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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.
PayPal have had the thirst for business for quite sometime now, and aren't just content with staying online, and so they should be. The company revealed their latest PayPal service: PayPal Here.
With PayPal Here, the service includes a free card processing app, as well as a unique triangle-looking thingo that attaches to most Android and iOS-based devices. From here, you can swipe a credit card at literally any location in the world, as long as you have Internet access.
This isn't something new in itself, but PayPal's transaction fee is: just 2.7-percent with no monthly fees. The 2.7-percent is universal to boot, which means you could use any card you like, including American Express, and you'll be charged just 2.7-percent of the total. At the moment, mobile card processing pioneer, Square, charges a universal 2.75-percent transaction fee.
Apple have a very delicious kitty of nearly $100 billion in cash reserves right now, with $97.6 billion to be precise. Come 9AM Eastern on Monday, March 19, CEO Tim Cook as well as CFO Peter Oppenheimer will discuss the "outcome of the Company's discussions".
Apple will offer this discussion as a phone call and as a live stream with replays available for two weeks afterwards. Apple have actively been discussing what they should do with their cash reserves, where other companies would spend it, or acquire other smaller companies, or start-ups, Apple have just been saving, saving, saving.
Investment analysts have complained more than once that Apple should offer a dividend payout to shareholders despite the stock being the largest in the world, as well as one of the fastest growing, too. Apple have always been careful of its spending, which is at least attributed to the late Steve Jobs. Most believed that Jobs had recognized what happened to Apple previously in his absence from the company, and used it as a sign to build a cash reserve in the event of an unforeseen circumstance such as a sharp market drop, economic crisis, or something along those lines.
Here comes another blow to the search giant. Not only are they being investigated by both US and EU regulators, but they are now being sued. A lawsuit has been filed in California Superior Court that is seeking class-action status, damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. The lawsuit names California residents Dodd J. Harris and Stephen Sabatino. Harris is upset because he purchased the app "Learn Chinese Mandarin Pro" for $4.83 in December. He claims that the app did not work as advertised, but he was too late. It was already 20 minutes past his purchase. Google's return policy only allows 15 minutes.
Sabatino, on the other hand, bought "aBTC", a BitTorrent client for Android, for $4.99 in January. The product didn't work, however, he tried tinkering with it for an hour before attempting to unsuccessfully return it. In December 2010, Google lowered the return policy on apps from 24 hours to 15 minutes. They stated this was because "most users who request a refund do so within minutes of purchase."
In addition to the refund policy, the suit is challenging Google's app approval process, or lack there of. Google, unlike Apple, has previously allowed any app to be posted to the market. This has led to many apps on the market which contain malware. In response to this, Google last month added a new layer of security, dubbed Bouncer, which will attempt to scan apps for evidence of malware and bounce them.
US and EU regulators have launched an investigation into Google and the allegations that they bypassed the privacy settings of Safari users on both desktop and mobile iOS users. Google spokeswoman contends that these actions were unintended. She said, "It's important to remember that we didn't anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers." Let's try to understand what happened in a little more detail.
Google has discovered that when they created a temporary link between the user's Safari browser and Google's servers, it allowed other ad cookies to be placed on the browser. Google has since been removing these files, but the damage for Google has already been done. These investigations could have Google on the hook financially for quite a lot. If they are found to have broken a settlement agreement FTC, they could be fined $16,000 per violation, per day. In addition, state attorneys general can levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation. And all of this is only state side.
A lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas earlier this week by 13 individuals alleging that "the defendants -- several of the world's largest and most influential technology and social networking companies -- have unfortunately made, distributed and sold mobile software applications that, once installed on a wireless mobile device, surreptitiously harvest, upload and illegally steal the owner's address book data without the owner's knowledge or consent." The defendants in question are Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Yelp and 14 other companies.
This claim, if true, is pretty worrisome for users of the apps, such as myself. Last month, one of the companies named in the suit was pressured into issuing a public apology after a Singapore-based programmer uncovered the fact in a blog post. An article, Mobile Apps Take Data Without Permission by the New York Times, was cited several times in the 152-page complaint. This lawsuit comes at a time privacy concerns over mobile applications appears to be steadily rising.
According to our source:
Apple, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this week's lawsuit. A Twitter spokesman said the company did not comment on pending litigation.
AU Optronics, you naughty, naughty company. They've had their name thrown through courts before, where in a 2009 group suit they were targeted for LCD price fixing. But, it's not like LCD price fixing is anything new, but it seems that AUO will be getting slapped with the decision process in the US.
A US court found the Taiwanese company guilt in a case, where the fine could be as large as $1 billion. Quite a lot of green, if you ask me. The company was charged as part of an alleged price-fixing group, that operated for quite a while it seems, between 1999 and 2006 to be exact, where they were the only Asian LCD maker in that lot to plead not guilty.
This ruling comes after LG coughing up a $400 million fine in 2008, where Samsung talked themselves into an early deal to sidestep prosecution. A duo of AUO executives were also found guilty, but its former CEO, L.J. Chen, was not. AUO are expected to appeal, which could take a year, but that hasn't stopped their stock price from dropping in the meantime.
We all know what an absolute juggernaut the iPad is, no matter if you're a fan of Apple, or not. But according to analyst Michael Walkley with Canaccord Genuity, Apple are already breaking their pre-order records, surprised? I'm not.
Genuity has checked with Apple's distribution channels, and the orders are already backlogged for weeks. Apple's initial stock of the third-generation iPad sold out in the first 48 hours of going on pre-order, some insane results. New orders are now taking three weeks to ship to the States, with the UK in a similar situation.
Walkley expects that Apple will sell 65.6 million iPads in 2012, which is a projected number exceeding the initial figure by an insane 10 million units. He adds that he expects Apple to sell somewhere around 90.6 million iPads in 2013, which is an increase over his previous estimated shipment total of 79.7 million.
If these figures manifest into reality, we're looking at some serious domination from Apple, where they should capture 60-percent of the overall tablet sales.
Regina Dugan, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is leaving and joining the warm, cuddly arms of Google. Dugan has only been with DARPA for three years, but was "offered and accepted [a] senior executive position" with Google, according to DARPA spokesperson Eric Mazzacone.
Mazzacone also added that Dugan felt she couldn't refuse an offer from such an "innovative company" like Google. Dugan has accepted the offer, and will slide into an unspecified "senior executive position" with Google. Currently there's no word on when exactly she'll join Google, but it should be over the next few weeks.
Considering Dugan worked for a company that worked on shape-shifting robots, Mach 20 missiles and mind-controlled limbs, it would have to be an extraordinary opportunity for her to switch ranks and join Google. Working for DARPA must feel like working for Skynet, so maybe that's what made her change her mind? Maybe she saw some crazy things at DARPA that just made her want to disconnect and have more of a "real" job where she could talk about what she was working on with her loved ones, friends, etc.