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Samsung, Apple Kick Off Round Eleventy in Patent Fight
December 10, 2014
Apple and Samsung last week squared off again in court over their long-running patent dispute. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard Samsung's appeal of the $930 million in damages a district court awarded to Apple for patent infringement, following a trial in 2012 and a retrial in 2013. "Samsung never wanted this fight," said Fosspatents' Florian Mueller.
NSA's Auroragold Mining Operation
December 10, 2014
The United States National Security Agency, which is known for monitoring landline, Web and cellphone communications worldwide, reportedly also targets wireless carriers. Documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA has monitored more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators worldwide since 2010.
No One Has Privacy Now, Thanks to Super Cookies
December 10, 2014
Does anyone really think that we have any privacy? Probably not. Between GPS tracking and our favorite app, most of us gave up on privacy long ago. Some privacy advocates claim that cell carriers have not been transparent about what personal data they have been gathering and using, although we now know that in order to use a cellular device, we must agree to give it away.
Samsung Offers Cool Gear VR Headset but Content Is MIA
December 09, 2014
Samsung on Monday began offering what may best be described as the "alpha version" of its Gear VR headset, developed by Oculus, in the U.S. This Gear VR Innovator Edition works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and is priced at $200. The headset comes with sample gaming and experiential content such as the dungeon exploration adventure HeroBound and the space shooter Anshar Wars.
Hackers Derail Sony's PlayStation Network
December 09, 2014
Still reeling from a cyberintrusion that exposed massive amounts of personnel data from its entertainment division on the Internet, Sony was attacked again over the weekend. This time, hackers disrupted the company's PlayStation Network. However, unlike the foray against Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is still under investigation, the company quickly recovered.
Uber Lurches Down Rocky Road
December 08, 2014
An Uber driver in New Delhi has been arrested on charges of raping his passenger, prompting authorities there to ban the service from operating within city limits. Meanwhile, the Netherlands' Commercial Appeals Court has issued a preliminary judgment that Uber must stop working with drivers who lack a taxi license but charge passengers fares for rides.
Video Gamers Recall 'Father' Ralph Baer's Extraordinary Legacy
December 08, 2014
Ralph H. Baer, the father of the home video game, died Saturday at 92. Baer invented the Odyssey video game system and co-invented the electronic game Simon. While working as a military contractor for Sanders Associates in the '60s, Baer began to explore the possibility of creating a video game system that could be played on the television. The result of his work was the "Brown Box."
Google Sets Its Sights on the Under-12 Set
December 08, 2014
Google soon will begin targeting kids 12 and under with tailored versions of its products, likely including its search functionality, along with offerings such as YouTube and Chrome. The company is pushing to change make its products fun and safe for children, Pavni Diwanji, Google vice president of engineering, said last week. The new initiative reportedly will begin next year.
An iPod Moment Is About to Make Your PC Obsolete
December 08, 2014
I was at Dell's thin client briefing earlier this week at its new facility in California's Silicon Valley, and it clearly is feeling very confident, in light of HP's plan to split its company. There really have been only two major players in the thin client space for a few years, and they are HP and Dell, but HP's split would seem to make its offering obsolete.
Gadget Ogling: Seeing E-Ink Everywhere, Breathing Easy and Brewing Beer
December 06, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, and set aside that last leftover-turkey sandwich for a short while as we explore the murky landscape of freshly announced gadgets. On the menu in our post-Thanksgiving edition are a pair of e-ink smart devices, wearables with a health focus, an intelligent home brewing kit, a kitschy kitchen product, and perhaps the most useless item we've included in this column to date.
Apple Doesn't Need No Stinking Streaming Media Stick!
December 05, 2014
In the first three quarters of 2014, the Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV made stunning gains in sales activity versus the market-leading Roku and the No. 2 device from 2012 and 2013, the Apple TV. Roku snapped up 29 percent of sales, while Google Chromecast rose to claim 20 percent, edging past the Apple TV's 17 percent. The Amazon Fire TV, which launched in April, is already in fourth place.
PS4 May Deliver Street Fighter V's First Punch
December 05, 2014
A trailer leaked on Friday indicates that Capcom's biggest upcoming title, Street Fighter V, will be an exclusive for Sony's PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. Many video games arrive as "timed exclusives," though, and eventually make their way to other systems. Given the importance of the brand to Capcom, it is unlikely that the company would forever limit it to just the PS4 and PC.
Orion's Test Flight Triumph Fuels Mars Hopes
December 05, 2014
NASA's Orion spacecraft on Friday successfully completed its first test flight, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California at 8:29 a.m. PST after orbiting the Earth twice in roughly four and a half hours. Orion traveled some 60,000 miles during the mission and journeyed 3,600 miles into space -- 15 times more distant than the International Space Station.
Hawking Sounds Alarm Over AI's End Game
December 05, 2014
Artificial intelligence eventually could bring about mankind's demise, according to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. "Once humans develop [full] artificial intelligence, it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate," he said. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."
Apple Accused of Secretly Snuffing Non-iTunes Music Purchases
December 04, 2014
Apple for two years surreptitiously removed from iPods any music not purchased at its iTunes store, prosecutors charged Wednesday in federal court. The accusations surfaced during the trial of a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit claiming Apple violated federal and state laws when it issued iPod software updates that prevented the devices from playing songs not purchased on iTunes.
Apple Fights Yesteryear's iTunes DRM War
December 03, 2014
Apple this week clomped into court to continue fighting a nearly 10-year-old class-action suit stemming from its use of digital rights management technology in iPods. The suit originally was brought in 2005. Both sides' lawyers have filed dozens of trial documents in several hearings. The courts have dismissed some of the items in the original complaint, but have refused to dismiss the case.
Amazon Gears Up Its Well-Oiled Holiday Machine
December 02, 2014
Amazon on Monday announced its deployment of 15,000 robots as part of the highly automated systems in place at all 10 of its eighth-generation fulfillment centers across the United States. The systems reportedly have cut cycle times from an hour or more to less than 15 minutes and eliminated the need for aisles. This lets Amazon store 50 percent more items per square foot.
High Court Hears Arguments in Facebook Threat Case
December 02, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in "the Facebook threat case," which centers on a number of threats posted in the form of rap lyrics to a Facebook page created by Anthony Elonis. The targets of the threats were his estranged wife and an FBI agent. Elonis was convicted on four of five counts of making threatening statements in violation of federal law.
The Madness of the ITC, Part 2: Is Its Reach Exceeding Its Grasp?
December 02, 2014
The U.S. Trade International Trade Commission has broad investigative powers on matters of trade, gathering and analyzing trade data, and providing it to the White House and Congress to help formulate U.S. international trade policies. Its statutory authority is based on legislation that is 20 or more years old, and consequently does not address issues in the digital age.
Intel Gives Google Glass a Big Break
December 01, 2014
Google reportedly has teamed up with Intel to target the corporate market with its Glass eyewear, and it will use an Intel processor in the next iteration of the device instead of the Texas Instruments chip it now uses. The partnership makes sense, given that Glass has failed to make much headway in the consumer market. "It's a major coup for Google to get Intel," said tech analyst Ronald Gruia.
Cyber Monday Brings Sweet Deals for Video Gamers
December 01, 2014
A batch of great online deals on Cyber Monday, on the heels of strong Black Friday sales at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, could make Microsoft's Xbox One video game system the big winner in the run-up to the holidays. The video game console headed into its second holiday season in second place to Sony's PlayStation 4, but Microsoft has introduced a number of bundles to draw in gamers.
The Madness of the ITC, Part 1: The Invisalign Case
December 01, 2014
The United States International Trade Commission in May issued its final ruling in what has come to be known colloquially as "the Invisalign case." It held that under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, the digital files could be considered an article. That sparked a discussion in the legal community, an appeal against the ruling, and amicus curiae filings in support of that appeal.
What If Jaguar and Tesla Merged?
December 01, 2014
OK, I know you are just back from Thanksgiving vacation, if you are in the U.S., and you likely are still stewing about what your drunk uncle said during dinner. So, since you probably are in the mood, I thought I'd toss out an idea that has been percolating in my brain that I plan to annoy folks with at my Thanksgiving dinner: What if Jaguar and Tesla merged?
Amazon Goes Into the Handyman Business
November 25, 2014
Amazon on Tuesday began rolling out Amazon Local Services, which lets customers purchase professional assistance for setup, installation and repair work. Service providers will be covered by Amazon's guarantee. They will be licensed and insured, and they will have to pass a background check. The idea initially is to tie Amazon purchases to recommended service providers.

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