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26
Feb

FCC Votes in Favor of Net Neutrality Rules, Classifies Broadband Service as a Utility


FCCThe U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted in favor by a 3-to-2 decision to enforce net neutrality rules that it claims will help protect freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet, reports Ars Technica. The FCC ruling classifies broadband service as a utility and prevents Internet providers from blocking or throttling traffic or offering prioritized service through so-called Internet “fast lanes” for payment.

“The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. It is simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field,” said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. “Think about it. The Internet has replaced the functions of the telephone and the post office. The Internet has redefined commerce, and as the outpouring from four million Americans has demonstrated, the Internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.”

The ruling will reclassify fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, and Internet providers will be regulated under Title II of the Communications Act. The decision was heavily contested by Internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, which could sue the FCC in an attempt to reverse the new rules. FCC officials believe that Type II reclassification will give them more legal authority to prevent net neutrality rules from being overturned.

While the new requirements are intended to ensure that the Internet remains fast, fair and open, the FCC did not follow through with last-mile unbundling that would have required Internet service providers to sell wholesale access to their networks. That decision would have allowed new competitors to enter local markets and sell broadband service using the existing infrastructure of larger providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

“But the FCC decided not to impose unbundling,” adds Ars Technica. “As such, the vote does little to boost Internet service competition in cities or towns. But it’s an attempt to prevent incumbent ISPs from using their market dominance to harm online providers, including those who offer services that compete against the broadband providers’ voice and video services.”

The FCC’s order on Thursday could be faced with legal challenges and action from Congress, according to the report, suggesting that debate surrounding net neutrality is far from over. The new rules will go into effect 60 days after being published in the U.S. Federal Register, although the Office of Management and Budget will continue to manage enhancements to the transparency rule.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.



26
Feb

Web-only access to iWork apps leaves beta


Apple is now letting anyone create a free Apple ID on the public iCloud website and use Pages, Keynote, and Numbers for free. This comes just two weeks after the initiative was rolled out on the iCloud beta website.

To get started, users can visit iCloud.com and create an Apple ID. Once the account its verified, you’ll be able to start using the web-based iWork apps. Just as in the beta program, users will be given 1GB of free iCloud storage. Web-only access to iCloud is supported in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and of course Apple’s own Safari.

To access the full features of iCloud, including Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and more storage, you’ll need to get a Mac or iOS device. You can get more details on web-only iCloud access at the Apple Support link below.

Source: iCloud, Apple Support

26
Feb

And this is how Verizon failed at trolling the Internet


The FCC took a strong step today in ensuring net neutrality. Verizon… threw a childish hissy fit in Morse Code.

If you hadn’t heard, the FCC passed historic legislation today in a 3-2 vote to reclassify broadband Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act. In plain speech, this gives the FCC the same rights to regulate Internet providers as it currently does phone companies. This also means that the FCC is now also allowed to impose those net neutrality rules it proposed earlier this month.

Now, even with today’s events, the net neutrality fight is far from over: Undoubtedly there will be lawsuits and challenges from broadband companies to try and get the courts to overturn the FCC vote.

But the first shot across the bow of the FCC’s Title II usage wasn’t a subpoena or a lawsuit. Instead, someone at Verizon thought it would be just hilarious to deride the decision with a press release in dahs and dits.

I’m going to quote the entirety of Verizon’s Morse Code diatribe, because it’s just too absurd not to:

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Titled “FCC’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ Move Imposes 1930s Rules on the Internet,” perhaps Verizon thought the company would be a little cheeky with its press release by using a language that was, for the record, invented far before 1930, and is still in use today by ham radio operators and puzzle-solvers around the world.

Of course, why Verizon chose Morse is beyond me: By 1930, both the telephone and telegraph were widely used in households across the country. And given that the switching stations behind the telegraph would eventually give birth to packet switching and the early days of the Internet, it seems to me that Verizon might have had a far more prudent protest in creating a faux telegram.

Of course, that would have required about a third of the whining words the company chose to include in its message.

But you know, perhaps Verizon realized that history enthusiasts might take umbrage with their inappropriate Morse Code usage and came up with a secondary joke. You see, the “21st century” translation linked below that wall of dits and dahs happens to be a PDF with the date “February 26th, 1934;” It’s also largely printed in a muddled font designed to look like, I can only assume, some sad typewriter that hadn’t had its letters cleaned of crusty ink in thirty years. Because nothing screams “professional business” like a poorly typeset press release. (Not to mention, as my friend and typography expert Glenn Fleishmann pointed out, italic-set typewriters were practically non-existent in the 1930s; you’d have to have purchased a specific model solely for italic type.)

Why is the release dated 1934? Well, it seems that the company is implying that the Federal Communications Commission Act, passed in that same year, is far too outdated to serve as appropriate regulation for 2015.

Except, funny story, Verizon: The Federal Communications Commission Act was passed in June of 1934, becoming fully effective in July. Your February 1934 press release is complaining about a law that hasn’t even been passed yet, just as you’re complaining about net neutrality rules that haven’t yet gone into effect.

Do you perhaps have valid points hidden within its double mockery of a press release? Sure, it’s possible. But from one longtime Internet denizen to another, Verizon, a tip: If you’re going to troll the Internet, at least bother to get your dates and facts right first.

26
Feb

Pebble took just two days to beat its crowdfunding record


Pebble Time smartwatch

Pebble Time isn’t just one of the fastest-moving Kickstarter projects — it’s now one of the biggest, too. The color smartwatch took a mere two days to get more funding than its predecessor, hitting the $10.3 million mark with 29 days left to go. It’s “only” the second highest-grossing Kickstarter effort to date (the leader remains the Coolest cooler), but it may not have much trouble taking the top spot. The company’s crowdfunding performance isn’t quite as impressive as it sounds, mind you. Pebble had already sold 1 million smartwatches by the end of 2014, so it only needed to attract a small fraction of existing owners to blow past its original Kickstarter run. Pebble is using the campaign more for publicity than to get a project off the ground, like you’d expect with most crowdfunding efforts. The question is whether or not Pebble Time can maintain that kind of fervor when it hits retail stores, especially with some of its biggest rivals on the way.

Pebble Time versus its predecessor

Filed under: Wearables

Comments

Source: Kickstarter (1), (2)

26
Feb

Apple hit with second lawsuit over DRM-related patents


Though it won a patent suit against Apple to the tune of $533 million just yesterday, Smartflash LLC is suing the company yet again. The suit involves the very same patents involved in the previous trial, but as applied to devices introduced after the original case started. Additionally, the case alleges that Apple has infringed on four other patents not included in the previous trial.

From Reuters:

Smartflash LLC aims to make Apple pay for using the patent licensing firm’s technology without permission in devices not be included in the previous case, such as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and the iPad Air 2. The trial covered older Apple devices.

The new suit was filed Wednesday evening after it was decided Apple would have to pay Smartflash $533 million for violating the patents in question from the previous case. Smartflash’s attorney, Brad Caldwell, expressed confidence in the most recent litigation in comments to Reuters:

Apple cannot claim they don’t know about these patents or understand that they are infringing. A diligent jury has already rejected those arguments.

However, Apple already plans to appeal yesterday’s decision amid calls for reform to the patent system. In a report from Bloomberg yesterday, Kristin Huguet, an Apple Spokeswoman, pointed out the problems in the current system which allow companies like Smartflash to pursue such cases:

Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented. We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system.

As we noted yesterday, Smartflash is also pursuing a separate case against Apple rival Samsung, and is currently embroiled in a suit against Google.

Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg

26
Feb

Silent Circle buys out partner, raises funds in push to serve secure enterprise market


blackphone

Silent Circle, part of SGP Technologies, has announced they have reached an agreement to buy out their partner in the joint venture, Geeksphone. SGP Technologies’ primary claim to fame is their Blackphone, a smartphone developed for users interested in maintaining a high level of privacy. Silent Circle will take over 100% ownership of SGP Technologies when the acquisition closes later this week allowing the company to implement “operation efficiencies” and pursue an “integrated product roadmap.”

As part of their announcement, Silent Circle also revealed that they have obtained $50 million in new capital financing to help it move to the next stage of its business plan. That step involves development of an “enterprise privacy ecosystem.”

Sources think Silent Circle may be positioning itself to step into the role that Blackberry used to fill before they stumbled. Key to this will be deployment of encrypted communications solutions. Although Silent Circle will have to contend with the realities of a “bring your own device” world, having their own hardware in terms of a smartphone and possibly a tablet may help them succeed.

Ross Perot, Jr., a Silent Circle investor notes,

“As the nature and volume of data breaches increase, institutional trust is eroding. There are companies that have been hacked and there are those that don’t know about it yet, which means that security in the traditional sense has failed us.  With the number of employees connecting to an enterprises’ network using their own devices rapidly rising, organizations need a different solution. In short, in a post-Sony and Gemalto world, security breaches have been made both enterprise and personal so it’s no longer an issue affecting just the boardroom.”

Silent Circle is planning to be at MWC 2015 next week and will likely reveal more information about their plans go forward. One question that may be answered is whether Geeksphone will continue to supply Blackphone hardware even though they are no longer a partner to the venture.

source: TechCrunch

Come comment on this article: Silent Circle buys out partner, raises funds in push to serve secure enterprise market

26
Feb

Smartflash Hits Apple With Second Lawsuit After Winning $533 Million Verdict


itunesiconJust one day after Apple was ordered to pay a $532.9 million settlement to Smartflash LLC for infringing upon its patented technologies, the Texas-based patent licensing firm has sued the Cupertino-based company a second time over the same patents (via Reuters). The new lawsuit covers Apple products that were introduced after the original case was filed, including the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2.

“Smartflash filed the complaint to address products that came out too far into the last proceedings to have been included,” Smartflash’s attorney, Brad Caldwell, told Reuters on Thursday. “Apple cannot claim they don’t know about these patents or understand that they are infringing. A diligent jury has already rejected those arguments.”

The new lawsuit was filed in the same Tyler, Texas district court on Wednesday night, only hours after a federal jury found Apple guilty in the original trial. Apple plans to appeal the decision in the original lawsuit under the belief that the patents are invalid. The patented technologies relate to digital rights management for downloaded songs, videos and games.

“Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented,” said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman. “We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system.”

Smartflash LLC fits the definition of a so-called “patent troll,” which is generally considered to be a company that licenses patents but does not sell any products or services based on the inventions. The small company has also filed similar lawsuits against Samsung Electronics, Google and Amazon in recent months over the same patents. The new lawsuit against Apple was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.



26
Feb

Avatron Launches ‘Air Display 3’ for iOS With New USB Connection Option [iOS Blog]


Avatron, the company behind popular secondary display app Air Display 2 today launched an updated version of the software, Air Display 3. Like Air Display 2, Air Display 3 allows users to turn their iPads, iPhones, or iPod touches into secondary displays for their computers, but Air Display 3 has an important new feature — an option to connect an iOS device to a computer over USB.

Previous iterations of AirDisplay have been forced to work over WiFi (which made using AirDisplay laggy and unreliable) because for a long time, Apple rejected apps that used a USB connection. Apple relaxed its policies on apps accessing USB earlier this year when it approved Duet Display, paving the way for apps like AirDisplay to incorporate the same technology for more solid connections that cut down on lag.

airdisplay3
In our limited testing, AirDisplay 3 used over USB worked well, with little lag, and its performance was comparable to Duet Display. There’s still an option to connect over WiFi if USB is not available, but using WiFi was considerably more unreliable with a lot more of a delay when attempting to perform tasks.

In addition to USB support, Air Display 3 has also gained features from Avatron’s Air Stylus app, which is being retired. Air Stylus was designed to allow people to use their iPads as pressure sensitive wireless drawing tablets in conjunction with Mac or PC-based computers, and that capability has been added to Air Display 3.

We’re retiring our Air Stylus iOS app and we’ve rolled all of its awesome features into Air Display 3. Now you can draw with your favorite pressure-sensitive stylus directly into a Mac app like Photoshop or Motion. In Air Display 3, we’ve added support for all of the latest styluses. And on iOS 8, you don’t even need a stylus: just tilt your finger to simulate pressure changes.

Air Display 3 also gains support for pinch and zoom gestures, and according to the release notes, its WiFi features have been sped up as well. Older features like multiple monitor support (for up to four iPads), a keyboard, HiDPI options, and touch gestures are also available.

Air Display 3, which is a new app and not an upgrade from AirDisplay 2, can be downloaded from the iOS App Store for $14.99. [Direct Link]

Users will also need to download a free Mac app from the Avatron website to connect their iOS devices to their Macs. For the time being, Air Display 3 is only compatible with Macs running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and above, but Avatron has plans to add Windows support in the future.



26
Feb

Google’s Sundar Pichai Discusses Search Partnership With Apple and iPhone 6 Success


SundarGoogle’s Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Google Apps, recently spoke about his company’s relationship with Apple in an in-depth interview with Forbes. The executive discussed a few topics related to Apple, including the impact of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on the high-end smartphone market and Google’s long-standing search partnership with Apple that is rumored to be up in the air.

Questioned about the possibility of Apple ditching Google as the default search engine on iOS, Pichai did not appear worried and remains committed to building a product that users need. Google renewed its search partnership with Apple in 2010, although the contract is reportedly set to expire this year and there has been increasing speculation that Apple is considering a number of options. Both Microsoft and Yahoo have reportedly courted Apple to become the default search engine for Safari in the past.

Q: Your relationship with Apple is complicated. How concerned are you that you may lose them as a search partner on iOS?

A: There are areas with Apple in which we have always collaborated. We have had a long term search partnership. We work closely with them in areas like YouTube. When I look at search, largely the evolution depends on “are we bulding something which users need?” If we are building something that users need and there is a lot of value we are driving, I think how search manifests in iOS will work out just fine. We have a long term search partnership and are working together with them, and we’ll have to see.

Pichai also reflected on how Google expected the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to do very well for Apple, adding that Android is healthy both overall and in the high-end market. He adds that Android is building upon the momentum of one billion devices shipped and believes both Google and Apple are doing well as the smartphone industry continues to evolve.

Q: There’s a perception that as Samsung is going through some challenges, Apple is regaining share at the high end. Do you see that in the numbers?

A: Share is tough to assess. There is a lot of noise. Based on what we see things are healthy overall globally including the high end. Apple obviously has done very well with iPhone 6 and 6 plus, but we always expected that. We knew this would be a big upgrade cycle for them. To me looking at the momentum of having shipped a billion devices, people even on the high reporting high loyalty rates across Android, I haven’t seen anything to be concerned about. The bigger story here is a growing pie. All of us are doing well.

The full-length interview goes into more detail about the state of Google, touching upon a number of products and services such as Android, Nest, Google Wallet, Google Hangouts, Google Shopping Express and the Play Store. Pichai also reflects on competitors in various spaces, including Amazon in e-commerce and WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger in messaging.



26
Feb

Sony confirms Xperia Z4 tablet will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress


Sony_Xperia_Z4_Tablet_Tease_MWC_2014

A couple of days ago, Sony mistakenly or on purpose outed the Xperia Z4 tablet in their Xperia Lounge app. The immediate assumption was that we would see it at Mobile World Congress next week, and Sony has confirmed it. In a Tweet a little while ago, Sony said, “Slimmer. Lighter. Brighter. All will be revealed on 02.03.15. #Xperia #SonyMWC.”

Now they could be referring to the often rumored Xperia Z4 phone, but highly unlikely. Expect it to be the Xperia Z4 tablet since Sony isn’t expected to release another flagship phone so quickly.

On top of it being very thinner, lighter, and brighter, we do expect it to have a Quad HD (2560 x 1600) display. Other than that, we will have to wait until March 2 to find out.

Come comment on this article: Sony confirms Xperia Z4 tablet will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress

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