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The Megaupload and Kim Dotcom saga just won't end. The latest from Mega's founder, Kim Dotcom, is that they are readying a lawsuit against the Hong Kong government over the raid of his business back in January 2012. He says the raid on his headquarters and freezing of his assets were illegal.
We were in the process of preparing a listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange and the valuation of our company was over $US2 billion. Fortunately, the US government will have to indemnify Hong Kong for any damages awarded to us.
So far, Dotcom's legal adventures have been fairly successful. He has won the right to sue New Zealand over the raid on his mansion and has yet to be extradited to the United States. We will have to wait and see if his legal successes continue to come.
Dotcom plans to keep his headquarters in Hong Kong due to the tax benefits. "It involves some US artists as potential shareholders and they want a more tax-friendly jurisdiction. That's why we looked at Hong Kong and Singapore."
Last week FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell announced that he would be stepping down from his seat at the FCC. McDowell was one of the biggest opponents to the Net Neutrality rules that were adopted by the FCC in 2010.
In 2010 the FCC approved net neutrality rules that prevented Internet service providers from blocking lawful traffic and banning discrimination against competitive services running over the ISP's networks. This was seen as a major win for internet lovers across the nation.
The controversy came when Wireless carriers were deemed to not be subject to those rules. McDowell opposed the net neutrality rules stating "I just think it was needlessly disruptive and a diversion of FCC resources." When asked to elaborate, McDowell had the following to say:
First of all, I've been a strong advocate for a free and open Internet. What I opposed really focused on, first of all, there is no market failure that needed to be addressed. Second, the FCC did not have the statutory authority to do what it did. Third, if there had been a problem there were laws already on the books that would have addressed the problem.
There wasn't a problem before the rules and there's not a problem with any danger of a closed Internet in this country after the rules. For those who think the rules have preserved an open Internet, that's sort of like a rooster taking credit for the sunrise.
If you thought Dell would just fly off into the night and go public without anyone else bidding, well, you were wrong. The Blackstone Group submitted a preliminary offer before the original deal deadline on Saturday for Dell to go private for $24.4 billion.
Under the terms of the "go shop" clause in the agreement, it allowed Dell to seek other suitors. A second offer was received by investor Carl Icahn who purchased a bunch of shares a couple of weeks ago. There's no concrete details on Blackstone's deal, but they are offering between $13.65 and $15 per share in a deal that will see shareholder participation. Blackstone have invited GE Capital and others in order to help them out with financing the deal.
Icahn have previously demanded Dell pay $15.7 billion in special dividends above the buyout price or risk a proxy fight. Icahn's proposed dividend of $9 per share sees a 67% premium to existing shareholders over the current $13.65 offer that is currently at play with the buyout from Michael Dell, Microsoft and investment company Silver Lake.
There are thousands of people, myself included, saddened by the news that Google are shutting down Reader in a couple of months. Why did they do it? News is now coming out that the Mountain View-based company closed Reader due to the hidden costs of keeping users' data private.
This is coming from an unnamed source of AllThingD, who said that the closure of Reader is at least partly due to Google's reluctance to build out the staff and infrastructure needed to deal with the legal and privacy issues related to Reader. The source added that Google are trying to position themselves so that they stop getting into expensive lawsuits, by adding dedicated staff to deal with legal issues to each of their teams.
When Google announced the closure of Reader, they didn't even have a project manager of full-time engineer dedicated to it. Google reportedly didn't want to spend the money building the service into a full-blown app, and on the flip side, didn't want to sell it to a third-party because of its deep integration with other Google Apps.
Apple have reached 100% renewable energy usage at all of their data centers, with their corporate facilities not far behind with 75% renewable energy. Considering the company was at just 35% renewable energy for their corporate facilities two years ago, this is a swift, and great change:
Our goal is to power every facility at Apple entirely with energy from renewable sources - solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. So we're investing in our own onsite energy production, establishing relationships with suppliers to procure renewable energy off the grid, and reducing our energy needs even as our employee base grows.
Our investments are paying off. We've already achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of our data centers, at our facilities in Austin, Elk Grove, Cork, and Munich, and at our Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino. And for all of Apple's corporate facilities worldwide, we're at 75 percent, and we expect that number to grow as the amount of renewable energy available to us increases. We won't stop working until we achieve 100 percent throughout Apple.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have put up a $100,000 of initial funding for someone who designs the "next generation of condoms." The money won't stop there, as the funding will expand up to $1 million for whoever is capable of delivering the next-gen contraception.
Considering that the basic form of contraception hasn't received many changes over the years, it is used by an estimated 750 million people across the world for both reducing unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually-transmitted infections. The Foundation's description of the challenge explains it as: "The primary drawback from the male perspective is that condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom."
A next-gen condom might give men more sensation, pushing them to use them more often, for the good of global health. When it comes to female condoms, "suffer from some of the same liabilities as male condoms, require proper insertion training and are substantially more expensive than their male counterparts."
Apple is still trying to begin to (because they aren't right now) compete with Google and their far superior mapping service, where the Cupertino-based company have just acquired an indoor GPS tracking startup, WiFiSlam.
The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Apple have acquired the startup, who specializes in WiFi-assisted indoor GPS functionality for smartphones. What makes this news interesting is that the company was reportedly founded by a few ex-Google staff a couple of years ago, with one of their investors included a Google employee. A stronger confirmation on this is the fact that any WiFiSlam-related apps have been removed from the Google Play Store.
Apple reportedly coughed up $20 million for the startup, but no confirmation on this has materialized. I'm sure we'll see more on this in the future.
Google continues to expand its Transparency Report. This time Google has added a list of recently submitted URLs for takedown that the company declined. This latest update comes on the heels of Google expanding the report to include a statistics on the number of false DMCA takedown requests received.
Besides having the effect of calling out the sheer ignorance (stupidity?) of the rights managements groups, the new section brings attention to these links that the company attempted to have removed. Obviously, some of the requested links that were rejected by Google are more entertaining than others.
For instance, Audiolock issued a takedown request for 25 different URLs. Google denied 84 percent because many of the links were to the band's music on iTunes, Spotify, and eMusic. Go figure.
Check out the newly updated Transparency Report and feel free to send us any especially humorous takedown requests similar to the one above.
Apple obviously felt the sting of a recently settled lawsuit as they have added a warning to free apps that have in-app purchases. This will allow parents to easily identify which free apps offer in-app purchases and hopefully prevent their kids from going crazy with micro-transactions.
The warning doesn't appear to be present on the mobile App Store or on the Apple website. It is confirmed to be showing in the App Store that is contained within iTunes. We do expect it to eventually show up on the mobile version of the App Store.
An interesting idea that could spring from this new warning is the ability to filter apps that allow in-app purchases. Apple has clearly identified free apps that contain in-app purchases. Now all they need to do is implement a parental filter to prevent those apps from being used or downloaded. Apple has not said that this feature will be implemented.
While addressing the House of Representatives committee on IT pricing today, Adobe Australia and New Zealand managing director, Paul Robson, was questioned about the higher prices in Australia for their Creative Suite 6 software.
Considering Adobe charge Australians a not so down under 167% more, the question is a very big one to answer. Australians are paying $3175 compared to their US friends paying just $1899 for CS6. Robson said that consumers in Australia were paying the extra costs because they were automatically redirected to Adobe's Australian website, giving them the ability to access local discounts and community groups.
Robson didn't explain exactly why Australians pay more for Adobe software, saying that Adobe's use of Australian-only pricing or "geoblocking" was a "well established and legal process".