Google Maps, Tele Atlas expand partnership

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google Maps has formed a five-year partnership with Tele Atlas, the Belgium-based mapping company that was already providing it with geographic information systems (GIS) data.

Under the new agreement–financial terms were not disclosed–Tele Atlas will provide maps and “dynamic content” for Google Maps in over 200 countries. Tele Atlas will also provide such data for other Google geographic divisions, such as Google Earth and Google Maps for Mobile, and to future Google projects that may require mapping data. Tele Atlas, in turn, will have access to annotations that Google Maps users have added to the system.

Rhapsody to challenge iTunes by embracing the iPod

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Digital music seller Rhapsody is launching a $50 million marketing assault on Apple’s iTunes, offering songs online and via partners including Yahoo Inc and Verizon Wireless, Rhapsody said on Monday.

The songs will be sold in MP3 format, which means users of the Rhapsody service will be able to play them on iPods.

Before now Rhapsody, jointly owned by Real Networks Inc and Viacom Inc’s MTV Networks, had focused on a subscription service, allowing unlimited song streaming for $13 to $15 a month, rather than selling downloads.

But Rhapsody Vice President Neil Smith said the fact the service has not been compatible with Apple Inc’s top-selling iPod digital player has limited Rhapsody’s reach.

“We’re no longer competing with the iPod,” Smith said. “We’re embracing it.”

Rhapsody also will be the music store back-end to MTV’s music Web sites and iLike, one of the most widely used music applications on social networking site Facebook.

Russia to create Internet addresses in Cyrillic

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Russia will be able to create its first Internet addresses using the Cyrillic alphabet next year, communications ministry official Vladimir Vassiliev told Interfax news agency on Sunday.

The move follows a decision by the organisation that regulates the Internet to deliver a radical shake-up to the domain-name system.

Russia, which currently uses two top-level domain names .ru and .su, will be able to create a third in Cyrillic by the second quarter of next year, Vassiliev said.

Some Russians have trouble using the Latin alphabet and being able to surf the web entirely in Russian would lead to an increase in the number of users, he said.

Google taps ‘Family Guy’ guy for Web series

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Web search giant Google has enlisted Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane to create an original animated series that it will distribute on the Web via its AdSense advertising system, according to a report in the New York Times .

Google plans to use AdSense to syndicate the program–called Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy–to thousands of Web sites that are popular with MacFarlane’s target audience, according to the newspaper. Advertising will be incorporated via “preroll” ads, banner ads, or “brought to you by” ads, according to the report.

MacFarlane is also reportedly working with advertisers to create original advertising to run with the Cavalcade content, although neither Google nor MacFarlane would reveal any of the advertisers, saying only that the deals were among AdSense’s largest ever.

Man auctions off his life, sale price disappoints

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A man who put his life up for auction on eBay found it wasn’t worth quite as much as he thought when he settled for around A$100,000 ($96,000) less than his target price.

Ian Usher, 44, held the seven-day auction of all his belongings, including his three-bedroom home in the west Australian city of Perth and a trial for his job at a rug store, after the break-up of his five-year marriage.

Bids had reached as high as A$2.2 million, only for Usher to discover there had been a glitch on eBay’s system which allowed the participation of non-registered bidders who had put in bogus offers.

In the end, the winning bidder agreed to pay A$399,300 ($380,286) for all of Usher’s worldly goods, which also include his friends, a motorcycle and a jetski. According to the eBay website, the mystery buyer, whose user name is “mslmcc”, is in Australia and has a 100 percent feedback score.

Usher, who gave regular updates on the auction on his Web site www.alife4sale.com, now plans to travel in search of a new life.


EMI sues Hi5, VideoEgg over user-uploaded videos

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The music giant is suing social-networking site Hi5, video advertising start-up VideoEgg, and 10 unnamed defendants for allegedly infringing on the copyrights of those and hundreds of other pop throwbacks.

The lawsuit alleges that Hi5 users have uploaded and disseminated hundreds of music videos the company owns rights to. VideoEgg is on the hook because it’s a former partner of Hi5, and those allegedly infringing videos were uploaded to its servers.

Orbitz to open-source monitoring system

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

On Monday, Orbitz Worldwide plans to announce the creation and release of two open-source projects, Extremely Reusable Monitoring API (ERMA) and Graphite. Though there were hints of these projects at JavaOne earlier this year, Monday’s announcement will add significant context to the work Orbitz has done to create two highly compelling open-source projects, whose applicability extends far beyond the travel industry.

On Friday, Orbitz gave me a preview of the announcement and the opportunity to talk with its sponsors, Winthrop Short, senior director of Orbitz Worldwide, and Matt O’Keefe, senior architect of Orbitz Worldwide. In talking with Winthrop and Matt, it’s clear to me that Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst’s vision for enterprise collaboration through open-source communities is going to be led by companies like Orbitz, companies for whom technology is not necessary drudgery but rather competitive advantage.

MPAA Scores First P2P Jury Conviction

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The MPAA must be celebrating. According to the BitTorrent news site Slyck.com, the Department of Justice is proclaiming their first P2P criminal copyright conviction, against an Elite Torrents administrator.

The press release notes, ‘The jury was presented with evidence that Dove was an administrator of a small group of Elite Torrents members known as “Uploaders,” who were responsible for supplying pirated content to the group. At sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2008, Dove faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.’


Israeli hackers penetrate Hamas website

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Israeli hackers boasted Thursday about breaking into the website of Izz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’ military wing, which now displays a white screen and words in Arabic announcing technical difficulties.

The hacker group, which calls itself Fanat al-Radical (the fanatical radicals), also said that it broke into additional terror organizations’ sites and those of various leftist movements.
Muslim Hacker

In a Ynet interview, a group representative who refused to reveal his name said, “We searched for relevant sites with the criteria we look for, whether leftist or anti-Zionist, and looked for loopholes. Our emphasis was always on the al-Qassam site.

“The criteria are defined as anti-Zionist or anti-Jewish sites that support or assist in harming Zionism and the existence of Israel as a Zionistic, Jewish state”.

According to him, the group consists of young adults from 16 to 18 years of age.

In addition to the Hamas military wing’s site, they also broke into the Balad political party site, that of the Hagada Hasmalit (the left bank), the Kibush (occupation) site and more.

The hacked sites are now equipped with an Israeli flag, the words of the Israeli national anthem “Hatikva” with vowels and pictures of Palestinian babies and children dressed as suicide bombers. A short explanation of why this specific site was broken into to begin with is also included.

The Left Bank site, considered by the group as “another site identifying with the left,” was broken into “due to its blatant anti-Zionist contents.”


ICANN Paves Way For New Domains

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The Internet’s key oversight agency relaxed rules Thursday to permit the introduction of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new Internet domain names to join “.com,” making the first sweeping changes in the network’s 25-year-old address system.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers unanimously approved the new guidelines as weeklong meetings in Paris concluded. ICANN also voted unanimously to open public comment on a separate proposal to permit addresses entirely in non-English languages for the first time.

New names won’t start appearing until at least next year, and ICANN won’t be deciding on specific ones quite yet. The organization still must work out many details, including fees for obtaining new names, expected to exceed $100,000 apiece to help ICANN cover up to $20 million in costs.

Domain names help computers find Web sites and route e-mail. Adding new suffixes can make it easier for Web sites to promote easy-to-remember names - given that many of the best ones have been claimed already under “.com.”

New names could cover locations such as “.nyc” and “.berlin” or industries such as “.bank.” The hefty application fees could curb a rush for individual vanity names, though larger companies might claim brands like “.disney.”

The new guidelines would make it easier for companies and groups to propose new suffixes. ICANN had accepted bids in 2000 and 2004, but reviews took much time, and one - “.post” for postal services - remains pending more than four years later. Ultimately, only 13 have been approved in those two rounds.

The streamlined guidelines call for applicants to go through an initial review phase, during which anyone may raise an objection on such grounds as racism, trademark conflicts and similarity to an existing suffix. If no objection is raised, approval would come quickly.


Sony to start US movie service for PS3

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Sony says it will start a movie download service for its PlayStation 3 home console this summer in the U.S.

Kazuo Hirai, who heads Sony Corp.’s video game unit, said Thursday the service will be offered in Japan and Europe at later dates, although details won’t be available until next month.

Hirai said the company will strengthen its network services and further cut costs to achieve profitability in the Sony gaming business in the current fiscal year ending March 2009.

Apple’s profit may be higher for new iPhone

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple Inc’s latest iPhone will be more profitable than any other product in its popular iPod line of music players, despite a price tag that is half of the previous iPhone, according to a study.

Helped by lower component costs, margins for the new iPhone are expected to exceed the 50 percent level achieved by Apple’s most popular media players, according to a preliminary study by research firm iSuppli Corp, released late on Tuesday.

“Apple’s iPod and iPhone products typically are priced about 50 percent more than their (materials and manufacturing) costs,” iSuppli said. “With the new iPhone sold at a price of $199 and the estimated subsidy of $300, Apple will achieve an even higher … margin.

Wireless phone carriers are expected pay a subsidy of about $300 to Apple for each of the new iPhones, iSupply said.

ISupply estimates manufacturing costs for Apple’s new high-speed iPhone totaled $173, compared with $265 for the original iPhone, released one year ago for about $500 with no subsidy. After what it called “component price reductions,” the initial iPhone carried a cost of $226.

“At … $173, the new iPhone is significantly less expensive to produce than the first-generation product, despite major improvements in the product’s functionality and unique usability, due to the addition of 3G communications,” said Dr. Jagdish Rebello, principal analyst for iSuppli.

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