10/5/2005

BBC: Video iPod Set To Debut Next Week

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

ipod videoDuring a broadcast earlier in the day, BBC 6 Music news reported 鈥淎pple is set to unveil a new video iPod at the BBC Television Centre in London on October the 12th. The company is expected to reveal details of the new MP3 and video player as well as video bundles to be available from the company鈥檚 iTunes stores.鈥? Conflicting reports about the rumored video iPod have run rampant across the web since Apple sent out the 鈥淥ne More Thing…鈥? announcements yesterday. The broadcast is no longer available on the BBC site.

Related: Apple Officially Announced New Video iPod, iMac

Source: ilounge.com

Battlefield Robot Can Detect Snipers

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The maker of a track-wheeled robot used in Iraq and Afghanistan is developing a version designed to locate the source of sniper fire.

IRobot Corp.’s joint project with Boston University’s Photonics Center could protect soldiers by helping them quickly locate snipers and either steer clear of them or fire back.

Although the robot is meant solely as a defensive measure, its ability to calculate the target’s distance using laser and infrared light could ultimately lead others to build a new generation of robots that can fire weapons.

The sniper-detecting technology, paired with iRobot’s track-wheeled, bomb-disarming PackBot, made its first public appearance this week at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

In field tests last month at a firing range, the system located the source of gunfire from over 100 meters away 94 percent of the time, its developers say.

Source: AP

Pay With A Fingerprint

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A San Francisco start-up, Pay By Touch Solutions, is expected to announce today $130 million in fresh financing for a novel way of paying for groceries and other goods and services: a machine that reads your fingerprint.

The capital raised — $55 million of it in convertible notes and $75 million in loans — will help the company build out its finger-reading payment systems at several nationwide retailers, including in California in the first quarter of next year.

The company has already rolled out its so-called “biometric” payment system in a “couple of hundred” stores, mostly on the East Coast.

Here’s how it works: Customers sign up once, by registering a checking account or a credit card, and showing government identification such as a driver’s license. The Pay by Touch technology records the lines and ridges of their fingerprints, and translates the data into a numerical algorithm that is stored in a secure database. The customers thereafter never have to carry a wallet or purse back to the store, and can use their finger to pay for goods across the Pay By Touch network, which now includes stores in 10 states.

Source: siliconvalley.com

Government Cracks Down on Spyware Operation

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Government regulators are trying to shut down a company they say secretly downloaded spyware onto the computers of unwitting Internet users, rendering them helpless to a flood of pop-up ads, computer crashes and other annoyances.

The Federal Trade Commission accused Walter Rines of Stratham, N.H., and his company, Odysseus Marketing, of luring computer users with the promise of free software that would make peer-to-peer file sharing anonymous. The claim was bogus, the agency said, and the software was bundled with spyware that was secretly downloaded onto computers.

Rines said he has done nothing wrong and that users were fully aware of what they were downloading.

“There was nothing secretly installed anywhere,” he said. “In fact, the users had to click a box that said they read the end-user license agreement.”

The FTC said the disclosure about spyware was buried on his Web site.

Odysseus allegedly used a spyware program called Clientman that spawned downloads of dozens of other programs - slowing computers down, bombarding them with pop-up ads and redirecting them to fake search engines that were rigged to show Rines’ clients first, according to the FTC complaint.

Source: AP

Australia: Call For Ban On Worker Surveillance

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The final report of the Law Reform Commission has called for a new regulator to oversee the covert and overt monitoring of employees in the workplace.

The report, released today, called for new laws which would require employers to seek the permission from the regulator to test workers for drugs and alcohol and to install intrusive surveillance devices.

The report also called for the regulator to issue mandatory codes of conduct to cover video surveillance and monitoring of worker’s emails.

The chairman of the commission, Marcia Neave, said an outright ban on surveillance in toilets, change rooms, showers and bathrooms was also needed to protect the basic dignity of working people - even if employees agreed to such a move.

Ms Neave said a complaints system would be set up under the commission plan to allow workers and employers to resolve disputes about workplace privacy issues which would be conciliated by the regulator.

“Victoria currently has a patchwork of legislation covering privacy in the workplace and some practices are completely unregulated - for example, under the present law, workers can be asked to agree to being filmed in toilets and washrooms. We are recommending the introduction of an act which deals specifically with practices such as video surveillance, email monitoring and medical testing.” she said

Victoria’s Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, said employees were entitled to go to work without “big brother” watching their every move.

Related article: 63% Of Corporations Plan To Read Outbound Email

Source: The Age

Intel May Support Blu-ray Too

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

After endorsing HD-DVD, chipmaker says disc copy policy could prompt dual support.

Intel, which last week expressed support for the HD-DVD format for high-definition video discs, is open to also supporting the rival Blu-ray Disc format if its backers agree to allow copying of content from discs onto home multimedia servers, an Intel executive says.

Intel’s decision to join the HD-DVD Promotion Group and come out in favor of the format, which it did together with Microsoft, was a departure from the company’s usual stance of technology neutrality.

The decision was born out of a belief that the interests of consumers are being ignored as the world’s largest consumer electronics, computer and content companies prepared to bring two competing and incompatible high-definition optical disc formats to market, said Donald McDonald, vice president and general manager of Intel’s digital home group. He was speaking at a news conference at the Ceatec exhibition here on Tuesday.

Source: PCWorld

Comcast To Stream NHL Games

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Comcast’s more than 7.7 million High-Speed Internet customers will be the first and only broadband users to experience hockey action live on their PCs, during the 2005-2006 season.

This exclusive agreement gives Comcast High-Speed Internet customers access to up to two live games daily, for a total of up to 300 throughout the season, up through the Stanley Cup playoffs. Beginning October 5, users can view the live NHL games in the Sports channel on Comcast.net.

Comcast.net will begin adding new NHL content to its Sports Channel next month: Access to archive of streamed games (for 48 hours after original broadcast), Hockey Live Video Player, video clips of game highlights and more.

Content will be updated throughout the season, with future enhancements planned. These include: scoreboards, standings, league leaders, a fantasy hockey league, and additional community features.

Some HDTVs May Not Play HD Discs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The likely format battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc is bad enough for those eagerly awaiting the availability of favorite movies on high definition video discs, but soon there could be another reason to switch to a new format: many current HDTVs might be restricted to showing the movies in standard definition.

An industry group is set to rule soon whether millions of HDTV homes will be able to use their existing TV sets or have to buy new sets to watch the movies in high definition. The potential problem is centered on the way customers will connect one of the new HD video disc players to their televisions–or rather, the way that Hollywood wants them to connect, according to representatives of several consumer electronics companies at the Ceatec exhibition here this week.

Content owners, such as movie studios and broadcasters, want the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) connection that is only now becoming a common feature on HDTVs. It’s favored because the all-digital connection includes copy protection that makes it difficult to break into the video signal when it makes its way from the player to the TV set.

The problem is that millions of HDTV sets already in people’s homes don’t have HDMI sockets and use older analog methods to transfer video. Analog signals are much easier to tap into than digital signals and so pose a potential threat to studios because movie pirates could use them to copy the content. That would defeat several layers of antipiracy measures that have been built into both formats, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

A decision on whether to allow high-definition over analog connections is expected sometime in October or November and will be made by the group behind the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) content protection system.

It seems that Hollywood still didn’t learn that no matter what anti-piracy techniques they’ll come out with, it is just a matter of time until someone will crack it, so give us a break and let consumers backup their movies for fair use.

Source: PCWorld

China plans to launch own HD-DVD standard

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

China is developing its own high-definition DVD (HD-DVD) format and is scheduled to put it on to the market before 2008, the official Xinhua news agency reported citing an official.

Lu Da, deputy director of the National Disc Engineering Center, told the agency the format will be based on the prevailing HD-DVD format but will be incompatible with other HD-DVD systems.

China produces about 70-80 pct of the world’s DVD players. However, Chinese manufacturers need to pay licensing fee to overseas patent holders in the DVD industry, the agency said.

The licensing fee accounts for about 40 pct of the cost of each DVD player, Lu told the agency.

Source: forbes

Microsoft FAT Patents Rejected

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected two key Microsoft patent applications relating to its File Allocation Table file system. But Microsoft officials still hold out hope that the company ultimately will succeed in the quest to patent FAT.

In June 2004 the USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) said it would re-examine the patent Microsoft Corp. holds on FAT, a format used for the interchange of media between computers and digital devices.

That followed the request to re-examine the FAT patent, made in April by the Pubpat (Public Patent Foundation), a nonprofit public service organization that describes its mission as “protecting the public from the harms caused by wrongly issued patents and unsound patent policy.”

In September of last year, the patent office initially rejected Microsoft’s FAT patent application.

Now, this week, the USPTO rejected what are known as the Microsoft ‘517 and ‘352 patent applications, involving the long-file-name technology that is inherent to FAT.

Source: eWeek

Yahoo Inc. Acquires Event Planning Site Upcoming.org

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Yahoo Inc. has acquired Upcoming.org, an online event planning site that’s expected to infuse the Internet powerhouse with more content about local communities.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company confirmed the deal late Tuesday without disclosing financial terms of the acquisition.

Los Angeles-based Upcoming acts as a social calendar that depends on its users to post free listings about a wide range of upcoming events, from local rock concerts to picnics in the park.

The site, founded by Andy Baio, provides tools that enable users to share observations about the events and identify common areas of interests.

Source: AP

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