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100,000,000 mobile Facebook users, own phone to come next?

February 12, 2010

http://www.bestmobileworld.com/images/facebook.jpgFacebook revealed on Wednesday that more than 100m people use the social network on their mobile phones every month. That’s around a quarter of their total membership.

As seems to be the norm for Facebook at the moment, even with such big numbers, the growth rate is huge – in September it had 65m mobile users. That suggests the number is likely to double annually.

“We work with every major device manufacturer and many operators to ensure that we can provide the best possible mobile experience across the thousands of different devices, mobile operating systems and carriers you rely on,” wrote Chamath Palihapitiya on Facebook’s blog. (Chamath is the VP for “user growth, mobile and international”)

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Shazam teams up with Pandora and Last.fm

February 11, 2010

Music identification software ‘Shazam‘ is indispensable. When users hear a song they don’t know playing in a commercial, over the radio, or on the PA at a club, and they want to know what the song is, all they have to do is fire up Shazam on their smartphone, let the app “hear” the song, and it identifies it.

As useful as it is, Shazam has kind of been a one-way street: It identifies (or “tags”) the song and then links the user out to other services. For example, the user can then purchase the song, go to YouTube to watch related videos, or go to the artist’s MySpace page, all where applicable. But up to now, the app ended there, and the list of songs a user has tagged didn’t get used anywhere.

Today, though, Shazam’s company announced that the Shazam Encore and (Shazam)red apps for the iPod Touch/iPhone can be used to create stations in Pandora, which will include additional songs by the same artist and similar ones as well. When a song is tagged, an icon appears in the “Tag Results” page which takes the user directly to their radio station.

A user’s tag list has also been incorporated into Last.fm to generate a list of upcoming shows made from their favorite tagged artists, with suggestions based upon the user’s location.

You can also listen to Last.fm stations directly from your tagged Shazam tracks, and create new stations from those tracks in Last.fm, provided you have the Last.fm and/or Pandora iPhone app installed. [iTunes links]

The updated versions of Shazam Encore and (Shazam)red [iTunes links as well] are available in the iTunes App Store now.

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YouTube gets a ‘Safety Mode’

February 10, 2010

It’s safe to say that some of the content hosted on YouTube is questionable. Either because the YouTube filter police haven’t found it yet, or there’s just content that you wouldn’t want you kids or brothers and sisters to see there. Google has reacted to such content being available by introducing ‘Safety Mode‘.

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Opera Mini for iPhone/iPod Touch Announced

February 10, 2010

Great news for you Opera fans! Opera Mini will be making its way into iPhones and iPod Touches very soon. Apple has been very conservative when it comes to encouraging competition for its Safari browser. But finally, Opera has managed to port its mini browser onto the [very!] popular iPhone platform.http://www.opera.com/media/presskit/mini-iphone.png

At the upcoming Mobile World Congress 2010 convention, Opera will let spectators preview the fabled Opera Mini. Opera Software announced earlier today that it will unveil the new Opera Mini for iPhone. To be honest, this was long due and a much deserved web browser option for the iPhone users. At MWC 2010, Opera will show off Opera Mini for iPhone along with a host of  “other Opera-powered devices” at its exhibit. The press image to the right suggests that Opera Mini for iPhone will have speed dials just like Opera Mini for other mobile platforms.

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Microsoft Loses i4i Patent Appeal; All Sales of Word/Office Must Cease by Jan. 11

December 22, 2009

Introduction

Today, in the United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, in Washington D.C., a panel of three judges returned their ruling on the appeal of i4i v. Microsoft and upheld jury’s

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verdict and all the findings of the August 11, 2009 Final Judgment that ruled in favor of i4i and found that Microsoft had willfully infringed i4i’s U.S. Patent # 5,787,449, issued in 1998. That decision means that we would see Microsoft Word and Office banned from all new sales starting January 11, 2010.

If you’ll recall, Microsoft lost a patent infringement suit against XML specialists ” i4i” this year when it was found that Word’s handling of .xml, .docx, and .docm files infringed upon i4i’s patented XML handling algorithms, but the injunction against further Word sales was put on hold pending the results of this appeal.

Now that Microsoft has lost once again, expect either another appeal and request for the injunction to be stayed, this time to the Supreme Court, or for a settlement between these two that would end this whole mess right now.

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Note: Find the official press release here. It is the basis for this story.

Juicy Details

Tuesday, federal appeals court ordered Microsoft Corp. to stop selling its Word program by January 11, 2010 and pay a Canadian software company, i4i Inc., about $290 million for violating a patent, upholding the judgment of a lower court.

But people looking to buy Word or Microsoft’s Office package in the U.S. won’t have to go without the software. Microsoft said today it expects that new versions of the product, with the computer code in question removed, will be ready for sale when the injunction begins on Jan. 11.

Toronto-based i4i Inc. sued Microsoft in 2007, saying it owned the technology behind a tool in the popular word processing program. The technology in question gives Word users an improved way to edit XML, or code that tells the program how to interpret and display a document’s contents.

However, today a Texas jury found that Microsoft Word willfully infringed on the patent. Microsoft appealed that decision, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the lower court’s damage award and the injunction against future sales of infringing copies of Word.

Loudon Owen, Chairman of i4i, says, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the ruling from the appeals court which upheld the lower court’s decision in its entirety. This is both a vindication for i4i and a war cry for talented inventors whose patents are infringed.” Mr. Owen adds, “The same guts and integrity that are needed to invent and go against the herd, are at the heart of success in patent litigation against a behemoth like Microsoft. Congratulations to our entire team who provided such dynamic leadership, courage and tenacity!”

Michel Vulpe, founder and co-inventor of i4i, says, “This ruling is clear and convincing evidence that our case was just and right, and that Microsoft wilfully infringed our patent.” Mr. Vulpe adds, “i4i is especially pleased with the court’s decision to uphold the injunction, an important step in protecting the property rights of small inventors. We will continue to fully and vigorously enforce our rights and we invite all potential customers interested in custom XML to contact us.”

Microsoft said it has been preparing for such a judgment since August. Copies of Word and Office sold before Jan. 11 aren’t affected by the court’s decision. And Microsoft said it has “put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature” from versions of Word 2007 and Office 2007 that would be sold after that date.

“Beta” or test versions of Word 2010 and Office 2010, expected to be finalized next year, do not contain the offending code.

Microsoft says it may appeal further (and most likely will), asking for either a rehearing in front of the appeals court’s full panel of judges or in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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What’s more, the patents involved here don’t cover XML itself, but rather the specific algorithms used to read and write custom XML — so OpenOffice users can breathe easy, as i4i has said the suite doesn’t infringe. Existing Office users should also be fine, as only future sales of Word are affected by the ruling, not any already-sold products.

Conclusion/Recap

i4i, Inc. has won an appeal that forces Microsoft to stop all sales of Microsoft Word and Office by January 11, 2010, due to “willfully infringing” on a patent that covers XML technologies, such as .xml, .docx, and .docm files

Microsoft says it’s moving quickly to prepare versions of Office 2007 and Word 2007 that don’t have the “little-used” XML features for sale by January 11, 2010, and that the Office 2010 beta “does not contain the technology covered by the injunction,” which can be read in a number of ways.

It’s also considering an appeal, so we’ll see what happens next — stay tuned to TechWorthy for more.

Today, in the United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, in Washington D.C., a panel of three judges returned their ruling on the appeal of i4i v. Microsoft and upheld jury’s verdict and all the findings of the August 11, 2009 Final Judgment that ruled in favor of i4i and found that Microsoft had willfully infringed i4i’s U.S. Patent # 5,787,449, issued in 1998.

5 Illegal Website Ideas for the United States

December 15, 2009

Disclaimer: This particular post was syndicated from MakeUseOf.com. I am just reciprocating great content. I don’t intend to take authorship from anyone. Please understand that.

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Nothing’s more American than speaking your mind, which is probably why freedom of speech has been enshrined throughout the nation’s history. This right to free speech is something almost all Americas agree on, regardless of political affiliation.

The Internet is freedom of speech’s ultimate incarnation – a place where anyone can start their own website and say whatever they want. It stands to reason then that Americans should be able to do whatever they like on the Internet…right?

Not entirely. There are limits to what you can do on the Internet, and even to what you can say. Here’s is a list of illegal websites that Americans are not allowed to found and operate.

FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

Freedom of speech is not absolute in America – there are certain limits, perhaps the most famous of which is yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. This idea, first penned in Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the opinion for Schenck v. United States means that free speech does not give people the right to cause panic amongst the public for no good reason.

So if you want to start a website that regularly claims a terrorist is going to take out, say, Omaha Nebraska, expect to be arrested.
This limit to free speech has already been tested online: in 2006 a 20-year-old grocer living with his parents claimed he was going to blow up various football stadiums with dirty bombs. He was arrested, even though the FBI quickly found out he had no capability to carry out the actions in question.

So one thing you cannot do on the Internet is cause a widespread panic with a groundless threat.

Piracy Is Wrong

list of illegal websites

This one’s obvious enough, right? United States intellectual property law makes it illegal for Americans to host websites that offer access to intellectual property without permission from the copyright owners.

If you’ve ever used Bittorrent to download materials illegally – and I certainly haven’t, because I’m a law abiding American patriot who loves the flag and baseball and apple pie and Jesus – you probably noticed most of the public Bittorrent trackers are based overseas. There’s a good reason for this: American copyright law means any American-based torrent tracker can be sued by media and software companies.

So if you want to start a Bittorrent tracker – or any kind of file sharing site – in the United States of America, make sure everything being shared there complies with US copyright law. This doesn’t mean you can’t share cool stuff: Linux distributions and some public domain music, movies and books can all be distributed within the law. But expect to be shut down quickly if your users upload illegal content and you do nothing about it.

But from what I hear – and I have no way to confirm this personally because of my aforementioned love of the flag and baseball and apple pie and Jesus – there are lots of good Bittorrent trackers for the less-than-legal stuff hosted overseas but fully accessible to Americans.

Which brings us to an interesting point: the law of one country does not apply to content hosted in other countries. This is a common Internet loophole used to circumvent American law.

Gambling Is Only Moral Offline – In Certain Places.

list of illegal websites

There’s nothing illegal about gambling in the privacy of your own home with a few friends. If you want to run an online gambling business that pulls in millions of dollars weekly, however, expect to face some legal scrutiny.

Betting on sports on the Internet is banned nationwide, thanks to a United States Court of Appeals ruling back in 2002. Other sorts of online gambling are not banned federally, but most states have laws in place declaring such activities illegal in one way or another.

In the physical world gambling is only legal in certain areas from state to state. Native American reservations are frequently the sites of casinos because they are considered sovereign and as such exempt from state laws. Additionally, some states will allow gambling in certain areas – Las Vegas, Nevada is perhaps the most famous example of this, but many states have similar areas.

Online gambling is more complicated to regulate than in-person gambling, however, because while the website’s server may be in a region where gambling is legal the site’s patrons probably are not. It’s for this reason that such sites are usually shut down.

As with piracy, however, online gambling isn’t necessarily illegal overseas, and people in countries with differing laws are more than willing to capitalize. The Caymen Islands famously has no prohibition on online gambling, and a number of sites frequented (illegally) by Americans call that country home.

Child Pornography … DUH!

In the United States any website that hosts child pornography is illegal and is liable to be shut down. Quickly. Sex with minors being an offense nationwide (not to mention completely disgusting), it’s easy to understand why documentation of such an act is illegal as well. I’m not going to delve into this further, because it is very unpleasant, but it’s an example of the sort of behavior not tolerated on the Internet.

Edit: This particular section is such an understatement.

Plotting Violence

list of illegal websites

As mentioned above, threatening to plot violence without the means to do so is illegal in America because it’s not right to cause an undue panic. It shouldn’t be too surprising then to find out that it’s also illegal to threaten violence on the Internet if you actually do have the means to follow through.

That’s right: you’re not allowed to start your own Internet-based terrorist network. Sorry if I just ruined your plans for the holiday season.

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Conclusion

There you have it: a short list of illegal websites that you can not start in the United States of America. While I’m certain few of you were planning on starting a website that hosted empty threats against America, gave access to copywritten material, allows people to gamble across state lines, or build a terrorist network, it is very interesting to see the limits of freedoms online.

Do you think such limits are just, or should the Internet become a digital zone of anarchy? Let us know your views in the comments!

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Disclaimer: This particular post was syndicated from MakeUseOf.com. I am just reciprocating great content. I don’t intend to take authorship from anyone. If I have offended anyone, please let me know.

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Google Now Personalizes Search Results Based on Search Habits (logged in or not)

December 6, 2009

It seems that Google has found yet another way to spy on its users, if you believe in that.

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For a while now, Google has been using the search histories of its logged-in users to deliver better results through its Personalized Search feature. This convenient – or creepy, depending on your perspective – service is now available even to logged-out users. If you’re not logged in, though, where does Google save your search history? In an anonymous cookie, it turns out, with a Twinkie-esque shelf life of 180 days.

Personalized search is handy for bringing the sites you actually tend to visit to the top of your search results. That way, Google will know, for example, that you’re searching for Sox, the baseball team, and not the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or Six Feet Under, the TV series, and not Six Feet Under, the band. To see how Google customized your results, look for a “view customizations” link at the top right of your search results. If you’re more concerned about privacy than convenience, you can opt right out of Personalized Search. Otherwise, it’s turned on by default.

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