12/23/2009

Court: Microsoft violated patent; can’t sell Word

Filed under: — Aviran

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a $290 million judgment against Microsoft Corp. and issued an injunction that will prevent the sale of its popular Word software.

The court injunction is set to go into effect Jan. 11. Microsoft has said such a bar would prohibit the sale of all currently available versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office.

Microsoft had appealed a Texas jury verdict in favor of i4i Inc., a Toronto company. The jury found recent versions of Microsoft Word infringed on a software patent.

Microsoft has said that it and the public will both suffer if Word goes off the market while the company devises a workaround. The court said the decision does not affect copies of the programs sold before the injunction goes into effect, so Microsoft can still provide technical support to the old versions even if they infringe on the patent. .

12/22/2009

Secret neo-Nazi documents published

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Wikileaks is in the process of making a cache of documents and files from eleven different neo-Nazi organisations readable, and readily available, online.

The membership records and private messages are currently being formatted to make them easy for non-techies to read and will be released on the Wikileaks site shortly.

The organisation got massive publicity last year when it published a BNP membership list handed over by a disgruntled ex-member.

The raw data is already available but needs formatting so: “your grandmother can read them and google can find them… Journalists won’t write about it otherwise.”

The site is asking for volunteers with enough database skills to be able to expand fields and dumping to text.

The compressed data is about 54MB.

The internal documents include more than just membership lists. There are what seem to be private internal messages, forum posts and email addresses.

Google fined $14,300 a day in France over books

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A Paris court ruled Friday that Google Inc.’s expansion into digital books breaks France’s copyright laws, and a judge slapped the Internet search leader with a euro10,000-a-day fine until it stops showing literary snippets.

Besides being fined the equivalent of $14,300 for each day in violation, Google was ordered to pay euro300,000 ($430,000) in damages and interest to French publisher La Martiniere, which brought the case on behalf of a group of French publishers.

Google attorney Alexandra Neri said the company would appeal.

12/17/2009

Google demos image rec ‘quantum computer’

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google says it has developed a kind of quantum computer capable of identifying objects that appear in digital photos and videos. According to the company, the system outperforms the classical algorithms running across its current network of worldwide data centers.

Hartmut Neven, Google technical lead manager for image recognition, recently unveiled the company’s ongoing quantum computing work with a post to the company’s research blog, saying he was due to demonstrate the technology at last week’s Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Vancouver.

“Many Google services we offer depend on sophisticated artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning or pattern recognition,” Neven writes. “If one takes a closer look at such capabilities one realizes that they often require the solution of what mathematicians call hard combinatorial optimization problems. It turns out that solving the hardest of such problems requires server farms so large that they can never be built.

“A new type of machine, a so-called quantum computer, can help here.”

Harmut Neven joined Google in 2006, when the web giant acquired his image search startup, Neven Vision. In 2007, at the SC07 supercomputing conference, Neven joined D-Wave in demonstrating the Canadian company’s alleged quantum computer, and Neven now confirms that Google has spent the past three years working in tandem with D-Wave on a quantum system designed to identify images.

“Google has studied how problems such as recognizing an object in an image or learning to make an optimal decision based on example data can be made amenable to solution by quantum algorithms,” he says. “These algorithms promise to find higher quality solutions for optimization problems than obtainable with classical solvers.”

MIT unveils new ’smart’ bike wheel

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The clever folks at MIT have developed a smart wheel that could give bicycle riders a 21st century boost.

Unveiled Tuesday at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, MIT’s new Copenhagen wheel is trying to do its part to help the environment by making bike riding easier and more enjoyable.

The wheel’s battery can store energy as you step on the brakes and then return that power back to help you climb a hill or boost your speed. A sensor inside the hub measures your effort when you ride. As you pedal forward, the sensor tells the wheel’s electric motor to give you a boost. When you hit the brakes, the motor regenerates, slowing you down and recharging the batteries. The goal behind this design is to encourage people to bike farther distances, relying less on gas-guzzling transportation.

“Over the past few years we have seen a kind of biking renaissance, which started in Copenhagen and has spread from Paris to Barcelona to Montreal,” said Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT Senseable City Laboratory and the Copenhagen Wheel project, in a statement. “It’s sort of like ‘Biking 2.0′–whereby cheap electronics allow us to augment bikes and convert them into a more flexible, on-demand system.”

Beyond giving you an energy boost, the wheel has other secrets in its bright red hub. Using sensors and a Bluetooth connection, the wheel can talk to an iPhone mounted on the handlebars. Through an iPhone app, you can check your speed, direction, and distance traveled. The wheel can also monitor traffic conditions and smog and even keep track of your bicycling buddies.

The Copenhagen wheel embeds all the required electronics inside the hub, so no other gadgets need to be added to the bike frame. A special spoking method devised by the team also lets you install the hub on any rim.

Any existing bike can be retrofitted with the wheel. In fact, the MIT team sees it as a plug-and play-device, one that any bike owner should be able to easily install as a back wheel.

The Copenhagen wheel is targeted to hit the market within a year and will be sold by online retailers, consumer electronics vendors, and possibly bike stores. The wheel will cost as much as a standard electronic bike–somewhere between $500 and $1000.

Firefox 3.5.6 patches critical security holes

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Mozilla has updated its Firefox browser to patch three critical security holes.

Firefox 3.5.6 and 3.0.16 both suffered from memory corruption issues. “We presume that with enough effort at least some of these could be exploited to run arbitrary code,” the security advisory said.

In addition, Firefox 3.5.6 had two critical vulnerabilities in its technology for playing Ogg-format media, one with the liboggplay media library and one with the libtheora video library.

The patches are among 62 fixes in the new Firefox, software that’s translated into dozens of languages and runs on multiple operating systems. Users of the OS/2 operating system will be delighted to know that problems with Firefox’s full-screen mode and with print preview have been resolved.

Cheques to be phased out in 2018

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Cheques will be phased out by October 2018, but only if adequate alternatives are developed, the body that oversees payments strategy has said.

The board of the UK Payments Council has set the date in a bid to encourage the advance of other forms of payment.

The first cheque was written 350 years ago and the decision will be greeted with disappointment by some small businesses and consumers.

The Council said there should be “no scenario” for using cheques by 2018.

The target date for the closure of the system that processes cheques has been set for 31 October 2018, after the board described the payment method as in “terminal decline”.

However, there will be annual checks on the progress of other payments systems and a final review of the decision will be held in 2016.

Borders jumps into digital books fray

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Loss-making Borders, which has been losing readers to larger rival Barnes & Noble Inc, plans to integrate a new online store with its own website, Borders.com, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Kobo, a spinoff of Indigo Books & Music Inc that now provides books to customers in over 200 countries, will also host a separate e-book store that caters to multiple mobile devices from the Apple Inc iPhone and Palm Inc Pre to Research in Motion Ltd’s Blackberry and cell phones running on Google Inc’s Android operating system.

Idol creator launches new multimedia show

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Fuller, the man behind the money-spinning “Idol” pop singing contest, called his “If I Can Dream” venture “a new generation of post-reality entertainment.”

Launching in early 2010, it will document the story of five young people who dream of success in Hollywood and will allow fans to interact with them in real time.

Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, a subsidiary of CKX Inc, has partnered with online television viewing site Hulu.com, Clear Channel Radio, Newscorp’s MySpace, Pepsi and the Ford Motor Co..

Episodes of the show will stream exclusively on Hulu.com, which is jointly owned by News Corp, NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co, while Clear Channel Radio will promote the show on its radio stations and its online and mobile devices.

MySpace will allow fans to interact with the Hollywood hopefuls and audition via video uploads for a part in the show.

PepsiCo and Ford are creating marketing campaigns around the venture, 19 Entertainment said in a statement.

Fuller said the show was tailor made for a younger generation that conducts much of its life via social networking sites, mobile phones, tweets and text messages.

Like “American Idol” — the most-watched TV show in the United States — and the 100 spin-off versions around the world, viewers will play a role in creating potential stars of tomorrow.

Comcast unveils online viewing of cable TV shows

Filed under: — Aviran

Comcast Corp. customers can now watch several cable TV shows and movies over the Internet, a move aimed at helping the cable TV operator manage the flight of viewers to online video.

Comcast hopes that by making the service available starting Tuesday exclusively to subscribers, it can keep them from defecting to rival TV providers or the Internet.

Comcast, which announced the service in July before reaching a deal for majority control of NBC Universal, becomes the first cable TV operator to offer cable content online at no additional charge. Until now, programs available for free online have been generally limited to shows from the over-the-air broadcasters or to older movies.

Other subscription-TV operators with similar plans in the works include Time Warner Cable Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.’s FiOS service.

12/14/2009

Developing Its Own Phone, Google Is Taking On Apple

Filed under: — Aviran

Two titans of the tech world, Google and Apple, may soon be engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Or, more precisely, handset-to-handset combat.

Google plans to begin selling its own smartphone early next year, company employees say, a move that could challenge Apple’s leadership in one of the fastest-growing and most important technologies in decades.

Google’s new touch-screen Android phone, which it began giving to many employees to test last week, could also shake up the fundamentals of the cellphone market in the United States, where most phones work only on the networks of the wireless carriers that sold them.

The company, using the power of its brand, plans to market and sell the new phone directly to consumers over the Internet, and buyers would be able to sign up for service from any compatible provider, the employees say.

12/10/2009

UK air traffic control goes after Wikileaks

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The National Aviation and Transport Services (NATS) is threatening legal action against Wikileaks because the website has published a recording of the crashing of BA flight 038, call sign Speedbird 38, which came down just short of the Heathrow runway in 2008.

Earlier this month Wikileaks published an audio recording of air traffic controllers seeing, and reacting to, the crash and images of the control system. The Boeing 777 hit the ground just on the threshold of the runway at Heathrow. There were injuries, but no deaths.

NATS is claiming absolute copyright over the recording.

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