If you ever thought that Google just waved their fingers and had magical algorithms working their search results, you'd be flat out wrong. The Register has opened up the Google 160-page guidebook, which is a reference manual for human "raters".
This has revealed that there's a big human involvement in the results provided by Google when a user runs a search. Google actually outsource to a few different crowdsourcing agencies - Lionbridge and Leapforce, where they use real people and their real-life opinions on search results. The Register refers to one Leapforce job ad, where they employ around 1500 search assessors which is a great work-from-home job.
Before landing this glorious work-from-home job, a potential employee must first pass an initial examination. After this, search assessors will receive periodic Google evaluations to ensure they're doing a standup job on grading search results. The 160-page manual also informs raters about how to rank search results basic on multiple metrics, such as quality, relevance and spamminess. Google's search assessors will judge the results for various queries and choose from different tiered grades, including "Not Spam", "Maybe Spam", "Porn", "Off-Topic", "Unratable", "Vital" and more.
Samsung just can't seem to escape being sued lately. After losing to Apple to the tune of $1 billion, Ericsson has now filed a lawsuit against the South Korean electronics giant claiming that they have refused to sign licensing agreements for some of Ericsson's patents, even after two years of negotiations.
Ericsson issued the following statement on their website:
The dispute concerns both Ericsson's patented technology that is essential to several telecommunications and networking standards used by Samsung's products as well as other of Ericsson's patented inventions that are frequently implemented in wireless and consumer electronics products. Ericsson has concluded that it has no option other than legal action after negotiations have not been successful since Samsung has refused to take a license on FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) terms
Chief Intellectual Property officer at Ericsson, Kasim Alfalahi, has said that this is the last resort and that the company did their best to try and settle the matter with Samsung without having to involve the courts. The lawsuit has been filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
"Ericsson has tried long and hard to amicably come to an agreement with Samsung. We have turned to litigation as a last resort," Kasim Alfalahi, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson, said in the statement.
Google has settled with Immersion just nine months after it was sued by Immersion, a company that develops touch feedback systems. The deal sees Google licensing the patents for use in future Motorola devices, along with compensating the company for using the technology in prior Motorola devices.
The lawsuit was filed against Motorola before Google officially acquired them in May 2012. The original lawsuit alleged that Motorola infringed upon six of Immersions patents and was filed with the US ITC, which has the power to block imports should a device be found to be infringing. CEO Victor Viegas:
The successful resolution of this case is a critical step in our overall strategy of enforcing and monetizing our intellectual property, including Basic Haptics, and we're pleased to achieve a settlement that is consistent with our business model, which is largely based on per unit running royalties.
We remain fully committed to enforcing our IP rights while continuing to innovate and create new technology and solutions for the mobile space. While the terms of the settlement will remain confidential and are not anticipated to have a material impact on our financial results for 2012, this settlement is a great step forward in validating the value of our IP portfolio and the investments we have made in the mobile market.
Immersion has outstanding lawsuits over similar technology against HTC.
Amazon is touting that Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the best days for the Kindle family in terms of sales. They say that Cyber Monday more than doubled last year's numbers for the Kindle family, which puts this at the single best day. These sales were certainly helped by the fact Amazon put the Kindle Fire on sale.
Amazon provided the following as the milestones for the holiday shopping weekend:
- Cyber Monday 2012 was the biggest day ever for Kindle sales worldwide.
- The top 4 spots on the worldwide Amazon best sellers list since launch nearly three months ago are Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fires.
- To celebrate Cyber Monday, Amazon.com offered a special deal-just $129 for the Kindle Fire. Customers flocked to the deal, making this the biggest Cyber Monday deal ever for Amazon.com.
- Kindle Fire HD is the most gifted and most wished for product on Amazon worldwide since launch.
- 9 out of the top 10 best-selling products on Amazon worldwide since 9/6 are Kindles, Kindle accessories and digital content.
Back in 2007, NEC gave the world a glimpse at portable forensics in the form of a portable DNA analyzer but between then and now, not much has happened, nor materialized.
Well, there's a next-generation analyzer due in 2014, which would put the full DNA extraction, amplification and separation process on a newer chip that meets NEC's goals of producing output within 25 minutes.
The new analyzer is set to weigh around 70.5 pounds, and have a cost of $120,000 - so it'd most likely only be for guys like Dexter Morgan with the Miami Dade PD. The new DNA analyzer will come in the form of a small, rolling suitcase - so not only will it be capable of all sorts of lab geek stuff, it'll also look cool while doing so.
Crowd funding and project pushing site, Kickstarter, have announced that they've seen 3 million people back projects on the site. Kickstarter have launched a total of, and still counting, 78,497 projects on the site.
Donation numbers are huge - seeing $362 million in "successful" donations, with 3,242 donations currently live and the success rate of projects is currently sitting at around 42%.
It was only back in April that Kickstarter came out and announced they had raised $119 million with $6 million in commission. Some projects are obviously more successful than others, but we're continuing to see records broken on funding amounts. I haven't backed many projects myself, outside of the Ouya console. What about you?
Apple no longer needs to fear being sued over its use of the word "Lightning" to describe its new dock connector. On Thanksgiving Day it was made official that Apple could use the trademark to market products in the audio and video equipment, TV, telephones, software, pinball machine, and eyeglasses categories.
The fact that Apple has only received these applications of the trademark indicate that they were fairly specific in what they wanted from the trademark. The owner of the original trademark retains licensing rights for clothing, footwear, and other applications that were in the original application.
The owner of "lightning" is H-D Michigan, LLC, which is believed to be Harley-Davidson, the makers of those gorgeous motorcycles. It's not perfectly clear that this is owned by Harley-Davidson, but their holding company is located in Michigan, so it makes sense that they are one in the same.
A collection of adult movie companies aren't happy with Verizon. They say that the ISP defends BitTorrent pirates by systematically rejecting court-ordered subpoenas for information and they claim that these objections are in bad faith due to Verizon supposedly getting profit from users who are BitTorrenting.
A court has previously ruled that an IP address is not enough to hold someone responsible for pirating, but that hasn't stopped companies from trying. Adult movie companies are still filing the mass lawsuits using IPs as the identification of the users. They then ask the court to subpoena the ISP for subscriber information.
Verizon currently rejects these requests systematically as the subscriber isn't necessarily the one who did the illegal sharing. Verizon argues that "[The subpoena] seeks information that is protected from disclosure by third parties' rights of privacy and protections guaranteed by the first amendment."
"Verizon's current Objections can only be seen as being asserted in bad faith, and with the expectation to continue to profit from BitTorrent infringement at the expense of other, lower-tier ISPs and the consuming public at large. There is seemingly no incentive for ISPs such as Verizon to aggressively identify infringers on their network," the plaintiffs argue.
There were wonderful stories through Black Friday, as usual, with people camping out for days on end, and I even heard that a woman gave birth at a shopping centre throughout the Black Friday sales - but just how well did retailers go, sales wise?
Well, according to comScore, 57.3 million Americans took part in Black Friday sales, spending a record-breaking $1.04 billion. ComScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni, has said:
With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it a multi-channel marketing phenomenon.
ComScore also said that digital content sales are on the up and up, with a 29% increase in digital content sales year-over-year. Fulgoni has projected $1.5 billion or more in Cyber Monday sales, which we should hear about in the coming hours.
The whole debacle with MegaUpload founder, Kim Dotcom, has been pretty bad since day one - but now new evidence has popped up and has Dotcom seeking to have the case against him dismissed.
The new evidence suggests the FBI forced Dotcom to preserve 39 pirated movies from another case unrelated to us, with Dotcom's lawyers saying that the 39 movie files were uploaded after the FBI investigated a website called 'ninjavideo.com', this site used a cloud storage database from megaupload.com to store the movies in 2010. The FBI then made a seizure on megaupload.com.
The 39 files were identified during an investigation into the NinjaVideo site, which used MegaUpload's cloud storage for their pirated movies. The FBI later took down the MegaUpload site, based that seizure on the same files being stored, even though Dotcom says he was cooperating with the FBI as much as possible.
Apple just doesn't stop - asks judge to add Samsung's Galaxy Note II and other smartphones to latest suit
Seriously, Apple - innovate instead of suing. You have one god damn smartphone on the market, the iPhone 5, in a single size - and yet they just continue bashing forward with lawsuits. Their market cap has experienced over $150 billion in drops in the past two months - and it has no signs of slowing.
Well, today Apple have launched yet another suit, adding the Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III with Android 4.1 and four other products to their latest lawsuit against Samsung. Apple have already added some of those devices, such as the Galaxy S III, but between then and now, they've received software updates - which leads us to another round of requested inclusions, sigh.
The other four devices added are Samsung's Galaxy S III mini, Rugby Pro, Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wi-Fi and the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. With these devices, we could see the lawsuits (plural) dragged out into 2014 - hearings are expected to take place early next year.
It's a constant message repeated by the RIAA, MPAA, and others: Pirating is bad. However, a new study conducted in the UK has shown that UK customers who pirate end up spending way more at the box office than those who don't do any sort of illegal file sharing. It's the type of findings that the RIAA don't like people to hear.
The survey, conducted by OFCOM, interviewed 4,400 Internet users aged 12 and up. The resulting 94-page report shows that 16 percent of respondents had downloaded at least one item illegally and one-quarter of the group consumed only pirated content. The flip-side of this is that 75 percent of the pirates also pay for digital content.
The so-called "hybrid" pirates make up roughly 12 percent of the British population and the report claims that people in this group spend up to three times as much as non-pirates on legal purchases. 48 percent of respondents said they download illegally because it's convenient and 44 percent said they do it because it's quick.
Google updated its Transparency Report last month and it now shows more data than it previously did. The new information includes numbers on government requests to Google for user data. This means Google is reporting how many warrants or other requests for information (subpoena, etc) they get by which governments.
I'm sure you can guess which country makes the most requests of Google, and, no, it isn't Iran or China. In fact, it's the United States and Google says most of the requests are to aid in criminal investigations, however, Google "can't always be sure that a request necessarily relates to a criminal investigation."
Go figure. Following the United States, India, Brazil, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have the next highest number of requests, but they are a good distance behind the good ol' US. The US has requested nearly 8,000 times about more than 16,000 users. 90 percent of these requests have been partially or fully complied with.
India, the number two country, has only filed 2,300 requests about 3,500 users. Only 64 percent of those were partially or completely complied with.
What kind of world do we live in where police raid a house and take a 9-year-old's laptop that is adorned with Winnie the Pooh stickers? Well, apparently Finnish police feel this is an acceptable thing to do. According to TorrentFreak, police showed up at the girl's house after her dad didn't pay a fine.
CIAPC, an anti-piracy company, managed to get Finnish ISPs to block The Pirate Bay. They started tracking BitTorrent users and, in particular, this one little girl. They sent a letter, which was received by the father and owner of the internet connection, demanding a cash settlement without any sort of trial.
The father, of course, refused to pay. This prompted police to raid the home of the 9-year-old suspect and confiscate her laptop, which was decorated with Winne the Pooh stickers, mind you. "It would have been easier for all concerned if you had paid the compensation," the police advised.
"I got the feeling that there had been people from the MAFIA demanding money at the door," the girl's father explained.
"At that point my jaw hit the floor and I wasn't sure if I was awake or dreaming. So the investigator suggested, between the lines, that I empty my wallet and keep my family in hunger for the next two weeks so that they could get rid of the case? What the f--...is this how it goes? I could evade justice murder by skipping Christmas this year?"
Patrick Gibson posted up an interesting, and rather accurate, portrayal of Google and Apple. The biggest takeaway from the post is that Google is getting better at design, something they've been weak at, quicker than Apple is getting better at web services, something they have been weak at.
Take a look at Apple's web fails:
- Apple can't update its online store without taking it offline first.
- A popular Game Center game was able to bring down the entire network.
- Apple requires you to re-friend everyone on Game Center, Find my Friends, and Shared Photostreams.
- Notes requires an email account to sync.
- The iTunes and App Stores are still powered by WebObjects, a mostly dead framework written almost 20 years ago.
- iMessage for Mac lives in an alternate dimension in which time has no ordered sequence.
With each revision of Android, it's UI and polish gets closer and closer to that of Apple and iOS. With the latest version, it's really starting to approach the quality of Apple's design. Apple's mantra that everything "Just Works" is more true for Google's web services, and increasingly, its hardware and Android.
Gibson suggests that Apple buy Twitter, and it's a legitimate argument. He says that Apple would benefit from the web technology and scalability that Twitter has pioneered. "Not only does Twitter use some of the most advanced web technology, they invented it.
Let the good times roll - judge grants Samsung's request to look at HTC and Apple's settlement agreement
It looks like the festive spirit is making its way around the world today, with US Judge Paul S. Grewal granting Samsung's request to look at the HTC and Apple settlement agreement. Samsung wants to know if anything weird is going on, and they'll soon find out.
Samsung has claimed that their determination of whether or not the patents were licensed, will help decide if they need to stop production of devices named in prior lawsuits. If Samsung were to find that Apple were happy with another company using the patents they supposedly infringed upon, then the $1 billion judgment to Apple would be enough, and no further proceedings need to happen.
I'm feeling as though Samsung are going to find some dirt in the settlement agreement, and Apple will hopefully, back down. Realizing that it is hurting them in the long run with customers jumping the iShip - as well as investors. Let's just hope so, eh?
According to comScore's latest estimates, consumers are to spend $43.4 billion on web-based shopping during November and December. This would mark an increase of 17% year-over-year for the same two-month period of 2011.
2011's online spending was around 15% higher than it was in 2010, showing that it has increased year-on-year for a while now. This year's forecast is actually much higher than the industry's overall retail expectation, which expects a 4.1% rise in consumer spending during the 2012 holiday season.
Considering the US going through a huge recession, natural disasters, and a very uncertain economic future, consumers shopping online has actually increased. ComScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni, has said that if the estimates are true, it would be a great finale to a great year for retail e-commerce. Fulgoni has an optimistic outlook on the season based on the strong lead-up to the 32 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Last week saw ink to paper between Apple and HTC, where the two companies signed a new patent agreement. This new patent agreement included a special clause, that would see the agreement invalidated if either company is acquired by another company.
I don't see Apple being acquired anytime soon, but I do see HTC being acquired in the near future with all of the problems they're experiencing right now. This means that Samsung could come in and scoop HTC up, thinking they'd end their legal battles with Apple, but it would definitely not be the case. The clause reads:
In the event of a Change of Control of a party. This Agreement shall automatically terminate unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Parties, effective immediately prior to such Change of Control.
The definition of a "Change of Control" is where the original company is left with less than 50% of the voting power, or if the original company is merged with a third-party. This licensing agreement could be transferred to the company acquiring HTC (again, I don't see Apple being acquired), only if Apple and HTC grant the company with special permission.
If you haven't heard, Apple's building this really cool new campus in the shape of a giant circle. It looks sort of like it's from outer-space and it's gained the name Spaceship, among others. It was first introduced to the public in 2011 by the late Steve Jobs and was originally slated to be completed in 2015.
Today, Apple sent over revised plans to the city of Cupertino. Apple is still waiting on Cupertino to complete an environmental review, so work has yet to begin. In the latest plans, Apple plans to have the new campus built by mid-2016, though they note that "this schedule may be modified to meet Apple's business needs."
The awe-inspiring campus is to be built on 176 acres of land. The circular building features a circumference that comes close to a mile. The new campus will feature a 1,000 person auditorium, where at Apple plans to give product presentations. The updated plans for the building are available here.
OCZ, our troubled SSD-making friends, have been served a subpoena requesting documents and information that relate to press releases the company provided on September 5, 2012 and October 10, 2012. They've also been requested to turn over financial reports dealing with customer incentive programs.
OCZ is in a bit of hot water right now after its earnings were delayed and quite a bit lower than expectations. Many investors have filed lawsuits alleging that the company broke the law in financial reporting. Theories as to why they did this run the gamut, but most settle on the idea they were looking to be acquired.
Ralph Schmitt, president and chief executive officer, noted that, "Since we delayed the filing of our second quarter 10-Q, we had proactively contacted the Commission and have been expecting them to conduct an investigation. We intend to cooperate fully regarding this non-public, fact-finding inquiry and are also continuing with our own internal investigation as previously announced."
OCZ has stated that they will not be providing further comment on this issue until the SEC takes further steps that warrant public disclosure or the matter is settled. It's important to note that the subpoenas are non-public, so information will not be available to journalists or investors. OCZ's stock has dropped to an all-time low of $1.10.
Zynga have been losing employees left and right, but it looks like the FarmVille maker has just promoted from within for the position of Chief Creative Officer. Tim LeTourneau is the new man in the CCO chair, leaving his position as Vice President of Games in charge of FarmVille 2.
He was in charge of overseeing their most successful game launch ever, FarmVille 2, over the last couple of months. In his new role, he'll be away from the day-to-day job operations of FarmVille 2, and will spend more time on game design across the whole Zynga board. LeTourneau will report to the President of Games, Steve Chiang, with Maureen Fan becoming FarmVille 2's new general manager.
LeTourneau joined Zynga from EA a little under two years ago, after working with EA since 1990. During his 20 years at EA, he spent most of his time within the Sims franchise - so you can see why he's a fitting choice for the super-addictive FarmVille franchise.