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Court Sticks It to Apple in $533M Patent Case
February 25, 2015
Apple must pay patent licensing firm Smartflash US$532.9 million for infringing three patents. U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who presided over the case in Tyler, Texas, ordered Apple to pay the penalty after a federal jury in Texas found that the company's iTunes software infringed on the patent holder. That jury took eight hours to decide Apple willfully used Smartflash's patents without consent.
Net Neutrality: All Over but the Shouting?
February 25, 2015
After well over a year of bitter, often highly partisan debates, and despite dissension within its ranks and opposition from industry groups, the United States Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to vote in favor of rules enforcing Net neutrality. The commission wants to regulate ISPs like common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
Volvo Talks Up Its Self-Driving Cars
February 25, 2015
Volvo last week revealed the latest developments in its Drive Me project, showing off a complete system that could make it possible to integrate self-driving cars into regular traffic with drivers behind the wheel. Volvo is making progress toward its goal of releasing 100 self-driving vehicles to consumers on selected roads around Gothenburg -- Sweden's second largest city -- by 2017.
Valve To Put Steam Behind VR Efforts With New Headset
February 25, 2015
Valve on Monday announced that it's getting into the virtual reality hardware business. In a terse tease posted to the Web, the company trumpeted its intentions to reveal its SteamVR hardware system next week at the 2015 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Valve also announced that it is looking for developers and publishers to create content for its new VR hardware system.
Open Source vs. Proprietary Firms on the IoT Battleground
February 25, 2015
A battle is brewing over control of the Internet of Things marketplace. Consumers see only convenience and extensions to their always-on mobile devices. Product makers see a pathway to streaming data that can be monetized from buyers' connections. Will history repeat itself, as open source begins to take on the current, yet unsustainable, walled-garden core of the IoT?
FTC, Private Sector Lock Horns Over Consumer Data Protection
February 25, 2015
The major headline hacking event of 2014 involved data theft at a highly visible enterprise: Sony Pictures. Perhaps just as significant in e-commerce security was a 2014 federal court ruling which allows the FTC to continue penalizing commercial firms for failure to protect consumer data from hackers. That decision has been challenged, and in early March the FTC and its opponent will square off in court.
Google Pads Its Wallet
February 24, 2015
Google on Monday announced a two-pronged thrust to beef up its efforts in the mobile wallet arena. It has struck agreements with Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile to preinstall the Google Wallet app, including its tap-and-pay functionality, on Android phones the carriers will offer later this year in the United States. The devices must run KitKat or later.
Pebble Makes Big Ripples on Kickstarter
February 24, 2015
The money is pouring into Pebble's Kickstarter campaign for its new smartwatch, Pebble Time. Within hours, upwards of 27,000 supporters had pledged more than $5.6 million. The project's goal was to raise a mere $500,000. The strength of the response highlights the enthusiastic fan base Pebble has built. "Pebble Time appears to be yet another blockbuster," said tech analyst Ryan Martin.
Apple to Sink $1.9B in Green Data Centers in Europe
February 24, 2015
Apple on Monday announced a plan to build two new data centers in Europe -- one in Ireland and the other in Denmark. Apple plans to spend $1.9 billion on the project -- its largest European investment to date. The new facilities will power its online services including the iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri. The project will create hundreds of new jobs.
How Apple Will Sell a Watch That No One Really Needs
February 24, 2015
There has been a lot of discussion lately of where and how Apple will sell the Apple Watch -- through high-end luxury department stores in Paris, for example, or through special new displays inside of Apple Stores, guided into existence by fashion genius Angela Ahrendts. Finding new ways to present the watch is important, but how will Apple actually trigger a buy decision?
Citizenfour's Oscar Highlights National Divide Over Snowden
February 24, 2015
Citizenfour, a film documenting interviews director Laura Poitras conducted with whistle-blower Edward Snowden, won the Oscar for best documentary Sunday. The talks took place as Snowden blew the lid off the United States National Security Agency's surveillance activities. The award highlights the divisions in the U.S. over Snowden's actions and the question of national security.
The Apple/Tesla Dream Team
February 23, 2015
We've seen a lot of speculation this week on the Apple car -- everything from Apple building its own car from scratch to its buying or merging with Tesla. Like many, I think the best path would be an Apple/Tesla combination, but since I doubt Tim would want to work for Musk or Musk for Tim, the only real option would be an office of the CEO for both firms.
Gadget Ogling: Jewelry Gets Inky, Toys Get Brilliant, Remotes Get Beautiful
February 21, 2015
L!ber8's Tago Arc is aimed at the fashion conscious or those who like to use their jewelry to tell the world a little more about themselves. It has an e-ink screen, which is controlled using an NFC-enabled smartphone -- sorry, iPhone owners -- to let wearers switch up the design on the fly. Ordinary users can purchase a variety of looks, while budding Stella McCartneys can create their own.
Google Rails Against Proposal to Give Feds Remote Hacking Authority
February 20, 2015
Google is fighting a proposed amendment to Rule 41 of the U.S. Criminal Code that might allow authorities to hack into computers abroad. The amendment seeks to empower a magistrate in a district where activities related to a crime may have occurred to issue a warrant for remote search of computers, as well as seizure or copying of their files, under certain circumstances.
A123 Lawsuit Asserts Apple in Cahoots With Its Ex-Engineer
February 20, 2015
Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems earlier this week filed a lawsuit against Apple in a Massachusetts Superior Court in Middlesex County. A123 also sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop its former employee, Mujeeb Ijaz, from violating his non-disclosure and non-compete agreement. Ijaz had moved to Apple to apply his skills as an auto-battery engineer.
Video Game Preservation: An Impossible Dream?
February 20, 2015
Fuel Industries last year sought to find the long-rumored cache of buried E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video games, made for the Atari 2600 in the early 1980s. Surplus copies of E.T. -- a notoriously bad gaming experience -- were dumped in a landfill after failing to sell. By burying its shame, Atari hoped to wipe the title from the gaming community's collective consciousness.
LoopPay Deal Rolls Samsung Into Mobile Pay Arena
February 19, 2015
Samsung has purchased mobile payments firm LoopPay to create its own digital wallet. LoopPay's contactless magnetic secure transmission technology works with magnetic stripe readers. "The one major advantage LoopPay/Samsung has over NFC and Google/Apple Pay is that currently it does not require a separate terminal to accept payments," noted Copper Mobile's Andrew Stern.
Solving for the Customer
February 19, 2015
You'd probably take umbrage at the notion of a weak human, and rightly so, because in business you have to be able to play with the team you have, not the one you wish for. So for business purposes, let's think in terms of empowered humans, since we always want to empower our employees to do great things -- at least we should.
Azure Machine Learning Aims to Convert Data to Information
February 19, 2015
Microsoft has announced new data services running on its Azure cloud in a bid to bring big data to the mainstream. Those services include the HDInsight Apache Hadoop-based service; Storm on HDInsight, which lets users use Hadoop and Storm to create distributed, real-time data processing solutions in Azure; and Azure Machine Learning, a managed cloud service for advanced analytics.
Yandex Asks Russian Authorities to Drop the Hammer on Google
February 18, 2015
Yandex has asked Russia's antitrust authorities to look into whether Google is breaking the country's laws by not allowing preinstallation of third-party services on Android devices. Three smartphone vendors told Yandex last year that they couldn't install its search engine as the default, the company claimed. Yandex is seeking to have the Android OS unbundled from Google Search.
Apple Awarded Patent for Hybrid VR Headset
February 18, 2015
Apple has been awarded a patent for a virtual reality headset that can use an iPhone or iPod as a display. Patent number 8,957,835 was awarded by the USPTO to Apple for a "head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display." The abstract describes a device similar to the Gear VR, which weds a Samsung Note smartphone to a headpiece designed by Oculus.
Gadget Ogling: An On-the-Go Digital Safe, a Portable Power Plant and a Gimmicky Ghost Buster
February 18, 2015
Welcome to a new edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, your weekly guide to the best and worst of gadgets that have just rolled off the production line for the first time or have the proverbial ink still drying on their press releases. On our conveyor belt this week are a gas-powered portable charger, a clever key fob, a flash drive for secret keepers and a pocket ghost detector.
Sony Gets Glassy-Eyed
February 17, 2015
Sony's SmartEyeglass Developer Edition SED-E1 will be available generally next month in the United States, the UK, Germany and Japan. The smart glasses -- Sony's first -- also will be released in March to business customers in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. Sony's SmartEyeglass, priced at $840, resembles a regular pair of eyeglasses with a sporty black frame design.
It's Time to Investigate Cyber Insurance
February 17, 2015
Almost every day there are reports of cyberintrusions, attacks and related security breaches. If your company does not have the right insurance, it could be even more of a disaster. What company can afford not to have insurance for a potential cyberdisaster? Let's look at some protective measures that can be taken to safeguard your business.

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