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Bit of a strange one here, but I guess it can make sense, too. According to a leaked e-mail from Alain Crozier, the chief financial officer of Microsoft's Sales, Marketing, Services, IT, & Operations Group (SMSG), Microsoft may install a policy that prevents employees from using corporate funds to purchase Macs and iPads.
The e-mail was passed onto a ZDNet writer, in its entirety below:
From: Alain Crozier
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:17 PM
Subject: Apple Purchases
Within SMSG we are putting in place a new policy that says that Apple products (Mac & iPad) should not be purchased with company funds.
In the US we will be turning off the Apple products from the Zones Catalog next week, which is the standard purchasing mechanism for these products.
Outside of the US - we will work with your finance and procurement teams to send the right message and put the right processes in place.
The current purchase levels are low, however we recognize there will be a bit of transition work associated with this. Details of historical purchases in the US are provided in the attachment to help understand the changes that will be needed.Thank you for your support and leadership on this...
This is just getting ridiculous. First, Apple sues for its "Slide-to-unlock" patent, and now Varia Holdings Inc. sues for a patent regarding using a menu to select an emoticon instead of typing it character-by-character. I mean, really? How did this even get a patent in the first place? Take a look at the picture below. "It is known that for many users, their email and instant messaging communications... often involve the use of emoticons, such as the 'smiling face' or the 'sad face,'" the patent says. "However, few email or instant messaging applications offer any assistance to a user to enter and use emoticons in their communications."
If this patent is true, they need to be suing more than just Samsung and RIM. Microsoft Live Messenger, AIM, and Skype all have menus for emoticon selection. So why just these two companies? It appears they have the most infringing devices. The lawsuit claims a long list of Samsung phones infringe along with Blackberry's Bold, Curve, Pearl, and Storm. If you would like to read the patent for yourself, you can view it here.
Rumors are circling that HTC's Beats Audio unit have acquired music subscription service MOG, according to a rumor reported by Business Insider on Monday. One of Business Insider's writers, Matt Rosoff, based his report on a single source, but Gigaom have also heard rumblings from a source that term sheets went back and forth between the two companies just a few weeks ago.
Who is MOG, and what do they do? MOG is a smaller music subscription service that has struggled against larger services like Spotify since launching in the US last year. There have been previous rumors that MOG were up for sale in the last few months, but MOG's CEO, David Hyman, denied news of its sale last month.
Om reported just a month ago that HTC were rumored to be in talks to launch its own music subscription service on its handsets, with Beats Audio founder Jimmy Iovine apparently a key player to these plans, which may have been motivated by the fact of the success wireless operator 'Cricket' has been having with its own Muve music subscription service. Cricket announced earlier in the year that Muve sports over 500,000 paying subscribers.
Google has come to the aid of Megaupload and Hotfile, surprisingly, where they filed a brief at a federal court in Florida, defending the file-hosting site Hotfile in its case against the MPAA. Google acuses the movie companies of misleading the court, arguing that Hotfile is protected under the DMCA's safe harbor. Google is also refuting claims being made by the US government in the criminal case against Megaupload.
It was back in February of 2011 that the MPAA announced a lawsuit against Hotfile, where the site's popularity is "a direct result of the massive digital theft that Hotfile promotes", the MPAA said. Two weeks ago, the movie studios asked the court to issue a summary judgement against Hotfile, and to shut down the site. The MPAA argues that Hotfile is a piracy haven, and should not be eligible for DMCA safe harbor protection.
This request did not pass the eyes and ears of Google, who have now filed an amicus brief in support of Hotfile, and according to Google, the movie studios are misleading the court by wrongfully suggesting that Hotfile is not protected by the DMCA. Google has pointed out that YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia are able to thrive thanks to the protection that the DMCA provides. Whereas, if the MPAA has its way, these and more services would be in quite serious trouble.
I'm having quite the laugh at this one. The Pirate Bay posted on their official blog that they are planning to experiment putting servers into low space orbit using radio-controlled drones to avoid being raided by ground-based police. While they will continue to only host the magnet links that they have been hosting terrestrially, this will make raiding and shutting down there servers much more difficult.
The front machines will still be located all over the planet, terrestrially bound, but all these machines do is forward you on to the secret locations of the actual servers hosting the data. These machines don't even have a hard drive. Right now they forward you to machines on the ground, but, if these experiments work, they may be sending your data into the last frontier: space.
Apple has decided just what it wants to do with its near 100 billion in cash reserves. Today, Apple announced that they would being buying back shares of stock to help fight the effects of dilution and start paying dividends of $2.65 a quarter which works out to about 1.8%. Let's put 1.8% in perspective. Intel pays 3%, Microsoft pays 2.5%, Texas Instruments pays 2.1%, and telecom giants like Verizon and AT&T pay out north of 5%.
I highly doubt that Apple is doing this to juice stock prices, but they may be doing it to offload some payroll costs onto stock holders. Most likely, however, they are using it to end the questions that people have been asking endlessly. Think about it, having a 100b cash pile doesn't really help investors and only spurs questions about their future plans.
Google is committed to being environmentally friendly with their data centers. They've been reducing power usage, and now they are using treated waste water instead of fresh water. By using water and evaporative cooling, Google has already reduced their power usage by half, according to Google. Google quickly realized they didn't need to use fresh, drinkable water to cool their servers, so they worked out a deal with the local water district to syphon 30% of the treated waste water that would otherwise flow into the local river.
Now, some of the water leaves the cooling towers as water vapor, and the rest gets sent to an on-site treatment plant where it is filtered and released into that same local river "clean, clear, and safe." The water is treated before going to Google, used to cool the servers and then processed once more before being released. They claim the water is cleaner than if they had never taken the water.
Today may just be Kim Dotcom's lucky day. I'm sure most of us remember that fateful day 8 weeks ago when his mansion was raided by police. Well, apparently, his house was raided on a court order that should have never been granted. A judgment from Justice Judith Potter on Friday declared the restraining order "null and void" and having "no legal effect" which means that the government may be forced to return his assets and property back to him.
Justice Potter has said that after the police found the mistake, they sought to correct the mistake after the raid by applying for the proper order, retrospectively listing assets already seized. This order has been granted temporarily, but Potter has said that she will rule on whether this means Mr. Dotcom should get his property back. The raid left him without any money or means to fight the charges that he was running the biggest criminal copyright operation in history.
Court papers show Akel stating Dotcom's belongings and fortune "must be released" because it was "unlawfully seized and restrained under the order". All of this does not guarantee Mr. Dotcom's property back, however. The law allows for mistakes, and for him to get his property back, his lawyers will need to show a "lack of good faith."
At least something good regarding air travel is finally happening. The FAA has announced plans to re-evaluate the use of electronic devices during taxi, takeoff, and landing. This will be the first time that this has happened since 2006. The unfortunate part of this is that they are only considering devices other than cellphones. So while you may not be making phone calls during takeoff, you may be able to get a few more pages done on the latest thriller novel you happen to be reading on your tablet or e-reader.
Previously to this, testing was an expensive and arduous task. For a device to be approved, it had to be taken up on an empty flight, by itself, on every plane in an airline's fleet on every single airline that wanted to approve the device for use. Clearly, this is an expensive and time consuming process, so the airlines haven't been conducting the tests. The FAA has pledged to work with "manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers" to solve the problem of gaining device approval.
Minority Report fans, check in, please. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has started up a new initiative, Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), where it aims to use sensor technology to detect cues "indicative of mal-intent", as defined by the DHS, as intent or desire to cause real harm, "rapidly, reliably, and remotely". They would use it to, "fight terror".
What is the FAST system capable of? Well, it has the features to monitor physiological and behavioral cues without contact. This means it is capable of capturing data such as your heart rate and steadiness of gaze of passengers that are about to board a plane. With said cues, FAST can then run through algorithms in real-time to compute the probability than an individual is planning to commit a crime.
According to the science journal, Nature, the first round of field tests for the program was completed at an "undisclosed location" in the northeast several months ago, where in lab tests, FAST reported a 70-percent accuracy rate. Not too damn bad for what would be a first-gen attempt/device.