independent Tech

Hot topics in the tech blogs for the week ending December 17 include a Gawker Media password breach, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is named Time's 'Person of the Year,' Google launches personalized voice recognition, Yahoo! lays off staff, plans to shut down Del.icio.us, and Apple announces a launch date for its Mac App Store.

Gawker password breach
Gawker Media's commenter databases were infiltrated by hackers who exposed the encrypted passwords and email addresses of more than 1 million users. The hack "prompted a number of web companies [including LinkedIn, World of Warcraft and Yahoo!] to reset passwords of users they think were affected by the attack," wrote Gadget Venue. Other sites wrote about users' "ridiculous password habits," finding '123456' and 'password' to be the most popular passwords used on Gawker sites such as Gizmodo, Jezebel, Jalopnik and Lifehacker.

Mark Zuckerberg named Time's 'Person of the Year'
Time proclaimed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg their 'Person of the Year' and noted his long list of accomplishments, not limited to "wire[ing] together a twelfth of humanity into a single network." Bloggers complained about Time's choice saying, "what did Mark Zuckerberg do this year that he hadn't done before?" and "the more obvious, though exponentially more controversial choice, would have been [Julian] Assange, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wikileaks."

Google makes voice search personal
Google introduced personalized voice recognition for mobile search, taking its existing Vocal Search application one step further. Vocal Search lets people speak the search terms they are looking for instead of tapping them into the phone's search engine. With personalized voice recognition Vocal Search will be able to learn how to recognize and understand the unique accent and speech patterns in each user's voice, improving accuracy over time.

Yahoo! lays off staff, plans to shut down Del.icio.us

In the days following reports of Yahoo!'s staff layoffs, rumors started to appear about the company shutting down social bookmarking site Del.icio.us. Bloggers say Yahoo!'s statements regarding the rumors confirm the company's plans to "sunset" or shut down some of its acquired and internally developed properties including Delicious, MyBlogLog, Yahoo! Picks, AltaVista, Yahoo! Bookmarks and Yahoo! Buzz.

Apple Mac App store
Apple announced that it will be opening its Mac App Store for Mac OS X Snow Leopard on January 6. The store will offer both paid and free applications for Mac users in around 90 countries at launch. Like Apple's existing App store for iOS devices, the Mac App Store will help users find new apps, provide user ratings and reviews, and will let users purchase, download and install apps with just one click.