Category Archives: Todays Story

Nokia to Sue Apple

Finland’s mobile phone giant Nokia is planning to sue Apple for their failure to pass on royalties from their sales of the immensely popular iPhone.

Apple are said to have infringed upon Nokia’s mobile phone technology patents when developing the iPhone.

How much Nokia will be seeking has not yet been confirmed, but expert analyst Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray predicts that Nokia will seek 1-2% from every iPhone that is sold.

Over 30 million have been sold to date which would generate between $6 and $12 per iPhone, potentially totalling $400m.

Apple has recently announced third quarter profits of £1bn with the iPhone delivering a 7% growth, having to pass on 1-2% of its iPhone royalties would be relatively insignificant.

On the other hand, Nokia revealed a loss for the last quarter due to a downturn in sales; the first in a decade.

Nokia has confirmed agreements with approximately 40 companies, which included the majority of mobile phone handset makers, allowing the use of its technological advancements, but Apple had not signed the agreement.

Ilkka Rahnasto, vice-president of legal and intellectual property at Nokia explained, “the basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for.”

“Apple is also expected to follow this principle.”

Mr Rahnasto went on to say, that Nokia has actually invested over £36bn on research and development in the past two decades.

Highly respected Apple expert Mr Munster has confessed that a sum of $12 per phone was “unlikely,” but if Nokia did manage to prise such a high figure out of Apple, it “would not change our positive thesis on the iPhone and Apple.” He went on to add, that “ultimately, the resolution is uncertain.”

The BBC sought further information from Apple, but a spokesman for the technology giant revealed that the company didn’t comment on pending litigation.

Nokia have alleged a total of 10 patent infringements, applying to all models from the iPhone range since its 2007 launch. Some of the patents that have been allegedly breeched include wireless data technology, speech coding, encryption and security. Nokia went on to accuse Apple of “trying to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation.”

Microsoft Releases ‘Faster’ Windows

The brand new Windows 7 operating system (OS) is set to deliver “better battery life and quicker boot times,” according to Microsoft and Intel.

The statement was made during a press conference in San Fransisco, where engineers gave the new OS a stringent test.

Microsoft will be expecting Windows 7 to avoid the negative exposure generated through the release of Windows Vista, and joined Intel in saying they have never worked as closely and have released a product that “they are proud of”.

Mike Angiulo from Microsoft told the BBC, “we both made a larger investment than ever before on the engineer side to improve on the hardware and software.”

Collectively known by some as Wintel, the two companies began the day after Windows Vista was released over two years ago and used hundreds of engineers in the process of development.

Steve Smith, the vice president at Intel’s digital enterprise group “we have spent 20 years getting to know each other and have businesses that are very well aligned.”

Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat, the popular internet technology blog, believed that Windows Vista needed drastic improvement.

He went on to say, “the collaboration was in the name of making Windows 7 better and more bug-free than the January 2007 launch of Windows Vista, which was broadly criticised in the industry and was one of the best advertisements for buying a Mac in history.”

Engineers have looked into the technological advances made by Microsoft and Intel, such as improved energy efficiency, security and performance.

One demonstration involved two identical Lenovo T400 laptops playing the same video, one using the Windows 7 OS and the other using Vista. Microsoft reported that the machine that ran Windows 7 experienced a 20% improvement in power efficiency due to “timer coalescing,” a design that extends battery life by holding the processor in low power states.

Ruston Panabaker, Microsoft’s head programme manager wouldn’t comment on how much battery power Windows 7 would save computers, stating “we’re achieving a very significant amount of battery savings.”

Engineers at Microsoft and Intel believe that end performance was dependant upon how manufacturers configured their machines.

Engineers were capable of boot up a system running Windows 7 in just 11 seconds. Intel’s Mr Smith told that “what we showed today was real capability in actual scenarios.”

CNET’s Ina Fried had reported on Microsoft for over 5 years and felt that this was a hurdle that both Microsoft and Intel needed to cross.

Ms Fried insisted, “in order for the computer users to get the benefit of all this work, it’s down to what choices the PC maker makes. It requires them all to be talking to one another all the time.”

“In the Vista time-frame, we saw not necessarily the kind of communication that leads to happy users and I think they have really tried to address that this time.”

“We will see how far they have really got when we see those Windows systems shipping in October.”

Why Microsoft Needs Windows 7 to Succeed

Thursday, 22 October sees the highly anticipated arrival of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, with many believing that the future of the world’s largest software company will depend on its success.

The enormous scale of Microsoft’s grip on the market becomes clear when told of the 90% of computers relying on its Windows operating system, and over 1 billion people using it.

Microsoft’s last financial year saw a £35.7bn turnover with a net profit of approximately £9bn. Over half the profits generated were reliant upon Windows.

Experts have predicted that Microsoft’s stranglehold over the market was due to drop, with competitors Linux and Apple waiting to jump in. Many experts predict that software will be shifted to the “cloud,” where people connect to remote servers to access their software in a revolution to worldwide computing.

Microsoft brought about the attention of regulators at the US Department of Justice and the European Commission with ruthless actions towards competitors.

The release of its Vista operating system 3 years ago rendered many of its first users with unusable hardware and software; a crushing blow and seriously damaged its reputation with software developers and customers alike.

Most people still prefer Windows XP, Vista’s eight-year-old predecessor, with estimates suggesting that Vista has between 18.6% and 35% hold on the market.

Annette Jump, research director at technology firm Gartner, believes that “Vista is the worst-adopted operating system” whilst Microsoft International’s Jean-Philippe Courtois thinks “we don’t feel great about Vista adoption.”

This could be the only chance for Microsoft to regain the confidence that took a blow during the Vista period. Many Microsoft executives feel that they learnt a lot from what went wrong with Vista.

Windows 7 looks set to be released in good time, just 3 years after the release of Vista. Those that have tested it have reported it to be fast, secure, reliable, and easy to use. Microsoft have made big steps to avoid making the mistakes experienced with Vista, and prepared its partners for the release.

Mr Courtois believes that “the Windows ecosystem is the broadest in the world, and we have to take care of that,” with Alex Gruzen from Dell Computers surprised at how “the preparations for Windows 7 have been a remarkable step up from the days of dealing with Vista.”

He continued by revealing that “in the past, Microsoft looked at its operating system in isolation, and gave it to [manufacturers] to do whatever they wanted. Now they collaborate, help to figure out which third-party vendors are slowing down the system, help them improve their code.”

Sidekick Loss Hits T-Mobile Phone Sales

T-Mobile has had to withdraw the Sidekick in America, after being made aware that customers could lose personal data through its server.

The designer of Sidekick’s software, Danger (a subsidiary of Microsoft), confirmed the fault, with the mobile phone industry condemning the issue as one of the biggest failings in recent years.

Microsoft are also coming out of the situation look bad, after promoting cloud or online services as a means of less expensive solution to enterprise storage.

Harry McCracken, editor of Technologizer.com told BBC News “this is the most spectacular loss of data on the web to date.”

“There have been other examples, but always from small companies. For this to involve a big name like Microsoft is a major embarrassment and a big worry for consumers and Microsoft.”

Data back-up

It is understood that Microsoft’s company Danger, experienced a technical hitch which caused major data loss, with Sidekick users seeing disruptions for the past week. Investigations are underway to find the cause of the faulty server, with Microsoft yet to offer an explanation.

Sidekick uses an online service to provide back-up contacts, calendar appointments, photos and other personal information saved to the mobile phone. Some of the one million subscribers to Sidekick have “almost certainly” lost personal data as a result of this glitch according to Microsoft.

Those most at risk of losing their personal information are those who let their battery fully drain or removed it completely, causing all local copies of data to be cleared from the phone.

“I had 411 contacts, now they are all gone. I had five e-mail accounts set up on the phone as well which are also gone, address book and all,” complained 17 year old high-school student Kayla Hasse from New Jersey.

“I am extremely upset not only due to the fact I lost everything, but also because I pay 20 some dollars a month for THIS? It’s ridiculous.”

Mr McCracken feels it’s a “real wake-up call for customers.”

“In the past we have always tended to assume that big companies are better at backing up our data than we are. While this is true in most cases, a lot of people are going to say you can’t trust third parties, whether it’s Microsoft, Google, Apple or whoever.”

The future of cloud computing

Whilst Microsoft and T-Mobile may experience the immediate fall-out from this problem, experts fear that it may cause long term damage to customer confidence in cloud computing.

Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts is concerned. “Microsoft has been beating the drum for the idea of cloud computing where we all trust our stuff on some server up in Washington State,”

“This is going to throw a little cold water on that idea for the moment. Microsoft is going to have to do some explaining and give good assurances that cloud computing is viable and that it won’t lose data in the future, otherwise people won’t trust it.”

IBM starts its Winter Sales

With the economy on a perpetual downslide at the moment, it’s fair to say that company’s aren’t to keen on opening up their cheque books and signing away a heap of cash. However, IBM thinks they can make businesses spend a little extra this year.

The computer giant has devised a few deals that are designed to make customers spend a little bit to ensure IBM makes it through the cold, harsh winter, involving the System p and Power Systems products.

On the Power System side, IBM is well aware that customers who didn’t change over to it Power6-based Power Systems machines back in July 2007, are unlikely to change over now unless they have a desperate space need.

The changeover has been ignored by customers due to the application conversion process that is required when customers change over to i 6.1, and because the earlier i5/OS V5R4M5 sub-release is supported on Power6 iron, customers need to have the conversion to unlock all the features of the Power6 chip.

IBM has got it sussed really. They know that eventually customers who have System p and Power Systems iron installed will have to buy some capacity. These servers support “capacity on demand” processor core activation, and capacity is not cheap – IBM charges quite a bit for old Power5 and Power5+ cores as well as Power6 cores.

The capacity upgrade deal covers System p 570, 590 and 595 systems, which span a range from 2 to 64 processor Power5 or Power5+ cores across the three models, and includes the Power Systems 570 machine, which is based on Power6 processors.

IBM is insisting customers have processor cards installed by November 7th so allow them to take part in the deal, and they have until December 19th to place an order to activate the latent processing capacity.

On the Power6-based 570 box, IBM is currently offering a 45 percent discount off the cost of activation of 3.5, 4.2 and 47GHz Power6 cores.

If by now you are completely unaware of how much all this costs, IBM is selling a processor card with a dual-core Power6 chip, running at 4.7GHz, for $11,500, and to activate each of the cores it’ll cost you a further $23,000 for each one. So when you consider the 45 percent discount, it’s not too bad at all.

For older Power5 and Power5+ servers, IBM’s pricing is a little less per core, making it more appealing for customers to move to the new system. IBM want its customers to upgrade now rather than pushing it further back, which is why they are offering a massive 60 percent discount on System p 570, 590 and 595 machines with 1.65, 1.9, 2.1 or 2.3GHz Power5 cores and 1.9 or 2,2GHz Power5+ cores sitting idle. To get the discount on the p 570 machine, customers have to activate two cores at a time, but on the 590 and 595 machines, they can activate the one at a time.

Esquire Magazine Goes G33k

This is pretty cool. Men’s magazine, Esquire has released the world’s first e-ink publication.

The magazine features a cover that features a small e-ink display that flashes between a “The 21st Century Begins Now” headline and a bunch of images. Check out this video below:

I spoke about this before here, where you can get the technical low-down on the publication, but to let you know (I your too lazy to click that link) the cover is supplied by E-ink, who provide screens for both Sony’s e-Reader and Amazon’s Kindle.

The technology isn’t wirelessly connected, so can’t be updated, however the magazines editor-in-chief, David Granger told the Associated Press that if the technology is used again, it’ll have that feature, allowing content to be updated “post sale”.

Each magazine runs on six batteries, which will last around three and six months. So far there is no confirmed cost for producing the magazines, but with 100,000 copies at $6 a go, they’ll make it back in no time.

This should get tongue’s wagging

Georgia Tech researchers have developed a tongue-powered system that could transform a disabled person’s mouth in to a virtual computer that uses teeth as a keyboard.

“You could have full control over your environment by just being able to move your tongue,” said Maysam Ghovanloo, a Georgia Tech assistant professor who leads the team’s research.

The aptly named, Tongue Drive System, turns the users tongue in to a joystick, allowing the disabled to manipulate wheelchairs, manage daily house work tasks and to control computers. It’s still in the early stages of development, but things are moving forward.

It’s not the first ever system that uses facial movements to control electronics, but testers of the system believe it could be a break through.

“This could give you an almost infinite number of switches and options for communication,” said Mike Jones, a vice president of research and technology at the Shepherd Centre, an Atlanta rehabilitation hospital. “It’s easy, and somebody could learn an entirely different language.”

This is a significant step up from the handful of systems available to disabled people. The “sip and puff” technique, which lets people issue commands by inhaling and exhaling into a tube, is among the most popular. However, this is limited to just four commands.

Rather than putting a physical keyboard in someone’s mouth, the researchers have developed a virtual keyboard instead. A magnet about 3 millimetres wide is placed under the tip of the tongue, and then the magnet’s movement is tracked by sensors on the side of each cheek, which sends data to a receiver atop a rather bulky set of headgear. It is then processed by software that converts the movement into commands for a wheelchair or other electronics.

When the system is booted up, users are required to establish six commands: Left, right, forward, back, click, and double click.

Ghovanloo he hopes he could one day add dozens more commands that turn teeth into keyboards and cheeks into computer consoles. For example, “Left-up could be turning lights on, right-down could be turning off the TV,” Ghovanloo said.

So far the research has landed the team over $200,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. The next step is to make the system more user friendly. This will involve re-sizing the headset – it currently looks like something from Frankenstein – and to improve battery life, and the size of the individual components.

Ofcom Deregulates the UK Broadband Market

Watchdogs, Ofcom have announced the deregulation of almost 70 percent of he UK wholesale broadband market.

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The plan has already achieved the approval of the European Commission and will see competition-boosting regulatory restrictions lifted in areas of the UK where there are now four or more broadband providers. Although Ofcom have announced the implementation of the move, there will be a 12-month notice period for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who have existing contracts with BT, allowing them to ?continue to operate while they make any necessary alternative arrangements.?

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“BT will be required to continue to offer supply of wholesale broadband access (namely DataStream and IPStream) to all providers which are currently a customer of BT,” the regulator said in a statement. “These providers will however be able to change supply at any time (subject to any restrictions in their contracts with BT). In addition, they can seek to negotiate continued supply with BT beyond the expiration of the transitional measures i.e. beyond 12 months’ time.”

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Ofcom’s statement added that it “would not expect these providers to be subject to any unreasonable price rises or service degradation over the period”.

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The rules that have been lifted in the affected areas will force BT to offer wholesale broadband at a capped price to other operators, to allow them to enter the market in a competitive way.

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However, Ofcom made it clear in the statement that there are still many area?s of the UK where one broadband provider is described as having, “significant market power” because it has no effective competition.

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“Where there is less competition and where a company still has significant market power, Ofcom will maintain regulation designed to promote retail competition,” the statement read. “This requires BT and KCOM, in Hull, to provide a wholesale product to other providers on a fair and reasonable basis, thus allowing these providers to offer retail services.”

Is Your ISP Spying On You?

ISP SpiesWhile it has long been suspected that ISP were able to spy on their customers and collect data about their internet usage, it seems that a number of surfers around the world have actually caught their ISPs in the act. So what are the regulations?

The regulations for internet usage are very much stacked in favour of the ISPs and the companies whom they sell your data on to. So long as the data is not able to identify the person or persons using the system then many in the industry claim that this does not break any regulations or any laws. However, there is a growing ground swell of opinion which suggests that the surfing information which the ISPs collect from you can actually be traced directly back to you, and they can see who you are.

Not only is this deemed illegal in many countries of the world, but it opens up internet surfers to fraud and blackmail. There is also the chance that the Police may well decide to use the ISP option in the future in order to track suspects ? whether they are guilty of crimes or not.

While there is no person in their right mind who would argue against using the internet to find those who commit a range of heinous crimes, we are slowly seeing our privacy eroded and left open to abuse. Just lately we have seen local councils in the UK charged with using laws which were designed to protect us from terrorists, to follow and monitor people accused of ?crimes? such as dropping litter via CCTV cameras.

If the local councils of the UK are happy to ?piggyback? the use of CCTV cameras for ?other ? uses, then what is to stop them hacking into your computer and checking your surfing habits without your knowledge?

Should The Police Be Using The Internet To Fight Crime?

D'ohWe recently heard news that Police in Manchester have become one of the first to set-up a page on social networking site Facebook, with the intention of catching more criminals and fighting crime. However, there seems to be a growing feeling that there are risks with this approach with some not sure that it is the correct route to take. Will cyber police ever really take off?

Before we get into the reasons for and against the proposed service, let us not forget that the authorities are already snooping on our phone calls, our emails and in many case our post. The fact that there will actually be a ?physical? presence online now is probably a little bit of a red herring. But will it work?

As we all know, from 10 years old up to 110 years old, the internet is taking more and more of a hold on our daily lives, our daily routines and in many cases is taking over our lives! There are very few houses in the UK which do not have an internet connection with users aged from the early years up to later years. What better way to try and grab the attention of the masses when crimes are committed and criminals are on the loose?

In a perfect world the internet is the type of tool which will definitely make the public more aware of what is going on and give them their very own ?cyber police station? to visit when required. However, there is also the problem of mistakes which can and do happen…..

Can you imagine if your face or your name was mistakenly shown on the police Facebook page for a crime(s) you did not commit? Can you imagine if you mistakenly became involved in some investigation into crimes against children?

The internet can and will help the police, but there need to be strong safeguards in place to ensure that errors and mistakes are kept to an absolute minimum!