3/3/2006

BlackBerry maker settles legal case, averts shutdown

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The maker of the iconic BlackBerry wireless device settled a patent lawsuit that could have spelled disaster for millions of users by shutting down its US service.

Research in Motion Ltd. said it had reached a “full and final settlement” worth 612.5 million dollars with NTP Inc., a US firm that had accused RIM of violating its patents in the mobile software used in the BlackBerry.

“All terms of the agreement have been finalized and the litigation against RIM has been dismissed by a court order this afternoon,” the Canadian BlackBerry maker said in a statement.

“NTP grants RIM an unfettered right to continue its business, including its BlackBerry-related business,” it said.

The BlackBerry, which can be used for phone calls, wireless e-mail and Internet browsing, became the world’s top-selling personal digital assistant last year with some 4.3 million users, moving ahead of Palm.

The prospect of a shutdown of the BlackBerry service had struck fear into the three million US users whose addiction to the device has earned it the nickname “CrackBerry”.

While the dispute was confined to the United States, RIM derives 70 percent of its revenues from US operations so any shutdown would have proved catastrophic for the company.

News of the settlement sent RIM’s shares rocketing in after-hours trade. Around 2300 GMT, the stock was up more than 17 percent at 84.31 dollars.

Source: AFP

Borland’s For-Sale Tools Place Well in IDE Competition

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Despite being targeted for divestiture by their owner, Borland Software’s development tools fared very well in a comparison of application development tools recently released by Evans Data.

Borland’s JBuilder Java IDE (integrated development environment) came in either first or second in several categories in the study, particularly those dealing with performance. And JBuilder was ranked second overall to IBM Rational Developer in terms of combined overall rankings among the nine IDE developers rated.

Borland’s JBuilder won top scores for the core IDE tools and for performance, prompting Janel Garvin, the Evans Data analyst who wrote the report, to say, “This presents a huge opportunity for some company to buy some of the best tools on the market. Perhaps Oracle should make this acquisition. Their Developer Suite IDE is not well-loved by its own users.”

Source: eWeek

Microsoft asks US courts to intervene in EU case

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft Corp said on Friday it had asked U.S. Federal courts to force IBM , Sun Microsystems Inc, Oracle Corp and Novell Inc to give it documents in its battle against the European Commission.

Microsoft is fighting a fine of up to 2 million euros ($2.4 million) a day for failing to carry out sanctions that the Commission, the
European Union’s executive arm, imposed on it in 2004 for violating EU antitrust laws.

Microsoft had asked the EU executive to turn over communications between the companies and the Commission, a “Monitoring Trustee” in the case, and a technical adviser to the Commission known as OTR.

Microsoft says it needs those documents for its defense against the fine.

“This evidence could also be important for Microsoft if the Commission imposes penalties for non-compliance (with the sanctions and) is forced to appeal to the European Court of First Instance and the European Court of Justice,” the company said.

Source: Reuters

Cell Phone Users Don’t Want Music And Video

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Most Americans don’t want to rock with their phones or squint at the latest episode of “Desperate Housewives” on a tiny screen, a new survey said Thursday. The poll tosses a wrench into cell phone providers’ efforts to make broadband applications like music and video downloads attractive to consumers.

The survey, conducted on behalf of Royal Bank of Canada’s RBC Capital Markets research group, interviewed 1,001 Americans and found that three-fourths said they weren’t interested in watching TV programs or movies on their handheld. Nearly as many — 69 percent — said they didn’t care to listen to music using their cell phone.

The reason, said RBC, was that people are spooked by the quick changes in mobile technology.

Source: InformationWeek

Cell Phone-Using Passengers Risk Airplane Safety

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

After studying the use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices on commercial aircraft, a team of Carnegie Mellon University researchers has concluded that passengers are regularly violating the ban on using the devices and are creating risk to airplane navigation.

“These devices can disrupt normal operation of key cockpit instruments, especially Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, which are increasingly vital for safe landings,” said Bill Strauss, one of the Carnegie Mellon investigators, in a statement this week.

The investigators had cooperation and support from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Agency, and three airlines in their study. The findings are at odds with the opinions of other investigators and with several airlines, which are allowing the use of laptops and Wi-Fi inflight.

The most glaring violations, according to the investigating team, involve passengers using cell phones in violation of existing FCC and FAA regulations.

Source: informationweek

Finns to test mobile phone radiation on human skin

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Finland’s radiation watchdog is to study the effects of mobile phones on human proteins by direct tests on people’s skin, to see if handset transmissions affect their health.

A pilot study, to be conducted next week, will expose a small area of skin on volunteers’ arms to cellphone radiation for the duration of a long phone call, or for one hour, research professor Dariusz Leszczynski said on Friday.

Researchers will then take a skin sample to study and compare with one taken before the radiation exposure, he told Reuters.

Cell samples used in previous laboratory tests by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority were all from women, and to keep consistency in the data, 10 female volunteers will be used in the new study — all of them employees at the watchdog.

In previous tests, Leszczynski’s group found evidence of mobile phone radiation causing cell-level changes such as shrinkage, but he said it was still impossible to say if that had significant health effects.

“Cells function in a different way when they are in the body than in laboratory surroundings. Now we want to confirm whether radiation causes cell level changes in humans as well,” he said.

Source: Reuters

AOL to sell shows online

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Time Warner Inc.’s AOL is preparing to sell programming on its Web site by the middle of this year, a top executive said, hastening a move to secure a position in the market for video-on-demand over the Internet.

The service will initially sell shows for $1.99 and will likely move to a variable pricing structure, where hit shows would carry a higher price, Kevin Conroy, executive vice president of AOL Media Networks, told Reuters.

Source: Reuters

Google, ABC team for Net, mobile news

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google is venturing further into the mobile and online news spaces by offering users expanded resources and access to up-to-the-nanosecond headlines.

Through a deal with ABC News, Google will provide live daily webcasts of “World News Now” with rankings on the day’s top search terms and the most popular stories on Google News.

In addition to the ABC News deal, mobile subscribers with Internet-capable phones who visit Google.com, will now find a link directing them to a page devoted to headlines from a variety of news outlets. Users can search by subject, though only story content designed to be viewed on mobile devices is included.

Source: Reuters

TiVo Helps Choose Kids’ Programs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

TiVo Inc., will introduce a service to help parents choose programs that are pre-screened as appropriate for children.

The service, which will be available in June, relies on recommendations from two family focused organizations, Common Sense Media and the Parents Television Council, TiVo Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rogers said in an interview today. Parents can choose from a menu of shows approved by each group.

The free feature from TiVo underscores the pressure from the Federal Communications Commission for the television industry to provide better screening options. The KidZone service may persuade consumers to pick TiVo over other digital-video recorders which don’t offer such screening, Rogers said.

Blocking inappropriate TV shows “is a massive issue,” Rogers said. The service will help differentiate TiVo from a generic video recorder, he said.

The cable-television industry plans to offer packages of family-oriented programs in the next few months after FCC Chairman Kevin Martin urged providers to adopt industry decency standards. Martin yesterday said the plan doesn’t give viewers enough control over channels they consider inappropriate.

Source: chicagotribune

Malware-Speak Spooks Symantec

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Symantec said Wednesday it plans to tweak the behavior of its Norton Internet Security and Norton Personal Firewall products so that they are no longer vulnerable to an annoying but otherwise harmless prank that “script kiddie” hackers have been using for the past week or so to knock users off online chat channels.

Last week, a hacker known as HM2K posted a note on his blog about a Norton security feature that could be abused on Internet relay chat (IRC) networks, simple, text-based communities that predate modern instant messaging systems. (Most IRC networks are used for the same purpose as regular instant-message networks like AOL Instant Messenger or MSN Messenger — to facilitate real-time online communication between two or more people at once. But virus and worm writers also use IRC to update and control their networks of infected computers.)

Turns out that if someone types “startkeylogger” or “stopkeylogger” in an IRC channel, anyone on the channel using the affected Norton products will be immediately kicked off without warning. These are commands typically issued by the Spybot worm, which spreads over IRC and peer-to-peer file-swapping networks, installing a program that records and transmits everything the victim types (known as a keylogger).

Source: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2006/03/keylogger_utterance_spooks_nor.html

Office formats alliance opens for business

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft Office is facing an organized challenge from an alliance of government bodies and IT vendors that are promoting OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Thirty-five organizations including IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, Oracle and Novell, plus international government representatives, are to start the Open Document Format Alliance, a group that will promote education and learning around ODF.

The ODF Alliance will operate through the Software Information Industry Association (SIIA), and represents a second attempt to push the XML-based ODF as an alternative to a set of XML file formats in Microsoft Office.

Sun, IBM and others are also pushing for the technical advancement of ODF through a committee of the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

The ODF Alliance has been founded in the wake of last year’s debacle around the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ declaration that all state IT departments dump proprietary document file formats by 2007 and adopt standards.

Massachusetts’ decision, reversed amid considerable acrimony and politicking, would have seen the state dump Microsoft Office for productivity suites using ODF. That would have allowed in IBM, Sun and others who support ODF.

ICANN: Reports on China’s Net scheme untrue

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the world’s domain names, and a Chinese Internet registry are each denying recent reports that the country plans to devise its own top-level domain names in order to circumvent ICANN’s historic control.

“We have no intention to create a new root server or split off from the Internet,” a spokeswoman for the China Internet Network Information Center told IDG News Service on Thursday.

Source: News.com

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